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When I tended bar at The Royale Food & Spirits in St. Louis, floating in the ether inside that hallowed drinking hall was something called the Birthday Cake Shot. By “floating in the ether,” I mean it was a concoction that wasn’t in our top-secret, behind-the-bar recipe binder or on our official menu — but it was on patrons’ minds all the same, and many of them knew to ask for one on their (or their friends’) birthdays. Hence, we tenders had to have the shot committed to memory.
Except I never quite did. Instead, I often and repeatedly annoyed my fellow bar employees by asking them to remind me what was in it. I resented the Birthday Cake Shot because I was there to make grown-up cocktails, goddamnit. The Birthday Cake Shot wasn’t even a concoction so much as a contraption, because it was one of those where you had to do it by sucking on a slice of lemon at the finish, and maybe lick some sugar beforehand… again, I can’t remember whatever particular gymnastics were involved. Also, there was Frangelico, and somehow the lemon and Frangelico wound up tasting like yellow cake mix when combined on the tongue. Anyway, you get the point — it was one of those shots wherein its puerile overcomplications were taken as clever by the completely blotto.
So when it came time for me to include a Birthday Cake Martini in The Big Book of Martinis for Moms (because, hey, of course a book called The Big Book of Martinis for Moms has to have a birthday-cake martini; I may be a cocktail snob, but I’m not an idiot), I decided that we were gonna do it a little more grown-up-like. Because hey, like it or not, growing up is in fact what a birthday is about.
Guest post by Mark Holcomb, the Blogtender’s cousin-in-law/former professional bartender/lead singer of The Sharpe James
I was raised by hippies… they were probably considered ex-hippies by the time the ’80s rolled around, but they were hippies nonetheless. My mother (who is a saint of a woman!) is the type of lady the who used to tote me around as an infant in one of those baby backpack-papoose contraptions, and who shed a tear or two when Jerry Garcia died. As for my father, well, he looks like Willie Nelson. Love him as I do there is no denying his hippydom. Unless you’re him, that is; he vehemently refutes this label for the sole reason that “hippies are too peaceful.” However, he is the same bass-playing, ponytail-rocking, bandana-wearing, beard-having, hitch-hiking Okie who once thought a good name for his firstborn son (that’s me) would be Thud Blues Holcomb. I only thank the sweet Lord Jesus that my momma had enough sense to name me after my grandfathers instead.
As you might imagine, having been brought up in this type of environment, my brothers and I were, to put it nicely, free-spirited individualists at a very early age. To paint a clearer picture of what that means exactly, I will say without a doubt that the term “driving me to drink” was coined for rugrats such as ourselves. While our wild behavior may have spawned many great discoveries, by far the grandest of them all is when my dear ol’ dad stumbled across what in my mind is a testament to the spirit of American ingenuity, and parental decorum.