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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.

So.

On a Monday night, this is what I guzzled at least three versions ofβ€”Brad Cline’s Thunderclapper Recipe:

thunderclapper drink, andra watkins, to live forever an afterlife journey of meriwether lewis

(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.

Here’s to Meriwether Lewis. Here’s to the Natchez Trace. And here’s to you, Dear Reader. Thank you for being here.

82 Comments Post a comment
  1. Carlos Ovalle #

    I’ll drink to that, SALUD!

    February 28, 2014
    • Thanks, Carlos. Reporting this evening from Natchez, MS. Dad’s got his sleep apnea machine all set up.

      February 28, 2014
  2. Wow, one of your liquid thunderclappers would put me under the table. No thanks, I’ll stick to a chocolate martini.

    February 28, 2014
    • Happy to be toasted with a chocolate martini, Mary. πŸ™‚

      February 28, 2014
  3. I took a sip of it on Monday and though it had that burn, it was actually pretty good. But definitely a sipping drink- its taste said “POW!”

    February 28, 2014
  4. I like rye, benedictine & peychauds, but the other ingredients in this drink– well, not so much.

    Perhaps I could have Sazerac cocktail w/ a splash of benedictine in it to achieve the proper degree of thunderclapperness to honor your grand adventure.

    Cheers to one and all!

    February 28, 2014
  5. Just reading the recipe was enough to give me a buzz …

    February 28, 2014
  6. I am a classic cocktail kind of girl, but not maybe a Southern one? I just don’t understand Tabasco in a beverage that doesn’t involve tomato juice. That said, this is intriguing, and I Pinned it for future reference πŸ™‚

    Safe travels and wonderful adventures to you, my friend. What a thing you’re doing!

    February 28, 2014
    • I can’t believe I start tomorrow. Miss Ethel is very impressed. She and Dad have been like dueling banjos with stories this evening.

      February 28, 2014
  7. In your honor we will be mixing this tonight. Meantime to keep you on your feet.
    http://www.eyeneer.com/video/jazz/miles-davis/walkin

    February 28, 2014
    • Hope it’s tasty, Robert. Thanks for the plug on your blog. Heading over there in a bit to comment.

      February 28, 2014
  8. I suspect one of those might put me under the table. I’ll bet it burns all the way down. Definitely would cure what ails you. Toasting to you for safe and wonder filled traveled and happy feet!

    February 28, 2014
    • It packed the right punch, Lisa. I’m glad I tried it to get it right, but it isn’t the kind of drink I like.

      February 28, 2014
  9. I don’t think I could stand up after drinking that!

    February 28, 2014
  10. Here’s to you, Andra. The Irish have a phrase as one leaves for a journey. Since I’m a Greek, married to an Irishman, I’ll take a sip of Ouzo and toast you “safe home”.

    February 28, 2014
  11. Very best of luck, I’ll be thinking of you. πŸ™‚

    February 28, 2014
  12. I will celebrate your journey this morning with a dounut. This evening? Perhaps something like a Thunderclapper. Blessed be your Journey of Discovery.

    February 28, 2014
    • I may have a donut in the morning, since I’ll definitely be walking it off.

      February 28, 2014
      • Ha! I drank mine off. I had three Clunderthappers…Fundersnappers…Happerdunders…Dunderflappers…

        Aw geez. Never mind.

        February 28, 2014
  13. I drink so little alcohol that I KNOW the fumes from that concoction would knock me out! Take heed that Dr. Rush advised in his Rules for preserving good health: “The less spirits you use, the better.” πŸ™‚

    As an aside, I’d venture a guess that the cost for the content of the first aid kit for your trip has well exceeded that $90.69 cost for the entirety of the Lewis and Clark Expedition!!

    Wishing you sunshine, mild temps, minimal flying pests and NO bears! Have a wonderful trek!

    February 28, 2014
    • It is pretty fragrant, Karen. I’ve probably bought more than $90.69 worth of moleskine. πŸ™‚

      February 28, 2014
  14. Lance #

    I hope to try this with you and the mister someday. The fact you created a drink is 100 proof (seewhatididthere) of your brilliance.

    I’m giving you a standing ovation of thunderclapping

    February 28, 2014
    • Thanks, Lance. We’ll be in Atlanta toward the end of April. I’ll let you know exactly when.

      February 28, 2014
  15. Cheers to you! I will toast in your honor tonight with a Thunderclapper, or five, of my own.

    February 28, 2014
  16. napperscompanion #

    I’ll toast you this evening, sister, but it’ll be with a Cocobon red blend. Break a leg, John

    February 28, 2014
  17. One step…….

    February 28, 2014
    • I had to keep telling Dad that all day. He kept pointing out the miles to go, and I told him it just made the trip longer to do that.

      Thanks for coming the other night. It was good to see you.

      February 28, 2014
  18. Anything with both rye and Tabasco is de facto life-affirming!

    February 28, 2014
  19. Wow, what a great idea for your new signature cocktail. πŸ™‚ I’m not much of a Tabasco fan but would definitely prefer to feel the sensation of hot peppers before instead of mercury thunder after…

    February 28, 2014
  20. tarakianwarrior #

    I cried while reading your blog today Andra. I love your book. Love, love, love it. I will be “reviewing” it on the sites you suggested. Still…crying. I wish I would have sent you a pin of mine to wear so I could wander this journey with you. Damn but I’m so proud to know you. Your words have always touched me and gosh, I’m just so proud of you. I’ll be drinking some tequila to you tomorrow….No Thunderclapper for Lori – otherwise there might be an ugly accident in Crossfit…not pretty…squats with weights…can you just imagine that sight? Ugh.

    February 28, 2014
    • You can still send me a pin. I can send you a couple of addresses up the road if you want to do that. Let me know.

      So glad to hear you’re enjoying the book.

      February 28, 2014
  21. That’s a serious drink….by the way, what’s Peychauds? I don’t think a drink’s going to help your feet….in fact the only thing that’s going to help your feet is the week’s stay in a luxury hotel that you’re going to need after you’ve got the Natchez craziness out of your system:)

    February 28, 2014
    • I’m going to be at the Luxury Hotel of Tori Young outside of Nashville. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to meet her.

      February 28, 2014
  22. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    I think I’ll just have a glass of white wine in your honor this evening. Best of luck on your journey. I’ll be thinking of you. Thanks, also for my very favorite Billy Joel song! Love ya

    February 28, 2014
  23. Debbie #

    I am so excited for your journey to begin! Please know that I will be hovering around you in spirit each and every day! I will raise a glass of wine to you this evening. Skol! (cheers and good health) πŸ™‚

    February 28, 2014
  24. To have a bartender that invents a drink especially for you blows my mind. On any given Saturday I order what the barkeep remembers how to make, but it’s lovingly garnished with a “here ya go, hon.”

    February 28, 2014
    • Brad didn’t call me Hon. πŸ™‚ That’s extra special.

      February 28, 2014
  25. This seems highly appropriate for your drink story.

    February 28, 2014
  26. YIKES! That’s harsh! Think I’ll pass, darling. I had a Prairie Fire once… I think it’s just tequila and hot sauce — and once was enough for me.

    February 28, 2014
    • I was surprised at how many people liked it the other night at my going away thing. It’s not for me, though.

      February 28, 2014
  27. I did indeed have one of those the other night at the Belmont. Not bad at all. If I weren’t such a cheapskate I would have had more than one. But it was no where near as harsh as some might think – at least not to me. But then my drinks of preference have raised a few eyebrows in the past as well.

    Now I have to think of what cigar I would pair up with this drink. But I will probably have to imbibe a few more to figure that out. I do know it would be something strong and dark though. Strong enough that you could smell it coming down The Trace to meet you.

    February 28, 2014
    • I do NOT want to smell cigars on my walk, Carnell. DO. NOT. What a creepy thing that would be.

      February 28, 2014
  28. Here’s to you *BAABOOM*

    February 28, 2014
  29. That sounds like a helluva beverage! In honor of you I will carefully tuck that recipe into my wallet and pull it out when I’m at Marche, the only restaurant that would possibly have all the ingredients, and when I get out of the pokey I’ll let you know how it tastes.
    I’m getting so excited about your walk! I’ve told everyone I work with what you’re doing and they all say ‘Good luck!’

    February 28, 2014
    • Thanks, Laura. Please thank your co-workers for me. And let me know how the drink turns out. πŸ™‚

      February 28, 2014
  30. Consider my glass raised, Andra! To you and your walk!

    February 28, 2014
  31. Isn’t thunderclapping when your thighs rub together? Not a problem that you have, I’m certain. I should have mailed you some of my prednisone to take when those feet start acting up. Or better yet, a cortisone shot! Damn! I wish I had thought of it earlier. πŸ™‚

    February 28, 2014
  32. and you are a brave spirit. here’s to you with a clap of hands, and i’ll leave the thunderclapping to you ) b

    February 28, 2014
  33. I will be toasting you at dinner tonight. Mr. Enthusiasm informs me it is nearly ready to be served.

    You have my deepest respect for this huge challenge you have taken on. I look forward to hearing about all you learn along the way.
    xoxo

    February 28, 2014
    • I hope dinner was tasty, Nancy. It still doesn’t feel real. This time tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll feel differently. πŸ™‚

      February 28, 2014
      • Be well. Stay safe. Learn lots. Have fun. In no particular order. ❀

        February 28, 2014
  34. May the trace rise up to greet you
    And the wind be always at your back!

    February 28, 2014
  35. Ai Yi Yi. After ONE of those Clappers, I’d be like that old lady in that older TV ad:

    That and every song I heard after the first drink would sound just like this one:

    Have a nice (month long!) hike. Your feet will need a drink after all this is over. I wonder how a Thunderclapper foot bath would feel?

    March 1, 2014
  36. Purgatives. The very word causes discomfort.

    March 1, 2014
  37. Jen #

    You are so AWESOME. I love everything about this act and this post. Somebody call Dav Pilkey — the Thunderclapper would be right up his alley.

    March 1, 2014
  38. One of my favorite Billy Joel’s. I listen to it often…and now I’ll associate it with you. Thunderclapper, huh? What a great new drink. I am definitely lifting a glass to you as you take off on your grand adventure. No purgatives! ox

    March 1, 2014
  39. Dear Andra –

    I would get blotto in honor of your feet and your heroic trek on the Natchez Trace but I have been a naughty reader and need to catch up on my reading. Your novel calls to me from my kindle app at all hours, begging to be read. It’s that good and I will seriously shiv the next person who gets in the way of my reading. I might have a shot though.

    March 2, 2014
  40. It’s one of my dreams to have a named cocktail made just for me by an expert — and the Thunderclapper definitely reads like something that should be on a permanent menu. I’ve got a bottle of rye whiskey that is just asking to be broken open and now I need to stop at the liquor store on my way home to try and find the rest of these ingredients so that I can properly toast your amazing accomplishments to come over the next weeks!

    March 3, 2014
    • It helps to have access to some good mixoligists…I’m better at the tasting part.

      March 3, 2014
  41. Reblogged this on turkeyhunter1 and commented:
    Gonna whip up a batch of Thinderclapper for my birthday . It’s the big 50! Walk on !!

    March 4, 2014
  42. Rye Whisky…i don’t know if that’s available over here.

    March 11, 2014

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