Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Reviews for week of March 24th 2011

New Fee Whiskey Bitters release, Bacardi Razz, Grand Melon, and O.
Back River Gin is our Spirit of the Month. Also a review of the new pre release of Jim Beams Devils Cut 90 Proof , and  Cranberry and Blueberry bitters from Sweet Grass Winery !

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

New Bitters Reviews

Reviewed 4 bitters by Scrappy's Bitter - Celery, lime, lavender and orange.
Still working on spirit of the month and new bookmarks.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Reviews for week of February 7th 2011

Very mixed bag this week , 1 new tincture type bitter, 1 new tonic type bitter, 1 reposado tequila, a famous vodka, a very popular rum,  and a flavored rum by the same company.
Due to the lack of terrible reviews lately (a lot of the stuff we have been getting lately were all quite good) We finally got around to doing reviews of  some of the products we had tried in the past and not formally reviewed to reinforce the fact that we can and will write reviews that do trash products when they warrant trashing.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

February Spirit of the Month Announced

We have decided to make Chase Vodka our spirit of the month for February.
Unlike a lot of supposed microdistilled vodkas out there that just buy gns (grain neutral spirit or food grade ethanol) and maybe redistill it , then definitely rebottle it and label as their product, these guys do it all.
From building their own equipment - including their own still and bottling equipment to fermenting distilling and sales they do it all.
Other reviews for this week are-Arta-Blanco Tequila, Avion-Reposado Tequila, and Avion Anejo Tequila.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

771 Links Added, New Reviews Added

We have just finished the semi annual update of links (after a few days of struggle) adding 771 links to our various categories and adding a few new categories in the process. We now have a total of exactly and approximately 4,576 links in our links page most of which of course have something to do with distilled spirits in one form or another with occasional sidetracks .

We have also posted reviews of the new Kahlua Peppermint Mocha, Creme Yvette, and Ventura-Limoncello .

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Reviews January 6th 2011

We should also have our year end overhaul of links done soon (where we integrate all of the past years monthly new bookmarks into their proper categories- so look for a large expansion soon of our already over 4,000 bookmarks of every webpage we have found about alcohol by category!

RSS Feeds Rebuilt after Forced "Migration" by Bloglines

After days of rebuilding our RSS feeds (Thank you Bloglines for "migrating" our feeds on us for their new "look " ) ,  we have 407 feeds back on the Spirits RSS feed.
If you have a blog and are wondering what happened to your readership you may want to look into this. We lost about 3/4 's of our feeds and had to manually reconstruct them one at a time. We also rebuilt them in Google reader and will change our links to Google so we don't have to do this again.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The 2000 Euro Ramos Gin Fizz Part 2

                                                  We got to the Bar 47 @ Hotel Chateau Frontenac around 10 PM or so. Lovely Bar on the corner and attached to the hotel. Nice selection oof spirits, very n ice drinks menu and wonderful liitlle bar set in this 4 star hotel. Ugo Frabbeti is the bartender there- a excellent, world class bar tender and outstanding host. Ugo will do anything and will meet your most demanding and elastic desires  in order to make sure you have exactly what you want.
It is because of this that the title is what it is.
Joan ordered a Ramos Gin Fizz- both because she loves them and it was on the menu.. 

What they neglect to mention on the menu is that the hotel does not supple Ugo with eggs.

Ugo has to break into the kitchen to get his egg, Crawling through a window and around other thing s to actually gain access to the refrigerators where they lock down the egss. When he was coming out egg in hand (left) someone else  came in and the door whacked his hand - breaking his hand in 2 places.
While we were unsure about this at first hoping it was just a sprain or minor dislocation , he was in extreme pain but he did not lose or crush the egg. He also gamely insisted on trying to make the Ramos , and when shaking proved too excruciating other help was pressed into service- the clerk from the front desk.
Meanwhile I stepped behind the bar and poured Ugo a double gin for the pain and we iced the hand in the hopes of reducing the swelling and pain.

After the clerk proved to not be suitable ( and he had to go back  to the desk) I took over bartending until around 2 AM Which was a lot of fun, as the bar only had a few people and we were able to keep them served no problem . At some point someone ordered in some pizza and the bar continued until the end around  Ugo remained bravely and gamely on station until the end. At which point he went to the emergency room to have his hand  looked at - hoping there would be a beautiful nurse he could fall in love with- more on that later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reviews and Updates August 18th 2010

We have just added new reviews for Smooth Amblers Greenbrier Gin, Stilltheone Distilleries Comb Honey Vodka, and also added a new revised tasting for Tequila Tamers sangrita mixer as they have changed the formula/makeup.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 1 at Tales 2-Later On

After hanging about a bit at the Carousel we went out to our second home at Tales- The Alibi Lounge.We were there until about 5 AM meeting up with old friends and crew along with making  some new ones.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tales Day 4

Tales of The Cocktail Day 4
You know you must be having a good time if you need to us e discarded schedules and pocket litter to forensically reconstruct what you have been doing for the past 4 days.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's 4 AM at Tales

Went to the shaker and barware symposium at the Museum of the American Cocktail which was a lot of fun and very informative. For the full batch of pictures please go to our flickr page for some of the photos of the barware and the people doing the presentations. On the way back Johnathan Forester and I realized we must go to Meyers hat shop - about 15 minutes before they normally close. After much discussion we end up buying some hats.This for me is a stellar event. I ever can find a hat that fits me. Ever.We got to talk to Mr Meyer himself and get fitted out with some outstanding hats.

My two new hats, One is a straw fedora and the other is a tweed porkpie with the old style 2 inch brim.Luckily Mr Meyer ships so you don't have to risk flying them home
Mr Meyer Himself- In business since 1937
Meyer the Hatter Hat Shop

After this major shopping adventure we headed back to the hotel. After a quick rinse off we went on to the Beefeater Party around 7 PM - not bad in the scale of things -- not as crowed as last year but less food and the drinks were not quite as interesting. The theme was a Alice in Wonderland - a sort of William Burroughs version of Alice and Wonderland.
Alice was a rather tired looking lingerie model version, with the Mad Hatter looking like a Johnny Depp on a bad day and the Red Queen reminding me of the old saying " There is never a prostitute too old or too ugly to make a living in Paris" Substitute Drag Queen for Prostitute and the location for New Orleans and you get the picture.
After staying there long enough to be polite we decided to make our escape. On the way out we encountered a line of Ford Model A  cars parked at the curbside and snapped a few shots of them . Not sure why they were there but they did add some nice texture to the scenery as it were

After jumping on the bus and discussing the crew from extreme makeover with the bus crew (who had worked with them recently) we got back to the hotel and ran over to our dinner date at G.W. Finns with the CEO of Van Gogh Vodka Norman Bonachick. Who is a really nice gentleman and gourmand.
The meal we had there was outstanding and quite reasonable. I would definitely recommend the place if you are looking for a higher end but not too pricey place to eat during Tales.
We are falling asleep at the keyboard so we will continue this chronicle in a few hours,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Uploaded by

Tales Day 2

Ed Hamilton The Minister of Rum
Up early Kahlua Coffee Bar and Cocktails at 8:30 AM followed by Breakfast at the media room compliments of Oxley Gin.Potato cakes, scones , ham scrambled eggs. Great Irish cheese also - Just not quite up to solid food today and so early.
Hanging with the Minister of Rum. Wireless network at Monteleone is not working at all it seems- going with a cellular modem to get a signal out.
Tried the Oxley Gin- Interesting but not overly impressed. Also they never seem to answer inquiries so I doubt if we will ever get to review them formally.

Outlaw Blogging At Tales Day 1

Got in Early and promptly took up residence at the Carousel.3 drinks later (Sazerac,Veiux Carre and a Manhattan) then off to d.b.a for a tasting of small, artisanal spirits.
Some real stand outs from Haus Alpenz. Also a aged grappa that was quite a revelation.
Then off to the Alibi for the Bloggers in exile anti reception.Alibi has outstanding gumbo by the way as we had that for a quick dinner after meeting up with some PR people. Afterwards we went to the Drambuie Rusty Nail event at the Roosevelt which was lightly attended.
I think everyone went to the Cointreau Burlesque Show.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Still Life of Tales of the Cocktail 2010

Uploaded by

Alibi Lounge July 20th (Day 1 of Tales)

Bar at the Alibi
This is the scene from the Alibi Lounge (815 Iberville) . The Alibi is my second home or base during Tales each year. Contrary to popular belief, I do take a hotel room and do not actually live at the Alibi itself during Tales. I do go to my hotel about twice a day to shower, change clothes, and on rare occasions lie down. It has many advantages over a number of other bars or even the media room for a writer ( or anyone else) who needs a good ( notice I didn't say nice) place to drink, eat, and hangout with friends at all hours and not be bothered.
The beer selection is one of the best in the area there, they serve good bar food 24 hours a day and even deliver, and it is a service bar so most of the clientele are bartenders, wait staff and off duty strippers.
So guys, if a woman expresses an interest in you there you know they are serious as they are off duty.
Another advantage is because they do escort services for customers carrying fair amounts of cash (see above), the staff are armed - so like a cop bar it's a safe place to be- it has a reputation and the local criminals (at least the robbery types) know to avoid it. Downside is don't ask for a Sazerac or any other mixed drink that needs much in the way of ingredients or mixology skills- won't happen.But otherwise it is at least 1/2 the price of the Absinthe House and much less crowded. It is also relatively isolated being around the corner from Bourbon Street - so you don't get all the amateurs and riffraff that you get on Bourbon Street.

Uploaded by

Friday, July 09, 2010

I will be blogging at Tales of the Cocktail. No, I am not part of the club that does it. I tried a number of times to become part of it and gave up. Including last year when I was supposed to be a "Guest Blogger" but they never bothered to acknowledge or publish my dispatches or answer my emails as to why not.
I will be an outlaw ( as in beyond/outside the law/rules/society/organization). In the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs I will attempt to report on what is going on without dressing it up or making it pretty and more acceptable. I will continue to be the "Contaminating Antiauthoritarian Element".

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Camera and Photography at Spirits Review

We recently acquired a Pentax K-7 to do more ( and better) photography for ourselves and the website. After much research and asking around we decided on the Pentax because it gave us the most bang for the buck and is designed for rugged conditions ( like New Orleans during Tales or deserts in Peru). It's got over 20 different weather seals and even the lenses are built to be weatherproof (read more likely drink proof in my case and where I go).
I looked at Nikons and decided they were overpriced and riding on their name rather than value  and so did Canon to a lesser degree. Another point in their favor is due to their rarity you can pick up old  lenses ( film SLR) for almost nothing as no one else is competing for them.
It also had a lot of advanced features such as a automatic level, options to use AA batteries and lots of features for the money.
Only downside is the 330 + page manual - and I mean all in English- this is not some 6 language manual- It is going to take a bit to use this camera up to it's potential. But on the plus side the manual is easy to understand and well written - it's just a lot to absorb.
So far we have taken it to Miami to the Rum Renaissance Festival where we shot about 1400 photos , indoors and out with temperatures ranging from 65 F to 90+ F in full sun all day and the camera held up better than I did ! Please check Spirits Review, Face Book, and this Blog for more results.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fathers Day Suggestion - Or Any Time You Need a Nice Bottle for Someone

As my role as a "Spiritual Adviser" I am asked a lot about what bottle to get for someone who already usually has a well established private bar collection of their favorite whiskeys. Some of these are bourbon, a lot of them single malt scotch and a few Irish whiskeys as their focus. Problem is, it is getting increasingly hard to get someone something different that they will like. Most people seem to have fairly established collections and tastes, and chances are over the years between what they buy for themselves and what they have gotten as gifts you run out of options.
I recently found a nice alternative to all of the above whiskeys with a spirit that Dad probably doesn't have, or certainly not this particular expression. Remy Martin 1738 Accord Royal 2 is a lovely blend of over 240 eau de vies of cognac the minimum age is 4 years and the oldest 20 years. This makes it a bit short of an XO but on the flip side less than half the money ( around $50 or so), more importantly it has many of the aroma and taste characteristics that whiskey lovers -be they Scotch , Bourbon or Irish enthusiasts-enjoy . That coupled with the fact that in many cases they can use this cognac for their familiar cocktails ( swapping the cognac for their usual)  for a somewhat familiar but new taste and all the cognac cocktails they can easily make also.
We found the Remy 1738wasn't just good in a snifter ( which it is) but mixed and tasted well in a number of cocktails. Both in price and overall characteristics it closer to a whiskey ( in many nice ways) than a cognac is traditionally thought of. Not only an opportunity to get a father something he doesn't have but would like (unlike a tie) but a chance to teach him some new tricks and expand his horizons a bit.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Peru and Ron Cartavio Rum Distillery

Through the kind invitation of Robert Burr of RumXP I was invited down to Peru for a few days to visit a Peruvian Rum Distillery (Destilleras Unidas ) where they produce Ron Cartavio Rum A very respectable rum which comes in several varieties and is now imported into the US.
Previous to this I had heard of Peruvian rum but had little experience with it. When I thought of Peru I thought mostly of Pisco ( a lot of that was also sampled during our sojourn there also)
We have about 500 photos up on flickr and also linked from our web page (under the adventure section) Here we will recount some of the stories in more detail.
We started off by flying from Rochester,New York to Miami. Hadn't been to Miami in a few years so it was nice to be back.
Got picked up by Rob Burr of Gifted Rums and we went out to lunch and await David Russel (of R&D Rums)who had a slightly later flight.
Later we went out to a product launch party then over to a bar for a Square One Dinner with the estimable H.Joseph(Ehrmann)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Last Night at Tales

The last night at Tales was something that almost seemed like the party scenes in the last Matrix movie.
Put 100's of bartenders/mixologists in on very open plan building, add outstanding cocktails from multiple bars set up in said building, add music and well... you can see the pictures and videos we shot in both flickr and facebook. Party didn't break up till 4 AM or so officially and then we all dispersed - the more well behaved ones went to their hotels for a little lie down, the rest were loosed on the streets of New Orleans till dawn - yet again.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Disclosure Statement

Below is the disclosure statement I came up with for my various sites (primarily the website).
Everyone feel free to use this. Please cite or credit me as the inspiration if you like and feel free to use it as a template for your own disclosure piece.
In a way it was therapeutic to write it and it clarifies a number of questions about myself and my webpage both to the world and to myself- or at least sets it down in writing.
Samples and Disclosure Statement


As noted in Samples (below) we solicit samples for review. Otherwise we could not afford to do this. Unless otherwise noted assume that someone, somewhere, sent us whatever it is in the hopes we would review it - and hopefully like it. Just because someone sends us something does not mean we will show any mercy. We will do a fair review of whatever is sent but the mere fact it was free does not buy us or even rent us. We review products with objectivity and professionalism wherever and however they were acquired.

We do not currently accept advertising but when we do it will only be for items we feel are of excellent quality and something we are not embarrassed to accept advertising from, endorse , or otherwise be identified with,and nothing we feel would be compromising to our integrity, tastes, or values. Again, we are open to offers in the future but will only accept those of products we liked in the first place. We will not change ratings or enhance them in any way in exchange for money or product. Likewise our endorsements are not paid or for sale - we review a product for free and you can quote us for free - the only condition we do ask is you cite us and/or hyperlink to our page as the source.

We will also happily accept travel expenses to visit a distillery, tasting, or whatever else to cover it for the webpage, blogs or other forms of media and will disclose who paid us if/when that ever happens (hasn't happened yet - but see above on our conditions to accept offers).


I am always looking for new products to review and/or feature on Spirits Review. I will not only sample a product, but any variations or line extensions of the same product. So please feel free to send examples of different bottlings, expressions, etc. Also please send any shelf talkers, literature, or other sales merchandise you feel may be useful.

How to Get Your Product Reviewed

Shipping Instructions/Suggestions:

1. Wrap the items carefully (lots of bubble wrap!).

2. If possible, please send via FedEx (They seem to do the best job) or UPS.

3. Quantities: spirits and wine (minimum 375 ml per item to be reviewed); beer (minimum 2 12-ounce ounces per brew or type to be reviewed). Part of our reviews is on packaging, we like to include drinks as part of the review and we do our own photos/bottle shots this is all difficult with minis. Please see our About page for further details on what we do. Also please send any shelf talkers, literature, or other sales merchandise, POS etc., you think we might find useful.

4. Please email me so I know to look for your samples.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me via email: Chris(at)

Please forward sample(s) to:

Samples can be sent to:

Christopher Carlsson
86 Nunda Blvd
Rochester, New York 14610


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"We Don't Have Things Like This In The Third World" III

"Tales crowd is doing its best to kill the night and greet the morning" Around 6 Am or so some stripper from a local club (sorry won't say which) tried selling my English mate some methedrine (his accent marked him as not from around there and unlikely as law enforcement ). He had an outstanding rejoinder (no wonder he gets all the action) No, thank you. I deal in something much more dangerous - alcohol but I do it very responsibly (went on to explain bartending) chatted up the two pneumatic blondes quite nicely for a bit. Finally sometime after the sun rose and before it got to bright we all headed back to the hotel, another night gone and a new day at Tales beginning.

(Apologies for breaking the story up but it seems the only way to be able t0o post the photos Anywhere near where I want them.)

"We Don't Have Things Like This In The Third World" II

Eventually ( as the opening was running late) we were all greeted by Charlotte Voisey - Hendricks Gin Ambassador who, even more so than usual , (given the costume and circumstances), looked like a slumming angel .

Charlotte , who always is a good sport about such things, wore her costume with grace and poise, greeting all of the guests into the darkly lit room beyond the golden doors.

I ran into David Suro ( Of Tequilas Restaurant in Philadelphia and Siembra Azul Tequila) and Dr Rodolfo Fernandez (Noted expert on all things Agave and more) at the burlesque show - Rodolfo had a great line as we were watching the whole spectacle - "We don't have such things in the third world " a pause then, "But we do have American TV which can be similar"

The burlesque show itself was, at turns, amusing and scary, depending on the acts - some of which reminded me of a old saying about prostitutes in Paris but I digress as usual.

Following the Hendricks party I caught a ride with David and Rodolfo to Herbsaint down the street. Bottles of Mezcal somehow appeared from out of a briefcase someone else brought and we are drinking it from the bottle on the sidewalk at the cafe. After getting some more refreshments and a desultory conversation or two we went back to the Monteleone Carousel till it closed down for the night. After that it was off down Royal and somehow ending up at the Erin Rose around 4 AM or so.

The place was unbelievably packed and people of every possible type, persuasion and state of sobriety were there,a major player in the business was there , hooting,raving falling over and having a good time, locals, tales goers of all stripes, it looked like the Meet Cafe from Naked Lunch, some many people of so many different types and enthusiasms were packed in there it was hard to tell who was doing what to me , if they were just being friendly,something more or just trying to let someone else go by. It really didn't matter really, everyone was getting along just fine. We bumped into numerous old friends, made new ones and finally, regretfully, headed down to the Alibi to decompress a bit and await the dawn with a few of a die hard friends.

"We Don't Have Things Like This In The Third World"

Wednesday July 8th Evening - Thursday July 9th Morning

"We Don't Have Things Like This In The Third World "
-Dr Rodolfo Fernandez

The evening started tamely enough and slowly decayed into another another walking into the dawn, "I swear I will never do this Again!", debacle .
Dinner was with the crew from Baddish PR and Remy Cointreau at Mr B's across the street from the Monteleone - surprisingly a number of people in the dinner party were drinking Tourment Vert (the only absinthe/pastis on the menu admittedly) including myself. It really did taste fairly good with lots of ice (OK I was dehydrated and ready to drink almost anything at that point that was cold - but still...).
After a lovely dinner with the crew it was time to go out and see what parties there were on offer for the night- funny the idea of sleep doesn't occur during Tales for most of us it seems...
First there was the Beefeater 24 party at the Roosevelt, a somewhat jarring change from the plush , classy and and low key celebration they held last year for Desmond Payne's Jubilee . This one was full of techno music,suckling pigs, and lots of dancing (in no particular order). The new Beefeater 24 was the spirit of the hour and many different types of drinks were available to showcase this new gin - all of which seemed quite nice and were presented in great profusion to any and all who wished to sample them.

It probably was a particularly bad omen that we were dancing with a mime before 9 PM - dancing with a mime at any hour would have been a bad omen of things to come but before 9 well....
After that lamentable spectacle we proceeded downstairs to await the opening of the Hendricks Burlesques Show, bumping into several luminaries such as Dale DeGroff and Simon Difford. We also knew at this point that if Gary Regan was not here, at this event, he was either dead or seriously MIA.

First Night at Tales - Where All My Troubles Began

This Post was submitted to the to the Blogging Tales crew and never got published there, so I finally decided to publish it here.
O.K. The plan sounded reasonable at first blush, get to Tales early ( by noon from the East Coast ) the day before it all starts (Tuesday ), Yes it did involve getting up at 5 AM , but the thought was , well I'll just have a little lie down before my 6 PM dinner plans with some friends.
That would have worked well if I had gotten more than 3 hours of sleep that night and also if I had not been told upon arrival that my room would not be ready till 4 PM.
Great I thought - all ready sleep deprived and no place to go - back part of the Carousel is shut off and too hot and sunny to sleep in a park.
So I belly up to the Carousel Bar and order an Abita, checking to see if I recognize anyone else.
A few people are already filtering and we have some desultory conversation and look over our paperwork (registration is not open yet either) and try to come up with some plans in lieu of sleep.
The desk staff at the hotel swear they will call me when the room is ready- It's around 4:30 when I get the call.
I retrieve my gear, settle in a bit, have a quick shower, then peruse my maps and contact lists,
I make a few calls and make sure the arrangements for a Fernet Branca 2 pack hung on my doorknob each morning till Sunday is set - there are priorities here.

I met up with the Bartenders Apprentice group - these are the bartenders that do all the heavy lifting , behind the scenes work prepping, and preparing the hundreds of gallons of cocktails for various functions and presentations.They are in a sense similar to the "Black Gang - the workers who shoveled coal into the boilers of steamships - never noticed by anyone but absolutely vital to the operation.

Remy Cointreau has set up an appreciation night for them in advance and I was invited to tag along. First there was some team building games and some competitions - including one that involved guessing the contents of a bag of very disparate items- which later became props for a number of people to wear later in the evening.....

First stop was Arnauds a short distance away for drinks and in some cases cigars. Followed after a bit by the Old Absinthe House then was Tujaques which was a lot further away than many people realized.

A number of us eventually ended up at our usual haunt the Alibi - a place that never closes (Actually they do close for one hour a year for cleaning whether it needs it or not) and is the service industry bar near Bourbon St.

Party breaks up around 4 AM or so with some of us still hanging around till 6 or so.

So much for an early night at the beginning of Tales.

Monday, August 10, 2009

In Praise of Vodka II

Bee Sour
2 oz Bee Vodka
2 oz Fresh lemon Juice
1 oz Simple syrup or agave syrup or 1/2-3/4 oz Honey
1 oz Egg White
2 Dashes Angustora Bitters
Shake vigorously with or without Ice (no ice makes of better foam but chill shaker in freezer)
Pour into Old Fashioned Glass with ice
Garnish with slice of Lemon and Marashino Cherry

This is a drink that is very simple in its ingredients but somehow complex.
It uses a 100% New York State Honey Vodka ( Bee Vodka from Hidden Marsh Distillery ) which has a very distinctive taste and mouthfeel. Floral, citrus, toasty, a dry high proof mead in a sense.
It is a very light frothy kind of drink with a lot of subtle flavors and complexity to it without being overdone. Similar to a Pisco sour but more subtle - and yes you can put the bitters on top of the foam Pisco Sour style as a variation.Refreshing, easy to drink and quenching. Light but not bland.

In Praise of Vodka

My friends would politely label or name me as an anomaly . I am many different things and capable of having multiple enthusiasms about disparate issues, causes and substances.
One of these many things is beverage alcohol in it's many splendid and multifarious forms.
Some of my chief enthusiasms for that subtle poison for without which life would become rapidly unbearable are for whisk(e)y, gin, brandies and eau de vies. But I also have dedicated a lot of time and attention to vodka. By last count I have almost 200 of them of every conceivable type from all over the world. They all are interesting (some if only in a bad way or humorous way), different and worthwhile in some way. And yes they even have a sense of terrior , a Russian vodka from the Yaroslavl area is as distinctive from an Estonian vodka as an Islay scotch is from a Highland,
It's just more subtle and in a narrower range of difference. I have Russian friends who can not only tell you what distillery but what shift made the vodka at Russian distilleries. It's a matter of attention to detail. Example:
A cola drink has roughly 50 + flavor notes to it. A lemon /lime clear soda (7 Up, Sprite etc.,) has only about 7 - but of course you can tell 7 UP from Sprite . Same holds for mineral water - the differences between most are quite remarkable , Gerolsteiner tastes nothing like Perrier and so forth.
Vodka can and does have unique differences that make it interesting, subtle yes, but interesting.
As to drinks think of it as a blending or catalyst agent. It is absolutely necessary for the mouthfeel, weight and mixing of some ingredients to make a successful cocktail, but many were you don't necessarily want a extra taste(s). If one were to use only alcohol containing eau de vies in a drink rather than juices or other non alcoholic liquids you would be either making very small drinks or a rapidly mind numbing cocktail. Vodka does serve a vital purpose as something to facilitate blending of ingredients and to give a feel and taste to a drink.
Also it serves a very useful function which I rapidly learned to appreciate while socializing with my Russian friends.
When you are eating a Russian smorgasbord type of meal with friends there are a huge variety of heavy, protein rich, foods that each would cling like grim death to taste-buds interfering greatly with the appreciation of a new item.The only way to clear your palate for the next course (O.K outside of slices of cucumbers , but what fun is that?) is to do a Russian Shot of Vodka - this is not some 1 oz shot or even a 1 1/2 oz jigger but a 4 finger 100 ml (that's 3.38 oz minimum) of vodka to clear and rinse the palate.
Above is a prefilled Russian shot glass - tear off top as you won't need to reseal it (they always unscrew a cap of a liter bottle and throw it over their shoulder too - but that is another story).
Such pieces of glassware -and the vodka to fill- it is an indispensable part of a proper Russian gathering both for the enjoyment of the food, conviviality and comradeship that will break out.
Using any other form of alcohol just does not work, nothing clears a palate like a large shot of clear cold mineraly vodka - leaving the palate refreshed and ready for more. Another point is hangovers - if you are doing things properly and having many toasts , you need something exceedingly clean of any other chemical compounds (the ones that lend color,taste, and mouthfeel in other alcohols) because you are going to do a lot of it - you just can't do them in the same quantities.
As my favorite drink for vodka (or at least the way to drink it) many times it is something my many Russian friends ( Paratroopers, ex Partisans, Chekists,) taught me- just a glass of pure vodka at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (too cold and it loses too much taste) in a Russian shot glass you clutch it in your hand and bump fists with your friends so you don't alert anyone - (Army Officers, Fascist Invaders of the Motherland, or whoever ) that you are drinking . You are simultaneously celebrating life, relaxing, and getting one over on authority - what could be better?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

World Breastfeeding Week Cocktail
Regan Gin Fizz (Variation on of course Ramos Gin Fizz)
Named after Gary Regan - the ONLY reason being that Gary always tells me I have to much time on my hands when I indulge in strange or pointless projects- no other reasons expressed or implied.

2 oz Aviation Gin
1oz agave syrup,
.5 oz fresh lemon juice,
.5 oz fresh lime juice.
1 egg white
1.5 oz human breast milk (hind milk is best)

Shake madly with ice for 2 minutes.
Read the rest of the story at:

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Lost Entry from 2008 Tales
It's 6 AM,again yes,we said we wouldn't do this again,today, whatever it is, we walked into the dawn again,past the night watchmen,even the prostitutes and beggershave called it a night hours ago.
It all started off innocently enough,full of good intentions,and plans of rest after a quiet night .
After a long day of workshops and networking, we started off at the cocktail hour a broad expanse of cocktails running the gamut from the sublime to the regretable.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

tales test

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]
Testing the remote blogging system using an old Palm Tungsten C - this was long before twitter when this software came out !
Due to the fact my notebook is not only very heavy and of questionable durability I am going to use my palm handheld and a note book instead aong with my camera( I will be posting on both here and flickr)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Drink Up New York Absinthe Tasting April 30th 2009

Drink Up New York held a Absinthe Tasting at the Bourgeois Pig April 30th for a packed crowd of enthusiasts. With over 13 Absinthes and a few gins thrown in for good measure, it was a crowded venue. Along with the enthusiasts there were many of the actual distillers on hand to discuss and share their products with the enthusiastic crowd. Pictures are on flickr are linked HERE - Sorry there are not more but it was hard to drink and photograph at the same time (have to really work on that before Tales again).
For those who would like to see many more and I dare say higher quality photographs please use this link to go to the slide show of the professional photographer who was there Kat Cheng of (who appears next to Joan in a couple photos) .
Ran into quite a few people including Absinthe Ben of the Absinthe Review Network, Lance Winters of St George, Robert Cassell of Philadelphia Distilling (Vieux Carre Absinthe ), Ted Breaux of Nouvelle Orleans and Lucid fame, Gwydion Stone of Marteau Absinthe , among many others.
Will write more after we get some sleep. Been uploading videos from the USBG New York Chapter for far too long!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

USBG Bartenders Cocktail Competition May 1st 2009

Laura Baddish and Jonathan Pogash were kind enough to invite us to the United States Bartenders Guild Cocktail Competition held at the World Bar in (a) Trump Tower (corner of 48st and 1st Ave). It was quite the gathering of mixologists,writers, distillers, and assorted others.Bartenders as far away as Moscow came to watch. The link to the still photos and some of the videos (flickr won't allow us to post one of them as it is too big) is HERE . The YouTube videos are HERE . We will continue to label, edit, and describe the various pieces as we piece together the information for each one. This is a bit of a rushed post to get the pics and video up - we will add more info later on.