It is time to celebrate dad with a cocktail, history and a touch a personal story. I will show you a way then to make one of mine to enjoy the day with dad and possibly stretch the holiday into a weekend celebration. Remember that it is not just celebrating dad, but it can be celebrating your grandfather, stepfather or uncle, whatever you want to do you are welcome to on this holiday. It should just be a male person that has influenced you in a special way is what this day is all about, so lets us make the most of it!
A Look Back
I always look back before I look forward in cocktail culture. I want to know how we got here, so before we build our libations, let’s review a little history that will help us understand Father's Day better.
Father’s Day is very different than Mother’s Day in how it came about. Mother’s Day was first recognized in the 1860’s during the American civil war. It did take until 1908 for Woodrow WIlson to make Mother’s Day an official holiday. There were many tries by politicians to have a day commemorating dear old dad, but none stuck. In 1912 Senator Taylor from Maine tried and she couldn’t get the support from her colleagues to make Father’s Day official. So Father’s Day became an unofficial holiday for a long time. Dad started to get some love in the early 1900’s right around World War One.
Father’s Day gift giving started in full force in the 1920’s with the number one gift for all dads being…. Yes, you guessed it, a necktie. I am sure socks were up there and eventually an over powering cheap cologne. They were thoughtful, but perhaps a bit generic. It wasn’t until 1972 that President Nixon made it an official holiday. So let’s take a different track in our gift giving. For us, let’s go back in time and visit my family on Father’s Day with a great cocktail and a story.
A Little About Me
I always like to share a little of my own life with my great dad in these pieces, so I will share what Dr. Frederick Floyd, father of nine, loved to get for his Father’s Day gifts from all of us kids.
With nine kids all getting you a tie, soap, or stinky cologne, dad decided early on that what he wanted was something more lasting. Something we had to work for and a gift that would keep giving our whole lives through. Dad came up with this brilliant plan that all of us would memorize poetry and recite it to him after dinner.
So this was not an easy task and it required lots of work. The nine Floyd kids got an assignment of Shakespeare, Yeats, Sullivan, Frost, Whitman, you name it, we had to memorize it. Believe it or not, that was the easy part. So for about a week out, we were making cards, writing it out and walking around getting the poetry committed to memory. The final day would arrive and it would be time for us to give him his gift. It was Father’s Day and here came the very challenging part.
As I mentioned I have 9 kids in my family. A very big, fun Irish Catholic clan if you will, that loves each other and more importantly, loves to make fun of each other. There are 7 boys and 2 girls in the group, so the boys tended to lead the way. Things tended to get arduous with the sibling so you needed to have convictions and thick skin. It also sometimes called for a mean left hook (but that is another story). Although I sincerely believe we all turned out pretty well, we would never have been mistaken for the “Von Trapp” family from The Sound of Music.
Father's Day Dinner
Let’s get back to Father’s Day dinner. We have gathered around and we are finished dinner. It is go time for the poetry, it is time for the curtain to come up on the Floyd children and we are ready as ready can be. You see, it isn’t the memorization part that scares us or can throw us off track, it is our siblings that lie in wait for our turn to stand and recite. I love the old saying, “having a child makes you a parent, having two makes you a referee.” Now imagine there are nine and your dad has his back to them and they are staring at you.
As the kids go to one side of the table and some even behind dad for a better view, dad has his favorite cocktail in hand. This is a great twist on a Moscow Mule where it is built with a really fun fresh ginger and a good dose of Vodka and lime. It is the first cocktail he taught me to make and the one I first got to taste. Couldn’t understand the disgusting flavor back then, but appreciate it to the core now
Dad is ready for his gift and he is excited for the family to share in the moment. For the rest of us, this really spells trouble. It means that not only are we going to have to recite our poems, but that our brothers are going to be trying to make us mess up. They will be rolling their eyes, making faces (if they can get away with it) and they will be trying to make you crack under the pressure. I am no saint, it was a vicious game and there were times we almost folded under the pressure, but there was such a great feeling when you nailed the poem, dad was beaming, and your stinking brothers couldn’t make you mess up.
The memories of my father live with me every single day. I talk to him constantly and in quiet times I ask him questions and listen for his advice. You see, my dad passed when I was young, very suddenly, and I miss him. Father’s Day is a big moment for me, for our whole family really. It is a day to celebrate with his memory, a great poem and a fantastic drink. Now as I have my own family, i make sure they know what dad likes to drink and how much I enjoy when they do memorize something for me. To stand up and recited it at our dinner table, and I feel a bond that touches my own history and it influencing my kids future. Although there are no faces to be made at the ones reciting.
It is a special moment as well because when my brothers and sisters do get together, we usually have several toasts in his honor. I did mention the Irish thing right? Well one cheers leads to another and the next thing you know, we start reciting the poetry we used to memorize for him on this day. We all launch into “The Ride of the Light Brigade,” or Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” I will break out a cocktail and if we are all together, maybe a few Mule’s fly out, as long as I make them. The other’s are brilliant doctors and lawyers etc, but can’t make a drink to save their lives. I know by executing a great libation, I am carrying on Father’s Day in a way he would laugh and smile about.
Father’s Day is a celebration of our their influence in our lives. I know my dad wanted not just a gift that would be perhaps forgotten someday, but something that would live on with us. So as we celebrate dad, let’s cheers to each other and create a moment in a glass that will make dad smile. The poetry part is optional.