07 January 2010

Cocktails at the Burn Pit

I believe I was an arsonist in a past life or a fireman. I have always loved fire. One of the joys of living in the country is having your own burn pit. For those of you who grew up in the city and live in apartments this is probably as bizarre as it comes. Still, there is something very comforting about a day filled with cleaning brush and debris finished off with a big bonfire. It’s not a site you will see in New York or Los Angles or even Huntsville.

My BFF, Beverly, and her husband, the NASA engineer, built a house outside of Huntsville. The year it was built, there cows in the next field. Today, there are 6000 square-foot McMansions behind them. Every year they come to Shirley and spend a week on the farm. They loved being in the country and instituted a kind of “forced march” mentality trying to do every chore imaginable in a few days. I must say Doe Run Farm always looked its best the day they drove off into the sunrise. I usually looked my worst! The best part of our visits occurred when we grabbed a drink and gathered around the fire to discuss the day’s work.

This year, Beverly got her own place in the country, where she can work incessantly to bring order from chaos. The first thing she inaugurated was her own burn pit! The other day, she sent me a picture captioned “cocktails at the burn pit.” Beverly was finishing up the day in the country burning debris. Clad in her sweatshirt, she had a fire poker in one hand and stemware in the other.

It was the quintessential visualization of being a Southerner. No matter how hard or dirty the work, there is always time for a lovely cocktail. The picture made me laugh as I was researching some old cocktail books that were priced as though they were old cars! I sent Beverly a note telling her I was going to write a drink book entitled, “Cocktails at the Burn Pit.” After I wrote the note, I realized it was a pretty good idea.

Tonight, The University of Alabama plays some other team for the National Championship. In honor of this, here is the inaugural “Cocktails at the Burn Pit” recipe. Several years ago, I was off to London and grabbed a free “flyer” magazine that featured a drink recipe from a swanky D.C. hotel. It was for a margarita featuring beer as its secret ingredient. A few weeks later, I was reading The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love and I realized the swanky recipe was based on New Allison’s margarita recipe. My cocktail is based on the beer margarita. Making it in 12-ounce batches eliminated the need for careful measuring as the limeade, 7-up and Corona are packaged in 12-ounce containers. Simply use the empty limeade can to measure the tequila. There is an alchemy to this drink that I can’t explain, so substitution of ingredients is not allowed, trust me it won't work with Sprite.

The Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer Give’em Hell Alabama Tequila Jack Slammer

12 ounces frozen limeade, thawed a bit
12 ounces 7-Up *
12 ounces Corona beer **
12 ounces top shelf tequila (I like Suarza)
12 ounces Jack Daniels
Juice of an orange
Sanding sugar

*7-up: not Diet 7-Up, not Sprite, not Mountain Dew
** Corona: not Coors, not Miller High Life, not Harp

Mix the limeade, 7-Up, Corona, and tequila, stirring carefully as it has a tendency to explode. (This would be a good time to emphasize that this can and never will be a frozen drink as putting these ingredients into a blender will cause it to explode.)

Place the juice of one orange in a saucer and the sanding sugar in another saucer. Dip the rim of a small old-fashioned glass or a stemless champagne flute into the juice followed by the sugar.

Pour four ounces of the margarita mixture into the sanded glass.

Take a spoon holding it directly over the drink surface. With the back of the spoon facing up, gently pour an ounce of Jack Daniels over the curve onto the drink to form a sort of pousse-café effect.

This is pretty potent, so only drink one or two. Be very, very careful if you drink them around the burn pit.

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