Archive for the ‘Top __ List’ Category


In Literature and Other Works of the Pen, Top __ List on October 14, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Sometimes I spend too much of my free time watching tv… I feel my brain reducing in size, my vernacular reducing in quality, and my ignorance mounting… Sadly, the most I’ve read as of late is the back of my cereal box, and the most I’ve learned out of it is that I consume way too much sugar in the mornings.

1. The Great Gatsby
2. Catcher in the Rye
3. On the Road


HOW TO BE A BOOZEHOUND – 6 liquors you should try and get to know

In Food & Drink, Top __ List on October 7, 2009 at 4:13 am

Unlike your average college kid, I have never been partial to beer, simply because my stomach and my tastebuds are quite adverse to it. I much preferred the likes of hard spirits and dark spirits. Since I was a child, we had a bar in the house (hailing from my father’s bachelor days), which was complete with all sorts of liquor. As a neat party-trick, I would stand at the bar and help the hired bartenders with their orders for our house parties. The guests would “oooh” and “aah” and exclaim “how sweet”. There was something so cute about a kid, knowing how to pour a drink and know what a “jigger” meant. Today, it is essential to know your liquors in our globalized world of corporate parties, networking, and socializing. It is no longer an indicator of good class or breeding. It is an indicator of knowledge.

The other night, I witnessed a happy-go-lucky bartender crack an egg into the foreign-sounding drink that I had ordered. With fear in my eyes, and salmonella on my mind, I was eventually coaxed into trying it. And it was amazing.

So instead of turning to your regular corner-store variety vodka/bourbon/rum/tequila, venture out of the box and try something out of the ordinary. If you are still drinking like you are in college (ie drinking alcohol that tastes like perfume,) this is the list for you. Step away from that bottle of Wild Turkey, and try something new…




This is a pretty common beverage that we all know of, but do not appreciate enough. We commonly use amaretto in baking and in cocktails (ie Amaretto Sour). This is an Italian drink, the name of which loosely translates into “somewhat bitter”. The drink is almond flavored, but it can be made using almond pits and apricot pits. Amaretto is often associated with “desserts” and is a beautiful and rich liquor to consume.

PAIR WITH: cold weather, sweet mixers, after a hearty meal, with coffee, and a big smile


With Jagermeister being the ultimate symbol for frat parties, underaged drinking, and college-life, Barenjager is a classy alternative. It’s name translates to “bear hunter”, as it is a honey-infused liquor with orange-blossom and woodsy undertones. It dates back to the 1400s, and allegedly originates in Prussia, though the honey used in this drink hails from Mexico. Barenjager is 70% proof and $23 a bottle.

PAIR WITH: autumn nights, cider, apples, and a nice wood-burning fire,


Chambord hails from France, and hails back to the 17th century when monarchs used to drink it. This liquor is mainly associated with raspberries, but that flavor is infused with blackberries, Madagascar vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey and cognac. Chambord is too sickeningly sweet to be served on its own. Chambord can be used to update the classic cocktails such as Manhattans, Daiquiris, and Margaritas. If you were to shoot Chambord, you might as well just drink a shot of caramel. It is often paired with a creamy or milky mixer, or a very acidic mixer to balance out the sweetness. If you are at a bar, ask your local bartender about a Peanut Butter and Jelly shot. It is very sticky, so if you are playing bartender at home, I would recommend that you be very weary.

PAIR WITH: brie and other such creamy cheeses, lavish surroundings, a royal state of mind


Cachaça, pronounced “ka-SHA-sah”, this is a Portuguese liquor made from fresh sugarcane juice. A national symbol of Brazilian life and culture, with 1.5 billion liters is consumed annually by throngs of obviously very drunk Brazilians. This is always used in the world-famous Brazilian cocktail, “Caiperinha”. (Some bars try to get away with using vodka or rum in a Caiperinha, do not be fooled. It is not a Caiperinha without cachaca) Today, cachaca can go anywhere between $15-400 a bottle, as there are different grades based on age and whether they are wood-infused (aged in wooden barrels). Cachaca is light and goes down smoothly, but do not be fooled. Even for a heavyweight drinker such as myself, two cachaca-based cocktails can get your head spinning and your speech slurring.

PAIR WITH: jazz-infused samba music, summer nights, tropical colors, and acidic mixers.


Hailing from the South of Italy, this liquor channels island living, hot Mediterranean nights, and ocean breezes. It is traditionally served as an after-dinner drink in chilled glasses. Made from the extracts of lemon zests as well as syrup, the product of this is a bright yellow liquid that can easily be made at home. Most bartenders appreciate this liquor as it provides the lemon flavor without the sourness or bitterness of a lemon. These days, this drink is most appreciated by celebrities and are quickly becoming a standard on menus across the world.

PAIR WITH: warm sticky afternoons, lots and lots of ice, mint, and sorbets


A few years ago, one of my friends from a state “party school” raved to me about Goldschlager. It is a cinnamon based liquor, that is a bit of a novelty since it contains 24-carat gold flakes. This tradition dates back to the 1850’s Californian gold rush. The gold flakes in Goldschlager were rumored (amongst uncultured college kids, no doubt) to cut the insides of your throat, stomach to allow for the alcohol to directly enter your bloodstream. This is not true. Furthermore, there is only approximately 0.1 grams of gold in a bottle… Not something you would quit your job over. Essentially this is a mild cinnamon schnapps that originates from Switzerland and is often associated with wealth, luxury, and excess. There are other variations of gold-infused drinks. Japanese people drink sake with gold flakes on New Years. “Kuromatsu Hakushika Gold Yamada Nishiki Sake” costs $30 per 720 ml bottle. Furthermore, a gold-flakes vodka has also been released, going for $60 a bottle.

PAIRED WITH: celebrations, luxury, parties, old fashioned fun


1. Jagermeister – it was originally marketed as a medicinal product… Well enough said, because it tastes like cough syrup. I am mainly opposed to Jager because I consumed too many Jagerbombs in my early college days… That, and it tastes downright awful (which is why people choose to “bomb it” as opposed to shooting it straight)
2. Chartreuse – I detest herbal based liquor (ie Jager), especially ones that are anise based (ie Sambuca, Ouzo). I hate that this is quite spicy, and the smell of this is so strong, I can smell It from across the bar when it is being poured; some even compare it to hair-tonic.
3. Sambuca – black or white, I don’t discriminate when discriminating against the likes of this alcohol.
4. Ouzo – I hate the anise-taste of ouzo, but I did read that mixing it with cola destroys the taste of anise so I might not write it off so quickly

TOP 6 HAPPY PLACES (escapism at its very best)

In Top __ List, Travel on September 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Gen Y is a generation characterized by anxiety and depression… These days, outlooks and perspectives aren’t what it used to be… The 50’s was characterized by the white picket fence mentality. The 60s was characterized by the love and peace mentality. The 70s was characterized by the lets make love mentality. It all felt so carefree.

Today, we’re advised by so-called new age gurus to meditate and do yoga. Well, fuck yoga, Tibetan monk chanting, buddha, and all that… I use cigarettes to ease my stress. A) The nicotine gives me my fix and B) In the five minutes that it takes to suck one back, I just think of my happy place…


1. the plaza hotel

(Or any five star hotel for that matter). I used to love reading Eloise at the Plaza. I would marvel at the pictures and imagine myself in Eloise’s shoes. Fifteen years later, I still dream of the Plaza. The white fluffy robes, chocolates on your pillow, and the feeling of slipping in between the sheets of a perfectly made bed. The giant lobby makes you feel like Alice in Wonderland, and people are always coming and going. The best thing is about hotels is that you’ll always feel at home. These days there are all types of hotels (including cave hotels, underwater hotels, seven star hotels). The amount of happy places are endless.

2. alaskan cruise

There is nothing like an icy wind permeating your skin – down to the very core of your bones- to make you feel alive. The untouched and untamed scenery surrounds you, and you feel lulled into a dream-like state because it all just seems too unreal to be true… As if you walked straight into a postcard-picture and you would never want to leave.

3. the ice hotel (sweden)

(Combining the concept of number one and two). So, P Diddy is famous for his white parties. There is something about an all white room that seems so clean, so pure, so ethereal… Built every year at the start of winter, the ice hotel is just that… It is white, crisp, and you will feel like you are in heaven. The architecture is something to be said, as you would feel like you were living in a Bond film. The thought of being surrounded in perfectly crafted walls of snow is exhilarating. The fact that the hotel is located 200 kms above the Arctic Circle, isolated from society is oddly comforting and relaxing. Unlike the ice, your worries just melt away…

4. ikea

There is something to be said for the neatly designed model-kitchens, model-living rooms, and model-bathrooms. It is the perfect clean home and life that is never lived (unless you have an obsessive compulsive disorder, or have the privilege of dating a person who is OCD). In reality, we do not always come home to a house where everything is neatly organized and all the picture frames aesthetically match with your sofa that matches with the bookcase (all of which are called names that you cannot even pronounce). There will usually be a huge mess, people you might not be able to tolerate (ie a husband), and you never get the feeling that you are living in a perfect world. Ikea is our generation’s white picket fence. I envied Mark Goes to Ikea. He was living the dream.

5. cities where no one knows my name

Sometimes I imagine the cobbled streets of a little Southern French village, or I picture myself in Tokyo – lost amongst the sea of bustling people, neon lights, and sounds of an unfamiliar tongue. Sometimes I wonder why ScarJo was so lonely in Lost in Translation… Whatever city it may be, it is the anonymity that I seek. The fact that you do not have to answer to anyone, and the fact that you do not have to answer to your own name. You can assume any identity, assume a new lifestyle. A city where no one knows your name lets you be who you truly want to be.

6. a treehouse

Did you ever read “Swiss Family Robinson”, or ever remember when you were a little kid, and you would climb trees and attempt to build treehouses on the little younglings in your backyard? Well someone made yours and my dreams come true. This is taking nature to a whole new level (pun intended), and we all know that nature is quite relaxing. A German company is pioneering the way of treehouse-building. Some guys even took it to another level and built an invisible tree house hotel… That is isolation at its purest, though that doesn’t guarantee that the squirrels and birds will keep their distance.

When I am Not Sucking Down on A Cigarette: Now, when I am not sucking down on a cigarette. I go to the “Architecture” section of The It just makes me happy to see those perfectly constructed, beautifully designed homes