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Game of Thrones Cocktails

If you’ve been following my Twitter over the past few Sundays, you might have noticed I post a Game of Thrones themed cocktail. Some are better than others, and some I put more effort into (the Blood on the Snow is basically a G&T – I was on beach vacation for that one).

Some people said they’d be interested in seeing a list with recipes. So here you go: my Game of Thrones cocktails.

Mother Of Dragons

  • 2oz Del Vida mezcal
  • 4oz blood orange soda
  • Juice from half a lime

Serve in a Tom Collins glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

White Walker

  • 2oz gin (New Amsterdam or similar)
  • 0.75oz lemon juice
  • 0.75oz Cointreau
  • Dash of blue curaçao

Shake over ice and serve up.

Dothraki Blood

  • 2oz Bulleit bourbon
  • 0.75oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
  • 0.5oz Cynar
  • Two dashes of blood orange bitters

Stir with ice and serve up. Garnish with an orange peel.

Blood on the Snow

  • 2oz St Augustine gin
  • 2oz tonic
  • Splash of lime

Serve in an Old Fashioned glass over ice. Garnish with two drops of Peychaud’s bitters.

Lord of Light

  • 1.5oz Del Vida mezcal
  • 1.5oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
  • 1oz Averna amaro
  • Two dashes of Reagan’s bitters.

Stir over ice and serve in an Old Fashioned glass over a big cube. Garnish with a burnt orange peel.

The Waif

  • 2oz resposado tequila
  • 0.75oz elderflower liqueur
  • 0.5oz lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  • Dash of grapefruit juice

Dry shake the lemon, grapefruit, egg white, and elderflower. Add the tequila and shake over ice. Serve up with a dash of grapefruit bitters on the foam.

The Battle of the Bastards

  • 0.75oz Diplomatico rum
  • 0.75oz Mt Gay rum
  • 1.5oz dry vermouth
  • 0.5oz Cointreau
  • Dash of Angostoura bitters

Stir over ice, and serve over a large cube. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Japan Trip: Tourists in Tokyo (Part 2)

After our day of exploring by ourselves, Mike and Melissa showed up to help us navigate all the cool things to do. It’s incredibly useful visiting with people who’ve been to Japan a lot – explaining all the customs and phrases, knowing which areas to go to, and so on.

The first thing we did was go to Disney, but I’m going to put all the Disney stuff in one post. But later that evening, we went to what became Hampton and my favourite chain of izakaya: Torikizoku. They’re dotted around Tokyo and you can easily spot their distinctive yellow-and-red seal script logo. The best thing about them? All menu items are 280¥ (~$2.60). Even drinks! It’s nice knowing you can eat your fill of delicious yakitori for under $20. That was a great thing about Japan – you can get really good food for really cheap.

A selection of our food at Torikizoku

We then went wandering through Shibuya, and Hampton stumbled upon this guy selling street oysters.

Street oysters were really tasty

Hampton loves oysters, so we had to stop. I’m usually extremely cautious of street meat, and street seafood is even sketchier, but this guy had a crowd of people eating his oysters – so we had one. It was good and we didn’t die of food poisoning, so that’s a win.

Next we went to a place where you ordered on a tablet:

Minimal human interaction = win

It was awesome except for the dangerously drunk group behind us. I was very worried someone was going to fall into me, but they didn’t.

Then we spent the rest of the night playing games in an arcade. These arcades are everywhere and usually involve a mix of computer games and UFO catchers.

The drumming game was the best game

Mike looks pretty suspicious

The next day Mike and Melissa had booked us all a sushi lunch in Ginza. (PS: if you have an AmEx card, you should definitely use their concierge to book restaurants.)

The place was called Sushi Iwa, and was down a side alley. It was across the street from where it was supposed to be, due to some renovation work.

Inside, there were six (!) seats at a bar. There were four of us, and for the first hour of the meal it was just us in the restaurant.

Corner of the sushi bar

The chef was lovely – he prepped all the food right there in front of us.

The chef!
Place setting

We opted for the longer menu, which came to about $80 per person. The chef would get out the fish at appropriate times to ensure it was at the correct temperature when we ate it. He’d call for a top-up of rice when necessary.

Cutting the fish

It was amazing to watch him work. Once he’d made the sushi, he’d reach over and place it on our plates. Then, we ate each piece with our hands. And the final products… wow. They were absolutely incredible.

Seriously, can you believe the colour on that tuna?

The chef would name each fish in English (but also had a handy book to point at things that we weren’t familiar with). It was (naturally) the best sushi I’ve ever had. I won’t bore you with all the pictures I took of each piece.

Sadly, the meal had to come to an end. We decided to take the train to Harajuku/Meiji Shrine.

Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the old Emperor, so it’s super-popular and important. It’s beautiful inside and we saw a shinto wedding one time we were there.

The front of Meiji Shrine
You can write hopes/wishes on these cards

We popped into Yoyogi Park, which wasn’t as easy to get to as you might imagine from Meiji Shrine. They’re right next to each other geographically, but there’s no connecting gates.

We did see some ume blossoms (although they’re inferior to sakura, OBVIOUSLY).

Ume blossoms bloom early, apparently

Then we wandered down the main street of Harajuku, Takeshita street. It was a Sunday afternoon and it was a beautiful day out, so of course it was packed.


After that exhausting day of shopping, we went to a seafood izakaya place called 魚真 乃木坂店. It was over near Roppongi, which is a sketchy/clubby area we were told to avoid. But this place was great, and we ate lots of uni and other delicious things. And drank lots of nama biiru (draft beer).

I learnt how to order beer and I stuck with it
Piles of uni and tuna

To round the night off, we went to McDonalds for something I’d been excited about trying for a while: McChoco Potato.

McChoco Potato, y u so good?

It’s basically McDonalds fries with milk and white chocolate sauce on them. They were so good and my stomach is rumbling right now with the thought of them.

Next up: we take the shinkansen to Osaka!

Japan Trip: Tourists in Tokyo (Part 1)

We landed late on a Thursday, and managed to catch the Keisei Skyliner to our first hotel. We were staying in Akihabara, the electronics district. It was overwhelming when we first arrived.

Nighttime in Akihabara

I had an idea of what Tokyo would be like, and this was it turned up to 11. Neon signs were attached to every building. Video screens were selling you products or pop bands. People were shouting on the street for you to come into their bar/arcade/store. It was a sensory overload&emdash;not helped by just having taken a 10 hour flight on which I didn’t sleep. We went to bed pretty soon after arriving.

The next day, we headed over to Tsukiji fish market. It’s a slightly cliché first-day-in-Tokyo thing to do, but it’s apparently being moved to somewhere else in the Autumn, so we wanted to do it at least once. It’s a labyrinth of small restaurants, fishmongers, and other shops selling knives/chopsticks/etc.

In the narrow streets of Tsukiji

But the best part is the cheap, amazing fresh sushi you get find in the area. We picked a place at random, opting for a sushi bar that looked reasonably packed but without too much of a wait.

Sushi bar!

I’m not going to try to describe the ensuing bounty. The fish was cold and tender, the rice warm and sticky. It was probably the best sushi I’d ever had (until a couple of days later, but that’s for a different post).

Freshest fish I’ll eat, probably

Just looking at this makes me want to eat it again. The best piece was the fatty tuna, on the top-left of the board. Delicious.

After the market, we headed over to Ueno Park, an urban park with a number of shrines and museums. Unfortunately, the National Museum of Western Art was closed, so we ended up going to the Tokyo National Museum instead.

Hanging out with the TNM mascots

It provided a nice overview, for ignorant people such as myself, to the broad history of Tokyo (and, to some extent, Japan). There was also a special exhibition on&emdash;some of the Terracotta Army were on display. So we spent a little more and got entrance to that, too.

Some (fake) terracotta warriors… we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the real ones

They were fairly impressive, I suppose, but the exhibition was in its last few days so it was packed. You could barely move in there. But I guess I can check it off the bucket list?

Anyway, we went back to the hotel to relax before heading out for dinner. This was our first major meal in Tokyo, and introduced us to one of the jarring ways to deal with such density of people. In most cities I’ve been to, restaurants (and bars) have a street-level entrance. Not here. Restaurants are found on seemingly any floor of a building. In this case, we went for yakiniku on the fourth floor of a building. (So, I should note, it’s important to figure out what floor a restaurant is on when you look up an address.)

Yakiniku is basically grilled stuff. And we grilled a whole bunch-o-meat on our very own grill.

Tasty meat, pre-grilling

Weird cultural thing I didn’t know before going to Japan: smoking indoors is pretty much A-OK, even in restaurants. It was odd being in a kinda-fancy restaurant and having the table next to us start blowing smoke in our direction. Boo.

Afterwards, we went “next door” (read: across the floor) to a British-style pub. It’s part of a chain called the HUB. It was pretty fun, but it was odd because inside was smoking only… so we sat outside, right near the elevator. Odd times.

Chilling in a building’s elevator lobby

The next day, Mike and Melissa arrived! But more about that in my next post.

Japan Trip: Singapore Airlines SQ11 in Business Class

Our first trip of 2016, and it’s a big one: we’re heading to Japan for two weeks.

Japan has been top of my destinations list for a while. As Melissa and Mike booked a trip to Osaka, we decided to join in on their fun. The itinerary is roughly as follows: 4 days in Tokyo, 4 days in Osaka, 1 day in Kyoto, then back to Tokyo for 5 days.

But let’s start with the most interesting part: our flights there! We decided to book with [Singapore Airlines]–the LAX-NRT flight was on an A380 (yay) and we’ve heard they’re pretty nice. Plus, they have recently introduced Premium Economy… making the 11-hour flight just a little more palatable.

Anyway, the day before we got a phone call saying that there was no Premium Economy on the plane we were going to take. Uh-oh. The person said it would be fine, just ask at the check-in desk when we arrive.

Only problem is: we were flying with Virgin America from SFO to get to LAX. With a tight layover, were we going to have time to visit the Singapore Airlines check-in desk? When we arrived at SFO, the Virgin America crew couldn’t even give us the boarding pass for our second leg. That made us even more nervous. But we weren’t showing it.

Boarding our SFO flight (plus the amazing new control tower in the background)
Virgin America SFO-LAX

We landed in L.A. and rushed to the International Terminal (which was thankfully just next to the terminal we landed at). We went to the check-in desk and…

SQ11 Boarding Pass

We were upgraded to Business Class! Holy moly! I never thought I’d fly Singapore Airlines Business Class, but there you go. Plus it was upstairs on the A380!

Before we got on the plane, we hung out in the Star Alliance Lounge, which was pretty nice. The best bit (aside from the free drinks) was the build-your-own-noodle-bowl bar.

Star Alliance Lounge at LAX
Build-your-own noodle bowl!
Nomnom, noodles

Oh yeah, and this is when I started my drinking. It’s vacation time!

Cheeky mimosa before the flight

They also had some really nice dessert “shooters,” which unfortunately couldn’t fit a spoon into them. So I ate them with a knife instead. Keeping it classy, as always.

Passion fruit and s’mores dessert shooters

Over the intercom, they announced that our flight was boarding. Time to go! Going up an escalator to get to the entry was awesome. I love the A380 so much.

Up an escalator to the upper deck of the A380

The seats you get in Business Class are amazing. They’re (faux?) leather, and you get some comfy pillows too. The craziest thing was how wide they were. I think you could fit two Michaels in one of these seats.

My seat
Seriously, the seat was so wide

Also, Business Class was really empty. No one was in the seats behind us or diagonal to us. Which came in handy when my table was broken and I had to switch seats.

So many empty rows behind me!
My new seat (only used for eating)

The seat had a number of cool features. There was a little pop-down table for drinks, and a mirror. There were power sockets for regular plugs and USB! Plus a neat little compartment for putting my phone in. We got some slippers and some noise-cancelling headphones (which were actually pretty good).

Range of plug sockets
Tiny pocket for holding my charging phone
Mirror and drink holder
Noise-cancelling headphones (you can see there’s a neat hook to hang them on, too)

Now onto the food. Singapore Airlines has a thing called “Book the Cook.” Basically, it’s like pre-ordering the meal you want before you get on your flight. You can choose some really delicious-sounding stuff! The menu we got when we sat down also offered hanakoireki, which was like a bento-box thing. Hampton went for the hanakoireki, and I got the chef’s meal. It was all superb.

My table layout before the meal
Starter: some kind of salmon and crab mayo thing
Main: sukiyaki!
Dessert: chocolate ice-cream
Finally, a cheese course– you gotta have a cheese course

They also had a pretty decent cocktail list. I got a Singapore Sling (duh), which was really rather good.

Oh, and one more thing: the bathroom was full of useful items. Razors, toothbrush/toothpaste, mouthwash… handy for a 10 hour flight.

So many toiletries!
Plus razors, toothbrushes, combs…

After eating, the lovely staff of Singapore Airlines made my seat into a lie-flat bed. It was actually pretty comfortable.

My sky-bed

As we were waking up, we had our “dinner”. (A weird thing about long flights: the names of the meals you’re served rarely correspond to when you get them.) Yay, more yummy food!

Starter: beef carpaccio with pickles
Main: some dim sum, including lo mai gai, har gow, and shaomai (the lo mai gai, wrapped in a lotus leaf, was amazing)
Dessert: green tea cake

And then, despite my yearning for a longer flight with this amazing service and food, we landed at Narita.

2015 in Review

This year has felt busy, but I’m not sure how/why. It’s felt like my wheels have been spinning a little. I’ve been too busy to come up with a lot of items for this list – but what exactly have I been busy doing?


  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  3. Inside Out

Honorable mentions for It Follows and Whiplash, which I only saw this year.

TV Episodes

  1. Mother’s Mercy (Game of Thrones, S5 E10)
  2. Loplop (Fargo, S2 E8)
  3. Episode 6 (The Jinx, S1 E6)


This year, I haven’t read nearly as much as I should have. I think maybe a handful of books have been completed on my Kindle. I’m not even sure I could do a best of. Maybe I should set myself a challenge for 2016?


  1. Flesh Without Blood – Grimes
  2. Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
  3. The Party Line – Belle & Sebastian


  1. Seeing parents for Christmas
  2. Getting to know the Third Rail bartenders
  3. No-holds-barred Walt Disney World trip
  4. MaxFunCon

The Savoy Cocktail Book

It was my birthday a couple of days ago, and I got a copy of The Savoy Cocktail Book. It’s been in publication since 1930, with over 700 recipes inside.

To be honest, a lot of the recipes are very similar. Most are based on whiskey, rum, or dry gin. Then, you add varying amounts of sweet and dry vermouths (called Italian and French vermouths, respectively) – plus dashes of bitters or other liqueurs.

The presentation is top-notch, though, with gorgeous art deco illustrations every few pages. Check out the page where the Savoy Cocktail is presented.

R.A.C. Special Cocktail

You’ll notice the page doesn’t quite go to the edge. The edition I got is a scanned version of the original, and it looks a little… unprofessional. Our local bar has a much nicer copy, with feathered edges.

I decided to start a journey of sorts, inspired by a game Jeff, the owner of Third Rail, plays with other bartenders. The game is as follows: you flip to any page in the book, put your finger on a cocktail, and then make something drinkable from it.

It’s a tricky challenge if only because the recipes tend to be geared towards old liquors, which were less drinkable than they are now. For example, the gimlet recipe in the book states it should be ½ lime juice and ½ gin, which would be too citrus-forward even for me.

The other challenge for me is that some of the recipes have rather niche ingredients (Swedish punsch, anyone?) that I don’t have. Although I suppose that’s part of the fun – figuring out what you can replace certain ingredients with and still maintain the desired flavour.

My first cocktail ended up being the R.A.C. Special Cocktail. Their recipe: ½ dry gin, ¼ sweet vermouth, ¼ dry vermouth, and two dashes of orange bitters. Shake well, serve , and garnish with an orange peel. Here’s the outcome.

R.A.C. Special Cocktail

I lowered the vermouth slightly, to 1/8 of each. I think that makes a nicer cocktail. It tasted pretty much how you would expect – kind of a mix between a martini and a martinez/manhattan type thing. Certainly not that adventurous for a first cocktail, but pretty good nonetheless.

I’m sure I’ll be using some of these recipes for inspiration for WHAM drinks, too. Cheers!

Drinking at the Disneyland Resort

We were in the mountains above Los Angeles for MaxFunCon, a neat comedy/podcasting conference at which we had a lot of fun. Since we were in L.A., why not head to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, too?

It’s Disneyland’s 60th anniversary, so there’s a lot of cool stuff going on. In particular, the fireworks at Disneyland are spectacular. If you can make it before the celebrations are over, it’s well worth it. Make sure to get a prime spot on Main Street and you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, the rides and all that are fun, but a more pressing question is: are those of us who like cocktails doomed to saccharine cruise-ship drinks while at the parks?

We set off to find out.

The first point: of the two parks in the Disneyland Resort, Disneyland is completely dry (well, apart from Club 33). The only park you’ll find a drink in is Disney California Adventure.

That’s where we started our investigatory stroll. Our first stop was the Alfresco Tasting Terrace. We’d been there on a previous trip, but since then they had stopped serving cocktails. There’s only wine and beer now.

Alfresco Tasting Terrace

They have wine flights, which are pretty fun. And all the wineries seem to have some connection to Disney – some ex-executive started a winery, and now you can drink it here.

It’s also a pretty good spot to grab a glass of wine to go. This is especially handy before the World of Color show. Seen below is us with our to-go cups of wine.

Booze you can take with you = the best

Our next stop was more fruitful: the Carthay Circle lounge. It gets busy after around 5pm, and the lounge is first-come-first-served, so make sure you get a seat. The drinks were good, and decently priced ($10-12 each). Because of the Disneyland 60th anniversary, they’re putting diamond-shaped cubes in every drink (including Martinis and Manhattans), so if you want your drink unsullied, make sure to mention it.

Carthay Circle Lounge

They didn’t just have standard cocktails, either. They had some crème de violette/tequila thing that came with a candied flower on it. It tasted great!

Violet cocktail from Carthay Circle

We headed over to The Cove, which is by the Paradise Pier area of the park. Like the Carthay Circle lounge, this place gets really busy, so come early. It’s a lot of fun people-watching and sitting outside (if you can take a little sun). I was pleasantly surprised that the discontinued cocktail menu from the Alfresco Terrace was now over here! So I had my favourite drink from that – the Smoked Turkey.

The Cove bar – Smoked Turkey and a Manhattan

(Oh, you should also get the lobster nachos while you’re there. Deeeelicious.)

After we’d exhausted Disney California Adventure, we went to our favourite bar at the resort – Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. It’s located by the pool at the Disneyland Hotel. It’s a bit of a trek from the parks (about 10-15mins walk through Downtown Disney), but we enjoy it. Here’s the entrance:

Entrance to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

There’s a doorman – like every other bar, this one gets really busy. The doorman had implemented a one-in-one-out policy.

Inside, it’s filled with trinkets and tchotchkes over the walls. Every surface is covered in this stuff, and it’s really interesting to read/look at. Like everything at Disney theme parks, there’s a back-story to every item. Nothing is just put up without thorough thought. There are letters from people Trader Sam has met on adventures. There’s things people have mailed. It’s quite incredible.

Inside Trader Sam’s

The drink menu has a standard tiki-theme – mostly rums and fruit juices. Most of the drinks have ridiculous names (“Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum,” for example).

HippopotoMai-Tai and a Lost Safari

The Mai Tai was fine, but nothing special. The Lost Safari was really good, though.

For our next round, I ordered the Krakatoa Punch. It came with a glowing “ice-cube” in it. When I ordered it, the bar lights went low. Through one of the trompe l’oiel “windows”, a volcano erupted in a neat little display.

Krakatoa Punch

In fact, these things happen for a number of drinks. Every 15 minutes or so, you’ll be interrupted. The Shipwrek on the Rocks causes a ship in a painting behind the bar to sink. Plus the bartender sprays you with water.

Our final drink was the Uh Oa. It’s a sharing drink, and arrives with a flaming sugar cube. You throw cinnamon and nutmeg onto the flames, creating sparks, while the whole bar erupts in chants of “Uh oa! Uh oa!”

Uh Oa!

Trader Sam’s is entertaining. It’s exactly how you’d imagine Disney would want a bar to be – adults can get the sense of fun and magic that is often left only to kids.

That was our drinking experience at Disneyland Resort. When we’re next down at Walt Disney World, I’ll try to do a similar thing for those parks, too.

Tony Awards 2015

I had a lot of fun doing the pool for the Oscars in February. I’ve done a little bit more development on it to make it work for multiple awards shows.

If you go to you can now submit a ballot for the 2015 Tony Awards. This time, it’s free! So although that means you won’t win money, you could still win the pride of being an accurate predictor of this year’s Tonys.

Oscar Pool 2015

The last couple of years, I’ve participated in pools for the Academy Awards. I like the Oscars anyway, but competing against other people to see who can guess the most winners adds an extra level of excitement.

In preparation for this year, and to learn a bit of Rails, I decided to make my own pool site. It’s found at

It costs $15 to enter and there’s some more rules on the site. I’d love for you to sign up, submit a ballot, and follow along with the 87th Academy Awards on the 22nd February!

Travelling While LGBT: A Justified Anxiety?

The New York Times released its list of the top places to go to in 2015. It puts together two of my favourite things: easy-to-digest lists and travel destinations. This year’s list was pretty exciting – among some places that we’d visited on this past trip (Manhattan, Philadelphia, and, surprisingly, Orlando), there were a lot of places I’m interested in visiting.

Singapore and St Vincent and the Grenadines in particular caught my eye. Singapore for its city-state strangeness and St Vincent for its diving. That coral reef photo looks so inviting! But wait.

Before I can plan any more, before I get too excited about a new travel destination, I go to the Wikipedia page for LGBT rights by country. (Or, I recently found a great site called Equaldex. I wanted to build something similar – it has a map and an easily-searchable database of countries showing the status of various LGBT-related laws.)

Does that seem strange? It still does to me, even though I do it fairly regularly. But unfortunately I feel like I have to. For example, checking out St Vincent and the Grenadines shows me that male homosexuality is punishable by ten years in prison. I guess that takes it off the “potential diving spots” list.

Singapore has a prison sentence of two years for gay guys. Another one off the list.

Going back to the New York Times list, there’s a couple of countries that I know are not LGBT-friendly – Oman (up to three years imprisonment) and Morocco (six months imprisonment). Checking some more, there’s also St Kitts (ten years imprisonment), Zimbabwe (up to ten years imprisonment), Sri Lanka (up to ten years), Papua New Guinea (up to fourteen years), and Tanzania (a minimum of twenty years imprisonment). That totals nine countries out of the fifty-two! I guess forty-three remaining travel destinations would still keep you pretty well-occupied.

That’s just going off countries that ban same-sex activities, mind you. There’s even more countries that don’t ban LGBT discrimination. When looking at destinations, I’m usually more lax with that. I mean heck, we couldn’t even visit Florida if I included places that allow LGBT discrimination in the “no-travel” list.

What does this serve? Am I just being unnecessarily anxious? Is this narrowing our experience of the world over something quite small? I mean, we’re from two globally dominant countries. Surely LGBT travellers aren’t arrested that regularly? There’s a couple of high-profile cases that spring to mind – a British gay guy was arrested in Morocco, and four LGBT Dutch people were arrested in Russia. But the number of LGBT travellers far outweighs those, surely. We’d probably be “unnoticed.”

As well as the “danger,” there’s also an aspect of avoiding such countries for economic reasons. We can freely choose to spend our money in, say, Spain – which has far better equal rights for LGBT people – over another country that does not.

It’s weird having to read through any destination list with the knowledge that you’ll maybe have to cut out about ~15% of it. I’m interested to hear what anyone reading this – both LGBT and non-LGBT – thinks. Am I being too paranoid? Is it a valid, maybe arbitrary choice (I mean hey, it’s a useful way to narrow down all possible countries into a smaller list, right)? Do you have any “rules” for choosing whether you’ll visit a country?