What it is

Late-breaking telexes from the craft spirit front by Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails, columnist for Imbibe, and designated drinker for The Atlantic magazine.

  • And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    by Wayne Curtis

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A drink with The Boss

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Here’s a quandary: what drink should you make when Bruce Springsteen drops by?

I was faced with that dilemma last Sunday when a small group of us — my wife, my stepson and his girlfriend, and my Alaskan niece and her husband — all ventured to Jazzfest. We, along with 100,000 of our dearest friends, immediately headed to the huge Acura stage to wait four hot, sunny hours for the Springsteen show. (Bonus: we got to hear sets by Trombone Shorty and Dr. John while waiting.) Somehow we managed to worm our way up to the front of the general admission area and set up base camp. That is, if by “base camp” you mean a square of approximately seven-and-a-half inches of lawn.

Once this was secured, I set out on a foray in search of a nice cocktail. This is no small feat at Jazzfest. The choice is mostly lite beer (although some hidden vendors sell Foster’s), overpriced wine, and slushy, sweet daiquiris served from machines the size of commercial clothes washers.

So instead I angled for the stand selling Mango Freeze — which, if you’ve never been to Jazzfest, is an amazingly refreshing sort of mango sherbet. I got two styro bowls, mashed them upside down atop one another for insulation, then put my head down and began the long and wearying trek back to base camp. (Process: place your hand lightly on back or shoulder of person in front of you, repeat “’scuze me,” “just stepping through,” “sorry to bother,” about 12,000 times until you find your people.)   

Now, bringing liquor into Jazzfest is illegal and frowned upon by the authorities. Unsmiling people search your bags as you enter to prevent this. And I can’t encourage or condone stupid and juvenile efforts to sneak in liquor. But, somehow, back at base camp, through inexplicable and possibly miraculous circumstances, I found myself in possession of two flasks of Banks Five Island Rum. Also — and these must have been left in my daypack from a previous event — I found a battery-powered swizzle stick, a large plastic mixing cup, and a small bottle of Bitter Truth Orange Bitters.

I know. What are the odds?

Anyway, big scoops of mango freeze and a gurgling freehand pour of rum went into the mixing cup, along with a bit of water to loosen it all up. Then came the hum of a battery powered mixer, followed by a fragrant rummy and mangoish aroma. Banks Rum and mango are perfectly cordial mates, but a bit simple in their outlook. So in went some generous dashes of complicating bitters. Then, strangely, I found six paper cups in my pack. I poured all around, and we all toasted The Boss.(Side note: a benefit of becoming dehydrated in the parching sun is that you don’t ever have to pee.)

Then: Bruce came on stage, accompanied by a flood of powerful high school memories. My mango cocktail fortunately helped me manage and direct these to a good place. And about halfway through his two-plus hour show Bruce waded into the crowd and ended up on a small stage about eight feet to our left. He ascended and sang “Waiting for a Sunny Day.”  Then he stepped out on the railing about a foot from the stage.

What happened next is a matter of some conjecture among our party. Some believe he spontaneously chose to crowd-surf, or possibly he lost his balance and decided just to go with it. However, others of us are pretty certain he spotted a delicious mango and rum drink being served below, and thought to himself, “That looks pretty damn good! I wouldn’t mind one of those myself.”

OK, now… how’s this for all the fucking bad planning in the world?

I totally forgot to pack a seventh cup.  

So Bruce left, aided by a very nervous looking security guy who grabbed him by the ankle and reeled him back in. Adding insult to injury, a few minutes later a fan handed him a can of Miller Lite. He took a sip, and poured the rest down his back.

Sunny Day
1 big glob of Mango Freeze
1 pretty hefty pour of rum
5 or 6 or 11 dashes of bitters or whatever

Flash blend with battery powered cocktail stirrer. Serve in paper cups. Garnish with stray grass clippings and that gritty debris that collects in the bottom of your daypack. Save a little for The Boss. Don’t forget the seventh cup.

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Reader Comments (2)

You ask, "What are the odds?" I say, the odds are pretty damn good that when you are Springsteen concert miracles will happen. Miracles like six people fitting onto a seven inch area of grass. Miracles like the crazy screaming chick next to you running out of coke and finally falling silent. Miracles like two Alaskans surviving eight hours in the New Orleans sun and living to tell the tale. And best of all, miracles like your favorite uncle having all of the fixin's for a cold, sweet cocktail to lure The Boss, catch him off balance and force his crotch onto your pretty little head rendering you senseless for days!

ah, you're so lucky to have been crowd surfed upon by The Boss! That is so boss.

Check out our Jazz Fest experience over at our blog:


May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThat Girl

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