Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advil Calendar 2013 EXCITING GUEST WEDNESDAY Part Deux: The Exciting Guest Strikes Back!

You're going to say I'm lazy and I'm going to say... hold on. Honey, could you reach me my beer? Well ok obviously I am lazy, but not in this case. Okay kinda. Anyway.

I had the idea for Exciting Guest Wednesday a month or so ago, when I first decided to Advil it up again this year after a one-year hiatus. I solicited drinks recipes from friends, relations, business contacts, and the vermin who live beneath the porch. (Nobody wants that drink, by the way.)

And as I was getting together some of those recipes for today, I realized that the best drinksman I know, the person who makes me the most inventive, best-proportioned cocktails I've ever drink-drank-drunked - was sitting right next to me!



Without further ado (except for some minor edits on my part and a few comments and also I put in the pictures)...

Bob says:
We visited Peru this Summer, my charming neighborhood librarian family and I. Despite the occasional altitude or intestinal adjustment by some of us, it is an amazing place. I can go on and about it, just ask me.

But for today’s purposes, I'll skip all the rest [by "the rest" he means the astonishing cultural diversity, the mind-blowing geography, thousands of years of civilization, excellent food, and llamas - YNL] and present to you: the Pisco Sour!

The Spanish brought so much to the Americas: Christianity, genocide, excellent plazas and urban public spaces, plague, olives. Olives were a nice surprise about that country: excellent olives. This orchard in Lima is reliably (or at least consistently) said to be the first olives planted in the Americas, dating to the 1500s. 

And they brought wine. And wine begat brandy.

And in the dry warm Southern expanses of Peru, brandy begat Pisco! Pisco is a clear distilled sweet strong grape brandy. In the puro form, it can be taken straight (not unlike tequila) but it is fairly strong (again not unlike tequila), being classified as an aguardiente -which I am guessing means something akin to firewater.

In the 1920’s, so the legend goes, American bartender Victor Morris started making pisco cocktails at his golden age hotel bar applying techniques of the era, improvising from a whiskey sour, blending in egg whites to finally strike on what became the Pisco Sour. Genius!

2 fl oz Pisco
1 fl oz key lime or lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
1 egg white.

Shake hard or blend with ice and strain into Old Fashioned glass.
Top with Amargo Chuncho bitters.

It is a great cocktail: sweet, deceptively strong, the Peruvian bitters have a cinnamon-y taste. (Oh and Chile and its claims on the history can kiss my Chuncho-loving ass.)

We had one with my friend TDub at this enormous kind of fancy/casual place in Lima;

[That purple shit in the glass? Chicha. Made from fermented purple corn,
it tastes like if Coke and mulled wine had a baby.
Actually it tastes like the afterbirth of if Coke and mulled wine had a baby. - YNL]

I had one at the cook-your-own-steak-on-a-rock-the-temperature-of-the-sun place in Cusco;

[This was before the kitchen basically caught on fire and we had to flee.
You can see my drink in this picture - a caipirinha, also very good in Peru. - YNL]

I had one on the roof at the terrace place behind the white pumice-like stone Cathedral in Arequipa;

[Amazing ceviche in Arequipa. - YNL]

I had one pretty much whenever I could. Rarely if ever did I have two. Words never heard by Peruvian waiters from their managers: “push the drinks”. 

I also had a Colca Sour in which the simple syrup is replaced by juice of a cactus flower grown in the Colca Canyon region.

[He did not buy the Colca Sour from the wool lady but I didn't get a picture
of the Colca Sour lady, and this wool is pretty frickin amazing. - YNL]

It was great but I still feel guilty about buying it as we were at a tourist-trap street market on a tourist-trap tour, running low on soles and that leg of the trip was fraught with altitude/car sick child, creepy leering obsequious guide [who rubbed up against the lady with the sick child every time he passed by, oh and also almost certainly lied about the entrance fees to the WHATEVER WE WERE GOING TO SEE, which had to be paid in soles that he oh-for-damn-sure pocketed, resulting in the stressful cashlessness of that day AHEM CARLOS YOU PRICK - YNL], unknown next likelihood of food, threat of condor poop. 

Still the drink was appropriately grungy in a styrofoam cup and truly excellent.

A Pisco sour I didn't have was at the bar in the lodge we stayed at on the Amazon. We were about seventy-five klicks upriver from Iquitos. It was not Cambodia, and it was not classified, and we were supposed to be there, but otherwise it was just like that clip right above.


100% fewer visible wounds and audible fatalism in our video. Also, different continent. - YNL]

Our place was a pretty cushy spot with a hammock house, a scarlet macaw that yelled Hola! at the kids, a friendly tapir and a big center bldg for meals and lounging. I saw they had a bottle of Kahlúa on the shelf and I thought of Jeff.

[This is the lodge bar at the place upriver from Iquitos.
That empty glass with the pink straw? Pisco Sour, pretty sure.]

[Wait, JEFF? Jeff from the shelter? Jesus this is swinging wide just as badly as I do. - YNL]

Ol’  Jeff. Jeffy. El Jeffé. Jeff and I were “counselors” on swing shift together at a homeless shelter in Seattle Washington when I was fresh out of college about, uh, almost twenty five years ago. The quotes on counselors were not anecdotal; ours was more of a rules-enforcing role than a therapeutic one. The job was pretty stressful.

Beer guy. Also, from Ohio.
Not a lot of counseling. I lasted three years or so. Like shift workers everywhere, I suspect, we hung out mostly with one another as our 9-5 colleagues were usually not up for an 12:15 happy hour. 

I had been pretty much a beer guy to that point (and mostly since –keep reaching for the stars Bob!), so it was Jeff who provided a genuine grown-up entree to cocktails for me, or rather, one cocktail in particular: The Brandy Separator.

[Wife has a spasm right here and laughs for three minutes.]

1 shot Brandy
1 shot Kahlúa
.5 oz cream or milk in a pinch
Serve over ice in a low ball glass
adding the cream last.
(They will try to put vodka in there, don’t let them.)

That was your first real cocktail!?!” I know; it’s embarrassing, right? [YES] It is only now that I am comfortable enough in my manhood that I can admit this to just you and 700 more of my wife's closest friends.

The Brandy Separator, aka the Dirty White Mother. Nice.
Well Jeff was about six foot seven and had this messed-up acne scarred face. He was also nearly deaf which gave a certain aloof terse-ness to his interactions, I have come to think. Anyway, people didn't question his masculinity very often from what I noticed and the Separator was what Jeff drank.

Rain slickened nights at those shitty cocktail places behind curtains in random Asian restaurants by his place near SeaTac Airport (and what is up with that name anyway? famous favorite son or daughter naming opportunity here! How about Kurt Cobain International? The Jimi Hendrix Cross-continental Traffic Experience? Anything but Jeff Bezos Field.), I will have another, thank you. 

So Pisco is brandy, right? So Pisco and Kahlúa, plus cream would be a Separator! Jeff would be so proud!  I struggled in my broken Spanish to communicate with the barkeep at the lodge but pointing is pretty universal. It was the milk that was the hard part. ¿Leche? ¿Verdad? Convincing him to actually pour it in there took more gesticulations. I haven’t found Jeff on Facebook or analog means. I hope he is well somewhere.

I raised a glass to him there in the jungle that night. It was sweet and awesome. The only internet reference for this particular concoction I found in my exhaustive research was for the ‘White Peruvian’ at Tutuma, “the only jazz club and restaurant in New York that you can hear Afro Peruvian jazz music without a cover charge”. Tell ‘em Jeff sent you!

That's the mouth of José de San Martin,
liberator of Chile, Argentina, hell most of southern South America.
But the rest is all Bob's son.

Jesus Christ, he brought it back around. Whew! Also, that empty glass at the Adventurama or whatever it was called lodge bar was NOT an empty Pisco Sour. He was reminiscing about a giant semi-psycho hearing-impaired shelter worker in Seattle! OK THEN.

Tomorrow is Thursday and I think tomorrow is the day we will address a very serious subject. Ice. People do not understand ice, and you'd think, given that it's merely the solid state of one of the most common - and simplest - molecular compounds ON THE PLANET, they'd've figured out how to cool down my drink without turning it into weak slush by now. DEMAND BETTER ICE. I'm out.