Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We Love Our Designated Drivers

The Mixers who do not indulge in spirits are valued Mixers, and are not mere afterthoughts to us.

Well, actually they have been thought of after the Mixers who drink alcohol and myriad other details of the event, so technically they are afterthoughts. But the point is that they are not mere afterthoughts, or bearing the connotation of being unimportant.

In other words, we will not relegate you to an evening drinking Sam Malone Specials (club soda in a clear stubby bottle with no label). We have the technology to provide you with a variety of creations so tasty, effervescent, and picturesque that you'll make your drunk friends jealous. Beware though, sometimes a jealous drunk will lash out.

Greenwood Toddy

Hot green tea poured over lime slices and ginger syrup.


Rosewater Cocktail

Rosewater, Peach Bitters, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Egg White
shaken and strained over ice
topped with club soda
finished with a scoop of blood orange sorbet



...and other surprises!!


Monday, November 26, 2007

menu revised and a disclaimer

Greeting and salutations,

This is the (slightly) revised drink menu for Le Mixeur Deux. If you are reading this and wondering why the drinks are grouped by things named "Benedictine" or "Chartreuse," see the earlier post entitled "Medicinal Herbs and Spirits...A Happy Mix."

On a side note, I have recently been told by Rich, via Lela, that none of the French language used in Le Mixeur Deux's invitation "makes any sense." I can assure you, dear Mixers, that this is all by design, and meant to reflect Le Mixeur's homespun, DYI, grassroots ideology. You may as well all know now, that Le Mixeur is in fact French for "the mixer," but it actually refers to the kitchen utensil, not a Mixer in the sense of a social event. This is precisely the sort of subversive humor one must appreciate in order to appreciate Le Mixeur.

Enjoy the drink menu.

Farewells and salivations...

Benedictine

Chrysanthemum = French Vermouth, Benedictine, Pernod

Regal Fizz = Brandy, Benedictine, Lemon, Sugar, Soda


Campari

Negroni = Gin, Italian Vermouth, Campari

Champino = Campari, Italian Vermouth, Champagne


Chartreuse

St. Germain = Green Chartreuse, Lemon, Egg White, Campari

Chartreuse Cooler = Green Chartreuse, OJ, Lime, Soda


Dubonnet

May Flower = Dubonnet, Brandy

Dubonnet Highball = Dubonnet, Lemon, Ginger Ale


Ginger and Rosemary

Fihimafihi = Rosemary Gin, Lemon, Ginger Syrup, Egg White, Wine Syrup

Lela = Vodka, Pernod, Ginger Syrup, Berry Syrup, Lemon, Soda


Lillet

Lillet Cocktail = Gin, Lillet Blanc

B and B Lillet Punch = Lillet Blanc, Orange Wheel, Soda


Pernod

Chrysanthemum = French Vermouth, Benedictine, Pernod

Bitter Ass = Pernod, Lemon, Peychaud's Bitters, Sugar, Ginger Ale


St. Germain

Flying Cucumber = Gin, Lemon, St. Germain, Cucumber

La Bicyclette = Gin, Italian Vermouth, St. Germain, Peach Bitters


Friday, November 23, 2007

Offerings to Pachamama


The Incans, specifically the Aymara and Queychua peoples, worshiped the goddess Pachamama, a name which translates roughly to "mother universe," or sometimes "mother earth." Mama obviously refers to the mother, but Pacha does not translate directly to earth or the universe because it never occurred to the Incans to create random distinctions between what earth/planet/universe/existence is. So for centuries now I imagine scholars have puzzled and debated over what Pacha means exactly: did they mean earth? did they mean universe?

Of course, the answer is very simple: they meant Pacha. The real question is, what do we mean? What the hell are we talking about and why?

Before each feast or festival, the Incans offered libations to Pachamama, pouring a small amount of their Chicha onto the ground before imbibing. Showing this gratitude to the Pacha is a beautiful gesture that we at Le Mixeur would like to honor. However, while scholars have trouble agreeing on the translation of Pacha, they unanimously agree that the Incan places of ceremony did not have floors made of linoleum or varnished hardwood.

The home of Lela, Liz, and Rich on the other hand, does have such floors, and they have assured me they do not want our cocktails poured upon them.

Other methods that have been used to honor Pachamama are sacrificing guinea pigs and burning llama fetuses. This brings us back to the same problem of what the hosts of Le Mixeur are willing to have going on in their home. And besides, procuring llama fetuses in this day and age can be harder than acquiring a bottle of Swedish Punsch. I know some crazy shit goes on in the labs at Bastyr, but from what I've been told none of it involves llama fetuses. You also run into problems if there is a burn ban on at the time, and, well, the list of potential problems goes on and on.

So really, if we simply suspend disbelief for a few moments, we find ourselves arriving at the only possible, reasonable way to honor Pachamama within the context of Le Mixeur, which is to, upon arriving, say a challa to Pachamama, and drop some dollars in the Mixeur's glass jar.

The cost of supplying our Mixers with such fine cocktails and surroundings is substantial, as in multiple hundreds of dollars. And while we are not at all interested in profit from this venture, or even breaking even, we do hope to offset our losses enough to be able to continue to put them on in the future (and work is already underway for Le Mixeur Trois).

So in the absence of a major benefactor, and in light of the reality that Le Mixeur is the work of starving students, underpaid social workers, and hardworking restaurant staff, it is up to you, the Mixers, to help keep Le Mixeur Enterprise Commune afloat.

We suggest you think in terms of what you might pay to BYOB to some "party" (stay tuned for future posts on why Mixers best parties).

Think in terms of what you might pay at a "bar" to watch someone pour Potter's vodka into a juice glass with one hand while menacingly waving a soda gun like a venomous snake with the other, and when the liquid miasma creeps close enough to the top to cause the ice to float, viciously injects a quick splooge of something red, or brown, or clear to top it off. Then, using the same hands he's just used to grab some hard-earned-yet-staph-infected bills from one of your comrades, squeezes a micro-lime sliver before hastily dropping it into the baneful stew.

Weigh what you think it would cost you to engage in one of these options, come to Le Mixeur, see what we have to offer, enjoy yourself, and in the end come to a decision on what you would like to contribute in order to go home feeling at peace with yourself and Pachamama. Then, because we love you and so does Pachamama, shave a few dollars off whatever figure is in your mind and leave that amount.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu for Le Mixeur Deux

This is only a draft, but I think it is close to the finished product. Time now to take the components from the previous post and create drinks with them. Vermouth and Gin are worked in throughout. All the other components are represented by two drinks each. One drink is a stronger Mix, served up in a cocktail glass with the taste of the base spirit prevalent. The other is something sweeter, in most cases in a taller glass with ice and soda and the base spirit less pronounced. We at Le Mixeur aim to please all tastes.


menu


Benedictine

Chrysanthemum = French Vermouth, Benedictine, Pernod - up in cocktail glass

Regal Fizz = Brandy, Benedictine, Lemon, Sugar, Soda – iced in a highball glass


Campari

Champino = Campari, Italian Vermouth, Champagne – in a champagne flute

Negroni = Gin, Italian Vermouth, Campari - up in a cocktail glass


Chartreuse

St. Germain = Green Chartreuse, Lemon, Egg White, Campari, - up in a cocktail glass

Chartreuse Cooler = Green Chartreuse, OJ, Lime, Soda – iced in a highball glass


Dubonnet

Dubonnet highball = Dubonnet, Lemon, Ginger Ale – iced in a highball glass

May Flower = Dubonnet, Brandy – up in a cocktail glass


Ginger and Rosemary

Fihimafihi = Rosemary Gin, Lemon, Ginger Syrup, Egg White, Wine Syrup - up in cocktail glass

Lela = Rosemary gin, Pernod, Ginger Syrup, Berry Syrup, Lemon, Soda – iced in a highball glass


Lillet

Campden cocktail = Gn, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau - up in a cocktail glass.

Bourbon and Branch Lillet = Lillet Blanc, Orange Wheel, Soda - iced in a rocks glass


Pernod

Chrysanthemum = French Vermouth, Benedictine, Pernod - up in cocktail glass

Bitter Ass = Pernod,Lemon, Peychaud's Bitters, Sugar, Ginger Ale – iced in a rocks glass


St. Germain

Flying Cucumber = Gin, Lemon, St. Germain, Cucumber – up in a cocktail glass

La Bicyclette = Gin, Italian Vermouth, St. Germain, Peach Bitters – up in a cocktail glass



Most of these are classic cocktails. Some, such as the Negroni, are pretty much standards. Fihimafihi (it is what it is) and the Lela are inventions of mine. Bourbon and Branch Lillet is taken from the blog of Bourbon and Branch, a unique bar in San Francisco:

http://www.bourbonandbranch.com/

La Bicyclette is invented by Jamie Boudreau of Vessel, a spectacular bar right here in little old Seattle:

http://www.vesselseattle.com/

and this recipe is posted on Jamie's own blog:

http://spiritsandcocktails.wordpress.com/

The Flying Cucumber is from A Dash of Bitters:

http://www.adashofbitters.com/2007/08/30/the-flying-cucumber/

I have not tried it yet because I'm awaiting my shipment of another bottle of the St. Germain. If it's no good, something else can be arranged. St. Germain tastes great no matter what you put it in, but it's so precious you tend to feel an obligation to the Liqueur not to sell it short by making a clumsy drink.

Medicinal Herbs and Spirits...A Happy Mix

Le Mixeur Deux will mark the beginning of a venture in mixing Naturopathic understanding of the medicinal properties of herbs with Mixologist understanding of the flavor and character of those same herbs.

A few months ago it occurred to me that many of the herbs Lela was learning about at Bastyr were present in liqueurs and liquors, and that many of the techniques used in creating tinctures were similar to those used to make spirits. The point was especially made when, a night after having been served newly legalized real Absinthe at the Zig Zag Cafe, Lela told me about the lecture she had attended that day on the myths and misconceptions about wormwood and Absinthe. I asked her to stop speaking so loudly, as my head was throbbing from my Absinthe experience, and then got to thinking.

I proposed that Lela and I start collaborating to find herbs she has experience with that would work well in drinkmaking, whether it be as a garnish, an infusion, or as an entirely new liquor or liqueur (gasp!). Lela seemed a little reluctant to go along with this, as she also has sat through several lectures at Bastyr on how devastating alcohol is to your health, and that it's actually nothing short of a miracle that anyone ever has an alcoholic beverage without immediately dying in a puddle of their own filth. Could she in good conscience use her knowledge of medicinal herbs to contribute to the imbibing of a tonic she (mistakenly) believes is bad for you?

I think we came to some sort of rationale in which it was accepted that people are going to drink regardless, so we might as well put something in the drink that will make a (futile) effort to combat the damage being done by the alcohol (this rationale operates on the same basic principles as the argument that we should all feel good about buying products from sweat shops because the 5o cents/day the workers are being paid is 50 cents more than they'd be getting without Nike or Old Navy there to provide for them - in other words, drink one of the drinks we invent and a multinational corporation will give your liver 50 cents...I sense a promotional idea brewing!).

But at any rate, we have proceeded in developing some ideas for exciting Mixes of these two worlds. These will not, due to gestation periods of our brains and of most liqueurs, be ready in time for Le Mixeur Deux. However, I have prepared some research on the herbs already present in some of my favorite spirits, and some of my favorite culinary herbs in rosemary and ginger. From this list I am developing a drink menu for Le Mixeur Deux that will revolve around the list of featured liqueurs. The Mixer guest will then be fully informed of the medicinal properties of each drink, and choose according to his or her needs. Here, without further adieu, is a synopsis of the liqueurs and herbs that will be served at Le Mixeur Deux.

Benedictine

Benedictine is a cognac based liqueur made with 27 plants and spices. The total recipe is a secret, but some of the known ingredients are:

  • Angelica was smoked by Missouri tribes for colds and respiratory ailments. Angelica is a good remedy for colds, coughs, pleurisy, wind, colic, rheumatism and diseases of the urinary organs.
  • Hyssop is an expectorant, diaphoretic, stimulant, pectoral, and carminative.
  • Myrrh is used in Chinese medicine for rheumatic, arthritic andcirculatory problems. It increases circulation, heart rate and power, and is good for many chronic diseases, including obesity and diabetes. Myrrh is used more frequently in Ayurveda, Unani medicine and Western herbalism, which ascribe to it tonic and rejuvenative properties.
  • Saffron has a long history as part of traditional healing; modern medicine has also discovered saffron as having anticarcinogenic (cancer-suppressing), anti-mutagenic (mutation-preventing), immunomodulating, and antioxidant-like properties.
  • Aloe has been taken internally as a remedy for coughs, wounds, ulcers, gastritis, diabetes, cancer, headaches, arthritis, immune-system deficiencies, and many other conditions.
  • Arnica is used as a treatment for acne, boils, bruises, rashes, sprains, pains, and other wounds. It has also been used for heart and circulation problems, to reduce cholesterol, and to stimulate the CNS.
  • Cinnamon has been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. It is high in antioxidant activity, and the essential oil of cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties, which aid in the preservation of certain foods.

Campari

Campari contains quinine, rhubarb, pomegranate, ginseng, bergamot oil, orange peel, and bark from Cascarilla trees that grow in the Bahamas. There are over 60 ingredients, most of which remain secret.

Chartreuse


In 1605 a marshal of artillery to French king Henri IV, François Hannibal d'Estrées, presented the Carthusian monks at Vauvert, near Paris, with an alchemical manuscript that contained a recipe for an "elixir of long life". The recipe eventually reached the religious order's headquarters at the Grande Chartreuse monastery, in Voiron, near Grenoble. It has since then been used to produce the "Elixir Végétal de la Grande Chartreuse". The formula is said to call for 130 herbs, flowers, and secret ingredients combined in a wine alcohol base. The monks intended their liqueur to be used as medicine.

Dubonnet and Lillet

Dubonnet and Lillet are apertifs of the quinquina variety. Quinquina is also known as chinchona, Peruvian Bark, or Jesuit's bark. Jesuit's Bark is the historical name of the most celebrated specific remedy for all forms of malaria. It contains both quinine and quinidine, both of which have antimalarial and fever-reducing activity. The main use of quinidine, however, involves its activity as a myocardial depressant—that is, it depresses the excitability and conduction velocity of nerve impulses and the contractility of the heart muscle. It also tends to lower blood pressure.

Gin

Gin was developed in the 17th century in the Netherlands. It was first intended as a medication; it's primary flavor is derived from juniper berries, which are a diuretic and were also thought to be an appetite stimulant and a remedy for rheumatism and arthritis.

Ginger and Rosemary

The medical form of ginger historically was called "Jamaica ginger"; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative, and used frequently for dyspepsia and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of medicines. Ginger may also decrease joint pain from arthritis, and may have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties that may make it useful for treating heart disease.The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger root is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shoagoles and gingerols, volatile oils that compose about one to three percent of the weight of fresh ginger. In laboratory animals, the gingerols increase the motility of the gastrointestinal tract and have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic and antibacterial properties.

Rosemary Wine acts as a quieting cordial to a weak heart subject to palpitation, and relieves accompanying dropsy by stimulating the kidneys. Carnosic acid, found in rosemary, shields the brain from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's. Rosemary has long been known for improving memory.

Pernod

When absinthe was banned in France in 1915, the major absinthe producers reformulated their drink without the banned wormwood component, a heavier focus on the aniseed flavor using more star anise, sugar and a lower alcohol content, creating pastis, which remains popular in France today. Anise leaves are used to treat digestive problems, to relieve toothache, and its essential oil is used to treat lice and scabies. The volatile oil, mixed with spirits of wine forms the liqueur Anisette, which has a beneficial action on the bronchial tubes,and for bronchitis and spasmodic asthma.

St. Germain

St. Germain is an elderflower liqueur. Elderflower may be used as a remedy for colds and fever. A few clinical studies have shown effectiveness of Sambucol, a formulation based on an extract of elderberry, in the treatment of both adults and children with either type A or B influenza. Sambucol reduced both the severity and duration of flu symptoms in otherwise healthy subjects.

Vermouth

Some common herbs and spices used in vermouth are cloves, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, citrus peel, coriander, sage, basil, thyme, chamomile, quinine, juniper berries, and hops. Other herbs like gentian, mugwort and wormwood have been used in vermouth to provide some bitterness. Flower petals, wild roots or some combination of eastern medicinal herbs are also used.

Le Mixeur Deux!



Le Mixeur Deux will be held at the home of Lela, Liz and Rich on December 8th. I will be setting up shop in the kitchen, which has a long serving counter separating it from the dining area that should function well for presenting guests with their drinks. This is a nice house with a large upstairs with vaulted ceilings and a wall of picture windows facing South.


The invitees are a wide range of friends and family, but the main focus of this Mixer is the mixing of Provail and Bastyr.

Provail is a nonprofit agency providing a wide array of services to individuals with disabilities, and I am an employee in their Employment Services department (this means I help people with disabilities find jobs).

Bastyr is a University of Natural Medicine that also operates a clinic of Natural Medicine, and Lela and Liz are both students in Bastyr's Naturopathic Doctoral (ND) program.

Provail and the Bastyr Clinic share a building on Stone Way in Seattle, so it seems only natural that a Mixer should be held for the purpose of getting to know each other. I have extended invitations to all of the 15 cherished members of the Provail Employment department, and Lela and Liz have so far invited over 30 of their classmates.

Also factoring into the Mix is friend Chrissy, or Maire, as she is known in County Donegal, or See See, as I like to call her, or Ms Bean as she is known when she takes to the stage. Chrissy is a staff member at Bastyr University, and just for kicks lives a few blocks from the Bastyr Clinic and Provail. Chrissy is in charge of inviting the best staffers from Bastyr.

The date of December 8th was chosen because it is the Saturday immediately following Bastyr's week of final examinations. So all in attendance should beware: the Bastyr children will be ready to unleash a semester's worth of repressed joie de vivre.

We have some very high filutin' concepts for the menu and themes for this Mixer. More will come on that soon.

Qu'est-ce que Le Mixeur?

Le Mixeur, or The Mixer, began as a one-time concept for myself and my cousin and roommate Maggi. Having recently become housemates, we decided we would host an evening in which acquaintances from each of our lives would be invited, with the purpose of Mixing. Simple enough. However, we Munats bear a rare strain of obsessive gene, and over the coming weeks the idea grew.

I researched and experimented with cocktails, fine liqueurs, and bartending techniques (mostly experimented on myself, displaying the dedication of a scientist injecting himself with a virus in order to cure disease). I also created invitations featuring an Alphonse Mucha print. I printed, cut, and glued dozens of these by hand.

Maggi, a professional DJ, created music playlists designed to last the evening and enhance the mood, and set up a sound system that allowed the music to be of equal volumes in each room of the house. She also planned and prepared a buffet's worth of foods.

In the weeks leading up to The Mixer I sent out some releases describing the essence and history of Mixers, using references from encyclopedia and dictionary to point out why Mixers are superior to parties, and generally do anything I could to shroud The Mixer in mystique and intrigue.

The house was rearranged, all items not essential to The Mixer were removed from sight, each room was lit with candles, a bar was set up in the Kitchen with a flickering light and burgundy lace style to it, and a fire was lit in the living room.

While the turnout was not overwhelming, there was a good amount of guests, and all present claimed to have had an excellent time, and quickly spread the word to others that future Mixers were not to be missed. Maggi and I quickly decided we would hold Mixers on a semi-regular basis.

I have since continued to research and obsess on the art of drinkmaking and concoct plans for future Mixers. I have visions of the Mixers growing into a Cabaret, in which a portion of the evening involves some sort of performance - perhaps a cellist, an A Capella singer, a small theater troupe, or a comedy routine.

As for now, plans are well under way for Le Mixeur Deux. The twist to this Mixer is that we are going mobile! Le Mixeur Deux will be held at the home of my special lady friend, Lela, just a few short blocks away from my home. More to come on this event very soon.