A 5k “Dash of Balance” is a “Pain in the Ass” that you need.

This year, I actually have running shoes instead of the noble but flat footed sambas.

This year, I actually have running shoes instead of the noble but flat footed sambas.

Last year, I got up early in the morning, in the New Orleans heat, and went for a 5K run. And I will again this year. I did this because my friend Dragos, who now also happens to be my boss, asked me to.  He is the kind of guy that can ask you to move a sofa and instead of saying “how about we hire someone to do this,” you actually think “oh, this could be fun.”  I’m sure we all have friends whose pervasive positivity infects us like this. I was not a runner at the time but 5k is basically as hard as a very agressive, 30 minute game of Golden Tee.  I did this run because my friend is committed to fitness in the alcohol, beverage & hospitality business and I wanted to help him. 

I am not particularly committed to fitness. I very much enjoy soft, ripe cheeses, cured meats and I have on more than one occasion added foie gras to things unnecessarily. 

But I am committed to staying alive. 

I don’t want to get into my personal beliefs on the afterlife, but I’ll go ahead and say that I don’t think there’s Epicurean edge to it. When I was in my 20s, and I got health insurance, I probably went to the doctor for a physical. He said, “you’re fine, come back when you’re 30.”  

I went back when I was 30 and he said,

“What do you do, unnecessarily ad for foie gras things? Get your cholesterol under control.

He basically said if I don’t want health problems later in life, I need to choose between alcohol, bread or dessert and stop letting work or perhaps Netflix be prioritized over exercise.  He made no comment about glazed doughnut flavored vodka, but I got the gist of what he was saying. And I found a good compromise in riding my bike too the farmer’s market to get those soft cheeses.

#boozeshirtsatthegym #scotchjersey #flowersformichelle #toooldforspandex #toomanyhashtags

#boozeshirtsatthegym #scotchjersey #flowersformichelle #toooldforspandex #toomanyhashtags

Anyone over 30 that works in the alcohol business has either had their doctor’s appointment when they are told this and if they haven’t, it’s because they’re too afraid to go to the doctor.  I’m not going to “out” other spirits professionals that have had issues with this, that is their own business. However, I think you’ll find out who those people are, because you see them in the cramped workout rooms in hotels— they want to be able to stay in this industry.

I ask people about Tales of the Cocktail, “what classes are you going to?” The answer often comes back is, “I don’t really want to buy more here to network and meet people.” This saddens me a little bit because I feel like if you’re interested in cocktails and spirits, there are precious few books to read that have new information. New information is coming from the seminars, that’s actually where next year’s books start. Regardless of that, and not to deride the networking wonder of the Old Absinthe House or Erin Rose, because you will indeed meet everyone you need to know there.  But I must point out that the relationships formed at these fine establishments at 3 AM have a tendency to be as ephemeral as plastic cups from which they serve cocktails.  And that’s why I think you should get up in the morning and go for a run. If you don’t want to get up at 8 AM to go for a run to make yourself healthier, get up at 8 AM to go for networking. 

On Saturday morning, at Tales of the Cocktail, if you decide to wake up early and going to 5K run with me (and a bunch of other people that don’t become total hedonistic monsters until after noon) then you’ll be in a group of people that are committed to longevity in this industry.

That is a group of people with whom you should be surrounding yourself.

Novo Fogo, my current employer is putting on a 5K run again this year. And I would be there, even if I wasn’t getting paid for it, even if my friend didn’t ask me.  Aside from the fact that I am committed to balance in our “wet” lifestyle in the hospitality industry, I admire the people that stay balanced like this.  I follow one of Seattle’s best bartenders on Instagram, and he only post pictures of where he’s running, it’s very inspiring.  I will frequently look at his post before I go out on my “little baby’s shins still hurts while he goes jogging,” runs.   His commitment to balancing his lifestyle is something that I can clearly see, will give him a long-lasting career in this business.

If you’re going to Tales to barf in an alley, I think you’ll find that you can actually do that without buying a plane ticket. If you’re going to Tales, to make friends, take care of them by inspiring them to do well for themselves. And if you’re going to tales to network, pick people that are committed for a while. 

I looked up last year’s TotC on my phone and the following is an actual chronological photo shoot of what I did in the 24 hours on either side of this run. I was quite literally in the worst shape of my life when I did this, so if I can do it then so can you.

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A Menu of Gin Tonics & A Feast For Juniper

What’s up with the Spanish Gin Tonic?

If you are vaguely aware of European cocktails or are a juniper fiend you are probably up to speed on Spain’s obsession with the Gin & Tonic. The Spanish “Gin Tonic” is served in what it basically a Nebbiolo glass, about 1.25 oz of gin to 7 oz of bone dry tonic (I saw even the shittiest beach front  ice cream stands use Fever Tree) with a twist of a few citrus bits. Enjoy a video of Charlotte Voisey making a Hendricks styled one here.

I popped into a place called Bobby Gin one night and greatly enjoyed their Gin Tonic menu. It was one of their 3 menus, the cocktail menu, the food menu and the gin menu.  It featured 12 Gin Tonics with various garnishes used to accentuate their botanicals, a glossary of gin terms, 4 bespoke Gin Tonic cocktails, a list of a half dozen limited edition gins and a full list of their few dozen house gins.

Gin Tonic at Bobby Gin in Barcelona

Gin Tonic at Bobby Gin in Barcelona

It may not be profound to have a Gin Tonic menu in a country obsessed Gin Tonics but it is quite brave to dedicate a menu to perfecting just 1 cocktail. 

Everything I want from a bar is the skill to differentiate a couple dozen Gin & Tonics and the desire to dissect, on a subatomic level, a 2 ingredient cocktail. Just a 2 ingredient cocktail right?


The Spanish Gin Tonic as opposed to the American Gin & Tonic is a recipe of infinite jest.  One would expect that the majority of the world makes a Gin & Tonic with gin, tonic water (real tonic if you are lucky) ice, a slice of fruit and in a tall glass to accentuate the carbonation in the tonic. Yet the afore mentioned recipe is highly improbable in most environments even though it is just a “2 fer” cocktail. To leave sports behind and instead tap Dungeons & Dragons for a metaphor, you’d have to roll 18 up on a 1  D20 to get a decent Gin & Tonic anymore.  

you know, like 3 rapidly melting ice cubes, mostly gin, splash of warm

you know, like 3 rapidly melting ice cubes, mostly gin, splash of warm “tonic” off the gun.

The average G&T these days will look like this. Correct by definition but unbalanced, sad, warm, missing the proper glassware, a triangle of lime that if you squeeze it shit goes everywhere and your hands get sticky.

Might as well just drink from the bottle

while looking at a can of Sprite for garnish.

A respectable gin & tonic will be packed full of ice in a tall glass, no weaker or stronger than the bucket of shit pictured above, rather it’s just in a glass that pushes bubbles up and keeps the cocktail cold. The highball glass is a bare minimum for a gin and tonic, the next step is getting real tonic.  Pick up the bottle and look for the word quinine, if it’s not there, it’s not tonic.

May your Gin & Tonic be bubbly, full of ice and inspire you more than medicate you

May your Gin & Tonic be bubbly, full of ice and inspire you more than medicate you

I believe the true success of the Spanish Gin Tonic is that this cocktail isn’t a “2 fer.” The Gin Tonic is a example of how to make a cocktail better. It has a great many ingredients and infinite variations there of. The concept of the Spanish Gin Tonic is to garnish with botanicals that accentuate the gin.  You’ll notice on the menu at the end of this post, different garnishes are chosen for almost every gin.  Most of thinking for garnishes is to “double down” on botanicals like Charlotte did with the roses & cucumbers in her Hendrick’s.* But another easy concept would be to use complementing flavors, for example using a slice of strawberry to compliment the lavender in Aviation Gin.  

A bartender always has many more than 2 variables to make a highball better, and the Gin Tonic proves that.  Choose wisely your:

  • Glass– size, shape, temperature
  • Gin– London, distilled, compound, new world, aged
  • Tonic– off the gun, house made, soda syrup, bottled
  • Ice– chipped, cubed, size
  • Garnish– citrus, berries, vegetables, dried botanicals, fresh herbs

The other peculiar bit is that the glassware they choose is the fishbowl/nebbiolo/burgundy glass which is somewhat the equivalent  of the choosing the champagne coupe over the flute.  While the flute is pleasing to the eye and the champagne’s perlage, it doesn’t enhance the aroma too much. And while the chardonnay glass is ideal for champagne, the champagne coupe is certainly the most enticing way to drink.  Drinking champagne from coupe allows the bubbles to enswathe the drinker’s head and experience the champagne deep in the back of one’s brain.

I think that is why they use this glass.

Gin, Tonic, Ice, Zests, Fruit, Hopes, Dreams, Lost Arcs, all kinds of stuff

Gin, Tonic, Ice, Zests, Fruit, Hopes, Dreams, Lost Arcs, all kinds of stuff

Asking Chris Tanghe, a “wine guy” I know, what he thought about serving a Gin Tonic in such a glass at about 8% ABV, he offered:

“The glass thing is kind of goofy and precise all at once.

From a wine perspective it relates to the dominant aromatic compounds paired with relative alcohol. Here is the precise part. For example if you have a wine with a lot of terpenes (floral, herbs etc) and higher alcohol you want a glass that is going to mitigate the assault on your olfactory. That glass would have a wider opening and a less bulbous shape so that those aromatics paired with the booze would fall out of the glass rather than fire like a bullet from a barrel.

If we have a moderate alcohol wine with delicate aromatics we want to concentrate those by having more surface area of a bulbous glass to release phenols to mix with the alcohol to be carried to your nose via a narrower opening. These would include wines like Pinot Noir, Gamay, Nebbiolo (although these can be higher alcohol) etc.

Another consideration is the thickness of the glass at the lip and here we want the thinnest possible. This helps to deliver the wine to the palate with a fair amount of air so that the impression is amplified.”

Thanks Chris, very helpful to have a true pro on the case.

To sum up the thoughts of the Master Sommelier, yes, it makes sense to use a glass like this.  But Chris also pointed out, the likely truth as well, the glass is more likely chosen for aesthetics.  I would offer that making an aesthetic choice in cocktails is just as important and making a scientific choice.

Here is where you should be asking the obvious question:

“So what if I make a Gin & Tonic better, that doesn’t really change anything, right? I mean, Andrew, you are just ranting about some shit we all already know.”

Half true, yes, we already know about the Spanish Gin Tonic but the real story here, is that this heightened method for highball creation is now the Spanish standard.  They make this drink with care, everywhere.  From beach front shack & tourist tapas bar to haute hotel bar & posh private club, the Spanish Gin Tonic is taken seriously.  This is a trend that changed the way that an entire country makes a cocktail, the same is happening right now in America for trends like fresh juice, having more than 1 bitters, use good ice or just not using the suffix “tini.”

If you care, you might inspire or trick others into doing the same, even if they don’t know why they suddenly care.  

I’m sure that the Spanish Gin Tonic owes much of its to the fact that it’s “oohhh pretty,” and “wow, there is a lot of shit in this glass.”  But it also offers the evolution and elevation of a unappreciated cocktail.  The challenge I would offer bartenders is:

Can you elevate any drink you make to the extent that the Spanish have elevated the Gin Tonic?

Enjoy below, the menu at Bobby Gin, and perhaps see how you can make an entire menu for 1 drink other than the dreaded “mojito menu.”

Not to put my theories of gin on the whole Spanish country, but check out Bobby Gin's theories on how to make just 1 drink very well.

Not to put my theories of gin on the whole Spanish country, but check out Bobby Gin’s theories on how to make just 1 drink very well.

IMG_8970 IMG_8972

Thanks Bobby Gin.

*Hey bartenders, start paying attention to when apostrophes are used in spirits.  Pretty 101 level.

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Your cocktail menu is FUBAR, but who are you writing it for?

Your cocktail menu is FUBAR

I have a lot of beliefs and cultish dogma on how a cocktail menu should be assembled.  But what has been recently making me want to 151 blow torch my eyes out is how bartenders / restaurants present a menu. A menu is a thesis, nailed you you bar, that states your values.  This list of values and opinions can’t necessarily be wrong, but the can create strife where none is needed. What is however definitively wrong, is presenting a menu and not asking yourself “who is this menu for and how will I serve it?”

These are all samples of how a very reasonable, diplomatic cocktail, let’s call it a FUBAR Sour, that is comprised of lesser known ingredients, can be a Greek tragedy on a menu. This cocktail has a botanical, gin like spirit called genever, an herbal liqueur called génépi, an exotic citrus called yuzu and a sweetener called pineapple gomme syrup.  It is fair to say that the average consumer is better at understanding the “causality loop” from Back to the Future than being able to explain this cocktail. That being said, the flavor combinations are simple and a menu shouldn’t hesitate on offering a cocktail just because it’s confusing.  Each of the below entries present a challenge for the consumer and for the bartender— pick which battle you want to fight.

FUBAR menu 1

This is what I see on most menus: courier font.  Courier is the typeface of false humbleness.  It is expected that you know what all of these ingredients are. Perhaps the bartender has the time to help & explain, but perhaps not.  When a menu goes out like this, the guest sees that this is a serious cocktail joint, seriously mysterious.  I think the most probable order will be a drink that they have had before, a comfort they know, before a the Russian roulette of this cocktail.

FUBAR menu 2

Here you are, at the cocktail equivalent of the Ikea cafeteria.  This is a menu that is trying to be inclusive and use terms you can understand, but with great specificity it has also created great ambiguity. Is is easier to say “Dutch Gin” or explain genever? Are you using an off brand chartreuse or pine cone liqueur or who knows what? Can you name a 2nd Japanese citrus other than yuzu? Are you assuming the guest can’t learn new things?  This offering is intriguing yet explains nothing.

FUBAR menu 3

This is what you see on a menu when the bartender has a friend who works for Bols. Before you ask, yes, I have seen a logo inserted into a menu before, and yes, it does look this awful.  By contrast, this bartender couldn’t give a fuck about génépi producers or from whom or how they get pineapple gomme. As a guest, I also worry that that when only 1 brand is listed that the cocktail will likely be unbalanced.  I respect branded cocktails but take the thought all the way through the listing.

FUBAR menu 4

On this menu, the bar manager accidentally cut and paste the instructions in the menu or they listed the proportions instead of fully training the staff.  It’s great & honest to list in detail each ingredient but in this case the extra branding  is just sound & fury signifying nothing— other than yuzu being a fruit, the guest has learned nothing.

FUBAR menu 6

Someone from Bacardi plays golf with the food and beverage manager of this hotel. Perhaps they can’t keep génépi in stock and perhaps they don’t want to explain genever.  Cocktails like this are sometimes the hand-me-downs from consultant menus.  However, this drink might be just as good if not better than anything else listed here but when more pedestrian ingredients are chosen it’s hard to be as excited.

FUBAR menu 5

This is written on a chalkboard at an industry bar. No one ever orders it. I wonder why, such effort.  But seriously, sometimes cocktails are written like greasy spoon waitresses barking at short order cooks.  Insider only drinks speak to me, I don’t need to wait for the menu to change, I’ll try the drink you are working on for a cocktail competition, but don’t expect to sell them with the power of chalk.

FUBAR menu 7

This restaurant has a separate cocktail menu, one that can change daily, one that has no issues for saving space on the page. Even though this restaurant serves 37 double Macallans on the rocks for every one of these well explained cocktails.  The key here is to hand the guest a cocktail menu before a wine menu or even water.  It is uncivilized to peruse a diner menu without a cocktail.  AT LEAST HAVE A VERMOUTH, ARE YOU A MONSTER!

FUBAR menu 8

This menu wins awards but only allows the guest to make decisions at the rate of 1 per 20 minutes. This menu will often be divided by drink family or by inspiration; a great way for the guest to tell the truth to one’s self: everyone loves a refreshing sour. The margarita will always be your queen.  However. wise bars will understand that not everyone wants to research, they might make a smaller “greatest hits” menu for this that don’t have the piety for worshiping a cocktail bible.

FUBAR menu 9

This is the Miranda July menu. It has 4 choices, all of equal whimsy. With only 12 seats in a tiny bistro, you have plenty of time to discuss with the bartender.  I feel like more bars should just say “cocktail, sour, highball or other?”

Going over all of these options and filtering them through my carved in stone belief that a bar should brand all of their menu or none of it, I actually prefer the first cocktail listed with a conversation.  But I like to create a trust tree and I normally worked in places of talking and info-taining was desirable.  But again, who is you menu for and who are you?

FUBAR menu

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The Batida- a recipe for the original fat washed cocktail.

The Batida. What is is an how do you make it? Here is a basic recipe and a complex fancy recipe too.

Brazil does indeed have a cocktail OTHER THAN THE CAIPIRINHA. I know, it seems downright rude to have a second cocktail. I bet you’re thinking “they already have the Caipirinha, I just barely know how to say that, why are they making another god damn cocktail?” And here, that country wants you to learn how to say this one too— it’s pronounced “bah-CHEE-da.  

Historically, you’ll find that many countries actually have more than one cocktail.  It’s true, just look at Italy, they have the Negroni AND the Americano.  A bunch of go-getters in that country I’ll tell you what.

The Batida is just cachaça mixed with fruit juice. Most commonly you will see a Batida mixed with coconut milk and other fruit juice over crushed ice.

In the UK (as 10-year-old Difford’s Guides affirm), they drink a Batida blended with coconut milk and sweetened with condensed milk.  The actual word “Batida” itself means “shaken” in Portuguese. And with that in mind, I think the most balanced way to make this cocktail is over crushed ice. Using a blender is more complex and we basically have a generation right now that has rebelled against the blender. The youngsters these days don’t know how to balance cocktails or use ice correctly in a blender. But they should practice the old “throw a straw in the blender and pour the drink into a glass wall the straw stands upright.”

just do whatever

just do whatever

Tom Cruise taught me how to do that.

I will come back to the ins and outs of how to make blended drinks at some later point. Maybe the next time I have to do a guest bartending shift and I have admit that my “guns can’t handle the heat anymore” and I’ll just do everything blended. But for now let’s just talk about how we make this crushed ice Batida.  

batida cocktail recipe batida de coco batida how to

The mason jar craze will end when you fuckers stop stealing more expensive glasses

The one pictured here is

1.5 oz Novo Fogo Tanager (zebra wood finished)

1 oz unsweetened  coconut milk*

1 oz BG Reynolds Passionfruit Syrup**

1.5 oz lime juice

.5 oz Ancho Reyes***

Pinch of chili flakes and salt

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with cubed ice, shake and strain over crushed ice

The unnecessary mint garnish is indeed unnecessary. It mostly just looks good in this photo. I think it would be a lot cooler to use lime sprinkled with chili flakes or sal de gusano

* How sweet is sweetened coconut milk? I don’t fucking know. How consistent is it from brand to brand? Please see my previous answer. Sugar is cheap and a so are sweet ingredients, use drier ingredients and liqueurs that you sweeten to taste. Is this a principle that you should use for every ingredient in a cocktail? Yes.

** Fresh, unsweetened passionfruit juice is almost as acidic as lemon juice.  Passionfruit purée sweetened by 10% is acidic enough to be quite uncomfortable in your mouth.  Passionfruit juice you buy in a can out outside of Hawaii is similar to cranberry juice in bg reynolds PassionFruitthat it is mostly sugar and water.  If using that, then you likely won’t need sugar in a cocktail. BUT If you buy passionfruit syrup you can use it to make many classic tiki drinks, many classic tiki parties and it will hold for a while in the fridge.

***Ancho Reyes is quickly becoming my favorite cheater ingredient. It is not because it is spicy- I skipped spicy drinks a few years back. It is not because it is trendy- that is hard for me as well. It is because it gives an earthy & toasted flavor that adds depth, maturity & character to everything. I have been using it 011377546like bitters to give pedestrian flavors  a foundation or ground them. A dash turns a cocktail from Michael Bublé to early years Tom Waits.

Crush ice using a mallet and good old fashioned Lewis bag, for sentimental reasons I use the bag that my mother made me 10 years ago and the mallet that my father gave me 20years ago, but that oneis unavailable to you so I would recommend using a Bull in China bag.

The Batida cobull in china Mallet_LewisBagcktail breaks traditional templates in more than one way.  Unsweetened coconut milk has a lot of fat in it as well as natural acids. I find that it takes a little extra sugar to counteract the coconut milk. If you were making a more traditional Batita consider how much acid the juice also brings into the drink.  I think the most basic balance should be

crushed ice batida batida template

grated nutmeg is the universal donor of over ice garnishes

(a possible) Batida Template

1.5 oz cachaça

1 oz unsweetened coconut milk

.5 oz lime juice

.75  oz simple syrup

With that basic template, decide if your juice is replacing the acid in lime or adding to the sweetness in the simple syrup. Generally speaking, I would avoid using more subtle liqueurs in a cocktail like this as doing so is generally more like blending a one dollar bill into a cocktail instead of adding flavor.

And if you do a Google image search for “Batida Cocktail” you’ll see awful, awful cocktails. So please, please make your own Batida and post the images online to drown out the garbage that is already there.

behind the scenes

behind the scenes

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A rebuttal to the Seattle Weekly

I recently saw this post from the Seattle Weekly about the cost of craft cocktails in Washington.  Here is my response:

Seattle News and Events | The Bar Code: How Craft Cocktails Are Robbing 2015-04-28 07-28-21

click bait

Dear Bar Code,

Before I sincerely ask you to go fuck yourself with a broken Chihuly sculpture, I would like to take a minute to agree with you.

Craft cocktails are too expensive when they aren’t worth it. I understand, and agree with your point. For the past 5ish years, it has basically been my job to drink $15 dollar cocktails (smallest violin sonata in the key of fuck off) and I agree, a lot of these people are robbing you- but not maliciously. They are robbing you by:

  • Lack of skill
  • Unreal expectations on liquor’s value
  • Having the highest liquor taxes in America

Skill: Most any spirit, bereft of the stylings that make it a cocktail, would sell for $7-$12, just as components. What a consumer pays for is the (hopefully) expert assembly of those ingredients. Even a derelict alcoholic would agree that the poor assembly, thoughtless flavors or lack of balance would ruin these ingredients. This happens a lot. I sometimes want to scream after my first sip “NO ONE HAS EVER FINISHED THIS COCKTAIL, YOU ARE JUST TRYING TO BE CLEVER AND YOU ARE NOT.” Problematically, this is a post spending $15 revelation. However, when the inverse occurs, a bartender serves up their craft for nothing but a foolish desire to do things the hard way.

How can you tell which twisty mustache is true to craft and which is someone that just wants to sleep in and chug fernet at night? Well, it costs $15 to find out.

Expectations: America has unrealistic expectations on what alcohol is worth. And we do so because we compare the scalability of Goliath to David’s desire to hire a second employee.  Consumers, we are told, want small, handcrafted, micro-nano-local-grain to glass booze these days.  We read every week that those are better, well, at least they are more costly.  Conversely, a $15 bottle of vodka is about 80% taxes & shipping and should really make you think twice about how they got the product so cheap.  I want to be clear, zero are the fucks I give about micro distillers. I care about good and bad, integrity and shortcuts. I support quality and care, from David and from Goliath, from what they respectively have to offer.

Taxes: Washington State also has the lovely benefit of having the highest liquor taxes in America.  Without getting into whose fault that is or what the trade offs of privatization are, this is the hand dealt to barfolk in Washington.  And until consumers lobby against these taxes that hurt business (large and small) or decide that Washingtonians should pay income tax (political herpes) these taxes give us the highest liquor cost in America.  Yet, we have far from the highest cocktail prices.

Bar Code, you should rip on craft cocktail culture.  The very idea that “craft” is a modifier to cocktail culture is sad.  By the same wordplay, I go to a “craft” doctor because she is good at her job.  I often wish I had been critiqued more when I was a bartender— it would have made me better.  But price is not the issue here, as always, it is value.

For the past decade the media has done quite well to cover the “cocktail renaissance” and I have personally benefited from this coverage on multiple occasions.  I am looking forward to coverage actually giving way to critiques as “not shaking a Manhattan” ceases to be impressive and the Boulevardier becomes de rigueur.   I am legitimately looking forward to reading a column in a weekly that has a sentence like “ the menu has a handful of stirred amaro drinks that use bitterness as a crutch,” or “the Aperol sour was so 2010 and it separated quickly, seriously, don’t we all know how to measure egg whites?”  Critiques like this will push the industry forward. Reviews like “booooo, $15 cocktail? I’ll take my brewed in California can of Rainer instead,” are another lazy type of faux-blue-collar hackery used only to hit a quick deadline.  If the drink sucks, say it, bars can’t afford to advertise with you anyway.  You’ll save a restaurateur the time of reading the ensuing Chinese water torture of bad Yelp reviews that are sure to out the truth.

But worry not Bar Code, I didn’t forget my earlier promise- go fuck yourself with a broken Chihuly sculpture.  Craft cocktails are worth every dime as much as a glass of “3 Dentists decide to make wine” Washington cabernet, and twice the price of the most “rip out your throat” micro brewed IPAs.

Chihuly Fountain 2



-Andrew Bohrer




p.s. I generally like your column, I agree with you that rose is great and what not, good work on all that stuff, just this one thing got me a touch upset.

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Holiday Flask Guide: Après Ski

holiday flask guide logo

The Après Ski edition of the holiday flask guide isn’t just about hitting slopes, it’s also about having something to do on a ski lift. It is a time honored tradition to get flasky on the mountain and this is my selection of what you should actually drink while you are pretending to be in a Coors Light commercial.


But wait, Not from Connecticut, don’t do winter break in the alps or are you looking up the word après ski? Well these sweet, warming oddballs will work for any outdoor winter activity, maybe even just caroling.  Too secular for caroling? No you aren’t, I was raised Unitarian and I know that you can just say whatever word you want when the song gets to “insert deity,” and no one is the wiser.   You can also drink these outside, at a football game, at the intermission of a Christmas pageant or while shredding down fine champagne powder.



Malört— a type of liquid tattoo that you get on your tongue that coincidentally also has a powerfully vicious wormwood flavor. malört face

Green Chartreuse VEP— the oak aged version of Green Chartreuse sands off the bite of alcohol

Green Chartreuse— 110 proof, herbal as fuck, drinks like a scratchy wool scarf that has cough syrup spilled on it

Athol Brose— a proprietary brose, which is an herbal scotch liqueur sweetened with honey and oats, this one is on a base of 10 year scotch and tastes of scotch blended with some sort of sexy toothpaste & honeycomb

Becherovka— my wife once quoted the 90’s, saying “it tastes like welfare Christmas” but I’d say it tastes like a ginger snap with a like crisp bitterness, makes a great toddy

Yellow Chartreuse VEP—tastes like a bouquet of flowers boiled in water, sweetened with honey & poured over pancakes

Drambuie 15 — the aged Drambuie that tastes better poured out of the bottle than 9 out of 10 craft cocktails

Yellow Chartreuse— the lighter, sweeter Chartreuse, start here

Génépi— an alpine herb, an accessible, full flavored herbal

Grand Marnier— always excellent, always available, if you aren’t in America, the exotic orange blend is a must try, If you are in America, I hope you enjoyed their cherry bottling **sarcastic emoticon**

Drambuie— eh, it’s like a illustrated, abridged version of the Hobbit compared to the Silmarillion of the rest of this chart

Bärenjäger— this is for babies, it is delicious candy that will split your head open like the bear’s beehive with you ensuing hangover, but, it’s great during

Rumple Minz— when I was a kid, the punks would shoot this proprietary 100 proof peppermint schnapps and listen to Wesley Willis

Every Coffee Liquor under $20— BOOOOOOOOOO, but, if you spend more, they can be good

Jägermeister— talk shit all you want, but one day, someone is goind to blind taste you on Jåger and you’ll say “what is this new amaro?”

Home-made coffee liqueur— look, quit infusing coffee beans, that sucks, blend aged rum with sugar and cold press or fuck off

Stroh— I won’t say where, but I know a bar that pours this for annoying guests and tells them that this profoundly shitty, 160 proof rum is something rare & special

Kümmel— technically an after golf liqueur, this caraway liqueur isn’t very popular and is often found with an unfortunate layer of dust on it but I love it, all by myself

Zirbenlikör— I hate hearing that “gin tastes like pine cones,” THIS TASTES LIKE PINECONES, because it’s ground up purple pinecones mixed with booze and honey, if it’s too gnarly for you, mix it with brandy and pineapple juice




The Gentlemen’s Ski Pole is a home-made flask is the ski pole. Enjoy the DIY guide here. Otherwise, it’s fairly important to NOT fall on a metal flask when skiing, try this collapsible one. Worst case scenario is that it would pop, rendering you sticky, but likely minty fresh.

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Holiday Flask Guide: Intro

holiday flask guide logo
It’s that special time of year when I want to write about drinking sweet advent drinks, make Tom & Jerry’s or value shop for whiskies. But this year, I’m drawing my inspiration from my wife’s company holiday party — how do you plan on how to flask up for the holiday season?


I brought a flask of 10 year old Irish Whisky to the shindig.   Yes, there was an open bar, but who knows what terrors that would hold? And while the man behind the stick wasn’t the “all thumbs catering rhino” that he could have been, and he did indeed pour short and he did indeed take his time.


There where only 2 “whiskies” available and a 3rd in my pocket. Here is how I would chart them.



Now think of them this way:


Fireball: pretty much only for shots, hard for people that don’t want to do shots, it os the new Jägermeister (don’t lie to yourself) also, you know, it’s NOT WHISKEY.

Maker’s Mark: always good, quality, easy to drink, easy to find, a sweeter bourbon, a gold standard but still a standard, good new is that you can find it in airports

John L Sullivan: a 10 year Irish, it’s civilized, soft, comes with a great story of and Amazing Irish American and it’s sold out forever, and in general, Irish Whisky is a starter whisky (bring the hate mail)


Now, these all have their place and time from tailgate to tablecloth but when you flask up, think twice and pour once — plan your dram.


Find the below graph for what the generalized dusty leftovers are that you may have at home.

Over the next couple weeks, leading up to all of your holiday parties, I’ll be posting several of these with different topics like scotch, mezcal or tummy-soothing amari.


This is how these spirit types are likely to be received when the flask is passed

This is how these spirit types are likely to be received when the flask is passed





Also, if you aren’t blessed with a dozen plus flasks, I’ll offer you some sweet tips on clandestine sipping. Also, get this event kicked off right with just having a few extra flasks on hand —here is a flask 6 pack. And here is the bandolier to hold them.


Cheers, more soon

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