Negative Feedback Loop?

I’m a little puzzled by one of the statements in David Hackett Fischer‘s conclusion to his The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History. On p. 249, he writes,

In a free market, individual responses to inflation commonly cause more inflation. Individual defenses against economic instability cause an economy to become more unstable.

This process might be called the irrationality of the market. It is so in the sense that it converts rational individual choices into collective results that are profoundly irrational. Far from being a benign or beneficent force, the market when left to itself is an unstable system that has repeatedly caused the disruption of social and economic systems in the past eight hundred years.

In a heavily footnoted text, this statement has no supporting citation, so it must be part of the common wisdom. But I must have missed that part of Econ 101.

Is this statement supportable? Is there evidence that this is the case? Or has every instance of “market instability” resulted in an over-correction by forces “outside” (or dominant players inside) the market?

Margarita, Won’t You Come to My Party?

For those interested in the recipe for the gallon of Margaritas which was consumed at my party yesterday, I used Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe from A Gallon of Margaritas by the Gallon. Below are the details on which tequila and triple sec were involved in this concoction.

A Gallon o’ Margaritas

Pour each ingredient in a gallon jug, then shake and refrigerate. To serve, wet the glass then roll in salt so that the outside rim is coated, then pour the Margarita over ice.

Hasta la Vista, Baby

We’re cancelling DirecTV service.

It’s been about a year since purchasing the HDTV and the associated DirecTV package. Meanwhile, our viewing of “normal” television fare has been steadily declining. We hardly ever watch anything live: we have other things to do with our time. And more often than not, the children are selecting shows from Netflix, YouTube, or the producer themselves, instead of from the previously recorded episodes of Sesame Street, Jake and the (cute little) Never Land Pirates, Little Bear, Wizards of Waverly Place, or whatnot.

In the interest of completeness, I’ve compiled a list of what we normally watch with any regularity, and where it can be found now that we’ve cut the downlink. The challenge now will be getting some of them off the Internet and on the big screen. Apple TV, perhaps? Boxee?

Did I mention it’s cheaper when you’re not paying for the umpteen channels of shit on the TV you don’t watch? People don’t care about “channels.” They care about shows.

How Stupid is the Mass Media?

Check out the headline on this article: CNN Poll: Still no front-runner in the battle for the GOP nomination.

Of course not, you stupid shit. They just started campaigning. It’s a [expletive and a half] horse race. Did you see the 137th Kentucky Derby last weekend? That was a fun two minutes. Shackleford started off well in front of the pack and led into the final stretch. But he didn’t win, did he? The favorite? He lost too. Animal Kingdom came up from 13th place to win.

Who the fuck cares who the front-runner is? It means nothing except bullshit headlines and cheap stories for the likes of you.

On the Julep

A dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.

The Mint Julep is rumored to have led to as many arguments over the nature of the drink as the Martini, if not more since it’s a Southern invention and we’re pugnacious folk. Also like the Martini, some recipes abandon the pretense that there’s more than spirit in the drink, most notably the following by Henry Watterson.

Pluck the mint gently from its bed, just as the dew of the evening is about to form upon it. Select the choicer sprigs only, but do not rinse them. Prepare the simple syrup and measure out a half-tumbler of whiskey. Pour the whiskey into a well-frosted silver cup, throw the other ingredients away and drink the whiskey.

Mr. Watterson’s recipe is humorous, much like the humor in glancing at the vermouth while pouring the gin, but the ceremony obvious in the first part of the recipe is typical.

Eric Felten tells an amusing account of Roosevelt v. Newett which serves to highlight that a julep is more than just the Mint Julep. It’s a whole class of drinks. Whereas a cocktail in simple form is any spirit, sugar, water, and bitters, the julep is any spirit, sugar, crushed or shaved ice, and lots of garnish. And sometimes without the spirit: It started in Persia as rose water, جلاب, then slowly evolved into a medicinal concoction in Europe, and on to something worth drinking in America. The recipes compiled at Webtender offer a nice sample of juleps, as does CocktailDB. What distinguishes a julep from a smash? Quantity. Details are to be found in Jerry Thomas’s How to Mix Drinks, David Wondrich’s Imbibe!, and a couple of tomes dedicated entirely to the Mint Julep.

You’ll want to watch Chris McMillian hold forth.

Mint Julep

  • mint
  • 1 tsp. fine sugar
  • splash of water
  • 2 oz. fine bourbon. All right, maybe 4 oz. It’s a hot day. Adjust the size of your glass as necessary.
  • ice
  • more ice

Build, with the care you used in holding your first child.

Gently, ever so gently, pluck 12 or so leaves from freshly cut sprigs of mint, and place in the bottom of your glass. Add one bar spoon of fine sugar and a splash of water. Press together gently — you’re not making a mojito — enough to dissolve the sugar in the water and distribute the mint oils around the glass.

Crush some ice. No, that’s not enough. Crush some more. Now crush it again. The bourbon will be cradled in this finely crushed ice.

Place a spoon in your glass, then pile the ice on top of the mint and sugar, leaving about a half inch free. Pour the bourbon over the ice and stir gently. A frost will form on the outside of the glass. Remove the spoon and add more ice. Slap a sprig of mint between your hands and add to the glass as garnish.

Enjoy. “They are, in fact, like the American ladies, irresistible.”

Dear Amtrak: Learn How to Price Your Service

Apparently you neglected to read my last letter, but with the fast approach of National Train Day and the increase in oil prices making your services slightly more competitive, I thought it might be helpful to bring up the topic again.

Your pricing skills suck. Are you intentionally trying to lose money and ridership?

Suppose that a family of four — or six — wanted to travel to Disney World from New York. This is a not uncommon occurrence, and provides the basis for over 250 flights per day by many airlines from more than five airports in the New York metropolitan area. The cost of air travel is currently going up, up, up due to some small upset over in the oil-producing regions, so where a seat on JetBlue from JFK to MCO would once have cost $50, it’s now between $100 and $150. This is an opportunity! And you’re missing it!

And you’re missing it in a big way. Look, I understand that it takes capital to improve infrastructure, and that you’re hobbled by riding on tracks owned by others, but it’s almost like you’ve intentionally set your prices to encourage folks to drive. For me to take a family of six to Disney World by plane costs almost as much as staying in one of Disney’s “moderate” resorts and going to all of the parks every day of my visit, so I, and many others, might be looking for a slightly less wallet-reducing option. And the first thing that comes to mind is driving. But who wants to drive the first 24 hours of their vacation? Or, who wants to spend three days driving, two days there, and three days driving back? No one. But the other option is too expensive. Buses? Ha! That’s worse than driving, especially with little kids. How about the train?

This is where you’re completely missing the opportunity. The cost per seat from, for example, New York Penn Station to Orlando is $106 per person for a 21 hour trip. That’s slightly cheaper than the more expensive JetBlue seat, but you forget the time differential. Time is, after all, money, which is why travelers choose to fly on JetBlue for 2 hours for $150 instead of suffer on Amtrak for 21 hours for $106. You need to take your utter inability to get anywhere fast into account when pricing your service. And when you’re more expensive, even if only by $7, than the cheapest option, you completely lose. No one wants to pay more money for the privilege of getting somewhere slower.

Yet the cost of airfare gets worse as one moves away from hub airports. This is where you have an advantage. It costs less to feed from Poughkeepsie to New York and thence to Orlando than it does for JetBlue to fly direct from Newburgh to Orlando. In terms of convenience for me, I’d much rather leave from Poughkeepsie than from JFK. If you can get your prices down to something approaching the cost of gasoline plus a hotel room, you might have a fighting chance in earning my dollar. But then you totally destroy any opportunity you had with the sleeper options. $358 for a room for two people? $658 for a slightly larger one? What? You think you’re a hotel on Times Square? I’m just looking for a contained, flat place for my kids to lie down so that they don’t spend the night in the bar car.

You have two options: lower your prices, or build faster trains. Because we’re sure as Hell not going to pay $658 for two cots or $640 for uncomfortable seats when we could pay less than that on gas and a swank room at the Holiday Inn Express.

Dark and Stormy

First you should know that I am not from Bermuda. And while I once visited on a cruise, I drank only beer while I was there, so have no first-hand confirmation that the Dark and Stormy is, in fact, Bermuda‘s national drink.

Second, I now associate this drink with Spring because of Jeffrey Morganthaler’s post on the subject.

Third, I make it backwards, pouring in the rum after the ginger beer. Now it does look like storm clouds on the horizon.

Dark and Stormy

  • 4 oz. ginger beer
  • 2 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
  • Squeeze of a lime wedge. On second thought, make that 1/4 to 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice, to taste. Oh Hell, just garnish the damn thing with a huge wedge and let the drinker decide.

Build in a highball glass, ice, ginger beer, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with a lime wedge. Allow the recipient to stir if they so desire.

I also need to get some highball glasses.

Naval Stores

Until Firefox gets the hang of tracking paths through the browser history, I can’t quite say exactly who started this idea in motion, but I can say what did: an article on using one’s discarded Christmas tree in various dishes, which crossed my transom around about the same time as Imbibe Magazine‘s 2010 Christmas card, which features a cocktail called Walk in the Woods containing Zirbenz, a Swiss liqueur made from the fruit of the Arolla Stone Pine. I doubted that anyone else in the house would like to have their lunch garnished with fir, so why not use it to make a drink?

After removing the Douglas Fir from the house, I dismembered it to simplify handling, then moved it to the garage. It was a fairly warm day, as far as the days this January went, but I’d rather not work in a foot or more of snow. There it sat until this past Monday. I then removed some of the more fragrant needles from the branches and washed them. Yesterday I put a handful or so in a 16 oz. Mason jar. This covered the bottom of the jar to about a 2 inch depth. I then added Tito’s Handmade Vodka up to the 12 oz. mark, put the top on, and let it sit for 24 hours. The result was strained through cheese cloth into an empty Tuthilltown whiskey bottle.

Some experimentation might be needed to determine the optimal infusion time: the result is bitter. And it smells just like the tree. It’s too bitter to drink straight, so what’s to be done? A cocktail!

The Naval Stores Cocktail

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until cold, then strain into your favorite glass. Serve straight up, without garnish.

I was experimenting as I built this, so the first version was built in an old-fashioned glass, and only shaken to chill. Dissolve the sugar in the vodka infusion, then add rum and lime. Add ice to your shaker, then the liquids, and shake until cold. You might want to sweeten to taste.

(This one is much better than my first attempt at making a cocktail from scratch, so some folks should prepare to be drinking it.)

Uisge-beatha

To make Irish Usquebaugh; from Lord Capell‘s Receipt, when he was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

To every Gallon of French-Brandy, put one Ounce of Liquorice sliced, one Ounce of sweet Fennel-Seeds, one Ounce of Anniseeds, one Pound of Raisins of the Sun split and stoned, a quarter of a Pound of Figs split, two Drachms of Coriander-Seeds, let these infuse about eight or nine Days, and pour the Liquor clear off, then add half an Ounce of Saffron, in a Bag, for a Day or two, and when that is out, put in a Drachm of Musk. If when this Composition is made, it seems to be too high a Cordial for the Stomach, put to it more Brandy, till you reduce it to the Temper you like. This is the same Receipt King William had when he was in Ireland.

The recipe above is from The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director in the Management of a House, and the Delights and Profits of a Farm, by Richard Bradley (1736). I was looking for usquebaugh and ran across this recipe at A Collection of Civil War Alcoholic Drink Recipes at Civil War Interactive, which kindly noted the source was The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director, as reprinted in A Sip Through Time by Cindy Renfrow. I cannot attest to the quality of the recipe, but King William can.

You may notice that this concoction bears no relationship to a fine glass of Tullamore Dew other than that both contain alcohol. It’s a cordial, a medicinal water, the cure for what ails you.

(It might be a bit too absurd for some to drink a recipe mentioning King William III on Lá Fhéile Pádraig, given historical tensions. But one hopes that historical tensions can be put to rest in enjoyment of a fine beverage, regardless of its provenance.)

On the Matter of the National Popular Vote

I’m on Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail list because I haven’t unsubscribed yet. Today, the list sent me an e-mail about bills currently in the New York legislature to change how the State allocates its Electors. The bills under consideration in New York are A-489 and S-1820.

I don’t think their plea for me to contact my legislators had the result they intended.

New York is generally ignored during presidential campaigns because the results are too predictable. Why should the candidate of any party bother to stop here when it’s obvious that one of the candidates will win by a landslide?

New York is not the only State with this problem. Any State which allocates all of its Electors to the person winning a simple majority of the vote, and then proceeds to vote consistently for one party over another, loses influence. That State is now safe, reliable, the old girlfriend you turn to for brief satisfaction when the one you lust after pushes you away. Sure, she’s good for a screw, but who really cares what she thinks?

While I would like to see changes in how New York State allocates its Electors, I do not support the proposal to give our Electors to the candidate which wins a majority of the national popular vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (What? Puerto Rico and the Territories still don’t count? And you call yourself a democrat!) This particular effort is an attempt to ensure that the person who wins the Presidency is the person preferred by the majority of all voters, but didn’t gain much traction until the supposed wrong done to Mr. Albert Gore in 2000. Because the problem was obviously the system, and not our impatience.*

If we ignore historical curiousities that restricted the electorate, and assume that the voters expressed the Will of the People, it’s rare that the winner of the popular choice has lost the Presidency. There have been 56 elections under the present system. Of those 56, 4 were not won by the winner of the popular vote.** That’s only 7.14%.

I would prefer, instead, that New York allocate its Electors proportionately, rather than in the winner-take-all manner that it does now. And I would like for New York to use the so-called instant run-off ballot, which would allow voters to rank several candidates according to their preferences.

Continue reading On the Matter of the National Popular Vote

Whose Benefit?

The medical benefit plan I have requires payment of a certain sum before it begins paying a high percentage of the cost of prescriptions. This sum is called the deductible; it’s a sum uncovered by the insurance, deducted from the total expenses before consideration of payment. The policy term is one year, so the value resets every year.

The other day I had to purchase a prescribed drug. The pharmacy had a simple question for me: Did I want them to bill through the insurance company, or did I want to pay cash? If they billed through the insurance company, then the cost of the prescription would be applied to the deductible amount. If I paid cash, then the insurance company, not knowing of the cost, would not apply it to the deductible. One supposes that there’s a third option: to pay cash and then report the expense to the insurer.

This question came up because of a difference in the prices between the two methods: $300 more to bill the expense through the insurance company.

No, thank you. I’ll pay cash.

Bloody Mary is the … Girl I Love

Happy 3rd Birthday, No. 2 Son! Soon we’ll have the family over for a party in your honor, and they’ll be drinking some stuff you can’t, yet.

It must be my upbringing, but when I think of the Bloody Mary, I don’t think of the drink: I think of South Pacific.

So, what shall we have? Shall it be the recipe from Harry’s New York Bar in Paris? The one given by Ernest Hemingway? Some fancy concoction from the Employees Only cookbook? Or a variation using their common base: vodka, tomato, and citrus?

Harry’s Bloody Mary

In shaker or directly in large tumbler: ice, 6 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, 3 dashes of Tabasco, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, juice of ½ lemon, 2 ounces of vodka, fill remainder of glass with top-quality tomato juice, and above all no celery salt.Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails

Hemingway’s Bloody Mary

To make a pitcher of Bloody Marys (any smaller amount is worthless) take a good sized pitcher and put in it as big a lump of ice as it will hold. (This is to prevent too rapid melting and watering of our product.) Mix a pint of good russian vodka and an equal amount of chilled tomato juice. Add a table spoon full of Worcester Sauce. Lea and Perrins is usual but can use A1 or any good beef-steak sauce. Stirr. (with two rs) Then add a jigger of fresh squeezed lime juice. Stirr. Then add small amounts of celery salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper. Keep on stirring and taste it to see how it is doing. If you get it too powerful weaken with more tomato juice. If it lacks authority add more vodka. Some people like more lime than others. For combatting a really terrific hangover increase the amount of Worcester sauce – but don’t lose the lovely color. Keep drinking it yourself to see how it is doing. I introduced this drink to Hong Kong in 1941 and believe it did more than any other single factor except perhaps the Japanese Army to precipitate the fall of that Crown Colony. After you get the hang of it you can mix it so it will taste as though it had absolutely no alcohol of any kind in it and a glass of it will still have as much kick as a really good big martini. Whole trick is to keep it very cold and not let the ice water it down.Ernest Hemingway – Selected Letters, 1917-1961, from a letter to Bernard Peyton, April 5, 1947

Bloddy [sic] Mary

The name is intentionally misspelled because I seem to be unable to type two O’s in a row. In the jargon of my trade, it’s a Blod^Hody Mary.

Last night I dreamt that my grandfather on my mother’s side was about to reveal his secret recipe for a Bloody Mary, and then I woke. It would be a secret because, as far as I know, he did not drink. The recipe that follows is closer to Hemingway’s than to his.

Chill a pitcher, then fill halfway full with ice. Cut two whole tomatoes into large pieces, then puree. This should make approximately a pint of tomato juice. Add to the pitcher. Add one pint of vodka. Stir. Add 1 3/4 oz. lemon juice. Stir. Add 1 tablespoon of Worchestershire sauce. Stir. Add 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper. Stir. Add 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir. Grind fresh pepper over the pitcher, about five turns of the grinder. Stir. Wait for your guests.

Serve in a rocks glass, or a highball if you have it. Garnish with fresh pepper and a lemon wedge.

Spirits of Any Kind

Now that I have more than two bitters in the house, let us try something.

A cocktail is spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters. How about an Old-Fashioned with gin?

Gin, the Old-Fashioned Way

  • cube of sugar
  • splash of water
  • 3 dashes grapefruit bitters
  • 2 oz. gin

Build in an old-fashioned glass. Soak the sugar cube with the bitters and muddle with water. Add a cube of ice or two, then the gin. Stir and enjoy.

What Fashion of Gimlet Might This Be?

Having acquired an essential ingredient in the Deadrise, I find myself without another: the cucumber. Well, there’s nothing to it then but to make the necessary sacrifice and drink the result anyway.

Oh, this is good. This is very good. (And without the cucumber it does not give me gas!)

In the back of Speakeasy (Ten Speed Press, 2010) there is a recipe for lime cordial.

As I also do not have Kaffir lime leaves, this prompted the substitution given below.

Untitled

  • .75 oz. lime juice
  • .75 oz. agave syrup
  • 1.5 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters

In a mixing glass, stir well to combine the lime juice and agave syrup. Add the gin and bitters, then shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Harvest Punch

We typically host Christmas Day dinner at our house, after my brother-in-law and his wife host the Feast of the Seven Fishes at his. Christmas Day is a more subdued affair, with fewer guests, and more flexibility in the menu. This year we had turkey, and this year I thought I’d serve a punch.

Finding a punch recipe was harder than I thought it would be. There are so many options, and so many of the options require liqueurs and other ingredients that I don’t yet have in my cabinet. Some I considered were Philadelphia Fish House Punch, Garrick Club Punch, Planter’s Punch, Chatham Artillery Punch, and those in this month’s issue of Imbibe Magazine. I settled on this Harvest Punch from Mutineer Magazine. The picture is pretty.

The spirits in the recipe are the fine products of Philadelphia Distilling: Bluecoat Gin and Vieux Carré Absinthe Supérieure. Unfortunately, none of the shops around sells Vieux Carré, and the absinthe varieties they do have seem to insist on using artificial food colorings. I should have decided earlier; I could have ordered by mail. Fortunately, a nearby shop does sell Bluecoat Gin.

As a result of the lack of absinthe I substituted Romana Sambuca. The punch lost, I’m sure, some complexity, but I wouldn’t know: I’ve not had absinthe. I also left out the cranberry bitters.

I’ve reduced this to serve the eight adults at our Christmas dinner, and still had a quart left over. This recipe can be prepared in the punch bowl or in a mixing bowl beforehand. I used a mixing bowl. I did find that the cranberry in the punch is quite strong, and mellows substantially if it rests overnight.

Harvest Punch

  • 375 ml Bluecoat Gin
  • 4 oz Romana Sambuca
  • 4 oz lemon juice
  • 8 oz cranberry juice
  • 20 oz apple cider
  • 6 toasted cardamom pods
  • 2 toasted star anise
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 16 oz. sparkling water
  • 5 dashes Fee Brothers Cranberry bitters
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Mint sprigs
  • Orange wheels
  • 6 oz. cranberries

Freeze a thin layer of water and cranberries in a bundt pan, filling about a quarter of the pan.

Toast the cardamom pods and star anise over a medium flame. While waiting for them to toast, squeeze the lemons. In a larger mixing bowl, mix the confectioner’s sugar with the lemon juice until dissolved. Add the gin and sambuca, mix until thoroughly combined with the lemon juice and sugar, then add the remaining ingredients, save the sparkling water and the garnish. Stir well.

At this point you may wish to sample the punch to see if needs adjustment. Bear in mind that the punch will be diluted later by sparkling water and ice. I increased the apple cider ration from 16 oz. to 20 oz. to cut the bitterness of the cranberries.

Combine with sparkling water over ice in a punch bowl. Garnish with cranberries, orange wheels, and mint.

Egg Nog

Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s and Party Guide (64th Edition) (Warner Books, 1994) has this to say on the subject of egg nog.

Eggnog can be made from scratch, but since those recipes use raw eggs, which may carry the risk of salmonella poisoning, only recipes using commercially prepared eggnog are included here.

And so they have a whole section containing recipes which basically consist of “add [spirit] to any old egg nog you find in the store.” The current edition is somewhat better.

I like egg nog, but I find the commercial preparations to be far too thick and sweet for my taste these days. Besides there’s no fun in buying a quart of something and tossing some rum in it. This year, I’ll make my own.

There are two recipes that I’ve had my eye on. One, Bourbon Eggnog from Imbibe Magazine, I haven’t made yet. The other, Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Egg Nog, I made tonight. While this is the very first egg nog I’ve made from scratch, it’s also the best egg nog I’ve ever tasted.

Mr. Morgenthaler notes that his recipe serves two, so I halved it to serve one. I substituted half and half for the milk and cream because, according to the ingredients list on the half and half I have, it contains “Milk, Cream.”

Egg Nog

  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 oz. brandy
  • 1 oz. rum
  • 5 oz. Half and Half

Combine the half and half, brandy, rum, and nutmeg in a measuring glass. Beat the egg in a blender for one minute. Let the blender continue to run, and slowly add sugar. Wait a minute. Add the contents of the measuring glass and blend until combined. Set in the refrigerator to chill and to let the flavors combine. Serve in a coupe, a punch cup, or a old fashioned glass as suits the occasion. Garnish with grated nutmeg. The glass will determine, to an extent, the serving size.

If you’re bad at multiplication, you can also find this recipe in The New York Times, either on-line or in The Essential New York Times Cookbook, as Blender Eggnog.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Drink Cocktails

J. T. Dobbs at American Drink asks,

Is it a coincidence that on the heels of one of the worst economic crises since The Depression, artisan cocktails began making a huge comeback?

Actually, no, it’s not. It’s typical.

In The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History, David Hackett-Fischer observes that when the going gets tough, the tough get to drinking. Figure 4.24 on page 227 shows a remarkable correspondence between the rate of inflation and consumption of distilled liquor. As Mr. Hackett-Fischer notes in the caption,

[L]iquor consumption and drug use peaked when real incomes were falling rapidly, prices were surging and unemployment was increasing. A comparable surge in drinking (to the highest recorded levels in American history) occurred in similar circumstances during the climactic years of the eighteenth century price revolution. A long decline in alcohol consumption coincided with the Victorian equilibrium.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes data on expenditures on alcoholic beverages, and the Centers for Disease Control do the same for alcohol consumption. Historical data on alcohol consumption is a little harder to locate at the CDC than it is at the OECD. Both data sets lag by a few years.

Expenditures and consumption are not the same things, since price per unit of alcohol varies. Strangely, expenditures are falling, and have been. Consumption in the United States was decreasing from 1983 to 2000, but since 2001 is back on the increase. Since I’ve not noticed the prices dropping, purchasers are likely shifting consumption to cheaper products without reducing overall consumption. This could be either a switch from Dogfish Head to Budweiser, which I doubt, or from beer to distilled liquor, and, thus, cocktails.

A Martini

The Martini that most folks know, if they order a Martini in a bar, is between six and nine ounces of chilled vodka or gin, perhaps with the glass washed with vermouth. (Great! Three drinks for the price of one!) And depending on the vermouth being used this is perhaps a reasonable caution. However, it’s not a classic Martini: it’s a glass of [insert spirit here].

A lot of mixing drinks is taste, often opinionated taste. This is fine. One can even be snooty about it if one wants. I’ve found that each of the Martini variations I’ve tried has its own taste, some better than others, and its own rewards, such that the proportion I mix tends toward my preference of the moment. Tonight, to go with the Italian Wedding Soup my wife made, I stirred up a Sweet Martini, using Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Martini & Rossi Rosso, and Angostura Bitters.

Sweet Martini

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir in a mixing glass and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

The proportion here is 2:1 gin to vermouth. This is slightly less gin than called for in the CocktailDB recipe, but if one uses their scaling tool to adjust from a 4.5 oz. glass to a 4 oz. glass, one arrives at this ratio. I have a 4 oz. glass, but wasn’t considering that; I just like the taste at 2:1. Robert Hess, in the video below, uses 3:1. That’s also fine, if one prefers.

Last time I checked James Bond was an imaginary character. And I’m guessing that you probably stopped listening to imaginary characters in childhood. — Robert Hess

Deadrise

Over the summer Legal Sea Foods offered a cocktail they call the Deadrise.

Huh? What’s a deadrise? A fishy kind of zombie?

Nope. The deadrise is the angle between the bottom of a vessel and the horizontal in the transverse plane. The deadrise is also a kind of a boat used in the Chesapeake.

Legal Sea Foods’ Deadrise looks like this, and contains Belvedere vodka, cucumber, lime, and grapefruit bitters. They were quite willing to make a sample, which was tasty, but I asked that they substitute Hendrick’s Gin for the vodka.

Hmm, I thought, this is definitely a drink I want to make at home. But what’s the recipe? I suppose one could experiment, but not I. No, experimentation is for those without elite research skills. Someone, somewhere, had published this recipe, and I would find it.

Someone had: Blast Magazine, in their article “Six Light Drinks to Sip on This Summer” (July 20, 2010). Something about this recipe is not quite right, given these remarks about, and this interview with, their cocktail program manager, Patrick Sullivan. One wonders if it was altered for wider consumption; one must buy Fee’s grapefruit bitters and find out.

Deadrise

Ingredients

  • 3 slices of cucumber (with skin)
  • 1.5 oz lime cordial
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters

Method

Muddle cucumbers, lime cordial and salt in a mixing glass.
Add vodka, bitters and ice.
Top with a metal tin shaker and shake hard; strain into a martini glass.

Made today, the following were muddled, shaken, and strained as above.

  • 3 slices of cucumber (with skin)
  • 0.75 oz lime juice
  • 0.75 oz agave syrup
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1.5 oz Hendrick’s Gin
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters

Now that’s a remarkably close approximation of the drink I had at Legal’s.