Monday, June 15, 2009

The Esquivel

The concept of "lounge culture" has always amused me - I find it funny how much effort, money and stress goes into looking like you're cool, relaxed, and sophisticated. Although I really enjoy the music associated with lounge style (shout out to DC-based Thievery Corporation), it was pretty clear I was never going to be able to afford having a wardrobe which would even qualify me to get in the door at any establishment that strived to call themselves exclusive. Also, given the fact that I was not of European / Latin American / Middle Eastern descent, I was starting off with two huge strikes against me right there.

The very few times I have been in a lounge-type setting, I felt really, really out of place. On my first outing to the 18th Street Lounge in DC about 12 years ago, I was amazed that they let me in - I had heard it was extremely exclusive, and if you were a solo guy (or worse, a group of guys), you were not getting past the doorman. When they let me in, I felt all good about myself - figured I had on nice enough clothes and looked good enough to qualify as "one of the elite." It wasn't until a couple of years later that a friend, who WAS cool and good looking enough to be one of the elite, told me they let me in almost certainly because I got there early, and figured I would leave before it got really crowded and the "real good looking people" showed up.

I wasn't too crushed by this - at the time, paying $8 bucks for a skunked Heineken bottle wasn't my idea of a good time anyway (not that it is now - $3 tops). And you wonder just how much money people have when they can go to a "lounge," rent an exclusive table in a velvet rope secured area for $1500, and that doesn't even get you any drinks. That's another $300 per bottle for "bottle service" - which just means you can pour your own drinks. From a bottle. Just like you do at home. Hell, I can grab a bottle of Thunderbird, lock myself in my bathroom, and crank up some Eddie Money - THAT'S exclusive, my friends.

The whole point of this is that this cocktail, the Esquivel, is named after what many consider to be the founder of lounge music, and thus lounge culture - Juan Garcia Esquivel. A prolific musician from the late 1950's through the late 1960's, a compilation of his music came out in 1994 on a CD entitled "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music." Whether this kicked off the lounge music resurgence, or whether this came out as a result of young hipsters suddenly drinking martinis, smoking Cohiba's, and longing for the good old days of three martini lunches and bomb shelters, I don't know. But this cocktail is perfectly named - it is at once familiar, exotic, modern, retro, International, but yet also very American. That it's delicious is just a bonus - far more importantly, you LOOK good drinking it. And isn't that the whole point?

The Esquivel

2 oz light rum
1/2 oz Kahlua
1 oz pineapple juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
cinnamon and orange twist to garnish

Combine the rum, Kahlua, pineapple juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a shilled cocktail glass. Top off with champagne, and sprinkle cinammon on top. Garnish with orange twist.

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