The Spirits #95: The Bloom
~ A change to Advertised Proceedings ~ It Being St Patrick's Day ~ Towards an Aviation ~ The Greatest Guitarist in the World ~ Main Character Syndrome ~
~ THE BLOOM ~
50ml Irish whiskey
20ml lemon juice
15ml golden (2:1) sugar syrup
20ml egg white
One teaspoon maraschino
Freeze your glassware. Measure your ingredients into the shaker and shake hard to froth up the egg white. Fill with ice cubes and shake it hard to cool. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh into your now optimally cold glass and garnish with a four-leaf clover - or, failing that a little sprig of mint.
Some Bloom notes:
1. A change to the advertised proceedings? Yessum. I had neglected to notice that St Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year - and it felt remiss to do anything other than an Irish whiskey drink. Time constraints mean this i a curtailed post but I will follow up with an Irish Whiskey Cabinet post before long.
2. Here, if you’re interested, is a 2018 article I wrote for Mr Porter on the Irish whiskey renaissance - which is if anything even more renascent now, five years on. I have always been a huge fan of Irish whiskey as a straight-up sip (Green Spot would be among my desert island bottles, for sure), but had never mixed with it much until I hit upon the advice of the Irish bartender Lauren Taylor while researching that article. “Bartenders usually just sub out another whisky for Irish in the classic cocktials, which more often than not, tend to be stirred-down, booze-heavy concoctions. Irish whiskey lends itself much better to shaken drinks, especially the lighter, fresher styles like Greenspot or Method and Madness’s Single Grain.” As such, it’s better to use it in gin or even tequila-like contexts.
3. Which brings me on to the Bloom, above, which I came up with the other evening. It began as a simple Irish Whiskey Sour. But then I had the idea of adding just a teaspoon of maraschino to it. Old timey bartenders tended to use maraschino simply as an accent rather than a sweetener in itself and I fancy that works rather well here - hinting at an Aviation, but with rather more backbone. You might equally try a teaspoon of Chartreuse, apricot brandy, peat liqueur or whatever else you have in that interesting cabinet of yours.
4. Bloom after Leopold, of course.
🖊️I am Richard Godwin.
🧋My instructions for sugar syrup, ice, grenadine, orgeat, etc are here.
🧑🏫 My 10 RULES FOR MAKING COCKTAILS are here.
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I’m afraid I haven’t quite the time to fashion an Irish opus to match last week’s Scottish equivalent. But this performance is worth a hundred such lists. When Jimi Hendrix was asked: “How does it feel to be the greatest guitarist in the world?” He answered: “I don't know, go ask Rory Gallagher.”
WHAT I’VE BEEN READING
Leopold Bloom’s menu (Irish Times)
WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING
I hope no one will mind me tenuously extending the James Joyce theme by reproducing a recent Oldie column on Main Character Syndrome below.
WHAT IS MAIN CHARACTER SYNDROME?
'Modern Times’, the Oldie, December 2022
Main Character Syndrome is when you find yourself behaving like the protagonist of some kooky Hollywood romcom. Or maybe it’s a French arthouse movie for you, or a Taylor Swift video, or a novel by John Le Carré. At any rate: you imagine that all the world is your stage and everyone you interact with is a supporting player. It is not a medically recognised condition, but rather, a way of investing each mundane interaction with cinematic grandeur and novelistic significance.
The term gained currency on pandemic-era TikTok, when millions of bored teenagers started uploading parodic videos, gently ironising their own humdrum lockdown routines. Some of these little clips are genuinely quite funny deconstructions of common Hollywood tropes: the montage of the romcom heroine returning to her home-town, for example. Others offer wry comments on the competing desires to be noticed but not to be noticed. Lana Del Rey’s doleful ballad Mariners Apartment Complex has proven a popular soundtrack.
Still, Main Character Syndrome is not confined to Gen Z’s on TikTok. It is a near-universal instinct in our self-conscious, media-saturated age. Indeed, it goes back a long way. Duffy, the sad-sack bank clerk in James Joyce’s story ‘A Painful Case’ (1914), seems to be suffering from it, for example: “He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense.” I remember my English teacher declaring this to be the behaviour of a “loon” and my girlfriend and I turning to each other to say: “But we do that all the time!”
Vladimir Nabokov was alert to MCS, too. The unhappy hero of his story ‘Signs and Symbols’ (1948) suffers from a condition called “referential mania,” whereby “the patient imagines that everything happening around him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence". But I suppose the archetype would be Miguel de Cervantes’s 17th century hero Don Quixote, who has read so many romances about knights in shining armour that he imagines himself to be one.
It is not easy, having Main Character Syndrome. "No one wanted him; he was outcast from life's feast,” Duffy muses miserably at the end of A Painful Case - another of those third-person past-tense sentences of his.
But there is also something rather consoling about it too. Are we not, after all, the main characters in our own lives? Is life not rendered all the more meaningful by noticing all the little signs and symbols? Walk around your neighbourhood, listening to Lana Del Rey on your headphones - and tell me it is not an improvement.
Gin, Angostura bitters.
* Pear liqueur! But peat liqueur would be interesting too