Sure, for any real trip there is the packing. For some trips, more or more detailed packing. But one trip coming up requires a couple good, well-sealed but re-usable containers for liquid. And thus, I find myself drinking Grolsch so the bottles can be re-purposed for more interesting contents. It’s not my go-to, nor all that high on my list. It’s also not a hardship. For what it is, it’s rather good. It’s the sort of beer that works for “Just gimme a damn beer, damnit.” without being, what’s the word.. oh yes, gawdawful. It’s… well.. boring, but does the job. I suppose it’s kind of like a Camry of beers – not exciting, but quite competent.
There is a very good restaurant a few blocks from home. This place is therefore easily within walking distance, which is good as this place also has a bar. As I work nights, my supper is in the morning and I can walk over and have it served to me. And have a drink or two. Also, I like to bake, but really should not eat the results of that as I’m trying to reduce my tonnage. One gal who works there noted that I brought cakes and brownies to her former workplace (someone I once worked with works there and… things happened) and so I bake something roughly weekly and take it over for the staff.
The folks tending the bar, at least during the day and excluding the owner, tend to be younger and rather less experienced. I found myself furthering their education by explaining how to make even some of the IBA standard cocktails. The classics like the Manhattan*, the Martini*, and even the Old Fashioned. Then there are those more obscure things I order from time to time. Alright, fairly often. More than once a drink (one of the standards) was added to the billing system’s menu after I ordered it.
A few weeks ago I casually mentioned that the selection was good, but it was a shame there was no rye. I do like the Manhattan and while it’s a very forgiving drink and a decent bourbon will do, it’s better (to me, anyway) with rye. The owner took note and I was expecting Jim Beam rye (quite acceptable) or maybe Old Overholt to appear. Nope. Bulleit rye. He wasn’t messing around. And… the bottle remained pointedly unopened until I was there. That was a bit of a surprise.
But last week something happened I really was not expecting and to be honest, I am still boggled by it. I can see the reasoning, but still. I had ordered and guided the bartender through the making of the Jasmine which, as the article relates, tastes rather like grapefruit (without the nasty note I dislike) despite the complete absence of it. As it came time to settle up the owner added another button to the system. It was NOT ‘Jasmine’. It was my button. My name on it. Yeah, just for me. And the price is set a bit low, and even so the instruction was, “Unless it’s something like Johnnie Walker Blue, just use this for him.”
I’m still “picking my jaw up off the floor” when I think about this. Why, yes, I do believe I’ll walk over there a bit later this morning.
* Those tend to have wildly varying ratios and ingredients depending upon the patron’s tastes. I tend to go for the supposed 1940’s ratios, myself.
Winter is finally over, the snow all melted away at last. Summer might not be quite here yet, but a Summer-y cocktail for milder nights can be enjoyed. This one is a variation of the Aviation, but despite the ancestry and the name of the gin, this is not the place for the mild Aviation gin. Something juniper-forward is called for, so Tanqueray is a good choice:
1.5 oz gin (Tanqueray)
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.5 oz creme de violette
0.5 oz lime juice
Shake with ice, strain into champagne flute.
It’s a pleasant fairly light tasting thing with a nice bluish-purple look to it. Add to a mild moonlit night and accompany with Moonlight Cocktail [Glenn Miller].
When it’s yellow. Yes, there is a “Chartreuse Yellow” to go with “Yellow Chartreuse.” Somehow I managed to acquire a bottle of yellow Chartreuse… and have been under the impression I had the chartreuse Chartreuse (green) – for a few years!
There is a list of 100 cocktails to try, put out by a place named Anvil. I’ve slowly worked my way through much of it. The gin cocktails I’ve put off until warmer weather, but the show-stopper for many of the cocktails has been the called-for yellow Chartreuse. Now, I find I had that all along, but in an effort to correct the presumed deficiency, acquired a second bottle. And then saw it was identical to the first. Thus I figured I’d made some mistake and item and shelf-tag mismatched (a sadly common thing). $HOUSEMATE had a trip to where such could be had, so another attempt was made… and now there is another full bottle of the yellow. It was only just now we thought to look up the UPC. I do expect we will go through it, eventually. Certainly the ‘show stopper’ of not having the yellow is now most certainly not an impediment.
But now I find I’m lacking the right, proper, green chartreuse Chartreuse. Which also means everything I made with Chartreuse so far has been off. Perhaps subtly, but still… the recipes call for what they call for for a reason. The not-so-bad part is that finding chartreuse Chartreuse should be easier and not require a 2-hour drive (each way) to acquire. If I’m really lucky, it might even be under one hour each way.
The other upside to this, is after typing this out, I know how to spell chartreuse correctly. It’s from a place in the EU, not the UE, if an aid is needed.
Green Chartreuse UPC: 89744-32961
Yellow Chartreuse UPC: 89744-32956
As I started my exploration of various cocktails, I began to acquire more varied liquors and liqueurs. It’s to the point where if I go out to a bar, I have to remember that they are not likely to be able to mix a good many drinks I take for granted. As an example, there is an excellent restaurant within walking distance that is typically stocked. I can order a Manhattan, an Old Fashioned, a Martini (this is a bit of a surprise – they go through vermouth fast enough the result really is a Martini and not dreck), etc. But not a Negroni – that requires Campari which is not stocked.
My horizons broadened, and my taste improved to where I’ve now been accused of only drinking “top shelf” stuff when, really, I just know when the well stock isn’t good enough and go a step, or even just half a step, up. Now, I do appreciate top shelf stuff, but that is not always called for. An example is the Stinger – it’s pretty much meant to be a way to deal with low-end brandy and thus it would be stupid to make one with a good cognac.
I’d seen cocktail recipes that called for gomme syrup and wondered. It’s not quite simple syrup (which is really just sugar water), but also has gum Arabic/Acacia (gomme being the fancy French version of gum, see). This adds a smoothness or creaminess, so articles claimed. Well, I found one article that went into detail about sources and such and suggested rather than buying expensive “gomme syrup” or expensive food-grade gum Arabic, to get it cheaper, in rather bulk, when it has another claimed purpose: dietary fiber supplement – which means it darn well ought to be food grade. But instead of paying through the nose, it’s about $1 per ounce for a nice big 16 oz. canister.
The trade-off is that Do-It-Yourself gomme syrup is a bit fiddly and takes some time. Fortunately most of that time is “leave it alone for several hours” and nothing truly demanding of attention. Over the last day or so, I made my own gomme syrup. And I’ve run the recommended comparison of two near-identical drinks.
Two Old Fashioneds. Both with the same amount of the same bourbon [Evan Williams, so it’s not a crap low-end thing benefiting from any help it can get. I went with that rather than other choices as I was making TWO stiff drinks and that was lowest proof bourbon at hoof], the same amount of syrup, the same number of dashes of bitters, in identically shaped glasses, each with a set of steel “whiskey balls” for chilling. The only difference was one had simple syrup, the other had the gomme syrup. Now, neither was a bad drink – start with a decent liquor and the Old Fashioned will work just fine. BUT… the simple syrup drink was a bit ‘sharper’ or had more ‘bite’ – nothing objectionable, but it was detectable. The gomme syrup drink was smoother and creamier. I should note, that sampling occurred of each, repeatedly, long before either was fully consumed, so it’s not a “second drink effect” sort of thing going on where each subsequent drink is judged ever less critically than the one before.
My suspicion is that gomme syrup disappeared due to the idiocy known as Prohibition (which never really works – for anything) and that when that ended, simple syrup reigned due to simplicity and anything was better than nothing. And, of course, a Great Depression and the trade limitations that deepened/worsened it, followed by wartime limits on shipping meant that the key ingredient of gomme syrup was expensive or not to be had, after that, inertia. Only relatively recently, with the great cocktail revival, is proper gomme syrup making a return. I do expect I will keep a bottle of simple syrup around, for such cocktails that might have so much going on that gomme might seem a waste, but for any of the classics or just simpler cocktails that call for sweetener, gomme syrup seems to be the way to go.
There are three choices for Chinese dining in $HOOTERVILLE that do not involve pre-packaged meals. One is a grocery store restaurant whose quality varies. After the last try, it became the last try. I hear there is a change in management and so might be persuaded to try again, but not very soon. I want to hear other people saying good things about it first.
Another is a buffet in the local mall. The last time we dined there was due to a gift card for the place. We’d tried the place a few times and it never rose above “almost” and that time it was, after a couple years since our last try, still only almost.
And then there is the place we went to last night, which had been closed for a while. Since the main road to it (and through town) has been undergoing construction (and thus constriction) the timing made some sense. It’s still in the family, we learned, so it sort of has and has not changed hands. We arrived if not late, certainly not early in the evening. This turned out to be advantageous.
With the meal, we had hot tea. Evidently this is not a common choice (or it’s just not that cold out yet). After the meal, we were the only customers there, the fellow who now owns and runs the place offered us a try of his personal tea. Rather than the flowery lighter tea (I think it was a mild jasmine tea) generally served, this was a smooth but unapologetically black tea with no added flavoring. The tea set was interesting: ceramic kettle, ceramic pot, and small metal cups. But the real item of interest was the tea itself. I’m not sure I saw tea in the “brick” (well, brick-like) form before. I know I haven’t had such before. It’s not filtered as such or not fully so, so there can be some leaf fragments in the cup. This puts many off, but we found the amount was so slight it didn’t really matter.
The fellow seemed most pleased to be able to share his tea with us, and have it appreciated. He seemed to have a passion for good tea. And he admitted that it was not “the best” but was affordable. One of the interesting remarks was that in America you generally got value for money. “In China, you can spend a dollar you might get only a few cents worth. In America, you spend a dollar and get a dollar’s worth.” He broke open a “fresh” brick to show us what it was and how to deal with it – and gave us each half of it. I’ve had a bit this morning, prepared in an admittedly utterly slapdash way compared to using the proper tools, but despite that, it’s still smooth, tasty, and fairly potent. I might have let it steep a bit long and used a bit much.
It’s not just the tea. The food was quite good, as we’ve come to expect. That chat with the new owner (even if he not given us the tea) was just the cap of things. We will be going back.
There is a danger, admittedly. It’s not just that the caffeine and thus the tea is addictive. It’s that one develops taste and appreciation and can become a snob about things. This has already happened with coffee for us (I still use the Keurig as it is fast and has consistent results) as we now prefer cold brew or French Press. It has also happened with beer. The adjunct lager of the American “Macrobrews” never had much appeal, but then I started bringing home some better stouts and porters and now even Guinness seems like settling some. A while ago I was asked for the “cheap whiskey” (to wash out a bottle into a slow cooker) and realized we no longer have such a thing. It’s perhaps amazing that we’ve not really cared much about wine. Generally, unless it’s really bad, it’s good enough for us. Anyway, at least the tea is inexpensive. I suspect we might soon be ordering it ourselves.