The balls you want in your CROWN ROYAL RESERVE

Whaaat, my fellow inebriates? You say you don’t want balls in your Canadian whisky?

Well, you might want balls in your Canadian whisky if they were THESE balls.

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That’s right, my fellow inebriates! Giant balls of ice!

My dad brought home these spherical ice moulds for my mum’s birthday a while back. At first she was very ungrateful, not having ever expressed a wish for such things, but after experiencing them in a rock glass of CROWN ROYAL RESERVE Canadian rye whisky, she repented of her birthday brattiness and agreed that Dad had found a good thing.

20170118_2008191Now, whether you should add ice to your whisky in the first place is its own controversy. If your whisk(e)y is cask-strength OR cheap and nasty, you need no excuse. But what about a reasonably nice rye whisky like CROWN ROYAL RESERVE? Purists might urge you to drink it neat—all the better to fully experience it. And adding water (not ice) can actually help release flavours in a good whisk(e)y that might not otherwise come out, by breaking the surface tension of the drink and creating a reaction that releases aromas. But ice? That’s where purist and drinkers like my mum diverge.

Adding ice to whisk(e)y isn’t unforgivable, but it does limit the “nose.” If you have a very high-quality beverage, purists will urge you very strongly to forgo the ice. But if you, like the dwellers of LBHQ, are on a soul-destroying budget, well, you’re gonna want to add ice your wretched but affordable swill.

crown-royal-reserveSo how did a thing like CROWN ROYAL RESERVE enter our house? Not for donkey’s years has my mother purchased a rye that didn’t come in a plastic bottle.

It was my Uncle J (who doesn’t know I call him that) who brought this delightful premium version of CROWN ROYAL to LBHQ. In kneejerk fashion, we got out the ice (and the Coca Cola in Uncle J’s case) and went to town on the bottle. While we can’t report what it tastes like neat, we nonetheless detected CROWN ROYAL RESERVE’s notes of maple and caramel, its smoothness and its balance. What it lacks in complexity it makes up for with its well-behaved sippability. All of us went back for a second belt, and my mum crunched her ice into nothing.

Which is probably why Dad bought her the ice balls. When you have a mouthful of screaming dental work as my dad does, listening to your wife of 13 years crunch the shit out of the ice in her CROWN ROYAL RESERVE must make you want to call a lawyer. Hats off to my dad for taking the high road and buying her ice balls instead, underappreciated though they were initially.

A few warnings about these very large balls:

You have to be smart about how you put them in your drink.

RULE ONE: Ice first. You cannot pour your rye and then chuck one of these balls in. You’ll lose your rye. And yes, Mum tried it.

20170116_1959091RULE TWO: Be careful. These are big honking balls. Even if your rock glass is empty, you mustn’t drop them in or you’ll risk breaking the glass. And yes, Mum tried that too. (Run hot water over the spherical ice mould to loosen the ice ball, take off the ice-mould lid, put the glass upside down over the mould and then flip it right-side-up with the iceball pressed against the bottom of the glass. Voila!

RULE THREE: Knowing that you can’t put your booze in the glass first, if you’re concerned about measuring that booze, you won’t be able to use the iceball-filled glass as a visual measure for your pour-line—at least not until you get used to having big balls in your glass. Grab a jigger so you can measure your booze and then pour it onto the ice.

And if you don’t want to measure, that’s fine too. No car keys, though, my fellow inebriates! Stay home and keep pouring CROWN ROYAL RESERVE over the ice until it melts. Your balls will stay with you all night long.

ASTROLIQUOR for May 17–23, already in progress!

Okay, MFI, your Booze Horoscope has gone totally off the rails. I pleaded with my typist to dump the paid work in favor of this, your guide to the week’s alcohol consumption. But you try reasoning with either of my parents. So here’s a quickie. (Sometimes a quickie is a good thing.)

Aries:

I haven’t seen Snapple at the store in a long time, but the stars want you to get some Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple and liquor it up with Malibu. You’re welcome.

Taurus:

The stars think you should combine gin and vodka (it’s a travesty, just have gin) with 7-Up, lemon juice, and lime juice. Seriously, just gin.

Gemini:

Butterscotch schnapps and Crown Royal. Everyone has those on hand, right?

Cancer:

You get something elaborate to keep you busy. And it will be an appetizing grey-blue if you shake it up correctly: 3 oz Raspberry Stolichnaya, 10 oz margarita mix, 2 oz Blue Curacao, and 2 oz creme de cassis. It will look gross but get you shitfaced.

Leo:

You need a nice hot laced coffee. Pour in some brandy, all the kinds of rum you have, plus froufrou stuff like cinnamon sticks and brown sugar. Yum. You are definitely not going in to work.

Virgo:

Party, party…Midori Melon, Cointreau, vodka, and whatever citrus juice-type things you can rastle up.

Libra:

Absolut. That is all, unless you want to add some lemon.

Scorpio:

Three things: Aftershock Cinnamon, rum, and triple sec. Copious quantities. If it’s too shocking, add some soda.

Sagittarius:

Got some cherry vodka? Shake it with some sloe gin, dry vermouth, and optional pineapple juice. Who needs juice anyway?

Capricorn:

Aha, Southern Comfort rears its ugly head in your star chart. Equal parts sloe gin and amaretto…ahhhh!

Aquarius:

What to do with something as unpalatable and corrosive as Coca-Cola? Why, add Jack Daniel’s and Wild Turkey of course.

Pisces:

Hypnotiq…we have never purchased this at LBHQ, to my great chagrin. The stars command equal parts Hypnotiq and Sprite, plus a report to LBHQ of whatever shenanigans ensue.

ASTROLIQUOR for March 29 to April 4—What the stars say you should drink!

My Fellow Inebriates,

Here’s your booze horoscope:

Aries, watch out Monday—your relationship status may change. Maybe your significant other will chuck all your stuff out the window. Maybe you’ll just remember to check “It’s Complicated” on Facebook or whatever. The stars don’t have a clue; their whole business is to make baseless, inflammatory predictions. And to suggest inflammatory drinks—try two shots of Bacardi 151 with some sort of godforsaken energy drink and you’re on your way. Who knows? This drink may be the catalyst for your relationship change.

Taurus, long-term and/or romantic relationships come under the microscope this week. Issues of loyalty, trust, and respect rear their terribly serious heads, and you may just need to escape into the bottle. Expect some embarrassing outbursts (probably from you); these could take the form of verbal outrages, or even physical diarrhea in a public place. Whoa! A delicate week, Taurus…treat yourself to some cognac and an enema kit.

Charisma is your middle name this week, Gemini, so put yourself out there. Expect lewd invitations on Monday (if you have a partner, try to make sure he/she is included). Unless you avoid human contact, you’ll find yourself in a romantic triangle—maybe even a quadrangle or other troublesome polygon jumpstarted by the combination of Ketel One Vodka and Jagermeister. Later in the week, you might find yourself left out of a will. (OMG! Who died? The stars don’t know that bit.)

Cancer, your home life looks stable and comfortable this week. You’re well rested, with energy on the rise, and no confrontations in sight. Okay, well…on Tuesday you’ll notice a minor f#ck-up you made at work and hasten to cover it up—successfully. All good, but you’ll feel some residual paranoia. Start collecting Brownie points. You got it—you’re the designated driver.

Leo, work-related emails or financial paperwork will seem extra-complicated this week, a logical consequence of a flask kept perpetually full of Cachaca. Try to add up receipts twice rather than once—let’s face it, you are one messed-up kid with some very blotto brain cells, and you shouldn’t really be at work. But new projects keep coming! OMG, Leo, this is not the time to be drunk. But of course you are.

This week you feel oppressed, Virgo. Not normally one to bitch about “The Man,” this week you let loose with some paranoid shit about business managers, bankers, and authority figures. You’ll impute a politics to your workplace that doesn’t even exist. Everybody else is trying to get their crap done, and you’re staring at the wall, muttering. You’re gonna get fired anyway, so pour yourself a Coke & Bitters. Drink it openly.

Libra, a close relationship will demand some TLC on Monday. Emotions run high until Thursday, when you’ll collapse from the strain of hand-holding and pour yourself a tumbler of Jim Beam. You’ll get a brief impulse to light it on fire first, but this is madness. You need every molecule of that alcohol. Needy friends may be a pain in the ass, but sometimes they turn around and buy a round later. Hang in there.

You’ll give up on waiting for an answer from a romantic interest, Scorpio, issuing in five weeks of uncomplicated joy completely unsullied by emotional expectations. And that’s not all. Between Tuesday and Thursday a rare business opportunity will present itself; the son of the deposed leader of Nigeria wants your help with a high-level transaction. Make sure you get in on this. If not, why not visit some sports betting sites? You’ve got the mojo this week. Pour some Kahlua and Bailey’s.

Sagittarius, the business emails will hit you so fast this week that your poor brain cells will be crying “uncle.” You’ll be scrambling to keep up with short-term tasks—blind to long-term ones. That’s what comes of including Captain Morgan, Malibu, Bacardi, and dark rum in your breakfast. Especially for Sagittarians born in December, this week will be nuts. Avoid social commitments for at least 14 days (yay! you get to drink alone).

Family and home take center stage this week, Capricorn. Loved ones will make requests for Martha Stewart–inspired home improvements and concoctions. Partners will hit you up for more intimacy. Insecure members will lean on you for emotional support. In short, you are all things to all people. But don’t ignore your own concerns. The stars are worried that if you don’t make a minimum payment on that maxed credit card, you won’t be able to buy triple sec for those Martha-style drinks.

Aquarius, relationships will be confusing early in the week (actually, everything will, because your brain will marinate in Crown Royal over the weekend). In your more lucid moments, though, you’ll realize that friends are more weirdo than usual. They will pick fights with each other. Do not try to intervene! On Wednesday you’ll have an important chance to make a good impression, and you don’t want to show up with a black eye.

Pisces, recent business or financial decisions will come back to haunt you. An ambitious business venture may well have gone to shit, and the principals are becoming confrontational. If this sounds scary, it is, but no more than usual for Pisces. Dampen your fears with some light rum. By Friday you’ll figure out what to do.