Not yet the “dog days of summer”, and still a bit chilly to fully say “spring is here”, but it’s still Opening Day. In Baltimore, that might mean getting up to a bar for 6am soak-up-the-day pancakes, signifying that it’s a great day for day-drinking. So whether you’re knocking down Natty Boh’s at a furious clip, or letting some traditional Punch ease you through the day, enjoy the official first day of Spring. One of the greatest to ever play said, “Let’s play two!” — why not have another after you finish that one? Don’t wait until the seventh-inning stretch to #getcongenial….
What happens when the Punch bowl is empty?
Do you cry tears into the vessel until it’s once again overflowing? Do you wait until friends come over and bring you more Punch? Do you stomp down to the Fish House and demand that the City of Brotherly Love replenish your bowl?
Sometimes you have to grab your trusty swivel peeler, the shiniest lemon within arm’s reach, and set out to make another batch of Punch. It’s that easy….right?
Life is not as easy as making Punch. While there are plentiful stores from which you can purchase spirits, recipes to use as a guide, and mixological authorities to consult for nuance, there is no such option for going through Life. You can study all the life guides in the library, consult all the life coaches on LinkedIn, follow curricula from universities across the globe, but nothing quite prepares you for the rigors of Life.
At the end of the day, no one said this would be easy. Sometimes you’ve got to put your head down and continue pushing forward. When life throws you lemons, compound the second batch of Philadelphia Fish House Punch! Now THAT’S how to live congenially.
A bit of Punch in the park…green grass, sunlight, not a care in the world.
Autumn…colder temps, less sunlight — can you still enjoy the combination of cocktails and nature? Light a fire in the backyard and pass around a few brews…maybe even light up a cauldron of Tom and Jerry…ehhhh, maybe we’ll just keep the cocktailing indoors until Mr. Springtime comes back around. Hopefully the apples, pumpkin, squash, nutmeg, & heavy cream will hold you over until then, allowing you time to enjoy the change of fall flavors and colors. If it’s good for leaves, it’s good for your shaker! Cheers!
“For today’s “Daily Double”, the following pictures represent and showcase elements of _______…”
*Jeopardy theme plays*
“Let’s see…we’ve got a mixologist, holding a cup of Punch, at a picnic in a park. We’ve also got four people at a banquet-style event…it looks like they’ve been serving cocktails that evening. We’ve also got a woman with a very stylish apron on, probably from some big cocktail expo-extravaganza…And finally, a guy preparing some welcome cocktail tastes to be distributed by others. Alex, I’d have to say that these photos exhibit different aspects of VOLUNTEERING!”
*confetti falls, dancing bears and circus elephants parade around, balloons cascade*
There are many events and initiatives that professions use to contribute to the greater good, and the photo stream above show a few. The Pig & Punch picnic, facilitated by is held at various locations around the country and proceeds from the events are given to charitable causes such as the art program for a charter high school in New Orleans. A spit-roasted pig, countless gallons of Punch, and proceeds for future artsy-types? A wonderful combination!
Other organizations cater to the hungry and underserved populations. Share Our Strength strives to combat youth hunger, and towards that cause leverages the Taste of the Nation event through their No Kid Hungry campaign. Using noted chefs and bartenders in several cities helps build awareness and financial assistance for healthy eating and cooking programs, in addition to connecting kids to school breakfast and summer meals programs. Focusing on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Meals on Wheels program uses its Celebrity Chefs Ball to combat hunger and lack of accessible meals amongst seniors. Both of these events utilize the creative power of mixology, as participating bartenders construct cocktail recipes that are made for the event attendees. Using your tools of the trade for good? Kudos!
Finally, Tales of the Cocktail has become “too big to fail”. Recently celebrating their 10th annual bombast of cocktailing and mixological pursuits, it has come to represent all that is wonderful and engaging about bartending. The spread of its hospitality is felt upon the Hotel Monteleone, the French Quarter, drinking places and restaurants, and so many elements of New Orleans as a whole. That results in changing the culture and welfare of a city on a larger scale than just one banquet or fete. Further, it takes the efforts of so many people from across the world that volunteer their time, efforts, and experience — distributing cocktails, assisting with registration efforts, crowd control, event setup/management/breakdown and countless other responsibilities over the nearly weeklong event.
It definitely takes a village. And at times, the villagers have to be able to build a great cocktail to help out!
We’ve all seen how my namesake feels about Punch.
Moving a bit closer to home, and away from classical times, we see what Baltimore’s barkeeps are stirring up with the P-funk. A truly classic mixture for a city with a truly American heritage, Punch is shaping to be the drink of the summer. With the recent “Sailabration” of the War of 1812, a colonial essence is still wafting over the city, and the combination of oleo-saccharum and the devil’s elixir carry it far and wide. Maybe you’ll find it in a city or picnic near you soon?
“If you are afraid of head-aches — for, as Xenophon says of another kind of Eastern tipple, ‘rack punch is kefalalgez, i.e., “headache-making” — put twice as much water as spirits. I, however, never use it that way for my own private drinking.” — Morgan ODoherty (William Maginn), “Maxims” of ODoherty”, an excerpt used in Punch by David Wondrich
“Proceeding on their way, they arrived at some villages, from which the guides signified that they might procure provisions. In these villages there was plenty of corn, and wine made from dates, and an acidulous drink obtained from them by boiling. As to the dates themselves, such as those we see in Greece were here put aside for the use of the servants; but those which were laid by for their masters, were choice fruit, remarkable for beauty and size; their color was not unlike that of amber; and some of these they dried and preserved as sweetmeats. These were a pleasant accompaniment to drink, but apt to cause headache. Here too the soldiers for the first time tasted the cabbage from the top of the palm-tree, and most of them were agreeably struck both with its external appearance and the peculiarity of its sweetness. But this also was exceedingly apt to give headache. The palm-tree, out of which the cabbage had been taken, soon withered throughout.” — Xenophon, The Anabasis, or Expedition of Cyrus
You met up with your friends. You handed them a cocktail as they entered the door of your home. You watched with your girlfriend, each cheering for different teams.
You sidled up to the bar, glad the group of you got there early enough to get three seats next to each other. You got the rest of the food ready, after batching the last of your cocktails, while the teams were introduced. You placed your girl’s cocktail on her TV tray, along with the sidecar for refilling, as you slouched into the couch as the National Anthem came to a close.
You agreed to get the first round of drinks if the Giants went three and out. You listened to the play-by-play in the dining room as you added a few more orange peels to the punch. You sipped your cocktail while declining your girlfriend’s offer for you two to take salsa lessons, after witnessing Victor Cruz’s touchdown dance.
You noticed that the bar had started to get quite full, as Tom Brady marched the offense down the field for the longest drive in Super Bowl history. You finally joined the rest of the party in time to see the Patriots take a 10-9 lead. You asked your girlfriend if she wanted you to shake another cocktail; she replied, “Shut up. Madonna’s on.”
You wondered, as did the stranger next to you, if the Patriots would continue their momentum en route to a blowout after taking a 17-9 lead. You bellowed, “GGGGGGGGG-MENNNNNN”, while holding your tiki cocktail aloft, as you celebrated a toast with the Giants contingent in your living room. You asked your girlfriend to bring you a bit more guacamole & chips to soak up the rest of your pisco cocktail.
You were one of the many that almost blew the roof off the bar when Welker made that drop. You let out a hearty, “HEEEEEEEEEERE WE GOOOOOOOO!,” pointing your Bud Light in the direction of the Patriots’ contingent, as Eli got the ball back for what might be the final drive. You explained to your girlfriend why the Tyree catch was so much better than the Manningham grab, as you nervously stirred the ice around the last swallow in your glass.
You dejectedly sat your head on the bar as the bartender poured shots to all the Giants fans. You sipped a glass of punch while debating with a few party stragglers if Coughlin is better than Parcells. You headed upstairs to watch NFL Network while your girlfriend watched The Voice.
You can’t wait until next season. Neither can you. Make that three.
As I mentioned in Thursday’s second post, many things can make you reflect on past experiences. Drinking is obviously one….milestones are another.
It’s hard to remain impersonal with a blog; every post contains your personal perspective or worldview on some topic or issue. But as today’s post brings me to my 100th post, I thought it’d be as good as any other time to do a little reflecting: on my blog, the content, and my audience, and through all those three, myself.
In David Wondrich’s Punch, he uses the word “moreish”. As I’m a huge proponent of creating words, this seemed to be a glorious example, but I was mistaken. Mentioning that within drinks writing, it is a term “of art entirely its own…indispensable…”, it immediately resonated with me. It basically means that it should make you want to drink more and more of it. At the “Drinking on Deadline” seminar at Tales of the Cocktail 2011, he gave advice saying that the way to get people involved and engaged in your writing craft is to “show them why they should care.” It’s not about showing that I know this and you don’t, or I’ve done or accomplished this and you haven’t — all of us have varied experiences and notches on our belts that would stretch for miles and kilometers. But if your craft doesn’t embody the passion to get someone interested to listen to what you have to say…what’s the point?
I hope that in 100 posts, I’ve made enough connections to show you what is available and possible in the realm of drinking culture, gotten you interested enough to change from a “new visitor” to a “return visitor”, and engaged you enough to tell someone else about the blog. I hope that my existing and future content adds a little bit of special to your drinking experiences and your life in general. We can all use a little nugget of information, some small anecdote that pops up out of nowhere in the middle of a conversation. I’d be obliged if that nugget came from The Congenial Hour.
So click “play” and let’s toast to ourselves, our future growth, and the joy of imbibing. *clink, clink*
**Cheers once again to Joshua Lindo of Eye Journey (www.eyejourney.co.uk) for the video.**