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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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!
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.”
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.
One of my favorite episodes of Alton Brown’s unique cooking show Good Eats is season 9 episode 13, in which he explores egg nog and the bourbon that he puts in it. [You can find it on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2] Now, there are a lot of egg nog recipes out there, and we’ll cover a few of them leading up to the holiday, but for my money, this is one of the best.
Granted, this recipe is a lot of work compared to most everything else we post here on IPTB, but egg nog’s a party drink and this will yield enough boozed-up nog for around 6 generous servings. That’s a whole pitcher of this holiday treat that’ll make you think twice about serving store-bought nog ever again. Continue reading
It’s now a couple days after the 2011 Pittsburgh Whiskey Festival and I’m still doing my best to collect and organize my thoughts from that evening, so let’s start with the obvious: it was awesome. “Kid in a candy store” doesn’t cover it.
Organized by the good folks who bring us the Pittsburgh Wine Festival in partnership with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, this was the fifth Pittsburgh Whiskey and Fine Spirits Festival. Proceeds benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
In all, close to 175 spirits brands crowded the East Club Lounge at Heinz Field and any remaining floor space was flooded by hundreds of attendees. The atmosphere in that expansive yet cramped space was, in my experience, unique. It was hectic (We have to try the good stuff before they run out!), it was exciting (Angel’s Envy, Philadelphia Distilling, and our good friends from Wigle were all in attendance!), it was drunk (We tried all the good stuff before they ran out!).
It seemed to me that vendors and attendees were divided into factions, which is representative of attitudes towards drinking these days. There were the attendees who were there to get drunk and the booze brands that cater to them. You could generally identify these brands by the presence of “booth babes,” a phenomenon usually reserved for Comic Cons and trade shows.
On the other side of the coin, however, there were a tremendous number of people who were genuinely interested in tasting the liquors on offer (ending up a bit wobbly was a side effect). Luckily for us, there was a fantastic lineup of distilleries represented that offered some amazing liquors to sample.
We made a point to limit our intake to labels we really wanted to try. This included large established brands that might otherwise be outside of our price range (such as Laphroaig 18 Year Old scotch), smaller brands that might be harder to find (like Death’s Door White Whiskey, or Isle of Jura Scotch), and stuff we just hadn’t gotten around to yet (looking at you Vieux Carré, Buffalo Trace, and Doctor McGillicuddy’s Root Beer Schnapps). Plus we visited some old friends like Hendrick’s, Kraken, and Tub Gin.
We also noticed that larger distilleries tended to be more liberal pourers, as opposed to the smaller operations that cared more about – first – a proper tasting, and – second – making sure they had enough stock to last the night.
As excellent as the evening was, we were mightily disappointed by one thing. We, and many other attendees, were looking forward to the Whiskey Fest as our first opportunity to sample Wigle Whiskey’s first batch. And though Eric Meyer and company were present, they were unable to distribute the long-awaited samples. Why? Because the PLCB hadn’t approved their label. Their label. Instead Eric was distributing high-fives and rice-krispie treats that had been sneakily laced with whiskey. We are however, looking forward to Wigle’s Grand Opening on December 2nd (be sure to check back here for coverage).
In all, there was very little about this year’s Whiskey and Fine Spirits Festival that wasn’t excellent. There was tasty food (though more variety and more locations would have been nice), fantastic booze, and friendly people. In fact, we were pleased to find so many friends and acquaintances there who work in the industry. It almost makes me think we’re beginning to make a name for ourselves.
But more importantly, we made a handful of new friends and connections. In particular we think you should check out YourGrail.com
The Pousse-Café is one of the most popular layered drinks for the simple fact that there are so many variations on the recipe. Innumerable combinations of layered spirits go by the name Pousse-Café, but this is a simple, classic recipe.
1 1/2 Tbls grenadine
1 1/2 Tbls green crème de menthe
1 1/2 Tbls light rum
Pour the ingredients, in the order listed, into a Pousse-Café or other similar glass. See the article on layered drinks for technique.