Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Books At My Jobs Series: Hellraisers by Robert Sellers

Though this blogpage is still on hiatus in terms of cocktail drinking and creation, I am trying a new angle in order to shake the rust of the last few months. Now I'm not sure if you all out there know but I am no longer bartending. I'm not even working in a bar. I am currently working as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble and have started a new angle to my blogging. On my Facebook page Sisco Vanilla, I've started a new photo album entitled Books At My Job. Now, I'll go into the first two books in the album at a different time. For now I'll focus on the third book which goes hand-in-hand with my SiscoVanilla At The Movies Posts.

Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed by Robert Sellers seems to be an interesting book though a few reviews of it seem to sober down (sorry, pun intended) the fun aspect of the book.


Here is one such review:
Janet Maslin
Hellraisers wants only to be a rowdy collection of greatest hits, and it lives up to that fun-loving ambition. It reels off riotous tales about Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed without giving a moment's thought to what those tales might mean…Anyone horrified by the reckless abandon of Hellraisers should know what its ultimate effect turns out to be. This fun-loving celebration of drunkenness proves to be an even more sobering cautionary tale than some of the most serious addiction and recovery memoirs. And the fact that none could entirely stop drinking, even when it became a life-or-death medical necessity, makes it that much sadder. Funny as it is, the book's boisterous beginning gives way to grimly premature states of illness and dotage
—The New York Times
Though to be honest, I am partial to this review:
Publishers Weekly
Show business biographer Sellers (The Battle for Bond) chronicles the booze-soaked lives of four of the stage and screen’s most bombastic performers. Welsh Burton (1925–1984), Irish-born Harris (1930–2002), Irish-born and English-raised O’Toole (born 1932) and English Reed (1937–1999) gave some of the 20th century’s most memorable performances, but were equally famous for their offscreen antics. Except for Reed, their careers began on the British stage, before all four were lured to Hollywood, starring in such classics as Lawrence of Arabia (O’Toole), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Burton), Camelot (Harris) and The Three Musketeers (Reed). Consuming staggering amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, all were forces to be reckoned with on the set, often turning up too drunk to perform. Burton’s tempestuous affair with Elizabeth Taylor—which led to two marriages and two divorces—often eclipsed his talent, while O’Toole, Harris and Reed saw their careers slump in the late 1970s and ’80s, only to be revived by roles in such successful films as Troy (O’Toole), the Harry Potter franchise (Harris) and Gladiator (Reed). Though Sellers often muddles the chronology by switching too often between the four’s liquored-up antics, his glimpse into Hollywood’s culture of excess is more than enough to satisfy. (Dec.)
This book is definitely up the alley of Nitrate Stock. I'll get back to you on this when I pick myself up a copy.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

SiscoVanilla Is Going On Hiatus

This is going to be my last post on this blog for the foreseeable future. It has been a trying time during the last three month since I was fired from my job. You all know where I worked so there is no need to give them any free press by naming them. Am I bitter? Well, yes. Yes I am. Whatever gave you that impression. The job search has been exhausting and quite barren.

In three months of hitting the pavement, dropping off and emailing hundreds of resumes and trying to tap into the non-existing bar "friends" and connections that I thought I had, I've had three unsuccessful interviews. That's right. THREE!!!! One I chalk up to an owner who is hard to please through a good friend of mine tried his best to get me the job. I hold no ill will to that interview though it was so close I swear I could taste it. The second one was through an employment agency who tried to find me a job in a new bar in a Latino neighborhood that obviously only hires women bartenders. The third was for a chain restaurant. How pitiful is it that I can't even find a job as a bartender in a chain restaurant.

What about those non-existing bar "friends" and connections I refer to above? Well, in working twelve years in one location (almost 20 years in the NYC bar business) and meeting a multitude of service industry individuals, I thought that I had made enough connections (and helped others make connections in the business) that when I needed a hand it would be there. All I found were unreturned voicemails, text messages and ignored/disregarded Facebook direct messages. For the record, I know those direct messages were seen and either ignored or disregarded since FB tells you when the message is seen. So thank you very much for nothing folks.

Couple that with my wife recovering from major surgery and you have the scene set for a doozy of a situation. Luckily for us, I was smart enough to save money when I was making it not spending it on trivial things. In other words, I am hard on a dollar. That has been our salvation. Thankfully I have been able to rely on Unemployment benefits to supplement my wife's income but to be honest I would rather be working...if I could find a job. But enough of my bitching. Why am I going on hiatus.

I don't want to drink. Period. If I have a booze blog, drinking is a big part of it. I could drink at home, but I don't want to. I don't want to be that guy drinking in front of the TV, wallowing in my sorrow. I need to keep my mind clear and focused. My family needs me to be that way. When I drink, it affects my state of mind. It makes me want to go out and spend money that I can't afford to spend at the moment. Sure I know places I can go to and "get hooked up". But in reality, if I can't show thanks by properly tipping those who do take care of me then I am not going to go out. I won't disrespect those who would take care of me and I am not going to embarrass myself looking for freebies like a moocher. That's not my style.

Some of you might say that I could continue with the movie posts. True, but to be honest, I haven't been watching many movies as of late. I've been real busy trying to improve my mind. I've been real busy with my HistorySisco tumblr page and the extra time has really allowed me to devote time to my BaseballSisco blogpage. Give those pages a look if you can. I'm sure that I will continue to post the occasional article and recipe that I come across online to my SiscoVanilla Facebook and my SiscoVanilla Google+ pages. My @SiscoVanilla twitter feed will also remain active

I thank everyone who HAS been there for me with your words of encouragement, support and suggestions. You'll never know how much it all means to me. Know that in me you'll always have a friend for life. Will I return to this blog? Perhaps. But to be honest, I need a fresh start in a new industry. The consolation to not working in the bar business is that I have left the negativity, the stressors, the lack of creativity and fulfilment that came along with working at my former job behind. I know I am going through a rough time now. But I will persevere.

Not to worry, I'll be back with the cocktails before you know it. Now whether it is as a server or a patron remains to be seen. Good luck to you all. Salud!

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Monday, September 15, 2014

Clan MacGregor Scotch Whisky Ad From The New York Times September 14, 1965

As with my posts Wolfschmidt Vodka Ad from The New York Times September 2, 1964 and Liquor Ads From The New York Times September 2, 1964, the inspiration for this post came while doing research for one of my other blogpages. I was looking for a boxscore in the September 14, 1965 edition of the New York Times for my post Willie Mays Reaches The 500 Home Run Plateau September 13, 1965 (from my Baseball Sisco blogpage) when I noticed that that day's New York Times had a whole bunch of liquor ads. The paper was printed on a Tuesday. Man, I guess Mondays in 1965 were so stressful that you would need so many liquor ads in the paper. LOL. One of the ads that caught my eye was for a scotch whisky by the name of Clan MacGregor. I had never heard about the Clan MacGregor brand of scotch whisky. It piqued my curiosity in this period that I am not drinking. I decided to dig a little deeper to see what this whisky is all about.

According to the Clan MacGregor website:
Clan MacGregor whisky honours the MacGregors, one of Scotland’s oldest clans and the decendents of ancient Celtic royalty as proclaimed in the motto ‘Royal is my Race’. The renowned history of the Clan dates back to the 14th century and Clan MacGregor whisky proudly displays the lion’s head crest, the symbol of the clan chief. The story of Clan MacGregor is perhaps the most stirring and fascinating of all the Scottish clans.

The Clan takes its name from Gregor, third son of Alpin, King of the Scots in the last part of the eighth century. This royal lineage gave rise to the clan motto, ‘Royal is my Race’. The MacGregor Clan underwent centuries of persecution and turmoil, with their land being confiscated and the very name MacGregor being outlawed. It is those who bravely defied their enemies in order to continue the Clan’s name who embody the spirit of Clan MacGregor. They were brave and resilient, and eventually all of their rights and privileges were restored. The fact that the Clan remained intact despite two centuries of oppression earned the MacGregors a reputation for unwavering courage and unbeatable unity.

The Clan badge, a crowned lion’s head on a wreath encircled with a belt and buckle, signifies the unity and loyalty of the Clan. Today, by using the badge on both bottle and label, Clan MacGregor proudly honours the heritage of the ancient Clan with a unique and distinctive style and signature.
I love looking into the history of these liquor brands that I come across either online or in person. But what about the scotch itself. The website states the following:
Fifteen of the finest malt and grain whiskies from the heart of Scotland have been skilfully blended to create a whisky of exceptional quality. Clan Macgregor Scotch whisky has a delicate, sweet aroma and a smooth, mellow taste – which has won many awards over the years.

Explore the flavours and aromas of one of the world’s finest blended Scotch whiskies.

COLOUR: Straw gold

NOSE: Distinctive sweetness, vanilla, malted, drying, hints of smoke

TASTE: Rich, grainy sweetness, hints of dry smoke, baked apple, biscuity, smooth, malty, lingering

FINISH: Long, clean, delicate sweetness
Now I have yet to come across Clan MacGregor scotch in my travels so I decided to look around online for some reviews.

Sláinte's post from September 6, 2011 entitled Whisky review: Clan MacGregor had the following review:
Clan MacGregor, 40% ABV
Blended Scotch whisky

Nose: Light and fruity, kind of like the standard Jameson. We're off to a decent start. Oh wait. After a bit more nosing, I really start to smell just ethanol and not much else.


Palate: The crap is beginning to really shine through here. Fruity crap, a bit of woody crap, and something in the back of my throat like charred crap.


Finish: Light fruits turning into crap.


Rating (of 100): 53. It would do in a pinch, like if the only other potential drinks you had were Drano and a full spittoon. I might still go for the spittoon, though, hoping one of its contributors had consumed a different whisky prior to use.


In the end, the remainder of my dram met the same fate a bottle of Drano would expect to meet.
Ouch!!! Not a good start. Off on the information highway I went to see if I could find another review.

I came across a website called We Love Scotch. For scotch lovers, I was curious to see what they thought about the Clan MacGregor scotch. Here is their review of Clan MacGregor scotch:
Name – Clan MacGregor

Price – $ (13 Bucks)

Region – Unknown

Blend/Single Malt – Blend

Promo Language – Combines the qualities of exceptional taste and fine flavor.

First Glass – Before we get started here, let us take a moment, on our first glass, as a chance to say everything we like about this scotch, First, the name is awesome! I mean, you can't even say “Clan MacGregor” without a proper 18th century Scot-Irish accent, circa Sean Connery. Second…uh…moving on.

Second Glass - Even for the “angel's share” the angels likely said, “meh, we'll pass.” I would use this scotch to clean my kid's paint brushes but I am afraid it would ruin her paint brushes.
The House that Scotch Built 

Reaching the Roof – This is a real service we are providing. Come on. We should have stopped at one glass. This is just awful. Just awful.

Mowing the Yard – We decided we had to find out more about this scotch. We scoured the web only to find some ancient blog review (back when this was going for 4 bucks a bottle) and this Facebook page. Founded by college drunks that hold Clan MacGregor with the same reverence as Old English Malt Liquor, Four Loco, Hookah's and Vivarin. Ah, to be young again.

Digging the Ditch – I am certain that I have had better scotch off a gun. It tastes like anti-freeze and melted bottle caps.

Draining the Well – Come on. We can't be expected to finish this.
Day After Thoughts: My hangover has a hangover.

Epilogue: We are out of scotch and forced to revisit the Mac Gregor. In our best Braveheart voice: You can take away our sobriety, but you'll never take our taste buds!
Damn!!! Wow. Can this scotch be that bad? Along the way I found a review by my good buddy Will Gordon who can be reached on Twitter @WillGordonAgain and you can read his articles on the Will Gordon Kinja page. Now this review by Will dates back to April 21, 2011 when he was doing the Drinking the Bottom Shelf column in the Drinks section of Serious Eats. Here is Will's review Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Clan MacGregor Scotch Whisky:
There is one part of life in which I'm just as patriotic as the next guy in a truck commercial, though, and that's booze. My favorite beer is Coniston Bluebird Bitter, which is English, but the next 20 on the list are big overhopped American tough-guy brews. And it seems like I never shut up about Old Crow and Eagle Rare, which is why it was disconcerting to discover that I like Scotch a lot more than I'd ever admitted to myself, and quite possibly more than I like bourbon. It will take months of rigorous research in other people's liquor cabinets to know for sure, but if the $12.99 liter of Clan MacGregor I picked up last week is any indication, the Scots might win this war.

I've always been vaguely aware that Scotch can be good for you in the same way Nantucket and cosmetic dentistry can be—when someone else is doing the planning and the paying—but I worried that it was too expensive and complicated to mess with here on the Bottom Shelf. My mistake.

Clan MacGregor tastes exceedingly Scotchy to me, so I was surprised that most reviewers call it simple and bland. It's a cheap blend and therefore more grainy than malty, but it's still got those weird fetid tobacco notes and maybe even a little maple syrup (though, full disclosure, I may be smelling that off my shirt).

I've had some excellent Scotch cocktails lately, but I've yet to make one myself. I've only tried once: MacGregor and grapefruit juice isn't as good as plain MacGregor or plain grapefruit juice, but I look forward to my next trip to the drawing board.

For now, cheap bourbon's still the preferred brown water in my parts because its charms are easier to harness; I like MacGregor but I haven't figured out what to do with it other than drink it neat or with soda, and there's a chance I just got lucky with my first bottle and all the other budget Clans are undrinkable.
Well there you go. That's a review I can back from someone whose pedigree I'm familiar with. Now will I run out to find a bottle of Clan MacGregor scotch? Probably not since I am not particularly drinking at the moment. But if I find that I come across one of those little bottles of Clan MacGregor that they serve on airplanes, then I'll cue up Highlander on the Blu-Ray player and give Clan MacGregor a go.

What do you all think of this particular blended scotch. Yea? Nay? Let me know what you think.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Liquor Ads From The New York Times September 2, 1964

Hmm, I forgot to post these images for Booze ads from the September 2, 1964 issue of the New York Times that I started with my prior post Wolfschmidt Vodka Ad from The New York Times September 2, 1964. Enjoy the images of the Mad Men era of yesteryear when alcohol ads could advertise in the newspapers.

Old Grand-Dad Bourbon

J&B Scotch Whisky 

White Horse Scotch Whisky
I wrote about both J&B and White Horse Scotch Whiskys in my post on the movie Crimson The Color of Blood (1973). I had a number of samples of Old Grand-Dad Bourbon a couple of months ago but I didn't really take detailed notes so I will have to wait for a future tasting to let you all know what I think of the Old Grand-Dad.

I have a couple of more ads from a later date from the New York Times that I will post on in due time. Things have been pretty hectic personally, so I apologize for my sparse posts as of late. I'll try to post regularly from now on.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Monday, September 1, 2014

Wolfschmidt Vodka Ad from The New York Times September 2, 1964

I was on the New York Times archive website known as the TimesMachine for a blogpost I did for my Baseball Sisco Kid Style blogpage. I was looking for a boxscore to include in my post Masanori Murakami becomes the first Japanese player in MLB September 1, 1964, when I noticed a number of liquor ads on a number of pages of the September 2, 1964 issue of the New York Times. I found them curious so I copied them and will post them here in the next few posts for your viewing pleasure. The first one I decided to showcase was an ad for Wolfschmidt Vodka.

Wolfschmidt Genuine Vodka
I'm trying to find something significant about the Wolfschmidt Vodka brand. I can't say that I have found anything significant about its origins. The Best Brands Incorporated website's listing for Wolfschmidt Vodka states:
Vodka made in the U.S. since 1847. The first vodka introduced to the USA around the turn of the century. Originally made in Latvia then Holland. It has won 37 medals in international competitions. Now owned by Jim Beam brands and produced in the U.S.
Well that was rather brief. I found that Wolfschmidt has a connection with the Seagrams company. For an interesting article on the history of Seagram, I suggest reading the following article: “From Shirtsleeves to Shirtless”: The Bronfman Dynasty and the Seagram Empire by Graham D. Taylor from the Business and Economic Online Journal Volume 4, 2006. Taylor states
Seagram also entered the rum business during World War II and established partnerships with Mumm (champagne), Noilly Prat (vermouth), and Wolfschmidt (vodka) in the early 1950s.
In more recent news, the article Jim Beam Brands Worldwide, Inc. History from the Finding Universe website states:
Beam's acquisitions continued into the 1990s, with the $272 million purchase of the United Kingdom-based Whyte & Mackay Distillers, bringing that company's best-selling scotch whiskeys into its product line. In 1990, Beam's volume topped 15 million cases. The following year, Beam Brands paid Seagram $372.5 million for seven of its brand trademarks, including the strong sellers Ronrico rum and Wolfschmidt vodka.
As of 2012, it looked like the Wolfschmidt Vodka brand was being rebranded as a wine-cooler? The Wine and Spirtis Daily website in their post Spirits Post Strong Sales in March from April 18, 2012 states:
WSD has learned that Beam Global is switching Wolfschmidt and Kamchatka vodkas to "Vodka Liqueurs." Using 10% sugar and 49% wine, this allows the products to sell at a lower price and may bring a new level of competition to the already competitive vodka category. The new products are reportedly launching May 1.
"Beam's value-for-money vodkas are benefiting from updated packaging, as well as a new liquid formulation that delivers the same value and taste profile consumers of these products already love. Vodka is still the base, blended with a high-proof liqueur. Beam is the market leader in liqueurs, and this vodka with premium liqueur formulation simply extends our leadership and expertise to enhance our value vodka brands, Kamchatka and Wolfschmidt. Testing indicates consumers of these brands will respond favorably to the refreshed packaging. Given the high quality of the liquid in these brands, we do not expect the selling price of these products to materially change," Clarkson Hine, svp of corporate communications, told WSD.
Have any of you out there tasted any of the new Wolfschmidt vodka liqueur blends? Now I can't say that I've seen any version of Wolfschmidt Vodka in recent years. Maybe I don't want to. I leave you with a couple of classic Wolfschmidt Vodka ads from the 1960's with the bottle of Vodka sounding like Don Draper of Mad Men fame.



Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Hearst Cocktail

Its been a while since I have made a classic cocktail that I found in a magazine and/or cocktail book. I came across the Hearst Cocktail in the September 2014 issue of Esquire Magazine in the MaHB column by David Wondrich where he profiles different utensils that he recommends when it comes to making cocktails. He describes the recipe as such:
The Hearst Cocktail
2 Parts Gin
1 Part Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters 
Over ice, stir and strain into a cocktail glass 
Now that sounds simple enough except that on the Esquire website where Wondrich has a column, there is a slight difference in the version that is listed above. Here is how the Hearst Cocktail is listed online:
Hearst Cocktail
Ingredients
2 ounces London dry gin
1/2 ounce Italian vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

Glass Type: cocktail glass
Instructions
Stir the London gin (or Plymouth gin, if you can find it) and the other ingredients well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Wondrich further goes into the following details:
Gin. Vermouth. Okay. But soft! Two parts to one? And could that be red vermouth? Sweet vermouth? Anathema! Moloch! Did not the Lord command us to, in the words of Leviticus, "put difference between holy and unholy, unclean and clean?"
Fortunately, there's a simple incantation that'll put you back on the way of the righteous. Throughout the construction process, repeat sotto voce: "It's not a martini. It's not a martini." By the second sip, you won't have to. After all the pish-tosh about dryness and martinis and eyedroppers -- nay, atomizers! -- of vermouth has been pished and toshed, you're left with a perfectly suave cocktail that has nothing of the milquetoast about it. If you want to leave the Angostura out, do -- but then it's a Hoffman House you'll be enjoying.
Diffords Guide for Discerning Drinker's listing for the Hearst Martini has the following dimensions:
Hearst Martini
2oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
1oz Martini Rosso
1 dash Angistura Bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
What to do with these differences. It seems that I am at a stalemate with all three cocktail recipes listed. It would seem that based on Wondrich's statements, that the first listed recipe is more in line with the Hoffman House cocktail recipe. If you notice it contains two dashes of orange bitters instead of a one and one ratio of Angostura and orange bitters. Another point of confusion this time for the Hoffman House is that Except that it has French Vermouth instead of the Italian Vermouth that I have seemed to find in recipes for a Hoffman House. I guess that is a mission for another post.

For simplicity sake, I'm going to have to make the recipes listed on the Esquire and Difford's websites. I know, its a tough job...For my two cocktails I used Beefeater London Dry Gin, Cinzano Rosso Vermouth, Angostura Bitters and Bitter Truth Orange Bitters.

The first cocktail I made (Esquire) had 2oz Gin to .5oz Sweet/Italian Vermouth. It has a beautiful red-brown color and I can see where some people online have said that this cocktail reminds them of The Martinez. Now I can see that in terms of look but I found the Martinez with the Old Tom Gin to be a bit of a sweeter cocktail. The Hearst with the 2-.5 ratio wasn't very sweet at least to me. I do agree with David Wondrich in his assessment that this cocktail is a perfectly suave cocktail. It is strong without being overpowering in both the strength and the sweetness.

2oz Gin/
.5oz Sweet Vermouth
The second cocktail I made (Difford's) had 2oz Gin to 1oz Sweet/Italian Vermouth. It has the same nice red-brown color though I find that this one is a bit sweeter and not a crisp as the version that had half the amount of sweet vermouth. To be honest, I don't find it offensive in the least. I think that if I had a choice, I would go with the crisper version that had .5oz of Sweet Vermouth rather than the full ounce. But if I was served this one, I'd be fine with it.
2oz Gin/
1oz Sweet Vermouth
One last point I want to touch upon. Wondrich gives the following explanation for the origin of the cocktail:
The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book credits this simple gloom-lifter to certain of old William Randolph's minions "who were in the habit of dropping in at odd times when assigned to a story in the neighborhood." Probably not more than three times a day, we'll bet.
Since Wondrich mentions the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, I decided to look at my copy (The 1935 Reprint) to see what is said about the Hearst Cocktail. In terms of the recipe, it calls for equal parts of a half jigger of the Italian vermouth and Plymouth Gin with the one dash each of Angostura and Orange Bitters.

In terms of the origin, the cocktail is named not after William Randolph Hearst directly but after his employees of whom probably worked at one of Hearst's newspapers such as the New York Journal later known as the New York American and/or the New York Evening Journal. These and other competing newspapers were located in the Herald Square area, near where the flagship Macy's Department Store is today. For more information, with a number of historical pictures of the Herald Square area, I refer you to the article A whirlwind tour of Herald Square: More than just Macy's, the intersection of publishing, theater and debauchery from the Bowery Boys website dated December 14, 2012.

In a bit of NYC newspaper history, The New York American and the New York Evening Journal would merge into one paper in 1937 as the New York Journal-American. The New York Journal-American was an afternoon and evening paper. Part of the New York American's morning news section would be become part of the New York Daily Mirror which was also owned by William Randolph Hearst. This was described in the article Hearst to Merge New York Papers from the Miami Times dated June 23, 1937 (which is found online at Google news)

The New York Daily Mirror would fold on October 16, 1963, after the 114-day 1962–63 New York City newspaper strike. The New York Journal-American would merge with with its evening rival, the New York World-Telegram and Sun, and the morning New York Herald-Tribune in 1966. The consolidated paper would be known as the World Journal Tribune and started publishing its daily paper of September 12, 1966, but would close shop eight months later.

There you have it. A little cocktail, NYC and newspaper history all rolled up into one nice little package with in a chilled cocktail glass. In terms of the cocktail, I wonder what it would taste like using an American Dry Gin such as a Dorothy Parker Gin or a Bluecoat Gin. That, as with the Hoffman House cocktail, is a post for another day.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies










Thursday, August 14, 2014

What is Liqueur Mombin

I recently updated my SiscoVanilla at the Movies tumblr page in honor of the recently deceased Lauren Bacall with images from the Howard Hawks directed To Have and Have Not (1944) which starred Humphrey Bogart and a debuting 19-year old Lauren Bacall. Now I'll go into the movie in a later post, but one particular poster (which I have highlighted with the red box) in the scene where Bacall is first on screen stands out to me.


She is seated having drinks with Johnson (Walter Sande) when I notice a poster right above them that advertises something called Liqueur Mombin. My curiosity was piqued. What was Liqueur Mombin. Before I go into what the liqueur is, I want to touch upon what a mombin is.

The Mombin is a fruit from a plant that grows in tropical areas. It originally was found in the Americas and the Caribbean and was successfully transplanted to Africa. Now from what I could gather, there are two distinct types of mombin fruits: The Yellow Mombin aka the Hog Fruit (Spondias mombin L./Spondias lutea L.) and the Purple Mombin aka Spanish Plum (Spondias purpurea L.).

Now be honest, I don't know which one is used to make a liqueur out of, but from what I've read, it seems as if the Purple/Red varietal is the one that is the most popular of the two. Why do I say that? The Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products (NewCROP) quotes the following source: Yellow Mombin Spondias mombin L. Spondias lutea L. which quotes Morton, J. 1987. Yellow Mombin. p. 245–248. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL. Here is what was printed about the popularity of the Yellow Mombin:
The Sumac Family (Anacardiaceae)
The yellow mombin is less desirable than the purple mombin and is appreciated mostly by children and way-farers as a means of alleviating thirst. Ripe fruits are eaten out-of-hand, or stewed with sugar. The extracted juice is used to prepare ice cream, cool beverages and jelly. Some people make those of fair quality into jam and various other preserves.

In Amazonas, the fruit is used mainly to produce wine sold as " Vinho de Taperiba". In Guatemala, the fruit is made into a cider-like drink.

Mexicans pickle the green fruits in vinegar and eat them like olives with salt and chili, as they do with the unripe purple mombin.

Young leaves are cooked as greens.
In terms of the Purple Mombin Spondias purpurea L., NewCROP quotes the same source Morton, J. 1987. Purple Mombin. p. 242–245. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.
Courtesy of Daley's Fruit
The ripe fruits are commonly eaten out-of-hand. While not of high quality, they are popular with people who have enjoyed them from childhood, and they serve a useful purpose in the absence of "snackbars". In the home, they are stewed whole, with sugar, and consumed as dessert. They can be preserved for future use merely by boiling and drying, which keeps them in good condition for several months. The strained juice of cooked fruits yields an excellent jelly and is also used for making wine and vinegar. It is a pleasant addition to other fruit beverages.

In Mexico, unripe fruits are made into a tart, green sauce, or are pickled in vinegar and eaten with salt and chili peppers.


The new shoots and leaves are acid and eaten raw or cooked as greens in northern Central America.
If you are curious about the source material, you can click on the following link for Fruits of Warm Climates by Julia F. Morton on the The Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products (NewCROP) website.

Now that we know what a Mombin is, let's focus on the Liqueur Mombin. Look at the images below.


This particular kind of Liqueur Mombin, which is produced by Distellerie ReimonenQ is a blend of Rhum, sugar and mombin extract. It is not a very strong liqueur at 25% Alc.Vol or 50 Proof. It seems to have a nice subtle yellow/orange color. The label with the Corsair is kind of cool.

Another brand of Liqueur Mombin is the Madras brand from Guadeloupe and they describe their Liqueur Mombin as being:
Made from the very exotic fruit Mombin, this liqueur can be savoured as a digestive or can be used for cocktails. 
They list the alcohol content at 18% Alc/Vol or 36 Proof.

The real question is what does this taste like. That my friends will have to be for a later post. Maybe I should make a trip to one of the West Indian neighborhoods that are near me in the Bronx to see if I can maybe find a bottle. I'll get back to you on this one folks.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
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