I went into the first floor cocktail bar of the Intercontinental on Collins Street in Melbourne at 5:00 one afternoon. A day of shopping – mostly successful – and I was ready to sit down and peruse the iPad. And I needed perusal oil to do it with.
I went to the bar and asked for a Highball.
The look of confusion on the face of the young man there should have warned me.
” You want a highball glass? ”
Yes, with a Highball in it. It transpired eventully that while he was familiar with the glassware, he had no idea what the drink for which it is named was made of…
So I told him – ice, rye whiskey, and ginger ale. In a highball glass…
He rose to the challenge, though his inexperience caused him to put two shots of rye in the glass before the ginger ale. I did not think it right to complain.
The next day the highball was served by a more experienced man – and it contained only one shot of rye. Ah, well, you can only win some of them.
Highball: rye, ice, and ginger ale. Named after the American railroad signal that all is clear and you can go ahead at full speed. The British railways do it with a whistle and a flag and the German railways do it with a red disc on a paddle. The American railroads do it with a lantern.
I do it with rye.
A recent phone call from a friend has suggested a project for the new year.
Our local SES has used water bombers for a number of years to help cope with bush fires. I am going to propose that they acquire a Canadair CL 415 amphibious fixed-wing airplane and lend it out to me for party purposes.
The aircraft has a tank that will hold 6100 litres of water or fire retardant. If we clean the tank well, we can use it as a giant cocktail mixer.
4000 litres of rye whiskey, 2000 litres of Cinzano Rosso, a bath tub full of orange bitters and a truckload of lemon peel should do it. Take off from the local light plane airport, go to max height until the tank cools down, and then head back to Perth at 500ft.
If we gather the guests on one of the local football ovals, glasses in hand ( or, for that matter, water buckets…) the pilot will be instructed to dump the load as soon as he clears the perimeter of the ground. Those who wish to stand there with their heads held back and their mouths open may do so. If the crowd is dense enough there should be little spillage.
I am still trying to locate a serviceable B-24 to deliver the canapés and snacks. If they can get a Norden bombsight this can be done from 4000 ft. In the interest of public safety we are going to avoid anything with bamboo skewers.
We are often presented with some grandiose scheme or excessive product and told that it is glorious because it has everything plus a cherry on top. Pooh. This is nothing but commercial hype – and puerile hype at that.
It is postulated upon the idea of the ice cream sundae – layers of bad dairy decisions topped with watery chocolate and a preserved Maraschino cherry. The sort of thing that looks better in 1940’s illustrations than ever it does in real life. Well, you can put it out of your mind.
If you want the best experience, lower the cherry. You can still have the artificial fruit but remove the ice cream and substitute 2 ounces of rye whiskey, one ounce of red vermouth, and a dash of bitters. It is called the Manhattan cocktail and it will do more for you than the ice cream ever would. You can still get fat on it – it has as many calories as the soda fountain concoction – but you will have a much better chance to get drunk, wise, and laid. Believe me, all these things are better than ice cream.
Note: One good Manhattan is not enough and two are too many. The same is true for a good Mint Julep. Years of experimental work are recommended to discover how to achieve a perfect balance. You may not end up a scientist or a natural philosopher, but you will have had decades of enjoyment. They’ll bury you with a smile on your face.
The man or woman who invents a practical use for the cherry stem after you have finished the cocktail will win the Nobel prize for happiness.