Thirsty Thursday: Daiquiri Day

Today is National Daiquiri Day! Am I drinking one right now? No. Sorry. I’m not traditionally a rum nor sugary drink fan (well, these days, anyways). Also, for some reason, daiquiris bring up the thought of pineapple, which I’m not the biggest fan of. According to this article from Liquor.com, though, a traditional daiquiri should only consist of light rum, lime juice, and a simple syrup.

Of course, having said all this, I was a fan of Wet Willie’s in Charleston until it closed down. It was one of the places that never ceased to amuse visiting guests (and also challenge how quickly they could drink something without getting brain freeze). They had some excellent concoctions there, but alas, they are no longer in Charleston. (The featured image is from one of those time I took some friends to Wet Willie’s, may it RIP in peace.)

Up until they closed down, I would have sent you there to get a daiquiri (if only for the experience). Now, though, I’m not certain where a great place is in Charleston for one! Maybe Coconut Joe’s? (Admittedly, this is one of my favorite places to go for the rooftop bar alone.) Daiquiris don’t seem to be a big hit in Charleston (which is all the more tragic considering Charleston’s traditional liquor of choice was rum, thanks to all the trade from sugar cane back when it was all still on the peninsula).

There are so many recipes out there to try, too. Starting with the classic recipe from Liquor.com is one option. If you want some flavored varieties to try, though, I think these sound awesome:

Goodness. Now I have a whole list of recipes to try. I should stop doing this to myself.

Lit Tuesday: Tattoos and Hemingway

Last Monday was something of a milestone for me: I got my first tattoo.  My little sister and I got them as birthday presents to each other (just, y’know, five months late since that was the earliest we could get a session with the tattoo artist we picked out–also yes, “birthday” because we have the same birthday but five years apart).

Since we’re both writers, we decided to do something with quills. My tattoo is actually something I’ve had in mind since my junior year of college (when the original Pottermore came out). I’ve loved the design for the Magical Quill since I first saw it and it was too perfect to pair it with “All was well.” (That’s the last sentence in the Harry Potter series.) My little sister’s mirrors the quote and quill, but her quote is more inspired by her love of storms and an original story she’s been working on (but she can tell you more about that on her Tumblr blog).

If you follow me on Instagram, I posted a picture for viewing. And if you aren’t, then follow me or just check out the sidebar on my home page here.

Now, for those who aren’t aware, it’s the start of Hemingway Days in Key West! This year marks the 38th anniversary of the celebration of the author. He spent a lot of time in Key West and wrote several of his novels there (indeed, To Have and Have Not is partially set there and you can read more about my thoughts on it in my post, To Have and Have Not). We went to Key West for our anniversary and one of my favorite things about that trip was seeing the Hemingway Home with all the six-toed cats. I even have a print in my writing room of part of the house.

I want to go back to the Keys for many reasons, but I have to admit going and seeing Hemingway Days in person would be a lot of fun. Alas, the never-ending list of places to go and events to participate in grows yet again.

Thirsty Thursday: Mojito Day

Mojito day was actually yesterday, but I figured I’d write about it today. Mojitos are one of my favorite summertime drinks, but I haven’t actually made a whole lot of them  (or had them too much). Doesn’t make sense for the most part other than the fact that they are loaded with sugar (which I try to avoid). Sugar and I don’t really get along.

Having said that, I did actually make a mojito recently. My mom’s birthday was on July 1st and she had a mojito recipe she wanted to try out. The recipe came with her bottle of Domaine de Canton that she recently bought, so we tried it out! The full recipe is found on the Domaine de Canton website (it’s the Ginger Mojito). It came out with some excellent flavor, but the mouthfeel was a little on the syrupy side for me. The end result is pictured in the featured image. (I tried to be fancy with placing the mint leaf on top of the drinks.)

Somehow I didn’t take a picture, but Nippitaty Distillery does an awesome English Mojito (which is a mojito made with gin instead of rum). Their distillery is worth visiting for that alone. They also have a classic gin and tonic and some sort of a delicious gin and lemonade drink.

I haven’t heard much about places with to-die-for mojitos in Charleston, but I wouldn’t mind going back to HoM (yuzu mojito), the Rooftop at Vendue (which hasn’t steered us wrong yet), and Cane Rhum (which I haven’t been to yet). The thing about Charleston is that there’s no shortage of places to find drinks.

If you have an awesome recipe for a mojito, I’d love to hear it! I have a mint plant that’s pretty happy right now and I fully anticipate trying my hand at making some more of these later this summer (though maybe with some low-carb alternatives). You’ll hear about these if I do.

Funky Friday: Funk Collective 2018

Last Saturday, I went to the Funk Collective sour/wild beer festival with my friend. It was hosted by Revelry Brewing at their brewery in partnership with Birds Fly South Ale Project. According to this article from Charleston City Paper, the Funk Collective got its start after Wicked Weed sold to InBev last May (has it really been a year already?). Wicked Weed hosted the original sour beer festival for the Southeast called the Funkatorium Invitational.

When they sold to InBev, it angered many of the craft beer community because the company has some pretty sketchy practices, including cornering the South African hop market (which is supposedly one reason Wicked Weed sold to them–to get access to these hops), purposefully trying to make Dutch people import their beers, and bribery to officials in India to increase sales there. I know I’ve read before about how they will bribe bar owners to use all InBev taps (here’s a list of their brands and you’ll see how easy it is to fill a bar with only InBev brands), but can’t find the article at the moment.

Anyways, I’m digressing. I’m here to talk about the Funk Collective, but it’s hard not to talk about how the festival (now in its second year) came about. The festival rotates between Birds Fly South (located in Greenville, SC) and Revelry (located here in Charleston, SC). I think, other than Brewvival (RIP), this is the first “exclusive” beer festival with limited tickets that I’ve been to. I always enjoy going to the Festival of Beers held at Joe Riley Stadium, but it’s not a limited ticket event. Funk Collective wasn’t crowded (just crazy hot, but that’s the weather here) and there were over 40 different breweries there, plus the Coastal Showcase of breweries in the Lowcountry and on the coast up on the rooftop deck (which we didn’t even get to). I think I sampled around 40 beers for one simple reason: the people pouring did not fill up our glasses all the way. For this reason alone, I think this is my new favorite festival.

So, I’m a terrible blogger and didn’t take pictures or anything. But I did take notes on my favorite beers and entered them all in Untappd. (I’m getting close to breaking 1,000 unique beers! I’ve been using Untappd since February 2014, so I’m taking my time and enjoying it.) I have 10 beers that I rated at 4 stars or higher (obviously, I really enjoyed them).

If you get a chance to check out any of those, do it! There were so many good beers at Funk Collective, but these really stood out to me. I might have to go again next year. That would at least give me an excuse to go to Greenville.

Lit Tuesday: Akata Witch

Life strikes again. What can you do? Just come back to it and try to keep on keeping on.

So, I finally got around to finishing one of the books out of my Books in Progress post (even if it wasn’t officially in the list): Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. I wound up really enjoying this (African mythology is fascinating!) and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

Sunny is an albino child born in the US to two Nigerian (Igbo, specifically) parents who, after living in the US, decided to return to where they came from. As the book opens, the narrator reveals how Sunny is struggling with being picked on by her classmates, suffering abuse at the hands of her father, and having a hard time adapting to life in her new village–and that’s after she stared into a flame and saw the ending of the world in the dancing light. She has one friend who sticks with her–Orlu. He begins hanging out with her and standing up for her when other children pick on her. He eventually introduces her to Chichi, a child who doesn’t attend their school, but lives in their village. One afternoon, while visiting with Chichi and Orlu, the two work some juju and throw Sunny headfirst into the world of Leopard people. Sunny begins discovering her powers, her destiny, and her ancestry when she and her friends (plus another American who joins their group) are called upon to find and stop notorious Black Hat Otokoto, who has been ritually murdering children under the age of 12.

I admit it took me a little longer to adjust to the narrator style. It evokes a strong sense of oral storytelling, but on paper, which made it a little hard for me to focus on the story at first. But once I adapted to it, I really came to enjoy the story and the growth of the characters as the plot progressed. The different cultures, the different names, the different myths that came up–it was all so awesome and a look into a really under-represented part of the world in general media consumption. I think this is a great book to read if you’re looking for something a little different from the usual Greek/Roman/Western mythology stories out there.

(Featured image lifted from Goodreads since my copy is on my Kindle.)

Thirsty Thursday: National Bourbon Day 2018

Today’s a short post. I did not really prepare well for bourbon day (though I’ll blame the fact that I get paid tomorrow for that). I thought I would share three bourbons that I’ve had that I really enjoyed and one surprising one I did not expect to like. I don’t have tasting notes for most of these or anything because I’m unprepared or tried them at a bar and didn’t take the time to write anything down. I do think I’ll go back and try them again at some point, though, so I have notes for the future and can do an actual review.

  • Henry McKenna 10 Year Bottled-in-Bond – This is a strong bourbon. If you haven’t heard of the term “bottled-in-bond,” The Bourbon Review has a helpful little writeup on it. Basically, it’s a bourbon that comes from one distillery produced in one distilling season by a single distiller, aged at least four years in a government warehouse, and bottled at 100 proof. It’s a phrase that should catch the attention of anyone looking for something on the strong side. I think I had this for the first time at Proof on King Street (which is one of the few whiskey bars in town), so that’s probably why I don’t have notes.
  • Old Forester 1897 Bottled-in-Bond – Yup, another BiB bourbon. It’s also quite stout. I did actually buy a bottle of this and took some notes. The nose was sweet and oaky with a slight shoeshine scent to it. The taste itself was oaky with a slight acid and it was a smooth burn. But let me tell you, you cannot drink a lot of this in one sitting. This is a sipper for sure, but it’s complex and really delivers that “warms you to your bones” burn.

  • Old Forester Statesman – I promise I’m not stuck on one brand. I had this when Miles and I were in Asheville at Casablanca Cigar Bar. I’m fairly certain I already raved about the bartender in my previous post, but he really knew his stuff–I’m fairly certain  he classifies more as a mixologist than a bartender. He recommended Statesman to me after I mentioned having some of the Old Forester BiB previously and he really didn’t steer me wrong. Again, I have no notes, but it left enough of a positive impression that I know I’ll get a bottle of it at some point.

The mixologist actually surprised me with another recommendation: Pikesville Straight Rye. Much like how I am not a big IPA fan, I’m not a huge rye bourbon fan, either. When I said as much to the mixologist, though, he recommended that I try the Pikesville. He hit it out of the park. Other than Rittenhouse (which was still a little rough for me), I haven’t had any other ryes that I enjoyed. I was pleasantly surprised with Pikesville and really enjoyed it.

While I have had some other stupendous whiskeys lately, these are the bourbons that I’ve really enjoyed (that I can afford to buy at some point in the future). There are a couple I have had that are not quite as easy to get a hold of. Happy National Bourbon Day, everyone! Hope you’re all learning about America’s native liquor and picking up some recommendations.

Lit Tuesday: Progress Report

It’s always surprising to me how hard it is to get back into the swing of things after my schedule has been disrupted for some reason. I’m not sure why it’s surprising as I’ve been around the block so many times at this point that I know how it’s going to turn out each time. But, once again, I find myself struggling to get back into writing after a bunch of social engagements that had me choose writing and productivity at work over my writing here and on my stories. I think I have a game plan put together for what I want to do, though, and I’m hoping that writing it up here will help me stay accountable (as my friend over at The Nifty Notebook has been known to say, “speak it into being”–I’m probably paraphrasing, though).

  1. Order of the Elements – This is my fanfiction I’ve been trying to rewrite for the third time. I can’t even say why I hven’t given up on this other than it seems to be something I really want to write. I got 60 pages into the rewrite and patted myself on the back and lost steam. I’m beginning to play the game (Tales of Symphonia) again, so I imagine as I get farther and farther into it, I’ll start getting more ideas on where I want it to go. That’s my problem with the plot now–I have an idea in my head of what I want to happen, but I can’t remember enough of the series to figure out how to make events make sense within the universe. And that is one of the fun challenges of fanfiction–how do you get it to work within the universe the author has already set up? Not everyone chooses to do so, but I find it interesting to see how my take changes things within the known universe of the author/creator.
  2. Utangard – My poor Norse mythology story I have neglected a bit. I should probably try to do some more research on this world to see if that helps me garner some inspiration again. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to wait for inspiration, but doing research always gives me ideas and ways to move forward or points to move forward towards. I should also move all my notes to the computer in addition to the notebook where they’re currently housed, just to be on the safe side. Fun stat: I’m at 53,300 words in one part and 21,900 words in the other part for a grand total of  75,200 words altogether. Awesome.
  3. Post-Apocalyptic story – I think I’m going to call the series The Betelgeuse Chronicles, though I haven’t 100% settled on the title of the first book/part. I have completed that first part, but it’s still in the notebook. I need to start typing it up on the computer to begin my edits and to get it somewhere a little safer than a notebook. I also have some research I should do here and more notes to type up as well. I love the old-fashioned way of doing things, but it’s definitely a better idea to have notes and research and thoughts in more than just a physical location. I have lost an entire story before because it was in a notebook and the notebook disappeared.

I don’t dare start on anything else at this point! These three are more than enough for me to contend with right now on top of blogging. (Oh, that’s something else I need to do. I need to take some time to plan out posts again so I have an idea of what to aim for each month.) It’s all fun, no matter what, so I need to do my best to get back into it.

Thirsty Thursday: Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company

I haven’t been going out and about to too many new places recently (mostly because we’re trying to cut back on our going out). But I did manage to go to a new place: Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company!

The brewery is different from Edmund’s Oast (the restaurant) and Edmund’s Oast Exchange (a taphouse/bierhouse/beer cellar with a floor devoted to wine). Don’t forget that. To thank my older sister and brother-in-law for watching the dogs while we were in Texas recently, we treated them to a round of beers here  (and over at Munkle). I had previously indulged in a couple of EO beers at the Exchange, but this time, I got to try the coveted Sour Concord Grape while I was there (see header image for color). I really enjoyed it! It wasn’t quite as sour as I was looking for, but it was tolerable enough for even the non-sour beer people in our group to enjoy. It was almost like drinking grape juice in terms of flavor–just tarter. The body was lighter than juice, though, and didn’t feel syrupy at all. The rumor is that EOBC will combine this with some other beer of theirs (maybe the Session Confection?) to make a PB&J flavored beer. I’d try a little of that, though I’m not a huge PB&J sort of person.

Side note: if you get a chance to go to the restaurant or the exchange, do it. They have stunning cocktails at the restaurant (seriously–when I was there a couple of months back, I got the Scorched Earth Policy. Straight from the menu: “[rich, dark, brooding] Suntory ‘toki’ whisky, bourbon, cherry heering, burnt orange, bitters”–so good, see picture). The cocktails are not just beautiful, but they taste amazing. And let’s be honest, watching the care that mixologists put into making their drinks is always inspiring.

The Exchange: it’s a gorgeous building and they have a large selection of beers as well as wine. They also offer tastings and classes, which are a lot of fun! I’d like to attend one of their classes on beer, though a sommelier class would be good to improve my knowledge on wine. They certainly seem to have everything covered under the Edmund’s Oast umbrella. Check them out if you get a chance!

Back to the brewing company, though, the outside area is shared with other businesses. The inside is that industrial chic style with pipes and wood and chalk everywhere. It’s nice, but the artwork is what really makes the interior stand out. I should have taken a picture or ten, but I didn’t. Oh, darn, guess I have to go back now (plus, I didn’t get a sticker for my beer journal, so I have to remedy that)!

Lit Tuesday: Books in Progress

As I mentioned last week, I have too many books I’m in the middle of reading or have started and dropped in favor of other books. It’s an unusual problem for me because I’m usually the “only read one book at a time” kind of reader. Because, otherwise, this happens. I have a bunch of books staring at him while I continually get distracted by other books (or fanfiction, which is the problem right now).

  1. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. This one is on my Kindle, which might be part of why I keep forgetting it–since most of the other books I’ve started are physical books, so I have them as a more pressing reminder. Also, this book is good, but way darker than I anticipated, which might be part of why I’m struggling a little with it.
  2. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. In a similar vein to Prince of Thorns, this is good, but a little darker than anticipated. I’m not struggling with this one as much, but I did get distracted.
  3. La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. I started this and got distracted. His Dark Materials is one of my favorite series, though, so I’m really looking forward to reading this one. I just need to stop getting distracted.
  4. The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. I started reading this on the plane ride down to Texas when we recently went. I haven’t gotten too far into it, but when it comes to nonfiction, I tend to read in short bursts and then take a break from it for a while. I’ll finish this one, for sure. It’s fascinating, reading about the botany of the plants used to create alcohol.
  5. Ireland (2017) by DK Eyewitness Travel. Going to Ireland is a big dream of mine. I received this as a gift and I’m using it to try and learn about Ireland before I get over there (even if I’m 70 or something). I read this when I’m especially feeling the travel bug. Again, it’s nonfiction, so I read it in short bursts.
  6. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I’m nearly done with this. I have about a third of the way to go with it. It’s excellent reading and discussion about it with my book club/writing group has been a lot of fun. I just need to finish this.
  7. Introduction to the World’s Major Religions: Hinduism by Stephen Rosen. I started this because I signed up for yoga at the beginning of the year to try and get in shape. I didn’t realize, though, that yoga is actually a religious practice that falls under Hinduism. I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I started trying to do some research. (I have this whole set from when I worked with this book consignment company and I grabbed it because I thought it might be a cool way to learn more about the different major religions in the world if I needed to build a religion for worldbuilding, for a story, and whatnot.)

I’ll admit, I didn’t quite realize that I had that many books I tossed to the side. Time to work my way through them! In a related note, I’m supposed to be reading Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. So that’s another one to add to the list!

Thirsty Thursday: Chucktown Brewdown

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of other posts, we went to a homebrew festival on May 12. Famulari’s Brewpub on James Island turned one and they decided to host a homebrew festival called Chucktown Brewdown to celebrate. The participants brewed a red ale (which I think was voted on by people on Facebook or something) and whoever won that would be able to brew their beer using the production facility on site at the restaurant and sell their beer. There was also a People’s Choice winner, but I don’t think they received the opportunity to brew on-site as well.

It was a fun time, though! There were 32 different brewers there. I know I didn’t get to even half of them, but you never will unless you take a sip and only a sip (or if you’re a judge and know what you’re doing, I suppose). I’m not a huge red ale fan, but I tried a couple of different ones. Here’s a few that I tried (no links since these are homebrews):

  • Frylock Brewing: Goofy Foot. A chocolate graham cracker peanut butter porter weighing in at 7.35%. It was fairly close to Holy City Brewing’s S’mores of the World, but a little lighter in body.
  • Sweet Aslyum Brewing: Shut Up and Take My Money. An amber ale weighing in at 6%. The description was the main reason I tried it: “Brewed with unicorn tears and dry  hopped with Spiderman’s Ashes after Thanos snapped his fingers.” I couldn’t resist at that point because it made me laugh (and also cry inside). I don’t think it especially wowed me, but it was good.
  • Sacred Pines Brewing: Sun Burst. A strawberry lemon blonde weighing in at 5.2%. I think these guys won the popular vote. Very light and only a hint of lemon, really. Refreshing for a hot day like it was.
  • Still Brewing: Megalodon. A red ale weighing in at 8.8%. The guy admitted it was flat and it was. It would have been great otherwise as the flavor was excellent.
  • Coffin Island Brewing: American Amber ESB. An ESB (that’s “extra special bitter”) weighing in at 5.5%. They also convinced me to try their New England IPA that wasn’t as hoppy as I’m used to, so I was pleasantly surprised.
  • No Excuses Brewing: they had both a porter and a red IPA that I loved (of all things). (Also, maybe we made friends with the owner of this, so I’d like to see him get his own company or something going.)
  • I thought I got a picture of this, but Beer Engineer Supply had a (I think) barrel aged Flanders Red that was more on the sour, light side. It was delicious.

The ultimate winner was Paddle Out Brewing. I think I tried a beer of theirs, but I didn’t take a picture of their selection board, so I can’t verify this.

Overall, it was a lot of fun, despite being on the asphalt and having very little shade (and it was hot, let me tell you). I’d go back again, especially since it never got super crowded and everyone was friendly and excited to be there.