Fern Bar Fridays: A Gathering of the Coven with the Sisters of the Moon

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today, and throughout the month of October, we’re celebrating the season of the witch with "Sisters of the Moon" by Fleetwood Mac.

Sometimes, on particularly stormy days, Bruce—the afternoon bartender at Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head—and I get to talkin’ about which Fleetwood Mac song is the ferniest of their catalogue. We never truly reach a consensus, and likely never will, though "Second Hand News" always gets a STRONG BUY from me. But it’s our game and we enjoy it. Before long the handwringing and rending of (gauzy, flowing) garments begins as we struggle with what’s known as Rita’s Choice: faced with only one option, which Stevie-on-lead-vocals song would you keep: "Gypsy" or "Rhiannon"?

It’s unpossible to choose and so, after an hour or so of the aforementioned wringing and rending, we generally agree to pour another glass of chablis, toss a few ice cubes in and not think on such a troublesome topic any longer and opt instead to wax poetic over the incomparable Stevieness of "Sisters of the Moon."

To wit:

When performed live, the song would usually go for over 8 minutes in length. A very well known example of this performance is the Mirage Tour version, 1982. The performance is referred to as the ‘speaking in tongues‘ performance in which Stevie Nicks delivers the song’s coda in such an intense, gravelly manner that her words become indecipherable. 

The tongues come in at ’round about the six minute mark (and please don’t miss poor Christine McVie trying to keep things positive with her lavender lei-adorned mic stand). But if you’re the anxious sort, allow me to crush a quaalude up into your Harvey Wallbanger point you to this version, which has been conveniently cued up to the exact point at which La Steve begins wailing on the cowbell, right before she gets into it with the tongues.

We should also probably take a moment to discuss why Lindsey Buckingham was dressed like an itinerant farmer wearing his Sunday best. Also open for discussion: Do you think the sisters of the moon ever squabble amongst themselves?

If the tongues are a bit much for your delicate constitution, let me pour you a spritzer and offer up this version, from the 1975 Tusk tour documentary, features a seemingly sedated Stevie keeping time on a cowbell.

If you’d like to work yourself into a state of sedation, a la Stevie, may I offer you today’s signature cocktail?

Creme De Moonthe

½ oz white creme de menthe
1½ oz Georgia Moon corn whiskey
1 dash lemon juice

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake all ingredients together and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a plug of sage for its cleansing properties and a sprig of lavender because Stevie would want it that way. Dipping your sleeves in the drink: optional, but highly recommended.

And finally, a small programming note: Rita’s will be closed for renovations in November. Roger Cook promises that he and the crew will have the place winterized by December, but you know how contractors are.

 

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Fern Bar Fridays: Howlin’ At The Moon With Warren Zevon

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today, and throughout the month of October, we’re celebrating the season of the witch with "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon.

Warren Zevon holds a special place in the heart of the staff at Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head. We like to think of Warren as the prototypical Rita’s patron—quirky glasses, a personality that leans toward ornery but which escapes full-on bad humorism with a sparkling wit and a penchant for a good time, if you know what I mean and I think you do, and a really good head of hair. Love a good head of hair. I would give anything to be able to get tanked on piña coladas (and scorpion bowls) at Trader Vic’s with Mister Zevon. Alas, both are gone now, off somewhere in the great fern bar in the sky.

Linda Ronstadt, who we’ve discussed before and is, as you know, the Patron Saint of the Fern Bar, covered a number of Zevon’s songs including "Carmelita" and, notably, "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" which features probably my all-time favorite stanza in song:

Well I met a man out in Hollywood
Now I ain’t naming names
Well he really worked me over good
Just like Jesse James
Yes he really worked me over good
He was a credit to his gender
Put me through some changes Lord
Sort of like a Waring blender

We named the Waring Blender we use to make the coladas “Linda.” Joanne, our best waitress, likes to holler, "GIT ‘EM GOIN’, LIN!!" when she’s on frozen drinks duty. Bertie once sent me a birthday card expressing the sentiment that I was a credit to my gender. It still hangs on the bulletin board in the Rita’s back office, so touched was I by it.

But back to "Werewolf": The Dead often played this song during their Halloween shows, a fact which does nothing more than make me fall to the floor, rending my garments and pleading with the sweet lord to let Phish cover it.

(The above is, to say the very least, an unpopular opinion at the fern bar.)

And then there’s this line from Warren’s wikipedia article, which makes me want to do nothing other than shove my entire fist down my throat: “By September 1975, Zevon had returned to Los Angeles,where he roomed with then-unknown Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.”

#mouthfist #mouthfist #mouthfist

(Also both John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are featured, playing bass and drums, respectively, on "Werewolves" which deserves a keyboard smash made up entirely of sevens and threes because those numbers are spoo0ooky just like werewolves. 73773737737737373737373777373737377437373737737373737. (How’d that four get in there? GET OUTTA THERE, FOUR.))

This clip of "Werewolf" was chosen mostly because the concert takes place in Passaic, New Jersey, and even though Jersey generally is about as un-ferny a place as you’ll find, Passaic gets a pass because the name is such a delight to say. Pass-aaaaaaaaaaa-ic! What fun!

Also the concert takes place in 1982 and, good God damn, ’82 was a great year for ferns.

Our weekly drink pairing is a delightful brew called the Howlin’ Wolf. Might I suggest you serve your Howlin’ Wolves in one of these?

werewolf glasses

Howlin’ Wolf:

½ oz vodka
½ oz white creme de menthe
1 oz blue curacao
Sprite

Pour spirits in a glass. Add some ice and fill up with Sprite. Spear a blue cherry with a cocktail sword. Warren would have wanted it that way.

I love this drink because 1) the name and 2) the blue curacao. God, I love blue curacao. Arrr-oooo!
 

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Fern Bar Fridays: Casting Spells With Steve Miller and CCR

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today, and throughout the month of October, we’re celebrating the season of the witch with: "Abracadabra" by the Steve Miller Band and "I Put A Spell On You" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Last week we kicked off our Hallowe’en festivities down at Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head, and this week we’re continuing to spook ourselves the frond out. And oh boy, do we ever have a treat for you! Because today, for the first time, I get to spin a yarn for you about one of our regulars!

We have the greatest regulars, you guys.

Roger Cook is one of our best customers, and I’ll admit to having a soft spot for him. Sadly for me, he’s got a real thing for Joanne, our most reliable and competent waitress. Cute tush on ‘er too. Of course, Roger doesn’t know that Joanne was born as "Randy" and we all made a pact not to let on. We figure it’s best that way. Plus, we’re all too busy snickering behind our hands when Roger works himself into a good one over Bruce, our afternoon bartender. Roger haaaaaaaaaates Bruce—calls him "that scrawny ginger" and is forever putting him in what he calls "a friendly headlock" or threatening to treat him to an atomic wedgie. It’s bad form, as an employer, to encourage this sort of harassment. But it’s unendingly hilarious to watch Bruce get all angry and red-in-the-face so I mostly just don’t say much of anything at all.

Our Roger loves the Steve Miller Band and gets exasperated with us when someone (Bruce) puts on what he calls "that namby-pamby Alan Parsons-type music you all like so much." He’s a rock’n’roller, old Roge.

Roger likes to wax nostalgic when "Abracadabra" comes on—he was at this show, having found himself in Belgium for reasons he never fully explains to us—and sometimes, when he’s deep into his cups, he’ll reach out and try to grab Joanne. We forgive him that trespass, even Joanne (who, frankly, secretly likes it) because we’re all—well, all except for Bruce—so overly fond of Roger, and often will even cede control of the jukebox to him on the nights he’s in and let him play some of his favorite classic rock songs. Though I’m quick to remind him that it’s rightfully Proto-Fern, I certainly never protest when he gets into it with the CCR, especially not at this time of year, when he inevitably saunters up to the "music machine," as he calls it much to my delight, pops in a few dimes, turns over his shoulder to give me a wink, and cues up "I Put A Spell On You."

He’s a lover, that Roger. He’s also a joker, a toker and a midnight smoker. (He makes me say that every time.)(He also always informs me he has that same Mickey Mouse tee Doug "Cosmo" Clifford wore at Woodstock. I smile and nod and pour him another Schlitz in response.)

Despite Roger’s quirks, he really is indispensable to us down at Rita’s. He helps out with minor repairs when Bertie needs to be put down for a two-day nap, or just won’t come out of his shed; he’s great at coaxing the cats down from trees; and he’s the only one of us brave enough to handle the dry ice for the Halloween punch.

And oh! Our Halloween punch! It’s a delightful witches brew, served in a cauldron.

6 oz. lime Jello
2 cups boiling water
3 cups pineapple juice
2 liters gingerale
3 cups vodka

Put the powdered Jello into a large bowl and slowly stir in the boiling water; stir for 2 minutes, which will seem like an eternity but is absolutely necessary, until the Jello powder is completely dissolved. Stir in the pineapple juice and let come up to room temperature. Pour into a large plastic punch bowl and add the vodka and gingerale. Chill and/or add ice as desired.

Place the punch bowl into a plastic cauldron with a circumference of about an inch more than your punch bowl. Using tongs or heavy duty gloves so as not to get burned on ice, which would be so embarrassing to explain to people, place 5-10 small chunks of dry ice into the cauldron, and cover with hot water to create a "smoking" effect.

Serve in a seasonally appropriate glass, and don’t forget to reach out and grab the lucky recipient with a flourish and an "ABRA-ABRA-CADABRA!"
 

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Fern Bar Fridays: Kicking Off October With His and Hers Magic Man, Witchy Woman Cocktails

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today, and throughout the month of October, we’re celebrating the season of the witch with: "Magic Man" by Heart and "Witchy Woman" by The Eagles.

It’s a busy time down at Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head. There are costumes to begin preparing, and cobwebs to hang, and pumpkin punch bowls in need of carving and oh! I’m just all a’fuss. You can’t even imagine what it’s like trying to keep the gang in line: Bertie has to be constantly monitored because every year he insists on being in charge of making the pressed leaves except he fritters off to that shed of his and forgets that he’s left the iron on and every. single. year. the fire department shows up to find an unattended pile of smoldering leaves, issues us a citation, and then the guys hang around waiting for a couple of chicken, grape and champagne pies to go.

One thing that I never worry about is putting together our annual Spooky Fern playlist. The era of the frond, she was a good one for spooktacular tunes. So good, in fact, that we won’t even come close to touching on all the songs we like to fire up during this most wonderful time of the year. (The rest of you can have Christmas. I’ll be facedown in the eggnog if you need me at any point in December.)

In order to account for the embarrassment of riches we’re faced with during this magical and marvelous time, this week we’re bringing you a Rita’s Twofer with "Magic Man" by Heart and "Witchy Woman" by The Eagles. They make a cute couple, don’t you think?

We’ll start with "Magic Man" because I know you know that there’s no way in hell that I’m going to let the Wilson sisters take a backseat to Don Henley, last worthless evenings be damned. And there are… some things about this video that we need to discuss. Can someone holler at Joanne to bring over a round of gimlets? Thanks.

This video has inspired my to take a page out of Frond of the Fern Bar Katie Baker’s playbook and begin to institute a scoring system of sorts to measure the relative ferniness of a given video or performance clip. To wit:

+17 for the dry ice.
-3 for Ann Wilson’s maternity-looking outfit.
+33 for the star pattern on Ann Wilson’s maternity-looking outfit.
+2,100 for Roger Fisher’s white satin half-blouse tied at the midriff.

Sadly, for old Don—and as an aside I cannot WAIT until we get into the later fern bar era and discuss Glenn Frey’s work as a solo artist because by “discuss” I of course mean “stare at photos of a sockless and pastel-clad Don Johnson”—the available video clips for "Witchy Woman" didn’t work out so well for The Eagles in terms of this new competitive time.

-7,000,000 for that creepy hand bird AHHHHHHHH GET IT OUT OF THE BAR GET IT OUT OF THE BAR BIRDS ARE BAD LUCK GET IT OUT OUT OUT!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry for the outburst. It’s just that that creepy bird hand terrifies me for several thousand reasons, and not in the fun Hallowe’en-y way either. But then again, I’m Italianish, which means I’m predisposed to be distrusting and fearful of birds.

You know what would soothe me? A nice, stiff drink. In honor of our very first Two-fer Fern Bar Fridays, let’s make like an antiquated Frenchman and reinforce casual ’70s sexism and gender essentialism with His and Hers Cocktails! And what could be more seasonally appropriate than His and Hers Ghoulishly Green Spirits?

   

For Him: Absinthe

Ingredients & Tools:

Absinthe
A wide fluted glass
An absinthe spoon
Sugar
A carafe or pitcher full of ice-cold water

Pour an ounce of absinthe into the glass. Place the absinthe spoon over the rim of the glass and place the sugar cube on top of it.

Pour a small amount of water onto the sugar; when the sugar cube is saturated, allow it to sit for a minute or so, until it begins to dissolve on its own. Then start pouring a very thin stream of water slowly onto the sugar cube. Continue pouring slowly until the sugar cube dissolves completely and serve.

 

For Her: Midori Sour

1 oz Midori liqueur
1 oz. vodka
1 ½ oz. sweet and sour mix
Maraschino cherries and cocktail umbrellas for garnish

Pour Midori and vodka into a cocktail shaker filled with ice; add the sweet and sour mix and shake to combine. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass filled halfway with crushed ice. Spear a maraschino cherry or three on a cocktail sword, garnish and serve.

 

Spooky and delicious! And casually sexist. The perfect thing to celebrate A Very Fern Bar Halloween.

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Fern Bar Fridays: Overcelebrating the Autumnal Equinox with Earth, Wind & Fire

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today we’re throwing a rager to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox with: "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Do you remember the 21st night of September? If so, you’re doing a whole hell of a lot better than me and the rest of the gang down at Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head. Oh man. We spent all last week preparing for our annual celebration of the Autumnal Equinox on Friday, in which we dress up as the 52 current and former members of Earth, Wind & Fire, mix a batch of Rita’s Famous Falldown Punch and seek to secure blessings from the High Priestess of the Fern Bar, Stevie Nicks, through the ritual sacrifice of white winged doves and gauzy sleeves removed from summer garments.

Other activities include a gourd throwing shot put competition and a broom balancing contest and oh! The fun we have!

The thing is… this year Louise, the scrawny and freckled waitress who we keep on because she’s super dependable but who we disdain for utterly lacking in personality and meanly refer to as Holly Hobby behind her back, got it in her mind that we should offer 151 floaters for the punch, and also spiked the whipped cream with applejack and basically we all woke up sometime on Saturday afternoon splayed out on the shag carpeting, fan chair and glossy chocolate brown jacuzzi tub in the Rita’s bathroom covered in feathers.

It was a rough recovery.

Still though, it was totally worth it. I mean, our night basically looked and felt exactly like this:

(Also do you think that Bobby Brown knows that the two backup dancers in the black outfits have absconded with the entirety of the wardrobe from the My Prerogative tour? I worry for Bobby sometimes. And other times I just bellow "Bob-AAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY" at my walls in tribute to the late, great Whitney Houston.)

Now then, about that punch. As I am a woman of my word, I’m following through on my Labor Day weekend promise that I would endeavour to bring you a cider-based cocktail to ring in the coming of Fall. And do you ever have a whole bunch of things to look forward to now that the weather is growing colder and the days are getting shorter, because I love the Fall in that special way that New Englanders do. Come October we’ll be devoting the entire month to all things spooky, and come November we might even start sharing recipes from Rita’s Cookbook! The possibilities are endless, really, when it comes to the Autumnal experience.

Rita’s Famous Falldown Punch

2 cups rum
4 cups apple cider
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
6 cloves
Bacardi 151
Applejack whipped cream (optional)

Punch:

Poke the cloves into the orange to make a pomander. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Serve warm in an Irish coffee mug, with a 151 floater if so desired and a cinnamon stick for garnish and a dollop of applejack whipped cream (recipe to follow).

Applejack whipped cream:

½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon applejack

In a medium-size metal bowl, whip together the cream, sugar and applejack until thick.

Right then gang, sharpen your pumpkin carving knives and get ready to have some real fun. We’ll be back to our regular posting schedule in October, once we’ve recovered from this hangover. And figure out where we left our sequined vest.
 

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Fern Bar Fridays: Kenny and Dolly, From One Lover to Another

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today we’re singing in two-part harmony with: "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

What really is there to even be said about "Islands in the Stream" that hasn’t been said before in Tiffany lamp-lit saloons the world ’round? Show me the person who doesn’t like "Islands in the Stream" and I’ll show you a person who has lost all capacity for joy.

Dolly is an angel from heaven; this fact is well established. Everything she’s got is the best: the best voice, the best disposition, the best hair, the best boobs. Oh golly Lady Dolly, how I yearn to snuggle up to your bosom for just one sweet, perfect moment. And that’s not even remotely all of her many charms! Have you ever taken a gander at the list of instruments that Dolly plays? Sweet fiddleheads in broth, she’s a one-woman fern bar band! To wit: vocals, guitar, banjo, autoharp, piano, drums, Appalachian dulcimer, harmonica, pennywhistle, recorder, fiddle, bass guitar, saxophone.

THE APPALACHIAN DULCIMER, YOU GUYS.

As for Kenny Rogers? He can Roger my Roaster any day of the week and twice on Sundays. And the song? The song is sublime. In every possible way. I mean, it was written by the Bee Gees, and when Kenny and Dolly perform it live they do so in formalwear.

I’m utterly enamoured of their formalwear. I’m also, obviously, utterly enamoured of Dolly’s onstage cheek and banter.

The song title is, of course, inspired by the posthumously published Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway. We keep a copy of it at Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head—and also by now don’t you all know what Rita’s is?? Sweet ferny Moses, haven’t you been paying attention? Do I have to repeat myself every week? (No, no, you haven’t. And yes, yes, I do. Because you’re not really supposed to have to pay attention to the things that go down at Rita’s. It’s a fern bar, you’re supposed to get blitzed on amaretto-based cocktails and whatever color pill Bertie is handing out that night.)—on the shelf right next to the bust of Abraham Lincoln and our tattered copy of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle Dictionary.

Now then. In keeping with the new tradition we’ve established at Rita’s, and in a nod to Dolly’s, ahem, ample bounty, I must address the fact that resident sawfly Miles Klee has once again plum ticked me off. And, as such, is back outside shivering in his stupid sweater. What, you may ask, has Miles done this week? Well, I’ll tell you: he’s gone and issued edicts about proper usage of the terms ‘tit’ and ‘boob’:

Compliment your girlfriend on her “boobs,” however, and you may not get to touch them fora while. The bedroom is where “tits” come into play. It’s the dirtier, more intimate word, and as such will turn up in all manner of breathless naked imperatives: “____ my tits,” a woman might say, never “____ my boobs.”

First of all, unlike everything about Kenny and Dolly, this is just WRONG. You may indeed compliment me on my ‘boobs’. (Seriously, go ahead. I’m quite pleased with my boobs and would be delighted to know that you are as well! My boyfriend does it all the time and I hope he never, ever stops, even when my boobs are hovering somewhere around my waistline.)

Second of all, you don’t get to make up rules about what people can and cannot say in the bedroom. Sorry. ‘Tit’ is not part of my sexytime lexicon. ‘Giraffe pussy’ might work its way in there, but never ‘tit.’

And finally, absolutely under no circumstances never ever ever do you get to expound on what a woman may or may not say. Just in general. To put it in Jezebelian terms—OH YES, I’M GOING THERE. You mess with the fern, you get the fronds, Klee—you’re "universalizing about how everyone feels." To put it in JolieKerrian terms: Knock that malarky off and busy yourself with something useful, like bringing me fresh ice for my wine spritzer. Or better yet, get to cracking on making me one of these babies:

Island Affair

1 ¼ oz. melon liqueur
½ oz. Cointreau
1 ½ oz. orange juice
2 oz. mango juice
⅓ oz. blue curacao
1 oz. whipped cream

Shake the melon liqueur, Cointreau, orange juice and mango juice together and strain into a pina colada glass filled a bit more than halfway up with crushed ice. Add the curacao, and then float the whipped cream on top. Garnish with bar fruit and serve with two straws.

Offer your date a sip through your extra straw. No one in between. From one lover to another. Uh-uh.

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Fern Bar Fridays: Exile Wants to Creep You All Over

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today we watch as the skin crawls clear off our bodies with: "Kiss You All Over" by Exile.

There’s a great debate that rages between the co-owners of Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head, over the merits of today’s selection for Fern Bar Fridays. The men-who-love-men among us insist that "Kiss You All Over" by Exile is the greatest song ever recorded. The rest of us, i.e. me, feel that it is among the creepiest tunes out there.

We may, perhaps, all be correct.

I’m not sure how, exactly, to describe to you the particular feeling of being so totally creeped the frond out I get when I hear "Kiss You All Over," but I’ll put it this way: if the song were an advertisement for men’s underpants, here’s how it would look:

So creepy, right? Can you feel the skin crawling off your body? Because I sure can! And we haven’t even gotten into it with the band itself, though we’re going to right now with this 1979 video for the song—which, I hasten to add, uses the word "lover" in the lyrics and eew eew eew creeeeeepsicles—which features fourteen pairs of lips, not counting the ones on the band members, that don’t resemble actual lips so much as they resemble slugs who have been getting intimate with red-dyed pistachios.

I’m pretty sure Marlon Hargis, the chap on keyboards, has already plotted my killing and, having purchased the necessary items (pipe clearing gel, a pair of pliers, a skein of rope and a bottle of Designer Imposters Mascolino men’s fragrance), is lying in wait for me somewhere just around the corner from my office. Which is terrible, because I don’t want to die in Turtle Bay.

Would you like to learn more about Marlon? Well who wouldn’t? Please to step right this way and take a gander at Exile’s official website, the about section of which opens with this [emphasis mine]:

Great pains have been taken to make the bio below the most accurate and complete of any ever written on the long, glorious history of Exile. We have broken it down so you can take in as much as you like. A lot can happen in 40 years.

As with any collective endeavor, there is the overall story and there are the individual stories of the participants. Each of the guys has written about their particular part in a section we are calling “In Their Own Words.” You can either go to that section immediately by hitting the link just below this introduction or read through the whole bio and then peruse the individual accounts.

Either way we appreciate your visit and your interest. We would love to hear any memories you have of encounters with Exile. Whether it was attending shows, autograph sessions or other chance meetings, let us know how their music came into your life.

Nope. Nothing creepy there. Nothing creepy at all. (Totally creepy.) (Also they have a dot biz URL which is just so sketchy.) Sorry but what? Why the vague and coded language? What the hell happened in 40 years that we need to be presented with multiple versions of the truth, guys? As for the "memories … of encounters with Exile" I presume the entirety of their submissions are from groupies eager to tell tall tales of on-the-road romps with lead singer and professional creeptard Jimmy Stokley. (He’s passed into the great fern bar in the sky, which I suppose means that I’m speaking ill of the dead, but seriously, you watched that video too. I’m not wrong here!)

Since we’re on the topic of Exile groupies, I think it’s time to introduce you to the drink pairing that goes  along with "Kiss You All Over" because it strikes me as the ultimate groupie drink. It’s so freaking creepy, you guys. Oh man, and? I secretly think it sounds delicious. Also, it’s a pousse café! Oh, how the gang down at Rita’s loves a pousse café.

Buttery Nipple with a Cherry Kiss

½ oz. butterscotch schnapps
½ oz Irish cream
1 teaspoon cherry liqueur
1 cherry

Layer the Irish cream on top of the butterscotch schnapps. Next, place a cherry on top of a spoon, and pour the cherry liqueur over the cherry into the shot.

The instructions don’t specify what, exactly, to do with the cherry, so I’d suggest eating it right off the spoon before you serve it to the person who ordered the drink. You know, to really class the place up.

Fern Bar Fridays: Saying Goodbye to Summer With Seals and Crofts

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. Today we say a fond farewell to the warm weather months with: "Summer Breeze’" by Seals and Crofts.

As we approach Labor Day and the shuttering up of summer—down at Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head, we don’t observe formalities like the official September 22nd end of summer (which I think we can all agree is just wrong and wrong and WRONG) (though, obviously, the Autumnal Equinox is extraordinarily ferny. But for us, and by us I mean me and my imaginary group of friends down at Rita’s, the Autumnal Equinox kicks off Hallowe’en season, which denotes the coming of holiday festivities, Hallowe’en being, of course, the High Holy Day of the fluid and inclusive religion we practice down at the fern bar)—this week’s pick for Fern Bar Fridays captures that feeling of wistfulness at the passing of another season. It’s "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Crofts, and oh, in the pantheon of fern bar songs there are only a very, very few that can rival "Summer Breeze" in terms of sheer ferniness. "Chevy Van" is one. "Sister Golden Hair" is another. I mention those songs in particular because I’ve cast about wildly for a drink pairing to go along with them, so as to highlight them in this series but I’ve come up woefully empty glass’ed. It’s not all cocktail parasols and beer cheese down at the fern bar, you know; we have our moments of quiet struggle, too.

I’m super digging the beret (beret? That’s not a beret. That’s a…how you say? Newsboy cap? Yes? Oh who the frond knows or cares, we’re all half blitzed on quaaludes and white wine anyway) on Jim Seals, though I feel a bit sad because I think he must be wearing it out of shame. His hair! It really has nothing on Dash Crofts’s hair, does it? Dash Crofts, man. Now that’s a head of ferny hair. Of course that cap makes no sense when you’re talking about summer breezes, which leads me to believe that Jim Seals is as ready for Fall as I am.

Now then, since we’re on the topic of Fall, I understand that certain others of my BlackBook brethren have busied themselves with the egregious maligning of New Englanders and our COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE love of cider and roaring fires. Isn’t that just like a fucking novelist from New Jersey? I’m a writer of non-fiction from Boston, and therefore clearly a far superior creature. (Lest anyone think I’m being remotely serious here: I write about barf splatters and sexual stains. It’s hardly lofty research I’m conducting.) To counteract this vicious assault against the region of my people, as we move into the Autumn months, I’ll endeavor to track down some ferny cider-based cocktails to enjoy by a roaring fire. And I won’t share any of them with Miles. He can shiver outside the doors of Rita’s in his damn sweater for all I care. (Oh fine, you caught me, I’m actually a total softie—"JUST LIKE A SWEATER, THAT JOLIE," that’s what they say about me. (They do not say that about me.)—and it’s come to my attention that my fellow columnist is experiencing a spot of financial difficulty, so allow me to share my secret for getting loose real, real fast: pop a Xanax washed down by a Riunite spritzer or four. Ain’t nothing gonna hurt after hitting up that perfect combo.)

But back to the season we’re still stuck with, at least for the time being. The drink pairing I’ve selected to go along with "Summer Breeze" evokes the notes of jasmine blowing through our collective minds. It’s called the Jasmine. Yeah I know, but it came out of the Playboy Bartender’s Guide that we keep on the shelf at Rita’s, right next to the Connect Four, Scrabble and our tattered copy of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (In October, we take turns reading it aloud to/scaring the bejesus out of one another.)

Jasmine

1 ½ oz. gin
¼ oz. Cointreau
¼ oz. Campari
¾ oz. lemon juice
lemon peel

Stir with cracked ice, strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass, twist lemon peel over drink, and drop into glass.

You won’t, not in a million years, catch me drinking such a thing, as gin makes me mean. (Well. Meaner.) But those of you for whom gin doesn’t have a debilitating effect on your personality are highly encouraged to enjoy this while Campari is still an acceptable thing to quaff, and the final few summer breezes blow through the jasmine in your mind.

Fern Bar Fridays: Playing Blue With the Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Welcome to Fern Bar Fridays, a lighthearted romp (is there any other kind?) through a decade of cool music and even cooler drinks. The fern bar era, which roughly spanned 1975-1985, was filled with giant lapels and ties (and then later teeny tiny lapels and ties), ridiculous drinks, and sweet sounds. Every Friday we’ll bring you a song and drink pairing emblematic of that delightful time to help you get the weekend started off on the right loafer-sans-sock-shod foot. This week we’re playing blue with: "Jackie Blue" by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

This week’s tune, "Jackie Blue" by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, is a bit more esoteric, fernishly speaking, than the previous selections, which means that we’re gonna have some real fun here. Esoterism really brings out my crazy. (Those of you who have been following along just recoiled in horror at the thought that I’m capable of more crazy than I’ve already exhibited in this series.)

I’m mildly obsessed with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils because as an impressionable adolescent I read this batshit insane V. C. Andrews series (i.e. all of them) about a family of mountain people (though they were in West Virginia, which makes them Appalachian folk) that sparked a lifelong interest in American mountain culture. The conceit of the story, as I recall it, was that a beautiful girl, Heaven, grew up in a mountain shanty cabin with an abusive father and a devoted brother, having lost her mother as a child. In one scene that’s stuck with me for reasons that I’m about to get into, Heaven and her brother, owing to their extreme mountain folk poverty—and here, we should commend old V. C. for peddling in damning geographical stereotypes—steal groceries out of the trunk of a woman’s car as she unloads her weekly marketing into her home. They discover that Heaven has snagged a bag full of non-foodstuffs, including tinfoil, which with she is utterly fascinated, having never known the luxury of a roll of Reynolds Wrap. Can’t say I blame her. Tinfoil is pretty righteous, unlike that bastard cling wrap. Cripes, what a little asshole cling wrap is. Nary a wisp of cling wrap is allowed in Rita’s, the imaginary fern bar that exists in my head. And if you so much as think about trying to sneak some past me, I will suffocate you with the very substance with which you’ve so sullied my fern bar by bringing across its threshold.

While I’ve already worked through my complicated feelings toward cling wrap (after having spent some serious time exploring my complicated feelings about Michael McDonald), I’m still coming to grips with the fact that, while the lyrics are completely and totally and obviously about a woman, I’ve always pictured Jackie Blue as a man. What can I say, I’m not the sharpest frond on the fern. But intellectual prowess is hardly called for in order to enjoy the "Jackie Blue" experience; the song rhymes "ooh" with "blue" while somewhere in the distance Carly Simon clicks her tongue and rolls her eyes and is all "Well, it’s no ‘cravat’ and ‘gavotte,’ and that’s all I have to say about that."

Drummer Larry Lee actually performs vocals on this song, and I chose this video over the other options out there because of his sweet CANNABIS drum kit plaque. But I’m a little confused as to why in this performance he’s on piano duties? What in the good Frond’s name is going on with you, Ozark Mountain Daredevils?? (Actually? Don’t answer that. I feel that we’re all better off not knowing.)

Instead of asking so many questions, let’s just get hammered. This week’s drink pairing is something called the "Blue Angel" that I found in the Playboy Bartender’s Guide that we keep on the shelf at Rita’s, right next to the Connect Four, Scrabble and our tattered copy of Vance Randolph’s Pissing in the Snow and Other Ozark Folktales.

Blue Angel

½ oz. Blue Curaçao
½ oz. Parfait d’Amour
½ oz. brandy
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. heavy cream

Shake well with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

First of all, what even is Parfait d’Amour? To the wikipedia! Oh dear…it turns out that Parfait d’Amour is a liqueur with a curaçao base, flavoured with rose petals, vanilla and almonds. And also? IT’S PURPLE. So if I understand this correctly, I’m to mix a purple liqueur with a blue liqueur, then add some brandy, then top that all off with the stomach turning combination of lemon juice and heavy cream? Do you know what happens when you mix lemon juice and heavy cream? It makes something akin to buttermilk and BLEEEEEEERRRRGGGGGGG buttermilk, you guys. Buttermilk is so, so, so, so, so gross.

According to the Guide it’s "Cool and incredibly smooth." According to my sense of self-preservation it’s "Revolting and something you should never, ever drink."