A strange story this weekend: the Czech Republic on Friday announced a full, national ban on any alcoholic beverage over 20% abv — namely, any hard spirit. The problem, which began a couple of weeks ago, is with bootleg liquor, some of which contains methanol, which is toxic to humans. So far, 20 people have died, and 36 are in critical condition.
I can’t quite understand the rationale for a blanket ban; the government says that bootleg spirits are often sold as legitimate product, which would mean it’s hard to know the true quality of that bottle of Absolut you just bought at a Prague shop. Here’s a telling detail, though:
The BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague says that with the number of reported deaths slowing, attention is focusing on saving those who survived drinking the tainted alcohol and finding those who bottled it in the first place.
So the idea is: prevent future poisonings, care for those afflicted, and track down the culprits. A full ban still seems like an overreaction to me, though.
The ban is expected to be temporary, but no Czech officials are speculating yet as to when it may be lifted.
Poland has now taken the step of banning spirits imports from the Czech Republic.
Thus far, police have failed to locate the source of the tainted hooch.
So, while we were in the midst of moving to Brooklyn, back in late May and early June, I was also writing a piece, for Ralph Lauren’s online magazine, about Calvados and apple brandy. It appears in the fall issue of RL Magazine, here.
I’m unlikely to post links for every bourbon-related story that emerges about the midwest drought, but I’ll follow it until I convince the rest of you to pay attention.
How will the Midwest drought affect bourbon?
An important question in our line of work.
Century-Old Whiskey Bottles Found in Missouri Man’s Attic
To save money on the installation of central air-conditioning in his St. Joseph, Mo., home, Bryan Fite began replacing the wires in his attic, prying up the floor boards on the rafters. Along with possible savings, he found a treasure beneath the floorboards: 13 bottles of century-old whiskey.
[Warning: there's an Auto-Play video at the link; very annoying]
Gin Palace Says State Turned Off the Tap on Its Cocktails
The New York State Liquor Authority has stopped Gin Palace, a new East Village bar, from serving cocktails on draft, according to its owner.
I meant to post this just prior to Mother’s Day, but you know how life can be…
The New-York Historical Society Museum and Library is hosting an exhibition on the history of brewing in New York. Prior to Prohibition, NY had a thriving brewing industry, with vast plants in Brooklyn (we lived down the street from a former brewery site in Bushwick), Queens, and even Manhattan.
The museum’s Tumblr is posting images from the exhibit, including some great old advertisements. For more on the exhibit, here’s a piece from the WSJ.
The exhibit opens today, May 25, and runs through September 2.
At Serious Eats, I contributed a drink to a new feature, “The Best Cocktails We Drank in [a given month].” This previous month being April, it was April’s turn to be the given month. The remit was, pick a drink you loved, whether out or at home. We don’t really get out much, for several reasons, so it would have to be a drink at home. I chose something new, a drink I’d never had or made before. My comments on the site were …
“Reposado tequila, sweet and dry vermouth, Campari, and Angostura bitters combine for the La Rosita, a spin on the classic Negroni cocktail. I mixed this one up at home for a crisp springtime refresher. Tequila and Campari play very well together, making for an herbal, lightly bitter drink that highlights tequila’s agave flavor.”—Michael Dietsch, Cocktail 101 columnist
Now, the recipe:
- 1-1/2 ounces reposado tequila
- 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1/2 ounce Campari
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.
For tequila, I used Espolon Reposado. For sweet vermouth, Cinzano; for dry, M&R.
Disclaimer: The Espolon and Campari were sent to me for review purposes by Campari America. I had never before had the Espolon and I quite liked it. I would consider buying it again, but I would consider other reposados before Espolon. As for Campari, I almost always have a bottle on hand, usually purchased with my own money. But to cover my ass, I probably can’t fail to disclose that Campari America sent me a bottle.
Photograph © Jennifer Hess
The Best Cocktails We Drank in April
Yes, ours was made at home. We don’t get out much with an infant in the house.