Thursday, April 8, 2010

Harvard Cooler

Yesterday was the first day of The Masters, my favorite sporting event of the year. 

I have some friends who have questioned such a statement in the past.  How can it be your favorite sporting event - what about the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, October baseball, the Super Bowl, college football Saturdays...and on and on and on.

All of those things are great, but for me, The Masters will always be king.

It is a confluence of things that makes The Masters so special.  The course, Augusta National, and its beauty; the history, with founder Bobby Jones, a legend in the sport; the drama, with a lineage of greats, from Arnie, to Jack, to Gary, to Watson, to Faldo, to Tiger, to Phil (and countless others); the language, the patrons, the first cut. 

The Masters truly is a tradition unlike any other.  No sport, with the lone exception of baseball, makes me feel this emotionally invested in its outcome, in its broadcast, in its importance on the sporting landscape.  As I type this, I'm wearing a black Augusta National sweater, and watching the DVR recording from Thursday's play. 

And if you haven't gotten into The Masters, or you're wondering how I could feel as I do - give it a chance.  Many friends who first questioned my love for this tournament, have since acknowledged its greatness, and view it in a similar manner today.

The last thing I'll mention about The Masters is that it always ushers in the spring, and you can count on warmer weather after its early April start.  It's fitting then, that we're drinking the Harvard Cooler, a cocktail that's meant to be consumed in warmer weather, and in relaxing settings.

Let's have a look!

The Ultimate Bar Book, page 130

Harvard Cooler

2 ounces apple brandy
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
3 to 5 ounces chilled club soda
Lemon peel spiral

Pour the liquid ingredients into an ice filled highball glass. Stir well. Garnish with the lemon peel.

When I took my first sip of the Harvard Cooler, my reaction was as follows (I've kept it in its original form, so you can see how badly I reacted to the taste):

"I must have bought the crappiest calvados available, because this ingredient list screams refreshing goodness, and yet, what I'm drinking is utterly mediocre, if not bad.  It's not entirely undrinkable, but, the flavor almost contains a bitterness that shouldn't be there.

A while back, my friend Will was over.  Will is in the alcohol industry and knows as much as anyone about various types of alcohol. He tried my calvados after I told him of my experiences.  He said that it didn't have a strong apple flavor like many of the other apple brandies that he had consumed.  And maybe that's just it - my calvados sucks."

And then, I wrote this:

"Otherwise, this drink should work.  As I said, it's not terrible, and after letting the ice melt away, and the bitter qualities fading, it gets a little better with each sip.  These are very small incremental changes, but I'd say it's progress all the same."

By the end though, I actually enjoyed it.  It's a weird progression, going from awkward revulsion to pleasant refreshment.

This isn't the first drink that takes a couple sips to get going.  I felt the same way about the BUMBO!, and even the strong qualities of the Caipirinha caused a bit of a reaction at the start.  I'll give this one a thumbs up - but advise you to seek some help at the liquor store when purchasing your apple brandy or calvados. 

I hope that everyone has a great weekend, and enjoys The Masters.  My pick before it all started was Phil, and I'm sticking with him.  I think he's playing well, and his game is on an upswing.  We'll see you again next week!

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