Ah yes, the Irish Coffee, a cocktail made with espresso, Irish whiskey and a dollop of fresh cream on top, the thing that kept me up all night, forced me to give up sleeping after trying till 4.30am, had me reading a book about French wine and eventually lead me to think that I may need a 120 ringgit book about soil!
I was cycling down Chulia Street in Georgetown, Penang, on a cool summer’s evening when I came across a wine shop. “Putao”, the sign said. I went in to have a quick look. They had an interesting collection of wines, which unfortunately due to the horizontal arrangement of the bottles facing inwards towards the wall and my insufficiently tall body to look over the ones above my head, the only indication of any kind to distinguish one wine stack from another was a tiny piece of paper hanging from a tread on one of the bottles in each diamond-shaped stack stating the country of origin of the wine. Don’t get me wrong, they got the “keep your wines horizontally” part right, but facing the wall, really?!
Anyway, at least they had a magnum-sized Bollinger Champagne, which was pretty cool I guess.
They also had a nice little wine lounge on the side and said that they were in the process of creating a whisky lounge down the back of the shop. They were, after all, only 5 months old then.
They had a restaurant and bar attached to the right, so I went to have my lunch there. I initially told myself that I will not be having any alcohol that day, since I was still recovering from a sore throat, but there was something about that Irish Coffee on the menu that caught my attention. Finishing my lunch of port burger and fries with a glass of ginger ale (which unfortunately turned out to be the Ginger Ade by the F&N Company which resembled ginger beer more than ginger ale), I eventually decided to try their Irish Coffee, just out of curiosity.
The cool cream mixed with the warm coffee and balanced by the Jameson whisky did a waltz in my mouth. The bitterness of the coffee and the slight astringency and heaviness of the whisky complemented the rich creaminess of its crown so well that it melted my heart. While drinking this brilliant concoction, my mind couldn’t stop thinking about how well this would go with an orange chocolate cake. Rich with the bitterness and substance of dark chocolate, refreshed by the citrusy goodness of the orange and balanced by the heaviness of the butter that makes this cake so delectable, I felt that it would have been a perfect match.
I felt great all night, bouncing off walls and floors with my head high in the clouds, filled with possibilities and lots of potential for fun during my days in Penang, the caffeine was talking like there’s no tomorrow.
I should tell you a secret though, that of the fact that I am quite sensitive to the effects of caffeine. That’s why I generally avoid them unless I really needed a caffeine kick on one of those low energy days.
The result? I thought I couldn’t sleep when it was 12am because due to work, my usual sleeping time is around 3am. Then it became 4am. When it was 4.30am and I was still wide awake, tossing and turning in my sheets, I knew there was something not quite right. I couldn’t sleep, I literally couldn’t sleep! Plus, my stomach was also rumbling from emptiness, which makes the attempt to sleep even more useless. I pulled myself up, headed downstairs with a book in my hand, fixed myself a snack of beans in a can, warmed in freshly boiled water (because I didn’t have a stove), and started to read about French wine regions while munching on the can of baked beans. Bordeaux…right bank…Cabernet Sauvignon predominates…gravel over alluvial soil…left bank…Merlot…limestone and clay.
I looked at the clock. I realized that 5.30am came when the bellowing sounds of the call for morning prayers can be heard from the loudspeakers of the nearby mosque. Then came 6.30am. I started to feel a bit sleepy so I headed upstairs to brush my teeth and get ready for bed.
I then had a thought. I wonder. All this talk about soils influencing wine styles, characteristics and suitability of growth must mean that the soil plays a large part in determining what type of wine will be made. I wonder if they sell a book specifically on vineyard soil.
A quick Google check revealed a book on sale on Amazon.com. apparently they do have a book on soil. And not just one, but several books at that! I started to think of whether or not I should by it until I looked at the price. 120 ringgit after conversion, and that doesn’t even cover transport fees. “Hmm”, I thought, “rain check?”
I finally slept at 8am, just as the sun rises to a new day, hoping that as “fun” as this night was, let’s hope it won’t happen again. Hats off to you, Irish Coffee, for you gave me an unforgettable night. Zzz…..
Thanks for reading.