Monthly Archives: January 2016

Egg Whites Only Allowed

Last time, we saw Bryan Brown in Cocktail, boldly downing a Red Eye, an alleged hangover cure that contains tomato juice, vodka, beer, tabasco sauce and a whole egg in a drinkihqdefaultng experience that must be akin to vomiting in reverse.

It seems only fair to position the egg in a more positive light for its contribution to drinking. And it does feature in a surprising number of cocktails.

I’m not a massive fan of the Nogs or the Flips which contain a whole egg, but I will concede that I may not have explored these at their finest. I favour the Sour or the Fizz. A Fizz can contain the egg white, yolk or both, and the Sour contains the egg white only – if at all. The defining characteristic of a Sour is that it has a citrus base.

Like the Peruvian Pisco Sour, an excellent place to start.

Pisco is a brandy made in Peru and Chile (but the Chilean Pisco Sour doesn’t contain egg), and when mixed with lemon juice, egg white and couple of other simple ingredients (it’s another IBA Official Cocktail) creates a tangy and frothy cocktail.

I say leave matters to the professionals and can recommend a sashay down AC/DC Lane in Melbourne to Pastuso for their Journey Through Peru set menu and accompanying Pisco Sours. Yes I can.

Unsatisfied with leaving you, dear readers, with only one road-tested eggy cocktail, I worked tirelessly over my holiday and went to a bar in Christchurch.

Christchurch has had a bastard of a time since the quakes in 2010 and 2011 and there’s still parts of the city with extensive damage. But trust those plucky Kiwis, there are cool bars and restaurants aplenty, and to assuage parental travel guilt, try the brand spanking new Margaret Mahy Playground where you’ll need to resist the temptation to elbow the kids out of the way and hog the equipment.  Best playground ever.

But quick, back to the bar.

Jamaica Sour.jpgAt Mexicano’s I tested the rum-based Jamaica Sour, the hibiscus making it pretty but more sweet than sour, before shifting to the Loco Explosivo, a tequila, Grand Marnier, chili and egLoco Explosivo.jpgg-white offering. The egg-white in both adds little discernible taste, but the shaking makes the egg-white fluffy, with a latte-like foam on top. A counterpoint to the chili-burn.




Plus an option to buy a moustache.

After the Explosivo, this seemed a capital idea, although the $2 spent on my new look seemed an awful waste of the thousands of dollars I have spent on hair removal over past decades.


Sour done, on to the Fizz.

Back in the 1980s, you’ll remember a fantastic little quartet from England won Eurovision with THIS great song. Their name was Bucks Fizz (annoyingly without an apostrophe), which is also allegedly the name of a cocktail.

Except, much as you wouldn’t technically call Bucks Fizz a band (even if, like me, you know ALL the words to Land of Make Believe and Making Your Mind Up – and I defy you to name a single other BF song without using the internet), Buck’s Fizz the cocktail isn’t a Fizz, even though it does have an apostrophe. Nope. It’s just champagne and orange juice.

See real Fizz has egg. There’s Silver Fizz, which contains egg white, Golden Fizz with egg yolk and Royal Fizz with the whole enchilada. And the secret is in the shaking baby (and check out the shaking in the clip below, paying particular attention 1:17 where Cheryl expertly deals with a flaccid mike and to the extras throughout who apparently serve to make up The Land of (piss-weak) Make Believe – oooh it’s so mystical, a juggler, a fire-twirler, an old-fashioned couple and a body-builder doing pointless pec wiggling at 2:42. Ah, the 1980s).

And the Ramos Fizz, that’s a REAL Fizz. Created in 1888 in New Orleans by Henry C Ramos and becoming such a hit at Mardi Gras that Ramos’ bar employed 35 Shaker Boys working solely to meet demand for the cocktail in 1915. A great cocktail, but labour-intensive as this video shows. Your Shaker Boy or Girl will need to shake for between 1 and 12 minutes, first without ice (the Dry Shake), then with the ice. Don’t stand for a one minute shake, that’s just lazy. Don’t order one on a Friday night before Christmas at the255b3a1600000578-2940573-image-m-2_1423139839092 Opera Bar. That’s just rude. And tip your bartender. That’s just polite.

For reasons I can’t quite get to the bottom of, the cocktail is attached to Tennessee Williams and is drunk regularly in his honour in New Orleans. I can’t find much evidence of Williams favouring the cocktail, nor writing much about it. In this PARIS REVIEW interview, he speaks of his heavier-drinking days and of wine, but this isn’t a cocktail you’re going to be downing at a Hemingway rate. Too much effort and can’t be slipped into a flask for opening nights.

But Williams would no doubt have approved of the phalanxes of Shaker Boys, and his work has been important in “normalising” homosexuality in entertainment, in getting the conversation out of the closet. (And read Caitlin Moran’s excellent Gay Moon Landing piece from The Times in 2011 for a fab discussion about the importance of art in advancing human rights. Better yet, buy Moranthology and get this plus a great interview with Keith Richards that I was reading on plane as it landed, immersed in marveling that this man could still somehow be alive as phones around me were turned on and news spread that David Bowie had died. Still seems impossible).

Interestingly, Williams (again in Paris Review) explicitly says he never felt much of a need to explore homosexuality in his work, but he certainly does in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

p5702_p_v8_aaIf you haven’t read this, or seen the 1958 movie, I’d recommend you do both. The movie adaptation glossed over much of the relationship between Brick and Skipper, but it’s still a worthwhile watch, and not just for the exquisite beauty of Elizabeth Taylor or the blue of Paul Newman’s eyes.

There’s only one cast member from the movie still alive, Madeleine Sherwood who played “that monster of fertility, Mae” and owns every single scene she’s in. Pregnant Mae also reminds us of how pleasing it is that maternity fashions have progressed in recent decades. I have a massive girl-crush on Sherwood and would love to have a cocktail with her.screens_string2

In 1963, Sherwood was arrested and jailed in Alabama (in her grey plaid culottes) as she joined the Freedom Walk. The Freedom Walk was started by white mailman Bill Moore in April 1963 when he attempted to walk from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi to hand deliver a plea for racial tolerance to the Governor. He was shot dead. One week later, nine activists attempted to finish his walk but were beaten and jailed. This was the first of five unsuccessful attempts to complete Moore’s delivery. Sherwood risked her safety and her livelihood in this post-McCarthy-era but her presence drew important attention to the Congress on Racial Equality’s non-violent direct action (read Mary Stanton’s Freedom Walk: Mississippi or Bust for more).

0Sherwood also portrayed Mother Superior in The Flying Nun, the super-strange late 1960s TV series in which Sally Field’s Sister Bertrille can’t actually fly, is just so dangerously underweight that she gets lifted away by the wind under her coronet. There’s a good message for the kids. Here’s an episode where the nuns conspire to get their hands on a huge organ. (I don’t recommend you spend 23 minutes of your life watching it, but I wanted to make that organ joke).

But Sherwood’s greater work Cat on a Hot Tin Roof deals with gender roles and vicious fights for control of a dynasty. I’m sure it has been much on the minds of the various iterations of Bucks Fizz as they battled in court over who owns the name. Good news for fans is that you can catch one of the new iterations (there are two, Bucks Fizz is proliferating at a dangerous and unnecessary rate) at London Hippodrome on 1 April 2016 as they commemorate 35 years since their Eurovision win. Somehow there are still tickets available to a concert where people will know precisely two songs.

Maybe that’s unfair, there is possibly a new generation of fans (clearly not the guy who posted this on You Tube though, take a look at his commentary) who came from facial-hair-free-perpetual-blonde Bucks Fizz core member Cheryl Baker’s stint on BBC morning television with her fantastically and symmetrically-named Eggs ‘N’ Baker.












Fiji: where cocktails go to die

I have just returned from Fiji. And as ungrateful a wretch as I am aware this makes me, coming home felt like being paroled.

Thinking about Fiji evokes strains of Wham’s 1983 classic Club Tropicana (and watching the clip I am again struck by how much information I must have deliberately disregarded to maintain my persistent fantasy of marrying George Michael.

Case in point: The clip starts with young women in bikinis and high heels but stick with it and not only will you get the mustachioed bartender, you’ll get George and Andrew blowing enormous horns together, joyfully wham-club-tropicana-1340295432-view-0riding around on asses and living an unconvincing costume hire shop airline pilot fantasy – it’s a very CLEAR MESSAGE to the young girls of 1983 and I can’t believe I missed it. In my defence, I was distracted by the handsomest man alive and his white teeth and Speedos).mqdefault

While I did not wear high heels with my bikini, Fiji is like Club Tropicana – it’s very pretty in a blue water and coconut tree way and the people are welcoming and friendly. The water is warm and the drinks are cold and that’s pretty much everything that is ever communicated about Fiji.

But as a conscientious-objector to the sun, every trip out of my room – which I am obliged to refer to as a “bure” in a manner I find pretentious – is a dangerous exercise.

The Cancer Council would be delighted with my adherence to their best-practice sun safe guidelines, but it becomes hot, even in the shade.

The shadeless pool offers as much refreshment as lowering yourself into a vat of fresh urine.

Which you probably are.  Pool
Then there is the self-loathing that comes with the use of so many plastic water bottles in your vain attempt to stay hydrated, and the environmental guilt associated with the use of the air-conditioner at night, none of which is really compensated for by the hotel’s generous offer to only launder your towels every second day – unless of course you are such a bourgeois colonialist that you plan to throw them on the floor and insist they be replaced. More guilt and damp towels.

Nightfall brings mosquitoes the size of small birds lying in wait outside. Inside the room – sorry, bure – these are apparently dealt with by my resident gecko. This disrupts my sleep since I know from living for three long, frizzy-haired years in the tropics that geckos defecate regularly and generously from above, potentially into the open mouth of the bure’s resident guest.

And sadly, the bar offers little compensation.

Shady Lady.jpgWhen the Cocktail of the Day does not change for a week, costs AUD$15, lists the wrong ingredients for a fairly well-known cocktail (see the real Shady Lady recipe at and features ice-cream, I approach the bar with modest expectations.

Fiji has, quite sensibly, built on its climate and its sugar cane industry to complement its beer offering and come up with some quite creditable rum in recent decades.

The warm wind and palm trees evoking Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, I decided to try it.

Diabetic Hemingway would not have touched a cocktail with ice-cream, but favoured rum cocktails – both the daiquiri and then the El Papa Doble – the Hemingway Special Daiquiri.

Both use white rum – Bacardi – but even dark rums are categorised along with vodka, gin, tequila as “White Spirits” and compete together for awards in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (which gave Best Rum in the World to a Fijian rum in 2014).

So what I wanted to order was this:

El Papa Doblehemingway252b2cc252bdaiquiri

2.5 jiggers white rum

Juice of 2 limes and half a grapefruit

6 drops of maraschino liqueur

Shake with crushed ice

Fiji does have a white rum (Bounty). But not on offer this day (sigh). So not an option if I wanted to try the local offering.

Hemingway’s literary greatness is often ascribed to the simplicity of his prose. Not a single superfluous word survived his editing.

In that spirit, I turned to more simple dark rum recipes. And without any reliable internet coverage (another joy of island life), mined my memory of bad movies to help.

cocktail_1988In 1988, while I worked at Hoyts Queen Street Mall in Brisbane, Cocktail was released. You may remember Tom Cruise as Brian Flanagan – the publicity for the film referred to his performance as “electrifying” – which possibly has a different meaning in the USA.

It is notable that I worked at the cinema during Cocktail’s release because kids, back in the day, the usher stayed in the cinema for the ENTIRE MOVIE, ready to brandish our torches and provide comfort and guidance to our patrons (a bit like the Pointer Sisters doin’ the Neutron Dance but FAR more professional). So I have seen this movie perhaps 60 times.

In case you have not been so fortunate, young Flanagan leaves the Army, joins business school and is mocked for his plan of opening a chain of Irish bars. He meets Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown who actually is something close to electrifying) who teaches him his trade and they work for tips, entertainscreen-shot-2012-08-19-at-4-38-45-pming the customers with “flair bartending“, another trend from the 1980s that, along with the fashions of 1988’s superior offering Heathers, I am happy to report, has largely disappeared.

Just get me my damned drink already.

Long before we get to our show-pony flair-tenders’ Hippy, Hippy, Shake scene in Cocktail, poor Brian (Flanagan, not Brown nor Brian, Chotchkies’ finest in great 1999 movie Office Space who totally rocked the flair with an astonishing 37 pieces) is drowning in drink orders, including one I’d never heard of back then, the Cuba Libre.

This is where is saddens me to report that Tom Cruise was WRONG.

Surprising, I know. But the Cuba Libre (translation: Free Cuba) isn’t a rum and coke. It’s a common mistake, even made by everyone’s favourite pedant Dr Sheldon Cooper in THIS link from The Big Bang Theory.

No, according to the International Bartenders Association (IBA), it’s a Contemporary Classic (along with cocktails we’ve already covered – the Bloody Mary and Tequila Sunrise) and contains rum and coke AND lime juice – not just a lime garnish, but lime juice.

It was allegedly invented in Cuba around 1900 when American troops first introduced Coke to Cuba following the Spanish-American War which followed the USA’s support of Cuba in the Cuban War of Independence.cubalibre-002-de12

Papa Hemingway would have approved of the simplicity, if not the sweetness.

I ordered an Cuba Libre, I got a rum and coke with a wedge of lime, but it was cold, the Fijian rum was good and there was no ice-cream to be seen.

That’ll do.

So here’s to cold drinks on hot days and beauty in simplicity.

Next time – raw egg with your drink?


PS In case you have been swept up in a fit of nostalgia and think watching Cocktail might be a good idea, cure yourself by watching this Jamaican bar scene where noted feminist Cruise says “Wouldn’t be any fun if they fell over with their legs in the air now, would it?”. Oh shut up and go ride an ass round the island Brian.



Play it again Sam

Hi Muddlers

We had a great time talking all-things Bloody Mary on radio last week with Liz Ellis. If you missed it, this link will take you to the show and our chat started at 1:09 mark.

We’re back tonight talking about another Mary drink and dealing with some conjecture from last week’s discussion.

9:35pm in Sydney (702) and Melbourne (774) and Adelaide (891), 8:35pm in Brisbane (612).

Join me if you can and get ready to have a RUM with me in a new post tomorrow.





Hair of the dog anyone?

The first day of the New Year. Another rolling over of the clock, another chance to tut-tut about how each one rolls by a little faster than it used to.

And we seek to wrest control of that ticking clock by making resolutions about the year ahead. This year I will be in control of my weight/smoking/drinking/budget/relationships/swearing.


I’ve pretty much had them all, and every year I plan to travel more and vacuum less. One year I resolved to spend the year talking more like the Fonz and did indeed tell a few people to “Cool it” and once said “Exactamundo” so I guess you would call it a moderate success. (It wouldn’t qualify for a gold medal, but perhaps a bronze – like this Bronze Fonz 507d4a58-cd26-429a-89ef-cd263757dee8statue I bet you didn’t know existed in Milwaukee).

But this year  my resolutions are all about the writing – more and better.

I’ve often entertained romantic notions of how much writing I would get done if we could just pack up as a family and move somewhere isolated for a couple of months.

Like being winter caretakers in a big hotel. Somewhere the children could the-shining1-600x337joyfully ride their tricycles down long, empty corridors and pass the time having unsupervised carefree adventures. If you haven’t seen The Shining, it’s a great advertisement for any career other than being a writer and offers solid rationale for parents of identical twins not to dress them in the same outfits.

Unfortunately, neither hotel used in the film has such an employment opportunity. Both The Stanley Hotel in Colorado which was Stephen King’s inspiration for the book, and Timberline Lodge in Oregon which gave the external shots for the 1980 film are open for guests over winter. You can go to both and even work on your hangover next New Year’s Eve at a fancy party.

But in Kubrick’s film, we see Jack Torrance as he descends into madness, jack-nicholson-at-the-bar-shining1bellying on up to The Gold Room at The Overlook and asking creepy Lloyd for another New Year’s tradition – a hair of the dog that bit him. Jack’s is bourbon on the rocks. That’s hard-core.

There is some bio-chemical logic behind the hair of the dog, about moderately replenishing ethanol levels while you suffer alcohol withdrawals, but its origins are super-dodgy. The idea was that if you put some dog hair in the open wound you received from the bite of the same rabid dog, you wouldn’t get rabies. I think medical science has moved on somewhat – if you do suspect you’ve been bitten by a rabid dog, here’s NHS Rabies advice on what to do. It isn’t booze or quick trip to the dog-grooming salon.

I’m similarly sceptical about the notion of drinking when you have a hangover. You never forget being so sick you have to throw up in your handbag on the Tube. And after that, heading for the nearest pub isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you’ve finally surfaced to suck down some fresh London air.

Or so I’m told.

But I do love the occasional matutinal drink. Lest you think I am a massive wanker, “matutinal” is a new word for me – one I picked up in researching this blog post. It means “of or occurring in the morning” – isn’t it nice? A matutinal champagne or scotch on Christmas Day really adds to the festivities.

And then there is the queen of all matutinal drinks – the Bloody Mary.

The Bloody Mary was scientifically short-listed as a Xmas One-for-the-Venn diagramRoad-Test due to its prime position in the Venn Diagram at Shake, Stir, Muddle HQ and because of all the interesting stuff there is to know about it.

Like all good cocktails, its origins are contested. If you want to read a full history, you can do that here, but in brief, it looks like bartender Fernand “Pete” Petiot likely invented it at King Cole Bar at St Regis Hotel in New York – “invented” in this instance meaning enhancing the existing vodka and tomato juice combination that had been regularly served at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, where Pete worked before moving to St Regis.

It had to have a different name at St Regis because Bloody Mary offended the sensibilities of the NY establishment. And probably not without cause.

220px-mary_stuart_queenBloody Mary was named after Queen Mary I, who, among other things put a lot of non-Catholics to death before her sister Queen Elizabeth I took the throne and re-balanced the population by putting a lot of Catholics to death.

If you fancy some good amateur occult stuff, you can try chanting Bloody Mary three times into a mirror and she will appear before you. It didn’t work for me, possibly because I didn’t have the lighting right. Certainly when I opened my eyes, there was a woman in the mirror and she did look a bit rough, but that’s nothing a bit of lipstick won’t fix.

Dot red dress 90 left.jpg
My daughter in her Xmas dress not giving a rat’s about her future husband’s face

Apparently if you see Bloody Mary, you should taunt her about her childlessness – this in reference to Queen Mary’s multiple miscarriages and false pregnancies. Seems to me like doing that makes you a massive jerk though.

Or you can engage in the Bloody Mary ritual that encourages young women to walk up a flight of stairs backwards, holding a candle and a hand mirror. Possibly a recipe for a sprained ankle and one burnt-down stately manor, but if you can negotiate the hazards of a maxi dress, you’ll see in the mirror either the face of your future husband, or a skull, which will indicate that you will die before you marry.

Another source tells me that the avenging spirit in the Bloody Mary myth is sometimes called “Mary-Jane”. This, I think, explains a lot.

At this point in the blog post I generally like to reference a mediocre Michelle Pfeiffer movie but sadly, I’ve come up short this time. I’m sure she has thrown a Bloody Mary back somewhere in her celluloid history, but I haven’t found it.

Rather than harassing long-dead childless monarchs or wasting time on Michelle Pfeiffer back-catalogue though, I decided to make lemons into one tablespoon of lemon juice and add it to a cocktail.

Bloody Bulldog left 90.jpgBloody Mary’s cousin, Red Snapper. A gin-based variant which pre-dates old Mary and which has become my new preferred tomato-based cocktail.

  • 4 parts tomato juice
  • 2 parts Gin (I used Tanqueray)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp horseradish
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes ground black pepper
  • 4 dashes Tabasco
  • 1 celery stalk for garnish

It couldn’t be easier to make – fill a tall glass with LARGE ice cubes (small ones melt too fast and dilutes the tomato juice, changing the taste), pour in ingredients, stir, drink.

Repeat as necessary.

The Red Snapper does lose a bit of the brilliant red of the Bloody Mary and the horseradish does look unsettlingly like fly larvae in your glass but you don’t see that from above. And it’s so worth it.  This baby tastes

Bloody fine Bloody Mary
Biltmore’s Bloody fine Bloody Mary

nourishing, especially if you crank up your garnishing levels like they do at Frank & Albert’s at the Arizona Biltmore and add pickles, salami, mozzarella cubes and olives. Have two and you can call it brunch.

And before you go, there is a happy ending with this post.

The Red Snapper is also referred to as “The Snapper”.

This is also the title of a 1993 movie where unmarried 20 year old Sharon Curley upsets the balance in her small Irish village by becoming pregnant to an undisclosed source. During the pregnancy, Sharon sports a perm just like the one I had in the late 1980s (hers was longer than the jaunty crop in this photo, but Hong Kong permfor obvious reasons, little evidence survives of my long perm, large shoulder pads era – and in my defence, it was well gone by 1993) and throws up into her handbag, just like someone I know has done.

Stephen Frears directed.

He also directed The Queen, High Fidelity and Dangerous Liaisons.

Which starred none other than Michelle Pfeiffer as Madame Marie du Tourvel.


Cheers and Happy New Year beautiful people.