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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ulanda and me

Are you seeing a whiff of the green fairy in it? Good, because that's how I made mine.  A Ulanda cocktail is two parts gin, one part triple sec, and a good splash of anis, or, as I used here, absinthe.  The book is Pritchett, my favorite short story author, vurrry late.  The drink is close to a Vesper but the offsetting of bitter and sweeter is even sharper.  I guess you could call it also a Sicilian Vesper, and I'm not going to help you out of that one.  Ulanda is good enough for me, and I dare you to walk into a bar and order one--it is, in fact, one of the best-known drinks among mixologists, but not taught much in either bartending schools or on the job.  Try to change that, will you? But why walk into a bar mid-summer? In thirty-two years, I want to be where Pritchett was when he wrote this collection--ungainly paisley and hounds' tooth, some kind of wool pants you can only wear after a lifetime of contrary living--the bottom half of a mohair suit, really.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tequila Day Quandary

It's National Tequila Day and I am in a Quandary: I am reading a wintry title in the middle of summer.  John Le Carre's first novel, "Call for the Dead," is a vurrrry wintry, replete with coldcockings. There are no tequila drinks in the narrative, and indeed damn little tequila in Old Merry itself in 1961, the year of the novel.  So what to drink whilst parking proximate to The Tree You Can Walk Through in my backyard and parsing this barely-beyond-novella? Settling on a margarita, and here's how I make one: two parts tequila, one part lime, just less than one part Triple Sec or, if you are fussy, Cointreau. And...I shake it all with rocks in a cocktail shaker and pour it into a frosted cocktail glass rather than a tumbler.  I often use kosher salt for the rim, not that you can tell anymore, as there have been a few sips. 

Limes are not as prevalent in this neighborhood as lemons are, but there are neighbors in a pinch.  I have a seedless Beards dwarf, and can neither call it a disappointment or a delight: it produces, after a nearly decade in the ground, a scant seven limes a year.  But I always remain hopeful that one year it will take off.  It has great shape, and that is a consolation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

La bohème

There's no question that Bohemia is among Mexico's five top tasting beers. The evidence of this is clear enough: you don't often see people urgently running into 7-Eleven or Rite-Aid to fetch 12 of them at a time. The taste is cleaner, sunnier than Modelo and it's far crispier than any stripe of Dos Equis. The question is: Bohemia every time, or Bohemia once in a while?

Here's what I like to do with Bohemia: I like to serve them at parties and I like to drink them myself one at a time through a given week. I do it this way because the beer remains a little more special to me that way. It goes a little ways towards IPA with its hops content, but only a little, and that's especially what I like about it. In fact, how it manages the hops content even while remaining so clean tasting fairly makes it an engineering marvel.

Even if it was originally brewed by a Czech expat in Mexico, this is a beer that first and foremost has to complement Mexican cuisine. I think marriage of Czech style and Mexican sentiment was an excellent one: Bohemia's slight whiff of hops, which is almost undetectable in other Mexican beers, goes a long way with Mexican food, which is often elaborately spiced. You wouldn't hesitate to order an IPA at an India restaurant; the hops round out the palate as the meal itself is rounded out by the spices.

But I wouldn't hesitate to drink it with Thai food either, and I would certainly serve it at a party at which the featured drink is wine. It's far from overpowering but also far from thin, and it much benefits from a glass pour.