A Bottle of White. A Bottle of Red.
Meriwether Lewis visited Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia on the eve of his big journey with the Corps of Discovery. Lewis was the team’s de facto doctor, and he learned at the feet of Dr. Rush.
Dr. Rush was a big fan of a special kind of medicine: purgatives. Things that, when ingested, gave the victim a big ole case of the runs. His favorite purgative was a pill of his own creation.
The Thunderclapper. (Just imagine where it got its name.)
Dr. Rush believed the Corps of Discovery needed to purge often. He sent hundreds of his poopy pills along with Lewis. At over 50% mercury, it’s a wonder the whole Corps didn’t die of mercury poisoning. They took Thunderclappers. A lot.
In a nod to the Corps of Discovery, I’m toasting my 34-day walk with a Thunderclapper. Mine’s a drink, one I had created just for my novel.
I was really Method about the whole process. I wandered into The Belmont, my favorite Charleston watering hole, and I plonked down at the bar in front of Brad Cline. He listened to my crazy idea for a Thunderclapper: a drink for a dead guy; has to use liquors primarily available in the early 1800s; must burn from start to finish.
Brad rubbed his chin and told me to come back the following Monday.
On a Monday night, this is what I guzzled at least three versions of—Brad Cline’s Thunderclapper Recipe:
(I may have had more than three, but this drink packs such a wallop. I really don’t remember much after the first one.)
Whether you choose a Thunderclapper or some other beverage this evening, I hope you’ll raise a glass to my poor feet. I don’t even think a Thunderclapper can numb them for what I’m getting ready to do.