Category Archives: Beer Cocktails

January 6: Twelfth Day

TwelfthNightAccording to the the Church of England; today is Twelfth Day. The day, also known in most Christian circles as the Epiphany, marks the visit of the Magi and subsequent revelation of Jesus as the Son of God. So, according to traditions, today marks the end of the Christmas season.

So, typically most celebrations of the Epiphany are held the evening before on January 5, the Twelfth Night. Interestingly, there is some confusion as to whether Twelfth Night is actually January 5 or the actual day of Epiphany. See, Twelfth Night dates back to medieval times when days started at sundown. The modern compromise is that Twelfth Night is the evening of January 5, while January 6 is Twelfth Day.

Anyway, there are several traditions associated with Twelfth Day. Perhaps the biggest of these is that in the western world it’s considered unlucky to leave your Christmas decorations up after Twelfth Night. In many Latin American countries, Santa Claus doesn’t deliver gifts on Christmas Day. Instead, the three wise men deliver presents to good little children on January 6, typically leaving the gifts in the children’s shoes. Typically children leave out wine, fruits and milk as gifts for the Magi and their camels. Also, throughout the globe, Epiphany marks the start of the Carnival season. Of course, my favorite Epiphany tradition is the Great Fruitcake Toss held annually in Manitou Springs, Colorado. It’s a fairly straightforward event: People dress up in ridiculous costumes and compete to see who can throw a fruitcake the furthest.

Finally, you might be asking how does William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Or What You Will tie into all this. Well, in Elizabethan times, Twelfth Night was celebrated as a day of revelry where servants and masters exchanged roles and cross dressing was acceptable. Basically, it was a lot like Saturnalia. So, Shakespeare’s play (which might have premiered on Twelfth Night, 1602) naturally involves a woman dressing as a man and the tweaking of the social order, as exhibited in the mocking of the puritanical Malvolio by the fool Feste and the drunken knight Sir Toby Belch.

Since today marks the end of the Christmas season, let’s drink a cocktail that is associated with the season and often enjoyed on Twelfth Night; Wassail. The drink is named after a Southern English tradition of singing and drinking to the health of the trees in the hope that they will bring a good harvest in the next Autumn. Wassail is a nice strong warming drink, and this recipe comes from The Silver Book of Cocktails by Carla Bardi.

Wassail

  • 1 quart Brown Ale
  • 8 ounce Dry Sherry
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 apples
  • finely grated peel of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. each ground nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and core two apples and cut in thick slices. Place in layers in a baking dish and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Drizzle with 2 oz. of brown ale. Bake until the apples are very tender, about 45 minutes. Chop the apples and their cooking juices in a food processor until smooth. Place in a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the remaining ale, sherry, lemon peel and spices. Simmer gently for a few minutes. Peel and core the remaining apple and slice. Add the slices to the bowl and serve while still warm.

Tomorrow: We take a trip to the 25th Century.

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December 14: The Death Of Prince Albert

Prince AlbertOn the evening of December 14, 1861, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, royal consort to Queen Victoria died in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle. He was only 42.

The nation quickly went into mourning, and in fact Queen Victoria dressed in mourning black for the remaining 40 years of her life. Despite Prince Albert’s wishes not to be memorialized, monuments to his memory were erected all over the British Empire, including the famed Royal Albert Hall. There were so many in fact, that Charles Dickens once wrote to a friend about all of the Albert memorials:

If you should meet with an inaccessible cave anywhere in that neighbourhood, to which a hermit could retire from the memory of Prince Albert and testimonials to the same, pray let me know of it. We have nothing solitary and deep enough in this part of England.

In my opinion the greatest monument to Prince Albert was the cocktail called Black Velvet. Invented in 1861 at Brook’s Club in London; the story goes that a barman at the club created this drink because he thought it was inappropriate to serve straight champagne while the country was in mourning. So, he added some Guinness stout to darken the champagne and make it resemble the dark purple or black velvet arm bands that mourners were wearing.

Black Velvet

  • Guinness Stout
  • Champagne

Fill a champagne flute halfway with stout, then float champagne on top.

Tomorrow: We say goodbye to the father of American mixology.

November 12: The Bay Bridge (And Its Troll)

Bay Bridge TrollThe San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge opened for traffic on this day in 1936. However, that’s not what I want to talk to you about. No, I want to talk about the Bay Bridge Troll (seen at right).

When the Bay Area was hit by the Loma-Prieta earthquake in 1989, a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed, leaving the Bridge closed for several weeks. Blacksmith and sculptor Bill Roan lived near the Bridge, and thought that it needed a little good luck token to protect the Bay Bridge and those who traveled on it from further destruction. So, he created a small sculpture of a troll holding a spud wrench to be placed on the Bridge. The iron workers who were repairing the Bridge loved the idea, and welded it to the last beam installed as part of the Bridge repairs.

As the Bay Bridge Troll was only visible to boaters and people working on the Bridge, it was largely unknown to the general public until the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about the sculpture in 1990. When the California Department of Transportation first heard about the sculpture, they were not pleased but admitted there was nothing to be done about it. The Troll stayed on the Bay Bridge until August 30, 2013 when iron workers removed it shortly before the opening of the Bridge’s new eastern span. The Troll spent four months on display at Oakland Museum of California before disappearing, possibly to Caltrans headquarters. A new troll statue, this one holding a sledge hammer, designed by an unknown artist took residence on the bridge in May of 2014.

Let’s toast both Bay Bridge Trolls with a Tipsy Troll. It’s a potent Irish milkshake made with Jameson, Bailey’s and Guinness (or similar ingredients).

Tipsy Troll

  • 1 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 3 ounces Guinness Stout
  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 2 ounces chocolate sauce

Glaze the outside of a pint glass with chocolate sauce. Blend all ingredients together, and pour into the glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

Tomorrow: A college football rivalry so intense, it’s only known as The Game.

 

November 5: The Gunpowder Treason And Plot

guy_fawkes_portraitRemember, remember, the fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot…

Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirator had a simple plan. On November 5, 1605 they would blow up the House of Lords and in the process kill King James at which point they’d install a new Catholic head of state. Unfortunately for them, but thankfully for the course of history, Parliament guards discovered Fawkes watching over the pile of explosives hidden underneath the House of Lords, at which point he and his collaborators were arrested. It was announced that day that a regicide plot had been foiled, and King James and his council permitted the public to celebrate the king’s survival with bonfires.

The Gunpowder Plot is still marked every year with celebrations on November 5. Bonfires are still a major part of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations, but over the years, fireworks have become a major part of the festivities. Of course, the highlight of any good Guy Fawkes night is the burning of Fawkes in effigy, a tradition that began in the mid-1600s.

This brings us to today’s drink, Burning Fawkes. As the name might suggest, this is a drink that you’re going to set on fire! Aside from the fire, it’s a fairly simple mix of beer and liqueurs.

Burning Fawkes

  • 1 pint glass of Beer or Lager
  • 3/4 ounces Amaretto
  • 1/4 ounce Sambuca

Fill a pint glass with beer or lager. Pour the Amaretto and Sambuca into a shot glass, then set the liquor on fire and quickly drop the shot into the beer. Drink.

Tomorrow: The real end of the American Civil War.

September 28: Football Under The Lights

msnslog2We’re about a month into the professional and college football season, so it’s only appropriate that we mark a special event in football history. On this day in 1892 the football team from Wyoming Seminary traveled to Mansfield, Pennsylvania to face off against Mansfield State Normal School’s squad in a game that was the first of its kind: The first football game played at night.

In those days it was not unusual for a small private college prep school like Wyoming Seminary (so named because the school was located in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley) to take on a collegiate team like Mansfield State. With that said, this first night game was highly irregular. For one thing the lights didn’t provide enough illumination. The lighting was so bad, that several players actually ran into the light fixture. So, the two teams agreed to only play until halftime. In the end, the game only lasted 20 minutes, and the final score was a 0-0 tie.

Although it wasn’t a particularly good game, it’s still celebrated for its historic importance. Every year, during the last weekend of September, Mansfield holds a “Fabulous 1890s Weekend” during which the game is re-enacted under better lighting. In 1992, the Monday Night Football game between the L. A. Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs held on the evening of September 28th doubled as a celebration of “100 years of night football.” Both of the participating schools still exist. Wyoming Seminary continues to play football to this day, while Mansfield University (formerly Mansfield Normal School) disbanded their football program in 2006 after a disappointing 0-10 season in the NCAA’s Division II. During the team’s final three seasons, Mansfield put up a record of 2-29.

To celebrate the first football game played under lights, I tried to find a drink that had an appropriately “light” name. So, I present to you The Enlightenment, a drink fittingly created by Aidan Demarest of the wonderful Los Angeles bar The Edison. Demarest describes this drink as “The thinking man’s whiskey and a beer, or the poor man’s Champagne Cocktail?” and recommends using Woodford Reserve for the bourbon and Edison Light Beer, from Boston’s New Century Brewing Co, but any light beer will work just fine. You’ll want to use a light beer like Edison Light or Sam Adams Light so that this cocktail doesn’t get too hoppy.

The Enlightenment

  • 2 ounces Bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce pomegranate syrup
  • Light Beer

Shake the bourbon, lemon juice and pomegranate syrup with ice, Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with light beer.

Tomorrow: We tilt at windmills.

September 23: Arthur Guinness?

Arthur_GuinnessToday we honor one of the great figures in alco-history, for legendary brewer Arthur Guinness was born on this day in 1725. Wait, or is his birthday tomorrow?  Hmm, Guinness says he was born on September 28th, 1725 but there’s no proof of that. Then again, his grave says he was 78 when he died in January of 1803, so that means he was born in either 1724 or one of the first few days of 1725.

However, in 2009, Guinness held a special concert festival, Arthur’s Day, on September 23rd to celebrate Guinness’ birth and the 250th anniversary of his brewery. Alright, that’s as good enough of an excuse as any to celebrate his birthday today.

Just as we don’t know his actual date of birth, we don’t know much about Arthur Guinness. He began brewing ale in 1755 in the Irish town of Leixlip, and then set up shop in Dublin in 1759. In Dublin he signed a 9000 year lease on an abandoned brewery in Dublin’s St. James’s [sic] Gate neighborhood. It was at the St. James’s Gate Brewery that Arthur Guinness developed his eponymous stout. Today, the brewery remains the world’s largest brewer of stout, and roughly 850 million liters of Guinness are sold every year.

It’s only appropriate that we mark the possible date of Arthur Guinness’ birthday with a drink made with his beer. The Black and Tan is a simple combination of a dark stout (like Guinness) and a pale ale. The name comes from the two beers’ colors. You should know, by the way, that you should never order a Black and Tan in an Irish pub. Black and Tans was a common nickname for the Englishmen of the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force who were sent to “enforce the peace” in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence. It is for this reason that a Black and Tan is more acceptably known in Ireland as a Half and Half.

Black and Tan (Half and Half)

Fill a pint glass halfway with pale ale (Bass is traditionally used, but you can use Harp if you want to keep it in the Guinness beer family). Slowly pour the Guinness in to the glass so that the two beers layer.

Tomorrow: “Hi ho, Kermit the Frog here.”

June 4: Ten Cent Beer Night

This'll end well...At 162 games a year, Major League Baseball’s regular season is really long. Just to put that in perspective, an NFL team that makes it to the Super Bowl will play at most 20 games a year, and both the NBA and NHL’s regular seasons are only 82 games long. Naturally, it’s hard to convince fans to commit to 81 home games, so baseball owners have long tinkered with all manner of promotions to convince fans to come out to the ball game, ranging from the now regular bobblehead night to the amazing gimmicks dreamt up by American legend Bill Veeck.

All of this is to say that in 1974 when the Cleveland Indians brass decided that significantly lowered beer prices would be just the right novelty to bring fans to the ball park, it would not end well. It was 40 years ago today, the Indians played host to Ten Cent Beer Night, one of the most disastrous promotions in the history of professional sports.

Before the game even started, there were signs of trouble: 1) The Indians and their opponent for the evening, the Texas Rangers, had last met a week before in a game that featured several thrown punches and a bench clearing brawl. 2) The Cleveland sports media spent the week stirring up fan emotions by promoting the idea that vengeance must be visited upon the Rangers when they came to Cleveland Stadium. 3) The Cleveland faithful decided to pregame Ten Cent Beer Night and arrived in the stands in all manner of inebriation.

The Rangers took a quick 5-1 lead, and as the game went on the crowd got more unruly and began hurling insults, garbage and firecrackers at the Rangers. Of course, because it was the 1970s, there were a couple of streakers. Eventually, in the bottom of the ninth the Indians managed to tie the game 5 to 5 with a runner on second ready to win it for the home team. It was at that moment that an Indian fan ran on to the field and attempted to steal Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs’ hat. Rangers manager Billy Martin and his players charged at the fan, armed with baseball bats and soon spectators armed with weapons and pieces of broken stadium seats stormed the fields. Indians players, also armed with bats, had to rush out and protect the Rangers players. The umpires soon declared that the game could not be finished and forced the Indians to forfeit. Amazingly, the Indians would hold another “ten cent beer night” promotion

Oh, and one final note on Ten Cent Beer Night: The poor Indian player that was on second base when the riot broke out was Rusty Torres. Torres was a journeyman player who served on five teams during his nine year career and by sheer misfortune this was the second of three baseball games he was involved in that would end in a literal riot! The first was the came in 1971 at the Washington Senators’ last ever home game. Later, in 1979, Torres would be on hand with the Chicago White Sox hosted Disco Demolition Night, which would force the White Sox to forfeit the second half of a double header.

Obviously to honor this event, we’ve got to have a beer drink, so we turn to the best “beer cocktail” I know, The Boilermaker. This simple drink’s industrial name works as a tip of the hat to Cleveland’s once glorious industrial heritage, and if you truly want to memorialize Ten Cent Beer Night, use the cheapest whiskey and beer you can get your hands on. Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from using the good stuff (and if you’re using the good stuff, invite me over).

The Boilermaker:

  • 1 shot of Whiskey
  • 1 Beer

There are two ways you can make this: Shoot the whiskey and chase it by sipping the beer, or drop the whiskey shooter into the beer and drink them together, whatever works best for you.

Tomorrow: A shocking pair of hips.

January 6: Twelfth Day, Or What You Will

Alright, TwelfthNightfolks, according to the the Church of England; today is Twelfth Day. The day, also known in most Christian circles as the Epiphany, marks the visit of the Magi and subsequent revelation of Jesus as the Son of God. So, according to traditions, today marks the end of the Christmas season.

So, typically most celebrations of the Epiphany are held the evening before on January 5, the Twelfth Night.Interestingly, there is some confusion as to whether Twelfth Night is actually January 5 or the actual day of Epiphany. See, Twelfth Night dates back to medieval times when days started at sundown. The modern compromise is that Twelfth Night is the evening of January 5, while January 6 is Twelfth Day.

Anyway, there are several traditions associated with Twelfth Day. Perhaps the biggest of these is that in the western world it’s considered unlucky to leave your Christmas decorations up after Twelfth Night. In many Latin American countries, Santa Claus doesn’t deliver gifts on Christmas Day. Instead, the three wise men deliver presents to good little children on January 6, typically leaving the gifts in the children’s shoes. Typically children leave out wine, fruits and milk as gifts for the Magi and their camels. Also, throughout the globe, Epiphany marks the start of the Carnival season. Of course, my favorite Epiphany tradition is the Great Fruitcake Toss held annually in Manitou Springs, Colorado. It’s a fairly straightforward event: People dress up in ridiculous costumes and compete to see who can furthest throw a fruitcake.

Finally, you might be asking how does William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Or What You Will tie into all this. Well, in Elizabethan times, Twelfth Night was celebrated as a day of revelry where servants and masters exchanged roles and cross dressing was acceptable. Basically, it was a lot like Saturnalia. So, Shakespeare’s play (which might have premiered on Twelfth Night, 1602) naturally involves a woman dressing as a man and the tweaking of the social order, as exhibited in the mocking of the puritanical Malvolio by the fool Feste and the drunken knight Sir Toby Belch.

Since today marks the end of the Christmas season, let’s drink a cocktail that is associated with the season and often enjoyed on Twelfth Night; Wassail. The drink is named after a Southern English tradition of singing and drinking to the health of the trees in the hope that they will bring a good harvest in the next Autumn. Wassail is a nice strong warming drink, and this recipe comes from The Silver Book of Cocktails by Carla Bardi.

Wassail

  • 1 quart Brown Ale
  • 8 ounce Dry Sherry
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 apples
  • finely grated peel of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. each ground nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and core two apples and cut in thick slices. Place in layers in a baking dish and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Drizzle with 2 oz. of brown ale. Bake until the apples are very tender, about 45 minutes. Chop the apples and their cooking juices in a food processor until smooth. Place in a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the remaining ale, sherry, lemon peel and spices. Simmer gently for a few minutes. Peel and core the remaining apple and slice. Add the slices to the bowl and serve while still warm.

Tomorrow: We take a trip to the 25th Century.

December 14: The Death Of Prince Albert

Prince AlbertOn the evening of December 14, 1861, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, royal consort to Queen Victoria died in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle. He was only 42.

The nation soon went into mourning, and in fact Queen Victoria would dress in black for the remaining 40 years of her life in mourning. Despite Prince Albert’s wishes not to be memorialized, monuments to his memory were soon erected all over the British Empire, including the famed Royal Albert Hall. There were so many in fact, that Charles Dickens once wrote to a friend about all of the Albert memorials:

If you should meet with an inaccessible cave anywhere in that neighbourhood, to which a hermit could retire from the memory of Prince Albert and testimonials to the same, pray let me know of it. We have nothing solitary and deep enough in this part of England.

However, in my opinion the greatest monument to Prince Albert was the cocktail called Black Velvet. Black Velvet was invented in 1861 at Brook’s Club in London. The story goes that a barman at the club created this drink because he thought it was inappropriate to serve straight champagne while the country was in mourning. So, he added some Guinness stout to darken the champagne and make it resemble the dark purple or black velvet arm bands that mourners were wearing.

Black Velvet

  • Guinness Stout
  • Champagne

Fill a champagne flute halfway with stout, then float champagne on top.

Tomorrow: We say goodbye to the father of American mixology.

November 12: The Bay Bridge & Its Troll

Bay Bridge TrollThe San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge opened for traffic on this day in 1936. However, that’s not what I want to talk to you about. No, I want to talk about the Bay Bridge Troll (seen at right).

When the Bay Area was hit by the Loma-Prieta earthquake in 1989, a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed, leaving the Bridge closed for several weeks. Blacksmith and sculptor Bill Roan lived near the Bridge, and thought that it needed a little good luck token to protect the Bay Bridge and those who traveled on it from further destruction. So, he created a small sculpture of a troll holding a spud wrench to be placed on the Bridge. The iron workers who were repairing the Bridge loved the idea, and welded it to the last beam installed as part of the Bridge repairs.

As the Bay Bridge Troll was only visible to boaters and people working on the Bridge, it was largely unknown to the general public until the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about the sculpture in 1990. When the California Department of Transportation first heard about the sculpture, they were not pleased but admitted there was nothing to be done about it. The Troll would stay on the Bay Bridge until August 30 of this year when iron workers removed it shortly before the opening of the Bridge’s new eastern span. Caltrans is still contemplating what to do with the Troll, but in the mean time, it will be on display at the Oakland Museum of California until February 26, 2014.

So, while we wait for Caltrans to figure out what to do with the Troll, let’s relax with a Tipsy Troll. It’s a potent Irish milkshake made with Jameson, Bailey’s and Guinness (or similar ingredients).

Tipsy Troll

  • 1 1/2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 3 ounces Guinness Stout
  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 2 ounces chocolate sauce

Glaze the outside of a pint glass with chocolate sauce. Blend all ingredients together, and pour into the glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

Tomorrow: A college football rivalry so intense, it’s only known as The Game.