The Wrath of Grapes
Imbibing has itsusually results in a series of side-effects. Soon after these effects where felt, the noble search for a cure has been a goal of many discerning drinkers. I shall not bore you with modern details of Vasopressin Inhibition or the Glutamine Rebound preventing you reaching the depths of sleep. Instead I shall provide a selection of elaborate cures…
Bathing – a series of alternating baths – hot then cold, rinse and repeat
RU-21 – A relic from cold war Russia; formula used by KGB agents while their targets became sauced
Yaka Mein / ‘Old Sober’ – Salty Beef broth eaten in New Orleans after Mardi Gras
‘Nikolashka’ – Invented by Tsar Nicholas II, ground coffee and sugar on a lemon wedge
Soot – 19th Century chimney sweeps where known to mix warm milk and soot
‘The Doctor’ – Raw egg, brandy, sugar and fresh milk
‘The Lazenby’ – Ginger, cloves, honey and hot water
‘Surgeon Major’ – Champagne and raw egg
‘Umeboshi’ – Salty Japanese pickled plums
Pickled fish – all over Northern Europe the herring is touted as the perfect foil to a hangover
Recently a company in Las Vegas NV has begun offering a service in which your aliments will have disappeared in forty-five minutes, treating clients intravenously (IV) with a special hydration solution.
…The ancient Greeks thought that the stone amethyst was an antidote for the sometimes miserable after effects of intoxication and drinking vessels made from it where highly prized items.
Recently after months of self promise, I’ve started watching ‘mad men’ .A drama about one of New York’s most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm’s most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper. The early 60’s seemed like a very stylish time to live in, a time when every man had a shiny side parting greased up by using brylcreem (a hairstyle I have attempted to emulate since watching episode 1) and wouldn’t be seen without either a drink or cigarette in their hand.
I don’t smoke, as sexy as it’s made to look in this insanely elegant series I still don’t want to, but I do wish we all drank like them.
At the time of writing I am only up to episode 8 of season 1 but already I’ve witnessed Don Draper and co drink Scotch, bourbon, campari, vodka and gin. The first two in particular by the bucket load. Most of the time it’s in the luxury of their Manhattan high rise office where they consume their tonic. Although that’s not the part I desire us all to follow saying that though apparently @twitter #HQ any employees that drive themselves to do overtime gain access to the company mini bar, and if the selection of drinks on offer reflects the size of the company there should be some real treats inside.
Arguably due to the rise of silly ‘shooters’ on the back bar these days but I believe its rare that people enjoy a spirit by sipping it slowly in a rocks glass, the way most premium spirits are made to be appreciated. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Kentucky and meet the master distillers of Jim beam and buffalo trace bourbon. When explaining the production of their drams I have asked both ‘what do you think of people adding coke to you’re bourbon?’ both men replied, “It will make the best bourbon and coke!”
So you should enjoy your favourite spirit anyway you enjoy it best or ask your bartender for recommendations. The following cocktail is how I like to enjoy drinking bourbon. This cocktail is a universal test of a bartender along with the martini and probably the mojito. The old fashioned both my favourite cocktail to make and drink.
‘The cocktails creation is credited to a bartender called Martin Cuneo at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. He is said to have made the drink for a Kentucky Colonel (and bourbon distiller) named James E. Pepper sometime between 1889 and 1895.’
My attraction is that you’ll be stretched to get the exact same recipe and method in any 2 bars, as there are many variations to it. In the past I have made a maple syrup and cigar infused old fashioned, that was a fun day.
My old-fashioned recipe and method is;
50ml Woodford reserve or Buffalo trace
1-½ bar spoons of brown sugar
3 splashes of angostura bitters
1 wedge of orange
In a mixing glass mix the sugar, bitters and tiny bit of bourbon to make a paste. Add 2 cubes of ice and about 15ml of bourbon stirring slowly for good dilution, I repeat this 3 times. Place a giant cube of ice in a rocks glass and strain the drink over the ice, finish off with an orange wedge, this is great for aroma and appearance.
The Bloody Mary. A nice way to start the day.
Whether you’re following up an evening on the ales or you’ve just skipped breakfast a Bloody Mary is a wonderful way to start any day, as long as it’s done properly! Fortunately for me at the old house they seem to have it down to a fine art. With ingredients including Sheffield’s own Hendo’s and a nice dab of Tabasco sauce, a well constructed Bloody Mary will coax you from any day old alcohol induced troff you may find yourself lumbering in. The spicier the better!
Espresso martini, add a bit of pep to your evening.
If you’re like me and you work your fingers to the bone, drinking after a hard day’s graft is not always the optimum time to begin a session on the boozy woozy, after two or three light ales I often find myself slipping into a warm cosy bubble and can switch myself off from those around me (there is nothing wrong with this, on occasion, one it shows you work too hard and two it’s probably a sign you had too much fun the night before) however if you’re willing to find a way around this anti-social obstacle without resorting to street drugs, then the Espresso martini is probably the drink for you.
Ever get the feeling the grass might be greener on the other side? That itch where you begin to think the Old House might not be the centre of the entire universe? This can happen to the best of us, especially if your reading through the menu and it dawns on you that there’s nothing new to sample, this is by no means a bad thing! The Old House staff are a capable bunch and sometimes the best thing to do is just ask, by giving them just a few clues they can knock up a cocktail best suited to your needs. Going off piste can often open your mind to an array of new intoxicating horizons, for example, during the St Patricks day just gone I was sat at the bar deciding what to drink, I didn’t fancy a typical St Patricks day ale, so I asked the barmen for ‘something Irish’ he had a little think and knocked me up a Brandy Alexander, it’s not Irish, but it was exactly what I had been looking for.
Hopefully my next blog will just be titled Dom Perignon.
Gerald Albert Davies, laymen, dreamer, cocktail guy.
In Floods of Beers
One Monday in the middle of October almost a million and a half liters of beer gushed onto the streets of London’s West End, while the Napoleonic Wars raged in Europe. A chain reaction had occurred when a vat of porter ruptured in the brewery of Meux and Company on Tottenham Court Road.
The torrent of beer destroyed two homes and flowed into neighboring basements; tragically eight people died due to “drowning, injury, poisoning by porter fumes, or drunkenness.”
Meux and Company where taken to court but the disaster was ruled as an ‘Act of God’ by the judge and jury. The brewery was demolished in 1922; on the site today you can see the Queen and Ben Elton musical ‘We Will Rock You’ at the Dominion Theater.
1. You don’t need to be a monk to brew Trappist beers, as long as you brew the beer within Trappist Abbey walls and under the monks’ supervision. Laymen brew Orval within the Abbey walls, not monks. There are around 30 of them. Imagine the staff party.
2. The Trappists look after each other. Monks from the Westmalle and Rochefort abbeys helped Achel rebuild its brewery in 1998, when I had just started secondary school. Achel is the smallest of the Trappist abbeys.
3. Draught Trappist beers are almost always sweeter than bottled Trappist beers. A perfect example is Westmalle Dubbel. The difference in taste is remarkable. Another example is La Trappe Blond. The bottled version is drier than the draught. Age has a lot to do with these flavour differences, as the beers age differently depending on storage, either in bottles or in kegs. Lets all have a Trappist ale keg party next week yes?
4. The tiny (but not the tiniest) Trappist abbey Westvleteren only sells its three beers on-site through a serving hatch. Two are regularly available, the blue cap and the green cap. They also sell a yellow-capped beer (12%) and if you’re a good girl you might be able to get hold of one. It is one of the rarest Trappist ales available at the moment. Road trip anyone?
5. The sediment in the bottom of a bottle of Orval is literally teeming with B vitamins (as are most of the Trappist ales). So if you want good muscle tone, great skin and sleek hair, drink Orval. Let the blood cleansing commence.
6. Chimays fourth beer, Chimay Dorée, is only available at the abbey itself, and a nearby inn. Initially intended for consumption by the monks themselves, it has a black label and a considerably weaker abv than the other three beers (4.8%). It is a patersbier, another example being Orvals’ Petite Orval (3.5%). So give one to your Father.
7. Westmalle brewers insist their beers be consumed in two parts. You must first pour the beer very carefully and slowly so that you don’t disturb the sediment. The drink is supposed to be clear, particularly the Tripel. They say you can consume the remaining centimetre or so of beer afterwards. For this I would also serve a good-sized chunk of strong cheese for accompaniment, but for heaven’s sake don’t forget your mints if you’re on the pull.
8. The Rochefort monks are easily the prettiest monks of all the Trappist monks, and they brew my second favourite Trappist beer, the deliciously dark and beautifully rounded Rochefort 8 (9.2%).
9. Although open days to the breweries and parts of the abbeys are commonplace among the Trappists, none of the actual monasteries themselves are open to the public.
10. Orval is my favourite beer of all time. Its most current recipe was created in 1931; just 4 years after Newcastle Breweries introduced Newcastle Brown Ale, another of my favourite beers. One makes me calm, whereas one makes me crazy. Can you figure out which one does what?
James S Prescott
Do it right.
Obviously this applies to everything in life but in this instance I’m referring to bartending.
Everybody including you will have a story of a mardy bartender or an instance where you’ve had to down a drink to shorten the time in which the punishment of a drink lasted. This shouldn’t happen but it still does.
At the time of writing this I was on a train coming back from Edinburgh and 3 heavy but eye opening nights out visiting as many bars as time allowed. Like every city I’m sure I saw the two ends of the spectrum of how bartending ‘should’ be done. I use the word ‘should’ because I realise like a lot of others how much money it now costs to drink what you want to drink on a night out, it comes at a price and in my opinion ‘the perfect serve’ should accompany your beverage.
By the ‘perfect serve’ I mean a smile when you get to the bar, a bartender that is willing to assist you in choosing your drink and also willing to deliver whatever you desire.
None of this costs a bartender a penny but a half arsed effort at your cocktail will cost you around £6. I’m not saying I’m perfect, nobody is but its something I’m passionate about, I know my friends/colleagues share that same passion.
Luckily, There are plenty of lovely people that take a lot of satisfaction out of meeting peoples demands behind lovely bars around us so its not all doom and gloom and hopefully if not already the bars that have people behind them that roll their eyes when you order an old fashioned will be in a very small minority and the majority will make sure you enjoy every aspect of visit to their establishment.
I now realise that by writing this I may be a target so I promise I’ll be smiling the next time I make you a drink.
“It’s skinny lads in their twenties who’re passionate about this stuff” – Tony Naylor, Restaurant magazine.
I am one of those lanky lads.
For the last couple of weeks I have been asking myself why I am. Why I get excited at the sight of a beer I’ve never seen before or why I think when I see somebody in a goose island t-shirt in the street that me and him would be great friends.
It made my day when @scottmurray123 tweeted;
“ Just entered a bit of a paradox @theoldhouse 2 guys asking for a white wine list whilst 2 girls get excited for Brooklyn EIPA and order pints”
I don’t consider myself a ‘geek’ on the subject as such, nor an expert but I love the fact most of my friends are also just as obsessed as me. On the other hand some of my friends who aren’t in the industry find it utterly baffling that I bought a bottle of beer for £16 and ask what’s up with Carling. I find this enraging but I realise that I work in a bar so I’m bound to have more interest in what I and others drink but there is so much more interesting, tastier and higher quality drinks out there.
Luckily, breweries and bars are now taking note that beer has never been cooler and moving into the direction of craft beers, offering beers from all over the world. In order to make sure this is not just a ‘fad’ we should all support what’s becoming rapidly available.
Its not only old blokes in smoky local pubs wearing worn out faded “ Derbyshire real ale festival, 1996” t-shirts drink anything but lager these days. Although if you do have a t-shirt similar to this it will now be considered vintage so wear it with pride and skinny jeans.
These beers are cool and have cool people creating them. James Watt and Martin Dickie from Brewdog brewery in Scotland have come up with some incredible concepts, brewing a beer under the sea and a one time strongest beer in the world at 51% to name a few. Artists such as Johanna Basford and Ralph Steadman (for Brewdog and Flying Dog respectively) have been involved for some time now, getting their work on the labels and packaging of beers to reflect the interesting nature of the tipple inside the bottle and the views of who put it in there thus proving how modern day drinking is changing.
The next time you go for a drink have a look in the fridges for Brooklyn Brewery, Goose Island, Brewdog and Flying dog. These are my favourites but there are hundreds of different makers.