I am a Southerner in the City, an aging debutante, a small town girl cursed with big city aspirations. My grandfather says that I’m at the cusp of feminine failure—I’m as old as a bottle of prime Tennessee whiskey (aged 25 years) and still single. I need to “get on home” and find a nice Southern boy—a doctor, maybe an insurance salesman. At this, I dig in my heels and set out to date every inappropriate man in Manhattan…
The season is upon us. Wham bam, two wedding weekends in a row, one smack against the other. For one girlfriend, I jetted (okay, I flew three hours in what was essentially an upright fetal ball position on a Delta commuter plane) from New York down to the Gulf and back up again only to turn around and speed off (or creep along the eastern seaboard at the pace of a Schwinn, courtesy Amtrak) to the Maine-New Hampshire seacoast for the wedding of another. Low-hanging lanterns, raw bars, difficult-to-identify spring buds and California “Champagne” abounded. Restrained elegance. There might have been fifteen years and variant levels of estrogen in the bloodstream differentiating my two lady friends (the Yankee bride was glowingly, unapologetically 5 months pregnant at her nuptials) but they both knew how to pull off their memorable evenings with aplomb.
But a party’s not a party if Mamma’s not there. She and her cast of “wedding friends” (yes, these people are a subset) remind me that “Steel Magnolias” is not some histrionic take on Southern quirk and culture but a damn fine portrayal of what really goes on in our backyards and on our front porches. At the Yacht Club wedding celebration down South (“yacht” definitively needing to be sandwiched between a pair of quotes like pimento cheese between two slices of crustless white bread), I saddled up next to the whirring Bushwacker machine just a moment too long. I missed Mamma’s opening harmony. You see, I was too busy tapping my thigh, enjoying the altogether pleasant sound of Kahlua and “151” rum being rhythmically folded into vanilla ice cream and half-and-half to hear the “Drifters” lyrics escape into the dense twilight air.
“This magic moment, so different and so new was like any other, until I kiss you…” Mamma, in her dusty rose and black pantsuit, was doing a duet with the lead singer.
But back to that alcoholic Dixie milkshake of ours… Tacky and a godsend, that’s how I’d describe it. I suppose that it’s okay I didn’t hear Mamma at first because those moments standing, sipping next to the big steely machine might as well have been a therapy session; my shoulders descended from up around my ears down to their proper place, my brow unfurrowed, my mind stopped racing and asking New York kinda questions (i.e. “Does that agency really merit 20% of gross net earnings?” “Is in-house publicity sufficient or do I need to hire an independent contractor?” “ConEd CAN’T raise electricity 17%–I need my manicures!”). I was utterly content.
Sucking down my weekly calorie allotment, I looked over at the over-sized Southern boys next to me—deep-sea fishermen, big game hunters, lawyers—acting the same. They stopped talking about the marlin and the ten-point bucks that got away and considered the new wallpaper in the guest bedroom, the delicate remoulade sauce they enjoyed with crab cakes last weekend at the Club.
Alcohol and dairy—the teat of southern comfort.
“And then it happened, it took me by surprise, I knew that you felt it too, by the look in your eyes… Sweeter than wine, softer than the summer night, everything I want I have…”
Sweeter than wine is right. Dust off the blender and make this absolutely decadent, over-the-top milkshake your first warm weekend out in the Hamptons (or on the fire escape!). Channel Mamma and tipsy wedding receptions on the bay.
8 oz cream of coconut
4 oz coffee liqueur
2 oz black rum
2 oz creme de cacao
8 oz half-and-half
vanilla ice cream
Combine all ingredients in a blender with 2 cups of ice and blend until creamy. Enjoy (and don’t plan on being hungry for dinner)!