Tuesday, October 14, 2008

MxMo 32: Guilty Pleasures


TV and movies must be trying to tell me something . This is the second consecutive post where something I drink is linked with a film or show. Much like Mad Men (which I referenced in my previous post), the movie The Big Lebowski has an alcoholic component- specifically, one drink: The White Russian.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “But Dr. B., White Russians are made with vodka, and don’t booze nerds universally loathe vodka??”

Normally I would respond with an unequivocal “yes”, but something tells me this month’s theme will have more than one self-professed drink snob sheepishly admitting that vodka does periodically cross his or her lips. Busted!


Briefly back to The Big Lebowski: I’ve discovered in the course of entirely unscientific testing that The Big Lebowski falls in the category of things people either love irrationally or despise (another parallel with Mad Men, by the way). Actually, now that I think about it, this applies to the entire Coen Brothers’ body of work. (The Bamboo Babe and I have had epic arguments over the merits of Barton Fink, for example).

But concerning the White Russian, I’d wager that Lebowski did more to increase the profile of the White Russian than anything in recent memory (my memory, anyway). I don’t think there was any formal product-placement shenanigans at work in the film, but regardless, the folks who make Kahlua owe the Coens big-time. Vodka companies should probably thank them too, but they’re likely too busy figuring out new wacky marketing schemes to steal the spotlight from Dan Aykroyd’s “filtered-through-diamonds-and packaged-in-a-skull-shaped-bottle” product.

On the guilty pleasure angle, I honestly don’t remember the first time I had one. I may not have immediately liked it, but something kept it on my radar. Maybe it was the ease of assembly. Perhaps the accessible ingredients. Maybe it’s just that it doesn’t taste half bad if you make it right. Personally, I find this recipe to my liking:

White Russian

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. Kahlua
cream (or half & half, or whatever similar dairy product you find palatable)

In an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes, add vodka, Kahlua and cream to fill. Stir if you feel like it.

I should point out that I already take a decent ration of abuse from some of my colleagues for confessing that I occasionally drink vodka. Obviously, this post won’t help. But I can withstand whatever they level at me.

As long as they don’t take my rug.

UPDATE- I was just alerted to the fact that Vidiot over at Cocktailians proves that great minds drink alike.

UPDATE Part 2: The Revenge- The roundup has arrived, so go swing by Two at the Most and witness the collective shame. You're soaking in it!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mr. Draper drinks rye.


Ever have a drink or two while watching TV? I know I do. Sometimes I’m absentmindedly sipping whatever happens to be handy while channel surfing. Other times I make a point of having a specific drink (or type of drink) that seems appropriate for what I’ll be watching. Certain shows just demand it. Mad Men is one of those shows.

To allay any fears, I’ll state right now that I will not be rambling on for several paragraphs about the show. There are tons of places you can go to read people rhapsodizing about how great it is. If you’re a fan, you understand the fuss. If you’re not, it’s unlikely any amount of gushing will make you a convert.

Personally, I’m a devotee. I happen to think it’s far and away the best thing on television right now, and it’s one of few shows I never miss. And I never miss it with a drink.

Sometimes it’s a Martini. Sometimes it’s a Mai Tai. I think I had a few Cuba Libres once, but don’t hold me to it. However, I do know that I’ve had rye on the rocks on more than one occasion, and realized during one particular episode that it was the spirit of choice on both sides of the screen that night.

So in a nod to a show that masterfully combines detail and restraint, I suggest indulging in a drink that does the same: The Old-Fashioned. (made with rye, naturally)


1.5 oz. rye
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
One orange slice

In an old-fashioned glass (convenient, eh?) muddle the orange slice, sugar cube and bitters. Drop in 2 or 3 large ice cubes, add rye and stir.

What can be said about a classic like this that hasn’t already been said before by people far better at it than I am? Suffice to say that if you make it correctly, you’ll know. As for which rye to use, I believe personal preference should be the order of the day. I tried three: Wild Turkey, Old Overholt, and Sazerac 6-year old. The Bird is smooth, the Double-O is piercing, and the Baby Saz is like a warm, soft blanket. All of them work well.

I should note that the recipe shown above is a hybrid of those listed in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails and Hollinger & Schwartz’s The Art of the Bar. It suits my taste, and I feel it’s faithful to the original intent of the drink. Like other members of the classic cocktail canon, there is considerable debate over what constitutes an authentic, accurate Old-Fashioned…and I’m not going to throw gas on that fire.

Of course, you could always do away with silly things like recipes and just put some goddamn rye in a glass and drink it. If it’s good enough for Mr. Draper, it’s certainly good enough for the likes of you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lion's Tail/ Jasper's Jamaican Cocktail


Lion’s Tail

2 oz. Bourbon
½ oz. St. Elizabeth allspice dram
½ oz. Lime juice
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

- Courtesy of the fine collective that is LUPEC Boston

One of my favorite things about the Web is that it grants people a means to share common, interests. Do you collect strange objects? Are you into obscure history? Have you spent weekends engaging in odd activities? Then there are probably sites, forums and chat rooms that cater to your area(s) of interest.

Me, I like playing with booze (and apparently writing about it too). Fortunately, there is a whole online community that does likewise, as evidenced by that big pile of links over on the right. I say “fortunately“, because without them, I’d pretty much be cooking up drinks in near-solitude, with no one to swap recipes with, compare notes, find out about new products, arrange get-togethers, etc. A man who just made his first Zombie and has no one to talk to about it is a sad thing indeed.

Which is why I try to read as many cocktail blogs as possible, as often as I can manage. Given how large and enthusiastic the online cocktail geek community is, it can be daunting. But even when I can only take a quick peek here and there, I always get a good glimpse into what my fellow booze nerds are up to…and come away learning something. At the very least my curiosity gets jump-started.

Such was the case a few days ago when I ran across the Lion’s Tail over at the LUPEC Boston site. The recipe caught my eye because:

a) it contained Bourbon, which I’ve been enjoying the heck out of lately.

b) it contained allspice dram, which I’ve been looking for an excuse to use whenever I can.

c) I couldn’t imagine what it would taste like, so I was definitely intrigued.

I thought, “This is what boozeblogging is about. Somebody puts up a drink recipe they like, and hopes someone else will try it and like it too.” (Granted, it’s not entirely what boozeblogging is about, but it’s one of the aspects I like best).

Once I stopped trying to imagine what the drink would taste like and actually made the darn thing, I liked it. It’s got a tartness that pokes you in the first sip or two, but gradually mellows. The allspice dram really puts its stamp on things, and strangely, the Bourbon felt like it almost disappeared. I don’t mean that in a bad way…it just seemed to react so smoothly with the other ingredients that it was as though it had become some nifty new flavor altogether.

In a nutshell, it’s very drinkable and I tip my hat to the LUPEC gals for making me aware of it. But the whole time I was sipping away, I kept thinking, “Why does this seem so familiar?”

I think it’s because one of the drinks I’ve been enjoying ever since discovering it at Tales of the Cocktail is “Jasper’s Jamaican Cocktail.” After reviewing the ingredients for both, JJC and the Lion’s Tail strike me as being pretty similar:

Lion’s Tail

2 oz. Bourbon
½ oz. St. Elizabeth allspice dram
½ oz. Lime juice
1 dash Angostura bitters

Jasper’s Jamaican Cocktail

1 ¼ oz. Cruzan Estate Dark Rum
½ oz. St. Elizabeth allspice dram
½ oz. Lime juice
½ teaspoon Fee Bros. Rock Candy syrup

They part company with regard to base spirit and their respective bitter/sweet angle, but otherwise I’d say they could at least use each other’s ID’s to get into a bar. The nice thing is, they are actually two different drinks, taste-wise. If you like your drinks a tad sweeter, I’d suggest going for Jasper. If you want a little more edge, The Lion’s Tail is probably up your alley.

But they’re both very good. I suggest you make one of each, and enjoy them while reading some blogs. Or better yet, make one of each and then POST on a blog- I need something to read.

Random Recommendation: Even though the recipe doesn’t call for it, the Lion’s Tail seems like it wouldn’t be half bad with a couple drops of Absinthe in it.