Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Sonny Jurgensen

I've created two cocktails to celebrate the birthday of football legend Sonny Jurgensen as well as advancing the start of the Washington Redskin's football season. Born on this day in Wilmington, North Carolina, Christian Adolph "Sonny" Jurgensen III attended Duke University, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1957 and was traded to the Washington Redskins in 1964. Legendary coach Vince Lombardi took over coaching the Redskins in 1969, and he called Sonny "...the greatest pure passer of his generation." While I was writing this, I was perversely thinking about Lou Reed singing "Coney Island Baby," and his voice-over introduction where he goes on about having to play "football for the coach" while waiting for the heroin to kick in:
Coney Island Baby - RealOne Player

Sonny became a folk hero in this town. He was respected not only for his passing skills, but he was also considered intelligent, determined and competitive. For a while in D.C. there was heated debate over who should be quarterback: Sonny Jurgensen or Billy Kilmer and people were driving around with bumper stickers factioning off into "I like Sonny," or "I like Billy" groups. Sonny left the Redskins in 1974 and even though the Redskins have a policy against retiring a player's number, Sonny's jersey, number nine, has not been worn since in a regular season game.

Sonny's Spiral
#9, #9, #9, #9

The first cocktail I made up was in honor of Sonny for this day, and I named it based on what the most fanatical Redskin's friend I have told me. I had him go over Sonny's history in the Redskins, and I'll be quoting him at length in a bit, but he said that the most unique thing he remembers Sonny doing was when he threw a football behind his back for 40 yards in a perfect spiral. To honor this, the first cocktail is called:

Sonny's Spiral:

2 ounces Crown Royal Whiskey
2 1/2 ounce Amaretto Disaronno
1 1/2 ounces Cranberry Juice

Shake ingredients and pour into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twisted lemon peel.

After Sonny's football career ended, he began anew as a sport's broadcaster, and he adds knowledgeable insight into every game having been there before, appreciative of what it's like on that playing field. For many, that's the only perception they have of Sonny: that guy on WRC-TV with George Michael. For others, Sonny will always be the "Redheaded Rifle" and much beloved in this town.

I've been watching the pre-season Redskin's news for weeks now. When Clinton Portis had his injury, it only reaffirmed what I know about this town's passion. Reading the Washington Post you had to marvel at the lengthy reports on the potential damage, doctors were being consulted,and a detailed anatomical diagram of the injured site in question. Never ask in a bar how people think the Redskins are going to do this year. Following two poor pre-season games, the first response was "They stink." Everyone quickly amended themselves, after debating the finer points along the rail, and one gentleman I met for the first time said, "They stink right now, but....we've got to have hope, don't we?"

The Burgundy And The Gold Cocktail

I know I've been loyal to them, being a D.C. girl, and in honor of my favorite team, I offer up the visually appealing (but highly undrinkable) cocktail:

The Burgundy And The Gold:

1/2 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce Vodka
1/2 ounce Galliano
1 1 /2 ounces Grenadine

Mix first three ingredients and pour into chilled glass, then sink an equal portion of Grenadine. Garnish with Redskin's helmet.

I'll leave the final words on this piece to my friend who lives and breathes Redskins during the football season. When I asked him what he thought about the coming season, this was his written reply: "As far as this year: I believe this year will be the greatest one for Skins fans since 1991. We've upgraded our offense with the addition of the #1 coordinator in the league over the last five years (Al Saunders), and two great receivers (Brandon Lloyd from San Francisco and Antoine Randel El from Pittsburgh). Our second best receiver from last year is healthy again and will make our top four receivers amongst the top five units in NFL talent. We've added depth to our tight ends, running backs, fullbacks, offensive line, and QBs. Our defense added a great new defensive backs coach (Gray from Buffalo), and solid new defensive players such as Archuletta (Pro Bowl Safety) and Carter (Defensive Line).

Although some are worried because of pre-season losses thus far, I remind everyone that pre-season doesn't get game planned for and doesn't count. In two of Gibbs' Superbowl victory years the Skins were 1-3 and 0-4 in pre-season. The 1991 season that I spoke of they went from 0-4 pre-season to 14-2 regular season, including a 45-0 win on opening day. When compared to the rest of our division, it should be pointed out that last December we beat our division opponents (Dallas, NY, and Philly) by an average of 19 points each. All the pieces are in place for an amazing year when things actually count! September 11th will be the beginning of a special Redskins season!"

I love his exclamation point at the end. Like I said: D.C. and the Redskins have hope. Happy Birthday, Mr. Jurgensen.


Blogger I-66 said...

Holy crap.

Redskins cocktails and a Sonny post?

You are a Cube after my own heart.


1:30 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

66'er: You bet, Cutie. Huge fan. HUGE.

1:32 PM  
Blogger I-66 said...

I miss the old days of Sonny Sam and Frank. When Joe Gibbs returned I popped in (repeatedly) my video yearbook of the shortened (people forget that they missed one game) 1987 season. Even now I can still hear Frank Herzog's "TOUCHdown, Washington Redskins" calls.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

66'er: I am still trying to educate myself on some of the Redskin's older history. Every year, up until the end, I want them to do well and hope for the best. When I watch sports news on WRC, I always listen hard to what Sonny has to say, given his past history and knowledge of the game.

1:43 PM  
Blogger I-66 said...

Resistence is futile. You will be assimilated. :)

1:55 PM  
Blogger ThaiMex1 said...

This town has always been crazy for the team. There is no more a dedicated fan of a football team than the Washington Redskin fan.

I'd like I-&&'s view on the rivalries of old compared to today? Do you think the Dallas vs Redskins games have the same climate as those of old? They were pretty intense back then.

1) The Washington Football team fight song is the only one in the NFL.
2) The song uses the same tune as "Yes, Jesus Loves Me."

2:41 PM  
Blogger I-66 said...

There are few other songs that could be considered fight songs in the NFL. The Eagles sing one, I think called "Fly Eagles Fly" which I don't like - not only because it's the Eagles, but also because it's not very flowing and seems kinda uneven.

As far as rivalries go, the Redskins/Cowboys rivalry is still the best in football as far as I'm concerned, but it had been in a bit of a rut until recently. With the return of Bill Parcells to coaching, and Joe Gibbs to coaching and his old team, it's been reborn.

Dallas fans are probably more filled with hate than the recent past. I mean, it's tough to lose a game at home after being up 13-0 by allowing 2 late TD's, and then to get absolutely destroyed on the road 35-7. :)

2:52 PM  
Blogger Hammer said...

xizywI didn't know they got Brandon Lloyd too. That kid is good. And the TJ Duckett signing significantly offsets the Portis injury (albeit not entirely).

The division is killer though - hard to say what will happen.

As for me, I'll just be cursing out my Vikings on Sundays and wondering which ones get charged with DUI on Mondays...

3:15 PM  
Blogger NotCarrie said...


3:53 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Thai: We do love our Redskins.

66: One of the great rivalries of football.

Hammer: I was grateful he did that write-up. i found it enlightening.

Carrie: I'm ready for the season to begin...Let the screaming at the television commence.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me the Redskins are a symbol of many things. The best imagery I can give you came from the opening game of 1991. On that date, we won 45-0 over the strong Detroit Lions.

It is a tradition that you high five other Skins fans in your section after touchdowns. Despite not knowing anyone in my seating area, I quickly became high five buddies with everyone as we scored touchdown after touchdown. At
one point in the third quarter, the crowd was so full of emotion, I actually hugged the 60 year old man standing next to me while
jumping up and down as the band's played, "Hail to the Redskins".

After a few seconds we look at each other and laughed at how that must have looked. It was then that I realized the power of the Redskins. No matter where you grew up or how you live, we all look to our heros on the field as they represent the community in battle. The Redskins are Washington's team win or lose. From families spending time together to the delivery guys at work with a gleam in their eye, this is our common love. No matter our age, color, or
neighborhood, we're all from the same hood in football season! I think of this everytime the mailman or that clerk in 7-11 see my Redskins shirt and proudly say, "Did you see the game?"

4:16 PM  
Blogger Lonnie Bruner said...


Does it go without saying that we should be using REAL pomegranate grenadine? As opposed to that Rose's crap that Safeway sells.

4:28 PM  
Blogger lizzie said...

that burgandy and gold drink is really cool looking!

4:29 PM  
Blogger Lonnie Bruner said...

Oops, I messed up the link. Here it is.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Lonnie: I'm glad you wrote that, because you are the mixologist expert in blog world. The bar used the standard junk you would expect. I was afraid to post that drink because of people like you: someone who could read the ingredients and go, "Dear God, she's lost her mind." By the way, if my readers don't know about one of Lonnie's blog's, this is what I am referring to. I highly recommend it:

Also, go into his July archives where he writes about grenadine.

Lizzie: It looks very cool, but I wouldn't let anyone drink it. I did it SOLELY for the visual effect. Normally I don't do that and make sure the cocktails that I post are highly drinkable.

Lonnie: Thanks, and I'm also promoting your blog (see above) because I enjoy it so much. The D.C. Drinks blog is also written by Issac Washington.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Jinxy said...

Saw your comment about SoCO over at Lucy's site.

Tanks. You're the bestest.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Namaste said...

hey sister! i'm back!!! LOL! it's been too long...

7:35 PM  
Blogger Stef said...

I have to say, though, that Pittsburgh fans can give 'skins fans a run for their money. That town lives and breathes black and gold. Luckily all 3 teams have those colors, so they don't need to buy new outfits for 3 different seasons. :-)

I've not yet been sucked into the football frenzy here in DC, but I'll be going to my first UMD game in a few weeks and except to be cheering for the home team!

7:49 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Mister Jinxy: You're welcome. I enjoy your blog very much.

Namaste! You're back. I've seen you popping up on Miss Cookie's blog. I've bookmarked your new blog page for following.

Stef: Oh. You'll get sucked in quickly. This is a football town.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

I love the drinks. I'll have to pass them onto all my fellow Skins fans.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Momentary Academic said...

Cube, just when I think that it is impossible for you to get any cooler, you do it. Wow. Great post.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Bea: Thanks

Momentary: Just a Redskin's fan. :)

11:24 PM  
Blogger cuff said...

I've lived here for 13 years and I loathe the toughskins and even more so I can't shake the feeling that even the championship game of the NCAA men's bball tournament would be shaken off the front page of the sports section if a deadskin were to stub his toe in the offseason. They don't even play in or near Washington anyway.

Then again, I don't much care for the NFL as a whole and I haven't since Lester Hayes retired.

12:28 AM  
Blogger WFY said...

i-66: I remember the good old days when Sonny was on Redskins Sidelines with Glenn Brenner and Gordon Barnes. I can still hear Herzog saying "He's gone! Unless they can catch him." on the Super Bowl XXII broadcast.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Cuff: You're right. The town is obsessive about it. That's why I had to laugh when they started having detailed anatomical drawings over a pre-season injury.

WFY: Glenn Brenner was another beloved figure in this town. His popular feature on t.v. was the "Weenie of the Week," and people loved when he showcased Sister Mary Louise,the betting nun.

7:47 AM  
Blogger WFY said...

Cube: I wrote about Brenner last January. First listing on google for "glenn brenner" now too. There is not nearly enough on the Web about him, hopefully somebody will get some video (especially "Unproessional") of him on YouTube.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

When are you going to publish a book of cocktails with your essays about what inspired their creation? When?

It's so fun to remember that last year, too, you had Redskin fever. I remember your brother being amazed that you knew so much about the team, though, being your brother you would assume he understands that you know almost everything.

I'm not a football fan, but I love the drinks!

9:07 AM  
Blogger Johnny said...

You should make something called the Scalper and just put an assload of wasabi in there.

10:07 AM  
Blogger cuff said...

I would like to add to my previous comment by noting that the burgundy and yellow drink is beautiful, even if you say it's undrinkable, and I think Sonny Jurgenson is the only reason anyone watches that horse-mouthed, leather-hided George Michael show anyway.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Freewheel said...

They're still missing a first-rate quarterback. Maybe they should give Randle El a try at that spot.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Megarita said...

I cannot express how much I respect your cocktail creativity. sadly, no love here for the Redskins (I'm such an out of towner!) but I love this post.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Ryane said...

What a great post!! I am not much of a football fan, but I must admit to feeling the stirrings of DC local/Redskins fever w/those recipes, and that wonderful recounting of Redskins history. Awesome!

11:42 AM  
Blogger mysterygirl! said...

Oooh, I want to learn how to "sink" grenadine. Exciting.

I like to combine learning and alcohol, so that by the end my brain cells are pretty much back where they started. :)

12:12 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Wfy: I read your piece on Brenner and enjoyed it. I like to periodically write about people who have been of cultural or historic importance in this city.

Reya: People want me to write a book, but not about cocktails. I'm not sure what the audience would be for my quirky mixes.

Johnny: They are putting wasabi in martinis and such now. If the booze is making your drowsy, you'll snap right awake...and have cleared sinuses.

Cuff: Agreed on George Michael. Trust me. That drink is undrinkable. Even the bartender said, "Please don't drink that." I think it would be deadly sweet. Visually though...a knockout for it's purpose.

Freewheel: I am very curious how things are going to be adjusting during the early part of the season. I was watching the sports news last night, and they are STILL making changes. There's a real revolving door over there.

Mega: Thank you, and I love reading your blog, as well. I know you don't want to be writing about your students, but that stuff you just posted was hilarious.

Ryane: Thank you, and I just keep plugging along wondering if anyone is following my train of thought since it's splattered all over the place. I love getting feedback.

Mystery: It sounds hard, but it really isn't, to sink booze into a drink. It's all physics. The trick is knowing which liquors have a heavier property in weight so they will settle on the bottom. The first cocktail I did last year was a three-layered concoction, but they can go much higher. The most famous layered drink is called a "poussé cafe(sounds vulgar, doesn't it?) It's usually served in a narrow pony glass, and the ingredients are:

1/6 oz grenadine
1/6 oz yellow chartreuse
1/6 oz creme de yvette
1/6 oz green creme de menthe
1/6 oz green chartreuse
1/6 oz brandy

There is a special bar spoon they use with a twisted, long handle to drizzle the liquor over the bowl of the spoon, down the stem, into the glass. It can also be achieved by just slowly drizzling each liquor, in the appropriate order, down the side of the slightly tilted pony glass. Maybe we should invent a layered cocktail called "Brain Cells." What do you think?

12:40 PM  
Blogger The Absurdist said...

Did you go to bartending school?

3:03 PM  
Anonymous TravelGirlDC said...

that is a LOT of grenadine at the cocktail! I think I would go for not so visual but way more vodka :-)

10:35 AM  
Blogger Knoxie said...

Just give me some Mark Wahlberg. Will you see his new film?

Go Skins. Go Terps.

Kind regards,


1:56 AM  
Blogger Merujo said...

Oy, was he ever really that young? Having only lived here a bit over a decade, I've only known Sonny the Elder, via local TV news.

Pretty cool stuff, Cubette.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Needtsza said...

That's what I love to see!!! A real Skins fan. And agreed with I66, I miss the Sonny, Sam and Frank days.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Needtsza: Hiya :) Yeah. I'm starting to get worried though. It's time to get out the chicken bones and mojo bags and start some strong juju going for the team.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous lugosi said...

Okay, here's a test that separates the REAL Redskins fans from the amateurs: Who was Clint Longley, and why will his name forever live in infamy among Redskins fans?

As far as Sonny goes, I can still remember watching him in amazement whenever he went on the field. With that gut, he kinda reminded me of my dad.

9:00 PM  

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