This week I’m going to take you guys back. Way back to the first cocktail I ever learned to make. This all came about from baby proofing my house. My Mom has been here, helping me out, and it had been suggested by several people that my craft cocktail accompaniments shouldn’t be within reach of little Bur. I had to agree, but didn’t want to banish all my toys to the garage Besides, Trev’s “Priceless” Bourbon collection gets to stay in the house, why should my liquor not get to be displayed? My Mom, who always has great ideas, suggested taking some of my books off the book shelf and using those shelves to house my craft cocktail necessities. I love books almost as much as I love dogs and drinks, but since I have moved to an eReader, I only use a few of the books on the shelf, so I felt safe putting the rest in storage, until a larger library can be had for them. Besides, the cookbook collection, which I actually use on an almost daily basis, resides in the kitchen and I was able to leave room for my entertaining and dog books. When I was finished with the project, I knew Hemingway would have been proud! I had combine all of my favorite things in one case! Bur plays on the bottom shelf, so yes, he is included in that list!
Anyways, I have gotten way off track! While we were moving everything, Mom picked up a bottle of Seagram’s V.O. and asked, “Who drinks this? I’ve never seen you use it in a cocktail?” I had actually forgotten the bottle was there. I only made drinks out of it when I needed some memories and inspirations. I told her it was there for Papa and I would make one whenever I needed to remember him or wanted inspiration for a new project that reminded me of him. I’m ashamed to say that the bottle was dusty, as I haven’t sat down with Papa in a little while.
That night, I sat down and had a V.O. and Coke, over ice (the exact way he would “order” it from me when I was his bartender) and hung out with my memories……
When I was a young girl, about 10 or so (ok, probably younger than that ), I stayed with my Grandparents, Mama and Papa quite a bit. I learned all sorts of useful life lessons while staying with them, bartending being one of them. They lived in a condo at the time and the bar was conveniently located in a cabinet that was at my level. My Mama kept all of her entertaining ware in the same area and I
always had fun setting the table for dinner, or taking the flowers we had cut and making a center piece. She really helped to cultivate my love for entertaining!
My Papa, on the other hand, helped to cultivate my love for cocktail mixing and use to let me drive, a lot, but that’s a story for another time! His favorite drink at that time in my life was V.O. and Coke. Because of that, I have never been able to look at Canadian Whiskey without thinking about him. He liked two fingers of whiskey and just a splash of coke, over ice, of course! This was also one of the first times that I heard “on the rocks.” You can imaging where my little girl imagination took me! I had thoughts of my Mama going out into the yard and collecting the finest rocks for my Papa’s drinks! You can imagine my disappointment when I found out they meant ice cubes!
And so my training as a mixologist began! At the time, I had to use 3 – 4 fingers, depending on how strong he wanted his drink that night, since obviously my fingers were small and two of my little fingers would never do! While I kept the essence of the drink to what he ordered, he had no control over the garnishes that I added to it! We use to watch old black and white movies together and I always remembered the bartenders adding cherries on little plastic swords or a lemon twist. He indulged my creativity. I packed those glasses full of whatever I could find in the kitchen. My Mama, who also indulged me in almost everything, made sure that my bar-ware was always stocked with colorful plastic swords or tiny umbrellas and that I always had cherries to skewer for the perfect display. I learned how to peel a lemon to get the perfect swirl for the rim of a glass. Granted, Papa didn’t want all those extras in his drink, but since I made it, he pushed the umbrella out of the way every time he took a
sip and ate the cherries, just to make me happy. When I found out that they made collector swizzle sticks, all bets were off! We were on a constant mission to find different swizzle sticks to put in Papa’s V.O. and Coke. I amassed quite a collection! At some point, I obviously wanted to be drinking fancy drinks with him. That’s when I learned to make a Shirley Temple, basically ginger ale and juice from the jar of cherries, but again I was indulged and got to make myself cocktails with as many garnishes as I could fit in a rocks glass. We would sit together, he in his Lazy Boy, me either on his lap or on the couch next to him, watching whatever old black and white was on that weekend, sipping our cocktails.
It’s crazy the things we remember from our childhood. I can remember exactly the way the drink smelled and that I liked to use the blue swords more than the red or yellow. I have no idea why, I just liked the blue ones. I could also make three cherries fit on one sword. That was a really big deal to me; seeing how many I could make stay on one sword. I’m up to four now, but I think they are making the skewers bigger… To me it was more than a mixed drink. It was the time we spent together, mostly on the floor, while he put together whatever toy I was into that week or sitting on the counter helping Mama finish
dinner while he sipped around the umbrella and ate the cherries from his old, Lazy Boy. We had fun and he made me feel important. That’s really what this cocktail means to me.
Bur is still a little young to be mixing drinks, since he’s just now able to pull himself up to a standing position! However, I hope sometime in the future, he and I can play bartender together the way Papa and I did. He can have a Shirley Temple with as many cherries or whatever
garnish he wants floating around in it and I’ll drink whatever he makes for me, and move the little umbrella out of my way every time I take a sip. We’ll sit together and watch old movies and he can start to amass his lifetime of wonderful memories to carry him through his life. At least, that’s what I hope the future holds for us. I know the first time I show him what “two fingers” of whiskey looks like and he has to use three of his little fingers to make it work, Papa will be looking down on us and smiling.
The drink recipe this week is really easy.
1. Buy a bottle of Seagram’s V.O. Canadian Whiskey
2. Put ice in a rocks glass
3. Pour in two fingers worth of whiskey. Use three or four fingers if you’re little or just need a little extra!
4. Give it a splash of Coke. Just enough to darken the color of the whiskey in the glass slightly. You don’t need much.
5. Sit down, sip your drink, and spend some time with your past.
6. Call your Papa and tell him you’re thinking about him. If you can’t call him, just say hi, he’ll hear you.
I hope this week’s drink brings back some great memories for you. Try to think about what drink means the most to you and make one this weekend. Enjoy it and keep the ingredients around for when you need some memories and inspiration. You won’t be sorry you did, I promise!