We drank a round of Martinis, small-talked, then some of us drank a round two. With those, we retired to the front room more a salon, its white walls colored by an eccentric ensemble of paintings. Next to a polished piano stood a drinks cart, and on it an assortment of bottles more like you’d find in an apothecary. There were unmarked things and things written in French, and several labels that could barely be called that, so few markings were there. “This,” Barnaby Conrad said, holding one up, “just showed up in the mail one day.” The contents were brown, mysterious, and by now half-gone. He couldn’t remember what it tasted like, what it even was.
“Let’s open one of these,” he said, opening two.