Is there any more enjoyable panacea for life’s woes than the cocktail hour? I think not. After a dreary day spent staring at the soul-sucking blue glow of a computer screen, a refreshing adult beverage rebuilds the spirit and gives one heart enough to face the cubicle the next day.
Since Bernard DeVoto origninally published The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto in 1948, I doubt he spent as much time hunched over a computer as I do. But he did capture the delight of the cocktail after a long day. I do not share his loathing of rum, nor his love of whiskey. I most certainly do not share his brand of jolly 1940’s misogynism. I do, however, agree with him on a few squarely hit points, the most important of which is this:
“Never be cynical about bars, in fact, though it is right to be wary. A glory of American culture is that there is no place so far and no village so small that you cannot find a bar when you want to. … The good bar extends across America, the quiet place, the place that answers to your mood, the upholder of the tavern’s great tradition, the welcoming shelter and refuge and sanctuary…” [Devoto, Bernard. The Hour. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1951.]
My home city of Ann Arbor is a college town: we do not suffer from a lack of watering holes. The bar I believe to be the best in town is the one tucked inside the West End Grill. It is a lovely restaurant and the bar is the loveliest spot in it. Gleaming wood and stained glass and low lighting. The building was once the venerable Mr. Flood’s Party so it has history. It has gravitas.
It also has good bar staff, thank heaven. My drink is a dirty gin martini, straight up. It is harder than you might expect to find a bartender who can transform gin, vermouth, olives and a splash of brine into the magic elixir which will soothe your worries and restore your heart. The staff at my bar get it right every time. They pour out of the shaker an icy cold drink of perfect proportions, the liquid filling the chilled glass to the tippy-top and clinging to the rim so that I must lean over to take the first sip or risk spilling a drop.
Now, in the middle of the day on the middle day of the week, when work seems most fruitless and without point, I look forward to the possibilty of a well-earned weekend visit to my favorite place in Ann Arbor. I hope that you too have found such a sanctuary, but, wherever you are this Friday, raise a glass with me. To the end of the work week! And if you’re ever in Ann Arbor you’ll know where to go.