Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Mom Mixeur: La Florence

A few weeks back Mom Mixeur suggested that for a Christmas gift, I create an original cocktail and name it after her. I don't know if she expected me to actually be mad enough to do so, but you'd think after all these years she would know me well enough to know I'm nothing if not mad. After all, she's known me since I was at least 13. And so create a cocktail for her I did, and name it after her I did.

Which brings us to a little secret: my mother's real name is not Mom Mixeur. It's Florence Howe Munat. Florrie for short. I thought about calling her cocktail a Florrie-dita or a Florrie-dora...but she asked me to please don't do that. So, we'll go with the ever-more-distinguished...La Florence.

La Florence

2 oz white rum
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz St. Germain
2 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters

shake and strain into a cocktail glass rinsed with green Chartreuse

There's really nothing at all about this drink that's in keeping with the season, as it's more of an easy sipping spring or summer breeze. But, key to its concept is that I figured Mom Mixeur would like it. And I think she did, though it's hard to tell because moms tend not to tell you that you suck, especially on Christmas day.

On the other hand, any cocktail can seem festive when pictured alongside Christmas cookies and pecan pie!



I fed some earlier variation of this cocktail to Robert Rowland of Oliver's Twist (not to mention the next version of Left Coast Libations), and he recommended cutting the St. Germain back to 1/4 ounce. I did this, and I liked that.

However, today I arrived at the Munat family homestead with an inconspicuous shoulder bag slung fashionably to one hip. When the moment came, I reached into this bag and withdrew all the needed ingredients and tools for making the drink, listing off the proportions of each that were to be included. I then proceeded to make two versions of the cocktail - one with 1/4 ounce Germain and one with 1/2 ounce. Mom Mixeur made her preference known for the 1/2 ounce version. She said that she could see why a professional bartender might prefer the subtler version, since a person of such position likely bears a more refined palette than her own. I explained to her that while she could be right, if I ever caught any bartender dissing my mama's palette I would most certainly smite thee!

And Robert, if you're reading this, just because I sometimes calls you daddy don't make you my mama. So 1/2 ounce of the St. Germain it is!

And here's a portrait of Mom Mixeur with her La Florence, taken earlier this fine Christmas day. But I must warn you, she's pretty freaking adorable, particularly when imbued with the warm glow of a fine cocktail and familial festivities...





Oh, and I did also buy her a material object type of gift as well, in case any of you traditionalists are thinking about giving me a hard time.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Le Gra,
T.Mixeur

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Book That Will Save Us All


My recent trip to San Francisco (much more to come on this soon) has created a propitious climate in which to publicly announce that a new book is in the works. Specifically, a big-boy version of Left Coast Libations, complete with photographs, bindings, price tags, and lack of typos.

Whereas the original LCL featured a mixture of bartenders, bloggers, and enthusiasts, big boy LCL will focus exclusively on career bartenders...the folks who have spent years plugging away behind bars, employing that unique set of skills one must have to handle all the various aspects of such labor. The book, then, will function as a cocktail recipe book, and also as a guide to many of the West's finest bartenders.

The list of contributors is pretty much complete. The process of meeting and getting to know each other is underway, and I will be writing brief profiles of every last tender of bar. We will also be collecting and testing recipes over the coming months, taking photographs, and working on layout design.

In addition to the bartenders, many other people are generously donating their time and effort to make this book a reality. The process of promoting and hyping these people in exchange for their work will begin...now.

Jenn Farrington will be photographing the drinks and the folks hailing from California. Jenn is a photographer of such skill and accomplishment, she frankly is out of our league. Hopefully this does not occur to her at any point between now and publication.

Zane Harris, in addition to being a contributing bartender, will be taking photos of the drinks and the folks hailing from the Northwest. Zane knows not yet my plans to kidnap him and take him to bars in Portland and Vancouver...but I doubt it will be an abduction to which he offers much resistance.

The audacious Mr. Erik Ellestad provided me with invaluable insight as to whom to seek out in the Bay Area to be in the book (so if you're in the book and Erik comes into your bar, buy him a round...if you aren't in the book and Erik comes into your bar, throw a drink in his face...no really, he likes it).

The resplendent Ms. Marleigh Riggins provided the same service in Los Angeles. If you're an LA bartender and you're in the book, well, I don't need to tell you to treat Marleigh like royalty. I'm certain you already do. And if they don't, Marleigh, let me know. I know people in LA who know how to handle things.

Andrew Means has offered to lend his considerable expertise in layout and design of the book. Additionally, Andrew's band has been anointed unofficial soundtrack of LCL.

The bartenders who have agreed to participate in the book are listed below...

Vancouver, BC - David Wolowidnyk, Josh Pape

Seattle, WA - Andrew Bohrer, Andrew Friedman, Anu Apte, Casey Robison, David Nelson, Erik Hakkinen, Jamie Boudreau, Jay Kuehner, Jim Romdall, Keith Waldbauer, Murray Stenson, Robert Rowland, Tara McLaughlin, and Zane Harris.

Portland, OR - Daniel Shoemaker, Evan Zimmerman, James Pierce. Kelley Swenson, and Lance Mayhew.

Corvallis, OR - Chris Churilla, Kinn Edwards

Eugene, OR - Jeffrey MorgenthalerItalic
Bay Area, CA - Brooke Arthur, Dan Hyatt, Dominic Venegas, Duggan McDonnell, Erik Adkins, Jackie Patterson, Jennifer Colliau, Jimmy Patrick, Joel Baker, Jon Santer, Kevin Diedrich, Lane Ford, Marco Dionysus, Neyah White, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Yanni Kehagiaras.

Los Angeles, CA - Chris Ojeda, Christine D'Abrosca, Damian Windsor, Eric Alperin, John Coltharp, Marcos Tello, and Matty Eggleston.


This list still takes my breath away when I look at it. Yet there are still so many on this coast who were wrongfully omitted. Apologies to those who were. (A few more will be trickling in as well).

Now, having implied the reason for my trip to San Francisco (6 days, 16 bartenders to meet), I am free to begin the arduous task of chonicling at least some of the wonderment that occured between November 27 and December 3.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Anniversaire heureux, Le Mixeur!!!



Yes, it was one year ago today that, on a lonely night in some dimly lit, chilly room in Seattle T.Mixeur made one last, desperate attempt to reach out to the world and grab hold of someone. The result was this blog, which like my former cat "Meat," is just the sort of ragged, moronic, flatulent type of entity to live on for many, many, many years...whether we want it to or not.

So yes, Le Mixeur - the blog - is one year old today!

It may seem as though this blog is some sort of free-wheeling, stream-of-consciousness scroll with serious difficulties on focusing on the topic at hand, which of course is....hang on I know this...oh! Cocktails. Yes, cocktails.

However, it might surprise the reader to know that when I sat down that lonely night and decided to start a blog, I composed a specific list of topics and themes that I planned to cover in the first year of existence. This was part of my 50 year plan for Le Mixeur. I would like to now, on this anniversary, present you with a copy of that list:

  • William Holden and the Mount Kenya safari Club in Nanyuki
  • TS Eliot's use of defecation themes in "The Waste Land"
  • Feast Day for Saint Basilic
  • Matisse's 139th birthday
  • Francisco Franco's 1940 victory over the Republicans
  • The Persian Sun God Mithras
  • Aymara and Queychua peoples, and their sacrificing of Llama fetuses
  • "Parties" and their contribution to fascism
  • Toulouse-Lautrec's genitals
  • Former Florida State Representative Berny Papy Jr. and his protection of the sanctity of key lime pie
  • Poetry about El Salvador by Sonia Sonchez
  • Frank O'Hara and his death by dune buggy
  • How Normal Lear stole my Uncle Chuck's stories
  • Gary Regan, LeNell Smothers, and the Marquis de Sade
  • 18th century nomadic Acadians, and their contribution to New Orleans cocktail culture
  • An original poem titled "Drunk Descending Staircase"
  • The merits of union suits
  • The Bodhisattva of the Mixeursphere
  • Herman Hesse , Siddartha, and transcendence into Mixana
  • French translations of Eddie Murphy poems
  • The farewell of Ziggy Stardust
  • Hemingway's disdain for blouse-wearing sissy boys
  • A toast of mourning for Eight Belles
  • Our aversion to cocktails that cause yeast infections
  • Hostmaster John, Johnastic Hosting, and the Johnastic Method
  • Ajeticha's survival of the Great Destroyer Appolyon, with reflections from WB Yeats
  • Walt Whitman writes of love buds
  • The Salish tribe's ritual of scrubbing themselves with blackberry bushes prior to spirit dancing, and the possible translation of this tradition to cocktail culture
  • Bainbridge Island Strawberry farmers and their time in concentration camps
  • The loudest man in the world and his move from Texas to Redmond, WA
  • Graham Greene, reality, and martyrs
  • How to make punch in a washing machine
  • Wayne Curtis getting Tiki guys to huff fusel oil
  • What the guys in Barbados do to you if you put Walnut liqueur in their rum
  • William Faulker: Sissy Boy Who'd Never Survive Tales of the Cocktail
  • How the Bionic Woman would have juiced lemons
  • Scandinavian Warlocks named Thoth and Grobbendonk
  • Senator Edwin Murray's speech: "hrmm-hm, hurra hurra hum, rim rem rom...SAZERAC!"
  • Keith Waldbauer's benzedrine binge in the Sierra del Ajusco-Chichinauhtzin
  • Duggan McDonell's peyote binge in Coahuila
  • C.Mixeur's proposed "cannonball" on Duggan at the Boca Loca pool party
  • Pink-livered sissy-boys who don't drink all my Singapore Sling mix
  • Monastic Ireland and doing simple things with perfect love
  • Pictures of fuzzy kittens sleeping together
  • Little girls from Georgia witnessing the Cascades for the first time
  • Distance of Alpha Centauri to the Earth as compared to the moon, and the foolishness of the phrase "shoot for the moon and miss and still end up among the stars.
  • Dead Moon
  • Don Quixote: Mixologist, creator of The Balm of Fierabras
  • The Scorn of Saint Germain
  • Charteuse that smells like curry
  • Kevin Diedrich's back alley battle mixes
  • Lance Mayhew's black market kidneys
  • MLK on Gandhi's bartending skills
  • Jose Gomez and his work with Cesar Chavez
  • Rummalemmotang!
  • Allen Ginsburg's advice to beginning bartenders
  • My grandfather's mini fridge
  • The word munat meaning "testicles" in Finnish
  • Being fisted by Hellboy

And upon reflection, I find that I have managed to cover all of these topics. So it's truly been a successful first year. I've even managed to occasionally introduce the topic of spirits and cocktails from time to time. And there are plans afoot to include even more spirits and cocktails in the coming year...maybe...we'll have to see. No promises.

Thanks to you all for reading, and holding out hope that one day this will all come together and make sense.

T.Mixeur









Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hellboy Was My Barback

A few months ago, a teacher named T.Mixeur undertook the project of taking a student under his wings. The purpose was to develop a barback to assist with the increasing demands of Le Mixeur. But more than that, it was a new and bold spiritual journey. The student and barback-to-be was a young man known as Anung un Rama in his village of Grigori Rasputin's Lab, but to the Mixeurs he was known simply as, "Hellboy."





Successful training of a barback must be based upon a bedrock composed of research, techniques, and historical appreciation of bar culture. The first point to observe in training the barback is to build up character, bringing to light the subtler faculties of prudence, intelligence and dialectics...




Philosophy and literature form the chief part of the student's intellectual training; but even in the pursuit of these, it is not objective truth that he strives after—literature is pursued mainly as a pastime, and philosophy as a practical aid in the formation of character...




And there is only so long that the barback pursuit can remain cerebral. At some point the intellectual principles that have been absorbed must be put into action, so the union of mind body and soul can begin to transpire...




By maintaining discipline and utmost focus, the barback avoids being robbed by the egotistic, conventional mind, allowing the fundamental mind to - uh-oh.



Vous idiot! Je ne peux pas l'acheter dans cet état! Trou du cul!
(You idiot! I cannot buy that in this state! Asshole!)




It is essential that the teacher witness the student without judgment or comment. When one task proves to be too difficult, the teacher must effortlessly shift the student's energies to another. In this case, muddling...




Gasp!




Imbécile! Ce n'est ni technique appropriée, ni sanitaire!
(Fool! That is neither proper technique nor sanitary!)




Que faites-vous maintenant ? C'est juste dégoûtant! Ce n'est aucune façon de remuer une boisson!
(What are you doing now? That's just disgusting! That's no way to stir a drink!)




When the teacher reaches a point where he or she realizes the student is no longer in a receptive state to learning, it is important that the teacher not press on in vain. This point is a prudent time for the teacher to take a walk, clear the mind, and possibly visit a liquor store and/or bar.

Hellboy, meanwhile, stirred some cocktails and invited a lady friend over...



Laid on the charm...



Did VERY well...



Scored.



Yet when his lady friend excused herself to the restroom to freshen up, the untrained, undisciplined mind of Hellboy lead him astray. Unable to calm the mind, his urge for excitement betrayed him. He began to drink...



And drink...




And drink...





And so...




The teacher returned home, and upon finding Hellboy in such a state, did some serious soul searching...



And re-assessed the approach he had been taking with his student...



And somewhere in the doldrums of their mutual inebriation, things went terribly, terribly wrong...





They both were stunned as they realized that certain boundaries had been violated...



And certain sacred places had been defiled...



And this was the last the teacher ever saw of his barback Hellboy....



(Pourquoi toujours de telles histoires tristes ? Oh bien!)

Ta-Ta!

T.Mixeur

Monday, November 10, 2008

WSBG Knows How To Party

Usually, when there is some sort of cocktail event or get-together in Seattle, Paul Clarke is there. At these events, as I gleefully intoxicate myself, blissfully unaware for the moment that I am keeper of a cocktail blog, invariably I will spot Paul with a small notepad, nodding smartly and jotting down letters, words, and sometimes even sentences, as someone speaks to him earnestly about something terribly important.

At these moments, I think to myself, "ah yes, we are writers, I should be taking mental notes and formulating ideas for what to cover in the blog, because I want to use the blog as a means to promote the local cocktail scene, and this is a perfect opportunity to...eh, Paul's on top of it. I'll just write some testicle jokes and post some photos of me harassing local religious organizations."

That is EXACTLY what goes on in my head.

But yesterday, the newly formed Washington State Bartender's Guild put on one hell of a hoop-dee-doo, and Paul Clarke was off in New York City, hob-nobbing with his new fancy pants friends because he's too good for us now.

About four hours into the event, it occurred to me that this might make me the man of the blog-house. Upon making this realization, I responded swiftly: I immediately started the process of panicking, which I then addressed with excessive drinking.

And so here is my official, journalistically impeccable report on the affair.

9 November, 2008

Seattle, WA - A gathering of many of the area's finest bartenders, bar owners, cocktail enthusiasts, culinary journalists, and distillers happened today at the Bemis Building in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. The occasion? The launching of the Washington State Bartender's Guild.

The Guild was formed in recent months by a group of industry stalwarts, including Guild President Andrew Friedman, owner of Liberty, and Vice President Keith Waldbauer, bartender at Union. The guild was founded with the goals of...uhm...I think having awesome parties, and going to meetings on Sundays, and all getting to hang out more...wait hold on a sec...

To form a state-wide collaborative community of bartenders and supporters, advance the highest level of service standards within the bar industry, create an educational platform within Washington State through community programs, seminars, festivals and media outreach...there's more, but you know what, just go to their web site.

The event was hosted by guild members Zane Harris and Anu Apte, both of Vessel, in the same loft space that recently held the now-legendary, epic cocktail odyssey Le Mixeur Cinq – the brain child of Seattle Legend Ted Munat, or as the locals know him: The Fuggin' Guy.

All those previously mentioned (except The Fuggin' Guy) took turns behind the loft's six-stool, fully-equipped bar, along with fellow guild members Andrew Bohrer and Jim Romdall... Andrew B. cuts really incredibly long lemon twists that pretty much remove the entire skin off the lemon, twists the whole thing at once, then snips it into segments and garnishes a bunch of drinks at once with it. He also had a French press that worked perfectly with the Oxo Hawthorne strainer and was making 4 or 5 drinks at a time with it. It was totally badass....And Amy asked for tequila but they weren't serving any so Jim put a bunch of things together to mimic the flavor profile of tequila and it tasted like tequila. That's so rad. It's like, why do they even bother making tequila when there are Jims in the world? You know?

The bartenders were mixing up the Martinez, the Bobby Burns, and an original creation called a 44, which featured Bulleit Bourbon and a homemade orange tincture, among other things.

Oh Snap! Nailed the drink menu! Nailed it! No notes, no nothing – nailed it, first time out of the box. Yah baby! Yah!

Also among the crowd was Marc Bernhard, owner and master distiller of Pacific Distillery in Woodinville, WA. Pacific, one of a tiny handful of artisinal distilleries to have recently opened in Washington state, has just finished the bottling of their Voyager gin and it's set to hit the market. Voyager is a dry gin, in much the same mode as a classic London Dry, bottled at 84 proof, and is truly the product of a family-run, hand crafted process from start to finish.

Oh, I am on a roll now. Spelled Marc's name right – first and last – got his title, name of the distillery is correct, name of the city it's in, big-boy sounding line about distilleries in the state, remembered what Andrew F. told me about the style of gin it is even though I'd been drinking, remembered the proof...

On. Point. Yes I am today. Let's name the distillery one more time and slap a hyperlink on that bad boy:

Pacific Distillery, Woodinville, WA


So anyway, here's what really happened: it started at 2 but I got there at about 4:30 because I had things to take care of, and I have to take care of the things that I have to take care of. There was a bunch of people there and you could hear them all the way down the hall. They did the thing with the table cloths over the tall table tied to the table post, which automatically exudes class and professionalism.

Andrew F. is the president and so he was presiding. Keith is vice president so he was vicing – booze and smokes mostly, maybe something else, hard to tell with that guy. Andrew B. is secretary, and there is no doubt he was secreting. Casey Robison is treasurer, and golly do we treasure him.

Andrew informed the crowd, once he had inebriated them all, that they can join the guild for the low low coast of $90/year, and this can be done through the Guild web site...soon. Not yet. Any day now though. Bartenders may join as members, barbacks may join as provisional members. Bloggers, enthusiasts, distillers, and anyone else who wants to help promote the mission of the guild can also join for the same price. Their titles within the guild will be, “Stank Bitches!!”

Lots of people signed up to get on the mailing list, there was good food, and I'd swear we drank a bunch of really interesting things that tasted like certain things out of bottles with no labels, but I must have imagined that because those interesting things tasted like certain things that aren't on the market and therefore we wouldn't have been being naughty like that...

Everyone made fun of me because the day before I had stepped in a pile of human doo-doo.

I left to go to Oliver's Twist and found they were closed for “renovations.” So I got some food, called Anu, she said come back over, so I did. Lo and behold the boys from Oliver's Twist were there. Apparently they'd worked up quite a thirst working so hard on their “renovations.”

At that point the party had boiled down to the core group, also known as the officers and founding members of the guild. They had all taken to the customary manner in which the northwest's cocktail elite bask in the revelry of another successful event: huddling around Zane's computer and watching youtube videos of some guy making fart noises with his hands.

Then we all left and nobody helped Zane and Anu clean up because we're all complete bastards. I at least expressed feelings of remorse over the fact that I had no intention of helping them clean up. And they were very touched. I could tell.

And before we left, we all looked into each other's eyes in silence. We knew we needn't say anything. We were all thinking the same thing: “that...was one HELL of a hoop-dee-doo.”

OK, so there is my journalistic coverage of the WSBG kickoff party. I hope you all appreciated the consistent tone I maintained, and the clear and concise manner in which the information was presented. And I hope you noted how I came back around full circle to the hell of a hoop-dee-doo bit. It's called “skills.”

Uhm, did anyone take pictures? Shouldn't a journalistic piece of such integrity as this have some pictures?

I'll hand the responsible blogging reins back over to Paul Clarke now. My next blog post is going to be about Hellboy!

Ta-Ta...

T.Mixeur

Monday, November 3, 2008

Granddaddy Howe

Through some apparent clerical error, I received an invitation to be part of a drink creation competition sponsored by Hiram Walker, and featuring their new Gingerbread Liqueur. I took them up on the offer, and soon thereafter found myself the proud owner of not only a bottle of Gingerbread Liqueur, but also of a bottle of Pumpkin Spice Liqueur.

At this point, I should interject about a very interesting phenomenon that has been occurring in my life, one known as "Amy." Amy was over one night a couple of months ago, regaling me with tales of how she plans to go to Argentina, and how miraculous an experience this surely will be. She asked, with great enthusiasm, if I knew any bartenders in Argentina.

I confessed, to my shame, that I did not. However, the following morning, I received a Facebook friend request from a well-connected bartender in Argentina.

A few weeks later, Amy was again over. She talked of how "dang delicious" she imagined a pumpkin liqueur would be, and wished such a thing existed. The following morning was when I received the invitation to be involved with Hiram Walker's project, though it was not until weeks later that I realized that would lead to the procurement of a bottle of pumpkin liqueur.

Amy's services, by the way, are available for hire. However, she reserves the right to wish for whatever she wants, and in no way guarantees this will meet with your needs or the needs of your business.

Anyway, back on track here...Gingerbread Liqueur. Upon sipping the liqueur, I was surprised. I imagined it would be a liqueur embodying the pronounced spices of gingerbread, such as...uhm...ginger I think, right? But this liqueur, while doing what I'd imagined, actually tastes like gingerbread. I haven't the faintest notion how they got the bread flavor in there, but they did. I'm thinking perhaps they macerated cookie dough and let it infuse in the base distillate, then infused the spices, but it's hard to say.

I immediately thought that this liqueur would be well-suited for some sort of Flip style drink, and reached for my eggs.

Incidentally, "Munat" means "eggs" in Finnish. The same Finnish term also is slang for "testicles." However, this is not the sense in which I meant the phrase "reached for my eggs." I need to point these things out, because we have some Finnish readers these days, and the Fins tend to have their minds in the gutter anyway. So for all you Fins and other sycophants out there, stop picturing me reaching for my eggs, and start picturing me handling some nice, smooth, brown eggs with the utmost of care, breathless with anticipation as I prepare to immerse them in...

Hey! You're thinking filthy thoughts again aren't you! Knock it off! This is supposed to be a post about Gingerbread and my grandfather...Jesus!

Ah fuck it. Here's my drink:

Granddaddy Howe

1 oz bourbon
2 oz ruby port wine
1/2 oz Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1 whole egg

combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker
shake, without ice, for 15-20 seconds
add ice, shake until chilled
strain into a goblet
grate fresh nutmeg across the top



All you super-slick cocktail types will no doubt spot that this is a riff on the Coffee Cocktail, and we're not really riffing that hard. 1 oz of brandy in the Coffee Cocktail becomes 1 oz of bourbon here, and instead of using plain old sugar to sweeten it up, we're using the Gingerbread and Heering.

No word can better describe this drink than "Nummy!" Except perhaps, "Dangerous!" That's 4 ounces of booze in there, and not only does it not burn, it has a tendency to accidentally slip down your throat in one slurp. Amy drank hers before she could even say "Dang Delicious!"

The drink also works with a variety of replacements for the Heering. I tried it with White Creme De Cacao...Nummy. Tried it with Benedictine...Nummy. Tried it with Pastis...Nummy-Anise.

(If you couldn't handle the "reach for the eggs" imagery, do yourself a favor and don't even go there with the "Nummy-Anise")

And on that note: what's with the name of this drink?

Ed Howe was my granddaddy on my mother's side. When I told Mom Mixeur I was to be in a drink competition for a Hiram Walker Gingerbread Liqueur, she told me (after first wiping away her tears of pride) that a) I don't know how to pronounce "Hiram" correctly, b) her father always had Hiram Walker products in his liquor cabinet, and c) don't get any smart ideas about how or why she knows so much about her father's liquor cabinet.

Ed Howe was a classic cocktail guy...two before dinner during the traditional hour only, thank you. For years, it was mostly Old Fashioneds, and I hear my Aunt Susie got to be quite skilled at making them. Later in life, he became a Martini man.

I wasn't old enough to join him in these cocktail hours before he died, but trips to his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin held their own beverage pleasures for me. In the guest bedroom, up on a loft overlooking the rest of the unit, there was a mini-fridge, the first of its kind I'd ever seen. This fridge was always stocked, in anticipation of our arrival, with cans of all types of sodas. Sodas were not a permissible drink in my day-to-day life, only for special occasions such as the yearly trips to Lake Geneva.

I'd sprint up the stairs once given permission, pick out some magical, icy cold can, bring it back downstairs, and begin the ceremony. First, there was the selection of a rocks glass, always with some sort of etching or other form or ornateness...far more elegant than any plastic tumbler I'd swill juice from at home. Then there was the pushing of the rocks glass against the ice cube dispenser on the freezer door – again the only of its kind I'd ever seen. It would drop out ice cubes with one arched side and one flat side, one at a time, until the glass was full.

Next was the cracking open of the can, the little wisp of mist, and the pour. Key to finishing this ceremony was to quickly, upon finishing the pour, take a sip of the drink while the fizz was still spraying up from the surface of the drink, breathing in its effervesence.

And when Granddaddy Howe died, he left behind a nifty little cocktail book, which Mom Mixeur had the good sense to hold onto, then pass along to me when my love of cocktails came into full bloom.







(And yes, C.Mixeur, we know they got the recipe to the White Lady wrong.)

I was his namesake and some would say a dead ringer for him as a child. And he was a good man, a kindly grandfather, and he sure seemed to adore me. And so it just seemed about time to name a drink in his honor. And while he was mostly an Old Fashioned and a Martini drinker, he did love his Irish Coffees and the occasional Egg Nog. So from this, I think it's safe to say he would have liked this one.

So mix one up, during traditional cocktail hours please, and say a toast to Granddaddy Howe.

(and leave out the testicle and “anise” jokes, for god's sake. Granddaddy would not have approved)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mixology Monday: Plaisirs coupables!


Mixology Monday
, hosted by Stevi Deter at Two at the Most, this month focuses on the subject of "Guilty Pleasures."

First let me say that I have always had a different attitude about guilty pleasures than most. I have always figured that something that brings me pleasure, and in no way harms anyone or anything else, is a guilt-free pursuit. Therefore, you may snicker all you please at my simple joys in life...my conscience is clean!

That said, there are a few guilty pleasures I would like to share (Mom, if you're reading, stop now):

1) When I was 19, I slept with my best friend's girlfriend on the halfway line of a soccer field. That was a goodly dash of pleasure, followed by a whopping jigger of guilt.

2) Once, during an extremely difficult time in my life, I...bombed an orphanage...please, ne moi jugez pas!

And so, there you have it. My guilty pleasures. Thank you for reading!

T.Mixeur


(editor's note: uhhh...you haven't actually mentioned cocktails yet.)


Ah yes, of course. Let me tell you about my time at the Evergreen State College...

Bear in mind that none of these tales are sources of guilt for me. In fact, I radiate with pride over these accomplishments. They brought a lot of joy to a lot of people...most of them underage.

In the year 2000, I found myself re-enrolled in college, studying 1st Amendment Law under the guidance of the inimitable Jose Gomez, former legal advisor to Cesar Chavez and currently employing the Socratic teaching method at Evergreen State. I also found myself living in an on-campus apartment with five randomly assigned males ranging in age from 19 to 22. Both aspects of the experience were to have significant cultural impact upon my life.

Things really got started when, on one drizzly winter's eve, a knock came at our door, and we found ourselves being paid a visit by Paula Fallen Star Nicole Jenkins. She introduced herself, explained that she was one of the five women living in the apartment next door to us, and also informed us that they were in possession of copious quantities of booze, and would like us to come over some time and consume it.

We calmly thanked her for the offering, assured her we would take her up on the generous offer sometime in the future, and bid her adieu.

Upon shutting the door, what ensued was one of the all-time most frenzied flying chest bump sessions in human history. What lucky star was it shining down upon us that fated, feted eve? An apartment full of women, located 3 feet away, stocked to the gills with booze, had opened its doors to us. God is good.

Having figured we'd played it cool long enough, we headed over to their apartment about 4 1/2 minutes later. As it turns out, some of the women living there were friends with a group of soldiers stationed at Fort Lewis. The "army boys" as we would all come to call them, would stock their car up with discounted liquor from the Base Exchange, bring it as offering to the women, and leave the leftovers behind. Even better! Spirits taste sweetest when furnished by the United States Military. It's what's known as equitable re-appropriation of the federal budget.

Mostly what was in stock was rum - Bacardi, Castillo, Potters, Malibu...all the best stuff.

While taking shots of rot gut rum can be loads of fun, eventually one comes to crave a mixed drink to change things up. A quick scan of the kitchen cabinets revealed a Costco-sized container of Tang mix. Moments later saw the birth of the now legendary cocktail, "The Rummatang!"

Rummatang!

Fill plastic tumbler with ice
fill halfway with rum
top with Tang
umm...I guess you could stir it.
(Amyl Nitrate garnish optional)

As nicely balanced a drink as the Rummatang! is, it lacks somewhat in complexity, and thus becomes somewhat redundant after consuming 7-8 per night every night for a month. So one can imagine T.Mixeur's delight when discovering a new jar of powder in the women's cabinet, generic lemonade!

Rummonade!

Fill plastic tumbler with ice
fill halfway with rum
top with Lemonade
Yeah, you probably should stir it, or just dump the whole thing into another tumbler, preferably a clean one, but, you know, work with what you got.

This drink addresses an entirely different area of the palette, an area commonly known in cocktail and foodie circles as the "Yellow Number 5 Area." It is strong in its effervescence, much more so than the Rummatang!, but it's a bit too much in one direction, at least in its ability to stand up to repeated consumption, and repeated consumption..,.and repeated consumption.

And then, the solution occurred to me. There would need to be a combination of the previous two drinks...

Rummalemmotang!

Fill plastic tumbler with ice
fill halfway with rum
fill to 3/4 full with Lemonade
top with Tang
hold drink up, wave it around wildly, proclaiming your genius to everyone in the room - the drink will become properly mixed in the process.

The Rummalemmotang! is sheer cocktail perfection. The lemonade's Glycerol Ester Of Wood Rosin gets into a delightful interplay with the Xanthan and Cellulose gums in the Tang, and oh baby...they do the dance. Yes they do.

Before I leave you, I must add one more creation from this period of my life. This one is perfect for a road trip, particularly one that culminates with everyone's favorite pastime: drinking in public with underage women! Yes!

Suntan Lotion

1 20 oz bottle lemon lime soda (I used Sierra Mist)
Malibu Rum
A car with poor suspension and shock absorbers made using springs from an old Murphy bed (I used a 1977 Plymouth Trail Duster).
60 miles of winding, hilly roads (I used State Route 108)

Drink or pour out half the contents of the lemon lime soda
fill with Malibu
place bottle in "way-back" of car on its side, to ensure it will roll around.
drive to your destination.
find remote spot, such as the tall reeds growing near the pacific coast shoreline.
drink.

And there you have it, my not-so-guilty pleasures.

(Editor's note: Le Mixeur in no way condones the recreational use of Amyl Nitrate or other pharmaceuticals, particularly those taken illegally from a United States Military hospital. Nor do we condone the consumption of alcohol in public, particularly with underage women...however, we wish to stress that we in no way feel guilty for the times this practice, accidentally and without premeditation on our part, occurred in the past. What's done is done. You can't change the past...hey! stop looking at me like that! Oh like you're so perfect and never did anything slightly immoral or illegal! Judge not lest ye be judged! Let he who is without sin cast...something something something...

Again, we acknowledge no guilt or shame regarding any of these matters. We maintain clean conscience, not to mention moral high ground. Thank you.)









Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Octroi d'une certaine mère fuckers leur propers

No one likes the award recipient speech that drags on and on, thanking everyone under the sun, until the crappy music starts playing to send us out to commercial (unless it's Cuba Gooding Jr, in which case everyone loves you, even Goldie Hawn). But there are many people who deserve mention for their efforts that have not been adequately mentioned yet. Plus, Le Mixeur has not been granted any award (yet) and we have no commercial breaks (yet).

So that said, let's start with Ma and Pa Harris of Gordon's On The Green, who required a Costco extra jumbo sized cart to transfer in the amazing assortment of cheeses, crackers, and other goodies they provided. They did this without charge, without being begged. They even set it up and made it look pretty for us on their own serving dishes. Bless their hearts. And bless their business with your patronage if ever in the greater Tukwila area. Having spent a fair amount of time in South King County, I can pretty much guarantee you will not find better fare than a place run by the Harris clan and a certain Anu Apte.

Also thanks to Jean, better known as Le Belly Dancer. I was only peripherally aware of her presence due to my pre-occupation with the bar, but judging from post-Mixeur comments and photos, I think it's safe to say that it was a big hit. Hopefully Jean has not since been besieged with clumsy advances from lovesick fools. See you next time, Jean?





And merci to my roommate and our DJ, Andrew Means. Andrew not only provided us with the prefect collage of sound throughout the night, not only some nifty dance floor lights, but also with his own unique form of interpretive dance - and what he was interpreting was the raw power of soul. Rare is it indeed, that the DJ not only inspires butts to be shaken, but also provides a demonstration of the manner in which they should be shook.




I'd like to thank my brother Ben for one of the most amazingly spastic bar performances of all time, one that if the drug were right should be added to the film Reefer Madness, and also for fetching me glasses of water just when I needed them.




I'd like to thank Dashiell and Nick for bringing me a lovely assortment of cheese and nuts from the Gordon's On The Green Spread.

And while we're at it, let's again thank Martin Miller's Gin for sponsoring us. Everyone please recall this one indisputable fact: each time a person buys a bottle of Martin Miller's gin, an angel gets its wings.

I feel mortified I told Jon Santer we would need 18 bottles of gin, and we only went through 17 and 3/4 bottles. Sorry for the confusion Jon.

And while I'm on the subject of Jon, thanks for buying the 6 pack of tiger beer so we were permitted to leave Uwajimaya's parking lot, and for the delicious 'bourbon" candy. And if you ever work in a bar again and I come there for a drink, I plan to stir it myself with a technique so astonishing it leaves everyone gasping for air.

And last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank all of you who did NOT come. Without you, there would have been even more people, and I would have been forced to swallow the cyanide capsule I keep on a necklace at all times (incidentally, 1. 5 oz gin, .75 oz sweet vermouth, .50 oz cointreau, dash orange bitters, 1 cyanide capsule = heaven), and the party would have been at least somewhat altered by the presence of a dead person behind the bar. So thank you! (but come to the next one, because more skilled, less emotional people will be behind the bar).

Go Raibh Maith Agat!

That's irish for thank you.

Le Gra,

That's Irish for with love

T.Mixeur (who does not know exactly why he is speaking Irish)


...now let's move on already. There's a mixmo coming up and I have a bottle of Aurum to brag about.

Monday, October 6, 2008

After The Fall

Thank you to all who came, who helped, who tried to come, and who wished they could be there.

I still have not been imbued with any ability to create an official report or summary of what happened Saturday night. However, the next morning, as the others slumbered, I perched myself on a bar stool, looked out across the ruins of the bar and loft, grabbed a menu, and wrote these recollections with my penny pencil...



Everything you remember exists just as you recall, except perhaps you forgot how the love radiated amber. And it's possible you overlooked the village in the shady valley, where orange blossoms rained from the planets...or the one precious place without corners, where secrets were shared and eyelashes blew kisses in the air. If you concentrate, you can recollect all these jewels, like an architect putting rail cars to rest. You can burst eternity into a corrected, altered, accurate, true, and real story of your past. And everyone and everything you ever dreamed or envisioned will come see you tonight for a taste of this sweet, sweet wine.

I had a dream about Le Mixeur last night...

A divine light shone down to reveal a glorious path...there was a congregation of old women on the path...it was all love...they opened their shawls before us and we entered through the thinnest of veils into a blessed womb...a place where no one was bad, no one was ugly, no one was damaged, maimed, fractured, or lost...We all looked inward, and there we found each other, and we witnessed one another for the first time. And we appeared to one another as if babies...we searched for one another as if mothers...we caressed and consoled one another as if planets, moons, atoms, and dust. We wept puddles of joy onto the earth beneath us, and splashed each other with the water we made. And the mist from our play touched the fibers of each leaf on each tree above us, and they all erupted in the most beautiful song...and the knots in our throats pulsated electric, becoming motors, propelling us outward into the atmosphere, forming iconic streaks of clouds that stretched across the night blue sky...and as the symphony wound down, we all wished, with every hope we had, that none of this transcendent essence would ever leave us...and so, it doesn't.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Drink of Cinq: Zane Harris and Anu Apte

The last in our series of posts on the drinks of Le Mixeur Cinq...It's tonight!!!!


ZANE HARRIS AND ANU APTE


What can I say about Zane and Anu, other than thank you! Thank you both for the use of your beautiful home, the contribution of this beautiful drink, all of your beautiful work, and for your beautiful friendship...and everyone should go to Vessel and see Zane work and then figure out where they can find Anu doing the same.


Without further ado, let's look at the drink and get on with the ceremonies...


Smallflower

2 oz El Jimador Reposado tequila
1/2 oz lavender honey syrup
barspoon Laphroig
healthy dash (goodly dash even!) Regan's Orange Bitters

stir and strain into cocktail glass
garnish with lemon twist



PHOTO BY ZANE HARRIS

And there you have it for the menu for the Latest Le Mixeur. 8pm tonight is our starting time, here in sleepy little Seattle. Thanks again to all the drink contributors, to Jim Romdall, Amy, Lela, Bridget, Josho, and Paula for their help. And to Jon Santer, Emma Davis, and Martin Miller's gin for their support.

T.Mixeur's power cord on Le Laptop has failed, and the battery is about to die...we must sign off and go begin our sacred preparations.

Le Gra,
T.Mixeur






Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Drink of Cinq: Keith Waldbauer

Le Mixeur Cinq will be held on Saturday, October 4, at 8pm. The drink menu for the event is comprised of original creations of esteemed bartenders from Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Over the next week, we will be featuring a post on each of the contributors and their drink.

KEITH WALDBAUER

Ladies and gentlemen, Keith Waldbauer IS moving at the speed of life...




See? Told you so.

Keith reigns supreme at the bar at Union, and pretty much does the same wherever else he moves his life. He is probably the only bartender I know who used to drive a cab (and there have been moments, upon departing Union late at night, when I wished he still did). He is definitely the only bartender I know to have shared a, uhhh...nice hot cup of tea and a scone with Allen Ginsburg. Ginsburg most certainly imparted much mixological wisdom to Keith. For example...

Ginsburg on sage advice for customers:

"Don't drink yourself to death."

On precision in making a cocktail:

"The measuring instrument determines the appearance of the phenomenal world (after Einstein)."

On conversation techniques with customers:

"Maximum information, minimum number of syllables."

On the nature and essence of bartenders:

"We are observer, measuring instrument, eye, subject, Person."

(All quotes taken from Ginsburg's poem, "Cosmopolitan Greetings," named after his favorite cocktail).


The Aristocrat Swizzle

1 ¾ oz gin
¾ oz lime
10 mint leaves
dash simple syrup
barspoon Chartreuse


muddle mint and syrup
add gin, lime
shake, strain into collins glass
top with crushed ice, stir
float Chartreuse




PHOTO BY ZANE HARRIS

Please, do not even ask us why this drink is called The Aristocrat Swizzle...and don't click on that hyperlink either! I'm serious!

Keith, Vous êtes le lauréat de poète de la génération de cocktail! Merci pour la belle boisson!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Drink of Cinq: Andrew Bohrer

Le Mixeur Cinq will be held on Saturday, October 4, at 8pm. The drink menu for the event is comprised of original creations of esteemed bartenders from Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Over the next week, we will be featuring a post on each of the contributors and their drink.

ANDREW BOHRER

Andrew est une énigme...Heard of him did I from another man named Andrew. Met him did I in some forsaken corner of the Carousel Bar in New Orleans. Would you perhaps think the Carousel Bar during Tales of the Cocktail might not be the place to maintain a low profile? If that be the case, perhaps know you not how Andrew comports himself.

Upon our return from New Orleans to Seattle, Andrew and I crossed paths again at his then place of work, 22 Doors. I bestowed upon him a gift of MP Roux. As I departed that evening, I glanced back towards the bar and witnessed him struggling to locate a shelf to house this unusually tall vessel, without success.

The following day, I received word he, like I, had departed 22 Doors, never to return. Puzzled, I queried him as to whether or not this was related to the absence of a suitable home for the Roux. He denied this to be the case, but...

Since that fateful eve, Andrew has been a drifter. The crew at Vessel is quick to claim him as one of their own, yet cannot pinpoint when he might actually tend their blessed bar. Odd missives emerged at one point from the man himself, proclaiming his occupancy of Tost Lounge, replete with intimations of flair bartending. Anonymous sources insist he is soon to be setting roots at a new classic cocktail bar on the wrong side of the lake, Bellevue.

Wherever he be, the indisputable truth is that Andrew conjures miraculous things, such as...

The Randy Baker

1 1/2 oz Martin Miller's Gin
1 1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 a kiwi fruit
1 egg white

muddle kiwi
add ingredients and ice
shake and strain over ice into highball glass
top with champagne



PHOTO BY ZANE HARRIS

Some notes: This drink, as presented, is both overly faithful and unfaithful to Andrew's vision. We list above 1 1/2 oz St. Germain, yet we have decided to serve it at Le Mixeur Cinq with a mere 1 oz. And Andrew garnishes this drink with an orange peel cut into a rose. With an expected output of 50 or more, we shan't be providing such a aesthetically pleasing accompaniment. It looks and tastes beautiful even without.

Dieu être avec vous empereur noir, Andrew!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Drink of Cinq: Kevin Diedrich

Le Mixeur Cinq will be held on Saturday, October 4, at 8pm. The drink menu for the event is comprised of original creations of esteemed bartenders from Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Over the next week, we will be featuring a post on each of the contributors and their drink.

KEVIN DIEDRICH

Kevin Diedrich showed up at the doorstep of Bourbon and Branch one dark and rainy night in San Francisco, a stranger from the wiles of who knows where, a shoulder bag of bar tools slung over one arm, and a 1000 yard stare in his eyes. Instinctively, the staff on shift that night stepped aside and yielded the bar to him, and the course of everyone's lives changed.

Bourbon and Branch, which to that point had been specializing in over-sized,
fruit infused vodka "tinis," changed their bar program that very same night, and became the Bourbon and Branch we all know and love today.

No one was ever quite sure where Kevin came from. Rumors sprung up that he'd honed his craft on the tough streets of Detroit, engaging in freestyle "battle mixes" late night in city parks or back alleys, where the loser would receive a serious beatdown from the crowd.

And then, just as soon as he'd arrived, he vanished one other dark and rainy night in San Francisco. No one is sure where he went to, but they say you might want to try Clock Bar Thursday through Monday nights. Some even say, if you head down to Bourbon and Branch and peer ever so hard into the candlelight, you can still see his spirit mixing drinks behind the bar there (and you're most likely to experience this phenomenon if you're there on a Tuesday or Wednesday...I don't pretend to understand the machinations of the supernatural).

(editor's note: pretty much everything you've just read is crap, except Kevin really does work at Clock Bar and sometimes still Bourbon and Branch, and he really is a supernatural force behind the bar)

Spiced Marmalade

2 oz gin
1 oz oj
dash of agave nectar
barspoon of orange marmalade
3-4 cloves

toast cloves lightly with a brulee torch
pound'em up
add rest of ingredients
shake and fine strain into cocktail glass
garnish with lemon twist



PHOTO BY ZANE HARRIS

We added a dash of Angostura Orange Bitters when making this, and we believe it will stay. I suggested we make one with and one without, and decide which was better. But Zane astutely pointed out that the drink with bitters in it would have bitters in it, whereas the drink without bitters in it would not have bitters in it, and therefore we could assume that the drink with bitters in it would be better.

Merci à Kevin pour votre esprit et votre voie avec spiritueux!

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Drink of Cinq: Lance Mayhew


Le Mixeur Cinq will be held on Saturday, October 4, at 8pm. The drink menu for the event is comprised of original creations of esteemed bartenders from Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Over the next week, we will be featuring a post on each of the contributors and their drink.

LANCE MAYHEW

Lance is a brilliant bartender currently plying his trade primarily at 50 Plates in Portland, OR. He is also the president of the Oregon Bartender's Guild, the keeper of a fine cocktail blog, and an all around fine human being.

Lance once donated a kidney to save my dog's life (not sure whose kidney it was). He helps old ladies cross the street, even if they don't want to. He found a cure for cancer once, but got rid of it because he was worried the other scientists would feel bad for not having thought of it themselves (hint: it involves home-smoked bourbon and bacon fat).

And he loves to show people a good time when they come to see him at his temple, also known as a bar.

And he gave us a drink recipe for Le Mixeur Cinq, which in and of itself makes him totally cool.

Here it is:

North Beach Bramble

1 oz Martin Miller's Gin
1 oz Aperol
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup

shake and strain into a cocktail glass
garnish with lemon twist



PHOTO BY ZANE HARRIS


Let me just add that the intellectual and moral satisfaction that I failed to gain from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, the evolutionary methods of Marx and Lenin, the social contract theory of Hobbes, the 'back to nature' optimism of Rousseau, and the superman philosophy of Nietzsche, I found in the bartending of Lance.

(Editor's note: the author lifted this quote from Martin Luther King, who was referring to Gandhi, and not about the Mahatma's bartending abilities, but his non-violent resistance philosophy...but who are we to split hairs?)

Merci pour être avec nous, Lance!

.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Drink of Cinq: Andrew Friedman

Le Mixeur Cinq will be held on Saturday, October 4, at 8pm. The drink menu for the event is comprised of original creations of esteemed bartenders from Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Over the next week, we will be featuring a post on each of the contributors and their drink.

ANDREW FRIEDMAN

Andrew describes himself as the "often-happy owner of Liberty, a scratch, classic cocktail bar in Sunny Seattle, where bourbon is adored and rye is cherished."

Liberty is nestled up on 15th on Capitol Hill. Have you ever wished you could go to a bar with an amazing selection of whiskeys, a cocktail list about 38 pages long, free wi-fi, and an all-sushi food menu? Me too! All my life, in fact. Imagine the dismay of Mom Mixeur, when T.Mixeur was but a lad, and begged of her, "give me liberty," and upon arriving in Philadelphia to gaze upon that glorious bell, did say to her, "where's the fucking whiskey, sushi, and wi-fi?"

If you go to this preferred form of Liberty and don't see Andrew, wait a little while. He'll be along soon enough.

The Unnamed Orange Bomb
(or perhaps, The Andrew F. Bomb)

1 oz 100 proof rye
1 oz cognac
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Orange Tincture
6 drops of Orange Flower Water

stir over ice
strain into a cocktail glass
garnish with a...get this: "Candied, Brandy Orange Slice."
(Andrew is a true deviant and all-around dangerous human being)

pictured sans silly garnish
PHOTO BY ZANE HARRIS



Andrew has dedicated his life to ensuring that a substantial portion of the populace of Seattle reeks of whiskey and raw fish. Our advice to anyone reeking of whiskey and raw fish: seek out some sort of solitary pursuit, such as, I don't know, surfing the internet. Anyone know of a good place on the Hill with free wi-fi?

(Andrew is a true deviant and all-around dangerous human being)


editor's note: Et pourtant, Andrew est un vrai monsieur et un barman!





Wednesday, September 10, 2008

C. Mixeur: Saumuré dans vinaigre!

(Editor's ACTUAL note: the ensuing comments attributed to"editor" and T.Mixeur and Mom Mixeur are, in fact, the internal dialogue continuously running through the mind of guest-blogger C.Mixeur, which he actually interprets as being conversations with others. We hope this provides the reader with some insight into C.Mixeur's peculiar brand of psychosis. For more insight, view the film "A Beautiful Mind," keeping in mind that in real life there are no Hollywood endings...sigh.)


Quel idiot a mis le vinaigre balsamique dans ma boisson?

For those Mixeurs (and Mixeuses) who have never experienced the ambrosia that is aged balsamic vinegar, C. Mixeur can only express his heartfelt sympathy. Break open the piggy bank, count out, um, well, $600, and get yourself a tiny bottle of Acetaia Leonardi Riserva Oro 100 year Balsamic Vinegar. You will not regret it, unless, of course, you care about such mundane things as paying your rent, eating, etc. I sure as hell don't care about those things. Ask my creditors.

OK, fine. You can get a rough approximation of the experience for a mere $45 per 250ml by seeking out a bottle of Villa Manodori Balsamic Vinegar. Some time ago, I bought a bottle myself at Di Laurenti's down at Seattle's Pike Place Market. That bottle had been gathering dust in my kitchen cupboard until last Wednesday when the ineffable Zane Harris, the best bartender (with the possible exception of one other guy) at Seattle's Vessel cocktail bar, changed everything.

I was entering my twelfth straight hour of intensive, grueling work that evening -- oh, OK, I was snooping around on Facebook after goofing off for several hours, so sue me -- when I received a highly confidential "status update" from Mr. Harris which he had posted for everyone on Facebook to see. In it he asked for suggestions for a "secret ingredient" with which to experiment that very evening at Vessel. Well, I can't speak for you, dear reader, but when someone says "secret ingredient" in the same sentence with "cocktail recipe," then the first word that leaps into my mind is VINEGAR. I mean, it's a great topping for ice cream and works well in espresso -- and boy does it do wonders for beef jerky! -- so why not cocktails? I'm surprised a dozen people didn't rush to suggest it.

[Editor's note: It is becoming increasingly obvious that C. Mixeur is from another planet and potentially dangerous. It is probably safe for you to continue reading this post, but try to avoid any sudden moves. Or, if your stomach is the nervous sort, please back away slowly and come back when it's safer.]

Um, excuse me, "T. Mixeur," if that really is your name, but you said I could make this guest post and you promised not to interrupt me. Now I don't interrupt your posts, so I expect you to keep your word.

[Editor's note: Um, sure, "C. Mixeur." Sorry. (Psst: just humor him. He'll go away eventually.)]

Hey! I can read, you know. Oh, never mind. Where was I? Right: vinegar. OK, long story short, I grabbed my bottle of Villa Manodori and hightailed it down to Vessel, where Zane was already holding court. It was a slow night, so we had plenty of time to experiment. Shortly after I arrived, the inbimnimable, the inimitminble, the, uh, the difficult-to-imitate Rocky Yeh showed up and together with Zane we formed what we called the "Brain Trust."

[Editor's note: That makes sense. Roughly 1/3 of a brain each equals one full brain... we trust.]

Shut up! You are completely throwing me off here. I'm getting all freaked out!

Right. Well, it turns out that aged balsamic vinegar mixes really well with lots of things. The first drink we came up with we called the:

Balsamic Tequila Thing

1 1/2 oz. tequila blanco
1/2 oz. aged balsamic
1/4 oz. raspberry liqueur (homemade)
1 dash Fee Brothers Aged Whiskey bitters

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Or was it a rocks glass?

That was pretty good, but we thought we could do better. At this point, a synapse in C. Mixeur's brain sprang to life after a long period of disuse, and he had what most people call "an idea." Why the hell am I speaking of myself in the third person? This blog drives me crazy. So it occurred to me, "This vinegar stuff would go well with bourbon." And guess what! I was so very right. Take that, T. "Mixeur."

[Editor's note: Dude, you're losing it.]

Mom!!? Ted keeps interrupting my Le Mixeur post!

[M. Mixeur note: Charles, you are almost 50 years old. Don't you think you should be able to work things out with your younger brother by yourself by now?]

[Editor's note: Heh, heh. Busted!]

Fine! Fine! FINE! So we put a quarter ounce of the aged balsamic in an ounce and half of bourbon (Woodford Reserve, if I remember correctly), and damned if it wasn't pretty stupendous all by itself. But the Brain Trust cannot leave well enough alone, so we threw in a quarter ounce of Amaro Nonino. That was pretty good, but later experimentation revealed that Cynar worked better, so now we have:

The Balsamic Bourbon Thing


1 1/2 ounce bourbon
1/4 ounce aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 ounce Cynar

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

At this point Rocky chipped in with the suggestion that we mix the balsamic with Laphroaig, which frankly I thought was going to be really awful. But we're fearless folks, and after mixing one and a half ounces of Laphroaig with a quarter ounce of the aged balsamic, I was very surprised and had to admit that I'd been wrong. We had discovered something truly new! Laphroaig and aged balsamic vinegar is way fucking worse than any of us could ever have guessed! The extreme smokiness of the Laphroaig binds in some way with the sourness of the vinegar and creates what may be a sixth taste. [Note to food chemists: you saw it here first. If research bears out our finding, we propose to name this sixth taste sensation "blaargk," which is pronounced as the sound of a person expectorating or possibly vomiting.]

But good can come from bad, and Zane quickly stepped in to cover for Rocky's faux pas. [Look, Ted, real French! Happy now?] He suggested that we try a different scotch and I suggested Yamazaki 12 year single malt because, hey, we were drinking for free (heh, heh) and I'm not stupid. You might want to use Famous Grouse if a 12 year single malt seems wasted in a drink with vinegar, i.e. if you are not utterly insane. Thus we have:

The Balsamic Scotch Thing

[Editor's note: Are you fucking kidding me? I let you post to the blog and the best you can come up with is three drinks called the "Balsamic Thing"?]

Hey, man, why you always got to be bringing me down? Maybe it's a learning disability. You got a problem with that?

[Editor's note: Fine. Go ahead. But this is the last time you're posting to this blog for a long time.]

Ahem! As I was saying:

The Balsamic Scotch Thing

1 1/2 ounce of Scotch (try it with Famous Grouse)
1/2 ounce aged balsamic vinegar (we bumped it up a bit)
1 dash Angostura orange bitters (which makes everything really yummy!)

[Attention Angostura company: Make the check out to Charles F. Munat, please. Not Ted!]

Stir, strain, whatever.

Now at this point, with three drinks under our belt, we began to force other patrons in the bar to try them. To my right was the amazing Anu Apte and to her right was Anu's friend Hallie, who spent the whole night making sure that Anu didn't have to talk to me at all. Thanks, Callie. At the opposite end of the bar, and looking a bit nervous since we were between them and the door, sat Zoë and Aneal Gadgil, two people with very cool names, which is why we included them here. I am proud to report that all of these other patrons at the bar were astounded and amazed by the supreme deliciousness of our vinegar cocktails. Please send accolades and big checks to C. Mixeur, c/o Le Mixeur, Seattle, Washington. Cash works, too.

But the best was yet to come:

The Balsamic Flip! [Happy, Ted? It's not called the fucking "Thing."]

In a mixing glass add:

1 1/2 ounces of Cognac (Bourbon works, too)
1 whole egg
1/2 ounce aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/2 ounce cream

Shake like hell! Strain into a cocktail glass and top with freshly ground nutmeg.

This one was so outstanding that Aneal and Zoë, who had been backing slowly towards the door while nodding vigorously, changed their minds and sat back down at the bar. Even Anu broke away from Hallie's spell and said three or four words to me, which, frankly, made the whole drinking vinegar thing worth it.

Then, I don't know, some people left. I wasn't really paying attention. Eventually, Zane closed the bar and we went over to Tini B... I mean, the secret bar that Jamie Boudreau works at and told him all about our experiments with aged balsamic vinegar and he, um, well actually he didn't look like he was very interested at all, really.

But then on Saturday, Zane and Anu threw a party at their super cool SoDo loft. Several hundred of Seattle's biggest movers and shakers were there. [Editor's note: Fewer than a dozen people showed up.] Bill Gates and Paul Allen showed up! [Editor's note: No they didn't.] And for several hours, some of the best cocktail geeks in Seattle, including Robert Hess, Jamie Boudreau, Jim Romdall, Andrew Friedman, Dave Nelson, and a couple of gate crashers from Vancouver, Bryant Mao and Shaun Layton, made and drank cocktails containing aged balsamic vinegar. And all thanks to me, me, me!

Fine. You can have your blog back now.



C. Mixeur watches as his friend of more than five years, Zac Jensen, reconsiders their friendship, Zane Harris looks on in disbelief, and Canadian Shaun Layton, unsure of what to do with a drink containing vinegar, decides to simply snort it directly up his nose.