Wednesday, February 22, 2017

:: mxmo irish wake wrap up ::

For Mixology Monday 116, I had the tough task to end one of my adopted pets of sorts. It was just as tough and emotional as putting a sick cat to sleep, but was Mixology Monday every really alive? Well, it has been an electronic cocktail party of sorts, but run by real people. And many of those people I have met especially at Tales of the Cocktail and other events besides the handful living in or visiting Boston. For just shy of 11 years, some subset of the cocktail blogosphere has played a role in celebrating drink writing and the monthly theme at hand. I have been active since Mixology Monday 30 back in 2008 after following it for several months in my blog-free existence that all changed when I was invited aboard this blog.

Just like with a sick or aging cat, it's hard to pull the trigger. Participation waned both with posters and people willing to host as bloggers moved on from the not very glamorous or profitable efforts of blogging to becoming professional writers or bartenders or just merely benders of the elbow and not of the finger tips. And some moved on to life style changes such as sobriety (although I have done two alcohol-free posts for MxMo, so that in itself is not a complete excuse). The decline of participation was not enough, just as aging cat has stopped seeking out pets or play time is not enough to signal to the owner that it is time. The final straw was sickness and pain; electronically, it was the Mixology Monday WordPress site losing its log-in module perhaps due to me ignoring the suggested upgrades to the software over the last 4 years. Mixology Monday founder and website host Paul Clarke could not figure out how to help, so I decided that without a homebase that I could update, it was a sign to take Mixology Monday to the vet for the final visit.

Originally, I was just going to let the event die away after MxMo 115 and hope that no one noticed. That seemed like a cowardly approach. Instead, I thought about death. And drinking. And drinking to face another's death and in turn perhaps to face your own. When one of Boston's beloved barmen died all too suddenly a little over a year ago, I was introduced to the Irish Wake. While the family-centered open casket part of the wake was dry, the later gatherings were not. It was all so foreign to me since it was my first open casket given my family traditions for doing closed ones. Moreover, it was the first one that centered around booze for it brought people from many cities together that were united by drink and service of drink.

To get to the participants who wanted to send this event out in style, there was Pete of MeticulousMixing who formed his blog one day before his first Mixology Monday submission. Besides sharing his thoughts such as "For me, Mixology Monday was a great way to introduce myself and this blog to the public and the rest of the cocktail community. My social media footprint is rather small as I don't really like hanging out on Facebook, etc. But this format of monthly challenges was a great way to share my love for cocktails, while getting to know other cocktail blogs and enthusiasts," he mixed up a Jameson and tea based drink, the Golden Sunset. Katie of the GarnishBlog shed a tear with "I'm really glad I got to participate in so many of these events and even host one last month. It's been fun, inspiring, and a great way to connect with other cocktail nerds" and offered up an Irish whisky, coffee, and allspice number called Wake the Dead.

Gary of Doc Elliot's Mixology mused "Slán, in Gaelic, roughly translates to 'goodbye'. That is the theme for this month's Mixology Monday. It's over. It's done. Kaput. So now is goodby to the World's Best Online Cocktail Party. Hosted by our leader and fearless cat herder, Frederic Yarm of the Cocktail Virgin Slut blog, the actual theme for the final Mixology Monday is the Irish Wake. A most appropriate way to say, 'Slán'" and he matched the concept with a shooter named after that Gaelic word with Irish whiskey spiffed up with coffee, blood orange, and Fernet flavors. I was fourth in line to view the corpse and I added, "I would like to thank Paul Clarke for starting the event and for the participants of the 29 events before I started for making it such a welcoming environment, and for everyone who re-enforced the lost art of Roman numerals. And thank you to all the participants who have carried this phenomenon for over a decade. Sláinte!" before adding a recipe for Eryn Reece's Mrs. Doyle, an Irish whiskey Sour spiced with a hint of Swedish punsch.

Shaun and Christa of the BoozeNerds also began participating in MxMo early on in their blogging careers but have recently started to slow down with the posts; they provided the explanation of "As we ourselves are taking a break because the blog was starting to 'feel like work', we felt we should return to help send off this tradition that was our second post for the blog. After 4+ years of almost weekly posts, we felt we needed a break as we were struggling with what to write about and what to do. So we've stopped for awhile to gather our thoughts and reinvigorate our muses. However, MxMo has been an integral part of our own booze blog journey so we had to say goodbye in our own special way" before providing two recipes, one of which is dubbed One More Before You Go. Andrew of the HumbleGarnish blog broke his Mixology Monday lurking with a post -- his first and last one for the event; he concocted the Final Phrasing -- an Irish whiskey Sour embittered by Fernet and Campari to remind him of a friend he lost who made him think about Ferrari (Fernet-Campari) shots.

DJ of the SpiritedRemix blog shared "Mixology Monday was one of the exciting regular events that got me into creating this blog in the first place. In my opinion, its monthly themes have always been sharp enough to spur inspiration and creativity to share new ideas and spread already established ones" before relating how drinking with his relatives helped sooth the passing of a grandparent. The final Mixology Monday also woke ColonelTiki up from his blogging slumber and felt all guilty with "Forgive me Mixology Monday for I have sinned. It has been many years since my last post and your wake brings me back. You were a fantastic host. We wake you with ourselves woke – in some areas sleeping and others wide eyed to meet our challenges" before presenting his Irish coffee riff, Don't Wake Me While I'm Sleeping.

Kafka Latte of KitchenShamanism took things in a Irish whiskey Tiki direction with a riff of the Nui Nui called Death in the North Atlantic. Next, Mike of DrinksBurgh also went Tiki with a riff on the Mai Kai's Black Magic with his own Irish Magic.

Adam of MrMuddle raises a glass of his Primus tribute, O'Malley's Alley, with a cheers of "So let's raise a glass to a tradition that is ending too soon. But in true Irish Wake fashion, we know it can never truly die. Its legacy will live on in the archives, Instagrams, tweets, and new cocktails inspired by previous MxMo events. Thanks again to Frederic for keeping it going for this long, and to all who contributed over the years." Dagreb of NihilUtopia joined in one last time with the Irish Derby that balanced the whiskey and citrus with Byrrh and Cointreau.

Michael Dietsch of ADashOfBitters was there from the beginning, MxMo 1: Pastis, and could not let it go without adding in a final message. "Nearly 11 years ago, Paul Clarke — now editor of Imbibe magazine, but then just a guy in Seattle — came up with an idea called Mixology Monday... Paul came up with the idea of hosting a themed round-robin for the then-nascent cocktail-blog community. Back in 2006, there weren't many of us... I've been fascinated to watch my fellow drinks-scribes over these many years since MxMo launched. Some of us have gone on to literary achievements, writing for magazines, newspapers, and web sites. We've even seen a few book deals come out of this pursuit. Some among us have left pundit circles altogether and become bartenders or even bar owners. I know people all over the country who have tended bar for the first time after writing about cocktails on the Internrdz... I haven't participated in Mixology Monday in ... oh, hell, nearly six years. But the theme of this month's Mixology Monday is Irish whiskey, and the Irish wake, the mourning process for seeing loved ones depart these flawed bodies" before toasting Mixology Monday as a great friend.

The Muse of Doom of FeuDeVie mused "And yet, as the old maxim goes, 'those who burn brightest also burn shortest.' So many of those young guns faded before too long. Cocktail blogging is a difficult enough endeavor, even if one has a plan to balance recipe development and output with moderation and self-care. And, alas, we (and our livers) all do get older and life does have a way of getting in the way... The Cocktail Renaissance moment has passed; it's mellowed and in the process of maturation. There's still plenty of room for new recipes and ideas, but, man, would I love to see everyone's recipes get some re-love and appreciation rather than be lost to the ether. For all the joy and fire shared during the best of times, as MxMo rests I do hope our fellowship continues" before offering us the comfort food-drink of the Cinnamon Toast Old Fashioned.

BarinaCraft got historical with a scholastic analysis of 6 recipes for the Irish Cocktail with recipe #3 being my go-to. Though without a blog (he lost it by not watching his renewal dates), Gabe of CocktailNerd left a comment of "Cheers to you and Paul, Fred. Were I to have a blog untainted and co-opted by e-cigarettes, I would gladly have given this a final whirl. I met fabulous people and made amazing memories through this hobby and community so thanks again for being a part of that and keeping MxMo and the community going; it's wonderful." In ending Mixology Monday, I did think of Gabe and the others who helped to found Mixoloseum which I participated in their weekly Thursday Drink Night chatrooms that really taught me volumes about drink creation, trusting my intuitions, and knowing when to cherish and when to sink a recipe. Unfortunately, that came to its demise circa late 2012. So let us all raise a glass to the CocktailNerd blog and Mixoloseum and their fine histories back in the glory days of cocktail blogging!

It wouldn't be a true Mixology Monday without someone being late or not following the rules. For the latter, in my RSS feed, I discovered that Doug of the PeguBlog had either forgotten to alert me of his post or his alert is still making its way over as a message-in-a-bottle since he is hardcore in celebrating February as his Tiki month. Had I not stepped in to take over Mixology Monday in September of 2012, Doug's Tiki-themed Mixology Monday in February of 2012 would have been the last. I am glad I found this post and it got me emotional and teary eyed to read his tribute. Doug declared "To battle the dangers of obscurity, blogs would gather periodically in herds called 'blog carnivals', where related sites would post simultaneously on a specified subject, and link each other to draw traffic to all. In the cocktail world, the great stallion Paul Clarke summoned the herd known as Mixology Monday. After many years, Paul was no longer able to lead the herd, and Fred Yarm, the hardest working blogger in cocktails, took up the mantle and MxMo lived on. But in the fullness of time, MxMo at last dwindled. The original participants faded or were lost, and the new generations found that with tools of social media, they hardly needed the nurture and safety of the blog carnival. Now at last, the time has come to say goodbye to Mixology Monday." In not breaking theme, Doug offers up the Irish Privateer that matches the Irish whiskey and citrus with orgeat and ginger liqueur.

And of course, for the former of being late, it is the guys from Scofflaw'sDen! Marshall and Sean-Mike were two that I followed back when they, like me, wrote on LiveJournal before moving over to a blog. The two got together armed with a different bottle of Irish whiskey in each of their hands including one aptly called Writer's Tears. With Averna, orgeat, and lemon in the mix, their Irish Goodbye drink was anything but that (since plenty of MxMo veterans have dropped away without notice).

And it wouldn't be a Mixology Monday without an after the post went live late, here starring Joel from SouthernAsh. Besides presenting a rum-Irish whiskey Old Fashioned, Joel praised the event by declaring, "Mixology Monday has made me a better cocktalian, a better blogger, and a better person. The themes were often challenging and asked me to stretch from my comfort zone. I read, researched, experimented, and sampled more cocktails and variations than I can recall on account of the calls for drinks in this party. I learned to better balance my cocktails through trial and error, improved my presentation and photography from the inspiration provided from the fellow participants, and enjoyed getting to take part in this corner of the cocktail culture revival." Cheers, Joel!

Pardon me if I quoted from your blogs a bit too hardcore, but I wanted a record of some of the words spoken in case your blogs go the way of the Dodo a few years from now. It is February 22nd, 2017, and I, fortified by coffee, am ready to lower this coffin into the grave. With regrets, but that is life. Cheers to all who have joined Mixology Monday on its journey and it's desire to unite cocktail writers near and far. Cheers to Paul Clarke for bringing life to the concept. And thanks to everyone who took the time to host and/or write to keep the beast alive.

Post-note: Please read MxMo founder Paul Clarke's thoughts in the comment section of this post. 


pc said...

Thanks for all your hard work, Fred--I know firsthand how much it takes to run Mixology Monday, and I was happy to put it in your more-than-capable hands back in 2012. Sad to see MxMo pass, but its time had come--I'm happy to have started something that brought so many people together for more than 10 years, and although I missed a final round of participation (my blogging days are also done), I raised a glass of Red Breast in toast to all of the participants, for this final Mixology Monday and in all MxMos past.

- pc

Colonel Tiki said...

It's a shame and at the same time, I am grateful for the funeral to bring us together again.

DJ HawaiianShirt said...


bridgetwhoplaysfrenchhorn said...

Thanks for all of your hard work on this---cheers!