Archive for December, 2011

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The Nobler Goes Irish

December 30, 2011

After celebrating the classic American whiskeys in the first two Nobler Gatherings, it was time for a trip overseas. For the Third Gathering, it was all about Irish Whiskey and with the Holiday spirit in the air, the group decided to splurge a bit. After starting off the night with a little Irish coffee, it was time to break into the Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey. Midleton is a relatively young addition to the Irish Whiskey varieties but it’s creation to celebrate the whiskey’s produced in Midleton can be tasted with every glorious sip.

Midleton is a blend of hand-picked Irish whiskeys produced in limited quantities (50 casks a year) after at least a 12 year aging in used bourbon or sherry barrels. The result is absurdly smooth and simply delicious. The flavor lingers making for a truly tremendous tasting experience. Nobler approved!’

But as usual, with the prospect of empty bottles looming, the Noblers must be fed. This rich red wine braised shepherd’s pie with blue cheese studded mashed potatoes was a fantastic pairing to the Midleton. Another perfect Gathering!

So with our quick stop in Ireland rounding out 2011 for the Noblers, let me be one of the first to wish you all a Happy New Year! Drink well!

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The Year of the Ice

December 28, 2011

Ice is no longer just a means to an end. Because with all of the enthusiasm around good drinking, ice is now being considered just as important as the booze. Which is why I was excited to see a few new ice related items in my gift haul this year. The perfect ice spheres (not so perfect in this picture) look amazing in full out cocktails. We had a few this weekend and the iceberg like quality is pretty fantastic. And because of the compact nature of the ice, it doesn’t melt so quickly diluting your drink. As for the squares, a cocktail is also an option but a good and solid bourbon would be perfect here. The ice will slowly melt, mellowing out that whiskey for the perfect sip.

But the highlight of the haul has to be these whiskey stones. Admittedly, I have not used them yet but that’s going to change real shortly. The concept is simple. Throwing these soapstone cubes into your drink (out of the freezer or course) chills down your whiskey without any of the previous mentioned “mellowing”. So, these aren’t for your $12 bottle. These are for the whiskey that needs nothing more than a slight chill. And hopefully if you were as lucky as I am, you have a few of these bottles waiting for you now.

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Christmas Was Good to the Nobler Experiment!

December 27, 2011

Our two homemade brews, Cow Thieves Ale and The Mustache Maker turned out great. The IPA has just enough bite and the Cow thieves is nice and light. I’m excited to let some of the Noblers give these a shot.

This blueberry, cardamom, and vanilla cocktail inspired by some friends was the perfect Christmas eve starter. I’ll post the recipe this week for sure.

The Nobler Christmas haul.

Digging in to some Monkey Shoulder with one perfect ice ball.

A little bubbly for Christmas dinner.

And dessert…

And lastly, a recovery day cocktail of tamarind juice and rum by the fire…

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Santa Deserves More

December 22, 2011

Just a few days away from my favorite 48 hours of the year…

Christmas Eve and Christmas are admittedly on the new side in my life (Thank you, Gordons!). But that being said, all of you Scrooges out there need a cocktail. I’ve been hearing way too much of you these days and it’s enough already. And speaking of cocktails…I’ve always thought it’s kind of messed up that Santa, for all his troubles, gets left milk and cookies. When’s the last time you came home from a long day of work craving an oatmeal raisin and some 2%. So this year, give Santa what he deserves…

I found this bourbon shortbread (two of my favorite things combined) recipe on the “Eat Like a Man” Esquire blog. Seems only fitting. But because the bourbon here only really imparts some flavor to these sweets, leave the man a little hot tea, spiked with a little whiskey to wash them down. After all, he’s got 9 designated drivers to take care of him the rest of the way!

Check back on Saturday for my perfect Christmas cocktail I’m working on over at the Juice Bar and don’t forget to bake these cookies!

 

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The Scurvy Killer

December 20, 2011

The life of a pirate was filled with adventure: buried treasure, lost islands, and ships stocked with rum. But there was plenty of danger on board and I’m not talking mutiny. If only the pirates had known about the Juice Bar…three sheets to the wind without any fear of the dreaded scurvy!

The Scurvy Killer:

3 oz carrot, ginger, and apple juice

1.5 oz clear rum

1.5 oz seltzer

squeeze of lemon

In a cocktail glass filled with ice mix add the juice, the rum, and the seltzer and stir to combine. Squeeze the lemon and enjoy!

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Let’s be clear

December 19, 2011

Picture this:  You are out shopping this week with your two whiskey lover gift guides in tow (here and here). You find yourself perusing the liquor store looking for something new, or out of the ordinary. You stumble upon the whiskey shelves and your eyes are affixed on the variety of brands, bottles, and browns. You stop and admire the Hudson Baby Bourbon for it’s beautiful bottle and then confusion sets in. What the hell is this…

Okay, in defense of Hudson, they aren’t the only one capitalizing on this frustrating liquor trend. See, the beauty of whiskey, both in flavor and in appearance comes in large part from the barrel aging process which we’ve been over before (here and here). But “white whiskey” or “moonshine” or “white lightning” however you prefer it, forgoes that often lengthy aging process leaving you with a clear, somewhat flavorless, yet seemingly highly marketable booze. And I get it. With all the energy and interest around the Prohibition (see: The Nobler Experiment), picking up a bottle of moonshine must feel kind of cool.

But don’t be mistaken. What you are popping into isn’t that different from vodka. Great for mixing, not so great on it’s own. So should you avoid these “white whiskeys” altogether? Well, that’s up to you. But maybe don’t go out of your way to drop up to $40 on a bottle. All clear?

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Another Whiskey Lover’s Gift Guide!

December 14, 2011

With less than 12 days to Christmas, it’s time for another Nobler Gift Guide:

It’s common for a whiskey lover to become committed and loyal to a particular brand; maybe from a Father’s influence or maybe from the epic stories of John Jameson. But while loyalty is most often a celebrated characteristic, in this case it may be detrimental. I was at a bar last night, stocked to the brim with bourbons and ryes. With at least 20 choices I had never had the pleasure to enjoy, I was overwhelmed and ultimately defaulted to my favorite, the Bulleit Rye. The good news is, the Bulleit is still fantastic. But on the other hand, who knows what I missed out on. Like this Hudson Baby Bourbon which I have been hearing quite a buzz about. Like in the food world, locality is also becoming a big hit for the liquor biz. Sure I like the notion of Hudson’s products being made from local produce (corn and grain harvested in NY state), but for liquor I think the local aspect is a bit more personal. They have a few different products including a rye and a single malt whiskey to try but I imagine you can’t go wrong with New York’s first bourbon.

So now you’ll be off trying all sorts of new whiskeys. And yes, while none of us like to admit it, you may even need to take a break at some point. Just a second to be clear: I’m not suggesting a break from the indulging.  Rather, sometimes even the biggest whiskey lover is looking for something else to consume. Which is why I suggest you pick up a bottle of Mezcal for another great gift idea. While tequila has taken off in a big way the last ten years or so, Mezcal has remained out of the spot light being produced in small villages throughout Mexico. It may be distilled from agave, but unlike tequila which is only made from blue agave, Mezcal is extremely nuanced from variety to variety. In addition, rather than roasting the agave cores in the oven like most tequila brands do, Mezcal producers use earthen rounds over a pit of hot rocks. Sounds pretty bad ass. I’ll admit I haven’t dabbled too much to suggest the perfect brand here, but I think that might be part of the fun; brand to brand, village to village.

But now back to the whiskey…much like in the last gift guide, where I suggested that the perfect glassware is a personal piece of the whiskey experience, a decanter can take your gift receiver to the next level. I caution: there is a delicate balance here. By no means am I suggesting you pick up the globe table and decanter from sky mall magazine. But a simple, sharp, and strong decanter can send a real deal message. I’ve been torn about this notion for sometime because more and more, the iconic bottles of my favorite brands seem strong enough on their own. But there is something special about pouring yourself a glass out of your very own decanter. Maybe you’ll even get a bit adventurous and work on your own “blended” whiskey. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Johnnie Walker. As for specific options, again, I’d say its personal. This one is quite simple and understated which I prefer but unless you’re feeling thankful for my gift guide, I’m probably not going to be the receiver. Only you know your whiskey lover…

Lastly, I’ve got the perfect stocking stuffer for you. Angostura bitters help make the perfect Old Fashioned and even double as a good stomach settler. Trust me, a few dashes with seltzer beats a ginger ale any day of the week! But enough about stomach issues, and more about the bitters. Besides an Old Fashioned, the angostura brand is a great way to get creative in cocktail making. If your whiskey lover is feeling a bit more adventurous go for a more unique version like a celery or lemon bitters.

So that’s all I’ve got for now but who knows what the next few days will bring. What about you all? Any great gift ideas to suggest?

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