Tag Archives: booze

Hump Day Vices: Les Demoiselles de Falfas Bordeaux paired with with Fromi Mon Sire Camembert

Autumn is very much here and the nip in the evening air stands as the harbinger of winter coming soon. As we begin to bundle up our palates too long for something warming. I can think of no better pairing to welcome the coming season than refined, bright, and spicy Les Demoiselles Bordeaux paired with decadently buttery rich Fromi Mon Sire Camembert. Do yourself a favor and indulge a little bit!

The Wine

Tasting Notes:

Wine: Les Demoiselles

Vintage: 2009

Price: $17.99

Producer: J et V Cochran

Region & Country: Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux, France

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: 10/31/11 Whole Foods Market – Santa Monica, CA

Place and Date Tasted: 11/1/11 The Mesch-Ruskin Home – San Marcos, CA

Appearance: Striking appearance, brilliant ruby red with decently strong legs

Please forgive the dark background!

Nose: Raisins, Cassis, Rosemary, Sage, Rose Hips, Dry Toast

Taste: Elegantly light with cranberry tart/sweet and warm cinnamon spice

Finish: Medium-long with progressively intense tannin

Overall Impression: Les Demoiselles is a resplendent example of all that is best in Côtes de Bourg. The tradition of wine production in this small part of Bordeaux dates all the way back to the Romans and in the thousands of years wine makers have been perfecting their craft here they have developed a distinct, extremely elegant, balanced, and delicious characteristic for their wine. Les Demoiselles demonstrates all of these good qualities.

Food Pairing: The spice and tannin in Les Demoiselles makes it a perfect partner to any holiday dinner…be it a prime rib roast, roast ham with mango chutney, roast turkey with cranberry sauce, or something even more daring like a roast duckling. What you’re looking for with respect to pairing is fat, spice, and complimentary herbs. A creamy camembert is the ideal cheese to highlight the wine’s taste while reciprocally complimenting the cheese’s high fat content.

Overall Rating (out of 100 points): 87

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 4 stars

The Cheese

Fromi Mon Sire Camembert

Cheese Name: Mon Sire

Date and Place Purchased: 10/31/11 Whole Foods Market – Santa Monica, CA

Type of Milk Used: Bovine

Place of Origin: France

Producer: Fromi

Cheesemonger: Gladys Hernandez

Food Pairing: Dried fruits, rosemary, toasted nuts, toasted bread

Mon Sire is perfectly suited to Leslie Stowe's Raincoast Crisps, particularly Rosemary-Cranberry-Pecan

Wine Pairing: Any full-bodied, tannic red wine

Tasting Notes: Buttery smooth, sweet, and delicious

Rating (1-10): High 10


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Hump Day Vices: El Presidente

My liquor cabinet. Seriously, what the fuck am I going to make with 3 different rums, half a flask of cognac, an anise liquer, vermouth, triple sec, a bunch of bitters, and an empty novelty ice tray?

If there is one thing you should know about me it’s that I will never be able to keep a fully-stocked bar. When alcohol comes into my home it tends to be consumed with singular focus until the bottle is empty, and there is rarely any overlap at all between one bottle and the next. This is not to say that I don’t desire a fully stocked bar, because I very much do. I have twelve different kinds of bitters on hand, several bottles of dry and sweet vermouth, triple sec, and a variety of other mixers but the bourbon, gin, vodka, scotch, and whiskey to mix with them seem to disappear as quickly as they came in. Gin always has the quickest turn-around, but once the Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Hendrick’s is exhausted there is little discretion used in the anhilation of the feeble stockpile of any other spirit in the house.

Rum seems to be the one exception to this rule. No matter how empty my freezer may be there always seems to be half a bottle of rum tucked away in the back of my bare liquor cabinet. Maybe it’s leftover from making rum cake at Christmas, maybe my WASP genetic makeup blinds me to it when something clearer and more junipery is on hand. At any rate it’s distilled and at the end of the pay period it’s often in the house. I first discovered El Presidente at the end of a particularly lean month. It was the night before payday and I didn’t have the means to fuel cocktail hour. Barnaby (my roommate at the time) and I sat in the living room and the confluence of evening and Curb your Enthusiasm seemed sadly incomplete without drinks in our hands. Thirsty and destitute we made an assessment of our liquor supply. Two empty bottles of peach schnapps, 1/3 of a bottle of triple sec, about 13 different kinds of bitters, a broken wine glass, two very old bottles of bizarre Romanian cherry wine (which must have been drank one night post-blackout or were incorporated into an unfortunate jungle juice at a party because I no longer have them), a full bottle of sweet vermouth, a scant bottle of dry vermouth, and half a bottle of gold rum were all we had.

Barnaby began counting quarters to go buy a 40 of Miller High Life ($2.25 out-the-door!) at the bodega where we often made fools of ourselves or flat-out insulted the proprietor in our various states of intoxication. I put pride aside and began combing over my bar book for a simple rum drink. Near the end of the chapter I ran across El Presidente. It called for rum, dry and sweet vermouth, triple sec, and an orange twist. My heart racing I looked at the fruit bowl. Two rotten lemons and YES, an orange! I screamed “we’re in business” and washed the cocktail shaker. We took sips and it was, very much to Barnaby’s surprise, totally drinkable. At the end of the night we had killed not only the rum but the dry vermouth and triple sec as well (as we ran out of supplies the proportions began to vary wildly) and we ended up having one of our better parties. Tonight is very much the end of a very lean pay period and instead of hocking something to buy supplies for this evening’s post I’m going to share with you the preparation of El Presidente. If you’re like me and can count on a rogue bottle of rum when your bank account runs low you will find this recipe a gem to be thankful for at the end of the month 😉


1 1/2 ounces of gold or light rum

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

1/2 ounce of sweet vermouth

1/4 ounce of triple sec

twist of lemon

dash of grenadine


Mise en Place: Assemble your ingredients and fill a shaker half-way with ice

Measure out the ingredients

Pour into the shaker with the ice, add the grenadine if you forgot like I did.

Shake vigorously and pour into a cocktail glass

Garnish with a little twist of lemon and enjoy!


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Hump Day Vices: Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois and Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon

This evening I would like to take a moment to share my notes on two very distinctive, very different wines I’ve had the chance to taste this week. The first continues on the theme of value-priced wines from Bordeaux I started last week. Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois is a fabulous wine which captures all of what is good in Bordeaux for the remarkably low price of $19.99 per bottle. The second, Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon, comes from the Napa valley and has one of the fruitiest expressions I’ve ever experienced from Cabernet Sauvignon. I highly recommend both wines and share my tasting notes below:

Château Barreyres Cru Bourgeois

When you uncork the bottle always take care to check the cork. A cork with a uniform red stain on the bottom indicates a wine which was properly stored on it's side. If the cork has no stain it means the wine was stored improperly upright, which will dry the cork out and spoil the wine.

Vintage: 2006

Price per Bottle: $19.99

Producer:Concours de Bourdeaux

Region and Country: Haut-Médoc (left bank), Bordeax, France

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Place and Date Tasted: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Appearance: deep burgundy color, medium-strong legs (12.5% alcohol by volume)

Rich red color

Nose: ripe blackberries and cranberries

Taste: nutmeg spiciness and honey-grape sweetness

Finish: long and spicy

Overall Impression: this is a very nice wine and considering this is a left-bank Bordeaux priced at $20.00 per bottle this is a steal not to be passed up. I foresee this wine aging well and would love to see how it mellows after being cellared for about 5 years.

Food Pairing: pair with roasted duckling or another fatty bird

Overall Rating (out of 100): 88 points

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 5 stars

Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon

Again, When you uncork the bottle always take care to check the cork. A cork with a uniform red stain on the bottom indicates a wine which was properly stored on it's side. If the cork has no stain it means the wine was stored improperly upright, which will dry the cork out and spoil the wine

Vintage: 2008

Price per Bottle: $14.99

Producer: Nine North Wine Company

Region and Country: St. Helena, California

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Place and Date Tasted: Whole Foods Santa Monica 10/9/2011

Appearance: light cranberry red with strong legs, 14% alcohol by volume

Light Red Appearance

Nose: honeydew melon, night blooming Jasmine, orange zest, orange blossoms

Taste: jam-sweet, this wine tastes exactly like orange marmalade

Finish: long and progressively smoother

Overall Impression: I normally prefer wines who’s taste is an accurate reflection of the character of the grape used, however Chasing Lions is a rare exception. This is a nice, fruity, highly drinkable wine which could easily be drank on it’s own or paired with a number of foods.

Food Pairing: Creamy cheeses such as Brie, anything with orange in it, and pork.

Overall Rating (out of 100): 90

Overall Value (1-5 stars): 5 stars

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Hump Day Vices: Château Lalande, An Exceptional Value from Bordeaux

Château Lalande. Saint Julien-Becheville Bordeaux

Château Lalande is one of the most pleasantly surprising wines I’ve had the chance to taste in a long time. Coming from a region of France known for it’s exclusive, high-priced bottles many people are scared off by Bordeaux wines, and rightfully so. Well, the novice wine drinker and the well-drank wine snob can share equally in my delight for this bottle. Coming on the tail of the critically-acclaimed 2000 vintage, 2001 was a rainy year for Bordeaux lending the very light appearance and sublime quality of many of the 2001 bottles I’ve had. A decade of careful aging has tamed the spice and matured the grapy-sweetness of this wine and at $24.99 Château Lalande comes on the market as one of those very rare Bordeaux bargains. Do yourself a favor and grab a bottle…this is a value no wine lover should pass up.

Tasting Notes

Wine: Château Lalande

Vintage: 2001

Price Per Bottle: $24.99

Producer: Saint Julien-Bechevelle

Region and Country of Origin: France, Bordeaux: Left Bank, Saint Julien

Grape Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Place and Date Purchased: Whole Foods Market, 2201 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, October 4th 2011

Place and Date Purchased: Home, West Adams Los Angeles, October 5th 2011

Appearance: Cloudy, musky-looking cranberry red, strong legs (13% alcohol)

Don't let the cloudy appearance dissuade you.

Nose: Black currant, cassis, moist soil, anise jam or compote

Taste: warm spices, very round, mellow waves of fruit contrasted by alternating waves of balanced spice

Finish: Long, cinnamon-and-nutmeg-spice finish

Overall Impression: Don’t allow the appearance of the wine alarm you. This is a very, very nice wine which is easily drinkable on its own but would compliment venison or another kind of gamier meat very nicely. Coupled with a dish like Beef Wellington at Christmas this wine could prove magical. A ten year-old left-bank Bordeaux for $24.99 is practically unheard of making this wine an extremely good value when we take its quality into consideration.

Overall Rating (Out of 100): 90 points

Overall Value (1-5 Stars): 5 stars

Label details.


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Hump Day Vices: Gold Rum Mojitos

Cold, refreshing, and lethal!

To accompany yesterday evening’s Colombo I made several batches of gold rum mojitos. It was a hot day in Los Angeles yesterday and these cold, refreshing babies were just what I needed. Handily I received a package of Hawaiian souvenirs from my parents in the morning and had a Caribbean-themed menu planned for dinner.

This preparation diverges from the dumbed-down, sweet, white rum variety many are used to. These mojitos respect and highlight the flavor of the rum instead of masking it, and they’re more like a mint julep made with rum instead of bourbon. If you have a really nice rum on hand now is the time to utilize it! Enjoy!

Ingredients for two mojitos

1 cup of gold rum
4 mint leaves
The juice of two limes
One lime cut into wedges for garnish
Two teaspoons of cane sugar

How to Prepare

Begin by cutting one of your limes into 6 wedges, set aside.

Squeeze the juice from the two limes into a bowl. I use a simple wooden reamer for juicing, I find it to be the most effective tool for the purpose.

Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve. There's nothing less appealing than seeds and pulp floating around in your cocktail

Measure out your rum. Thank you Mom and Dad for this delicious, top shelf bottle of Hawaiian rum!

Put two large mint leaves into each glass and sprinkle one teaspoon or so of cane sugar into the cup

Divide the lime juice between the two glasses over the sugar cane and mint

Divide the rum between the two glasses over the mint, sugar, and lime juice. Muddle vigorously with a spoon so that the sugar is completely dissolved and the mint leaves are thoroughly bruised, thus releasing the mint oil. Caution...muddle vigorously but not too vigorously. After two of these potent little cocktails I was a little overzealous in my muddling on number three and shattered one of my crystal highball glasses.

Add crushed ice to the top, squeeze a lime wedge over the drink, then drop the squeezed lime wedge on top to garnish and extract as the drink sits.

Settle in and enjoy many!

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Friday Night Indulgences: White Russian Cupcakes

The Dude abides.

It’s Friday night and this has been one hell of a week. We at Reclaiming the Good Name of the Epicurean, as both big fans of “The Dude” as well as his favorite drink, believe White Russian Cupcakes are in order. You heard it right, White Russian Cupcakes. These delicious bad boys have Stoli, Kahlua, and a whole lot of other devilishly good stuff in them. Enjoy!


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 sticks of butter, softened
1 large egg and 1 egg white, plus 8 egg whites (one cup total)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/8 cup Vodka
1 cup Kahlua
1. Bake the cupcakes

Begin by measuring out the dry ingredients. In professional kitchens dry ingredients are always weighed out on a scale. The volume of an 8-ounch measuring cup of flour, sugar, or cornmeal all have vastly different weights...thus a recipe calling for 8 weighted ounces of flour can be far more consistently measured using a scale versus using a measuring cup. Since I know many home cooks do not own a kitchen scale I'm demonstrating how to most accurately measure ingredients using measuring cups. Scoop the flour into the cup so that it is heaping, then...

...level the cup off with a flat surface. The flat surface of a dinner knife works perfectly. If you scoop the flour with the measuring cup itself you condense the flour and everything you bake will be doomed to dried-out oblivion.

Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Combine a stick of butter and 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and...

...beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

When I bake I always use a natural, evaporated cane sugar. It is opaque and slightly beige in color. The bright white C&H variety has a slightly metallic, abrasive taste which translates into whatever you're making. This kind of sugar ha a natural caramelly sweetness to it and makes your baked goods noticeably tastier. Zulka is a very inexpensive form of this kind of sugar and can be found for about 80 cents a bag at less expensive grocery stores like Superior or Food 4 Less.

I'm going to demonstrate how to properly separate an egg twice in this post, first for the cupcake itself and second when I demonstrate how to prepare the buttercream in section two. Begin by thoroughly washing your hands (you'll be using them to handle the raw egg itself...just do it, embrace it, it's what all professional pastry chefs do). Collect three small bowls, one will be used to crack each egg over, one will be used to hold the separated yolks, and one will be used to hold the separated whites. Make sure the bowls are pristinely clean and that you keep the whites and yolks strictly segregated. Crack the egg on the surface of the counter, do not crack it on the edge of a bowl or the edge of the counter, this drastically increases the chances of getting eggshell in your cracked egg.

Open the egg onto one hand taking care not to break the yolk. Even the faintest trace of egg yolk will render your egg whites unusable.

Gently pass the yolk from hand to hand letting the white fall into the bowl under you.

Drop the egg yolk into a separate bowl. You can reserve the yolk for another use by freezing it, egg yolks measure to one ounce so the next recipe that calls for egg yolks you can just pull out our measuring spoons and measure out an ounce of egg yolk from your freezer.

Pour the clean egg white into another separate bowl. Make certain there is NO egg yolk in the white whatsoever. Make sure to completely empty the bowl you crack your eggs over after each egg, this ensures that your whites and yolks continue to be perfectly separated. Remember, even the slightest trace of yolk will make your whites unusable.

Add the egg white and egg yolk to the butter and sugar and mix to combine.

Add the vanilla to the eggs, butter, and sugar in the mixer and mix to combine. I like to use this bourbon-extracted vanilla from Trader Joes

Add the vodka to the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in the mixer.

Add 1/4 cup of the kahlua called for in the recipe to the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and vodka in the mixer. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Add half of the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine.

Add half of the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine.

Scrape down the sides then add the second half of the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly, scrape down the sides one final time, then mix again just until combined.

Using a standard-measure portioning device (such as the two ounce ladle I'm using here) portion the batter into pre-papered cupcake cups. The key to getting consistently-sized cupcakes is using a measure when portioning the batter into the cups. What does in is what goes out.

Portion the batter into all of the cupcake cups and bake for 15-17 minutes in a 350 degree F oven, when a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean they are done.

When the cupcakes come out transfer them to a wire rack to cool and while they are still warm brush them lightly with a little Kahlua just so that they don't run short on booze.

2. Make the buttercream

A classic Swiss buttercream is literally swiss meringue with butter whipped into it. It is a three-part proportion, one part egg whites, one part sugar, and one part butter. 

Using the three-bowl system described above first crack your eggs on the surface of the counter

Separate the egg over the bowl by gently passing it from hand to hand allowing the egg white to drop into the bowl below while taking care not to break the yolk.

Place the yolks in a separate bowl and retain in the freezer for a later use.


When you've measured out one cup of egg whites add one cup of sugar and whip slightly in a stainless steel bowl with a heat-proof whip.

Get a saucepan of water simmering on the stovetop

Place the bowl of egg whites and sugar over the saucepan of simmering water and whip constantly until the mixture is hot to the touch. Make certain to whip constantly when the whites are over the heat otherwise you'll end up with a egg white and sugar omelet that you didn't order

When the mixture is hot to the touch transfer the bowl to your stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip on high speed until...

...the whites and suger have whipped into a bright white, fluffy mass that is room temperature to the touch.

The meringue is ready when you dab a spoon into the mixture, pull it straight out, and the egg white comes up after the spoon and holds a firm peak. Like so.

Add one cup of butter to the mixture ann whip on high speed until incorporated.

At first the meringue will deflate slightly and look soupy but don't freak out...

...when it is done whipping it will become semifirm, solid, and glossy.

Add Kahlua to taste and whip on high speed until thoroughly combined.

3. Decorate the cupcakes once they have cooled completely.

Outfit a pastry bag with a large star tip.

Fold the bag down so that is is about halfway folded over your hand. This makes sure that excess frosting doesn't ooze out of the top of the bag and make a sticky mess of the outside of the bag, your hand, and everything else you then touch.

Add the Kahlua buttercream to the bag and fill to the folded half-way point.

Unfold the top of the bag like so...notice the lack of frosting anywhere near the outside of the bag?

Twist the bag so that all of the excess air is absent and the frosting is held to the tip with controllable tension

Pipe a rosette onto the top of each cupcake by starting a fat circle around the perimeter...

...rounding a second circle on top of the first one, slightly in so that we taper to a peak.

Finish in the center at the top.

Repeat the process for all of the cupcakes. Your finished product will look something like this!

I made these cupcakes for my partner, she's a graduate student and she's had an exceptionally busy week. One of her secret pleasures is "pride sprinkles." If you have someone in your life with such an affinity feel free to garnish a few with some of them. They'll make him or her certain that this is a treat meant especially for them.

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Hump Day Vices: Granddad Kennedy’s Anitoxident Martini

The Kennedy Family at the Marine's Memorial Club in San Francisco on the date of Ken and Jane Kennedy's 60th wedding anniversary. Granddad Kennedy is seen in the foreground with his characteristic martini in hand.

How do I describe my grandfather? He’s a decorated war hero who fought in the battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean war, a world traveler, a mathematical genius who’s lifelong career as an engineer has spanned RCA, Lockheed Martin, Northrop-Grumman, and Westinghouse (just to name a few), and one of the most broadly intelligent people I’ve ever had the privilege to know. His illustrious life makes the “most interesting man in the world” from those Dos Equis commercials look like a door-to-door salesman. He’s the closest thing to the embodiment of the Humphry Bogart ideal of a man i’ve ever seen and just as Humphry Bogart isn’t Humphry Bogart without his trademark trenchcoat, fedora, and cigarette Granddad Kennedy isn’t Granddad Kennedy without his trademark martini.

Granddad Kennedy imparting wisdom to a table mate at the 2010 Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Cocktail hour is a ritual observed with religious devotion and unrivaled style by both of my grandparents. It’s the time of the day when the fever of life is over and their work is done and they come together and reflect on the day, the world, and the fascinating life they live. For those fortunate to receive an invitation at 5 o’clock they’ll hear about their camel-rides in Egypt by the pool at their house in Santa Cruz. They’ll watch Granddad shoot seagulls with a SuperSoaker between sips on the deck of their sailboat Moonraker in the Monterey marina. They’ll share in the joy of feeding milk to Frosty, the sometimes-adopted neighborhood cat on the deck in Trinidad. They’ll hear my grandmother remember through guilty giggles sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels with my grandfather as they went further and further behind the iron curtain on the trans-siberian railroad and had to straighten up (with difficulty) for periodic Soviet inspections over drinks on the sunporch in Santa Maria. They’ll hear Granddad talk about living in San Francisco the summer he was 18 over drinks at the club. Wherever they are and wherever they observe the ritual one thing becomes evident to whomever joins them for drinks: people may try, but no one will ever live life quite like Ken and Jane Kennedy.

When I was very young a print of Renoir's 'Le Déjeuner des Canotiers' hung in the living room of my grandparens' house in the Santa Cruz mountains. As I would fidget in my still-too-big chair on the deck at cocktail hour I could see glimpses of this print through the glass doors behind my martini-sipping grandfather. To this day whenever I think of him in some way I see him in this picture. Eating, drinking, talking, and exploring.

Corresponding with the great man by email about my work with this blog I asked for his input and he provided a formula for what he’s called “The AO Martini”…meaning, of course, the antioxident martini. When I read about it I both laughed out load and asked myself why I hadn’t thought of it sooner. There is, as only my grandfather could imagine, a marvelous way to balance good living with good health. Below you’ll find the process for preparing my take on GD’s AO Martini.


1 part blueberry purée

5 parts gin

A chilled martini glass

A cocktail pick stuffed with frozen blueberries


In a food processor purée a pint of fresh blueberries

Through a fine mesh sieve strain the purée into a small cup. The last thing you want is sinuous blueberry membrane or seeds floating around in your martini.

Fill your martini shaker with ice

Add one part strained blueberry purée to the ice in the shaker

Add 5 parts gin to the blueberry and ice in the shaker. Tonight I'm using New Amsterdam due to self-imposed austerity measures, but a true Kennedy martini is traditionally made with Beefeater (for a man who once pumped the guests at his party full of two handles of Llord's plastic-bottle gin, 3 magnums of Cook's, and a bottle of 90-proof raspberry liquere and called it "Champagne Punch" I'm actually on the classy side tonight)

Shake the martini vigorously about 60 times and pour into your chilled martini glass complete with cocktail pick of frozen blueberries. I'll have to settle for this pick I stole from the Fairmont because, alas, I do not have the topless mermaid cocktail picks my grandfather employs

And there you have it! As beautiful to look at as it is delicious to drink. Cheers to good health!

While preparing this post and indeed while sipping on the result I’ve been listening to the same jazz my grandparents listen to at cocktail hour. May I suggest Dave Brubeck Radio on Pandora? http://www.pandora.com/#!/stations/play/568519001521871518


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