Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Alternative Use for a Cocktail Shaker or Cocktail Shaker as Funeral Urn

A while back a friend of mine who was a bartender died suddenly. He was cremated and wanted 1/2 of his ashes spread on his land and the other half put in a mausoleum.
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

Shaken or Stirred ?

This is a question that essentially started after the James Bond novels and movies became popular. Ian Fleming was looking for what is now termed a signature drink for James Bond. He wanted something different from the usual , something that would reflect some exotic worldliness on the part of James Bond. For a detailed look at the drinks James Bond favored go to:
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.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Spirits Proof Methods 101

Originally to proof something was to check it for quality. Medieval armourers would proof armor by firing crossbow bolts at it. Later on early guns were proofed by overloading them and firing them to make sure they would not blow up. gunpowder was checked for strength and lack of dampness with various devices that measured the result when you ignited a charge .Proof is also a measurement of alcohol (either by volume ABV or by weight ABW) content in a spirit.
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

Bourbon, The Short Attention Span Whiskey

A lot of people put a great deal of stock on the age of a whiskey. The older it is the better it is or so they think. Problem is it ain't necesssarily so, or that chronological years mean a lot of different thing depending on the type of whisky (or any other type of spirit ). That is why I refer to Bourbon in this article as the short attention span whisky. It takes a lot less time to age a bourbon.
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

Testing Our Linux Box

This is a Test of our Debian Linux Box we just set up to see if we have our links configured correctly

Why is the Music so Loud ?

Why is the music so loud in bars here in Rochester. Almost all the bars here turn up the music so loud that you can't hold a conversation or hear yourself think. It's not like people are dancing or anything, hardly anyone dances in public in Rochester , even at shows. But the managers love to turn up the music so you have to shout to be heard. It is impossible to have a drink in peace or hold a quiet conversation with someone. Maybe they figure if you talk you aren't drinking fast enough. Whatever the reason is , it makes socializing virtually impossible , maybe that is why it is so popular to do this in Rochester. God Forbid we should interact in a unstructured way.
Me in Amsterdam Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005

Review of Lowlander, London, England

Absolutely my favorite restuarant/pub in London. Amazing hamburgers, Great beer and all sort of other good food and great staff. Check out www.lowlander.com for directions,. near British Museum area Drury Lane etc., Wonderful place and a real relief from english pub grub. Sending one of my friends there to check it ou since he is in London this week. Will keep you posted !

Bru Review Update

Well, I spoke to Eric Watson yesterday ( head brewer) seems like a nice guy . Hope to meet up with him Sunday and have a talk. As to Bru itself - well we will give them a few weeks to get some more beer in then give them a new try.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Back in the Day. Preparing for BASE Jump of New River Gorge Bridge Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews

Unfortunately my response was too long to post here. Please go to:Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews to view the further dialog.

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews The Brewer Responds

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews: "Thank you for your empassioned input regarding the happenings at Bru. I always welcome constructive criticism of my beers and try to incorporate those thoughts into my planning when evaluating my performance and sometimes re-formulating my beers with our target audience in mind.

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"

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews Another Response From the Owner

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews: "Thank you to the previous reviews. Believe me, I don't want the neons! I can't afford a sign for the street right now. People drive by us not knowing we are here. It was a quick cheap fix. There are only 3 left, Genny, Heineken and Labatt. I think I am going to raffle off the 61' tv. We are going to focus on service, beer and live entertainment. Chris, please send an e-mail to the address below, I would like to treat you and your friends to dinner and drink. Also, when specifically were you in...Date & time. I want to see who was working. I really want this place to succeed and am glad that you guys do too. I have all my money tied up in this place. I'd love to find a partner. Steve, what else don't you like about the atmosphere. Assume the neons are gone. Are 2 pool tables too many? Several brewpubs I have visited out west have pool halls. Most all the comments I have heard praise the changes from Empire. I can't completely ignore the fact that the red wings and rhinos are across the street. I hope you can live with a framed jersey on the wall. I appreciate constructive feedback. Please e-mail me at beerjob@rochester.rr.com. Thanks guys! JW"

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews a further commentary

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews: "In response to Johnathan Wehles Review here are the comments of someone else who was with me who wanted me to pass them along: I think we ALL thought it was so bad that we didn't know where to start. What would have happened if we had complained, I ask? I assume that they have quality control so that food comes out only at its best. But perhaps I am wrong in assuming that. Would we have suggested going back to the kitchen to monitor and improve cooking skills??? How could we ask them to do their 'best' again if they don't know what 'best' should be??? At the very basic level, why would one EVER want to send out food that would POSSIBLY be open to a customer complaint? No standards and active quality control is quite simply no standards and active quality control. I sympathize that there is a difference in personal taste over beers, but their taste spectrum weighs REALLY heavily to the light end. They have NO hearty brews; in fact, I thought the porter was barely a porter but more a 'light brown.' I hesitate to respond on the website because I thereby open up my e-mail to who knows whom; my wish to weigh in is outweighed by my wish to stay unknown. However, feel free to use my words. We are all of us happy to introduce ourselves and meet with you if you like. As to the remark about being an expert I am not sure if that was to me or Mitch of Philadelphia who used the word brewpub in quotes. However I do agree with him. If you go to almost any other brewpub ( with the exception of the Distillery in Rochester )in the US (or in Europe for that matter). They tend to have interesting beers brewed on premise, a selection of good if not excellent guest beers (which usually change), and a lot of single malts, bourbons, tequilas, etc., and usually set a local standard for having such a good collection of the above at the bar. The selection at Bru is minimal. Not bad , but the Dinosaur has probably 3 times "

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews Round 2

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews: "If they do validate parking I would suggest the staff mention it to ALL customers- and even put it in any ads. Parking around there is a REAL problem and can be expensive - between the pay parking lots and the AGGRESSIVE parking enforcement by the police (who on the other hand seem to ignore the panhandlers and car burglars)you end up paying heavy either way. A friend of mine who worksfor Malt Advocate and author of a number of books on Brewpubs has sworn off even trying to park in the area after his experiences. No wonder the whole High Falls area is so unpopular ( compared to our local East End or any similar venues in other cities."

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews Response from Owner

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews: "This message is for Chris Carlsson and any others who have had a bad experience at my restaurant. Eric Watson, award winning brewer, has been with us for over a month. His first brew is on tap, IPA, and it is excellent. His Porter is a fine brew as well and his 80 schilling scotch ale will be available shortly. We will be brewing another batch of blonde ale on the 8th of March as well as an Amber and another IPA as I'm almost out already. Our bruberry ale is now our best seller loved by both men and women. We have recently hosted local homebrewers clubs and beer afficianado's from around the country and Canada. Nothing but great comments. Our rolls come in fresh everyday. Our burgers are 10 ounces and are a bargain at $7.95. If you were unhappy with your food, why didn't you tell a manager? We receive an extremely low amount of complaints with the food.

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!"

Local Review of Rochester Brewpub Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews

Brü - Rochester, NY Brewery/BrewPub/Beer Bar Reviews: "Everyone please note the downward trend since the original brewmaster left. This place barely qualifies as a brewpub anymore. The food menu has gotten worse - Denny's serves better. The food we got was not what we ordered off the menu. No Dressing or sauce on one dish and the supposedly toasted rolls for the burgers were not only cold but STALE. 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! The rest of the beer was warm, flat and tasteless for the most part. We paid $ 8 for 6 4oz samplers of undrinkable beer. Our tab was $60 for 4 bad burgers on stale buns and 1 round of beer ! Loud, accousticly harsh, no parking, bad neighborhood, incompetent servers. Gaudy neon in every window for things like Bud Light - should have been a warning. We wanted to give it another chance after Dean left but I'm sorry I can't think of one redeeming thing to say about it. It was a complete waste of money and time and I am embarrassed I took my friends there."

Friday, March 04, 2005


Hats off and a toast to Mayor Goodman of Las Vegas !
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.

Welcome, Upcoming Review Plans

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Test of Audio Blog and Upcoming Reviews

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Why is Vermouth so Misunderstood ?

Why is Vermouth so misunderstood? Is it one of the reasons cocktails, especially Martinis, have such a bad reputation ?
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 .