This one was fun, one of the times when the words started flowing and didn’t stop until I was finished writing.
Following up on last week’s discussion of the Negroni, I thought I’d take a bit of time and explore the world of bitter liqueurs. As I said then, “You hate Campari until that one moment when you love it, and then when you love it you never want your bottle to run dry.” But how does one go about learning to love Campari and, for that matter, other bitter liqueurs?
So a few months ago, I announced my first book and shared the cover. Here’s the cover I shared.
Well, hey, that looks great, doesn’t it? But it’s not the final cover. This is:
You’ll notice a few differences here, I think, some subtle and some not so much. First, check out the format differences. The first cover is square, the second one is rectangular. Why? The book was originally going to be a paperback original, in a 7 X 7 size. Now, it’s hardcover — the type of hardcover where there’s no slipcover, just the art printed directly on the cover.
You’ll note that the image is different. Instead of peaches and raspberries, we have apples and cranberries. Why? The release date has changed: October instead of July. The format, the cover, and the release date all changed for an important reason: we’re targeting the holiday-shopping season, which is exciting because it means we all think this book could be something.
Well, I know it’s something anyway. I’ve written it and I’m proud of it. I’ve seen Jen’s beautiful photos, and she and I are both proud of those, too.
SHRUBS is available for pre-order on various internet outlets: Amazon, Powell’s, and even directly from the publisher. Pre-orders are important, because they help the publisher gauge demand for the book and determine how many to print, so if you can pre-order, you’ll be helping me out quite a bit.
I am on the prowl now to find the best version of a Negroni that I can devise at home. I’m going to start by examining the gin. As we know, gin is a blend of neutral spirit and a mix of juniper and other aromatic herbs and spices. Some gin distillers push the juniper to the front, whereas others craft a spirit that’s more floral or citrusy. Which style of gin works best for a Negroni? I wanted to find out.
Read more, at Serious Eats.
Her apartment was in a large modern elevator building with central air conditioning. Her windows overlooked no view at all, but were large anyway. The living room was expensively and tastefully decorated, but with the sterility and lack of individuality of a display model.
“Bar over there,” she said, pointing. “Just let me get this film started. You could make me a martini, if you would.”
“Very very dry.”
She went through the archway on the far side of the room, and Parker went over to the bar, a compact and expensive-looking piece of furniture in walnut. It included a miniature refrigerator containing mixers and an ice cube compartment, and up above a wide assortment of bottles and glasses.
Parker made the martini with the maximum of gin and the minimum of vermouth, and added an olive from a jar of them in the refrigerator. For himself he splashed some I. W. Harper over ice.
– The Handle, Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)
I know I’m in a vanishing minority, but I still believe in blogging, and especially cocktail blogging. When I started my own blog eight years ago, I used it to report on cocktail trends, share recipes, talk about bartenders and techniques and ingredients, and—most importantly—connect with other people who had the same passion for cocktails that I have. Though there are many other venues now in which to share these stories, I still think blogs have a place for the kinds of longer-form writing that you won’t usually see on Facebook or even Tumblr.
Six months ago, I highlighted some of the newer cocktail blogs on the scene, but today I have a few more new and/or under-the-radar blogs to recommend.
Just trying to get the word out, there’s a Kickstarter campaign in its final days now, for a couple of cool new bar spoon designs.
Check out the Kickstarter page here, and you’ll see the full prototyping process as well as the final designs for both spoons. I think these spoons look great, so check it out.
One is a classic barspoon, but with a straight, elegant shaft. The shaft and bowl will be made from one single molded piece of metal, so that the head isn’t welded on, which sets it apart from other spoons with a similar design.
The other spoon spins freely while you stir, removing a lot of the effort from stirring. If you’ve ever worked a full shift behind the bar, you’ll know that even stirring drinks can work up some repetitive stress issues in your arm and wrist.
Finally, the spoons are lovely and will make a great addition to your home or professional bar.
With 8 days left, they’re just over halfway to their goal, so help out if you can!
I know that at the moment it seems I only keep this blog alive to post links to my stuff, but I hope that will change shortly, when I finally finish my manuscript. Anyway…
True Essentials for Your Home Bar: Bottles, Bitters, and Tools
I find that it’s easy to overthink the simple things. For example, I work from home while caring for two small children. Jeans and a black t-shirt are now my daily uniform at home. Why buy button-downs and polos and sweaters just to wear at home, when they’ll just get jam and drool and Angostura on them anyway?
It’s also all too easy to overthink the home bar, and to assume you need to spend a couple hundred at the Liquorteria just to get started. Here are some tips on the essentials you really need.
Bad rye whiskey? Sadly, there is such a thing as bad rye; usually, the juice is so young, it has no nuance or subtlety, and all you get is fire and unpleasant fruity flavors. But enough about the not-so-good stuff. Let’s talk instead of the stars of the budget-rye universe.
Good rye should be spicy, somewhat fruity, and a little more rugged than bourbon. A common analogy is to compare rye bread to corn bread, and use that comparison to point out the differences between rye and bourbon. (The analogy is imperfect, but it’s a reasonable starting point.)
In which I run on at length about the basics of column distillation.