“Absinthe” — William T. Vollmann

Russia’s tales clang from the tongues of bells; and her cannons point outward. Ghosts guard the tall red notches of the Kremlin Wall. In Petersburg, the ice-clad trees of the Summer Garden aim at the stars; if necessary, every branch can be converted into an antiaircraft gun.

The largest cannon in the world frightens off Germans with its lion-face. A red star upon a tapering greenish pedestal shines ready to detonate invaders.

Below the fourteen escalators of the Congress of Nationalities, snow howls through vast, shining squares, but stills when golden domes like helmets of soldiers begin to nod and clang. (In Russia they add gold and silver to their bronze for finer sound.)

Onion-domes bristle with crosses, and within each gilded church, haloed saints stand ready to leap off the golden walls and fight. Napoleon once burned the Yellow Arsenal, but saints rushed forth from their metal-topped tombs; and afterward the arsenal’s white arched windows grew back. Then the girls decorated everything with green and yellow tiles; and electric-colored light striped the Moskva River, which is lined with regular snow-walls and tapering towers.

Read the rest of William T. Vollmann’s “Absinthe” at VICE.

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Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon (the Cocktail, Not the Book)

Ernest Hemingway is famous for writing classic novels like For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and The Sea, and The Sun Also Rises. Apparently, he also liked to imbibe the occasional alcoholic beverage.

A recipe for a drink named after Hemingway’s novel Death in the Afternoon was published in the 1935 cocktail book So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon by Sterling North and Carl Kroch. Here’s that recipe–

Add one jigger of absinthe to a champagne flute
Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescence.
A small amount of sugar or Gomme syrup can be added to round it out, especially when using a verte absinthe.

Here’s Hemingway’s note on the drink’s origin–

This was arrived at by the author and three officers of the H.M.S. Danae after having spent seven hours overboard trying to get Capt. Bra Saunders’ fishing boat off a bank where she had gone with us in a N.W. gale.