Friday, March 6, 2009

Where the Drink Comes From: Father Knows Best

Whenever people come in the bar and ask for a Bloody Mary, I tell them, I make the second best one they'll ever have. My father makes the best one. I'm not going to divulge the secrets here (at least not so soon), but when I think about drinking and where I learned the most before bartending, it's my father. We had a cat named Dewars and I remember liking the taste of scotch at a very young age. 

My tastes for alcohol changed as my father's changed. We shifted to bourbon, then manhattans. He added a little cherry juice, one of my trade secrets. We played around with martinis. He was the first person to teach me about apple martinis (bad! but pretty!). We liked the orange ones better---Stoli Oranj, splash of oj, splash of something sparkly---wine or soda depending on what's available. He had a stash of Godiva liquor in the fridge which went great on top of ice cream and Van Gogh Espresso vodka in the freezer. Perfect on the rocks or straight up. But my favorite drink recipe of my father's is what was known on the Bar Rouge menu a few years back: The Down and Dirty. I named it, but dad taught me the recipe. Vodka, olive juice, dash of gin, and a few dashes of tabasco to taste. 

Once a woman came into the bar and asked for a Seabreeze (an easy drink, but not ordered as much). She was surprised that I didn't have to ask what was in it. Again, I owe that to my father who made pitchers of them before we went to the community pool. It was the perfect summer drink. Grapefruit is one of my favorite flavors. I used to love The Body Shop's grapefruit shower gel (now I'm more of a Satsuma girl), but one of the new drinks for the spring on the Silverleaf menu (~yes, I just divulged my location~) will involve grapefruit and cinnamon. The inspiration comes from a typical favorite breakfast, half a grapefruit sprinkled with cinnamon. And that's a toss back to college breakfasts with my friend Annie in the student center. I don't remember how we came to add the cinnamon or if that happened years later, but it matters to me that every drink or every recipe has a story or memory. Someone to share, someone to say cheers, to clink glasses with and have a good time. 

For me, drinking always is about these kinds of connections. What I drink usually comes from a story, a person who drank it, who cracked open a Rolling Rock and passed it to me, or who procured a bottle of Old Grand Dad whiskey from her purse and said, tonight is a beginning, love.

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