Tag Archives: Holidays

Today is Martin Luther King Day

As we all pause today to honor Dr. King’s legacy, it is important to note that some of us honor that legacy by word alone, and not by deed. Hypocrisy and injustice continue today, and for those of us who truly value civil rights and equality, protecting that legacy means guarding against its appropriation by those who would embrace ideals that are in direct opposition to those of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

MLK went to Memphis to support striking workers. He spoke and wrote repeatedly on the lockstep relationship between African Americans and the Labor Movement, and believed that workers’ rights and civil rights are inseparable. Not only are all men created equal, but all men are men. We are all to be accorded dignity, and are all deserving of a living wage, safe and decent working conditions, and the right to call one another brother.

As Republicans today shamelessly attack public employees, oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, attempt to take health care away from millions of citizens, and claim to abhor gun violence while embracing guns, we must remember that the only way to stand with Dr. King is to stand against those who would attack what he spent his life working for.

    “Negroes are almost entirely a working people. There are pitifully few Negro millionaires, and few Negro employers. Our needs are identical with labor’s needs — decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”

    -Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. AFL-CIO Convention, December 1961
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The Chop’s Père Noël Cocktail Recipe

We would have liked to get this up before Christmas, when we were talking last week about ’tis the season for amaretto, but Christmas will sneak up on you quickly… like the Krampus. Anyway, this is the time of year when you seem to see bottles of amaretto floating around everywhere. Since taking that stuff straight is about as enjoyable as drinking maple syrup, you’ve got to know how to mix it if you don’t want that bottle to collect dust and become something of an annual holiday joke.

An obvious choice in dealing with amaretto is cranberry juice, which is very seasonal this time of year and which has the tartness to offset the overly sweet taste of amaretto. Although the folks at DiSaronno and their vaguely ethnic, very homosexual spokesman would have you think differently, cranberry alone is not a suitable mixer for amaretto. Mixing two things that are gross will never make something that is good. It’s going to take a little more mixing to come up with something drinkable. We did a little more mixing, and the result was the Père Noël cocktail.

If it comes out red, it's got too much cranberry in it.

The Chop’s Père Noël Recipe

  • 3 parts bourbon
  • 2 parts amaretto
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 parts cranberry juice

Pour ingredients in that order into a double old-fashioned or highball glass full of ice. Stir once or twice and sip.

It’s important not to use too much juice in this. It’s a cocktail and not a highball or juice mixer. When you get it right, it should taste surprisingly similar to the inside part of a chocolate-covered cherry. (Cherry cordials are one of the Chop’s favorite things about Christmas, by the way.) That said, this drink goes really, really well with dark chocolate, so if you’ve got some lying around after the holidays, mixing up one of these is a great way to complement it after dinner, or if you’re in a diet, instead of dinner.

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Photo and more on amaretto at Liquor Snob.

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The 10 Top Chops of 2010

Well, here we are at the end of the year. The holidays are well nigh and everyone is busy buying gifts, planning parties, eating, drinking, making merry, and of course, looking back and taking stock of the past year.

Yes, looking back and taking stock is one of America’s favorite holiday pastimes, as is screwing around and doing as little work as possible during the holiday season. Now is the time when magazines, TV shows, newspapers, and even bloggers get lazy and flood the world with top 10 lists rather than do any real writing. The Chop is no exception. We’re always trying to stay busy, and also always looking for a good way to fill the blog on a slow day when not much is happening. Like today.

Slowing the office to a crawl and not doing any real work is a holiday tradition in America.

So enjoy our choices for the top 10 non-event posts from our archives throughout our first 13 months or so of existence. And remember, we’re making all this up as we go along, so it can only get better.

10– The Best Bars to Visit After an Orioles Game at Camden Yards We name names on the best places to swill suds after an O’s game. See if your favorite spot made the list.

9–House Rules: How to Make a Polite Introduction It’s rude not to introduce your friends to one another, and not much better to do it half-assed. Here’s a simple guide to get it right every time.

8–Chop Style: Five Good Reasons to Wear a Blazer This Weekend We’re big on blazers and sport coats. You should be too. Here are five good reasons why.

7–The Chop Sorts Out Your Love Life There are some very specific and well-established rules to backing out of a date if you ever want to go on another one. This post explains them in detail. (Text messages are not okay after all…)

6–House Rules: The Chop Approves of Brunch More than a meal, brunch is a lifestyle choice, an institution, and a tradition. We approve of it highly.

5–Chop Style: Guide to Thrift Store Shopping: Part II The second in a two part series that will ensure you walk out of the thrift shop looking more stud and less dud.

4–House Rules: Puking in Public Discusses how to gracefully extract yourself with your dignity from that most ungraceful and undignified of situations.

3–Thoughts on Being a Grown-Up Punk If you’re not going to live fast and die young, you’ve got to do something with the rest of your life. Here’s how to be a 36 year old that your 16 year old self would respect, and maybe even like.

2–Chop Style: Rick Dempsey is the Worst-Dressed Man in Baltimore Our gentle send-up of a Baltimore hero who was a great catcher but perhaps not such a great dresser. Bonus: Look for the comment from Rick’s son, Christian Dempsey.

1–How to Stock a Home Bar, Part 2 Also the second of a 2 part series, this is our guide on how to build up a truly impressive home bar on even a modest income. We strive to avoid the pitfalls of most bar building advice, and give you a real strategy for building a bar you’ll be proud to show off and want to drink from every day.

There you have it Baltimore. The best of the best so far. Check those out if you missed them the first time around, and bookmark them if they’re already old favorites.

Happy Holidays, Choppers. Don’t work too hard, okay?

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The Chop’s Sweet Russian Cocktail Recipe

The holiday season is that time of year when the Amaretto rears its ugly head in homes and hearths from Highlandtown to Upper Park Heights. In cookies, candies, hot chocolate mix, or liqueurs, the stuff is bound up with Christmas just as much as eggnog and greeting cards.

Whether you’re forced to keep a bottle on hand for Aunt Marie, find yourself at a party with off-brand booze, or have the great good fortune to be entertaining a snowbunny with questionable cocktail tastes, it’s helpful to know how to use amaretto.

'Tis the season for amaretto.

This is a cocktail we’ve been calling for occasionally for a few years now. It’s good as an after-dinner drink, nightcap, that sort of thing. It’s as simple as it gets, tastes sweet and smooth, and being all liquor, it’ll knock you down if you’re not careful.

The Sweet Russian

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1 part coffee liqueur
  • a splash of amaretto

Stir in a shaker and serve up or over ice.

Yep. A Black Russian with a splash of amaretto. You’ve got to love a cocktail that you can call for in any bar in America, and make at home with no effort at all. You can even get one at the Chinese restaurant on Christmas night.

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Best Bets: Best Christmas Gifts under $10

Maybe your workplace is doing a secret Santa this year. Maybe you got an invite to a holiday party and want to bring a gift for your hosts (which is proper and good form). Maybe you need something for the mailman or your kid’s teacher or someone else you don’t really care about at all. Maybe you’re just cheap.

Whatever the case may be, we all sometimes need to find gifts that cost as little as possible. Just because you’re not spending much though doesn’t mean you’ve got to give up on good taste. They say it’s the thought that counts, and if you put a little thought into your smallest gifts, you can make them count, too.

Magazine Subscriptions

You’ve probably heard by now that print media is dying, and that iPads and Kindles are the wave of the future. All that aside, light reading is as enjoyable as it ever was. Magazine subscriptions are ridiculously cheap right now, with most running just over the cover price of one issue, and in most cases you can get two full years for around $10. The Chop recommends Esquire, Baltimore Magazine, Interview, W Magazine, The Atlantic, and Juxtapoz. It’s a breeze to order gift subscriptions online, although shipping of the first issue typically does take some time.

Alarm Clock

Ikea is well known for three things: good design, low prices, and shoddy materials. Their DEKAD alarm clock is two of those three things. Made of nothing but glass and steel, it’s as solid as it is stylish. Clean, classic design and a $6 price tag put it right at home in any room. Alternately, their lower level has a ton of housewares, textiles and decor items at budget friendly prices.

Handkerchiefs

A tie may be the default last-minute generic gift idea for men, but a set of handkerchiefs is a fraction of the price, and he’ll probably get more mileage out of them than any tie. This set of Dockers handkerchiefs from Kohls is on sale for $10, and presents well in that cylidrical package which might double to hold pens, change, or whatever.

Christmas Ornaments

A Christmas ornament is another pretty standard go-to gift, but the ones available at Ten Thousand Villages in Fell’s Point are anything but ordinary. This set of three is handmade in China and marked down to the ridiculously low price of $5.00. There are also options from India and Nepal as well as other handmade gifts from all over the world.

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Whether you’re stuffing a stocking, sticking to a budget or treating yourself, any of these gifts will be money well spent. Have you received something inexpensive that made you smile? Come up with the perfect solution for secret Santa, maybe? Post your own economical gift ideas in the comments.

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The Chop’s Holiday Egg Nog Cocktail Recipe

We like egg nog. We’ll make no apologies for that. If you’re one of these people who does not like egg nog, look at this, because that’s all we can do for you today.

For the rest of you, we’ve come up with a damn near perfect way to mix up an egg nog cocktail that’s actually thinner than pea soup, and tastes so good you might even drink more than one of them.

This recipe is guaranteed to have you feeling extra *jolly.*

As a bonus, this mix is a great way to use leftover coffee. We have leftover coffee in out home pot nearly every day (which doesn’t end up burnt and tarry because we bought a very good coffee maker) and we hate to see it go to waste, which it usually does.

The Chop’s Egg Nog Recipe

  1. 1 part liquor
  2. 1 part egg nog
  3. 1 part cold coffee
  4. a dash of simple syrup

Pour it all over ice and shake the hell out of it. Strain it over new ice. Swear at relatives, ruin Santa myths and topple Christmas trees accordingly.

Step 1 calls for “liquor” because you have a few choices here. We’ve tried this recipe with bourbon, brandy, and dark rum to good effect. Each base liquor is dramatically different, and although the Chop prefers bourbon the year round, our favorite take on this recipe was when it was mixed with the Kraken dark spiced rum.

Do not, we repeat, for the sake of the little baby Jebus at Christmastime do not use light rum, vodka, blended whiskey, or anything else that’s not a very sweet, very brown liquor. Bourbon, brandy, and dark rum… it’s all you want for Christmas.

Shake yourself up a few of these and the only worries you’ll have this holiday are remembering which wills you’re named in, and whether she’s you second cousin or your third cousin twice removed by marriage.

Happy Holidays.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Everyone Is Still Pissed Edition

Got to admit… We weren’t too impressed with that Monument lighting this year. It was freezing. It was packed. It was so much puppets and choir music. It was also pretty anti-climactic, as those sorts of things usually are.

For those of you looking to come to Mount Vernon and be just as festive (read: tipsy) indoors and without the crowds, we’d encourage you to come by the Midtown Yacht Club tonight for the regular meeting of the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally chapter meets at Midtown Yacht Club tonight. 7 pm.

When we were in the Middle East last summer, the Chop and everyone with us basically spent a long, hot Ramadan complaining about the concept of the month-long holiday. Of course, Christmas isn’t much better as it’s now transformed into a full-on 40 day circle-jerk. It’s strange to watch the world around us grind to a halt just because there’s one day of gift-giving and family time at the end of the month, but that’s what’s happening nonetheless.

People may not be shopping as obsessively as they used to, and there may not be as much phony-baloney Jesus guilt as there once was, but nothing is getting done regardless. Everyone we know is pretty much giving over the entire month to social obligations and high calorie, high fat comfort food, as well as getting excited for the sake of being excited.

This is as true in DC as it is anywhere, and you can count on nothing being accomplished by either side until at least State of the Union time.

In the meantime, everyone is still pissed. People who are pissed at Wikileaks are on a witch hunt for Julian Assange, while his supporters are pissed that they’re pissed.

The Democrats (including the Chop) are pissed that Obama is going to give away billions of dollars to people who already have billions of dollars.

The gays are pissed that they do not have equal rights, and if the president continues to act like a pussy, they won’t any time soon.

And the Republicans are pissed that even though they’re about to be in power in the House, they still have to lead their lonely, empty, stupid, meaningless, hypocritical lives.

So come on down to Midtown and have a pint of good seasonal ale. It really helps to take the edge off.

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Midtown yacht Club is at 15 E Center Street in Mount Vernon. Look for the table with the red, white, and blue bottle.

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