Liebster Award!

liebsterawardBack in January (I’m slow, sorry!) I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the presumably Canadian Winnipeg Arts, Hearts and Smarts. It took me this long to get to this post, but I’m still excited.

Encouragement and recognition from peers carries a special meaning. Someone out there with similar blogging goals and aspirations took the time to read your blog and prepare the nomination (which is no easy piece of work as I am learning.)

Liebster Award Acceptance Rules:

  • Thank your nominator.
  • Share the award on your blog.
  • Answer the 10 questions asked to you.
  • Ask 10 questions to 10 new nominees.
  • Notify them.

Here are the questions I was asked:

Continue reading “Liebster Award!”


A Slight Shift

Dear readers,

Starting next Sunday, I’m going to be switching this blog over to All subscriptions will be transferred over, and I’ll have this domain redirect, so I don’t think there should be any issues, or anything you’ll have to do to remain in touch. The only thing that you might need to change is if you’re reading it through an RSS reader like Feedly. Otherwise, I just wanted to make you aware.

Cheers to change!

The Craft Cocktail Movement – Op-Ed

A week or two ago, an article from Thrillist popped into my inbox, and I gave it a read. “The Crappy Craft Cocktail Revolution is Upon Us.

The author, Dan Dunn, is basically saying that a lot of places say they have craft cocktails but really they’re just pretending, they’re making them not well and only to make money. While this is probably true of some bars, I think it’s a gross generalization, and that he’s coming at it from a really odd angle. Honestly, it basically seems like he’s saying that the younger generation (millennials, us) doesn’t deserve to make cocktails, because they weren’t around when the cocktail revolution happened in the 80s.

He goes on two main tangents in the article, one about punk music selling out which is… whatever, and the other one which I think is bullshit. He complains that his bartender has sleeve tattoos but “[t]here was no way in his short time on the earth that he could have come by those babies honestly.” What the hell does that mean? You have no idea what this guy’s story is, what his reasons for getting the tattoos are, what he’s been through. Which is almost besides the point but it isn’t — his whole stance on the cocktail movement is that the new bartenders, the new mixologists can’t possibly have had the experience they need to really be bartenders. Which, again, is bullshit.

We make drinks because it’s fun, because it’s interesting, and it’s a way to experiment and show off new ideas. We’re not doing it just to make money, but we equally can’t very well do it without making money. He’s very hung up on selling out and being indebted to The Man, and I’m pretty sure that’s just called having a job.

He also seems very incensed by the fact that this particular Last Word, a cocktail that I’ve never had but seems kind of interesting, had too much green chartreuse. What’s the big deal? Sometimes people don’t make cocktails super well. You can’t expect every bartender in the city, even every bartender in an establishment to be at the top of their game. Some bartenders don’t know certain drinks. I was at Patina once, a classy Los Angeles spot, and they couldn’t make me a Vieux Carré, my favorite drink, because they didn’t know what it was. Did I make a fuss? No. It’s natural to not know everything, however much you might want someone to.

We also need to be taught. It’s not always said, but let’s face it. I’m here learning tricks from Jerry Thomas. If I worked at a bar, I’d expect to learn a thing or two from the older bartenders, find out about some new drinks, and so on. But what does Dan Dunn do when his drink isn’t made correctly? He says nothing about it, and instead makes some asinine joke about a drink that involves punching the bartender in the head. It might just be a literary device, rather than what happened, but either way that’s not how you get a good Last Word. Tell us what we’re doing wrong, and maybe we’ll make it right.

Finally, I just looked at his other articles on Thrillist. He only has two, this one lamenting the loss of the “true” craft cocktail movement, and another lamenting the loss of the cool culture in Abbot Kinney, stating that “Venice is dying.” It must be a sad life to be Dan Dunn.

I’m not saying it’s all him. I’ve definitely seen some overpriced “craft” cocktails before, Moscow Mules being toted as awesome new inventions, and the like. And I’ll probably still take those over an equally crappy rum and coke. But for Dunn to just scoff and reminisce about the good old days instead of doing something about it, that doesn’t help us. We want to learn, we want to make great drinks, and we try every day to do so. Don’t knock us down just because we don’t fit with your ideal of the classic bartender.

A Fresh Start

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All right, so. It’s been a while since my last entry, and there are all manner of excuses, some valid, some useless. But what it comes down to is that the initial format of the blog is, well, tricky. To comment on news stories with drinks requires not only a very quick turnaround time, but also on-demand creativity, which is not ideal, and often not possible.

Therefore, to keep the blog going, we have to shift gears a bit. The new direction I’ve decided on is a little less about the news, and more about the booze, but will hopefully be just as interesting, if not more so.

Let’s talk about Jerry Thomas. Jerry Thomas is considered by many to be the instigator of American bartending, mixology, and not just drinking spirits straight. Of course, he didn’t start this tradition, but he was the  first in this country to write it down, codify it, and convert it from oral tradition and off-hand recipes to something you could look up, create, and enjoy across the country.

In 1862, he published a book which had about 30 names, as seemed to be a trend back then. Bar-Tender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks Or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion. This was the first drinks book published in America. It has the first versions of what we now think of as classic cocktails, from juleps to punches and more. And, I’m hoping, a bunch of other weird stuff that we don’t use as much today.

Why do I hope that? Because the new direction of the blog is going to be a sort of “Julia and Julia” type thing. I’m going to go through the 200-some odd recipes in this book and try them all out. Or die of alcohol poisoning along the way. Some may be trickier than others (the first recipe, for example, has no listed ingredients nor measurements, so that will be a good test), but I’ll do my best. I haven’t yet decided whether we’re going in order or not, but if I get really tired of a particular section I may jump around.

And, of course, I’ll aim to keep them related somewhat to news, whether current events or interesting things that happened a while ago that might be somewhat related.

I’m also going to try to spruce up the place a bit, shift the site itself into something a little fresher. We’ll see how that goes as well.

So that’s the plan. Let me know what you think.

Tasting Notes:

BN: A slight aftertaste of fear, but an overall pleasant tanginess of expectation and excitement, topped with a ~150 year old mustiness.

PiC: Some of the recipes in that book are “for 20.” There are two of us. I’m excited.