HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wood Ticks, Softball Tics, Alcoholic Tics


After trying several times to export this image in a size large enough to read the "vanity" license plate easily, I have given up! I did want to share it, however, as if you look carefully, or drag out the old magnifying glass, you will see that the plate says WUDTIC.

You will also notice that it is a Wisconsin specialty plate with a wolf's head at the left.

The photo was taken by my pal, Jay Moore, (hopefully not while he was driving!) on a recent trip back to the stomping grounds of his childhood. So somebody beat me to that one, eh? That's okay. I am perfectly happy to be keeping "laughs" off the market until I die -- hopefully, laughing.

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I got to thinking the other day as I passed a grade school play ground, of my own grade school days at St Joseph's School in Menomonie. The only part of the playground that had a tall chain link fence back stop bordered the driveway of an old woman's house.

When it got warm enough to start playing softball, that's when the fearsome adventures began.

it never failed. As soon as the first batter got up to the plate, the old witch would suddenly appear out of nowhere, rocking in her rocking chair behind the picture window that looked out on us.

It was only a matter of time and someone would chip a foul ball over the fence and it would bound across her driveway, bump up against her house and the chase was on.

She must have been in her 80's, but that old lady could move!

Whoever was catching would have to run all the way to the end of the fence, turn the corner, then race down her driveway to retrieve the errant ball, the shrill squealing of the grade school girls only making the task that much more frightening!

Out of the house and down the steps the old lady would bound, broom in hand. If you got there at the same time she arrived, she took the broom to you until you backed off and she scooped up the prize.

Many times she got there first, picked up the ball, and without even so much as a glance back, she would return to her post at the window.

I don't know whatever became of her. but to this day I picture a mantel with softballs all in a line -- trophies of balls bounced out of play and into her domain.

The other fact that has always astounded me is that we never broke that window. I think if we had, there would have been some cheering!

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Matthew Capell and I had a great discussion on the wondrous attributes of the vodka gimlet the other day. I had forgotten about gimlets. Used to drink them all the time.

So I went out and bought some "Stoli", some Rose's lime juice, and on a whim, three fresh limes. Now -- the Rose's Lime Juice I knew about from my bar tending days at the now gone Hotel Eau Claire. It was a great old hotel. Why do we have no respect for our architecture?

Standard condiment for the vodka gimlets of yore was always two filberts.

Yesterday, Matt sent me the following:

It has come to the attention of my ever watching eye that this website gets hit quite often looking for information on the veritable Vodka Gimlet. I posted about my love for said drink in some post somewhere, and Google has picked it up and sent many a budding Gimlet connoisseur my way.

So I have, in my wisdom, decided it wise to share with you the perfect Vodka Gimlet recipe - from ingredients to the way to pre-treat the glass. Those in the know already know that a Vodka Gimlet is one of the easiest recipes to make. It requires very little skill and is big on taste. But there are things that can be done to make it even perfect-er, and here is Dave's way of making the perfect Vodka Gimlet.

The reason I'm such a Gimlet fan is because while I like certain drinks and flavorful martinis, I'm not a huge fan of hard alcohol. I quite more often find myself dancing with a glass of wine or beer - I've enjoyed enough beer in my life to get a small nation toasted.

So drinking hard alcohol not being on my personal top 10 list of exciting and fun ways to spend my time (my brother will one day disown me for not appreciating a good scotch) I'm relatively picky about what mixed drinks or martinis I actually do ingest.

But sometimes a drink comes along that wakes up the taste buds to a new experience. Such was the deal when Sean's wife first introduced my (breathtaking) girlfriend and I to a Vodka Gimlet one evening while we were visiting them. I was immediately hooked - as was the girlfriend.

It's an easy drink to make. The basics are 1.5 oz of vodka to 1 oz of lime juice, mix, and serve. But a good Gimlet is so much more. Here's the way to make yourself a perfect Gimlet (like the one I'm enjoying right now).

Step 1 - Select a Vodka

Now, if you want me to go ahead and make life easy on you, here we go - use Grey Goose. For me, the perfect Gimlet is far from site when any vodka other than Grey Goose is employed. Certainly I can enjoy a Gimlet with Level or Van Gogh or Stoli or even Absolut if… you know… Absolut-ly necessary… (rim shot). But not being a vodka connoisseur myself, I can tell you that I don't like a vodka with a bite - and Grey Goose is about as smooth as they come.

I'll leave the final decision to you. After all, the vodka is half of the ingredients, so you'd better enjoy it. But trust me - if the vodka you're using was less than $20 for 750 ml - you're probably being cheated out of good taste.

One final - IMPORTANT - note. Do not put the vodka in the refrigerator. In order for this recipe to work, the vodka must be at room temperature.

Step 2 - Select a Lime Juice

No - any lime juice will NOT do. There is only one lime juice you may use and if you don't use it, you're out of the family. Roses West India Sweetened Lime Juice is the shiznit, and you really shouldn't use anything else. It's sweetened to give it a - hmm… sweet taste - but is concentrated enough to still enjoy the lime impact.

Step 3 - Grab a lime.

That's it. Get a lime.

Makin Time

Now it's time to actually make the drink. Again, lets review. You should have the following three ingredients:

Grey Goose Vodka (or other appropriately high end spirit of the potato variety)
Roses West India Sweetened Lime Juice
Lime
Good. Now, the steps in which you actually do this are important. Here they are:

Grab your shaker and fill it 2/3 of the way high with cubed ice. Crushed is not great for this drink. Put the shaker aside.
Grab a measuring cup. Put 1.5 oz of vodka in for every 1 oz of Roses lime juice you use. A hint for more flavor is to really bring the ratio closer to 1:1, but we're going to use the real lime to add a nice cap to the drink, so the 1.5:1 ratio is acceptable. Make sure the vodka is room temperature. The lime juice may be cold for preservation reasons.
Pour both the vodka and Roses lime juice directly into the measuring cup. Put the cup aside.
Cut your lime into quarters. One quarter will be used for each drink. If you're short on limes, you can cut it in to eighths, but I do recommend quarters. By cutting up the limes in this step, you're giving the ice time to cool the shaker.
Grab the shaker and empty any water that has gathered at the bottom from the ice melting. Now place the vodka/lime juice mix into the shaker. Cap the shaker and shake it good - for at least 15-20 seconds. This will allow the room temperature vodka to quickly pick up the cold of the ice, while melting the ice a little to help pick up some water. You want some water. Place the shaker aside and allow it to sit for a few seconds while you do the next step.
Take the lime quarter, and push it on to the rim of the glass. Move the lime all the way around the rim of the glass while squeezing slightly, so the entire rim of the glass gets some fresh lime juice on it.
Give the vodka/lime juice mix one last shake to mix it up, and pour into the glass/glasses. The glass should become ice cold to the touch after no more than 30 seconds.
Finally, take the lime quarter off of the rim of the glass, and squeeze the rest of the juice out into the Gimlet and drop the lime wedge in to the drink. Don't stir.
Enjoy!
Making a Good Drink is Never Quick

There you have it - the perfect Vodka Gimlet. It should not be a two second exercise to make a good Gimlet. Rather, take your time. Let the vodka soak up the cold of the ice. Make sure you get the lime all the way around the rim of the glass.

Why is this so good??

When your lips first touch the glass, you're immediately introduced to the tart of the fresh lime juice, almost unexpectedly. When the Gimlet touches your lips, the cold that you're feeling in the hand holding the drink wakes up your senses. A sip of the drink attacks your mouth with sweet and tart at the same time (this is MY kind of sweet-tart!) and is cold and refreshing. Yet when you swallow, the Gimlet leaves a familiar, welcoming warm in your chest.

That's good drinking my friends. Good indeed.

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So when I bought the limes, I was doing the "hip" thing and didn't even know it!

Maybe this is less than sophisticated, but there are two drinks that I like to drop a jalepeno stuffed green olive into as a finishing touch: the brandy manhattan, and the vodka gimlet.

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