April 7, 2006
Ever muscled your way to the bar during the busiest time of a Friday night, squeezing your way through the throngs until you reach that wooden slab of promised land, only to find that the jackass in line ahead of you ordered 14 Long Island Iced Teas, a Flirtini and a Fuzzy Navel? All you want is a beer, but you have to wait while the bartender peels, shakes and crushes his way through the drink.
Did that piss you off a bit? Turns out you're probably not alone - the bartender was just smiling through gritted teeth to get the tip. Find out the right way - and the right time - to order drinks like Lemon Drops, Manhattans and Martinis, plus find out how to avoid being smacked upside the head with a muddler, by reading the article below.
Being in the hospitality industry, bartenders don't like to grumble. But there are certain drinks they hate to make.
The primary reason a particular cocktail earns bartenders' ire is the time it takes to make. On a busy night, with patrons three-deep, most bar professionals don't want to spend five minutes muddling mint leaves.
Other dreaded orders are popular drinks that have no accepted, consistent recipe; the martini is a classic example. These invite the customer to say the drink was made incorrectly, no matter how it was mixed.
San Francisco Chronicle: Five drinks that bartenders just hate to make
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 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 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.
February 17, 2006
There comes a time in every man's life when he has to win a bar bet. Whether you're trying to scam a free drink, win cab fare home, or impress the current object of his affection, bar bets can come in handy. There are all sorts of fun ones to try, bets you can always win as long as you have a little bit of guile, a smidgen of charm, and a winning smile to deflect the anger of the guy you just rooked.
We found a bunch of great bar bet info at Ask Men, from Matchstick Magic to Mind Reading to Roman Math, which if executed properly will make you the King of the Bar, envied for your cunning. If so, you can say you learned your tricks from Liquor Snob. Or, you'll end up pissing someone off and have to make a break for it. If that's the case...um, well...good luck with that.
From Ask Men:
How to Be Popular in Bars: Includes Matchstick Magic, It's a Race, Trading Places, and Mind Reading
How to Be Popular in Bars 2: Includes A Penny for Your Thoughts, Roman Math, 3D Thinking, and Mental Mover
Oh, and before the ladies get upset with us about being exclusionary, we know we said "there comes a time in every MAN's life." We made it gender-specific because we know you're way smarter than we'll ever be, and would never stoop to such trickery and shenanigans.
February 13, 2006
To be honest, most of our parties aren't your typical "pinkies-up whilst you sip your umbrella drink" affairs. In fact, usually when we throw a party it lands hard and something gets broken. But that's not to say we'll never grow up, and we think it's important to know how to throw a swanky party - who knows when you'll need to impress your boss, your S.O.'s parents or your parole officer.
Most of the tips we came up with on our own were along the lines of "make sure to have plenty of vomit buckets accessible," so we didn't trust ourselves to be your only resource. We've found some very basic tips to give you ideas for your next cocktail party, and we'll keep digging around for more.
- Choose your guest list. Invite people with different interests who might not otherwise meet. Throughout the party, be sure to introduce your guests to each other and give them topics to discuss.
- Send invitations via snail mail. Make your guests feel special when they receive something other than virtual mail. Choose invitations based on your theme. Don't forget to specify attire in the invitations. You don't want to make your guests feel uncomfortable by having one person show up in a party dress and another show up in jeans.
- Select your party area. Whether the party will be held in your house or at a rented space, be sure you have areas designated for specific purposes. Set up a place for the bar, seating, mingling and a dance floor, if desired.
- Prepare the appetizer menu. Ideally, you should have equal amounts of cold appetizers and warm appetizers. Throw in a few desserts for good measure.
- Set up drink accessories. These are the memorable touches that will leave your guests "ooohing" and "aaahing." Have plenty of kitschy items like plastic swords and paper umbrellas on hand. Cut up different types of fruits and vegetables and place colorful toothpicks in them. Of course, have a wide array of funky glasses available. Bar towels, an ice bucket and tongs, and cocktail shakers are other good ideas.
- Select music for the party. Choose tunes that will keep your guests grooving all night long. Again, keep your music in line with the theme. Think of the tone you want to set for your party and make sure the music will reflect it. Does your ideal party involve dancing? Do you want soft, mellow music so your guests can focus more on conversation?
- Plan the drink menu. This is the most important step for a successful cocktail party. Select drinks that maintain your theme. If you're having a retro '60s party, serve Cosmopolitans. If your theme is tropical, serve Tequila Sunrises. Consider using pre-prepared drink mixes to simplify your job without compromising on excitement.
Check out Cocktail Parties 101
for more tips, plus you'll find recipes for drinks including Cosmos, Gimlets and Mojitos. The recipes call for something called Daily's Fruit Mixers, but you can use whatever ingredients you have around, of course.
January 22, 2006
It has come to our attention that we're among the most directionally-challenged people we know. We often make wrong turns or just plain go in the wrong direction, which usually ends up with us calling and sheepishly asking for "the directions one more time." We can usually live with it, when we're driving to mundane things like work, parole hearings or the in-laws. But last night we missed a party we'd been looking forward to all week due to poor planning, bad luck, and the frustration that comes about when you're driving around a town you don't know at night.
So this morning we've compiled some tips to help you avoid the traps we fell into last night. See below for our advice, and please chime in with suggestions of your own.
- Bring the host's phone number: Writing it on the directions is a good way to make sure you have it, and don't forget your f@&%ing cell phone like we did!
- Double-check your directions: There are tons of resources available for mapping your route that didn't exist a few years ago, so check out the route in a couple of them to find the easiest one; don't just rely on one. To quote the scribes Samberg and Parnell, "let's hit up yahoo maps to find the dopest route. i prefer mapquest! that's a good one too. google maps is the best! true that! double true!"
- Don't be afraid to ask: Sometimes even the best directions can be confusing if you're not familiar with the area - and it doesn't help that you'll usually be trying to get to a party at night so you can't see anything. Don't let your machismo get in the way of stopping off to get oriented.
- Don't pick fights with your co-pilot: If you have someone reading the directions for you, they're most likely just as interested in getting to the party as you are. Both of you should keep tempers in check if you get lost, and don't let frustration get in the way of finding your destination.
- Bring a flashlight: That way the co-pilot can look at a map and read the directions without turning on the dome lights or distracting the driver.
Those are our thoughts - and yeah, it seems excessive to some of you, but for those of you who've gotten lost, we hope we've been of help. We probably don't have to address the more basic stuff, like make sure you have plenty of gas and don't get into the beer until you arrive, right? Now, if someone will just come up with one of those Google Maps hacks
that would show all the liquor stores on the route to the party, and all the McDonald's on the way home, we'll be all set.
January 20, 2006
It's no secret how much we love Jager Meister here at Liquor Snob - we're this close to getting a "Jager" tattoo on the inside of our lower lip with an arrow pointing into our mouth so we'll remember what to do when we're nine sheets to the wind. We usually drink it straight, and right out of the bottle, but one drink we've always been intrigued by is the Jager Bomb, a combination of the nectar and Red Bull. One part crazy liqueur plus two parts energy drink equals nine parts awesome, if you ask us.
In fact, we've decided the best way to spend this lazy Friday afternoon is to bomb our livers like Dresden. We're not interested in messing around with dropping the shots into the pint glass and all that fooferall though - we're going Quaffer all the way! Plus, what better way to remember Sidney Frank, the man who brought us Jager for so long, now that he's gone?
Check out the Jager Recipes we found over at The Sporting Life:
We here at The Sporting Life are no authority on whether or not Jagermeister really contains reindeer blood, but we aren’t about to research it and spoil the fun for everybody. This weekend, raise a toast to Rudolph with this classic, and a couple of newbies for good measure.
The Classic: Jager Bomb
1/2 can Red Bull energy drink (wings optional, but they might help keep you off the floor)
1 shot Jagermeister
Drop the shot in the Red Bull and gulp
Newbie #1: Jager Vacation
1 oz Jagermeister
2 oz Pineapple juice
2 oz Pina Colada mix
Shake with ice
Newbie #2: Jägermonster
1 shot Jager
Grenadine to taste (1 oz)
5 oz orange juice
via The Sporting Life: Make It A Jager Weekend
. For more info and recipes, go right to the reindeer's mouth at JagerBomb.com
January 9, 2006
For the record, we came this close to canceling the Liquor Snobby awards for this year. No reason in particular, really, beyond the fact that we always like to look forward instead of back (like, for example, the way we always look forward to our next drink). Well, that and the fact that "Best of 2005" lists have been popping up as often as Anna Nicole Smith's shirt, and we recently remembered how much we hate award shows. We're pretty sure we'd been drinking when we announced the Liquor Snobbies, but we'll make sure the show goes on and our favorite products of the year get their righteous due.
We've split the awards up into Liquids and Solids categories, and each contains multiple sub-categories along with the winners of this year's crop of online Golden Flasks. So here they are, in no particular order...
Continue reading: "The Liquor Snobby Awards: Best of 2005"
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