Bourbon & Branch

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is reminded about two bourbon related items in his memory due to a comment by John S attached to the recent (lengthy) post called “The Quest for Ham.” John S. relates that bourbon is a good liquid accompaniment to a meal including country ham. Your Maximum Leader quite agrees. Indeed, bourbon is a great accompaniment to many meals.

But this talk of bourbon caused your Maximum Leader to remember two bourbon related items (as he was saying). Here is the first…

Your Maximum Leader grew up in Alexandria, VA. (Well, technically Fairfax County, VA - but the mailing address was Alexandria.) And while that is Virginia, he later learned that Northern Virginia was viewed by those residing in areas south of Fairfax County believed there was more “North” in that region than “Virginia.” In some respects that is true, but in a great many it is not. Well. Upon moving to a more southern part of the Commonwealth to attend college and work he learned a great many things. One of these things was what the hell “bourbon and branch water” was.

While at college your Maximum Leader had the occasion to meet a great many interesting folks who could have been characters out of a Faulkner novel. (This was made ironically funny by the fact that some of these characters had met/studied under/gotten drunk with Faulkner hissownself while the latter was teaching at UVA.) One time while at the home of one of these characters with a few other characters it came time to make drinks. (Indeed, time to make drinks was generally right after exchanging greetings and before sitting down on the porch.) One genteel older lady asked for a “bourbon and branch water.” Your Maximum Leader was probably 18 at the time at this was the first time he’d ever heard someone ask for bourbon and branch water. As the evening went on, and the drinks continued to flow (your Maximum Leader was drinking cheap Scotch with lots of ice and water) he finally got up the courage to ask what exactly was this “branch water” that people would mix with their bourbon? Well… Let us just say that these good people knew when was the appropriate time to pull wool over a young babe’s eyes. And that was the time. Your Maximum Leader was then subjected to a 35 minute dissertation by two older gentlemen about what actually constituted “branch water.” One declaimed that the only true branch water was that collected from the dripping dew off hardwood trees in the spring and fall when the dew points were sufficiently low. The other declaimed that in fact branch water could be the dew collected off of any species of tree or large bush. Given the passion (and length of discourse) between these two men about what was branch water, your Maximum Leader went on for about a week believing that in fact branch water was collected from dew off trees and bushes.

Okay… Your Maximum Leader was a bit drunk at the time and in retrospect should have inquired further about the actual means of production to get details… Alas, questions concerning the collection, bottling and distribution of branch water didn’t occur to a drunken Maximum Leader. Your Maximum Leader was accidentially disabused of this deception when another old southern gentleman explained that he had a lovely little “branch” flowing from a spring on his property. When pressed to explain the etymology of “branch” in this context your Maximum Leader learned that “branch water” is in fact water from a small clear stream (often fed by a spring).

There is story number one. Story number two…

Well not so much a story as a comment. A number of years ago a good friend sent to your Maximum Leader an e-mail containing the transcript of a letter written to West Point Commandant General William Connor from Col. Simon B. Buckner, Jr. containing the Buckner family recipe for a mint julep. If you’ve not read this you probably ought to. Here is a link to the whole affair - including the set-up. If you are interested in the most famous part of the exchange (Buckner’s letter to Connor) that link is right here.

Your Maximum Leader’s friend added some acid commentary to the over-flowery nature of Buckner’s letter to Connor and how no matter how you dress it up the drink is just sugar water, bourbon, ice and mint. Many years ago your Maximum Leader agreed with the assessment of Buckner’s description being over the top. But now, years later, it doesn’t seem so over-done at all. Indeed, like the hams your Maximum Leader wrote so fondly of just a few days ago; sometimes doing something the old fashioned way is pretty damned good. Your Maximum Leader thinks that he’ll seek out a branch flowing from a clean cool spring and make himself some juleps to go with his ham on Easter…

Carry on.

Update from your Maxmium Leader: Greetings, readers of that well known public intellectual R.S. McCain. Thanks for visiting. Your Maximum Leader hopes you stick around and check out other posts. Of course, if you are looking for bourbon and boobs he is happy to acquiesce to your requests. Bourbon post is above (as you surely know) and the boobs come to you from the co-star of “My Name is Bruce” Grace Thorsen.
Grace Thorsen

Carry on.


You drank underage?

I’m shocked, shocked, to learn that I have been associating with a criminal.

Hello pot. This is kettle…

Polymath said:

There is a nice, clear spring on our property. Let me know - I can send a bottle.

I may take you up on that one time I come down. If you keep making these offers I’m going to have to move down there…

Mrs. Peperium said:

Maxy, all you left out was was your idea (an excellent one) of a few years ago that bourbon is the patriotic drink since it’s made from corn and especially when you mix it with Coca-cola.

It was that post that cemented our blog friendship because you were the only other guy next to Mr. P I had ever met who mixed bourbon with Coca-cola.

When I first was with my bourbon drinker for life, Mr. P, I made us mint juleps. I liked them. But do you know what I liked even better?

Bourbon and lemonade - good homemade lemonade.

And even better than that,

Bourbon and ginger ale. Real ginger ale.

Mr. P likes bourbon with his ham.

OMG! Have you ever had Northern Neck Ginger Ale? I seriously doubt it because I practically live in the Northern Neck and I can hardly find it anyway. Out in Montross VA there is a Coke Bottling plant. In addition to chugging out Coke they also make Northern Neck Ginger Ale. It is marketed as the only ginger ale in a can made from real ginger. A bourbon and ginger is great. It is especially good when made with Northern Neck Ginger Ale.

Bourbon and lemonade is good on a hot summer day. Frankly, so is bourbon and ginger. I think bourbon and coke is an anytime drink.

I do think that bourbon is a patriotic liquor. We completely agree on that point.

Also, I started this post like a 13 year old girl writing a text message… Jeez.

Mrs. Peperium said:

No. I’ve never had Northern Neck ginger ale but I like the name.

I like Schweppes. And Canada Dry for just regular ginger ale.

Then for the fancy varieties, I like Reed’s and Blenheim. Both are very good and super gingery -with bits of ginger mixed in them. They come in different strengths. They were the best for morning sickness.

I think we need to go out drinking again, boyo.

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