An Enthusiast’s guide to cocktails: the Bloody Mary


This is an excerpt from my post “Drinks with Walter,” first published on the 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 »


An Enthusiast’s guide to cocktails: the Sazerac


Sazerac Bar—Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans

The Sazerac is one of the oldest cocktails still commonly consumed today. Invented around 1830 in New Orleans (where all the classics seem to have come from) by a Creole apothecary from the West Indies named Antoine Amadie Peychaud, the drink’s original recipe called for cognac, bitters, sugar and a dash of water. Incidentally, this concoction was pretty much the only cocktail recipe back in those days—something now referred to as the Old Fashioned.

Antoine’s particular approach and proprietary bitters were so popular that bars (or “Exchanges”) all over NOLA started serving it. Legend has it that a man named Sewell Taylor, owner of Merchants Exchange Coffeehouse, was serving the drink at his bar when he became the sole importer of Sazerac-du-Forge et fils Cognac. Shortly thereafter Aaron Bird took over the Merchant’s Exchange from Taylor, who had gone full-time into importing, and changed the name to Sazerac House after the liquor in their signature drink. And the first branded cocktail was born.
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An Enthusiast’s Guide to Cocktails: the White Russian


To tell the story of the the White Russian we need to look back a few years to the origin of vodka cocktails in general. The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) is considered one of the first U.S. publications to include recipes using vodka. At that time, vodka was primarily a Russian export (and the country is widely believed to have been responsible for its origin). It should come as no surprise then, that one of these early vodka cocktails in the Savoy book was known simply as the “Russian” (vodka, gin and crème de cacao). The similarities to it’s progeny should be apparent. Read more »


An Enthusiast’s guide to Cognac


For the record, I’ve been enjoying Cognac ever since listening a certain Master P song about Hennessey a few too many times in college. It has all the wonderful characteristics of whiskey: strong, rich, delightfully long lasting flavor; a warm, buttery feel in the mouth and belly; lots of badass pop culture references. But Cognac takes it to a different level. The smell of cognac is overpowering and each brand is different. Because it is fermented from wine, there is none of the dryness that grain alcohol tends to take on. And the broadness of flavor is unparalleled by all but the finest of other distillates.

In our ruthless (trembling) pursuit of knowledge, your humble Enthusiasts recently attended the The Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail’s Cognac tasting class—in large part because we were sure our $20 admission fee was going to be a great value from a purely liquid standpoint. But little did we know how much more there is to Cognac than we had originally assumed. Here is what the remarkable fellows from Beverage Alcohol Resource (Steve Olson, Andy Seymour and Dale DeGroff) taught us that magical night we spent in the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts.

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Booze Myths: Beer is healthier than water


As is commonly known, throughout history there have been times when beer was a more salubrious potation than the water of a given region. Reasons for this abound, the most common being E. coli and other such contaminants found in untreated drinking water. Beer, on the other hand, utilizes boiling in the fermentation process and hence contains a more purified liquid. This, in essence, made the final product the healthiest option for quenching one’s thirst in those troubled times of yore.
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Be proud, Enthusiasts!


I don’t usually wax philosophical (preferring more often to wax off—bah dump chssht!), but I wanted to take a moment to question a few things about drinking, or rather attitudes towards it here in the good ol’ US of A.

I’m talking about all the raised eyebrows and whispers around the watercooler when you show up to work hungover, the hangdog looks and the “I’m sorrys” that accompany particularly great nights out with the boys, even the stern talks with yourself in the mirror Saturday morning when you find the 200 bucks you took out for the whole weekend is now $16.89.

It’s a deep-seated thing, a bad genetic memory even—this Puritanical notion that drinking is bad. Not bad for you, or bad for the earth or bad tasting, but just simply Bad. Morally reprehensible. Evil. Wrong. There’s a stigma surrounding drinking and it’s especially prevalent in the US, where a good many of us are descended from our European brethren who made a run for it way back in the day. It runs deep in many and it’s time we put things in perspective.

I would like to posit to our readers that drinking is not only not bad, but good—even healthy and beneficial to the bodies, minds and souls of those that decide to partake of the Enthusiast’s much-maligned drug of choice. Here’s why:
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