Telling You What's Good

Drinks

Pouring Ribbons, Cocktail Alchemy

New York’s a city with no shortage of mixology bars, cocktail bars, or so-called speakeasies (shudder). I previously said that Little Branch is the best bar I’ve ever been to, but Pouring Ribbons, a new joint in Alphabet City not even open yet for two weeks, has stepped up to offer worthy competition. While sipping a brilliantly mixed original drink, my friendly bartender mentioned it was only their eighth night open. It’s clear that they’re off to a running start.

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Whisky Cafe Montreal: Churchill’s Delight

“Scotchy scotch scotch”, so quoth the anchorman.  So serveth Whisky Café in the Mile End of Montreal.  Over 150 single malts – staggering.  Also quite a lot of other aged brown booze (cognac, rum, port, etc), as well as a separate cigar room with numerous classics from Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, and others (Havana of course). They offer tasting flights of whiskies, arranged by distiller or region, as well as whisky and cigar pairings.

The main bar is reminiscent of a classic, elegant French café, the cigar room more a clubby, plush den.  Both very nice (though definitely stay in the main area if you don’t smoke, as the air in the latter area is quite thick). 

café

cigar den

All in all a very distinctive place, the only such of its kind in Montréal, it seems, and truly a world class whisky selection. As it happens, it won the Canadian Whisky Bar of the Year award in 2008Try the Lagavullin 16, it’s peated perfection. Here’s just the single malt menu:

Sir Winston Churchill, in all his whisky-guzzling, cigar chugging Hard Ballerness, would approve.

Bonus: across the street is the Royal Phoenix Bar, which is to be entered at your discretion, but by all means stand on the street corner and watch the parade of alternative young Montreal life stream forth from it – black, white, straight, gay, girls, guys, and almost everybody dressed and decorated off the wall and mashed up.  Pure entertainment!

Whisky Café
5800 Boulevard St. Laurent
Montreal


Georgian Wine at its Best: Pheasant’s Tears

I’ve said Georgia is the place for wine. The oldest evidence for wine-making has been found in Georgia, dating back to 8000 years ago, and wine has been in steady production there since then. Even their indigenous word for wine, ghvino, is thought to have influenced Indo-European languages – vinum (Latin), oinos (Greek), and, of course, vino (Spanish, Italian, Russian, etc).  As of 6000 years ago, the people now called Georgians essentially created the method of winemaking that remains in use today. For those Georgians who make wine at home, they follow roughly the same procedure. Almost all commercial wine, however, has begun to be made using Western European methods, in an effort to appeal to a global palate. Appealing they are, some even excellent. Pheasant’s Tears has stuck to the ways of their distant ancestors, and their wines are nothing short of amazing.

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Serious Eats on DC Beer Gardens

Want all the outdoorsy fun of a rooftop but feeling lazy and want a seat? Then you want a beer garden.  DC doesn’t have many, but the ones it has are all pretty good, summarized here by Serious Eats.  My favorites are the Standard and Biergarten Haus.  Standard has awesome barbecue, Mexican grilled corn, and freshly fried doughnuts in addition to a small but good selection of beer, but be warned: it’s crazy popular and thus very crowded.  Go around happy hour to beat the crowds.  Biergarten Haus is a more properly German kind of place and one of the best bars in the semi-hoody and often dubious (despite what the hipsters may say) H St NE – spacious, quite large list of German beers on tap, lots of German food on offer.  No food after 11pm though, so bear that in mind.

Burrs n Nomz chez Standard. Photo from Serious Eats


Alcoholic Liquid Nitrogen – The Real Daiquiri

(A continuation from yesterday’s post on the mojito)

If the mojito is liquid air conditioning on a hot day, the daiquiri is like drinking boozy liquid nitrogen, a short, sharp, shock of ultimate cold to the mojito’s enveloping effervescent coolness. Additionally, the daiquiri is a more elegant, refined drink, whereas the mojito is a bit more rustic and working class, but they’re connected regardless. Both were invented in Cuba, and both were perfected at bars that Ernest “And a Bottle of Rum” Hemingway, who drank lots of both, frequented. Before we begin, let me tell you what a daiquiri is NOT:

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Liquid A/C: The Mojito that Hemingway Loved

If you’ve been anywhere near the east coast of the US in the last few days, you know it’s hot. Viciously hot.  July hot. Fucking hot. In such dire conditions, nothing calms, soothes, and cools the soul better than a mojito – the tartness of the lime, the mintiness…of the mint, the light spritz of the soda, and of course, the lovely kick of rum allowing you to sink into a chair and forget all about the muggy misery outside. The history, etc, of the drink has been beaten to death online, so I’ll spare you.  Suffice it to say this wartime imbibement shot back to popularity in the last several years, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve for sure heard of it.  A few more thoughts on this classic, and how to make the best one after the jump.

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Buy a Case, Quick! Château Haut Blaignan 2010

Buy as much of this as you can

I make no pretensions of being a wine critic, as I find that profession mostly full of hyperbole and bullshit, and I won’t go into “bits of jam and twig with sniffles of cherry ice cream and hints of fairy breath” here. I do know a damn good wine when I drink one though, and we have a winner here: Château Haut Blaignan 2010, from Bordeaux’s elite Médoc region, home to some of France’s most superb wines.  For $7, Haut Blaignan is making a bloody good effort.  Yes, $7, if you can find at your local Trader Joe’s.  It normally retails for about $16, and I’d put it on par with $30 bottles I’ve had.  It’s really that good.  Seriously, buy a case if TJ’s has one, or just get a few bottles to enjoy at home by the fireplace or to take to a small gathering and wow the hell out of everyone with your awesome erudition in oenology.  Cheers!