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sanjacinto's Profile

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What's a good quality yet affordable vodka?

You say that you like vodka cocktails when you go out with friends, so what brand(s) do you drink and enjoy when you're out? I assume that would be the best starting point. Or is it that you just can't find anything that you enjoy neat?

The thing about vodka is that while it certainly doesn't have any big distinctive flavor profile, it's also not truly tasteless. So while one vodka might be more "tasteless" than the other, I'm pretty sure they're all going to have that distinctive quality that lets you know you're not just drinking astringent water. Though vodka isn't something I have a great amount of experience with, so I may be wrong.

The only other thing I know about vodka is that James Bond puts pepper in his, which he started doing so that the impurities/poisons in the cheap vodka he had would sink to the bottom. Although that probably isn't relevant here, and might not actually work.

Jun 14, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

When do you tip low (10% or less)

To be honest, I'd never tip 10% or lower, since if service is that poor, then it's probably not something you should be paying for at all.

I generally tip 20%, so for me 10% would be half that. If I got served food in a restaurant that was so badly made that I felt it would be unfair for me to pay more than half its menu price, then that's food I'd send back. Similarly, if service is that bad, I think the best thing to do would be to take it up with whoever's in charge and see what can be done about it. And if it's a

Naturally, I'm not talking about service that's just slow, or a bit disorganized. But if it's something that's the equivalent of food that's inedible, why should you be expected to pay for it at all? It's rare, yes, and I've never personally encountered service that bad, but we know it can happen. And if that's the case, and your server, by being rude, or by completely ignoring you, or by throwing a dessert at you has actually made your dining experience unenjoyable/upsetting, then I don't see why that person should be paid for doing it.

You could say that you should never go under X amount because otherwise the server gets next to nothing, but at the same time, if it really is remarkably bad service, then the server hasn't actually done the job that he/she is being paid for.

Still, I don't really like the idea of tipping nothing without saying anything, although I'm of the mindset that when something's wrong, you should always complain about it until whoever's responsible for it or in charge fixes it. So if there really were a problem bad enough to warrant not tipping, I'd be sure to let someone know.

Jun 10, 2012
sanjacinto in Not About Food

your favorite food movie..

For me it's American Psycho, hands down. I can actually pinpoint the moment when I first became interested in food and fine dining, and it's when I saw that movie. It's not actually *about* food, but so much of it takes place in trendy restaurants, with people eating food, and talking about the food, and so on, and so forth. It's a satire, yes, and I know it's supposed to be mocking the culinary culture it depicts, but still, it's all so classy and delicious.

Oh, also Pulp Fiction. That entire movie is mostly just people talking about what hamburgers are called, and arguing over the price of milkshakes.

Jun 10, 2012
sanjacinto in Not About Food

Bourbon with high rye content?

Hmm...figured I'd report back on my results. I appreciate the input, and I was going to go with Bulleit, although I eventually caved and went with an actual rye (Rittenhouse 100) as well as a bourbon. I realized that since there are a decent number of cocktails you need rye to make, then even if I'm just going to be mixing with it, it's better to have the genuine article than to go halfway.

I'm still going to investigate Bulleit further down the line, though, since I'm sooner or later I'll find myself buying whiskey again. Thanks again.

Jun 10, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

No Drinks = Bad Service

This really doesn't make any sense, though, does it? If people who order drinks spend more money, then the server gets a bigger tip whether he/she offers better service to the customers or not. If anything, since you're not guaranteed a bigger tip from the patrons who don't order drinks, you'd have to put more effort into getting that money through better service.

So it seems that what Ms. Echlin is describing is servers trying to gauge how big their tip will be based on how much their customers seem to be willing to spend, and then rewarding/punishing them with a level of service based on the size of the tip they expect. And if I understand correctly, the entire reason that tipping is decided by the customer at the end of the meal rather than just being part of the bill is to allow the opposite.

You could dismiss this as "you get what you pay for," but as far as servers go, I happen to believe that you earn what you work for, and that resentment that you might not get as much money as you would if your customers wanted a drink isn't a justification for poor service.

Jun 09, 2012
sanjacinto in Features

Question about infusing spirits?

A bit of time has passed since I tried following through with this, but I might as well report back.

The strangest thing happened, since I tried infusing the mint, and after a few days the whole thing went black for some reason. It pretty much took on the characteristics of what you'd get if you took some mint, killed it, and then brought it back as a zombie in booze form. I can't imagine what went wrong, since the mint was a few days old, but was still fresh and minty, and I doubt the vodka I used could have anything to do with that.

I must have done something wrong, although it would probably take more experimentation to figure out exactly what. And I doubt I'll be doing that experimentation in the near future. I never was much of a scientist, after all. Oh well...

Jun 03, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

Bourbon with high rye content?

I'm getting to that time of year where I stock up on whatever spirits I'm running low on, and I was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of a particular sort of bourbon I'm looking for.

I'll usually just have one of any type of spirit in my house at a time, so as far as American whiskey goes, I like to have something that's well-rounded and versatile, that can hold up well in cocktails, but that could also be drunk neat. And while I'm willing to spend some money on something that's worth it, I prefer not to go for something that's too expensive if it's going to be a day to day sort of whiskey (I'd generally choose something that's a good value at a moderate price point than something that's exceptional at a premium price point)

Lately I've been drinking Buffalo Trace, which is well-rounded and which I'm enjoying very much, but it's also a very...bourbony bourbon, if that makes sense. So I was wondering if there were any bourbons that have a spiciness that you'd get from rye. I'm not really looking for a rye whiskey, since those tend to be too heavy and overbearing for me; I'm more interested in a bourbon that has a significant rye presence.

Does such a thing exist? I know Bulleit bourbon has a substantial rye presence, although I haven't had the chance to try it. Anything else that folks can suggest?

Jun 03, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

Tub Gin....anyone try it?

Hey, I don't think the website is that bad. As I see it, the marketing strategy is that the brand has a sleazy outlaw theme to it (and the name pretty much spells it out for you), because outlaws are cool. Doesn't seem to be anything wrong with that to me. Also, it seems pretty tongue-in-cheek, considering that the main attraction of the website is a story about the tragic loss of their beloved bathtub (who is female, and is named "Tub"), which they apparently bothered to bury with a headstone and everything. I don't see it so much as a "this is a serious gin for rugged, manly guys" angle as it is taking a theme and having some fun with it.

I mean, I'm sure it's not something that will appeal to everyone, but I think it's for the sort of people who'll find the outlaw angle cool/amusing, rather than those who will take it super seriously.

Still, it doesn't really tell me anything about the product itself, no matter how amusing the branding might be, so I still wouldn't exactly call it good marketing.

(also, having taken one last look before posting this, I'm almost certain the fact that dainty gin stuff and rough outlaws don't mix thematically is part of the joke. Otherwise, you'd have to be completely off your rocker to come up with lines like "TuB is now available at...finer restaurants and watering holes throughout the area.")

May 25, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

How to know if vermouth (sweet or dry) is bad

It's not as though it spoils and becomes undrinkable like, say for example, milk, and I wouldn't even say it gets a strong unpleasant taste, like tainted wine. But it does develop a bit of an "off" taste after a while. As for how to tell if it's off, the easiest way to tell is just to taste it: if it tastes different than it did when you first got it, then there you go. And if it's been 3 months, or 6 months, and you can't notice any discernible difference in taste, then I'd say don't worry about it, since then you're obviously still enjoying it, whether or not someone else might drink it at that point.

Also, it seems a bit counterintuitive, but I find the cutoff point for me for when I'll use vermouth in a cocktail is somewhat sooner than the cutoff point for when I'll drink it on its own. I have no idea why, but even after a point where I won't use vermouth in a cocktail, I'm still fine with drinking it. Sure, it doesn't taste as fresh, but it's still drinkable, and as long as it's drinkable, I say you might as well drink it. Also, any excess vermouth goes pretty quickly when you're using it by the glass rather than the 3/4 oz.

And it might eventually reach a point where you wouldn't want to drink it at all, but if I've never had vermouth long enough that it's reached the point of becoming that bad.

May 25, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

Question about infusing spirits?

Alrighty, so right I did some cooking recently, and I've got some ingredients left over that I got way too much of. One of them is mint, which, as much as I like it, doesn't keep very long, and even if I were to use it in some cocktails or whatever, there's no way I'd come close to using it all. So I figured hey, why not infuse some vodka or something with it, which I've always wanted to try doing anyway. (I might do the same with some excess ginger as well, although you can store that, and I'm planning on brewing my own ginger beer over the summer, so I might just hold on to it)

Now, I know the very basic elements of how this infusion thing goes (you rinse the thing you're infusing, put it in a container along with the spirit, something happens in between, and when you're done, you filter out all the little unpleasant bits, right?)

I guess my question is whether there's a cutoff for how long you can leave the stuff in the spirit. I know it'll take a particular amount of time before the spirit will pick up whatever it is you're infusing, but after that, is there a point after which you have to stop so that...something bad doesn't happen?

I tried searching old threads, but I'm guessing this might be too basic a question, since I couldn't find an answer.

Also, anything else I might need to know would be very helpful. Thanks!

May 16, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

Servers: Eat in Secrecy, Please

I think the only real important thing is that if you have any sort of job where you're interacting with customers, you shouldn't eat while you work. Now, the person asking the question says he/she was on break, so it seems odd that even while on break, he/she would take this customer's order. I think the obvious thing here is, if you want to talk to your friend who's working, and your friend is behind the counter...just sit at the counter and eat your food? I mean, every place is different, but I don't think that at most cafes there would be anything upsetting about seeing an employee sitting at the counter and eating food.

Also, I think that the idea of threatening your server with "posting a negative review online" is completely uncalled for in any situation. Not only is it rude, but do most servers really care how many stars the restaurant they work for has on Yelp?

Jan 30, 2012
sanjacinto in Features

So what should we call a Non-Martini

I think "chocolate daisy" sounds delicious, like one of those little flavored chocolate candies shaped like flowers. Although at the same time, if memory serves correct, a daisy is a sour, which sounds a bit less appealing. Hmm...

I think the problem is that if you look at the few cocktails that have actually adopted "Martini" as part of their name, they don't actually fall into any specific category, even individually. An "apple martini," or a "chocolate martini," as far as I can tell, doesn't actually have a more descriptive name it could use. So perhaps the solution is to start coming up with actual names for these drinks?

A side note: I probably found the most egregious use of the word "martini" at a restaurant where I ate (I went there today, actually). Rather than doing what some establishments do, and giving a list and description of whatever drinks they cooked up themselves, and referring to them as "martinis," they actually just had the header "martinis," and a list of flavors, such as "lychee" or "passion fruit" or "French", with no description of what was actually in the drink. Don't ask what "French" meant; I opted not to find out.

Jan 16, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

Old Fashioned Cocktail Neat?

Off the top of my head, I can't think of *any* cocktails that are served neat. It seems odd for that to happen once, let alone twice. Was this two different bartenders at the same bar, or at different bars? If it was the same one, it might be worth it to try one more time and, should the same thing happen, ask to find out what exactly is going on there (not in a rude way, but maybe more of a "It's odd; this is the only place I've been to where they serve Old-Fashioneds like this. Is there a story behind that?")

Also, an Old-Fashioned served up...this I must try for myself, just to see what difference, if any (other than aesthetic) it makes....

Jan 16, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

Liqueur suggestions?

Yes, Benedictine...I've heard very good things about it, and it certainly has my interest, especially now. I'm trying to think, and I don't think I've ever actually had anything with Benedictine in it, even though I'm familiar with drinks that use it. That's probably because Benedictine doesn't seem to be one of the first things you see on the shelf when you walk into a bar or a liquor store, or what have you. Still, maybe I should take a chance with it.

I actually do have a half bottle of Cointreau sitting around collecting dust. Oddly enough, I never seem to use it, mostly because I'm very bad at it, although I plan to start seeing if I can improve that.

Also, although I didn't mention it since I don't usually have it, I am just at the end of a bottle of Campari I bought a while back.

I didn't realize until it was mentioned here that chartreuse is so expensive. Is there a reason for that?

Also, as I'm getting other ideas, I'll ask: does anyone have any thoughts on maraschino? Seems interesting enough, at least...

Also, on a quasi-related note, I'm thinking of investing in some orange bitters, since I don't actually have any of my own. Because there's always something you can do with orange bitters. At least, I hope there is...

Jan 13, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

Liqueur suggestions?

Alright, so, here's the story: When I buy liquor to drink at home, I keep what I have pretty simple. I'll have a bottle of gin, a bottle of bourbon (and though I don't always get the same thing, it'll usually be one bottle at a time), some sweet and dry vermouth, occasionally some rum, and that's pretty much it most of the time.

Part of the reason is that in general I'm usually on a budget, part of the reason is that I don't entertain guests too often, maybe it's habit, but fundamentally, that's what I keep at home/drink regularly.

Anyhow, despite how simple that is, I know there are a tremendous number of interesting and exciting liqueurs out there, some of which I've tried or had in cocktails but never bought a full bottle of, plenty of which I've never tried, and I'm sure plenty of which I've never even heard of. So I'm thinking that whenever I get around to restocking, I'll try to pick up a bottle or two of something different.

So, I suppose I'm asking for recommendations/suggestions. I'm sure I'll be using whatever I get to make cocktails, so ideally I'm looking for something that can work with gin, whiskey and vermouth (and occasionally rum?) in some capacity. And I guess versatility would be good (I know, it's a bit much to ask for given how little I actually have to work with, but at the same time, I wouldn't want to get the kind of liqueur that can be used to make only 2 drinks in the whole world, with of them also requiring aquavit, applejack, chambord, and some sort of syrup that hasn't been sold in America for the past 50 years.)

Also, I'm not opposed to liqueurs that can be consumed straight.

In terms of flavors and such, I'm not too picky; I think herbal is a good property, although I like lots of things. I'm comfortable with bitter liqueurs too (like Campari, Italian aperitifs, etc.), but there isn't any particular type of liqueur I'd rule out, other than overly sweet or candy-like ones (I can even enjoy those, although that's really not what I'm looking for right now).

So, since I'll be thinking about this for a while before I buy anything, are there any suggestions anyone can offer? Any advice would be appreciated.

Jan 12, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

So what should we call a Non-Martini

To be honest, I don't really think being served straight up is an important/inclusive enough distinction to warrant a separate category. At least, it would make no more sense to have a unique name for a drinks served straight up than it would to have one for drinks served on the rocks.

So I'd just go with "cocktail," or "mixed drink," or one of the other all-inclusive names. Not that I can think of any others.

Jan 12, 2012
sanjacinto in Spirits

Need Suggestions for Starter Cocktail Bar [moved from Outer Boroughs board]

I'd say that as far as what kinds of spirits/liqueurs to get, considering how much there is out there, it's probably best to decide what else to buy based on what cocktails you plan on making. I think the most important fundamental ingredients for a bar are the things that you like to drink the most, since after all, that's what it's there for. Although I imagine you're already doing that since, for example, you mention getting St. Germain before any sort of rum, tequila, American whiskey, etc., even though it's not the most common liqueur.

If you already have/know everything you want, and you want ideas for what to fill it out with, I'd say go with whatever else you enjoy that's also versatile, or that you know you can get a lot of use out of; things like vermouth, Cointreau, and such, which I think others have talked about already.

In terms of equipment, you might want to consider investing in some sort of juicer, if you don't already have one, since I imagine you're probably going to be squeezing some citrus fruits sooner or later.

Also, one more spirit that no one else seems to have mentioned: brandy. You can't make a Sidecar without brandy. Unless you use, like, bourbon or something. Or you could just not make a Sidecar. Still, it's a thought.

Sep 13, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

Why do so many people hate Gin?

What I find surprising is that when people talk about gin, there seems to be this idea that it has an overwhelming flavor that might turn people off. I would say that even stronger tasting and botanical-heavy gin is, compared to most other spirits, pretty light. I can understand people just not liking the taste of gin, but I've always thought of it as having a much more crisp, refreshing flavor than pretty much any other distilled spirit.

Aug 09, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

50 Years of Packages That Fool Stupid People

Really now, I love a good look at marketing magic as much as anyone, but when we describe labels as being meant for "stupid people" then we're just being foolish. Looking at messages and how they're communicated is great, but really, suggesting that people who act on such messages are intellectually inferior is just rude. For shame.

Jul 09, 2011
sanjacinto in Features

gin in the freezer?

When I say "ice dilution" I'm talking about the small amount of water that will invariably get added to a drink when mixing room temperature ingredients with ice. Naturally, I'm not saying so much ice should melt that it will actually taste diluted, but as far as softening the edge, as you mentioned, especially in as spirit-heavy a drink as a martini, I'd say that small amount of water plays an important role.

I'd think that if you mix ice with liquids that are at freezing temperature then you probably wouldn't have that transfer take place. Then again, you probably wouldn't mix something that's already at freezing temperature with ice anyway.

Jun 28, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

gin in the freezer?

I've never tried out storing gin in the freezer, so I can't comment on how it would affect the flavor. I can say, though, that if you're going to be making cocktails with it, then keeping it at freezing temperatures might not be the best idea, since then you'd end up not getting enough ice dilution during the shaking/stirring process.

Jun 28, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

a classic man's cocktail?

Interesting. Just when you think you know a city...

Jun 26, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

a classic man's cocktail?

I think it's more of a regional thing? They're not an everyday sight here in New York, but I think they're more popular in the New England area?

Jun 26, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

Margaritas & Martinis: Does The Glass Matter...? [moved from General Topics]

The purpose of a stemmed cocktail glass is for you to be able to pick up the glass using the stem, so that you don't end up warming the drink with the heat from your hand. So going by this, any cocktail that's not served over ice should be served in a stemmed glass. Although I'm not sure how many people actually hold cocktail glasses by the stem (probably because often they'll be filled almost to the point of overflowing, making them too unwieldy), so that might be a bit of a moot point.

Then there's the matter of size; naturally, you'll want a size glass that's proportionate to the size of the drink you have, and as you pointed out, a larger drink will probably be horrifically imbalanced.

Beyond that a lot of what glass you use is just aesthetic. Cocktail glasses can come in great variety, so I don't think it's necessary to stick to the iconic cone-shaped glass for a Martini, so long as the presentation is still appealing. As far as a Margarita, I'd say any glass you can use for one you can use for the other.

Jun 19, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

Top 10 Signs of a Bad Cook

To be honest, almost everything on this list is simply a sign that someone doesn't cook very often. So all it seems like this article is really saying is that people who are passionate about cooking are better than people who cook infrequently. And while that might feel like a nice pat on the back for everyone here, I think it's far better to encourage and support inexperienced cooks than to mock them.

Jun 18, 2011
sanjacinto in Features

Pam's unreal Thai

I'm not too familiar with the etiquette of this sort of situation, but is this the kind of incident where it might be appropriate to send back a dish? I mean, I might be wrong here, but I'd think that if you specifically ask for something to be spicy, and when it's served it's not spicy, then that's not what you ordered. If you're not getting what you asked for, I don't see why you should be expected to then eat and pay for it.

Jun 15, 2011
sanjacinto in Manhattan

Pusser's Rum = SCUM [moved from Spirits board]

So they're saying that in order to thrive as a business, they needed to trademark a cocktail that they did not actually invent, then promote their product using cocktail, and ultimately cash in on the cocktail's popularity in order to sell their product. It may be legal, but personally, I think it's a rather unsavory strategy, and suggests that they have a product that can't stand up on its own.

And I think the entire concept that they're trying to protect the integrity of the drink goes out the window when followed up with the fact that they're planning on distributing a "painkiller mix." Because THAT won't alter the flavor profile of the drink at all...

Jun 15, 2011
sanjacinto in Food Media & News

Bourbon and Triple Sec?

Sounds like a whisky sidecar.

Jun 01, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

Tequila for Watermelon Mojitos

Out of curiosity, what exactly does a "watermelon mojito" consist of?

May 28, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits

Bourbon and Triple Sec?

Just something that came to mind recently: I can't think of any cocktails that involve combining bourbon and triple sec. I don't know, in my mind it seems like a workable combination. Do such cocktails exist? Or is it actually a terrible idea?

May 21, 2011
sanjacinto in Spirits