Hello, I must be going…for now

Both loyal readers of A Measured Spirit may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything since … um, spring? Yes, that’s about right.

I’m sad and annoyed — dis-spirited! — to report that in the interim I’ve been diagnosed with an ugly spine condition, had a major surgery [a multi-level fusion, for the lumbar cognoscenti], and two very unpleasant complications far worse than the surgery. All of this was followed by several months of the sort of narcotic medications that make so many deadly headlines these days.

These morphine derivatives have many contraindications, the most pertinent being Old Fashioneds, Margaritas, Drunk Monks, Hillbilly Martinis, and so on … basically anything with, um, alcohol. I’ve been on the Wagon of Glum for several months, and am likely to ride on it for who knows how long.

Since I can’t taste or enjoy drinks, it’s no longer impossible to sustain the, how you say, persistent enthusiasm that maintaining this blog requires.

I briefly thought of converting to mocktails. Luckily I quickly thought better of it.

So it’s time to pull the plug on AMS, at least for now. So: Happy mixing. Happy drinking. Happy hours, evenings, nights, and brunches to all. No happy breakfasts, please.

Oh, okay, WTF. Here’s one mocktail — hate that word — I’m making:

Phony Gin & Tonic

  • Cook up some simple syrup, and toss in the thick skin of two lemons and a handful of juniper berries. You can find these at the nearest health food store.
  • Turn off the heat and let it cool for 2 hours.
  • Strain, toss out the solids.
  • Measure 1.5 oz of the stuff in a Collins glass filled with ice.
  • Add 1 oz lemon juice.
  • Top with tonic.
  • Garnish with lemon wheel.

Sure, you’re disappointed and dissatisfied. But from where I sit, drinking these is way better than becoming another opioid casualty in the local paper. I’ll take it.

 

 

 

 

Annals of rookie bartenders, Vol. XXVI.a.77: La Nariz Congelada 

A surprisingly drinkable mix of mezcal and rye. The presentation? Loco

Placed before me at a random mezcaleria in Healdsburg, California:

La Nariz Congelada: aka The Frozen Nose

Huh.

“Maybe that should be served up, without the ice cube?” said I.

The waitress baby-sitting the bar this early afternoon referred to the handwritten guide the head bartender had left behind the counter.

“No,” said she. “It says to serve with the big ice cube.”

“Maybe it should be served in an Old Fashioned glass?” I offered.

“No, he said to serve everything in a Margarita glass.”

Well.

When in Rome, etc.

Gamely, I took a sip. The ice cube brushed my nose.

The odd thing is, it was an unexpectedly arresting drink. It looked like a train-wreck on the menu — all those unrelated flavors in one place! — but it was at least a solid B, with extra points for originality.

I have no idea what it was called on the menu.

So I am naming it here.

La Nariz Congelada, or The Frozen Nose

  • 1.5 z mezcal
  • .75 rye
  • .5 Luxardo maraschino liqueur

Stir in a mixing glass, serve up in a coupe with one big ice cube, because…well, WTF. Brandied cherry garnish.

Frozen Nose cocktail tasting notes

  • Mixes two base spirits and a liqueur, each with vivid, distinctive flavors.
  • The smoke of the mezcal, the grainy edge of the rye, the high-pitched sweet of the Luxardo…somehow balance themselves.
  • Instead of a bar fight, this somehow comes off as a slightly edgy barstool conversation among three very strong-minded people who’ve never met.
  • Which is to say: A fascinating entertainment, but slightly dangerous.
  • Okay, so I tried this in an Old Fashioned glass. Worked much better.

For sprited political conversation: The Basket of Deplorables Cocktail

For spirited political conversation 2016 style, serve this 2-ingredient powerhouse to your “friends on the other side”

You know how sometimes you just want to “reach out” to “your friends on the other side” and “exchange points of view” in a “mutually respectful way” so you can “understand” each other better?

No?

Huh.

Well, just in case you get a hankering, I recommend serving this simple two-ingredient cocktail to your guests. It’s definitely not sessionable, nor particularly well-balanced. But it has an unforgettable nose.

The Basket of Deplorables cocktail: The ideal elixir for political discourse in 2016
Ingredients for the Basket of Deplorables cocktail, an ideal elixir for political discourse in 2016

 

The Basket of Deplorables Cocktail

  • 2 oz bleach
    • Preferably Clorox, lemon-scented
  • 1 oz ammonia
    • Any brand will do

Garnish: Upside down American flag, lightly flamed

Directions: Build in an Old-Fashioned glass. Do not stir. Serve up. Garnish. Evacuate.

Basket of Deplorables Cocktail tasting notes

THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

The Cocktail-o-Matic

A long-forgotten 1950s product applies “modern” technologies to re-invent the ink-on-paper cocktail recipe book. You can figure out how this one ends

The 1950s were the flowering of American modernity — an aesthetic sensibility, tugged along by a newly affluent middle class, devoted to clean lines, simple forms, and a sense of an urgent new century unfolding.

The 1950s were also some really stupid times.

Witness the Bar Guide.

Bar Guide Measured Spirit cocktail recipes Craig Stoltz blog
The Bar Guide: A 1950s technology breakthrough that failed spectacularly to make paper-bound cocktail recipe books obsolete. Pictured at right: #79, the XYZ cocktail.

The Bar Guide is a shiny plastic device the size of a Canasta deck that updates the cocktail recipe book with “hep” modern technologies like plastic, newfangled printing methods, and a cool thumb wheel with traction grooves.

Its chief accomplishment appears to be transforming something that works quite well into something that’s confusing, hard to use, and easy to break.

And this was way before the Barnes & Noble “Nook GlowLight Plus.”

I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 80

Located at the heart of the Bar Guide is a paper scroll bearing 80 numbered cocktail recipes, each condensed to the size of a fortune cookie.

Continue reading “The Cocktail-o-Matic”

The Tom Waits cocktail: “27 Stitches”

Tom Waits no longer drinks. This didn’t stop me from creating a beverage inspired by his characters and stories. Warning: Things get a little weird

If you’re acquainted with Tom Waits — the most important and breathtakingly talented songwriter and performer of his generation I-don’t-care-what- you-say-because-if-you-disagree-you’re-wrong — you’d think it would be easy to come up with a Tom Waits drink.

Many of Waits’ early songs are exquisite, heartbreaking, often hilarious soundscapes where the main characters have been, to put it generously, over-served. Just a few titles illustrate: “The Piano has Been Drinking.” “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart.” “Gin-Soaked Boy.”

Waits with bottles
Tom Waits in his reckless youth: “Half drunk most of the time / all drunk the rest”

Until he met his wife Kathleen Brennan in 1987 and together they embarked on a remarkable journey of musical exploration that too few people know about, Waits says he lived a lot like the Bowery-bum scoundrels and layabouts that populate his songs.

Life moves along. He reports that he had his last drink in 1992. He credits Brennan with saving his life. Continue reading “The Tom Waits cocktail: “27 Stitches””

The Gin Daisy Chronicles, Part 2 (bad but inexplicably popular version)

The most-referenced Gin Daisy recipe on Google is horrific. Here’s how that happened

As regular readers of A Measured Spirit know, I have launched a campaign to explore that great if slightly obscure American classic, the Gin Daisy. It’s not one drink, but several drinks, some with little in common beyond the name.

Its origins are gauzy, its first recipe apparently lost. This has provided mixmasters almost 150 years of opportunity to improvise, riff, and commit various acts of mischief.

So, for our second installment in this series, I decided to check out the most popular recipe I could find.

Google, make me a Gin Daisy

For this I turned to Brother Google — the world’s always-on vast repository of knowledge, first refuge of rookie drinkmakers, and our most ubiquitous source of misinformation.

When Google presents search results, the order is based on a complex secret algorithm. But its most important component is the number of other sites that link to a particular page. The thinking: If a lot of other people think something is valuable, it’s valuable.

And so I Google “gin daisy recipe.”

Gin Daisy A Measured Spirit

Chowhound? WTF?  Continue reading “The Gin Daisy Chronicles, Part 2 (bad but inexplicably popular version)”

Math + alcohol = x + why?

Some simple mathematical formulas can produce fine, solid cocktails. They can also produce undrinkable plonk.

Mixing drinks that don’t taste like they were wrung out of a wet t-shirt from a spring break dance party can be tough for rookie drinksmakers. This I know from hard, unpleasant experience. For this I apologize to all affected parties over the years.

And so I appreciate attempts like this one, from a recent issue of bon appetit magazine, to convey some practical fundamentals of mixology to a lay audience. It’s a simple graphic that illustrates how to assemble a basic sour cocktail from, well, just about anything you have around.

Follow a formula — 2 oz base/1.5 oz modifiers equally split between sweet and sour —  and it’s hard to mess up too badly, no matter what’s in the bottles. The results are solid, if unspectacular. Good bones, as they say.

Sour wheel A Measured Spirit Craig Stoltz

Continue reading “Math + alcohol = x + why?”