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The Big Crunch's Profile

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Jack Daniel's is not Bourbon.

This annoyingly "not-dead-yet" thread actually convinced me to buy a half-pint of old No.7 a couple of nights back, since I haven't tried the stuff in probably a decade. The verdict is that it's about as dull and unimpressive as I recall. Certainly not bad, but man, is it ever a one-dimensional and simplistic whiskey.

Apr 05, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Whistle Pig Rye

Not sure since I've never had Banks 5 nor a Jamaican pot still black rum, but to clarify, for me the bubble gum note is specific to the flavor you'd get from the old stick gum they'd include in baseball card packs, or, perhaps Bazooka Joe.

I think JMF and davis_sq_pro are right in that it seems most prominent in high-rye ryes, which is one of the reasons I tend to associate that flavor (which, again, I like) with better ryes. As far as it being strongly associated with Canadian ryes, I can see that because I find itin all the products JMF mentions, but I also find it in the Dickel rye which comes from Indiana.

I've never had Rittenhouse 21, but I don't notice it very much in plain Rittenhouse, though it's honestly been a looong time since I sampled that stuff straight since I tend to use always use it in cocktails. I think I'll go back and give it a sample neat either tonight or tomorrow. I also don't get much of it in the Sazerac, which I do like, though my tasting notes for Sazerac mention mint and white pepper, which is in the same general flavor region.

Mar 28, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Trying to get into rum...

Yarm's site is similar for me. I've made dozens of drinks from cocktailvirgin, and when I make things from other books and sites, I almost always check their site to see what they have to say about it. I've even made specific booze purchases based on his site (Lustao oloroso and amontillado a few days ago actually). Hell, I've even adopted some of his language in my own notes that I make about most of the cocktails I make. The other day I was telling my GF how "the maraschino really comes out on the swallow" when describing a terrific drink at the Nomad in NYC and she just looked at me like I was crazy, but that's honestly one of the ways I go about looking for and describing tastes in a drink now. It's wonderful to have some of the online cocktail resources available to us in the 21st century, ain't it? :)

Mar 25, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Trying to get into rum...

Thanks for posting the links to those - they sound great and I can't wait to try them! EvergreenDan won't be happy with me for saying this, but I don't use Kindredcocktails nearly enough. He's created a great resource for drinks and these are two that will definitely bring it back to my radar when I'm thinking about what to make on a given night.

Mar 24, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits
1

Trying to get into rum...

For cocktails, I think choosing to buy rum purely based on the price is missing the point. Rum varies so wildly in flavor (much like Scotch) that if you're really serious about rum cocktails you'll want to buy according to flavor profile. I think that in general, a good white rum (I use Cruzan aged white, less than $20 a handle) and a decent darker Jamaican rum (maybe Appleton 12) would take care of most of your basic needs. However, as you get more into it, you'll find that certain drinks really shine with a rhum agricole or that a Demerara noticeably changes a drink. Obviously price can be a challenge depending on how much you care to spend, but making it your main criteria for buying rums is a bit of a mistake IMO.

As far as the OP's original post... Those are sort've an odd combo of bottles with which to start learning about rum, and I wouldn't use either in a daiquiri. For the Brabancourt, I'd suggest drinking it neat and watered down to taste, or over an ice cube. I've also had some good results subbing it in for brandy in a brandy crusta.

Mar 24, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Whistle Pig Rye

I actually think of that "bubble gum note" as being one of the trademark flavors of a good rye.

Mar 23, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Whistle Pig Rye

Yeah, Sazerac is a good one.

I haven't had the Rendezvous or Willet. I had a glass of the FEW rye a while back and it wasn't all that bad. I was expecting it to be awful as my friend Clay hated it, but I thought it was decent, though needed a bit more aging. I wouldn't buy a bottle, but, again, not awful. I also had a few glasses of Templeton last week for the first time and thought it was quite good - perhaps not worth the price, but really quite nice and a good representation of the style.

Mar 23, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Amer Nouvelle? Amer Picon?

FWIW, here's a reduced version of Jamie's recipe from Imbibe.

Amer Replica
10 oz. Ramazzotti Amaro
7 oz. orange tincture*
2 oz. Stirring Blood Orange bitters

Combine the ingredients in a jar and shake gently to mix. The amer is ready to use right away, but its flavor will improve with age.

*For the orange tincture, infuse 1 oz. dried orange peel in 1 cup of high-proof vodka for two months, shaking daily.

Mar 23, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Trying to get into rum...

You can call any drink anything you want, but there is a standard recipe for a Mai Tai, and it doesn't look a thing like that. Not saying you're doesn't look good, but it's like some saying they're going to make cheesesteak, but using roast turkey, sliced tomatoes, dijonaise, and wilted spinach between two pieces of sourdough.

Mar 21, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Whistle Pig Rye

Each to their own, but I gotta say, I've gone through several bottles of Bulleit Rye and currently have a bottle of Dickel rye half finished in the home bar and Whistlepig is far better than both of them. Yeah, it might be over-priced, but it is a truly exceptional rye.

For a cheaper price, Jefferson's is quite similar and if I'm not mistaken, is supposed to be sourced from the same Canadian stocks as Whistlepig.

Mar 21, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Amer Nouvelle? Amer Picon?

Interesting... This I might like to try.

Mar 21, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Amer Nouvelle? Amer Picon?

That's kind of what I was wondering, as well as the expense of buying a bottle of blood orange bitters, high-proof vodka, and and a bottle of ramazotti.

Mar 21, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Amer Nouvelle? Amer Picon?

Anyone have the link to the thread with Yarm's corrections? I've been searching both through Google and on chowhounds' own site and am finding nothing. I'm thinking I may give this homemade Amer Picon a go in the next week or so.

Mar 20, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

Interestingly enough, I have some detailed notes I made about a year ago comparing a six-month old bottle of Dolin Dry with a freshly opened bottle :) The old bottle had been refrigerated and vacu-sealed after each use, though never decanted to a smaller glass or sealed using gas preservative.

Appearance is the same, completely clear, and a swirl in a Glencairn produces the same results, basically no ring and a lot of tiny clinging droplets. The new vermouth has a crisp, sweet, floral and herbal nose with hints of light thyme, fresh turmeric, a touch of allspice, some lavender, honeysuckle and muscat wine. Taste is light, crisp and very clean. The best description would be a decent dessert wine, sweetened, with a noticeably boozier kick to the flavor profile. Finish is short, clean, and mildly dry with lingering sweet honeysuckle, pear, fresh thyme, and general floral notes. It’s quite good and would be excellent served chilled, over ice, or on the rocks with a bit of soda and twist of orange or lemon, in order to convert a Vermouth hater.

The six month old has a noticeably weaker nose, with some slightly stale and musty odors and perhaps just a slight metallic note. That said, there is a strong underlying similarity in terms of the base wine and the overall herbal impression. Furthermore, there are no “off” odors, like vinegar, screaming out from the glass, nor are the "stale" notes terribly strong or dominant. The nose on the six-month old is by no means an unpleasant aroma; really, it’s basically just weaker, less dynamic, slightly staler, and as such, a tad less good...though still quite good. The taste is somewhat similar. There are no off notes of vinegar or anything truly repulsive. The biggest difference is that there is no real depth of flavor, the sweetness is stronger and more generalized, and the whole thing feels a bit flabby. The finish is not as dry, the alcohol notes rougher, and the sweetness stronger and less complex and refined. All that said, it’s not bad, and IMO it could certainly be used in a cocktail without any real damage. Would the fresher Dolin be a step up? Sure, certainly for some cocktails. I made a round of martinis (2.5 oz of gin to .75 oz vermouth) a few weeks back using the old Dolin and they were fine. I do think the more pronounced and unrefined sweetness made a slight difference, but it was a real measure of degrees, and overall, they were still damn fine martinis that got very good reviews from my guest whose favorite drink is a martini.

Mar 12, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits
1

New BBQ place in North Bethesda / Rockville

So I can't get cheese on my burger there? ;-P

Just speculating, but assuming you go all beef, a kosher barbecue joint might be one of the easiest types of traditionally non-kosher restaurants to set up as kosher, and Rockville certainly has a large enough Jewish population to make it a potentially successful concept, assuming of course that the BBQ is good.

Mar 11, 2014
The Big Crunch in Washington DC & Baltimore

Highest and Lowest State Liquor Taxes - I NEED TO MOVE!!!

Just in browsing the prices at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets (http://www.liquorandwineoutlets.com/) the prices aren't any cheaper than I can find in Bethesda (and in some cases are higher), and the selection for the more higher end and obscure stuff (imported rums, tequilas, higher-end sherry, digestiffs and amaros, small batch and single barrel bourbon, etc..) are weak to non-existent. Sort've a shame since I was going to be up in Maine for a week this summer and would be driving through NH on the way up from my GF's parent's place in RI.

Mar 06, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Highest and Lowest State Liquor Taxes - I NEED TO MOVE!!!

I've seen that one before - it's an interesting map. Like I've said, at least in MD, the county-by-county difference can be huge. Just off the top of my head, a bottle of Elijah Craig goes for around $28-$30 in most stores in Prince George's County but sells for $20.65 in Montgomery County. DC is definitely pricey for liquor, but beer is actually cheaper in DC than any of the surrounding counties, as far as I can tell.

Mar 05, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

New BBQ place in North Bethesda / Rockville

In terms of the pig, it looks like it's defiantly Texas beef BBQ, but my understanding is that a truly kosher restaurant has a few more hurdles to jump.

In general I don't trust BBQ joints that serve burgers, but then again, this is the DC area, so expectations about BBQ places should both be adjusted and lowered.

Mar 05, 2014
The Big Crunch in Washington DC & Baltimore

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

Why shaken? It takes the crystal clarity and turns it more cloudy. Mouthfeel is less smooth and over dilution is far more likely.

Mar 03, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

One of the issues with the bitters is that post-Prohibition, orange bitters basically disappeared in the US. Angostura bitters were about all you could find and they have no place in a Martini. It really wasn't until the 21st century (and particularly the last 4-5 years) that they were able to be commonly found, if not in a liquor store, then online.

I might be wrong, but I think the Martini on the rocks was still a quite popular way of ordering the drink well into the '80s.

Feb 28, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

Three ingredients if you use orange bitters ;)

But yeah, I agree. One of the many reasons they are one of the cocktails I most commonly make around the house is that it's just so simple. No need to take down lots of bottles, no need to juice fresh fruits (and clean up the juicer and strainer) and no shaking means no need to wash the shaker. Such a simple cocktail, and yet...well...this thread.

Feb 28, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

Weird, that was a thing in Atlanta back in the late '90s when I used to bartend down there. Those were dark days for mixing drinks. Of course I was 22 and didn't know any better, but looking back, it was a lot super sweet shooters and if you so much as touched a bottle of vermouth you'd get some pretty evil looks, at least at the places I worked at...oh, and everyone wanted their martinis dirty. It's amazing we had enough olive brine to go around at some of the brunch shifts I worked! After getting out of bartending around 2000, it's perhaps unsurprising that it took me nearly ten years to discover the joy of properly made cocktails.

Feb 26, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

JMF, do you have firm knowledge about when, and perhaps why, the olive came into the picture? I've read Wondrich's "Imbibe", and Lowell Edmunds' "Martini, Straight Up", as well as a good dozen other booze history books, and I don't recall any of them being able to nail down a precise time when the olive entered the drink, other than saying it was likely sometime in the '20s or '30s. Given the fact that no other classic drink calls for an olive garnish (and that, at least IMO, it tastes awful with gin and vermouth), it's always seemed odd that an olive should have found it's way into the martini.

Feb 26, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Discovering Bourbon

I should ask him about that last one. It's odd because I've always known Clay to be quite fond of High West stuff, but then again, sometimes when you sit down and really critically think about a whiskey, you can find it isn't as great as you've generally thought, or, conversely, it was far better than you recalled it being. Makers Mark is actually a good example for me - it wasn't until about a month ago that I sat down and really focused on a pour of Makers mark, and I was surprised how much I liked it. It's not that I didn't like it before, but more that it has been sort of a fall back whiskey for me for years and years and years, usually something I casually order at a bar, or sip over ice at parties, and don't really think much about. Obviously I like the stuff, but I'd never really thought about it critically, more as something that was good and almost always available at a party or bar.

Feb 25, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

You've got a point JMF, and I think I over-generalized. The fact that this thread was about how hard it is to find a bartender who makes a decent martini probably played too much of a role in my comment. There will probably always be many more bad bartenders than good bartenders, but the revived interest in cocktails over the last 6-8 years and renewed interest in high quality spirits has undoubtedly increased the odds of finding good bar programs and knowledgeable and skilled bartenders, certainly in DC and no doubt nation-wide as well.

Feb 24, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

I read your post through quite thoroughly, which is, in part, why I said, "you should get what you want at a bar." However, I also hate the fact that you have to order a "martini" in order to get a chilled shot of vodka, up, in a cocktail glass, with some olives. It seems like you should be able to stipulate that you want a cold shot of vodka, up, in a cocktail glass, with a few olives, and not have an issue with it - as has been noted, good bartenders are becoming harder to find. Just curious, why do you care what kind of glass you are served your shot (actually, it should be closer to 2 oz.) of vodka? Why the big difference between some olives floating in a shot of chilled vodka in a rocks glass and the same thing in a "cocktail" glass?

Feb 23, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

Yeah, which is cool. At then end of the day, you should get what you want at a bar. Still, it should be noted, the guy does not like martinis, he likes "chilled stolli, up, with olives." Honestly, when I hear someone having such a hard time ordering such a simple beverage (which they enjoy) I think I should get back into bar tending.

Feb 23, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

What if I ordered Steak Diane but said I would prefer it be served with fish and no sauce? That's what I think of someone who orders a vodka martini with no vermouth. It's like someone who says, "I'd like a Mai, but with no orgeat or citrus liqueur and please sub in brandy for the rum."

Ummmmmm...that's not a Mai Tai, so why is a martini with just chilled vodka and a toothpick with a coupe olives a martini?

Feb 23, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

Actually, I tend to pour Martinis into coupes, so the glass isn't quite the issue. As a matter of history, the "martini" glass's origin is hard to pin down , but is probably from the late twenties, at which point the martini had been around for decades. Also, I don't like cold gin served straight, and believe almost all cocktails need a degree of dilution...so, no cold undiluted gin or vodka for me.

Here's the thing.., Let's say a bourbon drinker says he loves Manhattans, but only with no bitters or vermouth. Does he really like Manhattans or cold bourbon? Same with people who "love" Martinis...so long as they have no bitters or vermouth.

Feb 23, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits
1

Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

Years ago I bought a bottle of Fees and a bottle of Regans. To my palate and nose, Fees was the more sweet and florally orange, whereas Regans was the more herbally complex and bitter. After using them as stand-alones for a while, I combined them, after reading that JIm Meehan did the same thing at PDT, and that combo has basically been my orange bitters ever since. I picked up a bottle of Angostura orange last year, mostly out of curiosity and because it was so cheap, and I'll be damned if it is not REALLY close to my equal mix of Fee and Regans. Once I run out of my Fees/Reagan blend I'll probably just stick with the very affordable Angostura.

Jaba, glad to hear you've found the magic formula for enjoying a martini. It was the same thing with me. I hated the things for decades because on the rare occasions I ever sampled one, it was basically a cocktail glass of cold gin with a few olives in it. To this day I have no idea how anyone could find salty gin with olives to be anything other than revolting. I read Bitters, by Brad Parsons, a few years back when I was just getting into cocktails. His Martini recipe sounded different enough from what I had previously sampled that I tried it, and voila...all of a sudden I found out I loved martinis, so long as it's a well-made martini and not a glass of cold salty gin.

Feb 21, 2014
The Big Crunch in Spirits
1