Inhuman Swill : Alcohol
            

In a message exchange a few months ago, a friend and former colleague from my missionary days reminded me of a funny story from 1988 involving the elder who was then my companion.

I didn't immediately recall the incident, but then when I was rooting around the other day in a very old draft of my memoir The Accidental Terrorist, I found that I'd remembered it well enough a dozen years ago or more to include it.

Here's that deleted excerpt. My friend who reminded me of the incident is the "Sister Evans" who appears below, by the way, and the Word of Wisdom is the strict Mormon commandment against using alcohol or coffee.


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Today is the 200th anniversary of the London Beer Flood. I'd tell you all about, but Kyle Thiessen explains it far better than I ever could (and the Boston Molasses Flood too) in his Fake Month at the Museum series:

So wherever you are, raise a glass today to the empire where the suds never set!

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Don't bully my seer!

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5 November 2013, Chicago, IL

Dear Overlords at Munster Taverns:

Let me preface this email by saying that Lady Gregory's is one of my favorite places in the world.

This afternoon I ordered a Daisy Cutter with my burger. When my beer was close to the bottom, my server Jose offered to bring me another. I gladly accepted.

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Le mot juiced

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I read the following essay, which appears in somewhat different form in the epilogue to The Accidental Terrorist, in the Essay Fiesta series at The Book Cellar in Chicago, on December 21, 2009.

There is no worse feeling than, five minutes after some unpleasant confrontation has left you tongue-tied, humiliated and confused, smacking yourself on the forehead and exclaiming, "Oh, my God! That's what I should have said!"

This is not that kind of a story. This is the story of how I once delivered the perfect rejoinder, in the moment, when it counted. I tell it not to demonstrate how smart, suave, or clever I am, but because it so rarely happens that way with me. In fact, this may be the only story of its kind I have.

This happened in December 2003, at a Christmas party my wife Laura and I threw at our apartment in Queens, New York. Our parties, if I do say so, were legendary, always with an interesting mix of people, and always with good booze, and plenty of it.

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Tasting notes

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Half Acre
Malt
Caramel
Subtle peppery undertone

Juniper
Crisp pine
Grapefruit aroma

Chocolate
Mellow hops
Rich toffee notes
Freshly baked biscuits

Clean desert aroma
Citrus weed
Tangy cactus spine
Horse blanket

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Whether you'd like to join today's Unofficial Worldcon Pub Crawl in Chicago from the start, or want to meet up with us somewhere along the route, here's the revised itinerary I've come up. It involves three train rides and only two cab rides, and gets us all over the North Side to some great brewpubs and beer bars:

11:00 am: Group meets at front entrance of Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr.

Transit: Walk to CTA Blue Line at Clark/Lake, ride (in direction of O'Hare) to California stop

11:30 am: Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.

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The Quiet American: a cocktail

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A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jeff Lang sent me a link to Studio 360's listener cocktail challenge—create a cocktail inspired by and named after a classic work of literature.

I wanted to give it a try, but I wasn't able to work on it before the August 12th deadline. Last night I had some spare time, though, so I cobbled together a drink I'm calling the Quiet American. I combined 1.5 oz. of Laird's Applejack, 0.75 oz. of Créole Shrubb liqueur, and 1.5 oz. of blood orange martini mix (blood orange, key lime and cane sugar), stirred with ice, and strained.

The result was not bad—sweet and orange-y with a slightly bitter undertaste. It gets that name because of the distinctly American spirit (the applejack) getting all into the poor tropical country's business (in this case, Martinique). Of course, it was Vietnam in the novel, so my cocktail inhabits the entirely wrong part of the world, but hey, it was the best I could do.

Laura thought it needed more of something tart, like lime juice or a twist. I'll keep meddling with it, like a good American.

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RAGBRAI Recap: The Legacy

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Hmm, what could we possibly make tonight...?
[ continued from yesterday ]

Laura loves my Manhattans. I make them in the proper, original fashion, with rye and not bourbon. I always keep a bottle of Templeton rye on hand (though Bulleit rye is a fine choice too), along with Dolin sweet vermouth, Peychaud's bitters and Luxardo cherries. I make a damn fine Manhattan, if I do say so.

Laura wasn't always a fan of the brown-liquor cocktail. I'd been drinking Manhattans and old-fashioneds for a few years but never managed to infect her with a taste for them. But then our friend Scott Smith foisted one of his Manhattans on her, and it was all over. The primacy of the Templeton Manhattan was cemented when we attended a documentary about the distillery's history at Mayne Stage in Chicago.

Like I say, I always keep these ingredients on hand. Always. So when Laura texted me last Thursday afternoon to ask Will you make me a manhattan tonight?, my response was an automatic Hell yes.

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Smoke

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Smoke
I make it my general practice
not to drink and write.
At least, I try not to drink
when writing fiction,
where the prose should be clear
and lucid as water,
even as it refracts the light.

But poetry's a different matter.
A little whisky never
hurt a poem. Not much, anyway.
Certainly not this
glass of it, distilled from smoke
that might have
scribbled words like these in
the air as it
jittered away, leaving only this
amber residue,
not so transparent as it appears.

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And a brine chaser, please

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While Laura and I were in New York City about a month ago, we were introduced to a drink called the "pickle back"—a shot of Irish whiskey followed by a pickle-brine chaser. Yes, I was dubious too, but it was the best new drink I'd tasted in ages. Of course, the pickle juice needs to be of high quality. You can't just use the liquid from a bottle of Vlasic dill chips.

We first experienced the pickle back at Sweet Afton in Queens ([info]ecmyers was there!), so imagine our surprise when at Whiskey Tavern in Chinatown the next evening we found two varieties of pickle back on the menu! It's apparently a growing trend in bars in the know, as detailed in this New York Post article:

Give Pickle Juice a Shot

Time to invest in cucumber futures?

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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