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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.

Dunecember and Indianapolis

First and foremost, I am pleased to announce the new BBotE Ambassador to Indianapolis, Jeremy! And I don’t want to hear people on the coasts complaining about BBotE heading to the Flyover states rather than them. You don’t even know the MIGHTY NEED of the heartland for caffeine; what they lack in population, they make up with enthusiasm.

Jeremy is a brave soul that subjected himself to experimentation to see if BBotE would destroy him, as there were Fuckbrain(TM) medication considerations and the delicate stomach they’d had given him, for he wanted coffee back in his life so badly. I am happy to say that he survived The Harrowing and emerged on the other side faster, harder, and stronger…and as an Ambassador. So, feel free to drop Jeremy a line, IndyBBotE [at] gmail [dot] com. He is stocked with 750ml bottles for your drinking pleasure.

In other news, all of the December 18th pre-order window BBotE shipments are on their way along with all the Steins of Science ordered as of yesterday. New pre-order slots ending January 4th go up today, though any orders placed at this point have only a slim chance of being shipped and arriving before Christmas. There seems to be a bit of confusion as to how pre-order slots work, and it makes me sad that may have torpedoed some folks’ cunning Xmas present plans, so allow me to reiterate:

I can only generate so much BBotE in a given time period. I parcel that production in to pre-order slots to make sure that I can make everything people want and ship it out by the end or that window. Your pre-orders tell me what you would like that production in that window to be. The longer you wait in an pre-order window, the fewer slots that remain as time and other people claim them.

In order to keep myself sane through what, frankly, is a ridiculous level of production over the last several weeks, during brief downtime I have been reading Frank Herbert’s Dune again. I first read this book in the third grade and finished the series quickly, as I did the weird leap from Golden Books and Dr. Seuss to Dune without any intermediary steps. A younger me made it a point to read that entire series, along with all the Hitchhiker’s Guide books, every year and every time I found something new, something else Herbert had hidden in there. Eight year old me found his hero, what I wanted to be, hiding in the chapter headings blurbs of Dune: Pardot Kynes, not Liet, the Imperial planetologist, a character that doesn’t actually appear in the books.

Sometime around when I started working at LLNL back in 2004, I fell off the Dune wagon. The free time to read became scant. But this year, I have collected enough people that had never read Dune, or never gotten beyond the first book, or hadn’t read it in decades that I was willing to shepherd to them and crack the books open again for the first time in a decade. My first and most important observation: the older I get, the more I identify with Duke Leto but Pardot Kynes still holds my heart.

So, as my holiday wish for all who read this, pick up Dune again. In fact, pick up Dune Messiah and Children of Dune too, as the three are meant to be read as a set. It’s intricate, dense, slow read but well worth it. It’s like the puzzle boxes from Hellraiser; Herbert and his wife Beverly (who contributed at least as much to these stories as him) have such sights to show you and you see more every time.

The Decembering 2013 & A Worrisome Cigar Box

Alright, the December 14th pre-order slots are now up. There’s a slightly longer window this time than normal because of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US. I’ll be out of town for a bit engaging in conspicuous consumption of turkey and fine drink, so there’ll be a while when the coffee engines are wound down before the December BBotE begins flowing out in quantity.

As far as steins go, I have a rather large shipment of dewars slated to show up right before Thanksgiving. The number of “steins on hand” should dramatically increase, so keep any eye out there.

Your full holiday purchasing advice for this year can be found in the previous postI do regret to inform you that one of of the BBotE varieties will soon disappear from the selections. Caffe Vita’s Guatemala Nueva Vinas is now done for the season and hopefully will return sometime around next May 2014. I have a still small supply on hand, but as soon as it’s gone, it’s gone.

Now, on to the wonderful worlds of radiation and history.

Two weeks ago, I got to go take a tour of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s “Old Town”, AKA the few remaining buildings that still date back to WWII, as they are preparing to demolish them. Space is at a premium up in the mostly vertical space of LBL, these buildings have seen better days and science needs those scant square feet back to do research again.

Lovely boxeses, but what does it keeps in them, Precious?

Alhambra Casino Cigar Box – Lovely boxeses, but what does it keeps in them, Precious?

The day before we showed up, they had found an Alhambra Casinos cigar box in one of the Old Town buildings. To most people, a cigar box is a curio box, filled with your odd great aunt’s odds and ends from decades back when her first husband smoked a cigar a day after work. To people in my line of work, specifically those of us that have had any time in the nuclear weapons complex or former Manhattan Project sites, a cigar box is a moment for sphincter clenching, reach for the gloves, respirator, radiation meter, and everything needed to secure and dispose of this box as the likely radioactive hazardous waste that it is.

WHY do we react this way? Because Alhambra Casinos were Glenn T. Seaborg’s favorite brand of cigar. In addition to collecting titles as the head of

Box Interior. Note reads "VERY VALUABLE SAMPLE. Do Not Disturb in any way! Sample-J G. T. Seaborg"

Box Interior. Note reads “VERY VALUABLE SAMPLE. Do Not Disturb in any way! Sample-J G. T. Seaborg”

commissions, agencies, departments, and universities like they were Pokemon, Glenn also collected souvenirs of all the places he’d gone, the projects he participated on, and the discoveries made. When you keep in mind that this is the man who rode on a train with the sole sample of plutonium in the world in his possession, his souvenirs get a bit interesting. And what did he always stick them into? One of the ubiquitous cigar boxes lying around his office, home, or hotel room as he never traveled without them and smoked like a chimney.

Smithsonian Modern Physics Exhibit - That's a familiar looking box.

Smithsonian Modern Physics Exhibit – That’s a familiar looking box.

He was a remarkable man that presided over the dawn of the Nuclear Age, but damn if he didn’t leave quite a mess to clean up. In the course of decommissioning his many labs & offices, we’ve found these with plutonium, americium, curium, neptunium, beryllium alloys, reactor graphite, shaped explosives, playing cards signed by nuclear test teams, and much more. At some point we’ll find them all, but he’s been gone for 14 years and they’re still popping up. Sometimes it feels like the Manhattan Project never quite ended.

 

Impending Holidays, Site Changes, and Extensions

As you may have noticed, It is November. This means it’s the time that strikes dread into creative and retail hearts alike as we look around franticly and say “IS IT HIDDEN?! IS IT SAFE!?” Actually, most of us don’t go Full Gandalf but we do start getting worried about disappointing people who wait until the last minute, because we don’t like making people sad. Also, we like money and your desires going unfulfilled means less presents we can buy with our own last minute shopping.

[Several artist friends would like to completely disavow my completely accurate description of their lives. Not because I'm wrong, but because they try not to think about it.]

Because people have requested it (and I would like to try to work on another chunk of my mom’s debt), I will keep doing special runs of the Atomic Robo, Tesladyne “REMAIN CALM, TRUST IN SCIENCE”, and Ineffable Mustachio’d Goat of Science labeled bottles through the end of the year so people can give them as gifts. After I clear the decks on the current orders, I will extend the pre-order slot time horizon on the those listings to mid-December. As always, orders to tend to ship fairly quickly, so you won’t have to wait until then unless you want to.

I’m also going to remove all the individual limited run 750ml bottle listings (i.e. Ipsento Panama, Guatemala Nueva Vinas, Death Wish, Colombia, Peru Salkanty) on the store as they are all now selectable in the drop downs in the normal listings. Of course, those listings included special information relating to flavor characteristics, so I’ve had to add this handy tasting guide for each of the varieties to link to the posts that described them as they first went into production. The tasting guide is something people have been poking me to do for quite a while, so that’s an improvement as well. This cleans up the store page and hopefully makes things a bit less confusing. It does, however, make a lot of broken links in posts. I’ll be cleaning those up for months I’m sure.

Now, a few things you should probably think about if you decide to place an order for a gift from Funranium Labs:

  1. BBotE Is Perishable: When refrigerated, it has a shelf-life of about three months (possibly longer, but I’m only going to quote three).  If you’re going to wrap it up and put it under the tree, this a present to put out on Christmas Eve and the promptly put back in the fridge after unwrapping. Alternatively, embrace the idea of the holiday season and decide that give it to the recipient immediately, for all days are special.
  2. Let People Know BBotE Is Coming: I know part of the joy in presents is the surprise of what you get. However, joy is not the emotion people feel when a bottle of mysterious black liquid shows up on their doorstep, especially if it’s been sitting there for a week outside because they were out of town. Give them a heads up, that something’s coming they’ll want to stick in the fridge. I will also tuck handling instructions in the box and a note stating who sent it if you ask me to.
  3. The pre-order slot dates date are “Ship By”, not “Ships On”. I get your orders out as soon as I can, but even in the furthest flung corner of the US with the slowest mail carrier, this means you should have your order in hand by December 21st for that last set of late order slots. If you want to order something NOW to ship later, in effect reserving a spot in a later order queue, you can do so but please leave a note with your order telling me when you want it to ship by.
  4. Yes, I will probably add a extra more slots as I get a handle on how much I can make at the last minute but shipping gets dicey in those last days before Christmas.
  5. International Shipments Of BBotE Go Out Express Mail: Because I don’t want BBotE to get stuck in postal facilities or customs, express is the only way to ship to minimize their time in bureaucratic hell. Expect it to take 3-5 business days to get to you, so time your orders accordingly to make sure things get to you in time.
  6. APO/FPO: If you wish to send something out to someone with an Armed Forces address, there’s good news and bad news. Good news – it’s no more expensive than priority mail. Bad news – I can’t guarantee any date as to when things will arrive. Outside of active war zones, things move somewhat normally; inside war zones and ships at sea, things get iffy. Also, depending on routing, some nations (I’m looking at you, Turkey) have bounced BBotE on the basis that it is, and I quote, “Morally Questionable Material” because, obviously, any liquid from the West must be alcoholic in nature. In short, I’ll do my best but you’ve been warned.
  7. Local Pick Up: Resupply shipments will go out to all the BBotE Ambassadors as fast as I can crank them out, so be sure to drop them a line if grabbing a bottle that way is convenient for you. I’m sure they’d like clean and empty refrigerators as their Christmas present.
  8. Italy & Brazil: It breaks my heart to say this, I can’t ship to these countries. Italy, I absolutely do not trust your postal system. The level of theft shipping things anywhere south of Rome is, frankly, appalling. If you ask me to ship to Naples, I make absolutely zero guarantee of it arriving. Brazil, your customs causes shipment to languish for so long that the BBotE goes off before it arrives, even if shipped express; steins seem to be fine though.
  9. Steins of Science Have Lead Time Too: The steins are built to order and it sometimes takes a while to get parts in.  Generally, things move much faster and ship within a week but you have now been warned of the possibility of delays.  For some insight into which stein is the best fit for you, I rambled on that a while back. Dewars that are on hand for me to build steins with RIGHT NOW can be found here.
  10. BBotE Production Is First Come, First Served: My maximum daily production output is 12L per day. Thus, people who request 12pk cases will lock up production for an entire day.
  11. There’s No Kosher Or Halal Certification: While Robert Anton Wilson did confer the papacy upon me, and all the other people in the Porter College Dining Hall, this does not permit me to sanctify food.  Sorry.
  12. The 4300mL Stein of Science Is Ridiculously Large: Seriously, BIG.  It will should take an entire pre-game, Super Bowl, and wrap up to go through this much beer.  Or one cricket match. You may think you are a super drankin’ badass, but consider that you may want to drink more often than once a year, so think about a smaller size. I’m just sayin’…

Awesome Product Endorsements

In my previous post, I mentioned that I’d used the Goat labeled 1000ml bottles for fundraising to help make neat projects happen. Well, Laurie Penny decided to write me some rather kind words as an endorsement which I’d like to share here:

“I do not generally endorse products. This time, I’m more than happy to do so. Black Blood of the earth is made by my good friend Phillip Broughton, who got me addicted by giving it to me for free until books happened. It is ultra-distilled yummy supercaffeine. It tastes like espresso. It is not espresso. It is smoother and stronger and deadlier. Coffee beans all over the world are sad because they will never get to be part of it.
Black Blood of the Earth funds have been raised to support various good causes. They were used to get me to Egypt to report on the women’s revolution there, and to get me and Molly Crabapple to Greece to write our book, Discordia. (The substance itself was used to enable me to actually write the damn thing.)
This time, though, the cause is much closer to home. Two weeks ago, Phil’s lovely dad passed away suddenly, and his mother needs help to clear the debts that have suddenly accrued to her as a result of her husband’s passing. I cannot think of a better excuse to encourage the internet to purchase unwise amounts of supercoffee.
Black Blood of the Earth is a) delicious and b) dangerous in the wrong hands. It is what happens when a nuclear physicist decides to run a sideline in supercoffee distribution. It is powerful writerjuice. It can be enjoyed hot, cold and in pintglasses. When you add it to vodka it magically becomes sweet without the need for extra Baileys, but, you know, you can put that in too, thus making a cocktail I like to call the Deadline. 
So, go on, buy a bottle or five. I’d say be careful with the stuff, but fuck it, you’re an adult, and it’s legal, although it probably shouldn’t be.”

never cease to be amused by the interesting names that people give cocktails made with BBotE. I should compile them someday. Thank you, Laurie.

Not long after, Brian Clevinger chimed in with his own remarks. He receives two points for managing to make a RIFTS® reference while doing it:

“Help us help a friend help his mom!

Long time friend of Robo, Dr. Phillip “Phil Me Up” Broughton, has a long and storied career in action science. He is the Officially Unofficial Science Advisor to Team Robo and he stars as “Phil” the guy who is in charge of keeping Robo alive in Vol 6 and Vol 8.

In real life he is an actual radiation safety guy. Which, yes, that’s technically what Homer Simpson did. Or should have been doing but never did. Whichever.

Phil also makes a Super Coffee that he calls Black Blood of the Earth because he is a nerd. He foists it on us at every opportunity. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, It’s Tuesday, whatever. And this stuff has gotten us through some dark nights and looming deadlines. It’s like coffee in the sense that nitrous is like gasoline. Like it is bad for you to drink more than one shot glass of it in 24 hours.

This is the coffee RIFTS(r) Juicers would drink.

And if can be yours. And if you buy some with a special label –the “REMAIN CALM/TRUST IN SCIENCE” Tesladyne gear label or the ROBO BOMB SMASH label — then the proceeds will go toward the very nice cause of helping out his mom.