Every day a different drink. Not just how to make them, but a detailed review of how they actually taste, photos of the drinks, and stories along the way. Starting from the beginning, The Bartender's Black Book will be our guide, taking us

(and our livers) on a journey from which we may never recover. Cheers!

April 6, 2011

#91: Armored Car

2 oz Bourbon
Dash of Simple Syrup
1 oz fresh Lemon Juice
Combine in a mixing glass with ice and stir
Strain into a chilled glass

This seems like a pretty basic drink. Bourbon and lemon juice. The only thing unusual about it is the taste.

I really don't know why this is called an Armored Car. Typically that is a tequila and amaretto drink. In fact, this is the only version I could find of this recipe, anywhere. Be that as it may, it would take an armored car filled with cash to get me to drink another one of these.

Bourbon is smooth. Lemon juice is not. The two together seemed to cancel each other out. The bourbon was no longer smooth, and the tartness of the lemon juice was oddly twisted into something I don't think many people would like. It just didn't work.

I have no idea how this drink came about, or who invented it. I do know that they should be run over by a large, well-protected truck, filled with cash paid for from a restitution fund set up for those who have tasted this drink.


I'm sure that we all have days at work that feel just like this:

April 5, 2011

#90: Arizona Lemonade

2 tsp Powdered Sugar
2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
Muddle/mix together in a mixing glass, then fill with ice
Add 2 oz Tequila
Shake until sugar dissolves, then use a lemon slice as garnish

First sip: this could have used a bit more sugar.

Second sip: think about how much more sugar this needs

Third sip: the hell with it, there's tequila in here!

This is basically homemade lemonade with tequila, which in my book is never a bad thing. I think that in modern America, we get so used to overly sweetened drinks like soda, that natural lemonade seems overly tart and not sweet enough. Well, this works just fine.

When I think about what Arizona Lemonade would taste like, this is exactly on the mark. It is tart, mildly sweet, and the tequila added a mild kick. Not enough to keep you from having another.


Check out the awesome artwork of artist Adam Watson, who has mashed up Star Wars and Dr. Suess, to create something pretty special. You can check out his blog here.

April 4, 2011

#89: April in Paris

1 oz Orange Liquer
Pour into a champagne glass, and fill with champagne
Use an orange slice as a garnish

Let's see, there was a movie by this name in 1952, with Doris Day and Ray Bolger. I've never seen it, so I have no idea if oranges and champagne play into the plot. It was also somewhat of a hit song back in the 30s, made into a much bigger hit for the movie by Count Basie, although it has been covered by tons of other artists over the years (Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, on and on). Basically considered a jazz standard now. It's also used in Blazing Saddles, but for the life of me, I can't remember where.

Here are some notes by David Thorne Scott, a modern jazz singer and Associate Professor of Voice at Berklee College of Music, about this song, writing on

The contrast between the A sections and the bridge of “April in Paris” illustrates the process of memory. The A sections are rather static, harmonically and melodically, and the lyrics are fragments of partially remembered images. The bridge speeds everything up musically and the lyrics come into focus in complete sentences with the narrator as the subject. The A sections are like looking back through a gauzy filter, nostalgic, yearning to remember the good old days in Paris, while the bridge makes you feel like you are actually there, young again, strutting down the Champs-Elysees flirting.

The orange liquer really came through the champagne on this one, which seemed a bit surprising, since there isn't much there. It didn't make it overly sweet, just cut through the dry white grape flavor and actually enhanced it considerably.

Normally I am not much of a champagne drinker, but this was really good. I imagine other liquer flavors might work also, but they probably wouldn't be as good as this combination. I think it was the citrus overtones that really made this shine.

I'm not sure if there are a lot of orange trees in Paris, or when they bloom, but if you want to imagine yourself in a café along the Seine while drinking this, go right ahead. This drink will help the illusion.

April 3, 2011

#88: Apricot Sour

2 oz Apricot Brandy
Pour into a tall glass with ice, fill with sour mix, and shake
Use an orange slice and a cherry as garnish

This was a little on the sweet side, but still delicious. That could have been because I had recently switched over to store-bought sour mix, rather than making my own. The store-bought stuff seems basically like thin orange syrup, so I think I am going to go back to the homemade stuff, using the recipe in the book, after this.

The tartness of the sour mix was blunted by the sweetness of the apricot brandy. But it was still light, refreshing, and basically was a burst of sweet juicy flavor.

The orange slice sure looked nice, but I wasn't sure what it actually added to the drink. The cherry definitely was a good addition. On top of the contrasting color, it was a welcome flavor addition when it was finally eaten.

Overall this was a good drink. I would actually order this in a bar. The "apricot" part might sound girly, but anything with "sour" in the name has got a little toughness to it.


Hope springs eternal, especially for baseball fans. Those of us who have the fortune to root for (or live and die by, as the case may be) small market teams that have never one the World Series, take special interest in this time of year. For a little while, even the Cubs can be atop the standings. At least until next week.

Another baseball season is upon us, so I thought I would put up a nice photo of my favorite ballpark, Petco Park, where my beloved Padres play. If you look closely, you won't see me in this photo.

April 2, 2011

#87: Aprés Ski 2

1 oz Brandy
1 oz Apple Brandy
Fill with hot apple cider and garnish with a cinnamon stick

I wrote about the origins of the name in yesterday's post, but this was much more like what I expected from a drink with this name. Now this was what you would expect to be served in a ski lodge, if you didn't want any hot chocolate.

A nice cinnamon smell wafted from the glass and filled the room. That, along with the brandy, mellowed the apple cider quite a bit, making this into one smooth drink.

This was very warming, like cuddling up with a friendly St. Bernard. I have to say that this was one of my favorite drinks that uses brandy in any significant amount. It was also one of the sweetest drinks so far, but not in a cloying or overpowering way.

I would definitely order this after a tiring day on the slopes.


Are these the coolest salt and pepper shakers ever? I think they are just a concept. I could only find this photo on the web, but I couldn't find anywhere i could buy them. Oh well.

April 1, 2011

#86: Aprés Ski

1 oz Peppermint Schnapps
1 oz Coffee Liquer
1 oz White Créme de Cacao
Combine in a short glass with ice, and shake

Aprés-ski (French for after skiing) refers to going out, having drinks, dancing, and generally socializing after skiing. It is popular in the Alps, where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear. The concept is similar to the nineteenth hole in golf.

The term après-ski is also being increasingly applied in a derogatory sense, to describe those whose interest in snow sports is mainly confined to image, such as expensive prestige brands of equipment and seasonal ski-wear fashion.

Well, the peppermint flavor was strong, but it complimented the Créme de Cacao chocolate tones nicely, and the added coffee notes from the Coffee Liquer made the sum greater than the parts.

I thought that this would be good as a warm drink, the thought being that you would imbibe this one at the ski lodge after a day on the slopes. Imagine my surprise when I could find no evidence in the recipe regarding heat of any sort. This was made with ice, and after tasting it, I believe that the idea is to remind you of those days, even when you can't make it out there to actually ski.

It was bracing (the peppermint) like a cold brisk day, and the other flavors reminded me of a ski lodge, all warm and comfy by the fire. So I guess it all makes sense now. Actually one of the more appropriately named drinks yet.


I found a cool website,, that has all kinds of fun stuff (their motto is "entertain your inner child"), and they have this awesome OCD Chef Cutting Board:

I may have to get one!

March 31, 2011

#85: Apple Polisher

2 oz Southern Comfort
Fill with hot apple cider
Garnish with a cinnamon stick

I'm glad I was able to capture the effervescent bubbles coming off of the cinnamon stick on this drink. It imparted a pleasantly strong cinnamon flavor to the whole drink, which diffused nicely throughout and blended with the hot apple cider for a cozy drink. The Southern Comfort, with its blend of fruits, spices, and whiskey, added a kick at the end of each sip.

Of course, apples and cinnamon go together. Pies, desserts, and now drinks. the first was a bit odd. I think I must have made some sort of face, because my wife commented, asking if everything was all right. It was all right, and the more I sipped, the more I liked it.

The cinnamon stick stopped bubbling after a couple of minutes, which was ok, considering that those bubbles combined with the strong vapors and aroma of the hot apple cider and now warmed Southern Comfort might have caused me to choke up a bit.

In the end, I decided that this would be a great drink for a cool October evening.


I honor of the opening of the new Star Wars Miniland at the Legoland California Theme Park here in San Diego, I found this awesome photo of 2 guys with what may be one of the best jobs in the world. Can you imagine being paid to build the Millenium Falcon out of Legos?

From their website, I garnered a few items about what went into this latest attraction. They made over 2,000 Star Wars models at the park in Germany, with 8 designers and 2 animation electricians building everything for the 7 interactive exhibits. They started planning a year in advance, and used drawing from Lucasfilms of the figures, spacecraft, vehicles, and landscapes to create their own Lego blueprints. Those special blueprints were gridded out in squares, where each square equalled one Lego knob. Next they calculated how many bricks and which colors they would need. Some of the models had to be prototyped first, before they constructed them with actual Legos. As the final models were built, they glued the pieces together and then coated everything with a special UV coating to help everything last longer.

I can't wait to take my grandson there. I might have more fun than him!

March 30, 2011

#84: Apple Pie (floater)

3/4 oz Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Cinnamon Schnapps
3/4 oz Irish Cream
Layer the ingredients into the glass in the order listed

I like apple pie. Especially at Thanksgiving. I did not like this drink. The Apple Brandy and the Cinnamon Schnapps did not separate well, and the Irish Cream, although it floated well at the top, actually solidified a bit and became a sort of semi-solid lump. Quite gross, like some sort of sweet oyster floating in apples and cinnamon.

The overall flavors did nothing for me. They weren't distinct enough, and all I could taste was the cinnamon. Everything was too sweet, and it sort of grossed me out. It had quite a bite though. The brandy gave some depth, but I would not recommend this for any occasion.


Someone has figured out that there are only so many bad guys to go around. I think I work with most of them. See if you can spot people in your life from this cast of characters:

March 29, 2011

#83: Apple Pie

1 1/2 oz Vodka or Apple Vodka
1/2 oz Apple Cider or Apple Juice
Combine in a mixing glass with ice
Strain into a chilled glass
Sprinkle with cinnamon

Does it get more American than this? Well, yes, this uses Vodka, but apples are American, aren't they?

Anyway, I debated which glass I should use to serve this in, and opted for something other than a standard cocktail glass. Something more American, more middle American.

I wasn't sure if this really tasted like apple pie, but it sure came pretty close. I used Apple Vodka for a more intense apple flavor. Regular vodka might have given this more of a bite, but the cinnamon really put this over the top.

Yummy and easy to drink.


I like that Target is doing its part to prepare the next generation of scholars…

And Bed Bath & Beyond is even getting in on the act. I guess you need these for all the weight you will gain when you play multiple rounds of beer pong:

March 28, 2011

#82: Apple Manhattan

1 oz Apple Brandy or liquer (not sour)
3 oz American Whiskey
Dash of Sweet Cider or Apple Juice (optional)
Dash of Sweet Vermouth (optional)
Combine all in a mixing glass filled with ice and shake
Strain into a chilled glass

Since a classic Manhattan is basically Whiskey, or more traditionally Rye, bitters, and vermouth, this drink was slightly different, but not too bizarre. You've got to get the apple flavors in there somehow. I used apple liquer, apple juice, and just a touch of dry vermouth, since I didn't have any sweet vermouth. Really, just the tiniest bit.

Now, I like a good Manhattan as much as the next guy, but I had never even contemplated mixing one up like this and making an Apple Manhattan before. I will definitely be having one again very soon.

the apple flavors went extremely well with the whiskey. The deep flavors of the whiskey combined with the sweetness and crispness of the apple, blending together for a pleasant marriage. One of the better flavor blendings thus far.

A good Manhattan is something I look forward to, and savor when it is made correctly. Now this is too. It was smooth yet crisp, and definitely elegant. A real winner and a keeper in the notebook for a night out. There are so many good drinks to choose from when I go out, I need to have notes to remind myself what I want to order, and what bars make the best drinks. We'll see how some locals make this one next time I am out. Or maybe I will just have to stay home and make my own, which is never a bad thing.


No one seems to know the definitive story of the history of the name for the "Manhattan" as a drink. One of the urban legends about the name has an interesting but slightly nauseating twist. Seems that back in the 1860s or so, it was named for the city's sewage and water system, which ran brown at the time. Not saying this really makes any sense at all, but when you consider the look of a classic Manhattan (below), you can see how this story might have come about, even if it is probably not true. It makes you wonder how anybody survived the 19th century.

Public sanitation was not the highest order of the day. Can you imagine your tap water coming out this color? I didn't think so. I couldn't imagine it coming out any color at all, only clear. But I guess when things are that bad, you can only joke about it, and have a drink about it. Remember, the alcohol will kill the germs!

March 27, 2011

#81: Apple Martini 2

1/2 oz Orange Liquer
1/2 oz Sour Apple Liquer
3 oz Vodka
Dash of Cognac or Brandy
Combine in a mixing glass filled with ice and shake
Strain into a chilled glass, and garnish with a lime

There is a note at the end of this recipe to see the Sour Apple Martini later in the book. Flipping to that page, I saw that this has the brandy, the orange liquer, and uses a lime as garnish. It will be interesting to see the difference in tastes, but that is a long way down the road.

Now this was a Martini! The apple flavor was perfectly balanced with the vodka, and there was more crispness to this version than the one yesterday. The regular vodka instead of the apple vodka provided more of a bite.

The orange liquer injects just a tiny touch of noticeable flavor, but the lime garnish really makes this drink stand out. Running it around the outer rim of the glass before sipping really enhanced all the other flavors, and in my opinion made this a top notch drink.

I wasn't sure what the brandy added to this, other than giving it the smallest bit of depth on the flavor profile. Otherwise without it I think the drink would fall a bit flat. It certainly doesn't take much to make a drink better, as long as it is just the right ingredient. The brandy also adds some obvious color. Again not much, but it is noticeable.


When my wife and I take our dog for a walk, we almost always take her alone, otherwise she gets distracted from the task at hand and thinks it is play time. Getting her to do her business can then take half an evening.

When we come in, we have had to let each other know what she has done, so the other person knows what to expect, how long it might be until next walk, and about how long that walk will be.

One day the dog had accomplished both tasks in a relatively short amount of time, and I decided to give it a code name. We now call getting both done on one walk "pulling a Lawrence Welk", as in "a-one and a-two".* It just sounds so urbane. Well, maybe just better than shouting out the alternative every time you walk through the door. I sear we spend more time talking about her bowel movements than anything else. (the dog's not my wife's) My wife rolled her eyes and thought it was the stupidest thing ever when I first said it, but now she does it too, almost every time. Sometime humor just has to grow on you.

*If you don't get this, you are much younger than me, obviously. Find a grandparent, or at least someone over 40, to explain. Then get off my lawn.

March 26, 2011

#80: Apple Martini

Dash of Dry Vermouth or Apple Liquer (optional)
4 oz Apple Vodka
Pour into a mixing glass filled with ice, stir, and strain into a chilled glass or pour with the ice into a short glass.
Garnish with an apple slice

I decided to make this martini with vermouth instead of the apple liquer, in keeping with a more traditional martini.

The Apple Vodka was delicious, and the apple flavors were nowhere near as overpowering as I thought they would be. The drink was light and crisp, withe a very pleasant overall smoothness. I know that criso and smooth aren't usually descriptions that go together, but that's what this was. Crisp yet smooth. Exactly what an apple martini should be, if you think about it. It was like Johnny Appleseed and Leon Trotsky had a love child, and he made this drink for me.

After a few sips, I took a bite of the apple slice garnish and then tried some more of the martini. Hard to imagine, but it was even better.

This was definitely a winner. I'm not usually a fan of "designer" martinis, but this was a very nice happy surprise.

BTW, I think I went a little overboard on the backdrop for the photograph today. It seemed cool, funky, and a little hip when I set it up, and even when I was editing the photo, but the more I look at it, the more I think that I should stage the photos before I start drinking. What do you think? Does it work, or does it make your molars hurt?


In 2002, a British scientist set out to do a study of the broad appeal of humor across different cultures, demographics, and countries. Richard Wiseman named this experiment Laughlab, and he created a website where people could rate and submit jokes. In the end, he found what may be the world's funniest joke. At least across the broad spectrum of people who voted online. Here is that joke:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?". The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?"

Maybe you have to be British to find this the funniest joke in the world. It's certainly not the funniest joke I have ever heard. Notice that it is totally clean. My brother told me the world's filthiest joke once, which I can't even repeat here. Maybe it was just the most offensive joke, knowing my brother. That was funnier. Maybe my sick mind needs the shock of a filthy joke. I'm not saying that the joke determined by LaughLab isn't funny, and I think it was a bit if a noble experiment. I do think that it is the funniest joke across the broadest spectrum of sensibilities too. The only people it might offend either don't like any jokes, or have been shot in a hunting accident. So basically all of Dick Cheney's friends.

March 25, 2011

#79: Apple Margraita (frozen)

1 cup Ice
1 oz Tequila
1 oz Apple Brandy
2 tblsp Applesauce or puree
1 oz Sour Mix
Combine in a blender, blend until smooth.
If too thick add applesauce or Sour Mix
If too thin add ice
Rim glass with cinnamon and sugar

First thing I discovered when making this drink is that it appears that we have gotten rid of our margarita pitcher and glasses set. Not sure when that happened.I know it was before the big earthquake last year, so that's not why we are missing a vital ingredient to any household. I guess I will have to fill that gap soon, since there are quite a few margarita drinks in the book.

I made do with a classic cocktail glass, as you can see the photo. The cinnamon and sugar on the rim of the glass was great with the apple flavors, as expected. As I worked my way around the glass and down through the slushy mixture, I realized that this could have used twice as much tequila. It was way too weak to be anything other than the equivalent of a watered down margarita at a cheap mexican restaurant. It needed some bite, something to make it resonate. And more tequila will do that.

Overall it was quite tasty, with a pleasant sweetness that wasn't cloying or heavy. Add an extra ounce of tequila, and you've got yourself a winner of a drink.


When I was about 12 or so, my family went to a local park on the 4th of July to watch fireworks. We got there early, set out our blanket and picnic basket, and settled in to celebrate. Of course, we were much too early. My father couldn't stand that we might not have the best spot, which when you think about it makes no sense, sense everyone is looking up. If someone blocked your view, there were bigger problems than where you were sitting.

Since we were so early, my father decided he needed to keep my younger brother and I entertained. We had already started the fidgeting and were probably gearing up for a full, all out war about who would get to sit where on that ratty old Navy blanket we used for picnics. Anyway, my father does not tell short stories or short jokes, which normally is a perfectly good reason for us to practice our eye rolling skills. In this case, it was a valuable skill.

He proceeded to tell a joke that normally would take maybe a minute or so to relate for the average person, and stretched it out into something like a 45 minute saga full of twists and turns, ins and outs, highs and lows. Accents were introduced with each minor character, and as they faded from the story, new ones appeared, and you never knew where this thing was headed. We sat spellbound for the entire time, the story building to a crescendo, the payoff, the punchline we were sure would be the one to end it all.

Finally, after 3/4 of an hour of verbal play and contortions, the punchline hit us. Like a sucker punch, we weren't prepared, and started laughing like there would be no tomorrow. We laughed so hard, I remember rolling down the hillside we were near, holding my stomach, giggling, guffawing, and choking on tears of joy all at the same time. We had never heard anything so funny, so utterly full of humor and the absurdity of life. All the bad emotions that surround us every day had been pushed aside during the telling of the joke, and know they were obliterated, banished to the realm of other worlds, worlds where the unlucky lived, those who would never know this moment, never hear this joke, never hear it told with such perfection, such grace, such panache and timing.

The rest of the evening was a dream, a wonderful night of perfect weather, a perfectly happy little family safe in the protective cocoon of it's own devising, and the most awesome fireworks display I have ever seen, even to this day.

I plan on asking my father, the next time I see him, to tell that joke again, even though I know it won't be the same. I'll be disappointed, I know. You can't be 12 again, you only get a few truly special moments like that in a lifetime. But the main reason I wan't him to tell it again is...

For the life of me I can't remember that damn joke.

March 24, 2011

#78: Apple Joll-E Rancher

1 1/2 oz Vodka or Citrus Vodka
1/2 oz Sour Apple Schnapps
2 oz Sour Mix
Combine ingredients in a tall glass filled with ice, shake, and fill with lemon-lime soda

Well, this is sort of a cheesy way to name the drink without running into legal issues. I was wondering as I made this if it would taste like a Jolly Rancher candy, and it really did. Exactly like a piece of candy. If he name wasn't spelled differently, this tastes so close to the real thing that I think there would be a lawsuit.

The intense apple flavor was balanced with the lemon-lime soda. This made for a pleasant overall experience. It was surprisingly refreshing. Coolers are mainly drinks made with a flavored soda or juice as a base, and in the end, I actually liked this better than most coolers I have had.

It was a little on the sweet side, but otherwise very good. This would be good on a hot, hot, hot day. That's three hiots for thise keeping score at home.


On to the fourth and last part of Epicurus' remedy for happiness.

What is terrible is easy to endure

The Epicureans felt that one had to know the limits of one's endurance, both physical and mental, so you can be prepared for whatever life may throw at you. If you know your limits, say how much pain you can stand, you will be prepared when you are in pain.

But they also felt that there were ways to understand that pain and suffering were not permanent. Epicurus posited that pain and suffering could be either brief or chronic, ongoing. And that pain could be mild or intense. But rarely does one have pain that is both chronic and intense, so there was no need to worry about that sort of pain, as worrying about it would stand in the way, or create anxiety that would hinder, your overall happiness.

By understanding your limits of suffering, and realizing that it is rare to have ongoing intense pain, you will be confident that you can endure most pain, and know that pleasure will most certainly follow, once the pain ends. So worrying about it, or having anxiety about the length of the pain, stands in the way of your happiness. It seems simple as I write it, but I think that this is a very valuable piece of advice.

Don't worry about pain you can't bear. That is very rare in life. And any pain you do suffer is generally short-lived, relative to the length of your life. So worrying and fretting about what is rare will actually cause you more anxiety and keep you from overall happiness more than the actual pain you will suffer during your lifetime.

To sum up the Tetrapharmakos:

Don’t fear god: god is happiness, and has no concern in our affairs. Anxiety about what god (or gods) want is useless.

Don’t worry about death: there is no afterlife, so there is no need to worry about if you are doing the right thing here, based on the possibility of achieving an eternity of pain or pleasure. That worrying creates anxiety.

What is good is easy to get: Don't be greedy or overindulge. Learn the difference between what you want and what you need. Anxiety comes from trying to grab too much or over doing something.

What is terrible is easy to endure: most pain is fleeting and can be endured, so worrying about it is needless. It shall pass, and pleasure will take its place.

The fundamental obstacle to happiness is anxiety. Remove or at least lessen the anxiety in your life with the 4 steps, and happiness will be easier to achieve and maintain.

OK, that's enough serious stuff. I feel like cutting loose, so tomorrow I start back on some silly stuff. Less anxiety writing the fun stuff too.

March 23, 2011

#77: Apple Cooler

1 oz Light Rum or Spiced Rum
1 oz Brandy
Combine in a mixing glass with ice.
Fill with apple cider or apple juice, shake, and strain into a chilled glass.
Float 1/2 oz dark rum on top

The Captain is in the house! Captain Morgan that is. The dark rum floating on the top added an interesting dark hue to the top of the drink, which faded as it faded down the glass.

The spiced rum provided a strong flavor, though it did not compete with the apple cider. If you use apple juice, it might make this too sweet, what with all the rum in this.

I was not a big fan of the brandy, but it was OK. I could almost do without it, but I understand why it is in there. It provides a clear noted base of alcohol that balances against the sweet tones of the rum. But in the end, not much could put this drink over the top into greatness. It was just OK, nothing special. Which os sort of sad, since I had high hopes for what sounded like a really cool drink.


I promised that I would get back to working through Epicurus' 4-part remedy for happiness, and today I take a look at step 3.

What is good is easy to get

Some things are easy to get. Food and shelter primarily. Rich or poor, animal and human can all get these with relatively minimal effort. But if you try to obtain more in your life than you need, you fall into gluttony and over-indulgence. These will limit your chances at happiness and satisfaction in life, which in turn creates needless anxiety in your life.

This implies that the minimum amount of energy to satisfy your needs and urges is the maximum amount of interest you should have in satisfying those urges. If you over indulge in eating, you have spent too much energy trying to satisfy your urge for food, and will be unhappy for a variety of reasons, from poor health to being overweight. If you become greedy in accumulation of wealth, lusting after material things that are beyond what you actually need to survive, you limit your happiness by always wanting more, and perhaps suffering the consequences of overworking to pay for them, and possibly neglecting other parts of your life.

Epicurus felt that you only need to spend the least amount of energy on the minimum amount of things you actually need. A modern phrase most of us have heard is to remind yourself whether you want or need something. I think that is the essence of part 3. Obtain what you absolutely need in life: shelter and food to survive. To spend the least amount of energy on this, don't over indulge and get greedy beyond that, or you will impede your ultimate happiness by introducing uneccessary anxiety into your life.

March 22, 2011

#76: Appendectomy (aka Appendicitis)

1 oz Gin
1/2 oz Orange Liquer
1 oz Sour Mix
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice, shake, and strain into a chilled glass

Well, we're back. Spring Training in Peoria was awesome, especially since the Padres beat the Cubs 14-4. The highlights for me were the score, having a better seat than Dave Winfield (who we saw a few rows away), and downing the largest hot dog ever (seriously, it had to be 14" long, and built like a porn star). Sadly, I didn't think to get a picture of the Ruthian when I was there. Maybe next year. A few other photos:


But back to the drinks. Where did this drink get its name? The best I can come up with is that some people claim that the pain of appendicitis can be lessened by drinking ginger ale, usually flat ginger ale. It could be one of the things that they let you drink at the hospital after an appendectomy, and people seem to remember that episode in their lives. Weird, sort of like a lot of people (me included) who only drink ginger ale when on an airplane. It just feels right. Not sure why ginger ale would help such a serious condition as appendicitis, but it was the best I could find. If anyone has better info, let me know.

The flavor of the gin was nice and strong, and the sour mix added just the right amount of sweet and tartness. The orange liquer almost hid away, but poked its pleasant little head up the more I sipped.

It was not quite a martini, but the gin was reminiscent of one. This had a very pleasant taste, and was refreshing throughout. A winner of a drink, even with a scary name.

Tomorrow I will be back with the 3rd part of the Tetrapharmakos, or 4-part cure for happiness. Right now I am still recovering from vacation, where I was seriously happy.

March 16, 2011


The time has come to jump ship on our jobs for a few days and head out to see some Spring Training games in Arizona. With that in mind, The Drink Diary will skip a few days, and come back in full swing next week.

I was going to say that the Drink Diary would be on "hiatus", but it seemed too formal. This isn't a television show (although it would be nice to be optioned), and when you type it into Wikipedia, it directs you to a whole page about "recess". Drinking like this isn't for kids. So cut to the chase, and vacation it is.

Thanks for reading, tell your friends, try the veal. Come by for the drinks, stay for the jokes, or something like that.

Really, thanks for reading.

#75: Apollo Cooler

1 1/2 oz Metaxa
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Combine ingredients in a tall glass with ice, shake, and fill with ginger ale

First off, I needed to find out about this Metaxa. It is a blend of brandy and sun-dried Greek grapes, then it is blended again with aged Muscat wine from several Greek islands. It come in 5 varieties, from 3 to 12 Stars, plus the Grand Reserve. The stars represent the number of years the blend has matured. Supposedly the Grand Reserve is the most expensive and difficult to find, but I didn't even try. I just went for the 5 Star variety, running about $25 for a 750 mL bottle. The top of the line Grand Reserve variety looks like it goes for about twice that amount. Metaxa is traditionally served either neat or on the rocks, but can be mixed, ususally with sours. It appeared that this was the case here, as the Lemon Juice is definitely considered a sour mixer.

This was very refreshing and very light. I thought that the Metaxa would be too strong for the other flavors and blot them out, but I was wrong. It actually went quite well with the ginger ale, and the touch of lemon juice really added that little something it needed. For once this drink worked well in the tall Collins glass. Since the Metaxa is quite strong on its own, it needed the dilution and blending with the other ingredients to make a good mixed cocktail. It still retained its strength, with an added pleasant bite from the ginger ale. Overall I really liked it. I'm not sure I would make it very often, as Metaxa is not the least expensive liquer behind the bar, and is a little over wrought for my taste, but added with these ingredients, I could handle it any time. If I wanted something like Metaxa neat as an after dinner drink, I think I would stick with a port after dessert, but I believe that Metaxa is usually served before dessert, but after a large meal.

Being a "cooler", of course it was light and refreshing. I could definitely see myself sipping this on a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean.


Today I tackle the second part of the 4-part cure from Epicurus

Don't worry about death

Death means nothing to us. When we are alive, there is no death. When there is death, we don't exist. Death is something that most people spend the most time and energy worrying about, or as Epicurus would state, it creates the greatest anxiety for us, both in length (our whole lives) and intensity (you can't escape death, it is final). This anxiety gets in the way of our happiness and the quality of our lives.

The Epicureans did not believe in an afterlife. If you believe in an afterlife, you must inherently worry at some point whether and how your actions in this life will affect where you will spend that afterlife. AN eternity of pain or an eternity of pleasure. That would make me worry too.

So, we follow not fearing god (almost leaning to modern agnosticism) to with not fearing or even believing in an afterlife. Now some people would look at the Epicurean's philosophy of happiness as the ultimate goal in life and use this rule to justify any sort of action. If there is no afterlife, there are no consequences, right? You can do whatever you want.

Well, Epicurean thought was that individual pleasure was the primary importance in life, so you should live your life in such a way to get the greatest amount of pleasure during your lifetime. Of course, moderation was key to this. Gluttony is not a good idea here. Sure, it may sound good to pig out on that cake, but by overindulging, you get a stomach ache and gain weight. That is not happiness. Not all pleasure is short term immediate gain.

Let's apply that standard to not believing in an afterlife, not worrying about death. On the surface, if it seems that there will be no consequences for our actions in the ever after (heaven or hell), then we can pursue our happiness here in this lifetime full bore ahead, damn the consequences, screw everybody else, right? Wrong. Just like eating too much cake will make you sick (interfering with your happiness), so too will treating others around you like dirt, breaking laws, putting yourself in harm's way.

Let's say you decide that your happiness would best be maximized if you had a lot of money. Since there are no consequences after you die, why not just mug the next guy you see on the street (providing he's wearing nice lothes of course)? Well, the short term happiness would be overshadowed by the long term unhappiness of finding yourself in jail. We still have to maintain a balance, a moderation, between short term goals and long term consequences, to achieve the maximum happiness in our lives.

And rule number 2 takes the weight of worrying about how we will be judged shoulders. So far, we can increase our happiness in life by not fearing god and not worrying about death. Check.

Next week, the 3rd step. See my note in the next post that explains the hiatus...

March 15, 2011

#74: Aphrodisiac

Fill a beer glass 3/4 with Stout and let settle
Gently stir in a raw egg an 1 tsp honey or 1/2 tsp sugar

Some people think that raw eggs can increase your libido, but believe me, that was not on my mind as I got the ingredients together. Going into this I was a bit nervous. Maybe even scared. Can you say salmonella? Raw eggs are almost never a good idea. Most places, you can't even get a real Caesar salad with the raw egg. But I reminded myself that this experiment was for the good of science. Sort of.

Well first off, I used a whole bottle of beer, since it seemed a bit of a waste to use only 3/4 os a glass. It took awhile to settle, which allowed me to in turn settle my nerves. The egg yolk sank to the bottom of the glass almost immediately, as did the honey. I stirred it gently, very gently, so it took awhile to get the egg to break up and mix well throughout the beer. I guess gently is subjective, since it seemed like a bartender would never take that long to prepare a drink. I was in no rush though. I'm not Rocky Balboa training to fight Apollo Creed, so I could take my time getting to the drinking the egg part of this. All kinds of floaters formed, a veritable storm of egg particles swimming around. You may be able to see them in the photo.

The honey really sweetened the stout, but I really couldn't taste the egg. I think raw egg doesn't have much flavor anyway, although I have no point of reference. All I could notice was that this just made the beer thicker.

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. It was actually sort of bland, and made for a very thick beer. I've never had mead, which is fermented honey and water, sometimes with grain mash and can be flavored with hops. Not sure if this was even close, but it's what I think of when I think of mead. I was glad the the experiment didn't end in me huddled over the sink, retching up all the hard work here. That's a positive. On the negative side, I certainly didn't feel horny.


Yesterday I wrote a little introduction to Tetrapharmakos, or the Greek "four-part cure". Today I wanted to write a bit about the first of the remedies.

Don't fear god

Epicurus didn't believe in the traditional (at the time) concept of god or gods. Most people worried about whether or not the gods were concerned with the actions of humans, and how they should honor and worship them. Many people still do. Epicurus thought of the gods as a hypothetical state of bliss rather than actual beings. The gods were indestructible, invulnerable, and unconcerned with anything beyond the bliss and happiness they represented.

Although it is a bit odd to think in those terms, if you can think of god, or whatever higher power you may believe in, as a perfect state of happiness that is more an ideal than a being, you can then lay aside the notions of devotion, or worship, or how observant you need to be. God is happiness, and exists to be happiness, nothing else. You can't change god, since you can't change an ideal. Since you can't change or influence an ideal, you don't need to waste energy in your life trying to change it, to alter it's perception of you, to please it in any way.

Think of how much time and energy you could have extra every day. Even the least observant people think of how their actions are perceived by god, even on unconscious level. Wasted energy, Epicurus said. There is nothing to fear from an ideal of happiness and bliss that doesn't notice you. So don't waste the energy in fear of doing the right thing in front of god. It just creates anxiety that is an obstacle to your happiness.

Part 2 tomorrow

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March 14, 2011

#73: Antiquan Smile

1 1/2 oz Dark Rum
1/2 oz Banana Liquer
Pinch of Powdered Sugar
Combine ingredients in a tall glass with ice, fill with orange juice, shake, and garnish with lime

Compared to yesterday's drink, this seemed more like inetersting. The dark rum made this a darker color, and the flavor came through the orange juice nicely. Sadly, I really couldn't taste the banana.

Again, if I had used a tall glass, I feel that this would have been too much orange juice, and it would have overpowered the rest of the drink. So this time I actually remade the drink in a shorter glass, as you can see in the photo. I wanted to actually be able to taste the other flavors this time, and it worked.

This was definitely a better drink in a shorter glass. I could taste the rum, and just the tiniest hint of banana. The pinch of sugar cut the tiny amount of lime from the garnish, and everything went together very nicely, flavors complementing each other throughout. The entire drinking experience was much, much better.

As I read through other parts of the Bartender's Black Book, I came across the section on which glasses to use for different drinks. One of the things I really like about this drink guide is that the author doesn't promote specific brands of alcohol, so you are free to make swill or ambrosia, you and your wallet decide. The section on glassware also does not discriminate. He basically says to use whatever glass you feel is appropriate for the drink and the situation. So for those drinks that call for being made in a tall glass, I have been using a fairly tall Collins glass, which run about 10-14 oz, and are narrower than a highball glass. Mine is at the upper end of that scale, and I think that I have been making drinks that are a bit too diluted for my taste. When I remade this drink, I opted for what would actually be a double Old Fashioned glass (12-16 oz), so called because it is a little less than twice the size of an Old Fashioned glass (6-10 oz). They got the name from the cocktail called the Old Fashioned, which many mixology historians consider the first true cocktail. It seems to have made quite a difference.

Anyway, back to the drink. I am not normally a big fan of juiced based cocktails, but in the end this was pretty good. It did have an odd color to it though, which was a little off putting, but the flavors were nice and refreshing. Certainly a winner in the end.


I wanted to start a little experiment in my non-drink writing today, and see where it takes me. I want to explore a bit of the Tetrapharmakos, or the Greek "four-part cure". The Greek philosopher Epicurus in the 3rd century BC originally created remedy of four drugs for leading the happiest possible life. They were wax, tallow, pitch, and resin. But the word Tetrapharmakos came to be used metaphorically by Epicurus and his disciples to refer to the four remedies for healing the soul. They are:

• Don't fear god
• Don't worry about death
• What is good is easy to get
• What is terrible is easy to endure

They all boil down to a quote from Epicurus:

"The fundamental obstacle to happiness is anxiety"

Over the next few days I want to explore each of the four remedies, and see if they can lead me to a happier life.

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March 13, 2011

#72: Antiquan Kiss

1/2 oz Light Rum
1/2 oz Dark Rum
1/2 oz Apricot Brandy
1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
Dash of Cranberry Juice
Combine ingredients in a tall glass with ice, fill with orange juice, and shake

Well, I'm not sure what the name of this drink really means or refers to. Antiqua is Latin for antique, but I don't know what's so old about this. The more relevant source would be the rum referring to Antiqua, the Caribbean island. So that sort of makes sense as a reference, except that's not how the island is mentioned, it would be Antiguan, with a 'g'. Oh well, as we have seen, the Good Book is not perfect. And figuring that out after the fact, I sort of wished I had used a different backdrop for my photo, maybe something with a bit of an island theme. I'll try to be more aware of those kinds of things in the future.

I couldn't really taste much alcohol in this, as the amounts of each are pretty small. The dark rum and the cranberry juice added a little darkening to the overall color, but that was about it.

I would say to use a shorter glass that I did, or double the measures of each alcoholic ingredient to 1 oz. That might help the overall drink taste less like just orange juice, and maybe have a bit of a kick. Even the other fruit flavors, the apricot and the peach, were so diluted that they were almost indiscernible.

I guess if you want an alcohol-light orange drink, this could work. It just doesn't have anything special going for it. Nothing stands out, so don't expect much. I hate to say this after the entire process of making and shooting this drink, but it was pretty boring.

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March 12, 2011

#71: Antioxidant Martini

Muddle the following ingredients well, in a mixing glass:
1/2 tsp unrefined sugar
Heaping tsp fresh berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Juice of half a medium lemon
Then fill the glass with ice and add:
3 oz Blueberry Vodka
1/2 oz Pomegranate Juice
1/2 oz Acai Juice
Shake, and strain into a chilled glass

Antioxidant? I don't drink for my health, dammit. Well, maybe my mental health. And now that I have tasted this drink, I may need to go to the doctor after all.

It was a gorgeous drink, and photographed very well, but that much blueberry vodka made for too much on the berry flavor front, especially combined with the real fruit. I would recommend using regular old non-flavored vodka to offset and perhaps balance the intense berry flavors.

Overall the concept for this drink was not bad. It was a bit of work, using several non-traditional ingredients, and it came out a bit on the overly sweet side, but the payoff just isn't there. Too much berry, not enough actual martini.

It sure looked nice though. I have to say that I got one of my favorite photos of a drink yet with this one. And as I sat back and enjoyed my photography, sipping a more and more of this concoction, the more I liked it. My mouth soon acclimated to the berry flavors, and I didn't feel the need to head to the clinic right away. Not for everyone, but this drink can certainly find a home on some menus. I'm glad I tried it though.

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March 11, 2011

#70: Anti-Freeze

1 oz Vodka
1 oz Green Creme de Menthe or Melon Liquer
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice, shake, and strain into a shot glass

Well, this would certainly keep me warm on a cold night. I used Green Creme de Menthe, as I am not a big fan of Melon Liquer. Changing between the two would make for two totally different drinks, with the Melon Liquer being much milder. I was thinking that, based on the name, the mint flavor seemed more appropriate.

This drink definitely warmed me from the inside as it went down. The strong mint flavor was offset nicely by the vodka, but obviously retained quite a bite. This drink was very strong, and should probably only be downed by Russian leprechauns.


I thought I would end the week on a disturbing note. I found this label on the web for some sort of distilled spirit from India. Based on the label, I'm not even sure they know what it really is.

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March 10, 2011

#69: Anna's Banana

1/2 cup ice
2 oz Vodka
1/2 fresh Banana
1 tsp Honey
Dash of Lime Juice
Blend until smooth, and garnish with banana.

Who was Anna? A very happy woman if she liked bananas. There was not really much alcohol in this, just the 2 oz of Vodka, so allof the flavor came from the banana, honey, and a tiny bit from the dash of lime juice. I did garnish this with a slice of banana as indicated in the Good Book, but it really wasn't that appealing. Hah! Leaving the banana peel on per the instructions for garnishing made for a funky looking slice, but I realized that if I peeled the garnish slice, it wouldn't hold up well to hanging on the lip of the glass.

This was quite tasty if you like bananas, with just a hint of the vodka lingering in the very back. It was nice and thick, like an alcoholic banana shake. But I bet you can't get this at Jamba Juice.


Cliff Clavin once explained it like this:
A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.

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March 9, 2011

#68: Ankle Breaker

1 1/2 oz 151-proof Rum
1 oz Cherry Brandy
1 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
Combine in a short glass and shake

Day 983 of my captivity...
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.
Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Imbeciles!
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.
The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now.........


This was a bit tart from the lime, and surprisingly I could not taste much of the cherry flavor. Overall it was fairly sweet and tart at the same time. I believe it would better with only 1/2 oz of lime juice.

The rum was already sweet, and the addition of the sugar syrup wasn't much help. This was very strong, and the over-proofed rum will sneak up on you. I believe that this is were it gets it's name. It is short, it sneaks up on you, and breaks your ankles with the over-proofed rum, Careful you don't fall over!

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March 8, 2011

#67: Angry Martini

1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
3 1/2 oz Gin or Vodka
Combine in a mixing glass with ice and stir.
Either strain into a chilled glass or pour with ice into a short glass.
Use either a pepperoncini, jalapeño, or habañero as a garnish

I made this drink using Gin instead of Vodka, to get a more traditional martini taste. I do prefer Vodka, but Gin just has that something special when making a martini.

The pepperoncini juice added just a touch of a bit to the drink, making it into something you just don't have every day. Angry was the right description. Other than the very slight taste of the juice from the pepper, this is really a very standard martini. So now I was angry. Where was the payoff here?

That comes when you take a bite of the pepper garnish. You get the bite of whatever pepper you used, as well as having all of the juice pour into the drink. Now we're talking. At this point the drink became more like a spicy dirty Martini, and it was really good. I am glad I used a pepperoncini, which I could honestly take a bite out of, rather than a jalapeño or a habañero. That might have made me very angry.

The chilled gin after the pepper was perfect, refreshing, and extraordinarily sippable. I definitely enjoyed finishing this off.

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March 7, 2011

#66: Angel's Tit (floater)

1 oz Dark Creme de Cacao
1 oz Milk or Cream
Float the milk or cream on top.
Garnish with a cherry on a toothpick across the top of the glass

Which would you rather have, a kiss from an Angel, or a peek at an Angel's Tit? Answer honestly.

This drink is exactly the same as the Angel Kiss, but with the cherry suspended over it. Wow, that's a lot of effort for two drinks that are basically the same.

But wait, drop the cherry into the shot glass, and down the whole thing in one gulp. This was much better than the Angel Kiss, with the cherry adding another dimension of flavor that really helped. Not that this needed added sweetness, but the cherry flavor was definitely a positive addition that really helped make a slightly boring drink much more interesting. And it was definitely better to look at.


I noticed an ad on TV today for Campbells' Soup, part of their new campaign to promote healthier, more nutritious soups. Supposedly. One of the claims made in the ad was that the ingredients are "farm grown". Well, isn't that just so special? I personally prefer my vegetables to be grown in a vat in some industrial complex, but to each his own. How stupid do they think we are? Next thing they'll be telling us that their soups use "all real ingredients".

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March 6, 2011

#65: Angel's Lips

1 1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Irish Cream
Combine in a short glass with ice and stir

The heavenly sounds of the winged host came down from on high when I sipped this for the first time. I was finally kissed by the angels I had been waiting for all these many drinks with "Angel" in their name. This was awesome. I can see why the Benedictine monks still make this stuff.

Benedictine is an herbal liquer developed in 19th century France. Originally it was developed as a medicinal aromatic herbal beverage, and was distributed in a bottle with an easily recognizable shape and label. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, supposedly known to only three people at any one time. So many poeple have tried to copy this liquer that the company keeps a "Hall of Counterfeits."

The company also make "B & B", which is Benedictine diluted with Brandy, which makes it less sweet that straight Benedictine. Benedictine is 80 proof. Every bottle has the initials D.O.M. on the label, which is mistakenly thought to stand for "Dominican Order of Monks", but which really stands for the latin phrase "Deo Optimo Maximo" (For our best, greatest God).

The Benedictine with the Irish Cream was honestly one of the best combinations I have ever had. Sweet, but not overly so, and smooth as a fluffy cloud. I didn't actually hear harps though.

This drink still retains a tiny little bite from the Benedictine, just to remind you not to swear in it's presence.

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March 5, 2011

#64: Angel Wing 2 (floater)

1 oz White Creme de Cacao
1 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Milk or Light Cream
Float the ingredients with the first item on the bottom

First things first. I made this incorrectly at first, using Creme de Menthe instead of Creme de Cacao. Once I corrected that, things were much better. In fact, it was a completely different drink, and much better as a result. The main thing was that the ingredients separated properly, which tells me that the Creme de Menthe and the Creme de Cacao must have different densities.

One more time into the breech of incompetence:

I liked this a lot more than I thought I would, and I could have had more. But it would be hard to make this much larger and retain it as a floater. Of course, it was not minty in the correct form, but it was mellow and creamy with a strong chocolate tone. Heavenly.

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