Poison Ivy, The Madras And Clearing Up Some New England Confusion

There are things that New Englanders are very specific about, and New York not being in New England is amongst them.  They’d be correct.  New England was first defined by John Smith in 1616, but I think he meant New England as in, “Everything I can see from here is New England.”  And before you tell me I was wrong, neither of us were there, so…

I have always felt New York should be invited into New England.  It isn’t like we didn’t carry our weight in taxes.  I have also always felt that West Point should be in the Ivy League.  As I approach the subject yet again, I offer New Englanders this:  the best Madras maker on the planet lives in New York.

I speak not of Prasan Shah.  Who makes the best madras on the planet, but you can’t drink it.  (PS – I have to talk to Prasan but it looks like he is opening something online – in which case I am going to flip out, he is the best guy, and is SO into his work, and their madras is like…  you remember the first time you ever saw someone doing exactly what they were supposed to do?  Oprah calls it flow.  Which I am very sure she borrowed.     That’s Prasan’s madras. Flow.)   I mean, his madras is, yes, handmade by families and sold by his family and yes he knows every single weaver and so does his grandfather and yes he is near religious about it, but MY madras tastes better.

So New England would have you call this a Cape Codder.


Well to be fair, they would have you call it a Cape Codder because it IS a Cape Codder.


I had my first glass of wine at a Truck Stop in LeMars, IA, so I know a little bit about drinking without home field advantage.  Everywhere else, that is as Cranberry & Vodka.

New Englanders, however, got lazy in confusing everywhere in the world with the Screwdriver.   Because, everywhere in the world, the Screwdriver is called a Screwdriver.  It is vodka and orange juice.   But I did hear of a drink called a Vodka Sunrise, which is vodka, orange juice and grenadine, but you make a pitcher of Screwdrivers and you add the grenadine into each glass.

I have an unfortunate story about vodka and orange juice.  It has something to do with a bar, and a contest amongst recent college grads (myself included) about who could  leave the bar with the person they picked first.   We all had to pick a person, and then it was go time, no rules other than they had to leave the bar with you for half an hour, the idea being that you couldn’t just step outside to smoke.   I used vodka as a supplement.  Vodka and orange juice, to be exact, and it proved to be a Performance Enhancing Drug to a younger, thinner, wittier John Burton.   I escorted my person out first, but we had to kill half an hour so we did, in the woods, you know, talking.  We returned, and more vodka flew.  I got her number, and as the Screwdrivers went back I grew quite fond of her.   The next day I called (chivalry and she really was very funny) and it turns out the number she gave me was her job at a department store, and she was not working.  One could interpret that to mean that I was a little more into her than she was into me.  Assuming the attraction was equal before our half hour outside, one’s self-confidence could take a real hit.  In fact, mine did.  I called the next day, got the runaround again.  On the third day (it is always that third day) I simply went there.  I saw her back, walked up behind her, called her name.  She turned around.  COVERED in welts and puss and blisters.   I am not, nor have ever been, allergic to poison ivy.  So I forget that it’s a thing.  She reminded me.  It’s a thing.

Anyway, this is a Vodka Sunrise:

You are supposed to pour the grenadine right down the middle. You can make your own grenadine. Why on earth you would make your own grenadine is beyond me.

All of the above is in the batter’s circle of citrus and vodka drinks.  At bat is the Madras.  Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice, Vodka.   This is not Sex On The Beach.  Or anywhere else, in light of the paragraph above.  Sex On The Beach has peach schnapps (which is a great word but I have no idea what schnapps is) in it.  This is the Madras.

If you Google how to make a madras, you will run into the counting of ounces.  This, friends, is nonsense.  One does not count ounces when making a Madras.  One counts, in the spirit of Southern Ivy, Mississippis.

Do not use a Highball or a Collins glass.  These are designed to trick you, dear reader.  These glasses are tall, and their height prohibits the communing of the elements.  In this case, the communing of the vodka and the cranberry and the orange.  Use a Lowball, or a Rocks Double.  Fill it with ice.  Trust me.  This is so you can have two.  Begin with the vodka.  Six Mississippis.  Then the cranberry.  Three Mississippis.  Then just a splash of orange.  Stir it a little.  You do not want uniformity.  A glass of wine should change as you drink it.  So should a Madras.

The Madras

Have a nice summer, and don’t make jackass bets at bars like I did.




15 Comments on "Poison Ivy, The Madras And Clearing Up Some New England Confusion"

  1. Hardbopper | March 31, 2022 at 4:06 pm |

    It all looks deliciously refreshing. So happy that today is Friday.

    It’s Friday somewhere. – JB

  2. JB,
    Can someone confirm the proper pronunciation of the name?
    Is it “mad dras” or “ma dras”?

  3. Hardbopper | March 31, 2022 at 6:13 pm |

    Maybe she gave you her work number because her budget didn’t allow for a home phone. And maybe she didn’t spend much time at home, not enough time to sit around waiting for a phone call, anyway.

  4. Expat Yank | March 31, 2022 at 6:23 pm |

    Born in upstate NY — I mean WAY upstate, where the cows and tomato farms are — I certainly felt a kinship with NE and still do. Still, humans gotta tribe so the feeling is never reciprocated.

    Oh well. I’ll still buy my maple syrup from VT, damnit.

  5. Boston Bream | March 31, 2022 at 10:25 pm |

    Neither. It’s pronounced “mad ras”.

  6. Classic story – which is why you’re retelling it so many years later.

  7. Roy R. Platt | March 31, 2022 at 11:06 pm |

    While on the subject of “clearing up some New England confusion” Sir Francis Drake claimed Nova Albion for England in 1579. California was New England before most of those on the Mayflower were born.

    If John Smith saw New England in 1616 what he saw was Virginia.


  8. Old Bostonian | April 1, 2022 at 12:39 am |

    The Screwdriver itself seems to have been introduced to American readers as recently as 1949:

    In the dimly lighted bar of the sleek Park Hotel, Turkish intelligence agents mingle with American engineers and Balkan refugees, drinking the latest Yankee concoction of vodka and orange juice, called a “screwdriver.”

    I betray my age by referring to 1949 as “recently”.

  9. Old Bostonian | April 1, 2022 at 12:49 am |

    That was from the October 24, 1949 issue of TIME magazine:

  10. “I have also always felt that West Point should be in the Ivy League.”

    This makes sense.

    Right? I will make the case next week. – JB

  11. Otis Brewster Hogbottom III | April 1, 2022 at 3:47 pm |

    If I recall correctly, there were talks about expanding the Ivy League to include Army & Navy in the ’80s. Obviously, we know now that didn’t happen.

  12. The Preppy Handbook author visited my college in the mid 80’s. We wore uniforms with insignia on both shirt collars. Several took that day as an opportunity to create a button down appearance by pinning their shirt collars with said insignia. I vote to include the USNA, USMA, USAFA, VMI, THE Citadel, VTech, and TX A&M…but feel free to exclude VMI if you want.

  13. Expat Yank: my New England-born stepfather and my mother lived WAY upstate in NY for 10 years—Ottawa was the closest city. To visit his family in NH, we actually had to drive south! I miss those days. God bless New England.

  14. Expat Yank: my New England-born stepfather and my mother lived WAY upstate in NY for 10 years—Ottawa was the closest city. To visit his family in NH, we actually had to drive south! I miss those days. God bless New England.

  15. Expat Yank: my NH born stepfather and my mother lived WAY upstate in NY for 10 years—Ottawa was the closest city. To visit his family in NH, we actually had to drive south! I miss those days. God bless New England.

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