Amusement is a Cocktail’s Real Line of Work

Oh what a trove of riches I was provided with this chilly morning in the WSJ. As Cindy and I watched the chickadees and cardinals feast on the feeder’s seeds, I read a wonderful piece by Eric Felten. His topic was ‘The Art of Drinking Well,’ and he describes the job a well-made cocktail plays in a civilized land.

First he laments our time-strapped society, that no longer sets aside that beloved period that was known by FDR as ‘the children’s hour,’ and by Bernard DeVoto as simply, ‘The Hour.’ No, we’re rushing around too busy for ‘a proper pre-prandial cocktail to get in the mood for dinner.’ While this sadly, is true, Felten suggests that ‘it’s possible to be serious about drinking without being a serious drinker’ and that amusement is the cocktail’s real line of work, and a noble one at that.

“And if it can add to our pleasure by having a good story to tell, all the better. Great drinks are like tunes from the Great American Songbook–they can withstand the endless variations that come from individual interpretation. And enjoying these drinks makes one part of a living tradition–a lineage of civilized drinkers.”

He closes with a bit of poetry by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr, (not the judge, his father the poet), who wrote an ode to an old punchbowl.

“This ancient silver bowl of mine, it tells of good old times/Of joyous days, and jolly nights, and merry Christmas chimes/They were a free and jovial race, but honest brave and true,/That dipped their ladle in the punch when this old bowl was new…[his] eyes grow moist and dim/To think of all the vanished joys that danced around its brim.”