Monday, March 18, 2013

Cedar Sigo

Cedar Sigo reads tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 19th, 7:30).
Go to for more information.

After Self Help
                  for Simon Evans

All my rooms are alien
Towers of books tilt & crumble
                                                 at the least extended breath
A matinee beyond recall
Brown birds pale breasted darting through
Too Late-Hello-Later
Kiss the lights and they change
                                                 out over The Stardust
Cities are huge machines for sorting poets
Starting down the cellophane enfolded hills
Even cast off lines have their own pull and rhyme
Man at leisure ripped out of my mind
Lonesome after mine own kind
Hot black-soft white- warm reds
Mine a thinking mans cartoon western
Mine the one enters the stories
Mine the evergreen tears brushed with coral
The boat in the box is mine and mine the full sky

Friday, March 8, 2013

Books for the Golden Age of Mixology

Matching the renewed interest in classic and artisanal cocktails at the bar, there are a number of interesting books on the subject as well. The rediscovery of classic drinks from the early 20th century, and the explosion of interest in developing new and ever more complex cocktails puts us in a golden age of mixology.

Mitte Hellmich’s Ultimate Bar Book (Chronicle Books) is a handy guide to over 1,000 drinks. It defines the anatomy of the cocktail as having three principal components: the base, the body and the perfume. The base is the alcohol in the drink, the body modifies the main flavor, be it juice, vermouth, champagne, etc. The perfume can be a syrup or bitter or liqueur that completes the balance between base and body.

My standout favorite bartending book is Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails (Quarry). Now in its second printing, this book presents 100 classic cocktails, thoughtfully illustrated with photos of many now extinct cocktail ingredients, bottles of a bygone age. My own copy of this book is getting annotated (in an unsteady hand!) over time — with personal adjustments to these excellent recipes. (In our household we tend to make drinks less sweet and use more bitters than called for.)

Two books from the first classic age of cocktails deserve mention: The Savoy Cocktail Book (Pavilion) collects and updates drinks from London’s American Bar at the Savoy. It includes the idea that the best way to enjoy a cocktail is “quickly, while it is still laughing at you.”

Jerry Thomas’s How to Mix Drinks (Hesperus) is now back in print and includes a wealth of obscure knowledge, including how to properly serve absinthe.

Two other books worthy of the bar shelf are William Grimes’ Straight Up or On the Rocks (Macmillan) which offers a history of the American cocktail as well as a tightly edited set of cocktail recipes. I think Grimes, a New York Times writer, offers the best for a number of classic drinks. The Old Fashioned and the Sazerac are excellent.

David Wondrich’s Imbibe! (Perigee) is a tribute to Jerry Thomas, whose How to Mix Drinks from 1862 is the first bartending book. Wondrich’s book offers some fine drink recipes, including the three “improved” cocktails which are quite delicious. Wondrich’s other book Punch (Perigee) is a fine (and funny) intro into large-scale drink making.

For martini fans, there is a new edition of Shaken, not stirred (Morrow) by Anistatia R. Miller and Jared M. Brown. It offers a dizzying 217 martini drinks. The online site for the Guardian UK has a great video on “How to make the perfect martini”. Check it out!

Let’s round this out with two final books, a barware suggestion, and a cocktail recipe. The two books, Bitters (10 Speed) by Brad Thomas Parsons is, in David Chang’s words, “a must have for all booze nerds”. Making your own bitters is great fun, and aligns nicely with all the preserving and pickling that modern cooks pursue. The newest arrival is Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist (Algonquin). This book focuses on the plant sources from which all alcohol derives. Steward brings scientific taxonomy to the table—listing in exhaustive (and entertaining) detail a dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees—even fungi that contribute to one of mankind’s oldest sources of pleasure.

Speaking of pleasure—another fun part of the cocktail building trade is the need for simple, but specialized barware—from glasses to shakers, strainers and stirrers. Downtown Oakland’s Umami Mart (815 Broadway) offers a wide range of Japanese barware—they even have ice trays that make ice in the shape of a sphere.

Finally, my favorite cocktail, taken from a New York Times article that I can’t locate: The Negroni. This is a version dark and bitter and delicious.

1 ¾ oz. Hendricks Gin
1 oz. Campari
¾ oz. Punt e Mes

Shake with ice, strain into a chilled glass, orange peel garnish.


-- Stan Sobolewski

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vincent Katz

Vincent Katz will read with Cedar Sigo Tuesday March 19th at 7:30 in the Moe's Basement. More information at

             Journal De La Nuit


humbled by rain
shuttled between
suburb and cobble
a day's unfair
lightness walked
towards cathedrals
shops, feet
soaked to the core
under skies
of Paris, beauty
hesitates, allows
one pass
excess from umbrella's
"ballet" mineral
water rockstar
memory emotion
validate once
why they like it
telephone call
Louise fĂȘted
band jump
boy couples
dancer meet
Cafe Beaubourg
bad seed joke
world's banalities
museum closed
10 pm, feu
rouge cloud
clear lit
in her bath
above lawn
in park


Journal De La Nuit - Paris