Archive for March, 2012

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“The Belly of an Alligator” and My Geeky Video Debut

March 29, 2012

One of the driving forces behind my love for whiskey is the geeky science behind it all. Almost 6 years ago now, my boss (at the time) and I, had the opportunity to set up a distillation demonstration for Science Friday. In preparation we fermented fresh squeezed cherry juice into essentially a cherry wine which we would then distill into a cherry flavored liquor. As you can see, the process, particularly at that scale is pretty damn simple. But we weren’t producing 72,000 bottles in one day…although maybe it’s time to give Kent a call and see if he’s interested in re-starting the still!

The great thing about the resurgence of American Whiskey is the amount of really amazing press that comes with it. Take this Maker’s Mark Distillery Tour from Business Insider for example. Rather than re-hashing the details here, go take a look at this amazing photo gallery. The quantity and execution are unbelievable!

My favorite shot is that of the wood barrels (seen above). As I’ve mentioned before, the charring of the barrels is one of the major distinctions in the bourbon aging process. That “caramelization” of the wood produces that ridiculously delicious exchange of flavor and sweetness Bourbon drinkers thrive on.

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World Whisky Day at Idle Hands

March 28, 2012

Last night we gathered in celebration of World Whisky Day at what may most certainly be, my new favorite bar. Idle Hands located between 3rd and 2nd on Ave B, touts one of the largest bourbon lists I’ve ever seen. Mixed with an impressive collection of International and unique American bottles, it’s clearly a new Nobler destination…

At the core of the Nobler Experiment, the fascination with booze, particularly whiskey can probably be perceived by some as an overindulgence. But it’s nights like the last where a group of friends gather to chat, laugh, and pontificate about the world we live in that is a clear reminder on why we drink in the first place. Added to the nerdy enthusiasm that goes with distinguishing the mash ingredients and processes that go into a specific bottle of whiskey, it’s easy to see why at least a few glasses are enjoyed over the course of a gathering. Hope you all enjoyed a glass or two!

And Happy Day After World Whisky Day! Okay, now it’s an overindulgence…

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Old Tom Fashioned

March 27, 2012

Happy World Whisky Day everyone! I’m looking forward to celebrating later tonight which at the moment seems way too far away…

But in the classification of “confusing and delicious” I stumbled upon something I couldn’t leave on the shelves this past weekend. As I was perusing the aisles of Warehouse Liquor (an activity I find myself doing rather frequently these days), I was taken at the blip of brown in the midst of clear gin. As a quick side note, I’m still completely blown away by the number of vodka and gin options there are at this point. I wouldn’t even know where to start. So it was certainly nice that this bottle of Old Tom Gin made the decision easy for me.

As a reference back to an 1800s style liquor, this Ransom Old Tom Gin is actually barrel aged for a short time period. Not unlike the Linie Aquavit, this relatively short aging process helps develop a significant smoothness and baseline of flavor for the otherwise alcohol forward liquor. After doing a bit more digging online, the Ransom continued to tug at my heart strings.

The use of corn based liquors for the botanical flavorings renders Ransom a slightly bourbon-like quality that works perfectly in cocktails. In addition, the use of a malted barley mash is more whisky than gin. So naturally, I went straight to my go-to Old Fashioned and found a really unique flavor profile that I’m excited to keep working with. If only everything could be slightly barrel aged and taste more like bourbon. I’d be putting all sorts of stuff in barrels!

Any Ransom lovers out there?

Old Tom Fashioned

1 sugar cube

2-4 dashes of angostura bitters

1 tsp water

3 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin

In a rocks glass or whisky glass, muddle the sugar, bitters and water until well mixed. Add the Ransom and one ice cube. Drink like its 1799.

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We’re not all drinking…

March 26, 2012

When the Noble Experiment was officially deemed a failure, and the Prohibition ban on drinking was lifted in 1933, America was free to booze again. However, maybe not the extent that I had originally believed. As seen above in the pretty picture taken from this io9 article, there is still a good portion of the country limiting or completely prohibiting the sale of alcohol.

Thinking back, I guess this isn’t that foreign to me after all. Growing up taking summer trips to Ocean City, NJ it never registered to me completely, but even back then I remember hearing the words “dry town”. The irony of course, is that just before the bridge leading you in to this moral haven lies one of the biggest liquor stores I’ve ever seen. And yes, we weren’t the only ones that stopped there.

But as the io9 article points out, and as the Ocean City example further supports, it may be simple economics that finally breaks the ban’s supporters. As the economy has taken a toll on just about everyone (bet you didn’t think you’d get some economy talk on the Nobler!), towns that have for seemingly ever kept alcohol out, are being forced to at least consider changing their ‘tude. It is simple. The sale of alcohol, even if it is just at restaurants, directly impacts the economic success of towns and cities alike. If you can get a cold beer with your burger just a mile or so away, what’s gonna stop you? A devout loyalty to your community? Maybe for some, but obviously not for the majority.

Considering how much of the country is still on at least some degree of liquor lock down, who knows if we’ll ever be completely united in our post Prohibition ways. But I’ll gladly volunteer myself as moderator for the next town hall discussion on the matter. I’ll even bring the whiskey! You hear that community leaders…you know where to find me!

 

 

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World Whisky Day!

March 22, 2012

Next Tuesday, March 27th, gives us all the opportunity to celebrate our love for whiskey with those that share our passion across the world. Because lord knows, I need another excuse to drink!

But seriously, this is a pretty cool initiative being started by Blair Bowman, a young whiskey enthusiast, and I’m glad the Nobler Experiment can be a part of it. Details are still in the works, but next Tuesday evening, we’ll be gathering to enjoy a glass (or a few) of our favorites and to toast whatever seems appropriate.

For more information on World Whisky Day, check out the official website here, and for those instagram lovers (like myself), take a look at the photo competition and get snapping…

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The Return of Outdoor Drinking

March 20, 2012

During Prohibition, there was plenty of drinking going on. Sure, it was technically illegal, but as we all know, that didn’t stop the majority. It simply required a change in tactic. Most dramatically, city dwellers found themselves sneaking away to unmarked basement bars and secret meet-ups to imbibe and let loose. It’s a sentiment that has us now, inundated with modern twists on the speakeasy as we all love a little nostalgia. But as fun and exciting as the underground drinking was back then, and as hard as we try to make it cool for modern-day, an afternoon like yesterday’s has me thinking about what those during Prohibition missed out on. For almost 15 years, the winter turned to spring, and the spring into summer, while those that love to drink, were forced to remain indoors.

Now, obviously, this is a bit of an over-exaggeration, as I am sure there were those that found a way, but seriously…think about that for a second…

Is there anything better than outdoor drinking? Whether it’s the “outdoor seating” our favorite NYC spots cram on the sidewalk or the rooftop gatherings full of cold beer and tequila, I live for this time of year. There is a wonderful harmony that develops between raw energy and serious relaxation that can not be rivaled. So as the sun began to set and the temperature cooled just slightly, as if to remind me of how lucky I had been, I couldn’t help but sit back and enjoy this glass of red wine in Madison Square Park like maybe I never have before. Full disclosure: I’m pretty sure the intoxicating perfume of griddled beef had something to do with it as well, but regardless, outdoor drinking season is now officially open for business.

Because I assume you had been waiting for my declaration…

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Bitters, Pilsner, and a Nobler Giveaway

March 16, 2012

Larry working on our Cow Thieves Pilsner

I’ve finally managed to organize myself and get together all the ingredients for my homemade bitters project. 3 weeks from now, I’ll hopefully be reporting back on a wildly successful venture. But to be clear, that’s not really why I’ve been finding myself on a major DIY kick. Having just finished up the brewing of a second large batch of Cow Thieves Ale (with some exciting changes), and having worked on my own blended scotch for Steve, it’s exciting to know that my enthusiasm for the “homemade” stems completely from plain and earnest curiosity.

Is it more economical or more convenient to purchase a bunch of ingredients to make a batch of bitters for cocktail making? I mean probably not. Or is it cocktail crucial for the bitters to be homemade? Of course not. But I’m not looking to be the world’s best bitters maker or convince you that you haven’t lived until you’ve made everything on your own. There’s just simply no better way to learn, than to do it yourself (or by reading about it here). So check back as I write about the process, the results, and even the very first Nobler Experiment giveaway!

On an even more exciting note…you must be wondering what’s more exciting than a giveaway!…The warm weather afternoons of outdoor drinking have arrived and I can’t friggin wait. Enjoy the weekend and hopefully a Bertha Palmer!

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The Bertha Palmer

March 14, 2012

One of my favorite spots to enjoy a bourbon, is the Ninth Ward in the East Village. The New Orleans inspired bar has a ridiculous outdoor patio which I can only imagine will be packed day after day now that spring has sprung. One of their signature cocktails is the Laura Palmer, which is simple and delicious. Sweet tea vodka and lemon juice: you can literally drink a million of these (I think we’ve only ever made it to 4) but please be sure you stand up slowly.

Well I’d like to now introduce you to Bertha. Bertha, born in Louisville, Kentucky, knows that while vodka may get the job done, bourbon is where it’s at. Seriously, I plan on drinking these all spring/summer. Kicking it all off last night, I paired it with some spicy and refreshing fish tacos. So damn good!

The Bertha Palmer

2/3 cup unsweetened tea

1 tbsp honey

Juice of half a lemon

2 oz bourbon

In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and honey to create your lemon syrup. In a tall glass with ice, add the bourbon, tea, and lemon syrup and stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon and proceed to feel great.

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Taking Back the Angel’s Share

March 12, 2012

Some of the last few posts have focused on the emergence of small batch American whiskey distilleries and the potential industry landscape that could develop over the next few decades. One of the major hurdles (in any industry) for small players, is the powerful marketing behind the big guns. Case in point: Jim Beam’s soon to be new selection in their vast whiskey portfolio, the Devil’s Cut.

The angle: While bourbon ages, a portion of the alcohol is lost as the oak barrels act as vessel for flavor exchange. This portion, often dubbed, “The Angel’s Share”, is a key piece to the aging process. This aging process is what gives bourbon (and all whiskey) that gorgeous color and smoothness (when done well) that we all love so much. But it is the Devil’s Cut that manages to steal back what is rightfully ours. Screw you, angels! Oh, crap. I’m sorry about that. The commercial showing how many underground bars I’ll magically discover, filled with women, thrilled to see me, must be getting to my head…

But in all honesty, despite the cheesy marketing angle (which I can only assume was designed to target my little brother), I am interested in giving this a full shot. If for nothing else it will be a great way to explore the detailed effects of barrel aging. I’m looking forward to a future Nobler Gathering in which the Devil’s Cut can follow a bottle of moonshine in an event I will have to call “whiskeys I feel guilty about purchasing”. It sounds like it won’t be fully released until this summer but at a suggested retail price of only $23.99, you can also understand how the big distillery conglomerates have a huge leg up. Any advanced reviewers out there with any thoughts on the matter?

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Juice Bar Blends as “The Remedy”

March 9, 2012

Last night, we had the pleasure to bring the Juice Bar Blends to the AFA for Jason Mraz’s Instagram / CanvasPop fan contest gallery show. The winning imagery was showcased via CanvasPop’s amazing transformation and Jason was on site to chat, mingle, and overwhelm a few of his biggest fans. Our mission? Provide some ridiculously delicious social lubricant…

Our two fresh juices were huge hits. We pride ourselves in developing fantastic flavors from fruits and vegetables that will pair fantastically with alcohol. The carrot, ginger, and cardamom is one of my new favorites. The color is wild! And why not work on your eye sight while you get a little tipsy. Acting as it’s compliment (after all we were in an art gallery), the vibrant green “elixir” (as one of our biggest fans has dubbed it), our cucumber cilantro and lime cocktail, continues to be a huge success. I’m always a bit shocked as so many people seem to be turned off from cilantro, but I’m going to have to make some back up of this guy next time. It just flies off the bar!

But I think what I am most proud of, is the connection we are making with our drinkers. In a city where “interesting” or “fancy” too often equates to the number of male models on staff, or the amount of ingredients in your cocktails, or even worse the number of “miniature” food items in your repertoire, we are clearly not emerging from that mold. The dialogue and energy that has surrounded our events is as much a part of our brand, as the drinks we serve. For fuck’s sake, you can’t take yourself that seriously serving food and drink. And I think the reaction has spoken for itself. Thanks to all involved with last night’s event and for the opportunity to connect over some delicious Juice Bar Blends!

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