During last week's Q&A, I got the interesting question "What drink goes best with each of your EDH decks?" The question is awesome enough that it requires a complete answer. To delve into that answer, we have to think either about the theme of the deck or the commander. What would Ruhan drink? What do we enjoy while raining fire from the sky? Inquiring minds want to know. So you know, this piece is light on strategy, high on flavor. Just remember that when it comes to alcohol, please drink legally and responsibly.
My first thought on Adun was since that he's got an Oakenshield, I might want to pick a big, tannic, heavily-oaked California Cab. Adun is more of a little bit of everything guy, so his drink is one that's a little bit of everything: Long Island Iced Tea. He takes multiple disparate elements and makes them into a cohesive whole.
Animar is a deck about creatures-animals, if you will. If we're going to go after a wine with an animal in its name, we have to go with the finest: Cheval Blanc (French for white horse). It's the wine that Paul Giamatti dreams about in the movie Sideways. Animar is all about cost reduction, and for Cheval Blanc, that will help a great deal. A single bottle of a current vintage will run you right around $1000-and it won't be worth drinking for another decade. One coming into its own right now, like the 2000 vintage (which is maybe still a little young), is actually slightly cheaper at just over $800. The 1961 that Giamatti drinks in the film will set you back a cool $9,950. Animar better get to work.
Aurelia is a hard-tested, battle-scarred veteran of many, many glorious battles in the tradition of our Nordic heroes. The only reasonable drink for her is either Brennivin or Akvavit. You have to drink this in a particular fashion with your Aurelia deck: a few shots pre-game to steel you for the battle ahead and then in massive quantities after the battle, both to celebrate your victories and Honor the Fallen.
My Child of Alara deck is all about destruction. Nothing will destroy you faster and more thoroughly than Tequila. I know there are many forms of it and ways to consume it. A nice margarita is fine, but I think that the highly quality stuff chilled (but not quite to the point of freezing) is the right answer.
Kaalia is a cleric, and clerics make the best beers. I would turn to the Belgians here. Hoegaarden Verboden Vrucht has long been a personal favorite and goes right along with the theme. Unibroue's La Fin du Monde and Maudite are also deliciously theme-fitting. It's the end of the world as we know, and Kaalia will help us feel fine.
With the mono-colored decks, the drink choice is all about the color. The choice here could easily be Sambuca Black, but I'm going to go with the deepest, darkest, blackest wine I've ever had: Marques de Grinon Petit Verdot. I'm only being partially hyperbolic when I tell you that I when I held it up to get a good look at the color, light was not penetrating through the glass. It's a wine with a huge structure and giant backbone, so be careful (and definitely brush your teeth after or you'll be smiling purple).
Glissa is a workman-like deck, so I would choose a workman-like drink. I don't think I'd go full stevedore with boilermakers, but I'd head toward some all-American bourbon, like a nice Wild Turkey 101 (which despite the higher alcohol, has richer flavor than the 80 proof). For years, we drank it with ginger ale and a wedge of lime, but a few years ago we discovered pairing it instead with ginger beer, which is somewhat less sweet and has a bit more body.
Sticking with the theme of colored drinks with mono-colored commanders, Heliod gets either a simple Bailey's Irish Cream on the rocks or something a little more complex like a White Russian. If you really want to chill out in Nyx with something icy, a frozen mudslide would do the trick, although it seems like we're getting away from the color requirement.
My Intet deck is quite sophisticated and elegant, although it still packs a punch. Nothing fits all those elements together like a racy California Pinot Noir. Given that the deck has in it hard-to-obtain foils like Jace, the Mind Sculptor (thanks Toby!) and Gaea's Cradle (thanks Scott Marshall!), we will go with a wine that is similarly hard to get (although you can have nearly a case of it for the cost of either of those cards), Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley. I've made the analogy before that most California Pinots are like picking up two naughty flight attendants at the airport bar. Kosta Browne is like stealing a kiss from the prom queen.
Purphoros needs fire to work. My first thought was simply to make fireball shooters: cinnamon schnapps with a drop of Tabasco sauce, but those are pretty sweet-and the God of the Forge isn't about sweet. R Stuart Winery makes some excellent wines at affordable prices, especially their Big Fire line-and Purphoros is all about that Big Fire.
Karn doesn't particularly like combat or aggression. I imagine him as a tea drinker. Nonetheless, Karn is big and bold, so it has to be a big, bold tea, like we get from Adagio. I'm particularly fond of the flinty, smoky flavors of Lapsang Souchong, or the darkness of their English Breakfast-which has the benefit of having its own deck named after it. You can check out Jonathan Andrews' article about it on this here very site.
My Karador deck is easily one of my favorites, so I would have to drink a favorite wine with it. With wine, unless you have way more money than I do, you tend to have favorites at different price points. There are many wines we drink more bottles of because they're $20-25 as opposed to $50 or more. That said, I take out Karador infrequently enough that it can pair with one of the more expensive ones. Since Karador is dark and moody, a sufficiently dark and moody wine goes with it-in this case, Martinelli Winery Zinfandel Vellutini Ranch, which was planted a few decades ago with clippings from the legendary Jackass Vineyard. It took us a few years of being on the mailing list to even get a bottle of the Jackass Vineyard-and we got one. A few years ago, we got upgraded to three; this past year, we hit platinum level and got six. The vineyard got its name because it's on something like a 60 degree slope, and the other local vintners told owner Lee Martinelli he is a jackass for trying to cultivate it (see what I did there? Buy foil Cultivates!). Anyway, the Velluntini Ranch is right down the hill from the Jackass Vineyard. It's powerful, striking wine, true to its clone parent (ooh, maybe I should have saved this one for a deck that's full of Clones) at a non-crazy price.
The best winemakers in America happen to be women. One of them, Helen Turley, is a winemaker that I'd simply drink anything from, regardless of the price point (others include Mia Klein and Patricia Green). Here's where this gets cool. Turley has a Dragon Vineyard, on the high peaks of Howell Mountain. Where else would a Dragon be? When raining fire from the sky with Karrthus, I would drink anything that Turley makes, which contains its Dragon Vineyard fruit.
To go with the commander who is constantly battling, you want an aggressive drink. For Kresh, that is a Manhattan. You could go classic, but we make them slightly differently. First, we make our own maraschino cherries. Then we soak some of them in Amaretto di Saronno for a month or so. That cherry-soaked juice becomes the replacement for the vermouth. In a cocktail shaker, add three parts (or four if you're feeling particularly saucy) high quality bourbon-like Wild Turkey Rare Breed-to one part juice and two dashes of orange bitters. Shake and strain into a martini glass and garnish with one of the aforementioned cherries. Then attack.
I'm not sure why the Azorius colors of blue and white make me think of cold and crisp (I supposed it's the Tundra), but that's immediately where my mind goes. For cold and crisp, nothing beats a great southern hemisphere Sauvignon Blanc. Don't get me wrong: I also love the American and French Sauvignon Blancs (the best French being from Sancerre and our favorite American from Merry Edwards), but they're a little more elegant. Below the equator, you get this great explosion of grapefruit and lemon grass-a bracing acidity that really gets your palette going for the evening. We prefer one from New Zealand, called Mulderbosch. It's slightly pricier than others, but we think it's worth it. Right around $10 a bottle you can get a really good one from Oyster Bay, demonstrating that you don't have to break the bank for a good bottle of wine.
I see Lazav sitting back in his Dimir palace throne room, a smug sense of satisfaction playing out across his face-drinking something sparkling. Lazav can go with nearly anything, as does Champagne and other sparkling wine. Like with other wines, good Champagne can get expensive. Our favorite, Ruinart, runs $70-90 a bottle, so we only have it once or twice a year. Fortunately, there are options. There is an excellent American sparkler fromSchramsberg at less than $35-but that's not the bargain winner. That honor goes to Graham Beck, who produces both a Blanc de Blancs and a Rose at less than $20. A while back, we held a blind tasting of rose sparklers from various price points (we double-blinded it so that neither of us knew which wine was wine), and the Graham Beck won quite handily.
What do you drink with Zombies? Something with great earthiness (you know, since the Zombies burst forth from the ground and all). Nothing says earthy like a classic Bordeaux, with its aromas of loam and the barnyard. I'd like to be able to afford drinking lots of my favorite Bordeaux, Chateau Lynch-Bages, but that's not happening. Fortunately, there are also great affordable Bordeaux, like from Clerc Milon. Interestingly enough, Clerc Milon and Lynch-Bages were classified at the same level (one of the eighteen Cinqui emes Crus or Fifth Growths) back in 1855. While Lynch-Bages may have raced ahead in quality, Clerc Milon can be had at about a third of the price.
The molten mind grind is all about the fire and ice (and after saying that, I'll put a Sword of Fire and Ice in the deck). For my fire and ice, I'll take aclassic Bloody Mary kicked up a notch with Absolut Peppar vodka. Alongside the horseradish, I like to add a tiny dollop of my homemade habanero jelly. Trust me, it'll wake you up.
The Merieke deck is a slow grind, what Magic players like to call incremental advantage. The drink that goes along with it has to be taken in similarly slowly. For this, it's Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year, as fine a sippin' bourbon as most of us will ever be able to drink. Pappy is highly sought-after and difficult to find, so as a suitable replacement, try some Blanton's, although we tend to use that more often in mint juleps (see The Mill-Meoplasm, next).
The green element of The Mimeoplasm is the mint. The darkness is good bourbon. The sweetness of the simple syrup is the trickiness of blue. Crushed ice and no soda water (yeah, I've seen places do that). And it will mill you out. Check out my entry on our food and wine blog on our versions of the drink.
Obviously another mint julep, amirite?
For a value deck, we have to have a value drink. I'm pretty sure that Graham Beck I mention above is the best bargain stuff we drink, although there's a case to be made for d'Arenberg's Stump Jump, maybe the best $10 wine ever.
When you're mono-green, there's nothing like Absinthe. Just be super-careful with it unless you want to lose your ever-loving mind.
I was hoping to not repeat drinks, but the White Russian, especially with the cream floated on top instead of mixed in, is the drink for the black-and-white deck.
For my iconic deck, I'd want an iconic drink-but I don't think I have one. Sure, I love wine, but there is so much of it in so many different flavor profiles, there's no picking a single one with which I'd strongly identify myself. We're going to have to choose one, however, so I'm going with a wine which represents how I think wine is best: small production in the hands of masters. For this, it's Bressler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Bressler's wine could fetch cult wine (like Screaming Eagle) prices, but is still less than $100/bottle. They make 400 cases year, and it's only available on the mailing list. Our allocation is only twelve bottles. When you see me in person, ask me about our memorable dinner with Bob and Stacey Bressler at Bern's Steak House (and how we drank nothing younger than the youngest person at the table).
This Prime Speaker Zegana deck requires lots of counters, which means your motor skills have to stay sharp. A light and refreshing low-alcohol drink is the classic Pimm's Cup, perfect for chilling on a summer afternoon. It's the way to have something tasty and still be able to draw cards.
The Rith deck features Soldiers, so I asked myself 'what do soldiers' drink? The answer is 'depends what kind of soldiers they are.' When I start thinking about soldiers, I think of the best Shakespeare play you've never heard of: Coriolanus. There is a spectacular modern production of it starring Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler, which puts me in mind of the UK. Although I know it's Irish, I immediately think of Guinness Stout. That's a long way around to get to the dark and creamy deliciousness of Guinness, but that's where we are. Definitely check out the film and enjoy a pint with it.
Probably should have saved tequila for doing it to yourself. Back when I interviewedRuhan just over three years ago, he seemed like more of a classic Cosmo kind of guy. As you might suspect, we like to make ours a little differently. We ganked the recipe from a local seafood chain called Bonefish. It's called a Winter White. It's a mixture of white cranberry juice and Stoli cranberry vodka. To make it Ruhan red, white, and blue, I'd swap out two of the cranberries for two blueberries. Sit back and wait for someone to do something crazy.
There is actually a Tyler Durden drink. It looks pretty nasty. Like Animar, Ruhan is all about the beasts. He doesn't have the blue, which I equate with class, so we'll cut down to something aggressive without the same amount of elegance. We'll go back to Martinelli with their "original" Zinfandel, the Giuseppe & Luisa, named after the winery's founders. At upwards of 16.5% alcohol, it will get you into the red zone pretty quickly. While not quite as silky as the Vellutini Ranch, it's still smooth enough that you're not quite aware of the alcohol content.
We don't really drink anything that's just blue. Thassa is about the fish, and there's nothing better with fish in the name than Dogfish Head craft-brewed ales. I go back and forth on whether the 60 or 90 minute IPA is my favorite, but I'll drink anything they make. A newer product they make is the 61: which is the 60 with one additional ingredient: syrah grape must. Outstanding stuff.
I know that Thraximundar is an Assassin, but to me he's more of a Rogue. That, and the fact that he creates lots of dead creatures, leads me to the Rogue Dead Guy ale, probably my favorite beer, made in the German Maibock style. I poured it once to go with a habanero-roasted pork shoulder and it was something to behold.
Makers of great wines at excellent prices (their Old Vine Red is one of the best bargain wines you'll drink), Marietta Cellars has an Angeli Cuvee, which goes right along with the tribal Angel theme of the deck. Big, bold, rich, and lush, it's an absolute bargain at right around $25-kind of like casting Karmic Guide with cool stuff in the graveyard.
Quickly becoming one of my favorite decks, Yasova is a deck which requires some additional thought to play, so I would pair it with the thinkiest of all grapes: Oregon Pinot Noir. Not quite as expressive with the fruit as California Pinot, not so terroir-driven as Burgundy, Oregon Pinot is a great middle ground. It's not the kind of wine you just drink and go "oh, that's good." You have to take a sip, hold it, and then you'll realize how much is actually going on. Our favorite Oregon Pinot producer is Soter Vineyards, although there is no end to great winemakers in the Willamette Valley.
Thanks again to Swarm in the forums for the outstanding question, which was a great deal of fun to answer. Again, if you choose to drink, please do so legally and responsibly.
ADUN'S TOOLBOX ; ANIMAR'S SWARM;AURELIA GOES TO WAR;CHILDREN of a LESSER GOD;DEMONS OF KAALIA;EREBOS and the HALLS OF THE DEAD;GLISSA, GLISSA;HELIOD, GOD OF ENCHANTMENTS;DREAMING OF INTET;FORGE OF PURPHOROS;KARN, BEATDOWN GOLEM;HALLOWEEN WITH KARADOR;KARRTHUS, WHO RAINS FIRE FROM THE SKY;KRESH INTO THE RED ZONE;LAVINIA BLINKS;LAZAV, SHAPESHIFTING MASTERMIND;ZOMBIES OF TRESSERHORN;MELEK'S MOLTEN MIND GRIND;MERIEKE'S ESPER CONTROL;THE MILL-MEOPLASM;MIMEOPLASM DO-OVER;NATH of the VALUE LEAF;NYLEA OF THE WOODLAND REALM,OBZEDAT, GHOST KILLER;PURPLE HIPPOS and MARO SORCERERS;ZEGANA and a DICE BAG;RITH'S TOKENS;YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF;RURIC THAR AND HIS BEASTLY FIGHT CLUB;THASSA, GOD OF MERFOLK;THE ALTAR of THRAXIMUNDAR;TROSTANI and HER ANGELS;THE THREAT OF YASOVA;RUHAN DO-OVER;KARADOR DO-OVER ; KARRTHUS DO-OVER
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