This is a post about friendship, a subject that tends to worm its way into your cranium quite a bit when a) it's January and b) you're spending your first of several years abroad, hundreds of miles from the people you like best and also from a TV that carries American college basketball.
Our friends Michelle and Dan, back in New York, are pretty awesomesauce peeps. I knew Michelle vaguely but fondly from the first time I lived in the city, before moving to the Midwest for several years. From the very minute I moved back to Gotham, thanks to forces I'll never quite understand but will forever appreciate, the friendship was just there, fully realized and present. We both met our respective fiances within a year, doubling the number of very cool people we got to hang out with whenever we hung out together.
Of course, Michelle and Dan are big cocktail fans. (Srsly, why else would Sean and I ever hang out with anyone?) They're not quite as fanatical as we are, I'd say, because in their hearts they save some room for beer, and also their whiskey allegiance veers towards the waters of northern Europe (IRL, UK, etc.) rather than the Nation of Kentucky. But a couple summers ago when Sean and I wanted to drive upstate to the Tuthilltown Distillery's Facebook Fan Appreciation Day (yes, that was a real thing -- shut up, Sean won a bourbon barrel!), we knew exactly who we wanted to come along with us.
If you were to ask me today for my favorite Michelle-and-Dan story, the one I'd tell was one I wasn't even around to witness firsthand. In fact, it happened while the two of them were vacationing on the Emerald Isle. The way I remember Michelle telling it, they were sitting in one of several pubs or B&B lounges that they stopped into on their trip, it was just the two of them, they were being quiet and sort of reading different things independently, and then Huey Lewis and the News' "Power of Love" came on the sound system. Without a word, they instantly high-fived.
Michelle and Dan are getting married in August. Sean and I are very touched that they asked us to create a cocktail for the occasion. Now, as I know from experience, there are several things you've got to consider when developing a wedding cocktail: What liquor brands does your reception site carry, and which are they willing to pour many times over? What's the glassware situation like; do they have 150 cocktail glasses, or better to stick with highballs? How much hooch can your guests handle? (This is the tricky part, coming up with something that will please the hardcore cocktailers and the I-never-touch-the-hard-stuff relatives au meme temps.)
Michelle and Dan, you can consider this cocktail a first draft if you like. In it, we used the Tyrconnell whiskey you brought back to the States for us. We also used Aperol and homemade cherry brandy, which, erm, probably takes this drink out of the running...? (Then again, neither's expensive, so maybe you and us and the cool place in Brooklyn where you're having your reception whose name I can't remember at the moment can work something out.) Besides my neverending love of wordplay, I wanted to name it Tyr Na Nog because, well, because something cheesy about marriage being like a mythical island where your fairy spirits will forever protect one another. (That was a first draft of a bad wedding toast.)
Or we can come up with something else and call it Awesomesauce.
The Tyr Na Nog
1 ounce The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey
1 ounce cherry brandy
1/2 ounce Aperol
About 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass.
I believe that, for this recipe, you could either buy a cheap-o cherry brandy like Hiram Walker's, or you could buy an almost-as-cheapo brandy-brandy and then cherrify it yourself. When we make cherry brandy at home, what we actually do is use this recipe to make brandied cherries, and then the leftover brandy we cook those in, we consider that to be our cherry brandy. It's served us well.