May
13
2011

The Dude’s White Russian journey

—Ian

The “hero’s journey” (a term coined by American writer, Joseph Campbell) is a common theme in global mythology. Here, in a line from Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, is the hero’s journey summarized:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

This all-encompassing event in a person’s life happens in a series of defined stages: Departure, Initiation and Return. Each stage is then marked with various steps, the full list of which (with descriptions) can be read here.  In The Big Lebowski, the Dude’s journey follows this pattern. And interestingly, certain key steps of the adventure are heralded each time the Dude imbibes his favorite drink, the White Russian (or as he refers to it—the Caucasian).

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May
11
2011

An Enthusiast’s Guide to Cocktails: the White Russian

—Christian

To tell the story of the the White Russian we need to look back a few years to the origin of vodka cocktails in general. The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) is considered one of the first U.S. publications to include recipes using vodka. At that time, vodka was primarily a Russian export (and the country is widely believed to have been responsible for its origin). It should come as no surprise then, that one of these early vodka cocktails in the Savoy book was known simply as the “Russian” (vodka, gin and crème de cacao). The similarities to it’s progeny should be apparent. Read more »


May
05
2011

An Enthusiast’s guide to cocktails: the Margarita

—Christian

While there is much debate about the exact history of the drink, the lore that surrounds the Margarita is rich and interesting. Initially tequila was not used in cocktails. Rather, it was served straight in a shot glass with a side of lime and salt (sound familiar?). Starting in the mid ‘30s, examples of mixed drinks that include distilled agave began to pop up. In fact, the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book includes not one, but 15 different tequila concoctions. One of which is called the Picador, which calls for 2pts tequila, 1pt citrus, 1pt Cointreau (note the absence of salt). Also, around the same time there was a well-known cocktail called the Tequila Daisy that combined tequila, citrus and grenadine. Incidentally, the Spanish word for “daisy” is margarita. Coincidence? I think not.

So clearly this combination was not completely original in the late ‘30s—early ‘40s when it was purportedly “invented” in the Americas.
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Mar
16
2011

Strange bedfellows: A Vegas adventure

—Prez

Ah, Vegas, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… Of course, I can’t tell you exactly what happened on each trip, I was sworn to secrecy upon arrival at McCarran International Airport by a scruffy man who approached me in the men’s room and assured me that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” In retrospect, I probably should have told an adult, but hey, IT’S VEGAS!

Forget the family-friendly image Vegas has been trying to push lately; Sin City is all about indulging your vices. And mine happens to be over-enthusing to my heart’s content.  Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that Vegas is not for everyone, but every alcohol-blooded, booze fan should think of it as Mecca: a holy place that every Enthusiast should pilgrimage to at least once in their lifetime—preferably once a year.
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Mar
09
2011

An Enthusiast’s guide to cocktails: the Ramos Gin Fizz

—Christian

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, the culmination of all that is Mardi Gras. In honor of (the day after) this auspicious drinking occasion we wanted to share a classic New Orleans cocktail, the Ramos Gin Fizz. Not to be confused with standard Gin Fizzes, the Ramos is a unique pleasure that was originated down in the Big Easy back in 1888 by a man named Henry C. Ramos.

At the time it was simply called the “New Orleans Fizz” and was so popular that Ramos had to hire a crew of “shaker boys” during busy times just to keep up with demand. In recent years the cocktail’s popularity has dwindled (likely due, in part, to a specific and essential ingredient that is rather hard to come by). Although I personally grew up drinking them with my family every year on Christmas morning.
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