Friday, December 19, 2008

Repeal Day II: The 'Recon Crew -- Part One

If Jeffery Morgenthaler didn't have enough to do what with keeping the fine folks of Eugene well supplied with excellent drinks, he's also the original champion of the greatest holiday in the world ever -- Repeal day. This grand celebratory occasion first came to my attention last year, and while I like to think I did an ok job at celebrating it, I felt I could do better. With Ed not having to work this time around, I knew we could put together something that would be much more appropriate for the day. We decided that a cocktail crawl, one of epic scope, would be just the ticket. The ticket to where we neither knew nor cared.

Slanted Door

As I was heading up towards the Ferry Building, I got a text from Ed indicating that he was running late. It seemed wrong for me to have my first Repeal Day drink sans Ed, but really, my hands were tied. Scanning the list was an exercise in excess -- There were just too many delectable looking drinks to choose from. I kept getting drawn towards the Agricole Rhum Punch (Rhum Agricole, lime, cane syrup, Pimento Dram, and Angostura) and decided to give it a go.

Damn my eyes if this wasn't a great drink. It managed to be both earthy and light, with a neigh on miraculous balance between sweet and sour. Sitting at the far end of the bar, sipping this cocktail while watching freighters drift into view was an excellent way to start the day. It didn't take long before I stopped checking the clock to see how much longer I would have to wait for Ed to show up. It also soothed the pain of the conversation that sparked up next to me about drinks, and why there's no reason to go to Slanted Door for drinks, because one can get a drink anywhere. But I digress.

Eventually Ed arrived, but by that time there were no seats at the bar, and that simply would not do, so we decided to move on. Fortunately for Ed and his thirst problem, our next stop was just down the block.


Ed and I have met lead Boulevard barman Steve on several occasions, but had never had an opportunity to get down there to give his concoctions a whirl. Fortunately, it was but a brief amble away from Slanted Door. Steve had yet to show up as his shift was still impending, but that is not such a thing to stop us, so we snatched up a menu and took a look. Having not been able to scope out their drink menu on-line I wasn't sure what to expect, but we found a fine looking selection. I went for the Rye Smile (Old Overholt, Luxardo, lemon juice, peach bitters topped off with ginger beer) as I'm a sucker for Rye, Luxardo, and ginger beer. Also, I'm a sucker for pretty much anything. Some say it's a problem, I say it's a solution. Ed had a bit tougher time choosing his drink, but finally settled on the Black Briar -- An interesting concoction made simply of blackberry and pasilla puree, and Woodford with a twist.

The woman who made our drinks (whose name we didn't get because we are terrible people) was deft of hand, and soon delivered unto us two tasty looking libations. The Rye Smile was quite good, with the spice of the Rye and ginger beer working nicely with the sweetness of the Luxardo. Ed's drink very nice as well -- The blackberry was a great foil for the spice from the pepper, but wasn't so much as to overwhelm the notes from the bourbon. Steve showed up as we were finishing off our drinks, and it would have been just plain rude were we to not have more drinks.

As I was scanning the menu, Steve offered to whip Ed up something all off the menu, and the business. Smart man that he is, Ed acquiesced and was soon proffered a New Amsterdam (Bols Genever, apricot liqueur, Amontillado Sherry, Velvet Falernum, and Regan's Orange Bitters). This was an interesting one -- The malt from the Genever hit strong at first, then faded quickly leaving a nutty finish from the Amontillado. It wasn't thrilling me, but after having some time to rest in the glass, those main flavor profiles began to blend into a more pleasing shape. I couldn't bring myself to leave the menu, and went for the Man From Athens, Maker's Mark, Carpano Antica, orange juice, and caramelized peach syrup. I liked this expression of the "West Coast" drink trend of bartenders raiding the kitchen. The syrup added a really nice burnt/sweet note to the overall drink.

We could have stuck around for another, but we had a holiday to celebrate.

Clock Bar

It would have been extremely bad form for us to have left the always ebullient Marco Dionysus out in the cold during our festivities. So it was that we headed up to the Clock Bar. When we arrived, we were feeling very much in the mood for some classics. Ed gravitated to his favorite, the Hemingway Daiquiri (Rum, grapefruit juice, Maraschino, and lime juice),and I sated my need for a Last Word (Gin, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, and Maraschino) lust. Both were exactly what we were looking for. For round two, Ed went for a Wibble -- A heady combination of Plymouth Sloe Gin, Gin, grapefruit, lemon juice, and Creme de Mure -- This has been one of our favorites on the menu for some time. It may be a bit of an obvious statement, but there is something magical about the combination of Gin and Sloe, and the Creme de Mure deepens the mixed fruit flavors of the Sloe. I went for a Pegu (Gin, Curacao, lime juice, Angostura and orange bitters) as a nod to the drink that made the magic happen for me.

I didn't take any photos, and blame Marco's rendition of Shakespeare in the guise of Bugs Bunny. It was a magical performance.

Unfortunately we couldn't stay for the whole performance, as we had to move on to the chaos that was sure to be Cantina.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Helper Monkey

So, um, yeah. The picture isn't that great, but there are a lot of glasses there. Who knew the phrase, "Yeah, fuck it, I'm excited now." could lead to so much delicious chaos.

If you're planning on hitting up Cantina for their Repeal Day festivities tomorrow (Ed and I will be everywhere), and were wondering what the offerings might be like, I'll go ahead and give them the thumbs up.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Review -- Artisanal Cocktais

Hi! I'm a lazy bastard, how's it going? Remember how I was all talking about that Scott Beattie book signing, then never took the time to write about it, or the book? Yeah, those were good times weren't they? To make it up to you, I'm going to go ahead and tell you all about it. I know that doesn't sound like I'm making up for anything, but rather performing my bloggerly duty, but that's just because you're wrong. I mean I love you.

As somebody who is not in a position to likely ever get up to Cyrus to try the drinks of Mr. Beattie, I was pretty excited to have a chance to get my lips on some of his concoctions. They were quite impressive, and tasty, with the Painful Punch rocking my world. To be technical, I would have to resort to the official mixological trade classification of "hot damn!" The crowds got big in a hurry, so beyond drinking a painful amount of punch (zing!), and engaging in some celebrity shaking (not what it sounds like, and I'm happy to report that I never once jettisoned the pint glass off the boston and into the head of anybody standing behind me) I was out of there pretty quick.

While I partied modestly, I was still quite happy to have walked away with a copy of the book, Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus which was thoughtfully inscribed with "To the best bartender on the west coast, BFF Scott." I might have added that part myself later -- Don't judge me! Because I'm the sort to judge books by their cover, even before I have seen said cover, I was imagining a book which would be almost Thomas Kellerian in its complexity. Recipes with recipes, and mysterious ingredients that would have me asking, "What the hell is a floozlefruit bush, and where the fuck am I supposed to get a drachm of argon gas?" I was half right.

To be sure, this is not a book for beginners or even for the likes of me, but I didn't think it would be. On the other hand, I was happy to see space taken to talk about proper ice, measuring of ingredients, using fresh citrus, etc. I was also happy to see classics like the Gin and Tonic, and Last Word covered – But as I read through the book I kept had a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

Things like the use of lotus root chips, and foams (though I must admit it is a more restrained use than is often found) seemed a bit much, and the overwhelming emphasis on ingredients that would be hard to find outside of most major cities (but would never the less require a lot of shopping trips) sat weird with me. Still, I couldn't deny the innovative nature of what was being done, and as I said, this is not a book geared towards the fledgling enthusiast.

It wasn't until I read an insightful post about the book over at Underhill Lounge that I realized more what I was feeling about the book. He mentions that it may be that the drinks are more the non-spirit components than the spirits themselves that are the real focus of the drinks. I don't know if I'd go that far, but I wouldn't fight him on that point, and that's were I get stuck. The drinks I had were, as I said above, delicious, but the book seems like more of an academic study rather than a practical manual of drink making. Indeed , the drinks I love the most are those that feature the spirits and there nuances as the star.

But here's the thing – For all the words I've spent talking about the problems with the book, it's incredibly inspirational. It pushes the boundaries of what is thought of as a cocktail, and takes the west coast style of mixology to its most grand. This is not a book for people just taking their first steps into the cocktail world, but for folks who are looking for a bit of inspiration, and new ideas I'd say it's worth a read.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Core Vodka -- Or is it?

That's a bit too much poorly written snark -- Even for me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday Drink Night

Something I've been quite remiss in mentioning here is a weekly, virtual celebration of cocktail creation and mayhem. It's a sweaty mash up of "your mom" jokes, on the fly cocktails both good and bad, and people going to bed several hours after first saying "I gotta go to bed". This, my friends, is the soused world of Thurday Drink Night. While the chatroom is a fine place to drop any time you're looking for a geek fix, it is the wonderfully inglorious Thursday nights where the magic happens. Which probably explains my regularly forgetting about it, and not showing up.

"That's all well and good," You're saying to your monitor, confirming to your co-workers what they have suspected for years, "but where is the meat in your bloggey sandwich, the trebling crescendo that keeps us always coming back for more? You know, when you talk about yourself."

First of all; I'm not that egotistical that you very much. Second of all; simmer down children, I got you covered. For your viewing (and mocking if you like) pleasure, I present you with the tepidly received contribution I made last evening. I was unable to name the drink as I suck at such things (even more so under pressure), and can't remember what it got dubbed in the chat, so I'm gonna make something up now.

Fistful of Dollars*

1 oz. Plymouth Sloe Gin
1 oz. Haymen's Old Tom Gin
1 oz. lime juice
.5 Tbs. Creole Shrub
2 dashes Fee Bros. Cherry Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and top with soda**.

* The first person who can tell me why I chose this particular name for the drink will get 500 bonus D.A.W points.

** Soda amount-wise, I'm assuming you have more appropriate glasses than the 10 oz. tankards that are all the rage these days.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

39) The Placeholder

1.5 oz. Tezon Blanco Tequila
.25 oz. St. Germain
.25 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
.5 oz. lime juice
.5 oz. lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a flamed orange peel

This one wasn't too bad. We've gotten a bit rusty what with not having the time to play around recently. I was happy to revisit St. Germain -- When it first come out, it was being used by everybody for everything and I got tired of it pretty quickly, but it's a damn fine spirit. I'm also ridding a bit of an obsession with Maraschino. I don't know why but I feel like putting it in everything. An idea I can assure you is not a good one.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Wreckoning Wreturns

It is numerically poor form of me to have not posted this at the one month away mark, but I have been rather busy lately with being smart, and handsome. You know how it is. But enough of my being smart, and handsome, let's get down to business. In less than one month, December 5th, Repeal Day will be upon us once again! Some of you may recall my perfectly executed celebration last year, but this year I'm hoping to be a bit more perfect. Ed should be able to join me this year, which will provide me with a much needed dose of 'let's not do that' and 'I have an idea, let's get food instead'.

Even if you just hoist a tasty drink in the comfort of your own home, don't forget to celebrate our right to enjoy delicious, delicious booze.

Then come back here and tell us all about it.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm just going to say that the picture speaks for itself. If you have ever wondered why Cantina is one of my favorite bars, now you know. On a totally unrelated note, doing shots at Clock Bar with a guy in a hot dog costume is hilarious! Also check out those sweet pantyhose!

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

A couple of years ago, well before Ed and I shambled onto the blog-o-kleinbottle, Paul Clarke of The Cocktail Chronicles founded Mixology Monday -- A monthly gathering of cocktail enthusiasts who used their blogs to come together and share their takes on a set topic. Since I've been following it, the MixMos (as they are affectionately abbreviated) have provided some great reading, and introduced me to more blogs with which I can waste my day. However, Ed and I have yet to participate in one seeing as I have a terrible propensity to forget pretty much everything, and Ed is the only known case of a person born with no capacity to remember anything, ever (to compensate he developed sight beyond sight. Mum-Ra, and the UCSF girls dorm are not pleased.)

The latest MixMo that we missmo'd (comedy!) was guilty pleasures, which I found really interesting, because I like both guilt and pleasure. This one I had actually really wanted to remember, but clearly didn't. However I see no reason why I shouldn't expose you all to my shame anyway. I mean, that's what blogs are for right?

Cheap Beer -- Coming of age in the Pacific Northwest during the micro brew explosion, and being this guy's friend makes it all but impossible for me to not love good beer. More often than not, however, when I'm out and about you'll find me sucking on some classic, shitty, American macrobrew. It pretty much comes down to price, because most of the taps at the places I frequent for my non-cocktail needs pour beers that I've had hundreds of times. They are tasty brews to be sure, but they don't hold any excitement for me, and if a beer isn't going to excite me I'm just gonna grab whatever's the cheapest. You know, to wash down the Jameson. Sorry Rob.

Irish Car Bomb -- This is a double whammy of embarrassment. Not only is the name deplorable, but it is one of the iconic "amateur" drinks in the cannon. The problem is that it is also delicious. The first time I tried one I was resistant, insisting to my friend who wanted me to give it a go that it was a stupid drink for stupid people. Eventually I relented, just get him to shut up. A few messy seconds later, and I was recanting my previous statement. I pretty much only drink these when somebody else proposes a round, and often times I'll front that I'm not really into "those things", but everybody can tell I’m lying.

The "Chill Pill" -- I really shouldn't admit to liking this shot composed of equal parts Green Chartreuse and Peppermint Schnapps. The name alone screams "you have no business being in a bar, much less leaving your dorm room", and the presence of Peppermint Schnapps in anything is generally a sign of a liquid apocalypse. As much as I love Chartreuse and think it can save anything (even the rec. center), this drink seemed all kinds of wrong to me when I was exhorted to try it. In my defense I really resisted trying this one, and it wasn't until my friend Francis placed me under great physical duress that I relented.

Look, I'm not even going to try and defend this, because in name and recipe it is almost impossible to do so, but I will say this. During a recent Thursday Drink Night (a weekly, virtual gathering of cocktail geeks that I highly recommend, and really should write about) I threw this bad boy out to the wolves. It's name was promptly changed to Merde Vert, but there was one brave soul who was willing to try it. You can see in the comments that he declared it tasty! In the chat he also indicated that he wouldn't have to use mouthwash for a week. Obviously the only way to interpret that is positively.

My Own Horrifying Creation -- Recently I was at home thinking that I sure could use a cocktail. I also had that nifty swizzle stick I got from Whiskeyfest that had so far gone unused so a swizzle it would be! Staring at my screwy liquor cabinet (more on that never) I began to assemble a drink kind of willy-nilly. In the end I had a "drink" composed of Plymouth Sloe Gin, Hayman's Old Tom Gin, kumquat gastrique, and a few dashes of Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters. I took a sip and blushed -- It was everything I hate in a cocktail. It was way too sweet, and so fruit forward that the nuances of the liquor had been blasted out of the glass via a monkey navigated rocket car. It tasted like a Wild Shameberry Blast(tm) Jolly Rancher, and it was fucking delicious. To sip upon this drink is to know the exquisite pleasure of evil.

Now -- Why don't you all make me feel better about myself by tossing your guilty pleasures in the comments.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scott Beattie Book Signing Update

While busily forgetting to get more info on the Scott Beattie event I recently wrote about, Camper English over at Alcademics was kind enough to do the work for me.

When: November 3rd, starting at 6pm.
Where: Cantina, 580 Sutter.
Miscellaneous: There will be a $40 cover, but that's gonna get you a signed copy of the book and (last I heard) a couple of Beattie-tails. I just wrote Beattie-tails, what the fuck?

I'll be there until a ton of people show up, and I start to feel as though the walls are closing in on me and I am forced to flee in terror. Woo!

Thanks Camper, you're the best!

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Twitter? Why the Hell Not.

There are a great many times in the history of the internet when I have seen things that I thought were ridiculous and stupid. Things that nobody would use. Things that go on to be hugely popular. If you're currently working on some internet widget thing, your best bet for success is to develop something I would deride. Why am I telling you this on a booze blog? Because we have bowed down to the demon twitter.

When twitter first showed up, I thought it was one of the most ridiculous things ever. Live journal for the ADD set -- Awesome! But then, post-whiskeyfest, I discovered that one can update their twitter account via text messages. It occurred to me then, that perhaps using twitter for special occasions on the go might actually be useful. And that I might starting writing inane things just cause I could. Then I would be cool.

So here we are, wrapped in the Succubus arms of a 140 character limit. Should you like to watch us spiral out of control our username is, surprisingly enough, drinkaweek.

If you're a twitter using booze lover feel free to inject your username in the comments. Maybe we'll feel better if we know we're not alone.

Also, with the exception of the upcoming, we will never use the word "tweet". That is objectively, scientifically, stupid.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Last week, thanks first to Ed and then to H., I was able to attend Whiskeyfest. Given the seriousness of my journalism, I'm sure you've assumed that I have an extensive batch of tasting notes with which to share with you. Of course, you would be wrong. I made the boozefest mistake of a rank amateur -- Thinking, full of hubris, that I would have no problem remembering what I drank. That was problematic on two fronts; my memory sucks as it is, and we were drinking. A lot. We weren't riotously drunk, but when one starts hitting booths that are only offering spirits you drink on a regular basis, it's a pretty safe bet that the tasting notes are going to be murdered within the fog by liquor fueled leper zombies.

Nevertheless, since there were notable things that I remember, and now that I've got a bit more of my hand back, I need to get back to updating this damn thing it's share time!

I've been to some other whiskey shows in the past, and was somewhat disappointed in what felt to me an exclusionary air. The feeling was that those who weren't in a position to increase the market share of a whiskey weren't worthy of much attention. Whiskeyfest felt the total opposite. Every exhibitor we spoke with was incredibly friendly, and more than happy to answer my frequently dumb questions.

At the Rhum Clement booth Ed helped me score a swizzle stick. Like, the real deal West Indies swizzle stick. I know I sound like a freak for being exited about such a thing, but they are both hard to come by and awesome. So there. As I was admiring my stick (see what I did there?) a familiar face appeared at my side -- None other than Underhill Lounge's Chief Awesome Officer Erik Flannestad.

As we were standing at the Rhum booth, Erik if I had been to the Ron Zacapa booth yet. Having heard much of this rum, but not having jammed any of it in my pie-hole previously I went post-haste. That rum, my friends, is fucking delicious. It's got a lovely, buttery smooth mouth feel, and a clean "rum" flavor with a smooth finish. A damn fine sipping rum it is. Suffused with the glow of tasty rum I felt it was time to lower my guard, and open up. Right then and there I came out to Erik as a rumophobe. Sure, I loves me some rum, but as a category it frightens and confuses me. It felt good to get that out in the open.

Having felt we finally had our fill, Ed and I were standing out on the street corner when he had the bright idea of heading over to Clock Bar, and I had the bright idea of thinking that was a bright idea. It turned out that Ed was quite prescient, as it wasn't long after we received our first drink that one Mr. Flannestad was standing next to us. With him was cocktail blogger/writer Paul Clarke. Fortunately I was not quite the gibbering loon I was the I was the last time I ran into him, and can say with confidence that he's a fine gentleman to share a drink with. Ed and I had a few more, and watched as the bar began to fill up with Whiskeyfest refugees whom I'm sure were quite happy to take our vacated seats when we left.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I'd have to say that it wasn't so much the booze that fogged my memory, but the fact that I was having too much fun talking to random people, bartenders, and distillers to really focus all my attention on the booze. I definitely many great tastes, but it felt more like hanging out with friends than a time to take notes. Damn, when the fuck did I get all sentimental? Somebody get me a bottle of Jameson and a Clutch album stat!

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Scott Beattie -- New Book -- Party!

Some, if not all, of you know that Scott Beattie (the one time cocktail wizard at Cyrus) is about to release his first cocktail book. Per what I am sure is a byzantine contractual agreement he's doing a few of the requisite book signings around the area -- Since I only care about me, and fear all places beyond the boundaries of San Francisco proper, that's all I'm going to talk about. First up, on Nov. 3rd will be what I can only assume will be more of a party than a book signing at Cantina. I'm still trying to get final details about some things, and will pass it on when I get it.

Mr. Beattie will be back in San Francisco on December 3rd at Macy's Cellar. I don't know anything about this one, because it's not a bar. So, you know.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bols Genever Gin: Welcome to Flavor Country!

Last Wednesday, thanks to Ed, I was fortunate enough to attend the San Francisco launch event for Bols Genever. For a brain blast of info you might want to check this out, but to oversimplify as I like to do, Genever Gin is made using a grain base (called malt wine) as opposed to the neutral base of London style Gins. What you end up with, for lack of a better description, is a spirit which has the characteristics of both a Whiskey and a Gin. During the formative years of the America's love affair with the cocktail, Genever was the Gin to use, and was the foundational spirit in many of the timeless libations that those of us of the cocktail geek persuasion so adore.

There aren't many Genevers currently on the market here in the states, so any addition to the lineup is good stuff. Moreover, the brands that are out there now are not the easiest to get a hold of, and having a company as large as Bols re-introducing their Genever means it should be less of a pain in the ass for our brethren to get some of this delicious, delicious business. Prior to the "unveiling" we were treated to some cocktails which were being whipped up by H. Joseph Ehrmann (proprietor of Elixir) and his band of merry mixologists. First out was the oft talked about Improved Holland Gin Cocktail -- Both Ed and I were well pleased with this one. My previous run ins with this particular drink had used Anchor Brewing's Genevieve, and much like their Junipero it's got a pretty bold kick to it which isn't bad, but it was nice to see the effect on this drink of a mellower Genever.

The big revelation for me was the next drink that was served, a Collins (I believe they were making them thusly: 2 oz. Bols Genever, 1 oz. lemon juice, .5 oz. rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water) -- Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice, and top with soda water). I've had my fair share of Collins', and it is a perfectly fine drink, but not one I am wont to order on any kind of a regular basis. It just never really pops into my head when I'm concocting at home, or out at the bar. Both Ed and I felt the Genever added a significant new dimension to the drink, and it reminded me of the first Caipirinha I had -- Looking at the ingredients, I had thought it would be a fairly plain drink, but the ephemeral alchemy of the mix made it more than the sum of its parts.

Ed and I were pretty happy when they started bringing around straight samples of the Gin. On the nose it was malty, with the botanicals coming through at the end. The taste pretty much mirrored the nose, with the mild malt flavors giving way to the botanicals in a nice intermingling. The finish was crisp and clean, but didn't make me feel like I was being cheated out the twilight vapors of a good tipple. The rest of the evening was spent mingling with cocktails in hand (things, uh, started getting hazy so you'll forgive me if I don't remember the other drinks that were served), and was generally a ton of fun. During the presentation there was talk of Genever being a perfect substitute for any Whisky cocktail -- I'm not sure I'd agree with that, as I think it requires a bit more consideration when making substitutions. Still, it's a damn tasty product that I'm glad I've got on my shelf, and is worth trying in any number of early American cocktails.

On a totally unrelated note, Ed and I ended up at the same table as David Wondrich, and totally had a geekgasm. Because, you know, I'm a huge dork.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Enter -- The Negroni (Dun, Dun, Dun!)

Campari and I have an understanding -- It doesn't bother me, and I don't talk about what a bitter old hag it is. I am by no means a bitterphobe, but Campari has always struck me as living in its own special land of exquisite bite. This isn't the sort of thing that would normally bother me, as I'm of the belief that one doesn't have to like every single spirit out there (whole categories like, say, Gin? That's another thing entirely). Unfortunately there is the little matter of the Negroni. Lauded by legions of fans, this drink has been recently popping up seemingly all over the place as being a thing of beauty.

Being a great believer in the alchemy of drink, I decided that I was clearly missing out on something, and began a program of occasionally dropping by one of my trusted watering holes to see what the fuss was about. I was universally disappointed. The bitterness was almost dirt like in its apparently liquid rage, and I was glad to be done with each one. What puzzled me the most was that I knew I wasn't being served poorly made Negronis. I was, after all, at the parlors of some of the best mixologists in San Francisco. Eventually I decided that it must be some sort of defect in me, and decided to let it go.

Enter -- Duggan McDonnell (Dun, Dun, Dun!) -- A couple of nights ago I stopped by for a drink, and as the night wore on mentioned was the Negroni. He declared it (surprise!) one of his favorites, and I admitted to hating it. He fixed upon me a snazzy gaze, and made it quite clear that once my martini was finished he would be making me one. It wasn't long before I was staring at a drink I didn't expect to enjoy at all. The first sip wasn't as bad as I was expecting, but the bitterness of the finish was unpleasantly overwhelming. Seeing as I was raised up right, I decided that I would clean my plate as it were, and finish the drink.

A couple more sips in, a strange thing began to happen. The bitterness began to fade, or I began to no longer notice it as much, and I started to taste the nuances of the orange and gin. Somewhere around the halfway mark, I began to see the latent magic in the drink. There was, I realized, something there there. As I finished it I wasn't quite the total convert, but many a crack had been placed upon my armor of dislike.

I am left with an interesting question -- Did I give Duggan a leg up on the other bar tenders by telling him up front that I hated the Negroni, and Campari? Was it to his advantage in so far as he was able to craft what could be considered an entry level Negroni to ease me into the drink by being more selective in what particular Gins and Sweet Vermouths he used? Only time will tell as I am re-igniting my quest, and there will be more Negronis testing my tongue.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, September 12, 2008

38) Velvet Seal

1 oz. Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 oz. Laird's Bonded Applejack
.5 oz. Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb
.5 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
2 dashes Fee Bros. Peach Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice.

This one started mostly due to some recent experiences/things I've read about the way in which Applejack seems to play very nicely with other spirits. It was a rather warm day a while back when I dropped by the bar (I know I'm behind. One handed here!). Ed and I were very much feeling in a summer mood, and it seemed a summer kind of drink was going to be the order of the day. Ed was down for the Black seal as he thought it would do a good job at standing up to the Applejack. Which it did.

Not bad at all. In the first iteration we left out the bitters -- They definitely made the drink so we'd recommend not leaving them out. They can be a bit hard to find, but thanks to the power of the internet you can find them at Kegworks. Failing all that, we wouldn't poke you in the eye if you used Peychaud's.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's the Sound of One Hand Drinking Beer?

I suppose it's time to talk about that American wild ale tasting I recently mentioned. Fortunately for my one hand (the last two weeks have been filled with some of the least erotic one handed typing of my life) there are write-ups here (by the man behind the plan, Rob), here, and here! For the intensely interested, be sure to check out the menu/notes right 'round these parts. Of course, since I long ago shot brevity in the face over a land dispute, I've got to give some of my own beer ignorant impressions.

-- The food was all around fantastic, but the way Rob paired it with the beers was perfect. My favorite beer of the day was the Allagash Interlude, in large part because of Rob's matching it up with delicious, delicious cured meats. The fat from the meat cut the sour, and tamed the carbonation allowing for the full rich flavor of the beer to come out from behind the funk.

-- Being a friend of Rob, other beer enthusiasts tend to think I know a goddamned thing about beer. This is not true. I believe the most technical terms I used during the day were "fucking" and "delicious". Fertile ground for a cocktail geek to feel alienated, but the crew who was there was an insanely welcoming lot.

-- Listening to two beer enthusiasts argue about the difference between a cask and a keg is hilarious.

-- At the end of the tasting, having polished off all the beer, JJ admitted to having brought a small bottle of Angel’s Share. I had never heard of this beer, but the bulging eyes, and childlike giggling it wasn't hard to figure out that it was a special bottle. I offered to stay out of the tasting, as its full power would have been lost on me, but the kids were having none of it. Thank God for that, because sweet Jesus! It was a full steam punch of amazing in a glass. So good just opening the bottle made Lil Baby Pfiff cry. If you come across this, buy as much as you can afford -- Then a few more bottles.

Keep your eyes open for the next one coming soon. Right Rob? Huh? Yeah, you love it!

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paucity of Posting

While we know we don't really provide a cascade of content, we like to think we do a pretty good job of bringing the goods. Unfortunately, Ed is working on getting a reliable internet connection, and a few days ago I sustained a hand injury that has left me pretty much one handed for the near future. Just wanted to let you, our fine ass regular readers, know that while posting may slow down a bit (typing with only ones non-dominent hand sucks) we're still around. There's still the stuff I mentioned in the last update being worked on, and Ed and I knocked out a rather tasty little drink, so stick with us.

We think of you all at last call.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Lonely Friday Link -- Of Love!

Well, it's been a while hasn't it? We've missed you! While we continue to work on a few things, we recommend you take a gander at an excellent article over on 7x7 Magazine's site by local wine and spirits writer Jordan Mackay chronicling a night at his, well, night job -- Manning the bar at Cantina. It's an interesting peek at the frequently not so sexy world of bartending.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Taste the (Beer) Rainbow!

Like beer? Of course you do! Ever had an American Wild Ale? Me neither! Fortunately for all of us, Overlord Beernerd Rob is hosting a tasting of many of these fine brews because he loves you. The full lowdown can be found here.

The best part, of course, is that I'll be there lending a hand with the food. Delicious, delicious food. If you're lucky I'll tell you all about the John/Tom Collins. Oh, who am I kidding, I'm going to tell you why whether you like it or not.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Plymouth Sloe Gin

As regular readers may remember, when I heard that Plymouth Sloe Gin was making its way to our shores I was, well, a bit excited. Its arrival turned out to be a bit of a clusterfuck, as arrival dates for the precious liquid came and went with no Plymouth and no idea from the (very patient) folks at the store I continued to bombard with my presence. When it finally arrived I was almost vibrating with excitement. Sitting on my desk at work, it mocked me with its not being open. Never before was I so tempted to drink on the job.

Once home with my precious cargo, a dark thought came over me. My expectations had blown themselves a bit out of proportion, and I was fearing a huge letdown. In my fevered brain this product, only spoken about in whispers, was some sort of curative nostrum of the soul. To sip this drink would be to see the face of creation. I poured myself a wee bit of the stuff, and (trying to lower my expectation) took a sip. I didn't have any holy hallucinations, but I'll be damned if it wasn't fucking delicious.

Knowing that sloe berries are so tart as to be virtually inedible, I was expecting either a much more astringent product, or something that was perhaps overly sweetened to mask the puckering punch. Rather than either of those, there was a wonderful balance between the sweet and the sour. The first thing that hit me, was an intense, jammy flavor that's somewhat difficult to describe. It was kind of like a mash up of fruits, none of which could easily be pinned down (though the most distinct flavor I got was blackberry). In the finish I got a slight, and somewhat surprising, hint of strawberry.

With that out of the way, it was time for a cocktail! I began to consult my various books, and websites -- I knew I could give the classic Sloe Gin Fizz a whirl, but I was interested in giving something else a shot if it caught my eye. What eventually caught it, was the Daisy recipe from David Wondrich's fantastic new book Imbibe. Here's the specifics of what I used.

Sloe Gin Daisy

2 oz. Plymouth Sloe Gin
.5 oz. lemon juice
1.5 tsp. Creole Shrub
1 tsp. simple syrup

Shaken, and strained into a cocktail glass, and topped with soda.

With the inherent tartness of the Plymouth, and the half ounce of lemon juice with nothing but a couple of teaspoons of sweetener to balance it out, I was sure it was going to be one tart beverage. Oh how wrong I was -- This little baby is a thing of beauty. It's just sweet enough to keep it from being too tart for human consumption, and makes for a cocktail that falls perfectly in my dryness range. In his book, Wondrich briefly debates the type of glass to use, and advises the cocktail as it prevents adding in too much soda. It's a suggestion that's right on the money, as there was just enough effervescence to open up the drink, but it was pretty easy to tell that it wouldn't have taken much more to drown out the complexity of the other ingredients.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Like to Watch

A little bit of video love for this fine Tuesday.

Recently, our very own H. Joseph Ehrmann (proprietor of Elixir and gad about town) made an appearance on View From the Bay. He helped the hosts whip up some of his cocktails -- sans booze, because I guess they thought drinking in the morning shouldn't be encouraged (Bah!). Thanks to the magic of the internet you can watch the segment here. I don't have to tell you to un-mock these right?

For those of you, like me, that weren't able to make it Tales of the Cocktail, The Liquid Muse brought some solace in the form of several videos. You can catch them all here, at Robert "Drink Boy" Hess' site. While you're there I'd recommend taking a look at his other pieces if you haven't already.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Field Trip -- Clock Bar

Last week, the single greatest Cocktail celebration in the whole of creation went down in New Orleans -- Tales of the Cocktail. It is an event horizon of cocktail geeks, bartenders, and boozy luminaries. Five days of liquor fueled mayhem, and savage delights that are not to be missed. Unless you're me. Who was here in San Francisco. Ed, however, dispatched himself to pick up my slack, and assuaged my sorrow by sending me texts like, "Just talked to Gary [Regan], it's going to be a good day.", and "At the Plymouth Sloe Gin tasting. Mmmmmmm, so good."

If that hadn't been enough, a cabal of the bloggers which form some of my daily reading were working to drive me mad by chronicling the festivites in all their rage inducing glory. Even though they have no idea who I am. That's how devious the conspiracy was. Fortunately I had the just opened Clock Bar (beware .pdf), with the masterful Marco Dionysus behind the bar, as my oasis. Even more fortunately I had a good friend in town who was staying at the St. Francis for business, and her time was constrained enough that we pretty much just hung out at the bar when she had a few spare hours.

I first poked my head in on their opening day, which happened to be my birthday -- I only had time for one drink before I had to run off and meet up with friends for what turned out to be a huge amount of whiskey, but I knew what I wanted -- The Wibble. I've been interested in seeing what the local mixologists would end up doing with the Plymouth Sloe Gin since it finally arrived at out shores, and I wasn't disapointed with this. Made with Plymouth Gin (London and Sloe), Grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and Crème de Mure, this was one hell of a drink that boasted a perfect balance between sweet, tart, and bitter. I was sad that I couldn't just stay there to drink myself silly, but knew I would have plenty more chances. Since, over the course of the following few days, I drank my way through half the menu I'll just say that not one of the drinks was anything short of superb, but there were a couple that really made me a happy monkey.

The Chartreuse Swizzle -- I'm a sucker for Green Chartreuse, and this one commanded me to order it. The name sounded familiar as well, but I assumed I was just keying into the swizzle part thanks to the Dolores Park Swizzle at Beretta having such a glorious hold on me. The drink was as good as it looked, and in talking to Marco about it, it turned out that I had actually heard of the drink before. The Velvet Falernum in the drink is a great foil for the Chartreuse -- It's even swizzled with a swizzle stick that Marco wouldn't let me steal.

The Pegu Cocktail -- This made me so fucking happy for two reasons. First, this was the cocktail I had a little over a year ago at The Pegu Club in New York that made me the cocktail geek I am today. Second, the only other Pegu I have had between then and now was truly awful. This one, however, took me right back to the first sip of that delicious beast on the East Coast. Goddamn.

Perhaps even better than the drinks is having Marco behind the bar. I had never gotten around to sampling his work at Tres Agave, but his reputation looms large, and it turns out to be well deserved. He's got the kind of infectious enthusiasm that makes for a complete experience. Even as people swarmed in (many of them not at all interested in having a cocktail, but rather wanted to talk to him about how they had read about the bar in the paper, and wasn't it such a nice place), and women vied for his attention (seriously, the ladies were totally on the D-Train. I can't believe I just wrote that.) he remained unflappable.

This is probably the best addition to the cocktail circuit here since Beretta, and being closer to my office makes it just that much better. They open daily at 4, and if last week is any indication I'd recommend ditching work a little early and getting there when they open so you can make sure to get a prime seat at the bar.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, July 11, 2008

37) The Laurel

1.5 oz. Right Gin
.5 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb
1 bar spoon Plymouth Sloe Gin
1 Pluot -- Pitted, and quartered
Green Chartreuse VEP

In a mixing glass, muddle the pluat with the Sloe Gin. Add the reset of the ingredients except the Chartreuse, shake with ice, then strain into a champagne coup rinsed with the Chartreuse. Garnish with a pluot wedge.

Well hell, we done gone and did it. It was one year ago today that Ed and I dipped our respective toes into the blog-o-dodecahedron. It's amazing to me how much we've learned, and how much this blog has changed. What once was just going to be a repository of a drink a week became a catch-all for my drink related babblings (babblings from Ed should be forthcoming. As soon as he figures out how to make a wireless router go). Once I realized actually making a drink every week was insane, the blogging OCD kicked in and I just had to get content up.

A huge thanks from us to all you sexy readers, and to those of you extra sexy folks who have dropped in the comments (you see that lurkers? The folks who comment are extra sexy). Without knowing you're out there, somewhere, the tedium that is often times blogging would have killed this thing ages ago.

For our anniversary cocktail, Ed and I decided to really dig in, and see if we couldn't get something extra special. Our experimenting stretched over several days, and we went through a fair number of variations. From different Gins, to various ingredients in then out (the first iteration, for example, had Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters). From the get go we were centered around the Gin (cause we loves it), and the pluots (a hybrid between a plum and an apricot which we didn't know were pluots until a random customer told us our thinking they were plums was delusional).

Pluots, I'm here to tell you, are flat out fantastic to work with. They yielded a good amount of nicely sweet juice, and the skin has a pleasant tang to it. In tasting them I began to get ever stronger flavor connections to the jammy side of Plymouth Sloe Gin. As we quit for the day, and talked about things we might try the next, I told Ed I'd bring some in so he could try it. He was as happy with it as I have been so in it went. We only used the small amount as the idea was to ever so slightly boost the pluot flavor without overwhelming things. I didn't expect it to work as well as it did, but was happy to be surprised. If you don't have Plymouth Sloe Gin (I know how hard it is to come by) resist the temptation to substitute the faux-sloe garbage that's floating around out there. That shit has no business being anywhere near a cocktail.

The VEP was partly a nod to the fact that we were making a bit of a celebratory drink, but also because I've found that the herbal bite of Chartreuse can add a nice backbone to a drink when used judiciously. It also had the benefit of adding a touch of sweetness to balance out the citrus. What was really interesting was that while we felt the Chartreuse was working is magic very undercover, it wasn't until we tried an iteration sans the VEP that there was a subtle, but non-trivial change in the drink. Long ago, bitters taught me the "you don't always notice it, but you'd know if it wasn't there" axiom of how ingredients can behave in a drink, but tasting it in action is always cool. If you're not rolling in dough, using the non-VEP Chartreuse should be just fine.

In the end we ended up with a drink we were extremely happy with. The flavors of the fruit mingle beautifully with the botanicals of the Gin with neither taking up too much room. The Chartreuse was, as I said, pretty much hidden, but you could feel something in the drink that was giving it just a bit of a nudge. If I hadn't been drinking permutations of this drink all weekend, I would have had another in a heartbeat.

It's been a great year for us, and we have high hopes that the next will be even better. As long as nobody says anything to me about Tales of the Cocktail.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

36) C2 Cooler

1.5 oz. Square One Cucumber Vodka
.5 oz. simple syrup
1 one inch slice of cucumber
3 lime wedges
2 lemon wedges
5 mint leaves

Muddle all of the ingredients save the Vodka in a pint glass, add the Vodka, and ice. Fill with soda water, and still until well chilled. Garnish with a slice of cucumber.

Sometimes, my work at the San Francisco Institute for Improved Drinking is easy. Like when I walk in the door, Ed is muddling away, and he says, "I got a drink!" It was an unusually torrid day for San Francisco, and a customer at the bar had asked Ed for "something refreshing". One of the recent creations of H., which has been fairly popular is the Cucumber Cooler -- Which calls for regular old Vodka. Ed figured it would fit the bill of a refreshing cocktail just fine. However, being no stranger to excess, decided that if he was gonna use cucumber, he was gonna use cucumber.

He decided to tweak the recipe just a bit, and reached for the Square One Cucumber Vodka. I was of a mind that perhaps it would be a bit of cucumber overload, but who am I to question Ed? A few muddles later, and he had a very happy patron on his hands. Seconds later the patron's friend was asking for one, and if that's not a sign of success I don't know what is. Of course I had to have one myself, you know, for research purposes.

To a bit of my surprise it was not the cucumber overload that I feared it may be. Rather the cucumber from the Vodka helped the flavor stand up to the citrus, and the dilution of the soda. It was indeed quite the refresher, and while I tend to be a little less, let's say -- tolerant, of Vodka than Ed, it was also quite tasty, and that's something I don't have much of a problem with.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lemon Coke Bitters

After my somewhat heretical experiment with red bull bitters I decided that I had enough of a proof of concept to try something a bit more tasty. When thinking about flavors one evening, I had a bit of a Proustian moment, and recalled a sort of faux-diner my folks used to take me to when I was growing up in Eugene. The food was fine, but the real treat were their lemon cokes. When the unrelentingly unrelenting heat of summer was forcing our skin to attempt to migrate north, they were the perfect refresher.

Lemon coke bitters? Yeah, I can do that. Or, as it turned out, not. It was pretty much one blunder after another. Two big mistakes were made which sunk the project.

1) I was still on the mixing of tinctures trail, and so procured a fair amount of lemons to make a tincture with. Wanting a very strongly lemon flavored result, I diced the lemon, and tossed the whole affair into the vodka. I knew that the juice from the pulp would dilute the affair, but figured an extra long steeping time would compensate, and I would still get plenty of bitter from the rind. Two months later taught me a valuable lesson -- Extra long may work, but extra long is extra long. What I had on my hands was pretty much a lemon heavy infused vodka. It did have some bitterness to it, and I hoped it would be enough. It wasn't.

2) To add some depth of flavor I decided to add a little of the cinnamon tincture I had left over from the first bitters experiment. Not following one of my favorite pieces of cooking advice (you can always add more, but you can't take any out) I overestimated the strength of the cinnamon, and obliterated what there was of the lemon.

On the up side of things, there was a nice hit of the coke flavor, and I felt that there was enough potential in the final product to think that I can learn from the mistakes. I'll definitely be trying this again as I'm pretty sure some slight tweaks can get me closer to what I'm looking for. I also picked up some wormwood with which to make another tincture should I require back-up bitterness assistance in the future.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Drinking on the Radio

This morning, on San Francisco's local chapter of NPR radio, they did an hour of cocktail talk! On the show was our very own H. Ehrmann of Elixir fame, King Cocktail Dale DeGroff, and Doctor Cocktail Ted Haigh. Thanks to the magic of the internet it's avalible now as a pod cast. Good stuff, and it's great to see cocktails get this kind of attention.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Future of Cocktails 2: Boozy Boogaloo

Following my recent missive regarding the state of the cocktail "fad", Professor Erik, CEO of Underhill Lounge, left some very thought provoking comments, and I decided to drag some of my response into the light of day.

One of the things he touched on is a classic -- Cost. With the economy doing less than stellar, it's not hard to imagine folks deciding that $9-10 for a drink is way more than they are willing to pay. I don't, however, think that it is a straight issue of price. Rather I think it is an issue of perceived value -- America thrives on value, and value over the last decade or so has come to be embodied in price vs. size. A double cheese burger from McDonalds is not a good burger. But sell it for a buck, and it becomes fucking delicious. Conversely, a lot of people will look at a cocktail that's 3-4 ounces, look at the $9-10 price tag, and see nothing but a money sink.

Complicating things, is the issue of quality vs. cost. While people are quite comfortable with the idea that if they are paying more for a meal out, they will be receiving (hopefully) a meal of higher quality, this is an idea that hasn't really taken a deep hold on a great many of today's imbibers. This is due to drinkers not thinking of cocktails in culinary terms -- That a drink made correctly, using quality ingredients, is going to be substantially better than a drink thrown together with whatever's cheapest, and the price of those quality ingredients, and bartender talent make the finished product worth the extra few bucks. Boiled down to its simplest, it's a mentality of; it's just a bunch of booze in a glass. What's the big deal?

All that said, one doesn't have to look too hard to see plenty of people packing into cocktail lounges drinking away with gusto. This seeming paradox links into another really interesting point Erik brought up -- that he's concerned that San Francisco is "becoming a sort of theme park for rich foodies..." The idea of gentrification in San Francisco is, to put it bluntly, huge. In a city where even middle class wages can require making concessions to keep afloat, and the idea of owning a home is a running gag for many, the influence of money on the social landscape is almost constantly being put under the microscope. It's a fair number of these rich foodies (many of them surprisingly young, if my informal system of looking at the drinkers around me has any validity) which are helping to prop up the current rise in the popularity of cocktails.

Don't get me wrong -- Having money, and an appreciation for food doesn't make anybody inherently bad, but many of these "wealthy foodies" also fall under the category of scenesters. Their interest lays more in being in on the latest "thing" that everybody is talking about. Because these are the people with purchasing power, these are the people that (even subconsciously) upscale bars are going to cater too (and who would blame them). In the more mild of cases, it means keeping an impressively large stock of spirits which ties up cash in inventory requiring higher prices. The more crass cases, and the ones which are more detrimental to the cocktail movement, involves bars churning out $15 Red Bull/Vodka, justifying it because there's a DJ, and you had to wait in line to get in, and convincing those people that they are tasting what the cocktail revival is about.

Eventually there will be a tipping point where those individuals will decide that cocktails are not longer the in thing, and take their money elsewhere. When that happens, one can only hope that enough people were swayed by the power of a truly good drink that the cocktail renaissance will turn out to be more than just a fad. This seems like an awful lot of hand wringing about booze in a glass, but nobody ever said it'd easy to be a cocktail geek.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

35) Demon Water Punch

1 oz. Zaya Rum
1 oz. Rhum Neisson Rhum Agricole
.5 oz. Rhum Clement Creole Shrub
.5 oz. Lime juice
Hand full of blueberries
Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Muddle the blueberries in a shaker, add the rest of the ingredients, and shake until well chilled. Double strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice, and top with Ginger Beer.

As San Francisco is wont to do, the weather leading into this last weekend went from blazing to frigid in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, as I strode into Elixir on Sunday, my mind was still in the tropics. What this meant for me is that I wanted to work with Rum, and I wanted to work with different rums together. Kind of like a total bastard of a tiki idea (because I have yet to really delve into the tiki area of drinks). I was most interested in seeing what sort of interplay we could get from a molasses-based Rum, and a cane sugar juice-based Agracole.

As we talked about the idea, Ed pulled up a bottle of Zaya rum, and said we should give it whirl. One taste, and I was firmly on his side. That's some damn fine stuff. He also thought the addition of Creole Shrub would not only add a bit of brightness, and sweetness to counter the lime juice, it would be more Rum! Then we began combing through the fruit that Elixir had on hand -- At first we were tempted to use some fantastic plums that had just come in, but decided that they were perhaps a bit too mild for what we were using. When we hit blackberries we knew we had found our baby -- They looked great, and tasted even better.

As for the ginger beer, it's something I've been getting a bit obsessive about. It's never been a beverage that I much cared for, but have found that it can be a great addition to a cocktail. One gets the nice fizz that one would from soda, but it brings its own spicy bit to the party. I was somewhat worried it might be a bit much for the drink, but as it turned out we didn't end up needing to add too much (thank you Collins glass!).

It turned out to be one of those drinks that Ed and I were especially happy with. It's smooth as hell, with the ginger and blackberries hitting up front then giving way to the notes of both rums. Last Friday's weather, some meat on the grill, and six of these, and I'd be happy as a monkey in a peanut machine. By happy, of course, I mean stupid drunk.

Blog bonus! Much to my embarrassment, I haven't explored Rum nearly as much as I'd like. This is partly due to my unending obsession with Gin and Whiskey, but also because Rum holds over me a strange sort of intimidation level. Which is why I wasn't familiar at all with the Zaya Rum. A bit of research revealed to me that it's a bit pricey, and is much more a sipping Rum rather than the sort of thing one would want to obscure in a cocktail (though it sure made it tasty!). So with that, I have two questions for you, our dear readers.

1) What might any of you with more Rum expertise recommend as a less expensive (less heretical?) Rum to use in this drink?

2) It's about time I get my Rum game going. Anybody have any recommendations as to a good cocktail place to start? The obvious choice is Forbidden Island; however, since I am lacking a car, and Rum education is the sort of thing that makes driving a bit of a bad idea, somewhere in San Francisco would be nice.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


It has just come to my attention that Mudpuddle Books is currently offering several reprints of great vintage cocktail books. This is huge news to those of us not in a position to shell out the dough required to get our grubby hands of a copy of these lost gems.

One of the first things any cocktail geek begins to eye (well, maybe after stocking up the liquor cabinet) are books. Books that go beyond just being a laundry list of recipes (though I love me my Difford's), and act as historical sign posts to where our beloved quaffs came from. As I have been increasingly interested in really digging into the past (thanks in no small part to this guy) to be better informed of the present, I can't wait to spend me a paycheck on these invaluable works.

Hmmm -- Think I'm gonna need another paycheck.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kumquat Gastrique

It was quite some time ago that I began to hear rumblings of mixologists beginning to turn from things such as house made syrups for flavoring and beginning to experiment with other, more culinary, agents of flavor. One of the ones which I found particularly interesting was gastriques (essentially a reduction of vinegar, sugar, and fruit -- A fairly versitel sauce that tends to show up most paired with meats).

At this point you're probably thinking, as I did at first, that cocktails and vinegar are two things that very much belong on opposite sides of the room. But as I thought more about it (and read some compelling writing on the subject) the idea became less of one which made me wince in tangy pain. I began to imagine that the difference between a gastrique and citrus juice wouldn't be monumentally different. It quickly become one of the many booze related DYI projects that get put on the shelf to be promptly forgotten.

That changed when I went to the finale shindig for San Francisco cocktail week at Absinthe. One of the drinks on the menu for that evening contained a cherry gastrique. It added a really interesting, and tasty element to the drink, and I was determined to dust off the idea and see what I could come up with.

For a while there had been a rasher of kumquats rolling about Elixir (Ed and I deployed some for one of our experiments), and they were one of my childhood favorite fruits so I snagged some and took them home to serve an extended tour of duty on my kitchen stove. Generally, gastriques are made using "soft" fruits that will boil away into juice or just fruit juice -- Since I was uncertain that the kumquats would really boil away due to their tough skin, and there was no way I was going to juice kumquats, I gave the whole thing a jump start by halving the kumquats and macerating them in one and a half cups vinegar over night.

The next day I chucked the lot into a sauce pan and added in a cup of sugar. Then began the long process of reduction. I started with a low heat until the sugar was dissolved, and incorporated into the vinegar, then I cranked up the heat to get a good boil going (let me tell you, there's nothing like the smell of boiling vinegar to wake you up in the morning!). I let it reduce down until it was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, jarred it, and tossed it in the fridge to cool down.

When thinking about how to debut it, I almost immediately thought that it might make a nice variation on the Daiquiri. I decided to use the Scarlet Ibis I recently procured as I thought its higher proof would stand a better chance against the more pronounced bite of the vinegar, and decided to omit the sugar as there was plenty in the gastrique itself. Stabbing a bit in the dark I went for two ounces of Rum to one ounce of the gastrique.

Well, it sure was tart. The gastrique actually worked well in the drink, giving it a nice bite, and playing well off the rum, but it did seem a bit much. I also wasn't really getting a lot of the kumquat. A quick tasting of the gastrique on its own revealed that I had gone too light on the kumquats. I had used them sparingly as they are a potent flavor, and I was afraid that too many might lend too much of a bitter edge to the finished product. I went for another round, and this time went for 2.5 ounces of Rum to .5 ounces of the gastrique. This result was not as good, with the gastrique just not working its magic as much.

On balance I think I have to call my first gastrique experience a bust. I definitely could have used more kumquats, and I think that equal parts vinegar to sugar (which, I believe, is generally the method) may have created a better balanced product. I still want to play around with it using Gin, and perhaps Rye, but overall it's safe to say I've got some more work ahead of me in sussing out how to really get the most out of it. Fortunately, with summer here there's a ton of great produce just calling out to me for more gastrique fun!

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Innovation and the Future of Cocktails

America thrives on fads. Market mavens, and early adopters jump on trends like fleas with thronging crowds following dutifully behind screaming, "Me too! Me too!" And just as quickly as the star of popularity rises, it falls -- One white trash beer is shunned in favor of another. Backs are turned on that really cool Grasscore band from Rhode Island because, you know, everybody likes them now. Next thing you know everybody's ironically drinking wine coolers, and wearing Hello Kitty belts around their chests. Amongst this swirl of pop cultural miasma, like gummi bears resting in their frozen yogurt tomb, is the cocktail.

There is no denying that a large part of the current cocktail resurgence is due to its status as a fad. Certainly it is also being driven by the ongoing "foodie" movement, but even that movement is fraught with a number of sub-fads (foams anybody?). Being a fad, it is destined to be forsaken when the next big thing comes stalking through the land (could the recent rash of Belgian beer focused pubs here in San Francisco, and the seemingly increasing press being given to craft beer be a harbinger?). Even at my tender age (would you believe I just turned 21? Anybody? No? Fine.) I have always been philosophically ok with this. I bought garbage pail kids, I owned a hypercolor shirt, I was even down with the McD.L.T.. I know how the kids roll.

Pragmatically I'm selfish, I don't want to lose even a single place at which I can currently get a great drink. I don't want to see those places that are squeezing the bandwagon by serving swill and getting away with calling it a cocktail by charging crazy prices, and having a DJ on the weekends, fuck things up for the rest of us. I hate change and I love deliciousness. What does this have to do with innovative (the house cocktails which take up most of the menus at many drink joints) cocktails? I think they may be unintentionally contributing to the impending death of the "fad". This isn't a big reason, and there are certainly numerous other factors (this missive was even longer as I digressed into the effects of food trends over the last 10 years, as well as domestic attitudes to drinking in general), but it's one that I think is interesting.

Since I feel a bit like I might be treading on shifty sands, and often when I try and gingerly pick my way through an issue that might be sensitive, let me get one thing out of the way now. I love what's currently going on in the cocktail scene. I love the use of seasonal ingredients, the application of savory elements, the freedom that mixologists have to go crazy and apply their art. Nothing makes me happier than when a bar tender I trust asks me, "You mind if I try something out on you?" Hell, sitting at home right now I've got a failed attempt at lemon-coke bitters, and some kumquat gastrique I'm dying to play around with this weekend.

With that enormous caveat out of the way, here's the thing -- When I go out to grab a cocktail I see plenty of people happily imbibing drinks off the specialty drink menus, and I wonder how many of these people will be in the least bit interested in cocktails a year or two from now. Eventually many people are going to get tired of things like Thai basil, and green cardamom syrup. When that happens will those people fall back to Manhattans and Daiquiris? I'm not so sure they will, because for them a Manhattan is something their Grandpa drank, and never had made correctly anyway, and if it doesn't come out of a slushy machine it can't be a Daiquiri right?

Want to go on an analogy with me? Come on, it'll be fun! When I was 12, after a summer spent watching cooking shows on my local PBS station, I decided I wanted to give cooking a try. The first dish I made was chicken piccata. It wasn't very good, but it wasn't so bad that it made me want to give up kitchen experiments. I raided my mother's cookbooks, and began to acquire my own, faithfully following the recipes I found with painful precision. As my confidence (and dare I say skill) increased, I realized I had jumped past many of the basics, and back to basics I went. I learned how to make a perfect steak, roast a chicken, make the major sauces and learn their myriad uses, etc. Learning those basics hugely informed how I looked at the things I made after.

I would posit that this analogy can be applied to a number of the people who are fueling the current cocktail scene. They are, at least potentially, the cocktail equivalent of foodies, but they have jumped into the deep end, and as the intensity of the trend wanes will they explore the basics and stick around or will they drift off to some other far flung place? Perhaps more importantly, given that it isn't the job of a bartender or owner to force anybody into drinking any particular drink, is there anything that can be done? Does it even really matter?

Having spent an insane amount of time trying to get this thought on paper, I'm still not sure.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All Aboard the Wondrich Bandwagon!

The news has been racing around the cocktail blog-o-dome for the last couple of days, so this is probably not news to y'all, but cocktail guru and raconteur David Wondrich just took home the James Beard award for best wine and spirits writing for his book Imbibe.

Besides being a well deserved accolade for a very nice guy, I think this is a pretty good sign for the cocktail boom overall. My views on the boom can best be described as optimistically pessimistic (elaboration to come if the 1000 words I've currently got can coalesce into a cogent concept), but seeing Mr. Wondrich's book take the gold over two books covering wine makes me think that perhaps cocktails aren't on quite the shaky ground I tend to think they are. Hopefully this win will get more people reading the book, and gaining a better insight/respect for the mighty cocktail.

For any cocktail geek this is a fantastic resource, but it's also a great read for anybody. He never gets overly academic, and his frequently witty, almost conversational style is pretty much perfect. If you haven't already picked it up, it's not too late to redeem yourself!

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Best Way To Get Your Ego Bruised

Several months ago a friend told me that he had offered our blog up to the decaying Gods of print (7x7 magazine to be precise) as fodder for their upcoming "best of" edition. I thought it was kind of him to do so, but suspected they would find our somewhat regular swearing perhaps not quite the fare for their demographic. So imagine our surprise when we were eventually contacted by somebody at 7x7 telling us that we had been selected to be in the issue. Even though we they asked us if we could give them a call to gather some background information, I continued to think there was some sort shenanigans going on.

More surprise was in store for us when we got on the phone, and the person doing the research seemed to have actually, well, researched. She asked us about specific cocktails we had come up with, the abomination that was my red bull bitters, and even what our "philosophy" was. Not having a philosophy I had to make something up on the spot, then change my answer when Ed came up with something smarter. It seemed much more likely that we weren't being had, but I was still cautious as I'm a raging pessimist. Nevertheless, I started spreading the good news, and getting pretty excited.

I wouldn't characterize Ed and I as being particularly egotistical, but blogging is pretty much a labor of love, and not as easy as it looks. So, even though I'm not sure we're quite "best of" materiel right now, the idea of some outside validation, and exposure to the masses was a pretty cool idea. Besides, when we did the interview the woman was unable to tell us exactly what we would be the best of. It seemed that it would ultimately be an editorial decision -- That right there is a damn fine hook. We paid for the whole seat, but we were only going to be using the edge!

Neither Ed nor myself knew the date when the magazine would hit the stands, so I kept a vigilant eye out on my local news stand. We were rewarded last Saturday when I finally spotted a bright, shiny copy in the racks. I grabbed a copy on my way out to see Ed at Elixir, my mind racing at what very nice things they might have to say about us. Settled into the bar, I began searching for our entry. And searched -- We were nowhere to be found. As our searching became fevered, we began to get desperate. "Maybe we're in the fashion section. You know, best thing to drink after buying a ten thousand dollar hand bag or something." But no, search as we might, strain our eyes on the small print, there was no escaping the fact that we had been left on the cutting room floor.

While it was kind of disappointing to not make it, it's hard not to be gracious in defeat. We're very much babes in the cocktail blog-o-ball, and as they say, it's nice to have just been nominated.

Hell, now that I've written this, it'll probably turn out that we ended up on some obscure page which was the only one we didn't look at.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Field Trip - Enrico's

When the good Mr. Nepove recently informed me that not only had he revamped the cocktail menu at the venerable Enrico's, but was stepping back behind the bar, I knew I was going to have to make a trip to North Beach to see what his hands had wrought. As I looked over the menu (not yet updated on the website unfortunately) I was interested to find that it was well rounded for the Enrico's clientele. With its location and history, Enrico's draws a pretty mixed crowd of old school regulars, hipsters, and tourists. The menu contains a spectrum of drinks so that most types will find something they like (or feel safe with), but all still look to retain a sense of well thought out execution. But enough of my prattling -- On to the drinks!

I decided to start off with a Hemmingway Daiquiri. I'm a bit over the moon for maraschino liqueur, and am quite the fan of the Daiquiri, so this variation is a favorite. The building of the drink was halted midway with a growl from David. "Let me guess," I said. "You're out of Luxardo?" After a bit of searching around, he confirmed that such was indeed the case. I decided it would be a shame to waste the already poured booze so I decided to improvise and asked him if he would mind throwing in some St. Germain. While I was expecting a very different kind of drink, I thought it would at least be tasty. I was wrong. St. Germain is just too much for this drink -- The floral notes of it clash with the grapefruit, and the rum ends up just sort of lazing about like debutante on a fainting couch.

Looking over the other drinks for something to soothe my battered tongue, I lingered for a bit on the Basil Gimlet. Savory drinks have been popping up on San Francisco cocktail menus for a while now, and while I like that trend I've never been that interested in the likes of this drink. I decided that I was just being a dick about the whole thing and went for it. A nice touch for this particular drink is that the option of Vodka vs. Gin is offered. I, of course, went for the Gin, and was glad I went for the drink as well. The basil worked well as an earthy foundation for the botanicals of the gin, and the lime juice gave the drink a nice, tart, brightness.

As I was working on my Gimlet David started talking about some drinks he and Duggan had been working on at Cantina a few days prior. This led to David musing on how he had recently thought about making a variation on the Ramos Gin Fizz, using Rye and Absinthe to create a sort of Sazerac Fizz. As the day before I had been talking to Ed about how I was kind of getting the urge for a Ramos, I offered up myself to the altar of giving it a shot. It was certainly a tasty looking beverage, but it was missing a little something. A couple of dashes of orange bitters helped quite a bit -- There was still just a little something missing, but it was damn tasty, and one that I'll certainly be ordering again.

After the "Sazerac" Fizz, I was in the Devil Hour -- That place where I've had enough cocktails, and it's probably a good time to go, but the pull of one more for the road is great. Having no willpower whatsoever, I went for that one for the road. It was a pretty easy decision to make as I noticed there was a Blackberry Cobbler (of the Gin variety) on the menu. Cobblers aren't really something you see a lot of these days, so I was pretty down for it. This was one hell of a tasty beverage -- The blackberries worked great with the gin (not too surprising) and was an excellent way to finish off the evening.

After that, it was off to home. Even though I really wanted a Sazerac.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Recently I got the notion in my head that it might be interesting to try deconstructing beer via such things as infusions, bitters, tinctures, etc. and rebuilding the holy brew in my own graven cocktail image. Of course, I had to bounce ideas off Rob (obvious piece of advice I almost certainly would have overlooked -- Don't even think about trying to buy hops), and in the midst of our off and on conversations I came across a spirit of some non-trivial interest.

Essential Spirits, based just a stones train ride from San Francisco in Mountain View, is producing a little something they call Bierschnaps. They brew their own California style Pale Ale, and then distil it into a spirit they claim is similar to Vodka. I really hope this is just marketing speak as it seems a shame to go to all the trouble to brew your own beer only to distill it into flavorless dreck. What really interests me most about Bierschnaps is that beer and whiskey begin their lives the same, so the idea of a whiskey, turned into a beer, then into a different spirit grips my heart like some sort of grippy thing.

I looked over their site to see where I might procure some of this delightful dram, but was unable to locate any mention of outlets. A quickly answered e-mail to the company turned up some bad news -- It seems nobody in the city stocks Bierschnaps. The closest place for me to get it is Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, but I don’t really see myself BARTing out there. I'm also pretty hesitant to mail order something which runs about $35 and could be a total bust. I know I should be a bit more adventurous, but for those of us on a fairly tight booze budget adventure isn't our middle name (it's Ferdinand by the way).

So the questions of the day are these -- Has anybody out there tried this product? If so, what did you think? More importantly might any locals know any bars that have this on their shelves that I might avail myself of a taste?

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

34) The Tiberius Cocktail

2 oz. Hendrick's Gin
1 oz. Square One Cucumber Vodka
.5 oz. Lillet Blanc
Two dashes Regan's Orange Bitters

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Stir until well chilled, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cucumber wheel.

Upon my fresh arrival at the bar, Ed was quick to call my attention to a newly acquired bottle of Square One Cucumber Vodka which he proclaimed surprisingly tasty. Now, I'm pretty wary of flavored Vodkas as I am generally of the opinion that it's always a better idea to muddle the flavor into your drink rather than use infusions (exceptions, of course, abound). Also, having been the victim of curiosity once, and just having to try some Seagrams Wild Grape Vodka, I can tell you that almost always what these "people" think of as "flavor" is clearly an attempt by the Mole-People to soften us up in advance of their impending invasion.

There are, however, some exceptions -- Most notably the infused Vodkas being made by Hanger One, and, as it turns out, the Cucumber Vodka being made by Square One. Having had house infused cucumber Vodka before, I knew that if they did it right they would have a nice product on their hands as I've always found cucumber to be a particularly refreshing note. Thankfully it turned out to be pretty damn tasty.

My immediate thought was that it would be interesting to try it in a version of the Vesper. One of the things that has always irked me about that drink is that there are two delicious ingredients, and one thing that doesn't have anything to offer. As we turned our attention to which Gin we would use, Ed came up with an idea that you've probably already figured out. Why not go all cucumber and use the delicious Hendrick's?

The end result was somewhat middle of the road -- It wasn't so bad that it fell into the category of being dumped down the sink never to be spoken of (or blogged about) again and had its tasty merits, yet at the same time it really wasn't that great. The addition of the bitters definitely helped to lift the drink (thank you bitters!), and it wasn't the cucumber overload that I had worried about, however it still had problems. The Lillet was pretty much lost in the explosion of flavors, and the overall drink just felt kind of fussy, and missing that certain something.

So -- Not terrible, but needs that magical little nudge that we just weren't able to pin down. If any of y'all have any ideas for a tweak by all means sock it to us.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

San Francisco Cocktail Week: This is What Could Possibly Go Wrong

Monday was the closing event for Cocktail Week - An evening of drinks and eats at the venerated Absinthe. I got there fairly early which afforded me the opportunity to get a good look at the drink menu figuring I would need to choose my drinks wisely in order to be able to end the evening with my wits about me. Fortunately for the blog's content level, I didn't so much as recognize a single person in the room (Ed had to work at his stupid job), and after a brief consultation with my attorney, decided that I would need to try all the cocktails.

Starting off was easy when I spotted the ingredients in the SR-1660 - Cachaça, Aperol, bitters, rosemary, and cherry gastrique. It was the gastrique that really caught my eye as I have a tendency to view cocktails from a bit of a culinary angle so ideas like this are always guaranteed to make me take a second look. The use of vinegar in cocktails also seems to be a trend that is getting ready to bust out, and having not had a vinegarized drink up till then it seemed like fate had commanded me. Frankly I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about this drink. It tasted quite good, and the cherry gastrique was front and center which lent it a very nice tart cherry element. On the other hand, I didn't really get a sense of what the other ingredients were doing in the drink.

I've become quite a fan of Aperol, and thought it would be an interesting counterpoint to the gastrique, but never got a sense of its presence in the overall flavor. Likewise, the rosemary seemed to be nowhere to be found. The thing is, a good cocktail is alchemy in a glass - The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and as such I really can't bring myself to think that the drink would have been as good as it was had one or more of those parts been missing or replaced. This is one I'd definitely like to play with, and see how it's affected by the removal of various parts.

Next up was The Darb cocktail - I had actually seen this recipe (Gin, Apricot Liqueur, Dry Vermouth, and lemon juice) a while back while browsing through The Savoy Cocktail Book, and was happy to get a chance to give it a go. I liked this one quite a bit even though it was a bit dryer than I normally like in my drinks, but that's really just a personal taste thing. The Gin and the liqueur paired beautifully with the sweet, fruity notes of the liqueur, providing a great compliment to the botanicals of the Gin.

Then it was off to try The Imbibe Cocktail. This one was an eyebrow raising brew of Scotch, blackberry liqueur, and Xocolatl Mole Bitters - My eyebrows were raised for two reasons. First, I've never really been that big a fan of Scotch based drinks. I find that in almost all cases I would rather be drinking the Scotch straight. Second, I have heard much about the Bitterman's bitters, but they are unfortunately not available yet, so the chance to see them in action was right up my alley.

I'm happy to report that this turned out to be my favorite drink of the evening. The three ingredients worked together so perfectly it was insane. The Scotch blended smoothly with the liqueur taking some of the emphasis off the Scotch (a good thing for my palate) while complimenting the complex Whiskeyness (which is totally a word). Most surprising was the subtle chocolate kick the bitters gave. I was kind of worried that the chocolate element would be out of place here, but it meshed with the blackberry without being too overbearing. I need more of these. Like now.

I should probably take a moment to also mention that I might have been using Sazeracs as a pallet cleanser. I can assure you all that it's not my fault. It's just, well, I love me some Sazerac, and they were just so damn perfectly delicious. And really, all this drinking wasn't for me. It was for you, our dear and much beloved readers.

Winding down the evening (finally!) was the Mexican't. To be honest I was pretty much over scribbling down notes in my little black booze book, but I can tell you the main components in the drink were Partida Tequila, and Kubler Absinthe. The Kubler was very much the dominant flavor in this drink, which for me wasn't a plus. Not being much of a fan of anise, Absinthe is the sort of thing that I like in very small amounts in my cocktails (see Sazerac above), though I should mention that the St. George Absinthe is an exception. That stuff blows me away. Though in hindsight I probably shouldn't have had a glass of it that evening.

I can't imagine anybody is still reading this, but I hope they are as I have a couple of sundry things to talk about before signing off.

1) The food provided by Chef Jamie Lauren was great. If I weren't too pretty for prison I would kidnap her, "Misery" style, just to have steady access to the best deep fried pickles IN THE UNIVERSE.

2) I'd like to offer my apologies to those folks upon whom, near the end of the evening, I inflicted Hurricane Alex on. Thank you for not punching me in the stomach.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.