The cocktail that got me hooked on
going to Bar Butler
The cocktail bar's decor and atmosphere has grown
on me with each visit too :)
Years ago when I lived in Philadelphia, a friend and I had a ritual of going to a neighborhood Japanese restaurant and ordering sushi to eat and vodka martinis to drink. These days, I much rather drink sake when eating sushi (and/or sashimi). But martinis have remained my favorite cocktail.
Not surprisingly, then, the very first drink I ordered at Bar Butler was a vodka martini with olives -- and I honestly think that it was the best vodka martini I've ever had in my life. After I finished the drink and contemplated what to have next, the bartender at this Japanese cocktail bar over on Kowloon-side asked me if I had ever had what he called "the James Bond martini". Although 007 has been known to drink vodka martinis and gin martinis, the most "James Bond-ian" of martinis appears to be that which contains vodka and gin as well as a French aperitif wine called Lillet.
After I decided to go ahead and try this martini that I have to admit to previously not having heard of before (which goes to show how little I know about James Bond's world), I was presented with a glass of what I came to know is actually called the vesper martini. Amazingly, it was even better than the best vodka martini I ever had -- and because of that one drink, I've been going to Bar Butler quite a bit more times in the past few months than I'd expect to go to a bar in a part of town (Tsim Sha Tsui) that I don't usually spend that much time in!
Everytime I go to Bar Butler now, I have to start the evening with a vesper martini. But whereas the first night that I drank there, I had stuck to vodka-based cocktails, I've since expanded the range of cocktails I'm willing to try and happily imbibe; this especially after discovering that Bar Butler also makes cocktails using chartreuse, mezcal and absinthe!
While absinthe is one of those alcoholic beverages that I had long heard of but never tried until recently, I was introduced to mezcal and chartreuse at earlier points in my life -- both of them pretty memorable. When I lived in Philadelphia some time back, I had a few friends who were Latin American specialists in their field. At a party one evening, one of them brought a bottle of mezcal with a worm and volcanic ash in it. Although that would render it undrinkable in the eyes of many, we went ahead and tried it -- and I, for one, found this smokey tasting (even without the volcanic ash!) distilled alcoholic drink to be quite palatable!
Years before I moved to Philadelphia, I went to boarding school on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in England. One exeat weekend, the family friends I was staying with took me to dinner at the home of a couple who were good friends of theirs. After we finished our meal, we chatted a bit and had some after dinner drinks. That was when I was introduced to the 110 proof liqueur made by Carthusian monks since 1737 -- and also heard our female host disclose that she originally hailed from France, was Jewish, and was a concentration camp survivor (with a tattoo on her arm as proof).
Almost needless to say, I think of her and the occasion that I had my first taste of chartreuse whenever I drink that herbal green drink. And I think of my closest Latin Americanist friend -- who, incidentally, was the friend I used to go have sushi and vodka martinis with! -- whenever I have some mezcal. And I love that I've been able to taste those alcoholic beverages again after all these years, in Hong Kong, thanks to Bar Butler. :)