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Sep 8, 2014


The Toronto International Film Fest (TIFF) is on and the very clever organizers decided to make Friday Bill Murray Day.



This pic belongs to these folks here.

Like many others, I love Bill Murray and was saddened to have missed serving cocktails at one of the parties he attended.

An already adored actor, he has found in the digital age a quirky way of vaulting himself from popular dude into mythical legend, by simply acting like a normal person. We've all seen the video of him pouring tequila shots at SXSW and wished we were there. His habit of surprising people in ordinary ways happens so frequently that there is an actual website, Bill Murray Stories, devoted to these encounters.

I don't have one of these stories.

But in my imaginary world, the encounter that no one will ever believe involves Bill showing up at my house (or yours) one day out of the blue, welcome but uninvited. I imagine him having some time to kill while here in Toronto and thinking it would be funny to knock on a random door just to see what happens.

A bit reckless if you ask me...

The question then becomes, what do you serve to Bill Murray when he lands on your doorstep unannounced?

Some important factors to consider;

It needs to be made of ingredients that are always on hand.
It is after all, a random day in the imaginary future.

It needs to be fast.
He could just as easily walk right back out the door if you lose his attention.

It needs to be a quality drink that lacks pretense.
This one is actually a somewhat common challenge of the times. It's a very tricky thing to get right with any drink, not just one that Bill will be sipping while trying to avoid the food smears my two year old leaves on the couch everyday.

Last, it needs to be firm but drinkable any time of the day.
Showing up without an invitation, it's hard to guess what time he'll arrive.

After a consult with my Savoy, I was convinced the right choice was the Old Pal  A combination of Canadian whisky, dry vermouth and Campari.

Even though this is a fictitious scenario, I felt I had to be brutally honest about what I always have in the house. I didn't think peanut butter was the way to go.
I always have those three in stock and I'm 99% on a lemon or an orange, either of which can aid this subtle drink. Earlier versions of the drink do call for a lemon twist, and orange is a popular substitution. The recipe as listed in the Savoy calls for neither so I felt safe riding the 1% possibility that I'd be out of citrus.

The recipe also calls for shaking and straining into a cocktail glass, while I liked how this loosened the drink I can't serve Bill Murray a drink in a stemmed cocktail glass in my toy filled living room (neither can you). Again, older versions call for stirring then straining but that still leaves the drink in a stemmed glass.

I'm throwing caution to wind here, Bill needs a glass he can hold, so I'm going to build it over ice. It will have the ease of quick preparation with the extra dilution I wanted from the shaking and can then be served in the appropriate glass.

I feel pretty confident that imaginary Bill is really going to like this drink.

The bitterness from Campari and the herbal quality of vermouth balance the flavour profile. I think it's fair to guess that he's been served Canadian whisky a few times, having many Canuck cohorts. Although, if he ends up at your house instead of mine, I don't think imaginary Bill will care for a 20 minute speech on craft distilling in the lower great lakes. You could probably get away with a small piece of trivia when you hand him the drink. For example, Canadian Club is produced by Beam Suntory. 

The point is you'll need to prepare for the day when Bill might show up at your house unannounced and you're going to want to make the most of it. This classic cocktail is going to make legendary, your encounter that no one believes.

Old Pal
1 oz Canadian Club whisky
1 oz Martini Bianco (dry vermouth)
1 oz Campari

Fill and old fashioned glass with cracked ice. Pour on whisky, vermouth and Campari. Stir to combine. Serve with a twist of lemon.

This drink could not be any easier. It's not exactly entry level on the palate but nothing with a heavy amount of Campari will count as a beginner drink. If it feels too bitter try using Aperol instead. It will mellow the drink overall but leave in enough bitterness for balance. It would also be a fun update to make this with Forty Creek Whisky as they are now owned by CampariProceed with caution, there will be a strong temptation to start waxing poetic on the craft success story.

Here's to the possibility that one day you will have a Bill Murray story that no one will ever believe...but I always like to drink to world peace...

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