Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rob Roy

Yet another Scotch drink. This one I like ok. It certainly warms the stomach, a nice thing on a cold rainy October night like tonight. The bitters really come through in this drink. The sweet vermouth merely serves to sweeten the drink, I can hardly taste the vermouth flavor.

A classic 19th Century drink that can vary from sweet, through perfect and on into dry, our version is sweet.

I'm also very excited because we just inherited a few actual cocktail glasses (pictured) in which to serve these, rather then the little tumblers I was using before. Since I have the glass to use, we chose to mix with ice, and strain into the cocktail glass instead of serving it on the rocks. A truly authentic experience?

1 1/2 oz Scotch
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
Dash of bitters

Serve over ice in a rocks glass or shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass garnish with a cherry.

For the record. Maraschino cherries are gross, and whoever invented them (who strangely enough is from my husbands home town, the nearby college town of Corvallis, OR) should be shot.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Name Change Trauma

I agree with the general consensus that the world seems to have that a family should share a family name. It gives a sense of coherence and it sends a message to the rest of the world that the family is a unit. So, my family should have a family name, which we all share.

Within the context of our society and culture (being that I am not myself a famous person, or someone who has an established professional identity associated with a particular name) I also accept the premise that if my name is different then my husband’s, or my eventual children's, there might be assumptions about the status of our marriage, or whether the kids are 'my kids' (which is silly because actual maternity is such a small part of relationship with children that gives that sense of ownership and responsibility). It will be easier, in my life, if my last name is the same as my husband, I accept that.

This is where things get tough. I accept that I live in a largely paternal society that recognizes the 'man' as the 'leader', and for that reason, the woman in typical relationships gives up her old family name, and takes her husband's name, symbolizing her leaving the house of her father, and entering the house of her husband (yea, riiight).

In my particular state and county there are two 'default' name changes options when you get your marriage certificate. One is to simply remove the maiden name, and add the husband's last name. So, rather then be Ruth Elizabeth Ames, I would become Ruth Elizabeth Langstraat. The second option (we're so forward thinking here) is to hyphenate both names, so I would be Ruth Elizabeth Ames-Langstraat, or Langstraat-Ames.

I personally think hyphenated names are silly, cumbersome and confusing. I understand that some people like them, but what happens when Ms. Splonskowski-McDonald marries Mr. Milenowitch-Martinelli? Mr. & Mrs. Splonskowski-Martinelli-McDonald-Milenowitch? We break into choruses of bad children's songs the loop indefinitely.

I am also gratuitously, substantially and irrevocably attached to my maiden name. So what's a girl to do?

Because we were travelling internationally immediately after our nuptials, and didn't want to deal with it, we chose (with little advisement) to forgo my name change at the time, and deal with it later, when I could choose an option that better suited my needs. I finally settled on adding Ames as a middle name. This is a common and even old fashioned choice, as evidenced by my conservative friend's Catholic mother, who did the very same thing. So I would be Ruth Elizabeth Ames Langstraat. Simple, right?

There is trauma associated with the change of name. I don't know that I could have stomached giving Ames up completely, had Luke pressed the issue, I may have freaked out, called the whole thing off. Despite the fact that getting married doesn't change nearly enough as the Wedding Industrial Complex, or the romance films would have you thing, changing your name, and essentially deleting an aspect of your name (the ultimate symbol of our identity) is like deleting an aspect of that identity. And to be less philosophical about it, I've been Ruth Ames for 25 years and I rather like her! (My husband adds, he likes her too, but he also likes Ruth Langstraat).

It was with this social injustice (or perhaps that's too strong a word, social unfairness?), and anticipated trauma that I approached the Lane County Circuit Court on Wednesday with the purpose of changing my name.

Can I just say, I understand why lawyers and judges dress up so much? Short of wearing a power suit and heels, I don't think anything could have overcome the overwhelming feeling of sleazy-ness and criminal disapproval that I felt going into the courthouse, the security took longer then it does at our local airport, the direction was confusing, I had to take off my shoes, and despite the fact that everyone there was polite and respectful, I couldn't help but feel as if they suspected me of some crime. They wouldn't even let me take my knitting into the courthouse!

We approached the front desk, only to be informed that they didn't sell the forms here, I had to go to a stationary store a few blocks away and purchase them. A mere five minutes after the haranguing experience through security we were out and walking down the street. At this point the mere apprehension of the process had escalated to alternating fury, frustration, fear and grief. I was neither polite, nor calm, though the walk to the store helped, marginally.

A few minutes later, $12.50 poorer, we returned to the court house, went through the same security protocol (this time, since we were pro's we expected it to be quicker, but the line was longer so it took it's good sweet time). We headed to information again, which directed us to a series of windows with glass there, to protect the clerks. After the woman helped walk me through the forms and watched me sign them, and took $150 of our dollars, we were informed that the forms need to be posted for 15 days, in case anyone objected. Then I could return to attend my hearing at 8:30 in the morning on a Friday, yes missing potential work, to verify that all was well, and then after paying yet another fee, perhaps then I could have my new name.

Talk about making me feel like a criminal for bucking the trend. I mean I wasn't changing my name to Captain Awesome (yes, that was an actual posting on the board!), or Sunshine Starfish, or Pearly Gates or Adolf Hitler or something weird, offensive or outlandish, I just want to keep my identity as part of my name! And yet, here that process was as effectively criminalized as if they'd put me in handcuffs.

Ok, I may be exaggerating on that one, but an already traumatic experience of letting go of an aspect of my identity was exacerbated into panic, and anger by a difficult and expensive process (not helped by the fact that the clerk thought I was a divorcee for some reason! "No," I said, "I'm going the other direction!")

After we were finished, and headed off to run other errands, a bit of psychological reverie also revealed to me that my husband’s excitement over my name change had also made things worse. He was so excited for us to share a name that he didn't realize that some of his excitement was translated into pressure from my perspective.

When all is said in done, it really isn't a big deal. And really, it should be difficult to change your name, the government has valid reasons to keep track of those things, and valid reasons to have those things reviewed by a judge, but the trauma I experienced indicates to me that the attitude about women changing their name, and the options that they are given is outdated. If I simply want to hold on to my old identity, while adding my new family name, I should be able to do that without going through the same difficult (and expensive) process that Ms. Flowers Rainbow Patchouli does. And I don't know if it's a feminist issue, for sure the assumption that the woman changes her name, not the man is. But with the relative common-ness of non-traditional name change practices, perhaps the process in Lane County deserves an update.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


For the record. I really don't feel like doing this tonight. But, we opened the champagne yesterday, and if we don't drink it soon, it won't be much good, and the weekend it packed, so tonight it is, we tried the Bellini. This is the first drink that I knew for sure, I'd like. And sure enough I do. It's sweet and girly, and light, with just a hint of sour. But, it's also not terribly interesting. It's expected. However a nice shake up on the mimosa, and definitely a pick for a girly day at the spa or something similar.

1 1/2 oz peach juice

Pour peach juice into a champagne flute, fill glass with champagne and garnish with a peach slice (we skipped the garnish)
For the record, my husband, who hates champagne actually really liked this drink! Approved by all of us, room mate included!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Black Velvet

I am shocked. We have two champagne cocktails right next to each other in the book, the first is this one, and at first glance, my immediate thought was EW. To be honest, I haven't had much opportunity to drink champagne when it wasn't first mixed with orange juice, (a clear first choice for ladies drinking before noon.) However, I was pleasantly surprised by this slightly sweet, full bodied, but light cocktail. The heaviness of the Guinness is well balanced and lightened, and I could definitely drink several of these. Safely the best of both worlds I think!

1 oz Guinnes or other stout
3 oz champagne

Pour Guinness carefully into chilled flute, without creating foam, top with champagne.

I totally fail at the floating thing, turns out you're supposed to let it slip, like a black and lace instead of black and tan. However, I think I still get the main experience. Interesting to note that this drink was invented in order to mourn the death of Prince Albert in the late 19th Century.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

American Beauty-almost

Finally, a drink I like! This one is named for it's color, which is a rosy pink when all is said and done. It's very sweet, I think in the future I'll make it with less grenadine. The one thing that makes this not quite so awesome is that in our book, the port isn't listed with the otheringredients, so when I did my liquor store trip last week, I didn't buy any.

So this is American Beauty, minus the port, which we'll have to get some of later, since I
definitely plan to have this drink again. At first I was a bit weirded out by the fact that this drink includes mint and orange juice, but the mint is such a tiny amount that the orange and mint blend and compliment each to give it a bit of tang, without being sour. No pucker lips here.

1/2 oz. brandy
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/4 tsp. white creme de menthe (flavor wise, green might work, but it would ruin the coloring)
1/2 oz. grenadine
1/2 oz fresh orange juice
dash of port (excluded this time)

Shake ingredients well with ice, strain into chilled glass. Finish with port.
I did some online browsing, and this drink can be garnished with a rose petal. I can't decide if I like that, or not, but in the mean time I do like this drink!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Ick. Can I just say, I still don't like whiskey. I tend to really like drinks made with pineapple juice so I thought maybe this would be different, but I was wrong.

It's not as bad as whiskey and tonic or some other awful things I've had (whiskey shots!) where the whiskey flavor is over bearing and just takes over your mouth, the pineapple does sweeten it, and vermouth takes the burn off. But in general, the overwhelming flavor is that of the whiskey, which I simply don't like.

Can I also say that I really hate maraschino cherries? Talk about overly processed and sickeningly sweet. With a drink like this I'm not entirely sure what the point of such garnish is anyways. Do you eat the cherry while taking a drink? Should the flavors mix? Is it like some type of chaser? We didn't have toothpicks, so my cherry is sitting at the bottom of my glass, knocking about until I finish the drink.

One thing I CAN say about this drink is it has a kick. If you like the taste of whiskey this drink would probably go down real smooth. The alcohol taste isn't real strong, though the flavor of the whiskey is. Even so, I'm already feeling the fuzzyness in my head, and I'm barely halfway through my glass.

2 oz. rye or blended whiskey
1 oz. dry vermouth
1 oz. pineapple juice

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

I think it's also fair to say that the more I drink this, the more I like it. Now I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad sign.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Affinity Cocktail

Cocktail one in our little black book gave us a bit of a whirl. Neither of us like Whiskey, or Vermouth much for that matter. So for the first (and second, as you'll see) drinks of the book to contain both of those ingredients set us a bit off. But biting the bullet so to speak I went ahead and got some mid-range (I think?) whiskey and scotch.

This is supposed to be a winter drink, for before dinner (according to some website a google search revealed to me) and I can see where they're going with that. I like it more then I thought I would, it's a little bit sweet, but it cuts through that to those sour taste buds and really makes you salivate. The aftertaste is light and pleasant, and oder nice, and the orange bitters ads a touch of citrus that makes the sourness tolerable to me as I typically don't prefer sour drinks.

1 oz Scotch
3/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes orange bitters

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into chilled cocktail class

I can see why this simple drink is a classic.

From A-Z

You may or may not have heard of a goal making movement called (among other things) 101 in 1001. The basic premise is that you make a bunch of goals, big, small, silly, serious... (101, in fact) and try and complete them in 1001 days. I did this by myself a few years ago with success somewhere in the 60% completion area. Not bad, considering how much a person changes between the ages of 20 and 23.

Luke and I have decided that we want to make our own goals as a couple. This has been complicated somewhat by the fact that all goals have to in some way apply to both of us together, not an individual, and Luke wants all goals to have quantifiable, measurable success, not something where you wait until the end of the time period, and reflect qualitatively whether or now the goal was achieved or not.

Well, one of our goals is now to try every cocktail in our bar book, as systematically as possible. Our bar book is The Little Black Book of Cocktails, and we're starting at the beginning, and working our way forward, as much as possible. So today I went grocery shopping and also made a trip to the local liquor store. I came home with:
Dry Vermouth
Sweet Vermouth
Orange Bitters
Rye Whiskey
Pineapple Juice
Creme de Menthe
Peach Juice

...and our room mate is getting Champagne.

Let the tasting begin!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Flashback - First Crush

After not thinking of him for... years probably, I dreamed rather suddenly of the very first guy I was ever 'in love with'. I was 12, he was too, he was blonde, freckled, spoke his mind, and had a fabulous voice. He was a mormon, and so his excuse for not dating me, when I asked, was that his religion said he couldn't date until he was 16, so I quietly bided my time with other passing crushes, while the years passed. I'm not sure if he ever would have dated me, (I was seeing someone else by the time he turned 16, but just barely). But in the passing time he'd become more agressive, less interested in school, and less interested in music. He seemed angry, but I think it was just a teenage boy thing. Even though I was perfectly satisfied with my boyfriend at the time, I always had a soft place in my heart for this guy, and wanted to see him do well, and spend some time with him.

In light of his sudden reappearance in my subconscious, I looked him up on Facebook and he looks great. The most recent pictures of him are from his brothers wedding and he seems happy. His most recent update, from about a month ago, says that he's leaving Facebook and planning on deleting his profile, including his email should anyone want to contact him.

I'm not sure if I do, or not. What little Facebook-stalking I could do indicated he is still very devoted to his Mormonism, and I'm not sure that he's be interested in hearing from an old high school flame. I have little doubt that my fondness for him throughout my adolescence was never really returned, although he did seem to respect me. But even if I don't ever email him. It's nice to see that he seems to be well.