It was a dark and stormy night…

Week 48 in The Year of Drinking Adventurously. Ginger beer.

Right about now you’re asking yourself what business ginger beer has being part of a drinking adventure. Ginger beer, as well as ginger ale is a non-alcholic beverage. Right? Right? Well, it so happens, ginger beer is a product of fermentation and as such does contain a trace amount of alcohol -less than 0.5%, the legal threshold for marketing something as non-alcoholic. And in fact, ’twas not always the case. Ginger beer, when it originated, was a much more potent potable than its modern day counterparts. Today’s ginger beers are heated to kill off the fermenting yeast and to boil off the majority of the alcohol, leaving a scant remnant behind.

51fffcpqPZL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_According to our guide, several ginger beer brewers have returned to their roots and rather than halt the fermentation process, are allowing the yeast to work its magic and produce more alcohol. I was unable to sample the products recommended, however, but I’ll list them here in case you want to give them a try: Crabbie’s, Ginger Grouse, Hollows & Fentimans -all companies in the United Kingdom. Maybe Lula had better luck…

I do occasionally indulge in a cocktail that makes use of the ‘non-alcoholic’ ginger beer, however, and this is the connection to Snoopy if you hadn’t figured it out…

The Dark and Stormy: dark spiced rum (I like the Captain Morgan Black Rum) over ice mixed with ginger beer. Basically it’s a Cuba Libre with ginger beer instead of Coke. And it’s definitely better in the summertime by the pool. But why not sip as you sit in front of the typewriter,  composing your noir thriller.

And an update from a couple weeks ago… Remember the pickle back? A shot of whiskey or other spirit followed by a shot of pickle juice? Well, in an attempt to be a good sport, I tried it. I had a shot of Woodford reserve bourbon followed by a shot of Klaussen’s kosher dill pickle juice. And…. it wasn’t awful. I can’t quite grasp the point of covering over the flavor and warmth of a nice whiskey with the brine of pickle, though. At least I can say I’ve tried it. Cheers!

Image (of course) from Peanuts by Charles Schulz

🎶When the samba takes you…🎶

Week 37 in the Year of Drinking Adventurously. Cachaca.

Back to the adventure! I succeeded in finding this week’s spirit (although not any one of the brands recommended in our guide) and sampling the classic cachaca cocktail – the caipirinha, which is cachaca, lime juice and simple syrup poured over ice. (Just like a gimlet, only with cachaca. And I love gimlets.) I hope Lula had the chance to try this!

Since cachaca is distilled from sugar cane, it is often called Brazillian rum. However, while rum is distilled from molasses, the dark syrupy product of sugar, cachaca is distilled from the pure juice of the sugar cane plant. In addition, cachaca predates rum by about 100 years. And since its origins are somewhere in the 1530’s, it also means it’s the first spirit of the Americas (as in New World America… I am not going to assume the native populations didn’t produce something distilled or fermented, I really don’t know. That, however, is a subject for another day.)

As with many things old, there is a legend associated with the ‘discovery’ of cachaca, but it’s not a nice one… From our guide:

The legend associated with it—the part that falls squarely in the myth column—relates to its unexpected discovery. When the early colonials were processing sugar cane by boiling it, the steam would condense back to water on the roof. It would drip off the ceiling and sting the badly scarred backs of slaves. It supposedly got its nickname, “pinga,” that way. It was the “ping, ping” from the ceiling; probably not a legend on which makers of cachaça (or the slangish “pinga,” if you prefer) really would want to hang their hats. Slavery’s not something that a brand would proudly market as its heritage.

Not cool….

So my cocktail as seen in the photo above was good… Honestly I’d have to sample it side by side with a rum for comparison, but I enjoyed my drink. As I was pressed for time, I did not try it neat, which I am generally want to do. 

Anyway, cachaca being from Brazil, it reminded me of the samba – the dance originating from that country which in turn reminded me of the song… Avalon.

But when the samba takes you out of nowhere… Enjoy some sexy Roxy Music…