Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A toast to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s fascinating culture, starting with liqueurs of the region…

Grape brandy (most widely known by the Italian word ‘grappa’) contains between 40% and 60% alcohol (80 to 120 proof). It is made from the distillation of pomace (the residue of grapes, stems and seeds) leftover from the wine making season.

Usually served as a strong after-dinner digestive, in Bosnia it is also presented as a playful aperitif, often infused with figs, apples, peaches, quinces, herbs, honey, sour cherries and walnuts.

Rakija is a liquor similar to brandy made by distillating fermented fruits, and considered to be the national drink among some of the South Slavic peoples: including Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The most common form of rakija in Bosnia is
šljivovica, a strong, colorless distilled fermented plum juice (sometimes called plum brandy in English). Originated in the Balkan Peninsula; the name derives from the word for plum, šljiva or sliva.

Travarica infuses distilled grape liqueur with carefully chosen herbs grown in rough Dalmatian countryside, and is particularly good for stomach disorders. (I had this as an aperitif, last night. It was a wonderful prelude to a meal of fish soup and grilled squid.)

Viljamovka is a Williams pear brandy (which was lovely after dessert of yogurt gnocchi, resembling panna cotta, with strawberries).

Orahovaca is infused with walnuts, and
Medovina is a mead, with lip-smaking honey tones.

If you are interested in some geographic, political and social information about Bosnia / Herzegovina, and the surrounding areas, here is some I've pulled together:

Bosnia / Herzegovina is home to three prominent religions: Islam, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism. It is the one of the few cities in the world, aside from Jerusalem, which boasts a Catholic cathedral, an Orthodox church and a mosque on the same square.

Bosnia is located in South Eastern Europe, also referred to as the "Balkan Peninsula" because the area is surrounded by water on three sides: the Black, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean and Marmara seas.

The term "Balkan" comes from the mountain range in Bulgaria (from a Turkish word meaning "a chain of wooded mountains"). Perennially on the edge of great empires, its history is dominated by wars, rebellions, invasions and clashes between empires, from Roman times, to the latter-day Yugoslav wars.

This region was home to Greeks, Illyrians, Paeonians and other ancient groups. Later the Roman Empire conquered most of the region. During the Middle Ages, it became the stage for a series of wars between the Byzantine, Bulgarian and Serbian Empires. By the end of the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire became the controlling force in the region. In the past 550 years, because of the frequent Ottoman wars, it has been the least developed part of Europe.

In 1914, the First World War was sparked by the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, in Sarajevo (Bosnia's capital). After WW2, the Soviet Union played a very important role in the Balkans. During the Cold War, most of the countries in the area were ruled by Soviet-supported communist governments.

However, despite being under communist rule, in 1948 Yugoslavia fell out with the Soviet Union. Led by marshal Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980) it sought closer relations with the West.

In the 1990's, the region was gravely affected by armed conflict in the former Yugoslav republics, resulting in intervention by NATO forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia. The status of Kosovo and ethnic Albanians is still mostly unresolved.

The countries in South Eastern Europe have friendly relations with the US and have expressed a desire to join the European Union. Slovenia and Cyprus joined in 2004. Bulgaria and Romania will become members in 2007. In 2005, negotiations began with Croatia and Turkey and Macedonia. As of 2004, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia are also members of NATO.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Liquid Muse, Abroad

Bosnia, Day One

We left DC Satruday evening and landed at 8am, Sunday, in Munich. With a 3-hour layover before us, there was nothing to do but shop duty free (got cheap lipstick and booze). Then, it was time to sample a German beer for The Liquid Muse.

By 8:45am we were enjoying Paulaner Weizenbier (wheat beer) and a couple of weiswurst (white sausage). Mmm, delicious. Clearly the breakfast of champions! Weizen beers tend to be 'cloudy' in appearance. I particularly like them because they taste a bit sweet.

By 1:30pm, we landed in Sarajevo. Our taxi driver, from the airport to our hotel, pointed out thumbprints of war. Grenades, shrapnel and bullets have left chunky holes in the sides of apartment buildings. (We read, in our tourbook, that the older generation is fond of talking about the war, only a decade ago, while the younger crowd would rather focus on the future. So far, we have found this to be true.)

After a four-hour nap, it was time to explore. We wandered along cobblestone streets. The evening was lovely, warm and the sun had yet to set. Dehydrated from the flight, it was time to wet our whistles.

I have yet to see any Bosnian ‘cocktails’ though we did sample Sarajevo Pivo in the main square, surrounded by green hills. The pivo (beer) was very light, reminding me of a slightly more flavorful Budweiser. After that we wandered cafe-lined streets, filled with people drinking coffees, eating ice-creams, smoking cigarettes and chatting.

I've noted that though young people here don’t have a lot of money with which to indulge in designer labels, they do have style. Colorful scarves, mixing of retro T-shirts with blazers, creative hair styles and accessories give Bosnian hipsters some flare. At first I was delighted by the zillions of boutiques! However, while food and drink are significantly cheaper than Western Europe, clothing is not.

Our tummies rumbling, we ducked into a candlelit courtyard, surrounded by colorful piles of rugs, for sale. We had a light dinner featuring specialties of the region. I had cabbage leaves stuffed with meat, and topped with a kind of sour cream, and my husband, Jason, had a chicken and vegetable dish. (I will make an effort to write down the names next time. We were still half-asleep!) We yearned to sample more regional libations but apparently, we had stumbled into one of the few actual restaurants that does not serve alcohol, in accordance with Muslim law. This area is famous for its many springs, so we indulged in mineral water instead of wine.

On our way back to the hotel, we sampled one of those delicious ice-cream cones, then stopped in a bar for an after-dinner drink. I asked for Campari but got Bacardi, straight up. Not what I asked for but too much effort to explain. By the time we got back to the hotel, our heads hit the pillows, and we slept for 10 hours.

I hope to get my hands on a camera. (I oh-so-cleverly left my camera battery charging in our apartment… in Washington!)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sandia means watermelon, in Spanish. Mayo means May. There are only 7 days left in the month... Need I say more?

Sandia de Mayo Margarita
(Recipe courtesy of Zengo)

1.5 oz Don Julio Blanco Tequila
1 oz Sour Mix
1 oz fresh Watermelon Puree
0.5 oz Midori

Combine all ingredients and shake over ice. Pour into a rocks glass. Add the Midori so that it settles out at the bottom and it shows the red and green layers. Garnish with a thin slice of watermelon.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

California versus Burgundy

The Liquid Muse attended an enchanting wine tasting at a palatial estate in Pasadena. After sampling passed hors d’oeuvres and sipping a 2003 Domain Bouchard Pere et Fils “Montagny” Premier Cru Blanc in the garden, we sat down to a five-course meal featuring ten significant wines.

With each plate, we sampled two wines - on the left, a Californian and on the right, a French. We compared the wines before food, and with food. It was interesting for me to note that by-and-large, I personally preferred more of the California wines on their own (I found them more flavorful) while the French ones smoothly complemented the cuisine.

(By the way, for Sipsters who enjoy entertaining, this is a really fun idea for a dinner party! The wines we tried at this event were pretty heady and a few were quite difficult to get hold of… However, if you’re on a budget, simply pick a theme, ask each guest to bring a bottle– most importantly –sample small amounts. For the sake of the drive home, we tried one-ounce pours. It was plenty to get a good taste, without losing sobriety!)

Below is the menu, for reference. I hope this provides a little inspiration…

First Course: Spring Pea flan with wild mushrooms
*2003 Williams Selyam “Heintz Vineyard” Chardonnay
2003 Domain Bouchard Pere et Fils “Mersault Les Genevrieres” Premier Cru, Blanc

Second Course: Bay Leaf Roasted Barramundi (Australian white fish)
2003 Paul Hobbs “Cuvee Augustina, Richard Dinner Vineyard” Chardonnay
2003 Domain William Fevre “Les Clos” Chablis Gran Cru, Blanc

Third Course: Seared Foie Gras witih Vanilla Roasted Pineapple
2003 Aubert “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
2003 Domain Bouchard Pere et Fils “Corton Charlemagne” Grand Cru, Blanc

Fourth Course: Braised Short Ribs Bourgogne
*2003 Williams Selyem “Rochioli Riverblock” Pinot Noir, Russian River
2003 Domain Bouchard Pere et Fils “Volnay Caillerets-Ancienne Cuvee Carnot” Rouge

Fifth Course: Pomegranate and Herb de Provence Marinated Rack of Lamb
*2003 Sea Smoke “Ten” Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Valley
*2003 Domain Bouchard Pere et Fils “Le Corton” Grand Cru Rouge

* indicates the wines I particularly loved

Cuisine prepared by Alexandra and Sean Sheridan, wine selections by Michael Farwell

The dinner was to introduce the opening of Vintage Wine Bistro, as of August: 70 North Raymond Avenue; Pasadena California, however Vertical Wine Bistro is what is currently in that spot...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Swinging Sipster!

Hailed as one of the “top ten recipes” published in past year, Chef Aulie Bunyarataphan’s Ginger-Lemon Iced Tea immediately became her customers’ drink of choice at both of her Washington, DC area restaurants.

“In Thailand, there is a popular beverage made out of boiled ginger, that most people here find too strong,” said Chef Aulie. “Adding the lemon and tea softens and complements the ginger flavor very well.” By adding liquor, the Ginger-Lemon Tea becomes a tempting and tasty libation.

Bangkok Swing
(created by Aulie Bunyarataphan of Bangkok Joes, Washington DC)

Start by making Ginger-Lemon Iced Tea:
3 black or Lipton Teabags
1 medium size fresh ginger root, crushed and cut into chunks (about ¾ cup)
8 cups water
1 cups sugar
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Lemon wedges and/or slices fresh ginger root for garnish

Bring the water, tea bags and ginger to a gentle boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add sugar and lemon juice, stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and strain into bowl or pitcher.
(Yields: Approximately 8 cups)

Cover and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 2 to 3 hours. Then, fill tall glasses with ice and add:

2 oz. Absolute Citron
2 oz. Southern Comfort
Fill to the top with Ginger-Lemon Iced Tea
Garnish with a lemon wedge and slice of fresh ginger.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Celebrity Sips

Bananarama's Drama

We haven’t heard much about Bananarama stateside, in nearly a decade, but don’t think that means they dropped out of the game! In 2005, Bananarama had two #1 dance hits in Europe, and their new album, Drama, is poised to make its mark on American airwaves.

The legendary punk-pop 80’s girl band has a reputation for naughtiness and a ‘fuck-the-rules’ attitude which, of course, makes them all the more delightful. To date, Bananarama boasts more hits than the Spice Girls, more albums sold than Atomic Kitten and an induction into the Guiness Book of Records as the most popular girl group since The Supremes.

Last Friday, May 19, The Liquid Muse had the pleasure of meeting up with Sara and Keren of Bananarama, in Los Angeles. (Siobhan has been out of the picture since the 90’s). The ladies were caught up in a bi-coastal whirlwind, promoting their CD featuring a collection of Ibiza-esque dance tracks.

During our interview, I asked the ladies about their favorite beverages (to share, of course, with the curious Liquid Muse community). I don’t know why I expected fruity concoctions or fancy French champagne. Bananarama is far too seasoned to be impressed with ‘what’s hot now.’ In fact, being trendsetters is what makes them classic. And, their drinks are classicly British, too.

Here are a few things I learned:

Favorite drinks? Gin and Tonic or “anything vodka-based, like a Sea Breeze”

Favorite bars in London? Sutton House, Groucho, Homehouse

Favorite way to start the day? A cup of tea and a fag.

How do they compare 80’s music with pop bands today? “Today, everyone is swamped by reality TV, and the bands are more manufactured. It’s understandable that they take the opportunities where they get them but they all end up singing songs by the same writers. Pop music has lost the individuality that the 80’s had.”

With Drama released, last week, in the US, coinciding with their avalanche of radio and TV interviews, and CD signings in NY and LA, Bananarama is back!

(And, the CD is a super summer must-have. The electro, trance and disco vibes in shakin' songs such as "Move in My Direction" and "Look on the Floor" will be a staple in your car, ipod or beach house cabana. The tunes are damn catchy - don't say I didn't warn you...)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Limoncello is a refreshing Italian lemon liqueur, wonderful for summer entertaining.

A Lemoncello cocktail is a lovely way to end the day and transition into a relaxing evening of 'al fresco' dining. Or, sipping a small glass to Lemoncello, at the end of a meal, is a tasty 'digestif.'

The recipe below, using Caravella Limoncello, just screams sweet relief on a hot, summer afternoon!

Caravella Citrus Tea-Ni
2 cups water
2 Madagascar vanilla rooibos tea bags
1 tsp. candied ginger
1/2 oz. Caravella Limoncello
1 oz. orange-flavored rum
Crushed ice

Brew tea using two tea bags and 2 cups boiling water. While hot, pour tea into a container, add ginger. Let infuse for at least one hour. Add rum, limoncello, shake with ice and strain nto a martini glass.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sharing a little Secreto...

Deep in the soil of Chile's Viu Manent Winery, creativity and nature come together. The Spanish word for 'secret,’ Secreto is a blend, created by Viu Manent's winemaking team, Grant Phelps, Juan Pablo Lecaros and consultant, Aurelio Montes.

Stylistically, these wines are most strongly influenced by the grape variety on the label, however there will always be the influence - in lesser proportions - of other unnamed grapes varieties.

I tasted this Malbec and fell immediately in love with it. My tastebuds tingled with its smooth, fruity, deliciously drinkable flavor – with or without food.

This is one Secreto I didn’t think was fair to keep to myself…

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Feng Shui for Love?

According to its creators, at Ten Penh, a contemporary Asian restaurant in Washington DC, the Feng Shui cocktail is balanced in in and yang harmony. Following the drink is a fun twist on 'Feng Shui' dating... why not try them both?

Feng Shui
1.5 ounces Ketel One
1 ounce Inniskillin Ice Wine

Shake with ice and serve up. Garnish with frozen grapes.

Feng Shui Sparks romance and travel trend in US
written by Judy Seckler, AP

Some lonely Americans are eschewing Internet dating and instead putting their faith in feng shui in a bid to find their romantic soul mates.

It is not a common sight yet to see feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of geomancy, advertised as a romance enhancer, but it may not be long before it becomes an accepted part of dating in big cities where singles frequently battle to find love, devoted practitioners say.

People like Los Angeles advertising art director Alicia Schiefer insist that feng shui works to improve one's romantic life. "It's worth it to do it," she said. Using the peach blossom technique in feng shui, she entered into what she says was a very satisfying long-term relationship.

"Not only will you be able to improve your surroundings to attract romance, but you can increase your personal energy that will make you feel more energized and attractive," according to Sugita's E-book "The Feng Shui Equation."

The formula for stirring up romantic energy is simple enough. Fresh flowers are placed in water in a wide-necked vase. The color of the flower and the vase must be the same and can be determined by checking a person's birth date on a feng shui chart or by having a reading done.

Feng shui practitioners point out that the technique does have its down side. The random personal attraction created can bring ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands back on the scene.

Meanwhile, enthusiasts of the ancient art are finding that they can increase their understanding by doing a feng shui travel tour. The 10-day tour, organized by Feng Shui Masters, takes the faithful to a series of ancient sites in China that represent feng shui's early beginnings. Locations are beautifully landscaped in accordance with feng shui principles, and special lecturers explain their significance along the way.

"A visit to the Hangzhou temple has moved people to tears," he said. "They feel so great, so very positive."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sipster Submission
(Sipster: A member of The Liquid Muse Community, to join email:

I’ve been hearing about this black vodka, Blavod, for a little while. I finally tracked it down at Bar Rouge… (and I’d love to hear where else it is available – in any city!)

Sipster, Shannon Bridget, a swizzling and sizzling bartender in Washington DC, created this unique cocktail, and was kind enough to share with The Liquid Muse Community!

Black Monday

1 1/2 oz Blavod black vodka
1 oz Raspberry Liquor
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
Fresh strawberry puree

Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Personality Profile

My sister, Amy, who lives in Paris, took our mom on a Mother’s Day trip to Mallorca, last week. They sent in a couple of drinks they enjoyed – Mallorcan Sangria and Coco Loco, which are at the bottom of this post.

Normally, I aim to do Personality Profiles on Fridays, usually beverage related. As Sunday is Mother’s Day (in the US) I decided to veer slightly off-topic, in honor of the holiday…

Mama Muse
Sylvia was born in August 1941, just outside of London, to Ruby and Victor Wilson. World War II was ravaging Europe, and Victor was a captain in the RAF (Royal Air Force). Ruby was struggling to care for 5-year old Margot and her new baby, in the midst of dire circumstances.

In 1943, Ruby received the devastating news that her husband’s plane was shot down, over Holland. About a year later, she entered a sanitarium, to be treated for Tuberculosis, and Sylvia and Margot, 3 and 7, were put into an orphanage.

Ruby, in fragile health, was in and out of hospitals throughout the coming years, and her girls lived, part time, with an estranged half-uncle and his wife, in Kent, who were paid to take in ‘orphans of the war.’

At 16 years old, Sylvia and her older sister obtained a small house in London, where they cared for their mother themselves, and Sylvia began secretarial school. They decided to take in part-time lodgers to bring in extra money.

In 1964, when Sylvia was 21, a charming French student arrived on her doorstep. Pierre Bovis had been sent to learn English, by his parents, who expected him to return and run the family real estate business in Nice, France.

Unbeknownst to them, Pierre had an ulterior motive for learning English. Impassioned by Native American culture, he planned to embark on a new life in America. Less than half a year later, he fell in love with and married Sylvia, and convinced her to join him. After a simple ceremony in London (only 6 guests in attendance) the young couple boarded a ship for America.

They sailed into the New York harbor, past the Statue of Liberty, and then took a bus to northern California. After 5 years of saving every extra penny, they lived the American Dream and began a small business called Winona Trading Post.

In 1974, they moved their small family (daughters Natalie, aged 4, and Amy, 2) to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Winona Trading Post, featuring Native American art and supplies, was in business for 35 five years. They also had a primitive art gallery for several years.

In 1983, the marriage ended. And, in 1984, Sylvia remarried a strapping Texan, named Dewey, to whom she was married until his death, nine years later.

Surprisingly, the rocky start to Sylvia life didn’t embitter her. Through her struggles, she became more compassionate. By doing without, she learned the power of generosity. She cooked turkeys for homeless shelters, she took her Girl Scout troop to sing Christmas Carols at nursing homes and she, still, bestows kindness on every living creature around her.

(And, might I add, that she has a natural flare for food, drink and entertaining

Moms deserve a toast! Happy Mothers Day!

Mallorcan Sangria

2 cups Red wine
¼ cup brandy
2 oz. Cointreau

Pour into a pitcher, and add oranges, peaches and lemons

Coco Loco

2 oz. white rum
1 oz. Coconut flavored liquor
1 oz. Milk or cream
2 tsp. sugar

Shake over ice, pour into sugar-rimmed glass, add umbrella, fruit and sparkler!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Celebrity Sips
Hard-Living Hemingway

I am a huge fan of the Bohemian writers of the 1920’s - 30’s. I read biographies from that era (particularly of the female writers - sometimes Hemingway's lovers) with vigor. Their rebellion, curiosity, restlessness, hunger for life, to-hell-with-it attitude and far-less-than-perfect humanity are qualities to which I can relate, and from whom I often find inspiration!

The life and writings of Ernest Hemingway reflect social transitions of that era and are revered for their insight, adventure and candor.

Sipster, Noah Raizman, of New York, an aficionado of “Classic Cocktails,” sent in a wonderful recipe, apparently enjoyed by Ernest Hemingway, during his time in Cuba. I am putting Noah’s drink write up, first. For those interested, my very general coverage of Ernest Hemingway’s career follows…

As per Noah’s letter to The Liquid Muse, “I just made a pitcher of Hemingway Daiquiri's for a few friends, roommates and squatters. A daiquiri is just white rum, simple syrup and lime. At La Florida, a legendary bar in Havana, they added grapefruit to their version of a daiquiri, which they blended and called a La Florida Cocktail.

Locals called the place by its diminutive, La Floridita, so the cocktail eventually became known as a La Floridita. When Hemingway was in Cuba, La Floridita was his local haunt. Hemingway, being Hemingway, didn't like sweet drinks, so he convinced the bartender (he would only allow his drinks to be made by the head bartender, Constante Ribalaigua) to make the cocktail with maraschino liqueur instead of simple syrup. This drink became known as the Hemingway Daiquiri.

The Hemmingway Daquiri
(as per Sipster, Noah Raizman)

3 oz white rum
1.5oz lime
3/4 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz maraschino liqueur
(and I will add a tsp of simple syrup, depending on how sweet the limes are, and always if I blend it)

Pour rum, lime and grapefruit juices, and simple syrup into a shaker with ice. Serve in a preferably chilled glass. Top with maraschino liqueur and garnish with a cherry.

Celebrity Profile:
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. By the time he graduated from High School, World War I raged in Europe. His desire to enlist was deferred, due to poor vision. When he heard the Red Cross was taking volunteers as ambulance drivers, however, he quickly signed up. He left his job at the local paper and sailed for Europe in May 1918.

In the short time that Hemingway worked for the Kansas City Star he learned some stylistic lessons that would later influence his fiction. The newspaper advocated short sentences, short paragraphs, active verbs, authenticity, compression, clarity and immediacy. Hemingway later said: "Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I've never forgotten them."

In 1919, at age 19, Hemingway returned home from Italy, and found Oak Park dull compared to the adventures of war. In 1920, he moved to Chicago and wrote for the Star Weekly. In 1921,he met and married his first wife, Hadley Richardson. By November of the same year Hemingway accepted an offer to work with the Toronto Daily Star, as its European corespondent.

The Hemingways arrived in Paris on December 22, 1921 where the whole of literature was being changed by the likes of Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and Ford Maddox Ford. He would not miss his chance to leave his mark, as well.

Their apartment at 74 rue Cardinal Lemoine had no running water. The bathroom was basically a closet with a slop bucket inside. Ironically, they could have afforded much better; with Hemingway's job and Hadley's trust fund their annual income was $3,000, a decent sum in the inflated economies of Europe at the time.

Hemingway rented a room at 39 Rue Descartes where he could do his writing, in peace. While in Paris, he reported extensively on Geneva Conference in April of 1922, The Greco-Turkish War in October, the Luasanne Conference and the post war convention in the Ruhr Valley in early 1923. Along with the political articles, he wrote lifestyle pieces as well, covering fishing, bullfighting, social life in Europe, skiing, bobsledding and more.

Just as Hemingway was beginning to make a name for himself as a reporter and a fledgling fiction writer, and enjoying his place in the literary social circles in Europe, the couple found out that Hadley was pregnant. The Hemingways left Paris in 1923 and moved to Toronto, where he wrote for the Toronto Daily Star. On October 10, 1923, John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway was born. By January of 1924 the young family boarded a ship, and sailed back to Paris.

From 1925 to 1929, Hemingway produced some of the most important works of 20th century fiction, including the landmark short story collection In Our Time (1925) which contained "The Big Two-Hearted River." In 1926 he came out with his first true novel, The Sun Also Rises. Following that, came Men Without Women in 1927, another book of stories including "The Killers," and "In Another Country." In 1929 he published A Farewell to Arms, arguably the finest novel to emerge from World War I. In four short years he went from being an unknown writer to being the most important writer of his generation, and perhaps the 20th century.

He divorced Hadley in 1927 and married Pauline Pfeiffer, an occasional fashion reporter for the likes of Vanity Fair and Vogue, later that year. In 1928, they left Paris for Key West, Florida where they lived for nearly twelve years.

Finding it a wonderful place to work and to play, in Florida he discovered the sport of big game fishing which would become a life-long passion and a source for much of his later writing. Hemingway loved it. "It’s the best place I’ve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms...Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks."

On June 28, 1928, Pauline gave birth to Hemingway’s second child, Patrick. And, in December of that year, Hemingway received a cable reporting his father’s suicide.

Despite the personal turmoil, Hemingway continued to work on A Farewell to Arms, published in 1929. He wouldn’t enjoy that level of critical acclaim again, for nearly a decade.

In 1931 Pauline gave birth to Gregory, the last of Hemingway’s children.

In 1932, his Spanish bullfighting dissertation, Death in the Afternoon, was published. He managed to make an encyclopedic book readable, even by those who had no real interest in the corrida. He inserts observations on Spanish culture, writers, food, people, politics, history, etc. Hemingway wrote, "It is intended as an introduction to the modern Spanish bullfight and attempts to explain that spectacle both emotionally and practically. It was written because there was no book which did this in Spanish or in English."

Before leaving to Spain, to to cover the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance, in 1937, he met a young writer named Martha Gellhorn in Key West at Sloppy Joe’s bar in Key West. The two conducted a secret affair for almost four years.

Upon returning from Spain, divorcing Pauline and marrying Martha, Hemingway moved to a large house outside Havana, Cuba, which the newly wed couple named Finca Vigia ("Lookout Farm"). Hemingway decorated it with hunting trophies from his African safari. Here, he began work on his Spanish War novel, For Whom The Bell Tolls, in 1939.

In the spring of 1944 Hemingway went to Europe to report on WW2. He headed first to London where he wrote articles about the RAF and about the war’s effects on England. While there, he was injured in a car crash, suffering a serious concussion and a gash to his head which required over 50 stitches. Martha visited him in the hospital, castigating him for being involved in a drunken auto wreck. Her cavalier reaction triggered the beginning of the end of their marriage.

While recovering, Hemingway met Mary Welsh, with whom he openly conducted a courtship in London and then in France, after the allied invasion at Normandy and the subsequent liberation of Paris. For all intents and purposes Hemingway’s third marriage was over and his fourth and final marriage to Mary had begun. Hemingway wrote, "Funny how it should take one war to start a woman in your damn heart and another to finish her. Bad luck."

In 1944, he set up camp in The Ritz Hotel and spent the next week or so drinking, carousing and celebrating his return to the city that meant so much to him as a young man.

Hemingway returned to America in March of 1946 with plans to write a great novel of the war, which never materialized.

In September of 1952 The Old Man and the Sea appeared in Life magazine, selling over 5 million copies in a flash. For the first time since For Whom The Bell Tolls in 1940 Hemingway was atop the literary heap...and making a fortune. Though Hemingway had known great success before, he never had the privilege of receiving any major literary prizes. The Old Man and the Sea changed that, winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953.
Flush with money from the Old Man and the Sea, he decided to exercise his wanderlust, returning to Europe to catch some bullfights in Spain and then to Africa later in the summer for another safari, with Mary.

In January of 1954, Hemingway and Mary boarded a small Cessna airplane to take a tour of some of east Africa’s beautiful lakes and waterfalls. The pilot hit a telegraph wire and they made a crash landing. Luckily, the group’s injuries were minor.

After a boat ride across Lake Victoria they took another flight in a de Haviland Rapide. Heading toward Uganda, the plane barely got off the ground before crashing and catching fire. Hemingway, using his head as a battering ram, broke through the main door. This accident was not as lucky.

In his biography of Hemingway, Jeffrey Meyer lists the various injuries to the writer. "His skull was fractured, two discs of his spine were cracked, his right arm and shoulder were dislocated, his liver, right kidney and spleen were ruptured, his sphincter muscle was paralyzed by compressed vertebrae on the iliac nerve, his arms, face and head were burned by the flames of the plane, his vision and hearing were impaired..." Though he survived the crashes and lived to read his own premature obituaries, his injuries cut short his life in a slow and painful way.

Despite his ailments, Hemingway and Mary traveled on to Venice one last time and then headed back to Cuba. On October 28, 1954 Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but due to his injuries was unable to attend the ceremonies in Sweden.

In 1959, Life magazine contracted with Hemingway to write a short article about the series of mano y mano bullfights between Antonio Ordonez and Louis Miguel Dominguin, two of Spain’s finest matadors. Hemingway spent the summer of 1959 traveling with the bullfighters to gather material for the article.

When he began writing the story however, it quickly grew to some 120,000 words. The magazine published the article as "The Dangerous Summer" in three installments in 1960. This was the last work that Hemingway would see published in his lifetime.

His physical deterioration soon became obvious. Photos show Hemingway looking like a man closer to eighty than one of sixty. His mood swings, exacerbated by his heavy drinking of up to a quart of liquor a day, were also taking a toll on those close to him.

During this time Hemingway worked on his memoirs, which would be published posthumously, in 1964, as A Moveable Feast, which critics praised for its tenderness, beauty and for its rare look at the expatriate lifestyle of Paris in the 1920’s.

In his last year of life, Hemingway registered at the Mayo Clinic where he underwent between 11 to 15 shock treatments. One of the sad side effects of shock therapy is the loss of memory, and for Hemingway it was a catastrophic loss. Without his memory he could no longer write, could no longer recall the facts and images he required to create his art.

Hemingway spent the first half of 1961 fighting his depression and paranoia, seeing enemies at every turn and threatening suicide on several more occasions. On the morning of July 2, 1961 Hemingway rose early, selected a shotgun from a closet in the basement, went upstairs to a spot near the entrance-way of the house and shot himself in the head. It was little more than two weeks until his 62nd birthday.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Seeing Red!

Red, a relatively new addition to St. Francis Winery of Sonoma County, has had excellent reception. Blended from Merlot, Zinfandel, Grenache and Sangiovese.

Stylish in both taste and presentation, designer Jeffrey Caldewey, came up twelve different labels for the same wine. Hmmm… any collectors out there?

Appropriately, I sampled this affordable stunner at *Bar Rouge in DC. It is smooth with deep cherry tones and spicy aromas. I look forward to buying a bottle to accompany a summer grill-out with friends!

It typically sells for less than $12 a bottle.

Photo courtesy of Mike DePinto

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sipster Submission
(sipster: a member of The Liquid Muse community. To join, email

Sipster, Kate Mazzuca, of Los Angeles says, “I luv me some sugar! This drink, called a 'Sweet Tart,' was created at a bar in Boulder, CO. It's basically a vodka sour with a splash of grenadine. No one, at any bar I've been to since, has ever heard of it-- but they are delish (and hangover inducing...)”

Sweet Tart
2 1/2 oz. vodka
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. superfine sugar
2 tsp. grenadine
1 lemon slice (for garnish)
Maraschino cherry (for garnish)

Combine vodka, lemon juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker, with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a Delmonico glass. Top with grenadine and garnish with lemon and cherry.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Red Hot Rouge

Intimate, red velvet booths in this ‘conversation bar’ provide a sexy backdrop for a first date get-to-know-you exchange. Later in the evening, Bar Rouge fills with cool-cats sipping cocktails and grooving to jazzy tracks. For a truly VIP experience, ask how to reserve “The Dark Room” for your personal posse.

The Adulteress
1 oz. Smirnoff Citrus Vodka
1 oz. black raspberry liqueur
Splash of pineapple juice
Lemon twist

Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Mon Cherry
1 oz. Effen Black Cherry Vodka
1 oz. cherry juice
4 oz. Champagne
1 tsp. dried cherries

Pour vodka and cherry juice into champagne flute. Top off with champagne and garnish drink with dried cherries.

1 oz X-rated Vodka
4 oz Champagne
Splash of grapefruit juice
Pour vodka in champagne flute, add champagne and top with a splash of grapefruit juice. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Happy Hours take place Monday – Saturday and, for the high-brow, don’t miss art shows on Wednesdays, featuring local talent.

*All three photos taken by Mike DePinto

Friday, May 05, 2006

Celebrity Sips

A Cinco de Mayo Tribute to Mexico's Film Icon, Maria Felix

Maria Felix, often referred to as the Marilyn Monroe of Mexico, earned fame as leading lady in nearly fifty movies. Renowned for her fashion sense and jet-setting image, her love life was as newsworthy as her career.

Widely agreed to be "the most beautiful face in the history of Mexican cinema,” she became a film icon during the golden age of the 1940s - a period of resurgent national pride - and the incarnation of the strong, sexual woman, who would, nevertheless, be tamed by machismo before the end of the movie.

Married four times, this Latin American femme fatale consorted with the rich and famous all her life. King Farouk of Egypt allegedly offered her Nefertiti's crown for one night of love.

Painted by many famous artists, including Jean Cocteau and Diego Rivera, (one of her numerous ex-lovers), who, to her fury, portrayed her in a transparent dress, she also inspired writers, including Paz and Carlos Fuentes. In 1990, an exhibition of paintings in Tijuana by her much younger Parisian lover, Antoine Tzapoff, included a portrait of her astride a rhinoceros.

In an interview Felix once said: "I cannot complain about men. I have had tons of them and they have treated me fabulously well. But sometimes I had to hurt them to keep them from subjugating me."

Born in 1914 in Alamos, northern Sonora state, she was one of 16 children of a wealthy family. She studied in Guadalajara, and later, moved to Mexico City. Her striking appearance - long, dark wavy hair and pale complexion – helped launch her film career, portraying strong women, endowed with intelligence and a voluptuous glamour.

In 1943, her lead character in Dona Barbara won her the life-long nickname “La Dona” with her public. Other well-known films include Rio Escondido and Enamorada, both released in 1947, and Luis Buñuel's Fever Mounts at El Pao (1959). In 1970, she starred in a television series, La Constitución (1970). Felix won three Ariel awards for best actress, and, in 1985, a lifetime achievement award and the Mexico City Prize.

Felix spent her later years living between Mexico City and Paris, where she owned a racehorse stable. Always dressed by top designers, in 1984, was nominated in France and Italy as one of the world's best-dressed women. In 1996, she became the first Latin American woman to be awarded France’s highest distinction, the National Order of Arts and Letters.

She published an autobiography, Todas Mis Guerras, in 1993. Asked once how old she was, Felix quipped: "I have been very busy living my life and haven't had time to count."

She died on her 88th birthday, April 8, 2002. Her body was paraded through Mexico City's Palacio de Bellas Artes, before burial.

Like Marilyn, her death had an air of mystery. Initially deemed a heart attack, her brother suggested that she had been poisoned. Her body was exhumed three weeks later. Finally, the family proclaimed she had died of natural causes and the matter was settled.

Mexican president Vicente Fox expressed the legacy of history and prestige Felix left behind her, "This was a great loss of a great Mexican that brought a great shine to our country…As an artist, she gave a huge world image to Mexico. There have been few of her stature and quality."

Drink a toast to the glamour of Mexican cinema!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hold On To Your Hats - It's a Category Five!

Acadiana, Washington's hot spot for those craving some good ole cajun fare, has its own interpretation of the classic New Orleans cocktail, The Hurricane.

The unique twist on this powerful libation is the house-made mix consisting of grenadine, freshly pressed orange, lime and watermelon juices, simple syrup, and passion fruit puree.

Drink with caution. And, preferably, on high ground.

Category Five
1 ½ oz. Cruzan Light Rum
¼ oz. Gosling's Dark Rum
3 oz. house-made Category Five mix

Pour light rum and Category Five mix into a hurricane glass. Float with Gosling's dark rum.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Italy’s Prosecco

Just as true champagne comes from a specific region of France, and cava is the “champagne” of Spain, Prosecco is a variety of white grape grown around 15 small towns on the hills of Veneto, in the Treviso province (north of Venice) at the feet of the Alps.

This Italian sparkling wine has long been enjoyed in Europe, and is gaining popularity in North America. My first contact with Prosecco was a few years ago, in Spain, when a German friend brought a couple of bottles along to a beach picnic. She said that it is a staple among her girlfriends, as a prelude to a soiree, or an afternoon delight.

(note: Europeans are allowed to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, on the beach, versus the U.S., where, by-and-large, we are not… but that’s fodder for another discussion entirely…)

Prosecco has a lower alcohol content than wine, and made in Italy's frizzante style, meaning it's fizzier than beer, though its bubbles are not ‘high-pressure,’ typical of Champagne. Generally, it is light and dry, with harvest-fruit undertones, and tends to be particularly popular among women.

Prosecco is a refreshing aperitif, and complements light cuisine such as grilled fish and vegetables, or a thin-crust gourmet pizza. And, as demonstrated in yesterday’s posting on Pinzimini’s signature drinks, it is super to use in sparkling cocktails!

Added bonus: Prosecco is priced quite reasonably, and not meant to be aged. So, buy a bottle, gather the gals and find an excuse to celebrate!

If you are planning a trip to Italy, tours of the Veneto region are available…

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

'Unwind' in Virginia at Pinzimini
Pin·zi·mi·ni (pin-zuh-MEE-nee): n. diminutive of the word 'pinzimonio,' which describes the Italian dip for vegetables and bread.

Blood Orange Martini
1.5 oz. Orange Vodka
1 oz. Grand Marnier

2 oz. Blood orange puree

1 Candied Orange wheel

Shake with ice, strain into chilled glass. Garnish with orange wheel.

Vanilla Pear Bellini
3/4 oz. vanilla vodka
1 1/2 oz. pear nectar
4 oz. Prosecco

Served in a chilled champagne flute.

Tuscan Mojito
muddled lemon and 8 mint leaves
1 1/2 oz. limoncello
3 oz. Prosecco

Muddle lemon and mint leaves in bottom of rocks glass. Add ice, limoncello and prosecco. Garnish with a lime.

Located in the new Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel, Pinzimini is an Italian steakhouse with an upscale, yet comfortable, atmosphere. Its open, airy design is a relaxing environment for an after-work meet-up in the increasingly vibrant Ballston neighborhood.

In addition to the tempting libations, featured above, Pinzimini’s happy hour (called 'Unwind’ ) also features selections from their small-plate Antipasti. Thinly sliced Proscuitto, cheeses, olives, grilled vegetables and warm, crusty bread, served along side Pinzimini’s sea salt and herb-infused olive oil, provide an enjoyable nibbly nosh to accompany a much needed end-of-the-day break. Tummy still rumbling? The panini and pizzas are quite delicioso.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Den of Tranquility

If you find yourself in the Nation’s Capital, and feel like stylishly lounging in a relaxed atmosphere, Topaz may be the place for you. Sink into purple velvet banquettes or groove to an international selection of acid jazz. The ‘Urban-Asian’ themed cocktail menu is customized for those who do yoga at sunrise, yet party ‘til dawn.

Organic White Cosmo
1 oz. Hangar (organic) vodka
¾ oz.triple sec
Splash organic white cranberry juice
Freshly squeezed lime
Dried cranberries

Pour vodka, triple sec and juice, over ice, into shaker. Mix. Pour into chilled martini glass. Add lime juice. Garnish with dried cranberries, ‘lounging’ at the bottom of the glass.

Lavender Karma
1 ½ oz. Vodka
1 oz. *Lavender-infused simple syrup
1 oz. Sour mix
Candied lemon garnish

Pour ingredients, over ice into shaker. Mix. Pour into chilled martini glass.

*(Lavender-infused simple syrup: Dissolve ½ cup of sugar into 1 cup of water. Add lavender seeds. Boil ‘til syrupy, about 20 minutes)

Happy Hour: Mon – Sat, 5 – 7 pm. Half-priced drink specials include the signature “Blue Nirvana.”