“Got some Henny chillin’ on ice….very special…." — K. Michelle, "VSOP"
Similar to Twinkies, your mother’s Thanksgiving cooking, and a decadent Filet Oscar on New Year’s, spirits are meant to be enjoyed. However, since each of those items has a distinct effect on you both physically & physiologically, you need to know something about what they’re all about.
Let’s go one by one. Are you going to make the distinction between a Hostess Twinkie or a Little Debbie Cloud Cake? What about knowing if Ma Dukes used sage/rosemary/basil instead of tarragon/thyme/parsley? Is F Dot Oscar smothered in a Bearnaise, Mornay, or Alfredo sauce? Do you really care about any of these distinctions or are we splitting hairs? “Ehhhhh, as long as it tastes good….” I guess we can always take that route, but why can’t we strive for more?
As a society, have we become so flippant with distinctions between products that we deem them unimportant? Do we aim to please so many that we are willing to accept how everyone uses a product, regardless if it aligns with the true/initial intent? The aim shouldn’t be to embarrass anyone, but — Lord Willin’ — we both LIVE and LEARN. Don’t be a snob about it, don’t wear your “coolest-kid-in-the-class” t-shirt all the time, and say it with a smile. You’re not aiming to be RIGHT, you’re aiming to be CORRECT. In a congenial way, of course.
"Keep my Cognac on the tabletop…it’s Very Superior Old Pale…”
Mike really didn’t have to dance all on that bar like that…probably left scuff marks and kicked a few cocktail napkins on the floor. But hey, when you’re the King, there isn’t much you can’t do. But can I order my cocktail now? Take all that static to the dancefloor!
Eternal respect for rocking our world…happy birthday MJ.
In the testing room above, Seagram put many products through a trial and error process, having successes and failures, but learning all the way.
Are you learning anything about the products you use? Do you grab bottles without care to how they’re made, how they should be used, and what they’re capable of? Have you found ways to improve what you do, or are you resting on your laurels?
Do you readily engage your bartender on how you drink? Do you share any conversation with the people next to you? Do you take whatever someone hands you, or depend solely on what someone else orders for you?
What are you selling your customers? If you were a customer, would you buy the bulk of products that you carry? Do you care about the neighborhood in which you’re located, or does the bulletproof glass separating you from your patrons tell the story?
We all need to take steps to improve and learn more, no matter what side of the bar we’re on, or if we’re on- or off-premise. Everyone is important, and we should bring up each other to reach goals. We are never too young, old, or indifferent to continue learning, and we must not stray away from that. To what do YOU aspire?
A tad late for National Aviation Day…but as the saying goes, “Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.” How do you enjoy that fabulously bluish-purple lovely? With a London Dry? What’s your American gin du jour? Explore them all in this wonderful cocktail…cheers!
A coy, illicit gesture…or a way to show you’re too cool for the room?
Flasks have been around as long as bottles — at the end of the day, it’s a container for spirits. I doubt there were too many buffets & bar carts in the Old West (ern Frontier), so I assume the idea was if you were off corralling horses, you had your canteen of water across your shoulder and your flask of brown in your pocket. Best of both worlds, just like a mullet.
This continued into the days of Prohibition. If you “had a guy” who could get you some good ‘shine, but couldn’t bring it to the restaurant du jour or performance at the theatre, you could throw it in your flask and keep the party going! To be expected with the laws of the day, but what about current times?
Many flasks you see or receive nowadays are whimsical gifts you find on some website, or have your monogrammed initials on a wedding gift the groom gave you. But when do you really use them? Pulling a swig from your flask out in the open isn’t really expected nowadays, and since a good cocktail is easily accessible with or without a tommy gun, it’s additionally unexpected why a person would need a flask in the year 2013. A colleague of mine keeps his favorite cognac in a flask — that makes sense if you go to an event that doesn’t have your spirit of choice available, and if you’re a Baby Boomer, gives you a sense of class and nostalgia.
I have received several flasks the past few years, but haven’t used any of them. Do I have any spirits that I’d like to have my friends sample, especially when I’m away from my house? Yes. Maybe I need to use them for that. Am I ever REALLY too far away from a drink where I NEED one? No. That balance determines, in my eyes, whether I would use a flask or not. However, maybe I need to just YOLO it and break one out in the future. What should I put in it? Put your suggestions in the comments section on how I should #getcongenial. Cheers!
You never know when the next drink you make will be the last. Though spirits seem to run a’plenty with ever-flowing bottles, sometimes that doesn’t matter — one pour may be the last. Can one pour mean more than any other that comes from a bottle, can one concoction hold more meaning than tons of others that you’ve made? Can a seemingly carefree & spontaneous recipe to “keep the party going” mean more than anything else you’ve made before or after? Sometimes it does, and you don’t find out until a long time after the fact.
Brother J, I’m glad you had the chance to sample my “Haterade”. It hurts more than words to know that we won’t share any more great times, but you were one of the most inspiring, morale-boosting, back-patting, funny, stylish, cultural, all-the-way-Noo-Yaawwwk brothers I have ever known. Though my times with you were usually relegated to once a year, those once-a-year moments have stretched out to more than a decade now. You definitely made your mark in your time here and leave a brotherhood of men to keep your presence in our spirits forever. Peace & love brother, rest in power.
…in a forthcoming interview with Rolling Stone the singer/actress is still proving that she’s no longer Hannah Montana.
In the July 4 issue, the former Disney star weighs in on marijuana use, saying that “there are far more dangerous things” in the world - like liquor.
'I think alcohol is way more dangerous than marijuana – people can be mad at me for saying that, but I don't care,' Cyrus told the magazine. 'I've seen a lot of people spiral down with alcohol, but I've never seen that happen with weed.'"
— "Miley Cyrus: Alcohol ‘more dangerous’ than weed", The Marquee Blog, CNN
The joy of accomplishing something cannot be explained. It affects your entire body, rendering you physically limp, mentally spent, but spiritually complete. Those around you can only bask in the glow of your celebration.
Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks, winners of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. Champions, once again, very deserving of today’s post. Cheers to the champs!
(Source: The Huffington Post)
Karl Lagerfeld — A name synonymous with design, using a stark palette of black and white, with monogrammed bottoms that perfectly mesh with their always-fashionable, geometric tops. This sounds like a perfect setup for a launch of a new spring line at Fashion Week, but no — the “Kaiser” is invading the world of drinking culture.
Great designers have had cocktail glass mashups before, as previously posted here. Though it is amusing that the only drink Lagerfeld explicitly mentioned was Diet Coke, I highly doubt that he went about this creative endeavor merely to produce a pop goblet. Designers are always looking for the “next”, the thing that they haven’t done before, the next ceiling to break through. Do clothes make the person, or does the person make the clothes? Is their designed piece an object unto itself, or does it form a certain synergy with the wearer?
Is there similar tension between the glass and its contents? Would a Tom Collins not be as enjoyable without its namesake glass, a Martini just a way to screw up gin if it came in an ordinary rocks glass? If you couldn’t see the color of the Chardonnay, could you distinguish it from another white with similar characteristics? Lagerfeld brings some of these issues into question with his milky white and opaque black pieces. This appears to be another threshold crossed by the fashion icon, by continuing to push the envelope — errrr, I mean, the coaster.
I had my first with my dessert of tiramisu — I was ecstatic to finally pop my cherry. I bought a celebratory shot with a good friend on the eve of his wedding day; it brought me great pleasure to “rape his palate” like that. I had a round of toasts with fellow bartenders after working a wonderful event for charity.
Not everyone stateside has enjoyed the bitter, minty amaro, but it is usually QUITE the experience. The common brand found is Fernet Branca, and you can usually find unsuspecting newbies frowning up their faces at its taste. The Italians like their bitter, but the American palate takes a bit getting used to it.
I was at a bar the other day where a person offered it to her friends, along with some Green Chartreuse, over ice. The first guy thought both were horrible, didn’t think the second (Chartreuse) could be any worse than the first (Fernet Branca), but he said he was sadly mistaken. Her other friend said everyone he knows drinks it with Coke. Her other friends were equally nonplussed, saying it was “medicinal….something they give you to drink when you have surgery.” It was a disappointing experience for the young woman, who apparently wanted to show her friends something new. But, as the other guy ordered a round of Irish Car Bombs for the entire bunch, maybe it wasn’t the right crowd.
This is not to say that Fernet is only for hipsters, middle-aged Sicilians, or partying Argentinians, but you can’t spring something like that on anyone at anytime. A Negroni is one of the most eye-catching and attractive cocktails around, but I have cautioned MANY people against ordering one just because they saw me with it, and even let some taste it first. They thanked me for being forewarned! Hey, what else would a congenial man do?
"I can’t handle no liquor…and these b***hes, they can’t handle me…." — Chief Keef, on "Hold No Liquor", from Kanye’s Yeezus
In a Manhattan. In a Presbyterian. In a Bee’s Knees. In an Old Fashioned. In a Mint Julep. In any incarnation of craft cocktail.
I drink mine with ginger ale.
I have since I found out that Old Forester was the only bourbon to be continuously bottled before, during, and after Prohibition. Since I found out that Basil Hayden drank like a cognac to me. Since I saw that 135th Kentucky Derby issued bottle of Woodford Reserve with the racers painted on it. Since I felt the burn from Booker’s. Since I traipsed back and forth across the Ohio River in and out of Kentucky, and eventually made my first trip down to Bourbon Country.
Since I realized that while I developed as a “Scotch man at heart”, my yearnings were leading me towards becoming a bourbon man in the flesh.
Last month, a better drinker remarked how my name was quite unforgettable. My middle name, Xenophon, was given to me by my father. My grandfather gave my dad’s younger brother the same middle name. In a letter that my father sent his oldest sister while he was serving in the Korean War, he mentioned that his younger brother came over to meet him in Germany around his birthday. In celebration, he drank enough bourbon and ginger ale for an entire army, to paraphrase my pater.
There are certain things that make a man: his family, his name, and his drink. On National Bourbon Day, and the weekend of Fathers’ Day, I am proud to have a strong connection between all three. Have a great weekend of paternal fellowship.
What stories do your glasses hold?
Where have you been? With whom? Was it planned? What did you learn? Was it rife with serendipity?
There’s more to just making a glass go from full to empty — what happens in the meantime? You can’t go full-tilt or you’ll miss the show, right? Some of us know when to reel it in; some of us can properly use the “off” switch. But hey, live like you mean it, yeah? Everything will balance in the end, but I’m sure you know this already…keep on finding times to #getcongenial Cheers!
“Drinking isn’t just a hobby; it’s a way of organizing your social life, your nights. Drinking is a destination. What should we do tonight? Anything can and may happen once you’ve gotten going, but all you really need to do is collect some people and pick a bar, and there you have it…Because alcohol makes the promise that a night rife with strangeness is always only a few more drinks away." — "Drinks in the City", by Ariel Levy, New York Magazine
I have never tasted the cocktail pictured above. From the looks of the picture, it has an aged spirit in it, which would probably include a sweetener or some kind, whether vermouth or a liqueur. It’s garnished with orange peel. In summary, what it contains gives it its distinct name.
The “Herzog and de Meuron”.
I have no idea why the name of this cocktail references two architects that utilize a high level of craft and attention to place. Thinking about it from an artsy-fartsy perspective, maybe that IS why. But I digress…I’ve heard of cocktails named “Young Jeezy”, the “Banhattan”, and everyone’s favorite “Redheaded Slut”, none of which were made by the Atlanta rapper with the famous adlibs, a person that couldn’t spell Manhattan, or a ginger with loose morals.
Before this post goes too far, I must exercise full disclosure. I have named cocktails after the neighborhood where the 1967 riots started in Detroit, a Prince adlib, and named one in quite the narcissistic manner. Cocktails seem to have much of this spontaneity, if not the primary reason for their name, at least the secondary. Why was a “Ramos Gin Fizz” not called an “Eggly Fricassee”? If the Mojito’s name was tied to a place like the Manhattan, would it get picked on so much?
Do cocktail names come from a dare, a lack of sleep, a steel trap of focus, or market research? I think the answer is E: all of the above. All names can’t, and probably shouldn’t, be as simple and direct as a Rum Swizzle or a Gin Sling — it’s more exciting to see what a person will put in a Crusty Nail or a Maxwell’s Hammer and see if it will match your expectations. So this weekend, raise your glasses to the classic Sidecar and Cuba Libre, as well as the modern Cosmopolitan and Mimosa. Hopefully you aren’t raising a Rabbit’s Foot or Baby’s Behind.
The Congenial Hour turned 2 today!
**After 258 posts, I’m due to have someone produce content other than me. It’s been a ball bringing my special blend of content to the internets, and I hope there are a couple people out there that have enjoyed my 6:00pm-ish daily-ish posts the last couple of years. Stay tuned for continued content; I would truly appreciate it. That’s it for this post — short and sweet, just like birthday cake or a cordial glass of a nice port. Applaud me, it’s my blogday!!**