May
24
2013

Gin tasting with Kevin Diedrich

—Christian

Gin-with-Kevin-Diedrich

One of the perks of working for a large hospitality company is having access to talent across the network. In this case, Kevin Diedrich, the bar manager and lauded bartender of Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen. If you’ve met him, you know that Kevin is the nicest guy in the world and an expert in the field, so I was very excited when I found out he was going to be doing a gin tasting at Grand Cafe. Here is what I learned.
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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 »


Mar
09
2013

Really old booze. Or: What you find when you help your 94-year-old grandmother empty her liquor cabinet

—Marissa

My family has a bit of a morbid streak and likes to way over-prepare for people’s imminent deaths. My grandmother, for instance, is 94 years old and as fabulous as ever. She actually performed better than I did on a stress test at the cardiologist. Sorry, pride, you lose this round. Anyway, ever since she became the last living of six children a couple years ago, she’s been cleaning out her house so that we’ll have less stuff to throw away when she dies. Giving away jewelry, tossing old Christmas decorations—things of that sort. This last time my sister and I went home, we had the lovely task of cracking open the liquor cabinet.

Now this liquor cabinet probably hadn’t been opened since before I was born. Her husband used to be an alcoholic (a real one, not the enthusiast type), but gave it up some time in the late 70s if my calculations are correct. And my grandma, while she loves herself a glass of White Zinfandel, isn’t really the type to chug hard liquor on her own. There was a lot of dust and weird smells in that cabinet and, sadly, every single bottle—except for the pomegranate grenadine—was open. We took them all out, sniffed them, lost some brain cells and some lung function, and poured them down the drain. If you ever get the chance to take a whiff of 50-year-old rum that’s been chilling in a cabinet unsealed and half-drunk, OMG DON’T DO IT. Seriously. 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 »


Nov
03
2011

The home bar: Part 2

—Christian

Last week we talked about the bar itself. In Part Two of the home bar series we look at the various tools of the trade. While you can definitely get by with a basic shaker, strainer and bar spoon, there are few more fun toys that will make your life easier and increase your potential repertoire. Take a look and outfit the bar to fit your needs.


Jiggers

Jigger

Slanted jigger

While I’ve seen people rant on blogs and message boards about how it’s a sign of weakness to see a bartender use a jigger, the flat truth is that when making a cocktail more complex than gin and tonic (do those mix?), you want to be pretty accurate with your measurements or else you’re going to end up with an imbalanced drink. Having nothing to do with Jay Z, the classic jigger is metal with a cup on either side (they come in various combinations of volume ranging from .5oz to 2oz). You can also get the slanted jigger with volume lines which is a little more versatile. (And just to note, a standard shot glass is just over 1.5oz when topped off.) Read more »


Oct
28
2011

The home bar: Part 1

—Christian

Every September San Francisco is host to a wondrous occasion know as Cocktail Week. Classes, lectures and bar-hosted events are held all around the city. This past cocktail week your humble Enthusiasts attended a seminar on a topic that has always been of great interest to me: the home bar.

Our gracious hosts were none other than Jon Santer­—founder of Bourbon and Branch (among many other prolific San Francisco bars) and David Nepove, aka Mister Mojito—currently a bar advisor by trade, but a long-time San Francisco cocktail guru. Between the two of them, it’s needless to say we were in good hands.

In this multi-part series I will take you through everything we learned. From how to build a bar; to the tools you’ll need to outfit it with; to the various ingredients you’ll want to keep behind it. In Part One we cover the bar itself. And depending on budget, the sky really is the limit.
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Aug
12
2011

How to make the Summer Tremble

Our first happy hour event was a great success. After setting up at HANGR 16, I mixed drinks like crazy for almost three hours.
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Jun
03
2011

Drunk personality types: Part II

—Josey

Anyone who drinks has a drunk personality type. In Part I of this post, we described 6 of the most common drunk personality types. For Part II, we’ll look at 5 of the slightly-less-common types.

Your drunk personality may be a louder, more naked, and less funny version of sober-you. Or maybe you’ve got some intense Jekyll and Hyde shit going on. Either way: your drunk personality emerges when you’re maximally inebriated and it’s the heart and soul of your drunken self.

The Philosopher. (Thanks to our friend Alice for this one.) He’s a variation of The Oversharer (see Part I), but he’s not looking for any feedback—in furrowed brow form, in hugs, in speech, or otherwise. The guy sitting at the bar by himself seemed harmless enough. So when he smiled, made a totally normal comment about the sports team playing on the bar TV, and motioned for you to sit, you thought—why not? With an open mind, you belly up. And no sooner does language start flooding from your new friend’s mouth do you realize you’ve made a terrible, tragic mistake. First of all, he doesn’t want to talk about the sports game at all—the ball they’re playing with is apparently a well-made helium balloon, and the players merely engaged in an elaborate ballet. Also, they’re cyborgs. Wait, you didn’t take that literally—did you? The only truth is that there is none. It’s all a socially-constructed, collective lie we’ve agreed to reinforce for each other—like my fucking ex-wife! That bitch lied a lot. She said she’d never get fat. She told me she’d never suck my brother’s dick. There’s no “knowing.” But you’re probably too enamored of the mirage to really understand.
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May
27
2011

Drunk personality types: Part I

—Josey

Some people say that the way you act when you’re drunk is a reflection of your true personality. Partially repressed parts of your soul bubbling to the surface of your booze-addled brain. In vino veritas, and all that. Whether that’s totally accurate, or 90% accurate and really hard to admit, one thing’s for sure: Anyone who drinks has a drunk personality type. Your drunk personality may just be a louder, more naked, and less funny version of sober-you. Or maybe you’ve got some intense Jekyll and Hyde shit going on. Either way: your drunk personality emerges when you’re maximally inebriated, oft-blacked out, and it’s the heart and soul of your drunken self.

Here are some of the most common drunk personality types (and when you’re done reading this, check out Part II):


The Big Spender.
He’s not just getting rounds for the table—he’s buying shots of Patron for the whole bar. And then he’s buying everybody lap dances at the Gold Club. In the VIP room. With bottle service. Sure, his internship in the mail room of the insurance company doesn’t exactly pay well, and he’s only on a three-month contract—but he’s got tomorrow’s due rent in cold, hard cash, some almost-maxed out plastic for “emergencies only,” and he knows how to use it. What could be more important than treating his new, best friends to a night on the town they’ll never forget? Suite at the W? Where else would we have the afterparty? Limos home for everyone? So much better than cabs or walking! Plane tickets to Jamaica for all the mailroom interns? I’ve always wanted to go there! The Big Spender can be easily spotted: He’s the guy screaming, “what have I done? What have I done??” in the lobby of the W any given Saturday morning.
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