Ever heard of a cocktail called a Mint Julep? How about a Mai Tai?
Yeah; me too, so why is the publicist from Empower Public Relations sending me emails listing them among ‘Five Cocktails You May Not Have Heard Of’?
The question—which started off as a serious one—becomes rhetorical thanks to my buddy Brian Howlett. Brian is a social-media-marketing guru from California (word: If becoming a guru is on your bucket list of things do before you die, social media is an easier pathway than studying the Vedānta for six decades then sitting on a mountain waiting for some moke to ask you a question) who made the following transcendental observation:
I’ve heard of these cocktails not because I am a lifelong śiṣya of spiritual knowledge based on the ‘The Essential Hindu Bartender’s Guide’, but because I’m old.
Specifically, Howlett (who’s way, way older than me and likely drinks Moscow Mules out of a copper mug) suggests that the list compiler was probably a card-carrying Powerpuff Girl womanana who really hadn’t heard of a Mint Julep or a Mai Tai.
Which is fine, because she’s probably hotter than most women Brian’s age.
For the record, the other three on her mystery drink list were the Cairpirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail; Soju—Korean rice liquor, not even a cocktail—and the St. Germain—made with ‘blooming elderflowers from the Alps’, which I suppose you’d have to get a Swiss guru to pick for you.
Jerry Thomas, The Swami of Swigology
I write about wine a lot, but I have an equally soft spot in my hollow leg for classic cocktails and their origins, and of course, for the indisputable, irrefragable, unequivocal Grand Guru of Grog, Jeremiah P. Thomas (1830 –1885).
Nicknamed ‘The Father of Mixology’, Thomas was a tavern owner and hotel bartender who was in such demand during the Gold Rush that in his heyday, he earned more than the Vice President. Author of the original American cocktail book The Bon-Vivant’s Companion (published in 1862 by Brian Howlett Press; Chico, CA), Jerry Thomas is credited with inventing the Martinez—precursor to the Martini—the Blue Blazer (made by igniting whiskey and pouring it from glass to glass), the Tom Collins and the Flip, made with raw egg—this was an era when real men didn’t whine, they simply dealt with their salmonella.
Speaking of eggs, Thomas was an odd one. Fond of dressing fly with Parisian gold watches and kid gloves, he had a strange fixation with gourds and sat as president of the National Gourd Club, and, despite being a lousy Wall Street speculator who died broke, I am willing to bet my entire 401 k that he never heard of St. Germain or a friggin Soju and would have snickered like a banshee if he had.
The next time I have one too many bourbon and waters (2012 bartenderesses: Made with bourbon and water ) and try to scam on one of you twenty-something Powerpuff echo boomers, I have no intention of learning how to pronounce ‘Cairpirinha’ to do it. And if I use ‘Soju’ in any sentence, it’s gonna be: ‘Soju come here often?’
As far as Soju goes- it is not a cocktail but an evil narcotic innocently disguised in a beer bottle shape. Fortunately it erases memories.
As far as cocktails you never heard of, check out the real olde-timey cocktails at the Henry Ford- it’ll put your brain Caleb Carr reference- light that fuse and you’ll be looking for the burny stash in their olde-timey pharmacy.