Friday, July 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Tito's Handmade Vodka
Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
Elemental Organic Vodka
Elemental Organic Vanilla Espresso Vodka
Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka
Van Gogh Vanilla Vodka
Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
Hayman's Old Tom Gin
Plymouth Sloe Gin (I know, not really a gin)
Bacardi Light Rum
Bacardi 151 Rum
Cruzan Black Strap Rum
Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
Rhum Clement VSOP Rum
Gosling's Black Seal Rum
Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
The Kraken Black Spiced Rum
MEZCAL / TEQUILA
Patron Resposado Tequila
El Jimador Blanco Tequila (jalapeño infused)
SCOTCH / WHISKY / WHISKEY
Isle of Jura Superstition Blended Scotch
Caol Ila 12 Year Single Malt Whisky
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Scotch
The Glenlivet Nadurra 16 yr old Scotch
Compass Box Spice Tree Scotch Whisky
Johnny Walker Black Blended Scotch
Wasmund's Red Single Malt Whisky
Wasmund's Silver Single Malt Whisky
Copper Fox Rye Whisky
Jameson Irish Whiskey
Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Sazerac Rye Whiskey
Rittenhouse 100 Rye Whisky
Pappy Van Winkle's 20 yr old bourbon
The Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky 12
Canadian Club Whisky 6 Years Old
SHERRIES / PORTS
Fladgate First Estate Reserve
Osborne Fine Ruby
Kelt Tour du Mond VSOP
Martini & Rossi Vermouth Rosso
Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth
Dolin Dry Vermouth
LIQUEURS / OTHER SPIRITS
Berentzen Apfelkorn Apple Liquer
Batavia-Arrack van Oosten
Cynar Artichoke Liqueur
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Heering Cherry Liqueur
Stock Maraschino Liqueur
Kirschwasser Cherry Liqueur
Cointreau Orange Liqueur
Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
Stone’s Ginger Liqueur
Pama Pommegranate Liqueur
LeTourment Vert Absinthe
Agua Luca Cachaca
DeKuyper Triple Sec
DeKuyper Creme de Cassis
DeKuyper Creme de Cocoa
DeKuyper Creme de Menthe
Bols Blackberry Flavored Brandy
DeKuyper Apricot Flavored Brandy
Rumple Minze Peppermint Schnapps
Bailey's Irish Cream
Creme de Violette
Orchard Pear Liqeuer
St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
SOJU / SAKE /
Korean Blueberry Soju
Fee Brother's Old Fashioned Bitters
Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole Bitters
SWEETNERS / OTHER ADDITIVES
Rose's Lime Juice
Alwadi Orange Blossom Water
Alwadi Rose Water
Tres Agaves Agave Nectar
TJ's Organic Blue Agave Sweetner
Sunday, April 18, 2010
After a relaxing Megabus ride from downtown DC to NYC (wifi (flawless on the ride up), bathroom, comfy seats), I stepped off in midtown on a gorgeous sunny day. Strolled about 15 blocks to my hotel - I never complain about having to walk in New York, the experience is one of my favorite things about the city. Checked into my palatial (by NY standards) room, and then headed out for lunch and a beer.
Randomly stopped into The House of Brews on West 46th Street. This area is evidently known a Restaurant Row, but given the so-so establishments in the area, I found it hard to believe that this street was the only one with that designation in the city. Maybe it's just based on quantity. Since it was 3PM on a Wednesday, the place was pretty dead - one guy nursing a water, watching the Yankees lose on one of the three flatscreens. The beer selection was pretty good - more than a few Belgian bottles, including a 12 ounce bottle of Bitter XX (a large version of which I have chilling in my beer fridge), and if you wanted to shell out $450 for a 2005 Sam Adams Utopia, you could do that.
Had a draft Chimay Trippel (tasty), and a chicken sandwich and fries (not so much). But the point wasn't to have a memorable culinary experience, or to have this be the place to sample multiple beers in a sitting - it was to lay an adequate gastric foundation for the planned activities of the evening - cocktails at Death and Co. and Bar Centrale, and dinner at Caracas.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Of course, things sometimes don't go according to plan. Two weeks before the course, I got a notice it was cancelled due to lack of interest (people probably were too hungover to remember to register). But I already had my Megabus ticket ($12 roundtrip!), and my hotel ($65 a night!), so decided to learn through experience and go anyway. Besides, that would give me more time to drin...er, do blog research.
After soliciting friends and Twitter for suggestions, set a tentative itinerary to include a couple highly regarded cocktail bars, a famous beer bar, some good eats, and some shopping. It's an ambitious agenda, but one I think I can stick to by employing some self discipline (translation: chances are extremely high the whole thing will go to hell 5 minutes after I step off the bus).
Regardless, I'll post and tweet about the whole experience as it happens. If needed, I'll let you know where to send the bail money.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Muddling. Technically, it's combining ingredients in the bottom of a mixing glass (typically with an instrument made for this purpose, called a....wait for it....muddler) before the rest of the liquid ingredients are added to make a cocktail. Following shaking and stirring, it is probably the most typical action needed to create cocktails. And it's one which I think is done incorrectly more often than not.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
What is a beer? Not really an existential question, and not one that people outside of beer geek circles spend a while lot of time contemplating. But with the release of the "strongest beer in the world," the Sink The Bismarck "quadruple IPA" from BrewDog brewery in Scotland, it's been asked a lot lately, both by beer geeks and the mainstream press. Is an alcoholic beverage that clocks in at 41% ABV really still a beer, or is it some other category of beverage - not quite a spirit, certainly not a wine, but "beer" doesn't quite get it either?
I'm not going to delve into that heady discussion (get it? heady? beer?? No?). But that question was running through the back of my mind as Suz and I tasted Fort by Dogfish Head brewery. Touted as the strongest fruit beer in the world, this 18% ABV monster uses over a ton of raspberries during fermentation, and that was obvious from the second we poured some from the large format (25.6oz) bottle into some wine glasses - the raspberries hit you right away. But so does the alcohol, which was very clearly present on the nose. The head - tiny, tight bubbles - dissipated quickly, leaving the lovely, rose-gold, slightly opaque liquid alone in the glass.
Fort is "strong" in French, and this beer is certainly that. Suz noted it more closely resembled a currant liqueur like Chambord than a framboise style Belgian beer. Lightly carbonated, the finish was long, and almost cloyingly sweet. That alcohol on the nose wasn't as obvious in the taste (but it was pretty obvious based on the buzz we had after finishing the bottle). But that sweetness builds on the palate, and becomes overwhelming eventually. It's pretty clear that this type of beer is not suited to a couple of people knocking back 12.5oz of the stuff while playing Scrabble (let's just say two letter words were about all we could conjur at the end of that game).
So when should you drink this? With three friends (a 6oz serving each seems right), from a white wine glass, while eating a great chocolate dessert (Suz suggested a dark chocolate mousse, which would be right on - bitter chocolate and sweet raspberries = yum). And I think that gets at the question about whether these types of beverages should be thought of as "beer" - we have to change the way we think of what beer is, or can be. Pop the cap on one if these and chug it down at a tailgate, and you're going to be in for quite a shock. But serve it like a dessert wine, or, in the case of the Sink The Bismarck, like a fine dram, and you begin to experience the beer the way the brewers intended. Some initial research can help determine your approach to these beverages, and result in some increased knowledge about what being a beer really means.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Recently a friend of mine had a "significant" birthday ("significant" because of the numbers involved, although you wouldn't know it from looking at her.) Her husband, a beer brewer and imbiber like myself, decided to treat her and a bunch of friends to a cocktail class hosted by Derek Brown - cocktail writer for The Atlantic, bartender and beverage program designer of The Gibson, owner of a beverage consulting business, co-owner of The Passenger bar, and all around cocktail-guy-to-know in DC. I was lucky enough to be invited, but had some time to kill between work and the class kick off time - and that translates to drinking time (see pics from the evening here).
Started at Central, Chef Michel Richard's bistro location. It was the start of Mardi Gras, and I had seen that Central had Abita Mardi Gras Bock as an exclusive in DC, so figured I would start there. The beer was very tasty - malty, slightly sweet, slight bitterness with a very short finish. Nice reddish amber hue to it - a good, but not great, bock. But the bar itself was slow, and the bartender spent most of his time noting he was off in 5 more hours and couldn't wait to get out of there, so I bolted for The Passenger.
The Passenger is in a converted store front directly across the street from the DC Convention Center in the Shaw neighborhood. This is one of the two or three DC neighborhoods undergoing a renaissance after years of blight caused by the riots that occurred in 1968 and the resulting years of neglect. Unlike many bars i've been to, the space is wide open - the entire center portion of the bar is absent tables or chairs (in New York, you would probably see 10 more tables crammed into the same space.). There are five vinyl, four person booths, a couple of eight tops at front in the bay windows, and the bar seats about fifteen. Chatting about the bar later, Derek mentioned that openness was intentional - it definitely makes the large space more intimate. It also mitigates the noise in the space- the space is dark, with dark, almost black hardwood floors, dark grey walls, and a darkly stained bar, and even with the open space, it can get pretty loud when the seats start to fill up.
I was about an hour early, so I grabbed a seat at the bar and asked my bartender Alex to make me something with rye. She whipped up a Manhattan made with Luxardo maraschino liqueur and absinthe. Tasty, and the absinthe added a nice zing to the drink. This was starting off well.
Very soon thereafter my friends arrived, as did Derek, and we were escorted into the Columbia Room, the newly opened party / event / class room in the back of the space. In contrast to the bar space in front, this space was brightly lit, with creamy light blue walls and a cozy atmosphere. There was a bar, a nicely designed prep/display area, barstools for about ten people, and that was it - certainly a proper atmosphere for teaching about drinking. Derek claimed the room wasn't quite complete yet, but it certainly looked complete to me.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
This one highlights the best aspects of the ingredients: the vanilla espresso notes from the vodka are clear, but not overwhelming; the bright, sweet lemon taste brings some citrus levity to the drink; and the bitters add the...bitterness (some of this ain't rocket science, folks.)
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Monday, February 15, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
After ordering an Olive Another (olive tapenade, roasted red peppers, and artichoke hearts - yummy), we sampled the four beers they had available on tap - a blonde, an amber, an IPA, and a stout.
All the beers had low levels of carbonation and were served at a cool (not cold) temperature - reminded me of beers from an English pub. Seemed to work better w/ the stout and IPA than the other two. Heads were thin in general as well.
Cold Trail Ale - described as an American blonde beer using oats and wheat in the grain mixture, this was the light beer of the group. Very pale straw in color, there was no hop aroma at all. Clean tasting with extremely minimal hop bitterness, there was a slight caramel sweetness on the finish. Definitely a session beer, or one for those that go to a brewpub but really want to order a Michelob Light anyway.
Almost Heaven Amber Ale - "lightly hopped" w/ Wilamette hops, this deep red amber ale was tasty, although "lightly hopped" was an understatement - no hops on the nose, and only a very slight hoppy bitterness in the finish. The principal flavor was a pleasant nutty caramel, but it didn't linger on the palate long. This was Suz's favorite - easy to drink yet flavorful.
Seneca India Pale Ale - at 5.2% ABV, this IPA uses a mixture if Chinook, Casacade, and Amarillo hops for flavoring. Lighter in color than the amber, there was still very little hoppy smell to the brew. But although the menu said this IPA did not have a lingering bitter aftertaste, I found the opposite to be true - the bitterness was LONG on the finish, but pleasantly so - that's what you expect from an IPA, and this didn't disappoint.
Miner's Daughter Oatmeal Stout - this was my favorite beer of their selection. An extremely smooth, inky black beer, there was some initial bitterness which faded quickly, followed by a strong coffee finish with a slight chocolate note to it. Very pleasant, and a stout which was very easy to drink.
Overall I thought the beers were good, with the stout being the standout. Add to that some great pizzas ( and a s'mores flatbread dessert which was amazing), and this place was worth leaving your cozy ski lodge to visit.