Sunday, August 16, 2009

The best drink in town

If you've read the blog about my father, "Shhh don't tell them you speak Spanish", you won't be surprised by this story.

I can't remember a time when there weren't parties at our house. Maybe because my father had 8 siblings and was used to being surrounded by people or maybe it was simply because he just loved parties. I'm not sure what the reason, I only know parties were a huge part of my childhood.

Although I was raised Catholic, as were my Mother and Father, dad landed a job working for a Jewish temple. As we were not raised with prejudice it made no difference to me where he worked or who with and it didn't to him either. He loved people and didn't care what their background. All he asked was respect. If you respected him, he immediately considered you a friend.One of the benefits of dad's working for the temple was that he frequently brought home kosher pickles. I so looked forward to weddings and bar mitzvah's, not that I attended any, oh no. Mom and Dad would go frequently because although my father was an employee at the temple, everyone loved him and invited him to their events. So while mom and dad dressed up and went out for an evening of fun and dancing, I stayed home and waited for the food to arrive. And it was through the temple events that dad made friends with the caterers and learned to make hors d'oeuvres. This was a good thing for a man who loved to have parties and as his kids, it meant we too would learn how to make the hors d'oeuvres, like it or not.

Dad would come up with a new excuse to have a party and then say "we're" gonna make the food"; which was always followed by an audible "Ohhhh" because to us, it meant hours in the kitchen making hors d'oeuvres.

Yes, parties were what we did and I recall one particular party when the "Host with the Most" would stoop to be a sneak in order to prove a point.

One weekend a family friend came to visit and the subject of alcohol came up. They began to talk about their favorite drinks, how they liked them mixed and who could mix a good drink.

Dad had long before built a bar in our back family room. It was a great looking bar and if you didn't know better, sitting there gave you the feeling that you'd stepped into a establishment. My Uncle Joe upholstered this L shaped bar, approximately 8 feet in length with a little swinging door so as not to use your hands when delivering drinks on a tray. Seriously. Behind the bar were cabinets with mirrors and lines of bottles and mixes. There you could find just about anything you needed for any drink.

So as the two sat and talked about their favorite drinks, this family friend made the mistake of telling dad that he only drank Chivas Regal and could tell it from any other scotch. Big Boo Boo. Dad loved a challenge. I could see the wheels spinning. There was a slight squinting of the eyes, the side glance, the arched eye brow and then as if it never happened he continued on with the conversation moving into world politics, the neighborhood and child rearing.

Two weeks later, we were in full steam ahead preparation for another party, whatever it was, we needed to celebrate. We're in the kitchen making hors d'oeuvres when here comes dad with an empty bottle of Chivas Regal. Thinking he was about to throw the bottle in the trash I watched in surprise as he placed it on the table next to a brown paper bag. If you haven't' already figured it out, he then pulled a bottle of some off brand scotch out of the bag and began to fill the Chivas Regal bottle with it's contents. What!? "Why you doing that da" I began to ask but before I could finish, that look from two weeks prior; the slightly squinted eyes and arched eyebrow were back. Finger pursed to lips and a shhhhh, was all the response I got.

He finished filling the bottle, wiped it up one side and down the other and then carefully walked it down to the den and placed it smack dab in the middle of all the other bottleson the bar. Pretty as can be.

Later that evening as the guests begin to pour in, dad stands behind the bar in anticipation of the arrival of our family friend. I can almost see him drooling at the thought of proving his point, but he's determined to pull this one off and maintains his "Host with the Most", not a care in the world attitude, serving drinks, swapping hugs, jokes and laughter all at once. The party is on and the cat is in the bag.

Soon enough our friend arrives and as if scripted to do so he plops himself down right on the middle stool of the bar. Although I'm sure he's seen him, dad manages to avoid eye contact for a few minutes as if preparing for the task at hand. After a few moments he turns and greets our friend as if he's just seen him and of course asks the question of the evening "what can I get you to drink?". Without hesitation our friend answers, what else but "Chivas Regal". Dad quickly responds "as if I didn't know...Let me see" and then as if he has no idea where it might be found he scans the bottles with a pointed finger until at last it is found. He grasps the bottle and turns the cap as if opening the bottle for the first time and then without concern of insulting our guest he pours the ever precious golden liquid into one of our regular whiskey glasses. Ohhh the gall!
Dad places the glass before our friend and then goes about his business of wiping the bar down while mingling with our guests all the while cocking one eye toward our friend to capture the inevitable question. Friend picks up the glass and drinks and then turns to another guest with whom he exchanges the regular "how's the family, bet the kids are getting big" routine. Nothing. No comment. No distortion of the face. No Nothing!

I know my father was waiting for something to happen; a slight look of doubt or question but nothing happens. The entire evening passes and not once does any question arise as to odd or peculiar difference in this bottle of Chivas Regal.

My dad is overjoyed with his win. So much so that he decides not to let our friend in on the joke. In fact, that same bottle remained in our bar for many months and was replaced only now and again when our friend, out of common courtesy would show up with a new bottle only to have dad repeat the same process time and again. It was our little secret and remained to be for as long as my dad was alive. The "Host with the Most" proved his point and never said a word to our friend. He did, however, save a ton of money by buying that less expensive Scotch and I can assure you the money saved was put toward an never before tried tantalizing, finger licking hors d'oeuvre. Ever had cocktail wieners with bacon wrap and a slice of pineapple? Ooooh...Party anyone?


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

OMG that was brilliant. O.K., you need to work on the "Daniel Chronicles" or something to that effect; your precious dad provided a wealth of charming stories that give me such joy. Oh how I remember the grand opening to the family room downstairs. The ribbon cutting, the bar that my dad upholstered, the cushy foam that Tim put under his wall to wall carpet...remember auntie Leecha (spelling!)? She came with her little high-heeled mules and fell while dancing? Gosh those were the days. I can see Uncle Daniel's brain working as he is conjuring up this scheme with the drink! I loved his low-key way of doing this kind of stuff and do I remember the hors d'oeuvres. What I remember the most were the family tamale-making gatherings. Oh I could go on and on, but I'll leave the family storytelling to you. Brilliant. Gros bisous, Anita

Becky Lou said...

That sounds like something my grandpa would've done. I think its time for you to throw another karaoke party and serve up some of those hors d'oeuvres. :)

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