I live in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, in a building that had been, until the mid-1980s, home to the Brooklyn Cathedral Preparatory Seminary. In a nod to the building’s neo-Gothic architecture, Cathedral Prep’s yearbook was called Gargoyle, and its newspaper the Spire. And there’s a squadron of very impressive gargoyles perched around the upper perimeter of the building. These aren’t squat grotesqueries lurking in the shadows, but lean creatures with wings folded back and mouths agape, stretching out from the building as if they’re about to strafe the pedestrians on the sidewalk below.
Using Strega, whose name means “witch,” in the Gargoyle & Spire seems fitting. Aged in ash barrels, it’s a spellbinding Italian liqueur dating back to 1860 that’s made up of dozens of herbs and spices, including saffron, which is the secret to Strega’s distinctive yellow hue.
Reprinted with permission from Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.