Posts Tagged ‘negroni’

Rule 37: Nolita

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

This one came from an idle afternoon snooping around Kindred Cocktails, which is proving to be a very handy resource. A recent blast down to MA brought the NH State Liquor store across our path, and since the Lady Friend was taking advantage of a St Germain sale, I did some wandering of my own, coming away with a sale-priced bottle of Kahlua. How I’ve gone this long without some Kahlua on the bar, I’m not sure, but I do know it rules out a lot of new drinks, being a gap in the ingredients available. So now I have some. And need to use it.

Kindred Cocktails lets you search by a particular ingredient, and after several unappealing suggestions, I decided to go with this Negroni variation. It’s simply splits the sweet vermouth with the coffee liqueur. Tia Maria also comes up for this sort of thing, but for now the Kahlua will have to do. According to the creator on San Diego Food Finds, this one is named as a mashup of “Negroni” and “Cafe Lolita,” apparently a brand of coffee liqueur. Don’t have that, but do have Kahlua, so in we go.

From San Diego Food Finds via Kindred Cocktails

– 1 oz gin (I used GTD Wire Works because it’s AWESOME.)
– 1 oz Campari
– 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
– 1/2 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
– 1 dash bitters*

It’s a Negroni at heart, so STIR it. Use Julep strainer and serve up or on the rocks. I prefer my Negronis (or variations) on the rocks with one giant monster ice block. Garnish with a lemon peel.

*Yeah, so they simply say “dash of bitters” but neglect to specify WHAT bitters. I could go with orange here, which would play nicely in the Campari flavors, but with that addition of coffee liqueur, I’m going to use the old standby, Angostura. I’m assuming that when people say “bitters” but don’t specify, they mean Angostura. A little cinnamon/spice should also work here.

Nose: Actually, with that big iceberg in there, I don’t really get much aroma at all. There’s a hint of gin botanicals, and a very subdued Campari, but that’s about it.

rule37nolitabottlesTaste: Cold. Slightly syrup mouthfeel, as can be expected from that Campari ooze. Light gin up front, followed by bittersweet puckering orange Campari, and finishes with a coffee roast. I really wish this was more dramatic, but that’s how it is. It’s quite nice, but it’s a Negroni with some coffee flavor. For the second sip, I rolled it around in my mouth a bit more to warm it a touch, and it had a bit of a numbing effect from the booze rather than the cold. The gin is certainly prevalent, matched with the Campari spice. I’m sure this would be quite a bit rougher without the vermouth, but I can’t really pick out any of its essence among the big flavors. Again, the finish is a coffee roast, like a good stout/porter, bitter rather than mocha or dark chocolate. I bet Kahlua gets somewhat chocolatey when mixed with whiskey, but with the brighter, sharper flavors in a Negroni, it sets itself apart as the darker ingredient. The Angostura is nowhere to be found, though I suspect it’s lurking in the finish sheltered by the coffee flavors.

This is quite nice with the Wire Works, an American style gin, which eases off of the juniper a touch. I think the combination of a big, brash London Dry style would be an odd pairing of pine and coffee.

Is this a good time to say that I don’t drink/like coffee?

Even so, this is a good alternative to a regular Negroni. Something about it feels more like a cold, damp, rainy day drink. A little brown liqueur in an otherwise bright drink. It dims things down a bit.

Rule 37: The Floradora ft Great Lakes Rehorst Gin

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

We finally had a bit of winter, though it took until March to get here. After all the cold and wet, I needed a sunny tropical drink to warm me up, as I’m getting rather full of stouts, porters, brown ales, winter punches, toddies, and other winter warmer tipples. This one fit the bill as a rather happily fruity drink for one of the few wet and snowy evenings of the season. And it gave me an excuse to crack open my bottle of Great Lakes Distilling Rehorst Gin, acquired from the distillery on my recent trip to Milwaukee.

The (La?) Floradora
Found this recipe in my trusty standby, Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail.
Dale says that this one is “named after the 1900 Broadway hit that introduced the Floradora Girls, who all were five feet four inches tall and weighed 130 pounds.”

– 1 1/2 oz gin (GLD Rehorst)
– 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
– 3/4 oz Framboise liqueur or raspberry syrup (Flag Hill’s Raspberry Liqueur)
– Top with ginger ale

This is a BUILT drink, so pour the gin, lime and raspberry into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with ginger ale and a lime piece, and give it a stir with a straw. I opted for a giant tentacle of lime peel. One piece! I managed to double-back with the channel knife. I’m stupidly proud.

All you can smell is fizzy lime on the nose. The taste is carbonic fizz at first, from the ginger ale. A hint of lime tart follows, and is rapidly blindsided by the raspberry. Yikes. That raspberry really dominates the drink. Not that it’s a bad flavor, but it completely masks the gin. Well, not entirely. As I type, there’s a hint of juniper pine in the finish, a last gasp of spirit evaporating from the clutches of the fruited liqueur. I can see how this would be a chick crack kind of drink: you’d never even know there was liquor in it. It’s not bad at all. I wonder if the easy-going Rehorst is just lost in there. Maybe a big bold Plymouth would hold its own. Actually, the gin comes through in a burp. Sorry, that just happened. Yeah.

I tasted the Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Gin neat on their distillery tour, and found it to be very mild and friendly, though still full of flavor. I’m continuously working up the gumption to get myself into gin, but the Rehorst is like Gin 101; even a non-gin drinker can enjoy this one. Guy Rehorst, the owner of Great Lakes, jumped in for the tasting portion of the tour, and said the same thing I’ve been hearing from a lot of craft distillers: he made the gin HE wanted to drink. If you’re going to be creating your own line of spirits, you may as well enjoy them. And this one is certainly enjoyable. Like Double Gold medal at the San Francisco Spirit tasting competition (2008) type enjoyable. Two of the more interesting ingredients are Sweet Basil, and Wisconsin Ginseng, which apparently is a real thing. They claim it’s like the best ginseng evar, but I’ll just take their word for it. GLD even wants to classify the spirit as a “Milwaukee Gin” saying that it’s not quite a London Dry, but not quite a Genevere.

Since it got a little lost in the Floradora, I decided to give the Rehorst another go, but in a Negroni:

Nose: Sweetish, but with a mild spicy hint. Not hot pepper spice, but more like cinnamon/nutmeg type ground spices. Ginseng, I suppose.

Taste: Gin is much more prevalent than in the Floradora. Almost seems spicy, with a medicinal alcohol kick in the mid. Syrupy Campari glues the drink together, and sweet vermouth rounds out the experience. Could be that famous Wisconsin ginseng that I’m tasting, almost like a ginger. Certainly a hint of spice, though the Campari makes it difficult to nail down. The two combined create a cinnamon sensation. VERY tasty.

After a taste, the Lady Friend noted that she could taste the gin more than in a normal Negroni. She’s usually distracted by the Campari, but in this case, she was also able to pick up a spicy note to the gin.

Overall, it’s a tasty gin. The spicy notes really add something to the Negroni, without using a more flavorful vermouth (I believe I used Gallo this time; Martini is my usual brand). However, I can see how this delicate gin could get lost in a more powerfully flavored cocktail; don’t use it as a substitute for Plymouth gin. It shines in a simpler drink. Granted, the Campari-based Negroni can be overwhelming for a mild gin, but the spicy notes of the Rehorst really add an extra nuance to the mixture.

I don’t really buy much gin, but I bought a bottle of this. So there you go. It’s good, get some.

The Monday Hangover: Dec 17-18

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.

Why is the sun setting before 4pm?

Ugh. It’s about time for the days to start getting longer. I’m tired of driving home in the dark.

Friday night was, as per the usual, Rule 37 Cocktail night. The Lady Friend made up her own, the Maurad, and I had an Angel’s Tit. And a cocktail. Zing. From there, we had several other drinks… I’m pretty sure she switched over to tequila, and I had myself a Double-term Presidente, using some tasty Roaring Dan’s Maple Rum from Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee. I brought it back after a trip out there last year. It’s pretty damn tasty. We did a tour and tasting at the distillery, while I nursed one of the worst hangovers I’ve had in a long long time. Spirit tasting was rough, but I was impressed enough with the rum to buy a bottle. They named it after “Roaring” Dan Seavey, because every rum needs a pirate.

And every trip to Milwaukee needs a horrible hangover.

I felt like we should get something accomplished on Saturday, so we hopped the T up to Kendall Square in Cambridge for lunch at Cambridge Brewing Company. It had been awhile since I went to CBC, but it was as tasty as always. There was a large tv up in the corner, which I really wish bars would stop putting in. It’s insanely distracting. At least for me… it doesn’t matter what’s on the tv; I can’t ignore the flickering siren song. In this case, Elf was finishing up as we sat at the bar, which went into The Land of the Lost. The bartender changed the channel and it went to Anchorman. Apparently Will Ferrell is the king of weekend afternoon movies. Following our CBC tastings and lunch, we headed over to the recently-opened (well, April) Meadhall, which boasts 110+ taps. Whoa. After a couple more brews there, it was back to SFHQ and then out to a holiday party in Weymouth. I had a glass of the cranberry champagne cocktail (vurry tastilly tart) and helped myself to an Otter Creek Wolaver’s IPA. Not bad, but nothing mindblowing, a decent, solid hoppy ale.

Sunday’s main event was the return of Sissy to the East Coast for the holidays. We snagged her from Logan and immediately absconded to Sunset Grill and Tap in Allston. Like Redbones, the Lady Friend had never been here before, so it was a visit long past due. They’ve got 100+ taps and I have notoriously bad luck choosing a beer. I’ve gotten into the habit of choosing three beers at a time, since they’re inevitably out of my first two choices. This time was different. I ordered a Boulder Beer Mojo IPA, which was strangely in the Double IPA section (Mojo Risin’ is their dIPA). I was assured that they had it, yet when the glass came, it was oddly dark. Mojo IPA is a nice orangey amber; this was deep nut brown. It smelled malty, without the citrus hop I was expecting. Again, I was assured that it was Boulder’s Mojo. Tasted it… nope. Way too malty. Not bad, but not Mojo. I asked the waitress again if she could find out exactly what “Mojo” it was. She came back with a blank face saying it was “Killer.” That’s all the information she could gather. Turns out, it’s Boulder’s Killer Penguin barleywine, which is a tasty beer, but not at all what I wanted. Ugh. I love Sunset, but it’s always a battle there. I don’t understand why I can’t just get the beer I want.

I followed up with Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA. Because it was on tap, and there wasn’t any available last year. And it’s 120 IBUs. And 18% abv. Yes, eighteen.

After Sunset (the Lady Friend drove us… I was in Happyville, USA after the Dogfish) we returned to home base, the SquirrelFarts Cocktail Cave. Sissy finally got the full drink experience, having never made it to a cocktail night at SFHQ before. I started the two of them off with a round of Rum Stone Sours using the very vanilla tasty Sailor Jerry spiced rum. This drink is like chick crack… fruity, sweet, and full of 92 proof spiced navy rum. I started off with a Jack Rose for myself. By then, they were demanding something different, having happily slurped down round one, so I went with a Flamingo: 1.5 oz white rum, 1.5 oz pineapple juice, .25 oz lime juice, .25 oz grenadine, .25 oz simple syrup. I whipped out the Bully Boy for this one, and with all that juice and sugar, it was a big hit.

From there we had quite a variety, throwing whatever I could think of into the mix. While the femmes had a Paloma (one of the Lady Friend’s tequila cocktails) I had a nice little Old Overholt Whiskey Sour, followed up by an Income Tax, or, Bronx with Bitters. There are cocktails named for all the New York boroughs (the most famous is likely the Manhattan) and the Bronx is a decently easy-going tipple. However, it really picks up some flavors with a couple dashes of bitters, and becomes much more interesting. This version is from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails:

The Income Tax (Bronx with Bitters)

– 1 1/2 oz gin
– 3/4 oz dry vermouth
– 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
– 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
– 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters

Shake/strain/serve. It’s ok on its own, but really nice with the bitters.

From Ted:
“It was the Bronx Cocktail to which the Income Tax merely added a couple dashes of Angostura Bitters. In fact, if you wanted to feel particularly film noir, you’d lean over the dark bar you found yourself in and growl, ‘Bronx with bitters, and make it snappy!'”

Also, be sure to make this one with FRESH-squeezed orange juice. It makes all the difference.

Somewhere in there we ordered a pizza, but I couldn’t tell you at what point. I think Sissy had a Tom Collins, complete with Old Tom gin but the timeline started to get loose. The Lady Friend had made some potato skins, which were doing a wonderful job of soaking up the booze, giving us more mixing playtime. Up next for the sisters were a double Sidecar for Sissy, and a Kamikaze for the Lady Friend. I had her try to guess what it was, but since I rarely use vodka, she couldn’t even pin down the base spirit. It’s essentially a Margarita with vodka switched out for the tequila. At any rate, it was amusing (for me) to watch her guess liquor after liquor trying to figure it out.

As a nightcap, they switched over to a couple of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPAs that the Lady Friend had purchased earlier, and I finished off with a lovely Negroni, showing Sissy the fun of flaming an orange peel. We chatted about who knows what, though Sissy did share her thoughts about the Squirrel Farts Drink Blog. Apparently she doesn’t necessarily read it, but squealed “I skim for my name… there’s a lot of words in your blog!” making sure to defend herself by noting “I look at the pictures!”

So as long as her name is in here, and there’s pretty pictures to look at, I’ve got another satisfied reader.

The Repeal Day Celebration

Repeal Day!
A day for true celebration, as we mark the anniversary of the death of “The Noble Experiment,” Prohibition.

A little background: basically the country was going down the tubes because people drank WAY more alcohol back in the day than we do now. We’re talking like five gallons of hard liquor a year in Colonial times. Average. Per person. That’s nearly two shots of liquor every single day. Those numbers did start to come down with the Temperance movements of the late 1800s, until the Teetotalers got their way. Because America wildly overreacts to everything, they decided that an outright ban on alcohol would solve all their problems. The Eighteenth Amendment went into effect in 1920 and said you couldn’t manufacture, sell, or transport liquor in the US. Possession and consumption was still technically legal. The non-drinkers thought it would create a new utopia and last forever. The “Father of Prohibition,” Senator Morris Sheppard, claimed that “There is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail.” Then things went a bit south… bootlegging, moonshining and organized crime skyrocketed until even die-hard Prohibitionists had to admit that it was a bad idea. On December 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th (and final state needed) to ratify the 21st Amendment, and Prohibition was over. Though it didn’t go into effect until December 15th, the 5th is celebrated as Repeal Day.

This is like my Christmas. Only in December.

Anyway, a celebration was needed. Last year I was drinking beers with the Irish Lad and Wifey at their house, and we fittingly had our first tastes of Brew Free or Die IPA from 21st Amendment. Actually, on the way home I got pulled over because my taillight was out. The remaining beers were rolling around the back of my car (they had escaped from their carrying case), and friendly Mr. Police Officer shone his flashlight on them and asked me what brand they were. I should have offered him one, but he let me go anyway.

Repeal Day fell on a Monday this year, so that meant a great excuse for a Monday Night Cocktail Club event. The Lady Friend and I met after work at South Station, and ventured up to the Purple Shamrock, in the Government Center/Faneuil Hall area. Now, on a Friday or Saturday night, the PSham is complete chaos. All the tards from the suburbs or further think that the Faneuil area is the happening place. The reality is an evening of long lines, cover charges, lousy drinks, college kids, overly-made-up skanks, and Jersey Shore types from Revere. It’s great for a night of drunken debauchery out with a group, but if you want to enjoy a quiet drink, this is not the place.

On a Monday night, that all changes.

I had wandered in there a couple years ago on a MNCC saunter, needing to use the bathroom. Then I figured since it was cold outside and warm inside the bar, I may as well stay for a pint. I struck up a conversation with the bartender, Jackie, and we had a lovely chat. She’s from just north of London and a genuinely nice person, who knows how to pour a proper pint of Guinness (with the foam so close to the top that it has a small convex bulge across the head as the surface tension holds it together). I began to stop in for a pint and a chat on many following MNCC excursions, and even on some weekends with a rowdy Midwestern group of friends. Here’s a protip: it really pays to know the bartender personally on a busy night. It might be three deep at the bar, but I’m getting served first.

Apparently, the Purple Shamrock is named for a bit of Boston history, which I just recently found out. Former mayor/governor James Curley, who was cartoonishly corrupted and just plain criminal (seriously, he was in prison a couple of times), was nicknamed The Purple Shamrock (also, the Rascal King. Yes, like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones song). Across the street from the bar, there are two statues of this villain; one standing and one sitting on a nearby bench, both doing nothing useful, as politicians do in real life. I honestly don’t understand why such an unscrupulous person is memorialized and celebrated to that effect, but that’s Boston.

So the Lady Friend and I started there for a bite and a beer. The food is pretty good, and it’s nice and quiet on a weeknight. This time it smelled lovely, like breakfast. It took me awhile to pin down the aroma, which finally clicked as “french toast.” It turned out to be a “Maple Pancake” scented candle in the entryway, and I think it was a welcome change from the usual “holiday” scents of cinnamon and nutmeg. I had a couple Guinness (naturally) and a tasty tasty BBQ chicken sangwich, while the Lady Friend went with steak tips and a water. Apparently, she likes the steak tips at the Union Brewhouse better. We finished up, bade farewell to Jackie, and headed to our first official stop, The Bell in Hand Tavern, just down the block.

Oldest? Well, old, but not oldest.

A little more history: The Bell in Hand Tavern claims to be the oldest tavern in the country. Well, according to this article, not quite. But it is pretty damn old. Sidenote: I will have to make trips to Charlestown (Warren Tavern, 1780) and down to Newport (White Horse Tavern, 1673, beating the Bell in Hand by over 100 years). Anyway, Bell in Hand was founded by Jimmy Wilson, Boston’s town crier. It became known as a place where the colonists met to discuss and plan the revolution.

These days, not so much. The revolution is over (we won! U-S-A! U-S-A!) and now the Bell in Hand is another douche central like the Shamrock. They have karaoke during the week (fortunately not on the Monday we were there) and live cover bands on weekends. On a Saturday night it’s usually wall-to-wall dbags. Again, I’ve been here many times before, usually with a party group, and it’s a blast, but totally not my scene of choice now. It made the list because it is a historically important spot in Boston, and if we’re drinking to celebrate a historical event, we’ll do it in the right place. The Lady Friend and I sipped on some Samuel Adams Brick Red ale, a beer that can only be found on tap in Boston. It’s pretty good… similar to a Sam Lager, but without the hoppiness. A good, easy-drinking ale; a proper Boston drink. Naturally, this necessitated a trip to the lav, which appears to have been remodeled since I was here last. At least, it’s nicer than I recall, but memories from the Bell in Hand tend to be rather fuzzy. As a puzzling feature, the urinals are awkwardly mounted about a foot higher than seems necessary. I’m not sure if this is on purpose, or for a certain reason, but it does generate an unfortunate amount of, shall we say, splashback. Just a tip for the gents. Also, apparently they just phoned it in with the soap dispenser… nothing wall mounted, just a pump-top bottle which I’d bet would go missing within the first 20 minutes of a typical Saturday. Drunk guys will steal or smash anything that’s not literally bolted down. Just because they can.

We ventured to our next stop, No. 9 Park, which is practically next to the State House. It’s a fancy restaurant and equally fancy bar where the cocktails are top notch. This was another MNCC discovery, and one worth several repeat visits. I got to know Ted, the bartender, and we chatted about drinks and such until he got promoted to bar manager, and his shifts changed. Happily, he happened to be working on Monday night, and we exchanged pleasantries. The Irish Lad and Wifey had joined us en route, and we lounged in the corner booth. While we were making our drink choices, Ted brought over a round of Last Word cocktails, a very fitting Prohibition-era tipple, which was a very generous and appreciated gesture. It also made me appear to have connections, and, who am I to argue? I’m kind of a big deal.

So, we enjoyed our Last Words, and put our drink order in. Among the drinks were a Mint Julep for the Lady Friend (her Rule 37 for the week, as she had never had one before), and a Negroni (Plymouth gin, Cinzano vermouth) for me. Wifey had some vodka drink, followed by one with apple brandy and gin, and the Irish Lad was pleased with a West Coast Green Flash IPA. We sipped and chatted, and Wifey waved out the window at passers-by. There was a guy at the bar with a top hat/rabbit puppet who seemed to be a few crayons short of a rainbow. We finished, said a quick word of thanks to Ted, and ventured out to our next stop.

This is where I’m supposed to tell you about the bar 21st Amendment, next to the State House.
They were closed.
On Repeal Day.

So, it was off to Silvertone Bar & Grill instead. I heart Silvertone. Dark, cozy, good food, good drinks. It’s a well-known place among industry types, and a great place to relax. The food and drinks are both decently cheap, but without skimping on the quality. Again, on a weekend it’ll be packed, but with a more hipster crowd than the Faneuil bars. On a Monday night you can squeeze into a booth and order up some comfort food, which is just what we did. Mmmmmm grilled cheese with bacon. Wifey had a raspberry Stoli and Sprite, or something liek that, while the rest of us had some Mayflower IPA. The IPA tasted off to me, with a spicy/nutmegginess to it. It could be that my palate was out of whack after the Negroni. I’m not sure. But this was the last stop for the night. The Lady Friend was fading fast (even though she had a half day of work on Tuesday and didn’t have to get up early) so we finished up and headed for the T. Repeal Day ended with plenty of drinks in my belly, and half of my fries and sangwich (with bacon!) in the fridge for lunch the next day. I miss the Monday Night Cocktail Club.

Lobstah tree!

Soused in SanFran – Part 4: SFO D2 Alembic

This here is Part Four of the Grand Caliventure of November 2011.
For Part 1, make the clicking to here.

Not your turn yet, Sissy. But soon.

Following our delicious lunch and tasty beers at Magnolia, the Lady Friend and I started heading down Haight Street towards our next destination, the legendary Alembic Bar. We were pointed straight into the vortex of hippie ground zero, strolling cautiously past Haight-Ashbury, the epicenter of the flower children. Yes, it was weird. We saw a man in his 60s, with gray hair and beard, wearing a short, Catholic school girl pleated skirt and knee socks. I don’t care, that’s just not ok. I kind of hate The Haight. I needed a protective suit like Cartman when he rescues Kyle before SF destroys itself.

My boy, we are pilgrims in an unholy land.

Then we saw it: The Alembic. A cocktail bar that has frequently landed on “best bar” lists throughout the country. It’s hard to tell what lurks behind the dark tinted “A”-embedded door amidst the wandering stoners shuffling by on the sidewalk. Sure, if we had more time, I would have liked to take a peek at Smuggler’s Cove, Bourbon and Branch, and Rickhouse, but there were other destinations that required some precious time allotment. We pulled the heavy door open and took a brief moment to let our eyes adjust to the dim light and muted tones of the interior, a welcome change from the blaring sun and psychedelic hues of Haight. The narrow space with high ceilings was dominated by a sturdy wooden length of bar, and three shelves overflowing with nearly every conceivable liquor and liqueur. A touch of light lazily drifted in through a yellow-tinted skylight towards the rear, and opened up the back seating area. Everything was wood, tan and dusty, and had an aged patina except for the glossy glass bottles that stretched for a great distance. The antithesis of pretension. This is exactly as it should be. This is what a cocktail bar needs to be. This is home.


Vintage light bulbs rappelled down from the ceiling provided more aesthetic quality than luminosity. Though there were a handful of patrons, conversation was light, and subdued, the loudest sounds coming from the jarring maraca rattle of ice in metal shaker. The Lady Friend lolled through the cocktail menu, while I marveled at the array of amaro, the wonderful whiskies, and the rows of rums. They have more types of rye than most bars have whiskey, rum, and gin combined. The cocktail list consisted of a double-sided sheet, one side old school and one nouveau. She eventually settled on a Blood and Sand, and was surprised to find that it was actually a known classic. She enjoyed it, but my home bar currently lacks the necessary cherry brandy (Heering) to recreate it. Though the recipe contains scotch, hers was made with Russell’s Reserve 6yo Rye. I availed myself of some of their Campari, requesting my new bar benchmark, the Negroni. Disappointed with the UTTER failure of a previous “cocktail” bar, I was confident that I wouldn’t have the same troubles here. When I requested Plymouth specifically, the heavily tattooed bartendress simply nodded and said “that’s what we use.” Beautiful. It also contained Carpano Antica vermouth, which lent a much spicier and vivacious note to the taste, bold enough to stand up to the brutish Campari, with little on the nose but fresh orange peel. Wonderful.

This. This is my goal. This is the bottle collection I want in my home bar.

I had been in touch once again with Ke$hia Ho, who agreed to meet up with us while we sipped our drinks. She and I chatted for a bit about various cocktail nonsense, and pointed out various unusual bottles to each other. When our glasses finally dried up, we steeled ourselves for the hippie horrors that lay outside, and ventured on. Happily, she brought her car, complete with MN plates, and we sped out of Peaceland, never to return. The next destination was another I had been looking forward to: the City Beer Store. Why was this a big deal? Stay tuned, and I’ll get to it.

Soused in SanFran – Part 2: SFO D1

This here is Part Two of the Grand Caliventure of November 2011.
For Part 1, make the clicking to here.

Hold on to your butts, this is going to be a long one.

The dawn did done diddly dawned Thursday morning as JJ and her husband scurried about the apartment and left for work and classes, respectively. The Lady Friend and I eventually changed out of sleepy pants and rallied for the day’s adventures. The one certainty on the schedule was a lunchtime visit to 21st Amendment Brewpub, but after that we were open until tentative happy hour plans with JJ. We decided to walk, since it was a couple miles away, and I like to wander and do some street shooting. Went down by the water to see the Bay Bridge on the way, and then were plenty ready for lunch and beer.

Slightly bigger than Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, NH. Slightly.

21st Amendment Brewery is a brewpub in the South Park area of SFO, and is apparently near AT&T Park, a baseball stadium that is a whopping 11 years old. How cute. Fenway is almost 100 years old, so suck it California. 21st is, of course, named after the Twenty-first amendment to the Constitution which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment of nation-wide prohibition. I’ve had several of their canned offerings including the Brew Free or Die IPA, Hop Crisis ImpIPA, and Hell or High Watermelon (of which I believe there’s still a can in the Lady Friend’s fridge.) While they don’t have an official sampler of their beers, you can order a sample of each, which we did. However, the normal canned beers (which apparently are canned in Cold Spring, MN) were not on the list. They might have been on tap, but we were at a table instead of the bar, and didn’t get a look. Here’s what we got:

We tasted right to left.

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (Guest Brew)
Nose: Apple fruit. Slight malt. Very light and airy aroma.
Taste: Green, unripe tree/ stone fruit. Tart, apple.

Rammstein Bavarian Wheat
Nose: Banana clove. Sweet and aromatic. The Lady Friend described it as “circus peanuts” that marshmallowy orange candy.
Taste: Initial spiciness, eases off to a banana/ bubblegum wheat flavor.

Roasted American Amber Ale
Nose: Roasted malt/ barley. Not a coffee roast, but a TOASTED aroma.
Taste: Burnt toffee. Not syrupy. Not quite toast-like, but essence of golden brown crust, like fresh baked bread. Slight copper metallic, but very slight. We both really liked this one.

Fireside Chat Dark English Ale
Apparently they’re canning this one, but I haven’t seen here yet.
Nose: Very weak aroma. A stir with a fork yielded some slight fresh-baked cinnamon bread aroma.
Taste: Cinnamon raisin bread. Gives way to a slight syrup maltiness with a touch of roasted bitter.

Schooner’s Oatmeal Stout (Guest Brew)
Nose: Roasted oats. Yep.
Taste: Bitter coffee, but eases off. Very smooth. Finishes with a roast bitterness lingering. Nice.

Two Rivers Granny Smith Apple Cider (Guest Brew)
Nose: Apple juice. Tart and sweet.
Taste: Tart start. Mouth puckering. Not too sweet, but finishes nice and apple-y. I’m not generally a cider fan, but this one was really nice, and not too acidic.

It was very lumber-y inside.

Following our sumptuous repast, we started wandering around with thoughts of heading down to a beer store where I planned to do some purchasing. However, though it began as a brisk, sunny day, by mid-afternoon it started to rain. Then pour. Plans for walking several blocks were aborted, and we about-faced to head towards Union Square. I had gotten in touch with a friend of mine from my former company, Qwadd Grafficks, who I met by chance on a tour of a printing plant in Wis-cahn-sin. She also turned up on one of our ski/snowboard house trips to Killington/Pico in Vermont (SnoHaus 2010). She left Qwadd to travel to France earlier in the year, and was now working as a bar manager in SFO. She traveled with two other Qwadd ex-pats, who, following the trip, became wine harvest interns in Sonoma County. Ke$hia Ho is a plucky little Asian girl with dance moves that demoralize any white boy within a seven-block radius, except perhaps Trevtastic. She rocks a New York fashion-sense, despite her Minnesota upbringing, and since I saw her last has developed quite an appreciation for, and knowledge of, cocktails. She had Thursday off, and agreed to meet us in Union Square, then hang out for the afternoon.

The Lady Friend and I ducked into a dark Irish sports bar to dry ourselves, just off of Union called Lefty O’Doul’s, who is apparently some former baseball player. It was appropriately dark, dank and bar-like, so we grabbed a couple stools at the end of the bar and ordered up two Anchor Porters. When in Rome. Sidebar: it also happened to be International Stout Day. A porter may or may not technically be a stout, depending on who you ask, but I had the oatmeal stout sample at lunch so THAT TOTALLY COUNTS. Louie, apparently a regular, was having a grand old time a few seats down slurping Heineken’s and hitting on the female waitstaff, who are plainly used to his advances. Ke$hia Ho strode in after a short time, and we departed for a bar called Top of the Mark, a hotel bar with commanding panoramic views of the city. Though the rain had stopped, this unfortunately meant hiking, and I do mean HIKING, up several of the steepest hills mountains I had ever encountered in a city setting. It’s not even funny.

The view was pretty nice.

So, Top of the Mark is a ritzy little cocktail and piano bar, and we flipped through the extensive drink menu looking for a tasty tipple. However, something quite alarming caught my eye: the Top of the Mark Negroni, made with Ketel One Citron, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Wait… what? A Negroni made with VODKA?? Guess what tardclowns, THAT’S NOT A NEGRONI. I should NEVER have to specify that I want GIN in a Negroni. Ugh. They lost all credibility for that one. Unbelievable.

Despite the waiter’s near unintelligible accent, we managed to place our drink orders, with Ke$hia Ho sipping on a French 75 (she had some champagne earlier in the day and wanted to keep the theme going) and the Lady Friend trying what she thought was a Tequila Sunrise, until something tasted a bit off. Turned out, she got a Tequila SunSET, which was Stoli, 1800, Grand Marnier and Grenadine. Take a tequila drink and dump in some vodka. What is the matter with this place? Anyway, the cocktails were pricey, the waiter unsuccessfully attempted claw his way through the English language, they massacre classic drinks, and we spent our time there next to a group of business types drinking Bud Light. In a cocktail bar. The only reason to go here is to see the views, which were very nice, but after you’ve seen it, there’s no excuse to go back. Also, the bathroom, while elegantly decorated, had the distinct bouquet of a thousand haunted farts, with strong overtones of wet dog. Time to leave.

So, leave we did, thankfully taking the bus instead of walking, to a bar called Harry’s to meet JJ for happy hour. Yes, SquirrelFarts, there is a Happy Hour. We’re not in Boston anymore. Nothing too special about Harry’s… casual, but nice, and dark. There were $3 drafts, including Lagunitas IPA and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Awesome. The Irish Lad isn’t a fan of Lagunitas IPA, though I’m still not quite sure why. I think it’s slightly pine bitter, but delicious.

As we were chatting, a girl came up to our table calling Ke$hia by some other name… I forget what. After some confusion, we figured out that apparently Ke$hia is this other girl’s doppelganger. When the other girl turned up, it was a pretty close match, and mild chuckling ensued. We had a few munchies until JJ arrived, looking rather drawn and haggard. A nice pint of Sierra Nevada revived her, and we all headed to a Peruvian restaurant for dinner, though some of us would have much preferred a slice of pizza.

The place was named Fresca The roasted chicken looked tasty, and that happened to be the one thing on the menu that the kitchen was out of. Super. So, I said I didn’t want anything else, and started doing some tasting notes on my Cuzqueña Peruvian lager (no nose whatsoever, a slight skunky “green glass” lager taste with some cereal grain sweetness. Also of note: it’s allegedly the only South American beer that adheres to the Reinheitsgebot; the German purity law that says beer must be made only from water, barley and hops.) I’m not sure if the notebook did it, (although I have had strange things like this happen before) but all of a sudden the waiter came back saying there was magically ONE more chicken in the kitchen, and would I like it? Um, sure. Maybe they thought I was some sort of reviewer or critic, but whatever the reason, I got my chicken. And it was tasty. As were the accompanying french fries I very nearly inhaled.

After that we called it an evening (since it was a work night for JJ). Ke$hia hopped a bus with plans to meet up with us again the next day, and the remaining three of us stumbled back down Fillmore to the apartment for another night of futon slumber. This was just day one: more drinking adventures to come!

Rule 37: The Boulevardier

I had entered a couple photos in a local art show Friday night, so our cocktail night was a bit delayed. Lady Friend started with wine at the show, then switched over to beer for dinner at the Union Brewhouse, where we each checked two more brews off of our 99 bottle list. She’s doing her list in reverse alphabetical order, and went with a Unibroue La Fin du Monde, which she enjoyed greatly. Another trip to Montreal may be necessary to stop by the brewery in Chambly. Her second was a pint of Blue Hills Brewery’s Okto Brau on tap (which was quite good… it didn’t taste like most Octoberfest beers. It really did have flavors of autumn somehow. Finished with a cereal sweet taste that I can only describe as Halloween candy Kit Kat bars. Seriously.) I crossed Haverhill Brewery’s IPA off my list (they’re one of our future drink destinations) and had a Harpoon IPA, which is never a bad choice.

So, after dinner, we adjorned to SquirrelFarts HQ, aka The Drinkatorium, aka The Cocktail Cave aka Hōm Bar. All names awaiting trademark certification. Lady Friend decided to stay on the beer train, and ignore the hallowed tenets of Rule 37. I had picked out a new drink earlier in the week after stumbling across one that sounded good in one of the drinking blogs/ articles I follow:’s cocktail section. The article is here.

The Boulevardier

1 1/2 oz bourbon (I substituted rye)
1 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1 oz Campari

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and STIR.
Strain with a julep strainer into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with orange twist.

Have a sip and exclaim “Ah, Paris!”
…even though it’s made with American bourbon, and Italian Campari.

Clearly, it’s similar to the Negroni, pouring bourbon instead of gin. It wasn’t bad, but the Campari overwhelmed the whiskey, even with an extra 1/2 ounce of liquor in the mix. Perhaps a bolder rye (I used Old Overholt) would be more willing to stand up to the Campari’s amaro insolence. I think I’ll try this one again, easing up slightly on the Campari. The whiskey added a smoothness to the drink not found in a regular gin-based Negroni. I used rye, wanting a little more bite, suspecting bourbon’s sweetness would be washed away by the powerful bittersweet in the Campari. A variant of the recipe, the 1794 Cocktail, seems to be just what I’m looking for.

It turns out, the Boulevardier is a bit of a classic, and older than its Negroni sibling. During Prohibition, cocktails really grew into their own, and expat bartender Harry McElhone started Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Since Campari, an Italian bitter liqueur, was widely available in Europe, a number of cocktails included it as a big flavor boost. Although this cocktail appears to be a whiskey version of a Negroni, (equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) Campari was unheard of in America at the time, and would not appear until about 20 years later following WWII. Harry’s cocktail was named for a monthly magazine called, of course, The Boulevardier, as it was the signature drink of the magazine’s publisher. More on this can be found in the short article by Ted “Dr Cocktail” Haigh at Imbibe Magazine, found HERE. Go read it, then make a Boulevardier for yourself.

Actually, go have a Negroni. It may be newer, but it’s tastier, and still a classic.

So it goes

My first Negroni.
– 1.5oz Hendricks gin
– 1.5oz Martini & Rosso sweet vermouth
– 1.5oz Campari
Stir in chilled old fashioned glass. Garnish with orange peel.

I’m not a great lover of gin, but I’m making an effort to be civil. We get along fine in front of others, but have very little to speak about one-on-one.  However, the Negroni is undeniably classic, so I push forward. Initial thoughts: warm, red, spicy. The Campari shines above all, but the gin is there. I’m banking on the bitterness to counter my overindulgence of barbecue chicken and onion pizza, though probably not the best of ideas about an hour before a tae kwon do workout. The sweet bitterness of Campari is really on show. Overall, I don’t love it, I don’t hate it. My usual feeling about lady gin.

I have recently done a bit of furniture swapping in my apartment, with the computer desk and bar changing places. Out of habit, I find myself rounding the corner to the computer, only to find it on my right flank. The bar needed expansion and will grow in its new home, but for now, I find the greatest inconvenience to be the lack of a place to put my drink while at the keyboard.

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