Lemon Daiquiri was uploaded to Flickr

2 oz rum, .75 oz Simple Syrup (made with Demerara Sugar), .75 oz of lemon squeeze. Mint garnish.

Refreshing summer libation…

embiggen by clicking

I took Lemon Daiquiri on July 07, 2014 at 06:58PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2014 at 12:02AM

Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange Liquer was uploaded to Flickr

I need a better name for this, suggestions?

embiggen by clicking

I took Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange Liquer on May 16, 2014 at 10:32PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 17, 2014 at 03:35AM

‘Whiskey Crisis’ Looms Over America’s Drinking Culture

Buffalo Trace Bourbon - cocktail with muddled  mint, orange bitters, Bonal Gentiane Quina
Buffalo Trace Bourbon – cocktail with muddled mint, orange bitters, Bonal Gentiane Quina

Just like the craft beer explosion before it, this is boom times for spirits. So many interesting variants available that were not around 20 years ago. But whiskey takes a while to go from still to bottle, and thus the supply of quality whiskey is dwindling. Better stock up, boyos…

The surge of interest in whiskey has been a boon for distillers, but it has also led to a shortage of many brands and varietals that has been dubbed a “whiskey crisis” by the media.

Over the past year, bourbon sales increased 5 percent overall, but premium brands experienced a 20 percent rise in growth, according to the Frankfort, Kentucky.-based Buffalo Trace Distillery. And over the past six years, sales of premium whiskeys costing more than $15 per bottle at wholesale have grown by 97 percent, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. That has led to a series of distilleries reporting that they have been unable to produce enough whiskey to fulfill consumers’ growing desire for the brown liquor.

The increase in demand has driven prices of many premium whiskeys upward, and some have gone through the roof.

Fred Minnick, a Louisville whiskey expert and author of the book “Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey,” says that the whiskey industry is unique because it takes several years to distill good whiskey, and that makes it difficult for companies to keep up with demand spikes.

“The whiskey shortage is very real. The demand is so strong that they can’t meet it. Why is that? The reason is because this whiskey that they’re bottling and putting on the shelves today was conceived at a time when demand wasn’t that high. It was coming off the still in about 2005,” Minnick said. “It’s very difficult for distillers to forecast — in the case of Maker’s Mark, six years out, or Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old, back in 2002 — what the demand will be when it comes out of the barrel. “
A number of other distilleries have made decisions over the past couple of years to raise prices, reduce proofs — water down their product, that is — or remove age labels from bottles in an attempt to make up for the growing appetite for bourbon and other whiskeys.

The whiskey shortage was back in the news again this month, when Buffalo Trace announced that the company has had trouble keeping up with a “recent surge in demand” for its bourbon.

“We’re making more bourbon every day. In fact, we’re distilling more than we have in [the] last 40 years,” Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace’s master distiller, said. “Still, it’s hard to keep up. Although we have more bourbon than last year when we first announced the rolling blackouts, we’re still short and there is no way to predict when supply will catch up with demand.”

(click here to continue reading ‘Whiskey Crisis’ Looms Over America’s Drinking Culture.)

This article used a photo of mine for illustrative purposes, by the way, though for some reason they didn’t choose a photo of Buffalo Trace.

Rowan's Creek Bourbon - Manhattan
Rowan’s Creek Bourbon – Manhattan

Vieux Carré with Armagnac and Few Rye
Vieux Carré with Armagnac and Few Rye

Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey
Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey

So called
So called “Perfect” Manhattan with Bulleit 95 Rye

Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey
Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Lion's Pride Organic Rye Whiskey
Lion’s Pride Organic Rye Whiskey

Afternoon reading
Afternoon reading

Templeton Rye
Templeton Rye

Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon
Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon

Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey
Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey

The Scofflaw Cocktail
The Scofflaw Cocktail

Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange was uploaded to Flickr

I need a better name for this, suggestions?

embiggen by clicking

I took Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange on May 16, 2014 at 10:32PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 17, 2014 at 03:35AM

Vieux Carré Cocktail variant was uploaded to Flickr

I substituted Koval chrysanthemum honey liqueur in this Vieux Carré Cocktail since I’ve never even owned a bottle of Benedictine

embiggen by clicking

I took Vieux Carré Cocktail variant on January 07, 2013 at 07:30PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on January 08, 2013 at 01:54AM

Rock and Rye

The Good Stuff - Templeton Rye
The Good Stuff – Templeton Rye

I’ve never actually tasted rock and rye, though I’ve heard many, many songs mention it. Charlie Spand, Grateful Dead, Wood Guthrie, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and others come to mind.

Rock and Rye has always been seen as distinctively American—it was one of the few domestic liquors presented at the American pavilion of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. When sociologist Edward Alsworth Ross wrote about immigrants in his 1914 text “The Old World and the New,” the drink was the very symbol of assimilation: “In the Italian home the bottle of ‘rock and rye’ is seen with increasing frequency by the side of the bottle of Chianti.”

As befits a rock-solid piece of Americana, the drink found its way into a succession of popular songs. There was a “Rock and Rye Rag,” a “Rock and Rye Polka,” and barrelhouse piano man Charlie Spand belted out a blues in praise of “Rock and Rye,” marveling that “You got good stuff/ I can’t drink enough.” Blind Lemon Jefferson, in the “Big Night Blues,” hollered “Wild women like their liquor/their gin and their Rock and Rye.”

The most demonstrative ode to the pleasures of Rock and Rye came in the 1948 ditty of that name sung by Tex Ritter: “When there’s worry on your mind, here’s what you should try/Go to bed and rest your head and take some Rock and Rye.” Soon old Tex is slurring the drink’s praises, and in-between giddy hiccups there comes the declarative clank of ice in a glass, followed by the satisfying gurgle of liquor being poured.

But the greatest musical tribute to the sugared whiskey concoction came in 1934 when Earl Hines and his Orchestra recorded a hard-charging dance chart called “Rock and Rye,” penned by arranger Jimmy Mundy. It was the sort of swing anthem that would soon catapult Benny Goodman and his band to fame. That’s because, in 1935, Goodman hired Mundy away from Hines, and the killer-diller Mundy style on display in “Rock and Rye” would distinguish many of Goodman’s biggest hits, including the definitive Swing Era epic, “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

(click here to continue reading How’s Your Drink? Eric Felten on the Rock and Rye – WSJ.com.)

Michter's Original Sour Mash Whiskey
Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey

Here’s a recipe, if you are feeling adventurous. Have you ever tried a sip? or to make it? I’m not quite sure what horehound is, but according to Robert Johnson, it might already be on your trail…

Rock and Rye

Adapted from LeNell Smothers

  • 1 bottle rye whiskey 
  • 3-5 tbsp rock candy 
  • 2 slices orange 
  • 2 slices lemon 
  • 2 pieces dried apricot 
  • 1 slice pineapple 
  • 1 tea bag full of dried horehound 

Combine whiskey and sugar in a jar or decanter. All other ingredients optional. 

Allow all—except for horehound tea bag—to steep for a day or two or more. Leave horehound in for no more than two hours. When sugar is finally dissolved, strain and bottle. 

Cough a few times and clutch your chest in distress. Then serve the Rock and Rye on the rocks.

Sazerac Cocktail

Sazerac Cocktail

Sazerac Cocktail

Here’s how I made this.

  1. Ran cold water over a martini glass and put it in the freezer.
  2. Took an ice cube out of the freezer. I use ginormous ice cubes, in general, so they make drinks cold quicker, without diluting the spirits. You might need to use three normal ice cubes instead.
  3. Spoonful of sugar1 placed in tall glass.
  4. Add Peychaud’s Bitters2, and mash with a muddler. Toss in a few ounces of Rye Whiskey, and continue muddling. Add ice cube, and stir vigorously.
  5. Take martini glass out of the freezer, and add a drop of Absinthe to it. Swirl the Absinthe around the glass, and discard the rest.
  6. Decant the whiskey mixture into the martini glass.
  7. Slice a bit of lemon skin, express the juice of it on the edge of the glass, and drop it in the mixture.
  8. Drink, enjoy.

If I made this again, I would serve it in an old fashioned glass with ice – this would help dilute the whiskey a bit more. As it was, the whiskey had a bit of a bite still. Quite delicious, especially if you have a taste for rye whiskey.

  1. I couldn’t find my sugar cubes, so estimated []
  2. about 5 dashes, adjust for taste []

Q Tonic With Quinine

Farmer's Gin
Q Tonic and Gin

On a lark, I bought a four pack of Q Tonic1 2 last fall, and it was delicious. As far as I know, only Whole Foods in Chicago carries the brand, but I’ll look. Will be good for spring gin and tonics on the roof…

One night in 2003, Silbert was drinking a gin and tonic in his Brooklyn backyard when his teeth started feeling sticky. He saw that the tonic’s “ingredients were identical to Sprite, with different natural and artificial flavors,” he says. Curious, he discovered that today’s tonics lack a key ingredient used in the original libation: quinine from Peruvian cinchona trees. It was replaced with a synthetic during World War II. Silbert ordered the bark for $10 online and found a recipe to extract the quinine. He added homemade seltzer and agave instead of sugar. He started making the tonic at parties, and his friends loved it.

Silbert started business school at Yale University in 2004 with plans to go into city development. He still tinkered with tonic, and a professor—an Honest Tea co-founder—encouraged him. Working on a business plan, Silbert realized he needed a bottling facility and found one in Worcester, Mass. Investors provided $3,000 for ingredients and bottles, and Q Tonic was born. Then he offered samples on foodie websites.

New York standard-bearer Gramercy Tavern was an early adopter, and farm-to-table trendsetter Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., signed on when Silbert ate there and brought Q Tonic with him. Downtown hot spot Bobo soon followed. “At first it was part of our competitive edge,” says Bobo owner Carlos Suarez. “Now I’d be surprised not to see it at a sophisticated cocktail bar in Manhattan.” Q Tonic has grown to six employees and is in more than 3,000 outlets, including Whole Foods Market (WFMI). Silbert calls it a start: “The goal is for every place serving Grey Goose or Tanqueray to have a good tonic to go with it.”

(click here to continue reading A Company Built on a Crisper Gin and Tonic – BusinessWeek.)

Also, totally agree with the premise of Q Tonic: tonic should have quinine, and not be sickly sweet.


Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic (fever-reducing), antimalarial, analgesic (painkilling), anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an anti-arrhythmic. Quinine contains two major fused-ring systems: the aromatic quinoline and the bicyclic quinuclidine. Though it has been synthesized in the lab, the bark of the cinchona tree is the only known natural source of quinine. The medicinal properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quechua Indians of Peru and Bolivia; later, the Jesuits were the first to bring the cinchona to Europe.

Quinine was the first effective treatment for malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, appearing in therapeutics in the 17th century. It remained the antimalarial drug of choice until the 1940s, when other drugs replaced it. Since then, many effective antimalarials have been introduced, although quinine is still used to treat the disease in certain critical situations.

Quinine is available with a prescription in the United States and over-the-counter, in very small quantities, in tonic water. Quinine is also used to treat lupus and arthritis. Until recently, quinine was also a common “off-label” treatment for nocturnal leg cramps. This practice is now considered dubious by the FDA

(click here to continue reading Quinine – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

  1. I thought I took a photo of a bottle of Q Tonic, but I guess not.  Maybe I took the photo and just didn’t post it to Flickr – that happens often []
  2. updated to add a photo of Q Tonic []

Lion’s Pride Organic Dark Rye Whiskey

My local grocery store, Green Grocer, had a bottle of this whiskey, and a companion, the light rye. Rye is my current favorite sipping spirit, so I took a chance, and bought this bottle.

Lion's Pride Organic Rye Whiskey
Distilled in Chicago by Koval. Allegedly the first Chicago (legal) whiskey since Prohibition era. Charred oak barrels, and no caramel coloring added. Powerful flavor.

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone1

lionspridewhiskey.com/ has tours of the Koval facility – I’d love to go on one. Add it to the tourist list!

Organic? Why not?

Koval is dedicated to using organic raw ingredients because we want to support agricultural practices that are sustainable and respectful of the soil. We also think that organic food tastes better and is more nutritious than conventionally grown produce. Choosing only the best organic ingredients is the first step in making the best spirits possible. Adhering to kosher standards is another way we maintain strict levels of purity and quality control. We also like to think that it makes us a bit more spirit-ual.

(click to continue reading Lion’s Pride: Organic and Kosher.)

Lion’s Pride Whiskey is Chicago’s first whiskey. Aged in new Amerian Oak barrels. Distiled by Koval Disitllery! All whiskey is single barrel and available in limited quanities, so get yours while you can. The first release consistes of 2 barrels of Oat and Rye and a very limited amount of Dark Oat and Rye. Only 1 barrel of each Dark Oat and Rye have been released. Keep your eyes out for millet, wheat and spelt to be released shorty! Enjoy!

The Lion’s Pride whiskeys will have notes of vanilla and some fruitines, while the Lion’s Pride Darks will have notes of butterscotch and caramel.

  1. Lens: John S Flash: Off Film: Ina’s 1935 []

Day 5

Today is Day Five of my annual detox1 — the goal is to totally eschew alcohol, all grains with the exception of brown rice, breads, pastas, sugars, dairy, and even legumes. Mostly subsist upon fruit, vegetables and eggs. And lots and lots of black coffee. I’m also taking a sauna every day for about 30 minutes, and trying to get more than 6 hours of sleep. I’ve been too busy this week2 to really exercise, hopefully by next week I’ll be able to get in 30 minutes of cardio or more a day.

Still life with coconut

There are herbal supplements that are part of the detox, these I’m less convinced are effective, but they don’t hurt, and actually quiet my stomach’s rumbling on occasion.

My typical diet consists largely of fruits and vegetables already, but with the addition of lots of bread, cheese, and noodles. And booze, of course, which if I’m honest with myself, is probably the biggest factor in my expanding waistline. I estimate my booze belly consists of 25% beer, 40% wine, 20% whisky and whiskey,3 13% gin or tequila and 2% other. For me to become a teetotaler would be quite difficult, even with my compromised liver. So I take a few weeks every year to clean my cells out. Sort of like Lent, but without the ridiculous religious aspects.

Brauerei Weihenstephan Original

Speaking of moving, I think our haggling over the detailed conditions of our lease will be finalized today, and we will be able to start packing this weekend in anticipation of a move-in date in the middle of next month. Moving is a stress, but also exciting – everything is still possible, even where our rooms will be located. We’ll have slightly more space than we have currently, and in a building that isn’t falling down around our ears. We haven’t totally finalized our plans with this place, either we rent it out and let it pay for itself, or put it on the (admittedly soft) market to sell. Or both. Either will require we make dozens of cosmetic repairs, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, painting, yadda yadda. While we are doing these chores4, might still use this space as an office. We are lucky that the place was purchased before the massive real estate inflation, so covering the cost of the mortgage doesn’t seem unreasonable. Renting a different place is a lot easier than getting a new mortgage, especially since the banks are less likely to allow self-reported income. Small businesses often get the shaft despite the number of times politicians mouth support for them.

Wow, a confessional blog post! So unusual – I usually prefer to keep my emotional and personal life in the margins, but here we are. Wish us luck!

  1. for lack of a better word []
  2. lawsuits filed against us have convinced us to move, so we’ve been house/apartment hunting []
  3. i.e., Scotch, Irish, bourbon []
  4. well, supervising someone more competent to do them []

Sean Parnell Knows His Drinking Trivia

For future reference…

Rainbo Club neon

or most of 2001, I got paid to stumble from bar to bar for a book called The Official Chicago Bar Guide. At the time, I fancied myself Chicago’s top authority on the subject, but the city’s ever-shifting nocturnal scene—and a sudden glut of listings online—rendered my book irrelevant almost immediately. One of the 11 or 12 people who bought it was a Wrigleyville resident named Sean Parnell, who’d been doing his own research for Chicago Bar Project, an exhaustive online bar encyclopedia that kicked my little book’s ass all over the city. I never met him and never forgave him.

Until this past May, that is, when Parnell released Historic Bars of Chicago. One look at the book, which overflows with adoration for Chicago’s taverns and the implausible legends that haunt them, and I knew I had never been anything more than a nightlife dilettante. When I finally met Parnell, 36, over Guinness pints at Brehon Pub (731 N. Wells St.), I was embarrassed to find that he knew every word of my book and had never realized we were at war. He told me about the most underrated bar in town (Cody’s Public House, 1658 W. Barry Ave.); a pub that got its name because it once siphoned beer into its taps directly from the brewery next door (Schaller’s Pump, 3714 S. Halsted St.); and a place where patrons drink shots from an inflatable sheep’s rectum (Friar Tuck, 3010 N. Broadway). But it wasn’t until Parnell quizzed me on bar trivia that I grasped the truth: I’d never known bars—or loved them—quite the way he does

(click to continue reading Chicago Bar Project’s Sean Parnell Knows His Drinking Trivia – Chicago magazine – August 2010 – Chicago.)

I know I’ve blogged about the Chicago Bar Project before1, but it is a pretty cool project. Too bad there isn’t a location based iPhone app…

  1. disclaimer, I think a few of my photos are still being utilized by Mr. Parnell, with my permission of course. []

Reading Around on July 23rd through July 28th

A few interesting links collected July 23rd through July 28th:

Vermouth: Worth a second taste in cocktails

Actually, in the last couple of years have expanded my cocktail palate to include good vermouth, and explore the plethora of vermouth options besides just Martini and Rossi or Gallo. Simultaneously, I’ve gotten over my teenaged aversion to bourbon1, especially in variants of Manhattans.

Whisky versus Whiskey

The truth about vermouth is that it predates the manhattan, and every other cocktail in which it’s featured. Born in Turin, Italy, in the late 1700s as an aperitif, vermouth is a fortified wine whose flavor has been enhanced (or “aromatized”) with herbs and spices — notably wormwood, from which “vermouth” borrows its name. Over the centuries, it has evolved into a cocktail ingredient capable of making or breaking a drink, depending on what kind is used and how much, and some of the better blends are still enjoyed by traditionalists as an aperitif on the rocks with a twist of orange.

Summer is as good a time as any to examine the variety of vermouths, which go way beyond mixers for manhattans and martinis. Find one you like, splash it with soda and a few ice cubes, and your aperitif regime is a set for the season.

(click to continue reading Vermouth: Worth a second taste in cocktails and for sipping – chicagotribune.com.)

Five to One, with mint

Of the vermouths that Lauren Viera samples, I’ve only actually had the Gallo and Martini & Rossi; have to do a little more sampling, methinks.

  1. odds are I drank stolen Jack Daniels to excess a few times when 15 – turned me off to the simple charms of good bourbon []

Reading Around on July 7th


Some additional reading July 7th from 09:36 to 13:27:

  • Booze quotes: shaking with style


    The important thing is the rhythm. You should always have rhythm when you’re shaking. Now, a Manhattan you shake to fox trots. A Bronx, to two-step time. A dry martini you always shake to waltz time. —Nick Charles, The Thin Man


  • ScienceBlogs, we have a problem | Science | guardian.co.uk – •


    Should ScienceBlogs.com have agreed to host a controversial blog on nutrition, written by PepsiCo? No, say the site’s readers, as some of its star bloggers stop their blogs in protest


  • Say hello to…PepsiCo??!? WTF? : Pharyngula


    So what’s with the corporate drones moving in next door? They aren’t going to be doing any scienceblogging — this is straight-up commercial propaganda. You won’t be seeing much criticism of Pepsico corporate policies, or the bad nutritional habits spread by cheap fast food, or even any behind-the-scenes stories about the lives of Pepsico employees that paints a picture of the place as anything less than Edenesque. Do you think any of the ‘bloggers’ will express any controversial opinions that might annoy any potential customers?

  • PepsiCo blog, Food Frontiers, is an affront to those who built the reputation of ScienceBlogs : Terra Sigillata


    I wish to focus my objections specifically on the breach of ethics and community represented by ScienceBlogs hosting this blog and accepting an undisclosed amount of sponsorship funds to do so


Reading Around on May 9th through July 7th

A few interesting links collected May 9th through July 7th:

  • Pepsi Ethics : Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted) – It’s taken me a few hours to cool off enough to write coherently and without using (too much) profanity after I learned that ScienceBlogs added a corporate PR blog about nutrition written by PepsiCo. I think I’ve learned all I care to know about corporate “food” giants’ definition of what is “nutrition” by being confronted daily by a flock of hugely protruding bellies and jiggling posteriors everywhere I goBatman juice
  • Rand Paul has long history of controversial views – no wonder Rand Paul doesn’t want to talk to the press anymore – they might ask him about the crazy shit he’s said
  • + TheCoolShot + Authentic Russian Toast + – Your shot of iced vodka at The Russian Tea Time is served straight up in a chilled 2 oz. glass and is accompanied by traditional morsels – pickled cucumber and pumpernickel bread bite. Have it within a reach.