Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The World's Favorite Italian Liqueur

...because the world just loves five pounds of Sweet N' Low dissolved in mop water from a DQ...


It happened.

When I first tossed out the idea of taking our favorite Italian Liqueur for a test drive, I thought perhaps I'd be drinking Disarrono alone, out of a paper cup while watching reruns of "Petticoat Junction". Maybe doing a little puppet theater reenactment of the commercials with my toothbrush and and a pair of tweezers, further exposing my need for human interaction.

What happy fortune, we were all saved from such humiliation by the lovely E. She heeded the call and the two of us set sail for a night of strange discovery.

We met at La Creperie, which happens to be my favorite restaurant in the city. If you are looking for a reasonably priced crepe, with a great wine selection and cozy atmosphere - even when it's packed to the gills - you can't go wrong with La Creperie on Clark.

The plan was to have a quick meal and go see an early showing of Choke, perhaps smuggling a bottle of Disarrono into the theater and taking a few swigs, if the dining establishment was too, shall we say, "low rent" to offer Disarrono.

At around 6:30, I pulled up and honked. E. had been waiting in front of the restaurant, scoping the drink selections at the bar. As soon as she settled herself, she informed me that they did not have Disaronno.


I steered the car towards the Binny's Liquor Emporium up the street (A place for which I have lingering resentments. Before its takeover in January of 2001, the Binny's on Clark used to be the Ivanhoe Theatre. I loved that theatre. It had bones in the walls.) and we went in, scouring the aisles for the familiar square bottle. Just at the moment when we both contemplated asking an employee (which neither of us wanted to do), we turned a corner and there it was, waiting for us. It was like catching a first glimpse of the woman you met over the internet.

We grabbed the smallest bottle - a cool $11.99 - and headed for the front. E. wondered what we would drink it out of, if we had any cups or anything. I hadn't thought of that. She picked up a little sack of clear plastic shot glasses.


We made our way down to the Creperie. As we waited for a table, there was some giddy discussion over whether or not we should step into the alley and take a swig. This was decided against and wisely, I think.

Dinner was lovely. E. and I have never really gotten much of a chance to talk and it was as if we had known each other for years. If you do not know E., I should tell you that she is one of the most frank and disarming people I have met - there is no hiding from her...and you don't really want to. She is refreshing, insightful and an absolute scream. My only regret is that we had not done something like this sooner.

Over a some cheese, crepes, and a couple of glasses of wine, time made a speedy getaway and before we knew it 3 hours had passed.

Sensing that the moment was nigh for our taste test, we talked over our options.

Should we sit in the car and take a sip?

Should we go to a park and hope they don't arrest two slightly inebriated chicks with a full bottle of liqueur? (The humiliation of this was more of a deterrent than the actual arrest.)

Should we go to her place? Nope. Cats.

Should we go to my place? Nope. Too far.

Just then, I spied, way in the back, peeking behind the other liquors on the bar, the small black square top I know like the back of my hand.

I leaned in, conspiracy in my whisper.

"They have it here."

E.'s eyes widened. "Really?"

"Yeah. It's in the back. That's why you didn't see."

Her jaw dropped, as if I was we were concocting a plan to rob the joint.

"Should we order some?"

I nodded. It seemed only right. We waved our young waiter over (Luckily, our server that night wasn't the usual waiter I've encountered. I like our old waiter, but he is something of a wine snob and if we ordered Disaronno from him, I don't think I could have born the shame.). He stood, patiently by as I sputtered.


I could feel the red flooding my cheeks. I stuttered, like I was asking him to the Sadie Hawkins Dance.

"I'd like-uh....

He bent over to get a better listen.

"I'd like a Disaronno on the Rocks."

He blinked twice at me, expressionless.



"Um...I'd like a Disaronno on the Rocks."

"A what? Dirrsorrotto?"

E. piped in. "DEE-SO-RO-NO."

"Oh...what's that?"

E.and I in our fervor just deteriorated into laughter. The poor thing had no idea what was happening. Christ, were we high?

"Okay..okay. Dee-so-ro-no on the Rocks. and you?" He looked at E. Through her titters, she ordered the same.

He left to inform the bartender that the "two 15-year-old-home-school-girls" want an amaretto. We craned our necks to watch as he delivered the order. There appeared to be some difficulty in communicating what we asked for. The Bartender, a woman, chuckled (who knows what he said) and in a few minutes, pulled the bottle (dusty, no doubt from years of neglect) from behind the Cutty Sark. There were too many people to see whether or not she opened the bottle with a flourish, as they do in the commercials.

Our waiter returned with tumblers full of sepia liquid. We thanked him.

At 9:52, with a ceremonious "clink" we took our first gulps of Disaronno, the word's favorite Italian Liqueur.

The World is an idiot.

Wince...swallow. HARD.

The two words I would NOT use to describe it are "Warm" and "Sensual".

The three words I WOULD use are "Maraschino" "Cherry" and "Juice".

And maybe a little "Nougaty".

If you're in the mood to drink a cup ladeled from the Candyland's Molasses Swamp, this is the beverage for you.

The two of us resolved to drink the full glasses. It took us forever. Disaronno is not something one pours down one's gullet with abandon. It is nursed, each approaching sip dragging with it the tiniest, most benign bit of dread.

We finished our tumblers in about an hour. It was close to undrinkable at the last there. I slurped the remnants and we made preparations to leave. My evening with E. was well worth the palate killer at the end. I hope we do it again soon, sans the liqueur (or maybe trying a different one?)

When I got home I had a little of that post-Christmas let down. So much energy and anticipation had gone into the evening only to have the moment fly by. In many ways it was exactly what I expected.

I still have that full bottle from Binny's. Perhaps in a year's time, I'll raise glass to commemorate the occasion.

Isn't that how holidays get started? Or does it always have to involve some kind of birth or death?


That dude in the back looks more like he's in a Disaronno commercial than we ever did.


Freddie said...

Great, great story. Next time we see you I'll tell you the story of the time when Adam and I ordered "the best Scotch in the House" in a Lincoln Park bar after seeing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Teaser? Each glass was $21. That's per glass.

Sharko said...


Seriously, DiSaronno is much better as a mixer than straight up. Add it to a milk shake. Or a tall latte. Much better that way.

Erica said...

We're going all hardcore on this. The liqueur in its purest form. We don't want to mask the flavor, we want to experience it like a punch in the face.

And so it should be with life. If you are going to do something, don't halfass it. Full out 100% that shit.

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