It’s been awhile.
The blog’s gone nowhere but I have. Twitter became really interesting and then my career took off. To be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted to write about and had other things on my plate. When it wasn’t work, it was friends or fun or family or any of the many little things that take up so much time in our lives.
When I thought of the blog, it was always in the context of education. Twitter does such a good job of sharing news that posting links on a blog seems quaint and old-fashioned. On the other hand, people are always asking me for my recipes and this is as good a place to share them as any.
I probably still will do that but what I really want to do now is talk about the year and all of the cool things I enjoyed (mostly in regards to drinking because that’s what this is all about).
I know that people like to complain about the LCBO but try living in Pennsylvania. They have Angostura and Fee’s. That’s it. We don’t have it as bad as you might think. Sure, the timelines for interesting products actually being on shelves can be short or arbitrary but I look at the LCBO as a curator and while they’re not perfect, they do okay.
Smith and Cross is my favorite rum. Love it. As far as overproof rums go, it blows Wray and Nephews out of the water. Punch, cocktails, sipping it neat… it’s all good. Enjoy it while you can.
Another nice option is Rhum Barbancourt. One sip and Gosling’s will no longer be de rigeur for your Dark ‘n’ Stormys.
Tequila will always be Tromba Blanco for me. Eric Brass, one of the founders, is a friend but even if I didn’t like the guy, there’s no denying how delicious this tequila is. I love it as a shot, I love it with soda and a little lime, I love it in cocktails. I will feature it whenever I can. I can drink it all night and feel good the next day. Tequila Tromba is probably done more to get me into drinking tequila and, more importantly, drinking better in general, than any other product. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out.
There’s also mezcal, tequila’s older brother. It took me awhile to warm up to mezcal but I worked very hard at it and I’ve arrived at some conclusions:
Mezcal is better than scotch. It’s more versatile in cocktails due to the greater variety in the products available and it’s better for you. Like tequila, it won’t leave you feeling like ass the morning after. It might be seem all hot and smoky but if a simple cucumber can tame it, what other flavors might pair well?
Try it. Then try it again. Keep up with until you like learn to appreciate mezcal. It’s kind of like when you were eighteen and you had your first beer (Corona?) and it was so goddamned bitter you could barely swallow it. That didn’t stop you. No, you kept on drinking beers until you learned to appreciate it. Mezcal requires perseverance but it rewards the dogged.
Start with Zacbe Reposado. It’s a bit mellow from being aged but will give you an idea of what you’re getting into. The next step is Leyenda Tlacuache. Young and punchy, it’s the best expression of what mezcal is all about that is available to us Canadians.
Ahhh, whisky… I was all over the place this year. Forty Creek will always hold a special place in my heart. When I open a bar, it will be my rail and people will appreciate it just as much as I do. Other products caught my interest but they were only crushes. Lot 40 seemed like such a damned good rye whisky and a worthy successor to Alberta Premium at Whisky Live. I liked it so much I bought a bottle and then found it far too sweet. Was I too drunk or bamboozled by the rep? Who knows? I have no interest in it now. America has nothing to worry about when it comes to being the big dog with rye whiskies. Yet.
Bourbon became a much bigger thing in my life thanks to my time at Soho House. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling a great many products and using them in cocktails; primarily Old-Fashioneds and Manhattans. Basil Hayden’s has such a wonderful nose, probably the best of any I’ve whiffed, but it doesn’t impress in the same way on the palate. Knob Creek on the other hand has been like an old friend that I unfairly discounted until I was quite rightly reminded of why I liked them initially. I’m in.
Scotch? All I have to say is anyone discounting blends is being pretentious. Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve is good stuff.
Gin has seen a lot of “premium” entries and I can’t see the price tag being justified. A prettier bottle does not make Plymouth worth $20 more. No. 3 is lovely but I won’t be paying $50 for it. No, I’ll stand behind Citadelle as my go-to. It plays well with many cocktails and is only $31. I’m rather fond of Beefeater 24 as well but I’ll leave up to you whether a savings of $2 is significant.
I’ve neglected to get into vodka because I don’t tend to drink it. Unlike some bartenders, I’m not going to be pretentious about it and say it’s lousy but I also don’t really care whether you like it or not. I think Luksusowa is fine. Just don’t buy Smirnoff.
Next week, I’ll get into liqueurs, amaros and bitters.