Archive for March, 2009


drunkensailorNormally, these kind of lists take up space (and Modern Drunkard isn’t known for the quality of their writing) but these drinking rules are great. I found myself nodding from the perspectives of both sides of the bar.

Wayne Curtis over at The Atlantic talks to Eric Seed about his knack for raising long-forgotten liqueurs from the dead. I’d really love to try some violet liqueur…

A whiskey collector in Tennesee is facing a fine and the loss of part of his collection after he sold a rare bottle of his which is apparently illegal in his state without a license.

In a related article, people all over America are fed up with stupid liquor laws and some of the more antiquated ones are getting repealed. Hopefully this will start to happen north of the border as well; so many of Ontario’s laws were instituted by stiff, Scottish Protestant bastards.

That being said, we do do some things right… as you may have noticed the LCBO has banned plastic bags from its stores. Despite some pansy-ass whimpering from the plastic bag industry, I’m betting this kind of thing will spread amongst retailers. Now if only they’d bring back those cloth six-pack wine bags…

Although they won that fight, they’ve lost another against Diageo after refusing to pay higher prices for several of the latter’s scotch products. Personally, I won’t miss any of ‘em; maybe this will give Centennial Rye or some other deserving product a shot.

Lastly, this might seem rather basic to some of us but Sloshed! offers some good advice for the amateur mixologist on creating cocktails from scratch. (Sure it’s riskier when you’re paying for the booze…)

Umami Mart’s Happy Hour tells us all about making simple syrup and some interesting variations. The sage is amazing! (edit: Part 2 is up now which delves into fruit-based simple syrups. Check it out!)

The New Brunswick Liquor Corporation rolls out a new line of government-branded beer to compete with that cheap Quebecois stuff. Too bad it’s $18.67 for 12 (I don’t get “socially responsible pricing”) when you can pick up a two-four for $25 across the border. They might want to rethink that one…

Hired Guns show us some interesting wine label designs. I particularly like the braille label (wine cultivated by the blind!) and the ghoulish “Return of the Living Red”.

I’d really like to try The Last Word. Any cocktail that takes you on a ride sounds good to me!

Why can’t we have more venues like Schiller’s Liquor Bar in Toronto? Surely there’s got to be some interesting aspect of our city’s history we could mine for that collective sigh of nostalgia?

Plus one more thing:

My local, the Rasputin Vodka Bar, is offering a new special to celebrate Toronto’s first taste of spring.

You can get $2.50 mixed drinks and half-pints from 6pm to 9pm, Tuesday to Friday. They’re also keeping with their regular specials which include $6 Russian Mojitos on Tuesday, $2.50 mixed drinks on Thursday and a $6 classic vodka martini on Friday.

I plan on heading there Wednesday so stop and say hi if you’re in the area.

I used to have a blog on El-Jay. With the advent of Facebook and RSS feeds, it kind of fell by the wayside but I do have fond memories.

One in particular was a collection of alcoholics that called themselves “theboozeyoucrew”. Basically, you’d apply to get in by listing your ten favorite cocktails, liquor, beer, wine or what-have-you but that wasn’t all. You’d also have to justify said choices by either being witty or knowledgeable or reach some kind of magic median between the two. It also helped if you were a dick.

The community’s been dead since last summer but I was curious to see my application because I had no idea what I was drinking four or five years ago. It took a couple minute of searching but I found my top ten which I’d posted back in the summer of 2004. (I added the links for information’s sake.)

Rereading the list, I can see that I was very much in love with Hunter S. Thompson, dive bars and other assorted oddities; I went to bed with the profane and rose with the wretched, etc.

Despite being full of lies and hyperbole, there are some grand truths to be found here. Zwack is still good (and still for sale at the LCBO) but I wouldn’t necessarily drink it like I did before; especially now that I know how useful a good bitters can be. Canton’s Ginger Liqueur has been retooled and is currently hitting it big in the US; here’s hoping it gets brought back up here (and while we’re at it, bring me some of that St. Germain’s Elderflower Liqueur). I also still indulge in the occasional Apricot Ale.

On the flip side, I merely threw Sheep Dip and Stone I.P.A. on there to impress although I’d actually tried the former if not the latter. The addition of Dr. Peppers (although using rum instead of cola is amusingly hardcore), Liquid Cocaine and Strongbow Cider is nothing more than pure college drinking and can be dismissed as such but it’s still a fun list and stands up, especially since I’d not done any bartending by this point.

So, without further ado… it was a very good year.

Zwack Unicum. I bought this on a whim and since I had nothing to mix it with, I drank it straight. It knocked me back the first few times but within a week, I was carrying some in a flask with me wherever I went. Still do although I alternate with cheap whisky when I’m feeling punchy. Bonus: NO ONE will touch your drink when it’s bitters. Come to think of it, I was conditioned for this. When I wasn’t legal, I’d drop a bottle of Angostura Bitters in my limeade. Zwack was the next logical step.

Canton Ginger Liqueur for when I have a cold. Hell, whenever.

1995 Salon Blanc de Blancs Champagne. My friends bought a bottle of this for my last party. Head and shoulders above any champagne they sell at the LCBO although I still drink THOSE which is kinda like jerking off ’cause you’re trying to recapture the feeling of that beautiful fuck you had last month.

Dr. Pepper and I’m talking shooters. I like to use Keiths, Appletons and Disaranno. It feels like the bubbles are going straight to my brain and lining ‘em up is a must ’cause I won’t do it alone.

Sheep Dip Pure Malt Scotch Whisky. I like the smell of fuel and this whisky lets me drink it.

Strongbow Cider. I will NOT drink it in a can and a bottle is only good at a picnic but what a fucking picnic! I like to drink a pint in the afternoon between classes. Like champagne and Dr. Pepper, there’s something about cider that knocks me loopy.

Chilled Jägermeister is the distilled essence of fucking. Liquid cocaine is fucking until you bleed.

Charodei. I like my vodka straight but if I’m mixing, I’ll do it with Plymouth Gin and some grapefruit juice because it deserves better than that one time my friend and I decided it would be fun to mix it half-and-half with bottles of blue Gatorade before dropping in at the bar for some real drinking. I can’t remember if we actually got to the bar or not.

Stone I.P.A. ’cause who can drink shit like Keiths when you can get the real stuff just as easily?

McAuslan Apricot Wheat Ale. The first fruit beer I ever had and still my favorite. I thought I’d only liked it when I had tried it first ’cause I was plastered in the early morning and my throbbing heart had somehow jumped down through my rib cage and planted itself firmly at the base of my spine but no, it’s still good.”

How have your tastes changed?

As mentioned by Dr. Bamboo, Thursday Drink Nights exist as a means for like-minded individuals to gather in a chat room and trade and discuss cocktail recipes whilst actually making them with whatever they have stocked in their home bars. There’s usually a theme and apparently, amendments to proffered recipes can come fast and furious, with each one adding a different nuance and, of course, everyone gets shitfaced.

While I have yet to participate in one (my own bar is ill-suited to this kind of thing at the moment and it’d drive me crazy operating with the handicap a government monopoly leaves me with) I thing the idea is fantastic and I’ve often wished for company while trying out the latest purchase.

Taking advantage of some visiting friends, I handed them each a glass and we proceeded to get into the latest beer offerings from the LCBO. The drinking party was made up of Lowell, my brother with a rubber arm when it comes to alcohol; Rodney “The Professor” Snooks, my soon-to-be-ex roommate and philosopher and his girlfriend, Kate (I don’t know much about her but she seems nice and she’s originally from England so she’s gotta know something about beer).

pietraFirst up was Pietra, a “strong beer” from Corsica. Weighing in at 6% ABV, its claim to fame is the inclusion of chestnuts in the recipe. It’s also bottle-conditioned for eight weeks. I can’t think of many French beers I’ve liked beyond Kronenbourg 1664 (both Fischer and Boris were disappointments) but this was kind of different and I thought it might be interesting.

The first thing I noticed was the pineapple smell. It was lightly carbonated and I thought it had a bit of a metallic aftertaste. Lowell thought it tasted flat and it reminded him of a UK bitter. Neither of us could detect any chestnut flavor and thinking back, I can’t think of it as anything but mundane. I wouldn’t drink it again.

Next up was Stuart’s Natural Session Ale, a local beer from Scotch Irish Brewing. Billed as a light beer, it’s only 3.7% ABV and is bottled in a stubby which I’m always fond of. I also really liked the picture of the Scottie dog on the label. I’d never liked anything else they offered but I figured I’d give them one more chance.

stuartsUnfortunately, the beer was an epic fail for all of us. Rodney shook his head and walked away, saying “I don’t know…” (which proved to be the most positive thing any of us could find to say about it) and that’s all we got out of him for the rest of the night.

I noticed a slight taste of honey but this was overshadowed by a weird sour mouthfeel and it smelt kind of doggy. Lowell thought it tasted like “a wet newspaper at the bottom of a kennel” and Kate agreed, noting that it “lies there and dies on your tongue”. I drank it but I didn’t like it; I wouldn’t call it sessionable.

Wanting to get the hell out of our backyard, we moved across the ocean to Germany for Köstritzer’s Schwarzbier, a canned dark lager (4.8% ABV).

kostrikerLowell thought it smelt “cheesy” and Kate agreed. I didn’t pick up on that at all but my first sip packed a wallop of liquorice. While there was some chocolate in there, my overriding impression was of those nasty black candies that everyone leaves at the bottom of the bowl and I couldn’t shake it.  Lowell thought that it would probably taste better at the brewery and he’s probably right. Kate was happy that it tasted better than the ale that proceeded it and we could all get behind that.

To get the bad taste out of our mouths, we moved on to Hockley Stout which promised to save our tongues by pouring “like liquid midnight”, even from a can. With a relatively-low ABV (4.2%) I was hoping I might have a new stout to stock my fridge with.

hockleySmelling of caramel and chocolate, I found it light, smooth and refreshing with both notes of coffee and a continuation of the chocolate. I thought it was a perfectly acceptable stout and certainly better than Guinness.  Lowell disagreed, labelling it “foamy” and “vacuous”; like “a soda-pop with no fizz”. He liked the Schwarzbier better. Kate thought it was “complex” and she liked the smell of tamari that she was getting from it.

By this point, we were pretty drunk (despite portioning out the beer, we’d been drinking it pretty quickly) so we wrapped the evening up with Fuller’s London Porter. Porters generally differ from stouts in terms of strength so I was expecting something even smoother than the stout that had proceeded it.

fullersI wasn’t disappointed as the chocolate smell and taste was woven with this lovely creaminess which stretched out into a nice, long finish that reminded me of one of my mum’s chocolate malt pie. Like the Hockley Stout, the carbonation was mild and I could easily see myself drinking two or three of these over the course of a night. Lowell and Kate also liked it and even went so far as to proclaim it the best beer of the night. While the localist in me wants to get behind Hockley, I have to agree; the London Porter was exceptional and I’ll definitely go back for some more.

We never got into Young’s Double Chocolate Stout which I think beats all of the above handily but I’ll get into that next time, along with the second half of the LCBO’s spring beers release.

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