How to Stock Your Bar

Aside from booze blogs, web comics, regular comics, and as many books as we can get our hands on, we (specifically Matt) like to read certain menswear blogs. In particular we recommend An Affordable Wardrobe and Put This On, which inspired our video segments. One of the common questions addressed on menswear blogs is how to build a wardrobe and not surprisingly, the process is very similar to stocking your bar.

This is our collection a year ago. Much like a child, it has only gotten larger and more expensive since then.

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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.

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

Mary Pickford

The Mary Pickford, named for the queen of the silent screen, is a bit difficult to pin down. The pineapple juice and grenadine give it sweetness, but it’s held in check by the aromatics of the rum and maraschino liqueur. The result is a balance of flavors that is very interesting, but certainly not for everyone. This recipe makes a rather large cocktail, so feel free to scale it down a bit.

BONUS: Click here to check out a small but charming gallery of Mary Pickford portraits.

4 oz Jamaican rum

2 oz pineapple juice

2 tsp maraschino liqueur

dash of grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a shaker half full of ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Mary Pickford

Canfield Killer Egg Nog

This recipe, passed down by my father from a former co-worker, is a departure from the more traditional egg nogs we’ve posted recently. Alton Brown’s recipe is the more traditional egg nog, Trader Vic takes nog back to the basics, but Canfield Killer Nog is like the Epic Meal Time variation of egg nog. Even more so because to get this recipe down to a reasonable size – this one makes about a half gallon pitcher – I had to quarter the original measurements. Whereas previous recipes called for about 3 oz of booze per pitcher of nog, this recipe is around one third whiskey, brandy, and rum.

We’ll be enjoying our own batch of Canfield Killer Egg Nog at the Carrick family Christmas gathering. Check out our facebook page for photos!

5                           eggs

1/2 cup                 sugar

1 cup                     whiskey

1/2 cup                 brandy

1/2 cup                 rum

1 cup                     light cream

2 cups                   milk

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a large mixing bowl. We won’t be using the whites, so save those for an egg white omelet or some other irrelevant foolishness. Beat the yolks until they’re light in color and consistency. While still beating, slowly add the sugar, cream, milk, and booze one at a time. Transfer to a pitcher or punch bowl and chill. This is an egg nog that benefits from aging, which rounds the flavor and smooths the texture. You should make this nog at least a few hours before serving, but you can let it age for several weeks so long as it’s refrigerated. According to Linda Canfield, “The longer it sits, the better it tastes.”

Trader Vic’s Single-Serving Brandy Egg Nog

As we’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of egg nog recipes out there. Each of them is a little different with variations in seasoning, booze, ratios, etc. But the basic elements of egg nog – egg, milk, sugar, and booze – are present in all of them. Trader Vic’s invaluable compendium, the Bartender’s Guide, lists nine different egg nog recipes. I’ve chosen this recipe, listed in the guide as Brandy Egg Nog #1, because it’s the most basic (and because most of his other recipes include Madeira, which we didn’t have on hand). In fact, this is about the simplest egg nog recipe I’ve ever found. There’s no separating eggs, no electric mixers, no cooking. And unlike most other recipes that yield a pitcher of nog, Trader Vic mixes one drink at a time.

Trader Vic's Single-Serving Egg Nog

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