Friday, May 12, 2006

Benedictine, Miller-Style

One of Henry Miller's favourite alcoholic beverages in the late 1920s-early 30s seems to have been the French herbal liqueur, Benedictine. ("He used to end his meals with a Benedictine or a kummel," wrote Brassai of Miller in 1960 - Happy Rock, p. 92). I finally bought myself a bottle of it last week. Not being a liquor connaiseur, I can only describe it as an alcoholic version of chinotto pop (i,e Brio). It's got a bit of a cough syrup taste but offers interesting revelations when you savour it in your mouth, like the subtle flavour of sage (which is not something I would normally think would work in a liquor drink). On ice, it's very nice. I haven't mixed it yet, though it's also bottled as B & B: Benedictine and brandy.

Miller references the drink in Letters To Emil, Plexus and Nexus. From these texts, I've concocted just a few of my own Henry Miller recipes for Benedictine:

The Dark Secret
Ingredients: Benedictine, Henry Miller, Mona, O'Mara, Osiecki, a retired baker from Weehawken, cake.
Instructions:
1. Take Mona. Allow her to flirt.
2. Add a retired, cultured baker from Wehawken to Mona. Her flirting will make him feel compelled to ply her with fine foods and a bottle of Benedictine.
3. Take Miller and an old friend, O'Mara. Mix in Miller's apartment. Socialize well, allow to reminisce. Then add Mona with the bottle of Benedictine. The mixture may not congeal completely.
4. Interupt the process by adding Osiecki through a window. Immediately add cake and Benedictine to Osiecki. He will ask what it is, ask where one gets it, then look at everyone as if they are possession of a dark secret. Talk of lice will follow; this is normal.
5. Allow O'Mara to sip the Benedictine, in order to loosen him up to talk about his brother, who'd acciedentally killed a man in Texas.
6. Enjoy!
(Plexus, pgs. 110, 114, 117)

The Orgy Prelude
Ingredients: Benedictine, Miller, Mona, Ulric, Marjorie, French ice cream, whisky.
Instructions:
This simple drink involves a married couple, a male friend and a female friend. Peel the pariticpants of clothing and let them enjoy a meal in the nude. Allow French ice cream to swim in the Benedictine and whisky; serve immediately after the meal. It is normal if Marjorie "fiddles" with Ulric's "pecker" during the meal. Orgy to follow. Serves 4.
(Plexus, pg. 382)

The Glowing Entrail
Ingredients: Benedictine, Henry Miller, a flask, lunch, Sunday, Paris.
Instructions:
1. Allow Miller to sit in Paris for five days.
2. When it looks like a wonderful Sunday, stir Miller throughout Paris, using his feet. Be sure to pass along the Seine.
3. You will see Miller arriving at rue Antoine. Impress him with the Parisien ghetto scene and the cheap liquor.
4. Add a little flask of Benedcitine to Miller (should only cost you 2-1/2 francs, or, 10 cents American). This ingredient is best added at lunch time.

"Finest stuff in the world, warms the gizzards, makes the entrails glow."

5. Add the Miller and Benedictine mixture to a restaurant. Here, the excess Benedictine (about a snifter's worth) will be aborbed by a waitress. ("it doesn't do to walk into a restaurant and bring your own codials.")
6. Repeat every few weeks.
(Letters To Emil, pg. 21)

12 Comments:

Anonymous Pierre from Montreal said...

Wow! What a good ethylical (and well inspired) post RC, especially on a pre-full-moon Friday evening…
If I can add something, it would concern June (Mona).
Her favorite drink was « Chartreuse » : « …I got a bit careless and ran out, in a moment of exuberation, to buy a bottle of Chartreuse which I knew she liked better than anything. That was a fatal mistake. The Chartreuse made her mellow and then hysterical and then reproving . », Via Dieppe-Newhaven in The Cosmological Eye, p.201. Personally, I’ve tried Bénédictine and Chartreuse a few times in my life (also Crème de Menthe, Drambuie, etc.) and I can tell you that Chartreuse is 100% more potent with a woman (or a man, I guess, depending on one’s natural temperament) than any other booze. « A fatal mistake », yes, sometimes, with a person who can’t handle it, but a divine liquor with a prudish lady who will suddenly loose all her inhibitions in less than an hour (you double the dose, if time is running out…). Of course, Chartreuse and all those strong, sweet, syrupy alcoholic beverages are not for the liverish kind; but as the great Irish writer Oscar Wilde once said, when asked if life was worth living? : « Well, it depends on your liver. »
Take care!

2:16 am  
Anonymous Pierre from Montreal said...

Sorry, I should have written “lose”, when I said “a prudish lady who will suddenly loose all her inhibitions”,(I just had a quarrel with my girlfriend on this, no Chartreuse though, we were simply sharing a pint of Guinness); anyhow, my Oxford Dictionary says:
Loose
v.tr.
1 release; set free; free from constraint.
2 untie or undo (something that constrains).

To lose, however means rightly, "to be deprived of". So, I had it wrong.
English is such a nice language, but so intricate sometimes.
Mea Culpa!

4:23 am  
Blogger RC said...

Thanks for the additional observations Piere. Like the Wilde quote too. Wilde and Miller sharing Benedictine over dinner, tape recorder running. The mind reels with the quotable possibilities coming out of a meeting like that.

10:58 pm  
Anonymous Tony (UK) said...

You are making me very thristy with all this! Too bad it's Monday morning and I am at work! Nice!

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