So when I read about a woman on Brooklyn's frontier who had opened up a liquor store with the NYC's largest whiskey collection, I knew it was going to be something special. LeNell's in Red Hook was a Mecca to lovers of fine spirits. Her collection was well picked and full of new discoveries. It was there I met Master Distillers, became a bitters freak and bought gin from a real claw foot bathtub.
I don't get bitter about the success and confidence that some women have, for it is all good for the sisterhood. But somehow I really felt like I needed to be Lenell's friend. Was I envious of her collection? Her access to great spirits? Oh hell yes. Was I bitter? Hell no.
Strangely enough, however, it was our mutual love for a man, not a whiskey that really brought LeNell and I together as friends. Over dirty stories and a lot of laughter, she became a guiding light to me, full of fun, bravery, and a lot of moxie. Her home was just like her soul, full of detail and overflowing with beauty. And the beating heart of it was her massive collection of rare and interesting spirits. It took all my will power not to dive in head first.
Lenell (and her Whiskey) helped nurse me through and rather horrid break up. So when she had to change her plans due to an asshole landlord, I looked forward to offering what comfort I could. And when faced with the decision to leave NYC I remember thinking about how this city has tossed me about. I have left it many times, but when I come back, it is always still here. I told her, "We will always be here for you Lenell, New York will be here. But for love? Ah I would cross oceans and continents for that."
Well she only had to go to Mexico to follow her love. She and her wonderful man are opening up a resort, magical grotto for those inclined to love and imbibe with reckless abandoned...a place for me, clearly. I can't wait to visit Casa Coctel and my beautiful Lenell.
And what of her marvelous collection? I was able to wrap it carefully in my loving hands. Dish by dish, glass by lovely glass, bottle by delicious bottle, we spend weeks packing her treasure. We invented new cocktails and I drank so much rye, I could feel it escaping through my skin. And when I kissed her good-bye, it was with great happiness and love for her and her new adventure. No bitterness at all.