Sep 082013
 

Liquorature #046 – “The Master And Margarita” (Mikhail Bulgakov)master

Date:  November, 2012

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  Compass Box Oak Cross, Arran Devil’s Punchbowl, ?

Rum: The Lash

 

Many years ago, while still living as a hippie out West, I saw the Violent Femmes play the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver.  After a lengthy period of closure, the Ballroom had been fixed up and, at the time, just recently had its doors reopened.  The Femmes, who had played the Commodore in earlier (read:  scuzzier) days, were midway through a ‘blister’ing set (pun intended) when Gordon Gano took a few minutes to chat with the crowd.  His first comments were to the effect of ‘it’s good to be back in the Commodore.  They’ve dressed the old girl up and she’s looking pretty good.’

That’s sorta how I’m seeing the newly reno’d Liquorature.  A couple of departures…a couple additions…and here we are.  End of November, 2012, and nearly four full years after launching this little enterprise.  Recent days, as you may know if you’ve been following this blog, have seen the loss of a couple of core members.  Though this always hurts a bit, I’m trying to approach it as a ‘one door closes, another door opens’ kinda scenario.

So…here we are for gathering number one with the revised G9.  Please, if you will…a warm welcome to Lorenzo and Stuart.

Alright…moving on…

It all starts with a brisk stroll on a chilly Canadian winter night.  Or should I say subarctic f*cking freezing?!  Man…all joking aside…this is the reason I love this country.  When the trees are all rimed with frost and the night skies over the towns and cities are dressed in a perpetual orange haze…stunning.  And what better time to tackle a book set in the frigid spheres of the Soviet Union than the dead of Calgary winter?  Perfect alignment.

Playing to thematic elements is always fun on Liquorature nights.  Whether it’s food…décor…drink selections…what-have-you.  Scott made a few rather inspired beverage choices to tie back to the novel at hand.

First up…a rum called The Lash.  Yeah…rum.  A beverage suitable only for cleaning the flagellant’s wounds, I’d suggest, if only it weren’t so impure with all of its foul additives.  😉  A takillya (tequila) drink aptly bearing the big, bold title of ‘Margarita’.  And whiskies?  Compass Box’s Oak Cross (of course) and one from Isle Of Arran called ‘The Devil’s Punchbowl’, a big ol’ vatting of whatever casks they had kicking around at the time (I kid, but wow…what an odd cask selection went into this 6,660 bottle release; peat, sherry, bourbon in all their various forms).  I think there *may* have been one more, but for the life of me, I can’t recall.

And the book?  Well…there are likely 666 reasons why this one was a trying read for some of the crew, and possibly most people who pick it up.  A few: period relevance vs contemporary comparables and relatables; the inherent challenges of much of Russian lit; the absurd and surreal aspects; the multiple time periods; Shakespearian ties; rather convoluted plotline; the difficulty in discerning relevance from mere poetic acrobatics, etc.  Interesting read, for sure, if tough.  Having said that…that why we do this.  Ease of consumption is not a prerequisite for book choices in Liquorature.  I should also mention…there was definitely a fair bit to discuss as well.

Randoms:  “From Christmas jingles to scatological”…”it’s good to be met”…”nibblies”…”the winners won”…”black people are rewarded in this life”.

 

– Curt

 Posted by at 11:37 am
Sep 082013
 

Liquorature Gathering #045 – “Mercy Among The Children” (David Adams Richards)mercy-among-the-children

Date:  October, 2012

Host:  Pat

Whisky:  Alberta Premium Dark Horse, Lot 40, Pike Creek, Alberta Premium 30 y.o.

Rum:  El Dorado 12 y.o.

 

This one quite took us by surprise.  Pat sort of has a gift for doing that with his selections, I think.  The utter poignancy and depth of emotion purveyed in this bit of Canadiana was not only unexpected, but nearly unparalleled in our club selections to date.  But forgive me…I get ahead of myself.

This was another intimate gathering, with the gang collected around the ‘big coffee table in a small room’ at Pat’s place.  These tight quarters make for a much more involved conversation, I think, and a tendency to have far fewer side conversations.  I always eagerly look forward to this more eye-to-eye setting for our meetings.

The novel Pat picked for this month was Giller Prize winner, Mercy Among The Children, by David Adams Richards.   It’s a tale to rend even the most hardened of hearts in twain.  The setting for the story is the Miramichi Valley of New Brunswick, and so, playing to themes as we’re wont to do in Liquorature, Pat elected to go whole hog.  We arrived to the smells of Canada’s signature dish, Poutine, being prepared…several bottles of tasty Canadian whisky on display…and our host himself decked out in a (ugh) Habs jersey.  Good stuff already (aside from the Canadiens apparel, that is).

Interestingly enough, aside from the two ADL releases on offer this eve (Dark Horse, and AP30), the choices Pat made were a couple I had only sampled days earlier at a whisky tasting here in Calgary with our friend and author, Davin de Kergommeaux.  It was a treat to revisit them so soon afterwards.

The book itself…hmmm…not sure where to start, so, no to be obtuse or anything, but I don’t think I will get into too many details here.  Suffice it to say that this story of one family’s struggles in the aftermath of a life-changing event are an exercise in challenging empathy and revisiting all of the sociological principles I studied back in university.  It reads very much reads like a literary snapshot of a poor historic rural Eastern Canadian town, and…I confess…had me in tears more than once.  Touching…painful…elegant…articulate.  This is one of only a couple of Liquorature selections to date that have so put me through the wringer.

A great selection, very much from untrod ground, and further…a great evening.

Randoms:  Poutine…”for such an idiot, you’ve come a long way”…”make like a tree…and bark”

 

– Curt

 Posted by at 8:14 am