Tuesday, January 4, 2011
One of the Navy's Apricot Brandy Bottles Are Missing
In recent years, I've gotten into the bad habit of ransacking through peoples bars and pantries when I visit them. Not in an overtly rude or intrusive way; just a casual, but eagle-eyed perusal of their stores, one that (I hope) gives them no idea that I'm on the surreptitious hurt for odd, unusual, rare and hard-to-find bottles, which I will thereafter charmingly coerce them into opening. I've found this to a be a very useful way of finding spirits and wines that I wouldn't have the opportunity to taste otherwise.
This pursuit bore fruit during a recent visit to my family. I thought I had seen everything in my parents circa-1960s bar. But what should one last search reveal but a dusty bottle of Hiram Walker Apricot Flavored Brandy. There was no date on it, but judging by the aged label and the tax stamp along the cap, I'm guessing it went back to the 1960s at least.
But the most interesting aspect of the bottle—the source of which my parents could not recall—was a stamp on the side that seemed to indicate that it was government issue. "U.S. Navy Mess" read the sticker. My father was in the Army during the Korean War, so my guess is the liqueur came from a fellow Armed Services buddy who came to dinner some many years ago.
There was still about two inches of liquid left in the bottle. My parents couldn't remember the last time they had drunk from the vessel, so I surmised that further contents were lost to evaporation over the years. I poured myself a shot. I didn't expect much, given it was apricot brandy, and apricot brandy from a time that didn't necessarily prize authenticity of production. But it wasn't bad. It was super sweet, and had vanilla notes that I suspect weren't naturally earned. Still, there was a depth to the flavor that I imagine was gathered over time.
One thing's for sure—the label was far more handsome than the one Hiram Walker is using today on their apricot brandy.