Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Royal We

A few nights ago we spent about 4 hours creating baijiu cocktails. We as in the plural 'we' of 'Margarett and myself', rather than the singular 'we' of 'We Demand Obedience!'. It turns out 4 hours of baijiu cocktails takes us from an aperitif drink to awaken the palate before dinner all the way to something to clutch with while I lay on the floor and loudly moan until Margarett agrees to make me a quesadilla. The purpose of all this SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH was to select a cocktail to accompany Mar's upcoming piece on Vinn Distillery, a Portland distillery making a traditional rice spirit called Baijiu. If you aren't familiar with Baijiu stay tuned for a pedantic future update where I regurgitate 30 minutes of Wikipedia research in such a way as to make it seem like I've been drinking baijiu for years and am actually one of the world's premier experts on it.

Rice Baijiu seems to taste a fair bit like a Japanese Kome Shochu or Taiwanese Michiu, which makes sense because they are all similar things made in somewhat similar ways. Below are our tasting notes:

Mar - combines the vegetal qualities of tequila with the earthiness of sake. Notes of unsweetened chocolate, mushroom, black pepper, and rain-soaked soil are supported by a backbone of toasty brown rice and a slight sour-sweetness.
Me - tastes like vodka but like you are also licking an unwashed potato.

 I still had a bad cold at the time. It's not as off putting as that sounds, or maybe it is for some people. I don't care about those people. I don't actively wish for bad things to happen to them, but I hope they can't find true happiness.We liked it enough to make about 8 cocktails a piece.

Our Findings....
* If Hunger Level surpasses Fatal Hunger Threshold, Patient's death typically occurs within 1 22-min episode of 'How It's Made'

Also  we found that Vinn's baijiu works good-to-great in all vodka cocktails, but gets lost in the mix pretty easily. Like (some) grappa, it has a unique and distinctive taste but is subtle and seems to work best as a shot. At work people ask me all the time for good cocktails to make with grappa. It is a struggle because I desperately want them to buy it but I also think that a grappa cocktail is for someone with more money than taste. I imagine it is how Apple must feel when people say 'I like this iPhone, can you recommend any Swarovski Crystal studded cases?' The simultaneous urge to take their money but also beat them with a lead pipe to prevent them from befouling what you've created with their philistinism. Maybe that is more Steve Job's view than Apple. He seemed like a jerk. Also he is dead. Causation? Correlation? The facts are there, you decide. How about a drink?

  "Contents of a Human Stomach"

1 1/2 oz Vinn Baijiu
1 1/2 oz grapefruit juice
3/4 oz 1:1 simple syrup
1 diced vinegar pepper (hot)
2 oz sparkling water or wine

Rummage in the fridge for the oldest jar of hot peppers you can find. Have you located one that has been in there AND open for at least 6+ months? Is the package mostly illegibly foreign? Perfect. Eat a few to make sure they blazing hot. Your mouth should now be so numb you could drink 4 oz of house paint and think it tastes great. Stem and dice pepper and add to shaker. Add ice, Baijiu, grapefruit juice, simple syrup, shake. Add 2 oz champagne to glass and strain drink into it. Think ruefully about those hot peppers as they begin fomenting acidic despair in your empty, quesadilla-less stomach.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Power Of The Internet/MS Paint/A Couple Of Beers During Lunch

Torani used their marketing team to whip up a quick sample. We've got to wait on TBB approval for the new label, but expect to see this in stores in a couple of months.

And Another Thing...(Dead Horse)

Here is my artists rendering of the new Torani Amer label. Torani, I can't actually speak on the phone due to both water damage to my phone and crippling anxiety, but maybe text me and lets make this happen.

The Blind Evaluating The Deaf

In the last post, you might have spotted us using Torani Amer. In this post I will tell you more about it. If you noticed the constantly shifting pronouns used in this blog, it is because I don't have a good fix on the desired tone and also because the english language is very confusing after you spend most of the previous evening in a baijiu drinking contest. I like the phony imperial impression that using we gives everything. WE like that. It also makes it easier to envision myself as a roiling nimbus cloud of alcohol knowledge, rather than someone sitting in the a poorly furnished basement room typing on a computer in my underwear. WE are All Knowing and deserve Free liquor samples.

Torani Amer is an American replacement for Amer Picon, a French orange-flavored bitter liqueur called for in some classic cocktail recipes. Amer Picon hasn't been available for a long time in America DESPITE HAVING AMER RIGHT IN THE GODDAMN NAME. Additionally to not actually being available, now no one wants it because as time marched on the proof dropped and dropped, from nearly 80 proof down to something pathetic like 36 proof. Cue nerd carping that nothing is as good as it used to be. All of this history is sort of meaningless because I've we've never tried any version of Amer Picon. But I we DO have a bottle of Torani Amer...Let's Review.


1. It is dirt cheap. $11.99 for a 750 of 39% abv? Fine. All the cocktail cognoscenti attempting to recreate Amer Picon from mysterious infusions and combinations of other expensive liqueurs must shit gold bricks in the morning or be employed...

2. If you sink a charge of it into beer, it tastes pretty alright. It isn't intensely orange, nor intensely sweet, nor intensely anything really except maybe bitter but its not really that bitter compared to all the really bitter things out there. That gives it some flexibility in cocktails but also there is usually something that works better for whatever you are trying to do. Sort of the Honda Civic of proprietary orange aperitif liquers. We don't know anything about cars so we hope that metaphor works. We are getting tired of referring to ourselves as we...Also this started out as a Pro but sort of morphed into a Con as I went on.

3. The packaging is appealingly shitty looking, enough to trick you into thinking it is Foreign.


1. This con should really count as two cons. This is made in America. Have some goddamn pride. Instead of Torani Amer, they should have called it AMERICAN PICON. They could have put a picture of Captain America juicing an orange into Batroc The Leapers mouth (people might read Batroc as a snooty barista which would also work for me) . Juicing Aggressively, not like in a romantic way.

2. It has a piercing Neutral Grain Spirit nose (vapory, rubbing alcohol). The flavor is fairly muted (also I have a head cold and I stayed up late drinking baijiu all night...), the orange is not very bright or compelling and tastes quite hot (also nothing in life seems that bright or compelling right now). There is a sort of alkaline/aspirin note to the bitter finish.

Whether this works for you depends on where your sweet spot is in the Price VS Horrible graph for liquor. As a dutiful American, I will gleefully chocked down a huge amount of Horrible if it is cheap enough, so I'm a big fan of Torani Amer. It also works as a great example in my drunken late-night tirades about how 'America is the new China, man...'

A drink then, from the North American Basque Association (naBASQUE)

"Why The Basque?"

2 oz Torani Amer
1/2 oz Pomegranate Molasses
Soda Water
1/2 oz lemon

Just go to the website and do what they say, I am tired of talking about Torani Amer. The drink is O.K.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's Sort Of French I guess

The base of this cocktail is a smoked wheat saison, made using wheat malt that has been smoked with oak wood. If you can't find a similar beer at your local bottleshop or brewery, that's a bummer bro. You could try substituting a different beer. If you live in a city where you can purchase Blue Moon without enduring a withering eye roll from the scarved-even-though-it's-fucking-july grocery checkout person, well you still shouldn't buy it and I hope if you thought this sentence was going to end differently that you stub your toe really hard later. Or you could sublet the basement, then you would have constant access to all the exotic beer needed to recreate your favorite blog-born cocktails. Must be cool with Radon. Also, after biking home I come sit in the basement in my underwear for like 15 minutes and just sweat really hard. You have to be cool with that. Also you can't talk to me while that is happening.

Anyways, find a wheat beer or a saison, or ideally a wheat saison that isn't very hoppy. You want a complex beer, that once you add a bunch of complex liquors and spirits to, will taste like something you can really pound to get refreshed and hammered. This cocktail is aimed at addressing several of the problems with fancy cocktails, namely that you can finish them in 3 sips, have about 5 minutes to drink them before they are room temp, and can only have 3 before sugar & alcohol claim you. My ideal cocktail is about 16 oz and served at 38F in a coozie and you can have 5 of them....

15 takes and this was the best one...
Why yes, we do have a nice Hutch

"It's Sort Of French I guess"

12 oz Smoked Wheat Saison
1 oz lemon 
3/4 oz Barenjager
1 oz Torani Amer

Briefly shake the liquors & lemon with ice, then strain into glass of beer. Gently stir to mix without totally killing all the carbonation in the beer. Put a pinch of grapefruit salt on the rim.

If you are smart, you mixed 3x the amounts listed so you could top off each beer as you draw it from the keg.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Pressing Sense of One's Mortality

Step 1 - Feel enough like shit that you are willing to try a herbal remedy but not so much like shit that you can't be bothered to collect herbs from the garden to make said remedy. Also, if you have Nyquil in the house, skip all steps and just have some Nyquil.

Step 2 -  Make horehound syrup, basically same as you would make any flavored simple syrup. Horehound is supposed to be good for cold/sore throat/cough stuff, and like all cold/sore throat/cough remedies it is impossible to determine if it works.  

Horehound is related to mint. Unless it isn't and just looks like it is. I am not a botanist.
Horehound (far right) growing in a cinderblock jail
Step 2 a. Place about 1.5 cups fresh leaf matter in bowl and pour over about 3/4 cup just boiled water, cover bowl.

Step 2 b. Read a few chapters of a Wodehouse book about cricket or however you pass 15 minutes, then strain into sauce pan.

Step 2 c. Heat liquid as you stir in about 1/2 or so cups honey or agave (I used both because I felt guilty using up all the honey that Margarett bought for some stupid herbal remedy), once fully integrated simmer for a bit to reduce/thicken while you wikipedia how in God's name cricket is played. Pour into canning jar and allow to cool.

Step 3 - Try to find ways to stomach this weird horehound syrup, including mixed into tea, in beer, and then finally hit on something that works:

"A Pressing Sense of One's Mortality"

1 oz Barenjager
.8 oz Horehound Syrup

Pour both into a shot glass, then drink slowly while thinking hopeful thoughts about the healing properties of herbs...

As for it's efficacy, you may or may not feel better but I guarantee you'll die eventually.