Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Gallon of Scofflaw

When faced with a thirsty crowd, I've often turned to Jeffrey Morganthaler's amazing A Gallon of Margaritas by the Gallon recipe online. It's also inspired me to bust out some other gallon recipes, but I find that, every time, I have to sit with a pencil and scribble and — you know — do math.

This post is an attempt to alleviate that, at least for one of my favorite drinks: The Scofflaw.

For a single cocktail, my recipe is this:

  • 1 oz. of bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 0.5 oz. of sweet vermouth
  • 0.5 oz. of dry vermouth
  • 0.5 oz. of lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. of homemade grenadine (again, I love Morganthaler's recipe and I'm lazy so I use POM)
  • dash of orange bitters
So what happens when you do the math? It's just basic math, but I'm tired of losing the scrap of paper that I do it on, so here it is. For a gallon of scofflaws, we have to get a basic volume for one drink, right?

128 oz = a gallon
one cocktail = 3 oz. or 4 oz.

So, wait — how much is a single cocktail? There's two ways to approach this. If you simply add up the ounces, you get 3, but really if you mix and shake a cocktail, you get an additional very important component of melted ice water. Whether or not you account for this depends on your dispensing method. If you're going to serve fancy, then include the water, and chill the fuck out of the mixed gallon, and then dole out in 4 oz. servings, in chilled cocktail glasses. Voila!

But what if you're slaking the thirst of a party crowd with plastic cups out of a gallon plastic jug? Like on a party bus? Or at a pool party? Here's my philosophy: Still add the water component but do NOT chill it, because your friendly booze hounds will be drinking it over ice in giant portions (owing simply to the size of party cups). So try to help people not get too hammered but still have them enjoy a classic cocktail by adding the discrete amount of added water, is what I do. They'll love it and may have you to thank for less of a headache the next morning.

So — We're rolling with: one cocktail = 4 oz.

So here's the math:

128 oz. / 4 = 32 drinks per gallon

Thus, the quantities for a gallon of scofflaws:
  • 32 oz. of bourbon or rye
  • 16 oz. each of sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and homemade grenadine. (gotta be homemade!)
  • 32 dashes of orange bitters (use your own judgement!)
  • Top off with 32 oz. of clean filtered water (or nearly, if you're mixing in a gallon jug).
I'd do it in this order, or at least, I'd add the water last, since it may come in slightly under measurement. Mine often does, I don't now if that's a heavy hand on my part or what, but better to short the gallon of cocktails on water than on one of the flavor ingredients, right?

Then, don't refrigerate it, and let your party people glug-glug it into their Solo cups over ice and get a little less hammered than they would if you mixed the batch in the 3:1 ratio. 

And celebrate the deliciousness!

On Estrangement.

Letter to my brother, attempting to process a dream about our estranged dad, who neither of us (or any of his blood relatives) have seen or talked to for maybe 20 years.

Hi Chris:

I want you to know that I'm sorry for the delay in your request for action items and timelines on the Julie Project. It is, once again, right at the top of my priority list, behind the care of a 2 year old and the insane entanglements of that, even when others are caring for her.

I've had a rough couple of days. This morning I had very emotional dream. I was at some kind of roadside restaurant and I needed to travel far but wasn't sure how I was going to do it. Some kind of road trip. 

Dad walked in. 

He was happy and he said to me, with a smile: "I'm here with my dad!" I was going to get a lift from him, and I was walking behind him out to the parking lot, wondering aloud to him, saying "I guess I need to get to Indianapolis, to the bus station," thinking (hoping) he could drop me there. 

Then I was overcome with emotion. I hugged him from the side and sobbed "It's good to see you, Dad. I've missed you so much."

I don't have them often, but these kinds of dreams take a heavy toll on me, because while I'm not really much more than a "secular humanist," occasionally I have dreams that seem powerfully symbolic to me of Death. This was one of them. He said: "I'm here with my Dad." And that really just rocked me. 

And also — following him. I woke up and realized the security of following a parent, the reassuring automatic faith that they know where they're going — and that therefore, you know where YOU'RE going. You don't have to know; you know that THEY know. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's a feeling for me of deep unshakeable security. Even if it's imagined, which it is. 

You can just follow. 

And in the dream, I felt that, walking behind my dad, and I realized that I do miss him — or at least: I feel the loss of him, the absence of him — in a way that … I'll never really probably ever understand. I miss A dad — my dad — even though Bill has been a great one for me, and for us.

And the prospect, for me, of him dying — or receiving some kind of message (real or imagined) that he has died triggers something deep in me. I guess I still think he's alive, until I have dreams like this. I had one about maybe 10 years ago, but this one was more rattling.