Friday, January 9, 2009

Random Musings and Observations

I know, I know, I've taken a bit of time off of updating this thing. I got caught in the avalanche of the holidays and just didn't have time (nor the inclination) to write for a bit. For those of you who don't know, I also blog over at, an international website for bartenders so you can always check me out there too.

You might notice some changes to the site. More are coming (in fact, I'm really thinking of getting my own domain), but you might have noticed the banner on the left side. I'm now a "Featured Publisher" over there and I'm very happy to be a part of their community. This year, I'd like to expand my blogs scope beyond just cocktails and cover more food and wine related issues as well. After all, I am a failed chef. Its how I moved behind the bar and my first love has always been cooking. While I might not be good enough to run my own kitchen, I do ok at home and I'd love to share more about that on this blog. Since I'm talking about anyway, I thought I'd mention that they sent me some of the coolest business cards that I've seen. They are little half cards from, and they feature cool pics of food items on the back. I'm really delighted to have them and I can't wait to pass them out.

I'm hoping to have a big announcement soon, probably this month. I can't say anything other than the words "whisk(e)y" and "writer". I will say that I'm happy just to be considered.

Speaking of whiskey, I am sure that I'm not the only one chomping at the bit to try the new Lucky Tiger single barrel release. I just have to hold on to Monday but I am very excited to see things like this happening in Portland right now.

On to rye whiskey. My friend, and the bassist for the best country band in the US, Whiskey Dawn,Steve Mendiola, has been raving about Beam's new Ri(1), a superpremium rye whiskey not available in Oregon yet (sigh, being a control state, we're always last). Still, if Steve says this is good, I'm very interested in trying it. I might have to buy a bottle off the net soon.

Our sous chef at 50 Plates, Joel, came in with some really nice dutch genever the other night. I need to find my tasting notes and I'll get a review up. Good stuff.

I got a great deal on some vanilla beans the other day (good Madagascar ones), so I've done a vanilla bean infused Leblon cachaca and a bottle of Jack Daniels as well. I've got to say, the vanilla Leblon and soda is a nice drink. Simple,elegant and tasty. I like Leblon quite a bit and this has been a fun way to explore the spirit in a different way. My wife, well, she is a JD sour girl most of the time, and the vanilla infusion gives her a different way to enjoy her favorite cocktail, or smoothes the JD out enough for her to mix a JD and coke. Not my most creative stuff, but fun nonetheless.

Lastly, two important things that I just want to say about spirits and cocktails-

First, price is not an indicator of quality. It may be that price is more likely to be an indicator with aged spirits, but one of my favorite things to pour here in Oregon costs $14 a bottle retail and is a beautiful spirit. I've also had bottles that run $50+ that are, at best, average. Drink the spirits and cocktails that you like because you like the product, not because its expensive.

Second, please don't be a cocktail snob. Really. Its just a drink. Its not brain surgery or nuclear fission, its just a cocktail. There is no need to take this stuff so seriously. I mean, have fun with it. I love crafting cocktails and I enjoy having enthusiasts at my bar, but please don't sneer if the person next to you orders a lemondrop. Each person has their own tastes and makes their own journey down this path. Not all of us reach the same point and its just as ok to order a lemondrop in my bar than it is to order a negroni. Lets not turn this into wine. Cocktails give me great joy because I get a chance to take care of my guests and meet his or hers individual needs. And ultimately, remember why we're all here. For a nice drink right? Nothing more, nothing else. Be enthusiastic and passionate, but don't close the door for others by being a snob. Otherwise, I'll have to regale you with tales of my misspent youth drinking green MadDog 20/20 and Sunny Delight or tell you stories about all the Hennessy Separators that I have consumed.

Thanks for reading. Look for more posts soon.


Crash said...

Lance - with regards to Rye 1, I strongly suggest that you try it in a bar before buying it.

It has NO finish.

It is WAY too expensive for what it is, and it is not a product aimed at whiskey enthusiasts. Rather, this is aimed at non-traditional rye drinkers, who are more easily swayed by the looks of the bottle (notice that Beam used a vodka-style bottle rather than any kind of traditional whiskey bottle for this? And why, you ask? So it won't scare people off and because it looks pretty on a bar back) as well as more easily swayed by price ("$50/bottle? Hell, it MUST be good!") These are the same consumers who believe that the more expensive a vodka is, the better it must be.

If you try it in a bar and still like it, fine, but I've met too many people who've purchased a bottle of Rye 1 and then experienced buyer's remorse.

Just look at the lineup of great rye whiskey that you can get for much less money: Sazerac, Wild Turkey "Russell's Reserve" 10-yr, Rittenhouse bond.

Caveat emptor has never been more à propos ;-)

Jeff Frane said...

Ah, Crash, if only we could get Russell's Rye. Still have yet to see it in Oregon -- although Four Roses has finally appeared (yellow label and small batch).

Julie said...

Hi Lance - My name is Julie and our PR team represents the new (ri)1. We appreciate your interest and Crash's candid feedback. Please know that the brand team frequently reads blogs such as yours and takes the opinion of the online community seriously in the ongoing process of building brands people want to talk about.

Rye is an expensive grain to distill, and even more costly when distilled well. The light, spicy flavors in (ri)1 ensure a smart investment for a better tasting cocktail. (ri)1 competes in the super/ultra-premium spirits category as a distinct, premium alternative to bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila or rum.

I'd love to send you a sample so that you can experience (ri)1 firsthand. Feel free to contact me at if you're interested.

Cheers ~ Julie

Jeff Frane said...

Ow, Lance. I see I need to start mentioning more liquor by brand name on my blog so people start sending samples. And me a rye lover.

Jeff Frane said...

I should note that the OLCC is listing (ri) 1 as "limited" ($49.95); no idea who might carry it, but Moreland is always a good bet.

Then again, they don't list Four Roses at all. The OLCC confuses the hell out of me.

Sam Harrigan said...

I like the idea of Leblon infused with vanilla bean. You'll have to share a cocktail recipe once you've had a chance to work with it.

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