As I'm sure you know, Absinthe is back and while health regulations are in place to prevent fun little things like blindness, there are a whole lot of shitty absinthes on the market and relatively few worth the ridiculous prices people are charging. We've found two shining examples (made in America) and another which is a prime example of what you should avoid at all costs.
I hate to break it to you, but just about every bit of marketing you've seen on Absinthe is complete and utter bullshit. Absinthe will not get you high, it is not any more deadly than other spirits and it does not call forth green fairies (I suppose that depends on when and where you drink it actually).
Although these dudes were probably having a few when they thought of this (via ohrheally)
Here's a quick and probably inaccurate summary of the real story behind absinthe. Absinthe started out as an herbal elixer but first rose to prominence in the mid-1900's after French troops were given the spirit as a treatment for milaria. When the troops came home they had developed a taste for the spirit and from there its popularity spread rapidly. After that a series of unfortunate events befell absinthe. First it was extremely popular and so everyone and their mother was producing it and many times under poor and entirely unregulated conditions (think bathtub gin) which lead to some people getting ill. Second Absinthe had seriously pissed off the wine industry. Third the temperance movement was ramping up and chose absinthe as their poster-child for what's wrong with drinking. One Teetotaling Asshole was quoted as saying:
Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country. (Luckily they banned Absinthe and transformed France into the wonderland of wussy men, hairy women, and hard-working infants that we know and love today.)
Absinthe is a high proof liquor, generally in the 60% ABV range, which is one of the reasons its so damned expensive. But, considering that most spirits are watered down significantly more, I would say that $50-60 is a fair price for a bottle of good absinthe. We tried three last weekend. Here's the breakdown.
If you're thinking of picking up a bottle of absinthe don't go in without some information. Read some reviews and know what you're getting into. One bottle you don't have to worry about is Vieux Carre. Even the bottle itself, a rectangular decanter, is beautiful and has a sexy little stopper (sorry, I have a bottle fetish). What's inside is a great example of what absinthe should be. It has easily distinguishable flavors of anise, fennel, wormwood and a bit of mint as well. It's well balanced and a great intro to absinthe. It costs about the same as any other full bottle you'll see out there and you don't have to worry that you'll end up tossing most of it out.
Our Rating: 4/5 Price: $50-60 www.vieuxcarreabsinthe.com/
Germain-Robin Absinthe Superieure
Germain-Robin's Absinthe Superieure starts with a superior spirit: wine made from honey and apples and distilled on a cognac still. This is what's known as a Blanche Absinthe so instead of green it's clear. After loucheing the overall product is like a watered down milk (mmm tasty, right?). The flavor is light and complex. Sweet but not cloying. At 45% ABV its an absinthe you could drink straight if you wanted to. F. Paul Pacult, who is to spirit reviewing as the Pope is to Popery, said it was "understated and delicious" and called it one of the top 15 liqueurs in the world. It's significantly more pricey than most absinthes. You'll pay around the same price for half a bottle of this that you'd pay for any other bottle. But if you want the best, it's worth it.
Our Rating: 5/5 Price: $50 for 375ml www.greenwaydistillers.com
Mata Hari Absinthe
And in the avoid it category we have Absinthe Mata Hari. My first impression of this one was that it must be some kind of distillation of Listerine. Not the really bad Listerine, the minty one, but still the overall impression is toothpaste and bitterness. Mati Hari is a Bohemian Absinthe which means it does not tase much of anise (think black licorice) if that's what's always kept you away from absinthe then by all means give Mara Hari a try. It is billed as a mixing Absinthe. In that case it might be useful as a way to add herbal taste and higher proof to your drink, but beyond that I can't really recommend this one.
Our Rating: 2/5 Price: $50 www.absinthematahari.com
If you're going to try absinthe then do just that: go out to a bar and get them to make you the drink properly with high end spirit. If you're a fan of black licorice or herbal liqueurs in general you'll probably really enjoy it. But if you're thinking of taking a bottle home, beware. The ratio of crappy absinthe to quality absinthe in most liquor stores is about 4:1.
"No sir, I don't like your sweet beers, I prefer to gargle a tincture of bitter herbs spiked with some club soda and a bit of high proof whiskey." Well then, Wells Banana Bread Beer is not for you. If there is such a thing as a dessert beer, this is it. Simply put, its a nutty brown ale brewed with bananas and spices and it tastes almost exactly like banana bread. Which is fine by me, because I could happily survive on banana bread alone for weeks at a time if it weren't for the massive intestinal discomfort and almost certain death such a diet would produce.
The Charles Wells Pub Company is better known for its less desert-like brews such as Red Stripe, Kirin Ichiban, and Young's Bitter, although Banana Bread Beer isn't entirely a departure for them as they are also the maker's of Young's Double Chocolate Stout.
Let's be honest, a lot of "fruit beers" taste like total crap. Its as if the brewers were trying to create something other than beer. Instead of improving on a great beer they make a Frankenstein-ish brew that doesn't really belong anywhere. Not so with Wells Banana Bread Beer. They've taken the original Charles Wells beer and made a unique expression that still tastes like beer. On the whole, its well balanced and finishes dry to avoid any sickly sweetness you might expect. My only real complaint is that its a bit pricey. (Most likely due the the English still being a bit sore over the thumping we gave them.)
Our Rating: 4/5 (Highly Recommended) Price: $10 for a four pack
It might have been their fighting style...
I know what you're thinking. "Berry-beer? Just how 'berry' are we talking here?" Very berry, my friend. Very berry indeed. Don't be scared...it'll be ok.
Leinenkugel's makes one of my favorite wheat beers (Sunset Wheat) which we reviewed here not to long ago on the site. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews about Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat because, when you get right down to it, it tastes an awful lot like Fruit Loops. I'll be honest with you: I'm not really in to dark beers (I know...I need to broaden my beer-horizons) so the fruit loopy thing is right up my alley. Well, if you didn't like that one you won't like this because it takes the fruitiness up another notch.
Ok, maybe it doesn't literally go to 11. But if you don't like sweeter, lighter, wheat beers then you're going to hate this stuff with a passion. Your beer belly might even reject you entirely and waddle its fat self out the door in disgust. But if you're open minded...and maybe a little fruity yourself, this is actually a decent, albeit very sweet, expression of wheat beer.
When I said 'lighter' before I meant color because this is certainly not a sugar-free beer nor is it easy on the calories at 207 per serving. I suppose you could classify this as "dessert beer" if you really wanted to because its really more of a treat than it is something you might sit down with at a meal. The blurb on Leinenkugel's website says that it's brewed with Logan, Elder and Blackberry flavors but the label says it's made with real blackberry juice. The truth is you're going to taste that blackberry more than anything.
It's not quite soda-pop but if you're used to drinking Guinness you just might mistake it for one. On the other hand if you're new to the beer-game or trying to introduce someone there are worse places to start.
Rating: *** (Recommended) Price: $7.50
If you absolutely hate light/fruity beer with a passion then leave us a comment about what beers you'd like us to review next.
Domaine De Canton is a high class booze made with VSOP Cognac (that's like Level 2 cognac) and baby ginger. What is baby ginger? I asked that same questiona and turned to my trusty friend Google for the answer.
That joke was funny to the 15% of our readers who enjoy extra-bad classic cinema. (Context will be provided at the end of this post - promise.)
Now that the bad comedy portion of the review is out of the way...
Domaine de Canton is a pioneer in the Liqueur world who, in my opinion, took a big gamble using ginger as it's base flavor. Then again, with everything from dragon fruit to artichoke hearts (seriously - there's an artichoke flavored booze) already being made into booze, ginger may be all they had left to work with. Why was it a gamble? Well I conducted a survey, which consisted entirely of my drinking buddies, and when asked their opinions of ginger the responses were 98.3% negative. Why do people hate ginger? I'm not sure really, but a lot of people seem to have decidedly unfriendly feeling towards this little root. Before I tasted Domaine de Canton I would have been counted among the scoffers. But tasting is believing, and I'm a believer.
First of all, I have to admit that I am a little bit softened up by the bottle. I've got to put Domaine de Canton up there with the top 5 or so cool bottles I've seen. And you know what, I'm just going to say it: the bottle matters to me. I know this blog is not about the pretentious "my booze is cooler than your booze" argument but I have to say that what a bottle looks like on my bar does cross my mind when I'm making a purchase. (Booze snobs feel free to flame away at my lack of integrity)
But just like any other booze, Domaine de Canton, cannot fly on good looks alone. Luckily Domaine de Canton has the taste to back up that pretty face....bottle....bottle face. The taste is Ginger, yes, but its a sweet ginger that doesn't overpower you. That nice Cognac they threw in there holds its own as well which, I think, qualifies this as something a little closer to a stand alone spirit. Not something I'd drink "neat" all the time; but it doesn't have to be relegated to the category of "just a mixer" either. I think the real strength of Domaine de Canton is all the new drinks you can make and the old ones you can spice up (literally) with it. It's a flavor bartenders and home-tenders haven't been able to incorporate very easily before now.
All things considered, this is a really solid liqueur folks, if you're looking for something new and aren't ginger-prejudiced then you'll definitely have some fun with this.
Our Grade: A / $30 / http://www.domainedecanton.com/
Some people say that if you don't like egg nog then you've never had it home-made. I say, "if you don't like egg-nog you probably tried to make it at home once and completely EFFED it up." I hate to post a drink recipe that I was unsuccessful at turning into a tasty beverage but I'm not really the best chef, so maybe you'll have better luck.
Here's what I was working with:
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
- 1 pint whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 ounces bourbon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 egg whites*
This is Alton Brown's recipe and while Alton is definitely one of my favorite cooking personalities, I'm not sure he really knows what he's doing here. There's no vanilla (which I really like and would have expected) and not all that much sugar in the recipe either. The biggest selling point of making it fresh, for me, was that Alton told me I could make ice cream out of it. Wrong. Didn't work. You suck, Alton. You can find the full episode (and a better guide than I could type) for this recipe here and here. Just keep it under your hats or Food Network is going to shut us down.
There are about a hundred different videos on youtube with recipes for egg nog. This is by far the best one I've found, if only for the sheer massiveness of it's host.
Please notice that Chef Paul Prudhomme is sitting through this entire clip. Asking him to stand for 90+ seconds at a time is simply out of the question because the man is so incredibly fat. After eating his own cooking for 50+ years the man has gotten so fat that he is now, in fact, bulletproof. You read me right, Chef Paul's layers of pure unadulterated butter-fat may have in fact saved his life in 2008 when a stray .22 caliber bullet struck his now impervious exterior. He is 70 years old now and the fact that this man is not dead yet suggests that his sheer defiance of all things healthy has caused God to grant him immortality, just to screw with skinny people.
Here's the facts boys and girls: If you simply add a few ounces of Bourbon to your favorite "Carton O' Nog" (a 3-1 ratio ought to do it) and a little fresh nutmeg and you can save yourself about an hour of hassel and possible food poisoning. Win, win, win.
Yes, I Know, I'm WAY Behind...More Drinks Coming Throughout the Day. AND LOTS MORE CAPITAL LETTERS!
Nope...sorry. This isn't the thousandth christmas-booze-buying-guide you've read this year. I'm not concerned with what you should buy or what you might want. I don't care. Really...I don't. So sit back, pour yourself a drink, and read MY ultimate Christmas gift list.
The Kraken Lamp
You know we love The Kraken here at Boozeblogger. Well since our review went up (coincidence?) The Kraken's following has exploded and it's available damn near everywhere. So much so that you can now buy really expensive Kraken merchandise at their online store. This little baby will set you back a cool $200. But can you really put a price on such...dare I say...elegance?
Do I need one of these? No. But that is not what a Christmas list is about. The secret of a good christmas list is writing down ridiculously priced items along with cheap junk then you put what you REALLY want in the middle so your parents will laugh at the expensive stuff and feel like jerks if they buy you the cheap stuff. The Soda Stream is actually only about $99 for the base model and allows you to create your own club soda and tonic water in seconds. I don't use that much of either, so whenever I need it my bottle is flat, or just plain stale. Soda Stream means never having to add another plastic bottle to a landfill, because...you know...some people care about that.
The Glencairn Glass
At $19 a pop, The Glencairn Scotch glass is a bit over-priced. But according to some reviews I've read it actually does improve at least the "nose" of the scotch. PLUS it's pretty and I WANT IT!
Crystal Head Vodka Gift Set
This may be my favorite Booze Gift Set for 2010. If you can find it, Crystal Head Vodka's holiday set comes with two huge skull shot glasses. I like these because that tap into that part of me which is still a little boy and thinks anything with a skull on it is the epitome of cool. I'm pretty sure "Skulls are cool" is the entirety of Crystal Head's marketing plan as well. Yes, it's $50 bucks, but c'mon...SKULLS!
Dear Santa, If you truly love me you will bring me all of these things. If not I'm going RIGHT back to Jesus!
Nope this isn't another make your own booze post; I've not yet learned how to make Scotch in my bathroom. But YOU could make scotch in Scotland (which is at least 75% cooler than my bathroom) if you win The Glenrothes' I WANT TO MAKE SCOTCH contest. We were just alerted to this contest by our friends over at Liquor Locusts, which is another friendly neighborhood booze-blog you should be reading.
The Picturesque Glenrothes Distillery in Rothes, Scotland will be your home-away-from-home...until they kick you out.
Your bedroom will be right behind still #7. It should keep you toasty-warm!
work at the historic Glenrothes distillery learning the art of creating Scotland’s quintessential elixir. The winners will be hosted by Ronnie Cox, Keeper of the Quaich and The Glenrothes Brand Heritage Director, and The Glenrothes Malt Master, Gordon Motion. The participants will spend time learning and honing their skills at each stage of the craft, from testing the fresh water source that runs alongside the distillery, to milling, mashing, fermenting and distillation. From there the whisky makers will be rolling up their sleeves at our onsite cooperage, laying down casks for maturation, nosing whisky from maturing casks to discover the art of maturation, and selecting exceptional casks to be bottled as The Glenrothes single malt whisky. Each of the winners will produce their own selection of The Glenrothes – labeled with their own hand-written tasting notes.
I'm a blogger and my handwriting is absolute crap so I think I'm disqualified but YOU CAN STILL WIN! Deadline for entry is January 31st, 2011.
We're going to be reviewing this lovely little absinthe (Absinthe Mata Hari) next week but since it's niche in the absinthe market is supposed to be that its more "mixable" we're going to take it out for a test drive. Tonight I'm drinking the Bohemian Mojitio which you can take a look at in this video.
6-8 Mint Leaves
2 Lime Wedges
2 Dashes Simple Syrup
1 oz. Bacardi Limon
1 oz. Absinthe Mata Hari
Soda Water to top
Throw the mint leaves into the bottom of the Collins glass. Squeeze in the juice of two lime wedges (about 1/2 oz lime juice) and add the wedges to the shaker. Add the simple syrup and muddle. Add the remaining ingredients and tumble. Return to collins glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a generous sprig of mint. I'm a big fan of the Mojito. This is an interesting spin on the drink but I wouldn't say it rivals the original. Not bad for a change of pace.
This was originally posted as a guest blog on www.whatdoesjohnknow.com back in early september. Though it's been password protected I noticed that a number of people have been trying to view it because it keeps showing up on the random post feed above. I'm not sure of the "netiquette" of reposting something you wrote for another persons blog...but I'm just going to risk it. Enjoy and leave me some damn comments.
Christopher Hitchens is dying. Whether you love him or hate him the man is now faced with a fate we will all meet by a method of departure most of us hope to avoid. He's been diagnosed with late-stage esophageal cancer and if he's very, very lucky he might make it another few years. People die every day and while there may be better men to mourn there might be no better man to answer the question concerning libations and departures we pose to you today.
These are Hitchens' 10 Commandments for Drinking from his recently released memoir: Hitch 22
10.It’s much worse to see a woman drunk than a man: I don’t know quite why this is true but it just is. Don’t ever be responsible for it.
So here's the question. Imagine you are told the date and time of your death and, in that final hour, given access to one last dram of any whisk(e)y in existence or out of existence. One final drink before you shove off into the darkness. Would you choose the most expensive in the world? Maybe the oldest you can think of? Maybe that one that you never could find. Maybe the same one your father or grandfather drank, the scent of which you still remember wistfully when you think of Him. Would it be your old standard or a new favorite? Would you break into the Buffalo Trace distillery and crack open a barrel knowing that they'll NEVER TAKE YOU ALIVE?! I might. Either way let us know your thoughts in the comments. And make it a good one; it's your last.
The fairies who inhabit the trees of these here "webernets" have informed me that it is National Vodka Day. Tomorrow is National Alcoholics Anonymous day. Coincidence? I think not! Since I was JUST informed of this (it's nearly midnight) I'm JUST now writing about it. Since Van Gogh's people were nice enough to remind me of this fact they win a free posting of their VODKA-DAY-IS-AMERICAN-AWESOME-FUCK-YEAH video. Enjoy.