Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’
Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Recently, my good friend Miguel who posts frequently at the Daily Grail blog shared this unique story about the ancient Egyptian sun-god Ra, and how in a strange Frankenstein-like “I’ve created a monster” scenario, he brewed a batch of red beer to calm a furious deity of his own making:
“It’s interesting that just yesterday I was finishing one of Darklore III’s essays, in which Robert Schoch tells one legend concerning Hathor, an Egyptian goddess sent to Earth by the sun god Ra to punish mankind for not paying him enough respect; she enjoys her slaying job so much that Ra then fears she will end up killing all of mankind; so he decides to prepare a red-colored ale and leave it in a field where Hathor would pass nearby. Mistaking the beer for blood Hathor drinks it and gets so drunk that she stops killing men; thus mankind was saved by beer!”
An interesting legend that, as is often the case, illustrates how ancient societies seemed to liken beer and spirits to being next to godliness. Strange that so many religions now look down on alcohol use, particularly here in parts of the US. A surprising fact: The pilgrims that landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts actually carried more beer with them than water, since beer spoiled less easily, and could be carried along with them on their voyage across the Atlantic.
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
Culture of Spirits author Chris McCollum and I have recently been visiting a host of fall-themed beer tastings, which include samplings of a variety of popular pumpkin ales and Octoberfest brews. Several times while visiting one of our favorite local brewery supply stores, Hops and Vines in Asheville, North Carolina, Chris and I had begun to notice the variety of craft breweries that feature paranormal themes on their labels.
Indeed, one of my favorite beers of all time is the seasonal Bigfoot Barleywine brewed by the Sierra Nevada Company in Chico, California (see image at right). However, on closer inspection, a sizable (and surprising) number of other brands carry imagery ranging from UFOs, Ghosts, and cryptozoological mysteries, to famous mystics like Rasputin, Nostradamus, and several other odd themes.
Therefore, just in time for Halloween, Culture of Spirits presents to you a list of some of our very favorite beers featuring strange, occult, or paranormal themes.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
It’s late summer, and in spite of the tropical environment here on the Isle of Palms in sunny South Carolina, Daiquiris have begun to finally lose a bit of their zest. I’ve spent the last several days indulging in the semi-sweet citrus concoctions, mixed with a healthy diet of jogging twice a day on the Atlantic shoreline, swimming during the hotter parts of the day. Leading such an unaffected lifestyle, cool cocktails comprise the later portions of most weekdays; thus, in a mild state of desperation, I decided to try and spice-up my beverages before fall arrived (and without having to resort to purchasing spiced rum). An attempt to do so led me to an almost forgotten aspect of mixology in my own extensive repertoire, resulting in both a tasty–and semi-historically accurate–mixed drink capable of ending most any business day with a light (sweet) kick: the Cuba Libre.
According to fairly recent legend, “¡Por Cuba Libre!” was the battle cry of the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence, which ended in 1878. An infamous collision involving the United States and Spain, the Spanish-American War, upon ending, provided a window by which Teddy Roosevelt and his “Rough Riders” could land for a brief excursion in Cuba. Most proponents of Daiquiri and Rum-and Cokes cite that one hot afternoon, a group of off-duty soldiers from the U.S. Signal Corps met in a bar in Old Havana. A young messenger by the name of Fausto Rodriguez would later recall how a captain came in and ordered Bacardi Gold blended with Coca-Cola (keep in mind, this soft drink wasn’t introduced to Cuba until 1900) on ice with a wedge of lime. The captain was said to have “drank the concoction with such pleasure that it sparked the interest of the soldiers around him.” Thus, the onlookers urged the bartender to mix a round of the captain’s new-found pleasure for them, too. “The Bacardi rum and Coke was an instant hit,” states the Bacardi website, and in honor of their recent battle cry, “¡Por Cuba Libre!”, the beverage was named thusly.
Friday, September 11th, 2009
Last night while visiting a friend out in the boonies of Etowah, North Carolina, COS writer Christopher McCollum and I managed to catch up with our good friend Bob from the Netherlands. In addition to sharing many of our favorite vices of the alcoholic variety, Bob brought with him a variety of delicious Gouda cheeses, sausages, and candies, which provided the perfect victuals to enjoy along with the spirits we were sharing.
While Chris and I enjoyed our bourbon neat (reveling in the honey brown sweetness of the aged Kentucky whiskey), Bob sliced up a delicious cold Fijre Cervelaat sausage. It was a bit fatty, but in small quantities makes for a delightful treat, and complimented the bourbon very well. Before we had time to finish the delicious meats, Bob had brought out of the refrigerator two varieties of Gouda cheese: a Holland extra-belegen, as well as a variety infused with Kaas seeds, which provided a unique herby-flavor unlike much anything western audiences are used to. As the conversation drifted from our recent penchant for Campari here at Culture of Spirits, we began to discuss yet another clandestine European liqueur: Benedictine.
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
That’s right, Big Brother. Alcoholic indulgence is still a prolific issue in England, and now British doctors are calling for the removal of alcoholic advertisements from television. Sadly, in all likelihood this would do little to ebb the flow of spirits down young people’s throats.
“The move was necessary to challenge Britain’s dangerous drinking culture,” Associated Press reports said Tuesday. In a recent report, The British Medical Association makes the assertion that “a rapid increase in alcohol consumption among young Britons in recent years was being underpinned by ‘clever alcohol advertising’,” as well as the fact that a prohibition on alcohol-related publicity was needed to help turn the situation around.
Although the idea here is only to prohibit the appearance of advertisements (for now), red flags shoot up any time I see the “P word”. Removal of a company’s right to promote their product is a step in the right direction toward ultimately turning Britain into a dry country, although to jump to such conclusions at present may be a bit far off base. Nonetheless, when looking back at the history of Prohibition of alcohol in the United States, we are given some indications of ways that, socially, problems could get far worse if England ever does decide to tighten it’s grip on alcohol consumption.
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
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…
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
Political unrest has surged since the announcement that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, a man convicted of being part of a terrorist plot in 1988, would be released from prison by Scotland. Al Megrahi’s involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland more than two decades ago, caused the deaths of more than 250 people. Advanced prostate cancer is explained as the rational for his release, although Prime Minister Gordon Brown denies that London made a deal with Libya to set him free. Upon arriving in his homeland, Libyans gave Al Megrahi “a hero’s welcome”, infuriating Brown, as well as US President Barack Obama. The 1988 bombing is second only to the 2001 September 11th attacks among the most deadly airborne acts of terrorism.
Of the release, Stephanie Bernstein, widow of crash victim Michael Bernstein, openly criticized the decision to release Al Megrahi, saying “It will be seen as weakness, because that’s precisely what it was.” Among the public discourse resulting from Al Megradi’s release, websites like boycottscotland.com and several others are calling for the boycotting of Scottish industry, including Scotch spirits, as indicated by memos such as this:
The government of Scotland has officially freed the terrorist al-Megrahi to return to Libya, according to the latest AP news report. Americans need to respond to this outrageous miscarriage of justice and betrayal of the victims’ families, who were mostly fellow Americans, by refusing to spend their tourist dollars in Scotland and avoiding any kind of business there. Boycotting is the only way to send a clear and direct message to both the Scottish and British governments that Americans will not tolerate such a flagrant betrayal.
Monday, August 31st, 2009
Although recent statistics reveal that alcohol-related hospital admissions are on the rise in the UK, a very interesting (if not seemingly counter-intuitive) bit of information has been making the rounds today here in the states. An article released by the Health Behavior News Service suggests that drinkers are more likely to be getting regular exercise.
The information stems from a new study appearing in the American Journal of Health Promotion, where lead researcher Michael French, Ph.D shares the following: “Alcohol users not only exercised more than abstainers, but the differential actually increased with more drinking.” French also states that “there is a strong association between all levels of drinking and both moderate and vigorous physical activity.” However, he warns that these results don’t suggest that people “should use alcohol to boost their exercise programs, as the study was not designed to determine whether alcohol intake actually caused an increase in exercise.”
Monday, August 31st, 2009
A study featured in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry has found surprising new links between memory loss suffered by Alzheimer’s disease patients and alcohol consumption. The article, titled “Alcohol Consumption as a Risk Factor for Dementia and Cognitive Decline: Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies” describes how the relationships between alcohol consumption, dementia and cognitive decline were investigated in a systematic review that included the combined results of 15 prospective studies.
The study found that in moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages (compared with abstainers), male drinkers reduced their risk for dementia by 45 percent, and women by 27 percent. This information was gathered from 14,646 participants who were evaluated for Alzheimer disease, 10,225 participants evaluated for vascular dementia, and 11,875 who were evaluated for various other kinds of dementia.
Sunday, August 30th, 2009
Over at the Everyday Drinkers website, Derrick Schommer has posted an excellent review of a variety of classy absinthe “dripping spoons” now available:
Beautiful Absinthe Spoons
“This article is getting a good amount of attention for such a simple topic,” Derrick told Culture of Spirits. “I’ve had a few people write me to thank me for the article (including those that sell the spoons and those that drink absinthe regularly).” Indeed, absinthe spoons are one of the unique accessories that make the proper serving of this potent spirit a pleasure to watch, a process which became popular during Victorian times. Famously known by its alter-ego, “The Green Fairy”, absinthe is known for having a bit of a “kick” due to its high alcoholic content (as much as 75% ABV). Typically flavored with anise, the spirit is created with a blend of herbs, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium, more widely known as “grande wormwood”.
Having only recently been legalized for sale again in the United States, there exist a few local variants, particularly in the Appalachian Mountains (i.e. “bathtub absinthe”) which some have begun calling “The Green Goblin” for its unusual bite and bitter aftertaste. Frequent consumption is not recommended.