Being as this is the first one of these I’m writing I’ll take a moment to say that I’m not going to tell you shit about myself. Not gonna to do it. Don’t see a point in it. What you need to know about me you’ll figure out in time. And it’s really about the whiskey, am I right?
So let’s get to it.
The lovely Shelby, an intoxicating and mysterious though somewhat transient barmaid friend of mine who knows I seek unusual whiskeys, suggested some months ago I try a bar in San Antonio called 1919. I’ve been a few times now. It’s in the Blue Star Complex in Southtown, but it’s not easy to find since they fancy themselves something of a speakeasy. So there’s no sign. Look for red lights and a basement entry. You’ll figure it out.
I dropped by on a Wednesday. Early. Like 5pm. 1919 is a righteous bar, but the people there on the weekends are for shit. And God help you if you show up on First Friday, which is this artsy-fartsy festival thing. The bar will be filled with poseurs, asshats, and kombucha-chugging fancy-boys, all crowding around asking for cocktails and pouring perfectly good whiskey over ice, which is a goddam shame, as I’m sure you know.
The bartenders know their shit though, when it comes to whiskey. And their collection is about as good as you’ll find in San Antonio. Four pages in their menu just for whiskey. They have everything. They got one fancy whiskey that’s $1500 a pour; I shit you not. If you buy that you’re a fuckin’ moron and everyone knows it.
The 5pm crowd – typically sullen and droopy middle-aged men like myself sobbing into their cups – is just what I’m looking for. That crowd usually keeps to themselves. But this one guy – drinking his whiskey neat so I guess he thought he was some kind of badass – cozied up and started with the chitchat. He didn’t take the hint from my brooding and stubborn silence, so I lifted my black eye patch and stared at him. He scooted on down the bar to make some other people miserable.
Trust me. You don’t want to see what’s under my patch.
I waved a finger at one of the bartenders, Beardy McManbun, and asked for a recommendation. Ole Beardy suggested Teeling, which is an Irish Whiskey, so I turned him down on principle. But he kept pushing so I tried it.
And got damn if I didn’t like it.
Teeling is an Irish Whiskey that doesn’t suck. That should perk up your ears. Sorry Ireland. I love your wee people, your Blarney Stone and what have you, but I’m not a fan of your whiskey. Most Irish Whiskey is blended, triple-distilled, and made with unmalted barley. That’s how you end up with piss-yellow whiskey that sits in your mouth dry humping your tongue while you squint and try to figure out what the hell is going on in there.
But not Teeling. This shit is righteous. When you drink Teeling, there’s something light and stingy up front. I don’t know what is, exactly. It’s like a Lebrechaun is in your mouth trying to give birth to a Speyside Scotch. Don’t swallow it too fast though. Give it a few seconds and you’ll find something there. It put me in mind of this perfume my high school girlfriend used to wear. Made me feel like those dark nights when you’re waiting for sleep and SHE comes to your mind. And you know who she is. She is the goddess of desire that haunts your dreams. The one you wish you hadn’t turned away from. The one whose kisses turned your legs to rubber.
That’s Teeling. It brings something lovely and sad to mind. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much Ireland, right?
There’s no boosh at the end. But for chrissakes it’s a goddam Irish Whiskey. Whaddya want? I guess it’s got a little stingy burn when you swallow it. Kind of like a cat licking your throat.
Point is, it’s nice. It’s an Irish Whiskey that’s trying to do something; be something; say something. That’s all I really ask from a whiskey anyway. Do something to me. Even a punch in the face is better than doing nothing.
I drank it. I liked it. I told Beardy “That’s the best fuckin Irish whiskey I’ve had except for maybe Redbreast.” I had that once and loved it. Maybe I’ll write about that one sometime.
Well played, Teeling. Top o’ the fuckin’ morning to you.