Do something for enough years and you get a little complacent; even a little smug. Anything that comes up, you can handle. But what if your editor asks for a cocktail “inspired by Punxsutawney Phil”? Of course you say yes; you’re a professional, damn it. But I don’t even think groundhogs drink cocktails. From what I hear, they’re more into wild grasses, nuts and berries, chased down with the occasional grub or grasshopper. Still, I’ll bet Phil wouldn’t turn his nose up at an Old Fashioned or a Mai Tai.
On second thought, get him started on retro cocktails and he’ll be sporting sleeve-garters and a startling array of tribal tattoos. That just doesn’t bear thinking about. Let’s leave Phil out of it and focus on the Punxsutawney part. It’s in western Pennsylvania, which used to be rye whiskey country. You’d think that there might be some sort of whiskey-based “Punxsutawney Cocktail” on the bench waiting to be sent into the scrimmage. But life’s not that simple. For such a big, wet state, Pennsylvania has been shockingly lax at creating drinks. Of all the true classics—the Cocktail Immortals—the only one from the Keystone State is the Clover Club. But there’s one more that almost made it.
In 1934, the Queen Elizabeth, invented by Herbert L. Quick, head bartender at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Hotel, won a nationwide cocktail contest. This delightful drink, named for Quick’s wife and not the monarch, deserves a second chance. It’s one of the most delightfully spring-like creations I know—as bright and delicately perfumed as the tender blossoms of May. Come to think of it, there are worse things to be drinking on a Groundhog Day.