Tonight's Negroni #5: You guys are weird!

FYI: This is an archive of my Tonight's Negroni email newsletter.

And not just because you subscribe to the ramblings of someone crackpot who is willing to write over 1,000 words on the topic of internet-influenced patronage.

No, more because more than one of you accused me of having - somewhere in my hopes and dreams - the notion of opening a bar! I mean, come on! Do you even know me?

Psh. The only bar I need to manage is called "my kitchen" and the bottle maintenance involved in keeping reasonably full measures of interesting gin, whiskey, whisky, vermouths, amari, and so forth on the counter is plenty for me to deal with. I don't need the hassle of "serving customers" or "running the business" of a bar. Nope. I am content to remain an Expert Level Stay at Home Bartender™.

Which may actually become a thing... 

My friend Andrew started things off with the phrase "stay at home bartender" a while ago. It made us both giggle a lot, so I registered some domains and whatnot. At some point we might make it yet another cocktail blog, or we might make it something else. I kinda really want to make t-shirts, at least. 

We'll see. 

In the mean time, the twitter users among you might follow @athomebartender (which is mostly me retweeting me, but hopefully won't stay that way). I was also going to suggest using the #SAHBU (that's for Stay At Home Bartenders Union) hashtag if you tweet about cocktails you make at home, but this SAHBU seems a bit more worthy... Maybe #AtHomeBar? Not sure. I need to workshop it a bit. Hit me up with suggestions.


Anyway, it's Monday night and I'm keeping my drink simple. Yes even more simple than the stupid-easy Negroni, but no less glorious:

This stuff is amazing. It's the spice of Vya sweet vermouth turned up to eleven with the richness and roundness of Carpano Antica Formula.

Just wow.

They call it "luxurious vermouth", which is hilarious, but I'm willing to work with it. I had a Negroni with this vermouth last night and referred to it as The Most Luxurious Negroni

It's good to treat yourself now and again.


Insider tip for my Denver friends: [Redacted because I don't want to cause trouble for friends applying for liquor licenses.]

Tonight's Negroni #4: The secret life of a social media patron (and so can you!)

FYI: This is an archive of my Tonight's Negroni email newsletter.

(Editorial note: Please read all quotation marks in the following as eye-rolling air-quotes. Because all of this is probably ridiculous.)

A weird thing has happened to me recently, and it involves two distinct and now interestingly connected things:

  1. Patronage
  2. Social media (in particular Twitter and Facebook)

Let's talk about the second one first. 

Let me first confess that I love Twitter and only use Facebook begrudgingly because people (and businesses, but we'll come to that in a bit) that I care about only use Facebook. There are still parts of Twitter that feel like the "old blogging days" of the early 2000s. I've made actual human connections with new people via Twitter. I've even met some of them IRL! (Note: I still have "online friends" from the "old blogging days" that I have not met IRL. It's a brave new world of introversion, friends!) Facebook mostly feels like it deals with the "people you already know" category of interaction. 

Except for the thing that I've been pondering and want to ... type about. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

You see, a while back I "quit Facebook". The quotes are because I still used Facebook for what I feel is its most useful function: monitoring restaurants, producers of goods, and community news. If you want to know about a new product from a brand you like, Facebook is the way to do it. If you want to know about a new prix fix farm to table dinner or free cocktail class at one of your favorite restaurants, odds are Facebook is your best bet. 

It so happens I am "into" these types of things.

Thusly, I deleted my Facebook account (in as much as they actually let you do so), created a new account with an email address I never use, and followed all the businesses, brands, local news sources, and what not that I actually cared for. I looked at it no more than daily and referred to it as my "newspaper". 

But that version of Facebook was read-only for me. I made no comments and liked no links. No interaction. 

Meanwhile, on Twitter, the opposite was happening. I was engaging businesses and brands and getting responses ranging from "hired social media guru" to "I actually run the joint". Then when I "came back" to Facebook, I started behaving like I already was on Twitter. I would friend request bartenders who might think I was vaguely familiar if you showed them a picture but still wouldn't know me from Adam. And they'd accept because I was already friends with the guy that owns the restaurant where they shake drinks. And I would joke with them online and they'd joke back. And then they actually would know me from Adam the next time I sat down and asked for a Negroni, rocks. In fact, I currently have several restauranteurs, bartenders, shop owners, and even real estate developers who will stop and say hello to me mostly because of online interaction.

Which is what has me thinking about this so much. Twitter and Facebook and the casual online engagement they foster are becoming a substitute for the face time it takes to become a "regular" for these people/places. Or at least some kind of short cut to gaining that status.

This is really interesting to me. 

The places with real humans behind the social media are always surprisingly appreciative of the retweets/shares and favs/likes I give them. But I will say that I do all of that genuinely. I honestly see it as an act of curation (probably should have air-quoted that... ಠ_ಠ). I want to know about awesome things so that I have more opportunity to experience awesome things. I want to believe my friends feel the same way, so I share things I find that look awesome.

And this sharing is a part of my patronage of these people and businesses. Yes, I will come to your restaurant and drink your craft cocktails and eat your amazing food and rave about them on the internet afterwards as much as I can. I just can't do it that much. For one thing, there are other restaurants that are amazing and I haven't even been yet. For another, I will go utterly broke!

I guess I'm discovering an adjunct to the definition of patron, which I just looked up and will share with you:


  1. a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, cause, or activity.
  2. a customer, esp. a regular one, of a store, restaurant, or theater.

Add to that something along the lines of "one who actively engages with and spreads the word about a business or producer of goods", and that's me. 

Mutant Internet Patron, at your service.

OK, enough computerized ear-chewing... Cocktail time! I've already talked about it twice before, so tonight I'll actually mix it:


  1. Add everything to a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice. (A Hendrick's gin rep taught me this trick, with the reasoning that if the ice is already in the mixing glass when you start adding your booze, you are immediately in a race against dilution. Seems reasonable to me.)
  3. Stir. (Work on your smooth, silent stir, because you're classy. Stir until the mixing glass is good and cold.)
  4. Strain into a fancy cocktail glass. (The color of this drink is pretty enough, and Suze is a rare enough ingredient that it deserves the - don't roll your eyes this time! - "up" treatment as oppose to most Negroni variations, which I typically prefer on the rocks.)

Suze is interesting stuff. First thing: it's a freakish yellow color. It's made with gentian root, which I discovered during my recent adventure in bitters making is some of the most bitter tasting stuff I've had in my mouth. Obviously the Pernod elves work some serious magic because Suze is mighty tasty.

Uncle Val's is also a bit odd. If you've ever had Hendrick's gin, just imagine that turned up to eleven with more emphasis on herbal and citrus notes than cucumber and florals. It almost plays a little too hard for this drink. Try the previously mentioned Half Moon Orchard Gin from Tuthilltown instead, maybe.


Thanks for reading. I'll keep the next one shorter. Maybe tell some fart jokes instead...

Tonight's Negroni #3: The Derpiest Marshmallow

FYI: This is an archive of my Tonight's Negroni email newsletter.

Generally, I think I'm a pretty smart dude. Occasionally, however, I am presented with devastatingly irrefutable evidence to the contrary. 

This is one of those.

To start with, a confession: I am one of the 90+ thousand people who Kickstarted the new Veronica Mars movie. My Special Lady Friend (SLF) and I enjoyed the series quite a bit, and it was exciting to be part of such a crazily successful Kickstarter campaign.

Well, anyway, the fun begins when I get a Kickstarter update that mentions that there will be a funders-only preview the day before general release at the theater around the corner from my house. "That sounds like fun," I think to myself. "SLF would be excited to go to that."

Reading the updates again, I see absolutely no realistic way for my mistake to have actually happened.

AMC has also shared a few more details about what you can expect at their "Veronica Mars Fan Event": the advance screenings will take place on March 13 at 8pm, and will include exclusive footage from our red carpet premieres, as well as exclusive t-shirts and limited edition lanyards for all attendees.


Again, these are the only 17 theaters where Fan Events are being held on March 13

The details are very clear, right? Tickets for the preview event on March 13 were going on sale on February 13. They also mention that tickets for the March 14th general premiere were going to go on sale on February 14. Simple.

Then something happened. 

When I bought the tickets (after some struggle with the AMC web site), my idiotic little brain suddenly ignored everything that said "March" and just saw "Thursday the 13th" and since February has 28 days (usually), days of the week in February are the same as in March, "Thursday the 13th" got magically translated to TODAY!

This really shouldn't be a problem. There are people around me who should be able to correct my confusion with no more damage to me than a little embarrassment. 

You'd think.

So, I (in my frothing state of mistaken knowledge) forward the ticket receipt to SLF with the note: "You'd better hurry home from ballet." Does she point out my mistake with a little "Babe, that's in March..."? Nope! "I'll be home at 6:45!" she says. 

Now she's infected. She actually thinks I know what I'm doing.

Sure enough, we head off to the theater and get the tickets from the Fandango kiosk. Now get this: We walk in the door and hand the tickets to the kid, he looks at them, his brow wiggles just a bit as if he might have the thought to correct our mistake, but then he tears the tickets and tells us "You'll be in theater 14 right there." Damn it, kid! YOU HAD ONE JOB!

Upside: We discover there in now a bar in this theater! Aces! 

We get a drink and a snack and we wonder where everybody is. The bartender lady asks what we're here to see and we tell her that we're here for the Veronica Mars preview event. "Oh, that looks great. I can't wait to see that one." she says with absolutely zero comprehension or awareness of reality. Then we get round 2 and go into the theater which is still labelled for the LEGO movie. We sit in the empty theater and grow increasingly concerned as people start filing in with their kids. 

We tough it out, stewing in our befuddlement, until the LEGO movie actually starts. At which point we trot over to the information desk and ask the manager what's going on. She tilts her head, looks at our tickets for a bit and then *BING*"These are for March!"

Holy crap. 

How dumb are we? 



Thunderously dumb.

She assures us we'll be able to get into the real event (which is nearly sold out, BTW) with our torn tickets. She'll send an email, she says as she writes a note and her initials on the back of our tickets. Guess we'll see how that goes in March...

The astounding part is how my stupidity managed to pass so many checks. 

The derp is strong in this one.

By this point you no doubt believe my damaged brain probably doesn't need a drink, but let's do it anyway:

  1. Mix it in a glass with ice.
  2. Drink it.

My default "well" gin is Tanqueray. It's a great, no frills "London Dry" gin with good juniper. 

To class up this very basic Negroni, we turn to what I consider the king of sweet vermouths. Antica has a lot going on, but there's a vanilla flavor that really gets a highlight in this drink.

Thanks for reading (if you made it this far). Always feel free to reply to these and let me know what I'm doing well or not-so-well. I'd love the feedback. I still have no idea what I'm doing here.

Tonight's Negroni #2: Man Cycle or Mercury?

FYI: This is an archive of my Tonight's Negroni email newsletter.

I don't know about you, but my emotions have been all kinds of wibbly-wobbly lately. 

If I held any stock is this sort of claptrap, I'd go ahead and blame a tiny planet far away, close to the sun. But supposedly that only started a week ago, and I've been on this roller coaster for over three weeks. 

Maybe I should just attribute it to shaving my beard off on the first of the year... Sure that works! Let the season of anti-crybaby beard regrowth commence! 

No, it's not a Negroni, but it's in the same tradition as a Boulevardier. As far as I know, it's just something I improvised, but it may be very close to something that already exists and has a clever name.
Typically this would be the sort of drink you would stir with ice and strain into a nice cocktail glass with an orange twist to garnish.
Instead, I strained it over a big ice cube in a whiskey glass.

Now stop looking at me. No, I'm not crying.

(Oh, and I've confirmed that I named my Suze-based Negroni variation "Citrine".)

Tonight's Negroni #1: Make it a double (it saves the trip back to the kitchen)

FYI: This is an archive of my Tonight's Negroni email newsletter.

I'll go ahead and live up to the name of the newsletter for the inaugural missive and feature a proper Negroni:

  1. Add two king size ice cubes to a large rocks glass.
  2. Measure each ingredient into the glass. (I pour them in the above order because it helps keep my little measuring cup from getting sticky.)
  3. Give it a stir.
  4. I don't bother with a garnish, because why ruin a whole piece of citrus for one drink? But, if you like, add an orange twist (OR: a single dash of orange bitters, unstirred).

Why is the Negroni the darling cocktail of bartenders and booze aficionados? (Trust me it is. Anthony Bourdain, when asked what his go-to drink was, answered something along the lines of "A Negroni if I'm in a good mood, otherwise whiskey." Ever since I read that, I have dubbed the Negroni "my happy drink".) 

It has several positive attributes (at least in the eyes of those two groups mentioned above):

  • It's an easy mix. Even proportions are next to unheard of in the cocktail world. If you've ever had too many to mix another, you might almost be dead.
  • It's an acquired taste. You really have to develop a booze-tasting palate to appreciate bitter liqueurs like Campari. 
  • It offers room for interpretation. Even with the 1:1:1 recipe, the Negroni can be a totally different depending on the gin you use or the vermouth. (For the record: Campari is non-negotiable if you are calling the drink a "Negroni". Other ingredients call for a new name. See: the Bijou with Chartreuse, and my version using Suze that I think I called "Citrine".)

In light of that last point, this Negroni features:

  1. A gin from the illustrious Tuthilltown distillery that features alcohol made with apples picked in upstate New York and an interesting botanical mix. It's light and a bit fruity. They call it "a smoother and rounder gin" and I rather agree. Plus it has a tall ship printed on the (1 liter!) bottle.
  2. A warm and spicy sweet vermouth from California that is quite complex on its own.

The end result has a welcoming front-end with that classic Campari bitterness at the end. Towards the end, when the ice is well-melted, the finish is largely medicinal.

Might need another... (Just a single this time, though, right? Am I right?!)