“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!
“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!
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”
“What we dranking? No, we drankin’ it ALL! We gon’ do it ‘til we can’t or we fall, last call…” — Outkast (Big Boi) ft. Various Artists, “Last Call”
It’s all fun and games when you sit down for a long day of talking mess and chest-pounding.
Even more fun when you make a cocktail to get you through the middle rounds of tight end and defense/special teams selections.
You’re all ready for the fun and games to start after looking over your lineup, seeing where you have strengths & weaknesses, who you might trade, etc.
You can’t have anything but fun when you start the year off unbeaten through the first six games.
Remembering that it’s just fun and games, you don’t panic when you go on a two-game losing streak — nothing you can do but coach well and keep an eye on the waiver wire.
You have a little fun during the games by posting photos of various “football cocktails” that fuel your viewing activities.
You finish the year strong, and look forward to the fun and games to be had during the playoffs.
Then you lose. Your season is over. The Commish comes calling — literally, the last call. No more fun and games.
Until next season…
“And yeah my type, I like ‘em brown, just like my drink, — the f**k you think?” — “The Recipe,” Kendrick Lamar feat. Dr. Dre
We had problems but it’s all in the past/
Everybody got problems baby, algebra class.
Remember I used to do things that’d make you laugh/
Like orderin’ a girl drink in a masculine glass?
You like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain/
Or rocking flannels all summer like Kurt Cobain,
Or that Dolce Gabbana with a few gold chains/
And you the type of girl that probably deserve a new last name….
Rented the whole bottom floor for a candlelight dinner/
Turned the lights out and put my candle right in her,
And told her, “Even though I met you in a club in a tight dress,
At first sight I could picture you in a white dress.” — “White Dress”, Kanye West
Though quite the refined gentleman, the man most commonly known as Andre Benjamin (as well as 3000, Ice Cold, Possum Aloysius Jenkins, Cupid Valentino, and Benjamin Andre, among others) knows how to get down with a cocktail or two. But to share one with him, you’d best be on your p’s & q’s — that stands for Pinots and Qualitatswein, by the way, not pints and quarts….
“Then go grab the finest wine and drink it like we know which grape and which region it came from, as if we can name ‘em/
Hint hint, it ain’t, um, Welch’s.
Hell, just fell three thousand more degrees cooler/
Ya’ll can’t measure my worth, but when you try, you’ll need a ruler made by all the Greek gods…” — “Sixteen”, by Rick Ross feat. Andre 3000
What would you do if you walked up to your favorite watering hole…and your favorite rapper was behind the bar? How would you greet him? Would you order the same thing or sample something different? Would you order something he referenced in a rhyme? Would you try to test his mettle — either asking about the new Grand Marnier Natural Cherry, throw some Cherry Heering in a cocktail, or maybe a bit of kirschwasser, neat — in a bit of a mixology battle?
Soon we’ll be able to answer these questions. #LifeIsGood
“Everything’s good, everything’s fine….yeah, pour a little cherry wine…” — Nas, “Cherrywine”, Life Is Good
[Photos by ME]
“Shut down your operation, closed for business/
Leave a foul taste in your mouth, like Guinness…” — Mobb Deep, “Hell on Earth”
You don’t have to be a fan of Bar Rescue to know that countless drinking places close every day…gone forever, lost to the memories of the former patrons. While there is a range of emotions that set in upon the closing — disappointment, heartache, happiness to some, anger to others — it eventually dissipates as we find another bar stool with our name on it at another establishment. Is that all it takes — on to the next one? What does the literal “Last Call” mean to the built and social fabric of our communities?
What does it mean to the patron? To the common visitor or urban transplant, it’s a lost opportunity to make a new acquaintance, learn something unexpected about their new surroundings, or see that new culture “in action”. This may not resonate with residents, as they may not give the same value to certain places that have “been there forever”. However, it’s a problem for them as well — the next time they want to show a visiting friend what their city is truly like, it may look the same as every other city in FranchiseTown, USA. What made that particular city unique passed on right under their noses, as they didn’t lift a finger to try and prevent it.
Let’s discuss the perspective of the changing city. When all this urban energy and social activity is gone, doesn’t it make our cities feel a bit dormant, just a little empty? Maybe lacking for that excitement and experience that you go home and tell someone about, or are able to pass along in recollection to a friend in a fond retelling? Every urban environment may not be like Vine Street in late 19th-century Cincinnati, which had 136 drinking places along its downtown stretch in 1890. That speaks to a certain culture of industry that sustains that level of activity — an industry long gone, with only physical remnants still visible.
Finally, the industry. One truism espoused by Bernard DeVoto was, “The surest proof of the moral foundation of the universe is that you can always find good whiskey if you will go looking for it.” If one places closes, we can surely find another place willing to suit our tastes of fine cocktailing. However, what does that do to the local industry? In these tough times, it’s not easy to just set up shop somewhere. In simple terms, it’s hard out here for a publican. Small business loans, identifying and reaching a target user group, sustaining sales to woo continued supply — it takes more than just pouring a pony of spicy brown into a glass.
So, friends, in the words of Sean Connery, what are we prepared to do? The answer — realize that we can’t do it all ourselves. We must join together to keep our cities alive. About to enjoy that bottle of sweet brown you picked up the other week? Call over your buddy you haven’t spoken to in a month of Sundays to help you, so he knows what to look for upon his next visit to a drinking place. Stopping off for a quick cocktail with your main damie before a snazzy event? Have her girlfriends join you, and soak in their comments on how impeccably detailed a combination your suit and cufflinks make. Had an unexpectedly-informing exchange with the bartender at that corner spot, where you went for a “one and done”? Tell a couple people about it and send some business their way. The city will always be there, but it’s up to us to live in it.
Some people think scotch is good…
Some people believe anything with vodka is good…
Some people feel Malort is good…
But when “you become better than legends you thought were the greatest,” you find out that life is good…more than any thought, belief, or feeling, you KNOW. The ability to persevere when others no longer do, maintaining a presence where none others remain, having your words ring true when others’ have turned hollow — that’s when you KNOW that Life is Good…so, then what do you do?
“Crack the Patrón, Hennessy and Glenlivets,
Champagne bottles drowning out the sorrows,
Hope the memories’ll get us through tomorrow…
Put your glass high if you made it out the stash spot,
And here to tell your story and celebrate the glory.
Drinks in the air for my n****s not here,
This for the fallen soldiers,
Hold it down, I told you,
Pop another bottle and keep the smoke rolling…” — Nas, “A Queens Story”, Life is Good
“Them n****s ain’t dying for you…
Them n****s ain’t dying for you….”
With whom do you choose to go out? Is your wing(wo)man the most responsible person you know? Do they know when to corral you and reel you back from the deep end? On the other hand, do you know when to read their meter and prevent it from going into the red?
“Beef is best served like steak —
Well done, get a gun in your face….
Beef will have you praying to God
Move your kids, have you hiding your mom.
Beef is when you hide behind them other n****s,
But they ain’t killers they ain’t pullin them triggers…
Beef will have you keying our cars,
Heartbroke, yours don’t look like ours.”
Whatever you want to call it — beef, static, envy, hating, gossip — converged recently at a club in NYC when Drake, Chris Brown, and Meek Mill, among other celebrities attended the same nightclub simultaneously. What is fact is that a melee of some magnitude ensued, and although bullets weren’t thrown in the air, bottles can be just as dangerous. The aftermath showed all types of liquor bottles, glasses, buckets, everything strewn about, like someone took bottle service and smeared it on the floor.
All three parties of the aforementioned rappers have claimed innocence, saying they either weren’t there when the bottles turned into confetti, that their hangers-on had nothing to do with the ice buckets being thrown like rice at a wedding. It’s been insinuated that it’s the “other people” that got involved, the entourage’s entourage getting all antsy and itching for a tussle. But how responsible should we be for the ones we choose to #getcongenial with? True, we may not put the bottle in their hand, but can’t we calm the situation down before they choose to toss it? Further, do we REALLY want to have our fate possibly be tied to them and their actions? We need our friends to have our back, but when the fecal matter hits the fan, they’re throwing bottles? That’s not who you need holding you down. Like The Dream said, they ain’t dying for you.
“Them n****s using you as a pawn,
You see they never loaded they guns
Now you out here all by yourself
Ask Steve Jobs, wealth don’t buy health.” — “Exodus 23:1” by Pusha T
Whether it’s striving to time travel, insert wellness in our lives, live freely and embrace fantasies in the present, become a Master Distiller of a finely aged spirit, or a world-famous playwright….we can all dream…and believe…of a life as golden as Jill Scott and Ponyboy’s visions…as gold as the tequila and rum we drink at times. Stay golden, stay congenial…
“”Hot tub time machine, back to the Sybaris,
hats from liquor stores to avoid syphilis/
Frivolous spending, drunk nights with storybook endings,
I guess it’s my addiction to women/
I was in France, Hennessy blending,
writing my own scripts like I’m Tennessee Williams…” — Common, “Gold”
“Pass me the green, I need some weed with my Hennessy….” — Master P, “Pass Me The Green”
Today is a holiday. You probably won’t find it on your calendar, hear Matt Lauer nor Al Roker talk about it on Today, nor will you get a card in the mail from your grandmother. It’s 4/20, the smoker’s holiday — the day to sit back, roll up, and light one in the good name of the ganja.
Lil’ Wayne set the picture for the group of people observing today when he said he’s, “a heavy smoker…I’m a light drinker.” There just might not be enough time in the day to be able to smoke AND drink. Further, people do tend to side towards one vice or the other. Granted, there are those people who enjoy a social cigarette while out imbibing and cavorting with friends, but that’s probably a blip in the data, more or less. A good friend who suited up for the Smokers team once said that all he drinks are Wild Grape Smirnoff Ice’s — it’s light enough not to mess up his high and they remind him of childhood, which is a plus in his eyes. One congenial fellow also has a saying: “I only have one vice — drinking. I don’t smoke and I only mess with clean women.” That’s an adage fit for the wall above your liquor cabinet.
It is not worth to debate which is the more congenial vice. While I could start a good, long rundown of the celebrated joys of drinking, smoking has been a cultural custom for eons with peoples around the globe. Further, both smoking and drinking have their bad sides, and have pulled people down a slippery slope into the abyss of despair. But for shites and grins, let’s argue why drinking doesn’t get a holiday like its partner-in-crime. One might count St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Burns Day, and New Year’s Eve amongst “drinking holidays” but they’re really just used as excuses [that I’ll broach in a post around May 5th]. There is no day in the year where people gather just to say, “Hooray to drink!” Maybe because it’s legal. Ohhhh yeah, that’s right — we got our holiday by defeating the gubment. Can any smoker claim that?
With a nickname like “Holiday” Styles, he’s bound to drink like it’s his day off…
“Trying to watch Beat Street and Wild Style…get the feeling back/
Whateva’ happen to realer rap,
Ask my man where the tequila at…”
“How I’m feeling, it doesn’t matter
Cause you know I’m okay/
And still, I ask myself, “Why do you worry?”
When you know I’m the same/
I know, I know you don’t love me, baby
They’re trying to take you away from me/
Only over my dead body…” — Drake, “Over My Dead Body”
“Last Call.” Two of the most horrendous words ever uttered within a drinking place. Even worse than, “Not tonight,” “Get out!,” and the two words said during a one and two conversation. But I digress. Hearing “Last Call” causes our spirits to drop a bit, no pun intended, as we realize that the grand time we’re having with our ace booms will soon be coming to a close. It also discourages those of us that arrive at an event late and don’t get to wade in the libations for as long as we’d hoped. How can we deal with this tragic phrase? Is there any way to #getcongenial for a bit longer?
There isn’t. Last Call is just that: the last time a call to the bar can be made. But you can make the most of your time communicating with the barkeep. Many people choose to be “double-fisted”: carrying around two drinks at the same time. Maybe a beer and a shot, a shot with a cocktail back, or two mixed drinks. The stranglehold on the “beer and a shot” requires great manual dexterity, and once mastered, allows you to continue hand gestures that appropriately punctuate high and low points of your conversation. Mere mortals need not attempt, lest they make a fool of themselves, their shoes, and the Bier.
What about a shot followed by a proper cocktail? What’s the saying? “You’re on your way to hell with gasoline drawers.” Talk about putting the pedal to the metal! Not only do you want the effects of the cocktail you’re drinking, but you’re gonna pump it up a notch with periodic shots of MORE liquor? Unless you have a water IV hooked up to you, this is not the best thing to do.
Which brings us to the third option — feeling that two cocktails are better than one. While this is true according to basic math, it also makes sense based on one main circumstance — if the cocktails are free. If not, you’re paying to let one cocktail water down and lose its quality while you suck down the other hurriedly to get to its cousin. Losing on both counts.
As we’ve figured out, Last Call is one of the most unwavering things in a drinking place, other than the 6’-7”, 300lb bouncer. Keep one eye on your watch, and you won’t have to utilize rogue cocktailing techniques to enable an enjoyable experience. Stay congenial, at all costs.