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.

  

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Product Review: Luchiano Visconti Dress Shirts

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Just like when Homer Simpson’s life immediately improved when he changed his name to “Max Power,” when you encase your torso in a shirt from Luchiano Visconti, you will instinctively begin using the hashtag #PowerShirt! Because that is exactly how you feel inside.

The picture says it all, doesn’t it? The voltage delivered by such a badass shirt could power the entire earth. Think about how much money we will save on gas!

Sure, you might be constrained by the office walls until roughly 5:00, but until then, you can let your freak flag fly with an incredibly loud shirt from Luchiano Visconti. But this isn’t just a loud shirt; this is a POWER SHIRT.

It’s a shirt that makes people take notice, to be sure. In an otherwise drab environment, no one within eye-shot can resist its allure. People have to look at you. It’s a shirt that, by itself, amplifies your mood and the situations around you.

But the shirt is so versatile that it isn’t about making people look at you, or you wouldn’t wear a shirt like this in the first place. The fact that the shirt makes the ladies take notice is an extension limited or enhanced by the man wearing it.

Then again, if the shirt was completely uncomfortable to wear, who cares how cool it looks? Thankfully, Luchiano Visconti has your back.

Visconti traversed the earth for his shirts. He uses only the finest materials imported from Italy, France, Portugal, Turkey and Hong Kong, and combines different prints together to produce contrast details on the collars, cuffs and a placket for a cohesive fashion statement.

“We use the best materials from around the world,” says founder Sheba Hourizadeh. “We are dedicated to bringing you the forgotten skills of the past and leading edge technology to create the perfect fit.”

The mission is simple: to create and deliver the best quality, the finest styling and most unique details in designer sportswear today.

What’s even more appealing is the price. As an owner of several dress shirts that cost in excess of $200, I assumed the Visconti line, based on the feel, texture and design would be around the same price. But I was amazed when I saw the $65 price tag. Frankly, I was floored. These are fantastic shirts with the look and feel of some of the most expensive designers on the market, at unbelievably reasonable prices.

But it isn’t just shirts. There is an entire collection of streamlined, refined and forward ready-to-wear collection of Italian inspired menswearfilled with jackets, pants, sweaters, scarves, vest, polos and shirts. Along with regular sizing, Luchiano Visconti also carries big and tall sizes. For example, in sport shirts, the line starts at size small and goes up to 6X.

The Luchiano Visconti line pens its designs as self-generated products of imagination blended with designers’ passion from experience and information. They aim to create meaningful luxury clothing, targeting both the fashion and social conscience of the customer.

For more information and images of the entire collection, visit the website here. Connect with the brand via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

  

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.)

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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.

  

Travelocity’s Courtney Scott with top travel destinations for Labor Day

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Courtney Scott is the Senior Travel Editor for Travelocity.com. She is also really hot and has traveled to the coolest places on earth. If you’re going to take travel advice, why not get it from an expert?

We asked Courtney for a list of great vacations and cheap deals for guys in seek of a final party destination on Labor Day weekend. 

Las Vegas, Nevada:
$119/night at the four-star SLS Las Vegas right on the Las Vegas Strip. Stay three nights and get the third night free! It will be a weekend of live DJs and EDM: Steve Akoi at Wet Republic, Steve Angello at Encore Beach Club, David Guetta, Krewella and many more!

Cancun, Mexico:
$127/night for a deluxe room with kitchenette at the Villa del Palmar Beach Resort, located on Playa Mujeres. For $54/night, you can stay at the Suites Sina Cancun, right in the Cancun hotel zone, a property on the laguna with more budget accommodations, but a great location and value.

Miami, Florida:
Vacation like royalty at the Lord Balfour right in the heart of South Beach on Ocean Drive. You will enjoy a room fit for a king for only $185/night (while inventory lasts). Events are happening all around Miami. You can sail away on chic South Beach Lady Yacht on Saturday, which is hosting the annual All White Yacht Party hosted by Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s Karlie Redd, or on Sunday, the Rock the Yacht Labor Day Party Cruise will set sail at Bayfront Park. Of course, if you’d rather be on land, there are pool parties happening throughout Miami.

Denver, Colorado:
Denver’s summer of festivals continues through Labor Day weekend where you’ll enjoy A Taste of Colorado food festival with tasty treats from over 50 local restaurants and food trucks. There is no shortage of pubs and saloons around Denver, and a must-visit is My Brother’s Bar, one of the oldest bars in Denver. Looking for live music?  You can head to the Bluebird Theater or Summit Music Hall. For those looking to party, SOCO (South of Colfax) is the place to be. It’s Denver’s nightlife district and is home to Denver’s best nightlife venues. You can stay at the gorgeous Magnolia Hotel in Downtown Denver for $146/night.

When you book on Travelocity.com, use promo code GO50 for $50 off $250 or more on your hotel and GO75 for $75 off $750 or more with a three-night minimum stay.

And when you’re done shopping for a trip, visit Courtney’s website and YouTube account for more from the travel expert.

  

2014 Back to School Gift Guide

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The new school year will be starting soon (and it likely already has for some people), which means that it’s time to get those students in your life the tools they’ll need in order to survive the next nine months. No, we’re not talking about boring stuff like pencils and notebooks, but rather the cool gadgets and gear that will make dorm life a little more enjoyable. Here are some great gift ideas that no student should be without.

For Your Room:

Grace Digital Primo Wi-Fi Internet Radio Streamer

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Internet radio has become all the rage these days, and although you can listen to a lot of stuff on your computer or smartphone, we really dig this wireless music receiver from Grace Digital, which delivers access to over 50,000 stations, podcasts and on-demand content from all over the world with a user-friendly interface. Whether you’re listening to local stations, shows from other countries or cultivated playlists on Pandora, the Primo has everything you could possibly want… except for an integrated speaker, which is a little weird considering that one was included on previous models. With that said, it does make the device more compact, and there’s an AC power jack for headphones and an RCA line out to connect to your personal sound system. The unit itself is also smartly designed, with a 3.5-inch color LCD screen that makes finding what you want a breeze – from dedicated icons for Pandora, iHeartRadio and SiriusXM, to the ability to search for stations by categories like location and genre – as well as eight one-button presets (with the option to store 100 additional stations) and thumbs up/down and skip functionality for Pandora users. Heck, you can even view the weather or use it as an alarm clock, making the Grace Digital Primo the perfect addition to any work desk.

Roku 3

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If you’ve never heard of Roku, chances are that you’re living under a rock, because much like how TiVo spearheaded the DVR explosion, Roku has been at the forefront of the streaming media movement since its little black box debuted in 2008. In those six years, Roku has quickly become one of the best and most popular devices on the market, with the Roku 3 serving as the premium model in the company’s line of set-top boxes. One of the biggest reasons why the brand has continued to prosper is just how easy their products are to use, and the Roku 3 improves that experience with a processor that’s five times faster and an extended wireless range to ensure you have the best possible connection when accessing the 1,000-plus entertainment channels like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Pandora. And if you already own a Roku, now’s the time to upgrade, because the Roku 3 comes fully loaded with 1080p video, dual-band wireless, an Ethernet port and a USB port to stream your music, movies and photos. The included remote also comes equipped with a headphone jack and headphones for private listening, so you won’t have to worry about disturbing your roommate’s studying with episodes of “Orange is the New Black.”

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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