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
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
(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.
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!
“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”
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
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
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
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*
“A lot of architects design a lot of details,” Taniguchi was saying. “I try to conceal details.” His brand of modernism doesn’t always express its structure; instead, his buildings tend to have a lightness of being, defying the steel, glass, concrete and stone it took to make them. Their exquisite craftsmanship is legendary, and Japanese contractors are proud to oblige him…
Later, ordering drinks before dinner, Taniguchi talked about how different building methods are in America. But he never really answered the question of why such a famous architect at home had taken so long to design outside Japan. “You are psychoanalyzing me,” he said with a slight smile.
Then his cocktail arrived. It was a Manhattan.
— Excerpt from “Red Hot MoMA: New York’s great modern museum is reborn, thanks to $425 million and an unlikely architect named Taniguchi,” by Cathleen McGuigan, Newsweek
We’ve all seen how my namesake feels about Punch.
Moving a bit closer to home, and away from classical times, we see what Baltimore’s barkeeps are stirring up with the P-funk. A truly classic mixture for a city with a truly American heritage, Punch is shaping to be the drink of the summer. With the recent “Sailabration” of the War of 1812, a colonial essence is still wafting over the city, and the combination of oleo-saccharum and the devil’s elixir carry it far and wide. Maybe you’ll find it in a city or picnic near you soon?
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.
Some of us just don’t know when to stop being congenial. Sometimes when to start.
A bit of a faux pas by our wonderful President. Maybe he was wowed by the opportunity to offer a toast to the granddaughter of the woman on the pretty blue bottle. Maybe he thought he had the most congenial toast ever prepared. Maybe he wanted to discuss the special relationship and peculiarities of drinking culture between the two countries. Whatever it was, he should’ve just paused a moment. Don’t rush — we aren’t going anywhere. There’s more than enough time to get congenial after the music stops playing.
“The bar and kitchen are so close together now…For me, a bartender is just as inspirational as a pastry chef or chef de cuisine.” — Tyler Florence
What inspires you? Do you inspire those around you?
Are you a take-things-as-they-come kind of person? Just roll with the punches? Or do you take life by the helm, place the pins yourself, and then knock them down? A steady drizzle or full of fire?
There are two perspectives to “free will”. One side says that people can do whatever they want, regardless of anything in their path. The other side says that there are always external forces working for or against you, directly and indirectly, so that it is never really “you” doing exactly what you want. If you knew one or the other was true, would it stop you from doing what you want to do?
At the end of the day, nothing matters but what you have set out to do. Others may be in your way, but you can only control yourself. Do all you can to help and share with those around you to push the craft, but don’t align yourself with anything that is not moving forward.
Cast a broad net and keep finding things to reach for, that augment what you do. You can never stop learning and striving to make what you do even better. Keep your “eyes on the prize” and never give up — that’s inspiring.
[Photos by ME]
“Punch started up in the parlour of the Edinburgh Castle in the Strand in 1841, and its staff later frequented the Crown and Sugar Loaf in Fleet Street in such numbers that its name was changed to Punch’s Tavern. Punch was only the best known of early Victorian periodicals associated with taverns.” — Victorian Pubs, by Mark Girouard