How is it possible that, in all my time working in golf clubs, no bartender has claimed the transfusion cocktail? A favorite of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the origin of the transfusion is largely unknown.
In this article, I’ll explore this paradox of this cocktail, share why I believe it’s so beloved on courses worldwide, and explain how to incorporate this cocktail in a pop-up bar that appeals to all.
What is a transfusion?
This drink is most popular in golf and country clubs, specifically on the course itself, sold most via beverage cart and halfway house. Because these bars aren’t fully stocked, due to lack of space, bartenders have to get creative.
What’s in a name?
It’s possible that the mix of vodka, grape juice and ginger ale was conceptualized by Eisenhower himself, a known fan of the drink.
My guess is that President Eisenhower asked a beverage attendant what ingredients they had on hand. He heard three ingredients he liked and asked them to throw it in a glass over ice. Then other members followed suit. Why wouldn’t you want to drink what the President of the United States is drinking?
So, why is it called ‘a transfusion’ and not ‘an Eisenhower’?
The name is widely believed to be alluding to a hangover remedy. The vodka serves as ‘hair of the dog.’ Grape juice contains sugar as well as electrolytes. The ginger ale offers carbonation that, with ginger root, helps to soothe nausea. Therefore, this cocktail offers even the most hungover a chance at salvaging the golf round with a life-sustaining transfusion.
What food pairs best?
I consider myself an expert in salty snacks, and I believe Goldfish crackers are the perfect transfusion pairing—yes, those little cheddar-cheese crackers you enjoyed as a child. We have them accessible everywhere around our club. The combination of salt and sugar is key, not too mention the role a lite carbohydrate plays in soothing a sour stomach.
Why is this drink so popular?
The transfusion tastes like freedom.
And there are few times in life when a person enjoys total mental freedom.
When you are a child, enjoying a daily snack of grape juice and Goldfish—that someone else has lovingly prepared for you—there’s not a care in the world.
We have these tastes or some combinations of flavors ingrained into our palate since childhood. So breathe in that nostalgia, take a big sip of your spiked grape juice and a handful of fish—this is the life.
Make it an event
I always like to take a cocktail and see how it can be made into the focal point of an event. A transfusion pop up bar is a no-brainer; however, rather than simply pouring this beloved drink complimentary on the course to passing golfers, I took the formula and expanded on it.
When you break down the components of a transfusion, it can be placed into a subcategory of the sour cocktail family: a fizz. The formula that makes up a fizz is spirit + acidic juice + carbonation. The possibilities are endless.
The popular fizz at my club was created much like the transfusion. Our members, Glen and Sue Sokolis, a husband-and-wife duo, brought the drink to our attention. ‘The Sokolis’ as it’s now known is similar to an orange crush but with fewer ingredients and less sugar. This wildly popular and refreshing cocktail boasts all the taste and benefits of the transfusion with a Vitamin C bonus.
Don’t be surprised when you see a transfusion-inspired fizz bar pop up on the course at Commonwealth National Golf Club. It will have a variety of spirits, juices and carbonation to choose from, complete with a Goldfish sidecar. Whether you need a life-sustaining transfusion to keep you in the game or a taste of freedom from your weekly woes, we’ve got you covered.