Filled with an angry despair while contemplating the howling void at the center of existence, I decide I must seek solace in the company of like-minded individuals, people who have read Kant and Nietzsche in the originals, people who understand Mann's works besides The Confessions of Felix Krull. I enter Old Heidelberg (1810 Fountainview, 713-781-3581). Everything looks pretty much the same as I remember it from my first visit 20 years ago. The bar area has been enlarged, but otherwise alles ist in Ordnung. Or is it? I see a familiar face, Seona Mikolaitis, who has been the cocktail waitress here for nine years. I take a seat at the bar and ask her to bring me up to date. She introduces me to the bartender, Sefik Dokara, a native of Bosnia. We talk a little more, and I learn other news. The original German owner sold Old Heidelberg to Karim Zangeneh, who is from Iran. He comes over to say hello and seems to be a very charming man, but I don't think he can discuss Kant in the original with me. Talking to Ms. Mikolaitis, I discover she is from a Sephardic family who emigrated from Yemen to Israel, where she was born. She has a Greek last name courtesy of an ex-husband. Thrown by this unexpected display of diversity, I ask Dokara to make me an echte Deutsche cocktail. He obliges with his original Old Heidelberg Special.
Old Heidelberg's Special: It is strong and a bit sweet, but does carry a scent suggestive of berg and edelweiss thanks to a bit of good Kirschwasser in the mix. Then I drink to Brüderschaft, the new 21st-century American kind.
One half-ounce Kammer Black
One and one-quarter ounces Asbach Uralt brandy
Splash of Coca-Cola
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Fill a stemmed glass with ice, add the ingredients, stir and serve. Repeat until the sensation of anomie, like the kind felt by Gregor Samsa on that first morning in The Metamorphosis, leaves you.