Monday, March 2, 2009

Before the blizzard

Just about the time I dropped out of high school, I had a friend who drove a convertible Buick Skylark, like this one.

In late winter, yearning for the spring, he and I would put the top down and cruise around with the heat cranked, probably listening to Black Sabbath.

In the same spirit, I pulled the tarp off of the big table out back this weekend and set into some summer cocktailing. We had a moment of warmth before the sun slipped behind the mountain, and if you kept your coat on and didn’t think about it too much, you could see summer in the limes and grapefruits on the cutting board.

The Papa Doble was the drink of choice.

Squeeze a half a lime and a thin wedge of grapefruit into a shaker filled with ice and add two shots of white rum and a splash of Marischino liqueur. (Which has nothing to do with marischino cherries . . . get some Luxardo, it’s delicious.) Shake it like hell. I don’t have anything to shave ice with, so I put 5 or six ice cubes in a towel and whacked it against my stoop until they were crushed.

It is common wisdom that Papa developed the daiquiri that bears his name at the Floridita in Havana with Constante Ribailaguam, the bartender and owner, but Phil Greene found a reference to frozen daiquiris in a letter dated 1939. Perhaps with Constante he was only refining the drink. We should be thankful he did, although I wouldn’t want to try to drink sixteen of them.

The drink is crisp, slightly bitter, and wonderfully refreshing. I'm actually not convinced by all the purple waxing Hem threw its way -- I don't know that it'd make you a better boxer, and I see in my glass very little resemblance to the wake of a ship at thirty knots -- but I trust Papa, and as soon as I can dig the table out from the snowdrift it is now buried under, I'll take another stab at finding the poetry. In the meantime, one more illusory glimpse of summer:


  1. Nice Sabatier. --Jay

  2. Question is — did you crank the Sabbath while drinking the Papas?