Category Archives: cocktails

The Secret’s Out! You Need More Cocktail Content!

This game has been played before. Food Network became the place to watch food related content 24/7. Ditto for ESPN and sports. How about a network that only offers content about cocktails?

Fred Minnick thinks this is a “game changer”.

He may be right. Or it may be that people want less to watch endless content about highball glasses than they want to watch endless content about the parties and events and excursions and travels where those cocktails play a role.

My guess is that Fred will end up providing both. It will give new meaning to the phrase “high life”.


Cocktail Alert: We Need Royal Rose Safforn Simple Syrup!

Every now and then, I crave a daiquiri or a whiskey sour. These are not hard to make, except that you need some simple syrup. And simple syrup is not hard to make, especially if you are just using sugar and water.

It did not occur to me until today that simple syrups need not be quite that simple. One might add some flavorings to them to bring out hidden nuances to cocktails.  This post offers some tips for adding herbs, spices and citrus. Interesting!

Or you can buy some Royal Rose simple syrup. This article got me thinking about it.

…  the earthy, just slightly floral syrup pairs well with any base spirit. It’s also delicious stirred into fresh lemonade or plain yogurt, or drizzled over pizza or hard cheese. Once open, it’ll keep for months in the fridge, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll go through your bottle much faster than that.

Image result for Royal Rose saffron simple syrup

I may need to try this!

The Shaggy Dog Drinking Scene Wakes Up

As we get into this, we first need to reflect on the great “shaggy dog story”. Wikipedia defines it this way

In its original sense, a shaggy dog story or yarn is an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax.

It is a long established form of humor. Mark Twain, for example, reveled in it

… in Mark Twain‘s book about his travels west, Roughing It, Twain’s friends encourage him to go find a man called Jim Blaine when he is properly drunk, and ask him to tell “the stirring story about his grandfather’s old ram.”[5] Twain, encouraged by his friends who have already heard the story, finally finds Blaine, an old silver miner, who sets out to tell Twain and his friends the tale. Blaine starts out with the ram (“There never was a bullier old ram than what he was”), and goes on for four more mostly dull but occasionally hilarious unparagraphed pages.

Of course, you never hear about the ram. Instead …

…Blaine tells many stories, each of which connects back to the one before by some tenuous thread, and none of which has to do with the old ram. Among these stories are: a tale of boiled missionaries; of a lady who borrows a false eye, a peg leg, and the wig of a coffin-salesman’s wife; and a final tale of a man who gets caught in machinery at a carpet factory and whose “widder bought the piece of carpet that had his remains wove in …” As Blaine tells the story of the carpet man’s funeral, he begins to fall asleep, and Twain, looking around, sees his friends “suffocating with suppressed laughter.” They now inform him that “at a certain stage of intoxication, no human power could keep [Blaine] from setting out, with impressive unction, to tell about a wonderful adventure which he had once had with his grandfather’s old ram — and the mention of the ram in the first sentence was as far as any man had heard him get, concerning it.”

As you might notice, drinking and shaggy dog stories go together like peas and pods. That was the life story of the great shaggy dog himself, Dylan Thomas. In fact, one might argue that the whole point of heading over to a bar is to be able to open up and exchange shaggy dog stories. Not for the point of them, but for the pleasure of the details in those stories.And of course, the opportunity to create new shaggy dog stories.

Like the time my cousin tried to climb over the wall of the botanical gardens at 3 in the morning. He did not notice the sharp metal thing sticking up …

BTW, the plot in the 1946 film called “I See a Dark Stranger” is based on a great shaggy dog story told in an Irish pub.  Deborah Kerr plays the lead. A young Trevor Howard falls in love with her. It is a fun film to curl up  and watch with a pint of Guinness.

Back to our story!

So what kinds of bars are best for this? We can rule out the Cocktail bar at the Connaught. As nice as this place might be, it is not the venue for a great shaggy dog story. They might even kick you out if the story gets too much attention!

In fact, I would argue that shaggy dog story telling venues have to be more relaxed. More accepting of eccentricities. Like a nice coffee shop.

So …. is it surprising that some coffee shops are expanding into the bar business? I would say “no”. And in case you want to know the best of this new breed, here is your list!

Get talking … and enjoy!

A Breakfast Martini?

Some days you need this.

Not every day. Not even once a month.

But some days are meant to be spent in the slow lane. And when you hit a day like ha, you might consider a morning cocktail.

In my youth, that would be a bloody mary. I went further down that road with bloody bullshots.  I went crazy with the add ins.

But these days, I might opt for something else. Dave Lebovitz offers the idea of a “breakfast martini”. Nice! I will give it a try.

Thanks Dave!

Whiskey Lore: The Balvenie Love Affair with history

The Balenie Life

A dram here, a dram there. Soon enough, you will be talking about your history and the history of those who came before you. And if you make whiskey, you might be talking his way

And (the man( began to relate the excise war that took place from 1770 to 1820, as the Highlander whisky smugglers fought the imperious English tax men. (I feel I must point out, though, that Robert Burns himself was an exciseman.) In Brian’s telling, the conflict seemed to have transpired more or less last year. It’s striking, in fact, how close to their own past these whisky-makers live, perhaps because of the omnipresence of oral history and storytelling traditions in this corner of the world. To the Highland distillers, two hundred years in the past is a negligible distance, because a chain of stories connect them to their ancestors—and the thread that runs through that history is whisky. The land, the liquor, the stories—all were symbols of resistance to English conquest.

Because history connects you to the way things are done. The way to coax flavors from the raw materials that nature provides. And for some, that means a long, long wait until those favors are uncorked

We sat in the Chinnerys’ little kitchen and poured out the three whiskies from another age into glass tumblers, as a menacing wind howled through the casements. The Balvenie’s long history of releasing fifty-year-olds doesn’t mean that I’d ever been able to drink them before this. The limited bottles made from these casks will be hard to find anywhere, and, although the sleek walnut-and-copper cylinders that will house the glass vessels are the work of Sam and Clare, neither of them had ever tasted such rarities either.

And what did they discover?

The cask 6430 was rich and creamy. The cask 6428 was even more delicate and complex than the 6430. And, finally, the cask 3094, with its exquisite fruit, was as magnificent as any Scotch I’ve ever drunk from a tumbler in a croft kitchen at the beginning of a storm—or in any other place. 1967. Jimi Hendrix was alive when this was made, as was Robert F. Kennedy, Helen Keller, Enid Blyton. “The Avengers” was on the telly every week. And my whisky-loving Irish grandparents were still on earth, enjoying their nightly drams and tales of the supernatural. Back then, single malts were relatively new to most of the world. Stewart and many of the Balvenie old-timers whom I had just met were still early in their own careers, lapping up the histories of those who preceded them; they were just beginning to assemble their own stories. All along, I realized, it had been the chemistry of aging that had made me curious, that compelled me.

Yes! Want to hear more stories?

This is the link for you.

Or you can check out this video about bottling a 50 year old. It is fun stuff!

Go for it!