|My Grandfather driving my Grandmother and her sister, mid-1920's (pre-kids)|
My mother tells me that I am a lot like the stories she heard about my grandfather (he died in 1949). Gregarious, happy, generous to a fault and a bit scattered. My dad, having lost his dad at 17, quit high school weeks before graduation to join the Korean War effort and put himself through night school after the war, for 8 years. He was more conservative and reserved. My grandfather had been through a wild hey day of parties and fun, but he also weathered financial disaster in the Great Depression and brought up two boys through WWII. They were two different men; two different Harolds.
Then along comes the third Harold. Born in the summer of 1968 ('twas a good year, they say). A cocktail dead period, mired in hallucinogenic hazes and meandering bass lines. We were all Jersey Boys, with the gradual move from Harold the First in turn of the century NYC, to Harold the Second in Bergen County and finally, Harold the Third, all the way out in the cow town of Montville, Morris County. And I connect pretty deeply with being a Jersey Boy. I connect with both my father's and my grandfather's stories. I would have like to have met my grandfather and had a drink or ten with him. I bet we, as adults, would be good friends. Like many Grandfather/Grandson relationships, it would be based more on fun than responsibility. But alas, I didn't, and won't.
Harold the Second was a responsible, good father. A hard working, middle class engineer that, like so many of his generation, worked at the same company for 40 years. He had his family and his work, and he was not a drinker. But the thing I learned from my father's moderation with drink, was the slow and focused appreciation of the one or two drinks he would have. As a man of habit, he didn't venture far. He was meat and potatoes (no sauce, nothing fancy). He was spaghetti and meatballs (nothing else in the sauce). An he was Old Fashioneds; Penndenis Club style (though he would not have known that).
My dad probably drank a lot of Old Fashioneds in the 50s and 60s, before he had kids. He and my mom used to actually socialize quite a bit with my grandmother and her generation of our family in the 50s and 60s. They whooped it up in Manhattan and haunts around Bergen County. It sounds like they had a blast together. Like I would have had a blast with them in the same way, had my folks stayed partiers.
|Me and my dad, Long Beach Island, NJ, 1969|
But when we went out, he'd order one, maybe two Old Fashioneds. And he'd enjoy them. A lot. I remember watching him look at his drink; the cherry and orange muddled, the way I dislike it. I remember him commenting how nice it was as he twirled the glass in his hand. I remember the look on his face as he debated a second round, and usually decided against it. But mostly, I remember him savoring his Old Fashioneds, like I savored ice cream after a little league game.
|Me and my daughter, Ruby Delilah Mae, May 2013 at home|
The Old Fashioned, as served at Elixir.
2oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye Whiskey
.5oz simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
stirred with a large ice cube
garnished with an orange twist