On Cooking Southern: A Groggy Night Inspires End-Of-Summer Cocktails

The French 75 “A Salute to the Grog”

SOUTHERNISM OF THE WEEK

Tom and Jerry: A grog of powdered sugar, beaten egg yolks and whites, whiskey and hot milk, seasoned with nutmeg. Dates back to the 1820s, most popular after 1850; continued its popularity in the Midwest during the early 20th century when the South veered off into milk punch territory. Lighter than eggnog; not related to the 20th-century cartoon characters.


Hubby and I were guests last weekend in Tupelo at a grand Dining Out Mess held by the 1-98th Cavalry Squadron of the Mississippi National Guard (MSNG).  Other guests were Armor and Cavalry soldiers from around the state.

The 1-98th CAV consists of six units from the northeastern portion of the state, and is the reconnaissance squadron for the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). Called the “Dixie Thunder,” the ABCT is the largest unit in the state. Members of the 1-98th and other units in the 155th ABCT have deployed to Iraq twice since 2004, and are scheduled to deploy overseas again in 2018. They reflect a 200-year-old tradition of Mississippi soldiers’ participation in America’s ongoing fight for freedom.

For folks not familiar with military lingo, a Dining Out is a formal banquet where spouses and significant others are invited to join members of the military for an evening of food, ceremony and drink. The centerpiece of the libations is a concoction called “Grog.” Originated by 18th century Royal British Navy sailors using rum, the Grog is created in an elaborate Grog Bowl Ceremony that reflects the history of a military branch’s many engagements around the globe. The Grog Bowl event is presided over by the “President” (highest ranking officer), and the Grog Bowl Ceremony is presided over by Mister or Madam “Vice” President, often with humorous dialogue and interchange with attending soldiers.

To recap each pertinent historical action or military engagement involving the military unit(s), a designated soldier presents an “appropriate” ingredient, tastes it, and then empties it into the grog punch bowl.  

The Vice initiates the ceremony by stating, “Grog has a long tradition of identifying true Warriors.  The punch’s ferocity and keen taste can be savored by those old cavalry troopers who spurred their way to victory.  To others, it is a poison, with the sting of a scorpion, the bite of a cobra, and the kick of a mule.  Although we are proud warriors of the present, none must forget the past.  To honor those Warriors who have come before us, I add the remains of the Grog from years past.”

The ceremony continues, and a U.S. Cavalry Grog Bowl might contain the following:

  • The Grog base, representing spilled blood – red fruit punch
  • Mexican American War – tequila or kahlua
  • Civil War – Southern Comfort
  • American Indian Wars – Sky Blue Vodka
  • Spanish American War – Cuban rum
  • Pancho Villa Mexican border war (the last horse cavalry engagement) –  tequila
  • World War I – red wine and/or Jaegermeister
  • World War II – Becks Beer, San Miguel beer from the Philippines
  • Korean Conflict – Soju
  • Vietnam War – warm Budweiser
  • Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm)  – sand (brown sugar) and JP-8 fuel (Everclear)

After a tasting declares the Grog still unfit for consumption, one final ingredient must be added. The last ingredient is French champagne. It is added to toast soldiers currently deployed, to honor those who have given their lives in the past, including Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and to commemorate the Fiddler’s Green, a mythic afterlife place where sailors and cavalrymen mirthfully and tirelessly dance to a fiddler’s tune.

Once the Grog has been declared fit for consumption, individuals are called before the group and punished with a turn at the Bowl for having committed infractions against the rules of the Order. Experienced soldiers usually reserve nearby hotel rooms, knowing that they will not be fit to be anybody’s designated driver by evening’s end.

We all chuckled over the good-hearted 1-98th CAV Grog Bowl antics that night in Tupelo. But during a quiet moment, I reflected on the civilians, warriors and their loved ones involved in the never-ending fight to preserve freedom. I concluded that the numbing effects of a good Grog Bowl are necessary once in a while.


This week we honor the military Grog Bowl tradition with classic cocktail recipes featuring liqueurs, distilled spirits and Champagne.  Let’s face it, school started this week, and we’re all suffering from a low-grade depression that occurs annually during the waning, lazy, hazy days of summer.

Anyone who needs further support after consumption should call in the Cavalry. Those soldiers are made of really really strong stuff.

BLOOD AND SAND

This recipe first appeared in print in 1930 in The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, during the golden era that popularized a group of multi-alcohol brain-cell killers such as the 1920  “Stinger” and 1940 “Hurricane.”

Blood and Sand

3/4 oz single malt Scotch whiskey (I use Glenfiddich)
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
3/4 oz Cherry Heering brandy (NOT interchangeable with maraschino liqueur)
3/4 oz orange juice
Orange peel

Combine first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.


FRENCH 75

A salute to the Grog.

Chilled Champagne glasses
1 lemon
3 T (1-1/2 oz) gin
1-1/2 T (3/4 oz) fresh lemon juice
1 T (1/2 oz) simple syrup
1 c ice cubes
1/4 c (2 oz) Champagne, chilled

Use paring knife or peeler to slice a long thin spiral of lemon peel. Set peel aside. Reserve lemon for another use.

Combine gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice in shaker. Shake vigorously about 20 seconds. Strain into chilled flute. Top with Champagne. Curl lemon peel around finger to create a twist; garnish drink and serve at once.


CLASSIC MARGARITA

2 T fresh lime juice
1 T Cointreau or Triple Sec
2 oz (1/4 c)  silver tequila (not aged so it won’t taste oak-y)
2 tsp superfine sugar or simple syrup
1/4 c kosher salt
1 wedge lime
2 c ice cubes

Spread salt on small plate. Rub lime wedge around rim of glass. Dip moistened rim of glass in salt and twist lightly to coat. Set aside.

Combine lime juice, simple syrup, triple sec, tequila and 1 c ice cubes in cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously about 30 seconds. Strain into prepared glass. Fill glass with remaining ice cubes.


CLASSIC DAQUIRI

2 T (1 oz) fresh lime juice
2 heaping tsp superfine sugar
2 oz white rum
1 c ice cubes
Lime wheel for garnish

Combine lime juice, sugar or simple syrup in cocktail shaker wit rum and ice cubes. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. Strain into chilled glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

FROZEN DAQUIRI: Substitute 1 can of limeade concentrate for the sugar and lime juice. Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse.


MOJITO

2 T fresh lime juice
2 heaping tsp superfine sugar or 1/4 c simple syrup
1 c crushed ice
12 fresh mint leaves, plus sprig for garnish
2 oz white rum
2 T (1 oz) club soda

Combine lime juice, simple syrup, pour over crushed ice in a 10-oz Collins or highball glass. Rub mint leaves around rim of glass, then tear leaves in half and add to glass. Gently stir about 15 seconds. Tuck mint sprigs into top of glass and insert tall straw.

Combine lime juice, simple syrup, pour over crushed ice in a 10-oz Collins or highball glass. Top with club soda.


CHAMPAGNE ST GERMAIN

Matthew and Clinton at Oxford’s West Jackson Wine & Spirits informed me of the wonders of elderflower liqueur. WOW. Wish I had known sooner. St. Germain is the most prominent version — lightly  floral and sweet, perfect for combining with dry champagne or dry sparkling wine such as Cava (Spain) or Prosecco (Italy).

1/2 oz chilled elderflower liqueur
4 oz chilled dry sparkling wine or champagne
Orange wedge OR Cucumber slice and a sprig of mint

Pour the elderflower liqueur into a champagne flute. Top with champagne or sparkling wine. Squeeze in the orange juice or add the cucumber and mint and stir gently.


BLACKBERRY PUNCH

1 part vodka
1/3 part Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
2/3 part lemon juice
2/3 part simple syrup
Champagne
3 blackberries for garnish

Combine first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled highball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with champagne and garnish with blackberries.


HOP SKIP AND GO NAKED

This is the quintessential bathtub or trashcan concoction for financially strapped young people.

1 bag ice
1 can frozen limeade
1 can frozen lemonade
2-liter container of lemon lime soda such as Sprite
1/2 gal vodka or gin
1 case (20-24 cans or bottles) of beer

Empty the bag of ice into large cooler.  Add the cans of limeade and lemonade, followed by the lemon-lime soda. Stir in the vodka and beer. Assign a room monitor to maintain the Good of the Order and to limit consumption to about 3 drinks per person.


Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ website and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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