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Cocktails with the Captain

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Art inspiring vice or vice inspiring art?

There’s nothing quite like loading up on some whiskey and then making big decisions. When trying to decide the content for this edition of Cocktails with the Captain, I took a couple pulls of my favorite whiskey out of the ole hip flask, sat down at the keyboard and let the words flow. After all, as the legend John Barrymore once said of his work, “There are lots of methods. Mine involves a lot of talent, a glass and some cracked ice.” Sure enough, a few moments later, fire went from the back of my throat, down to my belly and then shot out of my fingertips in a blaze of literary genius. You’re welcome.

John Barrymore and I are in good company: Earnest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson, John Cheever, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner, (My editor hates that I just put a comma here and I love to push his buttons so I use it every time. Suck it editor!) and James Joyce were all known to drink for and because of artistic inspiration. You can’t deny the genius in any of them… or me. Obviously, I find myself fascinated with the relationship between art and vice and art inspired by vice. So, in this week’s Cocktails with the Captain, rather than laying out some recipes, I ultimately decided to highlight a gallery of some amazing alcohol inspired artwork.

Glenfiddich Scotch Whiskey, one of the World’s most famous Scotch Whiskies since 1887, sponsors a “barrel art” competition each year that has produced some fantastic sculptures. In 2008, Glenfiddich Whisky approached Michael Johnson, of the London-based design consultancy group Johnson Banks, to interpret the length of time it takes for Glenfiddich single malt whisky to mature in barrels. Currently, Glenfiddich is bottled at ages of 12, 15, 18, 21 and 30 years old. Johnson focused on the ‘jobs’ that each part of the barrel have to do over the different lengths of time the company’s five different whiskies take to mature. I hope you find his results in these whiskey inspired galleries to be as amazing as I did. Enjoy.

http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10/view/4606/glenfiddich-barrel-art-by-johnson-banks.html

And one more…

http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/johnson-banks-glenfiddich-barrel-art

Cocktails with the Captain

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Ok, this post is a bit of a misnomer. I’m not Captain Adam and I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of cocktail recipes. I do love America and Billy Preston, though, so I’m qualified to tell you that the Captain is ecstatic to be back! Out of commission this week due to a breakneck work schedule (“Tell them I had to drink beer with some very important people today.”), his syndicated column will be back, touching lives everywhere next Wednesday.

 

It's nice.

 

I don’t want to give away too much and burst the Captain’s triumphant return so I will keep this short and sweet. He’s back and funnier than ever. So don’t worry, you’ll have two recipes (or at least recommendations!) before you and your friends use Halloween as an excuse to get wasted! And dress provocatively. You know it’s going to happen.

I’ll leave you with his only words of the week:

“Cocktail Fodder, South Carolina football and craft beer… that’s what makes America great!”

Cocktails with the Captain

July 21, 2010 1 comment

Saranac Adirondack Lager - Pick some up.

From time to time, a man has to stand up for what he believes in regardless of the consequences. Damn the Man. Fuck the draft. Screw you editor. We don’t need no stinking patches. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen… I’m going rogue. In this week’s edition of Cocktails with the Captain, I’d like to take some time to talk about my first love, beer (sorry smoking-hot girlfriend), and highlight two of my favorite microbreweries on the East Coast.

The third most consumed drink worldwide, next to tea and water, has been around for a very a long time. As the story goes, some ancient Sumerian brahs living in Mesopotamia said some prayers to Ninkasi, the Goddess of Beer (super-hot for sure), that not only thanked her for her amazing gift but also helped them remember the recipe. Way to go guys.

Just a few years later, I started my own experiments with beer at the ripe age of 21 (19)… (ok 17)… (…16). There were lagers and ales, pilsners and porters, blondes and redheads: I tried them all. As the craft brew revolution began and exploded into the new millenium, the rest of America tried them all too.

SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. It's good stuff.

My personal philosophy when it comes to beer is that sometimes good things can be hard to find. My two favorite microbreweries are continuing to grow but have not yet gained full exposure. In total, beers sales in America were down by over five million barrels in the last year. Despite this, small brewies experienced  a 7.2% volume increase in sales.

The Saranac brewery, technically the F.X. Matt Brewing Company, nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in Utica, NY, is the fourth oldest family owned brewery in the United States; it is ranked as the 7th largest craft brewing company in the US (or the 15th largest overall) based upon 2008 beer sales volume. You’ve probably seen their Pale Ale. (It almost won the Washington Post’s March Madness Beer Bracket.) But, my personal favorite (perhaps of all time), the Adirondack Lager – a German-style amber lager – was named named the Top Premium Lager by the Great American Beer Festival back in ’91. You should buy some.

The SweetWater Brewing Company was founded in 1997 and quickly made a name for itself in the American brewing scene. By 2002, it had been voted the Best Small Brewery of the Year and awarded Brewmaster of the Year by the Great American Beer Festival. Based in Atlanta, it is largely distributed throughout the Southeast. Their flagship beer – SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale, a West Coast style pale ale – is also my favorite. You should really buy some the second you cross over the Mason-Dixon Line. It’s real good y’all.

(My editor thought I had finally gone an entire post without saying y’all… sucker).

Cocktails with the Captain

July 7, 2010 2 comments

I freaking love America. Everyone knows that. Everyone.  I’m the guy that celebrated the 4th of July when I was studying abroad in London, England… in October. I own multiple pairs of American Flag Chuck Taylor high tops (true) and the Star Spangled banner is the current ringtone on my cellular phone (not so true). When I make my smoking-hot girlfriend breakfast in bed, which I do all the time, she gets a a big ole stack of freedom toast and washes it down with some freedom vanilla coffee.

America!

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I am refusing to pour any White Russians to my customers because of those Commie spies we busted last week. Yes, you heard me correctly: I am boycotting the White Russian, that seemingly harmless yet deadly mixture of vodka, Kaluha and milk. I’m serious. I caught my friend Kelly drinking one and I literally threw her cat out of a fourth story window because of it. Take that you Soviets.

You know what I am pouring everyone instead? Liberty and Justice – thats right, pure Kentucky Bourbon and ginger ale.

Here’s a little piece of sweet, sweet American history for all of you: in 1964, the United States Congress passed one of the most historical and important pieces of legislation in all of American history. No, I’m not talking about the Civil Rights Act; I’m talking about the The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (5.22). It officially recognized bourbon as a “distinct product of the United States.” Truly historical. So when people ask me, what makes a bourbon a bourbon? I tell them what congress told me back in ’64:

  • Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
  • Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume).
  • Neither coloring nor flavor may be added.
  • Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels (THE barrel, in my opinion).
  • Bourbon must enter into the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume).
  • Bourbon, like other whiskeys, may not be bottled at less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).
  • Bourbon that meets the above requirements and has been aged for at least two years may be called (but is not required to be) Straight Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon, aged for a period of less than four years, must be labeled with the duration of its aging.
  • If age is stated on the label, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.

I know what you’re thinking: “Adam, all this sounds pretty intimidating….” That’s OK. You’re allowed to be scared. George Washington, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin and Shaun White were all a little scared… but they pushed their fears aside and persevered. That’s all I’m asking you to do. Persevere and taste that sweet cocktail incarnation of liberty and justice.

I realize bourbon and ginger ale isn’t for anyone (just heroes and winners), so I’m including the recipe for something a little more user friendly: the All-American Peach Iced Tea Shot. Enjoy, and remember, it’s AmeriCAN not AmeriCAN’T.

The All-American Peach Iced Tea Shot:

  • 3 parts Jim Beam black
  • 1 part Peach Schnapps
  • Top with Redbull