I’m honored to have been featured in the August 31 edition of the Albuquerque Journal in promotion of the New Mexico Cocktails book. Read their feature “Author Traces History of Cocktails in NM” here.
Suntory is a legendary Japanese distillery, one of only a handful of whisky makers in that country. They have become famous for quality, well-crafted single malts in the tradition of scotch whisky. Their fame is so solid, in fact, that they were able to purchase Jim Beam in 2014.
This summer, Suntory introduced and affordable whisky blend that’s designed for cocktails. Toki is comprised of 2 Suntory single malt “pillars”: Hakushu (light and fresh) and Chita (heavy grain). These two combine for a flavor that’s malty, crisp, light and sweet with a mild spice finish.
At $40 per bottle and 43% ABV, Toki is a light sipper for the warm months, and goes well neat or on the rocks. It’s malty character is reminiscent to me of Dutch Genever and barley-based Shochu. It pairs well with milder, lighter cigars, sipped neat.
While Toki can be mixed in cocktails any way you choose, Suntory has a specific “ceremony” they recommend for making the Toki Highball (pictured above):
“To begin a highball recipe, fill the glass to the brim with ice. Add one measure of whisky. Stir to cool the whisky and glass. Again add ice to the brim. Pour three measures of chilled sparkling water along the side of the glass to avoid melting the ice or bursting the bubbles. Add a twist of lemon. Enjoy.”
As a cocktail, the Toki Highball is subtle, malty, refreshing and easy to make, and at $40, Toki may serve to be an introductory Japanese whisky if you’re unfamiliar with the category.
We celebrate episode 100 with the people who made it all possible: Larry and Susie! We make a Larry Martini using Shaker 33. Tito is Larry’s Texas Twin. Vodka talk. Impressing bartenders? Susie’s dad. Home bartending: “part of your family.” William Grimes’ book. We make a Silverado Cocktail. New music courtesy of Argyle Street.
Dry Line’s Cape Cod Gin is made by the same distillers of Twenty Boat Spiced Rum, a “Cape Cod rum” that we scoffed at on the podcast….until we tasted it. I’m happy to say that Dry Line lives up to that same, good reputation.
We got to try “batch 1” of Dry Line and it has many of the tasting notes I love in a gin (I prefer bitey London Drys): a solid clove/spice tasting note, together with what I can best describe as hot mustard-like: a unique sweet/spice note. Dry Line is distilled from cane sugar, not neutral grain, which is unusual and may contribute to that sweet touch in the flavor profile.
The bottle itself is sexy, to be sure: perfectly square, moreso than Jack Daniel’s, even. South Hollow Spirits has delivered a solid, northeastern gin with a great deal of character, that’s somewhere between New Western and London Dry gins in it’s overall flavor.
I’ve been drinking Dry Line mostly in Gin Rickeys (gin/soda lime), and it’s a solid product for that drink. The drink I was really curious about, though, was a Etrog-tini (or is it a Dry-Lini?): Dry Line with a dash of Etrog liqueur (which we tasted recently on the podcast). Here’s the recipe:
Just as they did with Twenty Boat Spiced Rum, South Hollow Spirits has released another solid entry into an established space, yet has impressed with the unique and tasty flavor profiles they’ve been able to achieve there.
Let’s start with a diss from Greg. Bourbon Curious. Medicinal whiskey. The new book “Bourbon.” Fred’s Albuquerque connection. “A passionate lover of carne adovada.” Fred’s Derby Museum work.
Photo by James Eaton.
In the world of liquor, often the story behind a bar is often just as important as the modern-day reputation. The Petroleum Building in Downtown LA (built in 1925) is one such storied location, and it houses Caña Rum Bar.
Part of the same group that runs Seven Grand (which I posted about a few weeks ago), Caña is a tribute to rum and rum-producing countries like Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Nestled into the back of the old Petroleum Building, you find the entrance to Caña at the back of the building’s parking garage.
Caña is a private club and a $20 annual membership is required for admission (though you may bring guests with you). The bar itself is Continue reading
I recently got an out-of-print book called Straight Up or on the Rocks: A Cultural History of American Drink by William Grimes, a journalist with the New York Times. It had been recommended to me long ago, so I picked it up used at Amazon. From what I hear, this book (published in 1993) was one of the few great craft cocktail books of the 1990’s (which was a particularly dark time for cocktails).
Our full-length interview with Jeffrey Morgenthaler! The journey from dive bar to craft cocktails. The Pacific Northwest’s impact on craft cocktails. The infamous nose picking video. Cocktail recipes becoming the industry standard. Morgenthaler’s Amaretto Sour recipe. Barrel Aged Negroni recipe. The role of home bartenders. “What should I get for my home bar?” The resurgence of cooking, wine and cocktails. Willing to experiment.
Shaker 33 had a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015, and has now released their product in 2016. Shaker 33 aims to improve the decades-old design of the cocktail shaker with modern materials and technology, addressing a few “problems” they see with the classic 3-piece cobbler shaker.
Starting with the most obvious, Shaker 33 is not made from metal like the shakers you’re used to. It’s made from clear, black or frosted plastic, and I got the frosted one. I expected the shaker to feel like a plastic water bottle, but the sides are much thicker and more rigid. The plastic is BPA free and shatterproof, though I wasn’t brave enough to drop mine to test it out.
Both the lid and the strainer of the 33 are twist-off designs, definitely easier than breaking the vacuum seal on a traditional shaker. Since you screw it on, the lid stays closed when you shake, or even if you drop the shaker. The volume of the shaker is much larger than I expected at 24 oz. Because of the thick plastic sides, this shaker never gets cold in your hand, either. The strainer cap (closeup in the photo above) is particularly useful in that it’s diameter is very large and is has two options for straining size.
Shaker 33 will run you $30, about twice as much as a comparable cobbler-style shaker. Though they show Shaker 33 in bars on their website videos, it’s unlikely these will replace tried-and-true Boston shakers at your favorite watering hole. It is a nice new option to have for home bartenders. It’s simple to learn to use, simple to clean and an interesting updated design of the classic cocktail shaker.
There is a wide variety of glassware in the world of spirits, beer and wine. Many of these have unique features and claims, and in the past, I’ve spent some time using a few of these glasses, from the Neat Glass to tulip-shaped stemmed glasses that whiskey is sometimes served in.
Recently, I had an opportunity to try another uniquely-featured tasting glass: the Peugeot Whisky Tasting Set, which is not only a glass, but a 3-piece set with the glassware, a coaster, and a metal plate that fits between the two to cool the liquid in the glass.
Much like the Whiskey Wedge, using the Peugeot set takes a little pre-planning because of the metal plate, which, depending on how cold you want your whiskey, you can refrigerate or freeze, or just leave it someplace cool (more on that in a moment).
At $40, this set is a gift-level item, and its usefulness depends on the way whiskey is sipped by the user. If you (or your recipient) like your whiskey chilled, with little to no water added, this is a beautiful and elegant glass. I tend to drink my scotch this way, and find the Peugeot set is pleasant to use, from the etched glass to the leather stitched coaster. I froze the plate and I like the way it cooled the whiskey through the glass, and not in it. Pitting this set against its biggest rival, whiskey stones, this allows you to sip without fear of an eventual boop in the nose from a stone, but the Peugeot is 2-4 times the cost of a set of stones. I did feel like this set chilled my whiskey more than a set of stones do, probably because metal gets colder than soapstone in the freezer.
The Peugeot Whisky Tasting Set is not particularly easy to find, though specialty glassware and kitchenware stores tend to be the best places to find it, and it is available at Amazon, too.