Tuesday, December 1, 2015

5 Drinks to Replace Caesars as Canada's Cocktail

It's no secret that I think Caesars are over rated. While I can appreciate Caesars during a certain time and place (read: hangovers), I believe that they should be relegated to one particular day of the week (Sundays). I've said it before and I'll say it again; Canadian cocktail culture needs an overhaul. Caesars are by and large the only cocktail that an average Canadian knows (you can guess my opinion about whether hi-balls  or Screwdrivers should be included as cocktails....) So I've put together a short list of cocktails to replace the Caesar as Canada's cocktail.

5. The Toronto

How many Toronto's does it take to run the country?
Just one.
Why it would work: If San Francisco can develop a hard on for Fernet, so can Canada. It's really the perfect cocktail for this list. It calls for rye, which is Canada's way of distilling whisky, and which once put Canada on the map for quality alcohol production. It's named after Canada's largest city, which many identify as the cultural hub of Canada. It would add a well needed level of class and worldliness to Canadian culture; we need to nix the country bumkin identity and move on up in the world.

Why it wouldn't work: To be honest, I would love to give this cocktail the number one spot. Sadly, most Canadians don't like to feel connected with Toronto. Canadians are jealous of Toronto. I know us non Torontonians hate to admit it, but Toronto is better than us, because they either don't know of don't care about everyone's extreme hatred of their city. It all stems from the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the most popular hockey team in the NHL, and Canadians have nothing better to complain about than one way hockey rivalries.

 4. The Manhattan
You might recognize this cocktail from the old mustached
grandpa that comes customary with each order.
Why it would work: Canadians love the big apple almost as much as they don't love the big smoke. Seriously, this cocktail could do it for almost all the same reasons as the Toronto. It's made with rye, it's classy, and it's named after a city everyone loves. Better yet, it's not as esoteric as the Toronto, so whether the bartenders knows what it is or not, the ingredients should at least be available in most bars.

Why it wouldn't work: The most important thing to know about Canadian heritage is that our national identity is built around the concept of not being American. We may love New York, and love to drink Manhattans, but by default we hate to be thought of as Americans. And what's more American than America's largest city?! Well, I suppose the flag, or white house, but you can't drink those....

3. Dark 'N Stormy

Possibly the best thing you can do with alcohol free ginger beer,
is add rum to it!
Why it would work: Even though rye is our historical claim, there's a whole part of the country who drinks only rum and beer. Atlantic Canada is where I was born and raised, and it's a well known fact that Easterners like their rum. It also wouldn't be that hard to switch to, given the fact that hi-balls are already so prominent a thing in bars here.

Why it wouldn't work: Okay, so the point of the list is to add more sophistication to our drinking culture. The last thing Canadians need is another go to hi-ball. And aside from that, no one wants to be associated with quirky Easterners. The maritimes is the butt hole of Canada,and no Newfies are weird. Look at their rum! It's even got a weird name.... Screech!

2. Irish Coffee

Note: This is not a double double. It's all Irish baby!
Why it would work: Canadians love their coffee. Think about it. You can easily sneak some Irish whiskey into your double double from Tim Hortons each day, then go about your day with a light buzz and caffeine high. It would fuel a whole new generation of alcohol dependency, and at the same time stand in the face of the Anglo world's stupid ban of drinking alcohol in public.

Why it wouldn't work: Too many people use the drive through at Tim Hortons. Need I say more?

1. The Sidecar
(This drink is fantastic)
Why it would work: This one would be a huge play out of left field. First of all, it's fucking fantastic, just like Canada. Secondly, it has some shady French history behind it, just like Canada. And aside from all that, it has the class and pizzazz that I so desperately crave. I would have absolutely no problem with *people who opted for Sidecars all the time instead of Caesars.

Why it wouldn't work: Anglo Canadians by and large would never accept something so French. And that's pretty much what it comes down to.

Honorable Mention

Vanilla Porter and Canadian Rye makes a pretty damn good Boilermaker.
Over the years I've discovered that one of the ways to make terrible Canadian lagers and terrible Canadian whiskies work is to mix them together. It's simple, like so many Canadianisms,  and it doesn't fall victim to the cocktails above, which would never be accepted because of the intolerance of Anglo Canadians, to French Canadians. French Canadians to Anglo Canadians. Non Torontonians to Torontonians. And Canadians to Americans. Unfortunately, it's not a cocktail.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

13 Over Rated Cocktails

People seemed to enjoy my last article like this, where I dissed popuoar cocktails, and wrote in a cynical and pretentious voice. Not being one to disappoint the 'fans' (rather, being out of activity for awhile and needing to bolster my readership...) I present to you my newest article regarding popular drinks that are over rated!

There are a number of popular cocktails that pop up fairly often for those of us working the wood. Some of us have gotten a handle for making drinks we can't stand, or making drinks that we know just aren't that good; but boy howdy are they sure popular! This list is an examination of some of those cocktails.

13. Margarita

Mexican Bulldogs are kind of cool though...
I'm putting our favorite tequila cocktail at the bottom of this list because they actually aren't all THAT bad. At the same time, however, they also aren't all that good. I can't knock people who like them too badly because there aren't all that many tequila cocktails in the lime light (pun intended), and tequila is a pretty hard thing to get into. Considering how bad the low priced products are and how hard it is for a lot of people to get past their initial experience of taking shots and immediately washing the taste away with a bite of lime and a lick of salt, most people just don't know what to do with tequila. That said, in my opinion the only thing to do with a good tequila is to drink it straight and neat. As for a bad tequila... well, make margaritas I suppose.

12. Dirty Martini
A proper Martini. Black and White...
err, no olive juice.

For all of the known world, Martinis are a passion of pleasure. Except for those whom they aren't. For those dregs, there are Dirty Martinis. You may recognize this rare breed of slack jawed yokles by their familiar statement that "the olive juice is the best part!" Oh, how they couldn't be more mistaken. The olive juice is so not the best part of a good Martini, that it in fact is not part of a good Martini at all! Think about it. Do you consume anything else labeled as 'dirty'? Dirty cottage cheese, for example? Or perhaps you're more in the mood for a dirty Big Mac. Or maybe a dirty Bratwurst is more up your.... alley?

11. Frozen Bellini

That's me, apparently bowing at my adoring customers.
Here in Vancouver, where the frozen bellini was imagined years ago by a young Milestones restaurant, frozen bellinis are the only bellinis. During my tenure at Milestones, I had many a first time bellini consumer order their first bellini and say something along the lines of "This is great! It tastes like a Slurpee with alcohol!" That alone should be enough to persuade people of its cheesiness. Nevertheless it somehow became super popular and is now available at every casual fine dining experience in Canada (I don't know if that's true, but knowing the tastes of my countrymen it would not surprise me). Oh and don't forget the monkey toy that goes on top! Christ...

Hey! I have an idea! Let's add coke to everything!
10. Anything and Coke

I've ranted extensively about high balls in the past, and of course I'm doing it again! If you call them Cuba Libre or Fernet con Coca, you can probably get away with it, otherwise, high balls are just a crying shame. The moment you add that coke to the spirits, it is now a complete was of good alcohol. While I can appreciate that most people can't palate alcohol, adding an obscene amount of high calorie carbonated syrup water isn't the solution!

9. Screwdriver

The sane world calls them vodka and orange juice. Those of us who got left behind call it the Screwdriver. It's the de facto go to cocktail that people who don't know any cocktails always turn to. There's nothing special about them, and it basically just tastes like bad orange juice. I think we all need to ask ourselves, if it didn't get you drunk, would you put anything that tastes like that in your mouth? Maybe I'm crazy for thinking they taste as bad as they do, or maybe I'm biased for some other reason, but in my humble opinion.... Screwdrivers are garbage! Next!

This golden piece of awesome is the yuppiest drink
on the planet.
8. Old Fashioned

Being that I quite like the Old Fashioned, this will either come across as hypocritical, or show that I'm just as willing to criticize my own tastes. While quite delicious, the Old Fashioned has become the centerpiece of hipsters, or people trying to broadcast to the world how sophisticated and trendy they are. Yes, both sophisticated and trendy at the same time! Who'd have thunk? If you're friends with "The Old Fashioned Guy", then you've probably seen him push the classic on everybody and anybody he drinks with. As for "The Old Fashioned Lady", there's nothing wrong with her. Keep doing what you're doing Old Fashioned Lady.

Presentation is bang on, though.
7. Strawberry Daiquiri

Of course this drink is much more detestable in its blended form, although it does taste good, that is besides the point. Ultimately, and similarly to the Bellini, you can't tell that this is an adult drink. There are a number of virgin drinks out there for alcohol haters. Slurpees. Bubble teas. Even Shirley Temples. But leave the rum out of it for the love of all that is good and holy!

6. Caesar
Blegh... Boring. Find a new national drink, Canada!
One of the few "you have to know" cocktails in order to bartend in Canada. This is Canada's cocktail. I'll also admit, that despite being so high on the list, I do not find Caesars to be absolutely detestable. That being said, there is a proper time and place for a caesar, and that time or place is not any time, all the time. It's not a party drink, it's not a dinner drink, it's not any other type of drink than a refreshing hangover drink to have with your hangover meal. Okay okay, sometimes.... SOMETIMES they aren't too bad on a hot day, but this goes back to the point that they're not an any time drink, and if you have more than one you're going to smell like Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. And furthermore, it grinds my gears when people call it a bloody, or spicy caesar. They're all spicy, and they aren't the same as a Bloody Mary!

5. Pina Colada

A little bit of cinnamon can brighten up a Pina Colada.
I've got two Pina Cola.... no I don't! No Pina Coladas for you! Okay, so this should not come as a surprise to anyone who's been reading this list. Pina Coladas, and anything like a Pina Colada is not my cup of tea. Coconut syrup, really? I have two far better tiki drinks to steer you towards. Painkillers and Mai Tais. Seriously, you can still get your tiki on without the gross syrup. Painkillers are basically a Pina Colada's grown up brother. And neither drink ever makes sense blended. And by the way, if you hadn't noticed, blended drinks are not my thing.

Actually, this one isn't even that popular.
I strongly dislike it though!
4. Sex on the Beach

It basically tastes like candy, and aside from the vodka it basically is just candy. If drinking candy is
your thing, that's fine. The Tipsy Bartender has an audience of millions because of cocktails made out of candy, after all. Personally, I think it's gross. It's just another of those cocktails that scream "grooooow up!" And seriously, Sex on the Beach? What about the name fits the flavor profile? Almost any cocktail would be more fitting of the name. "Oh let's go to the beach and eat fuzzy peaches!" That's basically the closest thing I can imagine this drink being named to "Sex on the Beach".

3. Holy Water

Garbage. Just total garbage. The worst part about this is, I worked in a bar where this was literally the most popular chick drink. Now-a-days, I've noticed that girls generally have much more classier taste buds than boys, and the usual stereotypes of manly drinks and womanish drinks can actually be flip flopped, to more accurately reflect the genders. Come to think of it, a lot of guys used to order these too. Things sure are different bartending in the hinterland, where everyone is white trash and drinks Sex in the City drinks, regardless of gender. Red sour puss, blue curacao and 7 up. Sounds like purple drank to me.

2. Long Island Iced Tea

Who are we trying to kid? Long Islands look like shit.
Seriously, what is even the point? Four types of clear spirits and triple sec with lime and coke. Pretty sure you could substitute the spirits with anything at this point and not tell the difference. People are so particular about this crap drink too. And of course, it's just a gimmick to sell that cheap Long Island mix that comes in a plastic bottle. But it doesn't even taste good! Is that really what you're craving? An overpriced heinz 57 mixture of alcohol with lime juice and coke? What a waste of money!

1. Spiced Rum and Coke

My hate of high balls brings this drink to the top, despite that "anything and coke" is already an entry. One time while I was gig bartending, a double spiced rum and coke came up. I made it and the guest brought it back complaining it wasn't spiced rum so I gave the rum and coke separately when I sent it back out. Half an hour later, the same fucking thing happens with the same guy! What the hell! Sadly, this is just how spiced rum dorks are, all the time. This loser was just bent out of shape because we used Sailor Jerry's, which is 10 percent higher abv, meaning he could taste the alcohol. Since its a little bit stronger, he thought it tasted too much like real rum. Pussy.
Wouldn't you much rather have a drink like this, than a spiced rum and coke?

Honorable Mention

Hot Toddy

The only reason I don't list this is because I don't even consider this to be a thing. To my understanding, a hot toddy is a loose idea of mixing citrus, tea and spirits, which just happens to be a specific drink here in Vancouver (or wherever else). If you order one here, you'll likely get a blended Scotch, red rose tea and lemon. If you order one from me, I'll probably ask you very specifically how you want it prepared. What kind of tea, for starters. And well, I'll actually assume you want Scotch, but in a better world I would not have to assume! So I guess I'll only really ask you to specify the tea, but still!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Booker's Bourbon Review

A few things about Booker's

Booker's is the highest proof product in the Jim Beam line of "small batch bourbons". It's a cask strength bourbon, which is honestly, pretty damn awesome. Make sure to add water when you're drinking, because you'll likely go into shock or something if you drink this like you would drink any other whiskey. My bottle is 62.35%. Your bottle might not necessarily be the same. That's the beauty of a small batch cask strength bourbon!

So where does it get it's name? Well, Jim Beam's grandson is named Booker Noe, and this is his small batch bourbon. Pretty cool, eh?

Booker's Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Booker's Bourbon is a pretty awesome and manly bourbon. It has a lot of burn, being at cask strength, but right out of the bottle it has strong spice notes and hints of leather. As you pour water into the glass, bringing it down to roughly 40% abv, the burn backs off a lot, and the nose brightens with baking spices, including cloves, vanilla and all spice.

Tobacco and charcoal oak peak through a corn dominated body, while baking spices from the nose continue. There is a sweetness, that tastes of dried dates, or prunes, and maple syrup.

The finish brings back the spice notes that were there throughout the tasting, along with a scotch like smoke. Also dotting the finish are citrus notes and pepper. A lot of length and complexity in the finish.


Friday, June 12, 2015

"Know Thyself"

My last article concerned classical Greek philosophy, and so, by the gods, this one will too.

Another lesson from classical Greece, with yours truly.
The words "Know Thyself" were famously inscribed on a stone that used to reside at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. They became the most well known of 147 Delphic Maxims,  believed to have been given to use by Apollo at the Oracle of Delphi. The saying was also famed in Lacedaemon (Sparta), a city state whose populace is unfairly remembered for being a country of mindless, brutish defenders of a tyrannical and xenophobic state. They're also remembered for disappearing and becoming obscure in history because of a lack of democracy and philosophy, which Athens is remembered for.

Truly, the historical losers never seem to receive justice in history. Perhaps we have a cultural desire to see the winners of history as having a similar culture to our own. But then, we hardly acknowledge the submission of Athens by Macedon and Rome; both had elements of democracy but were dynastic at the core. What did the contemporaries think of their Lacedaemonian rivals, though?

What's left of Sparta, from the time of Socrates.

"Sparti in-river-Eurotas-valley flanked-by-Taygetos-mountains"
ulrichstill - Own work. Licensed under 

CC BY-SA 2.0 de via Wikimedia Commons.
Socrates explains of a Sparta who along with Crete are the original modern philosophers of his time. Similarly, contemporaries of the time explain of a Lacedaemonian culture who educates both women and men in reading and writings. Women also are trained similarly in the strict military regimen of Spartan males. Chilon of Sparta is remembered as one of the seven sages of Greece, and was democratically elected as an ephor (a fancy Spartan word for politician) by the Lacedaemonians. Lycurgus, who is credited for transforming Sparta into one of the military superpowers of its time created a system of law and governance that valued equality, military fitness and austerity. He left his post as King of Sparta to travel the world and learn about what sort of Reforma he would need in order to craft Sparta into the society we remember it as today. He visited the Oracle of Delphi where he was said to receive answers to his questions.

How to find a job in travel. 

One likely result of Lycurgus visiting Delphi was an appropriation of some strong worded Delphic

The temple of Apollo, at Delphi
"Columns of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece"
Patar knight - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Maxims,  such as "Know thyself". Socrates lauds Spartan philosophy, which includes the use of sayings such as "Know thyself", which he likens to a bowstring which is composed of twisted up string, that are shorter and stronger than they were in their natural state. He himself refers often to the saying almost like a personal mantra, believing that he cannot know other things when he doesn't even know himself.

Being aware and thinking about quotes like this can be useful for a bartender. Aside from creating the appearance that you are the thinking man (or woman), quotes can be a good talking piece. There are a few quotes, such as this one, that stand up to the test of time, though. The reason that quotes like "Know thyself" endure for so long is that they both require a certain level of insight into yourself and the meaning of the proverb, which make them useful to anyone; not JUST bartenders.

I know that I'm a bartender....
Philosophers of antiquity believed - among other things - that the proverb meant to know your limitations and capabilities. I've said in the past to avoid promising more than you can deliver, and that goes without saying here too. Considering the quote may reveal that you are weak in areas where you need to be stronger, or that you need to readjust short term goals. Other considerations may help you be less apathetic and more understanding of people; after all, it's one desire that you can empathize better with people when you can relate to them, and perhaps a little soul searching can help with that too.

It's no wonder that the Greeks thought this maxim was so profound, because it's a veritable gold mind. You cn reap the benefits of this quote, in the form of a wealth of antiquitous wealth of self understanding. Or you can just use it because it's a cool quote, and can instigate discussion at your bar. But take heed reader, whatever the reason for your usage; take heed.... to know thyself.

Sorry folks. I had to do it.

Friday, May 29, 2015

"He is a wise man who invented beer" - Plato

For claiming not to know anything, this dude
knew more about the universe than pretty much
most of society today.
The famous and beloved barkeep's platonic quote is a strong statement, which also communicates a certain level of intellectualism. After all, who has the time to scour through the platonic dialogues in order to find a cherry picked quote? As it turns out, I am one such bar man.

I've been reading Plato lately. Not because of the quote, but rather, because "Why not?" In fact, the quote is of little interest to me, because I already know that Plato never wrote those things down in any of his dialogues. And of course, the reason I know, is because I saw the quote before and decided to look it up on the Google. As it turns out, in none of Plato's dialogues is the word beer ever even mentioned. You can imagine the feelings of embarrassment that creeped into my head when my former place of employment decided to add the quote, and credit to Plato, to the cocktail menu.

The french have a saying for this, and it is "Le sigh."

Nevertheless, it is not only a good quote, but it is also true. Beer certainly is a wise invention to the people who enjoy it, and therefore, the creator of the fine draught must also be wise! Or well... actually, I guess it's more likely that beer was discovered by accident, similarly to the other fermented goodies that we enjoy, such as wine. So I suppose that you can't really call the inventor wise in that regard. But one thing you could say, is that they were definitely in the right place at the right time! And because they witnessed that relatively common of biochemical reactions, we can all get drunk whenever we please!

Well, we can always take solace in the idea that if Plato is half as smart as the people who believed in this misquote,
then he'd probably be about as smart as most of us are today. And he might also drink obnoxious amounts of beer and say,
"Dude, bro! Look at that quote I made!"
Well, not whenever we please, but whenever we are able to, I suppose.

"He is a wise man who invented Lamb sandwiches" ~ Moses
While beer is indeed good, and Plato might agree with us about the quality of taste, one other point of agreement he might have with us is that there isn't any wisdom in discovering beer. In fact, one of the take home messages of Plato's early writings, the Socratic dialogues, is that are no wise people. Socrates (to whom Plato was a pupil and associate) was sentenced to death, defending his accusations that the people who claim to be wise aren't wise, and the wisest of them all is himself, for being the only person to realize that he has no wisdom at all; being the only person aware and willing to admit of his own ignorance, he is better off than those who claim to be wise.

So Plato most likely never called anyone wise on behalf of inventing beer. But to speak as Plato would, I would like to make an inquiry in regard to whether it's possible that Plato could have said such a thing, outside of his dialogues? Since Plato - frequently writing in the voice of Socrates - would caveat many of his arguments with flattering comments regarding the wisdom of his arguers, it is possible that he may have said such a thing regarding one who brews beer. But we must also assent to the fact that it was a frequent mode of both Plato and Socrates to compliment their arguers in such a way regarding the arts or sciences that they held dear, only to tear them down later in the argument. So in regard to that format of argument, it's doubtful that Plato would have thought someone was wise for inventing beer, but it is possible that he had said it and that someone would have taken his comment out of context in regard to his larger argument.

Little known fact. Plato also used a beer cozy. 
Plato most likely never called someone wise for inventing beer. In fact, the earlier mentioned Google search revealed that Plato never even spoke about beer, which in my own reading of Plato I can also acknowledge. Although, it is a good line, so I may continue using it. Of course, I'll use it with the caveat of my own; "Words which Plato never uttered."

Friday, May 8, 2015

9 Cocktails You Should Know in Vancouver

Cocktail culture is booming in Vancouver. Much like many metropolitan areas in the United States, it's pulling from a number of already established cultures of yore. New Orleans, the classic prohibition era, and tiki. For this reason I've decided to put together a list of the cocktails that you have to know in order to survive bartending in Vancouver. There won't be any paralyzers, Pina coladas or strawberry daiquiris on this list (however, it doesn't hurt to know these things anyway).

9. The Shirley Temple

Since I don't approve of Shirley Temples,
here's a Tequila Martini!
Let's get something straight at the onset here. I hate making Shirley Temples. They're essentially a child's drink that's made out to be a cocktail. And, parents being the responsible jerks that they are want to expose their children to cocktail culture in virgin form. Traditionally, it's orange juice, 7 up, and grenadine. But it also normally gets the disgusting maraschino cherry topper, skewered through an orange wheel or something. I hope you're wearing gloves because those cherries will stain your fingers.

Try twisting it up by giving an adult take on the famous virgin drink. A dash of orange flavored bitters, and swapping the 7 up with club soda will do you a world of good. Also do something like 4 times as much soda than orange juice, instead of the regular half and half. As for the grenadine.... well it sort of makes the drink, but pom will also give it an interesting look and flavor. When topping with garnish throw away your crap cherries and opt for real cherries from the produce department, and some orange zest.

8. Frozen Margaritas

So I gotta say... Mexican Bulldogs...
So awesome.
As a hot tourist destination, due in part to the lovely Vancouver beaches, margaritas are a tourist favorite. I have to say though, it is a bit weird because it never really gets all that hot in Vancouver, and people tend to prefer them in the frozen variety. I for one prefer them shaken, but since this list is not about my prefeerence, I recommend you get used to making them.

A normal margarita gets an ounce and a half of tequila and half an ounce of triple sec. I should add here that Grand Marnier works better, though it is pricy. Again, the standard is two ounces of lime juice and an ounce of simple syrup, and then you can blend using some ice cubes. If you opt to blend, make sure to add more ice as you go until you get a desired consistency. You can also try substituting the sweet and sour mix by pureeing various fruits, like banana, pinapple, or even kiwi, and throwing In different types of syrup, such as coconut or passionfruit.

7. The Cosmopolitan

That Cosmo! This one actually has Litchi in it, so
it's not totally my kind of thing.
What's a little sex in the city without a Cosmopolitan? And as ashamed as I am to be ashamed make to ask that question there's no shame in being able to make ashamed make a good cosmo. A lot of restaurants and bars of their own take on the cosmo, where they add their own little twist. Usually this something along the lines of using blue curacao to make the drink purple, or adding some random infused vodka. I don't recommend straying from the original though, unless you come up with something truly ground breaking.

A cosmo is quite simple. An ounce and a half of vodka and half of triple sec, an ounce of each lime juice, simple syrup and cranberry juice, shake, strain, garnish and voila! And if you were expecting a way to twist it up, like the previous cocktails you can forget about it.... well okay, the blue curacao thing isn't bad, and there are ways to make this cocktail work using grapefruit juice. But that's all you'll get from me!

6.The Martini

This is a Martini. Note: no bullshit.
Just like every other half classy city in the world, the Martini makes the list. There's nothing complicated here, and if I was hesitant to offer a twist on the Cosmopolitan, it goes doubly so with the Martini. Hell, I don't even like to use vodka in my Martinis, opting for the original gin version. And of course, weaker tongue individuals will have their dirty versions, but I'll stick to the standard.

The original martini calls for an ounce and a half of gin, and a half an ounce of dry vermouth.  I prefer to stir mine, but they're okay shaken as long as one double strains to compensate for ice chunks. And then there's the ever famed muddled ice martini, in the style of Bruno, bartender of Zam Zam and San Francisco bartending fame. It tastes no different than any other martini, but I have to say there's something more rewarding about making a martini this way. Perhaps it's all in the fact that by doing so, I'm doing something that so few others do?

5. The Manhattan

How can you have a list with the martini on it, and not the Manhattan? Well save for a gin cocktails you have to know list, anyway. The Manhattan is often referred to as the Martini of rye whiskey. I don't like to think of it that way, but I will grant that it's a pretty good comparison.

This is how I like my Manhattans. Pretty awesome, right?
The traditional methods of drinking this cocktail called for it on the rocks, and some people still like to do it that way, though, the popular method is to put it in a Martini, which fully realizes the false equivalency that this is a Martini with rye. Being that this is a whiskey cocktail, I readily scoff at the prospect of putting this in a flared rim glass. Whiskey has a delicate and pleasant nose, which needs to be funneled by the likes of an wine glass, glencairn or brandy glass. For the Manhattan though I prefer to use a snifter. I find that it has the perfect volume for the way I like them.

An ounce and a half of rye, half an ounce of sweet vermouth and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Like the Martini, I prefer it stirred and then strained. But no maraschino cherries for this one. Stick to lemon or orange peel, to complement the rye. Or if you're particularly daring, you can brandy marinate your own cherries. Don't be afraid to try different bitters and vermouth. While Martini rosso is a quality product, Cinzano or Punt E Mes can be even better.

4. The French 75

This French 75 was made using Earl Grey infused Gin.
I was debating even including this one, instead, opting to out the Mimosa on the list. I mean who are we kiddinf? Mimosas are better known and more popular than the French 75. But since this list is going on a stylish streak, I'm just gonna assume everyone knows what goes into a Mimosa, but not necessarily a French 75. In reality, the reason I included this is because I see it as being similar but superior to the mimosa. Not necessarily because to absolutely HAVE to know what it is. That said, brunch is very popular in Vancouver,  and I most definitely encourage you to move your guests away from their Sunday Spumante and orange juice.

It's a similar kind of cocktail as the mimosa, calling for sparkling wine. The popular,  and affordable way is to choose a California Prossecco, but traditionally they are a French creation, and Champagne is the preferred method, if you can stomach using Champagne in a cocktail. Add an ounce of gin and half an ounce of triple sec with some lemon juice and a bit of simple syrup. Shake to your heart's content, and then strain into a flute before topping with your bubbly. I recommend garnishing with a long twirled lemon spiral zest.

3. Mojito

I have to tell you guys... a spiced rum Mojito is pretty
off the balls awesome.
This is another cocktail where I'm going to urge you to stick with the traditional recipe. But in all honesty, different versions of the Mojito can work real well, as long as there's no extra sugar added. Read: no packaged purees! There are also ways to make a Mojito into a delicious beer cocktail, which I'll have room elaborate sometime in another post.

For a true Mojito start off by muddling a healthy handful of mint with a bit of granulated sugar. The mint is the most important flavor of this cocktail, so make sure it's good quality! No black spots, or soggy leaves here!

Next add two ounces of white rum, an ounce of lime juice and an ounce of simple syrup and shake. Pour into a Collins glass and top with soda water to finish your concoction. If you're going to opt for the popular raspberry Mojito, I'd recommend muddling real raspberries with the mint, and using Bacardi Black Razz.

2. The Old Fashioned

I like my Old Fashioned to be indistinguishable
from my Manhattans. Big whoop?! Wanna fight
about it?!
The cocktail that started it all I guess. This is your go to for enjoying a good bourbon, and possibly the most popular classic cocktail in Vancouver. There's a lot of debate about what a true Old Fashioned was like in its time, but the most reliable sources say the four constituent ingredients are sugar, water, bitters and whiskey.

I've written about this one before,  and you can get the full story there. As for how to prepare it? Take a teaspoon of sugar, or a sugar cube, pour a few dashes of Angostura bitters onto it, add a teaspoon of water and stir to your heart's content. Or, rather, stir till the sugar is fully devolved. And two ounces of whiskey and your done. The familiar ice and orange zest are optional.  Personally I prefer mine neat, with a lemon zest. It should also be noted that you can enjoy an Old Fashioned with pretty much any spirit that isn't neutral flavored.

1. The Caesar

Note: A good caesar can be an entire meal!
I'm going to be honest with you. I wasn't sure whether to even put this in the list. It sort of goes without saying that every bartender needs to know how to make a Caesar. But I suppose that this cocktail essentially wraps up the cocktail culture of Canada, it has to be done. Whether you do it or not at your bar, that's totally up to the owners I suppose (there are places that refuse to make them).

Rim a glass with celery salt, and an ounce of vodka, a few dashes of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, fill with clamato juce and garnish with whatever ridiculous machinations you can come up with.

And there you have it.

Honorable mention: the Negroni.

In truth I prefer the Negroni to both of the gin cocktails on this list. That being said, this is a list for the masses! The Negroni is still a drink of the niche sophisticated croud.

This is not just any Negroni... it's a Negroni Spagliato! Basically that means I topped a Negroni with Spumante.

Friday, May 1, 2015

How not to drink espresso

Before I get started, I want to caveat the premise of my post with the usual ego deflating explanation. People like what they like. I can't tell them that what they like is wrong, but nevertheless, there are certain things I can't stand, and I believe that if the person knew what I knew, they would do things differently. So, with my own self admitted judginess laid bare for what it is, I just want to reiterate that it even though I react this way, I don't think there's anything wrong with people liking what they like, and if anything I'm the one who should be shamed, for being so particular and narcissistic.

With all that said, the skinny latte crowd really grind my gears.
I can appreciate a good espresso coffee. I like Americanos, and Cappuccino, and although Lattes aren't my thing, I can appreciate and respect them for what they are. That said, if you're watching your weight - like a lot of us, including myself - a skinny latte isn't going to help you much. And it also tastes like shit. If you're really that desperate to cut back on your liquid calories, how about you just go for the superior tasting and lower calorie Cappuccino, or, better yet, you can be a normal grown up and get a regular coffee.

Then there's decaf, which for as much as I dislike the idea or taking the drug out of our favorite caffeine delivery method, I can still understand it. Coffee tastes good. You want to give up the stimulant and still have your coffee. So what on Earth is there for me to complain about it if I can understand why it's a thing?

Decaf Americanos. What's the point? just get a regular decaf drip coffee for half the price. One of the key differences between espresso and regular drip coffee is that it's supposed to be more concentrated in flavor, but turning it into a regular coffee, ala the Americano essentially gives you a lower caffeine option to drip coffee, without giving up the caffeine entitely. The moment you opt for a decaf Americano, you're destroying everything that makes espresso preferable to regular coffee in the first place. There's something our there for you decaf Americano fans. It's half the price, for the same volume, gives you the same results and it goes by the name decaf coffee. Anything else and you're just paying for the image of being someone who orders espresso drinks. Espresso is supposed to be associated with a certain quality of flavor. Not pretentiousness.

And while we're on the topic of decaf, so you know what else grinds my gears?! People who order decaf and then load it up with sugar. Normally people give up caffeine because they're trying to get rid of the dependence on a stimulant. So it's perplexing when they replace the stimulating effect of caffeine with the stimulating effect of sugar, which, on top of giving you a sugar high, can also have other notable effects on your health, the least of which being, it contributes to weight gain. So it's the same as caffeine, but it also contributes to ruining your teeth, messed up blood sugar levels, and making you fat.

Okay okay. Maybe they still want their coffee to taste palatable without having caffeine, right? Well I'm going to start by saying grow the fuck up and drink your coffee black, or, if that's not an option, use splenda, vanilla, or cocoa to flavor your coffee. Seriously, those are all good no calorie options that most coffee shops have available.


With all that out of the way, if you still want to drink coffee in the way that I claim is asinine, then have at it Hoss. One irritable bartender who disagrees with the Burger King slogan "Have it your way", trying to alter everything on every menu shouldn't dictate what and how you drink. Ultimately you know what you like better than anyone else.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

How to make the Benton Park Swizzle

There once was a cocktail called the Queen's Park Swizzle. It carried all of the familiar ingredients of the Mojito, but with the addition of Angostura Bitters, floated on the top. And well, I suppose it calls for crushed ice, specifically, and typically has the mint leaves sunken on the bottom. But these are just minor details!

The Benton Park Swizzle looks pretty damn classy. Doesn't it?
One day, someone decided to create the same cocktail, but by floating Fernet, rather than Angostura. The variation was named the Benton Park Swizzle. And it's featured today on the Bottle Opener. Where did it come from? Nobody knows... Or, I don't at least. After roughly 5 minutes of intense research, I could find no original source for this cocktail. But learn how to make it below!

The Benton Park Swizzle
  • 2 oz Amber Rum
  • 1/2 oz Fernet Branca
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • 3/4 oz Lime Juice
  • 8-12 Mint Leaves
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge and Mint Sprig
Start off by muddling the mint leaves in simple syrup to a mixing glass, and then add lime juice and rum. Stir the ingredients around a bit, and pour it into your cocktail glass, with the addition of crushed ice. Stir the cocktail a bit again, and prop the leaves up on the side of the glass for added theater. Top the rest of the glass with ice, and garnish with lime wedges (you can put one in the drink if you wish) and a mint sprig, before floating the lovable Fernet Branca on top.

And as always, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Career Bartending Part 2; Make a Manga Resume Using the Instamag App

In my last article about resumes, I talked about how to develop skills, and show a level of professionalism that'll help you stand out in a sea of flashy smiles and rocket scientists (okay... maybe not that last one...) This time, I'm going to guide you to the realm of putting your resume out on Social Media, or how to use Social Media to make an attention grabbing resume. Specifically, I'll be looking at how to make a resume using the Instamag app for Android and iOS.

This is one of the icons for Instamag.
Am I the only one who sees a creepy
robot eye?
Instamag is a pretty cool app, designed for taking a series of photos and turning them into a magazine. You can use any number of the built in templates to create different styles of gimmicky magazine resumes, but I decided to start with the Manga template. Why did I go with this template? Because it conveys a number of things about me that I want to be communicated in my resume. First of all, I am a geek, and I love geek culture, which extends to both comic books, and Japanese pop culture. You may think that this sort of mind set clashes with all the hoopla I raised about professionalism in my last post, but that's a grave mistake. I'm communicating my creativity, and my ability to think outside of the box, and also setting a standard for what kind of person I am, and will continue to be in my career. It also continues on the train of thought of trying to get into your ideal working situation, hopefully, by surrounding yourself with like minded individuals.

If I could make this image my resume, I would.
This image contains I want you to know about me!
it also communicates nothing about me.
Once you select this particular template, you can continue by adding 3 to 7 photos, per page. For text portions, I took screen shots of stylized text in various documents, and took a screenshot of my personal website (thomasgoodine.com), and set them up on two pages. I also added some photos of cocktails I've made, which shows some proof of my ability to bartender. It can sometimes be weird attaching a photo of you behind the wood, but in a picture heavy resume like this, it's perfectly normal. Well, as normal as normal gets in a manga resume, anyway.

I also included one screen cap from Archer, which may be a little bit risque; I decided to roll with it in this version of the resume, anyway, but beware of using humor like this. It can cause a lot of damage to your efforts. This particular image contains a scene in Archer, with a screen cap "Sour mix? In a Margarita? What is this, Auschwitz!" Hilarious to me. Perhaps hilarious to you. Not necessarily hilarious to Mr. Finkelstein. Heck, it would be downright offensive to a lot of people who either don't agree with, or care about the context. Use images like this with caution!

If the person reading your resume is a fan of Sterling Archer, this could go over very well.
Or not.
Another thing that makes Instamag's Manga templates great is that you can add stickers and speech bubbles. In this way, I can narrate certain images in my resume to portray my voice, and add yet another level of humor. You may be scratching your head and asking why to use so much humor when you're trying to look professional. Well, it's simple, really. If you can make someone laugh - not at your misery, but at your sense of humor and ability to make light of yourself - then you are speaking to their heart and soul in some ways. Taking yourself seriously is pretty important, but if you take yourself too seriously all the time, you'll just seem like a stuck-up douchebag. Who wants to hire that guy or gal?

This is one of the few still photos of
me bartending. It's not the greatest photo,
so I'm not shy to make a point of making
fun of myself.
When you come up with a template that you like, save it to your Google Drive (or whatever the hell cloud service you're using to back up your stuff) and circulate it to your personal computer. Make a long version of your manga by using an application like GIMP, and then upload it to Pinterest, with appropriate keywords. Take various screen caps from your resume and post them to your Instagram, completing the resume over time. Make sure that when you do this, you leave information for how to get in contact with you, such as your e-mail address, your personal website address, or your LinkedIn page. You can also add your resume to that blog I told you to make last time. Sort of like how I'm adding my resume here.

Lastly, don't forget to network with people on these various social networking services, or contact people from your existing network and ask them to take a look at your resume. Don't be afraid to get an opinion about the resume from your former bosses or references. Ask them if they'd hire you if they got a resume like that, and if not, ask them where you went wrong.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Yukon Shine Auragin Review

A few things about Yukon Shine Distillery

Yukon Shine Distillery was brought into existence as the brain child of Karlo Krauzig. In 2009 he started the distillery, and today it is represented by two spirits (a vodka and gin) containing a three grain spirit blend, with the premier ingredient being Yukon gold potatoes fom the Yukon. During the filtration process, the spirits are also filtered through Yukon gold nuggets, producing a product that truly is of the Yukon in as many areas as possible.

My experience with Yukon Shine

I exhibited three cocktails for Yukon Shine
at the Art of the Cocktail in Victoria.
In 2014 I decided that I wanted to take a more active role in the craft spirits scene in Vancouver. This started when I tried out for a cocktail competition in July 2014. The competition was put on by the Gin Society and the Canadian Professional Bartending Association at Grain Bar in the Hyatt Regency of downtown Vancouver. I submitted a cocktail recipe using Yukon Shine's Auragin and I was chosen to represent them at the event. I went on to win the third place prize at that event.

I went on to represent Yukon Shine twice more. In the first instance, I went to Victoria to exhibit three craft cocktails using the Yukon Shine products at the Art of the Cocktail event in August. My last opportunity to represent Yukon Shine was in November, at the BC Connect trade show, in Vancouver.

Over this time period, I've gotten to know the products quite well.

Yukon Shine Auragin

Auragin is Canada's own award winning microdistilled gin. Quite frankly, I believe that it is the best Canadian gin, and ranks fairly high against other top rated gins out there.

The first thing you'll notice about the nose is that the recognizable juniper odor is much less prominent than your standard London Dry Gins. With this one, there is the familiar essence of coriander, but the most relevant aroma is that of citrus peels. While most of the botanicals are sourced directly from the Yukon, obviously the addition of grapefruit peel is one of the few ingredients that come from another place. Nevertheless, the grapefruit, and lemon zest are a welcomed scent among the more earthier spice tones.

The citrus comes off even stronger in the body, and lingers throughout the finish. Watering the spirit down tones the juniper even more, and notes of anise, licorice, vanilla, and pepper appear in the mid body. The finish is somewhat short, though, pleasant. One would wish the finish to be somewhat longer, as it is such a smooth experience throughout the tasting.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Forgetfully, Fernet: an unforgettably instant classic

That subtitle is a little cheesy, right? Regardless of that, we're just gonna say "forget about it" as we move on to the history of this gingery lemon menthol cocktail.

The Who/What/Where/When/Why of Forgetfully, Fernet?

Unlike the previous Fernet cocktails that have graced the page of The Bottle Opener, Forgetfully, Fernet is a recent creation. First mixed by Gina Chersavani of the Eddy Bar, Washington, D.C. Forgetfully, Fernet was recognized by Tasting Table as one of the best new cocktails of 2012. The cocktail boasts the claim of being a hangover treatment, which is absolutely appealing for obvious reasons. It possesses the potent additions of ginger and lemon juice, along with the hair of the dog in the form of Irish Whiskey and Fernet Branca. Fernet itself is titled as a purported hangover cure, containing many botanicals, herbs, and spices which have been shown to have recuperative applications.


  • 1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 1 oz of ground ginger
  • 1 oz of lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz of simple syrup
  • 2 cups of ice
  • 1 oz of Fernet Branca
  • 1 sprig of mint

How to Prepare Forgetfully, Fernet

  1. Start by adding Irish Whiskey, ground ginger, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a mixing glass. (Note: If making simple syrup from scratch, add two sugar cubes or two teaspoons of sugar, and stir vigorously with 2 teaspoons of water. Use a combination of white and brown sugar for a desirable taste and sweetness.)
  2. Add ice to mixing glass, and pour contents into blender. Start pureeing the mixture to desired consistency. Add a few more ice cubes if not thick enough to create a pile of slush.
  3.  Add to your favorite medium to tall cocktail glass, and pour Fernet Branca around the rim of the glass.
  4. Garnish with a mint sprig, and sprinkle with fine sugar if cocktail is too tart.
As always, have fun, and enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Taboo Absinthe

A few things about Absinthe

After nearly a century of prohibition throughout the developed world, absinthe is the source of much mystery, urban legend, and well, what I would call pseudo-science. Absinthe has gotten a bad wrap for being a hallucinogenic substance, and cause for reprehensible behavior. So what's true, and what's false? Well, it can be difficult to look back through the lens of history and posit what was untrue, and why it was thought to be untrue, but modern scientific and historical investigation has cleared much of the mist surrounding absinthe's cloudy past.

Absinthe rose to popularity in France during the late 1800s and early 1900s, before being banned throughout much of Europe and the United States from 1900-1916. It's popularity was credited partially to the Bohemian counter-culture movement that produced artistic minds such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Oscar Wilde, and Ernest Hemingway, among others, who also indulged in The Green Fairy. It's popularity continued to grow throughout France and Europe, to the point that it became a part of mainstream culture (as opposed to the secret drink of the Bohemians).

This was only my second time with
the Green Fairy.
When French grape yields became prey to phylloxera, damaging wine production, the shortage of wine obviously drove other forms of libation into the mainstream, one of these being Absinthe. It is believed that part of the taboo that was attached to Absinthe was encouraged by competing wine producers. The addition of the active ingredient thujone, in wormwood, created an image of wormwood being an illicit substance to be abused by the masses. Thujone was believed to be toxic, and a hallucinogen, although, recent studies have shown that it is neither of those, nor there is enough thujone in wormwood to create any sort of high that may have once been believed. In fact, common sage, has higher level of thujone than wormwood, yet, it is consumed freely.

The above factors in part led to absinthe being pegged as a scapegoat for rising crime rates, and deplorable behavior. In truth, any effects of Absinthe on the mind can be safely attributed to the effects of the hard drug know as alcohol. In modern times, myths have been dispelled and Absinthe culture has seen a revival. New Absinthes have arisen, and old Absinthes have been reproduced through historical record. There are now dozens of Absinthe brands available to the public.

Taboo Absinthe

In Canada, the Okanagan Spirits Distillery has produced a fine green Absinthe which they call Taboo, named with respect to wormwood as the taboo ingredient of Absinthe. The contents are bottled at 60% in a 500 mL bottle, putting it at around the same alcohol content as a standard 80 proof bottling at 750 mL. The bottle also contains a list of ingredients and an explanation of the traditional method to indulge in Absinthe, adding droplets of cold water to dilute the spirit, and create the cloudy  that reveals a quality Absinthe.

Louche refers to the cloudiness that appears once you add cold water to the spirit. Its comparable to the cloudiness of nigori Sake, milky in consistency. The high alcohol content of Absinthe has the effect of trapping molecules in the liquid, until it is diluted with a fair amount of water, which is known to be a good solution for chemical reactions. The watering down of Taboo releases essential oils, and flavor molecules of the herbs used in the maceration process during distillation, and the later steeping of herbs that comes after distillation.

The nose is typically licorice before louche, and after reveals somewhat of a nuanced sweetness, suggesting a candy-like taste. On the palette it is a soft expression of bitter-sweet, and heavily anised experience. The anise notes are not to the extremity of liqueurs such as Jagermeister, however.

Not having much experience with Absinthe, I will be foregoing the rating of this product, and thus the rating is:


Monday, March 16, 2015

Molecular Gastronomy and Mixology

The culinary arts world has been colliding with the art of bartending since before those two terms have existed. It's all been culminating in the past decade with the expansion of Internet connectivity and thus access to information. Much like the growth of the craft beer and spirits scene, due in part to Internet, the craft cocktail scene has been expanding as well.
Awe yeah. Look at those platters! Chocolate fondue time!
Professional bartenders are like jacks of all trades in their industry. They need a little bit of everything and a wide breadth of knowledge in order to stay relevant. Enter molecular gastronomy; essentially the science of cooking.

This is what Spanish Coffee looks like if you turn
it into spaghetti.
The use of the word mixology has some implicit level of sciencey built into it. The culture itself is steeped in different scientific aspects of cooking, but combining it with molecular gastronomy is another step in the direction of both obscurity and artistry.

A few tactics of molecular gastronomy can provide more novelty to the experience of the cocktail drinker. Through gelification you can turn sweet cocktails into dessert hors d'oeuvres to pass around while guests sip on appertifs. By adding agar agar to your Spanish coffees, for example, you can shoot them through tubes and solidify them into spaghetti.

Reverse spherification is awesome for shots
while spherification makes little Roe like pearls
Possibly much more interesting are the processes of spherification and reverse spherification. By adding the brown algae extract known as sodium alginate to your liquids and dunking small drops of it into a calcium lactate glutonate (perhaps through a squeeze bottle) you can create small roe like spheres in a process called spherification. The process has obvious uses for the bartender, as garnish. 
The reverse method, mixing liquids with calcium lactate and dunking into a bath of sodium alginate can produce larger spheres containing alcohol. A perfect gimmick for creating new shots.

The downside to these methods is preparation time and precision. Much like the baker, the molecular gastronomist will have to measure out ingredients by the gram, or risk ruining the whole batch. Mixtures must also be purified of air bubbles,  which means either using expensive vacuum equipment or letting liquids sit overnight. Demineralized water must also be used, for obvious reasons.
Shots shots shots!
If the photos and suggestions in this article are too tempting, stay tuned for my next update on molecular gastronomy where I show you how to do it. Wait for my instructional videos and articles in the coming weeks and months folks!
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