Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Those Girls Are Tough, They Eat All That Muktuk"

-- a former Nome-Beltz high school student, on her memories of playing against Barrow's high school girls basketball team, a perennial contender in 3A basketball until yesterday when they beat ACS.

Congratulations to the Barrow Lady Whalers!

Well, I survived a three day jaunt day to Los Anchorage to watch the high school basketball tournament. Sadly, the team I was rooting for had a rough tourney and finished out of the top three.

Anchorage was as I expected. I spent the majority of my waking hours sitting in a freaking car. I also tried unsuccessfully to have a Manhattan while out on the town.

How, you ask? Well, after my two companions ordered Long Island Iced Teas, I opted for a less dangerous beverage, the Manhattan, which for those of you who are under the age of 70, is mostly just bourbon whiskey with a little flavoring. How hard could it be?

Plenty difficult, it turns out, for the young himbo behind the bar. Having run into obstacles before when ordering the drink, I asked the young guy specifically, "Can you make me a Manhattan?" In hindsight, I suppose some responsibility for the ensuing failures must rest on my shoulders. You see, I neglected to ask if he could make an actual, not approximation of one.

I watched him make the first drink, wondering about his addition of club soda, and the dumping of equal parts of Maker's Mark and some other unknown liquor, but decided to turn this into an instructional moment and let him deliver it. He actually asked me (after I made a face that said, unquestionably, "ick") "How is it?"

At which point I asked him if he knew how to make one. He admitted no. So I explained, and in a nice, nonbitchy way, that it is typically 2 parts bourbon, 1 part sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters and a marashino cherry. But feeling generous. I said I would drink the bad drink anyway, and we would review the recipe when I ordered another one. I went back to playing pool.

So, I was much surprised to return to the bar to have a sip of the Not A Manhattan and find a new drink next to it. The bartender explained that he gave it another try in my absence. So, with renewed hope for the younger generation's work ethic and drink making potential, I took another sip.

Good God! It was worse. I asked as to the nature of the vermouth, which clearly was not sweet vermouth. "I put extra dry in," he said proudly. With much patience I pointed out that that was not what I had asked for - and it turned out that the bar lacked sweet vermouth. He said he would try it with with triple sec, if I liked. Appalled at the suggestion and waste of perfectly good whiskey so far, I gave up and switched drinks.

Which was how ended up drinking shots of Patron chased by hefeweizen and spent the entire next day hungover, in traffic, cursing Anchorage.

Above: Muktuk! Photo pinched from the UAF website,
Manhattan: Pinched from


KCB said...

So what is muktuk? We don't have it down here. If it toughens kids up, I might need some.

Ishmael said...

I was just going to ask what bar it was in Anchorage that screwed the pooch on the Manhattan, (and consider it asked, please), but I thought I'd answer the muktuk question, since I've got 10 pounds of it in my freezer right now:

Whale skin and blubber. You can get away with just the blubber, but it's often attached. Tastes like fish. Very high in Omega 3 fatty acids. One asumes.

And since I've got some George Dickel, sweet Vermouth and bitters I'm going to make me a Manhattan (damn my sweet tooth for eating all my maraschino cherries).

CabinDweller said...

Wow, I've never seen it with just the blubber. I've seen beluga muktuk, but mostly just had bowhead muktuk.

And KCB, in the picture above, the black is the skin and the white is the blubber. Usually, it is kept in the freezer until you cut it up into tiny little slivers to snack on. It's very much a delicacy to Inupiat folks, but some whiteys (like me) and other people like it, too.

Ish, Club Oasis was the culprit. Not normally a bar I'd go to anyway, but was there with friends.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

In my book, bourbon is best imbibed straight. No rocks. And none of this "mixed drink" froo-froo stuff. That's a terrible thing to do to bourbon, whiskey, OR scotch. Save that mixing for martinis (gin, Tanqueray) and white russians.

CabinDweller said...

Hee, only someone from Ester would consider a Manhattan froo-froo. :)

Generally, I like my bourbon on the rocks and my scotch neat.

Perhaps we need to convene a taste-test at the Eagle sometime?

Ishmael said...

Can I come to the taste-test? I can bring some muktuk....

CabinDweller said...

I have a dream, but only a small one, not a Martin Luther King scale one, that one day we will convene an Alaska bloggers event. Hopefully at a bar. But where to meet? Most places are hell-and-gone from each other.

Of course, Fairbanks, being in the middle and all, would be perfect. :)

Ishmael said...

I've been to Fairbanks many times and would not be opposed to going back some day. But I'm pretty sure the only thing it's in the middle of is nowhere. ;-)

I whipped out Google Earth and did some crude measurements and calculations and figure the geographic middle of the state is about 5.5 miles SSW of Lower Kalskag, across the Kuskokwim River.