Saturday, November 22, 2008

Look where Josie Landed.

Sometime San Francisco Bartender Josie Packard packed it and moved to Boston with her love this year. We were all sort of wondering where she would end up. You see Josie is in it purely for the love of the cocktail. She is (or rather was) not a career waitron who found solace and inspiration behind the bar like so many of us. Instead, she came to game as a result of her fascination with vintage drinking.

Today's New York Times shows that she has found a bar with the same values.

I congratulate Josie, John Gertson (the head barman I believe) and the rest of the crew. Your bar looks wonderful.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The New York Times had an article on the 12th exposing the recent explosion of cocktail culture.... Wow, they really have their hand on the pulse with this one. I mean really, cocktails? Who has read anything about cocktails recently?

Aside from the redundancy of the piece, I was struck by the picture included. It is of a bartender at the new Apotheke in Manhattan setting up Absinthe drips over flaming sugar cubes. I am quite surprised that a program of that stature would follow this relatively recent Czech tradition. I know it looks cool and all (it must really be crazy in the opium den aesthetic of Apotheke) but I was under the impression that this was total sacrilege. I am no big fan of the Wormwood Society (I ran afoul and scored a heap of vitriol for being photographed with a bottle of an unfavored Absinthe in the foreground) but I will defer to them as far as procedure goes and they could not be more clear that burning is wrong. I think I even saw a 'Friends don't let friends burn the sugar' T-shirt.

I would love to know what is going on there.


Jamie Boudreau is cool.

I have only met him a couple of times and never really got down to chat, but he is cool. He is a great writer, a brilliant photographer and I assume a great bartender as his knowledge and taste are both becoming legendary.

The latest update on his blog (put it on your leaves me a bit twisted.

I have both the urge to lay down some snide comments and to congratulate him as well as thank him for saving a program in an historic bar.

I will do both.

Tini Bigs!?! That's just great. I hear Todd Smith is teaming up with Jimmy Meehan and pulling some shifts at respective local Cheesecake Factories.

Seriously, what a great opportunity to evangelize and make a beautiful bar respectable again. Good luck.

How'd that come off?

I declare that I now own the word 'cool'.

This is Absolutely retarded.

It is no secret that I am not a vodka fan. I bad mouth it quite a bit, rarely reach for it and do my damnedest to talk it's drinkers into trying something else with more character. It is not that I actually dislike the spirit when it is well made. I do not have a vendetta against the tradition did not ruin my life or kill my family. But it did lie to me.

It started (in my opinion) in the 80's with those Absolut print ads. They were undeniably cool and got us thinking of liquor as fresh, hip and current. Unfortunately they got the category pumped up with the notion that the outside of the bottle is more important than what's inside. Sidney Frank took it further in the late 90's with the creation of Grey Goose and the lies grew from the little white variety (bottles are worth more because of the 'art' involved) to some serious bullshit (French vodka?)

Now Absolut wants to own the word the co-opted for their name.

Screw you Absolut. Good luck getting on any back bar I put together ever again.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Liquious is fast becoming my favorite bar-related feed. I know absolutely nothing about it other than it seems to be a juried user-driven clearing house of articles. All of the feeds I subscribe to have popped up and I have discovered quite a few new ones through them.

Check it out.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Whiskyfest is coming to San Francisco for it's second year this week. I am actually missing the event itself, but have been having some some fun with the auxiliary events that it has spawned.

Here is a iphone shot of the Rye producers I would be harassing if I was in town on Friday.

High-Tech in DC

I found this video on in a piece morning the passing of an underground cocktail event called Hummingbird to Mars (here is where the name came from..not bad). While I personally have found that sous vide is unnecessary for infusing alcohol unless you are super pressed for time, I respect those that are into reaching out for new techniques. This may not be the most informative video out there, but I enjoyed it am taking a few ideas from it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cherries and Glass

Cherry Heering is one of my favorite bottles to pull out when I want to give a cocktail a little twist. I can't think of any drink that doesn't work with the addition of a quarter ounce or two of the stuff (seriously, try anything.) I was recently turned on to the very unique contest they are running for both fashion and drinks designers. I am trying to resist the urge to enter something, but could not help but bounce around the site as it is put together so nicely.

The best thing about it for me was the glassware. Just where the hell has Orrefors been my whole life anyway? The pic above is from a line I could never hope to afford where each stem is encircled by an engraved silver ring.

Just beautiful.

Monday, October 06, 2008


My main rum guy, tiki expert and somtime personal taxi driver (that's twice now buddy) is a gentleman name Martin Cate, proprietor of Forbidden Island on Alameda. His cocktails are righteous, his mastery of our lore and history is unrivaled and whats more, he is just a plain nice guy.

Eric Felton wisely featured Martin in his WJS article on Tiki recently, you should read it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Octomore Bottle

The Whiskey Exchange is a tremendous source of news and knowledge for those interested brown liquor. Today they published the first look we are getting at the Octomore bottle (see my early posting for more info.)

How cool does this thing look?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Holy Crap, Morgenthaler is One Smart Cat

Jefferey Morganthaler is in Berlin for something called a Bar Convent. He has been posting about his experiences leading up to his presentation and it all looks pretty fantastic.

However, the recount of his presentation is truly informative. It makes me want to quit this blog and pick up another shift.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Jason Wilson wrote a great piece for the Washington Post on the Speakeasy/Prohibition theme that modern cocktalians are so obsessed with (myself included.) Just check out the matching outfits Marcos Tello, Eric Alperin and I just happened to put together.

Just Horrible

Trashy, but I totally want a pair.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cougar Bourbon

I just had a friend ask me about Cougar Bourbon. I had never heard of it so naturally, I get to digging. As best I can tell it is an Aussie-only brand that is contract distilled in Indiana at the old Seagram's distillery that Pernod-Ricard purchased then sold to Angostura's parent company, CL Financial. I have absolutely no clue to how it is, I am just posting it because I think it is fascinating that there is still more whiskey out there to discover.
Also, here is an ad I found on youtube...not bad.


I am just home from a weekend in Los Angeles where I helped tend what must be California's first Genever bar. The event was Wolfgang Puck's American Food and Wine Festival. The location was the back lot at Universal Studios. The product was some beautiful Genever courtesy of Bols. These were all good things.

The company I had however, was inspiring. Next to me was Eric Alperin and Marcos Tello, two absolutely devastating bartenders and just plain beautiful people.

This 'cocktail thing' we got going on just keeps getting better and better.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My First Atempt at Mobile Blogging

Looks the The Torture Museum has a temporary exhibit at the Oakland Airport....It's a trophy case of vintage machines designed to humble and frustrate bartenders.

Sent using only the power of my mind.


Read it, learn it, drink it, love it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

From my Dad

If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you will have $49.00 today.
If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you will have $33.00 today.
If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you will have $0.00 today.
But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the aluminum cans for recycling refund, you will have received a $214.00.
Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily & recycle. It is called the 401-Keg.
A recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year.
Another study found that Americans drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year.
That means that, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to the gallon!

Makes you proud to be an American!

Dr. Bamboo

Dr. Bamboo never ceases to amaze me. Check out his blog on the Tiki art of Ice Cones.

If only we could harness his power for good....

'The Worst Hides the Best'

A wine maker in the Languedoc has recently used self-derision in a pretty bold way to draw attention to his new bottling's. An article in Wine Business International launches 'Vin de Merde,' or Shit Wine.

Pretty funny.

I was particularly drawn to the phrase 'The Worst Hides the Best.' This can be so very true. A good example for me came in the form of a cocktail book from the early 40's called 'Here's How,' in one edition and 'Just Cocktails' in another. Over all these are just plain bad books. Many mislabeled drinks and screwed up recipes are one thing. Truly racists and sexist cartoon illustrations in the margins are another. They are actually why I kept reading the book the first time I saw it. I couldn't believe how bad it was getting.

Then I came across this gem.

The Derby:

2 oz. Rye Whisky

1/2 oz. Benedictine

Bitters (I like Peychaud's here)

Hmmm. That didn't actually sound too bad. Well those who know me, know I have completely fallen for this drink, even after finding out it really should be called a Monte Carlo (I sticking with Derby though). I think of it as a smart Manhattan and slip it in on people who profess to not like whisky drinks. It borders on being my signature drink and I found it in one of the worst vintage books in my collection. The worst hides the best indeed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ardbeg Fun

The guys at Ardbeg sure are having a good time marketing recently. I just got word of the Blasda today. A very lightly peated Ardbeg? I look forward to trying it and am very curious to see how it is received faithful peat-heads.

The pic is of me and the boys digging peat on Isaly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Future

These guys hung out at my bar last night and we had a blast.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Drinks of The Teardrop

The last two nights at Nopa, we have had Alyson Dykes from The Teardrop Cocktail Lounge in Portland visiting behind our bar and it has been great. We featured some drinks from our friends to the North with much success (went through almost 2 full bottles of Yellow Chartreuse in 2 nights....c'mon now, what bar does that?) and Alyson took to making our drinks with aplomb.

I forgot to take a pic of her behind the bar so imagine the above is her.
We are going to send my boy Matt Conway up to complete the exchange soon and then start shopping around for more guests. Phil Ward from Death & Co. definitely got the exchange thing rolling early this year when he swapped with Thomas Waugh from The Alembic. Like all ideas that I love, I have knocked it off.

Here is a sample of the menu:

Vow of Silence (top seller!) Martin Miller's Gin / Grapefruit / Lemon / Yellow Chartreuse / Averna Amaro / Gomme Syrup

Venial Sin Partida Blanco / St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur / Luxardo Maraschino / Yellow Chartreuse / Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal / thai chili tincture

Empyrean Sazerac 6-yr Rye / ramazzotti / luxardo / del maguey minero mezcal / lemon / flaming orange

Insufferable Bastard Sazerac 6-yr Rye / Aviation Gin / Cynar Amaro / Lime / Ginger Beer

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wondrich and I like Hats.

The above pic (provided by the excellent Mr. Eric Alperin) is of a certain cocktail historian and myself listening to the Master Distiller, Paul Wanrooij, at the Wynand Fockink Distillery in Amsterdam (yes...I know, I know, I am a big fan of Wynand Fockink too). These guys specialize in the herbal distillate that is the flavor component of Genever as well as making liqueurs and bitters.
To be blunt, I was in heaven here. All the flasks behind him are infusions he is playing around with as he designs new flavors and such. Mr. Tal Nadari even sneaked me a pour of his potato spirit which was so much more than any vodka I have ever had. Not being constrained by faulty focus groups and marketing suits, he didn't strip the nuance and terroir of the spuds with over filtering and smootheners but rather left the spirit a natural and true expression. It was delicious.
While this was actually the last stop on our series of tours, I definitely learned the most here. The history of the place along with the passion of the distiller are palpable in the air. If you can be in the building and not be inspired by it...well, I just don't think that would be possible.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ebay Problem

Many who know me know I have a slight EBay addiction that I am dealing with. The above is an advertisement I bought late one night that was waiting for me when I got home today.

I love it.


I am just back from a very cool trip to Amsterdam and am still gathering my thoughts as far as posting goes. Here is a taste of what is to come.

I am not saying they drink a lot over there, but just look at the size of their jiggers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When you have Nothing Original to Post...

Just lift from someone else. This from Scotchblog caught my fancy today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How about Air Ramos Fizz Shaking?

So this guy has been showing up at the bar this week with a sweet 'stache dyed bright red and fairly looney burner look. I got to talking to him last night and got the story. He is couch surfing in the neighborhood so he could compete in the US Air Guitar Championship.

Pretty Damn Cool.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another New York/San Francisco Discussion.

Michael Bauer, the food editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, blogged today on the closing of the very well respected Rubicon. He contacted the owner, who operates mostly in New York, and a some very interesting points concerning the differences between the Coasts as far as dining goes. In my opinion, some of these translate to the cocktail world as well. Gary Regan focused a column on this awhile back (wherein I was featured...guess this whole post is just here to point that out...again,) and many of the same points were echoed.

Here are the points I agree with most as they translate to drinks:

  • San Francisco is less trendy. "They seem to be more interested in the rituals of dining rather than just going out to say they've gone to the latest place," he says.
    Diners and chefs are more respectful of and knowledgeable about the ingredients here.
    I think a better way to phrase this is that in San Francisco is cooler to know about what you are consuming than to consume it in a cool place.
  • People eat earlier in San Francisco; it's difficult to get people to accept a reservation after 9 p.m.
    Definitely the same with drinks. Very few bars are full at last call during the week...damn 9-to-5ers.
  • "There's a very tight food community here where everyone plays their part," he says. That level of camaraderie doesn't exist in other places, he says.

ri 1

A couple of months ago I was contacted by some market researchers who wanted my thoughts on American Whiskey. I told them I was looking for transparency as to what is actually in the bottle (what distillery, mash bill, higher proof, no chill filtering.) They in turn gave me absolutely no information at all as to what they were researching for.

John Hansel of the Malt Advocate might have just shown us. There is a lot I like about this bottle right away without having even held it yet. 46 ABV means no chill filtering, it's not overly aged, we know it was made on the Jim Beam stills, these are all things I really like. Lets see what it tastes like in a few months.

Only 3 Days Left

Spot the Barrel is almost here. I just entered again.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Look at this Beautiful Woman

From the Portland Bee:

A Solid Drink out of DC.

Camper is going to love this one.

Being a good Maryland Boy, I keep up with the news of the East via online editions of my ex-local papers. Check out this drink from Kathryn Bangs at the Tabard Inn (my favorite brunch spot in the District) I found in the Washington Post.

I did a quick ghetto version just now with Russel's Reserve and a 20 year old balsamic...kickin'.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Another Reason I love this Profression.

The excellently mustachioed Joshua Harris let me in on the latest shooter craze at his venue. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Lindsay Lohan. Well actually we will skip the recipe, it is just a Red Headed Slut with a splash of Coke.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Malt Advocate catches up to OH Group

To be fair, John Hansell has a LOT more going on than I do. But I still couldn't help but giggle to myself when I saw his recent review of High West's Rendezvous Rye. I dropped my review back in April.

And speaking of our beloved Rye, here is a cocktail we have been calling the Porkchop Express or sometimes the Porkchop Manhattan depending on how loose the guest is. While I am not a huge fan of cocktails with dinner, this one provides the steady base line that lets a grilled chop find it's voice and sing like the smokey angel it wants to be.

The Armargo Cuzco bitters are my version of the Peruvian Chuncho bitters that were used a substitute for Angostura when the Pisco Sour made it's way back south to it's ancestral home. I use my homemade Angostura recipe but with a ton more Cinnamon. You can take a more simple and speedy route by infusing a bottle of Angostura with Cinnamon for a week.

1 3/4 oz. High West Rendezvous Rye

1/2 oz. Carpano Antica

1/2 oz. Creme de Mure (Leopold's is perfect for this recipe)

5 hits Amargo Cuzco aromatic Cinnamon bitters.

Stir gently over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. No garnish needed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Well-Meaning Banter

Some comments I had to post on Off the Presses,

Autumn and Galliano

Inspired by Morganthaler's use of Strega, I just used the last of my Galliano L'Autentico sample bottle in a wonderful Autumnal cocktail. While my program is doing it's part to chew through San Francisco's supply of the old, lower proof stuff (two bottles a week!!!!!), I still don't think we are going to get into the new supply for few months. So, in preparation of a fall drop, I give you the Autunno:

1 oz. Calvados
1 oz. Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz. Galliano L'Autentico
1/4 oz. Maraschino

Stir gently over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lemon zest.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Camper, will write my eulogy?

Why bother writing original posts when you have friends who blog like this.

Mean New Zester found on Liqurious

This thing is just plain vicious

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


It pains me to no end to find myself quoting Jimmy Buffet:

My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus.
It's that kind of mornin', really was that kind of night.
Tryin' to tell myself that my condition is improvin'
and if I don't die by Thursday I'll be roarin' Friday night.

I knew going into Tales that I was not going to be up to posting while there and I am sort of gratified (justified?) to see that most blogs cocktailian are noticeably thin on their Tales coverage. There was just too much going on. Rather than attempt to give a detailed recap, I am just going to freeform it. If you fit in here somewhere, thanks. If you were there with me and you don't see a reference to yourself, don't feel bad, I was just too drunk to focus.

10 Po'Boys (that's right, 10!!)
The Alibi
The Oregon Cocktail Suite
Elevator Networking
Carousel Bar Networking
Lobby Networking
Sidewalk Networking
Poolside Networking
In the Pool Networking (only a little bit gay)
Late-night Suite Networking
Morganthaler ('nuff said)
MotAC (just lovely)
Sunrise...all 5 of them
lime juice
Meyer the Hatter
Lance Winters sitting next to Ted Breaux Sitting next to me
Gary muthergrabin Regan!
LUPEC Boston (I love you gals)
Last call at the Old Absinthe House (don't we get a T-shirt or something for making that long)
Where the hell is Dominic Venegas?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One last Blog before Tales

If you profess to care about Whisky at all, this will fascinate you.

Bruichladdich is replacing their oldest washback right now. This is big doings for a number of reasons. The one that just blows me away is this. The man in charge of the procedure is one Duncan McGillivray, Distillery Manager and one of the most gentlemanly men I have ever met. Well, it turns out that the wood he is replacing was installed by his great uncle... 105 years ago.

In a world of hi-tech column distillation and white grape-passion fruit confected vodka, stories like this border on biblical for me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Off to Tales I Go

I doubt I will blog for the next week, but expect some fun stuff when I get back.

Here is an interesting site put up by the folk at Hendrick's Gin in the meantime.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rick Nails it Again

I love Martini Groove.

Tales of the Cocktail

Alright. So I am completely overwhelmed by the line up this year. I have noticed many other bloggers posting their itineraries (none of which have included my panel yet....bastards) and I am quite impressed with how well thought out and organized they seem to be. I, for one, will be winging it.

Wish me luck.

PS: I promise to post a pic of each and every po'boy I eat.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

How not too smell spirits.

Friday's San Francisco Chronicle had a piece on the latest release of Rye from Anchor Distilling. The above pic of me seemingly killing my olfactory nerves accompanied. I would just like to point out that someone had put ice in all the samples and I had pulled my cube and was trying to warm up the whiskey so I could actually smell something. It was way under 90 proof by the time I stuck my nose in it.

As for the whiskey, Jackie and I both were simply dumbfounded by how tropical the nose was. Pineapples all over the place. On the palate, it is much more mature and restrained than the previous releases. A definite must buy if you can find it.

Friday, July 04, 2008

What's in a name

If you ask a room full of bartenders what the hardest part of making up new drinks is and you will almost always get the same answer...The Name. This is mostly because we want people to actually drink our creations and generally speaking, the name printed on the menu is the best way to get the consumers attention. Yet we also don't want to to come of as too silly. I often quote Simon Diford and suggest using racing forms and stealing horse names.

Well here is a non-boose-related site that turns up some interesting names.

Monday, June 30, 2008


My good buddy Phil Mauro found this video.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Future of Cocktails

This article is why I am worried about the future of the craft.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good Advice, Well-Traveled

Fair warning: I feel a long-winded post coming on.

I just read a page of advice for aspiring Sommeliers that I found very energizing. It came to my screen in a kind of a cool way too.

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Chicago's Ms. Jane Lopez of Lush and The Violette Hour (just started there) at my bar. She was the best kind of guest, curious and completely open to new drinks. As I am planning a trip out her way this Fall, we traded emails which led to trading blogs. Today she posted a note given to her by my friend Christie Dufault, Somm. at Quince here in San Francisco.

I giggled to myself as I read it. Jane and her friend (sorry, I cannot remember your name, but thanks for all the Tea!) had just come from Quince when I met them so I kind of felt like I was a part of meeting in a tenuous way. As you can see, the advice is straight forward and general so I kind of whipped through the first time and went on with my morning emailing. I couldn't get it out my head though so I went back to it.

With just a little translation, these simple 5 points are the absolute best advice for aspiring bartenders I could ever hope to give.

Below is a copy of the note wherein I have swapped the words Bartender for Sommelier and Cocktails or Spirits for Wine (except at the very end where I feel it did not quite fit).

Jane ended her post by saying. 'Thanks, Christie.' I will do the same.

Not Necessarily Invited (but well-meaning) Advice for Aspiring Bartenders

1. Be certain you love SERVICE.
Being a sommelier is above all about service- and not just serving cocktails. A bartender must be able to perform every job in the front of the house and jump into all aspects of service when the team needs it. Remember, being a bartender means working in the restaurant/hospitality industry. It does not mean working solely in the cocktail industry.

2. Study Study Study. Taste Taste Taste.
Be sure that you have the desire to train your palate and to learn to be a fastidious taster.
Tasting spirits analytically is not always fun at 9 o’clock in the morning. Tasting wine professionally is obviously not the same as drinking wine. In addition, be prepared to taste and to study spirits laws & regions of spirits that you may not even like.

3. Be an Assistant Bartender.
You could be on the fast track to a great bartending career if you assist an accomplished bar director. Be a sponge- learn everything you can about wines, service, purchasing, public relations and more. Work your butt off for your boss. Always make her look good.

4a. Get serious about food.
Eat. A lot. Know food. Cook-when you have time. Love food as much, no- more, than you love wine. Converse with chefs & cooks. Go to the farmers market. Smell everything. Taste everything you can. Try as many different foods as possible: be open-minded. Think about which Cocktails or Spirits would pair well with the foods you are tasting/cooking/receiving. This will teach you MORE about Cocktails than you could ever imagine. I promise.

4b. Dine out a whole lot.
Spend your rent money at restaurants you really cannot afford. (Okay- don’t do that regularly, but once a year is acceptable.) Rather, dine out a lot, even at restaurants you can afford. Observe service. Study the menu. Study the wine list.
Ask questions. Recognize what you appreciate in service and food & wine pairing.

5. Be a cocktail ambassador to everyone.
Never be a cocktail snob- but you knew that. Rather, be a cocktail ambassador. Encourage people to try new spirits, to make discoveries. Always remember that wine in moderation is healthful, so embody that. A glass of wine at lunch? Naturally. The world might just be a more peaceful place if people drank more wine and drank more wine together.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Moonshiner Tribute in Virginia

The Virginia Historical Society (the above is completely unaffiliated) is paying tribute to its underground booze heritage by an exhibit titled "Moonshining in the Blue Ridge." The Daily Press had a great piece on it today and I encourage you to follow the link and watch the video. What I like about it is that it highlights negative effect of over regulation (look at how many gallons of hooch were being produced!! during the so-called ban.) If conservatives like good folk at the VA Historical Society can come to understand this, maybe there is hope for a rationalization of of current liquor distribution system.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What is going on in Greece?

I was just alerted to a new service by GfK (a Greek marketing concern...I think) that tracks, in depth, the drinking patterns of their islands' clubs and bars. There are two points that really blow me away.

Firstly; Whisk(e)y out sells vodka!!!

Whisky: The "hard spirits" leader
With more than 10,000 bars and clubs in Greece, when the sun goes down, the nightlife begins… and with a contribution share of 40% and almost 10 million litres of on premise consumption, Whisky is the leading category among the "hard spirits" categories (e.g. Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila and Liqueur), placing Greece in the Top 10 markets of Scotch Whisky globally. This percentage is greater during Christmas, where the seasonality of the category reaches its peak with 45%.


Secondly; Sweet, sweet agave.

In 6th place among the top 10 Tequila markets worldwide is the small country of Greece! This is a result of treating tequila shots along with long drinks being very common in bars. During recent years, the plentiful supply of agave has increased the production of Tequila and its strong growth has also come to Greece, with the category increasing by 3%.

This is just plain amazing to me. I wouldn't have thought there would any tequila in average Greek bar.

Democracy, olives and now good booze... I love Greece.

Monday, June 09, 2008

San Francisco Bartenders

My bestest buddy, in the whole world...ever, Gary Regan and I have been bantering a bit recently about a piece he is writing on the differences between SF and New York barfolk and their cocktail styles. Dangerous ground if you ask me...but interesting. I might even broaden it a bit just to get everyone fired up and say East and West Coast schools to bring Portland and Seattle in our side (sorry LA, not yet.) and add Boston and Chicago to the Eastern scene.

I just found a very cool piece in Men's Book San Francisco (yeah, I never heard of it either) on 8 people I respect quite a bit. It is wonderfully conceived and beautifully shot. Check out pages 48 -55.

Imbibe wins James Beard Award

The hits just keep coming for David Wondrich. His book Imbibe!, has been much revered in cocktailian circles since day one, which was to be expected. A serious and scholarly look at the 'Grandfather-of-us-all' could not help but be a success with us. I was pleasantly surprised however, when I saw Mr. W on Late Night with Conan O'Brien promoting it. How much more mainstream can you get? Well the book is going even further and I couldn't be happier.

Mr. W has been awarded the James Beard Foundation Book Award for Wine and Spirits writing! Not that I keep up with these awards too much, but I have to think that it is a unique thing to have a cocktail book honored by the Beard Foundation.

In keeping with my conservative skepticism concerning the explosive growth of cocktail culture, I will say that this book is righteous and its' popularity (and hopefully readership) is working wonders to improve the industry as a whole by bringing to the forefront our roots and original techniques. Everyone should buy it. Every bartender should read it, front to cover, at least twice.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Purple Drank

I had this forwarded to me by two people this morning and I still am not sure that I believe that it is real. I suppose I should embrace it as I am well known for my disdain of energy drinks and their effect on humanity (just say no...I beg you.)

The press release states, "It's the world's first anti-energy drink! Combining Rose Hips, Melatonin and Valerian Root with a great tasting beverage to create the world's first anti-energy drink, "

It's the logo that got me however, "Slow your Roll."...That's restaurant quality lemonade right there.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Thoughts on Grappa and Such

I have sort changed the way I think of drink/food pairing recently with respect to fat versus acid. When balancing a dish or plate, chefs do this as a matter of fact, almost without thinking about it. Vinaigrette is the perfect example of this, oil and acid in balance act as a vehicle for pretty much any flavoring imaginable. Behind the bar, we don't get to work with fats very often. I know the more contrarian reader is muttering 'eggs and milk' to himself right now, but I counter that dairy is really more about texture than flavor in respect to cocktails.

So what do we do about pairing a drink to fatty (I say this in a good way) foods. The easy answer for me used to be acid in the form of citrus. Margarita's vs. avocados, whiskey sours vs. bacon, sidecars vs. cream get the idea. While this does work well, it is a little too easy and kind of clumsy at times.

I have found myself drifting towards using alcohol alone as a foil and compliment for fat, most specifically, with desserts. It started with simply pairing sipping rums and whiskies which can be brilliant with heavier desserts. I always had trouble with the lighter stuff till recently. A good buddy of mine and beautiful barman, Ryan Fitzgerald, was at my bar the other night finishing his meal with a chevre cake. Think cream cheese cake, but with some goaty funk (awesome btw!!!). I like rolling out new cocktails for guys like R. and I clearly didn't want to go citrus both because this was dessert and because the cake is so delicate that I could easily run it over.

Enter grappa. The high proof and clean burn of grappa cuts right through the cream and goatiness of the chevre much the same way as citrus would, but without leaving any kind of residual acid on the palate. My first thought was Veloce/Dimmi, a favorite of us both. I tried a mini trial 50/50 of grappa di brunello and Veloce... not bad. Then I subbed in an aged Aquavit for the grappa to bring in some spice to the mix and it was perfect. Think of taking a bite of sweet goat cheese then washing it away with peach blossoms and cardamon.

That's nice.

Fitzy's Foil:

1 oz. Veloce/Dimmi

1 oz. Aquavit (I like the stuff from North Shore in Chicago)

build in cordial glass, do not chill, do not garnish

Sunday, June 01, 2008

For your Nofriendo

Is it wrong that I find this hilarious?


On the other side of the country, in an often overlooked corner of Brooklyn there is a beautiful shop called LeNell's. Ms. LeNell Smothers runs a tight ship and has become one the authorities on American spirits and rightly so. Well, she is in trouble. The following letter was posted on

Our lease is officially up this month. I know it will take months for a formal eviction should it come to that. Sad to say that the space that we had a draft lease for fell through this week. It was for the vacant lot across the street next to the Good Fork. This lot is co-owned by Jimmy Buscariello and Greg O'Connell (who owns quite a bit of Red Hook including the Fairway building). We had architectural drawings, had agreed on basic lease points, and I've been thinking all along that we were just finalizing details...

The space included the store on the first floor and the bar on the second. After discussing this project for nearly a year now, I get a visit from Greg recently telling me that he has just realized constructions costs will be more than he wants to pay. He won't entertain thoughts of my partnering in building out the space. Just flat out pulled out at the last moment...which happens to be a few days before the end of my current lease. I'm in shock. I really thought this deal was practically done when Greg had me pay an attorney to draft a lease. Rarely is LeNell speechless. I am.
The other space we thought was workable in Red Hook, turns out to be a dud, as well. The owner has been telling everyone that we are moving into the space. Months ago I asked him for lease points and told him that I could not agree to anything less than a 10 year lease. Today out of nowhere, he tells me that he only wants to sign a five year lease. I won't do it. It's just not good business sense at this point. I refuse to keep working to pay someone else's mortgage while I barely pay myself and have no hope for me and my hardworking staff to get ahead.
So folks, I just don't know the future. I had really hoped to announce that we had a lease signed for this lot across the street and was so eager to break the news to you. I'm really just in shock. Storefronts in Red Hook sit vacant, vacant lots side idle, landlords daydream, and proven businesses like mine get put through hell. A boss of mine told me years ago, "If you can survive in New York, you can survive anywhere." Well, I think I've proved myself long enough. Maybe it's time to head back South. Own a real home, eat real bar b que, and have a life. LeNell is broken.
When you come in and I'm dazed, bitchy beyond normal, on the phone like a lunatic, please don't take it personally. Everything I've worked so hard for is hanging in the gallows."