Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shaken vs. Stirred

We all know 007 likes his Vodka Martinis "shaken, not stirred," but does it really make a difference? This intrepid drinker decided to find out. Plus, it was feeling like an at-least-two-martinis kind of night anyway.

First, nomenclature: I'm of the opinion that simply saying "Martini" implies the use of gin. To use vodka, you should stipulate a "vodka martini." Please don't say "vodkatini." Like, ever. Time was, you called it a Kangaroo, but that's gone the way of unironically wearing a fedora.

Second, recipe. I used Gordon's vodka ("Smoothest! Most Mixable!") and chose a twist of lemon peel for the garnish as opposed to an olive. I figured the olive brine might overpower any subtleties in the tastes of the two methods, so opted for something more delicate.

I did the very dry, "in-and-out" style, with dry vermouth poured over ice in the shaker, stirred, then dumped. This means that only whatever vermouth stuck to the ice and shaker is what ends up in the drink. Then, add 4oz vodka, shake/stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist and squeeze lemon peel over drink, then toss in.

I decided to do shaken first, then stirred. Call it alphabetical.

Visually, not too different. Shaken actually looks a tiny bit clearer, which was surprising.

The lemon oil provides a nice aroma that floats over the drink, but doesn't inform the taste much.

Taste-wise, it's kind of amazing how pronounced the difference was:

The shaken martini is thicker, much like vodka stored in the freezer. While the shaking does make it colder, I almost feel like the resulting thickness of the liquor makes it less refreshing, almost milky. The "edge" of the alcohol is well-softened, though, and the vodka has the faintest taste of the grain it began life as long ago.

The stirred martini is more fluid and water-like, much lighter on the tongue. The liquor maintains a bit of its harshness, making for a very dry drink.

So, for my money, I have decided, all due to respect Mr. Bond, I prefer my "See-Thrus" to be stirred. The chill is adequate, and the crisp dryness of the liquor is maintained, without any of the viscosity that I found off-putting in the shaken version.

So, if you need something super-dry to put a lip over this sweltering summer, Go Stirred!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Capsaicin America

Greetings drinkers!

Over the long weekend, I decided (aka, caved to Mrs. Brew Dude's pleading) to brew another batch of the much-loved Chile Beer.

I started out with a wheat beer base: 4 pounds base malt with 1 pound white wheat malt. Now, I have been kind of lazy with the brewing (and blogging) so the ingredients I had weren't the freshest ever, but they had been stored in airtight containers. Also, the heat from the peppers will be the most apparent flavor, anyway. But time will tell if this is as well-received as other iterations of the style.

Because of the old ingredients, I decided to mash for 2 hours as opposed to the usual 90 minutes I utilize with my grain bag technique:

I used 1 oz cluster and 1 oz simcoe hops for bittering and flavoring, respectively. Although, again, the real star of the show is the peppers:

Mrs. Brew Dude roasted them, sweated them, and then removed the stems and skins. We left the seeds for additional heat. In all, we had four green jalapeƱos and one little red guy, I forget what they're called.

I christened the beer Capsaicin America, after the active ingredient in chile peppers and everyone's favorite patriotic superhero (in honor of Memorial Day). He should be knocking around Red Skulls in a month's time. Check back for taste notes!

Meantime, should the swampy summer prove too much for your Coronas and Cuba Libres, enjoy my new favorite cocktail: The Gin Rickey

1-2 healthy lime wedges
2-3 oz Gin
Club soda to taste

Squeeze the lime over a bunch of ice and toss in the shells, add the Gin and top with club soda or seltzer. Allegedly invented in DC, and it sure does the trick when you need a patio cooler during a summer evening in our fair city. And no sugar, the lightness is key to the refreshment factor.

Happy imbibing!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Worst Beer in the World

Poking around the ol' Intertron today, I came across this little gem: The Nine Worst Beers in the World and it got me thinking: I haven't put up a blog post in a long-ass time.

So here it is, my ones of readers: my own little follow-up list of the worst beers the world of brewing has to offer.

5. and 4. Heineken and Stella (bottled)

Anyone who drinks an import out of a green bottle does not really like beer. I firmly believe that people who order one of these at a bar really just want a Bud or Miller, but are worried about how that might look. You want a pale lager! Order the cheaper, non-skunky variety and own it, man! Now, Stella on tap has a certain charm on a hot day, but its price as compared to its (mostly) American cousins renders the point moot.

3. Lagunitas Pale Ale

As I've mentioned before, I can deal with hoppy as long as it's balanced with malt. Some brews are better at this than others. Now, I haven't given Lagunitas another shot, and I would hate to begrudge them an off batch, so I will seek this one out again. But for now, grass clipping beer = no.

2. Anything N/A

Should be pretty obvious.

1. Natty Light

Ahhh, college. Ten dollars a case just makes good financial sense, right? Merciful heavens, the things we put ourselves through for a buzz. The taste is akin to the water left over from making a bowl of rice, with a touch of beer coloring and some fizz. If you are over 21 and have purchased this willingly and unironically, when you had other options, I... I... I just can't fathom this situation. Take the tiniest of steps up and get the Ice: at least it has an appreciable amount of alcohol in it.

True story: I went to a beer pong party (or Beirut for the tightasses out there) and brought a case of Milwaukee's Best Light, or Beast, in the parlance (just as cheap as Natty but actually tastes like beer). The "host" refused my generous offering, saying that he would not be partaking and made sure to fill his own cups with his precious Natty Light. Poor fool, If it's good enough for my grandfather, it's good enough for you!

One final note: Any of the cheaps (PBR, Schlitz, Strohs, Old Style, Hamms, High Life, etc.) taste better with a gulp of something strong, brown, and from Kentucky. Use this information wisely!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Mansion on O Street

We went here for a friend's birthday party last night. Lots of fun. $50 for a buffet dinner and bottomless cocktail until 8.

The great thing about the place is that it's like 3 rowhouses remodeled into a hotel, with crazy theme rooms that you can wander in and out of (so long as no one is booked in them).
Also, the place is stuffed with packrat-grandmother levels of knick-knacks, which are all available for purchase, from a 50 cent button to a $15,000 antique couch.

The coolest thing, though, is the secret passageways. Down in the kitchen, there is normal-looking spice rack.

But it opens to reveal a sizable wine cellar!

I gotta get me one of those...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sure, Call it a Comeback

Hello to my fives of readers. It's been a long while since the last update, so I'll hit you with some beerology.

During the Great Blizzard of 2009, Mrs. Brew Dude and I were snowed in, so we thought "Why not make some beer?"

We had ingredients for a brown ale. I am great lover of Newcastle Brown, and something sweet and rich seemd like it would really hit the spot during the unforgiving DC winter.

I used twice the recommended amount of chocolate malt in the mash for this batch, mostly because I had a few ounces left over and did not forsee needing it for a different batch in the near future. But also, hey, I like chocolate.

I used big bowl-fulls of snow scooped off our windowsills to help chill the wort after the long boil. No actual snow went into the beer, but we feel it helped enough for the batch to be dubbed "Blizzard Brown."

We popped a few last weekend and it is very chocolately, but the typical ale tartness kind of fights against the chocolate smoothness. Hopefully that will balance out with age. Had I the means (ie, room and patience), I might try the same grain bill but instead make it as a lager rather than an ale.

You'll forgive me if I try to widen the scope of these here e-pages, but I have somewhat recently began to branch out, drinking-wise. I used to swear off most liquor, due two reasons:

1. At a bar, you always know what you're getting with a beer. With a cocktail, it is woefully easy to get underpoured and you're left with nothing but rotting teeth and your own, painfully sober thoughts.

2. I had a bad experience in college. Let's just leave that one there.

But I have been coming around to the "cocktail craze" and have even taken to ordering some straight bourbon on the rocks.

My favorite of the moment is Knob Creek, from the Small Batch collection of Jim Beam distilleries. It's smoky, with hints of caramel and vanilla, and REALLY relaxing at 100 proof.

I'm looking to expand my bourbon vocabulary, as well as learning about all the other previously unthinkable drinkables our fair city has to offer. Enjoy responsibly!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Anybody remember 9-9-99?

As you know, today is 09/09/09. As a species, we seem to like neat little groups and patterns, especially those looking to fill space on internet blogs (scoff).

But amid the e-revelry for 9³, I found myself thinking about 09/09/99, and how different my life was back then.

In the days leading up to 09/09/99, some of the Y2K alarmists were calling for a "mini" Y2K, because the computers would apparently go crazy seeing all those 9s in one place.

The word "blog" had yet to enter my consciousness, Twitter wasn't even a gleam in someone's eye, and Social Networking as a concept was in it's infancy with AOL Profiles and the real cutting edgers on LiveJournal.

I was a sophomore in high school, and was given a fairly lengthy homework assignment for my World History class. Some of my fellow classmates complained, since it would severely curtail they're viewing of the MTV Video Music Awards, which were scheduled to air that evening, due to its Earth Shattering Significance, I suppose. Highlights you may recall were Li'l Kim's outfit that included one exposed breast covered with a seashell pasty, and the first appearance at the awards of one Britney Spears.

The world has changed a lot in 10 years. So this evening, pour yourself a Magic Hat #9 and toast the passing of another day, and I'll see you in one year, one month, and one day to celebrate 10/10/10.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Holy Balls, What day is it?

Greetings drinkers! Been too long. The dog days of summer sapped my blogging strength, but the stirrings of brisk autumn breezes and the promise of (fantasy) gridiron glory have restored my waning potency. So, a few updates:

ITEM! As the resident Johnny Beerseed of Northwest DC, I have introduced my neighbor down the hall to the hobby of homebrewing and helped him get his first batch underway. Not only that, but he has eclipsed me in the equipment area, already having procured TWO kegs and the requisite fittings. Sigh, they grow up so fast...

ITEM! Mrs. Brew Dude and I spent a piece of the long weekend brewing up our first repeat brew: Green Chile Beer. It's a wheat ale base, but we "dry hop" it with 5 skinned and seeded jalapeno peppers. Deee-lish with nachos!

ITEM! Ordered up a fresh batch of ingredients for brews to last well into the winter months. With a pumpkin porter, a nut brown, and a winter wheat on deck, we should have plenty of homebrew to keep us warm.

And, lastly, in order to cross something off the list of 40 Things Every Drunk Should Do, here is the first chapter of my memoir, Grapes, Grains, and Glory: A Life in Booze.

The first taste of beer I can recall was at a barbecue, held by one of my mother's work acquaintances. I was probably 6 or so, since I was still enthralled by action figures and most of my worldview was shaped by gossip under the jungle gym.

The barbecue was one of those potluck affairs that start in the early evening and go later than the hosts probably intended. It was dark by the time the grownups decided that the party should be moved indoors. I had been running around the neighborhood with other kids my age. The instant friendship between male youths discovering their shared love of the Turtles. When we were called back in, I needed to slake my thirst, and a sweaty Solo cup of iced Pepsi was just the ticket.

However, it was not my cup that I had picked up, but a similar looking one belonging to one of the more aged revelers. My deep draft of what was supposed to be sugary goodness was instead bitter and foul. If you have ever opened what you thought was a soda and instead got beer, even as a seasoned drinker, you know the sensation. Beer is best tasted on the top middle of the tongue, but soda likes to be on the sides, for maximum sweetness.

I swallowed out of panic, not knowing what else to do. I realized: I had just ingested an ADULT BEVERAGE meant for GROWNUPS ONLY. The prevailing wisdom of the aforementioned jungle gym was that drinking before your time was not only verboten, but wholly FATAL. Like a switch is flipped when you reach 21 making beer not poisonous.

But who to tell? As afraid as I was of my impending death, I feared the disappointed looks of my parents even more. Not only was I dying, but I had let down my family. No, better to suffer in silence and wither away quietly.

The next few days, I awaited death's cold touch, resigned to my fate. But, miracle of miracles, a whole week passed and I didn't even have a fever. I had done it! I had BEATEN DEATH!

As always, time marched on and my brush with mortality was revealed to simply be tasting a bitter fruit before I was ready, and much less life-threatening than I had been led to believe. And of course, today, I am a Death Dealer, creating my own noxious unguents and passing them around amongst my (of age) peers.

What doesn't kill you, makes you drunker.