I interviewed Patrik Gallineaux, the U.S. LGBT Brand Ambassador for Stolichnayya, about the seemingly deliberately mendacious boycott of the brand by well-meaning but misguided activists for the Huffington Post.
Any Good Riesling: Hexamer Riesling Quarzit, Nahe, 2011
It really doesn't matter what this particular wine is, even though it's a good one, because my intention when I bought it was to buy a good Riesling, and that was that. I treat myself to good Rieslings now and again, when I want to drink the bottle myself and have a cerebral, visual experience. All wine is synesthetic to a degree, but fine German Riesling conjures visions of sunlight streaming through conifers and the gold of day filtering down to stones beneath steady trickles of water. It offers visual separation, if I can synesthetically borrow an audiophile's term: layers of colors that equate to flavors, each discernible in its own right, and in terms of the others that surround it.
This bottle is not as delicate as some of the Mosels I've gone sublime for: even the entry-level Kabinetts from good producers, which will set you back between $20 and $25, can have this light-as-air quality that makes them feel like they were distilled from northern forest air. Minerality is a big part of the draw too. You can taste the ground, but cleanly. These wines feel like they're beyond agriculture.
Nevertheless, this was enjoyable, if a little more muscular than I'd expected. I should have known: at 11% alcohol, it pushes its 8%-10%, prettier cousins out of the way, and some of their poetry with them. What it gains in return is, well, a little more alcohol, of course, and aggressive verve. It wants you to know it likes you. Who doesn't like to be liked?
But the real reason I wanted to drink a good Riesling, any good Riesling, is that I had just read the following passage in Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts. The book is the fist half of an account of a journey, almost entirely by foot, from Holland to Turkey taken in the 1930s by a mischievous 19-year-old Englishman with literary ambitions. It is written by the same Englishman, 40 years after the fact. Sometimes wine isn't about what you drink or what you're eating, or who you're with, but a means of participation, a way of telling a story, and a means of satisfying a desire to explore that draws in equal part from the mind and the heart, passing always over the palate, and over and around the tongue, like language:
The plain bowls of these wineglasses were poised on slender glass stalks, or on diminishing pagodas of little globes, and both kinds of stem were coloured: a deep green for Mosel and, for Rhenish, a brown smoky gold that was almost amber. When horny hands lifted them, each flashed forth its coloured message in the lamplight. It is impossible, drinking by the glass in those charmingly named inns and wine-cellars, not to drink too much... simply by sipping one could explore the two great rivers below and the Danube and all Swabia, and Franconia too by proxy, and the vales of Imhof and the faraway slopes of Würtzburg: journeying in time from year to year, with draughts as cool as a deep well, limpidly varying from dark gold to pale silver and smelling of glades and meadows and flowers.
It was reading the words "dark gold to pale silver and smelling of glades and meadows and flowers" that made me buy and drink this wine. The wine became an expression of them, carrying them back over the threshold into sensual life. Stuart Krimko. (Other Krimko pieces here.)
MILD SPOILER ALERTS THROUGHOUT. Jacob Briars of Bacardi (when I texted him about his full title he responded "Global Trade Advocacy Director. Pretentious, moi?") has been cheekily serving blue drinks at cocktail competitions, trainings and special guest appearances around the world for the past several years. In the often solemn and occasionally pompous craft cocktail landscape Jacob's added this bit of silliness as a way to remind folks that cocktails are supposed to be fun, and to take a bit of the piss out of the arch seriousness we all occasionally fall victim to. There's a pivotal scene early on in "The World's End" where a seemingly normal, human character is revealed to be filled with blue liquid. It's a measure of how firm the association between Jacob Briars and blue liquid had become for me that when that rather shocking moment occurs he instantly came to mind as the guy to approach to work on the concept for a drink inspired by the film. That he works with the blue-bottled and tinted Bombay Sapphire was simply kismet. That Sapphire is Edgar Wright's gin call of choice ("mainly because I like to say it" he told me when I interviewed him about the copious drinking in the film for T Style) was icing on the cake.
Jacob and I quickly agreed that a riff on a corpse reviver just made sense, tinted blue with Bols Blue Curaçao, to be added to a pint. (Someday I'll count how many pints are consumed in the pub crawl that drives the plot, but at least for some characters it's around 12.) Here's Jacob's offering:
THE WORLD'S END
1/2 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
1/2 oz Lillet
1/2 oz Bold Blue Curaçao
1/2 oz Strained lemon juice
Shake together, and fill a pipette or eye dropper with the mixture. Pour a crisp lager of wheat beer into a pint glass. Have a sip, then add the Reviver. Continue drinking, repeat until merry enough to forget any concerns about potential impending apocalypse.
Note: Simon Pegg's character is NOT the one revealed to be filled with blue liquid in the scene mentioned above. This is just the only photo I could get my hands on that showed the blue stuff. Also note: Pegg's kinetic, manic, endearing and surprisingly poignant performance should get him an Oscar nod, although it likely will be overlooked due to the Academy's aversion to awarding comedies and just its general lameness.
POSTSCRIPT: Have now tried the blue stuff a couple of times and when consumed as an accompinement to beer it's rather good--I'd pegged it as a bit of a stunt drink but the blue curaçao works rather nicely with the Lillet and the gin--bit of an eye opener when the party is lagging, too.
In droppers, the blue stuff can be smuggled into a cinema where it ought to be consumed starting with the first fight scene in the bathroom.
Shot this little video during Tales of the Cocktail 2013 at the Irish Whiskey House, a bustling Dead Rabbit pop-up. Jack McGarry was behind the stick banging out some pretty complex cocktails at not only an impressive clip, but for an almost super-human length of time. From noon until 8:00 p.m, in a crowded room with no AC and considerable body heat on top of mid-July New Orleans swelter, and with no break, McGarry cranked out cocktail after cocktail, checking them all and serving with a smile. Just imagine him repeating everything he does in this 1:30 video another 360 or so times.
In the words of Allegra Geller in "eXistenZ", "There must be some weird reality bleed-through effect going on here". Michael Gaston would go on to play Burt Peterson on Mad Men, but here he shills for pre-mixed whiskey sours from Heublein, sometime around 1962, judging by the model's hair and dress. The ad could have come straight from Sterling Cooper.
...And there is so very, very much drinking in the film. Had an alarmingly sober discussion with him recently about the copious, reckless imbibing in the film for T (the full name of which I only just realized is "The New York Times Style Magazine"). The film's opens at midnight tonight across the U.S, and it may singlehandedly make up for a fairly wretched summer of big films--this one is fairly brilliant. Take a flask. Or a six-pack. Or both.
Took a break here for a couple months, sort of like this bartender who'd slipped out of an early morning BarSmarts class at Tales of the Cocktail this past August, and took a moment in the Carousel Bar for a restoring cocktail. Then he went back to the class and the task at hand. And so shall I.
For Inside F & B's second annual "Best Drink I Had All Year" article I just wrote up something I had after last years pre-Tales Pig & Punch Volunteer Day, organized by San Francisco's cocktail A Team, the Bon Vivants (Josh Harris & Scott Baird). Above, the assembled cocktail army in front of Ruby H. Lee High School in New Orleans, where we painted an entire floor of the buidling (31 rooms) over the course of a very productive day.
If you want something done, give it to a bartender. The project-driven spirit of the coprs meant efficient teamwork and lots of it.
And lots of painting corners.
The day wasn't all drudgery by any means; Godfather of the Austin cocktail scene Bill Norris chats up a dapper Yorick.
At lunchtime a killer food truck roledl up--above, Milagro's Jaime Salas.
Not everyone was a bartender--Left, Emil Jattne of Brooklyn Gin.
Then it was back to work for another 4 hours, followed by a bus drive back to Bon Vivants Tales' HQ, a sprawling second floor apartment near Frenchmen Street, for debriefing and cocktails.
Actually, it was more like beer: lots and lots of cold, refreshing beer in cans. But there was plenty of Tequila Ocho in the house..
Host Harris above with a cache of Tequila Ocho minis.
A serious game of dominoes broke out the minute we arrived.
Bon Vivant team member Ruby Wilson made a Mello Ocho for me, the traditional Volunteer Day cocktail (read more about it at Inside F & B). Tequila Ocho, rocks from an ice tray, Mello Yello, a pinch of sea salt and a lime--stirred by knife, a key part of this traditional volunteer day lo-fi cocktail. Salty, tangy, and so damn refreshing after working hard all day in the intense humidity of New Orleans in late July.
As a photographer sometimes your camera is just drawn to certain people in a group; Ruby's perpetually elegant stance kept drawing my lens to her. It wasn't until I reviewed the photos that I realized that something about her reminded me of Sargent's Madame X.
As the sun finally began to set the cellphones came out and the party slowly broke up as everyone set forth for their evening's adventures. The 85 plus who joined for the day's good work were all on a collective high of doing good. For info on how to pitch in for this year's 4th Annual Pig & Punch Volunteer Day the Tuesday before Tales gets underway (July 16th) contact Josh Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Jean-Pierre Melville's pulpy 1972 film policier, Richard Crenna plays the nightclub owner & master thief, Catherine Deneuve is his icy gun moll and Alain Delon is the detective who is pursuing a gang of thieves that turns out to be led be Crenna. Delon and Deneueve are having an affair, naturally. When Delon stops by Crenna's nightclub all three players go to the bar where he casually orders "Trois scotch", which seems to be scotch and water or possibly charged water,with just the merest hint of an ice cube or two, served in a tall, wide glass that's somewhere between a collins and a pint. In this context, with the supercharged looks between the trio, the dancers in the smokey nightclub in the background, the lush Michel Colombier score and the faint clink of French ice, "Trois scotch" plays here as one of the more glamorous orders in cinema.