the gumbo pages

looka, <lʊ´-kə> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look"; in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans, it is usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  

2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, cocktails as cuisine, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community ... and occasionally movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 1:12pm PDT, 12/31/2007

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Buy my New Orleans music box set!

Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens

"Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" is a 4-CD box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene, from R&B to jazz to funk to Latin to blues to zydeco to klezmer (!) and more, including a full-size, 80-page book.

Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores (such as the Louisiana Music Factory, because you should be supporting local New Orleans retailers) or via Amazon if you insist.

The box set was the subject of a 15-minute profile on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" on Feb. 6, 2005, and a segment on Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" on Apr. 3, 2005. Here are some nice blurbs from the reviews (a tad immodest, I know; I'm not generally one to toot my own horn, but let's face it, I wanna sell some records here.)

*      *      *

"More successfully than any previous compilation, Doctors... captures the sprawling eclecticism, freewheeling fun and constant interplay of tradition and innovation that is at the heart of Crescent City music." -- Keith Spera, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"... if you DO know someone who's unfortunate enough to have never heard these cuts, press this monumentally adventurous box and its attendant booklet upon them. It's never too late to learn" -- Robert Fontenot, OffBeat magazine, New Orleans

"... the best collection yet of Louisiana music." -- Scott Jordan, The Independent, Lafayette, Louisiana.

"[T]he year's single most awesome package" -- Buddy Blue, San Diego Union-Tribune

"This four-CD box set doesn't miss a Crescent City beat ... For anyone who has enjoyed the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this is Jazz Fest in a box. ***1/2" -- Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times

"... excellently compiled, wonderfully annotated ... New Orleans fans will know much of this by heart, though they may not remember it sounding so good; those who don't know what it's like to miss New Orleans will quickly understand." -- Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press.

"... a perfect storm when it comes to reissues. This box set is musically exciting, a complete representation of its subject matter, and just plain fun to listen." -- Charlie B. Dahan,

"... one of the best impressions of a city's musical blueprint that you're likely to ever find." -- Zeth Lundy,

"... an unacademic, uncategorized album that suits the city's time-warped party spirit." -- Jon Pareles, The New York Times

How to donate to this site:

Your donations help keep this site going. PayPal's the best way -- just click the button below, and thanks!

You can also donate via the Honor System, if you wish (but they deduct a larger fee from your donation and I keep less).

(Also, here's a shameless link to my Amazon Wish List.)

Buy stuff!

You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

2006:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2005:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2004:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

My Photos on Flickr
My Darlin' New Orleans...

The Flag of The City of New Orleans

Shop New Orleans! Visit the stores linked here to do your virtual online shopping in New Orleans. The city needs your money!

Greater N.O. Community Data Center
New Orleans Wiki

Gambit Weekly & The Times-Picayune
Scat Magazine
WDSU-TV (Channel 6, NBC)
WGNO-TV (Channel 26, ABC)
WNOL-TV (Channel 38, WB)
WTUL-FM (91.5, Progressive radio)
WVUE-TV (Channel 8, FOX)
WWL-TV (Channel 4, CBS)
WWNO-FM (89.9, classical, jazz, NPR)
WWOZ-FM (90.7, Best Radio Station in the Universe)
WYES-TV (Channel 12, PBS)


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

2 Millionth Weblog
A Frolic of My Own
Ashley Morris
Blogging New Orleans
Dispatches from Tanganyika
Home of the Groove
Humid City
Library Chronicles
Mellytawn Dreams
Metroblogging N.O.
People Get Ready
Da Po'Blog
Suspect Device Blog
The Third Battle of New Orleans
World Class New Orleans
The Yat Pundit
Your Right Hand Thief
Cocktail hour.

"We are still heartily of the opinion that decent libation supports as many million lives as it threatens; donates pleasure and sparkle to more lives than it shadows; inspires more brilliance in the world of art, music, letters, and common ordinary intelligent conversation, than it dims." -- Charles H. Baker, Jr.

   The Internet's most comprehensive
   and indispensible database of
   authenticated cocktail recipes,
   ingredients, reseearch and more.
   By Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

Museum of the American Cocktail
   Founded by Dale DeGroff and many
   other passionate spirits in Jan. 2005.
   Celebrating a true American cultural
   icon: the American Cocktail.
   (Their weblog.)

*     *     *

The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non of cocktails,
   and the quintessential New Orleans
   cocktail. Learn to make it.)

The Footloose Cocktail
   (An original by Wes;
   "Wonderful!" - Gary Regan.
   "Very elegant, supremely
   sophisticated" - Daniel Reichert.)

The Hoskins Cocktail
   (An original by Chuck;
   "It's nothing short of a
   masterpiece." - Gary Regan)

*     *     *

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Book Collection
   (Constantly growing)

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
   (A few things we like to
   drink at home, plus a couple
   we don't, just for fun.)

*     *     *

Peychaud's Bitters
   (Indispensible for Sazeracs
   and many other cocktails.
   Order them here.)

Angostura Bitters
   (The gold standard of bitters,
   fortunately available everywhere
   worldwide. Insist on it.)

Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6
   (Complex and spicy orange
   bitters for your Martinis,
   Old Fashioneds and many more.
   Order them here.)

Fee Brothers' Bitters
   (Classic orange bitters,
   peach bitters and a cinnamony
   "Old Fashion" aromatic bitters,
   plus new lemon & grapefruit bitters!)

The Bitter Truth
   (A new brand of bitters
   from Germany: orange, lemon,
   aromatic bitters and more!)

*     *     *

   (The study of booze with Camper English)

Alcohol (and how to mix it)
   (David Wondrich)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

The Art of Drink:
   An exploration of Spirits & Mixology.
   (Darcy O'Neil)

Bar Mix Master
   (Brad Ellis, New Orleans)

Beachbum Berry:
   (Jeff Berry, world-class expert
   on tropical drinks)

The Cocktail Chronicles
   (Paul Clarke's weblog)

Cocktail Nerd
   (Gabriel Szaszko)

A Dash of Bitters
   (Michael Dietsch)
   (Lauren Clark)

DrinkBoy and the
   Community for the
   Cultured Cocktail
   (Robert Hess, et al.)

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Drink Trader
   (Online magazine for the
   drink trade)

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)

Imbibe Magazine
   (Celebrating the world in a glass)

Jeff Morgenthaler
   (Bartender/mixologist, Eugene OR)

Jimmy's Cocktail Hour
   (Jimmy Patrick)

Kaiser Penguin
    (Rick Stutz, bringing us cocktails
    and great photographs)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)
   (Ladies United for the
   Preservation of
   Endangered Cocktails)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

The Ministry of Rum
   (Everything you always wanted to know)

The Modern Mixologist
   (Tony Abou-Ganim)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
   (Sando, LaDove,
   Swanky et al.)

Mr. Mixer
   (Hundreds of cocktail recipes ...
   in Hungarian. Well, why not?
   Sajnos, nem beszélek magyarul.)

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)

Off the Presses
   (Robert Simonson)

Oh, Gosh!
   (Jay Hepburn)

Spirit Journal
   (F. Paul Pacult)

Spirits and Cocktails
   (Jamie Boudreau)

Spirits Review
   (Chris Carlsson)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

The Thirstin' Howl
   (John Myers)

Trader Tiki's Booze Blog
   (Blair Reynolds)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

The Wormwood Society
   (Dedicated to promoting accurate,
   current information about absinthe)

Let's eat!

New Orleans:
Culinary Concierge (N.O. food & wine magazine)
Mr. Lake's Non-Pompous New Orleans Food Forum
The New Orleans Menu
Notes from a New Orleans Foodie

Food-related weblogs:
Chocolate and Zucchini
Honest Cuisine
Il Forno
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu
Waiter Rant

More food!
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Chowhound (L.A.)
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
The Hungry Passport
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
Southern Food & Beverages Museum
Southern Foodways Alliance
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine
Wine Enthsiast
The Wine Spectator
Wine Today
Zinfandel Advocates & Producers

Wine/spirits shops in our 'hood:
Colorado Wine Co., Eagle Rock
Mission Liquors, Pasadena
Silverlake Wine, Silverlake
Chronicle Wine Cellar, Pasadena

Other wine/spirits shops we visit:
Beverage Warehouse, Mar Vista
Wally's Wine & Spirits, Westwood
The Wine House, West L.A.

Reading this month:

In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks, by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan.

How's Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture and the Art of Drinking Well, by Eric Felten.

Jude: Level 1, by Julian Gough.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
The Frames
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Professor Longhair
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
Toasted Heretic
Uncle Tupelo

Tom Morgan's Jazz Roots

Miles of Music

New Orleans

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

No Depression


Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA

Talking furniture:

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
   Stream the last "Down Home"
   for 1 week after broadcastk

   Live MP3 audio stream

Bob Walker's New Orleans Radio Shrine
   (A rich history of N.O. radio)
   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Raidió Idirlíon
   (Irish language & music)
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

In the cinema:
Babel (****)
Children of Men (****)
Notes on a Scandal (***-1/2)
Zodiac (****)
Grindhouse (**-1/2)
28 Weeks Later (****)
Spider-Man 3 (***)
Rescue Dawn (***-1/2)
1408 (***)
Live Free or Die Hard (***-1/2)
Ocean's Thirteen (**-1/2)
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer(**-1/2)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (***-1/2)
The Bourne Ultimatum (****)
Death at a Funeral (***)
Ratatouille (*****)
Once (****)


Lookin' at da TV:

"Battlestar Galactica"
"One Tree Hill"
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
"The Simpsons"
"Top Chef"
"Father Ted"


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project
(My pics therein: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)

My photographs at Flickr


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

by Jonathan Rosenberg

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

Lulu Eightball,
by Emily Flake

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

by Walt Kelly

Suspect Device,
by Greg Peters

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak


Polly Ticks: (Progressive politics & news)
Daily Kos (My favorite political weblog)
Eschaton (The Mighty Atrios)
Hullaballoo (The Mighty Digby)
Media Matters for America (Debunking right-wing media lies)
Orcinus (David Neiwert)
PostSecret (Secrets sent in via postcards; astonishingly beautiful, funny and sad.)
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TAPPED (The American Prospect Online)
Think Progress
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.)

Borowitz Report
(Political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Fray (Your stories)
Landover Baptist (Better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (Opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (Scarily funny news/satire)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert. (Read this.) (Not the actual White House, but it should be)

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
Creek Running North
Ethel the Blog
Un Fils d'un État Rouge
Follow Me Here
Franklin Avenue
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
Jesus' General
Mark A. R. Kleiman
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
Martini Republic
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
No More Mr. Nice Guy!
Not Right About Anything
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?
Your Right Hand Thief

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
michael p.
tracy and david

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site


"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."

-- George W. Bush, describing what it's like to be governor of Texas, Governing Magazine, July 1998

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

-- George W. Bush,, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

-- George W. Bush, Business Week, July 30, 2001

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.3 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

LOOKA! Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

 "Eating, drinking and carrying on..."  -- Adelaide Brennan

  Monday, December 31, 2007

There goes another year ...   Damn. That was fast. I'm reminded of the quote someone attributed to Bea Arthur: "When you get to my age, it seems as if every 15 minutes it's breakfast again." It hasn't gotten quite that bad for me yet (I'm not a Golden Girl, after all), but ... damn.

Thanks for all the reads, and thanks for all the participation in the comments section. We hardly got any wingnuts this year, which is a pleasant and welcome surprise, and we seem to have picked up some new regulars. Let's have more of that!

I'll leave you with a few cocktail ideas, and catch up on more food and drink porn in the new year. Undoubtedly there'll be plenty, despite the fact that I'm gonna need to hit Weight Watchers again, pretty hard, as of January 2.

Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve, y'all!

A midnight kiss.   This wonderful, lyrical article on The Champagne Cocktail (and on New Orleans too, and how she still loves you) was written by Ryan D. Mayer, and appeared in the January 2008 issue of Where Y'At, "New Orleans' Monthly Entertainment Magazine," a freebie you can pick up all over town. I had been on my way back to the Northshore to my folks' place, from visiting my sisters and nephew on the West Bank, and was hungry. It was fairly late on Boxing Day, and I knew Ye Olde College Inn would still be open. As I dined on Oysters en Brochette and Grilled Drum smothered with Crawfish Étouffée atop Crisp Sautéed Vegetables, I read this article and it damn near brought a tear to my eye.

It also told me what I'd be drinking at the stroke of midnight tonight, and what I'll suggest you drink as well. Ryan begins waxing poetic on the joys and pleasures of Champagne, then goes on (links and emphases mine):

How does one confidently improve real Champagne? One presumes, I suppose. There are a few dresses Champagne can slip into that show off her best features. The French 75 is Champagne dressed like Grace Kelly or Rita Hayworth. On the other hand, the Mimosa is more like her Sunday morning slippers. The Bellini is a summer dress worn especially for her boyfriend. The Champagne Cocktail, a classic, sort of little known cocktail, is Champagne in her bedroom, in front of her mirror, getting ready to go out. She is excited, but way cool, sipping lightly a little something while she cleans ups, fastens some delicate snaps and buckles, applies a touch of red to her lips and smiles a devious smile at the result.

At the Marigny Brasserie on Frenchmen Street, the pretty young thing there will prepare you the Champagne Cocktail. She will place one neat sugar cube in the bottom of the clean flute. She'll next shake out three drops of Peychaud's Bitters, saturating the cube in crimson, then fill the flute with the chilled Champagne. Perhaps she will drop a cherry in, splashing just a tendril of fizz over the small rim. The bitters, aroma and all, will not overpower your Champagne, nor diminish the taste, so if you're going to make it up at home for your objet du desir, be sure to use a superior Champagne. (Again, Hemingway had the right idea in Paris: Veuve Cliquot is the best.) The bitters do change the dynamic -- the drink is perhaps more vigorous than a glass of the bubbly alone. Variety being the spice of life and all, this is a good thing. The sugar in the drink on the other hand, may be there for effect. Champagne is somewhat sweet by nature. If adding sugar seems a bit excessive, wait until you see your Brasserie mademoiselle pour the drink.

The explosive nature of the Champagne reacts with the ruby cube in some sort of highly scientific and most probably ungoogleable way, making for a bit of excitement in the most southern part of the vessel of the stemware. It's a visual warm-up to watch the sugar melt and alight into the sunray liquid. It's flirty. It's coy. Once you raise the cool, slick flute up for a sip, then it's a midnight kiss.

I've actually never tried a Champagne Cocktail with Peychaud's Bitters, oddly enough. We will tonight. And by sheer coinkydink, we have a bottle of Veuve Cliquot chilling in the fridge already. I must also thank Ryan for the neologism "ungoogleable," perhaps my new favorite. (The hell with all this ridiculous "w00t" stuff; despite all this "word of the year" hype I'm convinced it's something no thinking human being ever actually says aloud.)

Here's where Ryan got me dripping salt water into my oysters:

This New Year I will spend in my home, New Orleans, after a long and somewhat tedious year back and forth to New York. It happens that this year more than most, I have need to look forward. I don't know what happens next, but my optimism is strong, my abilities iron, my beliefs crystallizing. I will be there, my family and true friends behind me to raise a glass and celebrate this. In New Orleans, we can build and rebuild, with steel or hope. I've brought up the steel there after she filled her belly with the lake. Now I go to the place I call home to bring up hope. To an outsider, it may seem the last place in the world that can foster this essence of human emotion: hope. The outsider would be wrong. The outsider doesn't know the value of a Champagne Cocktail made with Peychaud's and not Angostura. The outsider doesn't know the chilling charms of New Orleans, that ancient wharf whore, her eccentric language known only to those that came-hither on a moonlit night. New Orleans, with all her post-K wretchedness, is more beautiful for her survival. The other thing is that New Orleans knows I'm lost, I have screwed up, I have left her, I have met with despair and remorse, but she welcomes me back, pouring sparkling wine over bittered sugar. She's uncanny, but she inspires. Hope isn't a well in a soul, you see, it needs inspiration. New Orleans, no matter her scars, no matter yours, will give you inspiration and a midnight kiss.

Amen, my brother. Happy New Year.

Cocktail of the Other Day.   We're drinking Champagne Cocktails tonight at midnight, people, but there's no reason you can't have one of these first, making a nod to the previous century while we attempt to hold out hope in our hearts that somehow someone can manage to pull the current one out of the toilet (Election Day could go a long way toward that lofty goal).

I spent the early part of Christmas Eve at The Swizzle Stick Bar at Café Adelaide, being attended to by the Queen of New Orleans Cocktails, Lu Brow, along with her excellent bartenders Mike, Kevin and Tommy. I began the evening with a most excellent Sazerac, continued with a most excellent Pegu Club (in which the teaspoon of lime juice came from two muddled lime half-wedges, which was a neat idea) and finally this one, which I was very pleasantly surprised to see on The Swizzle Stick's spectacular cocktail menu (even better than the last time I was in, unsurprisingly, given that Lu is the Queen and Ti and Lally, proprietors of the restaurant, are The Cocktail Chicks). It's a lovely, lovely drink, created in 1939 to commemorate Henry Dreyfus' gorgeously designed locomotive that pulled the 20th Century Limited between New York and Chicago.

The Twentieth Century Cocktail

The Twentieth Century Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces gin.
3/4 ounce Lillet blanc.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
1/2 ounce white crème de cacao.

Shake with cracked ice for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a long lemon peel.

Is it too early to create a Twenty-First Century Cocktail?

Oh, speaking of The Cocktail Chicks ...   I slept through NPR's "Morning Edition" this morning (we were up late last night with friends, sipping In The Land of Cocktails Réveillons and a couple of different absinthes, and eating chicken and chaurice sausage jambalaya) but thanks to a tip from Nate we enjoyed listening to Noah Adams talking cocktails with Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, co-proprietors of Café Adelaide and Commander's Palace (hi, Ti and Lally!). As you may know, their new book In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks has been out for a couple of months now, and is a fun romp through classic, New Orleans and new cocktails, as well as specials from both restaurants. Add it to your late Christmas shopping list!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, December 25, 2007 :: Christmas Day ::

Sinatra was swinging, all the drunks they were singing ...   Not only is it Christmas today (and a merry one to all!), but guess who turned FIFTY today!

Shane Macgowan's fifty!

Shane's one of the greatest songwriters ever (and "Fairytale of New York," co-written with Jem Finer, is my favorite Christmas song EVER), but given his longtime level of self-abuse who knew he'd last this long? Let's raise a glass to his (relative) indestructability, if not that of his teeth.

Let's hear it again, shall we ... and watch, particularly after the ridiculous hoo-hah the other day:

I turned my face away, and dreamed about you ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, y'all.   Sorry for the lack of posting -- holiday frenzy means lots of extra work, shopping and travel -- but presumably y'all have been busy yourselves.

Here's a little holiday greeting and a jingle-jangle-jingle from my most favoritest Christmas tree ornament. Have a wonderful holiday!

Jingle jangle jingle, here comes Mr. Bingle, with another message from Kris Kringle ...

Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Felíz Navidad, Nollaig shona dhaoibh ...

A holiday card from New Orleans.   If you care about New Orleans, and especially if you lost anything, you need to watch this six-minute video by Matt Faust, hosted by The specific images are from a home in Chalmette (presumably the filmmaker's family home), but it'll hit home for any New Orleanian. Caution -- lumps in your throat and/or weeping may ensue.

Cocktail of the day.   If you haven't made aged eggnog, there's only really one choice for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the venerable Tom & Jerry. Professor Jerry Thomas famously claimed to have invented the drink and named it for himself, but as the great man was prone to tall tales, we can take that with a grain of salt -- well, a salt mine, actually, as his claim has been gently and fondly debunked of late, notably by both Dave Wondrich and Eric Felten in their recent tomes.

There's no reason we can't toast the Professor along with the holiday season, though as we quaff. The Tom & Jerry was once a staple of bars and homes for decades, although it's fallen out of favor in the last 40 or 50 years. It's a pity, because it's a terrific drink.

I've posted this drink before, but there ain't no reason not to do it again. Here's libation goddess Audrey Saunders' version:

Tom & Jerry

12 fresh eggs, yolks & whites separated.
2 pounds white sugar.
6 tablespoons fine Madagascar vanilla extract.
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice.
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, plus more for dusting.
4 dashes Angostura bitters.
6 ounces boiling milk, per drink.
1 ounce Bacardi 8 añejo rum per drink, plus 1 ounce for batter.
1 ounce Courvoisier VS Cognac, per drink.

Prepare the batter: Beat egg yolks until they are thin as water. Add sugar, spices, 1 ounce of rum, and vanilla to egg yolks (while beating). Beat egg whites until stiff and fold them into the egg yolk mixture. Refrigerate.

To serve: Place 2 ounces of batter in an Irish coffee mug. Add 1 ounce of rum, and 1 ounce of cognac. Fill with 6 ounces of boiling milk. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg.

(From Imbibe!, by David Wondrich)

By the way, speaking of which ... if you STILL haven't finished your Christmas shopping yet, hie thee to a bookstore and get Dave Wondrich's Imbibe!, which'll be the best present you could possibly give you your cocktailian (or even merely drinking) friends and family.

Add to that the aforementioned Eric Felten's new How's Your Drink?, as well as two more that I'll review further a bit later on, Ti Martin and Lally Brennan's In the Land of Cocktails, and Philip Collier's Mixing New Orleans.

Pork Porn.   "I have a pork emergency!"

Mary called week before last. She had been presented with a Christmas gift of a big box full of salumi (Italian cured meats) from Armandino Batali's shop in Seattle. (That's Mario's dad. He makes the best this side of Italy.)

"I have a pork emergency!"

Guanciale! (Hog jowl bacon from Lazio, the area around Rome.) Coppa! (Traditional Italian dry-cured pork shoulder.) Agrumi! (A new product, a salami cured with citrus and cardamom.)

"What am I gonna do with all this stuff?!" Don't panic! Call the Fat Pack. We'll all come over and help you eat it. I'll make bucatini all'Amatriciana, and we'll just eat the rest of the salumi.

Done! We ended up assembling seven people in less than 48 hours, and I got to cookin'.


Isn't that gorgeous? But you ain't seen nothin' yet ...

Pork Porn

My ... God.

I sliced this pound-and-a-half slab of guanciale by hand, and the aroma of the truly porky pork and that silky, unctuous fat ...

Oh my, I do believe I'm gettin' the vapuhs ... quick, find me a fainting couch!

Pork porn 2

Piles and piles of hand-sliced guanciale ... looka dat. I may swoon. It's ready to go on a sheet pan to render the fat with which I'll sauté the thick-sliced red onions, big chunks of garlic and crushed red pepper that goes in Bucatini all'Amatriciana (hollow spaghetti garnished in the style of the town of Amatrice), perhaps my favorite pasta dish and one of the all-time greats.

It can be made with pancetta or even regular American bacon, but it's at its most authentic (and at its best) with the deep, intensely porky flavor of guanciale.

Rendered guanciale

Here's the rendered guanciale, ready to go back into the pot after the red onions, garlic and crushed red pepper are sauced with the basic tomato sauce.

Coppa and agrumi

Mary lovingly displays the dry-cured pork shoulder and \ citrus-cardamom salami from Armandino Batali's Salumi Artisan Cured Meats in Seattle.

Red onions + 
garlic + crushed red pepper + pork fat + guanciale + basic tomato sauce + parsley + salt 'n pepper = bucatini all'Amatriciana

Red onions + garlic + crushed red pepper + pork fat + guanciale + basic tomato sauce + Italian parsley + salt 'n pepper + grated pecorino Romano = bucatini all'Amatriciana. (The guanciale just went back into the pot at this point.)

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Enough for about sixteen people, yum! (That's a really big pasta bowl, in case you can't tell from the scale of the photo.)

With some crusty Italian bread

Add some crusty Italian bread and a salad, and you've got one hell of a meal. Buon appetito!

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  Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Give the gift of bacon.   There are always, of course, myriad bacon and bacon-related gifts from our friends at The Grateful Palate, home of the Bacon of the Month Club. They have many wonderful artisanal bacons, but they don't have my recent favorite ...

Via Chef John Besh's Restaurant August in New Orleans, I've become a huge fan of Allan Benton's Smoked Country Bacon, which is one of the best I've ever had. It's only $20 for a four-pound order (deal!), and worth every penny. And if, for some bizarre reason, you don't think you can eat four pounds of bacon before it goes bad, they assure us that kept sealed and refrigerated the bacon will keep for "months."

Today's quote of the day comes from Dave Williams of the Asbury Park Press (thanks, Dave!), who found this quote in a gift roundup at Mighty Goods, pointing to Benton's bacon:

"You're lucky bacon comes from pigs, because if it came from angels, you'd probably still have to kill them. And then God would be extra pissed at you."

I dunno, would I kill an angel for bacon?

Yes. Yes I would. Of course.

Guest photos of the day.   These shots were very kindly sent along by Chris Hannah, bartender at Arnaud's French 75 Bar in New Orleans, who's been serving the Réveillon Cocktail and photographed them in action:

The R?veillon Cocktail

The Monkey Speaks His 
Mind ...

By the way, we covet those monkey lamps greatly, and would love to have one on our bar at home. But they're expensive! We might just have to break down and splurge.

New Orleans' best cocktails: Hot Buttered Rum.   Master bartender Chris McMillian shows us how to make one of the season's best drinks, perfect for snappy wintry weather. And no, you don't just plonk a pat of butter into a glass of hot rum -- there's a lot more to it.

I wouldn't mind a drop of pimento dram in that, too. :-)

The Cocktail Spirit, with Robert Hess.   Robert's been in high gear this week, getting out two new videos:

The Absinthe Drip

The allure of the "green fairy" is probably due in part to the illicit aura which surrounds this spirit, both in the wide-spread myths of its hallucinogenic properties, and that it is banned in many countries around the world. As the truth get's around that it isn't a hallucinogen, and as the bans gradually get lifted, we'll once again be able to enjoy absinthe for just it's taste, and the ritual associated with its service.

#     #     #

The Irish Coffee

No surprise, the Irish Coffee was invented in Ireland, but perhaps owes its popularity to the Buena Vista in San Francisco. In fact I was recently in Ireland, and at a cocktail lounge there they listed the "Buena Vista Irish Coffee" on their menu.

Indeed invented in Ireland, although perhaps not where you might think; in his new book How's Your Drink?, Eric Felten debunks the story we've all heard about how Irish Coffee was invented by a bartender at Shannon Airport.

Oh, and don't forget all your absinthe accessories and regalia from Cary Bonnecaze at La Maison d'Absinthe on Royal Street.

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  Monday, December 17, 2007

They say you better do as you are told ...   or maybe not.

Thirty years ago tonight, Elvis Costello and The Attractions were scheduled as the musical guest on the hottest new show on TV at the time, NBC's Saturday Night Live. They wanted to play their new song "Radio Radio," but were told by someone from the network that they couldn't; apparently the song was perceived as being "anti-media." They said okay, they'd do something else ... and during the live broadcast, eight seconds into the song "Less Than Zero," Elvis stopped the band and said, "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but there's no reason to do this song here," turned to the band, called out "OK, Radio Radio ... one two three four," and proceeded not to do as he was told.

I was watching that night, 16 at the time, a huge fan of the show already and a nascent Elvis Costello fan. I had no idea what was going on, but it was an electrifying moment, and a fantastic performance. As the story went, SNL producer Lorne Michaels went "apoplectic" back in the control room, and Elvis was told afterwards, amidst shriek and spittle, that his career was finished and he'd never play the show again. In fact, Elvis and the Attractions were not invited back for 12 years, and spend those ensuing years and the subsequent 18 years in a rather glorious career, for the most part (we'll just cringe and not think about the Ray Charles incident, as all was forgiven later). Way to you'll-never-eat-lunch-in-this-town-again, Lorne.

I can't remember the last time I had any desire to watch SNL; with a few exceptions, it has for the most part sucked since the departure of the Harry Shearer-Christopher Guest cast way back when.

(Oh, and ... 30 years ago?! Jesus Gawd, I'm old.)

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  Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cocktail of the day.   Courtesy of Gary Regan, via his book The Joy of Mixology. Someone gave us a big bag of oranges the other day, and Wes decided on this use to get things started. We're unsure as to whether this drink is pronounced "mor-REESE" or "MOR-ris;" we chose the latter, in a nod to E. M. Forster.

The Maurice Cocktail

1 ounce gin.
1/2 ounce dry vermouth.
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth.
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice.
1 dash Angostura bitters.

Combine with ice and shake for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Orange juice -- it's not just for breakfast anymore.

The Cocktail Spirit, with Robert Hess.   Ordinarily I'd raise an eyebrow at a drink that's basically a Tequila Alexander, but Robert sure does make this one look good.

The Frostbite Cocktail

For whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be a lot of cocktails made with tequila. Sure, there's the Margarita, which is still the best selling cocktail around, but aside from "Tequila Poppers" the landscape is relatively slim. The Frostbite might be one cocktail you've never heard of before, but frankly I feel it is worth checking out.

We'll give this one a try, as soon as I'm finished messing around with all these Réveillon variations that are being bandied about ... Carpano Antica, Punt E Mes, Dubonnet, pear liqueurs, who knew it was so flexible?!

Ike Turner, RIP.   His personal life notwithstanding, the man was a musical giant, and one of the architects of soul music. Here's a classic performance:

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  Monday, December 10, 2007

Cocktail of the day.   We got the lights on the tree last night, but got lazy and decided to save the ornamenting for tonight. We listened to Christmas music by Michael Doucet and The Blind Boys of Alabama, and sipped a cocktail. Yep, I'm flogging an original concoction again, but I really like this one and I hope you will too.

It was published in the July/August 2007 issue of Imbible Magazine, although there was a difference between their published recipe and mine -- my original recipe called for Carpano Antica Formula, the spiciest and most full-flavored sweet vermouth, while Imbibe called for Punt E Mes, which isn't how I usually make it. Vya sweet would also work if you don't have Carpano, but I think Punt E Mes adds a bitter edge that, to me, doesn't work quite as well in this cocktail. (See the comments for Paul's quite cogent reasoning for employing Punt E Mes as a substitute, though ... he's right, of course.)

If it's too dry for your taste, you can substitute a pear liqueur (Belle de Brillet, Marie Brizard Poire Williams or Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear) for the pear eau-de-vie.

It's full of holiday flavor, and, I think, perfect for the season. You'll need a rare ingredient, though, but if you've been experimenting with making pimento dram, or Jamaican allspice liqueur you'll already have some on hand. Rick and I have both had good luck mail-ordering the commercially-made stuff, Berry Hill Allspice Liqueur, from Reggae Treats. Homemade or shipped from Jamaica, if you're a serious cocktailian, you need this in your bar.

Also, I just heard from Chris Hannah, bartender at Arnaud's French 75 Bar in the French Quarter in New Orleans -- he's started serving this at the bar, although he's been using Dubonnet Rouge instead of the Carpano sweet vermouth, which I think is a great idea. (I can't wait to try it tonight!) Please do head over to the French 75 Bar, adjacent to Arnaud's Restaurant at 813 Bienville St. Tell him I said hi, and I'll see him in a couple of weeks.

The Réveillon Cocktail

2 ounces Laird's Bonded Straight Apple Brandy (or Calvados).
1/2 ounce pear eau-de-vie (clear pear brandy).
1/2 ounce allspice liqueur, or "pimento dram."
1/4 ounce Carpano Antica vermouth, or Dubonnet rouge.
1 dash aromatic bitters (Fee's Old Fashioned, Whiskey Barrel Aged, Angostura or Abbott's if you've got 'em).

Combine with ice in a mixing glass and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with either a cinnamon stick or a whole star anise pod (which is more Christmassy).

Chris, thanks a million -- I'm honored and thrilled that this drink is being served not only in New Orleans, but also at an establishment as venerable as Arnaud's.

A Tom Waits Christmas.   From a few years back (to say the least), Tom performs "Silent Night" as an intro to "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis" ...

A heartwarming tale for Christmas.

Recipe of the day.   Because everything tastes better with You-Know-What ... it's Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Maple Cinnamon Glaze. Ho ho ho!

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  Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cocktail of the day.   A trip to Target to buy new Christmas tree lights (an experience potentially just this side of Hell, but relatively painless except for our indecision as to what kind to get), putting the icicle lights up around the eaves of the house, getting the tree up (but not decorated or lit yet), and we were ready for a drink. What kind? "The kind I can make without having to get into the bar, 'cause I don't wanna move all those Christmas ornament boxes that are piled up on front of it," Wes said. Good enough reason for a cocktail choice.

One bottle was already out, the other two were in the fridge. Easy peasy. And damn good.

The Vya Perfect Martini

2 ounces Beefeater gin.
1/2 ounce Vya extra dry vermouth.
1/2 ounce Vya sweet vermouth.
Lemon twist.

Combine with ice in a mixing glass and stir for at least 30 seconds, until ice cold and silky smooth. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the twist.

That's a 2:1 Martini, and there's no reason to fear it, especially with this vermouth. Wes chose Beefeater not only because it was already out, but because he wanted a robust enough gin to stand up to the assertive vermouth, and no orange bitters, also because he wanted no competition with the vermouth. Mighty, mighty fine.

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  Friday, December 7, 2007

Make it right.   They're starting to call Brad Pitt "St. Brad" in New Orleans. For good reason.

He's spearheaded Make It Right New Orleans, spending millions of his own dollars and coordinating efforts among architects and builders, to build 150 new homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, environmentally green and architecturally and culturally consistent, to help displaced residents come home and live in their old neighborhoods again. In the meantime, on the site will be a huge drive-through art installation called "The Pink Project," both as an ephemeral art installation/memorial to the victims of the levee failures and as a means of raising awareness of the rebuilding project:

Pitt is slated to lead news reporters on a tour around the area's conglomeration of pink art pieces, then to issue a public call to corporations, foundations and church organizations around the world to "adopt" the blocks, for $150,000 each, to support his project. [...]

Eventually, Pitt said, planners will turn the all-natural pink fabric covering into novelty items, such as bags, that will be sold to raise more money.

"Why pink? For me it screams the loudest," Pitt said. "It says that this place, where so many people thrived, is still sitting there like a barren wasteland, and we can change that."

In addition to being a tool for fundraising, the giant pink pieces will, Pitt said, become the ornamentation for a nightly driving tour in the style of City Park's annual "Celebration in the Oaks" festival, albeit with a more somber focus. Expected to open to the public Tuesday evening and extend for five weeks, the tour will feature the large pieces interspersed with 1,000 smaller bulbs representing the residents who died in Katrina. All the lights will be solar-powered, he said.

In addition, the whole installation will be laid out in the precise pattern of the constellations as they glowed on the night of Aug. 29, 2005, he said.

I think this is stupendous. My hat's off to Brad, a new New Orleanian who's actually doing something valuable with his money and his celebrity. Not that I wasn't already a big fan anyway; as Oyster said, "Hell, I can't even begrudge him his decision not to do any more nude scenes in films." (D'oh.)

Check out the web site -- any and all contributions are welcomed, and you can adopt any part of the construction process from an entire house (for $150K) all the way down to a gallon of paint.

The Good Doctor on NPR.   This weekend, Christie's auction house in New York will be holding the first auction of liquor since Prohibition, featuring some extremely rare whiskies and brandies. Our friend Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh talks to NPR's "Talk of the Nation" about what makes a bottle of hooch worth up to thirty grand (some of which are kind of ovepriced).

Hey, the 1811 Napoleon Cognac is, he says, "a pretty good deal at just several thousand dollars." Who wants to go in on it?

Music video of the day.   Here's a blast to my high school / early college past, and one of my favorite groups of musicians -- Rockpile. (AKA Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Terry Williams and Billy Bremner.) Here's a live performance from circa 1978.

And Yep Roc is re-releasing Jesus of Cool next year, woo!

Barnum was right.   One born every minute. Thomas Tussler was right too, and has been for 500 years -- "A fool and his money are soon parted." Diana sent the latest method of parting silly people from their value-declining dollars: Celebrity Cellars.

They sell wine with labels featuring the Rolling Stones logo, the KISS logo, Barbra Streisand, Madonna and Celine Dion. And the wines themselves?

Well, I have no idea. It seems to be all about the labels, with barely a word about the origin of the wine, who the winemaker is, even where they get them. All it says is, "Wine varieties are carefully selected for you, and will differ for each club shipment (varieties include Cabernet, Chardonnay, Syrah and more)." They could carefully select a tanker car load of Two Buck Chuck, for all we know. But even if the wines are decent, you're paying for a lot more than just the wine.

Their wines go for $30-40 a bottle for paper lablels, $70-90 a bottle for "etched labels." It's also a wine club, which costs $60 to join (plus the cost of the wine) and you get two bottles every other month.

Tell you what. You want to join a wine of the month club? Try the real one. It's cheaper, no signup fee and you get a lot more bang for your buck. We liked them a lot, and only quit because we were accumulating too much wine (we tend to drink far more cocktails, and we're still living off our WotMC stash). Better yet, find an independenly-owned wine store in your area (we like The Colorado Wine Company and Silverlake Wine) and patronize them, especially if they offer regular tastings.

Diana says, "I'm holding out for some vintage Tom Waits." Perhaps they could relabel some of these.

"Celebrity Cellars" ... sheesh. *eyeroll*

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  Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tinctura Auranti Amari!   I've found a source for dried bitter orange peel! It's not the exact same species as Seville, from what I can tell -- this stuff is Aurantium amarae pericarpium rather than Citrus aurantium, which would be the Curaçao orange instead of Seville, but they're apparently quite similar. The source is Northern Brewer, a homebrew supply company; it seems that a number of beers, especially Belgian-stype white ales, employ bitter orange peel in one stage of the brewing process. As this stuff is being sold specifically for its flavor and not for any kind of medicinal qualities, I'm hoping to avoid the problem Mike had using the dark, aged peels from the Chinese herbalist.

My tincture of A. amarae pericarpium in 100-proof Stolichnaya is steeping away. I hope to have a batch of Amer Boudreau / Picon replica ready by the New Year.

Absinthe Américain?   Is it a craze yet? Maybe so, with the announcement that St. George Spirits of Alameda, California will be the first American producer of absinthe, now that it's once again legal in the United States.

Any jumping-on-the-bandwagon skepticism that I might otherwise have is instantly dispelled by the fact that St. George makes really good stuff all around, and I'm excited to try this. Lance Winters, who makes the absinthe at St. George, is also profiled in the New York Times, which also includes a tasting of St. George Absinthe Verte along with the two other currently available absinthes on the market, Kübler and Lucid, and finds it "the most layered" of the three. (There's apparently an absinthe from Brazil (!) that's been approved for sale in the U.S., and I do retain my skepticism about that one. I'm not saying it's bad -- I don't know, I haven't tried it or talked to anyone who has -- but given how far Brazil is removed from the absinthe-making and -consuming tradition, I'll wait and let someone else taste that one first.)

Whoo, our absinthe fountain's gonna get a workout!

Cocktail of the day.   Nothin' special, just nice. After flipping through Wayne Curtis' excellent And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails again, I took Wayne's suggestion for a nice, simple way to enjoy the new bottle of Rhum Clément VSOP that a friend was kind enough to give us. It's a little twist on my oldest old favorite.

Rum Old-Fashioned

2-1/2 ounces good, medium-bodied sippin' rum.
1 teaspoon rich simple syrup.
2-3 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6.

Orange peel.

Lightly muddle the orange peel with the simple syrup to extract the oils. Remove the peel. Add rum, bitters and ice and stir until chilled. Garnish with a decent cherry and an orange slice.

As we sipped these last night, thoroughly enjoying them, Wes said, "Y'know ... I still like 'em better with whiskey." Y'know ... I do too; it's hard to beat the drink you grew up with. I do still like this a lot, though, and recommend it heartily if you're trying a new rum and want to try it in a cocktail where its own qualities will still shine through.

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  Wednesday, December 5, 2007 :: Repeal Day

Happy Repeal Day!!   As of December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Consitution of the United States was ratified, to wit:

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States [prohibiting the sale, possession or consumption of alcohoic beverages] is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

Repeal Day is December Fifth
Logo by Jeff Morgenthaler

Wouldn't mind being at Vessel in Seattle tonight, as Jamie has huge plans to celebrate the day.

To show that after all these years there are no hard feelings (I guess), I'll take another cue from Jamie and offer as today's cocktail his slightly rejiggered version of a drink named after the infamous sponsor in the U.S. Senate of the Act that bears his name, which ushered in 14 bummer years of Prohibition. It has a special ingredient, so pay close attention:

The Volstead Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces rye whiskey.
1/2 ounce Swedish punsch.
3/4 ounce fresh orange juice.
1/2 ounce grenadine.
Dash of absinthe (or Herbsaint).

Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker, shake for 10-12 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Toast the repeal of Prohibition!

Unfortunately, bottled Swedish punsch (the best brands being Gronstedt and Carlshamn's) is no longer available in the U.S., but thanks to Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz, you can obtain its key ingredent and make it yourself. That ingredient is Batavia arrack, a smoky-sweet rumlike liqueur made from distilled sugar cane juice and fermented Indonesian red rice. It's very gradually starting to appear in the U.S. now, and if it doesn't turn up locally you can get it via mail order from Hi-Time Wine and Spirits in Costa Mesa, CA.

Swedish punsch (or punch) is an ingredient in several classic cocktails, but you can always drink it on its own; it's quite delightful. (Dr. Cocktail also points out its alchemical properties -- you can add a splash of Swedish punsch to a cheap, bottom-shelf rum and it'll make it taste like an expensive, 20-year aged rum, as if by magic.) Here's a recipe that's enough for 2 cocktails, or other uses:

Swedish Punsch
(or Swedish punch)

2 ounces Batavia arrack.
1/2 ounce rum.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, strained.
1/2 ounce rich simple syrup.
2 ounces water.

If serving as a cocktail, combine with ice and add a pinch each of ground cardamom and nutmeg to taste. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a cocktail glass; garnsh with a spiral lemon twist. If using as an ingredient in other drinks, increase the water to 3 ounces and combine all ingredients.

There ya go, two recipes for the price of one. A Repeal Day bounty!

Mmmmmm, makin' bacon on the beach ...   Okay, well, not on the beach, but certainly in my kitchen.

I have finally bought Michael Ruhlman's book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, and was immediately drawn to the pages on making one's own pancetta and bacon.

I was further inspired by this weblog post by Danielle that shows you how easy it really is, and you'll end up with something forty-seven million times better than anything Mr. Meyer provides to your supermarket. As she said, "it is easily the best bacon I have ever eaten."

In her post, Danielle was wondering what she'd do with all that bacon. (I never wonder about such things; I've got a million things I can do with bacon.) Ruhlman himself says, "You asked for a bacon idea? Finely chop your bacon, saute it, make maple ice cream and fold in the bacon, serve as a dessert on waffles or French toast. Idea from the excellent pastry chef Cory Barrett--just ate it last night so it's on my mind." Oh my, there's an idea.

I'm not sure if I'll have time during the frenzy of the holidays, but my first New Year's resolution will be ... "I shall make bacon today." (So much for the "I shall lose weight" kinda resolution.)

Mmmmmmm, makin' bacon in my kitchen ...

Oh, and if you're going to make bacon ...   even if it's not homemade, you'll need a flow chart.

Bacon Flowchart
Click to enlarge

(By Miss Fipi Lele, via Accordion Guy.)

Hooray for bacon!

The Cocktail Spirit, with Robert Hess.   This week, Robert stumbles across a Bum.

An Interview with Jeff Berry

Back at Tales of the Cocktail, Robert had the chance to sit down with the incomparable god of tiki, Jeff Berry. Jeff has embarked on a journey to educate the world about true tiki culture and more specifically, tiki, or as he likes to call them, faux tropical, drinks. They could be the most culinary of them all, and they're coming back!

Hmm, maybe I'll make Wes and me a Scorpion when I get home ...

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  Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cocktail of the day.   There's a lovely new book I'm in the middle of at the moment, called How's Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture and the Art of Drinking Well, by Eric Felten, author of the "How's Your Drink?" column in the Wall Street Journal. I came across this one in a passage on Dubonnet, and thought of our lonely bottle of Dubonnet in the back of the fridge, and how I'd better remember it and use it before it goes off. Eric thoughtfully provided a recipe that I hadn't tried before, and it was fantastic.

I would normally stir a cocktail like this, which contains only spirits, liqueur and wine, but the action of the shaking releases oils from the lemon and orange peels. If you're a stickler about stirring clear cocktails, muddle the peels briefly before adding the ingredients and ice.

The Dandy Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces rye whiskey (we used Sazerac 6).
1-1/2 ounces Dubonnet rouge.
1/2 ounce Cointreau.
1 dash Angostura bitters.
Long strip of lemon peel.
Long strip of orange peel.

Combine with cracked ice in a shaker, and shake vigorously for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.

This cocktail is delightfully wintry, with the spices of the Dubonnet and the bitters playing nicely together. I might even flame an orange peel over this one.

New Orleans' Best Cocktails: The Caipirinha.   Master bartender Chris McMillian demonstrates how to make one of my very favorite summer drinks. Well, now that it's winter. That's okay, though ... there's no law that says you can't have a Caipirinha in December. Besides, it's summer in Brazil, anyway!

I'm sure many of you already know this one by heart, but if you're new to it, watch Chris:

Make sure you get yourself a decent muddler, by the way ... hard wood, and not one of those cheapie ones you get that are painted red and then lacquered. Do you really want paint chips and lacquer flakes in your drinks? I thought not. The best ones I've ever seen are from Mister Mojito, made from solid cherry, maple or walnut. They're gorgeous, too!

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  Monday, December 3, 2007

MxMo XXII: Mixology Monday's Repeal Day Celebration!   Repeal Day is starting to become the national holiday of cocktailians, celebrating the anniversary of the day that Prohibition was repealed, on December 5, 1933. Mixology Monday: Prohibition and Repeal Day The big day is Wednesday, but as the monthly Mixology Monday event -- this month hosted by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who designed the extra-large logo for this month -- takes place on guess-when, we'll be starting the celebration a little early.

I wanted a source from right smack in the middle of Prohibition (well, a little more toward the end, in this case), and I wanted a more obscure source than something like The Savoy Cocktail Book. My cocktail book shelf obliged with one of my favorites from the collection.

It's called The Saloon in the Home, or A Garden of Rumblossoms, by Ridgely Hunt and George S. Chappell, illustrated by John Held Jr., published in 1930. It's in decent shape for a 77-year-old book, although it's stained and missing the dust jacket. The pages are in great shape, though, and the deficiencies in the condition of the cover are made up for by the fact that I'm lucky enough to have a copy that's autographed by both authors:

Signed for
A good friend of my very good friends
Frances and Jack Stone.
                          Ridgley Hunt


       George S. Chappell.

Dec. 1930.

Oh right ... what is it? It's a collection of both temperance and Prohibitionist anecdotes, tales, songs, poems, nursery rhymes (!) and sermons, all advocating the banning of alcoholic beverages ... along with 66 cocktail recipes.

The authors attempt to dispel the incongruity:

The Saloon in the Home

This will be neither an apology nor an argument. Having read practically everything dealing with prohibition we are convinced that never, until now, has the matter been fairly presented to the public. Our main object, then, is to be fair.

A glance through these pages will make clear to the most ardent Dry or aggravated Wet that we have taken no stand for or against prohibition. The worst that can be said of us is that we are tight-rope walkers, maintaining our balance by exhibits for both sides. We admit it. If we can only keep our balance or, possibly, increase it, we feel that w have done a good work.

If you believe, with Mr. F. Scott McBride, that the Anti-Saloon League "was born of God and has been led by Him," you will find herein much to support you. If, on the other hand, you consider a Ramos Gin-fizz the clearest evidence of divine dispensation, the late Señor Ramos of New Orleans will tell ou how to assemble of of these first aids to existence.

Riiiiight. Methinks Mr. Chappell's sentiments lie squarely in the latter expression, and the rantings of the former are there for the amusement of us Wet tipplers. I myself find the juxtaposition highly entertaining (although there are a few that put a lump in the throat, like the little boy carrying a banner that says, "All's right when Daddy's sober." Okay, I may be a drinker but I'm a sentimental softie.)

Amazingly, the review of the book in the December 29, 1930 issue of TIME magazine is online, and unsurprisingly they see right through the authors' claims of impartiality:

THE SALOON IN THE HOME. Ridgely Hunt & George S. Chappell.Coward-McCann ($2).
Compilers Hunt & Chappell put up a blatant front of impartiality on the Wet & Dry question. At the top of every page they reprint some moral tale or verse from some such temperance sourcebook as No Gin Today, Anecdotes from the Platform, Temperance Annual; then counter at the bottom with recipes for drinks. The scheme, more ingenious than its execution, is helped somewhat by pseudo-Victorian pseudo-engravings by Artist John Held Jr. Like all rummagings in the attic, this one recovers some rare antiques; the full version of that affecting ballad, "Father, Dear Father Come Home with Me Now"; the verisimilitudinous fable of the aleful mother who staggered home with her child in one arm, a bag of meal in the other, threw the baby in the meal chest, the bag of meal in the cradle, woke to find the child dead, signed the pledge. And this, from 10,000 Temperance Anecdotes, justly entitled "A Curious Performance": "I once heard of a man who went to a tavern one evening and at midnight was discovered in a pigsty, cuddling a teakettle and singing at the top of his voice: 'They said I was a beauty once, Why don't they say it now?' And when attempts were made to raise him up, he persisted in crying out, 'Father, the Sepoys are coming! Let us repel them!'"

In the recipes for drinks Editors Hunt & Chappell stick strictly to business, except for one slip: Kümmel Ye Faithful. Only venture into antiquity: the "authentic and secret recipe" for the Ramos Fizz.

It's amusing to see them pay more attention to the temperance preaching than to the drink recipes, and then to refer to the Ramos Fizz as a drink from "antiquity!" The "Kümmel Ye Faithful," by the way, consists of 1/3 gin, 1/3 kümmel, and 1/3 cream. Um. I dunno, but what the heck, I'd try it.

Some of the drink recipes therein are nothing to write home about, but there are many drinks in the book that are still quite familiar to those of us who are of the cocktailian set -- the aforementioned Ramos Gin Fizz, plus the Bronx and Brooklyn, the Martini (1:1, with a twist), the "Dacqueri" (sic), the Gin Daisy, the Horse's Neck, the good ol' Old Fashioned, the bathtub gin-hiding Orange Blossom, Rickey, Rob Roy, Scoff-Law and more. Oddly enough, no Manhattan (although we get the other two big New York borough cocktails, and its Scotch-based cousin), but one that caught my eye was a Manhattan variation that I tried for the first time a while back and rather liked. It was one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" cocktails (well, primarily because someone else already did), and while it might be quite simple it's also quite tasty, and I'll bet you've never had one.

The original recipe called for applejack, which at the time would likely have been Laird's. Problem is, up until about 1970 Laird's applejack was all apple brandy; now it's a mixture of 35% apple brandy and 65% "grain neutral spirits;" i.e. vodka. In the interest of authenticity, I'll alter the recipe slightly to call for Laird's superior product, their bonded (100 proof) straight apple brandy, which is a far better product anyway. If you're feeling extravagant, you can also use Calvados. We also opted for a slightly spicier vermouth, using Carpano Antica Formula; it would still be lovely with your everyday Cinzano Rosso. A dash of Fee's Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters wouldn't be bad if it joined its friend Angostura.

So, here's my official Prohibition-era contribution for this Mixology Monday:

The Hunting Horn Cocktail

The Hunting Horn

2 ounces apple brandy.
1 ounce sweet vermouth.
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters.

Stir with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a proper brandied cherry.

This is quite tasty.

Incidentally, the radio in the background of the shot is a Crosley Fiver, model 5M3, from 1934 -- not exactly a Prohibition-era radio, but it was as close as I could come in my collection. It sold for the rather princely sum of $19.95 back then, a considerable chunk of change for the Depression. In 2006 currency (close as the web site could figure), that's $293.52.

Oh, we couldn't let you go without some more Prohibitionist drivel from the book ...


"Ten years from now hundreds of thousands of men who voted against us and struggled to keep the saloon, will go down on their knees and thank God they were overwhelmed at the ballot-box and this temptation far removed from them."

-- William Jennings Bryan, Columbus, Ohio, November 19, 1918.


"Very early yesterday morning, I saw a young gentleman of my acquaintance whom I knew to be too fond of ardent spirits, sitting upon a doorstep, quite exhausted from a daring feat he had been performing. On his knee were two strong door knockers, three bell pulls, and part of an area railing, all of which he had drunkenly taken into custody."

-- Dr. Henry Monroe, 1865.

The Whitney

One part Scotch whiskey.
One part Sherry.
The juice of half a Lemon.
One tablespoon of Grenadine.

Right, in the interest of fairness we couldn't let those quotes go without including the little cocktail recipe that appears below them (we'd have tried this one, but we were out of sherry). Here's to Mr. Bryan and Dr. Monroe ... drink up, boys!

The temperance folks liked to get 'em when they're young, too:


I'm nothing but a tiny tot,
     Yet one thing's very clear,
A little pledge card I have dot
     I drink no wine or beer.

But though I'm such a little maid,
     You'd hardly think it's true,--
I've dot six lovely darling dolls,
     And they're teetot'lers too!

-- Lizzie Penney.

Tom Collins

In the largest glass obtainable, place the juice of one lemon, plenty of sugar and gin. Add several lumps of ice and fill the glass with club soda.

Yeah, if I heard a little girl recite that to me I'd need a big tall drink too. (The "pledge card" mentioned throughout the book, as well as "taking the pledge," meant pledging to eschew alcohol.)

Apparently the dangers of our love for drink were more than we realized, if you listened to the the horseshit of the Temperance crowd:


The cases of the deaths of inebriates by internal fires kindled spontaneously have become so numerous and so incontrovertible that I suppose no person of information will question it.

Dr. Peter Scholfield of Upper Canada tells us of "a young man about twenty-five years of age. He had been an habitual drunkard for many years. I saw him about nine o'clock i the evening on which it happened; he was then, as usually, not drunk but full of liquor; about eleven o'clock the same evening I was called to see him.

"I found him literally roasted from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. He was found in a blacksmith's shop. The owner, all of a sudden, discovered an extensive light in his shop as though the whole building were in one general blaze. He ran with the greatest precipitancy, and on throwing open the door discovered a man standing in the midst of a widely extended silver-colored flame, bearing, as he described it, exactly the appearance of the wick of a candle, in the midst of its own flame.

"He seized him (the drunkard) by the shoulder and jerked him to the door up which the flame was instantly extinguished.

"There was no fire in the shop, neither was there any possibility of fire having been communicated to him by external source. It was a case of spontaneous combustion.

"A general sloughing soon came on and his flesh was consumed or removed in the dressing, leaving only the bones and a few of the larger blood vessels. He complained of no pain for his flesh was all gone, and thus he survived for thirteen days."

-- American Temperance Magazine, 1851.

Only bones and a few blood vessels left, yet alive for 13 days! Ewww! (Hey, I wanna see that effect in a horror movie sometime.) The editors of the book, after this tale, appended this:

The Bronx

1/3 gin.
1/3 French and Italian Vermouth.
1/3 Orange Juice.

The Cooperstown

Just like the Bronx but put two or three sprigs of mint in the shaker. Lacking mint, a peppermint candy isn't as bad as it sounds.

(Actually, it probably is as bad as it sounds.)

Well. Let's continue our early celebrations, shall we? How 'bout another one?!

I swear to God ...   I didn't do it.

Honestly, I have an alibi. I wasn't anywhere near Australia!

November Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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