Jim Siergey: Sour Puss

October 26th, 2020

My wife made a dish a while ago that called for lemons. The store didn’t have singular lemons for sale so she had to buy a bagful. So, we now have a bag of lemons, minus one or two.

That’s a lot of lemons to have on hand. From what I’ve heard the only thing to do with lemons is to make lemonade.  Perhaps if the outside temps were in the 90s, we might do that but since it’s in the 40s that thought has hit the road like a bindlestiff.

T’uther night I came up with the idea of making whiskey sours. I figured there’d be less lemon-squeezing to be done for that than for a pitcher of lemonade. I found my Bartender’s Guide paperback and flipped to the corresponding page. I found that there were a number of ingredients needed to make a whiskey sour. Well, more than three anyway.

The recipe called for one and half ounces of lemon juice, which I figured might be the equivalent of one lemon. Before I embarked upon this slightly monumental task I asked my wife if she would care for one. Her response was “I’ll taste yours.”

Well, what if she liked it? That meant I’d have to do a separate squeezing to make a glass for her. Fuck dat shit…er…I mean, phooey on that. I’d make two at once.

As I read further I saw that the assembled ingredients needed to be shaken with ice and poured into chilled glasses. Man, this was turning into a (gasp) job. Wiping the beads of perspiration from my brow I went in search of a martini shaker that I knew I had somewhere.

The shaker was next to a bottle of Old Fashioned mix. I asked the missus if she’d like an Old Fashioned instead to which she readily answered “Yes!”  Preparing a couple of Old Fashioneds would be less work than Whiskey Sours. One just needed to add bourbon (or brandy, if you wanted to make it Wisconsin style) and some soda to the mix and add a couple of maraschino cherries.



I tied a white apron around my waist, added garters to my sleeves and parted my hair in the middle. I was ready to bartend.  There was just enough Jim Beam left in the bottle to add a shot to each ice-filled glass. I added the mixer and then searched for some soda. In the refrigerator I found a half bottle of Squirt. When I opened it there was no Sssss sound.  It was flat but I figured it’d be unnoticeable with all the other ingredients. There was just enough to fill the glasses. I added cherries to a toothpick and stirred those babies up.

But what about the lemons? They were the impetus behind this entire undertaking. I bisected a slice and attached it to the rim of the glass and to make it even fancier, I added a pink flamingo drink stirrer. I’m a class act (almost) all the way.

Now, when my Wisconsin friend heard of this, she was taken aback, to say the least. Despite my explanation she chastised me.

“You can’t use a lemon slice with an Old Fashioned, you need to use an orange slice.”

“Oh, you touchy Wisconsinites.” I chastised back.

“We don’t have much to be proud of. “she responded., “Alcohol is about it.”

I couldn’t argue with that. But, as it turned out the lemon slice came in handy. The mixer was so sweet that muddling the lemon helped take off the sugary edge.

Alas, after finishing the drinks I realized that I had forgotten to add bitters.  This was unforgiveable. My face flushed with shame, I unparted my hair, tore the garters from my sleeves and removed and folded my apron. I did not have the right to wear the uniform. I have less in common with Joe the Bartender and more with Crazy Guggenheim.

If you want me, I’ll be in the back.


Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was My Ballad Of John & Yoko

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