Drink of the Week: The Aperol Americano

The Aperol Americano What kind of drink do you want on Labor Day? Something so strong it’ll make you lose all ambition and forget you even have a job? Maybe you’d be better off with something so delicious and sweet it’ll make you glad you have some hard-earned sheckels and can actually afford some decent booze, but not so heavy duty with alcohol it’ll dehydrate you in the late summer heat or blitz you out to the point that you’re going to have to call in sick on Tuesday morning.

So, we turn to a variation on a genuine cocktail great, the Americano. This version substitutes Campari with Aperol, another liqueur from the same Italian manufacturer which only recently has become widely available on our shores but which I understand has been delighting Europeans en masse since some time not long after Benito Mussolini was given his eternal walking papers.

Aperol is something like a kinder and gentler lower alcohol variation on the super-sweet and super-bitter one-two punch of Campari. While I love it’s more potent cousin, Aperol is, on its own, a drink with just enough bitterness to underline its delightful sweetness.  Using it in an Americano turns into a super refreshing beverage that’s as user-friendly as anything, but just complex enough, I think, to placate a not-too hardbitten cocktail snob. It’s worth a little labor, but making this drink is about as easy as drinking it.

The Aperol Americano

1 ounce Aperol
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Club soda or seltzer water
Orange slice (highly desirable garnish)

Add the Aperol and vermouth to an old fashioned glass with plenty of ice in it and maybe an orange slice or chunk. Top off with soda. Now here’s the difficult part — stir. You might consider toasting the hard working members of organized labor who helped you get that weekend you’re currently enjoying so much.

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When I wrote about the Americano just slightly under a year ago, I described it as “a perfect drink for lightweights” despite the fact that I also noted it’s the first drink ordered by none other than James Bond in none other than the first James Bond novel, “Casino Royale.” Considering that lower alcohol content of Aperol vis-à-vis Campari, I guess this would be an even more perfect beverage for lightweights.

If that’s a little too perfect for you, it’s perfectly acceptable to do what I did and increase the Aperol and vermouth to 1 1/2 ounces each and make the drink in a somewhat larger Tom Collins/highball glass. It’s way good and it still won’t remove you from the workforce.

  

Friday Video – Gangnam Style

This is just hilarious.

  

The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad”)

You may or may not know this, but…Jonathan Banks is basically just as awesome as the character he plays on “Breaking Bad.” True story. I know this to be true because he proved it handily when he gave my daughter the chance to interview him in the midst of an interview he and I were doing for the Onion AV Club.

Funnily enough, though, while he and I clearly built a bit of a bond as a result of his conversation with myself and my daughter, we’d never actually met until earlier this month, when he attended the Television Critics Association Awards with some of his fellow “Breaking Bad” cast and crew members. I was giddy when I spotted him at the event, and I strolled over and said, “You and I have never met, but you’ve chatted with my daughter…”

His jaw dropped, and he said, “Son of a bitch.” Then a smile appeared on his face, he stuck out his hand, and he said, “How are you, brother? And how’s that little girl of yours doing? Oh, man, it is so good to finally meet you. Is your wife here? I need to say ‘hello’ to her, too!”

Yep. Jonathan Banks is awesome. Indeed, he’s so awesome that, although I couldn’t imagine he wouldn’t be up for doing a quick interview in the wake of Mike’s storyline coming to a conclusion on “Breaking Bad,” I still felt obliged to go through the proper channels to chat with him. As such, I sent a formal request to his manager, even as I admitted, “I realize there’s a pretty strong chance that he’s just going to say, ‘Well, if he knows how to get in touch with me, then tell him to get in touch with me, for chrissakes, but even so.”

Within 24 hours, I had a direct email from Mr. Banks, simply saying, “Call anytime.” And when I asked if he had a preferred time, explaining that I’d have an empty house from 8:30 AM EST onward because of my wife and daughter heading out to get their hair done, he said to call him at 8:30 AM EST…which was a little surprising, given that I knew he lived in California, but damned if he didn’t answer the phone right away.

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Weekly Web Series Review: Sex House

Few things are more ripe for satire than reality television, especially of the competitive variety seen on shows like “Survivor” and “The Bachelor,” and The Onion has boiled the format down to its essence with the web series “Sex House.” Combining the strangers living together format of MTV’s “The Real World,” on which all subsequent reality TV shows can be blamed, with the competitive dating games of so many other trash TV staples, “Sex House” skewers the artificiality and coercion involved in creating so-called “reality” programming.

The series focuses on six strangers brought together in the seemingly posh house for the sole purpose of having sex with one another. Each of them is a conveniently pegged type: Jay (Boyd Harris) is described as a “bro,” a “trim-seeker” and a “sex lover,” and his personality would not be out of place on “Jersey Shore”; Jay’s obvious female counterpart, Tara (Ashley Lobo), is a “sorority princess,” “proud skank” and “maneater”; Erin (Fiona Robert), an 18-year-old virgin, is “naive,” “clueless” “jailbait,” while Alex (Lea Pascal) is an “alt-punk” “polysexual princess”; Derek (Chris Boykin) is the show’s only gay guy, so he is described as a “sexually promiscuous” “flamboyant fireball,” but the show’s real wild card is Frank (Jesse Dabson), a 45-year-old “big daddy” who won a Tombstone pizza contest to get on the show.

The first few episodes progress as might be expected, with the desperate Alex trying to have sex with anyone and everyone, while Jay admits that “Tara’s pretty slutty, I get it,” though he is more interested in deflowering Erin, who is “totally smokin’. I’m like, ‘I’m tryin’ to have sex with that!’” The gang plays a disastrous game of “Sexy Truth or Sexy Dare” and receives pole dancing instructions in the third episode, “Get on That Pole!” Meanwhile, the males are given some “bro lessons” by Danny Vullmer (Chris Meister), a hacky comedian who makes dated references to Urkel, En Vogue and Roseanne Barr. Things get more and more disturbing after that, as “Erin Bares It All” in the fourth episode with a shocking announcement that changes everything, and the show’s participants begin to revolt against its creators, including the “asexual” and very creepy host (Chris Agos).

In its most recent episodes, “Sex House” has gradually become more like a horror film, which only makes it funnier, beginning with the disgusting “Banana Sex Olympics” in episode 5 and continuing with “Dr. Sex” in episode 6. By the most recent episode, “Sex in a Bottle,” things are looking decidedly grim for the malnourished prisoners of Sex House, and the preview for episode 8 (which goes live today) makes it clear that it’s only going to get worse. New episodes go live every Thursday on The Onion’s YouTube channel.

  

HP Previews Three New Touchscreen Laptops

Hewlett-Packard (HP) previewed a number of exciting new products on the evening of Tuesday, August 27, most of which will be available in December of this year or January of next year. Unfortunately, there is a non-disclosure agreement in place until Thursday, September 20, for many of these products, so tune in on that day to find out more. For now, though, let’s take a look at three impressive new laptops offered by HP.

The HP Spectre TouchSmart Ultrabook is a sleek, stylish, 4.77 pound notebook with a 15.6-inch screen featuring edge-to-edge glass. It is a multitouch touchscreen device that also features a fully functioning keyboard and a full array of ports, including Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and HDMI. It is also HP’s first notebook to feature Intel Thunderbolt technology, a new technology similar to FireWire, but not based on it. Also used by Apple, Intel Thunderbolt allows for high-speed connectivity and daisy chaining of multiple devices. The slightly smaller HP ENVY TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 features a 14-inch multitouch HD display with a backlit keyboard and a subwoofer featuring Beats Audio. It delivers up to eight hours of battery life and, like the Spectre Ultrabook, is expected to be available in the United States in December, with a starting price of $1,399.

The HP ENVY x2 takes the touchscreen and keyboard synergy of these devices to a whole new level. The ENVY x2 is a tablet and a laptop at the same time, with a detachable 11.6-inch diagonal HD touch display featuring IPS technology. It has a sleek aluminum finish and an innovative hinge system with magnets that smoothly guide the tablet portion into place with the keyboard, which, when opened, wedges up from the table or other surface on which it rests, providing a more convenient angle for typing. The ENVY x2 features Beats Audio, NFC technology and an optional stylus, as well as two different types of cameras for its two different operational modes: an HD webcam on the front and an 8.0 megapixel camera on the back. It is also expected to be available in December.

With these and other devices previewed recently, HP continues to move in the direction of thinner, lighter laptops without sacrificing its many innovative features. Don’t forget to check back with us on September 20 to see what other exciting new products HP has in store.