Quantity versus Quality: Solving the Protein Puzzle

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Protein, essential for life and good health, is somewhat of a puzzle to those who want to understand how to stay healthy and maintain a good weight. We know protein is essential, but many don’t know too much information beyond that.
Is there a limit to how much we should ingest? Should we depend on alternative sources like vitamins and powders for added protein? Is it unhealthy to opt for a vegetarian or vegan diet?

How Much Protein Should We Eat?

American doctors suggest a minimum of 8 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight. The Institute of Medicine suggests that protein account for 10% to 35% of caloric intake. Aside from medicinal recommendations, there’s little evidence of a ‘magic number.’ In America, recommended daily intake is 46 grams for adult women and 56 grams for men. But, why do we need protein at all?

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Drink of the Week: The Liberal (modern style)

The Liberal.Yes, it won’t be shock if you’ve been paying close attention, but I’m a liberal. Not a Noam Chomsky-style ultra-progressive or a concern-trolling Tom Friedman/Joe Klein style enabler of everything that sucks. Nope, I’m just a plain old liberal with a mad crush on Rachel Maddow, personal liberty, ethnic/religious/sexual equality, not starting wars every alternate Thursday, and the concept of a mixed economy like they still have in Canada and Europe.

Why bring that up now? Well, most of us at least know that on Memorial Day, we’re really supposed to be honoring on our war dead, and Veteran’s Day is obviously about veterans, but few people of any political stripe consider that Labor Day is really supposed to be about people who have to work for a living for other, richer people. In other words, most of us. Unions are a real thing and if you like things like a 5 day week or overtime pay, you should be for improving them AND for growing them, not dismantling them.

So, since labor and liberal politics really do together, now more than ever, I can’t imagine a better drink for Labor Day weekend than the Liberal. Now, it’s not at all clear why this particular drink is called the Liberal and not the Libertarian or the Nonpartisan, but it’s definitely a drink that will make you feel like sharing the wealth, just a little. Let us begin.

The Liberal (Modern Style)

1 1/2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce Torani Amer
1 dash orange bitters
1 lemon twist or maraschino cherry (desirable garnish)

Combine your whiskey, vermouth and your amaro digestif (that’s the Torani Amer) in the mixing vessel of your choice with a liberal amount of ice. Stir very vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe. I’m usually very shaking-friendly, but I really don’t suggest shaking this one as it seems to come out surprisingly watered down and deflavorized if you do.

Add a decent maraschino cherry or very thin lemon twist. Since I’m a small-l liberal as well as big-L liberal, I’ll allow you to toast whomever you like. I, however, might suggest George Bernard Shaw, Molly Ivins, Groucho Marx, or Abe Lincoln, the originator of that long-dead breed, the liberal Republican.

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A brief note: today’s version is, as is so often the case, just one of a number of different recipes with wildly differing proportions. This version appears to be of more recent vintage, but I hope to be giving an older version of it whirl fairly soon. The modern Liberal is pretty nice, if you’re not allergic to cocktails that flaunt their booziness. Nevertheless, it is a drink with issues.

The first problem some of you are going to encounter is finding Torani Amer. It’s fairly easy to dig up here in lefty-coastal California at your local high-end or big box liquor emporium such as Total Wine & More or Bev-Mo, I understand, however, it’s hard to find elsewhere. I guess you’ll have to buy it online until the revolution comes.

The second problem is that nobody’s really that crazy about Torani Amer. The thing is, in some drinks, it’s just the best ingredient you’ll find. The original version of the Liberal, in fact, called for Amer Picon, a product that really doesn’t exist anymore no matter where you live. (You can still find something with that name in Europe but, by all accounts, it’s changed dramatically.)

I actually tried this drink with the far more well-liked sister beverage to Torani Amer and Amer Picon, Amaro CioCiara, and it was actually too sweet. Torani Amer it is. It’s a fact of modern liberal life that, all too often, you have to accept damn near unacceptable compromises.

  

Drink of the Week: The Hemingway Daiquiri (a la Selvarey)

Selvarey Hemingway Daquiri.It’s a good drink, a true drink, an honest drink. Okay, I’ll skip the lousy Hemingway parodies from now on, but you should be nevertheless be prepared for a bit of extra exuberance as this week’s selection is a genuine treat, which is no surprise as it’s one of many versions of a true cocktail classic. It also comes with a dandy free bottle of very good rum for yours truly.

In case you out of touch with the latest in the booze world, fine rums are all the rage right now and Selvarey white rum is one tasty example. (DOTW already featured its delicious sister chocolate-infused cacao rum a couple of weeks back.) Moreover, just as Avion tequila benefited from an endorsement from the fictional movies stars of “Entourage,” Selvarey has a little bit of star appeal of its own, courtesy of the involvement of singer-songwriter Bruno Mars.  Don’t think for a minute, however, that this is just a matter of so much fake alcoholic tinsel. As Oscar Levant would say, underneath the fake tinsel you’ll find the real tinsel and Selvarey is the real deal, a flavorful but straightforward and smooth white rum that’s definitely at least one or two cuts above what you’re probably used to.

As good as the booze is, this week’s cocktail is even better. I’m actually pretty new to the Hemingway Daiquiri. A regular daiquiri — made with fresh juice, a little sugar, and no blender — is a delight. A Hemingway daiquiri is, however, something else. I can see why the great novelist might have dug this drink when it was first made him for him by Havana bartender Constantino Ribalaigua. At least in the Selvarey version, it’s a terse rhapsody in a glass.

The Hemingway Daiquiri (a la Selvarey)

1 1/2 ounces Selvarey white rum
3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 grapefruit slice or decent maraschino cherry (desirable garnish)

Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake as vigorously as Mr. Hemingway searched for just the right words, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (coupe or martini style). Toast your favorite Hemingway novel or film adaptation. (In my case, I guess that would probably be “A Farewell to Arms” for the book and “To Have and Have Not” for the film adaptation…even if Hemingway himself hated the book and I’ve never read it, it’s damn fine movie.)

*****

If you’ll look online you’ll see that the basic ingredients of Hemingway Daiquiri almost never vary, but the proportions are constantly in flux. It’s a great excuse for me to revisit this drink later on so I can try messing with the proportions myself.

Nevertheless, this time around I stuck with the Selvarey basic recipe, but I messed around a bit with the brand names. For starters, I was so bold as to try a couple of very well known Brand X rums — one a super-reasonably priced big name and the other a premium brand, beloved of cocktail classicists. Predictably, the latter was somewhat superior to the former, but I’m sure the Selvarey people will be delighted to hear that their rum really did produce the best result of all, smoother, more complex and flavorful.

The really interesting result, though, was when I switched out the brands of maraschino liqueur…which I once again remind you is in no way to be confused with the red syrup in a bottle of supermarket maraschino cherries. Luxardo is the brand of choice these days for the wondrous very sweet, slightly bitter cherry liqueur and it works just great in a Hemingway. However, since I also have a bottle of value-priced Maraska maraschino on hand, I was duty bound to give that a whirl. It was even nicer when I departed from Selvarey’s recipe and substituted the grapefruit slice garnist for a much better than average maraschino cherry (Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino).

Though the consensus among cocktail cognoscenti appears to be strongly in favor of Luxardo, I’ll be damned if the version with Maraska wasn’t notably superior. It was already a highly refreshing, almost perfectly balanced bittersweet beverage, but now there was something more. I’d say it added a lovely, slightly sweet, indescribable sheen that took the Hemingway daiquiri to a whole new level. Not bad, considering I purchased my Maraska, which is admittedly not always easy to find, for about half as much as the $30+ you’ll usually pay for Luxardo.

Life, as Hemingway might, say is full of surprises. Actually, it’s possible he’d never say that but, in this case, it would be true.

  

Drink of the Week: The Laphroaig Suntanned Scotsman

he Laphroaig Suntanned Scotsman.There are some drinks that seem to be endlessly adjustible. Some might prefer their martini’s super-dry, and I might like a Fifty-Fifty but, at either extreme or somewhere in the middle, a martini can always be a perfectly lovely drink if made with some love.

Not so for other drinks, which admit of no variation. Make it with the just the right ingredients, it works. Try anything else, though, and the thing becomes kind of a revolting mess.

Not surprisingly, a drink being promulgated in connection with the “opinions welcome” publicity campaign of the rather fascinating, kind of delicious, and definitely ultra-smokey Laphroaig Ten-Year Old Scotch Whisky is likely to fall into a category where dogma is required. Trust me, make this drink exactly this way and it’ll be good — though definitely not for everyone — make it any other way and, well, you will wish you hadn’t.

The name of this colorful beverage might evoke images of Groundskeeper Willie and the great Billy Connolly, but they’ll be having the last laugh should you dare to mess with today’s drink.

The Laphroaig Suntanned Scotsman

1 1/2 ounces Laphroaig 10-Year Old Scotch Whisky
1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice (unsweetened, damn it!)
1 pineapple slice (non-essential but highly desirable garnish)

Get a highball glass and fill it with ice. Add the smoke-laden Scotch, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice…in that order. Resist the impulse to stir, but do add a pineapple slice. Prepare for a drink that’s both seriously refreshing and definitely not for the faint of heart. As for the toast, I’d normally suggest someone or something Scottish but this odd, sad week, I’ll give you a choice of Robin Williams or the great Lauren Bacall.

*****

I was told I could try this with which ever kind of cranberry juice I liked, sweetened or unsweetened. I tried it both ways and it was a night and day kind of a thing. With unsweetened cranberry juice the mix of tart, bitter, and slightly sweet flavors was challenging, but really quite refreshing. A drink for sophisticates who don’t mind some moderately healthy ingredients in their cocktails.

With the sweetened Ocean Spray stuff, however, “ugh” is the first word that comes to mind. It was pretty much that revolting mess I talked about earlier. More surprisingly, I also experimented by trying this with a Brand X Scotch that’s not bad at all…except, it appears, in a Suntanned Scotsman. In this case, if the drink isn’t made with Laphroaig, as Mike Myers might have said, it’s crap!


If It’s Not Scottish, It’s Crap!!! by shundriad

  

Drink of the Week: Pago Pago (a la Selvarey)

Image ALT text goes here.If you’ve been reading these posts regularly you know that I tend to lean strongly towards anything that makes good cocktails easier, simpler, or cheaper.

Today, I’m here to tell you that the bottle of the Selvarey Cacao Rum I was gifted with by the gods of publicity is something of a deal at it’s midline premium price and at a lower than average 70 proof.  That’s because it’s a truly tasty, yet tasteful, flavored spirit with a fine chocolatey flavor that will work for a lot of people sipped neat or just on the rocks, even if they’re the sort who normally would never drink anything straight up. It’s also true because, as a rather chocolate flavored rum, it’s something of a twofer in that it can seemingly be used in any cocktail that ordinarily calls for both white rum and the ever popular chocolate flavored liqueur, creme de cacao.

Which leads to this adaptation/simplification of a drink more commonly made not only with rum and chocolate liqueur, but muddled pineapple slices. That sounds lovely enough to check out here some time but, for today, we’re keeping it simple with a drink that is both lively, complex, chocolately and floral, thanks to a dash of green chartreuse. It’s pretty nice.

Pago Pago (a la Selvarey)

2 ounces Selvarey Cacao Rum
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce green chartreuse
1/2 ounce simple syrup or 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar
1 lime wheel (moderately optional garnish)

Combine the chocolate rum, lime juice, chartreuse (a floral liqueur beloved of fancy tipplers everywhere), and sweetener in a cocktail shaker with a lots of ice. Do the natural thing and shake it within an inch of your life and pour the result into a chilled cocktail glass. I know I usually give you something to toast, so let’s salute the capital of American Samao, which probably has nothing much to do with this drink but I’m sure it’s very lovely.

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I made this drink a a number of times. Aside from the time I found myself lime-less and used lemon juice instead (not bad!) I didn’t mess around too much with this drink, except for trying out superfine sugar instead of simple syrup.

1/2 ounce of Master of Mixes simple syrup has forty calories while a tablespoon of sugar has 38 calories but removing the small amount of water from the mixes results in a slightly sweeter beverage that I found slightly more balanced. I guess you could call that a win-win, very much like the drink itself.

  

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