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Beer Of The Month Club: July 2009

For my birthday, one of my buddies got me a membership to the C&H Beer Of The Month Club, giving me a twelve-pack of microbrews from different breweries around the country every month. This month: Flying Dog’s Kerberos Tripel, Herold Brewery’s Bohemian Black and Granät Lagers, and Boulder Beer’s Flashback Anniversary Ale.


The Crawl: St. Pauli, 7/28

  • WEEKNIGHT: Tuesday
  • HOOD: St. Pauli, Hamburg
  • BARS HIT: Lehmitz, Der Clochard, Night Light
  • ODDITIES: Overzealous Irishmen waving double-ended dildoes
  • LEVEL OF INEBRIATION: Jolly to blackout

            Hamburg, second largest city in Germany, is a dirty old town. Mostly a dock city, it is a place full of beautiful architecture and attractive prostitutes. And there is no neighborhood in Hamburg—and most of the world—more filthy and vice-ridden than St. Pauli (the beer is a lie—the women here are neither jolly nor beer-laden). But Alex and I had one night left until the Wacken Open Air festival, the world’s largest heavy metal concert, and so we figured hey, let’s spend a night hopping around Hamburg’s metal bar scene and walking along the infamous Reeperbahn, along with the helpful insights of my new favorite website, Horns up, thumbs tucked, we went.



The Crawl: Williamsburg, 7/16/09

: Thursday

HOOD: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

BARS HIT: Spuyten Duyvil, Duff’s Brooklyn, Royal Oak

ODDITIES: Bourbon Stout, Jesus Juice



Some nights, stupidity is the only draught that you can stomach. Last Thursday, I decided that I not only had to go out drinking, but I had to do so in a number of places, and do so to the point that I was a complete fucking moron. I enlisted the help of Crux, Alex, and James for the evening, deciding that if stupidity was the name of the game, I should roll with my closest and strongest crew. Hey, if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.


Chinese Death Liquor: A Quick Lesson In Baijiu

You’re not really a drunk until you’ve tried Baijiu. Oh sure, you’ve tasted some peaty scotches and poisonous gins in your time, and you may have taken the occasional pull of 151 from a bottle in a paper bag, but it’s not until the acrid flavor of China’s best export hits your tongue that you really enter lush-hood. This shit tastes like socks with AIDS and will make you want to murder your meth dealer. It will strip paint from the side of your garage. It will turn even the most pickled of imbibers into pale-faced pieces of overripe fruit. This liquor doesn’t get consumed so much as it fucks your throat.

My first taste of the liquid regret known as Baijiu took place in March of 2008, when my sister and I visited my brother, Quin, in Beijing, where he was living as a reporter. Quin had laid out a spread for us upon arrival—a few hours after landing, I was swilling half a case of reduced-proof Chinese beer and eating the best Kung Pao Chicken I’ve ever had—and part of that spread were multiple bottles of beautiful clear liquor in official-looking bottles, which Quin told us was Erguoto, the most basic form of Baijiu produced en masse by the Red Star company and twice distilled (the word ‘Erguoto’ means “head of the second pot”). A tall bottle of this 56%-alcohol-by-blahblahblah aperitif goes for about 10 Chinese Yuan, approximately $1.46. In Beijing, it is bought at any corner deli.

Say what you want about the Chinese government—those motherfuckers know how to keep their people down.

According to Quin, there are three things you should know about Baijiu: first, don’t smell it before you drink it. It’ll put your stomach off (yeah, now you’re getting it). Second, try not to inhale immediately after drinking, as the fumes from the liquor can make you dizzy and lightheaded. Third, have a chaser. Water is good, but even better is spicy food. Slug some Baijiu and pound some chili-tossed tofu, and the world is yours

I do not tout myself as a booze connoisseur of any sort; I love strange exotic liquors, but I also love getting bombed on Old Grandad. I find pleasure in both classy and degenerate drunks. But that’s the beauty of Baijiu—it’s both! Yes, you’re drinking from a strangely shaped bottle with a Chinese label, but you’re also getting polluted on liquor that tastes like a mixture of fermented taint sweat and tears shed in a tenement building. Last night, I had my first “nice Baijiu.” I was excited; with some perspective, perhaps I could be a Baijiu snob (making me double-cool!). After two sips of Wuliangye (according the Quin, a “Black Label-level” Baijiu), I realized that it was all a lie. Pricey Baijiu is like Norman Bates—it might be well bred, but it’s still going to fucking kill you.

If you want to experience drunken nirvana, ask for a bottle of Erguoto Baijiu (‘AR-gwoah-toe BYE-jyo’) at any liquor store in Chinatown, or look for a green vase-like bottle with a red, white, and blue label. You’ve been warned.


Still here, just been busy. What with?

  • England – big notes on CAMRA coming up
  • Boozecouncil Senate Meeting, including the Cheap Beer Challenge 2009
  • Work
  • Drinking
  • Canada has a thing called “Spruce Beer” but they hid it in Québec
  • Drinking
  • This:




Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday

This month, Chuck over at Looka!/The Gumbo Pages is hosting Mixology Monday. And he’s chosen a topic nearly as dear to my heart as gin: amaro.

I do love the Italian bitter liqueurs. I took to Campari immediately upon my first taste, and ordered it over ice every afternoon during a week in the Cinque Terre. Upon my return to Oakland, I started mixing Negroni and Jasmines.

This is a lovely cocktail from Kelley Swenson, head bartender at Ten 01 (in Portland, Oregon). It’s been on and off the drink card at Ten 01 over the past year, depending on the season, and remains a favorite of mine. Two different amaros seems surprising, but the result displays Kelley’s deft hand with bitters.

Cryptic Memo
1½ oz rye
1oz Ramazzotti amaro
¾oz Campari
Garnish with a strip of lemon peel.

Sweet Christmas!

Last night I finally mixed a Black Manhattan. This is a whiskey and amaro drink that was developed at Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco. I’d seen the recipe (published in the Washington Post in July 2008), but was a little worried that it would taste too hot, as the Averna has about twice as much alcohol as the vermouth it would replace. But once I inhaled the aroma of the finished cocktail my concerns were dissuaded.

beer in cocktails?

Paul Clarke (who blogs at The Cocktail Chronicles) wrote a Friday drinks article in the San Francisco Chronicle on the inclusion of beer in cocktails. This is on the use of beer as a cocktail component in its own right, not a reduction1 or a chaser. The most telling passage is this paraphrased statement from Eben Freeman2, “just as Champagne lends a way to add effervescence to a drink without watering it down3, beer contributes many of the same properties, with the added benefit of a world of new flavor options”.

Paul described Eben’s Blood and Sand variation, which includes the Belgian cherry lambic Echt Kriek. Based on little information other than the substitute of kriek for Cherry Herring, I decided to try it4. The result was a beautiful long drink that had all of the flavor of the cocktail.

a quantity of the Coffee Cocktail

I was introduced to the Coffee Cocktail at an Oregon Bartenders’ Guild event last April. David Wonderich, the author of a biography-cum-cocktail book on the pioneering 18th Century bartender Jerry Thomas, presented stories from that book with drinks. One of these was a brandy, port, and egg cocktail that I found delicious. Called the Coffee Cocktail for its color, but it has no coffee at all. Actually it is an opaque brown-purple color, and noticeably thick. It is similar to eggnog in mouthfeel and tastes of raisins.

general aviation

Along with a gallon of eggnog for New Year’s Eve, I prepared a couple bottles of pre-mixed cocktails and a half-gallon of an old Colonial drink called the Coffee Cocktail.

Pre-mixing cocktails is a party trick that I’ve been using this year for house parties. It requires much less attention from the social bartender during the event, allowing more time for me to mingle with guests. But since we love the festive sound of the cocktail shaker, I batch a few cocktails for shaking over ice. For the last night of the year, I did two bottles of the Aviation Cocktail and one bottle of the Lion’s Tail.