'My Isolation Station,' home-built bar and spirits library with 4,000 bottles

Some people take their libations and isolations very seriously. Read the rest

These festive cocktails will kick your holiday celebrations up a notch

The holidays can be a boozy time of year for many people. Even though I'm on four different medications with labels stating that I shouldn't drink alcohol while taking them, I still like the occasional nip—I mean, If I don't wash the pills down, I'm technically not drinking while taking the meds, right? Going in for a bit of spiked eggnog, homemade Irish cream in your coffee or a bit of dark rum in a mug of hot chocolate are obvious choices for blustery, cold, northern hemisphere revels. However, I don't think that anyone can argue that such traditional concoctions can be a little boring (not that you'd care after three or four rounds.) If you're looking for some fabulous new drinks to liquor you, your loved ones and friends up for the holidays, Texas Monthly has some outstanding suggestions to take for a spin.

From Texas Monthly:

Whether you’re toasting friends and family in celebration or calming your nerves at the very same social obligations, the holidays inevitably present many opportunities for alcohol consumption. This year, instead of drinking to excess, consider adding some mocktails to your repertoire—or at least have them ready for any teetotaler guests. We asked four of the state’s best bartenders to share their current favorite creations with us for the yuletide season. And with a “nice” mocktail for every “naughty” cocktail, you can be sure there’s something delicious for everyone to sip.

There's a number of absolutely delicious drinks on this list that could make your holidays a helluva lot more jolly. Read the rest

Bartender behind the infamous cocktail containing a human toe died and donated his toes to the bar

Over the years, we've posted about (but sadly never had the opportunity to try) the Sourtoe Cocktail, the infamous drink containing preserved human toes that's served at the Downtown Hotel in Canada's Yukon territory. Now we must report that "Captain" Dick Stevenson, the bartender who first served the Sourtoe Cocktail, has died at age of 89. It turns out though that Stevenson, truly a generous soul, had bequeathed all ten of his toes to the bar for future use in the curious cocktail. From The Guardian:

“Dad is a publicity hound and he just said he was going to be more famous after he’s dead,” Dixie Stevenson told the Canadian Press as she prepared to take her father’s ashes – and toes – to the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, where the infamous drink was first served.

The drink consists of a mummified human toe at the bottom of a whiskey shot, and patrons at the hotel must let the tip of the toe touch their lips in order to qualify as having successfully consumed the cocktail.

While Stevenson initially believed no more than a few people would try his concoction, the Sourtoe Cocktail Club now has nearly 100,000 inductees.

A toe-shaped urn, containing Stevenson’s ashes, will go on display at the hotel.


Man mails amputated toes to saloon for use in their Sourtoe Cocktail

• Human toe used in "sourtoe cocktail" stolen from Canadian bar Read the rest

Man mails amputated toes to saloon for use in their Sourtoe Cocktail

Nick Griffiths suffered from frostbite while running in the Yukon Arctic ultra-marathon. After surgeons amputated three of his toes, he mailed two of them to Dawson City in the region where the Downtown Hotel's Sourdough Saloon uses (and reuses) disembodied digits in their infamous Sourtoe Cocktail that's been on the menu for forty years. From The Guardian:

The beverage consists of a mummified human toe floating in a whiskey shot; patrons must let the digit – or its blackened nail – touch their lips in order to receive a certificate and qualify for admittance to the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

He kept one of the toes as “insurance” because, (Griffiths) said: “I’m not sure really you should be posting toes.

More than a month later, the toes arrived in Dawson City. “We couldn’t be happier to receive a new toe. They are very hard to come by these days,” said the hotel in a statement.

Terry Lee, the hotel’s “toe expert” will now preserve the digits in rock salt for at least six weeks before they are served in whiskey.

Read the rest

Warm up with unusual international warm drinks like cheesy coffee and honey-and-bacon brandy

The intrepid travelers of Atlas Obscura suggest nine traditional hot drinks from across the world that may seem weird to our narrow, boring palates but are quite popular in their regions. From Atlas Obscura:

Kaffeost: In northern Scandinavia, cups of coffee get enhanced with cheese.

The dried cheese, called juustoleipä (sometimes leipäjuusto or just juusto), absorbs the steaming brew, softening without melting, like a rich, moist cheese sponge...

Juustoleipä translates to “cheese bread,” which not only refers to its dry and sturdy texture, but also its culinary use as a sort of bread-like vehicle for jam, syrup, and, of course, coffee. To make the cheese, milk—once reindeer milk, now often goat or cow milk—gets curdled, baked, and dried into thin rounds. This process not only allows for the cheese to be preserved for up to a year, but invites special preparations when it is ready to be consumed, one of which is kaffeost.

Hriatô: Slovakian winters call for a honey-and-bacon hot brandy cocktail.

...Traditionally served around Christmas, hriatô is relatively straightforward to make. Home cooks begin by frying up bacon in a healthy dollop of lard. Once it’s crisp, they drizzle in honey, allowing the sweet and salty blend to mingle. Finally, they add a stream of potent fruit brandy to the mix.

Hriatô can indeed look a bit unappetizing on first glance. As the cloudy, orangish liquid begins to cool, the fat separates, initially forming glistening droplets on the drink’s surface, then a layer of settled fat. But when enjoyed fresh, the fried bacon bobs in the boozy brew, balancing the honeyed liquid with a savory umami pork flavor.

Read the rest

My friends have a new line of craft cocktail syrups

My longtime friend Jared Hirsch (previously) is an amazing mixologist (or as he humorously describes himself, a "cocktologist"). As a popular bartender at Sidebar in Oakland, he's always mixing up something new and creative for their menu.

Now, with his business partner Absinthia, he's crowdfunding a new line of craft cocktail syrups. They did this once before with great success three years ago. Their Caged Heat syrup hit its goal in just seven days. This time they're rolling out three new flavors: Crimson Smoke, Cherry Bomb, and Fairy Dust (which is like an alcohol-free absinthe). Check all of them out over at Kickstarter. Read the rest

Six movie-inspired cocktails (and one TV-inspired hangover cure)

From The Dude’s White Russian to James Bond’s shaken martini, Binging with Babish demonstrates how to make six movie-inspired cocktails. He also recreates How I Met Your Mother’s magical hangover cure, which might not be so magical after all. Read the rest

How to make clear ice

"Isn’t a cocktail as much an experience for the eyes as well as the tongue?" asks Mr. Homegrown of Root Simple. "Thankfully it’s easy to make clear ice free of cloudy impurities. His technique is to fill a small cooler with water and putting it in the freezer. "The insulation in the cooler will cause the water to freeze from the top down. The minerals and impurities in the water that cause cloudy ice will settle to the bottom of the cooler. Later, you will harvest the pristine, clear ice off the top." Read the rest

Here’s how to make a “Black Yukon Sucker Punch” from Twin Peaks

Just in time for the return of Twin Peaks, the YouTube channel Cocktail Chemistry whips up two different versions of the “Black Yukon Sucker Punch,” a colorful drink Judge Sternwood orders in season two. Read the rest

Use 50ml chemistry beakers as shot glasses

50ml is 1.7 ounces. which makes these glass beakers perfect for serving a healthy shot of liquor. You can buy a set of 12 for $(removed) on Amazon. Read the rest

Copper mugs for Moscow Mules

I'm not much of a drinker, and I didn't know what a Moscow Mule was until I saw the Bali Hai episode of Better Call Saul. The drink, made from vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, poured over ice, was served to Kim Wexler (my favorite character on the show, played by Rhea Seehorn) in a copper mug. Recently, I went on vacation with my wife, and she ordered a Moscow Mule at a restaurant. It was served in a copper mug. It turns out you are supposed to serve them that way.

The origins of the Moscow Mule are a bit murky, but it appears to have been invented in the early 1940s by the owner of a Hollywood pub on the Sunset Strip called the Cock 'n' Bull. The bartender wanted to clean out a slow-moving stockpile of Smirnoff's and bottled ginger beer that had been gathering dust on the shelves in the backroom, so he mixed them together and started serving them in copper mugs to the movie stars who frequented the pub. It became an instant hit, at least until McCarthyism scared people away from anything with the taint of Sovietism to it. But the Moscow Mule had a kick that people liked, and it made a comeback in the 1960s, which it enjoys today.

You can buy a set of 4 copper mugs with brass handles for $(removed) on Amazon. I just bought a set, and am looking forward to mixing up a batch of Moscow Mules the next time we have friends over for dinner. Read the rest

The Bar Book gives you a 360-degree education in barcraft

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

As someone who spent many misguided years of my youth drinking poorly-eyeballed gin and tonics out of coffee mugs, I never really understood: How exactly can you make cocktails "well" or "poorly"? Isn't it a simple matter of ratios – of pouring the right amount of the right things into a glass, chucking in an ice cube or two and calling it a day? Where is the mysterious opportunity in that simple process to either mess it up or do it exceptionally well? Jeffrey Morgenthaler's The Bar Book is a masterclass on that very subject.

The Bar Book is not a recipe book. Instead, it is a techniques book. Morgenthaler elevates making cocktails into a craft, focusing on finding the right recipe, using the best ingredients, and executing it all using effective techniques. While the author does include expertly curated recipes for some must-know cocktails, instead of focusing on what to mix (which can always be found with a quick Google of "how to make a Cosmopolitan"), it focuses on how, why, and when to mix it. He gives you a 360-degree education in barcraft, from what shapes cocktail shakers come in and what the differences mean to why the shape and size of your ice is important and how to make it so that it comes out of the tray clear and beautiful. He’s a big proponent of making things like mixers, garnishes and even liqueurs from scratch, so the book offers up recipes for making things like flavored syrups, infusions, and even tonic water. Read the rest

Get hammered with jazz great Charles Mingus's Egg Nog recipe

Jazz pioneer Charles Mingus (1922-1979) had a secret recipe for eggnog that by all accounts was delicious, and incredibly potent. He shared the recipe with biographer Janet Coleman who published it in her book Mingus/Mingus: Two Memoirs. Here's the brew below, followed by Mingus's "Moanin'."

Charles Mingus's Egg Nog

* Separate one egg for one person. Each person gets an egg. * Two sugars for each egg, each person. * One shot of rum, one shot of brandy per person. * Put all the yolks into one big pan, with some milk. * That’s where the 151 proof rum goes. Put it in gradually or it’ll burn the eggs, * OK. The whites are separate and the cream is separate. * In another pot- depending on how many people- put in one shot of each, rum and brandy. (This is after you whip your whites and your cream.) * Pour it over the top of the milk and yolks. * One teaspoon of sugar. Brandy and rum. * Actually you mix it all together. * Yes, a lot of nutmeg. Fresh nutmeg. And stir it up. * You don’t need ice cream unless you’ve got people coming and you need to keep it cold. Vanilla ice cream. You can use eggnog. I use vanilla ice cream. * Right, taste for flavor. Bourbon? I use Jamaica Rum in there. Jamaican Rums. Or I’ll put rye in it. Scotch. It depends.

See, it depends on how drunk I get while I’m tasting it.

Read the rest

On Sale Today: A Visual Guide to Drink, an imbiber’s delight from the minds of Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab was founded in 2010 by a book editor and a designer, with the modest goal of rendering all of human experience in chart form. Since then they’ve charted a wide array of cultural touchstones. A Visual Guide to Drink is Pop Chart Lab’s comprehensive volume of its most important topics in graphical form: beer, wine, and spirits.

Containing everything from the many varieties of beer and the vessels from which to drink them, to cocktails of choice in film and literature, A Visual Guide to Drink maps, graphs, and charts the history, geography, and culture of the world’s very favorite pastime. The domestic beer-drinking novice and whisk(e)y aficionado alike will relish this perfectly practical primer awash in essentials like charted cocktail recipes, a breakdown of brewing processes, and extensive maps of the world’s wine region in Pop Chart Lab’s trademark clean and elegant design.

The definitive guide to informative imbibing, A Visual Guide to Drink is a fun, functional, and beautiful concoction of data and design that is sure to inspire delight in readers (and drinkers) everywhere. Read the rest

Home Bartending: Celebrate July 4th with these 1776-era cocktails

Although the word "cocktail" wasn't coined until the 1800s, mixed drinks were all the rage when America got its independence. Many were made with rum or whiskey, and punch was the term du jour. Both refreshing and timeless, why not toast the weekend with these 3 smashing cocktails of yesteryear? Read the rest

Cocktail Hour

We discover the cocktail's historical origins, its etymological connection to a horse's butt, and its rocky history, post-Prohibition.

Drink like Cersei Lannister at Blackbird in SF

If you're in the San Francisco Bay area, you can pregame Season 5 of Game of Thrones at my new favorite SF bar, Blackbird. Why? Because Cersei throws down, and you should too. Read the rest

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