Daniel was in San Antonio last week. The Preacher and me, we met up with him at the Esquire, which is this famous bar downtown that all the fancy people go to. The bar itself is about twenty yards long and has a stuffed coyote down at the end of it. No one knows why they have a dead animal on their bar, but that’s another subject for some other sumbitch to write about. What I care about is their whiskey selection, which is kick-fuckin-ass. I spotted that distinctive Octomore bottle jutting up from amongst the other whiskeys like the One World Trade Center.
I grabbed Daniel by the elbow and pointed.
“Fuck me, they got Octomore here.”
“Language!” said The Preacher, though he cusses like a sailor himself and just says that to piss me off. I Ignored him and he moved down the bar to gawk at the coyote.
Daniel glanced at the bottle and then looked at me. “So?”
Daniel never gets excited about whiskey because he lives in a fancy tower and in a magical reality where thousands of people send him whiskey from all over the world so he and Rex can fuck around and drink whiskey and blab about this and that and live a life most of us can only imagine.
Not that I’m jealous or anything.
“So? So the last time I had Octomore was at that bar in Dripping Springs when I got my ass handed to me by Deb and Emma.”
He looked at me and blinked a couple of times. Clearly he had no idea what I was talking about. And the ceiling fan was making that chin slinky beard of his flutter in its breeze. I had a hard time not staring at it.
“Do you even read my blog, bro?”
“You have a blog?”
That fucker. He knows I’ve got a goddam blog.
The Preacher was petting the coyote and talking to this woman who looked like she had forty tattoos on each arm. Daniel shouted to him.
“Preacher, you want a whiskey?”
The Preacher didn’t look away from the coyote and carnival lady but he did give us a thumbs up. Daniel waved the bartender over and said, “We’ll take three Octomores. Neat.”
I will confess I’ve been a little nervous about Octomore since my disastrous first experience with it. But I’ve also been itching for a rematch. Here’s the thing about aggressive and challenging whiskeys. You gotta let go of the idea that you’re going to like them the way you like, I don’t know, a sandwich or a cookie or some bullshit like that. Instead, you gotta challenge the whiskey. You gotta get right up in its face for a stare down.
“Is that all you got, whiskey? You hit like a little girl. Jeezus, I might have you for breakfast in the morning with my Post Toasties.”
You gotta bring that kind of attitude to Octomore. That’s what it takes. And that’s what I brought this time. And that’s why I kicked Octomore’s FUCKING ASS. I OWN Octomore now.
What was it like?
I’ll tell you. Because once I stood up to her, Octomore cozied up and told me all her secrets.
And yes, Octomore is a woman.
She’s four times peatier than anything you’ve had. But the good news is, our brains apparently have a limit on how much peat they can process, so really it just seems like a very very very very very peaty whiskey. And you’ll be fine with that because you’re a badass and you’re bringing the right attitude, now that I’ve explained all that to you. Speaking of which, you owe me one.
I mean that literally. If you see me in a bar someday (you’ll recognize me) I expect a dram of something nice.
But here’s the deal. Octomore isn’t done with you after the peat hits you on the front end. You’re going to get that entire Islay thing with Octomore. Sure. The earth, the salt, the peat, the funky flavors that your brain brings to the fore while it tries to figure out what the fuck is happening in your mouth. But Octomore is also 114 proof, so when you swallow it you discover this whiskey does not go down without a fight. And I love that. It’s got an amazing boosh at the end. Octomore is a lovely, wonderful, daring, bold, harsh, fighting, smoky, earthy whiskey that starts out with a bang and ends with an bigger bang.
And she is my girl now.
Daniel and I took a sip and sat with our glasses out in front of us, frozen in contemplation. He broke the silence.
“Aw, shit yeah.”
I just nodded. Nothing more needed to be said.
The Preacher walked over and said, “What are we drinking?”
I touched Daniel’s arm and whispered, “I got this.”
“Preacher, we went cheap. It’s Monkey Shoulder. A light and fruity little whiskey, like something elves would drink in a forest glade. Drink it like a shot. Slam the whole thing down in one go. Daniel and I got a bet going. He says you can do it. I say you can’t.”
You know what happened next. A convulsion of coughing, gasping, snorting hilarity, followed by an explosion of the most delightful string of cuss words I’ve heard in some time. I mean, The Preacher, he is something of a poet. The man can put words together.
I had only one thing to say to him when he was done.