There’s a moment in Daniel Handler’s introduction to Bernard DeVoto’s “The Hour” where Handler offers his infant son his first tiny taste of a cocktail. I too have done this – dipped my pinkie into a glass and held it forth for my insistent youngster, his small mouth cupping the scant drop of liquid. In both Handler’s case and in my own, the child’s reaction was the same – a single word mustered up from a tiny vocabulary: “More.”
It’s at that moment that I felt a kinship with Mr. Handler. The psychologists may call it transference or projection, but I knew then that Daniel and I were both playing our parts as middlemen in a greater cocktail saga. We had learned from and been inspired by our fathers, and now, we were seeking to instill the same level of admiration – for us and for drink – in our sons.
With a resume too encompassing to do it justice here – master of the accordion, member of bands including The Magnetic Fields and Danny & the Kid, author of “The Basic Eight”, “Adverbs” and numerous other titles – on these pages, Mr. Handler will simply be the man who wrote the introduction to “The Hour”, and that, in and of itself, is enough. If our places are but to preserve, polish, and pass the baton to the next generation, the oral history of the cocktail has a true Homer in Daniel Handler.