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Archive for the ‘Martinis’ Category

Look Ma, I won….

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So after 5 years of fearless & relentless blogging, I finally won an award for the efforts.

One of the funniest and most astute among the denizens of desi-blogosphere, and a rare person who even manages to consistently remain funny on Twitter has announced his own awards. And I get a prize in the …..”Blog most likely to make you an alcoholic” category.

Yohoooo….

So take that, y’all byaaatches who are crowing about winning the Indiebloggies. This award is so much better because:

I did not have to be nominated by some uber-elite jury.

I did not have to obtain the post-nomination eminent-blogger endorsement.

I did not have to send out e-mails, post  messages on my Twitter and Facebook accounts extorting random people to vote for me.

I do not have to be gracious and and say that everyone’s a winner in my book.

I do not have to send out e-mails, post messaged on Twitter and Facebook thanking people for voting for me through multiple e-mail IDs.

etc.

Now  that I have won the award, I promise to live up to it’s meaningless much exalted status. As a result of this, I will drink more (but of course) and blog more (yeah! dream on….) – preferably at the same time.

In terms of award winning achievements, this one ranks up there with the best of them:

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

December 17, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Why I prefer my Martini stirred..

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…not shaken; because vigorous shaking introduces…err… stuff into the solution which could actually cure me. And I don’t want to be cured of my alcohol addiction.

Essentially, that is what this woo-ridden atricle by Dana Ullman in HuffPo explaining Homeopathy is trying to claim (via). It’s filled with gems like:

Further, the micro-bubbles and the nano-bubbles that are caused by the shaking may burst and thereby produce microenvironments of higher temperature and pressure.

Of course, what he is saying has to be true – after all he talks of nano-doses and nano-pharmacology and micro-environments (why didn’t he go to pico and femto ? Those sound even sexier and is actually more accurate to describe homeopathic dosage levels) and Quantum Medicine (I gotta take myself an online degree in that one)!

Sadly however, Ullman missed the clincher: James Bond drank his martini shaken and the shaking introduced super-bubbles into his drink and that’s how he managed to sleep with all the random women. As stated, I drink my martini stirred, and ergo no liaisons with alluring women.

After all, that makes as much sense as the rest of the so-called evidence.

Seriously  folks, there is very little in the way of scientific/medical evidence that homeopathy works. And before people who have been ‘cured’ by homeopathy start flaming me, let me state that I come from a family where ‘allopathy’ was always a last resort. And I too have been purportedly cured of a skin infection with homeopathy. However, at that time, my diet also changed and my mom started making me eat a lot of neem and turmeric etc. I’d think that these latter items which have actual ingredients and not some infinitesimally diluted and vigorously shaken nano/pico drop of water might have done the curing.

Unfortunately, most of the support for homeopathy seems to stem from such anecdotal evidence and not from rigorous double-blind studies that would convince skeptics (alas, some people – check the comments on HuffPo – have even come to regard double blind studies as a big-pharma conspiracy).

I have no problem if people want to indulge in homeopathy to waste time and money, but it becomes dangerous when people ignore good medical advice thinking they are getting a cure, or when homeopathy falsely advertises cure and/or prevention (e.g this earlier bad advice on H1N1 prevention by homeopathy which was being touted by a celebrity on Twitter).

So call it magic, call it a miracle, but explaining homeopathy with some technical mumbo-jumbo doesn’t make any sense.

(also read Dictatorji’s earlier post on homeopathy and astrology and the comments therein )

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

December 15, 2009 at 11:51 am

FCB: Gourmet 50’s Cocktails – Frangipani

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Not sure if it is related to their upcoming demise, but Gourmet magazine online is doing a feature where they publish their 20 favorite cocktails of each decade, starting from the ’40s. They are upto the 90s now.

Simply gazing at the wonderful photos are probably worth the time by itself, but it is wonderful stuff for any cocktail connoisseur and additionally, a good lesson for aspiring mixologists.

Being Gourmet magazine, they also obviously get their preparations right:  Martini is  to be stirred (not shaken), the vermouth is ‘to taste’ (and they stress this fact) with nary a mention of vodka. We can but only appreciate.

All the other cocktails similarly exude class and style  – no tropical forests hanging out of brightly colored, over-sweetened drinks calling for 10 different liquors!

So suitably inspired, I have got it into my head now, of trying out all the cocktail recipes posted on the site and then blogging about it!. Of course, given my record in such matters, ‘all’ might be rather stretching it. But this is alcohol we are talking about – so I will give it a fair go.

I wanted to start with a drink I’ve never had before and settled upon this rum-based recipe from the 50s: Frangipani. A combination of being intrigued by the name and the fact that it used gold rum, which I have rarely tried before, and Maraschino liqueur, which I wanted to try out for a while, made me go this one.

Image from Gourment

Image from Gourment

I had this theory that there might be some sort of  Sanskrit roots to the word Frangipani (pani = water and all that), but as far as I can find out, Frangipani refers to a tropical flower (and a few other stuff). How that relates to the cocktail, I have no idea and the web is sparse on details.  The only other mention of it as a cocktail has a very different recipe. As Gourmet put it, the drink  is a variation of the Hemmingway daiquiri:

A cynical cocktailian might look at this as a dumbed-down Hemingway Daiquiri (or Papa Doble, as it’s sometimes called), but substituting more grapefruit juice for the lime and the sugar actually results in a very different drink. Look for Luxardo’s maraschino liqueur.

This is how I made it, based off the Gourment recipe :

  • 1 part Golden Rum (I used the Dominican brand Ron Matusalem)
  • 1 part Pineapple Juice
  • 3 dashes Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo, as suggested in the recipe, I was lucky enough to find it at BevMo)

Give it a few nice hard shakes jig in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a pre-chilled martini glass.  The toughest part of making this drink was getting the Maraschino Liqueur right: three dashes mean dashes – pour a bit too much and the drink is overwhelmed by the honey-almond taste of the liqueur.

In terms of taste, it is indeed a very different drink from the Hemmingway Daiquiri – and much sweeter as expected with the pineapple juice. I also  thought that the juice and the Maraschino liqueur hid the taste of the rum (but then perhaps I need to get myself a better quality or a  more aged rum).  Overall, even though I don’t like my alcohol too sweet,  I can picture myself drinking this while relaxing outdoors on a weekend afternoon. The drink could be a a nice after-dinner cleanser as well.

As such, I also made my own version of the drink by increasing the portion of run to 1.5 parts and then adding a dash of lime juice (in the form of clarified Key lime) to have a bit of balance.

Not looking as tempting as the image from the magazine; Photography skills still need work :Pp

Not looking quite as tempting as the image from the magazine; Photography skills still needs work 🙂

Not a bad start really. Cheers.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

October 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

FCB: Givin’ Martini a Bad Name…

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A sincere request to lovers of alcohol everywhere…to stop appending the name ‘Martini’ at the end of any random fruity, colorful liquor concoction.

Even otherwise erudite bloggers are at it, tweeting about something called Mango Martini ! As far as I can see, it is just a variation of the SATC-popularized cocktail Cosmopolitan, with mango juice replacing the cranberry. Nothing against anyone liking it (although, personally I think it is a bit of  a waste of Triple-sec trying to pair its sweet-orange taste to the mango juice, the latter is just awesome on its own). But a ‘martini’, it ain’t, so someone should at least come up with an alternative name.

Nitin also RTs someone suggesting another abomination, The Espresso Martini, as a drink that ‘rejuvinates…like nothing else’.   The drink is  pretty much a shot of espresso added to a slight variation of the  White Russian theme, so yeah – stop calling it a martini !!!   As for the drink itself, I guess to each his own – but mixing coffee and alcohol is usually not my cup of tea (I do, however, on occasion don’t mind a well made Irish Coffee); you are sitting on the precipice of starting to drink the nightclub-sustaining Vodka/Redbull mixes. Besides, why add coffee when the recipe already calls for substantial coffee liqueur  (1.5 parts Kahlua) ? I’d rather go with a simple Black/White Russian. Finally, coffee flavor-based cocktails are supposed to be desert drinks, so not sure of the rejuvenating aspect either. I would suggest going for a Mint Julep, Caipirinha, or a Collins if you are going for ‘refreshing’, and pretty much a shot of any strong liquor – perhaps a bourbon/whiskey – if rejuvenation of the soul is required.

(Semi-regular posting of cocktail recipes for FCB will happen sometime in the future – or not. Life is logistically pretty messy now, and it is much easier here  in the US to step out on a Friday evening and enjoy cheap but well-made cocktails! And in  great company 🙂 )

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

September 4, 2009 at 9:06 am

Friday Cocktail Blogging: The Manhattan

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I blogged about the Manhattan before, but lately I have developed a renewed affection for this drink.  (Also, in that earlier blog, the drink was more of an after-thought – wanted to expand on it a bit).

This renewal of affection came about  possibly during the trip to Boston earlier this year, when fellow connoisseur BH led me to this wonderful watering-hole in a Cambridge alleyway. Over the stretch of a Friday evening, the extremely sympathetic barman treated us [1] to an array of Manhattan variations, the names of which I fail to recollect, but various other New York city subdivisions were involved.The variations mostly involved using different kinds of whiskey, bitters and vermouth (well duh!).

The other reason is the discovery of Gentleman Jack, a double charcoal filtered, extremely mellow Tennesee whiskey that seems ideally suited for this drink .

Note that the kind of Manhattan you prefer, like Martinis, is a personal choice: the type of whiskey, on the rocks or straight up, dry or sweet and cherry or not. etc are some of the options one is faced with.  Couple of ground rules though. First, the obvious – never use expensive whiskey like single barrel bournbons, or single malt scotch. Second,  even if you partake a cherry – don’t add the syrup – the drink will be too sweet. For the rest, go by your own taste.

The Manhattan hasn’t yet replaced the dry Martini as the pre-dinner drink of choice, but it is running close. This is the way I prefer it now, especially on summer evening after work:

  • 2 parts Gentleman Jack
  • 1/2 part Dry vermouth
  • 1/2 part Lillet
  • Dash of Blood Orange Bitters (or Angostura)

Shake in a cocktail mixer with lots of ice and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.  Optional cherry garnishing (best way to do this: add the cherry – sans the syrup – to the bottom of the glass and pour the drink over it).

As you can see, I prefer straight up. Unlike the Martini, where on the rocks is a definite no, a Manhattan is okay over ice. However, I recommend that you use ice a bit more fine than usual for this.

Cheers.

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[1]: No, we paid for the drink, but the barman possessed that ideal quality so severely lacking in many of the profession: anticipating our next drink -both in terms of when we needed one next, and what we would enjoy. In a Friday-evening crowd, that is a fine

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

August 14, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Groovy

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There are lots of negative things to be said about Sydney: the  multitude of dodgy characters, the  incredible rents, the hole-in-the-wall that purports to be a place of residence for the next few months (hopefully a longer post about the city etc in a while).

However, they are all balanced by the fact that right opposite the said hole-in-the wall is a pub. And not just the run of the mill, typical Aussie pub that satisfies itself by pouring weak lagers, but a true-blue alehouse that serves at any time, about 15 different beers covering ales, lagers and stouts on tap (not to mention the multitudes available on bottle). Apart from style, they cover different countries as well including US (the good ones), German, Czech, New Zealand and of course Australia (the good ones). And they keep changing the beers weekly/monthly.

Overall, some interesting beer-drinking experiences ahead.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

April 9, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Australia, Martinis, Personal

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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…actually no, it isn’t (but I do love the Alvin and the Chipmunks version of the song).

Warm (~30Celcius) weather and long summer days does not put one into the same type of holiday mood as does a good covering of white fluffy snow on the ground. Add to that a curious lack of carols and songs on the radio, malls and cafeteria here in Oz. Not even much of Christmas-like decorations in our neighborhood. So all in all, not the usual x-mas mood I have been used for the eight odd years in the US.

But hey, if it something the Aussies do well – it is taking holidays, partying, and fun-stuff like drinking.

Speaking of drinking, Christmas in summer  means that the usual egg-nog (with a good amount of brandy) is not such a good option. Hence , to enjoy the holidays, I made up this sweeter derivative of the classic Mint Julep:

A Festive Julep

A Festive Julep

A Festive Julep

Muddle 1-2 teaspoon of sugar with 5-6 mints leaves and a dash of water. Add crushed ice (it is important to add crushed ice to this drink instead of cubes) and pour 2 oz (60ml)  Kentucky Bourbon (or Jack Daniels) and 2oz  (60ml) Southern Comfort mix lightly and top off with sparkling water. Finally, drop in a maraschino cherry (add a bit of the syrup too if you want it even sweeter).

Traditionally a drink associated with southern USA, especially the Kentucky Derby, this is quite a refreshing  cocktail.  Santa would appreciate at the end of the gift runs !

Merry Christmas, happy holidays etc !

Me, I am off to Melbourne tomorrow (sadly not in attendance at the MCG for Boxing Day though), with a drive along the Great Ocean Road, and checking out the vineyards of the Barossa and McLaran Vales in store.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

December 24, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Australia, Food, Martinis, Travel