Dead Man’s Complaint

Dead Man's Complaint

The Blood and Sand is one of my favorite classic cocktail. I took a shine to it because the bartender who made me my first one told me that it was one of the only classics that specifically called for Scotch. Presumably he read that on Wikipedia. The drink is also interesting because it uses blood oranges. Let me tell you: juicing blood oranges makes a mess that looks like an abattoir catastrophe. But, I had some on hand as well as some other ingredients I wanted to use up, so I fiddled with the recipe.

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A Lot of IPAs Get Sent to the Great American Beer Festival


I’ve been playing with data on the last 15 years of the Great American Beer Festival. Why 15 years? Because that is as far back as there is information on the number of entrants in each of the categories. I started looking into this because I heard on a podcast that there were more than 250 entrants in the IPA category last year (in fact, there were 279 in the American-Style IPA category, and 453 IPA entries overall), and I found that to be astounding. Could there really be that much interest in hopbombs? So, I started poking around.

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Freckled Tart: Sumac as a Garnish


I played around with making a sexed-up sour, inspired by a drink that was in (I think) Robert Vermeire’s cocktail book. Vermeire’s version combined rye with lemon, lime, and confectioner’s sugar. I ditched the confectioner’s sugar and swapped gin for rye, plus added a bit of maraschino, and shook till complete. Once in the glass I grated some nutmeg on top—the result was tasty, like punch a la minute.

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I’ve been experimenting with making (NO BLENDER!) frozen margaritas using nothing but OJ, tequila, and a lil bit of sugar, salt, and acid. To make it blend-y without using a blender, I froze acidified juice in ice-cube trays and dropped an allotted amount of the cubes into the shaker for each drink; then I shook them with tequila, simple, and a pinch of salt till the whole mess was slushy and fantastic: a frozen margarita that isn’t overly diluted by particles of ice.

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Princeton Cocktail with Barr Hill

Princeton Cocktail

Constraint can lead to discovery. A couple of weeks ago I was tapping around Martin’s Index, looking for a drink to make with some ruby port Eliza had picked up. Being out of red vermouth constrained my options: a lot of classic recipes that use port call for vermouth as well. Eventually I landed on the Princeton cocktail, which is as elegant as it is simple: Old Tom stirred with orange bitters, strained into a chilled glass; into this you pour chilled port, which settles on the bottom, gemlike. Beautiful.

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Agar Clarification

Gin and Juice

I have been playing around with agar freeze-thaw clarification, as outlined in Dave Arnold’s book Liquid Intelligence, because it’s necessary to make tasty carbonated beverages like the one I’m holding here. Arnold’s explanation and description of the technique is very detailed and a good read, but to be honest I found it circuitous if you just want to know how much agar to use for a given amount of juice. (That’s right, W. W. Norton: The “flowchart” in the clarification chapter could have used a sexy infographic.) To simplify things for myself, I made a calculator. If you understand what’s going on in agar freeze-thaw clarification, you might find it useful. If you don’t, you should buy Arnold’s book.

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David Wondrich Lectures on Repeal-Era Bars at the Dead Rabbit

Tuesday night, Dave Wondrich and The Dead Rabbit kicked off their second series of lectures on NYC drinking. Where the first series covered pre-Prohibition cocktails and bars in NYC, this will focus on life after the Noble Experiment. The talk Tuesday examined how New Yorkers drank in the immediate aftermath of Repeal. The question of the evening was, “How do you reconstitute a lost world?”, because Prohibition had annihilated the culture of drinking. New York restaurateurs thought the best way to bring it—or at least the semblance of it—back was to get together as an industry, set standards (JIGGERS SHRANK, MY FRIENDS), up prices, and stick whatever old timers they could still find behind the bar.

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Radio Recap

Tuesday, I was on Beer Sessions Radio discussing bottling dates and freshness in beer along with Dave Brodrick, Sam Richardson, John Holl, and Jimmy Carbone. We sampled some very fresh brews and some not so fresh ones and discussed whether you need to worry about when your beer was bottled. The short answer is, yea, you do, especially if you’re drinking IPAs. Listen to the whole episode to hear the sounds five beer enthusiasts make when forced to drink stale beer, a proposal for Not Yet Gross By dates, and how best to age your age-worthy bottles.