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.

 

 


The Border, Searches and the Digital Devices of Executives and Employees

Here’s a story (via @nytimes) about how the border is a back door for device searches.

There is, of course, a “border exception” to the Fourth Amendment, a constitutional doctrine that came of age when national physical borders were also, usually, information-borders as well.  Although the discussion in the article takes place in the national-security context, it’s worth American companies giving more careful thought to how they address the way their executives and employees work and travel.  Employees usually love using their own devices and storing company data in ways that are readily accessible to and productive for them.

At the border, though, all that corporate data is free game.

As the article notes:

TECS is a computer system used to screen travelers at the border, and includes records from law enforcement, immigration and antiterrorism databases. A report from the Department of Homeland Security about border searches of electronic devices says a traveler may be searched “because he is the subject of, or person-of-interest-in, an ongoing law enforcement investigation and was flagged by a law enforcement ‘lookout’ ” in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement computer system.

For now, the law remains murky about any limits on intrusive border inspections, including how long travelers can be detained, whether they are required to provide passwords for their devices . . . and whether they must answer any question an agent asks. Responses may be recorded in a traveler’s TECS file and shared with other government agencies.

Detention is an inconvenience.  To answer (or not answer) an agent’s question is another matter entirely, one that implicates both the company’s legal exposure and the individual’s Fifth Amendment rights.

If you find yourself in a lawsuit or prosecution based on a seizure at the border, it’s worth asking for this document from ICE: