An Interesting Look at European Wages in the Universal Currency of Beer

With all the different currencies and costs of living, the value of the minimum wage can be difficult to understand.  The obvious solution that has so long eluded economists?  Measure it in beer!  The above graphic depicts the number of beers that can be bought in each European country based on the minimum wage and national costs of beer.  The clear winner?  Belgium, with a staggering 1028 beers per month.  For more details, checkout the original article.

Posted in Beer

How to Make the Klondike, or a fitting cocktail for Discovery’s new tv show.

The Klondike Cocktail

The Klondike CocktailWell the reviews are in, and after the first episode, there seems to be a strong divide between those who think Discovery Channel’s newest show “Klondike” is either pure gold or still hunting for it.  One thing everyone should be able to agree on is the perfect drink for the show:  something a bit old, something involving whiskey, and most importantly something absolutely delicious.  From the classic Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, comes the perfect cocktail, the Klondike.

The Klondike
  • 2 oz Makers Mark
  • 2 oz Vermouth
  • ginger ale
  • (optional) garnish with an orange wedge

Pour the Maker’s Mark  and vermouth over ice into a Collins glass.  Top off with ginger ale and stir till chilled.  Garnish with an orange wedge and serve.  For a fun and slightly unexpected twist, I recommend replacing the vermouth with fresh squeezed orange juice (if that isn’t available, any brand that isn’t made from concentrate will fit the bill sufficiently).  I saw this adaption on Difford’s Guide, and although this cocktail boasts a hefty dose of whiskey, the orange juice and ginger ale tone down the tones of the whiskey a bit making this drink enjoyable for even those poor souls who don’t normally like the taste of whiskey.  While the adapted orange juice version is fruitier and hides the whiskey, I personally prefer the nuance in the original Klondike.  Make both and see which you prefer!

Although Maker’s Mark is the brand of choice for this cocktail, it is actually not my favorite option.  When recipe’s call for Maker’s Mark, they most often simply mean that you should use a wheated bourbon (ie a bourbon distilled from a mash containing a lot of wheat).  Weller Special Reserve and Weller Antique 107 are both available for around $20 or less, and Weller 12 Year is right around the same price point of Maker’s Mark ($25-30).  If you can get a hold of a bottle, Weller 12 Year makes for a great experience that will elevate this simple cocktail to a new level.  Happy sipping and enjoy the show!

Total cost per drink? ~$1.35

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Posted in Bourbon, Cheap Cocktails, Vermouth, Whiskey

Technically Saturday: Your Guide to Types of Beer

Although this blog doesn’t often discuss beer, it is occasionally used in the cocktails.  Talking about beer as though it is all the same is just about as oblivious as assuming that every distillery that produces whisk(e)y,  be it in America, Canada, Ireland, Japan or Scotland is exactly the same.  Only beer is even a bit more complicated than that.  There are seemingly countless types of beer, and it can be difficult to get a grasp on them all, but I stumbled upon a great resource the other day that gives a great  short description of each type of beer.  I grabbed a quick screenshot of types of beer and encourage you to learn more over at the great beer blog The Perfectly Happy Man.  They also have some fantastic beer photographs and a large database of craft beer reviews.  Enjoy!

Types of Beer

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Posted in Beer, Technically Saturday

Sunday Funday: The Golden Globes, or Another Excuse for Mixing Booze and Bubbly

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Tonight marks the celebration of the best 2013 had to offer in terms of film and television: the 71st Golden Globes!  Unlike the formality of the Oscars, the Golden Globes is a boisterous party filled with drunken actors, producers, directors, and other cast members.  So what type of drinks are good for the occasion?  How about continuing what we left off on New Years and keep on mixing spirits with bubbly in these two great cocktails!

The Negroni SbagliatoThe Negroni Sbagliato
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Sweet Red Vermouth
  • 1 oz Sparkling Wine
  • (optional) garnish with an orange wheel

Fill a rocks glass with ice and pour in the Campari, vermouth and sparkling wine. Gently stir until mixed.  Garnish with an orange wheel and serve.  The name of this drink translates from the Italian to “the bungled negroni” and it gets its name from substituting the sparkling wine in for the original gin in a classic negroni.  Despite the name, there is absolutely nothing inferior about this cocktail and it magnificently blends the pungent bitterness from the Campari with the subtle sweetness of the sparkling wine into a masterpiece.  Sure to please even the most discerning drinker, it is a drink best sipped slowly and savored right up until you make yourself another one.

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The Classic BarbotageThe Classic Barbotage
  • 1/2 oz Cognac (or other Brandy)
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
  • 4 oz Sparkling Wine
  • garnish with an orange twist

Pour the cognac and orange liqueur into the bottom of a champagne flute.  Swirl or stir till mixed,  then top off with chilled sparkling wine.  Garnish with an orange twist and serve.  This drink was created in France and like many cocktails from the 1800s, was first developed as a cure.  A rather useful cure in fact as it is targeted to cure the common hangover.  In fact the cocktail’s name means either “bubbly” or “spinal anesthesia.”  The best part of this cocktail however isn’t its curing abilities, but rather it’s flavor – subtle orange notes with the strength of cognac and the lightness of champagne.  It is a drink which is perfect for toasts and equally enjoyable whether sipped or downed quickly.  If you have one, you are bound to have another, so you better get started on that first one!

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Posted in Brandy, Cheap Cocktails, Cognac, Dollar Drinks, Liqueur, Sparkling Wine, Sunday Funday, Vermouth

How to Make a Hot Toddy, or the Workhorse of Winter Cocktails

How to Make the Hot Toddy, National Hot Toddy  DayIt’s National Hot Toddy Day!  But actually, look it up, it’s a thing.  The hot toddy is a wonderfully versatile hot drink which can be served with almost every imaginable booze and hot drink combination.  To get our footing, the following is a great simple recipe for the hot toddy on which many variations can be made to taste.

The Basic Hot Toddy
  • 2 oz Spirit
  • 0.5 oz honey
  • 6 oz hot water

Mix all ingredients in a mug and stir with a cocktail spoon until the honey has fully dissolved. Garnish with whatever you like – I love to garnish the basic hot toddy with a small mint sprig or citrus wheel.  Hot toddies were developed sometime in the early 18th century in Scotland.  While no one remembers exactly why it was created, historians believe that the recipe was designed to make the taste of scotch whisky more palatable, especially for women.  The  word “toddy” has been suggested to have evolved from “Tod’s well”, the historic water supply for the city of Edinburgh.  The hot toddy quickly became a cold weather favorite and grew more popular as the spirits used diversified.

From here, the possibilities are endless and you can begin to see how much of a workhorse the hot toddy truly is.  Almost any spirit can be used if utilized in the right combination with the hot liquid, although brandy, rum and whiskey are the standard choices.  And the hot liquid choices are equally vast.  Want a bit more flavor?  Try tea, coffee, cocoa, or apple cider.  (My grandmother insists that hot toddy’s need to be made with warm coke, so really anything is possible.)  Want to enhance the cocktail a bit?  Try different sweeteners (sugar, maple syrup, agave…), lemon, bitters, spices, butter…really anything that you can think of is worth a try.  Want to make a hot toddy for a cold or the flu?  Add some cinnamon sticks and cloves to the basic recipe to soothe your throat, clear your sinuses, and relieve a stuffy head. The hot toddy is great drink for every winter occasion and is well worthy of celebrating today on National Hot Toddy Day!

Total cost per drink? ~$0.78

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Posted in Bourbon, Brandy, Canadian Whiskey, Cognac, Dollar Drinks, Gin, Irish Whiskey, Moonshine, Rum, Rye, Scotch, Tequila, Vodka, Whiskey

How to Make Irish Hot Chocolate, or Drinking Warm Booze as not to Freeze!

How to Make Irish Hot ChocolateWith most of the US pretending it is Alaska, the weather is far too cold for just your average cocktail.  We need something served hot, something delicious, and something with more than your average share of booze.  The perfect drink for this occasion, without a question, is Irish Hot Chocolate.

Irish Hot Chocolate
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces Bailey’s or other Irish cream liqueur
  • 4 ounces Irish whiskey
  • (optional) garnish with marshmallows

Unlike most of the cocktails we have covered in this blog, this drink is easiest to make in a large batch and also takes a bit of time, but is well worth the effort.  Begin by boiling down the Guinness over high heat in a small saucepan until there is only 1/2 cup remaining.  Once reduced, set aside.  Mix the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, milk, and chocolates over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Stir until the mixture  is hot and the chocolate has been fully blended.  Remove from heat and stir in the Irish cream, the reduced Guinness, and the Irish whiskey (in that order).  Serve in a mug and garnish with a marshmallow.

Good chocolate, like good spirits, doesn’t come cheap.  The type of chocolate used in this recipe will determine not only the flavor but also the overall cost.  The good news is that this is some seriously rich hot chocolate, think of it as a cross between hot cocoa and drinking chocolate.  In terms of the spirits used, bailey’s is good, but I honestly prefer Carolan’s Irish Cream.  Not only is it a lot cheaper, but it is slightly sweeter, which helps take away any of the bitterness of the cocoa.  Whatever choices you make in terms of chocolate and spirits, this drink is sure to put a smile on your face and warm you up just enough to make you want another mug.

Total cost per drink? ~$2.36

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Posted in Beer, Cheap Cocktails, Irish Whiskey, Liqueur

Sunday Funday Brunch Special: How to Make the Perfect Mimosa!

Brunch Special How to Make the Mimosa Buzz's FizzThere are few things that compliment a hearty brunch or morning after a night of heavy drinking than the refreshing mimosa.  Mimosas offer a much needed burst of vitamin c and a sparkling reviving drink that will help you wake up and enjoy your meal.  Some may think the simplicity of adding a splash of orange juice to a flute of champagne, and for you I have a special recipe that brings this classic to a new level.  The perfect mimosas, with a new spark of heightened flavors and the same revitalizing effects.

The Perfect Mimosa
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier (or other orange liquor)
  • 4 oz Champagne or other sparkling wine
  • 2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Pour the  orange liqueur and bitters into a shaker with a little ice, then squeeze in the fresh orange juice.  Gently stir until thoroughly mixed.  Strain into a champagne flute and top off with the champagne.   If you care a little bit less about a perfect cohesion of the different ingredients, you can also prepare this cocktail directly in the flute.  Like the champagne, the orange liqueur used is a matter of taste and budget.  It will add not only a bit more kick, but also a lot of flavor to the drink.  Because of this, Grand Marnier is often chosen for its unique blend of flavors in addition to the orange base.  I am personally a huge fan of Solerno Blood Orange liqueur, which can be found as cheap as $18/fifth despite its $40MSRP.  The Solerno is superb, especially if combined with fresh blood orange juice in the mimosa itself.  It is also less well known than Grand Marnier and offers a lovely twist on the classic orange liqueur.

Mimosas have been around for a while.  The origin of the mimosa is a subject of some speculation, but it is likely that it was invented at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in around 1925. British sources maintain that they were the first to invent a version of the drink, the Buck’s Fizz, which was then stolen by a french bartender and renamed the Mimosa, after the flower with a bright orange-yellow blossom native to southern Mexico and Central and South America.  No matter which version of story as in fact true, the important part is that if you are in the US, you should order a mimosa.  And if in Britain, you want to order a Buck’s Fizz to accompany your weekend brunches.

Total cost per drink? ~$1.86

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Posted in Celebration Drinks, Cheap Cocktails, Liqueur, Sparkling Wine, Sunday Funday

Technically Saturday: How to Make Honey Whiskey at Home!

How to Make Honey Whiskey at Home

For those who are a fan of flavored whiskey’s, cinnamon and honey are the two kings.  While cinnamon whiskey offers a great burn and burst of flavor, honey whiskey presents a smooth sweetness that is hard to beat.  In a previous post I discussed how to make your own fireball cinnamon whiskey, and now it is time to learn two ways to make your own honey whiskey.

Simple Honey Whiskey
  • American Whiskey (like Bourbon)
  • 1:1 Honey Syrup to taste

This is the simplest way to make a drink tasting like honey whiskey.  The best part is it is easy to mix to whatever sweetness, strength, and proof you prefer.  All you have to do is whip up a batch of Honey Syrup, which is made by heating one part honey and one part water in a small saucepan.  Let the syrup simmer, but not boil.  Once the honey has been mixed into the water, your syrup is complete.  Now all you have to do is add a bit of honey syrup to your whiskey, shake, and you’ve got your own simple honey whiskey anytime you want that sweet buzz advertised in the Jack Daniels Honey ads.

There is however a slightly more time intensive method for making honey whiskey.  Unlike the honey syrup which should be kept refrigerated, this method  will allow you to keep a bottle of honey whiskey on your shelf.

Infused Honey Whiskey
  • 665ml American Whiskey
  • 85ml Honey

For this method, you will not be making a syrup but rather an infusion.  You are going to need at least a week of infusion time before the whiskey will take on its new smooth, full bodied flavor, and may need up to a month to reach the exact taste you are looking for.  Make sure to store in a cool, dark environment and shake daily.  Unlike most infusions where the flavoring agent is eventually removed, in this case the honey will naturally make the whiskey sweeter, so it works in a similar manner to adding the simple syrup I used in the sweetened cinnamon whiskey recipe.  It will also lower the proof slightly to around 70 proof, the same proof as comparable honey whiskeys made by Evan Williams or Jack Daniels.  As to what whiskey you use, the sky is the limit, although I would recommend one of the top cheap bourbons in this list.  If you are in need of a good bottle for storage purposes, Ikea makes a great $4 bottle called the Korken that holds 1 liter.  Have fun experimenting and enjoy the smooth sippin’!

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Posted in Bourbon, Cheap Cocktails, Dollar Drinks, Technically Saturday, Whiskey

Does Your Favorite Wine or Spirit Indicate Your Politics?

According to a recent article released by the Washington Post, it almost certainly does.  The research began as consumer data supplied by GFK MRI, and was analyzed by Jennifer Dube of National Media Research Planning and Placement (an Alexandria-based Republican consulting firm).  The Washington’s Post basic takeaway?  “Democrats prefer clear spirits, while Republicans like their brown liquor.”

While this data is fun to look at, the basic analysis that the Washington Post writes about is just that – very basic.  And it fails to touch on an issue that I think is probably even more indicative of spirit or wine preference than political view: regional preferences.

Let’s look at a very simple spirit, the spirit of America.  Bourbon.  Within the context of the consumer data, bourbon is represented by brands such as Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Maker’s Mark, and even Jack Daniel’s and is strongly associated with Republican political leanings.  If you look at a map of the political leanings of each state collected over the past decade, you will see an interesting trend that you are probably already aware of: most southern states are either red or swing states.

These states also happen to produce and consume the most bourbon.  Because they are Republican?  possibly.  Because bourbon is the American spirit with strong southern ties?  Most definitely. Likewise, Northeastern states, which are predominantly blue, have stereotypically stronger ties to vodkas and gin based drinks like martinis.

As more research is conducted on this subject, it will be interesting to see if alcohol preference is actually indicative of political views or if one’s preferences are more strongly shaped by the region in which you were raised.  But if I were a gambling man, and I am, I would put my money on the latter.

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Posted in Culture
Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
Do you want a free eBook on making homemade and ridiculously cheap bar syrups?

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