Bulletin Board 6
Surplus military kit as your summer outerwear, rediscovering the daiquiri, and fueling your fire
It’s that time of year when I switch into rosé, icy beer, margaritas, and daiquiris. Last summer my buddy Morgan Weber wrote this piece for the magazine, and I thought it was a good idea to repurpose it here. If you’re looking to switch up your cocktail repertoire this summer, check out Michael Ruhlman’s new book The Book of Cocktail Ratios: The Surprising Simplicity of Classic Cocktails—it’s a great bench standard for the classics.
By Morgan Weber
The absolute king of simple, refreshing cocktails, the daiquiri—like most classics—had a rough time in the last quarter of the 20th century. So much so that most people immediately think of the daiquiri as the corn syrup-riddled, roadside slushy that has made Louisiana’s drive-thru’s legendary.
Alas, we have to dig backwards to fully appreciate this drink of drinks. Invented in the early 1900s, the daiquiri didn’t really come into its own until WWII, when whiskey and vodka became almost impossible to acquire. Rum, however, was easily attainable, thanks to Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy,” which allowed open trade and travel with Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean. With a steady influx of good rum, the daiquiri finally became fashionable.
With three-ingredient drinks, the quality of each one becomes important. What I love about the daiquiri is that with simple substitutions in the type of rum or sugar used, the flavor spectrum can be wildly varied. From funky un-aged Jamaican rum to those 20-year-old butterscotch bombs from Panama, they all have their place in your daiquiri. Be experimental with your favorite rums, or even blends of different rums, in your recipe. Aged rums will soften this drink up, while funky light rums can bring a lot of interesting character to the party.
The next most-important thing to consider is the ratio of your three ingredients. Of all the daiquiri ratios I’ve tried over the years, nothing comes close to the balance of Simon Difford’s unconventional recipe, which might seem heavy-handed on the rum at first glance. Though generous on the rum and the lime, it has way less sugar than one might imagine. Bear with me on this one.
2.5 oz rum
.75 oz fresh lime juice (or .5 oz fresh lime juice + .25 oz fresh Key lime juice)
.5 oz rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar:water)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake hard until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with either a lime wheel or Luxardo cherry.
It’s warming up and grilling season has begun. As you pull out your grilling weapon of choice, there are some decisions to be made about what fuel you use to grill your meat, fish and veg. I use charcoal grills (I don’t own a gas grill) and mine is a classic Weber Kettle (22 inch). I use a chimney and paper to get the charcoal sparked and hardwood lump is my favorite for grilling. I have used briquettes, Matchlight in a pinch, compressed bamboo, other composite wood briquettes, and even dry grape vine trimmings that are very popular in the Médoc region in France where I have a house. The sarments (as they are called) burn hot and fast—perfect for quick sears on chops and cooking thin sausages—but they do not have much life, so I often combine them with charcoal if I have to grill thicker cuts of meat or whole fish. Stateside I use hardwood lump because it is natural, not impregnated with chemicals, catches quickly, burns hot and fast in the beginning, and tempers to a very controllable heat. It also produces less ash which is nice for clean up. I like brands like Cowboy which is readily available in most of the markets where I shop, but my favorite is Royal Oak. In its distinctive red bag (they come in 8 lbs, 15.44 1bs and 30 lbs bags!), Royal Oak is made in the USA from American Oak and Hickory. These woods are perfect for high temperature grilling, slow and low cooking and smoking.
I have been collecting vintage and surplus military stuff since high school. Mostly outerwear, which I actually wear, and don’t just collect. I own WWII Marine HBT, Airborne jump jackets, M65s, and the like but my favorite Army surplus for cool spring and summer days/ nights is the Vietnam era jungle jacket. I have a very early issued one from 1965 with epaulettes and exposed buttons and rip stop angle pocket versions in olive drab and woodland camo (my grail is a country tiger stripe… a boy can dream…) These jackets are great worn over a striped T or polo, layered with a lightweight sweater or even with dressed up with a tie or neck scarf. I have also been known to wear them on their own - sleeves rolled up with a pair of shorts in the summer, channelling my inner Capt. Willard. Never get out of the fucking boat.
Sources: I find mine everywhere from hipster vintage shops, gun shows, military surplus shops and online. The super rare and cool can be found through my buddy Rich at The Major’s Tailor.
Here's a vintage jungle jacket in olive at Alpha Industries: https://www.alphaindustries.com/products/rjj53000c1-jungle-jacket-special-forces?variant=40113777934391
As a long time kettle lover, what do you do with all the small pieces at the bottom of a lump charcoal bag? I find they pack so tight I can never get a good fire with the bottom half of the bag