Archive for July, 2009

July 31st, 2009

Nips – 7/31/09

» Interested in going to bartending school? A website called Groupon, which posts daily deals in various cities, including Boston, is today advertising a $445 course at the DrinkMaster Bartending School for only $150. I know nothing of this school’s reputation, but, hey, it sounds like a deal worth exploring for those so inclined.

» Storied Seattle bartender Murry Stenson of the ZigZag Cafe recently celebrated his 60th birthday with a group of fellow bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts, including Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who was soliciting toasts for the fête from Murray fans nationwide. Even though I’ve never met the man, he has bought me drinks on two occasions through other bartenders. So I got together with two ladies from LUPEC Boston—Misty Kalkofen of Drink, who has also been remotely treated to drinks by Murray, and Kirsten Amman, who recently actually met him in person—to pen an homage (after downing a few cocktails, of course). To our delight, it was transcribed into “one of Murray’s first-edition copies of Embury,” says Morgenthaler. Yes. One of them.

murry-bday-message

Here it is: “Legend has it there is a bartender in the Northwest named Murray Stenson. His myth echoes from the Pacific through the hills of the Midwest, past the Isle of Manhattan, up the coast of the Atlantic. His legend comes bearing twenties to the heirs of the Pilgrim Rum. Puritans near and far long for the opportunity to glimpse Seattle’s beacon of hospitality. For now, we raise our tankards to the gracious man who touches the heart of Boston. Happy birthday, Murray, from a city of folks who love you though we’ve never met you. We look forward to having you at our bars.”

» Check out this clever montage of Boston bar and cocktail folk (including me) shaking their tails off to a soundtrack by dSonic.

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Posted in Books & resources, Nips, Seattle, Video | 2 Comments »

July 28th, 2009

Lame beer session

obama_beer

President Obama, acknowledging his part in spurring the media circus around the arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. through his “stupid” remark about the case (which has by now been downgraded from Exhibit A: Racial Profiling Epidemic to Unfortunate Incident), and wanting to shut that circus down so that we can resume talking about life-and-death stuff like health care and the war in Afghanistan, is having Gates and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley over to the White House on Thursday for a beer.

Whether or not we agree that this particular presidential summit is warranted, I think we can agree on the notion of getting together over a beer to solve problems. It should happen way more often. But hearing what kind of beer each gentleman requested disappointed me. From the Reuters blogs:

Asked what beer the president might have, [Spokesman Robert] Gibbs observed that Obama drank a Budweiser at the baseball All-Star Game a couple of weeks ago.

“Sgt. Crowley mentioned when the president offered this on the phone Friday that he likes Blue Moon,” said Gibbs. Blue Moon is a Belgian-style white beer brewed by Molson Coors.

Gates told the Boston Globe he was a fan of Red Stripe, a Jamaican lager, and Beck’s, a German lager.

Oh, god. Bud, Blue Moon and Beck’s? Really, gentlemen? Is the meeting at a Ruby Tuesday’s or something? Not to mention the fact that every one of these brews is made by a global conglomerate. Can I interest you in something still well-known (i.e. not “elitist”) but American-made — Sam Adams, maybe? Fitting that it originates from the city across the river from the incident. Or maybe the Cambridge guys could bring a local brew from their city, while Obama brings a D.C.-made beer to the table. I suggest, given Crowley’s taste for unfiltered wheat ales, that he grab a growler of hefe-weizen from the Cambridge Brewing Co. Mr. President, you bring some Capitol City Kolsch for yourself and Mr. Gates. That way you get symbolism and flavor.

You’re welcome. Let me know if I can be of any further help.

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Posted in Beer, Booze in the news | 13 Comments »

July 24th, 2009

Red Rot Cocktail – now on video


I followed up my how2heroes video on Boston’s Ward Eight cocktail with this one on the Red Rot Cocktail. You may recall that Misty Kalkofen and I created this confection for a party at the Boston Athenaeum. It’s inspired by the “red rot cocktail” that book restorers use to bring musty, old, red leather-bound books back to life. Never thought you’d see footage of rotting book covers in a cocktail video, did you?

The great thing about the video is that we actually got to shoot it in the historic, Beacon Street building that houses the Athenaeum. If you’ve never been there, you should pop in someday and check out the first floor and gallery areas. Better yet, become a member and get access to the whole place. You can check out books, attend lectures (I’ve been to some really good ones) and other events, and bring your laptop and work in a spacious, art-and-antique-filled room overlooking the Granary Burying Ground. Contrary to any preconceptions you may have, you don’t have to be a blue-blooded retiree to join. All you need is a credit card and a couple of references.

As for the cocktail (recipe here): it’s pretty, it’s tasty, it’s balanced, and it’s accessible. Serve it to your vodka-swilling friends, and they will be converted to the ways of gin.

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Posted in Cocktails, Gin, Liqueur, Video | 3 Comments »

July 20th, 2009

70+ bars of the world

merchant-hotel-bar-belfast

That World’s Biggest Bar Crawl seminar I talked about in my previous post about Tales ’09? It just dawned on me: why not offer up the whole list? I know there are more than a few globetrotters among you drinkbostonians, and, hey, if you find yourself in Barcelona or Hong Kong looking for a serious, historic, plush, legendary or otherwise kick-ass bar, just keep this list in your phone or tattoo it on your thigh or something. Here they are, in order of mention, and with a few sparse notes I took:

Carousel Bar (New Orleans); Florida Room (Miami); La Floridita (Cuba); Merchant Hotel bar (Belfast); Quaich Bar — 1,000 single malts (Speyside, Scotland ); Bramble — built for just £16,000 (Edinburgh ); Bar 50 — home to the world-famous Peter Sellers lookalike and Breakfast Martini inventor Salvatore Calabrese, Dukes Hotel, Quo Vadis, Milk & Honey, the LAB (London); Blackfriars Distillery Bar — shameless plug from brand ambassador Simon Ford (Plymouth, England); Apoteke (Tromso, Norway); Ruby (Copenhagen); Hemingway Bar, Harry’s New York Bar (Paris); Widder Bar (Zurich); Barfly’s Club — 60 different ryes! (Vienna); Dry Martini — over 1 million served, Boadas  — here they “throw” drinks between giant shakers like in Jerry Thomas’ day (Barcelona); Paparazzi, UFO (Bratislava, Slovakia); Le Lion de Paris (Hamburg); Schumann’s (Munich); Becketskoff (Berlin); Nottingham Forest — molecular mixology pioneer (Milan); Door 74 (Amsterdam); Burj al Arab — world’s priciest cocktail (Dubai); Sky Bar (Moscow); Felix, Captain’s Bar, China Club (Hong Kong); Olives (Mumbai); Rick’s (Delhi); Raffles — originator of Singapore Sling but a depressing tourist trap, Tippling Club (Singapore); Constellation (Shanghai); High Five — jaw-dropping technique, Tender Bar — six different shaking techniques, carved ice cubes (Tokyo); Bayswater Brasserie (Sydney); Der Raum, Tiki Bar, 1806 (Melbourne); Motel, Matterhorn (Wellington, NZ); Cafe Tortoni (Buenos Aires); Andres Carne de Res — filled with junk (Bogota, Colombia); Westin Hotel bar — home of the Caesar (Calgary); Zig Zag, Vessel (Seattle); Bel Ami (Portland); Bix, Tommy’s, Bourbon & Branch (San Francisco); Doheny, the Edison (L.A.); Downtown Hotel (Dawson City, Yukon Territory); Churchill Downs (Kentucky); Pegu Club, King Cole bar in the St. Regis Hotel, P.J. Clarke’s, PDT, Death & Co., Randall (NYC); Drink (Boston); the Gibson, Bourbon (Washington D.C.); Absinthe House, Alibi (New Orleans). Extra credit: Vodka & Shotguns (Lithuania).

I have only been to a handful of these places. Got some travelin’ to do.

I guess it would have been a lot easier to link to the New York Times’ version of this list, complete with links. D’oh.

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Posted in Misc. | 1 Comment »

July 17th, 2009

Tales ’09 highlight reel

tales09-fernet

This year’s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans was a bigger, more colorful swirl of people and events than ever before. More old friends, more new acquaintances, more running around the city, more parties, more bars, more New Orleans culinary delights, more tequila. It was a sweeping epic taking place over a mere five days and ending with a languid afternoon in a pool with a rum cocktail.

My first post on Tales ’09 gave you a taste. Now here’s the highlight reel.

The events
The highlight of Using Blogs and Online Tools to Promote Your Bar, Brand or Career was seeing Robert Heugel of Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston as one of the panelists. I met Robert at my similarly themed panel at last year’s Tales, just as Anvil was getting underway. He was looking for ways to promote his classic cocktail bar in a community where the clientele for that sort of thing was seemingly nonexistent. Well, he began talking about Anvil on his blog, Drink Dogma, and began to get noticed. Today, Anvil is one of the most celebrated new cocktail bars in the country. Congrats, Robert!

Also: World’s Biggest Bar Crawl. Over 70 bars lovingly and wittily described by jetsetting British brand ambassadors Simon Ford and Angus Winchester. And I didn’t think I had a reason to fly to Bratislava, Slovakia (home of the bars Paparazzi and UFO). Beefeater Welcome Reception in the swank, newly remodeled Roosevelt Hotel. Strooong drinks with Beefeater’s new “24″ gin (it’s got a hint of green tea), including Audrey Saunders’ lovely, frothy take on the classic White Lady. Thank god I had a pillar to lean on — John Myers, who, with Wayne Curtis, would fittingly educate me about hangovers at Sunday’s Paying the Piper: Your Hangover and You. Talking cures and hair of the dog, Myers suggested everything from Pedialyte to coconut water to Fernet Branca to “a cold beer in the shower — hot scrubbing bubbles on the outside, cool scrubbing bubbles on the inside.” And then there were Dale DeGroff’s dueling solutions for preventing hangovers: “Don’t start drinking. Don’t stop drinking.”

tales09-paul-clarke

The parties
Steve Olsen and his wine geeks staged their customary unsanctioned (i.e. not organized by Tales) madness this year at Tommy’s Wine Bar, with a well-choreographed line of bartenders shaking up mezcal-based cocktails. Rob Cooper of St. Germain attempted to get arrested by throwing an illegal party on the steps of the Louisiana Supreme Court House with free-flowing elderflower liqueur and tequila punch (Is tequila the new rye? Are punch parties the new raves?) Finally, the annual Bartenders’ Breakfast at the swanky Latrobe House, with bartenders from Milk & Honey, PDT and the Edison Room, among others, cranking out craft cocktails amid a sea of mourners from the funeral march of the Redheaded Slut.

The bars
Bars I visited and drinks I had there: Laid-back hipster bars: Mimi’s in the Marigny (Rolling Rock), d.b.a. on Frenchman St. (a beer and a sip of someone’s cognac). Historic bars: Napoleon House (Pimm’s Cup), Tujagues (De La Louisiane), French 75 Bar (Vermouth Sour). Live-music joint: Vaughan’s (High Life). Cocktail bars: Sazerac Bar (Sazerac, Blood & Sand), Cure (Old Fashioned). The French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s, where for some strange reason I had not been until this year, is such a beautiful time machine, and when Chris Hannah is mixing drinks you have yourself a New Orleans bar experience to remember. Cure is the first contemporary craft cocktail bar in New Orleans, with a talented staff led by Kirk Estopinal, formerly of the Violet Hour in Chicago. The charmingly ornery Paul Gustings of Tujague’s harrumphed about new cocktail bars like Cure (“I heard it takes 15 minutes to get a drink there!”) while at the same time talking up the classic cocktail menu he’s developing (for the unlikely occasion when you don’t simply order a Sazerac). Hey, with Paul on board, this cocktail craze really must be getting somewhere.

tales09-cure

Extra credit
Stayed an extra day in New Orleans, which meant I was able to enjoy a laid-back pool party with Wayne Curtis, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Misty Kalkofen, Chris Hannah, Martin Cate and various significant others and friends. While Misty’s pitcher of Hanky Pankys chilled in the freezer, Chris came up with this gem, one of the most delicious drinks I had all week:

Fernet Swizzle
by Chris Hannah, French 75 bar

3/4 oz Travellers rum
3/4 oz Havana Club anejo blanco rum
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz falernum
1 oz fresh orange juice
1/4 oz pineapple juice
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
3 cubes cantaloupe

“Shake, pour and have by the pool,” says Chris.

Until next year, then…

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Posted in New Orleans | 4 Comments »

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