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Guest Post by Alex W. Rodriguez, jazz guy, friend of the blog, and future UCLA Ph.D. Ethnomusicology candidate. For Alex’s thoughts on jazz check out his blog Lubricity, WBGO radio, or the Newark Star Ledger.
After my grandfather passed away, my dad and his sisters began to take inventory of the stuff that he had kept in their childhood home in Central Oregon—books, knickknacks, and all paraphernalia that accumulates in a lifetime. The most fascinating material came from his collection of books, and perhaps the strangest gem of all is Old Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide.
Published in 1935, in the wake of prohibition’s repeal, it reads like a hastily-thrown-together mishmash of recipes to promote Old Mr. Boston alcohol products. But I have never come across anything that has immediately evoked the spirit of the 1930s (pun most definitely intended) than this little brown book. Take this formal introduction to Old Mr B. himself:
Sirs, –May we now present to you Old Mr. Boston in permanent form. We know you are going to like him. He is a jolly fellow, one of those rare individuals, everlastingly young, a distinct personality and famous throughout the land for his sterling qualities and genuine good fellowship. His friends number in the millions those who are great and those who are near great even as you and I. He is jovial and ever ready to accept the difficult role of “Life of the Party,” a sympathetic friend who may be relied upon in any emergency. Follow his advice and there will be many pleasant times in store for you. Gentlemen, Old Mr. Boston!
For as much as I love booze, there is one virgin elixir I just might adore even more than all the liquor in the world, and that is a chocolate egg cream.
Oh, how I could rhapsodize about an egg cream, its gloriously proportioned trifecta of chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer (neither eggs nor cream). When you’re this crazy about egg creams, you know that they must be made with Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup if they’re worth a damn, and you purchase specially marked pint glasses from Junior’s in Brooklyn that indicate how much of each ingredient to use, and you hunt online for genuine, old-fashioned seltzer bottles (which must be refilled regularly with carbon-dioxide cartridges, at no small expense), because you can’t get a good, fizzy head on a homemade egg cream with seltzer from a silly twist-cap bottle.
Last week I blogged about how some cocktails are borne out of late-night necessity. This week my cousin Mark created a cocktail from just such conditions, although he did it way better than any of my own attempts.
This cocktail’s got it all. It’s full-flavored but light-bodied. It’s not sugary; it’s just sweet enough, truly suitable either before or after dinner. It’s well-rounded — no too-sharp, vodka-cran tang. It begins with antioxidant-riddled pomegranate seeds, so you can easily rationalize why you should have another. (Because antioxidants cancel out alcohol, duh.) And with the holidays upon us, I picture it as something that would equally please a sherry-sipping grandma, your 22-year-old cousin who’s never downed anything stronger than a Woo Woo and cocktail snobs such as ourselves who will be impressed by the double dose of bitters.
Guest Post by Sean Lorre
Besides the obvious excitements and disappointments associated with what Santa would or wouldn’t leave me under the tree, my favorite thing about Christmas as a kid was the wonderful smells of the holiday. The scent of the tree, the aroma of Christmas cookies in the oven, sugar and spice and… well, you get the picture.
As part of the annual holiday festivities, my family gathered at my grandpa Marlowe’s house for Christmas brunch. Sure, there was merriment, gift giving, good cheer and something about the baby Jesus, I think, but, like all Marlovian holidays, Christmas was mainly about two things: eating and drinking. An entire room of my grandfather’s spacious Victorian house was dedicated to the foods and potables of the season. Featured in this den of holiday delights was Glögg, a steaming, sometimes flaming –Glögg is traditionally served en flambé—ruby red elixir made of red wine, high-proof spirits, citrus and spices, whose scent for me was the very embodiment of Christmas.
A few times you hang out at a friend’s house past midnight and you get nominated to go into the kitchen and figure out how to whip up a round of cocktails from emptied liquor bottles, backwash, tap water, stale coffee, triple sec and flat soda. Somehow you put together something palatable, and soon you gain a rep as always being able to “make something out of nothing,” which is an AA term that means “will drink vanilla extract.”
Other times you start to get that cat-scratch-fever feeling in the back of your throat, and you know you’ve got a cold coming on, but you’ve also got a blog post due. That’s a good time to remember that wack highball you once assembled — a potion so ass-backwardsly diluted, it’s not nice to the word made to say you actually made it. A drinkable entity that kinda tastes like Creamsicle, or those gritty, Technicolor pastes the dentist used to give you a teeth cleaning when you were little. Which is apt, because in times like these what you want is a cocktail that tastes like medicine and childhood and 100% of your Vitamin C RDA and a nap and ice-cold, back-of-the-throat numbness and hazy alcoholica all at once.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Ghetto Fabulous.