Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Forget Fraulein Maria, I'll take the Baroness

A few years ago I thought I'd discovered the perfect drink. My wicked friend Lisa made me a brandy sidecar and overnight I went from wine-loving innocence to drinking exactly two brandy sidecars every night. Here's how you make a brandy sidecar: 1/3 cup brandy, half as much Cointreau, the juice of a lemon. After you've juiced the lemon, run it around the rim of a martini glass and dip the glass in sugar. Shake the cocktail in ice until very cold. Strain into glass. You'll definitely want another, but must absolutely stop at two or you will behave foolishly, awake with a hangover, and get really fat.

After a year, I decided: enough with this nonsense. I stopped buying brandy so I couldn't make sidecars.

I quickly learned one could make an even better sidecar -- one with a more voluptuous, smoky flavor -- using the bourbon I had in the cupboard. See recipe above, but substitute Maker's Mark. 

Another year passed, during which I drank exactly two bourbon sidecars every night. I even got my mother hooked -- she called them "those drinks of yours" -- though she's the kind of person who can have a sidecar at my house and never import the bad habit into her own orderly home.  

After a year: enough with this nonsense. I stopped buying Cointreau so I couldn't make any sidecars whatsoever.

I quickly learned one could make another marvelous drink with bourbon, sweet vermouth, and a maraschino cherry. The manhattan isn't as flirty and approachable as the sidecar, but it's a lot more interesting. It turned out that the sweet-tart sidecars were just training so I could appreciate this serious, world-beating cocktail.

Manhattans lasted about six months and then, enough of this nonsense, etc. but this time it actually worked. Until I recently got into the "joke" Old Crow which, I have to say, is vile. So I think the story really does end here. I don't want to be fat and get cancer and everything else rotten or just mediocre that goes with hard liquor.

These days, I almost never drink cocktails at home, but having a manhattan out is another story. I met my friend Melanie last night and she just had a beer which made me feel grimy and hardcore when I ordered my second manhattan (I believe in sets) but I'm too old to bend to peer pressure. 

I started thinking about the evolution in my taste in cocktails, which reminded me of my The Sound of Music odyssey. When I first saw it, like all kids, I hated the Baroness and thought Fraulein Maria was the prettiest woman in the world. Her twinkling eyes, her peachy skin, her clear, angelic voice. And her hair -- hair the color of apricots, though so badly cut. Even an 8-year-old can recognize a stupid cut. But still: beautiful.

Years passed, I bore children, they acquired a Sound of Music video which they watched several hundred times, as did I. But it was a completely different movie. Maria? What a simp. Clearly, it's the Baroness who has a soul, who knows life and suffering. She gets one eyeful of Maria and the Captain dancing that Austrian folk dance and realizes there's even more suffering in store for her, even if she does successfully scare off the ninny governess. She's wise enough to know to try, and, later, when to give up. 

Who would I rather have a drink with? Obviously, Christopher Plummer, but if he weren't available, the Baroness. Of course! She is the manhattan. Maria isn't even a sidecar, she's a Shirley Temple. Though to be fair, that was the character. If you read Julie A's memoir you'll never think of her in quite the same way. In life, definitely a sidecar, perhaps even a manhattan with a few extra cherries.

Anyway, today I have a mammogram which always makes me regret all of it, every single lousy drink.

16 comments:

  1. Tipsy, this post is wonderful -- and long overdue. I have been waiting for you to rectify the imbalance between Tipsy and Baker. I guess I should offer my view, which is not open to change or criticism, that the one clearly superior cocktail is the gin martini with olives. Clean, crisp and lethal -- perfect. Now that you have opened this subject, I hope to seem more posts on it, ideally showing your evolution to the martini.

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  2. i agree with goose- you've alluded to the tipsy part before, here and there, but nice to have more about it. and i love this post. of course i would. i think i'll have a drink and reread it now.

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  3. oh, and of course i fervently agree with you about having a drink with christopher plummer.

    one question- isn't it the baroness, not the duchess?

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  4. YES!!! It's the baroness and it's the CAPTAIN. How did I get it wrong? Especially given that I dressed as the Baroness for a recent party. It came to me as I was driving home from mammogram. Mortifying. But distracting!!!!

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  5. hahah. The Baroness is pretty badass. I love ths post.

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  6. I love this post, Jennifer. You should really find a print home for this marvelous essay.

    thom

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  7. Well, you did have Baroness in the title, so don't beat yourself up too much.

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  8. have you considered taking up smoking?

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  9. I'm breathless. This is beautifully written. Excuse me while I go pour myself a Manhattan.

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  10. From a boy's point of view, the Baroness seemed really old. But just like Tipsy sees things differently as an older viewer of TSOM, so does the boy when he's grown older. Could the Baroness, in fact, be more attractive than Maria? I'm not going to go so far as to say Yes, but I wouldn't categorically say No.
    What exactly is Captain Von Trapp's first name, anyway?

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  11. I just fell out of my chair laughing when I read this! I wrote a post last week that never made it to the blog, all about wanting to be like Maria, singing my heart out on the top of that mountain. I didn't post it, because I could never be like her, not matter how hard I might try. You are so &@%# funny -- I'm going to go have a single-malt over ice for lunch!

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  12. No, google has told me its Georg, pronounced gayorg.

    thank god i finally know that. i've always wondered.

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  13. helltoupee3/8/09, 7:19 PM

    omg. you are wonderful, tipsy. another round for me too!

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  14. helltoupee3/8/09, 7:19 PM

    omg. you are wonderful, tipsy. another round for me too!

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  15. I'm heading straight for the liquor store! I have got to get some Cointreau. Also, I'm about to go get Milk and Fat. (I'm reading backwards)

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