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August 2013

Which Whisky Chiller Works Wonders?

I have a story in the new Fall 2013 issue of Whisky Advocate magazine that's not online. In it I compared a range of devices meant to chill down whisky. Teroforma Whisky Stones [buy] Teroforma Whisky Stones MAX [buy] Balls of Steel [buy] Skybar's Wine Chill Drops [buy] Tilt Spheres [buy] Steel Ice [buy] A glass put in the refrigerator A glass put in the freezer So, which one is best? I guess you'll have to pick up a copy of the magazine to know. If the story goes online, I'll share the link here. Read more →

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See you at Bar Convent Berlin, October 8 and 9

I'll be speaking and leading tastings at this year's Bar Convent Berlin in October. The lineup of speakers is pretty great (I mean, if you exclude me), and include Matthew Bax (Der Raum, Gamsei), Stephan Berg (The Bitter Truth Bitters), Ian Burrell, Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon (The Dead Rabbit), Jorg Meyer (Le Lion), Anistatia Miller & Jared Brown, Jacob Briars, Tad Carducci, David Cordoba, Simone Corporale, Philip Duff, Dal DeGroff, Alex Kratena, Jim Meehan, Andrew Nicholls, Leo Robitschek, Claire Smith, and many, many others. The program (in German and English) is below. More info is available at the Bar... Read more →

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Cocktail Menu: La Urbana in San Francisco, Opening September 4

La Urbana opens on September 4 in San Francisco. The restaurant and bar features a large mezcal bottle and cocktail selection by Bar Manager Lucas Ranzuglia. Here is the menu, subject to change. I see: "chile water capsule," "tortilla water," smoking volcano bowl, and chimolera-extracted citrus oils in the margarita. MEZCAL COCKTAILS Mezcal and Cacao 11 A refreshing cocktail based on Oaxacan cacao crafted in the bygone French style (rose water, lavender flowers, vanilla, orange peel & spices). Served in a highball with Mina Real Mezcal & crushed ice. Acapulco - Manila 11 Inspired by the commercial route between these... Read more →

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Ten Cool Things About Houston Bar The Pastry War

The new mezcal bar in Houston, The Pastry War, comes from Bobby Heugel and Alba Huerta of the famous Anvil. The name is based on a French-Mexican conflict that began over a damaged bakery. I have not visited the bar but it's easy to see they're doing a lot of things differently. Here are things that stuck out to me. Ten Cool Things The Pastry War is Doing Differently 1. They use a lime blend. The house Margaritas ($7, nice) use both Persian and Key Limes. 2. They offer 17 different Mexican beers. 3. Any of which can be made... Read more →

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Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender SF Regional Competition Winners

This week over the course of two days I helped judge the San Francisco regionals of the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender competition. We toured San Francisco and hit six bars to watch 8 bartenders make drinks. My co-judges were Borys Saciuk (former Michael Mina bartender, now with Bacardi), Dominic Venegas (former SF bartender at venues including Range, Bacar, and Smuggler's Cove, now at NOMAD in NYC), and Aaron Gregory Smith (operating partner at 15 Romolo and USBG national vice-president). Brian Means of Fifth Floor Restaurant created the Stone's Throw, a reference to stone fruit, made with Bombay Sapphire, roasted... Read more →

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What Cocktail Bars Need More (And Less) Of

I didn't have a blog post written for Alcademics today, so I proposed a question on Facebook: What are things you'd like to see more of - or less of - in cocktail bars? Responses are below, starting with my own. Camper English: I'd like to see more low-alcohol cocktails. Bring on the sherry and vermouth!

Andrew Friedman: Dude, I just saw some video of NYC bartenders talking about how to get drinks faster in bars, and of what I could stand about it, it was all about how the customer should treat the bartender to get service. Fucking hell.... Read more →

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Making Absolut Vodka: A Trip to Ahus, Sweden

Absolut vodka is made in southern Sweden, in the town of Ahus in the Skane region. I took a trip there this winter to learn how the vodka is made. The distillery can produce 650,000 bottles of vodka per day and I had about that many questions for the producers. I think it's best to break the process of making the vodka down into its components. Wheat Absolut purchases 20 percent of the wheat grown in the large Skane region of Sweden; about 125,000 tons of it annually. It is winter wheat, planted in September and harvested in August, nearly... Read more →

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Frangelico Liqueur and the Tough Love Cocktail

This post is sponsored by Frangelico. Frangelico liqueur is made in Italy with Tonda Gentile hazelnuts, which are also popular with confectioners as they are sweet, large, and have an easy-to-remove skin. The hazelnuts are gathered in the southern Piedmont region (where they have an DOC-like protection), and toasted and crushed before being infused into alcohol and water. This infusion is then distilled and combined with natural flavor extracts including cocoa, vanilla, and coffee. Then it is blended with more alcohol, water, and sugar, and allowed to marry and mellow for 6-8 weeks before bottling. The final product is 20%... Read more →

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