I must admit (or partially at least), I stole this title from Ed (the best poet in the world) Skoog. Or think I did, as I had his latest book Travelers Leaving for the City next to me when I was trying to come up with a title for a new drink I’d made, and so I picked up his book and randomly opened it up, and picked the first phrase I saw, but then my mind wandered, as it does, for a moment, and “Work By Lamplight” was what I remembered when fingers finally met keyboard.
And, you know what, it works well, as, though this tipple could be tipped earlier in the day, I feel it’s best later in the hours, after dinner. It can serve, in a way, as your after-dinner coffee and a dessert all in one glass. How, you ask? It starts with Tia Maria, a newly-designed bottle of which showed up neatly packaged on the porch recently (I know, I’m lucky!), and which reminded me of how it’s made with 100% Arabica coffee beans and Madagascar vanilla on a base of Jamaican rum, and in the popular cold brew method. That’s good, yes? Yes! It’s a touch sweet (but so am I), but the coffee-ness comes through smoothly and it melts on the tongue in a swell way. And coffee goes with more other bottled beauties than people give it credit for. Tequila, for example, which is the base for this cocktail, goes deliciously with coffee. In some ways, those two together in the right ratios might be okay all by their paired-ness, but we want better than okay, right? Right! So, in come two delights near-and-dear to all good drinker’s hearts. First up, Pierre Ferrand’s orange curaçao, which bring what you think of curaçao to another level in the same way this drink brings what you think of coffee cocktails to another level (if I may be so bold). And then, Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters, which utilizes organic toasted cacao nibs to add chocolate and herbal notes, without which the drink would feel ridiculously underdressed. And then, a mandarin orange twist, whose citrus oils cut the sweetness charmingly. Altogether, a layered number you’ll want to sip slowly as the evening turns. If you want to read poems while drinking, all the better.
Well, I know what I’m doing today: waiting around watching my mailbox, sidewalk, and street for the postal person who today is supposedly delivering to me the new book of poems by Ed Skoog, called Travelers Leaving for the City. At least, I was told it would arrive today, when I ordered it. Hopefully you are doing the same thing – unless you’re lucky enough that your copy has already been delivered? – but if you aren’t, then for gosh sakes make your life better by ordering now. If, by some strange and cruel twist of fate, you aren’t already acquainted with Skoog (feels that should be all-capped, SKOOG, but I’m resisting. Or not), then let me tell you, not only is he a genius poet and writer, but also a champ banjo player, snappy dresser, fleet-footed dancer, and more, but also one of the swellest bar companions you could ever desire. While I’m waiting to spend many hours devouring his newest, I thought I’d ramp up my synapses by re-reading one of his poems from In Their Cups: An Anthology of Poems About Drinking Places, Drinks, and Drinkers. He has two poems in there – both awesome – as well as a few translations (also awesome), which he can do cause he is, as mentioned, a genius. In the feeling of community, I felt you also might want to read a snatch of Skoog if your copy of the latest hasn’t shown, and so here we are with the below.
The Last Saturn Bar Poem
Around the art barn, Mike Frolich’s bar-tab
bartered paintings hang the hell that rose with him
from the Gulf of Mexico floor too fast, torturing
blood with air: maniac fish, demon in a diving bell,
and then from cadmium sunset through marsh comes
the boat bearing forward in grand roving the name
O’Neal, our bartender. Theirs are the dreams we enter,
entering the Saturn Bar’s owly heat re-tooled for unlovely
loss, the rattled corner leaning away from Chartreuse, neat,
and when I’m able to dream jukebox damaged warbling,
a Saturn-like-thing opens within me, but this is the last
Saturn Bar poem–I’ll try, I’ll try–to stop singing
shadows of St. Claude and Clouet on security camera
pavement grays we keep talking about with increasing
reluctance, ready to move on to fresh bewilderments,
spiraling neon, neon that lights up my nameless shot.
It’s a proud day in Spiked Punch land – our pal Ed Skoog has a new book out and ready for reading. It’s his latest poetry collection (he is a poetic genius, as well as being a dandy drink maker, bonny bar companion, general good egg, and cute) and it’s called Rough Day, and you should get it today! Then, after getting it, come back and watch Ed make his world famous Ellipse in the below Cocktail to Cocktail Hour episode, which we’re resurfacing from way back in season 2 in honor of his new book.
Well, it’s been an interesting season for the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour (in the “may you live in interesting times” fashion). With my much-publicized addiction to velvet jackets becoming public, with director, cameraman, writer, and producer Dr. Gonzo’s less-publicized adventures “down south,” and with us drinking away our sponsorship dollars, the year has spun past. And now here we are, the last episode. But what an episode it is, as we solve one of the most-debated cocktail mysteries: where did The Rusty Nail come from and why isn’t it consumed as much today as in 1952? To help us, we have a very special guest, E.P. Gooks* (or, Goose. It gets confusing), a first-rate historian who we did not pay to come on the show. Watch and learn dear ones, and be ready for the next season—it’s gonna be a doozy.**
* Any resemblance to the long-time Cocktail to Cocktail Hour favorite poet Ed Skoog is purely coincidental. All academics look alike.
**This is no way means we’re legally obligated to have another season, much less a doozy season.
Well, friends, it’s been a bit of a break for the favorite cocktail-making series in the history of cocktail-making series (at least that’s what the Nielsen Company told me), the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour. I can’t say much about the break, only that the world-renowned series director and cameraman and producer of said serier is no longer allowed in Tijuana. But, but, but we’re back! And back in genius fashion as poet Ed Skoog is back in the studio, making a variation on his Dark Spirits’ favorite the Drowsy Chaperone, a new drink called the Drowsy Librarian. He also talks about Grandparents Day, Brazilians, and candy. Watch now!
Ba, baa, baaa, ba bum! That’s right cocktail lovers, the moment you’ve dreamed about since the finale of the last season of the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour dripped to a close is here–the new C2C season is now beginning (sorry for the wait. Our cameraman had some problems in a Central American lock up. But all’s well now). And what a beginning it is, friends, one that will be sung about in bars from here to Poughkeepsie. We have a very special lit’rary guest for this first episode, none other than poet and drink-maker and shot-putter extraordinaire, Ed Skoog, making his soon-to-be-renowned cocktail (a cocktail featured in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz) the Ellipse. I’d say more, but I don’t want to spoil the fun, and the episode is a tad lengthy, so, with no further palaver, let the new season begin.
Yes, I know, I’ve talked lots about the Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizzrelease party that was at the Rob Roy a week or so ago. And I’ve posted a couple drinks from the book, and made a short video about joining the GBVF Army, that talks a bit about the book. But I haven’t given (I don’t think) the book a proper overview here yet, for those who may have missed the party and aren’t quite sure why they need a copy. So, first, a quick overview, and then (second) some fun facts.
Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz is designed in a very particular manner. Unlike other numerous classic and modern cocktail tomes available that break out chapters by base spirit (gin, vodka, brandy, whiskey, tequila, and sometimes Champagne), or the fine volumes that are alphabetical by drink, or the other worthy reads (including a few by yours truly) that break chapters out by theme, this book is divided into chapters by flavor profile. By “flavor profile” I’m talking about what the flavor is of a particular liqueur that’s responsible for the personality and taste of a drink. There’s a chapter on A Liquid Citrus Circus, for example, containing recipes highlighted by the vast panoply of fun orange and other citrus liqueurs, and a chapter that reminds you to Take Your Herbal Medicine that contains darker, more intense, herbal liqueurs that are popping up more regularly. There’s also a chapter detailing The Justice League of Vermouths–though they aren’t specifically liqueurs, vermouths and their cousins are also part of the path to joining the GBVF Army–and other flavor specific chapters. By breaking out the chapters in this flavor-oriented way, it makes it easier to plan a party around a few signature drinks as well as easier to find a particular drink matching up with what you’re craving. The idea is to make it a snap for you to pick out a few signature drinks to make any gathering sparkle: from parties of many people to those that are just you and a significant other.
Okay, now that you know a bit about the book in general, here are some specific facts you might not know:
GBVF has over 200 recipes, some lesser-known classics, some from here and there, and a bunch from modern pro-and-home bartenders, including recipes from: Andrew Bohrer, Ed Skoog, Matt Bohlmann, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, LUPEC Boston, Jeremy Sidener, Paul Abercrombie, Meaghan Dorman, Jay Hepburn, Robert Hess, Yuri Kato, Augusto Lino, Kelly, Magyarics, Thad Volger, Kara Newman, Jim Romdall, David Shenaut, Doug Winship, Erik Ellestad, Chantal Tseng, and probably a few others I’m forgetting a will feel bad about later. Look these fine people up and support them.
There are at least 14 mentions of comic book or comic strip characters, including two Dr. Strange references (to make Neilalien happy) and a whole chapter called The Justice League of Vermouths (to make pal PhiSmi happy).
There is one current NBA basketballer mentioned (Andrew Bogut) and three past ballers (Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Nate McMillan).
There are a number of sidebars to help you pick drinks for specific party occasions, including 4 Drinks for Fishing.
One drink is named after a short short story by the novelist J. Robert Lennon. Guess which one?
There are 27 Liqueur Spotlights, which go deeper into the taste, history, and personality of individual liqueurs.
There are two mentions of Tom Waits, and one drink (The Hounds They Start To Roar) named from a Tom Waits lyric. There is also one mention of the little known Kansas City band Shooting Star.
Perhaps the best Cocktail Talk type quote in the book is from Paul Holt and is on page 208 and reads thusly:
Perhaps, after all, it is best to stick to Pernod, if the sartorial consequences of imbibing interest you as much as they do me. This if only for the reason that however you start off drinking the stuff, you’re bound to end up more or less naked.
Perhaps the best quote from the book itself (meaning, written by me) is “Charles H. Baker was the Grand Funk Railroad of his time.”
There are sidebars pointing to classic cocktail books, favorite new cocktail books, favorite booze blogs, boozy poem quotes, and other ways to stock your literal and electronic libraries.
Finally, the first drink in the book is the 14 Juillet and the last is the Ti Penso Sempre.
Hello and happy Monday! It’s not only now less than two weeks before the below-mentioned Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz Rob Roy release event, but today is also the birthday of Mr. Ed Skoog, a poet and cocktail aficionado of the first ranking, whose poems highlight the compilation of drinking verse called In Their Cups, and whose past spirited creations have been in Dark Spirits, that compendium of darkly-natured drinks. Those two occurrences (Mr. Skoog’s birthday and upcoming GBVF party) make this the absolutely perfect day to drink an Ellipse. Why? Cause it’s a drink created by Skoog that’s featured in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. A delicious and creative drink, I may say, also, though you should expect that from Mr. Skoog. And I expect you to wish him happy fortieth today, if you happen to see him. And buy him a drink why dontcha?
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram leaves
2 ounces Strega
Fresh marjoram sprig, for garnish
1. Add the marjoram to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle gently.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Strega. Shake well.
3. Strain (preferably with a fine-mesh strainer) into a flute glass. Top with Prosecco, almost to the rim, and garnish with the marjoram.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More