Stepping it up for 2011 

As you all know we had an insane December.  I've not found anytime to write, but some how Mr. Driscoll pulls it off - honestly I've been exhausted I really don't know how he does it.  Anyway, I'm feeling renewed and refreshed after a completely mind blowing holiday season.  We've got some great news regarding some very special bottles coming in from private collections.  This includes the ridiculously rare Ladyburn 12 year (for a "reasonable" price), Glen Garioch 37 year Bicentennial, very old Dallas Dhu and even older Longmorn.  We'll post all the details as the whisky arrives.  Otherwise, as Driscoll stated in Whisky News 1/4/11, we've selected a new Four Roses Cask.  I'm really excited because we've found another great barrel and it's again a totally different recipe than previous batches.  Each of our three barrels from Four Roses have been completely different and absolutely rockin'!

The Ten Versions of Four Roses Obviously, this was a tough day at the office!  David & I lead a blessed life and would like to thank all of you who make this possible, both on the production and consumption side.  We truly are lucky to be part of this exciting industry, employed by this great company, surrounding by all these amazing people.  Thank you all for making this possible. 

While I was slammed here in LA for most of December, I did find time to frequent a bar that I've been meaning to go to for years.

The Griffin in Atwater Village has a great selection and an unpretentious vibe.  There is a dress code, which is strictly enforced.  I actually saw them turn away a guy in an Ed Hardy t-shirt.  This scores big points in my book (I guess the dress code is "NO ED HARDY" because the guy got right in after flipping his shirt).  Their only problem is the relative indifference to mixing a cocktail properly.  While the staff is attractive and genuine, they are seemingly too cool to put any actual effort into making a proper drink. 

A very boring Old FashionI was shocked to see Rittenhouse Rye behind the bar and equally astounded when I found they only use Martini & Rossi Vermouth.  Luckily for me the bartender used the vermouth like she was making a dry martini, barely a drop of the stuff hit the shaker.  Cold Rittenhouse with a dash of angostura is actually a fine drink. It's just so interesting how bars go half the distance.  Are they trying to save money?  Is it just a lack of knowledge or expertise?  All it takes is one trip to one of LA's (few) top cocktail bars to know what you're missing.  I commend them for having a relatively interesting selection of Single Malts, including some nice bottles from Signatory and many of the big names that are missing at most LA's other bars.

A nice placement from our friends at JVSThey also have some excellent American Whiskies available at reasonable prices.  That's why doing 'partial' bugs me so much.  It's hard enough to find a decent pour in LA, why not go the extra mile?  Buy some proper Vermouth, get some good cherries, teach your bartenders when and how to stir/shake and how to mix some classics properly.  They've already made the investment to carry unique top shelf spirits, if they spent a bit more money on the extras and some training this could be one of LA's best bars.

That's Van Winkle and Stagg!!!Anyway,  as you can see by the selection this a great place to order your drinks neat, skip the shaker.  That's actually a big deal for LA...sad, but true. 

My New Year's resolution was to drink better so just want to rub it in a little.  I spent my New Year's Eve polishing off several bottles Gigondas, Launois Special Club and a bottle of this...

OG New Year's Dinner and 25 Year Pineau

Paul & Marie's 25 Year Pineau Des Charentes is on of the finest desert wines/spirit I've had of any kind at any price range.  Needless to say, I SHOCKED some very experienced drinkers at my table when I pulled this one out.  The freshness is astounding.  The depth of savory and sweet are endless.  A bit of sherry funk.  A racing acidity ties it all together.  Truly one of the finest products ever to pass through my palate.  If you like desert wines at all or thought about buying this even for one second please do it NOW.  We keep saying it cause it's true.  You have to taste this to believe it.  Supplies are very low.  We've got 12 bottles coming into Hollywood this week.  Happy New Year!  Keep drinking better.

-David OG


The Tasting Bar Is Open

As of today liquor retailers all over California can begin applying for a new license that allows them to conduct small tastings of booze in the store.  While this is a welcome reprieve from a zero tolerance party, the law is still very strict and unique in the fact that it requires retailers to work with either a producer or a vendor in order to conduct a tasting.  I'm excited nonetheless because we applied for our license today and hope to be granted permission to begin our events by the end of the month.  Here is what the law stipulates:

- We can hold no more than one tasting per day (shouldn't be a problem)

- We can pour no more than three spirits at any single tasting

- The pours can be no larger than 1/4 oz.

- The tasting must be free to the public

- The producer or vendor must conduct the tasting

Believe me, we are going to be following the law to the strictest accordance.  While I am looking forward to seeing all of you in the store, please understand that we will NOT be pouring refills or winking at you before filling your glass with a 3 oz. pour.  It would be terrible to lose our license so soon after getting it, and believe me, the ABC will be out in force looking for violations.  So, we look forward to having you come by and sample some booze with us in the near future.  I already have vendors lining up, so we should be able to do at least one tasting a week.  I'm thinking Wednesday or Thursday nights for the Redwood City store from 5 - 6:30 PM.  Free whiskey is a great way to start off 2011, don't you think?

-David Driscoll



My co-worker Zach asked me today if I had ever made a gin martini with Laphroaig instead of vermouth.  "Huh?" was all I could muster in reply.  He told me to try coating the glass in peaty Islay scotch instead of dry vermouth for a gin martini that pops.  I couldn't wait to get home and try it.  2 oz. North Shore gin and a glass coated with Ardbeg Rollercoaster.  What would happen?  Would it taste smoky and overpower the gin?

While I was stirring, however, I remembered how Zach had explained that the peaty rinse just helps the gin to really sing, rather than add any real smoke to the flavor.  Could the North Shore taste any brighter and more expressive than it normally did?  Almost there!

Look at that gin hit the glass and mesh with that spicy Ardbeg! Ohhh.....I'm getting thirsty.

The result?  Nothing more than a really good gin martini!  Don't expect the smoke to change the flavor of the gin, but, just as Zach said, the flavors do seem to pop more than they usually do.  I'm going to have to make another one without the Ardbeg just to see if it really makes that big of a difference.  However, I'm probably going to do this every time from now on anyway.  I don't normally use vermouth, so adding any other substance is big adjustment for me, but I can see how the spice really kicks in a bit more.  Try it yourself and see if it makes a difference to you.  All credit to Zach Smith for this one.

-David Driscoll


New Year's Resolutions

I've always been a big fan of New Year's Day more so than the Eve.  Last night I drank a bottle of Bruno Michel Rosé and fell asleep on the couch long before midnight.  As not one, but two people told me today: New Year's Eve is amateur hour.  The real drinkin' is done on a daily basis, not one special occasion.  However, being as prone to the Apollonian/Dionyisian extremes as I am, I enjoy the radical excess followed by the chance to come clean and completely bounce back to the healthy side of the spectrum.  It's probably like what Catholics experience with confession, but having no religious background I wouldn't know.  In any case I've vowed to make 2011 the year when I add more meaty filler to the "Spirits Journal."

One thing I'd like to add is more restaurant reviews for the Bay Area, so resolution #1 is to show pictures of delicious cusine like the Chicago style pizza I enjoyed yesterday from Paxti's pizza.  I read on SFGate that it had been voted better than East Bay legend Zachary's and SF mainstay Little Star, so having never ventured in I decided to hit up the Palo Alto locale.  It's really good.  I consider myself somewhat of an authority on Bay Area pizza, having taken the time to eat at just about every parlor, and Paxti's is up there for me.  Very good sauce and great beer on tap.  A real winner.

Books are another subject I'd like to tackle every now and then - food or booze related that is.  I read a good amount and there are some very useful resources out there for those of us who like to consume.  I think that Julia Roberts would have been much better in this version.  The backflap sounded amazing.

-David Driscoll



Week In Review #3

By the way, we finally have an RSS feed on the right hand side at the bottom of the menu if you want to keep current with the updates.  Happy New Year!