The Daily Feed, The Nationals

LaRoche Goes Long Twice in 3-2 Nats Win Over Philadelphia

Sunday afternoon’s game got off to a rocky start when the Washington Nationals committed two defensive errors in the top of the first inning against the Phillies but Washington went on to beat Philadelphia 3-2.

Left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez went six innings while giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and striking out three batters on 105 pitches (67 strikes). The Phillies did score a run in the top of the first as a result of both outfielder Denard Span and third baseman Anthony Rendon committing a pair of consecutive throwing errors on a Grady Sizemore single hit to center field but Gonzalez bounced back and settled in allowing his pitches to work for him rather than against him after that; Phillies 1, Nats 0.

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Zimmermann Solid Through Eight Innings, Nats Beat Giants 6-2

The Washington Nationals rebounded from Friday night’s lop-sided 10-3 loss that snapped their 10-run winning streak against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday by beating their visitors 6-2. Right-handed starter Jordan Zimmermann pitched a solid eight innings while throwing 107 pitches and 78 strikes. He gave up two runs on seven hits – including a Hunter Pence two-run homerun in the first inning – while striking out eight batters.

Washington answered right back after the Giants led off the game with a double hit by outfielder Angel Pagan and the two-run Pence homer; Giants 2, Nats 0. Outfielder Denard Span led off with a triple hit down the right field line off San Francisco’s right-handed starter Tim Lincecum. Third baseman Anthony Rendon followed by drawing a walk before Span scored on a single hit by outfielder Jayson Werth. First baseman Adam LaRoche proceeded to hit into a double play in his at-bat but his efforts sent Rendon around to score; Giants 2, Nats 2. Continue reading

The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Sunday in the Park with George

Brynn O’Malley (Dot) and Claybourne Elder (George) in Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Brynn O’Malley (Dot) and Claybourne Elder (George) in Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

For persons wholly unfamiliar with the musical theatre canon of Stephen Sondheim, the Neo-impressionist artist George Seurat and his famous painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, or the work of DC-area director Matthew Gardiner, Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre is worth seeing. For fans and admirers of Sondheim, Seurat, or Gardiner, seeing Signature’s production is absolutely essential. In fact, it’s vital. In the 97-year history of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, only eight musicals have won the coveted award and in 1985, Sondheim and book writer James Lapine’s fictionalized story of Seurat and his pointillist creation of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte became the sixth musical to achieve such an honor. Inspired by Seurat’s technique of applying a series of tiny, individual colored dots to form an image, Sondheim not only mimicked the style musically and verbally– through the use of staccato phrases, simple melodies, and clipped conversation—but he even named his female protagonist Dot. More than that, though, Sondheim and Lapine, in studying Seurat’s painting which depicts random people relaxing in a park on an island in the Seine River, wanted to give a voice to the one figure that seemed to be missing from the canvas: the artist himself. Sunday in the Park with George is written as two separate acts, whose individual stories merge at the end of Act II, to complete a thematic journey of art and love. Act I explores Seurat’s creation of the art and his struggle between passion for the work, and passion for his relationships, most notably with his lover, Dot. Three generations later, Act II features Seurat’s great-grandson George, an American artist trying to find his own passion, who eventually visits the island on the Seine River, depicted in Seurat’s painting, for inspiration, and ultimately ends up finding himself through his ancestry. Because the two acts are set nearly one hundred years apart, with completely different characters, styles of music, and seemingly unconnected plots, trying to seamlessly merge the two acts and complexity of the show’s themes is difficult. Particularly challenging is doing this without losing the pointillist nuances and simplicities in the script and musical score, all the while trying to give voice to the artists of the piece. In less than capable hands, Sunday in the Park with George can easily become droll, lackluster, and completely uninspired, rendering audiences bored, confused, and unmoved. Fortunately, Signature Theatre placed their production in the extremely capable hands of director Matthew Gardiner and the end result is breathtaking and awe-inspiring enchantment. Without adding too much unnecessary embellishment or frills to the piece, Gardiner flawlessly leads the audience through the complex world of the show by focusing on the show’s basic theme of allowing one’s passions to come from the heart and using that passion to make something beautiful. Gardiner seems to understand very well that those making this piece are, in essence, their own characters in Sunday in the Park with George and Gardiner’s heart and passion for the work are very evident in every aspect of this show. In fact, one of the reasons why Signature’s production is so beautiful is because everyone involved in the production seems to bring their full heart and passion to it. Claybourne Elder, in the title roles, first as George Seurat and then as 1980s artist George, carries the show gracefully, finding the perfect balances between artist and lover, relative and friend, passion and person, and tormented versus inspired. Never allowing his Georges to become sullen, moody, and unlikable, Elder remains sympathetic and heartfelt, even when his on-stage behaviors are self-destructive and disagreeable. To be able to do that, while creating two separate and distinct Georges, and then find a way to merge them together at the end of Act II is nothing but brilliant when done well and Elder’s portrayal is sheer genius. Similarly, Brynn O’Malley, first as Seurat’s lover, Dot, and then as 1980s George’s grandmother, Marie, (Seurat and Dot’s daughter), is incredible. As Dot, O’Malley remains grounded and keeps it simple, which is imperative for a character who, like the pointillist style she is named after, allows for the audience to see her fuller range of tones, from her solid comedic chops to her fine dramatic work. As the aged Marie in Act II, O’Malley’s transformation into a centenarian Grandmother is spectacular, wonderfully adopting the geriatric behaviors and nuances without allowing herself to become a caricature. No less impressive than Elder and O’Malley is a talented ensemble of actors who, like Gardiner and his team of gifted collaborators, clearly bring their full passion and love to this production. To see a show with such heart from all sides is truly special and rare, which is why Signature’s production of Sunday in the Park with George is so moving and so spectacular. It is the quintessential love letter to Sondheim, Seurat, theatre, and to art. Sunday in the Park with George performs now through September 21, 2014 at Signature Theatre, located at 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington VA 22206. Tickets start at $40. For more information, call 703-820-9771.

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Nats Win Ninth Straight in 3-2 Walk-off Victory Against Arizona

Four walk-offs in five days, a nine-game winning streak, and first place in the National League East – that’s where the Washington Nationals currently stand after their 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. After a strong seven-inning shutout appearance from right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark for Washington, reliever Tyler Clippard blew the save, but the Nats came back in the form of an Anthony Rendon pinch-hit RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth with one out and two on base to win it.

“It’s a little stressful,” Rendon said of the situation, “[I’ve] probably got some grays coming in now but it’s actually [it’s] good to be on the winning side of these walk-offs for sure.”

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Strasburg Bests Hamles in Pitching Duel, Nats Beat Phillies 4-0

Two strong pitchers took the mound on Sunday for the final game of a four game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals at Nats Park. Both left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg lasted seven innings but it was ultimately Philadelphia’s weak defense and Washington’s starter plus a clutch offense that won the Nationals the game 4-0.

Strasburg tallied ten strikeouts in his Sunday appearance. He gave up three hits and one walk on 99 pitches (69 strikes) to out duel Hamels and the Phillies. On the other end of things, Hamels gave up four hits and one unearned run while walking one batter and striking out six on 80 pitches (66 strikes).

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Soriano Blows Third Save of Season, Werth Delivers Walk-Off

Rafael Soriano has blown three saves for the Washington Nationals. All of them have resulted in tie games, the previous two went to extra innings with the Nats losing both. While the Nationals 3-8 record in extra innings sounds preposterous with how good their 2014 relief pitching has been it still exists, and avoiding extra innings in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth was key. Down to their last out after Rendon hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Span from the bases Werth was the last shot for the Nationals to avoid extra innings. It could be assumed that trading Rendon for Span would be a minus in the base running department, but Rendon is an intelligent base runner and when Werth doubled down to left field line Rendon was able to come all the way around to score.

If you’re a baseball fan that likes aggressive and intelligent base running then this was the game for you. Both teams had several plays where base running was the key going all the way back to the Nationals first run of the game in the bottom of the second. LaRoche led off the inning with a single then went first to third on Harper’s single and when LaRoche scored on Desmond’s single Harper took third drawing a throw and allowing Desmond to advance to second giving the Nationals runners second and third with one out. It wouldn’t result in any more runs but it was a sign of things to come.

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Nats defeat Rockies 7-1

It took seven and two thirds innings and over a hundred pitchers but the Colorado Rockies finally drew a walk against Stephen Strasburg and chased him from the game. Too bad by that time they were down 7-1 after DJ LeMahieu had homered earlier in the inning. With questions surrounding Stephen Strasburg and if he could be trusted to pitch like a “true ace” he did exactly that against a wounded Rockies line-up. Missing Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado to injury and resting Charlie Blackmon and Troy Tulowitzski the Rockies line-up wasn’t much to look at and until the eighth inning all they could muster was four singles off of Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg’s final line was an impressive seven and two thirds of one run ball on five hits with eight stikeouts and just one walk. Strasburg has pitched like this all season being in the top five in K% and just outside the top 20 in BB% walking only 5.2% of the batters he has faced. Strasburg’s ability to limit walks and generate his own outs has gone largely unnoticed due to some bad luck on balls in play and the perception that his failures to prevent runs are all his fault. Tonight was a bit of a regression to the mean, but it is only the start. Strasburg lowered his ERA to 3.53 but still has a ways to go for it to match his 2.78 FIP.

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Nats Fall 6-4 to Braves in 13

The Nats put up a fight but only delayed the inevitable. As exciting as the ninth inning two run home run off the bat of Anthony Rendon was that caused Craig Kimbrel to blow his fifth save it only served to delay the Nats loss. The Nats have a remarkable record when scoring four or more runs and this was just their third loss of the season when they’ve reached that magic number. The Nats found the four runs absolutely necessary because their Ace, Stephen Strasburg, didn’t have his best stuff, and while he gutted out six innings he gave up four runs in the process. Not a good outing from a pitcher that should be capable of shutting down the opposition.

To Strasburg’s credit he did come into this game leading the NL in FIP and fWAR, but when the Nats have needed him most he hasn’t been at his best and at 1-6 on the year against the Braves and clinging by a half game to first place the Nats needed Strasburg. Some nights a starting pitcher isn’t going to have everything working and this was one of those nights for Strasburg as the curve simply wasn’t present.

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Henge-tacular

We see a lot of chit-chat about “henge” events – times when the sun lines up exactly right with our grid-city for optimal lineup in a photo. Trust data mastermind Josh “Govtrack” Tauberer to grind the information and get you exact date information for specific locations. Use it to take perfectly aligned photos or as a must-avoid for your west-to-east sunset time driving.

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Featured Photo

I think we can all agree that the only thing cuter than a panda face is a panda butt. It’s big and round and, presumably, pretty squishy. Put them together and, well, your brain could a splode. Bao Bao is doing an excellent job of trying to kill us all, or win our undying affection, one can never tell, in this adorable photo by Dan Reidel. If you look through Dan’s photo stream you’ll see quite a few shots of the pandas doing their panda thing but Bao Bao is particularly skilled at milking her silly bear-ness for all it’s worth. While we all miss our little Butterstick (aka Tai Shan) his little sister is doing her best to fill his, um, paw prints. Great shot, Dan!

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Nats Defeat Astros 6-5

If Tuesday’s victory over the Astros proved anything it is that there is a thin line between comedy and tragedy as a laugher quickly transitioned into a tightly contested one run game in the course of one inning. Thanks to multiple double games from Zimmerman and Rendon the Nationals jumped all over the Astros and held a 6-1 lead heading into the top of the eighth. Tyler Clippard took the mound because it was the eighth inning, Tanner Roark had labored to get through five innings, and Ross Detwiler is a figment of your imagination.

From the very start of the inning Tyler Clippard didn’t appear to have it as Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez lead off the inning with a single and a double. Against the third batter of the inning, Jonathan Villar, Clippard would serve up another hittable pitch that Villar would drive to center for a single and the Astros would cut the Nats lead to four. After two strikeouts it looked like Clippard could get out of the inning, but the batter was Jose Altuve who already had himself a three hit night, and he would collect his fourth hit on a two RBI double. Aaron Barrett would then come in and get George Springer to fly out to center on just two pitches.

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We Love Weekends – Jun 13-15

Fedward:  Friday night is the grand opening of the Angelika Pop-Up theater north of Union Market.  I attended a preview screening Tuesday night and the space looks great, with three 150 seat houses, large screens, and a lovely concession area and lounge.  They pointed out that the more tickets they sell, the better movies they can get, so get out there and watch some movies!  Saturday afternoon we’ll attend an annual Flag Day Party thrown by some guy who’d rather not have people bring him birthday presents. Saturday night the Hamilton hosts A Southern Soul Tribute: The Music Of Muscle Shoals & Stax/Volt, which stands to be excellent, but I’ll actually be on my way to Bengies Drive-In for a double feature of sequels to movies I didn’t see. I wonder if I can figure out the plots! And if none of those ideas work for you, there’s also a few performances remaining of Forum Theatre’s re-re-mount of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, now featuring the return of Frank Britton. Sunday is going to be packed with … organizing paperwork for a potential refinancing, after which I’ll definitely need our traditional Sunday brunch at the Passenger.

Tom: The storms are going to keep us in on Friday night, but it’s possible we’ll find ourselves at the newly open Brookland’s Finest, rewarding our friends for their hard struggle in getting open. Saturday I’ll be doing the solo Dad duty, but the weather looks to be perfect, so I’ll likely pack Charlie into the bike trailer to explore more of the Northwest Branch Trail and some of College Park. After that, we’ve got friends with a big party on Saturday afternoon, so we may end up in the wilds of Arlington (don’t worry, we’ve got a passport for Charlie now) doing our thing. Sunday looks to be warmer, but again with the low humidity, so some outdoor activity sounds like a perfect choice. Maybe fire up the grill!

Don: Unlike Tom, I am not willing to give up on Friday night yet. Mind you, I’m opting for something free in case it does get rained out. Specifically the opening event for the free music & arts at Lubber Run Amphitheater. If it’s cancelled for rain then we’ll have to find something else indoors. Saturday it’s our annual Flag Day celebrations (what, you don’t observe?) and maybe a little morning nature walking. Sunday evening I might see if we can wrangle a babysitter and head out to Woolly Mammoth to catch their Sunday deal on The Totalitarians. The ticket deal, that is. $2 for a PBR is still $4 too much for that swill.

Joe:  Let’s start with priorities, beginning and ending with the 2014 World Cup, which for all of you non-believers kicked off Thursday in Brazil. Where to watch? Well, follow the pack of people wearing colored jerseys and singing “olé, olé, olé” to the nearest pub (or check out this list or this one). In between matches, I’m going to be taking a lot of photos. Saturday morning, I’m headed down to the Thompson Boat Center on the Georgetown Waterfront for the 13th annual DC Dragon Boat races. Either later that day or Sunday, I’ll venture north of the beltway to Bawlmer and check out the beehives and leopard prints at HonFest. No hairspray for me, though horned-rimmed glasses are a distinct possibility.

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Nats Hit To Help Strasburg Notch Fifth Win, Beat Phillies 8-4

Photo courtesy of oddlittlebird.
One more win!
courtesy of oddlittlebird.

The game came complete with an hour and forty eight minute rain delay but the Washington Nationals pulled off an 8-4 victory Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies in D.C. Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg got some much needed run support to aid his efforts and secure his fifth win of the season.

Strasburg tossed seven innings and gave up four runs (two earned) on seven hits while striking out eleven on 109 pitches (79 strikes). Of the two earned runs scored on Strasburg on the night, Phillies pinch hitter John Mayberry, Jr. hit a one-out, two-run homerun in the seventh inning just before the game went into the rain delay at the stretch. Continue reading

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Nats win 7-0 in Zimmerman’s Return

Ryan Zimmerman is known as Mr. Walkoff, but that wasn’t necessary in his return to the line-up as the Nats won going away. In his first at bat off the DL Ryan Zimmerman smoked a double down the left field line. That first hit had no baring on the outcome of the game but it was good to see Zimmerman hitting the ball with authority and it would prove to be a taste of what was to come.

The Nats would get the scoring started one inning later with Danny Espinosa leading off with an infield single, followed by a Jordan Zimmermann sac bunt, a single by Span, a walk to Rendon to load the bases, a ground rule double by Werth to drive in two runs, and a ground out by LaRoche to drive in the Nats third and final run of the inning. And this would prove to only be the start of the scoring for the Nationals. The big hit for Zimmerman would come in the bottom of the fifth with Span on second and the Phillies having just intentionally walked LaRoche to pitch to him. Zimmerman made them pay with an opposite field double.

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Nats Offense Wakes Up to Clobber Rangers 9-2

For the month of May the Washington Nationals offense had averaged 3.2 runs a game. For most of the month they played without Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, and Adam LaRoche while suffering slumps from Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth. It all added up to the Nationals having one of their worst months of the last four seasons, and after the second inning it looked like this game was going to be much the same as many other Nats games of 2014.

Strasburg was dominant in the first retiring the side on just ten pitches including two strikeouts, but in the second he allowed a lead-off double before striking out the next two batters. With Adrian Beltre standing at second and Leonys Martin at the plate Strasburg got the weak contact he wanted but failed to field the come backer with his glove or face and there were suddenly runners on the corners with two outs. Strasburg would then give up RBI singles to the number eight and nine batters before Denard Span made a nice running catch of Shin-Soo Choo’s liner to retire the side.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The Features

Nats Fall 8-5 to Miami in the 10th

Photo courtesy of ekelly80
perfect night for a game
courtesy of ekelly80

The Nationals suffered a tough 8-5 tenth inning loss in Washington on Wednesday against the Miami Marlins despite several opportunities to end the night with a win. Right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimermann started the night well enough by cruising through the first three innings. He gave up two hits in the first inning and faced 10 batters before the game broke open for Miami in the fourth.

Zimmermann lasted a total of five innings pitched and gave up four runs (three earned) and eight hits while walking one and striking out three on 80 pitches thrown (53 strikes). The fourth inning is when Miami did their greatest damage of the night to take the big 4-0 lead that would keep them ahead of Washington all evening.

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Dodgers Defeat Nats 8-3 in Kershaw’s Return

The story of this game is Clayton Kershaw’s return to the Dodgers and everything went as planned as he pitch seven innings allowing no runs and striking out nine Nationals. It was an impressive start, but impressive starts are common place for a pitcher as good as Kershaw. What was impressive is that Nationals spot starter Blake Treinen held the game scoreless and tied through five innings. Matt Williams then decided to push the spot starter in his major league debut as a starting pitcher into the sixth.

Clayton Kershaw reached on an error when Blake Treinen couldn’t pick up his dribbler. Dee Gordon hit a ball right to Adam LaRoche and LaRoche was caught thinking about a throw to second before he could secure the ball and Gordon ended up on first base. An second infield hit and a solid single by Hanley Ramirez would give the Dodgers the lead they wouldn’t relinquish as Kershaw kept the stranglehold on the Nats hitters and the Dodgers offense came to life against the Nats bullpen.

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Nats Endure Lengthy Rain Delay, Shutout Dodgers 4-0

fisheye nats park
courtesy of philliefan99

A few hundred people bore witness as the midnight hour crept just passed 1 a.m. at Nationals Parks on Tuesday morning as the Nats beat the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0. Due to rain, the game fell subject to a 3 hour and 17 minute rain delay starting in the middle of the 4th inning. The total time of the delay even ended up being longer than the total amount of playing time it took the Nats to win it.

Both teams fielded some of their most reliable starting pitchers. Right-handed pitchers Zack Greinke and Jordan Zimmermann each performed prior to the rain forcing them out of the game. In fact, the two-run shutout Washington carried into the bottom of the eighth with them was recorded within the first two home team at-bats of the long, long night.

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Entertainment, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Threepenny Opera

Polly Peachum (Erin Driscoll) and Lucy Brown (Rick Hammerly) vie for the love of Macheath in “The Threepenny Opera,” now playing at Signature Theatre through June 1, 2014. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Polly Peachum (Erin Driscoll) and Lucy Brown (Rick Hammerly) vie for the love of Macheath in “The Threepenny Opera,” now playing at Signature Theatre through June 1, 2014. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Meh. That’s the best way to describe Signature Theatre’s production of The Threepenny Opera. But I can’t blame them for it. After all, it was written to be that way. Sort of.

Playwright Bertolt Brecht, who lived in Germany through the mid 20th century, believed that theatre was meant to be a forum for political ideas, in the hopes that it would result in actual social and bureaucratic change. Most notably authoring plays such as The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Mother Courage and Her Children, he is also credited with establishing the genre of Epic Theatre, of which almost all his plays, including The Threepenny Opera, are a part of.

Epic Theatre is based on the idea that a play should not create any type of emotional cartharsis or cause the spectator to identify emotionally at all with the characters or action on stage. By denying the audience any type of impassioned feeling, he believed it would instead allow them to adopt a critical socio-political view designed to provoke self-reflection and be moved to effect real change in the world.

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Friday Happy Hour: Springtime Scotchtails

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about what to drink this spring, tequila, aperitivi, all the drinks at Lupo Verde, but I’ve saved the best for last. What could it be, beer gardens? Tiki drinks? All good, but no. This time of year, when I’m not drinking a Bicyclette, I’m drinking scotch.

I know, weird, it’s finally warm out and I’m suddenly in the mood for scotch, arguably the most wintery libation of them all. And usually I’m a purist; scotch, neat, maybe with a drop of water. Never with ice, and (until recently) never in a cocktail. But this season all those nice cocoa, dried fruit, and coconut flavors have been creeping their way into my spring cocktails.

The Mcqueen
2 oz blended scotch, I use Dewars
¾ oz dry vermouth, I use Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry
¼ oz white creme de cacao, Marie Brizard works fine

Build in a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon zest.

Total guilty pleasure drink for me. Steve McQueen has been one of my style icons since I was a kid. Though I’ve got dark hair, so I do more of a Burt Reynolds thing, ah well. But that’s not going to stop me from coming up with a Steve Mcqueen styled drink. Nothing fancy, simply a blond rob roy, smooth as jazz but still with a bit of edge, e.g. McQueen in Bullitt. Continue reading