I Started a Cocktail Bar

Not really. But we DID run a couple of “just for fun, what if we started a cocktail bar?” nights in the apartment.


We called the bar Murder & Mensch, an homage to Death & Co, whose book (“Modern Classic Cocktails”) we have adopted as our bible since a kindly individual gifted it to the housemate for Christmas. We even have an instagram account, where I’ve been able to have lots of totally pointless fun with instagram filters.


Including a couple of non-alcoholic variants, and a couple of 1v1 competitive cocktail-offs (I’m currently losing 2-0, but dispute the judges’ decisions in all cases) we have done 25 distinct cocktails (and countless variants thereof), and I think my favourite might be our chilli and watermelon margarita. (That preference may be the influence of the thoroughly un-Irish 20C+ temperatures we’re currently experiencing).

I say our chilli and watermelon margarita – it was actually contributed by our artist-in-residence and my better half (whose teaching career demands anonymity online). It’s a mashup of Death & Co’s base margarita recipe with a Martha Stewart suggestion – far be it from me to make comments on the holiness or otherwise of that alliance…


As with all cocktails, your end product is extremely dependent on the ingredients you start with. We use Jose Cuervo silver tequila, and Cointreau is by far our preferred Tripel Sec. Citrus MUST be freshly squeezed (you may sub in lemon for lime, if that’s what you have handy).

Chili and Watermelon Margarita

  • 2oz Silver Tequila
  • 1oz fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz Tripel Sec
  • 1/4 oz agave nectar
  • Large bite-size chunk of watermelon
  • Cayenne Chilli Pepper (or other pure chilli powder – without garlic or other additives)
  • Salt
  • Ice


  1. Cover a small plate with salt and cayenne pepper (50/50 mix). Wipe the rim of your glass (martini glass by preference) with the flesh of a lemon/lime and rub the rim through the mix. You want a generous but not excessive layer of salt/chilli rimming the glass.
  2. Add your watermelon chunk (no skin) to a cocktail shaker and roughly mash up (with a muddler, if you have one).
  3. Add tequila, tripel sec, lime and agave nectar to the shaker with a few cubes of ice and a good pinch each of salt and cayenne chilli pepper. Shake vigorously.
  4. When cocktail is thoroughly chilled double strain (hawthorn strained + sieve) into your prepared glass.
  5. Garnish with a small wedge of watermelon and serve.

For sugar we use agave nectar, which seems to be available in healthfood stores. You could equally use honey, simple syrup, or just use a full ounce of Tripel Sec and forget the sugar component altogether.

On linking

I wasn’t sure if it would be published, truth be told, but the article I wrote on the NNI copyright scandal is now available on page 24 of this week’s Gaelscéal (but in a format that is entirely immune to Google translate, unfortunately).

Although Galescéal doesn’t have anything like the power or audience of The Irish Times or Irish Independent, it is nonetheless a national newspaper. It is not, however, a member of the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), who recently submitted to Government the opinion that links should be subject to copyright protection. Although it shouldn’t come as a surprise, it should be deeply disturbing to just about everyone to know that none of the members of the NNI made any mention of this submission to Government until the story was broken online. As far as I’m aware, mine is the first opinion piece published in a national paper which was anything close to sufficiently critical of this position (although I was behind every major tech news site, so I’m not trying to claim an exclusive here or anything).

Although I didn’t pull any punches, I don’t think it’s within my skill as a writer to convey the absurdity of the NNI’s position. In a nutshell, they want control over who links to their content. That’s not to say that they want control over people scraping content from their page – although they want that too – but rather that they want to be able to extract payment from anyone who publishes a link to the site of any newspaper which is a member of the NNI.

The Irish Times, to their credit, have been quite clear that they support people’s rights to publish links on Twitter and Facebook, but really that doesn’t go far enough. Rather they should be jumping up and down on the rooftops, screaming “THIS IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS!”, because nothing less than that will persuade me that they actually understand what’s going on here.

What these companies are doing is trying to extract payment for the equivalent of “yes, that pub’s down their on the left – big yellow sign, can’t miss it”. Merely telling people about their site is enough, apparently, for them to consider you to have infringed their copyright.

There’s no doubt about the absurdity of this position. The only doubt is about whether we can trust that it won’t become law.


Legislation by lottery.

Essentially describing the basis for the constitutional convention in Ireland. I don’t think the Government has gotten enough credit for an pretty ballsy and unconventional move.

My concern would be that 100 people may not prove to be enough to give a representative sample of views, but then everything they decide on will be passed, or not, by referendum.

Key quote from the article:

the single-issue focus of the SILLs would allow the country to work on a range of important policies simultaneously, in contrast with the current system where Congress typically only has the bandwidth to take up one or two big issues each term“. (Referring to the US, obviously, but the same applies worldwide).

If the constitutional convention goes well, could this be a possible future form of Government? Combined with online petitions, where a citizens convention is triggered if more than x people sign a petition requesting it?