Friday, September 23, 2016

The Top Ten Cocktails in the World.

Mai Tai, Sky, Hawaii, Tropical, Blue  I am not much a drinker.  If I drink anything its like 1 or 2 teaspoons of rum in a large glass of coke or maybe bit of Bailey's Irish Creme in my hot cocoa.  I prefer to use alcohol to add a touch flavor.

Since I live in a dry village, I know folks who hit the bar on their way out here to have their last drink for several months and then hit it on the way in to quench their thirst.  I don't usually go to events that serve real cocktails so I wondered which ones are the most popular.

1.  The Apple Martini or Appletini which is a mix of vodka and apple schnapps, finished with a bit of lemon juice and a slice of apple.

2.  The Long Island Iced Tea, a drink made of rum, vodka, tequila, gin, and triple sec, frequently finished with lemon and coke. Although the name implies it, the drink has absolutely no tea in it.  Rumor has it, this drink was created in 1920 in Long Island, TN but the modern one came out as winner of a contest in Long Island, NY.

3.  The Californication which is the Californian take on the Long Island Iced Tea.  This one is a mix of rum, vodka, tequila, and gin finished off with orange liqueur and orange juice.  It is finished off with a twist of orange rind or a slice of orange.

4. Pina Colada is a mix of rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk. This mix provides a very nice tropical feel.  It originated in Puerto Rico and is considered its national drink. It is so popular, there is even a day to celebrate the Pina Colada.  It is said to have been created by a bartender at the Hilton Beachcomber Hotel back in 1952.

5. The  Margarita is considered the most popular cocktail in the United States. It is composed of tequila, triple sec and lime juice. Its been around since the 1930's or 40's and is reputed to have come from Baja region of Mexico.

6.  The Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil.  Due to the recent Olympics, the world has been introduced to this particular drink.  It is made of cachaca or white rum, brown sugar, and lime juice.  This drink originated back in 1918 as a remedy for the Spanish Flu.

7.  A Mint Julip, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.  I'm sure everyone is aware of this because I remember seeing something about it on a  M.A.S.H. episode celebrating the Kentucky Derby.  The drink is made of Bourbon, water, and sugar. There is evidence this particular drink has been around for a while but in the past its used gin, brandy, or whiskey being the main ingredient.  Bourbon has been the main ingredient since 1938 when Churchill Downs promoted it.  Currently over 120,000 drinks are made and consumed over a 2 day period.

8. The Mai Tai is a drink made of light and dark rum, orange curacao, orgeat syrup, and lime juice.  It evokes images of Polynesia.    It was extremely popular in the 1950's and 60's and even appeared in the movie "Blue Hawaii".  The story goes that it was created back in Oakland, California by the owner of a Trader Vics.  Its said the owner made it for some friends visiting from Tahiti in 1944.  Supposedly one of them exclaimed that's good in Tahitian and that became the name of the drink.

9. Mojito is a minty drink made of white rum, mint, sugar, lime juice, and soda.  To make the best Mojito it is recommended one crush the mint leaves rather than cut or tear them.  There is a story this evolved from a drink back in the 1500's that Francis Drakes men drank to ward off scurvy.  They got the drink from the natives.  Ernest Hemingway loved the drink.

10. At the top of the list is the Cosmopolitan, a refined drink that evokes images of James Bond's world.  It is composed of vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, and triple sec.  No one is sure of its origins but females prefer the drink's sophisticated taste.

Out of the list, I've only ever had a Mai Tai and that was on the plane when I flew to Hawaii.  I just realized that even my parents are not cocktail drinkers.  I have had the Disney nonalcoholic version of the mint julep but its more like tea with mint and sugar.  Have a nice day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Top 10 Most Expensive Cars

Pickup Truck, Car Assessment, I Sell Car  I don't know about you but I cringed the last time I had to buy a new car.  Technically, I ended up purchasing a heavy duty long bed pickup truck and I bought it used.  It was a new model only owned by the previous owner about 4 months but still it was a whopping $35K.

Just after I bought it and took it to fill up with diesel, I discovered it was a guy magnet.  They'd walk over and ask all sorts of technical questions and I gave them my helpless look because honestly, I needed the truck's pulling capability and it did the job  I don't know all the technical details because it holds no interest for me.

Since I cringed paying $35K, I wondered what some of the most expensive cars are. We've all heard about Lamborghini's and other exotic models but are there some we've never heard of?  Ohhh there are and the prices for them make me pass out.  The cost of many of those cars will buy you a custom build car in the most expensive part of the city.

1.  The Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita starts us off at a whopping $4.8 million.  You are reading that correctly.  Aside from the fact it is a sleek, low to the grown vehicle, it is encrusted in diamonds.  It is not regular faceted diamonds but the Swedish manufacturer created a finish where they coat carbon fibers with a diamond dust impregnated resin.  Wow,  diamonds on a car and its even street legal!

2.  The Lamborghini Veneno or Poison comes in at $4.5 million.  This extremely fast, sleek almost race car looking vehicle was built to celebrate the car maker's 50th anniversary.  It can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds.

3. The Lykan Hypersport is only $3.4 million. If you've ever seen Furious 7 where a car crashed through several skyscrapers in Dubai, you've seen this car.  Its design include jewel encrusted head lights, scissor doors and other elements that make it look like something from a futuristic movie.

4. Another $3.4 million car is the Limited Edition Bugatti Veyron.  In addition to being one of the most expensive cars in the world, it is also one of the fastest, capable of getting up to 254 mph.  Its low slung carbon fiber body makes it look as if it hugs the ground as it speeds across the landscape.

5.  The Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio comes in at $3 million with its open close to the ground appearance.  What makes it so expensive is that there were only 6 ever made so it is highly coveted.  This is not one you can just go out and purchase, you have to be approved by the automaker or you can't buy it.

6. The  Pagani Huayra, named after the Incan God of Winds, goes for a measly $2.6 million. This one is quite light as just over 2500 pounds with lots of power but only 20 were made.

7.  The Ferrari F60 American was built to celebrate Ferrari's 60 years in the North American market.  Only 10 of these were built but they have a patriotic spirit decked out in a stars and stripes color theme all for $2.5 million.

8.  There is the Bugatti Chiron for $2.5 million with the ability to go from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds.  It's low to the ground aerodynamically slick look makes you want to watch it race. 

9. The Koenigsegg One:1 for $2 million looks as if it stepped from a redone Back To The Future.  It has a 1 kg to horsepower ratio which means it can go around 273 mph.  Its F-1 honeycomb core, carbon fiber manifold and ventilated ceramic brakes can produce a swift ride.

10.  At the bottom of the list is the Koenigsegg Regera for a paltry $2 million.  This vehicle is powered by both a twin turbo engine and a battery pack which causes it to go from 0 to 186 mph in just over 10 seconds.

Talk about luxury!  You'd have to have lots of money available to afford any of these vehicles.  They are cool to look at but I'd hate to see the actual cost of insurance on them.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Language of Flowers

Rose, Flower, Blossom, Bloom, Flowers Did you ever see the movie Kate and Leopold?  In it Leopold leaps forward into this century and while here, gives advice about which flowers to give because flowers convey meaning.

Have you ever wondered what each flower says to you as you gaze into its beauty.  In the past, a bouquet conveyed meaning but today, most people give flowers because they are pretty except for those dead flowers which convey the message of "I hate you!"

To start with floriography is the technical term for communicating using flowers.  Although this has existed through history, it became particularly popular in the 19th century to send coded messages without having to express certain feelings out loud.  There were plenty of books which could help the sender determine the right flowers for the right situation.

These small bouquets or nosegays also known as tussie-mussies were often carried or worn.  At one point, even the popular women's magazines of the time printed articles on this topic.

Examples of floral messages include:
Red rose for love.

Astor for patience.

Honeysuckle for devotion or sweetness.

Red Poppy meant imaginations, eternal sleep, and pleasure.

Yellow Primrose conveyed youth and young love.

Daffodils stood for unrequited love and chivalry.

Violets referred to modesty and faithfulness.

Apple blossoms meant good fortune, the promise of better things to come.

Daisies conveyed innocence, purity, or farwell.

Roses in general referred to love but the color determined the depth of the love.

Crocuses meant cheerfulness and the gladness of youth.

White lilies convey chastity and virtue.

Some of the meanings have remained the same but others have changed over time.  Next time you send a bouquet or you are giving flowers in general, remember you are sending a message.  I hope you enjoyed this.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The 10 Most Expensive Pearls in The World.

Pearl, Moss, Treasure, Art  I don't know about you but my grandmother had a special set of pearls she wore for special occasions.  According to her, pearls finished the outfit and you were ready for anything. 

I have a pair of pearl earrings but I do not wear them very often.  I might have a pearl necklace but I moved so much in my early years that they could be in a box somewhere.  I don't think I've ever fully unpacked.  That is on my to list when I retire.

Pearls are actually formed inside both freshwater and saltwater oysters.  The pearl starts out as a foreign body that settled in between the mantle and the shell and irritated the mantle.  The oyster coats the irritation with nacre, the same material as used to make its shell.   Although white pearls are quite popular, pearls also come in several colors including  pink, green, blue, grey and black.

Black pearls are only found in the South Pacific.  Black pearls are often referred to as the Queen of Gems and have been in use as far back as the 5th century.  Due to being so rare, they were only used by royalty and the extremely rich and powerful.

There is a story that Cleopatra bet Mark Anthony she could host the most expensive dinner in history.  She set the table with bare plates and served wine.  In her wine, she took a pearl earring and dissolved it in her wine, then drank it.  She won the bet and it is thought the pearl she used would be worth 9 million dollars in today's society.

Now for the 10 most expensive pearls in the world.

1.  A Pierre Cartier pearl necklace sold for 1 million dollars back in the early 20th century when pearls sold for as much as famous paintings.  The two strand necklace consisted of 128 pearls total, 55 in the upper strand and 73 in the lower strand.

2. A three strand necklace of natural pearls with 180 pearls varying in size from 4.95 to 11.05 mm sold at auction for $1.4 million. 

3. A five strand necklace also of natural peals sold at Christie's in 2012 for $1.7 million. The 347 pearls range in size from 4.35 to 11.35 mm and is finished with a gold and black silk cord to tie rather than a diamond clasp.

4. The Cowdray pearls sold for $3.3 million when auctioned off in 2002.  This single strand necklace is comprised of 38 natural grey pearls varying in size from 6.8 to 11.4mm. 

5. The Pearl of Lao Tzu also known as the Pearl of Allah, valued at 3.5 million for this single pearl.  It was discovered in the waters off of the Philippines back in the 1930's.  It measures 24 cm across and 9.45 cm long and weighs 14 pounds.  Although it is not particularly attractive, it is still considered quite valuable.

6. A double strand pearl necklace composed of 120 pearls ranging in size from 6.5 to 12.25 mm and varies in color from white to a beautiful cream was last sold for $3.7 million in 2012.  The pearl's rosy and green overtones in addition to the diamond clasp are what makes it so valuable.

7. The Big Pink Pearl is a natural Abalone pearl in a beautiful iridescent pink.  The 470 carat pearl was discovered in 1990 by a diver and he still owns it.  It is valued at S4.7 million currently.

8. The Baroda Pearl necklace is worth a cool $7.1 million.  The two strand necklace is composed of 68 pearls selected from the original seven strand owned by the Maharajas of India.  The 68 perfectly matched pearls range in size from 10 to 16 mm with a diamond encrusted clasp finishing off its perfection.

9. La Peregrina Pearl which was once owned by Philip II of Spain.  The pearl is the centerpiece of the necklace worth $11.7 million.  The pearl itself is perfectly pear shaped and bright white color makes it more valuable.  The rest of the necklace is made of a floral pattern of pearls with a ruby in the center of each repeat.  Richard Burton purchased it in 1969 for $37,000 for his wife but it sold for $11.7 million in 2011.

10. The Beauty of The Ocean pearl worth $139 million.  It weighs 6 tons and is 5 feet tall but it is a man made pearl.  It is made out of fluorite that was ground into the pearl shape over a 3 year period.  It is said to glow in the dark and came from Mongolia.

I'm not sure why the last one made the list other than its shape and uniqueness.  Some of these are quite impressive.  Enjoy reading.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Four Types of Caviar.

Caviar, Red Caviar, Black Caviar, Food  Caviar is such an exotic dish, showing up at those dinners at rich people's houses in the movies.  Something that has a reputation for being available to the richest people on earth.

So what is caviar?  It is processed salted roe also known as fish eggs.  Although many types of roe are classified as caviar, true caviar comes from sturgeon and might be either Baluga, Osetera, or Sevruga. 

Unfortunately, sturgeon is on the endangered list but the largest remaining sturgeon deposit is found in the Caspian Sea where its fished by both Russia and Iran.  The Caspian Sea produces 85% of the worlds wild caviar.  Caviar from any other source must be labeled with the type of fish its from such as Salmon Caviar.

Caviar is rated according to its size, color, and method of processing.  The rating system used for its color is either 000 for light, 00 for medium, and 0 for dark.  The very light or golden caviar is labeled Imperial or Royal because it was originally only served to royalty. The most expensive caviar is based on the fact that it is rare.

Caviar may undergo one of four processes.
1. Malossol is lightly salted and preferred by connoisseurs due to having no more than 5% salt content.  Most modern caviar has only 3.5% and this type is described as high quality.

2. Salted Caviar is also known as semi-preserved because it can contain up to 8% salt.  Although the increased salt content extends the shelf life, it can compromise the taste of the caviar.

3. Pressed Caviar is made from too soft or damaged, broken or over ripe eggs.  It is highly salted and pressed so it resembles jam.  At one point it was the primary method for preserving caviar and had a very concentrated flavor.  It is popular among those who like a strong flavor.

4. Pasteurized Caviar  is made from fresh caviar that has been heat treated and vacuum packed in glass jars.  Both the quality and flavor may be effected.

Back to the three types of sturgeon who provide the world with caviar.  The second rarest is the Baluga sturgeon but is much more common than the extremely rare Sterlet.  Less than 100 Baluga sturgeon are captured each year.  Its roe is large, ranging in color from pale grey to black, with a nice buttery flavor.

Next is Osetra Caviar consisting of medium sized eggs ranging in color from dark brown to light grey to a golden brown and has a nutty, slightly fruity flavor.

Last is Sevruga Caviar is the smallest of these three varieties, ranging in color from black to light grey and is more available than the other two while being the least expensive.  Many people prefer the saltier, richer, buttery flavor over the other two.

Fun ending fact.  At one time, America produced over 90 percent of the world's caviar. At one point, it was so plentiful that it was served in saloons and eaten as if it were peanuts.  Imagine going from something that is so common to something with a reputation for being only for royalty.  Have a good day.