I almost don’t recognize my friend as I saunter up to the bar at the Upper Lip, but as I get closer, his beard fails to disguise him so I greet him heartily. It’s been a couple months and when you live in the same city as someone, a couple months is probably too long to go between visits.
We catch up rapidly, using the short form this evening, (unfortunately) because he’s on his way out to get dinner with a friend he’s with, and I’m just stopping by to write before I head to the Hyborian show at Dante’s.
However, there’s no reason to miss this opportunity, so I ask what they had and, given the options, I choose the Alesong/Bailey’s collaboration, Bailey’s Joy, an imperial stout with coconut and cacao nibs, aged in bourbon barrels.
We say our goodbyes and I am left alone with the Joy. Its nose has a diminished bourbon quality, the cocoa an even fainter undercurrent but both exist. The flavors follow it up nicely, but in reverse: Cocoa first, then a bit of bourbon, followed with a very dry finish. That finish practically sucks the moisture out of my tongue, it’s so dry. I like it.
Since I’m left to my own thoughts, I think about Anthony Bourdain-a man whom I never met and have no knowledge of, aside from his work-and the sorrow that comes with his death.
My take on Bourdain was that he was someone who had made some mistakes, seen and quite likely been part of some bad shit, but had come through it better, kinder and with more curiosity about the world, rather than less. A greater willingness to champion a better world, instead of being intimidated by those forces to keep it the same.
That’s the kind of story I can get behind. One that has helped inspire greater empathy in myself, too, transitioning me from being a beer elitist to one who just is happy to have one with friends, or soon to be friends.
While my vision of Mr. Bourdain is woefully incomplete, and I am not the kind of person to idolize someone, especially someone I’ve never met, the lesson still remains: be curious about the world, and try to be kind to people along the way.
Today’s second pint goes to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.