An important date in my bar calendar is creeping ever closer, one evening every year that I look forward to with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Each year it gets both easier, and paradoxically, more difficult…
There I was, doing my thing behind the bar one busy evening, when I saw a group of five or six coming through the door. My security/coat-check guy looked a bit concerned; there was something wrong with the picture that I could not immediately place. Then I got it: Apart from one head of shocking pink hair, one tall guy was dressed in pajamas, bedroom slippers and dressing gown! Nor was this all: Each one of them had a bathroom towel draped around their shoulders, and were peering furtively towards the bar.
Now, my bars have always attracted and amazing, wonderful mix of business suits, jeans and kaftans; my philosophy being simple: everybody is welcome so long as they behave themselves. But, even for my place, this looked like it could be trouble on the way!
Just as I was about to signal to the man on the door that this new party might be happier somewhere else, one of them broke from the group, came up to the bar, and somewhat breathlessly, burst out:
“We’ve heard that somebody here can mix a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster!”
Suddenly I understood.
The drink in question is the fictional creation of author Douglas Adams, who gave us “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, and is described as “the alcoholic equivalent of a mugging: expensive and bad for the head” and “like being hit in the face with a gold brick wrapped with a slice of lemon”. Years previously, at another bar, I had as a joke put my interpretation of this drink on the cocktail list, but I hadn’t thought about it for at least six years, much less concocted it. Suddenly now, I was to get my first experience of Towel Day!
Douglas Adams died on the 11th May 2001. Since then, two weeks after the date, on the 25th, his life and work is celebrated by crazies all over the world by donning their towel, getting together to drink “Blasters” and quote passages from the Good Book at each other.
This was all several years ago now and has become a yearly ritual at my bar with the faithful following growing from five to, at last count, sixty-five!
Not having a consequent recipe for this drink (I tend to forget it each year, despite good intentions), it has become a yearly challenge to out-do the previous year’s offering, with some very bizarre results.
Several of these “crazies” have since become my friends, and once again I think about the old wisdom “don’t judge a book by its cover”. How much fun and friendship would I have missed out on if I had stopped them at the door? And how I have wished on occasions over the years that some parties of “normally dressed folk” could behave with the sophistication, decorum and decency of these pink-haired, pajama clad space travelers!
Guys, may you always know where your towel is!
Many things have happened since last Towel Day, among them I have relocated my place of work to Enoteket. None the less the show shall go on, and I have already started planning this year’s event. I sincerely hope to see you all at Norrköping’s Bar at the End of the Universe on the appointed date!
What follows may, or may not, be a past or future recipe for the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster:
1 measure of the strongest absinth you can lay your hands on
1 measure tequila
2 measures port wine
1 measure peach liqueur
Several measures of anything else behind the bar you want to get rid of and know, deep down, should not be served on the same evening, never mind in the same glass!
Blend some cream with blue curacao to create an unappetising grey glob that may be floated on the drink!
Serve in some unlikely receptacle, preferably setting fire to it first, and don’t forget the peanuts (Don’t understand? Read the book!).
Remember that the trick here is to serve something that is really going to hurt in the morning, but that just now actually tastes quite palatable.
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish!