Tag Archives: Blog Like Crazy

How To Read A Cocktail Recipe

Outside of writing, tutoring, and working at My Sister’s Closet at the YWCA, I teach bartending classes every quarter at the Homewood Library. Sharing my knowledge from bartending and writing research is one of the most fun ways to blend the two vocations together.

For every class, I batch the cocktails that attendees drinks, then demonstrate how to mix each cocktail on its own. All of the juices and syrups are made before the class begins. When I talk through making the cocktail, it looks easy. But without hundreds of hours of practice, many of the movements and practices probably don’t feel natural. That’s OK.

Next time you want to make a cocktail at home, keep a few things in mind to make the outcome more delicious. If you’re so inclined, you can apply these tips to the recipes in my book that’s due to come out in December.

  1. Be confident. Everybody looks silly shaking cocktails. Do it with confidence, and you’ll look more the part of the badass bartender.
  2. Avoid ingredients with artificial ingredients. Store bought syrups and juices
  3. Be precise. Use jiggers or other measuring devices. Yes, many bartenders don’t, but if they’re making craft cocktails, they’ve had a lot of training. At home, 1/8 ounce too much or too little of an ingredient can throw a drink way out of whack. Use the dang jigger.
  4. Read into instructions. “Shake vigorously” usually means to shake a cocktail for 10-20 seconds, 10 for pellet or chip ice, and 20 for huge cubes. Same goes for “stir vigorously.”

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New focus for Blog Like Crazy

And now, for something completely different. 

Y’all have probably noticed that I haven’t posted since Tuesday. The election results and subsequent wave of hate crimes, hate speech, and general bullshit have left me with a lot of deep grief.
Here’s the thing. As a cisgender straight white woman, I experience a goodly amount of privilege. Much has been written from this viewpoint that expresses what and how I feel. It’s not my place to do that again.

Instead, I’m going to resume Blog Like Crazy for a different purpose: To highlight organizations working to preserve the rights of People of Color, LGBTQ+, women, people with disabilities, and all Othered communities. To be a signal boost for writers of color. To provide resources on how to be an ally. Because it’s up to us, White people, to LEARN how to be allies. It’s not on these communities to teach us.

If you don’t think there’s a problem, unfollow me. If you believe that the reaction to this election is the same as the other side’s to 2008, these posts are not for you. I’m not here to argue, I’m here to provide resources. Love trumps hate. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has. 

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Vote-y McVoteface

voteI get really, really excited about voting. In fact, Ed Bowser wrote an article four years ago about how stoked I get to go to the polls. Spoiler: it’s a lot.

This year, it’s more important than ever. Today, I’m not writing to convince you to vote for my candidate. I’m not rehashing my arguments about our current third party options. Nope. Today’s not the day for that.

Today is the day to get your butt to your polling place and vote. If you want to write in the Glow Cloud or Mickey Mouse for president, be my guest. But aside from the presidential race, 469 seats of the current do-nothing Congress are up for re-election. Many state and local officials are on the ballot.

Vote. Vote for people who have been purposefully disenfranchised, even this year. Vote to protect your rights and the rights of those you love, however you feel that’s best accomplished. Don’t boo, vote. Don’t kvetch, vote. Today of all days, don’t stay home. Vote.

This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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6 Articles I Barely Shared On Social Media

home-is-where-the-dogs-are-2As both a deeply private person and a writer trying to build her portfolio, I’ve written a lot of pieces that I didn’t share when they came out. Though I was proud of many of them, they weren’t immediately available online and I forgot or the topics were personal enough that I could risk offending someone or there was some sort of error (from me or the editor) that overshadowed the awesomeness of the piece.

Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, most of those errors have been fixed after the fact, but it was far enough after publication that I forgot to publicize the piece. Yikes. Anyhow, here’s a short and strange look into my portfolio.

  1. When “My $5,000 Wedding Budget” was published on Debt.com, we had gone a few hundred dollars over budget. I also don’t like to admit that wedding planning triggered panic attacks, or that I think the modern obsession with weddings can turn the celebration into a pageant and that icks me out.
  2. I profiled winemaker Randall Grahm for VinePair, and forgot to send the article to him for several weeks. He’s an odd but interesting bird, and I got to learn about viticulture. Wine is cool.
  3. This article on the geeky side of clarification in cocktails for Tales of the Cocktail came out a couple weeks after the third death in our family in ten weeks. Big, huge, sloppy thanks to the editors for their flexibility and generosity. I was too shellshocked to do anything other than read over it and file it away for later.
  4. Sometimes I write about agriculture. FarmLife magazine is super cool, but the full issues don’t go online for a bit. My first feature for them focused on a pair of brothers farming up in Quebec.
  5. For the first few months of the year, my main coping mechanism was compartmentalization. Though many of y’all may not believe it, I wrote an article about the history of the Cosmopolitan for mental_floss.
  6. People get real snarky about recommendations for starting a home bar. Really, people get snarky over booze recommendations in general because they’re based on opinion. There’s no hard and fast rules, guys, mmkay? Drink what you like. Here’s my take for mental_floss.

This post topic was inspired by the suggestion to blog about 5 things you know. This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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2016, in a nutshell

home-is-where-the-dogs-areAs promised on Nov. 1, I’m going to use #bloglikecrazy to get a bit more personal on the Internet. But there’s less than two months left in 2016, and it’s time to face the music: This year was pretty shitty. There were some high points and a good bit of travel, but a lot of the milestones were negative. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time on the couch with Netflix instead of socializing because I couldn’t bring myself to leave my blanket burrito.

Though I’ve nabbed three bylines in new-to-me national publications (and have one more coming), I’ve been seriously struggling financially with writing. Most online writing pays less than $500 per article, and the hours involved in researching and writing render the hourly rate less than ideal. Include time spent pitching and emailing, and the stats are downright grim. In addition to articles, I almost write copy for one corporate client, but the gig isn’t steady.

Now, to the really tough stuff. In the first few months of the year, three family members passed away and we moved another into an assisted living facility, all in the span of ten weeks. All this happened before our first anniversary. Though none of them were completely unexpected, it was/is completely overwhelming. I worked through the first two deaths, but took almost a month off to try to keep our lives even marginally functioning. For several months, we were splitting our time between Birmingham and Guntersville. Thank goodness the Bears don’t get carsick.

On to the positive: at the beginning of the year, Adam was offered a job with a local law firm (YAY!!!). I traveled a lot, and although it threw a lot of parts of my life out of sync, it also provided me a way to temporarily distance myself from the tough stuff. And we bought a house tucked away in a cute little neighborhood in Homewood. It’s about twice as big as our shoebox apartment was, but it’s a haven. It has a decent-sized back yard, which the Bears love, and lots of sticks and chipmunks for them to chase.

In the middle of all that, I dropped off the face of the Earth. Social media, blogging, social interactions: all of it was too much to face. Several of the articles I wrote during that time haven’t made it onto social media. I simply haven’t had the energy or motivation to do anything but hide from the world. When a publisher approached me about writing a book back in August, I jumped on it to have Something Important To Do. And to see my name on a book, of course. It was overwhelming, and I lost myself in it for six weeks.

If I’m being honest with the Internet, I haven’t processed most of the changes from early 2016. To keep going, I’ve addressed the issues with a large(r than usual) dose of inappropriate humor, but that’s a mask. I want to start back with therapy soon, even though I don’t feel like I’m ready to face up to that much loss and anger and vulnerability. But that’s life, in some ways. No way forward but through.

This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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Whiskey Trail: Day Three

Charles with one of their fermenters

Charles with one of Woodford’s fermenters

Day three included visits to Woodford Reserve and Wild Turkey. Out of all the distilleries we visited, these were the two that were least familiar to me. My introduction to American whiskey was through Jack and Cokes or whiskey and ginger ale highballs. Woodford wasn’t as well known within my college circles, and if we were going to buy whiskey, it would probably be Beam or Jack.

One of the coolest parts of each tour was their master distiller. At Woodford, Chris Morris showed us around and answered my (many) questions about booze, history, classifications, and boozy science. Outside of the nerdery, the campus was gorgeous. Theirs is the oldest working bourbon distillery in the country. It’s beautiful, and holds the distinction of being a National Historic Landmark.

Jimmy Russell is awesome.

Jimmy Russell is awesome.

The coolest part of visiting Wild Turkey was getting to hear from Jimmy Russell. He’s been making whiskey there for 60 years (!!!) and knows or knew every important player in the bourbon game. In fact, he’s been making bourbon for ten years longer than bourbon was legally required to be made within the U.S.

He’s also friendly. When he found out I was from Alabama, he said, “Well, War Eagles!” We were able to get him into storytelling mode, and he told anecdotes about his friends, bourbon and changes in legislation. He’s a living part of bourbon history, and I want to collect his stories.

The third day was also where the journalists started hanging out and talking less cautiously. After dinner, we came back and spent time sipping Seelbach Cocktails in the Seelbach Hotel bar. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to tour the Rathskeller speakeasy area due to time constraints.

I also realized on this day (Wednesday) that I wanted to come back. The science and history and picky details of whiskey production are amazingly interesting, and I want to learn as much as I can about them. There’s only so much you can glean from online sources, and I want more. I’ll for sure be back.

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Whiskey Trail: Day Two

Day two was our Suntory-Beam visit.* We started the day by sleepily boarding the bus at 7:30 a.m. After an uneventful (and half-asleep) drive, we reached Jim Beam. This visit was one of the most interactive tours we experienced, and started out with guests getting the chance to scoop grains into the mash cooker.

Probably the coolest part of the tour was being shown around by Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s seventh generation master distiller. He’s a character, to say the least. When your dad is Booker Noe, I think being colorful is pretty much an expectation. His stories…man, his stories. I could tell you, but it’d undermine some of the pitches I have placed or sent.

From there, we headed to the Maker’s Mark Distillery. It was rustic, picturesque and absolutely gorgeous. It’s the type of place where you wouldn’t be surprised to see a man in a frock coat running to catch a well-trimmed buggy.

And did I mention that part of the aging warehouse has a ceiling designed and created by Dale Chihuly? It’s stunning. We exited through the gift shop and it was time to depart.

One of the things that was most interesting to me was that both of these distilleries allowed visitors more access to unfinished bottles. At Jim Beam, they allowed us to rinse our own Knob Creek bottles and then to fingerprint the wax when it was still warm. At Maker’s, the gift shop has the option that allows you to dip a bottle in their red wax and let it drip down the sides.

Then it was back to the bus for the ride to Louisville. We ate out, and then caught drinks at the Seelbach Bar in the lobby of our hotel, the Seelbach Hotel. It’s. Gorgeous.

Tomorrow, we visit Woodford and Wild Turkey. I’m looking forward to visiting both, and will be sure to take enough notes to recap the day.

*Suntory bought/merged with Jim Beam (which owns Maker’s Mark) in May.

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