Archive for January, 2013

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Drink Wine on Super Bowl Sunday

January 31, 2013

I may often paint my fellow Noblers as booze-fiending, loyal followers of the experiment but…Well that’s true. However, some of them can write…Here’s some Super Bowl wine advice from Adam!

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With the Super Bowl approaching this weekend, many people are busy planning their menus while their guests are trying to figure out what booze to bring.  Beer has always been the go-to beverage to bring to the party, but after a few beers with all the heavy game-day food, I usually wind up feeling tired and full, trying to slip away to take a nap, instead of watching the second half.

Wine, on the other hand, can be a perfect lubricant for the festivities, and there are a few varietals out there that pair perfectly with what your friends are probably making for the big game.  
 
If you know your friends will be making food that is heavy – think burgers, chili, sour cream based dips – you’ll want a wine with the acidity to cut through all of that.  
Two wines I really love for this task due to their quality and affordability are Dolcetto and Barbera, both from the famous Piedmont region of Italy.  While Piedmont is most famous for its Barolo and Barbaresco, the King and Queen of wines, the lesser known varietals Dolcetto and Barbera are the wines the Italians drink every day, and they are just acidic enough to cut through the fat and bold flavors of the Super Bowl’s heaviest dishes.  Dolcetto, in fact, almost never touches oak, instead, after being crushed, it is aged in steel for 6 months to a year, and then bottled, preserving the wine’s bright colors and acid perfectly.
 
Lets say, however, that you’re headed to a party where the hosts are embracing the flavors of New Orleans, this year’s host city.  That means many of the dishes are going to be spicy, and you’ll want a wine that goes well with the spice.  One of the best wines for that task is Reisling (try it with spicy Indian and Thai food too).  While Germany is the most famous region that produces Reisling, there are a lot of great Reislings being made in the Fingerlakes region of upstate New York as well as many affordable bottles being produced in Austria.  All should go very well with the spice.
 
Have a great day, and don’t get too wrapped up in the game.  It’s all about the commercials anyway
-Adam
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New Cocktail Recipe: # 89

January 29, 2013

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I was dreaming of summer yesterday. Despite the wintry mix and continued cold, I was drifting off to the months of cook-outs and outdoor drinking. When it comes to cooking, there may not be a good substitute for summer produce in January, but this seared skirt steak with baked black beans and quick pickled cucumbers certainly hit the seasonal nail on the head. But it’s this lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar simple syrup that was really screaming summer, and the #89 is now officially my  favorite cocktail of Summer 2013.

Bold statement, huh? Yeah I know it’s not even February but try this sucker and then let me know what you think. It’s so damn good! As for the name? Well, nothing summarizes my love for summer cookouts more than our weekends in Sea Cliff and there’s no shortage of good drinking at 89…

# 89:

3 oz bourbon (I used Jefferson’s)

2 oz lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar syrup (recipe below)

1 oz fresh lemon juice

sliced lemons and ginger for garnish

In a quality whiskey glass, mix all of the ingredients together and top with ice. Garnish with the sliced ginger and a lemon wedge and then drink a million of these.

Lemongrass, Ginger, and Brown Sugar Syrup:

2 cups water

1 cup brown sugar

3 lemongrass stalks

1 medium “knob” of ginger

With the back of your knife, “smack” the lemongrass stalks to help release flavor and oil. Slice them into large chunks. Slice the ginger knob into thin slices. Bring all four ingredients to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes on med/low heat. Remove from heat and let sit for an hour. Strain and keep refrigerated until use. This syrup could be used for so much. Over Ice Cream or in Seltzer if you aren’t drinking. Otherwise, it will work with so many types of liquor. Experiment and enjoy!

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It’s A Music Monday at the Nobler

January 28, 2013

Limited Pre-sale Tickets for the Canon Logic HERE!

My favorite part about running the Nobler Experiment is how each and every member, each and every enthusiast brings something unique to the table. In fact, we’re not really a drinking “club” as it may seem. But rather the interests and passions we share are all simply brought together and made better by the greatness of good booze. It’s why, I’m so thrilled that my buddies and fellow Noblers, Canon Logic, are getting set to release their new album WYLD which after a sneak preview, I can tell you is frickin’ awesome. And by the way, goes great with a tall glass of bourbon.

Right now they are gearing up for their upcoming show at the Mercury Lounge and are offering discounted tickets at their site here. Check out Mountain and buy a ticket now!

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But Canon Logic isn’t the only band being cultivated by the Nobler Experiment (I can take credit for this right?). This Saturday night I got to see Dan (who you know from a few guest blogs here and here) and Luke (who you know from his awesome beer blog here) as the Wild Stallions kicked some ass at Hank’s Saloon. I paired these guys with a few whiskey, club sodas and proceeded to question why I’m slowly becoming the only one in the Nobler without and musical abilities….

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The Thai Basil Old Fashioned

January 25, 2013

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From a cook’s perspective there are a few ingredients that you discover that change the game of culinary creation. No matter what your skill level, these ingredients tend to offer some reliable “pop” that jazzes up your frozen pizza or makes your 5 course tasting menu stand out among the rest. For me, thai basil is one of these ingredients.

We all know and love the sweet and fragrant basil so often paired with fresh mozz and summer tomatoes but thai basil for those who haven’t used it, has an intensity and complexity that I absolutely love. Less sweet and with almost a bit of anise I use the stuff whenever I can find it. And now I’m using it in cocktails.

Many of the cocktail recipes I’ve posted on the Nobler recently have highlighted the use of a variety of liquors: cacacha, rum, and gin for example. But I always find my way back to my bourbon and this thai basil old fashioned doesn’t disappoint. Because of the fragrance of the thai basil, I decided not to go with a simple syrup here and use the muddled stems and leaves to create this delicious concoction. It’ll warm you up in this winter cold.

Thai Basil Old Fashioned

4-6 leaves of thai basil with stems

1 lemon wedge

2 sugar cube

3 oz bourbon

2 drops of orange bitters

Muddle the juice from the lemon wedge with the thai basil and sugar cubes until the sugar is well dissolved. Add the bourbon and the drops of bitters. Drop in an ice cube or two (or an ice sphere if you have it) and sip and enjoy.

 

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Anheuser Busch versus Budejovicky Budvar

January 23, 2013

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No time for a long post today but if you haven’t been paying attention to this ongoing story, it really something worth a little attention. Apparently for 106 years, but much more intensely recently, the U.S. corporate giant Anheuser Busch’s Budweiser (now a part of AB InBev) has been fighting with a much smaller local brewery in the Czech Republic named Budejovicky Budvar for the exclusive use of the term “Bud” and “Budweiser” for distribution and marketing of their beers in specific global geographies. One of the more interesting angles here is that the last official agreement was made in 1939 granting Anheuser Busch exclusive rights to naming in all American Territories north of Panama. It’s no wonder they are back at it fighting in courts when you put that agreement into the context of modern day distribution. But regardless of who you think is right or wrong, it’s a fascinating story of brewing history and the complexity that is created by globalization.

What do you all think about the Budweiser Battle?

A few articles:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/budweiser-vs-budvar-latest-eu-round-goes-to-ab-inbev/2013/01/22/dfc8c30c-64a8-11e2-889b-f23c246aa446_story.html

http://www.brandchannel.com/features_effect.asp?pf_id=191

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/budweiser-vs-budvar_n_2322123.html

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The Spanish Are Loving Their Gin and Tonics

January 22, 2013

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I’ve been staying up to date with the gin boom throughout the U.S. as this has been an exciting time in craft gin distillation. And logistically it makes a ton of sense. With no requirements for a lengthy aging process but still a ton of room for creativity and craftsmanship, gin is a really wonderful spirit to be producing. But somehow, even with staying well connected to the goings-on stateside, I somehow missed something massive in the gin world. It turns out, if you want to see some passion for gin, and particularly gin and tonics, it’s time to look towards Spain.

Saturday night we were cruising through the LES after another amazing meal at Cocoron (you guys have to check this Soba spot out if you haven’t already), and we stumbled upon Cata. Cata is a highly rated and energetic tapas spot which having now seen the menu in action, is on the top of my lists to check out for food. But it was the gin and tonic menu that Nobler Mark had enjoyed previously that convinced us to stop in for a seat at the bar. This was a good call!

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As you can see the gin and tonic menu is a massive list of flavors meant to act as supporting characters to the main show: quality gin and tonic. We tried a number of the options and most were really delicious. The grapefruit, while simple and straightforward made us all agree that no standard gin and tonic should be served again, without this ruby red citrus. More subtle but amazingly delicious was the kumquat and clove which gained in momentum as the flavors had a chance to mingle. Some others were less successful like the thai chili which I had really high hopes for going in. The simplicity of throwing ingredients into a gin and tonic works for stronger flavors but these dried chilis never had the opportunity to impart their spice and earthiness.

But without a doubt, my favorite on the list of options we tried was the kaffir lime. I have never actually seen a kaffir lime in person, but the bartender was kind enough to show us one of these guys which is about a 45 on the 1-10 scale of awesome. Notes of almost lemongrass combined with intense and slightly sweet lime characteristics makes the kaffir variety complex and sort of shocking. I couldn’t stop gushing over the fragrance simply coming off the drink itself. This one is a must order.

The list at Cata however was only the tipping point in my realization of what the gin and tonic means to Spain. After a bit of research, it really is amazing how the country has embraced this cocktail as one of their own, and are constantly pushing the envelope on what the perfect concoction can be. Ironically, one of my fellow blogging buddies over at Boy Drinks World, was discussing the same topic this weekend. Looks like we’re all starting to take notice! I’m just glad I now know to order a G+T the next time I’m in Spain.

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The Future is Now for American Single Malts

January 18, 2013
Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Photo by Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Close to a year ago, I posted about the Future of American Whiskey. The notion was simple: as more and more small scale distilleries entered the industry with increased demand and decreased legislation, we were clearly going to see more than just bourbon and rye at the forefront of our whiskey resurgence. As seen in this week’s NY Times article, it looks like the future is now…

Single malt American whiskeys are on the rise and with Balcones Texas Single Malt winning the “Best in Glass” distinction over a number of Scottish perennials, it’s time to start paying attention. The key distinction here, is that while most of the American history of whiskey focuses on corn or rye based mashes, single malt whiskeys use a malted grain, normally barley. As the Times article also points out, this focus on malted barley is a perfect match for many craft distillers who got their feet wet in the beer brewing game. But it isn’t simply a replication of European methodology that is responsible for the excitement.

Many of the US single malt distillers are expanding outside of the fairly narrow rule-set that defines these types of whiskeys elsewhere in the world. Innovation around the aging process, ingredient additions, and weather effects are pushing the limits of what we’ve seen in the past. I’ve had a few of the single malts listed in the article and I’ll be honest, I haven’t loved them all. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying them. Part of the beauty of single malt production is to stay connected to the process. As these guys learn and adapt, the product is only going to get better and better.

On another exciting note, the Night Cap NYC is about to announce our next event and it’s going to be even better the last one. More details will come once we have everything in order, but stay tuned for tickets and much much more. Happy Weekend and go grab some American Single Malt!

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