Herbs of Wall Street Vodka

Okko had just started playing Zelda – Link to the Past. I was helping him get past the hard parts and felt appreciated. My residency was coming to an end and I was driven to do all the small little things I was inspired to do when we arrived. It was a Saturday and after watching Okko play through the morning, I felt like a bad parent and decided to take him on a quest.

“We are going to collect herbs for a potion,” I said.

“Herbs? In Manhattan? Yeah right.”

We swapped trains at Union square and got off at the Wall Street station. Okko acted like he was bored and it was a chilly day, so we went for bagels. I took a brown paper bag from the store to collect the herbs and attempted to boost morale by telling stories of how the island used to be covered with plants, and that a hundred years ago there were 100,000 horses in the city. He concentrated on the bagel. Right outside the shop, we spotted a flower basket decoration which was  attached to a street light.

“Just like Zelda,” I celebrated.

“You can’t even reach them,” Okko replied.

I spotted a second basket closer to ground level but it turned out that its flowers were plastic. I kept ranting about herbs but Okko remained unimpressed. Tourists flocking to the Charging Bull statue pushed us deeper. They were all queuing to pose under the bull’s testicles. Okko was curious but after witnessing the performance repeated identically by the first ten people, we continued on our way. All the people were around the statue which made the streets feel broader.

The first real plant we spotted was around the corner, a common holly. It was a big bush planted in an ornamented vase which read 1692. It was high, next to a building’s entry and I had to reach for the leaves. Okko was embarrassed and didn’t want people to see me messing with the plant. From the stairs I spotted a white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) which I know contains a lot of vitamin C.

Okko’s confidence grew; he mentioned how in Zelda the player has to hack their way through bushes to claim diamonds. He spotted an aronia close to the cedar. We didn’t mind the other tourists anymore and headed to the gigantic Christmas tree in front of the stock exchange. The heat of the city and sunlight reflecting from the skyscraper windows had disturbed the spruce’s senses. Some parts of it were drying out and others were developing fresh needles. Right as we stood under it, a very small branch fell off and landed on our feet.

We returned the Charging Bull and took a spin around the small park behind it. As a highlight of the trip, we spotted chives, which perhaps were planted by the Occupy campers, or maybe had escaped from a billionaire’s salad. We tasted it and smiled. I packed all the herbs and we headed back to Brooklyn. I crammed the best parts into two vodka bottles. The other was a gift for Honza. I prepared them as his son Gilbert played Zelda with Okko.

“Can we have a taste?” Gilbert asked. Okko smirked.

I sampled the vodka in two weeks, after its colour had changed. It tastes good. We tried it out with friends two months later, after we returned to Helsinki, and I’m having a taste as I write this. It smells faintly like resin; it is spiky, but with an earthy tone, like freshly cut grass. The taste has a hint of garlic and there is a hue of sourness to it. It improves my HP by 50.

Edit (20200115): The batch I prepared for Honza exploded soon after they returned to Denmark. Gases emitted from the plants formed enough pressure to break the bottle! I got a new small 10ml flask, used chopsticks to pull some plants out of my bottle and poured a shot in. I then sent it to Denmark and got confirmation it was received yesterday: “I’m looking forward to tasting the wall-street brew (I will not let it explode this time)”.