Cause it hurts. But there you are, a mere 40 yards east of the River Nile in the saloon of the Steigenberger Hotel in Luxor, staring at their back bar and wondering: just what happened here?
Sure, you’re hip. You knew coming over the Atlantic that Egypt is a primarily Muslim country, and many Muslims eschew booze outright. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy it. Whiskey’s not illegal. But it’s hard to come by unless you know someone in Libya willing to smuggle in a good bottle of hooch, and even then, your pickings are slim.
Sitting in the bar staring out the window at the Nile, you really, really needed a drink. You’d recently been hurled unceremoniously off the back of a dromedary. Your left knee is sporting those cartoon lightning lines signifying pain. But your choices are . . . crap. There is a Scotch blend so beige you can’t remember its name, a famous Tennessee Whiskey we all definitely know the name of, and the worst brandy in any bar.
If you were a local, you’d know someone who brews aragi under their sink, and I’m not saying it’s good, but it would be a lot cheaper than a $60 single finger of the worst brandy in the bar.
But you’re not a local. You’re an idiot. You’re a former camel pilot (thirteen seconds counts), a veteran, and you’re injured. Your doctor (you are your doctor) has prescribed likker as a remedial philter, and your knee strongly agrees with him (you).
Perhaps the long-term benefit of the Arab Spring will be a broader mindset on the subject of imported spirits. Maybe one day you’ll find a nice Whistle Pig or even a rare Copper Fox single malt hiding behind the Tennessee Whiskey we are all familiar with.
Until that time, the question remains, as you turn your creaking neck away from the placid waters of the great African river to the empty spaces behind the bar where good whiskey ought to manifest and make an expensive meaningless determination.