A couple of years ago I wrote a novel that, in production, attracted the nominal interest of a movie producer. Later came the chatty email informing me that said producer had been righteously flattened by the #MeToo juggernaut, rather taking the wind out of the project's sails. Later this month, that novel, Haint Punch, is being released. Which is swell. The publishers now want a short story, as a sort of sidecar to the novel.
Obviously, I need to hightail it to my super-secret compound on a barrier island and bat out some tale of intrigue and derring-do. It's not that secret, honestly; it's a rental. And there is no law saying that you can't rent an homage to that most booze-soaked of fair-weather writers, Ian Fleming, and his tropical retreat, Goldeneye.
- Richard Murff
- Nuance is Dead and Pusser’s Rum
But what to quaff? These sandy climes always make me think of old sailing ships, so I opted to try some super-hoppy ale — like the Navy used to dole out. These ales were fairly high in alcohol because, in those days, battleships were just barely seaworthy, multi-berth coffins. The nice fellow at the Cash Saver pointed me to Meddlesome's Nuance is Dead New England Style IPA. With a name like that, I wasn't expecting a subtle brew, but if anyone was going to over-hop an IPA, why not Meddlesome?
Pouring it out into my rinsed glass, it was cloudy. Not peering through briny sea water cloudy, but like looking through ... bread. The brewery's motto is "Never Settle," and this one didn't. Not that that put me off. The slogan for the old Murffbrau was, "It's not real beer, unless you can chew it." So I dove in and ...
These are the people behind 201 Hoplar, one of Memphis' great craft brews. For all I know, this might be the cosmic ideal of a New England IPA. Nuance is Dead wasn't bad, it was just too much. I had been warned, "This stuff is so hoppy it's hard to get in the growler."
The aftertaste is a little "clingy." The weird thing is that the longer I thought about it, the more I wanted to try it again. I also wanted to shave my tongue. Make of that what you will.
I'm headed down to my poor man's Goldeneye to bat out a masterpiece, so I need to concentrate. To cut the taste, I experimented with something called Pusser's Rum — Original Admiralty Strength: Gunpowder Proof. I try not to get too excited about packaging, but this struck the right vibe. Fleming was a Navy man. The gal at Buster's described it as the kick of moonshine and smooth of rum. I hate moonshine, so I said, "I don't think so."
Without missing a beat, she said, "Well, we sell it in a larger bottle, so if you're unsure, this one is clearly the one you should be buying." Fortune 500 companies pay top dollar to teach sales people how to just hurtle over objections like that. Well done.
I can assure you that Pusser's Rum cut the taste of that loaf of beer I drank earlier. She wasn't kidding about the moonshine kick or a good rum taste either. It's a wallop of a dram; Mrs M. could smell it on the far end of the sofa. Drinking it neat really is like gunpowder, and over ice the whole thing opens up. Still a bit hot, but velvety too. An intriguing combination.
I have no one to blame, the warnings were right there on the label. Like the Nuance is Dead, the Gunpowder Proof rum was good — certainly worth a try — but just a little too much for me. Neither was the sort of thing that a very nearly award-winning writer quaffs before typing "It was a dark and stormy night." Both just might work wonders, however, after typing "The End."