A couple weeks ago, I was casting about for ideas for this month's Mixology Monday, and I flipped through Dr. Cocktail's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails (a truly wonderful book, by the buy), looking for brandy recipes. I was intrigued by the Filmograph Cocktail for a couple reasons: not only its wonderfully evocative name ("redolent of old nitrate stock and silent-film stars", as Doc puts it) but also its ultra-obscure ingredient. Kola tonic (similar to a cola syrup) is apparently big in South Africa (what do they do with it there? Inquiring minds want to know) but nigh-on unavailable Stateside. Praise be to the Internet -- it's findable, but I wasn't willing to pay for a bottle and shipping for something that I wasn't sure would even get there in time for Mixology Monday. So I put that thought aside, and looked to the Sidecar for inspiration. (The result.)
A few days later, I was in the shower (or on the subway, or some other place where Google isn't immediately accessible), and it occurred to me that I could just search for "kola tonic nyc" or some such -- this is a huge city, after all, and it seemed likely that there'd be some sort of South African expat shop that might stock the stuff. But the next time I was in front of a computer, I'd forgotten all about it.
Fast forward to a couple days ago: I was in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, after visiting a friend in the hospital, and I walked past a store with one of those kiddie rides outside. What made me stop, however, was that the fiberglass airplane had been lovingly painted in the livery of South African Airways. Curious, I poked my head in the door and found myself in this South African restaurant and shop...and wouldn't you know it, they were happy to sell me a bottle of Rose's Kola Tonic.
(Can I just say something parenthetical here? I just love that I'm lucky enough to live in a place where I can stumble across an obscure cocktail ingredient without even looking for it, and it makes me want to open my eyes even more to the undiscovered delights that will cross my path in the future.)
So, then: the Filmograph is the obvious next step, and whatever else I can throw together with this stuff. (Hmmmm...mix with some Pyrat or Cachaca? And maybe some lime? We'll just have to see, won't we?)