To be a properly cultured member of society, it is imperative that you at least tolerate, if not love sport. Whether it be polo or soccer, baseball or boxing, it should be on the agenda of everyone to have a passing knowledge of the primaryentertainment genre in the world. You can’t go to a party and overhear a discussion about baseball, and decide to participate by commenting that the Brooklyn Dodgers are your favorite team. It is entirely possible that the crowd will give you an approving nod, if they take it to mean that you’re a lover of the classics (afterall, what member of the sophisticated elite is not?), but it is more likely that they will take it to mean that you haven’t paid attention to sports in 50 years (the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958). Therefore, I will assume it’s obvious that you understand this, and have also noticed that there is an integral link between sports and alcohol…
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The title is a bit of a misnomer; Not all bars were closed, and the ones that were, were not closed ALL weekend. Just last night, Sunday. Allow me to begin from the beginning, as these stories often require. In my line of work (tour guide), I have the brilliant luxury and opportunity to take customers to places that I, and popular vote from past customers, deem to be the best bars in town. These are places that do not charge a cover, do not have ridiculously expensive drinks, and do not have a crowd that is prone to violence, unlike a couple of other unnamed hot spots in the vicinity. They DO have quick service, quality bartenders, friendly prices, and creative atmospheres. One is on the upper- most fire escape of one of the tallest buildings in town, another is set inside of an old bank, with the lounge area inside of the vault, while a third is below ground and looks like the beer cellar of a Belgian Abby. There are several others ranging from an Irish Pub to a dive-bar that frequently has Chubby Checkers playing on the juke-box.
A new study suggests that certain compounds in cannabis (Marijuana) may actually protect the human brain from damages caused by alcohol-induced toxicity. This new data comes from a clinical trial published in the online journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology.
According to a press release at the website eNews Park Forest, investigators at the University of California at San Diego examined effects to portions of the brain consisting of white matter in adolescents with histories of binge drinking and marijuana use. The results of the observation yielded some fascinating, though somewhat unexpected results: though young males who consumed five or more drinks in one sitting, as well as girls who consumed four or more drinks under similar circumstances, showed signs of white matter damage in eight separate regions of the brain, those who incorporated marijuana use fared better, with less damage in seven out of the eight brain regions examined. This suggests the possibility that marijuana “may have some neuroprotective properties in mitigating alcohol-related oxidative stress or excitotoxic cell death,” the report concludes.
I have always wondered, among all the different kinds of spirits available, how gin came to be a liquor unto itself. Think about it; how exactly does a neutral spirit flavored with berries that taste similar to pine needles become its own staple spirit? It seems mystifying… and I don’t say this as a criticism, since I happen to be a fan of the finer gins myself (in fact, if I go into a bar and order a martini, I expect it to be made with gin unless I specifically order vodka. Such circumstances have led to my utter disappointment a few times in the past).
However, although most often compared to vodka, there is a fairly recent development in the world of next-to-neutral spirits that I can’t help but compare to gin: VeeV. This isn’t a name for a new kind of liquor so much as it is a vodka-like neutral spirit flavored with Brazillian Acai berries (this is pronounced ah-sah-ee, almost like the Japanese beer Asahi, renowned for its dry flavor). VeeV opts to use these rather than juniper berries like typical gin, and much like nicer vodkas, organic winter wheat grain is the other base for this spirit.
The Azorean martini is a specialty drink that combines a staunch blend of passion-fruit liqueur and vodka, famously served as the signature drink at the Azorean Bar & Grille in Gloucester, MA. However, recently the cocktail has been removed from the menu, along with all other mixed drinks that call for ice, after a recent water contamination problem forced the Azorean to close limit their services for the fifth straight day.
Aside from spirits used to make such concoctions, ice is one of the make-or-break staples included with most mixed drinks. However, when water and ice become targets for concern over contaminates, a great cocktail can easily be destroyed… or worse yet, removed from menus, as was the case with the Azorean. Although the Azorean Bar and Grill had no way of controlling what would happen to a city-wide water supply, this story nonetheless calls into question ways that ingredients and tools used to make mixed drinks can be easily contaminated by things that render them unservable.
A recent study performed by researchers at several universities including UCLA and Johns Hopkins has found a frightening new correlation between alcohol advertising and target demographics which could only be assumed to be young viewers… and thus potential underage drinkers.
By using advertising industry data from Nielsen Media Research, researchers examined more than 608,000 national cable alcohol ads aired between the years 2001 and 2006. These ads, fortunately, were aired primarily before audiences with fewer than 30 percent between the ages of 12 and 20. However, there were few of the funny coincidences, as noted by a story featured at the Fox News website:
CLAY COUNTY, NC: With hopes for finding ways to make money in tight times, former music professor and Presbyterian minister Bert Wiley sides with a majority of voters in a referendum this week that would allow the sale of beer, wine, and spirits in the formerly dry NC county. Wiley says this is necessary, in spite of the fact that he’s never had a drink in his life.
“The county needed the revenue,” Wiley told the Asheville Citizen Times. “I know the disagreement on this. But this situation is not a moral issue. It is a financial issue.
Wiley also says “the people who wanted to have alcohol in the county were not trying to convince people to drink. They wanted it available in the county.” As a Western North Carolina resident, I must say that I make an effort to discuss this with several ABC store owners and other spirit vendors. Michael Dyer, manager of the Black Mountain liquor store in Black Mountain, NC, says that overall sales have been good this year, with sales at the beginning of the year overtaking previous records that coincided with New Year celebrations. Similarly, employees at the Tunnel Road ABC store in Asheville, NC, recently told Culture of Spirits that “sales are good. Of course, the liquor business is hardly ever bad.”
I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our newest contributing editor here at CULTURE OF SPIRITS, my good friend Christopher McCollum. He’ll be aiding in efforts to keep the cultural elite well-informed, as well as helping keep another foot down against prevailing nastiness like Prohibition and the like.
Welcome Chris! For editorial queries, he can be reached at email@example.com.
Due to the way that heat from one’s hands can tend to melt ice in an otherwise splendid cocktail, thus dilluting the spirits within, it is commonly held that ice shouldn’t be introduced to a serving of fine Scotch whisky. Instead, it is widely recommended that mixologists opt to serve it “neat”. However, the Macallan Company (makers of the Scotch of the same name) are now offering a device which creates a perfectly round ice ball, which by itself can add its frosty element to your quality spirit, without compromising the age and flavor. But how exactly does a round ball of ice cool your drink more effectively than a regular ice cube?
By virtue of its pleasant round shape, a ball of ice not only floats conveniently in the center of your beverage, but it also has less surface space capable of being in close proximity to the edges of the glass, where heat from one’s hand can collect. Macallan’s ice-maker can be viewed by following this link.
Australian news sources are reporting a perceived decline in alcohol purchases, with experts now urging politicians to support the Australian federal Government’s “Alcopops tax”. This tax, part of a strategy which adds a 70 percent tax hike on ready-to-drink products, was intended to curb binge-drinking by young drinkers.
After being implemented, the tax does appear to have caused pre-mixed drink sales to fall as much as 26 percent; but could the information be skewed?
Alcopop refers to bottled mixed-drink malt or wine beverages, and is a general term which describes a variety of brands and beverages. However, the spirits industry does not condone the use of the term, fearing that obvious associations between “alcohol” and “(soda) pop” may bring negative press for being attractive to individuals below the legal drinking age.