muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Still trying to strike that elusive balance between my responsibilities and my sanity. I declared Saturday my "day off", which practically speaking meant that from about four thirty in the afternoon until ten a.m. the next morning, I did nothing for the household or for my husband. After dinner and the opera with Nuphy, I rode the Blue Line for the first time in at least two years to join up with a pal's pub crawl. Unfortunately, a simple glance at the CTA map was not enough to orient me in a neighbourhood I've been to all of once in full daylight so I ended up going off in entirely the wrong direction and tracing a nice little box bounded by Sacramento and Fullerton before almost literally running into my quarry outside a bougie club on Milwaukee. On the way, I was nearly run down crossing the street and then tackled by an aggressive hound and began to get the feeling the neighbourhood had it in for me.

So I missed the first two stops, but still managed to visit (in sequence) The Whistler, Spilt Milk, Estereo, Las Flores, and Billy Sunday. Somehow, I managed to have only one drink (a Manhattan variant called a "Yellowpoint") at the first location. At Spilt Milk, I still felt a bit woozy, so I waited, but Estereo had nothing I wanted, Las Flores was no longer serving alcohol (yet checked our IDs anyway), and by the time we reached the last stop it was nearly two a.m. and I was done. I cabbed it home and spent the remaining seven hours of mad time asleep. As a result, I was remarkably well-rested Sunday and more-or-less up to the challenges of finished what I hadn't done Saturday.

Right now, the big uncertainty is: Where will he be tomorrow? Our insurer has only approved his stay at the acute facility through today and they think it's super helpful to wait until the last minute to tell you whether they've decided to approve the doctor's request to extend. If we can't stay there, then it's probably back to the mediocre subacute facility where he languished through the month of August. We tried looking at smaller and more highly-rated places, but they can't afford his cancer drugs. I looked at another better-rated facility in the same network, but it only seemed more run-down and less conveniently located.

That, of course, makes planning for the weekend a mess, since it's entirely possible they could renew him just through Saturday. Stepmom is coming up so we've got tentative plans for Sunday. I'd like to fit in a visit to Pilsen, but I'm not sure if it's better to do it with her or with Fig, who's got a slate of days off and wanted to get together. Friday is supposed to be a celebration of JB's retirement as well as a friend's Halloween bash. Mom suggested coming up this weekend and I gave her a flat-out "no" since I could only think of ways it would raise my stress level and none that would reduce it, but she doesn't want to put it off too long and run into her annual condo meeting.

Speaking of which, ours is a little over a month, which is a huge relief because it means the B-team we put in place actually stepped up and organised something. Hopefully they'll agree to be our A-team when the time comes because this is one kettle I can't keep my eye on right now. It's already enough that I'm saddled with all the landscaping (a plea for others to pitch in with leaf cleanup naturally sank without an echo) without having to fret about the administrative chaos and tight financial straits we're in.

Ugh. Where the fuck are my apple cider donuts?
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:07 pm

Soft open

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I vacillated about hosting cocktails tonight. I wondered whether people would be up for more pseudodebauchery so soon after New Year's. Then my cold really took hold and I questioned whether I wanted a bunch of drunk people over at my house. I decided to take the path of least resistance and wait to see if anyone contacted me. No one did until yesterday when Fig responded to my New Year's wishes with the question, "Are you hosting?" And I was like, For you, yes. I contacted the couple across the street and secured their participation, then notified Scruffy and left it at that. I also moved up the time an hour in deference to an Baoigheallach, who had just flown back from Ireland, and to facilitate [livejournal.com profile] monshu's participation. This worked out beautifully, as things broke up shortly after ten and before much longer I will be crawling into bed.

The cold is fading, but it's leaving a painful sore throat in its wake. I'm nursing myself the best I can with mug after mug of tea impregnated with the raw honey [livejournal.com profile] monshu's folks sent us from Oregon. My cocktails were hot toddies with only enough whiskey for flavour. The transition to my ordinary schedule will be rough enough without any additional burdens.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
My father is an extrovert, my mother an introvert, and I'm an odd mix of the two. There are times--like yesterday evening--when I feel like I could either go out and see people or stay in and read and by just as happy either way. Usually I default to staying in since it's easier so lately I've been pushing myself to make the harder choice. And it's paying off.

The first in this latest series of decisions took place on Tuesday night in a swank restaurant in Hyde Park (a string of words I never thought I'd see put together) at a memorial for a deceased Chicago man of letters which I was attending with someone I'd met at the last memorial I attended for a deceased Chicago man of letters. It was getting late and I was getting anxious about escaping the South Side. Then I had a moment of clarity and told the out-of-towner with whom I planned to share a cab downtown, "Fuck it, how often do I get to have conversations like this? My job is boring, I can take the morning off. I'll stay." We didn't say good-bye until after midnight and I left for work on time anyway (although it was not my most productive of days).

Then on Friday I pushed myself to go to an open house in Roscoe Village to support an artist pal. He rarely goes out and insisted on heading straight home afterwards, so the only way to prolong my visit with him was to ride back with him on the el. I came back by way of Andersonville, so when [livejournal.com profile] clintswan texted that he'd be at SoFo I agreed to stop in for a moment. I've probably voiced my annoyances about SoFo here before, but the crowd was reasonable for once and there was no problem getting served (though I wasn't drinking anyway). Within moments of my arrival, I was chatting with a winsome Brazilian tourist and, when he left, I was introduced to a sweetheart of a Belgian pilot. Then, as my friends were leaving, I ran into my cutie from Moline.

After that, I was planning on another early night. A friend is leaving for Canada next week and had the decency to schedule his going-away party for an early hour. But then BDA and I talked each other into sharing a cocktail at Rogers Park Social. I had the Scottish Meadow, which was a bit too triple-secky for my taste, and his inexpertly-made Aviation was heavy on the lemon juice. But we had seats at the bar, there was a good atmosphere, and I was able to chat mixology with one of the owners. I was still feeling a bit legless when BDA left, so I stayed to drink some water, and ended up running into someone I haven't seen since a Christmas party two years back. Then as I was disengaging from him, I happened to remark that Rogers Park was "getting interesting" and a guy at the bar piped up to say, "It's always been interesting."

So then I got talking with him for at least another hour. He considers himself a lifelong Rogers Park even though he's lived lots of other places and was born abroad. In fact, he was born not far from where my father taught school as a Papal Volunteer. He was amazed to meet someone who knew Belize as something more than a place to go snorkeling and even more impressed that I'd heard of the Garifuna. And, because this is Chicago, he also speaks Polish.

Today I'm recovering. The game was cancelled, I've got laundry to do and errands to run. And who knows? Maybe I'll even read a book.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
[Fuck it. It's post something like this or get into more pointless arguments on FB.]

#1

We arrived at New Wave Coffee on Friday to find Stan taking out the trash. I ran up to him and gave him a no-hands hug. "Have you been to Longman & Eagle yet?" he asked. "We just got here!" I said. "It's a little early in the day to start drinking!" Not if you're an artist, though. He said he orders the "PBR breakfast" there and when they ask, "Are you sure you want the PBR?" he's like "Uh, yeah[*]!"

Nuphy took a wrong turn leaving the station and stumbled in around twenty minutes later. With that in mind, I decided to proceed cautiously, getting my bearings at every corner and circling around the square before heading up one of the radial streets. Even so, he thought we were headed north instead of south at one point. After hitting City Lit Bookstore and exploring the monuments in the square, we doubled back to Lula Café for lunch.

After that, it was back to Uncharted Books, which had opened in the meantime. Then we parked the GWO at another café before striking out along Milwaukee. Nuphy said he'd come to walk, but after getting a scoop at a gelateria, he toddled back to [livejournal.com profile] monshu and left me to explore on my own. Though Stan had suggested there might be some interesting stuff near the theatre, it petered out quickly. I turned onto Diversey, which is totally residential in that stretch, and then headed back myself.

Longman & Eagle is so unassuming we weren't sure we had it until we were upon it. We went to the back bar for the outside seating; I'd go back again for the utterly simpatico barman, who was willing multiple times to run to the front to see if they had some liquor we were interested in (such as the Angel's Envy or some ginger liqueur for Nuphy). The Old Man was able to complete his survey of Islay (though both the untried Scotches turned out to be produced by Bruichladdich).

I instead went for perhaps the priciest Manhattan I've ever had because I called my rye (actually, the barman suggested James Oliver) and my vermouth as well (Carpano, natch). I followed that up with a Rittenhouse Sazerac. Then Nuphy scooted off and we went on to have one of the best meals I've ever eaten in Chicago: appetisers of rabbit au jus and veal brains (though I think the favas stood out most in that dish) and then seared tuna for [livejournal.com profile] monshu and a "duo of pork" (tenderloin and belly) for me.

The server was outstanding. The only flaw I could find in the entire experience was that the hush puppies (one element out of many in my entree) were room temp instead of piping hot. I ordered an intriguing "house shot" of Letherbee's Malört combined with Dolin Génépi and it came with a discreet little candle on the side since [livejournal.com profile] monshu had tipped him that it was my birthday. Dessert was black sesame mini-donuts with lime gelée and coconut gelato and it was amazing. I stumbled home drunk and happy--and surprised to be back home in about and hour and a quarter, despite taking the Clark 22.

#2

Bigbones assented so readily when I invited him and Miss Cleveland to Ombra on Saturday that I assumed they'd been there before. They hadn't. Miss C had some issues with our server, who wasn't one to linger, but none with the food as far as I could tell. The menu was completely different from our last trip, which meant no pesce en saor for me. But the calamari were very good, and there were fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta.

I considered a spritz, but was lured instead to order their take of the Manhattan, a "San Marco": Templeton, Carpano, Averna, and raspberries. Initially I mused that it was too smooth, but Miss Cleveland took a sip and told me to "quit complaining". I got a lot of grief from him that evening. It was almost a relief to slip away to meet Scruffy (despite their best attempts to delay me) and leave [livejournal.com profile] monshu to enjoy their company a while longer.

#3

I arrived at SoFo at only ten after eight, so within the negotiated window, and expected to find only Scruffy keeping the table warm. But, no, there were at least a half dozen pals of one or both of us there already, and twice that by half past. I wanted to make up for contributing nothing to the cost of the cake by buying some beer, but chalk this down as the first gay bar I've been in that "don't do pitchers". (Somehow, not surprised.)

If the L&E Manhattan was the most expensive Manhattan I've had in Chicago, SoFo's might've been the most overpriced. Not that it was bad, but that and a beer set me back $23. That brought me up to almost the perfect point of drunkenness, but then [livejournal.com profile] clintswan appeared and couldn't resist doing a shot of Goldschläger with him. That pushed me over into the realm of self-consciously modulating my voice and watching my steps so no one would know how besotted I was.

We had cake, then the party moved out to the patio. At some point, I glanced around and couldn't find Scruffy or most of my other friends; they'd slipped away like thieves. By 11 pm, the Otter Night crowd had taken over and the place was getting crowded. Forty-five minutes later, when it became time to clear the patio (damn neighbours!), I decided to slip away myself.


[*] Rendering the "well duh" intonation through typography is a challenge.
Jun. 29th, 2014 10:48 pm

Out

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It's nice to be looking at photos of an event posted to Facebook and be able to say, "Yeah, I was there, and it was fun but it wasn't All That." Something to keep in mind next time I'm looking at photos of an event I wasn't at. Credit goes to [livejournal.com profile] clintswan again for seeing that I got an invite to the BOMB party again and pressuring me into actually putting in an appearance.

Afterwards, I met the GWO at Rogers Park Social, a newish cocktail bar which Greysong had talked up. [livejournal.com profile] monshu and I decided we'd have to revisit on a regular evening. It was noisy, crowded, and they obviously had in some help who didn't know what they were doing. The genial Englishman sitting next to the Old Man when I arrived told us, "I've been here when it's just the two owners serving and it's a different bar."

I hope so, because the Aviation was quite disappointing. Too sour, I thought; [livejournal.com profile] monshu said it looked like they were using an inferior violet liqueur. So I went with something safe, a canned Radler spiked with gin and some St Germain I failed to taste. Eventually we were able to take a deuce tucked into a corner by the front window, but it was no quieter there, only warmer. We were in proximity to an array of bitters, and I managed to strike up a convo with the mixologist owner about them. Some interesting ones (the CH Amaro and some tiki bitters from Bittermen's), but we'd really have to see how they're used in a mixed drink. The Old Man found the amaro too sweet in the finish, and the tiki bitters had a wonderful nose that seemed it would get easily overwhelmed.

So after another watery gin and tonic, we moved up to the Glenwood and I held Uncle Betty's hand as we watched Costa Rica eke out a win over Greece. They're almost certain to get waxed by the Dutchies, but in the meantime it's lovely to hope otherwise. Scruffy was there and Big Tim and others in that circle I like to see, so after we broke for eats at Grill Inn (Big Tim talked it up, but I thought it was markedly inferior to Greek Fire), I came back and hung out some more.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Apart from making oatmeal, reading a few pages in Steppenwolf, and feeding the cat, I accomplished nothing today of any value. What I did do was enjoy myself. Shortly before noon, I went to Sauce and Bread Kitchen near Clark and Devon and had a smoked salmon tartine with horseradish cream and pickled fennel. The Old Man and I bought a loaf of bread, a couple cookies, and came back home for a nap. Then I killed some time until Turtle and Turtlewife came by to pick us up for an early dinner on West Randolph.

The place they had chosen was Maude's Liquor Bar, a cozy bistrot that lives up to its pretensions. They insisted on ordering the cassoulet, which was good. But we also ordered the braised lentils, and they were amazing. So amazing [livejournal.com profile] monshu plans to roast a whole chicken just to see if he can replicate them. The rest of the meal--terrine, asparagus, salmon tartare--fully lived up to expectations.

But as it's a liquor bar, the focus must be on the cocktails? At one point I looked up from the table and realised the drinkers were packed three deep around the bar. I thought they were waiting for tables, but I saw there was no rush to clear and realised most were just there to drink. Three bartenders were working nonstop to cater to them.

And us: The GWO started with an Aviation, moved on to a pinot noir, and finished with a Nonino. I began with a St Germain Fizz (vodka, aperol, and St Germain, served tall), has pastis with dinner, and couldn't resist finishing off with a Sazerac. I don't know if it's the best I've ever had--though it was definitely a contender for the title--but it was undoubtedly the smoothest. Watching it made was a pleasure unto itself.

I also had a sip of Turtle's Corpse Reviver with smoked mezcal and found it...smoky. Afterwards there was a general interest in ice cream, so I suggested Paciugo in Lincoln Square (though the name escaped me) and had the joy of escorting Turtle & wife there on their first visit. I had the panna cotta gelato and the lemon fig custard.

It was their 22nd anniversary, and we finally got a more-or-less complete story of their first date. Their dinner that night was Subway sandwiches, which they occasionally order again for nostalgia. ([livejournal.com profile] monshu and my's first date involved a visit to a Michigan Avenue café whose name neither of us can remember any more.)
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Mar. 3rd, 2014 09:14 pm

Keepers

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I ate the last piece of the "king cake" today, which coincidentally was the one with the coin in it. (Fear not, my reign will be a peaceful and just one; the coin was a James Monroe dollar, not a gold sovereign or piece of eight.) So much for being forced to consume it all ourselves! The recipe (another Cooks Illustrated find) is definitely being added to our stable. A bit fussy, insofar as the mixing all takes place in a food processor, but well worth it for what is essentially a marzipan cake. Really, that's my only justification for calling it "king cake". The name makes me think of a northern French galette des rois with its frangipane filling, but I couldn't be arsed to fool around with puff pastry. And real New Orleans-style king cake, despite its resemblance to tortell de Reis, has never done much for me.

I could've assembled the Sazeracs more quickly if I'd been willing to mix up some simple syrup, but I wanted more ability to adjust the sweetness since I knew I was preparing for a range of palates without increasing the dilution. The traditional sugar cube looks good, but only allows you teaspoon-sized increments, so instead I pulled out the superfine sugar. It didn't dissolve as cleanly as I might've wished. I prefer a ratio of three dashes of Peychaud to one of Angostura, but I made some with all Peychaud, again for the sweeter palates. But at least one of them actually preferred it with the Angostura.

I kept a shot glass on hand for the absinthe that I poured out after swirling the glass. It tended to become diluted with residual ice water in the glass so I emptied it periodically into my gullet. At one point, Big Tim asked me not to pour out the absinthe from that stage, so I gave him one with it in. He arrived expecting something quite different when I said "Sazerac": apparently he'd had diluted absinthe served to him under that name. Twilight Santa was going on about the toxicity of the drink when he arrived. "Wormwoods a poison!" I mocked him. "What do you think alcohol is?"

In any case, the authorities were right that using rye makes all the difference. I even tried fixing one with the high-rye Redemption I'd bought before and gotten only one slug of and, nope, too sweet. For similar reasons, I think the Armagnac we were forced to use because that's what Nuphy keeps bringing was a better choice than most cognac would've been. I mean, the whole point of doctoring the liquor this way is to smooth off some of the rough edges without eliminating them completely.
Jan. 26th, 2014 10:18 pm

Snowfall

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
There have been a couple of memes circulating around Facebook lately reminding us of the anniversaries of great January snowstorms of the past such as the Midwest Blizzard of '78, the Chicago Blizzard of 1979 (infamous for its effect on local politics), or the Blizzard of '82 (responsible for one of the highest snowfall totals ever seen in St Louis). This prompted an interesting comment from my older brother, who said that storms created expectations in him of Missouri as a snowy wonderland (we moved there from Maryland in '76) which went increasingly unfulfilled in later years. I keep telling people who complain about what an extraordinarily severe winter this is that they simply have short memories. It's a sign of just how blasé this exceptional return to past form has made me that I hardly consider snowstorms worth mentioning in this space any more unless they actually result in work closures. [livejournal.com profile] monshu tells me that a couple hours ago it was really coming down, but I shrugged and went back to watching my movie. There was some yesterday as well, plus a couple inches overnight that didn't start until I was safely back home.

When I blew off the after-work event on Friday, I promised myself I would go out Saturday night despite my reservations. It was a party for someone I don't know well, and I'm just so used to everyone spamming their entire flist that I was taken aback to see that I was one of only about two dozen invitees. To dispel fears of there being no one there I knew well (compounded by the youth of the birthday boy--this was, in fact, in his big 21), I reached out to a couple of guys. It was very reassuring to discover that one of them was the host; I would've gone just for the pleasure of finally being inside his place. For good measure, however, I had old bud BDA ring up some others, none of whom attended in the end.

The apartment was in a corner of northeast Rogers Park I hardly knew existed and so exceeded my expectations that I would've passed it up had BDA not been at the door fighting the same misgivings. The first thing which caught my eye at the top of the stairs were the built-ins followed by the card catalogs. (Cupcake Man's roommate uses them to organise her jewellery.) It was a very open plan with a huge bay window in front overlooking a lakeside parklet and a small but functional kitchen in the back where I set up the bottles I'd brought. The Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout I'd brought along on a whim turned out to be a hit. So did the Redemption "High Rye"--though how much of that was due to its inherent quality and how much to the fact that it was the only hard liquor there is hard to say. (BDA told me he was dreaming of manhattans, so I brought along a small bottle of sweet vermouth I had stowed away for just such and exigence.)

As for the party, well, I feel for the guest of honour. Sure it was a shitty night to be out, but your 21st is a big deal and it was super lame of his other friends not to show. What saved the evening was that he was sharing the party with Cupcake Man's roommate, and she had a good half dozen there. After two drinks I was willing to chat up anybody and everybody and they were on the whole very receptive. Malört shots were downed, a fire was built in the fireplace, and eventually the guitars came out for a sing-along, finally putting and end to the dueling of Matisyahu on the stereo system in the front room and old school house/shoegaze coming out of the tinny speakers of an iPod in the dining area.

As nice as it was, I was very conscious of needing to be functional today, so I left right after midnight as the newly-legal young sprout was preparing to hit Big Chicks with his best gal pal. BDA walked me to the el and hugged me goodbye at Loyola. I stumbledashed home against the cold wind (which may be why my leg is giving me trouble today) and gabbled to the Old Man when I came in. So, selfishly, I can say it was a great night out even if by your man's lights it was probably a huge letdown. Ah, youth! If you only knew what kind of disappointment and betrayal was in store for you!
Jan. 5th, 2014 12:54 am

No chaser

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I should've known that Chicagoans are made of sturdier stock than to be put off by a few inches of white stuff: Cocktail Night was a success after all. Altogether we had seven. Yes, Coleman was there, but he redeemed himself by bringing Alex the Great, who nearly two years ago pulled the "meet someone, drop out of the scene" manoeuvre. I never had a chance to ask him if he and his young Yemeni friend are still an item, but his very presence most likely testifies to the contrary. Also, the Bolingbrook Bears (who need a new name now that they live in the South Loop), but this time instead of a whiny narcissist in tow they had someone young, bright, and superinteresting. (Come to think of it, perhaps it's a good thing that the Old Man decided to give the gathering a miss...)

But the party began with the arrival of two members of the Square Dance Cult who live mere blocks away. One I will call The Urge because that's the nickname he picked for himself when he joined Growlr--in my living room. (On the one hand, totally obnoxious that half the guests were checking theirs in the middle of a conversation; on the other, way cute to watch them walk someone near retirement age through the signup process.) They brought a bottle of wine and got the full tour. They were also game to try some wild boar sausage and smoked goose breast.

When everyone else took off for Touché, they left as well so that they wouldn't hold me up. But I wasn't interested; I explained that my evening had already been as enjoyable as it was likely to get and standing around on filthy floors having to shout over techno to be heard could only be an anticlimax. I got to talk about names, cities, languages; show off my home, my cat, my spouse's art; feed people and get them to try exotic new alcohols. Nothing I could reasonably expect to happen in a couple hours at a leather bar is going to top that.
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Jan. 2nd, 2014 09:06 pm

A day away

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
There was a chance I'd go into the office today. Not a good chance, mind you, but enough of one that I didn't automatically take the day off. If I didn't drink too much or stay up too late cleaning up, I might've gotten a decent night's sleep. The latter condition was met, but not the former: I accepted two cocktail challenges, which was at least one more than I needed in order to keep a clear heard. Both qualified as successes.

First Scruffy challenged me to make the blueberry liquor he'd brought before drinkable. I knew I'd need to cut the sweetness and settled on lemon juice since lemon is a natural pairing for blueberry. But I was stumped on the strong until I happened to think of sloe gin. Three parts gin to one blueberry plus a squeeze (about half a tablespoon) of lemon juice ended up being about right, at least according to two other tasters.

The Douglas fir eau de vie brought by [livejournal.com profile] lhn and [livejournal.com profile] prilicla also suggested a gin-based solution: a three-to-one "fir-tini". I momentarily considered using the Letherbee's until I recognised this for the insanity it was and went with Bombay instead. This eau de vie is considerably more mild than the infamous "Pine-sol liqueur" and I think more could be done with it. Having had a particularly successful fir-flavoured chocolate in Toronto, I'm particularly interested in trying it in a sweeter preparation. (The fir-tini is, as you might suspect, rather dry to say the least.)

Afterwards I found a nearly-empty bottle of cognac (as well as a bottle of vin santo the Old Man had completely forgotten about) and decided to usher it gently into that good night. The party was down to a pleasant core of a half-dozen and I was no longer having to hop up to open doors or mix drinks, so I could sit back and enjoy my guests. They never got to be too many; the one advantage to the terrible travel conditions is that it allowed us to spend a generous amount of time with everyone. Not as much as we might've liked (with the exception of Coleman, who wasn't even on the guest list but got wind of the gathering and crashed), but then it never is.

Luckily for us we'd bought supplies close to the date so we'd held back and, as a result, don't have more leftovers than we can handle: just one turkey breast, most of a smallish ham, a pound or so of gingerbread, and some bits of salad. Oh, and a shitload of chocolates and fudge, but that stuff keeps. The black cake was an even bigger hit than last year; hardly any survived the day. And hoppin' john (both veg and non-veg), beet salad, and Snore King's sugar cookies were all big hits.

If my hangover wasn't excuse enough, I had two other solid reasons: the snow, which was over nine inches by morning with wildly varying amounts predicted for the rest of the day (that's Lake effect for you); and a summons from an old friend. A college buddy--president of the queer student group when I was secretary and leader of the coming-out group before me--who'd I'd gotten in touch with as a result of the oral history project was in town for a conference and wanted to meet up.

As [livejournal.com profile] monshu can attest, I had cause to regret my promise to meet him. But my mid-morning the snow was tapering off and I was beginning to feel more human. I dozed on the train, but the bracing air made me a bit giddy. From the first moment, he was exceedingly warm and we spent a good two hours at the Purple Pig catching up and rehashing old times. He was dubious about the pig's ear, but I sold him, and in return I let him order the caponata, which I ate most of along with the charred cauliflower. Never before have I eaten so much in the way of vegetables and so little in the way of pork there.

Afterwards I swept into Eataly on an errand from the Old Man and left with my arms full. I really would like to be able to leave that place sometime without dropping $30+. But now I know that they do a fine cup of molten chocolate and porchetta that isn't a patch on what I had at Porchetta & Co. in Toronto. Tomorrow I'll be able to tell you if their fresh squid ink pasta is really worth the top dollar it commands.

Had I been thinking more clearly when I was trying to get myself out the door, I might've been able to make plans with [livejournal.com profile] bunj as well and complete my last gift exchange of the season. But as it was, I escaped downtown just as another "snow squall" was beginning to complicate the commute. When I reached the hood, visibility was down to a block or so and diminishing rapidly. Then, after an hour of getting cozy, the snow abruptly halted, the sky cleared, and for one thrilling moment everything was suffused with a rosy light.

Needless to say, there won't be any of that when I rise tomorrow to face my first day of work in nearly two weeks. Clearly I've got as much of a knack for retirement as the GWO. Shame I haven't earned the right to exercise it.
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Oct. 6th, 2013 09:43 am

Distilled

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It was muggy and rainy. Several friends were out of town. And I was going up against Game Night. But all it took to make the evening a thumping success was Graysong saying, "This is the best time I've had at one of your cocktail nights."

It was important to me that he felt that way because in many ways he's been the animating spirit of the event over the past year. Scruffy may be more faithful in his attendance (he's in Cincy for the weekend) but he's not a serious drinker. He's gamely tried a range of concoctions I've put in his hand, but his response is simply, "Liked it" or "Hated it". As Graysong put it, yesterday evening was about "trying different things and talking about them". It was about how it's not the number of guests that matters but how in synch they are.

The focus of the evening was on that queer local specialty, Malört, whose finish has been described as "a pickle dipped in cigar ash drizzled with pain". And that was certainly my memory of what it was like trying it for the first time back in the spring. Graysong had it on his to-do list for his last month in Chicago and we made quite a ritual of it. Seriously: I put a ceramic skull on the table and lit a black candle. We opened a new pack of cards and drew to determine who would go first. And naturally we filmed it.

After all that buildup, it's hardly a surprise what a letdown the actual experience was. I actually accused him of bringing counterfeit Malört, my reaction was so different from the first time. None of us particularly liked it, but it was far from horrible. "It tastes like grapefruit," said Big Tim. ("Like grapefruit rind," he later clarified.) Graysong pointed out that--unlike most drinkers--we all enjoyed bitter spirits, so this was no big deal. He also proposed using it as his new litmus test when getting to know people. "If you don't make a face, then it means you're an adult."

With that out of the way, we were able to move on to drinking stuff we enjoyed. I revelled in having Tim there. It's not often I run into someone who likes Chartreuse. And it's rare indeed to find someone my age who likes it but has never tried it before. Before we got to that, however, there was another Malört, this one made by local distiller Letherbee. [livejournal.com profile] monshu loves their gin, and this bottle had an unexpectedly strong juniper nose. Also unexpected with the strong anise flavour. Graysong characterised it as really sort of an absinthe with ramped-up wormwood.

All-in-all, it was such a contrast to Jeppson's, with it's single-note bitterness, that we agreed with the reviewers who said they are hardly the same liqueur. I thought the complexity of the Letherbee's would lend itself well to mixing, so I tried substituting it for the absinthe in a Yellow Parrot (equal parts absinthe, Chartreuse, and apricot brandy over crushed ice) and was pleased with the results. Other bottles that came off the shelves included the Zwack, the Unicum, the Nux Alpina, and the St Germain. Graysong asked me to attempt a reconstruction of the cocktail he'd had the night before and I gave it my best:
Doux Rêve

Two shots gin (Bombay)
One shot St Germain
½ shot absinthe (Sirène)
Juice of one lime
Slice of cucumber

Shake and strain.
The one ingredient we were missing was the cucumber, and it made a difference. I was taken aback at the amount of St Germain--as I told Graysong, I've never seen a recipe call for more a teaspoon before--but we tried it with a smaller proportion and it didn't mask the gin enough. It's certainly not going to make me forget the Ephemeral any time soon, but it was pleasant to sip (and not as deadly as the Parrot, which practically had me stumbling).

I wasn't even going to hit Bear Night afterwards--I figured it could only be anticlimactic--but it was better than expected. A couple old Game Night hosts were there and were quite friendly to me, but I only ended up being hit on by a couple of guys I'm content simply to remain friends with. There was some absurd Oktoberfest promotion going on, complete with a stein-holding contest that only ended up being entertaining because I knew at least half the contestants.
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muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Yesterday traced an impressive arc from unexpected awfulness to heartwarming success. I woke up at 3 a.m. with terrible abdominal cramps and spent the next half hour on the pot praying for them to end. They eventually relented, but were back again three hours later. I ended up so sore that I was slathering my poor ass with lotion. I spent most of the day dragging around the house, feeling sorry for myself, and wondering if I should cancel cocktails that evening. I urged Nuphy to take advantage of the perfect weather and get himself to Von Steuben Day without me, but he declined.

Since the toast I had at lunch stayed down, and nothing more came out after that, I decided I could make it through a couple hours of hosting, especially if I had Graysong on hand to take the shaker from me if need be. Then I got another curve ball: Beardowski decided to call in a favour I'd offered months back and crash chez nous so he didn't have to drive back to Joliet. As I told the Old Man, "I guess the moral is never make an offer you're not willing honour when feeling your worst." (Fortunately, it didn't come to that as his first choice worked out in the end after all.) For dinner, [livejournal.com profile] monshu heated up the choucroute and served it with some spätzle; I ate mainly the latter, with just a little gravy for flavour.

By seven or so, I was really warming to the gathering. I prepared to hustle everyone out onto the deck by arraying it with tea lights (inadvertently immolating a poor spider in the process). [livejournal.com profile] monshu had discovered a cocktail recipe using rosemary simple syrup he wanted to try, so I tracked down a couple of others and created a menu. Scruffy was the first to arrive and, as always, game to try one. In all, I made three limoni frizzanti, a rosemary Old Fashioned, and four rosemary-chocolate martinis (a brainchild of Greysong's). Since the bitters rather overpowered the rosemary in the first batch of the martinis, I souped it up by dropping a couple sprigs in the shaker. My bear friend from work made a rare appearance for which I'd prepared by acquiring some ginger root. (He complained that the ginger liqueurs weren't gingery enough.) I let him peel and grate it himself, and the juice ended up in some vodka concoction.

One of the reasons I was so anxious not to cancel is that we had several first-timers. A couple weeks back, I ran into somebody on a mutual friend's wall who I hadn't seen in 20 years and didn't realise was still in Chicago, let alone in my very same neighbourhood. He handled very well being the odd man out, though he did ask me afterwards if we could meet for coffee some time and really catch up. And remember that block party I crashed thanks to [livejournal.com profile] mikiedoggie two weeks ago? Well I got Graysong to bring along Big Tim and one of his posse and they were model guests, instrumental in getting the party out onto the porch and game for a quick tour before leaving. Not getting my hopes too high, but as I've repeated well past the point of banality, it would be great if I could build up associations with solid guys who live near me.

So by the time people were breaking away for SoFo and Touché, I was feeling a nearly ideal level of tired satisfaction. A bit better-rested and I might've been tempted to go along (which I'm glad I didn't, since I'd've been a wreck today). But I felt pleased enough with how things had gone that I was content to stay in and regale the GWO with the details. I could even have been in bed by midnight if I'd only had a bit more sense, but I was too busy looking up loose ends from our free-ranging conversation out on the back deck.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Farewell, Augtober, you will be missed! I don't think I can remember having better weather for my birthday in my entire life. Probably the closest I've come is the year we celebrated it at a resort near Detroit Lakes, MI, but that wasn't my real birthday, which fell on the day we returned to sweltering hellhole of Missouri in mid-August. And it wasn't just one day of unseasonable coolness, it was a whole gorgeous week. That is climate change that I can get behind!

I did a pretty good job of not freaking out about my birthday this year. It was only a couple days before, when [livejournal.com profile] monshu every so gently nudged me on picking a restaurant that I got a bit weird. In the end, I threw my lot in with Scruffy who, true to his bargain-hunting small-town Ohio ways chose a middling Italian spot (Calo) because "ribs are $12.95 on Thursdays". Perhaps next year I can coordinate with my Beardy Famous Author Friend and actually go someplace high end or at least halfway interesting.

To take the curse off of it, I convinced the Old Man to take me to Ombra beforehand. (To be honest, he didn't need that much convincing.) But I jinxed myself by dreaming all day of their pesce in saor only to be told "they're seasonal" and having to content myself with fried smelt instead. It was our first experience sitting outside at the bar, which can be a slightly odd arrangement. At least the man who was seated on the other side of the window talking on his cell when we came felt awkward enough that when he got up to leave he said, "Sorry I won't be dining with you." But the intimacy became an advantage when, not long afterwards, he was replaced by Graysong's longhaired friend. Having been an early investor, he's a frequent visitor to the place as the owners keep whittling away at their debt to him. I spilled out my woes and we had an earnest discussion of food and eating as entertainment rather than simply as sustenance.

The dinner itself wasn't bad. They had an alcoholic root beer which I had to try simply for its novelty value. (The Old Man did an admirable job of containing his revulsion.) I was full enough on fried fish and sufficiently conscious of the need to leave room for dessert (another reason for Scruffy's pick: free tiramisù on your birthday!) that I only had a plate of mussels, which weren't half bad. The real pleasure of the evening, however, was bringing everyone back to our place for cocktails and conversation. Scruffy insisted that I'd made him something before with Vana Tallinn and absinthe and I kept looking at him like he was slightly deranged.

I would've presented him with a bottle of Estonia's finest if I could've, but as we discovered the next day at Binny's, there's no distributor for it in Chicago any more. The manager gave me the names of a couple online outlets, but I haven't followed up on that yet. It reminded me that I need to see about getting another bottle of Mechitarine now that I know they have an importer (in LA, natch). Hmm...this could prove to be as dangerous as the first time I discovered Amazon was dealing in used books!
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Jan. 1st, 2013 10:36 pm

Firsts

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It worked so well making a list of leftovers the last time we entertained on a holiday that I've done it again. Here's what we have in our refrigerator following our New Year's Day Open House:
ham (chunk & slices)
[roast] turkey breast
sauerbraten
cassoulet
caponata
sausages [smoked & garlic thueringer]
sauerkraut
gingerbread trifle
black cake
hoppin' john
spätzle
half & half
zucchini
heavy cream
greens (lettuce, herbs)
red cabbage
Obviously, not all of this was served to our guests. The sauerbraten, cassoulet, spätzle, and red cabbage I've written about before. The thueringer are leftover cassoulet fixings; we'll probably serve them with the sauerkraut for a quick meal some night.

"Sauerkraut", incidentally, hardly does that dish justice. A few days back, Miss Cleveland asked if it would be alright to bring some cheeses sent by his brother. (He and his partner both had heart scares this past year and have cut way back on the animal fats.) I said, "Of course" and told the Old Man not to buy any more. A couple days after that, he informed me that the housekeeper and the contractor had gifted him with sauerkraut and sausages, so would it be okay if he brought those too? I don't know that I've even once denied a request to bring pork products to my house, so I readily assented.

Little did I know he apparently thought he was cooking for a regiment of Hessians. I didn't realise that Calphalon even made pots that size. It was a popular dish, and now all we have left is roughly the amount [livejournal.com profile] monshu or I would fix if we were cooking up enough for ourselves for a week. (I think I see bigos in our near future.) They threw in potatoes, too, which could be retrieved to form the nucleus of some other dish. Perhaps the soup we plan to make with the hambone and/or turkey carcass?

By contrast, the remnants of [livejournal.com profile] innerdoggie's hoppin' john were modest enough to fill a single-serving container. There wasn't much more of the GWO's Da-friendly caponata (i.e. no olives or capers). But barely half of the gingerbread trifle got eaten, meaning there's now a bowl of whipped cream, lemon curd, and Scottish gingerbread bigger than your head dominating the back of the top shelf. Makes one wish there were another party to go to still. The hunk of West Indian black cake (three months in the making) may look small, but that's before you take into account that it is what happens when an ordinary cake collapses into upon itself until light has difficulty escaping. I don't know what this nonsense is about "sacramental wine" in its makeup; it's the "burnt sugar essence" the comes through most for me.

I didn't move a lot of liquor this time. There was some love for the paw paw liqueur and both kinds of ginger (the Koval and the Massenez). [livejournal.com profile] his_regard had a good idea for the first but ran low on sparkling wine before he could execute it properly; definitely something to keep in mind for future. There were also some interesting suggestions for the horseradish vodka brought by [livejournal.com profile] lhn and [livejournal.com profile] prilicla. "Bloody mary" is the natural candidate, but I think it could be the basis for an interesting martini. I actually convinced five fellows to down a shot of it, and it was generally deemed less intense than you would've thought. (Makes sense; horseradish, like onions, develops its bite upon exposure to air, which isn't really possible once it's been infused.)
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I love my wine-drinking friends and my beer-drinking friends and even my teetotaler friends, but, boy, is it ever nice to invite over some real cocktail drinkers for a change. Of every drink I made, I poured a shot for myself, so I got to try out a Bombay, a Depth Charge, and an Incredible in addition to making a Royal Union for myself and breaking into the Armagnac Nuphy brought us a while back. (It's an hors d'age Marie Duffau and it's really quite nice.)

What they all have in common is cognac, though I couldn't find ours and ended up using a Spanish brandy instead (except for the Bombay). Of the three, I think I liked the Depth Charge the most. There's an equal amount of Calvados with grenadine and lemon juice as mixers, so it ends up pretty balanced and with a pretty red tint. The Bombay was complex but--in the words of an experienced taster--"a little flat in the middle". He stirred in some lemon juice and pronounced it a great improvement. The Incredible I've made before trying to find a good use for the Orchard Cherry; here it's combined with Chartreuse for an interesting fruity-herby effect.

Dinner was simple. After all, when you're cooking up a standing rib roast from a real butcher, you don't want much to distract from it. For dessert, I heated up the pumpkin purée (after mistakenly defrosting last year's applesauce) and made a custard using a streamlined version of the instructions I followed before for pie. It was a bit of a flop. I made the last-minute decision to use a bain-marie, which dilated the cooking time to the point where it was going to throw off [livejournal.com profile] monshu's time plan, so I had to fire up the heat to get it out of the oven. The result was a runnier custard than before (as I put it away I noticed it was beginning to weep) with a weaker flavour. So enough experimenting; next time I'm doing the recipe exactly as written.

Our guests were Scruffy and Graysong, two interesting men the GWO wants to know better. They've been coming to my cocktail nights for about a year, but those kick off after the Old Man's bedtime. What did we talk about? Oh, cute guys, our cats, food allergies--what do middle-aged gay men talk about these days? Graysong and I spent a fair bit of time trying to talk Scruffy out of his tribal prejudice against pork (really, how can anyone say pork chops are "disgusting"?) but to no avail; however, he eats bacon, so there is still hope. It seems whenever I proclaim anyone in my social orbit a great new find, it's their cue to flip out on me and disappear, but they've been around long enough at this point that I think the curse may be off.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
"Let's ask them to do 'Irish Rover'."
"'The Wild Rover'? That's one of me favourite songs. She likes it, too."

I made that tongue-in-cheek suggestion even before I knew that the diminutive leader of the amateurish lederhosen-clad three-man combo would end up plopping down next to me to ask, "What next?" And it turns out that they did know "Wild Rover" though--as I suspected--not under that name. When my initial request drew blank looks from the burly man with the squeezebox, I said, "'Auf der Nordseeküste'!"

"Wie heisst das Lied?"
"'Auf der Nordseeküste'. Kennen Sie das?"

They conferred a bit and launched into a completely unfamiliar tune. But as I kept listening to it, it mutated and eventually the faces of the Irishman and Italian woman we were sitting with broke into smiles of recognition. And then, almost as soon as they had verbal confirmation from me that that was indeed the song I had in mind, they stopped playing it.

I can't remember if this was before or after I bet your woman a pizza that the etymology of "wizard" was, in fact, Old English and not, as she insisted, Old Irish. (Naturally she lost--that's what happens when you go up against the language nerd who's spent the last thirty years compulsively reading dictionaries!) It hardly matters; I doubt I'll see the payoff, but who knows? Your man took [livejournal.com profile] innerdoggie's card because he was interested in a Python users' group she told him about. Of course, no second meeting could measure up to the joy of grabbing the first empty bench available only to discover you're across from a stylish Milanese professional translator and a computer programmer with school Irish and an interest in jazz. Nuphy's gregariousness and knack for serendipity come through again!

Afterwards, he predictably hustled me over to the Gage and introduced me to their resident mixologist. I was sorely disappointed that I couldn't allow myself more than a sip of his wares (the Aviation was decent--I prefer Sapphire to the Nolet's he went for--but I would love to return for a full dose of one of his Last Words), and he consoled me with a dash of Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters in my tonic. Mmm, spicy! All in all, things turned out much better than I expected about five hours earlier, when I was fighting off a cold and wondering how on earth I was going to rendezvous with everyone with my phone dying and unable to get a signal in the middle of fucking Chicago.

If this does turn out to be my last visit to the Christkindlmarket this year--and it's looking that way, given that Nuphy would rather do Italian before Elisir d'amore--then I can say I left it on a high note. I didn't even need the Glühwein to put me in a mood where I could ignore the heat, the noise, the press of people around me; pork, sweets, and good companionship were enough to do that.
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Nov. 4th, 2012 10:18 pm

Only so far

muckefuck: (Default)
Yesterday the Old Man obeyed the call of duty and made sure that I followed through on our joint resolution to go clothes shopping, even though there turned out to be little in it for him. The big and tall store on Michigan has decided it's not carrying Dockers any more which prompted him to decide they don't want his business any more, so all he had to show for six hours spent shopping were six pairs of socks. I, on the other hand, scored two belts, four pairs of pants, two button-downs, and two tees. But at least we could both enjoy lunch at Oysy and we've got our hostess gift for the coming weekend.

After the disappointment of last month, I made no effort at all to promote Pre-Bear Cocktails last night. When Scruffy asked if I was hosting them, I reluctantly acquiesced, so I ended up with a select group of guys I really wanted to see. He'd brought bitter chocolate and was looking for something he could drink with it, so I whipped him up a Baltec. Even more than the standard version, he enjoyed a variation sweetened with a jigger of Gran Marnier. I left off the cinnamon stick garnish, so he improvised a shard of Ghiradelli. For months running, I always had orange juice on hand just in case anyone needed it as a mixer. But no one ever did and I've given up drinking it due to GERD. So it figures that when [livejournal.com profile] gopower finally made it over for a change, he'd ask for a Fuzzy Navel. What he got instead was a Toad Hop, equal parts light rum, apricot brandy, and lime juice, which he pronounced, "weird but good". All in all, counting that as a success.

It was a weird night at Touché. Just as we entred, I spotted someone I wasn't really prepared to deal with and charged into the room. But in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the bar they had some dire speechifying going on in the main room, so I fled to the back but smacked into a new buddy in the hallway--a sweet kid who can be a little too clueless for my taste. He said he'd have me over once he moved into a larger apartment. We'll see; he still owes me for the last time we went out to dinner together and he forgot his wallet. Eventually he was pulled away and I wasn't tempted by his offer of Skittle shots in the car outside, so I continued to the back bar.

But it was dull and I didn't see anyone I knew, so I went forward again hoping to find [livejournal.com profile] clintswan or Scruffy. Instead, I smacked right into Rubeus, who'd relocated from the entrance to the hallway. Naturally, he picked up with me as if nothing had happened and I didn't have it in me to reproach him for telling me a year-and-a-half ago he'd get in touch soon and then never following through. The impression I'd had back then, that he'd aged a lot since he'd retired, was redoubled in that setting. Less than a week earlier, I'd told my sister that I'd resigned myself to the fact that I might not hear from him again until his funeral (assuming ottr4bear could overcome his rage long enough to notify me), so it wasn't the most natural thing in the world to fall into smalltalk with him.

Except in some ways it was. I was reminded of the recent family vacation where my younger brother and I immediately reverted to our former style of interaction within seconds of meeting up at the hotel, except that those hours were suffused with a poignancy stemming from the realisation that it would only last a couple of days before the embargo on our interaction would return in force. In this case, however, I knew that there was no barrier in place aside from Rubeus' own inability (born of deep-seated insecurity?) to remain in contact. I found myself thinking several times that I was glad to see him but that it was too maudlin to tell him so.

I've learned that I'm too emotionally unsettled on days when I'm strung out from being out late to come to any reliable conclusions about my feelings, so I won't know how I really feel about the experience until tomorrow at the earliest. As I told [livejournal.com profile] monshu, I'm not expecting to hear from him again and I'm not expecting not to hear from him either. At least, I'm trying to hold myself in that state of deliberate indifference. I've had practice; it's pretty much the default setting in my life nowadays with anybody but [livejournal.com profile] monshu or Nuphy.
muckefuck: (Default)
Tonight's dinner: my most successful meatloaf ever. It was a grand synthesis. I got ideas on ingredients and proportions from [livejournal.com profile] monshu and Bittman, then I added some twists of my own. For instance, instead of raw carrot and parsley root, I drained the pot vegetables from last week and pureed them instead. I think Bittman's advice to up the bread crumbs (which the GWO tends not to use) in order to compensate for the liquid from the green vegetables was crucial, but instead of tearing up the multigrain loaf I crumbled some sesame flatbread instead.

I wasn't entirely happy with the seasoning (our sage seems to be falling victim to powdery mildew, so there were few usable leaves, and I forgot the rosemary entirely, although I did make good use of our neighbour's lovage) but the consistency could not have been better. I went with a 60/40 mix of pork and chicken barded with bacon, but I think parcooking the spinach in the microwave and squeezing out as much water as I could was crucial when it came to giving the dish looseness without making it soggy. And (in a rare burst of competence which was compensated for by forgetting out the side salad until the last second) it was done right on time.

As a side, I roasted parsnips and parsley root, but there wasn't much room alongside the loaf, so the chunks I tossed in a separate casserole came out much better. As a special treat, [livejournal.com profile] monshu brought home the Koval walnut liqueur. Disappointing: the vanillin in it pushes the nuttiness well into the background. We're thinking it would mix well (particularly as a substitute for the Vana Tallinn in the Baltec) but it's not worth drinking on its own. For comparison, I gave the Old Man some Haus Alpenz Nux Alpina, and its complex taste really brought home the shortcomings of the Koval. To quote Billy Bob Thorton in Bad Santa, "They can't all be winners."
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muckefuck: (Default)
Yesterday I was expecting Scottish weather to compliment our Scotch tasting, but it never materialised. The rain ended overnight and by the time I dragged myself out of bed the clouds had parted and [livejournal.com profile] monshu was outside enjoying the autumn sunshine. To kill time until evening, I did some laundry, sat in the comfy chair and read, and attempted to teach my easily-distracted brother about the construction of kanji over the phone.

To fortify myself for the onslaught of alcohol, I took 41.2 mg of omeprazole, 524 mg bismuth subsalicylate, and kept 8 g of calcium carbonate in reserve for afterwards. And it worked! I also avoided anything that might upset my stomach, such as zinc, which was a shame since overnight my minor head cold had gone full-blown. So my opinions on the various brands we tried probably aren't worth much, but luckily the Auld Man and I have similar tastes.

He was most impressed with the 15 year-old Lagavulin Signature, but then he's always liked Lagavulin to begin with. He said he also liked "the one with a sweeter finish", by which he meant the Glenglassgaugh, a 25 year-old(!) Speyside. The one which I really thought had a sweet finish, the Edradour ("the one with the Tolkienian name"--[livejournal.com profile] princeofcairo), he didn't care for much at all. We also had a 21 year-old Glengoyne, which wasn't actually as smooth as I might've expected; I believe I gave the Mackillop’s Choice a miss in order to try some bramble whiskey liquor.

The trip there was a bit annoying, due entirely to my misremembering how far Powell's Book was from Whole Foods before suggesting we walk there. Proving that he is worth his weight in gold, the Auld Man never reproached me once, not even after I'd made us late and then gotten into it with the cabbie for basically no reason. Our hearts sunk as he literally took us around the block, and then overshot our destination by more than a dozen house numbers. Our cabbie coming back, on the other hand, was a pro.
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Aug. 26th, 2012 11:48 am

Perfection

muckefuck: (Default)
So last night I was at a couple of friends' silver anniversary party. I meant to be only GST-late, but ended up overshooting a bit, so I arrived to a crowded room and a line for the bar that was getting longer rather than shorter. They had engaged a "bartender" for the evening. (I use quotes because--as will soon become evident--we're talking about a "bartender" in the gay tradition, i.e. a guy who takes his shirt off and can add one ingredient to a glass of vodka.) I ordered a manhattan, he asked me what sort of whisk(e)y I wanted in it, then this happened:
"I usually have it with bourbon or rye."
"I don't have any bourbon."
"In that case make it a Rob Roy."
[adds a measure of scotch to a cup of ice and sets it in front of me]
"So now, ginger ale?"
*expression of utter horror*
"What else goes into a Rob Roy? It's a long time since I've made one."
"It's like a manhattan made with scotch."
*deer in headlights*
"So, sweet vermouth."
[starts hunting through liquor cart]
"I don't seem to have any vermouth."
"That's okay, forget about it."
"Do you want some tonic?"
"No, that's fine." *self-consciously eyes queue behind him*
"You sure? A little more whisky?"
*grabs drink before he can find some way to ruin it*
As it happened, I--knowing my hosts were manhattan fans--had brought a bottle of Carpano Antica style for them. So I set off to find where they had set it. I had no joy locating either the bottle or them, but by now the ice had melted enough that the scotch was sippable. I was just finishing it up a while later when one of them came by and asked:
"So, did you get your manhattan?"
"No, he said he didn't have any vermouth."
*look of surprise* "I'll make you a manhattan."
"No really, don't worry about it."
*waves me off*
He was gone for a while, and when he returned it was with an actual martini glass rather than the disposable plastic cups everyone else had. Half an hour later, when I was almost to the bottom, he swept by again with the shaker and I topped myself off.
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