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Treasures

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When done properly, the day after a night of drinking is pretty exciting. If you’ve balanced your alcohol tolerance (measured as a barrier to drunkenness number, or BTD) against your actual consumption, or BAC, then you don’t have a hangover, but neither do you remember exactly what you were up to the previous evening. Then, as the coffee hits your system and you have a chance to reflect and IM whoever you were causing trouble with, bits and pieces begin to come back to you. Your mind is like that box of old photographs your grandmother has. They’re not in order; they’re old and dusty; you have no idea who the people in them are or what’s going on; many of them are out of focus; many of them just look stupid. If you stare at them long enough, though, threads start to develop, you start to recognize the recurring characters, and the past shapes itself before your eyes.

It would seem that my Friday night included having too much beer at a bar while it was still the afternoon; almost forgetting to go downtown to a hookah joint; going downtown to a hookah joint; randomly meeting a friend from Virginia at an el station in the middle of the city; being cuffed and cited by some plainclothesmen for drinking on the el; and being a jackass to people I don’t think I knew.

Once upon a Friday night long ago, it was the last day of classes for the semester, and then I woke up the next morning. I had not minded my BTD/BAC ratio as I should have, and Saturday was not fun. Monday I went to work, and one of the guys I worked with told me a story about Friday night. He said he saw me at the Wawa standing in line and talking to two girls I apparently did not know. He said that he said hi to me, and I was delighted to see him. “Dan!” I said. “We’re going to go streak the Sunken Gardens! You should come!” He said that this was apparently the first these two girls had heard about this plan, and they asked me what was going on. “Oh, man!” I said to them as I turned back around. “Dan and I are going to go streak the Sunken Gardens! You guys should come!”

Dan, apparently, did not go streak with us, and though the two girls must have had a high alcoholic tolerance, I feel confident that they also declined to accompany me to the Sunken Gardens. I may very well have streaked alone, and perhaps one day I will wake up and discover the memory of the chill Virginia air speeding by my nuts to comfort me when life seems bad.

Friday night memories secrete themselves in odd nooks of the chest of your mind, sitting quietly until you overturn them.

They lie in wait.

Written by Daniel Grady

January 15, 2007 at 14:03

Posted in Alcohol

I’d Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me Than a Frontal Lobotomy

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Is the title of a song by Randy Hanzlick, who is (or perhaps was) a real live medical doctor who writes (wrote?) songs as a hobby. This particular song was printed on a 45 in 1980 in a run of about a thousand, but is now available on a larger scale as a track on Dr. Demento’s 30th Anniversary Collection, which is where I’m getting my information from.

The interesting thing, and the reason that I bring it up at all, is that I just found that same quote attributed to Tom Waits, who apparently used the line in a TV show in 1977. So it would at second blush appear that this line, like all great lines, originated with Tom Waits.

But wait! There’s a comment on this page which would seem to indicate that Dr. Hanzlick came up with the title of his song independently of Fernwood 2 Night. But then again, according to that source, Dr. Hanzlick “saw it written on a bathroom wall,” which is suspiciously similar to a quip Waits made about the origin of the line in the interview linked above. Will we never extricate ourselves from this labyrinth of minutiae?

Perhaps the important point is not who said it, but rather that it was said at all. Perhaps the phrase expresses a truth of such fundamental importance that both men gave voice to it completely independently. Yeah. Dig it.

Written by Daniel Grady

September 27, 2006 at 11:14

Posted in Alcohol

Sangria

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I’ve spent too much time talking about how awesome Macs are recently, so this post is intended to return the discourse to another subject near and dear to my heart, alcohol. Specifically, sangria.

Sangria is a drink that comes from Spain originally. It’s like fruit punch, but with booze. I make it pretty often, and people seem to think it generally tastes okay, so I’m gonna go over the recipe I use. It’ll be fun.

First, these are the things that go in sangria and some preliminary rambling about them: wine, fruit, sugar, orange liqueur. That’s it, actually.

There’s more wine than anything else in sangria, and usually it’s red. Sangria made with white wine is called sangria blanco, and you need to put different things in it. Don’t fiddle with that shit. Red wine is the way to go. You don’t need to get amazing red wine; you’re going to dump a bunch of sugar and fruit juice in with it, so if it doesn’t taste perfect you’ll probably never notice. You probably want to shoot for something fruity rather than dry. I’ve used Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Merlot, Merlot, and I think some other things to good effect. Something like Shiraz or Chianti is probably not the sangria wine you’re looking for. Actually, Chianti might work pretty well. I should try that. Yellow Tail is great for sangria.

On to fruit. As with everything in life, fresh is always better. However, I have found (through countless hours, selflessly spent, of experimentation) that using bottled orange juice and lemon juice in lieu of freshly squeezed tends to not make a huge difference in the quality of the sangria. On the other hand, you absolutely should use fresh fruit to make fruit slices to put in the sangria.

Some chefs, such as Emeril Lagasse, recommend the use of a top-shelf liqueur such as Grand Marnier to flavor your sangria. Mr. Lagasse may be an outstanding chef, but he is a piss-poor drunkard, and I assure you that the subtle and delightful features of Grand Marnier or Cointreau (which presumably justify their top shelf price) will be completely drowned in a sea of wine and fruit juice if they are used in sangria. All you care about is giving the concoction a little orange-flavored kick, and for that a seven-dollar bottle of triple sec is your best option.

You also need to make sure you get a big pot or pitcher; you’ll end up with about 2.5 L of sangria if you follow the instructions. And that’s it for introductory rambling. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 L red wine
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 c orange liqueur
  • 1 apple (Granny Smith is good)
  • 2 oranges; one for juice, one for slices
  • 2 lemons; one for juice, one for slices
  • 2 limes; juice and slices

Procedure:

  1. Put the water in a pot, and put it over medium-low heat on a stove. Let it heat up a bit, then stir in the sugar. Heating the water simply ensures that all the sugar dissolves easily. Once the sugar is all dissolved, dump this in your big pitcher.
  2. Cut the apple into chunks, the lemon and orange into thin slices. Dump them into your big pitcher.
  3. Pour some lemon and orange juice into your big pitcher. If you’re doing the freshly squeezed kind, you probably want the juice from one lemon and one orange. If you’re using prepackaged, you probably want a bit more than that. Guesstimate.
  4. Dump the wine and liqueur into your big pitcher as well.
  5. Stir.
  6. Let it sit for a while, preferably overnight. I’m no chemist, but my college roommate was, and he assures me that during the time the sangria sits, magic happens to make it taste better.
  7. Drink.

That’s all there is to making sangria. Give it a shot; don’t even worry about sticking to the recipe. Sangria is very flexible. In the words of Cole Porter, quoted here from Box, Hunter, and Hunter,

Experiment.
Make it your motto day and night.
Experiment
And it will lead you to the light.
The apple on the top of the tree
Is never too high to achieve,
So take an example from Eve,
Experiment.

I think it is the funniest thing in the world that Box, Hunter, and Hunter use that quote to preface their textbook on statistics and experimental design.

Written by Daniel Grady

August 31, 2006 at 02:41

Cantaloupe Bread

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The following is a recipe for cantaloupe bread that I made up the other day. There was this thing I read that was talking about melon bread, and it sounded like it would be pretty good, so I checked around and found a few places online with recipes for various types of melon bread, and they all seemed to follow a pretty standard formula, so I went back to Joy of Cooking and adapted their instructions for banana bread, instead using cantaloupe. It turned out pretty well. I’ll probably try to tweak it some more later.

Block 1 Ingredients

  • 1 ½ c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Block 2 Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 6 tblsp melted butter
  • 1 c. cantaloupe purée
  • ¼ – ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 5″ baking pan.
  2. Sift or whisk together block 1 ingredients.
  3. Mix block 2 ingredients.
  4. Fold block 1 into block 2 until just moistened. Do not overmix.
  5. Pour into loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pretty simple. The thing is not to add too much cinnamon; the flavor of the cantaloupe is easily overwhelmed.

Written by Daniel Grady

February 26, 2006 at 23:28

Posted in Consumables, Recipes

Martinis

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The subject under discussion is the proper mixing of a martini. Because it needs to be discussed.

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to find myself at an event with a wide open bar, the services of which I did not hesitate to avail myself. After padding my tongue with a few of the more subdued libations, I placed the order that any gentleman of discriminating taste has to place at some point during the evening. I called for a martini.

The bartender proceeded to use the cap of the vermouth bottle to measure out a portion of that spirit, and followed it up by freehanding a rather significant fraction of a bottle of Tanqueray into the shaker. The resulting drink contained, needless to say, much too many parts gin and far too few parts vermouth.

Now, there have been many claims regarding the best way to combine the rare effervescence of vermouth with gin. Some say you should pour a scant quarter ounce into the martini glass, swirl it once, and discard the rest. Others say that you should merely place the vermouth bottle in a ray of the morning sun that is subsequently incident on the martini glass. Still others say the ideal method is to concentrate very hard on the bottle of vermouth that you have left unopened in your liquor cabinet as you shake two ounces of gin. (Winston Churchill, you alcoholic.) This is all poetic bullshit.

The mystique surrounding the extra-dry martini is ridiculous. Show me a man who orders a martini extra-dry, and I’ll show you a man who doesn’t have the balls to order a shot of cold gin. Vermouth is absolutely essential to the perfect martini. Consider the gin and tonic: all by their lonesomes, tonic water and gin are both fairly unappetizing ingredients that few willingly drink. But mix them together, and you have one of the truly classic, and classy, concoctions of any generation. The same holds true with gin and vermouth. They complement each other; one falls flat in the absence of its partner. The quality that makes the drink is not the flavor of gin drowning out vermouth, it is the dynamic interplay between the two.

Gin tastes like Christmas; this is a fact that has been observed by so many reliable witnesses that it brooks no disputation. But like any Christmas present, gin is naked without a wrapping. You cannot simply pour a slug of Bombay Sapphire into a glass and expect to please. It requires some accoutrements, some dressing. In the case of the martini, this is the vermouth. The vermouth tempers the gin; it calms it without robbing it of any vital characteristics. This is why the martini is the truly classic cocktail: it takes the base spirit with the most complex flavor, and allows one to savor that flavor without being overwhelmed by it. The taste of vermouth should not be anemically intrusive. It should be strong but submissive, pronounced but restrained. Balance must be maintained.

The real martini is mixed with 1/2 ounce dry vermouth and 2 ounces London gin, and it is served straight up and ice cold. It is not made with apple schnapps, it is not made with orange flavored what-have-you, and it is not ever, ever goddammit, made with vodka. If you go to a bar and order a martini, and they ask you if you’d like it with gin or vodka, they are insulting your intelligence as a drunkard and connoisseur. Never drink a vodka martini. An angel dies every time you do. End of story.

Go drink. Now, dammit.

Written by Daniel Grady

February 12, 2006 at 12:56

Posted in Alcohol, Consumables

Wastin’ away…

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Saucy has an article on making a good margarita– not the frozen kind, but the real honest to god cocktail. I actually agree with all the points he makes, and I’m a pretentious stuffy liquor snob, so check it out and learn how to get away from the syrupy sweet concoctions that Ruby Tuesday’s has been feeding you all these years.

Written by Daniel Grady

May 4, 2005 at 19:52

Posted in Alcohol

Complicated math

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Claim:

Pf: By definition

Written by Daniel Grady

March 24, 2005 at 13:07

Posted in Alcohol