Thursday, December 22, 2005
THE MINT JULEP
The Very Dream of Drinks
FROM THE OLD RECEIPT
OF SOULE SMITH, DOWN
IN LEXINGTON, KY
THE GRAVESEND PRESS
The mint julep has aroused almost as much argument as the war between the states. The controversy over the correct receipt for making the famous drink has raged back and forth between Kentucky and Maryland, Louisiana and Georgia and heated discussions, to sat nothing of wagers, are likely to accompany the mere mention of the drink. In Georgia mint juleps have been made with corn whiskey, sweetened with molasses, while depraved New Yorkers have gulped down juleps concocted with such bizarre ingredients as Creme de Menthe and maraschino cherries. It is no wonder that the late Irvin Cobb declared the outsiders Âpretenders and upstartsÂ and that no one but a Kentuckian knew how to make a mint julep.
The classic receipt for the Kentucky mint julep was published over half a century ago in Kentucky Whiskies. It was written by Soule Smith, lawyer, journalist, and superb raconteur of considerable local fame. In this famous receipt, the making of a mint julep becomes a ceremony. In loving and mellifluent language, the subtle blending of cold spring water with fragrant mint and good Bourbon whiskey and cracked ice somehow evokes the whole charm of the Blue Grass countryside. Here, then, is the famous receipt printed once again in a small illustrated edition for the delight of good Kentuckians everywhere.
THE MINT JULEP
But in the Blue Grass land there is a softer sentiment---a gentler soul. There is where the wind makes waves of the wheat and scents itself with the aroma of new-mown hay, there is no contest with the world outside. On summer days when, from his throne, the great sun dictates his commands, one may look forth across broad acres where the long grass falls and rises as the winds may blow it. He can see the billowy slopes far off, each heaving as the zephyrs touch it with a caressing hand. Sigh of the earth with never a sob, the wind comes to the Blue Grass. A sweet sigh, a loving one; a tender sigh, a loverÂs touch, she gives the favored land. And the moon smiles at her caressing and the sun gives benediction to the lovers. Nature and earth are one---married by the wind and sun whispering leaflets on the happy tree.
Then comes the zenith of manÂs pleasure. Then comes the julep---the mint julep. Who has not tasted one has lived in vain. The honey of Hymettus brought no such solace to the soul; the nectar of the Gods is tame beside it. It is the very dream of drinks, the vision of sweet quaffings. The Bourbon and the mint are lovers. In the same land they live, on the same food they are fostered. The mint dips its infant leaf into the same stream that makes the bourbon what it is. The corn grows in the level lands through which small streams meander. By the brook-side the mint grows. As the little wavelets pass, they glide up to kiss the feet of the growing mint, the mint bends to salute them. Gracious and kind it is, living only for the sake of others. The crushing of it only makes its sweetness more apparent. Like a womanÂs heart, it gives its sweetest aroma when bruised. Among the first to greet the spring, it comes. Beside the gurgling brooks that make music in the pastures it lives and thrives. When the Blue Grass begins to shoot its gentle sprays toward the sun, mint comes, and its sweetest soul drinks at the crystal brook. It is virgin then. But soon it must be married to Old Bourbon. His great heart, his warmth of temperament, and that affinity which no one understands, demand the wedding. How shall it be? Take from the cold spring some water, pure as angels are; mix it with sugar until it seems like oil. Then take a glass and crush you mint within it with a spoon---crush it around the borders of the glass and leave no place untouched. Then throw the mint away---it is a sacrifice.
Fill with cracked ice the glass; pour in the quantity of Bourbon which you want. It trickles slowly through the ice. Let it have time to col, then pour your sugared water over it. No spoon is needed, no stirring is allowed---just let it stand a moment. Then around the brim place sprigs of mint, so that the one who drinks may find a taste and odor at one draught.
When it is made, sip it slowly. August suns are shining, the breath of the south wind is upon you. It is fragrant, cold and sweet---it is seductive. No maidenÂs touch could be more passionate. Sip it and dream, it is a dream itself. No other land can give so sweet a solace for your cares; no other liquor soothes you so in melancholy days. Sip it and say there is no solace for the soul, no tonic for the body like Old Bourbon whiskey.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
This is a shot of a sports arena ( yes, in the riot zone but during daylight) where there was a Brocante that we went to
Below is an abandoned tunnel we came acroos on our way back ( on foot) through the 13th Arrondissmont
Monday, December 05, 2005
As a few people know,Joan andI went on a trip to Paris and Belgium for 2 weeks in early November as a late celebration of Joans 50th Birthday.
Yes, during the height of the rioting. No, I was not involved. You know you are getting older when , instead of joining in such things you sit in a corner Cafe reading the British Financial Times and enjoy the news that the Euro has it a new 2 year low BEACUSE of the rioting so your drink now costs about 15% less.
Above is a picture of the market in the Latin Quarter where we stayed. We stayed with a delightful woman named Jaquiline Ponz at her apartment at 16 Rue Descarte near the Pantheon just uphill form Rue de St Germain and near one of our favorite restuarant the Petit Prince Here are a few pictures of where we stayed:
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Modern martinis are mostly gin, except, of course, for a vodka martini, so it is very important to choose a good quality gin to start with. The type used in a martini is usually referred to as a London Dry Style, as opposed to Dutch or Genever Gin. Even among these, there are two very different styles or expressions. At one end of the spectrum is
A critical ingredient in a martini is the vermouth. Many people do not realize that vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavored with herbs and as such, it can (and will) go bad over time and can ruin a martini. To avoid this there are a few simple rules.
1. Always buy a small (375 ml) bottle.
2. Keep it capped and refrigerated after opening.
3. Try to use the rest within one to two months. It can also be used for cooking in recipes that call for white wine.
Personally, I much prefer the French vermouths especially Noilly Prat vermouth (both the white and red varieties) over Italian vermouths such as
Bitters are another much overlooked (or entirely forgotten) ingredient to a good martini. Bitters were traditionally an integral part of many cocktails, as they greatly assist in the blending of flavors from the different components of a drink. Unfortunately, they have fallen by the wayside in many cocktail recipe books and many bars no longer use or even stock them. There was, at one point, a large number of different companies and types/flavors of bitters available. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Only four types of bitters remain in commercial production today. Angostura Brand Bitters from the
Ice and the resulting water is another ingredient to be careful about. The best ice is fresh to avoid food odors, using filtered, read non chlorinated, water. You can, of course, buy a bag of Happy Ice at your local store to save time and trouble. If you are truly fanatical, you can get block ice and use an icepick to get the freshest non frosted ice. See Sharon Stone in the movie "Basic Instinct" for technique.
The final finishing component is the garnish. The most common two are an olive(s) or lemon zest (Outer skin of a lemon without the white rind). The main point is to complement the gin you are using. The choice comes down to personal taste/preference that comes with experience and experimentation.
4 oz gin
1 oz dry (white) vermouth
1-2 dashes Fee's Angostura or Orange Bitters to taste
Pour the Gin and Vermouth into a shaker half full of ice, add the bitters.
Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds to mix and chill (will also yield 25% dilution with water)
Strain into chilled martini glass
Add garnish (in the case of lemon zest you may want to twist then rub it around the glass first)
Stirred martinis -- produce a more glasslike appearance, stronger proof, with heavier body. This actually the traditional mixing method but a little too strong for some.
1930s style--Use half and half white and red vermouth (1/2 oz each)
Gibson - same recipe but with a cocktail onion for garnish.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
As I have stated before, I am not a fan of his or Wine Spectator (who is also featured in the movie).
While I like some of the wine he likes, I like a lot more wine that he does not like and I respect and honor the differences between different wines and terroir.
unfortunately the wine world (or at least the buying public) have increasingly been showing traits that are normally attributed to Lemmings rather than higher mammals.
Alarming numbers of the producers and buying public are flocking a singular type or model of wine, that singular type being a anointed Robert Parker wine ( a wine given a high score by Robert Parker).
Most of these wines have been micro managed, doped up, and blended beyond all recognition as to their original type and origin to fit a model of wine championed by Mr Parker. In many instance (in my opinion) these wines are manipulated in such a way as to mimic long aging in a short period of time and t remove terrior or any local variation. I refer to it as the McDonald's model of winemaking, fast, global, insidious, and lacking a soul. In any case back to the movie...
It is a wonderful compare and contrast between traditional winemakers and people like Mondavi, Parker, and Rolland.
It chronicles the struggles (and occasional victories) of the traditional winemakers and terroir, against the global homogenization of wine as represented by the above.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
In the middle ages wine began to be distilled in order to evade customs duties ( based on volume and further to reduce shipping volume and make it less likely to spoil in transit. When it arrived at its final destination it was watered back down to more or less its original strength. Many people found however that they liked distilled down. Brandy is an umbrella or generic term for a distilled spirit made from a fruit (as opposed to a grain). Here are some rough definitions:
Cognac is a form of grape brandy, produced under strict guidelines from certain varieties of grapes.
Armagnac is produced in a different area of France, and is quite different from Cognac.
Marc (French) is a form of unaged brandy similar to Grappa ( Italian) or Pisco (South America) all of which can run the range from lighter fluid to sublime depending on the distiller.
Aquadiente is the Portuguese version of grape brandy which may or may not be aged.
Calvados is apple an brandy produced in Northern France.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
In order to catch up I started in with 4 bottles of Scorpion laced mescal this morning. What the hell I thought, might as well get that one over with. Plus I promised the company I would try it before May 5th. No promises on what I thought about it of course, but it would be done and written up.
I have to say I had my doubts looking at it.
But I have to say it was a very pleasant surprise. Damn fine stuff. Still not crazy about the scorpions but very well made, eye opening stuff (no pun intended).
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Pressure from more or less traditional vodka countries within the EU to make a ruling that everything except grapes (see above for some of the names of those clear alcohol spirits) could be used to make vodka. Spirit made from grapes had to be called something else - usually a name with zero recognition beyond the country of origin and even within those countries the names had generally negative connotations. This was obviously a attempt at protectionism. This rule was recently shot down after a fight by the Gin and Vodka Association in England.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
A basic analogy is the differences between cognac and armagnac. Mezcal is the country cousin, much less well known, earthier and in it's case much more traditional in its preparation than tequila ( which again is a form of mezcal).
The 'worm' by the way is actually a butterfly larvae (read catapillar) and is not present in Tequila.
Also a new trend is to replace the 'worm' with a scorpion. Look for my upcoming reviews or mescals at spiritsreview.com
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Single Malt: Usually applies to Scottish Whisky ( note lack of "e" ) or to whiskies ( again note Scottish spelling) that are trying to emulate the style. It means that the whisky comes from a single distillery and is not blended with whisky form another distillery but is probably the blending of a multiple barrel "dump" as it is called in the industry to create a distillery signature and consistent style.
Straight Whiskey: Whiskey that is made in a single distillery. The term or definition used in the United States ( for the most part) to describe what a Scot would call a single malt in terms of production ( not in taste !)
Single Barrel: This term is most commonly used in the United States to describe a bourbon whiskey (note the "e") that is from one distillery and bottled from one single barrel . Bourbon Whiskeys (again note spelling) are all single malts using the above definition although their composition and aging requirements set them apart in different ways. A single barrel bourbon is a further refinement in individual character as again the whiskey comes from a single barrel and is not blended with other barrels. That being said the barrels chosen usually represent a distillery style or signature that while consistent will vary within a certain range to keep peoples interest. Barrels to far outside the style are not selected as single barrels and will be used to blend "Straight" bourbon whiskey from the distillery or sold on the open market.
Single Single or Singleton: The Scottish version of a single barrel, see above. These are rarely done by the distilleries themselves and are usually encountered as merchant or independent bottling. You have to read the labels carefully as a merchant or independent bottling can be either a single malt or single single. If it is a single single it is usually referred to as a single cask bottling or singleton.
Vatted Malt: A blend of single malt whiskies only. No grain alcohol (rectified spirit) or other spirits can be added. It is a type of blend but is specific as to the type of ingredients. Just blended malt is a rather more slippery category as to allowed ingredients or components. That being said there are good blends out there. I am merely trying to distinguish the ingredients and definitions not the quality .
Blended Whisk(e)y: This is the most slippery term of the bunch. It usually means it is a blend of whiskey, grain alcohol and can include gods only know what else. Colorants, flavor enhancers, sweeteners, etc., There are some good blends out there that are outstanding examples of the blenders art but usually it means bottom shelf whisky that is cobbled together from various ingredients of doubtful origin.
If you understand all this you do not need to read the next installment. If you don't, pour yourself a drink and read the next installment. Everything may not become clear but the headache will hurt less.
Friday, April 08, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: The Thomas Collective
Alex Lange (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANNOUNCES THE PUBLICATION OF USA
“A DOUBLE SCOTCH”
New Book by Noted Spirits Writer F. Paul Pacult Chronicles Two Top Scotch Brands
WHITE PLAINS, NY – Pernod Ricard USA, importers of Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet, is pleased to announce the publication of “A Double Scotch: How Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Became Global Icons,” a new book by noted author and spirits writer F. Paul Pacult (Wiley, April 2005, $24.95, Cloth). “A Double Scotch,” which chronicles the two brands that made Scotland's national drink a global phenomenon, was recently launched at a book signing at Keens Steakhouse in New York, where Jim Cryle, The Glenlivet’s Master Distiller, and Colin Scott, the Master Blender of Chivas Regal, joined Pacult to do a tasting of the range.
“We’re pleased to have such a notable writer as Paul Pacult to tell the story of The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal,” said Kevin Fennessey, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Pernod Ricard
“A Double Scotch” tells the intertwined success stories of Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet—two Scotch whisky brands recognized the world over for their unparalleled quality. Seen through the prism of two families, it is an insightful, storied history of how two Scottish grocers from
produce benchmark whiskies that became standards of quality the world over. Staged within the mysterious, breathtaking landscape of
The book also includes an enlightening question-and-answer section with The Glenlivet’s Jim Cryle and Chivas Brother’s Colin Scott. Through this intimate exchange, Scotch enthusiasts will discover what makes these two brands superlative, as well as how these masters are able to maintain consistency over time. Today, Chivas Regal, at three million cases sold annually, is the world's most famous prestige blended Scotch. The Glenlivet, recognized as the quintessential single malt Scotch, is the #1 selling single malt in the
About the Author
F. PAUL PACULT is the founding editor and publisher of F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal – The Quarterly Independent Guide to Distilled Spirits, Beers, and Wines newsletter now in its 15th year of publication. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book American Still Life: The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World’s # 1 Bourbon (Wiley, 2003). He is the wine and spirits columnist for Sky – the Delta Air Lines magazine, a contributing editor and the spirits tasting director for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, a contributor to CARGO, a special projects editor for The New York Times Magazine and the judging director at the annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. He is also honored to be the only journalist worldwide to be a member of The Bourbon Hall of Fame, a member of the Armagnac Company of Musketeers as well as a life member of The Keepers of the Quaich Scotch Whisky Society.
About Pernod Ricard
Pernod Ricard USA is an American producer and distributor of fine spirits and wines. The company produces Wild Turkey Bourbon and Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin and in addition to Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky and The Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky, they import Jameson and Bushmills Irish Whiskeys, Martell Cognac,
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
We used a antique pepperpot type cocktail shaker (the metal kind with a cap on it and a strainer built in) that we bought for $9 to spread the first half of him around , then put the other half of him in the shaker and walled it up.
It was a fitting container for him and a lot cheaper than some cheezy urn.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Before all that nonsense got started there were much clearer, accepted ways on which or what cocktail was shaken or stirred for a variety of reasons.
A lot of people talk about " Bruising the Gin" if shake a martini - this is not accurate.
It comes down aeration and dilution. If you shake a drink you get aeration and more dilution ( about 25% after 30 seconds) than stirring. You lose that liquid glass look and viscosity you get from a stirred drink.
One rule of thumb, if it is a clear drink (such as vodka or gin) especially straight up,stir it. It makes for a nicer presentation. That being said it does come down to personal preference... Drink what you like, made as you like that is by far the most important rule.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Monday, March 21, 2005
This is now usually done with a hygrometer to determine specific gravity of a fluid and this will give you a result . This is also somewhat boring compared to how it used to be done and is still used in some parts of the world because of either: 1. lack of equipment, 2. because it is fun. I am refering to setting fire to the whisky, with or without some explosives to boot.
In England and America the old method was to mix the spirit to be tested with gunpowder and the set alight. If it was over 100 proof (50% alcohol or more) it ignited. If it merely wet the gunpowder down so it would not flash at was less than 100 proof or more water than flammable alcohol. In Russia the way distillers of Samagon (bootleg vodka) test their spirit (or convince buyers) is to put a match to it and see how well it burns (if at all) . if you have a clear blue flame it is 100 proof or more and good quality,yellow flame or oilly smoke is not a good sign. A further method of testing ( for high proof) is to put some whiskey in a small bottle and shake it. If it beads, and how large the beads are will tell you the proof.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
To steal some concepts from Einstien's theories of time and relativity, time is not absolute but relative. In these cases however they are due to more mundane enviromental factors than his theories.When one thinks about the age of a spirit you must think of the aging factors to be able to compare the chronological vs relative ages between them.
Bourbon is aged in fresly charred oak barrels in Kentucky. Scotch is aged in used barrels in Scotland . Kentucky has a much wider (and higher) temperature range during the aging process and the warehouses are subject to wider temperature swings due to their construction (mostly wood, although in a few cases metal and heated in the winter leading to very rapid aging). This and the fresh char causes the bourbon to age at what I would guess to be about twice the rate of scotch whisky. Unfortunately it also evaporates at a much higher rate for many of the same reasons but that is beside the point.
Bourbon ages quite fast and many bourbons top out at 10-14 years of age. There are a few exceptions to this Hirsch 16 and 20 year old bourbons are a good example. They,however, are not from Kentucky but from central Pennsylvania, a more moderate climate. There are few bourbons from Kentucky that have lasted as long . Those that have were usually in the coldest or at least most constant parts of the warehouse (or rackhouse) and are small in number.
In Scotland however due to the colder climate, higher humidity and construction of warehouses (thick stone or brick walls for the most part) coupled with used barrels lead to a longer aging process to achieve the same type of aging or should I say for the whisky to achieve the same point in its development. So when you talk about how old a spirit is you must consider it within its own aging framework. Somewhat like dog years versus human years (no reflection meant on the bourbon by that example).
This has led to some interesting conundrums . Because bourbon is not as highly regarded as Scotch and further because of the age discrimination that bourbon has against it , bourbon is quite cheap compared to scotch even though there are some outstanding bourbons out there.
The same can also be generally applied to American Rye Whiskey (what little there is anymore).
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Friday, March 11, 2005
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Monday, March 07, 2005
Saturday, March 05, 2005
I would like to bring to your attention a couple of things though:
You stated 'Everyone please note the downward trend since the original brewmaster left... The beer, The blueberry taste like bud with berries and the berries look like goat turds floating in your glass - some of them were even rotten!'
Well, unfortunately, without knowing it, you were bashing Dean here, the prior brewer you were praising ! I did not produce this beer! I have heard nothing but good things about Dean's ability and tenure here and would never bash another brewer anyhow and in my opinion, Dean does not deserve it either. Due to the fact it was not my beer, I cannot take credit, rightly or wrongly for your criticism. Send e-mail to Dean and see what his thoughts might be regarding your assessment.
'The rest of the beer was warm, flat and tasteless for the most part.'
Ok... your perceptions are your perceptions. No one can tell anyone what you taste. But, at the time you were there, only one of my beers was serving, the IPA. Everything else was Dean's. So far, all of the BJCP certified beer judges (who go through extensive training regarding beer styles and flavor attributes including faults and then have to pass a rigourous exam) have stated that it is to style according to internationally accepted guidelines (including the GABF & World Beer Cup) with no technical faults. No, it isn't an 'Imperial IPA' which is another style, but it is a traditional, drinkable, session styled IPA with an American lean.
'Loud, accousticly harsh'
Yes... I agree. The owner and I have been discussing and implimenting changes to improve the amb"
We are currently in a reorganization stage. The tv behing the bar will soon be relocated to the lounge. The neons do not fit our theme, but are there to attract attention until we can afford to put a sign on State Street. We are currently working on our service by training those who have potential and hiring experienced candidates to replace the useless. It sounds like you are an expert on brewpubs, since you think we no longer qualify as one. Why don't you come down and introduce yourself? We will use your ideas as we reinvent our theme. To the late night Amerks fans, apologies for not serving the full menu at 11PM, our dinners usually taper off at 10 in the freeze of February. The bar menu will change in one month to reflect our best selling items. Come back and say hello, you can have my 4 seats to the next game, they are 3 rows behind the bench. Or, MAKE A RESERVATION I'll keep the kitchen open just for you. Cheers!"
Friday, March 04, 2005
Not only is he an Honest Politician but a Gin Lover. When asked the question what would he want with him if he was stranded on a desert island by a group of 4th graders he replied " A bottle of Gin " When asked by the media about his remarks he further stated that he did not want to lie to the kids and say he would want a Teddy Bear or a Bible !
The man has style.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Vermouth is a fortified WINE , like any other wine it goes BAD after a while. It needs to be refrigerated after opening and used within 1 month of opening. In bars it is usually at best at room temperature, at worst near some hot lights or hot water under the bar or in the well. At home people seem to like to store it over the stove . Would someone do the same with wine? Or cream for coffee ?
No , of course not. But they do it with vermouth. Might as well use vinegar instead.
Never buy anything bigger than a 375 ml (1/2 bottle) unless you are having a large party , refrigerate it after opening, and use it or dump it after 1 month.
Also use a decent vermouth like Noilly Prat . Maybe it costs another 10 cents per drink but there is an immense difference in taste .
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Hello to Everyone,
This is our first piece on this blog beyond the test we did earlier today.
Well we finally have started to get the webpage up and out there for the drinking public and we are of course already a bit behind.
We hope to have more reviews done this week and a RSS newsfeed set up in the near future to provide daily new content on our page.
We are also going to add a local link to review area purveyors whether they are bars, wineries or liqour stores . Whether we will be welcome in any of these afterwards is already open to question.
I did a scathing ( but much deserved ) review of one of Rochester , New Yorks brewpubs in both Beer Advocate and Pubcrawler the place is called Bru, is located on State St. in Rochester , and was a study in how not to run a brewpub.
If they don't turn it around soon I think they won't survive.
We did extensive tasting on Shakers Vodka this weekend and will be posting the results soon. I have to say it was one of the better vodkas I had in a while, all 4 of their products were well made.