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Writing Challenge Day 30: Monitoring Mixology - Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Bourbon

Level 17

I hope this post finds you and your family happy, healthy, and warm during the holiday season.

For those who imbibe, I wanted to share a couple of recipes with you. One for the warmer months, and one for the colder. Why both? Well, I don’t want to alarm you, but March is only 61 days away, making it a full year since lockdown started. Soon it will be warm again, and we’ll still be at home.

Before I get started, I want to mention that alcohol sales have increased significantly during the pandemic. If you or someone you know is showing signs of alcohol abuse, please search for help here.

OK, first up, let’s start with my current favorite drink for cold weather, a bourbon Manhattan.  

Luxury Manhattan

Ingredients (makes two drinks)

  • 4 ounces bourbon (I use Larceny, because Costco sells a handle at a decent price)
  • 2 ounces sweet vermouth (remember to refrigerate your sweet vermouth after opening)
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters (I sometimes use Peychaud's)
  • 1 teaspoon Luxardo cherry syrup (only Luxardo cherries allowed at my bar)
  • 1 or 3 Luxardo cherries (or none, if you prefer)

I pour everything into a glass shaker with ounces clearly marked; this saves time as opposed to measuring everything by hand. I also add a small amount of the syrup from the Luxardo cherry jar, and either 1 or 3 cherries. Never add 2 of anything to a drink (ice cubes, olives, etc.), it’s bad luck (as if 2020 needed more bad luck, right?).

After a quick stir, I pour into a double rocks glass and then add one round ice sphere. I use a mold to make the ice spheres, so I guess you could say this drink requires some advanced prep.

Remember, this recipe makes two drinks, so either share with a friend or cut the ingredients in half.

Next is my current favorite warm weather drink, a variant of a bourbon sour smash.

Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour

Ingredients (makes two drinks)

  • 4 ounces bourbon (again, I use Larceny because reasons)
  • 2 ounces lemon/lime juice (I do one once of each)
  • 1 ounce maple syrup (not the cheap stuff you get at the pancake house, a step above that)
  • Seltzer water (I use Polar Seltzer Ginger Lime Mule flavored)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (optional)

The rosemary sprigs are optional. Should you decide to use them, crush one sprig in the bottom of the shaker and use the other sprig as a garnish. I then add the juice, then the syrup, then the bourbon. I top the shaker with the seltzer, but this is optional. After a quick stir, I pour into Mason jars and add ice to fill. You can use whatever glass you want, as choice of glass depends on the amount of seltzer and ice you use. Add the remaining sprig of rosemary and take a photo to show your hipster drink to the world, like this:



Oh, I guess I added a lemon wedge to that batch. Look, it’s called a smash for a reason. Feel free to experiment to your own taste.

I hope you enjoy these recipes, and please drink responsibly.

Level 14

@sqlrockstar very nice adult beverage choices. (going in my new bar recipe list)

While I am a single malt scotch and craft beer guy, the Luxury Manhattan recipe will be used for my mom (91 next month - her favorite drink). Happy New Year! Celebrate Well!

Be Safe!

Be Happy!

Be Yourself!



Good one @sqlrockstar 

Happy New Year in advance!


Level 12

What would be the virgin variation of these recipes? 😂

Level 11

I have found 2 cranberry wines that I absolutely love.  CranCab and Ben Lear both from Lake Nokomis Cranberries Winery in Eagle River Wisconsin.  They ship and orders come quickly.  No mixing required, just pour and enjoy.

Level 18

By itself, arak (also known as "raki") is not most people's cup of tea. Or scotch. Or even beer. Unless you or a close family member hails from that  region of the world (looking at you, @yumdarling) it's an acquired taste that most of us don't choose to acquire.It's a licorice-flavored drink similar to sambuca, ouzo, or pastis. 

Like 2020 itself, it's overpowering, with a flavor many people find objectionable even in small amounts.But like 2020, I think that's largely because folks often try to drink it as-is, like you might a shot of vodka. Like 2020, taken straight, it's too much.

But also like 2020, that overlooks the very important reality that arak doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's merely one drink among many - one ingredient among many. Taken alone, many ingredients (as with many years) are bitter, harsh, and objectionable. If you take it as part of the larger whole, however, it gains relevance and adds meaning.

So here is my offering - a way of taking my ancestral heritage and blending it with the modern into something more palateable:

"Blushed Anise"

  • add ice to a tumbler
  • pour 2oz Arak over the ice
  • add a squirt of agave syrup
  • add a squeeze of lemon
  • pour in pink grapefruit juice to fill the glass
  • stir once

If you took everything but the Arak, this drink would be too tart and too sweet to enjoy. The arak gives it just a bit of an edge. It adds just a bit of depth to the whole.

May we all be blessed to be able to look back upon this year in the same way. Understanding it within the context of our lives as a point in time that added depth, meaning, urgency, and relevance, while taking nothing (or nothing of great importance) in return.



As the offspring of an alcoholic father, who dealt with work stress through drink & abuse, I'll say "Drink, but choose wisely."  I made a New Years Resolution back in 1980 to never drink alcohol as a result of its impact on my childhood through my father.  The rationale was "He's such a good & strong man.  If alcohol could turn him into the violent & uncaring fiend that haunted my evenings at home, and if there's a chance such tendencies could be hereditary, I don't want to take a chance."

So I don't.  

But I also don't condemn those who occasionally have a drink of alcohol, provided they limit their intake, and they don't drive vehicles.

Instead, for the holidays, I choose to have about three ounces of plain Egg Nog (non-alcoholic variety) with about 9 ounces of 2% milk.  Mix with a spoon & sip a little bit at a time while reading a good book in front of the fireplace.  That's all I choose to make an annual holiday tradition.

Never think you have to drink alcohol to drink.  It's OK to be the sober guy in a crowd.  Try it a few times and you might even see why avoiding alcohol can be more fun than having a few shots or beers in a night--especially if the people around you continue to drink normally.

Alcohol puts a hazy curtain between me and reality, when I've tried it under controlled situations with a trusted friend watching out for me.  I'd rather see things as they are.

But don't let my behavior be a wet blanket for you.  Drinking responsibly might sometimes mean a little diluted eggnog, or even some water.




Level 11

@adatoleArak is really a high-alcohol Sambuca minus the sugar content. Both have a nice anisette flavor. I've been known to enjoy sipping either, but probably prefer the arak for sipping straight up.

@sqlrockstarI like Heaven Hill. I even know someone in the DC area who grew up near the Shapiras in Louisville. I think Heaven Hill and other places make bourbons that would better go with your recipe than Larceny. I suspect that a high-rye bourbon (as opposed to a wheated bourbon like Larceny), or even a nice, spicy rye whiskey, would punch that cocktail right up. I'd highly suggest giving it a try for a change of pace.


I have been known to make cocktails from time to time. When I was in grad school, I'd often host Shabbat lunches. (There were only three kosher kitchens among the student population; we took turns.) Besides cooking -- that was the first time I owned a smoker; little electric vertical bullet smoker that worked wonders for a grad student -- I liked to serve booze. Someone told me someone was coming who was having a birthday and liked Blue Hawaiians. When we got to dessert, I walked out with one and put it in front of her. I don't think Ill ever forget the (happily) stunned look on her face! I made Long Island Iced Tea by the pitcher, since I knew people liked them. I think the favorite cocktail I used to make was a tequila sunrise. I had these plain, round glasses in which the drink looked fantastic with the grenadine slowly rising from the bottom of the glass. I almost always came back with a request from someone when I'd bring one of those out to serve.

As for me, though, I tend to be a whisk(e)y guy, neat with maybe a small drop or splash of water. I will always love some of Scotland's singly-malted ambrosia: highland, island, Campbelltown, or those great Islay whiskies I usually tend to go for. I also won't turn up my nose at something from elsewhere. The Japanese make some fine whisky, and I even once had a really pleasant one from New Zealand. Lately, I have been having a lot of fun with American whiskies. There is so much creativity going on in the USA right now. I have even bought good local whiskey at a farmer's market in DC. Of course there are great bourbons out there, but I've had a lot of great rye whiskies recently. Anchor Distillery from San Francisco has some cinnamon-spicy nearly sweet ryes. Having Catoctin Creek reachable nearby doesn't hurt on that account. Balcones Distillery in Waco, TX, has done a lot with local Texas ingredients. I'd suggest trying some of their Brimstone smoked whisky with some of that great BBQ around SolarWinds HQ in Austin.

Level 18

@mjperkins I note with interest that arak, ouzo, sambuca, and pastis all arrive at the same destination (more or less) by vastly different routes.

  • Sambuca uses a grain alcohol like ethanol or moonshine, anise, elderberry, sugar, and water.
  • Ouzo also starts with a pure grain alcohol (although many start with vodka), along with angelica root, mace, anise extract, sugar, and water.
  • Pastis (which, it should be noted, was created in France after absinthe was made illegal) can include any one of about 50 different herbs and/or spices, but usually includes vodka, anise seeds, badiane, licorice, caraway, and sugar.
  • Arak uses white grapes (or grape juice and yeast), anise seeds, water. The use of grapes/grape juice is the reason it is not considered kosher unless production is supervised by the proper authorities.
  • As a side note, a variant of Arak produced in the US during prohibition (and afterward) uses gin instead of grape juice as the base liquid.*

To continue with the metaphor I started earlier, this is proof (of a kind) of how events that appear, on first taste, to be the same as others we may have experienced arise from a completely different set of causes. It's a reminder that we cannot apply the same solution to two different problems even when they appear to be similar.

* as another side note, during prohibition federal officers would go after folks who made gin, but not those who turned the gin into arak because, and this is a direct quote, "that sh*t ain't drinkable"
* as a final side note, in 1924 my grandfather had a profitable home-based business until someone tipped him off that he'd shown up on someone's radar. At that point Yehudah Adatto got on a train in Seattle, and Leo Adato got off the train in New York City. The rest is history, but I submit that as proof my "screw the rules" tendencies are hereditary.

Level 11

@adatoleHa! I gleefully yield to your knowledge of anise-based alcoholic beverages. You had me giggling, especially with those side notes! The last one brought to mind tales of my great-grandmother making chokecherry wine for 'sacramental purposes' during prohibition in Fargo, ND. At least my great-grandmother didn't have to flee town! As for those prohibition era feds' opinions, there's no accounting for taste. I'd take arak over gin just about anytime.

Thank you for the post.   Although I do not drink adult beverages at this time in my life, I appreciate a good recipe.    I used to be pretty good at the mixology.  No I focus on being a foodie.   If I ever perfect the chef's art, I will focus on my efforts of opening a water bar.   All water all the time, and things made with water.   Flavored in house, all handcrafted etc.   Find something which is free and find a way to charge for it, isn't that the American way?

Level 13

I'm not much of a drinker myself. I have known quite a few people over my lifetime with an alcohol problem at one point or another. This meant that it didn't appeal to me as much as most people I know. Luckily, a sober driver never goes out of style and instead of friends and family arguing over who needs to be the DD (you should always have a safe ride if you are not home - this year notwithstanding) I tend to offer up myself as DD because I feel no compulsion to drink. I have a great time regardless.

That being said, when I do drink, I am a social drinker. There are specific game nights - most involving Cards Against Humanity or Jackbox - where drinking takes it to another level. There are also occasions where I do want to drink - girls nights, occasionally (bad) dancing, etc. I don't have any good recipes though. I nearly always drink one of two things - Coconut Rum with Diet Coke and/or Purple Gecko shots. I have done almost none of either this year, but one day I will partake again in the odd happy hour beverage. I will enjoy my uncultured taste in alcohol as well. 😀

About the Author
In my sordid career, I have been an actor, bug exterminator and wild-animal remover (nothing crazy like pumas or wildebeasts. Just skunks and raccoons.), electrician, carpenter, stage-combat instructor, American Sign Language interpreter, and Sunday school teacher. Oh, and I work with computers. Since 1989 (when you got a free copy of Windows 286 on twelve 5¼” floppies when you bought a copy of Excel 1.0) I have worked as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. Then about 14 years ago I got involved with systems monitoring. I've worked with a wide range of tools: Tivoli, Nagios, Patrol, ZenOss, OpenView, SiteScope, and of course SolarWinds. I've designed solutions for companies that were extremely modest (~10 systems) to those that were mind-bogglingly large (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). During that time, I've had to chance to learn about monitoring all types of systems – routers, switches, load-balancers, and SAN fabric as well as windows, linux, and unix servers running on physical and virtual platforms.