November 4, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Hounds They Start to Roar

Well, you play that tarantella, all the hounds will start to roar
The boys all go to hell and then the Cubans hit the floor
They drive along the pipeline, they tango ’til they’re sore
They take apart their nightmares and they leave them by the door
Let me fall out of the window with confetti in my hair
Deal out Jacks or better on a blanket by the stairs
I’ll tell you all my secrets, but I lie about my past
And send me off to bed for evermore . . .

houndsThat’s Tom Waits, friends. Lyrics from the song “Tango ’til They’re Sore,” naturally. The inspiration, that song, and the record it’s on, for this very drink. You’ll need to listen to the whole thing and the whole of Rain Dogs, now. If you weren’t already.

The Hounds They Start to Roar

2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1/2 ounce brandy (Spanish, of course)
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass or goblet. Sing Tom songs, of course.

October 20, 2011

Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: A Cocktail Lover’s Guide to Mixing Drinks Using New and Classic Liqueurs

Yes, I know, I’ve talked lots about the Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz release 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.


Now, you know a bit more about Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. So, whacha waiting for? Join the GBVF Army today!


May 23, 2010

MxMo, Tom Waits, & The Hounds They Start to Roar

Okay, right up at the front of the stage, before the curtains go up, let me tell those readers who don’t know, what MxMo is (or at least give out what I know, which isn’t a whole barrelful of knowledge, since I’ve never had the pleasure of taking part before). Basically, it’s a bunch of bar-booze-drunken bloggers making up or bringing out a drink under a particular theme, on a Monday. So, mixology Monday I suppose. A different blog hosts every one (one a month, I believe), and they round up links to the posts about the theme on the day on their site, and send readers out and about and around the interweb to see those other posts about the theme. From what I’ve read when going boozing on the web on Mondays, the themes tend to be a particular spirit, liquor, or ingredient. However, when the really wacky bar blogger hosts, the theme may just be more, let’s say esoteric. Which is the case this month, as drink-slinger Andrew Bohrer who blogs at Cask Strength is hosting the MxMo, and he chose Tom Waits.


Which actually makes fantastically fantastic sense, as Andrew talks about in his top MxMo post (right here), in story fashion, which Waits himself would enjoy, I think. See, at heart, going around the rumbling voice and the at times otherworldly instrumentation and the harlots and hard heads, Waits is a storyteller, a boozy troubadour, a chronicler of the forgotten nights and the railroad yards, of trombone funerals and waking up wearing bruises and regret in a hotel next to the railroad tracks, of lost and long- elapsed love, and of gospel music sung under a blistering sun when all you want is a glass of whiskey and s single ice cube and the time to drink the world down.


Of course, as the above going on and on probably demonstrates, and since I’ve mentioned him in cocktail recipe intros in pretty much every book I’ve written, I’m a Tom Waits fan. I have most CDs, and listen to him on a regular basis, and have sat up singing Tom Waits with pals and bourbon and brandy until 4 am multiple times, have sat in a parked car half drunk singing Tom Waits while the thunder hit the hood like a million fists, and have put Tom Waits songs on jukeboxes with a glass of gin in one hand in more bars, lounges, dives, and hole-in-the-walls then I can remember. But as I haven’t gotten to my drink yet, I’m gonna put a leash on my Waitsean ramblings and start pouring.


Oh, wait, give me another sec, to give a drink backstory. Though I enjoy all the Waits CDs I have (including those Andrew mentions, Closing Time, Small Change, and the rollicking live Nighthawks at the Diner), the one I go back to the most is Rain Dogs. From the opening “We sail tonight for Singapore” to the New Orleans horns playing the funeral out at the record’s end, Rain Dogs matches more moods and moodiness and must-have-a-drink-while-listening-to tracks to me than any other. And while I don’t have a “favorite” song on Rain Dogs (this makes a type of sense, since they go together like egg drinks and mornings), “Tango Till They’re Sore” is the song (don’t take this morbidly, by the way) I want played at my funeral. I just want folks there to have good music, to drink well, and to toast me relentlessly, and this song, which starts “Well ya play that Tarantela and the hounds they start to roar” does just that. Not to mention that the chorus goes:

Let me fall out the window
With confetti in my hair
Deal out jacks or better
On a blanket by the stairs
I’ll tell you all my secrets
But I lie about my past
So send me off to bed forever more.


Rain Dogs also has a dandy song called “Jockey Full of Bourbon” (which has the classic line, a line I can sympathize with, “I’m full of bourbon, I can’t stand up”), so I wanted my drink to have a bourbon base, and bourbon is also mentioned multiple times within the record. The only other spirit dropped in the album is brandy (in “Union Square”), so I decided to double up on base spirits a bit, and then I wanted to bring in some bitters, in honor of the line in “9th & Hennepin” that says “till you’re full of rag water, bitters, and blue ruin.” So, that got me to three, a magic number, but because Tom Waits is also an original, I wanted to bring another ingredient into the drink that isn’t mentioned in one of his songs (four can be a magic number too y’all), but that has at least a tangential connection, and so I went with St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram. For one, it tastes great. For two, St. Elizabeth’s could be an insane asylum. For three, it’s based on an older ingredient called “Pimento Dram” which I could see Waits-style sailors drinking on a leaking dingy. When mixed in the following way, these ingredients in honor of Tom Waits and Andrew Bohrer make The Hounds They Start to Roar:


2 ounces bourbon (I used Blanton’s)

¾ ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram

½ ounce brandy (I used Grand Duke d’Alba cause I’m walking Spanish down the hall)

2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters


1. Fill a cocktail shaker, mixing glass, dented top hat, or ladies leather boot halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.


2. Strain into a cocktail glass or goblet. Garnish with a sad song.


PS: Feel this needs a garnish? I suggest an ice pick, a dented fender from a ’54 Ford, or a tattooed tear.

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