Friday Cocktail Hour today is devoted to the memory of my dad, who hated to see guests leave and always asked if they’d stay for a nightcap, saying, “Can I make you a Stinger?”

The Stinger, a cocktail that dates to the early 20th century is a combination of brandy and crème de menthe, indeed a refreshing cocktail after a meal. Rip would have used an inexpensive brandy for this mixed drink and he always served them over crushed ice (we owned an actual crusher that sat on the back kitchen counter next to the toaster oven and the Mr. Coffee). But it’s also a drink, according to The Philadelphia Story (one of my favorite movies), that is a great hair-of-the-dog solution. This I’ve never tried, but surely in the future shall.

My father died of lung cancer in 2008 and I miss him every day. That’s me and him above, when he was a 30-year-old copywriter for the firm Lang, Fisher, and Stashower in Cleveland. The cigarettes that did him in were Luckies (a more tragically ironic name I can’t imagine). He used a Zippo and loved the ashtray above for the way it held his cigarettes. On still Sunday evenings his enormous smoke rings, which enchanted me, seemed to grow as big as hula hoops as they drifted toward Mike Wallace on the television screen (Dad never missed 60 minutes or a Browns game if he could help it). He always carried the pen his brother’s company handed out because he never knew when an idea might strike. And he coached my little league team, The Thors, to a championship victory. But what was even cooler was that even after I outgrew the league, he kept coaching because he loved the kids.

I need to write a book about the cool things my dad did that he didn’t even realize were cool.

Like offer Stingers because he wanted his friends to stay just a little longer. I still remember the first time he asked if Donna (her photo above) would like one. Having never had one, she said, “Sure.”

To Rip and our dear friend Connie Zacher seated beside her, Donna asked, “Why is it called a Stinger?”

Connie lifted her eyebrows and said, “You’ll find out.”

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, especially to those sons who are missing theirs this weekend.

The Stinger

  • 2 ounces brandy
  • 1 ounce crème de menthe
  1. Pour the ingredients into an old-fashioned glass over crushed ice.
  2. Stir with index finger.


If you liked this post on the Stinger, check out these other links:

© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



13 Wonderful responses to “Cocktail Hour: The Stinger
(And Happy Father’s Day!)”

  • Annie

    It’s suddenly very dusty in my office. My dad went from heart trouble in 1992 (I was a very angsty 19 at the time), and I miss him every day. The Stinger is a favorite of my mom’s – dad was a whisk(e)y man until he stopped drinking in 1980 (and spent many of his remaining years helping other people find a way to the sobriety they needed). He also never missed a Browns game.

    Cheers to our fathers, and happy Father’s Day to you!

  • John

    Greatest story yet. I encourage the book totally. My memories of my father are very similar and he would have had it no other way, even in today’s world. Kudos!!

  • Allen

    I’ve never met anyone more sentimental than myself.

    I saved a napkin from a restaurant (the Mar T cafe, aka the Double R diner from Twim Peaks) that my mom took me to when I was about 14.

    And a lot of other items, that any normal person would toss out.

    But you, are nipping at my heals for second place.

    With a dewy eye, cheers!!! I wish you all a happy Friday, and happy Father’s Day.

  • carole

    My Dad and I had our Stingers with a shot of Galliano out our favorite restaurant. Miss you Dad.

  • Lori Rybka

    love the picture & story behind the honor of fathers day on sunday, I will be making my dad a Rusty Nail …his favorite.i’ll have a stinger this weekend in honor of Friday happy hour.

    have a wonderful fathers day Michael!!!!

  • Jeannine

    What a wonderful tribute to your father, and the photo really captures his personality. My father-in-law, who is no longer with us, was also known to offer an after dinner drink. A wonderful host, we miss him. Happy Fathers’ day to all

  • pink salt

    For some reason I always go pinky finger when stirring a drink. I will have to give the index finger a go on my next drink.

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