Weekly Reckoning: The Hot Button Edition

Weekly ReckoningDon’t touch those buttons! They’re hot.

1. THE FUTURE IS DARK AND STORMY.* Increasingly lousy weather is one of the most easily observable and predictable effects of climate change. Oceans heat up, moisture increases, storms a-brew. Even Toronto Hydro had this one figured out. A 2012 study predicted increased incidence of storms, ice storms, rain storms, dark skies, massive charges of electricity leaping between the earth and heavens, that kind of thing. So Torontonians should buckle down, because power interruptions, fallen trees and ice coating everything like a crystal skin are here to stay.

2. RACIST BABE. Remember the early ’90s, when folk music got a jolt of energy from musicians like Ani DiFranco? I first saw her over 20 years ago playing “Both Hands” at one of the workshop stages at the Winnipeg Festival. She blew everyone else off the stage (with the possible exception of Greg Brown, who’d keep his cool in a tornado). Anyway! DiFranco has re-entered the zeitgeist, because she’s holding a retreat for fans at… a plantation. You know, one of those grand old Southern mansions where black people were reduced to the status of cattle (even though Nottoway Plantation would prefer not to tackle that topic). The backlash has been swift but ongoing, with former fans castigating DiFranco and one of the featured musicians respectfully backing out of the retreat. But if you like DiFranco and don’t care about racist things, buy a ticket, because “there’s room in the circle for everyone.” That is, everyone who a) isn’t bothered by the gaudy status symbols of slavery and b) has anywhere from $1100 to $4000 to plunk down on a mind-expanding good time.

UPDATE: Ani DiFranco has cancelled the event. She also released a long, thoughtful, considerate, self-justifying statement on Facebook in which she neglected to actually say that she was sorry.

3. THE DREADED D’S. Phil Robertson, the douchetastic dickhead of Duck Dynasty, has been reinstated on his show. He’s the biggest draw on A&E’s biggest show, so if you were looking for further proof that life is a popularity contest and popular people can say any old thing they like, knock yourself out. Son Alan Robertson  says that “[w}e will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through Duck Dynasty.” Because nothing represents faith like standing around in front a couple of cameras while producers shout lines at you. Oh, and shooting ducks. Oh, and being bigots.

4. IT IS NOW THE LAW that all headlines about Russia must contain the phrase “as the Olympics near.” Because that’s clearly the most important thing in a story about a train station bombing that killed at least 16 people.

5. THE SHOCKING TRUE HISTORY OF “THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.” Have you ever wondered about the implicit status marker of Santa’s pipe? Are you curious about the sociocultural matrix in which one of our founding Christmas stories was embedded? More importantly, do you have nothing going on tonight? Because this is a long one.

*Dark & Stormy:

1 can Barritt’s Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer

1 oz (or more) Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (151 overproof, no less)

Combine. Add ice. Garnish with the will to destroy your brain.

Thursday Night Loaded: Soda’s So Dull? Not So!

Carbonated water, it seems so humble and yet it is a staple of all summer drinking. It can make Whiskey Fizz, Singapore Sling, and turn Robert E Lee Cooler. It can even take that otherwise sour gentleman, Tom Collins, and make him positively bubbly.

And if you’re wondering who you should thank for this magical bubble water, it was an English clergyman, Joseph Priestly, who lived way back in the 18th century.

Everything I know about Priestly, by the way, I learned from James Burke’s Connections documentaries and according to Burke, he was an amateur chemist, an incompetent pastor and apparently quite a jerk — upon discovering his wife had no money, for instance, he set about sponging off his brother-in-law for the rest of his life.

As for the soda, when he wasn’t boring his parishioners half to death with his dull sermons, Priestly was skulking around a nearby brewery. He discovered that in the vats, above the beer, there was a strange gas that would put out matches and kill rats (that he was discovering all this by conducting tests with actual matches and actual rats in actual beer kegs no doubt led to his being driven off by the brewer).

That gas was, of course, carbon dioxide, and Priestly also discovered that if you swish water back and forth between two glasses while in the presence of this gas, the water became all bubbly.

It was quite the discovery. There had to be a market for such a novelty, wouldn’t you think?

Well, creepy, boring Priestly, as it turns out, was also not much of a business man and was unable to make much of his invention. So to console himself, we went off and discovered oxygen.

Then, twenty years later, a German watchmaker, JJ Schweppe, developed a process to mass produce soda water and kicked off a massive fad for fizzy water and made himself quite famous into the bargain.

At the time, Schweppe’s miraculous bubble water was believed to have great health benefits, being able to invigorate tired muscles and tighten saggy skin. Soon, alpine spas were spraying their clients with it, bathing them in it, and even making them drink it.

The rest, as they say, is history.

A few tips on the use of carbonated water in cocktails: Don’t use too much. When a drink recipe says, “Top with soda,” it’s anticipating you’ll be adding an ounce to two ounces. The goal is to make the cocktail effervesce. You’re not trying to dilute it to the point of being flavourless.

Also, unless you intend to host a rather large party and anticipate handing around many fizzy drinks, you’re best to shy away from the big two litre bottles of club soda. It will start to go flat long before you can use it all. Better to keep some cans in the fridge and use them as needed.

And as for what kind of fizzy water you should go for, personally I prefer to go with a carbonated mineral water instead of club soda because I find the carbonation is a little more subtle in the former. It’s not quite so in your face.

If you wish to learn more about the role carbonation had in history, Priestly’s invention pops up in three episodes of Burke’s various series. I’ll embed the start of each below the fold. Enjoy

Continue reading “Thursday Night Loaded: Soda’s So Dull? Not So!”

Thursday Night Loaded: The Official Mixed Drink Of Summer In Regina 2011!

Okay, summer’s been in high gear for a couple weeks already and you’ve probably been wondering, “What the heck should I be drinking to cut this infernal heat? Pimm’s is so 2010. Where is Thursday Night Loaded when I need it?”

Never fear. When all seems lost, like the goddamn Batman I swoop in in the night to provide relief. A beat down on your thirst.

I have been deliberating for weeks. Weeks! And finally the white smoke is rising from the chimney of my alcoholism and I have made my summer drinking decision. To coincide with the release of prairie dog‘s second annual Drink! issue (which is on newsstands as I type), I will now announce the Official Mixed Drink Of Summer In Regina 2011.

But before I get to what you ought to be drinking this summer, I will look at what you can also be drinking….

2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
3 oz ginger beer
Build in an ice-filled highball glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Back when I polled the TNL readership (such as it is) about what they want to be 2011’s Official Mixed Drink (here and here), the Dark and Stormy was the clear favourite. And it is a worthy summer cooler. 100% delicious. I will definitely be revisiting it in a future column.

The only reason I didn’t choose it is because I found something even better….

The Official Mixed Drink Of Summer In Regina 2011: THE AMERICANO!
1 1/2 oz Campari
1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
Mix in an old-fashioned glass. Almost fill glass with ice. Stir. Top with soda.

This is serious refreshment. It’s bitter and sweet and bubbly. Just like life! I’ve been drinking these nonstop since the summer hit and I want to share the Americano’s complex and difficult pleasures with everyone.

Story goes, this drink originated in Italy back in the 1860s and after a while, the Italians noticed it was very popular among American tourists. And that’s how it got its name.

Oh, how times have changed. A drink featuring Campari is not likely to be embraced so eagerly these days, I’ve discovered. I’ve tried this drink out on a lot of people in the lead up to writing this column and based on their reviews I can guarantee that this pick is not going to go over well. But I can’t help it. I LOVE the Americano.

Still… I confess I did at first fret over rejecting the advice of readers and test audiences. But then, in putting together my contribution for the Drink! issue (did I mention it’s on newsstands right now?) it came up that the Americano was one of the drinks that James Bond was known to imbibe (in Casino Royale and A View To A Kill) and that clinched it. How can you argue with James Bond? He’s liable to kill you.

Happy summer, Regina! I hope you enjoy your Americanos! See you next week.

A Very Special Thursday Night Loaded

I came home a little while ago from one of my Cathedral Village Arts Festival volunteering gigs: MCing the Rah Rah show. (And every time I get behind a microphone I’m reminded of why I wound up in print journalism. Yeesh. That said, you should still check out the prairie dog podcast despite my behind-mic involvement there. And you should also go to the Lazy MKs / Buellie Brothers show at St Mary’s Hall tomorrow night even though I’m MCing again. I’ll only be on stage for like ten seconds. And then you’ll get to watch two great bands. Did I mention the Lazy MKs let us use a couple of their tunes for a couple of our podcasts? It’s true. Everything is connected. Speaking of, I got to meet awesome blog commenter and Cuba Libre Cocktail aficionado, Collette, in real life before the Rah Rah show. That was very cool. You know, it’d be great to meet more dogblog readers tomorrow night — at St Mary’s Hall, 3337 15th Ave, show starts at 8pm. We could talk city hall and kitten videos until the band starts. Did I mention it will be free? The show I mean. Kitten videos are always free. That’s what I call liberty.)

Anyway, after getting in, I double checked the count and sure enough, this is the 52nd installment of Thursday Night Loaded. That’s right, I’ve done a year’s worth of cocktail columns. (Although, technically, the official anniversary was two weeks ago. I kind of missed a couple columns in there. Although both times were alcohol related so I think that’s forgivable considering the context.)

And it’s funny that I’m still doing this and posing as some kind of drinking expert because I’ll be honest with you, ever since the arrival of Young Dashiell, I haven’t been… erm… “researching” the subject matter of this column like I used to. No more gin tastings. No more sneaking off at night to drink alone at a local bar (which, as an upside, has saved me from much adult contemporary played on solo guitar).

And I’m back to stirring all my cocktails for fear of waking the baby.

Continue reading “A Very Special Thursday Night Loaded”

Thursday Night Loaded: The Mojito

Last week I arbitrarily disqualified the Mojito from Official Mixed Drink Of Summer in Regina 2011 contention because I said it was too trendy.

And I stand by that.

The Mojito and, worse, the Blah-Blah-Blah Mojito (the Strawberry Mojito, the Rhubarb Mojito, the Blackberry and Lime Mojito, the Gooseberry Mojito, the Skinny Mojito, the Dirty Mojito, the Funky Cold Mojito) clutter the menus of far too many strip-mall sports bars on the outskirts of our cities. I worried that every third commenter and their typing, cocktail-swilling dog would be suggesting the Mojito as this year’s cooler of choice. (Of course, for that to happen, we would have had to get up to three or more comments. And, who am I kidding? That just wasn’t going to happen.)

In hindsight I feel a little (just a little) guilty about excluding it because the Mojito, like the Margarita (another classic cocktail tragically hybridized, packaged, powdered, and otherwise corrupted by chain restaurants), is actually a pretty good cocktail in its original form….

4 lime wedges
3 tsp sugar
10 sprigs fresh mint
2 oz light rum
club soda
Muddle lime, sugar and mint until sugar is dissolved in collins glass. Add rum. Fill with ice. Top with soda. Stir. Garnish with a few sprigs of mint.

See. It’s a simple drink that can be really delightful and refreshing if you pick a decent rum. (Or a total disaster if you don’t.) At the same time, enough Mojitos will be consumed on patios overlooking the boxstore parking lots that rim our city that the cocktail really doesn’t need the bump in popularity that will come from being named the Official Mixed Drink Of Summer in Regina 2011.

And besides, I’m far more intrigued by the cocktail suggestions of commenters anonymous and Collette: the Dark and Stormy and the Cuba Libre Cocktail. (And I’m of course hoping to get a few more suggestions before making a final announcement on what my go-to cooler will be this summer.) So, sorry Mojito. You’re on your own this summer. Still, I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

Thursday Night Loaded: Summer’s Coming… No, Seriously, It Is

I just got back from my first ice cream of the not-winter season at Dessart and while it’s still pretty chilly in the evening, and it’s still too early to plant our vegetable garden, and the tree outside the prairie dog office still isn’t showing much in the way of signs of life, that hit of ice cream got me thinking about summer.

Now, last year, I declared the Pimm’s Cup the Official Mixed Drink Of Summer In Regina 2010. And that means I have to come up with an Official Mixed Drink Of Summer In Regina 2011 and I’ve decided I’ll trawl for input from all the sozzled readers of Thursday Night Loaded. Make suggestions in the comments below or email me at pauld{at}prairiedogmag.com.

There are a few ground rules, however….

1. No Collinses. (For those who don’t know, a Collins is a spirit — usually gin — mixed with sugar, lemon juice and club soda.) As yummy as they are, they’re too obvious a pick.
2. Please, not the Mojito. Again: yummy. But too fucking trendy.
3. Same goes for the Sangria.
4. And any variation on the Caesar.
5. All ingredients have to be available in Regina.
6. Extra points for coming up with something really strange or exotic.

I’ll announce this year’s summer drink sometime in June, probably just before Canada Day, so if nothing is immediately popping into your head you’ve got a little over a month to do research and test out recipes. I recommend testing out many recipes as often as humanly possible. That’s the only way you’ll know for certain you’ve got something truly worthy of being the Official Mixed Drink Of Summer In Regina 2011.

To wrap up, here’s a Tiki cocktail to plant the seeds of summertime in your hearts (and livers)….

Mai Tai
1 oz light rum
1 oz gold rum
1/2 oz orange curaçao
1/2 oz orgeat (a type of almond syrup)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
Shake well with ice. Pour into an old-fashioned glass. Top up with ice. Float 1 oz of dark rum on top of drink. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and cherry.

This is one of those drinks that gets made many different ways but this recipe is the original, as created by Trader Vic. Unfortunately, the Mai Tai is disqualified from Summer Drink 2011 contention because you can’t buy orange curaçao in Saskatchewan.

If you do try to make this anyway, don’t swap blue curaçao for the orange. The flavour might be close, but the colour you’ll end up with will be putrescent. Better off to go with a triple sec. It’s an imperfect substitute, but honestly, you probably won’t taste the difference.

Thursday Night Loaded: Top 6 Post-Election Libations

A sextet of cocktails to help you cope with the shock and horror of what the election has left us.

1. What The Hell??
3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz apricot brandy
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake well ice. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.

2. Blue Devil Cocktail
1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz blue curacao
Shake well with ice. Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.

3. Ill Liberal Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Canadian whisky
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz Campari
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake well with ice. Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.

4. I Don’t Care Cocktail
1 oz bourbon
1 oz creme de menthe
1/2 oz grenadine
Shake well with ice. Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.

5. Weep No More Cocktail
3/4 oz brandy
3/4 oz Dubonnet Red
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz maraschino liqueur
Shake well with ice. Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.

6. Zombie
1 oz light rum
1 oz gold rum
1 oz dark rum
1/2 oz apricot brandy
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz orange juice
1/2 oz falernum
1/2 oz passion fruit nectar
Shake well with ice. Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass. Float 1 oz 151-proof rum on top. Garnish with pineapple slice.

Thursday Night Loaded: Campaign Cocktails From Mothercorp

I wanted to do a quick one tonight highlighting an election-themed cocktail. But in my research I discovered that Brent Bambury’s Radio Two show, Day 6, is way ahead of me on this. They enlisted Oliver Stern, bartender for the Toronto Temperance Society, to concoct weekly topical tipples starting back in March when the writ was dropped. Here’s the video of the first campaign cocktail, the Concession 75.

They also did one called the Elizabeth May #2, The Auditor’s General and The Health Attack. Enjoy.

Thursday Night Loaded: Vodka Update

Good news. Zubrowka vodka — which I raved about many months ago, calling it one of the only two excellent vodkas I’ve ever tasted — is once again available in Regina liquor stores. And what’s more, it’s priced at an entirely reasonable $25 for a 750ml bottle. That means the very best vodka in the SLGA’s entire repertoire sits at the low end of the price spectrum.

In other words, there is no need to waste your cash on premium brands like Grey Goose or Crystal Head (unless, in the case of the latter, you covet the skull-shaped bottle).

Speaking of, The Fox Is Black, a design blog I check almost daily, ran a post titled, “Vodka is Stupid: Why You Should Stop Wasting Your Money On High End Vodka” in which author Bobby Solomon references a piece (also called, “Vodka is Stupid“) written by Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg.

Their complaint is pretty much identical to mine: that vodka is boring and tastes like nothing.

Continue reading “Thursday Night Loaded: Vodka Update”

Thursday Night Loaded: Award-Winning Spirits

A couple weeks back, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition was held (March 18 to 20) and I totally missed it.

Mind you, the award ceremony wasn’t streamed to the web nor uploaded to Youtube so really all I missed was a pdf list of the winners quietly being posted to the internet. (Next year, I really should see about getting prairie dog to spring for me to go down and cover the action.)

The big surprise was the double gold winner for best vodka: Alberta Pure Vodka.

Seriously. Alberta Pure. It’s 2011’s best damn vodka.

Long ago when I was a young man, a friend once quipped that he’d heard Alberta Pure was a petroleum byproduct. That casual jest tainted the brand for me such that I’ve never even tasted it. And while I’m no vodka enthusiast, whenever I’ve needed a bottle, I’ve always skipped over Alberta Pure thinking it base, cheap and polluted — a product of the tarsands. Turns out, it may just be an affordable, Canadian-made spirit with a world-class reputation.

Who knew? Well, San Fran’s boozehounds, for one. Guess I should put my biases aside and start supporting the homegrown potato juice.

After the jump, I’ll rattle off some of the top names from the World Spirits Competition, and where the winner isn’t available in Saskatchewan (which is almost always the case) I’ll list off the next most winningful brands that are and what award they received.

Continue reading “Thursday Night Loaded: Award-Winning Spirits”

Thursday Night Loaded: Raiding Dad’s Liquor Cabinet (Like I’m 16 Again)

I’m in Edmonton visiting my parents and last night I decided to check out what treasures my dad has stored away in his liquor cabinet.

Oh, what treasures I found.

My dad isn’t a hard liquor kind of guy. He leans more toward youthful vintages of homemade wine so spirits tend to stick around for a while. Decades, as it turns out. And hidden away in the back of his liquor cabinet I found some gorgeous, extremely well-aged bottles.

The label designs are all nicely retro and some of these brands I’ve never even heard of before. That squat bottle with the orange label? It’s a lingonberry liquer. What the hell’s a lingonberry, you ask? I’ve no idea. But in liqueur form, it tastes a lot like a cloudberry (in liqueur form). And as for that Hiram Walker bottle in the back, it’s their crystal gin, something they don’t even make any more. And how a “crystal” gin differs from a London dry I can’t figure.

So, what would you do if you stumbled upon such a trove of tippling riches?

Me? I whipped up a cocktail….

Dad’s Lost Treasures Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Hiram Walker’s Crystal Gin
3/4 oz Lapponia Lingonberry liquer
3/4 oz fresh orange juice
1/4 oz Henkes anisette
Shake well with ice. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Thursday Night Loaded: Don’t Panic

This is the 42nd edition of Thursday Night Loaded. And as any hoopy frood knows, that’s a pretty significant number. Why, it’s no less than the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

Or so says Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A book that also contains a fair bit of wisdom on the preparation and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Naturally, then, for TNL #42, we’re going to take a look at what The Guide calls the best drink in existence: The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

What’s a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, you ask? Well….

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

It says that the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.

The Guide also tells you on which planets the best Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters are mixed, how much you can expect to pay for one and what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate afterwards.

The Guide even tells you how you can mix one yourself.

Take the juice from one bottle of that Ol’ Janx Spirit, it says.

Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V — Oh that Santraginean sea water, it says. Oh those Santraginean fish!!!

Allow three cubes of Arcturan Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzine is lost).

Allow four litres of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in memory of all those happy Hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia.

Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heady odours of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle sweet and mystic.

Drop in the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger. Watch it dissolve, spreading the fires of the Algolian Suns deep into the heart of the drink.

Sprinkle Zamphuor.

Add an olive.

Drink … but … very carefully …

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Of course, the SLGA carries very few of the ingredients listed above. Fortunately, you can turn to one of the many Mock Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipes available on the internet.

Continue reading “Thursday Night Loaded: Don’t Panic”

Thursday Night Loaded: Mysterious Chartreuse

People may say what they like about the decay of Christianity; the religious system that produced green Chartreuse can never really die.

— from “Reginald on Christmas Presents” by Saki (Hector Hugh Munro)

You can’t beat Chartreuse for an origin story.

In 1605, a French military officer wandered into a Carthusian monastery clutching an alchemical recipe for what he claimed was the Elixir of Life. How did he come into possession of it? Why did he decide to pass this information on to The Church? What did the monks hope to gain from it? (Seriously, I can’t imagine anything more hellish than combining eternal life with celibacy.)

Continue reading “Thursday Night Loaded: Mysterious Chartreuse”

Thursday Night Loaded: Cocktail Fail

Chartreuse is a liquor I’ve looked at many times and shied away from buying because it’s a little pricey and it doesn’t appear in many cocktail recipes. Recently, though, I gave in to my craving for something exotic to drink and bought a bottle.

And the first cocktail I tried the Chartreuse on was the….

Pago Pago
1 1/2 oz golden rum
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp green Chartreuse
1/2 tsp crème de cacao
1/2 oz pineapple juice
Shake well with ice. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.

Wow. What a disappointment. The Pago Pagos I mixed up were unpleasant in the extreme. And not in a, “Man up, it’ll put hair on your chest,” sort of way. More in a, “Hope you’re not using that esophagus for the next few hours because I’m afraid we accidentally stripped the lining right off it” way.

I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong here. I’ve made two attempts at the Pago Pago. Once as prepared above and once using another recipe which calls for a quarter ounce (one and a half teaspoons) each of the crème de cacao and the Chartreuse.

Both versions are pretty vile. Sharp and acrid. Like a mouthful of knives.

The herbal flavours from the Chartreuse — which I’ve tried solo and is very fun — disappear completely leaving only the bitterness behind. The bitterness of a failed author. And while the chocolate notes from the cacao come through faintly, they seem as tortured and plaintive as the Easter Bunny would be if he were slowly dissolved in acid.

As for the pineapple juice, it’s a complete nonentity. And the rum… well, I was using the tail end of that bottle of Cruzan, a rum I enjoy, and yet once it has passed through the crucible of the Pago Pago, even a liquor this good comes out tasting like pirate perspiration.

In the end, I’m inclined to blame the citrus for this cocktail fail. It seems the most likely source of all the sourness and acid. I’ve often found that many drink recipes are improved when you cut back on the amount of lime or lemon demanded. It almost makes me think that the citrus we grow today is less sweet than what was available back in the early part of the last century when many of these cocktails were devised.

Of course, maybe I’m being too hard on that poor half ounce of lime. Maybe it isn’t the fault of a single ingredient. Maybe this particular combination of elements is simply unsound. Chemistry gone wrong.

Anyway, in short: I did not like this cocktail. Not one bit. As far as I can tell, the Pago Pago is best avoided.

Thursday Night Loaded: Bye, Bye Bartenders Secret And Baking With Booze

Excellent work, Regina. I was in the South Albert liquor store this week and it would seem that one of the liquors I most despise has just been delisted. Finally, the SLGA is using their powers for good. (Unlike when they ditched Bols Creme de Cacao or when they temporarily dropped Hendrick’s.)

You may recall me raging against Bartenders Secret Whiskey Sour back in the summer? Well, thanks to your good taste and unwillingness to tolerate that little charlatan cocktail, it hasn’t been selling very well and is being put on sale just before being yanked from the shelves forever.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Of course, I wasn’t in the liquor store to check up on the status of Bartenders Secret. I was there to purchase a bottle of Schloss Kirsch. It’s an Austrian, cherry-based liqueur. And while it’s an ingredient in cocktails such as the Blackjack, the Godfrey No. One, the Lady Finger and the Moonlight, it is more often used these days in the making of genuine Black Forest Cake.

We were having guests over for dinner one evening, you see, and for some reason I got it in my head that, instead of mixing drinks, as they’d be bringing their kid over and we’d have our kids running around, it’d be smarter for me to make a fancy dessert.

Smarter my eye.

I discovered that just because a person can mix up a respectable cocktail, it does not mean he’ll be able to bake a decent cake.

That said, here’s the recipe I used….

Continue reading “Thursday Night Loaded: Bye, Bye Bartenders Secret And Baking With Booze”

Thursday Night Loaded: Win A Cocktail Book And DVD!

Maybe it’s all the prairie dog birthday excitement inspiring me but for Thursday Night Loaded number 38 (that’s right, there are 37 posts worth of boozy wisdom on the blog right now), I thought it was about time I gave something away.

So I’m running a contest. And if it goes well, there may be more.

Up for grabs, a Complete Cocktails boxset. It includes a 64-page, spiral bound cocktail book by master bartender Sebastian Reaburn and a DVD featuring over an hour of mixological marvelry.

All this can be yours. And all you have to do is identify the sound clip below. Who is speaking and where does the clip come from?

The first person to post the right answer in the comments wins the cocktail boxset.

MysteryCocktailClip by Paul Dechene

To be honest, I’m worried this will be too easy but there it is. And remember, I’m looking for a two part answer, Who is speaking and where does the clip come from?

Thursday Night Loaded: You’re Killing Me, Beppi! (With Profanity Warning)

Stop right fucking there! I did not just fucking see that!

Sorry. Let’s back up: Beppi Crosariol is a columnist for the Globe and Mail who covers wine, cocktails and fine dining. I’ve watched some of his videos and he’s mixed up some interesting drinks. And when his clip from January 04 promised to show how to mix the perfect Manhattan, I was intrigued.

The Manhattan is my favourite cocktail.

So I watched. It started out fine. Two parts good Canadian whisky. One part sweet Italian vermouth. A couple dashes of Angostura bitters. My only quibbles to this point were the Lilliputian size of his shaker and his ham-fisted method of stirring.

Next came the garnish and this was followed by the fucking atrocity you can see in the screen cap above.

What the fuck, Beppi? I’m sorry. Allow me to rephrase: What. The. Fuck?!? Pouring maraschino cherry juice directly into a Manhattan? Have you gone lunatic?

For the record, it is a fucking tragedy that we have to sully our Manhattans with the processed globes of faux-fruit that pass for maraschino cherries these days. Unfortunately, finding a substitute can be a problem.

Maraschino cherries, upon a time, began life as actual marasca cherries — a type of sour cherry that originated in Croatia. These were then preserved in maraschino liqueur, which was itself made from marasca cherries.

Later — and some say this happened during Prohibition, others say earlier — people tried to find an alcohol free version of the maraschino cherry. The formula they eventually hit upon was to first brine reject cherries of any old variety and then, because the brine leached the colour and flavour out of the fruit, you’d soak them in a mixture of food colouring, simple syrup and a little essence of almond.

So you can see how the maraschino cherries we have available to us today are just manufactured, fradulent, former fruits. Compounding the injustice that we must settle for such counterfeit garnish by drizzling an extra dram of that Jezebel juice into a cocktail is naked perversion. Pure and simple.

Beppi. I am so very disappointed.

Thursday Night Loaded: Pernod Saves The Day

I work from home and my wife is on maternity leave. It means our whole family spends a lot of time kicking around the house. It’s really nice. But it means a lot of little trivialities are starting to fall by the wayside. Like what day of the week it is or what the weather’s like.

I only know it’s really, really cold.

Beyond that, I have to admit I’m kind of foggy on the details. With that in mind….

The Foggy Day
1 1/2 oz gin
1/4 oz Pernod
Shake gin and Pernod well with ice. Strain over ice into a pre-chilled old-fashioned glass. Rub the lemon around the outside of the glass. Drop lemon slice into glass.

(How’s that for a cocktail segue? You wouldn’t know that I almost forgot it was Thursday night and that I’m just pulling this column out of my ass.)

According to Thomas Mario, the Foggy Day was created by Jerry Wyman, head bartender at the Phoenix Playboy Club at some point in the 70s. It’s an interesting cocktail but certainly not one for the faint of heart. Neither of its main constituents are what you would consider simple pleasures.

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