I wouldn't do this again (probably), but in honor of Gary, instead of a link I'm posting the whole damn thing.
an exerpt from "Bourbon by Percy Walker"
Bourbon does for me what the piece of cake did for Proust.
1926: As a child watching my father in Birmingham, in the exurbs, living
next to a number-6 fairway of the New Country Club, him disdaining both
the bathtub gin and white lightening of the time, aging his own Bourbon in
a charcoal keg, on his hands and knees in the basement sucking on the
siphon, a matter of gravity requiring cheek pressed against the concrete
floor, the siphon getting going, the decanter ready, the first hot spurt
into his mouth not spat out.
1933: My uncle's sun parlour in the Mississippi Delta and toddies on a
Sunday afternoon, the prolonged and meditative tinkle of silver spoon
against crystal to dissolve the sugar; talk, tinkle, talk; the talk mostly
political: "Roosevelt is doing a good job; no, the son of a bitch is
betraying his class."
1934: Drinking at a Delta dance, the boys in bi-swing jackets and tab
collars, tough-talking and profane and also scared of the girls and
therefore safe in the men's room. Somebody passes around bootleg Bourbon
in a Coke bottle. It's awful. Tears start from eyes, faces turn red.
'Hot damn, that's good!'
1935: Drinking at a football game in college. UNC versus Duke. One has a
blind date. One is lucky. She is beautiful. Her clothes are the color of
the fall leaves and her face turns up like a flower. But what to SAY to
her, let alone what to do, and whether she is 'nice' or 'hot' -- a
distinction made in those days. But what to SAY? Take a drink, by now
from a proper concave hip flask (a long way from the Delta Coke bottle)
with a hinged top. Will she have a drink? No. But that's all right. The
taste of the Bourbon (Cream of Kentucky) and the smell of her fuse with
the brilliant Carolina fall and the sounds of the crowd and the hit of the
linesmen in a single synesthesia.
1941: Drinking mint juleps, famed Southern Bourbon drink, though in the
Deep South not really drunk much. In fact, they are drunk so seldom that
when, say, on Derby Day somebody gives a julep party, people drink them
like cocktails, forgetting that a good julep holds at least five ounces of
Bourbon. Men fall face-down unconscious, women wander in the woods
disconsolate and amnesiac, full of thoughts of Kahil Gibran and the
Would you believe the first mind julep I had I was sitting not on a columned
porth but in the Boo Snooker bar of the New Yorker Hotel with a Bellevue
nurse in 1941? The nurse, a nice upstate girl, head floor nurse, brisk,
swift, good-looking; Bellevue nurses, the best in the world and this one
the best of Bellevue, at least the best-looking. The julep, an atrocity,
a heavy syrupy Bourbon and water in a small glass clotted with ice. But
How could two women be more different than the beautiful languid Carolina
girl and this swift handsome girl from Utica, best Dutch stock? One thing
was sure. Each has to be courted, loved, drunk with, with Bourbon. I
should have stuck with the Bourbon. We changed to gin fizzes because the
bartender said he came from New Orleans and could make good ones. He could
They were delicious. What I didn't know was that they were made with raw
egg albumen and I was allergic to it. What a lovely fine strapping smart
And thinking of being invited into her apartment where she lived alone and
of her offering to cook a little supper and of the many kisses and the
sweet love that already existed between us and was bound to grow apace,
when on the Brooklyn Bridge itself my upper lip began to swell and little
sparks of light flew past the corner of my eye like St. Elmo's fire. In
the space of thirty seconds my lip stuck out a full three-quarter inch,
like a shelf, like Mortimer Snerd. Not only was kissing out of the question
but my eyes swelled shut. I made it across the bridge, pulled over to the
curb, and fainted. Whereupon this noble nurse drove me back to Bellevue,
game me a shot, and put me to bed.
Anybody who monkeys around with gin and egg white deserves what he gets.
I should have stuck with Bourbon and have from that day to this.
POSTSCRIPT: Reader, just in case you don't want to knock it back straight
and would rather monkey around with perfectly good Bourbon, here's my
favorite recipe, "Cud'n Walker's Uncle Will's Favorite Mint Julep Receipt."
You need excellent Bourbon whiskey; rye or Scotch will not do. Put half
an inch of sugar in the bottom of the glass and merely dampen it with water.
Next, very quickly--and here is the trick in the procedure--cruch your
ice, actually powder it, preferably with a wooden mallet, so quickly that
it remains dry, and, slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside
of the glass, cram the ice in right to the brim, packing it with your hand.
Finally, fill the glass, which apparently has no room left for anything
else, with Bourbon, the older the better, and grate a bit of nutmeg on the
top. The glass will frost immediately. Then settle back in your chair
for half an hour of cumulative bliss."