Regular readers will know what a HUGE fan I am of the Pacific Northwest Stories Podcasts, Tanis and The Black Tapes. They are both utterly, utterly brilliant, to the point where I barely listen to anything else anymore. Just obsessively check my Stitcher feed to see if there is new content. And re-listen to old podcasts so I can find stuff I missed the first time round.
I am always so excited for new content but then I often have to wait a couple of days to listen to it because, particularly The Black Tapes, has some seriously spooky shit going down. As some of you may also know, the Fussiest Eater in the World works nights and I am of a nervous disposition. So I can only listen in daylight and when I am not going to be in the house alone that night. If I don’t then we get situations like the other night when I was bolt upright in bed from 3:00am because I swear to God I had been woken by some….one? thing? knocking on my bedroom door and there is a spooky psycho killer child on The Black Tapes who:
- Used to communicate only by knocking
- Can teleport himself into people’s room to kill them
Goodbye sleep, it was nice knowing you.
What is Tanis?
But I digress. This is not about The Black Tapes, this is about Tanis. So what is Tanis?
It’s possibly a mythical place but equally, it might be real. It may create exceptional song writers who die darkly (Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain), assorted madmen, weird dead eyed children and mutant cuttlefish; it may be the place Lucifer landed when he fell from heaven, it may be the fountain of youth, it may be the holy grail.
If it is a place, it may or may not currently exist in the Pacific Northwest, in an area now under lockdown called The Breach.
Then again, Tanis could also be a person.
Or possibly a cat.
Seeking Tanis is radio producer Nic Silver. However, saying Tanis is about a dude looking for a place that or may not exist is like looking at that Munch painting and saying “It’s about a guy who’s having a bad day”. Technically correct but all the meaning and nuance and complexity that makes it the awesome thing that it is, is totally lost. Helping Nic is “information specialist” (please don’t call her a hacker) Meerkatnip, (MK to friends). She is cool and smart and has a wonderful dry sense of humour and is, my favorite character. She finds a lot of information for Nic and really, he would be lost without her.
The picture below which came from one of Nic’s emails (I know, I’m such a geek. #sorrynotsorry ) shows some of the details and connections Nic & MK have uncovered in the search for Tanis however it doesn’t even touch on the links to Charles Manson, rocket scientists writing weird stories, mad trappers, Jack The Ripper, servant girl murders, disappearing planes and two possibly unrelated people with dogs called Monkey.
As another character, Cameron Ellis might say, “It’s complicated”. And it is, but in the best, most intriguing way possible. This is smart, well researched, edge of your seat story telling at it’s best!
So anyway, already long story about to be cut short. Nic, and others, are seeking Tanis. So, imagine my surprise when, on our recent trip to Bali, I found it!
I tweeted this picture and someone tweeted back that they wondered what kind of drinks a Tanis inspired bar would have. My first idea was for a Black & Tanis which is what I have made today. Then, joy of joys, the Tanis Podcast then tweeted back a few ideas. So, over the next month I will be running a mini-series of Tanis inspired cocktails, starting with today’s Black and Tanis.
After MK, my next favorite character in Tanis is Geoff van Sant. Geoff’s brother Carl was the person who posted the Craigslist ad shown above before topping himself in their basement. Carl thought he was, or wanted others to believe he was, a runner. A runner is….OMG can you just all please listen to the podcast? Because this really is complicated. Anyhow Geoff’s catch cry is “Wanna grab a beer?” And in Season 1, Episode 2 it also transpired that Geoff, Nic or both are Guinness drinkers. So, on top of the name being totally appropriate, the Black and Tanis also seems like something Nic and Geoff might actually drink!
The Black and Tanis
I didn’t want to make a straight up Black and Tan because what would be the fun in that? I also love a pun so my idea was to anise up a regular Black and Tan which I would then contract down Brangelina style from Black and Tan and Anise to a Black and Tanis!
The little guy is actually a mini Balinese satay grill but I thought he looked creepy enough to be included here!
I am not a beer drinker so I was a bit worried that beer….oops, sorry pale ale (for the pedantic people out there) and stout and anise would taste revolting together or that there might be a combination in the three that would send you barking mad. Remember when you were seventeen and someone told you that if you drank Bailey’s and then drank soda water and then went on a plane your stomach would explode? I was scared of something like that happening. Of course, we all know that is just nonsense.
Do we? Do we really? Does anyone know if that can actually happen? Who drinks Bailey’s on planes anyway? G&T all the way!
Then I found this recipe:
Cinnamon & Star Anise Beer
And, happy days, I knew this was going to work. Here is my syrup cooking away.
I used a Gage Roads Atomic Pale Ale as my tan. I know nothing about beer so I chose this entirely on its name and a tenuous link to Tanis (Jack Parsons who wrote the short story Where is Tanis back in the 1950’s has been called the Atomic Antichrist). But for those who care about such things it is an American style pale ale. It was really nice – very refreshing. I could see myself drinking more of these on a hot summer day!
My black was a traditional Guinness. I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of the Guinness as I had always assumed it would be very dark and very bitter but it was a lot lighter and more pleasant tasting than I thought it would be. I won’t be rushing out to buy crates of it but it was a lot more drinkable than I had previously assumed.
You can see in the photo above, how much “tanis” there was the glass originally. Despite my best intentions of careful pouring the “black” bled into the tan a lot so the final result looks a lot more black. If I was making this again I would add even more of the pale ale so after adding the Guinness, it would look more like 50/50. Still, I love the ombre effect. I also think the Guinness might have been colder than the pale ale because it created a weird condensation at the top of the glass.
The Fussiest Eater in the World, who is a beer drinker, liked this very much. I did too. And it was great fun to create.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 1 can of Guinness
- 1 can or bottle of Pale Ale, I used Gage Roads Brewing Co. Atomic Ale
- Combine the sugar, water, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, at least 1 hour.
- Place a tablespoon of syrup into the bottom of your glass.
- Pour in the beer and give it a light stir.
- Place a spoon with the back side up against the side of the glass. Very slowly pour the Guinness over the spoon until the glass is full.
And remember, keep looking!