Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aged Chartreuse.

The previous post on my old bottle of Yellow Chartreuse attracted some questions about the spirit aging in the bottle. I personally have not had the chance to sample anything vintage, but some good friends of mine have. The pics above are courtesy of David Nepove, who is basically the face of the San Francisco bar community. While I think these shots are from a trip he took awhile ago, he just went to the Chartreuse distillery in Grenoble a few months ago (that's where one of my elixir bottles came from.)

Anyway, on the question of bottling aging and vintages. There is a fairly significant amount of organic matter suspended in the spirit as evidenced by the color. Despite the high alcohol levels, this is going to undergo changes over time. Also, while it does not necessarily support the issue of aging, vintages are import to Chartreuse as the distillery has moved a few times over it's 400 year history due to things like avalanches, revolutions and world wars.

I remember talking with one of the owners of Chartreuse Diffusion, the company that exports the spirit, about vintage bottles and their attributes. I have an email into him for more info.

For now I will let Mr. Nepoves pics of the Chartreuse Cellar he was invited to drink in under a Michelin Stared restaurant in France.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Favorite Bottles: Vintage Yellow Chartreuse

Tim Stookey is a good man. Aside from incredible sense of style (the man lives the 40's, I mean LIVES them!) and his excellent taste in beverages, he is generous.

This vintage bottle of Yellow Chartreuse was a housewarming gift at our holiday party this past winter. It has a New York Tax Stamp but no date of any kind. However, being a 500ml bottle I can deduce that it was packaged between 1980 (when the US moved to the metric system) and 1989 (when 500 ml bottles were unallowed.) Since Chartreuse is one of the few spirits that do age in the bottle, I am quite curious to see what is happening in there, but I will wait for a deserving event to crack it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Favorite Bottles: Ardbeg Supernova, Advance Committee Release

Sometimes it pays to sign up for those news letters we get offered all the time. I joined the Ardbeg Committee a few years ago and have been quite entertained by the emailings that have followed. I was pretty disappointed 2 years ago when a special release was offered to European Committe Members and I, along with others, expressed our pain and were consoled with the bottle above. The Supernova is an over-peated version of Ardbeg that was laid down around the same time as Bruichladdich's Octomore. Happily they were both released around the same time as well, so no one is grumbling about who was first or anything like that.
My impression is that the Supernova is a little older as I pick up more more barrel than in the 5 year old Octomore, but there is no age statement so..who knows. Chances are that Supernova will become a regular bottling in the future, but these bottles (one to save, one for drinking) are definitely special and look awfully cool in my cabinet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Favorite Bottles: Chief Wahoo Electric Tonic

In raised letters, the sides of the bottle read; Chief Wahoo Electric Tonic, Celebrated Remedy, Cathedral Brand, Walbridge Co., Dunsmr Cal..

So, while I know this is not really an antique (it was made in the 70's as sort of a gimmicky thing for gift shops) and that it is not even a replication of of an antique (Cathedral bottles were actual for pickles,) I still really like this Chief Wahoo Electric Tonic mini. I think just because it was the first old bitters bottle I found with the contents intact.

The tonic itself is not very bitter and pretty much just tastes of anise without much depth. I cannot find any relation to the controversial Chief Wahoo of Cleveland baseball but suspect their must have been a tie-in there somewhere.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Favorite Bottles: Rare Orange Bitters

I have seem to started a little collection of rare orange bitters and they all look pretty cool next to each other in the cabinet.

First up is Gordon's Orange Bitters. The label has no date, but the cap reads 'Made in Scotland' (the label reads Tanqueray, Gordon & Co. LTD. The Distillery, London, E.C.I. England.) I found this bottle in a gypsy market in Budapest so there really is no knowing how old it is. It is unopened and I have not gotten into it as it looks like it might no be resealable.

Second is Du Bouchett Orange Bitters made by Many, Blanc & Co. in Chicago Ill. I got this guy about half full so I wasn't afraid to open it for a taste...it's horrible. Again, no date of any sort, but it does have a Wisconsin Tax Stamp.

The little red guy is a Wheaton Horse Shoe mini called pure orange. Ingredients are listed as alcohol, water and oil of orange. I still tastes like orange oil too, but is pretty much gone at this point.

Finally, the blue dropper with the hand-written label is Jeff Morgenthaler's Madeira Cask-Aged Orange Bitters. I slipped this one into my pocket last year at Tales it makes for a great Manhattan.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Favorite Bottles: Elixir Vegetal de las Grande Chartreuse

This little guy packs quite wallop at 71% abv with incredibly intense aromatics. Serving suggestions include a few drops on a sugar cube and mixed with lots of water. I think it shows best when dashed into a glass of champagne.

It is unavailable in the U.S. and I have not seen in any European liquor shops either. This bottle, like every other I have seen, came from the distillery.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Favorite Bottles: Mt Gay Pop-Top

One of the managers at my place of employ recently returned from the Caribbean with a fun gift for me. It is plain old Mt. Gay, just in a rather serious little bottle. The combo of the slightly funnel shaped neck (ala Miller High Life) and the crown cap makes this opening this rum kind of a commitment. A big part of me wants to pop it, jam in a lime wedge and go sit on my roof for a the afternoon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nic Fix

There were many little things to get used to when I changed Coasts and moved to California 10 years ago. Perhaps the easiest of these was not cleaning ashtrays at work. The OSHA smoking ban was already a few years old when I moved here and had not come even close to D.C. yet. Guests smoking at the bar had never really bothered me much, but the cleaning ashtrays and the subsequently taring of my index finger was pretty gross. When smoking bans started spreading, I was very curious as to how it was going to go over in the more addicted markets. New York and Paris sprang to mind.

Well it seems some Brits are taking a mechanical approach to bringing back the old times. E-Lites are electronic nicotine delivery devices shaped to look like old-fashioned cancer-sticks.

Pretty damn silly....they will probably make millions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009


There has been quite a bit of talk about non-traditional and mobile dining here in San Francisco recently. From temporary set-ups like Mission Street Food, grafEats and the Ghetto Gourmet to mobile food like the much revered Tamale Lady (Happy Birthday darling!) and Spencer on the Go.

Müvbox just plain blows me away however. A fully functioning restaurant in a shipping container. I love the look of the thing and am checking out what it would take to do a bar version.

Wally's Shopping Spree

What's one more flyer in your inbox?

Imbibe clued me in to a cool drawing for $1000 shoppping spree at Wally's Wine and Spirits. While I know I am ruining my chances of winning by helpingpublicize the drawing, I think it is very cool of them to offer it so I am supporting them.

p.s. The pic's have nothing to do with the contest. That is me garnishing a drink with bloomed basil seeds at a cocktail party hosted by Chandon at their winery in Napa. I just think it's cool.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Gods of Tiki Smile on San Francisco

I was sent the coolest press release I have seen in quite awhile today.




SAN FRANCISCO, CA- This fall, San Francisco will become home to Smuggler's Cove, a new bar designed to celebrate the incredible diversity and versatility of the world's most exciting spirit: Rum. Smuggler's Cove offers a whole new approach to rum by featuring a vast array of traditional Caribbean drinks, classic libations of Prohibition-Era Havana, and famous exotic cocktails from legendary tiki bars- all under one roof. In addition, Smuggler's Cove will offer an unparalleled selection of rare and premium rums from around the world carefully selected for enjoying on their own or skillfully blended into cocktails. For over a decade, owner and creator Martin Cate has been passionate about rum & tropical cocktails. He was the co-creator, designer and chief mixologist for Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda, CA. He has judged in international rum competitions, met with over a dozen rum distillers in five countries, and lectured at Bourbon and Branch's Beverage Academy, Tales of the Cocktail, and Tiki Oasis. "I am very excited to help showcase this wonderfully varied spirit both on its own and in delicious cocktails. A great rum drink can be simple and elegant, or complex and dynamic, but it must always be balanced, approachable, and just a pleasure to drink," says Martin Cate. "Too often, people associate rum with syrupy and artificial drinks and we're here to change that." Martin has traveled the world to learn the rich history and explore the traditional spices and regional ingredients of the world's rum producing countries in order to feature them in the cocktails of Smuggler's Cove. As an award-winning mixologist and member of the United States Bartenders Guild for the last four years, Martin is committed to using only the best quality spirits, fresh-squeezed juices, and housemade ingredients. But while Martin is serious about the drinks, he knows that people are looking for a memorable and fun experience as well. "Smuggler's Cove will be more than just a tiki bar, but it will feature the kind of dramatic, mysterious, and escapist atmosphere that makes a tiki bar so special- and makes rum taste better!" Smuggler's Cove will include waterfalls, vintage nautical décor and rum memorabilia, and relics from some of San Francisco's most famous historic watering holes. Smuggler's Cove will open November 2009 in San Francisco, CA.

For more information, please visit http://www.smugglerscovesf.com/ and sign up on our mailing list to get all the latest news.

Blind Punching

Jacob Briars and Naren Young have teamed up with Leblon Cachaco again for a second pilot for their Happy Hour TV show concept. Jacob ends up making a punch blind-folded (for no apparent reason other than that it is funny.) I think it is pretty funny.