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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 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!

(Source: milehighcinema.com)

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.

(Source: architecturaldigest.com)

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.

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.

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.

Ghost Deini is usually seen sipping on a Jimmy Neutron — a concoction of Patron, Nuvo, & Sprite — but if someone names their beer after you…well, aren’t you inclined to switch up? But who can turn down a good bottle of spirits? Especially not Pretty Tone! He’s a superstar, yeahhhh…
“Pop bottles yo, but not just ‘pagne/You drink Cristal? Well that’s a damn shame/I down Ketel One, bottles of that Grey Goose/That white Hennessy… — Ghostface Killah, “Superstar”

Ghost Deini is usually seen sipping on a Jimmy Neutron — a concoction of Patron, Nuvo, & Sprite — but if someone names their beer after you…well, aren’t you inclined to switch up? But who can turn down a good bottle of spirits? Especially not Pretty Tone! He’s a superstar, yeahhhh…

Pop bottles yo, but not just ‘pagne/You drink Cristal? Well that’s a damn shame/I down Ketel One, bottles of that Grey Goose/That white Hennessy… — Ghostface Killah, “Superstar”

Maybe some of these will wanna come out and play?

"The owners of Union Kitchen, a “food incubator” that offers kitchen space for food truck operators, startup businesses and caterers, filed a liquor license application on Friday that would create a large “outdoor tavern with food trucks” with room for 200 people in the parking lot next to its building, located at Third and L streets NE.” — “Union Market plans live…”, Washington Post article

The G&T | New York Times Article →

(My Welsh compatriot): "How do you normally take your gin?"

Nikolas X[patriate]: "In a Gimlet…"

(My sage Welsh benefactor): [paraphrasing for lack of memory of exact verbiage] "You’ve got to have it like this….it’s brilliant, you’ll never want it another way! (calls to bartender) Yes, Bombay Sapphire with bitter lemon, please…."

And that’s how I was introduced to the gin and tonic, although it was more of a personal introduction, as we’d been in mutual company before. My father has been an avid devotee of the G&T for as long as I knew; at every restaurant, his strict order was, “Gin and tonic, heavy on the tonic…with a twist of lemon, not a wedge, not a slice…a twist.” But I was not an aficionado of the G&T, preferring the sharp jab to the neck of the Gimlet.

But I must say that bitter lemon changed my worldview. It’s not as readily available as tonic water, so it’s quite the gem if you can get your hands on some. It isn’t as purely airy and nuanced as most tonics, but adds a bit of defined flavor that meshes exquisitely with the intent of a G&T. I must say, if dear old Dad ever had one, he might’ve saved the lemons for lemonade.

This article by the NY Times waxes poetically about the classic cocktail, and about several attempts to purely embellish and not obscure it. Many cocktails like the Negroni, the Old Fashioned, and the Mojito have undergone numerous attempts at mixological prowess, using unnamed techniques and obscure ingredients in an attempt to create a more glorious sequel. But as my dear papa also passed along to me, “The enemy of better is good enough.” Let the G&T continue to waft along with its pleasant qualities, maybe with a bit of effervescence in the garnish, but don’t overshadow it. You’ve got years of success behind it. 

Cocktail Flight

For a while in the Millennium Age, an airplane was the only place you could continue living the analog life. In-flight wi-fi access (albeit at a cost) has changed that, but the flying bird seems to be the only place remaining in the cocktail Stone Age of Mixology. The options are mostly basic mixed drinks, poured a minimum of ways, with a minimum of mixers.  Space for inventory is a probable deterrent, but every “particularly distinctive” spirit producer doesn’t make airplane bottle sizes, either.

Though the good people at Alcademics.com have mobilized their drinking mercenaries to bring word of more glorious options, those of us with domestic intentions are still entering our cocktail selection on a stone tablet. Why is that? I don’t expect the flight attendants to fine strain down the aisle, but there are options out there; no need to ensure a certifiable mixologist is included on every flight. Bottled carbonated cocktails may only be on the radar of hipsters and cocktail aficionados, but they offer a unique option to people more than 10,000ft above the rail. Punches can keep for a good amount of time as well, and work well for batching, pouring from a carafe, and simply over ice. There are a myriad of cocktails that can be simply mixed, with ingredients that don’t require major effort. 

The only light that shines through the friendly skies is the “Eat. Drink. Sleep.” feature in Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine that offers a bit of mixology — a cocktail gem by bartenders you can touch down with after you touch down. Some may have been places you visited during your trip, and maybe got 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!

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!

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!

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!

Pouring Off the Fiscal Cliff | Washington Post Excerpt

Two definites in life: death and taxes. But what gets taxed?

In the presence of bartenders, cocktail swiggers, and spirit tipplers, many topics of conversation cross the bar, from marriage to sports to religion…politics is also high on the list. But who would know that contained within the biggest issue in political discourse of the past month lay a little nugget of drinking culture? Wasn’t the fiscal cliff supposed to be all about the middle class, Bush era tax cuts, and spending disparities? Who knew it really dealt with the Solera system, pressed sugarcane, and the Hemingway Daiquiri??

Another oddball provision dealt with excise taxes on imported rum, which the U.S. government mainly funnels to the territorial governments of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This deal said that arrangement will continue.

Nobody had said a word about excise taxes and rum on the floor of the House or the Senate in the two years since the provision was renewed the last time.

“I keep saying, let’s take the occasion to reform it,” said Pedro Pierluisi (D), Puerto Rico’s nonvoting representative in Congress. Pierluisi believes that too much of this money gets funneled back to rum distillers instead of being used for economic development. “It didn’t happen this time around.” — Tea party backers swallow a bitter pill in ‘cliff’ bill”, Washington Post

“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…

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…

Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Repeal the Bush-era tax cuts. Repeal the Civil Rights Act. Repeal the Tuck Rule.
There are more than enough rules, acts, laws, codes, & mantras to worry about repealing. Can’t we just be happy one BIG one got repealed on this date, that allows us to take all the rest of the repeal-worry in stride? The only repeal you should worry about today is the lemon peel spraying oils into your cocktail, which you’ll replenish again, and again, then again again — possibly at one of these 25 wondrous drinking places to celebrate the achievement of this informal holiday. Cheers to legal imbibing. *clink, clink*

Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Repeal the Bush-era tax cuts. Repeal the Civil Rights Act. Repeal the Tuck Rule.

There are more than enough rules, acts, laws, codes, & mantras to worry about repealing. Can’t we just be happy one BIG one got repealed on this date, that allows us to take all the rest of the repeal-worry in stride? The only repeal you should worry about today is the lemon peel spraying oils into your cocktail, which you’ll replenish again, and again, then again again — possibly at one of these 25 wondrous drinking places to celebrate the achievement of this informal holiday. Cheers to legal imbibing. *clink, clink*

This way or that-a-way?
Yesterday was Halloween, a holiday observed by many, through custom and costume. Last year, The Congenial Hour fell right into place, with a pre-post and day-of-post commemorating the occasion. This year — not so much. While Andre 3000 has rhymed about Valentine’s Day, there aren’t too many rhymes in his catalog referencing The Great Pumpkin. And wine, though enjoyed on many, if not all, 365 days of the calendar, isn’t directly related to Halloween. And you know what I say to that?
So. What.
I used to look towards holidays/occasions as a “gimme” in blogging, as it afforded me a day where I didn’t have to conjure up a drinking culture connection for a post. But there’s only so many times you can do that, and at the very least, I like to keep people on their toes. There’s one thing I’ve always said about ThCgnlHr: “I don’t care if there’s one person or one million people reading, the one thing you cannot say about the blog is that it’s boring.” One way to stave off boredom is to keep things fresh and unexpected.
I’m often asked what my favorite cocktail or spirit is, and I usually have no answer, just a lot of explanation. But it’s the truth: it totally depends on how I’m feeling at the time, and can often be without rhyme or reason. It’s truly about personal style, one of the tags you can follow on ThCgnlHr. The same goes for the blog — let the feeling carry the content.
This way or that-a-way?
Neither. MY way.
ps This post means there won’t be an El Dia de Los Muertos blog today either. My apologies…

This way or that-a-way?

Yesterday was Halloween, a holiday observed by many, through custom and costume. Last year, The Congenial Hour fell right into place, with a pre-post and day-of-post commemorating the occasion. This year — not so much. While Andre 3000 has rhymed about Valentine’s Day, there aren’t too many rhymes in his catalog referencing The Great Pumpkin. And wine, though enjoyed on many, if not all, 365 days of the calendar, isn’t directly related to Halloween. And you know what I say to that?

So. What.

I used to look towards holidays/occasions as a “gimme” in blogging, as it afforded me a day where I didn’t have to conjure up a drinking culture connection for a post. But there’s only so many times you can do that, and at the very least, I like to keep people on their toes. There’s one thing I’ve always said about ThCgnlHr: “I don’t care if there’s one person or one million people reading, the one thing you cannot say about the blog is that it’s boring.” One way to stave off boredom is to keep things fresh and unexpected.

I’m often asked what my favorite cocktail or spirit is, and I usually have no answer, just a lot of explanation. But it’s the truth: it totally depends on how I’m feeling at the time, and can often be without rhyme or reason. It’s truly about personal style, one of the tags you can follow on ThCgnlHr. The same goes for the blog — let the feeling carry the content.

This way or that-a-way?

Neither. MY way.

ps This post means there won’t be an El Dia de Los Muertos blog today either. My apologies…