Category: Uncategorized

Tiki Drink: Opaka Raka

In casting around for some new recipes to try, I found myself in a section I have left pretty much unexplored in Beachbum Berry's Remixed: the second appendix (modern creations). As I perused this area of the book, I stumbled upon the Opaka Raka, from Brian Miller of Manhattan's Death & Co.
  • 1 1/2 oz navy strength gin
  • 1 1/2 oz Donn's Spices #2*
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/4  oz simple syrup (omit)
  • 1 dash Elemakule Tiki bitters
Shake all with ice, and strain into an elegant old-fashioned glass with fresh crushed ice. Garnish exotically....
Berry notes in his recipe the importance of the gin in this drink, and how it needs to be at least 94 proof to stand up to all the heavy Tiki flavors. For my taste, that wasn't quite enough, and I think the cocktail benefits from a full navy strength bottling. I used Hayman's Royal Dock, which is far and away my favorite gundeck-compliant gin. I also omitted the quarter ounce of simple syrup. I don't think it is necessary, but be aware if the drink is too tart for your palate at first taste, you can splash it in. As you might expect with an ounce and a half of Don's Spices #2*, allspice is the Mick Jagger of this little band, with vanilla as it's Keith Richards. You end up with a rich, dark, exotically unctuous sip that is right at home with the 30's and 40's era drinks that are my personal favorite in the Tiki oeuvre. * Don's Spices #2 is one of Don the Beachcomber's premixed ingredients that he made as a way to speed drink production, and more importantly to slow down recipe theft. Today it is well known to be a simple 1 to 1 mix of vanilla syrup and allspice dram. Should you have or have access to both, it is simple to make. Should either be difficult to obtain, Portland Tiki god and member of the Board of Tiki Idols B. G. Reynolds makes a commercial version that has the added virtue (?) of being non-alcoholic. abc

How Your Politics Affects Your Drinking… It’s Science!

The political blogosphere has been abuzz for a few days about a new study from a firm called National Media Research Planning and Placement LLC, which details American consumer preferences for various liquor and wine brands as a function of party preference and predilection to actually vote. Here's the graph, click to pop up as large a version as I could find.
Booze preference by party and liklihood of voting Graphic courtesy Jennifer Dube, National Media Research Planning and Placement LLC, via CNN, because the Washington Post thinks their analysis is so damned valuable that you don't need the original data in readable form.
As I said, this chart has been analyzed to death all over the political blogs. And by analyzed to death, I mean repeated from the original press release. The CNN article is the best, in that it seems to hit all the points cherry picked by other outlets. A few of these highlights to tempt the political junkie to read the CNN article include:
  • The most likely voters drink wine. The only liquor brand in the survey to crack the top 15 in terms of likelihood to vote, regardless of party affiliation, is the venerable Tanqueray.
  • People who drink liquor or wine are in general more likely to vote, period.
  • Among those who drink liquor, Democrats tend to prefer white liquor, while brown liquor drinkers tend to be Republicans.
  • Democrats drink more wine and liquor than Republicans by a factor of 2:1.
  • Political figures most often cited are Nancy Pelosi, who sure enough drinks wine (and owns two wineries), and John Boehner, who true to form drinks bourbon. (Of course, he's from Cincinnati. Everyone else in Ohio considers Cincinnati an honorary part of Kentucky anyway.)
  • Democrats are the ones who mostly drink champagne. Frenchies.
  • Rum is bi-partisan.
It's all terribly interesting, it is also all written from the perspective of politics. I think what's needed is to look at these booze bubbles from a cocktailian perspective, and see how we can make fun of everyone involved. First, Two Buck Chuck? It's all on you, Democrats. Conversely, Republicans must live with the shame of being Franzia drinkers. On the liquor side, Republicans must answer for being 40% more likely to drink, um, Seagrams VO. But they win anyway, because anyone who touched Seagram's gin is almost 95% likely to be a Democrat. Tequila drinkers are among the least likely to vote, regardless of party, which is unsurprising since voting takes place on Tuesday for the most part, and that is way too close to last Saturday for tequila drinkers to have sobered up enough to get to the polling place. It is interesting to note the brands where parties go against the general white liquor-Democrat/brown liquor-Republican divide. The only gin on the Republican ledger is the iconic but unaggressive Beefeater. The big whiskey among Democrats is the iconic but unaggressive Jameson. The only two vodka brands I see on the Republican side are Ketel One and Skyy, both are fairly unpretentious brands offering good value for their mid-range price. (Grey Goose flavored vodkas are almost entirely on the Democratic ledger.) There are two Martini & Rossi bubbles, both on the Republican side. I'm assuming that at least one of these is vermouth, and likely both. I am happy to infer from this that while most gin is drunk by Democrats, most Martinis (well-made ones at least) are consumed by good, solid Republican stock. This goes double for Manhattans.
To be fair to the Democrats: Jågermeister.
True. And Peppermint Schnapps. And Franzia.
You already said Franzia.
It bears repeating. On a more serious note, the size of some of these bubbles surprised me. It reminded me that the cocktailian world is still quite divorced from mainstream American drinking, no matter how much closer it has gotten. I'm sure the commercial distillers and distributors deal with this reality every day, but when your drinking life revolves around White Ladies, Whiskey Sours, and Jet Pilots, the fact that Jose Cuervo is the Jupiter of the high-alcohol solar system comes as a shock. I'm not surprised to see Jack Daniels be the big dog on the Republican side, but I was shocked at how much bigger it is than Jim Beam. And man, do people really drink that much Irish Creme in general, and Bailey's in particular? Two last takeaways. First, you can tell that NMRPP is a Republican firm in that they highlight as the most committedly Democrat product on the chart a brand called "Smoking Loon". Second. Tanqueray is (again) the only liquor among the top 15 brands by political involvement. If the cable networks know what is good for them, expect to see this on Fox or MSNBC any day now...
Angus Winchester Brings theTalking Head to a New Level
Angus Winchester should raise the level of discourse in the entire cable industry. Or at least get them drunk enough to stop being so evil.
Liquor Fairy

Review: Ron de Jeremy

Ron de Jeremy Bottle A little while ago, I wrote a post about a new aged rum, Ron de Jeremy. Yes, named for that Ron Jeremy.
Oh dear, I have a bad feeling about this post....
Probably wise. Anyway, the Liquor Fairy rolled up this week with a bottle of Ron de Jeremy for my review! There really is a lot to go over, fun and serious, with this rum, and it is hard to decide where to...
Heh. You said, "hard"!
Don't you start in, too! I've got no problem with any of the subject matter, just the way you two are going to wallow in....
Sigh. If you two keep interrupting me, this is going to be one long post.
You said, "long"!
... Ron de Jeremy is the brainchild of two Finnish guys, Ollie Hietalahti and Jouko Laune. Sitting one evening in a bar in Amsterdam, they were congenially perusing the rum offerings. They were struck by the group of rums which use the Spanish word, "Ron", in their names. Soon, they were boozily riffing on made up rums that sounded like people's names, until one of them uttered the fateful words, "Ron de Jeremy!" For the heroes of our tale, this was one of those cocktail napkin ideas that was too good to discard upon regaining sobriety, and they resolved to make the brainstorm a reality. Neither had ever met The Man before, but Olli was undaunted and picked up the phone to make his pitch. "Talk about a cold call!" he remembers. With buy-in from Ron, who had been upset for years at all these booze manufacturers who were "using his name" to market their rum, One-Eyed Spirits was born. They even tell this story (slightly embellished) in one of their many videos: The company has made a number of good choices in getting their rum to market. First, being advertising men, they created a lush, gorgeous ad campaign. It has fantastic still imagery... (You can enjoy a silent video of how they made that picture here.) Second, they also created some awesome video and one of the more entertaining product websites you will find. (And yes, it is perfectly safe, if a bit suggestive.) I suggest, no I require, that you go in particular to the How to Mix Drinks Ron Style section. In it you can choose which of Ron's three comely bartenders will make one of three drinks. Each has their own style of very unique "flair" for each drink that you won't want to miss. Neither Gaz Regan nor Tom Cruise has anything on these ladies' routines. Third, they indulged themselves in just the right amount of juvenile humor. I won't steal anymore of their jokes than I did in my first post. Just poke around the website and...
Heh. You said, "poke"!
...! Fourth, and most importantly, they realized that as great spirits makers... they made great ad men. (Ad men are awesome at consuming great spirits, but it is important to know what you don't know.) So they contracted with an established distillery in Panama (Alcoholes y Rones de Panama) to produce their molasses-based product, and hired an old pro, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez to create it. The 72 year-old Don Pancho is a second-generation Cuban rum maker whose other rums include Zafra and Havana Club's 7 Anos. So, how'd he do with Ron de Jeremy? It is hard to know what to expect with celebrity-connected products of any kind. Drinkhacker was a bit bemused by Ice-T's brandy. Many of us were pleasantly surprised by Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head. In this case, I think they've got a winner. While they tout Ron de Jeremy as both a sipping and mixing rum, I think it leans more toward the former. It has a lovely vanilla and orange aromas and flavors. It's quite smooth, even neat. It reminds me in many ways, stylistically and olfactorally, of a nice Cognac. Few rums with any character are all purpose mixers, of course. Ron de Jeremy makes only a decent Mai Tai by itself. I got better results by blending it with other rums, but I never found a perfect match. Perhaps the Dood will come up with something. For me, I found it blends better with herbal or spice elements than fruits, so I'll likely look elsewhere for my Tiki needs. But where the Ron de Jeremy really shines is in a dead simple Old-Fashioned.
RON-FASHIONED (All Ron de Jeremy drinks must be named like this)
  • 2 oz. Ron de Jeremy
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir ingredients with ice to chill. Place a big chunk of ice (if the ice isn't big, it ain't a Ron-Fashioned) in a glass and strain the drink over it. Slowly strip peel an orange and wrap a strip around the ice.
A properly made Ron-Fashioned
Click to engorge enlarge
I am completely serious. This is about the best Rum Old-Fashioned I've made yet, and I make a lot of Rum Old-Fashioneds. As Craig Ferguson would say, I look forward to your letters....
Hey! I can think of some great entertainment to enjoy while having one of these!
Oh, you can think of that entertainment all you want....
You almost certainly won't find Ron de Jeremy in your local liquor store yet, but you can find it in the US from DrinkUpNY. European readers should try Masters of Malt. Let me know if you try it, I'd love to hear your take. abc
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