>Welcome to the Libation Laboratory


Today is 1-1-11.  I’m not necessarily a fanatic about numerology, but, let’s face it, how cool is it when the date is something like 1-1-11?  When it was 10-10-10, I was doing something fun and memorable and it was on purpose because the numbers were 10-10-10.   What I’m saying is that 1-1-11 is an auspicious day and I should do something fun and memorable.  So, let’s get started with that.  
     I have a new hobby.  This hobby (obsession/fascination) has been a slow evolution.  Think of it as the classic hockey stick graph.  The blade of the hockey stick represents my earliest experimentation a long time ago, which was drinking Jack Daniels in the back of a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda (Nasty.  Experiment failed miserably).  Next entry was frozen, sugary, blended drinks where you mix colored liquid from one bottle with booze from a second bottle (tasty but, let’s face it, not really a cocktail…more like dessert in a glass).   And then I grew older, wiser and moved to Seattle.  Next up was dinner with C&E at a now defunct restaurant and I tried C’s Lemon Drop.   I know, I know, a beginner cocktail with easy-to-like ingredients.  But, damn, that lemon drop was pretty tasty.  Interesting…  OK, so now this is where we start to make the transition to the handle of the hockey stick and things are really going to take off at an accelerated rate.  
     A little over two years ago, I began to watch Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and thought she was so very cool, which led me to read an article written about her.  Within this biographic article, she talked of her love for making (and drinking) cocktails.  Interesting… I could do that….make cocktails, be cool (seriously, who doesn’t want to be cool?  You don’t?  Ok, well then I have some baggage from childhood that motivates me to want to be cool.  Don’t judge).  But where to start?  I would need a reference guide, a book.  I couldn’t just begin by throwing things together.  That’s not how I’m wired.  My knowledge of cocktails consisted of Jack and coke, frozen red drinks, and lemon drops.  I would definitely need a book.  And not just a book of recipes.  After all, I am supposed to be a scientist by training (at least reading the titles of the pieces of paper that you are given after many years and much money, one might discern that perhaps I am of the sciencey ilk).  So, back to the book….I would need a book.  CR (completely supportive of my new hobby/addiction) and I went shopping.  Not at all sure what was available for someone wanting to start down a cocktail journey, I ended up being drawn to Drinks.  This book had everything I was looking for….descriptions and history of the different base liquors and cocktail recipes with stories of their creation.  Great.  I dove in for an interesting, educational read.  And then another significant event happened that facilitated the continuation of the upward hockey stick handle trend.  There occurred the snowstorm of December 2008.  (I also like to refer to this time as the Christmas Miracle of 2008).  Seattle experienced such a significant dump of snow over several days that the city effectively shut down for two weeks.  Having lived in Seattle now for more than 5 years, CR and I had lost our mid-west resilience for driving around on snow and ice (though we did build one hellish snow-woman in the front yard).  To battle cabin fever, we walked.  We walked to the movies.  We walked to the mall.  We walked to the Ave.  We walked to the market.  And, we discovered that the liquor store was within walking distance too.  And so the liquor cabinet was born and began to grow.  After 5 continuous days of shopping at the liquor store and seeing the same checkout person, we felt compelled to explain that we didn’t have a “problem”, we had just read a new cocktail recipe and we needed ingredients.  The response back:  deadpan “U-Huh”.  Ok, so we don’t care what the liquor store check-out person thinks of us.  We had found our proverbial candy story.  So many shelves and shiny bottles and colorful liquids.  So many flavors and interesting names.  And we also found our liquor store encyclopedia boyfriend John.  With a breadth of knowledge about all types of booze, his colorful hair and unpretentious attitude, John has become our go-to person for new and interesting bottles of liquor. 
    OK, so things are happening fast now.  It was time to mix a ‘real’ cocktail.  We had traveled to Paris the year before and had such a wonderful trip that we were still talking about it.  I read a recipe for a cocktail called the Champs Elysées, a classic cocktail first referenced in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.   Perfect.  I had to mix this drink.  Trip to kitchen store for cocktail shaker, check.  Trip to liquor store for ingredients, check.  Green Chartreuse, a secret recipe made by Carthusian Monks since the 1740s, with extracts from 132 plants and its coloring coming from chlorophyll…so beyond cool.  Mix up two.  Serve.  Frakity Frak!  That damn drink is good!  Ok.  I’m in; count me in.  Extra time because of the snowstorm afforded me lots of play time for my new hobby.  I discovered wonderful blogs all about cocktails.  Hello Paul Clarke and Jay Hepburn.  Please be my new BFFs.  So many books written about my new hobby (bookstore within walking distance, check).  There is an annual conference to celebrate my new hobby,  a magazine devoted almost entirely to my new passion.  And let’s not forget about a Guild, there’s even a Guild.  Apparently, even I can be a member of the Washington State Bartenders Guild.  I read of the different kinds of shiny, sparkly new bar tools I would need.  Kid in a candy store….A Christmas Miracle. 
     Back to the hockey stick….we are racing up the handle, which is where we are today, 1-1-11.  I’m not a writer, I haven’t traveled the world, and I just learned that cocktails can be tasty.  But I’m compelled to write a blog about this new hobby of mine.  CR dubbed it Libation Laboratory.  She thinks it’s my outlet for being a frustrated scientist who doesn’t actually ‘do’ science anymore.  If so, then what an appropriate name.  Thus, two years after the self-discovery that cocktails are indeed tasty, I’m taking it to the next level.  Welcome to the Libation Laboratory.  


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