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When I was 13 years old, I found 3 airplane sized bottles of peppermint schnapps under the sink in my mom’s house. I took them over to a house where a bunch of dirtbags (dirtbags is a term of affection) lived and drank them. Skateboarding home was really hard that night. About an hour after thinking “Man, I’m drunk, this rules!” one of the guys at the house put on a bootlegged VHS of a bunch of live metal bands. It all kind of melted together except for when Dittohead by SLAYER came on.

Even though by that point I had listened to enough ministry and nofx and gwar and metallica and suicidal tendencies to think I had a good handle on what was “fast” or “heavy” this all changed in 2 minutes and 31 seconds. When that cut was over, I asked if we could rewind and watch again. The other dudes in the house all looked at me and grinned. That grin is something only SLAYER fans really ever get. Once you are in you are in. Rob Zombie was once quoted as saying “I never met the guy that was into SLAYER for a summer, I only met the guy that has SLAYER carved into his arm.” I am the latter.

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About 6 months later I got a chance to see SLAYER live. I started the show far enough back from the stage that I felt me and my 14 year old frame would be safe (based on Biohazard‘s opening set). Then the the lights went down and SLAYER launched into Hell Awaits. Even before the fast part, I had been mashed up to the barrier in front of the stage and one of the sleeves on my shirt had been torn clean off. I was terrified and bleeding and sweaty and I was sure that this was all I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

When Diabolous in Musica came out, almost everyone was pretty bummed. 2 or 3 songs on there were alright, but mostly it sounded like shitty Machinehead. Bitter Peace ruled though. A band of 9 of us piled into a rented van and drove to toronto, by now I was 17 or so. The band was doing a meet and greet at HMV on Yonge. The ride up had been a really smokey boozey one (not the driver though) and I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I met these monsters. The creators of the most evil sounds I have ever heard. I walked up to Tom Araya, he took my copy of Divine Intervention from me, set it and his marker down and shook my hand and said “Hey man, how’s it going?” I think I managed to get out “uuuuaarghh  ggooooohhhdd?” He passed the stuff to Kerry King, who said nothing but had just shaved his head and started growing a beard, then Jeff Hanneman shook my hand and said “Any songs you want to hear tonight dude?” “Uhhhh all of them?” Then he gave me that grin. Paul Bostaph told me to “stay heavy” and I almost cried.

Since then I have seen SLAYER 19 times. Once I saw them with Unearth in Hamilton and then Ottawa the next night and then flew to Vancouver to hang out with friends for 2 weeks, until they played there. Then I went to the show and flew home.

The last time I saw them play with Jeff Hanneman was on the much delayed SLAYER/Megadeth/Testament tour in 2010, where Matt Woo and I woke up at 8 in the morning to go to the box office at the Molson Amphitheatre to make sure our tickets were still valid and to see where we were sitting. We were told they were all still valid, but it was more or less general admission. Paul Miller and Andrew Harris were with us for the show, and in 8 years of knowing Paul Miller, I had never seen him so engaged in a concert. At the show I threw up because I was so excited. No SLAYER fan that heard about this judged me because as one weirdo in the men’s room put it “SLAYER does weird things to you.”

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So Jeff Hannemen died yesterday. Everyone knew it was coming. He was bitten by a spider (so the story goes) 3 years ago and ended up with a flesh eating virus that eventually tore apart his immune system and yesterday he passed away from liver failure. At least that’s what I have gleaned from the whole thing.

I wouldn’t say I am sad, like when MCA or Joe Strummer died, but his riffs were just so instrumental in my life. The way I feel when I’m listening to SLAYER is nothing. It’s the only thing I have ever heard that hits the same frequency that my mind is going all the time. Going to a SLAYER concert is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My friend Alain says that when you are at SLAYER show, the air has a different density to it, you breathe in evil electricity. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but he’s right.

So anyway, I just thought you should know, a member of my favorite band (except for maybe Good Riddance) died yesterday and I hope that everyone that knew him personally is dealing with it as well as could be expected, and I’m going to listen to Reign In Blood all day. Just like every day.

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Hey this drink of the week is a weird one.

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The drink was imagined by Robin Kaufman, Marco Cedano and myself.
1oz. Tromba Tequila Blanco
.5oz. Agave Syrup
1 Strawberry (a big one)
.5oz. Lime Juice
Tsp chopped cilantro

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This drink was conceived and born on the same day (take THAT any “miracle” ever) at the Tromba distillery in rural Jalisco two weeks ago.
Made out of whatever kind of made sense right then and there as we were in a tent in the parking lot of the distillery, with a bunch of the distillery employees. It was surreal to think that these people spend their days making this liquid that I then throw strawberries at it (the strawberry fields are also owned by the guy that own the land that the agave is grown on) and call what I do work.

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Everyone liked the drink and it went over really well.

There will be more posts about Mexico when I settle back into real life here in Toronto. Also, keep up the #coasterboy thing. So far this one is the best I’ve seen.

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Maybe a misleading title.

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I taught my first solo cocktail basics class on April 8th at Rock Lobster. Seeing as how being an actual teacher would involve someone else’s curriculum, this seems like a great way for me to share what I have learned about making cocktails with some other industry professionals without having to cater to what some aging bottle flipping, blue drink loving dork says is bartending.

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I had this class coincide with the changing of the cocktail menu at Rock Lobster so that I could train my staff as well as open it up to the public so that everyone benefits. The drink you see above is what I’m calling The Improuved Whisky Cocktail. It is pretty close to the cocktail of the same-ish name in Jerry Thomas’ book, but made with Crown Royal and less sugar syrup, because of Crown’s sweetness.

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I went through why drinks are made certain ways and where they came from, passed some books around and then started making some drinks from the new list.

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Other than the above mentioned Improuved Whisky Cocktail (spelled like that on purpose) I went through the Julia Sullivan, which is a cilantro infused gin and tonic, the Spicy Papa, which is a take on a daiquiri but using Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and All Gone, Quinn!, which is an Algonquin but using Bulleit Bourbon in place of rye.

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Once we were finished with the Rock Lobster list, I asked all in attendance if there was a drink that they had gotten ordered from them but weren’t sure about. So we went through a Bourbon Sour, a Sazerac, a Manhatten, an Old Fashioned and a Margarita in the hopes that there will be some consistency, not only behind the bar at RL but at other places in the city.

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Everyone seemed to take something away from it and hopefully I got some people excited about drinks that are more interesting than anything with coke in it. I will more than likely being doing either another class like this, or an expansion on this one in the next month or two, so if you are interested, please get in touch.

Phtos by the always lovely Jessica Blaine Smith

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You might win something, though I’m not sure what yet. But take a picture of my coaster, wherever you see one of them, and with whatever drawn on them you want, and then tweet it to me @josh_lindley with the hashtage #coasterboy.

Fun times, right?

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We are going to Mexico.

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I have never been anywhere that English (or French I guess) is not the default language of the citizens. I am excited and scared and nervous but mostly happy to be going somewhere with someone.

The closest thing I equate this feeling to is when Mark Spicoluk and I were e-mailing each other in 2002 about how we were going to quit our jobs and start touring Canada with his band Closet Monster. His job: Bassist for Avril Lavigne. My job: announcer on 102.1 The Edge (clearly one of us had more at stake than the other). He was in Japan at the time and had just played to 40,000 people opening for O-Town and I had just accidentally called some guy’s band nickleback (it was not Chad Kroeger). We needed something to change and given who we were at the time, driving back and forth across Canada with a bunch of friends made the most sense.

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Now, 11 years later I realize that my life is stable enough to not have to abandon everything for floors in Riviere du Loup or Kamloops.* That said, I really like the idea of going somewhere where I know nothing, and no one but my travel companion. I find myself imagining how things might be, but then I stop myself because no matter how I imagine a beach on the west coast of Mexico, it will not be that way when I get there. So I stop imagining and just get excited.

I like the idea of going somewhere as a genuine vacation. The reason is to go and spend time, somewhere foreign with someone I want to spend time with. With touring, it was always (kind of) work and the idea was to make that my life. That life didn’t work for me and now I approach traveling to some place(s) I’ve never been before way differently. I am going as a sponge, not as a rock, hoping to make a mark and leave with everyone knowing we were there. I just want to see new things, do new things and get a tan…cough.

So there will be a break in blog posts, but a flood of them when we get back. See you soon.

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*- During the years where I was touring consistently I made some lifelong friends, and really learned what it is to keep someone in your life, even without seeing or hearing from them for months at a time. I loved doing this and would never trade my experiences for anything, they all led me to where I am now.

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If this photo looks familiar it’s because I also used it when I posted about my coasters (have you seen them around yet?)

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Anyway, the drink sitting on my face is The Algonquin. Like many other classics, this one is named after the hotel where it was first served, or at least given a name. The proportions, again like many other classics vary, but I like it as 2 parts whiskey ( for the picture we used Rittenhouse, duh, but I have seen recipes that call for blends), 1 part dry vermouth and one part pineapple juice. Shake it and fine strain it and serve it straight up. The reason I like this drink so much is because it predates almost anything tiki, but still has pineapple juice in it. So it’s a rich, boozy drink, but with an incredible fruit nose.

If you want to learn more little factoids like that, contact me about coming to my cocktail basics class (naming things has not been my forte lately) next Monday, April 8th. I will be going over everything from why drinks have the names they do, why they are served the way they are served and how creating a drink requires some real thought to have it work out well. If you came to any of the Sunday School classes you get the idea, but if you didn’t, this might be a great way to catch up. It will only cost you thirty dollars and take about 3 hours of your time. Get in touch.

Photo by Jessica Blaine Smith 

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This is not a sidecar. It’s the Scooter. Clever, right? I replaced the cognac with pisco, I replaced the cointreau with maraschino, I replaced the lemon juice with guava juice, I added some Boker’s Bitters and a shook it and served it straight up, with a cherry. This one went over really well at the Gwai Lo Pop Up. I wanted something that the guests at Sen5es that order cosmos and kamikazis like it’s 1993 would not be afraid of.  Also, it’s part of my dipping my toe into the Tiki puddle.

April 8th I will be doing a workshop for any of my friends that are starting to get into cocktails, or have been bartending for a while now and realized that they aren’t sure what’s built and what’s shaken. Several people have asked me about this, so here’s your chance. Monday April 8th from 1-4(ish) at Rock Lobster, I will be making drinks and explaining how drinks are made in relation to the ones that I make. It will cost you $30 to attend (which is pretty cheap I feel) but I am limiting it to ten people. So, head to the “contact” section of the blog if you are interested. Peace!

Photo: Jessica Blaine Smith

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Look at that! I put my face under your drink! 

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Just about a year ago when we started working (as opposed to just planning) GwaiLo stuff, Christina Suggested that we get lighters as business cards, which is a solid idea if you smoke, but I don’t, and though I do like lighting stuff on fire, it didn’t seem like the best move for me as a contact info spreading idea.

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I never liked the idea of having a business card. I guess in Japan if you are presented with a business card and you don’t read every detail before pocketing it, it’s rude. So I made beer coasters with my face and like 12 words on them. Adam Cook did the face design for the Bar Tour flyer last year and my lady did the coaster design, ordered them and took the pictures that you see here.

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If you don’t drink, or aren’t drinking when you get given one of these or find one on a bar top, at a coffee shop, or in your purse (because I’m sneaky) there are other things you can do with it. Look, I have glasses (sometimes true) or a moustache (impossible) or you can just use the blank space on the back to get/give a phone number from/to sexy babetron that has been making eyes at you all night.

Keep and eye out, I’m going to breadcrumb these around the city.

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This drink is called a Boulevardier. I have seen it as a 1.5oz Bourbon, 1oz. Campari, 1oz. Sweet Vermouth drink and also as equal proportions. I like the equal proportion version, but with a very rye heavy bourbon like Wild Turkey or Bulleit. This drink is not for wusses. The glass, I feel, suits the drink well. It came from the AGO gift shop.  This drink is stirred and served either on rocks or straight up. You might notice that it is pretty similar to the Negroni, except with whiskey in place of gin. Apparently this drink predates the Negroni, but who really knows this stuff, oh wait, this guy. I also like the idea of having this drink be really cheap (turkey, martini rosso) or really ballin’ (pappy, carpano).

Also, due to a bunch of my friends asking, and the changing of seasons, I will be taking a monday afternoon soon to run through the drink list for Rock Lobster brunch (soon) and the spring/summer list. If you want to come watch me make drinks and hear me talk about cocktails and liquor, let me know and we will get you in to check this stuff out. I haven’t decided yet about a cost for doing this per person, but I imagine it will not be expensive, just a covering cost of liquid and time thing.

Peace til next week, which will be the end of series one of my Drink Of The Week stuff.

Phot, as always, by Jessica Blaine Smith.

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This is The Paper Crane. It’s a pretty obvious Paper Plane knock off, but made with Mekhong in place of bourbon. This drink is funny because I started with the name, (Kuypers’ suggestion) and worked backwards. This was part of the Gwai Lo  pop-up menu and in the initial ideas for the Gwai Lo cocktail list we had planned on having a series of drinks that were obviously inspired by classics but with goofy names (Typhoon, Singapore Swizzle etc…). For this drink (which I now think I may have written about before) I use 3/4oz. measures of mekhong, lemon juice, aperol and amaro nonino. Shake the hell out of it and then serve it on rocks. It’s pretty tart and very refreshing with a little spice.

Photo: Jessica Blaine Smith

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