March 31, 2006
It's suddenly dawned on us that we don't give away nearly enough free stuff here, so we've decided to change all that by having our very first contest. The prize? We've gotten our hands on an excellent Shotgun Party t-shirt, plus 10 shotgun 2.0 keys from our own personal stash, for you to share with your friends.
"OK," you're saying, "so shut up already and tell me how I win!" It's simple - just sign up for our mailing list by April 15th. All in all, the prize package is worth around $50, plus you'll be able to lord your party god status over your friends. [Update: The winner will be randomly drawn from our mailing list. We thought it was self-explanatory, but people have been asking.]
And don't worry, if you're already on the list, you're eligible for the prize - but make sure to tell your friends to sign up, in hopes that they'll be grateful enough to share the gift of beer shotgunning. You've only got two weeks, so sign up now and in April you'll be the party king, sporting the shotgun threads and giving the gift of rapid-rate beer consumption to your loyal subjects.
If you need more information, check out our review of the Shotgun 2.0 beer opener, and head on over to ShotgunParty.com to check out their products and see what they have to say.
March 31, 2006
March 29, 2006
We spend a lot of time reading what people say about booze, and one of the things that has always bugged us is the numerical ratings system used by many reviewers. Tasting liquor is an incredibly subjective experience, and one man's water of life is another's toilet water, as attested by the fist fights and shouting matches that often break out in our tasting sessions.
OK, the fist fights are just for fun, but you'll notice in our liquor reviews that we just try to tell you what it tastes and smells like to us, and give you an overall impression, rather than numerical scores that're only worth the pixels they're displayed on. And don't get us started about the flowery language we read in some of the reviews - we're guilty of getting purple with our prose sometimes, but not on the scale we see from some established reviewers. As far as we're concerned, we think about taste and quality as compared to the price, and give you our thoughts through that filter, along with some relative comparisons with other brands if we can.
It seems our good friend Kevin over at The Scotch Blog has similar feelings about ratings and reviewing in the whisky world, and he has let loose with both barrels with some interesting thoughts about reviews and reviewers.
Ask any renowned whisky maven (or drinking buddy) his or her favorite dram, and you are likely to be given (if you're lucky) a short list, along with a litany of exclusions and limitations, about how "favorites" depends on the time of day, time of year, food accompaniment, mood or present company. And all that is quite fair.
How then can the same person give, what to all intents and purposes is a score based on an apparently absolute scale? I believe they simply cannot.
As a result all ratings are relative - a whisky is scored relative to the mood you are in, the other whiskies you might be trying, where you are sitting as you try them, what you had for dinner, the time of day, the argument you had with your girlfriend the other day, if you know anyone at the distillery, what you perceive others think of the expression, etc.
That being said, I don't like ratings, don't agree with the concept, and hereby call for a general ban on the use of any rating system in the whisky industry (Yeah, right. I'll keep dreaming). In the meantime, I shall continue to take ratings (as should you) with a grain of salt - even from the most respected reviewer.
The Scotch Blog: Have Ratings/Tasting Notes Gone Too Far?
Keep reading to see Kevin deconstruct an actual review - it gets fairly heated, but we're pretty sure our eyebrows will grow back in time for Easter dinner. Very thought-provoking, and t's something to keep in mind before you run out to buy a bottle because some dude gave it a 7.4523958 out of 10. As for the weaselly language, we're hanging this over our computer so we'll see it the next time we swish some booze and try to remember how to spell "priapic" for our description of the bottle.
March 28, 2006
Since the dawn of time, man has yearned to find an easier way to get his drink on. Well, maybe not since the dawn of time, but at least since the invention of the Kegbot and the AI Bar, and our newest discovery, the Lazydrinker. It's basically a cooler hooked to a laptop so you can mix drinks without getting out of your La-Z-Boy, or you can build your own and install it in a fridge, mini fridge, baby stroller, whatever.
The Lazy Drinker quite simply is a computer controlled mixed cocktail dispensing device. It's designed to hold 16 ingredients and multiple units can be chained together to get more. By using a series of pressurized valves, the ingredients are mixed automatically by your computer perfectly every time. With a database of over 5000 drinks, you'll have plenty to choose from.
The Lazy Drinker comes assembled in a cooler or as a do-it-yourself kit which can be installed in any manner you desire. Requiring only a Co2 tank and a PC with a serial port, the Lazydrinker can be set up anywhere: from a portable dispensing unit, to a bartop installed unit, to a refrigerator mounted unit, the possibilities are endless.
Most likely to be a Lazy Drinker was our superlative in our college yearbook, so we're definitely interested in trying this guy out, though we're still a little nervous about the introduction of a computer into our drink mixing. With our track record, our laptop would end up soaked in nine kinds of booze...maybe we'll have to get a couple of the interns to stand guard, towels at the ready. Anyway, check out the Lazy Drinker site
while we figure out how to waterproof electronics.
March 27, 2006
Normally, we don't like the idea of having some kind of critter floating in our liquor, but lately the idea has been growing on us. First, we stumbled across Scorpion Mezcal, and we were impressed by the addition of something as badass as a scorpion to something as awesome as Mezcal. Now, we've stumbled across Skorppio, a vodka manufacturer with the same idea.
It's produced and bottled in England, not a place we usually associate with the stingy creepy-crawlers, but we were intrigued by more than the arachnid in the bottle. This stuff is five times distilled from 100% single grain (wheat), and if you're curious about the scorpion:
These scorpions are farm raised, not wild. Their diet and environment is controlled to assure their good quality. The scorpions are processed for human consumption, according to high quality food preparation standards. The toxins that make the mild venom of these particular scorpions when alive, are broken down with a special process. The scorpions are subject to analysis certified by the Chamber of Commerce of Pismo Beach, CA., U.S.A., to confirm that no harmful substances are present. Distilled and bottled under license of Rodrigo Rodriguez.
We're glad the scorpions are farm-raised...we've run into nothing but problems with the free range kind. They're available in multiple states - find out where you can get a bottle at the Skorppio site
March 24, 2006
Is your closet full of mid-century board game titles like Monopoly and Sorry!? Are you still answering questions about 1980's science and technology questions from a dusty version of Trivial Pursuit? The staff at www.CriticalGamers.com can help move you from the drab repetitive gameplay of yester-year into the entertaining world of modern Eurogames and social card games.
Blogpire Productions is pleased to announce the addition of www.CriticalGamers.com to our growing family of product- and category-specific Web logs. CriticalGamers.com will provide news and reviews of social board games, Eurogames, and card games. Critcal Gamer's goal is to weed-out the mediocre from the slew of modern table top game titles, and to keep readers posted on what's new and popular in the world of social gaming.
March 21, 2006
We are beaten, broken men. On Friday evening, St. Patrick's Day, we introduced ourselves to the green fairy Absinthe, and it tied us up, made us its bitch, and never even called the next morning. We don't blame the liquor itself - and to be honest, we were extremely impressed with the flavor and quality of the two Jade Liqueurs brands we tried. That was part of the problem.
The main problem was that we overserved ourselves in our reviewing, and treated it like a normal liquor tasting. Mistake. On no normal liquor tasting have we flooded a bathroom, broken multiple glasses, watched one of our stalwart reviewers blind tackle a television, or taken a three-day hiatus from the site because none of us could even think about drinking. Other problematic events took place as well, but we will leave them aside to protect the innocent, at least until we can send out the apology notes.
We can see why the stuff has caused so much heartache in the past, and maybe even why it was banned - but we can also definitely understand why people love it so much. Oh, and for the record, we don't think the effects were due to wormwood or thujone, or anything like that - we blame the fact that the lowest alcohol content of anything we drank that night was 130 proof.
All we can say is that absinthe is a harsh mistress, and if you respect her, she'll treat you well. If not - well, the words of one of our reviewers sums up the feelings of the next morning quite well. "I feel hollowed out like a tauntaun, and I'm pretty sure Luke Skywalker slept inside me last night." We couldn't agree more. That said, we highly recommend trying good absinthe if you get a chance...but for your own sake, be more responsible than we were.
March 17, 2006
Top o' the mornin' to ya! And we can almost guarantee that you feel better this morning than you will tomorrow. How do we know? Because tonight is the biggest amateur drinking night of the year, where everyone pretends they're Irish for a day.
Apparently to a lot of people, being honorary Irish means paying a $15 cover charge to get into an overcrowded bar and drink too many pints of Budweiser tinted with green food coloring. If you're lucky, the local Puddle of Mudd cover band will be Irish for the night too, butchering "O Danny Boy" and "Fairytale of New York."
We may sound bitter, but that's because drinking is not an amateur sport. Believe us - we're Scottish, we drink every night. So tonight when you're heading out for your "Irish" festivities, here are a few tips to get you through:
- Green beer isn't the only thing on the menu...and never mind that corned beef and cabbage stuff. Try some black beer (Guinness) or Irish whiskey to get a true sampling of all the Irish food groups.
- Resist the urge to wear your "Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day." Even if you're as Irish as the potato famine and you're trying to be encouraging, it's just irritating.
- Try to listen to the Pogues today...it's good for the soul. "Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced" by the Dropkick Murphys may also be appropriate.
- Don't enter a drinking contest with anyone with a brogue.
- Prepare yourself tonight to fight your hangover tomorrow. Believe us, you'll need to.
So what do you think, loyal readers? Are there any tips we've missed for encouraging a fun, safe, and non-irritating St. Patty's Day?
March 16, 2006
We don't usually say things like this, as we try to maintain our detached irony, but we're so excited about this one, we can barely contain ourselves. We have long sung the praises of the mini fridge - not only does it hold beer, but you don't have to go all the way to the kitchen to get it. Move over, you tiny fridge - we have seen the future, and it is the Skybox beer vending machine.
Think about it...it's like one of those vending machines they have at your office, but there's a twist. Actually two twists. Twist one - you don't have to put in quarters to get things out of it. Twist two - you can stock it with wonderful, tasty, nutritional beer, instead of that evil sugar water they're usually stocked with. As for the possible down sides, you have to stock it yourself, and you have to pony up for it in the first place, and it's not all that cheap. C'mon, though - it holds 64 cans (or 32 bottles), you can punch that big button every time you want a beer, and you're going to be the envy of your friends. Face it, if you're getting a tax refund this year, or you're just expecting permission to decorate your man cave, this is the gadget for you.
Oh yeah, the other selling point is that they're customizable. You can outfit yours to reflect your best beer brand, your favorite sports team, or your number one NASCAR driver, if you swing that way. So check out the Skybox site, and don't forget to invite us over for beers when you get yours.
March 15, 2006
A couple weeks ago, we told you about our fearless Editor-In-Chief and his run-in with Southern comfort when he was in college. He was more than a little bit shook up, and he hasn't brought a glass of SoCo to his lips since that fateful night. So imagine how he must have felt when we marched into the office with two bottles of the stuff - one, the regular old 70 proof stuff, the other the high-test 100 proof stuff. We expected him to faint on sight, and while he did look a bit white, he's made of stern stuff...plus he never turns down a drink.
We'll be organizing a review in the next few days, and we'll be certain to check out some Soco Lime, as well as some other recipes that've been suggested to us. Maybe we'll even get the reviews done in time for St. Patty's Day - last time we checked, limes are green. While we're drinking and reviewing (and drinking responsibly, of course), check out SouthernComfort.com.
March 14, 2006
Not all of us are blessed with the gift of blarney. In fact, if you're anything like us, you tend to get more long-winded and bombastic with every sip you take. But if there's any day of the year where you should at least be able to fake your way to a silver tongue, it's St. Patrick's Day. After all, it's the day everyone is Irish, and it's the day there are going to most certainly be surrounded by drunken Irishmen (or Irish wannabes).
This year, thanks to Bushmill's, you'll be able to remember at least one heartwarming Irish toast, though you're on your own when it comes to the brogue.
For the Irish, the "gift of gab" is as much a part of their lore as the Blarney Stone. Unfortunately, according to the US Census, only 34 million Americans can claim Irish ancestry, and therefore are lucky enough to have inherited this valuable gift. For the rest of the country left searching for the right words on St. Patrick's Day, Colum Egan, Master Distiller of Bushmills(R) Irish Whiskey, shares some of his favorite Irish toasts at 1-800-BUSHMILLS.
It's funny, we usually don't turn to Irish whiskey when there's something we want to remember...we're usually looking to forget. But anyway, thanks Bushmill's!
Read the full Bushmill's press release.
March 13, 2006
St. Patrick's Day is coming, and this year, instead of gorging yourself on green beer until you see leprechauns, maybe you should try to class things up a little bit. We've found a recipe for a Bailey's-style irish cream liqueur, so you can sip a little something nice over ice, instead of waking up behind some green dumpster somewhere.
Homemade (Bailey's-style) Irish Cream Liqueur
1 cup Irish whiskey
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups half & half
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and mix well.
You can drink it right away or store it in a pretty decanter in the refrigerator. The flavor improves every day!
Serve your homemade Irish Cream Liqueur over ice, add it to your coffee or pour it over a scoop of ice cream for dessert.
via Bella Online
March 12, 2006
German Herbal Liqueur
84 Proof (42% ABV)
Buy it at Internet Wines and Spirits
We've said more than once on this site that Jagermeister is the liqueur of choice around the office. We love the dark color, badass reputaiton and grimace-inducing flavor, plus the fact that it gives us a completely different kind of buzz than any other booze is a selling point as well. We've never reviewed Jager on this site, mostly because once we start drinking it we don't stop, and it's tough to write a review while blacked out. We recently got our hands on a bottle of Killepitsch, a similar herbal liqueur made in Dusseldorf, Germany, that was touted as giving Jager a run for its money. We were skeptical, but we were ready to give it a try.
The color was dark brown, almost black, with a reddish tint, and it left a syrupy coating on the glass.
The label says Killepitsch contains 90 fruits, berries and herbs, and we would say that sounds about right. When we smelled it, it was complex and strong, with a heavy tinge of anise, giving it a licorice smell. We also detected a lot of gentian, the stuff that gives Angostura bitters and Moxie soda their taste. A mixture of Moxie, bitters and Jager? We must've died and gone to drunk heaven.
Thick and syrupy, this stuff was sweet up front with a bitter, dry aftertaste. Licorice, anise, gentian, mint, root beer, Moxie - there were so many flavors, it was almost overwhelming, but the Jager comparison definitely fit. Overall, Killepitsch seemed sweeter and thicker than Jager, but both had the same aggressive, take no prisoners flavor, if that makes any sense. Someone who drinks Jager a lot will be able to tell the difference, but the typical drinker won't - and if you hate the nectar that is the 'Meister, you'll hate this stuff too.
We liked it on the rocks, but it seemed like a pretty damned good substitute in a Jager Bomb, if you're in a pinch or just want to try something new.
Definitely in the running to enter our regular rotation, this stuff was like a doppleganger of Jager (that's a little shout-out to all you D&D players in the house). We liked this one a lot, especially chilled or on the rocks. Plus, it's stronger than Jager (84 proof, as compared to 70), so the blackouts will come even more quickly!
The Site:Learn more about Killepitsch at OurNiche.com.
March 11, 2006
Liquid Core and Liquid Charge
Energy Drinks With Alcohol, containing Taurine, Guarana, Caffeine, & Ginseng
13.8 Proof (6.9% ABV)
We got a box a couple days ago, containing two alcoholic energy drinks, called Liquid Charge and Liquid Core. The stuff is marketed to your typical extreme sports types, and we were a bit nervous before we tasted them, especially since we tried Tilt and hated it. Now, don't get us wrong - we like a good adrenaline rush as much as the next guy, whether it's running away from angry bouncers, stealing drinks from bikers, throwing darts at Karaoke singers.
Even so, we're not exactly the target market for most of the alcoholic energy drinks on the market, since we get our fill of extreme sports on Spike TV. With that in mind, we dove into our sample cans, chugged them down and crushed them against our foreheads - and when our headaches went away, we reviewed them for you.
The Color: EXTREMELY Bright and Bubbly
Liquid Charge - A pale, bright orange, like someone mixed Sunny D with ginger ale.
Liquid Core - Bright red, with a light pink head on top if you're enough of a sissy to pour it in a glass (like we did).
The Nose: EXTREME Fruit
Liquid Charge - Citrusy and crisp, with other tropical flavors in the mix as well.
Liquid Core - Berries all the way, but not too sweet...nice and tart.
The Taste: EXTREMELY Tasty
Liquid Charge - We could taste a variety of citrus flavors, including orange and maybe even mango. This was the sweeter of the two, and the vibe we got was sort of like Red Bull mixed with orange juice.
Liquid Core - When we first saw the pink froth on top of this one we were nervous, but it was tart and crisp, not too syrupy like other energy drinks we've had.
The Recipes: EXTREME Donkey Punch
Liquid Charge - We found a couple recipes, but the only one we tried was the Short Bus - a combination of Liquid Charge and vodka, served on the rocks. Good, good stuff.
Liquid Core - The recipe we tried with this one has the best name we've heard for a drink since Dumpster Juice - the Donkey Punch. To make one, just mix Liquid Core, Liquid Charge, vodka, gin, rum and triple sec, and serve it on the rocks. Yes, we know we didn't give any portion sizes here, but you don't need 'em - it's more EXTREME to mix them freehand...as you jump out of a plane...strapped to a snowboard. Anyway, we liked it.
The Verdict: EXTREME Buzz
All in all, Liquid Core was our favorite, since it was crisp and tasty, without being too sweet or syrupy, but we enjoyed both varieties. Plus, since they weigh in at 6.9% alcohol, you get a nice little buzz very quickly. Oh, and the effects of all the herbs and caffeine in there? The first night we tried it, one of our interns chugged an entire can at around 6:30, and he told us he was finally able to go to sleep around 2:00. Sounds like our experience on AGWA, and it makes this stuff a good choice when you're about to embark on anything extreme, whether it's wakeboarding, a bender-level drinking bout, or a Saved By The Bell marathon.
The Site: Check 'em out at LiquidCharge.com.
March 10, 2006
We've got a lot of experience with bottle cap openers, but we've never seen a bottle opener cap before. As part of our never-ending quest to be able to open a beer bottle with every single piece of clothing, we present to you the OpenerHat.
The OpenerHat™ features a bottle opener built into the brim of the hat. One size fits all thanks to the velcro closure. This is a very tricked out hat and sure to excite any recipient!
Choose from Black or Tan with the Coors Light® Logo and Football shaped opener, Black or Navy blue CORONA® with choice of Football, Soccer Ball, Basketball, Baseball, Golf Ball or Corona Extra logo printed Opener or our own low key CG branded Red or Black hat with silver oval CG Opener.
All of the hats typically retail for $25, but it seems you can pick up an OpenerHat of your very own for $15.95 right now, which is worth every penny for our typical days out in the sun (we've told you about our problems with UV resistance
Check them out at CoolerGadgets.com - now we just have to figure out how to use the opener without taking off the hat and bursting into flames.
We're pretty excited here at Blogpire Productions to tell you about our new site - Cheap Fun Wines.
How many times have you shelled out ten bucks for a bottle of wine only to have your hopes dashed when you poured the first glass? The staff at www.CheapFunWines.com is here to help. They're goal is to find the most luscious bottles of affordable wine on the planet for under $20.
Kim and the staff at CheapFunWines.com love wine. There is little in life that’s more fun for them than pouring a new wine or revisiting an old favorite.
What they don’t love is wine snobbery. At www.CheapFunWines they'll promise to write about wine in plain English and make fun of people who don’t. That said, they don't profess to be a wine experts. They're totally wine beginners - each with a keen sense of smell, a decent palate, a passion to learn, and a sense of humor.
For the past six years, the staff at CheapFunWines.com has often trekked to wineries in Napa and Sonoma, trying dozens of reds and whites. Slowly, they've learned what they like (Full-bodied Cab and peppery Syrah) and don't like (Bombastic fruity Zin and overblown Chardonnay).
At CheapFunWines the staff won’t always be right. They won’t always use the proper wine vocabulary. But that’s OK. They're all learning together. So pop a cork and join them on a fun journey to a cheaper, better bottle of vino. And send them your favorites!
March 9, 2006
If you hear a cracking sound in the background as you read this, it's because we're having the interns flogged for not finding the Oh! My Glass so we could be the first ones to break it on the Web. For the love of Mike, it's a beer glass bottle opener, and we weren't the ones to find it? It's not like we even drink out of glasses - we're more prone to just bite off the bottle cap and pour it in our mouths - but we loves us some unique bottle openers.
For those of you snobs that insist on the finer things with your beer like "drinking it from a glass" alongside stuff like "showering daily" or "walking upright," then here's the tool for you.
This little baby holds a full bottle and has a built-in bottle opener right in the bottom. You'll never experience the shakes as you look through drawer after drawer for the bottle opener again.
Sure, it's plastic, but you knock things over all the time anyway.
via Martini Lounge blog: Glass With Bottle Opener
Oh, and by the way, we picked up this story from a blog we've started checking with some regularity, the Martini Lounge. Rick Dobbs, the guy who runs it, seems pretty darned knowledgeable, and he's got a good sense of humor...plus he's got the coolest tagline we've seen in a while. "Saving the world, one drink at a time" - why couldn't we have thought of that? Check him out at martini-lounge.blogspot.com.
The American Medical Association has announced some shocking Spring Break news that we just had to hand along to our readers...apparently people drink and have sex more when they're away on break. Say it ain't so!
Medical experts are urging college women to tone down the spring break partying depicted in the "Girls Gone Wild" videos.
An American Medical Association poll found 83 percent of college women and graduates said the vacation involves heavier-than-usual drinking. Almost three-in-four said the trips yield increased sexual activity.
We agree that people have to be careful so they don't do something they regret, and you should always drink within your means, but if the AMA is doing their medical research based on "Girls Gone Wild" videos (which are available at Amazon
- if you want to do your own research), we're all in trouble. Anyway, you'll have to excuse us...we're off to book plane tickets to Florida.
via TheJacksonChannel.com: Girls Gone Wild? Spring Breakers Admit More Sex, Drinking
March 8, 2006
We're not golfers, but here's a little device that might make us want to put on some funny pants and hit the links. It's an insulated drink dispenser disguised as the head of a club, and at the touch of a button you can pour yourself a nice, frosty beer, or whatever you decide to keep in there.
The Drink Caddie is a drink dispenser for your golf bag that has a built-in battery operated pump to dispense your favorite beverage at the push of a button. The pump is hooked up to an insulated cooler which is hidden inside of your golf bag. The golf bag drink dispenser is easy to clean and is priced at $100.
via The Sporting Life: Drunk Driving
We also dug this bad boy up at Amazon, and discovered that the Drink Caddie holds 54oz of liquor...errr, liquid, and that it's designed to keep your hot stuff hot and your cool stuff cool for up to five hours. That should be enough to get through 18 holes, right? If you want to pick one up for yourself, or get it as a gift for the golfer in your life, head on over to Amazon.
March 6, 2006
A couple months ago we told you about the arrival of a couple Jade Absinthe bottles for review, and guess what...we haven't reviewed them yet. Sorry about that - we didn't have access to the bottles for a while, we wanted to get a real honest-to-goodness absinthe spoon, we couldn't find out Hannibal Lecter restraints, etc. This is our FYI that we will be reviewing them this month...over St. Patrick's Day, in fact. Yes, we know absinthe isn't Irish, but it's green, and there's no better day to manufacture an excuse to drink. Expect those reviews St. Patty's weekend - and expect the reviews to be written whilst we're in our cups.
To tide you over until that auspicious day, we have discovered a new absinthe created by Jade Liqueurs and the absinthe man Ted Breaux. It seems a bit less spendy than the others offered on the site (running 25 Pounds, or about $45, as compared to the others that are 55 Pounds, or closer to $95, according to our favorite currency converter) and though it's not cheap, it might be a good "training wheels" way to have your first meeting with the green fairy. They bottle it at 120 proof (60% ABV), which is nothing to sneeze at.
"Blanchette", the original absinthe produced by Distillerie Combier (Saumur, France) circa 1900. Blanchette is a Swiss-style, clear absinthe that yields a distinct aroma and flavor of anise and grande wormwood, with a background of alpine herbs. Like our other Jade absinthes, Blanchette is crafted entirely by hand in the antique copper absinthe stills in the Combier distillery.
Learn more and buy your own at Absinthe Online
March 5, 2006
As Whiskey Week winds to a close, it suddenly hit us that we've mostly been focusing on straight Bourbons without thinking about cocktails. That's a great tragedy, because it just so happens that our favorite drink recipe in the world contains whiskey - the Old Fashioned. We were going to compile a ton of information of this amazing and underappreciated drink for your education and edification, but it turns out Robert Hess over at DrinkBoy has already done so, and he did an amazing job.
First, his thoughts on this misunderstood mix:
Only a few other cocktails that have survived to modern day that comes from the era of the Martini and the Manhattan. There is one cocktail of similar lineage, but holds nowhere near the same level of respect and esteem as either the Martini or the Manhattan. This cocktail is the Old Fashioned. But instead of being held in any sort of awe, the Old Fashioned is often seen as just one of those old slop drinks that isn’t worth the time it takes to make it. And to taste it the way many modern bartenders serve it, it’s no surprise.
And a tragedy that is, because it's one of the best drinks going out there. Here's Robert's recipe, which is the exact same one we use when we're looking to get Olde Tymey.
- 1/2 orange slice
- 1 cube sugar
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
Muddle orange, sugar, bitters together until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Fill glass with ice, then add the whiskey. Garnish with a marachino cherry, and perhaps an additional orange slice. Serve with a swizzle stick and/or straw
We recommend you give it a try, but make sure you mix your own or carefully monitor the bartender you give the task. Oh, and while you're at it, check out some Old Fashioned historical information and a few other recipe variations in Mr. Hess's article Renewing An Old Fashion.
Elijah Craig Single Barrel Bourbon
18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
90 Proof (45% ABV)
Typical Price: About $40 for 750ml - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
We had already developed our opinion of Elijah Craig when we tried his 12 year old Bourbon, so when we drank the 18 year old we expected it to be half again as good. The 18 year old is another single barrel whiskey like the Evan Williams 1996 we tried, but even our first whiff told us it had a very different character. So how did Elijah's older offspring measure up?
The Color: Wait For It...
Yes, like all the other Bourbons we've reviewed thus far, Elijah Craig is brown.
The Nose: Sweet And Nutty
We smelled caramel and nuts, sweet and appealing. Sweet and nutty...that makes it the Rose Nylund of Bourbons. Wait, is that the second Golden Girls joke we've made during Whiskey Week? It might be time to detox.
The Taste: A Hot 18 Year Old
There are quite a few flavors running through this one, vanilla and wood and honey and smoke among them. The honey is the most assertive, matched only by the smoke. In fact, this is an interesting one - it's very smoky, and where there's smoke there's fire. We liked the charred taste, and we also liked the throaty burn we could feel when the rye reared its head. It was viscous and oily, and you can expect the finish to hang around for a while even after you swallow it.
The Recipes: Don't You Dare
Seriously - don't mix this one. It's great straight, so don't bother with even water or ice. Seems like this would be a great Bourbon to go along with a cigar, but we didn't have any stogies around the office.
The Verdict: A Great Drink For Special Occasions
This one's complex and exciting, but it might be a bit much for people who don't drink a lot of Bourbon. It's definitely five-star stuff, but not one you'll want to use to bring someone into the fold. If you're an enthusiast and you haven't tried it yet, however, give it a shot and let us know what you think. We were quite pleased, and it's on our list for special occasions and gifts for bosses.
The Site: Learn more and see more reviews about Elijah Craig Single Barrel at the Bardstown Bourbon Society.
March 4, 2006
Very Special Old Fitzgerald
12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
90 Proof (45% ABV)
Typical Price: Around $45 for 750ml - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Usually, when something is called special, it puts us in mind of short buses and drool mops. When something is called "very special," it reminds us of chintzy 80s TV - "and tonight, on a very special episode of Golden Girls, Blanche learns the true meaning of friendship when the rest of the girls help her hide her herpes outbreak..." You know, that kind of stuff. When we saw Very Special Old Fitzgerald staring up at us from its squat, ugly little bottle, we were brought to mind of something along both of those lines.
It's a good thing we didn't let that pre-judgement keep us from trying a taste, however, because we would have been missing out on something truly...well...special. And we mean that in the nicest sense of the word.
The Color: Lovely Brown
It's very, special, old and brown.
The Nose: Caramel Apples
The first smell we took in was a delicate whiff of apple blossoms, followed by caramel. All in all it was very delicate, almost floral, with a leathery tinge at the end.
The Taste: Hi, Honey, I'm Home
The first taste was tart, with honey and brown sugar and fruit all very prominent. The fruit was a touch of the apple we smelled, mixed with a citrusy undertone. It smelled like leather and unsmoked tobacco, but It also reminded us of the bigger, older brother of Bernheim's Wheat Whiskey, and were we glad of that. We did a little reading, and we found out that Old Fitzgerald replaces most of the rye in its mix with wheat, so we weren't too far off in that comparison.
With the lessened amount of rye there was very little fire to it, and all in all, it was clean, sweet and perilously tasty. In fact, it was everything we could do not to muscle through a good portion of the bottle in a sitting.
The Recipes: Don't Even Think About It
Drink this one straight, or add one or two drops of cool water - resist the temptation to add ice or mix it.
The Verdict: Very Special, Indeed
This stuff is officially one of our favorite Bourbons. Pour a nice snort of it in a snifter, not a rocks glass, and sit down with your favorite book (or liquor-related website). Hold it up to your nose, swish it around in the glass, take a taste. This is Bourbon that makes you glad you drank all those other brands, because it lets you appreciate how good the one in your glass is.
The Site: Read up on Old Fitz at the Bardstown Bourbon Society.
March 3, 2006
Historically, we haven't paid much attention to popular whiskey liqueur Southern Comfort. You might think it's because we're purists who prefer to stick to pure whiskeys instead of sweeter liqueurs. In fact, you'd be wrong.
The real reason we haven't turned our bloodshot gaze to SoCo (as the kids call it) is that our editor-in-chief had a run-in with it in college, and he has trouble even looking at the bottle. It seems our fearless leader was in a "shot race" whilst in college, and he drank somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 shots of the stuff, with semi-disastrous results. Guess that doesn't really fit in with SoCo's "Start things up, Know when to stop. Drink Responsibly." campaign. Consider him properly chastised.
So why are we bringing it up? We've started seeing some pretty cool TV ads for the stuff, and they're flashy enough to even pique his interest. Our favorite one used to be the one where a group of friends is trying to find a train for Prague. The newest features a drink called the SoCo Lime, and it's set in New Orleans. Flashy visuals, peppy music and a kind of shot we'd never tried before? Let's just say we were interested.
Apparently all you do for a SoCo Lime is mix a shot of SoCo with a splash of sweetened lime juice (like Rose's for example), shake it with ice, and shoot it. Sounds similar to the daily ritual here in the Liquor Snob offices, and we're going to have to try it out. Learn more about SoCo and check out the ads if you haven't seen them yet, at SouthernComfort.com. Oh, and let us know if you've tried the SoCo Lime - will it be good enough to turn around the opinion of our relucant Editor in Chief?
Elijah Craig Bourbon
12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
94 Proof (47% ABV)
Typical Price: $15 - $20 for 750ml - buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Elijah Craig was a kindly old coot who used to travel the countryside, handing out Bourbon to all the good boys and girls. Actually he wasn't - we made all that up, but we really wish it was true. In fact, he was a Baptist minister from Kentucky who was pivotal in the creation of that sweet, sweet nectar we call bourbon. We recently got our hands on a bottle of the 12 year old small batch that's distilled under his name - does it live up to his legacy?
The Color: Reddish Brown
We like redheads, and Elijah Craig reminds us of one. Or at least his whiskey does.
The Nose: Butterscotch?
We were pleasantly surprised by the sweet smell of butterscotch and honey, but it's not cloyingly sweet - there's the warmth of rye in there too. Pleasantly, there was no alcoholic burn there - it just smelled welcoming.
The Taste: Keep It Complex, Stupid
Usually we like our drinks to be relatively simple. But Elijah Craig 12 Year Old posed us a challenge. There was a strong rye taste, spicy and heated. But then, we also tasted fruit, citrus and berries. And what else, maybe some of that butterscotch we smelled, as well as the woodiness of the oak? Yessir, it's all there. When we breathed in, we could feel the heat rushing into our lungs. Adding water or ice removed some of that heat, but we liked it best straight up.
The Recipes: What You Talking About Willis?
We're sure this stuff would be great in an Old Fashioned or something similar, but we recommend this one straight.
The Verdict: Excelsior!
We were very impressed with Elijah's 12 Year Old offering. Not our typical style, but it grew on us significantly. This is the one we've been turning to lately when it's time to do something a bit different. This one's great to chew on neat as you're sitting by a warm fireplace.
The Site: Learn more from the Bardstown Bourbon Society.
March 2, 2006
Evan Williams Single Barrel 1996
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
86.6 Proof (43.3% ABV)
Barreled on: 5/21/96
Bottled on: 2/06/06
Typical Price: Around $25 for 750ml
We were big fans of 1996. We graduated from college, The Onion moved to the Infernets, and Tupac Shakur faked his death. Another good thing that happened that year was that Evan Williams took a bunch of good Bourbon and put it into some nice oak barrels, and set them aside for a few years. Whereas most Bourbons are mixed from among various barrels, this stuff is all bottled from the same one.
What does that mean? Not much to your average drinker maybe, but it is pretty damn cool to look at the barrel number and vintage of your Bourbon as you sip it. The interesting thing is you won't necessarily get the same barrel or bottling date we did, so every bottle is more or less unique. How you doin', Barrel 144?
The Color: Brown. Seriously? Seriously.
It's a nice, clear and bright brownish color.
The Nose: What Is That Smell?
As we took our first whiff, we couldn't place it. We knew this stuff had been sitting in oak barrels for the last ten or so years. We could pick up on some corn undertones. It was pretty light and not too sharp on the nose, and for some reason it made us think of Sherry. But it didn't really hit us what it reminded us of until we tasted it.
The Flavors: Calling Smokey The Bear
Smoky all the way. We could taste the charred oak from the barrel along with the corn and rye - it was like corn and rye were fist fighting in a forest fire. In the middle there was some astringency, though it never pinched. But the weirdest thing was...we knew this was Bourbon, but we swear on all that was holy, the smokiness at the back end reminded us of our favorite Scotch, Lagavulin. Obviously there's no peat here, but the similarity was impressive.
The Recipes: Not Applicable
You don't mix single malt Scotch, and you don't mix with this. Seriously, this is a sipper - we didn't even put it on the rocks.
The Verdict: Bourbon for Scotch Lovers
This one took a few drinks to grow on us, but once it did we were completely converted. It's complex and challenging, and we really like the idea of it growing up in one barrel. Plus, the vintage and hand-written dates on the label made us feel like we were in a secret club, sipping special whiskey.
The Site: We found some notes about previous Single Barrel vintages, though it hasn't been updated for the 1996, at EvanWilliams.com.
March 1, 2006
There are some songs that require you to have a drink in your hand while you listen. One of those songs is "Whiskey River" by Willie Nelson. Nelson is a freaking genius, and it's the kind of song that makes you either want to jump up and down or cry into your glass, depending on your mood. His voice perfectly captures the feeling of wanting to pour whiskey on your sorrows, and it doesn't hurt that the rest of his career jumpstarting album "Shotgun Willie" is great too. Plus, for all you drinkers out there, you might also like "Bubbles in my Beer."
You can buy it at Amazon for under ten bucks, or if you need more convincing, read on.
Amazon.com essential recording
Frustrated by eight years without creative freedom or commercial success, Willie Nelson left RCA Victor in 1972 only to be signed by Atlantic Records VP Jerry Wexler, a longtime fan. Willie and a group of Texas, Nashville, and Manhattan musicians (Doug Sahm and Larry Gatlin among them) recorded three albums worth of material in New York, including this benchmark collection.
A musical crazy quilt reflecting Nelson's own freewheeling repertoire, it mixed Willie compositions old ("Slow Down Old World") and new ("Shotgun Willie") with a Bob Wills favorite ("Bubbles in My Beer"), Johnny Bush's Texas barroom anthem "Whiskey River," and a stately rendition of Leon Russell's "A Song for You."
Literate, sharply focused, and earthy, it proved a turning point, validating Willie's creative quest aesthetically. The triumph was also a commercial one. Acclaimed by the rock music press, Shotgun Willie attracted many younger fans to become Nelson's bestselling album to date, paving the way for his future superstardom at Columbia and beyond. --Rich Kienzle
Read more and buy your copy at Amazon
- oh, and don't forget to stock up on whiskey and hankies before you listen.
The months are just flying by lately, and February was no exception. That could have been due to the blackouts, or it could have been due to the stars in our eyes around Valentine's Day. We just LOOOOVE booze. Oh, and our sweethearts too... Anyway, this month we sampled some high-end Tequila, kicked off a full week of Whiskey drinking, covered an "I Hate Valentine's Day" contest, discovered the cell phone flask, and started a love affair with a coca-filled liqueur called Agwa. See below for all the highlights (and lowlights) of the month of love.
Liquor Reviews and Info
Ivanabitch Vodka: Yes, It's Called 'Ivanabitch'
Crazy Cocktail Recipe: Scotch and Milk, Baby!
Build Your Muscles With Vitamin Beer
Agwa de Bolivia Coca Leaf Liqueur Review
Don Eduardo Silver Tequila Review
Killepitsch Fruit Liqueur Arrives For Review
Distiller To Release 184 Proof Whisky
Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bourbon Review
Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon Review
Product Reviews and Info
Pavina Double-Walled Glassware
Breathalyzer Pen Shows BAC and UV So You Can TCB
Cell Phone Flasks and Guns, Oh My!
Just Plain Cool
Bar Bets You're Sure to Win
Cocktail Parties 101
'I Hate Valentine's Day' Contest Winner Announced
Share a Beer with a Complete Stranger
Liquor Before Beer, NOT in the Clear?
Liquor Bottle Case Mod is Tres Geeky
Evan Williams 1783
Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
10 Year Old Sour Mash
Typical Price: About $11 for 750ml - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
1783 was a pretty big year, in terms of American history. For one thing, Washington Irving was born. OK, so Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman isn't enough for you? It was also the year the Revolutionary War ended! Is that a big enough deal for you? Of course, good things happen in threes, so the other important event is that Evan Williams started distilling his Bourbon in this prestigious year. We've just tried the Evan Williams 1783 expression and we have to say - we're glad he did.
The Color: Brown!
The Nose: Big and Rich
This one has a very subtle and rich smell, with hints of vanilla and a tiny rye bite. If you ask us, this is what Bourbon should smell like.
The Flavors: Nice and Smooth
Very smooth, and not the slightest bit harsh, sweet as it hits the tongue. When we swished it around our mouths we felt an herbal, almost minty twinge, without much alcohol burn as we swallowed. The finish wasn't too aggressive, and we really liked the balance between the sweetness of the corn and the quick bite of the rye.
The Recipes: Go On and Mix It
This stuff would be great in any whiskey drink you can think of, and for the price, you don't even feel guilty about mixing it. We still liked it best with just a splash of water, though.
The Verdict: Tall, Dark and Handsome
This is the way it should be - top notch Bourbon for a bottom shelf price. We were floored by the fact that an $11 Bourbon could taste this good. We recommend heading out to find a bottle, and keep in mind that you can probably buy three of them for the price you'd pay for another bottle with comparable quality.
The Site: We couldn't find any official info about this product online.