Archives for posts with tag: Happy Hour

 

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)

The Grog Dog is not a sentimental type; even after lapping up one too many cocktails, I won’t be howling over texts from an ex. But everyone has their emotional weakness, and cheeky word-humor is one of mine: Post a sly pun on my Facebook feed and I’ll follow you anywhere.

It was over beers with a friend – of one of the many brands specializing in name-puns – that I was reminded of “the language of flowers”, or floriography: a means of sending silent messages to friends, enemies, and lovers using blossoms that had specific, well known meanings. While flowers had been a staple of romantic communication for centuries, their cryptographic use became wildly popular in England and the U.S. during the repressed Victorian era.

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Strict social mores precluded young sweethearts, for example, from writing or speaking their ardor. To transmit their feelings or indicate their preferences, they would give, hold, or arrange specific blooms in accordance with floral dictionaries, so their intended recipient would know their meaning. Even the scent of certain love flowers, discreetly daubed on a handkerchief, could speak volumes to a suitor.

After imbibing a few brews chosen for their clever names rather than their flavors (I can’t resist a good pun or a bad one), I wondered whether cocktails might also be used to subtly communicate certain sentiments – specifically, cocktail names. Like stringing together an entire story with emojis, cocktail messaging could become a new bar craze among literary types… Cocktail EmojiOr introverts, who may not wish to be approached by a boozed-up barfly, but could carry on a (very) quiet conversation with that other single who has a sophisticated drink and a Kindle, and understand each other perfectly.

Let me be clear: I am not talking about the cocktails that proliferated during what the Corpse Reviver of the American cocktail, David Wondrich, called the Dark Ages: the Sex on the Beach, the Slippery Nipple, the Slow Comfortable Screw, etc. (I refuse to provide links; if you must, look them up yourself.) As he noted in an Esquire column, “those drinks resist craft”. They also resist taste, subtlety, and class.

To make the cocktail-name-conversation thought experiment a little simpler, and classier, I went back to Victorian times – or at least pre-Prohibition – to imagine a more romantic scene.

1st round: Jack Rose, Margarita

2nd round: ManhattanBrooklyn

3rd round: Tuxedo, Champagne Cocktail

blueblazer.it4th round: Hot ToddyMaiden’s Blush

5th round: Hanky Panky, Morning Glory

6th round: Old FashionedBijou

7th round: Scofflaw, White Lady

8th round: South SideTom Collins

9th round: Blue BlazerLast Word

Final round: Turf ClubMerry Widow

While the game is obviously much more fun when your cocktail companion knows you’re playing, you can amuse yourself for hours (or until you hit your limit) using your drink order to comment on life and the world in the moment. mutt-ropolitan-opera-calendar_merry-widow_operatoonityA friend of mine shakes up a Merry Widow when she’s particularly annoyed with her husband… Which may not change his habits, but fortifies her for the next round.

 

 

 

Image credits: Red Rose – Wikicommons; Martini Emoji – emojipedia.org; Blue Blazer – Blueblazer.it; The Merry Widow – Operatoonity.com

It’s happy hour somewhere, but not yet at the GrogDog’s house, so I’m posting a bit of alcohol edification to go with your morning coffee: the roots of Grog.

Wikipedia has a very thorough history of the traditions and popularization of grog, so please click through for much more detail. The shot-sized version is that in many cultures and countries, grog is a mixed drink or punch made from local spirits, fruit juices, and spices.

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When most of us think of grog, however, we think of sailors and pirates. Why? After colonizing Jamaica in 1655, the British Royal Navy allotted a daily rum ration (vs. the traditional beer or brandy) to each sailor, but found that many were saving their portions to drink all at once. (There’s no word on whether this is the origin of the Friday office happy hour.) To avoid the resulting licentious drunkenness among its sailors, the Navy began cutting the rum with local unfiltered water, which tended to spoil (bacteria not being understood yet) and make sailors sick. But they found that when mixed with lime or lemon juice to cover the foul taste, the rum didn’t spoil as quickly and the sailors remained healthier overall – even resisting scurvy, a disease we now know is caused by a vitamin C deficiency. This is also why British sailors are known as limeys, for their consumption of lime juice.

British Admiral Vernon, who oversaw the West Indies fleet and the switch to the healthier rum ration, was known for wearing a cloak made of grogam fabric. His nickname, “old grog”, became the term for the drink he popularized, and was widely in use by the 1740s.

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Since many versions of Grog are served hot, it is a popular winter drink. With a major storm coming tomorrow, the GrogDog is laying in a supply of rum and some other ingredients to enjoy as the nor’easter pounds the coastline.

GrogDog’s Winter Grog

1 black chai teabag & boiling water

2 oz dark rum

1 lime, juiced

1 oz ginger syrup* (or honey) – more to taste

Make a cup of strong black chai in a mug, filling only 2/3 with boiling water. Squeeze and discard teabag. Stir in rum, lime juice, and syrup or honey. Adjust sweetness to taste. Stand at the window and sip while watching the gale blow.

*Ginger syrup is easy to make! Boil 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, adding a handful of peeled, sliced fresh ginger. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved; take off heat and cover. Let steep until cool. Strain into a clean jar with a tight lid; refrigerate up to 2 weeks. (If mold forms, throw it out.)

Image: “The King God Bless Him”! British sailors taking their rum ration. Public domain.

 

 

 

This iconic statement from W.C. Fields sums up the GrogDog’s wishful drinking… Would that the world rewarded such restraint with a modest stipend to maintain gin-induced bonhomie all day! (The full quote is, “I exercise extreme self-control. I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.”)

I’ve been thinking and drinking gin since last year’s revelatory gift of Barr Hill craft gin started me on my cocktail journey. Today I learned a few gin facts from Food Republic: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gin.

The article also provides a recipe to one of my favorite gin cocktails, which is worth posting on every cocktail blog. The Last Word is 1 part London dry gin, 1 part green Chartreuse, 1 part Maraschino liqueur*, and 1 part fresh lime juice. Shake all ingredients with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

the-last-word-cocktail

*A note about Maraschino: Having no idea that proper Maraschino is a Croatian liqueur, I originally used the sweet red syrup from the supermarket ice cream aisle in this drink. Aside from the fact that the ice-cream version is primarily corn syrup, it at least gives a semblance of the cherry flavor that characterizes Maraschino liqueur, offsetting the astringency of the gin and sour lime. No doubt the traditional recipe using actual Maraschino is even more delicious, but if all you can find is the bright red syrup, give it a try!

Image credit: GinFoundry

There are many theories as to the origin of “clinking glasses” to toast before drinking… Many, many theories. But the best explanation I can find for the modern-day practice (for it didn’t originate with Viking drinking horns or medieval feasts) is provided at Snopes.com:

…beyond mere aural pleasure, the act of touching your glass to that of others is a way of emphasizing that you are part of the good wishes being expressed, that you are making a physical connection to the toast.”

That is enough for the GrogDog, who enjoys a convivial toast with friends and family even more than drinking at home.

Whether or not you’re clinking, however, the right glass is important because you want to experience the flavor and/or scent of the cocktail, have the right size to accommodate – not overwhelm – the drink, and not feel silly drinking a martini out of a jelly jar. (On the other hand, if all you have are jelly jars, go for it!)

Since GrogDogBlog is about simplifying your drinking experience, here are the three types of glasses you will use most often making cocktails at home: the cocktail (or martini) glass, the tall glass, and the short glass.

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You will note that the glasses pictured do not match, and if you zoom in you may even see water spots. That’s because except for the cocktail glass, these are glasses I use every day for all kinds of drinks besides cocktails – they’re just glasses. The cocktail (martini) glass is one of a pair I chose from a housewares store for their lovely wide bowls and thick, sturdy stems – a must in a household full of dogs (or children, or adults with clumsy fingers). The testament to their utility is that I’ve had them more than a decade and haven’t broken one yet.

The point is, you don’t need to invest a fortune in glassware to make and enjoy good cocktails. I’ll post more later on the coupe, flute, and rocks glasses, but until then, clink your glasses – whatever they may hold – with friends and enjoy!