Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Mad Men" Cocktail Quiz

I'm a big fan of AMC's "Mad Men", the 1960's cigarette smoking, cocktail guzzling ad agency drama. How well do you know the cocktail culture on the show? Here's a quiz, see how you do? (Thanks to Joanne Sasvari, Postmedia News)

1. What previously obscure spirit skyrocketed to popularity in the Mad Men era?

(a) Absinthe

(b) Cachaca

(c) Vodka

(d) Bourbon

2. Traditionally, vodka was not used in which of the following drinks:

(a) Bull Shot

(b) Martini

(c) Caesar

(d) Cosmopolitan

3. In Season 1, department store heiress Rachel Menken sips a fancy tropical concoction. 'That's quite a drink,' Don Draper tells her. We agree. Which of the following did not create the rum-based drinks that had 1960s North America going cuckoo for tiki?

(a) Don the Beachcomber

(b) Don Ho

(c) Donn Beach

(d) "Trader Vic" Bergeron

4. Tiki is making a comeback. Which of the following is not a tiki drink?

(a) Boo Loo

(b) Coco Mojo

(c) Honi Honi

(d) Pu Pu

5. In Season 1, Roger Sterling has a memorable lunch of vodka martinis and oysters. Vodka is a classic pairing with the bivalves, but so are all the following except:

(a) Chardonnay

(b) Sherry

(c) Chablis

(d) Champagne

6. Don Draper's spirit of choice is Canadian Club whisky. What style of whisky is CC?

(a) Bourbon

(b) Rye

(c) Scotch

(d) Blend

7. In Season 3, Don Draper teaches his daughter Sally how to make his favourite cocktail, the old fashioned. Here's how:

(a) Shake lemon juice, sugar and gin, top with soda.

(b) Stir whisky with sweet vermouth and bitters.

(c) Muddle maraschino cherries, orange slices, whisky, sugar and bitters, top with soda.

(d) Muddle mint leaves, lime wedges, sugar and rum, top with soda.

8. At an uncomfortable dinner party in the city, Betty Draper overindulges in gimlets. What is in a gimlet?

(a) Gin, lime cordial, sugar.

(b) Gin, dry vermouth, pickled onions.

(c) Gin, lemon juice, ginger beer.

(d) Gin, lime, mint, sugar, soda.

9. Which of the following was not a popular drink in the 1960s?

(a) Brandy Alexander

(b) Cosmopolitan

(c) Harpoon

(d) White Russian

10. On Mad Men, liquor and bad behaviour go hand in hand. Which of the following has happened on the show?

(a) At a post-work bash in the Sterling Cooper office, employees fill the water cooler with crème de menthe. Sexual harassment ensues.

(b) Ken Cosgrove drives a John Deere lawn mower through the office and over a colleague's foot, severing it and the man's future in one boozy move.

(c) At his annual Kentucky Derby party, Roger Sterling sings in blackface while his young bride falls down drunk.

(d) An intoxicated Don Draper, driving with his lover beside him, crashes his new Cadillac. Peggy comes to his rescue.

(e) None of the above.

(f) All of the above.

So, how did you do?  For the answers, click HERE for the original Vancouver Sun article. 

Latest Trend: Meat Cocktails?

I absolutely enjoy having a cocktail (or a beer or a glass of vino) with my meal, which often has beef as the main course.  But this may be taking things a bit too far...

Yup.  That's it.  The "Meatwad".

Meat cocktails offer carnivorous pleasures in a drink

(from the Baltimore Sun)"Take a sip and dig in: Meat cocktails are the latest trend about to hit your favorite bar. Across the country, bacon and other meats are taking up spots on martini rims and salmon is swimming upstream and into your vodka. It may be time to eschew lemon and lime and embrace a sausage garnish. Here’s a look at the expanding world of meatier libations."

For the rest of the story, including recipes for the Apple Bacon Cheddar Martini, the Tenderloin Manhattan, and the appetizingly-named "Meatwad" (Yikes!), click HERE

The Skies Just Got a Little Friendlier....

From the people that brought you Nintendo, Hello Kitty, Cup O'Noodles and Godzilla:

(from Finally, the prayers of business-traveling beer lovers have been answered: Japan's All Nippon Airlines announced last week that it has developed Planet Earth's first in-flight beer dispenser. That's right: brew that's both on tap and onboard. For now, though, kegs on a plane are only available for domestic flights in Japan — in fact, none of the ANA flights featuring the service last more than two-and-a-half hours. Which is a good thing: the keg's capacity is just twenty cups.

But at least it works.

Thirsty passengers have been subjected to canned beer with their gourmet for so long because of problems having to do with air pressure. In case you've never barbacked or, you know, barbecued, the space in kegs that isn't filled with beer contains carbon dioxide — and high-pressure cylinders of gas aren't exactly allowed on passenger planes. But ANA shared its solution with Eat Like a Man on Tuesday afternoon, and, well, someone should have thought of this sooner: dry ice. The airline stores frozen CO2 in a low-pressure container, and as it sublimates — changing states from solid to gas — the hissy stuff gets sent to the container of beer, forcing it out the tap. Added bonus: using dry ice means the "epochal dispenser system" doesn't have to be refrigerated while in the air. (ANA also claims it can "make adjustments to the gas pressure to assure great tasting draft beer," which would make pressing that flight-attendant button a lot more useful — and a lot less demoralizing — if it were actually true.)

No word yet on what the beers offered will be, but for one thousand yen (about $11) a cup, it had better be good. While we're dealing with the alternative — a nice, warm can of the domestic stuff — we'll stick with a cocktail, thank you very much.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Basics of Beer: a Cheat Sheet

Do you like beer? Can you distinguish between the varieties of brew available in your local pub or liquor store: If so, this cheat sheet should help (with my examples in RED ):

(from Bewildered by the array of beers? Whether you're faced with 100 beer choices at one of the upcoming beer fests or just perusing the taps at a local tavern, here's a clip-and-save cheat sheet. Despite the myriad styles, all beers fall into two basic categories: ales and lagers. The difference is primarily in the yeast and the temperature at which the beer is fermented and conditioned. But varieties abound.
- - -


Medium-bodied and hoppier (or more bitter) than most, made primarily with pale malt.

Varieties: Bitters, extra special bitter (ESB), amber ale, red ale, American pale ale and India pale ale.

Examples: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Smithwick's Ale, Bass Pale Ale


Very dark with subtle flavors like chocolate and coffee. Stouts use roasted barley, porters a darker malt.

Varieties: Dry, sweet, milk, imperial stout and Baltic porter.

Examples: Guinness Extra Stout,  Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, Portsmouth Black Cat


A high percentage of wheat in addition to malt with a fruity aroma and flavor.

Varieties: Weissbier, hefeweizen and witbier are common varieties.

Examples: Hoegaarden, Aventinus, Widmer Hefeweisen, Leinenkugel Honey Wheat


Maltier than most with a higher alcohol content.

Varieties: Trappist and Abbey (brewed by monasteries), golden, Saison, Oud Bruin and lambic.

Examples: Duvel, Blue Moon Belgian White, Fat Tire Amber Ale


Extremely malty with an alcohol content closer to wine. Sometimes seasonally brewed, usually in winter.

Examples: Anchor Old Foghorn, Smithwick's Barley Wine, Bass No. 1
- - -



The style that influenced major U.S. brews like Budweiser, Miller and Coors. The more authentic version originates in the Czech city of Pilsen. Light in body and clean in taste.

Examples: Pilzner Urquell, Brooklyn Lager, Kirin, Corona Extra, Molson Golden, Bud Light


Most are malty with a well-balanced, dry finish.

Varieties: Oktoberfest lager (Marzen), bock and doppelbock and dunkel.

Examples: Shiner Bock, Paulaner Premium Lager, Dortmunder Union Export, Bitburger


Commonly referred to as "steam beer," which refers to fermentation at higher temperatures. Toasty, malty flavor.

Example: Anchor Steam Beer (the prototype!), Southampton West Coast Steam Beer, Old Dominion Victory Amber  

How to Open a Wine Bottle with a Shoe

For that horrifying moment that you realize you got a nice bottle of Red but don't have a corkscrew. (Note: this video is in French, so bare with the narrator "parlez vous-ing".)  This actually works. I tried it with a size-13 EEE Air Jordan! Voila!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reasons I Prefer to Drink Alcohol, #27: "Cat Poo Coffee"

Okay...a big WTF on this story.  I mean, I drink as much, or more, coffee as anyone.  But $30 a cup for THIS s**t?  C'mon, people!

Roasted coffee beans made from collecting the poop from the civet cat and picking out the beans. Called 'Kopi Luwak,' the beans can cost up to $400 a pound

Headline: Plucked from civet feces, 'cat poo coffee' is NYC's most expensive at $30 per cup

(from NY Daily News)  At $30 a cup, "Kopi Luwak" is made from beans collected from the droppings of a small, cat-like mammal called a civet.

The java - often called "cat poo coffee" - isn't everyone's cup of tea and was nearly banned in Indonesia this month for being unsanitary. (AAHour note: "Ya think?!")

Some New Yorkers, though, are saying bottom's up to the strange brew. At coffee shops like Porto Rico in the West Village, the orders come about once a week, said owner Peter Longo, 58.

"At first I did not want to take it on," Longo said. "I thought it was kind of dirty because of where it comes from."

The pricey coffee originated in Indonesia and the Philippines, where folks noticed the civets eating coffee berries, collected their droppings and picked out the beans.

Coffee consultant Michael Peter, 26, of Tamp Tamp Coffee Lab in New York, said the cats' stomach acids produce a smooth-tasting brew.

Westerners took note and began exporting the kitty-poo joe stateside in the last few years, Peter said. Because of its unique processing, a pound can cost from $340 to $400.

The Daily News bought a quarter pound of the predigested joe and offered some to city coffee drinkers alongside a sample of Ethiopia Michelle, a fruity flavored coffee that goes for about $3.50 a cup.

Peter, who had studied the coffee's origin but had never tasted it, blended 20 ounces and took a sip for the first time.

"It tastes earthy, musty. I try to be partial, but when I think where it comes from, I can smell the feces," Peter said. "It's not worth the price."

Ben Lieberman, 28, a coffee shop manager from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was turned off after the first sip.

"It has a dirty taste to it," Lieberman said. "It's heavy. It's like, 'Dude you just crapped in my coffee.'"

Mona Shomali and her husband, Ian Atkins, both 31 from Hell's Kitchen, proved they're true coffee aficionados by sampling a mug.

"I definitely like the kitty poo coffee better," Shomali said.

Her husband wasn't planning to shell out the cash for it, though.

"I'll drink it free," Atkins said. "With that price, I don't see adding cat-pooped coffee to my kitchen shelves."

Beer Saver Bottle Caps Save Your Suds

My question is: if you've already downed 11 brews, why wouldn't you finish off #12? You're gonna save that half a beer for later?  Really? Just asking....

(from "For those times a beer drinker just can’t finish #12 of a twelve pack of beer, Beer Savers from Beer Interactive has launched a new silicone bottle cap.

This is the world’s first silicone bottle cap for bottles. There are six different colors of Beer Savers. For parties where keeping track of a beer is a hassle they can be used as a beer charm.

Beer Savers will keep the bubbles bubbling longer after popping the original cap. They are have a snug fitting inner rim that helps keep the beer’s bubbles from escaping.

Beer Savers can also be used to keep bugs and drugs out of the adult beverage of choice for billions of people around the world."

Okay..."bugs AND drugs"?! Where inna hell are you drinking? A dive bar in Colombia? Jeez...

Drinking Lessons from "Tales of the Cocktail", NOLA

Tales of the Cocktail, just concluded down in New Orleans, was a 5-day festival celebrating Mixology, Bartending, and all things Booze. I just gotta schedule myself for this event in 2011. Colleen Rush of New called it a "Summer Camp for High-End Barflies." Here is some of the science dropped at this year's cocktail-filled convention.

(from New

* To prevent your olfactory palate from being overwhelmed by alcohol, leave your lips open when whiffing spirits. Keep your lips closed when sniffing beer and wine.

* “Dry shake” egg whites in a shaker without ice before shaking with ice to make the strongest, most stable egg foam for drinks like a flip or Pisco Sour.

* Immerse cut citrus in cold water spiked with Vitamin C powder to prevent browning.

* The minty freshness of mint comes from microscopic hairs on the leaf, not the leaf itself. Gently rub or press the leaves when muddling for mojitos or juleps. Crushing or tearing the leaf releases too much “green” flavor.

* Stir, instead of shake, to keep an all-spirit cocktail like a martini or Negroni from getting over-diluted with ice. Drinks with juices, liquers and other mixers should be shaken, not stirred.

* Whirl ice in a salad spinner to shake off excess water. This prevents overdilution.

* The back of your tongue is most sensitive to bitter tastes. It’s an evolutionary adaptation to detect poisonous plants, which are often bitter.

* Your nostrils alternate in sensitivity every 3 to 4 hours.

* And my favorite nugget of wisdom of all, from spirits writer David Wondrich, author of the upcoming Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl: “A dry gin martini is the shortest distance between two points.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

Floating Booze Party in San Diego May Be History

(from City officials in San Diego, tired of drunk frat boys littering their pristine coast, in 2007 banned drinking on the beach. But there's a loophole: "If you're floating, you're good," according to police. So thousands get wasted on rafts and inner tubes.

When the law was passed, it stated that "the sand or land area bordering the water of an ocean or bay," was off limits to drinking. So people started boozing on rubber rafts in the water just a few feet from the beach. Eventually, thousands of people would congregate for Floatopias — totally sick parties with beers, babes and bros/brahs (and floating beer pong!). "It's just fun that we're allowed to do this," one floating rager told the Wall Street Journal. "It's like you can't touch us, we're in the water."

But today the San Diego city council will vote on whether or not to make it "unlawful for any bather to consume any alcoholic beverage within one marine league of any beach." That means nearly three and a half miles from the shore. Buzz kill, brah.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Buena Vista Cafe (VIDEOCAST)

San Francisco's Buena Vista Cafe has been serving the best Irish Coffee in America since 1952. That's when the owner and a newspaper columnist brought the recipe from the Emerald Isle to this classic saloon near Fisherman's Wharf. Join me and watch this delicious whiskey and coffee concoction as it is made by the Masters.

To listen, click HERE. To download .mp3 audio, right click HERE and "save target as..."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wine Rack- will this gift be a "bust"? (Warning: "hilarity" to follow)

Hey! Don't "wine" at me, I didn't invent the damned thing....

(from NY Daily News) Gals who want their cups to runneth over can now sip on the sly, thanks to a sports bra that disguises some whopping jugs.

A New Jersey company that specializes in wacky gifts is selling the Wine Rack, an assets-enhancing piece of polyurethane that allows thirsty ladies to nurse their drinks.

"You won't find this at Victoria's Secret," boasted Paul Krasulja of, whose Web site also sells toilet-shaped coffee mugs, a remote control fart machine and edible G-strings.

Equipped with a drinking tube that's connected to the right cup, the sports bra holds up to 25 ounces of a beverage while giving ladies a plastic surgery-like lift of up to two sizes.

"It's not like one boob fills up and the other goes flat," Krasulja said. "I made my girlfriend put it on, and she looked good."

Ranging in size from the petite 32A to the amply endowed 38C, the Wine Rack would be a fit for either the Keira Knightley or Kim Kardashian set.

Krasulja touted the sports bra as a recession-friendly way to drink, offering women a sneaky method for combating high-priced drinks at sporting events. He said security guards aren't about to get hands-on, even with a well-endowed woman.

"You grab a woman there, fuggeddaboutit," he said. "But even if you put your hand on it, it would feel like a boob."

The Wine Bra sells for $29.95.

"I don't consider it fine lingerie," Krasulja said. "But it is a good-looking piece."

Transient Takes Over Empty Bar: "Whattaya have, pal?"

Hey! Give him credit for creativity....

The Host with the Most, "Bar Owner" Travis Kevie
(from Placer County sheriff's deputies say a man who opened a bar not only didn't have a license to serve booze but also didn't own the saloon.

Detective Jim Hudson read a newspaper article in the Auburn Journal that stated Travis Lloyd Kevie (photo above), 29, was the new owner of the Valencia Club on Taylor Road in Penryn. Hudson said he recognized Kevie as a "transient" whom deputies knew well.

Hudson was aware that the Valencia Club had previously closed its doors and the liquor license had been surrendered to the state.

So the curious detective went to the bar where patrons were bellied up to the bar to find out if Kevie had a new license, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

Hudson said he soon found out that there was no liquor license and Kevie, who had once worked on a clean-up crew for the previous owner, had no legal rights to the property.

Deputies said Kevie admitted that he broke into building and on Friday night threw an "Open" sign in the window. Soon, he was pouring for thirsty customers, deputies said.

Like other savvy business owners, he re-invested profits in the business: Kevie started with a six-pack of beer purchased from a convenience store across the street and used the proceeds from bar customers to buy more alcohol, deputies said.

He kept the bar open through the weekend, serving about 30 customers a day, deputies said.

Kevie was arrested on suspicion of burglary and selling alcohol without a license, deputies said.

A large amount of alcohol and cash was confiscated at the scene, the release states.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Absinthe cookies with your Cappuccino?

Absinthe, the high-alcohol, herbal, trippy-high inducing liquor, once banned, is making a comeback.  In San Francisco, in bars..and in BISCOTTI?! Check out this blog post from

Green Fairy in the Biscotti?

Before eating at the market vendors outside of the Ferry Building, we stopped by Blue Bottle, inside, to get caffeinated. But the item that caught my eye wasn’t the coffee (though it was good), but biscotti made with olive oil, sesame seeds, and absinthe from local distillery St. George Spirits. Absinthe in a cookie sounded weird for the sake of being weird, but when I tried it, it made total sense, just giving it a traditional anise flavor. The cookie itself was a little too soft and crumbly for me, but the idea behind it was creative and worked.

"Big Shots: the Men Behind the Booze" by A.J. Baime

Every once in a while I want to share some of my favorite books, movies, TV shows and music with you...all with an "Attitude Adjustment Hour" flair.

Did you ever wonder who Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, or Johnnie Walker were?  Well, "Big Shots: the Men Behind the Booze" is a really great little book by Maxim and Playboy writer/ editor A.J. Baime.  The book came out in 2003, and it'll give you the true stories behind the men on those bottles of  rum, gin, Tequila, and Bourbon.  Fun, funny, fascinating.  If you like your cocktails, I'm sure you'll love this book!

And check out those prices on the link...C-C-C-Cheap! 

Kidnapped Baseball Hall of Famer's Arm Returned to Saloon

(from A package was delivered to Lefty O'Doul's Restaurant and Tavern.  Inside the box was the severed left arm of Lefty O'Doul, legendary San Francisco baseball player and manager.

Okay, technically, it was the detached left arm of a mannequin that had been Lefty's stand-in near the entrance of his Geary Street saloon for many years.  Two patrons, more-than-likely drunker than s**t on Lefty's Bloody Marys, nabbed the plaster extremity 3 years ago and took it on a Nationwide ride.

For the rest of the story, click HERE

For my audio podcast on Lefty O'Doul's (and it's sister saloon, The Gold Dust Lounge), click HERE!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Help the Gulf, buy a beer...Abita's S.O.S.- A Charitable Pilsner

The most beloved beer in New Orleans comes from the Abita Brewery.  And they have announced a special brew with proceeds going towards relief and restoration for the Gulf oil spill disaster: S.O.S.- A Charitable Pilsner.

The 22-ounce bottle of golden brew has a kick- 7% alcohol content, as opposed to the usual 5% . It will be avalable wherever Abita beer is sold.

The bottles will feature hand-drawn shrimp, boats, pelicans and other Gulf coast fishing icons arranged in "SOS," in this case meaning "Save Our Shores."

Seventy-five cents from each Charitable Pilsner sold will go directly to the SOS Fund. As to where those dollars will then go: "We're going to be very flexible," says an Abita representative. "We want to support relief efforts both large and small, and get the money where it needs to fishermen, to the environment."

Merchandise (hats, tees, car decals, pins, magnets) is available online, all of which will donate 100% of profits to the fund. The SOS campaign's corresponding website will also serve as a message board for spreading hope, sharing stories and, understandably, blowing off steam.

A similar effort was previously launched after Hurricane Katrina, resulting in over half a million dollars. (thanks to

For Abita's website, click HERE!

Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan get send-ups with signature cocktails

According to the "Ministry of Gossip" at, these two troubled celebs have been honored with special libations at Bird's Cafe in Hollywood.

"The Mel Gibson Martini: Vodka martini with a very white onion. Warning: offensive smell. May leave a bad taste in your mouth."

"The Lohan: Vodka and lime juice.  Not at all sweet. Careful: two drinks can land you in jail and kill your career."

Hmmm.  I'll stick with a beer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Beer is sloshing through tough times

They have a saying in the beer industry:  "People will drink when they have money, and they'll probably drink even more when they don't."

But lately, that doesn't seem to be the case as the beer biz takes a bit of a hit. For the whole story, click HERE!

Hey, I'll do my part, ferchrissakes! Please do yours!  Be a Good American, buy more Beer!

The 3-Martini Lunch is back....

...on TV, anyways!  Martinis, Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Mai Tais.  It's Cocktail City as "Mad Men" Season 4 premieres on AMC this Sunday night at 10/9 Central on AMC.

To get up to speed on all the "Madness" check out AMC's website, click HERE!