Saturday, May 29, 2010

RIP Dennis Hopper

First Gary Coleman, now Dennis Hopper.  What is this world coming to?

We all know Dennis from his great portrayals in Easy Rider and Blue Velvet .  He has a more obscure scene with Christopher Walken in True Romance (one of my Top 10 Movies of all time) that I embed below.  I will warn you though, the content is racial and probably one of the best ad-lib scenes in film history.  Definitely NSFW

As great as he was in True Romance, IMO his best performance (and the one he was nominated for an Oscar for) was Shooter in the movie Hoosiers.

Wilbur "Shooter" Blatch is the alcoholic father of one of Coach Normal Dale’s (Gene Hackman) players. During the movie, Shooter is able to use basketball and his relationship with his son, Everett, to dry out and join the team as an Assistant Coach.  Wanting to give confidence to Shooter, Coach Dale has himself thrown from game and  Shooter must step into Dale's shoes….the rest is magic.

Mr. Hopper, you gave us some great moments…..Thank you from the bottom of my movie loving heart.  Now don’t get caught watching the paint dry on your way to Heaven.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Whatchoo Talking Bout Willis


Today we learned of the passing of a great child star of the 80’s, Mr. Gary Coleman.

With a career that spanned such classics TV Shows as: Different Strokes, Buck Rogers, Good Times and The Jeffersons (and many others)….you think that would be enough of a success.

But Gary wasn’t finished, he went on to appear is many movies, such as: ….well, none of them really amounted to anything, but he was in Midgets and Mascots that has a frontal nudity shot of him.

He met Mohammed Ali, Nancy Reagan and even ran for Governor of California.

Gary lived a full life, and it is a tragedy that it ended so early.

The Folks over at have a list of some of Gary’s favorite drinks (he seemed partial to Baily’s), so check that out and do as I am….having an Irish Car Bomb in his memory.

Carbomb Drink Recipe
1/2 shot  Irish Cream
1/2 shot  Irish Whiskey
1 pint  Guinness Stout
Combine (proportions of 50/50) Bailey's Irish Cream and Irish Whiskey into one shot glass. Drop the shot into a mug of Guinness and chugg until empty.

RIP Gary….and Cheers

Worst Ad Campaign Ever (unless you are Tom)

I really do not get what the Italians are thinking. 


They have recently launched a  new campaign that shows a fetus in a curled up position in the bottom of the glass, beneath ice cubes and a slice of orange (a drink called a Spritz).  The simple message says - "When Mum drinks, baby drinks too" ("Mama beve, bimbo beve" in Italian).

I understand that women shouldn’t drink while pregnant.  But I also understand that they shouldn’t smoke, yet it is the right of the woman to decide.

To throw this kind of propaganda on the sides of buses, on billboards and in print ads is kinda tasteless and I doubt it will have much impact.

I also love these numbers from the Institute of Pulling Stats out of Your Ass:

  • 65 per cent of women in Italy consume alcohol during their pregnancy
  • Veneto, which includes Venice, has Italy's second highest rate of alcohol consumption, with around 67 per cent of women saying they drink regularly.
  • In Europe as a whole, one baby in every hundred runs the risk of health problems as a result of its mother drinking during pregnancy, according to the European Alcohol Policy Alliance.
  • Up to 79 per cent of women in the UK drink while pregnant.

I’ll never know how our generation survived as long we have.  I know for a fact that both of my parents drank like fish and chainsmoked.  Throw in Lawn-jarts, lead/tin soldiers, sugar soda and all the other dangers….we must be luckiest to exist.

Original Story

Only in Wrigleyville

I’ve been to lots of baseball games and know how tough it is to get players attention (R-E-G-G-I-E) to get a ball tossed your way, especially by the visiting team.  I can only imagine it is 10 times worse at Wrigley when you are sitting in the bleachers, ie the most wretched hive of scum and villainy.

So, when a member of the visiting Atlanta Braves throws you  a ball during batting practice, you make the most of it……..


Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Sad day

Today I learned that one of my favorite stores in Columbia has closed.

Tinderbox/Vino 100 has apparently finally closed shop. 

I’ve known Kevin since he first opened and he was the only shop in that building (or it seemed like it). 

We attended some great tastings (I’ll never forget the Gin one), events (Curly and Bourbon and BBQ event was awesome, and to think I first met Randy W. there) and even won a great prize (the Humidor is mine) while smoking cigars with a Playboy Playmate.

His smoking lounge was a great place to relax and was the location of Brian’s bachelor party.

Kevin really had an impact on CoMO, from fighting the Smoking Ban…to raising the stakes on how a Cigar Shop should be run, leading to the Nostalgia Shop uping it’s game.

He introduced quality scotch to Columbia….and the shop will be sorely missed.

Thanks Kevin for some great memories.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The calm before the storm

There is a certain beauty to sitting outside right before a storm.

As I type this, I have drug my laptop to the extent of the wireless range, to watch an incoming storm and enjoy a smoke.

The moon is close to full (if not) and an unusual SE to NW storm is working towards me.  The lightning on the horizon as it closes in, coupled with the still night air (aside from the bats nailing bugs and frogs in the pasture) totally make a perfect smoking environment.

Tonight I am smoking one of my initial Cigar of the Month Club (Happy Fathers Day to me) cigars, a Gurkha Centurion.  I know I have been lazy and haven't outlined what was in the initial package yet (even though I have already sampled AND LOVED the Man O’ War), but tonight is just about enjoyment.

First of all, I love the Gurkha Line of cigars.  Hands down.  The are fantastic sticks and once that frequent my humidor often. 

Wrapper: Connecticut / DR
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican

Light and Draw: Easier than what I expected.  This stick stayed light the entire smoke and maintained the hold on the ash the entire way.

Taste: I definitely get the pepper that other reviewers note, yet something seems hidden behind everything that I can’t quite put my finger on.  It that “Something” that keeps bringing me back to Gurkha.  There is an earthy aftertaste, although it is not either unpleasant nor overpowering.  In fact, this is one of the smother Gurkhas I have tried.

Past the Sweet spot:  Once the cigar hit the sweet spot, it just kept going and going.  Twice I had to set it down to go inside (my son is sleeping on the couch due to the storm) and I picked it up mid-stride just fine.

Pairing:  As you may know from my previous posts, I am totally in love with Blackheart Premium Rum.  And when you pair this with cigars (in this case the Gurkha Centurion), it makes for an excellent evening.  The pepper of the cigar intermingles well with the spices of the rum to create a Caribbean experience for me here in in MidMo.

Overall, I like this cigar and I will be adding 5-10 sticks to the humidor for a rum night and friends over. 

I would recommend this to any of my friends and KNOW that I my guarantee to buy back what they don't like would never be envoked.

Great Smoke.  4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A blind taste test

As I posted HERE, I really like the new Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum.  Well, yesterday Ably and K came over and we had a blind taste test comparing it to Sailor Jerry and Captain Morgan.

As I set this up, it was amazing to see the color comparisons between the two lesser known and Cpt Morgan.  Blackheart and Sailor Jerry have deep brown/caramel coloring, while Cpt Morgan’s looked like a light tea.

I mixed them up and brought them to Alby, so he could try.

What is funny, he aligned perfectly with me.  Noting the vastly superior flavors in Blackheart, and rating Captain Morgan's dead last (“Weak, like regular rum/Bacardi with a few spices thrown in as an afterthought”).

I now have another convert on the spiced rum front and I feel fairly confident that he either has a bottle at home right now, or will be picking up one in the next few days.

Everyone, if you haven’t tried Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum, you are really missing out…especially this is your niche.

Check it out…you won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

$4 bottle of Rum – One of the best I’ve had

Ok, now I know I have your attention…..especially you bastards in the cheap seats.

Today I was prowling my local liquor section, and I saw something next to the Sailor Jerry Rum….a bottle that looked like it was intended to mate with it…..Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum

At $14 a bottle, how could I say no? (Ed Note – Sailor Jerry is going for $17 a bottle, so there is not much price difference).

Expecting a Sailor Jerry knockoff…..not only was I pleasantly surprised, but very impressed.

In fact, Blackheart beat Sailor Jerry in every important category.

First, Blackheart has a Hot Pirate Chick on the Bottle…Sailor Jerry a tattoo Hula Girl.

Second, 93 Proof vs 92 Proof.

Third, price is comparable….but Blackheart has a great 2nd time buy incentive (see below)

Finally, the drink itself

Nose- Sweet, light, refreshing.  Hints of fruit (oranges) linger behind a vanilla aroma.

Taste- The vanilla comes out in force (especially when splashed with water) , combined with a nutmeg and oak burn.  Love it.

Finish- Neat, dry oak finish….very delicate and no burn, even when drank neat.

Not only did I come away impressed with the rum, but I think it puts Captain Morgan’s to Shame……Sailor Jerry was just boarded and forced to walk the plank.

I also noticed the hang-tag attached to the bottle offering a $10 mail-in rebate.  Considering that a single costs on $14 (here in inflation driven Boondocks MO), for basically $18 you can enjoy one bottle and stock your bar with another.

In fact, I am currently working on a write-up (augmenting an article) on setting up a bar, and I can honestly say…….if you like Spiced Rum, Blackheart is the way to go…..both Well AND Top Shelf.

If I were to rate this as a non-mixer, but straight (as I do all liquors), Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum is literally a 5 Star Product, and one that I would recommend to anyone.

Pick it up and enjoy a glass…..I know I am.


Skulls and Gimlets

Two things I have written about in the past have appeared in the news and this gives a chance to catch up and also revisit old posts.

The first article involves Crystal Skull Vodka.  As you know, I bought this awhile back and we really liked it.  The bottle was cool and surprisingly, the vodka was some of the best I had tried.

HERE is the original write up.

Well, now it appears that the market has considerably expanded and now they want to push into Canada.  However, they have now been banned by the Liquor Control Board for Ontario (LCBO) due to the fact that “The image of the human skill is the thing that is really problematic for us,” per LCBO spokesman Chris Layton.  “That’s an image that’s commonly associated with death.  It’s especially problematic at a time when there are concerns around binge drinking by younger adults, which in some cases, unfortunately, has resulted in alcohol poisoning”.

The LCBO concerns seem to stop at only the kids, since it has been cleared for restaurant and on-line sales, so once again…a government agency (albeit a Canadian one) punishes the consumers instead of the focusing on punishing the criminals.  TYPICAL.

The second article, “The War of the Rose’s”  is regarding someone’s take on the Gimlet. 

The crux of the page is that bartenders are now using fresh lime juice in their Gimlets, yet that is not what is in the recipe.

2 oz. Gin or Vodka
2/3 oz. Rose's Lime Juice

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and shake.
Serve in a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a fresh lime wedge

There is also an interesting history of Rose’s which is funny to read (to think Rum was the preservative for lime juice cracks me up still).

HERE was my original post on the subject (I was drinking the correct style of Gimlet).

Of course, I endorse both Crystal Skull and Gimlets… to see people messing with either irks me.  So, go online and pick up a bottle of Crystal Skull (it’s also available at GrandCru in Columbia) and also raise a gimlet in silent protest.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Must have Gadget….I don’t think so.

OK, I’ve been saying this for some time….but you will never catch me shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  It’s not my kind of store.  When you think of stores like this, you think of curtains, bedding, gifts that wives buy that they think their husbands will like… in point:

The Cooper Cooler Rapid Blitz Chiller-

You'll never run out of cold beverages again with this chill-on-demand, the Rapid Blitz Chiller. It's easy to set up, too. Just add ice, water and plug in. Its patented chilling process is perfectly safe for carbonated beverages like beer and soda which will not foam over or explode upon opening. Rapidly chill your single-serve cans from 77° to 38° in two minutes and to an ice-cold 33° in four minutes. It will rapidly chill bottles from 77° to 41° in four minutes and to 36° in six minutes. The automatic timer lever with three pre-set times shuts the unit off automatically when done.

So, if I have a warm beer…..I can have it chilled in two minutes….except, what if I have two warm beers?  Or Six?  You see, the fundamental problem of this device is that you can do only one beer at a time.  How stupid is that?  Hell, I would finished with my first one before the second one is done. 

Of course, the makers of the Cooper Cooler Rapid Blitz Chiller (and Bed, Bath and Beyond) know their target audience is wives and girlfriends that really don't know what to buy their husbands.  So they go into the store (or search the website) and think “Hey, Hubby like beer…he will LOVE this”.  BUZZZZZZZZZZ Wrong Answer.

A man likes to have cold beer, yes, but he also likes to share with his buddies or have a constant stream of brew flowing…..not just one wimpy can at a time.

In fact, man would rather do a science experiment like this -

Now he can chill several beers at once, he can do other things besides cylindrical cans (the Rapid Blitz Chiller can’t), has a better understanding of science and can wow his friends……for almost nothing vs the $40 (plus shipping) for an electronic device that will probably not last the summer.

Instead of buying this crap, buy your man a nice bottle of booze or a couple of cigar sticks, have him invite some guys over and let them sit outside farting, joking and cussing…, being men.


RIP Ronnie James DIO


Here is Lemmy from Moterhead and Ronnie James Dio having a beer and introducing a song.



20 Distinguished writers and an odd Email

I get some weird Emails.  Some of them I chalk off immediately as SPAM, while others I like to dig a little into.

I recently received the following., one that piqued my interest because someone at least took the time to find out what my blog was about and targeted content.

fromSamantha Miller <>
to ME

dateWed, May 19, 2010 at 2:34 AM
subjectSmokes and Booze

hide details 2:34 AM (9 hours ago)

Hi Ed,
I know this email is out of the blue, but I just posted an article on my blog entitled “20 Distinguished Writers and Their Drink of Choice” . Anyway I figured I’d bring it to your attention in case you thought it interesting enough to drop a quick mention on your site about it as I’m trying to increase readership of my blog.
Either way, sorry for the unsolicited email and hope you have a good week.
Samantha Miller

At first I thought COOL.  Another Booze writer.  When you go to the site however, you immediately see that it is not a blog, and I suspect that “University Reviews Online” is using behind the scenes content to drive traffic to their Commerce Site.  What I particularly liked about the email is that Ms. Miller said that she “just posted”, yet it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to note the directory structure pf her “Blog” indicates October 2005.  Click here for further evidence.

Oh well, since she asked (and I find the content somewhat interesting), I will go ahead and post her article below….giving credit to the site (although the article is not signed) as to being HERE and recommend that you visit it if you are interested in the “BLOG” Content.

Please enjoy….and thanks Sam for today’s Post :)



20 Distinguished Writers and Their Drink of Choice

Stereotype dictates that brilliant, decorated, well-educated writers take to alcohol with as much – if not more – impassioned enthusiasm as they do their literary craft. While psychology and, of course, history both note a correlation between substance abuse and intelligence, the popular image of an author hacking away at a typewriter (or computer, depending on the era) with one hand while using the other to swipe swigs from a half-empty bottle of booze does not always ring true. Of course, this list has absolutely nothing at all to do with these exceptions! As the veritable Bible for what established members of the literary canon – Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers by Mark Bailey and Edward Hemingway – points out, not only do these ladies and gentlemen love themselves a drink…they oftentimes grow to develop their own alcoholic signature as well. Pour a glass of a beloved brew, faithful ferment, or a mirthful mix (but be responsible!) and settle in to read about what drinks the literati gravitate towards.

1. Ernest Hemingway – Mojito

While Ernest Hemingway wrote of numerous adult beverages – A Moveable Feast occasionally reads as if the iconic author took up residence in Paris solely for the quality wine. However, the highly refreshing mojito actually earned its place as his signature cocktail during his tenure in Havana, Cuba. A regular at the La Bodeguita del Medio, tourists now convene at the small bar to soak up the history and the cool mint, lime, and rum concoctions that the celebrated scribe so enjoyed. Hemingway also grew into connoisseurship of daiquiris as well.

2. Raymond Chandler – Gimlet

Iconic noir detective (and inspiration for “The Dude” in the Coen Brothers classic The Big Lebowski) Philip Marlowe downed gimlet after gimlet with a contemporary in The Long Goodbye. His creator, Raymond Chandler, even outlined the perfect recipe in the novel – which eventually led to the cocktail’s surge in popularity. Inclusion paralleled Chandler’s fondness for gimlets, which he developed while traversing London. Though he also favored martinis and stingers, the writer and his beloved literary creation eventually became more associated with gimlets in the minds of the reading populace.

3. Hunter S. Thompson – Chivas Regal

Though probably better associated with “two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers” (among other substances), Hunter S. Thompson’s favored drinks bounced between Chivas Regal and Wild Turkey on the rocks. Anecdote after anecdote abounds regarding his love of the former, however, and many articles make special note of its presence during conversations. Biographer E. Jean Carroll made particular note of his daily routine, where the gonzo journalist began downing Chivas Regal at 3:05 in the morning and continuously indulged at different intervals throughout the day.

4. William Faulkner – Mint Julep

As one of the quintessential Southern Gothic (not to mention American in general), it comes as little surprise that William Faulkner partook regularly of the mint julep. He also famously kept a bottle of whiskey on hand whenever sitting down at the typewriter to hammer out novels and screenplays as well. Like many creative types, Faulkner frequently skirted the line between heavy drinker and full-bore alcoholic. Benders became the norm after a while, and many times the Nobel Prize winner considered himself incapable of creativity without the assistance of intoxicating beverages.

5. Jack Kerouac – Margarita

Given his fondness for Mexican culture, it is understandable that margaritas became the drink of choice for beat generation poster boy Jack Kerouac. A story from New York City’s White Horse Tavern claims that the bathrooms once sported a message of “Kerouac, go home” above the urinals as an attempt to encourage him to sway him away from the tequila-based concoctions and into bed for some much-needed rest. Such a story remains, of course, entirely anecdotal. Regardless of the veracity regarding the graffiti, however, Kerouac was indeed a patron and still enjoyed throwing back a margarita. Or two, or three, or four…

6. Dorothy Parker – Whiskey Sour

Dorothy Parker enjoyed many a cocktail during her life – and her terse, humorous “I like to have a martini” (alternately, “I wish I could drink like a lady” poem continues to elicit laughter even today. Mixed drinks of all shapes and sizes factor prominently in many of her writings, almost always referenced in a lighthearted and occasionally self-deprecating manner. However, the famously sly, sardonic wit allegedly adored the sweet tang of a whiskey sour above all other alcoholic pleasures. Martinis, of course, also ranked high enough up there to warrant dispute amongst fans and biographers.

7. Oscar Wilde – Absinthe

Beloved Irish wordsmith Oscar Wilde counted iced champagne amongst his favorite intoxicating indulgences, but when it comes to alcohol his name remains forever entwined with the green fairy herself. He grew to love the potent beverage while living abroad in Paris, eventually penning a famously hallucinogenic account of its effects. Most people, however, accept that Wilde took more than a few liberties when it came to absinthe’s true properties – chalking up the exaggeration as intended purely for delirious entertainment value.

8. Carson McCullers – Sonnie Boy

There appears to be some dispute between whether or not Carson McCullers referred to her comforting blend of hot tea and sherry a “sonnie boy,” a “sonny boy,” or a “sunny boy.” But regardless, she almost always worked with a cup of it at her side while firing off novels and short stories. McCullers also nurtured a love of Long Island iced tea as well, but the sonnie boy holds more of an impact over her life story. Preferring to imbibe in secret, she would claim that the steaming mugs on her desk contained only the hot tea half of the equation.

9. Charles Bukowski – Boilermaker

Poet laureate of potables, Charles Bukowski wrote frequently of the role booze played in the lives of the down-and-out of America with brutal, blunt honesty. As with many hard-drinking writers, he downed many cocktails of cocktails during his life – enough to make it difficult to truly nail down which held the honor of his absolute favorite. Boilermakers, comprised of a whiskey shot accompanied by a beer (usually lager) and downed in the drinkers’ preferred style, appear to rank up there.

10. F. Scott Fitzgerald – Gin Rickey

Ernest Hemingway and other contemporaries famously taunted F. Scott Fitzgerald for his surprisingly low alcohol tolerance – but that never stopped The Great Gatsby scribe from hitting the Owl Bar and other establishments for a few rounds of gin rickeys. A very fitting choice, many claim, as the drinks enjoyed their peak in the 1920s through the 1930s when Fitzgerald thrived creatively and grew to become the era’s undeniable literary figurehead. More than anyone, he captured the empty materialism and lackadaisical attitude towards life that characterized the Roaring Twenties.

11. Tennessee Williams – Ramos Fizz

Iconic Southern playwright Tennessee Williams favored the creamy, eggy Ramos Fizz enough to immortalize it in many of his works. One of the signature drinks of New Orleans, his fans toast the shaken beverage – which contains the aforementioned egg and cream, plus lime juice, sugar, gin, and a small spray of orange flower water and soda – in his honor even today. Many residents also recommend it as an excellent, boozy way of ushering in the annual Mardi Gras festivities.

12. Dylan Thomas – Whiskey

Unfortunately, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s favored beverage, straight whiskey, eventually proved his undoing in 1953. After 18 shots in a row, he passed away after a night at the very same White Horse Tavern that Jack Kerouac and other literary and creative giants frequented. A room dedicated to his writing prowess memorializes the extremely tragic event, though he died later that fateful evening in his room at the Chelsea Hotel. Today, his name is unfortunately as synonymous with whiskey and substance abuse as with innovative modernist poetry.

13. Anne Sexton – Martini

Anne Sexton and her fellow writer Sylvia Plath met in a poetry class, and the pair would skip off to the Ritz-Carlton afterwards for a few rounds of apparently dry martinis. They welcomed other students and patrons into their fold as well, one of whom later became Sexton’s illicit lover behind her husband’s back. She apparently loved throwing caution to the wind by illegally parking in the hotel’s loading zone before pumping her system full of booze.

14. Eugene O’Neill – Gibson

Nobel laureate playwright Eugene O’Neill grappled against personal and filial demons his entire life, slipping in and out of heavy drinking periods (apparently involving gibsons) following the alcohol-related death of his beloved brother Jamie. Unlike many writers on this list, O’Neill never felt as if alcohol actually stimulated his writing in any way – quite the opposite, really, as it almost entirely halted his ability to get much of anything produced. He dipped in and out of sobriety and psychotherapy, drawing from these conflicts during lucid periods to pen some of theatre’s most emotionally evocative and highly respectable dramatic works.

15. Raymond Carver – Bloody Mary

Associated more with bored housewives from the upper crust enjoying elegant brunches than brooding, intense writers emphasizing the plight of blue-collar workers and households, the bloody Mary nevertheless held the title of Raymond Carver’s favorite alcoholic beverage. Like his father before him, the eloquent chronicler of the down-and-dirty corners of society struggled against violent alcoholism. His close friendship with contemporary John Cheever only facilitated the issue further – though a 1977 stint in Alcoholics Anonymous helped him kick the destructive habit altogether.

16. Anthony Burgess – Hangman’s Blood

Rather than indulging in the ultraviolence, writer and prolific polymath Anthony Burgess blew off steam with a brew known by the eerie moniker of “hangman’s blood.” Though not credited with its creation – the first mention of the cocktail came in 1929 from Richard Hughes’s novel A High Wind in Jamaica – many attribute the finalized, definitive recipe to Burgess himself. Blending doubles of gin, brandy, port, rum, and whiskey, a bottle of stout, and a topping of champagne, how the drink’s name originally popped into existence leaves very little to the imagination.

17. William S. Burroughs – Vodka and Coke

William S. Burroughs’s life mixed Hunter S. Thompson’s affinity for all manner of intoxicants with Jack Kerouac’s beat sensibilities, wanderlust, and love of Mexico. Several different interviews make mention of an ever-present glass of equal parts vodka and coke, which he apparently clung to even after the ability to write any more abandoned his fail, ravaged body left him to whittle away the last remaining stretch of his lifespan in the company of his friends and cats.

18. Sherwood Anderson – Old Fashioned

William Faulker and Ernest Hemingway, among others, looked up to Sherwood Anderson as a literary role model – perhaps incidentally, perhaps not, they also took up his fondness for spirits as well. He apparently enjoyed an old fashioned or two as his personal poison, though his exact preference remains unknown – after all, there seem to be almost as many interpretations of the beverage as there are people who wish to drink them. Anderson passed after swallowing a toothpick at a cocktail party that eventually caused a fatal infection in his stomach.

19. James Gould Cozzens – Black and Tan/Half-and-Half

According to the definitive tome on writers and their favorite alcoholic beverages, Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers, Pulitzer Prize winner and notorious denier of publicity James Gould Cozzens particularly adored black and tans. Alternately known as the half-and-half, this drink involves equal parts lager and stout to create an attractive (and delicious!) concoction juxtaposing light and dark tones. The drink name comes from the nickname Irish citizens bestowed on British soldiers who occupied their nation following World War I sporting black and tan uniforms.

20. James Jones – Singapore Sling

When frequenting P.J. Clarke’s in New York City, James Jones was known to throw back a Singapore sling after nurturing a taste for them during a tour of duty in the South Pacific. Fruity and fun, he also enjoyed these sweet cocktails with fellow writers and Bacchanalian revelers James Baldwin and William Styron (both of whom exist as viable contenders for inclusion on this list) on many a Parisian night. Many of these benders would extend well into the next morning – even the afternoon!

Please keep in mind that not all brilliant people drink excessively, nor does drinking excessively indicate that said imbiber stands as particularly brilliant, either. Political correctness and disclaimers aside, though, many a highly intelligent, influential writer has indulged his or her preference for at least one (if not more) alcoholic beverage to the point it becomes almost a personal trademark. History and psychology both support this phenomenon, as depression and intelligence sometimes directly correlate with substance abuse. More examples beyond these exist, of course, but that is up to the reader to go explore.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Now a word from Earl Pitts, a REAL American

Thanks to TJ for posting this on FB.

Way back in the day, I used to listen to WLW (AM700) out of Cincy with my Dad.  Some of the best times were hearing Earl Pitts and us laughing so hard.

Well….here is a classic and very fitting for this Blog.  Thanks Tommy, and Dad….this one’s for you.

Old Masters

I’ve been sitting on a bottle of Scotch for some time.  Actually, I started out with two, but you know how that goes…..anyway, this bottle in question is Old Masters from Lombard Distilleries.

I got this scotch shipped to me over 6 months ago and I think my sending a note to Br. Chris Hodapp caused him to pick some up too and write THIS post (of which I will be stealing a few pieces of content).

Old Masters is packaged as a Masonic Scotch, with many symbols of Freemasonry displayed on the label.

IF you can find it, it makes a great gift or wonderful bottle to break out if a Brother Mason comes over….which is exactly what happened last night.

TG from Days of Booze came over and we sat outside drinking scotch, enjoying a couple of CAO Gold Maduro Cigars and watched the horse go crazy.

Old Masters is one of the few blends I drink, but I wouldn’t check it off as a Novelty Scotch.  Yes, the esoteric symbols on the bottle are cool….but the whisky is actually DAMN FINE.

Technically available in the US only through Vici Wine and Spirits, it seems impossible to get it from them.

Br. Hodapp emailed Vici and got this response from Chuck Squires:

"Unfortunately, it is illegal for us to Import that product. There was a lawsuit started by the Free Mason Society."

Br. Hodapp then points out:

I find that explanation questionable, since there is no national Masonic group that could do that, and courts have long held that the square and compasses, as a generic symbol and not a specific copyrighted piece of artwork, is much like a cross in its ubiquity.

Finally, his blog sources another Email that sheds some light on the subject:

Brother Ruben J. Levy in Panama contacted Mr. Richard Lombard-Chibnall at Lombard's in Scotland, and was given this somewhat more encouraging response:

"Old Masters gain(ed) USA Federal label approval on Friday, so we are certainly looking to move forward in a positive direction

As you can see, there is hope….but it doesn’t appear to be anytime soon.  I do plan on picking up 3-4 more bottles on my next UK trip…just for those special occasions.

This does leave some of you in the lurch if looking for it yourselves, although The Whiskey Exchange carries it and you run the gauntlet of importing bootleg booze (now I would NEVER do that <Wink>), that is IF they have it.

Nose- Floral (reminds me of wildflowers) with a fruity sweetness. 

Color- Light gold, great legs on the glass.

Taste- Smooth mouthfeel, the fruit (I get oranges out of it) comes out when splashed with water. There is very little bite, as to be expected with blends, and only a slight hint of peat.  The true flavors brought forward is caramel and malt.  Not overly bold, but definitely well-rounded. 

Finish- A dry and oaky finish with a hint of wild mint and black pepper. 

Overall, a very nice blend and one I would not be ashamed to serve.

I would give it 4 out of 5 based on taste, and 5 of 5 on presentation.  In addition, I would like to say that this scotch doesn’t pair as well with cigars as most “peat bombs”.  I envision this to be a more relaxing evening drink vs a smoky room type.  This is not a downcheck, you just need to know how to pair it…..I personally think this would pair awesomely with chocolate or fruit plate.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Follow S&B on Twitter

Ok, the twitter craze has been going on for some time I know, and I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate it into Smokes & Booze.

Of course, I can do like most people and put in what I am doing….but that can get boring and where is the value add?

But lately I have started posting deals that I stumble across on the net as well, and today I there is a good one and thought I would use it to kick off the twitter Campaign.

Are you looking for some casual “Daily Smoke” cigars, or possibly something to help fill your Humidor without breaking the bank?

Check out the site Corona Cigar Company, they have some great deals….and if you look at today’s tweet, you will find some that are going for less than $1 a stick.  You can’t beat that price.

If you run across some good prices on Liquor or Cigars on the net….just tweet them and throw in @Smokesandbooze and it will tag to us as well.

With this economy, we need to be helping each other as much as possible…we need the few enjoyments in life we can get.

Thanks Corona Cigars for helping out as well.

Smoke’m if you Got’m

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Suntory YAMAZAKI Single Malt Whisky

I finally made the jump and tried the “Award Winning” Whisky from Japan that is in all the press.

I realize the thought of a Japanese “Scotch” has put me off this whisky for some time, but at the prodding of Randy….I thought I would give it a go.

Originally, I had only heard (as many Americans) of Suntory and Yamazaki from the movie “Lost in Translation” with Bill Murray.  In the movie, Murray is sent to Japan to film a commercial for Suntory.  The movie itself is smart (and funny in spots) and well conceived, particularly if you have ever visited other cultures that are vastly different than that of America.

However, contrary to popular believe, Whisky production in Japan began in the late 1800’s (around 1870) with individual distillery operations, with the first commercial production in 1924 at the opening of the country's first large scale distillery called Yamazaki.

The style and distilling process of Japanese whisky is more similar to that of Scotch whisky than Irish whiskey or bourbons, and thus the spelling typically follows the Scottish convention (omitting the letter "e").

Suntory gives the following information on their WEBSITE

From In 1923, Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory and the father of Japanese whisky, built Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in the Vale of Yamazaki. Using copper pot stills, the Yamazaki distillery was the first of its kind outside of Scotland.

The distillery’s location on the outskirts of Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto offered pure waters, diversity of climate and high humidity—the ideal environment for the maturation of good whisky.

Ever the one for something new…..I decided to give it a try.

The Price Mark for this whisky isn’t bad, from $50-$75 depending on your vendor.  I would call this “Mid-Range” for a 12 year old, and considering the pedigree of Yamazaki, I thought it would be more.

Bottle Presentation is excellent, with a bottle that would fit in with any other scotch set behind the bar, yet distinct in the Japanese lettering.  I was put off a little by the screw on top.  It is flimsy plastic and seems like it could be easily stripped out. 

Color- Matured in Oak Casks, this whisky has a very DEEP golden brown/amber.

Nose- Oak, dried fruit (particularly apples and berries) with a hint of Sherry (which makes me wonder about how their Oak Casks were matured).

Taste- Smooth and Buttery on the palate, the taste reminds me somewhat of a Speyside.  Not an overwhelming amount of peat, but enough smoke to let you know it is there.  Flavors of maple syrup and honey round out the glass.

Finish- A slight peaty bite hidden behind a sweet and flower taste, followed by a dry/crisp ending.

In a word, this whisky is perfect and I can see why it wins so many awards.

But therein lies the flaw of Yamazaki as well.  It is to perfect.

I am reminded of a scene in one of my favorite movies – Mr. Baseball.

In this scene, Jack (Tom Sellek/Mr. Baseball) is taken to dinner by his Japanese Girlfriend Hiroko.  He is surprised to have a very delicious steak dinner….to which Hiroko explains to him “Japan takes the best of the world and makes it her own”.

This is exactly how I feel about Yamazaki.  They have overanalyzed scotch, figured out all the appealing qualities and combined them all into one bottle.  It’s a wonderful idea, but then scotch loses it’s character.  Where is the peatbomb of a Laphroaig or the smoothness of a MacCallan?  It has no individuality.

For a non-scotch drinker…..this stuff would definitely start them down the road…..its that smooth and easy to drink. 

To me, I would enjoy a glass or two….but in the end, I would table the bottle and find something else to hold my interest.

I would rate this whisky 5 stars for technical, but only 3 for personal preference.

Dram Shop Laws

As a Facebook comment to my recent post “”, Charlie asked my opinion on Dram Shop Laws.  Considering my conversation this weekend with Debi at Walmart (where you now have to appear to be OVER 40 to not show ID to purchase alcohol), this seems a particularly fitting post.

Before we get into my views, let’s first examine what it is.

Dram shop or dramshop is a legal term in the United States referring to a bar, tavern or the like where alcoholic beverages are sold. Traditionally, it referred to a shop where spirits were sold by the dram, a small unit of liquid.

Dram shop liability refers to the body of law governing the liability of taverns, liquor stores and other commercial establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. Generally, dram shop laws establish the liability of establishments arising out of the sale of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors who subsequently cause death or injury to third-parties (those not having a relationship to the bar) as a result of alcohol-related car crashes and other accidents.

The laws are intended to protect the general public from the hazards of serving alcohol to minors and intoxicated patrons. Groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have advocated for the enforcement and enactment of dram shop laws across the United States as well as in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The earliest dram shop laws date from the 19th century temperance movement.

As you can see, these laws are a shift of responsibility from the person committing the crime to the venue in which they commit it.

While I think underage drinking in America is a problem, why is the punishment not dealt on the kids who are caught?  Better yet, why have a drinking age at all? 

As many of my friends know, I live quite some time overseas (and so did they) and still travel there frequently.  In some countries, there is no defined drinking age….and if there is, it is 16 or 18, the age of legal consent.  Yet here in the US, we place that age at 21 (3 years after a person can vote, and 4 years after they can join the Military).  So much for individual rights.  If you teach children that there isn’t a stigma of evil attached to something, and moderation as they grow up, when they reach adulthood….you dont have as many issues with the “Forbidden” subject matter.  This can been seen especially in continental Europe where drinking is part of their culture, although of late, binge drinking has become a bit of a trend in the UK where they are now closing pubs early.

Anyway, this a post about Dram Laws, so let me refocus.

In my opinion, the punishment for underage drinking and DUI (where injury or property damage occur) should be heavier, yet applied only to the criminal, not the supplier/vendor.  Why?  Because they were the ones who attempted to purchase (breaking the law if underage and defrauding the supplier) or decided to drive (in the event of a DUI).

While it is illegal to sell to minors, the punishment is never carried out on the kids (or the kids parents) who are breaking the law (other than a slap on the wrist)….yet always on the establishment that was probably provided a false ID (another crime) in the first place.  It’s the same with underage smoking.  It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy cigarettes, yet go to any high school and see how many kids are out smoking.  Usually there is a cop in the vicinity, but there are no tickets written….yet if a store sells to the kid, they are fined.  How is that right?

Similarly, while DUI fines (across the board) are high, and there is a huge downside on insurance and possible jail time, the real problem occurs when there is injury, death or property damage.  This is when the lawsuits really come out and people go after anyone involved…..thus the Dram Shop Laws were born.

By shifting the Onus to the Vendor/Provider, you now open things up to larger lawsuits and payouts for loss of life, injury or damage.  When suing “Joe Citizen”, at a certain point he won’t be able to pay anymore…yet stores and bars have larger insurance policies that can be raped for more money, to which the lawyers (in 2006, more than 30% of the Congress and Senate were made up of Lawyers) can make substantial gain when they take their cut.

As a shop owner or bartender, if it is my job to police the sale of controlled substances, where does my responsibility end?  What about prescription drugs?  What if someone takes an Ambien and falls asleep at the wheel… I also at fault (even though there is a warning on the bottle just like Beer/Wine/Alcohol)?  Under the current rules, I would say yes….which is why places like Walmart (under advice of their legal team) restrict sales of some over the counter medicines, household items (paint and glue) and even cigarette lighters to those at least over 18, if not 21 in some cases.  Because they are afraid of being sued.

In the end, it is ultimately the individuals responsibility to own up to their actions.  It should not the Bartender or the Shop Owner’s responsibility to enforce laws (Store Policy YES, Laws NO).  How are they to interpret if someone is “Drunk”?  Are there tell tale signs?  Yes, but everyone has different threshholds and reactions… there is to much variable.  Further, how do they know if you are driving?  They don’t.  You could be a passenger, walking or taking a cab. 

What everyone should do is if they have any suspicions of someone breaking any law, as good citizens, they could call the police and let the them sort it out.

To many laws……not enough time.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gin and Juice (please support the Barons)

Ok, my friend Steve is the “Head Baron” for a band called The Barons of Blues.

He recently released the following “Press Statement” on the bands Facebook Site

“The Barons are in the studio putting together a CD of our seven favorite Barons originals.........”

I’ve known Steve for a long time…..He makes me laugh and I love the music. 

That being said, I found the below cover of Gin and Juice by Snoop and thought it fit right into the Baron’s wheelhouse.

I am not a musician and I know crap about the industry.  I have no idea what it would take to get this on their album……but I WANT IT.

Please join the Barons of Blues FB site and support this group and show your support for adding this song to the album.

It would be the mad-note YO!


This day in History – May 5th 1961


I know a lot of you are going to think, OK… goes a Cinco de Mayo posting…but I am an American and want to draw everyone’s attention to another great event in history, one that took place May 5th 1961.

On that day Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space, with a fifteen minute suborbital flight.image

Think about that for a minute and let it sink in.  49 Years ago, America put it’s first man into space (barely edged out by Russia). 

How cool is that.

                                             (Picture Taken from THIS LIFE Article)

But when you look at Alan Shepard, you realize…..his life is full of cool.

Before he became an Astronaut, he was a test pilot for the US Navy, logging  over 8,000 hours flying time (3,700 hours in jet aircraft).  WOW.

In 1959, Shepard was one of 110 military test pilots to go through initial testing to become an Astronaut for the newly formed NASA, eventually being selected as a member of the Mercury 7 Team, and subsequently in January of 1961….He was chosen for the first American manned mission into space, Freedom 7.

On May 5th 1961, Shepard had probably the 2nd or 3rd most famous quote in space history. 

Just before the launch, Shepard said to himself: "Don't fuck up, Shepard..." , although this is quoted as "Dear Lord, please don't let me fuck up" in GREAT movie The Right Stuff (Post 1979 Randy). Due though to the media exposure,  the misquoted latter is has since become known among aviators as "Shepard's Prayer."

Another funny quote to come out of this mission, and relevant to me because it is referenced in the movie Armageddon comes from Gene Kranz in his book Failure Is Not an Option:

When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, 'The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.

Later, Shepard was scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 10 Freedom 7-II, three day extended duration mission in October 1963. The MA-10 mission was cancelled on June 13, 1963. He was the back-up pilot for Gordon "Gordo" Cooper for the MA-9 mission.

Yet Shepard was still destined to return to space.

Originally slotted to pilot Gemini 3, he lost his flight status due to a problem with his inner ear.  After having it surgically corrected, Shepard was then selected to Command the ill-fated Apollo 13 Mission, only to drop out because he felt he needed more training.

Alan Shepard did finally make it to the moon in Apolo 14, where at  age 47, and the oldest astronaut in the program, he commanded America's third successful lunar landing mission.

Shepard piloted his Lunar Module Antares to the most accurate landing of the entire Apollo program.

Ever the jokester, Shepard added another distinction to his long list of records while on the mission, becoming the 1st man to golf on moon.  Using a modified Wilson six-iron head attached to a lunar sample scoop handle, he hit two golf balls one-handed,  driving the second, as he jokingly put it, "miles and miles and miles."

Following Apollo 14, Shepard returned to his position as Chief of the Astronaut Office in June, 1971. He was promoted to Rear Admiral before finally retiring both from the Navy and NASA on August 1, 1974.

While all of these things are great accomplishments, fitting to appear on any website, history book or Blog……I know you guys are asking: “Why is this on Smokes and Booze”?

Well, after ALL OF THAT……Alan Shepard went on to become a local beer distributor for Coors.

And now you know…….the rest of the Story.

Cheers to you Alan, and God’s Speed.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Cinco de Mayo is coming

It’s that time of year again, Cinco de Mayo (5th of May).  A time where Americans look for any excuse to drink.  Much like St. Patrick’s Day, New Years and the 4th…this is a holiday primarily for adults, and a themed reason to drink tequila….yet there is so much more to the date.

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a holiday celebrated in the United States and primarily limited to the state of Puebla in Mexico. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n.

Cinco de Mayo is not "an obligatory federal holiday" in Mexico, but rather a holiday that can be observed voluntarily. While Cinco de Mayo has limited significance nationwide in Mexico, the date is observed in the United States (also voluntarily) and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.  Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day, which actually is September 16, the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico.

In America, this translates to a trip to the local Chi-Chi’s or Mexican Restaurant and another Amateur Night where people who don’t normally drink consume mass amounts of Cheap Tequila (Jose Quervo). 

While I could care less about Mexican Politics (Remember the Alamo), I always love a good reason to drink…so let’s examine some recipes you can use at home.

In the article “Tequila, a Cinco de Mayo must” , there are several good recipies to try:


1-2 ounces of tequila

• 1 ounce of Cointreau or triple sec (orange-flavored liquor)

• Almost an ounce of fresh-squeezed lime juice

• Top off with sour mix or soda water

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with margarita salt.

The Rockin' Paloma

Mixologist Alex Straus designed this fresh cocktail for Cabo Wabo tequila.

• 2 ounces Cabo Wabo Reposado

• 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

• 6 ounces grapefruit-flavored soda

• splash of grenadine

• 1 cucumber

Muddle three cucumber slices with tequila and lime juice. Shake with ice, then add soda and shake more. Strain over fresh ice in a tall glass with a salted rim. Drop a splash of grenadine on top (don't stir it in) and garnish with a cucumber slice.

Blazin' Shooter

This shot could also be called "the mistake."

• 1 1/2 ounce of blanco tequila

• A few dashes of hot sauce

Add a few dashes of hot sauce to the bottom of a shot glass. Add tequila and garnish with a lime wedge.


Of course, if Tequila is not your forte….there are several Mexican Beers as well, just stay away from the Corona….it doesn’t get more cliche than that.

Best thing to come out of Dallas

Ok, this has absolutely nothing to do with Smokes or Booze, but it is absolutely the coolest thing to come out of Dallas….a 360 interactive video of the stadium detonation…..from the inside.

It doesn’t get much check it out.

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