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Archive for April, 2009

by Pinky Gonzales

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Photo by: Jennifer Lucey-Brzoza

Eilen Jewell is a local musician – singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, harmonica player – in the modern Americana vein, worthy of our attention. We mention her here in our column in the Weekly Dig. She and her killer band have just released their third (third time’s a charm!) album, Sea of Tears, which is one of those records that’s hard to take out of your player – especially in the car with the top down and the breeze blowin’. A recent review describes their sound as “where rockabilly, Chicago blues, café jazz, country, and swing collide and create a new musical galaxy.” They all also make their own southern-inspired “moonshine” – I’ve had the pleasure of sipping some of bassist Johnny Sciascia’s. Give a listen on Eilenjewell.com, buy a CD, or check them out on May 8th at the Iron Horse in Northampton. Being the fine gal she is, Eilen (pronounced EE-lynn) shares some good thoughts on booze, bars, and musical broads with us here:

1. What do you like to drink?

Kalimoxos!  A kalimoxo is a Basque drink that is served in my favorite hang, Bar Gernika, in my hometown of Boise, Idaho (where there is a vivid community of people from the Basque country).  You take cheap red wine–it has to be cheap or else it won’t be as good–and you pour it over ice and stir in an equal amount of Coca-Cola.  It’s kind of like a poor man’s sangria, especially fabulous in the summertime.

2. Who’s a woman in music everyone should know and why?

Jessie Mae Hemphill!  She’s an unsung hero.  Her music is so amazing, I’ll never understand why she’s not a household name.  I’m trying to do my part to change that.

3. Name somebody, past or present, you’d enjoy sipping a cocktail with.

James Joyce, because I imagine that everything he said would either fascinate me, disturb me deeply, or make me laugh, or all three at once.  Plus, I’m not Irish at all, but I’ve never met an Irish person I didn’t like–or an Irish drink, for that matter.

4. Why is it that so many blues (etc.) songs have references to alcohol in them, and has any song ever piqued your interest in drinking?

I think a lot of artists mention alcohol in their songs because it has meaning to a lot of people, as do things like love and traveling.  Almost everyone has some strong feelings about it.  When I first turned 21 I was really starting to get into Bessie Smith.  She sings a song called “Me and My Gin,” which I found amusing because it details the various mean things she does when gin is involved.  One verse of it goes, “Don’t try me nobody ’cause you will never win / Don’t try me nobody ’cause you will never win / I’ll fight the army and navy, just me and my gin.”  This is probably the reason I tried it out for the first time.  Or did I try out Bessie Smith because I liked gin?  I can’t remember, but the two are intertwined.

s_seaoftears5. What are you excited about with the new release Sea of Tears?

I’m excited by our slightly new sound.  With Sea of Tears we accidentally threw in some early rock n’ roll, and to my ears it works well next to our countryish/bluesish/rockabilly-type stuff on our first two records.  I’m also excited to tour Europe again this fall and the rest of the country this spring and summer.  Onward and upward!

6. You cover a Loretta Lynn tune on the new album, as well as have a side project/LL tribute band called “Butcher Holler”. What’s something you really admire about Loretta [besides her signing your guitar!]

She’s got a flawless, gripping voice.  Her songwriting is quirky but poetic in a way that only she could pull off.  I’ve heard it said that she has had more of her songs banned than any other country music artist, which I think is pretty awesome.  With songs like “Dear Uncle Sam,” one of the few anti-war country songs in existence, and “Rated X” and “The Pill” which came right out and talked about divorce and birth control while they were still very taboo–man, she’s gutsy!  I wish more people up there on the country music charts were keeping their listeners on their toes, rather than simply conforming to and confirming their flag-waving, bigoted stereotypes.  Don’t get me stahhted.

7. What was on your mind when you wrote High Shelf Booze? [awesome song from last year’s release, Letters From Sinners & Saints]

High Shelf Booze is a song I wrote about one of my friends.  She survived a horrible, messy break-up by going out, having fun and dating lots of men and women.  I’m not sure whether it worked for her, but I guess the song isn’t exactly about pragmatic solutions.

8. You’ve done a lot of touring and traveling all over the world now. What are some of your favorite bars?

I know I will accidentally omit at least one and anger a few people, but off the top of my head….The Maple Leaf in New Orleans, Drink in Boston, El Sol in Madrid, Bar Gernika in Boise, the Tir Na Nog in Somerville (gone but never forgotten!), the Paradiso in Amsterdam, the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain and the Oyster Bar in St. Francisville, Lousiana.  Last month, when we were in Louisiana, one of the highlights of the tour was that the bartender at the Oyster Bar gave me and the band a free bumper sticker.  It reads, “Gator Bit.  If you hit the pit.  The Oyster Bar.”  We will forever puzzle over what that could mean.

9. Any tips on drinking in moderation?

I suppose my ability to moderate comes from learning the hard way.  You have to respect the drink.

10. Do you have a secret weapon that keeps you going?

My secret weapons are positive thinking and negative thinking.  Positive thinking comes in handy before the show, when I’m getting ready to go on stage.  I visualize how I want the show to go, how I want to be and act, and that focuses my nervous energy.  And negative thinking–also known as a jaded sense of humor–keeps me from taking things too seriously.  It keeps me laughing at the stupid shit.

We’ll drink to that.


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According to a recent Zagat Survey article, “Bostonians are very aware of the nutritional and environmental impacts of the food they eat… 78% of surveyors like their food to be locally grown or raised..”  — Zagat is referring to your entree, but it follows that we Bostonian/Cantabrigians appreciate environmentally-friendly cocktails as well. With that we high-five Hungry Mother, who won the 2008 “Champions in Recycling” Award from waste management company, Save That Stuff. The award “recognizes clients and partners who consistently demonstrate outstanding recycling practices and innovative approaches to waste management. Hungry Mother… uses sustainable and local ingredients whenever possible. They are committed to recycling as much as they possibly can—recycling over 80% of their waste with us, including organics, bottles and cans, paper and cardboard!”

Even better?  Alon from Hungry Mother reinforces what we’ve read on SaveThatStuff.comrecycling is cheaper than trash pick-up.  From Day 1 HM has been recycling, composting, using non-toxic cleaning supplies, buying organic/sustainably raised produce and using straws and stirrers that are made of corn and are compostable.  HM, we’ll be in shortly to toast you with a No. 49. (See the full list of SaveThatStuff’s recyclers/composters!)

top_backyard_greenAnd finally, we googled the shit out of researched “spirit” + “sustainable” and asked bar managers around the city to name the organic/sustainable spirits on their bars.  To name a few:
GIN: Bluecoat Gin, Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin

VODKA: 360 Vodka, Rain Organic Vodkas, Crop Organic Tomato Vodka, 888 Organic Vodka, Tru Organic Vodka, 360 Organic Vodka, Reyka Vodka (geothermal production facility), Square One Vodka, Orange V Vodka, Prairie Organic Vodka

ASSORTED: 4 Copas Tequila, Del Maguey Mezcal, Papagayo organic rums, Sparkling Brut (Gruet), VeeV Acai Spirit, Loft Organic Liqueurs, Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.

The Samurai
From H Ehrmann of Elixir, SF
2 oz. Square One Cucumber
1/2 oz. Sake
1/2 oz. lemongrass syrup*
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
* Lemongrass Syrup – Trim the stalk at the bottom and just past the heart of the stalk (4-5 inches). Cut the heart lengthwise down the middle and with a mallet pound the lemongrass to break it up.  Boil lemongrass in one cup of water for 2-3 minutes then add one cup of sugar slowly, stirring constantly to dissolve.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 3-5 minutes until syrupy.  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Pour through a strainer into a storage bottle.  Refrigerate.

Lawn Mower
from Nicole Aloni of The Backyard Bartender
1 cup diced, ripe honeydew, cantaloupe or seedless watermelon
1 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint
About 1/2 cup cold brut Champagne or dry sparking wine
Puree the melon and strain into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add vodka, Cointreau, lime juice and mint. Shake vigorously to infuse. Strain the mixture into chilled glass, top with champagne float.

Cin cin!

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Mint Juleps at GRAND

“I’m from the South, you know…my mother served these at her fifth wedding.”
-Mint-juelp sampling guest at the GRAND yesterday

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Shop & Sip at GRAND (the store) yesterday! Especially those who turned out in seersucker, sundresses and “say something” hats.

For those who missed the event but would like to mix some of these up at home, here’s the recipe. Sip one of these while you ruminate over which pony to put your money on next Saturday. For authentic julep cups to help make your Derby Day festivities as authentic as can be, stop by the Boston Shaker store at GRAND.

CLASSIC MINT JULEP

2 springs of mint
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Crushed Ice

Pour simple syrup into a glass. Gently muddle one sprig of mint into the simple syrup, then remove mint.

Fill glass with crushed ice, then add Bourbon, top with more crushed ice, and stir.

Garnish with the fresh sprig of mint and enjoy!

Cin cin!

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Complimentary Mint Juleps AND 10% off at Grand this Saturday!

LUPEC will be teaming up with GRAND (the store) in Union Square, for their monthly “Sip & Shop”, tomorrow, April 25th from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm.

The Kentucky Derby will be only days away and LUPEC will be serving up some delicious Mint Juleps to celebrate! It’s going to be 80º and sunny so stroll on down for some refreshment, and to check out all the new stuff at Grand!

Throw on your big hats and your Southern charm, and join the Ladies of LUPEC for some sipping and shopping at the hippest boutique this side of the Mason-Dixon line.

Cin-cin!

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We LUPEC broads love to cocktail for a cause, so whenever we’re out and about and know our bar is doing their part to go green we feel pretty good stumbling home.

the perfect cocktail garnish plucked from your windowsil.

the perfect cocktail garnish plucked from your windowsil.

Kudos to some of our favorites (as mentioned in this week’s Dig), who have been doing it so long it’s old hat by now — yet still awesome. The staff at Toro in the South End has their bases covered, actively reducing their carbon footprint every day. Our favorite angle? They source locally grown and sustainably raised ingredients whenever possible, reducing the “food miles” ingredients must travel from the farm to our kitchen to your plate, and use virtually all parts of the animal being served whenever possible, harking back to rural traditions of reduced waste and delicious thrift. Additionally, all take-out products are made from biodegradable materials, all glass is recycled, biodegradable waste is composted, and an in-house water filtration system supplies guests who yearn for “Sparkling or Still.”

Christopher’s, Cambridge Common, Lizard Lounge, Toad and West Side Lounge in Cambridge use Save That Stuff for recycling and send compost to Brick Ends Farm in Hamilton. How did they get started? Owner Holly Helsop told us “It was one of our goals when we opened Christopher’s in 1981, and it’s grown from there. So we began recycling, installed an in-house water purification system (eliminating the need for bottled water)… from the very beginning.” Are patrons surprised/curious/delighted when they find out about the initiatives? Yes, however, since they “never intended to use our commitment as a ‘draw’ we haven’t really done too much in the way of publicizing what we do. We would do it anyway.” *swoon!*

Owners Bob & Mary Jo Sargent of Flora have been committed to supporting local/organic farmers for nearly two decades. Their wine list contains several biodynamic and organic wines. They even save wine corks for crafts people and local home-based wine makers — resourceful, no?

The Independent in Union Square hosts organic wines and local & craft beers, serves organic food, and recycles. Done and done!

Get your garnishes fresh and local: grow’em or find a farmer’s market at www.massfarmersmarkets.org.

More tips for your home bar can be found here, here and here.

Know of a bar worth a mention? Comment away! Know of a bar that you wish was on board? Let them know it’s important, easy, and cheap to go green.

HOME ON THE RANGE
1 oz bourbon
1 oz Red Dubonnet
1/2 oz Cointreau
1 dash Angostura bitters
Add orange & lemon peels, stir in mixing glass with ice & strain

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Rachel Carson at Woods Hole in 1929, where she studied marine life.

Rachel Carson at Woods Hole in 1929, where she studied marine life.

Happy Earth Day!  This week lift a glass for Mother Earth and her constituents: Among them, Rachel Louise Carson (May 27 1907 – 1964), renowned scientist and author whose writing spurred the environmental movement in the US.

Carson earned a masters in zoology at Johns Hopkins (magna cum laude) in 1929 and when hired as an aquatic biologist was the second female employed full-time at the US Bureau of Fisheries in 1932. In the 1950s she wrote three national bestsellers drawing public attention to environmental issues; The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea resulted in Carson being awarded two honorary doctorates and Silent Spring (1962) led to the ban on DDT and other pesticides and inspired a grassroots environmental organization that would later form the Environmental Defense Fund.  June 9, 1980 Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, by President Jimmy Carter in recognition of her influence on national policy and her foundational role in the environmental movement. Carlson was described as ‘quiet, diffident, neat, proper and without affectation,’ but according to TIME, she was not prim despite her modesty and restraint: “She had a mischievous streak, a tart tongue and confidence in her own literary worth.”

Fans of LUPEC, celebrate earth day (and the mischievous women in your life) by making your Last Words green and your cocktailing greener –- recycle, start an herb garden, buy local and support your local gin joints that are already faithfully doing their part (more on that next!)

DEEP SEA
1.5 oz gin (Old Tom or London dry)
1 oz dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
.25 oz pastis
lemon twist
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain.

Cin cin!

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DIY Syrups

by Bourbon Bellephoto

In Part I of the Syrup Series, we discussed that making your own home made versions of the highly available (and highly artificial) syrups used in modern and classic cocktails (like simply syrup and grenadine), is almost as easy as strolling down to your corner liquor store and purchasing a bottle.  This week we’ll focus on creating your own original flavored syrups, because what you’re looking for, doesn’t actually exist!

I encountered this “problem” today, when I was trying to create a cocktail with a certain flavor profile.  I was interested in seeing what the flavor of lemongrass would impart in a tipple, so I decided I would make my own lemongrass syrup.

I started by making a basic simply syrup, then added some chopped lemongrass and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Next, I strained out the lemongrass and let the syrup cool. What could be easier than that?!

I had also been thinking about making my own ginger syrup.  Although there are some pretty good ones on the market, I really wanted to capture the spice and punch of fresh raw ginger, which I feel the others are lacking.

I stared by juicing about a cup of whole fresh ginger root. If you don’t happen to have a juicer, you can pulverize the ginger in a food processor, then place the ginger in cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice. The yield will be lower, so you’ll have to use more ginger than with the juicer method.

Once you have your ginger juice, simply add some of the juice to your simple syrup, and voila!

You can try making your own flavored syrups like these, with any number of herbs, spices, fruit peels, etc.  Be creative!

LEMONGRASS SYRUP
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 stocks lemongrass

Cut the butt end off of the lemongrass stock, and cut again about 4 to 5 inches from bottom. Discard the top and bottom. Slice the remaining stock into 1/8 inch slices, on the bias (to obtain the most surface area).

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir until sugar dissolves.

Add the lemongrass to the simple syrup, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out lemongrass. Let syrup cool, and store in an airtight jar for up to 1 week.

GINGER SYRUP

Juice 1 cup of fresh ginger root, peel on

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger juice for every 2 oz of simple syrup.

Some simple recipe ideas using these syrups!

THE ADAPTED PIMM’S COCKTAIL
In a tall glass, filled with ice, add:
1 slice peeled cucumber
2 oz Pimm’s No 1
2 oz  ginger syrup
4 oz soda water
Muddle cucumber in the bottom of a mixing glass.  Add Pimms and ginger syrup. Fill mixing glass with ice and shake vigorously.  Pour contents into a tall glass and top with soda water.
Garnish with a slice of cucumber and enjoy!

THAI LEMONGRASS TOM COLLINS

In a tall glass, filled with ice, add:
2 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz lemongrass syrup
fill with soda water and garnish with a wedge of lemon

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by Pinky Gonzales

  still from The Mender of Nets, 1912

still from The Mender of Nets, 1912

Mary Pickford, Hollywood producer, philanthropist, Oscar-winning actress, imbiber, was born April 8, 1892 and we salute her! Apparently she was much better at the first three, but she got a cocktail named after her all the same. She did a lot of work helping struggling actors during the Depression years while making over a hundred films, eventually leading to an Honorary Oscar in 1976 – only one of eight women in Academy history to receive such. We also mentioned her in a recent Dig column.

Here are a few cocktails which with to toast her, bearing the names of her silent films Ramona (1910), and Rosita (1923):

THE RAMONA
This drink is credited to esteemed L.A. bartender Vincenzo Marianella, who works in the same town as the The Mary Pickford Foundation and Institute ( film education, scholarships, preservation.) Don’t know the story behind the drink’s name, but we found the recipe at TheLiquidMuse.com (thanks Natalie!)

2 oz of premium rum
3/4 oz Marie Brizard Apry
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 bar-spoon Papaya Orange Habanero Marmalade
1 dash Gary Regan’s orange bitters
garnish: 1 jalapeno pepper
Shake ingredients, with ice, and fine strain it into a cocktail glass. Drop a thin slice of jalapeno into the drink. Take the rest of jalapeno and squeeze it over the drink to release the spicy oil into the cocktail.

  dramatic moment in Rosita, 1923

dramatic moment in Rosita, 1923

ROSITA
The origin of this cocktail is unknown.

1 1/2 oz. silver tequila
1/2 oz. Campari
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
Stir with ice, strain into an iced filled Old Fashioned glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist.

MARY PICKFORD
Created for her by the legendary Prohibition-era barman from Havana, Eddie Woelke – also the creator of El Presidente cocktail. (Version courtesy of J.G.)

1.5 oz white rum
1 oz fresh pineapple juice
.25 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
.25 oz grenadine
Shake & strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

mp3

Still from Poor Little Rich Girl, 1917 - Also the name of a great woman-owned vintage clothing store in Cambridge and Boston!

All images from the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education http://www.marypickford.com/index.php/library/photo-gallery

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zenmartini1 by Pinky Gonzales

For those of you who consider the Pink Gin an old familiar friend (not to be confused with LUPEC member Pink Gin), below you’ll find an array of comments on its existence. For the unacquainted, or who read this week’s Dig column to the bitter end, Pink Gin is a keep-it-simple, Zen-like libation, which looks tranquil enough but can scorch your gizzard if drank with abandon. However, it’s a fine way to try various brands of gin and bitters if you wish, or simplify life in general while achieving enlightenment.

Plymouth gin is most favored here for it’s palatable smoothness and historical use. High-ranking British Royal Navy Officers were known to celebrate their high seas happy hour with straight gin-with-bitters (as opposed to swilling ubiquitous rum like their lowly, not possibly as manly, subordinates). Angostura bitters was something sailors were accustomed to as a remedy for sea sickness, fevers, and stomach disorders, so why not mix medicines, right? They referred to this cocktail as “pinkers” or “pink gin.” They even had a special flag or “gin pennant” on ship they’d hoist up announcing it was Miller time in the wardroom to other ships’ officers. It was an inconspicuous green triangle which depicted a drinking glass.

“It certainly goes a ways toward explaining how an island off the coast of Europe ended up ruling one-fourth of the earth’s land surface,” quips David Wondrich. His Esquire drinks database recipe instructs one to roll around a few good drops of Angostura in an Old-Fashioned glass, dump them out, then pour in 2 ounces of Plymouth et voilà.

Personally, I like a chilled Pink Gin, but not all my fellow LUPEC’rs do or care. Robert Hess has a good video of himself stirring up a Pink Gin and serving it in a small cocktail glass. He uses 1.5 oz of Hendrick’s in his. It’s on his excellent Small Screen Network here. If you are easily distracted like me you can mouse your cursor over the liquor bottles and watch the words “liquor bottles” pop up, or over Robert’s shirt that it declares a “bowling shirt,” etc. Just saying.

LUPEC Boston’s one-and-only water engineer and devoted Kingsley Amis fan, Pink Gin, says that the traditional Plymouth with Angostura, warm or chilled, is her preference. She was very against Amis’ preferred Booth’s Gin,  however, though she and “DUDEPEC” member K. Montuori both agree that Miller’s Gin with a little orange bitters “makes for a nice change of scenery.”

The honorary Barbara West likes Plymouth with Angostura “warm and blushing,” while LUPEC Prez Hanky Panky similarly likes “rose-colored.”

Other variations: Pink Lady says a chilled, Genever “pinker” is a positive experience. Fee’s peach bitters with Old Tom gin is a personal favorite variation, though Bourbon Belle and I do not recommend this as a way to finish off an evening of imbibing.
And lastly, Panky, Joe Rickey, and “John Collins” (Dudepec) over at Drink have been setting afire the Angostura then pouring in 2 oz Plymouth. They’ve been referring to this as “Burnt Toast”, and it is positively dee-licious.

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