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Dave Pappas insists that, for the sake of full transparency, he is identified as a non-combat veteran of the Persian Gulf War. He stresses that it is an important distinction.
Pappas has dedicated his post-service career to veterans. And, as a former active-duty marine, he can understand some of the challenges veterans face while away from home and experiencing military life.
Veterans face disproportionate amounts of stresses in their civilian lives. In addition to homelessness and extended waits for services and support, the veteran suicide rate is devastatingly high. According to a 2017 article in U.S. Veterans Magazine, citing statistics from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, each day there are around 20 veterans who commit suicide.
“As someone who was in the service but didn’t experience combat,” Pappas says, “I was frustrated and I wanted to do something.”
And so Pappas, who had dedicated time and money to visiting breweries and beer bars around New England on his motorcycle, decided to combine his love of craft beer with military philanthropy.
The Black Ale Project teams up with different breweries to create a dark beer, the proceeds of which are donated to a military-based charity. So far, the project has raised almost $60,000 for a variety of military and veteran-based organizations around New England and the country.
Another thing Pappas insists is that he never touches the money. The breweries deliver the checks directly.
Other charitable causes to which Americans donate time and money, such as philanthropic 5Ks or golf tournaments, tend to garner attention because the recipients of those charities are people within our community — our moms and our neighbors, for instance. Whereas war exists as an abstraction for many Americans without veterans in their communities. It’s Pappas’s intent to take the Black Ale Project nationwide and to increase awareness for our veterans.
“Beer is a social beverage,” Pappas says. “I hope we are raising awareness to get people thinking about veterans and talking about veterans. What better way than with a brewery pouring a beer for and sometimes with our veterans?”
So far, the Black Ale Project’s reach has hit five of the six New England states, and Rhode Island will soon join via an upcoming partnership with Cranston’s Revival Brewing. California is scheduled to participate courtesy of national behemoth Ballast Point.
Other big-name partnerships are coming down the pipeline in 2018. Black Ale Project beers will be made with Delaware’s Dogfish Head, Colorado’s Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, and New Jersey’s (veteran-owned) Backward Flag Brewing Company.
One of the project’s more prolific contributors is Massachusetts’ Wormtown Brewery. The Worcester-based company collaborated with Black Ale Project twice already — Wormtown owner Ben Roesch calls one of their collaboration brews a “bastardized dunkelweiss” made from the brewery’s winter seasonal and hefeweizen yeast and a black IPA. Wormtown will be partnering with Black Ale Project again in the fall.
“We’re involved in a bunch of different charity beers,” Roesch says. “[Pappas] has been in the beer scene for a long time. When someone told me about the project he was getting together, we knew we wanted to be involved.”
All the proceeds of both beers Wormtown has produced for Black Ale Project were donated to Massachusetts-headquartered Veterans Inc., one of the nation’s leaders in helping end homelessness among veterans. Funds have also been raised for Purple Hearts Reunited, The Veterans’ Place, Pets for Vets, and many others. The project’s first collaborator, Medusa Brewing Company, raised a whopping $10,000 for the New England Center and Home for Veterans and the Veteran Support Alliance.
Pappas says he was inspired to focus on black ales because he and his wife love dark beers. He jokes that he should have named it the Super Dank New England IPA Project; “then lines would be around the corner,” he laughs.
Pappas acknowledges the significance of black beers equaling black ops, but the more important component for him is to introduce macro drinkers to a dark beer. Supporting a good cause has crossover appeal, so the people who are typically drinking light lagers come in to champion their veterans. It “prompts people to give dark beer a try,” Pappas says.
Memorial Day has become the official kickoff to summer season. It’s a weekend of day drinking and parties. This year, raise a glass to our veterans. You might just be raising some money for them, too.
It started in Hollywood’s Golden Age, when viewers were first introduced to the effortlessly smooth, white-jacket-and-black-bow-tie wearing bartender in “Casablanca.” And still today, with the hard-drinking protagonists of the Netflix generation —here’s looking at you, Don Draper — cocktails have had a storied relationship with moving pictures.
Pop culture cocktails range from blockbuster to cult classic, black and white to ultra HD. Here are 11 movies and television shows and the cocktails they made famous.
It’s hard to think of a better known on-screen cocktail reference than that line — shaken, not stirred, and preferably uttered in a Scottish brogue. The bond between movie and drink (sorry, I’ll get my coat) runs so deep, it’s become practically impossible to order a Vodka Martini without subconsciously channeling your inner Sean Connery.
For some, casting Daniel Craig as the sixth actor to play James Bond was controversial (a blond Bond, how dare they?!). When it comes to cocktails, however, Craig went straight to the text: In the 2006 blockbuster “Casino Royale,” he orders a Vesper Martini — “Three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet” — a cocktail invented by Fleming in the 1953 novel of the same name. In the film, when Craig-as-Bond is asked if he’d like a Vodka Martini shaken or stirred, he irritably replies, “Does it look like I give a damn?”
The Big Lebowski
While it may not have enjoyed immediate box office success, the Coen Brothers’ comedy crime caper did big things for this creamy digestif. A combination of vodka, coffee liqueur, and light cream, the White Russian — or “Caucasian,” as slacker lead the “Dude” Lebowski calls it — appears nine times during the film, and its popularity surged with the movie’s cult following. Just like the Dude himself, his followers abide, man!
If, like some of us here at VinePair HQ, you deem a crystal whiskey decanter to be an attractive and practical desktop accessory, you’re likely a fan of the ‘60s-based TV drama “Mad Men.” Drinking is a central theme in the lives of the show’s fictional, high-profile Madison Avenue advertising executives. None more so than lead character Don Draper, whose favorite cocktail — the Old Fashioned — had disappeared into relative oblivion when the show first aired in 2007. A little over 10 years later, and driven by the success of the binge-worthy drama, the Old Fashioned can arguably be described as the most successful cocktail of the past decade.
It is also the favorite drink of Robert De Niro’s character in the nightmarish in-law comedy, “Meet the Parents,” with multiple references and appearances throughout the feature. Fun fact: Though it is not his actual favorite cocktail — that’d be a classic Martini with a lemon twist — this is not the first movie in which De Niro has had an on-screen connection with the classic highball cocktail. In the gangster epic “Casino,” Tom Collins is the alias that his character, Sam “Ace” Rothstein, uses to register his personal safe deposit box.
Even though the majority of the action in this Hollywood classic takes place in the multipurpose nightclub, casino, and “gin-joint,” Rick’s Café Americain, we actually only witness the preparation of two cocktails in the entire film. One is a non-specific “Champagne cocktail.” The other is the now-legendary French 75, a boozy World War I-era concoction said to hit you with the full force of a 75-millimeter French artillery gun.
The Blues Brothers
Like many of the cocktails on this list, the Orange Whip enjoyed a resurgence in popularity hot off of its big-screen cameo. In the 1980s musical-comedy “The Blues Brothers,” Jake Candy’s character orders three of the rum-and-vodka-based, sweet, frothy cocktails, declaring: “Who wants an Orange Whip? Orange Whip? Orange Whip? Three Orange Whips!” The line has gone on to receive numerous popular culture references.
The Red Eye
There can surely be no more fitting an inclusion to a list about movies and cocktails than a movie entitled “Cocktail.” Released in a bygone epoch, when pre-Scientology Tom Cruise was still considered cool (no, really), the film tells the story of an aspiring business student who takes up flair bartending to cover his tuition. The movie introduces viewers, and a baby-faced Cruise, to the Red Eye, a now-popular hangover cure consisting of vodka, Bloody Mary mix, cold beer, and a cracked raw egg.
Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist
If you were somehow stuck in the limbo of repeating one day of your life, over and over again, how would you fill your time? In “Groundhog Day,” cantankerous weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) decides the best use of his seemingly unlimited existence is to try to woo a co-worker (Andie MacDowell). It takes a little longer than he bargained for, during which time he learns that a sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist is reminiscent of “Rome — the way the sun hits the buildings in the afternoon,” and that one should always toast to world peace. Amen.
Some Like it Hot
Given that it is one of the six basic drinks named in David Embury’s definitive manual “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” perhaps the only thing more famous than a Manhattan cocktail is the star-studded cast of this 1959 romantic comedy, which included Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, and Jack Lemon. Monroe famously prepares the whiskey-and-sweet-vermouth-based drink in a hot water bottle “shaker,” using bourbon instead of a more traditional rye base.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Singapore Sling with Mezcal on the Side
“Twenty-four hours ago we were sitting in the Pogo Lounge of the Beverly Heights Hotel — in the patio section of course —drinking Singapore Slings with mezcal on the side, hiding from the brutish realities of this foul year of Our Lord…”
If you’ve ever been brave foolish enough to try and recreate a Hunter S. Thompson drinking session, you’ll know that this combination has the potency to do way more than just “hide” you from reality. While you might, just, remain on your feet after a couple of rounds of Singapore Slings (which contain a truly intoxicating mix of gin, cherry brandy, and Benedictine), the mezcal chaser is certain to land a knockout blow to even the most veteran of drinkers.
But every time you scan a back bar for your favorite bottle, or take your time savoring a great Margarita, you could be overlooking one of the major game changers in tequila: Don Julio.
At a time when tequila production meant quantity over quality, Don Julio dared to challenge the status quo: The company coddled its agave, bottled short when everyone else went tall, and even stripped its aged tequila down to crystal-clear agave bones.
Here are nine things you need to know about super premium tequila O.G., Don Julio.
It was founded by a teenager.
Most of us at 17 are just beginning to dabble in angry poetry . But in 1942 in Jalisco, Mexico, one 17-year-old was not only supporting his entire family financially, he was laying the foundation for what would become the world’s first luxury tequila brand. And yes, that makes getting published in your high school lit mag a little less epic an achievement.
That teenager was Don Julio.
Just like there was a real Richard Hennessy, there was indeed a Don Julio (no word yet whether Ziggy “I Dare You to Drink This” Popov is a real person). When Don Julio González began distilling tequila as a teenager, he didn’t have big business plans. He was simply trying to supplement a weekly income of 9 pesos for his family. He also just so happened to care about tequila. So at a time when it was just a workhorse drink — fiery, raw, and rough around the edges with more than enough kick to knock you head-first into sweet oblivion — Don Julio staked his future on the idea that tequila might someday be savored, sipped, and described in as much loving detail as fine whiskey. (He was right.)
The distillery was built on borrowed money.
Most worthwhile ventures — higher education being the one soul-crushing exception — start with a loan. When the just-barely-post-adolescent Don Julio decided he was going to introduce his exacting, persnickety standards to tequila production, his first stop was at the doorstep of a local businessman, asking for a sizable loan to start his distillery. The businessman agreed, agave hearts found their way to ovens, and Don Julio’s first tequilas were bottled. (Though apparently only friends and family got to drink the earliest stuff, and we hate them for it.)
Don Julio was the granddaddy of “Super Premium.”
Beyond the standards Don Julio introduced to the industry, which emphasized health and character of the Blue Weber agave itself, the brand fundamentally changed the way consumers regarded tequila, laying the foundation for what we now call “super premium” (where bottles sell for $26.67 or more). Between 2012 and now, more than seven decades after Don Julio began distilling, sales in the super premium tequila category have gone up 706 percent.
The bottle design was intentionally off-trend.
In Don Julio’s time, tequila bottles were purely utilitarian, long, lean, and generally tucked under the table until someone’s drink needed topping off. They certainly weren’t a point of visual interest (not like some of the stranger specimens out there today). Don Julio dared to go off trend, designing tequila bottles that weren’t just short but almost awkwardly squat. The goal was to create not just a visually distinctive bottle, but one you could keep on the table without blocking anyone’s view of your beautiful, drunken face.
The Master Distiller knows his way around a chemistry set.
Don Julio master distiller Enrique de Colsa was formerly an industrial engineer, working in what he describes as “liquid handling,” a field we have to assume involves lots of chemical equations and the vigilant use of rubber gloves. As a result, de Colsa handled things like filters, compressors, and even bombs. De Colsa eventually moved toward perfumes and, eventually, spirits. When he met Don Julio in 1998 he was actually working for a rival distiller; Don Julio immediately plucked him away and made de Colsa master distiller for the entire brand in 2004.
Its añejo is more tequila and less barrel, and that’s weird (but good).
Most reposado and añejo tequilas do their aging in repurposed barrels, absorbing a bit of added character from the wood. Don Julio follows suit: Its reposado spends eight months in old Kentucky bourbon barrels. But it goes a bit off-trend yet again with its añejo, which ages for 18 months in reposado barrels (basically a doubly used barrel). The result is gentler impact from the wood itself, with more of the agave character left to shine through, making it an anomaly among aged tequilas.
This tequila has something in common with Jack Daniels and Crystal Pepsi.
Consumers tend to think older spirits should be darker in color, so some spirits producers (legally) feed our visual lust with caramel coloring. Don Julio bucks the trend with its “Claro” añejo. The brainchild of master distiller de Colsa, the Claro is aged for the same 18 months as the regular añejo, but the finished tequila is then charcoal-filtered to remove any color. Like Crystal Pepsi, it goes clear in a category where clear is uncool.
Almost 80 years later, the company is still pushing category limits.
Don Julio (the man) set out to reclassify the tequila category, and Don Julio (the brand) hasn’t stopped. Now, in the era of “super premium” tequilas, we’re slowly beginning to enjoy a new whiskey-rivaling category of tequila: extra añejo. To qualify as extra añejo, a tequila has to be aged for a minimum of three years, making it both more expensive and, ideally, more complex. Don Julio’s extra añejo Real tequila is distilled for anywhere from three to five years. If you do find a bottle — which can retail upwards of $350 — no, those aren’t hands, er, cupping anything. They’re agave fronds. Appropriately. Ahem.
In New York, where VinePair HQ is located, we’re privileged to live with relatively lax liquor, wine, and beer laws.
Alcohol laws vary aggressively by state, though. Every state has its own set of allowances and restrictions, some of which are really weird. (In Oklahoma, shop owners cannot sell “low-point beer” — beer 3.2 percent ABV and below — to someone who is naked or showing nip. What the what, Oklahoma?)
Regardless of the outdated and oppressive nature of restricting alcohol sales at certain times, days, or holidays, you may be wondering: Can I buy booze on Memorial Day?
The answer is, in most cases, yes. But even in the free world, there are some restrictions, and one state that’s an unexpected, flat-out “no.”
Here’s a helpful state-by-state chart to guide you in your last-minute alcohol purchasing decisions on Memorial Day.
Prohibited between 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. in some counties.