But it's also nice to experiment with classic cocktails and new variations to add a little spice to your home menu. Jeremy LeBlanc and Christine Dionese have put together a nice little guide to home mixology titled The Best Craft Cocktails and Bartending with Flair that should be tucked between the bourbon and rye bottles of any home bar.
If the phrase "bartending with flair" brings to mind Tom Cruise in that horrible movie Cocktail or a suspender-adorned TGI Friday's bartender, put those images out of your mind. (Well, except maybe the waterfall scene in Cocktail.) The flair in these cocktails comes from the use of fresh ingredients and interesting techniques.
Two helpful sections at the end of the book highlight how to make inventive syrups, mixes and foams plus a collection of tips of the trade. If you're a fan of the Bacon Manhattan at The Patterson House, try making your own bacon wash at home and adding it to a simple cocktail called the Whiskey Pig. There's also a concise explanation of all the different types of ice you might see while out drinking and why you might want to use a particular variety at home for a specific cocktail. There's not an essay about the awesomeness of Sonic ice, though.
But what to pair with such a lovely piece of meat? That's the poser. On Bites' colleague Lesley Lassiter's recommendation, I had the chance to sample the lovely Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2008 last week and was duly impressed. This is a boy-dog wine, big and thick with a deep, dark garnet color and some serious tannins. I took the extra step to decant it for an hour to let it open up, and the wine was still changing considerably in the glass from the first to the last.
Although it was a full-bodied red, the years in barrel did soften the mouth feel enough to serve with either wine or pasta. In fact, it would be a great pairing with those PRB steaks if I hadn't already finished the bottle with some homemade lasagna.
More novel, but less adventurous is the idea of serving a nice light apertif wine with your Valentine's meal. My current favorite apertif is the French classic, Lillet, which blends Bordeaux wines and citrus liqueurs to create what is essentially a pre-made cocktail. Served chilled and up before a meal, or over ice with a wedge of citrus fruit, Lillet is an excellent start to any party, like prosecco without the bubbles.
Specifically for Valentine's, Lillet Rosé would be a fun choice. Pink and playful, this particular version of Lillet is a blend of the varietals that they use in their red and white incarnations, but with a little berry liqueur added to the mix. You can also substitute Lillet for vermouth in a traditional martini recipe to create a Vesper, one of James Bond's favorite cocktails. Because face it, James Bond probably never had a bad Valentine's Day.
We say surprise because it hasn't been open as long as some more established spots. Because of its proximity — a mere half block from Bites World HQ — Hops & Crafts has a lot of fans here. We like that they serve affordable pints and have a well-honed list, but it's also a good space to hang out when the weather's nice and the big garage door is open to the patio.
What were the criteria? Draft editors talked about what they look for in a great place:
Having well-cared for, thoughtfully selected beer with an eye toward variety, trends and tradition, in the kind of place you’d want to stay awhile, delivered by someone who knows their stuff. We don’t want to send you to a place where the server doesn’t look up from her texting when you ask questions, or where you’ll be told a saison “is basically a lager.” (And yes, both of those things happened on our visits.)
We asked one of our favorite beer fanatics, Friend of Bites David Wingo, who else he might recommend from Nashville for the list ...
Hot toddies have a long history in the world of cocktails as well as a wide variety of recipes that usually revolve around brandy, whiskey or rum mixed with lemon and a sweetener, often honey. More modern iterations include the addition of spices or hot tea, and frankly, these are all positive developments to what was already a pretty fine concoction.
But if you want to whip up an old standard, here's a recipe from Tullamore D.E.W Irish Whiskey, a product that's been around since 1829. Word is the polar vortex is supposed to take another dip south before this month is over, so you might want to keep this recipe handy.
THE HOT TULLY
2 ounces Tullamore D.E.W. Original
1/4 ounce Simple Syrup (1 part sugar/1 part water)
1/4 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
6 ounces Hot Water
Mix all in a mug or Irish Coffee cup and stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon wheel and cinnamon stick or feel free to add some fresh ginger or infuse the simple syrup with seasonal flavors like cinnamon, orange, apple or ginger.
This will surely cure what ails you!
So I'm always on the lookout for new accoutrements to dress up my whiskey cocktails. Woodford Reserve is definitely one of my go-to raw materials, and a half gallon is usually prominently displayed on my home bar. When I saw that Woodford had entered the cocktail accessory business, I was immediately intrigued and ordered up a couple of examples of their wares.
The first product that excited me was their Spiced Cherry Bitters at $18.95 for a 100 ml bottle. Since I add only a couple of dashes of bitters to most cocktails, this bottle should last a long time, despite the fact that I'm using the hell out of it. These bitters are made with sweet cherries which remind me of Luxardos. The addition of vanilla and clove characters and bitterness from gentian root make this a nice substitute for Angostura bitters in a Manhattan or Old-Fashioned. The fact that the bitters are aged in used Woodford Reserve barrels adds a nice note of oakiness to the whole proceedings and perfectly complements the bourbon.
But why not go all the way and use Woodford Reserve Bourbon Cherries as a finishing garnish? No reason, that's why. At $16.95 for a jar, they cost about the same as Luxardos and are a nice change of pace. Please don't ever ruin a perfectly good cocktail by using those neon bright Maraschino cherries as a garnish! Feh.
Ironically, buttoned-up Utah was the state that tipped the balance on the 21st Amendment by voting for ratification and putting it over the required three-quarters majority to repeal the 18th Amendment. There's a fascinating infographic here that shows how far we have and haven't come since 1933 and how attitudes have changed over the years. I was unaware that there were only 10 other states that share our "no sales on Sunday" law. I would've though it was more widespread than that, but maybe that will be addressed as part of the grocery store wine sales debate next year.
So how should you celebrate Repeal Day? The official website makes it easy:
There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, rivers to dye green. Simply celebrate the day by stopping by your local bar, tavern, saloon, winery, distillery, or brewhouse and having a drink. Pick up a six-pack on your way home from work. Split a bottle of wine with a loved one. Buy a shot for a stranger. Just do it because you can.
That sounds like something I can handle. Cheers!
The esteemed panel of judges was made up of an official taster from Woodford who was joined by local tipplers Kim Totzke and Tom Wood. Totzke is the director of operations at Provence, but has probably introduced more Nashvillians to good whiskey during her career in Nashville bars and restaurants than anyone else in town. When asked what her two favorite drinks are, Totzke usually responds "A Manhattan on the rocks and a Manhattan straight up." So she knows of which she drinks. Wood, a distinguished author whose name may be familiar from innumerable stories over the years in the Scene, City Paper, Nashville Post and various other publications, is also known as the wonderful husband of Friend of Bites (and Scene contributor) Nicki Pendleton Wood. Nobody in town looks more natural with a Manhattan in his hand than E. Thomas Wood.
After tasting their way through numerous cocktails, somehow the judges managed to come to a cogent decision. In the end, the winner was Ben Clemons of No. 308. You might recall that Ben had some success with clear liquor earlier this year, but his nutty take on a traditional Manhattan was pretty straightforward save for the addition of some walnut liqueur. If you want to try it at home, here's his recipe for what he calls the "Woody Allen."
1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon
.75 oz. dry vermouth
.25 oz. cherry cordial liqueur
.25 oz. walnut liqueur
3 dashes Woodford Reserve spiced cherry bitters
Brandied cherry, for garnish
In a mixing glass, combine Woodford Reserve Double Oaked with liqueurs and bitters. Add ice and stir. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with brandied cherry.
If you're looking for a reason to visit, perhaps the new seasonal cocktail menu will get you (me) off the couch and onto I-65 South. The previous menu was already innovative, with a special emphasis on 19th century brandy-based cocktails. For autumn, they have created new drinks featuring the flavors of the season like apple, ginger, fig and molasses.
Other new additions are special French press hot cocktails which serve two people in an interactive fashion, as patrons watch the infusion being created right in front of them. One particular cocktail that employs this process is the Herringbone, which heats vintage Armagnac, sweet vermouth, and rare Madeira with house-made Earl Grey tea and Angostura bitters in a French press at the table.
Grays is also whipping up half-liter batches of punch drinks which can be shared by up to eight people. (Or just one if you've been out shopping for holiday presents.) Grays also recently launched an online cocktail tutorial series that can be found at youtube.com/GRAYSonMain and plans to offer cocktail classes at the beginning of 2014, taught by PourTaste owners Jon and Lindsay Yeager.
Grays on Main
332 Main St., Franklin
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Add to that the fact that we have two high-strung poodles who go berserk every time the doorbell rings (sorry, UPS man), and Hallow's Eve turns into an evening where we sit around on the couch with one hand on a dog's collar and the other wrapped around a stiff drink.
So this year, I was pleased to discover a new fall cocktail from my friends at Tullamore that I intend to use to steel myself against the holiday. Tullamore has always been a favorite of mine, and the town and distillery have a fascinating history. Tullamore is located about and hour from Dublin and Galway and was the site of the world's first air disaster, as a hot air balloon fire in 1785 burned down most of the town. The town was rebuilt, including the construction of a distillery in 1829 right where the balloon went down.
Daniel E. Williams is the namesake of their most famous product, Tullamore DEW. His earliest days in the distillery were spent shoveling malted barley, and he slept in the hayloft during the nights. In 1887 he became general manager and ultimately owner of the distillery. After developing his (literal) signature product, he proudly marked every bottle from the Tullamore Distillery with the initials D.E.W.
Tullamore D.E.W trades on "the power of three." Three natural ingredients, three varieties of grain, three distillations and a blend of all three types of Irish whiskey — pot still, malt and grain. This forms the first triple-distilled, triple-blended Irish whiskey that is both complex and exceedingly smooth.
It also serves as a fine base for this great fall cocktail, the Apple Dew. Find yourself some good fresh squeezed apple juice or cider and mix up a few to enjoy while you wait for the doorbell to ring.
2 ounces Tullamore D.E.W. original
pressed apple juice
Optional twist: Try adding a dash of Angostura bitters for a hint of warm apple-pie spice notes.
Into a tall ice-filled glass add the Tullamore D.E.W.
Top up with pressed apple juice.
Garnish with a lemon wedge.
Still, they persisted, since they have recently launched at local Publix stores. So I gave them a try, and now I know what I've been missing. I do occasionally get the chance to enjoy local artisan milk, but I just never seem to be in need of any when I encounter Cruze Farm or Hatcher Family Dairy products. The convenient availability of Promised Land's all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free milk varieties might just get me to up my intake.
Of course, just drinking whole milk after a half life of nonfat is a real treat, but when you get Promised Land's more exotic flavors like Cookies-and-Cream and Peaches-and-Cream, these rich milks are like dessert for breakfast. And they're also a great substitute for the non-dairy creamer I've been known to resort to.
Promised Land's chocolate milk is a relatively high in calories and fat content, but dang, I just couldn't help myself and finished it straight from the bottle as a recovery drink after a run. And then went for another run the next day to burn it off. ... A reduced-fat version of their chocolate milk has about half the fat and a third less calories, but I didn't try that out. You gotta splurge somewhere.
So how about you Bitesters? Have you tried Promised Land yet? Do you have another favorite brand of milk that doesn't require a trip to a farmers' market or a dairy to get it?
If you'd like to learn more about these products, Promised Land's Gordon Kuenemann is going to be going on Talk of the Town tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 24. The broadcast is from 11-11:30 a.m. He'll be talking about Promised Land and will be showing how to make a "Midnight Craving Chocolate Banana Pudding."
Thanks @HipsterBeatings! Nice read...
I'll leave this here as their selections are actually better than the above. Gummy bear…
But this looks like a suitable substitute
I would cut someone for a box of FX chocolates. All sold out.
I do agree with Arnold's. But not really on their route back to AF1.