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Sunday Funday: How to Order at a Bar

July 14, 2013 Nick McAfee 2

In this edition of Sunday Funday, we are going to explore methods for ordering drinks at a bar. Making cocktails is great, but it can be just as fun to go out to a bar with some friends and experience drinks from a different perspective. This seems simple at first, you order the drink you want and 30 seconds to a couple minutes later it comes over, ready to drink. But ordering cocktails at a bar can be a daunting experience. While some bars have cocktail menus or specials, these do not begin to list all of the possible drinks available. And unlike your home bar, you don’t always know what spirits are even available. Do they have your favorite brand? How much does it cost? Do they make a certain cocktail the way you like it? I personally like having a standby drink for such occasions. If I am Learn More

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Technically Saturday: The Cocktail vs The Mixed Drink

July 13, 2013 Nick McAfee 1

You know what today is – it’s time for another addition of Technically Saturday. Today’s topic of discussion is what is actually the correct term for the drinks we are making: are they “cocktails” or “mixed drinks”? This debate has been one of the central arguments within mixology for years. The first documented use of the term cocktail was in 1803 according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines the cocktail as: This is clearly not what we think of as a cocktail today. Originally, cocktails were indeed comprised of just three ingredients – alcohol, bitters, and sugar. Cocktails were savory and strong in nature, not the sweet drinks we often associate with the term today. Merriam-Webster defines the term cocktail as “an iced drink of wine or distilled liquor mixed with flavoring ingredients.” Now that seems to better describe the type of drink you would find in any bar Learn More

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A Southern Classic – Sweet Tea

July 12, 2013 Nick McAfee 1

What do Firefly and Jeremiah Weed have in common?  They are both types of sweat tea vodka.  Sweet tea may be most popular south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but it is gaining popularity in the rest of the United States and beyond.  If you’ve never tasted sweet tea, it is really worth a taste.  Unlike sweetened ice tea, the sugar is added while the tea is still hot, so it tastes like it was sweet from the beginning rather than like a bunch of sweetener was dumped in as an afterthought.  There is nothing better for a hot summer day or to accompany BBQ or some fried chicken or catfish. The problem with most sweat tea vodka is its price.  Firefly goes for about $35 per handle and Jeremiah Weed goes for about $20/fifth.  Sweet tea vodka is traditionally mixed one-to-one, so it gets expensive fast.  I stumbled over a Learn More

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Wine Wednesday

July 10, 2013 Nick McAfee 2

Wine coolers became a popular mixed drink fairly recently in the 1970s. They have since fallen out of style to pre-made malt based drinks such as Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice flavors. These malternatives (so called because they are beer alternatives) offer a fruity sweet experience, but at around $7.99 a six pack, they don’t make for cheap drink. Going back to the basics and using an inexpensive wine not only leads to a cheaper drink, but also a drink with more depth. It might even be classier. The best cheap wines I know of are distributed by Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. And when I say cheap wine, I mean three dollars per bottle. Whole Food’s Three Wishes brand offers several different varieties of wine, but the best is unquestionably the Merlot. For just under three dollars at $2.99, this may not be a bottle you would want Learn More

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What’s in a name? Give me some tequila

July 9, 2013 Nick McAfee 0

Although cocktails have been being named for centuries, there wasn’t a term to describe it until less than a month ago.  The term, mixonymics, was coined by linguist Michael Erard on June 21, 2013 to describe the creative naming process of cocktails. For an in depth examination of this term, there is a great article on the blog Fritinancy by language expert Nancy Friedman. Most of the names for the cocktails I have come up with have either  followed common bartending slang – such as screw meaning orange juice and slow meaning sloe gin – or were made up on the spot when someone asked me what the drink they were holding was called.  A few rare gems though were carefully planned out cocktails, taste tested to perfection and named for a special person or event.  Since today is Tuesday, it seems like the perfect day to discuss such a tequila Learn More

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A Summer Cocktail – the G&T

July 8, 2013 Nick McAfee 2

With temperatures of 80-90° F and humidity almost as high, it can be difficult to find a drink that is refreshing enough for a hot summer day. Ice is a must for such weather, but the wrong cocktail can lose its flavor if too much ice melts. It is also difficult to find a drink that is neither too sweet nor too bitter – a refreshing cocktail is all about striking the right balance. A perfect drink for the summer heat is the Gin and Tonic (aka the “G&T”). While gin often scares people away with its bold flavor profile, with a little experience these flavors can be quite tasty. Gin gets its unique taste from the way it is made. Gin starts as a grain alcohol and is than infused with botanicals – most notably juniper berries – which give gin its unique flavor.* Gin is also often associated Learn More

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Sunday Funday: Simple and Plentiful

July 7, 2013 Nick McAfee 0

This new themed series – Sunday Funday – will explore drinking culture on and off the web. The subject for today?  Two Ingredient Mixed Drinks Just cause a mixed drink has less than three ingredients doesn’t mean that it can’t taste amazing.  Recognizing this fact, the great folks over at Buzzfeed came up with a list of sixteen fantastic two ingredient mixed drinks.  Next week: the 32 best one ingredient mixed drinks…oh wait, that’s just a bunch of shots.  Checkout Buzzfeed’s drink list!

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Technically Saturday: Garnish or Garbage?

July 6, 2013 Nick McAfee 0

Who says work can’t involve play…it’s Technically Saturday.  This new weekly series will teach important technical bartending skills with resources gathered from around the web. In the world of cocktails, there are many different “garnishes.” A garnish can be as simple as a couple of olives on a toothpick or as complex as a lemon twist. There are few things that make a drink look as classy or expensive as a well done garnish, and the best part is that garnishes usually can be acquired cheaply from your nearest grocery store. You just need to learn a couple quick techniques to make the perfect garnish.  Check out this great video from about.com on garnishes.

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Two Parts Cure, One Part Vodka

July 5, 2013 Nick McAfee 0

There are some nights (or days, lets not exclude anyone) that get a bit out of hand in terms of alcohol consumption.  Holidays like the Fourth of July are especially bad because the heat also dehydrates you as you drink.  When you wake up the next morning, it is a feeling unlike any other – hello hangover.  But its not so much a “hello” as wanting curl up in a dark quiet place wishing the world would go away for the next couple of hours.  For such occasions, you have several options.  The first is of course water.  Water is perfect for re-hydrating and getting back on your feet.  The second is obviously vodka…or more specifically vodka with orange juice. Okay, so this may not seem so obvious.  Vodka, comes from the Russian word “водка” which came from the word “воды”  meaning water.  And as vodka is 60% water, it Learn More

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Hello World – An Intro to American Bourbon

July 4, 2013 Nick McAfee 3

This blog and America will forever share two things in common. The first, is that they were both born on July Fourth. Okay, not really. The Declaration of Independence was actually signed a couple of days earlier and the URL for this blog was also purchased before today, but as far as the world needs to be concerned, America and this blog were both born on Independence day. The second common factor between this blog and America will be the abundance of bourbon. Unlike many whiskys, such as scotch, whose prices start incredibly high for anything drinkable and only get higher for premium quality, good old American bourbon can be found at quite affordable prices. Since today is Independence Day in the states, its the perfect time to celebrate with an American drink. A great bourbon for celebrating on a budget is Evan Williams Single Barrel. With a new vintage Learn More

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