Sunday, February 11, 2007

Whisky River

There's an announcement coming soon regarding the menu, but let's go ahead and address the whisky question. As everyone knows, we try to have a sense of place about what we're drinking. Thus George Dickel on the Duck, Jack Daniels on the Elk, Bald Pussies on the Piney, etc. Now we're going to be paddling in Kentucky so it has to be bourbon, of course, and the official bourbon for the Spring '07 RRCC canoe trip will be Old Grand-Dad.

Old Grand-Dad's source is as close to the Green River as any of them, but we mainly chose it because we could use a president like Give 'Em Hell Harry right now:


In the privacy of his study at last, Truman could sip a glass of his favorite bourbon, Old Granddad, and confer with her about the issues of the day, while she edited his speeches.

“Bess, there are sons-a-bitches who want to tear this country down, and there’s hardly ever been a better time for them to do it. Why, we’re still recovering from the war, and right on top of that, I don’t have to tell you, we had almost two million men out on strike in the mines and the railroads, in the electrical and meat industries, in steel and automobiles. I’ve got that damned lying Bolshevik son-of-a-bitch blocking all our best efforts to get aid to Eastern Europe, and we’ve still got people starving in Greece and Turkey, and more trouble brewing over Palestine.

She let him vent it all, not even remonstrating with him over his salty language. Bess, herself, had been known to swear a bit, if a private occasion demanded strong talk.

“And now,” he continued, "this very house we’re living in has absolutely got to be rebuilt, and no delay about it. I can see those bastards over on the Hill have their eyes on it. They know what it would mean to the American people–to the world–to see this great symbol of democracy flattened to the ground during these dangerous days. We cannot allow that to happen, Bess. George Washington built these walls. He insisted they be constructed of stone, he had a hand in every inch of the planning, and he entrusted it to the rest of us small fellows who would come after him. We can’t let the president down, Bess.”

From "Secret Lives of the First Ladies" by Cormac O'Brien

Tommy Rowles, who has been mixing cocktails at New York's legendary Bemelmans bar in the Carlyle Hotel for 48 years now is a throwback to the old school. There’s an oft-told story of how he found Harry Truman, a lifelong bourbon drinker, at the bar one day ordering an Old Grand Dad on the rocks. As the story goes, Rowles, who fancies beer over booze, told the former president he personally could never stomach the stiff whiskey. Truman, nodding toward the mob of reporters outside, said, “If you had to walk 15 blocks with those guys following you, you’d drink this too."

From "The History and Stories of the Best Bars of New York" by Jef Klein



Did you know: the "old grand-dad" on the bottle is old Basil Hayden himself and the distillery temporarily changed its name to the "American Medicinal Spirits Company" during prohibition and maintained production for the benefit of the "lame, hale and blind."


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