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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the Irish Way: Get Drunk!

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Saint Patrick’s Day is an outrageous celebration of my Irish heritage. On that day adult Americans of all ethnic backgrounds feel free to wear green derby hats and shamrock necklaces, pack into bars and pubs to drink green beer and, if they’re really serious about celebrating the Irish way, end the day by vomiting and passing out in the gutter.

I’m offended by this, and it has to stop! Okay, just kidding. I don’t care a bit. The Irish are a fully integrated ethnic minority in America and St. Patrick’s Day is proof. You know your heritage is not an issue when you can poke fun at yourself.

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I don’t know how to make the Martin Luther King holiday as genuinely warm, funny, and celebratory as St. Patrick’s Day, but I’d like to try. Just last month a school system had to apologize for serving a lunch of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon on Martin Luther King Day. How sad that the African-American holiday commemorating such a great man is about grievances and not praise. Why shouldn’t we all celebrate Martin Luther King day with soul food, vibrant African designs and colors in our decorations and celebrations, and a sense of fun and gratitude?

I fear that instead of moving towards celebrating Martin Luther King Day as a positive affirmation of African-American heritage, we’re moving in the other direction. Columbus Day has come under such attack that this brave Italian hero and explorer is accused of genocide and celebrations in his honor are protested. The very word “Christmas” has been banned in some schools. How long before someone wants to ban St. Patrick’s Day?

May this never happen. Long may the green beer flow in the pubs of America on St. Patrick’s Day. May the green derby hats continue to be perched on the heads of all, may the Leprechaun decorations continue to be ridiculous and offensive, and may you always feel free to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

****

images courtesy Shutterstock: Patryk Kosmider

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What Your Booze Says About Your Politics

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 - by Stephen Green

booze

Yes, I know this has been making the rounds and, no, I’m not upset that the Washington Post is totally stealing my schtick. Although I have been getting a lot of questions along “as a vodka drinker, are you offended to be lumped in with all the lefties?”

It’s true that I am a vodka drinker. It’s also true that I’m no lefty. But I also enjoy scotch — a lot. And I’ve spent the last couple years really honing my appreciation for bourbon. Summer afternoons are most often filled with proper gin martinis or gin & tonics. I sip fine tequila on the beach and I make a mean margarita here at Casa Verde on Friday nights. Weekend mornings often involve mimosas. I drink (and cook with) lots of red wines, but most often zins, cabs, and pinots. Colorado is home to many fine beers, which I also drink. Although recently I’ve been on a pilsner kick and so I’ve been buying stuff from Germany and the Czech Republic — new suggestions welcome, please!

So to paraphrase George Thorogood, I really really really really really really like booze.

When I launched VodkaPundit twelve years ago next Friday, the first name I thought of for it was “ScotchPundit” because scotch is what I used to drink more than anything else. But the name sounded too stuffy (or perhaps focused on Scotland), when what I wanted to imply was a certain insouciance.

And to my mind there is no cocktail more insouciant than a vodka martini. It lacks bourbon and scotch’s haughtiness, it doesn’t have gin’s herbal complexities, it won’t leave you naked in a dumpster like tequila. A vodka martini is light and airy, and bright with a twist of lemon. Brighter still with a twist of lime. It goes down easy and might even make you feel a little smarter, if only for a little while.

So, yes, VodkaPundit.

Just don’t try to put it on any chart.

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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To Champagne or To Not Champagne

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 - by C. Blake Powers
Champagne, Sparkling WInes, Oh My!

Champagne, Sparkling Wines, Oh My!

Ah, New Year’s Eve. A time to party, to celebrate the year that was, and a time to raise a toast for a better new year. Tradition calls for champagne, as this drink of royalty is associated with wealth, success, and other positive attributes.

Irony abounds in this, as the original goal for the wine makers of the Champagne region was to get rid of the bubbles that make modern champagne and sparkling wines the toast of the party.  They wanted to be like Burgundy.  Even the celebrated monk Dom Perignon spent his life trying to get rid of the bubbles that plagued his wine. Even as the French worked hard to eradicate them, the English developed a passion for the bubbly wine and it was because of that demand that the French royal courts came to embrace it.

The creation of the modern champagne industry is a study in materials and production science. The glass bottles used for traditional wines were not strong enough to withstand the pressures that built up inside. The idea of making the wine bubble, rather than trying to eliminate it, required a good deal of trial and error in the production process. Eventually, the modern “Methode Champenoise” was developed by Veuve Clicquot and adopted by all champagne producers.

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Drinking For A Good Cause

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Drinks

On the surface, the Original OKRA Charity Saloon may look like a typical bar, with patrons eating, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company. But the Houston bar is remarkably different in that its owners donate all of its profits to charitable organizations. Every month, four charities compete for the funds, and customers choose the winner.

By the end of the year, Original OKRA Charity Saloon will have donated about $300,000 to a dozen different charities – three times the owners’ expectations.

“It was a good year. It’s pretty amazing,” said Mike Criss, the bar’s general manager. “It’s just the community coming together.”

The charity saloon is one of several bars around the country using that business model as a way to give back. There are similar bars or concepts in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore.

[...]

The Oregon Public House, a similar bar in Portland, has also had success — donating more than $15,000 to charities in its first six months of operation.

“I believe in this model, not just for us but for my city, for our state, for our country,” said Ryan Saari, director of The Oregon Public House’s board. “I think there is a lot of good that could be done, stepping outside of the box a little bit in terms of how we support and fund our nonprofits.”

Proceeds from Original OKRA have benefited organizations for the homeless, as well as a group that reaches out to veterans. Owners and customers alike get to see the good they achieve right in their own communities – an idea that may spread to other cities.

Criss and Saari said they believe charity bars will be embraced by other communities. They’ve already received calls from people in Canada, England, France and India interested in the concept.

“We never thought it would be this big, where it is right now,” Criss said. “I’m still amazed.”

Bars that do good for their community? I’m sure plenty of people would drink to that.

*****

This post contains an image from ShutterStock.

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Hoist A Glass To The End of Prohibition

Thursday, December 5th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

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Remember, remember, the fifth of December (1933) and that even a bad constitutional amendment could be repealed.

So might it happen with all bad laws.

According to This Day In History:

…..Congress passed the Volstead Act on October 28, 1919, over President Woodrow Wilson‘s veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of Prohibition, including the creation of a special Prohibition unit of the Treasury Department. In its first six months, the unit destroyed thousands of illicit stills run by bootleggers. However, federal agents and police did little more than slow the flow of booze, and organized crime flourished in America. Large-scale bootleggers like Al Capone of Chicago built criminal empires out of illegal distribution efforts, and federal and state governments lost billions in tax revenue. In most urban areas, the individual consumption of alcohol was largely tolerated and drinkers gathered at “speakeasies,” the Prohibition-era term for saloons.

Prohibition, failing fully to enforce sobriety and costing billions, rapidly lost popular support in the early 1930s. In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, ending national Prohibition. After the repeal of the 18th Amendment, some states continued Prohibition by maintaining statewide temperance laws. Mississippi, the last dry state in the Union, ended Prohibition in 1966.

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A Pub Inspired by ‘Hobbitses’, Dragons, and Wizards

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner
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There’s a restaurant named after me? -Bilbo

Do you like beer? Are you excited for the release of the next part of The Hobbit?  Do you like spending evenings in cozy bars? If you said yes to any of these questions, then I suggest you head to Middle Earth-incarnate in Alexandria, VA.

Bilbo Baggins and the Green Dragon Pub. Yes, that is the name of the restaurant and its in-house bar.

Located in Old Town Alexandria, Bilbo Baggins Restaurant is the perfect mix of small-town charm and big city beer selection.

Bilbo Baggins prides itself on its tasty food and unique atmosphere, but its claim to fame is its extensive drink menu in its main-floor bar, the Green Dragon Pub. (The drink menu is 4 pages long in tiny, single-spaced font.)  With over 150 bottles of wine (32 offered by the glass), and 90 or so labels of beer available, The Green Dragon Pub holds up to its beer-soaked, fantasy namesake. Bottom line, Pippin would feel very comfortable here.

After you settle on a beer, peruse the menu. There’s enough meat to satisfy Gimli, salads for Legolas, and a pizza named after Gandalf. In more food-specific jargon, choices range from pasta to salmon and yellow-fin tuna, to salads and steak.  I also recommend the pizzas–Smaug’s Delight is a personal favorite.  (Yes, several of the menu items are named after characters from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.) Very “Hobbity,” I’d say!

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‘Don’t Tap Into Your Beer Money to Cover Those Medical Bills’

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Progressive politics are the combination of amorality, arrogance and plain old theft. Some Colorado progressives are running this ad, along with many similar ones, to promote Obamacare to young Colorado residents. Click to enlarge.

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The ad seems too idiotic to be real. But it’s real and it’s the product of Progress Now Colorado. PNCO says its mission is “to build and empower a permanent progressive majority, challenge and correct right-wing misinformation, and hold public leaders accountable.”

Apparently it’s “right-wing misinformation” that adult men should take care of their own lives.

In its ads, PNCO is promoting stupidity and thievery. “Be as irresponsible as you want,” the ad’s subtext tells young men. “Obamacare is there to bail you out with other people’s money.”

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The ads promote high-risk behavior.

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Yes, Phil Powers is a real guy and he actually climbs mountains. He’s happy that you and I are subsidizing his high-risk lifestyle. Progress Colorado is happy about that, too.

PNCO’s message should embarrass serious people, but it follows directly from then Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare boosterism, which boiled down to “Quit your job, do whatever you want, Obamacare will pay for it!

h/t Igor Volsky

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Bunkers, Trenches, and Calvados, Oh My!

Saturday, October 19th, 2013 - by C. Blake Powers
A view onto Omaha Beach

A view onto Omaha Beach

My travels around the world for and with things military are not all C-130s and MREs. In fact, quite a bit of it involves commercial travel and, since I do indeed have a passion for the good life, I make sure to make the most of the opportunities that come my way. Why eat the same old at a chain when you can eat and drink new things?While Normandy brings to mind D-Day to most Americans, in France Normandy is known for its food. The dairy products are legendary, and the butter eagerly sought by top restaurants in Paris and even here in the United States. It is also known for its apples, and the many products that come from them.

None may be more misunderstood in the U.S. than calvados, the apple brandy of Normandy. Before international trade became what it is today, it was not well known. Indeed, what I remember of it from my childhood was not very good, and in fact I have likened some of what I had to paint thinner.

There is indeed calvados that qualifies as paint thinner. It generally is only about a year old and is mostly used for cooking. As with traditional brandy, the more it ages the more rich and flavorful it becomes. While in Normandy this year, I had the occasion to tour two different distilleries and learn a good deal about this wonderful product.

For now, I would like to share with you this video tour of Chateau Breuil. There are a couple of missed cues at the start, but nothing important was lost. What you get is a better understanding of the process, and a tour that takes you back in time in terms of structures and storage. Enjoy!

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A Classy Tequila Experience (Yes, It Does Exist)

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

ElCentro

Ahh Tequila… both a curse and a blessing to stomaches everywhere.  This infamous liquor has a history as colorful as the stories that accompany nights of drinking it. Ha! Whether you’re new to tequila, or have a terrible history with it, I suggest that you give it another chance.

This week I am going to highlight a secret in D.C.–it’s not a secret that people don’t know about this restaurant/bar–but that many don’t bother to walk down into their Tequila-heaven basement. If you like adventure, good Mexican food, or broadening your liquour knowledge, I have just the place for you: El Centro D.F. in Washington, D.C.

But, before we launch into the details of this jewel, here is a brief history lesson on tequila:

  • Tequila was one of the first indigenous, distilled beverages in North America. After the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy they tried their hand at distilling the agave plant which grew plentifully in the blue volcanic soil of Mexico.
  • The name “tequila” actually comes from a town in western Mexico–where most of the blue agave plants grow.
  • By law, tequila is only allowed to be produced in certain parts of Mexico.
  • What’s with that worm in the bottle? Actually, only a few tequila come with the worm–a marketing gimmick that started in the 1940s.

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Waiter, There’s a Government in My Beer!

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Government officials -- proceed with care!  We had an entire revolution over tea!

Government officials — proceed with care! We had an entire revolution over tea!

Now this just turns this small-l libertarian into a raging uppercase Libertarian.

The shutdown theater has blocked our veterans from their monuments, allowed thuggish park rangers to terrorize visitors to Yellowstone, and even caused park rangers to block lanes of a highway to stop people from pulling over to look at Mount Rushmore.

But enough is enough and this is going too far!

According to the Washington Times:

The government agency in charge of approving new breweries, recipes and labels is on furlough, leaving in limbo the ability of suds-makers to get their brews on store shelves.

And that means beer connoisseurs who like to constantly try out new samples may have to make do with the presently approved stocks.

“My dream, this is six years in the making, is to open this brewery,” said Mike Brenner, a beer maker who was hoping to open his brewery business in Milwaukee by December, The Washington Post reported. But that’s all on hold because of the government shutdown — and the delay may cost him big, to the tune of about $8,000 each month.

“I can’t get started because people are fighting over this or that in Washington,” he said. “This is something people don’t mess around with. Even in a bad economy, people drink beer.”

The agency in charge of processing his application is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

In my more radical moments, I’ve been known to agitate for the abolition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (You only think that no good arguments can be made for that. And you can only think that if you believe that only the government saves us from individual larceny and dishonesty. And, as my colleague, fellow Baen author Michael Z. Williamson, is fond of saying, that name should belong to a convenience store, not a federal bureau.)

It’s not something we normally make a big point of, though, because it takes too long to explain.

But now they’ve gone too far. They’re delaying the beer!

I have two observations: government involvement in beer regulation is a bridge too far, and if you believe that government regulation of beer is essential, you certainly cannot consider it a non-essential service.

Either way, it’s time to get the government out of our beer!

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I’ll Have What the Gentlemen on the Floor is Having

Monday, September 30th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

wine glassSo this is a thing:

A new study from Iowa State and Cornell revealed that individuals who use a narrow glass and pour wine while keeping the glass on the table drank less, compared to those who used a wide glass and poured wine while holding the glass, Nature World News reported.

According to the researchers, it all has to do with the drinker’s perceptions of quantity.

“People have trouble assessing volumes,” said Laura Smarandescu, an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State. “They tend to focus more on the vertical than the horizontal measures. That’s why people tend to drink less when they drink from a narrow glass, because they think they’re drinking more.”

In reality then, the glass is neither half empty nor half full. It’s simply time to refill your drink.

(The engineer will tell you the glass is exactly twice the size it needs to be, but who the hell do they think they’re kidding?)

Salut.

******

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Michelle Obama Wants You to Drink Enough

Saturday, September 14th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Water or vodka?  You decide.  Michelle Obama will NEVER know!

Water or vodka? You decide. Michelle Obama will NEVER know!

With her husband stymied on the world stage and pivoting (yet again) to the economy, the first lady is once again passionately concerned with what you eat and drink.

First healthy eating, now healthy drinking. First lady Michelle Obama has teamed up with Hollywood star — and potato-chip promoter — Eva Longoria to push Americans to drink more water.

The pair is set to kick off the water-drinking push at a high school in the aptly named Watertown, Wisc., community on Thursday, The Hill reported. It’s the next step in Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to fight obesity rates around the nation and especially among America’s youth.

Fear not, dear ladies.  Given that even the best Scotch has some percentage of water, and given that reading the news these days is best done anesthetized, and given Michelle Obama’s indefatigable hectoring, I predict that by the end of the Obama presidency, I’ll be up to Stephen Green‘s levels of alcohol  er… water consumption.
Image courtesy shutterstock.com, © Aivolie

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I For One Welcome The Beer Drones!

Thursday, August 15th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Senator Rand Paul was overheard approving of a drone. This was a drone that delivered beer at an outdoor festival in South Africa.

The Washington Times notes that Senator Paul is noted for a 13 hour filibuster against the Nomination of John O. Brennan as CIA director while calling on the Obama administration to clarify whether it believed it had the right to use drones for killing US citizens.

However, after the South Africa delivery drone’s performance, the Kentucky Republican said on his Twitter page, “Perhaps I am not against ALL drones!”

Of course, Senator Paul is in the right, since there is no constitutional right to beer delivery by humans only — doubtless due to a tragic oversight of the founding fathers who failed to foresee the reign of our beer-delivering mechanical overlords — while there is a constitutional right to due process for US citizens and residents before being executed by the US government.

So go on and approve of beer-delivering drones, Senator Paul. While comely beer servers might be more pleasing, people are entitled to getting their beer any way they wish to.

It is rumored that Thomas Jefferson anguished over the Constitutional status of beer drones. (Okay, not really -- we're just picking on you.)

It is rumored that Thomas Jefferson anguished over the Constitutional status of beer drones. (Okay, not really — we’re just picking on you.)

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Does the Sleep Aid Zolpidem Impair Driving the Next Day?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 - by Theodore Dalrymple

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For most of my life I have had no difficulty in sleeping, rather in staying awake. But whether because of a physiological ageing process, or of a guilty conscience aware of a life of cumulative sin, I now experience periods of insomnia. Occasionally I do what I once swore as a young man never to do: I take sleeping tablets.

My favourite, to the exclusion of all others, is Zolpidem (Ambien). It does not leave me feeling groggy, as do other hypnotics, but rather as near to daisy-freshness as I ever feel early in the morning. Imagine my alarm, then, when I saw an article in a recent New England Journal of Medicine that suggested that the drug of my choice might make me a dangerous driver the following day.

Zolpidem is short-acting, which means that it is metabolised and cleared from the body quickly. Some people therefore find that they wake in the middle of the night when they have taken it (previous studies suggest that Zolpidem’s main advantage over placebo is in getting people off to sleep quickly). Having woken in the night, and finding difficulty in returning to sleep, some people are tempted to take more of the drug. Indeed, the manufacturers – the largest company listed on the French stock exchange – have thoughtfully manufactured a lower-dose pill for precisely this situation.

But simulated driving tests done on people after they have woken in the morning having taken Zolpidem demonstrate that they perform less well than people who have taken nothing. This is so even when people claim to feel no after-effects of the drug at all: in other words, they are not the best judges of whether or not they suffer such after-effects. The commonly-heard refrain, principally from middle-class hypochondriacs, that “I know my body” is not true in all, perhaps in many circumstances.

However, the article does not address certain important questions concerning the effect on Zolpidem on driving the following day. The first is that while Zolpidem may reduce performance on simulated driving tests, it is known that insomnia itself does likewise. So the question is not whether Zolpidem affects driving tests, but whether it affects driving tests among those who suffer from insomnia and who take it. In such circumstances, it is conceivable that it improves performance.

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How Robert Bork Defended The Original Martini

Friday, March 8th, 2013 - by Roger Kimball

Yesterday, a colleague passed along a request for some information about Robert H. Bork’s position on Martinis. Since Bob’s death in December, we have seen many reflections about his opinions regarding the law. Next week, Encounter Books, where I hang a hat, will be publishing Saving Justice: Watergate, the Saturday Night Massacre, and Other Adventures of a Solicitor General. This memoir about Bob’s tenure as Solicitor General and Acting Attorney General during the Watergate crisis provides a fascinating glimpse into the engine room of American politics in the tumultuous year of 1973. This period, too, has received its share of commentary.

Rather less ink, however, has been dispensed to explain Bob Bork’s philosophy of the martini. A full disquisition would doubtless be lengthy. Here I will confine myself to sharing with readers the comments I sent on to that journalist who is doing research into what H. L. Mencken called “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” “The first thing to be understood,” I wrote, “is that Bob Bork was an originalist when it came to martinis, just as he was about the law and many other things in life.

There is a recipe, whose exact origins are lost in the mists of time, but whose lineaments have been passed down through the generations. We introduce innovation into this hallowed process at our peril.

I once suggested Bob write a book with the title: Martinis: The Original Understanding. He was partial to The Road to Hell is Paved with Olives. Bob observed that the original martini was a careful mixture of three or four (or five or six) parts gin (preferably Bombay or Tanqueray) to one part vermouth. The whole was shaken (not stirred) over ice in a cocktail shaker, served in a chilled martini glass, and garnished with a twist of lemon. A twist of lemon, mind you.  That is what a martini was.

On the occasion of his eightieth birthday, I gave Bob a silver vermouth dispenser in the shape of an tiny old-fashioned oiling can (you can get them at Tiffany’s).  He found it amusing, but he regarded the unbridled diminution of vermouth, favored by many asking for a dry martini, as dangerously latitudinarian.

He recognized, however, that the battle to preserve the martini had far more radical enemies than the vermouth minimalists. One large heresy concerned the very foundation of the martini: gin. People might ask for a “vodka martini” (let’s say) but that concoction, though possibly delicious (my concession, not his) was not a martini.

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Your Justification to Drink Cocktails While Sick

Saturday, December 8th, 2012 - by PJ Lifestyle Health

via Cold Remedy Cocktails: Do They Work? – ABC News.

When it comes to adding a shot of alcohol to your cold or flu remedy, it’s hard not to wish those boozy concoctions are doing some good for your health. As it turns out, they are.

Well, kinda.

Drinks like hot toddies, which traditionally contain whiskey, lemon and honey, can actually give cold and flu patients relief from their symptoms, said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

It just can’t prevent or cure a cold or flu virus.

“It would not have an effect on the virus itself, but its effect on the body can possibly give you some modest symptom relief,” Schaffner said. “The alcohol dilates blood vessels a little bit, and that makes it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection.”

Since Sept. 30, more than 5,100 influenza cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including 40 cases of H1N1.

Schaffner said warm moisture from a steaming mug of any beverage can offer symptom relief.

“That’s part of why chicken soup is thought to work,” he said.

*****

Related at PJ Lifestyle:

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Classic Rock: What Are Your Cat Stevens Music Memories?

Saturday, November 10th, 2012 - by Myra Adams
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No discussion of classic rock (especially among aging female baby boomers) can be complete without mentioning Yusuf Islam or “the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens.”

(We all need to thank Prince for that phrase commonly used after he changed his name to a symbol.)

If you need your memory refreshed after over four decades, here is what Wiki says about Cat Stevens:

Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou, 21 July 1948), commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philanthropist, and prominent convert to Islam.[4]

His early 1970s record albums Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat were both certified triple platinum in the United States by the RIAA.[5] His 1972 album Catch Bull at Four sold half a million copies in the first two weeks of release alone and was Billboards number-one LP for three consecutive weeks.[6] He has also earned two ASCAP songwriting awards in consecutive years for “The First Cut Is the Deepest“, which has been a hit single for four different artists.[7]

Stevens converted to Islam in December 1977 and adopted the name Yusuf Islam the following year. In 1979, he auctioned all his guitars for charity and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community.

Now that you have been reminded of the pertinent Cat facts, it is time recall all the memories and emotions attached to his songs. Here are mine.

Besides Led Zeppelin, (which I have discussed  ad nauseum)  Cat Stevens, representing the mellow side of life, was also a sound track of my 1970 – 1973 years at Needham High School. (Needham is close – in a suburb of Boston, MA.)

During those years, Cat Stevens music consumed numerous hours of my time when I was alone in my room avoiding my parents or with my friends.

Four decades later two particular memories are invoked — lost teenage love and lost teenage job.

First the lost love.

It was during my junior year, when a song from the album Teaser and the Firecat, called “How Can I Tell You,” exemplified my dilemma as it related to the secret love I had for my friend who lived across the street.

(This is the same young man whose car my girlfriends and I “stole” as chronicled in the Three Dog Night, Joy to the World installment of this series.)

Now the lost job.

Sometime during my senior year I visited Cape Cod with some friends and did things kids in the ’70s used to do on weekends. Cat Stevens albums were playing non-stop, when as an irresponsible 17-year-old, I called my boss at the local drugstore where I worked part-time to inform him that I was at the Cape and was not planning to make it to work on Sunday. He told me this meant I would be fired and I told him I understood.

What is it about music that imprints moments like that in your memory bank for decades?

That is the question of the week and one about which you can ponder and comment as you recall your own Cat Stevens music memories. (Sometimes I get the impression this weekly series is turning into a therapy session on lost youth. But that is OK because there is no charge for occupying my virtual couch.)

Now, out of respect for Yusuf Islam, and his Muslim faith which abstains from alcohol, there will be no cheap wine recommendation this week.

Instead, here is a novel idea — why not conger up old Cat Stevens memories without any help from the “fruit of the vine?” Or try the fruit of the vine in another form, as in a nice warm glass of prune juice. Get a head start on a drink all aging baby boomers can look forward to imbibing in the coming decades while you listen to Cat Stevens singing, “Morning Has Broken.”

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What Are YOUR Five Favorite Classic Rock Songs?

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 - by Myra Adams
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Besides sex, politics and religion no topic stimulates aging baby boomer cocktail party conversation more than classic rock music. For this is our music; we grew up with it and it is the soundtrack of our lives.

Previously, I have written that asking baby boomers to name their first rock concert is always an engaging conversation starter.

And here is another musical topic, just as engaging – ask boomers to name their five favorite classic rock songs.

Fueled by some adult beverages, this discussion could last until it is time to go home, which for aging baby boomers always seems to be around 11:00pm.

(Ahh, I remember the good old days when 2:00am was my departure time!)

Do you need a few minutes to name your top five favorites?

(Think of this as a Sudoku exercise for brains over the age of 50.)

While the wheels inside your head go round and round, here are my top five:

Stairway to Heaven  by Led Zeppelin  (See last week’s column)

Kashmir   by Led Zeppelin

Bohemian Rhapsody  by Queen  (See this column from September)

Question  by Moody Blues

While My Guitar Gently Weeps  a Beatles song by George Harrison

Imagine just how much you can learn about a person by knowing their top five classic rock songs! (Obviously my selections prove that I am a complex, confused individual with a colorful past and zest for life!)

Now with the election finally coming to a close next week (at least we hope it will be over next week) this means 50% of your friends and family will be ticked off by the results.

So with family holiday gatherings just around the corner here is some useful advice.

Rather than stab your liberal uncle/aunt/sister/cousin/brother-in-law with the turkey carving knife when the dinner conversation turns to the election results, why not change the topic by asking folks to name their five favorite classic rock songs?

Try this friendly topic changer when the heat begins to rise, because if your family is anything like mine, I wish I had thought of this idea a long time ago.

Are you still contemplating your five favorites? If so, what shall we drink to stimulate the thinking process?  Correction, what is in my refrigerator?

The answer is sake! Gekkeikan Haiku Sake with its 15% alcohol content.            

Lately, I have enjoyed sipping cold sake on the rocks. The bottle, I just noticed has been partially consumed, a sure sign my husband has endorsed my new fad. (After all, he is married to a “complex, confused individual with a colorful past and a zest for life,” so the poor guy needs some relief.)

Gekkeikan Haiku Sake is according to the label: “light, with just a hint of dryness Gekkeikan Haiku brings hundreds of years of sake making experience to the modern palate.”

So when your gathering is boring and needs some lively conversation or it is too lively and relatives are at each other throats, then pour some Gekkeikan Haiku Sake over ice and ask folks to name their five favorite classic rock songs.

This is guaranteed to have the desired effect.

That is until someone yells Freebird and all hell breaks loose!

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Classic Rock and Cheap Wine: Jimi Hendrix, Love Beads, and My First Concert

Saturday, October 13th, 2012 - by Myra Adams

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RHTqFlOP0NM

If you ever want to start a lively conversation among aging baby boomers just ask the question, “What was your first rock concert?”

There is a definite pecking order of impressive answers.

First, is the Beatles. (I have a close friend who wins this prize.) Second, is Led Zeppelin and then there are many possible answers for third place.

For example, my husband’s first concert was The Who, an acceptable contender. Mine was Jimi Hendrix and if you continue reading you might decide to award me the bronze medal for third.

It was June of 1970, and to celebrate our graduation from Newman Junior High in Needham, Massachusetts, three girlfriends and I went to see Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix was performing at the now iconic Boston Garden, torn down in 1997, but then the home of basketball’s Boston Celtics and hockey’s Boston Bruins.

As we left the subway station and walked towards the concert, a store with the name Now Shop caught our attention. As 15-year-olds we were attuned to all the social and cultural changes taking place, but this store actually offered us the opportunity to change our look from suburban school-girls to “now.”

Shelves were lined with everything needed to dress like a hippie. There were tie-dye shirts, headbands, sandals, peasant blouses, fringed vests, peace symbols and of course piles of love beads. We all were salivating at the merchandise and bought as much as our meager budgets would allow.

My purchases included a small suede pouch with rawhide ties and two love bead necklaces. Now that the Now Shop transformed our look and our attitude, we were ready for Jimi Hendrix.

On stage he lived up to his reputation playing all his great hits including my two favorites, Foxy Lady and Purple Haze.

Hendrix was an amazing performer, but it was the entire rock concert experience that blew me away. The smells, (you know what I mean) the energy of the crowd, and above all, the excitement of being 15 and feeling a part of something that was so hip, cool and “now.” Yes, the times were a changin’ and we were part of that change.

Just seeing Jimi Hendrix would have been memorable enough, but, as fate would have it, this Boston Garden concert on June 27, 1970 was to be his last.

Less than two months later on September 18th, Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27 of a drug overdose.

Throughout my life I have felt an emotional connection to Jimi Hendrix since his last concert was my first. In fact, I even mentioned this concert as one of my classic rock credentials in the first installment of this silly series.

Now, what shall we drink as you listen to the actual recording of Jimi’s last concert, showcased at the top of this piece?

Since you are reading about an event that happened to me 42 years ago, that means I am old and old people must drink lots of red wine to sustain their heart health.

The cheap wine recommendation this week is Acacia Pinot Noir. The label reads: “An elegant wine with strong black cherry flavors and an unexpected hint of violet and spice that we believe conveys the essence of California Pinot Noir.”

Yea, yea, who writes this label dribble? I just like the stuff, especially when it is on sale, but can never taste the flavors the label says I am supposed to taste.

So let’s raise our glasses to the legendary music of Jimi Hendrix and a group of once “hip” 15-year-olds who wore love beads to their first rock concert that turned out to be both historic, tragic and unforgettable.

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Classic Rock & Cheap Wine: A Three Dog Night Without ‘Joy to the World’ After a Trip to the Police Station

Saturday, October 6th, 2012 - by Myra Adams
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What is it about the power of a song that upon hearing it decades later instantly brings you back to a memorable moment in your life?

That song for me is Joy to the World by Three Dog Night evoking a 1972 high school incident involving three girlfriends, a “stolen” Cadillac and a trip to the police station.

So now that I have your attention….

As a1 6-year-old high-school junior I found myself secretly “in love” with my close friend and neighbor, a handsome senior, who lived across the street. Dan (not his real name) and I had grown up together, but now as a blossoming teenager I saw him differently and fantasized that he was destined to be my future husband.

Dan had absolutely no romantic interest in me but started “going out” with my girlfriend Donna (not real name). That meant I was thrust into the position of gossip go-between, a position I relished.

Not too long after Dan and Donna became an item, Dan’s father bought a new Cadillac and handed Dan the keys to his old one.

Keep in mind that in 1972 it was rare for anyone in my high school to have their own car, especially a Cadillac. Therefore, Dan’s Cadillac, (which by today’s standards was the size of a gunboat) became a major status symbol and the ultimate party vehicle.

One day after school my three girlfriends and I started walking toward the town center when we spotted Dan’s Cadillac in the school parking lot. It was then Donna proudly proclaimed, “I have Dan’s keys,” so without any hesitation, we all jumped in the car for a harmless spin.

On the radio Joy to the World was playing and I remember us singing the famous lyrics: Jeremiah was a bull frog, was a good friend of mine, and the Joy to the World chorus at the top of our lungs while having a totally terrific time.

That was until we were stopped by the police.

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Jazz and Cocktails

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012 - by Stephen Green

It starts around one minute in, but watch the whole thing for the setup. And it’s amazing. Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé presenting together at the 1976 Grammy Awards, but performing a scat duet of “Lady Be Good.”

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A couple years later, Tormé would record this number with Buddy Rich, with the lyric re-written as “Ella Be Good.” What an amazing record.

But this live performance? I can’t put it any better than one of the YouTube commenters, who wrote, “OH MY GOD. My face hurts from smiling SO HARD.” Yeah. That. The best part is, every single person in that auditorium, including that year’s winner, knew they just got absolutely schooled by two of the finest vocal performers in all of jazz history. And the ones who didn’t know it? They didn’t deserve to be at the Grammys.

To drink, we need something smooth, sophisticated, and sweet enough to match all the smiles.

Only — only — a Manhattan will do.

You’ll need:

2.5 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1 maraschino cherry (preferably with the stem still on, but my jar didn’t have any like that)
A cocktail shaker
Plenty of ice

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, then pour in your bourbon and vermouth. I happen to like Maker’s Mark for my Manhattans — anything fancier tends to get lost in the vermouth, so why bother?

Stir slowly and gently for ten seconds. Thou shalt not count to 11, nor count to nine, excepting as to then proceed to ten.

Do not break or chip the ice.

Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a single cherry.

Now rewind the video and play it again with your Manhattan. You’ll find both are improved immeasurably, along with your attitude.

Here’s the one I just made.

Cheers.

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Jazz and Cocktails

Saturday, September 1st, 2012 - by Stephen Green
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This is it, the last weekend of summer. Sure, that’s not what the astronomers or the meteorologists will tell you. But you know when you see Labor Day on the calendar, and feel that first chill in the afternoon winds, that this is it. Our music needs to be something breezy, and maybe a little melancholy.

George Benson’s “Breezin’” is a too-obvious choice — but so what? It’s still damn good music. Here he is performing live in the UK, an unbelievable 35 years ago. Benson had himself a crossover hit with “Breezin’,” which was all over the Top 40 stations the summer I turned eight. It was almost certainly the first jazz tune I ever heard on my own radio — a tiny olive green handheld AM relic powered by a nine-volt battery I used to remove so I could stick the contacts on my tongue. The fact that it played on my radio gave it an acceptability factor it never would have gotten had Mom or Dad tried to force me to listen. And a lifelong love was born.

For the occasion, we need just the right drink. It’s a little something I came up with for my lovely bride, and I call it — of course — Breezin’. (Melissa vetoed “Passing Wind.”)

You’ll need:

Any decent brut champagne
2 ounces Citron vodka (Ketel One Citroen is excellent, priced right, and mixes well)
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Six leaves of basil

In the bottom of a small cocktail shaker, muddle the basil in the pomegranate juice. Add the simple syrup and vodka, then a handful of ice. Shake gently until chilled, then divide evenly between two champagne flutes. Top off each flute with champagne. Give it a quick stir, then garnish with more basil. They’ll come out a sunset color, which seems sadly appropriate.

Serve with George Benson turned up to six and the last Saturday of the summer.

Here are the two I just made.

Cheers.

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Jazz and Cocktails

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 - by Stephen Green
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Louie Armstrong, “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans.” This is a live performance, but I haven’t been able to figure out where or when. I do know the musicianship on display here is breathtaking.

We have a choice here between a Hurricane or a Mint Julep, but Melissa still has all that mint growing in the garden. So, Mint Julep it is.

We also have to hurry up and play this one — and drink this one — before we lose the very last of the summer weather. Monument Hill cooled off a couple weeks ago, and doesn’t look likely to warm back up very much before the autumn sets in.

You’ll need:

2.5 ounces Kentucky bourbon – Maker’s Mark preferred
2 fresh mint sprigs
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon water

If you happen to have your wife’s grandmother’s old julep glasses, by all means give them a quick polish and use them. If not, a Collins glass will do. My wife likes hers a little weaker and a little sweeter, so I double the water and sugar for her.

Trim your mint sprigs so that they’re the right height to serve as garnish. Trim off all the lower leaves, then muddle them in the bottom of the glass with the sugar and the water. Muddle them hard and release all that minty goodness.

Fill the glass all the way to the top with shaved or crushed ice, pour in the bourbon, then top off with a little more ice. Stick in a straw (we’ve got to get silver ones to go with the glasses!) then garnish with the sprigs.

Here are the two I just made.

Cheers.

AND ANOTHER THING: I’d usually leave it at that, but sipping at my cocktail and listening to Armstrong got me thinking. Or, as close to thinking as one can do on a sunny Saturday afternoon spent sipping at a cocktail and listening to Armstrong. What I’m thinking is, the huge debt we owe to Louis Armstrong.

Without Armstrong, jazz and pop as we know them simply wouldn’t exist. He did more than any other single artist to define them both — and he did so as an instrumentalist of unparalleled talent and as a vocalist of sublime and restrained emotiveness. Without Louis, how do you get to Charlie Parker? Without Louis, how do you get to Ella or Frank? He’s the guy who started it all.

Oh, and he wasn’t a bad actor, either, with 18 movies to his name.

We’re lucky we had him. I’m going back to my cocktail now.

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Roger’s Do-It-Yourself Bourbon and More

Saturday, August 18th, 2012 - by Roger L Simon

Some folks like to brew their own beer. Others like to ferment wine. To me those drinks are candy, as in the old line: “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” These days I’m a hard liquor man, favoring martinis and Manhattans, both done just so.

Toward that end I’ve been doing my own safari across country in search of the best ingredients. When it comes to martinis, I favor Plymouth gin kept in the freezer with a quick splash of Noilly Prat vermouth (the straw-colored kind). Add to that a secret ingredient I discovered at a bar in Charleston: celery bitters. Sprinkle some in, depending on taste. Of course, it’s then all shaken, not stirred, Mr. Bond. And served as icy cold as possible, straight up with, in my case, two olives. Others prefer, as Robert Mitchum would famously say, “No vegetation.” That’s up to you.

On the Manhattan front, things are a bit more complicated. I was originally a Maker’s Mark man, but lately I’ve been gravitating to Buffalo Trace bourbon. But more of the bourbon in a minute. The other ingredients for an unforgettable (I’ll take…) Manhattan that Dorothy Parker never had (I know, I know – she preferred martinis) are Antica Formula dal 1786 Vermouth (incredible stuff, a little pricey but worth it – you don’t use too much) and Luxardo, an Italian liqueur made of maraschino cherries. Use two parts bourbon, one part of that fancy vermouth and maybe slightly less than 1 part Luxardo (depends on how sweet you like it). Again, use a shaker with ice and pour over another maraschino (or not – it’s fine without it). Kick back and listen to Bobby Short or some equally “Manhattan” sound.

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