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Stranger Things In Austin

Floppy Disk Repair in AustinIf you're a child of the 1980s like me, you'll probably like the Netflix series Stranger Things. You'll definitely appreciate period details such as the floppy disk.  I thought about the show as Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den and I recently savored cocktails at the Floppy Disk Repair Company in Austin.  Courtesy of Chris, who remembered us when he worked and we drank at a different watering hole, we imbibed a number of cocktails.  The Racketeer is spectacular, especially if you think you're a Whiskey Queen, and other standouts included unusual libations such as the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and familiar ones like the Vieux Carre.

The atmosphere is funky (in a good way).  You can get high quality cocktails in a beer and a shot environment. A quick word of advice -- you can't just walk in.  Even though the fake speakeasy trend peaked awhile ago, the Floppy Disk Repair Company insists you message it beforehand, and then you get clues for the passcode.  It doesn't take much effort (just 24 hours advance planning) and the cocktails are worth it.

Like the speakers in Spinal Tap and one of the main characters in Stranger Things, the Floppy Disk Repair Company goes to 11.


Tasty, Political, and Timely -- The Nasty Woman

Do you know a nasty woman? Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a "nasty woman" during the last Presidential debate. I did not watch any of the debates (deliberately vague full disclosure -- I dislike one candidate and despise the other). However, I did watch the very funny Saturday Night Live sketches of the debates, including the last one that spawned Trump's comment and ultimately this cocktail. Many thanks to Jenni Avins who created this drink and posted it on the Quartz website.

 

Nasty Woman1.5 ounces blanco or reposado tequila (hola Herradura)
1 ounce cherry juice (like Avins, I use Trader Joe's brand)
Juice from 1/2 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with (I could go 10 ways with this considering the drink name and the political climate), and strain into a chilled glass.  Lime garnish optional.

Pairing cherry juice, which is a key component in the National, with tequila seems odd, but the Nasty Woman makes it work (that sounds bad, doesn't it?).  This cocktail takes the Cointreau or Grand Marnier out of a Margarita and brings in cherry juice.  The result is a little sweet, a little tart, and very powerful.

If you're not in the mood to watch or discuss politics, I suggest watching Cleveland from Family Guy ("that's naaaasty") or listening to some tunes from Janet Jackson (Ms. Jackson if you're nasty).  And when the election ends and/or you're out of tequila  -- have an El Presidente.

 


The Other Sweet Science -- Pugilecello

"Sweet science" refers to boxing, a sport of brutal elegance.  Although the genesis of the term is unclear, it pays homage to the simultaneous focus on objective "science" (e.g. physics, leverage, power) and subjective "sweet" art (e.g. timing, finesse, drama).  The closest I get to boxing is going a couple of rounds on the heavy bag at the gym.  I do this with all the grace and ferocity of the Tasmanian Devil (the cartoon character, not the animal) having a seizure.

PugilecelloFortunately I'm much better at making cocktails and liqueurs.  "Pugile" is the Italian word for boxer.  Pugilecello is a combination of moracello (blackberry liqueur) and mirtillocello (blueberry liqueur).  Here was my thought process in naming it: "black and blue" --"bruiser" -- "boxer."  Making it is a lot easier than going a round with iconic American boxers such as Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, and Floyd Mayweather.

Round One -- Combine 12 ounces of blackberries (preferably organic), 12 ounces of blueberries (preferably organic), and one liter of 190 proof grain alcohol, e.g. Everclear, in a container.  Wait one week. 

Round Two -- Make super simple syrup with four cups of water and three cups of sugar.  Wait until it cools to room temperature.  Strain the berries from the Round One mixture and combine with the super simple syrup.   Store in a cool, dark place for four weeks.

Round Three -- Savor this sweet science while watching a boxing match, clips of classic fights such as the Thrilla in Manila, or a movie such as Rocky (the first one is a great film, and like any good sports movie, it's only about the sport on its most superficial level).

Before you step into the ring with pugilecello, here's some advice -- it may float like a butterfly, but it can sting like a bee.


Great Scot! -- The Bobby Burns

Robert Burns was an 18th century Scottish poet and a big deal in the Romantic movement.  Even if you're like me and don't know much about poetry, you probably have heard his most famous poem -- Auld Lang Syne.  It's the song everyone massacres on New Year's Eve because they don't know the  words and/or have had too many cocktails (the title roughly translates as "days gone by" or "old times"). 

2 ounces scotch (I used Monkey Shoulder)
1 ounce sweet vermouth (I love Carpano Antica)
.5 ounces Benedictine

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the grace and passion of creating your own liquid poetry, and strain into a chilled glass.

Combining these ingredients may look odd, but they complement each other nicely.  You can adjust the ratios depending on the taste of the scotch you use, or how sweet you want the drink to be.  I suggest scotch constitute at least half of the Bobby Burns.

The Bobby Burns is one of many Scottish things and/or people that I like.  Others include the actor Sean Connery and bagpipe music.  Yes, bagpipe music.   If hearing a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace (click on the above link) doesn't move you, you have no soul.

Whether your cultural tastes run towards Robert Burns from Scotland or Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons, you'll like the Bobby Burns.  But unless you have Scottish blood in you, please don't start singing Auld Lang Syne.


What's In Your Bourbon?

It's all about the mash bill.  This isn't the name of a rock band (although it could be).  The mash bill is the specific grain recipe for a whiskey.  If you read the Den post about bourbon being an alcoholic example of American Exceptionalism, you learned its mash bill must contain at least 51% corn.  

What happens once a bourbon distiller meets the 51% threshold?  In theory, almost anything. I recently found this article on the Bourbon Of The Day website.  The article provides an excellent overview of the four standard grains (corn,  barley, rye, and wheat) and the three general recipes (traditional, high rye, and wheat) distillers use to create their bourbons. As the article astutely notes, there can be a lot of variations not just with the proportions of the grains, but also with the grains themselves.

So, with apologies to the Capital One ad with Samuel L. Jackson, what's in your bourbon?


Repeal Day

Betty Boop wishes you a happy Repeal Day boop-oop-a-doop.
Betty Boop wishes you a happy Repeal Day boop-oop-a-doop.

Repeal Day is important to so many Americans who know nothing about it.  On December 5, 1933 the state of Utah became the final state needed to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.  The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment -- Prohibition.

The 21st Amendment ended what was a disastrous attempt at social engineering, as well as an unfortunate example of unintended consequences. If you want to read more about this important period of American history, I highly recommend Last Call by Daniel Okrent. If you want something less intellectual, watch The Untouchables, listen to music from great Prohibition era artists such as Louis Armstrong or Billie Holiday, or look at the photo of Betty Boop (whose cartoon character first came onto the scene during the tail end of Prohibition).

Want to celebrate Repeal Day with style?  Have a cocktail that someone created in the U.S. during Prohibition, e.g. the Scofflaw or the 12 Mile Limit, or have a cocktail that an American created outside of the U.S. during Prohibition, e.g. the Boulevardier or the El Presidente. Hell, just have something to drink.

If there ever was a day of celebration for Americans who choose to imbibe, Repeal Day is it.  A toast to the 21st Amendment!


007 Orders a Cosmo?

Yes (with sugar free cranberry juice!).  He also orders a strawberry daiquiri with three umbrellas, a Robitussin and tonic .........

Calm down.  James Bond doesn't actually order those  cocktails in the movies or novels.  Fortunately Daniel Craig, who has played 007 in four movies, has an excellent sense of humor.  Watch below or click here to see a hilarious clip from Craig's recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Thanks to my friend (and fellow Bond geek) Sarah for telling me about this clip. 

If you want to read more about the drinking habits of 007 and his creator, look at James Bond's ABC and Drinking Like Ian Fleming.  Or just click the James Bond archive tab on the right to see everything the Den has to offer about Bond, James Bond.

 

 

 


Good Things Come In Threes -- The Triple Orange

Inspiration can strike at any time.  This citrusy epiphany came one night as I stared at the lineup of homemade liqueurs in my refrigerator.  The number three is important in American society, e.g. three branches of government, the Triple Crown in baseball and horse racing, etc., so I decided to see what I could do with three ingredients of the same flavor.  And voila -- the Triple Orange.

Triple Orange2.25 ounces vodka
.75 ounces Lupo arancello (orange liqueur)
Juice from 1/4 orange
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the excitement of winning the Triple Crown (like you're Miguel Cabrera or American Pharoah's owner), and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel garnish optional.

You make Lupo arancello just as you would make Lupo limoncello, but you use oranges instead of lemons. If you can't wait to make a batch of arancello, use Cointreau or something similar as a substitute.  However, as arancello is sweeter (half of it is super simple syrup) if you use a substitute you may want to scale back on the juice and/or bitters, or add some super simple syrup.

Plan to have three Triple Oranges?  To paraphrase the old Doublemint gum commercial, you'll have triple the fun.  And probably triple vision and triple the hangover.


Rye -- The Comeback Kid Of American Liquor

Ryes
My favorite ryes for cocktails include Bulleit (with cufflinks), Willett, and Rittenhouse.

Rye whiskey has a long history in the United States.  As Carrie Allan writes in her excellent article (click here to read it), currently we're in a renaissance of the spirit that is intertwined with the country's history. George Washington distilled it at Mount Vernon, it effectively was the whiskey in the Whiskey Rebellion, and Prohibition damn near killed it. 

I'm all for the renewed interest in rye.  To me it is spicier and packs a more overt punch than bourbon.  Like other spirits, there are variations, e.g. Allan discusses the difference between the Maryland and Pennsylvania styles.   Rye is not for everyone, especially if you prefer your whiskey neat or on the rocks.  For example, my friends Chuck and Tom love bourbon, but they don't care for rye.  I guess that leaves more for me.

Rye is the base spirit of a number of cocktails in the Wulf Cocktail Den.  If you're interested in rye (if you've read this far, you probably are), click the rye category tab on the right and see what catches your eye.  It's fine if more than one piques your curiosity. Whatever you decide to drink, think what Homer Simpson might say about the renaissance of rye: "Whoohoo!  In your face Prohibition!"


Bliss In A Glass -- The Tranquilo

This is what George Costanza from Seinfeld meant when he insisted on having "Serenity now!"
This is what George Costanza from Seinfeld meant when he emphatically insisted on having "Serenity now!"  Of course, he didn't get what he wanted.

Want to relax?  Take the edge off?  Has someone told you to "chill the (rhymes with duck) out" and you know they're right?

When (not if) you answer yes to any of these questions, have a Tranquilo.  I adapted this from a cocktail at the Sanctuary Cap Cana resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which is the site of many blissful moments for me and my far better half. 

2.25 ounces light rum
Juice from 1/4 lime
.75 ounces glorious grenadine

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the rhythm of rolling waves hitting the beach at sunset, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Tranquilo is a simple cocktail, so I guess in this instance simplicity equals serenity. You can use a gold or dark rum instead of light rum. Regardless of the rum you use, psychologically speaking the Tranquilo will get you to where you want to go.  Isn't that the point of cocktails?