Regulars: Cuffs & Buttons
"Your phone is going insane," I say looking over the menu and listening to T's phone vibrate for an umpteenth time in less than a minute. T is a friend whom I adore; he's more thoughtful than Father Christmas, straightforward, and sensible. He's also tall, unfathomably if not unfairly slim, possesses a thick head of hair that begs to be tugged, and blessed with the looks of a teen K-pop star assuming that star was actually of Chinese ancestry and in his thirties. He's also one of the most sexual beings I know. Very nonjudgmental and encouraging in your own adventures assuming you aren't being a total fool about it. The kind of down and dirty companion everyone should have.
"Yes, sorry. Yes. I know," T sighs, "It's a guy who's gone crazy. Like, potentially, actually meth-crazy? I'm not sure. Do you want to do the punch or this Cuffs and Buttons thing?" He bounces between the menu and his phone, tapping out a response, deleting, tapping, deleting again, trying to find the right wire to cut.
Sadly, it's impossible to diffuse a bomb that's already exploded.
"He wasn't crazy before?" I ask him.
We decide on the Cuffs & Buttons after our bartender, José, explains its history and flavor to us. Bourbon, honey, spice. Something to cool frazzled nerves. Just one order, though. We've been bar hopping and I have to drive.
"No. We hooked up a couple of times and it was always fine. Now I'm getting these insane texts," says T.
"Insane how?" I ask.
"He's accusing me of being part of 'The Group'," T air quotes this to emphasize. "And that I'm conspiring against him. He's even making threats to come to my place."
"Holy shit. He knows where you live?"
"We met at my place. He always seemed sane and normal. Here," he hands me a phone with a Grindr profile sitting on the screen waiting patiently for critique, "this guy."
I give it a long stare. There's an angry-looking face staring up from the screen. Certainly not an image I would ever choose for a hookup or dating profile. "T... his screen name is 'up-arrow, 'party' spelled with the 't' capitalized, down-arrow, 'now'. Not warning sign enough?"
"So, meth-crazy," T sighs, confirming what he knew some time ago.
"Like so many others."
The cocktail arrives, and José drops off a complimentary glass of sparkling. He insists that a single cocktail would be lonely without a friend. We clink the glasses and thank him for ensuring that the liquor doesn't view us as ungracious.
"This is why I so rarely ever hookup with strangers. I just need to stick with my regulars who I've been having sex with for years. Problem is, they get boyfriends every so often and then go off the market. I just need to delete the apps again." He takes a long pull from the cocktail.
"Again. Ha. Maybe, but where would the excitement in that be?" I ask.
"Not texting conspiracy theories?"
"Fair enough." I grab the drink from him and take almost as long a pull.
Cuffs & Buttons
This recipe comes from José Carrasco, a bartender at Paragary's in Sacramento. He explained that this recipe is the source recipe for what eventually became Southern Comfort before it became grungy swill that frat bros pound with Dr. Pepper.
This is a delightful infused bourbon that when finished is, essentially, a bottled self-contained cocktail that you can pour to order. A perfect gift for the lazy home bartender. Feel free to tinker with the flavorings as you see fit to meet your tastes.
What You'll Need:
- 1 750ml bottle of 101-proof bourbon
- 3/4 cup honey, preferably local
- 5 cherries; fresh and pitted -or- Fabbri Amarena Cherries; smashed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cloves
- dash of nutmeg
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
- a bit of freshly grated orange peel, no pith
- a bit of freshly grated lemon peel, no pith
What You'll Do:
Place the ingredients together in an airtight container and allow to infuse for a week in a cool, dark place. Strain through a few layers of cheesecloth and place in a bottle for use.
This can be served over ice with cherries and orange peel.
For that nifty ice trick? Simply put water in a glass and delicately balance it on a 45-degree angle and freeze. You may have to use some frozen peas or something to do this. You're smart, you'll figure it out.