Today’s drink of the day is a new drink that I created, but that is old at heart – the Rye Ginger Sling. The one above was excellently made and photographed by bartender and Elemental Mixology alumnus, Wade Hammond. You can read his post about it here.
Some of British persuasion have since the 19th century bastardized that most famously American genre of drinks, slings (which includes true cocktails, a.k.a. bittered slings), into that genre of drinks most beloved by Englishmen, punches, by adding lemon juice. I cannot help that. But, I don’t have to emulate it.
The earliest of slings, in the 18th century colonies that would become the U.S.A., were nothing more than liquor, sweetened, diluted and aromatized by spice — almost universally nutmeg. The drink of the day today is just my reworking of the traditional American sling with ginger root instead of nutmeg.
Of course, any base spirit could be made in to a ginger sling. I have enjoyed many a Gin Ginger Sling. A Jack Ginger Sling with straight applejack (Laird’s bonded) is also nice. But rye whiskey plays well here, too. So, here they are, the Rye Ginger Slings (if you find them too sweet, try using just a teaspoon [5 ml.] of sugar instead):
Someone asked me my thoughts on repeal day today.
I know, it is very faddish to celebrate repeal day. I understand the desire to celebrate the end of a law that sought to impose one group’s morality upon another. But, here is why I don’t celebrate it:
The old American mixological tradition was mostly lost as a result of the Volstead Act. You probably call the period of the Volstead Act, “prohibition.” It shut down the legitimate industry that trained bar-tenders in the old way that was focused on service and understanding of specific types of drinks. Most pre-Volstead Act bar-tenders never went on to work in the prohibition-era speakeasies. In speakeasies, new ‘bar-tenders’ poured smuggled-and-imitation liquors into bad, over-juiced drinks that were all mistakenly called cocktails. In some ways, the shame of the speakeasy is still very much with us.
When the Volstead Act was repealed in December of 1933, the old-timers were not sought out to restore the old traditions, standards or depth of mixological understanding. Instead, scores of thousands of new-hire bar-tenders with no experience or awareness of tradition built upon second-rate speakeasy, or Savoy Cocktail Book type, mixology to create our modern tradition. It is nothing compared to the old tradition, but the sheer number of know-nothing, new-hire bar-tenders in 1933 swamped all remaining vestiges of, and hopes for, the older ways.
It’s as if the Volstead Act had put the old tradition into a coma and repeal day came along some time later and finished it off. No other outcome was really possible, but I still don’t want to celebrate it.
Today’s drink of the day is the Jack Perry. It’s a simple drink, so I won’t describe it much — except to point out that perry is the traditional word for the sparkling pear wine that is sometimes called “pear cider” (even though the name ‘cider’ traditionally only means sparkling apple wine). I am sure none of my readers need it pointed out that in traditional American drink terms, ‘jack’ means applejack — a general term for American apple brandy, straight or blended. So, here is the drink image. Click on it if you want to expand it for easier reading. Happy drinking!