Archived Pages from 20th Century!!
Whiskey on the Rocks
On evenings when we want no guesswork from the bartender - or anyone else, for that matter - we order a whiskey on the rocks. Admittedly, we've asked for the same on occasions when a little spirit of conjecture would be welcomed. But under any pretext, there's no more comforting or inspiring drink.
We've heard tell of mere monkeys making this drink deftly, but even in an unscouted bar, we still eye the bartender closely every time we order a whiskey on the rocks. Not getting it right can be crushing. In fact, we've tossed tables over less. Greenhorn mixers often skimp on ice, leaving us with a tepid drink we're certain not to finish. Or they'll toss in more than a jigger of spirit, which makes drinking the last of the tipple a task, not a pleasure. Oh, and stars forbid they actually run out of our favorite brand of whiskey.
Fine bartenders struggling at establishments with damaged reputations, take heart. We follow the words of the Esquire Drink Book from 1956, a tome whose editors rarely take to begging: "When nearing whiskey, or the place where it is dispensed - be it saloon, private bar in a friend's or enemy's home, 'package store,' or your own humble shelf under the sink - we beg you, approach your drink in a spirit of reverence.... And therein lies a hint to us mixers. Are we doing right by our favorite rye when we ball it with plebeian fizz put out by the local popmaker? Must its flavor suffer lèse-majesté...? It is a personal choice, and we will be damned for it, that we should pick one among the whiskeys over another." So we only pick for ourselves, and though our choice rarely wavers, we pay homage to whatever a whiskey drinker may sip, be it bourbon, Scotch, rye, Canadian, or Irish.
We're also well-seated with the view that whiskey drinkers are moody. On more than one occasion, an irksome bartender has given us a pleasantly wide girth merely based on our order of whiskey on the rocks. Deep down, we know that "moody" is just their interpretation of our determination to get what we ordered, just how we like it.
But we're quick to distinguish ourselves from those who chug shots of whiskey. There's an old saying (for which we usually exclude single-malt scotch drinkers) that those who won't take ice in their whiskey are either pretentious or drunk. We also point to H. L. Mencken's father, who, according to his son, tried his first shot of scotch whiskey in 1894 and then "carried on in a violent manner, and died four years later," still blaming that shot. Had Papa Mencken requested ice, we're certain he would have been fine.