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September 2015

More Booze, Less Meth

No, the title isn't a modern adaptation of the old Miller Lite beer ad (for you younger readers, the slogan was Tastes Great, Less Filling).  It is my concise summary of a recent study from the University of Louisville. As described in a Washington Post article (click here to read it), dry counties in Kentucky had much higher rates of methamphetamine related crimes and lab seizures than moist or wet counties.  What's a moist county?  It is where the county only allows alcohol sales in certain areas.

Besides the tragic human and financial costs associated with meth, what really amazes me about this study is this -- residents of a state (ok, technically a commonwealth) that is the source of so much great bourbon can't purchase the product legally.  Talk about breaking bad.

The situation depicted in the study isn't just a Kentucky thing.  For example, the article describes a prior study showing drug related deaths decreased in Texas counties that changed from dry to wet.  I'm not calling for unregulated alcohol sales and irresponsible drinking.  Far from it.  To paraphrase a quote in the article, I'm just saying that prohibiting alcohol can lead to much worse things.  So everyone say it together -- more booze, less meth!

Fall Into Fall -- The Third Season

Today is the autumnal equinox (from the Latin for equal night), so after today the days get shorter and the nights get longer.   Earlier this month I promised to post two bourbon cocktails in honor of National Bourbon Heritage Month.  The first was the Kentucky Sunshine, and the Third Season is the second.  Celebrating fall with a Third Season, one of my original creations, is appropriate, timely, and tasty.

Third Season2.25 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces Lupo mirtillocello (blueberry liqueur)
2 dashes plum and root beer bitters from Bittered Sling
or 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with passion and grace as if you're conducting Vivaldi's Four Seasons (do I really need to tell you which one?), and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

If you don't want to bother making mirtillocello, my SWAG (sophisticated wild ass guess) is that you can substitute creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur, also used in cocktails such as the Bourbon Renaissance) for it.  Which bitters you use will make a difference.  While I prefer to use Bittered Sling's product for the Third Season, I recognize that it's much easier to get your hands on Angostura bitters.

Will the Third Season get you to third base with the one you love?  I make no guarantees and certainly don't want to know your answer.  Just don't have too much, as this powerful autumunal cocktail might throw off your autumnal equilibrium.

What's The Over/Under On Your Drink?

I'm not talking about a bet you make at a bar, a sports book, or a bar near a sports book.  I'm talking about the thing underneath your drink -- the coaster.

CoastersAs I learned in this article from Tales Of The Cocktail (click here), originally the coaster went over the drink in order to keep things out of it.  As time went by the placement and purpose of coasters changed.  Now they go under your drink and serve as in your face (literally, if you've had too much) marketing material. Unfortunately there are still good reasons why you might want to cover your unattended drink, e.g. roofies also known as Rohypnol (ladies in particular -- please Google this if you don't already know what it is).  So a coaster can be decorative and protective.

Thanks to my lovely wife for telling me about the article.  And thank her when you win a bar bet based on this new esoteric knowledge.

Blueberry Booze -- Mirtillocello

This is not something you put in breakfast cereal.  Let me rephrase -- you could put it in cereal, but you really shouldn't.

So what is mirtillocello?  Mirtillo is the Italian word for blueberry, and mirtillocello is the newest addition to my alcoholic string section of cellos.  Blueberry cello is stunningly easy to make.  The process is exactly the same as I used to make Lupo lamponecello (raspberry liqueur).

In Cellos We Trust
In Cellos We Trust.

Stage One --Put 18 ounces of blueberries (preferably organic) in a container with 750 milliliters of 190 proof grain alcohol (I used Everclear).  Wait five to seven days.

Stage Two -- make super simple syrup with three cups of water and two and a quarter cups of sugar.  Wait until it cools to room temperature.  Strain the blueberries from the Stage One mixture and combine with the super simple syrup.   Store in a cool, dark place for four weeks.

Stage Three -- enjoy, perhaps while listening to an appropriately themed song such as Blueberry Hill (go for the versions by Fats Domino or Louis Armstrong).

Be careful if you have one of these cellos.  As my friend Steve, a member of the Society of Unrepentant Drinkers, recently told me: "I didn't think they were strong ..... until I tried to stand up."  I like to think my cellos are like me -- may not look like much, but hits hard.

Rye -- The Comeback Kid Of American Liquor

My favorite ryes for cocktails include Bulleit (with cufflinks), Willett, and Rittenhouse.

Rye whiskey has a long history in the United States.  As Carrie Allan writes in her excellent article (click here to read it), currently we're in a renaissance of the spirit that is intertwined with the country's history. George Washington distilled it at Mount Vernon, it effectively was the whiskey in the Whiskey Rebellion, and Prohibition damn near killed it. 

I'm all for the renewed interest in rye.  To me it is spicier and packs a more overt punch than bourbon.  Like other spirits, there are variations, e.g. Allan discusses the difference between the Maryland and Pennsylvania styles.   Rye is not for everyone, especially if you prefer your whiskey neat or on the rocks.  For example, my friends Chuck and Tom love bourbon, but they don't care for rye.  I guess that leaves more for me.

Rye is the base spirit of a number of cocktails in the Wulf Cocktail Den.  If you're interested in rye (if you've read this far, you probably are), click the rye category tab on the right and see what catches your eye.  It's fine if more than one piques your curiosity. Whatever you decide to drink, think what Homer Simpson might say about the renaissance of rye: "Whoohoo!  In your face Prohibition!"

A Bright Beacon Of Bourbon -- The Kentucky Sunshine

I promised to post two bourbon cocktails this month because September is National Bourbon Heritage Month. So here we go ...... the Kentucky Sunshine comes from Marvin Allen, a respected bartender at the Carousel Bar in New Orleans.  I discovered this drink while reading his book Magic In A Shaker.

I can see clearly now.
I can see clearly now.

2 ounces bourbon (you're using some from Kentucky, right?)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
.5 ounces agave syrup or nectar
1 egg white
3-4 dashes chocolate bitters (I used Bittered Sling)

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker without ice, shake with the energy of a solar flare, add ice, shake again, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Finding agave syrup or nectar shouldn't be hard.  I got some at Trader Joe's.  Finding the bitters could be tough.  They are not indispensable to the drink, but they will enhance it.

Doesn't this combination of ingredients seem bizarre?  I certainly thought so when I read the recipe.  However, having met Marvin Allen, I put my liver in the hands of a cocktail magician.  Regardless of what the weather is really like,  in the words from the Jimmy Cliff tune, once you have this cocktail it will be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day (now the photo caption makes sense, doesn't it?).

Celebrating A Real American Liquor

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month.  In its honor I will post two bourbon cocktail recipes this month.  One is an original creation, and the other is the product of a great bartender and author.  Stay tuned for details ......

Here's a quick refresher about bourbon -- all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon.  Only the United States can make bourbon. Although most bourbon on the market does come from Kentucky, it can come from anywhere in the United States as long as its grain mixture contains at least 51% corn and it ages for at least two years in new charred oak barrels.

Now that you've read through this legal and technical stuff, you've earned yourself a bourbon or two.  If you'd like some ideas, click the bourbon categories link on the right.  Want a classic?  Can't go wrong with a Manhattan.  Are you a 007 fan like me?  A Pussycat will make you think you have a license to kill.  Are you a Francophile?  Say bonjour to a Bourbon Renaissance.  Think you're a smooth criminal?  Pull an Inside Job.  Want to honor the U.S. of A?  Have some Pride and Joy as you salute the RWB.   The possibilities are endless, at least until you run out of bourbon.

All of this typing is making me thirsty.  Time to go to the liquor cabinet ....