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Thursday
Apr242014

I'm Talking to the Other Guys

Let me describe the scene to you: there are these guys, they act like customers so that they can get on to our insider email lists, they read this blog obsessively, but really they have their own stores and their own work to do, so they try to use all of our public information against us. If we run lower margins to create a buzz, they run and complain to the brands like little tattle-tales, saying we must be getting insider pricing. If we use our skills to acquire better allocations of difficult to find products, they whine about how K&L must be cheating the system. More importantly, they prey on our every word and whim to see what we're doing next by infiltrating our newsletters and sales blasts, hoping to God they can get a head start on the two Davids.

Well, guess what? I'm on to you guys! You're going to have to change up your strategy.

Nevertheless, I'm gonna drop a few bombs today in your honor. Check back later today for some fun stuff.

So long everybody!

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Apr232014

One Week Until We Party

I was practicing my chops last night in preparation for next week's Olmeca Altos "limeless" tequila dinner. After testing out a number of martini-like cocktails, I found I really liked the Hernandez -- taken from the OA website -- which uses:

2 oz. Olmeca Altos blanco

0.5 oz of sweet vermouth

0.2 oz of maraschino liqueur

2 dashes orange bitters

1 dash Angostura

The influence of the sweeteners are very mild and the bitters accent the spiciness already embedded in the tequila itself. It really drinks like a subtle, yet elegant tequila martini because, ultimately, that's the dominant flavor you're tasting. For those coming to our big party next Tuesday night at El Sinaloense, you'll be getting one of these the minute you walk into the place. I'll be behind the bar mixing away while you get settled into your seat.

We still have a few seats left if you want to join us, although I'm fine with our numbers right now considered I'm already on the hook for thirty Hernandez cocktails!

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Apr222014

Don't Forget to Enjoy Yourself

The K&L Redwood City crew enjoying a beer at the end of a long day

The idea that we always need to be achieving something is a very American concept. In the novel Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche notices that people in the United States "spend a lot of time doing, instead of being." Many of us are thinking about the next task, rather than the current moment, and we tend to quantify those accomplishments to help give them meaning. I am very, very guilty of this.

Due to my recently-overloaded schedule, I haven't been able to do much running lately, but I did find some time yesterday to do about seven miles. I had been thinking to myself, "I need to exercise. I'm going to gain weight if I don't get out there soon." Like many Americans, I associate "healthy" with "thin" and I'm often more worried about my calorie count than my body's basic nutrient needs. These are natural associations that go along with a very American way of living -- counting numbers, calculating stats, thinking of life as a series of equations that need to be solved.

My French friend commented on this phenomena the other day, telling me: "It's because you all grow up watching baseball, keeping track of batting averages, and figuring out who's best based on statistics rather than on-field play. Us? We play soccer. We don't care about the stats. We basically just run around for a while until something good eventually happens. That's a metaphor for French life, really."

When I got back from my run yesterday morning I was in a great mood. I had forgotten the other main reason why I like to go jogging: it makes me feel amazing! It's not just about maintaining my weight, making sure I burn off the necessary calories, and keeping my metabolic rate high. Those are the statistical aspects I tend to obsess about, but they're all secondary to the sense of happiness that blankets my soul after I finish a long route.

My French friend was right. If I run long enough, forget about all the statistical benefits, and focus on the moment, something good always happens eventually. I end up remembering that running is an enjoyment, rather than a responsibility. There's an easy analogy for whisky embedded in that philosophy.

-David Driscoll

Monday
Apr212014

Ardbeg This Wednesday!

Don't forget -- this Wednesday in Redwood City is going to be an Ardbeg celebration. You'll be able to taste the 10 year, the Uigeadail, and the Corryvreckan -- for free! -- and you'll get to check out the new Ardbeg motorcade.

More importantly: we will be offering super-duper Ardbeg discounts for those who come and do the tasting. If you come pose for a photo with the roadsters we'll give you a coupon that will entitle you to the lowest prices we've ever offered for Ardbeg whiskies (and our prices are already low). If you know you're going to want a bottle of Ardbeg single malt, you might as well come by. I've heard there might even be a television crew.

We'll start a little before 5 PM and probably continue until closing. See you there!

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Apr202014

High-Low Fashion (and Drinking)

Esquire's graphic for helping men navigate the perils of high-low fashion

There's a trend in the fashion world called "high-low," which essentially means pairing expensive, "high"-end pieces with affordable, "low"-end options. For example, you might see a woman walking down the street with a Chanel purse and Alexander McQueen shoes (at least $2000 and $1000 a piece), yet wearing a dress from H&M and a belt from Target (maybe $40 and $10 each). Or maybe you'll see a guy at the supermarket wearing $700 Cole Haan shoes, but an $80 Banana Republic suit. The theory behind the "high-low" trend is that some things are worth spending the money on. You're going to wear shoes and a watch much more often than you'll wear a sports jacket or slacks, so you might as well spend the money on those items, while looking elsewhere for less-pricey versions of the basic essentials.

In reality, however, "high-low" fashion isn't so much a trend as it is just basic intelligence; you have to actually know what looks good in order to do it well -- you can't just follow the rule, copy the idea, or buy based on the label. I liken this to what I mentioned yesterday about specs versus quality. You can look at a bottle and read all the details, but you'll never know if it's good or not until you taste it. While information on the label can help lead us to better whisky, you're still a label whore if you buy a bottle based purely on those details -- you're just a more modern version of it. Smart fashionistas can spot a $1000 dress at Yves St. Laurent, see that it looks amazing, but know that they can get a similar dress at Zara for $120. At the same time, they'll know when a $400 pair of Salvatore Ferragamo shoes are worth the price -- even with the designer name mark up.

The same "high-low" principle can be applied to drinking as well: a smart spirits aficionado knows when to splurge and when to look elsewhere for alternatives. There are times when $100 for a brand name label is definitely worth the money (i.e. Glenmorangie 18) and times when you might look outside the major players to find better value. Ultimately, what I love about high-low drinking is that it combines the skeptic's mindset of being smart with one's money with the free-spirited mentality of enjoying oneself -- without the penchant for following trends, labels, points, or ratings. Being a high-low shopper means you know when to employ the basic tenets of $8 Spanish garnacha, but also the supreme pleasures of the $60 aged Bordeaux. It means you know when $10 Prosecco will do the job, but also when to shell out for the $50 bottle of Champagne. High-low drinking requires an understanding of alcohol that goes beyond the label and into the personal -- you alone have to decide what is and isn't worth buying.

Of course, you have to taste the booze in order to know for sure, but that's where experience counts; you have to take risks every now and again. Those who live in fear of buying the wrong bottle and painstakingly analyze every purchase will always be governed by that anxiety (and that takes the fun out of drinking!) You'll never know what is and isn't worth buying until you make a few mistakes.

-David Driscoll