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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

Tagged with , , ,

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

Tagged with , , , ,

Top-shelf rant

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One of my recurrent peeves with bars down under is how so many of them misuse their ‘top-shelf’.

And it is not just restricted to local pubs, but many of the classier, up-market establishments are guilty as well.

The ‘top-shelf’ is supposed to be reserved for the superior quality (and thereby more expensive) spirits and liqueurs; your single barrel Bourbons, single malt Scotch, XO and above Cognacs, premium vodkas and such. Hence the term ‘top-shelf drink’, as opposed to ‘well-drinks’ (cheaper liquors that lie in the well of the bar and is easier for the barmen to get to).

A simple storage space for Smirnoff Vodkas is not what the top-shelves are for. Yes, I have seen that for real.

Worse still, as I spotted last night at a trendy local bar, a top-shelf should  not be used to display beer-bottles – unless it is a beer-bar; at least not Matilda Bay brews (which mind you are quite decent brews); but especially not…….. Corona Extra Light !!!!

I have vented before about the puzzling fascination Aussies seem to have for this watery ghastliness, especially with the insufferable lime wedges. At least there is no accounting for bad tastes.

But to place the stuff on a top-shelf is pure sacrilege.

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1: note that at a newsagent, the word has different connotations.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

July 10, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Brief comment on Aussie brews….

with 5 comments

…..and praise of two micro-breweries.

I am sure that quite a few people, when they think of Australia – along with the sunny beaches, croc-infested outbacks, cute marsupials etc. – think of beer. But the generic beer down here really means pale lagers, with each state producing its own version: Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter, Tooheys, XXXX, Swan Draught etc. That is not to say Aussie lagers are bad, they are actually much superior tasting, and indeed quite refreshing at the end of a hot day as compared to the slightly flavored water piss passed of as beer in the US [1](German expats on the other hand, possibly for good reasons, have an entirely different opinion on how a lager should be, but that is another matter). Even some of the low-carb stuff here, like the imaginatively named and cheekily marketed Pure Blonde, have a clean crispiness to them not found in say, (shudder!) Michelob Light. Additionally, there are some really good ales made by small breweries like Cascade (the oldest brewery still in operation) and Boags – incidentally both located in Tasmania – that do more than wash down those barbied snags.

/Brief Rant Mode/

However, in some bizarre twist of irony, at most bars and restaurants there is a seemingly endless demand for Corona Extra (with the insufferable lime wedges) !! Aussies, both male and female, don’t seem to get enough of it. Makes me cringe and fear for the future of these people.

/End Rant/

One unfortunate aspect within the Aussies beer world is the market dominance by mainly two players, Fosters (although you will be hard-pressed to find Foster’s Lager out here) and Nathan Lion, which means that you are often forced to consume the marketing hype launched by these two (this could possibly explain the Corona craze, the beer being distributed by Fosters down here). Even the small breweries like Cascade and Boags mentioned above are owned by one or the other. Coopers is possibly the only independent brewery that operates on the large-scale.

Additionally, at least in the Brisbane are, I have not found any micro-brewers, which was something quite common in the US. Thankfully, on a recent visit to Perth, I got an opportunity to taste beers from two great micro-breweries in Western Australia, Matilda Bay (which again is owned by Fosters!) and Little Creatures. Both breweries make a variety of lagers and ales and although their Pilsners were kind of disappointing, the Pale Ales rock. I have had the Little Creatures Pale Ale in a bottle in Brisbane itself and it is without doubt, still the best beer I have tasted in a long while. But drinking from the tap at the pub located within the brewery made it extra special. The Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale is not easily available in bottles (at least in Brisbane) and it was refreshing to have it while watching live cricket at one of Perth’s landmark breweries, The Brass Monkey. Additionally, Matilda Bay makes a honey-flavored amber wheat beer, Beez Neez, which IMO is a fine indoor/evening beer, and a German-inspired red lager, Rooftop.

 

Among other beer varieties, I have noticed that the India Pale Ale, which used to be my favorite in the US, is not very popular down under, in spite of the British connections. It is much harder to find than other beers, and the only one I tried so far, James Squire, failed to impress. The Germans mentioned before have an apparent distaste for ale and usually drink Becks (More out of patriotism than real taste, I suspect). Thankfully, most Aussie cities seem to have a few Irish pubs around, so the old reliable stout, Guinness is always at hand. The other readily available non-Australian ale I have been really impressed with is the Old Speckled Hen. An English bitter, it is best tasted served from the tap, at the right temperature (around 16C) and served in an Imperial Pint (bears the royal insignia no less) glass. Also best enjoyed late in the evening at the pub whilst watching a EPL match surrounded by rowdy English fans !

In short, regular Aussie lagers seem to do the job in keeping with the outdoorsy nature of this country and yet there is a bit of variety in the form of exciting ales from micro-brewers and imports to keep the connoisseurs happy. In the coming months I will get to visit Tasmania and New South Whales and will to keep any beer-lovers lurking around updated if any decent new micro-brews are discovered.

Final disclaimer: Note that these perspectives are from a non-regular beer drinker [2]. I still prefer cocktails when I have the chance. But the quality of cocktails they make at the bars here is abysmal, not to mention the struggle involved in making the barmen/women comprehend even the simplest of recipes. So I stick to beer now (when in Rome…..) [3]. Besides, beer is very refreshing after long outdoor activities, or after the day at the beach, or when attending to the barbie. And there is plenty of that happening in sunny down under.

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[1]: Read that as Coors, Millers, Bud and suchlike. Sam Adams does produce a decent lager, as does Labatt up north.

[2]: And yes – in spite of its proletariat background – just like wine, there are subtleties that need to be recognized while tasting beer – color, head, aroma, taste of hops etc all go into distinguishing a beer. Personally, I use a simple yardstick: tastes good at the moment versus not good 🙂

[3]: To be fair, Australian do drink fair bit of wine as well, and Aussie wines, especially reds like Shiraz, are exceptionally a great value.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

November 23, 2007 at 1:40 am