A Pub Tale

Evening, I’m your host this late evening.

What’s your pleasure? Ale? Cider? Metheglin? Whisky? Buckdancers Choice you say? Good — So let me get you a Caife Gaelac made with freshly brewed Blue Mountain and a splash of an aged single malt as it’s bloody cold out there with the sleet and rain we’re getting. Put your wet boots and jacket over by the fire. Yes, that’s Jack playing his fiddle and Iain also on fiddle in the Neverending Session…

Hrafnfreistuor with an aside. The Pub licensee has an interesting tale — he’s Viking/Irish Gentry, with black hair that has reddish tints, worn in a pony tail. Like all good Vikings he has a love for the road and the homestead. He rides a big black hog, with the entire engine chromed, a small faring, and studded leather saddle bags. All too well he knows his food and drink, with tastes honed over the ages. Evan was drawn into the human world by the restless energy of conflict, but also loving the warmth of the hearth. His music is that of a wild fiddle, and of the restless drum. A hard man, Evan, often a silent observer not noticed by those without a sensitivity to the fey. With green eyes and pale, slightly sallow skin, he’s only really handsome when he wants to be.

But back to Iain, I remember a tale he once told a visitor. It’s worth repeating here…

Ahhh, one moment, fille avec les cheveux rouges as we must pass through the Pub to my office so be very quiet as we don’t want to wake all the sleeping musicians, elves of various sorts, and even an occasional staff member who very much look like very happy felines. They have been like that since late last night. Why so you ask? See that stack of now absolutely empty casks over by the end of the bar? That is the culprit.

But first, a rather long aside is in order before I answer that question…

The Pub as a setting in fantastic literature has long and interesting history. There’s The White Hart in Arthur Clarke’s Tales from The White Hart, Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon in a series of novels by Spider Robinson, the unnamed recreation station aka bar in Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time, Munden’s in Orstrander’s Grimjack series, Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille — which Steven Brust created in his novel of the same name, Tolkien’s the Inn of the Prancing Pony, Gavagan’s Bar in a series by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the Gaff and Slasher Inn as depicted by Peter S. Beagle in The Innkeeper’s Song and Giant Bones, and many, many more including the many pubs Ellen Kushner has created — Rosalie’s in Swordspoint which is where Richard St Vier and Alec Campion drink and meet clients; The Brown Dog is where wannabes go to be Bad, and and The Fall of the Kings which has The Blackbird’s Nest which is where the Historians all gather throughout the book, especially Basil’s disciples, and The Green Man (!!) is where the Northern students hang.

My all-time favourite bar is Strangefellows which is in Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. It is reputedly the oldest bar/drinking establishment in the world with Merlin Satanspawn, possibly the most powerful magician who ever lived, being buried under the cellar.The matter of the Pub as a richly textured setting in fantastic literature led rather quickly to the discussion in our Pub of the varied drinks one finds in those stories such as John Taylor’s liking for wormwood briandy in that series. Of course everyone knows about the blue coloured Romulan Ale of Star Trek lore not to mention The Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster which is the cocktail from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, which he describes in this way:

The effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick. The Guide also tells you on which planets the best Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters are mixed, how much you can expect to pay for one and what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate afterwards. The Guide even tells you how you can mix one yourself. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sells rather better than the Encyclopedia Galactica.

Look, I could go on for hours over many, many pints of either the Avalon Applejack that Bjorn, our esteemed Brewmaster, just tapped, or more of the Dragon’s Breath Stout we just finished, describing the discussion that resulted in all these sleeping beings but let’s describe the drink that Bjorn did which is responsible for what you see on the fine summer morning.

Black Death is its name — a name chosen by Winter, our master barkeeper, after noting it was so dark that no light what-so-ever penetrated a pint of it as it sat on the bar. He said wryly that it is an ale in the style of a Russian Imperial Stout but those usually only have an alcohol by volume of nine or ten. Not this one — it came in at a staggering twenty three point seven after the icing process was done. One sip was absolutely amazing — really smooth and intensely smoky with strong bitter dark chocolate yaste to it.

At first they danced and played quite well, but a few pints was more enough to put every soul here who tried it save WInter into a sound sleep and we’re not sure how he avoided their well deserved fate. Gods Ball, only the fiddlers in the Neverending Session who are single malt only drinkers stayed awake and they decamped long ago to play to a more lively audiance. (I stuck with Niven’s Irish Coffee instead.) It’ll be hours before even the Fey among them recover enough to want breakfast and a fresh drink, so let’s look over that draft of the interesting story you’re working on as it’ll be quite quiet here…

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