Issue No.O30 “Tails from the Bookworm” Chinatown

 

 


 

here was something odd about the room, the lights were dim and the polished glass  tables were set with long sticks. Strange figures were painted on the light shades and on the menus , the kid sniffed the air heavy with garlic, onion and a whiff of aroma wending its way from the kitchen that she had never smelled before, this was new territory and it made her nervous. A small woman  in pajamas shuffled over and nodded politely at the gathered diners, pen and pad in hand. The kid stares at the menu, none of it makes sense! What does this mean?  How can something be sweet & sour and what are egg drops???  Oh, and why is this woman wearing jammas in a restaurant! This place is weird! The kid slithers down in her seat hoping to become miraculously  invisible. “What would you like miss?” Six pairs of eyes look in her direction, as she feels heat running up her neck. She scans the paper menu in her hand and shrugs, “C’mon love, we haven’t got all day , we’re hungry!” She slides down even further in her seat then flinches from the kick aimed at her under the table “Ummm, I’m not hungry” She blushes the shade of the silk lantern hanging above her head “Well you’ve got to eat something or there won’t be anything till breakfast” . Realizing the seriousness of the situation she was in, eat now or starve till morning, she chooses starvation  ”not hungry” she mumbles then slips under the table hoping the fancy carpeted floor would just swallow her hole , she receives another kick under the table and hears a snicker “I don’t think she’s ever had Chinese food before” the words directed at the waitress ” any chance you can make her a ham omelette?” The waitress shakes her head and replies  solemnly “I’m sorry lady,we don’t make omelettes  ,  this is Chinatown!

The kid in question was myself, just in case you had not figured it out, I grew up in a Polish household raised primarily on sauerkraut , latkes kabanos  (dry sausage) and chicken  soup ( which we ate every single day) . My first outing to an actual sit down restaurant where a waiter takes your order and you don’t have to do the dishes when you finish eating , was at a Chinese restaurant, where instead of my omelette I was presented with a steaming bowl of egg fried rice with crisp english peas that would burst in my mouth when I bit them, it was sublime! I think it was my best friend’s birthday treat, her sister tormented me with  kicks under the table and rolling eyes, I was the Polak nit twit and they were better than me because they knew Chinese food. I wanted to punch her for making fun of me.

Times naturally have changed , I mean forty some years have passed and thankfully I now  brandish  chopsticks with flair. Chinese food ranks up there as one of my favorite cuisines along with Thai and Japanese food, give me a bowl of eggy, crunchy rice or a cup of miso and I’m as happy as you’ll ever see this curmudgeon.  2015 in the Chinese horoscope is the year of the goat or sheep, I was born under that sign, stubborn , tenacious and the ability to chow down a mountain of food are all flags I fly with panache. I decided in honor of the Chinese New Year , February 19th, to explore one of my favorite movies ( yes I realize its not a book but it would have  made a rather splendid hard boiled crime novel a la Chandler or Hammett) . Set in Southern California amid the water wars and droughts (what’s new?) that took place in the early 20th century , the movie has everything ,there’s a smoking hot dame with a killer wardrobe, a dead guy, an evil father, a midget with a knife and lots of whiskey, what the film does not have is anything to quench the thirst on all those hot, parched days, there’s a mention of a Tom Collins  and iced tea but thats about it. So I figured I’d gather up a basket of foods the Chinese use to symbolize good luck and prosperity    ( lord knows some of the characters need a big change of fortune)  and whip up a few refreshing beverages to revive and keep these characters cool. Its also citrus season here in Socal so I made abundant use of our seasonal bounty too. Cheers and  Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Take 1 scene 1: Another stakeout

Enter our hero, J. J Jake Gittes, a hardened whiskey drinking Private Dick and ex LAPD. Jake is on the tail of  one Hollis Mulwray, chief engineer for the LADWP, according to his wife he’s been cheating and she wants hard proof so she can screw him for every penny! J. J has spent the day and part of the night in his hot automobile , driving from the Pacific ocean to the east side where he finally gets his proof, Hollis is shacked up with some hot little chica who can’t keep her arms from around his neck. What Jake needs to stop his mouth from feeling like sandpaper and his eyes from drowsily closing is this version of Duke Antone’s Harvey Wallbanger, featuring tangerines (which in Chinese culture symbolize good luck ; oranges represent gold and prosperity, a favorite addition to any Chinese New Year table) Galliano, jasmine  scented Gunpowder green tea and gin.

The Duke’s Punch

serves 12

1  bottle Aviation gin

1 liter of Jasmine gunpowder green tea, chilled

6 oz of  fresh squeezed lemon juice

12 oz of Galliano liqueur

12 dashes of orange bitters ( angostura orange works well here)

3 oz of simple syrup

1/2 oz vanilla extract

1 liter of tangerine or orange soda ( my favorite for this is Fanta)

3-4 tangerines segmented and cleaned of any stringy membranes

2 blood oranges sliced thinly on a mandolin

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

In a large pitcher or punch bowl add all of your ingredients except for the orange soda, add either one great big chunk of ice or 5-6  2 inch cubes to dilute and chill, store in fridge until ready to serve. Once ready, portion out ice in your glasses and pour over the chilled punch, top with an oz or two of orange soda and decorate with tangerines and oranges.

Take 1, scene 2: Chez Mulwray 

Jake gets back to his office thinking his job is done, all he can think of is a shot of scotch and that little blonde he met at the diner two nights ago. As he walks though the door he’s flagged by his two assistants, Mrs. Mulwray is back except this time its the real one. Jake realizing he’s been set up goes back to the water plant to confront Hollis and find out what the deal is, too late though Hollis is being fished out of the drink dead as a dodo! The only way to get to the real story is track down his lady wife.  J.J arrives at Chez Mulwray just in time to see the gardener looking at something shiny  in the Coi pond, curious Jake thinks but just then is distracted by Hollis’s wife, her silk blouse and riding breeches clinging to her, Jake gives her elevator eyes as his words and throat dry up. Evelyn Mulwray, a stunning beauty offers our man iced tea, Iced tea! Methinks not, I propose this  refreshing combination of Mezcal , lettuce juice ( lettuce represents rising fortune), aloe vera, and meyer lemon juice finished off with some tart wood sorrel.

Green Manalishi

1 1/2 oz mezcal

1 1/2 oz lettuce juice

1 oz floc de gascogne

1/2 oz aloe vera juice

3/4 oz meyer lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

maldon smoked salt to finish

garnish with wood sorrel flowers and leaves.

 

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

In your trusty shaker add all ingredients except for salt and garnish. Add 4-5 ice cubes and shake hard for 8-10 seconds. Strain into a chilled double old fashioned or rocks glass, add a pinch of smoked malden salt and few wood sorrel leaves to finish  .

(note: wood sorrel grows in abundance in Southern cali, you’ll find it on your hike in the canyons or growing in your back yard, wood sorrel like sorrel is a sour grass and adds an incredible freshness to any drink or dish, I snagged some and planted it in my yard)

Take 1 scene 3: Murder, a midget and Lunch at the Country Club

After Jake meets with the grief stricken Mrs. Mulwray he suspects foul play, the smoking dame Evelyn has him hooked and he’ll do anything to bring her some peace , turns out Hollis was in trouble over some  missing water deal, JJ starts to investigate and heads back to the water and power headquarters where he’s met with double  trouble in the form of a security guard and his midget henchman monkey, Jake trying to escape gets his nose slashed by the ape. Cut to the next morning and Gittes receives news at his office , Hollis and Evelyn’s father were once business partners so he figures who better to visit to collect dirt on the stiff. Pops comes in the intimidating and powerful form of Noah Cross, he meets Jake at his Country Club and thinks he can sway Jake away from his water investigation by offering him double to search for Hollis’s missing girlfriend.  The old man plies him with wine hoping to soften him up. No dice old timer! Jake don’t work that way! Cross may have faired better had he tried getting our man JJ one of these delicious smashes, pineapple mixed with coconut scotch  ( the golden pineapple symbolizes prosperity , luck and fortune whilst dried coconut at New year represents  friendship and unity) finish all this love off with a touch of Saigon  cinnamon .

Bol D’Or

1 1/2 oz of toasted coconut scotch ( see below for details)

3/4 oz cardamaro amaro

4-5 chunks of grilled pineapple

2 halved limequats

1/2 oz Vietnamese cinnamon simple syrup ( simple syrup that has cinnamon powder infused in it whilst still warm)

3/4 oz of lime juice

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss the halved limequats and pineapple chunks into your shaker tin, add the simple syrup and muddle pressing the oils out of the citrus, add the remaining ingredients and cracked ice and shake for about 5 seconds. Dump into a vessel of your choice and garnish with citrus leaves and a speared limequat.

(Note: Toasted coconut scotch, you will need 2 cups worth of shredded coconut that has been toasted in a medium oven for about 5-10 minutes till its partially nice and golden, toast too much and you will remove all of the yummy fatty oils that will fragrance your scotch. Add this to a container with a bottle of inexpensive blended scotch, such as Famous Grouse, stir and allow to sit overnight covered. If you are using the sous vide method to infuse , add your ingredients to a bag, seal it up and sous vide at 55 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, strain immediately and store in an airtight container).

Take 1 scene 4 :Alone at last

….and action!  J. J now has some serious questions for Hollis’s ex , he meets up with the dame for dinner where he gives her news of Papa Cross trying to throw him off track , he needs Evelyn’s help to get more answers , but first she needs a drink, stiff and  thirst quenching, something to loosen her lips and spill some beans, she orders a Tom Collins..and Cut! so how to make a Tom Collins more , well interesting, its fine and all but its essentially a boozy lemonade which if thats what you want then great, but how about trying it with preserved or fermented citrus. My version here uses preserved kumquats ( the literal meaning of the word is golden and as we heard earlier the color gold is very auspicious for new year celebrations in China, Kumquat plants are given as gifts) , coriander tincture, Old Tom gin , a touch of chili and club soda.

Tom Tom Club

2 oz Old Tom gin such as Haymans or Ransom ( if gin is not your bag substitute a good vodka)

3/4  oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

1/8 oz of coriander tincture ( soak one cup of coriander seeds in a bottle of Everclear spirit, strain after 2-3 days of soaking)

1 dash Scrappy’s firewater bitters

2-3 preserved kumquats ( see below for recipe)

sliced kumquats and a pinch of Szechuan pepper for  garnish

club soda to top off

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle the kumquats with the simple syrup in your shaker, add remaining ingredients and 4-5 ice cubes, shake hard for 8 seconds and dump into highball glass, top off with soda. garnish with kumquat or citrus slices and a pinch of ground Szechuan pepper.

(Note: Preserved Kumquats, you will need a large jar, a couple of pounds of kumquats halved , kosher salt and in this case a cup of coriander seeds. Line the bottom of your jar with salt, layer kumquats and salt with coriander seeds until they’re all used up, finish with a heavy layer of salt and seal the jar. Leave for a couple of weeks, when ready to use rinse off the kumquats to eliminate some of the salt)

Take 1 scene 5: Bedtime stories

After dinner , Jake and Evelyn decide to do some in depth investigations , they head to the Mar Vista Inn retirement home to get a personal look at these land owners who are stealing all the water, whilst there they are confronted once more by the switchblade toting midget and his big dog handler, the exchange must have been exhilarating since our hero and his beauty end up in each other arms and finish the scene in bed , smoking, literally!  Early in the morning Evelyn hears some news and has to leave tout suite, but not before telling JJ that her papa, Noah Cross is dangerous and he should stay away. He follows her to a house where she seems to be holding Hollis’s piece on the side hostage . He confronts her and she confesses the girl is her sister. I would think after this all nighter Jake would be ready for a choice beverage , since the time of day is dawn might I suggest this version of a tequila sunrise….

Rise and Shine

1 1/2 oz tequila

3/4 oz strega

1 oz pomelo juice ( pomelos again signify prosperity)

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/2 oz lime juice

pinch of smoked salt

3/4 oz aperol to line the bottom of your rocks glass

blood orange slice and pink peppercorns  to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Shake everything but the Aperol in your shaker with 4-5 ice cubes, shake hard for 8 seconds. Meantime layer the Aperol on the bottom of your chill glass and place on top one large rocks cube. Strain the shaken drink slowly onto the rocks cube so as not to disturb the Aperol, you want this drink to look layered. Finish with a pinch of peppercorns and the blood orange slice.

Take 1 , scene 6: Forget it Jake, its Chinatown!

The next day JJ get an anonymous tip off that leads him to the original but fake Evelyn’s place where he finds not Evelyn murdered and the cops waiting there for him in hiding, the cops suspect the real Evelyn of this murder and Hollis’s, he pressures Jake to produce Mrs. Mulwray or he’s going down himself. Jake returning to Evelyn’s mansion discovers whats shiny in the Coi pond, a pair of glasses he assumes belonged to Hollis, he confronts Evelyn about her sister to discover she is both her sister and daughter and guess who’s the daddy? That’s right evil papa Cross. Jake decides to help the ladies escape their predicament and spirit them away to Mexico, he suggest they hide out in her butler’s pad in Chinatown. Before she leaves she lets Jake know the eye glasses belong to her father implicating him as Hollis’s  and not Evelyn’s killer, you follow? JJ summons papa Cross to the mansion once the ladies have left to settle his deal for the girl. Sadly things go awry , the movie ends with Evelyn shot in the eye and papa Cross  whisking the sister/daughter away. Jake tries to help but his buddies stop him with the words “forget it Jake , its Chinatown”.

This sad ending makes me think that only one drink could soothe a man’s soul . The Sazerac has a special place in my heart, its the perfect ending to a day, a meal, a story. This one gets a little extra aroma from the Chinese Five spice syrup thats paired with this lovely Taiwanese ( yes thats correct) whisky ,this particular one aged in ex bourbon barrels. Its quite stunning in a cocktail as well as by itself.

The Chinatown

2 1/2 oz Kavalan ex bourbon barrel aged whisky

1/2 oz cynar

1/2 oz Chinese 5 spice simple syrup ( use same method as for cinnamon simple syrup above)

1/2 oz absinthe ( such as Kubler or Pontarlier)

1 pomelo twist

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Pour your absinthe into a chilled glass, swill around  coating the inside of the glass and pour off a little if theres is too much in the glass. Set aside. In your mixing glass add the whiskey, sugar and Cynar plus a handful of ice cubes. Stir for about 20 seconds then strain into your absinthe rinsed glass. Finish off with the pomelo twist.

 

Issue No. 020 ” Hot Blooded, Check it and see!

 

y plan was to avoid the subject of Valentines day since I think its a bit too much of a Hallmark holiday, but reading an article recently in my bible the NY Times I came across a book review that tickled me. The book in question is by garden expert Helen Yoest titled ” Plants with Benefits” and it turns out to be a bit of a Horticultural Kama Sutra. I think you should all have realized by now I’m a bit of plant nut, I can’t grow one to save my life but I love using them in all manner of drink concoctions wether they be boozy or not so much. We’ve all heard how Asparagus is supposed to be an aphrodisiac but so too are carrots , fennel, pineapples , peppers and pomegranates , they all have boink boosting properties. As I started digging a bit deeper I found all sorts of goodies on how the Aztecs used agave plants to “increase effect” , how basil was used to make women more sexually attractive or how men go wild for licorice , seriously!

So to help you revv up your engines for the 14th here’s a few ideas to inspire and not one glass of champagne in sight…..

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) contains pheromones, phytoestrogens and an estrogen like substance called estragole. It is used to increase libido, mixed here with Mezcal and agave that increases “effect” whatever that may mean!

Finnochio 

1 1/2 oz Vida or La Purtita Mezcal

3/4 oz fennel apple shrub ( fennel and apple juice, mixed with apple cider vinegar and sugar, steep with toasted celery seeds over night) see shrub post for more details

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz agave

1 oz cocchi americano

dash Miracle Mile or Bitter truth Celery bitters


Shake everything over ice in your Boston shaker, shake for 25 seconds and strain into a chilled ice filled old fashioned glass, garnish with a sprinkle of smoked salt and cracked black pepper, finish with a fennel frond

 

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) known to be an invigorator, sacred fruit to Aphrodite ( you know goddess of Love!) paired with agave based Tequila for more feel good factor

It’s a Love Thing

1 1/2 oz silver tequila

1 oz pomegranate juice

1/2 oz lime juice

1 /2 oz campari

1/2 oz agave

about 1 oz of Timmerman’s strawberry lambic ale

 

Put everything except for the ale into your Boston shaker with about 5 ice cubes, shake for 25 seconds and strain into an ice filled glass of choice, top with the strawberry lambic

 

Pineapple (Ananas cosmosus) aphrodisiac, a small glass taken daily is said to promote energies of love, mixed here with rosemary which has a strong erotic effect,  chili and vanilla both also known to be mood enhancers .
Apple of my Eye
1 1/2 oz aged rum
1 oz John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
4 drops vanilla extract
a small sprig of rosemary for muddling
Muddle rosemary sprig with Falernum , agave and lime juice. Add rest of your ingredients and shake in Boston shaker for 30 seconds with 4-5 ice cubes. Strain into a chilled glass of choice and garnish with a pinch of chili powder and some vegetation .
Wheat (Triticum aestivum) strengthens the sexual organs, paired here with saffron which evokes sexual desire , cinnamon used for erotic stimulation and vanilla.

The Mojo

1  1/2 oz wheated bourbon such as Buffalo Trace or Makers Mark

1 oz dry saki

1/2 oz simple syrup infused with  cinnamon and pinch of saffron ( add tablespoon cinnamon powder and saffron pinch to your simple syrup when still warm

2 drops vanilla extract

1/2 oz Averna amaro

Stir all ingredients in your mixing glass with 5-6 ice cubes, stir for 30 seconds or so until your glass becomes nice and frosty. Strain into a chilled coup or martini glass and garnish with a twist or a mint leaf for a bit of aromatic effect.

 

Next up…..looking for that pot of gold 

Issue No. 009 Twas a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht!

hrough the years I have tended bar at many a NYE celebration, NYE as with most other holidays except for thanksgiving, technically not my holiday, is a complete let down , so I would rather be working or doing a Garbo ( wanting to be alone). There is one NYE however that goes down in memory for me, it was spent in the bonnie town of Edinburgh where until you have experienced the Scot’s celebration of the final day of the year you have not really experienced a NYE. Why you may ask? Well they just do things differently, and plus the party can rage on for days. They even have a different name for the celebration calling it Hogmanay, the word stems from possibly the French or Norse languages of old. They also keep old traditions very much alive and as a bit of a history nut its reet up ma alley. As it should be the traditional drink of Hogmanay is Scotch whisky, in Gaelic it is called the “water of life”, what better tipple to partake in to ring in the new .

You won’t find any better combination of quality and value. Viagra vs cialis. The difference between a brand name medicine and a generic one is in the name, shape and in the price.

Lets toast with a wee dram of Hogmanay history

Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Years Eve and can last for days. It is believed the Scots inherited the celebration of Hogmanay from the Vikings and their celebration of the shortest day but many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned and not celebrated in Scotland from the end of the 17th century until the 1950’s( Christmas” is “Christ’s Mass” and mass was banned in Scotland, there are records of charges being brought against people for keeping “Yule” as it was called in Scotland), New Years Eve was a good excuse for some revelry and the excuse to drink whisky and eat good food. Hogmanay involves parties and festivals across Scotland with the largest and most famous public party in Edinburgh.

There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of “first footing” which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whisky or a rich fruit cake called black bun, all intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January) much better methinks than the boring one night of drunken mayhem which results in either hugging the bog ( toilet to you) or waking up in a strange bed, dont get me wrong nothing bad about either just gets a bit old once you leave yer twenties.The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year, for me this ritual sounds much more interesting especially as traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot, any tall dark man would be welcome as my first , second , third or twentieth foot.

An even more interesting and charming custom from the Highlands, which has survived to a small extent and seen some degree of revival, is to celebrate Hogmanay with the saining (Scot’s for ‘protecting, blessing’) of the household and livestock. Early on New Year’s morning, householders drink and then sprinkle ‘magic water’ from ‘a dead and living ford around the house (a ‘dead and living ford’ refers to a river ford that is routinely crossed by both the living and the dead). After the sprinkling of the water in every room, on the beds and all the inhabitants, the house is sealed up tight and branches of juniper are set on fire and carried throughout the house and byre. The juniper smoke is allowed to thoroughly fumigate the buildings until it causes sneezing and coughing among the inhabitants. Then all the doors and windows are flung open to let in the cold, fresh air of the new year. The woman of the house then administers ‘a restorative’ from the whisky bottle, and the household sits down to its New Year breakfast. The song of “Auld lang syne” is a scots song sang on Hogmanay written by Scottish number one son and poet Robby Burns , the words literally translates to old, long since, or long long ago.The song begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships. In my humble opinion old times should be revived especially if it means a tall dark handsome man comes through my door bearing a bottle of fire water.

Lets toast with a wee dram of Scotch History

Scotch whisky (often referred to simply as “Scotch”) is malt whisky or grain whiskey made in Scotland. All Scotch whisky was originally made from malt barley. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late eighteenth century. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch whisky evolved from a Scottish drink called uisge beatha, which means “lively water” or “water of life”. The earliest documented record of distillation in Scotland occurred as long ago as 1494, as documented in the Exchequer Rolls, which were tax records of this time, The following quote records “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae”. This was equivalent to about 1,500 bottles, which suggests that distillation was well-established by the late fifteenth century. Friar John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife, he was a Tironensian monk who were well regarded for their skills as alchemists . Lindores Abbey is known as the birthplace of Scotch whisky. You know we owe a lot to those silent men of the cloth, without their alchemic tinkerings we’d all be drinking fermented potato water, oh wait thats vodka ! Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: Single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky (formerly called “vatted malt” or “pure malt”), blended grain Scotch whisky, and blended Scotch whisky. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky. Scotland was traditionally divided into four regions: The Highlands, Lowland, Islay, and Campbeltown, each of these regions produces very different styles of Scotch. Below a selection of my personal favorites.

Lowland Auchentoshen Three Wood is a triple-distilled malt matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. These casks impart a great deal of complexity and depth to this nuanced whisky; the nose and palate express dried dark fruit, caramel, roasted nuts, and cocoa, while the finish introduces a citrus note. Unlike many delicate Lowland malts, this spirit boasts satisfying heft and weight, making it an unexpected treat. Auchentoshen is nicknamed the breakfast whiskey due to its sweet and delicate nature, in Gaelic the name translates to “the corner of the field”

Speyside Balvenie Doublewood , two casks of different character produce a deeper, more complex flavor and greater character than maturation in only one wood. During maturation, the Balvenie DoubleWood is transferred from a traditional whisky oak cask to an original sherry oak cask, thereby acquiring character from each. The result is a rich, mellow flavor of great depth and unusual complexity Balvenie produces whisky in a traditional style. The use of locally grown barley is preferred, and is floor malted ( malt grains are spread out on a wooden floor which is then heated and smoked). Balvenie has many ranges of whiskey, a slew of core whiskey as well as many

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limited editions. For the money I love the Doublewood for everyday, the Caribbean cask and the Madeira cask or Islay from the limited edition collection.

The Highlands Oban distillery (Scottish Gaelic Taigh-stail an Òbain) is a whisky distillery in the scottish west coast port of Oban. It is one of the few distilleries to have been built, in 1794, before the actual town which sprung up later in the surrounding craggy harbor.The distillery has only two pot stills, making it one of the smallest in Scotland, producing a whisky that has been described as having a ‘West Highland’ flavor that falls between the dry, smoky style of the Scottish islands and the lighter, sweeter malts of the Highlands. Oban is one of only two remaining distilleries in the Western Highlands, and its stills are some of the smallest in Scotland. Oban’s unique, enticing character reflects its origin, showing characteristics of both the Highland and Island styles. Elegant and glowing, it marries the briny sea air character of Island malts to the soft, rich, fruity style of the Highlands.

The Islands Highland park ,this Orkney Islands malt is produced at the northernmost distillery in Scotland, and is renowned for its consistently excellent whiskies. In Scotland and its Whiskies, Michael Jackson described Highland Park as “The greatest all-rounder among whiskies, because it combines so many elements: maltiness, smokiness, heather-honey notes and sherry character, in a rich, rounded whole.” Highland Park 12 Year Old is a surprisingly good value with tremendous complexity. Aromas of sweet peat, heather, smoke and ripe apple lead into satisfyingly malty flavors of honey, heather, pineapple, pear, and smoky peat. Try this single malt with just a drop of water to unveil its depth Talisker ,the malted barley used in Talisker production comes from Muir of Ord. Talisker has an unusual feature – swan neck lye pipes. A loop exists in the pipes taking the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs so some of the alcohol condenses before it even reaches the cooler. It then runs back in to the stills and is distilled again these coils are believed to give the whisky a “fuller” flavour (itself an indication of higher sugar content).Talisker’s water comes from springs directly above the distillery via a network of pipes and wells. Talisker was the favourite whisky of writers Robert Louis Stevenson and henry Vollam Morton. In his poem. “The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad”, Stevenson mentioned “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet.” Talisker 10 Year Old is a peaty malt with bold aromas of smoke, spice, and heather. The palate is unmistakably briny and quite complex with flavors of smoked meat, cracked pepper, and a hint of candied almond. The finish is slightly sweet and quite spicy.

Islay

The whiskies of the distilleries along the southeastern coast of the isle of Islay,Laphroaig, Lagavullin, and Ardberg, have a smoky character derived from peat, considered a central characteristic of the Islay malts, and ascribed both to the water from which the whisky is made and to the peating levels of the barley. Many describe this as a “medicinal” flavour. They also possess notes of iodine, seaweed and salt. Caol Ila, on the northern side of the island, across from Jura, also produces a strongly peated whisky. Lagavulin is an Islay single malt Scotch Whisky produced in Lagavullin on the island of Islay, United Kingdom.The standard Lagavulin single malt is 16 years old (43%), though they regularly release a 12-year-old cask strength variety, a Distiller’s edition finished in Pedro Ximinez casks, and 25- and 30-year-oldvarieties.A recent 21-year-old bottling, matured solely in first-fill sherry casks, has been extremely well received by enthusiasts.The name of Lagavulin is an anglicization of the Gaelic lag a’mhuilin, meaning “hollow by the mill”. Lagavulin was established in 1830 and has the driest start of all single malts. Full amber in color, with a dominant sherry nose. Full-bodied yet smooth. The dryness is offset by the sweetness of the sherry character. Salty notes and a huge powerful peaty finish. A connoisseur’s malt, and with consistently high marks from late critic Michael Jackson of Whisky Magazine. Ardberg The name is derived from the Scottish Gaelic: Àrd Beag, meaning Little Height. Whiskey Advocate has this to say about Ardberg’s Corryvreckan Single malt: “Powerful, muscular, well-textured, and invigorating. Even within the realm of Ardbeg, this one stands out. The more aggressive notes of coal tar, damp kiln, anise, and smoked seaweed are supported by an array of fruit (black raspberry, black cherry, plum), dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, bacon fat, kalamata olive, and warming cinnamon on the finish. Quite stunning!” The Ardbeg distillery has been producing whisky since 1798, and began commercial production in 1815. Like most Scottish distilleries, for most of its history, its whisky was produced for use in blended whisky, rather than as a single malt.Ardbeg whisky is considered to be amongst the peatiest in the world, with most expressions using malt. Ardbeg seldom release whiskies with age statements.

Lets toast with a wee bit o’ the dram

Rusty nail

A rusty nail is traditionally 2 parts Scotch whisky to 1 part Drambuie a honey and spice based liqueur fortified with malt whisky. I tinkered around and came up with my own version of a honey based liqueur .

Spiced Honey Liqueur recipe:

1 cup runny honey , orange blossom is my favorite.

1 cup hot water

1 teaspoon of lapsang tea

2 medium sized chunks of ginger peeled and chopped

10 whole cloves

10 crushed black peppercorns

3 strips of orange peel

5 oz Islay Scotch ( I used laphroaig 10 year)

smoking gun optional

throw everything together into a small sauce pan, heat through but don’t allow to boil, keep on stove at lowest heat for about 1/2 an hour. Strain through a chinoise strainer and add the Islay scotch. If you want to take this one step further add the strained liquid to a plastic wrapped jar and smoke with your smoking gun, see Issue No.005 for full details on smoking a liquid.

Rob Roy Cocktail

2 oz Oban single malt Whisky

3/4 oz spiced honey liqueur

orange twist

3 drops Miracle Mile Chocolate Chilli bitters

garnish of cracked black pepper

matches

Flaming orange peel

In a chilled old fashioned glass add your ice cube/s. Pour in the Oban , liqueur and bitters. Give a good stir for about 30 seconds. Take your orange peel in one hand and a lit match in the other, above your cocktail spritz the orange oils out of your twist onto the flaming match so that the ignited oils drop onto your drink. Rub the orange twist on the rim of your glass and drop into your drink, finish with black pepper.

Crooked kilt

The Crooked Kilt is a new drink on the cocktail scene, created by master drink maker Leo Robitschek, the combination of the scotch with spices and fruit is absolutely lovely and one of my new favorite drinks, here as an homage to the master is my version, instead of Islay scotch I spritz a wee bit of Mezcal on the glass, the addition of the egg white softens the mouth feel of the alcohol so it feels less boozie than it is.

Oaxacan Kilt

2 oz blended scotch such as Famous Grouse or Ballantines

1 /2 oz agave

1/2 oz green chartreuse liqueur

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz pineapple juice

1 egg white

5 or 6 mint leaves

2 dash angostura bitters

mint sprig to garnish

spritz of Mezcal

Toss everything into your Boston shaker and give a dry shake sans ice to emulsify your egg whites, add ice and shake again until you get a nice frost on your shaker tin.Spritz your Mezcal on a chilled coupette glass and strain your cocktail into glass. top off with mint sprig.

Tipsy Laird Nog

Tipsy Laird Trifle is a dessert usually eaten as part of the Hogmanay celebrations, it is a layering of cream, fresh raspberries and vanilla cake soaked in some sort of whisky. I took a Ramos Fizz recipe and tweaked it using Tipsy Laird inspired ingredients.

For the Cocktail

2 oz blended scotch whisky that has been infused with vanilla beans or if you want to be really creative get a vanilla pound cake and infuse that in your whisky overnight, one cake usually works for one 750ml bottle of whisky, for vanilla bean infusion scrape out the vanilla paste of one bean and add to half a bottle of whisky along with the bean itself, allow to infuse for a couple of days giving a good shake every so often.

1 oz ruby port

1/2 oz agave

2 drops orange flower water

2 drops Miracle Mile Orange bitters

2 oz almond milk ( can sub 1 oz heavy cream to make it richer, dairy sadly is not my friend)

1 egg white

1 oz fresh lemon juice

splash of champagne to top off .


Toss everything into your Boston shaker except for champagne and any garnish, dry shake without ice for about 20 seconds, add ice and shake again for another 30-40 seconds or so. Strain into vessel of your choice with a couple of ice cubes added , scoop out the foam and plop on top. Finish with a splash of champagne and a star anise pod or cinnamon stick.

Hot Toddy

A toddy is a hot drink traditionally served in the winter months that includes some form of hot liquid such as hot water or milk, some form of alcohol usually whisky or brandy , honey, lemon and a combination of spices. Below is a version I’ve been tinkering with recently.

Hot Cider

1 liter apple cider

juice of 2 lemons

10 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

2 chunks of peeled ginger chopped finely

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste depending on your heat preference.

toss everything into a sauce pan and allow to simmer but not boil for about half an hour till the cider is flavored by your spices.

Mackinnon’s Hot Grog

1 1/2 oz blended scotch whisky

1/2 oz Islay scotch

1/2 oz runny honey

1/2 Fernet branca

6 oz hot cider

Add everything to a heat proof glass and give a good stir, garnish with a lemon twist or wheel plus a pinch more of black pepper.

 

Bliadhna mhath ùr!

 

Next up…..The hair of the dog that bit you

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