Monday, January 31, 2011

Custom Bourbon Label

Lately, vendors have been trying to come up with interesting ways to get customers to buy their products.

First you have Miller asking to be your SPONSOR, Friends of Laphroaig, and don’t even get me started on the excellent swag program by Maker’s Mark (actually, I have started writing about that 3 times now and just can’t seem to finish).  Well, now you have Customized Labels.

I first ran across this with Crown Royal and now Knob Creek is giving it a try.


Here is the blurb from their website-

There are only two things better than a bottle of Knob Creek—a bottle with your name on it and a gift bottle with your personal message.

Complete the simple steps below to personalize your Knob Creek® labels. They are a great reflection of your personal style. Feel free to add your own unique message... for example: "This friendship has been aging as long as this bottle—9 years."

You can have as many labels as you want, but as with Knob Creek®, moderation is the best policy. And so is discretion, which is why we reserve the right to refuse printing of any inappropriate material. Enjoy the privilege responsibly and fill out only as many as you really need.

You will receive a flat label with instructions to affix to your personal bottle.

So, using birthdays/gifts as the marketing ploy….they have next to Zero Investment to get other’s to try their whiskey.  Still a little gimmicky – but if done right, I can see this being pretty cool as well.

I wish they would let you change the font though.

An Honest Politician

From my Buddy TommyG (maybe I can get him to co-write with me Smile with tongue out)

TommyG- And in smoking news… A politician is open and honest for once. This actually makes me like him better.

John Boehner Will Continue Smoking, Thank You Very Much; Please Stop Asking About It

There seems to be only three things that reporters want to ask John Boehner about: his propensity for shedding tears, tanning, and his smoking habit. He will not apologize for for any of those, and in fact, seems more interested in talking about, ya know, substantive issues than his orange complexion or appetite for cancer sticks.

Two of the three were addressed in this video, the tobacco issue included, to which Boehner had this to say: "Why do you bring this up again? It's a legal product. I choose to smoke it. Leave me alone."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Sign of the Apocalypse, me defending P-Diddy (sorta)

I never thought I would say this….but there is no way P-Diddy deserves this kind of lawsuit.  It is pretty funny to read, but this woman is obviously deranged and needs to be locked up…..enjoy.

P Diddy sued for $1 trillion and accused of causing 9/11 attacks

A woman is suing P Diddy for $1 trillion (£635 billion).
Valerie Joyce Wilson Turks, 31, has filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the rap mogul, his former girlfriend Kim Porter and Rodney King, the man who was a victim of assault by the Los Angeles Police in 1991.
She also claims that her and Diddy have a son together, Cornelius Wilson, who is now 23.
Turks also alleges that Diddy, real name Sean Combs, caused the 9/11 attacks, put her son in hospital and sold a poker chip belonging to her, which she says was worth "100 zillions of dollars".
According to court papers seen by Turks is asking for $900 billion (£571.5 billion) in child support and $100 billion (£63.5 billion) in lost income.
In papers she has submitted to the court, Turks wrote: "[Diddy] went through Kim Porter and Rodney King and knocked down the World Trade Center and then they all came and knocked my children down. Set me up to be on disability and disabled my baby. He put my baby in a wheelchair."
She added: "I won a lot of money at the casino in Mississippi and Sean P Diddy Combs has my chip to my money. I want my chip please help me. It's well worth over 100 zillions of dollars."
Turks also applied for a restraining order against Diddy, which a judge has denied. Although Turks is not expected to get very far with her lawsuit, the judge has set a court date of January 31 for the case to be heard.


TommyG (from the somewhat defunct DaysofBooze ) sent this over to me today via FB -

Check out today's groupon. You can buy a $40 gift cert to Sake for $20. You can use it on sushi or martinis. Thats like free booze!


For those of you who have never used Groupon – You sign up for your area; check your Facebook, email or Twitter and presto….coupon Deals.  You can even share them with friends as well (although they will have to sign up as well).

Not a bad deal today, I think I will buy one.  Smile

Thanks Tom.

BTW, you get $10 Groupon Bucks for everyone that signs up, so I have posted a link on  Twitter , sign up and help me out- Cheers.

Ed Note – Here is the link in case some of you don’t use twitter.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

This Day in History–Jan 29, 1919

Prohibition begins, and with it the rise of organized crime. 

Now if the government continues to tax cigarettes like they have been….look for the underground market to start there as well.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Rise and Fall of the British Pub

Interesting read on the what we affectionately call The Pub.

The Rise and Fall of the British Pub

Taverns, which principally served wine, alehouses and travellers' inns had existed for centuries, but the concept of a "pub", where customers could drink, watch spectacles such as cock fights and carry out local business was new.

These establishments boomed in the early 1700s, springing up all over the country to capitalise on soaring sales of cheap gin.

The country's thirst for the spirit, and the rising number of "gin palaces", was of such concern to authorities that the 1971 Gin Act was introduced, leading to restrictions on its sale.

Perhaps less commendably, politicians also attempted to curb the nation's interest in gin by encouraging them to drink beer, which politicians felt was a "more wholesome and temperate beverage".

The Beer Act of 1930 allowed home owners to brew and sell their own beer – in effect setting up their own pubs – for a single payment of two guineas.

The result was the opening of up to 30,000 new "beerhouses", which were much closer in appearance to the modern pub.

In terms of politicians' aim of reducing public drunkenness, the Beer Act was a disaster. One observer, writing in 1831, said: "Everybody is drunk. Those who are not singing are sprawling."

Licensing restrictions were brought in by the 1869 Wine and Beerhouse Act, finally curbing the number of pubs across the country as landlords complained they could no longer make a profit.

Over the course of the 19th century serving bars became popular in pubs, while the invention of beer engines meant beer could be pumped out through pipes from barrels kept below ground, meaning beer could be served more quickly.

Another trend saw publicans become tenants as breweries gradually took over pubs which formerly served their own home-made beer.

Attempts to reduce the number of pubs in Britain continued and in 1904 a new law enabled authorities to forcibly shut down drinking establishments in exchange for compensation. 10 per cent of the country's pubs were shut within a decade.

Things turned from bad to worse for publicans during the First World War, with much of the public feeling drunkenness was no longer appropriate.

Higher prices of alcohol and a drive towards sobriety, publicly endorsed by King George V, saw profits slide while further legislations restricted opening times even further.

In contrast, the Second World War was something of a renaissance for the pub, which was seen as crucial in fostering community spirit and was boosted by rising numbers of female patrons.

Since the 1950s, the number of pubs has been in steady decline with people increasingly using different types of premises such as wine bars.

With up to five pubs closing every day in England and five in six people claiming they no longer drink alcohol, it seems unlikely the slide will soon come to an end.

The Local: A History of the English Pub by Paul Jennings is available from The History Press from Jan 28, £12.99

More Sin Taxes for MO?

WOW…..this woman really believe that there is a need for a $1 increase on a pack of cigarettes?  A 588% increase?  Even her proposal of a $.12 increase is a 70% Bump.  Again I say…WOW.

By comparison, Missouri GAS tax is also only $.17 and that funds the roads in the State.

What is really scary is that Ms. Still is going to create a stir with the noise on HB342, that no one will notice as they quietly pass HB 343 behind the scenes.  Then if HB 342 passes….its all gravy (which leads to obesity…we should tax it).


Still offers proposals for cigarette tax rate

Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, today filed two bills aiming to raise Missouri’s cigarette tax.

Missouri’s cigarette tax of 17 cents per pack is the lowest in the nation,

“While a majority of states have acted aggressively in recent years to increase cigarette taxes and reduce the number of their residents who smoke, Missouri has chosen to do nothing,” Still said in a news release. “Missouri has won the race to the bottom simply by standing still. It is well past time for the state to move forward on this issue.”

One proposal, House Bill 342, would increase the tax to $1.17 a pack, Still said. An increase of that size would require voter approval. The other, House Bill 343, would add 12 cents to the tax and would not have to be submitted to voters, she said.

Another foray into Cheap Beer

Back in April, I posted about 7-11 stepping into the Cheap Beer market with their branded product Gameday.  My interests were piqued, but I could never locate it (we even tried in South Bend to no avail).

Now, another vendor has jumped into the scene…..Walgreens and their product Big Flats.  For the record….I love the name, hate the label.  The good thing, this is being sold at WALGREENS.  Considering that there are probably more Walgreens than Walmarts in America, this meens it should be pretty easy to get some of this FIFTY CENTS A CAN beer.  A review is sure to follow.

Brewed and Distributed for Walgreens by Winery Exchange, its only a matter of time before Big Flats becomes the Generic Beer of the People.  I can feel it.  No more White Cans that say Beer.  You can even pick up a six pack while getting an oxygen refill or an extra box of Preperation-H. 

Sarcasm aside, I am intrigued because Winery Exchange has put out some good beers -

  • Four of our domestic craft beers were ranked in the Top 15 New Craft Brands of 2006
  • Tap Room 21 Amber Ale was awarded a Gold Medal at Monde Selection for outstanding quality in 2009
  • Roscoe’s Hop House Amber Ale was awarded a Gold Medal/Exceptional at the BTI World Beer Championship in 2009

I just don’t see how they can put out any quality whatsoever, at that price mark. 

I’ll try it, but it will never replace Stag as my go-to cheapy.

Ed Note – This product is so new (or mis-marketed) that their advertised website is still a DNS Placeholder.  Nice.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How can you not love “Cycle Sluts from Hell”?

We started off the day with Shatner (HERE) and wrap it up with Cycle Sluts from Hell……it’s been one of those days.



United States of Beer


Hey Randy…we were just talking about Gin (a Recipe)

I love it when I have a discussion with someone and then Poof, something about it shows up in my inbox.  Here is a recipe I’m dying to try.  

Soul in a bowl / Onion, lemon and gin chicken


  • 1 chicken divided into pieces (or 1.5 kilograms of chicken legs and thighs )
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • juice and grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup gin

If you can get them: a tsp. of whole juniper berries (the spice that gives gin its flavor )


Heat the oil in a pot with a heavy bottom and brown the chicken pieces (7-8 minutes on each side ). Add the chopped onion and stir another 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and grated peel.

If you are using juniper berries, crush them in a mortar and pestle or with a jar and add to the pot.

Cover and cook on a low fire until the chicken is soft (about 1/2 an hour ). If you think the dish is too dry, add not more than 2 or 3 tablespoons of water.

A few minutes before serving, add the gin. Season with pepper and salt.

Disney Booze Cruise?

So, we are planning a vacation for James’ Birthday and I think we have decided on a Disney Cruise.  While doing research for it, I was pleasantly surprised to find the new ship Disney Dream serves alcohol and found this really great article below.  I figured this would be a dry cruise given Disney’s stance on Alcohol in the Parks (basically you are SOL unless you are a member of Club 33), so this could be fun.

Has any of our readers ever been on a Disney Cruise?  Jeremy, I am looking at you…you are my Disney Expert.

Cheers, Sante, Prost, Kampai Aboard the Disney Dream

Rest and relaxation is reason enough for a grown-up cruise getaway, and whether sipping a cocktail or enjoying a glass of Champagne or wine, there’s a buzz about the Disney Dream’s innovative spirits and knockout wine lists.

Taittinger Champagne label for the Disney Dream’s inaugural year

Taittinger has created a Champagne label just for the inaugural year of the newest Disney Cruise Line vessel. Aboard the ship, it’s served in all the lounges, but the most fun place to sip is Pink, an intimate cocktail bar in The District (the nighttime entertainment area with five adults-only venues), where a special Taittinger Prestige Rose is the signature sparkling “pink.” Guests also may purchase bottles of the special Taittinger Champagne to take home with them, exclusively on the Disney Dream.

Clovis Taittinger in Pink, the intimate cocktail bar on the Disney Dream

Our favorite spot for handcrafted cocktails is upscale Skyline, also in The District, where the bar backdrop is a virtual skyline that changes from Paris to Rio, New York, Chicago and Hong Kong on seven 65-inch LCD screens. As the view changes, the ambient music also stays in sync with each city.

Skyline on the Disney Dream

Drinks, too, are themed to each of the cities, such as the Paris 75, the Eco-Tini for Rio, Zen-Chanted for Hong Kong, Metropolitan for New York, and the Blues for Chicago.

Paris 75 (Paris)Eco-Tini (Rio)Zen-Chanted (Hong Kong)

 Metropolitan (New York)Blues (Chicago)

Also within The District, 687 is more of a pub than a lounge (“687” refers to the vessel number assigned by the shipyard to the Disney Dream). The boisterous pub features an exclusive “687” red lager, malty and slightly sweet, made with Noble hops grown in central Europe.

Special attention was given to the wine lists at Remy – there are two, one with nearly 200 wines from around the globe (mostly French), and a second, Remy’s Vault, with just 22 exclusive wines presented tableside in an elegant velvet box by a white-gloved sommelier. The list includes a 1947 Château Cheval Blanc in a nod to the Disney∙Pixar film “Ratatouille” (it’s the wine requested by the movie’s prickly food critic). Considered one of the best vintages in the world, a single bottle retails for $25,000! The list also includes a most notable 1961 Château Latour (in the film, Skinner offers Linguini a bottle of this exceptional vintage in hopes of learning his cooking secrets).

The Wine Room within Remy on the Disne

After-dinner libations include Rémy Martin Louis XIII Rare Cask, one of the most sought-after cognacs for connoisseurs, aged in centuries-old casks and served from an elegant Baccarat crystal decanter.

Across from Remy is Palo, where a sparkling prosecco and a lush red Barolo were both exclusively bottled for the upscale, Italian-inspired restaurant. Palo’s signature “Balsamic Grande” cocktail features vodka, a splash of five-year-old balsamic vinegar and fresh muddled strawberries. For a special after-dinner wow, grappa is served from a jeroboam bottle.

For guests who prefer no alcohol (and younger guests), mixologists have created new non-alcoholic cocktails. Many are made with “better for you” ingredients such as organic spirits, fresh fruits and herbs, and lower calorie no-sugar-added fruit purees. For instance, the purple basil lemonade mixes cranberry juice, sparkling water, lime and fresh basil; the mint tea punch is English breakfast tea, cranberry and pineapple juices, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, and a splash of sparkling water.

Rocket Man–is interpreted by William Shatner

This is the kind of mood I am in today.  Enjoy the classic interpretation of an average song by Elton John.  The real question is…how drunk is he at the end?


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sometimes Glenn sends me some good stuff

Glenn sent me an interesting link via FB yesterday.  I wish he would just bite the bullet (or drink the Bullet Bourbon) and join me here at Smokes and Booze as another writer.  He might as well, as he submits stuff to me all the time.  Come on Glenn.

Anyway, here is a unique opportunity to get a limited edition Rum by one of the greatest actors of all time……yep, you guessed it – Ron Jeremy.

Ron de Jeremy Rum  RON_portrait

Drink of a Legend 

Ron de Jeremy Rum is an exceptionally well-balanced 7-year old premium rum from Panama.  It has an inviting light amber color with a very attractive copper hues.  The aroma is that of carefully aged rum, with a harmoniously balanced orchestra of oak, fruit and spices.  It opens up smoothly, showcasing a high level of craftsmanship.  The oak comes through robustly and satisfyingly, yet gently enough to allow hints of vanilla dn raw sugarcane to reveal them selves.  The finish is elegant and long.

Ron de Jeremy Rum is hand crafted by another legend, 72-year old Cuban born Master Distiller Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez.  Don Panchi inspected his best barrels to hand pick the ones worthy of becoming Ron de Jeremy.

Ron de Jeremy sips perfectly, neat or savored over the rocks and mixes beautifully to make superb drinks.


I don’t know if I should be disgusted or intrigued

Well, I have to admit….I don’t know how to take this one.  I’ve tried a lot of recipes, but soaking a Grilled Cheese in Rum would have NEVER occurred to me.

Who’s up for trying this with me?

Now Drinking | The Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Martini

At Clive’s, a popular craft cocktails joint in Victoria, British Columbia, the scene is pure hotel lounge kitsch: swirling dark carpets, white leather panels on the walls, fantasia lamps, high-backed banquettes and an unavoidable marble bar. The décor may be stuck in the 1970s, but Shawn Soole, a crack bartender from Brisbane, Australia, transcends these trappings with a dedication to innovation and craft, most notably with his Cold Night In, an original creation that fuses childhood comfort food and molecular mixology. The result is what he calls a grown-up cocktail equivalent of a “toastie” (an Australianism for a grilled sandwich) and tomato soup.

Soole starts with his own batch of “grilled cheese rum” — dark, viscous Mt. Gay “washed” overnight with a real-live grilled cheese sandwich, a seeping process to extract essential flavors and infuse them into the rum, before adding fresh-muddled tomato and basil, salt, Lillet Blanc and Glenfiddich Scotch whiskey. The effect is extraordinary: the grilled cheese rum leaps off the palate with flavors of cheddar, bread and butter, mingled with a dark sweetness, while the Lillet Blanc prevents the texture from veering into Bloody Mary territory. Topping the cocktail off with a drop of Glenfiddich adds a hint of off-the-grill smoke and evokes sipping, grilling and dunking.

Soole was kind enough to share his original recipe for the Cold Night In, which starts with his signature grilled cheese rum. First you literally make yourself a sandwich — a cheesy, buttery sourdough grilled cheese sandwich “2-3 times more cheesy and buttery than usual.” Cut into slices and place in a Mason jar, top with Mt. Gay rum and let sit overnight. Strain this mixture, making sure to squeeze all the rum out of the sandwich slices, and freeze for a few hours to congeal any remaining fat. Strain once more through a cheesecloth or coffee filter and bottle.

For the cocktail, muddle 4 slightly roasted cherry tomatoes with basil and salt. Add 2 ounces of your cheese-washed rum and another 1/2 ounce of Lillet Blanc, along with a dash of celery bitters. Dry stir, then stir with ice. Then double strain your cocktail, garnish with basil or tomato section and finish with a dash of Glenfiddich.

Indiana does something RIGHT

This is great news, not just for bars, but for others as well.

Finally someone says the right thing about bars (

"It's a private business," he said. "They should be allowed to choose.") and Fraternal Clubs are private entities, so it is great they can control their own destiny as well.

Finally, I never thought about Nursing Homes….but it makes sense.  That is where those people LIVE.  If they want to smoke there, it is no different than me smoking in my home. 

Well Done Indiana….Well Done.


Indiana House exempts bars from proposed smoking ban

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's proposed statewide smoking ban got a lot looser Monday as the House decided to exempt bars, fraternal clubs and nursing homes in addition to casinos.

Casinos already were exempt from the proposal, but the GOP-controlled House voted 56-33 on Monday to exempt bars that don't allow anyone under age 21 to enter. The House also made exceptions for nursing homes and fraternal clubs, which could create separate smoking areas under the bill.

Rep. Charlie Brown, a Democrat from Gary who is sponsoring the bill, said the exemptions water down the proposal. He said he'll keep pushing the bill through the legislative process, but hopes to remove some of the loopholes as lawmakers work on a final compromise.

He said major cities and many other states have comprehensive smoking bans, but Indiana lawmakers have been slow to act.

"It's just mindboggling how we are so backwards," Brown said.

The exemptions for casinos and horse racing tracks was approved earlier this month after the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency said banning smoking in gambling establishments could cost the cash-strapped state about $190 million a year. On Monday, some lawmakers said it was unfair to exempt them from the ban without exempting bars — especially those in the same towns as casinos who could lose business if smokers decided to hang out at casinos instead of their establishments.

"What's fair for the big guy ought to be fair for the little guy," said Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.

Rep. Dick Dodge, a Republican from Pleasant Lake who sponsored the amendment to exempt bars, said mom-and-pop bars and taverns were afraid of losing business.

"It's a private business," he said. "They should be allowed to choose."

Brown and other supporters of a more comprehensive ban said the bill was about protecting workers, and that those who work in bars shouldn't have to choose between their health and their jobs.

The exemptions for nursing homes and fraternal clubs were made after lawmakers said veterans and those living in nursing homes should have the right to smoke in certain areas.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he would sign a smoking ban into law if the Legislature approves one, and Brown says he's confident the bill could move further through the Statehouse this year than it has in previous years.

"This whole place is about the friendly art of compromise," he said.

The House could vote on the relaxed smoking ban as early as Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jim Beam and Kid Rock

Ok, I really never expected to blog about these two in the same sentence.  But I just read a story, and to be honest….on this Robert Burns and State of the Union Night, it brought tears to my eyes and made me proud to be an American.

I know Jim Beam always seems to be second fiddle to Jack Daniels as America’s Whiskey.  Jack is everywhere.  When in Germany, bring a bottle of Jack to the host of a party was an immediate step up the social ladder.

Meanwhile, Kid Rock would probably not top anyone’s list of “Most Patriotic”.

Tonight, for me….that all changed.

I won’t spoil the article, but my hat is off to Jim Beam (now Number 1 in my book for Bourbon) and to Kid Rock (for his USO support….he’s definitely moved up, but could never top Shane in my book).  Thanks to both and to these fine veterans who did their country proud.

PS- To you 501st’ers….when’s our reunion?

Vietnam vets to reunite for first time in 43 years, thanks to Jim Beam, Kid Rock


Even though they’re not familiar with his songs, I hope the Vietnam vets attending the Kid Rock concert Tuesday night at Van Andel Arena receive an acknowledgment from the star of the show — and maybe a few of the fans at the sold-out event.

It’s been more than 40 years in the making.

To understand the significance of what is happening Tuesday, we need to go back to the mid 1960s, when Grand Rapids resident Rick Falls joined a handful of other teenage and 20-something soldiers from around the country to fight an unpopular war in jungles on the other side of the world.

They returned to their homeland only to be shunned by some, dismissed as baby killers by others, and left to wonder what had been gained by the loss of 58,000 American lives.

In the absence of parades and motorcades, the troops simply tramped home and did their best to be re-absorbed by a country still flustered over the role we played in that foreign country.

But on Tuesday, Kid Rock — a passionate supporter of our troops and veterans — could take a moment between songs to reverse some of that and give a handful of Army vets goosebumps that might never recede.

Rick Falls and three or four of his buddies who haven’t been together since 1968, will be attending the show thanks to the folks at Beam Global Spirits and Wine Inc., best known for its bourbon Jim Beam.

The unusual arrangement is largely Martin Kruming’s doing.

Kruming served alongside Falls while in Nam and discovered several week ago from his home in San Diego the Beam team had an especially soft spot for the military — and a close working relationship with Kid Rock.

So he wrote a letter to Beam’s CEO, explaining how he and Falls and others were planning a reunion in Grand Rapids this week.

Voila! — Beam President and CEO Matthew J. Shattock personally shipped enough VIP tickets to make the reunion more special than any of the former members of the U.S Army’s 45th Engineering Group might have imagined.

“We are … thrilled to have such a strong relationship with Kid Rock, who is as passionate about the military as anyone,” Shattock said in his letter to Kruming.

And there, in the folds of the envelope, were five passes you can’t buy at a counter or buy online.

Originally, Falls, 69, hung out with six others who comprised a tight-knit group in Vietnam. He lost track of two, but stayed in touch with the other four — Fred Lemley, 67, of Joplin, Mo.; Dave Hurst, 68, of Baltimore; Kruming, 67; and Gary Hutchison, 68, who calls Battle Creek home but spends winters in Arizona.

Lemley will likely pass on the reunion because he is expecting a grandchild any day now. He calls Beam’s gift “a wonderful gesture.”

Hutchison is probably going to stay in Arizona. He has seen Falls many times since their return to the states because they’re but an hour or so apart in better weather. Still, he wishes he could make the trip: “These are people that basically you relied on in a war zone,” he says. “They become your fast friends, and that’s hard to take away, even if you haven’t seen each other in years.”

Hurst hoped to arrive in Grand Rapids today. He was bunkmates with Falls and worked under Kruming as a public affairs reporter, writing stories about their engineering group and related topics.

He went on to work at Illinois newspapers before signing on in the public relations department with State Farm Insurance, from which he retired eight years ago.

He has fond recall of how Falls engaged the people of Vietnam — learned their language and worked hard to provide ice cream and gifts to the children there. Some evenings, Hurst listened with his buddies to Bill Cosby tapes — a luxury and antidote to the time and place to which they were committed.

Kruming was the only officer among the group; he was in charge of amassing and editing stories in Nam, and Falls served as his driver. He came home to work a while for the Associated Press and became a lawyer in 1979. He still practices in his hometown of San Diego.

Falls, who lives with wife Maxine on Brownwood Avenue NW, returned home to teach guitar, play in a band, record music — and work 23 years for Michigan Bell, now Ameritech.

Amanda Loman | The Grand Rapids PressRick Falls holds the five Kid Rock tickets given to him.

Despite his musical background, he doesn’t know any Kid Rock songs. Neither do Lemley or Hutchison — nor does Hurst, who said he would have been just as happy to attend “Shrek the Musical.”

Like the others gathering here Tuesday, Kruming said the Kid Rock concert will be “the icing on the cake,” with the reunion taking precedence.

He emphasized, though, how impressed he is with the artist’s big heart for vets, and that’s what motivated him to write Beam’s top brass. “I think nothing of writing CEOs, presidents, etc.,” Kruming said. “I think a handwritten letter is a powerful tool in this Internet world, and I’ve always subscribed to that.”

Falls says the bond among his friends is strong enough to sustain them against the lasting impression Vietnam left on some. “It was an unpopular war,” he said. “So our reward was meeting these fellows, developing life-long friendships.

“We’ve been trying to get together for 43 years. And, now, it’s finally happening.”

Happy Robert Burns Day

I almost missed this one.

To all my brother Freemasons, Scotsmen and Boozehounds out there….Cheers (enjoy the Haggis)


How to Have A Last Minute Burns Supper: Or, Happy Robert Burns Day

By Lucy Lean, Tue., Jan. 25 2011 @ 1:00PM


What No Haggis?

Today marks the birthday of one Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet, whose short but prolific life back in the late 18th-century is celebrated on this day every year by any Scot worth his or her haggis -- or anyone else looking for a good time eating traditional Scottish dishes washed down with more than a wee dram of whiskey. This is drunken revelry at its best.

The traditional Burns Supper centers around a haggis, which consists of sheep's 'pluck' (heart, lungs and liver) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt all encased in the animal's stomach and simmered for several hours. Haggis is not for the faint-hearted and when you break it down there's not a lot to like: it's basically a glorified stuffed sheep's stomach with lots of bells and whistles to distract from what you are eating.

At such short notice you are going to be hard pressed to find haggis at the supermarket, butcher or local shop but improvise with a few sausages, some root vegetables and the more appealing aspects of the dinner -- not least being a lot of whiskey.

The new Grindhaus Sausage Shop in Hollywood doesn't make haggis but they make up for this lack of seasonal Scottish fair with a great selection of gourmet sausages including lamb merguez, wild boar bratwurst, duck and spicy Italian. All would serve as appetizing haggis body doubles.


Chef Trevor Rocco makes Vegan Neep Sausages

​Haggis is served with "Chapit tatties and bashed neeps" - mashed potatoes and rutabagas - smooth, rich and stick to your ribs hearty with lots of cream, butter and pepper. At Grindhaus they make vegan sausages from non-other than root vegetables, think neeps rolled into sausages with no casing which you simply pan fry.

Scottish ancestors everywhere will be turning in their tartan graves at this redux of their Burns Supper dish, haggis, tatties and neaps, to good old British bangers and mash with a vegan alternative. Only in L.A. However, before William Wallace wakes from his eternal sleep to come and knock some Scottish sense into all of us let's embrace the traditional Scottish formalities to the festivities.

The evening unfolds with several toasts, Burns poetry recitals and bordy speeches. Dinner starts with the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat,

   And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat,

   Sae let the Lord be thankit.

The haggis is piped into the dining room carried on high by the chef. Highland pipers may not be on hand but a couple of bagpipe tunes downloaded to the iPod will suffice and whilst you are at it download the official Robert Burns App. It's a great way of getting all of Burns' poetry in one place.

The guests stand and the "Chairman" delivers the "Address to the Haggis" including an Oscar worthy performance of stabbing the encased offal with the words

"An cut you up wi' ready slight;

Trenching your gushing entrails bright."

Granted this may be a little difficult with a meagre sausage or two. but use your imagination -- this is Hollywood after all, home of special effects -- a tiny Barbie knife perhaps? The more over the top and in the moment you can be the better the entertainment. Read the poetry with a thick Scottish accent -- it actually helps with the delivery and understanding -- no 'tim-rous beasties' here but Highland warriors ready to do battle with Burns' Scottish stanzas.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,

So deep in luve am I,

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

Till a' the seas gang dry.

From O, My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose

Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!

The present only toucheth thee:

But och! I backward cast my e'e,

On prospects drear!

An' forward, tho' I cannot see,

I guess an' fear!

From To a Mouse

The main speeches are an appreciation of "The Immortal Memory of Robbie Burns", a toast to the Lassies and then a "Response from the Lassies." Persuading someone to sing a soft gentle Burns love song after copious amounts of Scotch shouldn't be hard.

I found my Church Key

Onekotan Island, Kuril Islands, Russian Federation

National Irish Coffee Day

Does this really need an explanation?  Thanks Jason D. for sharing.

While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday and the most delicious finds on TV.

Top o’ the morning to you! January 25 is National Irish Coffee Day.

Though there are many variations, the International Bartender Association gives the official recipe as two parts Irish whiskey, four parts hot coffee, one and a half parts fresh cream and one teaspoon brown sugar.

Irish actor Alex Levin summed up his love for the beverage eloquently: “Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.” And only Irish coffee can be disguised as regular coffee for your 8 a.m. meeting. Sláinte!

2011 State of the Union Drinking Game

Ahhhh….it’s that time of the year again, time for the State of the Union, and of course Smokes & Booze never misses a chance to get drunk.  Like we did LAST YEAR (and yes Glenn…I did go after a Republican as well), here are the rules for the 2011 State of the Union Drinking Game.


Every time Barack H Obama mentions bipartisanship, everybody has to drink 2 shots of beer. If he talks about the lessons of Tucson, the last person to throw their arms in the air, fall to their knees and shout "Hallelujah!" has to drink 1 entire beer.

Everybody has to drink 2 shots of beer whenever John Boehner appears to cry. 1 shot of bourbon if he breaks down sobbing and disappears entirely from view.

Every time Barack H Obama says "Democratic leadership," the first person to stop laughing is exempt from drinking 2 shots of beer.

If either Vice President Biden or the Speaker of the House Boehner is seen nodding off on camera, last person to start singing "Wake Up, Little Susie" has to drink 3 shots of beer.

If the President says the State of the Union is good, but could be better, the last person to eat a fully accoutered hot dog has to drink 1 shot of bourbon.

Whenever the President defends ObamaCare, everybody drinks 2 shots of beer. If he mentions Congress voting to repeal it, drink a whole beer and throws hot dogs at the television. The first person to hit Nancy Pelosi in the head is exempt from having to drink 2 shots of bourbon.

If the President relates a touching heartfelt story of a supporter who was denied a decent education, first person to finish a shot gets to kick everybody else once. Twice, if the subject of the anecdote is in the audience. 3 times, if he/ she is sitting next to a 2 star general.

Every time President Barack Obama talks about his resolve and adopts a frowny look with his brow all furrowed and stuff, drink 1 shot of beer.

If the Chief Executive winks at or points at Michelle, all  players swordfight with hot dogs. Whoever is left with an intact weenie does not have to eat an entire shot glass full of that weird green relish.


If the president mentions the Chinese President by name, the last person to ask "Hu Dat?" has to drink 2 shots of beer.


Optional: Have all players drink with left hand. Unless left- handed. If they are caught drinking with dominant hand, they must watch the entire Republican response and no drinking allowed.

If the Dancing Baby from Ally McBeal appears on the screen at any time, stop drinking immediately.

Is it Smokes or Is it Booze? You Decide

Mike and I were talking the other day about understanding the Military.  We were both laughing that “Back in the Day”, it seemed like a lot of business/troubleshooting/negotiating was done while grabbing a smoke or having a drink.  You almost didn’t trust someone who did neither.  That’s what sets me off from the article below.

You see, I’m a supporter of legalization of Marijuana.  Not because I smoke it (I don’t), but because it is a naturally occurring substance….and I can’t figure out how the government can ban something natural, yet there is so many synthetic drugs on the market.  Hell, the Number 1 market out there right now is for Erectile Dysfunction, and that serves no purpose other than recreational.

Since marijuana is illegal, the only way to get it is through prescription (yet another joke), and that leads to our story (found below).

In it, we hear of Clay Butler and his “new” medical-marijuana beverage.  The story is so full of holes that I wonder if the writer ever heard of fact checking.  Take these examples -

  • “I never have drank” later to be followed by “I’ve had two beers in my whole life”.  Never is a pretty definitive word, it’s pretty simple…have you or haven't you?
  • What really intoxicates Butler is branding.  Ummm, no…it appears he’s wanting to cash in on what he sees as an exclusive market.
  • “And there's marijuana leaves on everything. It's a horrible cliché in the industry”- yet his is ok because he designed a leaf made of BUBBLES.  Yeah right.
  • He then compares his marketing technique to how Coca-Cola or Snapple would do it.  Dude, you are a team of 1…whereas their marketing department is 100s.  They would come up with something better than BUBBLES.
  • His has lower THC yet retail for $10-$15 a bottle?  In Amsterdam (where the marketing isn’t as tacky as he proclaims), they were 3 Euro….$6 tops and were full blown.

In the end, Mr. Butler is an opportunist with a bad Kenny-G haircut. If he would come out and say that, I would be fine with it…..hell, I’m a capitalist and am openly proud of it.  He’s marketing something that gets through loopholes in laws (which I am fine with), and says it is better because of some crappy logo.  Most of all, I don’t trust him…..he doesn’t drink or smoke.  Go figure.

Cheers -

Pot meets pop: Local entrepreneur plans to market line of smartly branded medical-marijuana soft drinks

SOQUEL -- How strange is the emerging world of medical-marijuana entrepreneurship?

Consider Clay Butler, who may soon be marketing a food product that he's never tasted, and that he would never buy. The product is called Canna Cola, and it's a soft drink that contains THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, aimed at medical marijuana dispensaries.

"I don't do drugs," said the Soquel-based commercial artist. "Never have. I never drank, never smoked. I'm a clean-living guy. I've had two beers in my whole life, and I remember them both too. No marijuana, I've never smoked a cigarette. I take an aspirin when I get a headache. That's it."

Yet, Butler is a partner in a company that is poised to move aggressively in a market that could one day be enormously popular by combining pot with soda pop, two products widely seen as scourges by many Americans -- though those upset by one tend to be approving or indifferent to the other.

"Even though, personally, I'm not interested and I don't think it's right for me," said Butler, "I'm a firm believer that adults have an inalienable right to think, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, decorate, dress any way they choose to do so. It's your life; it's your body."

What really intoxicates Butler is branding, the art of differentiating a product in the marketplace through words and images. And he's designed a line of soda pop that he says will be branded to take advantage of an entirely new market. The line includes the flagship cola drink Canna Cola, the Dr Pepper-like Doc Weed, the lemon-lime Sour Diesel, the grape-flavored Grape Ape and the orange-flavored Orange Kush.

Marijuana sodas do exist in the marketplace. But, said Butler, none of them have the branding savvy of his product.

"You look at all the marijuana products out there, and they are so mom-and-pop, hippie-dippy and rinky-dink," he said. "If someone can put every color on the rainbow on it, they do. If they can pick the most inappropriate and unreadable fonts, they will. And there's marijuana leaves on everything. It's a horrible cliché in the industry."

Butler's epiphany was to market the THC-laced sodas "how Snapple or Coca-Cola or Minute Maid would make a marijuana beverage, if they ever chose to do it."

Thus, he used the marijuana leaf -- it's an unavoidable part of the "brand DNA" of marijuana products, he said -- but he designed a leaf made of bubbles, to suggest soda pop.

The beverage line's dosage of THC will be "somewhere between 35 to 65 milligrams," said Scott Riddell, the founder of Diavolo Brands, which is marketing Canna Cola. He said the levels of THC in his line of soft drinks will be substantially below the levels of many drinks now on the market. He likened his product to a "light beer" alongside high-proof liquors.

"It's got a mild marijuana taste," Riddell said. "But the taste factor is really negligible compared to some competitors with three times the THC. When you get to that level, you really have a heavy aftertaste."

The new sodas will retail for between $10 and $15 per 12-ounce bottle.

The company plans to launch its product in medical marijuana-friendly Colorado in February. California, however, remains a wild card. Plans are tentatively to have it in California dispensaries in the spring.

But, Riddell said, he is concerned about a bill in Congress, the so-called Brownie Law SB 258, which would double the penalties for anyone who produces a product that combines marijuana with "a candy product" or markets it to minors. The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, passed the Senate last summer and is currently in the House. The bill poses a threat to all so-called "medibles," food products containing THC, Riddell said.

Working in the medical marijuana field presents entrepreneurs with unique challenges. The use of marijuana for any purpose is still illegal in federal law, despite various state laws regarding its medicinal use. As a result, the soda cannot be transported across state lines. Canna Cola sold in California would have to be manufactured in California. The company also has to conform to a wide range of county and municipal laws regarding medical marijuana.

And then there's the supplier factor. Butler said that his company has had to inform all of its suppliers -- bottles, caps, the shrink-wrap labels that go on each bottle -- about the nature of their product. Many have balked.

"We tell everyone flat out what the product is. We can't have a supplier finding out after the fact and saying, We can't be involved in this.' Not everyone will take your job," he said. "Of course, if we're selling cigarettes or alcohol or Vicodin or Viagra, it would be fine."

Assuming the Canna Cola line becomes profitable selling to dispensaries, its business profile will change dramatically if marijuana should ever become decriminalized on a federal level. If that were to happen, Butler doubts the food-industry behemoths will dive into the market immediately.

"My suspicion is that, if some day it is decriminalized, and you can get marijuana products in a liquor store or a 7-Eleven, I really don't think it would be the big established food companies that would get involved," Butler said. "I could see them buying out existing brands, which is a lot easier for them anyway. I think the market is going to the early pioneers."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Joe Montana and Mexican Beer?? Huh??

Looks like “the Comeback Kid” is pitching Modelo Beer in Mexico.  You would think he has enough money from the NFL that he wouldn’t have to be a pitch man, but at least it is better than Sketchers.

Happy Birthday John Belushi

This Day in History- January 24th 1935 THE BEER CAN

The first canned beer in the United States goes on sale in Richmond, Virginia. By the end of the year, 37 breweries follow the lead of the Gottfried Krueger Brewery.

The American Can Co. began experimenting with canned beer in 1909. But the cans couldn’t withstand the pressure from carbonation — up to 80 pounds per square inch — and exploded. Just before the end of the Prohibition in 1933, the company developed a “keg-lining” technique, coating the inside of the can the same as a keg.

Krueger had been brewing beer since the mid-1800s, but had suffered from the Prohibition and worker strikes. When American Can approached with the idea of canned beer, it was initially unpopular with Krueger execs. But American Can offered to install the equipment for free: If the beer flopped, Krueger wouldn’t have to pay.

So, in 1935 Krueger’s Cream Ale and Krueger’s Finest Beer were the first beers sold to the public in cans. Canned beer was an immediate success. The public loved it, giving it a 91 percent approval rating.

Compared to glass, the cans were lightweight, cheap, and easy to stack and ship. Unlike bottles, you didn’t have to pay a deposit and then return the cans for a refund. By summer Krueger was buying 180,000 cans a day from American Can, and other breweries decided to follow.

The first cans were flat-topped and made of heavy-gauge steel. To open, a hole had to be punched in the top with the sharp end of a church-key style opener.

Some breweries tried out cans with conical rather than flat tops, but they didn’t stack and ship as easily. Cone tops were sealed with a crown cap just like the cap of a glass beer bottle.

Canning was interrupted between 1942 and 1947 to devote resources to World War II. Aluminum cans, cheaper and lighter still, were introduced in 1958.

Beyond their economy and convenience, cans are actually better for beer than glass bottles. This isn’t the heresy it sounds. Beer’s main enemies are light, oxygen and heat. A can’s complete opacity blocks out the light that can make a beer taste “skunked.”

Beer becomes skunked or “light-struck” when light splits its riboflavin, a type of B vitamin. The ruptured riboflavin can react with isohumulones, chemicals that come from hops and help beer taste bitter.

The resulting molecule is similar in shape and smell to the musk sprayed by skunks. That’s why most microbreweries sell beer in dark brown bottles or, increasingly, in beer cans.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mr. Plow…that’s my name, that name again is Mr. Plow

I’m sure there can be stories all over the place about the poor job the plow services have been doing during the snow removal around the area.

Even today, going into CoMo, we passed TWO plows out on 63….even though the road is perfectly clean.  Nothing can convince me that they were not out there racking up overtime hours.

Oh Well….no matter how bad they are, could they be as bad as this guy?

January 15, 2011

DA: Plow driver in crash was drunk
5-year-old child in truck when it hit house was not hurt

MIDDLETON — A plow truck driver was drunk when he crashed into a Middleton home with his 5-year-old son in the front seat Thursday afternoon, a prosecutor said during his arraignment yesterday.

Sean Cusack, 44, of 11 Arthur Ave., Hamilton, is now being held without bail, charged with a third offense of drunken driving, as well as two counts of child endangerment.

He'll remain in custody until a hearing next Friday into whether he poses a danger to the public if released, a Salem District Court judge ordered.

Prosecutors say Cusack is a danger to the public and should not be released before trial.

Police were called to a Middleton Housing Authority development on Memorial Drive just after 1 p.m. after someone reported a plow truck had driven into a house.

They found a 2004 Chevy Silverado against one of the buildings, which was damaged by the impact.

Prosecutor Colleen Cashman said police found Cusack in the driver's seat and the child sitting next to him. Neither was injured.

Police immediately noticed an odor of alcohol and said Cusack's eyes were red and glassy.

Cusack admitted to having had three beers but told police he could not perform field sobriety tests because of his physical condition. (Court papers indicate that Cusack weighs 360 pounds, and in court he shook as he labored just to stand up).

He refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

Cusack told police he is diabetic, so they called an ambulance, and emergency medical technicians checked his blood sugar, which was normal.

Police found a nearly empty, 375-milliliter bottle (about 12.5 ounces) of Caldwell's vodka in the truck.

The child was taken by a family friend, and police filed a report of suspected neglect or abuse with the Department of Children and Families.

Cashman said both of Cusack's prior drunken-driving arrests came after crashes.

After his second conviction, he lost his license for two years and was then ordered to install an ignition interlock device that required him to submit a breath sample in order to start his truck.

Cashman pointed to a violation of that condition in 2009, indicated on his driver history.

Cusack's lawyer, Ed Sargent, suggested that without any field sobriety tests or a Breathalyzer, it will be a tough case for prosecutors to prove.

He suggested that his client's red, glassy eyes were the result of having been up plowing for 23 hours straight. The child had been in the truck since about 11 that morning, he said.

Judge Michael Lauranzano said he was particularly concerned about the prior interlock device violation and granted the prosecution's request for a hearing. He ordered that Cusack remain in custody at least until that can take place next Friday.

Cusack was not believed to have been hired by the housing authority but was there instead as a private contractor for one of the residents.

This day in History- Jan 23 1972

An unscrupulous New Delhi bootlegger sells wood alcohol to a wedding party, killing 100 guests.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Is this really necessary ?

I mean come one…..unless they are claiming it is healthy, lite or Low Carb….who really cares?

And to Food Activist Marion Nestle, who said “Alcohol has calories and calories are an enormous issue”, no shit……now get out of my liquor cabinet you HIPPIE!

Alcohol industry grapples with nutrition labeling

SAN FRANCISCO — - Pick up just about any beverage on store shelves and on the back of the packaging you’ll find a numerical rundown of calories, carbs, etc.

Unless, that is, the beverage is alcohol.

Some folks want to change that.

A proposal being considered by the federal Tax and Trade Bureau asks for the nutrition labels found on nearly all food and beverages also be included on alcoholic beverages where they are presently absent. Several alcohol industry businesses and organizations including Diageo North America, the world's leading distilled spirits, beer and wine company, support some type of labeling.

“In the year 2011, it’s sort of bizarre that alcohol’s the only consumable product sold in the United States that you can’t tell what’s inside the bottle,” says Guy L. Smith, executive vice president in North America for Diageo, the world’s leading distilled spirits, beer and wine company.

Diageo is supporting a proposal presently before the federal Tax and Trade Bureau – the agency with authority over alcohol labels – to list nutrition information such as calories, carbohydrates, serving size and alcohol per serving.

But not everyone in the industry is as enthusiastic.

At the Beer Institute, a trade association based in Washington, D.C., officials support listing calories, carbs, protein and fat content, as well as alcohol by volume. But they oppose the idea of defining serving size by fluid ounces of pure alcohol, or as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, on the grounds that you may get more than 1.5 ounces of liquor in a cocktail depending on what else is in the drink and the accuracy of the bartender.

But Smith says consumers know when they’re getting a large martini. The point is, he says, to give them a point of reference so they can generally know what to expect.

At the San Francisco-based Wine Institute, officials are asking that the labeling requirements be on a voluntary basis only. (Diageo also supports voluntary compliance.)

If labeling is made mandatory, then the Wine Institute is asking for accommodations, such as being allowed to generalize the calorie and carb counts on wine, rather than needing to have each vintage of each variety analyzed. Additionally, they want the option of choosing the style of label, perhaps putting the information on a thin strip-style label rather than the more traditional (and much larger) box format that appears on other foods and drinks.

“There shouldn’t be a significant cost impact on wineries,” says Wendell Lee, general counsel for the institute.

It’s unclear when federal officials might rule. Agency spokesman Tom Hogue said the Tax and Trade Bureau is working on the issue, but it’s a complicated one that doesn’t lend itself to a quick solution.

The current push for nutrition information was started in late 2003 by a coalition of consumer and public health advocates. Diageo announced its support for the move at the time and last December issued a statement calling on officials to rule.

The Distilled Spirits Council, based in Washington, also supports putting serving information on bottles.

Current labeling law is complicated.

Wine, beer and liquor manufacturers don’t have to list ingredients – and the nutritional labeling proposals being considered don’t require them to start doing that. However, they must list substances people might be sensitive to, such as sulfites, FD&C Yellow No. 5 and aspartame.

Wines containing 14 percent or more alcohol by volume must list alcohol content. Wines that are 7 percent to 14 percent alcohol by volume may list alcohol content or put “light” or “table” wine on the label. (Most wines in that category, however, do list alcohol by volume.)

“Light” beers must list calorie and carbohydrate content only. Liquor must list alcohol content by volume and may also list proof.

Food activist Marion Nestle, who researched the laws while writing about calories, was stunned by their piecemeal nature. She doesn’t see the point of listing protein, fat and carb content of alcohol, since it contains none or little of those, but would like to see labels that list the amount of alcohol, number of calories, number of servings in the bottle and ingredients.

“Alcohol has calories and calories are an enormous issue,” she says.

Read more:

If you’re Amish and you’re reading this, then you aren’t Amish

As a kid, I grew up south of Amish country in Indiana.  We used to go up near Ft Wayne to deal with the Amish over honeybees for my Dad.  They are a little odd (even by my standards). 

There is actually a documentary about Amish kids growing up, where they can basically do anything until 21 and then they have to make a decision on their religious beliefs.  It too is based in Northern Indiana.  You learn they get away with a lot of their own little laws, and can ignore some of ours. 

Now you have this story, where they are trying to force a store owner (that they probably do not visit in the first place) into handling merchandise that they approve.  What a crock.  Let the market decide vs regulating morality. 

Dry N. Ind. tourist town fights alcohol permit

SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. — A battle is brewing in the northern Indiana tourist town of Shipshewana over whether a convenience store should get a permit to sell beer and wine.

The Gas America store in Shipshewana has applied for a state permit to sell warm beer and wine in the town that's now primarily dry.

Local businessman Kevin Lambright tells WNDU-TV that Shipshewana doesn't want or need alcohol sales. Since many of the area's Amish residents travel by horse and buggy, he's arranging motor transportation for them to next week's meeting of the LaGrange County Alcoholic Beverage Board, where the permit request will be discussed.

The Shipshewana Town Board also opposes the permit request.

A message seeking comment was left at Gas America headquarters in Greenfield, Ind.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Official Beer of Smokes and Booze

Miller Beer has some of the best marketing plans out there.  No, they do flash Super Bowl Commercials, instead…they make funny ads and touch on the pride of America.

You might recall my post Thanking Miller for their support of the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) .  Well, now they are stepping it up.

Their new campaign?  They want to be the Official Beer of YOU.  That’s right…..YOU. 

By going to the Miller Highlife Website (currently experiencing a high volume), Miller wants to sponsor YOU as a spokesman.  They are even willing to send you a check for $1 to make it official OR you can donate that $1 to IAVA.

It's a world gone mad when it takes billions of dollars to be the official sponsor of some big-time sports star or celebrity. That's a ridiculous amount of money to pay to people who don't need more ridiculous amounts of money. Miller High Life believes in sponsoring those folks out there who really deserve it-YOU. You're out there every day, doing what you do-unabashedly living the High Life, and we believe you deserve to be rewarded for it.

So, sign the High Life contract, and you'll be able to select your signing bonus: a $1 check, $1 donation to IAVA or a $1 coupon (where state law permits). You'll also get a personalized kit-so you can proudly display your sponsorship for all the world to see.

Then, log into Facebook to upload proof you're living the High Life, and you could be featured in an ad or on our Facebook page. You'll automatically be added to the Wall of Fame.

So come one folks, 2 minutes is not going to kill your day, visit the Highlife and get sponsored…..and make that donation to a great cause.

Thanks again Miller….you are now the Official Sponsor of Smokes and Booze.


Best DiNero Performance

From Cape Fear……because we all need a laugh and a cigar sometimes.

An Equal Opportunity Offender

Ok, this goes out to Glenn.

For the record, I love Glenn to death.  He and I have been over (and under) the humps more than just about anyone.  We go way back.

Today, in response to my post regarding the Obama/Chine State Dinner (and it’s crazy wine prices) Glenn said-

Sounds like a typical high level business meeting... over priced and over the top. I'd expect nothing less. Would you question this were this a Republican. Did you check go through the trash can when Bush hosted the Chinese for lunch?
I'm just pointing out your hatred for the current administration is a bit over the top. I'm an equal opportunity hater. Fuck'm all, brown bag the event PBnJ good enough for the kids it's good enough for these prigs. They need to be focused on normalizing relations, economic issues, trade and why these fuckers wont leave my PC alone!

Ahhhhhhhhh….the Gauntlet was dropped.

First and foremost, he is correct.  I do not like the current administration.  I didn’t vote for him and some people might even say I am a closet Birther (but not lunatic fringe Birther).  That being said, if I found out a Republican was spending that much…..hell yeah I would be bitching about it. 

So, to be fair…..I Googled Bush State Dinners and took the first two that came up (I also included another Obama Administration State Dinner as well for comparison).  Here were the results-

Bush State Dinner with President of Ghana

Gratin of Maine Lobster

Late Summer Corn Pudding
Shafer Chardonnay "Red Shoulder" 2006 - $49.99
Whipped Sweet Potato

Creamed Spinach
Pride Mountain Merlot "Vintner Select" 2005 - $70
Roasted Red, Gold and White Baby Beets

Chicory and Blue-veined Cheese

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Banana Coconut Pudding

Graham Cracker Crumble and Cocoa Pod Shell
Schramsberg "Crémant" 2004 (Compare Prices)- $34

Bust State Dinner with Prime Minister of Italy

Delicata Squash Soup with Citron

Maine Lobster Fondue
Artichoke and Reggiano Cheese Ravioli

Ponzi Chardonnay "Reserve" 2005 $32.02

Rosemary-crusted Elysian Farm Lamb
Crispy Eggplant and Swiss Chard

Robert Mondavi Cabernet "Reserve" 2005 $53.44

"Santa Maria" Chocolate Napoleon

Iron Horse "Russian River Cuvée" 2003 $34.99

Obama State Dinner with Prime Minister of India

Dinner Menu
Potato and Eggplant Salad
White House Arugula With Onion Seed Vinaigrette
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Modus Operandi, Napa Valley, California $32.99
Red Lentil Soup with Fresh Cheese
2006 Riesling, Brooks “Ara”, Wilamette Valley, Oregon $25.95

Roasted Potato Dumplings With Tomato Chutney
Chick Peas and Okra


Green Curry Prawns
Caramelized Salsify With Smoked Collard Greens and Coconut Aged Basmati
2007 Granache, Beckmen Vineyards, Santa Ynez, California $20.29

Pumpkin Pie Tart
Pear Tatin
Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce
Sparkling Chardonnay, Thibaut Janisson Brut, Monticello, Virginia $27.99

Petits Fours and Coffee
Cashew Brittle
Pecan Pralines
Passion Fruit and Vanilla Gelees
Chocolate-Dipped Fruit

As you can see, while Bush did splurge on one wine (for $70), the majority of the wines over all are pretty reasonably priced.  Even the $70 isn’t that bad, as I have seen worse at restaurants. 

My take on the China State Dinner, is that we were showing off….and this is definitely not the time to show off.  Spending is way out of control and needs to be taken into check.  I totally disagree with how we are dealing with China (who plays their currency openly to devalue the dollar) vs how we deal with our allies (Hey Britain, here are some DVDs and copies of my speeches or Hey Canada, let me settle that beer bet with some cheap beer) .

I too am an equal opportunity hater (just ask me, I hate everyone), so don’t think I wouldn’t go after someone on the right if they made a gaffe.  It just happens to be coincidence that this blog started during the Obama Admin.  I can’t help that it has been a target rich environment-

Finally, to be a fair and responsible journalist (I knew THAT would get you laughing)….I will even post this picture I came across while researching.   – Cheers

How much for the wine?

Ok, I get it. It’s a State Dinner…….but really, do we need to be spending so much money.

As you may have read, President Obama recently held a State Dinner for China in the White House.  Politics aside (I personally agree with Donald Trump) I cannot believe that a we have to be so extravagant, especially under the current economy.File:WHMenu.jpg

Here is the Menu -

D'Anjou Pear Salad with Farmstead Goat Cheese
Fennel, black walnuts and white balsamic

Poached Maine Lobster, Orange glaze carrots and black trumpet mushrooms
wine--Dumul Chardonnay "Russian River" 2008 ($63.99 a Bottle)

Lemon sorbet

Dry aged rib eye with buttermilk crisp onions
Double stuffed potatoes and creamed spinach
wine--Quilceda Creek Cabernet "Columbia Valley" 2005 ($399.99 a Bottle)

Old fashioned apple pie with vanilla ice cream
wine-- Poet's Leap Riesling "botrytis" 2008 ($20.99 a bottle)

As you can see…the majority of the wine list is pretty reasonable in price……but then you get to the Quilceda Creek Cabernet "Columbia Valley" 2005 ….$400 a BOTTLE, are you kidding?  During the main course?  Where the most wine is consumed?

Think this…..there were approx 225 attendees.  How much wine would they drink?

Well, if you haven’t every checked out, I highly suggest it.  There is a great series they do that is called “How much inside”.  A few weeks ago, they ran “How Much Inside a Bottle of Wine”

Based on their “Study”, by putting 5 ounces in each glass, that equals 5 glasses per bottle.  So, how does that break down when an assumption of amount drunk by guests…..

  • Guests drink 1 Glass - 45 Bottles x $400 =$18,000
  • Guests drink 2.5 Glasses – 112 Bottles x $400= $44800

With the checks and balances (ie- One person drinks one glass, another drinks 4), I think it’s a safe estimate to go with the 2.5. 

This seems a little over the top to me (equivalent to 3 minimum wage employees for a year) . 

Now, I realize that other Presidents have had lavish State Dinners themselves, but Obama really needs to show some restraint.  If I were hosting China… would be MD 20/20 all the way.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Smokes and Boozes Scoops USA Today


On January 11th, I did a product review of Adult Chocolate Milk.  As you may recall, I was less than impressed.

Well, on January 16th USA Today ran a story on the product too.  Which one of your readers actually works for USA Today?  Come on, what are the odds Smile with tongue out

Anyway, like many of USA Today’s pieces, this looks more like an advertisement than a review/news story…..but, it’s booze in the news…so here you go- <Ed Note…..if P Diddy likes it, yet another reason to hate it.  Check out my opinion of him HERE HERE HERE and HERE>

Chocolate milk gets a grown-up twist with some vodka added

By Kellie Hwang, The Arizona Republic

Every parent has swigged the last of their kids' milk, juice or soda.

But very few add liquor, mix it up and tell their friends about it.

That's what Newport Beach, Calif., mom Tracy Reinhardt, 38, did one night after mixing her kids some chocolate milk and putting them to bed.

Reinhardt added a little vodka and promptly updated her Facebook status:

"Tracy is enjoying some adult chocolate milk."

Friends noticed and left a stream of positive comments and questions. Nikki Halbur, 36, of Gilbert, Ariz., was particularly intrigued.

The two had attended high school together in Southern California, and Facebook brought them back together. The posting made them business partners.

In 2009, the two launched Adult Beverage Co., makers of 40-proof vodka-based Adult Chocolate Milk and soon-to-be-bottlers of Adult Orange Cream, Adult Fruit Punch and Adult Limeade, scheduled to launch May 1.

"These days, especially with the state of the economy, people want to go back to a time when they felt good and comforted, which, for many, is their childhood," Halbur said. "So our slogan is: 'Re-taste your youth. At 40 proof.' "

The swing-top glass bottles are available at more than 300 stores, restaurants and bars in Arizona and in more than 20 other states.

Their first gig was a private party at the Beverly Hills home of Sacramento Kings and Palms Casino Resort owner Adrienne Maloof-Nassif, now on Bravo's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

"We ended up mixing the drink in her kitchen and serving it in plastic cups with red straws," Halbur says, laughing. "We knew our friends and relatives loved it, but when celebrities started to say they loved it, we knew we were onto something."

The pair continued to serve the drink at private parties for the Hollywood elite, from star athletes to Patti LaBelle and P. Diddy. The drink caught the attention of R&B singer Ginuwine, who signed on to be a company spokesman, dressing in an old-school milkman costume for ads.

Breaking into the Arizona market was easy, and Halbur said BevMo signed on right away, retailing 750-milliliter and 1-liter bottles for $17.99 to $22.99 each. The women financed the company themselves, with the help of a friend.

Temperance Distilling in Temperance, Mich., makes, bottles and packages the drink.

"We don't want to be just another vodka brand," Reinhardt said. "We are part something new, fresh and exciting. Bailey's (Irish Cream) is the closest thing, but they taste nothing alike. There isn't any other competing product on the market."

How can you not love Betty White?

You know Betty – The last surviving Golden Girl, getting crunched in a snickers commercial or the crabby lady in Lake Placid.

I don’t think you can find a hotter commodity in Hollywood than Betty, and yet sadly…her earlier work is often over look.  Just check out IMDB to how much stuff (especially voiceover work) she has done.

How do you top a career like hers?  By Drinking Vodka (Grey Goose) while appearing on the David Letterman for your 89th Birthday.

Any woman that calls herself a broad and says Vodka is a hobby is ok by me.  Happy Birthday Betty – Cheers Smile

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I learned something

Yesterday I received a new book –

The Search for God and Guinness  A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World

I’m only a few chapters into it and I must say I am quite impressed.  The beginning of the book touches on the philanthropy of the Guinness clan in Ireland (I’m sure to be expanded on further later) with some interesting bits of trivia…but what has captured me so far has been a fairly detailed history of beer.

I won’t go into detail (not wanting to spoil the book for you), but there was one piece that I almost had to call BS on- That during the first meeting between the pilgrims and the Indians, X asked for Beer.   Come on….really?  With all the firewater jokes and clichés, you expect us to believe that they asked for beer?  Time for some research.

This lead me to “Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth 1622 Part 1”, a detailed firsthand account of those early days and an interesting read unto itself.  In it, beer is mentioned 9 times (Tobacco 4 times, wine not at all)….including the following passage-

Friday, the 16th, a fair warm day towards; this morning we determined to conclude of the military orders, which we had begun to consider of before but were interrupted by the savages, as we mentioned formerly. And whilst we were busied hereabout, we were interrupted again, for there presented himself a savage, which caused an alarm. He very boldly came all alone and along the houses straight to the rendezvous, where we intercepted him, not suffering him to go in, as undoubtedly he would, out of his boldness. He saluted us in England, and bade us welcome, for he had learned some broken English among the Englishmen that came to fish at Monchiggon, and knew by name the most of the captains, commanders, and masters that usually came. He was a man free in speech, so far as he could express his mind, and of a seemly carriage. We questioned him of many things; he was the fist savage we could meet withal. He said he was not of these parts, but of Morattiggon, and one of the sagamores or lords thereof, and had been eight months in these parts, it lying hence a day's sail with a great wind, and five days by land. He discoursed of the whole country, and of every province, and of their sagamores, and their number of men, and strength. The wind being to rise a little, we cast a horseman's coat about him, for he was stark naked, only a leather about his waist, with a fringe about a span long, or little more; he had a bow and two arrows, the one headed, and the other unheaded. He was a tall straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, only short before, none on his face at all; he asked some beer, but we gave him strong water and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard, all which he liked well, and had been acquainted with such amongst the English.

HOLY CRAP…..the first thing Samoset asked for, of all things…was BEER.  This book rocks Smile

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Day in History……the Lewinsky Scandal

It’s hard to believe that it was 13 years ago today that the Drudge Report broke the story of Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton.

HERE is a link to the Star Report, but since this site is called Smokes and Booze…..I’ve culled the parts about cigars for everyone below.  Be Warned.

We first learn that Ms. Lewinsky had just had her first cigar and was bragging about it….and we also find out she was a cigar MOOCH as well

Sometime between noon and 1 p.m., in Ms. Lewinsky's recollection, she was in the pantry area of the President's private dining room talking with a White House steward, Bayani Nelvis. She told Mr. Nelvis that she had recently smoked her first cigar, and he offered to give her one of the President's cigars. Just then, the President came down the hallway from the Oval Office and saw Ms. Lewinsky. The President dispatched Mr. Nelvis to deliver something to Mr. Panetta.

According to Ms. Lewinsky, she told the President that Mr. Nelvis had promised her a cigar, and the President gave her one. She told him her name -- she had the impression that he had forgotten it in the six weeks since their furlough encounters because, when passing her in the hallway, he had called her "Kiddo." The President replied that he knew her name; in fact, he added, having lost the phone number she had given him, he had tried to find her in the phonebook.

Then we find out that she is had as filthy of a mind as Slick Willy AND that the whole cigar thing was somewhat her idea.

Afterward, she and the President moved to the Oval Office and talked. According to Ms. Lewinsky: "[H]e was chewing on a cigar. And then he had the cigar in his hand and he was kind of looking at the cigar in . . . sort of a naughty way. And so . . . I looked at the cigar and I looked at him and I said, we can do that, too, some time."

Now we have the scene that needs no introduction (NSFW)

In the hallway by the study, the President and Ms. Lewinsky kissed. On this occasion, according to Ms. Lewinsky, "he focused on me pretty exclusively," kissing her bare breasts and fondling her genitals.  At one point, the President inserted a cigar into Ms. Lewinsky's vagina, then put the cigar in his mouth and said: "It tastes good." After they were finished, Ms. Lewinsky left the Oval Office and walked through the Rose Garden

Finally, we find out she at least gives good presents (if nothing else).  Perhaps she could have saved the money and cleaned her blouse.

On the morning of Saturday, December 6, Ms. Lewinsky went to the White House to deliver the letter and gifts to the President. The gifts included a sterling silver antique cigar holder, a tie, a mug, a "Hugs and Kisses" box, and an antique book about Theodore Roosevelt.  Ms. Lewinsky planned to leave the parcel with Ms. Currie, who had told Ms. Lewinsky that the President would be busy with his lawyers and unable to see her.

From the category of “To Silly to Make Up”

German Police Pick up Drunken Owl

An owl that had evidently drunk too much Schnapps from two discarded bottles was so inebriated that it got picked up by police. The bird will be released once it has sobered up.

German police said on Tuesday they had discovered a paralytic owl that appeared to have drunk too much Schnapps from two discarded bottles.

"A woman walking her dog alerted the police after seeing the bird sitting by the side of the road oblivious to passing traffic," Frank Otruba, spokesman for the police in the southwestern city of Pforzheim, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

The Brown Owl didn't appear to be injured and officers quickly concluded that it had had one too many. One of its eyelids was drooping, adding to the general impression of inebriation.

"It wasn't staggering around and we didn't breathalyze it but there were two little bottles of Schapps in the immediate vicinity," said Otruba. "We took it to a local bird expert who has treated alcoholized birds before and she has been giving it lots of water."

The bird will be released once it has sobered up, police said.

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