I promise that no alcoholics or teetotalers were harmed in any way in the writing of this column.
However, anecdotes herein represent unforgettable moments in the lives of these people, relatives and friends, experiences so indelible on their brains, egos and livers that straying to the dark side is rare.
The subject: “Alcoholic drinks I’ ll never have again.”
The people whose tales we tell in a follow-up column will remain anonymous. But we will go first.
The drink I’ll never have again is the Manhattan cocktail. In it are sweet vermouth, bourbon or rye, a maraschino cherry, a twist of orange peel and a dash of bitters, shaken and served over ice.
This shameful story starts out long but gets shorter with the telling. And the drinking.
I was with my college roommate and long-time friend, the late Skip Caray, at a jazz bar in St.Louis on a snowy night in 1961. Or was it ’62? Blur.
I started with Manhattans. After that I wasn’t sure what Skip was drinking and didn’t care much about the breed of my poison. When we arrived, a smooth jazz group called the Percy James Trio was hard at work. The more we drank, the better they played. By the shank of the evening, they were world-class outstanding.
That’s when Skip and I inexplicably offered Percy and his pals a CBS recording contract. Percy demurred, at first, so we snared more drinks for the trio. Percy was skeptical that these two blithering recent college grads could produce a record, much less a CBS record contract. Of course he was.
Skip assured them that be- cause he was a sports announcer for a local radio station (which he was) and I was a reporter for a St. Louis daily newspaper (which I was) the CBS career changer for this talented trio was a done deal.
Percy was right to pause, to reflect, to stop drinking for the evening, not wanting to act as nutty and sophomoric as his drinks providers had become.
Having had our genius business proposal spurned by Mr. James, we staggered out into the snow and eventually got home safely. I was not driving.
The hangover that greeted my awakening the next morning made my feel like I had been attacked by a drone. And they hadn’t even been invented yet.
I think the bitters in the Manhattan did the damage.The cherries and the orange peel were benign. And it could not have been the bourbon, right?
Whatever the culprit, the multitude of Manhattans the previous evening were my last, ever.
When my wife Chris turned 21, her parents decided to celebrate by taking her and her 18-year-old twin siblings barhopping.
The twins had fake IDs, but Chris mistakenly left her legitimate ID at home. So her father had to buy her drinks at the bar.
Fred said he thought Chris should try a Rusty Nail, so she did. And did. And did.
The “nail” is simple - scotch and Drambuie, a scotch-based liqueur. It’s sweet and goes down easyily. Too easy for Chris’s well-being on her big birthday night. The next day she resolved to close the door on Rusty Nails and nail it shut.
Later she learned the Rusty Nail used to called a “Knucklehead.”
Next time: More people’s tales of drinks they’ ll never touch again. I invite you to submit yours. I promise anonymity.