I'm back with an idea and quite possibly not a good one. What if you start in the present with the N with a pint of beer / glass of whatever in front of him. Have the beer trigger the memory. I don't know, maybe the beer is cloudy, say, which segues to the night sky of his memory. Or maybe the setting is trigger, maybe something about the pub, a woman he sees there, or he's at another wedding though now much older say. Maybe there's even a way to have the memory unfold inside the beer (through a glass, darkly, your "liquid world") -- as if he sees it there before him. Then come back from the memory to the present and the glass of beer, and find some of showing that this present-day beer doesn't doesn't recapture this (it's 'diluted' maybe, or something about 'aftertaste'). Basically, I'm suggesting trying the standard three-stage "descriptive-meditative" structure
as a less straightforward presentation.