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Archive for the ‘Martinis’ Category

Oscar night imbibing

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It’s that day of the year again, when the ceremony that you love to hate but then end up watching anyway (because, who else will make those snarky comments) arrives on your TV with the pomp, pageantry and grandeur that only Hollywood can muster (add hyperbole to the list, like I just indulged in).

But, it’s not just the TV now, find yourself online tonite and you will have a barrage of live coverage, including live-blogs and of course the inescapable, live-tweeting. Why, even I had unleashed a live-blogging of the event many years ago on an unsuspecting public. And what did help me through that evening was several ice-cold martinis (Sapphire, stirred not shaken).

So here is a helpful list of alcohol that you could help you get through watching/tweeting/ignoring the Oscars ceremony later tonite. On a whim, I have tried to link them approximately to the theme of the movie nominated for Best Pictures. Since I haven’t actually watched all the films, feel free to share your own interpretive drink.

So here goes:

(Note: I am not liable for alcohol poisoning.)

Toy Story 3: Not that adults do not enjoy this movie (I didn’t, I still have fondness for the first in the series), let’s get the kid’s stuff out the way first. Drink some OJ; actually plenty of it, you need to stay hydrated for the real drinking, right.

The Social Network: The movie starts in a college dorm, so tequila shots and beer chasers might be appropriate. But unless you are in an actual dorm room, do try something other than Jose Cuervo Gold, and Budlight.

Take a shot at Patron or Don Julio blanco with a craft brew lager from your area. East coast people should try Yeungling or Boston Lager (though neither are strictly craft brew). East coast

And stop reading further if you think Corona Extra with a lemon slice is the epitome of classy beer drinking. And no, neither is Heineken. Or Stella. No matter how suave their ads are.

The Fighter: Continuing on the beer theme, but upping the ante: drink some hard-core, in your face hoppy IPA or Imperial IPAs. Dogfish Head’s 90min or Avery’s Maharaja is recommended.

True Grit: Shots of bourbon or rye whisky, preferably with names such as Tanglefoot, Forty-Rod, Tarantula Juice, Taos Lightning, Red Eye, and Coffin Varnish. Drink neat.

127 Hours: Pause now, and drink some water. Gotta keep that hydration thing going.

Inception: This one is too easy – a shot consisting of several layers. B52 – with Kahlua, Irish cream and Cointreau – is recommended. Unfortunately bars nowadays prepare B52 mostly as a mixed shot and not in layers. But try the layer, and even better, flame it before drinking.

The Kids Are All Right: One of the four nominated movies that I did watch .  Kept scratching my head about how it got nominated. But then, we are talking about a category that felicitated Shakespear in Love and Titanic.

Eithery way, drink-wise the movie shows a lot of fine reds. So you could go with that.

Or any of the more sophisticated cocktails – such as a well-made ice-cold Martini (prepared the right way), or perhaps a Side-car is ideal. But for heaven’s sake, don’t have a Cosmo!

Winter’s Bone: Probably the movie that should win the best picture category, but probably won’t since very few people have seen it, and it was released ages ago. Was really moved while watching. Given the themes of drug abuse, can’t think of any drink. Perhaps down a lot of cheap scotch and brood.

Black Swan: Hmmm……ballet, lust, jealousy. For some reason, I see absinthe in the picture. Make a drink with equal parts of gin and dry vermouth, half parts absinthe (Green Chartreuse if you can’t get hold of the green fairy), shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass. Add a splash of dry white wine.  Careful with this.

The King’s Speech: Hopefully, they will introduce this movie at the end and you can start sipping some port. Or a single-malt scotch.

Happy imbibing. Don’t drink and drive, tweet instead.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 27, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Films, Fun, Martinis

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The Happy Hour BoozeKwiz

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(Update: now with answers)

Just did a quiz based on alcohol on Twitter, through the handle @kweezzz.

Here are the questions. Have a go if you didn’t participate on Twitter. Will provide answers later, but you are very welcome to take guesses in the comments section:

1. George Hodgson developed this beer with higher than usual (for that time) alcohol and hops so it could survive long sea voyages. It underwent a slight style transformation in the US. What is it?

Ans: India Pale Ale (IPA).

2. Sitter. Identify the movie and the drink. Very specific answer.

Person 1: Bring me ……….. (Describes a cocktail) .

Bartender: Yes, sir.

(Two other people ask for the same drink)

Person 2: My friend, bring me one as well, but keep the fruit.

Bonus for the full recipe.

Ans: Casino Royale. Bond asking for a drink to be later named, Vesper Martini.

Q3. Kipling wrote: “You paid for a drink and got as much as you wanted to eat. For something less than a rupee a day a man can feed himself sumptuously in San Francisco, even though he be a bankrupt. Remember this if ever you are stranded in these parts”.

What’s Kipling talking about here, later to be popularized into a famous phrase by two other people?

Ans: The practice, in parts of US, of offering free food with drinks back in the days. Phrase is of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Q4. Easy, advertisement for what?

Ans: Loch Lomond.

Q5. In the episode of The Simpsons, Bart the Murderer, what cocktail does Bart make that saves him from getting killed by the mafia ?

Ans: Manhattans.

Q6. “Creamy Bavarian wheat beer with pronounced clove, vanilla, banana, apple, bubblegum, and sometimes nutmeg flavors. Dark color from roasted/caramelized malt.” What are talking about here?

Ans: Dunkelweizen – a dark wheat beer (not Hefeweizen since dark is mentioned)

Q7: Connect (to a drink of course)

Ans: Apple Martini.

Q8. Kate Hester, owner of a saloon near Pittsburgh, used to hush her patrons when they got too rowdy by whispering “______, boys! _____” (for good reasons). Fill in the blanks and the funda will come.

Ans: Speak Easy

Q9. A version of this classic drink was lent its name by a famous author since he liked it with grapefruit and maraschino liquor in addition to the traditional ingredients. What’s the drink and who’s the author?

Ans: The Hemmingway Martini

Q10. What’s the connection. Looking for a very specific answer.

Ans: Dry Martini. Haweye in MASH was looking for the driest Martini, Churchill and Bunuel are also  famous for liking their Martini dry.

Q11. What would be Ricky Ponting’s favorite beer, if he was partial to his hometown brewery?

Ans: Boags.

Q12.  Identify the event depicted here. Bonus for name of the film.

Ans: The Judgment of Paris. California wines were judged to be superior than French wines in a blind taste challenge. The movie is Bottle Shock – a barely sufferable romantic comedy that depicts incidents leading up to this event.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Posted in Food, Fun, Martinis

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Weekend cocktail blogging: Beer Margaritas

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Yeah, you heard it right. Just in time before the weekend slips away, treat yourself to this awesome summer refresher.

(Yes, as a self-proclaimed cocktail snob I should be ashamed, but what can I say: I was hit on the head today, and this could be the internal hemorrhage talking.)

The basic idea is to mashup two alcoholic beverages that are very refreshing on their own for a uber-refreshing drink.

Before you start, a word of caution: there are quite a few recipes out there if you google ‘beer margarita‘; but please, please and please, do not follow them. Most of the recipes ask you to use limeade (ugh!), and give you wrong advices like avoid micro-brews to prevent overpowering your margaritas, calling instead for (gasp) Corona!

For those who use limeade (or any of those ready-made margarita mixes), to paraphrase the immortal Mr T , ‘we pity the fools’!

As for micro-brews, yes avoid  the over-hopped Stone/Doghead etc, but there are many micro-brewers and homebrewers (such as moi) who make lagers and light ales that actually taste something other than lightly diluted water. So don’t be shy of using some craft/home-brewed or imported lager/ale that is on the sweeter, but less malty and certainly not hoppy side (however, for the sake of experimentation, a well-hopped ale could be tried). However, German lager, which are heavy on the malt, may not work very well.

I used my home-made California Cream Ale, which is light (~4.5% ABV) and has a very light  sweetness to it and is neither very malty or hoppy.

Also, in my opinion, to really balance the beer and the tequila, I would recommend a Reposado tequila (tequila aged 2 months to a year in oak barrels). Reposados are mellower than the ‘gold’ (the lowest end of tequilas that have caramel etc added to give color, and IMO should never be used expect for college kids  and poor grad students to get drunk quickly) or ‘blanco’ (un-aged tequila, that is 100% agave and quite strong consequently). They are also less expensive than the aged tequilas that are a waste in cocktails anyway. Plus, with this drink, it’s not worthwhile wasting your high-end tequilas like Patron.

This was my recipe:

  • 2 parts Tequila (I used Hornitos)
  • 1 part Triple-sec (again, not worth using Cointreau or anything expensive, the regular stuff will do)
  • 1 part freshly squeezed juice of lime
  • Home-brewed California Cream Ale to top off.

Pour everything into a shaker with lots of ice and shake. Pour into a glass that has been rimmed with margarita salt. It is better to put some fresh ice in the glass and strain the shaken mix over the ice. Carefully top off with beer.

IMG_0235

A word of caution: this will get you drunk very fast. I assume no liabilities.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Food, Martinis

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Weekend Cocktail Blogging: Saturday Quickie…

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A fine, crisp and sunny weekend evening in San Diego inspires this Hendrick’s Gin-based cocktail. Let’s call it…ummm….. say Carte Blanche (not my own idea – flicked the name off the box the Hendrick’s came in)
  • 3 parts Hendrick’s Gin
  • 1.5 part lime juice
  • 1 part sugar syrup/teaspoon of sugar.
  • Few dashes of Paychaud’s Bitters

Shake all ingredients except the bitters with ice and strain into a pre-chilled martini glass. Add a few dashes of the bitter on top. Enjoy with mozzarella-rolled prosciutto with basil, and salami with Parmesan.

[Or, just drink a Shiraz-Cabernet-Viognier blend, as the better -half was doing]

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

April 10, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Posted in Food, Martinis, Personal

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Weekend cocktail blogging: bittersweet

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With the rainy weather in San Diego and all, something stiff is in order. Hence, a slight variation of Old Pal, which I had tried earlier with Jack Daniels. But comes out much better with actual Rye whiskey. The bitterness of the campari balances very nicely with the sweet vermouth (which I supplemented with Lillet).

  • 2 parts Old Overholt
  • 1 part Campari
  • 1 part Sweet Vermouth (or equal parts vermouth and Lillet)

Stir in the glass part of the Boston shaker, and then strain into a pre-chilled martini glass. Squeeze the lemon peel slightly over the drink and drop into it.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 6, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Coffee, ‘Johnny Z & the Camaros’, with some science in between…

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[was going to post over the weekend, but procrastination ensued. as usual]

A great week at San Francisco for the Biophysical Society annual meeting, ending rather badly with two weary hours at the San Diego airport because I am a dunce who manages to lose car keys while waiting for the luggage! (To top it off,  apparently these fob-thingies are some ultra super-duper gadgetry that requires NASA scientists to make and a pretty penny to replace. Gah.)

But overall, one of the pleasanter conferences I’ve been to. Some quick thoughts on food & drink (most important of course), the conference and the city. Real sciency stuff for a separate blog.

Food and Drink (mainly limited to places around the Moscone convention center and Union Square):

  • Blue Bottle Coffee: A case of beer to Purely Narcotic for this recommendation. It’s hidden away from the main streets (the Mint Plaza location), so I wouldn’t have found it on my own.  But so glad to finally be able to walk into a coffee shop in the US, order a  Long Black Americano and not worry about it being served in gigantic saucers filled with water to kill the taste (actually, made a fool of myself by starting to explain that I wanted the regular cup size, only to be stared at with a ‘…but that’s what we do anyway’).  Of course, the quality of the roast itself is top-notch and the barista approaches the pulling of each cup with zen-like devotion. Their brioches, and other assorted sweets and savouries are yum as well. No better way to open the day.
  • Samovar Tea Lounge: Just above the convention center in the Yerba Buena gardens and usual lunch-spot. Bit of new-age pretentiousness about the place, but great selection of teas and – this turned out to important after nights of drinking – healthy food.
  • Papalotes: This one was recommended via Twitter as well by geetika1255 (so that settles the question of whether Twitter serves any purpose?) and has gained fame recently with their chef beating Bobby Flay in a burrito throw-down. Therefore, as expected, there was a huge crowd outside the smallish place in the Mission area. But they did an admirable logistical job of seating people just as their food was about to be ready and then politely moving them out for the next batch. Food was good, everything was freshly grilled etc. But coming from San Diego, with its Mexican-food-at-every-corner-ness, it wasn’t such an overly exciting experience. The Aussies were suitably impressed though.
  • Tropisueno: Stepped in only because it was next to the convention center and it was pouring.  Came out very satisfied with the  Mexican fare here  – their spices were quite exquisite. But the margarita with agave nectar and house salt (whatever it was) was the winner – nice kick to it without overpowering. Would highly recommend.
  • Pakhwan: Went here for a dinner partly out of nostalgia, partly because the Aussie contingent were craving for ‘Indian-style rice’ (I assumed they wanted biryani). This hole-in-the-wall place on O’Farell St had sustained us during my previous visit (seven years ago) for the same conference – back when we were PIGS. They have an actual tandoor in there, so both the tandoori chicken and the Bihari kebabs were moist and succulent. The began bhartha was wiped clean off the plate. Biryanis were so-so.
  • The Daily Grill: The bar at the hotel I stayed; not too memorable other than the fact I got into a mild argument with the bartendress about how a Sazerac should be made (she was shaking the stuff, and I was telling her to stir) – but I bowed to the fact that she’d been bartending much much longer than I’d been making Sazeracs. I ended up drinking two of her concoctions and then going back later in the week for more. Now if it was a Martini, I’d have fought till death (though I doubt a good bartender would dare to shake when asked for stirred martini).
  • Johnny Folley’s Irish Pub: Any place that serves Guinness does well by me – thusly, I have a built-in stop function that kicks in whenever I walk by an Irish pub. However, was it just me or their Guinness a wee bit watery? I had the Black and Tan to begin with and thought the less then usual robustness was just the layers mixing in too quickly. But subsequent drinking of just Guinness on its own was less than satisfying as well. Oh well, the lamb shanks more than made up for the drink.
  • Lefty O’Doul’s: Didn’t have any food here (seemed like diner-style food) but had a few beers with friends on the first day. Had to comment because of the really nice waitress who served our drinks. It is rare to find someone reciting from memory the whole lot of 12 beers on tap – from light to the heavy –  in order. Was also amazed how at the end of it, she helpfully pointed out how much each person owed without actually splitting the bill. Way to go.
  • Gold Dust Lounge: Velvets couches, golden chandeliers, old oil paintings, statue of a gold-rusher as you walk in – a funky little place, with almost a dive bar-ish atmosphere.  Easily the best place to hang-out after a tiring day at the convention. A bit pricey for the beers – but they have margarita specials ($3.50) till 830p. However, after 830p is the time to be hanging out there when Johnny Z and the Camaros sit behind a cramped bar-space and belt out 60-80s hits.  More than the music, it’s old Johnny Z’s dry wit which makes it a lot of fun. Don’t walk in without expecting bit of borderline insults (I got the usual, Indian-must-be-call-center-dude-with-funny-accent treatment *yawn*). For a couple of bucks in tips, they’ll take requests (just don’t ask them to play Bon Jovi). Made my friend happy by playing Land Down Under. Truly mixed crowd as well – everyone from AARP members to wannabe hipsters, with equal parts regulars and tourists (a few nerdy biophysicists walked in as well, and were made appropriately made fun of by the aforementioned Johnny Z).  If you do head out there, take plenty of cash – they don’t do cards. Expect a surly waitress, or two.

The actual conference:

  • Bummed out by the lack of wi-fi in vast areas of the conference center. For a conference that was promoting the use of blogging (BPS had four official bloggers at the event) and Twitter to disseminate information, this was a huge fail.
  • Poor planning for many of the talks – sessions that are historically always well attended (anything to do with ion channels), were given smaller rooms with hardly any standing areas left while concurrent sessions went empty. Also the National Lecture by Roger Tsien was filled out very quickly, which was bit of a downer, but we did get to hear and see the presentation in a different room. Other than these minor issues, a good conference, as usual.
  • Good science, but nothing earth-shattering, no disruptive technologies. A few cool ‘out-of-the-box’ applications for existing technologies. Old controversies still raging even as participants have mellowed down. Roger Tsien’s lecture was wonderful as usual. His lab has succeeded in developing imaging techniques by which tumor cells in the living body can be highlighted by fluorescent light. This helps surgeons in cutting out the majority of the tumor without relying on guess-work. Even better, the tumor cells can be contrasted to important tissues like the nerve cells, which surgeons need to avoid. Current technologies have worked exceedingly well in mouse models. Next – clinical applications in humans.
  • Personally, the conference was a huge boost in terms of networking and meeting up with lots of people. There are many regulars at this conference, and catching up with them on the edges of the actual sessions is satisfying. I actually get much more scientific information  and exchange of ideas this way  than attending actual talks. It also feels good when someone you’d interviewed with once for a postdoc job five years and haven’t seen for a while remembers your name and interests very well.
  • Big thanks to the Aussie contingent for making it fun in the post-conference evening dinners and drinks (see above).

Bad weather and a busy meeting ensured that I did not have too much time to explore SF, but have been there couple of times before and done most of the touristy stuff. Certainly this won’t be the last trip either.  In spite of the mainly gloomy weather this time, fondness for SF remains. Possibly not a place to live permanently (though given the quality of coffee on hand, I am sorely tempted), but great for brief visits or even spending a year or two like we did down under. San Francisco has that certain vibe, sorely lacking in San Diego (even in the Hillcrest/Gas Lamp-type happening areas).

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Note about Virgin America’s service trying not to sound like a paid advertisement: must be the funnest, most comfortable US-domestic airline around. Starting from their red-carpeted check-in area that often plays eclectic music, to the mood-lighted, almost Vegas-like cabin interior, leather seats (with enough space), power-port on every seat, personal entertainment unit with free and paid stuff, easy ordering of food/drink through the personal unit and most of all, the easy-going attitude of their staff; these guys have managed to make flying within US fun again (I know SouthWest does a few of these things, but I’ve had some bad experiences from them). The humorous way they handled the fog-related delay of the flight into SF (we were held up at SD itself) and also the manner in which the extremely tired staff at the SD airport went out to check if I had dropped my keys on the plane speaks volumes of their customer service. Wish they served a few more destinations.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Weekend Cocktail Blogging

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First, Happy New Year and all that. Wishing everyone a very successful, non-sober 2010.

The last day of fairly  longish (and very relaxing) holiday weekend, along with the balmy, mid-70s and sunny weather we are experiencing here, calls for some refreshing outdoor drink.

So I cooked up this variation of the ultimate outdoor drink,  the Mojito, with basil leaves in place of mint (try this with other drinks such as Juleps that call for mint as well, IMO basil has a nicer aroma), plus adding a bit of the Brazilian rum, Cachaca, and some orange liqueur to the mix.

Can’t come up with any interesting names right now, but how ’bout the ‘Finest City Mid-winter Sling‘ ?

Here’s the recipe:

1.5 part White Rum

1.5 part Cachaca

0.5 part Cointreau/Triple Sec

Dash of Blue Curacao

3-4 large basil leaves

Juice of half a lime

1-2 tsp sugar (demerara sugar is preferred, but I used Stevia)

Sparkling water/Soda (optional)

To enjoy:

Step 1: Add the lime juice, sugar and basil leaves into a shaker; using a long bar spoon, mix the sugar and lime juice while smashing the basil leaves (do this gently without bruising the leaves). Add the rum, cachaca and Triple Sec  with some ice, shake and pour into a tall Collins glass. Add the dash of Blue Curacao. Top up with soda or sparkling water if you want (I didn’t have either, so I used some tonic water, wasn’t too bad). Serve with a straw.

Step 2: Find a nice, sunny patio – preferably one with a hammock – and an engrossing book. Lie on the hammock, take a sip for every page read. When finished with the drink, go to Step 1. Repeat till the sun gets close to the horizon, making it bloody cold all of sudden.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Food, Fun, Martinis, Personal