“Getting drunk was good. I decided that I would always like getting drunk. It took away the obvious and maybe if you could get away from the obvious often enough, you wouldn't become so obvious yourself.”
? Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye
This Sunday, March 9, marks the 20th anniversary of Charles Bukowski's death. The King Eddy Saloon in downtown L.A., where Bukowski spent many a solitary night drinking and writing, plans to commemorate its famous patron with readings from some of Bukowski's friends and colleagues. To accompany the event, bartender Jonny Valenti has created the “Ham on Rye”, named after Bukowski's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.
It wouldn't be an understatement to say that Charles Bukowski led a hard life. He drank heavily, loved deeply, felt intensely – and wrote about all of it in a raw, immediate style that made him an icon to many. Not every critic admired Bukowski's prose and poetry, but most of them wouldn't argue that his voice made an impact on a generation and that he's still being discovered today by those looking for a plaintive voice of unfiltered, even bestial honesty about life's cruelty and life's joy.
He spent much of his time downtown, particularly at the King Eddy, once a dive bar now somewhat gentrified by the Acme Group. While the place may be more polished than it was a few years back, it still embraces its gritty neighborhood edge. After all it's been around unofficially since Prohibition and survived the onslaught of skid row. It was the ideal refuge for a man often on the skids himself, looking to wallow in his sorrows and his words.
Whether you are a Bukowski fan or not, the evening at King Eddy will most likely be memorable, but if you can't find a way to mosey downtown, the recipe above will allow you to indulge in some poetic ramblings of your own. Rye, maple syrup, bacon. Even Bukowski might have allowed himself a smile at that one.
Ham on Rye
From: Jonny Valenti, the King Eddy Saloon
2 ounces Rye
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce maple syrup
Crispy stick of bacon, for garnish
1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled half way with ice and stir gently to combine.
2. Strain into a rocks glass filled with several ice cubes.
3. Garnish with bacon.
4. “… drink to paradise and death and the lie of love.” – Bukowski, Soireé
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book “Gin: A Global History.” Email her at email@example.com. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.