I love a seasonal beer. My first question upon sitting down at any pub or restaurant is always, "What are your current seasonals on tap." Often, it's the only way to try something new in all but the most beer-centric of establishments.
Well, except for the winter. I'll try nearly anything in the fall, do my best to get in all the summer seasonals I can, but until a few years ago, I tended to stick with the year-round standards. Perhaps its just cause it's twenty degrees out, but I tend to find most Christmas-y beers a bit too...Christmas-y. First, nearly all winter seasonals are ales (as that's when those yeasts could traditionally ferment), and most American microbrews really, really pile on the hops, which I find to be unbalanced. And secondly, "Christmas ales" are seriously spiced, like a cookie, and I tend to appreciate a beer that tastes like beer, not gingerbread.
Like Bit-O-Honey around Halloween and Peeps on Easter, egg nog is the polarizing treat of the winter holiday season. People that like it like it, but people that hate it...well, hate it.
And for the first twenty-seven years of my life, I was one of 'em. A most hating of haters. Even the smell of egg nog was enough to shrink my Christmas spirits to three sizes too small.
But then I realized:
Originaly, the "shot glass" was a measuring device - a means to figure out a 1.5 oz. serving of a spirit. Nowadays, it's been reduced to a cheesy collectible, or worse, a tacky means of throwing down liquor way faster than necessary.
But that's not the shot glass's fault. Sipping 1.5 oz of a single spirit is a great way to learn about its flavor, aroma, and complexities. Especially if the glass contributes to the experience. So, bring back the shot glass. And, while you're at it, why not make it edible?
Drinkify is new web app that makes a cocktail suggestion based on what music your listening to. Simply type in the artist currently cruising out of your speakers, and press "what should I drink?" (in lovely Futura), and it'll pull up the perfect drink to match.
Knowing the basic recipes for a few classic cocktails, and the proper way to shake or stir them up, is a classic guy skill. But they rely, of course, on a first step: having the proper home bar staples around so you can show off your cocktail-making skills whenever you have guests over.
There's a familiar song and dance to tasting wine: swirl the glass, stick your nose all in it, slurp it so it sprays into your mouth. But, other drinks can be equally complex, and also deserve an appraisal technique to get the most out of your experience. We've covered the five-steps towards fully experiencing your beer, and today, we're looking at the best way to taste a fine whiskey, be it bourbon, Scotch, or rye.
The newest offering from the clever artists at Pop Chart Labs is worthy of a toast, indeed.
Includes not only 89 varieties of beer, but more than 200 recommended and representative brews so you actually know what and how to taste them. Add in a dozen glassware suggestions, and you've got six square feet of beer-soaked goodness.
The Bloody Mary.
While it certainly has its share of key ingredients: tomato juice, vodka, horseradish, Worcestershire, it's also somewhat of open canvas on which to cast all sorts of flavors. Do you like some briny olives or pickled peppers in yours? How about some fresh lemon? Do you opt for hot sauce or a few twists of black pepper? Does the celery flavor come from a fresh stalk, celery salt, or both?
But, mainly, when you get right down to it: why doesn't your Bloody Mary have a bacon swizzle stick? I mean, think about it: bacon and tomato are classic. Bacon and vodka have to be good together. And all those salty, savory umami flavors are a perfect match.
So, let's make one. Shall we?
I'll admit, I've never seen (or heard of) the BBC series The Prisoner that inspired this fun, easy how-to project, but I don't care. Etching "You Have Just Been Poisoned" on the bottom of a glass is straight clever, and would make an awesome gift for anyone.
Whenever I'm out and about, and opt to have a beer, my go-to move is to ask, "What are your seasonals." They way I figure it, the independent and micro breweries that craft seasonal beers do this as their profession. It's their job to match the flavors and textures of beer to those of the season - the weather, the ingredients available, the kind of food we eat. And while I have a few year-round staples, I've found I always get what I want by inquiring re: seasonals.
Webecoist sez, "Got a recycling bin full of glass bottles? Why waste them when you could have a new table lamp, candle holder, shelving unit, hummingbird feeder – even a house? Reuse beer, wine and liquor bottles for these 13 fun and creative crafts and projects for the home and garden."
In my neighborhood, spring keeps trying to push through, but all the rain keeps things cold and blustery. But that's no matter, cause I'm ready to pretend that it's fresh and bright outside even if the weather doesn't cooperate.
So, this weekend, I'm shaking up the Coriander Mule, a tasty, lime, cilantro, and ginger cocktail
It's no surprise that there's a healthy bit of finesse into making a perfect cocktail - combining the spirits with balance, shaking or stirring with ice so the water dilutes it just enough, garnishing just so.
But, in the case of a drink with multiple ingredients and components, it turns out there's a bit of chemistry as well.
Neil Da Costa, an expert in chemical analysis of flavors at International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., reports, "Each of the main ingredients has been shown to contain many flavor components, thus indicating that a Bloody Mary cocktail flavor is a very complex blend of several hundreds of flavor compounds. These include semi- and non-volatile ingredients with chemesthetic effects such a heat, burn, sour, salty and umami."
When I first saw this recipe on @Leethal's tweet, I was a bit shocked, thinking "you can leave milk out for three weeks, mixed with bacteria and yeast-loving sugar, and still drink it?" I mean, I've made some overnight cultured creams and yogurts, but this seemed wild.
And then I thought about it a bit more, and realized that the vodka, even in equal parts to the nutrient rich, germ happy milk and sugar, must be bacteriostatic enough to prevent anything from growing in there. (You like that? Bacteriostatic? See?! I paid attention in high school.)
I dunno what it is...but I'll never get sick of these.
I guess I really like the idea of artwork that pulls double duty - adds color and style to your home, and teaches you something in the process. I don't often sit down with the world's best cocktail book and memorize recipes, but I would totally stop by while cleaning or running through my house and note, "So that's what's in an icepick." (Vodka and ice tea, garnish with lemon.)
This Sunday brings us the *hmphrl Academy Awards (it's eighty-something, right?), and again, they'll be a bunch of self-congratulation, and the best movie won't actually win Best Picture.
Which is tedious enough to make you want to drink...a film-inspired cocktail, that is.