Home Stretch: The Vesper Martini


By Dave Pezza

The name is Pezza...Dave Pezza, and I’m here to bring you the latest installment of Writer’s Bone’s Home Stretch. Here you’ll find the smoothest cocktails paired with the classiest tunes to help you swoon the mid-week machinations of work and life. This week, we’ve donned our finest Italian suit, acquired the freshest ingredients, and crafted the most iconic music associated with one of the classiest, sexiest franchises in fiction: Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

Friday’s #NovelClass will feature Fleming’s groundbreaking, seminal Bond novel, Casino Royale. In anticipation for that pod, I present to you the most James Bond cocktail of all time and a specially curated playlist of some of the Bond film franchise’s most famous tracks. Unclasp those cufflinks, let down that fancy up-do, it’s time to drink some classy booze!

Yes, we’re featuring a martini, Bond’s ever-famous, go-to cocktail while wooing some devilishly attractive female. Even the delivery is famous, “Vodka martini. Shaken. Not stirred.” But James Bond, more accurately in Ian Fleming’s novel, did not create the vodka martini. He is responsible for the Vesper Martini, this week’s featured beverage. In the aforementioned Casino Royale, Bond sits at a fancy hotel bar with American CIA agent and soon-to-be best friend Felix Leiter. Bond first orders a Haig-and-Haig on the rocks, a popular Scotch whiskey of the time. But before the barman has time to retrieve the order, Bond looks him square in the face and says, “martini, dry...One. In a deep champagne goblet.” And before the barman can retrieve that order, Bond stops him again. He says, “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?” And just like that the Vesper Martini was born!

What you’ll need:

  • 3 oz. Gordon’s London dry gin
  • 1 oz. vodka (take your pick)
  • ½ oz. Kina Lillet
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Ice
  • Full lemon

To pair with Bond’s take on the gin martini, I’ve put together a playlist of my favorite licks from the long and sometimes illustrious Bond film franchise. I hope you enjoy the picks and this potent beverage.

3 oz. Gordon’s London dry gin/“The James Bond...James Bond” by David Arnold

Before you read any further, start up the playlist. The opening track is David Arnold’s take on the original “The James Bond Theme Song” created in 1962 for the first James Bond film “Dr. No,” starring the one and only Sean Connery. I’ve included the original at the playlist’s end, but I fell in love with Arnold’s version the minute I heard it at the end of 2006 Bond film “Casino Royale,” the first film in the series to star the current Bond actor Daniel Craig. That movie rebooted the series and sought to rescue the franchise from over-the-top action, absurd gadgets, and corny humor of the later Pierce Brosnan films. The theme song and the reboot reestablished the franchise and the character of James Bond as a gritty British spy brimming with bravado, wit, and just a pinch of panache. To capture this rebirth, Arnold (also responsible for the scores for “Independence Day” and the BBC series “Sherlock”) redid the famous theme song, giving it a crisp grandeur that builds to a powerful and refined finish.

Gordon’s London dry gin is a classic English gin originally created in 1769. As a company, Gordon’s lasted through the centuries and eventually merged with Tanqueray in 1898. So we are talking the epitome of English gin here. Most liquor stores carry some iteration of Gordon’s. I’d suggest picking up a bottle if only to say you’ve tried Gordon’s. Add some ice to the cocktail shaker and add three ounces of Gordon’s.

1 oz. Vodka/“Goldfinger” by Sirely Bassey

Bond doesn’t specify vodka and neither will I. The vodka and the Kina Lillet add some nuance to what would otherwise be a pretty standard gin martini. In that vein, I’d suggest a more muted vodka, something between expensive/smooth and cheap/overly flavorful. Add only one ounce of vodka to your concoction.

“Goldfinger,” the theme song from arguably the best Bond film, captures some of the Bond theme but also incorporates a heavy 1960s influence of horns, bluesy female vocals, and big band sound. You’ll be belting out “GOLLLLLLLDDDDDD-FINGA!” for days, I assure you.

½ oz. Kina Lillet/“Writing’s On The Wall” by Sam Smith

I’m not a big Sam Smith fan, but this song that he wrote for the 2015 Bond film “Spectre” is a monster. The first Bond theme song to place Number 1 on the U.K. charts, “Writing’s on the Wall” managed to capture a softer, often overlooked tone in the Bond franchise. Borrowing much in feel from Adele’s 2012 Bond theme for “Skyfall,” Sam Smith juxtaposes strong and delicate vocals over an orchestral accompaniment that expertly magnifies the bold and subdued dichotomy of his voice.

We’ve used Kina Lillet before in this series, (Corpse Reviver #2). If you still have some from that recipe in the fridge, break it out. If not, it’s definitely time for a new bottle. Kina Lillet has a distinct sweet but not overpowering flavor that will help smooth the edges of some of the gin flavors. Add only half an ounce of Kina Lillet to the shaker.

Lemon peel/“Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney, Wings

Close the lid on the shaker, and shake it up. Once the contents are good and cold, take the lemon and use a vegetable peeler to peel off a thin, long piece of the lemon rind, spinning the lemon as you carve out a spiral from top to bottom. Place that peel into a cocktail glass and pour out the shaker.

I couldn’t pass up talking about Paul McCartney’s incomparable Bond theme song. The most famous of the Bond themes, the former Beatle managed to throw a whole lot of sounds into this tune. You’ve got the signature piano, strings, and horns that scream James Bond, and a whole manner of wind instruments. I’m pretty sure there is a xylophone in there as well. A fun, quietly menacing arrangement that matched quite perfectly with the awkward seriousness that would become Roger Moore’s Bond.


Tune into #NovelClass on Friday for Dave Pezza and Sean Tuohy’s discussion of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.

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Home Stretch: White Russian and “Cosmos Factory” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

By Dave Pezza

Good golly Miss Molly do we have a line-up for the Home Stretch faithful this week. We are sharing one of my favorite, simple cocktails, and one of my all-time favorite albums: the White Russian and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Cosmos Factory.” Loosen up that tie, kick off those heels, fire up the turntable, and mosey on over to the bar. Get ready to cut the rug that really brings the room together because it’s time for the Home Stretch.

Creedence Clearwater Revival has a plethora of great albums, hits, and B-sides, but “Cosmos Factory” is the end-all be-all of CCR recordings. In a simple 42-minute span “Cosmos Factory” brings you legends like “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Run Through The Jungle” (featured in every Vietnam movie ever made), “Up Around The Bend,” and “Heard It Through The Grapevine.” And this is leaving out the deep cuts! The casual, lounging, Californian vibe of CCR will most assuredly put you into better mood after that god-awful day known as hump day.

I doubt I’ll have to say more about one of the greatest rock bands in recorded history. And for those who haven’t heard CCR before, well, that I cannot abide. “Cosmos Factory,” the band’s fifth album, contains a near perfect mixture of classic rock tempo and acoustics with a crawling swamp and southern rock drawl with an attitude that will make you glad you have an ice cold beverage in hand. And that cold beverage has been, I might add, expertly selected by yours truly.

The White Russian, or Caucasian, fits exceptional well with this album for many reasons. The most important might be that it is tasty, ice cold, and disappears like a briefcase full of money in the backseat of your car. The Caucasian is not as heavy as it appears, and, despite its use of cream, makes for a very enjoyable cocktail after a long, hot summer workday.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 ounces of vodka
  • 1 ounce Kahlua
  • Milk or cream
  • Ice
  • Rocks glass

Oh so cleverly named, along with its twin the Black Russian, because of its use of vodka and cream, this cocktail is dangerously simple and offers a wealth of flavor and pungency that might make you feel a little bit out of your element.

1 oz. Kahlua/“Ramble Tamble”

“Ramble Tamble” is a seven-minute, eleven-second show stopper that incorporates the band’s nuanced sounds in an expertly crafted leadoff tune. It starts off with a quick and catchy beat, a crisp Southern guitar loop, and John Fogarty’s signature vocals. The tempo is upbeat and jolly but tapers off two minutes in and leads you into a blues-infused epic of solos and jams. And just when you’ve thought the song has completely had its way with you, it breaks right back into the upbeat, leg-tapping number from the beginning.

I think it would be reasonable to compare Kahlua to “Ramble Tamble.” Both are real ringers. “Ramble Tamble” is a seemingly low-key opener before a wealth of greatest-hits worthy tunes, and Kahlua is a syrupy, sweet coffee liquor that adds a wealth of flavor to the few ingredients piled around it. Grab some ice from the freezer, and fill your rocks glass about half way with ice. Add one ounce or so of Kahlua to your glass. The exact amount here is not as important as keeping the ratio between vodka to Kahlua two to one, otherwise you’ll be over the line as far as sweetness goes once you’ve added your cream.

2 oz. vodka/“Lookin’ Out My Back Door”

How this song does not brighten your evening after a long hard day is baffling. Whether you are grooving while making a beverage at your place or cruising in your car, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” is sure to crack a smile on that semi-permanent scowl. A short and simple ditty that is pure fun in contrast to the more complex and heavier songs on the album’s backend. Belt that chorus as you splash vodka into the rocks glass, you’ll be really glad you did, “DO DO DO, LOOKIN OUT MY BACK DOOR!”

Vodka is a hell of an alcoholic beverage, so versatile, wearer of so many hats. The vodka in this drink is going to be all but drowned out by the Kahlua and cream. But that’s okay; it adds a nice alcoholic base that cuts some of the sweetness from the aforementioned ingredients. Add double the amount of vodka as Kahlua, but here we’re adding two ounces.

Milk or cream/“I Heard It Through The Grapevine”

CCR’s version of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” is obnoxiously catchy on all levels. The drumbeat, the chorus, the low thick guitar, everything. I also consider this song one of the all-time great summer jams, perhaps because my grandfather never failed to play it at every summer outing or perhaps because “Cosmo’s Factory” was the summer album of 1970, stealing the number one spot on the Billboard 200 for nine weeks straight that year. In any event, it’s not a bad call on this hot summer evening.

Take some cream (milk will do just fine in a pinch) and add a few dashes of it, just enough to change the color of the drink from a thick black syrup to a coffee color and consistency. Take a spoon, and give it a good mix, making that color uniform. There you have it, a White Russian.


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Home Stretch: Moscow Mule and “Best Of” by Plumtree

By Dave Pezza

July is almost over. How did this happen? It is that point in the summer where we need to slow things down. I have got just the right Home Stretch combo to help you mellow out in that backyard hammock, the breeze passing by like all your burdens. This week we are showcasing the fairly obscure Canadian punk band Plumtree and the summertime favorite Moscow Mule.

Plumtree, hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, put out a few albums in the 1990s, moderately toured through the United States and Canada, and then called it quits in 2000. In 2010, they put out this monster of a compilation album. Plumtree has that laid back, easy-does-it vibe, for which 90s rock bands are famous. I picked them up from the “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” soundtrack and never turned back. The all-female band crosses teenage tales of love and awkwardness with catchy, lucid chords that span from small and delicate to expansive and badass. Throw on this album, and you’ll be infected by head bobbing and hip swaying in no time at all.

The Moscow mule is the quintessential relaxing beverage. It is easy to make, refreshing, and it packs a wallop without you being any the wiser. Another classic cocktail invented in Manhattan, the mecca of cocktail manufacturing, the Moscow Mule gets its name not from its wide consumption in Moscow or because of its use of vodka (there is also a bourbon variant called the Kentucky Mule; just replace bourbon with vodka and add mint for garnish), but from its birthplace at The Hotel Chatham in “Little Moscow.”

What you’ll need:

  • 3 ounces of vodka
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • Ginger beer
  • Copper mug
  • Ice

The Moscow mule doesn’t even require a shaker. The only real flair in this cocktail is the type of barware that it is traditionally served in: a copper mug. Like other summer beverages, including the Mint Julep, the metal mug helps the beverage and the drinker stay as chilled as possible.

1/2 oz. lime juice/“Go!”

I would recommend using an actual lime in this recipe. If you quarter your lime, each quarter should render about half an ounce of lime juice. Take the copper mug, squeeze out half an ounce of lime juice, and throw in the rind for good measure. The Moscow Mule combines three ingredients, all adding a different essential flavor. The bitterness of the lime cuts down on the overly sweetness of the ginger beer, allowing for a more mild taste.

“Go!” gets you right into mix upfront. The leadoff for the compilation album alerts you to just how much fun you’ll be having over the next hour. This track is fast, ferocious, and facile. Plumtree still manages to add a delicate touch to the guitar work in between the crashing drums and yelling. And who doesn’t love a chorus composed entirely of yelling?! Throw this track on the iPhone, sprinting out of the door from work.

3 oz. vodka/“Scott Pilgrim”

Inspired by the Canadian graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley, “Scott Pilgrim” will invade your life. Listening to it once is simply not an option. The gruff opening guitar riff that permeates the entire song, the delicate melody interplayed over it, the tight drum work, and the counterpoint chorus combine to create one hell of a catchy tune.

Now add three ounces of vodka to your copper cup. Any vodka will do, but I like the mildness and affordability of Three Olives vodka. You may want to add more or less depending on how much you enjoy the taste of ginger beer. And just like that we are almost done with this drink.

Ginger beer/“My My”

The first of the compilations more laid back songs. “My My” has a slowed down reggae riff, casual lyrics, and even a low-key harmonica overplay. “My My” will put you to ease after the first two catchy, punky tracks. Expect more of this type of tone throughout the rest of the album, gliding melodies through the warm summer air.

Grab a can of ginger beer. The most famous and easily found is Gosling’s Ginger Beer, usually around five bucks for a sixer. Before you add the ginger beer, fill the mug about halfway with ice. You want about six or so ounces of ginger beer, depending on how much you enjoy the sweet distinctive taste. They are typically sold in 12-ounce cans, so half a can should be just about right. Grab a spoon, mix the concoction up just a bit, releasing some of the carbonation from the ginger beer.

Believe it or not you are done. Find a nice patch of grass in the shade, lay back, and enjoy the rest of the album.


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Home Stretch: Manhattan and the Home Stretch Mixtape

By Dave Pezza

Hey all, welcome back to Home Stretch! We’re mixing it up a bit this week (pause for laughter). It’s summer; it’s hot and muggy, at least here at Writer’s Bone’s Providence, R.I., branch; and we’re all groggy and tired from our first full week since Independence Day.


I attempted to choose an album and a cocktail that best represented that mushy feeling and continually fell short. So I resorted to an old friend: bourbon. Hence the Manhattan, a classic bourbon cocktail. And what works best with bourbon on a warm, muggy, Wednesday night other than country music? Nothing.

Now I am a self-professed opponent of country music, especially that contemporary dross. However, I'm human, and even I have a bullpen of folk and country tunes that hit me where I live after a long day. So because of my country music album ignorance, I have crafted a Home Stretch playlist of mostly folk and country tunes with a surprise here and there. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it complements your Manhattan—and for the lucky ones in New York City, your Manhattanhenge— adequately.

What you’ll need:

  • 2.5 or 3 ounces Maker’s Mark 46 Kentucky bourbon whiskey (Maker's Mark give us money, please)
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry
  • Ice
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Cocktail glass

The Manhattan was purportedly invented at the Manhattan Club just before the turn of the century. The cocktail gained a following, and people began to request the cocktail served at the Manhattan. And just like that, a cocktail was born! I’m a notorious bourbon fiend, and for me the Manhattan offers a bourbon-based drink that doesn’t overly drown out the whiskey. Rather, the Manhattan gives bourbon a wider accessibility, making it a nice pairing with dinner or a more casual cocktail (say on a Wednesday night). Bourbon is not the only whiskey used to make a Manhattan though. Rye is the more traditional, pre-Prohibition option, and Canadian whiskey the go-to during that time period. Choose your own adventure there.

2.5 or 3 oz. bourbon/”You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”

I love pairing these two things together more than I should. First up, grab that cocktail glass and throw it in the freezer. You’re hot, sweaty, and tired. You deserve an ice-cold cocktail in an ice-cold glass. While you are in the freezer, grab enough ice to fill the cocktail shaker a quarter of the way. I like less ice in the shaker. It allows more contact against the shaker, causing the ice to bang and chip more often and thereby chilling the contents more.

Now for the bourbon! Any brand will do, but please don’t use high-end stuff. It’s not me being a snob; it’s just not cost effective. High-end bourbon is meant to be drunk straight or with a very small amount of ice, which is why you break the bank for just a 750 ml. I’m using Maker’s 46 Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Maker’s 46 tiptoes that line of mixable bourbon and drinking-straight bourbon. I love the taste and afterglow of bourbon, so I chose Maker’s 46 because it’ll retain more of the bourbon flavor once mixed. If that isn’t your jam, and you’d prefer to limit that bourbon aftertaste, I’d suggest a less robust bourbon. I’d also suggest you add 2.5 oz. instead of 3 oz. You’ll taste more of the sweet vermouth and bitters that way, perhaps rounding out the flavor profile a bit more. Your Wednesday night, your call. Add your appropriate amount of bourbon to the contents of the shaker.

Bourbon is synonymous with Kentucky, and Harlan County might be the most famous part of Kentucky. This killer track was originally written and performed by Darrell Scott, a country artist extraordinaire, who has played with the likes of Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris. This lesser known track of his was made famous by Brad Paisley, who covered the song for the finale of the first season of hit television show “Justified.” Every season finale thereafter, a new artist covered the song. A sobering look into the lives of coal miners Appalachia, “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” manages to emote the tragedies and beauties of a hard life in a mere six minutes. I’m opening the playlist with this track to set the tone both musically (banjo, fiddle/violin, acoustic guitar) and thematically. Many of these songs are stories about hard working folks like you and me that have no option than to wade through downs and skip along with the ups.

1 oz. sweet vermouth/“Save It For Later”

Any old sweet vermouth should suffice, but I use the Martini brand for all of my vermouth needs. It’s certainly a reliable taste. Add a single ounce of vermouth to the shaker. Don’t put too much vermouth in any cocktail because it ruins both the subtle flavor of the vermouth itself and the main liquor you with which you are mixing it.

About half way through the playlist you come across a little gem that I have not been able to keep out of my head. Sure it’s not country…or folk. But it is acoustic, and it details some serious heartache. Close enough, right? This track, originally written and performed by The English Beat, is magically covered by the incomparable Pete Townshend. Townshend nails the constant guitar undertone that is accented by trumpet and some raw vocals. Much less poppy than the original, Townshend’s version allows the song’s lyrics about keeping love from slipping through your fingers to firmly grip you by the heart and yank it this way and that.

1 dash angostura bitters/“Laundry Room”

A single dash of angostura bitters will do plenty here. I am not a huge fan of bitters, but they play the same role in the Manhattan as they do in an Old Fashioned. It allows distinct flavors to appear on the palate by punctuating the sweet vermouth before the bourbon finish. Add that dash to your cocktail shaker.

“Laundry Room” by The Avett Brothers performs a similar role in this playlist. It’s a casually sweet, hopeful, and still somewhat brooding tune that I’ve adored from the first time I heard it. It’s also a very strong road trip song. The back end of the playlist will leave you with a sorrowful taste. “Laundry Room” will hopefully preempt that taste with a reminder of all that is good and right with the world. After all, would we know the true joy of good times without the bad? Have fun with this one!

1 Maraschino Cherry/”River”

Close up that shaker, shake it good and proper, making sure it is so cold you can’t stand holding it any long. Grab the cocktail glass from the freezer, add a lone Maraschino cherry for garnish, and pour.

“River” is absolutely the cherry on the bottom of this playlist. If you felt the pain, brooding, relief, and joy of the previous songs, “River” will wash it all away and lull you into a state of quite being. Close your eyes, sip your cocktail, and drift for a little. Forget what is ahead and behind and just enjoy the present.


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Home Stretch: Mojito and No Doubt's “Rock Steady”

By Dave Pezza

It’s officially summer! Those of us in the Northeast can take a quiet sigh of relief that winter is a full season behind us and can no longer fling two inches of snow at us like that annoying kid from middle school who, no matter how hard you tried to ditch him, managed to show up and piss you off (Yeah, that’s right I’m looking at you, Gian).

It’s fitting then that we’ve taken Home Stretch on the road this week to the one, the only, the glitzy, Los Angeles. In this perennial summer town, I can’t help but talk about a classic summer cocktail with a classic Californian album: the mojito and No Doubt’s “Rock Steady.”

I’m slightly embarrassed over how much I enjoy both of this week’s choices. No Doubt grew to popularity right as pre-teen Dave Pezza began to find music. “Rock Steady” was released in December of 2001 and captured a West Coast/take-it-easy vibe that was desperately needed after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Those of you who grew up in the late ‘90s and early 2000s will undoubtedly remember hearing the album’s lead single “Hella Good” at least a thousand times. “Rock Steady” quickly became a stable alternative rock album.

Similarly, the mojito is a staple summer cocktail. Originating in Havana, and made famous by Ernest Hemingway himself, the mojito is a refreshing alcoholic escape from the summer heat and is fairly easy to make despite the hem and haw of bartenders asked to make it. The mojito is an immensely attractive cocktail that, when served correctly (like at The Lobster on the Santa Monica Pier) can be as potent as it is enjoyable.

What you’ll need:

  • 2.5 ounces white rum (I suggest Bacardi)
  • 0.5 ounces of lime juice (fresh squeezed really makes a difference)
  • 1 tsp. sugar or to taste
  • Club soda
  • 8 to 10 mint leaves
  • Ice
  • Muddling tool or wooden spoon
  • Highball or collins glass

Hopefully the sun is still out and the air still hot when you gather up all of your ingredients and push play this week, because you’re about to forget all about early morning meetings, incompetent bosses, and those torturously long Dunkin' Donuts lines!

0.5 oz. lime juice, 1tsp. sugar, and mint leaves/“Hella Good”

What a song! The ‘90s were a terrific time for electronica, and the contemporary trance music scene owes much of its beginning to artists like Daft Punk, who came out of the clubs and into the mainstream in the ‘90s and early 2000s. “Hella Good” borrows its simple but enticing beat and added effects from that trend. A true alternative rock band, No Doubt’s “Hella Good” cemented the band’s ability to craft a pound-for-pound hit song. This track is perfect to rock out to with headphones, blast before going out, or just to nod to while typing up your weekly Internet article. “Hella Good” gets everything warmed up and loose.

In an odd sense, the first part of this cocktail is the catalyst that makes the mojito so legendary. You’re getting almost all of your non-alcoholic parts of this cocktail together to create an impressive flavor profile. Grab your highball or collins glass, add your sugar, and squeeze in your lime juice. Then add five or six of the mint leaves. Take the muddling tool and muddle the sugar, lime juice, and mint together. In my experience, which I can honestly say is extensive when it comes to mojitos, these steps make or break the drink for some people. Use the measurements here as a guide for future mojitos. Muddle the ingredients almost to a paste-like consistency that mixes with the rum into a sweet nectar.           

2.5 oz. white rum/“Hey Baby”

Any white rum will do here. I’m partial to Bacardi because it has a middle-of-the-road flavor that doesn’t create an overly distinct taste that can throw off the flavor of your cocktail. Once you get a feel for how you want your mojito to taste, play around with different white, and even moderately spiced, rums. Add the 2.5 oz. (or more!) of white rum. The rum should mix with the previously muddled ingredients, but use a spoon to mix them even more. It’s important that the sugar, lime, and mint dissolve into the rum and, eventually, the club soda. The sugars of all the ingredients to this point should mix wonderfully, creating a perfectly sweet yet surprisingly refreshing experience.

“Hey Baby” immediately follows “Hella Good” and raises the album’s tempo and incorporates the band’s more traditional, ska-influenced sounds. The song is topped off with Gwen Stefani’s signature and entrancingly playful singing style. This might be the album that forever endeared Stefani to me. She’s strong, energetic, nonchalant, and vulnerable throughout the album, and “Hey Baby” starts off this tour-de-Gwen. Like the previous track, “Hey Baby” adds new elements to the band’s sound with a rapping bridge from Bounty Hunter. “Hey Baby” will certainly get you singing and rocking to your neighbor’s dismay. How one cannot belt the chorus is beyond the understanding of this humble writer.

Ice, club soda, and pour/“Underneath it All”

Fine. You win. I admit it, “Underneath It All” is my favorite No Doubt song. Are you happy? I hope so, ‘cause I certainly am. What a silent giant this jam is. Admittedly, “Underneath It All” is best digested when driving along the coast, windows down, volume up. But it’s also particularly potent after a long day, with a drink in your hand, and a warm summer breeze compelling the ice-cold condensation from your glass to drip ever so slowly onto your tired and over-typed fingers.

Here is a fun game to play. Listen to this song on repeat and see if you can sing all the words to Lady Shaw’s rap portion of the song. If you can’t, don’t worry! Just take a healthy sip of your mojito and try again. Repeat.

Speaking of your mojito, fill your collins or highball glass about halfway with ice. Then add some club soda. Again, use a spoon to make sure the concoction is mixed well. Give it a quick taste test. If it is too strong, add more club soda. Once you’ve reached the right taste, throw in the remaining mint leaves and ice until the glass is full. And, as always, enjoy!


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Home Stretch: The Original Margarita and “Gun for You” by The Greenhornes


By Dave Pezza

Hey everyone, welcome back to Home Stretch where we present to you a DIY cocktail and an accompanying album to help you ride out the rest of your week with some semblance of sanity.

This week we’ll be making a wonderfully easy and delicious version of the margarita and listening to “Gun for You,” the 1999 debut release of Detroit garage rockers The Greenhornes. These selections take a classic approach to both genres. The classic margarita is a stripped down, no frills version of a popular and over-thought cocktail. The Greenhornes are a 1990s version of 1960s pop rock. Think Beatles meets The Doors but playing in dive bars in downtown Detroit during the late ‘90s. The Greenhornes didn’t have much commercial success, unlike their friend and fellow Detroit rocker Jack White of The White Stripes.

After a few albums, The Greenhornes split, returning to record a new album in the late 2000s after the band's rhythm section, Jack Lawrence (bass) and Patrick Keeler (drums), hit success with Jack White’s second band The Raconteurs (famous for “Steady as She Goes”). The band recorded one more album, “Four Stars,” in 2010 with a killer single, “Underestimator,” but nothing I have heard in a long time sounds quite like their debut album. It brings a contemporary vibe to that classic, and beloved, early rock sound. With the weather finally warming up, this album and cocktail will get you feeling alright on a Wednesday night.

What you’ll need:

  • 2.5 oz. silver tequila
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • Coarse sea salt or sugar
  • Lime for garnish
  • Rocks glass
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Ice

What can you say about the margarita that you don’t already know? It’s the most palatable version of tequila known to mankind, which is no small feat. This “original” version is way more versatile and is much more geared toward lovers of simple cocktails or those that want to whip up a quick drink for the lawn chair on a summer night. It’s also pretty potent, but that’s a good thing. It’s a cocktail after all!

2.5 oz. of silver tequila/“The End of the Night”

The key here is Blue Agave Silver Tequila. I went with your garden variety Jose Cuervo Especial. It gets the job done for sure. I wouldn’t bother with higher priced tequila here. Start off by filling your cocktail shaker with ice about half way. Then add 2.5 oz. of the tequila.

Tequila is the firebrand of alcohol. Always has been, always will be. “The End of the Night” is the album’s opening track, and gets you grooving to The Greenhornes sound early and often. Clocking in at only a minute and fifty-one seconds, this track gives you the full breadth of the band’s sound in a perfectly compact package—simple guitar melody, modest lead guitar riffs, and Ringo Star-styled drums that aren't putting anyone through college but never miss a beat. You’re swaying, you’re grooving, and just the smell of the tequila has got you loosening up.

1 oz. of Cointreau/“Hold Me”

You should still have that bottle of Cointreau I made you buy in Home Stretch’s first post back in May. Don’t worry, you’ll be getting your money’s worth on that bottle in the next few weeks. As previously mentioned, Cointreau helps round the sharper flavors of the alcohol it accompanies. In this case, Cointreau takes a little bit of that tequila bite out, smoothing it with citrus undertones. And at 80 proof, Cointreau is truly a silent killer, helping to make this cocktail all the more potent. Add one ounce of Cointreau to the shaker.

“Hold Me” is a quieter, organ transfused The Doors-esque ballad that breaks the album in two. You can sing along and sway because the groove is simultaneously immense and calming. Perhaps it’s the album's hidden gem, I’ll let you decide.

1 oz. lime juice/“Show Me Love”

“Show Me Love” is this album’s “Love Me Do.” Suggestive, fun, and sure to crack a smile on that crinkled, Wednesday face. This track is the first of a double feature that works really well together to offer a mild and measured almost rockabilly nature. “Show Me Love” really gets you moving and rocking as you wrap up your cocktail.

Lime goes well with tequila, it’s a thing. Don’t shy away from it here. I’d offer that in addition to lime juice, add some fresh squeezed lime juice from the lime you’ll be using in part for garnish later. Add an ounce of lime juice to the shaker.

Shake, coarse sea salt, garnish, pour/“So Cold”

Everyone loves the heartbreak song. You just can’t help it. “So Cold” will hit you where it counts, but this track offers solemn organs, delicate guitar, and a laid back drum beat that makes it an entirely enjoyable ballad. Don’t fear, there is a trio of tracks left that ends the album on a lively note.

Go ahead and shake the contents of the cocktail shaker well. Slice off a wedge of the lime and run it along the edge of your rocks glass, squeezing as you run it along the rim. Then pour your course sea salt or sugar, depending on your taste, into a plate and dip the rim of the glass into the salt or sugar, turning to make sure the lime juice picks up as much of the salt or sugar as possible. Add some ice to the rocks glass and pour! Finally garnish with a wedge of lime.


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Home Stretch: Gimlet and 'Ash & Ice' by The Kills


By Dave Pezza

And we’re back with the third installment of Home Stretch, a cocktail and album paring designed to shoo away those hump days fits and tantrums. This week’s choices are as straightforward as they are enjoyable: the gin-based Gimlet and The Kills’ 2016 album “Ash & Ice.”

The Kills are composed of Nashville-based vocalist Alison Mosshart (also of the band Dead Weather) and U.K.-based guitarist Jamie Hince. For a band that is just vocals, guitar, and occasional percussion, it packs a wallop of noise into each song. Their earlier albums are a bluesier, dirtier version of The White Stripes. I highly recommend their self-titled first album—it’s raw, powerful, and danceable—but “Ash & Ice” forms a complex and intricate tapestry of sounds from the band's simple parts unlike any of their previous releases. Similarly, this week’s cocktail, the Gimlet, incorporates simple ingredients into a shockingly enjoyable flavor profile that is preferable to the ubiquitous gin and tonic.

What you’ll need:

  • 2.5 oz. dry London gin
  • 0.5 oz. simple syrup
    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 1 cup of water
  • 0.5 oz. lime juice
  • Lime for garnish
  • Cocktail or highball glass
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Ice

Legend has it that the Gimlet was developed in the British Navy to fight off scurvy. The drink neatly combined the sailor’s daily ration of lime and gin. If you like gin and tonics, you’ll love the Gimlet. If you don’t like gin and tonics, still give it a try. The simple syrup and lime complement the gin as opposed to attempting to mask it with tonic.

0.5 oz. of Simple Syrup/“Doing It to Death”

We’ve talked about how to make simple syrup before, but for those that need a quick recap, just add a cup of sugar and a cup of water into a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil, lower heat and simmer for three minutes (or until the sugar is fully dissolved), and set aside to cool.

“Doing It to Death” is similar to the simple syrup in this cocktail because it appears a little onerous at first, however, it really breaks down the entire album’s sounds, effects, and elements right off the bat. Just as the syrup adds a demurred sweetness to the cocktail, “Doing It to Death” gives you a taste of all that is too come, and perhaps leaves you wanting more. The guitar riff is spot on, but also sparse, leaving a craving in your ears for more of Hince’s absurdly good riffs. Add 0.5 oz. of your simple syrup to a cocktail shaker along with some ice. (Reminder: you can store your simple syrup covered in the fridge for a few weeks.)

0.5 oz. of Lime Juice/“Hum for Your Buzz”

Add 0.5 oz. of lime juice to your cocktail shaker. The lime in this drink plays an important role in accenting the flavor of the gin. In a gin and tonic, limes break up the strong tonic flavor used to break up the strong gin flavor. In a Gimlet, all of the elements communicate with each other. The lime adds citrus tones to the sweetness of the simple syrup and links that sweetness to the herbal, refreshing qualities of the gin.

“Hum for Your Buzz” could be the best song on this album. It's extremely stripped down, only featuring guitar and Mosshart’s vocals. The two elements are so incredibly in sync that at times the sounds create one image in your head as you listen. “Hum for Your Buzz” is quintessential The Kills, bluesy riff, kickass vocals with lyrics of heartbreak, redemption, and nonchalance that puts everything in perspective. If nothing from this article grabs you or prompts you to buy this album or make this cocktail, at the very least listen to this song on Spotify (or whichever streaming service you prefer). This track will perfectly lull you into a Wednesday night stupor of released frustrations and affirmed misgivings while you sip your Gimlet. Like the lime juice in this cocktail, “Hum for Your Buzz” takes the energy of the faster tempo of the album's first half and slows them down, easing you into some deeper, ballad-esque tracks.

2.5 oz. Dry London Gin/“Siberian Nights”

Again, I am a big proponent of Beefeater’s gin. It’s a solid middle of the road gin with a robust taste at a reasonable price. In my opinion, it’s the complete opposite of Bombay Sapphire. That being said, add 2.5 oz. of your preferred gin to your cocktail shaker. You’ll taste plenty of gin in this drink, obviously, but the selling point of gin is that it’s a sipping-friendly alcoholic beverage that is refreshing as it is potent. It’s perfect for weekday drinking, and perfect for increasingly warmer nights.

“Siberian Nights” also takes a middle road. The song's drums track is quick and sharp, Hince’s guitar crawls through the song, and Mosshart all but croons the lyrics. “Siberian Nights” presents a dichotomy that somehow gets your body swaying and your throat humming.

Shake, Pour, Garnish/“Echo Home”

Pop the lid on your shaker, shake until ice cold, pour in a cocktail or an Old Fashioned glass, and garnish with a lime wheel.

“Echo Home” is a ballad that builds slowly over delicate and soft guitar in conjunction with soft lyrics. It builds and builds and then releases without a crescendo, letting go of the energy effortlessly. This tune is a staggeringly appropriate end to your night. Sip, float away, and repeat.


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Home Stretch: Mint Julep and ‘I Feel Alright’ by Steve Earle

By Dave Pezza

Welcome back to Home Stretch, assuaging those Wednesday blues with tunes and booze. This week's edition features two southern classics that set the mood for fast-approaching summer nights: mint juleps and Steve Earle’s 1996 country-rock album “I Feel Alright.”

I’ve been looking for the right album to pair with mint juleps ever since finally making one on my own during the most recent Kentucky Derby. Mint juleps have always struck me as fancy, high-maintenance cocktails, similar to mojitos. Perhaps this stigma comes from its unmistakable association with that famous Louisville–based race. But it is surprisingly easy to make, and impressively refreshing on a hot and muggy evening.

This week’s album, “I Feel Alright” by Steve Earle, is just as refreshing, not to mention relaxing. Its laid-back, ‘90s-style country rock calls to mind Tom Petty’s “Wallflowers,” and is damn near perfect for dropping the needle, kicking off your shoes, and sipping a sweet and minty bourbon-based cocktail.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 oz. Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey 
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 1 cup of water
  • Six to eight fresh mint leaves
  • Crushed or shaved ice
  • Pewter cup or highball glass

Promoted at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby since 1938, the mint julep is a southern mainstay. The cocktail is essentially a way to sweeten and chill bourbon with a little bit of flair. Even if you’re not a big bourbon fan, you’ll find mint juleps sweet and mild.

The same goes for Earle’s sixth album. He possesses a suave veneer that protects a vulnerable storyteller whose style is steeped in equal parts blues, folk, and country. This combo should put a smile on your face and ease you through the week’s final pitfalls.

1 oz. of simple syrup/”I Feel Alright”

You can buy pre-made simple syrup at many liquor stores, but it’s easy to make, and it’ll last a month or so in the fridge, saving you a step in the near future. Grab a cup of sugar and a cup of water and throw them in a medium saucepan. Set heat to medium.

While the syrup is heating up, I suggest starting with the album's title track, “I Feel Alright.” What a jam! If you are a fan of “The Wire,” you might remember this song from the Season 2 finale. A quintessential Steve Earle hit, “I Feel Alright" is smooth, a little ballsy, and shoots bravado through you like a stiff shot.

Bring the sugar and water to a boil, then simmer for three minutes or until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let that cool while you prepare the rest of the cocktail.

Six to eight fresh mint leaves/”Hard-Core Troubadour”

Flying high from track one? Prepare for a one-two punch with “Hard-Core Troubadour.” It’s a head-bobbing, Latin-tinged rock song that keeps the easy-going feeling from the album’s opener. Take the pewter cup or highball glass and add about four or five mint leaves. Lightly bruise the leaves with a muddler or spoon. Try not to mash; the idea here is to only bruise them, allowing the mint flavor to slowly seep into the bourbon.

You should be able to find fresh mint at the local supermarket, but may I suggest growing some your own. A number of terrific summer drinks are made with mint, and it grows easily in your garden or even in a small pot on the windowsill.

Crush or shaved ice/”Poor Boy”

Ice is important in this drink. It needs to be crushed or shaved so that it melts quicker than cubes would. This slowly waters down the bourbon, sweetening the cocktail the more you drink it. If you have a blender, put in two handfuls of ice and blend until crushed. Even better, but not super convenient, pick or shave ice off of an ice cube if you have one ready in your freezer.

“Poor Boy” is the album's middle track, and it alters the album’s tempo to an upbeat, rockabilly tempo. The album’s best ballads follow this tune, and “Poor Boy” attempts to ease you into the heavier mood. Disclaimer: listening to this song has been known to bring about fits of swaying, finger snapping, and unstoppable foot tapping.

Bourbon/”Billy and Bonnie”

I’ve saved the album’s most folk/country song for the bourbon. Earle tells the story of an unlikely couple that keeps the thrill of their love alive by breaking bad. Bourbon shares a similar story with anyone who has ever imbibed that sweet, sweet brown liquid.

While shaking your ass to “Billy and Bonnie,” grab the Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Please don’t use your top-notch bourbon here! Jim Beam White Label, Wild Turkey 81, Four Roses, or even Old Grand-Dad (if you’re feeling squirrely), are all acceptable mixing bourbons. Maker’s Mark is usually considered the end of the line when mixing bourbon. Any higher quality bourbons should be consumed straight.

Add 1 oz. of the now cooled simple syrup to the cup/glass, the shaved ice, 2 oz. of bourbon, and the remaining mint leaves for garnish. Mix with a spoon and take her easy. The album will play out with some bluesy tunes as the ice melts, mixing with the whiskey, mint, and sugar into a refreshing and potent remedy for your Wednesday night blues.


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Home Stretch: Corpse Reviver #2 and “Too Far to Care” by Old 97’s

(Corpse Reviver #2 photo courtesy of  urbanbohemian )

(Corpse Reviver #2 photo courtesy of urbanbohemian)

By Dave Pezza

It’s Wednesday evening and holy shit you could really use a stiff cocktail and some good tunes to lull away the fact that two more days of legal torture stand between you and sweet, righteous freedom.

Per usual, Writer’s Bone has got your back. Welcome to “Home Stretch.” Here you’ll get a cocktail and an album pairing to help you through the week’s last leg. Why cocktails? Why albums? Both are endangered species slowing making comebacks. And because it’s my weekly column, and imma do what I want.

For the commencement of this new series I’d like to introduce two personal favorites that share an undercurrent of devil-may-care attitude masked in a banal packaging that makes them strong contenders for these mid-week, almost-summer nights: Corpse Reviver #2 and “Too Far to Care” by Old 97’s.

An old school cocktail, the Corpse Reviver #2 is precisely what its name suggests. It is the second variation in a family of drinks that were traditionally used as hair-of-the-dog cocktails. In the beginning of the 20th century, the social norm included drinking, constantly (so much so that they outlawed it…unsuccessfully, of course). So you can imagine the hangover as the scourge of the early 1900s. Thankfully, hangover cures were not limited to acid-heavy Mimosas and eye-watering Bloody Marys. Gilded Age drinkers had an entire repertoire of drinks to combat that pesky problem associated with weekday drinking. That being said, I’d recommend this cocktail as a competent evening drink that can easily substitute for a martini, gin and tonic, or vodka soda. Ingredients and paraphernalia upfront:

  • 1.5 oz. dry gin
  • 1.5 oz. Kina Lillet (which is not vermouth)
  • 1.5 oz. Cointreau (triple sec will do in a pinch)
  • Dash of Absinthe (yeah, that’s right)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • Cocktail glass
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Bar jigger (Just buy one already! It really brings the best out of a cocktail if it is properly proportioned)

This week’s album, “Too Far to Care,” is Old 97’s most successful and most encompassing of their diverse sound. The band is probably best known for their single “Question,” which plays during the proposal scene on the sitcom “Scrubs.” Old 97’s have been plugging away since the early 1990s, killing Texan rock and alt-country for decades. An album that is easily to sing along to, “Too Far to Care” grabs you with guitar riffs of first love, whaling of love lost, and all the alcohol infused musical meanderings in between. Both of this week’s choices will lull you into a false sense of ease before hitting you hard when you need it most.

1.5 oz. of Gin/”Timebomb”

The album kicks off with “Timebomb” a head rocking, body swaying anthem to those first dates that rock you to your core, kind of like the first ingredient in this week’s cocktail: gin! To all you gin haters out there, this might be the least ginny (Weasley) gin drink out there. Gin is the base alcohol here, the alcohol that sets the flavor profile for the rest of the cocktail. Gin will make this drink easy on the pallet, effervescent, and accented with citrus and other fruity undertones. It’s perfect for a Wednesday night: Karen from HR has been on your ass about 401k contributions, and you just want to relax with a soothing, but strong drink. I like dry London gin like Beefeater’s, but this is your Wednesday night. Fill a quarter of the cocktail shaker with ice, and, while you’re there, place your cocktail glass in the freezer (you’ll need it chilled for later). Add an ounce and a half of gin to your shaker.

1.5 oz. of Cointreau/”Barrier Reef”

The album’s second track, “Barrier Reef” is a crooning ode to drunken rebound sex. He’s drunk, she’s had better-looking lays, but they’re both glad they’re not still at that bar drinking to forget someone else. Cointreau works better wherever triple sec works, even though it technically isn’t triple sec. Cointreau is the alcohol that helps round the sharp flavors of the alcohol it accompanies: tequila in traditional margaritas, vodka in a cosmo, or bourbon in a Seelbach. Here it masks some of the saffron/herbal taste typical of gin with an orange tang. Go ahead and add an ounce and a half of Cointreau to your shaker.

1.5 oz. of Kina Lillet/”Big Brown Eyes”

“Big Brown Eyes” is a subtle song that quietly steals the show in this album. It’s a rumpus ballad about a drunk stumbling for a phone to make ill-advised calls to that girl with big brown eyes. Kina Lillet is the phone in this cocktail, always found enabling stronger liqueurs. Kina Lillet is an aromatized white wine used in a shitload of old school cocktails. It’s most famous for its use in the famous Vesper Martini from Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Lillet fell off the face of the earth for a while when the manufacturers retired the “original” recipe. But it is back and should be stocked at any decent liquor store. Add an ounce and a half of Lillet to the shaker. Quick tip, once open, like any wine, Lillet will go bad. Lillet Blanc (which is what you are using here) is a white wine and will hold up decently if properly re-corked and stored in the fridge.

1 oz. of Lemon Juice

Quickly add an ounce lemon juice to the shaker. I don’t have a clever song pairing for lemon juice, it’s just lemon juice…

Dash of Absinthe/”Niteclub”

Shake that bad boy up until your hand starts to freeze. Grab the cocktail glass from the freezer, pour a dash or two of absinthe into the glass, and slowly turn the glass so as to coat the entire inside with absinthe. “Niteclub,” gathers all the album’s emotions and releases it in a display of frustration and regret, shedding inhibition and giving in to the deep-seeded emotional response called “fuck it.” The alcoholic equivalent of this emotion is absinthe. Yes, it’s legal in the United States, and, yes, it’s expensive. Pernod absinthe is the bee’s knees, but it’ll run you $80 for 750ml. I’d opt for a brand like Absinthe Ordinaire: it is more affordable at half the price, especially for a drink that requires only a dash of this magic green liquor. Having an open bottle on your bar top will be worth it come Friday night. A shot of that stuff will get your weekend started right quick.


Pour and enjoy! The albums back half will play out with some mild bluegrass and country toned tracks that are sure to set your nerves at ease. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or a lemon peel if you will.


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Decision 2016: What We're Drinking On Election Night

Daniel Ford: I figured I might as well try to start a thread while I'm refreshing my Twitter feed every few minutes.

Is anyone drinking tonight? And if so, what's on the Election Night cocktail menu? And if you're not, what is wrong with you?

Lindsey Wojcik: For Election Night, I'm turning to the drink that has comforted me through many moments in my life—be it celebratory milestones or trying times—red wine, specifically a Malbec or Pinot Noir. It has yet to fail me, and I know I'll be soothed through the coverage of this stress-inducing election with my standard drinking buddy by my side. If the results call for celebration, a bottle of rosé may be popped. #RoséAllDay, no matter the season, in my opinion.

Dave Pezza: I’ll be drinking what’s left of the bottle of Bushmills Irish Whiskey that was abandoned at my house like an off-brand condom wrapper. I loathe Irish whiskey, and yet someone brought it to my house with the worst best intention. It won’t be the only thing I’ll have to choke down this evening.

Daniel: I finished off my Jefferson's a few weeks ago, so I may have to turn to Rough Rider. Over/under on number of glasses it takes me to cry out, "Bully!": Three.

And if things go sideways, it's on to Basil Hayden's. Beer just doesn't seem like enough for an election like this. Gary, what do you think I should drink?

Thanks for playing, Gary!

Also, you know the republic is in trouble when Dave Pezza has turned to Irish whiskey.

Gary Almeter: Since it's #TacoTuesday I am going to purée some tacos and drink those.

Dave: Oh Gary, where would we be without saints such as yourself? Don’t ever change.

Sean Tuohy: I’ll be drinking a case of Capri Sun.

Alex Tzelnic:

No, really, found Suntory at the liquor store in Union Square, and I plan on holding this pose all night long.

Alexander Brown: I'll be drinking half a bottle of Maker's Mark because, yikes, this election.

Daniel: No Labatt? Or Steam Whistle?

Robert Hilferty: I'm convinced we're all in an episode of the “Twilight Zone”/”Black Mirror,” and this election will literally never end. No matter what I drink tonight we'll all wake up and the election cycle will begin anew. Forever.

Robert Masiello: I'm going to an election watch party at a bar near me. There are two cocktails on special:

Nasty Woman: Gin, Cocchi Rosa, Benedictine, lemon, grapefruit and simple syrup garnished with a lemon swath

The Orangeman: Glendalough Double Barrel, Averna, Orleans bitters, lemon and simple syrup shaken with a rosemary sprig and orange swath

Times like these that I love living in Massachusetts.

Share your own Election Night drink of choice by tweeting us @WritersBone or writing on our Facebook wall

Happy Hour Archive

Shaken or Stirred? A Cocktail Menu of Writing Styles

Editor’s note: Every Friday deserves a fun, boozy question. I asked the Writer’s Bone crew to choose a cocktail that best describes their writing style. I couldn’t be happier with the results (which included a segue involving roosters). Trust me, this is group you’d want to drink and write with! Imbibe and keep writing!—Daniel Ford

Alex Tzelnic: Sex on the Beach because... Okay, fine. I'm going to go with rye, neat because I'm wry and neat.

Rachel Tyner: Wine, because I avoid it like the plague.

Sara Silvestri: A Dark and Stormy because I don't write much anymore, but when I did it was always something emotional.

Daniel Ford: I'd choose a Boilermaker (Budweiser with a shot of Jim Beam) because at the moment writing feels like writing in a coal mine. Nothing makes you forget your black lung like a Boilermaker.

Stephanie Schaefer: Sangria. I tend to keep my writing light and refreshing with hints of sass throughout. Naturally, there's a time and place for more serious work, but overall I'd say I favor light-hearted conversational pieces.

Matt DiVenere: Long Island Iced Tea. I've written about nearly anything and everything you can imagine; from the number of roosters legally allowed in a residents yard in Vermont to a murder-kidnap on the police beat to "How to Get the Taylor Swift" look for a Midwestern fashion and jewelry company. Oh, and sports.

Alex: So what is the number of roosters?

Matt: If I remember correctly, in Essex, you can have two in a fenced in yard. But it was being revisited when I left. #vermontproblems

Lindsey Wojcik: If I'm going to drink and write, my favorite writing buddy is a bottle of red. Something about the tannins of a red eases any insecurity I have staring at that blank page, and they really get the creative juices flowing. Really? No. I just love a delicious, moderately priced red wine, usually Malbec or Merlot, soothing music, and the ambiance of a lit candle on the side of my blinking curser. Drinking and writing, for me, comes with a warning label though: I must drink in moderation. Otherwise, after two paragraphs, I'm drunk and dancing to whatever music accompanied me in the background. 

Jenna Casey (graphic designer and Writer’s Bone newbie): Second Circle (port, bourbon, and maple syrup). Dark, (slightly) dramatic, a little cynical, but in a funny way. Maybe not a funny “ha, ha” way. But it’ll make you laugh. Or cringe.

Jesse Ackerman (also a graphic designer and Writer’s Bone newbie): Water because if I drink with my current creative situation all hell will break lose and I like my freedom.

Robert Masiello: My writing style would definitely be a tequila shot. I don't do much pre-writing planning or organization, and I'm a huge procrastinator. I just sit down and force it all out of me at once, the same way you just gotta force back a shot in one motion.

Friday Happy Hour: Newport Storm Brewery

Photos courtesy of Clare Simpson-Daniel

Photos courtesy of Clare Simpson-Daniel

By Daniel Ford

We may have had a ton of storms in New England so far this year, but I guarantee that none of them were this tasty.

Rhode Island’s Newport Storm Brewery offers beer drinkers everything from its Hurricane Amber Ale to its Rye of the Storm IPA.

The brewery’s PR guru Clare Simpson-Daniel recently answered some of my questions about the brewery’s history, its selection of beers, and which of their brews would be a viable Presidential candidate in 2016.


Newport Storm Brewery

Newport Storm Brewery

DF: Can you give us a little background on the brewery’s history?

Clare Simpson-Daniel: It isn’t surprising to hear that four guys from college came up with an idea to start a brewery. What may be surprising is that these guys are all still great friends and the brewery is still growing after more than a decade. Coastal Extreme Brewing (or The Newport Storm Brewery as we are known by many) was the dream of Brent, Derek, Mark, and Will. These four spent their years at Colby studying the science that would help them understand how to make beer while also doing the “sampling” that would make them love beer. In 1997, staring at graduation and a life just working in “a job,” the idea was hatched to start a brewery.

Over the next 18 months information was gathered, plans were written, investors were begged, and skeptics were grown as the founders pressed forward with their dream. In April of 1999 they moved into their two, 2,500-square foot garage bays in the Middletown, R.I. tradesman center. Concrete was cut, used equipment was found, and on July 2, 1999 the brewery’s first beer, Hurricane Amber Ale, was released. Since then, the brewery has continued to slowly build itself and its reputation. In 2002, the brewery expanded into an additional 1,000 square feet. In 2006, they started Newport Distilling Company to make Thomas Tew Rum, utilizing much of the same equipment and bringing back this historic practice to the area. Perhaps the biggest event of all came in 2010 when the brewery and distillery built a brand new facility in the North End of Newport, which increased the company’s square footage to 10,000, allowing the guys to build a beautiful visitor’s center and tour deck. It was also their first opportunity to upgrade their equipment from when they first started in 1999.

Much has happened since 1999. In the past 15 years the brewery has made up to 60 different varieties of unique craft brews. They helped pioneer the idea of making limited release beers in 1999 and did the same with canned beer in 2004. Thousands of people have visited the facility and many more have had the opportunity to try our unique beer throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maine, and Massachusetts. Through it all, the focus continues to be making quality, unique, local beers for our fans. As in the beginning, Brent, Derek, Mark, and Will hope you enjoy their beers as much as they enjoy making them.

DF: How involved are you in the community and how has the city/state embraced your beer?

CSD: Newport, R.I. is an exciting place all on its own. It is home to an outstanding St. Patrick’s Day Parade and is a major Northeast destination for amusement-seeking summer tourists. Add in a great local beer, and the good times roll! On day one, the Storm crew started bringing fun and entertainment to the streets and venues of Newport. It wasn’t long before they learned how to direct that fun to the support of good causes. By donating beer, ingenuity and time, the crew helped raise more than $100,000 for area non-profits and had a blast doing so!

Here are our Brewmaster Derek Luke’s thoughts on the Rhode Island craft beer scene from a recent interview with The Newport Daily News on Rhode Island beer culture:

“I think that Rhode Island itself hasn’t really come around as a general-populace state that respects beer…and that’s where all these new breweries, big or small, I think will help out. It was Newport Storm that carried the torch for 12 years, and if the beers that we produced weren’t necessarily in somebody’s flavor wheelhouse, then they shied away from us. Where now, say, Ravenous Brewing Co. (in Woonsocket) has a really great coffee milk stout, so someone may be like, ‘Oh, I want to try that.’ So it helps Rhode Island craft beer, I think, or at least there’s the hope. When you look around at a lot of the restaurants, I think they could do a little bit of a better job getting behind the local brewery scene, but being in sales for a while I also know there’s some politics behind. If the customer demands it, and the brewer makes great beer, then it’s a win-win.”

The Newport Storm crew at the Newport Folk Festival

The Newport Storm crew at the Newport Folk Festival

DF: Give us a quick tour of the different beers you offer. What brew would you recommend for a newbie?

CSD: In our 15 (nearly 16 years) of operation we have handcrafted close to 60 varieties of beer. Our year round staples consist of our Hurricane Amber Ale (flagship, great session, not too bitter, not too malty), India Point Ale (an IPA style of beer made with local Rhode Island hops), and Rhode Island Blueberry beer (refreshing kolsh ale with fresh Rhode Island blueberry juice!). Our seasonal line up consists of a Spring Irish Red Ale, Summer Hefeweizen, Pilsner, R.hode I.sland P.umpkin, Oktoberfest Marzen Lager, Winter Porter, and Smoked Porter. Our Cyclone Series, now a retired line up, consisted of 26 beers named alphabetically like a Hurricane Season whose names alternated boy/girl/boy/girl and each style of beer was completely different from the last. Names for these beers came from family members, friends, investors, and previous employees. Now that this series is retired we are venturing into barrel aged beers as well as limited release four packs. To this day, our barrel aged beers have all be 22 ounce bombers and styles have been infRIngement (a Russian Imperial Stout) and Mass HysteRIa, (a double IPA). Our four packs have been Wham! Bam! Van Damme (a Belgian Pale Ale) and Rye of the Storm, (a double rye IPA).

We also have an annual release series that comes out every November. These beers are packaged in 9.4 fluid ounce bottles and we only make 3,000 of them to distribute. The beers range anywhere from 10% to 15% and there is no set style. We usually try to come up with a theme, unique idea, or particular flavor we like to build the ingredient list for this beer. For example, our crew loves coffee and chocolate so for the Annual Release ’13 we created a kind of espresso stout which contained fresh ground coffee beans, chocolate malt, roasted.

A collection of storms we wouldn't mind weathering. 

A collection of storms we wouldn't mind weathering. 

DF: Your 2014 annual release “snow beer” would have been right at home in New England at the beginning of 2015. Any insights yet into what 2015’s release will be?

CSD: Unfortunately I cannot divulge any specific details about this brew. What I can say is get ready for a sweet and savory surprise!

DF: What’s your brewery’s biggest brewing mishap? What lessons did your brewers learn from a bad recipe or mistake?

CSD: We’ve been pretty lucky as far as mishaps go (knock on wood) there have been the occasional over-fermentations. For example, CO2 run offs from our fermenting tanks where we’ve lost some really great yeast strains for fermentation. Also there was the time our brewmaster went to add Cascade hops into a tank fermenting our summer Hefeweizen not knowing the pressure valve hadn’t been shut off so we had a yeast waterfall run down the tank. But other than that we’ve been able to keep everything in check!

DF: If we were in Prohibition times, do you think your brewers would be bootleggers?

CSD: I would think no, but our brewmaster Derek did brew beer out of his dorm room at Colby College…

DF: Since we’re gearing up for another presidential election, if you were going to run one of your beers for President, which one would it be and what would your campaign slogan be?

CSD: Rye of the Storm: A spicy SOB all its own.

DF: What are your plans for growth and what does the future look like for Newport Storm?

CSD: While many of our competitors have focused upon growth at all costs, we remain dedicated to our staying small approach focusing on freshness and quality. That’s not to say that expansion is the enemy, since moving to a larger facility in 2008 to keep up with demand, we have gone from a starting production of 400 barrels in 1999 to a yearly maximum of 4,000-plus in 2013. It’s all about remaining personal while coping with demand. When we first began we were bottling by hand, now we’re producing roughly 800 cases of beer in every run with a fully automated bottling line. We’ve had to find that balance between growth while remaining true to the spirit of the craft beer movement. The most important thing for us to recognize is that a great deal of planning goes into expansion; shipping needs, beer allocation, promotions, and licensing to name a few. To do it right takes a great deal of commitment, not only by our crew, but by the wholesaler we partner with.

DF: Can you name one random fact about your company?

CSD: The first beer we ever brewed is the Hurricane Amber Ale. To this day it still remains one of our best-selling beers whose recipe, created in 1999, still remains the same. Also the name for this beer comes from the 1938 Hurricane that swept through and took Aquidneck Island (Newport, R.I., Middletown, R.I. and Portsmouth, R.I.) by storm!

To learn more about Newport Storm Brewery, visit the official website, like the brewery’s Facebook page, or follow it on Twitter @NewportStorm.

Happy Hour Archive

One More Drinking Game To Get You Through the 2015 Academy Awards

By Hassel Velasco

I woke up to an unfamiliar view outside my window. Los Angeles has graced me with what seems like 360 days of sunshine, however, today is one of those sunshine-less days (be jealous East Coast). It’s like the city knew of the oncoming storm of rich and famous people giving each other awards for being rich and famous. On Hollywood Boulevard later on tonight during the Academy Awards, the Hollywood elite will unite under cloudy skies because even the weather is tired of their bullshit perfect Los Angeles weather, but I digress. To hold you over the almost four-hour program, I decided to put together a drinking game that will surely have you making poor decisions before the Foreign Film Category.

So here we go, as always, drink responsibly and if you need a ride home, Sean and Dan are somewhere in the Northeast.

You should look like this midway through the Oscars. 

You should look like this midway through the Oscars. 


  • Every time Neil Patrick Harris awkwardly laughs or giggles.
  • Every time Ellen is referenced to from last year’s show.
  • Every time they show the Academy Awards title card.
  • Every time a presenter has trouble reading the teleprompter.
  • If Chris Pratt and Chris Evans present together.
  • Every time Meryl Streep is mentioned.
  • Once for every time Leo DiCaprio has been nominated but lost.
  • Every time “50 Shades of Grey” is mentioned.
  • Every time bondage and or BDSM is mentioned.
  • Every time they cut to a black actor after a mention of “Selma.
  • Every time the “Boyhood” filming process is mentioned.
  • Every time the "American Sniper" plastic baby is mentioned.
  • Every category “Interstellar” has not been nominated in.
  • When someone other than Meryl Streep wins.
  • Every time someone gets played off.
  • Every time someone “wasn’t expecting this…” #GTFO
  • Whenever Wes Anderson looks awkward as fuck.


  • If Neil Patrick Harris breaks into song.
  • If Eddie Redmayne wins.
  • If Julianne Moore wins.
  • If Just Keep (aka J.K.) Simmons wins.
  • If Patricia Arquette wins.
  • If “Big Hero 6” wins.
  • If “The Imitation Game” wins best picture.
  • During that awkward president of the Academy speech.
  • If someone falls. Please god, let someone fall.


  • During the In Memoriam segment, you insensitive asshole.


  • During the In Memoriam segment. For your dead homies.

Drink away everyone! It will help you forget about the income gap between that room and yours. Cheers!

Happy Hour Archive

Scotch, Cocktails, and Beer: Your Drinking Guide to the 2015 Best Picture Oscar Nominees

Michael Keaton in "Birdman"

Michael Keaton in "Birdman"

Oscar night should find you dressed in white tie and tails, drinking a fine alcoholic beverage, and enjoying anything other than the Academy Awards broadcast.

In order to add a little extra buzz to your weekend movie-watching, the Writer’s Bone crew put their heads together and came up with the perfect spirits to pair with this year’s Best Picture nominees.


“American Sniper”

Daniel Ford: A six-pack of Budweiser…but keep it away from the fake baby!


Sean Tuohy: Scotch…a lot of scotch. But you have to start with bad scotch, like the worst kind you can find, and then move onto top-tier stuff. Just like the characters in the movie, you start at the bottom and work to the top....only to throw yourself out a window because you realize you are drinking by yourself on a Friday night and you are not Batman.

DF: Ah, Riggan Thomson (played by Michael Keaton) would drink Jameson right before eviscerating a New York City theater critic. I’m sure it also helped Riggan deal with pain caused by Ed Norton’s character Mike taking a dump on his reason for becoming an actor. Also, if you’re going to drink this while watching the movie, you must do it in one take.  

Lindsey Wojcik: Drink gin alongside Mike as he goes method for his Broadway role. Gin could be the ideal elixir for navigating the ambiguity of the film.


Stephanie Schaefer: Anything you can steal from your parent’s liquor cabinet.

DF: Handle of rotgut vodka. Just don't be like Mason’s first stepfather and hide your jug in the laundry room (also don’t send your kid in to cash your bogus check at the package store). Have some class and add a splash of OJ at the very least.   

“The Imitation Game”

DF: A gin and tonic goes well with brilliant English mathematicians besting Nazis, right?   

ST: Pimm’s. The most English drink on the planet.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

DF: Sherry.  However, to borrow Amy Poehler’s line from the Golden Globes, you must drink it out of old tuba parts.

ST: Hmm…Château Margaux? Yeah, like the movie and Wes Anderson, that should be pompous enough to get you through the movie.

“The Theory of Everything”

ST: A Four Horsemen, or any other cocktail concoction that leads to enough bad decisions you end up a cripple.  


ST: A big glass of tolerance!

DF: I could have went the classy route and picked one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite drinks, but why do that when I can celebrate one of the biggest a-holes of the 20th Century. According to the staff at Lyndon Johnson’s Presidential Library, Cutty Sark was his favorite scotch. You don’t get to be a bastard by drinking the good stuff, I suppose. This was a man that used to hold meetings while he was on the can. I hope for the sake of his staff these meetings weren’t held after he downed Mexican food and this shitty whisky in equal measure.


DF: Despite my recent infatuation with bourbon and single-malt scotch, Johnnie Walker Blue remains a perfect choice no matter the occasion. Since “Whiplash” deals with the relentless, and, at times, bloody, pursuit of greatness, the film needs an equally accomplished cocktail. Pour Johnnie Walker Blue into a glass with a heavy bottom (no ice, you heathens) and enjoy Miles Teller wailing on a drum set. As an added bonus, you can hide in the box Johnnie Walker Blue comes in when J.K. Simmons starts calling you a pussy.

ST: It has to be something weak and disappointing, but that everyone likes for some reason. Bud Light, perhaps?

Happy Hour Archive

Friday Happy Hour: Mikkeller 1,000 IPA Beer Review

By Danny DeGennaro

After discovering the glut of excellent beers at Shep's in St. Pete, I was inspired to check out some hop bombs from across the pond. I haven't looked this up, but my guess is that it's 1,000 theoretical IBUs? Mikkeller doesn't do anything halfway, especially when it comes to failure.

The pour is an esoteric shade of dirty amber, more Dubbel than DIPA. Tons of sediment (Mikkeller's yard stick when it comes to bang for your buck-ness). The head and the lacing are both outstanding, though.

I brought the beer outside and honestly it smells like a malty wreck. Truly the wreck of the S.S. GiMALTer (sorry). Lots of toasted caramel and off-putting sugary notes, but with some pungent resin on the back end.

The taste is intense, and dispels any doubt that this is or isn't a fresh DIPA. There isn't actually a ton to report on here; this is bitter as fuck. My hoppy adjective bank is overdrawn—this is simply a stupidly hoppy beer. From the outset it's blow after blow of nearly characterless bitterness. There's some herbaceousness I guess, but only as a formality. It took everything the malt had to be present in the nose, 'cause it doesn't even make a cursory appearance in the taste.

The arms race to be the hoppiest brewer is long over in my opinion; it's trivial to unveil a triple IPA, or a Mean Manalishi, or Hopsickle clone. Single hop varieties are where it's at, preferably without the volume cranked to 11.

This isn't a bad beer, but it lacks balance and defining character. In the wake of all of Mikkeller's smaller, single hop beers, this seems anachronistic—a gauntlet throw down to challengers who aren't even playing the same game. Worth a try if you're feeling a little masochistic or need an alpha acid fix, but don't expect divinity, or even tact for that matter.

Happy Hour Archive

Friday Happy Hour: 3 Bottles of Scotch You'll Fall in Love With

By Daniel Ford

“I bet I can drink more whiskey than you,” said a former co-worker at a holiday party.

I was already one whiskey in and primed to drink much, much more. I was surrounded by free booze, I had a free hotel room to go back to, and my future girlfriend was across the room wearing a red dress I couldn’t take my eyes off. I accepted the challenge cheerfully.

I won handily.

My co-worker gave a good showing, but ended up falling asleep at an all night diner while I devoured my victory eggs with ease (I even ended up convincing Stephanie Schaefer to go on a date with me a couple months later, which completely changed my life for the better. I have that red dress to thank.).

I didn't even see it coming... 

I didn't even see it coming... 

I’ve been a whiskey aficionado since my college roommates gave me a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black for my 21st birthday. While that remains my favorite “every day” scotch, I’ve also discovered plenty of others that should be in every whiskey lovers’ collection.

Here are three of my favorites:

Johnnie Walker Blue

I had only one answer when my friend and former St. John’s right-handed pitcher Rob Delaney asked me what I wanted as a senior gift from the team.

Johnnie Walker Blue.

The team wanted to get me something they considered “cooler,” but my answer never changed. They got it for me and it was magnificent. It also came in its own “coffin,” which I’d like to be buried in some day.

I’ve written about this scene from “The West Wing” before, but it’s the best way to explain the magic that’s in each sip of Johnnie Walker Blue (as well as the crippling alcoholism that can result in overuse).

I need a cigar just thinking about it. Let’s move on.


My former managing editor Melissa Bernardo got me a bottle of Talisker for Christmas one year. It did not last long. I usually like to savor bottles people have given me, but this scotch was so smooth and so delicious, I think I finished it within a month. Admittedly, I had some help during work Happy Hours, but still.

If you’ve yet to dabble in single malts, start here.


Oban. Neat. Heavy glass. Repeat.

Also, Oban is the perfect drink to pair with the New York skyline and championship rings.

Besides, Charlie Skinner on “The Newsroom” drinks Oban, so you should too.

Happy Hour Friday: 3 Movie-Themed Drinking Games to Enjoy With Your Drunkest Friends

By Sean Tuohy

What is better than sitting around with your friends and drinking some beer and watching a movie? Maybe having a real life, but since none of us on the Internet can do that let's play some drinking games! The games below are our favorite movie-themed drinking games. All you need is booze, a DVD, and some friends who don't mind when you throw up on their shoes.

Feel free to share your own drinking game in the comments section or tweet us @WritersBone.


"Die Hard"

Watching this classic action thriller in your boxers is more fun when you're blasted.

Booze needed: Beer, whiskey, Jägermeister


  • Drink beer any time "Christmas" is said
  • Take a shot of whiskey whenever Bruce Willis kills a terrorist
  • Take a shot of Jägermeister whenever the German terrorist kills someone
  • Drink beer whenever something blows up
  • Chug a beer when you hear the catch phrase "Yippee Kay Yay"

"The Notebook"

Most men need copious amounts of alcohol to get through "The Notebook."

Booze needed: Wine coolers, fruit-flavored vodka


  • Drink a wine cooler any time the two main characters kiss
  • Down a shot of vodka when they kiss in the rain
  • Chug a wine cooler whenever the old woman gets lost
  • Take three shots of vodka during the "sex scene"

"Super Troopers"

First off,  I made this game up with my friends when we were still high school. This cop comedy is great, but its even better with a lot of barley and hops.

Booze needed:  Beer. A lot of beer.


  • Drink any time "cup the balls" is said
  • Drink any time "meow" is said
  • Drink whenever you see a naked body
  • Drink when you hear the word "enhance"

Happy Hour Archive

Friday Happy Hour: Our Favorite Bars of All Time

Thirsty yet?

Thirsty yet?

Does this happen whenever you walk into your favorite bar?

You’re probably not as funny as Norm Peterson, but you probably feel more at home in your preferred drinking establishment than you’re actual place of residence.

The Writer’s Bone crew got together and discussed their favorite watering holes recently. Here’s what they came up with:

Oblivion Taproom

Orlando, Fla.

Danny Degennaro: Stupidly good selection of rare brews, great food, awesome service, and free pool.

Hemingway's Lounge

Hollywood, Calif.

Hassel Velasco: Great drinks, better atmosphere. The walls are lined with books and typewriters.

Captain America

Dublin, Ireland

Lisa Carroll: Reaching back to my “drinking” days I'd have to go with this bar where I was schooled in Gaelic. I was studying at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in the summer of 1990 and we went out to Captain America’s and saw a sign that advertised their 4th of July party "Great American Crack!" I was in shock that “crack” was legal in Ireland. Little did I know it was supposed to be "craic," which is Gaelic for “fun.” Funny thing about Ireland is that Bud is an imported beer! Thank God I love Guinness, Smithwick's, and Harp!


New York City

Daniel Ford: I could have easily chosen Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, N.Y. or the Connolly's on Madison Avenue that the JCK magazine crew used to frequent.

However, I have to choose Ulysses on Pearl Street in Downtown Manhattan. Great beer, great atmosphere, and live music on Saturday nights. The other Ford brothers came down for my birthday one year and that's the bar we went to. I also once saw the U2 cover band, 2U, there one Saturday night and they rocked my face off. Great memories.

But it is a bitch to get to if you live in Queens.

Rí Rá Irish Pub

Burlington, Vt.

Matt DiVenere: This is the perfect spot to start your night. Moderate prices, pretty good DJ, cheap jello shots, and PBR pounders. Did you stick to the floor when you walked around that place? Yes. When you went to find the bathroom in the basement, did you feel like you would never see your friends again? Of course. But it is glorious. And I'm a sucker for a good Irish pub.

And recently they just added a second bar in the back of the establishment called The Whiskey Room, which only has the finest whiskeys. And I'm not talking Jack Daniels and Jameson. It's fantastic.

Happy Hour Archive

Friday Happy Hour: Southern Tier Brewing Company

Southern Tier Brewing Company

Southern Tier Brewing Company

By Lindsey Wojcik

The dog days of summer are upon us, and there’s no better way to end a humid, sun-filled day with a cold beer in hand. Southern Tier Brewing Company understands this and touts its newest seasonal brew—fittingly named Farmer’s Tan—as the beer to grab at the beginning of a summer evening. Plus, Farmer’s Tan pairs well with traditional barbecue fare like hot dogs, burgers, and grilled foods. What could be better?

Phineas DeMink, founder, president and owner of Southern Tier, along with the company’s graphic designer, Nathan Arnone, takes Writer’s Bone on a tour of the brewery’s history and beers.


Lindsey Wojcik: Tell us about Southern Tier's history and how you started brewing.

Phineas DeMink: I first started home brewing while going to college. It quickly became an obsessive hobby for me. Every weekend, my roommate and I would make five-gallon batches of beer on our stove. Shortly after finishing school, I found a magazine article about a course you could take to become a professional brewer. At the time, it seemed like a great way to defer entering the workforce. I headed out to California to take the class. That's where I was able to network and get my first professional brewing job at the Ellicottville Brewing Company in New York.

While in Ellicottville, I met my business partner and wife, Sara, who was also working at the brewery. After four years at EBC, I decided to go back to school at the Seibel Institute of Technology to further my brewing education. Upon graduation, I took a job with the Goose Island Brewing Company. I worked there from 1998 to 2002. Sara and I decided to leave the Chicago area and head back to her hometown of Lakewood, N.Y., to start a business and family. In early 2003, the Southern Tier Brewing Company was born.

LW: Give us a quick tour of the different beers you offer. What brew would you recommend for a newbie?

PD: We make around 30 unique beers throughout the year. For those just starting out, I'd recommend our lightest and newest beer. Farmer's Tan is a session (low abv.) India Pale Ale. It's not high in alcohol, not too bitter, but it has enough of a hop bite for an initiation.

LW: I'd consider Pumking the king of pumpkin brews. What's the secret to this wildly popular brew?

PD: It's a secret, of course! Joking aside, it's a flavorful beer that is released for the fall season, so it is limited in availability. We've worked really hard to perfect the recipe to make beer taste like pumpkin pie, right down to the spices and crust flavor.

LW: What was your biggest mistake brewing? What lessons did you learn from a bad recipe or brewing mishap?

PD: Trial and error is not necessarily a mistake. Learning by doing is the only way to learn. Taking notes and remembering to refer back to those notes for next time is a lesson. But they have it right when they say "just do it."

LW: Your logo has four distinct symbols. What is the meaning behind each symbol and how does it convey Southern Tier's mission?

Nathan Arnore: The logo is made of several symbols, each with significance. At the top we have a hop cone, one of the essential ingredients in beer. Below this we have two pieces of brewing equipment, the mash paddle, or rake, and a shovel. Outside and around the logo are grains, another important ingredient, and between this and the equipment you'll notice a circle. This represents the brewing vessels, as well as the glass. The bottom-most piece is the brewer's star. This is an age-old symbol of brewing purity, originating in Germany in the 1500s. The six-pointed star represents pure ingredients; water, hops, grains, malting, yeast, and, of course, the brewer.

LW: Southern Tier is inching its way to become one of the top 25 craft brewing companies in the country, recently moving into the No. 31 slot, according to USA Today. What are your plans for growth and what does the future look like for Southern Tier?

NA: We are constantly making improvements to the brewery for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is to maintain high quality products. That is our number one goal. But we also have a need to increase capacity, but never to sacrifice the liquid. So most every addition to the brewery relates back to improving production and therefore improving the beer.

LW: If you were in Prohibition times, do you think you’d be bootleggers?

NA: Haha! Well, after all, beer is the drink of the people, is it not?

LW: If you were going to run one of your beers for President, which one would it be and what would your campaign slogan be?

NA: I'd run UnEarthly for President. It's an Imperial India Pale Ale. We'd use the campaign slogan "A Pint in Every Hand."

LW: Name one random fact about your company.

NA: We replanted more trees on our property than we removed to make room for our brewery.

To learn about Southern Tier Brewing Company, check out the brewery's official website, like its Facebook page, and follow it on Twitter @stbcbeer.

Happy Hour Archive

Friday Happy Hour: The Best Drunken Movies of All Time

"Frank the Tank! Frank the Tank!"

"Frank the Tank! Frank the Tank!"

The Writer’s Bone crew got together to discuss what the best drinking movies and the best movies to get drunk to. This is the result. Cheers!

"Old School"

Daniel Ford: I remember seeing “Old School” in college with my buddy Steve-O and him laughing so loud I thought my ear drums were going to explode. When the movie ended, but didn’t really end because there was one more scene, Steve-O shouted to some of the departing audience, “It’s not fucking over!” One of the top movie-going experiences of my life. It’s tough to choose my favorite scene from the movie, but Mitch’s drunken wedding toast speech is pretty stellar.

Drunken Quote: “True love is hard to find, sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a goddamn magic show ready to double team your girlfriend...”

"Sex and the City"

Stephanie Schaefer: Although it's not necessarily a "drinking movie," the “Sex and the City” series, and the films that followed, led to a slew of 20-, 30- and 40-somethings all over the country ordering Cosmos at happy hour. Although the first movie definitely wasn't as good as the series, it was still a fun excuse for a girl's night (although since we were teenagers, my friends and I celebrated with "mock-tails"). And as far as “Sex and the City 2” goes, you had to have a drink (or two, or three) just to get through the terrible plot and ridiculous outfits.

Drunken Quote: “Why did we ever stop drinking these?"


Matt DiVenere: I think about “Swingers” being on while me and my friends were pre-gaming my junior year of high school to this day. True story: I can recite the entire video game sequence from “Swingers.”

Drunken Quote: “This place is dead anyway.”

"Die Hard With A Vengeance"

Sean Tuohy: Heavily armed terrorist versus a crushingly hungover John McClaine

Drunken Quotes: FBI: “Anybody following you at all? Any kind of surveillance, telephone, house, anything unusual at all?” John McClane: “Well, now that you mention it, I have experienced a, you know, like a burning sensation between my toes. I thought it was just some athlete's foot or something.”


Rachel Tyner: The only time I ever drank before seeing a movie was when I saw Inception which was a horrible idea.

Drunken Quote: “I'll tell you a riddle. You're waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don't know for sure. But it doesn't matter. How can it not matter to you where that train will take you?”

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"

Daniel: I’m bending the rules “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is more about drugs than booze, but fuck it, it’s my website.

I read the book and watch the movie before every trip to Las Vegas. Never gets old.

Drunken Quote: “The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.”


Lindsey Wojcik: I'm a sucker for Ryan Reynolds and most films set in the 1980s. So why not brown-bag it while being nostalgic for an era I barely remember?

Drunken Quote: “Panty stain, that's me. Good night everybody.”


Matt: That is all (but check out Writer’s Bone’s interview with Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme of Broken Lizard).

Drunken Quote: Anything the German team says.

"Super Troopers"

Sean: I made a drinking game to this in high school where you drank every time they said "meow" and any time they said a character's name.

Drunken Quote: “Who wants a mustache ride?”


Lindsey: Seth and Evan spend the whole film on the quest for alcohol. Unaware of the plot, I went prepared.

Drunken Quotes: Officer Michaels: “How old are you McLovin?” Fogell: “Old enough.” Fogell: “Old enough for what?” Fogell: “To party.”

"Batman & Robin"

Robert Hilferty: One of the best, most ridiculous drinking games I've ever played was while watching "Batman & Robin." We all picked a character that has their own rules and half way through the movie three of us were blacked out.

Drunken Quotes: Poison Ivy: “There's just something about an anatomically correct rubber suit that puts fire in a girl's lips.” Batman: “Why is it that all the beautiful ones are homicidal maniacs? Is it me?”

"There Will Be Blood"

Hassel Velasco: I came up with a “There Will Be Blood” drinking game.

Drink every time...

  • You see fire 
  •  “Oil” is mentioned
  • You see a drill in motion
  • Creepy (read: any) violin music plays
  • Daniel says “H.W.” or “my son”
  • Daniel says “plain speech”
  • You want to punch Eli in the face
  • Daniel slaps Eli (and also every time he screams like a girl).

So hungover...

Harry Potter Series

Dave Pezza: Harry Potter drinking game:

Drink every time…

  • Every time Gryffindor is awarded or deducted house points drink the same number of times
  • When Hermione says something pretentious and douchey (be careful, that's every word she speaks in the first two movies)
  • When Dumbledor says something homoerotic
  • When anyone says "Harry Potter" in an English accent
  • Every time a new professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts is introduced
  • When Malfloy says something a Hitler youth would say
  • When someone says "He Who Must Not Be Named"

Try it with multiple Harry Potter movies and you'll be drunk off your broom by the end of “The Chamber of Secrets.”

Happy Hour Archive