Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails


Are you starting to think that I'm being driven to drink as my post yesterday and now, today, is about alcohol? A few comments yesterday expressed concern; I believe there were even subtle suggestions that alcohol isn't the answer.

I want to allay your fears. I'd make the point that I've never been a drinker and can't imagine becoming an alcoholic at the age of 48. I guess you never know, but like I explained yesterday, drinking doesn't make me do anything other than feel sleepy, and I don't really enjoy the sleepy feeling. I'd also add that I'm a very social person, and when I drink I become increasingly not-so-social (again, the sleepiness) and would rather disappear -- to bed, preferably. Alone.

So. If you're new to the blog (and I have gotten some new readers who are very welcome!), you might also think that The Husband has a Mistress. I have gotten comments expressing wonder, astonishment and even admiration that my tolerance is such that I can joke about The Mistress. I'll allay your fears here as well. The Mistress is my husband's Job. He is a chef and literally works 12-20 hours a day six days and sometimes seven days a week. The Mistress is demanding and The Husband has little to any sway over those demands. 

So, we've cleared those things up.

What about the title of this post? It's the title of a book that my son Henry gave me for Christmas. It's very cool, and he was very proud that he got it for me from my favorite bookstore, helped by my favorite bookstore maven, Liz. Here's a little excerpt from the book:

Cocktails were morning drinks. Drinking in the morning often means getting over what you were drinking last night, and that kind of behavior is what they used to call dissipated. If that wasn't sufficiently nefarious, cocktails contained bitters. Bitters may sound benign to modern ears, but at the dawn of the nineteenth century, they were medicine. Adding them to cocktails was the equivalent of dousing one's beer with Nyquil. No one knows for sure how the cocktail got its name, but I am certain it was because these were your wake-up call -- like a rooster heralding the early morning light. And the plumage? Those spicy bitters... If you drank a cocktail, you were a little dangerous, and therein lay the seeds of its fame.
I have to admit that I love both of these words, both as descriptors and for themselves:

dissipated and bitters.


Since I've talked about alcoholism and mistresses, dissipation, bitters and my own tolerance for all of them, including a bit of Tolstoy love yesterday, I think I'll also include a recipe from the book for a drink that might really rock your world. Here it is:


Shake the following otherwise bourgeois ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and strain into a cocktail glass:

1 ounce gin
1 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce cherry brandy (Cherry Heering is recommended)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

What about the photo at the top of the post? Well, that's my paternal grandfather, an Italian immigrant who owned a bar and grill in Harlem. That photo is one of my favorites and causes the most ruckus when I ask the viewer to pick out my grandfather in the bunch. While you might be tempted to think otherwise, there is no alcoholism that I know of in my family.

22 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Grandfather is first on the left, I suspect. Easy.

This is a terrific post, thanks Elizabeth. I've been reading your posts for sometime now and never imagined that alcohol was a problem for you but I had wondered about your husband's mistress.

I'm glad to have that cleared up. I was aware of his absences. This now makes sense. And you get the lion's share of the parenting, no doubt. A tough call.

Lilith said...

I've often said I wished I drank more but I can't seem to get the hang of it. One drink and I'm quite tipsy, two drinks and I have a horrible hangover. I just finished reading a wonderful book. "Bel Canto" by Anne Patchett I think.

I shall have to try your drink recipe one day.

Ellen said...

I need something for the cold that I just got as a belated Christmas gift. At least the family has all left and I can suffer in silence amidst the empty tree and stockings. I can't wait to crawl in bed tonight.

I have missed reading you the past two weeks...I'm back now!

Zoey's mom, Heather said...

I on the other hand am not social and become more so when I drink.

Love the picture and love you with all your drinking and tolerance for mistreses and all. And your love of book stores. Which, when the money tree blooms I want you and I to open one. You running the grown up side and me, the children's section. Perfect for us.

The drink looks yummy by the way.

I got your message. Sorry I missed you. Let's try again tomorrow.

Varda said...

Ah, I should have known that, though California girl you are now, you had New York roots!

Happy New Year, my friend!

Bottoms Up! (From one very occasional mostly non-drinker to another.)

Ms. Moon said...

Hank posted this picture on his image blog quite a while back. I love it. Girl- if a drink makes you feel better, do it, drink it, feel better. I am not worried about you one bit.
Love...Mary

karen gerstenberger said...

I love this post. I didn't know about your grandfather's bar - his story would probably make a fascinating book...have you thought about writing it?

I think a little drink now and then is healthy for us - just look at the Europeans. (Of course, if there is alcoholism in the family, that's an entirely different matter.)

Wishing you, your husband, family & the Mistress a Happy New Year!

Blue Gal said...

I'm going to try this drink! Also, I just downloaded Anna Karenina for free on amazon. Thanks for the notion.

Allegra Smith said...

We have favorites, although we just don't drink unless we have guests.
Isn't that sad? We have more liquor in this house than probably any well stocked establishment, we love to try new things, and unfortunately it is always the ones not available here. But we always find some provider on the other side of the water, as in the Atlantic that is.

My favorite liqueur is Parfait Amour, violets liqueur. But only the one made by Bols which they do not export to the States. So we depend upon the kindness of whoever is going to or already be in Holland and we are pretty well prepared for any "eventuality". I love bitters on Lillet Blanc with a slice of apple or pear. And my favorite Martini is Bombay with Parfait Amour, stirred over rocks.
Served neat with a twist.

The color I guess is what gets me but I must tell you that the taste is to die for. Salute!

Allegra Smith said...

We have favorites, although we just don't drink unless we have guests.
Isn't that sad? We have more liquor in this house than probably any well stocked establishment, we love to try new things, and unfortunately it is always the ones not available here. But we always find some provider on the other side of the water, as in the Atlantic that is.

My favorite liqueur is Parfait Amour, violets liqueur. But only the one made by Bols which they do not export to the States. So we depend upon the kindness of whoever is going to or already be in Holland and we are pretty well prepared for any "eventuality". I love bitters on Lillet Blanc with a slice of apple or pear. And my favorite Martini is Bombay with Parfait Amour, stirred over rocks.
Served neat with a twist.

The color I guess is what gets me but I must tell you that the taste is to die for. Salute!

N2 said...

I love that your grandfather had a bar in Harlem. And that all of his patrons look so happy to be there.

Not worried that you are developing a drinking problem. It is The Holidays, non? x0 N2

SJ said...

I can personally confirm that Allegra's house is well-stocked, having enjoyed a beer (or several) there! How funny is our online world.

Anyway, I echo Ms Moon - I wouldn't worry about you in the absolute least. A drink or two does not an alcoholic make.

Angella Lister said...

well, i wasn't worried. i'm over here doing the same thing actually. and i'm not an alcoholic either, tho we certainly have them in our family! no, my failings lie in other directions and i don't dabble there. drink however just makes me sleep and miss the fun. but every now and then why not? new years in one of those times for me. a glass of prosecco my personal favorite.

i love how your son thought deeply about your gift. such a generous heart and a big love for his mama!

enjoy!

Noan said...

Somewhere between the charming photo of your grandfather's bar, and Allegra's description of the violet liquor, Parfait Amour, I began longing for the days when cocktails were morning drinks ...

Phil Dzialo said...

In the old days, before disability land, we had Harvey Wallbangers ...OJ, vodka and Galliano...now it would burn another hole in my stomach...so sad

Leslie said...

Love the photo and that excerpt was really fascinating.

(and I've said it before, but you are really a very funny person)

susan t. landry said...

elizabeth, i no longer drink, but if i did, i'd be mixing up a very hefty pitcher of those Communists right about now. love the name and photo!

cheers all around, to you and yours, my friend!

--susan

kimmie said...

I would drink more if I didn't have my kids watching me all the time. Especially tequila which makes me laugh ... But vodka makes me cry. Are the spirits of the culture mixed up in the spirits of the country? And a good dark stout makes me want to sit back and listen to music ... I ramble .... But I love the etymology of the word cocktail. I will imagine roosters now.

I love the picture of your grandad. He must have been a great guy.

Verna Wilder said...

Cheers to Elizabeth and The Mistress and the Mermaid and the boys. Cheers to the Husband and the bookstore and the bakery, your cluttered kitchen table and Anna Karenina.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking time to post and to so willingly open your door to strangers who so quickly become friends.

Love to you!
v

Steve Reed said...

Ha! I'm so glad you explained "The Mistress"! I wondered about that too.

Alcohol isn't the answer, but in the evening, a glass of wine or two sure helps. :)

I loved Anna Karenina! I've been on a Bill Bryson reading kick lately, and I've greatly enjoyed his books. I also loved a book called "Stiltsville" about a family living in Miami. The New Yorker published a list of critic's selections (books) in its Christmas issue -- maybe that would help you find some good reading. (I'm sorry to hear the Eugenides book is a disappointment. I loved "Middlesex.")

SECRET PEPPER PERSON: said...

So much to comment on! I see the photo and think what a cool photo and who is that white guy! Really? Your grandfather! Is this true? Because after all you did tell me that Jimi Hendrix was your father....The Artist lived in Harlem next door to Doug E Fresh's mom and loved Harlem. And the book....what an interesting selection! The Communist actually sounds good. And last but never least...my grand mother became an alcoholic in her 80's. Just saying.

fuoriborgo.com said...

I love that photo, and the guys sharing a drink and a laugh together!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...