For this month's DrinkWire roundup, we were asked to talk about our most memorable experience with bourbon. I mmediately my mind started to swim in all of the wonderful things bourbon. From straight up, on the rocks or as the feature of a mixed drink bourbon is one of the most grand liquors in the world. But my most memorable experience with the enticing liquid occurred when I was a fledgling bartender.
It was a busy Friday night when a grandmotherly-looking patron walked in; she looked about as innocent as my grandmother on her way to church. As she scooted up to the bar she gave me a knowing smile and asked me if I was new. Sure am I told her and asked her what she was having. She leaned in to be heard over the loud bar and quietly said "Old Crow Old Fashioned--and don't screw it up."
No problem I told her as I walked to the end of the bar thinking "What the hell is an Old Fashioned...?" After looking it up in my cheater guide, making it exactly as the recipe described--while saving a little extra on the side so I could give it a try--I presented it to my new favorite patron. She took a sip, gave me that knowing grandmotherly smirk and sighed as she said--"Perfect."
Now the drink was outstanding--I know this for a fact because I went back and tried the little extra I set aside--but that isn't what makes it so memorable. What makes this experience so special was the little old lady. Her name was Pat; a retired nurse that worked part time at the campus clinic, a bar regular and quick witted to boot. Pat quickly became one of my favorite people on the planet and even showed up at my rowdy graduation party to wish me the best and make sure I didn't get out of hand.
In honor of Pat, I have included a video of Adam Weprin, manager of the Bridge Cafe in New York City, making a classic Old Fashioned that I know Pat would have simply loved.
Today I never have a sip of an Old Fashioned without thinking of Pat and her grandmotherly smile, quick wit and easy laugh.