I handed over the small, green Jagermeister bottle and grinned. Because he's a good sport (and, like me, completely susceptible to even the weakest sort of peer pressure), my comrade-in-arms Jonathan Shikes screwed off the top without question and made a move to drink the mystery fluid I'd just pulled out of my jacket pocket.
"Wait," he said, some base survival instinct kicking in at the last second and stalling his hand. "Can I smell it first?"
"Of course," I said.
He waved the neck of the bottle under his nose. "It's not Jagermeister," he said.
"No. It's not Jagermeister."
"It smells like...something."
"It is something."
And then he tasted it.
"It's Glayva. Ever heard of it?"
Shikes had not. And until an hour before my generous offer to let him drink the mystery booze from my pocket, neither had I. As a matter of fact, I had done roughly the same thing he had when a friend of mine produced the little green bottle from his own pocket over lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant with no liquor license.
"Try this..." he said. And I did.
For those of you who've never heard of Glayva (which is occasionally available locally at Argonaut Liquors), it's a Scotch cordial freighted with incredible history. Born in the port of Leith in the early 1900s, it is a whisky-based liqueur juiced up with the product of all those ships coming into Scotland from all over the world. Scotch whisky, Brazilian almonds, oranges from Seville, herbs and spices, tangerine, cinnamon and honey all come together to form something that tastes kind of like a high-speed collision between a fast-moving whiskey barrel and a Mediterranean spice market.
And as if that's not already enough of an International pedigree, pouring a shot of this stuff into a tall glass of iced Vietnamese coffee makes for one of the best and most addicting breakfast cocktails I've ever tasted--a consistent guarantee of getting nothing of worth done in a day begun with it, but enjoying the hell out of your wasted hours nonetheless.
My sincere thanks go out to my friend Tom and his wife Barbara for introducing me to this concoction. And if you folks out there never see another blog, column or review from me again, now you'll know the reason.