Toast Tuesday: No Filter

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No Filter?!  Those who have spoken to me… ever… know I have no filter, but around here, I try to keep things kinda respectable.  Kinda, don’t be getting too excited.

Week 39 in our Year of Drinking Adventurously is actually about coffee beer.  Coffee. Beer. Come on, it’s not as bad as all that, despite what my dinner guests thought.  I’ll encourage you to reflect back on the Dublin Iced Coffee I made during the Irish Whisky week.  That was a lovely blending of Guinness and strong cold brewed coffee.

Our guide

Our guide

This week though, we are tasting the natural marriage of coffee and beer in the bottle, as it coincides with International Coffee Day on September 29th.  There really is a holiday for everything.  Our author touches on how beer and coffee have taken a similar trajectory of coolness over the last few years.  Having been in Portland for most of that time, I had front row seats for the show.

I think my first coffee beer was Rogue’s Mocha Porter, many moons ago.   I’m certain the first time I tried it, I didn’t fully appreciate the marriage.  Now, I have a whole different beef with the coffee beer… it’s a downer with an upper.

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This week, I found Southern Tier Brewing’s Mokah. I seriously thought about having this with my coco pebbles on Sunday morning, but I refrained, and broke it out for Sunday dinner with some friends.  A couple of the folks did not care for it, but I found it drinkable and would probably enjoy it better at a different time.  It really tasted like a nice rich mocha and had the essence of fresh pulled espresso.

Meg and I have both mentioned this before, but some of the weeks and their drinks do not suit the weather.  This would be another one of them.  While the weather in either Portland, Oregon or Maine is a moderate 60-70’s, here in Memphis, we are still in the 90’s.  This is not weather conducive to a heavy, dark stout.  I think I’ll revisit this one over brunch some Sunday Morning when we at least have to wear pants.

One other thing I’ll mention that I experienced this week that I find wholly inconceivable with a) the weather and b) it’s not even October… Christmas!! It is way, way, way too soon!  Where has our year gone?

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Coloring outside the lines

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As a kid I didn’t mind coloring outside the lines. I’d always make a line and try to stay in it, but it never seemed to work. Now, I’m all about lines and lanes. I want you to stay in your lane on the road. I want you to drive the right way in a parking lot and not cross sideways to take a short cut.

I like things to be just so… Since I’m not a terribly good artist, crazy sister got that gene, the whole 901Rocks! happiness scavenger hunt has been a bit of a challenge. I’m trying to embrace coloring outside the lines and know that the goal is to make someone happy and not create a Van Gogh masterpiece.

I had the girls over the other night and since then my dining table has been art central. Waking up slowly with my coffee and paint has been fun this weekend. I’m just doodling and let whatever happens happen. If I happen to go outside the lines, then it was meant to be.

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Enjoy your beautiful Sunday.

Toast Tuesday: the Senate got it right

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I completely blew off the official assignment in my Year of Drinking Adventurously.  There are a couple reasons, chief of which, I don’t care for this week’s beverage: the Michelada.  The short version is, and the only version here this week so we’d better hope Meg did her homework, a beer bloody mary.  In theory this could be good, but for me, just doesn’t work.

Our guide

Our guide

When I heard on a booze-loving podcasts that September was National Bourbon Heritage Month I immediately decided that was my homework assignment.  I discovered that in August 2007, Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky sponsored a bill that was passed by unanimous consent, a resolution designating September 2007 as “National Bourbon Heritage Month”.

For some reason, the fine folks of Kentucky missed the part where it said September 2007 is designated and their governor keeps signing a bill each year saying we still recognize National Bourbon Month.  So who am I to disagree, especially when they say things like:

  • More than a half-million visitors are making the pilgrimage to Kentucky every year to learn about the art and science behind the world’s best Bourbon
  • Bourbon is a thriving $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and $166 million in tax revenue every year.
  • Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 315 percent in the last 16 years, with 1.8 million barrels filled in 2015, the largest production year since 1974.
  • There are 6.7 million barrels of Bourbon currently aging in Kentucky warehouses, the highest inventory in 40 years with a tax-assessed value of $2.4 billion, up 135 percent in the last 10 years.

No wonder Kentucky loves their bourbon.  It’s working for them!

I celebrated National Bourbon Heritage Month with a cocktail I found in Southern Living Magazine.  Their recipe had ingredients in tablespoons and not ounces, so I don’t even feel like I’m stealing anything but the name.

Shoo-Fly Punch
2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce ginger liqueur
1/4 ounce simple syrup (or more to your taste)
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
a dash of bitters
ginger beer

Add all ingredients except ginger beer in a 16 ounce mason jar and stir.
Add crushed ice and top with a couple ounces of ginger beer.
Sit on the porch swing and savor.

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Toast Tuesday: the sorta fail

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This week is a sorta fail. Sort of because I’ve had cachaca before, and can even tell you about the first time I had it. This week in my Year of Drinking Adventurously, per my norm, I waited until the last minute and came up short.

Our guide

Our guide

I was out for happy hour last week with a friend and asked if they had cachaca. The bartender looked at me as if I had just spoken to her in Russian. Which, I have become accustomed to since I got here. So yesterday I pulled up the cocktail menu for one of my local favorites and was delighted to see they had a cachaca cocktail on the menu. I was sad when I realized they closed 30 minutes before I was going to get there. I skulked next door to their sister restaurant, which also has fabulous cocktails, but had no cachaca. Oh well. Fail.

Only sorta fail… Because I finally got my Mezcal!

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I enjoyed a lovely cocktail called Future Days. The drink called for a black pepper garnish, but since I’m allergic, I had her hold that. The bartender said it only added aromatics and wouldn’t change the flavor of the drink. I found the drink a little sweeter than I’d normally enjoy, but I asked her to add a dash of Angostura bitters when I was about halfway through, and found that gave it a better balance for my pallet.

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A wonderful way to end a Monday, even if with a fail.  I made myself feel better about my failure by having Hog & Hominy’s poutine.  I’m sorry, but the Canadians truly came up with the most perfect comfort food; french fries, gravy, and cheese curds.  Thank you o’ Canada.

Now run along and see what Meg did.  I certainly hope she saves us this week.  If not, there better be some really good embarrassing story.

Toast Tuesday: Malort

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I had some time off scheduled and when trying to figure out what to do with it, I looked at a map and my Tuesday challenge book They Year of Drinking Adventurously and decided I had time for a road trip.

Our guide

Our guide

Our author has taken us to some crazy places and had us drink some ridiculous stuff (pruno?!), but this next one was do-able.  Malort is a bitter liqueur with Swedish roots akin to absinthe.  It gets it’s name from it’s primary ingredient; wormwood is malort in Swedish.  Sweden was one of the few countries that never banned absinthe and the Swedish immigrants who came to this country brought with them this bitter liqueur.

A fellow by the name of Carl Jeppson made his living during prohibition by making alcohol for “medicinal purposes.”  By the time prohibition came to an end, the Swedish community of Chicago knew to ask for Jeppson’s Malort by name at their local tavern.

Fast forward to today.  Jeppson’s Malort is still a staple in Chicago, but have moved their production to Florida.  A few local distilleries have begun making their own versions.  I did some research in advance of my road trip and found a website that has a malort map! This made my scavenger hunt a little easier.

Via the map, I found Owen and Engine.  I went in early on a Sunday afternoon and was thankful the place was not very full.  I sat down at the bar and told the bartender, Luke, what I was up to.  He was excited when I told him I needed a cocktail, dealer’s choice.  He made me one that they were still finalizing before putting on the menu.  It was a tasty riff on a Salty Dog with lime juice, pamplemousse liqueur, house infused tarragon vodka, malort, saline, and peychauds.   Another thing Luke served me was the Malort shot, which is tiny, simplified version of my cocktail.  Also, quite good.

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Luke also let me taste Jeppson’s Malort and the local Letherbee’s Besk.  It being sunday, and I was in a rush to get to my next stop before they closed, I didn’t get a chance to get a bottle of Besk.  But it will be on my bar soon.  Both are strong bitter liqueurs, but the Besk, has a softness and wonderful finish that lasts.  Malort’s finish lasts, but you can’t wait for it to go away.  Maybe good for indigestion, but not something I can recommend on it’s own.

Luke made this week’s challenge one for history books.  So if you are reading this, Luke you are awesome!  Now run along and see what Meg did.  I’m fairly certain this week was a skip for her, so see what she came up with.

Enjoy your Tuesday, whatever you may be drinking!

Toast Tuesday: A Reflection on Stupidity

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Oh the things we drank back when we were too young and stupid to know better. I can think of a couple of ridiculous things I did and I’m sure I’ll be getting a text shortly from my old college chum saying oh you forgot that one time…

Since Meg and I both knew we’d fail in the official Year of Drinking Adventurously assignment, we decided to horrify and delight you with tales from our past. 


My 21st birthday seems so tame looking back. I moved to Oregon when I was 20 and so spent my 21st stumbling around with new college friends I’ve since lost track of. There are a couple of things I recall quite distinctly from that night. Dinner at some Mexican joint where I had to wear a ridiculous sombrero while they sang Happy Birthday and I did tequila shots. This was my first true experience with tequila and it’s amazing I found such a love for it all the years later with how badly it treated me that night. That is not the case in this next tale. 

Today I’m going to regale you with a spectacular episode. A learning experience of the highest order. Take note…. Do not EVER make Jell-O shots using everclear. I’m going to let that one sink in for a moment. (Insert some elevator music…)

Now, let me add a few more details. A) I didn’t make shots, I made a BOWL of jello. And ate most of it myself. B) Think back to Star Wars and picture Jabba the Hutt… his body double was in the fraternity I was a little sister to. I knew I was royally screwed when I walked into a room and saw TWO of him.

I’ll admit, there’s a lot of this evening I cannot recall. I have never before, or ever since, been this drunk. Though that time in DC was close, but way less humiliating. I am truly thankful that I had a good friend in the fraternity president. We become much better friends after I puked on him three times that night.

The next morning when I woke in some strange bed (that happened to be the president’s) and he was laying in a bed across the room giving me the stink eye. It was quickly determined I would not be playing in that afternoon’s volleyball game. Once it had been determined I wasn’t going to die or puke again, Mr President and another “friend” took great pleasure in playing an assortment of music to torture me. 

Just in case you are unsure of what Everclear is, it is pure grain alcohol. Essentially, the highest proof stuff you can legally buy. There’s no prettifying it, it’s high proof swill that will light your insides on fire. 

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Needless to say, I never drank everclear again and to this day I cannot eat jell-o.

Toast Tuesday: Pisco

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This week in our Year of Drinking Adventurously, week 34, we are traveling to South America, to Peru actually.  Pisco is a brandy that hails from Peru and Chile. A reminder for you, brandy is distilled from wine. How it varies most distinctly from brandy as we are accustomed, is that pisco cannot be aged on wood. This allows more flavors of the grapes to come through to the finished product. There are only eight different varietals of grapes that can be used for making pisco. Additionally, it can only be made in five different regions on the coast of Peru.

Our guide

Our guide

Our author tells us that Chile has certain standards, like Peru, but they are not as stringent, and not recognized by all countries.  I was unaware of the battle between Chile and Peru, over the origins and provenance of pisco.  Before now, I’ve only ever know of pisco as a Peruvian spirit.    Evidently, the U.S. is one that does recognize Chilean Pisco as they keep the ABV (alcohol by volume) more in line with Peru’s pisco.

The pisco I chose is from Peru.  I stood in the store for quite some time mulling over my purchase.  There were 4 different varieties within the Barsol line.  I can’t recall now what entirely drove my choice, but I wish I had picked a different one.  The one I chose, the Barsol Primero Quebranto, was in my opinion, unremarkable.  Neutral, with a hint of earthiness at the finish.  I picked up none of the hints of fruit or aromatics the distiller boasts of on their website.  In my research for cocktails, many noted how pisco, in general, can be used in place of any other spirit in any cocktail.  That being a bonus for it’s neutrality.  If I finish this bottle and get another, I will pick another one that has more flavor and character.

I made two cocktails with pisco, and while I was most familiar with the Pisco Sour, I found out there are five cocktails that are “traditional” pisco cocktails.  All of which are cocktails we are accustomed to with other spirits, but have taken on their own life with pisco.

I started with the Pisco Sour.  Combining fresh squeezed lemon (or lime) juice, pisco, and an egg white with a finish of bitters.  The egg white is what gives the drink that pretty layer of white foam.  A very easy drinking drink that went down quite easily; perfect for a summer evening.  Again, I would have liked this more with a more distinctive spirit, as this pisco just vanished in there.

 

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Next I made El Capitan, which is a bit of a riff on a Manhattan.  Again, I needed a more distinctive pisco, but found I liked this drink the more I let it sit and the flavors balanced.  I sipped on this for awhile, and liked it more and more. In lieu of a nice maraschino cherry in the Manhattan, this was finished with lemon.

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I have had enough spirits and cocktails over the years to recognize a few things.  One of which is the distinctive headache I get from alcohol.  Not a hangover per se, but certain alcohols give me a headache.  I have yet to determine what exactly the culprit is, but this was one of those.  I am not giving up on pisco, this just the one for me.  Pisco has been on my to-do list for quite some time and I was delighted to have a reason to finally give it a try.

I’m pretty sure Meg was going off book this week, so let’s see what she got up to.

Cheers to another week of drinking adventurously!

Happiness Rocks!

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I think I’ve mentioned before we have no idea how it impacts others when we show a little simple kindness in some unexpected way.  I know I have memories that I feel quite certain others would have no recollection of.

Another happiness project has been lurking in the back of my mind. This one has nothing to do with my office. As for my office, I have decided to people outside of my cube want to be miserable and dramatic and I cannot have any part of that. All I can do is go in and be as happy as I can be. So within my three walls I have surrounded myself with as much happiness as I can.

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Recently a new group in Memphis started on Facebook that was born out of a summer project to get some creative activity in their kid’s summer. It has been dubbed a creactivity. 901Rocks! is really about spreading happiness all around.  It’s like Pokemon Go, but you don’t need a smart phone. Happily painted rocks are hiding all over town. They’ve been spotted in parks, grocery stores, churches, schools and offices. You name it, they are there. Some are fancy, some are messy, but they are all born out of love and happiness.

A few years ago a friend of found one of these happiness rocks and passed it on to me. I think I was supposed to receive the message and send the rock back out for someone else to find it. I didn’t. I kept it. It’s in my kitchen where I see it every day and every day it makes me smile!  I’ve been thinking about doing this for sometime and I am delighted that this has taken off.

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I am not an artist. I wish I were, but all I have are warm, happy thoughts.  So with that, I am going to be hiding my happy little rocks all around town.

Happy hunting!