In lieu of our Sunday Food Porn post, we present our Monday EmoBooze Post.
In lieu of our Sunday Food Porn post, we present our Monday EmoBooze Post.
Victoria, British Columbia: home of the Newly Wed and the Nearly Dead. What comes to mind when you think of Victoria, British Columbia?
No, it’s fine. I’m not in a hurry.
Well, the fact is you’re probably right: Victoria is as quiet as a city can be and still be a city, and quite a delightful exception to the usual urban bustlitude it is, too. The fiercest competition in town is rhododendron-and-herbaceous-border-based, and all the pedestrian crossing lights are extra-long, to accommodate the mobility-impaired and the just plain meandering, which often enough includes your faithful foodie and drinkie blogger right here.
And it did, just a couple of days ago. Accommodate me, that is, and that to a positively decadent degree; my suite at the Parkside had not one but two fireplaces, two big screen tv’s, and two bathrooms. For one person. I felt like inviting people over for a pee or something, not to mention enjoying the view from the bathtub, although that invitation might be limited to Viggo Mortensen and Julian Assange and while it might be a tight fit I’m more than willing to try it. It had to be said.
But where was I?
Now, I don’t know about you. I only know about me. And why? Because you hardly EVER use the comment box, not that I’ve taken it to heart. Oh, no. Not that the comments box and I stare at one another in the darkness, asking where we went wrong, where the silence comes from, is it me, is it you, is it the XML-PRC?
Not at all. But where was I?
Victoria. Oh yes, I was in Victoria. Well, let me tell you something about Victoria you don’t know (I won’t tell you everything you don’t know, because we’d be here for the next 45 minutes, easy, and I bet it’s feeling like that already). I’m going to tell you that when it comes to foodie culture, this pleasantly placid BC burg has your city beat.
NYC, Montreal, Chicago, pack your knives and go…
I went to a foodie/drinkie dinner in honour of Tom Bulleit of Bulleit’s Bourbon in Victoria and as everyone gathered around the table (some two dozen, unless I’ve forgotten how to count past ten without taking my socks off and that’s always a possibility, particularly at a bourbon dinner) it rapidly became evident I was the least foodie person present. One fellow pulled out five or six baggies full of white powder – Hoo boy, it’s party time, you’re thinking, and you’re not exactly wrong, but while the baggies were a cause of great excitement among the assembled partiers, they were filled with an unexpected substance: sea salt. It was sea salt he’d collected from different harbours all up and down Vancouver Island, as many shades of white as the Innu have words for snow. And my friend Janice pulled out her latest batch of House Made bitters (she makes everything from chai bitters to rhubarb bitters to celery bitters for your morning Bloody Mary), and so it went from the fellow who collects knives over 100 years old to the fellow who distills dandelion brandy until it got to me and I said, “I don’t actually make anything, but I consume exceptionally well” and that seemed to be enough. Hey, what’s a symphony without an audience, eh?
That dinner, which I should have written up at the time but will get to sooner or later, took place, like many of the best occasions, at Clive’s Classic Lounge in the Chateau Victoria, within stumbling distance of the Inner Harbour. I adore this place, but it’s not just me who loves Clive’s: Tales of the Cocktail, the internationally recognized cocktail snobbery and standards organization has just named Clive’s one of the four best hotel bars in the world, along with the Artesian and the Savoy in London and Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon.
And it was at Clive’s that I found myself the other night, for any night that I am in Victoria it’s a better than fair bet I’ll be at Clive’s. And what did I do there? I stole the menu, of course.
These menus, they’re like gold. Bartenders in Vancouver bid for them in cocktails. I got the last one up to three Negronis, and that from a bartender who hates to mix anything more complicated than scotch on the rocks. They do, of course, have “PLEASE FEEL FREE TO TAKE THIS MENU” on the back, but I like to pretend there’s evildoing in it: a splash of nefariousness makes the drinks taste better. Okay, Vancouver, what am I bid for this latest menu, which contains a spread of tiki drinks, both classic and “antiki”? Use your words, Vangroover: put them in the comments box!
Now, there are few things I love as much as a good tiki drink, and few things are as abused in this cruel world as the palate of the tiki drink fancier ( #firstworldproblems ). I remember a holiday in Oahu where I drank at a different bar every night just to see what they hell they’d put in their Mai Tai: anything from gin and pineapple juice to a flower that smelled like rotting liver and a grass leaf from the waitress’s skirt (that just can’t be sanitary, can it?). If you’re ever stuck in Oahu, play the Mai Tai lottery and you’ll never be bored (although you may be queasy).
But back to good tiki drinks, and one specifically, from the Antiki side of the menu at Clive’s: the Holy Hand Grenade.
Now, I defy anyone with an ounce of Nerd Pride to flip past a drink named after a Monty Python bit without ordering it, although the Dead Parrot might be a challenge, not to mention Spam. Naturally, a table full of bloggers fresh from the Social Media Conference had to sample such a geeky delight, and here it is: a world exclusive as far as I know, and believe me, I know better than to actually ask, because then someone might tell me it wasn’t, and if Almighty Google doesn’t tell me so then LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU, so here it is, a world exclusive: the original Holy Hand Grenade by Nate Caudle of Clive’s Classic Lounge in Victoria. And yes, it’s in metric: nerds LOVE the metric system, duh!
The Holy Hand Grenade
50ml Bulleit Bourbon
1oz Green Chartreuse (OUNCE? what is this, Nate? Are you going bilingual on me or something?)
20 ml Appelkorn
20ml Chestnut Syrup
20ml Lime Juice
Shake and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a cross made of palm leaf.
This is absolutely effective against vicious bunnies that are terrorizing the countryside, whether escaped from a Monty Python skit or from Hef’s mansion. After a couple of these, that bunny will be thumping you on the back and telling you what a fine, fine person you are and how did he not notice it in all these years?
How tasty is this thing? Well, as with all good cocktails that aren’t pousse cafes, it gives the impression of being one perfect thing, rather than an assemblage of ingredients. You’d be hard-pressed to identify any of the ingredients here, actually, and it comes across light enough that you could be excused for thinking it wasn’t a bourbon drink at all. Given the varied sweetnesses of which it is concocted, it’s surprisingly light and refreshing, with a mellowed citrus taste and a complex, warm and earthy aroma and aftertaste which is unusual in a drink this summery. It’s perfect for sitting on a patio or lanai, enjoying the scenery or maybe a paperback of something amusing by nerd god Terry Pratchett.
Manolo says, the peoples at the Barcardi have politely asked the Manolo say the few words about one of his favorite drinks, the daiquiri.
Such joy to be found in the simple combination of quality rum (like Bacardi), lime juice, and sugar syrup, shaken together by the hand and poured over the ice into the frosty glass.
Refreshing and tartly sweet, not cloying but rather the exact combination of flavors, both fresh and bright. That is the genius of the real daiquiri, the perfect cocktail for the summer at the beach.
And now, imagine the scene: It is afternoon just outside your beach hut, and you are lying in the chaise lounge, in the shade of your palm-frond umbrella. Close by, the water laps at the shore, sussuring you into the pleasantly contemplative state. It is hot, but not oppressively so.
You are thirsty, but for what?
You call to your houseboy…
“Jim-Jim,” you say, “Bring me the hand-shaken daiquiri, pronto!”
The few short seconds and Jim-Jim returns, the perfect beach libation borne upon his tray.
Jim-Jim places it upon the table and retires. You pick up the glass. It is cool to the touch. The sound of ice cubes clinking. You consider the glass briefly, pale green and glistening with condensation.
And then you take the sip…
This is what the daiquiri offers, the little sip of perfection.
The Manolo urges you to rediscover the daiquiri: Bacardi Hand-Shaken Daiquiri!
P.S. This summer, rediscover the daiquiri. Bacardi Hand Shaken Daiquiri is the perfect addition to any summer get-together — fun, delicious, and ready to pour. Bacardi Hand Shaken Daiquiri is made with Bacardi Superior Rum, tangy lime and sugar. It is a perfectly balanced cocktail that is not too sour and not too sweet.
P.S. Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and compensation was provided by
Bacardi via Glam Media
P.P.S. The opinions expressed herein are those of the Manolo and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Bacardi
I haz an alibi!
It seems some people just can’t get enough of Canada’s Second Greatest Export (after that avatar of grace and elegance, Pamela Anderson). Yes, according to TMZ someone in California today hijacked hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka, about which we’ve blogged elsewhere.
“My partners and I are sorry to lose this much vodka to theft and do not condone criminal activity in any fashion, but we are happy that some consumers will be afforded the opportunity of tasting it at significantly lower than retail price.”
Think about it: if they’d hijacked the same volume of Iceberg vodka, they could have saved about $150,000!
“It smells of freshly mown hay and spring flowers, of thyme and lavender, and it is so soft on the palate and so comfortable, it’s like listening to music by moonlight…”
Somerset Maugham on Zubrowka
Listen closely and I will tell you a story. And it will be, without doubt, the best story you will read today and you will carry it with you, close to your heart like a flask of something warming and clear as a forest spring. Yes, some spirits just put me in the spirit to be metaphorical, and this bison grass vodka is one of them.
I have a Christmas tradition, and like most of my traditions, it’s a little un-traditional. You see, I collect Christmas ghost stories (and what, you may be asking, does this have to do with the subject matter of a food and beverage blog, and quite right you are but bear with me, the payoff is worth it). Great authors have written great examples of the genre, from Le Fanu to Dickens, from de Maupassant to Damon Runyon, and of these the greatest is a man of whom you have never heard.
Sarban was the nom de plume of a British diplomat who produced one slim volume of stories in his lifetime, and if you find it, grab it. And if you’re still wondering why, read on past my food and beverage blog subject appropriate digression to read his story A Christmas Story in its entirety, and then you’ll see why my Christmas isn’t complete until I’ve read this and why Zubrowka is near and dear to me and would be so even if it tasted like rotten myaso, which it does not.
It tastes exactly like Somerset Maugham has described above.
It’s an unprepossessing-looking liquid, almost exactly the colour and texture of gasoline, and in each bottle is one long, thin blade of bison grass from the Bialowieza Forest in north-eastern Poland, last refuge of the European bison, the Zubor. If you go ahead and uncork the bottle you uncork, essentially, Spring, the fragrance of forest clearings and wildflowers remaining noticeable even when the vodka is chilled to zero Celsius, which THIS vodka should not be. Vanilla is the dominant note, with hay and a touch of citrus zest, I’d say pomelo since it’s softer than lemon or grapefruit, and some floral notes as well, marigoldish although quite subtle. It’s sweet to the taste, because of the sugar, of course, which can make it challenging to mix if you forget it’s not like regular common-or-garden vodka. I enjoy this on the rocks, but at the urging of the company rep who sent me the bottle (hey, there have to be SOME compensations in blogging for a living, eh?) I asked a bartender of reknown for his best Zubrowka recipe, and marvelous it is, too.
Jay Jones’s Krasinski Cocktail
1.5 oz Zubrowka bison grass vodka
0.5 oz Liquore Strega
2 oz Rhubarb Syrup (fresh rhubarb, sugar, elderflower cordial)
2 dashes Fee Brothers’ Plum Bitters
Shake, strain into cocktail glass. You could, if the rep had sent YOU a promo bottle, garnish it with a tiny blade of bison grass, a packet of which she also sent along, and very snazzy that is too; let’s see your friends try to figure out what it is and then one-up you with “oh, I get MY bison grass from Mummy’s farm up on the Island” not that any of my friends would ever pull that on me.
Jay also suggests a cocktail of two parts cloudy apple juice (also known as cider in places where “cider” doesn’t mean alcohol) and one part Zubrowka, but you hardly need a recipe for that, do you?
Altogether, although this seems like a novelty liquor, you’re going to find that it’s extremely adaptable, interesting and fine enough to enjoy on its own, and likely to prove an esoteric favorite without being perverse or pretentious (Absinthe, I’m looking at you). Just don’t mistake it for regular old vodka and serve it frozen, in a shot glass. This is not the stuff of shooters, my friends.
And so, to the story. This entire tale is bracketed (and punctuated, frequently) with boozes of various types, but the magical story-within-a-story is entirely framed by Zubrowka, consumed in the Russian Consul’s house in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on a roasting Christmas Eve, 1928. Pour yourself something warming and pull up a chair; you’ll want to read the whole thing.
As regular raincoaster readers know, we at the ol’ ManoloFood blog are of Catholic tastes, although quite happy to take a Protestant on a quiet night. We are well-pleased both with the offerings of one of the greatest chefs in the world and with the humble pierogies from a drag queen burger bar. We are on the record as 100% down with wine tumblers (red wines only). And so, this may come as something of a shock to you, but there are a few things on this Earth about which we are entirely, stone-cold orthodox.
And Martini (or, more properly, Cocktail) Glasses are one of those things.
It’s fun to have glassware of different shapes and sizes, or even different colours: in my house, you can have 63 consecutive beverages chez moi without ever having the same kind of glass. You cannot, however, drive home afterwards. I have at least one of everything, including a frosted plastic Martini glass that lights up in rotating primary colours like a 60’s Christmas tree, thanks to the miracles of fiberoptics and LEDs, but I generally save that for parties where even the dog wears a lampshade.
Did you know it was legal to ride your horse when you’re drunk, as long as you do it in Montana? Sensible if you’re using a Western saddle, otherwise the risk of slippage is too great. You dressage artistes are out of luck. My grandfather used to have a draft horse that would take him and the wagon safely home from the pub without any input from him, but unfortunately it meant he could never sell that horse, as it would always end up taking whoever it was home to his farm. But I digress…
Anyhoodle, to steal an expression from Plumcake, I’m also going to steal Plumcake’s Yes/No/Maybe post style and apply it to glasses for the classic Martini. I don’t really care what you serve your FunTinis in, as long as you do it well away from me, but if you’re going to serve a proper Martini, even to yourself, you must, repeat MUST, do it in one of the following.
Riedel Vinum Martini Glass. I don’t care what else you own; if you drink proper Martinis, you need the proper glass. This is it. You don’t have to do Riedel specifically: you can make do with any very, very plain version in good-quality glass or crystal, and yes, quality matters. Buying a heavy, clumsy Martini glass with a thick rim and a stem like a redwood is just throwing good money after bad design. There are solid practical reasons that beverageware evolved the way it has, and it pays to use the right container if you care enough to make the drink well. Don’t stick yourself with a bunch of Martini glasses that aren’t a positive pleasure to hold, because if it’s not a gratifying sensual experience, why bother in the first place? Just get yourself a paper bag and two straws and you’re good to go, right? It’s not as if “Plymouth 6:1 with a Twist” is on your diet anyway.
Now on to the No’s:
These are the Martini glasses you cannot buy for Martinis. You can buy them for your FunTinis and your blended drinks or whatever godforsaken Jagermeister concoctions your roommate (it IS your roommate’s Jagermeister, right?) whips up, but you are not allowed to spend your hard-earned money on these until you have one set of perfect Martini Glasses as described above.
The Sagaform Martini glass. It’s pretty. It’s hand-blown. It is very well-made. But it’s shallow, which will warm your drink up in no time even if you keep the glass in the freezer (they don’t get dusty in there, and the solid knob is supposed to hold the cold) and it’s anything but graceful or sexy. Grownups should never drink anything, even juice from glasses that could be described as “stubby” (Old Fashioned glasses aren’t stubby; they’re just impressively broad for their height, like so many of their aficionados)!
Also No, the classic “Frat Bar “Martini Glass” even if it’s by Riedel, which it is in this case.
and the stemless version, which looks about as dignified as a man in a Hugo Boss suit who has forgotten his pants.
What is this? I don’t even...
Now, you may think I’m just being arbitrary and contrarian (moi?) but the fact is a Martini must be cold, very cold, to be very good. And the only Martinis you should drink are those which have been made very well, and served in glasses that will not interfere with your experience. Any glass that forces you to hold it by the bowl interferes, by turning you into a big, handsy gin warming device. And don’t try to kid me. “I’ll only hold it up near the rim” is the drinker’s version of “I didn’t inhale.”
Now the Maybes.
Once you’ve got a set of those perfect glasses mentioned first, just one for each friend you positively treasure enough to have over for the good stuff, you can add these and serve real Martinis in them. Yes, they’re slightly bizarre. And no, you can’t get these first. But they are ingenious, charming, attractive, and very practical. I’d bring them out with some adventurous friends, or possibly some people in the cocktail industry because although they never get tired of perfection, after your five hundredth perfect cocktail in a perfect cocktail glass, you might want to go just a little crazy.
The Nachtmann Dancing Stars Bossa Nova Martini Glass from, yes, Riedel. And no, they don’t pay me for this fetish of mine. This one is a Maybe because that stem is just sooooo thick. With these proportions it teeters on the edge of clumsy, but the beautiful cuts (click through and look at the zoomed pic) and the great quality of the crystal bring it back to the right side. It’s also nearly ten inches tall, so this is quite an imposing glass; singles will barely wet the bottom, so store these in the freezer and serve larger drinks in these. For all the “Dancing Stars” marketing, these are very macho glasses.
Libbey Swerve Martini Glasses. Because, just, why not? Libbey is decent utilitarian glass and these are cocktails we’re talking about, not holy water: some things just go better with a twist.
The actually useful stemless Martini glass. Unlike the above-mentioned atrocity, it will actually keep your drink cold; the downside is that you must be sitting down in order to use it (or freeze your left hand while turning the ice into water) and that it best suits drinks that are sipped slowly, as otherwise it’s completely unnecessary. If you’re a slow drinker, it might be just the thing for you, as it will keep your Martini good and cold for a very long time indeed, but coasters are going to be an essential accoutrement with the condensation. And word to the wise: shaved or crushed ice works: cubes, no matter how small, do not. Snow works really well, actually.
And now, my absolute favorite of the New Wave of glassware (“New” here meaning post-Prohibition):
The Starfrit Double Wall Martini Glass. It’s got a seven ounce capacity, which is just too big, but otherwise I love this little thing. That little pigtail at the bottom is just the right amount of crazy, even if cleaning this thing will drive you in that general direction. The clever double-walled design is not only useful for insulatory purposes, it’s also quite attractive. Just be sure to buy the extra-large olives and you’ll be all good.
Snazzy! It was really impossible to get a clear shot of the coloured glass inside the bottle due to refraction. No, those are not waterlogged gummi bears in there; they are little tiki gods in technicolour.
These are 3 stages of aged tequila. The bartender was mixing with the Platinum Silver; the Reposado is aged 6 mos and the Anejo one year. Massey also had another bottle secreted away under the table that was top of the line stuff – only 1000 bottles made a year, most of which get snapped up by the American market. I must have chatted up the right guy (not pictured) because I got a taste of it! The Voodoo Tiki guys’ main point seemed to be that we haven’t had access to really good tequila in Canada up til now, except for Patron which is so costly [ed. note: and Don Julio]. So this tequila is intended to fill the niche between Patron and tequilas that are fit only to be tossed back fast and chased with salt and lemon to cut the sicky feeling. This stuff is meant to be sipped, like good scotch.
The Green Dragon is exactly like a lime margarita with no ice and really scrumptious actually; and the Private Collection 1000 bottles a year stuff I would describe as smooth drinking, sweetish and slightly smoky flavour. Gentler than scotch and it barely even tasted like tequila as we know it. It was almost viscous.
Here’s the guy who was chopping the tops off coconuts. I am kicking myself for forgetting his name. The bar must have gone through 100 coconuts. The way they worked it was, when you came in, you received your lei, green tiki shotglass and an ounce of Green Dragon, which is a blend of tequila, mandarin and lime (like a margarita with no ice). Once you had drunk that you got a coconut, and then you brought the empty coconut back and Shaun would fill it with a Diablo.
The charming hostesses/coatcheck girls, Ashlee and Anastasia. Anastasia is holding one of the green tiki god shotglasses we all got to take home (don’t worry, I grabbed you one [thanks! can you ever have enough?]). Eventually, Voodoo Tiki will market minis in bottles that shape.
Shaun (sp?) the handsome bartender, mixing a Diablo. This is Silver tequila over ice, house ginger beer (chunky!) and cassis. Really yummy! and once the bar had heated up and everyone was getting drymouthed, he switched to pineapple juice instead of ginger beer. Refreshing!
Sometimes the morning after the night before begins before you’ve managed to get home. We feel your pain, Mark.
Cheers! A little mood music, anyone?