It’s Father’s Day, and too many unfunny cards and far too many insincere and hideous gifts will be doled out today. For some reason, our society has deemed it perfectly acceptable to make Father’s Day somehow less important than Mother’s Day. Sure, it’s another commercially-driven holiday sponsored by Hallmark, but if you’re a parent, these holidays probably mean something to you, especially when your children remember to give you a little token of appreciation.
If you were lucky enough to have even halfway decent parents, they deserve better from you. All the hell you raised as a teenager, all their money you wasted on electric guitar lessons because you were going be the next Eddie Van Halen, that expensive semester abroad they funded because you pleaded how you had to “broaden your world view and learn French for your future as an international financier”. Well, where is that Fender Strat now? And did you really learn how to speak French? No. No, you did not. You learned how to French kiss — which is useful, but not what your parents had hoped for. So, can your years of selfishness be magically erased with a cocktail? No, they cannot. But it’s a start.
Now, over the years, you may have already observed what your father’s favorite bevvie of choice is, but we’re not going there. THAT isn’t special. You are going to show Dad how much you love him by creating a unique cocktail specifically with him in mind. You will even name it after him.
“But how do I do this?” you squeak. “Do I make him a gin and tonic and call it a “Stan’s Special”? NO, you non-creative big baby. This is what you do: Talk to your father. You heard me right. Talk to the man. Ask him what his favorite drink is (if you don’t already know). Is he a vodka guy, a wine lover, a tequila fan? Find out what he likes and go from there. “Hey Dad, what’s your favorite time of year?” “What’s your favorite food?” “What’s the best trip you ever took and why?”
Once your father gets over the shock of having you actually ask him about himself, listen to his responses. He may tell you that his favorite trip was the one you both took to Newfoundland to see his cousins.
How having you with him helped him to forget the problems he and your mom were going through at the time (that you never knew about). He might tell you that he loves summer because it reminds him of his childhood in Cincinnati when his uncle would take him to Aglamesis for peach ice cream, his favorite dessert.
Oh, and nothing makes him happier than Chinese food, because in college, his first love was “Anja,” an exchange student from Helsinki whom he used to neck with at Chin Tiki, and oh, by the way, they won a first place together in an art competition. (Yes, your dad knows how to paint more than houses.)
Now, take all this information and start creating a cocktail with these elements. Find a Finnish-made vodka (representing Anja) and add some peach flavor to it (representing his summer memories in Cincinnati). You can experiment with peach schnapps, juice and/or crushed fresh peaches for the best flavor. Sprinkle in some Chinese Five Spice (a popular seasoning used in the food he was eating while making out with Anja at Chin Tiki). Pour this over crushed ice and shake it like you mean it. (I tried to incorporate the Newfoundland angle into this cocktail, but the only thing I could come up with is Newfoundland Screech, and do you really want to drink THIS? Strain your creation into a beautifully-crafted glass that only an artist would appreciate.
When you present this cocktail to your father, make sure you announce its name and how you came up with it. You created something special for him because you listened to what he said and took it to heart. Hand him the drink with the recipe, and a nice framed photo of the two of you from your long-ago trip to Newfoundland. Watch Dad get all misty. And while he’s enjoying his custom cocktail, sit down with your father and ask him some more questions. And listen.
Kari Hendler is a television script supervisor, photographer and regular contributor to Tiki Magazine the coolest magazine in the world. If her dad were still alive, she’d make him a Sangria using Big Sur red wine, fresh pears and pumpkin pie spice… and she’d serve it to him on a hike in the Santa Monica mountains, an area he helped turn into a national park. Kari thinks she’s going to do this for him anyway.