The Wine Raconteur Jr. turned forty and it makes me think of a meme on saw recently that said “We aren’t getting older, just our kids are.” That statement is so true, I mean, I first met him when I was putting up flyers for a part-time employee at the nearby college and we met, interviewed and he was finally hired by the company. Through all the ensuing years, I have met his Parents, Brother, Aunts and Uncles and some of his cousins. I met his inamorata, that eventually became his Bride and we danced at his wedding. I have even watched his children grow. No where in all of these milestones did I even comprehend that he would turn forty; I mean my Bride and I have passed that marker years ago, but it gets harder to realized that the next generation is catching up to us.
Just a few months ago, his Father, Brother and he surprisingly threw a surprise birthday party for his Mother that I wrote about. His charming Bride attempted to throw him a surprise birthday party, but I am not sure how the surprise part fizzled, but it was still a very laudable endeavor. The Wine Raconteur Jr. likes dressing, along with fine foods, wines, the arts, music and travel, and even though he picked out his own nom de plume when he guest wrote his first article for me, I think the sobriquet he chose was very apt. There was even a theme to this party, and it was based on a television/cable show called “Mad Men.” Now I haven’t watched television for almost as long as he has been on this Earth, but I had the gist of the show from reading, and it was based in the 1960’s, if you are not aware of the program. The early 1960’s were known for everyone dressing professionally to go to work, the men in suits and ties, the women in dresses and pearls. These were the days of the Rat Pack, before the British Invasion and the days of cocktail parties, drinks, non-politically correct sex and sexism and smoking. The party I might add did not have sex, sexism or smoking, but the flavor of the time was prevalent. The partiers were invited to come dressed for the era, and I have to admit that I certainly did not have a problem; I think my entire wardrobe could have been culled from the show. There were several “fedora” like hats, but not really from the era, there was even an ascot around one man’s neck tucked inside of his sport shirt, and I have to admit, that one couple came with the epitome of props for the party, a 1965 Thunderbird.
As soon as one stepped in to the their house, there greeting you was the name Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce on the wall, just above one of the coolest radios from the thirties or the forties; unfortunately the mirror that was the backdrop of the cabinet reflected me taking a picture and it appears to be a television. The radio housed an elaborate bar service above the speakers and dials, and the theme was off and running. There was a photographer working the party and in the kitchen there was a bar set-up with a bartender who was creating cocktails of the time. There was also wine, but that will be another article, as I am setting the mood, as there was so much to absorb.
The Wine Raconteur Jr.’s wife left nothing to chance. She had matchbooks printed, and when was the last time you saw a matchbook, unless you have been to a casino. The coasters for one’s drinks were printed up with pithy quotes from the show, as well as frames of more quotes. There were vintage ads and vintage magazines placed strategically around the rooms, but the focal point was the food. His wife must have been cooking for a week at least, and maybe that is what gave the party away. There was appetizers and finger foods galore, every where one looked there was food. Looking at the assortment of foods, all I could think of was the great line from Frank Pentangeli “Hey, what’s with the food around here? A kid comes up to me in a white jacket, gives me a Ritz cracker, and uh, chopped liver, he says, ‘Canapés’. I said, uh, ‘can of peas, my ass, that’s a Ritz cracker and chopped liver!” As an aside, while all of the appetizers were excellent, the Rumaki may have been the finest that I have ever had, and for years that was one of the plates that circulated during the cocktail hour at the Christmas dinner with my club.
The only thing that I noticed that was amiss and it may be only, because I came from that era, was Mateus and Riunite. Actually Mateus Rosé and Harvey’s Bristol Cream were the big wines from that time period, while Riunite was more from the end of that decade, into the Seventies. Well I guess I did sneak some wine into this first article.