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!
Before Republicans went looking for answers Tuesday night, some of them went looking for the remote.
When it became clear about midnight that President Barack Obama was safely on the way to re-election, a handful of cranky and inebriated Republican donors wandered about Romney’s election night headquarters, angrily demanding that the giant television screens inside the ballroom be switched from CNN to Fox News, where Republican strategist Karl Rove was making frantic, face-saving pronouncements about how Ohio was not yet lost.
With some of them double-fisting beers and others sipping bourbon, members of Romney’s team blamed several factors that were, in some ways, beyond their control."
— “Analysis: Why Romney Lost”, CNN.com
“Forbidden fruit is any object of desire whose appeal is a direct result of knowledge that cannot or should not be obtained or something that someone may want but is forbidden to have.
In Western Europe, the fruit was often depicted as an apple…The larynx in the human throat, noticeably more prominent in males, was consequently called an Adam’s apple, from a notion that it was caused by the forbidden fruit sticking from Adam’s throat as he swallowed.” — From Wikipedia entry for Forbidden Fruit
Adam’s Apple (The Forbidden Fruit)
1 1/2oz Jim Beam Devil’s Cut
1oz Thatcher’s Apple Spice Ginger Liqueur
1/2oz triple sec or premium orange curacao
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Sliver of Granny Smith apple for garnish
With hope in your heart for redemption, add all ingredients to mixing glass over ice. Stir briskly, aiming for atonement. Place julep strainer firmly within mixing glass and pour contents into a cocktail glass, chilled with the breath of the saints. Brandish your saber and cut a heavenly sliver of the Granny Smith apple and float on top of the cocktail. Raise to your nose and inhale for knowledge, seeking to obtain the mash content of the Devil’s Cut, the spice combination in the liqueur, and the age of dear Grandmother Smith. Take a sip and repent. Then, with renewed heart, clear mind, and sound body, repeat.
This Saturday marks the 138th observance of the “Run for the Roses” — the Kentucky Derby. It’s arguably one of the biggest events in Louisville every year, not to mention the entire South, and is steeped in tradition. The Derby is one of the only events that has its own signature cocktail, the mint julep, not to mention the gorgeous pewter vessel it is imbibed in.
Drinking culture also is steeped in tradition, and back when the world was still flat, spirits used to have nuance of taste, differences by location. Their characteristics were not as homogenized as they might be said to be today; their makers still held on to the idiosyncrasies of place.
Take a gander of this little quiz and delight in the nuance of design. It shows that the designers of julep cups strayed from the path of “same” and aimed to make their drinking vessels a bit different as you rode through the Chitlin’ Circuit. Maybe you can try to find as many as you can and make a different mint julep in each? Hope springs both eternal and congenial.
The premise of this post is just one small sidenote of a hilarious article. In the article, the writer mentions a “50-yr old ceramic jug of Kentucky bourbon that had been passed down to him by his father.” When the jug met its demise, the father’s reaction was absolutely hilarious, not to mention the adage he dropped unto his son, who had been contemplating his inevitable doom.
But to digress, the relationship of kids driving you to the bottle, or the struggle of keeping them from the bottle, or the joy of introducing them to the bottle, is what their exchange brings up in my eyes. In some families, children are drinking bits of beer and brandy from pre-teen ages, while in others, it’s like 1919-1933 all over again.
What’s the best approach? If there was an answer to that question, there’d also be an answer to the question, “What’s the best way to raise kids?” Having none myself, my best advice is to ensure they know the good things about the bottle. Having something with familial connections is important, regardless if it’s “just” liquor. But showing them how to cherish certain things, while keeping them at arm’s length or moderation, is a lesson you can relate to almost any other situation your little ones get into.
Ash Wednesday. Not the day that you profess to only drink products that come from charred white oak barrels, but the day you start upon your quest of reflection. A quest that tries to remove worldly desires in an effort to focus on the spiritual.
For many people, “worldly desires” can be put into two scattergories: sweets and spirits. The last crate of Twinkies is deep-fried before the clock strikes midnight and the cask of Very Superior Old Pale cognac is sealed shut, lest you turn back into a brandy-infused pumpkin. Where does this piety of distillation come from? Is your manner of drinking really something you should do away with for 40 days and 40 nights? Are you hanging onto the wagon by a thread?
The issue at hand is that of excess. If you live the life of a Jersey Shore episode, a never-ending cycle of pre-gaming, binge drinking, fighting, promiscuity, throwing up, and regret, maybe a little time away from the bottle will do you good. But what if your time is spent respecting the bottle — going to Scotch sipping meetups, joining old friends in a bout of remembrance and nostalgia, or preparing little congenial treats for close family? Is that cause for a month-and-a-half of neglect? If you spend time exchanging knowledge of new places and spaces, in good conversation with your fellow man, shouldn’t you get a “pass”?
Then again, there are some things that we aren’t supposed to question. Lord Willin’, 40 will turn to 39, which will turn to 38, which will turn to 37, and so on, until you can fully embrace your full spirit again. In the meantime, become a monk. Some monasteries are involved in activities that’ll help you bide the time.
Life has a way of coming around full circle.
I try to keep a separation between church and state when it comes to bringing my “personal life” into my blog; at the very least, make somewhat hazy connections that can be illuminated with a little thought. It would be much too much to showcase my rockstar life to the Tumblrsphere. But sometimes, things happen to make me say, “Ehhhh, what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks.”
So yesterday, I had a Tweetscussion about scotch with a couple friends. Broached a few brands, went around the realm of brown a bit — touched on ryes, bourbons, and even cognac. I’d also looked at old texts I’d written upon some Friday visits to Nicholson’s, a Scottish pub in Cincinnati, where I tried to keep track of the scotches I’d tasted, and ones I’d tried to taste. In addition, I’d received a text from a good friend asking me about Macallan — any friend is a good friend that texts you about scotch. I offered a bit of my background with the brand, as I went to a tasting seminar last year for it. I also told him, as he is a cognac drinker, that he might appreciate the mouthfeel that Glenmorangie has with its three scotches that are finished in wine barrels, a bit smoother and silkier than your normal scotch.
And today, as I’m thinking about something to blog about, I come across this article about the ten things every man should know about scotch. Hmmmm, there might be a chance I know one or two. Enjoy and #getcongenial.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. While this may hold true for sweethearts and grandparents, when I want my favorite spirit, I want it not now, but *Neil Everett voice* RIGHT now! But what if you can’t get it, for reasons other than a light pocket or hateful inventory? Absence may warm the cockles of your heart, but what about distance?
The food world has been influenced by organic/sustainable/local movement in ways that make obvious sense. Don’t make Mother Earth cry if you don’t have to — why pay a premium for blackberries picked from glorious regions in Holland when there are farmers all around your city that grow them? This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the availability of local food, with community gardens, farmers’ markets, and good ol’ backyard gardens.
But in the spirits world, things are a bit different. While Joe Q. Public can plant a bag of seeds, throw some water on some dirt, chase squirrels away, and come away with squash and bell peppers larger than your head, it takes a bit more know-how to distill spirits. There is a “local” element to them: there’s only one Cognac, only one Bourbon County, and people in Champagne didn’t make that type of sparkling wine because they liked cabernet sauvignon. By the same token, depending on your location, all of these products need to be imported. Should that be frowned upon? Koval makes products that make Chicagoans proud, Sloop Betty makes a vodka that Marylanders can brag to their Russian and Polish friends about, and ROOT has made more Pennsylvanians happy than the Steelers sixth championship — is it still wrong to want for a bit more from a bit further away? Or should we only imbibe what is properly distilled within our city limits? What do you think?
We are a pious people but a proud one too, aware of a noble lineage and a great inheritance. Let us candidly admit that there are shameful blemishes on the American past, of which by far the worst is rum. Nevertheless we have improved man’s lot and enriched his civilization with rye, bourbon, and the martini cocktail. In all history has any other nation done so much? Not by two-thirds.
…look nearer home, at the Indians….they were an engaging people whose trust we repaid with atrocious cruelties….They evoke both pity and dismay: north of Mexico they never learned to make a fermented beverage, still less a distilled one. Concede that they had ingenuity and by means of it achieved a marvel: they took a couple of wild grasses and bred them up to corn. But what did they do with corn?…They threw the spoiled stuff out for the birds, angrily reproaching their supernaturals, and never knew that the supernaturals had given them a mash.
The Americans got no help from heaven or the saints but they knew what to do with corn."
— Bernard DeVoto, The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto
Steps are a key component to many houses, turning them from mere buildings to objects of endearment. Many of us can attest to the heartwarming feeling of walking up the steps to your home after a hard day’s work, envisioning the comfort you’ll soon feel upon entry. Others have felt that extra bounce whilst skipping down the steps en route to a favored hotspot, looking oh so fresh and so clean. But something else transforms steps into much more, into an object that brings together not just the homeowner, but friends, family, neighbors, sometimes the entire community — a stoop.
A previous post alluded to convivial urban spaces within a residential/mixed-use neighborhood, with a stoop being one of these devices. The stoop has the character to exude comfort for ungodly amounts of time, holding court for conversations and arguments that range from your favorite girl to your favorite car. They also serve as informal drinking places, as beer is often retrieved from the inside of the house and passed out to the stoopiphiles: this happens from classic bungalows in Chicago to brownstones in Harlem. I’m sure many a Southerner has taken a bourbon Presbyterian outside on a warm day as well.
But what other significance does the stoop hold in drinking culture? When Absolut and Spike Lee collaborated on Absolut Brooklyn, a stoop was integrated into the bottle design, as it spoke directly to what the borough means to so many Brooklynites. The etymology of the word itself comes from drinking culture, ranging from such associated meanings as a bucket, a jar, or a cup, to getting straight-to-the-point in meaning “a vessel of liquor” or a flagon. Even that Shakespeare guy asked for “a stoop of liquor” once….
So the next time you’re observing The Hour with just one or two friends, firmly ensconced in your living room, why not slide a little further outside and take a sit-down….you’d make Ms. Jacobs proud with those extra “eyes on the street” — or at least on the stoop.
(Source: Apartment Therapy)
I went to Charleston last year for a wedding. During the long Saturday morning/afternoon, I decided to go shopping/browsing through the historic downtown area. I entered the Billy Reid store, started browsing a bit. I sparked a conversation with the store attendant, and after he noticed me looking at the bottles of bourbon they had on a table, asked if I’d like him to pour me a drink. I acquiesced, as long if he’d have one with me. So we chatted a bit about the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, the clothing line, architecture, their expansion plans, etc., and I continued looking at their stock….comfortably fashionable and well-designed pieces indeed. I was also proud that both of our lines shared an Alabama heritage….I did not make a purchase, but I was just enamored at the entire experience, never having another quite like it, before or since then. Cheers to Billy Reid, a champion of fine men’s fashion and fine bourbon….