Comeback sauce or Kaopectate?

The first time I went to Istanbul I thought a majority-Muslim country would be my own private Betty Ford Center. And what a lovely surprise it was to learn Turkish rosés were not just poured in every bar, restaurant and museum around our hotel in Beyoglu, but they were close to world-class. Wine (plus raki) meant as much to the Istanbul experience as sexy lingerie shops catering to women in burkas. So I should have known the reports in the last year of crackdowns on sidewalk cafes were ominous. From there it had to be an easy slide to jacking up the price of booze and then, eventually, simply prohibiting the secular stuff. Still, I didn’t realize just how grim it had gotten until my consort and I trekked to Grand Central in the cold the other night for a reception for a friend’s work on a promotional photo collaboration. It was billed as a “cocktail and exhibition opening,” but what they were pouring was barely mocktails (as in: syrupy lemonade). I’m no marketing genius, but if I were trying to make Turkey look as alluring as possible to the big wide/NY world, I might at least try to make it taste worldly. I kinda doubt the rich-looking older woman I overheard saying “let’s get a glass of wine before we walk around” is going to be booking a flight to Istanbul anytime soon. Unless she wants to dry out.