Whiskey-Ouzo Fix

Arthur Clay's, 7266 Manchester Road, 314-645-0300

You can go to the pool. To the county fair. To the demolition derby. If you're bored, you can rub yourself and your honey down with insect repellent, sit on the front stoop and watch the cars go by. You can grab your boombox/iPod and set to walking along the river listening to Sly & the Family Stone's seminal, glorious rejoice, "Hot Fun in the Summertime."

You can pick peaches or go to that tiny park in Soulard, where sometimes the nice firemen will plug the hose into the sprinkler shower. You can drench yourself with cold water. You can park your butt in front of your home-entertainment system and wile away the hours in a chill that negates Mother Nature. You can dine outside on a patio, or, if you prefer your dining experience to be weather-neutral and away from the napkin-snatching breeze, you can sit within Arthur Clay's elegant dining room, flush with beauty.

This is part two of a Maplewood trilogy, the first being last week's celebration of Schlafly Bottleworks. Clay's actually sits next door to the brewery and has been open since December of 2003. In addition to an excellent seafood-heavy menu, Clay's has a kick-ass drink list, filled with odd but engaging libations that look weird on paper but are good going down the pipe.

The Whiskey-Ouzo Fix is one of the best drinks we've ever had. Seagram's 7 Crown whiskey (blended in America, hence the spelling variation) is poured with fresh lemon juice and sugar over cracked ice. On top is a shot of ouzo, the excellent, anise-flavored Greek liqueur. Taken straight, ouzo's been the precursor to many whacked-out nights. As a complement to a refreshing, sour lemonade-whiskey concoction, ouzo's licorice accent perfectly jumbles, and cools, the taste buds.

Enjoy one or both of these drinks and your load will lighten and you'll want to take a walk. Because outside right now on a summer evening, in the words of poet David Berman, "We're within inches of the perfect distance from the sun/The sky is blueberries and cream/And the wind is as warm as air from a tire/Even the headstones in the graveyard/Seem to stand up and say 'Hello! My name is....'"

We can't resist another few timely lines from the same Berman poem, "The Charm of 5:30."

There's a shy looking fellow on the courthouse steps, holding up a

placard that says "But, I kinda liked Reagan." His head turns slowly

as a beautiful girl walks by, holding a refrigerated bottle up against

her flushed cheek.

She smiles at me and I allow myself to imagine her walking into

town to buy lotion at a brick pharmacy.