What To Do For the Winter Olympics

So I haven’t posted in about a month. What can I say? Travel’s a bitch. But not a bad bitch. It’s actually one of the betters ones. Except when you’re in coach. Then flying is miserable. Anyway, I spent two weeks in Chicago until New Year’s and then spent another two weeks in the 2010 Winter Olympic host cities, Vancouver and Whistler, BC. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but I’ll try and give you a decent recap.

Chicago:

Hopleaf: As I’ve said before, the Hopleaf is my favourite beer bar in the city. And they serve more brews than any other Chicago bar.  Check out my lengthier review for more. While there, I enjoyed the Delerium Tremens Ale, reputed to be the finest beer in the world. It’s good. Real good. But as Belgian sours go, it’s not too special.

Chief O’Neil’s: The Chief’s is our favourite Irish pub in the city. The have acceptable craic, and pour a good, but not perfect, pint of plain. Standard Irish pub fare and a good location for when we are out shopping round out what makes this bar good. They have a wonderful whisk(e)y selection with both old and new world distillates. Of course, they focus on the Irish whiskey but good selections Scotch, Bourbon, and rye can all be found behind the stick. Their pint of stout is quite good, and fairly opaque, but doesn’t compare to Nash’s in the Pale.

While there, I learned that Guinness is holding a competition for “best pint.” Their scoring rubric seems to have more to do with prominently displaying the Guinness logo than anything else. Of course, given Guinness’s long history of marketing genius, I don’t know why we should expect anything else.

Park 21: This new restaurant from the same people behind Carnivale, a restaurant sensation is practically the same. While the service is impeccable, the atmosphere pleasant and vibrant,  and the wine list good, the food is mediocre at best, and the bar program leaves much to be desired. I suggest if you must eat there, you stick with vine, beer, or neat spirits.

O’Hare Airport: It is a sad truth that while traveling, we must spend a good deal of unpleasant time in airports. For the drinking public, however, it is getting better. While Patron has become de regour at most bars, I saw many airport bars making a concerted effort to stock at least one premium offering in each category, including Hendrick’s gin, a variety of sippable rums, good Bourbon and rye and belike.

Vancouver:

The Chef and the Carpenter: We only spent one night in the city, and we went to this wonderful French restaurant after the old school. The Caesar salad is still made fresh, tableside, and with a real egg yolk. Quite possibly the best Caesar I’ve ever had. The rest of the food was equally good. Their cocktail program was outstanding. The maitre d’hotel was a competent barkeep, and while they did not have a bar menu, he could mix up all the classics with a practiced shake or stir from a surprisingly well stocked bar. If you find yourself in Vancouver, I recommend you visit this outstanding Robson street establishment.

Chow: While I was there a year ago, I never mentioned this fine and progressive restaurant serving the fine Pacific Rim fusion cuisine. Another restaurant with an impressive drinks program including fine beer, wine, and, of course, classic cocktails. You certainly can’t go wrong here.

The Cat’s Paw: Another gem from last year, this Granville Island bar has innovative cuisine and reasonable prices, and is, by and large, filled with locals. Another great place to take a load off.

Whistler

The Dubh Linn Gate: This has been our longtime apres hangout. The best beer bar in Whistler, though that doesn’t say much, with a good selection of Scotch whiskies as well, and excelent food, this is as good a spot for dinner as for taking a load off after a hard day on slopes.

Black’s Pub: A reasonably indifferent bar with little to speak for it. While it has good bar staff, an indifferent drinks program and reasonably standard beer menu, as well as non-distinct food doom this to my “eh” list (and not in the way the Canadians say it either).

Milestone’s: A step up from Black’s. A fairly nondescript cocktail menu at least is supplemented by interesting local microbrews and better food. They offer the Wild Horse Winter Ale a refreshing, medium bodied beer with just a hint of winter spice. It is much less spiced than most American winter offerings which is quite a bit more refreshing.

The Cinnamon Bear Bar: Hotel bars tend not to be good, and whether I hit them on an off day, or something else, this is no exception. There are literally no redeeming features to this bar. Avoid it.

Merlin’s, The Girabaldi Lift Company, and Dusty’s: These three mountain-owned bars are surprisingly good. While the beer selection isn’t what it has been in years past, they still stock the Alexander Keith’s Pale Ale, a reasonably standard pale ale after the British style, and their Amber Ale, a heartier, more flavourful brew on tap. This, combined with good food, make this a reasonable place to recover. Dusty’s is supposed to have wonderful barbeque, but I admit to never having tried it. Similarly, both Merlin’s and the GLC have distincive personalities and menus. All have live music and are steps from the slopes.

Ceeta’s Bistro: This bar has a reasonable beer selection, and good, relatively inexpensive sandwitches. We were there for the Canada-Russia game of the World Youth Hockey Championship, which was epic. We also had the Okanagan Spring Pale Ale, a relatively non-descript pale, and the Okanagan 1516, an even less flavourful brew. Unfortunately, Ceeta’s is likely closing soon, so Whistler will loose this quarter century old establishment.

Rim Rock Cafe: This is not somewhere you go for the drinks, not because they do not have a wonderful bar, outstanding wines, and good beers, but merely because the food is so good. One of Canada’s top ten restaurants, if you are in Whistler, and can remotely afford it, you need to try it. One of the best meals of my life.

Hope this list has helped you if you are traveling out there. There are a lot of positives on this list, but I have been to Vancouver and Whistler enough to avoid many of the bad apples, though not all, as the list suggests. Again, I apologize for the lack of pics.

May wind fill your sails,
The Scribe

A New Year’s Toast

Hey all.

I would just like to wish everyone a joyous, profitable, and otherwise happy new year. I hope it is better than this and any other. To toast this sentiment, might I suggest a…

Seelbach Cocktail

  • .75 oz. – Bourbon Whiskey (Maker’s Mark)
  • .5 oz. – Curacao (Gran Gala)
  • 7-8 dashes – Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)
  • 7-8 dashes – Aromatic Bitters (Peychoud’s)
  • Top (4-5 oz.) – Sparkling Wine (Cava)

Stir whiskey, liqueur, and bitters with ice to cool, then top with chilled bubbly. I recomend Cava or Prosecco over the more traditional Champagne or California sparkling as the fruitier elements of Cava or Prosecco will tie it better to the orange cordial and Peychoud’s.

I would generalize that advice to all cocktails, as I find, unless you are simply mixing Champagne with crisp spirits, the fruitiness of some other European sparkling offerings works better.

Happy new year, and an easy morning after,
The Scribe

MxMo Clarification

mxmologo Hey all. Just a quick note. Mixology Monday for January will take place on January 19th, not the 29th as the announce post originally claimed. I’m guessing that was a typo, as the 29th is not actually Monday. Given that I wrote the post something like two months ago when I originally learned I was hosting, I have no idea what was going through my head. Anyway, see you all on the 19th.

Gentlemen, start your mixing,
The Scribe

Mixology Monday: Hot and Heavy

mxmologo‘Tis that time of year again, and that time of month as well, the time when all of us cocktailians get together and have ourselves a grand old time writing about cocktails. This is an especially good time for me because my Real Life™ commitments finally allow me to write. I am also happy to announce the next Mixology Monday, below.

Anywho, it’s getting awfully cold. I’ve stopped wearing sandals regularly, which I only do if it’s below freezing out there. One thing that really wamrs me up after a cold day is a nice hot beverage. The first one I have created is inspired by Charlotte Voisey from Hendrick’s Gin. She talked about bringing teatime to cocktail hour, and that is exactly what I did with:

The Redcoat’s Aunt

  • 4 oz. – Vannila Roohibos Tea (From my local looseleaf tea shop, brewed strong)
  • 1 oz. – Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
  • .5 oz. – Curacao (Gran Gala)
  • .5 oz. – Aromatic Bitters (Peychoud’s)
  • 1 drop – Orange flower water

Stir together everything except the tea and flower water. Pour the tea hot over the top. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and an orange twist. Spritz orange flower water over top.

This is really quite nice. The warmth of the tea, both physical and the warmth of the vanilla flavour, really cuts through the bitterness of the Peychoud’s allowing the flavour of it to come through. The Peycoud’s ties quite nicely with the Gran Gala. The rye gives it just a litte backbone. All in all a very pleasant blend. I really like warm drinks and another one which is great in front of a fire after, for instance, a long day of hiking in a frigid downpour is:

Mulled Wine

  • Claret (Nothing too fancy)
  • Oranges
  • Cloves
  • Lemons
  • Simple syrup
  • Water

Slice up fruits (1 orange and half a lemon or so per bottle of wine) and add simple syrup (about 2-3 oz. per bottle of wine) and a handful of cloves to a pot. Add water to cover, but as little as you can. Bring to a boil and reduce. Then add wine. Keep heat as low as possible, stirring until wine is warmed through.

Mulled wine is one of those great soul healers. I enjoy it as often as I can.  There are few things better than sitting in front of a fire in a wilderness lodge after a good day of ice climbing, ski mountaineering, or the like, with a nice cup of mulled wine, good company, and lots of good grub.

Pictures to follow.

Stay warm on cold nights,
The Scribe

Anouncing Mixology Monday: New Horizons

Hello everyone, and welcome to A Mixed Dram. I’m hosting this month, and I think you will enjoy our topic this month. I know that we tend to do what is familiar to us, and I am no less a victim of this than anyone else, often even more. My first several cocktails were basically sours, and then my next several were little more than old fashioneds. Well, today I issue you a challenge: Try something new!

In just about a month, January 19th, we can all meet here and discuss our explorations. What sort of explorations? I’m glad you asked. Here are just a few thoughts:

  • Try a new base spirit. Never mixed with Tequila? Give it a try. If you’ve never made a beer cocktail or a wine cocktail, why not give it a shot? What about something really exotic? How about aquardiente from the Caribbean or arrack from the Middle East? (Okay, so that’s basically rum and anisette, but you get the drift.)
  • Use a technique you’ve never used before. Ever been itching to give molecular mixology a shot? Now’s your chance. Ever been eager to infuse vodka or spice rum, or toss fruit and spices in something else? Here’s your excuse. Been reading about those really cool and wacky purees infused with spices and herbs and other flavourings, or some other cool culinary technique? I challenge you to bring it here next month.
  • Now some of you are saying “I already do all of that.” (Mssrs. Boudreau, Morgenthaller, and others, I’m looking squarely at you.) Well, guess what? If you you are creative enough to use every conceivable base spirit, and creative enough to use every commonly used technique, then you are creative enough to come up with something.

So, I will see you as the month goes on. I am giving you a full month to prepare in case you need time to prep infusions or something. There will be a follow-up post as we get closer to the day to remind people and to serve as a place to put your posts. As a side note to my more regular readers, this month, Mixology Monday will be taking the place of the January Dramproject, but it will be back in February.

Happy mixing,

The Scribe

The Session: Repeal THIS!

session-logo-smHappy repeal day, everyone.

For those non-Americans, today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the repeal of prohibition.

Now, as some of you may know, while campaigning for president, Freddie Roosevelt ran on the platform of repeal saying “I like beer, you like beer, we all like beer.”

Even so, I feel that repeal day is more of a booze holiday than a beer holiday. To me, a beer isn’t as appropriate as a martini (make mine ice cold, gin, vermouth, and bitters, garnished with a lemon twist, always stirred, never shaken, and not more than 3 oz. plus 1-1.5 oz water, none of this pint of vodka, or worse something flourescent geen, and calling that a martini) or perhaps a Manhattan. I plan to start the evening off with a nice glass of rye (Old Overholt), and then I will end up drinking beer. In this case, Sam Adams Winter Lager will be the tipple of choice.

So join me in practicing our American right, the right to drink!

Cheers! Slainte! L’khiyam! Ganbei! Salud! and so on,
The Scribe

How’s the Drinking Going?

I know, I know. It’s rough. Hopefully I’ll be back to a full posting soon. (Crosses fingers.)

This is from Darcy at the Art of Drink.

  1. Manhattan Cocktail
  2. Kopi Luwak (Weasle Coffee)
  3. French / Swiss Absinthe
  4. Rootbeer I’ve even had the real thing…
  5. Gin Martini
  6. Sauternes A ’48, no less.
  7. Whole Milk
  8. Tequila (100% Agave)
  9. XO Cognac
  10. Espresso
  11. Spring Water (directly from the spring) With bells on. And Glacier milk, which is far better.
  12. Gin & Tonic
  13. Mead
  14. Westvleteren 12 (Yellow Cap) Trappist Ale
  15. Chateau d’Yquem I enjoyed a ’52, and still in fine fettle.
  16. Budweiser
  17. Maraschino Liqueur
  18. Mojito
  19. Orgeat
  20. Grand Marnier
  21. Mai Tai (original)
  22. Ice Wine (Canadian)
  23. Red Bull (Unfortunately)
  24. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  25. Bubble Tea
  26. Tokaji
  27. Chicory
  28. Islay Scotch
  29. Pusser’s Navy Rum
  30. Fernet Branca
  31. Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
  32. Bourbon
  33. Australian Shiraz
  34. Buckley’s Cough Syrup
  35. Orange Bitters
  36. Margarita (classic recipe)
  37. Molasses & Milk
  38. Chimay Blue
  39. Wine of Pines (Tepache)
  40. Green Tea
  41. Daiginjo Sake
  42. Chai Tea
  43. Vodka (chilled, straight)
  44. Coca-Cola
  45. Zombie (Beachcomber recipe)
  46. Barley Wine
  47. Brewed Choclate (Xocolatl)
  48. Pisco Sour
  49. Lemonade
  50. Speyside Single Malt
  51. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
  52. Champagne (Vintage)
  53. Rosé (French)
  54. Bellini
  55. Caipirinha
  56. White Zinfandel (Blush)
  57. Coconut Water
  58. Cerveza
  59. Cafe au Lait
  60. Ice Tea
  61. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
  62. Vintage Port
  63. Hot Chocolate
  64. German Riesling
  65. Pina Colada
  66. El Dorado 15 Year Rum
  67. Chartreuse
  68. Greek Wine
  69. Negroni
  70. Jägermeister
  71. Chicha
  72. Guiness
  73. Rhum Agricole
  74. Palm Wine
  75. Soju
  76. Ceylon Tea (High Grown)
  77. Belgian Lambic
  78. Mongolian Airag
  79. Doogh, Lassi or Ayran
  80. Sugarcane Juice
  81. Ramos Gin Fizz
  82. Singapore Sling
  83. Mint Julep
  84. Old Fashioned
  85. Perique
  86. Jenever (Holland Gin)
  87. Chocolate Milkshake
  88. Traditional Italian Barolo
  89. Pulque
  90. Natural Sparkling Water
  91. Cuban Rum
  92. Asti Spumante
  93. Irish Whiskey
  94. Château Margaux
  95. Two Buck Chuck
  96. Screech
  97. Akvavit
  98. Rye Whisky
  99. German Weissbier
  100. Daiquiri (classic)

Okay, this was supposed to be posted like a week ago. Sorry for the delay.

Thanks for your patience,
The Scribe