Okay, right up at the front of the stage, before the curtains go up, let me tell those readers who don’t know, what MxMo is (or at least give out what I know, which isn’t a whole barrelful of knowledge, since I’ve never had the pleasure of taking part before). Basically, it’s a bunch of bar-booze-drunken bloggers making up or bringing out a drink under a particular theme, on a Monday. So, mixology Monday I suppose. A different blog hosts every one (one a month, I believe), and they round up links to the posts about the theme on the day on their site, and send readers out and about and around the interweb to see those other posts about the theme. From what I’ve read when going boozing on the web on Mondays, the themes tend to be a particular spirit, liquor, or ingredient. However, when the really wacky bar blogger hosts, the theme may just be more, let’s say esoteric. Which is the case this month, as drink-slinger Andrew Bohrer who blogs at Cask Strength is hosting the MxMo, and he chose Tom Waits.
Which actually makes fantastically fantastic sense, as Andrew talks about in his top MxMo post (right here), in story fashion, which Waits himself would enjoy, I think. See, at heart, going around the rumbling voice and the at times otherworldly instrumentation and the harlots and hard heads, Waits is a storyteller, a boozy troubadour, a chronicler of the forgotten nights and the railroad yards, of trombone funerals and waking up wearing bruises and regret in a hotel next to the railroad tracks, of lost and long- elapsed love, and of gospel music sung under a blistering sun when all you want is a glass of whiskey and s single ice cube and the time to drink the world down.
Of course, as the above going on and on probably demonstrates, and since I’ve mentioned him in cocktail recipe intros in pretty much every book I’ve written, I’m a Tom Waits fan. I have most CDs, and listen to him on a regular basis, and have sat up singing Tom Waits with pals and bourbon and brandy until 4 am multiple times, have sat in a parked car half drunk singing Tom Waits while the thunder hit the hood like a million fists, and have put Tom Waits songs on jukeboxes with a glass of gin in one hand in more bars, lounges, dives, and hole-in-the-walls then I can remember. But as I haven’t gotten to my drink yet, I’m gonna put a leash on my Waitsean ramblings and start pouring.
Oh, wait, give me another sec, to give a drink backstory. Though I enjoy all the Waits CDs I have (including those Andrew mentions, Closing Time, Small Change, and the rollicking live Nighthawks at the Diner), the one I go back to the most is Rain Dogs. From the opening “We sail tonight for Singapore” to the New Orleans horns playing the funeral out at the record’s end, Rain Dogs matches more moods and moodiness and must-have-a-drink-while-listening-to tracks to me than any other. And while I don’t have a “favorite” song on Rain Dogs (this makes a type of sense, since they go together like egg drinks and mornings), “Tango Till They’re Sore” is the song (don’t take this morbidly, by the way) I want played at my funeral. I just want folks there to have good music, to drink well, and to toast me relentlessly, and this song, which starts “Well ya play that Tarantela and the hounds they start to roar” does just that. Not to mention that the chorus goes:
Let me fall out the window
With confetti in my hair
Deal out jacks or better
On a blanket by the stairs
I’ll tell you all my secrets
But I lie about my past
So send me off to bed forever more.
Rain Dogs also has a dandy song called “Jockey Full of Bourbon” (which has the classic line, a line I can sympathize with, “I’m full of bourbon, I can’t stand up”), so I wanted my drink to have a bourbon base, and bourbon is also mentioned multiple times within the record. The only other spirit dropped in the album is brandy (in “Union Square”), so I decided to double up on base spirits a bit, and then I wanted to bring in some bitters, in honor of the line in “9th & Hennepin” that says “till you’re full of rag water, bitters, and blue ruin.” So, that got me to three, a magic number, but because Tom Waits is also an original, I wanted to bring another ingredient into the drink that isn’t mentioned in one of his songs (four can be a magic number too y’all), but that has at least a tangential connection, and so I went with St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram. For one, it tastes great. For two, St. Elizabeth’s could be an insane asylum. For three, it’s based on an older ingredient called “Pimento Dram” which I could see Waits-style sailors drinking on a leaking dingy. When mixed in the following way, these ingredients in honor of Tom Waits and Andrew Bohrer make The Hounds They Start to Roar:
2 ounces bourbon (I used Blanton’s)
¾ ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
½ ounce brandy (I used Grand Duke d’Alba cause I’m walking Spanish down the hall)
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker, mixing glass, dented top hat, or ladies leather boot halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or goblet. Garnish with a sad song.
PS: Feel this needs a garnish? I suggest an ice pick, a dented fender from a ’54 Ford, or a tattooed tear.