Faulkner’s favorite drink is often listed as the julep, which is probably correct: his house in Oxford still displays his beloved metal julep cup. But his old standby was the toddy, which he describes “compounding … with ritualistic care.” It comes in two forms, hot and cold. Faulkner’s niece, Dean Faulkner Wells, clearly recalled her uncle making hot toddies and serving them to his ailing children on a silver tray. But unlike today, the cold toddy seems to have been the more popular in Faulkner’s day.
2 ounces of bourbon or white whiskey
4 ounces of water (cold or boiling)
If cold, 1 lemon slice; if hot, 1/2 lemon, both juice + rind
1 teaspoon of sugar
The key to a toddy, according to Faulkner, is that the sugar must be dissolved into a small amount of water before the whiskey is added, otherwise it “lies in a little intact swirl like sand at the bottom of the glass.” (One of Faulkner’s short stories, “An Error in Chemistry,” hinges on this point: a northern murderer, pretending to be a Southern gentleman, mistakenly mixes sugar with “raw whiskey”; the Southerners recognize his faux pas and immediately pounce on him.) Once the sugar is dissolved, the whiskey is poured over it. Top it off, to taste, with the remaining water—preferably “rainwater from a cistern.” Add lemon and serve in a heavy glass tumbler.
“A Dry Spell” by Einar Hjörleifsson Kvaran
It had rained for a fortnight—not all the time heavily, but a fog had sullenly hung about the mountain tops, clinging to the atmosphere and rendering the whole of existence a dull gray colour. Every little while it would discharge a fine drizzle of rain or a heavy shower down upon the hay and everything else on earth, so that only the stones would occasionally be dry—but the grass never.
We were tired of the store—indeed, I should like to know who would have enjoyed it. It dated back to the beginning of the last century, a tarred, coal-black, ramshackle hut. The windows were low and small, the windowpanes diminutive. The ceiling was low. Everything was arranged in such a way as to exclude the possibility of lofty flights of thought or vision.
Just now, not a living soul looked in—not even those thriftless fellows who lived by chance jobs in the village and met in daily conclave at the store. We had often cursed their lengthy visits, but now that they had hired themselves out during the haymaking, we suddenly realized that they had often been entertaining. They had made many amusing remarks and brought us news of the neighbourhood. And now we cursed them for their absence.
We sat there and smoked, staring vacantly at the half-empty shelves, and all but shivering in the damp room. There was no heater in the store at any season, and the one in the office, if used, emitted spurts of smoke through every aperture except the chimney. It had not been cleaned since sometime during winter, and we were not ambitious enough for such an undertaking in the middle of the summer.
We tried to transfer our thoughts from the store to the world outside. We made clever comments to the effect that the farmers were now getting plenty of moisture for the hay-fields, and that it would be a pity if rain should set in now, right at the beginning of the haying season. We had nothing further to say on the subject, but this we repeated from day to day. In short, we were depressed and at odds with things in general. Until the dry spell.
One morning, about nine o’clock, the bank of fog began to move. First, there appeared an opening about the size of your hand, and through it the eastern sky showed a bright blue. Then another opening, and through it shone the sun. Continue reading ““A Dry Spell” — Einar Hjörleifsson Kvaran”