What a disappointment it turned out to be. I stayed 15 minutes, didn't have a cocktail, had a lousy time, and wasn't going to write about it at all. But what the hell, it's funny. Maybe. You tell me.
As soon as I got in, I walked right over to Carville. I told him, "I write about booze, not politics, but I'm curious to know if you're doing any politics."
Carville: "Who, Maker's Mark?"
Me: "No. You."
Carville: "I work for CNN."
|"Nice to see you."|
Me: "I know. I'm just wondering if you're doing any consulting in this election."
Carville: "I don't do any work domestically."
Me: "But you do work overseas?"
Me: "How does your experience translate overseas?"
Carville: "Sometimes it doesn't." He gives me a hearty clap on the shoulder, finishing with a subtle push away from him. "Nice to see you."
So that was my 30 seconds with James Carville. But as I mentioned, I love Maker's Mark Manhattans, and since I had three drink coupons and there were two long bars with no waiting, the event still had promise.
However, neither bar would make a Manhattan for me. "We don't have sweet Vermouth. Or bitters," the bartender said.
What they did have was an Official Cocktail: The Conservative. Which they were serving in San Francisco. You may note the incongruity.
The Conservative is 1 1/2 parts Maker's Mark, 1/2 parts each of club soda and ginger ale, and a lemon twist. Bor-ing. At least it's aptly named.
"Do you have a Liberal?" I asked. They did not. Well, I wouldn't go to Kentucky to drink flavored vodka, and I'm not drinking a Conservative in San Francisco.
At least the evening won't be a total loss, I thought, because I can get one of the 200 ml bottles of Maker's Mark they're giving away, take it home and mix it up with some Martini sweet Vermouth (I like a 4-1 ratio) and a dash of Angostura bitters. Manhattan, now that's liberal. So I go over to the table where they're giving away the little bottles, but I'm directed to a lonnnnng line of people waiting to put the brand's characteristic red wax on the bottle themselves. I don't need to wax the thing, I say; I just want to drink it. "Sorry sir, you have to wax your own." That sounds so lonely. And time-consuming. I bail on the party.
And now I'm obsessing on a Manhattan. Despite the crappy party, I still prefer Maker's Mark in this cocktail, which is one of my favorite orders in airport bars, at concerts and other places where you expect disinterested bartending. It's hard to screw up a Manhattan. 2-1 ratio, or 6-1 ratio? I'll drink it. Forgot the bitters, or added too much? I'll drink it. On the rocks, not shaken and served up? I'll drink it. Where's my damn cherry? Oh forget it, I'll drink it.
But the Giants are playing the Dodgers on the same night as the Olympics, and the bars I wander by are all showing the latter for some reason. So I go to a reliable den of quality bar food and Giants' fandom, Lark Streek Steak in the Westfield Shopping Centre, where I get the delicious off-menu mushroom-swiss burger ($16, but well worth it because it's made of roughly chopped and molded steak) and ... a glass of Testarossa Pinot. I mean, it's a mushroom burger.
|No Manhattans today|
Even an 8 oz burger and fries (pro tip: for better wine pairing, dip your fries in mustard instead of ketchup. Less sugar so your wine won't taste sour) comes to an end. Lark Creek has a Manhattan on the cocktail menu, and it's made with Maker's Mark! And yet ... I think back to that lousy party, where I couldn't get a drink, and instead I order a Sazerac. With Wild Turkey Rye.