Toast Tuesday: the Senate got it right

Tags

, , , , ,

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.

29174489004_ea62d7cf07_z

Toast Tuesday: the sorta fail

Tags

, , ,

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!

29562188901_9cdbcdb528_z

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.

29562178091_386d7420d3_z

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

Tags

, , , ,

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.

28863940194_62748fa2ea_z 29199569140_5490cf39c0_z

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

Tags

, , ,

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. 

image from wikipedia

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

Toast Tuesday: Pisco

Tags

, , , ,

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.

 

28547826144_7f87c302b8_z

 

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.

28545096264_c84ac77275_z

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!

Tags

, , , , ,

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.

26648648585_afff2d8661_z

26044969333_7256810419_z

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.

28433486554_47d9e7bf59_z

29054573985_e07e74420a_z

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!

Toast Tuesday: Fruit Wine

Tags

, ,

I’ve taken some liberties with this week’s drink.  Our author has taken us on some crazy stops in this journey, like fortified wine in the heat of summer.  This week he got it in his head for us to drink blueberry wine from Maine.  One of the tiniest states in the union and some ridiculous fruit wine.  blech…. I did not go out of my way this week to try and find this random swill.

Our guide

Our guide

Instead, I went for some local swill.  In case you are unsure of my feelings on this, I am not a huge fan of fruit wines.  They tend to be overly sweet and are more akin to koolaid than a lovely table wine.  In the spirit of the endeavor, I made a point of trying some fruit wines.

I called up an eager friend who is usually like Mikey and willing to try anything.  We drove out into what felt like the middle of nowhere and found this tiny winery.  The Old Millington Winery boasts it is a boutique winery and has walls of awards to show how well they have done.  M tried the reds and one of the whites, while I tried all the fruit wines.  We shared sips and compared notes.  Neither of us were enamoured.

 

28369062974_d3863d9c92_z

 

The woman pouring tastes for us quite promptly told us she poured wine, she didn’t make it.  She certainly didn’t tell us anything about any of the wines we were tasting.  Having worked in a tasting room before, the story sells the experience and that sells the product.  She clearly missed that memo.  When I asked her about one of the reds and if that was used for the port, she half answered, then shut up again.

 

28883129692_ae39d5106a_z

 

Now days when we all walk around with cell phones in our hands taking pictures of everything, she was even snotty about me staging the bottles so I could take a picture.  Little did she know, I am a world renownd critic in my own mind and have the power of Yelp at my disposal.  As expected the fruit wines were sweet.  The blackberry was the worst and the strawberry tasted fake.  The watermelon was the suprise of the lot.  It was light and would make a nice spritzer.  I did buy a bottle and it’ll be interesting to see if I can drink more of a glass once I actually open it.  I have an event coming up that I’ll take it to and I’m certain it will get the attention it deserves.

I know Meg is also veering of course this week.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, something good I’m sure.

Have a wonderfully sweet week!

So much to do, so little focus

Tags

, , , ,

I have so many irons in different fires and so many things running through my head I’m having trouble focusing on what to do and sitting down and doing it.

To day I spent a good part of the day bathing horses and hanging out with the ladies.  It was a wonderful day and I am certain I will sleep well.  I was actually able to come home and get a few things crossed off my to-do list and it feels nice.

 

After last week’s crazy midnight bike ride, my sleep was off and I was just outta wack.  Saturday evening the restorative powers of pho (sounds like fuh) worked wonders and I got an incredible night’s sleep.

28988165535_c52bb9cfa3_z

 

I’ve been living the good life lately.  Eating a little too much, staying up too late, and not exercising as I should.  Finding the balance is tough! Especially when my walking partner is slowing down.  With her sniffing and lolling I get to take in more nature and see things I might otherwise miss.

28883168862_8906e1f4d6_z

 

I have blueberry wine, visiting distilleries, friends, and new adventures to think about.  I’m not sure I can turn my brain off long enough to find the bedroom.  I’m certainly going to try!

Toast Tuesday: a day late and a Meade short

Tags

, , ,

I feel like I am sitting down for the first time in a week.  I have had so much fun the last three days.  The best stories start with Dude I had SO much to drink… or this one time at band camp… Well, I had a couple glasses of wine, and when someone said there is a midnight bike ride coming up that we should do, I thought it sounded fun.  I actually thought it was a great idea right up until it a couple hours before.

I’m usually in bed about 9ish during the week because my alarm goes off so early.  On the weekends, I’m willing to stay up later if there is something to do, but will fall asleep if I’m just hanging on the couch.  So about the time I should have been crawling into bed, this seemed like a really bad idea.  I had committed and I went.

I was awesome, if I must say so myself.  For the gal who hasn’t ridden a bike in at least three years, I got out and rode 15 miles!  I thought my muscles would object more, but they didn’t.  Other than my bruised bum from the horrible bike seat, I felt really good the next day.  After going to bed at 3:30AM I was a bit tired and didn’t get a nap in before my friend showed up.

28794919206_597e5832a7_z

Me and 1000 of my closest friends out for a ride

28882324495_3d1b73e631_z

E is on a road trip visiting friends and family and I was delighted to have her come to Memphis.  As she said, it was nice talking to someone you didn’t have to give the back story to before you told the rest of the story.  I could just pick up in the middle of the sentence and she knew right where I was.

The first night she arrived, we had Vietnamese.  A nice low key dinner.  I had to work on Monday, so she got to sleep in, hang out on my patio, and enjoy a leisurely morning.  That’s what vacations are for.  Monday night we  had a wonderful dinner, which you saw yesterday.  The Beauty Shop is one of my favorite restaurants, ever since I went there back in 2006 after sneaking out of my niece’s Bat Mitzvah party.  I have never had a bad meal there, and while it isn’t every day fare, it does not disappoint.

So, tonight I am sitting on the couch getting the stink eye from Coe because we haven’t been for a walk.  I’m so happy to be doing nothing at this very moment, she can give me another minute.  Meg gives us a really good history of meade, so I am going to skip all of that and just tell you what I drank.  As usual, I had to do some searching to find meade in this town.  When asking for meade, I got more than one Huh?! what’s that?

I finally made it to a liquor store that had meade.  And yes, I had to buy meade in a liquor store because it is high gravity.  What is considered high gravity varies from state to state, but it generally means higher in alcohol.  I brought home two different ones and neither will see my fridge again.

img_1903-1

Sadly, it was the one I was most looking forward to that was the biggest dud.  If the guy in the store told me it was still (no carbonation), I missed that.  I like me some bubbles.  What had really sold me on this particular bottle were two things… 1) the bottle itself, a pretty blue bail bottle.  2) it had some infusion of juniper berries.  This meade has an odd after taste that just did  not work for me.  Sadly, their website kinda sucks and also left a bad taste.

The second meade was better than the first, but not by much.  I was happy to see this one has fizz, but it had a strange chemical finish that I couldn’t place at first.  After going back to the bottle after a walk with Coe, the chemical finish reminded me of artificial sweetener like aspartame.

I don’t need to get either of these meade’s again.  I have had meade in the past that I’ve enjoyed, so please do not think I don’t like meade, because I do.  Just not these two.

I’m going to pour myself into bed now, at a respectable hour and hopefully wake when my alarm goes off to start a new day and a new adventure.

Cheers!