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Tuesday
Dec222009

Cocktail of the Day: Sazerac

So, of course I made this with Rittenhouse instead (because I love it and I'm going to hoard it now that it's unavailable until February).  This is such a tasty classic cocktail.  I had to make one of these when I was behind the bar at Alembic the other night and I had honestly never made or tasted one before.  I used their formula that night, but this one above is adapted from the Gary Regan recipe:

In a pint glass give 4 hefty dashes of Peychaud's bitters

-add a 1/2 oz of sugar and 1/2 oz of water and stir until the sugar is COMPLETELY dissolved

-add in 2 oz of rye whiskey and fill with ice

-stir 30 times gently

-in a chilled glass pour a bit of absinthe and swirl until it coats the most of the inside

-strain the cockail into the glass and garnish with a lemon peel.

Mmmmmm.....doesn't that hit the spot?

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Dec202009

Holiday Madness!

Well, the liquor department is getting sacked and I'm scrambling here in RWC to do anything I can to plug the holes.  If you're looking for something, call ahead or check the web and buy in advance before you stop buy.  I'm selling whiskies by the case that haven't moved in months.  I keep thinking I have enough of each product in stock and then someone on the internet buys us out and ships it for Christmas presents.  I'm learning how to balance the holiday rush, but I'm not doing a very good job so far.  I apologize to those of you who stopped by thinking, "of course, they'll have plenty of Talisker 10." 

After the rush is over and the New Year has begun, look for a total revamping and expanding of the whole department - starting with cognac, armagnac and mixers.  Stay tuned.  Now that I know how this thing works and it's not a mad panic I think we can really start putting together the best collection in the Bay Area. 

Tonight after we close I'm heading up to Alembic Bar in SF to jump behind the counter and make some drinks for Savoy Cocktail night.  If you haven't seen the book, it's a gargantuan pre-Prohibition cocktail recipe bible that has a whole slew of fancy ingredients that haven't been seen since 1910.  The goal is to be able to recreate any drink in the book.  I'll be there with Alembic bartender Daniel Hyatt and Mr. Savoy Erik Ellestad, who has been going through the manual and making every single recipe in alphabetical order, while documenting the journey with photos and tips.  You can visit him here:

http://www.underhill-lounge.com

Sorry for the lack of updates lately.  We're slammed.  Come have a drink tonight.

-David Driscoll

Sunday
Dec132009

Setting the Pricing Bar

This is not meant to be a gambit towards a larger conversation on competition, but I'd like for most of you to know something about the pricing of spirits (how both it and I work in context).  The assignation of price is most difficult with spirits because it is truly the only distinguishment a retailer can have within this realm - we all can and must buy from the same set of distributors.  Wine, however, is a different ballgame because we can travel and abroad, find small producers, import them, and have exclusivity on their product.  Therefore the chief accomplishment lies in discovery rather than pricing because we are free from any adversary.  Because there are are no unknown whisky distilleries waiting to be discovered, and we couldn't import them if there were, pricing and selection become the criterion - yet, again any store has access to the exact same product as I.  It comes down to how much room you have and how low are you willing to go.  Another factor that I have been enlightened to in my short career as spirits buyer is that being the first retailer to feature a hot new product has its drawbacks - namely, that my competition will find out how successful these spirits are, then merely purchase the same goods and hawk them for a dollar or two less, hoping that you'll head that way in the name of savings.  When we are not the low price leader on something (and unfortunately we cannot always be) it bothers me.  Severely, because I'm not going to play the pricing war game where we keep lowering it meanwhile infuriating the customers who just paid what had been the lowest price.  What happens however is that I get access to many new items before anyone else.  As I try to google them nationally to get an idea of how other retailers are pricing them, in many cases K&L is the first to carry some products and we set the bar.  Then the music hits and the limboing starts and everyone trys to squeeze under it.  Please be aware that we will more often than not match pricing on spirits because of this and if we are seriously missing the competitive mark with our sticker price, I expect you all to let me know. 

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Dec122009

Dry Fly Wheat Whiskey - 2nd Batch Hits Next Week

 

Dry Fly Distillery called me yesterday to thank me for carrying their now-famous gin and vodka, but also to give me my share of their latest whiskey allocation.  I've never tasted the whiskey, but I know that they have people lining up at their place in Spokane at 6 AM to get it (even now in the freezing cold winter!), where they pass out coffee and maple bars to the truly devoted.  It is the first whiskey made in Washington since prohibition and is genuinely unique in other ways as well.  It is comprised of 100% wheat distillate and aged two years in new American oak barrels that have been charred on the inside.  Because it isn't made of mostly corn and does not meet the three year age requirement, it cannot be called bourbon.  It can be called single malt whiskey however, so there you have it.  Dry Fly Washington 100% Wheat Single Malt Whiskey.  The only other domestic bottles that come close to being so rare and different are McCarthy's Oregon Malt (but he buys his barely from Scotland) and Anchor Steam's 100% rye single malts (but they cost an arm and a leg).  The Dry Fly will come in at a cool $52.99.  I'm only getting twelve so make sure you're prepared.

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Dec122009

Glenrothes Gift Packs are Back. Best Sampler EVER.

Everyone's (at least everyone who works at K&L) favorite Speyside producer is back, just in time to impact the torrential holiday shopping season.  This year's sampling has culled the terrific 1985 and 1991 vintage distillations, along with the always superb select reserve blend, in the cutest miniature versions of their unique and atavistic whisky bottles.  For those disconsolate souls keening about the lack of fun and inexpensive gifts for the truest of single malt drinkers, you are bereft no longer.  The Glenrothes is a tried and tested ballast in the Scotch whisky world; a florid and elegant malt that never fails to deliver the goods with any of its bottlings.  For $29.99, it's far more exciting than a 750ml bottle of a comparable price and it's a great way to try out the 1985 before committing to a long-term relationship with it (I've long been married to it - no need for commiseration, it's a great romance). 

-David Driscoll