Category Archives: Inspiration

Baroque Blushing

We had the most wonderful photoshoot and practice yesterday with the marvelous people of Detritus! There was a LOT of blush involved, but hey – what could be a better way to start a new project than by stroking each other’s faces gently? STILL IN OUR SHADE, our collaboration with these amazing Baroque musicians and dancer Tero Hytönen is to take place in Helsinki on November 20, 2016, so save the date, Sweethearts!

Pictures by Juha Reunanen.

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Advent calendar, week 2

For more Advent calendar treats, see week 1!

December 13th

This week’s recipe is not a cocktail recipe per se, but a recipe for a home made syrup you can use for cocktails. Making a home made syrup for cocktail use is quite simple, and can enhance the appeal of even the simplest party punch. The recipe we’re giving away today is one that has a very wintery flavor and goes well with either hot or cold drinks. So here we go, a honey-cardamom syrup for Christmasy cocktails.

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4 cups water
2 cups honey
20-30 green cardamom pods
10 juniper berries
2 tbsp brown sugar

Bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan and add the cardamom and juniper berries, crushed. Let the flavors infuse for about five minutes. Bring the heat down, add the honey and sugar, and let simmer until you have about 2/3 of the liquid left. Strain through a tea sieve to your chosen container. Let the syrup cool and enjoy!

If you’re making cold drinks, try this syrup with recipes that usually call for honey syrup, such as Bee’s Knees or Gold Rush. Here we did a variation on Gold Rush, adding italian amaro and just a little creme de cassis to the original bourbon, lime and honey.

syrup001

For a hot toddy, try combining a strong, brown spirit with a fortified wine or dessert wine. If you’re using a dry sherry, try to pair it with a sweeter rum or Metaxa. If you have some vermouth lying around, spike it up with cognac. We used Sauternes wine and grappa, since both share the taste of raisin and make a beautiful pair. A dash of bitters can go a long way, chamomile and of course cardamom work well!


December 12th

Last year we did a show called Kammerkabarett. For that show we made a handful of video projections, which we haven’t had a chance of using on gigs since. There’s one that we’d especially like share with you, Sweethearts! It’s our humble homage to both Méliès and Devant, a vision of the great Mascot Moth illusion. Complete with a short “making of” intro, s’il vous plaît!

 

December 11th

We have a very special Christmas playlist, which we keep adding songs to every year. It consists of many French chants de Noël, Spanish villancicos, and other Christmasy stuff, like Bela Fleck‘s banjo version of The Twelve days of Christmas – in 12 different keys and with 12 different time signatures. And of course, no playlist is complete wihtout a Tom Waits song! So take a listen, Sweethearts, and Merry Christmas!

 

December 10th

IrmaVepOikeaGif

Here’s a little Christmas e-card we made for you, Sweethearts! And we even made a version with sound, too! Remember your loved ones, send them a card!

 

December 9th

 

Often our live shows are accompanied by our muse, Noora Palotie. She’s a wonderful, warm hearted person, and an amazing performer. She’s done everything from burlesque to theatre to aerial acrobatics with us on stage, and everything she does, she does with uncommon conviction and grace.
Here’s a clip we found from the ‘Is This Casablanca?’ record release party. The inspiration to this particular coreography came from watching the dance scenes in Gilda in slow motion. Noora absolutely kills this one, complete with the single-glove striptease!

December 8th

Laura has been an avid audiobook listener for some time, and for the start of a new Advent week would like to share a few favourites from the Librivox catalogue! Librivox.org is a wonderful project full of free audiobooks, all in the public domain and read by volunteers from around the world.  These make an entertaining listen for those sleepless nights, slow hours at the gym or tedious moments on the train.

Emma_3

Jane Austen: Emma
(read by Elizabeth Klett)

A recent article on the Guardian tells us how this novel changed the face of fiction. Pay heed, and hear it out! I have to say I never really got into Jane Austen until I heard her novels narrated by Elizabeth Klett, and Emma is my absolute favourite with its ironic portrayal of the name character. Klett’s reading subtly highlights the humour and brings out all the nuances of Austen’s mature masterpiece.

Red_House_Mystery_1006A. A. Milne: The Red House Mystery
(read by Kristin Hughes)

The author of Winnie-the-Pooh was full of surprises: Milne was a noted playwright and short story writer before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. In 1922 he wrote one of the most impressive “locked room”-mysteries of the Golden Age of detective fiction. Enjoy the cleverness and the deductive beauty of The Red House Mystery in this delightful reading by Kristin Hughes.

Jungle_Book_1003Rudyard Kipling: The Jungle Book
(read by Meredith Hughes)

If you’ve never read The Jungle Book, you’re in for a surprise: The Kipling original is nothing like the jazzy Disney movie, but presents a haunting and often sad set of stories and songs that just might take you back to your real childhood, instead of the imaginary one. It’s a good place to visit though, especially when narrated by the lovely childlike voice of Meredith Hughes.

Human_Machine_1210Arnold Bennett: The Human Machine
(read by Ruth Golding)

Ruth Golding has a wonderfully soothing voice, and I’ve greatly enjoyed both her version of Wuthering Heights and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This essay of Arnold Bennett sounds like tremendous fun: “I am simply bent on calling your attention to a fact which has perhaps wholly or partially escaped you — namely, that you are the most fascinating bit of machinery that ever was.” Sold!

 

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Advent calendar, week 1

December 7th

afterparty002

To conclude the first week of the advent calendar, here’s a recipe to a drink that was thrown together for our Independence Day after party No. 1 (Yes, we had another afterparty much, much later on!). It’s customary in Finland to gather around with friends and tune in on the Presidential Independence Day Ball, or Linnanjuhlat, as it is known in Finnish. It is a party that collects together a respectable amount of people, from popular entertainers, distinguished academics and athletes to politicians, military figures and WWII veterans. We had a friend over, who was looking forward to spending the Independence Day with his parents, only to find out two days before that his parents were actually attending the Presidential Ball. So, after our gig at the HKTY, we sat down to watch the Ball on TV, and we whipped up this surprisingly Mediterranean drink. Let’s call it

♦The Afterparty No. 1♦

1 tbsp of rowanberry jam
Juice of ½ lemon
25 ml of Larios 12 Botanicals Gin
10 ml of Grand Marnier
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes of grapefruit bitters
A twig of rosemary

Shake all ingredients well, and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twig of Rosemary. Double straining is recommended, but this is an afterparty drink, after all.

afterparty001.jpg

Made as such, the rowanberry jam makes the drink’s consistency lusciously thick. The Larios 12 has in it, apart from all the other spices, lime, orange, orange blossom, lemon, tangerine, mandarin, clementine and grapefruit. Together with Grand Marnier and grapefruit bitters, this drink has in it almost everything from the citrus family. The rosemary highlights the bright notes of the citrusy flavours, and Grand Marnier brings out the more mellow tangerines, clementines and mandarins.

Consider substituting the gin, since even without the Larios 12 the recipe still has a good amount of citruses in it. For the true Finnish Independence Day feel use Napue Gin, by the very Finnish Kyrö Distillery Company.

December 6th

It’s Finnish Independence Day! We played some music at the party at Helsingin Käsityö- ja Teollisuusyhdistys, and had a lovely time! Here’s just a quick video to say hi!

 

December 5th

More Film Noir inspiration, this time it’s all about hair! For the classic 1940’s look, nothing is more essential: Sure, the defined eyebrows and a popping red lipstick go a long way towards vintage glamour, but without the hairdos and the talented hairdressers behind them, Rita Hayworth’s first scene in Gilda would have a lot less of the nonchalant charm that so defines the character. Besides, what would happen to Lauren Bacall’s “The Look” without that wavy hair under which to glare?

This is why, for the 5th of November, we have put together a Pinterest board full of Noir hair inspiration for all lengths and styles! There are even a few vintage tutorials you can try for one of the parties of the festive season: There is nothing better than a wavy hairdo to help you channel the great icons of our century!

I have sported big waves à la Hayworth before, for example on our album cover, but for the intimate evenings I like a more demure, Bacallesque style. Before our Film Noir gigs in Pastis, I always go to TS-Salonki for my hairdo in the morning. We use heated rollers instead of pincurls, as my hair is super thick and I have to make it to the soundcheck in the afternoon. When the hair is set, I just wrap my hair in a silk scarf which I only take off just before the concert. Here are some selfies from different evenings of the fall (also check out Saara’s new haircolor and cut!):

December 4th

And here’s our shot at Why Don’t You Do Right, Jessica Rabbit style. This is the first rehearsal take with the whole band, from way back in September. Saara actually downtunes the C string on the cello, to get some of that upright bass feel to the song.


December 3rd

Hoagy, Bogey and Bacall. Film Noir. Jazz.

 

For the past four months we’ve been doing a Film Noir themed Show & Dinner set at Restaurant Pastis in Helsinki, and we’ve listened to a lot of songs from a lot of movies. So behind the third door of our Advent Calendar lies a playlist of some our favourite Film Noir songs.

A few interesting notes. In the “Rita Hayworth” songs Amado Mio, Put The Blame On Mame and Please, Don’t Kiss Me, the singing voice is actually that of Anita Ellis, an American singer and actress. The people at Columbia Pictures needed to turn Rita Hayworth in to an icon, and while her husky, deep voice was perfect for acting, her singing was always overdubbed. In fact, the only song Rita ever sang for herself on screen was the solo guitar version of ‘Mame‘ in Gilda. All three songs were also written by Dorothy Fisher, one of the very few female songwriters of Golden Age Hollywood.

Hoagy Carmichael is known to many as a prominent songwriter and a marvelous performer. In the later 1930s he was even hired by Paramount Pictures for a whopping 1000$ a week. He also played Sam in the TV production of Casablanca in the 1950s. Did you know, that Ian Fleming has said James Bond would look like Hoagy Carmichael, only with a scar over his face?

David Raksin‘s instrumental song Laura, from the movie Laura (1944), became so popular that Johnny Mercer was asked to write lyrics to it, and 5 different recorded versions emerged in 1945 alone. It has since become a standard with more than 400 known recordings, by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Julie London among others. The song is also heavily referenced to in the movie – the score is almost completely comprised of the theme, the song plays on a phonograph, a band plays the song in a restaurant scene, it is heard as background music in a party, and the song is even on in the radio – at which point Vincent Price‘s character tells us it’s “one of Laura’s favourites.”

The song Why Don’t You Do Right was originally written in 1936 by Joseph McCoy for Harlem Hamfats, and was called The Weed Smoker’s Dream. Lil Green made a recording of the song with new lyrics and a refined melody. Peggy Lee, a big fan of Ms. Green’s work, made the revised version of the song famous after Benny Goodman heard her listening to it on a record over and over again, and offered to arrange it for her to sing. Hugh Laurie recorded a version of the original Weed Smoker’s Dream with Gaby Moreno on vocals in 2013.

 

December 2nd

On the Second day of Christmas my true love sent to me two turtle doves gold bugs.

The Kissel Speedster, commonly known as Goldbug, was produced from 1919 through 1927, and during that time it was a very popular car among the celebrities. Jack Dempsey drove one, Douglas Fairbanks drove one, Greta Garbo drove one, Mary Pickford drove one. Even Amelia Earhart drove one. It was also featured in quite a few movies, and our favourite scene is in the short film Jonah Jones (1924). Apart from the car, we adore Dorothy Seastrom in the role of Margaret Morgan.

The below rendition of the Gold Bug is Jere’s handiwork, designed for an animated music video. We’ll tell you more about that in the future.

 

 

December 1st

So, Jere & Laura went to this wedding this summer. In the capacity of the Best Man, Jere also designed the cocktails for the reception, and so many Last Words were had at this particular party! The newlywed couple surprised us all by getting the absolutely amazing Atelieri O. Haapala to make sure the Steampunk themed event was properly documented for generations to come!

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Italian Escapade!

We recently came back from a week’s journey in Milan and Florence. Needless to say it was fantastic and yes, by all means be jealous.

Climbing on top of Brunelleschi’s dome. Wandering in a maze of mirrors. Collecting paintings of decapitated heads and pretty ladies (Judith and Salome are the salt of my art museums). Taking a secret photo of the floor of La Cappella dei Principi. Spending the night in and learning to tie a bow-tie. Queuing for cheap seats at La Scala. Having a Negroni or two at Santo Spirito. Walking and looking and tasting and hearing, connecting and remembering.

I take it back. Don’t be jealous. Go see the world.

Just GO.

– Laura

“I was but nineteen years then, and so was the century.”
– Benvenuto Cellini, Autobiography

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“The Captain & the Widow” Music Video!

“She’s wearing her favourite dress, the one that he bought.
And she’s put on her dancing shoes, she’s put on her rouge…”

Looking for something to fight the February blues? Here it is, our brand new, self-made music video for our ballad “The Captain and the Widow”! It’s a sad and romantic song full of longing, and so is the video, shot in September in two beautiful locations: In the deserted villas of Kruunuvuori and at Laura’s grandparents. It took us a while to finish, but here it is now, just in time for Valentine’s Day:

Take care of your Valentines and Valentinos, sweethearts! We are working hard on our first show KAMMERKABARETT, which premieres in Savoy-teatteri, Helsinki in May. Soon we’ll tell you all about it!

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November Cocktail: Hindenburg cocktail, or Pauline’s cherry lips

Here is our cock-tale for November. Follow the links to the story, or if you’re impatient,  just skip to the recipe and pictures below.

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Not the Hindenburg actually, but Graf Zeppelin, hovering over our home city Helsinki in 1930, unable to land due to weather conditions.

As a bartender, I would never want to be in the situation in which Max Schulze found himself during the maiden voyage of the Zeppelin Hindenburg – you see, his bar ran out of Gin. While Max was most probably cursing the American passengers who seemed never to have heard of “rationing”, Pauline Charteris came up, true to the fashion of American alc… cocktail aficionados, with an alternate solution. She’d tasted some Kirschwasser on her trip to Germany, and found it somewhat more agreeable than the cheap American gins of the Prohibition*. “Why not substitute Kirsch for Gin”, said Pauline to her hubby. To which his husband replied, “Really now, darling? That’s as absurd as The Saint going to appear in moving pictures.”

The original recipe of Pauline’s Kirschwasser cocktail is now lost to history, along with many of the other recipes from the Hindenburg. As a given, the concoction, designed specifically to replace dry martini on board, probably had Kirschwasser and Vermouth in it. The rest is up to imagination. The German opus “Der Mixologist” by Carl A. Seutter gives a recipe for the Imperial Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, maraschino) with no gin, but with a few dashes of absinthe included. The Imperial Cocktail has no Kirsch in it, though, and there’s no saying if Schultze was actually familiar with Seutters’ book.

At first, we intended to do a serious historical study, but in the end we discarded this idea – for a better one. Airships.net has made a very reasonable version of Charteris’ drink, calling for only kirsch, vermouth and a dash of grenadine for sweetness. On board the aircraft, with a limited supply, the drink might have been quite as simple as that. But maybe, just maybe, after the voyage Max Schultze went home, and decided there’s more to be had from Pauline’s suggestion**. Maybe he mixed the idea of a Kirsch Martini with a recipe he remembered reading a decade back in a German cocktail book? And maybe while sipping this new cocktail he reminisced on a brief brushing together of lips one night at the Hindenburg’s bar…

And that is where we stop with counterfactual history and get back to the present day. Some time ago, not quite happy with any of the commercially produced orange bitters,  Jere made a batch of his own ***, and of course, the difference is like night and day. We wanted to create a recipe to which we could incorporate the self-made bitters, and as we’d been playing around with the idea of the Hindenburg drink, we decided to combine the two. We completely discarded the “dry martini” approach, and tried to find out what would really go well together with the Kirsch. Here’s what we came up with; enjoy.

P.s. For this recipe and many other things, we’d like to thank Dan Grossman, an American aviation specialist – check out his wonderful site about the Hindenburg and Zeppelins in general. Thanks Dan, you’re super and we hope you get to read this!

♦Pauline’s Cherry Lips♦

A jigger (50 ml) of Kirschwasser
A barspoon of dry Vermouth
2 barspoons each of Absinthe and Maraschino liqueur
A dash of orange bitters
Two dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Maraschino cherry or lemon peel for garnish

Stir and strain in to a cocktail glass.

There are a few things to consider with this drink:
1.) There is a great difference between using lemon peel or cherry for garnish. Both are to be placed in the glass, and the maraschino cherry must not be rinsed.
2.) You could substitute the Maraschino liqueur for Maraschino syrup, in which case definitely use lemon peel for garnish and only one spoonful of maraschino syrup.
3.) If using a less aromatic type of orange bitters, consider two to three dashes. The two dashes of Peychaud’s highlight the absinthe, but also give the drink a beautiful cherry hue.

*In fact, by 1936 many brands had already opened distilleries in the US.

**After about a month of making the drink for the first time, and a few days from writing this post I found out about the Tuxedo Cocktail No.2, featured in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Ironically, the Tuxedo No.2 is very much like Pauline, but instead of Kirsch it has Gin (and no Peychaud’s). There is also the Turf Club Cocktail in the Savoy book, and the difference is that Tuxedo uses London dry gin, whereas the Turf Club calls for Plymouth gin and a few dashes more of absinthe and maraschino. It’s possible that Schulze knew either of these recipes, and made use of them with the Kirschwasser cocktail.

***There is no exact recipe for the orange bitters I made. The most notable features are, that counter to common practice I used no gentian root or extract but there’s some dried sage in it, there’s the peel of about one lemon to three of oranges, and the base spirit is not clear grain alcohol but overproof rum. The choice of spices makes it more an amalgam of aromatic and orange bitters, with a pronounced “bottom”, due to use of rum, a bit of cinnamon and the sage. During the holidays I’ll make another batch and fine tune the recipe. -Jere

(back to text)

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September Cocktail: Cynara!

As the days grow short and the nights grow cold, thoughts turn inwards and backwards. This is the time for silent contemplation rather than rowdy merrymaking – and an excellent time for reading poetry. Our cocktail of the month is a warm, spicy blend of Mediterranean delicacies, perfect for those quiet evenings and secret tête-à-têtes. It is inspired by our song Cynara! which is inspired by Ernest Dowson’s poem “Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae”, which in turn borrows its title from Horace’s Odes.

In other words, here’s a healthy dose of intertextual merriment in a glass! If you’re looking for something to impress the ladies with, look no further. If you’re a real Casanova, you memorise the final stanza of Dowson’s poem and deliver it with suitable panache. We guarantee that the night is thine.

cynara

Cynara! ♦

4  parts Samos Nectar*
1  part Brandy
5 parts Hot water
4 Cloves
Orange peel, freshly grated/cut
Grated nutmeg  

Heat the wine and the brandy with the water, but do not bring to a boil. Add the cloves and the orange peel to a wine glass. Pour on the heated wine mixture and the and grate a little nutmeg on top. Summon all the memories of your lost loves. Read the letter you never sent. Cry for madder music, for you have stronger wine.

*(You can use any white dessert wine, such as Sauternes or Tokaji. We tend to stick to Samos Nectar for the sheer joy of quoting Lord Byron as we toast: “Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!” is a line that simply cannot be yelled too often.)

I stumbled upon an excellent introduction to Dowson’s original poem in the Guardian, explaining the connection between Horace’s line and Dowson’s ode to lovesickness. Do read it, and the poem below it, as you’re waiting for your ingredients to heat. Then listen to our song here:

There are many similarities and direct Dowson quotes in Cynara!, but the woman answering the “faithful” lover is not the pale, lost lily the poet remembers. Dowson seems to suggest that Cynara has died an early death, but I pictured a Cynara more advanced in years, contemplating the wound that has bound the poet and the muse together in spite of time and distance.

Cynara!

Do not resort to stronger wine, my love
Under my reign superbly you shall bloom
You may well refuse,
But should you refuse
Then what is it you’re proving, and to whom?

The orbits do their dance, and here we are
The music stops, the dawn is gray again
Insufferably close
Insufferably far
I never was so hungry for the pain.

How could you say that you loved me
When you were my fate
And how could I say that you’ve hurt me
When I was your fatal flaw?

Are you and I as worthless as before,
All charm, and talk, and pride, and sleight of hand?
Our new loves are faint
All sweet, mild restraint
But ours has fetters neither can withstand.

So marry and make merry as you please
Be faithful in your fashion, your design
But when lamps expire,
Oh, when lamps expire,
This prickly thistle sings, the night is mine!

How could you say that you loved me
When you were my fate
And how could I say that you’ve hurt me
When I was your fatal flaw?

– Laura

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