This was another day I was really looking forward to. I love a good whisky sour. I remember ordering my first one when I was at a bar on Cape Cod with my brother, Mark, who was living there for the summer before his senior year of college (coincidentally and in a moment of synchronicity, his son actually just left today to start his senior year at college). I had gone to visit him for a few days and it was an interesting peek into his life. He was enjoying his last summer of freedom. One night, we went out to a bar in Hyannis – a club really – with his roommates and friends. I was having one of those nights where the thought of another beer just made me too full and I had reached my limit, so I thought about what else I could have. I went with a whisky sour. Albeit a bit of an old fashioned choice, it was cool, refreshing and did the trick.
That was the same night that has been ensconced into the annals of Mark and Dan history because later in the evening, one of my brother’s friends got in a little bit of a scuffle at the bar. In the ensuing chaos, Mark, always my protector, looked at me and said, “Dan, go home!” So I walked back to his house. However, Mark’s recollection of that moment does not recall the same exactness of his instructions to me. In his version, he just directed me to stay safe and away from the melee (maybe because my fake ID had his name on it). So, in the midst of being in a potential brawl and taking care of his buddy who had a broken nose, Mark suddenly had to worry about his little brother who had disappeared. His night had him travel to the hospital with his friend and then searching the Hyannis area for a lost brother. Meanwhile, I was at his house snacking on chips and ready for bed. That was life before cell phones kiddies.
Whisky Sours actually bring me to memories from my childhood at the Lake, our summer cottage on Lake Candlewood in CT. Dinnertime there was always separated into two groups: kids and adults. Kids would eat around 5 PM. We’d all gather round the table on our porch, have a feast that couldn’t be beat, then we’d clear the table and make room for the adults. When adult hour came, the porch became off limits to kids (a true torture when it was the only room with a television). The adult hour would naturally start with a Happy Hour at the bar and that’s where I would witness my first whisky sours. It was a Happy Hour staple for my Aunt and Uncle (Peg and Doc).
I always thought all the adults were drinking whisky sours, but my Mom tells me it was usually just Doc and Peg. My parents would join my other uncle, Father John (a priest, just to clarify why we called him Father John), in one of his famous Manhattans.
There were three reasons why whisky sours stood out to me and why I remember them so well to this day. Number one was the box of Whisky Sour Mix (see above). It was such distinct packaging – colorful and appealing. The box was always found in the corner of the bar on the porch. I probably looked at it every day during the summer for over ten years, so it has etched itself into my subconscious. The second reason was because the drinks were always garnished with fresh orange slices that were cut into half-wheels and kept on a plate throughout Happy Hour. Kids were not allowed to eat the oranges until the adults were finished with Happy Hour (literally forbidden fruit), but if I was lucky, when they brought any unused slices back to the kitchen, they were up for grabs. As long as I could fend off my cousins, I could feast on one of my favorite treats. The last reason why I remember whisky sours was because my aunt would make the mix in the blender. The sound of a blender ringing out in a quieted house is very distinct. It also meant that kids had to be quiet as Adult Time was happening. But my real question, why did Peg use a blender for this? The instructions say to shake up the ingredients, not blend, and I am not aware of a frozen whisky sour, so why use a blender? I will say that the froth she would achieve on her drinks was unbeatable.
Today I happened to be visiting my sister in Connecticut as my Mom was making a venture outside her house for the first time all summer (she had a fall back in May and has been pretty much confined to her house ever since). I brought along the whisky sour ingredients as I knew MB would be up for celebration as she has been throughout the quest. After some lunch and some relaxation by her pool, we decided it was time to enjoy. I filled a cocktail shaker with ice and poured in the whisky (I used Canadian Club because that has always been the whisky of choice in our family). Added the packets of Whisky Sour Mix (one for each drink) and then added equal parts water. I put the cover on and then shook the crap out of it. I had my nephew Zack help me shake it up too which seemed like a job an almost 13 year old kid would enjoy. The key to any good sour is to really shake it up well so you can achieve maximum frothing. We had excellent results.
I have to give Doc and Peg credit because these drinks are fantastic summer delights to enjoy while sitting poolside (or lake side). They are light and refreshing. Not too boozy, but just enough. MB had her doubts on whether or not she would like it, but it turned out she enjoyed them. My Mom refrained (probably not the best time for her to drink), but I bet she was tempted at how refreshing they looked. Success and cheers to Doc and Peg! We could feel Doc looking down on us and giving us a wink of approval.
When I got home, Lola was at her sister Katie’s house celebrating our niece Eva’s fifth birthday, so I headed over there to join the festivities. It was about 8 PM and it was just Katie and her family, her neighbors and Lola left. The kids were excited because Gary had a secret stash of fireworks he was saving to mark the occasion (nothing big, but big enough to make a five year old’s day). I brought my whisky and whisky sour packets with me (doesn’t everyone travel like that?) and even though I was offered my share of wine or beer, I asked if they minded if I made a whisky sour. They did not, and Gary even joined me. These drinks are really tasty! And as the kids danced around with sparklers in their hands, I celebrated with my whisky sour with Lola by my side under a starry night sky. That’s a pretty nice whisky sour day.
Next Up: National Webmistress Day (uh Lola, I’ll be on my computer all day)