Barman Guide, your guide to bars and nightlife destinations!

Why drink more beer? It’s good for you!

drink beer

Well, just consider that when we touch the cold bottle from the fridge or over the bar counter, we listen to the carbon dioxide that is released while the beer’s foam develops, we see the amber color of the beer poured into our glass, we smell the aromatic substances that come from the snatch block and of course we taste the distinct bitter beer taste that is associated with the contained acids and wooden taste of tannins.

Enjoying a beer on a hot day watching our favorite sports games and cooking barbeque is one of the traditions beer has become famous worldwide for.

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Feeling blue ? Johnny Walker Blue Label that is…

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Handcrafted Lacquer Presentation Case

{xtypo_dropcap}A{/xtypo_dropcap}nd for smoothness, few can beat Johnnie Walker Blue Label, an inspired blend of the world’s rarest and most expensive whiskies, which have been chosen at the peak of their perfection, some having been aged in oak for at least 50 years!

A few of the distilleries that produced these casks are no longer in existence, making these whiskies totally irreplaceable and totally unique from bottle to bottle.

So next time you find yourself at Changi Airport’s new Terminal 3, keep your eyes open for the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Handcrafted Lacquer Presentation Case.

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You can always find Think Magazine Budapest at the Irish Cat

April 14, 2011

Irish Cat Bar

You can always find Think Magazine Budapest at the Irish Cat

At least, this is what the Irish Cat says might happen on its website. The owner has strived to reproduce an Irish pub’s atmosphere for its patrons. This small but well maintained basement public house sports walled booths and a winding common room wrapped around an appropriately stocked bar.

The selection of drinks includes the requisite Guinness, Jameson and the rest of Ireland’s best, with a good selection of Pálinkas, American spirits and local brews. The food menu is sparing in its Irish offerings, but certainly not lacking in the quality department. Expect to pay a fair price for it all. You will be served by a courteous and friendly staff who, though English capable, always appreciate your attempts to speak a bit of Hungarian.

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hungarian Portuggiesers

March 6, 2011

Hungarian Portugieser

hungarian PortuggiesersVintage year 2010 is over, as are all of its competitions, presentations, tastings, challenges and various gatherings of vintners, varietals and vinomaniacs. The results are in, and so, apparently, is Hungary. We knew it (our first issue featured an article on wine and the economic future of Hungary in September).

 

Many prognosticators, proven correct, justified and accurate, demur when they are vindicated. I will engage in no such false modesty. We were right. Hungarian wines are on the rise. So there you have it, “We told you so.”

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cocktails at the Jazz Garden in Budapest

February 20, 2011

Jazz Garden Budapest

cocktails at the Jazz Garden in Budapest

?The founders of the venue sought, “a suitable spot for our club in the inner city. The kind that us as musicians would have loved to play in.” What they found was a dank hole filled with trash. From those fetid depths was born a first-class venue.

Jazz aficionados pass through an entry parlor with a high ceiling, and windingly descend into the basement, passing framed portraits of performers past along the way. Jazz Garden is an acoustically and esthetically fine-tuned space. The design seems inspired by early 20th-century garden cafes in Paris, and features street lamps, cobbled floors and clambering, flowered vines. One can see Josephine Baker stepping onstage here for an impromptu performance.

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Glenfarclas 1990

February 7, 2011

Glenfarclas 1990

Glenfarclas 1990Over 90 percent of all Scotch Whisky produced falls into a third category Blended.

A blend is a whisky that has been produced from a combination of single malt and grain whiskies from numerous distilleries. Master Blenders combine their selection of whiskies to produce a consistent brand style.

Blended whiskies typically include a much larger proportion of grain than malt whisky [70/30], but this differs from brand to brand with those that contain a higher proportion of malt whisky usually held in higher regard and able to command premium prices. Notable blended Scotch whisky brands include Bells, Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker, Whyte & Mackay, Cutty Sark, J&B, The Famous Grouse, Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal.

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Skylark Lounge live music in Denver

January 27, 2011

Skylark Lounge

Skylark Lounge live music in Denver

That place in Denver is the Skylark Lounge. This bar is like a comfy old chair that you don’t just plop down on, but settle into. You have to ease yourself into the atmosphere. The dimly lit, one-room bar has glimmering bottles lined up against walls filled with nostalgic posters.

A picture of Rita Hayworth stares down at an out-of-order ’50s cigarette machine, offering up packs for 35 cents (once again, I stress out-of-order). A solitary pool table sets in the back of the room and smoke swirls through the lamplight coming from each corner. Add to the atmosphere a friendly, no-frills staff and great drink prices, and you’ve got the bar of bars in Denver.

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Auchroisk 1975

January 16, 2011

In True Scotch Vein

Auchroisk 1975The King in question was James IV and while staying at his Falkand Palace hunting lodge he commissioned Friar John Cor of the Tironensian order of the nearby Lindores Abbey to make aquavitae, or water of life.

Eight bols of malt is the equivalent of approximately 580 kilos which would yield over 400 bottles of whisky today.

Some imagine it tasted a bit like Auchroisk 1975. This is one spectacular whisky! Distilled at the elegant and modern Auchroisk distillery in 1975, only 228 bottles of spirit were ever charged from refill hogshead cask number 5522.

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the joy of bad liquor

January 11, 2011

The Joy of Rotgut

the joy of bad liquorGive me the worst bourbon you got. No, I don’t want to hear the speech the Maker’s Mark rep taught you, I want what you got on the rack.

The bottle that’s been languishing on the bottom shelf, shamefully collecting dust, that bad ol’ mother nobody wants and everyone threatens to drink on a dare. Yeah, that one.

No, I’m not joking. Yes, it’s for me. Yes, I know what I’m getting myself into.

Listen, I don’t care what it did to the last guy, I want it now. Stop the fracking disclaimers and give me the fracking fuel, you evil bastard!

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January 8, 2011

Tips on getting a bartending job

Although bartending demands a memorization of hundreds of mixed drinks, there are some tips you should follow in order to begin the journey into this fantastic career…

work as a bartender!

Charm The Interviewer

There might be fifty prospects or there could be 2, no matter the amount of competitors you’re up against, you’re attitude is definitely the best element over which you have control. It matters more than experience, age, and sex.

Look the Part

I constantly promote that if you are applying for a bartending job, wear an outfit that looks the same as the current bartenders of the bar. Should you be turning your application for a high-end bar, you should be sure to put on formal attire. For a dive bar, go casual yet appealing. You always want to look well-kept and groomed.

Appearing a bit nicer than their regular bar staff sends a great message, "I am the perfect candidate for the position!" Remember that these rules are applicable even if you’re just dropping by for an application. You in no way can predict if the hiring manager will decide to screen you during your visit. Don’t get caught looking shabby!

Don’t Be Passive

It’s important to understand that an application is just the first step in the process. After applying, go to the bar and request to speak with manager who does the hiring. Inquire about an interview and show genuine interest in the bartending position. Don’t be afraid to be persistent without getting annoying. Tell them you are the one for the position and are ambitious to start right away.

As soon as you’ve been interviewed, wait About three days before following up with a telephone call. With this small act alone you can help their decision in the matter.

You Need to Apply to Numerous Locations

Respect the application process as though it were your fulltime job. Pay a visit to as many pubs as time will allow and turn in a polished resume and application. Do not expect to get a bartending gig by applying to 2 bars. Give yourself a number of different chances and get your information in to many potential bars. You may also want to apply for catering and wedding gigs if you are a first-timer.

You will bartend if you follow these guidelines

No matter if you’re trying to find your very first position or have had many years behind the bar, being hired is all about persistence. If you are constantly out there applying then the a job will soon open up. It is up to you to get the position. Show your ambition and be positive, it works!

Professional Bartending Training

There are quite a number of bartending resources on the net for those who want to learn more. You can find a bartenders guide at Bartender Mixed which is free and provides a lot more than what most professional schools provide in their curriculum. But for some, live lessons are the only way. If you are having trouble getting a bartending job, consider paying for a bartending school that offer job placement. They are not known for getting the cream of the crop positions, but are a fantastic way to start.

For more tips about how to get a bartending job and a free bartenders guide, please visit BartenderMixed.com. We offer free resources for both new and experienced bartenders.

December 31, 2010

Bartenders are a special breed

They are more than mere dispensers of alcohol, if that was the sum of their worth they would command the same paycheck as a liquor store clerk. No, a bartender bears a much heavier burden—he is alchemist, host, entertainer, psychiatrist, enforcer, surrogate kin, social enabler and the keeper of the hearth. To a drunkard, he is no less than the gatekeeper of paradise…

bartenders are special

And with that grandiose title comes a grave amount of power. Some bear it magnificently, some less so. To return to the feline analogy, they come in many different breeds, running the gamut from Siberian Tigers to suburban Tabbys. From the bowtied gentlemen manning the bar at Harry’s in Paris to the rough-trade boys working the dives, from the lifers to the kids working their way through college.

A dedicated drinker is likely to cross paths with dozens of variations in his lifetime, and being able to identify those variations, those different and strange breeds, will always work toward his advantage.

THE MACHINE

This high-speed technician can be brusque and impatient with the indecisive, but he is a wonder to behold. Without a single wasted motion, he can assemble fifteen different drinks in less time than it takes to dig the wadded up bills out of your pocket. Any sense of mystery and wonder about mixology that you may have walked in with will be crushed after watching this speed merchant crank them out like so many sprockets.

He isn’t much for conversation and you may feel a little uncomfortable sitting across the bar from him (what if one of his valves gets stuck and he explodes?), but you won’t be wanting for a drink either. Stick around long enough and you may start getting the inkling that he views you not as a fellow human being, but just another tiny cog in the drink factory that is the bar.

Pros: Inhuman speed, dazzling performance.

Cons: Mixes can be sloppy, you may feel dehumanized.

Turf: High volume bars.

What he says: “Quick, whatreyouhavin?”

What he means: “Turn, you goddamn cog, turn!

THE MERCENARY

She’s only interested in one thing, and it’s in your pants. More specifically, it’s in your wallet. She’ll play it coy until she figures out what sort of tipper you are. If you tip well, she’ll put you on a pedestal and make you feel like a prince. Average tippers get average service. Bad tippers get exactly what they deserve.

It’s true capitalism at work and you’ll always come out ahead if you grease the wheels properly and ignore the dark calculations behind that brilliant smile.

Pros: Superior service can be bought.

Cons: Superior service must be bought.

What she says: “This one’s on the house.”

What she means: “Keep the moolah flowing and we’ll leave the till out of this.”

Turf: Everywhere.

THE LADIES’ MAN

If you’re a woman, you’ll think the world of this sport. He’ll always make sure you’re served first, are never wanting for conversation (thought it may turn sleazy at some point), and he’ll let more than a few free drinks slide your way. If you’re a guy? Crack a book, because you’re going to wait. Oh, don’t worry, he sees you and your empty glass, he just finds it physically impossible to tear himself away from the fantastic story he’s laying on the babes at the end of the bar.

Pros: Hooks up the ladies.

Cons: Selective service, unoriginal macho energy.

What he says: “Didn’t see you down there. What’re you doing, jumping jacks?”

What he means: “You need to grow some tits.”

Turf: Strip mall dives.

THE BAR GOD

He towers (at least in his mind) behind the bar like Zeus atop Mt. Olympus, lord of all he surveys. He is competent, to be sure, but behind that competence lurks contempt. All the Bar God wants to do is run a proper bar, but instead of decent customers, all he ever seems to get are amateur drunks, nabobs, suburban assholes, rummies, dumbfucks and shitheels.

No matter what you order, you get the feeling you’re being judged. And the verdict is in: You’re a retard. Light beer? You’re a pansy. Guinness? You’re a poser. Jack neat? You goddamn lush. Jager shot? Trendy fuck! He will barely conceal his sneer as you peruse the forest of taps, he harbors the idea that no one should be allowed in a bar unless they can pass an extensive oral and written exam. Yes, he knows how to make a Pousse Cafe, you peasant, but he’ll bristle at the request. Why? Because you’re going to fuck up his work of art by drinking it!

Pros: Knows all the drinks, will reward big tips.

Cons: Glowering arrogance, will leave you feeling unwanted.

What he says: “An extra lime? Seriously?”

What he means: “Gin and tonics get exactly one lime, you fucking mongoloid.”

Turf: Downtown bars.

THE PROFESSIONAL

This gent doesn’t look at bartending as just a way to pay the rent, he approaches it as an exotic and very necessary art. A virtuoso among dilettantes, he towers above run-of-the-mill drink-slingers the way a professional safecracker lords over so many junky purse snatchers. He’s the bartender in The Shining, minus the diabolical backstory. Natty of attire, calm of temper, worldly of knowledge, he is every drinker’s dream. He most likely has a collection of cocktail guides dating from the turn of the century, and he’s read them all. He’s an active alchemist, constantly experimenting with new combinations, ever searching for the ultimate libation. He understands that a perfectly prepared cocktail is one of the closest thing to heaven we’ll find on this mortal coil.

Pros: Polite, masterful, will reaffirm your faith in a higher power.

Cons: Formality can make some drinkers uncomfortable, may be a Bar God in disguise.

What he says: “What is your pleasure, sir?”

What he means: “I’m going to show you how good it can be.”

Turf: Anywhere, but tends to gravitate toward upscale hotel bars.

THE GRIZZLED VETERAN

This guy got into the business back when they used tree bark for coasters. He possesses a wealth of drinking lore and has a story for every situation. His world-weariness and sense of acquired dignity might not make for lightning speed, but he’s very unlikely to screw up your drink. Just don’t get on his bad side, because the Veteran will hold a grudge and never forgets bad behavior.

Cons: Tends to favor regulars, can get grumpy.

Pros: Well of wisdom, calm and competent service, doesn’t rattle under pressure.

What he says: “John Wayne used to drink in here.”

What he means: “You ain’t no John Wayne.”

Turf: Dives, neighborhood bars.

THE BIMBO

The female counterpart of the Ladies’ Man, this barroom beauty plays the sex card every chance she gets. Why go through the hassle of learning bar skills when she can steamroll her miscues with giggles and baby talk? Managers love this type because she draws lonely men into the bar and lonely men tend to drink a lot of booze. So she screws up half her orders and is slower than Grandma Moses pulling a locomotive? She’s got big tits!

Pros: Pleasing to the eye, always upbeat, creates impression she might go out with you.

Cons: Slow, incompetent, will not go out with you.

What she says: “Oopsie! Did I mess up your little drinkie-poo?”

What she means: “Just look at my tits and it’ll taste fine.”

Turf: Everywhere.

YOUR BEST PAL

You’ll want to build bridges with this one. She’s not just there to suck up your tips, she’s there to have a good time. She brings an infectious joie de vie to the job and gives the impression she’s more allied to the customers than the bar. She may not be the till’s buddy, but she’s definitely yours. No matter how serious an infraction occurred while your were blacked out, she will always welcome you back and joke about it the next day. Heavy with the pour, quick with the comp, the pressures of the profession have yet to crack her spirit and render her cynical. Enjoy her while you can because this bartender usually has a professional life span of about three years.

Pros: Heavy pours, frequent comps, creates a fun atmosphere.

Cons: Bar may spiral into anarchy, not long for this world.

What she says: “That was a hell of a fire you started last night! Burnt down half the bar, as you can see. The usual?”

What she means: “They pay me to party! Woo-hoo!”

Turf: Neighborhood bars

THE PLASTIC SMILE

When you first come in contact with this robot, you may feel the urge to look around to make sure you didn’t accidentally walk into suburban Burger King. They’ve read the manual and are overly-friendly to the point of desperation —behind the forced and gruesome smile you sense the manager is holding a gun to the head of the Plastic Smile’s only child, swearing he’ll pull the trigger if a single customer acts displeased. This sort is usually created by aggressive management and possesses a powerful fetish about you using a coaster. Expect to be asked, “How’s your beer, sir? Okay?” after your first sip.

Pros: Fast service, zero ego.

Cons: Will not overpour, zero personality.

What he says: “Would you like fries, er, a lime with that?”

What he means: “You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?

Turf: Chain bars.

THE SHOW OFF

You immediately get the impression this guy sat through one too many viewings of Cocktail. He’s not a bartender on shift, he’s a performer on stage. He flings bottles in the air like a juggler, he makes a big production out of popping the cap off a bottle of Bud. He even pours beer with a flourish. And he’s going to be a star, damn you, just as soon his lazy goddamn agent gets off his fat ass and finds him a soap opera gig. But until then, he’s the star and you’re the undeserving public.

Pros: Fun to watch him fuck up.

Cons: Sloppy drinks, slow service.

What he says: “Whoa, look out! Did I get any on you?”

What he means: “My razzle dazzle is wasted on these oafs.”

Turf: Dance clubs, trendy bars.

THE SOURPUSS

She hates her job, she hates her boss, she hates her customers, and she doesn’t mind cluing you in to the fact. Oh, why, oh why did she end up at this stinking shithole? Surrounded by shitheels? Watching her labor over a drink is akin to watching a manic-depressive postal employee push a granite boulder up a sheer cliff. If you attempt to commiserate with her, she’ll try to get you to fight one of her many “enemies,” some of whom may be regulars.

Pros: Will overpour and comp if you can get her riled up about the management.

Cons: Will suck the life force right out of you.

What she says: “Oh my fucking God! Will this shift ever end?”

What she means: “Oh my fucking God! Will this shift ever end?”

Turf: Low traffic dives.

THE FRAZZLED NOVICE

You will know him by the deer-in-the-headlights stare he’ll give you as you approach the bar. This poor soul is new to the trade and is terrified he’ll make you want to kill him by screwing up your vodka neat. A drink without the ingredients in the name will send him scrambling for his Mr. Boston’s. Asking for a martini will paralyze him with sheer terror. He has his advantages, however. Unless there is powerful management presence, he can be bent to your will, i.e.: “You almost got this Jack and Coke perfect, except you wanna just fill the sucker to brim with whiskey and just barely splash in the Coke.” Nurture him along and he may turn into Your Best Pal.

Pros: Can be manipulated.

Cons: Slow, incompetent, too scared to be conversational.

What he says: “Vodka tonic? What goes in that?”

What he means: “You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?”

Turf: Low traffic and chain bars.

THE REGULATOR

He loves his regulars and they love him. He hooks them up and sticks it to everyone else. It’s very simular to a high school clique—if you catch him by himself he’ll be cool, but once he’s with his buddies, he’ll look right through you. A very distinct class system is in place and if you’re new to the scene you possess as much power as the broken ashtray under the beer cooler. The secret, of course, is to become a regular. This may require five years of your life.

Pros: Loyal to a fault.

Cons: Takes loads of time to get into his good graces.

What he says: “You’re new around here.”

What he means: “You will be considered new around here until that barstool has been permanently imprinted with the shape of your ass.”

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The Bronx Karaoke Singapore

December 22, 2010

The Bronx Karaoke

The Bronx Karaoke Singapore

Just as its name suggests, a large dose of hip-hop and R’n’B is dished out by the bootylicious resident DJ. Expect to rub shoulders with lovely lasses on the disco floor, and if you’re lucky, you might get to trade some dance moves with them.

Dart over to the, well, darting area, to watch some real dart champions shoot the boards with their skilled aims. Bronx also plays host to the Singapore Dart Tournament, and is greeted by a steady stream of darters who frequent the club.

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Glenburgie 1996

December 16, 2010

Make Skittles Infused Vodka

You will need:

Glenburgie 1996

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One 1.75 liter bottle of vodka (I used Stoli – you don’t need the most expensive vodka, but do avoid the cheap ones).

Five 8.5-ounce flasks or bottles

One 1-pound bag of Skittles

Five empty plastic water bottles

A funnel

Bowls for separating the Skittles into flavors

A measuring cup (not pictured)

Coffee filters or paper towels

You’ll also want to cover your workspace with newspaper or freezer paper – this infusion can get messy. If you’re making a different sized batch, here’s the formula you need to know:

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December 9, 2010

Anatomy of a Hangover

We’ve all felt it It is what we accept as fact, part and parcel of our louche existence, the undeniable, cleansing truth…

hangovers

It is the Faustian bargain we make every time we knock back another triple Jameson, every time we empty another few pints. It is a revenge that would make Montezuma hide under a pile of cocoa leaves. It is the biggest turnaround since Benedict Arnold. It is a full-time synonym, attached to all manner of post-celebratory excess, applicable to riots and recovering economies alike.

It is that peculiar feeling that your stomach is trying to exit your body via the mouth. It is, unmistakably and aptly, a hangover. One minute, you’re on top of the world. Life of the party, or at the very least, seated on a comfortable stool. The next, you’re waking up in a frenzy, fully dressed, maybe on a lawn, maybe in your car, more likely on the kitchen floor, a taste rising in your throat like bile, familiar bile.

How exactly did this happen? How did you succumb to the inexorable pull of hubris and lose your precious moment of drunken bliss? Why in the name of all that is good and right do you feel so awful? And is it true that eating ice cream would be a good idea? One at a time, one at a time.

Hangovers, unlike the all-too-short experience which precedes them, are long, complicated matters, thought about by some of America’s most eminent smart people, people with capital letters after their names and cushy positions in the field of Academe. It will take some doing just to explain what, exactly, happens to your body The Morning After, much less tell you how to fix it. So let’s start with the facts.

Problem: You were drunk. Admit it. You were all over the place, kissing strangers and knocking over tables. That’s probably how you cut your hand. You might have thought about that in advance, you know, because the only fer-sure hangover cure in the world is – drum roll, Maestro, for the kids watching TV – abstinence. Yup. Horrible, awful, abstinence. We here at BarmanGuide know better than to advocate such silliness.

If we did, the staff at Modern Drunkard might kick ass en masse, and we know better than to enrage our fellow barflies. So we will leave abstinence where it most deservedly belongs – in history’s septic tank, sloshing around with animal sacrifice and The Hustle. On to the next fact. Unless you are one of those people – we’re looking at one Ryan McAndrews here (you’ll find him anyplace red-blooded Americans drink cheap booze and cuss) – who don’t generally get the traditional hangover, this is where it gets ugly. You feel bad, very bad. Your head hurts. You feel like vomiting. You vomit and you still feel like vomiting.

Oh, Nelly. How could something that makes you feel so good make you feel so bad? In a word, dehydration. Here’s where we turn it over to the smart people for a minute. According to Michelle Hansen, R. D., corporate dietitian for Albertson’s Supermarkets, alcohol "inhibits the formation of ADH, or antidiuretic hormone. Even though you are consuming massive quantities of liquid, your body is programmed to eliminate more than it’s taking in."

That, we suppose, is the academic way of saying that drinking too much dries you out. Dehydration is public enemy number one in hangover world. A slightly less obtuse definition has been provided by the good folks at thevirtualbar.com, where all things alcohol are sacred – so sacred, in fact, that the sops haven’t gotten around to updating their page since last year – and definitions for the condition we know of as hangover are provided with a flourish:

"Alcohol is a diuretic which is another way of saying it makes you pee.Basically, removal of toxins from the bloodstream is a water-intensive process. It is not exactly the chemical process of treating the alcohol that uses the water (as someone else said), but rather the fact that the toxins are carried across the membranes in the kidneys dissolved in lots of water. So it is the direct removal of ethanol that can lead to the dehydration."

So in the process of washing out all of that pesky ethanol that made you all loopy and foolish, your body used up all of its H20 stash. Bummer. That leaves you, my friend, back next to the toilet, more well-rounded perhaps for the knowledge that you are dehydrated, but no less equipped to deal with it. Patience. We haven’t even reached ADH or ALDH, or even congeners.

Huh? We’ll start with congeners. Congener is a fancy science-type name for any of the various impurities in alcohol, free-floating products of distillation and fermentation that, in quantity, serve not only to impart flavor but also to aggravate the misery of The Morning After. Congeners are generally found in darker, sweeter liquors – bourbons, dark whiskeys. But their effect, while significant, is minor when compared to that of two alcohol-breaking enzymes in your own body.

Now, as simply as possible – and simply enough that we here can understand – an explication of the purpose of these two substances: Alcohol Dehydrogenase, or ADH, converts ethanol to something called acetaldehyde. Aldehyde Dehydrogenase, or ALDH, converts acetaldehyde to acetate. While acetate is harmless, acetaldehyde (similar to formaldehyde, which anyone who ever took junior high biology knows by smell) is not.

An individual’s relative concentration and balance of these two enzymes goes a long way to determining their respective tolerance; some peoples, most notably Native Americans, possess a higher frequency of slow ALDH and fast ADH. In combination this can contribute to a much more severe alcoholic reaction. Depending on your particular genetic makeup, that throbbing feeling in your head is largely attributable to these two substances.

So you should have kept away from all of those Island Punches and glasses of red wine. Unfair, too – after all, it’s not like you got a chance to decide your ADH/ ALDH balance. It just is, like having blue eyes or a tendency to wash your hands a lot. So if you, like our Mr. McAndrews, are lucky enough to have a favorable balance, good. Enjoy it. You don’t need to read any farther.

The rest of you listen up: The scientific stuff only goes so far. Knowing why you feel bad isn’t necessarily a great comfort. It’s time to move on to feeling a little bit better.

Solutions: Ah, hangover cures. Every culture and subculture has them in spades. Ask a Mexican national what you should do after a night of mucho pinche cerveza, and he’ll point you in the direction of the nearest bowl of menudo. Ayurvedic doctors, who are most likely nice people (although you probably wouldn’t trust them to set your broken leg or pull a lead slug out of your lung), recommend drinking a concoction of lime, cumin and orange juice.

There are some among the hardcore drinkers of the world, many of them gainfully employed in the landscape or construction industries, who believe that nothing wipes out a hangover like a beer and a cup of black coffee together. One piece of internet advice exhorts the hung to eat a big breakfast, then go and puke it up immediately.

All of this, of course, suggests that no one really has a magic bullet when it comes to curing the hangover. But there are a few genuinely effective methods, one of which is rooted in a bit of old wisdom that holds tomatoes to be unmatched in their curative properties, as well as proving true the oldest piece of hangover wisdom there is – that you need "a little hair of the dog that bit you."

Which brings us, naturally, to the Bloody Mary.

This ought to make you want to get up from that toilet. Nothing – nothing – makes a recovering sad sack feel better than this famous tomato juice-Worcestershire sauce-vodka- lemon juice-Tabasco-whatever combo. Garnished with something tall and green, punched up with horseradish, loaded to the nipples with delicious potato water, this is the alcohol to make you forget about that alcohol. Don’t waste your time with beer and coffee. Don’t eat just to puke. Don’t sprinkle anything with cumin, no matter what. This is your little helper right here.

If you don’t subscribe to the theory that a little liquor’ll heal you quicker, then read on. There are a variety of tasty alternatives, though none of them has ever proved to be anything beyond anecdotally effective (not like a Bloody Mary, mind you, which always works). The Romans, for instance, ate fried canaries. You could try one of those, although I doubt you’d be able to outrun the hordes of animal rights activists who would most likely chase you into an abandoned building and beat you to death.

Instead, you might look to the hippies for inspiration. It turns out that vitamins might actually be useful for something besides fortifying Sugar Smacks. Try some vitamin B and wheatgrass, as antioxidants help the body recover from the damage that alcohol can inflict on cells. Niacin also helps by pushing the alcohol through your body more quickly. Juices are generally a good choice for re-energizing as well, but the hands-down prize for curing dehydration is the Ancient Mariner’s nemesis, landlord of most of the planet and home to a whole bunch of fish, good ol’ water.

But you probably didn’t need us to tell you that. After all, when you’re hunched over the bathroom trash can, do you really want a double caramel latte? Of course, here are other ways. You could drink your own urine, which is said to be the be-all, end-all of hangover cures in parts of India. You could meditate, or pray. You could hit yourself in the head with a board until you achieve a state of religious ecstasy. And you could always fry up a canary or two, as we already mentioned.

But whatever you do, avoid taking Tylenol or acetominophen, which can damage your liver and kidneys something fierce. Actually, drunks like us should avoid these substances even when we are at our most normal – here’s what the smart people at the University of Pennsylvania school of medicine had to say:

"Acetominophen, aspirin and ibuprofen should never be taken with alcohol (unless directed by a physician).Alcoholics should even avoid them when not drinking. These drugs are metabolized by the liver and if the liver has upregulated p450 enzyme system it releases a toxic metabolite. Alcohol plus acetominophen has led to numerous liver transplants and is very dangerous."

Uh, okay. We’ll take that to mean that you shouldn’t gulp aspirin or Tylenol or anything else when you’re hung over or, for that matter, at any other time. This is why you read BarmanGuide – factual information that can change your life. You were just about to choke down a couple of those beauties, weren’t you? Well, if you can keep something down – even Bloody Marys do, unfortunately, tend to vacate the premises quickly if unaccompanied by a few eggs – that must mean you’re feeling a little better.

The pain of a hangover is retribution, the comeuppance. Nothing is free in this dirty little world, least of all the blissful, mentally unencumbered high of a solid drunk. It’ll empty your wallet and your stomach. So this holiday season, be prepared. Keep your B-complex and vodka at the ready. Drink wheatgrass juice and water.

Or try the bartender’s choice – some ice cream. Will it cure your hangover? Who cares? Who’s ever sorry they had ice cream?

Image credit: Patrick Leger
Drysack Sherry

November 15, 2010

Drysack Sherry

Drysack SherryThis sherry is not of any particular type, but is a mixture of Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez wines, which are then stored in Dry Sack’s own solera system. The color is light amber and has a warm, oxidised nose with aromas of honey, nuts and dried fruits such as peaches and raisins with some smokiness. It is medium bodied and medium dry with aromas of dried fruit, licorice and bitter. The aftertaste is long with some yeast and a nice burnt tones. Perhaps not a sherry that will give you goosebumps and multiple orgasms, however, it is a sherry for dining and well worth its paltry 49 dollars.

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October 21, 2010

Paon Restaurant and Wine Bar

It is not uncommon for people to grow up in a community and then leave, only to return years later, a little wiser, horizons expanded and ready to contribute back to the place that gave them their start. Such is the case for Steve Barr, who came up through the local schools, claims the Boys & Girls Club as his "day care" and grubbed at Novak’s Burgers. In short, a true Carlsbadian.

After 30 years in the restaurant business – 15 of those spent managing a top Zagat-rated establishment in San Diego – Barr’s yearnings kept leading him home to the streets of Carlsbad Village, with a vision for a very swank, but comfortable establishment that would offer a truly unique and upscale dining experience.

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Blair Athol 1989

October 7, 2010

Blair Athol 1989

Blair Athol 1989

A local version of this name was often given to a country’s native distilled spirit – Russian zhizennia voda, French eau de vie, and Scandinavian akevitt to cite just a few well-known examples.

In Scotland, the Gaelic translation was uisge beatha ( pronounced "ooshkie-bayha" ) which became known as whiskie in the early 1700’s and first appeared in the modern form we all know and love (whisky) around 1736. One such aqua vitea of exceptional note is Blair Athol 1989 from the Blair Athol Distillery.

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August 16, 2010

St. Francis

All of California considers itself a wine culture. Franciscans opened California’s first winery in 1783 at San Juan Capistrano [compared with France’s history of viticulture dating back to the Greek settlement at Marseille in the 6th century B.C.E.]. Despite their disdain for the French, the SoCal elite [and I need not point out that everyone in SoCal considers himself elite] espouses their worst purported quality – snobbery – especially when wine is at stake…

 

California’s wine rivalry with the French is exactly that of a nouveau riche industrialist with Old World nobility. The whole country may suffer from delusions of merit when it comes to the comparative worth of all things American, but in SoCal, it really is true that if new money can’t buy a thing, it has no value.

 

And SoCal purchases a helluva lot of wine from itself – it’s the nation’s largest wine consumer; 60,000 wine labels are registered in California. It also purchases Argentinean Malbecs, Chilean Cabernets, Spanish Riojas, and even a few German Reislings. But the only French wine a SoCalian would be caught dead drinking is a Sauternes – and that just for novelty, since dessert wines are definitely de trop [O the calories! Horrors!].

 

Try to find a Spanish jerez or orujo, a Kirsch, or an unassuming, hearty Chianti. You’ll be disappointed. You’ll be mocked. No deviations from the strict tastes of the fashionable are allowed. Gods forbid you prefer Scotch. Despite its significantly lower calorie count, even the most diet-conscious SoCalian, concerned as he is with his own image, regards it with a mixture of suspicion and contempt. A society wino who throws back a bottle of wine an hour will whisper of the person who nurses one excellent single-malt all night, "Alcoholic. "

 

For a few months, I lived with one of the worst SoCal snobs of them all. He was a social climber from the high desert who cared about nothing more than maintaining his [totally false] image as a gentleman of wealth and taste. As with most SoCalians, he was mortgaged to the hilt on a multi-million-dollar La Jolla property and an Oregon ranch, juggling debts that would make a Midwesterner jump off a bridge, and had based his ideas of taste on real estate staging handbooks.

 

I fled his dungeon-like estate once I realized he’d only been charming to me until he convinced me to move in, a move I later discovered was predicated on my replacing his housekeeper, pool boy, and gardener at no cost. The bastard even asked me to take over for his preggo secretary without pay! [Have I mentioned SoCal men are cheaper and meaner than six-fingered Scots with loan sharks to pay?].

 

This man – I’ll call him Chuck [because it’s my fondest dream to see him ground] – chose his friends using only one criterion: Could they advance and/or legitimize his social standing? If the answer was yes, he treated them like gods. If the answer was no, they ceased to exist, unless and until they had something he needed, like discounted construction work [Jeremiah the contractor] or free cigarettes with no chance of his La Jolla friends discovering his habit [Mike the Chaldean liquor store owner].

 

Chuck had a pair of friends with a fantastic wine closet. They were a seventy year-old former business mogul down on his luck ["we almost had to sell the Ferrari"] and his forty year-old former Miss Illinois wife, the Oberlins. The wine closet was a room roughly the size of my studio in Chicago [but with higher ceilings] and had huge wooden doors that had been salvaged from a church in Provence and imported via private carrier to SoCal. Their home had a music salon complete with grand piano, harp, and cello, none of which any of its residents knew or cared how to play.

 

Oberlin, truly a gentleman and a scholar, wore the very worst wig I have ever seen, including Austin Powers’ chest wig. He must have been completely bald underneath, because that ragged gray mop covered every inch, hung down to his collar, and framed his face in the most unappealing manner possible, making him look a little like a shaggy opossum.

 

The Oberlins had a pair of friends they regularly included in our evenings together, the Pitts. The Pitts consisted of a nervous, anorexic wife who often fell asleep during dinner, and her swarthy, overbearing husband who told stories of running heroin in the 80’s and always tried to get me alone in a dark corner ["Hey Red, whatcha doin’ with Chuck anyway? Try yourself a real man"]. They were both in their fifties. The money had been her family’s, and was dwindling faster than the Colorado River in July.

 

Mrs. Pitts had opened a swank La Jolla restaurant with her brother five years before, and when it failed – utterly and quickly – the entire high-end wine stock had been transported in an unrefrigerated truck to a storage locker, where all 5,000 bottles still reside, the subject of a never-ending inter-sibling lawsuit. The Pitts spoke longingly of this wine, without fail, every time we got together. The Oberlins, upon hearing once more of the El Dorado-like storage locker, urged the Pitts to break in and steal as much of the prize stuff as they could carry. It was a running joke. Until it actually happened.

 

Pitt beamed, his eyes gleaming, at our next unbearably tedious outdoor dinner party poolside at the Oberlins’. He heaved a large wooden crate onto the dinner table, rattling the carefully informal place settings. "Turn off the patio heaters. This is important wine," he bellowed. Chuck and Oberlin rubbed their hands together with criminal glee while Mrs. Oberlin and I regarded each other with studied nonchalance and Mrs. Pitt stared at something only she could see, which was apparently zigging and zagging through the air over the border of potted dwarf orange trees surrounding us. The Pitts knew nothing about wine.

 

Under cover of night, they had used a locksmith’s saw to get into the storage locker which held the disputed stock. They had grabbed bottles indiscriminately. I can see them – he drunk, she on old-school amphetamines, dancing in their stunted Bacchanal before running off like rats into the shadows. We opened every bottle that night. None of it was of any value, and some of it had "turned," rendering it undrinkable even by the most tasteless of people [in other words, not even Chuck could get it down].

 

The last bottle was taken from the crate. Oberlin trembled. "Gimme that bottle," he barked, showing off the social graces he’d earned with his G. E. D. "My fucking God," he said. "This is a 1964 Chateau Latour. "And so it was. A stunner of a bottle from the legendary vineyard America first discovered in 1787 through its then-ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson [who, by the way, liked the French].

 

A classic red from one of the most highly regarded French winemakers of all time. Treasure. Even to a Californian. Oberlin did the honors. He eased the cork from the deep green neck of the 40-plus year-old bottle. The table was quiet except for the snoring of Louis Vuitton the Papillion [his actual name], who had chosen a seat on my lap.

 

Oberlin poured each of us a glass of the blood-red vintage with as much solemnity as a priest preparing for Communion. We all brought our glasses to our noses to test the bouquet of this once-in-a-lifetime wine. We all inhaled deeply, swirling the balloon goblets. We all cried out some version of "Sweet Mary, Mother of Jehovah, did unwashed ferrets mate inside that bottle?" The stench was unholy. The 1964 Latour had turned.

 

Chuck and Pitt drank it anyway, because their cheapskate natures couldn’t let it go to waste. They spent the next two days with migraines, kneeling over designer porcelain toilet bowls set into travertine floors, puking their SoCal guts out. Score two for the French.

Jen-Marie Merriman is a renegade Midwesterner living in SoCal who writes fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. She despises children and is saving for a tubal ligation [donations accepted]. She can be reached at her email: [email protected], with PayPal and missives, and her work is also online at http://socaloutsider.blogspot.com

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