Friday, January 23, 2009

Repeal Day II: The 'Recon Crew -- Part 2


In a twist most nefarious,the folks at
Cantina teamed up with John Walker for a Repeal Day extravaganza. They put together a special menu for the evening of $1 cocktails. As you might imagine, by the time Ed and I got there, the joint was jumping, but we were undaunted. Duggan McDonnell was manning the hosting position, while behind the bar upstairs co-owner Aaron Prentice, and Jordan Mackay were churning out the drinks. We both started with an Oriental (Sazerac Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Creole Shrub, and lime juice) -- This is a great cocktail that I'm surprised doesn't get more air time. As we were enjoying our drinks, and trying to stay out of the way, Jordan popped over to say hi, and introduce us to a friend of his, Marcia "Tablehopper" Gagliardi with whom we had a fine time chatting with for a while (she's fabulous!). For our second drink, we went for the Yellow Daisy -- A pleasant mix of Gin, Dry Vermouth, and Grand Marnier. We decided to drift downstairs to the satellite bar, where Dominic Venegas was working his magic which, it turned out, consisted of making Ed and I break our "no shots" rule. As we were chatting with some of the other folks who were about, I noticed Dominic pull out a couple of silver mugs from under the bar. It was early in the evening, but it seemed that it was time for a Blue Blazer. The lights were dimmed, and with deft hands Dominic tossed flaming whiskey from mug to mug. It was a glorious display that was cut short by Ed being called into an emergency run to Elixir, and with that we were off once again.


The run to Elixir was quick. A crowd was gathering, and we had other places we needed to be. As long as we were there, and had broken our shot rule, we decided to indulge in a quick shot of the sweet, sweet Jameson. As we left, we began to talk of our next stop. We decided to head out to Beretta or NOPA. As I was eager to try a little something they were serving up for the occasion at NOPA, I used my massive charm to lure Ed NOPA ways.


The reason I wanted to go to NOPA was because they were celebrating Repeal Day by unleashing their Red Headed Rye. I had tried some a while ago thanks to persons which shall remain nameless, and was eager to have some more. When we arrived, the bar was crowded, as we had feared. Ed decided we should push through and see if we got lucky. His intuition proved genius, as two stools opened up right in front of us only moments after we situated ourselves behind the bar. As we seated ourselves, we were greeted by the delightful Kent Howard. I had met him randomly several weeks before, and was glad to see him again on our Repeal journey. I also met Marge there, who by the way, had one of the best custom phone cases I have ever seen, with a stunning photo of her drinking a cocktail. Ed and I were both on the same page when it came to what we wanted to put that Rye to, and ordered Manhattans. It was a beautiful construction, with all the lively kick a Rye lover could want. We thought about sticking around for another, but it was getting late, and we wanted to make another stop.


As we walked in, we saw the benevolent face of the great Daniel Hyatt behind the bar. We were also still on the same page, looking to end our evening with another of our favorite classics -- The Sazerac. Some time ago this became one of my favorite cocktails, and it seemed to be the best way to end our evening. It was one last cheers, and several sips before Ed and I parted ways to our respective homes.

It was a grand (long) night, and a grand way to spend Repeal Day. As I sat at home drinking an enormous glass of water, I began to wonder how we might top it next year.

I'm guessing a booze pool.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Repeal Day II: The 'Recon Crew -- Part One

If didn't have enough to do what with keeping the fine folks of Eugene well supplied with excellent drinks, he's also the original champion of the greatest holiday in the world ever -- Repeal day. This grand celebratory occasion first came to my attention last year, and while I like to think I did an ok job at celebrating it, I felt I could do better. With Ed not having to work this time around, I knew we could put together something that would be much more appropriate for the day. We decided that a cocktail crawl, one of epic scope, would be just the ticket. The ticket to where we neither knew nor cared.

Slanted Door

As I was heading up towards the Ferry Building, I got a text from Ed indicating that he was running late. It seemed wrong for me to have my first Repeal Day drink sans Ed, but really, my hands were tied. Scanning the list was an exercise in excess -- There were just too many delectable looking drinks to choose from. I kept getting drawn towards the Agricole Rhum Punch (Rhum Agricole, lime, cane syrup, Pimento Dram, and Angostura) and decided to give it a go.

Damn my eyes if this wasn't a great drink. It managed to be both earthy and light, with a neigh on miraculous balance between sweet and sour. Sitting at the far end of the bar, sipping this cocktail while watching freighters drift into view was an excellent way to start the day. It didn't take long before I stopped checking the clock to see how much longer I would have to wait for Ed to show up. It also soothed the pain of the conversation that sparked up next to me about drinks, and why there's no reason to go to Slanted Door for drinks, because one can get a drink anywhere. But I digress.

Eventually Ed arrived, but by that time there were no seats at the bar, and that simply would not do, so we decided to move on. Fortunately for Ed and his thirst problem, our next stop was just down the block.


Ed and I have met lead Boulevard barman Steve on several occasions, but had never had an opportunity to get down there to give his concoctions a whirl. Fortunately, it was but a brief amble away from Slanted Door. Steve had yet to show up as his shift was still impending, but that is not such a thing to stop us, so we snatched up a menu and took a look. Having not been able to scope out their drink menu on-line I wasn't sure what to expect, but we found a fine looking selection. I went for the Rye Smile (Old Overholt, Luxardo, lemon juice, peach bitters topped off with ginger beer) as I'm a sucker for Rye, Luxardo, and ginger beer. Also, I'm a sucker for pretty much anything. Some say it's a problem, I say it's a solution. Ed had a bit tougher time choosing his drink, but finally settled on the Black Briar -- An interesting concoction made simply of blackberry and pasilla puree, and Woodford with a twist.

The woman who made our drinks (whose name we didn't get because we are terrible people) was deft of hand, and soon delivered unto us two tasty looking libations. The Rye Smile was quite good, with the spice of the Rye and ginger beer working nicely with the sweetness of the Luxardo. Ed's drink very nice as well -- The blackberry was a great foil for the spice from the pepper, but wasn't so much as to overwhelm the notes from the bourbon. Steve showed up as we were finishing off our drinks, and it would have been just plain rude were we to not have more drinks.

As I was scanning the menu, Steve offered to whip Ed up something all off the menu, and the business. Smart man that he is, Ed acquiesced and was soon proffered a New Amsterdam (Bols Genever, apricot liqueur, Amontillado Sherry, Velvet Falernum, and Regan's Orange Bitters). This was an interesting one -- The malt from the Genever hit strong at first, then faded quickly leaving a nutty finish from the Amontillado. It wasn't thrilling me, but after having some time to rest in the glass, those main flavor profiles began to blend into a more pleasing shape. I couldn't bring myself to leave the menu, and went for the Man From Athens, Maker's Mark, Carpano Antica, orange juice, and caramelized peach syrup. I liked this expression of the "West Coast" drink trend of bartenders raiding the kitchen. The syrup added a really nice burnt/sweet note to the overall drink.

We could have stuck around for another, but we had a holiday to celebrate.

Clock Bar

It would have been extremely bad form for us to have left the always ebullient Marco Dionysus out in the cold during our festivities. So it was that we headed up to the Clock Bar. When we arrived, we were feeling very much in the mood for some classics. Ed gravitated to his favorite, the Hemingway Daiquiri (Rum, grapefruit juice, Maraschino, and lime juice),and I sated my need for a Last Word (Gin, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, and Maraschino) lust. Both were exactly what we were looking for. For round two, Ed went for a Wibble -- A heady combination of Plymouth Sloe Gin, Gin, grapefruit, lemon juice, and Creme de Mure -- This has been one of our favorites on the menu for some time. It may be a bit of an obvious statement, but there is something magical about the combination of Gin and Sloe, and the Creme de Mure deepens the mixed fruit flavors of the Sloe. I went for a Pegu (Gin, Curacao, lime juice, Angostura and orange bitters) as a nod to the drink that made the magic happen for me.

I didn't take any photos, and blame Marco's rendition of Shakespeare in the guise of Bugs Bunny. It was a magical performance.

Unfortunately we couldn't stay for the whole performance, as we had to move on to the chaos that was sure to be Cantina.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Helper Monkey

So, um, yeah. The picture isn't that great, but there are a lot of glasses there. Who knew the phrase, "Yeah, fuck it, I'm excited now." could lead to so much delicious chaos.

If you're planning on hitting up Cantina for their Repeal Day festivities tomorrow (Ed and I will be everywhere), and were wondering what the offerings might be like, I'll go ahead and give them the thumbs up.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Review -- Artisanal Cocktais

Hi! I'm a lazy bastard, how's it going? Remember how I was all talking about that Scott Beattie book signing, then never took the time to write about it, or the book? Yeah, those were good times weren't they? To make it up to you, I'm going to go ahead and tell you all about it. I know that doesn't sound like I'm making up for anything, but rather performing my bloggerly duty, but that's just because you're wrong. I mean I love you.

As somebody who is not in a position to likely ever get up to Cyrus to try the drinks of Mr. Beattie, I was pretty excited to have a chance to get my lips on some of his concoctions. They were quite impressive, and tasty, with the Painful Punch rocking my world. To be technical, I would have to resort to the official mixological trade classification of "hot damn!" The crowds got big in a hurry, so beyond drinking a painful amount of punch (zing!), and engaging in some celebrity shaking (not what it sounds like, and I'm happy to report that I never once jettisoned the pint glass off the boston and into the head of anybody standing behind me) I was out of there pretty quick.

While I partied modestly, I was still quite happy to have walked away with a copy of the book, Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus which was thoughtfully inscribed with "To the best bartender on the west coast, BFF Scott." I might have added that part myself later -- Don't judge me! Because I'm the sort to judge books by their cover, even before I have seen said cover, I was imagining a book which would be almost Thomas Kellerian in its complexity. Recipes with recipes, and mysterious ingredients that would have me asking, "What the hell is a floozlefruit bush, and where the fuck am I supposed to get a drachm of argon gas?" I was half right.

To be sure, this is not a book for beginners or even for the likes of me, but I didn't think it would be. On the other hand, I was happy to see space taken to talk about proper ice, measuring of ingredients, using fresh citrus, etc. I was also happy to see classics like the Gin and Tonic, and Last Word covered – But as I read through the book I kept had a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

Things like the use of lotus root chips, and foams (though I must admit it is a more restrained use than is often found) seemed a bit much, and the overwhelming emphasis on ingredients that would be hard to find outside of most major cities (but would never the less require a lot of shopping trips) sat weird with me. Still, I couldn't deny the innovative nature of what was being done, and as I said, this is not a book geared towards the fledgling enthusiast.

It wasn't until I read an insightful post about the book over at Underhill Lounge that I realized more what I was feeling about the book. He mentions that it may be that the drinks are more the non-spirit components than the spirits themselves that are the real focus of the drinks. I don't know if I'd go that far, but I wouldn't fight him on that point, and that's were I get stuck. The drinks I had were, as I said above, delicious, but the book seems like more of an academic study rather than a practical manual of drink making. Indeed , the drinks I love the most are those that feature the spirits and there nuances as the star.

But here's the thing – For all the words I've spent talking about the problems with the book, it's incredibly inspirational. It pushes the boundaries of what is thought of as a cocktail, and takes the west coast style of mixology to its most grand. This is not a book for people just taking their first steps into the cocktail world, but for folks who are looking for a bit of inspiration, and new ideas I'd say it's worth a read.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Core Vodka -- Or is it?

That's a bit too much poorly written snark -- Even for me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday Drink Night

Something I've been quite remiss in mentioning here is a weekly, virtual celebration of cocktail creation and mayhem. It's a sweaty mash up of "your mom" jokes, on the fly cocktails both good and bad, and people going to bed several hours after first saying "I gotta go to bed". This, my friends, is the soused world of Thurday Drink Night. While the chatroom is a fine place to drop any time you're looking for a geek fix, it is the wonderfully inglorious Thursday nights where the magic happens. Which probably explains my regularly forgetting about it, and not showing up.

"That's all well and good," You're saying to your monitor, confirming to your co-workers what they have suspected for years, "but where is the meat in your bloggey sandwich, the trebling crescendo that keeps us always coming back for more? You know, when you talk about yourself."

First of all; I'm not that egotistical that you very much. Second of all; simmer down children, I got you covered. For your viewing (and mocking if you like) pleasure, I present you with the tepidly received contribution I made last evening. I was unable to name the drink as I suck at such things (even more so under pressure), and can't remember what it got dubbed in the chat, so I'm gonna make something up now.

Fistful of Dollars*

1 oz. Plymouth Sloe Gin
1 oz. Haymen's Old Tom Gin
1 oz. lime juice
.5 Tbs. Creole Shrub
2 dashes Fee Bros. Cherry Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and top with soda**.

* The first person who can tell me why I chose this particular name for the drink will get 500 bonus D.A.W points.

** Soda amount-wise, I'm assuming you have more appropriate glasses than the 10 oz. tankards that are all the rage these days.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

39) The Placeholder

1.5 oz. Tezon Blanco Tequila
.25 oz. St. Germain
.25 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
.5 oz. lime juice
.5 oz. lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a flamed orange peel

This one wasn't too bad. We've gotten a bit rusty what with not having the time to play around recently. I was happy to revisit St. Germain -- When it first come out, it was being used by everybody for everything and I got tired of it pretty quickly, but it's a damn fine spirit. I'm also ridding a bit of an obsession with Maraschino. I don't know why but I feel like putting it in everything. An idea I can assure you is not a good one.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.