Another Grab Bag Friday post that was resurrected from my old drinks blog; I wanted to bring a couple of them over here because I liked them, so you’ll probably get another grab bag friday post or two about cocktails before I start mixing the content up a little more (not to mention it takes the load off writing another article when I need to get some sleep so I can play the Diablo3 beta) – anyhow, I hope you enjoy!
This is the biggest problem I’ve ever had. I was all set to write a post today on bitters… I knew what cocktail I would make, I knew what I was going to say, and then a terrible thing happened. I went to make the drink (always a requirement before a post) and realized that I had no whiskey. Truly, a tragedy has stuck our home today. So, I’ve had to improvise. I’m going to, instead, write about the experience Sam and I had yesterday at Dry Dock Brewing and do a Drink of the Day. The main event, however, will be to touch on what you really need to know to start making cocktails at home.
First, and I would be remiss if I let another day happen without discussing this, I went to my local homebrew store yesterday. Interestingly enough, The Brew Hut is attached to Dry Dock Brewing, a local Aurora brewery. After purchasing our supplies, Sam decided we should at least have a beer there, since we seem to be stopping by often. After sitting down at the bar, the bartender gave us great news. They had 13 of their beers on tap (yes, you read that right, 13) and they did $6 sampling trays of 6 beers each. So all we had to do was pick one not to try, and there we had it. We omitted the Pumpkin Ale, because it isn’t October and I don’t like pumpkin. I could devote multiple posts to describing these beers, but if you’re in the Denver area you can check them out yourself. If you aren’t in the Denver area, then I’d just be cruel to taunt you with them. However, the highlights were a great Double IPA, a silky smooth Vanilla Porter, and a Apricot Blonde that just screamed to go with wings. There wasn’t a single “loser” out of the 12 beers that we tried; the guys over at Dry Dock really brew great beer.
Now, I know a lot of you like an occasional cocktail. Maybe your current favorite is Jack and Coke, or perhaps you really like a good martini. These things are really easy to make at home, I promise. You just need a couple of things, then you can probably make them better than a generic bartender. Of course, don’t get me wrong, a quality bartender with a whole commercial arsenal of tools, mixers, and knowledge at their fingertips will still out-do me any day. However, I can still make some pretty mean drinks at home. First, get a Boston shaker, please. They look badass, add a nice authentic feel, and really seem to keep the best seal when shaking. You can use any pint glass for the other half, though I have just an unmarked one for my shaker. The next thing you’ll need is a jigger, and the stepped variety is easier to read from above. However, if you’re like me, you think the stepped ones are ugly. I use a double-sided jigger that has half ounce on one side, full ounce on the the other. For quarters and eights, I guesstimate. Horrible, aren’t I? However, in reality, that small amount of liquid doesn’t have to be exact in a 5 or 6 ounce drink. Really, that is all you need in a bare-bones sense. However, getting a few bar glasses will really help your drinks stand out. My first, and still favorite, are these glasses from World Market. I really think you can get away with putting anything but a martini (or other non-iced drink) in them. They’re simple, feel good in the hand, and look like a classic. A few martini glasses for good measure, and then you can expand slowly over time.
Now, you have your shaker, jigger, and glasses. What else do you really need at your bar? Knowledge. I know, you’ve been making Jack and Cokes out of your fridge in your dorms for years. What could you possibly need to know? Well, what if (gasp!) you felt like something other than that one beverage some day? There are a mass assortment of quality cocktails out there, and playing around with various ingredients is part of the fun. One of the best parts of cocktails is the instant gratification; mix them up and you’ll know instantly if you’ve got a hit or a miss in the first sip. I’ve learned a lot from Imbibe magazine and from watching The Cocktail Spirit over at Small Screen Network. Sure, a lot of the recipes may include things you don’t have handy. Look for what you can accomplish, and try your best to adapt where you are missing ingredients. Really, I think cocktails embody the essence of this blog the best. They’re playful, they’re fun, and they’re about trying new things to see how it turns out. Also, and this may be a little too far too fast, but they’re a great way to see how flavors can intermingle and compliment each other. Plus, making a whiskey sour at home means that you’ll know you’re getting fresh simple syrup, fresh lime, quality whiskey, and any other personal touches you like (I put egg whites in my sours; ask if you’re interested) which may or may not happen at your local bar. So go forth, spend about $20, and let me know how your cocktail trials go!
There are a number of good posts about Eve. All of them have the same trend: talking about the amazingly complex levels of intrigue, trust, and negotiations that happen in the game. What no one ever talks about is how absolutely, mind-numbingly dull it is. I won’t pretend I don’t like Eve; I’ve played on and off for a while. In fact, in the name of research, I’m currently on autopilot between two systems as I write this. However, that should be an indicator of what you can expect in Eve. It is a game that has some incredibly unique moments, and is built around an economic system unlike any other, but is fundamentally full of dull mechanics.
What makes Eve exciting, and fun, is the permanency of everything. One server means that all the players can potential interact with each other; it is one big virtual universe. With blown up ships just being lost. With equipment and trade goods being so transient and fleeting. All you have is your bank account and your name with any kind of permanency. The harsh reality means people do have these unique, interesting experiences where losses are meaningful. But what about what I said earlier? Yeah, Eve is boring.
Having arrived at my destination, I’m now mining. Mining consists of moving to a location, clicking a button, and waiting a while. Hopefully no one blows you up while you’re waiting. That’s pretty much it. Eve is really about playing the economy game, and monitoring the market. If that was exciting, we’d have a lot more stock brokers and bankers in the world, and a lot less kids that want to grow up to be baseball players. The social elements are where you can use developed skill to achieve a goal. Your skill at manipulating a ship in the game is marginally important, at best. There is no sense of development, no pre-written story to speak of, and no guided sense of accomplishment beyond the basic tutorial.
All of these things make Eve really dull to play, unless you get involved in the player drama that keeps people coming back. (Or you just really love banking and/or excel) It has carved out a unique niche, for sure, and demonstrated a very real demand for less forgiving MMOs. Now, if only some one could take that formula and make the gameplay fun…