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 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.
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.
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.
Everyone’s got a few movies or books that they go back to again and again. These don’t even have to be your favorites, just an old friend that’s worth revisiting from time to time. For me, The Spanish Apartment (L’Auberge Espagnole in French) is one of those films.
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 Diplomat is a bit of an unusual cocktail in that it’s vermouth-based. Vermouth, whether dry or sweet, is a fortified wine as opposed to a distilled spirit like gin, vodka, whiskey, etc. This gives the Diplomat a much lower alcohol content than many other cocktails, which may be a hint at its name.
3 oz dry vermouth
2 oz sweet vermouth
1 tsp maraschino liqueur
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass half filled with ice. Stir thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.
Some of our regular readers, and especially those who follow us on Facebook and Twitter, will no doubt have picked up on our poorly concealed secret project. For the past several months we’ve been putting together the very first I Prefer the Term Boozehound video episode, and we’re finally ready to share it with you. Episode 1 features a beer tasting with Shanna, mixing a Bronx cocktail with Matt, and an interview with Whiskey Daisy & Stella Can-Can from the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails.
We learned a lot making this episode, and we’ve definitely got a lot to improve on for Episode 2. But rest assured that Episode 2 is coming, and hopefully not far off.
Also, be sure to watch all the way to end for an added bonus.
May 21st, 2011 was a beautiful day. Friends and family came together in celebration of our love and commitment, yadda yadda yadda. May 21st was the day that two much loved guests placed in our care the components of what is easily the best Martini I have ever had.
Leopold Brothers is a small batch distillery located in Denver Colorado, which produces several different spirits and liqueurs. Almost all of their products have won at least one award, and Leopold’s Gin is no slacker.
Many top-shelf gins shy away from the traditional juniper flavoring (see also: Hendrick’s, Bluecoat), particularly because low quality brands will use the juniper as a crutch. This is certainly not a bad trait; Hendrick’s and Bluecoat have their own unique flavor bouquets. In contrast to this strategy though, Leopold’s Gin has cultivated a fine balance of flavors that allows the juniper to take prominence, without overpowering the citrus and floral notes that fill out the palate.
Leopold Brothers doesn’t bother distinguishing itself as a unique or exotic gin. Instead it’s just a tremendously well-made gin, and that in itself is admirable.
Dolin Dry Vermouth
Often neglected, there’s a secret about vermouth that most people don’t know: it’s actually a fortified wine. Of course it’s not really a secret, but while a bartender might spend hundreds on the best gins, vermouth is very often overlooked. Though Martini & Rossi and Tribuno are the budget standards, these tend to have a flat, tinny flavor with a salty aftertaste. Dolin is the first vermouth I’ve had that actually tastes like wine. The flavor of Dolin Dry Vermouth is rich and floral with a tremendous depth and complexity, enough to make Dolin worth sipping on its own.
In fact, Shanna and I enjoyed Dolin so much that we jumped on an opportunity to pick up a bottle of their Blanc sweet vermouth while we were visiting family in Annapolis. (They also offer a red – or Rouge – sweet vermouth.) But there’s the problem: neither Leopold Brothers nor Dolin are offered in Pennsylvania liquor stores. And since the PA Liquor Control Board by law owns and operates all retail sales of liquor and wine in the state, it’s not just a matter of finding the right hole-in-the-wall shop. There is literally no legal way to purchase any Leopold Brothers spirits in the state of Pennsylvania, and Dolin vermouths have to be special ordered.
We’ll write more about the liquor and beer laws in Pennsylvania in the future, especially in the context of the newly-proposed legislation to change those laws. But for now suffice it to say that the last drops of our bottle of Leopold’s Gin, which went into two delicious Martinis, will be sorely missed until the next time our travels take us out of state.
Not just a delightful compliment to pay to a lady, Elegant is also another wonderful cocktail invented at the Cambon Bar at the Ritz Paris. (See also the Fog Horn.) While this may seem quite similar to a Martini, the addition of Grand Marnier makes a world of difference. The Ritz Paris being the international hub that it is, the recipe is measured in a ratio of tenths so as to avoid nationally specific units of measurement.
4/10 dry vermouth
1/10 Grand Marnier
Fill a mixing glass half way with ice, add all three ingredients, and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Here at IPTB we make no secret of our partiality to a good gin. For a couple years now I’ve wanted to give Hendrick’s a try, but the almost $30 price tag for 750 ml of hooch has made me hesitant. Finally though, I could no longer resist the allure of that squat ugly bottle. Like so many others in the ancient boozehound tradition, I allowed the call of a good drink to override good sense, and from my first sip I knew I had made the right choice.
Hendrick’s refers to itself as “a gin made oddly,” and the description is apt. Hendrick’s is produced in small batches through a two-still process, which is likely what accounts for the price tag. Smaller batches means more control over the finished product, but it also means higher prices per volume. What’s really intriguing about this gin though is the flavoring. Gin is traditionally infused with juniper for its characteristic flavor. A lot of cheaper gins though will really lean on the juniper flavor to mask the low quality of their liquor. Hendrick’s actually downplays the juniper in favor of the unique combination of cucumber and rose petal infusions.
The result is a mild gin with a floral aroma. Most other gins will dominate the flavor of a drink, but Hendrick’s is a bit more reserved. Because of this, Hendrick’s is probably not the right gin for drinks with strong lemon or lime flavors like the Princeton Cocktail or the Bernardo. The Hendrick’s website does have a nice variety of cocktail suggestions, many of them created specifically to bring out the unique flavors of this odd gin. We’ll post the recipe for one of these, the Pink Victrola, later.
Of course one of the most important metrics for any gin is whether it makes a good Martini, pictured here with the Hendrick’s bottle. As you see, the Hendrick’s website suggests garnishing a Hendrick’s Martini with a slice of cucumber. Now usually I’m pretty strict on what garnish goes in my Martini, either a twist of lemon or three green olives (one olive is skimping, and two is bad luck), but Hendrick’s is so unusual already that I’m willing to bend on this one. As I noted before, this is a mild, dare I say delicate gin. Therefore you’ll want to make a Hendrick’s Martini very dry, as in Saharan.
Hendrick’s is one of those gins that reminds me why I got into amateur boozehoundery to begin with. This is a craft spirit in every sense of the word. This is a gin that substantially changes any drink that you make with it. It’s thanks to craft spirits like Hendrick’s that you can make yourself a Martini every night for a month and never have the same drink twice. And if you’re serious about quality cocktails, $30 for such an interesting and game changing liquor as Hendrick’s is well worth the investment.