Smile Politely

A night in Ernest (Hemingway, that is…)

For our second Date Lab Experience, Tyler and I (yes, Mom, still just friends) decided to twist some of our favorite things together: Literature & Libations. As I sifted through my suggestion list for our next experiment, I though back on dates I’d been on. I adore literature and one of my favorite dates I’d been on ended with a visit to a bookstore and the purchase of a book that would later inspire my senior thesis project in school. Using this with the request that I cover cocktails, I proposed that Tyler and I sample some fine cocktails and literature.

We began at Destihl, a brewery known for its, well, brews and beverages. Channeling our inner authors, Tyler and I each selected a cocktail from the menu and asked our waiter for his recommendation for the third. I choose an Amaretto Sour, my go-to. I feel that if I ever get famous for my literary endeavors, I will be known for my love of Amaretto Sours just as Hemingway is for his Death in the Afternoon (a cocktail that mixes absinthe and champagne), or Oscar Wilde for Iced Champagne. I absolutely adored this version with Amaretto di Soronno as the liqueur of choice. Sweet, but sophisticated with a mildly tart aftertaste, this drink provides a delicious fusion of flavors, all for a cool $5.75.

Tyler selected a Margaritatini, a beverage that boasts being the best of both worlds: a combination of a margarita and martini. This drink was light as a feather, and quite clean. But a warning to those not occupying costal lands: this drink is very salty. Not only was there salt on the rim but there was also salt in the drink. Though this was Tyler’s choice, I wound up finishing it. I love salt, though the last few sips did taste a bit like seawater. Tyler proved to be an expensive date, his choice running me $7.75.

Our waiter recommended the Basil Bulleit. Upon description, this drink is truly a wild card. It contains bulleit® bourbon (thus giving it its name), simple syrup, lemon juice, basil, cabernet sauvignon. This was Tyler’s favorite, and not for the faint of heart. This drink is strong and tastes it, though the bourbon and wine mix in surprising ways for a rich, flavorful beverage, costing a diner $8.25.

We decided we couldn’t get away with merely showing up for drinks, so we chose two appetizers to pair with our cocktails. We went with a Destihl favorite, the cheese curds, hand breaded with cheddar for $8.25. They made for a lovely popable snack, but with all appetizers, seem to be gone too soon. (I’m curious as to why restaurants don’t sell appetizers in meal-sized portions. I have a feeling there would definitely be some takers there, AKA, myself.) The one thing that I will say about these curds is that the texture outshines the flavor here. Neither the cheese or the breading stood out, and I left want a little bit more from them. Tasty, but not magnificent.

Continuing our desire for warm foods on this rainy evening, we selected the potato croquettes, which according to the menu were hand-breaded potato cakes with chimichurri and maple chipotle sauce for $6.25. These were Tyler’s favorite of the two, crunchy on the outside with a soft, mushy inside. These croquettes certainly serve as the perfect comfort food; the potato was beautifully soft and rich and Tyler delighted in the cilantro based chimichurri sauce drizzled artfully under them that added an artfully executed brightness to this dish.

After drinks and deep conversation on philosophy, politics, and art (read Netflix, Adele’s new album, and the new relationship tools on Facebook) we skipped over a few blocks to Jane Addams Book Shop. This fabulous used bookstore winds its way up two and a half floors, filled very literally floor to ceiling with books on every topic imaginable. We each selected books for one another to read. We sat on the cozy couch in a nook on the second floor and read up on the finer points of T.S. Elliot’s poetry journal and the politics of England’s wool trade. I would rate Jane Addams high on the bookshop sex appeal scale for the number of secluded spaces, comfy furniture and variety of subject matter available.

This date wound up being another smashing success, simply because of how involved we got to be. Rather than experience something as a spectator like a dinner or movie, we became active participants in our experimental drinking and reading choices. If you’re looking for way to seduce a grad student, professor, or English major, this may be the perfect date option for you.

Destihl is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Jane Addams Book Shop is open Monday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday thorough Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

All photos by Stephanie Svarz.

Related Articles