Book of the Month: A History of the World in 6 Glasses


Unique Perspective of world history!

Must be the summer heat because we can’t seem to stop talking about liquids! So it just made perfect sense to pick up Tom Standage’s A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Honestly, the book surprised us. To begin with, the concept of charting the world history through how beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola are drunk itself is so unique and we confess, seemed fantastical. But Standage’s book turned out to be a crash course in ancient, classical and modern history peppered with stories that are relatable with our everyday life. After all who will not be able to understand the magical powers of beer bringing civilization together, or coffee being the stimulant for Renaissance? On the other hand, when we look at the fact that 3 of the drinks contain alcohol and the other 3 caffeine, it does makes sense how the world’s inspirations and influence would be traced down to the discovery or invention of these drinks!

The language is crisp and a refreshing change for a book loaded with (in any other hands would read boring) historical facts.But Standage does a brilliant job of keep it in the easy reading section. It’s the kind of book that one would enjoy reading while travelling, both stimulating and light ( just like any of the 6 drinks he talks about!!)

It’s the kind of book after which you would never look at your favorite drink the same way again! Here’s to quenching our thirst for knowledge and new horizons! Let all raise our glasses to that! 😀


Tall tales about tall glasses!

One of the things we have always wondered about is, who the hell came up with all the cocktail names?! I mean who was the genius who wanted to ask the bartender/waiter for ‘Sex on the beach’ or *blush* an ‘Orgasm’?! Well, we have some of the answers and for others we traveled the web long and wide to find. But in almost all cases there are conflicts and controversies about who actually invented them. We’re not entirely surprised since after a drunk night with any of these drinks we barely remember our names, leave alone the bartender’s! 😛

Anyways, without further ado, here are the tall tales about the tall glasses we love!

Cheers to Churchill! 🙂

Manhattan : No, it’s definitely not after the city though the origins are not very far from it. The most popular story out there it was Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie who was the one who formally introduced this drink to the world. It was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a party that Jennie threw for the presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. It was hosted at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s and the drink was named, no prizes for guessing, after the club.  This is the pop version of the origin but unfortunately there are too many inconsistencies. For one, there are references to the drink which go further back and two, Lady Randolph Churchill was away in France and pregnant at the time. The only other note is that it might have been invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black at a bar on Broadway. But we fondly like to think that the woman who gave Britain her war-time hero is also the woman who would have understood the need for the drink, ergo credit – Mrs.Churchill!

Cheryl's Cosmo!

Cosmopolitan: The absolute favorite of the ‘Sex and the City’ fans and most women out there, it only deems fit it was invented by a woman! Cheryl Cook ( Is it just us or is that the perfect name for the inventor of the Cosmo!) created the drink in about 1985 in South Beach,Florida ( Again, is it not too perfect?!). According to her she created the drink, quote-

What overwhelmed me was the number of people who ordered Martinis just to be seen with a Martini glass in their hand. It was on this realization that gave me the idea to create a drink that everyone could palate and was visually stunning in that classic glass. This is what the Cosmo was based on.

Her original recipes called for “Absolut Citron, a splash of Triple Sec, a drop of Roses lime and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink.” Yep, that sounds so SATC! 😀

Bloody Mary : Our first guess was it might have been inspiration from Mary Antoinette but we were sorely wrong! Instead it was named after a Mary who worked at Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago. The credit of this nifty, healthy alcohol seems to go to Fernand “Pete” Petiot working at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris during the 1920s.

For the healthy drunk! 😛

So, the story goes, it was pure luck, not strategic planning, when Petiot combined tomato juice and vodka. It’s supposed to have been initially christened Red Snapper but somehow it dint catch on. So one of the boys suggested it be called Bloody Mary “because it reminded me of the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, and a girl there named Mary.”

The first recipe as you can see has only tomato juice and Vodka. The Tabasco Sauce was later added when some patrons asked for a little more spiciness to otherwise bland drink.

Anyways, we think there’s something sweet, and a bit morbid, about naming it after the girl from the ‘Bucket of Blood’ bar! What say?! 🙂

Sex on the beach :  Well there are two versions for the naming. The urban myth has it that it was named after the famous William Kennedy Smith rape trial. It supposedly was invented by bartenders in Miami Beach, Florida during the (first) trial back in 1991. The story goes Smith went for a walk with the girl after getting her drunk and then raped her at the beach.

Hopefully with a sexy bartender! 😉

While this version is very popular thankfully there are too many contradictions to the story, mainly that the drink was already quite popular much before the trial. Phew! We would not want to think that the kindly bartender who plays agony aunt to our sorrows would be so heartless.

Instead the story which we love is the one where the young bartender named Ted Pizio invented it for the during the contest for selling the most peach schnapps. His combination of peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and grenadine was the most popular drink. When asked what it was named, he  explained that the reason people came to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break was: The Beach and Sex – ergo , Sex on the Beach.

As for the reason why there are so many variations, the story is that the drink gained fame that spring, thousands of college students returned to their areas of the country and asked their local bartenders for Sex on the Beach. Since they had no idea what the real drink was they made up their own recipes.

Long Island Iced Tea : No, it’s not named after the New York Long Island.

The perfect Sunday noon drink!

Instead it’s supposed to be named after Long Island in Kingsport Tennessee. The inventor is credited as Old Man Bishop who passed the recipe on to his son Ransom who perfected the drink.

It supposed to have been invented in 1920’s during the period of Prohibition when alcohol consumption was illegal. It was not uncommon to disguise cocktails as harmless drinks, and with the mix of Rum, Vodka, Whiskey, Gin and  Tequila it would have given enough punch even to the most hard boiled gangster which would explain it’s popularity.

Of course, there are competing claims.The generally accepted theory is the story about a bartender, either Chris Bendicksen or Robert Butt who invented the cocktail at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, New York. But we like to think it’s Old Man Bishop’s sneaky idea because it’s just so much cooler 😛

Well, that some of the stories about our favorite drinks. We know we have missed out a few, but don’t worry, we’ll be back with more! 🙂

Zoink!’s Wine & Cheese Guide

Pinot Noir Wine

While we do a lot of dinners with wine, we love to pair our red wines with that perfect cheese that leaves us abundantly cheery. Here’s a simple wine and cheese pairing guide that would help you on your next wine and cheese night. A few tips to keep in mind: Pairing wines and cheeses from the same region is a good, “safe” place to start wine and cheese combinations. For example, a good Italian Chianti and a potent Parmesan will provide a fascinating mix. Also, remember that the harder types of cheese (i.e. Cheddar or Parmesan) can handle more tannic wines. While creamy cheeses, such as Brie, typically pair better with wines that have more acidity, like a Chardonnay. Give salty cheeses a sweet wine partner (i.e. Blue Cheese and Port).

1.       Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernets can be mellow and mild, hearty and rich. It has a deep red colour, with the primary taste being black currant. Other overtones can include blackberry and mint. Traditionally aged in oak, the wine also takes on an oaky, vanilla flavour. Higher quality cabs age extremely well (although a bit slowly), developing a sprinkling of five or six tastes within it.

Cheese made out of cow’s milk complements the Cabernet Sauvignon best. We suggest the Brie, Camembert, Danish Blue and Strong Cheddar for this red wine.

2.       Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is typically a lighter-bodied, fruit-forward red wine. Its flavours are reminiscent of sweet red berries, plums, tomatoes, cherries and at times a notable earthy or wood-like flavour, depending on specific growing conditions.

The distinct floral and fruity fragrance of this wine is most suited for Swiss, Brie, Gruyere and Muenster cheeses. Avoid blue cheese with the Pinot Noir – disastrous pairing.

3.       Shiraz/Syrah

Syrah or Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce powerful red wines. Strong flavours like black cherries and roasted pepper are very distinct of this wine.

With the extremely fruity flavour of a Shiraz, cheeses like Farmhouse Cheddar, Edam, Gouda and Alpine-style cheese are recommended which really help enhancing the flavour of the wine.

Fruity Merlot Wine

4.  Merlot

Merlot is the Zoink! Team’s favourite red wine. It has a very versatile flavour profile and we love it because it can be paired with anything from meats and vegetables to pastas and salads. A range of fresh flavors such as plums, cherries, blueberries and blackberries mixed with cocoa and black pepper tones, often dominate this type of red wine. This medium bodied red wine with its fruity juicy flavours often make it a hit among the ladies.

The fruit flavours of this often are quite dominant and their flavour is enhanced when complemented with Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Parmesan

5.  Chianti

Chianti comes from the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. Chianti is a red wine, strong and bold. Typical flavors in a Chianti include cherry, plum, strawberry, spice, almonds, tobacco, vanilla and coffee. Chianti goes well with well-seasoned foods and is often called a “fruity” wine, which makes it extremely appealing to new wine drinkers.

The strong cherry and plum flavours of the Chianti wine often go well with Italian style cheeses like Fontina, Mozarella, Parmesan or Provolone.

6.  Zinfandel

The colour of a zinfandel wine is deep red, bordering on black. Zinfandel is a spicy, peppery wine, with a hint of fruity flavour – berries or dark cherries are often the taste range. Zinfandel goes well with “typical American” food – pizza, burgers, and steaks. It’s hearty enough to match up with thick red sauces.

With the extremely strong flavours of this wine and the sweetness being very prominent, a variety of cheeses go well with this wine. Blue cheese, Asiago, Blue, Feta, Gruyere and Muenster are a heavenly pairing with this type of wine.

Do you have any other fantastic wine and cheese pairings that you have tried and tested or discovered by accident? We’d love to hear about it! After all, we love our cheeses, and love how cheery and blissful it makes us with that glass of wine! 🙂