Cocktails with friends

This past weekend I was invited to attend a fully-vaccinated, outdoor event by Camp Shameless, a burn theme camp who pretty much lives up to their charming name. I took cocktails for the happy hour before dinner on Saturday night, and they were a hit. Here, for those who are interested, are the recipes, with advice.

(Note: I served these on the rocks at the burn, but the first three are usually served without ice.)

No photos, alas.

Naked & Famous

  • ¾ oz mezcal
  • ¾ oz Aperol
  • ¾ oz yellow Chartreuse
  • ¾ oz lime juice
  • garnish lime slice

Shake with ice; pour into glass. Adorn with lime slice.

Thunderer

This one is a little complicated, but worth it. The Honey Arbol Ginger Syrup is an extra step, but not hard.

  • 1 ½ oz bourbon (or gin/tequila/rum)
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • ½ oz Honey Arbol Ginger Syrup
  • garnish: slice of arbol chile

Shake with ice; pour into glass. Adorn with the slice of arbol.

Honey Arbol Ginger Syrup

  • ¾ c orange blossom honey
  • ¼ c boiling water
  • 2 oz fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ½-inch piece chile de árbol (I use dried)

Directions

Put the honey and water in a blender and stir until the honey dissolves. Add the ginger and chile and blend on high speed until the ginger is pulverized. Strain through a chinois or cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. Let the syrup cool to room temperature. Transfer to a small jar or bottle and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Charlie Chaplin

  • 1 oz apricot liqueur
  • 1 oz sloe gin
  • 1 oz lime juice

Shake with ice; pour into glass.

Cedar & Sorghum

(This is one of my inventions, essentially a Manhattan with stuff in it.)

  • 2 oz rye
  • ¾ oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 barspoon cedar tincture*
  • 1 barspoon bourbon-barrel aged maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Woodford Reserve Sassafras & Sorghum bitters
  • garnish: orange peel

*To make the cedar tincture, char cedar wrap/paper (the kind you use for grilling) with your flame, then soak it in vodka/Everclear until it is a dark amber.

Stir with ice; pour over ice. Express the orange peel over the drink, toss it in.

[notes: When do you shake vs. stir? Cocktails with citrus juices, milk, and/or egg whites are shaken; otherwise stir. James Bond was asking for a more-diluted martini when he asked for his “shaken, not stirred.” To “express” a citrus peel, simply hold it over the drink and squish it suddenly. You’ll be surprised and delighted at the oils that spurt out. Finally, I tend to add the bitters after the pour so that the aromas are foremost, but feel free to add them to the mixing.]

Rose-Colored G

(This is another invention of mine.)

Again, an extra step, but this one is so easy that it hardly counts.

  • 1 ½ oz gin
  • tonic water
  • hibiscus-infused gin floated*
  • allspice bitters floated*

*For the hibiscus-infused gin, soak a handful of dried hibiscus blossoms in gin for 2–4 hours. Strain, store. For the bitters, I’ve used both Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters and Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters. Other bitters with predominant allspice notes would also work. Or play with other bitters — that’s the fun of cocktails.

Make yourself a gin & tonic, leaving room in the glass. Carefully pour the hibiscus-infused gin on top. Add 3–5 drops of bitters on top of that. You may add a lime slice if you wish.

New-Fashioned

An Old-Fashioned is one of the granddaddies of cocktails: bourbon with simple syrup and bitters. This is a twist on that.

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • ¾ oz banana liqueur
  • 1 dash Jack Rudy bitters (or other aromatic bitters, like Angostura)
  • garnish: orange peel or cherry

Stir with ice; pour over ice. Garnish at will.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Dishevelment update, 4/15/21

What can I say? I’m loving my dishevelment. After more than a year without a haircut, I’ve become that long-haired guy. I have product, and I’m not afraid to use it. My manbun is unsexy, but otherwise I’m happy with the look.

Having said all that, in rereading some of my blog I have been struck by several haircuts that I wouldn’t mind having again, so I’m also comfortable going back to what passes for normal when the time comes.

How They Do It

If you are of sound mind and body, you may wonder how on earth Fox News viewers are so blindered. It’s a remarkable sleight-of-hand, and after you’ve seen it in story after story, you begin to think that maybe perhaps the misdirection could be possibly on purpose. (Click for larger image.)

You will notice that Fox is not reporting on the policies that had President Biden saying mean things about those who don’t follow pandemic protocols. They are reporting only that he said mean things.

Back to the Inferno — with Trump!

Twelve years ago, as Barack Obama became President, I looked back over the eight years of George W. Bush’s rather shoddy performance and mused about where Dante might have placed him in hell. (Now that we’ve had even worse in the White House — a malevolent, venal, corrupt sociopathic narcissist — it’s easy to forget how bad Bush 43 was.)

I came across that blogpost recently and it occurred to me that if anyone were deserving of eternal punishment, it would be Donald J. Trump, and so here we go again!

With Bush, I started at the bottom and worked my way back up, but with Trump, it’s down, down, down we go.[1]

Circle 1: Limbo

The first circle of Dante’s Inferno is for those who weren’t really sinners per se, but who had the misfortune to be square pegs in the Catholic Church’s round holes: virtuous pagans born before Christ, infants who died before baptism, that kind of thing. There is no place for Donald Trump here.

Circle 2: The Lustful

And here we go. “Grab ‘em by the pussy.” Stormy McDaniels. Backstage at beauty pageants. E. Jean Carroll. Cthulhu only knows with Jeffrey Epstein. If we’ve ever before had a president with such appetites of the flesh, he didn’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses. Trump had no such compunctions. (I will note, for those who didn’t click through to read the Bush piece, that I saw no reason for Bush to go into the Lustful, or the Gluttonous.)

Circle 3: The Gluttonous

Whenever the White House released the results of Trump’s annual physical, the whole world snickered: 6’3”, 244 pounds? Honey, please. Multiple photos of him standing next to men we know to be 6’3” make it clear he’s not that tall, and his diet of fast food is notorious. He’s a pig.

Circle 4: The Avaricious

Where do we begin? He has enriched himself while in the White House by tens of millions of dollars, and he is always looking for the next scam. He has spent the months since the election scamming his followers of their money to “support” his efforts to “reclaim” the election, most of which went straight into his pockets. Where next can he get someone else to build a tower and slap his name on it? (Probably nowhere at this point, since his finances are in shambles.)

There is also the matter of his enriching the 1% with the 2017 tax scam and plunging the budget into more debt than ever before, but that’s more on the Republican party as a whole.

Circle 5: The Wrathful

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you the man’s Twitter account. Well, an archive of his account, since Twitter tossed his obese ass off the service finally. He is well-known to rage at anyone who gainsays him; during the final weeks of his administration, White House staff were quoted as saying they simply avoided interacting with him if at all possible — and this included his inner circle.

Circle 6: The Heretical

Dante was more concerned with people like Muhammad or the Epicureans, but Trump’s irreligiousness was stunning in its hypocrisy, particularly since the actual god-botherers bent themselves into Cirque du Soleil gymnastics to overlook it. “Two Deuteronomy.” Not ever having done anything to ask God’s forgiveness for. The whole teargas stunt with the Bible.

Above all, the man’s administration could not have been more opposed to the basic tenets of Christian caritas if it tried — and it tried. The cruelty was the point.

Circle 7: The Violent

Jan. 6.

But even more than the terrorist attack on the Capitol, Trump’s entire modus operandi was that of a mob boss: threats, grudges, retaliations. If you were not absolutely for him, if you were not kissing his ass, then you were against him, and that made you his enemy and his target.

Circle 8: The Fraudulent

Trump University. Trump Foundation. Trump Steaks. Trump Taj Mahal. Trump everything. Over 30,000 lies during his tenure, so many that the fact checkers at the Washington Post threw up their hands and admitted defeat. As Eric Wilson memorably coined, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”

Circle 9: Traitors

Putin’s bounties on our troops. The refusal to plan for the Covid-19 pandemic, abandoning half a million Americans to their deaths and the working poor to a living hell. Trump’s betrayal of anyone who crossed him. I would also argue that Trump’s Big Lie of the election being fraudulently stolen from him was the ultimate treasonous act: he betrayed this country’s trust in its systems for purely personal benefit. He wanted power — he tried to claim far more power than presidents have (and the Republican Congress did little to stop him) — and he was willing to do anything to get it and to keep it.

Unlike George W. Bush, who got a pass on Lust, Gluttony, and Heresy, Donald J. Trump belongs in every circle but the First Circle, and even that’s damning[2] since Limbo is for the essentially innocent. In Dante’s plan, your soul passed through the circles of hell to the lowest one for which you were culpable, but for Trump, I think we can go further and split his soul eight different ways so that he is tortured for eternity in all of them.

Hey, look, sir, you got more soul fragments than Voldemort! The greatest ever! Many people are saying… with tears in their eyes.

—————

[1] I was also more detailed in my examination of the different regions of hell, but better people than I have written entire books on Trump’s crimes, so I’ve kept this short.

[2] Yes, I see what I did there.

New (unnamed) cocktail (but now named)

I’d like to name this one Upside-Down New York Sour, because that’s what it is, but that’s just unwieldy.

A New York Sour is as follows:

New York Sour

  • 2 oz rye or bourbon
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ¾ oz simple syrup
  • ½ oz red wine

Combine the first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass. Float the red wine on top.

It’s a tasty, elegant cocktail; it served as the inspiration for my Rose-Colored G.

Now it has inspired this:

New York Sunset (formerly known as Inverse Sour)

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1-¾ oz oleo saccharum (recipe to follow)
  • ½ oz Barolo Chinato Cocchi

One is supposed to shake any admixture containing citrus juices, but I must admit I just poured the bourbon and oleo saccharum straight into the glass. More work is required. It probably could benefit from a lemon peel garnish as well.

So mix the first two ingredients, and then add the Barolo Chinato Cocchi. I had not considered that this fortified wine might have a different specific gravity than regular red wine, so I was a little disappointed when it didn’t float but rather sank to the bottom. (It occurs to me that this is more like a Tequila Sunrise in looks…)

No matter: It is a very tasty, sophisticated drink.

Note: It is also a fairly expensive drink, given the cost of the Barolo. But if you can swing it, it’s worth it.

Oleo Saccharum Sour Mix

There are multiple versions of this recipe online. This is the one I’ve settled on, but you can do all lemons, or any variety of orange instead of grapefruit.

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 large lemon
  • .4–.5 cup sugar
  • .5 cup lemon juice

Peel the grapefruit and the lemon. Place the peels in a medium bowl; add the sugar.  Muddle the peels with the sugar about a minute.

Leave for 4–6 hours.  The oils from the peels will puddle at the bottom of the bowl.

Add the lemon juice and stir to dissolve all the sugar.

Strain into a container. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Now to name it. Sour Sunrise? Barolo Sunrise? Barolo Sunset? Bloody-Bottomed Sour? Or how about plain old Newnan Sour?

UPDATE: Alan Brown on Facebook has suggested New York Sunset, which I think is perfectly cromulent. I’ll see if it sticks.

UPDATE 2: Having checked to see if such a cocktail with that name already existed — it does not — I am claiming the name for this drink.

Dishevelment update, 1/11/21

No, I still have not gotten a haircut.

It’s been a full year, and I’m rather enjoying my long, luscious locks, actually. They’re long enough to hit my shoulders now; when I pull it back with my Longhair Guys‘ hair ties, it now forms a man-bun rather than a stumpy little ponytail.

Yeah, I’m cool. Especially now that I have cut off the weird strands at my temples that looked more like a Seuss character’s sideburns than not. (Sorry, no photo of that phenomenon.)

Now I’m in the phase of figuring out what most women and dedicated longhair guys already know: how to maintain it so that it doesn’t always look like the mugshot of someone who believes Trump won the election.

The problem is that my hair has always been superfine, and it’s only since I’ve gone gray that it has had any body at all. If I had done this when I was younger, I’d be on my way to pulling off Jared Leto or Elrond at this point. But as you can see, it tends to wave, so I’m having to explore that delicate balance between the RIGHT SHAMPOO, KENNETH, conditioner, and frequency. NOT TO MENTION PRODUCT, KENNETH. Ugh. Too much work.

With vaccines here — I’ve had my first dose — it will eventually be safe enough to get a haircut, and then I will have to face the question: do I want to keep the long hair?

I don’t know. Probably not. It’s a lot to deal with, and I’m really over having to keep it out of my eyes. But I have enjoyed it; it’s been a great way to recognize the disruptive nature of the pandemic. If you can’t break down societal expectations during the plague, when can you?

Onward!

 

The least of these

Last night, there was some kind of political news show on the television which had as a guest some evangelical preacher who was exhorting us all to vote for “LIBERTY, KENNETH,” and he actually said this:

“It is not the government’s job to take care of poor people. The only job the government has is to keep our citizens safe from …” and here he kind of sputtered around, but his point was that maintaining a police state was the only function of the United States government.

Of all the conservative shysters out there, none is more puzzling — nor more infuriating — than this creature.

If he had been pressed, he would have told you in no uncertain terms that it is the Church’s job to take care of poor people, i.e., individual charity, not some nefarious government agency. As far as he is concerned, this is a “one of us should take care of this” thing, not an “all of us should take care of this” thing.

If you are a sincere Christian, then you understand what Jesus told you to do: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the oppressed. Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, etc., etc. So yes, it is the Church’s responsibility — but here’s the deal: would you not then want your government to reflect those values? How could you possibly think that God had commanded you to care for the least of these but that he/she would find a government embodying that principle to be abhorrent?

Especially since the people who promote this repellent dichotomy are also pushing as hard as they can for a theocracy — they want the government run according to “God’s laws,” BUT NOT THE CHARITY TO THE POOR PART.

How does this make sense?[1]

—————

[1] It does not make sense. These Xtianists are full of shit.

Pew-pew-pew!

This image popped up this morning in Cory Doctorow’s Twitter feed:

It’s a cover illustration by one Earle Bergey from back in the Good Old Days, when Men had forelocks and Women were all Princess Leia, and it occurred to me that it represents almost completely the mindset of the Trump voter.

Wait, where are you going? I can explain.

First, it’s clearly an illustration for some rip-roaring yarn of SPACE ADVENTURE, KENNETH, in which the writer just made up stuff without any regard to science or how space travel might actually work. (Notice how the babe is leaning against the window in terror (as one does); she is clearly not dealing with weightlessness.) It stars the Heroic Manly Man who has to save the Rita Hayworth clone BARE-HANDEDLY, KENNETH, not to mention all by himself. I have no way of knowing how they found themselves in this predicament, but it probably involved sabotage by nefarious foreigners/aliens.

The writer might have been some well-known author — many did write for the pulps — but probably not. Even if they were a respected writer elsewhere, they just cranked out these stories for the pulps every week, getting paid by the word. Imagine the scriptwriters for Hallmark holiday movies, only IN SPACE. Neither reality nor plausibility has anything to do with it.

Now create in your mind the reader of this stuff. It would be someone who was not only ignorant of physics and human nature but also willing to accept the unreality of the tale as perfectly cromulent. He sees himself (let’s face it, it’s a guy) in the Heroic Manly Man, whose world makes perfect sense to him.

Then there’s this:

To Clay the free…, it’s simple: all Trump has to do is put on his Heroic Manly Man suit and… fire the Supreme Court. To Clay, this is perfectly cromulent. It’s what he would do in the same situation, and it’s obvious that this is the solution to the problem. You just “destroy” the enemy. Pew-pew-pew!

Of course, Clay’s vision of how the world works is wrong. It is no more realistic or plausible than 1940s science fiction. But Clay has no other way of looking at the world and — this is critical — he is not interested in any other way of looking at the world. The facts of space travel/constitutional government are completely irrelevant to his worldview, and that’s the way he likes it.

Pew-pew-pew!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

For the last couple of months — and especially since the election — I have been reminded of a sci-fi short story I read in my youth. Thanks to my friends on Facebook: my bare recollection of the plot was enough for them to find the story for me: “The Men Return,” by Jack Vance.

In this story, Earth has entered a “pocket of non-causality,” and cause-and-effect no longer exist:

Far away rose low hills, blurring into the sky, which was mottled and sallow like poor milk-glass. The intervening plain spread like rotten velvet, black-green and wrinkled, streaked with ocher and rust. A fountain of liquid rock jetted high in the air, branched out into black coral. In the middle distance a family of gray objects evolved with a sense of purposeful destiny: spheres melted into pyramids, became domes, tufts of white spires, sky-piercing poles; then, as a final tour de force, tesseracts.

Needless to say, the Relicts, the survivors of humanity, are on their last legs. The Organisms, on the other hand, have adapted quite well:

Out on the plain one of the Organisms, Alpha, sat down, caught a handful of air, a globe of blue liquid, a rock, kneaded them together, pulled the mixture like taffy, gave it a great heave. It uncoiled from this hand like rope.

When you can manipulate matter, feeding yourself is not an issue, I suppose. It’s kind of like being rich.

Anyway, Finn is our hero Relict, and the action of the story involves him trying to find enough food to stay alive. I’ll spare you the details.

The reason this story popped up in my mind is how it ends: the Earth emerges from the pocket of non-causality, and the Organisms, who have spent the entire story as satisfied inhabitants of a Dali painting, are suddenly bollixed:

Alpha [who has had a vision of the future] cried, “Here is my intuition! It is exactly as I knew. The freedom is gone; the tightness, the constriction are back!”

“How will we defeat it?” asked another Organism.

“Easily,” said a third. “Each must fight a part of the battle. I  plant to hurl myself at the sun, and blot it from existence.” And he crouched, threw himself into the air. He fell on his back and broke his neck.

One of the other Organisms attempted to step across as crevasse twenty feet wide and disappeared into it; the other sat down, swallowed rocks to assuage his hunger, and presently went into convulsions.

And so forth.

The story is a lot clunkier than I remember it, and there’s a bit of Heroic Manly Manliness from Finn that is laughable now, but watching Trump voters these days reminds me of the Organisms and their plight: once cause and effect return, once verifiable and reliable reality rule the day, they cannot cope. They flee into QAnon, or the legal boondoggles of Lin Wood/Sidney Powell/Rudy Giuliani, or Parler, and they burrow into ever-narrowing concentric circles, ever-crazier theories about how they’re winning, going to win, eventually will win — and then we’ll all be sorry, KENNETH.

Pew-pew-pew!

What does it MEEEEEAN???

I don’t think I’ve blogged specifically about this, but, you guys, I seem to have a cosmic connection with the New York Times crossword puzzle. Multiple times in a week, either in the daily puzzle or the mega-collection of Sunday puzzles I amuse myself with of an evening (I’m on my second book, thank you very much), something will evince itself in my life that is a direct reference to a clue/answer in the very puzzle I am working on.

It’s bizarre. My Lovely First Wife  is the TV watcher in the family,  and as we sit watching The Crown or The Good Place or whatever hellish Hallmark holiday movie she’s binging, I’ll be working on  a puzzle in my recliner, and pop! as I work on a clue, it’s referenced in Holiday Princess or whatever the hell we’re watching.

Don’t believe me? This just happened and I came upstairs to blog about it.

This morning, a former neighbor dropped by with some fresh-baked bread and a few other things. One of the items in the bag, which she oddly did not mention, was this:

This is a dragon fruit. I knew what it was, but what I didn’t know is what to do with it.

So off I go to the intertubes to find out. First stop, Wikipedia, which alas was all scientific without any regard to those of us who had to consume the thing.

The only thing Wikipedia had to say was this:

Dragon fruit is used to flavor and color juices and alcoholic beverages, such as ‘Dragon’s Blood Punch’ and the ‘Dragotini.’

Alcoholic beverage, you say? Show me that footnote.

Small, Ernest (2011). Top 100 Exotic Food Plants. CRC Press. p. 105. ISBN 9781439856888. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.

I followed the link, which led to:

Did you get that?

An Ivan Dragotini.

Yes.

Well.

Today’s (Nov 25, 2020) New York Times crossword:

THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME TO ME.

What does it meeean???