By Dave Pezza
It’s Wednesday evening and holy shit you could really use a stiff cocktail and some good tunes to lull away the fact that two more days of legal torture stand between you and sweet, righteous freedom.
Per usual, Writer’s Bone has got your back. Welcome to “Home Stretch.” Here you’ll get a cocktail and an album pairing to help you through the week’s last leg. Why cocktails? Why albums? Both are endangered species slowing making comebacks. And because it’s my weekly column, and imma do what I want.
For the commencement of this new series I’d like to introduce two personal favorites that share an undercurrent of devil-may-care attitude masked in a banal packaging that makes them strong contenders for these mid-week, almost-summer nights: Corpse Reviver #2 and “Too Far to Care” by Old 97’s.
An old school cocktail, the Corpse Reviver #2 is precisely what its name suggests. It is the second variation in a family of drinks that were traditionally used as hair-of-the-dog cocktails. In the beginning of the 20th century, the social norm included drinking, constantly (so much so that they outlawed it…unsuccessfully, of course). So you can imagine the hangover as the scourge of the early 1900s. Thankfully, hangover cures were not limited to acid-heavy Mimosas and eye-watering Bloody Marys. Gilded Age drinkers had an entire repertoire of drinks to combat that pesky problem associated with weekday drinking. That being said, I’d recommend this cocktail as a competent evening drink that can easily substitute for a martini, gin and tonic, or vodka soda. Ingredients and paraphernalia upfront:
- 1.5 oz. dry gin
- 1.5 oz. Kina Lillet (which is not vermouth)
- 1.5 oz. Cointreau (triple sec will do in a pinch)
- Dash of Absinthe (yeah, that’s right)
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- Cocktail glass
- Cocktail shaker
- Bar jigger (Just buy one already! It really brings the best out of a cocktail if it is properly proportioned)
This week’s album, “Too Far to Care,” is Old 97’s most successful and most encompassing of their diverse sound. The band is probably best known for their single “Question,” which plays during the proposal scene on the sitcom “Scrubs.” Old 97’s have been plugging away since the early 1990s, killing Texan rock and alt-country for decades. An album that is easily to sing along to, “Too Far to Care” grabs you with guitar riffs of first love, whaling of love lost, and all the alcohol infused musical meanderings in between. Both of this week’s choices will lull you into a false sense of ease before hitting you hard when you need it most.
1.5 oz. of Gin/”Timebomb”
The album kicks off with “Timebomb” a head rocking, body swaying anthem to those first dates that rock you to your core, kind of like the first ingredient in this week’s cocktail: gin! To all you gin haters out there, this might be the least ginny (Weasley) gin drink out there. Gin is the base alcohol here, the alcohol that sets the flavor profile for the rest of the cocktail. Gin will make this drink easy on the pallet, effervescent, and accented with citrus and other fruity undertones. It’s perfect for a Wednesday night: Karen from HR has been on your ass about 401k contributions, and you just want to relax with a soothing, but strong drink. I like dry London gin like Beefeater’s, but this is your Wednesday night. Fill a quarter of the cocktail shaker with ice, and, while you’re there, place your cocktail glass in the freezer (you’ll need it chilled for later). Add an ounce and a half of gin to your shaker.
1.5 oz. of Cointreau/”Barrier Reef”
The album’s second track, “Barrier Reef” is a crooning ode to drunken rebound sex. He’s drunk, she’s had better-looking lays, but they’re both glad they’re not still at that bar drinking to forget someone else. Cointreau works better wherever triple sec works, even though it technically isn’t triple sec. Cointreau is the alcohol that helps round the sharp flavors of the alcohol it accompanies: tequila in traditional margaritas, vodka in a cosmo, or bourbon in a Seelbach. Here it masks some of the saffron/herbal taste typical of gin with an orange tang. Go ahead and add an ounce and a half of Cointreau to your shaker.
1.5 oz. of Kina Lillet/”Big Brown Eyes”
“Big Brown Eyes” is a subtle song that quietly steals the show in this album. It’s a rumpus ballad about a drunk stumbling for a phone to make ill-advised calls to that girl with big brown eyes. Kina Lillet is the phone in this cocktail, always found enabling stronger liqueurs. Kina Lillet is an aromatized white wine used in a shitload of old school cocktails. It’s most famous for its use in the famous Vesper Martini from Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Lillet fell off the face of the earth for a while when the manufacturers retired the “original” recipe. But it is back and should be stocked at any decent liquor store. Add an ounce and a half of Lillet to the shaker. Quick tip, once open, like any wine, Lillet will go bad. Lillet Blanc (which is what you are using here) is a white wine and will hold up decently if properly re-corked and stored in the fridge.
1 oz. of Lemon Juice
Quickly add an ounce lemon juice to the shaker. I don’t have a clever song pairing for lemon juice, it’s just lemon juice…
Dash of Absinthe/”Niteclub”
Shake that bad boy up until your hand starts to freeze. Grab the cocktail glass from the freezer, pour a dash or two of absinthe into the glass, and slowly turn the glass so as to coat the entire inside with absinthe. “Niteclub,” gathers all the album’s emotions and releases it in a display of frustration and regret, shedding inhibition and giving in to the deep-seeded emotional response called “fuck it.” The alcoholic equivalent of this emotion is absinthe. Yes, it’s legal in the United States, and, yes, it’s expensive. Pernod absinthe is the bee’s knees, but it’ll run you $80 for 750ml. I’d opt for a brand like Absinthe Ordinaire: it is more affordable at half the price, especially for a drink that requires only a dash of this magic green liquor. Having an open bottle on your bar top will be worth it come Friday night. A shot of that stuff will get your weekend started right quick.
Pour and enjoy! The albums back half will play out with some mild bluegrass and country toned tracks that are sure to set your nerves at ease. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or a lemon peel if you will.