May
08
2013

An Enthusiasts guide to DIY bitters: vol. 1, part 2

—Christian

Three weeks passed and it’s time for step three! First I strained the liquid out through cheesecloth. This initial infusion is very strong on the tongue. There are strong overtones of cardamom with definite notes of clove and citrus (ed. note: the Imbibe recipe calls for coriander, but the author was not 100% sober when he put everything together. Some mistakes may have been made). There is also a big punch of bitter: sour/tart from the dandelion root and deep from the gentian. The wormwood appears to provide a smoothness, like tea. The mint is subtle, at best, although there is a slight menthol effect present. Ginger appears to have been omitted (see note above). Read more »


Apr
17
2013

An Enthusiasts guide to DIY bitters: vol. 1, part 1

—Christian

I’ve thought about making bitters for a while now. So I was quite excited when the Jan/Feb issue of Imbibe magazine (thanks, Amy & Phil!) included a recipe for grapefruit bitters. I’d already been toying with gentian flavors in the form of Salers Gentaine aperitif and really want to understand the potential of bittering agents better. What better a way than to directly work with them myself?

The fundamentals of bitters are essentially the same. Combine bitter things with herbs, spices and other flavorful components in high-proof alcohol and let them sit for a period of time. These bitter things tend to be the roots of flowers, with the gentian root being perhaps the most recognizable (think of the bitterness in Campari, Angostura and Fernet). Salers is a bottling of just that flavor cut with a little sugar, and will give you the full depth of flavor the root has to offer. The recipe (below) also calls for dandelion root, wormwood and whole coriander—among other things, so I headed over to Rainbow Grocery, the SF goldmine for random stuff in jars, to stock up. Read more »


Dec
10
2012

An Enthusiast’s guide to gifts for drunks

—Josey

When you’re known for drinking a lot, or when your entire public identity is say, based on the fact that you write an alcohol blog, people tend to be afraid to go on pub crawls with you or come to your house (although in retrospect that second one might have nothing to do with the drinking…).

Anyways, my point is this: You receive almost exclusively as gifts bottles and bottles and bottles of booze. I swear I’m not complaining—pretty please don’t ever stop giving me booze!—but let’s say you want to stand out in the eyes of a special drunken someone, or maybe you want to give your favorite drunk a present that will take them longer than 34 minutes to ingest (huh, that didn’t come out right). In any case, here are some solid gift ideas:

Drinkwel: Since you don’t have magic powers and can’t exactly banish from your favorite drunks’ mornings forever their wretched hangovers, we suggest buying them Drinkwel. We’ve written extensively about our favorite hangover-alleviating vitamin, and if you’ve partied with us, we’ve probably tried to force-feed it to you (those were just vitamins, I swear!)

Read more »


May
17
2012

An Enthusiasts guide to technology: SceneTap

—Christian

We live in the future. As if there was any doubt before.

SceneTap isn’t new. It’s been around since last year. But it is finally coming west to the great city by the Bay. Launching tomorrow in San Francisco, SceneTap uses facial recognition technology (captured by video cameras) to determine the age and gender of patrons entering bars with the system installed. What this means is that at any time you can use their app (download here) to get a headcount, along with the demographic composition of the crowd at your local watering hole. Which is great if you’re sick of dealing with all the recently graduated coeds in 6″ heels and tight dresses. Or, conversely, you’re seeking out that sort of company.
Read more »


Apr
20
2012

An Enthusiasts guide to cocktails: Negroni

—Christian

I’ve had a love affair with the Negroni for a few months now. Hailing from Italy, this is the seminal drink involving Campari. The more popular legend has it that one day in 1919 Count Camillo Negroni, living and drinking in Florence, asked his bartender, Fosco Scarcelli, to give his usual Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth and soda water) a little extra kick. Fosco obligingly substituted gin for the soda, and an eternal classic was born. The less popular legend is that the French general Pascal Olivier Count de Negroni invented the drink “to aid digestion.”
Read more »


Mar
26
2012

An Enthusiast’s guide to cocktails: the Bloody Mary

—Josey

This is an excerpt from my post “Drinks with Walter,” first published on the Landor.com blog.


Besides being a socially acceptable way to imbibe in the morning, one of the beauties of the Bloody is that it can be customized easily to fit each drinker’s taste.

Drinkers in the states didn’t fill their glasses with vodka much until after the Cold War. During the late ’50s and ’60s, vodka became popular—mostly because of vodka cocktails. Businessmen, mistresses, and housewives alike sipped sweet Moscow Mules and tart Greyhounds—and calmed their hangovers with Bloody Marys. Read more »


Mar
17
2012

An Enthusiast’s guide to bar crawls

—Josey

Have you ever been in your local pub and seen a group of people walk in, drink, and then leave together, excitedly proclaiming how awesome the previous establishment was and how thrilled they are to soon visit the next one, and wondered to yourself: “How do I get in on that?”

Well today is your lucky day.

In honor of our Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Drunken Monkeyshines (now with 10% more flimflam and claptrap) here’s our guide to throwing a bitchin’ bar crawl. (If you attend the Parade and have a horrible time, you have only this guide to blame for your misery.)

Read more »


Feb
16
2012

An Enthusiast’s guide to aging whiskey: First taste

—Josey

Our whiskey has been barreling for nearly one month, so we decided to taste it and toast to Valentine’s Day. The logic being that we made the whiskey so it’s like, our baby or something. This whiskey-baby thing we created together. And it’s been maturing in its wooden barrel-womb for almost a month, which makes it dangerously premature. Ok, we know this analogy is total crap. We get it. We know—total crap. Also, creepy. Also, Valentine’s was two days ago. You can probably already tell, but we’re totally on top of our shit.


Read more »


Jan
20
2012

An Enthusiast’s guide to aging whiskey: Barreling

—Josey

Last night, Christian and I tried barreling for the first time.

No, not like that you pervs. That’s for our other blog.

As we discussed in our first whiskey-aging post, we finally accomplished something at Costco even more important than eating thrice our recommended daily sodium intake in samples of Tostino’s pizza rolls and bites of Aidells’s chicken apple sausage. We purchased (!!) our very own all-in-one home whiskey barreling kit, made by the Woodinville Whiskey Company, a small-batch distillery in Washington state.

Per the kit instructions, we first filled the wood barrel with hot water and left it alone to leak—and eventually expand so it would stop leaking—for several days. After this and a good hot water rinse, we were ready to funnel in the white whiskey. OMG, not that kind of funneling.


Read more »


Jan
10
2012

An Enthusiast’s guide to aging whiskey: Preparation

–Christian

We recently purchased the Woodinville Age Your Own Whiskey Kit. Shockingly well priced at $40 at Costco ($150 online), we would have been crazy not to purchase this product.

Woodinville Whiskey Company is a small-batch distillery out of Washington state producing bourbon (with a rye on the way), white dog, and surprisingly enough, vodka. They also offer what I believe is the first all-in-one home barreling kit. Included are a 2L chard oak barrel; two fifths of 110 proof, barreling strength bourbon mash white whiskey; a funnel and two tasting glasses. It also came with a handy little booklet that explains the whole process. Read more »


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