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November 23, 2007

The Vanishing Gibson
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:57 PM * 428 comments

My favorite mixed drink is the Gibson.

Here’s the recipe:
2 oz. Gin.
2 drops vermouth
1 pearl onion

Here’s the story the way I heard it: There was an American diplomat named Gibson. At embassy bun-fights he had a method of staying sober while everyone else got looped. He’d be drinking plain water out of a martini glass. To mark which one was his, the bartender would put an onion in the glass rather than an olive.

On one occasion, someone asked for “Whatever Gibson’s drinking.” The bartender, thinking fast, just made a martini and put in an onion. Thus was the drink born.

The Gibson (a martini with an onion) is my favorite drink. How to tell if I’ve been there: look at the bar tab. Is there a Gibson listed?

So. Of late there’s been a problem. There I was at my daughter’s wedding last month. There I was in a Holiday Inn in western Pennsylvania, in Williamsport. I ordered a Gibson at the bar.

“I’m sorry, sir,” said the bartender. “We don’t have any onions.”

Tonight, here I am in Timonium, Maryland (for Darkovercon), at the Holiday Inn. Friggin’ bar in the friggin’ lobby is called “The Martini Bar.” And you know what? No onions. “We haven’t had any in ten years,” says the bartender.

What’s up with that?

Out in Williamsport I walked over to the Wegman’s down the road and bought a couple of jars of onions that I donated to the bar. Am I going to do that here? Am I going to have to carry a bottle of cocktail onions with me?

These days they have all kinds of “martinis.” Sour-apple martinis. Lemon martinis. Chocolate martinis. Anything they can put in a martini glass, they call it a martini.

Why can’t I get a Gibson?

[Recipe Index]

Comments on The Vanishing Gibson:
#1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:10 PM:

It's true. Patrick once reconstructed the provenance of an unannotated bar tab while doing his expenses by spotting the gibsons on it.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:12 PM:

William, Mel, or Henry?

#3 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:15 PM:

I can't get a decent gin and tonic anywhere, either. Everyone uses sprite, from one of those handy little soda shooting doodads.

No pne takes pride in craftsmanship anymore.

#4 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Where did that p in one come from? I swear I hit preview...

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:22 PM:

#1 I recall -- in the Oyster Bar, Grand Central Station, it was, whilst I was changing trains.

#6 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:25 PM:

Friggin’ bar in the friggin’ lobby is called “The Martini Bar.” And you know what? No onions. “We haven’t had any in ten years,” says the bartender.

Obligatory M. Python reference:

MOUSEBENDER (Cleese): It's not much of a cheese shop, is it?
WENSLEYDALE (Palin): Finest in the district, sir.

#7 ::: Nat ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:27 PM:

It kills me to go to a 'Martini Bar' place and have the bartender be confused by any order for something that isn't either a sweet syrupy fruity thing or a simple liquor+soda.

It's bad enough that nobody has cocktail onions, but is asking for an actual martini at a martini bar really so weird?

#8 ::: Amy Po ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:41 PM:

I really believed I was the only person traveling the world (well, the Eastern Seaboard) with a jar of cocktail onions. Welcome to the club! On the bright side, I've never had them confiscated by Homeland Insecurity. . .

#9 ::: Delicious Pundit ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:43 PM:

Dude, you think that's hard, try looking for rye whiskey.

#10 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:44 PM:

Heh. Meanwhile, my peeve is the Martini bar, because, seriously, just serving it in that glass doesn't make the damned thing a martini.

Gin. Vermouth. An olive.

Putting vodka in that glass doesn't make it a vodka martini. It makes it a kangaroo. Even my mother knows that (but, then, she's a bartender, sometimes).

I once drank martinis in the Algonquin with my former English advisor. Still the best I've had (though the ones at the Hollywood Roosevelt run close).

#11 ::: Berry ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:55 PM:

As it happens I read this in the sports bar at LosCon, and I am pleased to report that the bar has onions. The waiter was surprised at the question, almost like, "Duh, we're a bar, dude, of COURSE we have onions!"

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:25 PM:

#9: Rye whiskey is the Official Drink of Making Light. Mine's a Rittenhouse. Jim is well aware of the travails of looking for it...

#13 ::: JulieB ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:27 PM:

That reminds me of a very old joke about being out of onions. I'm sure you've heard it, so I won't repeat.

You're welcome. ;-)

#14 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Martinis have gin, and vermouth. I think the vermouth ought to be measurable... a swirl and discard isn't it. I prefer something on the order of 3-4 to 1.

And yeah, I like a Manhattan. Old Overholt is damned hard to find.

#15 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:40 PM:

A bar without onions? Inconceivable!

Serge, I believe you meant to include Charles Dana on your list.

#16 ::: Kurt Montandon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:50 PM:

Friggin’ bar in the friggin’ lobby is called “The Martini Bar.” And you know what? No onions.

Why would a place called "The Martini Bar" have onions? If all they serve are actual martinis ... then they wouldn't need onions.

#17 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:58 PM:

Is that seeded or unseeded rye whiskey?

#18 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:08 AM:

Clearly it's due to a failure to live up to the Gibson image :)

(personally I stick with gin-and-tonic or scotch/whiskey, as being things that are generally[0] difficult to ruin)

[0] The general case not being the universal case, of course

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:14 AM:

Tania @ 15.. I had also forgotten Walter ("The Shadow knows!") Gibson.

#20 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:19 AM:

Will, #10: There are times when the names of drinks just boggle me, and this is one. Why on earth would vodka-and-vermouth be called a "kangaroo"?!

#21 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:43 AM:

My drink of choice is the Sidecar - last popular in 1950 or so. Every bar has the ingredients - but few know how to make it.

#22 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:53 AM:

Patrick: Have you tried Old Potrero 100 Percent Rye Whiskey?

The guy who makes Anchor Steam is a fan of rye whiskey and decided the world needed to have a brand which was like that on which the nation was built.

I know a place in SF which sells it, if you can't find it in New York.

#23 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:54 AM:

Along with the onion-free gibsons and tonic-free G&Ts I would list the cachaça-free caipirinhas I've been served. I'm not sure what the point is of serving a drink without the main distinguishing ingredient.

(Mind you, contrary to our hostess's characterization of cachaça a few years ago , I actually do like some cachaça enough to drink it straight, so I particularly miss it when its absent. On the other hand, the cachaça I would drink straight isn't the cachaça I would mix with limes and sugar.)

#24 ::: Deb Geisler ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:00 AM:

Please forgive me for temporarily damaging the Gibson-ness of the universe. It was 27 years ago, and I was tending bar. We ran out of cocktail onions on a Saturday night, mostly because of my penchant for eating them (they had almost no calories; I was on a diet; they were little salt bombs)...and my boss (a Gibson-drinker) and I finally made an agreement. He would pay me roughly $2.79 less a week, and I could keep on eating all the onions.

Imagine my glee in discovering, when I lived in Madrid some years later, that "cebollitas" were cocktail onions, only better, and could be purchased by the *kilo* (not the little jar) for all of 400 pesetas (then, less than $4).

#25 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:22 AM:

#22 Terry Karney: where in SF can you get Old Potrero? Inquiring San Franciscans want to know.

Re: Gibsons--that was my mother's out-to-dinner favorite drink: "Beefeater Gibson, two onions, please." Round home she drank bourbon, which doesn't work so well with an onion (or so she told me).

#26 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:26 AM:

I have a 50+ year old Gibson acoustic guitar that I inherited from my maternal grandfather.

#27 ::: John A ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:27 AM:

Ah, one of my favourite subjects!

I really enjoy a good martini - one of the best things about living in the States wsa being able to order them everywhere (airports even) and have people know what they were.

In NZ you have to pick your establishment, usually I'll just order a Gin and Tonic (as per xeger,#18) because it's harder to screw up.

Terry, #14 - oh noes. Martinis should be as dry as possible. I like the swirl and discard.

At home when I run out of Vermouth, I just keep shaking the bottle to get a drop or two out and that works well for a couple of weeks.

Winston Churchill, famously, was of the view that all that was needed was to pass the shadow of the Vermouth over the gin.

#28 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:30 AM:

A decent blend scotch and water, no ice. Thank you. Single malt after dinner. NO ICE. Thank you.

#29 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:37 AM:

I never got used to gin, as a former cow-orker of mine drank a kind of gin that smelled like someone had marinaded a pine tree car air freshener in it for a few weeks. Bleargh.

I don't force my preferences on other people either, though, since I like Southern Comfort, and sometimes Wild Turkey (not together, mind you).

#30 ::: phil ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:53 AM:

John A, #27. In NZ you have to pick your establishment, usually I'll just order a Gin and Tonic (as per xeger,#18) because it's harder to screw up.

It's easy to screw up. Just serve the RTD of the same name and appreciate how the insipidity is artfully masked by the added sugar.

#31 ::: Nick Fagerlund ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:55 AM:

Terry @ 14: Whoa, weird -- they must be sending it all to MN and WA, then. Old Overholt's the main whiskey I've been drinking for the last year, on account of it being super-cheap* and always on the shelves.
____
* $11 in MPLS.

#32 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:04 AM:

Madeline Robbins: Oddly enough, at an establishment, near Coit Tower, called "Potrero Liquors".

At least they had it in bottles the last time I stopped in there. about two years back.

#33 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:09 AM:

I'm not much of a drinker, partially because I've never known where to start, and it seems like the kind of thing one ought to do properly if one is going to do it.

So...

RTD?
As I understand it (and seems to be confirmed above), a (proper / real / traditional) martini is gin, vermouth and an olive, with the big dispute being the amount of vermouth. Correct so far?

Many people seem to use very small amounts of vermouth, such as the '2 drops' in the original post, ranging all the way down to the humorous ways of saying "none at all, really". How much vermouth is actually needed to make a martini detectably different from just gin with an olive in it?

Does the olive actually add enough to warrant a vermouth-less martini getting a name other than "gin"?


I've not much enjoyed the scotches I've tried, including some which were apparently moderately expensive and presumably well-respected. I do like rum, even cheap stuff. I like ouzo. I don't really like any of the beer or wine I've ever tried. I liked Southern Comfort the one time I tried it, but that was decades ago and the wench is dead. I currently live in Washington state where the liquor stores are state-run.

Anything in particular I should try? Any way to systematically explore the flavorspace?

#34 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:14 AM:

#22 Terry Karney: where in SF can you get Old Potrero? Inquiring San Franciscans want to know.

Beverages & More in Colma has it, or used to.

I got to try the Old Potrero Hotaling at Burning Man, and it was migh-tee-fine.

Their gin, Junipero, is also outstanding, and rumor has it that their genever gin (which I got to try an experimental batch of a few years ago) is about to ship.

#35 ::: phil ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:20 AM:

#33. RTD=Ready To Drink, i.e. pre-mixed in the bottle rather than actually ready to drink. If you don't have them in your country then George Bush is somehow doing something right. It didn't occur to me what else a gin-and-tonic could be until after I had bought a four-pack. Even the airlines don't do this.

#36 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:22 AM:

Nick: Then you have the main ingredient for Manhattans (Old Overholt, sweet vermouth, and a maraschino cherry).

I can find it, in shops, but rarely behind the counter.

#37 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:28 AM:

I like campari and soda best to drink, but I like little onions anytime.

#38 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:29 AM:

I've never really liked the taste of alcohol and now I have meds that don't mix with it. No problem now, I can usually get iced tea. But back when I was younger, people assumed you were rude if you didn't drink, so I'd have a G&T and nurse it all night. The gin reminded me of a cough syrup we used to get at the base pharmacy.

#39 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:37 AM:

Speaking of cough syrup, I suspect I should take the hint of this thread suddenly reading as 'The Varnishing Gibbon', and hie me off to bed.

#40 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:40 AM:

When I see a post titled "The Vanishing Gibson, I fondle my Martin and smile.

#41 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:56 AM:

When I want to look as though I'm drinking, I'll get a G&T, and then spend the rest of the night with plain lime and tonic.

Todd Larson: If you don't like it, there's no need to chase it. There are lots of good ouzos out there (and arrack and other anise based drinks). If you want to explore it, find drinks you like, and then try different makes of it.

From there, you can try to expand the list of things you like.

So, were I you, I'd start with rum.

#42 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:10 AM:

Marille, #38: back when I was younger, people assumed you were rude if you didn't drink

Sometimes they still do. And even when they don't, the assumption is that anyone not carrying a drink MUST be in dire need of one, and it will be forced on you willy-nilly. While I do note, and appreciate, the number and variety of dodges people have come up with to get around this sort of thing, I still wish it weren't necessary. The only cure for it I've ever found is simply to surround myself with people for whom drinking is NOT an integral part of socialization, and avoid other venues when at all possible.

#43 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:50 AM:

Todd @ 33:

If you want to start exploring whisk(e)y, you might want to avoid Scotch, at least at first. It is one thing to say Laphroaig is of the noblest of spirits, it is another thing for someone with little experience of Scotch to be able to tell. And the cheap stuff can be vile.

I would suggest exploring Irish whiskey, as the range of brands is smaller, but some new and interesting stuff is coming onto the market. I tend to stay away from Bushmills in general, but at the high end I hear good things about Michael Collins, while Green Spot and Redbreast are worth the trouble to find.

I would give similar advice on American whiskeys -- I share our host's regard for rye, but it is not for beginners.

In general, is there a type of spirits where the top varieties or brands do not tend to turn off the newcomer? Vodka, perhaps?

#44 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:52 AM:

My preference if I don't want to keep drinking, but don't want people asking annoying questions, is to start on good scotch (I normally drink it half-and-half with water) and then refill it with just the water.

When I used to drink almost neat single malt, the later iterations would be apple juice.

I once had someone get annoyed that I'd been on lemonade all evening - he spiked it with a double vodka while I was away from the table. That was my first introduction to the idea that there are people who can't taste it instantly.

#45 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:34 AM:

I'm usually the driver, and I actually like Coca Cola, so that's what I usually have when drinking out. I also know how to order a virgin strawberry margarita when in a Spanish speaking country.

When I'm not driving, and if I'm feeling 'sophisticated', I have a good scotch, usually on the rocks so it can dilute as I nurse* it through the evening. My foofy drink of choice is the Midori Sour. Fluorescent Green. Sweet. Fun.

Most of the booze in my house gets used for cooking.

Sam Kelly @ 44: Yeah, what is with people who can't taste vodka? I'm hard pressed to think of anything that masks the vodka flavor.

#46 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:41 AM:

PNH @12:
Rye whiskey is the Official Drink of Making Light.

OK, but us unofficial single malt drinkers have a nice wee corner over here, and we have all the best names*†.

Having said that, I have never tried rye whiskey, so perhaps I merely wallowing in ignorance‡ and calling it taste.

------
* much like the Devil with tunes
† at least until the Real Ale guys show up
‡ tasty, tasty ignorance

#47 ::: oldnumberseven ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:03 AM:

This reminds me of Robert Altman's M*A*S*H when Trapper John is introduced and he carries a jar of olives around with him. So, all you need are one of those big army coats and you can have the cocktail onions, a bottle opener, and many other drinking accouterments on your person at all times.

On occasion, you can still get rye from Jim Beam.

#48 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:44 AM:

Marilee, #38: just be glad people no longer assume you're rude if you don't smoke...

#49 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:04 AM:

I'll say this: I thought I didn't like Scotch whiskey, until I went to ConJose, where someone let me taste theirs -- I forget the brand or the amount of aging, I just remember it was a single malt. Never tried rye.

#50 ::: JDC ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:33 AM:

I'm sorry, a mere 2 drops of vermouth means it isn't a Gibson. It's a straight gin drink with trace impurities and an onion. Which is still pretty good but not a member of the Martini genus. And for those who like scotch and cheese, sometime try a paired tasting of an excellent stilton and a cask-strength whiskey (diluted with a few drops of water to lower the surface tension and increase the nose). Delicious.

#51 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:43 AM:

"Hey, bartender! Your TV is tuned to a dead channel!"

"So change it already, Gibson ... "


#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:54 AM:

Abi @ 46... until the Real Ale guys show up

...and then proceed to malt-iply.

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:59 AM:

Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
James Bond: Do I look like I give a damn?

#54 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:08 AM:

Re: avoiding alcohol.

Back in SERE School they taught it thus: During the course of surviving, evading, resisting, and escaping, on your way back to friendly lines, you may fall in with the Underground/Resistance/Rebels etc. Try to avoid this, but it may happen. When you are with them, the opportunity may arise for you to drink their booze or [bleep!] their women. In fact, both of these activities may be pressed on you in very strong terms.

Do not do either. Under no circumstances shall you drink or [bleep!].

Here is how to avoid those activities: Explain that doing so is against your religion. This is an explanation that everyone can understand and no one can disprove.

#55 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Sam Kelly @44:I once had someone get annoyed that I'd been on lemonade all evening - he spiked it with a double vodka while I was away from the table.

Wow, this is unspeakably rude. (Actually, depending on the ramifications, couldn't this be criminal?) Are you still friends with this person? I hope he apologized.


#56 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Being essentially forced to avoid alcohol[1], this entire thread has me confused. Why on earth would anyone imagine that dropping an *onion* into a drink would *improve* it? Obviously it affects the taste, or nobody would care if it was in there --- but if onionating a drink makes it better, what on earth did it taste like before? Battery acid? Why would anyone drink it?


[1] I'm so sensitive to it that a small glass of beer will have me semiconscious. God knows what more would do: kill me, probably. Some cookery with wine-based gravies has me tipsy if the gravy isn't heated for long enough to drive the alcohol off (although this is partly because wine-based gravy tastes so nice I tend to ladle a lot on).

#57 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:58 AM:

Old Overholt is damned hard to find. You would think so, but good old Marty's, next to the Whole Foods in Newton, not only carries Overholt, but several other brands I didn't even know exist ('Old Elijah' etc).

Lately I've been partial to Ireland's new export, Boru vodka. It's been a hard sell even in Boston, but seems finally to be finding its spot on the shelf at more places than not now.

#58 ::: Chris W ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:16 AM:

James @ 54 - This is a bit off on a tangent, but I'm sort of shocked that SERE tells people to avoid falling in with the local resistance. What's the logic of that?

(Of course, I'm mostly just prejudiced by my family history - my grandfather and several other members of his B-17 crew spent several months in Brittany in the spring of 1944, courtesy of the French Resistance. He's quite clear that he never would have survived, much less escaped back to England, if it weren't for their help.)

#59 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:21 AM:

Sam 44: I'm with John 55, except that I would say "Wow, did you hurt him?" I could not possibly remain friends with someone who did that to me even once, no matter how much he apologized.

But then part of the reason I don't drink is that mixing my meds with alcohol could be fatal. But even before that I would consider that a gross violation of my right to control my own body.

James 54: Unfortunately lying is against MY religion. But the things that would keep me out of SERE training are without number.

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Chris 58: Jim can tell if this is right, but the way I read his comment is that falling in with the local resistance is fine, but you have to refrain from drinking alcohol with them or frelling with them.

#61 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Xopher, if ever I have the honour to entertain you to dinner, I shall drink wine with and single malt afterwards (for it will be a special occasion), and you shall drink whatever the hell you please, whenever you please, and to the devil with anyone who thinks evil of either of us.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Xopher @ 60... Oui, oui. That's how I read it.

#63 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:40 AM:

Todd @33: I think you like the rum and ouzo for the same reason I dislike them: under the burn, they are sweet. Me, I like Irish coffee made with Tullamore Dew for a dinner chaser; and Talisker 10 year old scotch for a straight drink; but for social cocktail drinking it's vodka tonics. Most mid-price vodkas are ok. Stay away from the flavored crap and, even when offered a place to crash for the weekend DO NOT undertake domestic russian vodka or the undertaker may have to make an unfortunate appearance!

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:42 AM:

I'm not much of a drinker, because I can already easily nod off in the evening without any help by ethylic vapors.

#65 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Xopher @#59: Drinking their booze or bleeping their women would no doubt cause you harm--physical in the first place, possibly psychological in the second, and would expose you to danger in either case. I believe your religion prohibits you from harming anyone?

Hm, and even if you don't have the "harm none" clause in your law (I've met a few who totally skipped that bit, but you don't seem to be of their stripe) you can technically refuse to do anything you don't want to do, on religious grounds, because it's not what you will. So saying "sorry, eating that key lime pie is against my religion" would not be a lie.

(Although being all facetious with The Law is probably not wise for practitioners of any religion.)

#66 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Sam Kelly @#44: I know a recovering alcoholic who used to go the other way with that whiskey/apple juice switcharoo.

#67 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:56 AM:

You want to avoid falling in with the Resistance/Underground/Rebels because their interests are not yours. They can, for example, for reasons you will never find out, turn you in to the Bad Guys if it will give them a momentary advantage.

#68 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:04 AM:

at least until the Real Ale guys show up

By happy chance, The Independent has "The 50 Best Beers" in one of it's magazines today (not online as far as I can tell). This is happy as it will give me something to argue about all weekend, but also means I can say "Haviestoun Bitter and Twisted", "Bishops Finger"*, "Black Cullin" and (of course) "Old Peculier" without getting up from my seat.


* Known locally as Nun's Delight

#69 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:07 AM:

I'm usually a Guinness drinker. However, I occaisionaly "get my drink-on" with dirty martinis. The dirtier the better.
I like to experiment by trying different types of olives: garlic stuffed, almond stuffed, etc etc.. (blue cheese stuffed was actually the most awesome martini evar---only carried by one bar I went to).

If it's a bar I frequented but didn't necessarily carry the assortment of olives (or the blue cheese stuffed ones mmm) I'd bring them in and leave them with the bar tender.
If you're out on the town---carry them with you. Most bar tenders I've met are fairly accomodating to taste.

#70 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:25 AM:

Jameson's drinker myself.

I miss the midwest tradition of asking if you want a "snit" with that (a 5 oz. beer chaser).

#71 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:28 AM:

In my college days, when I hung around with people who drank alcohol* and hadn't learned how to refuse it gracefully, I discovered that a glass of orange juice can pass as a screwdriver. (I used to call it a 'Philips screwdriver.')

A few years later when I joined my friends at a bar, my Cokes** were free, because the bar assumed I was the designated driver. (I was, when we weren't walking.)

The only thing alcoholic I've ever liked*** was plum wine in a Japanese restaurant.

*everyone I knew drank alcohol
**my preferred drink
***by which I mean 'not instantly detested'

#72 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:28 AM:

I once had the opportunity to attend a departmental graduation party at Georgetown University. The department rented out a very swanky bar in Georgetown, and ran an open bar plus heavy hors d'oeuvres all night.

This is where I learned that the only gin I can drink is expensive gin. I had a gin and tonic that tasted like Christmas trees smell. Beautiful.

At someone's bachelorette party, a month later, I ordered a gin and tonic. They made it using whatever gin comes in large plastic bottles. It tasted like Pine-Sol.

I think people who can't handle others not drinking are extremely rude. I may be the only college student in the world who did not drink until it was legal for me to do so, which means that I spent a lot of time at parties drinking Coke. And even now there are plenty of times where I simply don't feel like drinking, or am the designated driver.

Speaking of DD: I really, really like the fact that among my friends, it is completely socially unacceptable to drive drunk. It is just Not Done. I was recently at a work party of my boyfriend's, and was shocked and upset to hear other people my age laughing about driving drunk, and insisting they could drive better drunk. I really thought that message had sunk in by now.

#73 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:30 AM:

I'm not a frequent drinker of strong spirits. and when I do, I want them mixed with something sweet and girly.

Bushmills isn't bad in strong coffee, especially with some Bailey's added. And the caffeine in the strong coffee is enough to counter the alcohol in the Bushmills and Baileys, leaving me more or less vertical, crosseyed, and prone to declaring my sloppy eternal love to people I just met.

This is why I'm not a frequent drinker of strong spirits.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:30 AM:

The placee: the Nielsen-Hayden kitchen. The time: evening.

"What's for dinner?"
"Funeral potatoes."
"Could I have a bier with that?"

#75 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:33 AM:

Xopher at 44 - this was at a university social, he wasn't a friend in the first place. Thankfully, because I'd have hated to think I'd been friends with someone who'd do that. I didn't hurt him - though hurting people wasn't against my religion then, I've never been fond of it. But a bit of explanation about what would have happened if I'd mentioned it to a few other people, and he never pulled that trick on anyone else.

Mm, real ale. I'll normally take that in preference to single malt, at least early in the evening. This is my local's current drinks menu, and that's one of the reasons it's my local.

#76 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:47 AM:

Rum and grapefruit juice* is the best of mixed drinks (there are many people who hold that rum and milk is better, but these are heretics).


*Appleton Rum and Trout Hall grapefruit juice, to be precise.

#77 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:48 AM:

I didn't like Scotch until I tried Lagavulin. I bought a bottle not long thereafter, which has lasted me for years. It's delicious--no, make that scrumptious--but I can't have more than one without dulling the taste. Did I mention that it's scrumptious?

The Sunday after the 2004 election, I was in a bar on Mission in San Fran and in one bad goddam mood from recent events. Normally when I'm bummed, I get all Chandleresque and drink gimlets, but I also wanted to get that tequila upper going, so I explained my dilemma to the bartender (a real sweetheart), who made me a tequila gimlet. I had several drinks that night, but the tequila gimlet was the only one I repeated. I've never had another one that didn't taste like, as Rickey would put it, ass.

#78 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:53 AM:

Dave 61: Honi soit qui mal e pense. And thank you. If I ever have the honor of entertaining YOU for dinner, I will endeavor to have wine and single malt on hand—though I will not partake of them myself.

Mary 65: Deceiving people with words that are technically true is...well, against my religion in the sense that only the direst necessity allows it. More than my own safety would have to be on the line. I think it's actually worse than outright lying, because it erodes not only your belief in your own word, but the integrity of your thought; not only fools the person you're talking to, but fools you, yourself, causing minute destruction of your ability to think clearly.

That said, it IS true that it's not my True Will to drink or frell the women (or, for different reasons, the men). I don't know how I'd handle that, but I rely on my deep self to find solutions, and words to express them, in real time.

BTW, I do have the An It Harm None clause in my religion, but I've come to view it as almost redundant, since "do as thou wilt" does NOT mean "do whatever you feel like doing."

#79 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:54 AM:

abi #46: Single malts are excellent. I was expecting, given your new domicile, that you'd be speaking up for oude genever.

#80 ::: Dennis Howard ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Mary Aileen at 71 - I believe that a proper Philips screwdriver is made with vodka and Milk of Magnesia.

#81 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:10 AM:

I like a nice Irish stout like Kilkenny or Guinness. Can anyone here identify what flavor they have in common and what would be a drink with similar taste? Stout is sadly difficult to find here in Asia. We mostly have lager, and the dark lager I prefer isn't common either. Thank God for San Miguel's Cerveza Negra!

My friend mixed Johnny Walker and Bailey's on a recent night out, and it was surprisingly not bad, once you got over the weirdness of it.

Getting pretty curious about that rye whiskey.

#82 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Being awake again, I'm now wondering what you'd put in a drink called 'the varnishing baboon'. I'm thinking the varnish would have to come from gin - not sure about the baboon, since I keep on coming up with moonshine as the only thing I'm aware the Savannah produces. There'd have to be a few drips of something, whether that's for sweat or the invariable drops and runs somewhere on what you're varnishing...

#83 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Dennis Howard at #80: I suggest that what Mary Aileen describes is an Allen Key. It's functionally much like a Screwdriver, but without the edge.

#84 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:22 AM:

BTW

I'm curious about Earl Cooley III's (@29) former cow-orker.

What precisely is involved in orking a cow? Do I really want to know?

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Xopher @ 78... Actually it's Honi soit qui mal y pense, but I am very impressed, even though you have on countless occasions shown your knowledge of French. (Did you ever get to use those phrases I provided you with for your trip to Montreal?)

#86 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:32 AM:

JDC@50: since when does adding water to whisky (57-60% water already) reduce the surface tension -- especially considering the balance is ethanol, whose surface tension is much lower?

I will try almost anything offered by someone I know enough to trust, and sometimes otherwise if I can get \just/ a taste, but my preferences follow my male (i.e., British) ancestry: real ale (or similar) and single-malt by themselves, red wine with dinner, port afterwards. My mother's family (originally Zwingli) might be appalled that I'm bored by most lager -- if I ever showed up at a reunion.

#87 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Nix @56:
Why on earth would anyone imagine that dropping an *onion* into a drink would *improve* it?

Why an olive in the first place? Cocktail onions don't taste much like a standard yellow onion (more like a mild pearl onion), and are a nice contrast to the vermouth. I much prefer a Gibson to a martini (probably because I don't really like olives). It *changes* the taste, and sometimes change is good.

#88 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:57 AM:

My tastes in alcohol and ave changed markedly over the years, for no reasons that I can discover. In my twenties I loved gin and tonic, probably because it was the drink my parents liked and I learned to drink it early. For many years I liked good beer, pale ales preferably, and I still do, though I drink way less of it than I used to. I used to drink single malt scotch; The Macallan was my favorite. Not any more. My taste for it has gone. I have unaccountably developed a taste for dessert wines: cream sherry, port. I can't drink more than half a glass of those.

#89 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Lizzie L @ 88... I have unaccountably developed a taste for dessert wines: cream sherry, port.

Even though I'm not much of a drinker, I rather like Plum Loco, a dessert wine made here in the desert. Then again, you must be warned that I have no taste - except where friendships are concerned.

#90 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:04 PM:

Mary Aileen at 71 - A Philips screwdriver is milk of magnesium and vodka. Ick.

#91 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:08 PM:

I drink very little and have never really gotten in to Manly Mixed Drinks (or even UNmanly, for that matter, though I did have something quite nice involving Malibu in OC one summer). If I'm going to have something quite strong it'll be a smidgen of Islay or island malt (for some reason I've never been able to abide that Speyside stuff).

#92 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:16 PM:

I like my alcohol to taste less like alcohol. I usually drink a nice yeasty wheat beer (Spotted Cow, Crop Circle Wheat) which is easy when you live in Wisconsin. I als like a semi-sweet white wine like a Riesling.

When it comes to hard liquor, I don't care for three of the big standards: vodka, gin, or whiskey. I do like tequilla and brandy (brandy being another Wisconsin tradition) and I'm quite fond of a number of sweet liqueurs like amaretto and Frangelico. Sadly, most of the sweet liqueur drinks also involve adding vodka, which I dislike.

My standard evening out drink usually requires giving the bartender instructions, since everyone these days seems to think an Alexander is an ice cream drink: 1 part Brandy (or Amaretto), 1 part creme de cacao, and 1 part heavy cream shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass.

#93 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:16 PM:

Chip, I know nothing of surface tension, but it is a Truth Universally Acknowledged (which of course does not mean it is True) among fans of the single malts that a tiny splash of water, less than it would take to dilute in any perceptible way, makes the drinking experience better. I resisted this idea for years ("put water in it? Heathen!") before trying it, and immediately agreeing that, yeah, it's better somehow.

#94 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:23 PM:

In the browser-based MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing, a Gibson served in a coconut is a Neuromancer.

#95 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:26 PM:

From Luis Bunuel's 1983 autobiography, "My Last Sigh":

"To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of a martini. To be frank, given the primordial role played in my life by the dry martini, I really think I ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative powers of the Holy Ghost pierced the virgin’s hymen 'like a ray of sunlight through a window–-leaving it unbroken.'

"Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won’t melt, since nothing’s worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients–-glasses, gin, and shaker – in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Shake it, then pour it out, leaving only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, shake it again, and serve.

"(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)"

I have friends who drink a martini as a social cocktail, and it's fine for that, but I have to concur with Bunuel's observation about the martini's utility for provoking and sustaining a reverie. To reach that state, I prefer to drink mine either in a quiet, civilized bar as evening falls and the lights of a city flicker into life outside, or during those cold winter nights when the forest around my house is silent and thick with snow, and the stars and the moon in the sharp, frigid air seem close enough to touch.

A couple of decades ago I was with an uncle, Bill, motoring up the Taku River in Alaska, heading toward his hunting cabin near the border with British Columbia. Suddenly he swerved the boat in a sharp arc and cut the throttle, then reached with both arms over the gunwale and pulled in a very large piece of ice.

"What's that for?" I asked.

"For the martinis," Bill replied.

And that evening, sitting snug in the cabin, with the eerie silence of the rain forest broken only by the low rumble of a distant glacier calving, the cocktails were darn fine, indeed.

#96 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Dennis (80)/Paul (90): Good thing none of my college classmates knew that!

Sam Kelly (83): Allen Key, I like that.

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Serge 85: Oops. Shoulda Googled that before putting it in. And no, haven't been to Montreal yet, since you gave me phrases.

#98 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:52 PM:

I'm afraid that, these days, in this company I'd be classed as a Heathen Apostate.

I do not drink much these years (perhaps from seeing the wreckage it can bring to families), but I used to like very good whiskeys (rye and scotch) but would Drink Many Things I Shouldn't.

When I do drink nowadays I'm fairly pedestrian for the most part - a good ale or stout, hard ciders, some fruit wines (except I still have a weakness for Liebfraumilch (which goes well with the same kinds of foods as the ciders), and whiskey sours (which I think is classed as a "Girly Drink" by some)

But I do have a real weakness for Sabra. (the drink, not the prickly pear [or the person [or Marvel superhero ] ] )

An Israeli liquor distilled from Jaffa oranges and mixed with bittersweet chocolate. In my younger days I was classified as a Nicely Evil Man by a lady friend because I would offer it to her when she came to visit.

#99 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Xopher @ 97... Let me know if you need a refresher course. As for what you hope to attain with those phrases, tout vient à point à qui sait attendre.

#100 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Jim @ 67

Makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I'd probably be going on the assumption that it would be intended.

Oh yeah, last nicht in the Ice Cream Sociable, there was a guy makign it in two minutes. He had a bottle of LN2 which was carefully added to teh cream while it was being stirred. Wooden spoon, freezeproof bowl. I didn't try it - the texture looked very odd, more like cottage cheese - but those who did said it was good.

#101 ::: Dennis Howard ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:14 PM:

Mary Aileen at 96 - the Philips Screwdriver joke has been around for at least as long as there have been bars in consuites, but I couldn't resist posting it here.

#102 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Craig R.

Sabra sounds amazing! I have a friend who regularly visits Isreal. I'll have to ask him about it.

#103 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Does bringing your own onions to a bar count as hacking the Gibson?

#104 ::: Pirate ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:11 PM:

Hey, Fluorospherians. First time poster, husband of Lexica who's been reading over her shoulder for some time.

As a bartender, it breaks my heart how often "martini" has come to mean "chilled vodka served up" (i.e. in a cocktail glass). Forget asking for onions, I almost "SQUEEEEEE" out loud when a patron asks for a gin martini these days.

Personally, I recommend Plymouth gin for mixed cocktails. It has less of a BAM! JUNIPER! bouquet, and I find it plays well with others. The London Dry gins I find to be a bit overly assertive mixed with anything other than tonic.

And since cocktail olives are the Devil's snack-food, a Gibson is a sublime libation for its simplicity and civilized bearing.

Some people stir theirs because they want that crystal-clear drink. I shake mine till I can't bear to hold the shaker anymore because I want it COLD! I want the tiny chunkies of ice floating on the surface. When I sip it, I want my lips to freeze and taste like I've kissed Ymir's daughter. Who, um... happened to have a small briney olive in her mouth.

And Lexica prompts me to say that while I don't do much poetry... I do filk. You have been warned.

#105 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Pirate @ #104, one of our family traditions at Christmas was to gift my father with a big fat bottle of Tanqueray gin (another was a 1-lb box of See's soft centers, but I don't recall him mixing the two). I'm not sure where that fits on your scale, but he liked it.

#106 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Nathan @ 84 -- Earl Cooley's having a cow-orker probably means he was a denizen of one of several Usenet groups in the early/mid 90s; alt.folklore.urban is where I remember it best from, but I bet it was also common in alt.religion.kibology and probably talk.bizarre at least.

#107 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:00 PM:

Definitely on t.b, and I'm not sure but I don't remember it on a.f.k.

#108 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Lee @20: Man, I've no idea. A quick Google adds the variation "kangaroo kicker," so maybe it's something Australia? No clue.

And yeah, many drink names don't make sense (screaming orgasm springs to mind), but there are a couple I find both wonderful and perfectly descript. A slow comfortable screw, for instance, is sloe gin, southern comfort, vodka, and orange juice. I've heard this taken to extreme: a long, slow, comfortable screw up against a cold, hard wall, finished with a kiss. As nearly as I can figure, this includes a taller glass, some ice, some amaretto, and some galliano.

Todd @33: I've heard lots of stories about the amounts of vermouth "purists" like in their martinis. There's a story that Winston Churchill (?) used to pour the gin, then leave the room and jostle a bottle of vermouth in another. One of my favorite television moments ever was when Bill Murray appeared on Kilborn's Late Show. When Kilborn left The Daily Show, he brought his "5 questions" bit with him, and one of his questions to Murray was how to make a perfect martini.

Murray stood up and went to Kilborn's minibar, took out a bottle of gin, and poured some into a tumbler, then noted people argue about how much vermouth to put in a martini. Some, he said, like to put a drop of vermouth into the air conditioning system, allowing it to permeate their drink molecule by molecule via diffusion.

His solution was simple, he said, and with that he bent toward the tumbler and whispered, "Vermouth."

He got the question right. But that's probably because he's Bill Murray.

Pirate @104: Your "BAM! JUNIPER!" made my roommate ask me what was so funny. It's like onomatopoeia from the old Batman show, and wouldn't that be awesome?

On the beers: I've discovered I really like a brew called Samichlaus Bier. The bottles have this thing about how rare it is, and they only brew it once a year, or something, but really, it's just good. A little sweet, but certainly heady (though without much head at all). It's wonderful. That and Chimay. God, I love me a Chimay. I went to Father's Office in Santa Monica once, the burgers of which earn their reputation as solid best in the country, and that burger with a nice bottle of Terrible was one of the single greatest gustatory experiences I've ever had.

Now I'm hungry.

#109 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:04 PM:

#98 ::: Craig R. Sabra. Mmm! Yes, it's like drinking bitter-chocolate covered orange peel. There's a pleasant coffee version also.

For single malts: 18-year-old Glenlivet. Talisker. Dalwhinnie. Talisker was my real introduction to whiskey. Sip. Swallow. Oh! as this amazing taste sensation explodes over your palate.

For beginners, I'd suggest Oban or Dalwhinney - both quite smooth. Don't try Laphroaig (very seaweedy) or Ardbeg (iodine) to start with!

#86 ::: CHip "Cask strength" whiskeys are more than 100 proof (the one I got as a 40th birthday present is 53.6% alcohol), and a drop of pure spring water is generally recommended to release the flavour. With "normal" single malts, I prefer them neat, sipped slowly.

Several years ago my now-husband introduced me to real ales (or what I've learned to call micro-brewery beers, when in the USA). I'd never liked "beer" (for which read "lager" but these were a revelation. It took me two years to work up from golden ales and honey ales to stouts and porters, but now I really enjoy the full range and variety, including the Belgian Kriek and Framboise. Some of the UK beer festivals have started offering third-of-a-pint as well as full or half pint. This is great, since it allows me to try more different beers for the same volume/alcohol intake.

In our house we've got a wide variety of single malts, liquers, real ales, ports, wines, ciders (hard ciders, for you over the pond) and others. I've also got more than 60 different flavours of teas and fruit/herbal infusions. They are all different flavours to be savoured and appreciated.

#110 ::: Pirate ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Linkmeister @ 105

Tanqueray is a London Dry. Quite tasty, but I do prefer it in a G&T.

I did some fill-in bartending at Liquorhemoth Diageo's weekly corporate happy hour @ their SF office and got a chance to try Tanqueray Rangpur. Now THAT'S something worth sampling. The rangpur lime puts a nice spin on the juniper. Another one I think mixes well.

Will @ 108

"ZOWIE!", that's some juniper. Mmmm... juniper!

#111 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:17 PM:

When I was an undergrad, there was one night where a friend showed up with another bottle of vodka after we'd polished off all the OJ making Screwdrivers. We did, however, have a jar of Tang lying around. The end products were christened the NASA Screwdriver and Rocket Fuel - Rocket Fuel being Tang powder mixed directly into the vodka.

The evening was... special.

#112 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Pirate @ 104: When I lived in San Francisco years ago, there was a small bar in the Haight called the Persian Aub Zam Zam Room that served wonderful martinis. Visitors quickly learned to make sure they ordered a gin martini--anything else, and they were usually asked to leave by the bartender, Bruno, who as the owner also had the enviable luxury of being able to choose who he would serve. (I suppose he's lucky to have passed away before the rise of the chocolatini and such.)

Personally, I'm very fond of the aroma of juniper. It's a fairly common ornamental shrub in the 'burbs of California, and is fairly common, too, in parts of the Sierra. So, to me, the berry evokes home. I haven't developed much of a taste yet for gins that have additional flavorings, which seem superfluous if one includes vermouth in the martini's recipe.

If you like Plymouth gin, check out Miller's, which is likewise quite smooth. I'm also a fan of Cascade Mountain gin, from the Bendistillery in Bend, OR. It's a bit sharper than some gins, and has something of an off-putting color, but I like its craft aspect and that it's made from wild juniper berries picked in central Oregon.

#113 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Sam Kelly, #44: Yeah, I've gotten a lot of "Oh, try this, you can't even TASTE the alcohol," over the years. And guess what? Maybe HE* can't, because he's used to alcohol in stronger mixes -- but to someone like me, who doesn't drink at all because they hate the taste, it's, "ICK! YUCK! Get that stuff away from me!" Usually it doesn't even pass the sniff test; if I can smell the alcohol, I know bloody damn well I'll be able to taste it.

John Chu, #55: The notion that spiking someone else's food or drink is rude is actually of relatively recent vintage; my SWAG is that it's an outgrowth of heightened awareness of food allergies. And there are still significant cultural groups in which it's either considered a terrific joke and/or routinely used against women for the purpose of rendering them incapable of objecting to sex.

Personally, I agree with you; spiking someone's drink is on much the same level as serving someone a dish containing an ingredient they've already said they don't want, without telling them what's in it. Either is cause for me to end an acquaintance, abruptly and with extreme prejudice... and I'll by ghod tell everyone else I know why I'm no longer on terms with that person.

* Almost all the people I've had pull this on me have been male. Now why, I wonder, would a guy be trying so hard to get me to drink? [/sarcasm]

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:57 PM:

Welcome, Pirate. Arrr.

#115 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:06 PM:

Nathan #84, Todd Larason #106: Cow-orker is Dilbert slang for coworker.

#116 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:14 PM:

I like my martinis after the style of the late Queen Mother. she liked hers after the style of Winston Churchill.

2 parts gin.
Take vermouth bottle and bow in direction of Paris.
curl of lemon peel.
Repeat.

But last night, it was the margheritas of victory! The Liberals getting various body parts handed to them by the eleectorate was very nice indeed. The prospect of the Prime Miniature ACTUALLY LOSING HIS SEAT as well (this has only happened once before) is sweet beyond the telling of it.

#117 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:33 PM:

I like my drinks more sweet than alcoholic. Late-harvest rieslings, Lindemann's Framboise Lambic, and a tall glass of grapefruit juice with a shot each of mango vodka and chambord are my drinks of choice in the wine, beer, and mixed drink categories. Blended mudslides with godiva and chambord are also good, as are those damn orange creamsicle things from Friday's.

If it could possibly be considered an acquired taste, I probably haven't acquired it.

#118 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Between short budget and moderate habits, I usually keep one relatively small bottle of whiskey and one of "sweet stuff" in the closet, and have a bit of one or the other most nights. I experiment with different brands, of course....

The "sweet stuff" is usually some liqueur, but lately I've been trying various brandies, which have not turned out good as I hoped. (Paul Maison V.S., eh, Captain Applejack apple brandy, arghh! ;-) )

The whiskey has been going better -- I just finished off the bottle of Old Overholt I'd been drinking for the last month or two, (before that was Bulleit bourbon). Both were nice enough, butwhen I went looking for a new tipple, I found a 375 of The Glenlivet! (Yay!) I'll try that "splash of water" thing, so far I've been sipping it neat....

#119 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:42 PM:

dcb @ 109, I went in the other direction with beers. Thought that I hated all beer (because I can't choke down mass-market American lagers) until I tried my first stout. It's taken me years to work my way down from dark to light -- from stouts, through porters, brown ales, red ales, and finally down to wheat beers. Still can't do most lagers, and I still prefer beers you can't see through.

I think it goes along with my distinct preference for big red wines.

My favorite pub around here has a 50-beer list, all of which are microbrews or imports -- and they offer beer tasting flights, where you get 4 quarter-pint glasses of 4 different beers. The glasses look like mini-pint-glasses and I like to pretend I am a giant. Fantastic for trying new things.

They also have a top-quality hamburger, and the world's most delicious garlic french fries. Nothing better in winter than a good thick stout and a good burger and fries. (In summer I get a pear and goat cheese salad and a Unibroue Ephemere, for the great green-apple flavor.)

#120 ::: Steve Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:21 PM:

Myself, I like sissy drinks.

When I was in the SCA, I would sometimes visit a bar with my Baroness. Short, slender, sophisticated, and One Tough Broad. I'd ask for, say, a brandy Alexander. In her cigarette-roughened contralto, she'd order a double whisky (Laphroaig if they had it), up. Nine times out of ten, the waitress would give us each other's drinks.

It was a sorrow to her that I never developed a taste for proper whisky, but only a small sorrow, because that left more for her.

A few years ago I was at a convention in Dublin, sampled a few local potions to be polite, and found that I like Irish whiskey well enough to drink a bit of it. I don't know what the Scots and the Irish are doing differently, other than the spelling.

#121 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:25 PM:

#22, Terry: Unlike those of you unfortunate enough not to live in Brooklyn, we have LeNell's. Here's their "whisk(e)y" page.

#46, Abi: Good Scotch gets more than a "wee corner" around here. I'm fond of Islay malts (Lagavulin is my favorite); Teresa prefers the high-noted Speysides like Glenmorangie. Somewhere on a hard drive I have a picture of Teresa dipping her hand into the Spey.

#122 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:26 PM:

I don't do tequila, most gins, southern comfort, Ratzputz and Cynar. Blended whiskies are problematic. Most are, IMO, a ruination of the good stuff. Making them is a rare art, and most blends were made by hacks.

Vodka, I've had lots, the good, the bad, the ugly. The good, not bad. The ugly, not bad. The vast middle, why bother?

Single malt. My first was Laphroig... ah! It changed how I looked at spirits. Complex, rich, overwhelming and subtle. I'm not a big McCallan fan. The younger stuff (less than 18) tastes of butyl rubber to me. The older stuff is pricier than I want to spend.

I like Bombay Sapphire (the addition of Grains of Paradise; which is the only difference, changes it radically). Mallaca is pretty good. Plymouth and Hendricks have their place. I used to freeze my gin, and use no ice in my martinis, but the small amount of water added by chilling it with the ice, opens the gin up, the same way a "wee drap" of water does for whisky (which tasters test at about 40 proof, to get all the flavors; free of the masking notes of the alcohol. I don't use that much).

I was hooked to martinis about 20 years ago when a friend induced me to taste hers (which had a decent taste of vermouth) and it tasted as perfume smells.

I'm not a big fan of really sweet mixed drinks (the Manhattan being the big exception. As I said somewhere else, I can buy Old Overholt, but in a bar it's a rare thing, and nothing else tastes quite the same. Nathan knew what he was doing), and at home it's usually wine, or ales.

What taste will replicate an Irish stout? Nothing. I'm told some who try to fake it add a small amount of anise to the mash. This has never made it for me. Speaking with a british brewer I was told the secret to making a decent Irish Stout is to akalinize the water, because the Liffy drains a huge amount of limestone.

#123 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:32 PM:

#111: While I was an undergrad at the University of Chicago, I ended up hanging out with a lot of linguistics grad students. Linguistics was a notoriously heavy-drinking department; the official drink of the department "teas" was claimed to be 'Leering Death': Kool-aid powder mixed with vodka.

#124 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:41 PM:

I am about to head for a grocery store to get a bottle of cocktail onions. I can't stand it any more.

(BTW, last night what I had was a gin martini up with a twist, then two dirty martinis, the which I introduced to Doyle. She liked it, adding another Drink She Likes to the list. (Her first beverage last night was a Cosmopolitan, which they had no trouble making because they had all the ingredients. Grumble.))

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:53 PM:

I want some tranya. And a bottle of segir.

#126 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:01 PM:

In this thread, I've counted at least three different versions of how Winston Churchill prepared martinis, none of them the story I heard (that he would pour the gin, glance at a bottle of vermouth on the other side of the room, and stir).

So I wonder: are all these stories apocryphal? Is one accurate, and the rest false? Or did he do something different every time?

#127 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:07 PM:

And I still don't understand why people who evidently don't want vermouth in their drink insist on calling it a 'martini' rather than 'gin' or 'gin with an olive' or something which actually means 'gin with an olive'.

#128 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:14 PM:

I don't like gin, the first time someone made me 'oh my ghod he makes the best gin and tonic!' beverage I took a sip, then passed. When I was five I tried my mom's perfume. The similarity made my stomach flip.

I did not think I liked scotch, my father favored Grants and Dewars and they taste like iodine to me. Then Jim and Star and a couple other guilty parties introduced me to the single malt, upper end ones like Laphroaig(sp bad I'm sure). I like the Orkney ones best, and am saved from perdition because they're all expensive.

#129 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:41 PM:

I've never been a big fan of gin, but I do like home-made sloe gin - savoured all the more for the effort of making it.

David Goldfarb @ 49, Terry Karney @ 122, Paula Helm Murray @ 128: It's amazing how many of us have had our attitudes to whisky changed by an introduction to decent single malts... Earlier this year I introduced an acquaintance, who said she didn't like beer (by which she meant lager) first to micro-brewery beer (we were in Wisconsin, so there were some nice ones) then (after she'd said in surprise "oh, that tastes quite nice!") to single malt (I'd bought some in duty-free on the way over from the UK). Now she's spoilt. I'm a bad woman.

Caroline @ 119 - I still don't like largers. I want my beer with decent taste!

#130 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Speaking of drops: The abbreviation for "drop" is GTT. For "Drops," it's GTTs.

And there are 15 GTTs per Ml. Thus, a drop is 0.07 mL, and two drops is 0.13 mL. Of Vermouth.

#131 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Ghh. Alky. Never cared for it. Give me half a gallon of Coca-Cola any day. The only exceptions being a good, sweet wine: plum wine, berry wines, or Hungarian Tokaji (which I'd die for.)

Tried rum once. We live in the Caribbean, so I figured I should try it. My God, I see why it's used in mixed drinks. Rum and Coke, hold the rum -- that stuff is nasty. The only exception I've found is the Puerto Rican equivalent of egg nog, coquito. It's made of ... what is it made of? Vanilla, evaporated milk, and ... something else, cinammon optional IIRC, plus rum to taste. That, I like the rum in. Or not. (It's tasty enough without.)

Now what was that other thing? Eh, not that it matters -- all the ingredients will be on the store shelves together in a month, after all. Ha. (And not that it matters anyway, this year: carbohydrates, sigh.)

#132 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Terry Karney @ 122 -- I've only ever tried a middling Scotch, but putting it over an ice cube did open it up and take away the excessive alcohol burn.

Paula Helm Murray @ 128 -- I've had that experience with every gin and tonic except the one I mentioned upthread. I wish I knew what gin they had used that night at F. Scott's.

You're all tempting me to Demon Rum, by the way. Or, more precisely, Demon Peppermint Schnapps In Hot Cocoa and Demon Ginger Brandy On The Rocks.

Currently I'm drinking Duck Rabbit Milk Stout. Duck Rabbit: "We specialize in beautiful, delicious, full flavored dark beers. When we brew, we’re happy and we dance. During fermentation, we sing softly to the yeast."

#133 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:08 PM:

Broundy @126: I'd venture he made and drank many martinis in his time, so maybe they're all true?

Regardless, they're fun at parties.

The comments section has actually reminded me of Eddie Izzard-esque jokes, i.e., "I like my martinis like I like my women-- stirred, not shaken, with a twist of lime." (in best Sean Connery voice, of course)

"I like my screaming orgasms like I like my women," on the other hand, either probably doesn't require a punchline or is its own. I can't figure out which.

#134 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Todd @ 127

I might be able to shed some light on the reasons for calling a vermouthless martini a martini: people used to assume that a woman who drank neat gin (olive or no) was a Lady of Negotiable Virtue, or was at the least a dipso.

We just wanted to sip our Bombay Sapphire without aspersions being cast on our characters, and we offer undeserved apologies for your offended sensibilities.

#135 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:23 PM:

shadowsong (117): If it could possibly be considered an acquired taste, I probably haven't acquired it.

You've just summed up my tastes in one sentence. I am so stealing that.

#136 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Ah ha, that makes some sense; thanks, vian. No apologies necessary -- I was confused, not offended.

#137 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Will Entrekin @ 133, "I like my screaming orgasms like I like my women" is a sentence that should have been punctuated with a full stop after the fifth word, to make it most generally applicable.

#138 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Single malts, like Paula, I am saved from only because the ones I like are all expensive enough that I don't buy them often or at all (most expensive bottle in my apartment right now is a bottle of Johnny Walker Gold label that was a gift the last time my parents came by). Same goes for tequilas - I like tequila quite a lot, but only expensive ones.

I don't drink often, any more (probably more this week than in most months in the last year - I've been sick), although I usually have a fairly well-stocked liquor cabinet. When I do drink, it's usually lighter (colored) beers (ambers and reds) mixed drinks like fuzzy navels (orange juice and Peachtree schnapps - Yum!), Rum & Cokes, or coffee-based drinks, usually Irish Coffee (long on the Bailey's, and short - often very short - on the Bushmill's), but also mixed with Chambord, or a chocolate creme liqueur I found that I like, or Kajmir. (I'd love to try Lakka - Finnish cloudberry liquor - but can't find any here).

Which reminds me that it's just about time for the semi-yearly restock run for the liquor cabinet - what Chambord is left needs to be drunk and replaced.

#139 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:36 PM:

(I'm recalling the associate of Teresa's and mine, in the far distant past, to whom another friend once said "It's an acquired taste, so I thought you'd like it.")

#140 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:50 PM:

Whisky and a little water, except with a single malt which must be sampled neat. I'm frankly appalled by this fixation on putting vegetables in drinks. It's just...wrong.

I did once have a whisky sour in Wisconsin which made me smile for hours afterwards, and apart from one at the American Bar at the Savoy, which was close but no cigar, I've never been able to repeat the experience.

#141 ::: Pirate ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:08 PM:

Xopher @ 115
Back at ya!

Steve Jackson (a.k.a. He Whose Games Rocked My Adolescent Years So Thoroughly) @ 120

The main difference between Scotch whisky & Irish whiskey is in the roasting of the malted barley. The Irish use no peat in the kilns, and use a combination of malted & unmalted barley that gives it a lighter flavor than the brands of it Island and "Mainland" whiskys.

The barrel aging that each type of spirit goes through is very influential on how its qualities develop.

#142 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:32 PM:

One of these days, I've got to try a drink I designed but never made: the Teletubby Train Wreck. It's a layered drink, with two variants, one with liqueurs and the other with schnapps, based on the iconic colors of the four Teletubbies, with a cherry on the side. The train wreck happens when you plop the cherry into the drink, mixing the layers together.

#143 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:32 PM:

dcb at 129: Same here, except more so - single malt got me back onto alcohol. I'd not drunk anything but student-bar beer up till then, and I disliked that enough that I spent two years entirely teetotal - but then a housemate gave me a wee dram of (as I recall) Glenmorangie, and I never looked back.

Caroline at 132: The Duck Rabbit sounds delightful. The most memorable stout I've had recently is Marcus Aurelius, from the Milton Brewery - though it still pales beside Belhaven 90/-. Sweet, dark, and strong as the Queen of Sheba.

Going on a google to refresh my memory of single malt names, I found this - the clustering looks useful, and it's given me some ideas for more to try. Damn them.

Normally I'll go straight for the Js ("Full-Bodied, Dry, Pungent, Peaty and Medicinal, with Spicy, Feinty Notes") but I have to dissent from the received wisdom of the Islayites here and say I prefer Caol Ila to either Laphroaig or Lagavulin. It's a bit lighter, with a little more sea in it, rather than the peat-and-iodine aromatic chainsaw that's Lagavulin.

#144 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:40 PM:

Michael, #131: Coquito recipe. This one doesn't have raw eggs and requires no cooking. It does sound as though the rum is used to decrease the viscosity, though, so you might want to substitute something else; my first approximation would probably be 2% milk. Or perhaps black tea -- that would make a lovely chai!

Mary Aileen, #135: I closely resemble that remark as well, with a couple of exceptions. The first time I tried bubble tea, I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not. The second time (at a different place, which used a different tea base), I was hooked. I think that sort of counts as an acquired taste.

#146 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:01 PM:

Great thread!

A perfect martini should be as dry as a desert and as potent as U-235. It should be chilled to almost the point of crystallization (imo). And it should always be made with top-flight gin, Boodles or Plymouth.

#147 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:07 PM:

# 122 TK-

I concur on the Hendricks and Millers. Hendricks is smoother and more cucumbery, while Millers is more herbal.

Also, Old Portrero is worth trying. It's the my favorite rye so far.
---

Starting single malt scotch drinkers with funds should consider Glenmorangie 18 or port wood finish, and move on to more complex malts, gaining an appreciation for peat or smoke complexities.

#148 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:19 PM:

I have often found that holding a glass of ginger ale at a cocktail party will cause people to ask, in a name-that-cocktail kind of way, what I'm drinking.

So if for some reason one wants to appear to be drinking alcohol, one could probably carry ginger ale around and say it was . . . whisky and soda, I guess?

People keep telling me beer is an acquired taste, to which I reply, but why would I want to acquire it?

(These days alcohol is one of a sadly long list of things that I shouldn't have, because of acid reflux. I do miss wine, hard cider, and Bailey's (especially in hot chocolate or egg nog. Mmmm.).)

#149 ::: Darice Moore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:30 PM:

It's so, so hard to read a thread like this in the ninth month of pregnancy. Sweet torment. I have made my husband swear to bring Guinness to L&D, rather than champagne, for toasting after the baby arrives. I deeply, deeply miss Guinness.

It's heartening to see so many gin drinkers! I love a real martini, although I admit to liking a splash of vermouth. (Best martini I ever had was in the King Cole Bar, staring at the Maxfield Parrish mural, which is one long and beautifully fart joke. The martini was no joke though.) One reason I like martinis is that I can sip one for a long time, which spaces out the alcohol consumption. And now the talk of cocktail onions makes me want to try a Gibson. There's always January...

Like Terry @ #122, I'm fond of Bombay Sapphire. I also like Hendrick's, but not in a martini; I make G&Ts with it, and spike it with a slice of cucumber instead of lime.

#150 ::: Darice Moore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:31 PM:

er. That's beautifully rendered fart joke. Which will teach me to mention fart jokes in polite company.

#151 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:30 PM:

I have to say the lambics and Belgian abbey beers put a cramp in my tastebuds. However Liefmans Goudenband and Frambozenbier are very very nice (and way too expensive for more than the occasional treat) though the latter, it appears, has gone to conventional caps in lieu of the former champagne-style corks.

Perhaps in June we shall make blueberry cordial again. It is amazing stuff: unlike other fruit cordials it tastes almost nothing like an alcoholic version of the fruit, but is instead transformed into something unearthly (and extremely good).

#152 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:35 PM:

I've generally not liked the taste of any alcoholic beverages, with the sometime exception of very strong hot cocoa spiked with liqueur-- for the cocoa, start by mashing together about 1 tablespoon each of cocoa powder, sugar, and cold milk into a moist paste, dilute with very hot milk to taste (for me, generally about a pint), add a piece of baking chocolate, and stir until uniformly mixed. I think I've tried this with a range of various chocolate-compatible things such as Grand Marnier, Kahlua, creme de menthe, etc. (one flavor at a time, please). However, I haven't done that for years because of medication conflicts.

Oh, and sake (you know, the two-syllable rice beer). Good sake doesn't taste like anything at all. It feels like you're drinking only water. Until you try to stand up.

I do wonder sometimes about Dendarii "maple mead"; what with the usual cost of maple syrup, I imagine that an intrepid brewing fan really would have to live in maple-tapping territory to have affordable access to enough syrup for multiple fermentation experiments.

#153 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:42 PM:

oldnumberseven @ 47:

So, all you need are one of those big army coats and you can have the cocktail onions, a bottle opener, and many other drinking accouterments on your person at all times.

Okay, now I'm picturing the Doctor as a bartender. "Those onions are in here somewhere..." (Hmm, what would go into a sonic screwdriver? Vodka and a lot of aspirin?)

PNH @121:

Teresa prefers the high-noted Speysides like Glenmorangie.

Okay, now I'm picturing the Doctor as a bartender, with Queen's "One Year of Love" playing in the background.

#154 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:55 PM:

mds @153: Hmm, what would go into a sonic screwdriver? Vodka and a lot of aspirin?

There's a US fast-food chain by the name of "Sonic Drive-In". While I've never actually been there, online info seems to indicate that they specialize in a number of modified "limeades" with cherry, strawberry, or cranberry as secondary flavors, where the "limeade" base consists of commercial colorless lemon-lime soda (Sprite, Slice etc.) with some fresh lime juice squeezed in. With the further addition of vodka, this actually sounds like a plausibly palatable modification of a screwdriver, but otoh it might also qualify as a vodka-based lime rickey instead.

Or perhaps the beverage should contain a hedgehog.

#155 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:03 AM:

I really don't drink much anymore, but I used to like Lagavulin single malt the best, and things like Frangelico and Barenjaeger.

#156 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:09 AM:

I've always preferred dry, clean gins, my favorite for mixing being Bombay silver. Can't abide vodka. Although I'll occasionally drink a martini, if I have something in my gin it likely won't be vermouth.

My tastes seem to be changing, however. Of late, I've been tending toward the more botanically-enhanced gins, to mix with tonic or drink very cold and neat. Bombay sapphire is nice, as is Tanqueray 10. After having decided I really liked Tanqueray Malacca, I was disappointed that it's no longer available in the US, but from what I've read I may just need to wait a bit longer for genever to be imported (again). This afternoon I bought my first bottle of Hendrick's, but have yet to try it. We're having our first cold, wet weather of the season today, so I'm into the Cognac tonight.

#157 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:18 AM:

BTW, Keith @ #3, Sprite??!!? Oh, the horror! That's akin to Sonic Drive-In's version of the limeade, which is in itself an abomination to any right-thinking man/woman/person.

mds @ #153, a Sonic(TM) screwdriver would be vodka and orange sodey, while a sonic screwdriver would be, I guess, equal parts of vodka, orange juice, and hedgehog liqueur.

#158 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:19 AM:

I tried Lagavulin once at a con party and am sad to say it did not take. I took an experimental sip, spluttered, got the world's most absurd facial expression, and said "(beat) It tastes like bandages!"

I do like scotch; just not the peaty kind.

My standard, though, is a gin & tonic. Tanqueray is all right for home drinking. I have never had the misfortune of encountering a bartender who thought Sprite was okay, but I can't imagine encountering one in Portland -- bartenders tend to know their stuff, as it's a very competitive industry there. Even in a hole-in-the-wall they'll generally have some quality stuff.

As for beer, Dogfish Head makes some mighty good stuff. Midas Touch is my favorite of theirs. On the hoppier side, Lagunitas -- of California -- has some great seasonal selections all of which are named by in-joke. I think the current one is Kill Ugly Radio, a Frank Zappa commemorative.

In my current location the alcohol selection is wine (mostly red), beer (mostly light lager), brandy, and baijiu (its own thing entirely.)

mds, above: Oh, dear. I'm going to have to fic that.

#159 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:20 AM:

Looks like Julie L & I are thinking along the same lines.

#160 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:10 AM:

Jim Macdonald: Terribly sorry about that. I don't have a favorite drink, but I can see how sad it would be to find one and then lose it.

#33 Todd Larason: I don't think there's a systematic way to explore. Drinks are like potions, in that every thing you add changes the whole instantly and in strange ways. For instance: vodka is very very different from vodka with an olive. (Can't say about gin, since it strikes me very poorly every time I try it). Pepsi can not substitute for Coke. Starbucks Coffee liqueur can not substitute for Kahlua.

If you like Ouzo, you may like Sambuca, which is another anise-y drink which I believe is sweeter and generally served alone and very cold. One time I ordered it and got a tiny little glass with some coffee beans floating on the top of the liquor, which was nice, though it didn't strike me as necessary.

The best way to explore is to go out with friends and sample their drinks. Three friends and three drinks apiece = 12 things to try in one evening. And I think very few people really have a depth of knowledge about mixed drinks or alcohol in general... If you find a couple things you like and then praise them to the skies you can pass fine in almost any group.

You could also swing by BevMo: they have racks and racks of tiny little bottles of all sorts of stuff.

#153 mds: Brilliant! There should totally be a drink called the sonic screwdriver.

#161 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:25 AM:

Sam Kelly #143: "feinty notes"?! That sounds like a really pretentious way to describe a flavor.

#162 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:27 AM:

Madeleine F, above: Yes -- the tiniest things can alter a drink. That's why bartending is an art. Motion and order can affect the end result, as well as content.

Alton Brown's bartending episode had a great bit about chemistry and why shaken and stirred are different.

Namely, shaking your drink with ice kills some of the volatiles. If you like the volatiles, you want it stirred; if you don't, you want it shaken. This alters the character of vermouth considerably, among other things.

#163 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:01 AM:

The Macallan. The eighteen, for preference. If not that, any Isla malt.

#164 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:19 AM:

Oh, there are so many wonderful-sounding drinks described here. Lately I've been experimenting a little with brewing mead and enjoying that quite a bit - what I've ended up with so far tastes exactly like honey except that it's barely sweet at all - all the floral scents are still there, but the overpowering sweetness has been replaced with a mild flavor of alcohol so that all the other flavors come through.

#165 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:03 AM:

I spent about a year once in the mid-'90s trying various varieties and brands of beer; microbrews, you name it. It was at a microbrew-tasting festival in Berkeley, that I had a revelation: the only beers I was really liking were the ones sweetened with fruit juice. I concluded from this that I don't like beer. Nowadays when I drink hard drinks (which isn't very often) it's wine or cider.

Touching the sonic screwdriver, I googled and found this recipe, called a Vodka Sonic. Add some orange juice, and there you are.

#166 ::: Spike ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 06:47 AM:

165 posts and only one mention of cider? As a recent denizen of the West Country I am appalled. There is nothing better than a few pints of a good farmhouse cider. If you have to buy it from a shop, Weston's Old Rosie is a good place to start.

A word of warning, however. If you go to a pub selling Old Rosie, don't try to keep up with the beer drinkers. This can, especially if you are me, get embarrassing remarkably quickly.

#167 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:26 AM:

Spike @ 166... 165 posts and only one mention of cider?

I guess your post makes you the Decider.

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:00 AM:

About beer... I once saw an X-men cartoon done by John Byrne that had Nightcrawler telling Cyclops: "He only said he wanted some of the real stuff." In the background, you see Wolverine running away, past a sign that points toward Canada.

#169 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:16 AM:

Earl Cooley III @#161 :

Sam Kelly #143: "feinty notes"?! That sounds like a really pretentious way to describe a flavor.

Maybe it means the notes are elusive. Like a running back.

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:17 AM:

(cont'd from 168)

Mind you, I'm not a beer connaisseur and there may not be such a difference between the two countries. That was in 1981, long ago, and the quench is mead.

#171 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:47 AM:

Canada used to have better beer than the US. Since then the US has acquired some beers that are truly excellent, like Sam Adams. Alas, I had to give up beer shortly thereafter.

#172 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Lee (144): My tastes have changed somewhat over the years, in both directions, but that's not quite the same thing.

Kate Nepveu (148): People keep telling me beer is an acquired taste, to which I reply, but why would I want to acquire it?

And once again, someone describes me perfectly.

#173 ::: Matthew Lerner ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:52 AM:

On acquiring tastes:
For me, every new taste is a wonder and a pleasure. If I have to briefly experience a largish number of mildly unpleasant things in order to find the one thing that gives me great pleasure, that is a small price to pay.

This leads to me trying a great number of wines that all taste like various strengths of spoiled grape juice. And I don't even like UNSPOILED grape juice. but I'll keep trying, in the hopes that one day I will find one I really like. It worked for avacado and olives, and some day maybe it'll work for wine and beer as well.

#174 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Serge: the US beer scene has changed dramatically since the advent of the microbrew, in the nineties.

One of the Bridgeport brewery guys did a really convivial demo in the grocery store, replete with bits of history about the company: they were apparently responsible for the legal case that launched the first permitted Oregon microbrewery, and many followed thereafter...

#175 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:17 AM:

Just to compare with the other commenters, I'm pretty much gin-negative. Vodka and white rum are mixers, but I was recently exposed to some interesting dark/spiced rum, so I may explore that soon.

I like darker beers -- draft Guinness is the Reified Ideal, but I like many micro-brews and (when I was hanging with brewers) home-brews.

I have in my fridge a 12-year-old bottle of homebrew blueberry mead, from a brewer back in Massachussets. At some point, I expect I'll find out whether it's aged or spoiled. ;-)

The brewer, "Bacchus", was quite a character -- pagan, brewer, railfan, jester, and generally a pretty cool dude. Unfortunately, when last I saw him (over 10 years ago) he was having financial trouble, and he'd (also) been lured into an MLM scam. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the guy.

#176 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Alcohol ... and the parties at Loscon last night. One had something which would get you a 'lab rat' ribbon: wheat vodka with infused chili, served in very small containers. Call it habanero vodka. It was - interesting. (The kick was not the alcohol, or mostly not.) Montreal had ice wine, ice cider, beer - this year Fin du Monde, if I understood Robbie correctly - and ginger beer.

#177 ::: Ben M ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:39 AM:

dbc@129: I've never found a US source for sloes---neither in stores nor in hedgerows nor in shrub catalogs---although I am told that the bushes have naturalized over here.

The Basques and Navarrese make "patxaran", sloes steeped in anisette instead of gin. Very good stuff.

#178 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:51 AM:

dcb: Go CAMRA! Some lagers can be OK; Czech certainly, or possibly Dutch or German. When I lived in the Netherlands, I was remarkably fond of Grolsch - God forbid I be made to drink any of the horses' [REDACTED] brewed 'under license' in Burton. Often my work drinks are at crap chain pubs; I am pleased to note that even there they will often have Staropramen or Budvar on tap - yay for Eastern European Immigration I say!

I generally have to visit the company site in Belgium a few times a year; sampling the local brews is always a delight.

And Joy! In burning the last of my annual leave, I have managed to herd cats and get a group of mates together for a Fuller's brewery tour in a week or two.

#179 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:58 AM:

#152 ::: Julie L. wrote:
Oh, and sake (you know, the two-syllable rice beer). Good sake doesn't taste like anything at all. It feels like you're drinking only water. Until you try to stand up.

Yow. Er. I'd generally say that sake is wine, not beer (among other things, it's a rare beer that makes it up to 12-15% alcohol) ... and - well - I'd have to say that you've been drinking bad sake if it doesn't taste like anything at all. Sake has a pretty impressive range of flavours, both hot and cold, and I'm hard pressed to think of it as being even -vaguely- as flavourless as vodka.

#180 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:28 PM:

coffeedryad @ 164
Brewing your own mead? Sound wonderful (I have four meads among our alcohol collection). I recently picked up a Polish mead. Tried three, found one to be too sweet, one much to thin, but the third was just right!

Spike @ 166 I've about a dozen ciders waiting to be tried. I used to be a cider drinker. I still like the stuff on occasion (and perry), but nowadays I find myself tending to drink beers at beer festivals, rather than ciders & perrys. I do sometimes have one to start, before moving on to the beers. A few years back I drank a perry that was like bottled sunshine, on a glorious summer day.

Jakob @ 178 Yes, we have joint CAMRA membership. Some of the European mainland lagers are okay, but I'll take a real ale any day. When I said that I still don't like "lager" I mean the "usual suspects" - Heineken, Carling etc.

We're thinking of doing a train trip round Belgium one of these days, stopping at all the best brewery outlets (using CAMRA's Belgian Beer Guide to plan the trip, of course).

Kate Nepveu @148 / Mary Aileen @ 172: People keep telling me beer is an acquired taste, to which I reply, but why would I want to acquire it? Well, if you do acquire the taste you can discover a whole new wide world of flavours to enjoy.

Ben M @177 if you ever do find some sloes, I can give you a good sloe gin recipe. I'll look out for the "patxaran".


#181 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:32 PM:

#179: I'd generally say that sake is wine, not beer

From my (limited) knowledge of sake manufacture, the process is more like beer making, with the additional step of a mold fermentation in addition to the yeast fermentation. In terms of drinking, though, it's definitely more like wine.

#182 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:50 PM:

Yeah, and I've had to teach bartenders all over the US how to make a gin rickey. Which is simple and refreshing and ought to be way more popular. (Tall glass, ice, shot of gin, juice of half a lime, fill with club soda.) Don't get me started on martinis with no gin. Sheesh, kids today, I tell ya.

MKK

#183 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:54 PM:

xeger, it's glossed as "rice wine" so people will understand its alcohol content, but 'beer' is the generic term for anything fermented (and not distilled) from grain, so sake is technically beer. (Wine is from fruit, mead is from honey, and if you start combining things they have exotic names like 'metheglin' and 'malomel', but I can't remember which ones are which.)

#184 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:17 PM:

As far as mixed drinks go, I'm a total frou-frou drinker - my favorite is chambard and cream over three rocks with as many maraschino cherries as I can talk out of the person serving them.

There are some difficulties with this, though. On one occasion, in Texas, I was served chambard with Creamora - little dull grey pearls dancing in the garnet liquor. I explained to the server that Creamora was not cream and sent him off to expatiate his sin. He came back with a shot glass of chambard and a 1/2 pint carton of 2%.

I explained that 2% is also not cream, and said that I'd go order it at the bar (not the server's fault, I thought by this point). The bartender said that he had half-and-half, not cream - no one ever wanted cream. Slowly, we are climbing the dairy ladder. By this time I'm feeling like Ahab with my very own great white. I pointed out that this was a large modern hotel with several bars and kitchens - perhaps he could ask? He allowed as how he could, and some five minutes later, the shot glass turned up again, accompanied by a small flagon of cream (yes, I can tell the difference).

The other time, well, let's just say the server on duty couldn't find the chambard and came back with a great tumbler of sloe gin and cream, under the theory that sloe gin was also pink. I drank the damn thing (I was not at my best at that point), and as we were leaving (or in my case, weaving) he ran up to announce that he'd found the chambard and would I like the chambard and cream now?

#185 ::: Sam Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Pity I'm late to the rye discussion. I feel your pain in finding it, though it seems that the spirit's popularity is growing among certain hipster-types. Thus rye-carrying bars are either those that have had a bottle on the shelf since the mid-seventies, or ridiculously trendy places.

Ironically, last summer I found Rittenhouse 100 easily available in Utah liquor stores. I can't find the stuff in Pennsylvania...

#186 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:31 PM:

For the people upthread who like Irish coffee, and few don't, here's my one mixed-drink invention: the Black Irish. *

1/3 Kahlua,
2/3 Irish whiskey **
served over the rocks

Very tasty, but strong.

[*] It's a Black Russian with Irish instead of vodka, so what else could it be?
[**] Jamesons or BUshmills, not the really good stuff which would be wasted because the Kahlua drowns out the subtler flavors.

#187 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:46 PM:

Xopher @ 183 ...
xeger, it's glossed as "rice wine" so people will understand its alcohol content, but 'beer' is the generic term for anything fermented (and not distilled) from grain, so sake is technically beer. (Wine is from fruit, mead is from honey, and if you start combining things they have exotic names like 'metheglin' and 'malomel', but I can't remember which ones are which.)

Neat! I think I can chalk up my "one thing learned" for the day, now :)

Metheglin always reminds me of Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series, although I can't remember if she spelled it with an i or a y (nor what it was made of there).

#188 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:47 PM:

I don't and can't drink so instead I commit blasphemy like putting Glenfiddich in butter tarts.
But with this thread I am learning new things that may be useful for my nefarious plans later.

#189 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Rittenhouse rye seems to have patchy distribution, possibly because it's a $14 bottle of whiskey that's as good as any number of spirits that sell for $40 to $50. Right now it seems to be out of stock all over NYC, but we've seen these periods come and go before. (LeNell's has the 21-year-old, but that's $150.)

I never much cared for rum until I was Guest of Honor at an Ad Astra in Toronto and they gave me a bottle of "Havana Select" official Cuban government export rum. Holy crap, that was good stuff. And it resembles the usual Bacardi junk about like Lagavulin resembles Old Smuggler.

#190 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Clifton Royston #186: And here, I thought that was my invention (except I used Tia Maria rather than Kahlua).

#191 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:07 PM:

Richard Andersen @ 112: "When I lived in San Francisco years ago, there was a small bar in the Haight called the Persian Aub Zam Zam Room that served wonderful martinis."

It's still there. After Bruno passed on, one of the old regulars bought the place from his estate. Cleaned the nicotine and tar off the walls, and turned it into a non-smoking place, but otherwise it's mostly the same. The new owner isn't a martini fascist, but he knows his customers. You can still get a wonderful martini there.

#192 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:13 PM:

Kate Nepveu @148 / Mary Aileen @ 172: People keep telling me beer is an acquired taste, to which I reply, but why would I want to acquire it?

I was told that too, but I haven't found it to be true. I was told it about American lagers, which I still hate. I didn't have to acquire a taste for stouts -- I liked draft Guinness from my very first sip. It was rich and thick and dark, like chocolate cake, and completely lacked that bitter edge that always made me want to spit beer out. (I've since found even richer, smoother stouts -- Murphy's, or Young's Double Chocolate.)

I still don't see any reason to acquire a taste for the beer I was told was an acquired taste. (I've almost never found that I actually acquire tastes. A couple of times my tastes changed -- in childhood I hated artichoke hearts and mushrooms, and now I love them -- but there was no intermediate period of acquiring the taste. I didn't eat them, and then one day I tried them just out of curiosity and found that I liked them. Things that this has not worked for include bleu cheese and olives.)

It's worth trying a few of the very different styles of beer out there. Really, Guinness is not the same drink as Bud. At all. And the reason it's worth a try is that you may find something delicious and lovely.

#193 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Terry, Nick, John -- I've been a fan of Old Overholt since my Seattle days. I think this thread has doubled the number of Old Overholt drinkers I know of (not counting people we've evangelized).

As to why it's not more popular: I blame Warner Bros. cartoons.

#194 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:28 PM:

#98 - I just finished the Sabra I got at the Tel Aviv duty-free in 2004. $10 US, the only real bargain in the whole store. Funny thing was, the next week I was in the LCBO (Ontario liquor monopoly) and didn't they have a pallet-load of it. At four times the price, though.

#165 and preceding - A Robertson screwdiver is vodka and marmelade.

#176 - one thing Montreal should do is publicize Unibroue beers - Fin Du Monde is nice, Blanche de Chamblis is very Belgian in style (I had my first in Chamblis.) St. Ambroise is not Unibroue, but also very nice Quebec local beer. Brewed in Montreal, available as far away as Gatineau, but never (as far as I know) on my side of the river in Ottawa.

#188 - it's never blasphemy to use the a reasonable grade where the flavour counts. My father used to use Cardhu in stew.

I did a bad thing the other week; made an impulse purchase in the malts section - Glen Breton, the only North American pot still whisky. It's a nice light lowlands-style malt, very pleasant if a touch pricey. Lagavulin is my regular - although the last bottle(*) was opened to celebrate buying the house and finished 15 years later celebrating the new roof. (*) Before the current one.

I recently discovered 40 Creek rye, which is winning all kinds of prizes.

#195 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:29 PM:

Guinness is good for you, but please please please— my fellow Americans— if you must drink bottled Guinness, then drink the half-liter bottles of the Original/Extra Stout and not the cheap-ass bottles of Guinness Draught made in Canada and carbonated with the widget. Compare and contrast. You'll thank me later for pointing this out now.

#196 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:30 PM:

"As to why it's not more popular: I blame Warner Bros. cartoons."

Er, further amplification required, por favor.

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Henry Troup @ 194... Fin Du Monde? I wonder if that name was someone's idea of a joke about the ultimate bier, if not the ultimate beer.

#198 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Rye, particularly Old Overholt, in our youth was Vaquero's signature drink. Gads, he used to swig the stuff on stage. Our then local, the Ear Inn, kept bottles of the stuff because of him -- nobody in NYC drank it, the owner said.

Though Vaquero's faithful still to many of his youthful practices (or indulgences, or errors, depending on one's pov), whiskey and hard liquor have long been given up. Beer, however (and coffee) endure.

#199 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Serge @ 197: Several of Unibroue's beers have names like that: La Fin du Monde, Maudite, Don de Dieu... When my wife graduated from divinity school we made sure to have plenty of those at the party.

-David

#200 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:22 PM:

#196: As I recall, any time the cartoons showed a character falling-down drunk or drinking rotgut (before They started cleaning up the cartoons for Saturday morning) they'd be clutching a bottle labeled 'Old Overcoat'. I think Teresa's got a point; that would have been my first gut-level association to seeing 'Old Overholt'.

#201 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:26 PM:

David 199: I think the name 'Unibroue' itself is a silly pun.

#202 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:33 PM:

Clifton @ #200, Ah. Another hole in my cultural memory exposed. Thanks.

#203 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:57 PM:

xeger @179: Other people have already beat me to the grain-vs-fruit definition of beer-vs-wine that I'd had in mind; wrt sake in particular, quite possibly the reason why I think of the flavorless type as the "good" stuff is *because* it didn't taste like anything, regardless of normal criteria. However, iirc when I've tried vodka, it did have some sort of objectionable taste (possibly just Too Much Ethanol?) which I don't recall encountering in sake.

None of which explains why I made a gallon or so of Meyer-lemon limoncello several years back; some of the bottles have been gifted out since then, but there're still several more of them collecting dust in the pantry. Perhaps I should simply start to think of it as lemon extract; otoh, now that I think about it, I don't even remember whether I tasted it at some point.

#204 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 05:05 PM:

I used to think that vindaloo was "wine of the toilet". I imagined it would be popular in European prisons.

#205 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 05:16 PM:

Julie @ 203 ... If I wasn't clear (and probably wasn't ;) ) I was thinking of the way some folk say vodka has no taste either... (although good, ice cold vodka with caviar, toast, hard boiled eggs and raw onions... very smooth, and very dangerous. Mmmm though! I'm getting hungry thinking about it!)

#206 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 05:36 PM:

#161: As far as I can tell, 'feinty' means 'tastes like whisky'.

"[T]his group is the most difficult to describe, yet feints give whisky its essential character. They start coming in halfway through the spirit run, beginning as pleasant biscuity, toasted scents, then build through tobacco-like and honeyed to sweaty."

Then the maturation process changes them all over again.

#207 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Caroline @ #192: I've had Guinness, thanks, in Europe even, and I was including it under "beer."

#208 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:21 PM:

all: yes, I know the various suggestions for water in whisky, ranging from diluting cask-strength to standard (which seems to me to lose the point of cs, but I've been told by a British foodie that cs was more of a fad anyway) out to 50:50 (and let's not talk about the fanatics who carry flasks of water from the same source as the mash for the whisky). I challenged "surface tension" as someone who spent far too much time with it, a long time ago.

Kate@148: gin-and-ginger used to be a perfectly plausible drink; I drank weak ones at college cast parties because I liked the taste.

julie@152: I've had a variety of Canadian maple ]mead[; didn't think much of it. Note that it comes from an area with lots of trees and a few very poor people; Bujold may even have planned it to be the equivalent of whisky before serious aging became popular.

AJ@174: microbrews became significant in the 80's. (IIRC, Anchor was earlier but isolated.)

#209 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Xopher @ 201... I think the name 'Unibroue' itself is a silly pun.

To say the least. Maybe they were thinking of Frieda Kahlo?

#210 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:42 PM:

Serge 209: Or Lon Chaney, Jr.

#211 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Margaret @ #184: A "great tumbler" of sloe gin & cream? When you were expecting Chambord?!? I can see how you mightn't have been your best, although perhaps you were at your most tolerant! I guess some of Pepto-Bismol's "fruit cream" flavors for their tablets might approximate that taste, but you should be lauded for having the guts to drink it down.

Patrick @ #189: Bacardi doesn't make rum, although they do seem to have a couple of products that consist of grain alkyhol with artificial rum flavoring.

Xeger @ #205: ". . . good, ice cold vodka with caviar, toast, hard boiled eggs and raw onions... very smooth, and very dangerous." I'm assuming that passes through a blender before it's put into the glass. Dangerous indeed!

An update from last night. The Hendrick's gin is delightful indeed. Although, like a previous poster, I can't bring myself to put a veggie into gin & tonic; I'm still using a twist of lime.

#212 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Lee @144 -- pfft, duh. Coconut milk, which is why it's called coquito. What a maroon!

PNH - sigh. Maybe it's time to look more seriously into getting the essential oils I need to brew up some OpenCola. It's the carbonation that scares me. And the fact that the essential oils can dissolve skin and plastic. And that caffeine is toxic when pure (but oxygen when dilute.) And add all that together with the fact that my wife can barely tolerate my bringing the stuff into the house when we don't closely examine the assumptions inherent in slamming my pancreas every five minutes all day long.

Sigh. "Now I have guilt!"

#213 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:08 PM:

LMB MacAlister @ 211...

No, that'd be "vodka, straight, accompanied by..." - but now I'm wondering how they'd all taste blended together. I think I'd be very tempted to add heavy cream, and make it a raw egg, rather than hard boiled. The question of who to talk into drinking that with me remains :)

#214 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:09 PM:

BTW: Bacardi rum is the Puerto Rican remnant of a Cuban company, popular on the north side of the island where (I'm told) they don't know any better. Patrick, your Cuban export was probably made at the old Bacardi facilities, now nationalized.

Down here in the south, we have Don Q, which is rum. Or so I'm told -- it tastes nasty whatever it is, plus the fermenting sugar smells like hell all over that side of town. Or did. As everybody predicted, now that we've lived here two years, we can't smell it any more, or rather, can only catch a faint whiff of it now and then when the wind is right. We'd ask people, what the hell is that smell? And with nearly no exception, they'd all say, what smell? I kid you not.

Our son famously said of the smell, "They are unvisible cows. And so it smells everywhere like unvisible cows."

#215 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:52 PM:

So.* I was in a Buffalo airport hotel a couple weeks ago. We ordered two Manhattans, up. (A distressing number of places think the default for Martinis and Manhattans is "on the rocks." The bartender asked "whiskey?" (I guess we were close enough to Wisconsin for a brandy Manhattan to be "normal".)

"Rye, if you have it; else Bourbon."

No rye of course. She ignores the "bourbon" and starts to pour Canadian whiskey into an Old Fashioned glass. No sign of ice or a shaker. Our jaws drop, visibly enough she actually notices. "Did you want that shaken with ice?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Well, you should have said so."

She puts ice in a shaker, pours the whiskey back out of the glasses into the shaker and starts looking around for a strainer.

"Uh, vermouth, too?" At this point I don't even hope for bitters.

She, offended: "Well of course. I've been a bartender for 20 years."

(She never found the strainer, but surprisingly managed to do a reasonable job with a makeshift Boston shaker rig.)

* Yes, I just read the Seamus Haney _Beowulf_ translation.

#216 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:18 AM:

I've had difficulty explaining to people that it's not the taste of alcohol I have a problem with, it's getting drunk that I don't like. The usual response is to recommend something sweet, like lambic, which does not solve my problem. Fortunately, my taste tends to run towards the high-grade stuff, so I can't afford to get smashed - for example, Patron tequila, which I didn't know until my BIL was cleaning out his liquor cabinet. I made sangrita and it was delicious. I have also concocted a sunrise of some kind with orange juice, lemon juice, tequila, and li hing powder.

#217 ::: Pirate ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:29 AM:

Rich M @ 215

She, offended: "Well of course. I've been a bartender for 20 years."

Well... She's been pouring drinks for a living for that long. There's a difference.

Actually, what she is is a particularly shitty flavor of bartender. I've seen plumbers whose van and workshirt attested to their status as such. They just sucked at their jobs. Same principle.

And for the record, I fucking hate terms like "bar chef". I hate it because someone tried to come up with a term other than "bartender" to describe those of us who take our trade and craft seriously, as opposed to those who just know how to pour a shot and empty an ashtray behind the mahogany.

There are authors who take their craft seriously and hacks phoning it in while getting screwed over by Publish America. And the ones who take their craft seriously would most likely puke if someone, on their behalf, tried to describe them as a "literature chef, as opposed to those insipid little authors".

Because we've all seen how many crappy "authors" there are out there. Gotta come up with a term for the "serious ones".

FUCK THAT! There are good bartenders and shitty ones. I do sometimes use the Gary Regan term "cocktailian bartender", to describe someone like myself who loves, studies and professionally mixes cocktails. But I resolutely refuse to surrender the label to the lowest common denominator.

"The average bartender, despite the slanders of professional moralists, is a man of self-respect and self-possession; a man who excels at a difficult art and is well aware of it; a man who shrinks from ruffianism as he does from uncleanliness; in short, a gentleman...

"The bartender is one of the most dignified, law abiding, and ascetic of men. He is girt about by a rigid code of professional ethics; his work demands a clear head and a steady hand; he must have sound and fluent conversation; he cannot be drunken or dirty; the slightest dubiousness is quick to exile him to the police force, journalism, the oyster boats, or some other Siberia of the broken."
-H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun, May 11, 1911
(She never found the strainer, but surprisingly managed to do a reasonable job with a makeshift Boston shaker rig.)

Personally, I never use a strainer because it's just one more thing to clutter up my workspace. but I've got somewhat large hands, so I can shake a bevvy in a Boston-style shaker, crack it open, and pour out the side, all with one hand. Scores a few cool points over my compatriots who strain or two-hand the crack-&-pour.

#218 ::: chris. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:32 AM:

I don't have anything to add to the delightful alcohol discussion, having grown up in Pennsylvania -- a state that's made it so tedious to acquire alcohol that it just wasn't worth the effort for me for the most part. On the other hand, having grown up in Pennsylvania, i would like to humbly point out to the inestimable Mr. Macdonald that Williamsport is not at all in western Pennsylvania. It is, actually, in Central Pennsylvania, being rather in the middle portion of the state.

#219 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:01 AM:

A.J. Luxton: Bridgeport makes one of (if not, IMO the) best IPAs in the US. I regret that the last meal I had in DC was in a swell little Irish Pub on what passes for Chinatown. As I was leaving I saw the taps in the place next door... Bridgeport IPA on draught.

Xeger: Sake gets called wine because of the alcohol content. It’s method of making is that of beer. I like sake, though the first time I was near it I was repulsed; it smelled of kerosene. I have to disagree with your comment to Julie L, Sake tastes of many things.

j h woodyhatt: I have, and while I like the Extra Stout, it is far more bitter than the can/bottle draught, and I drink them for different reasons. I find the widget containers you disdain to be much more like the draught I had in Ireland.

I forget who mentioned the Glenmorangie Port Wood... for me, enh. It tastes medicinal. I think, however, the madiera finish is wonderful, but I have a hard time finding it.

Caol Ila is loverly. I have a small flask of the cask strength. I also like Talkisker (which those who like Islays might wish to essay).

#220 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:19 AM:

I recall ordering a whisky neat. The guy behind the bar put some ice in a shaker and then put the whisky in with it.

I (at all of 21) asked what he was doing. He said he was chilling it.

I told him that if I'd wanted it cold, I've have ordered on the rocks.

#221 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Xeger @ #213: Good luck. Your hardy co-experimenter would not be me.

#222 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:32 AM:

Rich McAllister @215 So.* * Yes, I just read the Seamus Haney _Beowulf_ translation.

Isn't it marvellous? What a difference a poet makes.

Mind you, I really like the theory that HWAET! is actually the sound of the scop wiping a great wave of beer foam off his beard, having drunk deeply from any and all flagons in the area, as one would when confronted with having to recite Beowulf AGAIN. Bit hard to translate into an actual word, though, so 'so' isn't too bad.

So, anyone seen the movie?

#223 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:02 AM:

The Original/Extra Stout variety is available in aluminum cans with the widget— if you're that kind perv. I don't like aluminum cans, myself, but if I had to choose between Draught in the bottle and Original/Extra Stout in the can, I go with the latter. The Draught tastes watered down to me. YMMV.

Guinness has gotten to be nearly ubiquitous at this point. It's great when I'm traveling, and I find myself in some gawdforsaken hole where they still make beer with corn and rice, because sometimes some buyer screws up and puts Guinness on an otherwise completely heinous beer menu. When I have a wider selection to choose form, I often reach for lesser known brews. St. Peters makes an excellent Cream Stout. Riggwelter is pretty awesome. Closer to home, Deschutes (in Bend, OR) has a very nice extra stout called Obsidian. Again, YMMV.

#224 ::: Nikki Jewell ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:57 AM:

Isle of Skye blended whisky made on the Macleod estate is the best I've ever tasted, including single malts.

I've occasionally put in a bit of water, but never tried it with ice. It's perfect for camping, particularly at five o'clock after a long walk, and it works especially well as a splash in a mug of tea.

It's hard to find though.

#225 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 04:54 AM:

It's odd to see Guinness stout offered as an Ideal. Here in Ireland it's the equivalent of Bud in America, a huge market-dominating industrial giant, usually the cheapest draught beer in any bar in the land.

Old-timers here are always moaning about how the marketers have ruined it, serving it freezing cold to try and dull the taste enough to lure in the Young People Today who all like lager better.

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 05:01 AM:

Matthew, #173: You're a braver man than I am, Gunga Din, and I salute your fortitude. Not being into self-flagellation of any sort, I tend to take finding the taste of something vile as a sign that I probably shouldn't taste it again.

dcb, #180: Well, if you do acquire the taste you can discover a whole new wide world of flavours to enjoy.

The problem here is that to people like Kate and Mary Aileen and me, that statement is an oxymoron. It's along the same lines as the old joke about, "Why do you keep banging your head on the wall?" "Because it feels so good when I stop!"

Caroline, #192: That's a good point. Unfortunately, the flavor to which I object is the alcohol itself (which I can taste in ridiculously low concentrations), so I'm afraid that approach is not likely to work for me.

Rich, #215: She, offended: "Well of course. I've been a bartender for 20 years."

At that point*, I'd have been thinking hard about raising an eyebrow and responding, "Could've fooled me." If I was sufficiently startled/annoyed/emotionally off-balance already, there's about a 60% chance that the tact circuit would short out and I'd just say it, without thinking at all.

* Not that I would ever have been in exactly that situation, but considering an equivalent one...

#227 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 05:30 AM:

I only started drinking recently (and no, I'm not that young) and in general I still don't like the taste of alcohol (though that's part of the reason I like to try new kinds in search of the ones I can enjoy).

But for me, sometimes the taste is a little beside the point, as there are times in one's life when it is just fun to drink with friends, and yes, on occasion, get drunk ;)

#228 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 06:30 AM:

Well, I am quite young (30, fully dressed), but I've not yet encountered been convinced that it is (or would be) fun to drink and/or get drunk with friends. I mean, drinking with friends is fun, but the alcohol is an accidental part of that; and getting drunk with friends seems to me a great way of missing out on much of the fun. It's always seemed pretty easy to catch the mood of the group even without the alcohol. (I believe there was once some research done which backed me up on this - that people who believed they were drinking alcohol (but were in fact given a placebo) got "drunk" just as quickly as others in the group who were drinking, and that the spirit of the group was dominant regardless of how much you drank - but I can't find it.) But admittedly it's not something I can be sure of.

There are plenty of ways in which it would be very convenient to drink alcohol - it's been the default option in virtually every social situation since I was (under) 18 - and I still haven't found an easy way around it. I don't like alcohol: I don't like its effect, I don't like the smell or the taste or the mouth-feel; for me it seems like drinking motor oil. And it's never seemed a taste worth acquiring.

(I'm really not convinced by this "acquired taste" thing, either. I spent a year trying to acquire a taste for coffee - and in Italy, at that - and it still tastes as unpleasant as it always did. I did find I could tolerate it with sugar added, but all that means is that I was OK if I couldn't really taste it. And even then I didn't actually like it. Perhaps I'm a supertaster after all.)

But also, I don't like to drink Coke for both the reasons Patrick highlighted and the sheer amount of sugar; and actually, I'm not a big fan of carbonated drinks in general (including sparkling water). Fruit juices are fine, but I find I can't drink them in very large quantities, such as is needed in an evening down the pub. Ginger ale is bitter, for me, although I don't mind it now and then; and ginger beer even seems bitter. So I'm still looking.

One of the things I liked about living in the US was that there seemed to be a much wider tolerance of the decision not to drink. Living in Ireland was much the other way, though. Luckily I'm quite bloody-minded.

#229 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 06:53 AM:

Michael Roberts #214: That smell is dunder which is a bi-product of fermentation. In Jamaica and Guyana, some of the dunder is mixed with the rum and the resulting liquid is redistilled. This produces a more pungent rum with a fuller body.

#230 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:13 AM:

Terry Karney @ 219 ...
Xeger: Sake gets called wine because of the alcohol content. It’s method of making is that of beer. I like sake, though the first time I was near it I was repulsed; it smelled of kerosene. I have to disagree with your comment to Julie L, Sake tastes of many things.

We're in agreement about the many tastes of Sake - Julie L's the one that finds it tasteless :)

#231 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:37 AM:

Kate Nepveu @ 207 -- Well, I wasn't trying to insult you. I apologize for trying to offer my experience in being disgusted by something, then finding there was a version I did like, in hopes that it might somehow be interesting or useful.

#232 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Kate @ 207 -- I apologize for my last comment. Clearly I'm in a pissy mood this morning, and it took longer than the preview screen for the snappish urge to subside.

Again, I'm sorry. I was being a jerk.

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:45 AM:

vian @ 222... I saw Beowulf. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about turning into CGI versions of themselves the likes of Ray Winstone(1) as you-know-who, Anthony Hopkins as Hrothgar, Robin Wright Penn as his wife, and Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother with the scary tresse(2). There were times where the technique lacked realism, but even then it fitted in with the legendary feel of the script by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. The story suffered a bit from the Krull Syndrome(3) and, after wave after wave of carnage against the local warriors by Grendel, I'd find myself wondering where they'd found the new batch of people to dine & wine in Hrothgar's Hall.

So?
Was it any good?
Well, I liked it.
Of course, your mileage may vary.

----------

(1) Remember him in the mid-1980s's cable show Robin of Sherwood?

(2) Yes, this is the second time I can think of her in a CGI movie. Or have you forgotten about Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow?

(3) From 1983's infamous fantasy movie Krull where a castle would be in the middle of nowhere without another habitation in the neighborhood, and without any field for peasants to be oppressed into taking care of.

#234 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:04 AM:

With regard to putting vegetables (or anything else non-liquid) in a martini, David Brower, giant of the environmental movement, was known for preferring his drinks without olives--claiming the fruit took up space that would otherwise be occupied by gin.

As for adding water to single malts, a well-off friend once hosted a single-malt tasting party, and brought in a distributor's rep to help serve. She made it a point to add a drop or two of water to every glass, although I've since forgotten the rationale, and whether it made a diff....

#235 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:39 AM:

I never got used to gin, as a former cow-orker of mine drank a kind of gin that smelled like someone had marinaded a pine tree car air freshener in it for a few weeks.

I was at a party once at which someone decided that the truly impressive array of alcohol demanded some sort of game; he came up with "roll dice for random mixed drink". Most of them were surprisingly good. The exception was 4 parts blue gin, 2 parts vodka, and 1 part plum wine; the result smelled (and, one imagines, tasted) precisely like turpentine.

I've gotten a lot of "Oh, try this, you can't even TASTE the alcohol," over the years.

The only thing I so far like about my New Medical Condition is that it requires me to take a medication which is contraindicated with alcohol. So I can just say, "No, I'm on meds", and no one can argue with me.

I hate alcohol. It tastes rotten to me--which is because, well, technically it is rotten. Closest I've ever gotten to enjoying an alcoholic drink was when I was a teenager and my mom was out for the evening, so I decided to try the white wine she had in the fridge. And even that was only acceptable till it warmed up.

"I like my martinis like I like my women-- stirred, not shaken, with a twist of lime." (in best Sean Connery voice, of course)

"Do I look like I give a damn?"

Possibly the best line in the recent Casino Royale.

#236 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:42 AM:

Carrie S. #235: Possibly the best line in the recent Casino Royale.

I know I swooned.

#237 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Niall McAuley @ 225: It's odd to see Guinness stout offered as an Ideal.

Yeah, to me it's "third-best Irish factory beer" (after Smithwick's and Beamish).

When I went to Ireland last April, I was a bit disappointed that the microbrew/real ale revolution doesn't seem to have reached your shores. I prefer my beer local and fresh, and the only place I found it was Galway ("Galway Hooker"--quite good, but very much like a California pale ale). Every pub seemed to have the same four (or three, or two) options.

In England, on the other hand, I don't think I found a pub without real ale. The best two I had were Maggs' Mild and Ferryman's Gold, both in the same pub in Hampshire (probably not a coincidence, as keeping beer properly requires a fair amount of dedication, or so I'm told).

I also tried perry for the first time. Very tasty.

#238 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:07 PM:

j.h. woodyhatt: Beer, glorious beer. The wealth of variation in the malting of barley (and occaisionally wheat and; yes even, corn. One of the great tragedies of the world was Rolling Rock being bought out. It was a nice summer lager, with a pleasant note of corn. Now it's swill, made from rice and tastes like pissy water).

I recall when there were maybe half a dozen decent beers one could find at most stores (and TJs was a wonder... I miss Hopfenperle, but that's the way of things. I'm sure it's still made, but I haven't seen it in years).

Lots of San Miguel Dark was drunk. Then came the microbreweries and things picked up.

Now the supermarkets (at least in my area) have a good dozen of local-ish brews; many of them have a decent number of imported beers.

Cider is still damned hard to find (and what is available is often mediocre, at best). When I see a decent cider (Woodchuck, out of Vermont is quite nice, I like the Granny Smith in particular, but the Dark and Dry is just fine), I snap it up.

#239 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:23 PM:

So, anyone seen the movie?

vian @ 222 I also saw and enjoyed the film, though the faces of the characters sometimes strayed into the Uncanny Valley. I also (just as in the three LOTR movies) kept wanting to give everyone more clothing. Mittens for everyone! But that may just be because I was cold, too.

I would very much like to hear the entirety of Olaf's Drinking Song again.

#240 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:26 PM:

Carrie S @ 235

"I was at a party once at which someone decided that the truly impressive array of alcohol demanded some sort of game; he came up with "roll dice for random mixed drink". Most of them were surprisingly good. The exception was 4 parts blue gin, 2 parts vodka, and 1 part plum wine; the result smelled (and, one imagines, tasted) precisely like turpentine.

I... am going to have to steal that idea. That sounds like one of the most splendidly geeky ways of enjoying alcohol I've heard of. My God. And introduce the appropriate multi-sided RPG dice, and some fruit juice...

Now I want to throw a party! But all my drinking pals are hundreds of miles away. Booo.

#241 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:27 PM:

vian at 222: I saw Beowulf last week - at the big Imax 3D theatre in London - and have sort of mixed feelings about it. I don't think I can say anything good about the technical aspects, and I do think that the direction suffered from over-concentration on those. The most obvious aspect would be hearing different inappropriate accents from different characters - Hrothgar is very Welsh, Grendel's mother is some sort of miscellaneous Slavic babe, and Beowulf sounds like he's about to cadge a pint and sell you some dodgy DVDs. I have some strong reservations about the changes to the storyline too, but I'll put those behind an ebg13 veil for spoilerish reasons. There's a review, also very spoilerish, here.

Gur bevtvany - ng yrnfg va Urnarl'f irefvba - vf nyy nobhg gur punatr sebz gur Ntr bs Urebrf (be Zbafgref, nf Tnvzna unq vg - fnzr guvat ernyyl) gb gur arj Puevfgvna ntr. V nccerpvngr gung gurl unq gb cebivqr n ernfba sbe Teraqry gb rkvfg, ohg znxvat uvz Uebgutne'f fba - naq gur qentba Orbjhys'f - frrzf yvxr n qenfgvp qrcnegher. Vafgrnq bs 'guvf ureb abafrafr vf gbgnyyl fperjrq hc', vg'f 'bar zna guvaxvat jvgu uvf pbpx znqr guvf ceboyrz - bayl bar zna pna svk vg'.

Nyfb, Orbjhys vf gur tnlrfg tnl Ivxvat gung rire anaprq qbja gur junyr-ebnq.

...Orbjhys sounds like a Moorcock hero, doesn't he?

Richard at 234: Even if I'm drinking Scotch neat, I'll rinse out the glass with very cold water in order to get those last few drops of water for the whisky. I'm not convinced that that little makes any actual difference, but it seems to, and the experts say it does so I shan't argue.

I like my whisky like I like my women: single, strong, and over the age of consent.

#242 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:52 PM:

I like my whiskey like I like my women: I have no objection to their presence, they're great for some of my friends, and sometimes they smell nice.

Anybody else get the icks about these whiskey/women and women/martinis things? Not all of them, just...I mean, what does "stirred, not shaken" mean about a person?

#243 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Fragano #229: That smell is dunder which is a bi-product of fermentation.

Useful information! So, can you also tell us what "mifflin" is?

#244 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Sam Kelly @ 241
I like my whisky like I like my women: single, strong, and over the age of consent.

I am SO stealing that line!

#245 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:44 PM:

Terry @238:

Ah, San Miguel Dark. I tried it, by chance, around 1976, at a jazz club that had just opened in the seedy downtown of San Jose, California, where I was living at the time. Up until that point, I'd only had the usual horse piss, canned or kegged or bottled, and to which I was pretty much indifferent -- good for merely a buzz, in other words. San Miguel Dark, however, was a revelation: Beer could taste, well, interesting -- even pleasant! It was the first step on a path that eventually led me to trying my hand at home brew. I don't know if San Miguel Dark is still available, much less whether offers a tyro the same eyebrow-raising frisson I experienced at the age of 21, but I remember it with fondness.

#246 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:46 PM:

I liked Beowulf a lot. There were things that bugged me, but the things that were handled well outweighed them. I didn't mind the departures from the original plot too much. The accents didn't bug me (though I can't tell much difference between different British Isles accents) and I liked that the monsters were very Germanic, almost to the point of incomprehensibility until I figured it out.

Here begin possible spoilers:
Gur cybg'f punatrf, zbfgyl jvgu gur sngure/fba plpyr, qvqa'g oht zr gbb zhpu orpnhfr vg tnir gur ragver guvat n cybg orlbaq 'zbafgre fynva, zbafgre fynva, zbafgre fynva'. Vg znl or gung V qvqa'g ernq Orbjhys irel jryy, ohg vg qvqa'g unir nf zhpu gb gvr vg gbtrgure nf na rcvp nf V rkcrpg sebz fgbevrf abj. V nz n ovg phevbhf nf gb ubj n ureb naq n jngre zbafgre zvk gb sbez n qentba, ohg qvq guvax vg jnf vagrerfgvat gung Uebgutne'f fba jnf fb tebgrfdhr pbzcnerq gb Orbjhys'f, naq gur qvssreraprf va gur sngure/fba qlanzvpf orgjrra gur gjb cnvef.

Gur ynpx bs rkgreany travgnyvn ba Teraqry'f Zbgure, naq ure nznmvat fgvyrggb srrg, gubfr jrer guvatf V guvax jbhyq unir orra jryy punatrq. Vg jbhyqa'g unir orra uneq gb unir znqr ure srrg nf bgure nf ure unve naq fxva, naq ab jbex ng nyy gb fzbbgu ure bire fbzrjung gb znxr vg pyrne gung fur vf abg nf erny nf fur ybbxf-- znxr ure rkcyvpvgyl zbyqrq gb svg uvf rkcrpgngvbaf engure guna fbeg bs erny. Naq vs gur uvqr-gur-cravf tnzr pbhyq or qbar guebhtu na ragver svtug fprar, V frr ab ernfba abg gb pbagvahr vg gb uvqr-gur-ynovn.

Ohg birenyy, gur evqvphybhf ovgf jrer abg jbefr guna V rkcrpgrq sebz n znwbe zbgvba cvpgher, naq gur cnegf V unq orra areibhf nobhg-- gur vasyhrapr bs Puevfgvnavgl, gur ornhgvshy lrg haybirq dhrra, gur Qnarf va trareny-- jrer unaqyrq zhpu orggre. Puevfgvnavgl jnf cerfrag ohg abg pbapragengrq ba fnir sbe fbzr boivbhf pebff-fubgf, gur jvsr naq ybire jrer abg ovggre rarzvrf, naq gur Qnarf jrera'g cbyvfurq vagb Gbyxvrarfdhr ebznapr.

Here end the spoilers.

Xopher, I'd never thought of drink/mate comparisons in quite that way. I always thought of them as a way to show of wit rather than a genuine statement of preference on the beverage or romantic fronts.

#247 ::: Mikael Vejdemo Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Damn! I go to Warsaw for a weekend, and when I get back, I basically missed most of a really good thread.

Up until August last year, I was a diehard teetotaller, to the extent that many of my friends, my wife included, believed me to be so on a basically political basis. My own rationale was that I didn't like the taste and saw no need for searching for something that I'd like.

Then, I ended up trying and liking Guinness. And gin on the rocks - though I'm picky with brands. I like Plymouth and Tanqueray, am slightly indifferent to Bombay Sapphire and have tasted a host of gins I simply do not like straight up.

And after that, I started thinking that if I do like these - what else is there I like?

I ended up NOT liking rums and cachacas. Liking good vodkas. Liking Dry Martini and Kangaroos, as well as Baileys and most what you could do with it. REALLY liking upper-scale scotch single malts - Laphroaig was my first, and still hangs out in the top 4, together with Talisker, Bruichladdich, Lagavulin. I do not like the american and irish whiskeys I've tasted so far.

Oh, and I've taken to mixing my own Swedish punch.

Among wines, I adore the Georgian Tsinandali, and find most European wines boring or undrinkable. Beers need to be black, or at least a deep amber, otherwise I don't care to even try.

Generally, if a drink doesn't taste particularily much, I don't see the point of having alcohol in it. This rules out all alco-pops and many of the fruitier or sodaier drinks, as well as serves as the rationale behind avoiding lighter beers.

- - -

For the gross out side, the Stockholm Royal Institute of Technology Computer Science student pubs have among their standard drinks the Rhode Island Ice Tea - start with the same liquors as in Long Island Ice Tea, but top it up with Rhode Island salad dressing (a kinda pinkish yoghurty salad dressing). It is said to be absolutely vile, and during my time there, it was ordered twice and never served.

- - -

And for the horror story - I was in Sydney this autumn, visiting the University. One day me and one other visiting scholar go out partying, and end up in a painfully hip bar somewhere along Darling Harbour. Slightly at a loss for what to drink, I star at the bottles while waiting for the bartenders to produce the row of 15 whiskey sours they were doing before ordering.

And I spot first a Lagavulin. Following the shelf, I find that they have all the "standard" single malts, and decide I want a neat Talisker. I also am rather thirsty, so I order a glass of water as well.

"WHAT? You mean just the whisky? On ice?"

Ummmm, NO! NO ICE!

She fetches a tumbler, fills it with ice, and looks at it for a moment, then realizing that there was something to be remembered. So the ice gets poured out again. Then two of them work for upwards to two minutes to actually locate the bottle before they pour it, and my water, and serve it.

And of course, there was enough water from that ice that the Talisker got completely defanged.

#248 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Xopher, I think of stirred vs. shaken as a metaphor (and I really like your line about women, btw) like this:

Stirred: Quiver of anticipation
Shaken: Shudder of ick

However, I've been known to be rather tacky and shallow.

#249 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:01 PM:

linnen at 244: go for it!

I used to say 'single, Scots, and over the age of consent' but then I stopped seeing the Scots girl (who interpreted 'single' as 'unmarried'). Some of the partner :: beverage comparisons do ick me a bit, but it seems to depend on the details rather than the concept. Then again, most 'what I look for in a partner' statements irritate me if they're about things the prospective partner can't help. Especially 'tall', since I'm only 5'7" myself (and like it that way).

#250 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:37 PM:

I... am going to have to steal that idea. That sounds like one of the most splendidly geeky ways of enjoying alcohol I've heard of. My God. And introduce the appropriate multi-sided RPG dice, and some fruit juice...

He did in fact use RPG dice--my RPG dice, small ones which I keep in my purse in case of a sudden roleplaying emergency. And I think there were mixers involved, but since I wasn't drinking I didn't pay much attention to the actual process of constructing the drink. ISTR that the first step was "determine the number of components", but that's all I got.

#251 ::: Ho Jon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Ho-Jon goes to the table and takes a few ice cubes from a hospital ice-bag,
puts them into the pitcher along with gin and a dash of vermouth.

TRAPPER
Don't you use olives?

DUKE
Where you think you are, boy?
They probably never seen a olive
in this country.

Ho-Jon pours three water-glasses full of martini and starts to distribute
them.

HAWKEYE
(to Trapper)
That's the front up the road a
few miles. We have to get by
without some of the comforts of
home.

TRAPPER
I like an olive.

He reaches into his parka, comes up with a bottle of olives, takes one out
and puts it into the martini Ho-Jon serves him. Then, as Hawkeye and Duke
gape at him, he offers them the bottle.

#252 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Most of my alcohol tastes are expensive:
-Chartreuse, neat. The green one.
-Irish whiskeys over Scotch or bourbon, but not Jamesons. I like Tullamore Dew, or less expensively, Clontarf. Have not had much opportunity to compare others.
-Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonics.
-When I'm out dancing, and feel like buzzing, a shot of cheap whiskey.
-There's a cheap vodka, Skol, which I bought to make perfume with, and found out I like.
-plum wine
-sweet wines, never dry.
-Dinkelacker Dark is the only beer I seem to even like a little.

I did not have the time to put up preserves this summer, as I had hoped, so I spent time cutting up fruit and jamming it into jars with rum or vodka or brandy, and sugar, to make homemade cordials. I threw some spices into some of them. Any suggestions in this genere would be welcomed. Hmmmm; citrus is coming into season over the next few months....

Never drank a martini. Always thought the recipe was, "Hearts full of youth, hearts full of truth, six parts gin to one part vermouth."

#253 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Michael @ 214: Down here in the south, we have Don Q, which is rum. Or so I'm told -- it tastes nasty whatever it is, plus the fermenting sugar smells like hell all over that side of town. Or did. As everybody predicted, now that we've lived here two years, we can't smell it any more, or rather, can only catch a faint whiff of it now and then when the wind is right. We'd ask people, what the hell is that smell? And with nearly no exception, they'd all say, what smell? I kid you not.

Reminds me that when I drove to Portales for Jack Williamson tribute, the university had a distillery as part of their chemistry department. As you drove past it smelled like a bar at closing time.

#254 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Caroline @119, count me as another in the anti-lager camp. I thought I didn't like beer for years; it turns out that basically what I don't like is hops. I'd been trying lagers and pale ales because I thought that since they were lighter they'd be less beer-y, and that if I didn't like them I'd *really* hate darker beers. Now that I've tried them I really like stouts and porters.

#255 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:27 PM:

damnit, jim, we expect better from you.

jump kits, go bags, bug-out bags, i don't care what you call them.

just make sure you never, ever, leave the house without some pickled onions on your person.

also, indicate the need for such in your vial of life.

don't you ever plan ahead???

#256 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:29 PM:

Nancy @ #252, I really do wish that Lehrer had found another outlet for his satire after TW3 was canceled.

#257 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:31 PM:

Not having a fondness for sweet in general rum has never been my favored drink. But back in the 90's I spent so much time in Cuba during the era (1990 through the Special Period) in which rum was IT in most cases. Additionally in those days Cubans still had the custom at every occasion, even 'business meetings,' even at 10 in the A.M. to bring out the tray with the bottle and the glasses. Rum was more available than coffee or, certainly, beer. Rum isn't any more appealing to me now than it was then. But I've learned a lot about the enormous number of rums throughout the Caribbean and to a lesser extent, Central America. So many differences in quality and in flavors and consistency.

BTW, the draconian laws put in place in 2003, the Helms-Burton Act, cutting off People-to-People and making it nearly impossible for U.S. Citizens to go there, cutting the funds that can be sent to family in Cuba and the number of visits, etc. is known as the "Bacardi Bill," lobbied for so hard by the Bacardi team of lawyers and lobbyists. At the same time they've been taken to court for passing off their 'Havana Club' rum as rum made in Cuba, which it isn't.

Love, C.

#258 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Serge @#233: That was hardly the only problem with Krull! Starting with somebody forgot that double suns would cast double shadows, and closing with using marriage-magic for a weapon....

#259 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:45 PM:

Thanks for the Beowulf reviews, guys.

So, it's not an ryrtl gb n aboyr ntr snyyvat vagb qnexarff so much as n fghql va uhoevf jvgu abgrf ba gur Natyb-Fnkba dhrfg sbe snzr, huh? A pity. But then, _The Battle of Malden_ wouldn't make that good a film ...

#260 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 04:54 PM:

vian at 259: I'd queue for it. Even more so if it included The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son too. Then again, I grew up close to Maldon, so I got steeped in that one early on.

The poem's got at least as much actual plot as Beowulf has, though - just fewer monsters. I can quite see it getting a 300esque treatment, with the noble Earl Beorhtnoth standing between a weak Ethelred the Unready and the relentless hordes of drunken, debauched, snarl-bearded pagan thugs.

As for noble ages? I don't believe in 'em.

#261 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 06:02 PM:

Mikael Vejdemo Johansson @ 247
Sympathies for the "ice watered" Talisker. I had a bar in Camden (London, UK) do that to me once - I asked for the malt and they gave it me (unasked) on ice. Shudder.

I've got about 30 different single malts at home, so I can decide exactly what flavour I want on any given occasion.

Re. American whiskeys, I quite like Blantons, also Rock Hill Farms - single barrel bourbon (I have a bottle of each). They are much more like Irish whiskey than like Scotch malts (much sweeter, for one thing), so if you don't like Irish whiskey, you probably wouldn't like those either . I have some Tullemore Dew (Irish) also - the bottle was a congratulations present from my PhD supervisor.

#234 ::: Richard Anderson
As for adding water to single malts, a well-off friend once hosted a single-malt tasting party, and brought in a distributor's rep to help serve. She made it a point to add a drop or two of water to every glass, although I've since forgotten the rationale, and whether it made a diff.... I went to a malt whiskey tasting and we were supposed to taste each one, then add a litttle spring water and taste again. I tried that, but it just confirmed that, for me, normal-strength malts are nicer neat.

Before the tasting we had a "name the scent" competition, which was fun - included smoke, acetone, cinnamon, clove, linseed oil and various others,

Lee @ 226
Okay. If you don't like it, that's fine.


candle @ 228
I really like many different varieties of alcohol, but I agree about the getting drunk bit. Being with friends is nice, drinking with friends can be nice, but I never saw the point of drinking with the aim of getting drunk.


#262 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 06:31 PM:

Sam @ 260 As for noble ages? I don't believe in 'em.

Neither you nor me. But the Beowulf poet(s) did, and the portrayal of the inevitable passing of the age is one of the more fetching aspects of the poem. It's also, to my mind, the only thing which explains Unferth's not being abandoned in the icy wastes composing a lament like _The Wanderer_, and the fact that Wiglaf at the end burns a whole pile of gold (burning honours, because there's noone to give them to) which could have propped up his people until better times.

#263 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 06:45 PM:

re 241: I suppose it would be extremely politically incorrect to like one's whisky and women "single, straight, and over the age of consent." (Wanting them "neat" somehow gives the wrong message.)

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 07:04 PM:

David Harmon @ 258... That was hardly the only problem with Krull!

True. To tell the truth, I saw the movie only once - when it opened in Toronto, in 1983. It was a traumatic experience that I had no wish to repeat. I'd rather go thru a repeat of the duel-in-a-lava-lamp at the end of Revenge of the Sith. (Even I have movie standards.)

#265 ::: Sue ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 07:14 PM:

I've been offered all kinds of drinks that people have told me 'you can't taste the alcohol in'. They can't but I can. I also hate being told that the reason I don't like $drink is because I haven't had good $drink yet. I have had good beer and good wine and good whiskey and I didn't like them either.

Currently the only drink I find palatable is mead (and it's got to be the right brand of mead as well) but when I was a student my drink of choice when I could afford it was Baileys and coke.

If anyone wants to try this bizarre concoction you'll need to be in a bar because the coke has to come out of a hose. One measure of Baileys in a half-pint glass, then add coke until it's half-full and wait while it expands. Top up if necessary. Add a spoon.

I must have confused half the bar staff in Durham with that one. :-) I never did think of a name for it though.

#266 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 07:41 PM:

I don't like the taste of alcohol, though I can crush it under sufficient amounts of fruit and sugar; part of me thinks it's a little pointless to drink something I don't like unless it's at least as nutritious as a V8, but drinking does have an important social function and I'm sort of coming around to it.

I've never had the usual Collegiate Drunken Revelry experience, but a drink is a good thing for scrabble, or karaoke, or having just run into one's high school boyfriend. And it's terribly hard to *not* drink without being considered a stick-in-the-mud puritan. So it's midori sours, rum-and-coke, and hummingbird water (raspberry lambic mixed with pear cider) for me.

#267 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 08:25 PM:

Emily H: Yes! A fellow coolant-colored beverage drinker (midori sour). Huzzah!

I like a good scotch, but I let my friends experiment and tell me what I'd like. Y'all have given me excellent gift ideas for the father of a friend of mine. His tastebuds thank you in advance. Now I can guarantee that her parents will continue to love me best. Wo0t!

#268 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 08:30 PM:

I wonder if a good percentage of the people who don't like an alcoholic beverage are supertasters?

#269 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 08:53 PM:

Emily (266): Daquiris are good for that, too, if you get them weak enough. Also margaritas. Although I've never had more than about half a glass of either.

I don't just dislike the taste of alcohol, I also dislike the floaty, disconnected feeling of having drunk some. Not being drunk--I've never had that much--just mildly buzzed. Nope, don't like it. And I so seldom drink alcohol that it takes very little to get me unpleasantly buzzed.

Fortunately, since leaving college, I've never been in a situation where I was considered impolite *not* to drink. Well, champagne toasts at weddings, but you can fake that.

#270 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Steve (268): As far as I know, I'm not a supertaster. But I've never actually been tested for it.

#271 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 08:58 PM:

I am surprised that one has brought up the bit about American Beer. So here goes;

Why is American beer like making love in a canoe? They are both fscking close to water.

#272 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:11 PM:

linnen...that applies to Bud. Most others, arguably. If you think that of Sam Adams or Anchor Steam, I will question your sanity.

I never liked drinking that much. Like Mary Aileen, I don't like the feeling of being buzzed. In addition, my favorite things to do are singing, dancing, and having good conversation. All those things are impaired by even small amounts of alcohol. (Actually there's something I like even better, but that's impaired by booze too.)

I can take it or leave it. I decided I'm better off leaving it.

Then, of course, I went on alcohol-contraindicated meds, and it was all over.

#273 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:12 PM:

candle @ 228
dcb @ #261

Count me in. I will also note that working in restaurants where drunks congregate after the bars close reinforced that to a ridiculous extreme -- as does drunk sitting during and after pub crawls.

Also? It doesn't help that my stomach goes numb if I drink too much too fast.

I do drink. I just don't do a lot of it.

#274 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:17 PM:

Xopher #272: In addition, my favorite things to do are singing, dancing, and having good conversation. All those things are impaired by even small amounts of alcohol.

You and me, we're different.

#275 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:21 PM:

ethan @ 274... You and me, we're different.

So, you're not really each other's sock puppet?

#276 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:24 PM:

ethan 274: You and me, we're different.

That's why there's two of us.

But...oh no! We disagree on something!

Does that prove that we're not each other's sockpuppets?

#277 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:40 PM:

Xopher... On second thought, maybe you each are a different side of the same sock puppet, like in that episode of ST-TOS when the transporter malfunctionned and they wound up with two James T. Kirk.

#278 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:10 PM:

Whoa, Serge...if we keep posting like that, people are going to think YOU'RE my sockpuppet!

#279 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:15 PM:

You mean he's not?

I thot you were Spartacus?

(no, wait, that was Tania. I'm so confused...).

#280 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:18 PM:

Carrie S. @ #250

my RPG dice, small ones which I keep in my purse in case of a sudden roleplaying emergency.

Now that is the best jump kit ever.

#281 ::: Ben Morris ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:19 PM:

Have to agree with the people who dislike lagers, I love ales though (especially dark Belgian ones, St Bernardus Abt 12 = happiness).

As far as liquor goes I can generally find something I like in all the major categories except for tequila. My favorite would have to be brandy, nothing I have drank do I enjoy as much as a good armagnac or cognac.

#282 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Serge, neither Xopher nor I is likely to give Yeoman Rand reason to scratch our faces.

#283 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:44 PM:

ethan @ 282... You don't like hybrids of beehives and human females?

#284 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Xopher... Maybe I'm a spock puppet.

#285 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:52 PM:

Serge, we always knew you weren't the real McCoy.

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 11:01 PM:

Sam Kelly... I really am the good Lazarus, except that people think I'm the bad Lazarus.

#287 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 11:26 PM:

Xopher, #242: Yeah, sometimes it makes me a little twitchy -- although generally that's a side effect of someone's entire attitude rather than just one line. OTOH, it also means that none of the guys can bitch when I say that I like my men the way I like my chocolate -- dark and rich!

Sam Kelly, #249: I'm now officially confused; how do you interpret "single" if not as "unmarried"? I'm once divorced and currently partnered, but not married, hence single. (And have been for some years engaging in a quiet rebellion against separate check-boxes for "single" vs. "divorced" on official forms; what the hell business is it of theirs if I was married 10 years ago or not?)

Some people, I know, do interpret "single" to mean "not currently partnered", for which I can see the reasoning -- but it doesn't seem applicable to your statement.

Emily, #266: And it's terribly hard to *not* drink without being considered a stick-in-the-mud puritan.

If you're having that problem a lot, then you don't need to be drinking, you need a better class of friends.

As to the social aspect, I've come to realize that a lot of that is just having a drink in your hand; the drink can be water, or ginger ale, or cranberry juice, as long as you've got something. I prefer my glass to be about half-full, which minimizes both the risk of spilling it with a careless gesture and the constant refrain of, "Can I top that up for you?" at the same time.

Steve, #268: I don't think I'm a supertaster, but I could be wrong; I've never been tested for it. However, I do like bitter-orange marmalade, and I think that's typically one of the things supertasters can't stand.

linnen, #271: My partner and I refer to "American-beer iced tea", which is an extended riff on that joke. It means the kind of iced tea you sometimes get in restaurants, which is so weak it's better described as water with a slight tea coloring.

#288 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 11:30 PM:

On the "I like my ____ like I like my ____" subthread, there was a very (very very very) brief period during my college years where my friends and I drank shots of Bacardi 151 almost exclusively (for economic reasons, mostly), and my formulation was "I like my men the way I like my booze--highly flammable."

#289 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 11:44 PM:

Lee at 287: I'm now officially confused; how do you interpret "single" if not as "unmarried"?

Personally I figure 'single' to mean 'not in a relationship'. There might be some room for ambiguity about what constitutes a relationship, I suppose, but that seems like the sensible way to do it, with a scale (analogue, not digital) going from single & celibate -> single & not celibate -> in possession of a (girl/boy)friend -> in possession of a PASSLQ -> married or equivalent -> long-term marriage or equivalent.

I'm a bit twitchy about people privileging marriage over other committed relationships - possibly that's from knowing very few people in my or my parents' generation who haven't been through at least one divorce. The ex I referred to did that - and to bring things back on topic, she drank Smirnoff Black by choice. That should perhaps have been a warning sign.

#290 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 02:03 AM:

I am Spartacus!!

That was fun to type. I'm really Serge's sockpuppet, so he has someone to poke fun at him for his movie tastes.

#291 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 05:02 AM:

I like my whisky like I like my women: single, strong, and over the age of consent.

There was a competition for the worst possible sentence along those lines - as far as I remember the entries included:

"I like my whisky like I like my women: eighteen years old and kept in the cellar until needed"

"I like my coffee like I like my women: procured by South American peasants and imported in burlap sacks"

"I like my pizza like I like my women: so hot their top slides right off"

"I like my men like I like my egg custard: thick, blandly inoffensive and rich"

#292 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 06:11 AM:

Vesper Lynd: Am I going to have a problem with you, Mr. Bond?
James Bond: No, don't worry, you're not my type.
Vesper Lynd: Smart?
James Bond: Single.

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 08:29 AM:

I like my Making Light like I like my lawn: without gnomes.

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 08:30 AM:

I like my programming like I like my coffee: strong and bug-free.

#295 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:03 AM:

Steve C @268--It's possible these folks are blessed with a sharper-than-usual sense of smell, instead of being supertasters, as much of what we consider "taste" is actually smell, with true taste being limited to sweet, sour, bitter and salty (unless you accept the suggestion that "umami" AKA savory be included).

So--how about it, Lee and the other Hate-alcohol-and-can-taste-it-in-anything folks? How good are your senses of smell? Can you smell the booze before it ever reaches your lips?

#296 ::: anatidaeling ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:46 AM:

fidelio@295

Yeah! That's me! I really don't like the taste of booze, and I must have a pretty good sense of smell, because a lot of my converstaions run along of the theme of, "Whaddaya mean you can't smell that? Can't you smell that? Take a sniff. There, smell it? How can you not smell that?"

#297 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:47 AM:

293: I like my comment moderators like I like my hobbits: doughty, good-humoured, witty, keen on exchanging recipes, and drenched in the blood of trolls.

#298 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:50 AM:

Caroline @ #232: no worries. I may have been a bit snippy, too, out of reflex.

On another thread:

I like my books like I like my microfiber towels: absorbing without getting ick all over me.

#299 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:58 AM:

fidelio #295: I was under the impression that umami was a concept whose main purpose was to popularize the use of monosodium glutamate as a food additive.

#300 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:20 AM:

Earl @ #299--
I suspect you're right about that, because I don't get it as a separate taste, but some people do accept it, which is why I threw it in as an extra. Them as believes are free to do so.

#301 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:33 AM:

So--how about it, Lee and the other Hate-alcohol-and-can-taste-it-in-anything folks? How good are your senses of smell? Can you smell the booze before it ever reaches your lips?

Heck, yeah. Well, I can smell it before it reaches other people's lips. I haven't attempted to drink any alcohol myself since my parents gave up on trying to get me to drink a few sips of wine at Passover when I was about five. I don't even like eating food that was made with it, because even if the alcohol's burned off the flavour's still there, and I can't stand it.

But back to smell...yes, that's a big problem for me. In fact, if the alcohol concentration in the air is high enough it's a migraine trigger[1] and can cause problems with my breathing, as well. I can think of few places I'd less like to be than in a warm room that is full of people with glasses of wine and has poor ventilation.

[1] I presume drinking it would be a trigger for me as well, since that's a common one, but I have no desire to test it, given my reaction to the fumes alone.

#302 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:34 AM:

I don't think it's about a sense of smell with me - at least, I don't have the conversations anatidaeling apparently has. I've never noticed being particularly sensitive, I mean. Whereas supertasting is a supposed phenomenon based very firmly on taste as such (isn't it about numbers or density of taste receptors on the tongue?).

The fact that I find coffee and tonic water unpalatably bitter does make me wonder if I actually *am* a supertaster. (I even find olives bitter, as opposed to salty, which is what wikipedia seems to envisage.) On the other hand, I quite like brassica and other green vegetables, although it may be that I like the slight bitterness there. But who knows?

What it comes down to is that a supertaster sounds like a cool thing to be. But turning down a drink by saying "No thanks, I'm a supertaster" is probably going to sound arrogant. ("I taste things so much more profoundly than you do...") And if anything I think that's worse than being thought puritanical.

Still, I am amused by the counterintuitive element here. If I were a supertaster, it might explain why I don't ... really ... like ... food ... very much.[*] It's like Borges' Funes the Memorious: maybe increasing the intensity of a given pleasurable experience actually makes it less pleasurable. Or is that also the plot of Perfume?

[*] It sounds stupid to say that, but I suppose I mean that food, or the prospect of food[**], never really gets me excited.
[**] I mean, I don't find my mouth watering even when people talk about foods I actually kind of like. My father seems to have had the same thing. The way he puts it is "I'm not a recreational eater."

#303 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:05 AM:

#299: I think the wide-spread popularization of glutamates precedes the science establishing umami as a distinct taste. (Or, at least, I hadn't heard of the term "umami" until I started watching the Food Network in the '90s. OTOH, I've heard my mom talking about this taste, not glutamates, (in Chinese, not Japanese) for as long as I can remember.)

Also, despite glutamates being a signifier of umami, commercially, I don't think they're aimed at the same target. The commercial use of MSG is as a flavor intensifier. (e.g., you get to use fewer chickens in your commercial chicken broth or something.) Umami, OTOH, is considered a taste unto itself, not an intensification of existing tastes.

(There was an NPR story on the history of umami recently. Unfortunately, I don't remember when I heard it...)

#304 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Fidelio, #295: Oh hell yeah. In fact, that's my primary test; if I can smell the alcohol, there's no point in my even trying the drink. And I do think my sense of smell is better than average, though not to the point of hyperosmic -- that's my partner, who won't eat most cheeses because he says he can smell the rotten milk in them.

Earl, #299: I don't know anything about umami, but "savory" is definitely a different taste from any of the standard four. "Meaty" might be a good synonym under most circumstances, although there are non-meat dishes which are savory as well. Onion is savory, as is any spice that you'd use on meat but not in a dessert. It's one of those things that's difficult to describe because we don't really have the language for it.


#305 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 12:01 PM:

John 303: (There was an NPR story on the history of umami recently. Unfortunately, I don't remember when I heard it...)

It was Robert Krulwich on November 5. I think. That's the one I heard, anyway. There have been followups on other programs.

#306 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 01:18 PM:

Lee @287:

One obvious reason not to regard "single" as equivalent to "unmarried" is because doing so defines nearly all gay people in the US as "single", even if they're in a relationship that has lasted for decades. I've been meticulously adding a box to forms that offer only "single" or "married" to make a point for a while now, even though I know it makes more work for some hapless data-entry person, and am pleased to see an increasing number of forms opting for "married or in a marriage-like relationship" instead.

#307 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 01:30 PM:

So--how about it, Lee and the other Hate-alcohol-and-can-taste-it-in-anything folks? How good are your senses of smell? Can you smell the booze before it ever reaches your lips?

My sense of smell is not great--well, actually I suspect it's average, but since my main competition is a man who has been measured as having a sense of smell about twice as keen as the average person, I come off poorly in comparison.

However, I can almost always smell alcohol before it gets close enough for me to actually put it in my mouth, and I can always taste it even in "you can't taste it" drinks. And looking at that list in WP, I dislike alcohol, cabbage, kale, coffee (specifically because it's bitter; if it tasted like it smells, I'd be all over it), and spinach; I like grapefruit and am neutral about green tea; I dislike tofu for reasons other than its taste per se. And I am the designated tester of soft drinks, because my boyfriend's diabetic and has been drinking diet soda for so long he can't taste the artificial sweetener anymore, but I always can.

#308 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 02:16 PM:

I'm really not convinced by this "acquired taste" thing, either. I spent a year trying to acquire a taste for coffee - and in Italy, at that - and it still tastes as unpleasant as it always did. I did find I could tolerate it with sugar added, but all that means is that I was OK if I couldn't really taste it. And even then I didn't actually like it. Perhaps I'm a supertaster after all.

Probably not. Supertasters are a) fairly rare and b) not as cut and dried as the typical article about them makes it sound. It's also not a pleasant or useful ability, since it has excellent odds of ruining your fondness for food. Most taste testers are not supertasters for that reason (and a whole bunch of others). Being a supertaster is... not very survival oriented.

Most people have decided preferences for different tastes and flavors. If someone says "oh it's an acquired taste" I know it's very likely that all it'd take for me to acquire the taste is to find some and eat/drink it. Seems that "acquired taste" is a common shorthand for "has lots of sour and/or bitter flavor components"... and I *adore* sour and bitter. Many other people do not enjoy those tastes at all. Very sensible of them, since most toxins are sour or bitter flavored.

The fact that I find coffee and tonic water unpalatably bitter does make me wonder if I actually *am* a supertaster. (I even find olives bitter, as opposed to salty, which is what wikipedia seems to envisage.)

*shrug* I like bitter flavors and I still find most coffee undrinkable. Sometimes it really is a matter of taste. Olives really are bitter, often with elements of sour (from the cure needed to make them nontoxic) and salt (used as a preservative). So Wikipedia is right and wrong at the same time. A California black olive from a can will be more plain salty, as will a cocktail olive. I like the former, and dislike the latter. But I'll eat many sorts of French, Greek, Spanish and Italian style cured olives any day of the week. Many many many people enjoy dark chocolate and that is another very bitter food item. I tend to prefer milk chocolate over dark, tho very good dark chocolate is better than badly made milk.

People really are different, and that's good. Means I can have my dark beers (and martinis, and Gimlet-like-objects, and wine, and scotch, and lemonade, and milk...) and other people can have their fruity drinks. If we all liked the same things, the world would be boring.

#309 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Carrie S. @ 250:

He did in fact use RPG dice--my RPG dice, small ones which I keep in my purse in case of a sudden roleplaying emergency.

Meet me in Utahchusetts for our imminent marriage.

Sue @ 265:

I also hate being told that the reason I don't like $drink is because I haven't had good $drink yet.

I have grown tired of this as well. I wish more people would learn better from your Perl of wisdom.


"I like my Making Light comment threads like I like my Chinese buffets: warm, well-monitored, and free of monosodium glutamate."

Whoops, guess I need to stick to knock-knock jokes.

#310 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Earl @299, Fidelio @300

Umami is a taste (like sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and [possibly] fat*) in that we have receptors for it on our tongue. Research on the umami taste receptor was announced in 2002.

It comes from the free glutamate content of foods: high umami foods include meats, mushrooms, tomatoes, and some shellfish. Foods can be high in both umami and salt- marmite, vegemite, nam pla, anchovy sauce and soy sauce all have that.

---------
* Fat taste receptors were found in rats in 2005- it's quite possible humans have them.

#311 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 03:06 PM:

DaveL #243: Unfortunately, I don't know.

#312 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 03:24 PM:

I like my coffee like I like my men - strong, warm and slightly bitter.

#313 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 03:53 PM:

I have one of those biology issues that makes booze a toxic no no even a tiny amount makes me revoltingly ill and my doctor said to use the word allergy to get the point across yet people still insist on exposing me to alcohol. I'm running out of polite ways to tell them to get stuff. Any suggestions? Dreads the holiday season like plague.


I like my men like I like my dinner- fresh abundant and a pleasure. I like my women like I like my deserts- sweet sinful and special.

#314 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale #310: I was under the impression that umami research was funded by chemical companies that produced MSG and therefore highly suspect.

#315 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:02 PM:

...somewhat akin to research into "restless leg syndrome" which is a sloppily made-up condition meant to sell a particular prescription medication.

#316 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:08 PM:

TW, is it the sort of thing where being in the room with people drinking will make you ill, or where drinking it yourself will? If the former, all I can say is to throw your own wonderful party and have lots of nonalcoholic things to drink; if the latter, and polite refusals haven't taken hold and it really is causing you trouble, I'd invent a medication. Or find new and more polite friends.

#317 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:21 PM:

wrt umami, an English translation of Kikunae Ikeda's original 1909 can be downloaded in text/PDF formats near the bottom of this page; the three letters which precede it also discuss the topic.

#318 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Diatryma,

The scent of booze will remind me of how sick I can get if I drink when it is strong enough or in my face which is why when I baked with it for others I vent the kitchen till it's near polar tundra inside.
The problems are at things like company christmas dinner party where I don't have much choice over who is around me and oh boy do they drink at that.
The husband has learned that if he has a beer no attention for him the rest of the night though he occasionally forgets.
There have been accidents from badly labeled items or certain high end foods that use serious liquers for flavour.

#319 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:32 PM:

I think I read somewhere that pure fruit juices contain some small percentage of alcohol, usually less that .5 percent. Does that ever create a problem for those hypersensitive to it?

#320 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Steve C, 319,

It might but I can't have juice due to other issues so I can't say for sure. I know the alcohol in flavour extracts like vanilla can make me sick if it doesn't cook off.

#321 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:50 PM:

NPR's Kitchen Window podcast had a bit on umami either last week or the week before.

fidelio @ 295 & anatidaeling @ 296: Yeah! Seriously, I wonder if some people have spent too much time cleaning with ammonia and destroyed their nose. Alcohol has a very distinct aroma. It's rather hard to miss, imo.

T.W @ #318: My husband knows that he's going to have to choose between marital relations and booze when we go out, as I have some pretty nasty association with booze smell. I will drink it, but don't expect me to feel relaxed around someone who is drinking. Because I don't and I won't.

#322 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:51 PM:

#314: The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders funds research on umami. (Yes, I was surprised too.)

http://www.nih.gov/about/almanac/organization/NIDCD.htm

Obviously, people take the source of research funding into account. However, I don't think it's useful to discount an entire area of research based on an impression that the research might perhaps be funded by a vested interest. What matters at the end of the day is whether the research stands up to peer review. In this case, it seems like it has.

None of this has to affect your opinion of umami, of course.

#323 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 04:54 PM:

Earl @314,

The research on the umami taste receptors looks to me like straightforward basic science research.

The mammalian amino-acid taste receptor T1R was reported in Nature in March of 2002. Not every amino acid would trigger it, and they found differences between mice and humans on the 'selectivity and specificity of taste responses.'

The same group reported, in a paper published in April of 2002, that the human T1R specifically responds to glutamate. Additional research found that the sweet and umami receptors share similarities- for example, chemicals that block the sweet receptors also block umami sensing.

The major advances in understanding the molecular biology of taste have only taken place in the past decade. As of 2007 all that research has found out quite a bit about sweet, umami, and bitter, and they're "gaining ground rapidly" on salty and sour.

#324 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 05:05 PM:

If you believe the NIH it appears that the connection between "Chinese restaurant syndrome" and MSG is unproven.

#325 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 05:21 PM:

No one's mentioned the glass-shape thing yet.

One of our favorite pass-times is asserting to various acquaintances and passers-through that the different glasses for different wines thing isn't just pretension. And proceeding to demonstrate with a taste test.* Works best on people used to thinking scientifically.** But no one who's taken it seriously hasn't agreed there's a difference. That's what makes taste all so complicated: not just what else you've been drinking or eating, but the shape of the glass make a difference. For some wines it's the difference between "nice" and "yuck".

Y'all are evil. I hardly ever have cocktails, but it turns out, when desperation strikes and there's not much in the fridge, that Bombay Sapphire, Creme de Cassis**** and an olive is drinkable. Beats the heck out of mixing it with tonic water for me, anyway.

* Yes, it really does make a difference. Like shaken vs. stirred, it changes the relative abundance of aromatics when you drink it.

** Not least because they're the most likely to be skeptical in the first place.

*** We drink a lot of kirs to cover the taste of open-too-long bottles of "homemade" wine.

#326 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 06:37 PM:

Ralph at 325: I'm not convinced one way or the other about the glass shape thing - the studies I've seen seem plausible, but it's not something I've tested myself. But the experimental setup you describe sounds like a recipe for expectation bias.

I wonder whether it'd be possible to do a double-blind reverse test, with identical-appearing liquids in variously shaped glasses and the subjects being asked to say whether pairs of liquid/glass combinations were the same liquid or not. For proper testing, you'd have to use different kinds of liquids, I suppose.

#327 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 06:48 PM:

Probably not. Supertasters are a) fairly rare and b) not as cut and dried as the typical article about them makes it sound. It's also not a pleasant or useful ability, since it has excellent odds of ruining your fondness for food.

Fair enough - I usually only introduce the supertaster thing as a joke, on account of the sounding-arrogant thing I mentioned. That said, your comment about it not being a desirable trait and ruining your fondness for food sounds exactly like the way I described my tastes earlier, which now makes me a little bit suspicious.

Anyway, it doesn't amount to much more than "I don't like bitter stuff", so I shall probably keep defaulting to that. I'm glad olives can be sensibly described as bitter, though. People are always amazed that I don't like them, and (often) that I think they have a taste other than "salty".

#328 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Sam @326, probably. I've done it enough times in enough directions to believe it, but we've certainly not been careful to check if our guests know which glass is the "correct" one.

It is too bad you can't blind compare the glasses, but trying to ABX different test solutions that are matched on most other characteristics sounds like a fun project.

#329 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:28 PM:

C. Wingate, #324, it has to be. My stepmother always came home from eating at a Chinese restaurant complaining about MSG and a headache. But she cooked with boxed stuff that used MSG without problems.

#330 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:40 PM:

Earl @315,

I know that the advertising campaign on RLS is new, but why do you think that RLS itself is?

Looking up RLS on PubMed gets over 500 results. (That's only looking up RL, not the other names it has.)

The earliest are from the 1950's, from researchers in many different countries-- research was ongoing, but Pubmed doesn't go earlier.

Abstracts aren't available until the 1980's articles, where, for example, RLS was the diagnosis for nearly 25% of elderly people being tested for sleep disorders at a sleep clinic (only 11% of middle-aged people and 4% of young people had it).

By 1992 treatments included L-dopa, bromocriptine, benzodiazepines (for mild cases) or opiates (if the others didn't work). Because L-dopa helped, the hypothesis that RLS was associated with dopamine dysfunction was around (by at least the late 1980's).

2007 research says that "Primary RLS is familial and likely to be genetic*. Important causes of secondary RLS are end-stage renal disease, pregnancy, and iron deficiency." There's a high prevalence in people with multiple sclerosis.

While they don't know exactly what causes it, the current model seems about as well-corroborated as it could be with today's technology: "The concept agreed on assumes a dysfunction of the dopaminergic system, possibly on the level of striatal and/or spinal dopamine receptors, and the A11 neuron group localized in the hypothalamus as an integrated part of the system," where the concept is "based mainly on neuroimaging and on neurophysiological data"

Other diseases or syndromes associated with dopaminergic system disfunction include Parkinson's and Tourette's.
----------

* Genetics: very recent (November 2007) research finds a linkage to chromosome 9p. Unlinked because I'm near the link limit.

#331 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:59 PM:

Xopher @#78: (sorry, got distracted with RL for a couple'a days there)

"do as thou wilt" does NOT mean "do whatever you feel like doing."

Interesting - can you explain? (don't if it's too personal, of course) I'm a gleaner, rather than a true student, of Wicca and associated practices*. I've met many kind and just practitioners over the years. I've also met a few OTO folk (and OTO wannabes) who were a lot more interested in power than in love, and they seemed to skip the "harm none" bit. Sometimes in practice as well as in word.

And of course, there are always a few posers who don't care about craft, but hold Crowley in one hand and Ayn Rand in the other, and sing out "I'm more important than you, here's a book that explains why you should f--- off if you disagree with me." Ah, college.

*except I've been a serious card reader for 20+ years.

#332 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 12:00 AM:

That said, your comment about it not being a desirable trait and ruining your fondness for food sounds exactly like the way I described my tastes earlier, which now makes me a little bit suspicious.

Yah. Supertasting is rare enough that I wouldn't bet that you are, but it's a lot more likely than for a foodie crowing over a quiz score :). As long as you can manage a variety of vegetables, it's not worth worrying over. If getting a good variety of fruits and vegetables is a problem (because they taste awful), then it might be worth finding a university with a good taste research program.

FWIW, supertasting is not the only trait that can make someone pickier than average. I know of something like a half dozen specific compounds that people can have a genetic taste sensitivity to. There are lots of other oddities, both biological and psychological. (No, I don't do taste research, just grew up around it.)

#333 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 01:04 AM:

T.W., #318: Ah yes, the company Christmas party. That's when you make an appearance for about 15-20 minutes, circulate and make sure you've talked with everyone important so they'll remember you being there, then mention casually that you've got some sort of appointment (or have to pick up someone at the airport, or are meeting an old friend for dinner) and depart without fanfare.

Tania, #321: With some people, ammonia isn't what I'd suspect of having destroyed their sense of smell. Also, ISTR having read somewhere that excessive consumption of alcohol over a long period of time will do the same thing, but don't quote me on that without checking.

#334 ::: Suzanne F. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 01:17 AM:

Re: umami:

MSG was developed in the early 20th century as an attempt to isolate the essence of umami, so though the science preceded the marketing they really evolved together.

Here's a fascinating article about it: Jordan Sand, "A Short History of MSG: Good Science, Bad Science, and Taste Cultures" Gastronomica 5(4) (Fall, 2005). (I can't find fulltext online; check your library's databases.)

#335 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:22 AM:

Earl #315, Some 20 or 30 years ago, my first trip away was rather dampened by being paired in my group with someone who had a couple of mental & physical problems because we were both in our 20s (the only two in the group under 40/50 or so). She definitely had Restless Leg Syndrome.
Also, 5 or so years ago, when I had a serious body-wide illness, I developed something very like it, usually at night. It's possible that it was caused, like the tinnitus was, by the treatment rather than the disease. Thank goodness nearly all that lot of symptoms have subsided since.

#336 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 04:47 AM:

I am biased against direct to patient marketing by Big Pharma in general; a soulless marketing drone is not a good source of medical advice.

#337 ::: Mikael Vejdemo Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 04:54 AM:

Ralph # 325,

for his 50th birthday, my father got New Expensive and Shiny new wine glasses from the southern swedish glassworks. In the new glasses, he was unable to keep drinking his favourite wines - they simply did not taste as good any more - but he got a sudden appreciation for the wines residing in a price bracket about $30/bottle more expensive.

#338 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 05:31 AM:

Emily Cartier@308 says:

I tend to prefer milk chocolate over dark, tho very good dark chocolate is better than badly made milk.
Swap "milk" and "dark" and I would agree completely.

#339 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 06:27 AM:

As long as you can manage a variety of vegetables, it's not worth worrying over.

Yeah, vegetables (and soya) are fine - I'm actually vegetarian. But yeah, I certainly don't see myself as having a problem that needs diagnosing. None of this seems to interfere much with my life.

Milk chocolate over dark, every time, though. (It's the bitterness thing again.)

#340 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 08:09 AM:

As noted on multiple previous occasions, being told about supertasters suddenly explained a lot of things for me...

But it's complex, and one of the ways in which it's complex is that there are other genetically controlled like/dislike tastes (such as the great evil that is cilantro). Those can interact in odd ways -- does it matter to a supertaster that there's a bitter chemical in Brussel sprouts, if said supertaster is one of the people who can't taste the chemical in the first place, through a different chemical switch?

I actually like food a great deal. Food tastes perfectly fine to me, as long as it's prepared by me, or by anyone else who doesn't feel a desperate desire to put bitter/alcohol/chilli in anything and everything. I'll even enjoy garlic, so long as it's used in what a friend describes as homeopathic quantities.

I think, though, that I may have to work out some analogies with colour-blindness to explain to one or two people that no, the putatively yummy dish really *doesn't* taste the same way to me as it does to them, and never mind acquired tastes.

On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in there being no such thing as too much ginger or cardamom. Revenge is not so much sweet as ginger-flavoured...

#341 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 08:28 AM:

Lee @#333: I love my company Christmas party, but I've been at my company for 9 years and I'm a newb compared to many of my coworkers. Free food, booze, and a good DJ with people you've known for a decade or more is a pretty good time.

#342 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 08:36 AM:

"do as thou wilt" does NOT mean "do whatever you feel like doing."

I am not Xopher, but I imagine this is a subject that can do with more than one explaination. I used to date a couple of guys who were more or less into the OTO thing, so I got the whole rundown...not that they necessarily lived up to it, but the basic idea is as follows:

You have a thing called a True Will. It's sort of analogous to your fate or your purpose in life; it's the way to behave that is most in harmony with the way the Universe wants you to behave. The way you find out what your True Will is is to get in contact with your Holy Guardian Angel. Despite the title, the HGA isn't an angel so much as a manifestation of your true self, the self that sees the difference between what you think you want/need because you're mortal and limited and what's truly good/necessary/right for you. So when a Thelemite says "Do as thou wilt", what they're supposed to mean (because they're no better at living up to their ideals than any other group) is "Do as your Holy Guardian Angel tells you". Of course it usually ends up being an excuse to screw anything that moves.

The non-Thelemite version is a little different in that "as thou wilt" means more like "as you, having thought carefully, believe is most likely to turn out well for everyone involved". Similar to the Thelemic version, but slightly less liable to abuse because of the requirement that you think first rather than just deciding that whatever you feel like right now is what your HGA wants you to do.

#343 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 09:24 AM:

#325--Ralph, it's the reason Riedel started with their wine glasses, although the claim that they were the first to come up with appropriate glasses for different wines needs a good-sized grain of salt. Some wines need more air, some need to have a delicate aroma aimed straight at the nose, and so on--the shape of the brandy snifter is designed to put as much of the aromatic components in the liquor loose in a confines space as possible, which is a purpose other than "being a honking big glass of booze" as an acquaintantce once put it, since you don't put much brandy in there.

#344 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 09:25 AM:

On smell and alcohol, as well as smell and other things--
One thing that can screw up a sense of smell is a history of upper-respiratory issues--I know mine has suffered from years of sinus problems. Also, it appears that odor information stores easily in human long-term memory (surely that can't have any ties to survival requirements! /snark) and connects strongly to emotional memory--so if you find you have a strong reaction (positive or negative) to a particular odor, it's not an accident--we're put together that way, and again, I'm betting it has a survival advantage.

#345 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 09:31 AM:

#336--Earl, that's s good point, although just because a condition is uncommon, or not "important" enough to be well-known (since it's not life-threatening) doesn't mean it was invented by Big Pharma.

I do agree the Marketing Department isn't a discriminating diagnostic tool.

#346 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 11:51 AM:

fidelio #344:

I think you're onto something. When I was Very Young, There were any number of foods with which I couldn't deal--kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli and milk[*] chief among them. Then at age 7 I got diagnosed with every allergy under the sun, had years of shots, more years of sinus infections, and eventually ended up being able to handle all of the above. That is, except for the brussels sprouts. There's no accounting for their existence.

[*] Not a lactose intolerance thing. It just always smelled really wrong, usually spoilt beyond endurance even if it had been milked that morning.

#347 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Mary 331: Everything Carrie said at 342 is correct (or at any rate, I agree with it). I have a somewhat different perspective.

I take the 'thou' in 'do as thou wilt' to be the same one as in 'thou art God' (a statement which seemed obviously false when I first heard it, later came to seem obviously true (even redundant), and now no longer seems obviously anything).

When I say "thou," I intend to address the part of you that is connected to and consubstantial with the Divine power of the Universe (similar to what's called a "soul" in the Whedonverse). It's not so much a separate part (like an arm or leg), but more an aspect of you (long digression about the Mind, Body, and Spirit being all One omitted here).

So 'thou art God' means "the part of you that is God is God" (when I realized this is when it began to seem redundant). There's more complexity to the meaning of those three small words, however: it takes work (a lifetime of it) to be clearly conscious of your Divine connection, and virtually no one fully lives up to its mandate. So is it true that "thou art God" when becoming a god (much less God) is such hard work, and you probably won't get there in your lifetime? Like I said, not obvious.

At any rate, with that understanding of 'thou', you can also come to a deeper understanding of 'do as thou wilt'. It means...well, it's complex. A short gloss might be 'act in your Divine Self at all times'. Obeying the dictates of your conscience is only the beginning of that.

Even though everyone's "thou" is connected to the same Divine, each one is different. Your "thou" will urge you to different actions than mine. Mine has embarrassed me more than once; the time I told a guy (based on a dream I'd had) that his girlfriend was seriously ill, perhaps in a non-obvious way, for example (it turned out the illness was mental, which explains why I was able to pick up on it, albeit unconsciously, from only a brief encounter with her).

Other times, I've let fear stop me from doing as my "thou" urged me: after 9/11, when I felt moved to go to Ground Zero to help the newly dead find their way; I was terrified of being overwhelmed by all those unquiet spirits, and didn't go. I carry some guilt about that to this day. Another time, I felt a powerful urge to go up to a total stranger in the pier park in Hoboken and say "The answer is 'yes'." I had no idea what the question was! I'm a little too worried about what people will think (but better a little too worried than too little worried—I think!).

So once you get this deeper understanding, you realize that your "thou" probably isn't going to urge you to harm others, and therefore the 'an it harm none' clause seems redundant. It's there as a guide for beginners who have not come to the deeper understanding of 'thou wilt', and it helps calm down outsiders as well.

For me, doing actual deliberate harm to someone isn't something I'd do (well, think it right to do—I'm not perfect) unless reason and my "thou" both concurred. This has never yet happened to me in my life, and I hope it never will.

#348 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Mary Dell, #341: For various reasons*, I rarely socialized with any of my co-workers when I had a day job. Between that and being a non-drinker, the company Christmas party had severely limited appeal.

Joann, #346: I can't drink plain milk. It's not lactose intolerance, and it's not a smell thing AFAIK; it's just that the taste makes me gag. I have no problem with it if there's something in it to cover the taste, such as Instant Breakfast or in a fruit smoothie, or in other dairy products in general (with the exception of yogurt, for which there is no good excuse).

* Mostly having to do with being the Office Freak everywhere I ever worked. The things that they liked bored the shit out of me; the things that I liked, they thought were Alien Weirdness.** And then there was the political issue; I was both socially and politically much more liberal than anyone else was willing to admit to being. Little if any common ground to be had anywhere.
** Okay, I could understand that when it came to SF cons and the SCA. But contradancing and choral singing? From the same people who liked going to kicker bars and sang in their church choir? Give me a fscking break!

#349 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:45 PM:

I don't like milk just by itself, although it's fine on cereal, or to wash down food. ("Mom, I'm hungry." "Have a glass of milk to tide you over till dinner." "I *hate* milk." "You have four glasses with dinner!")

Another one here who likes milk chocolate much better than dark. Dark chocolate is too bitter and not rich enough.

#350 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:48 PM:

About dietary problems... Every time I've had raw oysters, I've regretted it. Is that uncommon?

#351 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:51 PM:

I was raised to drink a lot of milk, and even now, water-based drinks are too thin. Coffee and tea, besides tasting bad, feel wrong. Some juices are okay, but mostly, it's chocolate milk all the way.
Any time the three of us kids are home, my parents have to be sure to have at least four gallons in the fridge. I've never tried organic milk-- I can't taste milk much to begin with, and since I put in so much chocolate powder anyway, it seems like a waste. It's a thickness thing for me.

My main issue with beer is that I cannot shake the feeling that it's supposed to be fruity at the end. I'm constantly disappointed.

#352 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:58 PM:

Joann @ 346 -
That is, except for the brussels sprouts. There's no accounting for their existence.

I like Brussels sprouts. They are nummy.
(this is not to say you have to like them - but there are reasons for their existence - to give me something to have alongside chicken Cordon Bleu, for example...).

:-D

#353 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 04:05 PM:

With some picky eaters, the texture of food seems to be as significant as the actual taste-- no matter what it tastes like, if it feels too mushy/slimy/goopy/whatever to them, it isn't going to be eaten. My husband feels this way about some vegetables, such as raw cucumbers and cooked beets; it's especially true of a family which one of my aunts married into, and whose genes in that regard turned out to be dominant over my family's carefree "we'll eat anything as long as it's stopped moving" gourmanderie.

Meanwhile, Xopher's brownie recipe is staggeringly good. They're so chocolatey that it's nearly difficult to eat them. (I said "nearly".) Then again, I suppose this was to be expected from the application of large quantities of high-octane Valrhona (courtesy of a friend's leftovers from making 63 lbs of chocolates), but ye gods, these things are blacker than the Chandrasekhar limit of Dick Cheney's soul. Though probably much tastier.

#354 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 04:40 PM:

Julie L., texture is the reason I can't eat tomatoes by themselves, and the reason that I can't even choke down eggplant the way I can other things that tasted bad.

#355 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 05:16 PM:

Texture is the other reason I can't eat tofu. The number one reason is that I don't like the taste. Though if you chop it up enough and put it in a strongly flavored sauce, it's okay. Egg whites have the same two problems, but not the same solution. Cooked tomato is also too slimy for me to like, unless it's completely saucified. Raw tomato is very nummy.

The only way I can eat eggplant is to cut it into pill-size pieces and swallow each one whole with a lot of milk. My sister used to treat peas the same way.

#356 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 05:30 PM:

Diatryma @ 331 - Zima (if you can stand the derisive laughter) has a fruity taste, or so I've always thought. And there's always the slice of lime after a Corona.

Anyone else's likes and dislikes change over the years? I couldn't stand liver when I was a kid, but I love liver and onions now. Conversely, I didn't mind rice when I was young, and now it's just sort of blandly blech unless saturated with butter and spices.

My secret shame is mushy foods. Refried beans and thick green pea soup are wonderful - ditto mushy peas with fish & chips.

I dislike cheese intensely, except in pizza or lasagna. The thought of macaroni & cheese...*shudder*.

#357 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Julie 353: Bwahahah. Yes, I cut them into 1-inch squares before serving. This gives the victim eater a chance to recover a bit before having another.

The first batch I made I frosted with chocolate frosting. One of my friends told me not to. "Gilding the lily?" I inquired. She thought for a moment. "More like wearing a newspaper hat with a $3000 dress," she said.

At any rate, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

ethan 354: The differences are piling up! Tell you what, I'll eat your tomatoes and eggplant, you drink my champagne (and beer and wine and cordials etc.), and we'll dance together. Work for you?

Mary Aileen 355: You might like my tofu paté, which has neither the texture nor the flavor of tofu. Instead, it tastes like garlic and carmelized onions, and has a texture uniquely its own...but nothing like tofu.

I absolutely share your opinion on tomatoes. Raw: yum. Cooked to oblivion: yum. Anything in between: yuck.

#358 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 05:45 PM:

As a child i couldn't stand bleu cheese, and now it's yummy.

I don't like the idea of tomatoes -- that slime and those icky little seeds squicks me out. I'm just fine if it's sauced, though, and generally okay if I just don't know they're there.


I tried to get myself some Sapphire Gin and Bailey's the other night, but I didn't have my ID with me and they wouldn't sell it to me. I'd feel really sorry for any under-21-year-old with a beard as gray as mine, but I suppose it's possible...

#359 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Steve 356: That's interesting. So you only like cheese when it has a long texture, or you only like mozzarella (melted)? But lasagna generally has ricotta in it too, and that's VERY short-textured.

I can understand not liking cheese. It's the particular exceptions that are confusing me. Can you provide any insight into what about cheese you don't like, that excludes those exceptions? Would, say, eggplant parmagiana (or chicken or veal parmagiana), which (like pizza and lasagna) combines tomato sauce with melted mozz, qualify, or is it really just those two things?

Please note, I am in no way challenging your food preference or saying you "ought to like" anything, or even that there are things you ought to try. I'm trying to use your incomplete dislike of cheese to gain insight into aspects of cheese I may not have considered.

#360 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Todd @ 358

The seeds and the gel around them come out of tomatoes really easily. (Just so you can unsquick them.)

Tofu sautes nicely, which improves its texture some. (Try firm rather than soft or silken, if your market has it.)

Salting eggplant pieces and letting them stand on a rack or in a colander for fifteen or so minutes, then rinsing and drying them, will remove a lot of the bitterness.

I didn't like oysters or pumpkin pie or mince pie when I was a kid. Oysters are still not thrilling, but I've reached the stage where I'll eat them without difficulties; cooked is better, though.

#361 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Xopher @ #359 - It may be more a matter of the other flavors in pizza and lasagna overwhelming the relatively mild tastes of the mozzarella or ricotta. Come to think of it, I've even enjoyed a bag of Cheetos from time to time, and that's because the salt and the crunch mask the cheese.

Regular yellow cheeses have a sour, pungent taste to me, and it reminds me of milk gone bad. (I love cold milk, but I don't drink too much of it anymore). I've joked from time to time that cheese is a terrible thing to do to a perfectly good glass of milk.

Some years back, I was visiting my sister and her husband, and we had dinner at her in-law's. His mother, bless her heart, had no idea of my likes and dislikes, and thought, hey, everyone likes cheese, and every dish had cheese in it. But I was a polite fellow, and soldiered through it with the aid of some wine.

Over twenty years later, we still laugh about it when we get together.

#362 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 06:33 PM:

Xopher (357): Your tofu pate does sound good.

Philistine that I am, when I make brownies, I use a mix. Ghirardelli's Double Chocolate Brownie mix is my new favorite; it's too rich to eat more than a small piece at a time.

#363 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Steve 361: That makes a ton of sense. Thanks. If I understand you correctly, I think that the sour pungency you speak of is usually called "sharpness." I personally like it (within limits), but I not only can understand not liking it, I can recall a time when I couldn't stand it; I could eat only the mildest cheddar.

Your comment about cheese and milk reminds me of Twain on the subject of golf!

I still can't quite eat goat cheese (unless it's very mild indeed). And for some reason I can't stand swiss, though that may be a simple learned taste aversion.

#364 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 06:55 PM:

I suspect it's pretty common for food preferences to change between childhood and adulthood (mostly growing broader -- tripe and trotters and sweetbreads...mmmm, yum). What I find intriguing, though, is that my sweet tooth has pretty much vanished over the years. A blessing, actually....

#365 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 07:03 PM:

There are a few cheeses to which I have a mild allergic reaction. Swiss makes my lips swell up, and blue cheeses sometimes makes me feel mildly asthmatic. I like the taste of all of them.

#366 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 07:14 PM:

I'm in love with pretty much every cheese known to man, with the exception of bleus, which just taste like mold to me. Except gorgonzola, for some reason, which I love in salads and on pizza. When I was younger I didn't like anything sharp, but I find I'm liking sharpness more and more as I eldify.

For almost my entire life I couldn't abide onions except very very cooked in soups and things, and even then I would try to avoid them when I could. About a year ago, though, almost literally overnight, I suddenly loved them, to the point where now I occasionally even slice myself off a bit and eat it raw, by itself. I've had tastes change before, but never so quickly and dramatically.

Xopher #357: Sounds like a party! Bring along your tofu pate and your brownies and it's a deal.

#367 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Hmmm. So many things from which to choose...

Tipples I have enjoyed: my standard mixed drink is VO & 7-Up; I appreciate both red and white wines but for some reason tend not to favor the Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons (but I very much enjoy Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Zinfandel {NOT white Zin}, etc.); I once had a marvelous pear cider from Sonoma, on tap at a bar called, I believe, Cato's in Oakland--one pint wasn't enough and two was "boy am I glad I'm not driving!"; Sabra is terrific, Frangelico and Kalhua likewise.

Re: supertasters, the first time I heard the term was in the PBS multiparter called "Mystery of the Senses," based on Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses. I don't recall whether either source specifically mentioned this, but it seems to me that supertasters might have been highly beneficial in a hunter-gatherer society, since they were more likely to be right about food being either poisonous or dangerously spoiled (as opposed to so-called "nontasters" who might end up dead because those taste cues eluded them).

And there's apparently been some research recently to the effect that the foods a pregnant or nursing woman eats have a direct impact on whether the growing child finds them palatable or not.

Favorite dessert: vanilla bean or French vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate sauce. Mmmmm...and I'm planning to try Xopher's brownies at the earliest opportunity!

#368 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Syd @ #367 -

VO is a good whiskey. I prefer Canadian Whiskeys to sour mash, and for a while, my roommate and I would do VO and Pepsi and kill a 5th over the course of a couple of nights.

Good vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate sauce - that's a definite yum.

#369 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 10:15 PM:

I meant to ask earlier: has anyone here ever had Voyant Chai Cream liqueur? How is it?

It's only available special ordered by the case in my state. While one of the guys who makes it managed to find my LiveJournal post on the topic and informed me that a case is only 6 bottles, I'd still like some outside opinions on whether it's worth spending around $100-$150 on a case of something I've never tasted before.

#370 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Steve @ 368--

So should I mention the 1.75l bottle of Crown Royal I finally got around to opening about three years ago? My mom (d. 1992) bought it a rather long time ago: It has a tax stamp dated 1968... :)

Talk about good stuff!

#371 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Tim@232: regions vary; I had some trouble finding real ale in Darlington (midway between Newcastle and York), but that may have been the commercial influence -- the two most isolated places I found both had real ale.

Linkmeister@256: the way I hear it, Lehrer got bored -- certainly with performing, and maybe with writing (at least satire) as well.

#372 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Food: I was a very picky eater as a kid, mostly because of the Ritalin (appetite suppressant!). Now I'm pretty omnivorous, with only some ideosyncratic dislikes (veal, eggplant, non-chopped liver, that sort of thing). Even without medication issues, most people's tastes do change a fair bit at different stages of life.

I like my snowclones like I like my drinks... pure, sweet, or at least surprising.

Todd #358: Where do you live/purchase alcohol? In NY, and MA, (US) I've rarely been carded since i was 16 -- not so much the beard, as the bald.... ;-) I've only been in VA for a few months, but I've bought alcohol a few times, and not ben carded.

#373 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 01:16 AM:

Julie, #353: I'm sure there are any number of entities who would find Dick Cheney's soul quite a tasty tidbit indeed. So many, in fact, that there may be a considerable squabble over just who's going to get it, or whether they can share.

Mary Aileen, #355: I have a couple of mild texture-related issues -- specifically, hard-boiled egg whites and Jello. I can eat either one with pleasure as long as I don't think about how they feel in my mouth. Fortunately, this is not a "don't think about elephants" thing; I can distract myself by consciously thinking about something else if I happen to slip.

Steve, #356: I can trace my liking for mushrooms back to pizza in high school, and my liking for yellow squash and zucchini to a friend's mixed-veggie casserole shortly after college. For Chinese food, I had to luck into a restaurant that had the best sauces in the world (and I've never found any other to match them since that place closed), but then it was much easier to eat Chinese of lesser quality.

In the other direction, I distinctly remember liking beets until sometime when I was about 5 years old; one night I took a big bite of them at dinner and nearly threw up, and I've never been able to stand them since then. AFAIK, there wasn't anything different about the way my mother fixed them that night either, and I certainly wasn't expecting it!

And, re #361: I strongly recommend, then, that you avoid Ruby Tuesday's restaurants. My partner has a lot of the same issues with cheese that you do, and the last time we went to one he almost couldn't find anything to eat. EVERYTHING had cheese in or melted over it, even things you normally wouldn't expect to. It was enough to make us wonder if they'd been bought out by a Wisconsin-based corporation! Also, if you can deal with mozzarella, you might find Mexican queso blanco tolerable as well.

CHip, #371: The version I heard was that he started seeing his satirical songs coming true before his eyes, and suddenly it didn't seem funny any more. I have to wonder what he'd write about the current Administration...

#374 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 02:19 AM:

David Harmon #372 -- I'm currently in Washington State. This was the first time I'd been in a liquor store since moving here, and the first time I'd been carded since I was 18.

That time, I was buying a Diet Coke at a convenience store right after a highschool football game had ended nearby, and everyone else in the place was obviously underage and trying to buy beer and the cashier just wasn't paying much attention to what I'd sat down on the counter.


Chip #371, Lee #373 -- the version I heard, once Kissinger received a Nobel Peace Prize, there was no way for satire to top reality.

#376 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 04:41 AM:

I think I just invented a rather good new martini - gin with a dash of black truffle oil. Names for it welcomed.
As for rum, Mount Gay is rather good, and available at reasonable prices at Trader Joes.
I've mostly moved to beer drinking over wine, as the flavour/price curve for beer is so much more favourable than wine.
And those of you who haven't tried Pimms No 1 with lemonade and fruit and cucumber, should, even the ones who dislike the taste of alcohol.

#377 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 05:04 AM:

#373:I'm sure there are any number of entities who would find Dick Cheney's soul quite a tasty tidbit indeed. So many, in fact, that there may be a considerable squabble over just who's going to get it, or whether they can share.

Oh, I think They got their hands* on it some time ago, and he's had a... replacement... in ever since, cf. Ser Branca Doria, in the Inferno, canto 33.

"For Ptolomea has this privilege:
quite frequently the soul falls here before
it has been thrust away by Atropos.

And that you may with much more willingness
scrape these glazed tears from off my face, know this:
as soon as any soul becomes a traitor,

as I was, then a demon takes its body
away- and keeps that body in his power
until its years have run their course completely.

The soul falls headlong, down into this cistern;
and up above, perhaps, there still appears
the body of the shade that winters here

behind me; you must know him, if you've just
come down; he is Ser Branca Doria;
for many years he has been thus pent up."

I said to him: "I think that you deceive me,
for Branca Doria is not yet dead;
he eats and drinks and sleeps and puts on clothes."

"There in the Malebranche's ditch above,
where sticky pitch boils up, Michele Zanche
had still not come," he said to me, "when this one-

together with a kinsman, who had done
the treachery together with him-left
a devil in his stead inside his body."


*For certain values of "hands".

#378 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Serge 350: Not really. The biggest problem these days is that they could have come from somewhere where the level of contaminants is very high. I don't eat raw seafood anymore, not even seviche, unless I know exactly where it originates from.

On the other hand, raw oysters make me sick to my stomach because I can't stand their texture...

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 10:08 AM:

Emma @ 378... The texture of raw oysters is rather disgusting.

#380 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 11:15 AM:

I'm another of those folks who really dislike the smell of alcohol (beer's not so bad, but I only drink non-alcoholic -- infrequently, in warm weather). My nose *does* seem to be oversensitive, except when totally stuffed up.

For utter "ick" factor, I'd still choose cucumbers. Essence of cleaning fluid, to me. (And coleslaw smells like something rotting, though I like raw cabbage well enough.)

Yes, tastes can change over time. I wonder if a switch from liking totally sweet to at least partly sour/bitter is a natural thing for most folks, and also if ethnicity has more to do with taste preferences than just a matter of nurture and familiarity. I'm a wimp when it comes to the highly spiced, and even prefer my pumpkin pie bland, as long as the texture is right.

#381 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 11:39 AM:

I have a few Puerto Rican relatives, and apparently it takes a couple years for kids to get used to spicier food. It may be somewhat genetic, but I think familiarity has more to do with it.

I don't eat cooked carrots unless they're in something like soup, and squash is... ew. Squishy orange foods are not good for me. Spicy food doesn't *taste*, it just hurts, and texture is very important. Chewing gum, oatmeal, celery, all are wrong-feeling.

I'm one of those who approaches food as a control thing, to a great extent, which I think is part of why I liked my food homogenous and reliable for years before I started making it myself. It's not enough that I have a sandwich, it should be the same sandwich I've had before, because I know and trust that one. Doesn't have to be *good*, just has to be what I expected. I'm a little more adventurous with food I make myself, because I know what goes into it.

#382 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 11:50 AM:

Serge @ #379 -

Icky joke follows:

A man walks into a bar and sees a gelatinous blobby thing floating in a jar of water. Sign on the jar says, "If you can keep this oyster down, you get $100".

He accepts the offer, fishes out the oyster, and swallows it. He tells the bartender. "I'll take that money now. I don't see what's so hard about that. I've got no trouble keeping it down."

The bartender says, "That's funny. The last ten people who tried couldn't."

BARF

#383 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 12:02 PM:

I can vouch for familiarity improving one's taste for hot/spicy food, because that's another thing I came to as an adult -- my mother was a bland Southern cook, cooking for my even-blander Midwestern father, so our "spice cabinet" was limited to salt (used in everything), black pepper (used sparingly), poultry seasoning (used twice a year), and cinnamon-sugar (used on toast). Spices in general were a revelation to me, and hot stuff was something I had to work up to gradually. I can remember when the salsa at El Chico was all the hot I could manage; now I could drink it by the glassful.

#384 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Faren Miller (380): I wonder if a switch from liking totally sweet to at least partly sour/bitter is a natural thing for most folks

Interesting. If so, I'm an exception. My tastes haven't changed all that much since I was twelve, although I am now more willing to try new things, and I no longer like sugary breakfast cereal.

During the course of this discussion, it has dawned on me that I have a strong dislike of bitterness and am not too fond of sour, either. Except that I do like grapefruit, and prefer the yellow kind to the sweeter pink (and did even at twelve).

A lot of times (not in this thread), 'acquired taste' comes across to me as code for snobbery--"I'm more sophisticated than you are because I like this and you don't."

#385 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 04:54 PM:

Does anyone know where one can buy a decent lambic in Manhattan? (Not Lindemann's, please).

Also, I'm wondering what other taste enhancer/suppressors are out there to be discovered other than MSG and Miraculin (from miracle fruit). I think it would be very interesting if we could find a bitter-suppressor (not to mention that Starbucks would be buying it by ton lots).

#386 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Malthus @ 385: Check Whole Foods - my local one usually has at least 2 non-Lindemann lambics, if not more.

#387 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Lambic? [*]

#388 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 07:02 PM:

Well, of course you don't want Lindemann's. That's a dactyl.

#389 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Xopher @ 387:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/03/dining/03beer.html is a good explanation of lambics including specific recommendations.

They're wheat beers, usually with fruit. There are sweet versions (including very sweet, like the Lindemann's that Malthus doesn't want) and dry versions.

Sweet lambics, especially Lindemann's Framboise, are a common "I don't like beer" beer.

#390 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 07:15 PM:

Thanks, lorax.

#391 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 11:09 PM:

Huh. Now I'm wondering if I'm a supertaster. The list of foods supertasters don't like reads like my special hate list of foods. When my doctor suggested I start drinking green tea, it took me nearly six months to find a blend I could tolerate - and I still don't like it. Pretty much all of my special food loves are very bland to other people, and I do have trouble getting a good variety of vegetables because most of them taste horrible.

I can taste alcohol through anything, even in tiny amounts. Up until I've had three drinks, whereupon I can't taste it anymore and my drink repetoire expands dramatically. Before then it's sweet, high volume, low alcohol drinks, where I tolerate the alcohol because the rest of the drink is so damn good. Sabra in hot chocolate, Baily's and Chambord in milk; that sort of thing.

American beer still sucks even as the last stop at a 'Round the World party. I can't see how anybody stands it.

#392 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 02:55 AM:

...and tonight we discover why cheap brandy is cheap.

Blech.

#393 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 04:16 AM:

Sam Kelly, #388: Ba-dum CHING!!!

#394 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 04:37 AM:

IIRC there's something in artichokes (cynarin?) that makes other stuff taste sweet afterwards.

I still remain vaguely incredulous that I came to actually like cilantro, having loathed it when growing up; at some point I noticed that hot peppers masked off most of the soapiness, became more willing to eat it in that combination, and then one day realized that it didn't taste soapy at all to me anymore. There are a couple of other foods which I also hated as an urchin but somehow like now (olives, lamb), but I don't remember the transition for those.

#395 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 05:49 AM:

Sam Kelly, #388: Ba-dum CHING!!!

Which reminds me of a joke I was told the other day:

An anapaest walks into a bar.

Ba-dum CHING!!!

#396 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 12:39 PM:

Julie L. #394: I also don't taste any soapiness in cilantro. I taste death, decay, and rot.

#397 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2007, 01:35 AM:

The worst American beer I can think of is a dead heat between Buckhorn and Texas Pride, which, a few decades ago, shared the singular benefit of costing only 99 cents per six-pack.

#398 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Fill in the blanks as the fancy takes you:


Three beer company reps walk into a bar. The [beer] rep orders a [beer]. The [beer2] rep orders a [beer2]. The [beer3] rep stands there silently, a thoughtful frown on his face.

"Come on," says the [beer2] rep. "Ain't you going to have a beer?"

"Well," says the [beer3] rep. "I was going to, but if you two are sticking to funny-colored water I guess I'll have a [soda]."

#399 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 05:52 PM:

Recently sighted fruity girly drink: the Berry Fairy. Stoli, Razzmatazz, and the chalkboard said sour mix, but I swear the bartender just hit it with Sprite; shaken to mix, then another splash of Sprite. (Unless the soda gun also dispenses sour mix?)

Not unlike a berry alcopop, but stronger, and sufficient to dissolve the barrier between me and the dance floor.

#400 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2007, 05:33 AM:

just had my first (and second) hendrick's gin & tonic last night, and I remembered this thread. it's delightful! refreshing and sneakily strong. and I admit, I did get a kick out of having a slice of cucumber in my glass ;)

#401 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 01:03 AM:

A report from the unfortunate Bugaboo Creek Steak House in Nashua, New Hampshire, where I dined this last Thursday night.

The place seems to be an ... well, you know the Outback Steak House chain? Australian theme? This place has a Canadian theme. Only without any poutine anywhere on the menu. The decor includes snowshoes, an audio-anamatronic skunk, and a talking buffalo head.

Anyway... I order a Gibson, as is my wont. The nice young lady goes off to fetch the same, and returns with a martini glass with naught but clear fluid in it. "The bartender doesn't have any onions," she says. "I hope you don't mind."

I was gracious. But the bartender used too much vermouth, too.

#403 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 09:09 PM:

I followed a link from cnn.com to Mixing the perfect martini, where (to my astonishment) I found a lunatic advocating leaving out the vermouth and the olives entirely. Yes, he is genuinely advocating drinking straight gin.

But what do you expect from someone who doesn't know the difference between surface tension and surface area?

#404 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2011, 09:27 PM:

I've seen people drink straight gin, but most of them learned to drink during Prohibition.

#405 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 12:46 AM:

James D. Macdonald: Yes, he is genuinely advocating drinking straight gin.

To be fair, he implicitly advocates a lemon twist, which is an authorized (and, with some gins, superior) alternative to an olive. And good enough gin, of the floral rather than astringent variety, is pretty good straight.

Calling it a martini is utterly wrong, though. And custom garnishes are worth exploring, but... raspberries and peaches? No. Try a cucumber slice with Hendricks instead.

#406 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 01:31 AM:

Bombay Sapphire, Boodles, and one other (a genever rather than a simple gin) are ones I've drunk straight -- and they weren't bad.

#407 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2011, 02:06 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 411: I haven't found anything that mixes successfully with genever except Angostura bitters. White wine isn't too bad... but not really worth it.

#408 ::: Cadbury Moose agrees it's spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2011, 08:08 AM:

Same MO in each case, the "Bio" section of the profile page contains three advertising links.

#409 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 03:14 PM:

A few drops of gin? Jesus dude, why not just be honest with yourself and order a glass of chilled gin. A good cocktail should have balance and an interesting set of flavors. What you have described is basically two shots of chilled gin, which not only sounds unappealing but also sounds like a lousy excuse for a cocktail. Gin is great in a nice cocktail but you're basically just advocating drinking a glass of cold gin.

#410 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 04:00 PM:

Alex illustrates the difference between dry and drive-by.

Never had a dry martini, have you, Alex? Or maybe you missed the mid-1960s, when the aesthetic of the martini was to make them so dry (that is, with so little vermouth) that there were JOKES about it. "Just whisper 'vermouth' over the shaker," says the patron, and after tasting the result glares and says "Loudmouth!"

#411 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 04:18 PM:

I am always bemused where the self-aggrandizing commentariat of the internet fetch up. First time I've ever seen someone use a four year old thread on drinks as a dominance game.

#412 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 04:28 PM:

Also, abi, Alex wrote 'gin' where he meant 'vermouth'. While I'm sure that was a wrong-word error, I will snipe that not knowing the difference doesn't tend to lead to good martinis!

#413 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 05:04 PM:

And here I thought Alex was just an incompetent spammer who forgot to link hir name to hir junkheap of a website.

#414 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 06:19 PM:

Syd: Naah, Alex may be waving his gin bottle, but that actually was an on-topic contribution.

#415 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:02 PM:

Actually, in true fact, when I make Gibsons (or martinis), I personally use a Whole Lot of Vermouth. (Folks who have been to Viable Paradise and have sampled same keep saying stuff like "That's the best martini I ever had!" and the reason is, it's two shots of gin to a half-shot of vermouth, shaken, with an onion or olive, as preferred.)

#416 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:25 PM:

Jim Macdonald #422: Tom Lehrer's formulation involves slightly different proportions. ("Heads full of youth/Heads full of truth/Three parts gin to one part vermouth.")

#417 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:41 PM:

Fragano, it's "Hearts" and "six". Slightly different sentiment, but VERY different martini!

#418 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 08:57 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue #424: Trust my memory to be fallible!

#419 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 09:12 PM:

The joke I heard was that you waved the cork from the vermouth bottle over the cocktail.

#420 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 09:47 PM:

Fragano, in fact fallibility is the only absolutely reliable trait I have!

#421 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 10:08 PM:

Well, there's Sir Alfred Hitchcock's martini recipe: Two jiggers of gin and a quick glance at a bottle of vermouth.

(The biggest problem with vermouth is that, once opened, you have to keep it refrigerated, lest it turn nasty, which it will.)

#422 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 10:47 PM:

Xopher @ 419... I will snipe that not knowing the difference doesn't tend to lead to good martinis!

"Vodka-martini."
"Shaken or stirred?"
"Do I look like I give a damn?"
- a cranky James Bond in 'Casino Royale'

#423 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 01:37 AM:

So Charles Dickens walks into a bar and asks for a martini.

And the bartender says, "Olive or twist?"

#424 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 02:23 AM:

That's an impressively untranslatable joke. (Emile Zola va dans un bar et commands un martini. Le garçon lui dit 'La Bête Humaine?'

#425 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 05:14 AM:

I think Jim has hoisted the gin pennant.

Cheers!

#426 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 02:54 PM:

"I've been thrown out of better bars."
- Ludwig von Beethoven

#427 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 04:09 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue #427: You'll be no better at poping than me, then.

#428 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 04:15 PM:

Perhaps not, Fragano, though either of us would be better than Joe Rat.

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