June 22, 2006

Beer Woes Drive Bud to the Hard Stuff

Down in the MouthThings haven't been going so well for the beer industry lately as more and more people put down their suds turn to hard liquor. As we reported last fall, Anheuser Busch is still planning a move into the spirits category to try to make up for some of their lost sales.

"The loss of beer volume to wine and hard liquor has accelerated in recent years," company president August Busch IV told a liquor industry group earlier this month.

"And if this trend continues, we at Anheuser-Busch will have to reevaluate our business model going forward in terms of expanding beyond beer and broadening our position within the total alcohol industry," Busch told the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators, according to a transcript of the speech.

Anheuser-Busch is simply trying to remain relevant with consumers that are constantly searching for interesting products, said Benj Stein, whose beer industry newsletter reported Busch's comments last month.

via MSN Money

So it won't be a total move away from that frothy, tasteless brew you drank in college - consider it more of dipping a toe in the hard liquor pool. Called "Jekyll and Hyde," Bud's first booze is two separate liquors designed to be mixed together and drunk, or apparently mixed with beer. All we know is we hope it tastes better than their trip into alcoholic energy drinks, because we still throw up in our mouths a little bit when we think about Tilt.

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June 20, 2006

Scorpion Mezcal Arrives for Review

Down the HatchBack in the old days, if you wanted a drink with a creepy crawly in it, you had to settle for a plain old worm in your Mezcal...or wait for a cockroach to fall from your ceiling into your glass. Then, way back in January, we told you about Scorpion Mezcal, a spirit that has something way cooler than your run-of-the-mill scuttling arthropod. Yes, as you can probably guess from the name, every bottle of Scorpion Mezcal contains a scorpion...de-stingered and harmless of course, but cool nonetheless. After much heartache and some pretty hefty maneuvering (thanks, Barbara) we've finally got a bottle in our hands, and we have to say...it's just as badass as you might think.

We're itching to review this, mostly because we can't wait to see what a Mezcal-soaked scorpion tastes like, but we're going to have to wait until the weekend for this one. Color us excited, and if everything goes according to plan, if you see us on Sunday morning we'll be the ones with bits of exoskeleton in our teeth. Anyway, take some of the sting out of the wait (get it?) by checking out the Scorpion Mezcal site.

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June 8, 2006

Bad Week Plus New Liquor Equals Good Week

Check Out Our Package!It's been a strange week here at the Liquor Snob offices. First, our fearless Editor in Chief hurt his neck in a drinking-related incident - we can't decide if it's completely punk rock or the signs of old age. Then, the Interweb connection at casa del Snob went out, and we weren't able to get it turned back on for almost a week...just goes to show you the kind of clout we have as a corporation. "But," you might well say, "don't you have a fleet of interns who could have taken the reigns of the juggernaut and kept things rolling during the course of the week?" We thought so too, but they went on strike as soon as the Web connection went down, drinking all the liquor in the office and muttering about mutiny. There's gratitude for you.

Then, in our darkest hour, as we were reaching the depths of despair, two things happened. One, the guy came to fix our Internets. Then, the UPS dude showed up with a mystery box, and it was one of those awesome mystery boxes we receive from time to time, the kind that gurgles when you shake it. Someone had sent us a box full of booze. You'd be surprised how the morale skyrocketed when we pulled three bottles of nectar out of the box.

The first bottle was Zygo Vodka, which we covered last week, and has had our hearts all pitter patter as the caffeinated breakfast vodka of our dreams. The second was 44 North, a huckleberry-flavored Vodka made in Idaho, also the home of our favorite orange vodka. Bottle #3 was from Compass Box, a blended Scotch Whisky called Asyla, which we've heard great things and we've been very excited about.

Check out Zygo, 44 North and Compass Box at their respective sites, and you can expect a review with relative soonness, especially now that our computers can serve as more than glorified paperweights.

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May 13, 2006

Sambala Caipirinha Liqueur Review

Sambala Caipirinha Liqueur
Brazilian Rum and Lemon Flavored Alcopop
About 11 Proof (5.6% ABV)

Sambala CaipirinhaFor those not in the know, a caipirinha is a Brazilian cocktail typically made from Cachaca, limes, sugar, and ice. Sambala is a RTD (Ready to Drink) caipirinha cocktail, similar to something like a Smirnoff Ice or Bacardi Silver, but since it's made outside of the country, they can actually use real liquor instead of flavoring a "malt beverage." This drink is Rum-based instead of being made with Cachaca, but the use of real rum gives it at least a shot of tasting like the real drink. We don't know many details about this stuff since most of the info we can find isn't in English, but we gave it a taste and put together a few thoughts for you.

The Color: Mellow Yellow
We've usually heard of Cachaca being made with limes, but this drink is lemon-based. When poured in a glass, the look is cloudy and almost milky - it almost looks like a pale-colored lemonade.

The Nose: When Life Gives You Lemons...
...put them in a cocktail. Sambala smelled tart yet sweet, with an overwhelming waft of lemons on the nose. We didn't detect any rum smell at all, and it smelled about how we remember the smell of Mike's Hard Lemonade.

The Taste:Sweeeeeet
The first thing we thought of when we took a sip that this stuff is thick. That's the only way we can describe it. We took a sip and it coated our tongues with a syrupy, tart sweetness that was surprising at first. Sambala was actually a fair amount sweeter than the smell indicated, which isn't shocking since a major ingredient is sugar cane, and we tasted a hint of rum on the back end, but nothing overwhelming. This stuff is meant to be drunk ice cold, and we even liked it on the rocks to help thin it out a bit. We liked the lemon taste, and we're no experts, but for some reason it didn't seem quite right to have a caipirinha with anything other than limes.

The Verdict: Give it a Shot
Sambala was a bit too sweet for us, but we're not big alcopop drinkers either. If you're an RTD fan, this is something you'll probably want to give a try if you happen across it. Even if you're not a big RTD drinker, don't knock it until you try it. And hell, if you like it, pick up a bottle of Cachaca and whip up a caipirinha recipe of your own.

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May 3, 2006

Flaming Jell-O Shots, Anyone?

Jello + Flame = AwesomeWe love watching science march along, making lives better for everyone. For example, a few months ago we covered a story about some dedicated scientists attempting to maximize the booze in their Jello shots. Not only did they expand our knowledge of the viscosity of booze and gelatin, they also led us to a discovery of our own - the pudding shot.

We didn't know if they were going to be able to top that experiment - but they have once again pushed the boundaries usually acknowledged by boozers and mixologists alike. So get out your flame retardant pants and your asbestos shot glass, and check out what those mad scientists are up to now.

We were overwhelmed with feedback to our original Jell-O shots experiment raising dozens of unanswered questions and new areas of research. Such as: What happens when you add unflavored gelatin to regular Jell-O shots? How much grain alcohol can you put in a Jell-O shot? And perhaps most importantly, What happens when you light a Jell-O shot on fire? We went back to the fridge, and in our next round of Jell-O experiments, found the answers to these questions, and many more that no one thought to ask.
From Lighting a Jell-O Shot on Fire at MyScienceProject.org.

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May 1, 2006

The Complete Book of Spirits

Complete Book of SpiritsWe know this might come as a surprise, but we spend a lot of time in liquor stores. Sometimes we'll spend hours in the aisles of our local hooch vendor, lovingly caressing the bottles and even dusting them if they're looking like they need some care.

If you'd rather spend less time at the liquor store (for some reason), we've found a great book - The Complete Book of Spirits. Living up to its name, this book offers a ton of information on everything from Brandy to Vodka. The book offers comprehensive historical backgrounds and general pricing information on all kinds of booze, which makes it an indispensable reference when you're trying to decide what to buy. But the real value of the book is in the tasting notes, which give you a two-to-three sentence description of the quality and taste of hundreds of liquors, both common and rare.

Check out the Amazon book description:

An indispensable follow-up to his classic Complete Book of Mixed Drinks, Anthony Dias Blue presents The Complete Book of Spirits, a comprehensive collection of history, lore, and tasting tips, along with recipes for select cocktails. Here, in one concise and easy-to-use volume, is all the information a consumer needs to shop, mix, and sip like a spirits expert.

From bathtub gin to mojito madness, Blue brings the dynamic history of the spirits industry alive, demonstrating that spirit making is not only one of mankind's oldest pursuits but also perhaps its most colorful. In ten captivating chapters, readers are treated to everything they ever wanted to know about their favorite liquors, including vodka, aquavit, tequila, and whiskey. Blue also provides step-by-step instructions on how to host spirit tastings to educate your palate and to help you and your friends discover your favorite brands and blends. For every chapter and every spirit, there is also a handy tasting-notes section, with Blue's expert comments and his favorites, along with price points.

If you've ever wondered about the difference between potato and wheat vodkas, or between mescal and tequila or American and Irish whiskeys, or what makes single malt Scotch so desirable, look no further. With Anthony Dias Blue, America's leading wine and spirits expert, and The Complete Book of Spirits as your guides, you will take your enjoyment to a new level.

The cover price is $24.95, but you can pick the book up at Amazon for closer to $16, plus you'll can save yourself a ton of money if you're the type who buys bottles just to see what they taste like.

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April 25, 2006

Organic Booze? Drink Up, Hippie

HippieLooking to get drunk, but afraid of all the creepy chemicals that might make it into your Mai Tai? Maybe you should think about getting yourself some organic booze or beer - sometimes it's a little more expensive, but you can drink all you want without your typical fear of imbibing a pesticide cocktail.

Read on to find out about all kinds of organic liquors, including Rum, Vodka, Gin and Beer.

Papagayo organic rums (plain and spiced), the world's first, come from a remote region in Paraguay. A project started in 1993 helped the local farmers, now some 800+, cultivate organic sugar cane. Because their crops are now ITFA certified the farmers benefit from higher prices, are educated in all aspects of farming, and the land benefits from being planted organically. These single estate rums hold their own in the taste department.
Cool Hunting - Cheers to Earth Day, via The Sporting Life

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April 21, 2006

The Art of Drinking Shots

Another Round?There's nothing that says Friday like "Let's do shots," but the slightest misstep in the ancient ritual could turn you from bar room hero to loveable loser in two seconds flat. Who gets to make the toast? When do you drink? Should you clink your glasses? It can all be overwhelming, but luckily Modern Drunkard Magazine has put together a step-by-step guide to keep you from falling flat on your face the next time you buy (or participate in) a round.

Let’s do a shot. ”

Are there four words in the drunkard’s vocabulary more heartening than those? Four simple words, yet so packed with drama and purpose. It can be an invitation to bond with friends and strangers alike. An instant shared experience. A way of marking an occasion, of saying hello, good luck, congratulations, better luck next time, and so long. An opportunity to become blood brothers, if only as long as the same booze courses through your veins. If sharing a beer with a friend can be called the equivalent of a friendly walk in the park, then doing a shot is akin to storming a fortified bunker together-—it’s more dangerous, yes, but also more exciting.

Too often, however, this venerable ritual is executed as a mechanical event, like the lighting of a cigarette, or worse, as a bit of unpleasantness one must occasionally suffer when amongst friends. Others think it requires a special occasion, and those are the same people who only call their mothers on Mother’s Day.

The fact of the matter is, doing a shot requires no occasion at all, because, properly executed, it is an occasion.

via Modern Drunkard Magazine - The Art of the Shot

Read on to learn the five steps of a successfully executed shooter. Plus, check out their list of shot faux-pas, including the Bungee Dump, the Chicken Shot, and Premature Imbibation - avoid them like the plague to make sure no one's laughing at you on the other side of their glass.

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April 14, 2006

Guest Review: Roaring 20s Cigars

Cigars!We've been thinking about offering up guest reviews for a while now, but we haven't gotten around to it until now. We realized that the perfect opportunity to do so was going to be with the Roaring 20s cigars we got in a while back...we're not big cigar smokers, but we know people who are. Now, we know the site is called "Liquor Snob" not "Cigar Snob," but we also know there are some days when there's nothing like a good smoke to go with your drink.

So, we ended up giving our good friend Jersey Jimmo a call, and he really pulled through for us. Or, he pulled something at least. We were concerned some of the review might have to be redacted in the name of good taste, but then we realized...what the hell? It's Friday. Enjoy Jersey Jimmo's review, and we hope it won't be the last.

Myeh, schee? Mugsy’s gonna rub one out

OK, folks, when I am asked to review cigars with packaging dominated by drawings of Depression-era gangsters and their Betty Boop-looking floozies whose enormous nipples are visible through their sheer nighties, I think to myself, “Oh boy, porn meets cigars, this can’t be good.” I mean, it’s not often I’m handed a cigar box with a label that could inspire some morally bankrupt, pathetically desperate loser to wank.

After I pulled my pants up and put the KY away, I lit one. Whatever doubts I had were quickly dispelled after a few puffs; this was a serious, well-made cigar. Of course this realization didn’t stop me from striking a few gangster poses, holding an imaginary Tommy gun, and saying aloud, “Myeh, schee? Mugsy just rubbed one out, schee?” Hand rolled (with a “heart-on,” the labels claim) in the Dominican Republic, the larger “Churchhill” sized cigars come in four varieties with the major difference between them being the wrapper leaf, Indonesian (Untouchables), Ecuador (Gangsters), Sumatran (Godfathers), or Connecticut shade (Classics).

After sampling one of each, I can truthfully say all of them pull well, distinguish themselves from each other with noticeable and pleasant tastes, and stay lit. The smaller, cigarette-sized Bootlegger Sweeties come with natural as well as added flavoring, amaretto, vanilla, or rum. These also pull well and the flavoring is thankfully subtle. However, the shredded tobacco filler was a disappointment, and like many small cigars they do not stay lit for very long.

Mild yet flavorful, Speakeasies will appeal to both the gangster upstart, longing for a taste of Al Capone fame for an evening, and the kingpin connoisseur, seeking to add variety to his humidor, or to celebrate the variety of dead stool pigeons in the trunk of his Packard.

Oh, and if you get your hands on some cigars (at Al-Capone.com, for example) and want to strike some gangster poses of your own, we recommend getting some Tommy Guns Vodka to go with them...it's one of our favorite vodkas, and it comes in a bottle shaped like a gun. We've found it's perfect for running around pretending to be a gangster. Just ask our interns...

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April 10, 2006

Cachaca - Not Just For Peasants Anymore

Cachaca Bottle and GlassThe first time someone mentioned Cachaca to us, we wanted to say "Gesundheit." It turns out they weren't sneezing, however - they were telling us about a rum-like Brazilian spirit that's starting to appear in bars and liquor stores all over the country. Who knew?

Cachaca (kah-SHAH-sah) is a colorless liquor made from sugar cane juice. Regulators in the United States would call it a rum, which is defined here as any spirit distilled to less than 95 percent alcohol made from molasses, sugar cane juice or sugar cane syrup.

In fact, the drink we consider rum is made from molasses and has a higher proof than cachaca, says Ed Hamilton, an importer, author and proprietor of the Ministry of Rum Web site (www.ministryofrum.com).

Cachaca traditionally "has been considered a cheap peasants' drink," Hamilton said by phone last week, several days after the International Cane Spirits Festival Tasting Competition in Tampa. "A lot of it isn't wonderful."

courier-journal.com: Can You Say Cachaca?

Sounds like South American moonshine to us, and after a ringing endorsement like that, of course we ran out and got ourselves a bottle - the review will be posted soon. If you end up with a bottle of the stuff, you should know it's not traditionally drunk straight - it's usually used to make the caipirinha (kye-pee-REEN-yah), where it's mixed with a pantload of sugar and fresh lime juice to make a drink somewhat similar to a Mojito without mint. You can check out a typical recipe at Maria Brazil, and if you don't have any cachaca on hand, go ahead and make one with rum or vodka.

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