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The Big Crunch's Profile

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Luxardo Maraschino cherries not at all worth the price

But what if you want a cocktail? I mean, I love good bourbon, but I also love cocktails, and I don't think the pleasure of the former by itself should mean I can't use it to make tasty drinks.

Mar 14, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Barrel-aged cocktails

I agree completely.

Mar 09, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Which amaro for cocktails?

I don't know...I really like the saffron aspects in it, though, yeah...it doesn't get used all that often.

Feb 23, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Grey goose and Kirkland Signature brand vodka the same?!

Isn't vodka made from corn just white dog whiskey?

Feb 23, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Grey goose and Kirkland Signature brand vodka the same?!

"Vodka from a pot still (the same sort used for Cognac and Scotch whisky) will contain some of the delicate aromatics, congeners, and flavor elements of the crop from which it was produced"

That assumes, of course, that there actually are "delicate aromatics, congeners, and flavor elements of the crop from which it was produced" ;)

Feb 23, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

St Germain HELP please

Maybe there was some leakage of the St. Germain under the cap. That stuff is sugary enough that if it leaked and condensed, it could provide some serious glue-like resistance.

Feb 23, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Help me make a simple/tasty MEZCAL cocktail!

Damn...that looks interesting. I will definitely be making that in the near future.

Feb 23, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

how do these gins compare flavor-wise?

For a NEW gin drinker... Hmmm... Okay, there are two routes here, with one being going for the most traditional and juniper heavy and the other being, go for the lighter, sweeter, more citrusy gin. New Amsterdam is definitely in the latter while Gordon's is about as traditional a London Dry as you'll find. I'd go with Broker's first, since I love it, and it's cheap, and plentiful in my parts, but my next pick would be Gordon's, followed by Burnett's. Of course my favorite is Boodles, which is a great value, a classic London Dry, and probably doesn't use any nuts, but I'm just guessing about the last part so check for yourself.

Feb 23, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

The Long Island? Cocktail or Not?

"C'mon! It tastes like ice tea! :D"

That is alway what I find most amazing about the damn things...even when you roughly approximate the ratios, it still does taste like iced tea with lots of lemon. Granted, it tastes like the kind of iced tea you make from powder, or you buy pre-made (and NOT like the true sweetened iced tea I grew up on in eastern NC), but...yeah...it is nuts how such an oddball assortment of ingredients come together.

Feb 23, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

The Long Island? Cocktail or Not?

Yeah, but a lot of places basically do roughly 1 oz. or more of the white liquors, a slosh of triple sec, enough sour mix to almost reach the top, and a squirt of cola. In that case you're looking at 4 shots of 80 proof at least. I vaguely remember serving those things in pint glasses, so it could have been even more liquor when I made them...what can I say, I bartended at lousy bars in the mid-'90s and all the fruity shooters and high alcohol/high sugar long drinks were what I was taught to make :(

Feb 23, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

About passion fruit syrup and juice...

I was wondering if anyone with greater tiki knowledge could help me out. Many recipes, notably Hurricane and Zombie recipes, call for passion fruit juice, passion fruit syrup, or passion fruit nectar. My assumption is that the nectar/syrup is basically condensed and sweetened passion fruit juice. I can't find any nectar/syrup in DC so I'd have to order it, and I do know the BG Reynolds product is supposed to be good. I also don't think I could make any from scratch using real passion fruits since I've rarely seen them anywhere, including Whole Foods and numerous ethnic markets. However, there is a Brazilian market in Wheaton that carries passion fruit juice. So, would it be fair to assume that I could just make a 1:1 simple syrup with passion fruit juice and thus replicate passion fruit nectar/syrup?

Feb 13, 2015
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

Are you sure about that? I have two bottles and make Pisco Sours fairly frequently, and though I bought my bottles in MoCo, I'm pretty sure I've seen multiple bottles at Batch 13. I'm also fairly certain I've had pisco sours at several places in DC, including Ocopa and Rhumba Cafe (where I also had my first Mojito about a decade ago). Oh, and Rasika also has had pisco drinks on their menu for at least a couple of years.

Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

You know, I could do a decent job at pour counts, but even so, there is no way I could nail something like 2.25 ounces every time nor would I be able to consistently hit a quarter ounce (the pour is almost always heavy when it comes to smaller measures). Truth be told .75 ounces is also tough to nail and tends to go heavy. Of course, none of this matters that much if you're making overly sweet shooters or pouring highballs, but if you're making something like, oh, a Last Word or an Autumn Sweater (are you going to free pour the maple syrup), and you're off by even the slightest, you end up with a really unbalanced drink. I tend to think that people who knock jiggers have very little experience making drinks more complex than a rum and coke or a vodka "martini" with no vermouth. I know some people will disagree with me on this and also agree that a good bartender will be flawless in his pour count for any measure thrown at him, but I disagree. One insures consistency the other opens the door for any numbers of small but impactful variations. It's the equivalent of saying a good baker doesn't need measuring spoons or measuring cups and can eyeball, precisely and consistently, ingredients every time.

now what whiskey cocktails do i need to try...........

Amaro Nonino is pretty unique, IMO, but also really pricey. The base-liqueur is higher end, aged grappa, and the result is a somewhat rich, round, and brandy-ish mouthfeel and taste. It's also 70 proof (more than twice the Ramazotti or Averna) which seems like it would make a rather rough Manhattan.

Dec 20, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Rum that you can sip??

Ha! I have a glencairn in front of me right now with a nice dram of Zacapa 23 and a touch of water. It is perfection on this cold and windy night in DC. Looking over my bar, I had my choice of a few dozen Scotches and bourbons, but I'll take a fine rum over them most any time.

I've never drank that far up the FDC line, but despite its praise as a great bargain, I think the 7 year old is actually pretty bad.

Speaking of Zacapa, one ot's distant cousins, Boltran Solera 1893 is incredible, and for my money might actually be a bit better.

Dec 10, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Duke's Grocery in DC - Report

Well, in some sense it's a different class of burger. Shake Shack, for me, is the perfection of the simple fast food style burger. BGR is in that category of larger and supposedly fancier burgers. Duke's is obviously in that realm as well.

Duke's Grocery in DC - Report

The burger is $4.99, which is all I ever get. I suppose if you chow down on 1500 calories worth of fried food and sweet things there you could run up quite a tab, but I always limit myself to just the burger.

Duke's Grocery in DC - Report

I'll take Duke's burger over BGR any day of the week. I've enjoyed BGR's lamb burger in the past, but the last 3-4 times I've had a beef burger there I found it over-charred leading to an unpleasantly acrid flavor. That said, I think it's hard to beat Shake Shack.

Buying Cherry Liqueur or Kirsch in the area

A few things...

- Cheap kirsch (like Hiram Walker) is pretty awful stuff. Very rough with very little cherry flavor. The best option you'll likely be able to find is going to be Clear Creek's kirsch, or maybe St. George's, both of which go for about $50 a bottle. Genuine kirsch is expensive to produce, and the price reflects that cost. I've not tried the Trimbach's, but based on the price, it seems legit. You might try Paul's Liquor in Friendship Heights. Also, if Ace Beverage doesn't have it for you, then they can certainly get it for you. Batch 13 on 14th Street is another option as they carry a number of high-end and boutique bottles. Obviously call first.

- Cherry Grand Marnier isn't really a substitute since it's simply brandy that has been infused with flavor, as opposed to an eau de vie.

- Cheery Heering (which I think tastes a lot like NyQuil) also doesn't work as a substitute for kirsch since the flavor is radically different, and vice versa. Make sure the recipe is clear about which cherry liqueur is called for, and if it is Heering, you can find it at many MoCo liquor stores. Use their online product locator to find one near you.

- I wouldn't expect much out of Total Wine. Yes, they have a lot of volume, but it is mostly in regards to low-end spirits, beers and wines. Good kirsch? No, they won't have it. A plethora of bottles of flavored vodka? Yeah, they'd carry that.

Duke's Grocery in DC - Report

I found the lomito completo to be somewhat unpleasant. It's big, but was filled with VERY chewy beef. On the other hand, their catfish bahn mi was fantastic.

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

Shit, even the old location? That was really good pollo - I'd hate to think anyone would tamper with it.

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

Totally agree. Tropical Ice Cream seems to always have customers, even in the dead of winter! They really do have some unique flavors. Hell, occasionally they even have durian ice cream! I wouldn't say I'm an ice cream expert, but it is my favorite ice cream in the region...maybe ever.

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

For the past year I've been making it a habit to eat at Eden Center a couple of times a month and my favorite recent meals have been at Nha Trang. The place is a bit hard to find as it's in the interior corridors on the north end. They're well known for their spring rolls (nem nuong cuon) with barbecued pork and a strip of fried spring roll wrapped around a stalk of green onion. They also make an excellent and hard to find noodle dish called Mi Guang. In addition, they also do an excellent rendition of Shakey Beef. Also, unlike a lot of places at Eden Center, they take credit cards, but with a $10 minimum. Oh, and if you go there, get a fresh squeezed sugar cane juice.

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

I gotta try this place.

Your Favorite Ethnic Dives in DC Area?

I recently had Super Chicken in Falls Church for the first time and it is the only pollo I've had that rivals Pollo Rico, plus, the yuca at Super Chicken is terriffic. I'm not sure if the new location in Arlington is as good, but the hole-in-a-wall place in Falls Church produced terriffic chicken that had good flavor from the rub, a deeply roasted and lightly smoked component, and was plenty moist and juicy.

I went back to C&J in Silver Spring a few weeks back and was as unimpressed as ever. Yeah, it's juicy, but not crisp. Even worse, C&J's birds are flavorless. No smoky hints, no flavor from any sort of rub and/or marinade...the Giant in the same shopping complex likely has tastier chicken.

Proper martini glasses

The odd thing for me is that while I prefer a Martini in a coupe, I prefer a Manhattan in the conical "martini" glass. Go figure, eh?

Oct 26, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Proper martini glasses

As many of us have pointed out, no one seems to be advocating for a 2 oz. martini...okay, one ignorant bar manager seems to have been, but that's an aberration. With dilution, a proper Martini will be closer to 5 oz., unless of course the persona ordering or making it simply wants 2 oz. gin or vodka chilled while the bartender glances at a dusty bottle of Vermouth. At this point the cone glass that everyone thinks of as being a Martini glass is certainly the most associated glassware, but the coupe pre-dates it and for an up Martini was likely used for decades before the current art deco icon came into fashion. That said, the conical glass, for all its clumsiness, is indeed iconic, so while I may prefer a coupe, I can completely understand how the cone sort've "completes" the martini drinking experience for many people.

Oct 26, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

The Vesper Cocktail

That's not a bad idea. I've always stuck with the lemon peel, basically out of habit and tradition, and perhaps out of some allegiance to the Martini. But the Vesper really is a different cocktail altogether and the Lillet is at the heart of that difference, and orange and Lillet are really a better pairing than lemon and Lillet. I'm not an expert in the "new" gins, but my guess is that at least one of them must be pushing an orange forward citrus profile - I wonder how if using such a gin and adding the orange peel would be too much orange or would push it forward even further in an interesting and tasty direction.

Oct 11, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

best quality tequila for mixing

Yeah, I'll boo you for that. Cuervo tastes awful, and the Gold is a particularly bad concoction The color is a marketing gimic - they add caramel to give it the impression of being nicely aged, which it's not. Doing a few shots of Cuervo every now and then in college convinced me tequila was awful stuff that was only meant to b drunk under peer pressure. Discovering decent tequila in my early thirties completely changed my impression of the spirit.

As far as purity, I'm not sure what you mean. My lime juice for a margarita is pure because I squeeze it myself. Cointreau is not a distillate so I'm not sure how "purity" figures in, but I do know it's not adulterated with anything that is not Cointreau. The tiny "dash" of simple syrup I add is also "pure" sugar and purified water because I made that myself. So, yeah, my other ingredients are pure.

Lastly, I use tequila for a lot of drinks other than Margaritas, and as a result, I like having a good tequila that will not ruin those drinks but will instead have a fresh and dynamic agave flavor, rather than a cheap "frat party tequila shots" flavor.

The Vesper Cocktail

Your feelings are somewhat similar to mine in regards to the gin and vodka. It's not that I haven't enjoyed the handful of Vespers I've made, but the vodka seems unnecessary and I'd rather just have a Martini. That said, I do enjoy enjoy the Lillet in there. Funny, I've never thought of subbing in Lillet in a Martini - I think I'll try it tonight. FWIW, one of my favorite low-alcohol warm weather drinks is Lillet, on ice, in a rocks glass, topped with a splash of soda water with a large swath of orange peel. Low alcohol, light, and seriously refreshing. My mom is not a big drinker and prefers wine to spirits and cocktails, but a few years back when she visited my GF and I in DC I made her a Lillet cocktail and ever since she always requests one when she visits.

The Meehan book came out a few years ago, and I wonder what the availability of Cochi Americano was like back then. According to many, Cochi is a more accurate representation of Lillet before (supposedly) they changed their formula in the '80s. Perhaps Meehan didn't have easy enough access to it at the time to call for it in the PDT book, or perhaps he simply prefers Lillet. I also prefer Meehan's ratios in his version of the Vesper.

FWIW, the other great, and well known, Lillet cocktail out there is the Corpse Reviver No. 2.

Oct 07, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits