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October 2011
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December 2011

November 2011

In Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, I have a story about bartenders making complicated infusions. I kept seeing bartenders infusing Chartreuse, Campari, vermouth, and bitters - things that already have dozens of ingredients (or 130 in the case of Chartreuse), and I thought to myself, "WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?" (I always talk to myself in capslock.) As I researched the story and interviewed bartenders, I realized that in every case it's not that they thought "Oh this Campari is missing something, I bet it would be better with cinnamon," or "Hey it's cool now to infuse complicated things." Instead, in each... Read more →

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Last night I went to sample a few of the new cocktails at the Starlight Room in San Francisco. One of them is the Pitch Black Amsterdam, made with brandy, genever, ROOT liqueur, and a splash of Frangelico. Bar Manager Joel Teitelbaum tops it with a vanilla foam (vanilla, eggwhite, lemon juice) and then brulees that with Angostura bitters lit on fire. (You may remember this technique from Jeffrey Morgenthaler.) Here is a video of that at the Starlight Room. We tried that drink (good, but mostly notable for the pyrotechnics), the Prize Pumpkin made with both pumpkin liqueur and... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

Cocktail Menu: AQ in San Francisco

While waiting on their full liquor licence, new bar/restaurant AQ has launched a menu of creative aperitif wine cocktails. Keep reading below. Aromatic Cocktails: 10 dollars Churchill’s Bane Winston Churchill may not have thought much about vermouth, but we love the stuff. Gin Botanicals have been infused into dry vermouth and combined with Blanc Vermouth and orange bitters, topped with a twist of lemon, for our take on the Classic Martini. The Palanquin You don’t need the pedigree of a king to enjoy this cocktail, just “hop” on your very own palanquin and let 21st amendment IPA, Lillet blanc, Lemon... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

Videos of Recharring Barrels at Hakushu Distillery

On my visit to the Hakushu distillery in Japan we watched a guy recharring ex-bourbon barrels. Recharring is when you refresh a barrel by burning the inside of a previously-used cask to give it additional life for aging spirits. In this first video, we watch the recharring process while Mike Miyamoto explains that whisky aged in recharred barrels is more astringent than whisky aged in non-recharred barrels. In this second video, we watch the rechar guy put out the flame with one scoop of water. Read more →

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Yesterday I wrote about visiting the Hakushu distillery in Japan. Today I'll write about Suntory's other single-malt distillery, Yamazaki. It is located between Kyoto and Osaka, at the convergence of several rivers. I believe they said the distillery welcomes 100,000 visitors each year. (Mount Fuji as seen from the train to Kyoto.) The Yamazaki distillery was built in 1923 and launched its first whisky, the White Label, in 1929. That whisky is still made today. The distillery location was chosen because of its water (as are most distilleries), also sought out by Sen no Rikyo, the inventor of the Japanese... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

I visited the Hakushu distillery owned by Suntory, located in the Yamanashi prefecture, about two hours by train from Tokyo in Japan. There is a new Hakushu single malt whisky on the US market. As I mentioned in a previous post, Hakushu was built in 1973 and is located at a high elevation - 700 meters above sea level. (Scotland's highest distilleries are Dalwhinnie and Braeval, both about 355 meters.) On the train ride there, your ears are continually clogging as you change elevation. The distillery is on a large site to protect its water source, and doubles as a... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

As part of the Sugar Spirit project, I am starting to be more aware of types of sugar in other countries. When traveling to Japan recently, I picked up a couple of packets of sugar. I am not sure what the "Sugar Free Sweetener" in the pink envelope is. The blue packet is called "Jogger's Step One." The back of the packet says it's free from saccharin and sodium. The sweetener is "extracted and refined from a plant of chrsanthemum species." The Sugar Spirit Project is sponsored by Bacardi Rum. Content created and owned by Camper English for Alcademics. For... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

In Japan on October 31 I attended the 2011 Suntory "The Cocktail Award," the finals of Japan's largest cocktail competition with about 1000 entrants. As you can see in the photo below, the awards were a big production. At this competition, the 18 finalists competed in three groups. Each of the groups used a different required ingredient in their drink (Lejay Cassis, Beefeater Gin, or Hibiki 12). A winner was chosen from each group and an overall winner was chosen from those three. The contest was held and judged by IBA (International Bartender's Association) rules. These are very formal rules-... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.