Sunday, March 11, 2012

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Just Some Ice Cubes, My Good Man — White Whiskey at the '21' Club

Next week, I'll be in Northern California and, come July, be back in New Orleans for a talk on brandy with Paul Clarke at Tales of the Cocktail. But between NorCal and NOLA, there's New York City, where I haven't stepped foot in years. Of course, there won't be time to do even a quarter of what I'd like, but that's the way these things go.

I am, however, already pulling together a punch list for where to drink, where to eat, and of the distillers, bartenders, chefs, and cheesemongers with whom I want to reconnect. In all likelihood, I won't eat at '21' Club, but I did pull The '21' Cookbook from the shelf when I recalled that bar book collector Brian Rea used to work there.

Flipping through the drinks section (so nice to find drinks in their proper place at the front of a book rather than tacked on, as if in disgrace, at the end), I found an old Gene Ahern illustration. Ahern was a 20th century cartoonist whose comics at times took bizarre turns (Robert Crumb, among others, took inspiration from his work). In this undated panel, Ahern pays tribute to Mac — presumably Colonel Maxwell "Mac" Kriendler — with a little spot of unaged tabletop corn whiskey.

Unaged? Shoot, it's practically instant. Sure, the illustration is tongue-in-cheek, but who would've guessed, mid-century, that raw whiskey would one day earn enough of a mantle of respect that fancy bars across the country would carry "legal" moonshine without the slightest hint of irony?

Michael Lomonaco and Donna Forsman (1995)
The '21' Cookbook
400 pages (hardback)
ISBN: 0385475705

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