I don’t drink a lot of beer, never have. Sure, I would have one if it was offered, just wasn’t my thing. I could appreciate it but for the most part I just couldn’t get into them and it made me jealous. People who liked beer, really loved it. I wanted that. I wanted to be a part of that club, to enjoy something so accessible on such a deep level. I wanted to see 99 bottles of beer on the wall and get excited as I sang along. But it was not to be. Over the years, I have learned to appreciate many beers and to truly love a few, but I am not a “let’s grab a beer” guy. Maybe I never will be. Still, I had a hankering today, so join me as we stand and make the Notorious BHB.
Like so many other things, it turned out that I actually do like beer, I just did not like the cheap beers I was introduced to. My early beer education came around bonfires in cow pastures, crushing cans of the optimistically named Milwaukee’s Best, pre frog Bud…weis…er and Natty Light. Wasn’t my thing, still isn’t, but it is what we had and after a couple of pints of Bourbon Falls Whiskey from the local bootlegger, the beers went down smoothly enough. Those experiences left a bad taste in my mouth and I avoided beer for a long time after that. Of course, there were always beers in the fridge in my bachelor home, since I had buddies who would leave them there, but I was rarely tempted by them. Funny thing, one of the best beer experiences I ever had was courtesy of a couple of those leftover Corona’s. When I first moved into our house way back in the 90’s it was a wreck and I spent the first year or so remodeling, which often meant rebuilding, just to make it livable again. I remember a particular day when I was replacing the front porch with my grandfather. It was hot, I remember that. Oddly, I also remember that while we were working, a door to door salesman pulled up, and Pa told him we couldn’t stop to talk, we had to finish fixing the porch “for the widow woman who owns the place.” Don’t know why that always stuck with me, but it sure has crossed my mind several times since he passed and I find myself walking up the hill to take care of something for grandma. Like so many other things, I guess he was prepping me for that job too, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Later we walked inside to take a break and as I opened the fridge to grab the water jug he noticed those beers sitting in my nearly empty fridge. At his suggestion we grabbed one each and went back out to sit on the edge of the porch we had just built. I can still remember how good that beer tasted. Ice cold beer in the hot sun. Sitting on the porch we had just built, sharing those beers and that moment together. I don’t recall ever having another drink with him. I don’t remember ever seeing him with a beer beside that one. I do remember sitting there sweating, honest sweat from working together, listening to him talk about the old family and how poplar gets so hard over the years that you can barely work it, as we sipped those beers in the sun. That’s a good memory, probably because it was such an unusual situation. Pa didn’t usually drink beer and I didn’t usually work hard. I’d give a bunch to be able to do that again.
One of the other beer moments I remember was the first time I actually enjoyed one for the taste. The day I discovered stouts. We were at Blackstone Brewery in Nashville when my buddy Joe, offered me a taste of his Oatmeal Stout. I loved it and he bought me my first pint, god bless him. I have learned to enjoy many beers since then, but I am still on the outside of that culture. I have several friends who are very knowledgeable and they try to help me, and I am thankful every time I am invited to a bottle sampling. Even if I don’t have a sophisticated beer palate, I appreciate the opportunity to learn. Still hate those hoppy IPA’s but I am trying to learn and I drink more than stouts now.
This hot day has me thinking about a nice cold beer and the folks I have enjoyed them with over the years. So let’s crank up some Notorious B.I.G. and make this one. Don’t bother googling it, I just made the name up. This drink is a riff on a recipe I read sometime back, but far enough from the original that it really is its own thing. Where did the name come from, well there are the main ingredients, but as the gentle strains of “Juicy“waft from the speakers I find myself thinking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and wishing her a speedy recovery. No matter your politics, you’ve got to respect her tenacity and conviction. So, the formula for this drink name is ingredients + badass hip-hop + RBG = The Notorious BHB; and if you don’t know, now you know.
Grab your tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of Bourbon, I went with Michter’s; 1/2 an ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 ounce of honey simple syrup, 2-3 dashes of orange bitters. Add ice and shake hard to the beat of “Mo Money Mo Problems” or Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” whichever works for you, as long as you add a side hitch step on every eighth beat you ought to be fine. Once your tins are chilled, strain into a nice cold pint glass and top with a nice wheat beer, I went with Blue Moon, cause that’s what the grocery had, garnish with lemon wheel and serve.
That’s kinda fun, isn’t it? Ice cold, refreshing, citrus forward but with bourbon pushing through. Yeah, I like it. It is an improvement on the beer alone, so that is good enough for me. This is added as an officially approved method for beer consumption. Is it as good as the first oatmeal stout with Joe? I don’t think so. Is it as good as that cold bottle of Corona on the porch with Pa? Hell, no. I’ll never have those beers again and that is why they are special. I wouldn’t trade the memory of those two, beers or men for the best drink in the world. The Notorious BourbonHoneyBeer isn’t the best drink in the world, but it will do until we can do better. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.