My most common perch in the cigar lounge is at a high-top in the front room. It’s the Gunfighter’s Seat in the room.
I set up my laptop and sometimes even an external full-sized keyboard. I’m beginning to think I literally just sprout wires if I sit in one place long enough. They emit off me in the same strange way cardboard boxes do in my home.
But that puts me in front of the block of lockers they rent out here. So a couple times each day someone walks purposefully behind me brandishing a little key as a gesture to indicate they’re not doing anything threatening. My brain still goes on high alert.
I make what is now a show of scootching my chair up which has, every, single, time, elicited the phrase “Oh you’re fine.”
Well, today I got set up with my (first) Diet Dr. Pepper, cigar, headphones, and a guy walked past and after the perfunctory exchange he pointed over my face at my soda and said “Want a shot of Angel’s Envy with that?”
I took off my headphones (I hadn’t cued up my playlist yet) “Sorry?” My spider sense was tingling. He was a friendly guy, but…he’s…off in a way I can’t quite place.
“You want some Angel’s Envy in that?” And he showed me the bottle.
“IN it? God man, that’s good stuff. I wouldn’t do that to good whiskey.”
“Well you just want a shot then? I got this bottle for Christmas.” Sure enough the bottle said “Christmas 2020″ on the front. Nice gesture. Go up and get a little glass from Rick.”
I walked up to the front and procured a couple red solo cups from Rick and brought them back. He poured his own then handed me the bottle, which was surprising. I poured a good deal less than a shot, quite keen not to abuse his kindness yet not abuse his kindness.
He pumped his right arm like he was making an armpit fart and said, quite too loudly “Nee nee nee!” and looked at me expectantly.
“Man, I don’t think I’ve seen that since then.” I’ve never seen Easy Rider.
He proceeds to describe Jack Nicholson always doing that when he drank whiskey.
“Oh, riiighhht.” blink blink
“So yeah, whenever I have a hit of whiskey I just….Nee nee nee!” I nodded approvingly, struggling to get the ‘Dude are…you okay?’ off my face. But evidently failing.
About a decade ago, give or take, I was in a liquor store in upstate NY, looking for a bottle of whiskey and I’d wandered over to the bourbon section. A couple kids were stocking the shelves and one of them said “Damn, we’ve only got one bottle of Angel’s Envy left.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna pick that up after I get off.”
“Yeah, it’s so good.”
Now in what, looking back, may not have been my finest moment I said, “Gentlemen, you fucked up.”
“Huh?” They looked at each other confused.
“I’ve been looking for something to drink and you’ve just sold me on this bottle.”
“No man, go ‘head. We work here.”
I picked it up and started walking to the register. Behind me I heard… “shit.”
Angel’s Envy is what I’ll call “a great beginner’s bourbon.” It’s smooth, a little fruity, and pretty easy to drink. And, seeing as how I’m not really much of a bourbon guy (I find it generally ‘tries too hard’. Scotch > Rye > Bourbon) it’s really the one I go to (along with Blantons and Woodford.)
I sniffed the cup a bit took what looked like a deep drink and just had a little sip. Smoother than I remember…a LOT smoother than I remember.
“Damn, man. That’s good stuff. Thanks very much man. This day is looking up already!”
“Nee nee nee!”
He turned and took a couple steps off and I sank the rest of the shot.
It was watered down by more than half.
A couple minutes later…
“Hey, you need a little nee nee nee?” He came back with another guy with a solo cup.
“No thanks man, I’m good. In the immortal words of Blake Shelton, ‘the more I drink, the more I drink.'”
“Hey you sure you didn’t pee in this?” the other guy joked, looking at the bottle. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this color.” Ah HA! Not my imagination.
“Here, pour what you want.” He said and handed the other guy the bottle.
“You sure?” He was still looking at it with his brow scrunched. “This is awfully amber.” He poured pretty deeply then they walked away.
“Hmm…what should I write ab…ah. Heh.”