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2014 Comes To Those Who Wait

2 Jan

bubblesHappy New Year! If you’re one of the few people who is actually reading this blog, THANK YOU. If you’re the person who has asked us how to buy wine without going broke, JUST WAIT ONE MORE WEEK OR SO. We will have something for you. We will have something just as good as the Louise d’Estree Brut NV, which I used to make the cocktails in the picture. I also drank some of it by itself, and have I got some news for you! It tastes nice! The bubbles are small and plentiful, and what little sweetness it has is fruity and a little acidic. Asti it ain’t. For $8 at Trader Joe’s, it was a very pleasant and very affordable way to ring in 2014. To thank you for your patience, here’s a champagne cocktail recipe that can also be made in a very tasty low-alcohol version with sparkling cider instead of sparkling wine.

Traditional champagne cocktails call for dropping a bitters-soaked sugar cube in the bottom of the glass, adding a bit of cognac, and topping with champagne. Cognac is fun for me when I fly Air France, but otherwise, it’s not my thing. Here’s the recipe; I hope you’ve had a recent refresher on logic operators:

Champagne flute
sparkling wine or sparkling apple cider
generous dash of vanilla cordial or cake-flavored vodka
Angostura bitters
orange peel
(IFF you are using cake vodka) a sugar cube

In the bottom of the flute, put either a generous dash of vanilla cordial and a couple of drops of bitters, OR a sugar cube with a couple of drops of bitters on it and a generous dash of cake vodka.
Then, top with champagne or sparkling cider.
Then add an orange twist. I should probably make a tutorial for this, as I had no idea what this was all about until recently. For now, just know that you twist the piece of orange peel over the glass, and then you drop it in.

Then you drink! Here’s the lowdown on the bubbly:

Louise d’Estree Brut NV
Rating:
Deliciousness: *** (great for cocktails)
Social Anxiety Soothing: **
Table Dancing Probability: 45% (Sparkling wine is always a celebratory affair.)

Trader Joe’s, $8

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The best beer I’d never noticed

25 Aug

Kate and I drank these Tsingtao beers and ate hot pot and were hungover the next morning…from the hot pot.

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Melanie and Kate tested, Jesse approved.

I’m finding myself really attracted to crisp, light lager-type beers lately. I think it’s the oppressive end-of-summer heat (although the night pictured was distinctly autumnal). Or maybe it’s the heavy food I’m gravitating toward right now. Either way, all I really want to drink is something light and beery that won’t make me think too much about flavor profiles or hoppiness or mouthfeel. I want it to be there, in a bottle or a glass, to wash down the scallop and noodles that I’ve just cooked in boiling chili oil with Sichuan flower pepper and dunked in sesame-peanut-chili-soy-scallion-garlic sauce. Tsingtao does this with aplomb.

Rating:
Deliciousness: ****
Social Anxiety Soothing: *
Table Dancing Probability: 1% (You try dancing on a table with a giant well of boiling chili oil in the middle of it.)

Not drinking is okay.

23 Aug

That would probably be rule #1 of Booze Therapy, if we had rules like Fight Club. You can talk about Booze Therapy all you want, though…talking is important.

Anyway, the new man I mentioned in my last post doesn’t drink. I, on the other hand, occasionally contribute to a blog called “Booze Therapy,” for chrissakes. So you know what’s great about that? It doesn’t matter.  I do drink a bit less than I used to, but I don’t necessarily drink less often. Part of this is because my man doesn’t drink. But certainly, part of it is because I’m so much happier now that my life is different, I don’t think it’s necessary to engage with alcohol as more than an epicure.

Not drinking is okay. In fact, I think Kate and Christie are cooking up a post about their recent cross-country road trip, during which no booze was consumed at all.

ouzo

Never pictured it quite like this…

However, I did promise a post about ouzo. That’s a picture of the ouzo I drank on Santorini. I think my love affair with Greece started with a brief love affair with a Greek boy, back in my formative years. He used to write poetry about his idyllic summers in the Cyclades, and I hung onto every word like a bee on honey. (Yes, Internet. I have a type, and that type is “sensitive artists.” So sue me.)

Here’s a little something I wrote a couple years ago about that particular little (fruitless as usual) high school crush:

Then there was the Greek statue, the tall, lean muscled man-boy who looked as though he rubbed his skin with olives every day. Her wildest fantasies were his memories, cliff-dives and ouzo and making love for the first time on a black sand beach, speeding through all the necessary touches because he was afraid that the girl’s father might discover them. He had a particular knack for admiring her from afar, and he took care to make sure that she noticed it. She would not have gotten tired of the furtive glances, the words of his favorite love poems recited cautiously in her presence.

Right. So…I mentioned ouzo in this rumination because he talked about drinking it (even though we were all just high school kids then), and for some reason, I pictured drinking it out of something like an obsidian sake set. Actually, that was the exact thing I pictured, even though I’d never even seen a sake set back then (although I did know what sake was because I liked anime).

Flash forward 15 or 16 years, and I suddenly find myself on Santorini, staring out over the sparkling blue expanse of the Aegean, where I have just gone swimming with my boyfriend, two nurses from Boston University, and countless European tourists who either didn’t care that the path to the swimming area between the cliffs was marked “DO NOT ENTER, DANGEROUS FALLING ROCKS” or perhaps just didn’t know because the warning wasn’t printed in their language. I am living the life I dreamed of at that particular moment of youthful folly and holy crap this restaurant has ouzo and I’ll be damned if I don’t order some.

Imagine my surprise when it came to the table and looked like that, all creamy white and in a little glass with ice! Of course, by this point in my life, I’m familiar with absinthe and other such beverages, so when I taste it, I’m no longer surprised at the presentation. The weather is a balmy 78 degrees or so, with a warm, salted breeze coming in off the water. Although I expect things flavored with anise to be heavy because they are intense, this is light and refreshing. I don’t know why I never pictured ouzo with ice in a glass, but now I know I will never picture it any other way again.

I think back on the time in my life when everything was a delightful mystery, and while I have some nostalgia for that, I also relish the pleasure that only knowledge can bring. If I were being really heavy about this, I’d say something pithy about the fruit of knowledge, but this is a drinking blog. And not just any drinking blog–it’s a drinking blog where not drinking is okay. So…do what you want! Enjoy life.

Of mythological proportions…

21 Aug
This is beer. It is cheap in Athens because there isn't any work there. Look out, "The Economist"...here comes Booze Therapy!

This is beer. It is cheap in Athens because there isn’t any work there. Look out, “The Economist”…here comes Booze Therapy!

Holy crap it’s a new post!

I have hereby come to the conclusion that either my life is a telenovela, or it’s been way too long since I last updated this blog. Since my last post, I’ve moved to a different state, gotten divorced, changed offices, found a new man, had a crisis of “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?” and decided to go on vacation in Greece. This post is a little bit about that vacation.

So, basically, I’d always pictured myself as a cool, jet-setting world traveler. Then I sat at home and watched while all my friends who actually were cool, jet-setting world travelers went on adventures. Then I met and fell in love with a guy who, if he tattooed the list of countries he’d visited or lived in on his arm, he’d run out of arm well before he ran out of countries. And I was like, “What the hell am I doing with my life? What can I write about if all I see are my home, my office, and the inside of a Metro car day in and day out?” We’d had a road trip to New England planned, but not booked yet. The morning after my little personal crisis, I told my man that we were canning that trip and going to Italy or Greece instead. Of those, he picked Greece, so I guess Italy’s next on the list.

My well-traveled man hates flying, actually. So by the time we got to Athens, he was a little cranky, we were both exhausted and starving, and even though I wanted to fully embrace the opportunity to stuff myself with recession-priced Greek delicacies, I knew I also wanted a Greek beer. The one I drank is pictured at right. They have this beer stateside, too, but it’s what they had at the taverna in our neighborhood. Plus, it has a crisp, light, pleasant flavor that didn’t compete with the giant feast we’d ordered. AND, as an added bonus, it came in a 16-oz. bottle. The winner was me. I can also write a bit about ouzo, but I think I’ll save that for another post.

I recommend this beer.

Rating:
Deliciousness: ****
Social Anxiety Soothing: *
Table Dancing Probability: 1% (I think jet lag somehow fixed it so that I was not tipsy in the slightest after consuming this beer. It was either that, or the massive quantities of excellent, heavy food I consumed while drinking it.)

P.S. If you happen to have commented on this blog, oh, say, last year…asking for wine-buying tips for people who want to drink good wine without going broke…don’t worry! We heard you. We’ll think about this and get a post up.

I went out and drank a cocktail…

18 Jul

…and it came in a jar.

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So, for a little bit of shameless self-promotion…I have a play up at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival. It’s called A Year of Giving, and it’s the inspirational true story of an unemployed man’s plan to give away $10 a day for a year. It’s at the Goethe-Institut Gallery down in Chinatown, and it’s getting some decent reviews so far. You should check it out.

After seeing that last night, some friends and I went to Bar Louie. That’s where I got the above cocktail, which was called the Mason/Dixon and was Sweet Tea vodka, lemon vodka, tea, simple syrup, and a lemon wedge. It was decently strong, but holy crap, it was SO sweet. Right after I squeezed the lemon in, the flavor reminded me of eating powdered iced tea from the canister (which I used to do because I was a total sugar fiend in my past life). It was good once I let the ice melt for a while.

Rating:
Deliciousness: ***
Social Anxiety Soothing: **
Table Dancing Probability: 5% (The music was, admittedly, bumpin’…who wouldn’t get down to late-90’s high-school dance tracks??…but seriously, I would have needed all the rest of the drinks I had that night to start dancing there.)

Bar Louie (DC, Chinatown)
701 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
http://www.barlouieamerica.com

Wish I were there! But since I’m not…

12 Sep

One of my co-bloggers lives in New England, and I will say right now that I am jealous. For me, the perfect meal for any kind of warm day is crispy fried clam strips and a lemonade (mostly because I wasn’t old enough for beer when I actually lived in New England). When night or fall’s cool breezes start to chill, the same meal is fine with the addition of clam chowder. The real stuff, not the bullshit paste stuff that most places sell. Seriously.

Allagash White Ale

This was delicious!

Anyway, there aren’t too many places you can get good New England-style seafood down here. I now live in the state that considers Old Bay a way of life. As with many other things, I think I’m probably in the minority in my dislike of the stuff. My Google search for “wtf is with Old Bay?” didn’t yield any results. The point of this particular rant was that you often get a hearty dose of Old Bay whenever you order any kind of seafood dish in this state. And that sucks.

HOWEVER, there is a place in Bethesda that is catering directly to me and other New England transplants. I’ve been there twice now, and will go again this week if certain people who don’t even know this blog exists decide to have our band practice in Bethesda. *ahem*

For happy hour, they have a couple of great deals: 1) you buy a lobster roll (tasty!) and get a draft beer for $2.50, and 2) an order of fried wholebelly clams and a really nice can of beer for $10. I didn’t get the clam deal because I am a surprisingly picky eater. (I didn’t choose what the clam ate, so I don’t really want to eat what the clam ate secondhand.)  They do have clam strips, though, and I plan on asking if I can get the deal with them, next time. I got the buttered lobster roll, and this lovely glass of Allagash White Ale. You can see Beer Advocate’s rating, but I will also rate it: Maine beer. Tastes like spices. Goes with lobster. Love it.

Rating:
Deliciousness: *****
Social Anxiety Soothing: **
Table Dancing Probability: 3% (fear of falling into the lobster pool should keep your feet on the ground)

Freddy’s Lobster and Clams
4867 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814
http://www.freddyslobster.com

The truth is, I like cocktails.

6 Sep

So when I talk about “dressing my truth” (I am not even going to link to it…but I’ll go ahead and Google it for you: http://tinyurl.com/4444f7d), I am talking about dressing for cocktails.

As Mad Men tells us (and I know I believe everything that Don Draper says), there was a time in our country’s great history when people drank so much that the only way you could differentiate between during-work drinking and after-work drinking was by the outfits people were wearing.

Cocktail Attire

Gratuitous photo of me wearing a fancy dress and gloves and holding a martini (photo credit: KH--thanks, doll!)

Most days, I wholeheartedly believe that we, as a society, should still be doing this. I mean, maybe it’s better that we aren’t sipping Dewar’s on the rocks to get through that tough 2:00pm meeting, but we could definitely treat cocktail outings as dress-up occasions. This is how I feel when I think about the burgeoning (or fully-burgeoned, perhaps?) cocktail culture we have here in DC. For those who have not heard, craft bartending is kind of a big deal in this town. There are plenty of speakeasy-style cocktail joints here that you can visit if you want fresh exotic juices, house-infused specialty bitters, and perfectly cubic crystal clear ice cubes. There are also lots of regular old bars (usually tucked away in fine restaurants or hotels) with seasoned barmasters, all pushing the envelope with cocktail recipes as a matter of course.  

If there are so many people out there making beautiful cocktails, shouldn’t we be out there looking beautiful while we drink them?

Of course, this line of reasoning can lead straight to laments on the “casualization” of America (which is what we have to thank for this, this, and THIS) and/or to something even more esoteric, like the skirt and heels as the shackles of female subjugation. (I don’t make this shit up, people…it’s just something I may or may not have heard when I was in graduate school.)  

Then there are the days when I just want to drink in my Snuggie. I am aware that it would be considered gauche (at the very least) to take it out to bars, but there’s no earthly reason why I shouldn’t be able to throw my Snuggie on over my ratty jeans and old college t-shirt and use my warm-yet-mobile arms to mix a cocktail in the comfort of my own home. Right? Right?? Well, when I really think about it…if I’m going through the trouble of mixing something good, I should consider my home cocktail experience worthy of a little bit of style. I should bust out the nicer jeans, at least. Maybe throw a blazer on over the t-shirt. If I really wanted to wear the Snuggie, I could pop open a beer, or crack a bottle of reasonably-priced wine.

I know the conventional wisdom is to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. But in the case of beverages, I think you should always dress for the drink you are drinking. It’s not because anyone else will care (as one of my co-bloggers so astutely observed), but I do think that dressing up to drink becomes part of the enjoyment of said drink. For example, the martini I’m pictured with above is nowhere near even being in the running for the “best I’ve ever had” list. But I remember it because I was dressed up to drink it (and because the bartender I ordered it from somehow heard “dirty martini” as “three martinis”…I had to ask for extra olive juice, and well-dressed hijinks ensued).

So, what do you think?* Dressing for cocktails–yea or nay?

*(It’s brass balls, right there, to ask a question on a blog that doesn’t really have any readers yet. But I did it anyway. Oh yes I did.)