From Playboy Mansion to Pebble Beach
February 22, 2011
Within the first few minutes I met him, Playboy spirits columnist Dan Dunn introduced me to some of the best domestic Bordeaux in all of 2009 Pebble Beach Food & Wine, the story behind it and then the winemaker himself. He unspooled some entertaining yarns over the ensuing lunch too—the guy’s a natural storyteller, and has pretty much figured out how to game the system into letting him soak his liver like a bar rag, everywhere from Ireland to Dominican Republic, and get paid for it.
His latest catalog of stories only further mints that gift.
Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour ($14.99) has just dropped, riding high on endorsements from the Most Interesting Man in the World (“Dear friend Danny Dunn knows what he’s talking about. He’s been drunk since fourth grade.”) and Time columnist Joel Stein (“Reading [it] was as close to living the life I secretly want to live as I’ll ever get. I hope my wife doesn’t read this blurb. Or this book”).
Though he sets up shop in L.A.—where Dunn also co-owns a popular barbecue joint—the local area figures prominently in 263-pager. One chapter tracks his misadventures at the PBF&W where I met him.
“Five holes in and I’m starting to hit my stride,” he writes of the celeb chef golf tourney that kicks the event off on Thursday. “Unfortunately for the rest of the team, my stride looks a lot like Mel Gibson during a roadside sobriety test.”
On his way in: “While I’m driving in on Highway 68 near Spreckels in Monterey County, my iPod shuffles from Winger’s ‘Seventeen’ to Mozart’s ‘Symphony No. 40,’ which is the road-trip equivalent of a groin pull. Also, Spreckels? What the hell is that? I'd say it's a pet's name at best. But a farming community where hardworking folks live, pay taxes, and drive pickup trucks? These people should be allowed to live somewhere that doesn't sound like a skin condition.”
He even opens the section on “Hangovers and How to Beat Them” by quoting John Steinbeck: “I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard or long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.”
There are also stainless steel tips on “how to kill at wine tastings.” (“1) Know your go-to modifiers...complex, balanced, layered, intense and well-rounded.”) Or “how to master the barroom conversation” (“2. The Alter Ego...3. The Say What?”)
Each chapter of his book—including “Drink Like a F**king Man, Man,” “Dude, Where’s My Celebrity Teammate” and “The Most Delicious Women and Dessert Wines I’ve Ever Had Have One Thing in Common”—is paired with a signature cocktail by one of the great mixologists he’s encountered along his career.
Here are three, with tasty commentary from the craftsmen behind them:
2 oz. Oxley gin 1/2 oz. Amaro Nonino 1/2 oz. Aperol 1 dash Jerry Thomas Bitter Truth Grapefruit peels
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass over ice and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled rocks glass over two ice cubes. Release the essential oil of two grapefruit peels on top of the glass.
“Immerse yourself in a hot tub with this book and relax, because there is nothing better after a day spent riding your motorcycle than a hot tub, a cool cocktail, and a great read…unless you can substitute a woman for any of the above. Once you finish the first drink, be sure to have a second one …then stay off the motorcycle for the rest of the evening and let Dan’s book take you on a wild ride instead.”
—Vincenzo Marianella digs motorcycles. In 2006 he was named Best Bar Chef by StarChefs.com and L.A.’s Best Bartender by esteemed critic Anthony Dias Blue. He hasn’t done jack- squat since. (Kidding!) In addition to owning and operating a beverage consulting business, MyMixology.com, Vincenzo runs Copa d’Oro in Santa Monica, one of California’s finest drinking establishments.
“Lowballing” Created by Dale Degroff 1 oz. Alize Red Passion 1 oz. cognac 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice or Dole unsweetened pineapple juice 1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients well with ice and strain into a rocks or lowball glass. A nice foam will result from a well- shaken drink, and that is garnish enough.
“First off, let me say that it’s a real pleasure to offer up a special drink that Dan Dunn and the readers of this deliciously twisted tome can call their own. “I’ve always thought Dan was a smart kid…could’ve been a bank president or chairman of a big insurance company if he were so inclined. But I think he made the right choice with drinking his way around the world, doing as much highballing and lowballing as he can along the way. Hell, it’s a lot more fun than finance anyway, and Dan has somehow managed to stay out of jail so far…which is more than I can say for a lot of guys on Wall Street. “So mix yourself a drink, find a cozy place to hunker down, and enjoy Living Loaded. Salud!”
—Dale Degroff, aka King Cocktail, is a James Beard Award–winning bartender (that’s a first, folks), founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, and the author of The Craft of the Cocktail and The Essential Cocktail.
“The Punch in the Mouth” Created by Jeffrey Morgenthaler 1 oz. bourbon 1/2 oz. Bacardi 8 1/2 oz. maple syrup 2 oz. half and half 2 dashes vanilla extract Cinnamon, to taste Nutmeg, to taste
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into an ice- filled Old Fashioned glass. Dust with cinnamon and nutmeg and sip in place of anything resembling a nutritious breakfast.
“Drinking in New Orleans requires the constitution of a warrior. You’re up until the wee hours, deep in the knowledge that you’ll be starting all over again before you’ve had more than a few hours to compose yourself. Drinking in New Orleans with Dan Dunn requires a little creativity, as he’s a hard- charging son of-a-bitch boozer with a bottomless expense account. In order to keep up with Mr. Dunn, whose appetite for trouble seemingly knows no bounds, I’ve found it essential to fortify my belly in the morning. So I came up with this seemingly innocuous libation based on the great- granddaddy of New Orleans breakfast beverages: the Brandy Milk Punch. Dan and I have spent many a morning in bars all over New Orleans sipping this one in lieu of, say, that case of beer by the pool with the nymphomaniac bikini models that he’s always promising. It’s probably for the best, anyway; everyone knows bikini models can’t hold their liquor . . . or, at least, Dan and I know it.”
—Jeffrey Morgenthaler, of JeffreyMorgenthaler.com, is a writer, philosopher, and overall great guy who manages the bar at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon. Jeffrey’s recipes and wisdom have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wine Enthusiast, Playboy, Wired, and Imbibe. In 2009, Playboy.com named him one of the top 10 mixologists in the United States.