A Slug of the Good Stuff


While in New York City for a speaking gig at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, I did what many a visitor from the provinces does: I ate dinner in a fancy restaurant. Perry Street, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten enterprise, met my requirements. I liked the place instantly. The interior was kinda-sorta Danish mod. The servers were sleek but not aloof. And the food was inventive, in that sliver-of-hot-pepper-on-my-hamachi kind of way. My bubble burst at the close of dinner. I asked for bourbon on the rocks to accompany my chocolate something-or-other. I didn’t order bourbon because I was homesick for the South. I didn’t order it because I was fearful of mangling the word Armagnac. I wasn’t being ironic. I ordered bourbon, neat, because I thought it would taste great with my dessert. But when I asked for Pappy Van Winkle, hoping that a swish place like Perry Street might have some of their hard-to-find 20-year-old whiskey, the waiter said something like, “We don’t have much call for bourbon, here.” I heard wistfulness in his voice, as if he too longed for a slug of the good stuff, as if a little brown whiskey was what awaited him, after quitting the white-on-white confines of Vongerichten-land. Eventually, I got my bourbon, a single barrel. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t Pappy.

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