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March 2012

Find Me in the Penthouse

Penthouse magazine, that is. I have a story in the April issue about my trip to Warsaw and the ancient forest with ZU vodka, the bison grass vodka known throughout the world as Zubrowka. But I'm also in Penthouse as a model, again! Of course you'll recognize my hand, sexily caressing that piece of bison grass. Damn I look good. Always. But if you don't have a subscription to the magazine you can read my write up here on Alcademics. Read more →

Cocktail Menu: The Fifth Floor in San Francisco

The Fifth Floor restaurant has another new bar manager, this time Brian Means, who was most recently at Zero Zero. There's also a new cocktail list that just launched with a focus on gin and whisky drinks. The full cocktail list has a few ongoing sections showing Kimpton Hotel Group mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout's influence, the Martini Over Time menu and a page of Negroni variations. There are two additional pages of drinks that I had a chance to try. Some notes are below the ingredients. Spanish Maiden House infused Buddha Hand Tequila, Vida Mezcal, St. Germain, Rose Geranium, Habanero Pink... Read more →

Where Irish Whiskey Really Is Really Made

In my story last week in the San Francisco Chronicle, I didn't get the chance to be as nerdy as I wanted to with the specifics of the three (and a half) distilleries in Ireland and which whiskies they make. So here are more details from an earlier draft of the story. Jameson, which accounts for seventy percent of Irish whiskey sales in the US, is made at the Midleton distillery in Cork, in the south of Ireland, from a blend of column-distilled grain whiskey and triple distilled “pure pot still” (now called "single-pot still") whiskey. “Pure Single pot still”... Read more →

Irish Whiskey Cocktail Recipes

A few weeks ago I put out a call for Irish whiskey cocktail recipes for my Fine Cooking column. I received too many responses to use, so I thought I'd gather them here for all to enjoy. King’s Sour By Michael Lay of Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, CA 1.5 oz Redbreast Irish Whisky .5 oz St George Kirsch Juice from ¾ of a lemon .5 oz simple syrup 1 dash angostura bitters Shake and fine strain into a chilled coup glass with a lemon twist The Dubliner Jonathan Pogash of The Cocktail Guru 1 1/2 oz. Celtic Honey liqueur (irish... Read more →

Irish Whiskey in the San Francisco Chronicle

Hooray! I have a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about Irish whiskey. It discusses the popularity of Irish whiskey, some reasons for that popularity, its lack of use in cocktails, a cocktail recipe from Phil Mauro of Rye, and Ireland's three-and-a-half distilleries and their brands. I was able to get through it without even mentioning St. Patrick's Day. Success! Michael Short / Special to the Chronicle Irish Whiskey Spiking in Popularity By Camper English When Swig opened near Union Square in 2003, its Irish owners carried every brand of Irish whiskey available in the United States. All five of... Read more →

Irish Whiskey History

I recently read the book Irish Whiskey: A 1000 Year Tradition , which is no longer in print but still available. It was originally published in 1980 and most recently reprinted in 1998. A lot has happened since then, but this book has some good historical information. Here are some facts and assertions from the book. As in Scotland, oppressive laws and taxation drove many people into illicit distilling. "In 1806, out of 11,400,000 gallons of spirits made in Ireland, 3,800,000 of these were produced by illicit manufacturers. In the years 1811 to 1813 almost 20,000 ilegal stills were destroyed... Read more →

The Science of Dilution

While at Tales of the Cocktail Vancouver, I attended the seminar on dilution by Audrey Saunders and Harold McGee. Saunders is the owner of the Pegu Club in New York and McGee is the author of the seminal work On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen . Part of the discussion was about why we get more aroma in weaker drinks rather than stronger ones. People add water to whisky and other spirits when nosing them to release aromatics, yet this is counter-intuitive: shouldn't the whisky on its own have a more intense flavor that a... Read more →

Vancouver Cocktail Trends

I mentioned some of these in my write-up of twelve bars in Vancouver, but I wanted to expand on what's happening in Vancouver's bar scene. Bars Are Restaurants Apparently licensing in Vancouver is very strict, so many bars are disguised as restaurants. There are seats for everyone and they look like restaurants with tables, but they just offer some small shared plates as food. In most cities we think of seating-required bars as fancy cocktail bars, but in Vancouver it's just the way you have to drink. Bartender's Choice In at least half of the bars I was in, customers... Read more →