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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

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 14, 2010 1 comment

WHAM. The Big Chicken

Everyone loves a good shot. It’s like pressing the nitro button on a party. Everyone is standing around chatting, maybe telling a few jokes, and then WHAAAM. The next thing you know, your friend Trevor is on the dance floor dressed like a big chicken, you have three new text messages from that guy you met last week at TGI Fridays and all the money has vanished from your wallet like Harry Houdini.

As a bartender, I find that people continually want shots but have no idea what to order. So I thought that this week I would give y’all a quick breakdown on my shot philosophy and offer you three easy and delicious choices for you and your friends that you haven’t already tried a million times.

I’m a little fruity. I’m not in the “no pain, no game” school of thought when it comes to shots. I want it to be a delicious compliment that instantly makes me better looking and more daring. One time, a guy ordered a shot Jack Daniel’s from me and immediately dropped to one knee and proposed to his smoking hot girlfriend (She said yes). We all want that experience every time we order a shot but without the baggage.

Stolichnaya, or “Stoli” vodka, has an amazing lineup of flavored vodkas for any wonderful selection of shooters. They also have a great website with a bunch of quality drink recipes. It’s not super cheap, but it won’t destroy your bank account either. Anyway, your friends are worth it; especially if I’m one of your friends.  So without further adieu:

The 007:

In Barkeep Speak (hey, that rhymes), this one stands for Stoli O, Orange Juice, and 7-up. It’s smooth and citrusy and kind of reminds you of breakfast. It’s a fairly well known shot, so most bartenders should know it.

The German Chocolate Cake:

This one is my buddy Griffin’s go-to shot when he’s behind the bar. You take Stoli Citros and Frangelico, shake it up, and put it in a cup. Don’t be alarmed when it looks nothing like chocolate cake or a German.

And last but certainly not least,

The Jaclyn Juice:

When not making her famous shot, Jaclyn enjoys a nice, cold Smirnoff Ice

This shot has a special place in my heart and it’s really, really tasty.  This is a custom shot my friend and expert bartender, Jaclyn, crafted on Hilton Head Island. In light of that, it’s tough to order around here but you should still try to.

  • 3 parts Captain Morgan
  • 1 part Peach Schnapps
  • Splash of cranberry, splash of oj
  • Shake the hell out of it and pour it into a couple cups

Trust me. Would this bartender do you wrong?

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

Cocktails with the Captain

June 30, 2010 1 comment

Mmmmm bacon...

“Among the smoothest vodkas I have ever had with absolutely no bite… It gave the drink a hint of smokiness and of course a subtle bacon flavor that really, really worked well.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt (Or Food & Beverage World, depending on who you ask.)

Nine out of ten people agree that I am on the cutting edge of pop culture. Ever since I was featured on the cover of Tiger Beat back in December of ’97, people from Flagstaff, AZ all the way to Concord, NH have relied on me – NO, depended on me – to deliver the goods on the hottest new music, fashion trends, dance styles, and most of all, sophisticated and innovative liquors.

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce you to the newest, hottest craze that is taking the wine and spirits market by storm: Bakon Vodka from Black Rock Spirits. I’m serious y’all, this thing is hotter than Tickle-Me-Elmo; 21,610 Facebook Fans can’t be wrong.

Black Rock Spirits boasts that their product is “a superior quality potato vodka with a savory bacon flavor.” And that “it’s clean, crisp, and delicious. This is the only vodka you’ll ever want to use to make a Bloody Mary.” Other bloggers suggest it be served as a fun novelty shot for you and your friends on a wild night out. Personally, I can imagine pairing it with pineapple juice for the perfect Hawaiian Luau libation. Mmmmm.

An oh-so-good Bakon Bloody Mary.

I think the real fascination here lies in the philosophical issues surrounding this product: Can Kosher Jews enjoy it?  Does a hangover from Bakon Vodka resemble the swine flu? What else could you pair with Bacon flavored vodka? And, is this just the beginning of an unstoppable carnivorous spirit movement in the United States?

We want to hear what you think. Please help us extrapolate the answers to these spellbinding questions by using the comment section in this blog.

And in case you were not already aware, I really do love bacon.

Until next week, enjoy the bacon.

Cocktails with the Captain.

June 23, 2010 1 comment

Blue Weber Agave. It looks so innocent.

From time to time, Cocktail Fodder will present to you a guest author. Someone with a different voice, viewpoint or expertise to keep things fresh and give you a break from your beloved bloggers. “Cocktails with the Captain” will be a weekly segment presenting you with an assortment of new cocktail recipes. Written by our resident renaissance man, bartender, good Samaritan, liquor aficionado and Gamecock – Captain Adam’s recipes will satisfy your happy hour cravings. So without further adieu…

As a neighborhood bartender, I find that people are always coming to me for personal advice. I constantly hear things like, “Hey Adam, how do I ask my guy friend to go camping with me without it being creepy?” “Hey Adam, how can I tell if that cute girl in the office really likes me or if she’s just using me to get to you?” “Hey Adam, what’s an easy and unique cocktail I can serve at my summer cookout to impress all of my friends?”

The answer to all these questions, my friends, can be derived from my favorite tequila product on the market, Don Julio Reposado.

This is the real deal y’all. Don Julio Reposado is 100% Blue Weber Agave, double distilled, and rested in charred oak bourbon barrels (my all time favorite kind of barrel) for up to 11 months. You can find it at most liquor stores for about $45 for a standard 750ml sized bottle – absolutely worth it on a special night for you and your friends. Though it is smooth enough to drink directly on the rocks and certainly makes a delicious margarita, I have become a huge advocate of the Don Julio Reposado Paloma. This cocktail pairs the citrus notes of the Reposado tequila with natural grapefruit juice, a touch of tonic and a generous wedge of lime, making it a perfect go-to refreshment on a hot summer’s day. Here is a simple recipe I managed to get from the Don Julio website for your enjoyment. And, as far as the cute girl in the office goes… she’s probably just using you to get to me. Enjoy!

Reposado Paloma

– 1 ounce Don Julio Reposado

– 2 ounces Grapefruit juice

– 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier Liquer (optional)

– Top with tonic water

– Build in a Collins glass floating the Grand Marnier on top. Garnish with a lime.