Monday, July 13, 2009


Looking back, last week was a pretty interesting week. My time at Beaker and Flask seemed to just rush by, and the more time that I spend there the more I realize just how lucky I am to be working with such great people. If you haven't stopped in yet, I'm there Mondays and Tuesdays at 727 SE Washington (the corner of 7th and Sandy).

In other news, I'm no longer with 50 Plates. I truly enjoyed my time there and I'm really going to miss that barstaff, but when Andrew Finkelman moved on, I think it signaled a different direction in the bar program. It was actually rather nice to have a rare weekend off to myself, and now I'm well rested and ready for a busy night at Beaker. I wish the whole team at 50 Plates continued success and I'll probably still be in that bar quite a bit, but as a patron rather than a bartender.

Finally, I'm rather excited to announce that I'm actually going to have the opportunity to work with my good friend Andrew Finkelman again, at his new venture, Branch. Branch is going in where the Alberta Street Oyster Bar used to be and is going to be a "whiskey tavern" for lack of a better description. Given Andrew's knowledge and love for whiskey, this is going to be a fun adventure for me and I'm really looking forward to being an all-East side bartender. I'm not sure about what nights I'll be there, and to be honest, I'm only going to be playing a minor supporting role to Andrew behind the bar, but its an exciting opportunity nonetheless. Look for it to open in the very near future.

Today, I was walking my dog Huck, and I wandered past the old Bodega space at 1325 NE Fremont. There is an OLCC posting in the window for "Free House Bar Llc". My curiosity is piqued, and I could really use a decent bar within walking distance of my house. As it is, all of my current options are either sans hard liquor (County Cork) or really bad. I always liked the Bodega space and hope that this new place does well.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Quick Update

Sorry for the delay in posting. Beaker and Flask is now up and running, and thats definitely impacted my writing schedule somewhat. I do have to say that I am incredibly lucky to be working with Kevin Ludwig, Tim Davey, Elizabeth Markham and Doug Paquin behind the bar and Ben Bettinger in the kitchen. Its humbling to work with so much talent, and not only are they all great restaurant people, they are great people as well. If you haven't been in yet stop in soon and say hi.

In other news;

I'm working on some beer based cocktails for Beaker. One thought is to cocktailize (is that a word?) one of my favorite drinks in Mexico, the Michelada. Right now, I'm infusing some chipotle peppers into 1800 Silver Select Tequila to use as a base. It should be ready in a day or two.

I'm falling madly in love with Laphroaig. Now that I've tasted my way through the 10 year, 15 year, Quarter Cask and 25 year offerings, I think top to bottom that this might be the strongest offering of single malts by any one distillery. All are delicious, but what is really interesting to me is that each offering is definitely Laphroaig but has a unique character all its own. I hate to pick my favorite, but the Quarter Cask is the one I'm really into for the moment. I'll be putting up the results of the side by side tasting that my research assistant (and favorite father in law) Wayne and I did soon. Oh, and the 25 year Laphroaig is simply amazing. If you get a chance to taste the 25, don't pass it up.

In the past, if you'd asked me my favorite Highland malt, I might have told you Highland Park. Its always a tough decision, and there are so many great Highland malts that choosing one might be a bit ridiculous anyway, but now I've sampled Ardmore and its a big, smoky, well balanced single malt that will always have a spot in my liquor cabinet. Speaking of my liquor cabinet, things are running almost exclusively to brown liquors these days. I still have a bit of gin, but I'm acquiring bourbons, scotch, rye, rums and tequilas at a much faster pace.

I also have recently acquired some Balblair. I'm quite excited about trying this single malt, but probably won't get the opportunity until Sunday. As it is, I'm a big fan of everything that I've had from Gordon and Macphail so I'm looking forward to this offering.

I've got quite a bit on rum coming soon too. I recently tasted the Tommy Bahama lineup. I liked the White Sun as a mixed drink (I was fond of it and ginger ale) and the Golden Sun is also on the market.

I recently received two minis of Mt. Gay Extra Old rum. To be honest, when I review a product, I find it a bit hard to review a small sample as I like to drink a product neat, on the rocks, mix it in cocktails, etc. That said, I really got into the Mt. Gay Extra Old rum, to the point where I went out and purchased a full bottle the same day. I really enjoy it neat, but it mixes well and its a great value for the quality of the rum you get. This is clearly one of the best rums on the market and the entire Mount Gay lineup is an excellent choice for your summertime rum drinks.

Also quite enjoyable is Cruzan Rum. From St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Cruzan range offers up everything from an aged white rum to single barrel offerings to their unique Blackstrap rum which we feature in one of Beaker's current cocktails, the Boston Massacre. I think its the 5 column distillation that makes these rums so unique and flavorful. The Cruzan range of rums may be the best value on the market for in terms of cost to quality and the entire range of Cruzan rums are excellent.

Most recently, I've discovered Ron Abuelo Anejo rum. While Mount Gay is a Barbados rum, Ron Abuelo is made in Panama and its a mellow, smooth rum that both mixes well and works quite well sipped on its own. I'm quite eager to try some of the other offerings from Ron Abuelo including their 7 Anos, Seco Herranao and Rum Jumbie.

Lastly, Tim Davey at Beaker has turned me on to Flor De Cana's 4 year Extra Dry rum, an amazing Nicaraguan product that has a very pronounced vanilla and caramel profile. We feature it in some of our signature rum drinks at Beaker and I'm consistently amazed at how well it mixes.

Well, I've written a bit more than I intended but I guess that's better than nothing. Hang in there with me because I have a lot coming over the next few weeks.