For a while in the Millennium Age, an airplane was the only place you could continue living the analog life. That was, and continues to be, the only place remaining in the cocktail Stone Age of Mixology. The only options are basic mixed drinks, poured a minimum of ways, with a minimum of mixers. The only light that shines is the Spirit magazine that offers a bit of mixology, with a cocktail gem by bartenders you can touch down with when you land, or that may have gotten you in the air with a little juice! So just sit back, buckle your seatbelts, take a nap, and dream about the day when you can order one of these cocktails in-flight. Cheers to a great weekend!
The culinary world has absolutely taken over television. There are all types of competition shows — MasterChef, Top Chef, The Taste, among others. There are travel shows where people like Guy Fieri dine, drive-in, and dive, Adam Richman takes on the notable adversary food, and Anthony Bourdain takes you around the world to find things you may not have wanted in the first place. I’m leaving out all types of spinoff shows, cupcake rom-com’s, and regular shows where chefs are the most wanted.
What about bartenders — did we get left out? Is Isaac from The Love Boat the most famous bartender that will ever grace the small screen?
Several shows are trying to help bridge the gap between the culinary world and the drinking place. You may catch a blurb of happenings in the mixological world on your favorite late-Saturday night programming, LX TV (Lifestyle Television). The host on 1st Look often happens upon wondrous new drinking places that may make your palate tickle, but the main show that gets all the bartenders cheering is On The Rocks — a real, bare-knuckles, grab-your-muddler-and-tussle cocktail competition show. It actually stars REAL bartenders that you may have gotten served by in REAL life…fancy that! It’s not a show full of model props that show up, look good, then get kicked off, like many other reality shows and competitions. They’ve got a few seasons under already, so go on and catch up!
Another show that may raise your eyebrow a bit is Mixology. If there will ever be a show that brings bellies up to the bar, that’s gotta be it, right? Maybe. It’s a show in the format of the Jack Bauer-thrilling “24”, but Mixology is more like “6”, or “8” if you got lucky that night. It’s all about what happens in one night. That’s it, no “try, try again”, or “there are other fish in the sea”. You’ve got one night to see how things unfold. Yet to see how prominent the barkeeps are in this show, but it’ll be great to see how they hold court.
So saddle up, grab your popcorn, and your best homebar cocktail and turn on the TV! Or head down to your fave watering hole that has a tube and tune in there — and don’t forget to pat your bartender on the back for all the inspiration!
“Sip Prohibition liquor…Prohibition whiskey…” — Nas, “Locomotive”
Though Nas may have been one of the few to ever raise his hand about drinking liquors federally prohibited by law, we do have examples of those who poured in the years surrounding Prohibition. Esteemed gentlemen like Dick Francis, Tom Bullock, and Robert Bowie were celebrated for their cocktailing exploits, albeit a generation removed. These gentlemen were members of the Black Mixology Club, a professional organization for bartenders in Washington, DC.
Their cocktail recipes were replicated, their literary exploits were celebrated (Bullock was the first African American to publish a cocktail book before Prohibition), and their overall influence upon DC, Black bartenders, and mixology in general was manifested in modern form. In true regionalist fashion, the Chuck Brown Tribute Band started off the go-go music that would help lubricate the night. Though many events are held with great drinks to benefit wonderful organizations, there are few that come to mind that are truly special. It is rare that you can participate in an activity that the true forefathers of your craft did more than a century ago, and use their memory as inspiration while packing ice into a glass, pouring the Curacao Punch into it, and arranging the garnish around the colorful, red elixir. Truly inspiring and one helluva congenial night!
“The attention of the Middlesex magistrates has been called to the demoralizing consequences likely to ensue in the middling and lower classes from the alarming increase of gin-shops in every direction, in and around the metropolis, by the conversion of what used to be quiet respectable public houses, where the laboring population could find the accommodation of a tap room or parlor in which to take the meals or refreshment they might require, into flaming dram shops, having no accommodation for persons to sit down, and where the only allurement held out was the promise of ‘Cheap Gin’.” — Victorian Pubs, by Mark Girouard
“Ten-year-old Jazimen Warr had nestled on her sister’s shoulder, the two children sleeping in the back of the family’s Cherokee on the drive to a relative’s home in Bowie. She was killed and the rest of her family sustained injuries in the crash.
That was Aug. 21, 2008.
Now, that crash on Interstate 270 could upend Maryland law and allow victims of drunken-driving crashes and their families to sue bars and restaurants if their inebriated patrons cause deaths and injuries.
Moves in the past two years by lawmakers from Montgomery County to create in Maryland what’s known as a “dram shop liability” law — the term essentially relates to a bar or tavern selling alcohol, with “dram” being a small unit of measure — didn’t make it out of the House Judiciary Committee.” — Baltimore Sun, “Maryland court considers liability of bars in drunken-driving crashes”
Sometimes you need more than 700 words to tell a story; sometimes you need less than 15. What is the purpose of the good people here at ThCgnlHr? Let a haiku tell the story…
To drink or not to —
ehhh; rather how, where, and why…
So you want to throw a Derby party, but your idea to have everyone bring a horse doesn’t mesh with the entrance policies of the bar…what do you do? Never fear, ThCgnlHr is here! Here are three keys of advice for a dynamite, guaranteed-to-be-remembered, shindig-of-all-ages Kentucky Derby party.
Step One: Spruce up your mint julep. While most people making them can’t craft a quality mint julep, for those of you out there that know your way around a muddler and some crushed ice, how about expressing them in different ways? Grab some different julep cups, authentically pewter, and wow your guests. Grab some fabulous bourbons and have a bit of a tasting, showing how their different aspects hold up in a julep. Buy a handful of muddlers and have your guests make their own julep! There are many ways to enhance the traditional cocktail experience of the race.
Step Two: Use the race to spruce things up. How about each person gets a different number when they walk in, and that’s the horse they cheer for, with some sort of prize going to the winner? Even the names of the horses can provide a theme. Last year’s winner, I’ll Have Another, was a quintessential drinker’s horse — what about this year? While Orb is said to be the favorite, its name doesn’t exactly lend easily to a cocktail. But Normandy Invasion could be a Calvados cocktail, Golden Soul could contain some honey liqueur at its core, and who couldn’t see asking their host for another Java’s War? Wondrous opportunities.
Step Three: I had to dig deep for this one, but it’s very important — Watch. The. Race. While you can provide the best environment, the best juleps, the best music, and the best of partygoers, none of that matters if you don’t watch the race. Seems easy enough, but the Derby is verrrrry short — not like hosting a Super Bowl party. It’s hard to stay focused when the juleps start circulating, but take it from the good people at ThCgnlHr — you don’t want your friends to keep reminding you that you forgot about the Derby at your own Derby party. I am the picture of regret until I right my own wrongs! Happy Derby Day!
Oh, not that type of “black liquor”?
“Legislation that would have phased out millions in ratepayer-financed subsidies for mostly out-of-state paper mills died in a House committee Friday, just a day after the Senate passed a companion measure.
The House version of the so-called “black liquor” bill, HB1102, fell one vote short of the 12-vote majority needed to get out of the Economic Matters Committee. The vote in the panel was 11 to 8 for it.
“I think labor played a pretty big role in the vote,” the Baltimore County Democrat said, noting that even some of the bill’s cosponsors did not support it. Olszewski said he was a “labor guy” as well but saw this as a matter of ending subsidies paid for by Maryland ratepayers to out-of-state paper mills.
The bill would have ended in five years lucrative renewable-energy “credits” that paper mills receive for burning a byproduct known as black liquor and other wood waste. Maryland’s renewable energy law requires power companies to get some of their energy from renewable sources, and paper mills can sell their credits to meet those obligations.” — “House panel kills ‘black liquor’ bill”, Baltimore Sun
Cause célèbre: Best of friends. Good tidings. Youthful energy. All the makings of a red cup night.
But all that can turn bad quickly. Quicker than the growth spurt they had over last summer.
To ask what it is that makes underage youth drink is to ask why the sky is blue, why lions eat antelope, and if I’ve ever tasted pumpkin pie before — it just is, they just do, don’t ask me no crazy question like that! But I digress…while I was doing research into the English pub in London, one colleague told me that youths there “aspire to the pub…” It’s the same with youth on this side of the pond — there’s something about looking at that big number “21” that makes you lunge closer and closer to the finish line, until you notice that you’ve started the race before your time. That’s when trouble sets in.
There is something about underage drinking that has gotten more troubling in years past, and I hope I am not taking a nostalgic stance to this issue. Between me, you, and my laptop, I participated in a bit of underage drinking…(egads!! Not the good people at ThCgnlHr!!!)…a few sips with a couple friends, from a shared cup of Bacardi Limon & Sprite. It was the emollient to, wait for it….watching television — quite the daredevil I was in my younger days. Were we participating in illegal activity? Absolutely. What was the obvious consequence of our crime? Probably changing the channel. Not to cast shade on the youngbloods of today, but there seems to exist the wont to get things “turnt up” a notch, to the point where things become increasingly unsafe, to the point where things may not return to the way they were. It becomes less about youths doing something mischievous and strays into a space where no one should be doing these things regardless of their age.
This post isn’t a condemnation of all things young and spontaneous. I didn’t take my first drink after your granddaddy’s war, nor did I walk 18 miles to school every day, both ways, through the snow in July. While I have never been in the position of recent youths in Steubenville, OH or Loudoun County, VA, we’re all one bad choice away from the same predicament. This an overture to young people everywhere that as my London colleague said, we must aspire to something. The greatest thing about drinking is that, Lord willin’, we will get to enjoy the next one. Let’s ALL aspire to that next drink, while enjoying the current one in a congenial manner.
Many architects have been up in arms recently over the news that MoMA is going to demolish the former building that housed the American Folk Art Museum. However, some in the arts world say don’t cry over a spilled cocktail — unless it’s a finely stirred Negroni, I say. Anyways, what does this signal? Hypocrisy on MoMA’s part? A lack of understanding for suiting the true function of a museum? Self-absorption by architects? Idol worship? Developer/owner as king? Maybe all of the above, but I think it signals the opportunity for discourse regarding the subject. No better place to join diverse crowds than at the always-worthy hub of conversation — the drinking place. Maybe the one where Mr. Taniguchi drowned his misplaced sorrows that started all this hubbub:
“When Taniguchi was chosen to design the new, vastly expanded Museum of Modern Art seven years ago, a lot of people in the art world scratched their heads. Out of 10 architects invited to compete for this prize commission (all were under 60—MoMA had ruled out the generation of Frank Gehry), Taniguchi was virtually unknown in America, and his scheme for MoMA’s midtown Manhattan site seemed so smooth and corporate—so unfashionably tame—it looked like a long shot next to the provocative concepts of such hotshots as Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron. Even Taniguchi didn’t think he’d win. Convinced he’d fatally fumbled his key presentation to MoMA’s trustees, he headed straight to a neighborhood bar to mourn.” — “New York’s great modern museum is reborn, thanks to $425 million and an unlikely architect named Taniguchi” by Cathleen McGuigan, Newsweek
“Taverns were identified not only by reputation for strong drink, but also by the political backing of its owner…Taverns played a little-known but vital role as an important center of community life and activity…Because the tavern was so well integrated into ordinary, everyday urban and rural experience, few Americans commented on it…Taverns varied widely from one location to another…(In urban areas) tavern moved from a small-scale domestic operation to a more specialized business which emphasized goods and services and required a substantial investment by the proprietor…City tavern became simultaneously a meeting house, market place, restaurant, political arena, social setting, hotel, and communication hub…” — Early American Taverns: For the Entertainment of Friends and Strangers, by Kym S. Rice
“The proposed zoning code also clarifies the definition for alcohol outlets that have BD-7 licenses, commonly known as taverns. Currently, holders of BD-7 liquor licenses are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on and off-site from 6am to 2am seven days a week, compared to holders of A-2 licenses that are limited to off-site consumption sales and have more restrictive days and hours of operations. The new zoning code requires that all taverns have more than 50% of their sales and floor area for on-site consumption, to ensure that they are not just selling for off-site consumption.” — “The Baltimore City Planning Department’s three-pronged approach to reducing the density of alcohol outlets.” http://www.bsasinc.org/2013/01/bsas-to-testify-at-transform-baltimore-hearing/
“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” — Rocko feat. Rick Ross, “U.O.E.N.O.”
With those lyrics, Rick Ross set off a flurry of backlash against his seemingly nonchalant approach towards sexual assault via date rape drugs. Does Ross deserve the benefit of the doubt that you would normally offer an artiste of his girth — errr, I mean, stature — or was the witch hunt rightfully due?
There are human rights violations that The Congenial Hour is not the authority on, so let’s tread a bit to the other side of the “date rape” issue — gender relations within drinking culture. The question that has been asked more times than any other in drinking culture is, “Can I buy you a drink?” Seems simple enough, but in the bottle service environment that Mr. Rozay is known for, the question is usually, “Can I pour/offer you a drink?” If you are willing to forgo whatever preferences you have towards a drink, and purely accept whatever someone hands you…well, that doesn’t say too much for your sensibilities. Further, it is always better when the bartender prepares your cocktail, then hands it directly to you. Al-ways. That is not to be debated — in terms of using the proper care, craft, and technique. Why would you have just anyone pour you a drink when there’s a person who has come to the establishment specifically for that reason?
And when you’re not by your glass, how about using that handy cocktail napkin to cover it? That has been used for eons to ensure a half-finished cocktail isn’t discarded, or to let a newly-entered patron know that someone is sitting at the seat in question. But what it also could be used for is an informal way to ensure no one can casually drop something in your drink. A steel trap it is not, but better something than just air.
Finally, it pains me to write a blog about this issue, but as the Ross lyrics debate showed, it resonates with a lot of people. But as the rapper N.O.R.E. has stated, he has seen the date rape drug game play on BOTH sides of the field — that’s something you don’t hear every day. I guess both dudes & dolls should be on their p’s and q’s — pour your own pints and quarts. The drink you accept may be a glass of smoking Tang!
“Seems almost un-American to me for a bachelor not to go around having a drink with a lady now and then….” — Joe Willie Namath
What gets you in the mood for sharing some congenial time with a young lady? Maybe the low-key jazz stylings of “The Girl From Ipanema”? How about finishing a deadline?? The sound of silence, the essence of calm…Nothing better to open your mind, body, and soul than to get something hot off your plate, allowing you to focus on nothing but the person on the other side of that glass. Broadway Joe knew it best, and we should heed his advice. Cheers to all the Tax Day Warriors out there — enjoy this evening!
Two of Queens’ finest getting congenial. Good to see a classic group taking classic takes to their personal drinking styles & cocktails…although I can see them ordering them with a brown bag around the glass, just to keep it all the way gully. Why not? They’ve come many years since the days of sitting on project benches…pour by your own measure, CNN!
“Me and shorty, from the Mecca, having a session/Play the Shark Bar, sippin’ on French Connection/On the rocks…” — Capone, “Stick You”, The War Report
“Jose Cuervo, no Grand Marnier, drink hard liquor, hard liquor all day/I’m a certified-holic, kid, you know I don’t play, cause…” — Noreaga, “I’m a G”
Not yet the “dog days of summer”, and still a bit chilly to fully say “spring is here”, but it’s still Opening Day. In Baltimore, that might mean getting up to a bar for 6am soak-up-the-day pancakes, signifying that it’s a great day for day-drinking. So whether you’re knocking down Natty Boh’s at a furious clip, or letting some traditional Punch ease you through the day, enjoy the official first day of Spring. One of the greatest to ever play said, “Let’s play two!” — why not have another after you finish that one? Don’t wait until the seventh-inning stretch to #getcongenial….
What happens when the Punch bowl is empty?
Do you cry tears into the vessel until it’s once again overflowing? Do you wait until friends come over and bring you more Punch? Do you stomp down to the Fish House and demand that the City of Brotherly Love replenish your bowl?
Sometimes you have to grab your trusty swivel peeler, the shiniest lemon within arm’s reach, and set out to make another batch of Punch. It’s that easy….right?
Life is not as easy as making Punch. While there are plentiful stores from which you can purchase spirits, recipes to use as a guide, and mixological authorities to consult for nuance, there is no such option for going through Life. You can study all the life guides in the library, consult all the life coaches on LinkedIn, follow curricula from universities across the globe, but nothing quite prepares you for the rigors of Life.
At the end of the day, no one said this would be easy. Sometimes you’ve got to put your head down and continue pushing forward. When life throws you lemons, compound the second batch of Philadelphia Fish House Punch! Now THAT’S how to live congenially.