SCOTCH WHISKY PUNCH
Steep the thin yellow shavings of lemon peel in the whisky, which should be of the best quality; the sugar should be dissolved in boiling water. As it requires genius to make whisky punch, it would be impertinent to give proportions.
* * *
We began this endeavor, you and I, after grabbing a copy of Jerry Thomas' book from my shelf. Do you remember the book? I know there's been some drinking between now and then, but really, it has just been a few days.
- Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
- He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
- He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
- His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
- They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
- I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
- His day is marching on.
- I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
- "As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
- Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
- Since God is marching on."
- He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
- He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
- Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
- Our God is marching on.
Whoops, sorry, little help? Lend me your hand? Fell off my soapbox.
*dustdust* Ok, back now.
- In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
- With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
- As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
- While God is marching on.
...maybe the Professor's fortunes, linked so strongly to that little book, maybe they rose only because it was something so superfluous. A celebration of the American cocktail? Really? But another American war rages while a pretty bauble like Avatar reaps rewards all out of proportion to its worth. And while we are fortunate enough to still have the option to buy the Atlantic or Harper's, it's instead People and Us Weekly that are purchased more frequently.
Lord, how much longer do you think we'll be able to buy the Atlantic? Or Harper's?
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
- He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
- So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
- Our God is marching on.
Sorry, soapbox again.
Really, all I meant to say was, wow, what a cool little book. And also, well, here's a little something I know you know about me. My book problem. And it's not so little. When a book calls, it's impossible for me to turn away. So when we grabbed the Professor's book from my shelf, you commented on what a pretty copy it was. And it is. Hesperus, in London, did a fine job. And at only £9.99, a bargain. But still. It's a copy, and you know how I feel about copies.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
- Glory, glory, hallelujah!
- Glory, glory, hallelujah!
- Our God is marching on.
What you don't know is this - New Year's Day, I found one for sale online. A stunning edition of the Professor's book. Published in 1887, two years after he died, it was the last updated edition of his book ever produced. Such a glorious little beauty. So I bid on the book. And for a heartbeat, I had the high hand. But just for that moment. So I bid again. And again. Each time, with the auction's end coming ever closer, I could feel the thin volume in my fingers. Could see it in yours. Imagined the highs we could reach, you and I, if we held an original of the Professor's book. Bid, damnit, bid again.
And we did, and we did, but in the end - we lost. The quarry escaped. Jerry Thomas' Bar-Tenders Guide, published by Dick and Fitzgerald, sold for $307.88.
We should have bid in London. £190.46? We could have offered that. Doesn't sound so dire in pounds.
So anyway. That's really what I wanted to tell you. That I caught sight of the Guide on the very day after we agreed to go on this journey together with the Guide as our guide. I don't believe in coincidences, and I know you don't, either. And yet - it eluded us. Such is life. We'll still make do, yes? Make some more delectable drinks, even if we refer to a copy.
But, you know, eyes and ears open, ok? That rustling sound you hear might be another original edition creeping along.
So let's get ready to pounce.
In a time of war, nearly any pretty art that is not profound but receives praise could be seen as reaping disproportionate rewards. And, Avatar has a not-so-subtle anti-war theme. In light of that, I'm thinking what you're really saying is that you weren't that crazy about Avatar?ReplyDelete
Well, that and you almost picked up an original edition of the Guide.
P.S., Is that really the entire Guide recipe for scotch whiskey punch?
Ah, Geeze, now I have to relinquish Writer Secret #8. Don't tell anyone, ok?ReplyDelete
Writer Secret #8: Sometimes we write things, knowing they will get a reaction, just to get a reaction.
Is this lazy? Yes, it can be. Philip Roth's latest book, The Humbling, has some really bad - almost offensively bad - sex scenes. But the funny thing is, people were talking about Mr. Roth again. Fuming about Roth again. And I won't posit that his fumbling sex was intended to stir the pot, but, um, maybe?
So when I wanted to take a shot at our current Pop Culture, I aimed for this week's biggest target. Mr. Literal - I often wear his hat when it suits me - could argue that Avatar cost a few hundred million dollars to make, and since it's already collected more than a billion, it has received disproportionate rewards and that isn't necessarily a knock, just an observation.
Mainly, I was trying to say that even in times of war, we still watch movies, listen to music, and go to parties. I was just struck by the fact that this cool little book by the Professor, this lovely Guide that has me enthralled, come out during the worst conflict we've ever faced. And in spite of that, it earned a following for itself, riches for its author, and is still in print almost 150 years later.
I do wonder if Avatar will be watched in 2150. I can't make a reasoned argument about that because I still haven't seen it.
Yes, yes, I dissed it without having seen it. But that gets into Writer Secret #37.
And yes, that is the recipe in full. When they begin a post, I'll include them word for word.
Yes, it's interesting how art, profound, frivolous, practical or other, can thrive in times of adversity - the Guide is indeed a good example - hard to imagine living in the U.S. in the time of the Civil War. Re. the recipe being reproduced in its entirety in one sentence without giving proportions (and instead offering the curious reader a jest about impertinence almost as long as the recipe) ... my observation is that I think the Professor would have been a fun drinking buddy!ReplyDelete
Nick P., may I just say that Janine I WENT TO SEE Avatar last weekend on what we thought was YOUR RECOMMENDATION! (Perhaps I misheard your enthusiasm at New Year's Eve as a personal endorsement.) But anyway. I wanted to let you know we are reading, and that so far you are far exceeding the literary performance of that Julie person from that movie about Julia somebody. Is there a correlation between the length of the blog posting and the number of drinks consumed?ReplyDelete
Brad! Um, ok, I had a few drinks at Harry and Natasha's, but I'm pretty sure it was Nick K who enthused about Avatar. I mean, sure, I have perhaps opined on books that I haven't read, restaurants I've not frequented, the occasional album I haven't heard, but Avatar? Criminy, if I led you there, all due apologies! Unless you had a fabulous time, in which case, you can thank me anytime.ReplyDelete
And while there should be a correlation between drinks consumed and length of blog, I'm trying to write well after the drinking part. If that changes, I'm sure it will be readily evident.