Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Old City, New Game in Town



A study in mixed-ingredient layers in pousse-cafés and an origin story about how I got Serious with mixology.

I've gotten to be known as the go-to mixologist around my office. Some of my colleagues homebrew for company happy hours, some are wine aficionados. Me? My motto is "never have the same drink twice!" Still, it was somewhat of a surprise to be asked to concoct a cocktail or two (or three) for my company's 10th anniversary party last summer. (in addition to a special batch from our homebrewers and then a wine-tasting with dinner. Yeeahh..) (anyone want to come work for us?)

The 10th anniversary topic itself isn't that strong a muse: tin and daffodils, mainly. So going beyond that, one of the things I wanted to do with one of these drinks was hearken back to our earlier days when we were a scrappy little office in Old City Philly. As a specialized vendor in the pharmaceutical sector, one of our passions has been to utilize the latest technology in order to bring efficiency and quality to an industry that typically plods. This programmer will always carry a torch for controlling all aspects of a study with the press of a button controlled by my MIND! NyeeHAhahaHAhahaha! this.

As you may have deduced, this is how I came to the Old City, New Game in Town theme. Translated to flavors: coffee and blackberries.

Old City Coffee is a well-loved Philadelphia institution, located a stone's throw from historic Christ Church (and we were particularly fond of the beans while established just a couple blocks away). Blackberry? Well, if you're reading this blog post in 2016 or later, you might be scratching your head to the big deal, but back in 2004 Blackberry phones were still the height of tech.

The two flavors together? If blueberries and coffee are beautiful, these two should be mind-blowing. Bringing these two specific flavors together in a shot? Conundrum.

Shots, particularly of the layered variety, tend only to use liquors and liqueurs. Managing the specific gravities of individual ingredients is hard enough without introducing the inexact uncertainties of mixed-ingredient layers - all the more so with homemade ingredients and regional milkfat variations in dairy products. But how else to bring in Old City Coffee? Using Tia Maria, Kahlua, et al, just doesn't get at the meaning that can be conveyed by the coffee-itself. Not to mention, blackberry brandy and blackberry schnapps aren't the best well-rounded blackberry flavors either.

So how to marry thin, non-alcoholic coffee to a robust blackberry flavor (with alcohol in the mix)? It took some experimentation, but there was success. As it's somewhat rare to do mixed-ingredient layers for shots, here's my ingredient list and notes on each. Hopefully the notes may be of some use to any mixologists reading.


Coffee layer:

Old City Coffee, Old City Blend (a slightly dark mild roast - classic coffee ice cream flavor with the addition of cream) - brewed double strength: flavor potency, 'nuff said.

E&J Cask and Cream liqueur: to balance the shot, the coffee layer needs alcohol and body. Coffee liqueurs would only detract from the OCC flavor. A Cream liqueur easily provides both. Choosing between brandy-based Cask and Cream and rum-based Tres Leches, C&C's brandy pairs well with coffee and matches with blackberry. In practice, the rich flavor of C&C yields to the coffee, the milkfat and sugar makes the coffee flavor more accessible and the alcohol helps the layer hold its own, all preventing it from becoming lost in the burst of blackberry.


Blackberry layer:

Black Haus blackberry schnapps: the schnapps is needed to give the layer some alcohol and further enhances the blackberry flavor. Thanks to its high proof not much is needed and an overbearing alcohol flavor may be avoided.

Blackberry Sauce: you can't get a better flavor than making this quick sauce/syrup yourself with fresh blackberries. In a pinch, Monin Blackberry Syrup may work, though (haven't tried this, not sure where to find it locally [EDIT: (04-03-2012) I saw some in a trek to HomeGoods tonight. It looks like it has potent flavor, but much too thin for the purposes here. It would completely throw off the ratio.]). Don't be afraid about reducing this: a dense syrup will better enable layering.

Half-and-half: something creamy is needed to moderate the sharp blackberry flavors, mediate with the coffee layer, and to act as a base for the blackberry layer. The syrup provides enough density to ensure this will be the bottom layer, and without the base the blackberry flavor may well stick to the glass instead of flowing to an eagerly-waiting mouth. Using Cask and Cream again sounds like a good idea, but the result curdles (not to mention, using the same ingredient in multiple layers can lead to layer-blurring). As for other options, I tried heavy cream at first, but the cream coated the tongue, kept the layers from mixing well in the mouth and diminished an otherwise intense flavor. Second choice? Half-and-half. Call it the Gelato Principle.


When preparing this recipe, well, we're doing shots here. Presumably you're serving many or yourself many times. A rough estimate of how much of each layer needed will probably serve you better, and you can then extrapolate individual ingredient amounts by the ratios provided.

For the coffee layer mix together 1 part double-brewed coffee, 1 part Cask and Cream.

For the blackberry layer, mix together 2 parts Black Haus, 3 parts blackberry sauce, and 4 parts half-and-half.

Into a shot glass, first dispense 1/2 oz blackberry then 1/2 oz coffee.

Serve chilled.

Taste result? A liquid truffle.


With creamy layers, does this drink become
a Mousse-Café?
Notes:
  • When making layered shots, particularly when said layers involve mixtures of ingredients, it's helpful to get some clear plastic condiment bottles for easy mixing and dispensing (Bed, Bath and Beyond: $2 each; dollar store: probably much less). These bottles are also space-saving when prepping/chilling ahead of time. With their pour spouts, you shouldn't even need a spoon to make your layers, provided the layers' specific gravities vary well enough. Excellent tools for mass production.
  • Suggestion for future experiments along these lines? Mixed ingredient layers seem to function best when utilizing ingredients that are suspensions (dairy, juices, etc..), the thinking being suspensions have a material construction which allows for the absorption of extra unrelated particles in the same way they already house free-floating unrelated particles - the Chocolate Milk principle.



[I'm really setting a pattern here, aren't I? Roses, cream, roses, cream. Completely unintentional play-by-ear. Next week, a proper light something for spring. And then? We take a trip downwards with the White Rabbit, just in time for Easter.]

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Rose

Hi dear reader: watch me peak early! [WARNING: Art Drink ahead. If you thought I was analytical before..]

So, I've been a bit slow on the recipe roll-out. Hit some road blocks after the initial week and prep for this recipe wound up being even more extensive than previously thought. But, to stretch the whole start-up theme, I'm going to continue extending roses to cocktail sites, which, as far as blog starter traffic strategies go, probably isn't that bad a thing, if not wholly intentional. (oh, and HEY! It's mid-Spring Day! We can use that!)

Back in February, I published a rough ingredient list of this cocktail, tweeted to and retweeted by @Liquor (Liquor.com).* Let's get the full recipe up now that I've refined to 98%. We're sticking, not only with the rose theme, but Gran Centenario Rosangel hibiscus-infused reposado tequila

*[and on a personal note, should anyone from Liquor.com read this: amateur home mixologist here. To me this blog is mostly a public journal of my best efforts, with lots of thoughts and notes along the way. I appreciate the retweet last time, but - goodness - the best of the best contribute to your site and I am not fit to polish their shakers (yet). So while I'm sure to tweet a link of this post your way as a follow-up, Twitter "insta-fame" means much less to me than concocting a good enduring, meaningful drink (heck, I'd much rather have my best recipe shot down/tweaked by an experienced pro if I learn something in the process). I'm not all that certain this recipe is retweet-worthy yet. #whatcouldntbesaidin140characters]

Now then, I admit, it's pretty brazen to call a drink something so on-the-nose, no-room-for-other-possibilities as The Rose. Why not, in this case, "Rosa Flores" for the tequila and the non-rose florals? Or some other modifier (which, I am open to if something crosses your mind)? Though then again, what else can you possibly call a cocktail where you're trying to replicate the full sensual experience of a real rose?

This recipe is actually based on one of my oldest, much more girly-girl formulas from Before I Got Serious With Mixology (hereafter known as BIGSWiM). I had fallen in love with reposado tequila at first sip - the first spirit I ever bought - and was keen to try it in margarita flavors other than lime and strawberry, the more unique the better. Browsing through online recipes, I came across a "Rose Margarita" and was offended by its sheer lack of imagination: a regular lime margarita with a dash of rose water. I think if you're going to make a Rose Margarita, it better be complete in its rose-ness. After much experimentation, I came close to the recipe below. Not understanding the function of acidity, I had swapped the lime in the margarita base for other juice: red plum and a touch of (dewy) apple, the flavors of which survived into more sophisticated ingredients.

Just to note: I'm consigning my original Rose Margarita recipe to history, and this revisionist effort has grown beyond the scope of a Margarita. But come Cinco de Mayo I'll post a much more classic-formula Rose Margarita (and complete my Rose trilogy, to boot) now that I've learned a thing or two about tequila.




The Rose

1 1/2 oz Gran Centenario Rosangel reposado tequila
1 oz calvados
1/2 oz Plymouth sloe gin
1/4 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
2 dashes plum bitters
1 piece Meyer lemon zest


Prepare the coupe glass by chilling it, then rubbing the Meyer lemon zest around the rim and inside. Reserve zest.

Stir all liquid ingredients with ice (STIR! do not shake! but give it a proper dilution to let the ingredients breathe).

Strain into the prepared coupe.

Twist Meyer lemon zest over top, maybe give it a quick swirl in the drink, and discard.

Garnish with a rose-related item (a forked sprig of mini roses, baby's breath, a few tasteful large rose petals, etc..).

Hail Aphrodite.


Notes:
  1. The Rosangel is quite the muse-object. Here it contributes a rosy musk to the equation: the low notes. Should Rosangel be unavailable, I would stick with another quality reposado, Gran Centenario if at all possible. Milagro might be an option, as it has a delicate floral body, though whether that would hold up to the other ingredients is a question. Reposado itself lends a (feminine) taste-image of wood like soft doe skin or suede, and I can't think of any other base spirit in my mental list of references, save perhaps Irish whiskey, which approximates. (! oh dang, now I have to do an Irish Rose recipe..) Regardless, any other spirit than Rosangel will require an hibiscus or other musk-y floral addition.
  2. Ever stick your nose into a bunch of roses only to inhale a big apple scent? Did you know roses and apples are members of the Rosaceae family (sloes and plums too)? Calvados, in addition to its apple notes, provides body and a dryness which balances against the next two ingredients.
    • I used Boulard Grand Solage Calvados Pays d'Auge VSOP (the only calvados I've bought/tasted thus far). In testing, this calvados proved muscle-y and hot, which I found could be restrained by decanting ahead of time. Whenever I next stock up on calvados, I might see how the XO expression works here. I also tested this recipe subbing Courvoisier VSOP cognac; the result was more delicate, in line with the flower, but without the right apple notes. At any rate, for those playing around with the formula, given Rosangel is aged in French Limosin white oak barrels, a French brandy should be a natural match.
  3. Sloe gin also contributes to the body, pulls the color back from calvados-gold, and provides acidity. The faint botanicals of the base gin are like sepals. If you don't use a good quality sloe gin like Plymouth or Bitter Truth (some adjustment may be required for this brand), this recipe will not work.
  4. St. Germain brings the floral high notes. Careful not to overdo as it is both delicate and potent, and rather sweet. Florals can quickly overwhelm the palate too.
    • Note for other cocktails: the sloe gin alone added to the St. Germain "rosies it up" so to speak, in both nose and palate (and color). This may be a useful combo for other concoctions, where "rose" is desired but not rose water.
  5. Plum bitters are a natural fit: they help play up the sloe gin's acidity and their Christmas-spiciness also boosts the floral notes, all while receding into the background. I thought lemon bitters would be needed here, but a single dash dominated the flavor. Fortunately, in my final test, I happened to have a fresh Meyer lemon handy for another experiment, and the zest's oils are a nice subtle bit of acid and floral. Apparently the more the fruit "blushes", the more floral notes you'll get.
      The resulting cocktail is, for something so floral, quite quaffable. I omitted the rose water dash included in my tweeted ingredients - in the end that seemed to, er, gild the lily. It too easily dominates when the spirit ingredients on their own do so much to achieve rose-ness. Frankly, I'm proud of this bit of alchemy derived from more common straight-out-the-bottle ingredients. It leads to repeatability and endurance.

      All that said, I reserve the right to come back to this recipe should I happen upon better ingredients. Even for the years of development already put in, this is one where the platonic ideal is so. darn. close. (like I said way up above: I think the recipe's 98% there right now) And for all the potential ingredients out there, I don't yet have certain knowledge. Versioning of this, and all other recipes, will occur in separate posts for each version, with a ", take #" in the title.

      For this cocktail in particular, please, I would adore any thoughts, criticisms, modifications you might have, even if it's just a line in the comments, 20 years after the post-date. Commenters rock!

      Would you believe I have a thing for elegance?


      [Edited, 03-23-2012, to improve first picture quality (brightness, color accuracy).

      And also just to note, I'm aware I probably come off a bit confused about the quality of this drink. Instead of issuing a rambling apologetic - heaven knows this post is too long already - I'll just say: I mean everything I wrote. And if you stick with me, you may begin to see the method to my madness, in long-form narrative.]

      Saturday, March 17, 2012

      Spanish Lady

      [We interrupt our previous slow-as-molasses blog roll-out to bring you a modest recipe for St. Patty's Day today. We will continue our previous slow-as-molasses blog roll-out Monday, now that we've found some darn mini-roses!]


      Spanish Lady 
       
      As I came down through Dublin City
      At the hour of twelve at night
      Who should I see but the Spanish lady
      Washing her feet by candlelight
      First she washed them, then she dried them
      Over a fire of amber coal
      In all my life I ne'er did see
      A maid so sweet about the sole

      Whack for the toora loora laddy
      Whack for the toora loora lay
      Whack for the toora loora laddy
      Whack for the toora loora lay

      As I came back through Dublin City
      At the hour of half past eight
      Who should I spy but the Spanish lady
      Brushing her hair in the broad daylight
      First she tossed it, then she brushed it
      On her lap was a silver comb
      In all my life I ne'er did see
      A maid so fair since I did roam

      Whack for the toora loora laddy
      Whack for the toora loora lay
      Whack for the toora loora laddy
      Whack for the toora loora lay

      As I went back through Dublin City
      As the sun began to set
      Who should I spy but the Spanish lady
      Catching a moth in a golden net
      When she saw me, then she fled me
      Lifting her petticoat over her knee
      In all my life I ne'er did see
      A maid so shy as the Spanish lady

      Whack for the toora loora laddy
      Whack for the toora loora lay
      Whack for the toora loora laddy
      Whack for the toora loora lay


      In Ireland, silver combs were often regarded as tokens of the Banshee. Never pick one up that you see lying in the road, because you'll be swept away, never to be seen again. In the case of the Spanish Lady, with a silver comb in her lap, surely she must be a Banshee in disguise! (don't call her Shirley - she'll scream)

      Of course, there's another type of Banshee*, but I didn't realize that until recently. [The train of thought went: Irish Rose-Spanish Rose-Spanish Lady (whack for the toora loora laddy!)-hey that'd be a nice cocktail name for St. Paddy's Day-Google Spanish Lady cocktail-Google Banshee cocktail]
      *popularized but not created by Nick Castrogiovanni of Nick's Big Train Bar in New Orleans

      But anyway, right there the cocktail practically makes itself. A Banshee with a Spanish twist? Either sub out the cacao or the banana liqueur for Licor 43. Ok, but what's the character of the Banshee, then? Which sub is going to going to preserve its character? Without the banana, you're looking at a Brandy Alexander or Grasshopper set-up with the cream/cacao, and it's much more generic. The banana clearly has a part to play, so au revoir crème de cacao, bienvenido Licor 43.

      But a moment more before the recipe. To overthink things - and just put some ideas out there - it still feels like the banana character could use some exploration. It probably is as simple as the Banana/Banshee name similarity, that's certainly common enough practice. Most of the online research I've done points to that. Wikipedia will even ask if, on searching for "Banshee cocktail", you meant "banane cocktail." My own reflection suggests there's something to the way (cold) banana flavor hits the back of the mouth and throat, emphasizing sensation there not unlike the feel of screaming like a banshee. And also, it has been noted that Irish whiskey in general has a "telltale banana character", suggested due to aging in ex-bourbon barrels [hat-tip: @intoxicologist]. How ideal.


       
      Spanish Lady
       
      1 part banana liqueur
      1 part Licor 43
      1 part cream or half-and-half


      Shake ferociously on ice (a nice frothy white head will form to contrast the cream-colored drink). 

      Strain into frosty, misty rocks glass. 

      Garnish with, what else? A silver comb.



      The Banshee in disguise.





      Notes:
      • Licor 43's citrus and vanilla dance quite naturally with banana. In testing, using Jacquin's, both liqueurs are somewhat syrupy, but neither overpowers the other and you can get distinct notes from both as they weave in and out.
      • To lengthen the drink: add an extra part dairy, milk if you prefer to manage the milkfat.
      • To kick up the recipe: add an extra part Irish whiskey. In testing, Tullamore Dew goes well with the banana, though I'm sure Jameson and other brands will work just as well.
      • Fittingly, given this is a dessert drink, Spanish Lady is also a song typically used for encores in Celtic Woman concerts.

      Monday, March 5, 2012

      Everything's Coming Up Roses

      In honor of the Customer Service folks at KegWorks.com.


      LIBATIONS!


      Once upon a time, this one little muse was refining her pièce de résistance: The Rose.

      2 oz Gran Centenario Rosangel reposado tequila

      "Oh my, that's lovely," she thought. "But it could stand for some more acidity to enunciate the flavor. Yet I don't want to add lemon or other citrus juice.."

      slightly more than 1/4 oz sweet vermouth

      The muse then remembered how a few good dashes of orange bitters (Fee Bros., for those wondering) had enhanced the acidity of another cocktail just that week. "To the interwebs!" she cried. For, you see, this muse lived in a land where the spirits were not permitted to roam free at market, and the little bitters which had once frolicked under moonshine with the spirits and cordials, instead dashed away in fright. But, she knew where beyond the borderlands she could obtain them. A few clicks and a tacka-tacka-tacka later, the lemon bitters she so craved for her recipe, as well a host of other bitters to accompany, had mounted up and set off on a perilous quest to her doorstep.

      slightly less than 1/4 oz dry vermouth

      They made quick work - not even 4 whole days had passed when the muse found them squatting on her stairs. She eagerly took them in and helped remove their journey-wear, but as she did, she studied one's label. "I don't think I ordered you," the muse said.

      one dash Grapefruit bitters, Fee Bros.

      "Well, um, we had an incident along the way," drawled Old-Fashioned Aromatic.

      "Yeah," piped Mint, "we were accosted by a rampaging Kumquat Beast. Y'know, the kind that eat bark and make weird faces?"

      "It took Lemon!" exclaimed a glum Plum.

      "But not to worry," said Gary Regan (a big No. 6 around his neck). "I sent word back and they've sent out a search party. Lemon's a good'un. Just you wait and see."

      "Okay," nodded she. "But where'd you find this guy then?" setting Grapefruit down, who, up until this point, had been waiting patiently in her hand while broadly clenching his teeth in something resembling a smile, but now began to inch towards the liquor cabinet while muttering in a pirate-like accent.

      "Facing off against another Kumquat Beast," offered Old-Fashioned Aromatic. "Was bruisin' it mighty fierce when we showed up." ["To win against the enemy, you must be-Kumquat the enemy! Arr..!"] "We figured we should keep the funky wild-bitter close after Lemon.."

      "Arr, ye swabby dogs! Moisten the decks and.."

      "Ooh-kay then..", said the muse. "We'll just hang tight until we find out about Lemon."


      They did not, in fact, have to wait long at all, just a weekend (and a good thing too. Grapefruit had quickly picked a fight with Sailor Jerry then paired up with the bottle of vodka in the muse's cabinet Saturday night and was now asking her to get some cranberry juice in to "make it a Trio"). On noon of that Monday, a grizzled but quite intact bottle walked through the front door.

      one dash Lemon bitters, Fee Bros.

      Carrying the smiling head of the Kumquat Beast on a stick.

      Everyone gasped. ["Ah thinka maya squirted a wee bit!" "You're a bottle of bitters, you're supposed to do that!" "Since when did you go Scottish, mate?" "Go wash up, you'll feel fresca."]

      "Lemon! You made it! What happened?" said Mint.

      "Well, after the beast got me, he dragged me back to his lair. I don't even want to think about his plans for me. When I awoke, he was in an argument with his mother-in-law. Apparently his name is Pietro. After she left, I zinged him good."

      "But wait, you did this all by yourself? We sent the Bittermens after you!" cried Gary Regan.

      "Oh, I met up with them after. I imagine they're off to the next big thing by now."

      "And," said Lemon, turning towards the muse. "They say you should keep Grapefruit. Between the two of us, you'll never have to worry about Kumquat Beasts."

      "You know," the muse said, proudly looking around at her new acquisitions.  "I think we can do something quite nice with all of you..."

      Everything's Coming Up Roses
      2 oz Gran Centenario Rosangel reposado tequila
      slightly more than 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
      slightly less than 1/4 oz dry vermouth
      one dash Grapefruit bitters, Fee Bros.
      one dash Lemon bitters, Fee Bros.

      Shake on ice until quite cold.
      Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
      Garnish with the head of Pietro the Smiley-Faced Kumquat Beast on a pike.
      Savor the bouquet.


      (NOTE: Pietro, the Smiley-Faced Kumquat, isn't just a fun visual. The complex citrus and spice oils he imparts are a surprisingly good match for the resulting drink. No worries if you don't want to do his clove-eyes and cinnamon-stick mouth. You can still flame his head if you prefer.)

      I can't start posting recipes on here without first properly thanking the crew at KegWorks for that small bit of generosity and their help with the order mix-up - call me naïve of business practices, but I was expecting to exchange the grapefruit bitters back rather than keep them. In light of that, I offer you this aromatic bouquet in thanks. As with the original order, it's not quite perfect, but I really like how it turned out in the end. Cheers!

      Never underestimate what a good set of bitters can do!

      Sunday, March 4, 2012

      Welcome

      ἑστίη, ἣ πάντων ἐν δώμασιν ὑψηλοῖσιν
      ἀθανάτων τε θεῶν χαμαὶ ἐρχομένων τ᾽ ἀνθρώπων
      ἕδρην ἀίδιον ἔλαχες, πρεσβηίδα τιμήν,
      καλὸν ἔχουσα γέρας καὶ τίμιον: οὐ γὰρ ἄτερ σοῦ
      εἰλαπίναι θνητοῖσιν, ἵν᾽ οὐ πρώτῃ πυμάτῃ τε
      Ἑστίῃ ἀρχόμενος σπένδει μελιηδέα οἶνον:

      καὶ σύ μοι, Ἀργειφόντα, Διὸς καὶ Μαιάδος υἱέ,
      ἄγγελε τῶν μακάρων, χρυσόρραπι, δῶτορ ἐάων,
      ἵλαος ὢν ἐπάρηγε σὺν αἰδοίῃ τε φίλῃ τε.
      ναίετε δώματα καλά, φίλα φρεσὶν ἀλλήλοισιν
      εἰδότες: ἀμφότεροι γὰρ ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων
      εἰδότες ἔργματα καλὰ νόῳ θ᾽ ἕσπεσθε καὶ ἥβῃ.

      χαῖρε, Κρόνου θύγατερ, σύ τε καὶ χρυσόρραπις Ἑρμῆς:
      αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ὑμέων τε καὶ ἄλλης μνήσομ᾽ ἀοιδῆς.

       Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet, -- where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last.

      And you, slayer of Argus, Son of Zeus and Maia, messenger of the blessed gods, bearer of the golden rod, giver of good, be favourable and help us, you and Hestia, the worshipful and dear. Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength.

      Hail, Daughter of Cronos, and you also, Hermes, bearer of the golden rod! Now I will remember you and another song also.
      --Second Homeric Hymn to Hestia, translation by Evelyn-White

      Hail Ἑστια, οὐσία, ἐσσία. She that Is. Chief of the goddesses. Yet, humble and modest, you yielded your seat in the Pantheon to your nephew, Dionysus. Still, because you Are, you remain, if but filtered through οἶνος. Distill it, and we find you.

      Hail Ἑρμῆς Διακτορος, Ἑρμῆς Κυλλενιος. God of Words, the Internet is yours. May my words be worthy of your domain and grant me blessings so related. Your favor gives all men's work what grace it has and what praise it wins. ´Ιμβραμος, bring your φιάλη and enjoy my recipes!


      Because the initiation of any new blog requires a proper invocation - a great big bottle of Dom smashed across the bow.

      Please, mind the chintz decor. It'll be antique soon enough. But for now it's down-home and warm, just the way I like it. And pull up a nice overstuffed armchair to the fire (the doily it came with, you can fling any which way, preferably out of sight). I may be ancient -30!- but let's not get ridiculous with the macramé.

      I haven't yet gotten highly technical with this blog. If you run into any issues, please shoot me a line and I'll try to make improvements.

      But, now. Comfy? Can I make you a drink?