The first cocktail I learned to make was the Whiskey Sour. I made it with Scotch, which was a very poor choice, but I was just out of college and didn’t know better. It’s gratifying to discover, in retrospect, that even then I had enough wits about me to think that tinkering with the mix might lead to a worthwhile improvement in flavor. It took forever to realize that the problem was the Scotch. Well, it was too much lemon, too, but at least I finally figured it out.
The most notable (and infamous) ritual food in my family was the Christmas goose. Oh, how my mother reviled even the smell of that great, fatty, oven-greasing bird; she taught the rest of us to hate it, too, just as she and her sister had for decades. On the other hand, there was my grandmother, matriarch of the family, and for her, roast goose was the one immutable element of Christmas dinner. No goose, no Christmas. So we roasted goose.