I knew it was morning when I felt the sunshine scratching at my eyelids. Without thinking I slowly peeled them open and squinted around the room, everything looked different from my angle on the floor! It took a second for the pain in my head to register with my brain, but when it did it was something I can only imagine a sledgehammer to the skull feels like.
Gingerly I lifted myself off the floor, my weight had doubled overnight and my wrists strained. I instantly regretted it! My arms gave way and my head thumped back down onto the carpet. I curled into the foetal position, shaking and shivering. Their I lay, motionless, wearing last nights clothes, with a dry tongue chomping on a mouth that felt like a sandpit! I began gently sobbing into the shag below me.
My date from the night before was long gone, not that I could have stomached her kiss anyway. Only her empty bottle lay on the floor. My Russian lady had shown me the time of my life and although my recollection was cloudy, she had left me with memories that I can't shake, even now. 17 years or so later, and I think I am ready to give Vodka another chance!
Being 18, with a legal ID, is an amazing thing! Being 18 and playing the big man is the part that lets it all down! Beer was like an elixir! Alco pops were a sugary buzz givers that kept the party going, but spirits were the big boys drink, the holy grail! And I, in hindsight should have left well alone! You see, most folk don't go out and buy a Ferrari the day they get their driving license! Yet, that's pretty much what I did.
Time heals & age brings wisdom! So now is the time to make peace with vodka. While researching another article in Mid 2015, I caught an ad for a new locally crafted premium Vodka. Billed as Irelands first Potato distilled vodka, well In Ireland we love Booze and we are known to be fond of a spud or two. Intrigued I tracked a bottle down.
Vodka is used in many drinks and cocktails, unfortunately I gave up after trying other brands of this spirit with only two mixers, Coke and Red Bull (both in the same night)! So as I wasn't sure how best to enjoy Ruby Blue, I had to seek some advice. Who better to consult than the Companies top Woman. How cool is it to get advice from the Boss of the company!! A brief twitter conversation with Barbara Hughes advised keeping it simple, lemonade and a slice of lime, unless I wanted to drink it the Russian way. "Take a sip and swirl it round your mouth to coat cheeks, you'll get the creaminess that comes from the potato distillation". The words of the top lady herself on how to drink her vodka straight!
Pouring a shot of vodka, filled me with dread. I put my nose to the glass expecting to recoil, but I didn't. Weighing in at 40% ABV (80 proof), it certainly had a strong presence but I wasn't put off. Jumping in I took a sip and followed the Bosses advice. It was just as she said. It filled my mouth with warmth and fire, the creamy finish was as they advertise. Smooth, very smooth! The heat lingered in my mouth as I let it sink down. Their was no flashback, no horror!
I was pleased initially, pleased with myself that is. I thought it was me, that I had matured. I was now a connoisseur of spirits, after almost 20 years, I had conquered Vodka and bettered my Russian Mistress. Of course, this Is Irish Vodka, maybe the problem was with the drink! I had sickened myself on cheap, or cheaper stuff back then. I had splashed out on Premium product and was reaping the rewards. I finished my shot and savoured it. The heat in my cheeks spreading to my extremities. While I couldn't quite mix with coke, I went with Lemonade and a slice of lime. 2 big Ice cubes and a quick stir! Incredible
RubyBlue Potato Vodka. Ireland’s First Potato Distilled Vodka, Smooth ultra Pure Vodka with subtle notes of vanilla and crisp apple. Buttery & well-rounded with just a little earthiness. Perfect for those that like to enjoy Vodka Neat but also an excellent base for cocktails! That's the official blurb from www.Rubybluevodka.com
Launched in the Summer of 2015, by Stuart and Barbara Hughes. This Lisburn based Craft Distillery (established in 2010) has wasted no time in becoming a much talked about local export. Stocked almost immediately by some giant retailers and present in a number of top restaurants, Ruby Blue Vodka joins an already established line of whole berry and Irish grin spirit liqueurs.
A limited run, 700 bottles, of Ruby Blue Cask Aged Vodka was released in late 2015. We managed to get bottle number 500 (thanks guys) This vodka was kept for four months in Bourbon barrels, giving it a unique colour. We gifted this bottle to a friend for Christmas, which was possibly overly generous. We are waiting for an invite to go taste some, patiently waiting..
Ruby Blue is immense. So good that it brought me back to Vodka! You get what you pay for, so the bottles of Smirnoff in the LiquorJunky bar will be kept for visitors and family! This one isn't for sharing, in fact I might try to source another bottle of Cask Finished and gift it to myself.
Sunday, the seventh day, the Sabbath. It’s the day we set aside, even in this busy World, for family and friends, rest and relaxation. A day most anticipate for a multitude of reasons. It is set aside mainly for Worship, when the only accepted task is eating and drinking! In our World of Technology and convenience, it is now possible to Worship almost every day of the week. Sunday retains a special place in our hearts!
Sunday’s had, I will admit, lost some of their shine lately. But as time moves on, I am beginning to look forward. I can feel the anticipation and excitement building again! I count the sleeps, the days and hours. I am almost there! You see Instinct tells me that the Altar has been repainted, readied and is raring to go. So as I awaken this Sunday, Shower and put on my best clothes, I know I am ever closer to the glory, because my friends, Super Sunday is back on Sky Sports.
After months of waiting and even with an International Tournament to bridge the gap, the drought is finally over. Not only is the Football season back! (I mean Soccer, to avoid confusion) The F.A Premier league is back! The greatest Soccer league in the world, set in the home of football! I should point out that the English National Team are no reflection on the quality of the Premier League. One is World renowned and the other is, well, just ask anyone from Iceland!
You see the LiquorJunky bar is primarily about Booze. However Booze doesn't cut it on its own, the atmosphere is made with the addition of two important ingredients! One is Music, which we will talk about another day and the other of course, is Sport! Now we're not fussy on what we watch, Beer makes even cricket seem fun! In fact Baseball, which lets face it, is grown men playing professional Rounder's, can seem exciting when missing the ball means taking a drink! N.B - Dear USA, we love ya, but you cant have a "World Series" when only two countries are involved.
Sunday's from Mid August provide us with a full day of Soccer, American Football and eventually the odd game of Rugby! Heck, we would even watch cricket if it was on! In fact Its damn lucky we worship in our own bar, as there isn't much time left for any Churches!
These are the teams we follow at the Bar! Its not an exhaustive list as we believe in supporting whoever is playing and welcome supporters of all and sundry! So don't unfollow us because we are Manc's or we because we live In the Steeler Nation. Remember, regardless of the team, sport brings people together! To drink
You may think the direction of this blog has gone south today, but this short piece is merely to acknowledge the months of sporting beer drinking excuses lying ahead. It's far to important not to mark it in some small way
We will resume normal service tomorrow
Two days ago, while cleaning the LiquorJunky beer fridge, I came across 9 cans of perfectly chilled Guinness. It wasn't so much a startling discovery, as I knew they were in there, what did puzzle me was how I overlooked these little beauties for so long.
Obviously I remember buying them, that happened last December, on the pre Christmas stock up.. Like the bottle of Baileys, that if the mother in law doesn't drink, goes unopened and eventually dumped, Guinness is a must have for the festive period. But unlike the Irish cream Liqueur (which is still on the shelf) The Black stuff is always a firm favourite. So It's a head scratcher why it went unloved and was only "found" the day before they hit their Best Before day!
"It should be noted that I am thoroughly ashamed of myself, especially as I was born and bred in Ireland, 2 hours away from St Jame's Gate Brewery!! I haven't been able to look in the mirror since I realised my frankly criminal indiscretion.. I'm surprised that actions like this don't amount to a fine and public shaming here in Ireland"
In an effort to save this liquor from having to suffer the indignity of being enjoyed afters it BBE! I quickly moved around some family plans and stood up Mrs LJ! (The Guinness hangover is cured quicker with huffy silence anyhow!) I made time for Arthur, quality time with a whispered apology on every sip. You see, I love Guinness, its an acquired taste that I acquired a long time ago, but for some reason it is one of those drinks that I ignore for months, before finally indulging, only to question why it had been so long.
So as I carefully and patiently poured that perfect pint of black from its Widgeted home, I got to thinking about my first time! The right of passage that comes from an Irishman having their first pint of Guinness! I can almost take you back with me, to the Bellvue Arms Pub on Belfast's Antrim Road, probably circa 1999! Winter or Spring of 99, I know this only as I was barred in the latter part of 1999, wrongly I might add, for allegedly dancing on table while drunk!! Excuse me, the accusation of that alone offends me! I have never danced in Bar
Anyway, for anyone who has ever been there, first pint not the aforementioned bar, you will be familiar with the anticipation and the initial taste of, well of nothing that has ever come before it. They, whoever they are, say that its like a meal in a glass. Well lets debunk that myth, this isn't a revelation, but your first taste of Guinness wont include a portion of spuds, some pie and a piece of Broccoli. Its smooth, cool and surprisingly good for you, loaded with Iron and antioxidant compounds! A 20 ounce pint is loaded with 210 calories, compare that with 150 calories found in a 20 ounce serving of milk!!
The head sticks around for most of the pint, and the acquired taste hits you straight up! Perfectly paired with some smoked salmon, for a little decadence. It also goes well with a roaring fire and that Aran jumper my granny knitted me in 1985, though now its a little snug, to the point I can really only use it as a hand warmer! Apologies, anyone outside Ireland you may need to fire "Aran Jumper" into Google.
Its impressively moreish, but for some reason it always makes me need to pee twice as much as a pint of beer (laying it all out there) and that's before we broach the subject of the infamous Guinness Hangover!
The upshot of my discovery was two fold! Not only did I get a days peace to nurse my hangover, but I also rediscovered something I had never really forgotten about, but clearly had drifted away from. Thanks to the classic Irish summer, the weather conditions right now are perfect for pouring another pint or two, a cold pint of home that can warm you up like central heating! Now that is Irish.
Sadly the pump below is only for theming! How cool would it be if it worked
A few interesting footnotes about Arthur Guinness and his world wide Porter!
Apparently the folks in Africa love the stuff, supping some 40% of the Worlds supply.
Yes, they really did create the Guinness Book of records, in the 1950's
The black stuff isn't actually black, its a dark red! hold it up to the light to see!
We love it so much we had an entire day dedicated to Arthur Guinness, at 1759hrs on a pre determined date in September, fans hold a pint up in toast "to Arthur" This was actually a company created marketing event which has now been discontinued! I for one still observe it.
The Guinness Brewery in Dublin is a very popular tourist attraction. It is home to the Gravity Bar, perched high above the facility, which I imagine is the best pint of Guinness you will ever taste is poured from. I actually went to the Brewery once, Mrs LJ and I were on a hop on hop off bus tour of Dublin, the Brewery obviously a big selling point of that excursion. Its an amazing place, historic and grand! Well the perimeter wall is, we never got off the bus, so I cant go into anymore detail. I can however give a detailed report on the Primark store on O'Connell Street! Women!!
So now we have revisited an old friend! If for some reason you have never tried it, I urge you to give it a go! My only advice though, If you want a pint on Draught, you need to come to Ireland. Anywhere else and it just isn't the same