I thought I’d share a little holiday/Christmas story. Maybe it’s not so little, but there is a treat for you at the end. I won’t be insulted if you skip to the end. But what kind of person does that make you? Probably like me.
This story is really about the world-famous (??) Flintlock, a cocktail that owes its’ beginnings to the Colonial Inn in Concord, MA. It may be worth noting a little history of this holiday cocktail… a very few of our close friends received a sample this year. Wish them luck.
Our family grew up in Massachusetts, in the Lexington/Concord area. In an area with a rich history dating from April 19, 1775 as the beginning of the American Revolutionary War and “the shot heard round the world”, the eventual outcome was nothing less than the creation of the United States of America.
For reference, a flintlock is a rifle or hand gun that was used in the revolutionary period, which used a flint to ignite the gun powder charge. Hell, growing up, we had a flintlock mounted over our fireplace!
The house we grew up in in Lexington was built by my parents. Since it was just after World War 2, it was hard (and expensive) to acquire lumber, so my father built the house out of cement and cinder block. It was as close to a bomb shelter as you could imagine. Within this past year, I stopped by our old house and introduced myself to the “new” owners. The current owner was quick to confirm the house construction when he told me how daunting a task it was to remove a wall to make a more open concept. The property abuts what is now the Minuteman National Park.
Anyone who has grown up in or visited the Boston area knows Route 128 – our house was built before 128 existed. As our house overlooked what would become 128, as a young child I remember looking out my bedroom window seeing the construction trucks going by as the road was being built.
Many years later, Karen and I had the chance to buy my childhood home back (from complete strangers), and we did! The only thing my friends wanted to know was, what was it like for me to have sex in my parents’ bedroom? I told them the truth: it was great! Actually, the house was great and we still enjoy memories from having lived there and raising our young family prior to moving to the Atlanta area.
Back in time, while living in Lexington, our parents Murray and Barbara owned a business in the center of Concord on Main Street called The Paint Pot. It was primarily a paint and wallpaper shop and existed there for years – most people in or around Concord knew of or shopped at The Paint Pot. Today, you walk into a paint store and a computer generates your desired paint color. In the days of the Paint Pot, every can of paint was hand-mixed.
My father was a loyal and regular attendee of the local Rotary Club – a group of business owners who would meet monthly at the Colonial Inn in Concord – an historic and classic place out of time. Keep in mind – the Colonial Inn is over 300 years old, and during the Revolutionary War it was used in part to house munitions and supplies (photos below courtesy Colonial Inn website). The inn is steeped in history and should be a destination any time you are in the Boston area. Classic.
One Rotary meeting many years ago, my father, whose business was about a one-minute walk to the Colonial Inn in Monument Square, bellied up to the bar prior to the meeting. The bartender offered him a Flintlock – a local cocktail that commemorated the Revolutionary War.
My father, enamored with the drink, enticed the recipe from the bartender (there may have been obscene tips involved – your guess is as good as mine). Murray comes home from Rotary, convinces my mother that this cocktail would be a great family holiday tradition, and voila – a star is born!
Since then, and I mean since the late ‘60’s or early ‘70’s, this cocktail, served over ice and consumed respectfully (well, not always), has been a family pre-dinner tradition every year during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
While never a slave to fashion, for the holidays my father would don some colorful sport coat or sweater. From year to year, they might be red, green – one year it was blue velour.
He would mix up a batch of Flintlocks in a fancy cork-stopped pitcher (which I am sure my mother bought at a yard sale), pour the drinks (over ice), serve to his guests, and then proceed to voice his favorite toast – some French saying, in French, that no one understood – including him. He didn’t speak a word of French until you put a pitcher of Flintlocks in his hand.
Since that time, with Flintlocks at the ready, our guests have felt inspired to share their inner feelings and particular world view. Some things you can’t unsee, but in general this has been a wonderful thing.
It is not uncommon for the first words, after sipping a Flintlock, to be, “Oh my God, what is this?” Don’t worry – those thoughts do not survive your second or third sip. You have now joined the Flintlock club. It won’t be long after that that your next comment is, “Why yes, thanks – I will have another!”
My father held on to this recipe for years like it was a state secret. If you were so fortunate to have received the recipe from him, it was a badge of honor, and you treated it with the respect it deserved.
Both my parents are long gone, but I think they would both be pleased in me sharing this recipe with you – my friends (if you read this blog I consider you a friend). So, with no further delay, here goes! If you mix up a batch for yourself, don’t worry about throwing it in a snow bank to keep it chilled – this bad boy ain’t freezing, if you catch my drift (no pun).
26 oz Bourbon
8 oz Laird’s Applejack
2 oz white Creme de Cacao
2 lemons (juice)
6 oz Grenadine (for color)
Not to be served to minors, Redcoats or hostile Indians.
The Flintlock has been an enduring and entertaining tradition for the Roberts family for decades. Please enjoy it in moderation – and in the spirit with which it was conceived!
Whatever you celebrate, Happy Holidays to you and your family – from ours!