Archives for category: Party

 

Happy spring! With its beautiful colors and come-out-and-play weather, spring awakens our awareness of sensual pleasures like no other season. For the Grog Dog, it’s time to run like the gate was left open and roll in the sweet new grass!

While drinking dogs generally limit themselves to basic hydration, Dog Drinking GIFpeople drink for many other reasons, and pure enjoyment is not the worst of them. Modern cocktails in particular offer an almost unlimited range of flavors and textures (thank you, molecular gastronomists!), and due to their intoxicating effect, are the perfect medium to deliver a sensational spring day… or evening.

The tongue and palate are the major organs of taste, naturally, and although they are highly sensitive, they can only “report” their data to the brain, which must catalog and record the information so you remember that warm hint of absinthe in your Inside Job, or the surprising spark of celery bitters in your Oxford Comma.

So next time you mix or order a cocktail, take a moment to really taste it. Taste the cocktail. First, inhale at the rim of the glass and notice its scent as you take in the first sip with just a bit of air. Let it roll over your tongue, slowly. Bathe your taste buds in viscous sips of deliciousness. (And then try to say that phrase three times fast.)

drinking martini-dailymailukAs you swallow, open your lips slightly to allow the alcohol vapors to rise into your palate. Breathe in slowly through your mouth and nose, and savor the flavor of each ingredient as it evaporates. Lick the remaining drops from your lips and warm to the final tingle on your tongue. Sigh, and sip again. Notice how the first sip is different from the next, and the next, and the last. Take in the astringency of the gin, or the heat of spicy bourbon, or the sweet complexity of the liqueurs.

That’s the physical process of drink-tasting. While the temperature, flavor, and texture are dancing down your throat, your brain still needs to keep a firm grip on its analytical faculties to learn and catalog those taste sensations – warm or cool; sweet, spicy, or fruity; thick, foamy, or frosty. Is it too tart? Too watery? Too cold, or not cold enough? What individual flavors do you detect? Give your brain time between tastes to record the flavors, the textures, temperatures of each sip.

It doesn’t matter whether there’s absinthe in your cocktail – if you taste anise, there must be some chemical cousin to it in your glass. That won’t be fun if you don’t like anise, but you’ll have learned to do a little more taste-testing to find out what exactly you do like about that particular drink. Make a different cocktail that includes – or excludes – the ingredient you’re not sure of. Compare and contrast. Have a tasting party, and try several varieties of the same base spirit to see how they affect the overall flavor of one of your favorite cocktails.AJ1180423

Spring is the perfect time to rejuvenate your palate with some fresh sensations. Drink up, slowly, and savor the season!

Image credits: reddit.com (dog drinking); dailymailuk.com (sipping); Eavisa.com (daffodil)
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dog-drinking-water_safebeedotcom“Oh!” the Grog Dog’s companion exclaimed after taking a gulp and sputtering a bit, “I forgot we’re having cocktails; I thought we were having drinks!” I knew what he meant, but is it correct to make the distinction between a cocktail and a drink? Does it even matter?

Wikipedia tells us that, “Drinks, or beverages, are liquids intended for human consumption.” It helpfully adds that water is not generally considered a beverage; alcoholic beverages contain ethanol (though alcohol itself includes many other chemical compounds); and non-alcoholic beverages are made with (or are modified so as to contain) less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

So technically, we were having drinks – they were liquid and intended for human consumption. But we were consuming the top tier of the drink hierarchy, the cocktail, which deserves a more refined description.

The Wiki definition of a cocktail is, “[A] beverage that contains two or more ingredients if at least one of them contains alcohol.”

Even without a hangover, this explanation makes my head hurt, because it implies that a “non-alcoholic beverage” at 0.5 pct ABV can be the main ingredient in a cocktail as long as it’s mixed with a second ingredient – for example, a near-beer shandy. But no one – at least, no one I’ve ever met, heard of, or read about in the history of human civilization – really looks forward to kicking back with a concoction of cooked-down malt beverage with a splash of lemon-flavored high-fructose-corn-syrup that has zero capability to alter their mood or please their palate.

And for me and my drinking buddy, therein lies the distinction.

vintage-cocktail-party_thirtysomewheredotcomDrinks (the alcoholic kind) are what you consume at parties, where social lubrication is more important than the flavor profile. Surely you wouldn’t criticize your host for using bottled juices or middle-shelf spirits when serving a crowd; the important thing is that they encourage guests to have a good time together.

Cocktails, in the Grog Dog’s lexicon, are beverages containing a balanced combination of two or more flavorful ingredients and enough alcohol (technically, ethanol) to make their consumption a physical and emotional pleasure – an experience to savor. Cocktails can and do enhance a gathering, a meal, and other activities, but they mostly are crafted for the sheer joy of the tastes, textures, and effect they deliver. The higher the quality of your ingredients, the better the drinking experience, whether you’re alone or with a group.

Whatever you call them, delicious cocktails can be as simple as the Salty Dog, a slightly savory mixture of gin (or vodka, 1.5 oz), grapefruit juice (5 oz), and kosher salt (1/4 tsp) stirred with ice. This is a variation of the even-simpler Greyhound, which eliminates Dogstar_paws4clawsdotcomthe salt.

Having taken the first swig of a craft cocktail as if it were a mere drink, my remorseful friend thereafter sipped, enjoyed, and relaxed… as the cocktail gods intended.

Image credits: safebee.com (drinking pup); thirtysomewhere.com (party); paws4claws.com (dogstar)

Spring has finally sprung and the GrogDog is enjoying the sunshine, daffodils, and traditional spring and Easter treats that have been used to celebrate the Earth’s renewal since humans discovered the miraculous egg.

Image credit: PetsLady.com

Image credit: PetsLady.com

While St. Patrick’s Day is all about the green, Easter and its companion non-Christian holidays clothe themselves in pastels – pink, yellow, blue, and green reflecting blooming botanicals. This year, enjoy a semi-sweet brunch cocktail that incorporates all the ingredients of a bright spring day full of promise: The Grand Royal Fizz.

Image credit: Cocktail101.org

Image credit: Cocktail101.org

The Grand Royal Fizz is ½ oz. orange juice, 1 oz. lemon juice, 1 tsp. sugar, 2 oz. gin, ¼ oz. maraschino liqueur, ½ oz. cream, and 1 fresh egg. Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake long and hard – you want to incorporate as much of the egg into the drink as possible, and enough air to give it a silky mouthfeel. Pour into a tall glass, top with club soda, and give it a light stir.

Note: I understand that people are wary of consuming raw eggs. There was a massive raw-egg scare a couple of decades ago and now every chain restaurant menu in the country warns against them. If you’re squeamish about drinking whole raw eggs, feel free to substitute 1 oz. of pasteurized egg white from a carton – but if you skip the egg altogether you’re changing the character of the cocktail substantially, and I can’t vouch for the result. In the interest of education, this article completely debunks the myth that consuming raw egg is a health hazard. (The egg-producing process is highly regulated and salmonella contamination rates, already pretty low except for the long-ago outbreaks that caused the seemingly unending hysteria, are hardly worth mentioning now.)

Making the SNAP Sour, image credit ArtintheAge.com

Making the SNAP Sour,
image credit ArtintheAge.com

For those who prefer a less spot-on Easter cocktail but want to enjoy a zingy taste of spring, I offer the Pineapple-Mint SNAP Sour, a fresh, sweet/sour cocktail that features SNAP liqueur, “…a sophisticated organic spirit based on authentic folk history designed for people who know how to drink”.

This delicious ginger spirit was developed based on a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch gingersnap recipe by my drinking buddies at Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction cooperative (conceived by Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum creator Steven Grasse). You can find SNAP, along with its equally delightful playmates ROOT, SAGE, and RHUBARB, at many well stocked liquor stores, and cocktail recipes in addition to this one on their web site.

Image credit: AWREdinburgh

Image credit: AWREdinburgh

The Pineapple-Mint SNAP Sour is 1 oz. SNAP, 2 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3 oz. pineapple juice, and 5 mint leaves. Muddle the mint with the lemon juice, add SNAP and pineapple juice, stir, and top with club soda.

Happy Easter, happy gardening, happy spring from the Grog Dog!

Friday night is the GrogDog’s favorite unwinding night of the week – an ideal evening for themed drinking at home to kick off the weekend without incurring a large bar tab or a massive hangover. (Saturday is chore day, and chores aren’t nearly as much fun to do with a pounding head and roiling stomach.)

A booze hound, and young Joan Crawford

As a fan of the classic cocktail and longtime student of the Prohibition era (and the Jazz Age that preceded it), I have many recipes to build personal theme nights around, but I keep coming back to the Charleston – the drink, the dance, and the exuberant attitude that post-WWI America exported to the world.

The Charleston

The Charleston

The Charleston cocktail is 1 part London dry gin, 1 part kirsch, 1 part maraschino liqueur, 1 part sweet vermouth, and 1 part dry vermouth. Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

While you’re enjoying your drink – from a cocktail glass or the flask tucked discreetly under your garter – put on a little hot jazz and try a few steps of the Charleston!

The Charleston

The Charleston

The Charleston is an energetic dance performed to a ragtime rhythm, made popular in the 1923 Broadway musical “Runnin’ Wild”. The Charleston is easy to learn and a fun way to work off the cocktail calories. (Fans of the 1959 film Some Like It Hot, set in the 1920s, will remember Marilyn Monroe performing the song “Runnin’ Wild” with band mates Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, who perform in drag as part of the dance band Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators.)

Other popular 1920s dances included the Black Bottom and the Shimmy (or Shimmie). For some very danceable (modern) performances of popular Jazz Age songs, check out the Hot Sardines on iTunes. (You can get a taste of their style in this irresistible video.)

Rudolph Valentino as The Sheik

Rudolph Valentino as The Sheik

If you’re not feeling that energetic, stir up your Charleston cocktail and put on one of the era-defining movies that thrilled postwar audiences with daring dress, drinking, and debauchery, like The ‘It’ Girl starring Clara Bow, or The Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino. Both films (and many more silents and early talkies) have been nicely restored and are available for purchase or download.

So don’t be a Mrs. Grundy! Stir up some giggle water and make some whoopee some Friday night – creating your own 1920s cocktail theme night is the bee’s knees!

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