Thanksgiving Cocktails, Truman Capote, Puritan Poetry

A few notes for your Thanksgiving: a holiday examination, Mumm champagne, an old-fashioned cocktail from Garden & Gun, the French 75 (its history and variants), Puritan poetry (no Puritans = no Thanksgiving), Truman Capote and Loudon Wainwright III.

Steady, now.

First, while still sober, take this test from Liquor.com:

What Kind of Thanksgiving Cocktail Are You?

Keeping mum?

From the formidable Emily Arden Wells  at Gastronomista, a Cocktail Friendsgiving with G.H. Mumm Champagne.

 

Although I usually repair to gin drinks, this recipe for an old-fashioned from Garden & Gun is the real thing:

Classic Cocktail: The Old-Fashioned

Boom.

If, like me, you do not care for Bloody Marys, a French 75 — essentially, a cocktail made with gin (or sometimes cognac), simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and champagne — is a sharp eye-opener before the Thanksgiving meal. The Letters and Liquor blog has a detailed, historical article on the French 75:

The novelist Alec Waugh dubbed it “the most powerful cocktail in the world” and he was only half referring to its potent combination of liquor and champagne. With a refined visage that belies the origins of its name, the French 75 speaks to our post-war mentality.

Read the entire post here.

Tiny bubbles.

From bartender-expert Gaz Regan’s site, a twist on the French 75:

Cocktails in the Country: Guy’s 75 by Neil Goldberg, Mad River Distillers Tasting Room, Burlington, VT

Anne Bradstreet

Thanksgiving brings to mind the unfairly-maligned Puritans.  A favorite Puritan is poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) and her “The Author to Her Book”:

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view,
Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joynts to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.
In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

Here is the full link.

Thanksgiving and cold blood.

For reasons I cannot quite place, Truman Capote’s work has never been at the top of my list, though I should probably revisit it.  Although I prefer A Christmas Memory, his sequel long story The Thanksgiving Visitor  is holiday appropriate.  From the Amazon summary:

Buddy and his closest friend, his eccentric, elderly cousin, Miss Sook – the memorable characters from Capote’s A Christmas Memory–love preparing their old country house for Thanksgiving. But there’s trouble in the air. Odd Henderson, a scrawny, freckled, red-headed bully makes Buddy the target of his relentless torment. But Miss Sook only counsels patience and understanding, “He can’t help acting ugly; he doesn’t know any different,” she says. Filled with emotions that are universal to both young readers and adults, this poignant story brings to life what we all should cherish and be thankful for–the gifts of friendship and love.

Finally, from Loudon Wainwright III, “Thanksgiving”:

Happy Thanksgiving.


Lauren Bacall and The Big Sleep: Film Noir Cool, White Collar Crime, Cocktail Cold

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

To the extent that it reflected crime, Lauren Bacall’s work was noir, not white-collar; black, not white; guns, not accounting fraud.  Yet, there was an elegance and a fierceness about her films – especially those with Humphrey Bogart – that are familiar to those who work in a white-collar crime landscape.

David Brooks, writing in the New York Times, reflects on The Bacall Standard.  In particular:

[Raymond] Chandler was not particularly kind to women, though. It was up to the director Howard Hawks and his star, Lauren Bacall — who died this week — to give that era a counterpart female ideal, a hero both tough and tender, urbane and fast-talking, but also vulnerable and amusing.

Vivian Rutledge, the lead female character in the movie version of Chandler’s “The Big Sleep,” is stuck in a classic film noir world. Every situation is confusing, shadowed and ambiguous. Every person is dappled with virtue and vice. Society rewards the wrong things, so the ruthless often get rich while the innocent get it in the neck.

The lead character, played by Bacall, emerges from an ambiguous past, but rises aristocratically above it. She has her foibles; she’s manipulative and spoiled. But she’s strong. She seems physically towering, with broad shoulders and a rich, mature voice that is astounding, given that Bacall was all of 20 years old when she made the picture.

We’ve written about Chandler before: Browning (The Poet, Not The Automatic).  Speaking of Chandler’s dialogue in The Big Sleep (both the book and the film), Brooks notes:

The heiress greets Marlowe with a put-down: “So you’re a private detective. I didn’t know they existed, except in books, or else they were greasy little men snooping around hotel corridors.”

But he’s self-sufficient enough to stand up to her. He wins her over with a series of small rejections. And he can match her verbal pyrotechnics. When she says she doesn’t like his manners, he comes straight back at her: “I’m not crazy about yours. … I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. I don’t like them myself. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them long winter evenings.”


Here is a detailed Becall piece from The Rap Sheet, an excellent crime-fiction blog.  An excerpt:

A former theater usher and fashion model, Bacall first came to prominence in 1944, when, at age 19, she starred with 44-year-old Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not, a film based loosely on Ernest Hemingway’s 1937 novel of the same name. Her famous double entendre-laced line, delivered to a smoking, reclining Bogie–“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and … blow”–knocked out movie-going audiences everywhere, and had no less impact on Bogart himself. At the time he was already on his third marriage, to actress Mayo Methot, but he divorced her the next year to wed Bacall, or “Baby” as he called her. The pair were together only until his death in 1957, but if Bogie’s ghost is still anywhere around today, he’s whistling for her to join him today.

Ghosts.  Noir fiction and films worked on many levels, not least the theological (as we discussed in Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction).   And, at their best, they are art, as Chandler wrote in The Simple Art of Murder:

In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.

David Brooks gets the next-to-last word:

The feminine ideal in “The Big Sleep” is, of course, dated now. But what’s lasting is a way of being in a time of disillusion. At a cynical moment when many had come to distrust institutions, and when the world seemed incoherent, Bacall and Bogart created a non-self-righteous way to care about virtue. Their characters weren’t prissy or snobbish in the slightest. They were redeemed by their own honor code, which they kept up, cocktail after cocktail.

 

Speaking of cocktails.

Speaking of cocktails.

In the scene from The Big Sleep with the bookshop girl (played by Sonia Darrin), Bogart mentions that he has a bottle of rye in his pocket:

For some background on rye, an article from The AtlanticHow Rye Came Back.

In Bacall’s memory, here’s a recipe for a rye Manhattan.  Have one tonight.

Noir or white-collar, it's the rye Manhattan.

Noir or white-collar, it’s the rye Manhattan.


Needful of a Negroni Cocktail?

Balance

Balance

I have been drinking Negroni cocktails recently.  The Negroni presents three virtues: it contains gin, it is bitter and it is simple to make (equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth).  Its simplicity makes it superior for quiet mixing at home or when one is faced with modestly-adept bartenders, as noted by Kevin Sintumuang in the Wall Street Journal:

“That’s it?” Yep. Boozy, bitter, bold and built right in the glass, the Negroni has become a steadfast sidekick for me when I need a proper cocktail at a not-so-proper bar, from dive to airport. And when I’m mixing at home, there’s no other drink that produces so much satisfaction with so little effort.

Read the article here: The Only Negroni Recipe You Need


One place to start for a little history is Conde Nast Traveler:

Iconic bartender Gary Regan, a Brit who now makes his home in the Hudson Valley, is the go-to man for Negroni history. He recently published The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita,which traces the drink back to Florence in 1919. According to reliable lore, the cocktail was born when an Italian bartender responded to a customer’s demand for a stiffer riff on an Americano cocktail (a much-tamer mix of Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda). The patron, Count Camillo Negroni, had picked up a taste for strong liquor while working—true story—as a rodeo clown in the American Wild West, and gave his name to the resulting concoction. Today, Regan estimates that the drink appears on “about 300 percent more cocktail lists than 10 years ago.” One caution for the uninitiated, via Negroni fan Anthony Bourdain: The drink will “hit you like a freight train after four or five.”

After four or five?  True.  Read the entire article: How The Negroni Became Today’s It Cocktail 

Watch that twist.

Watch that twist.

Here is a post by Vince Keenan, and an even more detailed article from Difford’s Guide

It’s even possible to dive into literary theory:

So I have to conclude that like the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, or the paintings of Henri Matisse, the Negroni has become a symbol of an older iteration of the modernist idea. Its pedigree comes with the passage of time. Just as how Matisse and his cohorts were once denounced as fauves, the insult became a badge of honor, before becoming a simple historical descriptor. The cocktail is no longer a “barbaric horror,” a bucking of antique tradition, but a part of that antique tradition itself.

It’s easier just to drink the thing and then fix another, but here’s the full post from the Subject/Object blog: On the Negroni.

Another instructional video, this time from Liquor.com:

With regard to the Negroni and films, here’s an excerpt from a post by Trevor Kensey:

“There is a thirty year age difference between us thought Mrs. Stone. Then she was ashamed of herself and by the time Paolo had emerged from the bathroom she had mixed two negronis and placed them on the glass-topped table on the still sunny terrace with a bowl of olives between. Paolo came outside with an air of abstraction. He paid no attention to the drinks, but left her sipping hers while he wandered over to the balustrade and looked moodily down into the little piazza at the top of the Spanish stairs. Mrs. Stone thought to herself, This is a time to lie low. And so she made no comment. She sipped her drink with her eyes on his grey flannel back and she thought of the night when the flannel would not stand between them.”

– Page 31, “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone”, Tennessee Williams.

Even its most ardent fans, myself included, must admit that the Negroni is not always enjoyable at first contact. It is a near-universal first time sipper experience that can often block one from falling in love with this stubbornly seductive cocktail. Stick with that drink and what begins by leaving a bad taste in your mouth becomes a complete joy by the time you finish your inaugural glass. By your third you will be well on your way to a lifetime of full Negroni enjoyment.

Read the full article here: The Negroni Cocktail .

If you want to see more of Mrs. Stone [Vivien Leigh] and Paolo [Warren Beatty], here is the 1961 trailer:

Let’s close with a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a man who knew a good bit about cocktails:

The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.

–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The great American novel. And, cocktails.

The great American novel. And, cocktails.

 


The Drinking Reader, Our Cocktails Magazine, Tom Jones and Other Weekend Matters

Cocktails on Flipboard.

Cocktails on Flipboard.

White Collar Wire supports cocktails.

As part of that effort, I have a magazine on Flipboard called (helpfully) “Cocktails.”  Follow here, read on and use good ice.

Two items we focus on — books and cocktails — come together in How to Build a Solid Drinking Library, by New York Times writer (and bartender) Rosie Schaap:

Are there places I like as much as great bars? Yes: great bookshops. And if I had to pick a favorite in the latter category, it’s Dog Ears Book Barn in the little town of Hoosick, N.Y. Conveniently, it’s just a little ways down Route 7 from the Man of Kent, one of America’s best bars. A couple of hours spent digging through Dog Ears for treasure, then bringing those books to the Man of Kent and perusing them over a few pints for a few more hours? That’s what I call a perfect day.

Read the entire piece here.

All you need (courtesy of Gear Patrol).

All you need (courtesy of Gear Patrol).

On the subject of cocktails, absinthe has made a comeback, as shown in Gear Patrol‘s piece on How to Drink Absinthe Like a Gentleman.

Absinthe’s history mirrors the way it’s meant to be prepared: a mix of the misunderstood and the legitimately unusual. For most of its existence, the spirit has been slandered, ostracized and, in rarer cases, revered. It’s been dragged across borders, masqueraded as other liquors, aspersed with hallucination claims and — since its ban was lifted in America in 2007 — the spirit has been secretly embracing it all.

“There’s a tradition. There’s a lure to the preparation of absinthe”, says Will Elliot, a bartender at Brooklyn’s Maison Premiere, an oyster and cocktail den with the allure of a New Orleans haunt. Absinthe, at 68 percent alcohol, is a compacted spirit. Once diluted with water, the essential oils and flavors loosen to reveal the drink’s nuances. Preparing an absinthe drink involves combining botanicals, flavors and aromatic elements, Elliot says. “It’s not the sort of spirit that you just toss back.” As for lighting it on fire, which often is brought up in discussions on how absinthe’s served, “You wouldn’t…that’s really damaging the alcohol”, Elliot says. He got behind the bar to debunk some myths and walk us through two traditional absinthe drinks — a drip and a frappe — and a new twist on an old cocktail.

The Martinez (via The Cabinet Rooms)

The Martinez (via The Cabinet Rooms)

From the The Cabinet Rooms blog, a recipe for the Martinez, a precursor to the modern martini:

Continuing our exploration into the world of gin, we’ve been perusing classic gin-based cocktails this week. One dating back to the 1880’s is the Martinez; a smooth and refreshing drink, packed full of herbal aromatics. Usually made by mixing gin, vermouth and bitters with either maraschino liqueur or orange curaçao, this drink is a great alternative to the Martini. We love the combination of the gin’s botanicals with the fruitier notes of the vermouth and sweetness of the maraschino. Here we’ve used Burleigh’s London Dry and garnished with a black cherry, soaked in a rich Kirsch syrup, for a touch of added luxury.

A frosty one.

A frosty one.

From the Garden & Gun blog, a video recipe  for a modern mint julep.

From The Telegraph, a review of fancy bitters:

“You’re writing about bitters – great beers!” my husband said. But no, with respect to him and Britain’s brewers, I’m going to talk about something far more chic and high fashion. And bitters – those little, apothecary-like bottles of intensely aromatic botanical tinctures – are about as on-trend as you can get right now.

This follows on from the premium gin craze, as what could be better than bitters to dash in your G&T? Angostura, the brand that most of us know, is good stuff, but do branch out and try other, distinctive smaller-batch bitters, such as the extraordinary range made by The Bitter Truth.

Finally, a clip of Tom Jones singing “She’s A Lady,” just because we can:


Weekend: cocktails, World War I, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and Marvin Gaye

For this weekend: cocktails, World War I, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and Marvin Gaye.

From Saveur, warm-weather whiskey cocktails.  Some of the drinks sound good.  All of the photos are cool:

Bordeaux Sour (via Saveur)

Bordeaux Sour (via Saveur)

From the folks at Garden & Gun magazine, Ten New Southern Beers and a bourbon root beer float not far down the road from us:

Rob McDaniel met Will Abner for the first time in a field in southwestern Virginia. They were both at Lambstock, shepherd Craig Rogers’s bacchanalian annual gathering of farmers, chefs, bartenders, and other food-and-beverage types. “I was finding wood sorrel and wild shiso in the fields up there. Will just started making cocktails with it. I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool,'” says McDaniel, who runs the kitchen at SpringHouse in Alexander City, Alabama. “When I went back to the restaurant, I said to our front-of-house manager, ‘We’ve really got to talk to this guy.’ He was just slinging drinks then, you know, at some bar that closed at three a.m.”

From our friends at Gastronomista, an article on honey solera aged daiquiris, plus more cool photos:

The Honey Daiquiri (via Gastronomista)

The Honey Daiquiri (via Gastronomista)

From The Guardian in London, a piece on the science of mixing mind-blowing cocktails:

Likewise for Thomas Aske, one of the pair behind the Worship Street Whistling Shop in Shoreditch, east London, who regularly lectures on multi-sensory drinks, a cocktail always starts with a story. “It could be derived from anything but often it’s the brand of spirit you’re using,” he says. For instance, a barrel-aged cocktail based around Clynelish highland whisky was cooled with a frozen pebble from the coast of Scotland. “It could add a bit of minerality,” says Aske (unsure whether that effect would be physiological or purely psychological), “but it also can hold its temperature without offering the dilution that ice does, so you’ve still got the intensity of flavour.”

It was the frozen stone.

It was the frozen stone.

I prefer my cocktails without frozen stones, an impulse that may have inspired this rant about when the martini went off the rails:

Step into a trendy restaurant and look at the liquor menu. A whole section will be devoted to martinis of every hue and taste – strawberry, watermelon, jalapeno and (for all I know) bubblegum. These alleged martinis are the equivalent of the drinks you used to get in Jamaica or at Harry’s Glass Bar: crowned with paper umbrellas, stuffed with sliced of tropical fruit or celery or cucumber, they declared themselves sui generis, though no one could say of what genre they were “sui.” These are drinks for people who do not like the taste of drinks, martinis for martini haters.

 

Walker Percy is one of the great post-war 20th century American novelists.  He also drank bourbon until his doctor forbade it.  In an essay from Signposts In A Strange Land,Percy notes (in Bourbon):

Not only should connoisseurs of bourbon not read this article, neither should persons preoccupied with the perils of alcoholism, cirrhosis, esophageal hemorrhage, cancer of the palate, and so forth—all real enough dangers. I, too, deplore these afflictions. But, as between these evils and the aesthetic of bourbon drinking, that is, the use of bourbon to warm the heart, to reduce the anomie of the late twentieth century, to cure the cold phlegm of Wednesday afternoons, I choose the aesthetic. What, after all, is the use of not having cancer, cirrhosis, and such, if a man comes home from work every day at five-thirty to the exurbs of Montclair or Memphis and there is the grass growing and the little family looking not quite at him but just past the side of his head, and there’s Cronkite on the tube and the smell of pot roast in the living room, and inside the house and outside in the pretty exurb has settled the noxious particles and the sadness of the old dying Western world, and him thinking: “Jesus, is this it? Listening to Cronkite and the grass growing?”

A superb question, here in late middle-age.

British soldiers in a trench.

British soldiers in a trench.

We are a little late to the commemorative party, but World War I started one hundred years ago this month.

First, from your schooldays, John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields”:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.
John McCrae  lived from 1872 to 1918.  He died from pneumonia and is buried in France.
Isaac Rosenberg  (1890-1918)

Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)

 

I was less familiar with Isaac Rosenberg‘s “August 1914”:

What in our lives is burnt
In the fire of this?
The heart’s dear granary?
The much we shall miss?
Three lives hath one life—
Iron, honey, gold.
The gold, the honey gone—
Left is the hard and cold.
Iron are our lives
Molten right through our youth.
A burnt space through ripe fields,
A fair mouth’s broken tooth.
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and The Red Wheel

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and The Red Wheel

 

As a young man, I was much taken with Russian dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, not least his novel August 1914. Here is the New York Times book review  from 1972:

Barred by the government from doing research in archives and libraries, expelled from the Writers’ Union, deprived of all income from abroad, constantly harassed by the authorities, repeatedly vilified and slandered in the Soviet press and at party indoctrination meetings (which try to discredit him with his countrymen by spreading rumors that he is a nobleman, a Jew and a German agent), Solzhenitsyn continues writing under conditions that would drive most of us to madness or suicide. Very few living writers can match his artistic achievement; in human and moral stature he is in a class by himself on the literary landscape of our age.
That verdict remains unchanged.  We would do better to heed him more often, here in the 21st century.  His commencement address at Harvard on June 8, 1978, caused a sensation:

If (like me) you can’t understand Russian, here is a translation.  In part:

Western society has given itself the organization best suited to its purposes based, I would say, one the letter of the law. The limits of human rights and righteousness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad. People in the West have acquired considerable skill in interpreting and manipulating law. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required. Nobody will mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk. It would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames.

I have spent all my life under a Communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale than the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses. And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

In today’s Western society the inequality has been revealed [in] freedom for good deeds and freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly. There are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him; parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that each single step of his is well-founded and absolutely flawless. Actually, an outstanding and particularly gifted person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind hardly gets a chance to assert himself. From the very beginning, dozens of traps will be set out for him. Thus, mediocrity triumphs with the excuse of restrictions imposed by democracy.

Finally, just because we can, here’s Marvin Gaye and “Ain’t That Peculiar”:


Memorial Day Weekend Cocktails, Plus A Navy Seal’s Commencement Speech

FlagBest wishes for a happy Memorial Day weekend from White Collar Wire.

Mow what grass?

Mow what grass?

From the New York Times, this set of interactive videos about summer cocktails is a great start to the weekend.

The Thin Man movies starring Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) combine two elements of our mission (cocktails and crime fiction).  This montage from several “Thin Man” films has some of their best martini-hits.

A suspect.

A suspect.

 

We support gin here at White Collar Wire.  See this article about the renewal of gin in London.  And, on the subject of gin, from Liquor.com is this video on the Corpse Reviver Number 2.

Tiki drinks are a hot-weather favorite.  From Saveur.com, here’s a story about Dragon 88’s mai tai.

Nothing causes good-natured arguments better than the correct preparation of the Sazerac.  From our friends at Gastronomista.com, an article that reminds you: Trust Me, You’re Drinking Your Sazerac Wrong.

Finally, I am no great fan of commencement addresses, but this one by Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, seems especially appropriate on Memorial Day weekend.

A Polynesian extravaganza.

A Polynesian extravaganza.


Weekend Cocktails | Backwards Bartending and Neo-’80s Beverages

 

White Collar Wire’s weekend cocktail notes.

Gastronomista.

Gastronomista.

From Emily Arden Wells, who writes as Miss Emma Emerson at Gastronomista, here are cocktails served backwards in crisp videos.  As she says:

You sit down at a bar, peruse the menu, decide on a tipple, order, and then… wait.  It is this moment of waiting that has indescribable power.  This moment is filled with anticipation – a pause – and it is the time I always use to watch the scene behind the bar.  I carefully observe the tender of bar, watching his or her hands quickly trade bottle for bottle, add ice, bitters, and then delightfully shake the concoction or stir with casual flair.  It’s a glorious moment, a moment when one always asks themselves, will the cocktail be as magnificent as I’ve imagined???  And then, there it is.  A glorious potation filled glass shimmering in the bar’s candle light, waiting to be devoured.  And then, the moment of climax: the first sip.

Ahhhhhh……

Jude Goergen from Glassbackwards has found a way to make this moment of anticipation even better – each cocktail is prepared backwards.  Yes, backwards, and, some might argue, it’s even better that way.

These high-quality videos give one added appreciation for the art of a good bartender.

Green means go.   (photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Green means go (photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

From the Washington Posta revival of ’80s cocktails:

When cocktail lovers talk about “classic” cocktails, they usually mean drinks made before 1950: The Perfect Martini, the Singapore Sling, the Daiquiri. Few would make the case that a Kamikaze or Harvey Wallbanger belongs in such exalted company.

Unless, of course, they work at the Majestic.

Still, a little too green for us.

 

 

 

 


Friday Cocktails | Drinking In London, Watching Your Vocabulary and Freezing Your Cubes

To begin the weekend: London’s top cocktail bars, a whiskey glossary and a history of ice cubes.

The Connaught.

The Connaught.

London Calling. The drinks aren’t cheap, but here’s a look from The Guardian at the top 10 classic cocktail bars in London:

London’s cocktail scene is booming, with new bars opening all the time – but if you want to treat yourself to a flawless classic then head to a hotel bar. Cocktail expert Jared Brown chooses the best, plus some cutting edge places where top mixologists are producing drinks destined to become the new classics.

 

"Vermouth" before "whiskey" but after "gin."

“Vermouth” before “whiskey” but after “gin.”

Definitions.  From the folks at Saveur, a handy whiskey glossary.

"All I said was that my martini wasn't cold enough."

“All I said was that my martini wasn’t cold enough.”

Cutting Much Ice.  And, in what may the best tangentially-related article on cocktails, here is Freezer Harvest: A History of Ice Cubes, from Modern Farmer magazine:

While it’s usually challenging to trace the origins of specific cocktails (with all the drinking the details get lost), we understand pretty well how ice got into all of them. It started when one entrepreneur named Frederic Tudor had the idea to harvest lake and pond ice from New England states and sell it in hotter countries. He began sending ships full of ice from Boston to Martinique and Cuba in 1806, expanded the business to Southern US states, and his ice reached as far as India. In the process he created the ice trade.

Up until that point many cocktails were made with added water, but it didn’t take long for the concept of “cooling drinks” with ice to catch on. Different shapes of ice were specified for different drinks: lumps of ice for cocktails, shaved ice for juleps, and cobblestone ice for cobblers. These new drinks were so delicious it seems every foreign visitor to the U.S. in the early 1800s commented on the marvelous cocktails in this country. Soon, “American bars” opened up in big cities around the world serving these refreshing and exotic delicacies. But the glory days of the cocktail in America came to an end in 1920.

The thirteen years of Prohibition pretty much killed the art of bartending in America, and it took decades for things  to begin to turn back around. It wasn’t until after 2000 that a critical mass of American bartenders began looking to drink books from Frederic Tudor’s time, and classic cocktails came back into fashion. High-end bars gave better attention to each element in the cocktail, from the base spirit to the type of sugar used in the simple syrup, and eventually to the shape and size of ice best-suited to each drink. The problem was that by then nobody harvested ponds anymore, and machine-made ice provided one size of cube for all types of drinks in most bars.

I’m going home to check the freezer.

 

 


Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction

Forgot how itchy this suit is.

Forgot how itchy this suit is.

Pop culture and theology mix fruitfully in pulp-crime fiction.

Here’s a four-part course from 2012: Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction          .

Here’s the blurb that went with the class:

Crime fiction, in its varied forms, both illuminates and counterpoints the Gospel.  Crime fiction correctly presents and analyzes the sinful human condition, even where its conclusions are horribly wrong.  And, in crime fiction as nowhere else, the law is most definitely the Law: God did not get after Cain for shoplifting.

Second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke.

So: four classes’ worth of dark human hearts and blazing Gospel light, interspersed with mayhem, Augustine, detectives, 1930s pulp novels and the overlooked theological punch from the opening line of The Postman Always Rings Twice: “They threw me off the hay truck about noon.”

These are complete classes, so prepare a stiff drink before hitting “Play.”

As an example of what not to drink, consider this assault on civilization from that Pravda of sentimentality, Parade magazine: Girl Scouts Cookie Thin Mints Martini

Ingredients

  • 3 parts chocolate vodka
  • ½ shot creme de menthe
  • 1 shot chocolate milk liquor
  • Chocolate syrup (as needed)
  • 1 Thin Mint, crushed

Directions

  1. In a martini shaker, mix together chocolate vodka, creme de menthe, and chocolate milk liquor. Shake well. If you don’t have a martini shaker, use a glass filled with ice and mix well.
  2. Coat a martini glass with chocolate syrup. Crush the Thin Mint cookie and coat the brim of the martini glass with the cookie. Then, pour your martini drink mixture into the glass.
Thin Mints Martini: ready for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Red Lobster.

Thin Mints Martini: ready for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Red Lobster.

 

The mind, as well as the bowel, races.  One might add:

3.  Insert Luger under tongue to minimize the aftertaste

 

 

 

The Seelbach.

The Seelbach.

Here is something more appropriate: Garden & Gun magazine’s Guide to Southern Cocktails.

 

 

 

 

We have, of course, written on crime fiction and how it relates to business crime, cocktails and theology before.

 

 


Gastronomista: “cocktails, punch bowls and boozy babes”

Plane drink.

Plane drink.

The law can be dreary, so at White Collar Wire we follow cocktails, as well.  For weekend viewing and sipping, we point you to Gastronomista, which treats both food and cocktails:

Gastronomista is an art and design blog focused on the culture of food and drink, andwas founded in October of 2009 as a way to keep track of delicious treasures, tipples, and trips around the world.It is run by Miss Emma Emerson, who is an architect by day, writer and avid drinker by night. Gastronomista is a place where you might find architectural chicken coops, tea parties, decanters, bespoke knives, or donut art. Emmaseeks inspiration everywhere she goes, and finds fodder in everything she sees – on the streets and plates of foreign lands, the inked limbs of subway-riding compatriots, or shaking up cocktails in her own kitchen.

In particular, check out  Clara Bow in Black Oxen (1923).

The straight and the narrow.

The straight and the narrow.

Of course, we muse on cocktails, ourselves: White Collar Wire on Cocktails.