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The Big Crunch's Profile

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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

Proper martini glasses

Water dilution alone will be close to, or more than, 2 oz. I totally agree about smaller glasses.

Oct 03, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Proper martini glasses

A real Martini is not supposed to be 2 oz. That's just insanely incorrect. I've got at least a dozen cocktail books on my shelves, including Lowell Edmund's classic history of the Martini, and NONE of them suggest a recipe that would come to 2 oz. If she's teaching that at her school, then I don't have a particularly high opinion of it :(

Oct 03, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

best quality tequila for mixing

Agreed on both counts. I don't use a lot of silver tequila, but Espolon has been my go-to for my home bar for the last year.

Sep 17, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits
1

The Boulevardier

I too prefer rye, or at least a rye heavy bourbon. The biggest trick I've found to making a Boulavardier shine is using Carpano for the vermouth. As a whole, I'm less enamored of the stuff than many folks on these boards. I think Carpano can both unpleasantly overtake and radically change the flavor of a drink far too easily for it to be a recommended "go-to" Italian vermouth. However, in the right drink it can really transform and elevate a drink and the Boulavardier is probably the best example I can think of where that happens.

Sep 17, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

The Boulevardier

Gonna have to agree with EvergreenDan. Negroni served over a single large ice cube is the way to IMO. I think the slow dilution helps, plus, a Negroni is best when cold. Served up it can warm too easily, but over a large ice cube the dilution is slow and the drink stays cold.

Sep 17, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

I'll try with my ice, but I am still sure that there will be a lot more water in a two minute stir than a 35-40 second stir. As has also been mentioned, it also depends on the ice. The thin stuff from an ice machine that sits in most bartenders' bins melts faster than the large pieces of long frozen, hard ice cubes in most home refrigerators.

Also, I do use a pretty thin tin. I find it's easier get on and off the mixing glass. Besides, it's got sentimental value - I've had it since the '90s and used it in three different bars. I had two others like it at the time but they have been lost and scattered over the years :(

Sep 11, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

Hah! Yet another reason to dislike Cook's Illustrated, I subscribed for about three years and tried at least a dozen of their recipes. None were terribly outstanding. Furthermore, all of them basically began by saying, "Here's a recipe. It's ALWAYS done wrong. We found the perfect way to cook it." In most cases I had cooked better versions of the same recipe in the past. Two minutes of stirring? Yeah, that would be very "smooth"....because it would be mostly melted ice! Eliminating bitter gin flavors? How about eliminating the flavor of the gin entirely?

I also agree about shaking. It overly dilutes.

Sep 10, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

It might be fine for a Martini but woe be unto the soul of the person who stirs a Remember The Maine counter-clockwise :(

Sep 08, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

This is one of several reasons why I almost never order a Martini in a bar.

Sep 07, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

A Question About Chilling A Martini Glass

Honestly, you won't find many places that use glass chillers. Even at many of the better cocktail bars in the DC area they still stick with the ice and water thing to chill a glass. Chillers take up space and aren't cheap, and often the cost-benefit analysis comes down on the side of it not being worth it for most places, even places with very good bar programs.

Sep 07, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

What types of restaurants does DC need now?

Yeah, I suppose I should have been more specific. Gaithersburg is out there, and seems a bit of a food desert. I was thinking more along the lines of Arlington/Falls church, Rockville, Wheaton, and to some degree, Alexandria. Those places all have many options for good, well priced food.

I really do miss being so close to Wheaton - delicious and cheap Chinese food at several places, some of the best and most affordable Thai food in the area, delicious and cheap Korean soups and stews at H Mart, Max's Kosher, Pollo Rico, bahn mis at Saigonese, Seoul Food's bibimbap bowls, Peruvian food at Asi Es Mi Tierra, excellent Ramen at Ren's Ramen, etc...

What types of restaurants does DC need now?

I'm not so sure I buy that analogy. There are things I miss in terms of food that I greatly enjoyed when living in Silver Spring, while there are things that I also greatly enjoy living in DC that I didn't have such easy access to while in Silver Spring.

What types of restaurants does DC need now?

Good, affordable Indian places. Several outlets of Pollo Rico (there can never be enough opportunities to eat Pollo Rico). Good, affordable Vietnamese places. Granted the suburbs nicely cover these areas, but we're lacking them in DC proper.

I usually grouse about BBQ, but honestly, Kangaroo Boxing Club, DCity Smokehouse, and (surprisingly) Fat Pete's have all really impressed me in the last couple of months. Mr. P's serves excellent ribs on the weekend from his truck in Bloomingdale and when they aren't being shut down for vermin infestation, Hill Country makes decent (albeit inconsistent and over-priced) BBQ. I wouldn't call us a BBQ town, but I think we can finally say we have more than a couple of really good places for tender, flavorful, smoked meats.