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October 2008

This month's sponsors

Alcademics thanks this month's sponsors- please give them a click! Oval Vodka- Nominate your drink for the Oval Office Hiram Walker Liqueurs- Now in Pumpkin Spice and Gingerbread flavors. Absinthe Mata Hari- She's sure to steal your heart. Read more →

Hotel Wine MacGuyver

Say you find yourself in a hotel room on a cold London night, caught in a bout of sleep-free jetlag, but prepared to take the edge off with a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, you forget to bring a corkscrew. You don't have any cash to tip room service for bringing one up. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO? I can tell you what I did tonight. First, I paid the 20 dollar wi-fi fee (note to Cumberland Hotel- screw you!) and looked up a solution. The suggestions included banging it on a tree and using a hammer/screw. Having... Read more →

Clearly a Failure

There are various methods people use to make the clearer ice. To remove the air bubbles that make ice cloudy, people suggest boiling or refreezing the water. I decided to give a few options a try to see what worked best. But as we'll see, my results are less than conclusive. Using individual sized apple sauce cups (these are great large cubes for drinking whisky, as you don't want the ice to melt too rapidly and water it down) I froze the following into ice: Control ice- regular ice poured from the Britta filter, probably two days old Re-frozen- above... Read more →

The Pisco/Vodka Border

Vodka can be made from most anything- corn, wheat, potatoes, grapes, maple syrup, honey, molasses, sugar beets, etc. But it is distilled to high proof to remove most flavor, and most of these base materials don't come in a lower distillation proof, unaged form. (Barring corn likker, of course.) But trying some recent products made me realize there is a closer boundary between pisco and vodka. Pisco 100 is a brand I've written about before that's a very light, sweet, floral pisco. At the SF World Spirits Competition Double Gold Winner tasting event in San Francisco a while back, I... Read more →

Glossy Booze: Late October Edition

Glossy Booze is a round-up of booze stories in magazines. In the industry magazine Tasting Panel, I have a short write-up on the Ocho Tequila launch event in San Francisco, and a long piece on the evolving cocktail scene in Sacramento. (Oh, and I just noticed my report from last month about Tales of the Cocktail is online.) Conde Nast Traveler (November) has two booze stories: One on in which bars and restaurants republican and democrat candidates eat, and a long travel piece on Kentucky Bourbon and the KY Bourbon Trail. The story also includes ratings and cocktails from the... Read more →

A day with Charbay

The other week I sat down on the patio behind Swirl on Castro with Marko Karakasevic and Jenni soon-to-be Karakasevic of Charbay and tasted through their line of products. Charbay is a family-run winery and distillery in Napa Valley. And boy do these people like to play with the still- in addition to wine, they make flavored vodka, rum, whiskey, walnut liqueur, grappa, pastis, port, and now some aperitifs. It's hard to keep up with them. The aperitifs are neither eau de vie nor typical liqueurs, but flavored fortified wines. Currently they produce a pomegranate and a green tea flavor,... Read more →

New Booze: Tru 2 Organic Gin

Why it's interesting: While nearly all gins are vodka that is infused with herbs and redistilled, Tru 2 Gin stops at the infusion- and proudly advertises that. (It's a light gold color because of this.) Also, I believe it is only the second organic gin on the market. The product is made by Modern Spirits, a company that produces a range of flavored vodkas, as well as the Tru Organic Vodka line. Like most gin (and many vodka) companies, they purchase their spirit elsewhere and blend and dilute it in-house. Here they use their creative infusion talents to turn this... Read more →