Thoughts on drinks, cocktail culture, and other randomness

A year later…

Well, it’s been just over a year since I made my last blog post, where I talked about my personal favorite recipes for eggnog.  I’m indulging in a cup of said holiday cheer as I type this, in honor of that, and because ‘tis the season, after all.

I have all sorts of excuses for why I haven’t written here in so long; craziness at work as we went through a reorg, house hunting and moving, more craziness at work as I took over a new team, and another reorg.  Really though, it just comes down to losing steam, and having a hard time building it back up.  No promises that this won’t just be a false restart, but I’ll be aiming to post at least monthly here.


Despite my silence here for the last year, I’ve kept whipping up new cocktails, and enjoying old favorites.  Last January I put together a collection of eight original cocktails based on various nations for an in-play party hosted by one of the LARPs I am involved in, and offered flights for those that wanted to sample all eight but still be able to walk.  They all seemed to be a hit, as I spent the entire event frantically working behind the bar, with no time to even pour myself something until half way through the event.  I failed to get any photos, so I’ll be making and shooting those as part of the planned content for the coming year.


At another LARP related event during the summer, I was asked to provide recipes for some of my greatest hits, so that they could be served at a catered event.  I have to say, it was a bit of surreal experience seeing the bar staff making my drinks, but it was incredibly satisfying.  Some of the drinks were from the new set of eight, but one was my old favorite, the Epi, which as expected was a big hit and the first drink we had to 86 when we ran out of the ingredients.


As I mentioned earlier, the year has had some pretty crazy moments, the biggest of which was when my wife and I purchased our first house together.  We moved in a little over a month ago, and I’ve just now gotten my bar unpacked beyond the couple random bottles I pulled out along the ways for much needed post moving cocktails.  Our house is wonderful, and just about perfect for us, though I will continue to lament that at some point in the past the previous owners tore out a wetbar original to the late 70’s home and replaced it with a giant walk in cedar closet off the living room.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, the extra storage is great, but I could have had a wet bar!

I hope that all of you out there have had a good year, and are enjoying the holidays, and that you’re doing so with a nice cup of cheer.  I hope that you’ll be joining me here for a new year of recipes, musings, and fun.  Now, I’m off to enjoy this drink and settle in by the fire.


It’s been awfully quiet here…

It’s been a few weeks since my last post here, and I apologize for the lack of new content.  I owe you all the next in the Essentials series, the entry on liqueurs, and I’ve actually slated some time this weekend to work on that post.  I think some of the delay can be chalked up to how much of a task getting the essential liquors post put together was, at least getting it to a point where I was happy with it.  That said, I won’t keep you waiting too much longer.

It’s also been quiet as I’ve been on a bit of beer kick lately, and while I’m nearly as passionate about beers as I am cocktails, that’s not what this blog is about.  I promise, I’ll get back to drinking hard liquor as soon as possible, but they tend to frown on doing so here at the office.

In the past weeks I have had a couple opportunities to share some of my creations with friends as various gatherings.  I told myself that I would make sure to take pictures, but between mixing drinks and trying to get some socializing in, I failed to do so.  I’m always excited and more than a little nervous when I make any of my original recipes for people for the first time.  I know that I like the drink, but everyone has a different palate and different preferences, and what may be a hit in my mind is too bitter, or too sweet, or too complicated for someone else.  Luckily, I have some very supportive friends who have been more than happy to indulge me and try some of my drinks, and so far they seemed to have been well received.  Recently, I made a few Jack Rackhams, The Isis, and Sioux City Coolers for some friends who were kind enough to have me and my darling wife over, as well as some of the other guests.  They all seemed to be well liked, with the Jack Rackham being the surprise favorite of the night.  I’m not much of a rum drinker these days, but I was happy to find that this one found favor both amongst avowed rum fans and those that don’t typically drink the spirit, which is great measure of success for me.

At another gathering, I shared around the Sioux City Cooler I had made for myself (as this has quickly become one of my favorite hot weather drinks), and got some good reactions there as well.  That night, the best was getting to make The Preacher for a friend whose character is the namesake and inspiration for that particular cocktail.  Big smile, followed quickly by a second belt from his glass was a hugely satisfying validation.

Finally, I’ve owed another friend a tastes of a couple drinks I wasn’t able to make her at the first gathering, and was able to make good on that promise a couple weeks ago with The Briarpatch, which seemed to be right up her alley.

That’s one of my favorite things about making drinks for people; trying to figure out, based on what I know about them, something that they will like, as well as something that I think speaks to them, or of them.  It’s a funny little esoteric thought, I suppose, being able to capture a personality in a drink, but it’s immensely fulfilling when it works out.  It’s also very nerve-wracking when I can’t work it out, but then, those experiences help me for the next try.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be at Dragon*Con, a yearly tradition for me for the last 19 years.  I’ve missed a couple years in that time, regrettably, but I always look forward to the Con, and spending several days geeking out, seeing good friends, from across the country, and the world, at this point.  Dragon*Con is also a time where the drinks run freely, and so I’m getting ready to make the choices of what I’ll be bringing for my personal bar.  Last year saw me bringing entirely too many bottles; a couple cases of various spirits in addition to a cooler full as well, as I was making a dozen or so new recipes for signature drinks for a group of friends.  This year, I’ll be reeling things in a bit, though I’ll still no doubt end up bringing more than I’m anticipating right now.  Perhaps, you’ll see some shots here of some Experiments from the Bar in the wild, but we shall see…


Things to come

I’ve been thinking about what the next series of planned posts will be, and wanted to run through the options get some feedback on what you’d like to see next. So, without further ado, here are some of potential post topics:

  • Building Your Home Bar: glassware basics – a run down of the few indispensable pieces of glassware needed for most major cocktails, and why glass choice matters.
  • Breakfast of Champions – a series of breakfast cocktails, from my personal recipe for the venerable and ubiquitous Bloody Mary to lesser known pre-lunch libations, including some riffs and an original recipe or two.
  • Building Your Home Bar: essential spirits – a list of the key liquors  and liqueurs to purchase to get your bar started, with specific brand suggestions for solid choices that won’t break the bank.
  • The Vault – I’ve been putting together original recipes for years now, and shared a good number in the past on my personal Facebook account, with quick recipes and snapshots taken with my phone.  There are several gems that I’d love to share here with updated, higher quality pictures, and perhaps refinements on the recipes with commentary on how it evolved and why.
  • Classic & Riff – this will be a reoccurring format, with a post of a classic cocktail followed by a riff on it, demonstrating how a simple change in an existing recipe can create a completely different drink.
  • Reader’s Choice: pick your poison – A huge fan of Drambuie?  Never had a taste for gin but want to give it a shot?  Can’t get enough of basil?  This would be a segment where I’d take a request to come up with something using a particular ingredient, and create cocktail highlighting it.
  • Character Cocktails: fan drink service – I’m a big old geek, and I bet a bunch of you are too!  I’ve designed drinks based on characters from a couple LARPs that I play for the amusement and edification of other players.  I have a dozen or so that will eventually make it onto the blog, but I’d love to put together some recipes based on some of your favorite characters from movies, TV shows, books or comics.


So, dear readers, what do you think?  I’ll get to all the topics eventually, but what would you like to see next?  If you have ideas you’d like to see for the last three (Classic & Riff, Reader’s Choice, or Character Cocktails), please post them here.  Is there some other idea that you’d think would make a great post or series?  Leave a comment and let me know!