Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In Which Suffering Is Touted As Pancea to Modern Ills

I often hear a lot of horseshit from people about being a misanthrope. I think they just misunderstand the dreamy glint in my eye when Deathpanels are mentioned. Also, I am frequently quoted to have said that I can't stand music which "features the sound of the human voice". Fine. While I'm not, as far as I know, in the running for next Ghandi, I'm not an inveterate hater of man. I think that people, deep at their core, probably have some worth of some kind or another. If pressed I'd say that were you to gather a group of fifty people at random, at least a handful of them leave the world in a maybe not better but perhaps not dramatically worse position for not being dead.

I am constantly radiating such magnanimity about the fundamental goodness of the human spirit, so I feel it's slightly unfair to label me a misanthrope. I AM, however, a strong advocate for Suffering. It seems obvious to me that one cannot achieve any meaningful measure of happiness without also experiencing a bracing dose of suffering to provide a frame of reference. How can you enjoy the warmth of the hearth without the chill of the elements? Or appreciate a finely made Negroni if you've never had one made with everclear and lingonberry syrup?

But how to make people embrace suffering? I've found the best way is to trick them into suffering against their will.
People Person
10 oz Carl Jeppson's Malort Liqueur (chilled)
12 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
2 oz Yuzu Simple Syrup*
2 packets Knox's Unflavored Gelatin
3-4 Grapefruits

Begin by taking a moment to consider how much of your morning you are willing to waste on a dumb gag that no one will really think is funny. In a rousing show of spirit, decide that you will spend all goddamn day if that is what it takes.

Put Malort in freezer. Halve the grapefruits. There was definitely a good way and a bad way to halve them, but I forget which was which. Scrape out the pulp, strain the juice out, and remove as much pith without piercing the outer peel. Heat up the juice and simple syrup, add the gelatin and stir to dissolve it. Remove from heat, add the malort and pour into the grapefruit halves. Put in the fridge for a long time, then cut up. Whammo!Feel good knowing that you will help people appreciate their next jello shot a lot more.

*There are two basic approaches to make Yuzu Simple Syrup -
1. Cut 3 or 4 Yuzu into sections, removing the pulp and seeds. Press the peel sections flat and using a very sharp knife, slice off as much of the white pith as possible. Mix 500 ml water with 500 gram sugar and heat in a sauce pan til melted. Add the trimmed yuzu peels and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Strain out peels and put on wax paper, allow to dry over night and you'll have candied yuzu peels for a fancy garnish. Allow syrup to cool before sealing, and keep perfumed syrup in fridge. This makes approx 750 ml syrup, but it's useful in Gin drinks which I know you like.
2. Don't bother, just make regular simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water. These are Malort Jello shots you're making, your not the next Jerry Thomas and no body cares if you used fancy sugar water...
If you aren't familiar with Jeppson's Malort, it is a wormwood flavored spirit that only exists in Chicago. It tastes like a grapefruit that a car peeled out on top of. It's sort of famous. Just google it so I don't have to insult your intelligence by rehashing things thousands of people have already written about.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Visions Of A Crimson Beyond

Though it's a sunny Friday afternoon, I unfortunately have some grim news to share. Several days ago while attempting to blog (read as - drinking in the basement at 10 am), I spilled a glass of Campari on the mouse. The mouse initially appeared to have survived, the red Intellimouse lights flickering on and off sporadically, like a trauma-shattered war vet. Upon clicking though, a thick ichor spurt from underneath the Right Mouse Button (RMB) and pointing functions ceased,  rendering further writing impossible.  Whatever enlightened discourse I was preparing was washed away utterly in a sticky, red tide; the same cruel God who deprived me of both a glass of Campari and my 5-year old Intellimouse has deprived you of ever reading those things.

Below, a pictorial rendering of the last moments of my Intellimouse.

Here's to You, Intellimouse. Maybe your scrollwheel is finally crumb-free in Heaven.

whisky, scotch, intellimouse, burial
Playing Minesweeper For All Eternity

1 oz cask strength Scotch
Sprinkle grated Nutmeg
1 Intellimouse, claimed before its time

Dig one small grave, sized for a trusted companion. Pour scotch, top with grated nutmeg, and set ablaze, and endure a moment of silence. Think about happier times, gleefully closing pop-up ads, endlessly scrolling excel documents. Know that Death hunts us all.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Vaulting onto the the World's Stage

As much as I enjoy toiling in near obscurity, I've decided that if I am ever going to get the free liquor samples I so desperately crave I need to up Reasonable Industries visibility in the Cocktail & Liquor blogging world. So behold, my entry for Mixology Monday . Ideally this will launch me to the twitter feeds of the world's Brand Ambassadors and Social Media Consultants, and the deluge of samples will begin (charity beings at home, Kelly @

This session, hosted by the fine folks at Booze Nerds, is themed around Resin. At the announcement I'm sure the Washington participants began eagerly scraping their bongs into shaker glasses while the native Oregonians visited the ceremonial Doug Fir each had planted upon birth. I, like most midwesterners, turned to the Bible.

Myrrh, which for me ranks below Gold but way above Frankincense, is a dried tree resin with a role in traditional medicine as a "tonic in dyspepsia[...], a stimulant to the mucous tissues". Tom's uses it in their ineffective toothpastes, and that bastion of cocktail ideas the Archaeological Institute of America suggests that it can be used as effective painkiller. In liquor, it is most famous as an ingredient in Fernet Branca and was historically mingled with wine to a vermouth like effect.

It dissolves quite readily in alcohol, adding a mysteriously oriental aroma and pleasant bitterness. Based on what ol Maude Grieve had to say, I found 1 gram mixed into 8 oz of wine seemed to be an adequate amount, but I am not a doctor and if you mix things that you don't know anything about with alcohol and then die it is your fault. A sort of zippy pinot gris worked well, or more accurately, was already open in the refrigerator and my girlfriend said it was okay if I used it for some stupid project.

The myrrh wine was paired up with New Deal Distillery's juniper-laden Gin #1, which fits the resin theme. Skinos Mastiha Liqueur rounds it out and adds a bit of sweetness. The principle flavoring in Skinos is mastic gum, another aromatic shrub resin which I would write more about but really how much can anyone read about this stuff in one sitting...The cocktail is along the lines of a martini in subtlety, without much for sweet or sour components which makes it a great apertif. A lesser man might have called it a 'Myrrh-tini', but I still have some modicum of dignity and self-respect.

The Cup Which Jesus Refused

1.5 oz Myrrh infused wine
.75 oz New Deal Gin #1
.75 oz Skinos Mastiha Liqueur
Soda water

Combine in shaker with ice, stir to lightly chill. Strain into glass and top with soda water.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In Which The Bounty of Asia is Alternatively Rejoiced and Reviled

The interminable grey slog of post-Summer has finally arrived in Portland, which apparently triggers depression in some percentage of Portlanders who are not already chronically depressed. I look forward to this time of year, because the whole of outdoors converts to the cool, dank, basement-like environment I prefer. However, there are still lots of things to be powerfully depressed about, like the pathetic state of America and also this really shitty burrito I had at The Original Taco House on Powell's which totally sucked. $11 for a Burrito? FUCK YOU. Margarett paid for it, but it still affected me emotionally.

Anyways, whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth and involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. For me, you can't get any closer to the sea than Fu-bonn Asian Supermarket. Much like The Ocean, Fu-bonn is replete with dark mysteries both enticing and terrifying (Bull Pizzle for $1.49/lb). Also, both smell like rotting fish guts. In the same way rich liberal parents recommend a semester abroad, I think Fu-bonn is a great reminder that the world is a giant place, full of things you don't understand. A trip to Fu-bonn allows you to experience every human emotion, from childish snickering (Fu-bonn's next door BBQ restaurant is called SokOngDong...), to wide-eyed wonder (how many people need a sack of 60 duck hearts), to stark existential terror (those 60 duck hearts came from 60 ducks!!!).

On a recent trip, I purchased the cleaver in the background. I found it in a pile of 30 or 40 unwrapped cleavers, which someone had obviously poured out of a box onto a shelf. It weighs 1.5lbs and has no practical purpose for me and I had never wanted a kitchen item more. It had no price tag (because it was in a pile of unwrapped cleavers), so after the check-out clerk squinted at me for 30 seconds I suggested that it was $12, and now I have a giant cleaver. If only everything in Life was that easy.

The beverage section of Fu-Bonn is always an education. For the unfamiliar, 'Bird's Nest' is the euphemistic term for the salivary excretions of the Chinese swiftlet. White Fungus is some kind of jelly mushroom, which the wonderful people at Wonderfarm added to enhance the sensation that you are gagging down congealed mucus. It glugs out of the can as a viscous syrup, rich with mystery and also weird floating bits. The nose is a treacly sweet, unplaceable vanilla something or other. A closer inspection revealed the drink also contains the alarmingly named 'thickener 466', 'synthetic flavor', and 'synthetic sweeter 950'. Alarming to think that while American food scientists are struggling away with their 'natural flavors', the Vietnamese have cracked it, going straight to the source and manufacturing pure Flavor AND Sweetness. Also, based on how this tastes I shudder to imagine tasting synthetic sweeter 1 through 949.

Anyways, after a sip of this I desperately needed a drink, and also I had a whole open can of this.
Mystery At The Expense Of Health

1.5 oz Gin
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Wonderfarm White Fungus Bird's Nest Drink

Shake all ingredients over ice. Serve to an unsuspecting girlfriend, then when she says 'ooooh, what is this?' cackle maniacally and produce the can of Wonderfarm White Fungus Bird's Nest Drink. Call her a philistine when she won't drink it and makes a martini instead. Moodily chop up a parsnip with your new cleaver while feeling unappreciated.

I additionally got a can of Foco's Aloe Vera Drink in the 'Muscat Flavor'. Despite the less esoteric ingredients, this was also a cloyingly sweet drink with viscous gobs floating in it. I liked it marginally more for the grape flavor, and marginally less because it didn't have any bird saliva in it.

This was supposed to be the same as above to highlight the difference in flavor between aloe vera and bird's nest, and the difference in gelatiniinity between white fungus and muscat grape, but I added an egg to this one because I was headed out the door right after and had skipped breakfast. I added soda also because it was distressingly thick.

More Viscosity Than I Required

1 Whole Egg (fresh)
1/2 Lemon
1.5 oz Gin
2 oz Foco Aloe Vera Drink Muscat Flavour

Soda Water to Fill

Take all ingredients and make into cocktail of some kind. Live Free Or Don't.