Monday, February 16, 2009

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MxMo XXXVI: Hard Drinks for Hard Times—The Round Up

RULE #1:
Skip anything packaged in plastic.
These aren’t the desperate times of college.

~ Hanky Panky

The proposal before us for MxMo XXXVI:
If your 401(k) has taken a beating, or if you or a spouse or friend have been laid off, or if you’re simply hanging on to your wallet for dear life, you’ve probably given some thought to how the economy is affecting your basic expenditures—such as those you make for booze. Here’s a chance to share how you’re drinking during the downturn; whether it’s affordable booze, ways you’re cutting corners, or things you’ve figured out how to mix or make on the cheap, we need to hear it.

The results are in. Mixology Monday has drawn to another successful close. No pruno (barely). No Canned Heat Cocktails, no toilet merlot. Lots of wisdom and insight on saving, scrimping, and otherwise adjusting one's drinking habits as we come to grips with this unfolding recession (and a few jackass remarks because, after all, we're liquor writers and we enjoy heckling each other).

If I've missed your post, if it's somehow slipped between the cracks, please shoot me an email with a link and a photo and we'll get your post up.

With no further preamble, here's the rundown of all the contributions submitted to date for MxMo XXXVI: Hard Drinks for Hard Times:

Out of alphabetical order because he was first out of the gate, I give you Ben Carter who—23.7 seconds after I announced the rules to Mixology Monday XXXVI—threw down Benito's Original Meyer Lansky Cocktail over at Benito's Wine Reviews. I don't mean to glorify criminal activity, Carter writes, but then goes on to suggest the ideal garnish would be a poker chip with a slot sawed into it so you can stick it on the rim of the glass. I bet it is. I just bet it is.

Now, on to the Round Up:

Nat Harry (that's the Alpha Cook to you) rustles up The Bailout. Like a lot of savvy shoppers, Nat's been hitting the Trader Joe's. "A lot of savvy shoppers" = "rowley." The 80/20 rule seems to apply to TJ's product quality: 80% of it is decent-to-great while 20% is just gawd awful. I've seen the same Rear Admiral Joseph’s London Dry Gin recently and have been tempted. Really? $7.99 for 750ml? At that price, I could almost wash my car with it...Once I start buying liquor again, that is.

Kevin at Beers in the Shower (and, come on, who among us hasn't enjoyed a refreshing barley pop in the shower after a harrowing day/night?) gives us the Cheap Bastard with glassware from the Old Spaghetti Factory. Snicker all you like, but Kevin makes serious points in offering tips for drinking on less and concludes with a heartfelt plea not to abandon the bartenders who are so good to us: please continue to go out and support your bars. Tip well and enjoy the bar experience for what it is. Hear, hear.

I've been seeing more mentions of the SodaStream in the last few months. pings it again and gets clever with Soft Drinks for Hard Times. When you live in a town with great tap water, carbonating your own is smart savings (sorry Philly and Boston, just keep buying the bottled stuff). Adding fancy homemade syrups? Very tempting...

Steve Schul and Paul Zablocki over at Cocktail Buzz share tips for getting through hard times (hint: it involves paper towel squeezin’s, highballs, and arriving at their pad with a bottle of booze). Boys, next time I’m back in Brooklyn, I’ll be happy to bring the booze. Is whiskey ok? I’ll even bring the engarnishments.

Irish diplomacy has been defined as the ability to tell a man to go to hell so that he looks forward to the trip. Paul Clarke may well have studied statesmanship of an Irish tenor when coming up with this month's Cheapskate Cocktail ($4.70 per serving) for himself while plying visitors with an Unwelcome Houseguest (a paltry $1.76) at the Cocktail Chronicles. Kingsley Amis would have been delighted at the subterfuge. Take Amis' notions for stiffing guests in the Swiftian Modest Proposal sense they were meant and there's some damn good ideas for entertaining, regardless of one's financial situation.

Reese Lloyd breaks out the dollar menu G&T at Cocktail Hacker. A dollar, you ask, for a gin & tonic? Not value enough for you? How'd you like 17¢ back? That's right, Reese reckons he can crank out 83¢ Recession G&Ts. He asks: So how hard is this cocktail going to hit your wallet?...It’s going to be like a kitten falling on a pile of pillows.

Frederic reports that the gang over at Cocktail Virgin Slut broke out the Tanqueray and Heinies for beer-inspired takes on not one, but four champagne cocktails: the Dutch (fomerly French) 75, the Air Mail, the Sea Captain's Special, and the Black Cherry Champagne Cocktail. I’m not 100% sold on the Heineken Light (didn’t Dennis Hopper murmur something about that in Blue Velvet?), but for a willingness to experiment and good humor, I award 350 points to the sluts. Ya’ll’ve been very bad. Now go straight to my bar.

Cocktailwelten: Ein Blog uber Neuigkeiten in der Welt der Cocktails, Barkultur, und Spirituosen: Chris, a longtime MxMo contributor, laughs off the current international economic slump from the comfort of Germany with sloe gin, rum, and apricot brandy in a deliciously contrarian Millionaire Cocktail. Darauf erhebe ich mein Glas: Prost!

Colonel Tiki's Drinks & Indigo Firmaments. Babies...ain’t cheap, Craig admits. With the arrival of Sebastian Milton Felix, we have all the more reason to celebrate, recession be damned. Seems like Colonel Tiki is laying in a supply of homemade Southern, uh, Home Comfort Liqueur...for when Sebastian reaches his majority. Oh, who are we kidding? It'll be gone long before that. But the recipe will be around for all of posterity. Well, done, sir. Now go make your lovely wife a cocktail.

Michael Dietsch is about to start his fourth year publishing the blog A Dash of Bitters. Good on you, man. I've had a soft spot for Dietsch since he interviewed me as part of the leadup to Tales of the Cocktail last year and I realized what kindred spirits we are. And now our work situations are looking eerily similar since his freelance gigs dried up. Ever resourceful, he's cobbled together his Recession Sling (using whatever the fuck I had on hand already). Turns out we mix the same, too, even down to the Bulleit. And the potty mouth.

UPDATE 2/20: Drink of the Week. Jonas! I'm so sorry to have missed your post the first time around. Mea culpa—It seems the more blogs I tried to capture, the most just slipped through my fingers. I blame lack of sleep and a penchant for lame Star Wars references. Your sensible comments on frugal shopping are well-taken. Shopping at Costco, BevMo, and the supermarket are all fantastic notions. I'd add drugstores to that. Few rare bottles show up, but midrange spirits can sometimes go on sale at startlingly low prices. And this: Staying home doesn’t need to mean drinking alone, invite friends over...a perfect sentiment. It's easy to forget that our friends are some of our dearest assets. Cheers.

ednbrg: Jon has me thinking of blended Scotch before breakfast Monday morning. Those of you who know me know that’s about as likely as my idly musing over Margaret Thatcher’s Sunday knickers. Since I haven't got a single bottle of Scotch whisky around the house, I’m taking notes on his Highland Bramble with me when I head out next to the local spot most likely to have crème de mure. And, Jon? Points for combining egg whites and Monkey Shoulder…

Felicia’s Speakeasy. A post that stopped me in my tracks with a single quote: when we are forced to return to a simpler, self-sufficient life, who is going to make our booze? You, baby, you. And Leah. Must be something about upstate New York that incites my friends there to work on homemade hooch and hard cider. The homemade airlocks, the gallon jugs—the mother!—all look so strangely familiar. John Chapman would be proud.

Jacob Grier's vodka bar is shovel-ready and, as he boldly claims, he is ready to stimulate the shit out of this economy. Go, go, go! And hats off for posting the Horatio, the first contribution calling for aquavit, and made entirely from on-hand ingredients.

Hey, mistah! Throw me a cocktail! Chuck Taggart gives us the $1.19 Mardi Gras Sour over at the Gumbo Pages, a whiskey sour using Old Grand-Dad and—gasp—falernum. Here it is Tuesday morning, the sun's not even up and I'm letting the tastes play in my mind already. It's distractingly tempting. I just happen to have some OGD and falernum (values both), but I bet that if I wait just a few more days I can order one at the Swizzle Stick. Just in time for Mardi Gras in situ.

Jimmy's Cocktail Hour proprietor Jimmy Patrick emailed me a note: Hi Matt, I've got a $1.25 cocktail. Well I'll be damned and so he does. Jimmy's become a fan of ultra-affordable Pikesville Rye Whiskey and uses it to create The "$1.25" Old Fashioned ($1.26 really, but who's counting?). Think of it, he writes, as a small stimulus package. And so we shall.

Liquor is Quicker (but channeling Edward G. Robinson is more funner) gets all academic with a discussion of rye whiskey, then breaks out the Rittenhouse Bonded 100 proof for a Tombstone #2 (with Apologies to Dave Wondrich). No apologies necessary in my book. I’m sure the fictional instance of Wondrich would agree...and might even be your huckleberry.

God bless those ladies at LUPEC-Boston. With a simplicity that makes me beam, Pink Lady emailed me to throw down the tastiest gauntlet I can spy directly from the temporary office of my Heywood Wakefield coffee table: Hanky Panky's suggestion of 12-year Old Fitzgerald bourbon. [I]n honor of hard times and salty broads, they suggest we grab a bottle, pour a shot, and raise our glasses to Helen "Dirty Helen" Cromwell. Look it up. She deserves it.

Now, I'm not married (hey, thanks, Salt Lake!), but I am a big fan of dinner. And so, when Anita over at Married...with Dinner cranks out a batch of Ward 8 cocktails in her post Recession Proof, I pay heed. Her tips for drinking smart in these times—switch your allegiance, share the love, think small and several more—tap a vein of common sense that seems to run through the hard-times theme. Making your own grenadine and home-preserved cherries helps, too.

Michael (My Aching Head) reminds me what what it was like being a student with a limited budget in the first place: drinking cheap is something I’ve become pretty accustomed to. There were undergraduate days (mostly Wednesdays) when my entire caloric intake was a pound of fettucine alfredo and a bottle of chardonnay. Couldn't have been more than $4 total. Must be why I favor red wines now. Michael turns to Europe and proposes both rough-knuckled calimocho (red wine and cola) and that Dijonaise hometown favorite, the kir. Wicked hangovers are a'brewing, but not bad choices on a student's budget.

Morsels & Musings: From Sydney, Australia (where summer is in high gear), Anna kicks in Peach & Ginger Punch, all redolent with ginger beer, ginger syrup, peach nectar, and rum. Watch out, Anna ~ those innocuous peach slices brimming with health-giving properties should pack a sneaky wallop after sufficient rest.

A Mountain of Crushed Ice: As there are some tunes you can hear while reading music, there are some tastes you can savor by reading a recipe. Just so with Tiare’s Jamaican-inspired Life Saver that breaks out the Ting and J. Wray & Nephew (its cheap, its gooood and tasty! she taunts). I know this tune. Meet me at Tales this summer and I’ll hum in a few bars for you…

I was waiting—just waiting—for someone to bring up that champagne of beers, Miller High Life. Lance Mayhew, the only free market capitalist left, is in need of a drink and does not disappoint. In Philly, the $3 special was a PBR and shot of Jack. Mayhew sweetens it up and mellows it out a bit, inspired by nostalgia for Sacramento's Torch Club by calling for a shot of vanilla-infused Jack Daniel's with a MHL back while contemplating the turndown over at My Life on the Rocks. It might not solve my problems, he writes, but for a few minutes at least, a beer and a shot is exactly what I need during hard times.

RumDood breaks out the Sailor Jerry spiced rum for his Shortfall Punch. [W]hen times are tough, the Dood tells us, if can get a full handle of superior rum for only a dollar more than the market leader, then you have to do that. Though he didn't use the entire handle in one drink, it sounds like a bunch of it went into developing this one. I don't trust everyone's cocktails (not even my own), but I like the Dood's style and if I had any Sailor Jerry's around, the Shortfall Punch would soar to the top of my must-try column.

Scofflaw's Den, Marshall and SeanMike's paean to the drink, is always a good read. It's got cigars, cocktails, and musings on food that keep me coming back. Did I mention cigars? For MxMo XXXVI, Marshall posted two cocktails: The Gloom Chaser and the CEO Cocktail. I've often opined that if one cannot obtain good things (cream, butter, bacon, fine spirits, and Cohibas), one ought to just do without their wan doppelgängers (skim milk, margarine, turkey bacon, bottom-shelf spirits, and "It's a Boy!" stogies). The CEO sounds lovely. Does it come with a golden parachute?

Holy dueling bangos! Two authors, two posts, and two cute cats (Master Shake? Seriously? Love it). Unable to leave well enough alone, SeanMike at Scofflaw's Den throws his hat in the ring with Orangin and Tonic. Home-carbonated diet tonic water, Jacquin’s Orange Flavored Gin (his review: It’s orange-y, it’s about 66 proof, and you know what, it was like $3 for a pint of it) and Angostura orange bitters.

Oh, Sloshed! Can we ever have enough of your boozy ways? Come sit next to me on the hooch wagon. As an unrepentant kitchen DIYer myself, Marleigh's four homemade syrups (Cold-Process Grenadine, Lillikoi, Ginger, and Vanilla) struck an immediate chord. The only one I don't have is the Lillikoi, but once back from New Orleans, I'm on it. Plus, bulk cheapo vanilla pods is a nice touch to the overall money-saving scheme.

Our favorite Tipsy Texan discovered a way to refuel one tired-ass krewe by retooling his Matagalpa Cocktail (at $3.90 per serving) into a Manchaca Cocktail for a mere $1.08. With all due respect to my friends in Louisiana and Pennsylvania, Texans know a thing or two about drinking. And if one is so kind as to recommend Flor de Caña, Paula's Texas Orange, and lime, then, partner, I'm in.

Trader Tiki cuts to the chase with his Chauncey Cocktail: This is an all-boozer; time is money and I haven’t the time to waste on mixers when spirits are in need of lifting. Muchos Mahalos, Blair! Rye, Gin, Brandy, Vermouth—sounds like WC Fields' shopping list. On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia...with one of these in my hand.

Triddlywinks, a home distiller I’m pleased to know and whose malt whiskey is just a fine addition to any liquor cabinet, nonetheless horrified me with his Absinthe Spork from the Wormwood Society thread “If Rednecks Drank Absinthe.” I’d never really wondered what absinthe in a go-cup would look like until Trid peeled the louche from my eyes. T, one assume the absinthe is homemade as well?

Stevi Deter at Two at the Most rolls out the big guns. Well, the 75mm canon anyway. Check that, the gin-and-champagne drink named for the French 75mm (or is that ml?) canon which she deems infinitely drinkable. Squeezing 10-12 cocktails per bottle of bubbly lands this one smack dab in the affordable category, despite its chi-chi reputation. Like its ballastic namesake, this champagne cocktail could leave devastation in the aftermath of its application, but with only two—at most—what's the harm?

The Wild Drink Blog has gotten into the spirit of evolution, inspired undoubtedly by the recent 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday. It seems Tristan got gotten bitten by the homebrew bug. While his novice batch of home-brewed beer is not cocktail mixology, it's in the right spirit and gives me hope. Beer, as many a home distiller knows, is the gateway beverage to stouter beverages. Once one has down the hang of grains and yeast and sparging, whiskey is not far behind. When that day comes, Tristan, you come track me down. Meanwhile, relax, don't worry ~ and have a homebrew.

And, finally...there's me. Yeah, so I got laid off. As a former museum curator and unrepentant collector, I'd accumulated a liquor cabinet that was gettin' too big anyway. Commingling frugality and a little (probably misunderstood) zen, I came up with a scheme to drink only liquor we already had in the house and to know that liquor very well. Turns out this is a fantastic way to manage the liquor cabinet and the fridge. This week's pantry raid yields The North Park Cocktail.



Anonymous said...

Excellent round-up, Rowley! And some great looking posts; going to have fun reading everybody's!

Anita (Married... with dinner) said...

Usually my eyes glaze over about 2/3 of the way through, but your pithy prose and well-timed pullquotes had me captivated. Seriously fabulous roundup chock full of bright ideas.

Anonymous said...

Real nice round up Rowley! this is like a box of candy for me, will keep me busy more than a week;-)

Anonymous said...

Great round up and great posts all. I now have 13 tabs open all needing to be read. There goes my work day. :D

Colonel Tiki said...

Great Job, Mr. Rowley. We'd all rich with friends like you.

frederic said...

Thank you for hosting and for choosing a great theme that got people thinking and being creative!

the barkeep said...

Hi Rowley

You missed this one.



KL said...

Thanks for handling the round up. Its been a while since I've heard anyone say barley pop lol.

nerdling said...

A superb job, Mr. Rowley! Tell me, what sort of booze do we have on this hooch wagon? I could use a drink...

Anonymous said...

To answer your question, yes it is :)

Anna (Morsels and Musings) said...

love the round-up.
such wit! such humour!

Michelle said...

I smiled through the entire read! Wish I could have joined in but maybe next time.

Matthew Rowley said...

Ya'll ~ I have been absolutely SLAMMED this week with work (not such a bad thing, eh?) and have neglected answering your notes and comments. Thank you one and all for the kind words: this truly was such a fun project to coordinate. I did make me just a little fried once I hit that "submit" button, but I'm up for it again...say...August 2011?

Matthew Rowley said...

Jonas! I'm sorry to have missed your post. It's in there now, highlighted in red to spotlight my jackass move for failing to include it Tuesday. Are we square, brother?

Shawn said...

A fantastic post Matt, but I must point out one ever so minor correction. The good ol' Philly special (of B and B and Trident fame) was a can of PBR and a shot of Jim, not Jack. Personally, I've still been stuck on the wagon till the new edition arrives!

Matthew Rowley said...

Shawn ~

A shot of Jim, a shot of Jack. In a dimly-lit dive bar with jars of homemade beef jerky on the counter, deep-fried Oreos on the menu, moonshine if you knew who to ask (with Orange Crush), and rough-and-tumble Thursday drag queens who could probably kick my ass to curb for raising an eyebrow, which brand is which really is besides the point, don't you find?. At $3 per special, a mere $30 could set one up for the evening (one must tip, after all).

Or were they deep-fried Hydox on the menu?

Matthew Rowley said...

Oh, and, Shawn ~ Once the new edition arrives, is settled in, and you're back up on the booze wagon with me, Marleigh, and the rest of this crew, let's plan on further explorations of the beer-n-shot specials out west of the Rockies, eh?

Well, to the extent that fatherhood allows. Pedialyte with a formula back isn't quite the tipple I've got in mind...

LUPEC Boston said...

Thanks for a lovely roundup Sir Rowley! And lest anyone think the ladies of LUPEC are too persnickety, we are huge fans of all of the Old Fitz products. Right now I'm curled up with a bottle of the 1849. And if I've had a hard day and you hand me a bottle of the Old Fitz Bonded I'll become the happiest broad in town!
Cin Cin!
Hanky Panky