Sunday, January 18, 2009

Your Mom's Cocktail Party

That would be a fantastic idea and I think I want to plan a "your mom" cocktail party with nothing but old-fashioned drinks. Ha.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Downtown Ralphs wine tasting schedule: January

Here you go.

Man Bites World

This blog has been sadly neglected. However, reading about the guy who ate all around the world in Los Angeles gave me an idea to start a similar project.

I'm going to start drinking all around the world. I'll try different beverages, beers, wine, etc. from around the world, here in LA.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages 2005

What's that you say? We've reviewed this wine before? Well, I saw it in Erin's apartment last week and for last night's television festival of Heroes premiere, I totally bought a bottle to enjoy.

This is a refreshing, fruity wine that is easy to drink. It's got a taste of cherries.

I asked Erin if she had any of this wine recently and she cannot recall. Last time, she stated: "I don't like reds."

Well, this time her response: "I go as far as pink, these days."

So for a consistent, simple wine to drink, that is fruity and not too pricey, this Beaujolais is a winner.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

Los Angeles Mag Downtown 2.0

Here's an interesting map of drinking spots in downtown.

Discount for angelenic Readers

The very fascinating blog angelenic has a coupon good tomorrow only at the Sixth Street Bar & Grill. The coupon is good for a $1 first-drink and a $2 second-drink.

All the relevant information can be found here.

Better Late Than Never: Ralphs wine tasting schedule for August!

I really ought to have put this up, say, eleven days ago.

ETA: Funny that the day that I post this, I get this email:

Hello Wine Lovers, a change has been made to the current wine schedule Friday will be closed as due to a Meeting off premise. The tasting with Clos Du Bois will occur on the 29th instead of the 15th of August. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

One bourbon, one scotch... one whisky.

This entry is overdue, yes. But, as Heather said, I have to earn my share of the pennies. How better to do that than by writing about something I love- whiskey?

Because I spent the better portion of the last half a year in two countries that are famous for their varieties of whiskey (Scotland and Ireland) and drink a lot of my good friend Jack here at home, I suppose I'm the resident expert on the subject. I guess I can share some of my knowledge.
Whiskey tasting at the Jameson Distillery. See, an expert.

First and foremost, let's get something out of the way. Whiskey vs. whisky. Both are correct. Remember analogies? Favorite : favourite :: whiskey : whisky. That's all. Tell spell check to suck it.

Next, on to some actual basics. Scotch and bourbon are both types of whiskey, just like Irish whiskey (which doesn't get its own cool name). There are whiskeys made all over the world, though those three are the well known ones. India, Japan, Canada (notice the British colonialism leftovers) etc. I have at least a taste of whiskeys from all of those countries, and, personally, I will be sticking with the big 3. They're the most popular for a reason. The ingredients are all the same, though each type uses different proportions of the grains (typically barley, malted barley, rye, and/or corn, depending on the type). Bourbon tends to use more corn (thanks to the government's rules, at least 51% of the mixture) than the others because that's what America's got in abundance. They have different names because they are made in different places, and only whiskey made in that place (scotch - Scotland, bourbon - America) is allowed to be called that certain name. Like the champagne vs. sparkling wine thing. Small fact: you don't often hear Scottish people say "scotch." More often it is a "malt" or just "whiskey." Scotch is sort of a derogatory adjective, especially when applied to a person. Anyway.

Next, we have the process by which whiskey is made, also slightly different from place to place. Like beer, whiskey is made with a proportion of "malted" grains, typically barley. As Wikipedia will tell you, grains that have been malted are simply allowed to soak in vats of water for a few days until they begin to germinate. Other than malted grains, the ingredients are unmalted grains, water, and grain spirit. Whiskey is distilled, not brewed. The grains are mixed together (malted and unmalted) and then allowed to dry. The drying process also differs from place to place, which creates a lot of the difference in taste between the different whiskeys, esp. scotch and Irish whiskey. In Scotland, the source of the heat used to dry the grains (traditionally a peat fire) is in the same room as the grains themselves, making the whiskey taste smoky. In Ireland, the grains are in a separate room from the heat source, and either the walls or the floor of that room are designed to let the heat in without any of the smoke, leading to a much sweeter whiskey. After that, the process is lots of mashing and waiting and distilling.

Which leads me to another difference: distillation. Bourbons are distilled once. Scotch, twice. And Irish whiskies, three times. The Irish will tell you that this is why their whiskey is the best in the world. It is definitely the sweetest and least alcohol-tasting. Sour mash, which you will hear in relation to bourbon, comes into play during the fermentation stage (before distillation). Yeast from previous fermentations is added to the new barrels to keep a consistent product. Apparently, the head of Jack Daniels keeps this yeast mixture in his fridge, and the same mixture has been used since the very first fermentations. Interesting fact. Getting back to distillation, the alcohol is heated after fermentation, and the alcohol (in gas form) travels through a series of tubes (like the internet) to be collected at the end. This is how they control the final alcohol content and purity of the end product.

After distillation is aging. Again, different from whiskey to whiskey. Bourbon is only allowed to be aged in new, charred oak barrels. This is why bourbon is dark in color. After the bourbon barrels are used once, they have to be discarded. Wasteful, yeah. For that reason, they are usually shipped to Scotland, to be used for aging scotch. They don't have the same one barrel, one use rule. Scotches can vary in color. Darker ones have been aged in bourbon casks. Lighter ones, sherry casks. However, sometimes coloring is added, because people have the misconception that darker = better. Basically, the casks just have to be oak. That's the only rule about them, though there are plenty of other rules, about all steps of the process. And people think wine is fussy.

The proofs also differ, as bourbon can be no more than 160 proof, and scotch, 189.6. The terms single malt, blended, etc just refer to how pure the whiskey is. Single malt is made from one cask, usually with malted grain as the highest percentage ingredient. Blended whiskeys are a mix of several different casks, of different grains usually. There's lots of fiddly little bits and pieces of information accompanying whiskey as well, not much of which you really come across unless you care. Briefly, sometimes different types of casks are used just to finish scotches, usually ones that previously held port or sherry. They give the scotch a slightly sweeter, wine-ier flavor. The rest of everything can be found on Wikipedia, per usual.

And now for stuff that you won't get anywhere else, as a reward for reading all of that: my opinions. As we all know, I don't discriminate. I will drink anything. But anyway.

Personally, I prefer scotch, if I'm just going to be drinking it straight. I like the strong, peaty flavor that probably turns most people off, because I'm basically a 50 year old dude. However, if you want to try scotch and are afraid of being as manly as me, try Glenmorangie. It, as its website reveals, is fairly fruity. Sort of like my wine of choice.
That bottle is not the typical one you'll see, as it's for one of the "port finished" bottlings.

My favorite scotch is Laphroaig, which can't be shipped to the US. Tragedy of tragedies.
Oh, and something else about scotch: there are four "regions" in Scotland where it is produced, each making a slightly different product. But there are lots of distilleries in each region, so flavors can tend to overlap and be hard to tell apart. And there's no reason to be that uptight about it anyway. Generally, anything from the Highlands or one of the islands is a good choice. The Lowlands are okay, but too close to England to be really respected haha.

As for bourbon, I think it is best for mixing. Yes, it can be consumed on its own, and there is some really good stuff, but, because of the single distillation, it is always going to have a pretty serious bite. The older any type of whiskey is, FYI, the smoother it gets. A 30 year old scotch, for example, has all of the flavor and none of the bite. And if I had the money, I would drink it by the cask-full. But no.

Because I am always mixing bourbons with soda or whatever, I just go for the cheap stuff. I will have a hard time believing that there is really any reason to stock anything other than Jack Daniel's in the home.
Jack and Dr. Pepper, pretty much heaven. I like the licorice flavor that Jack has. Maker's Mark is also delicious, of course, but with the few bucks that I save buying Jack instead, I can get my bottle of Dr. P. If you want a really good bourbon, however, Woodford Reserve won't do you wrong.

And Irish whiskeys are a breed of their own. Most people, who shudder at the thought of drinking bourbon or scotch, would have no trouble stomaching something Irish. They really and truly are sweet and smooth. So much so that I don't really... prefer them. The two most prevalent are, of course, Jameson and also Bushmills. South vs. north, really.

Both are good with ginger ale, believe it or not. A good, light drink that won't make you look like a pussy. The Irish also mix them with cranberry juice, which I tried and is remarkably good.

There is something to be said for whiskey from a Gaelic speaking country, however, as the word whiskey comes from the Gaelic for "water of life." Uisge-beatha (Scottish Gaelic) or uisce beatha (Irish), neither said however you're thinking it, as with anything in Gaelic.

So that is an introduction to the world of whisk(e)y for you. Probably more than you ever wanted to know. But hey, it never hurts to be informed. And the fun of whiskey is drinking it and figuring out what you like, as with wine or anything else. Just remember, don't take it too seriously. Your Scottish and Irish compatriots will laugh at you. They probably will anyway, but the less ammunition you give them, the better.

Edit!!: I forgot something fairly important: how to drink whiskey. Basically, it's up to your tastes. The typical "scotch on the rocks" is actually wrong, from a connoisseur standpoint, because adding ice makes the whiskey too cold and kills some of the complexities of the flavor. To be a true purist, you would drink it straight or with a little bit of filtered water added. Really, though, it's up to your tastes. All that matters is that you enjoy it.

"Girly" Wine

Jezebel posted a link to an article about female winemakers in northwestern Spain. It's definitely worth a read.

Apparently the area is known for albarino, which as we know is Courtney's favorite.