The Toast

Last week Central Patti and I had the privilege of celebrating the 1 year anniversary of closing on our house in Moblery. We loved the house dearly, but it was time to make the move to K.C. Not taking the occasion lightly and never missing the opportunity to celebrate to drank a toast to the occasion. The toast spawned a memories of another toast a couple of years earlier.

This toast was probably the longest in the history of celebratory drinks. In fact it was six years in the making.

The toast started one cool crisp evening on the Kansas City Plaza as my wife and I were having our annual Christmas outing. The Plaza of Kansas City is an exciting area filled with shops, bistros and lounges designed for individuals who enjoy the finer things in life and do not mind paying for them.

The Plaza is about three or four blocks wide and about eight blocks long with wide sidewalks along both sides that bustle with patrons until the early morning hours. It has a median in the middle of the four lane road dividing the east and west traffic. While the Plaza is not exactly Time’s Square it could however it could be looked on as the Big Apple’s step child.

As my wife and I sat at the bar of the restaurant where we had decided to have our own “Merry Little Christmas” and after ordering a couple of martinis, vodka martinis, of course, we noticed a bottle incased in a lighted glass cubed prism. The bottle appeared to be made of crystal (which we later discovered was true) and contained dark amber liquor.

The crystal decanter was about half full, a point of no significance at the moment, but would later prove very exciting.

As Patti and I enjoyed our second martini our curiosity was beginning to rise.

Patti has been my constant companion since about 1988 or about 21 years. She is a beautiful woman with beautiful big green eyes that can excite a room full of people by simply sitting and smiling. This trait will usually outshine her physical beauty, which is itself not quite Helen of Troy stunning, but can mesmerize women as well as men. Her broad shoulders, muscular arms and legs and large breasts make her a stunner in a short low cut evening dress or skirt.

We sat quietly, oblivious to our fellow patrons working on our third martini when Patti could stand it no longer.

“Pardon me sir” she said to the bartender. “What is in the glass case?”

The bartender started to answer, however his response was turned into a stutter as he was caught in the gaze of Patti’s seductive eyes. He gained his composure and informed us that the decanter contained a cognac, Louis the Thirteenth to be exact.

“Care for one?” he asked. The he hurriedly added, “It’s only $80.00 a shot.”

Patti and I both stared, not so much in shock, but in wonder. A wonder that for a brief millisecond made us think whether we should have a taste or not. I could tell Patti really wanted one as she turned to me and said “Well it is Christmas!”

I smiled as I have looked into her beautiful eyes daily for many years and I quickly overcame her spell that had cost many a man an $80.00 shot of brandy.

I replied “Patti, as you have never even had a cheap brandy, I do not think you could get the full enjoyment from the “Champaign of Cognacs.”

I was going to add that we were in the middle of our fourth martini and we may very well be getting a little too tipsy to enjoy a brandy. I did not, however as we were seasoned martini drinkers and it would take several more martinis before we were too tipsy to the point of not being able to enjoy this drink.

She frowned for a brief moment and then smiled and said, “You’re absolutely right, I think I’ll pass.”

“Ok” the bartender replied and began to mix our fifth martini, as I had gestured in the direction of our empty glasses while he and Patti were conversing, that our glasses were empty.

Now fast forward about five years as Patti and I were having cocktails once again at a first class restaurant that overlooked the Lake of the Ozarks. Patti was well into her third martini and I was enjoying a mineral water and whiskey, Pinch I do believe. I can not usually recall the exact type of whiskey I drink with mineral water as they all taste good in this combination. Sometime a nice scotch sounds good and sometimes a mash and the next time a Canadian whiskey or bourbon will interest me.

We ordered dinner, Patti had the bisque followed by a veal and steamed asparagus, I had the lamb, spinach and mixed steamed vegetables after I had enjoyed a nice Caesar salad. With our meal we enjoyed a nice bottle of Boudreaux.

After dinner we ordered a carafe of pressed coffee and shots of Irish cream. Upon serving our liquor I noticed two serving carts had appeared. One cart was full of dessert delicacies which would be fitting of the crowned heads of Europe, and the other full of every type of desert liquors imaginable. Irish cream, brandies, chocolate, raspberry liquors and several bottles of ice and desert wines.

I realize that in some circles ice wine is classified as a desert wine; however I believe there is enough difference that you can make a case for separation of church and state.

Located exactly in the center of the cart, which I like to think of as a slice of heaven, was a small wooden cask with no visible markings.

As we finished our first cups of coffee and Irish cream we looked at each other and with curiosity on our faces. One of use was going to have to inquire about the contents of the cask. It was I that took the initiative and asked first “Say madam, what is in the wooded cask” I asked the waitress as I pointed to the center of the cart.

“That is our own special cognac, which is hand blended by the owner” she replied

Patti and I smiled simultaneously both seemingly recalling the evening five years earlier and our introduction to the finer cognacs I had since learned that Louis the Thirteenth was indeed to most popular of the elite cognacs and the price had been steadily climbing. Of course we did not for a moment believe that the cognac incased in wood was even close to the one encased in glass in the Kansas City bistro that we had encountered five years earlier, however we both also knew that we were not leaving the restaurant until we had tried this specialty cognac.

We decided to settle our dinner bill and to enjoy our brandy sitting on the veranda over looking the lake. This brandy was everything we had hoped it would be and was priced at a pauperly price of only seven dollars a serving.

As we finished our drinks and discussed where we would go next on this beautiful evening, the both of us had a twinkle in our eyes and ever so tiny of smiles on the corner of our lips. For we knew the next time we had cognac it would be a very special event.

Patti and I had just returned from one of our bi-annual trips to Fort Lauderdale and were on our way to attend the wedding of my youngest brother. Being that it was a holiday weekend we both had Monday as a holiday and we decided to drive to the plaza on Sunday morning. The occasion was Patti’s birthday and we were going to have a cognac to celebrate. Not just any cognac, mind you, but Louis the Thirteenth.

We arrived at the plaza around noon and wanted to make an entire day of our celebration. I generally make it a habit to celebrate Patti’s birthday for an entire week giving her small gifts daily and having a more than a couple of special dinners, however we had agreed to celebrate this one for an entire day.

Our attire for the afternoon social was casual; Patti wore a nice skirt outfit and I slacks and a loose fitting silk shirt over a dress t-shirt. We stopped at the first bistro, The Lodge and found that on Sundays they had a wine special. This bistro served over one-hundred different wines by the glass and on Sunday they offered all opened varieties for a modest price of five dollars a glass. We both ordered a glass of Chenin Blanc accompanied by a pleasant conversation with the bartender.

Justin educated us on the wines available and told us about the policy of having so many wines by the glass which was why they had their Sunday wine specials. The atmosphere was very relaxing as the restaurant a very nice dining area in the lower level and the bar in the upper area. In the bar were several high pub style tables and a nice lounge on he side that consisted of plush settees and sofa style chairs arraigned around a fireplace. Justin showed us the food menu on my request and said they had live music until 9:00 that evening. We finished our second glass of wine, thanked Justin and said we would see him that evening for dinner.

We strolled down the windy plaza sidewalks hand in hand looking for our second stop of our “Hemingway” like Sunday. I do not remember the name of the second stop bit it was not near as gourmet as the first. Patti and I hurriedly finished our glasses of Sauvignon Blanc as we wished to find a bistro with a little quainter atmosphere. Also we wished to find a sidewalk cafĂ© as this was a wonderful late spring day.

We cut down one block and over three and spotted the Tuscan Grill. We had actually stopped in this restaurant before, meeting some friends for one our annual Christmas outing on the Plaza.

The Tuscan Grill is a large two story restaurant with both upper and lower outside seating. We took a table on the sidewalk level patio and ordered a couple of appetizers, zucchini strings and a cheese platter accompanied by a nice bottle of Chianti. Carl poured our wine which was exceptional for twenty-five dollars a bottle and served our appetizers. About half way through I was staring into Patti’s big green eyes while reaching for my wine. I grabbed the rim pulling the glass over and in mid-spill as I attempted to right the expunging glass of vino I pushed back to hard and snapped off the base spilling wine on my olive green shirt and off white slacks. Of course I was mortified as the passer buyers on the sidewalk next to our table stared on. Some stared in confusion, some with compassion, and some with ridicule. I cared not about them as what was running through my mind was one, what shall I do now and two, I am really enjoying the afternoon’s festivities. I also was thinking about how I could rectify this situation and continue to move closer to “The Toast”.

Carl our waiter quickly addressed the situation and in a flash had the mess completely cleaned up with the exception of my stained slacks and shirt which of course he could do nothing about. As I sipped wine from my replaced glass that Carl had supplied I spied a men’s clothing store across the boulevard. We finished our wine and appetizers and headed across the street.

In a flash the haberdasher had assessed the predicament I was in and made a couple of recommendations, waited while I tried on a new shirt and slacks, removed the price tags and bagged up my wine soaked discards.

Back on the street we wandered into the next bistro, consumed another glass of wine and proceeded to the next moving in the general direction of our motel to have a drink with our favorite mixoligist and change for dinner.

Martin is one of the most competent bartenders I have ever had the pleasure of being served by. He is a true professional and a master of his field! He is about six foot two slightly overweight with giant paw like hands and a teddy bear demeanor. After conversing with him for only a few minutes even a stranger can tell he is highly intelligent person and takes his craft serious.

Patti and I consumed a couple of martinis as we alternated between the shower in our room and the bar drinking and discussing current events with Martin.

At about eight o’clock we had Martin call the Lodge for reservations and a cab for dinner as we had decided that the site of our first stop in the afternoon would be a great place for dinner. We paid our tab, tipped and thanked Martin and out the door we went.

Not knowing it yet as the cab dropped us off at the steps of the Lodge; we would be in for a real treat! Patti had the veal and I ordered the lamb both of which were a perfect fit for the bottle of Pinot Noir we choose to accompany our dinner. As we finished our dinner and the last of our wine the owner of the restaurant stopped over and asked if we had enjoyed our dinner. We assured him we had and told him how much we liked the atmosphere and his idea about offering his wine at a special rate at the end of a week. He was a pleasure to chat with and as our conversation died he said,

“Thanks for stopping; I am going to send you over a complimentary chocolate fondue for desert and a special bottle of desert wine”.

Which he did, with his compliments I guess for our conversation and patronage of his establishment. The wine was a Botrytis, which is a semi-sweet wine that pared excellent with our fruits that we dipped in our chocolate fondue. As we exited the establishment we again thanked the owner and the bartender Justin assuring them we would return. (Which we have several times since) We walked out into the night and proceeded in the direction of the Capital Bar and Grill for “The Toast”.

The Capital, has long been one of our favorite drinking establishments and is responsible for our current knowledge of infused vodka martinis, most notable is the Stoli Doli. We had a seat at our usual pub-table in the bar and I immediately ordered two shots of Louis the Thirteenth.. I happened to over hear the waitress pass our order to the bartender, who replied,

“Are you sure that is what they ordered”?

Our waitress attempted to ensure him that we had indeed ordered this elixir of the Gods and the bartender was also put at ease as he glanced in our direction seeing me give him the thumbs up.

The drinks arrived and both were more than ample proportions of about double the normal size. The size of our drinks immediately tweaked our curiosity.
Patti and I both glanced at the crystal decanter that housed the golden brown liquor that we were at that very moment savoring the aroma. We were both simultaneously disappointed as the bottle still contained brandy. We both knew that had we consumed the last of the bottles contents we would have been rewarded the bottle for a souvenir. Now this may not sound like a big deal, however keep in mind the bottle was made of Baccarat Crystal and was valued around three-hundred dollars American, when completely void of cognac.

We were not going to let the reserve in the bottle disappoint us. I turned to Patti and offered up the toast that had taken six years to make.

“Happy Birthday Central Patti, Santee”, I said.

We tasted the cognac, that we had longed to taste and both smiled. It was a taste of heaven, a pure piece of ambrosia. We took a while to finish our drinks, trying not to rush ourselves as to savor the moment and at the same time attempting to compare the taste to other liquors we had enjoyed.

As our cognacs dissipated and the conversation continued, we again found ourselves staring at the bottle that contained at most one more serving of Louis the Thirteenth. (At least a serving as generous as the ones we had just received)

I immediately took out my cell phone to dial our friend “The Doctor” with whom we had made a pact several months earlier. The three of us had frequented dozens and dozens of fine eating and drinking establishments and our pact was that if we ever found a bottle of Louis the Thirteenth we would all have a shot and hold a drawing to see who would get to keep the bottle. We informed our friend of our dilemma and had he accompanied us this weekend we would be at this moment holding a drawing. We had a good laugh sent our regards and hung up the phone.

We finished our brandy with small talk about the quality and while we tasting a high quality liquor we both had expected more. What exactly “more” was I do not really know, however Patti commented that she had expected a sensation more in line with an orgasm. It should also be noted that she had a smile in the corner of her lips when she said this.

As we continued to recap our day and evening the waitress approached and asked,

“Would you care for another? It appears there is only one shot left and if you finish you get to keep the bottle!”

Patti and I both smiled and with not a bit of hesitation replied,

“Why yes we would!”

We did request she split the last of the brandy into two servings so we could both enjoy another round which the bartender kindly did.

As we finished the last of the bottles content the waitress presented use with the crystal decanter freshly rinsed. She also produced a digital camera and took a couple of pictures which were presented to us.

Patti and I finished our drinks, walked to our hotel, made love and slept the sleep of the dead. I am not sure if it was because of the day’s festivities, the sex ,or the toast that had taken six years.


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