Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Stocking Up

What’s up you cool babies?

I saw a question on Facebook from someone looking to start stocking their first bar. Astute readers will notice I am focusing on spirits below. I think they provide the most bang for their buck and can be used in a variety of drinks. Plus, wine is not my forte. Beer goes in the fridge. 

Vodka (if you can’t taste the difference, great! If you can, I recommend Absolut as the best affordable vodka), non-scotch whisky (bourbon, rye, Tennessee, etc. Jack will be just fine, but I would rather spend a little more on some Bulliet), dark (not spiced, sorry Cap’n! Mount Gay works) rum. Those three will allow for a variety of mixed drinks that will appeal to many people. And if you want to do shots, you can.

From there, I would add gin (Hendrick’s is particularly nice for sipping) and tequila (100% blue agave if you can; Espolon Blanco and Hornitos Reposado are both great, affordable options). These allow for martinis, margaritas, and other citrus mixes that will benefit from these flavors. Tequila and assorted sodas (Coke or Squirt, in particular) also pair nicely.

Maybe then get some more whisky, if you like it. If you decide to go with some scotch, I would recommend looking for a lower priced scotch like Glenfiddich 12, which has some peat while not being overwhelming. Blended scotches also tend to be 10-20 bucks cheaper while providing some of those more generic  scotch flavors. Monkey Shoulder has treated me well. 

You might also decide to get into rum, in which case you can pick up something in the ten year range without breaking the bank (I enjoy Zaya, which has a forward vanilla flavor). I recommend sticking with dark, as they seem to benefit more from the aging (to me, at least). I would also recommend getting some light rum (Bacardi works) at this point, which pairs well with fruit juices and Jell-O shots (don’t use vodka, use light rum - trust me). And if you’ve been playing along with the above recommendations, you can now make a Long Island Iced Tea (vodka, gin, tequila, rum, sour mix; splash of Coke).

In addition to the alcohol, it’s good to keep some mixes and other additives on hand. Olives, cocktail onions, maraschino cherries, angostura bitters (while technically alcohol, these are usually added in drops, not ounces), lemons, limes, and oranges. Maybe some toothpicks and a bar shaker. A vegetable peeler can remove a slice of zest from the aforementioned fruit, classing up a drink instantly.

I don’t have any recommendations for non-standard, generally stand-alone products like Jagermeister or Malört. If you like them, then buy them. Same with Baileys and that chili-mango liqueur I bought one evening after many libations. Ahem. That’s a story for another time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Direction

It has been a while. What's happened? I got laid off, but was given sufficient warning and an ample severance package. Did some temp work at a good company that wasn't for me. Drank sundry beers (add me on Untappd: johnnydiscard).

What else?

Oh, right. I wrote and published a book! One Cold Day: A Zombie Story

It's about zombies. I've long been a fan of zombie movies, and then later the show The Walking Dead. I've read zombie books too, which is where things get interesting. In movies and TV there's mostly just slow zombies and fast zombies (and one boy band made up of zombies, but that was a shit movie and I won't look up the name). But in books, there's a whole lot of voodoo zombies, there's scientific zombies, there's things we call zombies because there's not a better word.

My book features slow zombies, though that word never gets used. They're "things", "those weird people", and even get called vampire in a state of confusion.

But you're here because of the booze, I know. Well you're in luck because the book I'm working on right now was codenamed Beer Story and it features some great beer imagery. Not sure when it'll be available though.

So anyway, I hope you check out my book. It's available via Amazon Kindle, and if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free.

One Cold Day: A Zombie Story

Have a good one.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pretzel Necklaces

Tomorrow is the first beer tasting event of the year (here at least) and I'm excited to wear some pretzels around my neck.

"What!?" you exclaim, doing a spit-take I imagine.

Yes, pretzel necklaces are what I'm talking about. I remember seeing them at my very first beer event and thought it was kinda weird but original of my friends. Once inside, I saw quite a few other people sporting them. It's apparently somewhat common. Hell, the concession stand sold a kit for them. By the way, those kits are terribad. Usually it's a bunch of regular pretzels and a string, but just super overpriced. All assembly required. Might as well make it yourself and get to customize it.

I use shoelaces, as the aglet (that hard end-piece that allows you to lace your shoes) makes threading the pretzels go much quicker. You can pick up a pair of laces for around a buck and then you'll have two necklaces waiting to happen.

The best part of making your own necklace is you get to pick what goes on it. I made a sweet giant pretzel necklace last year. I've seen Funyun necklaces, which I'm planning to do this year. Hell, one guy strung up some bagels, but that seems a bit much to me. If you're willing to possibly stab yourself with a needle, you could thread floss through Cheez-its or peanuts in their shells. Maybe I'll try that next year.

So wear your food. Eat your clothing. Enjoy many small glasses of beer.

And about those tasters: it's hard to keep track of all the beers in the day. I like to take pictures of the labels/signs/whatever for beers I really like. It's too much work for me to pull out a pen and pad of paper after the sixth taster. It's much easier to pull out my phone, snap a picture, and move on.

And if you're going to a beer festival or the like, be sure to wear sunscreen, drink water, and eat definitely before, probably during, and maybe after. Also, cab it or have a DD.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bacon Bourbon

Do you like bacon? Of course you do. This is the internet. How about bourbon? Hopefully. And even if you don't, maybe you'll be intrigued enough to try this anyway.

What you'll need: Bacon, 750 mL bourbon, another container that will hold 750 mL (might I suggest a second, empty bourbon bottle), a glass measuring cup with spout.

Cook up the bacon. Save the fat; you'll need 2-3 ounces (1/4-3/8 of a cup). Let the fat cool a bit and then add it to the second bourbon bottle. Add as much of the first bottle as will comfortably fit into the second bottle. Make yourself a cocktail or something with the remaining bourbon before tomorrow, and save the bottle. Cap the bourbon/fat mixture and leave at room temperature for 4 hours. Place the bottle in the freezer on its side, freeze overnight. The bacon fat will harden into a slab on top of the bourbon, and the spout will remain useable. The next day, transfer the contents of frozen bottle to the empty bottle. You can strain it if you'd like, but I don't bother.

You can drink it neat, at room temperature (but you should store it in the fridge when you're not drinking it, just in case). It's also quite nice mixed with root beer.

My impetus to first making this was a vodka and grilled cheese party a couple of years ago. The idea was that everyone bring an infused vodka and there would be bread and cheese provided as well as many pans so we could eat grilled cheese sandwiches. I heartily endorse such ideas.

I made a jalapeño, lime, and mint infused vodka (wash and cut jalapeño lengthwise, put it in for a week; bruise the mint, put it in for last 24 hours; squeeze the juice of a lime into bottle and give a good shake before serving) but wanted to try bacon. My friend Nate was already going to make bacon vodka (sub vodka for the bourbon, otherwise it's the same; makes a great Bloody Mary) so I decided to try infusing bourbon instead. I'd read about it, but was still a little wary. So glad I pushed through.

Other meat fats could be used, I'm sure. I've seen a venison whisky recipe. I do have a tub of duck fat at home...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Drinking on the Job

This morning I got a pleasant surprise. I was cited in an AJ Jacobs' article: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/huddled-masses-drinking-on-job

My initial answer, from which he pulled my response, was, "First, you're assuming the post was truthful. I lie all the time on the internet. Or do I? Second, three beers does necessarily equal intoxication. It could, but depending on their size, ABV, employee's biology, etc. it might not have done very much at all. Third (and really first), do you have a policy about being under the influence of drugs and alcohol in place? If you do not, you have no footing to punish for the drinking itself. If the employee is capable of doing the job, that should be the determining factor."

(I realize I left out the word "not" in "does necessarily equal intoxication". Thankfully, AJ was able to grasp what I was saying.)

I'm not advocating drinking on the job. At least not for most jobs or most people. But I've had menial jobs in the past, and I would occasionally sneak off for a drink or two before alphabetizing a box of books or sweeping the porch free of leaves. Don't drink and drive. But I'd certainly say you should consider having a beer before, during, and/or after digging holes for a garden. Also, some writers find that alcohol helps them write. 

In college I would mix Jagermeister and SoBe's No Fear (an energy drink) for what I called a "Don't Fear the Jager". The ratio was usually 1:2, but I discovered that it helped with my writing. I would mix it much weaker, like 1:8 and I called that a "Paperwriter". The caffeine kept me going, and the little bit of alcohol loosened my inhibitions. I wrote many college papers, usually getting a B/B+. Once I got a D, but that was mostly because that class was much harder than the rest. (A word of warning: if you're going to stay up all night drinking and writing a paper, remember that you've been up all night drinking. That means take a cab or arrange a ride from someone. Also: don't go to fencing class, like I did. Dislocated my knee.)

I'm pursuing a career in writing, and I've found that a glass of absinthe can put me in the state of mind I need to write. While brainstorming the next section of my book, I like to grab a beer and let my mind wander. This infographic http://en.ilovecoffee.jp/posts/view/79 talks about the benefits of alcohol on creativity. Mad Men was right about that thing.