June 17, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Underberg

underbergSometimes, it’s what you need most. As in this Ode to Underberg, a poem about my pal Jeremy Holt’s favorite thing (and one of mine, too – hopefully one of yours as well). It’s pretty good, I gotta say (the Underberg poem, and of course the Underberg itself).


Ode to Underberg


Walking along on a dusky springtime eve

I heard a noise of a bear starting to grieve–

What was this? I didn’t believe

But it was my own stomach, to which nothing did cleve.

I noticed a candle in a local watering hole,

And headed in to save my soul

(as well as my innards, which seemed a hole

that was collapsing inwards as if chewed by a mole).

I ordered a feast of courses untold,

First bread and cheese filled with blue and mold

Accompanied by flagons of gin made bold

by lime juice, maraschino, violette—served cold.

Next up were plates that would make Hercules strain,

Pastas, ensalatas, empanadas, like rain

Were served alongside even more delicious mains.

I ate more food than any ten men,

The waitress came back and I started eating again

Following greens with green beans and then

Moving on to the sweets, the creams, the puddin’s.

And then, the foods hit my center like a roiling brick.

I groaned, I cursed, my over-eating anything but comic

As I contemplated erupting like a fresh oil derrick.

Was there anything that could undo my stuffed predic-



And then like an angle dressed purely in serge

The waitress appeared or seemed to emerge

From my over-full haze and said through my dirge:

Sir, what you need, is a quick Underberg.

She handled me a bottle, small and in brown paper,

Made a motion of drinking as if in quick prayer,

And I, trusting her angelic look and manner,

Unscrew’d the green cap and turned into a gulper.

The moment the elixir of ‘berg hit my tongue

I felt that perhap’ my indulgence might be undone.

The flavor was of herbs and of spices far-flung,

Backed by a muscular fu tied to a tougher kung

And when the liquid miraculous hit my tum-tum

It cut through the food hitting me like a drum.

It bounced through the sweets all the way to the bottom,

And left me feeling as if I’d barely eaten a crumb.

Oh, Underberg, the god’s must have made you

For people like me, those was are known to

Eat enough at one sitting to turn them near blue.

Oh, Underberg, you’ve made my evening less askew,

And for this I will never forget your wond’rous brew,

Your lovely taste, your dark and magic hue,

Your little bottles, your quick rescue

Of my evening–I’d call it voodoo

Underberg, if I didn’t believe it a higher urge.

And so I left that night without out having to purge,

swearing that, whether in Miami or Pittsburgh,

I would never again be without my savior, my Underberg.

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