Read It and Drink: Spirits Edition

8 Sep


Probably best to drink after reading.

Probably best to drink after reading.


Who says print media is dead?  One cross country trip + one three day weekend = a whole lot of flying time to catch up on my reading.  Here’s a short list of my favorite recently published stories about spirits:

Beverages by the Bowlful
by Camper English
San Francisco Magazine

As evidenced by his blog Alcademics, an electronic temple to all things spirituous in San Francisco, Camper English is the go-to guy for 40 proof trendspotting. The latest in cool cocktails in the city by the bay? The punchbowl.  That’s right sharing (yes, everyone sips out of the same bowl) a giant mixed drink with five or six of your newest, closeset friends is all the rage at bars like Rickhouse, Elixir, and Rye.  Funny how a recession suddenly makes it fashionable to swap spit with strangers in public.

Yes, Yes, Yvette
by Robert Simonson
Imbibe Magazine

Crème Yvette is officially the Lazarus of liqueurs, which means Robert Cooper, “scion of the venerable Philadelphia-based Charles Jacquin et Cie liqueur company,” is cocktail Jesus.  Why?  Because Cooper, who also happens to be the inventor of St. Germain Elderflow liqueur, decided to revive the heretofore extinct purple potion because he became interested in defunct products that no one thought much of apparently (hence their abandonment).   Hmmm…. that seems like a good idea…  Whatever, here’s to more purple drinks!

A Peruvian Cocktail: Pisco-Sipping and Other Pleasures in The Land of the Incas
by John Briley
Washington Post

Living in San Francisco gives me tunnel vision sometimes.  Just when I’d gotten all cynical about Pisco — popping up as it has as a featured cocktail in every trendy bar and every restaurant with a “mixologist” on staff, even spawning its own eponymous watering hole here in the city — this great piece in The Washington Post’s Sunday Travel section reminds me that my parents’ admonition to me as an adolescent is as true now as it was then:  the whole world doesn’t revolve around me.  And, all it took was a single, simple phrase:   “if you haven’t heard of pisco sours, don’t feel ignorant.”  Oh, right.  Everyone else in America probably hasn’t been drowning in the Pisco Sours media blitz for the past six months, and they might find a little history of the drink and the place it was born pretty interesting, especially if it includes cameos by a Peruvian Woody Allen, bird poo, and the fact that one can apparently drink a half liter of Pisco and have no headache in the morning.  Good stuff.

How the West Was Drunk
by Wayne Curtis
The Atlantic

Until now I thought that the Sky Mall catalog was the only publication that could make me instantly covetous of things I had never before heard of and didn’t know I needed.  Then I read Wayne Curtis’s wonderful tale of Picon Punch, a traditional concoction of grenadine, club soda, a float of brandy, and Amer Picon, a bitter French aperitif.  Mr. Curtis finds the punch in Bakersfield, CA of all places, which was once a hub for Basque settlers, the main imbibers of this particular blend of juices and spirits.  His story of drinking first the modern version of Picon Punch, which is now made with Torani Amer, and then a homade version from an old rum bottle labeled with a Post-It note, is captivating. Not least for the mötely crue of drinkers Mr. Curtis describes, including a history professor, his wife, a  Basque immigrant whose first English words were “son of a bitch,” and an 89 year old retired sheepman.  The setting is a rundown bar in Bakersfield’s Hotel Noriega.  This place where drinks, culture, and life collide.  That’s where I want to be.  Now if I could only find some Amer Picon.  (Apparently it’s only available in France.)


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