Links for 11/29/10

December 1-5 the Northwest Holiday Ale Festival will be held at Pioneer Square in Portland, OR. The organizers invited a group of beer writers, myself included, in for a preview this weekend. My own picks and those of the rest of the New School crew are up on Ezra’s blog, along with a schedule of rare beers to be tapped during the event. There are some very cool beers on tap this year, so if you’re in town I recommend checking it out.

This account of an elderly American making a daring escape from Iran is one of the more interesting stories to surface from the Wikileaks memos.

Entries to National Geographic’s 2010 photography contest.

Good news: Corduroy is hip. Bad news: Says the Wall Street Journal.

Welcome back, Matt! Matt Finarelli is back in the United States and has restarted his blog about his culinary adventures, Deglazed.

After watching this video I find it much harder to complain about bad cycling terrain. I also want to visit Scotland more than ever. Via BoingBoing:


Mixology Monday: Clubland Cocktail

Clubland 043

What, me make vodka drink? It’s rare when it happens willingly, but it does happen. One of these times is for this month’s Mixology Monday hosted by Dennis at Rock & Rye:

I am excited to be hosting the next round of Mixology Monday here at Rock & Rye. This month’s event will take place on Monday, November 22nd, and the theme will be: Forgotten Cocktails. There are many cocktail books out there, and even more that are no longer in print, filled with thousands of cocktails. Some are decent, some are crap, and some might be great.

The challenge this month is to bring to light a drink that you think deserves to be resurrected from the past, and placed back into the spotlight. It could be pre-prohibition, post-war, that horrible decade known as the 80′s, it doesn’t really matter. As long as it is somewhat obscure, post it up. If possible try to keep to ingredients that are somewhat readily available. While we all appreciate the discovery of an amazing cocktail, if we can’t make it, it’s no fun for anyone.

This is a good opportunity to write about one of the few vodka drinks I like, the Clubland:

1.5 oz vodka
1.5 oz white port
1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir and serve up in a cocktail glass with an optional orange or lemon twist for garnish.

The drink originally appears in the Café Royal Cocktail Book, a 1937 publication of the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild. Compiled by William J. Tarling, the credit for this drink is given to “A. Mackintosh.” I was turned onto it by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who I think came across it at the Bar Convent Berlin and offered it on the Clyde Common cocktail menu for a while.

This is not a life-changing drink, unless one’s life has been extremely boring. But it works well, the Angostura brings a little complexity, and the port makes it a nice aperitif. Plus it’s always good to have a vodka cocktail in your pocket for those customers who won’t drink anything else. Dust off your bottle of vodka and give this one a try sometime.


Links for 11/19/10

Another blogger is facing prison, this time for the crime of atheism.

The case that secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer is much weaker than people realize. Chris Snowdon rounds up several recent studies that fail to support the hypothesis.

In San Francisco, culinary uses for tobacco leaves.

The New York Times has an interesting site running where you can choose various options to balance the budget. In nothing else, it drives home how much entitlement spending is contributing to deficits; choosing to peg the growth of Medicare to GDP is like hitting a cheat button that wins the game. Cuts to military spending are also easy. Unfortunately none of this is easy in the real world. For what it’s worth, my solution here, with 73% coming from spending cuts.

Libertarians on the shrink’s couch.

New guidelines on food allergies: Don’t freak out.

How Republicans learned to hate the TSA all over again. has put together a great video about armed government raids of raw dairy providers in California:


What really happened in Starkville, revisited

About a year ago I criticized a “study” from Mississippi State University alleging that implementation of a smoking ban in Starkville, MS caused a dramatic decline in heart attacks. The problem was that the study was in fact just a press release and the data from control groups hadn’t even been collected yet. Without control groups there was no justification for asserting that the decline in heart attacks was caused by the smoking ban rather than other factors. I challenged the authors, Dr. Robert McMillen and Dr. Robert Collins, on this point and they declined to respond, saying only that they would continue their research when more data arrived.

Now the data is in and they have released another study confirming their hypothesis. To their credit they have control groups this time. What they don’t have are tests of statistical significance. I’ll hand it over to Michael Siegel:

This study violates the most fundamental principal of epidemiology and biostatistics: you must evaluate any scientific hypothesis to see whether the results could be explained by chance. In other words, you must determine whether your results are statistically significant.

A persistent flaw in studies of this type is reliance on small population sizes to extrapolate an exaggerated effect. This one appears no different. Siegel again:

I did my own calculations based on the results reported in the study and based on a conservative estimate which maximizes the likelihood of finding a statistically significant difference, I found that the difference between the two rates of decline was not even close to being statistically significant. […]

For these findings, which are exquisitely sensitive to a simple shift in one heart attack here and one heart attack there, one must not put any confidence in their statistical meaning. Clearly, the role that these are just chance differences cannot be ruled out given the small sample size. Nevertheless, the study goes as far as telling us the exact cost savings from the heart attacks averted due to the smoking ban.

McMillen and Collins are getting closer to doing real science. Close, but still no cigar!


Brewing Up Cocktails returns!


This Saturday night Ezra Johnson-Greenough of the New School, Yetta Vorobik of the Hop and Vine, and I are hosting the sequel to our event dedicated to mixing with beer, Brewing Up Cocktails. We have six drinks on tap this time, ranging from a cheeky deconstruction of the Irish Car Bomb to a traditional wassail made with Deschutes Jubelale. Ezra’s presenting a cocktail per day over at his blog, so head over there for all the details.


My favorite drink on the menu is the Hot Scotchy, a treat enjoyed by homebrewers combining whiskey and hot, unfermented wort (the sweet, malty mash that is eventually fermented into beer). For our event the wort is provided by Upright Brewing and the whisky is the peat-heavy Ardbeg 10. Jeff Alworth of Beervana sampled a version of the Hot Scotchy with Talisker last week and pronounced it “the greatest beverage in the world.” How can you say no to an endorsement like that?

The event runs from 6-10 this Saturday at the Hop and Vine. All drinks are individually priced. A few of the ingredients are in limited quantities, so I’d suggest arriving early if there’s a particular drink you’re eager to try.

Previously: See MIX Magazine’s coverage of our first Brewing Up Cocktails event.

[Photos by “SNOB” Ritch.]


Links 11/11/10, corduroy edition

This blog’s favorite holiday has arrived: Corduroy Appreciation Day! It happens every year on 11/11, the day that most closely resembles corduroy. The Corduroy Appreciation Club meets in New York today for festivities with Jesse Thorn of Put This On, where they promise to unveil the “beer that most resembles corduroy.” Way back in 2007 I suggested Guinness, writing that “with its soft, creamy texture, brown and black coloring, and conspicuously upward-flowing bubbles suggesting verticality, it’s the ultimate choice for 11/11.” I’ll be curious to see what they come up with. Related: The New Yorker on the birth of corduroy appreciation.

Speaking of fashion, the Portland edition of Thrillist launches today edited by Patrick Alan Coleman. Coincidence or is PAC a fan of fine waling? Sign up here to find out.

After a complaint from Brazil, the WTO rules that US cotton subsidies violate our trade agreements. Do we a) end the subsidies or b) agree to subsidize Brazilian cotton farmers too?

This is your War on Drugs: Eat a bagel, lose a baby.

Ryan Young and Caleb Brown explain why a proposal to require tax preparers to register with the IRS is an anti-consumer sop to companies like H&R Block.

Having not yet visited Bols headquarters in Amsterdam, I’m going to assume it really does feature instantaneous beard growth and cocoa beans cheerfully offering themselves for decapitation.

Real-life gadgets of real-life superheroes.

“I’m honestly not sure how I got to the point where it’s my actual job to watch porn movies about Batman and talk about them on the Internet, but if you notice any deja vu or missing time over the next couple days, don’t worry; it’s just my fifteen year-old self trying to high-five me through the time barrier.”

This job listing headline would be much less exciting with the correct apostrophe.


Green Mountain Nail

I hadn’t planned on posting this drink (how’s that for a ringing endorsement?) but it took second place in last night’s cocktail competition sponsored by Drambuie, so it’s worth putting up. It was a tight race with Adam Robinson of Park Kitchen taking third and Tommy Klus of Teardrop Lounge edging me out by a point to take first.

Tommy and I went for very similar flavor profiles, marrying Drambuie with peaty Scotch and fall spices. My drink was a Stone Fence variation (hence the Green Mountain reference) using Ardbeg, Drambuie (a.k.a. “the ‘Bu”), apple cider gastrique, and the Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged bitters, which add big notes of cinnamon and clove. It’s a tasty fall cocktail and even people who were scared of Scotch seemed to like it.

2 oz apple cider
1.5 oz Ardbeg 10
.75 oz Drambuie
.75 oz apple cider gastrique
1 dash Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters

Stir over ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Add a cinnamon stick if you feel compelled to garnish, but there’s no need for it.

I don’t have a strict recipe for the gastrique. It’s something I made for a completely different Stone Fence variation last year and I realized a few hours before last night’s competition that I’d never recorded the ingredients or process. It’s fairly simple though: Caramelize about a cup of sugar in a small amount of water, slowly add about 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar, and finally add about a cup of good apple juice or cider. I added a splash of lemon juice too though I suspect it’s unnecessary.

For a simpler cocktail pairing Ardbeg and Drambuie, see also my drink from last year, the Curse of Scotland.

Finally, for no good reason:


New email server

While I was in Mexico my email host made changes that resulted in some messages not being delivered. I’ve moved email hosting to a more reliable server, so if you’ve sent me something in the last week that I haven’t responded to then I might not have received it. Everything seems to be working now.


Links for 11/8/10

Herrera v. Oregon, the case challenging Oregon’s non-unanimous jury convictions that I blogged about here, has at least one Justice interested in the issues raised.

Liquor privatization didn’t fare well at the polls this year, but at least Dallas had the good sense to end a few remnants of Prohibition.

Don’t cut budgets, cut agencies.

An economics idea worth popularizing: Deadweight loss from taxes.

Camper English creates an ice time bomb.