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Lunch near University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN

They'll be re-opening soon, they're remodeling and rebranding.

Aug 09, 2012
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

London and Holland gin

Aug 04, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Vanilla Bean added to Vodka Made it Bitter; What Happened?

Hah, totally missed that.

Aug 03, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Vanilla Bean added to Vodka Made it Bitter; What Happened?

Wow. With that much vanilla, you're not drinking liqueur, you're drinking vanilla EXTRACT. Here's a Chow recipe for vanilla extract, so you can compare to your home version. But to each his own - drink what you like. :)
http://www.chow.com/recipes/30185-van...

My own vanilla vodka has a slight bitterness to it, but I used crappier vodka. I think I had the beans in there for about a week. I'm pretty sure adding sugar to it will take the edge off, I just haven't got to it yet.

Aug 01, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

What's a good quality yet affordable vodka?

"Ideal" vodka has no real taste to it, which is why I generally avoid it. I like strong flavors. That said, I found the New Amsterdam vodka is really quite good, very smooth, and the price was pretty reasonable. I believe it's a recent product, I've been buying New Amsterdam gin for a while but I just saw this for the first time a few months ago. If you don't like Smirnoff or Stoli, give it a shot, it's not very similar.

Jun 13, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Liquor-soaked fruit

If they were as strong as a shot of vodka, they would either have to be huge or made with high-proof grain alcohol, so I doubt they are as strong as the chef indicated. Most likely they're barely alcoholic.

I don't have a recipe, but quality is really the key component, IMO. Your infused fruit can't be any better than your starting ingredients, so if you want great infused fruit, you have to start with great fruit and great liquor.

Jun 02, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

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

Vermouth is basically wine. Refrigerate it after opening. If it's really undrinkably bad you'll be able to tell. If it's just old it'll probably be a little off and have some odd flavors but it's still drinkable. I keep my open vermouth a long time (6+ months) because I don't use much of it, but I also don't expect much out of it. People who care more will try to use it much faster, maybe within a month? Buy the smaller bottles unless you need large quantities.

If it's unopened it should last a long, long time, just like wine. I suppose it's possible for it to go bad in the bottle, but it's pretty unlikely.

May 24, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Orange Liqueur

You could just use it as-is in drinks that call for simple syrup. I was doing that with a grapefruit peel syrup for a while, but it was very mild and I could barely tell it was there. I did notice that the syrup was strong enough that sugar was crystallizing back out of it, I bet yours is the same and you could make rock candy with it.

Consider making some orange liqueur by infusing the everclear with orange peels (and other stuff) for a while, then use your orange syrup to finish it.

May 20, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Where should I look for solid "recipes" for drinks?

There are more Robert Hess recipes on http://www.smallscreennetwork.com. They're in the show notes so you don't need to watch the videos, but they are worth your time too.

I started with Craft of the Cocktail, it's what got me really interested in cocktails. After a while, I realized I liked the recipes in Hess' Essential Bartender's Guide a lot more, they just seemed better balanced. Not that CotC was a bad book by any means, it's still my go-to for a few things.

I'd also recommend Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology, with the caveat that nearly every recipe in the book is too sour and needs just a little sweetening. If you think most cocktail recipes are too sour, head that way. Joy of Mixology also has some great theory surrounding families of drinks. Very informative for making your own recipes.

May 20, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Where to buy "Game" meat in the Twin Cities?

The St. Paul Farmer's Market often has vendors with bison and elk. (This farmer's market is all local, not like some of the others.)

You can find camel at some of the halal meat markets like Holy Land.

Oddly enough, Byerly's meat counter has an "exotic meat" order form. It's not cheap, but you can get bear, raccoon and over a dozen other unusual meats. Just ask the person on duty about it.

Apr 29, 2012
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

What does 1.75 liter bottle of Markers Mark cost in your City/State

$47 at Surdyks in Minneapolis, MN (on sale this week for $37).

Mar 25, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Crystal Clear Ice Cubes

Camper's info about ice is really excellent and interesting but IMO, clear ice is FAR more trouble than it's worth. You can get 95% clear ice at home but if you're going to have a fancy party just go buy some.

Feb 29, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Best quality coffee liqueur- preferably without breaking the bank

This article has a bit of an explanation as to what you're going to get with home made.

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/01...

I've made several liqueurs at home now (not coffee, but it's on the list) and it's really quite easy and rewarding.

Feb 23, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Visiting Bourbon Country

That reminds me - most distillers aren't actually distilling during summer because it's too hot. March should be fine but I went in August and many of the distilleries were not running.

Feb 21, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Visiting Bourbon Country

I visited the Bourbon Trail recently. Heaven Hill (Louisville) makes a large number of lesser known bourbons (Fighting Cock!), so that might be a good place to stop. Their basic tour is mostly a history lesson, but some of the other tours sounded interesting. If you've never done it, get a tour that includes a rick house. The smell is amazing, it'll haunt your dreams.

Buffalo Trace (Frankfort) is a national brand so I'm sure you've heard of it, but the tour was good.

IMO, tours weren't a great time to be trying new bourbons. It's nice, of course, but at the end of a tour at 10 am isn't the best time to be trying to find a new whiskey to like.

Feb 17, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Help finding a ubiquitous cocktail for a booze hater

A cosmopolitan is probably a safe bet, the cranberry and orange flavors should be stronger than the vodka.

I can't recall the name of the drink, but 2 parts sambuca to 3 parts of coffee liqueur, served over lots of crushed ice is amazing... if you like coffee and licorice, of course.

Feb 15, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Interesting Herbs, Foods, or Flavorings to Steep into Simple Syrups

Cardamom syrup is used in middle eastern deserts. I bet it would mix well with some of the more interesting rums, and could probably slot into some existing Tiki drinks. Tea, cardamom and cream is a simple chai, making that alcoholic shouldn't be too hard.

Caraway and/or fennel syrup might work in an old fashioned.

Feb 10, 2012
xcorvis in Spirits

Edible Roses

I'm looking for edible violets and I've been told to check at the farmer's market, but of course edible flowers are out of season this time of year and probably extra hard to find.

Maybe check with a caterer or someone who makes wedding cakes? They seem to be the main consumers...

Jan 13, 2012
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Cocktail/bar supplies in Minneapolis?

You can get most of what you want on Amazon for very reasonable prices. I'd recommend starting with cheap-ish stuff and then upgrading when you realize what you have is no longer cutting it. When you buy a muddler, either get an unvarnished wooden one or a metal one with a rubberized bottom. Plastic is weak (and who needs more plastic in their food?) and varnish will eventually flake off.

You also can get almost everything you're looking for at a well-stocked liquor store, or even just Target (in kitchen supplies section, where I got most of my stuff originally)

I do have some Bittercube bitters and they're pretty good. I'm not really sure how to compare them - they're different. I'm not sure I like the orange bitters, they use dried corriander in it and I find it a little odd. My friend gave them to me as a gift so I'm not sure where he got them, but I think it was in town so I'd try the bigger liquor stores like Surdyks and France 44.

Surdyks does carry a whole bunch of Fee Bros bitters so if you can't find Bittercube you can at least get something other than Angostura there.

Dec 01, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Indochin St.Paul

I was there a couple of weeks ago and had a similar experience. The service was absolutely awful. Not entirely the waitress's fault since the place was packed, but there were people waiting for tables while I was sitting around waiting for my check. I eventually just had to go up to her and ask for it directly.

The food was good, I especially liked the fried banana with jackfruit. Next time it'll be take out.

Apr 29, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Mexican - vegetarian-friendly, or at least pescatarian?

Los Ocampo has a number of vegetable fillings and a few fish dishes. I don't know if they use lard or animal fats in the preparation, but they offer some unusual fillings like pumpkin blossoms and "corn mushrooms" (aka corn smut).

Mar 29, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Juniper Berries

My wife has found dried juniper berries at Cub.

Mar 26, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Passion fruit juice/concentrate

I've also seen Ceres at Rainbow, and our Cub has Welch's frozen passionfruit juice concentrate routinely.

Mar 11, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Bagged crushed ice

After calling about 20 places and having no luck at all, I found the Ace Ice Co in Minneapolis sells 35 lbs bags for pretty cheap.

Feb 12, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Bagged crushed ice

I've tried 5 nearby grocery stores, my usual liquor stores and a couple convenience stores, and none of them had it or even knew anyone that carried it. Any suggestions for Saint Paul locations that are known to have crushed ice?

Feb 12, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Bagged crushed ice

I haven't seen any at my local Cub, but I'll try some other grocery chains. Thanks!

Feb 09, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Bagged crushed ice

Any tips on where I can get bags of crushed or small chip ice for a party? Crushing a lot of ice by hand is a real pain.

Feb 07, 2011
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

flavored syrups for Tiki drinks

I was able to pick up the syrups I wanted from the store formerly known as Brewberry's. It's now called Espresso Royale (at Randolph and Fairview in St. Paul). They will special order Monin syrups. It sounds like they have full access to the catalog of syrups. I found that some stores can only order certain flavors because their distributor doesn't carry them.

Dec 28, 2010
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

flavored syrups for Tiki drinks

Turns out Kowalski's has a small selection of coffee friendly flavors like hazelnut, almond, caramel and the like.

Dec 28, 2010
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul

flavored syrups for Tiki drinks

I wasn't able to find Orget at Surdyk's, I think they said they don't normally carry it, but maybe that's changed in the past few months.

Dec 28, 2010
xcorvis in Minneapolis-St. Paul