Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Return Engagement In Cuba

This week we welcomed a new friend to take part in our travels through the worlds of linament, Old Spice and Worther's candies. Is was an appropriate time to go back to where it all began - Cuba!

El Presidente

The |" presidente " in this case would be Gerardo Machado, the right-wing strongman who ruled Cuba with an iron fist from 1925 to 1933. This particular drink was first concocted by an American bartender working at the Jockey Club in Havana during Prohibition. According to legend, Machado once offered one to Calvin Coolidge while the U.S. president was attending a conference in Havana. "Silent Cal" declined. The easy-sipping drink later became the house cocktail at the swank Club El Chico in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, where the high-hatted swells dubbed it "an elixir for jaded gullets."

"Always try to achieve your goals. But that's not for everyone."
- Clifford, 60, musician

1.5oz white rum
3/4oz orange curacao
3/4oz dry vermouth
Dash of grenadine

As an introductory class in drinking (Old Man-style) we couldn't have scripted a better drink. I was seeking refuge from yet another drink with gin and I have been dreaming of that night so many months ago when all this started with the Cuba Libre. It seemed a natural that we would go back to the beginning so that's what we did.

As it turns out, orange curacao isn't the easiest liqueur to source in this fine province, so I had to consult the World Wide Web to see what they'd suggest. As it turns out: orange curacao, Triple Sec and Grand Marnier are somewhat inter-changeable. Given the choice, try to substitute Triple Sec if possible because its got a more pure orange flavour and will more accurately replicate the taste that you're going for.

We cracked the bottles open and got with the drinking as we got to know one another. It was nice to have someone new come out and play and change up the dynamic a little. Also, having a 4th to play rock band with us didn't hurt either. Maybe it was the bottle of rum that we polished off or maybe it was the Rilo Kelly:

but I've got a new appreciation for rum! You've gotta be careful not to be over-zealous with the grenadine: a little goes a LONG way. But to be honest the vermouth was largely tamed and everything came together really well and the drink became much more than the sum of its parts.

If you're looking for a real nice Saturday night, I'd suggest inviting a few of your best friends over, serve some El Presidente's and let fun happen! This drink gets 4 breasts out of 2 red-heads.. and if that's wrong, I don't want to be right! Until next time dear friends...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What's In A Name?

What do you do when you open the door to your liquor cabinet and all you can find among the empty bottles with yellow stickies in your handwriting that all say "I'm Sorry" on them? That was our challenge this week. Among the wreckage and 'dead soldiers' we did manage to cobble together some gin and a little bit of absinthe - but surely that wouldn't be useful for our pilgrimage through Old Man Drink-town could it?!

Monkey Gland

Not since the ill-fated experiment with  Harvey Wallbanger has the name of a cocktail so taunted us, dear friends. But when you consider the ingredients I suppose we should have been able to guess what was coming.

They say that W.B. Yeats had monkey glands implanted in his scrotum when he was an old man, to help restore his sexual potency. That revolutionary procedure, which was all the rage in the 1920s, provided the inspiration for this cocktail, first mixed up by Harry MacElhone, owner of Harry's New York Bar in Paris. The Washington Post pronounced it as the smash hit of the 1923 French tourist season, and it was later adjudged to be one of the quintessential cocktails of the Prohibition era. No representations are made or implied regarding this drink's - ahem - rejuvenating - powers, though it is a fact that Yeats got his groove back soon after undergoing the procedure.

"Jeanie is the perfect wife. She cooks, cleans, mends, socializes. One of these days she's gonna melt down, and I hope I'm out of town that day."
- Max, 66, salesman

Well put Max, well put.

2oz gin
1oz orange juice
Dash grenadine
Dash absinthe

If men in the 1920's were relying on surgically-grafted monkey test-i-cles for sexual potency I think the bad rep that the 'little blue pill' gets can just simmer down. I appreciate that for the artists out there you might need something a little off the beaten path, some Valerian root or oysters perchance, but having the balls (pun intended) for undergoing surgery in the days of cholera to stuff a few extra marbles in your skin pouch is way too hardcore for me.

I actually had some lofty expectations for this drink based on the Obituary where the absinthe was able to keep the gin-wretches (commonly called the Gretch's) at bay. And also... orange juice! I love some ice in my OJ and I'm careful not to stab at it with any knives for that would be VERY insensitve. At least not without some gloves and my Bruno Magli's.

White Bronco? Anyone? Al Cowlings?

I digress. As far as the gin drinks goes, I'd put it somewhere at the higher end of the spectrum but that really doesn't say much. There are few positives I can offer for this one - it doesn't even sound cool and your date will likely be running for the exit on her first opportunity when she learns that you'd like to sip of the Monkey Gland. And if she doesn't - YOU should be the one running for the door!! Lets just give this drink 2 gloves that don't fit out of an animatronic monkey that beats cymbals together. Yeah, cause there's nothing creepy about that at all....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Posh Pub-Crawl

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine and he mentioned that his boyfriend's brother was moving here from the UK and us hetero's should hang out and do some girl-watching. Now I\m a guy that doesn't mind knocking back a drink or 2 and admiring the female form so I took out the brother on a mini pub-crawl to familiarize himself a few of the downtown Vancouver hot spots and check out some lovely ladies along the way.

Scotch And Soda

Here's one you can write the recipe for on the back of your hand. On second thought, bugger the recipe. It's Scotch... and soda. What part of Scotch and soda don't you understand? For a Scotch and water, substitute water for the soda. See how easy it is? This is a good one to make at the end of a long evening of drinking because there's really very little even an intoxicated person could do to screw it up.

"Scotch goes well with everything, especially marriage."
- Gary, 65, retired marketing manager

3oz Scotch
3oz club soda
lime twist

For our 'Welcome to Vancouver' bar, I brought him to a place called the Yaletown Brew Pub. It's a nice little place to have a bite to eat, and it also has a separate bar/lounge for optimal people watching. By the time we got there (pre-10pm) the bar was fully packed and there was a DJ spinning some tunes. We got a few drinks and made our way to the patio, so we could admire the people (read: pretty girls) walking by as well as the ones in the bar. Truth be told it was a little too packed and we moved on to another downtown staple: Doulin's Irish Pub.

If you've never been to Doulin's let me spell it out: short, plaid skirts. We got there sometime after 11 and there was no line-up at all (really odd for a Saturday night), and we quickly learned why: the entire population of Vancouver was already inside! I'd say it was packed wall to wall, but it was more like floor to ceiling; we got through the front door and hit a wall of humanity so thick that this former football player was at a loss to get to the bar. We managed to ride the wake of one of the waitresses by the bar and I scooped us up a few more drinks and in the words of Fmr President George W. Bush, "Mission: Accomplished". Oh right, but now we were stuck in the ebb and flow of the humanity as it swayed and shifted with each pass of a waitress. We were lucky enough to grab a table, but to be honest it was WAY too packed for our purposes and we moved on.

Now, if you're from Vancouver you may have heard of the final stop on our tour but even then it's highly unlikely. The Famous Warehouse (formerly El Furniture Warehouse) on the north-west corner of Nelson and Granville has long been one of those hidden gems in the downtown bar scene. We arrived just at the stroke of midnight and were greeted by a very friendly member of the staff that got the Host to round us up a few seats. An interesting note about this place is that there's no standing allowed, you mush have a seat or you're not allowed in, which REALLY helps with the laid-back and friendly atmosphere and lets the bar-staff get around quickly to deliver everyone drinks/food. We took our seats at the bar and were immediately greeted by George Harrison. The drinks flowed once more and if I might say, I *love* this bar! We were flanked on either side by really friendly couples and passed the time by playing a game where I would test my musical knowledge against their Shazam which each new song/video that came on the tv. I was only bested by one:

Oh yeah.. there was a drink here wasn't there? I'm no stranger to some Scotch (went to the annual Hopscotch Festival in November) and I like mine single-malted and preferably 20 years old ;) Is that a euphamism? Who can say... Now since I was mixing it there was no need to break the bank, so I went with a pretty stock Glenfiddich 10-year. It was an evening of drinking Strongbow ciders and this was the prefect way to finish off the evening. It's smooth, has some bubbles which pop on your tongue and instantly puts me in a relaxed, content state of mind. Also, it goes really well with a $5 burger at 1am! Seriously, the kitchen is still open and serving a full menu at 1am.. this place is magical! In a review that harkons back to the history of the bar, I give the Scotch and Soda 5 ottomans out of a chaise-lounge. Soft, relaxing and suave. Magnifique!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Ain't Your Grandmother's Dragon You're Chasing....

Hey, Buddy.
C'mover here I wanna talk to you.
What do you know about Absinthe?


Old men spend a lot of time reading the obituaries. So why not drink a few while you scour the agate for the names of your old friends? This cocktail turns the Martini on its head with the addition of absinthe, which, if you were taking an extended whiz in 2007 and didn't hear the news, is now legal again in the United States. Back in the day, people claimed that absinthe could cure malaria, give you seizures, and make you see things that weren't there. All it ever did for me was turn my drinks green and make everything taste like licorice.

"If I had a nickel for every pretty girl I bought a drink, well, I'd still be far behind."
- Neil, 67, labourer

2oz gin
1/4oz dry vermouth
1/4oz absinthe

I remember a few years back a friend of mine had offered to order some special party favours from the Chech Republic when I was flying east for a friends wedding. Now I'm not going to say if the package did indeed make it's way through customs but I will say this: The bachelor party ended before 11pm. And by 'ended' I mean some people were in a heap of blood and their own vomit in a Keg bathroom while the bus-boy was offering to have his dinner brought to him in the stall. Estimated time: 6:45pm.

We did switch it up a little bit with one of 'the usual suspects' out of town on assignment, and we had a special guest in her place. We got ourselves settled and cracked open the bottles and initiated one more into the fold. On first impression we have finally found something that has been able to overtake the pungent-nose of gin. If you've ever smelled Anise (or more common, your mother's black licorice) you have a good starting place for absinthe.

I can't quite explain it.. by all rights this drink should have put us all straight into the madhouse, or at least in line for a stomach-pump. But no, it was.. dare I say... delicious? Maybe it was the teal-tinge of the drink, maybe it was the fact we finally found SOMETHING that would stand-up to this bully known as gin, or maybe it was the tall, raven-haired beauty that spoke in an eastern-block accent to me from the shadows all night; who can say? We three travelers gathered our collective shit and sat down for game-time. This week's offering actually had nothing at all to do with rawk poses or electronic key-tars; no this week we went Geek-Old-School with a role-playing game called Fiasco. Our particular story surrounded 3 strangers woven together through strange rituals, a shared calling, and a NEED ... for a drinking buddy. Oh yeah, and a dragon.

When I came to at 3 in the morning, I realized that tonight was not altogether different from that Keg bathroom. Where am I? How did I get here? and What is that taste? And what's more - a solid sense that on this night, the gin was vanquished! For that alone, I give the Obituary 5 slotted spoons over an open flame. Next time you're browsing through the classifieds and find yourself in the obituary section of the paper, you raise your glass to those fine men and women that have passed. One of them just may have thrown themselves in front of a subway train to escape an absinthe-fueled apparition.

Bottom's Up!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Voyage To The Emerald Isle (Again?)

Just because St Patrick's Day has passed us by doesn't mean that the Irish drinks have ended. For a people world renown for their drinking you had to know that any Old Man worth their salt would pay homage to them in the way they would want to be remembered - with a drink named after them!

Paddy Cocktail

I don't want to bury the lead here - so lets just get right into it.

Also known as an Irish Manhattan, this drink has a politically incorrect name but a more authentic heritage than such kitschy St. Patrick's Day cocktails as the O'Jito and the Emerald. In this case, the "Paddy" element is added by substituting Irish whiskey for bourbon. Otherwise, the proportions are exactly the same as the Manhattan. It's one in a class of ethnically insensitive riffs on classic drinks that includes the Paisley Martini and the Bobby Burns.

"I drank so much, I was sober. Then I had a few more."
- Leo, 88, retired military

That's right, it wasn't a typo - Irish Manhattan. 'Drink' that in. To say that I approached this drink with some trepidation ... would be an understatement! If you recall the conventional Manhattan - it was too sweet and generally just pretty average; but with the change from bourbon to Irish whiskey I thought that might just do the trick for it (that changing the vermouth did not).

The first sip was like looking into the eye of a storm - The Perfect Storm. Without George Clooney. And whiskey. It was actually pretty good - I wouldn't say really good, but it wasn't half bad! Once again our night hit the similar notes: drinks with a bite to eat from Dougie Dog, Rock Band 2 on the XBox, and much laughter. I'm glad drinking Old Man Drinks hasn't prematurely led me to things like searching Wal-Mart for deals, watching Nascar, and bemoaning about how kids were so much more respectful when I was young. (I complained about self-centered kids before I started this blog)!

Returning to the Irish roots of this beverage, what say we give it a Nil - Nil draw? Noone gets hurt, noone advances up the Table and noone is sent to relegation. Also this way we don't have any Celtic vs Rangers hooliganism. Always gotta try and stay safe people - keep those flares outta the stands!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Top O' Tha Mornin' To Ya

A late follow-up to the last post thanks to a rather busy holiday season but better late than never, right?! It was time for yet another Sunday morning get-together to take in the annual St Patrick's Day parade from the relative safety of a second-floor condo. I say relative because there's no telling what a drunken suburbanite is capable of - I always try to conceal my brains just in case all the excitement proves too much for them and a zombie outbreak occurs.

Irish Coffee

Could there be any other beverage for St Patrick's Day than this? Alright perhaps a Guinness drank out of a potato, but beyond that I mean...

It was a cold winter's eve in 1942, and a group of American airline passengers found themselves stranded at Foyne's Airbase in Limerick, Ireland, due to bad weather. (Is there any other kind in Ireland?) Enter Joe Sheridan, a chef in a restaurant in the terminal building, who invented this ingenious libation on the spot as a means of comforting the tired and cranky travelers. When one guest asked Sheridan if he was serving them Brazilian coffee, the chef replied, "No, that's Irish coffee." And another chapter in Ireland's rich history of drink was written.

"Can you help me write a text message to my wife? She's very upset with me and I don't deal well with cell phones."
- Gary, 68, retired bus driver

Well this is how you know he's a *retired* bus driver - any driver worth his salt can drive, text, and sip an Irish coffee at the same time. Errrr... ingredients you ask? Lets have a look before anyone notices what I just said!

1 cup hot brewed coffee
1oz Irish whiskey
1tbs whipped cream
Sugar, to taste

I feel as if every time I talk about a beverage I have to come clean about some deep seeded bias against the main ingredient (read: gin) and this week is no different. This week will come as something as a shock to you, loyal readers, as I've never been a fan of coffee. I can't say exactly why but growing up I gravitated to a hot cup of tea (or cocoa) and just never developed a taste for a french-pressed delight. The only coffee I remember drinking was back in my final year of high school where in homeroom we'd have a pancake breakfast every month and a good friend of mine thought it would be a good idea to put some Bailey's in his coffee and I helped myself to some after a successful taste-test.

I may have to re-examine this whole coffee thing cause I was OVERJOYED by the drink this week. Right up there with the Hot Toddy and the infamous Cuba Libre, the Irish Coffee knocked my socks off. A healthy dose of Irish whiskey and the WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSH of the whipped cream can and you're off. This had me grinning from ear-to-ear for hours; maybe that's why we forgot all about watching the parade, or maybe it was the Danny Bhoy line dancing through my head: fiddle-dee-dee-potato!

Ratings Time: NomNomNomNomNomNom out of More Please! I was struck with overwhelming deliciosity. Thank you sir, may I have another? I think I will just help myself to another ... how could you say no to this face?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Et tu, Brute?

I got a late invite to a St Patrick's Day fundraiser with some friends that supported a downtown-east side women's shelter (Link) where we were treated to a wonderful 3-course meal, some fantastic new friends and Irish folks songs sung loudly and out of key by inebriated lads. A great time was had by all and for such a great cause.

The following morning we re-convened half-a-block from the scene of the fundraiser at this fantastic little diner for some biscuits n' gravy and some hash & eggs. And now it was time for me to try my hand for a Canadian morning-after staple.

Bloody Caesar (Formerly Bloody Mary)

There are almost as many suggested recipes as there are origin stories for this Sunday-brunch staple and traditional hongover cure, which may (or may not) have first been concocted by Fernand Petiot, a bartender at Harry's Bar in Paris, in the 1920s, or by entertainer George Jessel in the late 1930s. Add-ins may (or may not) include horseradish, olives, celery, beef boullion, cayenne pepper, and various cold cuts used as garnish. One thing is (almost) certain: The gory cocktail was named after Mary Tudor, the queen of England. Or maybe it was Mary Pickford, the movie star. Or some woman in Chicago. Ahhh, forget it. Just make me one, STAT, so I can get rid of this damned headache. 

"Walking away is a woman's right. And then it's a man's right to watch her do it!"
- Andrew, 64, recruiter

2oz vodka
6oz Clamato juice
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce
Pinch of salt & pepper
1/2oz fresh lemon juice
Green bean

ANOTHER DAMN RIMMED GLASS! Ok so after I juiced my lime into the beverage I used the rind to de-rim the glass just in the off-chance that I'd mistakenly think of trying a mouthful of celery salt. This drink had a bigger kick than I was expecting, but not in the way you might think. This drink was a cold, tomato-y, and shocking like a spicy punch in the groin.

It wasn't altogether pleasant but nor was it the worst thing I've ever drank. I was however very thankful for the tall glass of water and the fact the food came pretty quickly and I had a tasty breakkie to use as a chaser (when required). The food was VERY tasty and we followed it up with a movie to check out Red Riding Hood. Seemed to be one of those days where everything was fine, but not memorable. This drink gets 3 chili's in a Hood. Almost like a man in a boat....

If you'll forgive me I do have a personal note for this week. I learned a few days ago that a friend of mine that I lost touch with passed away last week. Although we hadn't spoken in close to 5 years we had shared some really great times in the years we knew each other and I just wanted to put that out to the universe.

Hope you're catching sweet waves wherever you are Macker - Miss you brah.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Only In My Dreams

Before I get to far into this weeks' drink, I've been meaning to spotlight a video clip that was sent my way of a few mature men of leisure passing the time in their golden years. I didn't feel that it quite went with last weeks recount of drunken-buffoonery however for this week... well it's just par for the course!

Without further ado I present to you:


They do a lot of strange things in San Francisco. One odd practice is putting onions in their martinis, which they've been doing since the late nineteenth century. Named after the man who first ordered it -- Bay Area barfly Walter D.K. Gibson (who believed that eating onions would fend off colds) -- this halitosis-inducing cocktail has long been erroneously associated with the great Life magazine illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, who had nothing to do with its invention (and no theories about onions to speak of).

"I can drink whatever I like tonight as long as tomorrow I eat chicken soup."
- Ari, 71, lawyer

2oz chilled gin
3/4oz chilled dry vermouth
1 small pearl cocktail onion

I felt it was time to have a more.. what's the word... subdued, calm, anti-birthday evening and this would be a perfect time to knock off one of the drinks that I've been dreading. I wouldn't quite say it was penance for last weeks insanity but karma has a funny way of sneaking up on a person.

If at all possible (and you can appreciate the irony) try to put on some Debbie Gibson while you're mixing up this drink. I myself prefer Electric Youth but feel free to sample whichever of her numerous hits is your favourite.

Yeah that's pretty much the best I have for you this week. In actuality I was only able to choke one of these drinks down and it took me the better part of three hours to accomplish. The first sip was by far the best so if I could make a suggestion while chilling the gin & vermouth in the freezer I might suggest going for a 3 hour drive for some take out, or possibly heading off to Denver for the weekend and by the time you return the alcohol will be frozen and you'll be able to move on to a better drink. Like, say, battery acid? Just an idea...

I passed the night watching some killer kung-fu (Ip Man) with my good friend and our canines and it was a great time. The drink itself did less than  nothing to help the evening and I'm beginning to think about grading these drinks on some kind of curve. If you saw your friends dying face-down in the muck as you prayed to your deity of choice to save you from this awesome horror I could imagine that anything which numbed the pain might seem tasty. To that end I give this drink a 21-gun salute on the shores of Juno Beach.

Be well everyone. Until next week...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Birthday Drinking Part 2: The Haunting

In a loose continuation of birthday celebrations for Yours Truly, I made plans to get together with a group of close friends to drink some alcohol, shake our booty's and effort to ring in this next year of my life in style. Which we did - in a manner of speaking.

Dry Mahoney

Part 1 of the evening took place at my friend's house where we met up to store my vehicle and my pet Labrador for the evening as we primed for the evening in advance of heading off to rendez-vous with my regular team of drinkers to take part in this weeks Old Man Drink.

Bored with the same old gin and vodkda martini's? Swap in some Kentucky whiskey and you've got yourself a Dry Mahoney, the perfect capper to a day spent overseeing your plantation. Relax in the wood-paneled splendor of your local gentleman's club and drift away...

I wish my old mother were here today. Oh wait, no I don't! Not today anyway! [Laughs, pauses, makes sign of cross] Ah, and right - sorry then, Mum. Didn't mean it. Honest."
- Robert, 81, Sailor

2-1/2oz bourbon
1/2oz dry vermouth
Lemon Twist

I'd just like to say, if this drink is like overseeing your plantation than now might be a good time for reparations or more specifically they should be focused towards my pal who offered me a place to crash for the night! I've never been a huge fan of Martini's, having only had one or two through the years - I had always assumed it was the olive but now I've got to re-think that. Pretty sure its the vermouth. YUCK. Its got a signature aroma somewhere between 'hospital' and 'sweat'. Thankfully the bourbon outnumbered it 5-to-1 so that at least gave me a fighting chance. Three drinks later it still didn't taste any better but I was into Full Party mode (thanks in small part to the 3 bottles of cider that preceded them).

Fast-forward 4 hours into the future and the carnage left in my wake looked like something out of 3 Mile Island.
  • Instigating a fight with random girl in line at the club for saying she was from Hamilton; Check.
  • 'Claiming' the beverage of one of my friends and guzzling it down once caught; Check.
  • Ejecting myself from the bar for excessive drunkenness only to realize 3 blocks later that the friend I was staying with was still on the dancefloor prompting this gem of a text message sequence:
    • Friend: Text me, dancing downstairs by pillar
    • Me: Little drunk outside. @ 7--1. Dunsmuir & Seymour south side (nice to know my internal compass is still spot on when I'm blind drunk)
    • Friend: R u done. shall we meet you outside?
    • (15mins later)
    • Friend: Have you got T's coat?
    • Me: No I have my coat.
    • Friend: Ok we're coming out now 2 meet u, stay by door :-)
  • Once outside I was badgering one of my friends for about an hour on some ridiculous tirade until she fell and twisted her ankle then went home.
  • I fell 3 times on the way to my friends including wrapping myself around a knee-high chain fence and face-planting into the snow.
  • Got back to my buddy's place and was poured into bed only to emerge 20mins later with my shirt pulled up to my neck, hand over my mouth and failing to hold back the contents on my way to the rest room. (I will give the 2 dogs a big assist on helping to clean-up. That's all I think I need to say here.)
A night out with me is fun no? As has been said to me MANY times - whiskey makes for an ANGRY drunk. Luckily I have the most amazing, understanding friends in the world but let me warn all of you out there.. Dry Mahoney? Pass on this one!! Final Grade: 3 Energy drinks and 1 Redheaded Slut too many. Game forfeited on account of idiocy.

In a wacky twist of fate I'm thinking the next drink on the docket should have both gin AND vermouth. That sounds like it couldn't possibly go wrong...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me.....

It was time to pull another year off the calendar for your humble host and this year I decided to stay in town and head out for dinner at a nice restaurant with some close friends and family. We did break from tradition somewhat as the volume wasn't conducive to a reading from the Good Book so this entry will be everyone's first chance to learn a little bit about the evening's beverage.

Salty Dog

What self-respecting old man doesn't keep a carton of grapefruit juice in his refrigerator? This refreshing drink, made with simple ingredients that everyone has on hand, is a great alternative to the screwdriver, especially in warmer climes. It may have originated in Texas. In fact, a July 1947 edition of the Bowerville Herald sings the praises of the Salty Dog for its replenishing power, claiming that it "replaces salt sweated out in torrid Texas summers." Think of it as Gatorade with benefits. If salting the rim is too much trouble, skip that step and you've got yourself a Greyhound.

"I would sit in the bar for hours, brooding. Once, a guy walked up to me and said something I didn't like. I looked up, and something in my eyes made him back away, while the bartender was reaching for a baseball bat."
- Roy, 66, Mechanic

2oz vodka
3oz grapefruit juice

To be honest I ordered a vodka/grapefruit with a salted glass and my sister-in-law was quick to point out that I needed to order a Salty Dog by name, so I acquiesced so I can't be sure if the bartender snuck some extra salt into the drink. Upon my first taste it was actually pretty good; refreshing and fresh and delicious. But I've never had a pleasurable rim-job *cough*. Errrr that is to say.. I've never enjoyed a rimmed cocktail. I have in the past been seduced by a red-head named Mary (or Caesar) with a celery salted rim and every time I kick myself for tasting it. This, was no different. I can't say what the full 1" high of kosher salt is supposed to do to help this drink and granted I wasn't in Texas and nor was it north of the freezing mark outside, but once I took a big lickery kiss on the outside of the glass my love affair with this drink turned into a Fatal Attraction. I pushed on in hopes a second Dog would rekindle our flickering flame but it was not to be. I will give them this (whomever named this drink) there sure was some truth in advertising! Salty... yeah you ain't kidding!

The balance of the meal was spent cleansing/scorching my palate with some dry cider to wash the salt away and we were treated to some excellent cuisine and great times with better people. In stark contrast half of the guests were debating and discussing the phenomena known as 'The Singularity' where sentient machines will surpass humans (I believe the date was set at 2049 so don't worry about making any long-term plans for your kids) while the other half of the table was reliving 80s professional wrestling. It is with this that I give you... The Ultimate Warrior. Enjoy.

Oh... you're still here? I guess I never did rate the drink yet did I, well how about 3 birthday candles out of Dill-mydia. What's Dill-mydia you ask? That's a whole nother story.....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Start Spreadin' Tha News

As we move back into our regular schedule of evening drinks by the hot-dog cooker, I felt it was time to take a trip. Last year for my birthday I felt a little overwhelmed with the Olympics (among other things) and decided to take a leave of absence from here and head south to the warm confines of San Diego. This year I'm in a New York state of mind.....


It was actually a 2-part trip, as my friends' dad makes a mean 'So-Co Mon' (which is a Manhattan made with Southern Comfort). We were all down in Florida last Christmas and drank them every night. If only I had a picture of  Allan's mustache - I'm sure I could've found a way to get him in this book! I dedicate this weeks drink to Allan, Minnesota cool and Miami hot.

Take a trip back to the Gilded Age with this classic cocktail, which was reportedly invented in 1874 at New York's Manhattan Club at a reception in honour of Governor William Tilden. Winston Churchill's mother was one of the first people to drink one, and it was the cocktail of choice for Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, so you know it's as old school as it gets. For a more authentic nineteenth-century experience, substitute rye for the bourbon. That's the way Diamond Jim Brady would have had it.

"You should have seen me back in the day, kid. I was a real terror. The ladies loved me and the men were afraid of me. A real terror"
- Arnie, 75, "businessman"

2oz bourbon
1oz sweet vermouth
Dash Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry

Still not ready to get back into the gin I figured that a little bourbon would do me right. When my pop goes on his annual pilgrimage down to Florida in the R.V. his drink of choice down there is a Jim & cola. It's in my jeans right?

Yeah not so much. I mean it was fine, but it was also unspectacular in every way. At one point we experimented with using a red vermouth instead of the white but that was more sweet if anything. Adding a sweet vermouth to a sweet bourbon and cherry with just the bitters to balance it seems like a rookie mistake to me - or at least it doesn't jive too well for my palate. I like a drink that's balanced, has a good up-front kick from the alcohol and finishes smooth.

To be fair this one snuck up on me a little bit. By drink #4 I was rocking out to some Bang Camero on Rock Band (as one is known to do) and I recognized that familiar act of one slowly losing his grip on sobriety: rock kicks, playing the guitar like a ray-gun, various tongue gymnastics.. and so on. I guess after everything is said and done this drink wasn't half-bad. Something you can feel comfortable ordering in a posh restaurant so you look cultured while you're trying to work your way into a socialite's drawers. I have said too much!

Now for the grade part of the program: I like Manhattan's, I give them a 42 but I can't dance to it (honorable mention to John Keating for that one).

Stay tuned my dear friends as drinks will be coming fast & furious (with a Vancouver Drift) this week as birthday celebrations are upon us. Which drink will receive the coveted slot of 'Birthday Dinner Beverage'? Stay tuned....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Afternoon Delight!

After 2 straight weeks of 'the gin', I felt it was time for a change. So desperate was I to change up the bad mojo that we not only switched out the gin for a different alcohol; we also changed the time of day - opting for an mid-afternoon tasting instead of our usual 'evening affair'. 

Hot Toddy 

Every week I get together with 2 of my very best friends and together we all partake in the Drink of the Week. Recently these friends came down with some super-bug on the level of H1N1, Ebola, or Mad Cow disease and as I flipped though the Bible of Beverages I came upon quite possibly the most storied of cure-all remedies. As my effort to help with their healing processes I arrived with ingredients in-hand to kick-start their immune systems like a Mack truck! Poor sick puppies.

A piping hot mug of this stuff will cure what ails you. In fact, the hot toddy has long been considered a cracker-jack cold and flu remedy - despite the American Medical Association's recommendations to the contrary. But hey, what do those doctors know? I know that when I drink this on a cold winter's night, I feel better immediately. Besides, if alcohol didn't have some health benefit, they wouldn't put it in cough medicine, right? Feel free to swap in your preferred whiskey for the rum. Cloves, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg are all traditional add-ins as well. Oh, and the name toddy apparently derives from the sap of an Asian palm tree. But that's a whole other story...

"That guy Spock was an idiot. My kids turned out okay because my wife and me raised 'em like we were raised."
- Ron, 72, retired teacher

1oz rum
1oz lemon juice
1oz honey
boiling water
Cinnamon stick

In a word.. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. THAT'S what I'm talking about! Little rum, little lemon, little honey - this is just what Dr. Maurice prescribes. Now take 5 of these, and spend an afternoon watching John Hughes classic's like Sixteen Candles and Weird Science.

As far as drinks go, this was a dream. It was smooth, and you get the warm body glow from a hot drink combined with the rum. Unlike last weeks Gin Sour all the ingredients came together perfectly and the notes all complimented each other instead of fighting to over-power you. I can't say for certain that the healing properties of the drink were confirmed (as of this writing my friends are JUST now becoming upright and able to perform normal human functions) but hey, it didn't hurt!

I think 5 or 6 drinks into my afternoon after being snuggled up on a couch watching movies, someone (with a striking resemblance to yours-truly) got the great idea to watch some stand-up comedy to round out the evening and lord if that wasn't one of the best idea's I've ever had! After nearly an hour of struggling to breathe between laughing fits and wiping away tears of joy it was time to put an end to the day.

As far as this drink goes: a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts in a juicer. Using a natural rememdy as a cloak for this naughty-little-pleasure is enough of an excuse for me. I think a weekly Hot Toddy might just make sure I never get sick again - and even if I do I won't care that much.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Groundhog Day? Again?!

Oh dear friends, the things that I do in your loyal service. I think that after this weeks beverage I may need to regroup and really reconsider what we're doing here. As it turns out Mr. Collins (formerly known as 'Tom') has proven himself unwilling to leave and we've had to have a restraining order put out on him. It's not pretty but here's the story....

Gin Sour

So yeah this may have been named the Gin Sour, but I present to you "Tim Collins", the bastard brother of sophisticated Tom.

Popular in the 1940's, gin sours went out of fashion along with the Edsel, the poodle skirt, and the Truman administration. But just like Give 'Em Hell Harry, this one is primed for a comeback. For authentic Prohibition-era flavor, use bathtub gin instead of that fancy bottled stuff.

"Remember [Massachusetts] Governor Bill Weld? If you could go out drinking until late and still make it into work the next day, you were okay in his book. Same with me."
- Leo, 75, retired banker

2oz gin
1oz lemon juice
1/2tsp superfine sugar
Maraschino cherry

I know what you're thinking, "Maurice, you already reviewed this drink last week. We know because we drank it along with you and my what good times we had. And you have such a hawt rockin' body.. " and so on. It's ok, that's all normal (especially the rockin' body part)! There is however one ingredient missing and as it turns out a VERY key ingredient! As we sat down to put this drink together I have to sheepishly admit that I was a little bit over-confident that this weeks entry was going to be something of a cake-walk. I mean it's only missing a little club soda, right?!

Yeah so here's the thing: club soda, it's a magic ingredient. I can only assume why the absence of those little fizzy bubbles ruined EVERYTHING - something to do with the club soda keeping the sugar from settling at the bottom of the glass or something-something, but the truth is I have no idea. I know this: this Gin Sour is appropriately named. It was akin to sucking a lemon and punching yourself in the face. Upon my first sip I exclaimed, "Oh My God, it's like I kicked in the face by a mule". Every further sip induced the following face:

I did my best, I soldiered on as much as I could and even poured myself a second glass of this vile prank but I couldn't muster any more. Mercifully I got to the bottom of the second glass and I noticed that there was a build-up of sugar that never dissolved and assimilated into the rest of the drink. I think the sugar KNEW how revolting this drink was going to be anyway and abstained from the normal laws of chemistry to avoid being grouped together with this abomination. As you might have gathered by now.... I was not a fan of this drink. So much so that by 9pm my evening of drinking had ended and I was relegated to water for the duration of the night.

Final review time. I think there's not too much more that I can say so here's the skinny: this drink gets 1 donkey-punch in a prison shower. And may I never drink anymore gin as long as I live..

Oh wait. there's still another 20-something gin drinks left in this book. Its time to build a bigger basket!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Friends, This Is Tom; Tom, Friends

Thanks for coming by for Week 3 of 'Drinking With Dan'. I hope you all enjoyed meeting my friend Harvey last week, I know he can get a bit rowdy but who doesn't like a little excitement now and again? I thought I'd introduce you to a more laid-back friend this week, some a little more.... sophisticated.

Tom Collins

Awwwww yeah, now THAT'S sophisticated!

This is another one of those old, old drinks with a murky pedigree that even cocktail historians have had a hard time keeping straight. If your were alive in 1874 and someone asked you if you'd seen Tom Collins, then you were about to become the victim of a strange and Byzantine practical joke - the Pink'd of its day - known as the Great Tom Collins Hoax. That may have inspired the name of this cocktail, which just as plausibly could have come from a mash-up of John Collins - a London head-waiter who had a popular gin punch named after him - and Old Tom, the brand of sweet gin originally used to make this drink. Who really knows for sure? All we do know is the Tom Collins was all the rage in the 1870s and should be consumed, in the words of noted epicure David Embury, author of The Fine Art of Making Drinks, "slowly, with reverence and meditation."

From the Book of Fred, 90, Retired janitor,
"I never had a threesom, but it's bound to happen soon."
Hallelujah, Praise be to Fred.

2oz gin
1oz lemon juice
1tsp superfine sugar (berry sugar)
3oz club soda
Maraschino cherry

Whoh, whoh, whoh. Gin? Already? Couldn't we have drawn this out for a few more weeks before we had to dive into the *wretch* gin? Alright so if it's time lets ease into it with a nice, classic beverage and a diluted gin taste.

The first thing to accomplish was picking up a cocktail shaker. Four stores later we had our shaker finally and we were able to pick up the ingredients and get home for some dinner and a little Weeds. After touching base with our Denver correspondent Nathan (a former bartender and current cool-cat) that gin was finally on the menu his initial guess was Gin Rickey's (which will be coming up later in the book). Then is was time for a little shake-shake-shake, shake-shake-shake, shake your booty!

So you throw the gin & juice into a shaker with ice and the sugar and give it a toss, pour it over ice in a tall glass and you add some club soda & top it with a cherry. It has a pretty clean taste initially, the tartness of the lemon and gin is offset by the sugar and the club soda gives it a little pop as it rolls over your tongue. A point of fact: the reason for using berry sugar is that it can be dissolved in cold water so don't try to cheap-out and put whatever you've got in there as a substitute. Do the right thing, get the right stuff,  you deserve it! The key for drinking Tom Collins is understand that this is NOT a drink that you'll be getting bombed with, not if you have any plans the following day. It packs a huge punch and its a smooth, sipping drink moreso than something you guzzle. I will point out that towards the end of the evening (sometime between 2am and 3am) when all the ice in my glass had melted and the remnants were pooled in a puddle at the bottom of the glass I gave it one last swig and tasted what I'm sure my grandmother's socks must taste like. That's the gin for ya; just when you think you made it out on a good note....

Final Thoughts: Pretty good opening salvo into the Gin part of our programme (which is quite extensive), it was a nice transition while at the same time firing a few shots across the bow of what the Gin may have in store in the future. By the way, I am no more at ease now having finally tasted gin about the abomination that will come from Gin & Milk. I'm going to have to psyche myself up for that at least 2 days leading up to it. For a rating of the Tom Collins, I give it 3 fedora's out of a Frank Sinatra lounge act. Impressed, but also respectful of the fury it could cause. Beware of possible emotional breakdowns lasting 2 days that may also lead to friendship redefining and possibly leaving work early. It's Gin, someone shoulda known it was coming....

Say goodnight Tom, "Goodnight Tom"

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Call It My 'Harvey Wallbanger', Wanna See It?

It's that time of the week again, another Friday night and people are getting ready making plans for the evening. Well this week let me introduce you to a friend of mine, Harvey Wallbanger. In the illustrious tradition of cleverly-named cocktails, this one might just be The Holy Grail. The choice name of a male's package AND a trendy alcoholic beverage? Don't mind if I do!

Harvey Wallbanger

 What does the Bible have to say about Harvey? Let's take a look:

Sometimes the name really makes the drinnk. Consider the Harvey Wallbanger. It's basically a screwdriver with a dash of Galliano added in, but thanks mostly to it's distinctive, vaguely smutty-sounding moniker (and a promotional ad campaign featuring a loveable cartoon character by that name) it became one of the most popular drinks of the 1970s. Legend has it the Harvey was created in the 1950s by Donato "Duke" Antone, the famed Los Angeles mixologist who also gave the world the Rusty Nail, the Flaming Caesar, and the Godfather. The name was inspired by a drunken patron who kept banging into walls one day after downing one too many. Order one up the next time you're 'flying high' (the Wallbanger became a worldwide sensation after TWA began serving it in its 747cocktail lounges) or dispense as an accompainment to a menu of old-school entree favourites, like Veal Prince Orlaff or Boeuf Bourguinon. This is powerful stuff, so don't be surprised if you're banging into a few walls yourself by the end of the evening.

"I've seen it, kid. When the man is no longer in charge, and the drink takes over." - Arnie, 75, "businessman"

I had a feeling I was being watched during that staff Christmas party! Oh Arnie, you should've come over and said hi; I'm dying to know exactly what kind of 'business' you're in.

1oz vodka
4oz orange juice
1/2oz Galliano

This drink actually gave us some degree of trouble; it was the damn Galliano! I didn't even know what the hell Galliano was, let alone that we walked halfway across town to the second liquer store looking for it only to find them closed. With a little bit of a luck (and a good cabbie) we managed to find a store that was open and made the long walk home to start the evening off.

Now lets talk about this drink for a moment. We had talked about my first drink as I was rummaging through my dad's liquer cabinet a few posts back and it was a little bit of vodka and a little bit of orange juice - a Screwdriver. I was *really* hoping to be transported back to the days of watching Bleu Nuit on the french cable channel that carried soft-core porn in the same time-slot as Saturday Night Live. The 'Return' button on the remote got WORN OUT. Sorry, got a bit off-topic there. Back to the beverage..

I think we can all get behind a Screwdriver, so the real question is: What is Galliano? Answer: A sweet vanilla liqueur. I'll take a moment for that to settle in with you.
So you've got some sweet orange juice and lets add some sweet vanilla to that as well? I think this "Duke" guy musta been a little too 'high on his own supply' the day he dreampt that up. We actually had to adjust it on the fly and we modified the recipe as follows:

2oz vodka
6oz orange juice
1Tbl Galliano

and it was MUCH better. Rock Band was played, merryment was enjoyed and for the second straight week, the 26-er of alcohol was devoured.

Final Rating: 3 Oranges out of a Bushel. I hadn't anticipated making any changes to the recipies but I think that just might be a necessary evil of this.
Next Week we're diving head-first into the Gin, I sure hope it's not like the shallow-end - there's only 1 toilet!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Cuban Cruise

When flipping through the book to find a suitably smooth entrance to the World of Old Man Drinks, there were a few strong options. We settled on a drink that I likely would have NEVER tried: a Cuba Libre.

Cuba Libre

A little background; this book is more than just a recipe book, it's a real slice of time with your Grampa. There's a little blurg of background of the drink along with the recipe and then a little quote from a 'mature man of leisure'. Here's what we have to say about the Cuba Libre.

Return to those glorious pre-Castro days when gangsters ruled Cuba and Coca-Cola flowed freely in the Mafia-owned casino's. This refreshing cocktail was first concocted in 1900, the year US soldiers introduced soda pop to the island. It later inspired a hit song by the Andrews Sisters titled, appropriately enough, "Rum and Coca-Cola". The proper toast when drinking it in is: "To a free and independent Cuba!"

The Andrews Sisters - Rum and Coca-Cola

"That's all I did on my down time. Sit around and get shitfaced. All the time. Then I'd go work for a week or so. Then get shitfaced again. What can I say, I get bored easily. It helped kill time."- Patrick, 65, Trucker

2oz Light Rum
Juice of 1/2 a Lime
Lime Wedge

I'm SO not a fan of rum. It's not as bad as Gin for me, but I can't remember a time where I've ever ordered a rum-drink so why not start here? Went out to the local adult beverage sales establishment and showed off my book, told them what I was up to and requested a suggestion for a nice starter rum to break me in. A quick stop at the corner grocer to get some limes, ice and the cola and back to my friends place to kick this off.

I love making a drink. Its like cooking, only you know there's gonna be less dishes when you're done.

I quickly set about the business of getting the out the tools to get after it.

So I've gone on record that I'm weary of rum-based drinks and it's time to admit that it was... INCREDIBLE! The citrus from the lime helped to cut the sweetness from the cola and it all came together really smoothly especially considering how strong a double can taste in a short glass filled with ice! I was instantly transported to a dominoes match in Old Havana, smoking a stogie and listening to a steel drum band.

Now, I really love the fact that we were using real limes, that is until drink #5. At about that point, you don't know any difference and you're wasting valuable boozin' time by juicing the limes. When you're busting out bass tracks on Rock Band with your close friends and talking to friends in Denver you don't have time for juicing. There's fun to be had and you don't wanna be the one in the kitchen mixing up everyone's drinks and miss out when the underwear hits the floor.

What did I think of the Cuba Libre? I give it 5 hammocks under a beach umbrella; and beyond that, this drink is going into my regular rotation and at the end of the day, what better revue can I give it than that?

Side Note: When I woke up in the morning, this song was loaded up on YouTube from at some point during the evening.. further proof of the party that is the Cuba Libre!

Mystery Track

To a free and independent Cuba!

Friday, January 14, 2011


For years whenever I'd go to a party / get-together with friends, I'd get grief for my choice of beverage.

My dad was a big rye drinker when I was growing up and that must have worn off because once I started drinking I'd help myself to the liqueur cabinet and fix myself what I had seen my dad drink. Sure through high school I tried beers but it was never my thing; I always gravitated to the harder alcohol.

My drink of choice was always Rye & Ginger.

Just look at that! Perfection.

Recently, a good friend of mine returned from a trip to Portland and phoned to tell me that she had a gift for me. She had purchased me a book entitled "Old Man Drinks: Recipes, Advice and Barstool Wisdom". As we flipped through the pages along with her husband, he suggested that I go through the book, sampling each of the beverages and blogging my thoughts of them.

And now here we are. Come along with me on my journey - from the relaxed 'Arnie Palmer', to the classic 'Martini', to the most feared drink in the book: Gin & Milk. What's in that you ask? Gin. And Milk.

Lord help me....