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tristis's Profile

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What Craft Spirits Have Disappointed You?

I'm currently living in South Carolina, and while there are some good local products (such as some of High Wire's offerings), the bulk of the local or semi-local craft spirits that I see on the shelf at my go-to liquor store are "moonshines" and vodkas, many of them flavored. I haven't tried many because even one of the proprietors of the store selling them admits that they are almost without exception quite forgettable or even outright bad. It may be early days yet for these distilleries, but they seem to have taken a very different approach than the Brooklyn/Portland/etc. folks who seem largely to focus on gin and small-barrel whiskey at the beginning.

May 26, 2014
tristis in Spirits

What's your favorite hot toddy recipe?

Fall is upon us, winter is creeping up, and the temperatures are dropping, especially at night here in San Francisco. Which, to me, means that it's hot toddy season once again. My preferred method is a teaspoon of honey, a tot of brandy (I like to use Paul Masson Grande Amber for this because it's relatively inexpensive), a few ounces of hot water, and a cinnamon stick, which I like to let steep in the drink for a few minutes before drinking. Won't actually cure a cold, but makes you feel better about having one.

I'm eager to hear what other recipes people enjoy, though, especially since there are essentially no prescribed ingredients in a hot toddy.

Oct 16, 2012
tristis in Spirits

NY Times on craft whiskey aging

That's true, and the state of things right now is clearly that normal barrel aging is superior to these other techniques. But even if start-up distilleries transition into traditional means of production as their businesses mature, the fact that it takes so long to bring traditional product to market means that start-ups also have incentive to continue to progress these new techniques. Perhaps in twenty years you won't be able to tell the difference between barrel aged and artificially aged whiskey. Or, as the article mentions, perhaps the craft distillers will use these new processes to create interesting and original spirits.

Aug 24, 2012
tristis in Spirits

NY Times on craft whiskey aging

The New York Times has a piece up about craft distillers utilizing small barrels and other, more sophisticated tricks to impart an aged flavor and complexity to young whiskeys:

The writer, Clay Risen, seems sort of skeptical of the whole idea, but it seems like this sort of thing may be the way of the future. Maybe traditionalists will never abandon their 15-year aged in the barrel whiskey, but I'm curious as to what distilling start-ups will be doing ten years from now.

Has anyone tried any of these faux-aged spirits? What did you think?

Aug 24, 2012
tristis in Spirits

What bourbon are you drinking these days?

I picked up a bottle of Johnny Drum Private Stock recently, following a recommendation from one of the sales people at my local specialty liquor store, and I am very pleased with it. It's 101 proof, so it definitely needs a little bit of water or ice, but I like my Bourbon on the rocks most of the time anyway.

Jul 31, 2012
tristis in Spirits

Marie Duffuy Armagnac

I've had the Marie Duffau Napoleon as well and I quite enjoyed it, especially for the price. It has the added benefit of being the most widely available Armagnac where I live, which is in the SF Bay Area. They even carry it at BevMo, the giant corporate wine and spirits chain out here, although they charge $40, slightly more than the $37 I can get it for at my favorite spot, K&L Wine Merchants.

Has anyone tried their other bottlings? I know they at least make an Hors D'Age, aged at least 12 years, though I have not tried it myself.

Jun 06, 2012
tristis in Spirits

Cognac Recommendations

I'm no expert, but I've had the Marie Duffau Napoleon Bas Armagnac and I quite liked it. It's one of the most widely available Armagnacs in my area (SF Bay Area), even sold at liquor juggernaut BevMo, and it's also one of the most affordable. I haven't tried any of their other Armagnacs, though, as I don't have the money to spend on them. To my taste, I think the Marie Duffau Napoleon is a better value than a big name VSOP Cognac, which tend to be around the same price point, but obviously those have a quite different character than Armagnac, so it's maybe a little silly to compare them that way.

May 23, 2012
tristis in Spirits

Cocktails with ginger syrup

I picked this one up from a friend who worked at the restaurant at the Standard Hotel in NY. It's similar to a Moscow Mule, but much more delicious, and sometimes deceptively strong. This WSJ article attributes it to their bartender Cory Mason:

Penny Drop
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. ginger syrup
1 oz. lime juice
ginger beer (or ginger ale if you can't get ginger beer


Pour vodka, ginger syrup, and lime juice over ice. Stir. Top off with ginger beer. Enjoy.

Mar 09, 2012
tristis in Spirits

Found it! Hard to find ingredients and where to find them

To be honest, it's not something I've paid attention to when I'm there as I don't go very often and I'm usually looking for interesting spirits rather than bitters. Their website indicates, though, that they have at least a handful of interesting bitters in stock, certainly better than you'd find at BevMo. I think Cask, which you mentioned above, is the better choice for a wide bitters selection, however.

Mar 06, 2012
tristis in Spirits

Found it! Hard to find ingredients and where to find them

K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City and San Francisco has a pretty nice, well-curated spirits selection -- although I've only ever been to the Redwood City location. They also have pretty decent prices (for the area), and their website is fantastic, with their inventory available right down to the number of bottles in stock at each location.

Mar 02, 2012
tristis in Spirits

Martini Party

I'd just like to point out that if the ice "increases a drink's volume by 25 percent," then the melted ice only accounts for 20% of the final volume. Obviously the 25% number is a rough estimate anyway, and I have no reason to doubt you about Martinis taking a bit extra, but I'm very skeptical about the idea of melted ice taking up nearly a third of the drink, unless you're letting it sit for too long with the ice or you start with extremely warm liquor.

Dec 08, 2011
tristis in Spirits

Van selling Asian food at Stanford?

It's called NetAppetit. Thai food, sold buffet-style by weight. It's only there (on Santa Teresa St. in front of the Stanford Humanities Center) for like an hour from ~12-1 and if you go closer to 1 you risk them running out of many items. I love it, although mostly because it's cheap-ish and there isn't a lot of good food on the Stanford campus. Depending on how hungry I am, I generally make it out of there for $5-7, which is pretty good by local standards.