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”
Not yet the “dog days of summer”, and still a bit chilly to fully say “spring is here”, but it’s still Opening Day. In Baltimore, that might mean getting up to a bar for 6am soak-up-the-day pancakes, signifying that it’s a great day for day-drinking. So whether you’re knocking down Natty Boh’s at a furious clip, or letting some traditional Punch ease you through the day, enjoy the official first day of Spring. One of the greatest to ever play said, “Let’s play two!” — why not have another after you finish that one? Don’t wait until the seventh-inning stretch to #getcongenial….
What happens when the Punch bowl is empty?
Do you cry tears into the vessel until it’s once again overflowing? Do you wait until friends come over and bring you more Punch? Do you stomp down to the Fish House and demand that the City of Brotherly Love replenish your bowl?
Sometimes you have to grab your trusty swivel peeler, the shiniest lemon within arm’s reach, and set out to make another batch of Punch. It’s that easy….right?
Life is not as easy as making Punch. While there are plentiful stores from which you can purchase spirits, recipes to use as a guide, and mixological authorities to consult for nuance, there is no such option for going through Life. You can study all the life guides in the library, consult all the life coaches on LinkedIn, follow curricula from universities across the globe, but nothing quite prepares you for the rigors of Life.
At the end of the day, no one said this would be easy. Sometimes you’ve got to put your head down and continue pushing forward. When life throws you lemons, compound the second batch of Philadelphia Fish House Punch! Now THAT’S how to live congenially.
“And yeah my type, I like ‘em brown, just like my drink, — the f**k you think?” — “The Recipe,” Kendrick Lamar feat. Dr. Dre
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
The Congenial Hour will soon give way to The Closing Hour — polls in such battleground states as Virginia, and other early-closing polls such as Vermont, Indiana, Georgia, and a few others. This is about to be a long night.
The Congenial Hour holds no partisan feelings. We hold the rights of ALL people to choose whatever spirit you like, patronize whatever drinking place you fancy, and imbibe in a style all unto yourself.
But The Congenial Hour would like to applaud President Barack Obama for showing how to bring compromise and understanding, through his Beer Summit. And how many other Presidents released a recipe for their homebrew made in the bowels of the White House itself?
Let’s toast the man that has continually chosen to raise the bar. Let’s move FORWARD.
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?
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…
“I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch/
First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it…
Pool full of liquor, then you dive in it.
I wave a few bottles, then I watch em all flock/
All the girls wanna play Baywatch.
I got a swimming pool full of liquor and they dive in it…
Pool full of liquor I’ma dive in it…” — Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Swimming pools. Gatherings of people. Often, spirituous libations — commonly known as “drank”. Usually, an exercise of moderation.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned how we can “follow the breadcrumbs” of our youth to see how it has affected our personal style of imbibing — what, where, and how we drink, or even if we don’t. How we internalized the behavior of others while they were imbibing may help or hinder our relationship with the bottle. It depends on the past experiences. One friend of mine used to have an aunt that would give him a bit of her own homebrew when his mother would visit — he now owns a wonderful drinking place in Cincinnati, enjoyed by many people around town. Another friend once saw a man fall down a set of stairs while intoxicated — he has not taken a drink in any of his adult years.
Kendrick Lamar, the young upstart from Compton, puts forth his perspective in the song, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, and sides toward moderation. Perhaps if Carrie Nation had been able to ride a beat like Kendrick, she would have held greater sway in her time.
I poured the ingredients into the mixing glass: some Irish spirit, some herbal aperitif, couple handmade modifiers and sweeteners. Shook the cocktail like my life depended on it, and strained it into the waiting wine glass. With a shimmer on my tooth and a bead of sweat on my forehead, I offered one to the first woman, and extended another to her friend.
“Oh, no thanks, I don’t drink. I’m pure,” she explained.
I almost fell out.
Never in life had I received that response; I was unsure what exactly she meant. It was definitely funny, as her friend also started laughing, and she said with a smile, “Why does everyone always find that funny?” I replied that I’d just never received that explanation or rationale before — it’s usually a range of responses from what people don’t like or don’t prefer.
But when I finally got her to explain her point, she pointed to a history of seeing some family members, and friends, impaired by alcohol and not wanting to repeat those same steps. Many of us can often follow these “breadcrumbs” down the path of our lives to see why we are the way we are, and why we drink, or don’t drink, particular things. And to each their own — one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and if you don’t drink, there’s more for the rest of us!
However, all jokes and surplus whisky aside, the main intent should always be what keeps us the healthiest. Although, it seems that is up for debate, as this article points out. Many doctors have pointed to the antioxidant properties in red wine as offering a health benefit, but this article goes a step beyond, pointing out that a study found increased mortality rates in teetotalers, higher than both heavy and moderate drinkers. What does it mean? Does this signal a paradigm shift? Has the table turned? I’ll consider that over my two fingers of genever.
Hell hath no fury…like a whisk(e)y-drinking woman….
I’m talking about the woman that ends her workday by hanging up her coat, dropping her briefcase and purse on the couch, and pouring a touch or two of 46 — the more oak the better in her eyes…
The woman that holds a Ladies Night over her house, and instead of a sweet, colorific, fruit juice-laced mixed drink, offers her ladyfriends a flight of Speyside malts…
The woman that, before departing to try out a new establishment with a nice Irish whiskey selection, jumps up and slaps the “Drink Like a Champion Today” sign above her doorway…okay, maybe not that woman….
The type of woman that takes a seat at the bar, and before any of the prowling vultures chomping at the bit to buy her a name-your-own-tini off the drink menu, eyes a particularly-distinctive bottle of Scotch on the backbar and orders a dram. The vulture is left wondering how she came to pronounce such a name…
In conclusion, to question my initial statement — why does hellborn fury lack the intensity of our main damies? That comes from years and years of having men ask, “Ohhhh, come on now…you can’t possibly want that, right? Aren’t you just going to have that clear sweetness?” My goodfellows, at the end of the night, after you find yourself under the table, vodka tonic in hand, while your ladyfriend continues to hold court and two fingers of Kentucky brown with the same grace she began the night with, you’ll wonder, “What in the HELL was I thinking?!?!”
How do you envision the drinking culture on your special day?
Do you see a formal occasion, with pre-established pours of the finest still and sparkling grapes on earth into exquisite crystal goblets and flutes, circulated throughout the room on silver platters? Do you value formal toasts, synchronized by everyone in the room? Should everyone be on their best, rehearsed behavior?
Or would you prefer an occasion with loose morals, a free-for-all that starts at the open bar and continues in the middle of the dance floor — leaving all in the room aghast at what happens when best buds attack and BFF’s collide? Should there be shots all around, to whomever is still standing, until the cows come home? Would it be the icing on the proverbial wedding cake to have a contest between the parents of the bride and groom to see who can finish an Irish Car Bomb the fastest?
Please, for the sakes of all that is good…let’s envision a middle ground. What about an environment that reflects the congeniality of the best drinking places? Informal but with expected decorum, filled with acceptable offerings pleasing to all, quick-shifting with conversations, introductions, and sharing of experiences. Where banquet tables don’t act as barriers and no not-with-my-Mom-here’s to worry about. Wouldn’t that be a special day?
"In terms of numbers, the London Games certainly have been the Twitter Olympics, far outpacing both the Beijing and Vancouver Games…
Over the years, Twitter, which did not respond to a request for comment on this story, has become the Olympics’ “cocktail hour,” where both athletes and couch dwellers chatter about the games, said Jason Damata, spokesman for Trendrr, a social media tracker…
“Two or four years ago it wasn’t as common. Four years ago, especially, it was really just people in their houses saying ‘Oh my gosh did you see that dive.’ It was people talking to their social circles,” he said. “As Twitter as a platform has evolved and behavior has evolved, it is happening on both ends. Now there are way more athletes who are on. And there are way more people who are sharing their viewing habits, on Twitter especially."
— CNN, “Welcome to the Twitter Olympics”
I have waited a whole year to utter five words: I am back at Tales.
Writing a self-reflexive blog post about one’s Tales of the Cocktail experience is about as unique as writing a blog post on Facebook, the best mobile phone apps, or how Angry Birds has taken over — EVERYone has already done it. When you’re doing a blog, you usually want to see how you can set yours apart from others, even in discussing the same topic. It’s not unique just because you say it. As my father once told me, “The only thing unique about you is that no one else can stand in the place of your two feet at the same time.” My dad was one helluva science phenom.
What were the most unique aspects about busting my Tales cherry? For one, I was a newbie in the bartending/mixology game. I knew a little bit about a little bit, and I knew what Tales was about, but I wasn’t ready for the onslaught. Every time I retell the story, I get a big smile across my face. Remembering all the relationships I made, all the wonderful products I saw, everything I learned…priceless. All the free tastes, noses of glorious welcome cocktails, tipples of boutique craft spirits, straight swigs from high-priced bottles of booze, shots of tequila from a water gun…you just can’t put a price on stuff like this!
What does that mean for this year? I’ve used the relationships from last year to build momentum for my blog, for my burgeoning bartending exploits, and I’m very proud of that. Seeing how a trip — enabled by a free Southwest Airlines voucher and three nights each sleeping on the couch of two different friends — turned into one of the greatest springboards of my life is still amazing a year removed. I return a year wiser, a bonafide Tales veteran, looking forward to take Tales over for The Congenial Hour, [BAR]chitecture, and The Chocolate Bar. In the words of the almighty Jiggaman, “Watch me.”
The Congenial Hour strives to push the discourse in and around drinking culture. While drinks can be had at many different environments, this liquid transaction usually occurs across a bar, with one individual joining another individual to exchange libations for sufficient coin of the realm — seems pretty simple. Oh, but that’s why they play the game.
There are many aspects and layers of nuance to this transaction, but the point person — the bartender — holds all the cards. Everyone and everything is at his bidding; regular patrons, first-time visitors, cocktails, beer, wine, and all else. Nothing moves without his say-so.
What are some things that affect the “movement”? Ah ha, now we’re talking! That is the crux of discussion for this article: all the idiosyncrasies of the bartender and how you should seek to navigate them, in order to remain on his good side and ensure that your liquid transaction remains fluid. Hopefully, the different topics on this blog have prepared you: issues of what to drink, how to drink, and the environment in which you drink. These aren’t always issues that get down to the specifics of how often an establishment should slice garnishes, how digital pourers are operated, and what the sales volume was for the beverage alcohol industry last year.
A holistic cognizance of what you choose to get poured in your glass, etiquette for the ones serving you and others you come in contact with, and an awareness of the quality of operations of the establishments you choose to frequent lies at the heart of my discussions. I doubt if any of the 13 issues in the article will have you surprised or stumped; you probably knew them already!
“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