Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bar Rescue and a Conspiracy Theory

Hey, I love Conspiracy Theories.  This is why I troll WND.com, some of them are to good to pass up.

I also love Reality TV.  I know….I’m a glutton for punishment.

Today, I get both.

Part 1 -

Recently I started watching a new show called Bar Rescue.  Similar inv vein to Kitchen Nightmares, you have a “Bar Expert” going into Bars that obviously need help (and in incredible amounts of debt) and giving them a a makeover an advice to set them back on track.  I particularly like this show, as the host (Jon Taffer) does give advice and insight not only to the owners, but that can be used by anyone starting or running a bar.  It’s good fun.

Part 2 –

On my Monday Quick Hits, I posted about President Obama’s “Uncle Omar” being arrested for DUI.  While this would normally be a non-news event, this is the President’s Uncle and he’s in the US illegally. 

Part 3 – The Coincidence?

Now normally it would be hard to put two and two together here, but today’s story in the Boston Herald brings up something interesting. The Bone

A marked cruiser pulled him over just past the Chicken Bone saloon, about a mile from Onyango’s single-family home.

The Bone was topic of a recent episode of Bar Rescue.  In fact, The Bone is the rebranded name (originally against the Owner’s wishes) of The Chicken Bone.

Conspiracy –

Talk about Coincidence and being at the right (wrong) place at the right (wrong) time.  Given that this is Spike TV, what would they have to lose from a publicity stunt such as this?  What a coup d'etat this would be if they could have influenced where the suspect was pulled over or “inspired” the whole event to take place.

Is it far fetched?  Yes.  Could it happen?  Who knows?  But what great (or horrible) publicity for a bar, especially if this goes national (which I think it will). 

Put on your tinfoil hats and lets go for a ride.


Monday, August 29, 2011

For the Sports Fan in your life

Football Season is upon us, and I’m sure there are the die hard fans out there that have been counting down the days.  In addition to those die hard fans, I am sure there are countless spouses, friends and/or partners out there that are also caught up in the excitement, but only because of their significant other. 

It’s those people that I want to address today.

Have you ever found it hard to find that perfect gift for that special someone in your life?  Have you ever sent flowers, but gotten a less than enthusiastic “They were great honey, thanks” response?  Have you ever wondered what to get that special man in your life, to send as just a reminder of how special he is?

Search no more.

Enter – The Beer BouquetLogo

Beer Bouquet is s a unique gift that is sent via the mail that I would almost guarantee will bring a smile to any recipients face.

Containing a 6 pack of beer (at the time of this writing, there were 26 different choices, including 4 non-alcoholic options), a bag of peanuts and an Ice Bucket with their favorite sports logo on it.  There is even a Coozie and bottle opener thrown in as well.  What sports fan wouldn’t love this?

I received mine just before the 4th of July Weekend, and quite honestly…I was as giddy as a schoolgirl.  I actually remember thinking as I opened the box – “I can’t believe I’m getting beer shipped to me”.  My smile was huge.


Inside I found a very innovative packing solution, that has each item secured in its place.  Aside from some serious hard hitting, you can see that the contents are going to come through unscathed.  P7010378

The beer selection was the Boulevard Line, and there was a fairly broad selection, ranging from the light ZoN to the Bully Porter. 

I honestly cannot speak to the peanuts, because my (at the time) 8 year old son James ran off with them while I was doing photos.  By the time I tracked them down – he had already cleared most of the bag and just let him finish them.  He did give them two thumbs up however, so that is a bonus.

P7010379The bucket is your standard pail, with a removable decal (in this case celebrating July 4th) that could easily be reused – not only as a beer bucket, but for numerous other “around the house” and “manly” things.

Finally, who can’t use a Beer Coozie and a bottle opener?  You can never seem to have enough of either around, and the bottle opener is on my key ring as we speak.

While I could see some people balking at the $49.99 +S&H price tag, I want you to consider this.  Its not about the price….its really not.  Instead, its about catching someone by surprise and having them feel like kids at Christmas, opening a box and seeing the wonderment as they realize that you really care.  When one considers that Roses run close to (if not more than) the same price, its not that much of a stretch.

Bucket 2BucketSo, with the Irish and the Tigers playing this Saturday – why don’t you visit www.beerbouquet.com now and surprise your favorite fan today?  When you see the smile, you can thank me for it later.

Cheers and Go Irish and Go Tigers!

Football doesn’t last forever

A lot of you know my son James, he’s a pretty exceptional kid.  At times he can be extremely driven and motivated, and when that changes…..just hint that he is a quitter and watch him come back with double the effort.

Last year, when asked what he wants to be when he grows up…James told his teacher that he wanted to play in the NFL  The teacher told him those were unrealistic expectations, and that he should look into something different.   Afterwards he told me that was the maddest he had ever been and the he WAS going to prove her wrong.

That’s my boy.  He has a mean streak, but he’s also stubborn.  This is why, while I support his goals…I let him know that he has to plan ahead for AFTER Football and have a great education.

Here is an article I will be sharing with him today.  I’ve always like Jeff Faine, from his days at ND through the NFL.  He has that same mean streak and tenacity that I see in James.  He’s not a quitter.

Congratulations to Jeff and good luck in the future.  Thank you for being a positive role model and showing that Education never stops. 

Cheers & Go Irish.

Sports celebrity emerges as downtown player

os-jeff-fain-clubs 0023.jpgLeaning against the bar of downtown Orlando's new Frank & Steins hangout, the 300-pound man with the shaved head, blue jeans, untucked shirt and taped fingers looks more like a bouncer than a businessman.

But when Tampa Bay Buccaneers center and hometown celeb Jeff Faine opens his mouth, he lays out with aplomb a series of real estate deals that he has consummated, some investment opportunities he has missed, and his concerns about the downtown club scene.

The 30-year-old, who is entering his ninth season in a professional sport with an average career span of three to six years, said he realizes he should leverage his sports fame while he can.
"I want to be able to set myself up," said the 1999 graduate of Seminole High School in Sanford. "For some reason, I think the doors open a lot more easily now than they will later. … People want to meet a professional athlete, and we're taking advantage of that."

In recent years, the former Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints player has amassed interests in 14 restaurants in Ohio, several nightclubs and an office building in downtown Orlando, a shopping center in Tampa, and a growing collection of rental houses near Orlando's urban core. Most of the properties were distress sales.
"All we ever hear about with athletes is that they make a lot of money and then burn through it quickly," said Cliff Stein, principal of Tower Realty Partners, who with partner Reid Berman counsels Faine at regular Tuesday lunches. "Jeff's not only very talented athletically, but he may be better from a business perspective."
Commercial real estate investors must dissect the numbers behind a deal, but they also have to get a sense of more than that, Stein said. "Jeff has an innate sense to be able to smell out a deal where others might be scared away, and he's willing to work through problems."

When Faine first started investing, he fronted the money himself, but that's changing. Last year, for instance, he took a 10 percent stake in Poppa D's Nuts in exchange for helping market the snack food, which is being distributed nationally.

Not all of his deals have succeeded.

In 2008, he and Ohio-based investment partner Pete Downing opened Forty VII Clothing in the Plaza Building at Church Street and Magnolia Avenue. Faced with bleak sales, they closed the store two years later. Faine conceded that the shop was "pushing the envelope" for Orlando's current downtown culture. The city center, he said, is different from those in larger urban areas because its residents still tend to shop elsewhere.

In the old Forty VII space, Faine last month opened Frank & Steins brew pub and downtown eatery. With a menu of hot-dog varieties and 300 international craft beers, it draws a business crowd for lunch and a mix of customers for happy hour. Unlike other downtown nightspots, the music volume is set low enough for conversation.
He also has a two-year lease for the Other Bar, a Wall Street club that caters to the early-20s crowd. And, come September, he plans to open the beach-themed Dive Bar in 2,500 square feet at Orange Avenue and Washington Street.

In other deals, he has leased Central Station on Central Avenue and is working with entertainment concepts for the space. One possibility: a country bar. He said he also looked at forming a partnership with Orlando lawyer Mark NeJame for the downtown club Bliss, but the timing wasn't right.

Downtown-nightclub entrepreneur Doug Taylor, co-owner of Church Street Entertainment, said he appreciates the "friendly competition" that Faine brings to the market.

"Jeff Faine is operating his clubs like they should be operated," Taylor said. "We want more people coming downtown and coming to Church Street. We need good operators who have longevity and have the financial well-being to withstand the storm."

Faine's acquisitions are poised to benefit from last year's opening of the Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic, but the entrepreneur says he worries the downtown scene could be hurt by an NBA player lockout or by losing marquee Magic playerDwight Howard.

Having studied film at Notre Dame, where he played football from 1999-2001, Faine polished his business acumen last year with an NFL-sponsored class for pro athletes at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Bucs players elected him their union representative earlier this year in the face of contentious labor talks.
Faine said he has also learned from the missed opportunities of recent years, watching as many of the good real estate deals were "gobbled up by the big fish."

Despite any concerns or regrets, he said he plans to continue building a diverse real estate portfolio based in Orlando. And with a growing roster of downtown employees, Faine has a steady stream of tenants for the single-family houses he has started purchasing, with 10 properties in his holdings now. The goal for now, he said, is to hang on to the houses rather than flip them.

And in consultation with his girlfriend, who is about to graduate from nursing school, he is building a French-modern house in Winter Park, near Lake Sue.

"I love Orlando. I go to big cities like Chicago and New York and you almost get lost," Faine said. "Orlando is more like a small city. You're familiar with a lot of people. You don't get lost. Done right, you can make an impact that would be felt."

We really need Mugshots

I’m sorry….how can you call yourself a reporter and NOT have a mugshot for this?

Please turn in your red nose and big shoes ASAP.

Man allegedly dressed as clown in stolen golf cart faces DWI charges

BATAVIA — A report of a stolen golf cart being driven by a person dressed as a clown resulted in a drunken driving arrest, Genesee County sheriff's deputies reported this morning.

Deputies were notified about the theft at about 8:40 p.m. Sunday, after the cart was seen heading west on Clinton Street Road from Terry Hills Golf Course. The cart and its driver were located, and the driver was found to be intoxicated, deputies said.

James R. Straub, 37, of Stoneham, Mass., was charged with driving while intoxicated and refusing to take a breath test. Following arraignment before Batavia Town Justice Thomas D. Williams, he was sent to the county jail.

Monday Quick Hits–DUIs, Whiskey and Sports

Obama arrested for DUI

Probably the main story of the week is the week is the arrest of Barak Obama’s “Uncle Omar” for DUI.  While that in itself would be newsworthy, when one adds that he is an illegal immigrant and has been living under a false name…..well, I think you get the picture.  “Uncle Omar” was charged with DUI (blowing a .14) and driving to endanger (with a lesser failing to use a turn signal tacked on).  The driving to endanger is related to him almost striking a police car.  Considering the special treatment the President’s “Aunt Zeiti” got, I wonder what kind of weak sentence he will get….to be followed by legal status and special protection?

US’ Oldest Citizen

marguerite_kuebrichOn a lighter side, America’s oldest citizen – 103 year old Marguerite Kuebrich, has listed the secret to her longevity…..Irish Whiskey and her Irish heritage.  Cheers Marguerite, and well done.

Wal-Mart Sucks

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Wal-Mart has canceled a deal to install wine vending machines in some stores.  The story is vague, and I’m not 100% up on the PA Laws (looking at you Chris), but I think this is due to current legislation that restricts liquor licenses to certain types of stores.  The machines (somehow) get by that regulation, which is why Wal-Mart wanted them….but now it seems that Republican lawmakers want to end state oversight.  Since Wal-Mart doesn’t need them, they cancel the contract. 

Breathalyzers at Stadiums?

How about an article where the writer thinks we need breathalyzers for everyone entering sporting events?  As someone who recently went to a game (HERE), I thought the pat down slowed up entry enough, throwing in a sobriety checkpoint is absurd.  While I understand that he wants to curtail some of the problems associated with alcohol at the venue, the real problem is ignored – the incredibly high prices of beer. 

At $7-$8 a beer, more and more people are binge drinking before they arrive at the stadium.  Its after they arrive and the alcohol begins to take effect that they get out of control. 

Further, the guy selling the beer in the seats hardly ever makes direct contact with his point of sale – instead, beer and cash are passed up and down the aisle and he goes away. 

My suggestion is to lower the price of beer to a reasonable level ($5) and to stop selling in the stands.  That way a person has to come and get the beer, possibly being spotted by Ushers or the cashiers as being drunk.  If John Doe has to get up 8 times a game to get beer, he might stay in his seat more and not get so hammered.  Just my two cents.

Best Beer Pong Table Ever

Finally, Football Season is just around the corner – which means tailgating.  I’ve never been a big fan of Beer Pong, but if I had a table this cool, I might consider it.  Check out the video, but be warned – the music is loud, so set your speakers accordingly.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Whiskey Disks vs Whisky Stones

Awhile back Debi had given me a set of Whisky Stones from Terofoma.

I used them a few times and thought they were neat.  They didn’t chill my drinks as much as ice, but they take the edge off without diluting the alcohol.  They were unusual and an interesting conversation piece, although I wondered if there was a competitive product and was this “Best of breed”.  This lead me to Whiskey Disks and this review/competition.


Whisky Stones are shipped in a plain white muslin bag and come as a set of 9 stones.  The stones themselves are Vermont soapstone cubes with slightly rounded edges and blunted corners.

Meanwhile, Whiskey Disks come from New Hampshire’s White Mountains and are also made from soapstone.  Instead of cubes, the folks at Hammerstone chose to go with disks that are milled smooth.  There are 4 disks in each set and they come in black bag for storage.

For this test, I used Jim whiskeyBeam’s Devil’s Cut Bourbon and two German crystal tumblers.  For the purpose of full disclosure- these glasses do come from Hammerstone, but I do  not believe that it gives Whiskey Disks any unfair advantage….I just liked the set when I was buying the the disks.  Both the bourbon and glasses were stored at room temperature, in this case 74.6 degrees.

I used one Whiskey Disk and three Whisky Stones, covering each with 1.5oz of bourbon and taking an immediate reading with an   Acu-Rite digital thermometer.  Subsequent readings were at 1,3,5,7,10 and 15 minutes.  Great care was taken to not disturb the stones or stir the whiskey during the testing process.

Here were the findings -


As you can see, the results are fairly close.  Whisky Stones had a greater initial drop in temperature, but over time they seemed to lose their heat exchanging capacity.  Over a 15 minute time period, there was a 7.1 degree shift.

On the other hand, Whiskey Disks did a better job of maintaining the initial temperature change and only had 2.9 degree shift. 

I could have continued the test for a longer period, but I wanted this to be a realistic evaluation……ie, if you are nursing such a small portion for 15 minutes, you shouldn’t be drinking.

Factoring in the above data, here is my evaluation of the two products head to head.

Aesthetics and Practicality – Whisky Stones look like stone ice cubes, whereas Whiskey Disks maintain a low profile in the glass.  The problem with Whisky Stones is that they clank around a lot when drinking.  In contrast, Whiskey Disks conform nicely to the bottom of the glass and glides around the edges as you tip the glass.  Advantage Whisky Disks.

Data- I think the data above speaks for itself.  Advantage Whiskey Disks.

Price – In an attempt to not compare Apples to Orange, I went with a price comparison based upon number of drinks you can do with each set without reusing the stones.  Whiskey Disks retail for $24.99 for 4 disks.  That works out to 4 drinks at $6.25 each.  Whisky Stones retail at $20 for 9 stones, equivalent to 3 drinks at $6.67. Advantage Whiskey Disks.

DisksI’m not a scientist, but there you have it.  Whiskey Disks wins in all categories.  While both are fine products and you couldn't go wrong with either….my endorsement goes to them.

I do give props to Whisky Stones for being “The Original”, however the stone masons at Hammerstone definitely deserve credit for improving the efficiency and aesthetic.

Congratulations to the folks at Whiskey Disks.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Maybe Russian Prison is not so bad?

While I could do without the champagne – Sushi and Whisky sounds good.

Russian Prison Is Full Of Sushi, Champagne And Whiskey

Over at the Independent, Russia Correspondent Kevin O'Flynn has details from an interview with a former resident of one of Russia's notorious prisons.

Basically, it turns out to not be so bad.

Pretty nice, even.

"We had whatever we wanted. I even ate sushi every day," Andrei, a former assistant to a Russian member of parliament who was sentenced to nine years in jail in 2006 for embezzlement, told the Russian paper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

"We had a great table laid on for us in the camp – sushi, champagne, whisky."

Andrei says he was even allowed out whenever he wanted, and could spend nights in a hotel on the prison grounds, bringing back whomever he chose. At one point he even went on holiday to Italy.

The news comes just a few weeks after a Governor at a prison outside Moscow was sacked for allowing prisoners to host a toga party with an enviable spread (and take photos, of course).

Andrei told the paper that the problem comes from the poor funding of the prisons, which means they are forced to take bribes from rich inmates.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/russian-prison-is-all-just-sushi-champagne-and-whiskey-2011-8#ixzz1WFUwoC1C

Gotta Love this Sports Illustrated Cover

SI Cover

If only they had stayed to pay the tab…

Exerpt from – One Man against Tyranny

Maria Strobel could not believe it of her Führer. Adolf Hitler and his party—a group of senior Nazis that included Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels and Reinhard Heydrich—had spent more than an hour in her Munich bierkeller. Hitler had delivered a trademark speech, and, while they listened, Himmler and the others had run up a large beer bill. But the whole group had left in a hurry—leaving the tab unpaid and Strobel untippped.

Much annoyed, the Bavarian waitress set about clearing up the mess. She had made only a small dent in the pile of steins when, at 9:20 p.m. precisely, there was a huge explosion only a few feet behind her. A stone pillar disintegrated in the blast, bringing part of the ceiling crashing down in a rain of wood and masonry. The explosion hurled Strobel the length of the hall and out through the bierkeller’s doors. Though stunned, she survived—the person closest to the blast to do so. Eight others were not so fortunate, and a further 63 were so badly injured that they had to be helped out into the open air. As they staggered toward safety, the dais where Hitler had been standing eight minutes earlier lay crushed beneath six feet of heavy timber, bricks and rubble.

Read more here - http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2011/08/one-man-against-tyranny/

Friday, August 26, 2011

Titanic–Alternate Ending

Did you know the movie Titanic had an alternate ending?  I didn’t either.  But more on that in a minute.

I love everything about the history of Titanic, its been one of those things that has always fascinated me….ever since the December 1985 edition of National Geographic that showed actual pictures from the wreckage.

To see those images of ghost ship haunted me back in the day, and I could not get enough information about it.  Of course, this plays to the Trivia Nut that I am, but I ‘m not complaining. 

Did you know -

  • Titanic was never christened.  White Star Line did not believe in the practice.
  • Even though it had four smoke stacks, only three worked?  If you see a picture of “Titanic” and all four stacks are spewing, then you are actually seeing her sister ship Olympic.
  • Two songs were reportedly played as the ship was sinking - "Songe d'Automne" or "Nearer Thy God To Thee".  I prefer the later for reasons some of you will understand.Wine Bottles
  • On board were 15,000 Bottles of Ale and Stout, 1000 Bottles of Wine, 850 Bottles of Spirits and 8,000 cigars.
  • One of the unique items claimed to insurance as lost (everyone knows about the car) was four cases of Opium.

As you can see, the ship was fascinating…and would be still even if she hadn’t sunk.

So, needless to say, when the film released….I went to see it.  I saw the movie just before Midnight on New Years Eve 1997.  Why New Years and why alone, that is another story….but needless to say, it made my night and year.  I wasn’t captivated by the acting, music or storyline (the Ship Sinks)…but instead the grandeur and attention to detail of the set.  Incredible.  Definitely worth the Best Picture Oscar over Good Will Hunting, The Full Monty (which I also loved) and LA Confidential. 

So, imagine my surprise to learn there was an alternate ending to the movie.  No…the ship still sinks.  Instead of an aged Rose sneaking to the tail of the ship, dropping the Heart of the Ocean and then going back to her bed to dream about being back onboard with Jack (and presumably dying), we have a scene with Bill Paxton and Suzy Amis (later to marry James Cameron) that involves her telling how she gets drunk and dances, while Bill Paxton gives his cigar speech.

The scene has other surreal moments and dialog, such as -Evil Bilbo

  • Old Rose looking like Evil Bilbo Baggins (1:57)
  • “The Hardest part about being so poor was being so rich” (2:20)
  • “I don’t know what to say to a woman that tries to jump off Titanic when its not sinking, and then jump back on when it is” (2:33)
  • “Wait! Just let me hold it in my hand” (2:55)
  • Being asked to believe that once it is in Bill Paxton’s hand, that he couldn’t just snatch it away (3:25)
  • “That Really Sucks Lady!” (4:16)
  • Bill Paxton revisiting the Chet Smile from Weird Science (4:36)
  • Bill Paxton laughing like Charlton Heston (4:40)



84th Infantry Division This drink is for you

I think this article needs no introduction.  Sadly, these brave men of the WWII Generation are passing away at an alarming rate.  What is even worse?  That their final reunion was relegated to some hotel near an airport, instead of one last parade from what should be a grateful nation, if not the world. 

Gentlemen, there isn’t much I can offer….except my silent thanks and a salute to you all. 

Well Done

World War II vets gather in St. Louis for final reunion

600px-US_84th_Infantry_Division_svgAfter 66 consecutive years, they've assembled for one final roll call.

Members of the Army's 84th Infantry Division are gathering in St. Louis this week for their last annual reunion. Age has taken a toll on this once-hardy group of World War II veterans who fought their way across Hitler's Germany.

"I'm sad it's the last one, but I'm realistic enough to know it can't go on forever," said Alfred Dion, 85, of Hingham, Mass., a machine gunner who received a Purple Heart. "Like everything else, things end."

It's a similar story across the country as more of the men who made up the Greatest Generation are calling it quits when it comes to annual get-togethers with their wartime buddies. The 99th Infantry Division, the 40th Engineers, the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team and the crew of the aircraft carrier Enterprise are just a few groups that have hosted their final gatherings in recent months.

Of the 16.1 million Americans who served during World War II, about 2 million survive. Each day about 790 die, according to Department of Veterans Affairs statistics.

In some ways, the final reunion comes as a relief, said Marie McDonald, 79, of Oregon. She has been coming to the gatherings for 20 years with her companion, Brownlee Bush, 85, who served in the 84th. Travel for some participants has become difficult. Attendance in recent years dwindled and often included younger family members who came along to provide assistance. Many of this year's attendees sat in wheelchairs, leaned on canes or struggled with hearing aids.

"It's a fun group, and it's sad that it has to stop, but it's got to stop sometime," McDonald said.

The 84th Division's 16,000 men began basic training in January 1943. They entered combat on Nov. 18, 1944, with an attack on Geilenkirchen, Germany, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and crossed the Rhine River on April 1, 1945. Within two weeks, the unit had reached the Elbe River, where it halted its advance and patrolled the banks until the war's end. The men spent 170 days in combat and earned seven distinguished unit citations.

"These guys fought a war," McDonald said. "We won a war in four years, when now the area they're fighting in is no bigger than Texas, and they've been there 10 years, and it's sad. We had a reason to fight. We wanted to be free."

The group held its first stateside reunion in Cincinnati in July 1946, just months after returning home. About 700 showed up.

Dion said he remembered hundreds of veterans still attending in the 1960s.

But more and more in recent years, the pages of the unit's newsletter, The Railsplitter, were filled with the names of those who had passed away. With only about 100 men attending last year's reunion, the members decided on one final hurrah.

They have spent a few days at a hotel near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport reminiscing about their wartime experiences, past reunions and comrades now long gone. Today they'll hold a memorial service and banquet.

Tables in the group's meeting room hold some of the unit's memorabilia and a recent letter sent by Deborah Long of Chapel Hill, N.C.

The letter thanked the men of the 84th for their service, especially Company A for liberating the Salzwedel labor camp where Long said her mother was held prisoner. Long wrote that her mother was the only immediate family member to survive the concentration camps and she later emigrated to the United States and had her own daughters.

"Were it not for the bravery of the 84th Division, I would not be here today, nor would my sister or our children," she wrote.

This was the first reunion for Johnnie Walter of Conway, Ark. His wife died three weeks ago, and his kids thought it would be good for him to get away from home. He said he was happy he came, even though he had yet to spot anyone from his unit.

"I haven't seen a one yet, but I've met nice guys like him," he said, gesturing to Daryl Mitchell, who sat beside him.

Mitchell, of Nixa, Mo., a veteran of many reunions, said he'll miss the camaraderie "of setting around talking and carrying on."

"We foot-patrolled and walked through the snow ..."‰," he said.

"And slept in it," Walter offered.

And off the conversation went, two new friends sharing old stories.

McDonald said she knows how difficult the end of the reunion will be. In some cases, it will mark the final goodbye.

"Some of them we'll never see again," McDonald said. "It's hard to make friends like these."

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/article_db888e27-5b8b-5e63-9d8c-4f7b5150159e.html#ixzz1W8b0fR99

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If you are in MD–Stock up on BOOZE

Normally I try to restrict myself to three posts a day, but this story is so important that I felt I would break the rules….especially considering the page that I am quoting is getting so much traffic that it takes forever to open….if it does.

So, if you live in Ocean CityMaryland….Stock up on Booze.  Why do you say? Because as of Midnight tonight (and until the emergency is over) the Mayor will ban all alcohol sales within the city.

Everyone load up the fridge with Beer, pick up a couple extra 5ths and be safe.



Emergency Services Department

Ocean City Initiates Phase Three of Emergency Plan

Updated: 3:15 p.m. 8/25/11

Ocean City Emergency Management officials will initiate phase three of the hurricane action plan in preparation for Hurricane Irene. Phase three will go into effect at midnight tonight.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan has signed a proclamation declaring a local State of Emergency.

All persons other than identified emergency personnel are ordered to evacuate. Visitors are asked to return to their principle residences. Ocean City residents are asked to seek shelter elsewhere.

Utilizing the authority under a local State of Emergency, the Mayor is banning the sale of all alcohol in Ocean City and requests that all businesses close beginning at midnight.

All incoming traffic to Ocean City, Maryland, will be limited to emergency personnel. No other vehicles will be permitted entry to the island, except by approved authority (Mayor, City Manager and Emergency Services Director).

Ocean City Municipal Transportation System is providing transportation for special needs individuals. For special needs transportation, please call Ocean City Transportation at 410-723-1606. International student workforce evacuation continues and will be completed by tomorrow morning.

The Ocean City Government Cable Access Channel 4, the Ocean City website www.ocmdemergency.com, recorded emergency management line, 410-723-6666 and Ocean City advisory radio station 1670 AM will remain operational for further advisories.

Ocean City is expected to receive a significant impact from Hurricane Irene.

Easterly gale force winds should start affecting the area on Saturday, August 27 at 5 p.m. with hurricane-force winds arriving around 4 a.m. and lasting for a period of eight hours. The highest wind speeds from Hurricane Irene should occur near 9 a.m. when top sustained winds, from the north, could reach 90 mph with gusts near 120 mph. Winds should decrease below hurricane force shortly thereafter.

Sustained winds will fall below gale force after 3 p.m. and generally be from the north during this period of decreasing winds. Expect gusts above gale force level for several more hours thereafter.

The total rainfall for the Ocean City area over the next three days is forecast to be 9.5 inches. This can vary significantly as tropical storm and hurricane rainfall is very difficult to predict.

Storm surge is expected to be six-feet above normal high tide cycles resulting in significant flooding in low-lying areas.

More James Bond–Shaken vs Stirred

Happy Birthday Sean Connery

How can you not love Sean Connery?  I cannot think of any role that he’s been in (Ed Note – after I finished, I thought of Robin and Marion) where he wasn’t great.

Of course, the role he made famous was James Bond, and the drink – Vodka Martini, Shaken not stirred. 

But that wasn’t the first type of Martini he had.

If you read the original Casino Royal, you get an even better idea this drink (later called the “Vesper”)

"Bond insisted on ordering Leither's Haig-and-Haig 'on the rocks' [a quality Scotch whiskey - Lisa] and then he looked carefully at the barman.
'A dry martini,' he said. 'One. In a deep champagne goblet.'
'Oui, monsieur.'
'Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.

Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?'
'Certainly, monsieur.' The barman seemed pleasant with the idea.
'Gosh that's certainly a drink,' said Leiter.
Bond laughed. 'When I'm...er... concentrating.' he explained, 'I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name.'
He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip.
'Excellent,' he said to the barman, 'but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.'

So break out your Martini Shakers and toast one to Sir Connery tonight.  I know I will. 

Stripes and Jim Beam

It’s funny what inspires me to learn.  Sometimes it is a tidbit in an article that sends me off on a tangent, other times it is something I see or hear on TV.  Today, it was just a mention at the end of a movie.

stripesLast night I was watching the movie Stripes.  Not only is this one of the funniest movies by Bill Murray (remember him from our Suntory bit?), but also one of the greatest Army movies ever made.   I could watch it 100 times and still laugh.

What caught  my eye at the end of the movie was a fairly prominent credit/Thank You to the Jim Beam Distilleries. 

Normally these things are due to product placement, but there really wasn’t that much during the movie…..so, I had to know why.

As it turns out, the entire “Prison Break/Rescue Scene” was filmed at the abandoned Chapeze Distillery near Louisville Kentucky.  This distillery was (and still is) owned by Jim Beam and they utilize some of the warehousing.

The theme and feel of those scenes are perfect for an Eastern Block country….so I commend Jim Beam for allowing the filming (and destruction in part)  to take place there. 

Stripes brought together so many great actors (John Candy, John Larroquette, John Diehl, Judge Reinhold, Harold Ramis and of course…our favorite Big Toe- Warren Oats), it makes me happy this movie was made.

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

A few good Booze stories for the day


Police: Iowa City Woman Deemed Too Drunk For Bikini Wax, Attacks Employee with Towel – I don’t think this business understands…for me to get a Bikini Wax, I would have to be seven sheets to the wind and sauced to the gills.  Hell, I would give my customers drinks beforehand. 

Excellus: 20 percent of Central New York adults sometimes binge on booze – Considering this study defines Binge Drinking as “at least 5 Drinks on an occasion for Men”, I think that 20% is way to low.  Go to any sporting event and at least 1/2 the people there have had that many.  Of course, this is from the University of Pulling Stats out of our Asses….so take it with a grain of salt.

List Soup: 11 things that suck about being an adult -  Actually a pretty funny list – but the highlight is listed below.

By the time you can afford good booze on a regular basis, your liver is already saturated with swill

When you’re 17 or 18, you’re happy to get whatever beer or liquor you can get someone to buy for you. When you’re 21, you can buy whatever liquor you want, but unless you’re already well off by that time, you won’t be getting that top shelf liquor on a regular basis for a while. And by the time you can afford to get shitfaced on the really really good stuff, it isn’t as much fun anymore.

Expensive massages, top shelf vodka and five-star hotels: First Lady accused of spending $10m in public money on her vacations- Its no secret that I am not an Obama backer, and I realize the source is the National Enquirer, but it does seem that they take a lot of vacations…..so the $10Mill is probably not out of the question.  Throw in Ms Healthy Eating swilling down top shelf Vodka and it makes for a funny read.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anthony Bourdain–Official Chef of S&B

We love cooking shows here in the Bell Household.  From Top Chef to Ace of Cakes – we probably watch it. 

In particular, I love the personalities of the various chefs and critics.  They truly make the shows, and (IMO) the best ones are that way because they wear their emotions on their sleeves – they have a passion for what they do.

Just the other day, I blogged asking if we really need a wine commemorating 9/11.  While somewhat subdued, I did call for a complete boycott of the entire Lieb Cellars product line.  

Enter Anthony Bourdain.  Mr. Bourdain is a very famous chef andTV personality, most recently with his show “Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations”.  I’ve included a video from when he was in Russia at the bottom of this post for your viewing pleasure.

According to the article below, one of his former resturants (Les Halles) was carrying the wine.

His comments below are classic and spot on.  Not only did he move up a few notches in my book, but I am going to name him “The Official Chef of Smokes and Booze”.

Bravo Sir.  Well Done!

Anthony Bourdain Rips 9/11 Vintner a New One

The ranting and ravings of Anthony Bourdain are often over the top, sometimes outright silly. But his thorough ripping of the enterprising Long Island vintner selling 9/11 Memorial Commemorative wines is bang on.

The wines, said to honor the upcoming 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, are even being sold for $19.11! (As opposed to a less profitable $9.11??) According to The Independent, the No Reservations star was outraged when he learned through members of the FDNY via Twitter that Les Halles, his former restaurant, was selling the wines.

Reassuring his followers that he no longer has anything to do with the restaurant, Bourdain vowed to pull strings to have the wines removed from the list. "Holy FUCK! What kind of piece of shit would create such a product?" he tweeted, adding, "That's vomit inducing" and "I will personally leave an upper decker in the bathroom of whoever is responsible for this."

Lieb Cellars has said that a percentage of the proceeds will go towards the National September 11 Memorial Museum, but that percentage is less than 10. It's a rare case when a wine can make you sick before you even drink it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do we really need a 9/11 Wine?

Well, its not every day that a product actually appalls me….but today is the exception.

Meet Lieb Cellars- producers of wine from NY.  Please do me a favor.  Go to the website linked and take a few minutes to review their wines, familiarize yourself with them….so that later when you see the brand in the stores, you don’t buy them.

I know this sounds a little harsh, but if you think like I do, and read the story below, you’ll understand why.

You see, the cretins at Lieb Cellars have decided to capitalize on one of America’s worst tragedies by bottling wines based on 9/11.  They do this under the auspices of donating proceeds to a 9/11 Charity, however – the amount is so trivial (approx 10% or $1-$2) compared their profits. 

Seriously folks, did we need a wine to commemorate the assassination of JFK or MLK?  How about Pearl Harbor?  Hurricane Katrina?  No – nor do we need something a crass as a commemorative bottle of for September 11th. 

I honestly cannot think of a company I want to fail more (not even AsianSnakeWine), that’s how sick this makes me. 

Am I off base here?  Chime in in the comments sections, maybe I am just to sensitive….but this just seems wrong.

Long Island Winery Selling 9/11-Themed Merlot And Chardonnay

WineLieb Family Cellars of Mattituck says it has produced the 9/11 Memorial Commemorative Chardonnay and 9/11 Memorial Commemorative Merlot to mark to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the opening of the 9/11 Memorial.

The company says it has 247 cases of the Chardonnay and 251 cases of the Merlot and that each will sell for $19.11 per bottle if purchased directly through the winery.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the winery plans to give between 6 and 10 percent of the proceeds from sales to the September 11 Memorial and Museum. That amounts to a donation of $1.15 to $1.91 per bottle.

In addition, Lieb Family Cellars is also offering the September Mission Merlot as part of its “Great Wines For Good Causes” lineup. The Merlot sells for $9.11 per bottle, with 91.1 cents being donated to the September’s Mission Foundation, according to the company’s website

The Hemingway Daiquiri–Recipe and Review

In case you missed it last week I ran a post a post on The Hemingway Daiquiri. So over the weekend Randy (frequent poster from MySideoftheBar) went into the lab to research and create one.  I turn it over to him -

For background, The Daiquiri is one of the six basic cocktails as listed in “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” by David Embury. (A must read for true mixoligists) Ok ,before you ask the other five are

  • The Martini
  • The Manhattan
  • The Old Fashion
  • The Side Car
  • The Jack Rose

I also can take the credit for creating another drink named after my favorite author, The Hemingway Highball.

Now the Daiquiri is NOT the same drink as the ones I have been familiar with most of my drinking life. The Daiquiri was original a cocktail and NOT the frozen sweet drink that we know today.

So with that in mind I created a Hemingway Daiquiri. I used all fresh ingredients and for a reminder here is the recipe

  • 1 1/2 OZ Light Rum
  • ¾ OZ Fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ OZ Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • ¼ OZ Maraschino Liquor

Add Ice and ingredients to shaker and shake until very cold
Pour into glass of choice and garnish with a lime wedge


The Review:
I can say this was a great surprise. Very refreshing and very fruity and for those of you who are expecting a Daiquiri as you may know it you will be surprised by the differences. The drink is a little on the sour side and will remind you of a made from scratch Margarita (of course without Tequila or Cointreau) I had to have about four before I could really appreciate this cocktail.

Now looking ahead and reading “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” I found a variation of this drink that will be more appealing to those of you who have been hooked on today’s Daiquiri.

I added one teaspoon of sugar and coated the rim with powered sugar to sweeten it up. I was not found of the new additions, but I do believe that others will be more apt to enjoy it. I would also suggest adding a teaspoon (more if not sweet enough) of strawberry, raspberry, or other syrup in place of the grapefruit juice to change the flavor and sweeten the drink.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lets go Ghost Hunting

How could I review a place called Prison Brew without going to a real prison?  Well, I can’t.

This past weekend, we went on a Ghost Tour at the Missouri State Penitentiary. 

SAM_0680From 1836-2004, Missouri State Penitentiary was one the most populous and well used prisons in the United States.  Not only was the prison the site of the state’s Gas Chamber (later converted to Lethal Injection), but it held many famous people (criminals)- Pretty Boy Floyd, James Earl Ray (who later escaped and went on to kill MLK) and Sonny Liston…just to name a few.

With such history, and an opportunity to skulk around in the dark, I couldn’t pass this up.

While I could go into the spooky happenings and ghost stories of the place, I instead choose to refrain – encouraging you to take the tour yourself.  You wont be disappointed.

However, I will give you a taste….especially with some items that pertain to a blog such as mine.

SAM_0724The first such thing that “grabs” you is the ITC JCCC mural painted on the wall as you head into the women’s section of the prison.  ITC stood for Intensive Therapy Community, was for substance abuse and hosted the prisons chapter of AA. 

One can only imagine the number of addicts and alcoholics that prevailed through the prison, habits that would have continues through smuggled contraband and prison hooch.

Right next to this mural is a door leading in, but you cannot see much….which brings up a special note about the prison tour.  At certain points, there are areas you cannot go into due to safety concerns – either due to structural integrity, lingering chemicals (asbestos) or the condition of the area.  In this case, it could have been all three.  However, at another point in the tour….I was able to find a hole in the door and get a shot inside….so you could see where their meetings took place.SAM_0754SAM_0755







I’ve include both with and without flash here.  Notice the state that the building was left in.  This is apparent all throughout the prison, with abandoned furniture, files and equipment everywhere.  It definitely adds eeriness to the place.  Also, throughout the prison,  there are some areas with lights on, even though you cannot get there.  We were told that they leave those lights on out of fear that they would never turn on again if turned off.  Spooky.


Another thing I found interesting was a mural detailing the 12 Steps of AA.  My picture does not do justice to how big this was, nor the sad state of disrepair.  Imagine how many down cast ladies (again, this was in the woman’s section) passed this daily – possibly wishing they had learned them sooner.  As an added bonus, the artists names are still visible – one of them standing out to me.  Interestingly, looking down this hall was my first “Contact” of the evening.  I wont go into details, one because I don’t want to taint anyone else on the tour, but if anyone stands here and looks towards the stairs (past the woman’s solitary cell) and sees something, Email me.  I would love to compare notes.

The last Mural I wanted to share was in the main Men’s block (forgive me, I don’t recall the name), and goes to show how far and to what detail men would go for a little comfort of home.  Over the cell door (going out) of one of the cells, someone painted a little reminder of what he was missing from the outside world.  This was rather sobering (no pun intended) as it puts into perspective (as do many other items on the tour) how hard of a life this could be on people. 


Of course, no trip to the Penn would be complete without a visit to the gas chamber. 
Ed Chair
So here I am, sitting in the seat that was later converted to handle lethal injection.  I only wish I would have bummed a cigarette for a last smoke.

In the end, this tour was tons of fun and I highly recommend it.  In fact, some of us are even looking at doing the overnight tour, where you can conduct your own paranormal investigations.  Sound a little far fetched?  Well, recently the crew from Ghost Hunters did their one research, and this prison will soon be the topic of the show….so there must be something to it.

Grabs some friends, hit the bar and enjoy a frightful night in JC.  You’ll be glad you did.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

MBT- Stop Number 4- Prison Brews


This weekend we went with Charlie and Karen to Jefferson City to do the Ghost Tour at the former State Penitentiary

While we were in town, and keeping with the theme, we thought we would stop by Prison Brews on Ash Street and have a few (and some dinner) before the tour.

Located in a an old (circa 1895) building, most commonly known as the Landwehr Dairy, the brewery is about half a mile from the prison.  This is somewhat misleading, as the website says “two blocks from the old Missouri State Penitentiary”.  While roughly right, that is basing off of coming through the “hole in the wall gate” on Chestnut, whereas – if you are going for the tours, you need to be across for the  United States Courthouse on Lafayette Street, which is a bit more than two blocks.

The interior of the bar was brightly lit and inviting.  If you park in the back and come up the stairs, you see  Bocce  courts on your left and nice outside patio. 

SAM_0655Coming through the door, you are immediately met by some of the kettles from the brewing process.  I love it when a brewery puts it’s “Workings” out in plain view.


Both seating is setup like little prison cells, and the bar is totally encaged.  Is this kitschy, yeah…a little, but it works.  SAM_0657SAM_0671 

The only thing I didn’t like was the T-shirts hanging from the bars, even though we bought one.  If you are going for a certain style of ambiance, don’t clutter it up with marketing.

I won’t go to much into the food, unless others from the party want to throw their two cents in the comments section.  I will say that I had the Spicy Pub Pickles for an appetizer and the Ruben Sandwich for dinner.  Both were excellent and I would highly recommend.   Also, there was a severe mistake in Charlie’s entre, but it was rectified fairly quickly (which pointed to where the problem was). 

Now, on to the beer.

They do have a sampler that they bring out in 6 ounce glasses.  What I particularly liked was the flighting of the beers in accordance of “Light to Dark” that matched their beer menu.  This is a nice touch, and is often missed by other breweries. 

To keep in that theme, I’ve done a light review (since I was their with friends and not in an official capacity) and you can follow along with the beers – Staring with the lower right hand corner, working left, then go to the upper left and work right….ending in the dark stout.   There is one gap due to them being out of Prison Town Brown, to which I was able to sub out later (for another Stout).


  • Go to Jail Ale – A crisp clean beer, with light head and little carbonation.  Creamy in texture, but light in flavor, this definitely is the light beer of the bunch.There is a bit of roasted malts, but the hoppyness in the finish is the main flavor profile (saving grace) for this beer. 
  • I aint your Honey Wheat- I’m not much of a wheat fan, but I thought this pulled off rather well.  The honey adds a sweetness that was fairly refreshing, but not overpowering.  On par with the “Boulevard Wheats” of the world, I think this is a good offering and will satisfy most Wheat fans.  I liken this to a German styled Weissbier, so if you are looking for a Belgium style wheat however, you might come away disappointed.
  • American Pale Ale- A fruity caught taste definitely caught me off guard with this one, especially since the fruit was Grapefruit. I honestly thought I had picked up the Pretty Boy Floyd Peach Wheat first, but Debi corrected me end Charlie had the same beer too. My least favorite of the bunch.
  • Prison Town Brown – Out of this beer at this time
  • Pretty Boy Floyd Peach Wheat- This is an example of setting expectations.  As I said before, I am not a Wheat fan, but I understood before I drank that this had a fruitiness of Peach.  I could brace myself and take the flavor in stride.  Unlike the APA, with it’s “unadvertised” Grapefruit flavor, by expecting the fruit- I was able to enjoy it.  The peach flavor was actually quite nice, although not something I would drink on a regular basis.  Blending well with the wheat, the peach tends to give a smoother (creamy) finish a bit unusual to a Wheat.  Whereas I said the Honey Wheat was more like a German style, I would say this is a light attempt at a Belgium and would be where I would steer friends who prefer that style. 
  • Hard Time IPA- Your typical IPA, but not overpoweringly so.  The hops is a nice blend of three style hops, I think they have found the perfect combination that could appeal to “Hop Heads” and the average drinker alike.  I particularly liked the color on this one as well, as you attack a beer with your senses.  It was very inviting as that first glimpse into what you were getting.
  • Reformatory Rye Stout- Was there any doubt that I would like the stout best?  Actually, the way my tastes have been going lately (towards the high IBU Scale), I was surprised how much I liked this beer. I attribute that to the great flavor combinations of Heavy roasted malts (but not burnt), underlying sweetness (coco and honey) with a slight hint that I associate with the Rye.  There is just a little something different about this beer, and I really liked it.  Best of the bunch.  Since they were out of the Prison Town Brown, this was the one beer (other than what Debi gave me from hers) that I had two of.

SAM_0668Overall, I think the food was excellent (I know others will disagree) and the beer was above average – with the Rye Stout really shining above everything else.  Once thing I did notice, that all of the beers in the flight seemed lightly carbonated when we got them.  Later, when the waitress brought me another stout, it was perfect.  This tells me that that the the beer orders sat, that the flights were pre-poured and brought over as needed.  While note a major issue, the least the bartender could have done was top each off as it is somewhat detracting. 

Prison Brews was a nice diversion in Jeff City, and one I would return to if I were looking for Micro-brew styled beer.  It’s not to the level of Flatbranch, but I would definitely put it above Bull Rock and Broadway Brew.  

Stay tuned for the actual Prison Tour (Yes, even I can find S&B related material there)- and in the meantime, you can visit the Smokes and Booze FB Page for more picture of the Pub.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Four Horsemen Brewing Company

Life is a funny thing. 

Here I am in the middle of Missouri (literally) and someone I work with sends me a link, knowing that I blog about beer. 

This is not unusual, I get lots of stuff sent my way….but this one is special.  Not only is it about a new Micro-Brewery (which I did), but it is in South Bend Indiana, and it calls itself the Four Horsemen Brewing Company.

CapNow it is no secret that I love Notre Dame football, so this is a win/win situation. 

I’ve long thought that South Bend needed something like this.  Not to take away from the Linebacker Lounge or Corby’s (and many other good bars), but to have something made local is great thing.

Sadly, I won’t be making it up that way again until the ND/BC game (I’m looking at you JP), but I would love to hear some feedback of any ND Fans that make it in.

The Four Horsemen Brewing Company opened on Thursday, August 18 and is located at 710 Fellows St. in South Bend.

Hours for the taproom are

  • Wednesday through Friday from 3 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday’s from noon to 6 p.m. and Home Notre Dame Football Saturday’s from 7 a.m. to noon.

I love the concept, I love the logo…….I love the Brew Like a Champion Sign. I really do wish them luck.

Go Irish -

Sobieski Vodka and the US Military?

SobieskiIf you want to get on my good side, do something for the US Military, and by that…I mean the brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that defend our country.

From Jim Beam and Kid Rock to 50 Back Beer, Crown Royal to the great program of Miller High Life, these companies have dipped into their profits and used that money as a way to give back.

Our latest entry into this elite group is Bruce Willis and Sobieski Vodka.

Of course, we all know Bruce Willis.  Who could forget John McClane (from Die Hard), David Addison (Moonlighting) or BUTCH (Pulp Fiction).  Even his cameo in GI Joe was great. 

<Ed Personal Note – If ever a movie needed to be remade, its the Green Berets…..and Bruce Willis is my pick to play Col. Kirby> 

But who is Sobieski Vodka?  The Number 1 Premium Vodka in Poland and quickly becoming one of the fastest growing vodka brands, that not only has Bruce as a sponsor….but he is a partner as well.

Why should we care?  Two Words – Fisher House.

logoFH_medThe Fisher House program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Bruce Willis and Sobieski have committed a minimum of $250K for to Fisher House, and I can only say “Well Done”.  I really wish there was copy of THIS clip to embed, because I would literally tack it to the side of blog and leave it there.  Oh well….its still new and will make YouTube Soon. 

I can honestly say….I have no personal experience with Sobieski, but I do with the Military.  My life aside, some of my best and greatest friends (and now their children) have been proud service members.  If me promoting a vodka, beer, liquor or wine helps them in any way….I am onboard.  If those products are actually good (as are all of the ones I previously listed), then I call that a bonus.  All I know, is I will be picking up a bottle of Sobieski today….I owe them at least a try.

Yippie Ki-Ya

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sex Smokes Baseball and Notre Dame

Not often does a video make me say WTF.  Sure, there is the oddball Japanese vid or maybe BumFights, but seldom does one really blow me away.

Then there is this Jem – From 1995 over on Deadspin -

Setting – Fenway Park, mid-90s.  Two girls and a guy in an ND Shirt.  Since this is Smokes and Booze, they are smoking in the stadium (allowed back then)………..the rest, well click HERE and watch the video. 

I was unable to embed this vid, so the link will take you to Deadspin.  PLUS, the video may be offensive to some….you have been warned.

Do 5 Hail Mary's and a shot of St Brendan’s

Its not very often that a somewhat “No Name” unseats an industrial standard, but I think I have found one of those instances.

When you think of Irish Cream – Obviously, the first name that pops into your head is Baileys, and rightfully so.  It is mass marketed everywhere, it is a hit around the holidays and is something anyone can drink at any time.  It is smooth, delicious and great during Notre Dame Football Season.  It IS Irish Cream.

That is, until now.

Entering the arena is Saint Brendan’s – a relatively low cost ($15-$18) substitute that I think is actually a better product to the competition.

St BrendanThe brand takes it’s name from Saint Brendan of Clonfert (or Bréanainn of Clonfert)- an Irish Saint who was sometimes known as "the Navigator", "the Voyager", or "the Bold", one of the early Irish monastic saints and considered to be one of  the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. 

Not only do they take the name from an Irish Saint, but their focus is using primarily Irish ingredients.  It is one of these ingredients that I believe makes the difference with St. Brendan’s.

With Baileys, most of the alcohol is produced from a bacterial fermentation of whey. The alcohol - referred to as 'spirits' on the company website - and cream, together with some whiskey are homogenized to form an emulsion, with the aid of an emulsifier containing refined vegetable oil. This process prevents separation of the alcohol and cream during storage. 

SAM_0652While I am sure that Saint Brendan’s uses a similar process, I think it is the quality of ingredients that makes the difference.  A major clue to that quality can be found on the company website -

Our triple distilled Irish whiskey is crafted just steps from the Giant's Causeway on the northern coast of Ireland in the world's oldest distillery.

Without a doubt, this is the Old Bushmill’s distillery.  As someone who has toured this distillery, witnessed the production and sampled more than my fair share…..this to me is 100% why I enjoyed this Irish Cream and I also believes it adds its own unique tastes. 

Another interesting side note – Bushmills is owned by the same holding company (Diageo) as Baileys.  So I guess Diageo is hedging it’s bets.

Color- A light almond

Nose- To say “It smells like Baileys” would be a cop out .  I found it more complex, with Mocha, Chocolate, Honey and sweet cream.

Taste- From the initial creamy texture, you get a front end of sweetness that flows into the mild Irish Whisky base.  The whisky is not overwhelming, and this is what (IMO) could be alluring to women and non-drinkers.  Hazelnut, Chocolate and hints of roasted Coffee round out the balanced profile.

Finish-Smooth and a little viscous, there was no alcohol aftertaste, but instead it reminded me of drinking a latte.

Overall- What can I say.  I was surprised.  When I initially picked up this bottle, I thought it was going to be just a cheap Baileys knock off (especially considering the price).  Little did I realize I was going to get a solid contender that I believe unseats Baileys as the king of Irish Cream.  

Excellent excellent product.  Solid 4 Stars.

Sláinte -

When Twitter Attacks

I love this story.

Not because someone used social media to criticize a service/establishment, I do that all the time and think that is turning into standard practice, but of the the woman's final tweet saying-

“she exited the restaurant "in tears after the GM called up and asked the bartender to hand me the phone.”

Hey people, there ARE consequences to saying negative things.  In the immortal words of Spiderman – With Great Power comes Great Responsibility. 

I say some negative things all the time (just read yesterday’s Bloody Mary Mix review), but I also will stand by it and accept any consequences.  Hell, I might have even been threatened.

Grow some thick skin lady….its not worth crying about.

BTW, you can follow us on Twitter @Smokesandbooze


Insulting Restaurant Staff On Twitter While You're Still In The Restaurant Might Get You Kicked Out Of Restaurant

Think of this as the counter-point to the earlier Twitter-related post. A diner at a Houston restaurant was given the boot after she decided to Tweet her opinion of the staff while she was still at the eatery.

According to the restaurant's owner, a manager was checking out Twitter from home when he saw a Tweet from the customer calling the establishment's bartender a "twerp." The Houston Press reports that she also used the hashtag #jackoff in her since-deleted Tweet. The manager called the restaurant to speak to the diner and then told her to leave.

"Any business is allowed to set the tone of their establishment," explains the restaurant's owner to KPRC-TV. "If you go to someone's house and start calling them names, I wouldn't really expect to stay too much longer after that."

The booted diner took to Twitter once more as she was leaving, saying she exited the restaurant "in tears after the GM called up and asked the bartender to hand me the phone. He proceeded to curse at me and ask me to leave."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Worst Product of the Year?

Not very often do I go on a tirade.  Well, ok….sometimes I do.  Today is one of those days.

Remember back when you were a little kid?  The world was full of  wonder, magic was real and nobody was tougher than your Dad.

Remember going through comic books and seeing the ads that promised never ending fun – Boxes of Army men, 12' Weather Balloons, Charles Atlas.  It all seemed so real. 

Remember Sea-Monkeys?

sea monkies

I sure do. 

I also remember the disappointment of learning they were brine shrimp, that they didn’t really have crown heads and smile, and that the only thing they were good for was to feed Dad’s fish.  What a waste.

Flash forward to Debi and I going to Vegas a few years ago.  The hotel we stayed at had a great Bloody Mary bar, that she brought me drinks out of.  She went to great lengths to find the perfect one for me, you could put together any imaginable combination, and the one I liked best was made with Wasabi.  I love my wife.

Now, as many of you know….I like flavors –Hops, Peat, Burn – they all are what I strive for.  From drinking Prairie Fires with Glenn way back in the 80s to laying on the spicy when I go for Chinese.  That is the way I roll. 

Flash forward to present day (just past the good Bloody Mary bar at the Rams game), and this review.

Modmix Wasabi Bloody Mary Mix


I really don’t know where to go with this review other than to say this product sucked.  I’m again taken back to my childhood, when Wendy’s ran the “Where's the Beef?” commercial.

Where’s the Wasabi? 

The company’s own website says “a snap of real Japanese Wasabi”, but I didn’t get it.  I honestly thought I was drinking stale V8.  Actually, stale V8 tastes better.  

A thick mess that lacked any flavor or “Zing”, I really thought my palette was off.

I gave James a sip (of just the mix, no alcohol added) and he said “Tastes like weak Tomato Juice”.  When an 9 year old thinks your mix is weak….its time for ModMix to  think of a new profession.

I won’t go into much more here.  I won’t divulge the Vodka I was using, as I don’t want to sully their name or associate it here.

I will admit that I tried mixing two separate drinks, and both were horrible….so much so that I poured the 2nd out and didn’t finish it.  For people that know me….they know that is a testament in it’s own right.

I could rip this product apart on so many levels, but I won’t….because that would require me to drink more of it.  Instead, suffice it to say – Weakest “Spicy” Mixer ever, ZERO Stars and currently the leading candidate for Worst Product of the Year.

I realize that there will be people that love this mixer, but if you want my opinion -Avoid at all costs, go with Major Peters or the Tabasco Mixers instead.

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