Category: Biographical
Political Controversies
Rule 4

Presidential Drinking Habits

Obama gives a thumbs-up as he celebrates St. Patrick's Day in Washington The New York Post has just published a nifty little piece of scholarship by Mark Will-Weber entitled "A Complete List of Every President's Favorite Drink". I was just going to link it in the SideBlog, but there is enough stuff here to share some highlights without stealing so much you won't read the original. Some of this I already knew, but most I did not. It is a fun and quick read. It is an illuminating historical fact that of America's Founding Fathers, only Washington died wealthy. In fact, virtually all the rest died broke. Perhaps some of the reason for this is because, while Washington was the continent's biggest liquor producer, he never drank it, preferring the odd porter instead. In contrast, Jefferson bankrupted himself on expensive wine, and James Monroe spent the White House furniture budget on 100 cases of French wine and Champagne. Martin Van Buren was a heavy drinker, who liked a New York-made Genever variant called Scheidam. Anyone ever heard of this stuff? We had some bad presidents in the lead-up to the Civil War, and their drinking habits are in keeping with that. Millard Fillmore was a near teetotaler, and with a name like that to tote around, a sane man would need an occasional belt. He was followed by Franklin Pierce, who died of cirrhosis, and James Buchanan, who drank Iberia dry. The Rutherford B. Hayes White House staff would resort to spiking the punch because his wife was a Prohibitionist, but she caught on and substituted their rum with artificial flavoring behind their backs. If you merged a period costume film with Porky's, you get a Hayes state dinner, I guess. Read the entry for Grover Cleveland. No really, read it. I can't steal it. William McKinley had an official campaign cocktail. An Official. Campaign. Cocktail. Harry Truman started most days with a shot of bourbon and a massage. The only man to ever nuke anyone didn't play around. Finally, if LBJ had been president when MADD was founded... they would not have gotten along. For why, and plenty of other good stuff, click the

How to Drink Like Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra Helicopter Drink
Pictured in the dictionary under "Cool"
Source: ApocsBlog
I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day. —FRANK SINATRA
Ol' Blue Eyes is alleged to have been buried with a bottle of Jack Daniels in his pocket, a tidbit at the center of Jack Daniel's latest marketing campaign, which includes an exhibition at the Savoy Hotel in London (England, not Ohio, if you were confused) and the release of a special bottling of Jack Daniels called Sinatra Select. It's available only in airport duty-free stores, so at £150 you know its a good deal.... But while I'm always willing to tap my hat to the joy of a few fingers of brown liquor, this is a cocktail blog. Let's talk instead about the man and his cocktails, as discussed in part by The Independent's Dish of the Day blog. Sinatra always stayed at the Savoy when he was performing in London, and after his shows, he would retire to the American Bar to wind down. His drink of choice at those times was a dry Martini.
He’d go for a classic Martini – Beefeater gin with a shadow of vermouth, served on the rocks with a twist of lemon. And we had to make sure his glass was filled with ice. —Victor Gower, Head Barman at the American Bar 1946-1985
Since he's the Chairman of the Board, I guess he can be forgiven having his Martini on the rocks. Ditto for the vermouth aversion. But only for him. You need to drink your Gospel of Gin "up", with a goodly pour of vermouth! This picture is an example. Frank looks cool with a Martini on the rocks in his hand. This other dude.... And even Sinatra looks better when he has his Martini up, as seen below in a rare photo of him being out cooled by Bing Crosby in High Society Now that I've had some fun, there are two points I'd like to make about what both Gower and his successor Peter Dorelli say about Sinatra's visits to the American Bar. The first is that he was very particular about the details of his drinks. On its own, this is a fine and admirable trait. I am quite particular about what I drink. A cocktail is, or should be, a precision creation. But Frank sounds like he was kind of a dick about it, which is neither fine nor admirable. He didn't like to talk to the bartenders himself, even when standing at the bar, but if any detail was not to his liking, "everyone would know about it,” notes Dorelli. No one is too good to talk to their bartender. No. One. And if you find something wrong with your drink, cordially and quietly let the bartender know how you would like it fixed. If it keeps happening, go to another bar. Or, if you are Frank Sinatra and you only drink at this bar, have the offending mixer put in a car trunk and driven to the fens. But do it quietly, as there is no need to embarrass the guy in the process! Balancing out this minor rudeness is a major plus: He liked to play the piano. Most bars do not like it when their guests take it upon themselves to sit at the piano and start to play. (And by you, I mean me. (And probably you.)) But when said guest is Frank Sinatra, exceptions must be made. news-graphics-2007-_654003a
The impromptu performances were more for his own benefit than for any fortunate guests who happened to be listening, but they have become the stuff of music legend. —The Telegraph
Rule 2
Tiki Month 2013

The Tikiphile as Archaeologist

The introduction of Donn Beach's Zombie was tough on the Moai of Easter Island.... (Precaptioned photo via io9)
Either that, or they just got hit with the same brutal cold that I'm just now fighting out from under. Among the things about Tiki I find most fascinating is the genuine scholarship being done in its study. The iconic figure in the field of course is Beachbum Berry. ("Jeff" to his doctor, and "We have no record of this man" to the IRS) As history, archaeology, and anthropology, his body of work is more extensive, better written, and frankly, orders of magnitude more useful than most of the work by college professors. Work that gets them tenure, while making sure that there is no time to teach the students that are paying 50K a year to go to their universities. But the Bum is hardly alone in this thirst for Tiki lore and lost artifacts. There is a legion of Tikiphiles out there who spend incredible amounts of time digging through the past to find vessels and decor from long passed oases, secrets to the origins of potions, and countless other fascinating details. I'm pretty sure the competition can be pretty fierce at times.
Indiana Jones - Harrison Ford"It's perfect!
I can put a double Boo-Loo in there and the floating orchid garnish will be clearly visible all the way around the room."
Today, Indy would wear a fez... Of course, not every Tiki archaeologist is as badass as Indiana Jones, or Thor Heyerdahl, or Beachbum Berry. Most toil in the relative (to the greater drinks world) anonymity of the Tiki Central message boards. And let's face it, a lot more of their research is drunk than is written up. But regardless, one of the most fascinating things that these guys do is look into the archaeology of taste. It is a pretty rare field in the mainstream science, and I suspect that the pros might learn a thing or two from folks who do this with Tiki. A good example, which prompted this post, is a new article by Hurricane Hayward (whose name at least can compete with Indy's, but probably not Thor's) at the Atomic Grog Blog. I wrote last year a little experiment on the various versions of the Dr. Funk, one of the few cocktails of genuinely South Pacific origin in the Tiki oeuvre. Hayward's post is a search for the taste of the legendary Mai Kai's variant, the Dr. Fong. We both reference some excellent historical research published in the scholarly and peer-reviewed Journal of Faux-Polynesian Studies by Messrs Kirsten and Duncan, PhT. Hayward does not find an actual recipe for the Fong, alas. So he does, again, what the "real" people in fields like this do, he recreates the recipe, based on lots of other research on the bar in question, its head barman at the relevant time, the other drinks on the menu, etc. It is kinda like putting flesh onto dinosaur bones. There is some scholarship like this in the larger, broad-spectrum world of classic cocktails, but it is far less common. I am not sure what it is about Tiki that spurs such passions for history and authenticity, especially considering the deliberate inauthenticity of the genre. But we should be glad of it, because going over the research is delicious....
And hey! This post is part of Tiki Month 2013 here at the Pegu Blog! Be sure to look around for LOTS more Tiki stuff all February!

The Pegu Blog is Four Years Old Today

May 17, 2007, this blog first went on line. That's four years ago today. And thus it is time for the usual bloggiversary navel-gazing, distributing of thanks, and thoughts on where I go from here.
Awesome! Four years, that's quite a significant milestone!
Don't be such a pathetic sock puppet, Guy. As for you, Mr. Blogger, try not to bore everybody with the whole "I love me" post.
It's probably already too late for that.... First, the numbers. In four years, I've put up 714 posts (and abandoned 15% that many, half-written). And as best I can tell, I've had well over 370,000 visitors here to read them. I am glad to have had every last one of you here—especially those of you loyal readers who each account for scores or more of those visits. Next, what happened of interest this year? Well, Maggi and I went on the New York City Adventure last June, where we visited more bars and restaurants in the Big apple than I could blog about, but I wrote extensively about the best. This February was the third annual Tiki Month around here. I had a great time, as usual, and I hope you did too. In March, eCairn announced that this blog was one of the top twenty most influential alcohol blogs on the entire web. I wrote about this before. It's flattering, but please don't think that I for one second believe that I personally am influential in the liquor world. People who know what they are doing don't look to me for information or advice. (A few may read me for entertainment. I'm good with that.) The content that I provide is entertainment first, with a dose of commentary, and hopefully lots of what I've learned from others and my own experimentations. I've tried consciously to craft that content in ways that bring new people into the Cocktailosphere to learn about the Modern Cocktail Renascence. That's the form whatever influence I allegedly have comes in. Just as I learned much of what I know about drinks from the talented professionals and passionate amateurs who make up my fellow drink bloggers, what I've gleaned about how to build a readership, and how to send them where I'd like them to go to learn more comes from other bloggers in the much larger political area of the Blogosphere. In particular, I want to thank Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, "Ace of Spades", and Stacy "The Other" McCain, from whom I've learned the most about committed blogging and shaping traffic. And each has over time sent me the occasional fire hose of traffic; new readers who Sitemeter tells me spread out from here once they arrive to other corners of our community. Thanks to you guys, and others all over the web who've entertained me and taught me by example. Here's a few posts that I think were more entertaining than average this year.
  • The Polar Ice Tray, a cocktail making accessory you need to have.
  • I learned that when cocktails and cleavage collide, something has to give... and it isn't likely to be the cleavage.
  • The most ridiculous garnish I've ever made.
  • My best original cocktail of the year, the Nikki Heat cocktail, named for the book character in the most meta TV show out there right now, Castle. (Bonus drinking game here.)
  • On a local note, two new micro-distilleries (both with intriguing product) opened right here in my town. Watershed Distillery and Middle West Spirits.
  • My review of Ron de Jeremy, the new rum by... him.
  • The New York Times, in its continuing quest to admiringly profile douchebags, gave me the chance to discuss the mental stylings of Alex Ott and Dustin Terry. (Incidentally, did you know you can make most professional bartenders laugh uproariously simply by uttering the words, "Alex Ott"?
  • In September, I hosted my second Mixology Monday, on limes.
  • I got to judge the Columbus Chopped Mixology contest. I'll be doing several rounds at least this year, too.
As for the year ahead, I hope to have big things to discuss as it goes on. One thing is for sure, I will be addressing in the next three months the biggest frustration I have had in blogging. I've been at this for years and enjoyed being a part of the community of cocktail bloggers, but only via the web. With but one or two exceptions, I haven't met any of my fellow drinkbloggers, and I aim to fix that shortly. I'm going to spend nearly the entire month of June travelling, visiting distilleries in Kentucky, and bars in Washington, DC, Boston, San Francisco and Portland. Follow me here and on Twitter, and let me know if you'll be near wherever I am. Then in July, I'll be going to Tales of the Cocktail for the first time. hopefully I'll meet a stack more of my readers and fellow writers there. Regardless, I'll have fun. And I'll tell you all about it, at (probably exhaustive) length right here. Do stick around, won't you?abc
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