How to top Proton Tuesday?! Radioactive Valentine’s Day!

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As usual, it started with zapping

But it was a special day!  The last day of treatment!  Which means bell ringing time.  Pizza was devoured. Bells were rung.


Feels good to be done.


A happy spool

There was little time left for Baltimore’s museum collection.  We headed directly to the American Visionary Art Museum.



Das boots (slightly radioactive)


After purchasing some items, many of which were plastic, we headed to the aquarium, driving like lost tourists.

The parking angel (really does something indescribably to the Audi)

The National Aquarium was mobbed on a Valentines Day night.










And then it was back down to Old Town for a very late dinner indeed at the Majestic.  Super fun at the bar (happy Catoctin Creek day!), and a delicious dinner.


The bar at the Majestic

Scallops. If you can’t watch them in an aquarium, by all means eat them.


Last word


I will dearly miss Proton Tuesdays (and Radioactive Valentines), but I hope they never happen again.





Proton Tuesday at Columbia Room

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For the penultimate Proton Tuesday, we celebrated at the Columbia Room (which is turning 10 not too long from now).  Craft cocktails are curative.  There was also Manifesto before zapping.



The best museum hot chocolate evah




Entranced and entrancing



Corduroy (on a whim)

The Columbia Room

Happy Birthday Columbia Room


Course one from the days of yore




Popcorn with truffle


Chartreuse (green and definitely good for you)




The fog



You have no idea how good this duck BBQ is. OMG.



Happy Birthday!




Proton Tuesday Alive

Other Proton Tuesdays included: the Portrait Museum and Fiola Mare as well as the Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy, car buying, and Jojo Rabbit.  Love you Spool.

The 2018 Solstice Fire


The weather cooperated spectacularly for the 2018 solstice party. The rain cleared for a day or two. The moon was full. It was a crisp cold night with a beautiful sky.

Our ritual of gathering good friends from all walks of life every six months took place again without a hitch. Thanks to all who came to help us turn the sun.

Sunset before the party

This year, the fire lighting was cheered on by a rising full moon. The fire caught quickly and burned hard and fast.

Full moon and unlit pile


Lighting (time to run away)

Lots of people arrived for the lighting this year

Every solstice party is different in interesting ways. This year lots of people showed up for the lighting at 5:45. Then the BOILO got the party rocking.  The lighting is always a sight to see.

The fire gets going

2018 solstice fire



The moon was incredible and lent a silver tinge to everything.

The barn was alight in party mode

This year the unplanned potluck food supply was great with chilli, meatballs, sloppy joes, fried chicken, and even krispy kreme donuts. The barn bar took a licking. Gonna need some serious restocking before summer!

Sorry about the terrible Christmas music in the barn. That’s just how it goes. At least there is a disco ball.

Marco. BOILO! There’s nothing quite like extremely local product.


A violin burns

Possibly the most ridiculous and surprising part of the evening was the violin sword fight instigated by Josh Henry (my trusty and talented violin and bow repair guy). Unbeknownst to everyone, Josh brought three dead rental violins to the party. So when we got them out and started sword fighting vigorously with them and then threw their remains into the fire, the 20 somethings who were already wondering just what those old people across the fire were all about, freaked out. They thought just for the smallest moment that I was destroying my actual violin.

LOL! Got you.

There was lots of music this year.  It started early and went late.  Thanks music makers!  We love playing with you all.


Late night the music continues


Ember glow

I know, lets do it again this summer!!

Moonglow (picture by Amy Barley)

Amer Picon Experiment 3

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We’re there I think. Our third shot at homemade Amer Picon is in the jar. Next comes siphoning.

This time we adjusted the recipe only slightly with the addition of some bark infusion. Hopefully that will not kill us.

The key to all this is make sure the oranges are green and burn the heck out of the caramel.


Strain the infusions (three this time)

Mix in a big old jar.

Looking good. Once the material settles, we’ll extract our Picon. We need a centrifuge!

Thanks to Christa for the raw materials and the inspiration!

How to make Boilo


Ever since we made a batch, we’ve been running around yelling “Marco” “Boilo!” which after enough boilo is highly amusing. But I digress. What IS boilo anyway??

There is nowhere with more authority to turn to than David Wondrich, who wrote this Daily Beast article. Thanks for cluing us in!

After reading the article (you should read it) we were bummed to find that there was no associated recipe.

Twitter to the rescue! David provided this pointer.

An unofficial boilo recipe. Realize that boilo is an individual thing. Make it your own.

Of course we had to make some…

We made some adjustments to the recipe…abandoning raspberry ginger ale for black cherry selzter and ginger beer. We also added Star Anise and Mace which we just so happened to have sitting around. This is upscale boilo by god!

We boiled for a good 15-20 minutes, letting the spices infuse. But then we let the liquid cool down so that none of our alcohol would evaporate when we added it.

Since we have very good access to local shine, why, we used that. the gallon that we used clocked in not too hot at 107.4 proof. Believe me, the shine from around here is an outstanding product, and it clocks in higher than that with some regularity.

At first we were thinking 2 quarts. But then, what the hell…

The warm boilo was pretty good, but it was WAY better this morning after some more steeping time.

Final product came out just shy of two gallons. We imagine it’s somewhere between 60 and 80 proof. Can’t bubble it since there is so much crap in the liquid.

Anyway, thanks David!



Catoctin and Kimpton – Cocktail Combo.

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Visited the Lorien Hotel (a Kimpton) in Alexandria for an evening where friends of ours from different lands and lives unknowingly were working on the same project – a tasting of Catoctin Creek’s locally distilled and bottled rye and brandy’s paired with Chef’s choice hors d’oeuvres from the Lorein.  Our friends Becky and Scott Harris have created a high level distillery in Purcellville, VA and Steph Vogel, another amazing person-friend runs the Lorien. The perfect cocktail storm.


Serious mixing and choosing


Yes, that one.


All enjoy.


Good Stuff.


Becky explains the science.


“The barrels are this big! ” Scott


“We just have beer here.”

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My kind of bar! Proletariat Bar, NYC. Superb beer, kind and knowledgeable service, and perfect conversation. DSCF0473DSCF0483DSCF0482DSCF0485DSCF0476

The Great 2017 Amer Picon Experiment

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Because of the Liberal, that’s why. It all started as a hack of Torani Amer and Regan’s Orange bitters #6. But that was before Amer Picon from France. Now there is always Amer Picon in the house, a band called the Bitter Liberals, and a house cocktail.

Then came a Thanksgiving, Christa, and talk of Neroli-Petitgrain oranges growing in East Tennessee.

So yes, Amer Picon. Lets make it. Using ultra local super hot white dog. Lets make it.

December 15

December 19


Christmas Eve

And then the big day: January 5, 2017

The final ingredient mix

The final ingredient mix

Orange peel infusion jar

Orange peel infusion jar

Straining the peel infusion with a coffee filter

Straining the peel infusion with a coffee filter

Measuring the proof

Measuring the proof

A drop from 165 to 110

A drop from 165 to 110

*** 110 proof orange peel infusion

Straining the orange leaf infusion

Straining the orange leaf infusion

*** Orange leaf infusion

Caramelized orange juice with brown sugar and butter

Caramelized orange juice with brown sugar and butter

*** Caramelized orange juice



*** Gentian



*** Quina


Very close but needs some sugar, so simple syrup of demerara.



Blend, taste, adjust, work. (Two half batches combined was our methodology.)

Notes and the final recipe.

Notes and the final recipe.

Proof is in the Liberal.

A Liberal with homemade Amer Picon

A Liberal with homemade Amer Picon


Pineapple + Jalapeño = Yowza

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Somehow an actual pineapple grew here in Virginia. It came due today.

Ripe Pineapple

Ripe Pineapple

Around here, when you get ripe you may well end up in a cocktail.

Put the lime in the pineapple

Put the lime in the pineapple

Pineapple + jalapeño mergerita
2 oz liquified mix of 1/2 jalapeño and a tiny cored pineapple
2 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz blue agave tequila
2 t blue agave syrup
Stir down. Strain into cocktail glass.



YOWZA, that jalapeño is hot

YOWZA, that jalapeño is hot

Music, Love, Laughter and Charity in a Barn


Take a 95 degree day, a cool concrete floor, sawdust, music gear, great friends and live music, and what do you get? A fantastic show.

Gary McGraw having a blast

Gary McGraw having a blast

A magical evening supplied by Peggy Duvall and Where’s Aubrey. Thanks you guys!

Not only did we all have a great time, we also raised $553 for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

The stage before the show.

The stage before the show.



A song about a cocktail.

Rhine SIngleton

Rhine SIngleton

Where's Aubrey on a sultry summer night

Where’s Aubrey on a sultry summer night

This xylophone is not stolen property

This xylophone is not stolen property

Gary McGraw of Where's Aubrey on mandolin

Gary McGraw of Where’s Aubrey on mandolin

Gary McGraw of Where's Aubrey on violin

Gary McGraw of Where’s Aubrey on violin

Special thanks to Michael Hobert and Emily Shepardson for the pictures and videos.

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