Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spice Tree 1.0

John Glaser is a legend! Full stop. You know him, he's the dude that makes those triple-tasty Compass Box Whiskys! Anyway, in 2005 he blended some malts together, put them in a barrel, and added more wood to it to increase surface area -thus increasing flavour - and gave birth to Spice Tree. A year or so later, the Scotch Whisky Foundation (SWA) told him it was illegal to sell it as 'scotch' because of the addition wood - regardless of how good it tasted - old pricks. The inaugural batch was marked, and bottled. All 4150 of them. I was lucky enough to own bottle 4150 of 4150, of that inaugural batch. The last drops! Since then John has released a new Spice Tree than conforms with regulations but for me, the first 'forbidden' Spice Tree will always be king.

Not many places still sell the first Spice Tree. I know I bought a few bottles for Milk & Honey when it became illegal so they might be your best bet for some of this fine, albeit nearly extinct hooch.

If you see it, I highly recommend you do what I did last night and drinktheshitoutofit. It's the boozy equivalent to eating Panda nuggets.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Milk & Honey London

Is occurs to me that my last blog had nothing to do with booze. Sorry about that. I guess when you call your blog "drinktheshitoutofit", it should have a general theme of alcohol. That brings me to today's blog. I was going to write about the great work the Jap's (Can I say that??) are doing with their whisky's, but I then stumbled upon a facebook group called "The Thinking Bartender". I like it. In particular, I like the discussion section. It's a good place for bartenders to share recipes and drink ideas. A good way of bringing the global bartending community into the same room.

I then found a thread on Milk & Honey, London. My old bar! One I worked at with industry greats such as Fraser Chapman, Phil Duffy, David Hobbs and Jonathan Cowley. Guys who are totally committed to making perfect drinks every time. The thread, dare i say it, pissed me off. I'm all for free speech, but if you are going to start a thread slagging off a bar, back it up with some facts. Or at the very least go there more than once. I had to retort. Click here to read the thread. You may have to join to join the group to read it. You should anyway, it's good.

I'm sure it's founder, George Sinclair - also the starter of this thread - is a nice guy. In fact we already have 30-something mutual face-friends. So no offence homie! I just get a bit uppity when people get 'all-up-in-my-shit' with places myself and peers put alot of work into.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baby Baby Baby

Justin Bieber. You heard of him? No? Either did I until this morning. I woke up and tuned into a French music video show. Justin's new song "Baby" was playing. You see Justin is the new breed of teen dreamboats taking the world - or at least the U.S and France - by storm. I'm not going to give a complete biography on this love-troubled Canadian native, just let you know the crux of how this kid got famous. Basically the poncy-twat started uploading his own karaoke videos onto youtube a couple of years ago as a 13 y.o soul singing prodigy. This caught the eye of a SoSoDef marketing exec who flew him to Atlanta and signed him immediately. "Baby" is the culmination of two years of manipulating, commercial moulding, and fringe growing. The song it self does what any good pop song does, It stays in your head. It also racks up an impressive 55 'baby's!! Much more than Aaron Carter or Hanson could ever hope for.

I'm not quite sure where I stand on this manufactured pop-crap that takes over our airwaves. I think music is made for two main reasons. To express one's art through musical ability, their voice, and or instrument. But it also must exist to purely entertain. Sure enough it's manufactured, altered, and then polished squeaky clean to a Disney-worthy shine, but it's catchy. So leave it alone. I mean without this 'pop-crap' our record collections would all be without anything from Motown or Kylie or Elvis. The majority of all the songs from The Temptations, The Four-tops, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5 were pretty much all written by the same three guys. In fact the similarly named Supreme's hit "Baby Love" *12 'baby's* was written by the Holland-Dozier-Holland hit machine.

Let me go on record by saying I don't actually like this kids music. However, I am making a stand to myself to never be one of those people who 'hate' music just because the artist or band has not come from playing dingy clubs in front of no one for 8 years, or busking in the rain from the age of three. Let this kid have his 15 minutes I say. You never know one day one of my karaoke videos might catch the eye of a high powered exec and I could be the next singing about how my first love broke my

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A long run..

I ran the Annecy marathon on Sunday. I'm not going to go on about how it was the hardest thing i've ever done or how much pain i'm still in now. My rant today is about the amount of men wearing tights. Why? I understand they work in the same way a pair of thermals would. Keeping you warm whilst keeping the blood circulating through your legs. But come on! Put some goddam shorts over them *Note: Shorts over tights = strong look*. I don't need to be running behind the silhouette of your ass for 42k's. Everywhere I looked I saw either the new generation of runners who feel the homo-erotic need to wear painted-on clothing, or perhaps even worse, the old generation who feel the need to wear running shorts that come half-way up there 64 year old ass cheek. Don't you stretch in front of me!! This sort of male sportswear needs to be outlawed immediately. There i'm done.

By the way the race went well-ish. I felt really strong after the first half clocking in 1:53.08. Then hit a wall at about the 27k stage. Up to 37k's it becomes all mental. The pain in the lower half of my body was the worst pain i've ever felt, it really was, and i've seen "Legally Blond the Musical". I didn't even notice the bleeding nipple that had been chaffing for the past 2 hours until after the race. I completed my goal of beating 4hrs and clocked in a impressive first marathon time of 3:58.06. I have to give a shout out to Jay-Z for helping me through the toughest stage of the race with your excellent rhyming skills. Strong work. Also massive shout out to the beautiful town, and their people in Annecy. Good luck with your winter Olympic bid in 2018. Elliot, my training partner, great work on your own marathon PB of 3:50. I'm coming for 'ya.

After the race I chose to celebrate in true bartender style and drink the shit out of some Absinthe mixed with blue Powerade. I recommend drinkingtheshitoutofit highly..

Friday, April 16, 2010

New beginnings...again.

I booked my tickets to New York today. Albeit exciting, I'm always quite scared when attempting a new move to a foreign land. Not that there will be anything foreign about it. After spending time living as far as China, and France I'm quite used to culture shocks. As well as this I'm told there's something strangely familiar about every corner of NY from all the times it's been immortalised in my favourite films.

I'm scared because I am human, and humans are afraid of change. I like having a base; friendship and domiciles included. I also know every time I have moved to a new city or town I have learnt something from it. The move to France wasn't one completely based on a great job offer. It was one based around learning new skills, a woman and throwing myself at the other end of shallow. Have I enjoyed my time in France? Not always. Have I developed as a person, and become better for it? Definitely.

To anyone thinking of making a significant change; You know deep down whether that decision will be better off for you. Don't let short-term depression, home-sickness or un-familiarality stop you. It WILL enhance you as a person.


wow, that was all a bit serious. Here's a joke for you kids..

A guy walks into a bar and asks if they serve woman, the bartender crosses his head and replies; "Sorry you have to bring your own"

until next time..

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cheap Beer

Following on from my belief there is nothing to do in a one-horse town like Chamonix other than ski. There actually is one single horse that sits in the middle of town. I decided to spend my evening off with, friends cooking a leg of lamb, drinking some fine wine and concluding it with a study of the cheapest beers available to Season-aires, in France.

It’s one of those tough decisions every Season-aire has to make multiple times per week. Which beer is going to get me drunk for the least amount of money, whilst still retaining taste, aesthetics, and a cool-factor? The decision is usually fairly easy in London. When I walk into my local off-license to pick up my 6 cans for a fiver, I have a choice of Heineken, Fosters, Red Stripe, Kronenbourg, Stella, and Carling. If I am lucky enough to be East Acton you can throw the Polish favourite Lekk in there as well. All the cans are 50cl. All are sitting between 4.7%, to 5.0% A.B.V. They all taste like generic, ‘made in 48 hours’ lagers, so I go for the one which makes me look cooler - Red Stripe. In Chamonix the decision is made all the harder as not all beers here taste the same. They are not the same strength, and they are most certainly never in the same size vessel. So nine beers were chosen, ranging in price from the Supermarche’s home brand Kellegen at €0.39 a 33cl can, to the pricey SuperUmarkets 75cl Biere de Garde at €1.95. Beers were judged on five factors including aesthetics, alcohol level, price, taste and a bonus three points awarded to those who had the ability get you intoxicated enough to sleep with Ellen DeGeneres. Points combined from the three judges were marked to a grand total of 69 points (How appropriate). All of the scores were arranged in a tidy little spreadsheet arranged by my computer-savvy receptionist, and fellow judge, Elliot. To the results!

In last position the pricey, tourist favourite Mont Blanc Violet beer (€1.39 per 33cl) came in with a poultry 19 out of 69. Closely followed by the horrible tequila, cachaca and guarana infused Desperados Red. To the winners and in third place the humble bottle of Kronenbourg 1664 took the honours (45/69). It impressed judges with it’s higher than average ABV (5.5%), iconic labelling, and decent enough value for money (€0.63 ea). Second place also went to the Kronenbourg brewery with its Kronenbourg Selection. (49/69) – otherwise known as ‘posh-Kronnie’ - This beer won esteem from judges for it’s aesthetics, great taste and for at least two of the judges, it’s ability to get you drunk enough to sleep with Ellen. This brings us to the winner..*drum roll please* The winner – by a single point – was Red Bavaria (50/69). Besides being applauded for it’s high A.B.V (7.9%), this beer won points from judges for it’s cracking toasted barley taste, ‘silver-bullet’ packaging, and brilliant value-for-money (€1.20 per 50cl can). A worthy winner! All the results can be seen below..

Oh yeah, by the way! We also drank a cracking bottle of 2004 Chateau Pontesac, to wash down a triple-tasty leg of Anchovy, black-olive, garlic and rosemary-studded lamb I’d prepared. Thanks to my chef at work for the recipe. Slow cooked and basted for 75 minutes and finished off with a sprinkling of Gremolata (fine parsley, lemon peel, and garlic). A side of goose-fat spuds, peas and baked aubergine made this meal one to remember.

I best get out of bed now. I need to deal with this hangover. A coffee and a trip to the Boulangerie is in order. Crusty baguette with left over Lamb, Dijon and rocket for breakfast me thinks. Viva la France..

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Seasonaire

For the best part of five months I have been living in a town where the only thing to do is to ski or snowboard. Forget about discotheques, skittles, ginger beer and all the other things associated with big cities. This is what people are here to do. It doesn't matter what job you do, what you get paid, what you eat. As long as you can buy your beer, pay your rent you can ride all day. This is the life of a Seasonaire.

The Seasonaire is a peculiar and curious creature. One who can freely devote a period of up to six months of their life to living without personal luxuries I personally could not. OK, so perhaps some of these people do not hold in high regard the things I could not live without. Extra virgin olive-oil, Jamon Iberico, duck fat, Japanese whisky all come to mind. These people can easily live a life of minimalistic satisfaction. Am I envious of this simplistic ability to not be reliant on material pleasures? No. I like having money to spend on nice meat and wine that's not from a cask. (Sorry, very Un-Australian of me there...Goon. That's better.) At the same time I admire these people for being able to live out a life dream. The life of a nomadic wave catcher in summer, powder-plowers in winter. Sounds great on paper doesn't it? Anyway, good on you kids for doing what you love. For me, I'm going to continue spending my wage on delicious left-bank Bordeaux's and legs of Lamb in the big smoke.

I'm going to finish today's blog with a cocktail recipe that has been selling like hot cakes here at my bar, The Clubhouse, this winter. Being incredibly sick of seeing Vin Chaud (mulled wine) on every corner here in the Alps I decided to take the humble bottle of dry cider and p.i.m.p it up a wee bit in a mulled cider sty-lee.. For my southern hemisphere friends the season in almost upon you to dust off your coffee steamers in preparation for some hot drinks. For my friends in London, well, it's always bloody cold so have one of these anyway. Hope you enjoy..

Apple-Apple-Apple-Absinthe Toddy

3cl Calvados
5cl Dry Cider
3cl Cloudy Apple Juice
1.5cl Runny-Honey
1cl French Absinthe
Fingernail of Unsalted butter

Heat with steaming wand on coffee machine

Garnish with grated cinnamon. Drinktheshitoutof..

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The First Blog...

Blogging is for the self-absorbed. A way to vomit your opinions on the masses without them actually having to 'listen' to you. Sure enough if an opinion is worth hearing i'd subscribe to that particular blog. Like my good friend from home - Adi Ruiz's- blog. *Enter first plug* This guy is intelligent, handsome, great at what he does, and an excellent writer. His opinions on food and drink are well researched, well written and at times humorous. Go read it now...actually not yet...after this. He is not self-absorbed.

I on the other hand am. I am not the best of writers, and I PROMISE you I will hardly ever research any of my blogs. I will however, endeveour to be funny, honest, and always handsome. I have no clue what the theme of my first blog is to be about so I will survey the room and it's surroundings and rant at will. "I HATE YOU, WILL!" ...Sorry, bad gag..

So here I am, sitting down after a moderately busy Saturday night shift, gin martini in hand. *how stereotypically bartender-ish* Here I go.. title of first blog THE MARTINI.

How do you have yours? I'm assuming if you are reading this you already know me and are probably in the bar industry. You must have a penchant for cold gin and vermouth, and you probably make it the same way for customers the same way you drink it. I like mine 2 to 1 with orange bitters (fee's pleeze). Excuse me on factoids, but as far as i know this is the style associated with the Delmonico hotel (Circa 1910). - Don't bother looking this up - You will find drinks with brandy and Italian vermouth- Wrong. People liked the taste of gin and vermouth back in the day and for a reason. Vermouth was always being poured, meaning, always fresh, always tasty. Try one of these NOW, fuck it. It's makes for -what i believe a tastier- and better drink. It's also better for bar's G.P's. Dry martini be gone...

Delmonico *style Martini

5cl Gin (Something dirty and Junipery...Tanq/Gordons/Junipero)
2.5cl French (Prat)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Anything orange-y, not clove-y...fee's is good)

Stir until ice cold.

Serve up, unadorned. Drinktheshitoutofit.