Here in Cocktail Zone 6 it still feels completely natural — even obligatory — to be holding brown liquor as we sit next to the fire while we hunt for style on YOOX and add finds to our price tracking app (still in early beta).
But soon, when the crabgrass emerges in our lawns and evening lows stay above freezing, we'll pivot to clear.
For at least the past decade the first clear cocktail out of the chute has been the ridiculously delicious Last Word. The only "problem" is it's packed with booze. Our doctors recently conferred and it turns out that an average of 49 drinks per week, per person is too many.
Enter another Prohibition-era cocktail that doesn't make you blind (at least not immediately): the Ranier Dog.
We discovered this one on a recent road trip to The Nation's Icebox and a stay at the outstanding Cantilever Hotel in Ranier, MN. We tweak the bar's original recipe slightly with a little less gin (doctors' orders), a little less simple syrup (fatness), and balance the volume with a little more juice. Like the Last Word, it's a cheerful palette powerwash that echoes what Mother Nature does to the outdoors this time every year, and hints at all the seasonal awesomeness that's just days away.
Ranier Dog (original recipe)
2 oz. Juniperus Gin
3 oz. grapefruit juice
1.5 oz. lime juice
1.5 oz. simple syrup
Mix the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake a couple of times and pour over ice into a salted 16 oz. glass. If you have any limes left over, garnish with a robust wedge, sparing any heavily-salted zone.
Editor's Note: We are so passionate about pairing cocktails with the weather we built an app for the purpose. Check out your location's Pourcast and let us know what you think.
Since our last rant three years ago, golf shoe style has deteriorated even more precipitously than our distance off the tee. The April 2021 issue of Golf Digest features not one, but two pages of their picks for shoes only Dylan Frittelli should wear.
Acceptable alternatives are about as rare as salads are for Ian Woosnam, but here are a couple of options we like (for the most part).
Puma's golf shoe designs get weirder every year. This season there's a model better-suited for a domestic terrorist attack than a round of golf. Fortunately they continue to produce the OG, which is basically a waterproof Clyde with nubs on the sole. We're stocking up while we still can.
These are more than 2x the price of the Pumas, but we love the saddle styling of our dads' spiked shoes, and G/Fore golf shoes are famously comfortable. There is one caveat: there's a skull in the insole. In lieu of some Dr. Scholl's, this can be just between you and your club's locker room attendant. "Porterhouse!"
Pre-pandemic, the vast majority of our bike miles were strictly utilitarian: getting from home to the office and back in a small fleet of cargo bikes and rugged, studded-tire-clad winter beaters. The remaining miles were pleasure rides: going to the liquor store and back.
While we still occasionally fake-commute, COVID-19 has made most rides for fun, and made us rediscover the joy of going fast on minimalist vintage steel road bikes (Principle of Archaism). This year we're completing the look and going full-on Breaking Away (with the addition of a helmet and a 25% higher BMI):
1.De Marchi Classic Merino Shorts (Principle of Organic Materials)
While they're a tad long — even classic Italian brands are not immune to decades of shorts' expanding inseams — it's nothing our tailor can't adjust (and remove the branding while he's at it). The "Elastic Interface Endurance" pad adds comfort for the longer rides, even if you draft off a semi for a segment.
2.EGi Merino Wool Tank Top (Principle of Organic Materials)
Ever hear of EGi? Us either. We took a flier on this Italian-made tank and we're getting more. Slim-fitting yet stretchy, seamless, super comfy. Cheap. Runs one size small.
3.De Marchi Classic Leather Gloves (Principle of Organic Materials)
Almost a perfect late-'70s period match, top-notch Italian craftsmanship, and like the shorts, padding where you need it.
4.Puma Speedcat Sparco Suede Low-Top Sneakers
We've written extensively about the sneakerization of just about all footwear, but unfortunately road cycling shoes remain largely unaffected. So we've turned the Puma Speedcat into a cycling shoe, and so far, so good. They're light, have a low profile, and rigid sole for good pedaling power. Puma runs one size small. If you have any other strong suggestions please drop us a note.
A: As we said back in 2011, Al Davis probably took the sure answer to the suspected Vuarnet/Mikli sunglasses to his grave, and perhaps he did with these, too.
But we have a strong suspicion they are the Rodenstock Bristol: a distinctive navigator style frame with a tightly-spaced double bridge, ful-vue mounted temples (i.e. mounted high vs. center mount), and tapered frame bottoms.
Did we sell you? It turns out that Allyn Scura — the official eyewear provider to Magnificent Bastard — has one pair left. $85. Email them if you're interested.
While you're at it, make an MB Bold Play and pick up a pair of the Rodenstock Roccos, the most famed Rodenstock frame. If you don't think you can pull these off as eyewear, try them as sunglasses.
Finally, we've had a bunch of people asking about the Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Contest, and it's living up to its official name as the Kind-Of-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear contest, as we've been busy cutting timber. We'll be back in February 2022 with our most challenging Challenge yet!
4. Pro Mark 9-Layer Apron Chaps. When you're 30 miles from the nearest hospital, the last thing you need is to rip open your femoral artery. These chaps' 9 layers of cut-retardant material can prevent that, have a handy front pocket, and add an additional layer of warmth.
5. Wells Lamont Winter Weather Work Gloves. We've been through a bunch of winter work gloves and these are the warmest, most rugged we've found. 4.5/5 at Amazon with over 1000 reviews. Runs about 2 sizes small (that's the reason for most of the negative reviews). Made in Ethiopia!
6. Carolina Steel Toe Work Boots (Model CA7503). Red Wing gets all the glory, but for actual work Carolina is better. Great for all sorts of labor beyond lumberjacking, especially when your toes are at risk from being crushed or cut off. Made in USA (and they never let you forget it). Carolina runs one size small.
7. Stihl MS 261 C-M. If there is a single piece of advice you take away from this site — besides, say, proper sleeve-rolling technique — it's this: never, ever buy any hardware or tools or machinery labeled "homeowner." Or even "farm & ranch." Always buy pro gear. It's more but always less expensive. This Stihl saw is light and powerful and could last your lifetime.
Longtime readers will note that we've often argued against legible clothing and for organic materials since our founding in 2007, but we're confessing to breaking both rules when it comes to these hats. (And after all, they're officially accessories.) Why? It's simple: They look so fucking groovy. Here are four we have worn during Zoom calls this winter:
Q: As a young activist/Marxist revolutionary in the Philippines, what's the best way to look good on the streets while still ready to take down an oppressive government?
A: We suspect even a hint of New People's Army garb — a Mao cap with a red star, or green shirt — will get you jailed, or worse.
Our first thought was an updated Mao suit jacket — something like this — that Duterte's goons wouldn't pick up on, but would wink to the intellectual class that you're on the same team, and allow you to literally wear on your sleeve the Four Virtues its four pockets represent: propriety, justice, honesty, and a sense of shame.
But that thought didn't last long, once we remembered the Philippines is tropical. While we fully support your cause, if uniting the workers of the world means having to wear a buttoned-up wool suit jacket in 75°F dew points, we're out, and cannot recommend it for you.
Here's what we came up with instead, along with our rationale:
The shirt is climate-appropriate, foremost, with faint echoes of the Mao suit's utilitarianism and militarism. The shorts support the top, sharing the same elastane content and slim cut. And the shoes, while maybe not strictly proletarian, is an application of our high-low approach to outfits (and more importantly, they're comfortable on the streets). Finally, everything is black, which not only fulfills on the Maoist monochromatism maxim, is also practical when trying to slip out, undetected, to the nearest NPA camp.
Be smart, James. Stay safe. We wish you the best of luck.
After unboxing these tonight, we're ashamed to even admit we've previously used aluminum poles.
Handmade by a small shop in Steamboat Springs, they almost entirely fulfill on the MB "organic materials" principle, not just with the 'boo of course, but also the rubber grips. And they're covered with a marine-grade coating that looks rugged enough to withstand a yard sale at the annual Big Sky Pond Skim.
There's only one incongruous detail keeping these out of our HOF: the recycled polyester straps. But to MB-mod these all you need is a Phillips screwdriver, boxcutter, hole punch, and your favorite 5oz. leather. We used some brown Horween Chromexcel scraps leftover from our wallet production that turned out great.
Due to Covid-related supply delays they are 2 weeks out. So plan ahead and be ready for the first big dump.
Tip: Allyn Scura has a cache of Ray-Ban "Caravan" frames in both cable and standard temples in a variety of sizes. They’re so bad assed that they'll make anyone look like a tin-pot dictator. I bought 5 pairs. I suspect that should last the rest of my life. —Ben
Thanks for the tip. A few thoughts:
1. We fully endorse binge-buying and hoarding lifetime supplies of great gear. You never know when something you love is discontinued, permanently out of stock, or the company that makes it goes brown. And if you die before your inventory runs out, you'll leave your progeny something of value beyond great genes: tons of cool shit that will serve as mementos ... or as inventory for a killer eBay store.
2. While you may have dented Allyn Scura's Ray-Ban Caravan inventory, we're told there is still a cache of all the other Ray-Ban styles on their site. According to AS — eyewear supplier to the Fargo and Elvis productions — vintage Ray-Bans are making a comeback, as well as vintage Carrera, and Faosa.
3. We're not sure Caravans are the right frame for the tin-pot dictator look. All we could think of was Manual Noriega, and we're not sure they're Caravans. Tin-pot dictators tend to gravitate towards more bold, slightly more angular frames:
Q: What do you think about Vuarnet sunglasses? Back in the day I skied with a pair of 002 Cateyes and no helmet. I've noticed they're on the scene again, but the rest of the Vuarnet collection is kicking off a Thermonuclear Toolbag Oakley vibe. Think pairing a tortoise shell Vuarnet 02 with Alps and Meters Alpine Winter Trousers and Anorak. Do you sanction the re-released 02? —Dan
These genuine vintage frames satisfy the MB principle of archaism, and will also save you 110 bucks. You'll need it if you decide to get into that Alps and Meters gear.
Thanks a lot for the tip on A&M, BTW. While the anorak ($695) is not up our alley for skiing — a hood/helmet combo has never worked for us — those alpine winter trousers ($725) look fantastic. Wool-blend herringbone with leather leg paneling are a great way to stand apart from the nylon and polyester-clad hoi polloi.
The result? Gaping holes has been blown open in our once-deep roster of $11 New Look and ASOS polos.
Two events to the rescue:
1. J. Crew's Bankruptcy
When J. Crew announced their bankruptcy in early May it sounded like they planned on keeping some stores open. Now it feels like EVERYTHING MUST GO.
Unfortunately even at 60 or 70% off, there's not much worth buying at the flagship, which perhaps explains their predicament. But at J. Crew Factory we've been watching the price of their excellent washed jersey polo go from $12.95 to $11.80 to $11.50 in just the last 3 days. By the time you read this they could be 10 bucks. It's ASOS price territory and these are better. Fits true to size.
2. Lacoste's Summer Sale
A Lacoste polo is going to run you $89.50. That's justthe price. That is until Lacoste has a summer sale and marks their iconic shirts down 30%. At $61.99 it's less than most eBay counterfeit versions from Hong Kong. As you likely know if you're reading this, fits one size small.
Since we reviewed seven custom shirtmakers a decade ago, a bunch of others have offered free shirts for an evaluation, and because it takes us getting up from the sofa, we've always said no.
But when Apposta asked us to have a look we changed our tune, primarily because their shirts are made in Italy. Where possible, this is where MBs want their clothing (and shoes) to be made. It's a default setting like getting forged blades from Japan, Scotch from Islay, or pump-action shotguns from here in America.
The shirtmakers we originally reviewed all outsourced their manufacturing to Thailand, Hong Kong, Honduras, China, and Vietnam. Proper Cloth, now one of the most popular online shirtmakers, has their shirts made in Malaysia. We're not saying some great shirts cannot be made in these places — especially Hong Kong — but we are saying that shirts made in Italy are likely just going to be better.
This was the case with the Apposta shirt. Probably because the fabric came from an Italian mill, the buttons were Australian mother of pearl, and the stitching and fit are both just very ... Italiany. While Apposta doesn't offer our preferred sewn collar, they do have an option of a "soft" collar that approximates unfused, to allow for maximum sprezzatura (that's Italian for artful dishevelment).
To top it off — and recalled the memorable touches of ordering from a well-known Italian fashion house — is the shipment came with an ear-loop mask made from the shirt fabric. Magnifico! Just don't pair with the shirt (too strong of a Garanimals vibe), or put it on while trying to buy a pump-action shotgun from a West Palm Beach gun shop (at least without an appointment).
Q: Greetings from Helsinki, Finland, and congratulations to you and the American people for the successful Nasa/Space X Beta-2 mission. It was an impressive show. It's a shame that the outfits were such a distraction. ISS commander Cassidy in cargo shorts and white socks. Your take? —JF
Yes, even in 2001: A Space Odyssey — Stanley Kubrick's disturbing vision of space travel — he never imagined anything as dark as astronauts in knee-length cargo shorts.
Getting into minimalist casual golfing lately. Find myself loving the game even more. Been using Driver, Hybrid, 5 iron, 8 iron, 50, 56, 60, and putter. What’s your set looking like these days? — Jack
A: Jack, depending on the size of your bag, with only 8 clubs they could each follow CDC social distancing guidelines. Very responsible!
Glad you're loving the game more than ever, but without a 3-iron how do you punch out from the woods? Or keep something beneath branches? We'd be lost without it.
Anyhow, to answer your question, here's what's in the bag, with occasional tasting notes:
Driver: Cleveland Classic 8.5°
Before Cleveland temporarily stopped making drivers in 2014, their masterpiece was the Cleveland Classic, the closest titanium has ever come to persimmon. You can still track this down on eBay.
3-wood: Titleist 906F2 15°
3-PW: Mizuno MP-18
We're Mizuno forged blade connoisseurs and this is the best set they've ever created. Almost too beautiful to actually use. Now that they're onto the not-as-good MP-20s, you can find them for ~$600.
52, 56, 60: Titleist Vokey Spin Milled
Putter: Ping Anser 3
Every year a bunch of goofy putters appear on the market, get Golf Digest gold listed, and disappear about as fast. We just stick with an icon, understanding that there is no $300 fix for pulls, pushes, the yips, and leaving anything low.
We've binged McMillions, Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 10), Wild Wild Country, Lorena, Chernobyl, Ozark (Season 3), How To Fix a Drug Scandal, and the 2010 Green Bay Packer season.
But these were mere sprints. We've embarked on a marathon: the complete Bob Ross oeuvre. 31 seasons. 13 episodes each. By our math that works out to roughly 200 hours of happy clouds, friendly trees, and mistakes happy accidents.
One thing we were not expecting to see: Bob Ross in designer jeans. Season 4, Episode 6, at 20:29. Warm Summer Day.
Just to show you how much coronavirus has upended the universe, we're hoping the 150,000 masks that Brooks Brothers is planning to produce on a daily basis are all their synthetic narrowly-tailored Soho Fit. In the midst of a pandemic (but only in the midst of a pandemic), artful dishevelment must take a backseat to epidemiology.
Now that the traditional handshake is on hold and the elbow bump is in (except for the most aggressively ignorant buffoons), here's how we suggest you do it:
Make it firm. — We're not talking the force of an NFL forearm bash or that of roided-up '90s MLB power hitters, but pressure should be applied. A mere elbow tap is the handshake equivalent of a wet dishrag.
Eyes. Always the eyes. — Once your elbows have embraced, look the other person directly in the eye. If he reciprocates, you know you've found a man you can do business with. If not, he's probably a crook.
We've been admiring (and desiring) Rhude since we first laid eyes on their Traxedo Pant, but at price tag exceeding the per-capita income of most of sub-Saharan Africa, haven't been able to pull the trigger.
Rhude's collaboration with Puma made access to a touch of their style available at a fraction of the price, so we tried out the XTG Track Top and can endorse it (especially now that it's marked down to $79).
While the 59-41 fabric composition does challenge our organic materials principle, in the track jacket genre this is in the organic top 1%. And the blend serves a purpose: the poly keeps it from fading to charcoal gray, and the cotton mutes the shine so you don't look like a player at The Villages. Fits true to size.
We took a year off, but we're back with the 9th Kind-of-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge, sponsored by our all-time favorite eyewear and sunglass outfitter, Allyn Scura.
THE CHALLENGE: Identify the nine bespectacled or sunglassified MBs above and you will be entered to win a pair of Allyn Scura frames ($175 value) or a $125 credit you can apply toward any vintage frames Allyn Scura carries. It's up to you. And same as two years ago, we're adding a couple of MB sweeteners. The runner up gets a Magnificent Bastard tie of his/her choice and 3rd place gets a Secret Agent Belt.
To enter simply fill out the form located here with the names of the men pictured, and, in the event of a tie, what they all have in common. One entry per person. USA only. Good luck. The deadline for this contest is Friday, March 13 at midnight CST.
Q: Say you're wearing black shoes, blue jeans, and a white (or similarly neutral) button-up shirt. What belt are you wearing? Is it black? Does it have to be? —West
A: West, please refer to our super-scientific black shoe dressiness and belt blackness chart.
If you're at Point A, with something heeled and hard-soled that needs polishing, belt blackness requirements are high. (Also at Point A, with the outfit you described, you are in the Blazer Zone. See our blazer channel for tons of tips.)
As you move down the y-axis into sneakerized dress shoes (Point B), belt blackness drops precipitously. If we were wearing the Prada Spazzolato Leather Penny Loafers shown above, we'd feel completely comfortable in our 300-Year Sterling Silver High Plains Noir belt, which is MB longhand for "very dark brown."
Finally, further down the scale into sneakers (Point C), the belt blackness spec is loosened almost completely, sort of like traveling in the NBA. Here we'd be in a sport belt (like our own SAB) and, yes, even brown.
Next time you put on black shoes, apply the chart, and let us know what you think.
We've had one at the MB office even before we launched this site in 2007, and nothing has sparked as much joy, curiosity, conversation, and flat-out wonder, as the Geochron.
Also, at a glance you can see what time it is in Kuala Lumpur and whether the sun is above or below the horizon.
They start at around 2 grand, and while that's the equivalent of ~23 pairs of fur-lined gloves (at current sale pricing), the Geochron is the rarest of things: an electronic heirloom that will make your descendants happy, keep time for them, and accurately display global sunrise and sunset in real time as long as Earth's axis remains tilted at 23.5°.
Through December 19th they're 15% off with the code HOLIDAY15.
Q: Just found myself in possession of a 10 year old 911 convertible. The problem: lots of sun exposure, even here in northern CA. So I need a hat. No point in having a car like this and dying of skin cancer. So what do you think? The straw fedora seems dated, and with no small douche factor. Ball caps seem too casual. Sombreros have great coverage, but... cowboy hat? —Chris
But we recommend against wearing a hat. Thomas Magnum P.I.'d at 21° N — compared to your less UV-intense NorCal ~36° N — and he rarely donned the Tigers cap behind the wheel of Robin Masters' 308 GTS. Why? We believe it's because he (and Rick) knew: there is no better hair stylist on earth than Mother Nature.
What you need instead is some good face protection. For jaunts you'll be fine with our previously-endorsed Verso #2 Day Cream. Fantastic stuff. Need to make a run for the border? Quick, throw a sombrero in the trunk and put on some Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Face Liquid. Unscented, non-staining, 50 SPF. We agree with the reviewer who says it's the "Holy Grail of sunscreen."
Thanks for the question, and enjoy the many good hair days that lie ahead.
Q: I just bought tickets to The Nutcracker for December 6th in Minneapolis. What would a Magnificent Bastard wear to a ballet? I have a new grey cashmere turtleneck by 8, I want to wear if possible. —David
A: David, glad to hear you're into an 8 cashmere turtleneck. 6 years after our original recommendation, we still have a strong buy rating on this item, and it's definitely on the ballot for the forthcoming MB HOF.
To complete the outfit, consider:
1. PANTS: Makers & Riders Travelers Jean in Coal. $89. A few weeks ago we said we'd try these and we're glad we did. They're not just stretchy (6% spandex) but also remarkably flexible: we cannot think of an activity or event where they wouldn't feel right, including The Nutcracker. Owner Chris Ontiveros is closing down Makers & Riders so get these before he shutters, or we sell him out. (Seriously, we're buying enough of these to last 50 years.) Use the code MR15 for 15% off. NB: These are vanity-sized by a full 2 inches.
2. BLAZER: 8 by YOOX in Glen Plaid. $179.
8 provides such great value there was panic last year when YOOX pulled all things 8 from their site. But just a few months later the brand was reincarnated as "8 by YOOX" — finally owning up to its corporate ownership — and it's better than ever. Their blazers are fantastic and check all the boxes: a modern fit, meaty lapels, and functioning buttonholes. This Glen plaid version is just $179. NB: Unlike everything else 8, the blazers run small. Order one size up, and if you're between, two.
3. SHOES: Pantofola d'Oro Brown Wing-Tips. $185.
Longtime readers know we've been fully sneakerized. But we respect those who are still dipping their toes into it, which is why we're suggesting these wing-tipped training wheels. NB: In the Italian style, PdO runs one size small.
4. FLASK: Wentworth Pewter 6 oz. Flask. ~$68.09.
Our live events involve lots of tequila shots, vodka Red Bulls, and overly-aggressive pat-downs. We're betting The Orpheum has none of those, and you may need help getting through the 2nd act. Will fit inconspicuously into the blazer's inside pocket; plus, Anglophilia.