Monthly Archives: March 2018

D-Day for Angel Face shakers

Less than a week until Easter and my children are going through the annual ritual of exposing my complete inadequacy in explaining the basics of Christianity. Seriously though, no one knows what Easter Monday is, do they?

But I do know how to match a cocktail to a holiday and this week, would like to introduce you to my new friend, Angel Face, which due to alphabetical determination, you’ll find sitting almost at the top of the list of The Unforgettables in the IBA list of Official Cocktails.

You’ll need equal parts of Calvados, Gin and Apricot Brandy. Shake or stir with ice.

Here’s a tip; when you’re reviewing a cocktail and you do it at a bar, take your cocktail photos before you take your cocktail.

Angel Face IBABecause I didn’t have this wisdom last week when I had dinner with one of my weirder friends, I’m using a photo of the Angel Face from the IBA website since I figure they owe me a break after all the tips for improvement I offer them on these pages.

Anyway, my friend told me a great story about Calvados.

First, the boring stuff.

Calvados is an apple brandy from Normandy in France. It’s classified as a cider brandy because the process to make it involves harvesting fruit (and it’s not uncommon for said fruit to constitute more than 100 different varietals of apple and pear), pressing it into juice, fermenting that into cider, distilling that into spirit, then ageing that for a minimum of two years in oak casks.

Anyway, blah blah, we’re not interested in the finer points of booze production, we like a rollicking yarn with our tipple here.

Back in 1944, on a Tuesday in June, my friend’s then 16 year old father was one of 156,000 Allied troops involved in the largest seaborne invasion in history, when they landed on beaches in Normandy on D-Day.

We’ll call him John, since that was the most popular boys name for babies born in England in 1924 and that’s close to 1928 when he was born.

Image result for maternity ward 1928
L to R: Babies John, John, John, John, John, John, John and John

John was 16 and his job was to drop open the front of the Landing Craft Assault so the troops inside could run out, then he had to head to the back of the boat and fire the machine gun to give them cover.

Again, for clarity, he was 16.

Thanks Wikipedia


John told his son that he thought that harrowing first scene in Saving Private Ryan was actually a fairly good representation of what it was like. I don’t know about you, but I emerged from that movie feeling like I needed counselling, and my experience of D-Day involved popcorn and air-conditioning.

Fast forward a couple of days (post D-Day, not when I saw the movie), and 16 year old Johnny and his surviving mates were given a day off. They wandered into the nearest village, where they were greeted by a grateful community who offered them Calvados.

And because he was 16, he got hammered. They all did.

There’s no cruel punchline here, they weren’t killed by Nazis when they passed out, but clearly there was a lot more crappy stuff ahead of those young men, so I’m happy they had the Calvados moment and whatever comfort it provided.

Now the great thing about this story, is as well as giving us all something awesome to raise our glasses to every time we have a Calvados, when my friend told me about the other small spots of comfort for these guys on those scary days and nights, it gave me the religion I will convert to if I ever stop being an Atheist.

The Quakers.

Quakers have been around since the mid-1600s and essentially believe in equality and tolerance and niceness and looking after the environment.

In 1963, the Quakers published “Towards a Quaker view of sex” which espoused a positive view of same-sex relationships, making them more progressive than any other religion I know and most Governments.

Here’s how they – and their religious peers – encouraged their members to vote in last year’s Marriage Equality postal survey in Australia.

From Eternity News, published weekly by The Bible Society Australia

Quakers are also pacifists, which brings us back to war-time John.

Quakers were told that they needed make individual decisions about how to reconcile their religion with the war. Many of them served in the Friends Ambulance Unit, which placed them close to the front without engaging in fighting.

Some of them – often the older guys – would go to the battlefields and try to provide comfort to the Allied soldiers in the form of cups of tea. Many of the Quakers got their heads blown off as they offered soldiers – and yes, let’s remember that 16 thing again – a cup of tea and a biscuit. And that’s something that John remembered 7 decades after those awful days.

Others were involved in getting children out of Nazi-occupied Europe, they were among the first into Belsen after the British liberated it, providing comfort and support there, others have helped establish Oxfam and Amnesty International.

Useful. Nice.

There’s a heap of other cool stuff to like about the Quakers.

They don’t drink, so that’s a problem for me, as is their belief in a God. Also, they don’t do Christmas or Easter, both of which I really like. But other than that, I think we’re a good fit.

So knowing that they wouldn’t join me, but also knowing that they wouldn’t judge me cos’ that’s not their bag, I’m going to toast the Quakers who delivered a cup of tea to my friend’s father, a child in a hideous place, with an Angel Face.

And with a neat Calvados, to John.

And you should too.

Whether or not you celebrate Easter for religious reasons, have a good one.


These arseholes are mine and eat the garden. Try THIS LINK to see another poorly-behaved Easter bunny


PS I can’t talk about the cricket yet. But we will.


I’m the Mary (Pickford)

Yes, we ran this last year. But we still love Mary, and Mary, and Mary.

So here it is again, your International

Women’s Day cocktail offering.




Today is International Women’s Day.

This is a huge day for some white blokes who lament the good old days of beheading unsatisfactory wives to complain about how they don’t get a day. You do actually, 19 November is International Men’s Day, but please, don’t let that get in the way of a good rant.

But on International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate a coupla kick-arse Marys who should be thanked for their lifetime work.

As they say on Survivor, first things first. The cocktail.

2016-01-12 19.44.21
Mary Pickford

The Mary Pickford is a rum-based cocktail that, like so many other rum cocktails – the Mojito, the Daiquiri, the Cuba Libre – was invented in Cuba aka the Paris of the Caribbean during Prohibition.

In 1928, a fellow named Basil Woon, who clearly knew how to spend his time wisely, penned “When it’s cocktail time in Cuba”, describing the country as “a land where personal liberty and climate are blended in just the right setting of beauty and romance.”

Who wouldn’t want to go there? Everyone who had the coin headed south for a break and some booze, including the biggest stars in the world.

It obviously became quite a scene, with good bartenders from all over the world heading there, including Fred Kaufman, the Brit who likely created the Mary Pickford.

Imagine you’re a bartender and in walk Jay-Z and Beyoncé and she asks you to make her a cocktail.

Now multiply that by about 1000.

In 1920, Mary Pickford walked into the Hotel Nacional de Cuba with husband Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin and asked for a cocktail. Fred delivered.

You’ve likely heard of Dougie and Chuck, but Mary? Well back in the day, she was about the most famous woman in the world. And she used that fame to establish a legacy that you probably benefit from a couple of times a week.

Born in Canada, Mary was known as American’s Sweetheart and was a massive star of
silent films.

She didn’t do as well with talkies (she completely 220px-mary_pickford-ziegfeldunderestimated the impact of sound in movies, claiming that “adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo” – yeah, whoops) but shook off her poor judgement and with Fairbanks and Chaplin established United Artists in 1919.

Yes, that United Artists, bringer of such joy as Skyfall, Hot Tub Time Machine and Survivor.

Pickford, Fairbanks and Chaplin set up United Artists to gain greater control of their careers from Studios in response to what they felt was unfair control exercised by over them. It was a massive move in an industry where actors hadn’t even been credited for their work just a few years earlier.

Mary and Doug were big news though.

When they honeymooned in Europe in 1920, there were near-riots as people tried to see them.

They had a house in Hollywood called Pickfair and had amazing dinner parties in their 16 year marriage – get invited and you might expect to exchange witticisms with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Noël Coward, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt and of course Fairbanks’ bestie, neighbour and perennial third-wheel Chaplin.

Pickfair (also the inspiration for Krusty the Klown’s house Schtickfair – genius) was fkp7am5zd9gx9dxmdemolished in 1990 by dickhead actress, singer and hair product enthusiast Pia Zadora – winner of the Razzies “worst new talent for the decade of the 1980s – apparently because of termites, a claim met with wide scepticism, something that was referenced by Blondie and Iggy Pop in 1990’s Well, did you evah?.

Zadora later changed her story and claimed that the house had been haunted by a former lover of Fairbanks.

An extraordinary coincidence that this landed her flagging career a gig on an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories. Hmmm.

Mary and Doug were also among the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927 (an initiative of the Studios, so pragmatism seemed to overcome any lingering resentment there), the same year they were also the first to put their hand prints in cement at Mann’s Chinese Theatre.

That’s what I said, big deals.

Sadly Pickford died an alcoholic in 1979, so might have been a good time to change the name of the cocktail but it remains in the IBA official list of cocktails – sitting alongside the Dry Martini in the category “The Unforgettables”.

This sweet, pink offering is made up of white rum, pineapple juice (fresh, please), grenadine and maraschino liqueur.

You’ll probably get Bacardi unless you ask otherwise, but I humbly suggest that with so many superior offerings available, it is time we moved on from our misplaced loyalty to the bat-logoed turpentine which is no longer even Cuban so that justification is gone (to be fair, not Bacardi’s fault, they were driven out of Castor’s Cuba and assets seized – we covered this is more detail HERE).

Go to a good rum bar like Sydney’s Lobo Plantation and ask the bartender for a white rum recommendation.

1806 in Melbourne is going a bit rogue and making Mary Pickfords with whisked egg whites – I haven’t tried that their offering but we know that SSM loves a good egg white cocktail and I can highly recommend their other offering8331244-3x2-700x467s so I’d say go for it.

Melbourne often leads the way in Australia, just as they are with crossing signals which seems to have a whole lot of dickheads up in arms this week.

Ya know, sometimes addressing the little things is what brings about the big changes.

Like our next Mary.

When you raise your glass tonight, I suggest quoting from 1997’s under-rated cinematic 220px-romy_and_michele_s_high_school_reunionmasterpiece “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” (please can we have more of Alan Cumming and Janeane Garofalo in the same movie?) and loudly claiming “I’m the Mary.”

This is, of course a reference to Mary Tyler Moore.

Some 50 years after Mary Pickford got her signature cocktail, Mary Tyler Moore kicked off a seven season run of a sitcom that starred an unmarried career woman aged 30. What was notable about this was that she was smart, happy and successful WITHOUT a husband or children. She wasn’t a widow, she was single by choice, having left her fiancé and moved to Minneapolis and started her job as a junior television executive.

Seems astonishing that this could have been so astonishing when it first aired, the day
before my first birthday. But it

Mary asked for equal pay. Mary stayed out all night on a date. Mary used birth-control pills. Phyllis’ brother was gay.

These were big issues in the 1970s and by using humour and pathos, the show managed to gently shift some attitudes.

Mary with her fabulous pants-suits and turning the world on with her smile, showed a generation of girls that being single and having a career needn’t be a consolation prize.

It’s you girl and you should know it.

If you grew up with Mary, you had a new normal.


You also had the brilliant Sue-Ann Nivens (hands-down best television character ever created – go to THIS POST where we covered her work, watch the clip and tell me I’m wrong?), Rhoda Morgenstern, Lou Grant, Ted Baxter, Georgette Baxter, Murray Slaughter and Phyllis Lindstrom (and the ever-off-screen Lars). Great characters and actors all.

And it is still hilarious and relevant.

So on IWD, thank you, Mary Pickford for using your fame to create a new role for women in Hollywood (and for the enduring charitable legacy you created), thank you Mary Tyler Moore and Mary Richards for gently creating positive options for young women, thank you Dame Mary Gilmore for fighting for the disadvantaged, thank you Mary Wollstonecraft for being the original suffragette, thank you Mary J Blige…

Today, J’suis Mary.


Cosmo? No, cos…

When I was at University, there was no-one quite as patronising as the Mature-Aged Students.

In spite of also being First Years, they seemed to have an extraordinary amount of wisdom that they needed to impart to me and my cohort.

This wisdom covered many areas, and group assignments were an excellent opportunity for me to receive vital and comprehensive tips on how to improve the way I lived my life. Tips mostly completely unrelated to our course of study.


One particularly special piece of advice I received was that ladies don’t drink beer, they drink wine or cocktails.

Thanks Ken, in return, I’m offering you the handy tip that your moustache is out of date and you can probably fuck off.

Image result for stalin moustache

Fast forward a few decades and I think there would be a few people very surprised to learn that simply by virtue of changing tastes, apparently I am now a lady.

A cocktail and wine-chuggin’ lady.

Oh I know, the times they are a-changin’ and I’m sure that Mature-Aged Students can acquit themselves with more collegiality now, and that we are all smart enough to know that there’s no such thing as a gender-specific drink anymore.

But what cocktail do we cover ahead of that most beautiful celebration of love and equal rights, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras?

Well I was stumped.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I was scrolling through the website of one of my favourite liquor retailers this morning and discovered (as I put a way too large and loud Dorito in my mouth, seriously, when are we going to address this issue with an appropriate lady-snack?) that there are indeed gender-determined drink categories we should be sticking to.

For Men, it is beer (of course), American Whiskey/Bourbon and Red Wine.

For Ladies, it is Champagne, White Wine and Vodka.

Liquor screenshot.png

So it seems that in spite of what I thought back in University, in this week before International Women’s Day, the answer is actually clear.

I need to order up a Cosmopolitan.

I’ve been avoiding the Cosmo, not because I dislike it, but because of the association with a show that, while entertaining, did what I consider to be an enormous amount of damage to the image of modern women around the turn of century.

Sex and the City.

And frankly, it’s still causing problems.

My beef with SATC is long and multi-faceted and to be honest, far too dull to grace these pages. But in brief, shoes are not a substitute for personality, women can also be arseholes and isn’t is fucking marvellous to be rich and white and living in NYC and still living way beyond our means because we know a bloke will save us from ourselves soon?

But in spite of all of that, apparently the Cosmopolitan exists independent of the Carrie/Samantha/ Sarah-Jessica/Kym feud and I should give it a red-hot go.


SATC Cosmo on a plane

The Cosmopolitan’s history apparently dates way back to a time when the Huxtables were showing us the raise way to raise our families and wear our awesome sweaters.

1987 (also a time when Mature-Aged Student Life Advice entered my life).

The IBA recipe calls for citrus vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice and lime juice.

It’s sweet and pleasant enough and the cranberry juice will help you ignore your cystitis symptoms until the hangover moves in to eclipse them.

So that’s a nice bonus.

For me, and you know my feelings on vodka, I think if you’re going to use flavoured vodka, you might as well use gin (even though we now know ladies aren’t supposed to be drinking that).

So I’d suggest shaking up a new cocktail, one more interesting than a Cosmo and named after someone who did much more interesting things on television around the turn of the century. I kind of made it up so I get to name it.

The Ellen de Marvellous.

Cool Ellen.jpg

Shake 40mLs of GIN (that’s the part I made up, substitute the vodka for gin, we used Hendricks), 15mLs Cointreau, 30mLs of Cranberry juice and 15mLs of fresh lime juice with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

In 2018, Ellen de Generes turns 60, celebrates her 10th wedding anniversary and marks 20 years since her show Ellen was cancelled after the network cut back on the promotion of it following her coming out the year before. The Walt Disney Company was parent company of ABC and apparently didn’t like the subject matter.

Ellen magazine cover.jpg

Yes, fortunately the times have indeed a-changed but that was CRAZY BRAVE at the time and by being brave – and nice, Ellen’s comedy isn’t mean or exclusive – Ellen de Generes has contributed mightily to that change to the point that maybe even moustachioed Ken could begin to accept that a lady can drink whatever she damned-well pleases.

And this lady and her bloke damned-well please to throw off the strictures of what we’re apparently meant to drink by virtue of our chromosomes and sit on the couch, watch the Mardi Gras Parade on television and down some cool Ellens this weekend as we raise a glass in gratitude to all the warriors for equality.