An ‘Ordinary’ Test

I recently discovered that in terms of my own personal liquor tastes, I am a ‘connoisseur of the ordinary.’

When I walk into a bar, my personal liquor preference list is this: bourbon, scotch, rye, vodka, red wine, white wine, beer. And although I could drink bourbon with every meal, I traditionally pair certain foods with certain liquors. Red wines with steaks and Italian food, white wines with fish and chicken, rye or bourbon with sandwiches and burgers, and beer with pizza. Scotch I usually drink by itself, with a cigar or as a dessert.

But whatever the drink, when it comes to my liquors of choice, I’m not usually a top shelf kind’a guy. My taste palette favors blends over single barrel drinks. I can appreciate a good single-malt scotch or one-barrel whiskey, but I always revert back to my ‘everyman’ blends. It appears that my taste buds are about as sophisticated as reality TV. In the immortal words of Popeye, “I yam what I yam!” I’ve long ago given up trying to appease the upscale opinions of those who love looking down on us poor, working class stiffs—with our common-place tastes and our bargain basement choices. You can enjoy your French Champagne pinky-up with the rest of the guests, and I’ll have my shot and a beer with the bar staff and servers.

Recently, I decided to run a personal taste test, to see if I really do prefer cheap liquor over “the good stuff.”

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Horror Movies, Here We Come: Halloween Popcorn and Cocktail

With Halloween falling in the middle of the week this year, and a Frankenstorm a-brewing, it’s definitely time for a classic horror movie fest. You’ll need Kubrick’s The Shining, Spielberg’s Jaws, and any Hitchcock film—plus a big bowl of popcorn and some frightfully delicious cocktails to get into the spooky spirit.

Our take on an espresso martini is inspired by the delicious version we order at Lucca on Hanover Street in Boston. It’s a combination of vodka, espresso, slightly sweet Kahlua and a splash of velvety Baileys Irish Cream. While sipping the eerily dark libation, we nibble on decadent sweet and salty popcorn that incorporates two of our favorite guilty pleasures: peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. The combination of the nutty, sticky sweet crunch of the popcorn with the exhilarating zing of the drink is the ideal combination for any movie gathering, especially on a chilly weeknight.

Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Fluff Popcorn

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Wine Enemas…They’ll Get You in the End

Oh those crazy college kids! What will they do next? Being that I’m a fan of most things alcohol related, I recently came across an article about a college student that was partaking in a little nontraditional wine tasting. That is, he decided that chugging it would take too much time to create a buzz, so he somehow reasoned that it would be better to go in through the out door. This way of introducing alcohol into the bloodstream is faster and consequently more dangerous than sipping it the old fashioned way. He was in fact, brought into the hospital with a 0.40 blood alcohol limit, which is lethal in most cases.

There have been times in the past where I’ve wanted to get a little ‘loose,’ and I’ve partaken in the time-honored method of consuming shots of alcohol in various formats: Jell-o shots, body shots, flaming shots…but never have I thought of applying this technique through my rectum. Call me old fashioned, but I rather like the taste of most liquors, so it seems that bypassing the tongue while introducing it into the bloodstream is cheating me out of a great deal of pleasure.

I’m hoping that this is an isolated incident and that the trend doesn’t catch on, particularly with wine. Wine tastings could become very messy, and the rating categories would change dramatically. ‘Back taste’ would take on a whole other meaning and the serving temperature would have to be a major consideration. Some champagnes and sparkling wine would take your breath away upon introduction and certainly wouldn’t appeal to the ticklish.

I know I’m showing my age here, but shot-gunning a beer or pouring it through a funnel seemed a pretty quick way of creating a buzz when I was in college. Maybe I’m lame but getting drunk by pouring junk-in-your-trunk seems a bit extreme. Food and drink should be pleasurable, relaxed experiences shared amongst family and friends. I hate to hurry through a great steak or rush a lightly iced scotch, so the appeal of getting super blitzed in less time makes as much sense as wanting to get full after one bite.

A word of caution to all my back-door buzz seekers; the main technique used to create a great wine is the same one used to create a great time, and that is control.

Lose it, and it could bite you in the ass.

Cocktail O’Clock: Spiked Coconuts

Sitting in the sand, we sipped our spiked coconuts while sampling grilled mussels, pulled pork tacos, and assorted kebabs, and taking in the vast ocean views. Yep, coconut is yet another food that’s even better with booze.

The best thing about this beverage is that it’s beach-friendly: it can rest upright in the sand without tipping or getting sandy inside. Also, even if you’re not at the beach, one strawful of the subtly sweet spiked juice transplants you to a coastal town on the South Atlantic Ocean.


Using a small drill bit or screwdriver, punch a hole through the exterior of the coconut until you reach the center. Insert a small funnel into the hole and pour 1 shot of vodka inside. Cap with a small cork or whittled piece of wood, and refrigerate. The longer you let the coconuts steep, the stronger!

Endless Poptails: Orange Creamsicles

Competing against the fruit based poptails this week is an ice cream based poptail. Remember those orange creamsicles when you were a kid–bright sugar glowing orange on the outside and ice cream on the inside around the stick?

I’m here this week to bring back that bit of nostalgia with an adult twist, but without any adult complication.

In staying that with that theme, I skipped the sheathing or any swirling or layering finishing effect for a 1 bowl, 3 ingredient, simple-style poptail. That’s right I threw the chopped up Valencia oranges, vanilla ice cream and Marshmallow vodka all into a food processor bowl and pulse, whirl, pour – done. It’s spot on like the orange creamsicle but with a heavy hint of booziness.

Parting note: Forget the napkins, popsicle drips are best wiped away by using the front of your shirt -just ask any kid.

Orange Creamsicle Poptails

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Cocktail O’Clock: Blue Moon Brunch Punch

Ever hear of brunch punch? I didn’t until we visited my college friend in Baltimore. In preparation for a day of beveraging at the Preakness, she made us a brunch punch. This punch consisted of a mix of orange-pineapple juice, Malibu, and champagne. It was refreshing, while also giving you a bit of a buzz to start off your morning.

At the beach this past weekend, I decided to make my own version of brunch punch with one of my favorite beverages—beer. The result: positive reviews and an empty pitcher of my Blue Moon brunch punch.

At first I served the brunch punch with just the orange-pineapple juice, champagne, and vodka. But I realized we had Blue Moon in the fridge, and added that to the mix. Blue Moon particularly complements these flavors because of its citrus undertones and sweet taste. The punch actually tastes better with the beer—and I wasn’t the only one that thought such. Why didn’t I think to put this on the list?!

Blue Moon Brunch Punch

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Cocktail O’Clock: Mango Ginger Margarita

We were on our third day of sightseeing benders in the world of rodent amusement parks when we ventured to “Tomorrow Land”—you know the one, with the gigantic golf-ball housing the “ride of tomorrow” that ends in some California garage? Unfortunately, the early 80’s tech-savvy scene failed to amuse our five-year-old tech genius. Nothing offered here could compete with our PS3 at home, so he decided to take his boredom out on the rest of us. Purely in the interest of self-preservation, I stumbled upon a stand selling mango-ginger-margaritas in China-land. My wife and I enjoyed 3 of these magical libations. (Yes. That’s 3 each.) I recreated these serenity slushies at home with positive results.

Mango Ginger Margarita

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