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derek frenchIf 007 should ever decide to take up riding to hounds it would be interesting to see what innovations he would bring to the hunt field. Perhaps Mr. Bond would have a device on his saddle that would seek and destroy barbed wire hidden within hedgerows. A projectable airbag cushion to soften hard landings might endear him to the ladies. How about a sensor in his helmet that could display the track of the fox or coyote, or is this available now? And an early warning system to detect ‘antis’ would be beneficial. Perhaps like his Aston Martin car he would be mounted on a jet-propelled horse? Come to think of it, I have already been behind such horses in the hunt field!

However James Bond is always the perfect gentleman and I am sure he would not wish to contravene the etiquette and the traditions of the hunt field. However there is one field in which he would find himself at a loss. You may recall that Mr. Bond likes his martinis stirred and not shaken. If he should carry his flask with a cocktail such as this, there is only one way in which he could have it prepared. It would be thoroughly shaken.

At a check after a fast gallop over a few fences, the custom is for many riders to reach for their flasks for a little pick-me-up. This is the point where comparisons are made between the recipes used by individual riders. Do you go for smooth refreshment or shock treatment to unfrazzle the brain and quell those aches and pains? Should the taste be sweet or sharp? To each his own it seems.

At a winter social of the Eglinton and Caledon Hunt recently, a contest was held to judge who has the most popular formula. It didn’t take long to get the festive mood up and running as all members present were encouraged to sample each of the offerings and then to express their opinion. When all concoctions had been tried, a vote was taken to see which member had the winning recipe. I would like to be able to give you the recipes for various entries but I find that many members were either reluctant to give away their secret formula or perhaps they couldn’t remember what ingredients they had used as they persisted in trying new mixtures.

But all is not lost. By good fortune the winner happened to be one of the ECH honorary whips who is very precise in preparing his concoction and we are indebted to him for sharing it with us. I will repeat Carl Feairs’ words verbatim as follows:

     I first tasted rum and maple syrup when we went to a hunt festival in Montreal. I believe it was 2005, my

     first year of hunting and my first experience in the first flight! So the idea of rum and maple syrup was not

     mine. I must thank the members of the Montreal Hunt for that.

     My flask recipe is: 5 oz. Eclipse Mount Gay Rum. 1 oz. maple syrup. 2 oz. water. You can vary the amount

     of water but as you reduce the water you need to increase the maple syrup. With no water added I used to

     use 6.5 oz. rum and 1.5 oz. maple syrup but I found this hits you in the head a little hard!

Carl has generously credited the Montreal Hunt for this recipe. Not surprisingly it features Quebec’s famous maple syrup. Yes, Vermont produces good syrup too but Quebec’s syrup is the winner for this delicious recipe. It comes as no surprise that the Montreal Hunt is the originator here. For good hunting, enthusiasm and just good fun it is hard to beat this hunt. Try riding with them one day, you will enjoy the experience.

There’s no saying what James Bond would choose for his flask but a saddle-shaken martini would not appeal to him. Perhaps the Montreal recipe would be acceptable even if it had been prepared by shaking and not by stirring.
Then we could turn to another famous man of the arts to consider both sides of the discussion. In his day he would probably have had just the choice of port wine or sherry but would he consider being more up-to-date with the rum-based Montreal recipe? With apologies to William Shakespeare I suggest he might have approached his decision along the following lines:

To rum, or not to rum, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis Nobler to stay with the grape
Or suffer the Stings and Scorn of outraged Members
Or to take up Arms against a Sea of tradition,
And by opposing them: to try, to sip,
Perchance to Dream
Of another elixir so perfect that flesh is heir to.
Aye, there’s the rub.

I will close this serious debate before the shoes and other brickbats start to fly! If any of our readers would like to contribute their recipe preferences we can all have fun sampling and rating their offerings. I am sure Covertside would like to hear from you. Perhaps an international flask recipe sip-off would be in order.

Derek French is ex-MFH of Eglinton and Caledon Hunt in Ontario, Canada. He implores his thirsty readers to submit their favorite flask recipes to publisher@covertside.net

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