Rule 37: The East India Cocktail

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

Well, turkey day approaches, and the Lady Friend found several holiday/ seasonal cocktails to try. This one looked tasty, and she wouldn’t call in our dinner order until I chose a cocktail, so the East India was the one to go with. Now, I feel like I have a lot of Dale DeGroff’s cocktails on here, but that’s because I tend to use his book, The Craft of the Cocktail, quite frequently. It was the first cocktail book I bought, after seeing him on an episode of Modern Marvels (it was the “Distilling” episode), where they discussed the production methods of several liquors, and then cut to DeGroff mixing an example cocktail with each liquor. If I recall correctly, he did vodka (Cosmopolitan), scotch (scotch, neat), tequila (Margarita), rum (Mojito) and whiskey (Manhattan). There was a “Distilling 2″ episode that dealt with brandy, gin, and Irish whiskey. Maybe the Irish was in the specific “Whiskey” episode. I don’t remember exactly, but they’re all cool, if you’re a Modern Marvels and/ or liquor geek. I seriously got sucked into watching “Glue” on MM once. It sounds like the most mundane thing in the world, but then it got really cool and interesting. Anyway, DeGroff’s book is well-designed, clean, and features lots of good advice and interesting stories from his years of bartending.

So, that’s the story. I happened to have another DeGroff recipe on here that didn’t even come from the book. But it was tasty. I’m not trying to play favorites, but whatever, it’s my blog, so I do what I want. So there. Have a drink.

The East India Cocktail
The Dale DeGroff version, not from his book. Plus, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, so there’s that.

– 1 1/2 oz cognac (I cheated and used brandy)
– 1 oz orange curaçao
– 1 1/2 oz pineapple juice (he said unsweetened, but I just used the Dole I normally use)
– 1 dash Angostura bitters (I used a couple)
– Flamed orange peel
– Nutmeg

Shake/strain/serve in chilled cocktail glass. Flame the orange peel over the top, and grate some fresh nutmeg on the foam.

So, we got the reciepe from hereabouts, and there is a helpful video as well. It won’t embed, so you’ll have to go watch it there. A couple of things: as noted in the video, if you give it a good, hard, shake, you should get some nice foam from the pineapple juice. I gave the Angostura a couple dashes, and found that it still got lost in the flavor of the drink, so I gave it a couple more over the top and stirred it in. I actually made two versions of the drink, one with Angostura bitters, and the other with my Fee Bros Whiskey Barrel-aged bitters, which has a lot of cinnamon and spice in it. I’m trying to get the Lady Friend to see the effect that different bitters have in cocktails, and she found that one to be much more flavorful. It’s one of my favorites, and really kicks up a Manhattan.

Though it’s not in the picture, I did flame the orange peel over the top (and the Lady Friend got to try as well), which means all you smell in this drink is orange. Not that it’s a bad thing, but the Lady Friend started to nose it, and I said she wouldn’t get anything but the orange. We both enjoyed the cocktail, though I omitted the nutmeg. I don’t even know where I would go about finding fresh nutmeg, though I should probably find out, as it pops up quite commonly in holiday seasonal cocktails. Actually, I don’t have a grater either. This is getting tricky. It’s a tasty cocktail without it, but could use some liberal application of the bitters, or a stronger one to start with.

Now go make it.

Soused in SanFran – Part 4: SFO D2 Alembic

This here is Part Four of the Grand Caliventure of November 2011.
For Part 1, make the clicking to here.

Not your turn yet, Sissy. But soon.

Following our delicious lunch and tasty beers at Magnolia, the Lady Friend and I started heading down Haight Street towards our next destination, the legendary Alembic Bar. We were pointed straight into the vortex of hippie ground zero, strolling cautiously past Haight-Ashbury, the epicenter of the flower children. Yes, it was weird. We saw a man in his 60s, with gray hair and beard, wearing a short, Catholic school girl pleated skirt and knee socks. I don’t care, that’s just not ok. I kind of hate The Haight. I needed a protective suit like Cartman when he rescues Kyle before SF destroys itself.

My boy, we are pilgrims in an unholy land.

Then we saw it: The Alembic. A cocktail bar that has frequently landed on “best bar” lists throughout the country. It’s hard to tell what lurks behind the dark tinted “A”-embedded door amidst the wandering stoners shuffling by on the sidewalk. Sure, if we had more time, I would have liked to take a peek at Smuggler’s Cove, Bourbon and Branch, and Rickhouse, but there were other destinations that required some precious time allotment. We pulled the heavy door open and took a brief moment to let our eyes adjust to the dim light and muted tones of the interior, a welcome change from the blaring sun and psychedelic hues of Haight. The narrow space with high ceilings was dominated by a sturdy wooden length of bar, and three shelves overflowing with nearly every conceivable liquor and liqueur. A touch of light lazily drifted in through a yellow-tinted skylight towards the rear, and opened up the back seating area. Everything was wood, tan and dusty, and had an aged patina except for the glossy glass bottles that stretched for a great distance. The antithesis of pretension. This is exactly as it should be. This is what a cocktail bar needs to be. This is home.


Vintage light bulbs rappelled down from the ceiling provided more aesthetic quality than luminosity. Though there were a handful of patrons, conversation was light, and subdued, the loudest sounds coming from the jarring maraca rattle of ice in metal shaker. The Lady Friend lolled through the cocktail menu, while I marveled at the array of amaro, the wonderful whiskies, and the rows of rums. They have more types of rye than most bars have whiskey, rum, and gin combined. The cocktail list consisted of a double-sided sheet, one side old school and one nouveau. She eventually settled on a Blood and Sand, and was surprised to find that it was actually a known classic. She enjoyed it, but my home bar currently lacks the necessary cherry brandy (Heering) to recreate it. Though the recipe contains scotch, hers was made with Russell’s Reserve 6yo Rye. I availed myself of some of their Campari, requesting my new bar benchmark, the Negroni. Disappointed with the UTTER failure of a previous “cocktail” bar, I was confident that I wouldn’t have the same troubles here. When I requested Plymouth specifically, the heavily tattooed bartendress simply nodded and said “that’s what we use.” Beautiful. It also contained Carpano Antica vermouth, which lent a much spicier and vivacious note to the taste, bold enough to stand up to the brutish Campari, with little on the nose but fresh orange peel. Wonderful.

This. This is my goal. This is the bottle collection I want in my home bar.

I had been in touch once again with Ke$hia Ho, who agreed to meet up with us while we sipped our drinks. She and I chatted for a bit about various cocktail nonsense, and pointed out various unusual bottles to each other. When our glasses finally dried up, we steeled ourselves for the hippie horrors that lay outside, and ventured on. Happily, she brought her car, complete with MN plates, and we sped out of Peaceland, never to return. The next destination was another I had been looking forward to: the City Beer Store. Why was this a big deal? Stay tuned, and I’ll get to it.

Soused in SanFran – Part 3: SFO D2 Magnolia

This here is Part Three of the Grand Caliventure of November 2011.
For Part 1, make the clicking to here.

I’ll try to break these up a bit more for readability and sanity. Mostly my sanity.

Also, we’ve just gotten to Friday morning, so Sissy, you’re going to have to hold tight.
We’ll get to your part.


Friday’s first booze stop and lunch destination was the Magnolia Pub and Brewery, which, from the reviews I’d read, was highly recommended for both their food and beers. We hoofed it through the little “Panhandle” park and uphill to the corner of Haight and Masonic, dangerously close to Hippieville. However, it was around 11 or so, and the flower children weren’t out in full force yet, though a couple street urchins lounged about on the sidewalks nearby.

Once inside, we found refuge from the great unwashed hordes lurking on the streets, and discovered a rather aged decorating scheme to the pub. Antique patina-ed mirrors, a mosaic tiled floor, dubiously murky ceiling stains, chalkboard menus and lots of dark, heavy wood create an old-timey steampunk vibe that was a refreshing change from the shiny new brewpubs that lack the charm of their time-ravaged brethren.

Pictured: character.

Two things immediately hit us in the face when we walked in: steam, and the overpowering smell of barley malt. The temperature in the place had to be at least 75°, which felt tropical compared to the crisp autumn climate outside and entirely fogging the windows. If there were any doubts about this place being the real deal, the boiling wort under the floor made a persuasive argument. We sat at the bar and ordered a couple beer samplers from the bartender, Sal, who was extremely friendly, and looked like he was Zach Braff’s cousin. There were nine house-brewed beers on draft that day, so the Lady Friend and I split the list to get a taste of each. The flight includes six beers of your choice, which come in a unique, triangular-shaped, wooden tray of sorts, and your selections are thoughtfully written down on a little postcard. There were some interesting brews here, outside of the standard pale ale/ IPA/ stout offerings of most brewers.

Plus, they’ve won some medals. BEER medals.

Rosebud Belgian Ale
Nose: Similar to my bottle of Meletti Amaro. Sweet, with some eucalyptus and menthol.
Taste: Fizzy, carbonic bite. Mild, soothing flavor. A little cinnamon, a little wheat. Sweet.

Barking Pumpkin Pumpkin Ale
Poured VERY dark, almost like a stout. Very dark ale.
Nose: Pumpkin spicy with a roast quality. A sickly sweet roast that the Lady Friend pegged as “pecan pie.” Molasses.
Taste: Pumpkin spice start, eases to a bitter roasted bite in the middle.

Proving Ground IPA
100 IBU! Hopped with Simcoe, Stirling, Cascade and Washington.
Nose: Lovely hop! Citrusy sweetness.
Taste: Bitter, then sweet, then bitter, then sweet. A hectic jumbled start, eases to a resinous grapefruit bitter that lingers. Frenzied and awesome.

Dark Star Mild
Nose: English style malty bitter, like an English bitter ale. Roasted with some slight chocolate underneath.
Taste: BITTER roast on tongue. A strange sweetness I couldn’t put my finger on. Not milky, but some vanilla, with a mocha coffee finish. Couldn’t quite pin down that sweetness though. Intriguing.

Weekapaug Gruit
Had to ask about this one… a gruit is an herbal mixture for bittering beer without using hops. This one contained yarrow, rosemary, chamomile and anise.
Nose: Herbal. Eye-opening. Again, eucalyptus and cough medicine, as in an amaro. Roasted malt underneath.
Taste: Sweet. Herbal succulent. Lady Friend got potpourri, while I went with amaro, and Sal agreed with me on this. Very strange, and would be a good digestif. Don’t know that I would enjoy a whole pint, but very glad I tasted this one.

Blue Bell Bitter
Nose: No discernible nose. SLIGHT cereal sweet, though there was quite a bit of barley aroma in the air which made our nosing rather difficult. The tall highball style glasses helped funnel some scent out of the beers, but even with a good swirl, I couldn’t get anything out of this one.
Taste: Nice hop bitter start. Eases to a watery malt wash. Nice and mild. Very drinkable.

There was a bit of overlap in the lists, and we both had the Rosebud, Barking Pumpkin and Proving Ground IPA. These are the other three that were in the Lady Friend’s flight.

Long Break Bitter
Nose: Nice citrus hop. Lady Friend got some apple. Poured with a nice yellow straw color.
Taste: Mild hop bite. Carbonic. Clean. Light and refreshing with a hint of lemon.

New Speedway Bitter
Nose: Sweet. Light barley – not like a heavy malt aroma. Cereal grain, fruit.
Taste: Cereal sweet. None of the heavy malt syrup.

Kalifornia Kölsch
Nose: Cereal sweet. Typical Kölsch, with a slight pils staleness.
Taste: Slight sharp bitter, but otherwise light and clean.

Somewhere in the midst of our tasting, we perused the menu, which was very artfully designed and crafted. Seriously, it was really nice, without being over the top. Totally fit with the rest of the aesthetic of the pub… an elegant vintage style with a patina of dust and years of service. The menu fare itself was apparently brand new, as they had recently changed their food offerings. I delighted in a fried chicken sandwich, which was moist, lightly fried and tasty, served on a soft, fresh baguette (we literally saw the bread guy carrying in bags of baguettes) with gooey melted cheese and salty fries. It really was excellent. Fresh and delicious. They Lady Friend decided to test out the gastropub leanings of the place, ordering a grilled cheese made with goat cheese, mushrooms and kale.

We both immensely enjoyed our meals, and eavesdropped on the bar staff’s conversations involving one of the customers across the room. Apparently, the customer had ordered a Snakebite, which is a half-and-half concoction of lager and cider. There was a mild debate amongst the staff as to how to make it, with one of the servers arguing that it specifically had to be half pilsner. It was a moot point, as the bar won’t even serve it. They will give you two beers and let you mix it yourself, but for reasons that weren’t quite clear, they won’t make it for you. It probably has been shown to cause cancer and birth defects, just like everything else in California. These stupid signs were in every bar, and I was surprised the next day when there wasn’t a placard in the shower telling me that water increases the risk of drowning.

Silly regulations aside, Magnolia was fantastic. Of course, we were there for an early lunch, so I have no idea what the usual scene is like, on a Friday night for example. They really did live up to their gastropub claims, without being douchy about it. Our bartender Sal was very friendly and helpful, and unless they’re pumping in fake steam and barley smell, it’s a true brewpub. Go there.

Sidenote: For New Englanders, you CAN get a Snakebite at the Coat of Arms pub in downtown Portsmouth, NH. After you’ve had a few, go across the street to the infamous Gilley’s and get some wonderfully greasy diner food served in an old dining cart.

The Monday Hangover: Nov 12-13

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.

Following last weekend’s trip to Cal-ee-for-nee-ah, it was nice to get back into the weekly routine of cocktail night on Friday. There were Rule 37 fufillments, a whiskey sour made with an overripe lemon (yargh… not recommended) and a cracking of a new bomber, imported from the west coast: Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea Imperial Coffee Vanilla Porter. The Lady Friend was quite keen to try this one, as she’s been gaining an interest in stouts and porters (she found an Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout in Healdsburg that was quite enjoyable for her and JJ.) The Ballast Point, however, was WAY too coffee bitter for my taste. It was more coffee than porter, with cold-pressed beans overpowering the other chocolate and vanilla flavors in the brew. I’m not a coffee drinker, and called it quits on this one after a couple sips. The Lady Friend took down the whole bomber. I guess she liked it.

The following day brought a Tröegs Hopback Amber Ale to sip on mid-afternoon, with a Negroni before supper. The Lady Friend had picked up a bottle of Gallo sweet vermouth for me, a brand which I hadn’t tasted before. It has much more of a wine quality than some of the other brands, thought it blended quite well, assuming its place behind the bold Campari and schizophrenic gin flavors of the cocktail. The Lady Friend rather enjoyed a Tröegs Pale Ale with dinner, but there was much more beer to be tasted.

Saturday night was the main event. I had been talking to the Irish Lad about coming down for a sampling of the brews I brought back from Cali, when we got an email from JTops the Engineer, whose wife was busy babysitting that night. He went to college with Wifey, and is a craft beer drinker, as well as cocktail/spirit geek. Initially, he wanted to go out for some beers at a couple Boston-area craft bars. Instead, we invited him along to the beer tasting night, which helped to add a new element to the group, as he is generally strongly opinionated about most things. When I say “generally”, I mean “always”. And when I say “most things”, I mean “everything.” And he’ll be the first to tell you that. But, he does have the knowledge to back up his opinions, and is prepared to cite specific examples and show his work when called upon. Wifey was along as well, and sugared herself with some Smirnoff Ice, a couple Dark & Stormys (Stormies? Also, “Dark ‘n Stormy” is a trademarked term owned by Gosling’s Black Rum. Because of this, a “Dark ‘n Stormy” legally must only be made with Gosling’s. What a douchy move on their part.) and a pina colada that was half gone before I could turn around. The rest of us loosened our belts and tucked into the brews.

Nelson Golden IPA Alpine Beer Co., Alpine, CA
Hopped with Nelson Sauvin, a New Zealand hop. I was talked into two bombers from Alpine in the City Beer store by the very helpful clerk, Stephanie. Alpine is about 30 miles from San Diego, and according to Stephanie, was flying off the shelves. They got several cases in the day before I was there, and the stock was already quite dwindled. She suggested I snag it while I could, so I grabbed the Nelson and one other, Pure Hoppiness.

Nose: Citrus right away. Strong tree/ stone fruit. Sweet and delicious. With my nose close to the liquid, I found an undercurrent of some cannabis-like bitter, lurking beneath the citrus explosion. Though I was initially dismissed for that, the Irish Lad came to my defense, smelling a bit of dank, and pointing out that hop plants are related to cannabis. So there.

Wifey said it smelled like tropical Mike & Ikes.

Taste: Doesn’t taste like it smells, and that becomes apparent right away with a sharp, dank, bitter start. It’s almost like a rye bitterness, which the Engineer suggested. It does have that spicy snap to it, then the expected citrus/ grapefruit sweetness washes in. I was getting a bit of mint/ menthol underneath which helped to open up the flavor. But again, the others thought I was crazy.

Armageddon IPA Epic Brewing Co., Auckland, New Zealand
The Lady Friend read somewhere that only 1,000 litres of this have been created. We weren’t sure if that meant 1,000 litres just this year or in the history of the beer. Allegedly, it used to be brewed with Simcoe hops, but was recently changed to Falconer’s Flight. According to their website, they use Simcoe, but there was no brew date on the bottle, so we have no idea what batch this was from. This was a 500ml bottle, a little more than a pint.

Nose: Mild piney bitter hop with some sweetish maltiness to the aroma. Also a slight citrus, and a reddish colored pour.

Taste: Much stronger malt than the previous Nelson. A hop spiciness, with some dry resin finish. Drinkable, and very well balanced. We all liked this one, but the Engineer was harder to please, noting that the nose died off too quickly, with a low alcohol push. He was “tasting the bittering hop by the end of the glass.”

Sculpin IPA Ballast Point, San Diego, CA
The only Ballast Points I’ve found out here are the Big Eye IPA, and whatever fishy names they chose for the pale ale and porter. I snagged this in the City Beer store intrigued by the promise of a citrusy West Coast style IPA. Apparently it won a gold medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup.

Nose: Tropical! Sweet and juicy.

Wifey said it smelled like a Jolly Rancher.

Taste: Piney hop start. Wet, juicy melon. Watery and refreshing. This time, the Engineer came to my defense with the watery comment. I don’t mean watery as a weak flavor, but rather a wet, clean, and opening sensation on the tongue that allows more flavor to come out. It’s the opposite of syrupy sweet.
The Engineer and Irish Lad both spoke of cucumbers and melon rind, with some puckery citrus. Wifey had a sip and proclaimed “ruby red grapefruit, but ONLY the ruby red kind,” and the Lady Friend just said “I like this!”

Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale Boulevard Brewing, Kansas City, MO
We took a break from my California hops to taste this one that the Engineer had brought along. It’s called a farmhouse ale, and was very wheaty-Belgian that poured cloudy. “Look at the haze!” was the comment from the Engineer.

Nose: Whoa. Took a big whiff… bigger than needed for this one. Very aromatic. Wheat. Banana clove. Bubblegum. Phew.
The Engineer: “Funk. Whole bunch of funk.”

Taste: WHOA. “That’s got some balls,” was my exact quote, though the Irish Lad suggested “Robust.” Took a bigger sip than necessary. Has some body to it, and a strength in there. Not a fan of this style, but it has a punch behind it that carries it along. The Tank 7 was really well done.
The Irish Lad noted that “the alcohol (8%) really makes it a nice drink,” while the Engineer proclaimed that there was “a whole bunch of cheese” in there.

Sockeye Red IPA Midnight Sun Brewing, Anchorage, AK
You know what you can get in California? Beers from places like New Zealand and Alaska. I bought this out of novelty.
This poured darker than I initially expected, until I realize it was a RED IPA.

Nose: Sweet up top, but a savory undercurrent that was puzzling the Engineer. Cheese and sausage. Savory meaty. Strange, but not unpleasant, just unexpected.

Taste: A little flat. Lower carbonation. Sharp bitter start, eases into a metallic copper taste, but not too much. A nice blend. This was the Lady Friend’s least favorite so far, due to the sharper bitter hop, rather than citrus sweet.

Double Daddy dIPA Speakeasy Brewing, San Francisco, CA
So, on our Cali trip, Ke$hia Ho was trying to decide if having Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA on tap was a good choice for her bar. I tried to order it at several places, but they either didn’t have it, or they were out. The Lady Friend and I finally did get a taste at Ke$hia’s bar, and liked it, but determined that it had a rather peanutty flavor to it. Having set the baseline, we could now find out if the double version was better.

It should also be noted that at this point in the evening, we broke out the cards and started playing “Asshole.” So, the notes may fall off a bit from here.

Nose: Staleness. Mustiness. Earthy, definately earthy, with a malty nuttiness.

Taste: Malty. There IS a peanutty flavor, as in the Big Daddy single IPA, but it’s much smoother and rounded out in the double.

Maiden the Shade specialty ale
Ninkasi Brewing, Eugene, OR

This was recommended to me by Stephanie again. Plus, it had a nice label and a pun name.

Nose: It… just smells like an ale. Nobody in the group could come up with a better description. Malty grain.

Taste: Touch of bitter, but slight. Malty, cereal sweet. Tasty, but unremarkable.

Dogma Brew Dog, Fraserburgh, Scotland
On the label, it’s described as an “ale brewed with honey, kola nut, poppy seeds and guarana.” This launched a whole debate between the Engineer and the Irish Lad about brewing “weird beer for the sake of being weird.” The Engineer said plainly “Brew Dog bugs me,” while the Irish Lad admitted that they make “innovative tastes but not always successful beers.”

Nose: Sweetness. Malt, but sweetness under the malt. Honey. Lots of honey.

Taste: The Irish Lad found this one “very gin-y.” It starts bitter, with a lot of honey sweet that starts in the middle, and grows to the finish. I thought both their Punk and Hardcore IPAs were interesting, and grabbed Dogma on a lark. It was certainly different, and I’m glad I tried it, but not something I’d have on a regular basis. I don’t really like honey all that much, and it seems to be the primary sweetener in this one. As the Irish Lad summed up, “I’m not saying it’s a good beer, but I’m happy I tasted those flavors.”

After eight different brews, we called it quits, and the unruly mob was forcefully expunged from my lair. The Lady Friend and I kicked back with a Lagunitas IPA to close with, since the Irish Lad had brought one over. I’ve puzzled before why he doesn’t like it, as I find it piney bitter, but generally tasty. Apparently he catches some sort of plastic quality in the brew, and the Engineer wasn’t terrible keen on it either. Regardless, the Lady Friend and I sipped it peaceably before retiring. Sunday brought a Widmer Brothers Drifter Pale Ale to sip on with some crispy bacon around the noonish hour. Delightfully and deliciously citrusy and tasty, with some lovely salty bacon. Then I busied myself with getting very little actually accomplished by not leaving SFHQ at all until finally crashing into bed to start another lovely work week.

Happy Hour is Dead

Well, the Massachusetts Senate and House came to an agreement, and will vote on the “Casino Bill” tomorrow before going on recess until Jan. If they approve it, the next step will be sending it along to Gov. Deval Patrick for approval. However:

“The happy hour provision approved in the Senate drew wide attention, but was taken out of the final bill. It would have allowed bars and restaurants around the state to hold happy hours, to compete with casinos’ ability to give out free drinks. But it received some criticism from people who argued that allowing bars and restaurants to give free or discounted drinks would lead to more deaths and injuries.”

“Lawmakers release final version of casino bill, House and Senate votes expected tomorrow”

By Noah Bierman on

I think it’s time to call it. There will be no Christmas Happy Hour in Massachusetts this year, children.

The cracks started to show about two weeks ago when the Happy Hour Amendment’s main supporter, Republican State Senator Robert Hedlund, changed his mind and decided to abandon the proposal, since he doubted it would ever pass the Democratic-controlled government of Massachusetts. Now, he’s calling for the state beverage commission, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Comission (ABCC) to look into some of their flawed regulations over the next year.

As usual, Massachusetts has shown itself to be a completely childish and Puritanical state, keeping the traditions of almost 400 years’ worth of of immaturity. With the local and regional craft beer industries BOOMING (there were about eight new MA craft breweries started in 2011 alone) a reintroduction of happy hour would pump untold dollars into the economy. No matter what the economic climate, people will always buy booze. However, the liberal scare tactics of “If we have happy hour, EVERYONE WILL DIE!!!” seemed to work, as the legislature fears more drunk driving deaths. If that’s the case, why isn’t anyone doing anything about the state of the Southeast Expressway after closing on a Saturday night? It’s like Mario Kart out there. But… if we don’t have happy hour, then there shouldn’t be any drunk drivers EVER! Happy hour is the cause of drunk driving, so we can’t have that!

Massachusetts: grow the hell up.

Rule 37: The (El?) Presidente

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

This week’s selection comes from (once again) Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail. It’s listed simply as “Presidente,” though it’s awkward to say it with out “The” or “El” in front if it. There really wasn’t any rhyme or reason to the drink choice. I was flipping through and it looked good.

Plus, it gave me an excuse to use the Bully Boy rum again.

(El) Presidente
“Created in the 1920s at the Vista Alegre in Havana and named for General Carmen Menocal [sic], the president of Cuba before Batista” ~Dale DeGroff, The Craft of the Cocktail

– 1 1/2 oz white rum (Bully Boy)
– 3/4 oz orange curacao
– 3/4 oz dry vermouth
– Dash of grenadine

Shake/strain/serve in chilled cocktail glass.

First of all, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but it was actually very tasty, and not as boozy as I thought it might be. Some of that might be from the flavor bomb of the Bully Boy, which tastes like sugar cookies and rainbows. Overall, it was quite smooth and tasty, with a little bit of fruit sweetness from the grenadine. Apparently this was a classic Prohibition-era cocktail created in Cuba, that morphed into a touristy abomination with copious amounts of pineapple juice and other additions. The original version was closer to a rum Martini than a fruity tiki drink, but the version I made was still quite nice, though could have probably been a touch drier without ill effect.

Now then, abiding by the House Rules of SquirrelFarts HeadQuarters, any drink made with Bully Boy earns the toast of “Bully!” Since this drink was Cuban in origin, uses Bully Boy, and was called the Presidente, I had to give a nod to the big man himself, Theodore Roosevelt. It appears that there’s a lot of differing information as to which Cuban the drink was actually named after, from Carlos Mendieta, to General Carmen Menocal, to Gerardo Machado, so I don’t have a clue, and I’m just going with a T. Roos reference. He did lead the Rough Riders, became presidente (of the US, not Cuba) and was a big advocate of Cuba’s independence from Spain. What this drink needs, is a slight variation to include some good ol’ American influence. Maybe a Stars n’ Stripes garnish.

Perhaps a dapper uniform.

Soused in SanFran – Part 2: SFO D1

This here is Part Two of the Grand Caliventure of November 2011.
For Part 1, make the clicking to here.

Hold on to your butts, this is going to be a long one.

The dawn did done diddly dawned Thursday morning as JJ and her husband scurried about the apartment and left for work and classes, respectively. The Lady Friend and I eventually changed out of sleepy pants and rallied for the day’s adventures. The one certainty on the schedule was a lunchtime visit to 21st Amendment Brewpub, but after that we were open until tentative happy hour plans with JJ. We decided to walk, since it was a couple miles away, and I like to wander and do some street shooting. Went down by the water to see the Bay Bridge on the way, and then were plenty ready for lunch and beer.

Slightly bigger than Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, NH. Slightly.

21st Amendment Brewery is a brewpub in the South Park area of SFO, and is apparently near AT&T Park, a baseball stadium that is a whopping 11 years old. How cute. Fenway is almost 100 years old, so suck it California. 21st is, of course, named after the Twenty-first amendment to the Constitution which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment of nation-wide prohibition. I’ve had several of their canned offerings including the Brew Free or Die IPA, Hop Crisis ImpIPA, and Hell or High Watermelon (of which I believe there’s still a can in the Lady Friend’s fridge.) While they don’t have an official sampler of their beers, you can order a sample of each, which we did. However, the normal canned beers (which apparently are canned in Cold Spring, MN) were not on the list. They might have been on tap, but we were at a table instead of the bar, and didn’t get a look. Here’s what we got:

We tasted right to left.

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (Guest Brew)
Nose: Apple fruit. Slight malt. Very light and airy aroma.
Taste: Green, unripe tree/ stone fruit. Tart, apple.

Rammstein Bavarian Wheat
Nose: Banana clove. Sweet and aromatic. The Lady Friend described it as “circus peanuts” that marshmallowy orange candy.
Taste: Initial spiciness, eases off to a banana/ bubblegum wheat flavor.

Roasted American Amber Ale
Nose: Roasted malt/ barley. Not a coffee roast, but a TOASTED aroma.
Taste: Burnt toffee. Not syrupy. Not quite toast-like, but essence of golden brown crust, like fresh baked bread. Slight copper metallic, but very slight. We both really liked this one.

Fireside Chat Dark English Ale
Apparently they’re canning this one, but I haven’t seen here yet.
Nose: Very weak aroma. A stir with a fork yielded some slight fresh-baked cinnamon bread aroma.
Taste: Cinnamon raisin bread. Gives way to a slight syrup maltiness with a touch of roasted bitter.

Schooner’s Oatmeal Stout (Guest Brew)
Nose: Roasted oats. Yep.
Taste: Bitter coffee, but eases off. Very smooth. Finishes with a roast bitterness lingering. Nice.

Two Rivers Granny Smith Apple Cider (Guest Brew)
Nose: Apple juice. Tart and sweet.
Taste: Tart start. Mouth puckering. Not too sweet, but finishes nice and apple-y. I’m not generally a cider fan, but this one was really nice, and not too acidic.

It was very lumber-y inside.

Following our sumptuous repast, we started wandering around with thoughts of heading down to a beer store where I planned to do some purchasing. However, though it began as a brisk, sunny day, by mid-afternoon it started to rain. Then pour. Plans for walking several blocks were aborted, and we about-faced to head towards Union Square. I had gotten in touch with a friend of mine from my former company, Qwadd Grafficks, who I met by chance on a tour of a printing plant in Wis-cahn-sin. She also turned up on one of our ski/snowboard house trips to Killington/Pico in Vermont (SnoHaus 2010). She left Qwadd to travel to France earlier in the year, and was now working as a bar manager in SFO. She traveled with two other Qwadd ex-pats, who, following the trip, became wine harvest interns in Sonoma County. Ke$hia Ho is a plucky little Asian girl with dance moves that demoralize any white boy within a seven-block radius, except perhaps Trevtastic. She rocks a New York fashion-sense, despite her Minnesota upbringing, and since I saw her last has developed quite an appreciation for, and knowledge of, cocktails. She had Thursday off, and agreed to meet us in Union Square, then hang out for the afternoon.

The Lady Friend and I ducked into a dark Irish sports bar to dry ourselves, just off of Union called Lefty O’Doul’s, who is apparently some former baseball player. It was appropriately dark, dank and bar-like, so we grabbed a couple stools at the end of the bar and ordered up two Anchor Porters. When in Rome. Sidebar: it also happened to be International Stout Day. A porter may or may not technically be a stout, depending on who you ask, but I had the oatmeal stout sample at lunch so THAT TOTALLY COUNTS. Louie, apparently a regular, was having a grand old time a few seats down slurping Heineken’s and hitting on the female waitstaff, who are plainly used to his advances. Ke$hia Ho strode in after a short time, and we departed for a bar called Top of the Mark, a hotel bar with commanding panoramic views of the city. Though the rain had stopped, this unfortunately meant hiking, and I do mean HIKING, up several of the steepest hills mountains I had ever encountered in a city setting. It’s not even funny.

The view was pretty nice.

So, Top of the Mark is a ritzy little cocktail and piano bar, and we flipped through the extensive drink menu looking for a tasty tipple. However, something quite alarming caught my eye: the Top of the Mark Negroni, made with Ketel One Citron, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Wait… what? A Negroni made with VODKA?? Guess what tardclowns, THAT’S NOT A NEGRONI. I should NEVER have to specify that I want GIN in a Negroni. Ugh. They lost all credibility for that one. Unbelievable.

Despite the waiter’s near unintelligible accent, we managed to place our drink orders, with Ke$hia Ho sipping on a French 75 (she had some champagne earlier in the day and wanted to keep the theme going) and the Lady Friend trying what she thought was a Tequila Sunrise, until something tasted a bit off. Turned out, she got a Tequila SunSET, which was Stoli, 1800, Grand Marnier and Grenadine. Take a tequila drink and dump in some vodka. What is the matter with this place? Anyway, the cocktails were pricey, the waiter unsuccessfully attempted claw his way through the English language, they massacre classic drinks, and we spent our time there next to a group of business types drinking Bud Light. In a cocktail bar. The only reason to go here is to see the views, which were very nice, but after you’ve seen it, there’s no excuse to go back. Also, the bathroom, while elegantly decorated, had the distinct bouquet of a thousand haunted farts, with strong overtones of wet dog. Time to leave.

So, leave we did, thankfully taking the bus instead of walking, to a bar called Harry’s to meet JJ for happy hour. Yes, SquirrelFarts, there is a Happy Hour. We’re not in Boston anymore. Nothing too special about Harry’s… casual, but nice, and dark. There were $3 drafts, including Lagunitas IPA and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Awesome. The Irish Lad isn’t a fan of Lagunitas IPA, though I’m still not quite sure why. I think it’s slightly pine bitter, but delicious.

As we were chatting, a girl came up to our table calling Ke$hia by some other name… I forget what. After some confusion, we figured out that apparently Ke$hia is this other girl’s doppelganger. When the other girl turned up, it was a pretty close match, and mild chuckling ensued. We had a few munchies until JJ arrived, looking rather drawn and haggard. A nice pint of Sierra Nevada revived her, and we all headed to a Peruvian restaurant for dinner, though some of us would have much preferred a slice of pizza.

The place was named Fresca The roasted chicken looked tasty, and that happened to be the one thing on the menu that the kitchen was out of. Super. So, I said I didn’t want anything else, and started doing some tasting notes on my Cuzqueña Peruvian lager (no nose whatsoever, a slight skunky “green glass” lager taste with some cereal grain sweetness. Also of note: it’s allegedly the only South American beer that adheres to the Reinheitsgebot; the German purity law that says beer must be made only from water, barley and hops.) I’m not sure if the notebook did it, (although I have had strange things like this happen before) but all of a sudden the waiter came back saying there was magically ONE more chicken in the kitchen, and would I like it? Um, sure. Maybe they thought I was some sort of reviewer or critic, but whatever the reason, I got my chicken. And it was tasty. As were the accompanying french fries I very nearly inhaled.

After that we called it an evening (since it was a work night for JJ). Ke$hia hopped a bus with plans to meet up with us again the next day, and the remaining three of us stumbled back down Fillmore to the apartment for another night of futon slumber. This was just day one: more drinking adventures to come!

Soused in SanFran – Part 1: The Pregame

This here is Part One of the Grand Caliventure of November 2011.

The Lady Friend and I had been discussing a trip out to California, for a number of reasons. She has a friend living in San Francisco, and Sissy moved out to some God-forsaken wilderness camp in Sonora, which is in the Sierra Nevada range. The Lady Friend loves Sonoma wines, and there are a number of legendary breweries in the area, so we made the plans and left Boston on Wednesday evening.

We parked next door to an old friend. Should’ve stopped for a quick preflight IPA.

We had some time to kill in Terminal C at Logan before the flight, and there happened to be a Boston Beer Works location right near our gate. Why, yes, a tasty beverage would be lovely before the flight, I though to myself, and helped myself to a Back Bay IPA, followed by a chicken sandwich and fries for dinner. When the bartender handed me the beer, she said “Have a nice flight,” and I pulled a Brian Regan by saying “You too!”

Yeah. Starting the trip off like an idiot.
Back to beer, the first of the voyage:

Back Bay IPA
Boston Beer Works

Nose: Mild hop bitter. Light cereal grain sweetness.

Taste: Hop bitter – piney. Sharp start, but eases off quickly. Clean, but dry hop resin finish makes you thirsty for more.

While sitting in the crowded restaurant, a group of three thirty-somethings shuffled in and parked at the table next to us, and set off one of my biggest peeves: ordering proper drinks. Keep in mind, we’re in Boston Beer Works, a small, local franchise of brewpubs that make some tasty beers. With a suspected hometown of Malden, Revere, or Lynn the first girl, clad in a green Red Sox hoodie, asked what the lightest beer was. Sigh. “The Pub Light,” was the waitress’s reply. Her male counterpart ordered a blueberry beer, and the second girl ordered a Pinot. There was an awkward pause until the waitress prompted her for more clarification “Pinot…?” “Grigio,” was the decision. Yes, Malden, there’s more than one kind of Pinot. Thanks for the info. After a few minutes, the fourth member of the group joined, and initally asked for a White Zin, prompting a visible shudder from the Lady Friend, (she’s a red zin drinker, and white zin is kind of her kryptonite) before having a Reisling. You know what? Here’s a vodka and Sprite, since apparently you just want sugary alcohol.
So, you’re at Boston BEER Works, and you’re ordering white wine. I understand that selections are limited at the airport, but there were several other restaurants they could have gone to without invoking my anger at hearing a light beer, a fruit beer, and two white wines ordered at a brewpub franchise. Here’s the deal: get on that plane, and don’t come back. There’s plenty of other douchebags just like you in Everett. Or Chelsea.

After a long, dark flight, where I exhausted my entertainment possibilities (including a masochistic viewing of “Engineering Disasters”) after about 45 minutes and elected to just put my head facedown on the tray table, we finally arrived. We taxied to the apartment where we were staying, which belonged to Lady Friend’s friend JJ. They met on their French winey trip some years ago and have visited and traveled together since. JJ is une petite fille blonde originally from West Virginia. Like Country-Roads-Take-Me-Home-type West VA. She had visited SquirrelFarts HQ earlier this year for a small cocktail party, and christened me with an appropriately Bacchanalian pseudonym, so we were previously acquainted. She has a soft, southern lilt that amusingly comes out only after a glass or two of wine. Over-hyphenation irritates her. Her husband is in dental school, and graciously allowed the Lady Friend and I to crash at their apartment for our trip. This would be SFHQ in SFO. Time to hit the futon and prepare for the adventures to come; the imbibing would begin in earnest on the morrow.

The Monday Hangover: Oct 29-30

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.

Cocktail night started off slow and easy with a soothing Negroni and a home-cooked meal, rather than the usual takeout. Saturday was the real drink adventure, as the Lady Friend and I ventured out into the stormy wet afternoon to attend the Curtis Liquor Annual Fall Beer Tasting.

Yowza. Bigger than I expected.

With something silly like 20 breweries serving 100+ beers, this was a crazy event for a retail store. About 1/3 of the store was taken over with folding tables and some great breweries. We wandered in with a list of all the beers available, and the Lady Friend wondered where we should start. There was a bit of a lull in front of Oskar Blues, so I replied “Right here.” They’re the ones responsible for the incredibly hoppy Dale’s Pale Ale, however we went for their Old Chub, a Scottish style ale, dark and malty. From there I don’t remember the order of our tastings, so here’s the rest.

Lost Sailor IPA Berkshire Brewing Co. (MA)
Nose: Weak nose… not much hop, but a mild cereal grain sweetness.
Taste: Good malt/ hop balance. Crisp and clean.

Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop Ale Sierra Nevada (CA)
Nose: Wow hop. Wet, green and grassy. Well, not quite grassy, but like a lush, juicy, unripe fruit. Watery, but not weak. Spring rain.
Taste: Lush hop start. Gradually turns to the bitter hop flavors. Very juicy and almost, but not quite, tart, like an unripe apple. I bought a bomber of this to try some more. It was wild.

Milk Stout Wachusett Brewing (MA)
They were out of the Larry IPA, which is a fantastic brew, so we both went with the milk stout. I didn’t know Wachusett HAD a milk stout, but apparently it’s been out for about a year and a half. The server was a wild character… would love to see his version of a brewery tour.
Nose: Coffee roast nose. Um. Yeah that’s all I got.
Taste: Smooth, slight syrup. Good roast bitter but hint of sweetness. Very nice. Smooth and creamy without being too sweet.

Pumpkin Ale Wachusett Brewing (MA)
The server initially poured me this one instead of the Milk Stout, so I drank it anyway.
Nose: Mild nose. Not really much to smell.
Taste: Subdued fall/ spiced taste. Not too strong. I don’t really like pumpkin beers, but this one was pretty mild and drinkable.

IPA Opa Opa (MA)
Nose: Weak nose with a mild fruitiness
Taste: Lots of malt. Some bitter hop in the middle, but very caramel malty overall.

Stowaway IPA Baxter Brewing Co. (ME)
We were planning to visit Baxter on our Maine Beerventure, but didn’t feel like making the long(er) trek upta Lewiston. This turned out to be a great chance to try their brews (all canned).
Nose: Sweet tree fruit hop, like citra.
Taste: Sharp! Bitter pine hop. Very sudden and arresting. Evaporates quickly. The second taste eased off leaving elements of sour, unripe tree fruit. Certainly an experience.

Extra Pale Ale Baxter Brewing Co. (ME)
Nose: Very foamy head. Smells cereal and/or fruity sweet.
Taste: Starts with a cereal malt. The hop bitterness eases in, but then finishes with a slight rubber staleness as I get with Czech Pils. I attributed this to green glass bottles, but since Baxter is canned, that theory doesn’t hold. Discussed it with the Irish Lad, but results are inconclusive. This will require more tasting and geekery!

Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale Harpoon Brewery (MA)
Nose: Very typical Harpoon nose, if that makes sense. It literally smells like most of their other beers, like the Munich Dark Lager.
Taste: Starts light, like the Oktoberfest, then turns sour. A tart, cranberry taste oozes in. Meh.

Thanksgiving Ale Mayflower Brewing (MA)
Every year, Mayflower brews a signature small batch of beer for Thanksgiving, available in limited quantities. I hadn’t ever had one, so we tried the 2011 offering.
Nose: Fruity sweet. More depth than just a malt aroma.
Taste: Thick, syrupy mouthfeel. Starts sweet, moves to a bitter roast, but not too sharp. Finishes almost stale, like a wet forest with rotting wood. Earthy and dank.

Perpetual IPA Tröegs Brewery (PA)
Hopped with Citra, Cascade and Nugget
Nose: Sweet Citra tree fruit nose, like nectarine.
Taste: Starts with the sweet Citra fruit, then delves into Piney Nugget-ness. Yum.
After the tasting, the Lady Friend snagged a sample 12-pack of the Tröegs. I guess she was impressed. They do make tasty beers.

Southern Tier 2X IPA Southern Tier Brewing (NY)
Ooooooh mamacita. Southern Tier makes some goooood beers. The next step up from this is their UnEarthly Imp IPA, which I’ve had and enjoyed many a time.
Nose: Malt. Some hop. Light body, light hop. Fruity and floral.
Taste: Malt start. Hop bitter in the mid and finishes slightly bitter as well. Quite nice.

Black IPA Otter Creek (VT)
This was at the Long Trail table, but I’ve had most of what Long Trail has to offer, so I went with this. The did have the Long Trail Imperial Stout (Brewmaster’s series) which the Lady Friend tried.
Nose: Hoppy bitter with some floral notes.
Taste: Piney hop start gives way to a bitter coffee roast mid. A clean, non-syrupy finish.

XXXX IPA Shipyard Brewing (ME)
Again, I’ve had most of Shipyard’s stuff, but I got the Irish Lad a bottle of this quadruple-X IPA and he seemed to enjoy it. Hadn’t tried it for myself, so went for it.
Nose: WOW – MALT. Malt malt malt. Like a caramel candy. Werther’s Original. Butterscotch.
Taste: Sweet and syrupy. Some hop in the mid, but not nearly enough to balance this malt bomb. Now I know why the Irish Lad liked it… he’s been going malty.

Guinness Black Lager Guinness (IRL)
Guinness’s Black Lager just came out a few months ago. I had heard about it from someone, but hadn’t tried it for myself. According to the promo girl, their main competitor is Heineken.
Nose: Light, and lagery.
Taste: Light pilsner lager taste. Foamy head. Pours a dark color, due to the brewing process, though there really isn’t much of the roasted barley taste you’d expect from a pour this dark.

Beer beer beer!

Naturally, the big local breweries were all in attendance, like Samuel Adams and Harpoon, and there was a strong showing from regional favorites like Mayflower, Blue Hills, Berkshire, Wachusett, and Opa Opa. Some great unexpected appearances by Oskar Blues (CO), Tröegs (PA), and Southern Tier (NY), though Saranac was a no-show. I found most of Saranac’s brews pretty uninspiring but was intrigued by their India Brown Ale, and the Lady Friend wanted the Vanilla Stout.

Following the beer tasting, we had some dinner before trekking up to Cambridge for an annual Halloween party with some friends of mine, an event not to be missed. There was an abundance of nice beer to start (the Lady Friend snatched up and hoarded a Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA) though someone later on plopped some Narragansett tall boys in the cooler. I guess the Samuel Adams winter pack is out, since I was able to grab a Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock, then their Old Fezziwig. The bock was very rich and dark chocolatey, while the Fezziwig was a bit too like their winter ale… spiced and kinda gross. There was that snowstorm that everyone is still complaining about, and we drove back in a slushy wet nightmare of a highway, though without serious incident. Bonus: when I looked out the window the next morning, not a drop of snow to be seen. Suck it, Western MA.

Are YOU a Turtle?

A couple months ago, I was in a meeting at work to view some upcoming TV pilots. One of the network sales women said something (I’m still not sure what it was) and caused our media manager to immediately turn to her and demand “Are you a TURTLE??”

“Uh… no…?” the woman stammered back, clearly confused by this sudden query.

“Oh. Never mind. It’s a drinking thing,” replied the media manager, which naturally caused MY ears to perk up and put the booze-sodden brain on alert mode.

Later that day, I popped into the media manager’s office to ask her what that whole turtle/ drinking thing was about. This is the woman who keeps magnum-sized bottles of vodka in her office, received as gifts from various clients. She’s horribly sarcastic and incredibly amusing, especially in drab meetings, and seems to know most people worth knowing in Boston. She said the turtle question was part of a drinking club from back in the day, and dug through her purse until she found a battered and folded index card. “Would you like to be a turtle?”

“Sure,” I replied.

“Ok then,” and she proceeded to read the speech printed on the card:

We assume all prospective Turtles own a Jack Ass. This assumption is the reason for the password. [UPDATE: This refers to the donkey of a sweet and kindly disposition that all Turtles are rumored to possess.]

This password must be given if you are ever asked by a fellow member, “Are you a Turtle?” You MUST then reply “You bet your sweet ass I am.” If you do not give the password in full because of embarrassment or some other reason, you forfeit a beverage of his choice. So always remember the password. [UPDATE: According to the official rules by Supreme Imperial Turtle Denis P. McGowan, “the negligent Turtle to forfeit an adult beverage to all Turtles present and/or within earshot.”]

As all members are of clean mind to become an official Turtle the person must solve the following riddles with clean-minded correct answers [UPDATE: Called the Sublime Test of the Four Questions]:

1. What is it a man can do standing up, a woman sitting down, and a dog on three legs?

2. What is it that a cow has four of and woman has only two of?

[UPDATE: An alternative official question is 2. What goes into a woman’s mouth hard and comes out soft and sticky?]

3. What is a four letter word ending in ‘k’ that means the same as intercourse?

4. What is it on a man that is round, hard, and sticks so far out of his pajamas that you can hang a hat on it?

After some prompting, I managed to come up with the four answers, and she proclaimed me a member of The Order of the Turtles. Now that I was officially in the club, I was even more intrigued. An old school drinking club? AWESOME. Was this a local thing, or well-known? When did it start? As near as I can piece together from various interweb sources, the story begins back in WWII, when Captain Hugh P. McGowan of the U.S. Army Air Corps 8th Air Force was a bomber pilot stationed in England. In his words:

“We were flying daytime bombing missions over Hitler’s Third Reich. We just wanted a little fun.
We had seen a sign showing that the ‘Ancient Order of Foresters’ and the ‘Royal Antedeluvian Order of Buffalos’ would meet in the local pub, and so I asked the governor of the pub what was that all about? The pub’s governor told us that the clubs’ local branches would meet in the pub’s back room, and that he would give them reduced prices for their pints and drinks for holding their meetings at his pub.
I asked him if our club could meet there, and he agreed, and asked for the name of our club.
I told him that we were the ‘Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles,’ and it stuck.

I devised the name ‘Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles’ for the fun of it. It soon spread throughout the bomber pilots, then the fighter pilots, and soon to other bombing groups and squadrons, and to other air bases. We even initiated members of the other Services, and soon,
even Allied pilots were being initiated as Turtles in the backrooms of pubs across England.

The Order was not meant to be serious, as it had no constitution or by-laws, no formal applications for membership, no dues or fees, and a simple initiation ritual. It was a relief from the horrors and dangers we saw every day on our missions. It spread after the War through the VFW and American Legion posts, and eventually, to colleges and even to the high schools of the U.S.A.”

Taken from this website, from the writings of Capt. McGowan’s son, Denis.

Now you’re talking my language. They were in a pub, and noticed that groups and clubs got discounted drinks, so they made up their own. When they got home, it spread throughout the country, and was apparently quite well known in the 1950s and 60s. There were “Turtle Parties” to recruit new members, complete with rituals, membership cards and little turtle lapel pins. Anyone else feel like drinking was a lot more fun back then? There’s even a Turtle Creed which reads:

Turtles are bright eyed, bushy tailed, fearless and unafraid folk with a fighter pilot attitude.
They think clean, have fun a lot, and recognize the fact that you never get any place worthwhile in life unless you stick your neck out.

[UPDATE: There’s also a secret grip, and hailing sign. The grip involves the phrase “Behold, my Brother! The secret grip of the Turtles! Feel the alcohol pulsing through each other’s veins!” The hailing sign requires the statement “Behold, my Brother! The hailing sign of the Turtles! See the noble Turtle sticking his head out of his shell, seeking his next drink to imbibe!” AWESOME]

When I said it was quite well known in the ’60s, I wasn’t joking. Freaking astronauts were doing it. I guess that makes sense, since a lot of them started off as military pilots. From Wikipedia:

“During the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission (part of the United States space program), astronaut Wally Schirra was asked by a ground controller whether he was a turtle. Not wanting to use vulgar language while his communications were being broadcast worldwide, he temporarily stopped transmitting while he gave the required response.”

[UPDATE from Denis McGowan: Brother Schirra, a U.S. Navy Captain and Naval Aviator who flew 90 combat missions during the Korean War, was asked the famous question if he was a Turtle during Brother Schirra’s Mercury flight, when a fellow astronaut and Turtle, Brother Donald Kent “Deke” Slayton (March 1, 1924 – June 13, 1993), a U.S. Air Force Captain who had flown 56 combat missions during World War II, had radioed up to Brother Schirra asking Brother Schirra if he was a Turtle. The entire world would have heard Brother Schirra’s response, so he switched off the radio speaker when he replied, in order to avoid the penalty of having to purchase a drink for all Turtles within earshot, and to avoid providing what might have been interpreted as a crude answer.

Brother Schirra got even with Brother Slayton during Apollo 7’s flight, when he wrote “Deke Slayton, are you a Turtle?” on a large object in front of the cameras for the NASA Public Affairs Officer, Brother Paul P. Haney, the “Voice of Mission Control,” and Brother Slayton to reply.

Brother Deke Slayton’s Turtle membership card and pin
were auctioned off for $290.00 on April 22, 2006.]

Dude, even the President was in on the joke. Again, from Wiki:

“President Kennedy was allegedly asked if he was a Turtle at a press conference, to which he replied, ‘I’ll buy you your drink later.'”

Ball-busting with JFK. Awesome.

So, how does this work? Ok, once becoming a member, you ask other members “Are you a turtle?” If they don’t respond with the proper password, they have to buy you a drink. That’s half the fun… you ask someone if they’re a turtle at a time when they’re caught off guard (the media manager does this all the time with her husband, and then demands champagne for her free drinks. I like her style) or when they can’t really reply with the proper password due to the word “ass.” Like an astronaut broadcasting worldwide from space, or a President at a press conference.

Yeah, now I’m betting you want to know how to become a turtle. Well, from other sites I’ve read, the initiation process can be very simple or very complicated, depending on the local chapter rules. Some make a game of it and place four drinks in front of the candidate before they answer the questions. Any vulgar or incorrect answer means the candidate takes a drink. A correct answer means everyone present takes a drink (including the candidate). Some chapters have different questions, but with the same basic theme: the obvious answer is vulgar, but the correct one is perfectly innocuous, though leading towards innuendo. Most of the information I found was on horrible Geocities, Tripod, and other free, terrible web servers. This makes sense given the advancing age of most original Turtles. However, I think it’s hilarious, and have jumped in and recruited several friends including the Lady Friend and Wifey, though I don’t think the Irish Lad has taken the plunge.

If anyone else has further knowledge of the Turtles, I’d love to hear about it. Is there a current Boston chapter? If you’d like to be initiated into the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles, feel free to comment and I’ll “officially” induct you. I’d really like to see if this thing is still going out there, or if we can bring it back, though I doubt we’ll get Obama into it; I don’t think he drinks as much as JFK did.

Also, this post was updated in several places after receiving a very informative email from Denis McGowan, the son of founder Cpt. Hugh McGowan. He currently holds the rank of Supreme Imperial Turtle, a title held by the successor to the founder. He very helpfully gave me a ton of “official” info on the Order, and I’ve tried to include it in the original post where possible.

Some other helpful links about the Order:
A pretty detailed history
The Wiki entry
Another helpful turtle site
Possibly the “official” site, since they own the domain name
Another “official” and extensive page, with a fictionalized history of the Order

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