Well, this wasn’t the plan. I guess we are all saying that way too much this year. I had a craving for something refreshing this afternoon, probably with gin and chartreuse, but then things happened in the world and I felt like I should address them, with a drink, which is how I process things now, apparently. So, join me as we stand and make the Devil Went Down to Georgia.
Charlie Daniels died today at the age of 83. I was a fan of his music when I was younger. I think that most of us children of the 70’s loved The Devil Went Down To Georgia at some point. Back in the days of terrestrial radio, it was a big thing and it just stayed around. It is off the album Million Mile Reflections, which was solid and available super cheap at any truck stop in the land. I don’t know how many copies of this and Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, I have owned over the years. Back before iPods and streamed music, if you flew into somewhere and couldn’t find a good radio station, pop into a truckstop and toss down $3.99 and you were listening to Charlie Daniels on an album that is a lot of things, most of them not remotely country. I still think that the song Reflections is one of the best tributes to fallen musicians out there, which makes it kind of bittersweet to listen to today.
I liked his music and the way that those early albums bounce from country to blues to southwest cowboy ballads to rock to jazz and back again, never really pigeonholed into one style of music, kind of like what Lyle Lovett would do later. I met him a couple of times and he was always a gentleman. I didn’t agree with some of his politics later on in life, but I respected his right to believe as he chose. There are a lot of musicians whose music I adore while disagreeing with their views. Hell, there are a lot of people that I love, who I disagree with, strongly, about a lot of things, pretty sure that is how it is supposed to work. Believe what you want, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone or encouraging others to hurt someone else, I can support you. Now, when you start hurting people or trying to hurt them, that’s a different drink for a different day. As is so often misattributed to either Voltaire or Patrick Henry, “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” It was actually written by by Evelyn Beatrice Hall who used it to describe Voltaire’s attitude toward censorship, in a particular case, but hey these things happen. Anyway, let’s make a cocktail for a fella who passed on today, who created music many of us grew up with and who kept me company on a bunch of late night drives across the desert.
I searched for an appropriate cocktail and found three or four different ones with this name, all with different ingredients. So I took the spirit of those cocktails and made something of my own, incorporating ingredients that reminded me of his music. So grab your tins and pop in 1 1/4 ounce of Tennessee Whiskey, I went with Corsair Wildfire, figuring that hickory smoke was probably created when the Devil jumped up on a hickory stump to say, “Boy, let me tell you what…”; 1/2 an ounce of Peach Schnapps, made from fresh Georgia Peaches, we assume; 3/4 of an ounce of lemon juice, 1/2 an ounce of Demerara syrup, 1/2 an ounce of egg white or aquafaba and a bar spoon of hot sauce, I used Captain Rodney’s Corazon del Fuego. Add ice and shake to the beat of Johnny’s fiddle solo, like a chicken in a bread pan picking out dough. Strain out your ice and discard it before giving the drink a dry shake to the beat of the Devil’s funky bass driven, are there fiddles even, portion of the duel. Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a jalapeño coin and a sprinkle of smoked paprika, while visions of golden fiddles dance in your heads.
That’s a decent attempt. The hickory smoked whisky is the perfect carrier for the hint of peach and that hot sauce just sings through. I’d be tempted to back that Demerara to 1/4 ounce, but Laura says to leave it alone, and go make her another.
So there you go, a drink for a fella who sometimes made me cringe with the things he would say, but who created some fine music. He was proud to be from Mount Juliet, Tennessee and he did an awful lot of good for local charities and his community. He used his voice for the things he believed in and you have to respect that. We didn’t always agree, but he was a decent fella and I’m sorry to see him go. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.
Post Script: I just found out that Ennio Morricone, composer of so many songs you and I know passed away today at age 91. I can think of many drinks to make in his honor and he deserves them. So, if you’d prefer to call this one “The Ecstasy of Golden Peaches”, I can respect that.