Friday, February 20, 2009

Your Attention Please!

Some bloggers link to every other related blog in the known universe. I'm a bit different in that I only link to blogs that I actually read. Its upset a few people when they have asked me to add a link to their blog and I've tried politely to say no. Today, I've added two new blogs, both under the bartender heading (even if Emma Davis is technically not a bartender), both of which I think are must reads.

First up, ”The Cocktail Guru” Jonathan Pogash is a friend of mine and brilliant mixologist. I was lucky enough to share a ride from Denver to Vail last year on the way to the Grand Marnier/Navan Mixology Summit. Jonathan is a real gentleman and one of the nicest people in the business. If you like cocktails, you simply must read Jonathan's blog.

Second, Emma Davis, one of my favorite people, has just started a cocktails, travel and Bikram yoga blog. I met Emma when she was associated with ”Martin Millers Gin”. Apparently she moved on to bigger and better things, but her blog is definitely worth a read.

I hope you enjoy them both. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What is a Collette Sling?

50 Plates should have our new cocktail list out sometime next week. Stop in and check out the Collette Sling (hint- its got maple syrup and its perfect for this time of year) and our other new and classic creations. I think this could be our best cocktail menu yet.

Sunday is National Magarita Day. I might get a post up about it this weekend (actually, if I do, I'll write it tonight and schedule it for Sunday), but if I don't, make sure to celebrate early and often on this important national occasion. When the fine people at Jose Cuervo sent me a press release about this, my first thought was that February was a bit of a strange time to schedule a margarita day (I mean, doesn't August seem like a better fit?), but then I realized that, at least in Oregon, what better thing to do on a cold and wet Sunday in February but sip a refreshing margarita and daydream of tropical locations? Anyway, I'll be drinking a few margaritas this Sunday and I'd suggest you do the same.

Also, Zwack is back. I'm eager to get my hands on some but I don't think that its made it into Oregon yet. Hopefully it comes in soon.

I'm taking a short vacation beginning tomorrow. I'm turning off the cell phone, staying away from the internet and forgetting about cocktails other than the ones I'll be drinking. Its my hope to be completely unreachable for a few days. A little peace and quiet should do me some good. I'll see you all when I get back.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mixology Monday- Hard Drinks for Hard Times- Beer and a Shot

This month's Mixology Monday is hosted by Matthew Rowley , who chose the theme of "Hard Drinks for Hard Times". I couldn't imagine that the American economy would tank like it has, or that we would roll back 30 years of progress in the name of "stimulus", but thanks to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid I think we might be screwed. We're nationalizing banking, there is talk of new WPA programs, and welfare reform, well, thats dead and gone. Being a capitalist with strong libertarian leanings, you could say that its dark days right now for me. If anyone needs a drink, its me every time I hear Chris Dodd open his mouth or watch the Republicans crumble and give up their core beliefs. Am I the only person that believes that government, the same people who brought you the department of motor vehicles and the IRS, is not our savior? Am I the only free market capitalist left? The old adage that "Everyone is a capitalist on the way up and a socialist on the way down" seems to be ringing true. I need a drink.

Timothy Leary talked about "set and setting" being important in his experiments with LSD. For this month's Mixology Monday, I think set and setting are vitally important to exploring this theme fully. As it is, you can readily gauge my state of mind, or "set", about the state of our nation from some of my comments above. Next, "setting" becomes important. Beers and shots hardly have the connotation of hard times if, for instance, you are knocking them down at Le Bernardin. In fact, for this exercise, only one type of watering hole is appropriate, a blues bar.

My favorite blues bar in the world is a little hole in the wall in Sacramento, California. Known from "Maine to Spain", the world famous Torch Club is a Sacramento institution. A hangout for politicians, boxers, ne'er do wells, musicians and bikers, the Torch is the kind of place that you go after a hard day to get a shot of whiskey served in a dirty glass and a beer back. I've spent many nights in the old Torch, one of my old mentors, Moose Morante was a legendary bartender there. You can always count on two things at the Torch, a good stiff drink and a great band. There is no better place in the world to be when you are down on your luck and times are tough.

Unfortunately, I don't live within driving distance of the Torch, so I had to make do. I had a tall boy of Miller High Life in the fridge, in better times it would be referred to as "cooking beer" in our house. The champagne of beers rarely makes it down my throat, but for this evening, I thought it was appropriate. Next up, unfortunately without the dirty glass, is a shot of vanilla infused Jack Daniel's. Why JD? Well, its the best selling spirit in the State of Oregon, and I got it for free. Why vanilla infused? Because I got a deal on vanilla beans from a spice shop that just closed down in this economy and I was looking to smooth the JD out a bit. The vanilla actually really works well with the whiskey, just rounding it out and providing a bit of vanilla on the back of the palate. It matches nicely with the cold High Life, enough so that for at least a few minutes, I'm not completely depressed about the state of our nation.

It might not solve my problems, but for a few minutes at least, a beer and a shot is exactly what I need during hard times.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

25 Random Things About Food, Cocktails, Wine and Me

In the same vein as the popular “25 Random Things About Me” trend, I decided to put things in focus a bit more and concentrate on the things that probably bring you here in the first place, food, cocktails and wine.

1.I love to try new things. If its eaten in some culture on planet earth, I'll give it a go. Stewed silkworm cocoons, live octopus tentacles, fried scorpion, its all gone into my mouth.
2. I rarely meet a meat is murder vegetarian that I like.
3. My favorite thing in the world is a lazy Sunday brunch with the NY Times, my girl and my dog. Not in that order.
4. I actually prefer wine to cocktails. Imagine that!
5. My mother is the best home cook I've ever seen or tasted. Luckily enough for me, my mother in law runs a very close second. I owe both women a lot for improving my palate.
6. I could never eat chicken again and not even notice. Except great fried chicken. I love world class fried chicken.
7. I have more bottles of hard liquor than should be allowed. Most of it ends up in the basement.
8. I despise commercial mayonnaise. Can't do it.
9. I hate the texture of dried coconut. Yuck.
10. I love me some red wine. Zin is my first love but I'm a sucker for vintage Bordeaux or a great Burgundy.
11. I've eaten at 3* Michelin restaurants in both the US and Europe. Too stuffy for me. I like to have more of a connection to a restaurant rather than have a team of servants.
12. Carmel is a place on the California coast. Caramel is a type of sweet.
13. I love charcuterie. And variety meats.
14. During the winter, nothing says comfort food to me more than braised meats.
15. I never imagined that someday I would have so many different salts. Hawaiian pink is probably my favorite.
16. I'm germ phobic, but only in the US. If I'm out of the country and someone is chopping meat on an old tree stump, I'm game.
17. I didn't begin drinking gin until I met my wife. I used to have a "gin face"
18.I don't chew gum. Ever. It annoys me.
19. I collect red wine. I've got stuff going back to the mid 1960s.
20. I'm hoping to make Beaker and Flask my last position where I work as an employee. I'm getting to the point that I want my own place. Beaker is going to be special though.
21. Bartending should be fun. I can't stand it when people take the joy out of such a great job. Why look constipated behind the bar? Life is too short.
22. I can't bake to save my life. Seriously.
23. If I got to choose my last meal, I would dine at Chez Panisse.
24. I used to like microbrews, but since I hit my 30s, I'm really a sucker for a decent lager. Sapporo may be my favorite beer.
25. "Cocktail" is the worst movie ever made. Period.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Update

Random thoughts and observations on a rather slow Friday

- I usually blog using a Mac G4 , as I'm a huge Mac fan and its a great machine. However, with some new writing possibilities coming up in the future, I've been looking for something light and portable for blogging and surfing only. This weekend, my friend Lee loaned me his MSI Wind Netbook , which runs Windows, Linux and can run as a Hackintosh. I'm going to be trying it out during the next few weeks and I'll let you know what I think.

- The other night, my wife and I ate dinner with Jake Grier over at Ned Ludd for the second time. I had a great cockscomb terrine, probably the most interesting terrine I've ever had. They have a great beer and wine selection (not a large selection, but well thought out and interesting). Now if they just let Suzanne Allard work her magic with a cocktail program, the place could be stunning. As it is though, it and Lincoln are my two favorite places to eat in NE.

- I applied for a position as a west coast brand ambassador for a company today. I actually didn't think I stood a chance, but I got a call back 20 minutes after applying. Then I realized that they wanted me to relocate. Umm, no. I love Portland and I'm not leaving this town. So I withdrew. Great company, great brand, great opportunity. Someone is going to get a wonderful job but it won't be me. How come liquor companies don't look to more Pacific NW bartenders for brand ambassadorships? Perhaps we are too independent.

- Paul Clarke wrote an excellent article for the NY Times on why he drinks. Its wonderfully written and well said.

- Fantinel , the Italian winemaker, rung the bell to start the NASDAQ trading day yesterday. They are donating 25% off all the profits off of their new merlot offering to a UN program to fight hunger. Its nice to see some companies doing good things even in hard times.

- Moet has a cool idea for Valentines going on over at . You can get custom messages imprinted in crystal on bottles of Moet for your loved ones. Cool idea.

- We added a number of new products to the back bar at 50 Plates recently. Hennessy XO cognac, Ardbeg single malt scotch, a couple of different finishes (port, sherry and sauternes) from Glenmorangie and more. Fun stuff, make sure you stop in and try them.

- Lastly, I'm dying to taste the new Glenmorangie Signet . While I've always been a whiskey guy, Scotch whisky has been the final frontier for me, and I'm falling in love.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Product Review- Partida Anejo Tequila

What can I say about Partida tequila that hasn't already been said? Paul Pacult gave the line 5 stars across the board when Partida came out, the only tequila to ever achieve that feat. I've tasted the blanco, reposado and, now, the anejo, and I have to say that they are all some of the finest spirits that I have personally tasted. I have yet to sample the Partida Elegante , billed as "extra anejo" and at the $350 price point, its probably out of my league for now.

Back to the anejo though, because thats what I'm here to discuss. The first thing I noticed about this tequila is its rich bronze coloring. By law, anejo tequilas age at least one year. Partida likes to use once used Jack Daniel's barrels for their anejo, and you can tell by the warm color that its been laid down for some time (18 months actually). Next, the bouquet, something I don't usually like in tequilas, is exceptionally nice. There is a soft oakiness up front, followed by subtle hints of vanilla and honeysuckle with just a hint of green chili pepper lurking underneath. It makes for a heady aroma, and my mouth started watering in anticipation of the flavors to come. Luckily for me, the Partida anejo didn't disappoint. Opening up with a certain earthiness on the palate, it follows with some big vanilla and caramel notes. After the vanilla and caramel begin to fade, a slight whisky flavor emerges, only to be replaced by some citrus and smoke notes. Finally, hints of agave sweetness begin to appear, providing a nice counterbalance to the smokiness. There is a bit of an alcohol bite to this, but I like a bit of sharpness to my tequilas so I really enjoyed tasting the alcohol. The finish is moderate, with more smoke, and some dried fruit on the back end. This is a very well made tequila and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm now really intrigued by the Partida Elegante as I'd like to see what this tequila does with a few more years in oak.

Highly Recommended

While I don't usually mix with anejo tequilas, this is a fun and interesting cocktail that highlights Partida Anejo's best qualities. I might suggest making this delicious flip for your special tequila afficionado this Valentines Day.

Partida Anejo Flip
2 oz Partida Anejo tequila
3 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 egg
cinnamon and nutmeg to dust

Place all ingredients (except cinnamon and nutmeg) in a mixing pint. Add ice, shake vigorously and strain into a wine glass. Dust with cinnamon and nutmeg and serve.