June 2008

So, while I was busy getting married, it seems that my favorite theater company in the Twin Cities has been uprooted. Facing a hefty debt, the Jeune Lune has decided to sell their space and break up, after thirty years.

My favorite production by the Jeune Lune was their Medea from 2002. Like many of their productions, it was the stage pictures that made this stand out in my memory. From the moment I walked into the space, there was the feeling that things were heightened, that things would be played on a more grand level. The stage was spartan, with several sand pits built into the floor, but the entire east wall had been converted into a small canopy. The trees stretched almost to the top of the enormous warehouse in which the company worked. The stage, and the feeling of its space, dwarfed the seating. From the moment you sat down, you did not feel that you were looking down into a tiny snapshot of some world, played by actors for your amusement, but into a larger and grander world than your life.

When you have that impression, and the acting holds up, as it almost always did at the Jeune Lune, the emotional stakes are far greater. You risk more just by going to the show than you thought possible.

The Jeune Lune always risked more than I thought was possible, or at least more than I thought they should. When talking to Colin, I would often lament that I thought they were making mistakes with their choice of shows, but really I was glad they were willing to do it. I may not have liked their adaptation of Amerika much, but I was glad they went for it. Too much of what I hear about it middle of the road crap like the Guthrie’s production of Third, which was so bland as to make me wish I had not paid with a gift certificate, so I could ask for my money back.

Hopefully it isn’t long before they regroup. Hopefully people will be able to watch Steve Epp cough again soon. Several of my friends and I share a joke about going to shows just to watch him cough. I can’t really explain it, but it is an amazing little gesture when he does it.

It was good that they closed out with Fishtank, which was one of my favorite shows of the past several years and a wonderful experience to behold. It is also more than a little bittersweet, as it enforces the impression of what Minneapolis has lost right now.


Mixology MondayMixlogy Monday this week is over at the Scofflaw’s Den, and it’s bourbon. Bless their booze soaked hearts.

In the rich heritage of American drinking, bourbon stands tall. While many a modern man goes to bars and does shots of vodka, our cultural heroes drink whisky, and when most Americans think of whisky, it is bourbon they are thinking of. “Brownest of the brown liquors,” says Lionel Hutz. Rye may have dominated the northern palate, but when it failed to bounce back after prohibition, bourbon was ready to step in with its rich vanilla and oak flavors. So powerful is its image that when politicians need to show they’ve got the stones to lead, their handlers stick them with a shot of the stuff, tell them to drink it down and smile for the cameras.

Q: What could possibly make bourbon more manly?

A: Raw egg.


Ian has been bothering me to post more, but since I haven’t tried anything new in the cocktail area recently I’ve been bad about that. (In case anyone is wondering: gin is still excellent.)

That said, there’s always links to things out there on the internet and, in this case, apparently on television as well. Here you go – I am, as the title suggests, not sure how to react to this. On the one hand, it really does appear to exist. But there’s always the chance that this isn’t true, and all that’s happening here is that my brain has started misfiring in dramatic and surprising ways. If it’s the former – enjoy!


Update!   Because I can’t leave things like this alone I started googling “Dog Wedding” and apparently this is, yeah, kind of a thing people do.  A lot of the results – like, I hope, this one and, more straightforwardly, this one – are just about how to include dogs in weddings (ring bearers and the like).

But I also found this how to page on, well, exactly what it sounds like: How To Host A Dog Wedding, which has to be one of the more amazing how-to guides out there.  Highlights include “Set up a dog sized wedding place. The garage will work…” and, (in the “Tips” category) “Don’t go too overboard.”

And, best of all, right in the middle of these search results was this useful page.

Summer has come to Minneapolis. Now that our backyards are free for use again, and the produce is starting to look a little less depressing, I start to get the feeling for fresh crisp tasting drinks. A good Tom Collins is always nice, but the other night I was feeling like something a little less rote. Enter the Self-Starter.

I was flipping through my copy of the Savoy Cocktail book, and stumbled upon this little gem: gin, lillet blanc, apricot brandy, and a little absinthe. I have been looking for excuses to use some apricot brandy since I got the bottle, but every time I found a recipe with it and tried it, I was disappointed. Trader Tiki, in last month’s Mixology Monday, mentioned that St. Germain wasn’t something that he could easily get a handle on mixing with. Apricot brandy is in that same space for me. It just never seems to do what I expect it to in a cocktail. So, after a little while I gave up.

Self-Starter Cocktail

1/2 Gin
3/8 Lillet Blanc
1/4 Apricot Brandy
2 Dashes Absinthe

Shake and strain.

Now, with the actual sizes not given, I found myself going a little light on the absinthe. I think that was probably wise. Absinthe is so strong that it takes over a drink in no time. With just one dash worth, against a very large drink mixed as 2 oz., 1.5 oz, and .5 oz, it slid right in with the lillet and gin, sneaking out at different points in the drink, and generally acting mischievous. The apricot kept things from tasting too dry, but it wasn’t very aggressive. It was there, but far in the background. I don’t have a very good apricot brandy, so it might have more backbone when others mix it. I also stirred the drink, as there was not enough absinthe to make it cloudy, and it worked wonderfully. I’d say ignore the Savoy on that front.

Having tried it, I thought it was too good to have been missed, someone else must have been blogging about this cocktail, and I was right. Bunnyhugs used it for Raiders of the Lost Cocktail in February. It’s a slightly different formulation, which I will have to check out.