June 02, 2011

Mixological Magic

If I had the use of my body, I would throw it out the window.

Jane Brown

There is no sign above the door, and a heavy black curtain lies immediately behind the plate glass. In the middle of the window, a portrait of Samuel Beckett is suspended. The door is ajar, exhaling Cuban tobacco, and affording a glimpse of blood-red leather. The passer-by passes by. There is no contrivance of attraction; no desire for passing trade to cease its passing.

The curious can find out. Behind the door lies a body, fibrous and bloody, moving to the syncopation of a Coltrane beat. There is black bile here, but there is also passion. Cigars circulate in the lungs, and the blood is thinned by the spirits. We sink into muscular arm chairs, feeling inside out.

A server appears and hands us a book of Beckett criticism. Bound at intervals between the leaves is the cocktail menu of a late-modern imagination. Behind the bar, the mixologist cracks eggs, sprays vapours, and tastes his work. He is the engine room of the senses, creating enchantments to dazzle the eye, mystify the nose, numb the finger, and invigorate the palate. The shaking and stirring of his chemistry is a Pavlovian stimulus to the salivary gland. We lean back, go with the flow.

We are in Beckett’s Kopf, Prenzlauer Berg’s most refined cocktail bar. We are reluctant ever to leave. Floating on ten-euro martinis, the room embodies us. We are essential, internal organs. We are the je ne sais quoi of character in a physiological environment. The elegance of strong alcohol strips the paint of our exterior and leaves us – artifice exposed – the men we were supposed to be.


  1. Very well done, Sir. Great writing!

  2. Outstanding, Mr. VB.

    My existentialism book group (now defunct) discussed Waiting for Godot last year.

  3. Thank you Hilton. And good to see you around these parts again.

  4. I have a framed picture of Samuel Beckett sitting on my desk that says 'Quand on est dans la merde jusqu'au cou, il ne reste plus qu'a chanter.' A constant reminder for me to sing when I'm up to my neck in shit :) I love it.

  5. I am grinning like the Cheshire cat, that was sultry and exhilarating and beautifully written.
    What a portrait,a study of ageing fearlessly.

  6. Kyna, I've been singing all day. And yes, the other too.

    Tabitha, so long as the rest of you doesn't disappear, I'm gratified that I could generate a grin.


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