VANCOUVER - Finally got around to tasting one of the Olympic torch drinks over at the Four Seasons Hotel downtown.
How was it? Well, as former Star baseball scribe Allan Ryan would say, hoo and boy. Very, very nice and very, very cool to look at.
Bartender Justin Taylor made it up a while back. The "rule" is you can only order one if your country has won a gold medal, although I'm not sure they'd actually force you to prove it.
I'd heard about the drink a week or so ago, but they only started making it available once the Games started.
So I rounded up Star video expert and general, all-around great guy Randy Risling late Monday night and we wandered up for a look.
Talk about a crowd pleaser. They take a couple slices of fresh ginger and muddle it in an enormous martini glass, then add, and I think I have this about right, a bit of simple syrup, a couple ounces of still water, spiced rum, cane spirits and lemon.
Then they heat it up, not quite to boiling, and pour it over some dry ice that's been coated with honey (fromOntario) so you won't actually drink or touch the dry ice, which is pretty unhealthy to ingest.
And that's when the fun starts. The hot liquid being poured over the dry ice causes enormous wisps of vapour to leap up and swirl all around the glass like some sort of mad chemistry experiment.
The drink starts off quite warm but the dry ice gradually cools it, so after four or five minutes it's muchmore suitable for a martini-like drink. And the vapours last for several minutes.
Because the glass is so big, you can hold it up in the air over your head and it looks much like a torch.
The drink caused a big stir on Monday night, with folks from Vancouver and Florida gathering around the bar to see what was happening. Several orders were placed from people who saw Randy shooting his video - and a group of us tasting the results.
You're supposed to use a straw, by the way, so you don't accidentally suck up the dry ice. So, no, we're not being sissies by refusing to gulp it down like a normal drink.
On top of the great reaction - gotta say, it's probably a nice way to attract the ladies, it's a helluva good drink. Nicely spicy and a great depth of flavour with a citrus twist.
OKAY, THIS IS WEIRD
I don't know why, but I love jotting down random bits of conversation I hear on the street.
The other night, after the Opening Ceremony here at the Winter Olympics, there was a kid standing at an intersection with an NBC sign. There are lots of them all over town, actually; mostly kids who are there to point bigwigs to the right martini party - or perhaps strip club.
Anyway, all I heard from this kid on Nelson St. was this: "It's my job description to stand on this corner, so that's what I'm doing."
A minute or two later, I heard a young woman on her cell phone practically scream, "No, YOU'RE the problem."
The talented Mr. Risling said he was on the bus the other day and offered to buy the bus driver a coffee.
"You going to Tims?," the driver asked.
"No," Randy replied. "Starbucks."
The driver shook his head.
"No, thanks. I'm from the Maritimes."