Navigation
Friday
Jan132017

Drink & Watch: Live In Person w/Steven Soderbergh

On Monday night, January 23rd, starting at 7 PM, we’ll be teaming up with the gang at the Alamo Drafthouse to bring you a screening of Steven Soderbergh’s Academy Award-winning film Erin Brockovich, featuring a live Q&A session with the director himself (hosted by yours truly) and a meet-and-greet cocktail party after the show. As some of you know, I’ve written a column on the K&L spirits blog for years called “Drink & Watch,” where I pair alcohol with movies rather than food. Mr. Soderbergh, who for some reason gets a kick out of those articles, thought it might be fun to take this idea and turn it into a party. As many of you also may know, the Alamo Drafthouse allows you to order food and alcoholic beverages while you’re watching a film, so we’re planning a special cocktail list with Steven’s drink of choice: Singani 63, the grape-based Bolivian spirit he discovered while filming Che on location. We’re big supporters of the brand here at K&L, but we also understand that the spirit needs a bit of an introduction. That’s why we’re inviting you out to the movies on Monday the 23rd to watch a great film, drink some great Singani cocktails, listen to Steven talk about the film, then have a drink with the man at our private after-party. It’s the most exciting event we’ve ever hosted, in my opinion!

Tickets are available here via the Alamo Drafthouse website where you can choose your own seat and reserve your spot:

ERIN BROCKOVICH & SINGANI 63 SCREENING PARTY - $14

Drinks are not included with admission, but there will be a specialty menu for you to order from while in attendance.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Jan122017

Kentucky Deliciousness

As the market for unique and interesting Bourbon continues to be crowded, competitive, and catty, you've got to rely on your strengths as a retailer. I've never been someone who was interested in knowing the most about whiskey (although I've met plenty of people who are). If I wanted to know the details about production, it was always with the intention of linking that information back to to flavor. Ultimately, if a whiskey doesn't taste good, then why would anyone care about the back story? As a buyer, I think that's my biggest strength (maybe my only redeeming quality, to be honest): the ability to know what tastes good and what doesn't. You might think quality is an obvious characteristic to everyone, but believe me it isn't. Anyone can pick the oldest cask in the line up, or the one with the highest proof. You don't need to be a whiskey master to do that. But when the stocks start dwindling and everything is less than nine years old (as is the case right now at Four Roses), you're going to figure out real fast who can assess the winners and who can't.

I offer as proof of our fine palates this delicious new Four Roses selection that we picked out this past Fall. It's a hair under nine years old and it's nothing short of scrumptious. If you're all about the stats, I'm sorry to inform you that there's nothing impressive or rare about this whiskey. But if you like to drink Bourbon because it tastes good, then I think you'll be pretty impressed:

Four Roses 8 Year, 11 Month Old "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel OESO Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey $64.99 - The first selection from our 2016 trip to Four Roses has arrived and it's absolutely as charming as we remember it. Aged just a hair short of nine years, this OESO selection has a mash bill of 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley and uses the O yeast strain known for imparting a rich, full-bodied, and vanilla-laden character onto the whiskey. Bottled at 53.25% ABV, the Bourbon is full of sweet oak and baking spices galore on the nose. The palate follows suit with vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves balanced by the sweetness from the charred barrel notes. Simply put, it's the type of whiskey you look forward to coming home to. It's full of flavor, never overpowering despite the cask strength power, and balanced on all fronts. It's not difficult to understand, nor is it hiding many deeper secrets. It shows you everything it has right off the bat: creamy vanilla, lots of sweet spice, and a healthy dollop of oak for good measure. Another winner purchased directly from the Four Roses cellar.

-David Driscoll

Wednesday
Jan112017

Bordeaux-Fest

You've been to Whiskyfest, but have you been to Bordeaux-fest? No? Then you need to come. In truth, it's not actually called Bordeaux-fest. It's something much classier and un-American in name: Les Unions des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, and it's coming to San Francisco this January 27th. And guess who's hosting? K&L is! 

If you've ever wanted to get your feet wet and learn more about Bordeaux, this is the ultimate experience.

Even when you go to Bordeaux for en premeur tasting like I did this past Spring, it's impossible to visit each property individually. For the sake of time and efficiency, you end up in these huge halls that are broken down by region where each château has its own table and representative nearby. The UGC pretty much takes that same experience and brings it across the Atlantic. You get access to more than eighty different producers and a large variety of wine styles including some of the sweet Sauternes as well. It's a veritable who's who of the region, including Léoville-Barton, Branaire-Ducru, Gruaud-Larose, Kirwan, Pichon-Baron, Lynch-Bages, and basically every other non-first growth player that you can think of. They're all there in one room, pouring their top wines, and you can actually talk to the people who work at each property to get the information you need while you taste. Unlike Whiskyfest, it's not a madhouse. You can work at your own pace, take as long as you like with each producer, and leisurely learn about the wines in the way you want to. I've gone for the last four years and I've always walked away with a better understanding and appreciation of the category (as well as a few new friends). 

This year's UGC tasting is on Friday, January 27th at the Westin St. Francis on Powell Street and starts at 6 PM. Tickets are available here for a mere $65. I'll be there with a fancy suit on. Hopefully I'll see some of you there, too!

-David Driscoll

Monday
Jan092017

Singani Stuff

I stayed in for most of the weekend watching TV, drinking, and doing some more drinking. When it's cold outside, the rain is coming down, and the wind is rattling your windows with vicious gusts of dramatic effect, there's nothing better than curling up on the couch and having a few cocktails—say six or seven. I've been experimenting with my pal Steven's Singani 63 in various drink forms for about two years now, but I think yesterday I discovered its most magnificent incarnation: in a copper Moscow Mule mug with Diet Squirt. If you think I sit around all day drinking high-end Bordeaux and top shelf Scotch, think again. I'm from Modesto. I get ten times more excited about a potential everyday cocktail like this one than I do a rare bottle of whiskey. 

I made sure to tell Mr. Soderbergh about the new creation as well. 

ME: "Do you drink diet soda?"

SS: "God no! That stuff will kill you."

ME: "Oh...because I think Diet Squirt and Singani is the holy grail of pairings."

SS: "Well, if you're talking about Singani, in that case I'm all for it!"

I watched All About Eve for the first time in a while, as my kitty slumbered in the distance. It's suuuuuuuuuch a great drinking movie. Bette Davis must throw back five bottles of Champagne and ten martinis during the course of the film. There's a great line halfway in where Eve is doing party preparations and says: "Does Miss Channing know she ordered domestic gin by mistake?" Heavens! What a faux pas back then!

Speaking of movies, I'd clear your calendar for the night of Monday, January 23rd. That is if you want to hang out with me and Steven Soderbergh in San Francisco, drink Singani cocktails (probably without Diet Squirt), and watch Erin Brockovich at the Alamo on Mission St. Figure standard movie ticket fee, special menu, a Q&A session with me and SS in the theater, then a party afterward where you can have a drink with the man himself.

More on that very soon. 

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Jan072017

Something Better Down the Road

I had dinner with a close friend this past week who I hadn't seen in almost two years. We drank and talked until late into the night and she gave me the lowdown on some other old faces I hadn't thought about in some time. In the case of one of our historically-depressed acquaintances, I was both curious and concerned to know what he had been up to for the past decade. 

"He finally moved home," my friend told me. "I think that was always his goal in life: to get back home somehow and be closer to friends and family."

"So is he happy, do you think?" I asked.

"To be honest, I don't think so," she answered. "I think he's just an unhappy person by nature and, no matter where he goes, he's going to think there's something better just down the road. It's his way of coping and deflecting blame from his own behavior." 

I know people who have moved out of the Bay Area over the past few years due to increased traffic, higher rents, and a general loss of artistic culture. Some of them went to Portland, some to Seattle, and others to Austin. For many, if not most of them, that move brought them an incredible amount of happiness. Their rents are now lower and their commutes are a lot shorter, which was ultimately the source of their displeasure. For a few of these folks, however, the move to a new location only relocated the same emotional baggage. They quickly identified new problems in their new environments and went right back to being unhappy. 

I remember a few years back when Rittenhouse Rye was out of stock just about year round, there was a customer who would come by the store every few weeks and ask if we had any. The answer was always no. Then, when it finally came back into stock, I remember being excited to tell him it was available again. He came in a few days later and asked about it. 

"Yes! I've got tons!" I told him.

"What do you mean tons?" he replied with a surprising lack of excitement.

"I mean like 600 bottles," I responded. 

He seemed defeated and he left without buying a bottle. I was rather shocked at first to tell you the truth, but then it dawned on me: he only wanted the whiskey in the first place because he couldn't have it. Once he could easily find it again, the idea of owning a bottle was less thrilling. 

I think a lot of whiskey companies have already found out the hard way that placating that type of personality is impossible. I think a lot more are going find out the same hard lesson in 2017. I have another friend who's planning to build a distillery in Kentucky this year. He told me about it a few months back while we were having lunch.

"There's a Bourbon shortage," he told me. "We're going to help satisfy that demand."

I sat there for a few minutes wondering if I should burst his bubble or not. Then I finally said to him:

"My friend, there's a ton of Bourbon available. I've got Bourbon coming out of my ears at K&L. There's no shortage of Bourbon in general. There's only a shortage of special Bourbon, which is only now special because you can't get it. Once it becomes available, it becomes unspecial; which means no one's going to want it anymore."

"You're shitting me," he said. 

-David Driscoll