12/22/15

¡Viva WFMU!

Santa laid the gift of properly cold weather on us, just for the day, on our annual visit over the river and across the light rail tracks to the fur-lined fallout shelter and Fool’s Paradise with Rex.

Festive is one word you could use for Rex’s annual office party/wild-and-sordid -45-a-thon. While the grease was spread from 1-3:00, the party raged.  Twisting was seen.  The crisp cheezy crackers from chef Coco were wolfed.  The meat pops looked jolly, and with sugar plums, party mix and jillion cookie varieties no one went hungry.

And then ¡Viva Santa!, this year’s holiday cocktail was served.  We have to say it was a fine companion to snacks both salty and sweet.

For the home game:  You’ll need tequila, Strega liquor, a lemon to juice, a cinnamon stick, a chunk of pineapple, and a cocktail cherry. Also a cocktail shaker, a toothpick or cocktail sword type thing, and ice.  Here’s how you do it.

Shake up over ice:

1 1/2 ounce tequila blanco (we used Pueblo Viejo)

3/4 ounce Liquore Strega

1/4 ounce lemon juice

When you’ve got it nice and cold, pour into a chilled cocktail glass. From a cinnamon stick, grate a dusting on top.  And your garnish is a speared cube of pineapple plus a cocktail cherry.  A green sword looks great if you’ve got one.

Notes:
Some fine-tuning may be necessary depending on sweetness of lemons.

Ground cinnamon is not recommended; it can get lumpy.

For those not familiar with Strega, it’s a not-too-sticky-sweet Italian herbal liqueur that somehow has a note of cocoa.  It’s great in cookies and cakes btw.  Most famous is the torta caprese.

Writer Paul Lukas chews the fat with Rex on-air.  Fool’s Paradise general counsel Nancy advises.

 .
  Kathleen was let out of her go-go cage for the holidays.
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 ¡Viva Santa! in its natural habitat.
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Mary surveys the scene and finds it o.k.
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Rex starts the day the Grade “A” Fancy way.
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Miss Philippines  – er, Vicky, receiving gifts as Chris and Gaylord lurk festively in the background.
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A toast:  Feliz Whoop De Doo!

This year's cocktail recipe, all potions of Christmases past, and sundry other meditations on the season and cocktails in general, can be found in the lavishly illustrated booklet we have titled Hark! the Radio Bartender Brings. Don't delay order today!







12/6/15

Holiday Cocktail Replay

From the pages of our new holiday cocktail book, Hark! The Radio Bartender Brings, here is one of our favorites. An early effort—and a tasty one—from 2009, called Tight Before Christmas.



Tight Before Christmas


December 19, 2009


A Gimlet in fir

Our radio host, Rex, is a man of definite tastes. Because his usual cocktail bar nip is a Gimlet, we fashioned this special holiday version with him in mind.

Zirbenz has a beautiful piney scent, and this drink will bring back memories of the time you woke up facedown in the snow with a Christmas tree branch in your mouth. What? Come on, everybody’s done that.
1 ½ ounce Bombay Dry Gin
¾ ounce Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
¼ ounce Rose’s Lime Juice
¼ ounce pear nectar
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.








Get your own copy of Hark! the Radio Bartender Brings by hitting the Buy Now button below. While supplies last!

The holidays will be upon us in no time. So that you receive your copy as quickly as possible we'll send your order by genuine USPS Two-Day Priority Mail. On the drop-down menu you can choose to buy up to four copies at one time, but the affordable shipping rate of $6 per order never changes. Shipping multiple copies won't cost you one thin dime more than an order of one! This is a money saving offer that thrifty gift-givers will not want to pass up.

Order today!  US addresses use the button below.
Worldwide orders, please contact us for shipping info.




Number of copies:


U.S. and Canada

11/27/15

Hark! The Radio Bartender Brings!

It’s that most wonderful time of the year — the hustle-bustle and anticipation as everyone prepares for a very special visitor. Yes, of course we mean The Bartender of the Airwaves, bringing a gleaming new holiday cocktail for all the parched listeners of Fool’s Paradise on radio station WFMU.


Due to popular thirst, NEW for 2015, we’ve collected all our original cocktail recipes in this eyeball-pleasing 44-page booklet, Hark! The Radio Bartender Brings.  This is a lavishly illustrated, ink-papery, real old-fashioned book we’re talking about, none of your digital tat. It tells the tale of the Radio Bartender, provides guidance and counsel to make your holiday cocktail hour merry and bright, and for a bonus, you can get a jump on this year’s Fool’s Paradise cocktail – yep, the recipe’s inside.
 



Stumped for that nonpareil gift this year?

You’ll want a copy for yourself, naturally, but not so fast! This handsome volume may be the answer to your holiday shopping woes. Get it for the bon vivant on your list who’s seen it all, the liquor lover with no stomach for cocktail twee-ness, the art maven, or the connoisseur of small-press books. Buy one to go along with that fake i.d. for your kid brother, one for Dad’s cookbook collection, and one for Mom’s bar.

To purchase Hark! The Radio Bartender Brings via PayPal, click on the Buy Now button below.

The holidays will be upon us in no time. So that you receive your copy as quickly as possible we'll send your order by genuine USPS Two-Day Priority Mail. On the drop-down menu you can choose to buy up to four copies at one time, but the affordable shipping rate of $6 per order never changes. Shipping multiple copies won't cost you one thin dime more than an order of one! This is a money saving offer that thrifty gift-givers will not want to pass up.

Order today!  US addresses use the button below.
Worldwide orders, please contact us for shipping info.


Number of copies:


U.S. and Canada

11/5/15

A Quick One With Texas Guinan

New York City is a boîte boneyard, a nite-spot necropolis, a potter’s field of cabarets, oyster palaces and hotel lounges.

 Some names of past hotspots live on in popular lore — your Stork Club, your El Morocco. But there were so many others, maybe smaller in size and fame, that were at one time just as legendary with a certain clientele. Today they are nearly unknown. The heyday of these storied joints can never be recreated.  Well, if we can’t step inside, let’s loiter outside and toast, in salute to good times past. We may be a little late, but we have time for a quick one.

In today’s installment of A Quick One, A Little Late, we call on Texas Guinan on the anniversary of her death, 82 years ago today. Guinan was one of the most famous and colorful characters of the Prohibition years. That’s really saying something given that the era of the Noble Experiment boasted a splendid trove of interesting characters:  cynical newspapermen, flamboyant gangsters, inventive saloonkeepers, daredevil rumrunners, hot-cha songwriters and tin pan alley tune pluggers, hep musicians, imaginative undercover Feds, exceptional bohemians, and underage chorus girls.

Some of those chorines like Ruby Stevens (Barbara Stanwyck) and Ruby Keeler worked for the most notorious niteclub hostess, Texas Guinan. While the Twenties were roaring, Guinan was always news; reports on her doings -- clubs opening, clubs padlocked, and court and jail appearances were constant fodder for the press. Her greeting of “Hello, Suckers!” shouted at her guests was as ubiquitously popular as Little Orphan Annie.

She hosted clubs through the era, usually partnered with legitimate businessman Larry Fay. Some of her joints: the El Fay, the 300 Club, the Century Club, the Texas Guinan Forty-Eighth Street Club, Salon Royale, Club Argonaut, Club Intime and a roadhouse called Texas Guinan’s Show Palace (later La Casa Guinan), on Merrick Road in Valley Stream.

*      *      *

Mary Lousie Cecilia Guinan grew up in Waco, Texas. She had a career in vaudeville as a showgirl and songster. Beginning in 1917 she featured in silent pictures, cowgirls a specialty, and continued right through to talkies. In 1933, when she appeared in her last movie, she pretty much played herself. All tolled, she had 51 credits to her name. In 1945 Paramount released a posthumous Hollywoodized biopic called “Incendiary Blonde,” starring Betty Hutton.


 We came a-calling on a warm, sunny Halloween afternoon.  Miss Guinan’s final resting spot in Long Island City's Old Calvary Cemetery is literally monumental, but it betrays none of the bawdy hell-raising glamour of the notorious Queen of the Nightclubs.  It’s an elegant crypt, only steps from the noble limestone beehive chapel, a mini Sacré-Coeur built in 1895.

 
We brought along a flask of Corpse Revivers, because, you never can tell.  But did you know? A corpse reviver isn’t a recipe, it’s a category. It is the morning pick-me-up, alternatively known as an eye opener. That’s why you’ll see entirely dissimilar cocktails named Corpse Reviver in your how-to manuals.  We concocted a thermos-full of our favorite formula, a healthful revitalizer known as Corpse Reviver #2.  It’s a shaken gem of gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, Cocchi Americano (stepping in for the extinct Kina Lillet) and absinthe. Our guests for this semi-spooky jaunt were pals Scott and Gabrielle, who thoughtfully supplied a tin of All Soul’s Day cookies, which were the perfect nosh for our spirit-raising mission.

A toast to Texas Guinan,
“Give the little lady great big drink!”



7/9/15

A Quick One At The Krazy Kat Klub

New York City is a boîte boneyard, a nite-spot necropolis, a potter’s field of cabarets, oyster palaces and hotel lounges.

Some names of past hotspots live on in popular lore — your Stork Club, your El Morocco. But there were so many others, maybe smaller in size and fame, that were at one time just as legendary with a certain clientele. Today they are nearly unknown. The heyday of these storied joints can never be recreated. Well, if we can’t step inside, let’s loiter outside and toast, in salute to good times past. We may be a little late, but we have time for a quick one.

Today's Stop: Ye Syne of Ye Krazy Kat


For years Volare has been among our favorite Village restaurants. Food and service are top notch, and the building, at 147 West 4th Street, is overflowing with history. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney began her Studio Club, which would eventually evolve into the Whitney Museum of American Art, in the main and lower floors, John Reed worked on Ten Days That Shook the World here and Edward Hopper had his first solo exhibition at the Club. It housed a later version of the Bohemian hangout Polly Holliday’s restaurant until sometime in the early 1930s when the space became Mother Bertolotti’s.


As enjoyable as the osso bucco and the vitello tonnato, as impeccable as the waiters’ jackets, as lovable as the archetypal Greenwich Village Italian restaurant interior, the incomparable thing about Volare is the art on the walls. Above the booths hang large charcoal and crayon drawings of scantily clad showgirls cavorting with elegantly attired sports. We asked our host about them and he said they were created by a successful Broadway set designer called Cleon Throckmorton.  That’s a name that’s hard to forget. Installed during the Bertolotti era (some are dated 1933), they remained with the restaurant when it became Volare in 1984.


In 1924, fresh out of college in Washington, DC, Throckmorton went to work designing sets for the Provincetown Players, starting with Eugene O’Neill’s Emperor Jones, and dressed many of their productions for several years. Moving to Greenwich Village after that first season was the natural next step. An early commission was his design for the interior of the Cherry Lane Theatre, also in 1924. He soon went on to conquer Broadway.

From the moment he hit the Great White Way, he was apparently kept hopping. His October 25,1965 obituary in the New York Times tells us, “In the nineteen-twenties Mr. Throckmorton became so busy and so prominent that his name, it was said, appeared on Broadway playbills with a frequency exceeded chiefly by the fire commissioner.”


 A fascinating side project and grand amusement was launched in 1928, when he and his buddy, writer Christopher Morley, began staging a series of old-time nineteenth century melodramas, played for satirical laughs, in a dilapidated theater in Hoboken. From the Gay Nineties look of the stage-door Johnnies and chorus girls in his Volare drawings, Throck thoroughly enjoyed the campy charm of Old Broadway. It’s clear these characters knew how to have a ball. Enjoying the wilds of the “last seacoast of Bohemia” meant art projects galore, not only sets and posters but the creation of their own Hoboken Free State with related gewgaws including a flag, city map, and elaborate passports issued to friends and acquaintances. (Fans of Yo La Tengo and other 1980s Hoboken scenesters will relate to these ancient artists on the other side of the Hudson.) There’s a great book about these fun-filled days called Born in a Beer Garden; Or, She Troupes to Conquer: Sundry Ejaculations by Christopher Morley, Cleon Throckmorton and Ogden Nash; And Certain of the Hoboken Ads with a Commentary on Them by Earnest Elmo Caulkins; Embellishments by Edward A. Wilson, George Illian, Cleon Throckmorton, August William Hutaf and Jay.



Cleon Throckmorton, at right, with pals in front of the Krazy Kat Klub. Courtesy Shorpy.com


That’s a little about Mr. Throckmorton. Unsurprisingly, we became fans the moment we clapped eyes on those walls at Volare. From that day we were on the lookout for Throckabilia, so you can imagine our eyes were like saucers when our daily dose of the Shorpy photo blog began to deliver posts featuring the man himself! These photographs date to 1921, Throckmorton’s college days in DC, and show Cleon and friends, decked in Bohemian splendor, at play in and around a speakeasy/nightclub of their own creation called the Krazy Kat Klub (or sometimes Klubb.) Descriptions of the interior mention a riot of gaudy Impressionist and Futurist pictures on the walls, and a clientele of students, artists and atheists. It was one of the very few speakeasies we’ve ever heard of to boast a treehouse out back.


The club was of course named in honor of George Herriman’s masterpiece, the comic strip Krazy Kat. Although the strip lasted from 1913 to 1944, the twenties would have been the height of its popularity, and it is impossible to overstate the impact of Herriman’s creation at that time with highbrow types. Not many daily comics inspired essays from art critics, and even a ballet (1922). The innovative art and surreal story lines had to have had an irresistible appeal for the youthful Throck and his arty pals.

All this vicarious hotcha was well and good, but the spirit of Grade “A” Fancy demanded that one day we would have to track down what remained of this den of frivolity. Recently, finding we had business in the District, we did just that.

The Krazy Kat Klub was housed in a stable down an alley called Green Court, off Thomas Circle. The building is long gone, probably Charleston’d to flinders. The blue building, now a gym, is where it once stood.









But you can get an idea of what it may have looked like from the converted stables across the alley, which currently hosts a gay bar of long standing.


On our return home there was no question but to visit Volare to raise a glass to Cleon Throckmorton, surrounded by his fabulous drawings.

A toast! To Throck and his showgirls, to George Herriman and Krazy Kat, and to all the iconoclasts and flappers, the members of the Klub.