« Yikes | Main | The Third Circuit of UnSolomonic Wisdom, or I'm With Althouse on This One »

Build Your Own Old-Fashioned

In a few hours, I'll start writing a bit about my trip to and from Michigan this weekend. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I gained a lot of important insights, such as: It is much easier to read and absorb 350 pages of Property while sitting in front of a roaring fire in an old stone fireplace, sipping a well-mixed Manhattan [1], than trying to do the same in Columbia's law library. From this we can conclude that the library would be markedly improved by the addition of large fireplaces, comfy chairs, and a staffed bar. At present it has none of these things.

I also encountered stunning displays of incompetence, mostly from American Airlines, who were kind enough to cancel, delay, or otherwise screw up my flights, mostly due to inadequate staffing. My planes literally spent more time on runways due to mechanical failure than in the air.

But hard as American Airlines tried to win the So Pathetically Incompetent We Can't Believe They've Not Immolated Themselves By Accident Already Award, the winner actually goes to a bartender at the sports bar in Grand Rapids airport. This sterling example of evolution delayed managed to cock up one of the simplest drinks ever devised by man: an Old Fashioned.

Really, there's only whiskey, bitters, sugar, a cocktail cherry... this is not chemistry at its finest. But I should have just ordered a beer when he said, "I don't think we know how to make that." I shouldn't have replied, "Trust me, I'm sure your bartender knows how to make an Old Fashioned."

What did the young man bring me? A strong glass of whiskey mixed with some kind of sweetish soda water (quite possibly Sprite), a lone cocktail cherry languishing at the bottom. No sign of bitters anywhere evident. And three packets of sugar, presumably so I could sweeten to taste.

Ah well. At least my family had something to laugh at before I got on the plane. For those cocktail enthusiasts who are flying the friendlier skies at the holidays, though, may I recommend the bar between gates B18 and B19 at O'Hare Airport? I met up with my brother there on his way back to Phoenix, and the bartender does a surprisingly fine martini.

[1]: Will Baude mentions that the idea of dry vermouth in a Manhattan had never occurred to him. I actually prefer my Manhattans with dry vermouth, having been converted to the cause by the bartender at the American Bar at the Savoy. If you ever have the chance, I recommend it.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


From this we can conclude that the library would be markedly improved by the addition of large fireplaces, comfy chairs, and a staffed bar. Best suggestion you've ever made, provided that "the library" can be taken to refer to any library, anywhere in the world. Is this a potential vote-winner? "I promise to raise tax by 1% and use it to make libraries pleasant places to be."
As an ex-bartender, I can vouch for the fact that most young practitioners of the art (at least in L.A.) don't know how to make an Old Fashioned. I learned because I worked at a restaurant and bar which attracted an older set or, in the least, children of the older set who learned about cocktails from their parents. I made a few Old Fashioneds, but not too many. However, from conversations I had with fellow bartenders who worked at younger bars and places on Sunset Strip, their cocktail vocabulary was limited to shots and barbarities such as Adios Motherf***ers. It all depended on geography. Just one guess here, but an airport in Grand Rapids probably doesn't get too many requests for anything beyond beer. Have you ever had a Sidecar? I'm going to guess youhave since you know what an Old Fashioned is in the first place but, if you haven't, it's a nice twist on the classic.
I second Adam on this one: good luck finding a bartender anywhere who knows how to make an Old Fashioned. Or a Sidecar. Or Pink Gin. Or anything that requires any sort of delicate balance between good rum and a slice of lime. Or a bar that can even make a proper Julep or Mojito - mint syrup is emphatically not the same as muddled mint!
There's a couple of places here you can get a tolerable mint julep. But if I'm ever in Ann Arbor again, I'm knocking on Adam's door and demanding a Sidecar...
My wife (from Wisconsin) introduced me to the Brandy old-fashioned. That's really good. I've never had a whiskey one.
Sweet triple post. That calls for a drink! Do you have a user registration system now?
Nope. It's just that you had the bad luck to post whilst I was doing some minor site repairs. I'll clean it up quickly. Sorry about that.
If you're ever in London, they do a fine Old Fashioned at Red in Soho (www.redsoho.com). As I type I'm sipping at my first ever effort at mixing one... Conclusions: it's easy to get an approximation but a good example of the real thing will take practice. Damn. Going to have to drink a few more of these things.

Post a comment

NOTICE TO SPAMMERS, COMMENT ROBOTS, TRACKBACK SPAMMERS AND OTHER NON-HUMAN VISITORS: No comment or trackback left via a robot is ever welcome at Three Years of Hell. Your interference imposes significant costs upon me and my legitimate users. The owner, user or affiliate who advertises using non-human visitors and leaves a comment or trackback on this site therefore agrees to the following: (a) they will pay fifty cents (US$0.50) to Anthony Rickey (hereinafter, the "Host") for every spam trackback or comment processed through any blogs hosted on threeyearsofhell.com, morgrave.com or housevirgo.com, irrespective of whether that comment or trackback is actually posted on the publicly-accessible site, such fees to cover Host's costs of hosting and bandwidth, time in tending to your comment or trackback and costs of enforcement; (b) if such comment or trackback is published on the publicly-accessible site, an additional fee of one dollar (US$1.00) per day per URL included in the comment or trackback for every day the comment or trackback remains publicly available, such fee to represent the value of publicity and search-engine placement advantages.

Giving The Devil His Due

Choose Stylesheet

What I'm Reading

D.C. Noir

My city. But darker.
A Clockwork Orange

About time I read this...


Projects I've Been Involved With

A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care (A new round-the-world travel blog, co-written with my wife)
Parents for Inclusive Education (From my Clinic)

Syndicated from other sites

The Columbia Continuum
Other Blogs by CLS students

De Novo
Theory and Practice
Liberal Federalism?
Good News, No Foolin'

Nancy Pelosi covers her head and visits the head of John the Baptist.
Vlogging in from Austin.
Omikase/"American Idol"

Jeremy Blachman's Weblog: 2007
Happy Passover
Looking for Advice re: LA
Google Books

Stay of Execution
What I've Learned From This Blog, or My Yellow Underpants
The End
Mid Thirties

Legal Theory Blog
Program Announcement: Summer Programs on the Constitution at George Washington
Book Announement: Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy by Whittington
Entry Level Hiring Report

The Volokh Conspiracy
Making the Daily Show:
Civil unions pass New Hampshire House:
Profile of Yale Law Dean Harold Koh:

Crescat Sententia
Hillary II
Politics and Principal/Agents

Law Dork
Election Approaches
Following Lewis
New Jersey High Court: 'Same Rights and Benefits'

Surveying the revival
Birds of paradise

Half the Sins of Mankind
Cheney Has Spoken Religious conservatives who may ...
Does Ahmadinejad Know Christianity Better Than MSN...
Borders as Genocide In discussions of climate chan...

For lovers of garden gnomes...and any China-freaks out there
We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Does SOX explain the flight from NY?
More Litvak on SOX effect on cross-listed firms
What did the market learn from internal controls reporting?

The Yin Blog
Iowa City = Riyadh
Jeffrey Rosen's "The Supreme Court"
Geek alert -- who would win between Battlestar Galactica and the U.S.S. Enterprise?

Letters of Marque
And there we are

Signing Off

Dark Bilious Vapors
Jim (The Waco Kid): Where you headed, cowboy?
Bart: Nowhere special.
Jim: Nowhere special. I always wanted to go there.
Bart: Come on.
--"Blazing Saddles"

Technical Difficulties... please stand by....
The Onion should have gotten a patent first....

Legal Ethics Forum
Interesting new Expert DQ case
Decency, Due Care, and The Yoo-Delahunty Memorandum
Thinking About the Fired U.S. Attorneys

Ex Post
Student Symposium- Chicago!
More Hmong - Now at Law School
Good Samaritan Laws: Good For America?

Appellate Law & Practice
Those turned over documents
CA1: courts can’t help people acquitted of crimes purge the taint of acquitted conduct
CA1: restrictions on chain liquor stores in Rhode Island are STILL okay

the imbroglio
High schoolers turn in plagiarism screeners for copyright infringement
Paris to offer 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations to rent by the end of the year

The Republic of T.
The Secret of the Snack Attack
links for 2007-04-04
Where You Link is What You Get

Distractions for stressed law students

The Other Side: Twisted AnimationsSomething Positive, a truly good webcomic

Syndicate This Site



Stop Spam Harvesters, Join Project Honey Pot