Friday, August 17, 2012

Robert Fulton, SteamPunk Drunks, CD's, Ludwig van, The musings of Alternative Control and the Steamboat Cocktail

On this day in 1807, the North River Steamboat (later named Clermont) launches on the Hudson River in New York City and heads for Albany, New York, inaugurating the first commercial steamboat service in the world. Robert Fulton, who seven years earlier had engineered the very first submarine - the Nautilus, designed the North River.  The trip from New York City to Albany, done at what was then break neck speed, would take 32 hours.

The Historical Inebriant: The Steamboat Cocktail

1 part Vodka
1 part Coffee Liqueur
1 Ice cube
1 part Whipping Cream
Pour all ingredients into shaker and mix.  Strain into a cocktail glass.

I came across this in my internet travels and could not resist posting.  I don't own a kindle, but apparently if I did I would be able to borrow this book for free.  It's worth taking a look at the preview on Amazon for some very odd cocktails.

SteamDrunks: 101 Steampunk Cocktails and Mixed Drinks

Per Wiki:
1982 – The first Compact Discs (CDs) are released to the public in Germany. 

When I first read this entry, I wondered if it meant the first CDs in the world were released on this day or was it just in Germany?  As I started to look for the answer, it dawned on me that it really didn't matter since in a year, or five, or ten, the CD will go the way of the cassette tape, the vinyl record, the 8-track, and the record single.  More importantly I remember when albums had themes all their own, think Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" or The Who's "Tommy" and I fear that may be lost in the coming years. 

A friend of mine writes a great blog about music and has put his memories of music formats (and how the medium used to be part of the message) into a wonderful post.  I have excerpted a passage here, but please take the time to read it in full:

The album or CD as a tangible thing is dying. A generation of kids are growing up into a world where all their media is given to them by just a few clicks and into a tiny computer. Sleeve designs and beautiful album art like the cover to any Yes, Iron Maiden or Pink Floyd record are reduced to tiny icons. Lyric sheets and linear notes are produced digitally, if at all. And I’m really wondering if I’m the only one that’s saddened by this. I feel that an album in itself is a complete work of art. It should be listened to and appreciated from start to finish. The artwork, the lyrics, the band photos and the linear notes are all part of that package, and part of the enjoyment. Buying something tangible, looking through the sleeve or the booklet as the music plays, following along with the lyrics – that’s what enjoying music is all about for me. It’s like taking a little journey. If you take that ritual away, what’s stopping the album concept from disappearing entirely? 
                                         Christopher Baldwin


By the way -

In 1970 Philips Co. based in the Netherlands began developing an audio disc system using laser technology designed to replace vinyl records. It would later partner with Sony in the developmental stage and the story goes that the prototype disc that Philips presented to Sony was 11.5cm in diameter. Sony insisted that the new disc format must be able to hold the entirety of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. The CD size was later increased to 12cm to accommodate the extra data.

The next time you listen to a CD, thank Phillips and Sony and more importantly - Ludwig van.

For a brief history of the CD:

As always, have a great and safe weekend!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

National Rum Day, The Original Piña Colada

It is National Rum Day.  Drink rum with purpose!  Drink Rum with Resolve!

My good friends at Esquire are always up on these things and have a few suggestions on
how to enjoy the holidays.  Worth the price of admission:


The Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto wanted a new drink, one that would highlight the history of Puerto Rico but with a new twist that would appeal to the foreign visitors of the bar. Mr. Ramón Marrero, a bartender who worked at the Beachcomber was charged with creating the drink. Marrerro worked for months on the creation using the well known Don Q rum as a base. One of the specialty ingredients in the new drink would be the coconut cream that Coco López had just been invented.

In the end Marrero created a tasty, tropical drink unlike any other. On this day in 1954 the first Piña Colada was sold. The drink was an instant hit and by 1978, the three-millionth piña colada was sold and the government declared the Piña Colada to be the official drink of Puerto Rico. His original drink recipe follows:

The Historical Inebriant: The Original Piña Colada

3 oz. coconut cream
6 oz. pineapple juice
1½ oz of white rum
Pour all ingredients into a blender or shaker with crushed ice, and blend or shake very well until smooth. Pour into chilled glass, garnish with pineapple wedge and/or a maraschino cherry.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kublai Khan and the Divine Wind, Blind Jack Metcalf Builds a Road and the Typhoon Cocktail

The Mongol fleet destroyed in a typhoon, ink and water on paper, by Kikuchi Yōsai, 1847

In 1274, the Mongol Kublai Khan (the grandson of Genghis Khan) assembled a fleet of an estimated 15,000 Mongol and Chinese soldiers, 8,000 Korean soldiers, approximately 1000 ships of various sizes and sails to invade and conquer Japan. His forces would gain a toehold on the island, but a "divine wind" or Typhoon would arrive to destroy almost all of his ships. Defeated, Kublai Khan would retreat back to the Chinese mainland.

Frustrated, Kublai Khan sent five emissaries to Japan in September of 1275 to discuss the terms of surrender and occupation. Japan's response was having them sent to Kamakura and then beheading them. In 1279, 5 emissaries were again sent to Japan and they met with the same result. This time the beheadings took place in Hakata. Both of the gravesites are still in existence in Japan. Meanwhile, Japan was fortifying their shoreline defenses knowing a second invasion attempt would soon occur.

In 1281, Kublai Khan's launched his 2nd invasion force, consisting of two fleets. Nine hundred ships containing 40,000 Korean, Chinese, and Mongol troops would set out from Masan, while 100,000 troops sailed from southern China in 3,500 ships. It was an invasion force the size of which the world would not see again until the D-Day invasion of World War II. The Chinese force would encounter heavily losses at Tsushima and would be forced to return home.

On this day in 1281, Kublai Khan's 2nd invasion force, would arrive in Japan and face a well mobilized and heavily fortified Japanese defense. After a hard day of fighting the Mongols were forced back to their ships anchored offshore. That night a typhoon lasting two days would hit the Japanese waters and the Mongol fleet would be destroyed by "divine wind" for the second time.

The Historical Inebriant: The Typhoon Cocktail


Champagne (Chilled)
1 oz. Gin
1/2 oz. Anisette
1 oz. Lime Juice

Shake all ingredients (except champagne) with ice and strain into a collins glass over ice cubes. Fill glass with chilled champagne, stir lightly, and serve.

On this day in 1717, John Metcalf (Blind Jack) was born in Knaresborough, England. Blind from the age of six, he would have successful careers as a musician, tour guide, load hauler and finally as a builder of roads. A facinating story if you have a chance to read it.

His tombstone erected in the churchyard of Spofforth, at the cost of Lord Dundas bears this epitaph:

Here lies John Metcalf, one whose infant sight
Felt the dark pressure of an endless night;
Yet such the fervour of his dauntless mind,
His limbs full strung, his spirits unconfined,
That, long ere yet life’s bolder years began,
The sightless efforts mark’d th’ aspiring man;
Nor mark’d in vain—high deeds his manhood dared,
And commerce, travel, both his ardour shared.
’Twas his a guide’s unerring aid to lend—
O’er trackless wastes to bid new roads extend;
And, when rebellion reared her giant size,
’Twas his to burn with patriot enterprise;
For parting wife and babes, a pang to feel,
Then welcome danger for his country’s weal.
Reader, like him, exert thy utmost talent given!
Reader, like him, adore the bounteous hand of Heaven

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Doc Holliday, the Tombstone Gravesites, Pirate Radio and The Corpse Reviver No. 2


On this day is 1851, the American dentist, gambler and gunfighter John Henry Doc Holliday was born. The son of an army pharmacist, Doc Holliday received a degree in dentistry from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery but shortly after beginning his practice as a dentist, Holliday was diagnosed with tuberculosis and left the east for the southwest where he hoped the drier air might help prolong his life.

Moving to Texas, he would practice dentistry for a short while but coughing spells wracked his body during dental procedures and he saw his business decline. Finally, forced to find another way to earn a living, Holliday would turn to gambling and found himself quite good at it. Unfortunately, if you were good at gambling in the old west, you also had better be good with a gun.

It was on January 2, 1875 that Doc would have his first gunfight. A disagreement with a local saloonkeeper turned violent and although neither party was injured both men were arrested. It would only be a few days later however, that Doc's pistols would claim their first victim, this time a prominent Dallas resident. Fleeing town, Holliday headed to the lawless town of Jacksboro, Texas where three more gunfights would occur leaving one man dead but since there was no law in Jacksboro, Doc remained there.

When a gunfight left a US soldier dead, a reward was offered for his capture and he was pursued by the army, Texas Rangers and pretty much anyone with a gun. Holliday would escape to Colorado but after a fight where he nearly severed someone's head off with a knife, he would move on.

Meeting up with a prostitute named Kate, she and Doc would travel to Wyoming, then New Mexico and finally back to Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and finally Tombstone, Arizona where the famous "Gunfight at the OK Corrall would occur. While leaving a river of blood in his wake, Holliday would not die from a bullet but would pass away in bed from tuberculosis at age 36.

For more information:

A NPR segment that aired today on Boot Hill cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona

The Historical Inebriant: The Corpse Reviver #2

1 shot gin
1 shot Cointreau
1 shot Lillet Blanc
1 shot fresh lemon juice
Dash of absinthe or substitute (roughly ¼ teaspoon)

Shake well with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

 “Four of these taken in straight succession will revive the corpse again"  -  Harry Craddock


On this day in 1967, the UK Marine Broadcasting Offences Act declares offshore pirate radio illegal.

Since radio began in the UK the government decided that such a powerful means of mass communication needed to be under state control to avoid abuses, so in 1927 The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was formed. The conservative organisation charged a licence fee to every home possessing a radio and in return provided provided lively programs of news, weather, lectures, educational matter, and symphony concerts.

Enter the world of Pirate Radio where ships with radio antennae would anchor in international waters and broadcast a signal into England. Rock, American Blues and even England's own "The Who" filled the airwaves.  Living as outlaws DJ's manned the booths on floating radio stations trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities and the weather.

To learn more of the story of perhaps the most famous Pirate Radio ship Caroline:

A gunfighting joke:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bayerische Motoren Werke, Left Handers Day, The Lufthansa drinking game and the Southpaw Cocktail


On this day in 1918, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) became a public company in Germany. Rapp Motorenwerke, an aircraft engine manufacturer during WWI, was required to cease engine production as one of the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. It would emerge in 1918 as a motorcycle maker and in 1928 would begin the production of automobiles.

The distinctive blue and white BMW logo combines the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria, and, as the story goes it pays homage to Rapp Motorenwerke by portraying the movement of a white aircraft propeller cutting through a blue sky.


Today is International Lefthanders Day

Image description

Today is the day when we recognize those who come at things from a slightly different angle, the Leftys, the Southpaws, the Ciotógach. Let’s increase our awareness of those who need a different tool than rightys to do just about anything (except the standard drinking glass). To promote a constructive dialog understanding I suggest a drinking game...a (possibly) left handed drinking game.

This is a real drinking game called “Buffalo”. Why anyone would call a left handed drinking game Buffalo is beyond me, which is why I changed the name to “Lufthansa”. At least that sounds like “left-handed” in another language. The rules are fairly simple and involve which hand you may use to drink.

You can hold your drink with either hand, but may only drink from it with your non-dominant hand. If any other Lufthansa players spot you drinking with your dominant hand, they call “Lufthansa!” on you and you must finish your drink as quickly as possible. If you hesitate to finish your drink, the other players join in chanting “Lufthansa, Lufthansa!" and banging on the table until you finish.

If you call Lufthansa on somebody when they are actually drinking with their proper hand or not drinking an alcoholic drink, they may return with a call of "False Lufthansa” (Fansche Lufthansa!) and you are obligated to finish your own drink. If the caller does not currently possess a drink, the False caller must drink the nearest alcoholic drink available. Special care must be made when drinking with left-handed players because of this rule.

Sounds simple enough, right? Talk to me after you drink your fourth Cosmo (gasp) with the sound of “Lufthansa, Lufthansa" ringing in your ears!

The Historical Inebriant: The Southpaw Cocktail


2 oz Bacardi® Big Apple rum
1 oz bourbon whiskey
1 oz Smirnoff® watermelon vodka
1/3 tsp lemon juice
1/3 tsp lime juice
2 tsp sugar
6 oz orange juice

Pour apple rum, bourbon, and watermelon vodka into a shaker with a handful of ice, add lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, and sugar. Shake thoroughly, then strain into a frosted collins glass.


Happy Birthday Dan