Podcast Episode 3

2 Bored Bartenders

I sit down with Neil to talk about classic cocktails we researched for our YouTube show 2BoredBartenders, and tell off-color stories. Because sometimes that’s what we do around here. Links below

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cryptic-cocktails/id1491610467#episodeGuid=39366a36-ba3e-49ba-b974-0ec4463c3f2f

Social (experiment) Drinking

Large ice cube is the worst choice for a Margarita.. but it was all I had at the moment!

We are currently part of a social experiment. Now, before you think I have gone off the conspiracy deep-end, it’s a de facto social experiment. I don’t believe that a shadow government of the new world order is behind the current pandemic, but a tidal wave of never-before-seen data is coming. Scientists from every field imaginable will study this moment in history for centuries. So, yes, this is a social experiment.

This little statistic went to market, this little statistic stayed home..

Personally, still riding high on the free time. Burning through Duolingo ‘high school’ level Spanish so I can get to the stuff I that actually need to practice. Their Chinese (Mandarin) lessons have improved quite a bit, so dusting off the neurons and synapses from that semester of it I took twenty years ago too. Man, time flies. SO THAT’S about twenty minutes of the day. Started a video series on cocktails and cocktail history with my roommate, since we’re uniquely qualified for that- he does the spirits knowledge and I focus on the cocktail history. It’s a good chance to practice video editing, even if I only have iMovie, it’s more than enough for my needs. It’s called 2BoredBartenders, and it’s on YouTube. Check it out. Even got a weird ghostly EVP that definitely was not either of us.. it’s about seven minutes in. Not surprised, there is some sort of power vortex around here or something.

Reading some Gurdjieff and Ouspensky through the filter of a fellow named ‘Red Hawk’, and thinking it’s getting to me at the right time. There is a lot of practical advice in his book “Self Observation” that I am trying to put to good use- I recommend it. The thesis of it being that self-observation without judgment as the key to making any progress in the ‘Great Work’ (he just says ‘Work’ but my Crowley side can’t resist). He writes with a great deal of humility, which is refreshing for the genre. Realizing through that book, and meditating daily at least once (using the Headspace app, which I was very resistant to at first, but it has been beneficial at breaking me out of a meditation rut), that the body and its tension are the best indicators of other problems. Working on noticing that more.

On a totally different note, I have also gone back to research some history on drinks that are so part of the canon at this point one hardly thinks about them. The Margarita, for instance, can claim its name from three (or more) different women- but was likely originally named after none of them. Being that ‘margarita’ is a word for daisy, and the drink is basically a tequila daisy (with salt), I agree with David Wondrich (as usual) that this is the most likely scenario. Being a bartender, I also know how bartenders think, and believe it was also actually named after all three ladies (one being Rita Hayworth!). In fact, every pretty woman named Margarita probably ‘had the drink named after them’ for the first two decades of its existence, when a bartender could still pretend he made the damn thing up and she would be none the wiser. Here’s my (pretty standard) take on the drink..

2 parts tequila, 3/4 part each triple sec and fresh lime, quarter part of simple

Shake, salted rim

Simple and effective, and if you want to throw it in a blender, just this once, I won’t tell.. perks of social distancing.

Trying to make Frankincense of it all

photo April Rojas

Just thinking of how cavalier I was when this whole thing hit, making off-hand remarks about the ‘low-lethality’ of this virus, as now we are a bunch of house pets; eating food from a can, playing with our toys, and going out for the occasional walk.

“Wake me up when it gets to 30%” et cetera

Don’t worry, I am in good spirits, and still making the most of this down time. I am not going dark here. But it’s like if someone warned me an invisible murderer was coming to my neighborhood, “but don’t worry.. he only kills about one in a hundred”, would I have laughed it off? I can see the reality of our collective situation dawning, breaking on on most Marbleheads. Some, of course, are still very la-de-da about the whole thing, still trusting in their inner belief in invincibility.

I joke that ‘social-distancing’ is my preferred state. There is truth to that, I enjoy being alone more than most anyone I know. That’s probably because anyone who likes forced small-talk less than me is probably on some Arctic weather station, watching polar bears. Typical bartender sentiment I suppose but not ubiquitous.

via GIPHY

People need each other, though, even introverts. That doesn’t mean I want to go back to having to socialize all the time. I do need people to make toilet paper (hurry!), and keep the utilities going, and produce content to keep me sane. Oh, and eventually to come to the bar and keep me off the streets- I save myself conversationally for them (usually). I suppose you can ask any professional if they want to do what they do for a living for free on their days off, if they do I envy them but guessing that’s pretty rare.

Putting away the tarot and magical stuff for awhile, no sense greasing the wheels of reality right now. Meditation and prayer is the name of the game, with an occasional fast and some incense of course! Finally got a jar of all-natural, sustainably harvested, organic, yadda yadda frankincense. It’s fresh enough to eat, not that I recommend it, but if it comes to that.. (insert just kidding/not kidding emoji here). I really recommend the good stuff, I’ll never go back. Great solar incense for clearing energy and as an offering works for pretty much any benevolent spirit. You don’t always have to sage you know!

Useful tip of the week, save all your veggie bits that you’re not going to eat.. carrot peels, celery leaves, onion skins, herbs. Throw them in a freezer bag. When you fill a couple of good-sized bags, sweat all of the heartier stuff in a stock pot (you see where I am going), with a little oil and some dried spices. Bring it to a boil, turn down to a low simmer. I like to add a little soy sauce or Worcestershire. Strain it after a couple of hours and you have a rich veggie stock to make rice, soup, or even boost those ramen packs. There might even be actual nutrients in it!

We, as a household of sorts, are trying to go as close to zero food waste as possible. I even turned some stale hot dog buns into amazing croutons today. If you want more stuff like this, especially with pickling or fermenting, leave a comment!

The Fast and the Cure I/us

No better time than the present to get back to blogging, eh?

How about some practical advice from your favorite bartender/magician in these weird days?

Actually, first can I talk about that? about how weird these days are? These are the strangest times I have lived through (and that’s from a guy who hangs out with spirits), and it’s only going to get weirder. I am sure you feel the same. Empty shelves, empty streets, animals retaking the streets, being constantly bombarded with images of disease, etc. Not working. That is the weirdest part, weirder than the empty shelves, or the leaf blowers and gas hedge trimmers that never stop in Palm Springs- even during a pandemic. Gotta make sure those bougainvillea’s look tidy! For once at least I am up early enough that I don’t want to murder those earnest fellows for doing their jobs. That in itself is weird enough. Well, if you have to be quarantined, Palm Springs in late March is not the worst place I suppose..

Try and find all the butterflies..

I am realizing how often I go to the grocery store, just out of boredom, as a habit. I mean I did this before the pandemic happened, and during the first few days of the quarantine. It became sort of a scavenger hunt as the days went on, trying to cobble together a meal plan out of what’s left on the shelves and whatever my roommate shlepped home from his seventh CostCo trip in four days (slight exaggeration). I have been doing a lot of pickling; but then we all eat pickles, we four trapped in this apartment together. We try not to let our situation become “The Thing”, looking suspiciously at each other with every new symptom. Waiting to see when (if) the checks come.

On to the advice:

On Fasting

It is important that we fast during this pandemic. I don’t mean dietarily, although I can recommend that highly and am practicing that intermittentently to boost immunity; I mean in everything. Take a break from the following each day, perhaps; streaming services, newsfeeds, social media, television, just for an hour. Deny yourself the dopamine rush of turning on a screen, or set hours where you don’t. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to sit in stillness. Realize you have very little agency to stop a world crisis (even if you are a world leader) and take a moment for mindfulness. Breathe. Find a quiet corner, or a quiet path, and sit or walk. Who knows, you might discover a beautiful patch of morning glory sacred datura blooming where the rains washed out the sand last spring.

If you can’t find quiet, make a quiet space in your own mind. It takes a little practice. There are things that little device in your pocket can do besides waste your time and/or terrify you. Try out a meditation app, or learn a language, or hell.. start a blog! If you keep running to the fridge or the store every time you get bored, you’ll end up bloated and broke with a pantry full of things you are never going to willingly eat when this is over.

I am going to come out of this better than I went in. I hope the same for all of us. Imagine a world wiser, kinder, more grateful for what we have, more mindful. Now that the shelves have been emptied and there is nothing we have to do, we can remake our lives. Be what you want to see. That’s my plan.

[edit: Just found out I was misinformed and this is actually jimsonweed, but that’s ok. Doesn’t change the beauty of the plant, or the experience of discovery. Actually it gives me a great idea for a new post, this is some seriously witchy stuff with crazy history!]

And You May Ask Yourself.. How Did I Get Here?

This is not my beautiful house..

So.. it’s Capricorn season, at least for a few days. Of course if you listen to any of the astrologers that I do, you’re well aware that this year is totally Capricorn-dominated and going to force you to shut up and start doing. This sounds very worrisome to my quad-Sag, mostly-fire self. At the same time, maybe it’s time to welcome this change. Let’s get back to grounding ourselves and ignoring our news feeds. Let’s put our feet on the ground, roll up our sleeves, and do something. I, right now, am Ten of Wands fully. Saturn in Sagittarius might as well be my querent card at this point. A coworker introduced me by all of my part-time projects the other night, which made me seem both ludicrous and amazing at the same time. Luckily, most things only require my attention once a week or month, but the downside is my writing this blog is suffering a bit. The book and the blog will be sisters this year, and I am recommitting myself to both as of today.

Back to Capricorn season, or Capricorn year, with a healthy sprinkling of Mars energy. I am no astrologer, but it feels right. It’s time to be the intrepid goat and climb with a bit of Mars fire up your ass. My current projects are all things that other people don’t think have material worth. Maybe they’re right. I am convinced that with drive and hard work we can all turn this year into something special. Drown-out the noise.

“And you may ask yourself.. how did I get here?”

How did I get here? How is all the magic finally kicking in? How am I finding all the people I need to find?

Astrologically this is not the time for me. Or probably anyone.

The sage is in bloom. The whitewater is running. As I hiked up a trail of switchbacks and falling stones, lichens, and feral cattle poop with three of my favorite people and a very tired little pup, I was able to reconnect a bit with the landscape. I talked to a sage bush like a hippy. I poured the silty water over my head like a baptism.

An astute friend pointed out that people often find seashells hiking there. That it was a vast, inland sea at one point. She reminded me that Capricorn is the ‘Sea-Goat’, and therefore we chose the perfect hike.

“You say the hill’s too steep to climb.. Climbing..”

As for practical magic advice, here is what I am doing.

Working my way through the Rune Soup sigil course. Yes, I ‘know’ sigils. I thank a lot of the fires I have burning to them. It’s always wise to rethink everything you know. I have found doing daily (instead of occasional) planetary prayer to be quite beneficial.

I recently ‘discovered’ Aidan Wachter’s “Six Ways”, and really like his stripped-down-Harley view of sorcery. Highly recommended, as is his appearance on the Glitch Bottle podcast.

Oh, and if any of you are interested in Chartreuse, I wrote this..

https://www.cvindependent.com/index.php/en-US/food-drink/cocktails/item/5689-on-cocktails-chartreuse-made-by-monks-for-centuries-may-or-may-not-work-as-medicine-but-it-definitely-works-in-delicious-drinksundefined

Eventually going to post about planetary herbal liqueurs, but until I do, realize that Saturn likes Fernet. That’s where we begin..

Podcast is a go!

After months, many many months, of staring at a microphone in my room I finally managed to summon up the courage to talk into it. Then I erased it and made a slightly less ‘lip-smacking meandering’ version.

I touch on Gnosticism and why, perhaps, we craft bartenders get so bothered by people who order trendy drinks.. or at least I do sometimes. I want this project to be about personal growth, whether or not I always live up to my own advice. So here it is, warts and all, and excited to do bigger and better as I go!

Highway to the Dead Zone

Enough rum to preserve Admiral Nelson’s body

Halloween came and went, the veil between worlds is returning to its usual opacity. That’s just fine by most people, I mean many of us wish to know that there is more out there, and something that happens after death, and that’s about as much of the ‘dead’ as we like around us. We like to hear that Grandma and Pappy are happy together on a cloud somewhere, or that they’re watching out for us. That’s why ‘spirit boards’ are still on sale nearly everywhere board games are sold. We light candles as kids, we accuse each other of moving the widget, we get spooked, or nothing happens, and either way we put the board back in the closet (or the fireplace, or the trash).

Depending on the tradition one is working through, rum is pretty popular as an offering for spirits of the crossroads and the underworld. Back in my college days I dabbled with a spirit or two that seemed to enjoy it.. well since I was a complete newbie with no actual teacher in the systems I was messing with it was probably just the rum in my system making me think I was in touch with anything at all. These days I tend to let the dead lie, besides.. you never really know who is on the other end of that planchette.

In honor of the (just ended!) Mercury retrograde I rewatched a few movies from my childhood. While “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” probably doesn’t have much to add to this subject, “The Dead Zone” does, at least in an oblique way. Besides, I can’t resist an opportunity to reference Christopher Walken. The “dead zone” in the title of the movie, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, refers to the blind spot in our perception, and for those of us who try and scry a little knowledge from the misty void that is a very real thing. I am actually glad that is the case. A pre-written, already known world (while very possibly the case) is a bit depressing to me. So here’s to the fog on the road, even if we don’t always know where we’re going.

Now on to the drink. Naturally I had to enjoy a ‘Dead Zone”, the ‘barrel cocktail’ on the current Bootlegger Tiki (Palm Springs, CA) menu. Both for the name and the warning of ‘One max per customer!’, and also since it was created by my coworker at Truss and Twine, Jesse.

yeah, rum! um uh oh..

He was a little tight-lipped about the exact ingredients but disclosed that it was a variation on a Zombie (also appropriate for this time of year) and that it had baking spices, a little citrus, and three over-proof rums- including the delicious and deadly OFTD from Plantation! It definitely drinks like a Zombie, but with more complexity in the spice profile and also from the richness of the OFTD. I can say that I certainly wasn’t clairvoyant before I drank it, but I was definitely in the ‘dead zone’ afterwards. Just make sure to leave the car at home, nobody wants to be in the actual dead zone.

Retrograde Lemonade (well.. tea)

iced tea.. Long Island style @trussandtwine

Mercury retrograde is upon us, when the little things in life suddenly turn on us in irritating ways. Don’t ask me why, there is no scientific explanation (yet) why the perceived backwards travel of a small planet millions of miles away would affect our communication here on Earth. Yet, anecdotally I can tell you it does seem to have an effect, and patience is a virtue during these times.

In the Western (whatever that ever meant) magical tradition, this is a good time for being a little, umm, deceptive if that’s something that is required for the task at hand. So what more appropriate cocktail than the Long Island Iced Tea? It looks like a simple glass of iced tea, but whoa does it pack a punch! Here’s an updated version that is easy to make at home (pro tip- just buy the airplane bottles of any spirit you don’t have in your home bar) to get you through any electronic malfunctions or deception thrown your way.

  • 1/2oz each vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and triple sec (all the clear stuff typically found in a typical bar)
  • 3/4oz simple syrup
  • 1oz lemon juice
  • splash of cola

shake all ingredients except for cola, pour over ice and top with cola

Oh, and there maybe some deception involved in the origin of this dive bar classic, you can read all about it here..

https://www.cvindependent.com/index.php/en-US/food-drink/cocktails/item/5178-on-cocktails-it-s-time-to-give-the-long-island-iced-tea-a-little-credit-for-being-the-influential-cocktail-that-it-is

retrograde schmetrograde

Haunted Bars or Haunted Bartenders?

the mysterious ‘White Lady’ at Paul, Palm Springs

Yeah.. I have worked at a haunted bar or two. Even the most sceptical STEM-bro, if he were to work in enough bars, would eventually have something happen that he’d have a hard time ‘sciencing the shit out of’.

 

What is it about bars that attract such strange energies?

I can’t say for certain, but perhaps it is a multitude of factors.

  1. bars are places full of life and energy- it only makes sense that the energy would linger, or at least imprint something on the mind to suggest continuing human activity after such activity had ceased.
  2. people drink at bars- our faculties as guests (and yes occasionally staff, especially after closing) are sometimes compromised, or perhaps more open to phenomena we would normally dismiss
  3. closing/opening staff are often alone- when you’re alone, sometimes you see or hear things that aren’t (?) there
  4. people die/suffer trauma at bars- sad but true, maybe the trauma leaves a psychic residue

So perhaps it is all in our heads; I don’t believe that but you’re entitled to if you like. I have two stories I can’t for the life of me explain, but I will save them for the podcast. Let’s get on to the cocktail!

It’s surprisingly difficult to come up with a ‘ghost-theme’ classic cocktail. I mean there are plenty of spooky names for drinks and plenty of corny Halloween cocktails online; but very little to work with in the classic sense of a ‘ghost’. I chose the ‘White Lady’, and went with the recipe from the Savoy Cocktail Book as it has claim to being one of the first recipes. It is what I would classify as a ‘daisy’- a family of drinks including the Sidecar and Margarita. The definition of daisy is loose, but it should contain a base spirit, citrus, and orange liquor as a sweetener. Soda water is optional, and then you basically have a Collins anyway, but I digress. The Savoy version is just two parts dry gin to one part each Cointreau and lemon juice, simple, dry, elegant- but a little lacking in body. Most bartenders I know use a beefier version with egg white, and make it into a gin sour.

White Lady

(modern version)

2oz dry gin

1oz lemon juice

3/4oz simple syrup

1 egg white

Shake without ice, then shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, apply bitters in little dots and dashes on top as you see fit

Why did I choose the White Lady? I feel like a ‘Lady in White’ is one of the most common apparitions reported at bars and hotels, and in general. The scorned bride who died tragically at her own hands, or the hands of another, or through some accident, is a common theme in folklore. She is a sad and elegant reminder of a bygone age, an equally scary and sympathetic figure, who calls us back to the edge of belief in an afterlife that may not be any happier than this mixed bag of existence. So therefore let us toast to her, all of the versions of her, and wish her soul some relief this Halloween!