Author Archives: phil

Speaking of Jamaica Blue Mountain

Because I couldn’t resist making a little extra for my own consumption and let other people have a taste, I have made a few 375ml bottles of Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) available on the site. Yes, I know, they are painfully expensive bottles but so are the beans. Here’s a JBM testimonial from Test Subject Hansen on an entirely new (to me) use of BBotE:

On weekends I frequent a cigar lounge in Maryland.  (I live in extreme north Virginia; Maryland’s just a hop away.)  Maryland recently enacted a law banning alcohol from cigar lounges, so I was struggling to find a good replacement for my usual Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or.  I discovered that Jamaican Blue BBotE can create a really complex flavor profile if you pair it with the right smoke — you need something that’s full-bodied enough to have a strong flavor profile, but not something so strong that it’ll overwhelm your taste buds and make it difficult to enjoy the Black Blood of the Earth.  Good cigars: Four Kicks, Guillermo Toro, Tatuaje, Macanudo Real Reserve.

As an added bonus, the remaining BBotE Sampler Pack II orders for this pre-order window ending on April 26th will get vials of JBM in there.

In other news, New York City has it’s old BBotE Ambassador back. Wish expressed a desire to resume her role, and the attendant caffeine privileges that comes with, and I happily welcomed her back. She’s putting together requests for a case now, so if you’re out there and want to pick something up from her, now is the time to drop her a line. As always, the BBotE Ambassadors and their contact info can be found here.

Last, but not least, I must again harp on the fact that the next pre-order window (ending May 17th) is going to be a long one with as much production in it as I possibly can do. After that, I head out on a month long road trip, and there will be no BBotE production at all until mid-June.  Don’t worry, this message warning you to order early in the pre-order window will repeat. And, as a reminder, the dates on the pre-order windows mean “Ships No Later Than”, not “Ships On” or “Ships After”. You will likely get your BBotE much earlier than that date.

Congo, Special Requests and Vacation Reminder

Some astute Test Subjects paying attention to the website have noticed a new variety appear in the radio buttons for selection. Others have asked “WAIT A MINUTE, WHAT’S THIS? HOW CAN I GET MORE OF THIS?” when they found it as one of the capricious whim vials in their Sampler Set II. Well, now you can, Congo Kivu is available.

I grabbed the Congo in my continuing interest in the coffees of the East African Rift Valley as a sampling of the higher, wetter eastern side of the southern Rift. It’s also a matter of sorrow at the loss of one of my chosen coffees from the Rwandan side of the Rift to resuming/ongoing violence in the region. Attempts to maintain coffee farming are one of the few industries that are friendly to women in the region, and the Rising International co-op that was able to provide me these beans are collecting a premium to make sure to support that industry. Instead of, say, gold and tantalum blood mining in the region for example. I’m willing to do some good in the interest of deliciousness, sure.

And oh, it is delicious. The baking chocolate of the Rwandan Abakundakawa is there, but rather than the brut champagne dryness there is a very fruity, dry Sangiovese red wine flavor, possibly plum wine, with a some long staying power on the palate. With vodka addition, the wine like character grew even stronger. In the words of Test Subject Zitron, “It’s a keeper. Make that a regular for as long as you can.” And so I will. Get it while it’s there.

I had another person with a Sampler II notice that their special vial was Jamaican Blue Mountain and wanted to know how why this is listed nowhere on the site. That was actually the remainder of a very special, NOT AT ALL CHEAP request from which there were a couple extra vials from the run that people got near Christmas. In general, I am willing to do custom request BBotE for people if it fits in the larger production schedule, you’re willing to make an order for at least 3L of BBotE to make it worth doing the batch, and are also willing to pay premium prices. For example, Jamaican Blue Mountain was a bit more than double the normal price, but I’m told the resulting BBotE was worth dipping cigars instead of cognac. On a somewhat less classy end, I’ve cranked out a couple dozen liters of Dunkin Donuts BBotE because people asked and I hate saying no to glistening eyes and quivering lips of  those seeking the caffeine of their youth. All you need to do is drop me an email and ask.

As a reminder, the April 26th BBotE pre-order slots are up. The final pre-order slots before my vacation will go up after that and they’ll close on May 21st. Then there will be nothing until production resumes on June 15th after Cross-Country Road Trip 2014 ends. I’ll try to make as much BBotE as I possibly can so that I don’t leave anyone high and dry; in fact, feel free to place an order now with “delay shipment until mid-May” if you like. 

Nevada Test Site Cocktails

These both come to me from retiree workers at the Nevada Test Site who were there when we were still “stamping our feet”.  Some vocabulary review is necessary:

Mercury, NV was the ghost town inside the Nevada Test Site that was taken over by DOE and the military. It’s about as nice as you could imagine a pre-1950s middle of nowhere desert town subsequently attacked by military aesthetics and architecture to be. These days, with staffing levels dramatically reduced, it’s effectively a ghost town again.

A “shot”, in Atomic Energy Commission/Department of Defense/Department of Energy parlance, refers to a nuclear test, as opposed to NASA where this refers to a vehicle launch.

The Nevada Test Site was formerly known as the Nevada Proving Grounds.

The Proving Grounds Test Shot
1 part whatever juice mix (usually military Bug Juice) or soda type item the Mercury commissary has available
1 part spectroscopic grade (99.999%) ethanol
Mix with ice, if available, in a large container, serve in shotglasses stolen from a Vegas casino or commissary coffee cups (whichever is handy)

Safety recommendation: DO NOT serve in Dixie cups.  The wax melts in the heat and dissolves with alcohol that strong.

Frenchman’s Flat Martini (be sure to bring ingredients in a cooler)
4 parts gin
1 part dry vermouth
Crush desert sage and drop leaves into the drink
Mix with ice in a shaker, serve in a martini glass in the presence of a nuclear device to be detonated within the next 24 hours.

Etiquette Recommendation:
The device is a member of the team as well.  Team members should toast the device by clinking their glass against it.

Safety Recommendation:
DO NOT drink from that side of the glass.
DO NOT use desert sage collected within the Nevada Test Site.

Impending Service Interruption

HLARF!

Perhaps the only thing the Lovely Assistant wants less than writing her dissertation.

BBotE and Stein of Science production has been ticking along nicely while I try to stay out of the Lovely Assistant’s way as her PhD draws to a close. There are few states more delicate than someone in the home stretch of their dissertation and thus are desperate to do anything that isn’t that. If there is one thing more distracting than the cats, the internet, cats on the internet, and herself, it’s me. I’ve been over here in the corner quietly making coffee, drinking beer, and playing with uranium. Don’t mind me.

But in late May you all should be aware that there will be a three week BBotE and stein drought when Cross-Country Road Trip 2014 takes place. The final pre-order slots before vacation will close on May 21st and then there will nothing until production resumes on June 15th. In that last window before departure, I will try to make as much BBotE as I possibly can so that I don’t leave anyone high and dry; in fact, feel free to place an order now with “delay shipment until mid-May” if you like. I will permit ordering while I am slowly driving my way back to California, but the coffee engines will obviously be idle while I’m away, so nothing can ship until I get back.

“WHY ARE YOU DRIVING ACROSS AMERICA AND SPENDING THREE WEEKS NOT MAKING ME ULTRACOFFEE!!!?!?!?” you might ask. Well, the short answer is that it isn’t entirely a trip of pleasure. I’m wrapping up the last of my dad’s affairs after his unexpected passing last October and that means a trip to the mountains of South Carolina. Keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter (more likely) for my usual blithering streams of words, pictures and nerdery. I expect to be drinking a great deal of beer from across our fair land in my stein…at least, in the counties and parishes that aren’t dry.

Really, c’mon people. The 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition a long time ago. I know many of your counties and municipalities got into the Prohibition movement decades before the 18th Amendment passed, but it’s time to move on and explore how well you can ferment your local agriculture.

You have been warned.

Cocktail Challenge: The Water of Life

As regular visitors to the blog side of Funranium Labs and my long suffering friends know, I am a fan of the works of Frank Herbert, particularly his Dune series. When other people were diving into fantasy as children with C.S. Lewis and Tolkein, I was reading up on the rise of Islam, pre-Islamic polytheism in Arabia, the Umayyad Caliphate, and geologic terms I needed to even try to get a grounding on all the things Dune was throwing at me. Trust me, this is relevant.

EXHIBIT 1: Jen's birthday cake top.

EXHIBIT 1: Jen’s birthday cake.

This weekend is my friend Jen’s birthday. Jen has hit that very special stage in life where she has looked around and said, “Fuck you world, I am having the birthday party I always wanted when I was 12, except now there will be booze too.” I applaud this moment where a person realizes her dreams and also realizes she has both the means and the skills to make them a reality. You see, Jen really, really, REALLY likes Robocop. As evidence, I submit to you her birthday cake top. For her birthday party, Jen will also have a tastefully arranged exhibit of items that anybody may take, provided they pay her back for for each item. This art installation will be called “Things I Have Bought For A Dollar“.

And then a conversation happened. This is how these things start.

Me: If I were to do your Robocop birthday, but for me, everyone would need stillsuits. Because Dune.
Me: It would be a pub crawl without rhythm.
Me: I may need to create a series of Dune related cocktails.
Jen: Plz call one the Water of Life
Jen: Plz also call one Relcaimed Water, and make it with Pocari Sweat
Me: The problem Jen, and there is one, is that the Water of Life practically invites me to use blue curacao.
Jen: Why is that a problem? That is not a problem.
Me: I will have to work hard to mute the orange flavor.
Jen: Oh. Well. It is the Water of Life. Ain’t it supposed to be tangy?
Me: And cause the Agony.
Me: I’m gonna go make this RIGHT NOW.
Jen: oh no. Phil. I care about you, man. plz don’t do that.
Me: TOO LATE

Exhibit 2: The Water of Life - assembling the ingredients

Exhibit 2: The Water of Life – assembling the ingredients

And that’s how this cocktail happened. First, the line up of ingredients that spoke to me as all of these should be in the Water of Life. One of the things that Frank Herbert harps on in Dune is that the spice melange tastes different every time you taste it. That as you have changed in the flow of your life, so too does the flavor of spice. This demands a wide variety of herbal flavors, the alcoholic equivalent of throwing your entire spice rack in a glass. Luckily, I have just the things for that. Also, the end product has to be blue.

Exhibit 3: The Water of Life

Exhibit 3: The Water of Life

My mix was as follows, stirred with ice:

1 part Botanivore Gin
1 part St. George Spirits Absinthe
1 part Canton ginger liqueur
1 part green Chartreuse
1.5 parts cinnamon schnapps
1.5 parts blue curacao

I chose the ingredients I did to give the greatest chance of an incredibly complex and evolving flavor, particularly the Botanivor gin and absinthe from St. George Spirits and chartreuse. The cinnamon schnapps is there as Herbert is always quite clear that the primary flavor of melange is cinnamon. I was unable to add BBotE because that would screw up the color. Also, it was 11:30pm when I did this.

The Lovely Assistant’s official review: “This is not nearly as horrifying as I thought it would be looking at the bottles you lined up. You have no right as a bartender to make all those things taste acceptable together.”

Please note that “acceptable” is a far cry from “good”, but it is nowhere even remotely close to the worst cocktails I’ve had/made. On the 1 to 10 scale, it’s probably a 6; an amusing stunt drink, but not one that I would drink regularly and I have no idea what food I’d eat with it. The cinnamon schnapps and blue curacao conspire to make it cloyingly sweet at times. The really bizarre thing was I had succeeded in making the eternally changing flavor. The palate is looooooong. Sometimes it started with anise, sometimes cinnamon, sometimes juniper, sometimes sage and then it kept changing on the tongue. Perhaps this is because taste buds or brain cells were dying one by one.

Really, this is all just an elaborate excuse to get you all to listen to the the Dune Prologue/Main Title Theme by TOTO.