We took the elevator to Suave Gav’s top floor suite. The elevator appeared to be infected with cocktail jazz. When we stepped out into the lobby the cocktail jazz followed us. The infection had spread.
Suave Gav was delighted to see LaFlamme and I at his Friday night experimental chutney session and was even more delighted when we presented him with a half-empty bottle of Tequila. “We’ve been experimenting with it for a while,” said LaFlamme.
He invited us into the lounge where the cocktail jazz had taken a firm hold. Later it would require an exorcist to shift it. The room was impressive, with a billiards table and fully-stocked bar. Armstrong had his priorities right. He introduced us to his wife Ethel, and his friends Dick and Jane. Collectively the group appeared to have stepped directly out of a Doris Day movie. The men wore dress suits with bowties, Armstrong topping this ensemble with a chef’s hat and apron. The ladies wore elaborate gowns styled no later than 1959 and appeared to have reality-defying hourglass figures. Even the air seemed tinged with a technicolour haze that twinkled like the crystal chandelier above us.
“Martini,” said Armstrong, handing us stem glasses. “The breakfast of champions.”
“Hear hear,” said Dick, chewing on an olive.
“This one is a watermelon variation based on one of Jane’s original designs. I’ve been working with it for a while now. The idea was to substitute my daily sun-downer with a lighter, summery alternative and even, dare I say it, make it a little healthier with the addition of fruit. Unfortunately today my hand slipped as I was pouring the gin so all pretence of it being a health shake has gone out the window.”
“Nevertheless Gavin, old boy,” said Dick, “it’s a triumph.”
“There is a virgin version, darling,” said Ethel. “Perhaps our guests may have preferred the lighter summery alternative.”
Gavin spluttered. “Good god woman, have you lost your mind? I didn’t give up my Friday evenings to join the Temperance Society.”
The martini was delicious, although LaFlamme and I were both having difficulties with the stem glasses. We’d been working with them for several minutes but were still unsure how best to grip them. We had only ever drunk from tumblers - a practical move on our part, as The Admiral is prone to boisterousness.