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Easter Drinks: The White Russian

White Russian

The Easter Season is a time of great joy and celebration, and, of course, the return of our Easter Drinks series. I begin this Easter season with one of my favorite dessert drinks, the White Russian.

The White Russian, as you might guess by the use of vodka, is a modern drink, born and raised in the late 20th century. But don’t let that deter you – it’s an excellent after dinner cocktail and one of the few decent drinks made with vodka.

Most modern cocktails find their roots in the classics, and this is no exception. The White Russian is predated by the Alexander, a drink made with 1/3 brandy or gin, 1/3 white crème de cacao (a chocolate liqueur), and 1/3 cream. Replace the brandy or gin with vodka (hence “Russian”) and swap the chocolate liqueur for coffee liqueur – and there you have it, a White Russian, sometimes referred to simply as a Russian. Subtract the cream and you have a Black Russian.

A properly prepared White Russian should layer the cream on top of the spirits. Cream is one of the easier ingredients in any layered cocktail because it naturally floats above higher proof liquors. The trick is to slowly pour the cream over a spoon after you’ve poured in the vodka and coffee liquor. Then give it a single slow stir before serving. Careful preparation of a layered cocktail lends much to the aesthetics of the drink.

Happy Easter!

Is there objective reverence in the Mass?

In a recent interview, Cardinal Raymond Burke noted that “confusion” appears to be spreading among the faithful on many of the Church’s most controversial issues.  We are occasionally exposed to arguments from faithful Catholics who rationalize or attempt to mitigate the objective impiety of those from the Dark Ages of the Church.  From time to time we will repeat and respond to these arguments on this forum to help avoid further confusion.

The question has arisen as to whether objective piety and reverence exist in worship.  Those making the argument that no objective reverence exists state that each individual expresses reverence in a different fashion, and that what might be reverent for one individual might not be reverent for another.  For example, while a Traditionalist might find kneeling to be the most reverent manner of worship, someone born in the 1950s might consider standing to be the most reverent manner of worship.

The Church has never accepted this line of reasoning and has consistently affirmed the opposite.  While reverence might be expressed in slightly different fashions in different cultures, an objective sense of reverence is still manifested in the mores of each culture and is not a mere product of individual preference.  This reasoning has lead Cardinal Arinze to repeatedly state, for example, that while liturgical dance may be acceptable in some circumstances in African and Asian cultures, it is never acceptable in European or American cultures and that “the people discussing liturgical dance should spend that time praying the rosary.”

At its core, Mass is a community event where we come together for adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and to petition the Lord for our needs.  Not everything is irreducible to individualism.  The Mass serves a higher purpose than the individual fulfillment that is the aim of “folk Masses” and the like.  The Church’s recognition that different cultures have different ways of expressing adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and petitions is an acknowledgement of the human condition as it has come to be over a period of thousands of years.

In contrast, when an individual or parish seeks to “remake” cultural norms through folk worship, typically what is changed is how much reverence is owed to God and not whether an action is objectively more or less reverent.  Consider, for example, the practice of parishes that stand during the consecration.  The argument for standing during the consecration runs something like this:

American culture is different from the antiquated Western culture that gave rise to the practice of kneeling during consecration.  Whereas Catholics of old would kneel in the presence of royalty, and therefore kneel before the real presence of our Lord, Americans stand in the presence of political royalty, such as the President, and therefore should stand in the presence of our Lord.

It is easy to see how this logic is flawed.  Americans do not kneel before the President because the President is a public servant and not a king.  Instead, Americans stand to show respect for the Office of the President, which is charged with leading the country.   Kneeling is still objectively more reverent than standing, but in American culture standing when the President enters the room conveys both a sense of equality and respect.  The analogy is improper insofar as it is applied to worship of God because we should not presume a sense of equality with God.

So too the many deviations from Western liturgical norms can often, if not always, be reduced down to a confusion over the amount of reverence owed to God, not to whether something is or is not objectively reverent for each individual.

Blog Updates: Twitter and List of Reviewed Whiskies

Eniac

We are pleased to announce two new updates to the blog format.  First, on the left sidebar we have fixed the twitter function so that readers may see our recent tweets, follow us, and tweet at us from one location. Second, Andrew has painstakingly indexed all of the whiskies we have reviewed since the creation of Whiskey Catholic into a “Whiskey Reviews” page, found near the top right of the screen.

Our readers will be happy to know that in the course of indexing our past reviews we found quite a backlog of reviews ready for publication, which we will release after Lent is over.  We will only produce one review during Lent — an Irish whiskey on St. Patrick’s Day.

Whiskey Talk: Taylor Marshall

Editor’s Note: We are happy to welcome back Dr. Taylor Marshall, from the New St. Thomas Institute.  Dr. Marshall was first interviewed on this blog in 2013, when we were first starting out.  His quote that “whisky is the extraordinary form of alcohol” has become something of a motto for us.

What is the place of the Catholic Gentleman in the modern parish setting?  What are some practicalDr. Taylor Marshall.  Source: fishermore.edu ways in which he can help lead others to more reverent worship?

I think we can have more reverent worship if we first begin with true friendliness at the local parish. The parish has become a check-in/check-out destination and nobody knows one another. Consequently, the liturgy of the Mass becomes the “social meeting,” and that’s just not right. If we could build real friendships and bonds with our fellow Catholics then the Mass will become oriented toward God and less about saying “hello” to my neighbors during the passing of the peace.

Regarding liturgy itself, the priest’s reverence is the single most important factor in guiding the reverence of the people. “Like people, like priest.” Hosea 4:9

How does the Catholic Gentleman engage the peripheries of society, whether that be those closed off to the Faith, those in need of corporal works of mercy, or those who are simply in need of social fraternity?

The Catholic man simply lives the faith, but with a profound smile and joy. The modality of truth is important. That is, the way you deliver it matters to people. A smile itself will disarm a hater.

Could you talk briefly about the Catholic Gentleman as the Good Shepherd of the Family?

The father is a shepherd. He is a guide. He should be able to guide his children in religion, prayer, finances, work, marriage, and skills. The father should be a treasury of prudence from which the children make withdrawals.

Several men have recently written to us about starting fraternal organizations based on gentlemanly behavior, lively discussions on Faith, and the proper enjoyment of whisky.  How important are fraternal organizations to developing communities of men who actively embrace their vocations as husbands, fathers, and shepherds of families?  Could you recommend a few books that might prove worthy of study and discussion at such groups?

We launched the fraternal organization of the Troops of Saint George for priests, deacons, fathers, and sons. We seek to grow in the seven virtues in the context of outdoor adventure and survival. This provides a way for Catholic men (even Catholic priests) to talk around the campfire, away from the noise of the world. We made the hard decision not to allow alcohol on campouts and outings, simply because there are young men around and it would be too messy. Still, the men and officers of my local troop did recently get together for a scotch tasting (without our young sons). Catholic fraternity is something that we need. And a glass of wine or scotch doesn’t hurt if handled virtuously and in moderation.

Since we last spoke, you launched the New Saint Thomas Institute to provide online video theology and philosophy classes.  Could you please give us a summary of the program, including how our readers might become involved?

Over the years, I heard from so many Catholics that wanted to get deep and study Catholic philosophy, theology, and apologetics. They wanted to take classes with me but we were limited by time and space. So we launched the New Saint Thomas Institute providing online, short, fun, and profound classes online via mp3 and HD video. We’ve grown as big as 1,600 student Members in 25 nations. It’s hugely successful and popular.

We offer three certificates in Philosophy, Theology, and Apologetics. There is currently a waiting list to join, but you can learn more and watch a sample lesson at newsaintthomas.com.

What is the place of St. Thomas in modern Catholic thought?  What are some ways the Catholic Gentleman could learn more about the Angelic Doctor?

The Latin motto of our New Saint Thomas Institute is “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of an ox” from 1 Cor 9:9. We use it to refer to Thomas Aquinas who is known as the “Dumb Ox.” We want Thomas Aquinas to speak to our time and our culture. I believe that this century will be a Thomistic century in the Catholic Church. His philosophy and theology is the answer to the doubts and questions of our time. I wrote a small book called Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages and I’d like to offer that to all your readers for free. It’s an easy and short introduction into the mind of this amazing intellectual saint. You can get the book for free here: taylormarshal.com

Last one!  What are you drinking these days?  Do you have any new recommendations for our readers?

I’m drinking a lot less these days and I usually stick to scotch and gin.  My dad’s favorite Scotch is Oban 15 (Highlands single malt) and I really like it more and more. Plus it reminds me of him and therefore has a certain nostalgia to it. Certain scotches remind me of certain friends. For example, I can’t drink Lagavulin without thinking of a priest friend of mine because he introduced it to me.

I used to chase after the fancy 21 year single malts (because it felt cool), but honestly I keep coming back to the 15 year range, particularly the Speyside and Highlands distilleries. I really like Dalwinnie (Speyside single malt) which is a 15 year.  I’ve taken to Scotch and soda instead of wine if I’m out with my wife and I’ll usually ask for Chivas blended in that case.

I used to laugh at “scotch cocktails” but I recently discovered the Ginger Dram and it’s fantastic. Bars don’t know how to make it so I have it saved in Evernote on my phone. I literally hand my phone to the waiter and he takes it to the bar and has the bartender make it. Here’s the recipe on my phone for the Ginger Dram:

Ginger Dram

1 3/4 oz. single-malt scotch whisky (Laphroaig 10-year recommended)

1 oz. Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur or ginger brandy or ginger vodka)

2 barspoons Fernet Branca (bitters)

2 dashes Angostura bittersIce cubes

Tools: barspoon, mixing glass, strainer

Glass: Nick & Nora

Garnish: lemon twist

When it comes to gin, it’s either Gin and Tonic or a Gibson (a gin martini with an onion instead of an olive).  Which gin do you like?  I’ve tried fancy gins and I always come back to Tanqueray because it so obviously tastes like juniper.

Our favorite is Plymouth Gin, distilled at a former Dominican monastery in Plymouth, England. The gin is both strong and smooth, but maintains the distinctive juniper flavor.  We would highly recommend it for use in a martini.

Thanks for having me on. It’s always fun to talk about these kind of topics!

The Catholic Gentleman: Fortitude

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In his treatise on fortitude and temperance in the Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas says, “it belongs to the virtue of fortitude to guard the will against being withdrawn from the good of reason through fear of bodily evil.”  S.T. IIa IIae, Q. 123, a. 3.  Certainly, there is no greater evil the body can undergo than its separation from the soul, and so the virtue of fortitude comes to bear more perfectly in danger of death.

As a virtue, fortitude must tend towards a good, and it is for the accomplishment of that good that a man would resist the urge to flee in the face of death.  For this reason, the perfection of fortitude comes not in meeting death from disease, old age, natural disaster, or even deliberate physical violence, for such deaths do not necessarily come in the pursuit of some good.  Rather, “fortitude is properly about dangers of death occurring in battle.”  S.T. IIa IIae, Q. 123, a. 5.  When Aquinas speaks of “battle” he means more than armed conflict between armies, although the soldier who faces death in a just fight is an exemplar of fortitude.  Battle could also mean “private combat” in which one exercises fortitude by doing the good at the risk of his own life.

The history of the Church is replete with heroic men and women who put their very lives on the line in the service of truth and Seeschlacht_von_Lepanto_von_Pieter_Brünnichejustice.  We recall the fortitude of an old soldier like Jean Parisot de Valette, Grand Master of the Order of St. John Hospitallers, who witnessed the surrender of Rhodes to the Ottoman Turks as a young knight, but resolved to defend the order’s new home on Malta to the last man when the justice of Allah threatened again.

And defend it he did, saving that linchpin of the Mediterranean from Ottoman control and setting the stage for the exploits of Don John of Austria, illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who was named Supreme Commander of the Holy League by St. Pius V at the age of twenty four.  Having distributed Rosaries to all the men under his command, Don John engaged the much larger Turkish fleet off the western coast of Greece in what came to be called the Battle of Lepanto.  The fortitude of this young man in the face of dire odds led to the destruction of Ottoman naval power and the preservation of Christian Europe.

This brings us back to St. Thomas’ treatise.  We have already seen how fortitude properly  concerns guarding the will against being withdrawn from the good of reason by fear of bodily evil, the greatest being death, and the most virtuous death being in some form of battle.  It is no surprise then that St. Thomas moves from his question on fortitude right into martyrdom, which is the greatest of private combats.  “Now it is evident that in martyrdom man is firmly strengthened in the good of virtue, since he cleaves to faith and justice notwithstanding the threatening danger of death, the imminence of which is moreover due to a kind of particular contest with his persecutors.”  S.T. IIa IIae, Q. 124, a. 2.

Not only is martyrdom an act of fortitude, but it is of the highest perfection.  The martyr endures the greatest bodily evil for the greatest good of reason, charity.  St. Thomas reminds us of the scriptural basis for this claim, “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).”  S.T. IIa IIae, Q. 124, a. 3.

Today this truth is being lived out by Christians throughout the Islamic world.  Just days ago, twenty one Egyptian Coptic Christians were beheaded on a beach in Libya by the Islamic State, the holy name of Jesus on their lips.  The venue for their fortitudinous deaths was not chosen without purpose, as their blood purpled the waters of the Mediterranean on a coastline opposite the Eternal City across that expanse of water once defended by brave sons of the Church like Jean Parisot de Valette and John of Austria.   May it please God to raise up more faithful sons to rally around the Cross, sons born of that blood of martyrs which is the seed of His Church.

“Almighty, everlasting God, in whose hand are the strength of man and the nation’s scepter, see what help we Christians need: that the heathen peoples who trust in their savagery may be crushed by the power of Thy right hand.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.  Amen.

– Collect from the Votive Mass for the Defence of the Church, 1962 Missale Romanum

Call for Whiskey and Fraternity Groups

Mühlberg_-_Säbelmensur

Several readers have written to us regarding informal, local Catholic men’s groups whose charism centers on whiskey and fraternal discussion of Faith.  Other readers have asked where they can find such groups in their local communities.  To accommodate such fraternal organizations, we will host a webpage with the location and basic information of groups that request listing on our blog.

As always, we will have a few ground rules and caveats.  First, we cannot vouch for the Catholic authenticity of every group that requests listing.  We simply request that groups honor the basic tenants of this blog; gentlemanly behavior and allegiance to the Catholic Church.  Second, we will not be moderating such groups — so e-mails to us stating that this or that group tends to contradict Church teachings on this or that point will go unanswered.

If your group requests listing on this blog, please include the name of the club, a meeting location, and contact e-mail.  Send all requests to whiskeycatholic@gmail.com

Mailbag Time: February Edition

Mail

I haven’t reached back into the mailbag since November 8, 2013.  How many e-mails could we have possibly gotten in 461 days?  Quite a few…Let’s answer four of them!

I am part of a group at my Parrish that has a slightly similar founding. The group is called the Manhattan Club. In doing research I came across your blog. Imagine googling Whiskey and Catholic…I thought you guys might be interested in this article about our club.

From the article:

It’s a men’s fellowship model so casual that it has no name, no formal program, and no official members. But it’s unofficial members — who range in age from 20 to 70 and rarely miss any of its weekly back-porch meetings — think it could renew men’s faith everywhere.

Mike Mattingly founded the group without meaning to. “I’m doing things for other people most nights,” says the Our Lady of Lourdes (Western Hills/Cincinnati) parishioner, who works at Miami University. “So I decided to sit on my porch on Wednesday nights, have a Manhattan, and smoke a cigar.”

A friend asked to join him. Then another. Soon a group of men were assembling on Mattingly’s front porch for the “Manhattan Club.” Most of them were Catholic and knew each other from a Christ Renews His Parish retreat at OLL, so talk began to turn to faith, prayer, and helping others. One was thinking of joining the Catholic Church, so the men went over the RCIA material together.

That’s not to say there isn’t ritual or tradition. The meetings start with prayer, and men pay unofficial weekly dues — whatever they want to give, but about “the cost of a Manhattan in a bar,” Mattingly says. Dues, which go to whatever projects the men are working on, are collected in a barrel watched over by a monkey statue Mattingly brings out for the occasion. It’s so ugly, he says, that his wife won’t allow it in the house.

This is simply amazing.  Great work guys.  We’ve lost a sense of manly camaraderie in Catholic circles over the past 20 years.  I think part of this has to do with folks no longer staying in the same city or neighborhood long enough to have a close group of 15-20 friends they feel comfortable drinking and talking faith with on a regular basis.  The bottom line is that we are all in this Church together and the more time we spend supporting each other in our manly vocations, the more successful we will be as a community.  Excellent job guys!

My name is John. I was googling a whiskey, looking for a review, and your website was one of the first results. I’m just wondering where you all met, and what college you went to, etc. I went to Christendom College, so I absolutely appreciate what you all are doing. You can be sure I will tell my friends about your site!

I get so excited when people find us through our whiskey reviews.  Be sure to check out our updated “About Us” page, but I am willing to share a little more detail here.  We all went to Boston College and we met through a Catholic student group that holds adoration on Monday nights.  Andrew and I lived together — with Nicholas often sleeping in our foyer — during my time at the  Boston College Law School.  We hatched the idea for this blog after a dinner party and spent the next several months developing content and acquiring the sense of taste and smell necessary to properly review whiskey.  We have always been attracted to a more classical form of Catholicism and feel that the college atmosphere does not value or encourage gentlemanly virtues.  Our blog has always been premised on Catholicism, manliness, and whiskey.

You seem laughably incapable of seeing beyond binary genders…

Fact.  If we ever publish a Whiskey Catholic book that quote is going on the back cover.  We should get a page of testimonials from hate mail that unwittingly compliments us.

What do you think of Yamazaki Single Cask Sherry 2013 being named the best in the world? 

Having tried Yamazaki without the sherry cask I can imagine why the 2013 release was so spectacular. Over the past year I have grown much more fond of whiskey aged in sherry or port casks.  Old bourbon barrels simply do not give high-end whiskey the same smoothness and flavor that sherry and port casks can.  As sherry casks become increasingly rare I think that these types of special releases will become proportionately more uncommon.  If I was to draw up the perfect whiskey it would be aged in port or sherry casks and Yamazaki is already a great product on its own so yes — this makes a lot of sense.

I already have a few e-mails tucked away for next time but feel free to write us at whiskeycatholic@gmail.com!

Whiskey Catholic Road Trip 2014 Recap: Day 3

woodford1

We previously recapped days one and two of our road trip from Austin to Pittsburgh.  Day three was the most fun for us, as we visited Jim Beam and toured Four Roses, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace.  jimbeam

Our first stop of the morning was to Jim Beam, the Disneyland of American whiskey tour facilities.  In addition to the distillery, there is a beautiful show room for the many, many Jim Beam releases, a delightful barbecue shack, perfectly white rocking chairs, and a wonderfully manicured lawn with bean bag toss.  It was our dream backyard, complete with rolling Kentucky hills and warm summer morning.

We enjoyed playing bean bag toss with the smell of barbecue in the air so much we never actually made it inside the distillery.

We next visited Four Roses.  Andrew was intent on visiting Four Roses because he is so bullish on the brand. Four Roses is currently in the midst of a monumental product and image makeover and the early results have been outstanding.  The brand is certainly up and coming and we expect it to achieve its former glory before long.

woodford3Touring Four Roses was a wonderful experience.  The California-style architecture of the distillery really sets it apart from others in the area, but somehow the whole operation fits seamlessly into the Kentucky landscape.  While we were excited to see Four Roses’ famous cylindrical continuous still, we found ourselves completely blown away by how welcoming the staff was during our visit.  Our tour guide was locally born and raised, extremely knowledgable about the product, and a whiskey convert who formerly preferred vodka.  Her passion for the brand was contagious.  It’s one thing to hear about how the whiskey is created and what aroma it has, but it’s quite another to have someone simply say “my dad always used to bring this bottle fishing with him.”

No sooner had we left the Four Roses tasting room than I noticed the master distiller standing quietly in the corner of the visitor’s shop casually signing bottles for customers.  I was completely sold on the people behind the brand and Andrew and I both picked out a bottle to bring home.

We then drove across what seemed like endless fields bound by white picket fences until we found Woodford Reserve.  The buffalotrace2Woodford Reserve visitor’s center brings back memories of when my family would visit rural Virginia during my childhood.  The beautiful, spacious hardwood floors, the short, forest-green grass, and the rocking chairs made me want to grab a G.K. Chesterton book and stay a while.

The front desk told us that the distillery tours were sold out for the rest of the day, but for half the price we could go out to the back porch and have a glass of whiskey and eat bourbon balls.  We would have paid extra to do just that.

Our final stop of the day was to Buffalo Creek.  We arrived a few minutes past the last tour, but after speaking with one of the buffalotrace1shopkeepers, he agreed to take us through the warehouse and show us around.  Our personal tour of Buffalo Creek — given by a man who had worked at the distillery for 20+ years — allowed us to learn a great deal of off-script details about the history of the operation.  For example, he showed us which barrels in the warehouse were going into which product, and why.  He told us the details of a 2006 storm that ripped the roof off the warehouse, exposing the top rack of barrels to direct sunlight.  Those barrels would become especially valuable to the distillery, and would serve as the impetus for the building of a new open air warehouse that will attempt to recreate the flavor.

We got the impression that the master distiller is something of a mad scientist — taking a barrel from here and a barrel from there to create totally new flavors and pushing the envelop on what an American whiskey distillery can achieve.  We found his willingness to get creative, and the distillery’s willingness to financially back him, a breath of fresh air.

Whiskey Catholic Road Trip 2014 Recap: Day 2

Memphis BBQ

We previously recapped the Whiskey Catholic Road Trip from Austin to Texarkana.  Today, we recap the trip from Texarkana to Nashville.

We left Texarkana early in the morning, hoping to make it to Memphis for an early lunch and to Nashville for dinner.  Cutting across Arkansas via I-30 and I-40 can be slightly tedious at times (we have few Arkansas readers — I checked this morning — so I don’t think I’m offending anyone there).

After crossing the Mississippi, we arrived in Memphis a little early, and informally toured the city for a IMG_0215half hour.  There were some gorgeous homes with simply beautiful landscapes as well as some areas of the city that were certainly “on the wrong side of the railroad tracks.”  We stopped at Central Barbecue for lunch, which was one of the highlights of the trip.

Central barbecue had everything a Catholic Gentleman could want in a road trip pit stop; outdoor seating, a screen door leading into the barbecue pit, ribs with a thick, sweet barque, and beer on tap.  We left with full stomachs and a Marc Cohn song stuck in our heads.

Arriving in Nashville, I convinced Andrew that we should spend the evening at B.B. King’s Blues Club.  The food was average but the music was everything we hoped it would be.  A blues singer who used to tour with B.B. King sang wonderfully and told stories about touring with “the king” back in the day.  We topped the evening off with a trip to the Silver Dollar Saloon.  I was in the mood for a rye and the bartender recommended a new Canadian product.  I took one sniff of it and handed it to Andrew, who did the same and burst out laughing.  It smelled like hard cider someone had spiked with cheap whiskey and tasted even worse.

Luckily, we knew that the next day we would be sure to have excellent tastings at Woodford Reserve and Buffalo Trace.

Whiskey Catholic Road Trip 2014 Recap: Day 1

Capture

The Whiskey Catholic Road Trip — from Austin to Pittsburgh over four days — was an event we tweeted but never wrote about.  Now that we seem to have consistent content again, we want to put together a few posts for our readers who hope to complete Kentucky’s Whiskey Trail in the future.

I picked up Andrew from the Austin Bergstrom International Airport and we immediately set out on I-35 North in my wife’s Mazda CX-7.  By mid-afternoon we passed Balcones, which was unfortunately closed the day we went through Waco, and we stopped for barbecue (a recurring theme on the road trip) at Rudy’s, a Texas state legend for gas-station barbecue.  Rudy’s was a pleasant experience, as far as chain restaurants go; we sampled the sausage and brisket and were on our way.

We turned right at Waco and cut across central Texas on a back road to get away from the busyness of I-35. Our real Arkansasdestination that day was The Country Tavern, a small, local barbecue place within an hour and a half of Texarkana and not much else.

Having never been south of the Mason-Dixon Line, Andrew was in awe of Texas.  Corn fields, cattle, billboards with Bible quotes, and long, empty roads with 75 mph speed limits were all new to him.  One of my favorite moments on the trip came the first time we had to stop for gas.  We stopped in the smallest of towns — other than the gas station there were only a handful of houses on two intersecting avenues and an abandoned grain silo near the railroad tracks.  While I pumped gas in my cowboy boots and jeans, Andrew decided he wanted a coke, and what seemed like the entire town stopped what they were doing to watch a pale northern boy in a three-piece suit walk across a dust-filled parking lot to a shack of a gas station.

We finally arrived at The Country Tavern after a nearly six hour drive from Austin.  We were a little early for dinner, but we could smell the food from outside.  The County Tavern is a place that one of our mentors, The Boston Guru, would truly enjoy.  There is no advertising as far as I could tell.  Being in the oil and gas business, I meet a lot of people who drive all over the State of Texas, and when I ask folks where the best barbecue in the state is, they almost unanimously agree on The Country Tavern.  Its popularity spreading by word-of-mouth, the tavern does not have a menu, which is fine, because everyone is there to feast on ribs.  I will refrain from describing the ribs in detail here because I cannot do them justice, but the combination of a thick layer of sweet barbecue sauce and a perfect cook makes them the stuff of legends.  I should also add that having a hot towel to wipe your hands with at the end of the meal is the perfect finish to any barbecue.

We arrived at Texarkana that night with full stomachs and a bottle of Gentleman Jack to sample.