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 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?
Beer is meant to stand on its own. Whether it's ice cold or cellar temp, from a draft or a bottle (or, gah, cans), in a frosty mug or a fancy snifter, it doesn't ask to play well with others. It's not an ingredient, but a finished product.
Except, it does work well in cocktails. "Beer has taken on a new and nuanced role in many
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."
I'm the only person with whom I regularly dine who likes to use straws. None of my friends, family, or other associates ever reach for that brilliant scientific breakthrough that is the drinking straw. I mean, it's less work, and when you're done, you get a perfect, ice-free mouth fulla beverage. But, at least it means I've gotten really really good at that blow-air-in-your-straw-and-wrap-it-around-your-fingers-then-have-your-friend-flick-it-til-it-pops-game.
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.
The liquor store is not the place to be showing off fancy design work. I'm pretty sure that you could put an Eames lounge, Frank Gehry builiding, and the Mona Lisa in my neighborhood carryout, and I'd find them as dingy as can be.
BUT! Lurking between the boxes of wine and the 99 bottle opener end caps, you can actually find some pretty amazing product design.
There aren't many produce items to get excited about during the winter. Fresh corn is nowhere to be found, the tomatoes are abysmal, no spring freshness or autumnal earthiness. Just citrus shipped in from around the world, and a few pears.
Oh, but then there are pomegranates. Though they've certainly risen in trendiness the last few years, don't be fooled. They're truly a special fruit, and whether or not Oprah thinks they're cool, they're delicious and pretty versatile.
Sugar plums... Figgy pudding... A Dickens goose...
We all know these things exist, and have something to do with Christmas, but in the days of multl-flavored candy canes, pre-cooked hams, and eggnog from a carton, their actual meaning is beyond most contemporary celebrations. But we can guess a bit: we know sugar and plums, figs and pudding, geese.
But no old-school, carol-inspired foodstuff is more perplexing than that we know from:
Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green;Here we come a-wand'ring, so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too;And God bless you and send you a Happy New YearAnd God send you a Happy New Year.
So, WTF is wassail, and why would you ever want to make it? Well, here's a hint: it's beer! AND wine!