The blood-red Transfusion cocktail helps shape the kind of memories that make life more joyful

Transfusion cocktail

A series of Transfusions — a mix of vodka, ginger ale and grape juice — at a 2019 member-guest more than made up for laughably poor golf.

Jeffrey Westbrook

It started as a lark but ended up providing three days of rejuvenation that I have drawn upon for amusement during the pox upon our global house. While lingering over quarantinis and watching Tiger win the 2020 Masters, I hearkened to the joie de vivre summer of 2019. I was back in Philly, playing in a junior member-guest with my nephew and good pal Jack. I led the field in geezer by 20 years. 

Warm-up rounds seemed prudent. Ten summers had passed since I’d swung a club with intent. Two of my favorite people and drinking companions — brother Tim and buddy Bates — heeded my call. On the 1st green the weather alarm beckoned our return to the men’s locker house bar. Given the all clear an hour later, we’d just struck tee shots at the 2nd when the siren song hailed us back for the duration. As a monsoon hammered the natural world without, a perfect day evolved within — warm and dry, merrily we drank and nonsense we did talk. 

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Sun shone the next day, another opportunity for a warm-up round. Toward noon (any time between 6:01 a.m. and 11:59 a.m.), pre-round stretching began as I reached for a Transfusion — a mix of vodka, ginger ale and grape juice — and ended several Transfusions later when I took my final pre-opening-tee-shot sip. Presently, Jackie Boy and I joined nephew Brian on the tee. A month hence, Brian would win the club’s championship in a run that included a comically brilliant birdie-birdie-eagle-eagle (3-3-1-3) stretch to close out his semifinal opponent. During our chill round, however, Brian produced something more amazing — a wireless audio speaker that proved something I’ve long held to be true: Golf, drinking and music make a very sexy threesome. This may well be a thing now, but after a dormant decade it was new to me, and triggered memories of being chased from a public course for listening to The Cars’ debut album on a battery-powered 8-track player while playing air guitar on a Ben Hogan Speed Slot driver. It’s not the perfume that you wear, it’s not the ribbons in yourrrrr hairrrrrrr! 

A few holes in, despite being looser than a politician’s relationship with the truth, it emerged that I could not hit any iron with a full swing. Caddie Sean and I decided that for the three nine-hole matches the following day we would carry only driver, 5-wood, sand wedge, putter and a middle-iron in case a punch from the trees was called for. (It wasn’t.) Yes, I am that bloody good. 

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On the third day, I did rise, which was miraculous after two heavy sessions, and I did fire. It was quite hot. A blister on my right forefinger spoke to gangrene. Jack, a prince, had knowingly sacrificed being competitive in exchange for frequent laughs. Our opponents dispatched us with ease, but visits to strategically sited Transfusion stations on the course imbued us with energy and good humor. These oases were never far off, and their large Gatorade coolers filled with Transfusions were life sustaining. I was struck by the genuine bonhomie demonstrated toward me by the young men who were not my nephews, and who surely had never played against an old fool with just five clubs in his bag. A few took to calling me Uncle Mike, and on meeting the wife of one at post-golf festivities, she said, “Oh, you’re Uncle Mike.” This young lady was brilliant. I had learned this earlier in the day while briefly cooling off between matches at the bar in the men’s locker house. Her husband, whom with his partner had just minutes prior vanquished Team Jack and Ass, zipped in and asked the barman for a cold Pedialyte. “My wife’s idea,” he said. “She knows if I drink all day I’ll be a puddle when she gets here tonight, so she sent the Pedialyte along with me this morning.”

Jack has mentioned a possible return to the scene of the crime this summer, with me as caddie for him and his partner. Should that come to pass in a post-plague scenario, it will no doubt strengthen my conviction that shared experiences on the playing fields and in the bars of golf are the core of our game. Scores — and for that matter, even playing — be damned. 

With only three ingredients, a Transfusion is easy to make.

How to join the IV league

Despite their name, Transfusions should be consumed orally, not injected. Technically, it is also not true that Transfusions are life-sustaining elixirs — they just seem that way under the right circumstances. As far as anyone seems to know, the drink began life as a hangover remedy, perhaps for those who don’t like tomato juice. Here’s how you make one: 

Fill 3/4 of a glass with crushed ice. At home, go highball. On the course, red Solo (1, above). Spill in 4 oz or so quality vodka (2)—although you might be able to get away with Nikolai if you’re making a cooler’s worth. 

Fill the rest of your glass with ginger ale (3), saving room for 1 oz grape juice (4). 

Add 1 oz grape juice (duh). Stir. Drink. 

Give a squeeze of lime if that’s your thing.

Swirl around in the glass, have another sip, repeat.

Hey, who drank my Transfusion? 

Make another. 

Michael Corcoran would consider going to church again if they switched out Communion wine for Transfusions.

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