Scott's Selection Closeouts

Looks like many of the older and rarer indie bottlings from Scott's Selection are being closed out by the distributor, so I'm going to grab what I can for you collectors out there.  Some bottles are more than $100 less than before.  Here's a sample of what's coming in.  Email me if you want me to hold one back for you.

1973 Macallan Scott's Selection Highland Single Malt Whisky $259.99 (was $325.99)

1977 Bunnahabhain Scott's Selection Single Malt Whisky $119.99 (was $249.99)

1965 Glenfarclas Scott's Selection Single Malt Whisky $325.99 (was $439.99)

Very hot deals.  Scorching.

-David Driscoll



The Growing Demands of Social Media

I was watching one of the newest episodes of Portlandia (a fantastic new sketch comedy show on IFC about the hipsters in Portland) the other day and was left in hysterics after a scene featured Fred Armisen scrambling in vain to try and monitor Facebook, Twitter, and his iPhone simultaneously.  No matter how badly we want to participate in the modern technological world, and no matter how much they enrich our lives by making communication easier, I can't help but feel that the responsibility attached to them is causing us more stress than pleasure – especially those of us using these tools for work-related reasons.  The New York times featured another thought provoking article on the ever-tilting balance of home life and work life that I consider required reading for anyone with a work email account on their Blackberry.  Just last night I was perusing the Netflix instant selections and settled on a National Geographic documentary about the effects of stress on the human body, and a large portion of the show discussed the impact of work-related stress on our happiness and, more importantly, life expectancy. 

For reasons of personal privacy and control over who I allow to contact me, I do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts. After reading numerous studies about how they have decreased our ability to concentrate on important tasks, I really have no desire to get started.  I'm not against the idea of social media or networking, I'm just exploring other options, namely doing it myself via this blog.  I am quite taken by Twitter's ability to deliver quick, succinct bits of information instantly to those who are dedicated to remaining current.  For that reason, I think that updating this blog more than once a day might be a good idea.  There are definitely small announcements that I could provide throughout the time I spend at work and that would be of interest to spirits lovers.  I'm not talking about news such as "I'm eating a sandwich right now" or "I'm so bored. Work sucks. LOL" but rather updates about products and events. 

In the past I've tried to jot down information on a notepad that I would then gather for the weekly email.  The blog was created to supplicate the email with extra information, but I'm finding that I forget to include things from time to time and it might be better to just update as I go.  Therefore, look for maybe 3-4 blog posts everyday, rather than just one.  If you're in the habit of checking every morning, make sure you scroll down a bit as there now may be multiple postings since the last time you checked in.  Those on the RSS feed should get the updates as they happen.

As long as I only have to manage my email and this blog, I think I can continue to do my job well and keep my stress levels relatively low.  Hopefully, a few posts a day will be sufficient to supply enough info to our 24 hour news cycle society.  See you later today, and again after that!

-David Driscoll


Tuesday Tasting Tomorrow: Glenmorangie Finealta

Make sure you come out and join us tomorrow beginning at 6 PM @ Martin's West in Redwood City.  The Glenmorangie Finealta will be our featured whisky of the night and pours should be around $3 a glass.  We bought two bottles this time so the liquid should last twice as long as last time.  Grab a table in the back if you want to eat together and chit chat.  You can sit at the bar and order a glass, taste and leave, or order some food and hang out.  It's completely up to you.  In all seriousness, the Finealta is a front runner to be my favorite whisky of 2011.  I really, really like this slightly peated formula.  We opened it for the staff yesterday, so that they could be prepared for the big email going out today, and they freaked out.  Everyone was crazy about it, and honestly, they should be.  It's round, elegant, balanced, and delicious.  Similar to the Caol Ila Yquem barrel but with less sweetness.  Come out and taste with us and see for yourself!

-David Driscoll 


SF Saturday: One Possible How-To Guide

Today was a ridiculously nice day in the city.  It was September weather at the beginning of February!  While the rest of the U.S. is being shutdown by ice and snow, people in the Bay Area were sporting shorts, sailing ships, and enjoying the summer-like sun.  My wife and I usually spend two to three Saturdays a month traversing the city streets in search of new watering holes and delicious bites to snack on.  We rarely eat an entire meal, prefering to taste as many different dishes as possible.  Living in such a culinary wonderland, we have a responsibility to enjoy it and spending an entire day walking and eating will only scratch the surface of what's available in San Francisco, let alone the rest of the Bay.  On a day like today, one should have been ashamed to stay indoors. 

If you've never spent an entire morning/afternoon gourging on unhealthy food and intoxicating liquor, then we're probably not going to ever be close friends.  My wife and I, while both having a long, extended backgrounds working with children, have no desire for a child of our own - we love kids, just other people's kids.  We have no desire to own a house or any other financial burden because all of our free time and money would be better spent on traveling and eating at new places.  Anything that would detract from doing so would only result in our common resentment of that barrier!  Is it possible to spend hours upon end ingesting calories in an enjoyable fashion, one might ask?  Yes, and as long as you exercise you shouldn't gain a pound!  Here in this blog post is a how-to guide for constructing such an outing, should you decide to in the future.  To make this great day even more enjoyable, we brought along fellow culinary adventurer and lover of all booze, Luke O'Brien.  He too had a list of destinations to check off, so at 10:30 sharp we hit the road. 

First stop was the Jasmine Tea House to settle a bet between Luke and my wife about which Chinese restaurant has the best pot stickers.  We are big fans of San Mateo's Hot Wok Bistro so it was going to take a spectacular effort to win us over.  Luke, however, is a man to be believed and the above picture should illustrate perfectly the crispy outside of the doughy, pork-filled dumpling.  Dim sum is a great way to start your day in order to line the stomach with the necessary booze-accomodating oils and fats.  "Just pot stickers?" the waitress asked confusedly.  No time for more food, unfortunately, because stomach space must be conserved for the sake of future consumption.  A spot of tea, a few soy sauce-soaked bites, and we had to make our way over to the Ferry Building.

The Embarcadero is an amazing place to sip and sample due to the proximity of many boutique fooderies and the wonderful Slanted Door bar.  The cocktail menu is always full of exciting options and the drinks are almost always impeccably mixed.  We all ordered the Rhum Agricole Punch, a tasty blend of agricole rum, canne syrup, lime, with dashes of Angostura bitters and all spice dram, dusted with grated nutmeg on top.  On a warm day like today, you need constant refreshment and scenery only helps to enhance your mood.  The restaurant over looks the Bay Bridge on the water and makes the drinking experience more stimulating.  Discipline is key, however, because the drinks go down quickly and there is no time to waste ordering another.  We had to get up and move into the Ferry Building foray.

Boccalone Salumeria is pure pork heaven and is located just a few doors down from the Slanted Door.  The establishment is another project by the guys behind Incanto and they offer some great quick snack options for those of us on the move.  The Salumi Cone sample is about $4 and offers a salty, meaty treat that can be ingested on the go.  The meats were packed with pure pig flavor and each cut was as diverse as the next – a fantastic way to try before you buy.  The location is dangerouly close, however, to the Cowgirl Creamery and its side-station that has a grilled-cheese sandwich of the day.  Of course, if you've saved the requisite stomach space as earlier advised, fitting both into the agenda should be no problem.

While Luke and my wife wolfed down their sandwiches, I went over and got some sliced samples from the cheese stand.  The knowledgable staff (headed by the brother of my co-worker Zach) is like the K&L of cheese.  You go and ask questions, you sample, and in the end you decide on a selection.  I was in the mood for something sharp so the girl helping me suggested a fantastic cheese from Wisconsin that fit the bill. We stood in the main entrance and ate an immense amount of dairy in one quick sitting.  As if that wasn't enough milk fat, we walked over to an artisan chocolate stand and got a selection of sweet niblets that we chewed on as we walked back to the car.  When engaging in such an activity, it is important to alternate drinking and eating consistantly, so the next step had to be booze.  I had never been to one of the oldest bars in the city and had been eager to visit, so we drove over to Fisherman's Wharf.

The Buena Vista has been operating in SF for 125 years and is reportedly the creator of the now ubiquitous Irish Coffee.  Set right on the wharf with a view of Alcatraz in the distance, it's a fantastic place to get a little local history as well as enjoy a beautiful view. The tourists packed the streets outside and everyone was enjoying the incredible weather on the square. We plopped down at a table and ordered three of their specialty - the waitress yelled, "Make three please!" to the bar staff, without any need to clarify which drink she meant.

I almost never order caffinated cocktails, but in this case one needs to let the venue dictate procedure.  It's important to be open in the moment and let the specialities of the city come to you!  The Irish Coffee is wonderfully creamy and sweet on the entry with a splendid richness on the palate and warm burn on the finish.  The Buena Vista definitely has this beverage down, and it didn't take long before we had them down as well.  The waitress had barely served us our coffees before we asked her for the check and headed back south of Market for some more food.

Zero Zero was the next destination for a quick margarita pizza and some well-crafted cocktails and beer.  Luke had been eager to try their crust, and he was not disappointed.  The dough is softer and chewier than the typical pie and the sauce is light and creamy.  One of a now growing number of pizza/cocktail parlors in the city, these guys do both very well and the best part is you can sneak into the bar between lunch and dinner, without a reservation, and order food there.  We chatted with the friendly bartenders and enjoyed a Pimm's Punch and Negroni Bianco from their extensive drink menu (including Van Winkle bourbons and a nice single malt supply) before heading back to the Mission for dessert.

Luke told us that there was no way we were going home without trying out Humphry Slocombe, a wacky little ice cream shop on Harrison St. in a very Brooklyn-like part of town.  The weather was so warm that people were out sitting on the stoop and the abundance of tattooed hipsters with their young children transported us to a Williamsburg flashback as the bearded and moustached faithful lined up to get their cones.  The flavors were options such as black sesame, "secret breakfast" – a bourbon and cornflake concoction, and thai lime chili.  We tried all three and all three were outstanding. The curious selection left me dying to try more, but the sun was setting slowly and Luke had to get back home to his honey, so we hit the freeway back south.

After dropping Luke off, we headed over to Martin's West for some meat products and a quick Moscow Mule before heading home for the night.  A walk up to the top of the hill above downtown San Mateo cleared our foggy heads and lightened the load in our bellies.  On an evening like tonight we could see the lights on the Transamerica Building clearly while the planes circled above the airport in the foreground.

The day was well-organized, well-enjoyed, and well-spent.  We talked about the salads we would be eating tomorrow as we walked home and began planning our outing for next Saturday, when we would do the same thing all over again.  Eating and drinking are two of the greatest pleasures in life (if not the greatest) so make sure you make time to enjoy them properly!  Until next weekend...

-David Driscoll



Prepping For National Pisco Sour Day

 Pisco is a Peruvian brandy that was commonplace in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. The first Saturday in February is National Pisco Sour Day in Peru, San Francisco's Pisco-loving community shares in the celebration. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The following article was written by my co-worker Chiara Shannon who has a passion for pisco.  As the store's head personal sommelier, she has been writing some excellent articles for the main wine blog, but I asked her if she would write something for the Spirits Journal as well.  Just in time for Pisco Sour Day tomorrow, Chiara has put together an overview of a spirit many know little about:

How much do you love the Pisco Sour?

Chiara reaches to finish the last drop of her Pisco Sour on wedding night.My husband Derek and I love this historic Peruvian cocktail so much, it was the signature drink served at our wedding.  Derek lived in Peru for a year in his early twenties, where he needed to perfect his Pisco Sour making technique to satisfy patrons of the chic Lima bar where he worked as a bartender.  The Peruvians were not quick to accept that a gringo from New York could make proper Pisco Sour, but he eventually won them over (and even scored a spot on the local news for his talents!). So naturally, he takes this Pisco Sour business seriously. The wedding was back in 2007, when Pre-Prohibition cocktails had yet to hit mainstream cool, and it took the bar manager and staff of our five star catering operation several tries, carefully and rather gleefully presided over by Derek, to get it just right.  


Pisco About Town

Pisco and Pisco Sour appreciation has come a long way in San Francisco since I first wrote about this great cocktail on UnCorked back in September of 2008 and shared Derek's recipe (below). Almost concurrent with my September 08 posting, the doors to the U.S. Flagship of Peruvian Celebrity Gaston Acurio's La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, opened its doors on San Francisco's Embarcadero. In addition to a making killer Pisco Sour, La Mar offers an extensive selection of Pisco and Pisco-based cocktails.  They also host Pisco tasting seminars for enthusiasts and professionals. I attended one sponsored by BarSol pisco and it was quite enlightening.  

Pisco was widely available in San Francisco from it's first appearance 1839 up until Prohibition. It attained world fame in 1887 when Duncan Nicol aka “Pisco John” created the Pisco Punch cocktail at the Bank Exchange Saloon. Credit for inventing the Pisco Sour is given to the English expat Elliot Stubb, who first served the cocktail at his bar in Peru in the 1870s. Photo courtesy of

Award-winning Pisco Sours are churned out at Pisco Latin Lounge, the Pisco Bar next to Hayes Valley's cozy Peruvian resto Destino, with Union Square's Cantina as a solid runner-up for a good Pisco fix.  And these days, mixologists at the Union Square speakeasy Bourbon and Branch and SOMA's Heaven's Dog and Bar Agricole not only know what you're talking about when you order the Peruvian cocktail, but they deliver the goods proper.  


Even Pisco itself- the brandy that forms the base of the cocktail - has gotten a lot better too.  No more kitchy bottles of below-rate Pisco in the shape of Incan producers like Campo de Encanto and Viñas de Oro are crafting artisanal, award-winning Piscos worthy of any spirit collection.



Why not give the Pisco Sour a try today? Derek's recipe is very pretty simple and straighforward:

Derek's Pisco Sour Recipe 

(from the September 08 posting of "Cocktail Craze: The Pisco Sour")

2 parts Pisco

1 part lime juice

.75 part simple syrup

one egg white

Shake with very little ice or blend. Top with cinnamon. Note: Other recipes call for a garnish of bitters instead of cinnamon, but Derek says that cinnamon is what they use in Lima.



Buy Campo de Encanto and Vinas de Oro Pisco at K&L Wine Merchants !



Prefer to have the professionals make one for you?  No Problem: there is a lot of Pisco being poured this weekend in San Francisco...

Sat 2/5 9pm-2am @ Cantina  Special Pisco menu and $5 Pisco Sours all night long, plus DJs spinning South American jams and hip hopDetails

Sat 2/5 @ La Mar Cebicheria Peruana   $5 Pisco Sours all day  Details

Sat 2/5 5 pm-1 am, and Sunday, 2/6, 3-9 pm @ Pisco Latin Lounge $5 Pisco Sours all day on Saturday and Sunday, plus $3 beers for those not yet convinced of Pisco's magic.  Details




Encanto Pisco Mustache Brigade Bar Crawl - Starts at La Mar at 5:30, then to 15 Romolo around 7pm, with after-party at Cantina from 9pm till closing. The party at Cantina will feature $5 Pisco Sours and shots of top shelf Pisco de Encanto offered by no other than the man himself, Encanto Co-founder Duggan McDonnell.  Details

Pink Mammoth 7 Year Anniversary - Dance off all those yucca fries tonight @ Mighty for the seventh anniversary of the Pink Mammoth dance music-themed Burning Man camp. There will be an open bar of Vinas de Oro Pisco drinks, plus free food from Skool and Kitchenette. Wacky attire encouraged. $7 before 10:30 if with RSVP!