Friday, February 12, 2016


-->Somewhere in the sprawl of Anthony Burgess’s writings I seem to remember a scene between a barman and a customer, in which the customer orders  a drink, downs it, then asks for, “The same again.”  And the barman, who obviously thinks of himself as a bit of a wag, says “You can’t have the same because you’ve already drunk it.  You can only have similar.”
         And the customer says, “No, I don’t want similar, I want the same.  If I order a glass of gin and you give me a glass of vodka, well that’s somewhat similar but that’s not what I want.”

OK, got that?  So, last night at the happy hours (note the plural – 4 till 7) at Figaro Bistrot, in Los Feliz, I ordered their Mini Martini, gin of course, which looked like this:

It was very good indeed.  And after I’d drunk it I ordered the “same again,” and it was scarcely similar at all.  It looked like this, and trust me, it isn’t just the vagaries of digital photography, and an extra olive, that makes it look different:

It was similar to the first drink and it wasn’t at all bad, but it was also significantly different.
And I spent a certain amount of time trying to work out what the difference was.  Was there an excess of vermouth, had a heavy hand splashed in an excess of bitters, was it a different kind of gin?  I eventually concluded that the barman had, by accident or design, made me a slightly dirty martini – by the addition of a little olive brine.  By the time I’d reached this conclusion, I’d already drunk half the drink, and it was obviously too late to send it back, and it probably wasn’t worth sending it back anyway, it being a cheap happy hour mini martini, but still … it wasn’t in any sense "the same again."

Incidentally, Anthony Burgess did supposedly invent a cocktail in the 1960s called Hangman’s Blood, thus:
“Into a pint glass doubles of the following are poured: gin, whisky, rum, port, and brandy. A small bottle of stout is added, and the whole topped up with champagne or champagne surrogate. It tastes very smooth, induces a somehow metaphysical elation, and rarely leaves a hangover … I recommend this for a quick, though expensive, lift.”
You probably wouldn’t want the same again after one of those, right?

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