My uncle was a pilot. Hal flew light, high-wing planes, the type you’d fly into northern Ontario to hunt moose. A couple times a year, he’d fly to visit us, landing in Trimble’s pasture across the road from our house. A low fly-over to let us know he was there, a tight turn over the telephone lines, and there he’d be, roaring across the clover to park by the electric fence next to our mailbox. He knew how to make an exciting entry.
Nothing says “jungle movie” like a sound track with plenty of evocative “ka-dawing” bird calls and monkey yelling. Throw in the occasional tiger roaring in the darkness, and you have a convincing, if clichéd, aural impression that transports us right into the exotic elsewhere of the tropical jungle.
When I hear a soundtrack done well, I can feel the heat. I can smell the mud and the trees.
When it’s done right, the movie soundtrack is a powerful thing.
Of course, it can be done wrong, and all that power flows in the opposite direction.
My father introduced me to model airplane kits, and I was hooked. I always enjoyed the fun of learning about the airplanes, selecting the “next one,” working through the pieces of the kit, adding paint and decals, getting my fingers glued together, and finally adding each finished airplane to the growing collection on the shelves above my desk.
One of the last kits I assembled, and the strangest of the lot, was the X-15 rocket plane, Continue reading “The X-15, Saturn, and the Finer Points of Bad Behavior”
Cocktailing is not so very different from cooking or baking—gather ingredients, follow the recipe, enjoy—but while I’ll put up with all sorts of preparation and procedure in baking or in cooking dinner, I find that I value simplicity and off-handed quickness in drink making.
The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail is built squarely on a tropical Caribbean foundation—despite the fact that Bermuda is hundreds of miles out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The drink combines rum, lime, and sugar—the combination Jeff Berry refers to as “the Holy Trinity of Caribbean mixology”—but the sweetness is applied in the form of nutty, gingery falernum syrup and orange liqueur.
One of the lasting icons of World War II is the public image of Winston Churchill—short, round, with a fat cigar clamped pugnaciously in his jaw.
And that ubiquitous, two-fingered “V” salute that became shorthand for the hope and courage of Allied soldiers and civilians alike.
Remember that drink we made as kids, the thing we so blithely called the “Suicide”? The one where you mix all the kinds of Kool-Aid you can find, pour in a couple kinds of pop, and then double-dog-dare each other to drink it?
I don’t think I ever actually took that dare. Urgent red, neon green, curaçao blue, all mixed together… that stuff looked vile. It looked dangerous.
In the 1930s, the Hotel Nacional de Cuba was one of the world’s grandest. Rising from a rocky ridge overlooking Havana Harbor, it was new, gorgeous, and imposing. Its stately opulence attracted celebrities, politicians, gangsters, and wealthy travelers from all over the world.
And it helped to reinforce Havana’s reputation as a comfortable cocktail destination for Prohibition-weary Americans. Continue reading “Have one in Havana — the Hotel Nacional Special Cocktail”