Moonriver #54 - Viking Blod
This month I'll share with you something I always keep in stock for myself.
As you get into this hobby, you'll undoubtedly try a cornucopia of unanticipated flavors. Some will rest better than others, populating your ever-expanding web of molecular gastronomy and poor life decisions.
From these experiences, we settle on a few simple truths:
1. Campari is a waste of time and ruins almost every drink it's used in, even the ones where it's supposed to be the star. Like a drunk Aunt that just can't seem to get past the idea that men can paint their nails and still bench 250.
2. Bad Irish Whiskey is basically dirty water.
3. People have too many opinions about wine, and sommeliers are guessers with better guesses than you.
4. Stella Rosa may be carbonated, but it's tastier and cheaper than your 20-year old vintage mahogany aged piss.
5. Midori ruined my childhood.
6. Fireball is better than you remember. ...You're still drinking antifreeze, though.
7. Disaronno is the king's amaretto.
8. Jose Cuervo is garbage, liquid and business.
9. The existential dilemma of watching your hair fall out while every other member of your family rocks a full fop is a fate worse than death.
10. Viking Blod is a damn fine mead.
For those uninitiated, Mead is an ancient drink derived from blending raw honey and water and yeast. Sometimes you warm the water and mix in the honey, sometimes you do it with room temp water and honey and a jug and a little dance for arm day, but the mixing is common. The mixture is called a Must, and additional ingredients have been introduced over the ages. Energizers and yeast nutrients, cinnamon sticks and diced grapes, dried orange peels and black tea.
Those who follow me in other venues know my own process in this old world, and I can tell you that this can be both a precise art and a crime of passion; my tastiest recipes and most refined flavors came from the most basic places - the more you add to these ideas, the more opportunity for it all to go horribly wrong. 1/2 a pound too much honey, one too many cinnamon sticks, a must without diced grapes, or a bag of the maligned Mangrove Mead yeast, and the only thing to possibly save this honey wine is a cool, dry dungeon and TIME.
Viking Blod is everything I want out of a mead.
It is warm in color and palette, and you can taste the fine honey notes. They percolate at the beginning, middle, and end, and there is a subtle "wine" taste. That latter normally wouldn't be my jam, but everything else is so good that I don't care. In fact, after a glass or two, I don't care about much.
This stuff is strong. Clocking in at a whopping 19% (38 proof) per glass... This isn't your momma's wine. I appreciate a concentrated burst of efficiency. If I want a tasty buzz while I sip, and I don't want to down a bunch of hard stuff, I can trust that a full wine glass of this and I'll be set. Two in and I'm happily done; warm and tingly on the couch laughing at dumb anime and catching only snippets of Geralt's lines (god bless you, Henry Cavill). Replace your dessert with this and you'll be dandy.
If you're looking for this bottle of concentrated hopes and dreams, you can find it at more and more local wineries and liquor stores, and it ain't even that expensive!
...that's it. It's good. Good day.
The abbey is a gin and juice vehicle, and you'll encounter many variations throughout your life. Some splash in some sweet vermouth, others an ounce of citrus vodka, and still others a plethora of strange bitters. The additions are minute, though, so as never to detract from the original orange identity.
1.5 oz Gin (I recommend Tanqueray if you've got it lying around)
3/4 oz Orange Juice
1-2 dashes of Orange Bitters
+ Gin has always been a match for juice. Its citrus back-burn carries the sweet of the orange juice.
+ And just in case the orange juice hanging out in your fridge is the other side of decent, the bitters will breathe new life into the flavor palette.
This one's weird. Please continue.
2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Peppermint Schnapps
1/2 oz White Creme de Cacao
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 oz Club Soda
+ This is a strange soda.
+ Mint and chocolate always go well together...
+ ...but the Brandy is a curious goose.
+ Lemon and Sugar go well with soda, producing a nearly Sprite sensation.
+ Does it all work together? Uncertain. Carbonation can sometimes serve as a great equalizer in this instance.
+ The mini cocktail of Peppermint-Cacao-Lemon-Sugar is great in the soda, and might be fine on its own.
+ Brandy *might* pull you into a trans-dimensional wormhole. Mint brandy might ground you in reality better.
The Acapulco is definitively an island drink. Garnished with mint leaves and powered by rum, there's a sophistication to the addition of egg white, but no necessity. Considering the use of triple sec, this can be pretty low-brow if you feel like it.
1 3/4 oz Rum
1/4 oz Triple Sec
1 egg white
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 tsp. sugar
2-3 mint leaves
*Mix all but the mint leaves into a shaker, shake like hell, strain over ice in a glass. Stuff in the mint leaves after the fact, and sip on the beachside of Glaz Dukot, the perfect cocktail to view the End of the Age.
+ I have thoughts.
+ Egg White is mainly used to manifest froth in a drink, and though this works, I'm not sure I like it yet.
+ Triple Sec is fine, but I actually recommend Dry Curacao instead.
+ If you feel so inclined, swap out the sugar for a splash of Simple Syrup or Orgeat, and I think that will manifest something a little more special with the mint.
+ Lime works. Don't use Lemon - that would be bad. The Lime and sugar with the shake makes this *almost* a soda.
So as you take in the sights and sounds of a resurrected cthulhu kraken wreaking havoc across the ocean styx, I hope you can, at the very least, get a little turnt on the way to oblivion.
Drink up, me hearties.
Monster Of The Week: Pseudodragon
Went fought the drudgentree,
Found the sight bequeath to thee,
And discovered here, a chosen three,
Beneath the hallowed wood.
Curled in twain,
A thoughtful mane,
Sleeping, the book his thane,
I reached for the spine.
And there it was,
The subtle cost, very nearly a finger lost,
As the little drak nipped here and there,
Yipping as a small pup.
I rested my arm upon the book,
The drak curling into the nook,
Between the plates and mail,
I have inherited a new friend,
Do not fail.
-- Sir Horace Flagstone, of Leylocke
Not Your Average Dragon
Pseudodragons dwell in the quiet corners of the fantasy realm. Adventurers can stumble upon them in old libraries, nestled in the dark nooks behind dusty tomes. Others will happen upon them sleeping in the hollow woods of a dense forest, curled around their subtle hoard of acorns and berries.
With sharp teeth, shiny scales, and a vicious hooked stinger for a tail, these tiny dragons look almost menacing while asleep, but once those eyes open, they are immediately playful. If attacked, that stinger will be put to good use, rendering other beasts and aberrants catatonic for a few hours. Though sometimes mischievous, a pseudodragon is not a social creature; they tend to keep to themselves and whatever makeshift hoard they have been gathering. Magic users tend to seek pseudodragons as familiars, as their natural magical resistances and superior senses make them awesome companions. But a dragon is still a dragon, and these little guys are no exception. Mistreat or abuse your familiar, and they're out, severing whatever connection you thought you built. They will not tolerate ill treatment.
Though they cannot speak, pseudodragons understand both Common and Draconic, and may learn other languages as well. They communicate through limited telepathy, granting simple ideas like hunger, curiosity, or perhaps affection. They will also utilize common animal noises to indicate these simple responses; a purr for pleasure, a hiss for surprise or alarm, chirping to indicate desire, or a growl to communicate anger. These noises and its limited telepathic imagery akins them to many as fantasy cats - which is, if you think about it, a pretty accurate analog.
By The Numbers
Seems weird to analyze these little dudes and dudettes by their stats - they're quite killable by just about anyone.
Rocking a level 1 wizard's armor class and just as many hit points, they're not really meant for a frontline assault. They have the rare feature of Magic Resistance, though, so saving throws are in their favor, but with such a low hit point count, anything that deals half damage might still fell them (bummer); difficult to charm, though! Plus, their Sting attack can render an opponent poisoned if their Constitution is garbage. Nothing to sneeze about (no, seriously, don't sneeze, it'll kill them).
Out of combat, however, they're extremely useful. Their telepathy reaches up to 100 feet, so they're excellent scouts and their keen senses make them ideal familiars. Darkvision and blindsight don't hurt either.
As a legit Familiar, Pseudodragons can communicate their senses up to a mile away from their companion, and they can share that sweet sweet Magic Resistance while they're hanging out. The only downside to a Pseudodragon as a familiar is that if they can end that service whenever they like, and for whatever reason. Moral of the story: treat your Pseudodragon well, otherwise they might not have your back when you need it.
Pseudodragons In My Worlds
These little buddies are so intrinsically in tune with the magical world that I have taken the liberty to codify a few with magical persuasions of their own. Sure, you'll have the standard pseudodragon flapping around your nooks and crannies and old libraries, but if you dig deep enough and scour long enough, you'll undoubtedly run into one of these variants.
Illusory - Pseudodragons don't have a specific language, instead communicating telepathically simple ideas. Those that are steeped in illusion magic has found a way to interpret the innate basics of their school to help communicate better, manifesting in a sort of "thought bubble" above their heads communicating more intricate picturesque ideas. I just love the idea of a pseudodragon with an ellipsis over its head as it ponders, and then watching it blip back and forth between steak and its studies; the ultimate SQUIRREL moment. :)
Evocata - a little friend who spends a lot of time around battle mages and explosives can evolve into a combustion dragon. Highly emotional, passionate, and excitable, an Evocata will manifest its core magic in explosive bouts. Get too excited? Fireball. Or Fog Cloud. Or Plant Growth. Get too sad? Cast Darkness. Get protective of their master, their binky, or their new bestest friend that they've known for five minutes? Ray Of Frost. Or Finger Of Death. You know, TOTALLY NORMAL reactions.
The list continues, and I have a feeling the more I play with this concept, the more hilarious it will become. Does a Cleric use her Pseudodragon as her own personal lie detector because it's infused with Divination magic? Does a diplomat use his to win over a crowd because he steeps in Enchantment? The possibilities abound!
(and now my players know...good luck)
See you at the table.
This month we take a look at three shots I've drafted and adjusted several times over and are always hits at the table.
Burnt Honey (shot)
1/2 oz Wild Moon Birch Liqueur
1/2 oz Honey Liqueur
1/2 oz Jack Fire
+ Big hit of gentle cinnamon and honey.
+ Slight burn at the back.
+ Honey notes continue to punctuate the taste long after the burn fades.
1/2 oz Dr. McGillicuddy's Apple Pie liqueur
1/2 oz Wild Turkey American Honey
1/2 oz Ginger Ale
+ Bright and refreshing.
+ Apple Pie is often a win.
1/2 oz Johnnie Walker - Song Of Fire Scotch Whiskey
1/2 oz Raspberry Liqueur
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
+ Song of Fire is a bit more burnt than other scotches.
+ Raspberry smoothes this out, though.
+ ...and then the Lemon is straight up a slap in the face...like a Bane on your senses.
+ Luckily...the lemon is over quickly.
So get your dice out and prepare for an onslaught.
Moonriver #51 - Longknife
Let's get right into it. Three recipes discovered from the archives, plus my take on it. Use these simple recipes to warm your soul and keep the liquor cabinet well stocked.
Jack Knife (shot)
3/4 oz Jack Daniel's Whiskey
3/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
+ Easy match.
+ Warm, creamy, slight burn. Good stuff.
Warm Woolly Sheep (shooter)
1.5 oz Scotch Whiskey
1.5 oz Drambuie
Fill the glass with warm milk (approx. 2-3 oz)
+ A throwback to english teas and many a nightcap, the warm milk elevates the dram well.
+ Scotch and Dram always go well together.
Scottish Jersey (drink)
1.5 oz Dewer's Scotch Whiskey
Pour into some fresh hot chocolate
+ Not like it's hard to make hot chocolate boozy. This is good. That is all.
Den Original - The Longknife (shot+)
My take on the Jack Knife doesn't add much, but what it adds makes it something just for me.
1/2 oz Jack Honey
1/2 oz Bailey's
1/2 oz Wild Turkey American Honey liqueur
1/4 oz Drambuie
+ I like my whiskey with honey, so the double tap of Jack and Wild mixes well.
+ Bailey's is always a win.
+ The Drambuie just smoothes it all out.
Shoot well. Never straight.
I've been running campaigns long enough that I've stacked up NPCs like Pokemon cards, ready to unleash them onto unsuspecting players. Sometimes they work wonders, other times they suck wind through a straw. Let's take a look at a few and see what I could have done better.
Jedrek Remo - Blackweave Monk
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, amateur bartender, and aspiring fiction author.
1st Saturday: Etsy updates*
2nd Saturday: Monster
3rd Saturday: Worldbuilding
4th Saturday: REST DAY