Friday, August 24, 2012

In my book - only one thing happened today, and The Vodka Press Cocktail

On this day in 1456, printer Johannes Gutenberg, would complete his greatest project - one that would revolutionize the world. In Mainz, Germany, Gutenberg would produce 180 copies of the most sought after book in Europe, the Bible, using his invention of movable type and a machine - the printing press.  The copies, referred to as the Gutenberg Bible represent a turning point in world communication.


Prior to Gutenberg, all books in Europe were copied by hand. The process was slow and expensive, limiting ownership of the written word to the wealthy and the clerics (who traditionally did most of the copying). With the printing press, books could be mass produced inexpensively, and opened up the world of knowledge to all. The boundaries of what would be printed (copied) and what would not - vanished. Gutenberg's process would be instrumental in the sharing of ideas that formed the ages of the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution.

Gutenberg's process of movable type consisted of blocks of metal with a single character etched into the top.  Blocks of letters forming words would then be placed on a press, inked, and pressed onto paper transferring the image.  With upper and lowercase letters and punctuation marks, it is estimated that 290 different master characters were needed to produce the Bible.  This technology would be used by bookmakers and newspapers well into the 20th century.

The Historical Inebriant: The Vodka Press

1.5 ounces vodka
1 part club soda or tonic
1 part Sprite or other lemon lime soda
Lime garnish
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add vodka, soda/tonic, and sprite

I had never heard of a press drink, but there are several references online.  The theory is that when you would like a Vodka (I assume it would also work with Gin) that is neither too sweet with soda or juice nor too strong on the quinine (vodka tonic) you may want to try a press where the vodka is diluted with both club soda or tonic and Sprite as a refreshing drink.

If you're partial to raspberry flavored vodka:

As always, thank you for reading this weeks posts and have a great and safe weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vulcanalia, Bacchanalia, The Earth from Mars and the Flaming Volcano Cocktail

On this day in 79, the Vulcanalia feast day honoring Vulcan - the Roman god of fire, was being celebrated in Pompeii. On Vulcanalia, you would begin the day working by candlelight to recognize the importance and benefits of fire. Later in the day there would be music, dancing and bonfires into which fish were thrown in as a sacrifice to the god. I'm sure there was quite a bit of wine consumed as well, even though they were not honoring Bacchus (Bacchanalia).  Vulcan was representative of the good uses of fire such as light, cooking and wamth, as well as the destructive - forest fires, homes burning down and volcanoes - and the festival was a way of appeasing Vulcan to try to limit the destructive fires in the coming year.

The next day, on August 24th, the volcano on Mount Vesuvius would violently erupt, killing almost all the inhabitants of Pompeii.

I won't be writing about the eruption of Vesuvius tomorrow, so if you want to read more on that:

The Historical Inebriant: The Flaming Volcano

I won't list all the ingredients and the steps to make it since the first thing you need is the drink boat, which most people don't own.  As a substitute I would do any flaming shot that you like!


On this day in 1966, the Lunar Orbiter 1 would take the first ever photograph of Earth from orbit around the Moon.  It is truly amazing how far space travel has come since then.


Jack Landman's Cybercity Radio: Earth from Mars Photos - From Mars Orbit, from Mars Surface

This photo of the Earth was taken on May 8, 2003 from a camera aboard NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft as it orbiting Mars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Loch Ness, Pearl Jam's 10 and a cocktail

On this day in 565, Adomnán the chronicler of the life of Saint Columba would write that Columba, while in Scotland would come across the burial of a man who had been killed by a monster in the River Ness that flows out of the nearby Loch. Later, or so the story goes, he would save a swimmer from the beast by making the sign of the Cross and with the incantation "Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed." The beast then fled. The passage would be the first written reference to the Loch Ness Monster.



On this day in 1992, nearly a year after its release, Pearl Jam's debut album Ten would peak at number two on the Billboard Charts where it would remain for four weeks.

The Historical Inebriant: The Pearl Jam


1 oz Orange Vodka
4 oz Club Soda
1 oz Orange Juice
Pour orange vodka into an ice-filled highball glass, add club soda, top with orange juice and serve.

Stamford Restaurant Weeks

If you live in or nearby Stamford CT, please see my page on Restaurant Weeks and help support our local restaurants (you know, those tables - where you eat food - typically located very near the bar area!).  There is also a great offer from a local Cigar lounge!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mona goes missing, the Socialite Serial Killer and The Mona Lisa Cocktail

Marcel Duchamp's Mona Lisa 

On this day in 1911, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece the Mona Lisa is stolen by a Louvre employee. Vincenzo Peruggia believed that the painting should hang in an Italian museum, so one night he entered the Louvre and waited until they closed for the night. He left the closet, placed the painting under his coat and walked out.

Two years later, when Peruggia tried to sell the painting to Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy he was arrested and the painting recovered. After being displayed at almost all of the museums in Italy it was returned to the Louvre in 1913.

Celebrated as a patriot in Italy, Peruggia was given a six month prison sentance for his crime.

The Historical Inebriant: The Mona Lisa


2 oz Grappa Brandy
1 1/2 oz Port
1/2 Tsp Triple Sec

I really have no idea the simplest way to serve this. See the website for variations
but I might try mixing in a shaker with ice, giving a few stirs and straining into a chilled martini glass.

On this day in 1614, Elizabeth Báthory, Hungarian noble and serial killer died of unknown causes while under house arrest. A countess from the renowned Báthory family of Hungarian nobility (who ruled Transylvania at that time) was convicted of murdering 80 young girls, most of which had been sent to her for employment in a well paying position or in the case of members of society - to learn etiquette. The young girls would be tortured and, as the story goes, would be killed so Elizabeth could bathe in their blood.

Although she was convicted of 80 murders, some judge the total being over 650 victims. Remembered in Hungary as the "Blood Countess" she may be the the most prolific female serial killer in history.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Evolution through Natural Selection, The 1812 Overture, Day of the New Bread and The Moscow Mule Cocktail

On this day in 1858, Charles Darwin would publish his theory of evolution through natural selection in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. 
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” 

On this day in 1882, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuts in Moscow at the dedication of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which was built to commemorate Russia's victory over Napoleon's invading army in 1812. Although not one of Tchaikovsky's favorites, it remains one of his most successful and often played pieces.

The Historical Inebriant: The Moscow Mule
(if you have time, please read Wondrich's commentary as well)

1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 oz Vodka
4 to 6 oz Ginger Beer
Squeeze lime juice into a Collins glass and drop in the spent shell. Add 2 or 3 ice cubes, then pour in the vodka and fill with cold ginger beer. Serve with a stirring rod.

As a side note, in 1891 Tchaikovsky himself would conduct the piece at the dedication of New York City's Carnegie Hall.


Today is St. Stephen's Day in Hungary. It celebrates St. Stephen, first king of Hungary (who helped spread Christianity throughout the land) as well as the foundation of the Hungarian state. It also marks "the day of the new bread". There will be street fairs, processions and fireworks on the banks of the Danube river.

Harvest Procession and Blessing of the Bread - 20th August Festivities Budapest

Sunday, August 19, 2012

If you're in a new band...

Please see my post on Booze, Bars and Bands page of this blog.  And please remember what they say about the messenger...