Book Review: The Seeker’s Guide to Bartending

seekers guide to bartending

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” -St. Francis de Sales

This is one of many quotes that begins each chapter of Jennifer Crilley’s 2014 book The Seeker’s Guide to Bartending. The Seeker’s Guide is similar to the “For Dummies” series, acknowledging that readers have basic bartending skills and are working towards their goal of being a bartender.

An easy read, The Seeker’s Guide incorporates Crilley’s personal stories of challenges, joys, and spiritual growth as a bartender. It’s helpful to know that the book was written by someone who has spent twelve years tending bar.

seekers guide to bartending ipages

The book is very relatable, and each short chapter is filled with personal insights, fun facts, illustrations, simple tips, scientific facts, and perspective shifts. To top it all off, a related activity is placed at the end of each chapter for the readers application. You’ll find everything from insight into how to be a better bartender to overcoming fear, controlling emotions and interacting with customers, to managing tip expectations and money management.

The Seeker’s Guide to Bartending could really be called New Age Bartending based on the content – Crilley writes from personal experience with the clear intention of sharing this knowledge with hopeful bartenders. This is a great read for the up-and-coming bartender. Buy The Seeker’s Guide to Bartending here.

Editor’s note: this is the first post by our new team member Andrew Moore. Welcome to Simple Cocktails, Andrew!

Grey Goose Vodka

grey goose and grey goose le melon

Grey Goose fights a tough fight on a regular basis. For something legally defined as tasteless and odorless, there is a wide variety that you find in vodkas. Most people can tell the difference between a “cheap” gas-station vodka and a “premium” vodka, and the manufacturers of both work hard to make their clear substance stand out from the competition.

At $35-40 a bottle, Grey Goose is arguably the most recognizable premium vodka brand. It’s certainly got a great flavor, and with Lisa being my best vodka taster (since she has a better palate for it), Grey Goose is one of her favorites. There’s a natural, subtle sweetness in Grey Goose that comes from the French wheat that’s used in it’s distillate, like a touch of vanilla and almond. You’ll also find it still retains some of the familiar “burn” that you’ve experienced with other vodkas, too.

Le Melon is the newest of the Grey Goose flavors, made from French Cavaillon melons. By the flavor, a cavaillon is a close relative to the cantaloupe, though we found the flavor to be something like a cantaloupe and watermelon mix. Grey Goose’s flavors is something that the company does best – sticking with traditional vodka flavors like citrus and vanilla, and as far as I can tell, taking care not to sweeten these flavors (they remain at 40% abv). They’re quality enough and are perfectly pleasant to sip neat or on the rocks.

Vodka is a polarizing substance in the world of craft cocktails. Heck, Death & Co. released a cocktail book without a single vodka cocktail in it. Regardless of that, there is certainly a place for premium vodkas in the market, and Grey Goose continues to solidify their role with quality products at a reasonable – though premium – price.

We also tasted Grey Goose and Le Melon on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Click here to listen.

Podcast 52- Grey Goose and Sazerac

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A Tarantino kick and a nod to his cocktail selection. Beer pops? We taste Grey Goose. Lisa introduces “spiky” as a tasting word. “Did they invent the melon?” We taste Grey Goose Le Melon. Greg attempts to establish himself as “cool” ….and fails. “Is there voodoo involved?” Greg screamed like a young girl. “Where’s your dusty old books?” We make a Sazerac. “I’m so excited to have one in New Orleans.”

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Podcast 51- Don Amado Mezcal and Sidecar

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We will be recording podcasts live at Tales of the Cocktail this year! Best breakfast burritos and Donald Trump. We taste mezcal for the first time with Don Amado Rustico. “The first time you try something you almost never like it.” Greg mentions his old brandy cherry post. The theme is Mexico. We make a Sidecar cocktail.

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Hornitos Spiced Honey

hornitos spiced honey

Clearly, there are waves and trends that hit the liquor companies over the years, and I understand the legitimate need to create something new and keep buying eyes on your brand. When I started this blog, flavored vodkas were at their peak, and I even reviewed (it’s true) some of the stranger among them.

That initial wave of vodka flavors has subsided, though there’s always room for pleasant-tasting vodkas. Now, they’ve been replaced by flavored whiskeys and, in the past year or so, tequilas too.

When Lisa and I opened Hornitos Spiced Honey for the first time (podcast link), we weren’t sure what to expect. In fact, we guessed it could be similar to American Honey Sting, Wild Turkey’s ghost-pepper-infused whiskey. Thankfully, it’s not. This Hornitos variation (only their second flavor offering) is a “spiced honey liqueur,” a warm honey-and cinnamon combo that’s more like a tea companion than the dare shot that American Honey Sting is.

Spiced Honey is sweet, yes, but still comes in at the 35% ABV level, which is expected from flavored liquor these days. The flavors are natural and rich, but not overpowering, and it’s surprising how little you taste the tequila, which I’m sure is the point. Hornitos Spiced Honey is worth a try, and it is something I’d imagine mixes excellent with a cinnamon liqueur like RumChata or Chila Orchata or just in a White Russian or other desserty drink. At $20 a bottle, you’re bound to find some clever ways to enjoy this tequila.

We tasted Hornitos Spiced Honey on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Click here to listen.

Book Review: Vermouth

vermouth book

Vermouth is closely tied to cocktail culture, a staple ingredient in classics like the Martini or Manhattan. I have written a lengthy post about vermouth here, including some basic history, recipes, and advice for caring for your vermouth.

Adam Ford has just released a comprehensive and beautiful book on this amazing fortified wine, titled: Vermouth, The Revival of the Spirit that Created American Cocktail Culture. Ford does a great job of delivering a helpful and informative book on vermouth, which he reckons is the “world’s oldest alcoholic beverage.”

vermouth book

On rough estimation, I’d say a third of this book is committed to history of vermouth, a third to America’s role in vermouth (historically and currently), and a third is a cocktail recipe section. The heavy leaning toward American vermouth is useful, as there really isn’t much of a source for these facts elsewhere. It’s helpful that the author is an authority on American vermouth – he’s the founder of NY-based Atsby

The photography in Vermouth is melancholy (see the cover photo above, for example), and the photos fit perfectly well with the style and the layout of the book, which has a very clear sense of it’s own style, and fits perfectly with the subject matter. Anyone with a passing interest in cocktail history, and vermouth in particular, will enjoy Ford’s book very much, and the recipes serve as a handy guide for exploring vermouth further as well.

Buy Vermouth from Amazon here.

Podcast 50- Absolut Spark and Aunt Agatha

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1 year of podcasting and 50 episodes!!! The podcasting history of Greg and Lisa. We turn out the lights and celebrate with a bottle of Absolut Spark (photo here). Vodka takes off stink and starches shirts. #sparkyournight We make an Aunt Agatha cocktail. The only goth we had in the 80s? “We owe papa a new funnel.” Great looking ice.


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Father’s Day Gift Ideas

I’ll confess that Father’s Day and Christmas give me fun excuses to venture out into pseudo-cocktail dude gift ideas, which I really have fun exploring. As always, I have a handful of fun and creative gift ideas for you to consider for your own father or husband this year.

Alberta Dark Batch Rye. I love rye and at $30, this is a really fun alternative to the usual liquor store bottles of rye. Canadian, and therefore sweeter, yet still spicy in your chest, this is an awesome gift choice. It’s interchangeably usable as a sipper or as a backbone for Dad’s Manhattan or Old Fashioned. Find out more at Alberta Rye’s site.

Jelly Belly Cocktail Classics and Draft Beer. This is a good gift for a beer- and cocktail-loving dad. Depending on the size, for $4-10, these are great for a laugh or if you’ve always wanted to try a beer jelly bean…here’s your chance! Use these Amazon links to get Draft Beer or Cocktail Classics Jelly Belly beans.

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987, by Brett Weiss. Does dad speak fondly of “the good old days” of video games, or hanker for his Colecovision, Atari 2600, or NES? This is an awesomely fun, full-color, hardcover book with the top 100 home video games from the early days of console gaming, A-Z. I checked immediately for my favorite, Yar’s Revenge, and it’s in there! Buy it from Amazon or directly from the publisher.

Usquaebach 15 Year Old Blended Malt Scotch. Pronounced oos-ke-bah, the name of this scotch is based on the Gaelic phrase water of life which ultimately is how we ended up with the word whisky. That’s a good thing. This award-winning scotch is finished in oak and sherry casks, and it’s heavenly. For $80 a bottle, you’ll get a warm, sweet, rich, and filling scotch that’s sure to make dad grin. Explore Usquaebach here.


Abq the Mag: Best of the City 2015


Hello readers!

Every year, Albuquerque the Magazine hosts a Best of the City contest and awards ceremony. I have been honored to be the only blogger to place in the top 5 for the past 2 years…now what I’d really love is to WIN in 2015!

Please click here to cast your vote by August 1 – the Best Blogger category can be found under the “people” header. You don’t need to live in Albuquerque to vote, but if you do, please vote for as many categories as possible!

Podcast 49- Hornitos Spiced Honey and Gimlet

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We’re going to Tales of the Cocktail! More concerned about hair than drunkenness. We taste Hornitos Spiced Honey…and do a quick comparison with Wild Turkey American Honey Sting. Greg mentions a Brave Bull and a Akdov Telmig. We make a Gimlet and talk Scurvy talk. MARMALADE! Discomfort when he pees.

Download Episode 49.

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