By Paul Suplee,
MBA, CEC, PC-3
Misery loves company, and I have come to discern that no populace holds this truism closer to its heart than parents of young children in Disney, and now that it has finally reopened to the dismay of many a father, I smile an evil little grin, knowing that I am free.
My observation lies in the sheer desperation on the faces of parents as they manage strollers, screaming children, diaper bags and water bottles as they fumble onto the tram.
It lies in the fact that most parents simply wanted this vacation to be over so they could go back and tell the neighbors how amazing the experience was. Of course, a few probably bragged about their week in Club 33, a myth in its own rite, but I digress.
I smile with near sympathy, as I recall the face of many a father, before whom I had traveled along this wearying path, as they imagined the peace and quiet of their workweek seven days later. It will be so much more relaxing then, they are telling themselves. I could see it.
When someone shouted, “Who lost their binky?” or “Someone dropped their sippy cup,” I chortled as I knew that it certainly was not I.
I had not been found in the good company of either of these in more than a few years.
As our children were older, the last time we went to Disney, it was almost enjoyable. Almost.
We made sure to spend some quality time in three of the parks, and the scenery was good as was the weight loss regimen, as I believe that I dropped at least six pounds during the trip.
One day, halfway through the trip, we were in Hollywood Park, which shall forever be MGM Studios to me, but what can you do? So many employees were having a hard time with ‘Disney Springs,’ which is the renaissance of Downtown Disney, so I certainly couldn’t feel too terrible about the misnomer.
After meeting the kids in the early afternoon, we went on a few rides, checked out the architecture and movie sets (we were and still are nerds) and tried to find anywhere that we could all agree upon for dinner.
Weighing our options, we decided on the Lounge at the Brown Derby. It was outdoor seating and an extremely limited menu, but I may have persuaded the kids to eat there. I really wanted to.
Since the menu was so limited outside, my daughter ordered the Wagyu sliders, and it didn’t even register with me that she disdains burgers. That’s just the kind of dad that I am.
My son ordered the sliders as well, foregoing the duck slider that should have accompanied it as did his sister. Duck? I don’t think so. Not with these kids.
I ordered the classic Brown Derby Cobb Salad (of course), a braised pork belly starter and a Gin-Gin Mule, the latter being a cocktail that I have never tried before.
A playful rendition of the Moscow Mule, this variation on a theme became my new summer beverage of choice back here at beach outings and barbecues.
I grew up in a gin house, with Tanqueray and Tonics being the drink of choice for decades; ergo I have a taste for juniper-laced spirits.
With the bite of the ginger beer and the freshness of the lime and mint, this is such a winning combination that I seriously might have to mix one up to reminisce one of the last decent times I had in this over-extracted wasteland of gift shops and souvenir kiosks.
As for the Cobb Salad and the burger, let me just tell you that my kids were converted on different levels on this one fine evening. My daughter could now deal with burgers. However, they must be Wagyu burgers – damn you, universe.
Both of my younger kids adored the salad, despite the fact that they can’t walk around a piece of bleu cheese without at least a touch of the old gag reflex.
All in all, I would call it one of our more successful evenings on that trip. And after experiencing the overstimulation of the closing show, I ended up sitting in the laundry room in a Disney resort, sweating profusely and drinking a large Gin-Gin Mule that I had made myself.
I could only afford so many in the park. And that was a mere two hours before my young son and I were kicked out of a Disney pool, but it had nothing to do with the mule.
2 Mint leaves
1 1/2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
1 oz. Simple syrup
3 oz. Ginger beer or ale
Lime and mint for garnish
1. Place mint leaves in the bottom of a hi-ball glass, and add a splash of gin.
2. Gently muddle the leaves, but do not smash them like you do for a mojito. I like to think of this drink as a much more demure cocktail, as it reflects the royalty of gin. At least, I hold it in regal regard.
3. Add ice, remaining gin, simple syrup and ginger beer and gently shake.
4. Pour into the glass and garnish with more mint and lime. This drink will be a bit on the sweet side, so I prefer a more-than-fair amount of lime. Do so at your discretion.
—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College and owner of boxcar40.
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com.