Letter of Recommendation: Drinking at Lunch Is A Good Thing

Bringing In the New Cheer
Bringing In the New Cheer

Adam Sternbergh of The New York Times reports on a topic dear to my heart:

I may be wrong, but my hunch is that, when you go out for lunch with colleagues or even just office friends, you don’t order a martini, let alone three. I’ll wager you don’t order a beer, a glass of wine or a brandy-soaked cherries jubilee. That’s because, a few decades after the heyday of the notorious “three-martini lunch,” the act of ordering even one measly martini with your lunch on a workday is viewed as roughly equivalent to pulling out your heroin works and splaying them on the table between courses.

Would it surprise you to learn that the three-martini lunch was once such a staple of the American workday that it was celebrated by the former President Gerald Ford in 1978? Addressing the National Restaurant Association, Ford called the practice “the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?” The three-martini lunch may be remembered as an anachronistic ritual during which backslapping company men escaped a swallowing sense of existential pointlessness. But Ford’s joke about efficiency ironically suggests exactly why the martini-at-lunch disappeared: not because of some renewed sense of temperance but because of our ascendant obsession with cramming every minute of our day with work.

When the Italian brewer Birra Moretti commissioned a poll in 2011 on daytime drinking habits among American workers, it found that, whereas nearly half of Italians reported they were “inclined” to have a drink with lunch, only 20 percent of Americans reported the same inclination.

This might explain how we’ve arrived at this improbable moment when microdosing LSD in order to increase workplace productivity is, in some precincts, more professionally acceptable than having a glass of wine. But it’s not LSD that has replaced our midday cocktails; it’s that other modern intoxicant: productivity.

(click here to continue reading Letter of Recommendation: Drinking at Lunch – The New York Times.)

Classic Martini  Hendrick s
Classic Martini – Hendrick’s

As someone who has been self-employed for a while, I don’t have a compunction about day drinking, when appropriate. If I’m meeting a prospective new client, and they are open to having a glass of wine with lunch, I’ll join them, but I won’t be the first to order it. However, if I’m the one being wooed by a prospective new business associate, wine with lunch is absolutely encouraged, or beer if sushi is on the menu. If I’m lunching with associates I already know, or eating to brainstorm, or similar kinds of “working lunches”, again, having a glass or two1 of something is absolutely encouraged. Some meals, I prefer the dose of caffeine of a good green tea, but often will also order an alcoholic beverage for after. 

21st C.E. Americans are weird though. This nation was founded on strong ale, cider, and eventually rye whiskey2 – we should not be adverse to having a tipple in the middle of the day.

Vieux Carré with Armagnac and Few Rye
Vieux Carré with Armagnac and Few Rye

Drinking like Don Draper is not required, you should still be able to go back to work after your meal and not end up on a three day bender.

Martini Hour
Martini Hour

  1. never more []
  2. look up your early American history, if you’ve forgotten []

Lemon Daiquiri was uploaded to Flickr

2 oz rum, .75 oz Simple Syrup (made with Demerara Sugar), .75 oz of lemon squeeze. Mint garnish.

Refreshing summer libation…

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I took Lemon Daiquiri on July 07, 2014 at 06:58PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2014 at 12:02AM

Templeton Rye Old Fashioned with mashed cherries was uploaded to Flickr

Rainier cherries, to be precise. 2 ozs of Templeton Rye poured over a mash of Angostura Bitters, sugar and 4 (pitted) cherries. Mashing the cherries with a muddler turned the whiskey reddish, and delicious.

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I took Templeton Rye Old Fashioned with mashed cherries on June 22, 2014 at 02:43PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 22, 2014 at 09:26PM

Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange Liquer was uploaded to Flickr

I need a better name for this, suggestions?

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I took Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange Liquer on May 16, 2014 at 10:32PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 17, 2014 at 03:35AM

The Monkey Gland Cocktail was uploaded to Flickr

Orange Juice, Gin, Grenadine, and Absinthe.

recipe as described in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.

When I make this again, I’ll reduce the amount of absinthe.

Per Wikipedia:The Monkey Gland was created in the 1920s by Harry MacElhone, owner of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France


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I took The Monkey Gland Cocktail on June 08, 2014 at 09:04PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 09, 2014 at 02:10AM

Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange was uploaded to Flickr

I need a better name for this, suggestions?

embiggen by clicking

I took Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange on May 16, 2014 at 10:32PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 17, 2014 at 03:35AM

Blood and Sand with Meyer Lemon was uploaded to Flickr

Ted Haigh’s recipe calls for orange.

From the 1st edition:

fresh squeezed orange juice (I substituted Meyer Lemon)
Cherry Heering
Rosso Vermouth

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I took Blood and Sand with Meyer Lemon on March 15, 2014 at 05:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 15, 2014 at 10:59PM

Buffalo Trace Bourbon – cocktail with muddled mint, orange bitters, Bonal Gentiane Quina was uploaded to Flickr

Not sure exactly to call this, close to a Manhattan, but not quite. Mainly due to the muddled mint, and because I used more bourbon than a Manhattan would call for.

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I took Buffalo Trace Bourbon – cocktail with muddled mint, orange bitters, Bonal Gentiane Quina on February 19, 2014 at 07:24PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 20, 2014 at 01:30AM

Beam Inc. being bought by Suntory

Mmm Crunchy Chicago Dogs
Mmm Crunchy Chicago Dogs

Does this mean that Maker’s Mark Whisky will become Maker’s Mark Whiskey?

Suntory Holdings Ltd has agreed a $16 billion deal to buy Deerfield’s Beam Inc, making the Japanese company the world’s third-largest maker of distilled drinks with a global footprint.

The company is paying $13.6 billion in cash for Beam shares as well as assuming its net debt, bringing together Beam’s Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbons, Courvoisier cognac and Sauza tequila with Suntory’s Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki and Kakubin Japanese whiskies, Bowmore Scotch whisky and Midori liqueur.

Suntory said on Monday it will pay $83.50 per share in cash, a 25 percent premium to Beam’s closing share price of $66.97 on Friday. Beam shares jumped 24 percent to $83.27 on Monday.

The price is more than 20 times Beam’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), a multiple that comes close to the record 20.8 times EBITDA Pernod Ricard paid in 2008 for the maker of Absolut vodka.


Suntory and Beam already have a business relationship under which Suntory distributes Beam products in Japan and Beam distributes Suntory’s products in Singapore and other Asian markets.

(click here to continue reading Beam Inc. being bought by Suntory – chicagotribune.com.)

Maybe now Maker’s Mark will stop trying to futz with their alcohol content to sell more product of a lesser quality…

remember this?

Maker's Mark - a collectors edition?
Maker’s Mark – a collectors edition?

90 Proof Whisky without an E a thing of the past?


Maker’s Mark announced it is reducing the amount of alcohol in the spirit to keep pace with rapidly increasing consumer demand.

In an email to its fans, representatives of the brand said the entire bourbon category is “exploding” and demand for Maker’s Mark is growing even faster. Some customers have even reported empty shelves in their local stores, it said.

After looking at “all possible solutions,” the total alcohol by volume of Maker’s Mark is being reduced by 3 percent. Representatives said the change will allow it to maintain the same taste while making sure there’s “enough Maker’s Mark to go around.” It’s working to expand its distillery and production capacity, too.

Bonus: via Lost in Translation

The Derby

The DerbyThe Derby, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Via Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.


Original calls for bourbon, but I didn’t have any, so substituted rye whiskey (which I prefer), and slightly lowered the amount of lime juice.

Original recipe is basically:


1 ounce bourbon whiskey

1/2 ounce sweet vermouth

1/2 ounce orange curaçao

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

1 lime wedge, for garnish

1 mint leaf, for garnish

but as I said, I lowered the amount of lime this time, and like it better. (I keep notes on cocktails, b/c I’m weird like that).

Also, I’ve yet to ever attend a horse race, but maybe this will be the year!

It turns out that this cocktail is perfect for a hot, muggy day. My notes indicate I made this first in January, using the recipe just as described, and that I was underwhelmed. Reducing the lime, substituting rye for bourbon, and drinking on a hot day transforms this libation into something quite delicious.

A Birthday Toast to Scotland’s Bard

Rabbie Burns Cocktail
my attempt at making a Rabbie Burns aka Robert Burns cocktail…


The peculiar habit among Americans to call Burns “Bobby” (or “Bobbie”) has long been an object of derision. Ogden Nash proclaimed in the New Yorker: “That hero my allegiance earns/Who boldly speaks of Robert Burns.” His 1951 poem “Everything’s Haggis in Hoboken” lampoons “coy and cute” faux-Scots who “turn all doch-an-dorris” at the mention of Burns. “I have an inexpensive hobby,” Nash wrote, “Simply not to call him Bobby.” Noting that he would no more speak of Tommy Hardy or Bernie Shaw, Nash penned this indelible couplet: “And I yearn to shatter a set of crockery/On this condescending Bobbie-sockery.” Nash liked a drink, but he wouldn’t have dreamed of ordering a Bobby Burns.

In the U.K., the problematic diminutive isn’t Bobbie, but “Rabbie.” Many Burnsians take it as a mark of the neophyte or poseur when they hear someone praise dear old “Rabbie.” Others get downright offended. Cranky Glaswegian politician John S. Clarke wrote in 1925: “To refer to Burns as ‘Rabbie’ at this stage in world history is a piece of disgusting insolence.” I quail to think what Clarke would have said of the Bobby Burns cocktail.

The drink makes one of its first appearances in the 1930 “Savoy Cocktail Book,” published in London. The cocktail is called the Bobby Burns, and is made with Scotch, sweet vermouth and a bit of Benedictine. But that may not be the original Burns Cocktail. “Old Waldorf Bar Days” was published in 1931, but its recipes were those served at the Waldorf Hotel before Prohibition. The book includes not a Bobby Burns but a more formally titled Robert Burns. (The author, Albert Stevens Crockett, isn’t sure whether the drink was christened for the famous poet or for a local cigar salesman of the same name.) Instead of adding Benedictine to the Scotch and vermouth, the Waldorf’s Robert Burns cocktail calls for a dash of absinthe.

Further complicating matters, the Burns hasn’t always stuck to Benedictine or absinthe. Kingsley Amis, in his book “Every Day Drinking,” stated that “Bobbie Burns” cocktails were to be made of Scotch, vermouth and Drambuie. He had good reason for this recommendation: David Embury, author of the indispensable 1948 “Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” defines a Bobbie Burns cocktail as a “Rob Roy with the addition of 1 dash of Drambuie.” Embury notes that “Benedictine is sometimes used in place of Drambuie,” but he says that “Drambuie is preferable because it is made with a Scotch whisky base.”

Embury also suggests adding a dash of Peychaud’s bitters to the mix. I’m not so sure about the Peychaud’s, but I do prefer the drink made with Drambuie. You may disagree — it’s worth trying the Burns cocktail all three ways to find out how you like it best.

(click here to continue reading A Birthday Toast to Scotland’s Bard – WSJ.com.)

For the record, I tried all three (using only 1 oz of Scotch, and other ingredients proportionately adjusted), and liked the Benedictine version best, the Drambuie variant second best, and the Absinthe version was a bit overpowered by the Absinthe. Final verdict was: worth trying if you want to drink a Scotch cocktail. I’ve had this bottle of Dewar’s White Label for a long, long time, might as well drink it up, and celebrate the poet.

Burns, in common with many other great figures in history, did indeed have a colorful and eventful life during his 37 short years upon this earth, his early demise due in no small part to the doctors of the time who believed that standing immersed in the freezing waters of the Soiway Firth would benefit his failing health.

But his lifestyle is not the reason for his everlasting fame. That is due simply to the wonderful legacy of poems and songs that he left to the world, and which most certainly deserve to be read more than once a year.

Robert Burns was a man of vision. He believed absolutely in the equality of man, irrespective of privilege of rank or title. He detested cruelty and loved the gifts of nature.

It is undeniable that Burns liked the company of women, but what is not generally recognised is that he was a strong advocate of women’s rights, at a time when few men were.

He despised false piety and consequently was unpopular with the church as he mocked their preachers mercilessly.

I have, however, heard an eloquent Church of Scotland minister describe some lines from the Bard’s works as being no less than modern proverbs, and it is difficult to disagree with that statement when one considers the depth of meaning in some of the words that Burns wrote.

‘The best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft agley!’

‘Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!’

‘O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!’

‘An honest man’s the noblest work of God!”

The works of Robert Burns are indeed full of wisdom!

Burns’ poems and songs are wonderful to read, but as many are composed in what is virtually a foreign language to the bulk of English speakers, they can be heavy going to the non-Scot, or non-Scots speaker.

This book contains a varied selection of Burns’ works, some well known, others less so.

(click here to continue reading Understanding Robert Burns.)

Drinking Like a Poet

Earlier today…

Rabbie Burns Cocktail

1 one-inch strip of orange peel

1 1/2 ounces Dewar’s White Label

1/2 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth

3 dashes Bénédictine.

Rub the rim of a cocktail glass with the orange peel. Shake the other ingredients in a glass with ice. Strain into the cocktail glass and garnish with the reserved peel.

Drinking Like a Poet

Republished at Bourbon: the Exclusive Whiskey of the United States

Bulleit Bourbon Frontier whiskey

My photo was used to illustrate this post

Bourbon is a uniquely American distillation of whiskey named after the region of Kentucky that perfected the process. Photo by Swanksalot (flickr).
Bourbon is a subtype of whiskey. For whiskey to be bourbon whiskey, it must be distilled from a grain base of at least 51% corn. More importantly, it must also be made in the United States.

click here to view:
Bourbon: the Exclusive Whiskey of the United States

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Farmer’s Gin

Farmer's Gin

Organic botanical gin, at that. Hadn’t heard of this before yesterday’s sojourn to Whole Foods, but I like it.

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: John S
Flash: Off
Film: Ina’s 1935

in this age of everything artisanal and organic, you now have Farmer’s Gin. It’s a small-batch production from the people who make Crop Harvest Earth organic vodkas, based on grains from organic farms in the upper Midwest and infused with classy herbs like elderflower, lemon grass and angelica, besides the required juniper.

It’s fragrant, a bit floral and not as bone-dry and piney as a typical London gin. You might spike lemonade with it, and appreciate the 93.4 proof. I like it neat, on the rocks, with a generous squirt of lime

Via Florence Fabricant of The New York Times.

Actually, after I took this photo, I added a splash of Vya red Vermouth

bonus: Onion video that caused a bit of a ruckus at the Chicago Tribune, and got Chief Innovation Office Lee Abrams suspended:
VH1 Reality Show Bus Crashes In California Causing Major Slut Spill

Day 5

Today is Day Five of my annual detox1 — the goal is to totally eschew alcohol, all grains with the exception of brown rice, breads, pastas, sugars, dairy, and even legumes. Mostly subsist upon fruit, vegetables and eggs. And lots and lots of black coffee. I’m also taking a sauna every day for about 30 minutes, and trying to get more than 6 hours of sleep. I’ve been too busy this week2 to really exercise, hopefully by next week I’ll be able to get in 30 minutes of cardio or more a day.

Still life with coconut

There are herbal supplements that are part of the detox, these I’m less convinced are effective, but they don’t hurt, and actually quiet my stomach’s rumbling on occasion.

My typical diet consists largely of fruits and vegetables already, but with the addition of lots of bread, cheese, and noodles. And booze, of course, which if I’m honest with myself, is probably the biggest factor in my expanding waistline. I estimate my booze belly consists of 25% beer, 40% wine, 20% whisky and whiskey,3 13% gin or tequila and 2% other. For me to become a teetotaler would be quite difficult, even with my compromised liver. So I take a few weeks every year to clean my cells out. Sort of like Lent, but without the ridiculous religious aspects.

Brauerei Weihenstephan Original

Speaking of moving, I think our haggling over the detailed conditions of our lease will be finalized today, and we will be able to start packing this weekend in anticipation of a move-in date in the middle of next month. Moving is a stress, but also exciting – everything is still possible, even where our rooms will be located. We’ll have slightly more space than we have currently, and in a building that isn’t falling down around our ears. We haven’t totally finalized our plans with this place, either we rent it out and let it pay for itself, or put it on the (admittedly soft) market to sell. Or both. Either will require we make dozens of cosmetic repairs, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, painting, yadda yadda. While we are doing these chores4, might still use this space as an office. We are lucky that the place was purchased before the massive real estate inflation, so covering the cost of the mortgage doesn’t seem unreasonable. Renting a different place is a lot easier than getting a new mortgage, especially since the banks are less likely to allow self-reported income. Small businesses often get the shaft despite the number of times politicians mouth support for them.

Wow, a confessional blog post! So unusual – I usually prefer to keep my emotional and personal life in the margins, but here we are. Wish us luck!

  1. for lack of a better word []
  2. lawsuits filed against us have convinced us to move, so we’ve been house/apartment hunting []
  3. i.e., Scotch, Irish, bourbon []
  4. well, supervising someone more competent to do them []