“Evening, Ladies. What’ll it be?”
Emma sat down on the bar stool. The winter cold had set into the hardwood seat and seeped right through her skirt to the back of her thighs. It made her shiver on this frigid night. It didn’t help that the bar was directly across from the door and this place was so damned popular. She just knew it would never be closed long enough for her to warm up before another blast of January slithered along the floor and coiled up her legs.
“A Brandy Alexander.”
“Jesus,” Katie whispered, rolling her eyes as only a twentysomething can do when her parent does something so unbelievably stupid. “I’ll have a gold margarita, please.” She said it to the bartender, but was looking at Emma with a passive aggressive smile. A mean girl.
This was a mistake, Emma thought. And not for the first time since leaving the house.
“Emma, this is a Mexican place.” Gina was Emma’s closest friend. They met only one month after Emma moved to Chicago. They had been through hookups, boyfriends, marriages, child birth, death, and now, divorce together. There was no one Emma was closer to. They cherished each other. Closer than sisters. But sometimes Gina could be utterly clueless.
“What’s in it? Maybe I can make it for you.”
“No, you can’t,” snapped Katie. “It’s a classic cocktail from, like nineteen-fifty-whatever, that she and my father used to drink like all the time. And if you make one for her she’ll just wallow in it.” She turned to Emma. “We’ve come here - on a Friday night - with you - to get you out of the house and have a fucking good time. You’re having a margarita like everyone else.”
The bartender escaped awkwardly into his phone and slowly withdrew from the scene, wandering toward the refuge of the kitchen pickup window. “Great! Now you scared off the bartender!” Katie exclaimed and spun on her stool to pout at the packed dining room. A moment later he was back. Gina asked for a gold margarita as well and he started mixing.
Emma sat, hands in her lap, staring blankly at the back bar, mirrored and up-lighted, bejeweled with glowing bottles of all shapes and colors. Gina placed her hands on Emma’s and gently spun her stool so they faced each other. “Em, it’s been five months since the paperwork was final. You have to get out of the house.”
Emma sighed. “Please, Gina.” A divorce after 42 years of marriage. She shouldn’t have to explain the grief and devastation to her closest friend. So they sat holding hands, staring past each other.
“Ok, ladies, here you go.” Katie jerked back around. “Two gold margaritas and a Brandy Alexander.” Katie grabbed her straw and rolled her eyes as she sucked. He leaned in to Emma. “I looked it up. We just don’t have any nutmeg for the top.” She looked at him. She felt her lips catching his smirk. “But we’ll call it a Brandy Alejandro so we don’t piss off la princesa over here," he said, nodding towards Katie. He winked. His smirk nearly broke into a full blown smile as he walked down the bar to another customer.
Gina looked at Emma. What almost broke on the bartender had on Emma. A smile spread gently across her face. Tears brimmed but did not fall. Her heart warmed so, that she didn’t even notice another winter gust blowing in the open door.
3 oz cognac or brandy
2 oz dark creme de cacao
4 oz half and half
1 cup crushed ice
Nutmeg to garnish
Combine the cognac or brandy, creme de cacao, half and half and ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into 2 chilled highball glasses. Sprinkle with nutmeg to serve.