A-Z of cocktails

It is very easy to get into a rut; eating and drinking what you know. I tended to drink Gin and Tonic, Margarita, Cuba Libre, Long Island Iced Tea, and only occasionally branch out. A week or so back, I decided to be a little more adventurous. Using an app that matches the contents of my liquor cabinet to recipes, I have started a journey through the alphabet of cocktails.

To date I have drunk
Amsterdam: Gin, Triple Sec, Orange juice, mint
Bloody Sharkbite: Dark Rum, Orange juice, Cranberry (a good drink without the rum too)
Crimean Cocktail: White wine, Triple Sec, Soda, Lemon Juice
Delilah: Gin, Triple Sec, Lemon juice
English Highball: Gin, Brandy, Sweet Vermouth, Soda

All of them have been interesting. The choice of C was made because I had opened a bottle of pretty poor white wine the night before; I think I shall repeat that only under same circumstances. The E is one that I can imagine drinking again and the B choice was excellent.

For some reason, I am now short on Triple Sec.

Published in: on 30 May, 2012 at 17:37  Comments (2)  

Feet First

I had a new experience today; a spa pedicure. My feet were soaked, nails trimmed, soles rubbed, and overall relaxation achieved. Walking away from the place, my feet felt great. I can still feel the effects even after getting through security at Long Beach airport.

Published in: on 29 May, 2012 at 15:30  Comments (4)  

Cocktail Covers

I was in a shoe store whilst my wife browsed their clearance items. I recently purchased smart black shoes. My casual shoes, sandals, slippers, and walking shoes were fine – thus I had no need for another pair.

I meandered and looked around. I then heard a cover of “Don’t You Want Me”. It was an insipid, tinkly version of the original. The meaning of the lyrics ripped away by having a single voice sing both the male and female parts.

I heard a couple comment as the song reached its end; “The music makes me think we should be drinking martinis.” A perfect summary for a lifeless cocktail-bar version of a song that for me at least has deep memories.

Published in: on 29 May, 2012 at 6:15  Comments (1)  

Customer Dissatisfaction

I received a call on Sunday afternoon from a number in Omaha. I answered it to be told that was my bank wishing to conduct a custom satisfaction survey of my experience when I visited my branch on May 23.

I do not have any desire to spend my time on such calls under normal circumstances. This time however, not only did I not wish to answer questions, but I was unable to do so. The branch is in Covina and I have not been there since moving North in 2006.

Thus I am faced with the impression that my bank has the wrong priorities in their software design, but does not even know when their customers visit a branch. There may be businesses in which such amateurishness is charming; banking is not one of those industries.

Published in: on 28 May, 2012 at 7:25  Leave a Comment  

Third Time is the Least Charmless

We are taking an extended long weekend in Southern California. We are staying in the Desert. I am writing outside in the morning warmth. I am relaxed. However, the start of the vacation was somewhat less calming. We arrived at Long Beach airport after a perfectly eventless flight from Sacramento. We had a car booked and the rental counts experience was also without incident.

It was when we went out to the rental lot that things became annoying. We found our car, loaded the luggage into the boot. It was when we opened the door, that we caught the reek of smoke and my wife noticed what looked like a burn mark on the passenger seat. We retrieved the luggage and went back to the counter to request a fresh car. They provided a second set of keys. Once more the luggage was placed in the boot. We got in and started the engine only to see the fuel gauge show that there was not a full tank of petrol. We took the luggage out and once more we exchanged the keys, signed the paperwork, and found the car. This one stank of pine, but the gauge showed full, and the odor was not that of smoke. We drove off in search of food.

My phone rang as I parked the car by a restaurant a couple of miles from the airport. An alert reader may have noted the cause of the call. Flustered by the repeated attempts to get a car, I had missed one step for the third and final car; the luggage was left in the lot. We drove straight back, only to find that none of the rental staff knew what had been done with the luggage. They referred me to airport security. I went in search of security. Meanwhile, my wife saw the case sat in the parking lot and retrieved it.

The lack of quality in the cars and the absence of apology from the rental staff leaves us with one less company to whom we shall give future business. Poor service Hurts the company.

When we did get to dinner, it was at Islands and we ordered the Sandpiper; our favourite at that place. Maybe it was our hunger and frustration, but the chicken, cheese, mushrooms, bacon, and wheat roll have never tasted better.

Published in: on 27 May, 2012 at 10:00  Comments (1)  

Street Names

It is not unusual in the UK to name streets after people. The are plenty of Roads named after monarchs. Staying here in Palm Desert, a close neighbour of the more famous Palm Springs, the street signs look odd, because they bear names of people far more recent than English street names.

I am staying in a house just off a road that runs parallel to Bob Hope. To get here from the freeway we crossed Gerald Ford Drive and Dinah Shore Drive. Our plans for tomorrow will take us across Frank Sinatra Drive.

Published in: on 26 May, 2012 at 17:20  Comments (1)  

Bank On It

I know that I often see things in a different light from most other people; even more so as a Brit he in the US. However,when it comes to my bank’s iPhone app, I feel confident that it is the bank whose views are out of step and not mine.

I log in to the app with a username and password. The latter being one I use for no other purpose than banking. Once in the app, I can check balances and make payments. A recent revision allows me to deposit cheques (or since it is a US bank – checks) by using the phone to take a picture of front and back. This gets checks to the bank more rapidly than mailing them to my branch in the South of the state. What is odd, is that in order to perform this function, the app requests additional verification of identity. I need to enter the full 16 digits of my debit/ATM card and the last four of my social security number.

If someone had my iPhone and wished to use my bank account, which is the more likely scenario? That they would take money from my account, or pay funds that were not mine into the account? I think that the former is the usual way that dishonest men use bank details. It is clear that with the additional security measures, my bank thinks that it is the latter case against which they must protect me.

Published in: on 26 May, 2012 at 8:29  Leave a Comment  

Iced Tea

I cannot think of a cafe, diner, restaurant, or hotel that I have visited in the US that does not offer Iced Tea. The drink is as common as the beverage that is associated with America; Coca-Cola. It may be even more widespread, as those enclaves of Pepsi also supply it. Usually it comes not from the fountains that serve fizzy drinks, but brewed in an urn or jug on the premises. In either event it is almost always available as a bottomless drink; the server refilling your glass without further charge.

In the UK you might get icy looks for asking for tea that is not hot, but the chance of finding iced tea is slight. When I have seen the drink on offer, it is bottled or canned. These tend to be expensive relative to other soft drinks and in common with British custom do not include free refills or enough ice to keep the drink cold.

I occasionally drink iced-tea, but more frequently mix it with lemonade. This is called an Arnold Palmer, after the golfer. The name is widely known and I can it order it without further explanation – most of the time. I was once asked for my ID, which suggested that the waitress assumed it was a cocktail and that I looked under 21 – not smart and with poor eyesight.

My wife drinks iced-tea at almost every place we visit. She adds sweetener; sugar will not dissolve effectively in cold water, so you have to use some type of artificial sweetener. If I drink it neat, I prefer not to add anything to sweeten it.

What surprises me is that in the Southern states iced-tea is served ready sweetened. This not only fails to suit my taste, as I want it as it comes, but even those who add sweetener are put out. Southern Iced Tea is very, very sweet; it makes Coke seem downright savory. Given that one can always add sweetness to taste, but cannot remove it, this way of serving it seems strange. The only plausible reason is that as you make the tea hot, you can dissolve real sugar during the brewing.

Published in: on 15 May, 2012 at 16:49  Leave a Comment  


Unless one is staying away from home, people do not tend to eat breakfast out in the UK. In the case of hotels and other lodging, the breakfast is provided by the place in which one stays. Here in the US going out for breakfast is common. There in fact many places here that open early in the morning and close early afternoon; serving just breakfast and lunch.

This Sunday we woke far too early, but were able to beat the Mothering Sunday rush by going to a local cafe at 7:30. I had French Toast with fresh strawberries, covered in maple syrup. This shows another difference in breakfast, that I mentioned before; the frequent use of mixed savory and sweet food.


Published in: on 13 May, 2012 at 14:36  Leave a Comment  

A Walk On Part in the War

Wish You Were Here, performed as a duet on electric harps by identical twins.

Yes, really, I am not on the substances much used by the late subject of the song

Published in: on 13 May, 2012 at 9:41  Comments (1)