Sunday, 15 January 2023

shaken, not stirred (10. 417)

Here’s a selection of signature martinis to fit every mood and every palette of this spirit animal constructed on the template of gin—or vodka—and vermouth plus a bit of garnish. Namesake of the special drink of patrons of the Occidental Hotel of San Francisco would be offered before embarking on the ferry to Martinez in Contra Costa, the cocktail has undertaken, with the famous variant occurring in a dialogue the spy has with a barman in Casino Royale, changing his order from a dry martini to a special recipe of his own invention. “Just a moment: three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet; shake it very well until its ice cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” Bond adds, “I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.” Later, he names it in honour of MI6 coworker and double-agent Vesper Lynd. Though perhaps with a bit less of provenance and backstory, we did nonetheless like the inverted variations of the Astoria and Lifetime Ban and elegant Martini Sauvage—gin with chinato liqueur and orange bitters, mixed and chilled overnight.

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

hot toddy (10. 383)

We quite enjoyed this guide to mastering canon of seasonal classics with instructions for serving the perfect Irish Coffee, Cafรฉ Brรปlot (to serve twenty-four: a bottle of Courvoisier, a bottle of Kirschwasser—cherry brandy, twenty whole cloves, orange zests, six cinnamon sticks, sugar syrup, a bottle of rum and a litre of strong French-roast coffee), the titular medical drink (brandy, lemon juice and ginger syrup) or the indulgent and outmoded Tom & Jerry nineteenth century punch (to serve our twenty-four: a kilogram of refined sugar, a bottle of cognac, a bottle of rum, a litre of whole milk with nutmeg, allspice, cloves and cream of tartar to taste). Click through at the links above for detailed recipes and more holiday libations.

Friday, 4 November 2022

8x8 (10. 271)

make it another, double, old-fashioned please: a definitive, festive guide to whisky cocktails 

born in arizona, moved to babylonia: a new book on the King Tut’s parents, Akhenaten and Nefertiti  

elf-on-the-shelf: the shrine to departed Dobby in a nature reserve can remain but visitors asked to refrain from leaving mementos  

planchette: the intersection between profit and superstition revisited with a look at the story of the Ouija borad—see previously  

toynbee tiles: an enduring urban myth—see previously  

they’ve got it all on uhf: Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliff appearing in musical biopic parody of Weird Al Yankovic (previously)  

palimpsest: peeling back the layers to rediscover ancient manuscripts recycled as early modern incunabula

limoncello: a doubly lemon aperitif in the ‘Amalfi Dream’

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

7x7 (10. 216)

negroni sbagliato: your guide to the new hot adult beverage  

naked eye: a gallery of some of the best images of microscopic photography from the past year 

aunt jess: a celebration of the life and career of Dame Angela Lansbury—see previously  

little big world: a tilt-shift tour of Mรผnchen and Oktoberfest

if pigs could fly: iconic Battersea Power Station reopens to the public as a luxury property development–via Things Magazine

mutual of omaha: superlative wildlife photography  

ss23: backless menswear suits seem to be here to stay

Sunday, 31 July 2022

8x8 (10. 027)

รฒgรณgรณrรณ: decolonising a West African palm sap spirit that unfairly unearned the reputation of a cheap gin substitute  

new delay for dover-calais tunnel likely: fleshing out the NYT headlines Stanley Kubrick had mocked up for 2001—via Waxy  

smaller footprint: updates on NEOM—the planned vertical skyscaper of Saudi Arabia  

hysterical urbanism: a counterpoint to the above—with several historical antecedents  

brominated vegetable oil: EU and Japan bans Mountain Dew and Fresca for ingredients that contribute to memory loss  

we intend to cause havoc: Andrew McGranahan’s psychedelic posters for Paul McCartney’s 2022 gigs and tours  

odonymy: an ongoing project revealing the origin of street names in Los Angeles—via Web Curios

mensascran: comparative studies of university and business cafeterias and canteens around the world—see also—via ibฤซdem

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

the moonwalk (10. 005)

To commemorate the lunar landing on this day in 1969, head barman at the Hotel Savoy’s American Bar Joe Gilmore created a champagne cocktail that ought to be revived, equal parts Grand Marnier and grapefruit juice with a dash of rosewater and topped with champagne. During Gilmore’s long tenure, spanning from when he came in as a trainee at the swanky London establishment in 1940 until his retirement in 1976, he invented many more cocktails for royalty, politicians and other celebrities—including the My Fair Lady to celebrate Julie Andrews’ opening night in the musical (equal parts gin, lemon juice, orange juice and sirop de fraise with a dash of egg white, shaken and strained) and the Link Up for the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975 (Southern Comfort and vodka, tempered with lime juice). More to explore at the links above.

Monday, 16 May 2022


dandelion wine: slow drinks made with our favourite noxious weed—see also  

give that wolf a banana and before that wolf eats my grandma: Norway’s Eurovision entry—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

stablecoin: the collapse of NFT and crypto markets 

 for every bear that ever there was: 1984 reportage of Keanu Reeves covering a teddy bear convention for the CBC—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

homeostatic awakening: new developments in the Fermi paradox—see previously here and here  

quattro bianchi: Italy’s answer to the Long Island Iced Tea packs a wallop

Sunday, 31 October 2021

dia do saci

 Designated by an NGO calling themselves amigos of this trickster character of Brazilian folklore to coincide with Halloween as a way to counter American cultural hegemony, the holiday, even where backed with state-support, only enjoys limited recognition and celebration—despite familiarity and popularity of its mascot.

The monopod figure with an enchanted cap and always smoking a pipe, mostly active at night, can be dangerous and malicious—though most pranks are merely annoying—but will grant the wishes of those who trap him or free him, liable to caught in a bottle while disappearing and reappearing in the midst of a whirlwind. Reportedly Saci’s magic cap, according to those who’ve tried to steal it, has an indelibly foul smell and those who’ve handled it can never wash the stench away.  Saci can be propitiated with offerings of a libation of cachaรงa and a measure of tobacco for his pipe.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

make it another old-fashioned please

We quite enjoyed this guided tour of the digitised holdings of the Wine and Spirits Museum of รŽle de Bendor in south France from Messy Messy Chic with a trans-Atlantic focus on the American invention—or convention rather of the cocktail in their extensive archive of vintage mixology guides from dating from the 1820s to the 1940s, richly illustrated and full to the brim with drinks and sometimes substitute ingredients that limn a certain slice of history.
There are volumes with celebrities’ favourites, menus of famous watering-holes, all gauged for home entertaining (perhaps for us scoff-laws), like the above and rather forlorn frontispiece from William C. Feery’s 1934 Wet Drinks…. for Dry People, which includes one called the Bee’s Knees, one part gin to one part honey, well-mixed and served over ice shavings. Each of the dazzling covers opens and lets one browse the recipes and other tips inside. Peruse these guides and let us know if you discover a new and intriguing favourite. Leave out the cherry, leave out the orange, leave out the bitters and just make it straight rye!

Friday, 13 August 2021


clink clink: a snappy little animated short of guests at cocktail hour 

samarkand: an East German couple’s tour of Uzbekistan fifty years ago with photography from 1971 and 2021  

expectation management: a comprehensive look into how the Delta variant changes the pandemic endgame—via Kottke  

noah’s violin: the twelve metre long wooden stringed instrument is a floating stage, inaugurated along with Project Moses to protect Venice from flooding  

the rural juror: a spoof streaming service (see also)—via JWZ  

the effect is shattering: a vodka advertising campaign that became a snow clone

Wednesday, 23 December 2020


the santaland diaries: a holiday classic from David Sedaris 

by jove: more on the complex system of Jupiter and its moons—including Valetudo, which crosses between the prograde and retrograde orbitals—see previously  

mimicry and mutualism: the monkey slug caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium, the larva of the hag moth) that evolved to resemble a tarantula  

where do i begin: Erich Segal’s Love Story at fifty

posse commmutatus: a fresh tranche of pardons (previously) from the outgoing and impeached Trump is an assault and insult on justice 

tree fm: for those who can’t readily go forest bathing or hug a perennial friend, tune into the soundscape of woods around the world—via Things Magazine  

pork-barrel politics: Trump frames riders in COVID aid bill as disgraceful after seven months of contentious negotiation, demands revision 

suggested serving: wintry cocktail and hot toddy recipes from eastern Europe

Saturday, 14 November 2020


The ever adventurous team of explorers at Atlas Obscura bring us the story of a university palรฆontologist celebrating his first published paper—on archaeopteryx feathers—was taken to commemorate his accomplishment with a signature cocktail for the occasion, sharing the recipe and toasting remotely with his friends and colleagues over a video conference call. Afterwards the hobby bartender was inspired to create more drinks honouring other prehistoric icons including Lucy and a ginkgo mimosa. What other dinosaur and dinosaur-adjacent cocktails might you mix up? Much more to discover at the link up top. Here’s a slightly modified version of the namesake drink of the Urvorgel (see previously) with appropriately German ingredients.

  • Two full shot-glasses (a shooter glass—three ounces) worth of black-berry or black currant (Schwarze Johannisbeere) soda or syrup 
  • One shot Jรคgermeister 
  • One shot lime juice 
  • One shot of Stone Fruit (Pfirsich oder รคhnliches) syrup 
  • One dash of activated charcoal plus 3 dashes of bitters 

Mix all the ingredients in a couple (a broader, shallow stemmed flute) glass, saving the charcoal for last and garnish with a black feather—the colour of the plumage (the cocktail by the same name is however brandy, Cointreau, vermouth plus bitters) being one of the conclusions drawn from the paper.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

scarlet gn

The above compound also known as Red Dye Number 4 (E number, European standard, E125—that’s a strange tale too) was banned for use in all foodstuffs or ingestibles—still used in cosmetics, by the US Food and Drug Administration when the chemical was found have carcinogenic properties including horrendously causing tumours in the bladders of dogs. Formerly cocktail maraschino cherries were exempt with the rationale that they were mostly decorative and not to be eaten.  There are now safe alternative but red-colouring is mostly avoided by association.

Monday, 24 August 2020

the cogito ergo zoom

Via JWZ, mindful that the upcoming fall semester, however classes are held, will be a challenging one for academics, we appreciated this growing list of cocktails from author and historian Philipp Stelzel. Pictured is the Inaccessible Archive:

6cl gin, 2cl green Chartreuse, 3cl fresh orange juice.
Stir and serve with an orange zest.

The recipe notes that the high cost of Chartreuse is offset by not having to go into the physical archives. The titular drink calls for bourbon, tart cherry juice, bitters and simple syrup. I don’t think precise measurements matter—just maintain the proper ratio. Many more to be found at the links up top.

Sunday, 5 July 2020


tรฉlรฉvision ล“il de demain: a prescient 1947 short about the future ubiquity of screens

zeus mode: alternative phone casings featuring accessories including a built-in stun gun

harvey wall-banger adjacent: click on grid mode to see how these cocktail ingredients compare—via Nag on the Lake’s always excellent Sunday Links

corona cosplay: understanding Americans’ aversion to wearing masks—via Duck Soup

we’ll celebrate once we have a reason to celebrate: revisiting (see also) Fredrick Douglass’ 5 July 1852 speech

ipertesto: Agostino Ramelli’s sixteenth century bookwheels recreated by modern designers

Friday, 21 February 2020


en nat pรฅ bloksbjerg: the incredible art work of Dutch illustrator Kay Nielsen—see previously, whom contributed to Fantasia but Disney let go

band camp: an overlooked and not unlistenable resource: Can This Even Be Called Music?—via Kicks Condor

theire soe admirable herbe: English colonist discover what the natives have been smoking in seventeenth century India

winter stations: interactive installations of Toronto’s beach to encourage outdoor play in the cold months

cabin-crew: the JFK retro TWA terminal hotel (previously) turns the body of a vintage jet into a bar and museum space

salon d’automne: a neural network trained on cubist art produces an infinite stream of paintings, via Waxy 

a parade of earthly delights: scenes from recent annual aquatic celebrations of Jheronimus Bosch (previously) held on the waters of ‘s-Herogenbosch—the next event begins in mid-June

Sunday, 15 December 2019


it putteth away dumpishness & sadness, and bringeth mirth: a 1559 recipe for mulled wine

fox and liberty forever: the chaotic General Election of 1790, the polling and purdah lasting from 16 June to 28 July, via Strange Company

the power of youth: the photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva behind the iconic image of Greta Thunberg’s TIME cover—we personally found this honour to be pretty moving as well

link in bio: the insidious nature of Walled Gardens (see previously) and social media’s attempts to corral the free Internet

the land of the asuras: a Buddhist monk leads a solemn ceremony to eulogise untaken time off from work in Japan—hardly done despite legislation that all workers take a minimum of five paid vacation days per year

๐Ÿ™€: this feline face filter underscores how poorly we understand our cats’ cognition

flight and blight: a survey of some of the historic character lost in New York City over the past decade

your branches green delight us: a tour of London’s Christmas trees 

Saturday, 2 November 2019

gilded age or singapore sling

Though a beautifully brooding building, Parkview Square of downtown Singapore, the office complex that hosts embassies and art galleries on its twenty-four storeys, also boasts a multi-level bar at its core, complete with a “library” of some thirteen-hundred varieties of gin from around the globe (the signature cocktail was invented at the venerable, nearby and more authentically Art Deco Raffles Hotel on Beach Road). Prior to acquiring its current theme—which offers no less of an experience, the space hosted a wine bar with the sommelier on duty magically hoisted up and down by a wire to retrieve bottles from the high stack of shelves.

Friday, 29 March 2019


von neumann probes: perhaps autonomous, self-replicating interstellar explorers are destroying each other, accounting for their lack of evidence

bahnhofsuhr: the iconic Swiss train station clock designed by Hans Hilfiker

dactylography: an interesting survey of ancient latent fingerprints and the scientific rigour of forensics

incidental music: a cocktail party version of the main Star Trek theme exists in the Star Trek universe

parclo interchange: the elegant engineering of Japanese freeway junctions from above

a rabbit’s revenge: a further study of the prevalence of bunnies committing violence on humans (previously) in medieval marginalia

breakfast at mondrian’s: studio Brani & Desi translate the Dutch artist’s geometric works to floors and furnishings in a concept apartment

aerography: huge rivers coursed across the Martian surface for billions of years, via Slashdot

Thursday, 6 December 2018


betamax xmas: we get reintroduced to a nostalgic, internet classic—via Waxy

optician sans: a sleek free font from ANTI Hamar and Fรกbio Duarte Martins

i heard you on the wireless back in ‘sixty-two: a whole universe of pre-MTV music videos

premiรจre arabesque: guitarist Kyle Schaefer arranges and performs Claude Debussy’s early masterpiece in progressive rock style

modernistmas: an updated gallery (previously) of Brutalist and Post Modernism gingerbread houses for the holidays