• ,

Food Porn Friday: Cocktail Time

A Gold family tradition

A Gold family tradition

It took me a long time to realize that not every family celebrates 6 p.m. most evenings by opening the bar. I was visiting some friends in Philadelphia with my girlfriend not long ago, and while we had dinner plans, we thought we might relax and have something to drink beforehand.

"How about a martini?" I suggested, thinking of my favorite early evening aperitif.

"A martini, really?" they said, thinking maybe I'd prefer a Coke or, at best, a cold beer.

"Well, I said ... it's 6 o'clock, isn't it? In the Gold family, that means martini time!"

They were clearly not used to the family custom, but they were good hosts and fun people, so we all indulged in icy cold martinis for an hour before we headed out. By the time we got to dinner we were all noticeably more mellow and having a swell time, even with two small and rather vocal children in tow. Several weeks later, one of our Philly friends sent me a smartphone-captured shot of a straight-up martini, with the caption "a new tradition!" It was time-stamped at 6:03 p.m.

I have plenty of fond cocktail memories involving my family, martinis in particular, going back to when I was a child.  Not that I was imbibing at that age, of course, but by the time I was about 9, my father would defer to me when a server would ask him what he'd like to drink.

"He'll have a very dry Bombay martini on the rocks with a twist," I'd tell the waitress with youthful confidence, usually much to her amusement. On occasion, I'd bug my dad for a sip of his cocktail, and he'd almost always indulge me, knowing that, once that gin passed my lips, I'd usually sputter and gag at the medicinal taste and strong aroma of what I could only equate with the isopropyl my mother employed on skinned knees and elbows.

"How in the world, I wondered at the time," could my father and grandfather actually find enjoyment in such a thing?"

By the time I turned 21, I understood all too well. It took me little time to adopt my family's 6 o'clock tradition, starting, of course, in restaurants, where often we'd all order our obligatory martinis -- seven of us, with my grandparents and when my younger brother came of age -- none of which were identical. Some were up, some on the rocks, others with a twist, vodka instead of gin, olives, dirty, dry, or even with a cocktail onion (a Gibson, technically), a sure testament to the server and bartender's mnemonic aptitude (and patience, I'm sure).

I don't have a martini every night at 6 o'clock these days, but when I'm with my parents, the 6 p.m. open bar is still a tradition. Having spent my years behind the bar as a professional, I'll happily make drinks for my brothers and mother, and of course for company, if we're having friends over. It's a beautiful custom, I've always felt, something sophisticated and special, a simple act of shared indulgence (but not overindulgence) that bonds our family in the waning afternoon light, and it always reminds us that the workday is over, the evening has begun, and it's time to relax and enjoy each other's company.

I wouldn't have it any other way.  Three cheers (and extra olives) for tradition!

Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore and a blog by the same name, has written for Gourmet, Edible Brooklyn, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Catch his weekly food column for The Advocate here.


Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore, has written for Gourmet, The New Orleans Advocate, Gambit, ThrillistEdible Brooklyn, Tasting Table, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo essay designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Find him on Twitter @scottgold.