Flaming Holiday Punch

Posted in Editor's Notes, Recipes on December 28th, 2009 by Josh

Another cocktail courtesy of Rachel Maddow. Isn’t she the best? This excellent holiday punch actually comes by way of Josey Packard of the bar Drink in Boston. You can watch Josey make the punch via this video from Rachel Maddow’s show. Read More

Tags: allspice, apple cider, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, lemon, nutmeg, orange, punch, rum

White House Cocktails

Posted in Editor's Notes on December 21st, 2009 by Josh

There’s only one thing I pay more attention to than spirits and cocktails, and that’s politics. I’m a total politics geek. Election night is my Super Bowl. I know – it’s sad. But it’s who I am.

Standing at the intersection of politics and cocktails is one of my favorite people – Rachel Maddow. Host of the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, she is a former Rhodes Scholar who holds a DPhil in politics from Oxford. She also happens to be an absolute connoisseur of classic cocktail culture.  For nearly a year now, Rachel has been seeking a breakthrough on one of the closely held secrets of the Obama White House: What kind of cocktails are the Obama’s serving at their infamous cocktail parties!? Finally, that breakthrough came this past week when Rachel herself attended a White House holiday party and reported this momentous news in the Cocktail Moment section of her show this past Friday. Read More

Tags: Rachel Maddow, The Gibson

This Holiday, Give the Gift of Intoxication

Posted in Editor's Notes on December 18th, 2009 by Josh

 width=As the holidays hurl towards us at breakneck speed, deciding what to get for that special someone (or your parents, your siblings, your boss, your co-worker, your doorman, your super, your postman, and so on, and so on) becomes a challenge. I’m here to help, though mainly just by way of taking advantage of other people’s hard work.

First – let me talk briefly about scotch. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how scotch became the quintessential non-threatening, no meaning implied gift, but there it is. For some reason, Johnnie Walker Blue has taken hold as the guaranteed-to-impress brand. I actually do like Johnnie Blue, but let’s be honest – it’s a bit pricey, no? (At $150 per bottle, I’d say yes.) The folks at Chivas sent me a sample of Chivas Regal 18 to taste, as well as a sample of Johnnie Walker Blue for the sake of comparison. From my vantage point, they’re actually tough to compare, as they have very different flavor profiles. I find Chivas to be generally sweeter (in a caramel sort of way), with a nice smoky finish. With Johnnie Blue, the smokiness is more up front, and the sweetness that follows tastes more like bittersweet chocolate to me. Read More

Tags: holidays, scotch

A Taste of Harlem

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2009 by Josh

Harlem750BL_00054CMYKgradient_LOWRESThe best part of writing a blog about spirits and cocktails is the opportunity that it creates to taste lots of new spirits and cocktails! Seems obvious, I suppose, but it means more than you might think. The opportunity to try something new is great, but the opportunity to do so along with other people whose company you enjoy and whose opinion you respect – that’s much more meaningful.

This past week, I joined some of my favorite people – fellow bloggers @nybarfly, @lincolnwrites, @selenawrites, and @sweetblogomine – to taste Harlem, a new spirit distilled in Holland (named after the Dutch town Haarlem), and based on an herbal blend that the Dutch call Kruiden. At first blush, one might notice some similarities to Jagermeister, in that Harlem is definitely a dark, herbal spirit, intended to be poured as a shot, and definitely best served ice cold. Read More

Tags: Harlem, herbal, shots

The Hot Toddy

Posted in Recipes on December 9th, 2009 by Josh


Last weekend, we had our first snow here in New York City. It was a bitter, windy night on Saturday when I wandered into one of my favorite bars, chilled to the bone. This bar has an amazing cocktail menu, blending the best of classic cocktails and modern mixology, but as much as I wanted a drink, the idea of something shaken with ice at the moment was almost unbearable. What I wanted was a hot toddy. Read More

Tags: bourbon, cinnamon, clove, cocktail, ginger, honey, hot, lemon, nutmeg, recipe

An Interview with Dave Arnold & Nils Noren – Cocktail Mad Scientists

Posted in Editor's Notes, Events on December 5th, 2009 by Josh

Liquid Nitrogen to chill cocktails

I had the great pleasure this past week of spending an hour with Dave Arnold and Nils Noren, both professors at the French Culinary Institute here in New York. Nils and Dave have each won acclaim in their own right – Nils as executive chef at New York’s Aquavit, as well as a number of restaurants in Europe, and Dave as an award-winning food writer and director of culinary technology at FCI. But together, they are arguably the world’s leading cocktail mad scientists. Read More

Tags: carbonation, clarification, Dave Arnold, distillation, emulsification, FCI, liquid nitrogen, Nils Noren, rotary evaporation

Today is Repeal Day

Posted in Editor's Notes on December 5th, 2009 by Josh

Today we celebrate the 76th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition (by way of the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933) here in the United States. Prohibition – for those of you blissfully unaware – was the nearly 15 year period in the early 20th century when the consumption of “intoxicating liquors” (our favorite kind of liquor) was outlawed. Read More

Tags: prohibition, repeal