i had two memorable cocktails once, in paris. i was in the bar hemingway of the ritz; a small room with dark wood and leather, decorated with books, guns, and telephones belonging to papa hemingway himself. there were only a few exclusive tables, and i felt the presence of my french alter-ego, simone: dressed to the nines and raising my eyebrow in sophistication, one of the elite, a true parisienne. the waiters wore white coats and gloves. i ordered a drink i’d read about years prior, that had long since disappeared from the cocktail menu, but which they readily made for me. it involved fresh strawberry puree, a whole passion fruit, and house-infused mango vodka. it arrived in a martini glass, bright orange and red, and on top of the drink sat a huge, perfect white orchid. it cost 37 Euro… about $50 at the time. i had two. what can i say? it was sublime, and i wasn’t footing the bill. you would have had two, too.

i had two memorable cocktails again, in bihar. i was in a concrete apartment up a concrete flight of stairs under a pink mosquito net. it was holi, and my housemate’s husband had arrived for a visit. since women here can’t buy alcohol, he had purchased a bottle of White Mischief Vodka (For Sale in Bihar Only). i was slightly nervous because last month a number of people died in neighbouring west bengal due to bad locally produced booze, but i cast my fears aside and agreed to drink it up for the holiday. my face, neck, upper back, and hands were all stained semi-permanently by the dyes villagers had smeared upon me. even now, despite washing with face wash, body scrub, soap, and dish soap, my face is rimmed with hot pink and neon green. i figured a drink or two would help. i submit to you now the cocktail recipes, for your imbibing pleasure should you wish to recreate an authentic bihari beverage experience. i recommend drinking them in the order below.

bihari bloody mary:

in a small glass mix equal parts vodka and spicy ketchup.
add one green chili, whole, and top with water.
serve room-temperature without ice in a salt-rimmed glass.

bihari white russian:

in a small saucepan boil water. to this add:
one scoop nescafe instant coffee powder
one scoop raw sugar
one scoop Instant Infant Formula
pour into a glass, top with vodka, and serve hot.

and there you have it. happy hour in bihar.

somebody get me back to paris…