(Editor’s Note: Brady Potts, stalwart recipe-taster, occasional food photographer, and general better half, will be stepping in from time to time with a little feature called Drinking With the Junior League, a round-up of cocktails from the cookbooks we’ve explored to date. Nearly every Junior League cookbook includes a section dedicated to lively punches and potent potables suitable for entertaining, and let’s face it, most of us could use a little branching out of our mixology skills. This week’s interlude will feature cocktails from The Junior League of Memphis Cookbook (1952). Cheers!)
Hello again, and welcome to another installment of “Drinking with the Junior League,” in which I match livers with the League’s finest.
Come with me, if you will, to a time and place where drinks were made with care, and when there were no such things as cell phone cameras and YouTube, and thus the drinks were pretty strong. In today’s installment, that fabled time and place is Memphis in 1952, when the Junior League published a cookbook that included not only recipes, but a section titled “Quick-Ups, Pick-Ups, and Hic-Cups”.
The first section is filled with tips to make housework a breeze, like “To remove spots from dark garments, a piece of old nylon stocking may be used for applying the cleaning fluid or tepid soap solution. Nylon leaves no lint.” Genius! The second, “Pick-Ups”, is full of quick and easy party recipes from cans, which nevertheless includes the likes of “Veal Madeira” (It was a different time).
But it is the third section that concerns us today: Hic-Cups. As the chapter heading reminds us,
‘Twas once said, “A loaf of bread,
A jug of wine, and thou”
Is all you need your joy to speed.
‘Twas no truer then than now.
Today’s cocktail recipe will speed your joy, alright. I give you, “Swamp Water.”
1 part lemon juice
2 parts orange juice
Powdered sugar to taste
1 part bourbon
1 part rum
Maraschino cherry juice to taste
Mix, chill, serve in cocktail glasses garnished with a cherry or orange slice.
Guaranteed to be better than it sounds, and the perfect answer for guests who don’t enjoy the taste of whiskey.
–Mrs. Frank M. Norfleet
Guests who don’t enjoy the taste of whiskey indeed. If you’ll excuse the messy analogy, whiskey is the pork of liquors and bourbon the bacon.* And who doesn’t love bacon? Vegans, that’s who.**
However, Mrs. Frank Norfleet is obviously a better host than I, because this is a perfectly serviceable cocktail for those who disdain whiskey in all its forms. I think the batch I made got a little watered down in the process – I used a shaker rather than waiting for it to chill – but it was indeed better than it sounded. I had mine in the evening, but it would make a very refreshing drink on a hot afternoon – mix up a pitcher’s worth ahead of time, and you have a citrus-y, stiff cocktail ready to serve. And it’s chock full of Vitamin-C, even.
But be warned: it’s tart. I used about a half teaspoon of sugar, but I think if I made them again I’d use a little more, maybe a teaspoon per serving. Also, I started sweating profusely after finishing one and a half, so be sure to have a designated driver on hand in case you are seized with the urge to be social, or to go give your local elected officials a piece of your mind. Also, you may want to hide your phone, your credit cards, and close the blinds.
*I had a little part here where I compared Jack Daniels to prepackaged deli-sliced ham and small batch bourbon to lovingly prepared apple hickory smoked bacon, but Mary agreed that it was a little much.
** Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are vegans.