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.