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“Treme” is coming

This Sunday HBO debuts their new series “Treme,” from “The Wire” creator David Simon. Filmed entirely in New Orleans and set three months after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood, it tells the story of life and recovery in the city through the eyes of musicans and cooks. I may never have been so excited about a TV show in my life. (Okay, “Battlestar Galactica” and “Caprica” notwithstanding, and the only other good New Orleans portrayal “Frank’s Place” from the ’80s.)

Let’s watch the “Making of Treme” featurette and some clips — this first trailer actually made my scalp tingle:




If this is good as I think it’ll be, it’ll wipe the stain of “The Big Easy” from onscreen portrayals of New Orleans culture — that movie had me almost physically transforming into Ignatius Reilly at the Prytania, standing up and shrieking, “What degenerate produced this abortion?!” They’ve got local actors and local writers working on it. They got John Boutté’s “Treme Song” as the show’s theme song (which I knew was an absolute must from the moment I heard about the project; either my thought beams went out into the ether, or those folks really know what they’re doing), which means a lot of national exposure for the best singer in the city. John Goodman’s character is partially based on the late, great Ashley Morris in his passionate railing against the injustice of the greatest engineering disaster in American history. They really seem to be doing it right.

That they’re even going be mentioning, plus actually depicting and portraying, the Mardi Gras Indian culture and doing it with respect and a fair amount of accuracy is astonishing. There was a great interview on NPR this morning with David Simon actor Clarke Peters, who portrays an Indian big chief named Albert Lambreaux, in which they amusingly recount how some Indian traditions are so secret and sacred that their local paid advisors from some of the Indian gangs would keep some things close: “Oh sorry, we can’t tell you that.”

We get a feature-length premiere this Sunday. You simply must tune in.

 

Thursday Drink Night: Trader Tiki’s Syrups

Another Thursday Drink Night is upon us, meaning that … it’s Thursday again. (These things happen.) Meet the CSOWG and various and sundry cocktail geeks at The Mixoloseum Bar (i.e., the cocktail-geekiest online chat venue) at 4pm PT / 7pm ET / 0h GMT for drink-making, insult-hurling and general verbal mayhem.

Tonight will be a fairly special one, however, as one of our own — Blair Reynolds, a.k.a. Trader Tiki — has burst upon the cocktail ingredients scene with his own line of flavoring syrups for tiki cocktails and beyond.

Trader Tiki's Syrups

Let’s taste.

I was very happy when the Tiki Fairy brought these earlier this week, because (among other reasons) I’d been wanting to make orgeat for ages but have been too frakking lazy. Blair’s orgeat is complex, with a rich almond flavor and a bit of tannin and bitterness, where I’m tasting the almond skins as well. Apricot kernels are included in the formula as well, providing that lovely bitter almond flavor in the background without any of the annoying hydrogen cyanide that bitter almonds bring to the table. This is much more complex than the cloudy white brands you see from Monin and the like, and the sweetness is kept in check. Blair favors the original French recipe, calling for rose and orange flower water in the mix. I can’t wait to try this in a Mai Tai, plus classic non-tropical cocktails like the Japanese, and one I found that fascinates me, called the Alligator (time to make some eau de melisse, looks like).

The cinnamon syrup is thick and sweet, flavored with two kinds of cinnamon — the spicy, sweet and strong cassia, and the slightly more mellow Ceylon cinnamon, with a complex, fruity, citrusy flavor (I love sprinkling Ceylon cinnamon on fruit). Perfect for some of the more famous tiki drinks (like a Jet Pilot, mmm) and whatever you can concoct.

The vanilla syrup is just as thick and sweet, with a lovely vanilla bean flavor and would be just as lovely on pancakes as it would in your drinks.

Perhaps the most fascinating flavor he’s released is Don’x Mix, named after Don the Beachcomber (aka Ernest Beaumont Gantt), who in Los Angeles in the 1930s invented the exotic tropical cocktail as we know it. “Don’s Mix” was one of his secret ingredients, mixed and bottled away from the bar and provided to the bartenders so that if one or more of them left to work for a competitor they wouldn’t be able to take his drink recipes with them. A recipe isn’t much use if one of the ingredients is listed as “Mix #6.”

In this case, though, we now know that Don’s Mix was 2 parts grapefruit juice and 1 part cinnamon syrup, used to flavor Donga Punch, Zombies and other tropical drinks. If you don’t want to make your own, this is the perfect solution. Lighter than the regular cinnamon syrup, less sweet and with a really nice tang of grapefruit, this is the one I want to get creative with. I’ve got a couple of ideas for TDN tonight and I’m going to focus on this one. Here’s hoping my drink tastes as good in the glass as it does in my head. (Then again, it might suck, but then we go back to the drawing board.)

So! Needless to say, order some syrup and get your tiki on!

Jeez, I got busy … Thursday Drink Night starts in five minutes!

 

Cocktail index finished – RSS onslaught over!

Okay, finally! The Looka! Cocktail Index is now complete. Well, caught up, that is. Every cocktail post from 10 years of manually coded weblog has been tediously and painstakingly imported into WordPress (with the exception of two or three really shitty recipes for boring vodka cocktails from the old old days, and if you want those you’re going to have to obsessively dig for them).

The running total so far: 315 cocktail recipes in the index, plus 49 51 more that are multiples within a single post. We haven’t yet figured how to get the AZIndex plugin to create two separate index entries that point to one post; Marleigh’s waiting to hear from the developer. When we do figure it out, that’ll bring the cocktail index up to 364 listed recipes. New cocktail recipe posts will be automatically added to the index.

Despite the tedium I really did enjoy going through all those old posts again, and there are some drinks I forgot about that we’ll now revisit — that’ll be fun. Enjoy randomly clicking through them, as there are tons of things you won’t find in cocktail guides, like original recipes by our bartender friends near and far. (Oh, and there’s one joke in there, but it’s pretty obvious.)

I truly apologize for the barrage in your RSS feeds. I thought that backdated posts wouldn’t show up in the feed as new, but of course, WordPress had to make me look like a jackass and feed them anyway. I’ve gotten some good feedback, that some of you enjoyed seeing them go by, at least. I hope it wasn’t too bad for the rest of you. Posting will now resume at its previous intermittent rate (i.e., when I feel like it and when Wesly finally gets around to another one).

Wow … I think this weblog transition is actually kinda almost done.

 

New cocktail index in progress

By the way, y’all … Happy New Year! I know, January’s almost over by now, but rather than doing a special brief Happy-New-Year-post on the 1st I thought I’d just dive right in to regular posting and spit out some content. (Yes, I’m aware I didn’t get around to it until the 18th. Gimme a break.)

Now that we’ve had our break, Wesly and I hope to charge into 2010 (or “oh-ten,” as we’ve heard some people say, to our mocking delight). With Marleigh’s help I’ve gotten started on another new feature. Note that there’s a new link up in the header that says Cocktails — it’s a work in progress at the moment, and when complete will be a compendium of every cocktail recipe I’ve ever posted on Looka!, going back to 1999.

I’ll be importing the old cocktail recipe posts into WordPress and backdating them so that the index can add them, and for the most part I’ll be leaving them more or less intact. This means that I’ll be keeping in the embarrassing shit like “I’m not a big fan of gin” and “I don’t like vermouth” in posts from 10+ years ago, plus embarrassing drinks like the Velvet Hammer. I will be updating recipes for clarity and accuracy, however, plus fixing dead URLs as I can and throwing in an annotation here and there. All original posts (plus the rest of the old content) will still be there in the stone-knives-and-bearskins section of the archive.

So far I’m about halfway into 2002, and I’ve got along way to go. It’ll likely take a couple of weeks, but by the time I’m done importing we’ll have a very handy and convenient index of cocktail recipes here on the ol’ blawg, and future cocktail recipe posts will be automatically added to the index.

Whoever of y’all that have been nagging me to do this for years (Barry? Chris?) … good things come to those who wait!

L.A. folks, come drink some punch!

Doing anything Thursday night? Then you should come to Malo Cantina in Silver Lake this Thursday, December 10 at 8:00pm for a punch competition, “Twas the Punch Before Christmas.” Your $12 admission gets you six different punches made by competing mixologists, hot buttered rum plus tons of all-you-can-snack great Mexican food.

Oh, and I’m one of the competing mixologists. Hoo!

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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