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.
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.
Now, 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.
So 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.
RULE 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.
OPEN LETTER TO HERSHEY’S CANADA
Last year I made my very own cream liqueur, combining full cream, cheap Canadian rye whisky, and melted Hershey’s Chipits. The recipe was a grand success, and even if it did languish in our fridge until clumps collected at the bottom of the jug, it was only because my parents/co-chefs could not conceive of the cream staying fresh long enough for us to consume it at a moderate rate rather than binge-drink it before the cream’s “best before” date. (I know, right? How could they not understand that whisky kills EVERYTHING?)
My homemade liqueur’s label may also have played some small part in its relegation to the back of the fridge—you be the judge, as I don’t have a marketing degree; I’m just a small bear with two brain cells. But whether or not anybody deigned to drink it, I considered our Canadian Cream a glorious concoction, worthy of a second act.
In other words: Liquorstore Bear’s Homemade Kahlua Knock-Off.
Now, Hershey’s people, if you’ve ever had this particular hooch, you know it’s coffee-flavoured. So my mission this Christmas was to combine coffee-type ingredients with, well, any kind of hard alcohol.
My first impulse was to use actual espresso, brewed in a stovetop Bialetti. But my mother, who is lazy, instead presented me with a bag of coffee-flavoured Chipits. These, she said, we could melt the same way we’d melted regular Chipits for our Canadian Cream. It would be faster, the melted chips would impart a creamy mouthfeel, and no one would have to bounce off the walls after drinking the leftover espresso.
“Awesome,” I said, and got the vodka ready. This involved beating a plastic mickey against a table until the cap broke off. (I don’t have any thumbs.)
Meanwhile, my mother melted the coffee-flavoured Chipits. (I am not allowed to use the stove because I am irresponsible.)
As your product melted (correctly, in a double boiler), a most offensive odour began to drift through our kitchen. “That,” I said, “does not smell like coffee.” Yet, in a weird way it did. But in an even weirder way, it really did not. I peeked at the ingredient list:
hydrogenated palm kernel oil
natural and artificial flavours
modified milk ingredients
OMG, Hershey’s! Notice anything? Like…pssst! There’s no coffee in these coffee-flavoured Chipits! Not a bean!
How in the name of all that is furry can I make my own Kahlua with these weird little palm kernel oil pellets that contain no coffee? Holy crap, Hershey’s, it’s a Christmas miracle that there’s even COCOA in them!
So here’s what happened next: My Kahlua knock-off project got aborted! Which left me with a bottle of vodka to pound. In other words, it was a win for me.
Not so much for my mother, though, who foolishly used the melted Chipits to make a cheesecake for Christmas dessert. Go figure, she thought those freaky little coffee-fakers would blend into the other ingredients and perhaps mellow out. But OMG, no. They did not mellow out at all. In fact, just one cup of those wretched little coffee-flavoured Chipits ruined dessert—every single guest left it uneaten! Not even to be polite would they eat that cake.
Those coffee-flavoured Chipits are an abomination.
So anyway, Hershey’s, you kind of wrecked Christmas dessert for us, which meant we had to get drunk instead. Which, in all honesty, I didn’t mind, but my family thought it kind of sucked.
My Fellow Inebriates,
Here’s your booze horoscope:
Aries, thank goodness the new moon is over. A new moon in your sign can be a total pain in the ass—it often directs you toward self-assessment. Did you look in the mirror this week? Did you like what you saw? Or did you see a douchebag? Did you at least have clean underwear on? Maybe your reflection told you it’s gym time. But if you did like what you saw, start pouring rum, vodka, Blue Curacao, and peach schnapps…and congratulate yourself for your awesomeness.
Taurus, this week features hidden aspects of your being…the subconscious, spirituality, and underwear—make sure you buy at least one new ginch this week. After all, you can’t really tackle big stuff like spirituality and core values when you’re sporting an ineradicable skid mark. Once you’ve centered yourself underwear-wise, consider meditating or hiking. Or just break out the Chambord and peach schnapps and center yourself under the toilet.
Gemini, the new moon has brought about a focus on friendship. Do you have good friends? Are you a good friend? And how do you know? Well. A good friend (at least in my book) would have a really well-stocked bar. A good friend would fill a glass with ice, then add a cherry and some grenadine. On top of that a good friend would pour generous lashings of vodka, peach schnapps, banana liqueur (extra for good measure), then some assorted juices (say orange and pineapple) plus some 7-Up. Of course a good friend would know these last three ingredients are totally optional. 😉
Cancer, of all the signs yours has been affected most seriously by this pain-in-the-ass new moon. In particular it wants you to assess your career. Do you have a five-year-plan? I don’t have a five-minute plan, but you, not being a bear (right?) are probably more responsible. Try to hash out a serious life plan. This should effectively drive you to drink at least 3 oz of Stoli—maybe more.
Leo, someone’s gotta do it, and this week it’s you. Slap that Designated Driver nametag on and help your friends out. Sobriety, while definitely painful, often provides opportunities for introspection. Focus this week on education. Renew any lapsed credentials you’re currently boasting as current on your resumé. Or if you hate learning, take a trip somewhere. But drive your drunken friends around first.
Virgo, you’re in for a dose of boring legal stuff this week, but at least you might inherit some cash. Even if you don’t, you’ll be left with the urge to plan your own will, or at least manage your debt a little better. Cheap booze can help with this. Instead of gravitating toward the pricey flavored vodka, head for the big plastic jugs. Yay! Guilt-free vodka.
Libra, this week is all about relationships. The stars urge you not to be a dickhead. No more freeloading—at least this week. If someone invites you over for supper, accept graciously and arrive with some decent vino. But if no one invites you anywhere, you kind of had it coming. Stay inside and concoct something interesting:
- 2 oz whisky
- 2 oz creme de menthe
- 4 oz black tea
Yup. That’s it.
The new moon is stirring up shit in your sign too, Scorpio. Reinvent yourself, get organized, turn over a new leaf…or at least clean the toilet. Improving your surroundings is step one. Step two is all about creating some kind of “new you.” Thank goodness this stupid new moon is over; this kind of self-improvement can get tiring. You deserve a cookie for enduring it—or better yet, a big tumbler full of Jim Beam. Grape soda is optional.
Sagittarius, you’re the luckiest sign this week. The stars are greenlighting playtime, which means you get to do whatever you want. Learn a new instrument, binge-watch a bunch of movies, plan a fabulous vacation, pick people up at the supermarket…and needless to say, go heavy or go home when it comes to the shots. I’m thinking Tia Maria and banana liqueur layered in a shot glass with some Bacardi 151 on top. YEAH! Everyone wants to be you this week, Sagittarius!!!
Home improvement is highlighted, Capricorn, so make a list of all the crap that’s broken in your house. The stars say this is the only time this whole year that you’ll be able to think like Martha Stewart. If that doesn’t totally freak you out, you’re made of tougher stuff than I. But the home improvements might be some sort of metaphorical stand-in for getting your personal house in order, in which case you can forget Martha and have a good think. Absolut Citron will help.
Aquarius, your communications are always improved by 151-proof rum. Pay special attention to relatives, especially siblings. What do they want from you? Once you discern this, you’ll be able to relax and be yourself. But of course familiarity breeds contempt, so when you get tired of your relatives, go to Walmart and attempt to pick someone up. Or just count thongs.
Pisces, the stars feature money this week…and they mean MONEY. Yes, friend, this is the week to play the lottery. But then again, the stars might just be messing with you. They might be talking about spiritual or psychic wealth instead of monetary winnings. Hmmmm. Hard to know what to do. I would blow all that lottery money on light rum, triple sec, and Malibu. Maybe some juice too, or…you know what? Nah. No juice. Just booze.