Ron Green Jr. broached the subject at the end of our weekly staff Zoom, a question I hadn’t really considered until he presented it at 9 a.m. – what cocktail would I pour later to celebrate my birthday? It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and I’m fiftysomething. Might as well start thinking about it.
We’ve shared (usually in moderation) many special-occasion beverages through the years, most of those occasions being after a round of golf at some exotic location. Transfusions at Bandon Dunes. Jameson at the Slieve Donard hotel. Tastings at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh. Tanqueray-and-tonics at the PGA Tour’s annual gala. Silver Oak if someone else was buying.
Mostly we share the greatest beverage of all – that first pint poured cold in the nearest clubhouse or pub immediately after a round. Whether it’s a Bellhaven Best at Crail, a crisp Carlsberg at Western Gailes as the sun sets over Ailsa Craig, a creamy Guinness at Portrush or a Tennent’s in the cozy corner bar the Dunvegan, nothing in the world tastes better than that first sip on a palate parched by chasing pars (and bogeys) all day.
A birthday beverage during a coronavirus quarantine, however, requires a little extra to elevate the confines of the occasion. When the virus intervened in our lives last spring, my wife and I implemented an evening happy hour on our deck to help lift our spirits with spirits and conversation after another day working from home. It’s the little things that sustain us all.
What would you want on your first COVID-19 birthday? For Ron, the answer was easy: “A bottle of Kelly’s Cuvee Red from Robert Foley Vineyards … any year will do.” Marketing exec Liz Valicenti concurs with a nice cabernet, preferably Caymus. When he drank, Steve Eubanks’ was even easier: “One cube of ice and the best bourbon I could afford.” Editor Sam Dolson likes a whisky neat, currently a limited edition 15-year-old Laphroaig Cairdeas brought back from Scotland by our travel guru John Steinbreder.
Steinbreder’s birthday beverage is a West Texas margarita, which he created himself – 3 ounces Casamigos Reposado tequila, 1 ounce each Ancho Reyes and Gran Torres liqueurs and 2 ounces of fresh lime juice. It’s immortalized (if not served) in special boots made and sold by his cowgirl cousins, Lizzie and Sarah, with his recipe sewn into the liner.
Our Reese Wallace prefers what he calls an “Olive Garden” because “it’s a little southern, a little Italian, and all bad for you.” It requires Amaro, bourbon, bitters and Amarena cherries, all stirred “until your hand hurts from the frost on the mixing glass.”
Our resident youngster, Sean Fairholm, has a go-to called the “Tom Selleck.” It’s Misunderstood Ginger Spiced whiskey, St-Germain Elderflower liqueur, muddled fresh cucumber, agave syrup, lemon juice and a mint garnish. “Don't knock it till you've tried it,” Sean insists.
John Hopkins “favourite” cocktail is a Negroni, an elegant gin-and-Campari mix Stanley Tucci convinced me to try myself this spring in a charming lockdown video shot by his wife, Felicity Blunt. Lewine Mair’s alcohol-free “tipple” is a simple Rose’s lime juice-and-soda, for which she sometimes had to go to great lengths (and costs) to import.
My choice? A Greenpoint – named after another neighborhood in New York, it’s a variation of a Brooklyn, which is a variation of a Manhattan. I tend to use 2 ounces of bourbon as the basis instead of rye, but it’s stirred briskly in ice with half-ounces of Chartreuse Yellow and sweet Vermouth, dashes of Angostura and orange bitters and then strained into a glass with a twist of orange peel.