Victorino Matus Articles

Fly Me to the Booze

1:30 PM, Jan 31, 2016
As mentioned previously, Brown-Forman is selling Southern Comfort to the Sazerac Company for $543.5 million. This ought to free up the Tennessee liquor giant to focus on its flagship brands, namely, Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniel’s. Indeed, last October Brown-Forman unveiled the limited release of Jack Daniel's: Sinatra Century, perhaps the most lavish bottle ever produced by the distillery. Timed for the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra's birthday (December 12), the 100-proof whiskey retailed for the ring-a-ding price of $379. Read more

Southern Comfort Is a Liqueur?

4:10 PM, Jan 27, 2016
In drinking news (the most important news, let’s face it), Brown-Forman is selling that American classic, Southern Comfort, to the Sazerac Company for $543.5 million (and throwing in Tuaca, an Italian liqueur, as part of the deal). For despite the increase in U.S. consumption of whiskey and bourbon, sales of SoCo have been in decline. Is this because we are looking for authentic whiskies and Southern Comfort isn't considered one? Because it's not—it is, in fact, a liqueur. Who knew? Read more

Weekend Drinks, Blizzard Edition: A Standard Guide to Getting Plowed

10:05 AM, Jan 23, 2016
The snow is snowing. The wind is blowing. But I can weather the storm. What do I care how much it may storm? I’ve got my drink to keep me warm. That's right—Snowpocalypse 2016 is officially upon us (at least for those of us in the mid-Atlantic), so what better time to offer these drink recipes that are guaranteed to reduce Cabin Fever. You did stock up with sufficient booze and mixers, didn't you? If not, you need to head to your nearest liquor store now. Like, don't even turn off the computer. Just go! Read more

Burrito Bomb

4:21 PM, Jan 20, 2016
I would’ve guessed with all the bad press surrounding Chipotle Mexican Grill, there would be no lines during the lunch hour. But that guess would be wrong. On a recent visit to my nearest Chipotle (on M Street), the line was practically out the door at 12:30 p.m. As it turns out, there are fans of the chain who are willing to take the risk. Read more

Quite Simply a Compelling Column!

Florence King on the art of the review
8:50 AM, Jan 11, 2016
If a normal person is asked whether he or she has read a certain book, the response can be a simple “yes" or "no." For a journalist (i.e., not a normal person), there's a wonderfully cynical rejoinder: "Read it? I haven't even reviewed it!" Also: "Well, I've read in it." I was reminded of this upon learning the writer Florence King had died last week. In a National Review column from 1999 ("The Misanthrope's Column," which she shared with my colleague Andrew Ferguson), King dispenses invaluable advice on how best to review a book. Read more

Ale-ing Empire?

9:28 AM, Jan 07, 2016

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more breweries for AB InBev to acquire, the beer giant is now going after rival SABMiller. So the company that already owns Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois, and Corona is now gunning for Miller, Coors, Peroni, and Blue Moon, to name a few. Needless to say, the move has gotten the attention of the Senate antitrust subcommittee. But is the merger simply a power play or a matter of survival?

The concern from members of Congress (especially those from states with a strong craft-brewing presence) is understandable. AB InBev currently sells 16 brands in 25 countries, generating revenue in 2014 of $47 billion. Six of the top 10 most valued brands belong to them.

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Pole Position

10:26 AM, Dec 31, 2015

I find the Review section of the Wall Street Journal to be must-reading. But I’m inevitably backed up because, well, who has the time? (The feeling is apparently not exclusive, considering the latest tagline for the paper is "People who don't have time make time to read the Wall Street Journal." The commercials, featuring various entrepreneurs, are slick and no doubt costly. But they're certainly better than those Time commercials from the 1980s, in which if you act now, you can get a free alarm clock telephone. Yes, the phone is actually connected to the radio! And remember that corny jingle? Time flies, and you are there. Time cries, and let's you share.

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Smirnoff's Vodka Gambit

4:25 PM, Dec 28, 2015
As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, Diageo brand Smirnoff is trying to reverse declining sales of its leading vodka by focusing on … music? Read more

Kitchen Redesign

Christopher Kimball is leaving Cook's Illustrated.
10:36 AM, Nov 18, 2015

The Boston Globe reports:

Christopher Kimball, the bow-tied cooking guru who started the popular Cook’s Illustrated magazine and created a foodie media empire, is leaving the Brookline company amid a management shake-up, raising questions about the future of a venture so closely tied to its star founder.

If the board members of the controlling company, Boston Common Press, know what's best for them, they won't change a thing.

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Food for Thought

11:11 AM, Nov 12, 2015

The recent E. coli outbreak that shut down 43 locations of the Chipotle chain in Washington state and Oregon reminds us of the downsides of organic. For in the push to rid our food of, among other things, preservatives, we tend to forget that the whole point of these additives was to, well, preserve. You feel great that your green onions are locally sourced, pesticide-free, and cultivated by growers paid a living wage, but are they washed as thoroughly as the tomatoes are at the neighboring farm or at (gasp!) a nonorganic facility?

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Lunch with Fred Thompson

4:04 PM, Nov 02, 2015

In January 2006, the actor and former senator Fred Thompson visited the offices of THE WEEKLY STANDARD to discuss the state of the Supreme Court, which was in the midst of filling a vacancy—Thompson had been providing advice to then-nominee Samuel Alito. It was an in-depth conversation about the direction of the Court, and Thompson, a lawyer who rose to prominence during the Watergate hearings, discussed both the historical and political implications of the current nomination process. But at some point during our editorial lunch, I couldn't resist asking if he'd mind talking about Hollywood. "Sure," he said with a grin, knowing it was inevitable.

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The Spirit of Washington

Mount Vernon makes a single malt.
2:00 PM, Oct 14, 2015

Think of Mount Vernon these days and the first images that come to mind are those class trips—kids feeding goats, running through a straw-bale maze, and going on wagon rides. The last thing you'd associate with the home of George Washington is whiskey (indeed, our first president preferred Madeira and port). And yet I found myself yesterday on the grounds of Washington's distillery, witnessing a three-year project come to fruition: the creation of a glorious single-malt whiskey. (Am I the only one excited about this?)

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I Want a New Drug

9:29 AM, Sep 30, 2015

Remember all the commotion surrounding the first commercials for Viagra? It wasn't just the content per se that had people talking—it was also the voiceover that casually warned you to "call your doctor right away if you experience a sudden decrease in vision or an erection lasting longer than four hours." But then the airwaves were flooded with ads for a vast array of pharmaceuticals like Zoloft, Lyrica, and Humira. We started tuning out the side effects warnings the way we do car dealership caveats (blah-blah-blah-APR financing-blah-blah). But a new ad for a sleep aid has caught people's attention—the potential side effects are riveting.

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Oak by Absolut

A vodka that tastes like bourbon—it was bound to happen.
9:29 AM, Sep 23, 2015

During my research for Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America, I met with the execs at Jim Beam who, besides selling fine bourbon, also sell Pinnacle Vodka, a brand known for its vast array of flavors: Cherry Whipped, Cookie Dough, Pumpkin Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, and Cinnabon, to name a few. Van Gogh Vodka makes a peanut butter and jelly variety while the brand Oddka offers Fresh Cut Grass, Wasabi, and even something called Electricity. But never had I come across a vodka trying to emulate another spirit. Until now.

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The Booze From Brazil

Cachaça—the other white spirit.
2:00 PM, Aug 31, 2015

One of the perks of covering the alcohol beat is the occasional complimentary sample that arrives by mail. It’s usually a medium-sized package containing, at most, a 750-ml. bottle. Often it’s smaller: A sample of the delicious Chopin wheat spirit Single was 375 ml. in size, Woody Creek vodka from Colorado measured a mere 100 ml., and Wild Turkey’s Master’s Keep came in a plastic flask (and good to the last drop). So when the interns showed up to my office carrying two enormous cardboard boxes, I was intrigued—as were the interns.

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The Booze From Brazil

Cachaça—the other white spirit.
7:00 AM, Aug 31, 2015

One of the perks of covering the alcohol beat is the occasional complimentary sample that arrives by mail. It’s usually a medium-sized package containing, at most, a 750-ml. bottle. Often it’s smaller: A sample of the delicious Chopin wheat spirit Single was 375 ml. in size, Woody Creek vodka from Colorado measured a mere 100 ml., and Wild Turkey’s Master’s Keep came in a plastic flask (and good to the last drop). So when the interns showed up to my office carrying two enormous cardboard boxes, I was intrigued—as were the interns.

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Jon Taffer for President

And free chicken wings all afternoon.
10:40 AM, Aug 26, 2015

Last weekend’s Defending the American Dream Summit in Columbus played host to five presidential candidates: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Marco Rubio. This part isn’t a surprise—the two-day event was organized by Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded political advocacy group that wields considerable power and influence. What was surprising was the most interesting speaker isn’t running for office. Rather, he’s mostly concerned about how someone runs a bar. His name is Jon Taffer, host of the popular series Bar Rescue on Spike.

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Hillary Clinton, Like You've Never Seen Her

2:01 PM, Aug 03, 2015

Based on her latest column, Maureen Dowd is not a fan of Hillary Clinton's campaign run. But how do the Times's readers feel? It's a guilty pleasure of mine (or a bad habit) to read comment sections in order to gauge the mood out there. At the New York Times, however, comments are broken into three sections—All, Readers' Picks, and NYT Picks. The All section is a rabbit hole. A subthread can go on for hundreds of comments, none of them addressing the column but rather a reader who mentioned Hubert Humphrey and Vietnam. So I skipped ahead to the ultrafiltered NYT Picks—letters, if you will, selected by the Times as noteworthy. Here's where it got interesting.

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A Fistful of Forints

Victorino Matus, big spender.
Jul 27, 2015

Have you ever had two dinners in one night? I did, more than 20 years ago, in Budapest. My buddy Todd and I had gone backpacking through Europe, hitting 11 cities in 30 days. As students, we were careful not to overspend, staying at pensions and hostels and crashing at my former host family’s house in Germany. By the time we reached Budapest, our last stop, we’d saved more money than we’d anticipated.

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Casual Podcast: A Fistful of Forints

12:05 PM, Jul 18, 2015

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with Victorino Matus reading his casual essay "A Fistful of Forints."

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Horrible Bosses

What children thought of adults 84 years ago.
3:30 PM, Jul 15, 2015

If you were to ask a group of grade schoolers their opinions on grown-ups, what would they say? In our age of participation awards and "good job," would the descriptives be more positive than negative? In a 1931 issue of Harper's Magazine, a schoolteacher asked her students, ages 7 to 11, that very question. And, for the most part, what they said wasn't too positive. They resented all the discipline, all the rules, and being bossed around. (The term "boss" comes up frequently.)

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Sick Leave: My Humbling Week at the Hospital

7:25 AM, Jun 24, 2015

It’s been said that the terminally ill can hear music just before slipping away. I’ve always imagined these souls listening to angels strumming their harps. I never thought it might be “Hey Jealousy” by the Gin Blossoms. But that’s what I heard as I lay in my hospital bed last month while battling a serious strep infection.

Not that some of the lyrics weren’t fitting:

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Rachel Discrimination

Dolezal defends herself.
11:15 AM, Jun 16, 2015

On the Today show, former Spokane NAACP head Rachel Dolezal explained how despite having two white parents, she identifies herself as an African American. She also mentioned her child's observation: "Mom, racially you’re human. Culturally, you’re black.” And according to her colleagues and fellow activists, Dolezal has a stellar record, professionally speaking. So why did she even bother to step down? Could it have something to do with those few minor embellishments? For instance, as mentioned in the Washington Post—in a lede buried in the 23rd paragraph:

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Talking Heads: Chinese Doctor Takes Transplants to a Whole New Level

3:02 PM, Jun 08, 2015

Xiaoping Ren means well. The doctor from Harbin Medical University in China has extensive experience in the realms of hand and face transplants. And he hopes his current research will lead to transplants that, according to the Wall Street Journal, "might one day be able to help human patients who have intact brains but broken bodies, such as people with spinal-cord injuries, cancer and muscle-wasting diseases." He's had some success with mice and may soon be moving up to monkeys. What Dr. Ren is working on, of course, is head transplants.

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Let Them Eat Kale

Here to stay or the pesto of our times?
8:21 AM, May 09, 2015

Brassica oleracea acephala: "A hardy cabbage with curled often finely incised leaves that do not form a dense head," according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It was, writes Alan Davidson in The Oxford Companion to Food, "the ordinary greenstuff of country people in most parts of Europe until the end of the Middle Ages, when the 'headed' cabbages were bred." In other words, this is what the peasants ate before cabbage—that most chic and sophisticated of vegetables. The English called it "cole." The Scots called it "kale." And now it's everywhere.

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A Spirited History

An exhibit on America's love-hate relationship with booze.
11:30 AM, May 07, 2015

The first thing you see upon entering the new National Archives exhibit "Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History" is a column containing 26 gallon-jugs filled with pure alcohol, each with varying amounts and representing our annual consumption over the centuries. And while it might sound like a lot to learn we currently drink 2.3 gallons of alcohol per year, back in 1830, that number was 7.1 gallons, impressive even by Blutarsky standards.

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Failed Transaction

What I'll Miss Most About the Comcast-TimeWarner Merger Talks.
10:31 AM, Apr 24, 2015

Now that it’s been reported the Comcast-TimeWarner merger talks have collapsed, there will be much ad time to be filled on television and radio (as well as print). At least if you live in the D.C. area, radio commercials are often about impending legislation and a voiceover urging listeners to “vote no” or “vote yes.” The ads are usually paid for by lobbying groups and aimed at lawmakers.

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‘A Concerned 8-Year-Old Citizen’ Writes Brutal Letter to Michelle Obama

7:02 AM, Apr 21, 2015

A friend sends along an email attachment—a handwritten letter by his 8-year-old son, Peter. It’s addressed to First Lady Michelle Obama. “It all started because he saw something about school lunches [and] how ketchup is bad for you, and that Michelle Obama wants to limit the amount of ketchup” in schools, my friend explained. When the boy’s mother reminded him he attends a private school, making the ketchup rationing a nonissue, “He said something about wanting to ‘give a voice to the voiceless.’”

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Car Talk

Victorino Matus, useless intellect
Feb 23, 2015

According to my mechanic, that burning smell emanating from my car’s vents was caused by an oil leak near the camshaft synchronizing sensor underneath the right side of the engine. Unfortunately I had no idea what he was talking about. He lost me at camshaft.

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Flavor of the Month

3:30 PM, Feb 03, 2015

The annual Distilled Spirits Council industry review has just been released: As it turns out, Americans like to drink. No, seriously, we really like to drink. Last year, U.S. distillers cranked out 210 million cases of liquor, up 2.2 percent from 2013. Supplier revenue is up to $23.1 billion. An indication of market recovery: Americans are not only drinking more, but they are also paying more—premium brands are outselling value brands (you know, like that $6 plastic bottle of gin you bought in college). The bourbon and Tennessee whiskey category has grown an impressive 7.4 percent. We are in the midst of a microdistillery boom. But there was one very noticeable decline—in the number of flavored vodkas.

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