Ice Capades

I’ve admired Andrew Bohrer’s writing on his website Cask Strength for a couple years now.

Last year, I finally got to meet the man when we both participated in the B.A.R. Advanced seminars and testing when it was held in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Seattle for a few years, so had yet to experience his stylings behind the bar.

When Amanda Womack, of Cask Store, mentioned that they were going to bring him down for a special event at Bourbon and Branch, I was pretty psyched that I would finally get to taste some of Andrew’s drinks.

When I further received a note from Andrew, asking if he thought Heaven’s Dog would be able to help him score some clear ice for ice spheres in one of his drinks, I quickly sent a note to Erik Adkins. He was as into the idea as I was.

Two 300 pound blocks of Sculpture grade ice.

Really, there’s a bar called Heaven’s Dog back there.  I don’t know why you don’t stop by more often, we have really good cocktails…

At this point, Erik A. said, “I just realized I can’t leave this ice out here unattended, because someone will probably pee on it.”

Andrew scores the ice, so we can cut it in even slices.

Chainsaw Tuesday.

Scoring the slices for further cutting.

The press was even in attendance!  Local clear ice savant Camper English takes notes for his article Ice Meets Chainsaw. Check out the action videos of middle aged wanna be bartenders risking life and limb sawing ice with a chainsaw.

Andrew was also cool enough to give us a little seminar on cutting ice for spheres, cubes, and “diamonds”.

If you get up to Seattle, please do visit Andrew at his current place of business, Mistral Kitchen. I hear the cocktails and food are outstanding.

Some Reservations

Was recently watching an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain traveled to Kerala, India.

In the episode he visited two establishments which gave me pause, a Toddy Shop and a Tea Shop.

While I know the idea of “Punch” was likely adapted by the British from Indian Roots and the Indians have a pretty good claim on being among the first to distill spirits for consumption, I hadn’t given much thought to what else they may have contributed to drink culture.

Toddies and Slings, (more about Toddies and Slings in another post shortly,) are booze plus water, sugar, and maybe a garnish.  Along with Punch, they were among the most popular drinks in America during the early years of the country.

In India, Toddy Shops are bar-like places that serve Palm Wine and food.  Palm Wine is a fermented beverage made by harvesting the sap of Toddy Palm Trees.  It spontaneously ferments, making a low alcohol beverage similar to Mexican beverage Pulque.  These shops are gathering places for men, and often serve food as a sop to their Toddy, or maybe Toddy as a salve to the spicy Indian Food.  One way, or another, they are gathering places, where men, food, and alcoholic beverages converge.

It puzzles me how the word “Toddy” may have migrated to or from India, to refer to a ubiquitous American beverage of the 18th and 19th Century.

Another interesting visit was to a Tea Shop.  Much like the Toddy Shop, the Tea Shop was a social gathering place, where you would go to get your tea, have a snack, and converse with your neighbors and the proprietor to get the most recent local news and gossip.  Aside from this similarity to Taverns, I was struck by another interesting technique used by the women making the tea.  When they are pouring and mixing it they aerate it by pouring it between two metal mixing cups.  Called Yard Long Tea it was strange to see the mixing technique from the Blue Blazer and other famous 19th Century Bartenders being used to mix tea in India.

While Wayne Curtis’ recent article in the Atlantic, “Who Invented the Cocktail?“, traced some of the roots of bar culture and cocktails back to England, this episode of No Reservations got me wondering how much of what he credits to England in the article was borrowed from Indian culture.

The Violet Hour

Well, you might have noticed that there were a few “S” cocktails missing from the Savoy Stomp…

Chicago’s a funny city. One of the largest cities in the country, it is also one of the hardest drinking party towns in the Midwest. Gangsters and Speakeasies played a big part during prohibition, but after prohibition, like elsewhere, there was a bit of a lull in cocktail culture.

Even after new classic cocktail bars started opening in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, the Midwest has lagged behind, caught in the culture of bigger is better.

Chicago, though, seemed like it could do better. A fabulous culinary destination, arguably one of the best in the whole of the United States.  How long until a bar in Chicago took cocktails as seriously as restaurants like Alinea, avec, or blackbird?

With thoughts along those lines, Toby Maloney and his partners opened The Violet Hour in late June of 2007.

Toby,

I’ll be in Chicago for a dinner at Alinea on Thurs.  We’re staying
through the weekend to relax.

Hoping to stop by The Violet Hour (finally!)

Do you still have anything to do with that venue?

I do need to photograph at least this week’s 5 Savoy Cocktails (Star
through Stinger) somewhere in Chicago.

Seemed like The Violet Hour might be a fun place to do it.

Think anyone there would be interested?

Best,

Erik E.

Hey Erik,

I am happy to say I am an owner of The Violet Hour so I will always have my fingers in it. It would be my pleasure to get you a rezo at TVH anytime you want. Many people find a cocktail after Alinea is the perfect thing to decompress and settle the stomach. YAY Cynar.

I am checking with one of my people to see when they can make time for your photo shoot. Do you want the place to be open?

As soon as I hear back I will shoot you an other email.

Cheers,
Toby

Hey Toby,

Alinea is on Pernod-Ricard’s dime and there are quite a few bartenders
in tow, so perhaps we’ll make it over afterwards. I’ll suggest it,
unless they have already been in contact. Those Amaro based cocktails
were looking pretty darn appealing to me, and it is only 11:00AM here.

Usually before open or during a bit of a slow time is best for
photography. If such a thing exists at TVH. Is Saturday jammed from
open? I hate to get in the way of opening chores. Sunday at 5 or 6?
Whatever works.

Would be nice to do a bit of an interview and such, if they don’t
mind, and get some pictures of the atmosphere. Always curious about
the cocktail scene in other locales.

Erik E.

Toby,

Simon Ford appears somewhat taken with the idea of visiting TVH for a
post-prandial nightcap.

Our Alinea reservation is on Thurs at 7, I guess that means some time
around 11 or 12?

I will text closer to the time, if the idea gains traction.

Erik E.

I might need a little more notice than hours. Lynette is in I know, You, your wife and Simon make enough for me to make you a rezo in the back room. Any new info should be txted to me to insure prompt action to this fluid situation.

Cheers,
Toby

Well, nothing like rolling in with a bunch of high profile bartenders who have already been drinking, to put a place on edge. I know I always get nervous. Will they break anything? What will my hangover be like tomorrow morning?

Fortunately, we did not break anything, and all went well. Delicious post-prandial libations, perfect to sate our stuffed stomachs.

The next night Mrs. Flannestad and I traveled back to The Violet Hour in Wicker Park, this time to try a few Savoy Cocktails. Unfortunately, among the next 12, or so, cocktails, there wasn’t a lot of greatness. Michael Rubel did his best to maintain his cool and make the cocktails work. But some were just not that great.

Star Cocktail (No. 1)
1 Teaspoonful Grape Fruit Juice.
1 Dash Italian Vermouth.
1 Dash French Vermouth.
1/2 Calvados or Apple Brandy.
1/2 Dry Gin.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.
Harry McElhone notes this was, “A very popular cocktail at the Plaza, New York.”

Tastes, I guess, change. We first tried it with Carpano Antica, Noilly Prat Dry, Busnel V.S.O.P. Calvados, and Anchor Junipero Gin. Pretty close to undrinkable. Michael, not being one to admit defeat, had to mix it again, this time massaging the amounts a bit and using Bombay Gin instead of the Junipero. As he said, “it isn’t going to rock your world,” but it was at least drinkable.

Messing around later, I found a version made with 1 teaspoon M&R Bianco, 1 teaspoon Carpano Antica, 1 teaspoon Grapefruit, 1 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy, and 1 oz Krogstad Aquavit to be actually enjoyable. Your mileage may vary, but, made literally, this classic cocktail is definitely one of questionable merit.

Star Cocktail (No. 2)
1/2 Italian Vermouth.
1/2 Applejack or Calvados.
(dash House “Aromatic Elixir”)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Michael went with 1/2 Carpano Antica, 1/2 Laird’s Bottled in Bond, and, after a brief query, “I’d put bitters in this, wouldn’t you?” he suggested we add Violet Hour House Aromatic Elixir to the cocktail. Maybe it was the previous Star Cocktails, but what a relief to be drinking an Apple Brandy Manhattan! Whew!

Stomach Reviver Cocktail
5 Dashes Angostura Bitters.
1/6 Fernet Branca.
2/3 Brandy.
2/3 Kummel.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

This cocktail just seemed so appropriate for a bar which has a section of its cocktail menu based on Amaros! Plus, it’s just odd to find a bar with Kummel on the back bar! We used Maison Surrene Petit Champagne Cognac, Kaiser Kummel, Fernet and around an eighth of an ounce of Angostura!

And nice it was, a fine example of extreme Fernet Mixology. About our only criticism would be, it was almost nicer before it was chilled and diluted. Maybe I’m just used to drinking Fernet at room temp, but the flavors seemed a bit muted after the cocktail was cold.

Stinger Cocktail
1/4 White Crème de Menthe.
3/4 Brandy.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drink a Stinger, but as we were talking, Michael had a funny story. He mentioned that it was one of Dale DeGroff’s favorite cocktails, and when he was working in New York, he got an order from the great man. For some reason, which I fail to exactly recall, he decided to make it, instead of with Cognac, but with a (very nice) Spanish Brandy.

The next Saturday night Michael was working, in the height of the evening’s rush, Mr. DeGroff came back to talk to him, and explain in no uncertain terms, without concern for how busy Mr. Rubel was, precisely why it was wrong to use Spanish Brandy and exactly the way he preferred his Stingers, thank you very much.

Well, after that story, how could I not finish the evening with a Stinger prepared by Mr. Rubel?

This evening we made the stinger with Brizard White Creme de Menthe and Maison Surenne Petit Champagne Cognac.  You can’t say Michael did not learn his lesson. We did serve it up, per the Savoy Cocktail Book, and I believe Mr. DeGroff prefers his over cracked ice. FYI, just in case you get an order for one from him one busy Saturday night.

I can’t say I entirely see the appeal of the Stinger, I did think it could use a bit less Creme de Menthe. I also believe I agree with Mr. DeGroff and prefer it over cracked ice.

This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow again and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen magically along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn.
– Bernard DeVoto “The Hour”

I have to thank Toby and especially Michael and Maura of The Violet Hour staff for making me welcome and putting up with a couple pretty awful Savoy Cocktails. The most inspiring thing, as a bartender and customer, that I took away from our evenings at The Violet Hour, was that the staff were great hosts. I loved watching the truly professional way they interacted with each other, the customers, and kept their bar top in order. Amazing. Although I didn’t see the unicorn this time, I certainly hope it won’t be another 3 years before I get a chance to return and look for it again!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (Presidio Social Club)

Bonus Sazerac!

I challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February, but I’m not quite done. We’ve got a few bonus Sazeracs coming up that didn’t fit into the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar.
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters.
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Pikesville Rye)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with 1 dash Absinthe (Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

I’ve known Mr. Tim Stookey for a few years now and he has always impressed me as a gracious host and stylish dresser. A couple months ago we both worked a cocktail catering event and shared a bar. Tim worked the early shift, and I closed down the night. When he was leaving, he left his nice cast aluminum ice scoop, not wanting me to be left with a pressed stainless number. I thanked him, and promised I would get it back to him as soon as I could.

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Unfortunately, the bar he works at, Presidio Social Club, is a bit out of the way for us unless we are attending a concert at the Palace of Fine Arts, so “as soon as possible” stretched into a couple months.  Fortunately, in recent months we’ve been to the Palace of Fine Arts to see a couple concerts, Tinariwen and Dodos, enabling us to stop by, enjoy some dinner, drinks, chat with Mr. Stookey and finally return his ice scoop.

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Clearly a Sazerac or two was in order at the Presidio Social Club’s gorgeous long marble bar!

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And a fine, delicious Sazerac it was, classic proportions with an unusual Rye Choice, Pikesville, and a great absinthe!

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Mrs. Flannestad enjoying a non-Sazerac favorite of hers, The Last Word Cocktail.  Tim actually introduced her to the Last Word several years ago, and it has become her go to choice for just about any occasion.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Organic Sazerac Cocktail (Gather)

Sazerac Cocktail 25 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (Florida Crystals Organic Sugar Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (Organic Blood Orange and Hibiscus “tincture”)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Espirito Organic California Brandy)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled, add 1 dash Absinthe (Anise, fennel, and wormwood tincture) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

I first heard read the words of Mr. Alex Smith on the forum pages of the Chanticleer Society.  At the time he was working at the Thirsty Bear and it sounded like he was doing some interesting things.  I sent him a, “Hey there!” note and suggested that it would be fun to stop by. Some time went by. Of course I didn’t make it to Thirsty Bear before he had departed that venue.

Alex’s BIO: i was born into a rich family, given up for adoption and eventually adopted into a poor family. this unfortunate turn of events pretty much set the tone for the rest of my life. for someone who sees suffering and disappointment as much an everyday part of life as air or water, i seem to manage just fine. i usually wake up happy and go to sleep happy; it’s just the time in between that tends to get to me.

i was diagnosed as an idiot savant at an early age, managed to complete high school despite my extracurricular interests and fell in love with alcohol soon thereafter. i started to use cocktails as an outlet for my artistic creation a few years ago, channeling my frustrations through the sieve of my mental affliction.

currently, i find myself managing Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco and tending bar at Gather in Berkeley. my dog has cancer, my mother is insane & i am deeply in love with a talented & beautiful young woman who pretty much doesn’t want me in her life. some people sing the blues… i make cocktails.

then i drink ‘em.

my contribution to Erik’s great Sazerac project of 2010 is an all-organic/biodynamic version. 2 oz of Espirito biodynamic brandy, few dashes of blood orange tincture, . 25 oz organic simple syrup (1:1) and a rinse of “absinthe” tincture. finished with a squeeze of lemon zest which was then tossed away.

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Recently, I heard he was working at a new organic and sustainable restaurant in Berkeley called “Gather” and also Smuggler’s Cove here in San Francisco. The schedule worked out better for us to meet at Gather this time around.

What the? All organic? How? Where? Let’s take a look at some of the “about” information from Gather:

Transparency. Got a question about where something came from or why it’s in a dish? Ask the host for a copy of “The Source Book”— an index that traces the lifecycle of every ingredient served at Gather. From spices and oils to animals and vegetables, we’ve researched how it got to us and where it went along the way. Same goes for the materials used in our restaurant. Every ingredient, material, and action we put forth has been thoughtfully considered.

Wow! How do you start a bar program at a place like this? I have almost no idea where most of the ingredients in 90% of the spirits I work with come from. Talking to Alex, they have chosen to use exclusively organic spirits and liqueurs for the bar. But wait, is there an organic vermouth? Nope. Orange Liqueur? Nope. Green Chartreuse? Nope. Whiskey? Nope. Ack! The basic staples of drink mixing, which we all take for granted, and they have access to none of them. Ouch! What they don’t have, they are trying to come up with. Hardcore.  Kind of reminds me of all the old bar manuals I have read, where they include instructions for making just about anything, including the “Spirits”.

Well, fortunately, there are organic sugar, organic California Brandy, and organic flavoring tinctures. So it was sort of an Orangey Sazerac. Ballpark, anyway, and quite tasty.

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And, uh, damn it! I didn’t take a picture of the Sazerac!  Exactly another reason I need Mrs. Flannestad’s help in these endeavors.  Get caught up in chatting and/or drinking and forget to document the drink I am there to try.

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I did, however, remember to take a picture of the “Pegu Club” Tina made for me using Cap Rock Gin, Organic Orange Liqueur, organic Lime juice, and flavoring “tinctures”.  Nicely refreshing and tasty!  I also tried the vegan “charcuterie” which I quite enjoyed.  Looking forward to getting back to Gather again, to see more of what they are up to with the other things on the menu.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (range)

Sazerac Cocktail 22 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

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Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar.
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters.
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Sazerac 18 Rye Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled, add l dash Absinthe and squeeze lemon peel on top.

It used to make me really nervous when I would have to serve other bartenders. Feeling like, you know, they were judging me, or I would fail horribly and let them down.

Then one Savoy Night at Alembic, Brooke Arthur hijacked the bar for her birthday party. Wall to wall bartenders. Strangely, no one made fun of me.

At that point, I kind of realized that bartenders are good to serve because they know what you are going through. They are usually sympathetic and supportive.

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Anyway, Brooke is an awesome bartender, who has been super supportive of my little adventures in bartending.  You can usually find her at the Mission District restaurant range. After Absinthe Bar and Brasserie opened, there was a bit of a delay before other restaurants began to realize the value of spending some effort on a cocktail program. Range was among the second wave of restaurants to learn from Absinthe’s example and put some “ooomph” into their cocktail program. Also, the food is very tasty.

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Stopping by range for a Sazerac, Brooke chose to make it with the Sazerac 18 Rye Whiskey (2006, I believe). Like Brian at Jardiniere, she went through the whole old fashioned sugar muddling procedure. It’s interesting, I guess what I find with the muddled sugar Sazeracs, is that really very little of the sugar dissolves, making them very lightly sweetened versions of the drink. This actually works quite well when you want to feature a high end Whiskey, like the Sazerac 18.

Anyway, here’s a good Black and White Photo of Brooke. Wish I’d taken it, but sadly, I did not.  When I asked what classic or original cocktail she is currently obsessing over, she said The Brooklyn, which is usually made as follows:

Brooklyn Cocktail

1 Dash Amer Picon (1/2 barspoon Torani Amer)
1 Dash Maraschino (1/2 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino)
2/3 Canadian Club Whisky (1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey)
1/3 French Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass.

I have to admit, I find the Brooklyn a bit odd. I can’t think of many other Dry, Aromatic Cocktails made with Brown Spirits. It seems profoundly out of sync with the usual tendency towards sweet, rich, aromatic brown drinks, but in a good way.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Boothby’s Ten Commandments: VIII. Keep the floor behind the bar as dry as possible.

Boothby

As I mentioned before, Anchor Distilling recently reprinted the 1891 edition of “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bar-Tender“.

As someone who is somewhat involved in the bartender trade, I always enjoy going through old books and reading the advice that appears. Usually, I am amazed at how little has changed. How valid pieces of advice contained in a book from 1891 can be 118 years later.

So I thought I would go through Boothby’s “Ten Commandments” for bartenders one by one and see which ones still make sense for the 21st Century.

VIII. Keep the floor behind the bar as dry as possible. It not only looks better, but you will find your health greatly improved by following this rule. Many bartenders contract rheumatism, neuralgia and many other serious complaints through carelessness in this report.

I don’t know if it is recent world disasters, or the topic, but I’ve been having a very hard time getting inspired to write about bar floors.

Keeping the floor dry is certainly a sensible thing to do, above all for safety reasons.

Most bars I’ve worked in either use a wood slat lattice over the floor or the kitchen mats pictured above.

Both help, to a certain extent, to prevent slips and help with fatigue. They also allow one to be less concerned about the inevitable spills.

I can’t speak to whether these cushions help prevent “rheumatism,” “neuralgia,” or “other serious complaints”. I really haven’t been bartending long, or serious, enough to develop any “serious complaints” as a result. I mean, I do have my shares of aches and pains, but most are related to back, shoulders, elbow, and wrists. Back from a lifting injury in High School. Shoulders from 10 years as a line cook. Elbow from a bike accident a few years ago. Wrists from 15 years in Information Technology.

Personally, I find a daily regimen of stretching and exercise does the most to keep these “complaints” from becoming more “serious”.

And Michele says donating to Partners in Health is a good way to help.

Stand With Haiti

Stand With Haiti

Boothby’s Ten Commandments: VI. Sell all the liquor you can, but use as little as possible yourself.

Boothby

As I mentioned before, Anchor Distilling recently reprinted the 1891 edition of “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bar-Tender“.

As someone who is somewhat involved in the bartender trade, I always enjoy going through old books and reading the advice that appears. Usually, I am amazed at how little has changed. How valid pieces of advice contained in a book from 1891 can be 118 years later.

So I thought I would go through Boothby’s “Ten Commandments” for bartenders one by one and see which ones still make sense for the 21st Century.

Fernet.

VI. Sell all the liquor you can, but use as little as possible yourself.

Boy, this is a complicated one.

First, a few points.

As dealers in delicious alcoholic beverages, most bartenders, as a sort of career responsibility, do have a fine appreciation for booze.

From a management, loss prevention, perspective, the Boothby quote is entirely intuitive.

The more booze you sell, and the less your staff drinks, the better your bottom line.

On the other hand, there is a certain psychic toll to bartending.

Most people cannot maintain the appearance of liking everyone they talk to without a cost.

It isn’t possible. Different people handle it differently, but for many, a little alcoholic lubrication isn’t a bad idea.

Not to mention, as a manager, if you are too much of a stickler about booze consumption, your staff will just sneak and steal.

On the other hand, a drunk or surly bartender is never appealing to the guest.

Maybe there are some semi-psychic individuals who can appear perfectly sober, manage money, and the patrons in their venues while three sheets to the wind.  I’m not one of them, or, more accurately, not comfortable with going down that path.

Then there are the other personal issues.

Sadly, or happily, I am a light weight in several senses. First, I’m pretty darn skinny with almost no appreciable body fat, giving me a pathetic tolerance to almost any volume of alcoholic beverage.  Second, my body is not particularly fantastic at processing alcoholic beverages back into non-intoxicating substances.

What does all that mean?

While some of my compatriots may be able to imbibe while retaining their composure, I cannot. If I am to appear a professional of any sort, I cannot drink (much) while working.  Important to recognize your limitations, I think.

Savoy Anniversary

Wow! Who would have thunk it? A year of Savoy Nights at Alembic Bar have come and gone.

Not to mention, a year of bartending on a semi-regular basis.

As Danny Louie put it a few Sundays ago, “I bet you’ve learned a lot!”

Gah!  Sometimes I think I’ve learned so much I don’t remember a thing.  Recipes, service standards, names, drink preferences, POS operation, etc. have claimed a big section of my brain.

The major things that have defined this year have been bartending and Michele and I adopting our dog.

Beyond that, much has been business as usual.

Since my birthday, in October, I have been struggling a bit, cough, as a “man of a certain age”, wondering where this is all going, and what I was hoping to accomplish. Getting myself in a bit of a lather, thinking about what I’m actually getting out of any of this cocktail junk and what I “deserve”. I need to let go of that way of thinking, as it is nothing but destructive.

I think I’ve gotten past that in the last few days, and am back to my typically midwestern way of looking at life, “things could be worse.”

I’m pleased with the direction the photos have taken on the blog and want to get more involved with photography in general. It was something I had put on a back burner in my life a while ago. Put a bookmark in that part of my life. I’m enjoying re-examining the photos I take with a more critical eye, instead of just taking snap shots of cocktails.

Maybe I’ll even bring the camera to the next Savoy Night at Alembic!

Oh, speaking of, the next Savoy Night at Alembic will be December 20th. We’re still ironing out exact details on what cool things we’re going to make, but hopefully we’ll have a couple punches and maybe some hot drinks.

Stop by, say hi, and order some cocktails from guys in goofy suits.

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Forward Into the Past!

Boothby’s Ten Commandments: IV. Avoid conversations of a religious or political nature.

Boothby

As I mentioned before, Anchor Distilling recently reprinted the 1891 edition of “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bar-Tender“.

As someone who is somewhat involved in the bartender trade, I always enjoy going through old books and reading the advice that appears. Usually, I am amazed at how little has changed. How valid pieces of advice contained in a book from 1891 can be 118 years later.

So I thought I would go through Boothby’s “Ten Commandments” for bartenders one by one and see which ones still make sense for the 21st Century.

Rules.

IV. Avoid conversations of a religious or political nature.

OK, Bars aren’t Libraries and a lively bar is much much more fun than a quiet, sober one.

However, as people who have been drinking are seldom more sensible or measured than when they are sober, it is a pretty good idea to avoid conversations whose subjects have resulted in pogroms, massacres, and genocides. I mean, even if you know the person in front of you is on the same page, you never know about the person to the right or to the left.

Customers can get up to enough mischief on their own, without you stirring the pot.

But when folks are shooting each other over dog sniffs, what is a safe topic?

Even apparently safe conversational gambits like Vodka slagging and the comparative merits of various Absinthes can get some people in a lather, cough, especially if they have a vested interest in same.

I mean, that I’m aware of, most brand reps or shills don’t seem to be carrying handguns, but I do sometimes wonder how that Australian Eucalyptus liqueur got on the back bar.  “Yo, Bruce, you Bloody Seppo, I better see this in your bar or you’ll be nothing but a smudge on my roo bar!”

Best to be on the safe side.