I sniff in contempt myself running across an article about a "true insider's" drink, Fernet-Branca. These wink-wink, nod-nod stories are irritating, aimed at posers. As I read them occasionally myself, I have to wonder what this says about me. Occasional poser? I recall one years ago about how a man who was in the know ordered a Cuba Libre with some special qualification, perhaps the type of rum, so that the bartender would Know this was one cool dude. He considered himself suitably rewarded when the bartender made his rum-and-coke and a touch of lime very carefully, giving him an impressed nod when serving it. No, it's just a rum-and-coke with some lime. Though if you really like rum-and-coke but don't like the sidelong glances you get ordering it, you now have a method of disguising it.
That's a very smart bartender, recognising when he can free up considerable tip money with little effort. The poser seemed not to understand that this is what bartenders do for a living.
So the reference to a liqueur that is "The Bartender's Handshake," given in recognition to other bartenders as a sign of hail-fellow-well-met amused me greatly. Oh, really? I did get the hook caught in my cheek when I saw the ingredient "gentian root," though. That is a primary ingredient of Moxie, a cult favorite in New England despised by most but treasured by a few. Including me. I'm not entirely sure why. I didn't like it as a child, but got irritated as a dad when my sodas all got quickly scooped by others in the family when we went camping, so picked something that they wouldn't like. That worked for a year, maybe two. My two oldest, perhaps desperate for any soda after theirs were gone, developed a taste for it and are now members of the Moxie Congress. Gentian root is the usual culprit for Moxie-hating, but I don't hate it, I'm quite fond of it. The description mentioned that there are other flavorful herbs involved. I should have read the fine print.
The NH Liquor outlets do have some, scattered about the state, but I wasn't going to plunk down over $30 for a bottle of something that risky. After all, I've already established that I don't digest even Drambuie all that well and have to go cautiously. There were some half-bottles on closeout sale, but only in Colebrook, on the Canadian border. Two stores, one in Lakes Region and one on the coast, had miniatures for a few bucks. My daughter-in-law agreed to pick one up on her way to visit her parents in Jackson. I asked her to get two.
There's still one on the counter, a couple of week's later. The stuff is vile. It is in the true medicinal tradition of the old herbal liqueurs, where they threw in whatever flowers and roots that grew in their valley in Italy, or France, or Germany. In this case it's got aloe, which I believe is now used as a medicine only externally. Also myrrh, and angelica, from a plant the Sami people use for food, medicine, and to make a musical instrument.
It is extremely rare for me to pour good food or drink down the sink, so I did gradually sip my way through the 2 oz bottle over the course of 48 hours. I am hoping that a friend occurs to me who might like this, but none so far. I have plenty of friends who are adventurous enough to try it, but that's not the same thing.