The sun was setting and I was on a race to get what I thought might be the last blue sky of the season. An assignment was upon me and it was named Buildings. I had a destination in mind and while taking shots I discovered myself to be quite thirsty. Proficient in the art of finding a good happy hour, I wandered into Vessel, lured by the $5 Manhattan.
I was entranced by a bartender named Zane. A fedora on his head and an air of the roaring 20's in his dress, he mixed drinks like a man obsessed with the art of the cocktail. His friends surrounded him, sitting at the green bar throwing questions at him like they had never seen a drink being made. He crushed the ice with a hammer, he concocted each drink like it was a masterpiece worthy to be shown at a gallery with some obscene price listed on a placard next to it.
He spoke of an alcohol named for a color that wasn't quite yellow...wasn't quite green. Made by Munks, as all good alcohol is, there is a particular type of Chartreuse that is only available in the country of France and it was his dream to one day taste the elixir of life. I found it odd that on this day I decided to walk into this bar, that there was talk of France, that I had spent the day planning a trip for a Brian to travel to the City of Lights, and that I had a unique opportunity to give a stranger a gift that was not asked for.
I did not have high hopes, but a drunken call at 1:00 am CEST asking if the wooden bottle was correct made me giddy with delight. It was given to me on a monday morning and the wait all day to deliver this gift was agony. I parked in a loading zone and walked up to the bar. There were to gentlemen in front of me saying "It's called Vessel, it was right here!". They were on the wrong block, but I kept my mouth shut.
The bar was full; the chef out sick. I told my story to the man behind the bar, hoping it was the same gentleman, and as I delivered the red wrapped wooden bottle the shocked smile on his face told me I had found the right stranger. He didn't know what to say, and the customers kept coming in. He showed me how to appreciate the aroma with a drop on my hand and the emulsion between my palms. A perfect martini of gin, rosewater, lemon twist, sweet vermouth and the elixir of life.
I didn't ask for anything, but the drink was on the house with the promise that I would return with my own bottle for more lessons. I don't know if I'll ever go back, and perhaps that's the way it's supposed to end.