Cuba Libre: More than just a Rum & Coke

At a wedding recently, Shanna engaged in an extended debate with the bartender on the topic which titles this post. It’s tempting to lump the Cuba Libre together with the “and” drinks (i.e. gin and tonic, rum and coke, etc). But details matter, especially in simple to construct drinks. The fewer ingredients, the more important each becomes.

Such is the case with the Cuba Libre. One of only three ingredients, the lime juice makes all the difference. Leave it out and you’ve just got a rum and coke, but that simple addition of lime juice makes the Cuba Libre a far more delicious drink for a warm summer evening.

2 parts light rum

1 part lime juice

top with cola

Fill your serving glass halfway with ice and add your rum and lime juice. Top with cola and stir. For greatest social and historical relevance use Cuban rum and Coca Cola.

Cuba Libre

Film Friday: Mad Men

At long last Mad Men is back! A couple episodes into the new season and we’re as happy as Roger Sterling in a pool full of Stolichnaya, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to bend the rules on our Film Friday series. So sure, Mad Men isn’t a film, but after 4 seasons the character development is outstanding, the writing is absolutely on point, and the editing and camerawork are downright cinematic. Besides, it’s our blog and we’ll do what we want.

So suppose for a moment that for the past five years you’ve been consciously avoiding AMC and shunning their programming lineup. Maybe you’re under the impression that this “Mad Men” thing that people keep talking about is some gruesome spinoff of Angry Birds. But now you’ve seen the light. You read something online that changed your mind, or that cute girl at work was talking about the show, or maybe your friends and family staged an intervention, because they love you and want you to be happy with your television choices. Anyway, you’ve decided that you need to start watching this Mad Men show and through the miracle of Netflix you can start right from the beginning.

While I wouldn’t recommend going drink for drink with the characters onscreen, we find that the show’s more enjoyable with a strong drink in hand. As such, here’s a guide drinking along with Mad Men, season by season.

Mad Men season one with a Martini and Vodka Gimlet

Season 1: Martinis and Vodka Gimlets

Still steeped in the glamor and buttoned-up culture of the 1950’s, the first season of Mad Men begins in 1960 – the Drapers and the Sterlings sip traditional alcohol-heavy drinks in their favorite clubs, at home, and at work. More importantly, these period-appropriate cocktails will sooth the shock of some characters’ blatant sexism. But as the final scene of season 1 implies, the shows writers have a higher opinion of the female characters than do many of the male characters.

Season 2: Cuba Libres and Heineken with a side of Utz potato chips

I must admit, that of the four full seasons so far, season 2 is my least favorite. However, 3 & 4 more than make up for it and there are important plot points in season 2 that will be important later on. We went with Heineken and Utz for this season because both brands are featured as clients of the Sterling Cooper ad agency. But with the Cuban missile crisis looming at the end of the season, we figured the politically pertinent Cuba Libre would make a good fit.

Season 3: Old Fashioneds and French 75s

Season 3 is back on track with quality writing, compelling stories, and masterful filmmaking. This season is one of triumph, tragedy and strife, which made our selections more difficult. There is a birth and a death, which led us to the French 75. A celebratory drink, the French 75 is champagne-based, but also takes its name from a First World War artillery gun. And in episode 6 an altercation with a lawnmower inspired the selection of the Old Fashioned, a somewhat gory muddled drink.

Season 4: Irish Coffee and Dempsey Cocktail

We figure that if you’ve gotten this far you’ve probably missed some sleep, so wake yourself up with an Irish Coffee and soldier on. You’re on the home stretch. Once you’re awake, switch to the Dempsey Cocktail (which we’ll be posting in a few days). Named for the legendary boxer Jack Dempsey, this drink fits in with season 4’s combative themes. As Don battles with Betty and Sterling Cooper Draper Price go head-to-head with a rival agency, we see the characters at their best and at their worst. In fact, in one of the show’s many examples of highlighting historical context, episode 7 takes place the same night as Muhammad Ali’s second match-up against Sonny Liston.

Season 5 is off to a good start and we’re super excited to have new episodes to look forward to. As the season progresses, leave us suggestions in the comments as to what your drink of choice is for this season.

El Jimador New Mix Margarita Review

I have noticed a trend in my writing, both here on IPTB and elsewhere. The overwhelming bulk of reviews that I write are conspicuously positive. This has to do mainly with what I choose to review. If I like a product, I want to share it with others. I also suspect that the opinions we express here concerning booze have begun to teeter on the edge of snobbishness.

In an effort to rectify one of these two biases we bought a four-pack of El Jimador New Mix Margarita-in-a-can. I figure there are two ways this can turn out. Either I like the stuff and absolve myself of snobbery, or it’s as bad as I expect it to be and I can even out my reviewer’s karma.

Who can guess which way this is going?

El Jimador - in its natural habitat.

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Film Fridays: The Secret of Kells and the Wild Irish Rose

The day before St. Patrick’s Day it would be downright irresponsible of me to neglect the Irish contribution to cinema and booze in today’s Film Friday post. A few of my favorite films happen to be Irish including Intermission and Breakfast on Pluto, or feature Irish leads as in The Boondock Saints and In America. I even considered throwing a curve-ball with The Company of Wolves, which as a horror nerd I rank at the third best werewolf transformation scene after An American Werewolf in London and The Howling III: The Marsupials.

But I’ll save the gruesome horror and gore for another week. Instead I decided to go in the other direction with one of the most beautifully animated children’s films that I’ve ever seen, The Secret of Kells. Children’s cinema and booze are, admittedly, not the most obvious match. But I wouldn’t have chosen this flick if it didn’t hold at least as much appeal for adults as for children. Plus, the film’s got an Oscar nomination to back me up.

The Secret of Kells

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St. Germaine Cocktail

We discovered this treasure at Les Chefs Des Paris restaurant in Epcot. Now in my top five favorite drinks, the St. Germaine Cocktail is like a glass full of happiness. (Even if technically it’s not a cocktail.)

1 1/2 parts St. Germaine

2 parts Champagne or other French sparkling white wine

2 parts Perrier or sparkling water

Combine all ingredients in a tall glass with ice. Stir thoroughly and garnish with a twist of lemon.

St. Germaine Cocktail

Recipe courtesy of St. Germaine

I Prefer the Term Traveler: Walt Disney World

We, Matt and Shanna, spent five days over-eating, waiting in lines, occasionally relaxing, and drinking (when the cocktails seemed palatable) in Florida’s Walt Disney World this February.  We came for the animatronics, food, and warm weather, and left with a Kermit hat and a well “researched” theory on how to drink in Disney.

This theory consists primarily of what not to drink. As it turns out, we skipped a lot of opportunities to imbibe because, to our dismay, 80% of all booze on offer at the parks are cheap light beer (mostly the unholy triumvirate of Bud, Miller, and Coors), sugar & juice concoctions topped with a drop of booze, or variously flavored frozen abominations fraudulently sullying the name margarita. But fear not dear reader, for though our noses were held high in the air, they did lead us to a handful of truly magical beverages. Continue reading

Film Fridays: My Uncle, the Spritzer

Jacques Tati is one of those filmmakers that cinema nerds refer to as auteurs. This is a French term used to describe filmmakers whose work is so distinctive that you could recognize it without doubt. Contemporary examples would be Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese. But among the most distinctive filmmakers of the 20th century is undoubtedly Jacques Tati.

Jacques Tati's 'Mon Oncle'

Tati wrote, directed, and starred in a half dozen feature length films (with a few shorts and other projects) from the 1950s into the early 70s. And though he made his films long after the era of silent film, the dialogue in Tati’s films is extremely sparse, instead developing plot through highly cultivated characters and his actors’ ability to communicate physically.

Often compared to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati was an unparalleled physical actor. His recurring protagonist, Monsieur Hulot (played by himself) is as simple, naïve, and comical as Chaplin’s greatest roles, yet distinctly and undoubtedly French.

Some would argue that Mon Oncle (My Uncle) is Tati’s masterpiece, and though I haven’t seen all of his work yet, I would be inclined to agree. Revolving around the notion of modernity and luxury, Mon Oncle paints a sharp contrast between the ultra-automation of modern culture and the charm of classic French life.

The humor of Mon Oncle is built primarily around repeated jokes and masterful sight gags. As boring as a film with very little dialog may sound, Mon Oncle is among the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.

When we sat down to watch Mon Oncle earlier in the week, we tried something new to drink combining dry vermouth, lillet, and sparkling water. The result was light, refreshing, and surprisingly complex, fitting for the film. We named it a French Spritzer.

2 oz dry vermouth

2 oz Kina Lillet

top with sparkling water

Pour the vermouth (we used Noilly Prat) and lillet into a tall glass and stir. Add a couple handfuls of ice and top with sparkling water. You can also garnish with a twist of lemon.

French Spritzer: a Boozehound Original

The Myth of the Green Fairy

In our earlier article, The History of Absinthe, we touched briefly on the long-held belief that absinthe – and specifically the wormwood in it – taken in significant quantity will cause a drinker to go insane. This belief was one of the major motivating factors that led to a nearly century-long ban on absinthe in the US and much of Europe. In fact, the notion that absinthe causes hallucinations persists in pop culture and the public consciousness to this day, and is often played for humor in film and television.

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Duchess Cocktail

The Duchess Cocktail is a little-known drink that we dug up in Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. But this cocktail is so tasty and complex that we’re hoping to inspire a revival.

It’s especially important in this case to use the best quality dry and sweet vermouth you can find. Noilly Prat is the standard in most places, but we recommend Dolin if you can find it.

1 part absinthe

1 part dry vermouth

1 part sweet vermouth

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass half filled with ice. Stir thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The unexpectedly complex and delicious Duchess Cocktail