Hey, did you know the Derby falls on Cinco de Mayo this year? Gird your livers! Here are my tips for making a stunning mint julep.
A weblog detailing cocktails, spirits, liqueurs, barware, bars, and bitters. Maintained by Michael Dietsch, a writer and hobbyist mixer in Brooklyn.
Walter: I’m crazy about you, baby.
Phyllis: I’m crazy about you, Walter.
Walter: The perfume on your hair. What’s the name of it?
Phyllis: I don’t know. I bought it in Ensenada.
Walter: You ought to have some of that pink wine to go with it. The kind that bubbles. All I got is bourbon.
Phyllis: Bourbon is fine, Walter.
The notion of enjoying a cold one aboard a rush-hour commuter train leaving Manhattan may seem like a time-honored tradition, evoking visions of communal bar cars or perhaps a cocktail hour spent in solitude at one’s seat. But after midnight on weekends, the specter of alcohol aboard Long Island Rail Road trains carries a far more malevolent overtone; passengers described them as the “drunk trains,” characterized by fights and boisterous behavior. In March, passengers were accused of attacking two conductors.
BBC Radio 4′s The Food Programme this week did a report on the American craft-beer scene and how it’s starting to influence brewmasters in England. Among the brewers interviewed are guys from Harpoon, the Cambridge Brewing Company, and Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver. Makes me want to pop the cap off one right now.
My tequila primer, at Serious Eats.
Swizzle sticks are interesting devices. I don’t mean the plastic straw-like things that we know today as swizzle sticks. I mean true wooden swizzle sticks.
Originally made from slender tree branches, they’re meant as stirring tools for a type of cocktail called a “swizzle.” The swizzle is a tall drink, made of rum, lime juice, crushed ice, and sugar. In a way, it’s similar to a mint julep. The stick is a long-handled device with four or five “spokes” radiating out from the end in a star-like pattern.
Plunge the swizzler into the glass, all the way to the bottom. Take the stick between your palms and spin it. The spokes will spin around in the bottom of the glass and get the ice moving. Then you move the stick up and down in the drink, you’ll see the glass frost over.
The problem of the swizzle stick is not an easy one to solve.
Swizzle sticks are unique in cocktail ephemera, and they’re very hard to find; you normally have to import them from the West Indies, or have a friend bring some back. They’re natural products, so they vary a lot from stick to stick. Further, for working bartenders, true swizzle sticks can be a pain. They’re delicate and break easily, which means they need to be replaced often. And then you’re stuck, again, trying to ship some in from Martinique.
Two guys in the Boston area think they have a solution. One of these guys is Adam Lantheaume, friend to A Dash of Bitters and proprietor of The Boston Shaker, the awesome barware store in Somerville, Mass. He’s teamed up with a product designer, Brian Johnson, to develop and test a plastic swizzle stick, one that looks and works just like the wooden model but lacks its drawbacks.
The only thing is, the plastic model is a complex piece of product design, and it requires a special steel mold — one that’s expensive to produce. So Adam and Brian have turned to Kickstarter to fund the production of the mold. Further, to launch a product like this, they need to meet minimum order quantities, and the Kickstarter campaign will fund those, too.
So check it out. Like all things Kickstarter, there are fun premiums if the project is fully funded.
Incidentally, what Adam and Brian are doing here is surprisingly normal in the cocktail world. If a bartender needs a tool or ingredient that she can’t find, there’s nothing stopping her from just making it for herself or adapting another item to the task. Bartenders used to make their own liqueurs and tools all the time, so this DIY approach is right on target.
Unless you’ve been asleep this week, you’ve probably noticed that AMC’s Mad Men is returning to TV after a nearly 2-year hiatus. What you might not know is that Newsweek magazine this week has turned retro, reverting to its 1960s-era design and featuring advertisements in a 1960s style. You can browse those ads here, and in general, I think the advertisers mostly did a good job. I especially like the ads for Dunkin’ Donuts, Hush Puppies, John Hancock, Allstate, Lincoln Continental, and BOAC.
But I love the Johnnie Walker ad, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone, since I’ve featured ol’ John’s ads here before. Here it is, in the largest resolution I could get:
How accurate is it? Well, let’s find out. Here’s a real JWR ad from Ebony magazine, circa 1965 (click through to see it full size):
I’d say that’s pretty impressive, right? The layout’s the same, much of the copy is the same (or similar), and even the mildly suggestive nature of the photography is the same. I’d perhaps wager the Newsweek version is a reproduction of an actual Walker ad, updated slightly to reflect minor detail changes, except that I can’t find it on Google Books. (At least one change merits mention: JW in 1965 was 86.8 proof; today, it’s 80. Apparently, the proof level changed around 2000.)
UPDATE: I was right. Ad Age confirms that this is an actual JW ad that originally ran in the 1960s.
As a bonus, here’s another 1960s JW ad, this one from Life (again, click through for larger image):
Hm. Seems a little sexist, but I love the simple, clean design.
I promised to follow up on my Gimlet post from a while back. I was happy to see it garner so much commentary, so I wanted to address everyone’s thoughts.
First, the majority of you rightly shun and abhor Rose’s Lime Cordial. I’m sure that at some point, before the addition of HFCS, preservatives, and artificial colorings and flavorings, it was a quality product. No more.
Second, there’s far less agreement on whether a drink of gin, lime juice, and simple syrup deserves the moniker “Gimlet.” I believe that it does not. A Gin Sour is a fabulous drink, one I’ve enjoyed in the past and will enjoy again in the future. It is not, however, a Gimlet.
So, what’s a drunk to do?
I side with those of you who either use the Employee’s Only cordial or who make their own. I have yet to actually tackle that project, although I keep meaning to. It’s a worthy endeavor. I even have a bottle of Rose’s in the fridge that I intend to use as a control. If I get around to it while computers still exist and while blogs such as this are still a viable means of communication, perhaps I’ll even post about it.
Okay, in the spirit of enlivening this blog, I’m going to post a video and ask for some commentary. I’ll start with this short, entertaining Liquor.com video showing how to make a Gimlet:
Here’s the question: can you make a Gimlet with gin, lime juice, and simple syrup, or does the drink require Rose’s lime cordial?
Time to get this blog shaking again. Quickly approaching my sixth anniversary here, and it’s time for some new material. Things have been very quiet around here, primarily because I’m a new father. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you already know this. I care for the baby during the day, and when he’s asleep or otherwise occupied, I pursue the glamorous lifestyle of the struggling writer. But he’s an infant, and they ain’t low-maintenance.
What time I do have to write is largely filled with work for Serious Eats. If you’re not following me there, please do. Recent topics have included …