BIT Blog

An Iguanas Guide to Posadas

We want to teach you how to do Christmas Mexico style. While the Posada originated in Spain, it has become one of the largest holiday traditions in Mexico, Guatemala and the South-Western United States. Posadas last for 9 nights (or just one if you’re on the lazy, less traditional side) starting on the 16th of December and wrapping up on Christmas Eve. They usually happen between 8 and 10 in the evening, so pre-gaming early is essential. Why? Because you and your friends will be singing call and response to decide if you’re going to let them pass out inside on the couch …or outside in the grass. 

Posadas have taken place for the last 400 years when early Catholic friars wanted to merge Christmas with the Aztec celebration of the birth of their god Huitzilopochtli. The custom is that several families in any given neighborhood take a night to act as innkeepers. With a nativity scene to mark the spot, the pilgrims come to the door carrying candles and singing a petition to stay there for the night. Four of the pilgrims bring statues of Mary, Joseph and her donkey. 

At each of the potential inns the song dictates that the pilgrims are refused entry (sobriety notwithstanding.) The tequila donkey is close, which is important for the sanity of these exhausted travelers who just want a spot to relax. After lots of “no”s they finally reach the designated place for the party and the fun begins (or continues …it depends on how you look at it.) Tequila is a crucial element to the equation because let’s face it, the more you drink the louder you sing …and the less you feel your feet.  

At the party, tequila isn’t the only traditional guest. Piñatas and a delicious drinks like Ponche and Rompope about, along with more singing. You better hope you’re at least half-way to being tanked because at this point you’re expected to socialize with strangers and sing, which may or may not be your forte. For me, I’d prefer the latter but it all depends on the amount of tequila you ingest.

Holiday Cocktails (continued)

What? We haven’t gotten you drunk enough in your holiday endeavors? We thought not. More fun, classy and original cocktails to share the yuletide cheer with friends and family alike. Again, big thanks to the good people at Marie Claire for finding these exquisite cocktail recipes to share with us, so we in turn can share them with you!

 

Kahlúa Mayan Passion

2 parts Kahlúa 

1 1/2 parts Tequila

1/2 part Hiram Walker Triple Sec

2 parts passion fruit juice

Orange twist, for garnish

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist. 

 

Passion Ginger Margarita

2 oz. Tequila Blanco

1/2 oz. Cointreau or triple sec

1 oz. Boiron Passion Fruit Puree

1/2 oz. Boiron Mango Puree

1/4 oz. fresh ginger juice

1/2 oz. Monin Passion Fruit Syrup

6 crushed coriander seeds

1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

Mix together and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh mint leaves, blackberries and orange twist.

 

Cozy Cafe con Crema

1.5 oz. Tequila Anejo 

1 espresso

1.5 oz. Godiva Caramel Liqueur

1 oz. whipped cream

Touch of Kahlúa

Mix ingredients together in a shaker with ice. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with 3 coffee beans.

Tequila and the Big Guy

When I was about to turn 40, I was struck with a Great Certainty……..namely, that I needed to drag about six of my best friends down to a beach in Mexico and carry on as if we were all not nearly so long in the tooth as we were.  Oddly enough, given their kids, jobs and various other commitments, I was able to get five amigos on board and a date was selected to fly down to Cancun and end up at a small German beach-side resort just south of the little town of Playa del Carmen.  

Here we are in the Austin airport bar on the way down:

Sidebar:There is so much of this tale that I simply can’t relate in this forum, due not only to space but also decorum constraints, but one episode stands out in my mind to this day.  It has a real David vs. Goliath aspect to it, and many of us are after all hard-wired to root for the little guy.

But first, a short prelude:  

When I set up the trip, one stipulation that I was very serious about in talking to the guys (one in particular…..let’s call him Rosencrantz, whom you may remember from my previous “Lonely Hats of Doom” blog) was that there was to be NO dice games that involved penalty drinking.  I felt, quite reasonably, that we had all put in sufficient time with that activity in our 20s and that it would not only be unduly damaging to the corpus to revisit it in our 40s but would also look pretty damn questionable to those around us (at the time, I didn’t know that “those around us” would consist entirely of newlyweds and large 90-year-old Canadian women wearing thongs, but more on that later).  No dice were to be brought.

Spread across four cities, all agreed via e-mail to this condition.  1.5 of them were lying through their proverbial teeth, as it turns out.

Finally, the day came.  We were seated in groups of twos, scattered across the small-ish charter plane as we winged our way over the Gulf of Mexico.  We’d only had a couple of preparatory beers in the Austin airport, and so reason and propriety still prevailed.  Until…….

Somewhere very far from land, I started to hear a commotion toward the front of the plane.  Now, if any of you have every flown on one of these package deal, all-inclusive charter flights down to a Mexican beach resort, you can attest to the fact that the flight down is MUCH more festive and raucous than the flight back.  Much.  So when I first heard the surge in the already-substantial hubbub of merriment and good feeling, I didn’t consciously register any concern.  But then, certain elements of the soundscape coming from up the aisle triggered deep sense-memories in the hindquarters of my brain.  I began to feel signs of stress and queasiness that were not there a moment before.  

Listening harder, I realized what I was hearing.  Over the general anticipatory conversations and ancillary drinking going on all over the plane, I could distinctly hear the sound of a dice cup being slammed onto a flat surface, followed by spirited crowd reactions.  

I had heard these sounds before.  Hell, I had MADE these sounds before, a couple of decades back.  On numerous occasions.  And it was then that I knew, without even having gotten out of my seat,that The Covenant had been broken and that dice had indeed been brought on the trip.  And not only that……they had already been broken out and put to their insidious use.

With a fatalistic flash, I saw how the entire tenor of this trip was going to change from the relaxing, not-too-punishing party on the beach with my friends into a retrograde  revisiting of our, shall we say, “hard-charging” youth.  But hell, it was literally my 40th birthday that fateful day in July, and so I ventured up the aisle to see what was going on. 

Immediately I could see that many passengers had left their seats and crowded around one row near the front of the plane.  I didn’t need to see past the crowd to know who was at the center of it all.  If anyone was going to break the dice prohibition, it was Rosencrantz.  And if it wasn’t done in active collusion with Holmes (we’ll call him…..), I was at least damn sure that he raised no objections to it.  And sure enough, the two of them were playing a bold, two man version of the infamous dice game on a seat tray.

A short digression about the dice game:  while it has many regional variations, the essentials of these games are the same—in that two dice are rolled under a cup onto a table, and the roller has to beat or tie the roll that came before.  If you think a person is lying about a roll made to you, you pick the cup straight up.  If you are going to believe the roll, you tilt the cup and retrieve the dice (or, if you’re an experienced player with great panache, you don’t look at the dice at all), following which you now have to beat that roll whether the person had it or not.  If you get caught lying, you drink.  If you call someone a liar who was not in fact lying, you drink.  As played by this cabal of guys, the drinks were measured……no honor system based on sips.   And if the roll in question is a 21(a 2 and a 1), then the penalty is a large shot of tequila (if a beer bong is not available, which it was not on the airplane as even Rosencrantz couldn’t sneak one of those into a carry-on).   And of course the usual “off the table” penalties apply if someone loses control of the dice.

Anyone who has played this game knows that a two-man version of it is quite brutal, in that it would take one hell of a lucky streak to avoid getting quickly sauced.  And anyone who has played this game with Rosencrantz knows what an inveterate cheater his is, having an astonishing ability to slip a pinky under the cup and alter the dice while distracting the other player(s) with crafty talk.  Holmes, of course, had played this game with his row-mate many times over the years and knew very well how intent he was on cheating almost continually, and so he kept his eyes locked on the other man’s pinkies.  

And so this two-man dice game was a heavyweight bout between two very wily veterans, and was being vigorously played as such.  There was a great deal of gamesmanship (gratuitous lying, etc.) in evidence, as had always been the case in our particular cabal.  And this style of play had attracted a large crowd of people who seemed to have gotten very emotionally involved in the various triumphs, tragedies and controversies of the game.  By the time I got up there and leaned down to curse Rosencrantz for breaking the agreement and bringing dice, he merely responded that “We’ve already floated the plane of all its beer, and now we’re playing for tequila……with a 21, you have to do a shot of scotch.”  Dead soldier little airplane bottles were piled up faster than the flight attendants (some of whom were in the cheering crowd) could clear them.

I watched a few rounds of the game until it came to an end because: a) we were getting ready to land soon; and b) the plane was now also out of tequila, and the players didn’t have the stomach to play entirely with scotch.

When we landed in Mexico, got our bags and found our shuttle van, the driver was induced by Aggie (let’s call him…..) to stop outside of Cancun and buy a 12-pack of beer at a small tienda next to one of the numerous (largely unmanned) machine gun posts that dotted the highway as it shot straight through the jungle.  And so the game continued in the back of the van, played on the lid of a Styrofoam cooler that was purchased along with the beer.  A koozie was used in lieu of a plastic cup.  

But anyway, this was not the part of the story I wanted to tell you.  What I wanted to tell you was THIS:

Our nice little German resort, which was made up of a series of two-story fourplexes that never rose above the level of the palm trees, was completely full of newlyweds on their honeymoons.  The only exception to this (until the last night of the trip, which is outside the scope of this telling) was the group of 250 lb. (or should I say 113.398 kg.?) Canadian ladies who we guessed were all in their 90s and who (we did NOT have to guess) were all wearing thongs.  Really.  With no self-consciousness.  Does it make us bad people to have avoided this sight to the extend we could each day?  Maybe so, but we remain unrepentant.  I suspect our beer guts were not aesthetically pleasing either, I will fully admit.  

But still.

These preliminaries aside, what I am here today to tell you about happened on the second night of the trip.  The first night was spent out under a palapa bar near the water, where the ongoing dice game and general rowdy style of play caused us to get a fair amount of attention from the other guests, but with any hard feelings being assuaged by Rosencrantz laying a heavy propina on the bartender when he tried the usual all-inclusive resort bar trick of closing the bar at 11pm. Suffice to say that it stayed open quite a bit later.  

There was much rejoicing.

The next day, we fooled around in the water and got respectably sunburned.  That evening, we were back at the palapa commencing the game, fueled by a large box of supplies that a contingent of our group had bought in Playa del Carmen late that afternoon via taxi.

As the game got going in earnest, a very large guy in his early 20s approached us, hand-in-hand with a blond cheerleader-looking girl of the same age.  He somewhat formally introduced himself to our ragtag crew.  It turns out that he was an offensive lineman for the UT Longhorn football team in Austin, and was on his honeymoon with his new bride (who was, in fact, a cheerleader).  He very politely said that he had spent the night before watching our game, and was keen to play with us as “now I think I’ve got the hang of it.”  Rosencrantz (all 160 lbs of him) immediately got a predatory glint in his eye that I had seen way too many times in years past, and as I looked back at the 280-lbs-with-no-fat Big Guy, I began to get nervous.  

And well I might!

Rosencrantz quickly took control of the situation, introducing himself to the Big Guy and seating him on the adjacent bar stool.  The new bride stood nervously behind, obviously not sharing her husband’s interest in the game nor his trust in those playing it.  Smart girl.  A quick (much too quick….) run-through of the rules ensued, following which play resumed.  I noted that Rosencrantz had arranged the seating so that he would be the one rolling to the Big Guy.

The beer for ordinary penalties in the course of the game was supplied by the kegs behind the bar.  The bartender seemed largely unalarmed as he kept the plastic beer pitchers filled.  He had seen all this the night before, and had every reason to think another big propina was coming (it was).  But when a 21 was rolled (or claimed to be rolled by someone then caught in the lie), special penalties came into play involving the supplies purchased earlier in the nearby town.  In the large cardboard box were:  1) several plastic yard glasses, which had bulbs at the end and were about 3 feet high; and 2) several cases of airplane bottles of mescal (each bottle with its own little worm, which tells you something about the quality).  The person faced with a special penalty could choose his method of execution, as it were.  Equivalent amounts of tequila from behind the bar could also be selected.

As I had feared, Rosencrantz began cheating ruthlessly right from the beginning, with a clear aim in taking the Big Guy down.  This surprised no one in our group.  The fact that the Big Guy didn’t really understand the rules, with his understanding not being improved in the slightest by all the penalties, was not helping at all.  I think it fair to say that the Big Guy had never, in what was undoubtedly a long and illustrious career on the gridiron, been so decimated by a another guy weighing over 100 lbs. less than him.     

In our version of the game, if a 21 is rolled (or claimed to be rolled), the rolling of the dice reverses direction around the table.  Because Rosencrantz was clearly seeking special penalties in his efforts to bag his big game target, the proceedings kept getting bogged down between the two of them, with the Big Guy desperately alternating between the yard glass full of beer, the airplane bottle of mescal (he was told eating each worm was a mandatory part of the penalty), or three shots of tequila from behind the bar.  I heard him mutter, with increasing frequency as the night wore on, apologetic statements along the lines of “Oh, ok….I’ll drink…..I just thought the rule was…..but I see now what you mean…..”.    I felt sorry for the guy.  

Did I mention that Rosencrantz was, at the time, a high-dollar entertainment lawyer in LA?

The cheerleader was not amused, but was unable to get her new husband to disengage from the game (which he could not see was rigged, even though she very much could) now that his lifelong competitive instincts were aroused. 

The rest of us drifted into our own conversations, since the dice never seemed to reach us.  But we quickly turned around when we heard a high-pitched triumphant shriek from Rosencrantz.  It seemed that the Big Guy had reached the limits of even his imposing physique.  Throwing the half-full yard glass down into the sand,, his spine seemed to stiffen ramrod straight, and his eyes shot unnaturally open and stopped blinking.  He then started to try to walk to a nearby bush, but was very unsteady on his feet.

Spontaneously, I pictured a scene from the Peter Falk/Alan Arkin movie “The In-Laws” and found myself yelling “Serpentine, serpentine!” as the big guy walked an invisible letter ‘S’ in the grass before spinning twice and falling dead to the ground with a thunderous crash that we could feel through the bottom of our feet.  I would be lying if I said there was no regurgitation involved on his way down.

 

The cheerleader screamed and ran over to her fallen beau.  She looked murderously at us, back on our barstools under the palapa, but before we could stifle our laughter and go help, a very efficient squad of resort employees appeared and grabbed various appendages of the Big Guy and hauled him off in the presumed direction of their honeymoon suite.

And then he was gone.

I couldn’t help but feeling a bit bad for the guy, and will confess to also having a thought about how he might react when he saw us the next day in what was, after all, a pretty darned small resort.  Meanwhile, Rosencrantz seemed quite pleased with himself, and even cheated a bit less for the rest of the night (maybe having gotten it largely out of him system during the massive cheating earlier in the evening).  And so we played on into the late night, to the strains of the music mixes I had brought down with me, flowing from the ancient boombox after sufficient propina had been delivered to stop the dreadful tourist music.  The bartender might have liked the change from the usual tunes, but we couldn’t tell.  He was fairly inscrutable, for which I don’t blame him a bit.

Holiday Cocktails

What are the holidays without special cocktails we indulge in because the season presents us with the opportunity? Why throw the same old same old down the hatch when you could create something unique that your family and friends will remember (if they don’t black out before it’s all over, that is)? Thanks to the good folks at Marie Claire magazine we have some fun and different cocktails that (with the magic of tequila) will make all your guests fall undeniably in love with you. Okay, that last part is just not true. But they will complement your delicate ego and we always want to promote that.

Marnier Chocolate Bonbon

1 oz. Grand Marnier

1/2 oz. Anejo Tequila

3 oz. hot chocolate

Layer of fresh cream

Combine Grand Marnier, tequila, and hot chocolate in an Irish coffee (or small wine) glass. Layer 1/2 inch of hand-whipped cream over the top.

Lilypad

1 1/2 oz. Silver Tequila

1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc

1/2 oz. Lillet Rouge

1 1/2 oz. apple juice

1/4 oz. agave nectar

1/4 oz. fresh lime juice

Combine ingredients and shake well. Serve up in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a blood orange wheel. 

Ave Martini

1.5 oz. Averna Sambuca

1.5 oz. Tequila Reposado

2 tbsp. coffee ice cream/sorbet

Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice, then garnish with ground cinnamon.

The Lonely Hats of Doom

Those outside of Central Texas may not have heard of Wurstfest.  Every year since 1963, in the little town of New Braunfels just north of San Antonio along Interstate 35, a 10-day festival celebrating the German heritage of this part of the state sloshes through endless gallons of beer and meat-bombs countless tourists with more greasy sausage than the human body should have to endure.  Then there’s the oompah music, about which the less said, the better.

Nevertheless, when I was in high school in the late ‘70s in San Antonio, we looked forward with great, hormone-addled anticipation to Wurstfest every year.  Because what Wurstfest meant to us was:  a) fun unencumbered by adult supervision; b) a legendarily-lax approach to IDs in the beer lines; and 3) girls!, in combination with a) and b).   Looking back on those trips up the highway, it’s obvious to me now that they were very much a facet of pre-Reagan America.

In 1980, I moved up to Austin to start classes at the University of Texas.  Now legal upstanding drinkers, for the first couple of years my no-good friends and I still drove down to Wurstfest, as a salmon-like migration as much as a conscious decision.  Using a friend’s lake-side trailer at nearby Lake Dunlap as a base, we would engage in various preparatory activities and then head out to Landa Park and dive in, as it were. 

Our ’81 expedition turned out to be the last, following certain cataclysmic events that could not (at least in their specifics) have been foreseen.  It is a bizarre tale, even in the abridged version I give you here, but I assure you that it is entirely true.  Really!

By Pfadilederhosentom at German Wikipedia(Original text: Pfadilederhosentom) - Transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons.(Original text: eigenes Bild), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2031399

By Pfadilederhosentom at German Wikipedia(Original text: Pfadilederhosentom) - Transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons.(Original text: eigenes Bild), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2031399

In several carloads, we trooped down I-35 and met at the lakehouse, carrying cases of college-budgeted beer (Schaefer, Hamms, Black Label, and a few quarts of Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull bought out of a sense of sheer belligerence), as well as a few bottles of gold tequila.  Although it seems immature and scarcely-believable now, I must confess that a beer bong was also in tow.  Not the crappy, rookie amateur type with short hoses and funnels like the Tin Man’s hat, but the Real Thing:  2+ foot long transmission oil funnel from the auto parts store, attached by sturdy hose clamp to a 4 foot length of not-insubstantial diameter clear tubing. 

*  *  *

A short digression about beer bongs:  I had never seen one of these things, or even heard of them, before going to college.  But my dorm suite-mates, from a different San Antonio high school, had evidently long perfected the techniques involved in beer bong construction and use.  After a short introductory period, it wasn’t that successfully finishing your beer from the device was so bad.  What made it hazardous (apart from whatever medical impacts we were blithely unaware of) was that these guys from the rival high school evidently had a long tradition of distracting the drinker/victim just before he did his beer bong and, in the process, pouring Other Substances (eg. tequila) into the funnel while he wasn’t looking.  Due to some vaguery of chemical interaction and fluid dynamics, the liquor would not mix with the beer and would instead float at the top, so that the beer bong-ee, right at the apex of his extremis when he was sucking on the tube for all he was worth (that sounds bad…..) had his hopes suddenly and alarmingly dashed by that last unexpected one-foot of liquid in the tube (that turned out to be a fair amount of straight tequila).  Sometimes the body would, quite sensibly, spontaneously decide that this was Too Much and proceed to reject the entire operation.  This was deemed Deeply Amusing to the others in attendance, especially to those who had done the earlier distracting/tequila sabotage. 

*  *  *

Upon arrival at the lakehouse, all these supplies were duly unpacked and employed, good tunes cranked on the rickety Radio Shack stereo in residence, the nutria rats chased out of the undergrowth, and a Good Time was muchly had by all.  The trailer belonged to the family of Rosencrantz (I’m changing the names in this story, for reasons that will soon become all-too apparent), who also happened to be one of the Main Instigators of the bait-and-switch beer bong/tequila technique referenced above.  On this particular night, he and his high school pal Guildenstern (whose family owned another lakehouse just down the way) were very much employing The Technique.  Hilarity/extremis ensued.Overall, the mood was one of gleeful anticipation with more than a hint of reckless bonhomie. 

Finally it was time for the short hop to the Fest. 

A brief note about Wurstfest attire:  Although it wasn’t something we thought much about, Wurstfest is a German-themed festival.  While it’s true some attendees dress up in lederhosenfor the event, we would not have been caught dead doing so.  Not only would it have been deemed staggeringly uncool, but it was also thought to be entirely counter-productive to the Meeting Girls Imperative (MGI).  But the strange exception10 of our group made to this rule of thumb that nightin 1981 proved disastrous for all involved, as you will soon see.

After paying and entering the fairgrounds, the first booth by the walkway was one that I scarcely noticed until all were boisterously waved back by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  What the booth was selling were deeply cheesy cheap green flannel elf hats, upon which the gullible purchaser’s name would be written in Elmer’s Glue and gold glitter.  These hats were being sold as ostensibly appropriate accessories to a lederhosen outfit. 

They looked beyond ridiculous.  And not in a good way.

However, somewhere in the addled minds of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the idea had become entrenched that wearing these hats, with the word “lonely” in gold across the front substituted for the name, would be of great service in the evening’s sacred MGI.  Now, both of these guys were (and are) possessed of the gift of outstanding bullshit.  They can be quite persuasive, damn their hides.  So out of the 14 of us, a full 10 succumbed to the siren’s song and purchased identical Lonely Hats.  And thusfestooned, they walked proudly down the promenade, which followed the gentle bends of the Comal River.  They looked like a motley procession of pituitary elves, disgruntled from having been kicked out of Santa’s Village for snarling at the children. 

The remaining four of our group (including myself, your humble Virgil for this coming tour of the Netherworld) walked a little behind, fascinated by the spectacle but determined not to be tarred with the same brush.

Did I mention that the Lonely Hat group had the beer bong that Dante managed to sneak into the gate?

Given the cumulative effect of the evening’s various consumptions, I have to say that the rest of the night deteriorated into a series of vignettes, some of which I personally witnessed and some that were related later on, after an initial sorting of legal difficulties.  But it did not take long to see that A Pattern was emerging, one that would eventually lay waste to the Lonely Hat contingent of our merry little band.

As is customary at Wurstfest (well, at least customary in certain circles….) once each beer was consumed, the highly-prized large souvenir plastic cup would be saved and the newly-purchased full beer cup stacked on top.  After a time, this led to each of our group walking around holding a precarious tower with a full beer swaying and splashing on top.  I have a distinct memory of Dante and I walking down the path next to the river, very much in the middle of the fray and surrounded by hundreds of people, balancing impressive towers of cups without spilling (much) of the beers at the summit.  Dante still had the beer bong and suddenly stopped cold, yelling out “Load me up!.”  So, as we stood in the middle of the busy walkway, I put my tower down and plucked the beer from atop his and poured it into the beer bong, my thumb snuggly fit over the far end of the clear plastic tube.

Did I mention these cups were quite large, and held an impressive amount of beer?

So, having “loaded him up,” I passed the tube end to Dante and he replaced my thumb with his own (again, that sounds bad…..).  Still holding the funnel, I picked up my beer tower and held it with the other hand.  Dante then assumed the tradition stance, dropping down on one knee while simultaneously bringing the tube to his lips and diligently emptying the beer bong while I held the funnel high. 

What Dante couldn’t see behind him at that moment was the two uniformed cops walking briskly toward us.  I watched them approach, six-cup beer tower in my one hand and funnel in the other, with a sense of dread and inevitability.  Upon arrival, they stood just behind Dante with their arms folded, watching as he finished off the beer bong, stood up in one fluid motion, taking the funnel from my hand and blowing out the foam on the ground in the traditional mannerwith a great spewing and trumpet-like flourish(the foam landing not far, as it turned out, from one cop’s shoes).Like a choreographed set piece, Dante dropped the beer bong on the ground and raised his arms up in the air—Rocky-like—and joyfully whooped “Yeah!”, at which point the cop whose shoe was violated reached up, grabbed Dante’s arms from behind, brought them behind his back in one continual motion and put the handcuffs on him.  This had all happened before Dante even knew they were there. 

It was quite the well-oiled Greek tragedy.  It could have won a Tony.

Meanwhile, I’m still standing right in the thick of it, holding my teetering beer tower and looking helplessly into Dante’s eyes as his face processed through a variety of emotions.  I say something to the cop along the lines of “hey, come on now…..”, at which point the other cop says “do you want to go, too?,” which had the desired of effect of immediately silencing me and causing me to step back and watch as Dante was led away, his green Lonely Hat receding through the crowd.

I stood alone on the walkway, lost in thought and holding one beer tower with Dante’s equally-impressive tower down at my feet.  Sensing it would be wise to relocate, I combined his cups with mine and walked off into the crowd.

*  *  *

In the interests of space constraints, suffice it to say that ALL 10 of the Lonely Hat group were arrested that night in separate incidents, while none of the hatless schism were put in the hoosegow.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were trying to chat up some girls while sitting next to them on a stone wall, and had the bad luck to teeter and fall off it just as some police were walking by.  Downtown they went, toot sweet.  The tale of LaMotta and McMahon is more concerning, but does have interesting legal aspects to it.  The two were standing outside of their car, keys in pants pocket, still wearing Lonely Hats and pumping gas in the car when a cruiser pulled up and disgorged cops who ran over and arrested both for DWI.  Interestingly, it turned out that the police never saw them actually driving at all (which they certainly should not have been doing anyway….), and that was later grounds for dismissal of those charges.  As these facts were emerging around a desk just the other side of the jail cell bars downtown, McMahon (the car’s passenger) was told he would be released with no charges after signing for his personal effects.  However, as it was later told to me, McMahon was too drunk to sign his name and was thus put back in the pokey for public intoxication.  And thereafter, in certain circles, “too drunk to sign your name” became a moniker for those who were held to have over-indulged and should cease. 

The four of us with the good judgement to abstain from Lonely Hatswere left to cage rides from strangers back out to Lake Dunlap, followed by long walks down dark dirt roads and subsequent loitering outside the locked trailer.  Various observed vignettes were related and compared, and the true import of the Lonely Hats of Doom soon became apparent. 

Now, the Comal County Sheriffs’ Department was (and is) famous for using public intoxication arrests to stoke up the public coffers every year when Wurstfest rolled around.  But I can attest that there was not an appreciable difference between the levels of inebriation of the Lonely Hat group versus the four hatless members of our troupe.  While the level of unacceptable behavior very well may have been somewhat greater in the former versus the latter, it is still difficult to ascribe the arrest vs. non-arrest statistics to anything other than the wearing of the Lonely Hats themselves.  Of course, you will have already noted the interesting psychological questions raised by the very lack of judgment that led to the purchasing and wearing of such headgear.

It goes without saying that no wearer of a Lonely Hat experienced any success in his MGI that evening.  In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and state for the record that those chapeaus created an impressivefield of GRE (Girl Repellant Effect) that radiated out at least to the line of sight.   

An Iguana's Recipe: Brave Bull

As temperatures drop (even in Mexico,) we want to curl up under a thick blanket, flip on a good flick and drink some tequila. We thought it would be fun to give our dedicated readers out there a great recipe to do just this. Warm up with the Mexican version of a Black Russian: smoky, coffee flavored Kahlúa and the heat of a smooth, 100% Blue Agave tequila. Indulge in two of Mexico’s finest spirits.

Most people don’t realize that Kahlúa comes from Mexico. The rum based coffee liquor comes from Veracruz, a state of Mexico famous for its coffee production. Kahlúa also includes a scrumptious dash of vanilla bean. Its name comes from Nauhatl, the language spoken by the indigenous people of Veracruz before the Spanish rolled in.

Most people also think both the Black Russian and the White Russian are of Russian origin.  That’s also not true, although we can imagine why one might think that. The reason Russian appears in the name is the use of Vodka as the main ingredient in the cocktail. It actually comes from a Belgian bartender in the 40’s who slapped out the cocktail for the US ambassador to Luxembourg.

The Brave Bull is the Mexican version of what should have been a Mexican cocktail all along …they just put vodka in place of tequila. And while I’m not trying to be a hater, tequila is just better. Whammy. So, try it out: 2 oz of blanco tequila (called white or silver) and 1 oz. of Kahlúa. Pour the tequila over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Add Kahlúa and swirl to perfection.

Au Naturel at the Chicken Ranch

Now I know what you’re thinking, but today’s tequila blog has absolutely nothing to do with an infamous Texas cathouse that was sanitized for a (shudder) musical starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton.  Well, maybe “absolutely” is stating it too strongly, but more on that later.

Before I moved to Mexico, I lived in Austin, Texas for 37 years, working and playing music in the city’s teeming music scene.  As you might imagine, there were a lot of characters who passed through those ranks.  Way back in the ‘80s, there was a drummer who went by the self-anointed nickname of “Ned deDrumma” (I’ve changed the first name, for reasons that will soon become apparent).  When he wasn’t in the room, he was also known as “Missile Command” for his tendency to launch drum sticks at high velocity all over the stage or practice room as they slipped accidently out of his sweaty hands.  There was no time to yell “incoming”…..you just had to rely on blind luck to avoid getting pranged by one.  Aside from the launched sticks, he was a good drummer, and had the great panache to replace one of his toms with an ancient metal minnow bucket which had “Greatest Fucking Drummer” painted across it in bold green letters.  It made quite a clamor when struck. 

One day the word went out that Ned was getting married, and that a bachelor party would be held out at The Chicken Ranch.  This was the name given to a very dodgy house that several musicians we knew shared down in South Austin, sitting on a couple of acres but still in town.  As you might imagine for a crash house shared by punk rock musicians and their friends, it was fairly unadorned and “rustic.”  Actually, it was pretty foul (more on this later), but it had the great advantage of featuring some much-needed space between the house and any neighbors.

There were going to be so many musicians at this party that the word went out to bring the amps and guitars.  Ned was going to have his drum set there, too.  So when that afternoon came, I headed over there with a bottle of tequila, an amp and this red guitar:

Everyone pitched in on some 16 gal. kegs of Shiner Bock, the de rigueur choice in those days in Austin (so much so that if you tapped the veins of any 20-something-year-old in the city, they would run dark brown with a beige head).  Once I got to The Chicken Ranch, I saw that there were already several bottles of gold tequila there (I know, I know…..but we didn’t know better than to buy gold tequila back in those ancient times).  I set up my gear over by the drum set, and looked around.  We seemed locked, stocked and ready.

A moment to describe the main house at The Chicken Ranch:  if I had to quickly come up with two adjectives that captured the structure, I would have to say “old” and “shoddy.”  It was as if someone decided that the construction budget could be shaved by leaving big gaps between the boards that framed up the house.  And by just skipping the dry-wall altogether.  So raw boards with 2-3 inch gaps between them was what you saw, inside and out.  Might have been some critters living in the walls.  The fact that the house was probably “built” in the ‘50s didn’t help matters either.  That there was no air conditioning…..in Texas…..in August…..should surprise no one.  Also, there wasn’t what you would call a lot of designer lighting in the place.  In fact, the big living room was only lit by one naked lightbulb handing down from wires that protruded from a hole in the ceiling.

And the less said about the bathroom, the better (at least there was some dark acreage outside to provide a more pristine and appealing option).

Anyway, since it was punk rock musicians and fans who lived at The Chicken Ranch, that stripe of music was quickly cranked up on the patchwork stereo as the guests started to arrive.  When the bachelor finally pulled up, a great cry arose from the throng.  Now Ned was a little older than the rest of us, and so we were a bit unsure regarding what he would allow himself to be subjected to as part of this ritualistic affair.  But when the kegs were flowing and the tequila cracked open, he dove in there with everyone else in high style.  Things ran at a fever pitch for quite a while, and then the amps were turned on and the jamming started. 

Actually, that descriptor really doesn’t really cut it.What it was, in fact, was a Big Honking Sweaty Nasty Bleedingly-Loud Power Jam.  Or somesuch.

It was gloriously awful, and between the paint-peeling volume and the cacophony of a bunch of perspiring dudes jumping up and down, it’s very likely that some of the wall critters decided to high-tail it elsewhere for the night.

In short, it was Good.

It was at this point that another car arrived, and I saw that a couple of the fellows had arranged something a little different for the night’s itinerary.  The jamming was stopped and we were all lead outside by the grinning twosome in question.  A flicker of understanding passed through the rest of the guys in the yard.  An attractive tall and leggy woman stepped out of the dented Olds 88, followed by the car’s driver. 

--a brief digression on The Napoleon Complex:  I realize that generalizing about any group of people based solely on a physical characteristic is really not a good idea because, among other reasons, the generalization very often just ain’t true when you get to know the person in question.  However, if truth be told, we must confess that in our busy lives we’ve all met short guys who seem to have a chip on their shoulder.  It seems too obvious and part of some discredited Freudian theorem, but given the macho shitheadedness that is so pervasive amongst cadres of The American Male, it’s no surprise that a short guy likely has to deal with a lifetime of crap about his stature.  And that can, it seems, sometimes have a psychological effect.

And so the…..what do we call him?......”escort” of the exotic dancer who got out of the massive Olds 88 (hmmmmm…….) was a short dude.  Pretty darned short, it has to be said.  And the comic, exaggerated swagger he used to approach us did not help dispel the impression that was forming in the minds of a group of guys who really didn’t care, generally speaking, how frigging tall another guy was.

With the much-taller girl behind him, wearing cut-offs and a t-shirt and big hoop earrings and carrying a black leather bag, the gentlemen started bellowing loud and aggressively to our little group, demanding to talk to the guys who had set up this liaison.  So the two fellows (both, unfortunately, over 6 ft. tall) stepped forward and proceeded to get yelled at in a very obnoxious manner by the shorter man.  Picture the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket and you wouldn’t be far off.  Quite a dick, really.

Oh, did I mention that he was an off-duty cop?

Res ipsa loquitur. 

And so, with the various threats, curses, etc. by which The Groundrules were established out of the way, the party cranked back up…...the punk rock was blasted again and everyone started doing what fellows do when supplied with close to 50 gallons of beer and a tableful of tequila bottles.  The exotic dancer seemed to be comfortably in the spirit of things (which means she was a lot braver than I would have been in her shoes, driving up to a dubious location like The Chicken Ranch), and happily was able to suss out that we were not a group of guys that she needed to worry about in any way.  It was a friendly (if loud, and drink-y) vibe, and everyone was having a good time.

Except for the off-duty cop.  We soon found that his belligerent and comically-aggressive entrance was not an anomaly.  It was rather, from what we could tell, his baseline personality. But we all wanted Ned the bachelor to have a great night, and so there was an unspoken agreement amongst our crew that the short cop should be catered to, libationally and in terms of flattery and excessive deference, to that end.  And so we did, which he ate up with a Big Spoon.  “Oh, tell us more of your big, brave cop stories that feature you as the hero and everyone else as schmucks”, etc. etc.

After about half an hour, the exotic dancer signaled that it was time to do her pre-arranged show.  And so the music that she’d brought was put on the stereo, the bachelor told (by her) to sit on a rickety wooden chair in the middle of the living room (the amps being pushed aside to accommodate), and the bachelor party guests formed into a big circle around the room.

When she came back out of the kitchen, she was dressed in a spangley red sequined bikini-like get up, with a cowboy hat and a feather boa. 

“Strip to your underwear,” she commanded to Ned, “and sit back down on your hands.”

A respectful silence blanketed the crowd, heads bowed in admiration and a sense of Great Moment.  You could have heard a pin drop as…….

Nah……Actually, we all hooted like gibbons and heaped mountains of gleeful verbal abuse on the bachelor in the time-honored, traditional fashion.  Lots of clapping, bellowing and stomping of feet…….the room lit only by the one dangling lightbulb, hanging—as it happened—right above the seated bachelor…..the buffeting from the ceiling fan causing the light to sway across the room and illuminate, it must be said, a pretty striking and dramatic scene.

As the bump-and-grind music started to, well, bump and grind, the dancer called for a cup of beer for the bachelor.  This was, as you can imagine, quickly proffered.  Because she had commanded him to sit on his hands during the entirety of the performance, she pushed his chin up and poured the full beer down his throat.  He did well in this task, but would have likely done better had he expected it….and so a not-insubstantial amount spilled down his face and onward to parts south.  

So Ned was now sitting in his underwear, on his hands, hot, sticky and somewhat chagrined in front of about 30 hollering friends (and one short, scowling cop).  His lot would not improve for a while yet. 

Now some of the usual provocative gyrations around the bachelor commenced, following which the dancer called loudly for two tequila shots.  These arrived to the front in an admirably short time.  Knocking back the first one herself, she then poured the second one down Ned’s throat.  This time he was better prepared and there was only minimal spillage.  More enticing gyrations around the bachelor followed, all with repeated admonitions for him to keep sitting on his hands (which he honorably did at all times).  

Then she went into the kitchen and pulled out another stash of equipment, this time from the refrigerator.  As she walked back into the living room, from behind the bachelor, there was a surge of anticipation from the crowd as we saw that Something New was going to be employed.  Not yet seeing her, but seeing our reactions, Ned started to sweat more heavily and take on a concerned aspect.

And well he might!

Yelling for the music to be turned up, the dancer stood behind the bachelor and pulled out a spray can of whip cream.  A great huzzah arose from the assembled crowd (sans the cop).  Reaching over Ned’s head, she started covering pretty much all of him with whip cream, moving sinuously all the while.  Was it in his ears?  Yep.  In his eyes?  Certainly.  Squirted in a beer that she then poured down his throat?  Without question.  Squirted under the waistband of his boxer shorts?  It must be said….yes.

This was, needless to say, tremendous fun for the rest of us.  But when she pulled out the squirt bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup, we—as they say—fell out.  As she approached with the bottle, Ned’s face ran through a range of emotions in quick order……alarm……The Urge to Flee….and, finally, grim acceptance.  In a manner much like the whip cream, the syrup was applied all over the bachelor.  Was it between his toes?  Indubitably.  Was it in his hair?  All signs point to “yes.” 

“And now, the cherry on top!” she announced saucily with a gleam in her eye.  And so the jar of maraschino cherries was extracted from her bag of tricks and used to finalize the dessertification of Ned the bachelor.  It was quite a sight, but he growled at those who tried to sneak a picture and so I can only describe it to you here.,,,,,You will have to fill in the rest via your lurid imagination. 

What followed was more of the traditional snake dance until suddenly she grabbed Ned, pulled him to his feet, and dragged him outside by his wrist.  Our friends who had arranged all this, no doubt being in on the gag, had a garden hose at ready.  And so Ned was positioned in the dirt driveway, under a mighty oak, and the hose was turned on.  The dancer then ran around him and let him have it, full force.  Truth be told, he needed it and probably would have done it to himself at that point (although he certainly would have enjoyed it less). 

At the conclusion, Ned stood before his friends in all his sodden majesty, soaked to the gills and gird only in his soggy plaid boxer shorts.  There was a slight undercurrent of uncertainty from those gathered around, wondering how he would process all that had happened to him.  Was he still a Good Sport?  Would the party continue?

Well, we needn’t have worried about that.  What happened next was something we didn’t expect, but which would truly help cement this nightas legend amongst a group of guys who had their fair share of noteworthy bachelor parties. 

Ned threw off his shorts, ran buck-ass-naked into the living room, sat down at his drums, and started to play like there was no tomorrow--the swaying bulb still giving a strange German horror movie lighting effect to the whole thing.  Once I had wrapped my mind around what had just happened, I ran in (clothed), cranked up my amp and joined in on guitar.  Bass and other guitars followed suit, and soon the paint was peeling again as the Big Honking Sweaty Nasty Bleedingly-Loud Power Jambecame that much more so.  A mosh pit formed, and the dancer dove into it.  The little cop seemed about to go apoplectic until a couple of our friends took one for the team and said “hey, can you come outside with us where it’s quieter so you can tell us more of those stories about all the wild stuff you’ve done and seen On The Job?”.  Their sacrifice was mighty, and will never be forgotten. 

Decorum prevents this narrative from continuing on to the tail end of the night, but suffice to say that Ned’s bachelor party at The Chicken Range would be very, very hard to top.

Until my bachelor party six or seven years later.  But that is another story for another time.

What's Thanksgiving without Tequila? A Recipe for a Gourmet Drunken Turkey

What’s Thanksgiving without an overabundance of delicious food? We all know the deal: eat until you have to unbutton your pants and sprawl across the couch to watch football. Atleast that’s how they’ve always done it in my family. But why stop there? Naturally there’ll be a turkey stuffed with goodness. If you’re from the south the bird might even be deep-fried. We’ve got an idea to slip tequila in the mix, and as you know, everything is better with tequila.

Thanks to all the gourmet chefs out there, a manner to glaze a holiday turkey in tequila has been invented and I’m not going to lie, I’m psyched to try it. Why drink your tequila when you can eat it too? You can impress your guests and family with a scrumptious, elegant treat that will hopefully aid their drunken state so they’ll quit bickering.

Ingredients:

Good friends and family!

A turkey

A roasting bag

1 cup of cranberry juice

2 Granny Smith apples quartered

1 white onion quartered

3 cups of Tequila

1 lemon quartered

1 orange quartered

1 tsp salt and pepper to taste

2 sticks of unsalted butter cut in 1 inch wedges

2 cups of brown sugar

1 cup of honey

2 tsp of garlic salt

1 cup of finely chopped walnuts

1 cup of finely chopped dried cranberries

Fresh sage and thyme

How to:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Wash the turkey. Pat dry and place in roasting bag in roasting pan.

The turkey rub: mix brown sugar, 1 cup of tequila, and cranberry juice in a bowl. Add walnuts and cranberries. Set aside.

Stuff the bird with lemon, orange, apples, onion, sage and thyme.

Pour honey on top of the turkey. Add salt, pepper and garlic salt on top as well.

Put slices of butter around the bottom of the turkey in the bag.

Inject one cup of tequila into the turkey.

Pour one cup of tequila over the outside of the turkey.

Bake for 5 hours.

Need some gravy with that turkey? We’ve got a simple recipe to top it off.

Gravy

Strain the juice that has accumulated in the bag after cooking. Pour the drippings into a pan. Add 1 cup of flour. Stir on medium heat until it’s mixed well.

When it’s all said and done tell you family to quit their bitchin’ and eat!

(Thanks to igourmet.com and Maestro DOBEL tequila for the recipe via http://www.hamptons.com/Food-And-Wine/Recipes/12046/Recipe-For-Thanksgiving-Day-Turkey-With-Tequila.html )

Fake Tequila?

The last time I heard of fake tequila, I was down in the pits of a bar having a heart to heart with the talent of my local gentleman’s club. She informed me of the special blend; a watered down slosh of ginger ale with just the smallest splash of coke. The bartender would serve it to the girls when a suitor was being too gracious with shots. Up until last year that was my only knowledge of fake tequila. But the tequila industry is no stranger to counterfeit product. According to PR Newswire the production and sell of counterfeit tequila is one of a few market challenges the industry faces today. Apparently during winter of 2015 there was a huge fake Tequila bust in Germany. 

Hamburg, Germany is the second biggest city, with over 100 clubs and music venues. Just that alone makes Hamburg a lucrative location for the liquor market. Thousands of people a day looking for a quick shot of Alkohol. Sometime before December , Mexican officials from the Tequila Regulation Council were tipped off in regards to a fraudulent shipment to be made in Hamburg. Thanks to the European Union regulation No. 608/2013 , officials were permitted the authority to intervene on this incident. The EU regulation awards “ Customs authorities extended powers to detain counterfeit or pirated goods at the borders of the European Union”.  And that’s just what our friends from the Mexican Tequila Regulation Council did (by the way , talk about a title that’s a mouthful). On December 10th Patricia Espinosa , Mexico’s Ambassador to Germany, saw to the destruction of counterfeit Tequila, 24,700 liters of counterfeit to be exact.

As we all know, especially if you have been keeping up with Blue Iguana Tequila, Tequila can only be called , labeled and sold as such if it has been produced from the blue agave plant in the country of Mexico. Mexico actually holds the patent for tequila as an official product of Mexico. Other countries aren’t even permitted to distill the spirit.  

The fraudulent shipment tested to possess the correct alcohol volume of 65.1% but that turned out to be false upon further investigation. Trying to pass off the moonshine as high quality tequila was a big mistake. And Mexico officials were vigilant with the cessation of the counterfeit journey. The tequila imposter was placed into a fermentation plant on the premises of  AVZ Hetlingen, the gas was then used for generating electricity. 

Gallons upon gallons of moonshine, flushed down the generator all because someone attempted to sell it off as Tequila. We hope those bootleggers learned their lesson. We sure have; don’t sell fake tequila or the Mexican Tequila Council will come for you….and they will win.

An Iguana's Guide to the Hangover and How to Avoid It

Hangovers are caused primarily from excessive drinking. The reason you felt intoxicated last night (or right now, if that’s the case) is because you were poisoned by over-indulgence in something toxic (we’re not talking about roofies here.) Even if you didn’t fight a bouncer or lose your job, you may wish for death to end the accumulation of symptoms: headache, vomiting, dizziness, cotton mouth and so on. 

Only water can soften the blow, because a large part of a hangover is dehydration. Ever wonder why you pee so much after you break the seal? Alcohol is a diuretic which means bye-bye water. It’s used in metabolizing all that booze you wish you hadn’t consumed (or are thoroughly enjoying, not thinking of tomorrow morning.) 

When your uncle tells you he has a cure for your hangover, slap him. You may be a whiny drunk, but you’re not stupid. There is no cure. But since we are experts, we can give you a few before, during, and after tips to ease the pain.

Before

1.    Eat something. If you drink on an empty stomach you’ll pass out early and probably won’t get laid. Yes, that’s a threat.

2.    Take a vitamin B supplement, which many are deficient in anyway. Alcohol zaps the vitamin from you, which is an element of the grisly hangover.

During

1.    Drink lots of water. Don’t say that …it’s not a buzzkill. It helps add the water your body needs to process the booze. If you forget, chug a few glasses right before you sleep.

2.    Eat something. If not during the drinking itself, eat a bite right before you      sleep.

3.    Avoid drinks with pre-made mixers, high fructose corn syrup or white sugar.

4.    (This is a matter of preference, but just to present the facts …) clear alcohols have less congeners (something that makes you feel like shit the next day) than colored alcohol. White wine vs. Red. Tequila vs. Whiskey. Blanco Tequila actually has the least congeners of any alcohol.

After

1.    Drink lots of water (now we sound like a broken record.)

2.    Take a non-aspirin pain reliever. Aspirin does a number on your stomach which is probably already reeling (or will be.)

3.    Take a hot shower or (if you’re one of those lucky jerks who we’re severely jealous of) hit the steam bath / sauna. By increasing circulation you can sweat out the suffering.

4.    Avoid acidic fluids like orange or tomato juice. Avoid sodas.

Blue Iguana’s myth-busting corner - apart from the myth about the sobering effects of coffee, we’ve got a few more myths to debunk.

MYTH: If you’re hungover, have a drink. You know, hair of the dog that bit you. Lie! While it may dull the pain temporarily, it will extend the overall suffering time. It’s better to put in your time, feel well and then try your luck again.

MYTH: If you’re drunk, throw up tonight to feel better tomorrow. Lie! While it may reduce the impact of the hangover, the hangover will still come and it will still suck. Apart from that, it damages your throat and esophagus as well as gives your body a crazy pH shift (and your body doesn’t like that.) Long term damage isn’t worth it. Just pay for what you ordered.