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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The St. Louis Blizzard

The role of whiskey in American history should not be underestimated; whiskey is as large in American life as jazz. (If you want to skip the preamble and get to the drink, scroll down; but our feelings for whiskey is that it should be approached slowly, circuitously, with appreciation for history as well as taste…)

In a would-be show of overwhelming force that would have made even Colin Powell blush, George Washington sent no less than 10,000 troops into western Pennsylvania in 1794 to quell the local distillers who didn’t like Alexander Hamilton’s excise tax on whiskey. And if you’ve ever been to western PA, you know that that was probably just barely enough to quell the Whiskey Rebellion. (And if you missed the previous item, Washington’s very own still was fired up for production recently.)

(Of course you’re aware how some settlers fleeing the long arm of the law moved into Kentucky and Tennessee, then out of American reach, and how the whiskey industry evolved from there going foreward).

We have all but forgotten how our early American forebears distilled whiskey as a way to make grain that they couldn’t get to market useful to them through the winter. Whiskey is a drink for all seasons, but it is friendliest in autumn and winter, when we need extra hope to go about our business.

Who, once hearing of it, can forget the fabled Supreme Court case, The United States v. 43 Gallons of Whiskey, 93 U.S. 188 (1876) (which undoubtably was at one point “43 Gallons of Whiskey v. the United States” in a lower court, and which to the Supreme Court not once but twice). The case is not only important to the evolution of American-Native American relations, but to what constitutes American jurisdiction as well.

And we have before pointed out the fabled “if-by-whiskey” speech of Noah “Soggy” Sweat, Jr., to an awestruck crowd in 1952:

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.


If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

St. Louis, of course, is more than a fair-to-meddlin’ whiskey town. Tax was again the issue in President Grant’s greatest scandal, the Whiskey Ring, which originated in St. Louis and spread through the midwest. And it was the fabled St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904 from which Jack Daniel of Lynchburg, Tennesse took home his first Gold Medal for “the world’s best whiskey.”

All this is prelude to a drink. One you’ve never probably tried.

[Wait! Yeah! Give me still more whiskey prelude!]


COMES NOW the Defendant, the ST. LOUIS BLIZZARD, a drink of unknown past and uncertain future, more popular in Italy than in the US, and one of the tastiest ways to take winter whiskey yet devised. We defer to Doctor Cocktail’s Cocktail DB for proper assemblage of the


Blend with lots of ice

2 oz bourbon (6 cl, 1/2 gills)
3/4 oz cranberry juice (2 cl, 3/16 gills)
1 oz fresh lemon juice (3 cl, 1/4 gills)
1 tbsp sugar (1.5 cl, 1/8 gills)

Serve in a rocks glass (6.0 oz)

These ingredients are so preciously contrary, all of them, that you get every note of every taste in every sip. There is sweet, sour, bitter, tang, and of course the gratifying warmth of bourbon whiskey, all concentrated into one beautiful mix. If you liked our recent featured, venerable whiskey drinks, the Jimmy Walker and the Commodore, or the earlier primaveran Crown of Roses (to which the STL Bliz is cousin), and if you like Manhattans or Old Fashioneds or Whiskey Sours, or even Bourbon Fruitcake, we predict you’ll love this drink. It’s enough to make you forgive the Cards for winning the Series this recent October past.

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