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    San Luis Obispo, CA
  1. I do hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is nothing worth your time in Santa Barbara. If you like beer, for pure atmosphere, go to Elsie's, or the Mercury Lounge in Goleta (weird, but low-key and good). If you like ales, order the Firestone Double Barrel; you won't be upset with it. Do not waste your time trying to order any kind of mixed drink.
  2. That's right Toby. When I did the class (in San Francisco) it was a full day with Paul Pacult, Dave Wondrich, Dale DeGroff, Steve Olsen, Andy Seymour, and Doug Frost. There was a lecture/Q&A portion (including a blind spirits tasting), a written exam on spirits, history etc. (all the stuff covered in the take-home materials) and then a "practical" exam, where we were asked to prepare three cocktails. Here are links to a couple of my photos from the San Francisco live event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/organicmatter/3039739073/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/organicmatter/3039739243/
  3. I got a chance to do the program when it was in San Francisco. I got the impression that it was tailored to folks who have substantial experience working behind the stick, but are either new to, or trying to capitalize on, this "new" trend toward culinary cocktail and otherwise high-end drinks. The history is well put-together and concise, but pretty redundant (and cursory) if you've at least read Imbibe. That said, it's long and detailed enough that I can imagine that it might try the patience of someone who's not geeking out over mixology. The info on spirits production and history did fill some gaps in my knowledge, and I would expect they would do the same for most people already in the business. This was my favorite part of the course, and the part that they spent the most time on at the live class. The service part was kind of wasted on me, not working behind the bar. That said, it was nice to get a sense of all of the other business that your bartenders have to worry about in addition to simply making a great drink. The recipes are a good intro to making a good sampling of classic drinks, with a nod to the popular, for people who might be used to shortcuts like [shudder] sour mix. If you're taking the course it's worth knowing (and I don't think it's any sort of spoiler) that in the practical exam you're free to use your own ratios as long as the drink you produce is well-balanced. I wasted a lot of time trying to remember the recommended ratios for drinks like the daiquiri or the margarita that were different than the ratios I prefer. All-in-all I enjoyed the program, and got quite a bit out of it, even though I don't believe I was the target audience. I think it's particularly well-designed for introducing working professionals to classic mixology and spreading the word of the culinary cocktail. My two cents. I don't believe that there's anything sufficiently comprehensive in what I've offered above that it might infringe on any copyrights, but I'm glad to edit/remove any of this if any of the copyright holders or their surrogates disagree.
  4. There never has been bonded Old Overholt. It's sold at 80 proof. We're saying that we'd like to see it at 100 proof ("bottled in bond"). And, as Andy points out, it's literally a matter of changing the labeling and reconfiguring the process to add less water (I'm sure there are also some minor legal hoops to jump through with respect to introducing a "new" product). In my opinion, if they brought out Overholt at 100 proof, it would take the place of Rittenhouse as the mixing rye of preference. I've been thinking of ways to make a 100 proof version out of the 80 proof stuff, either by fractional freezing or using a rotavap. ← My mistake, I just confused it for Rittenhouse. Oops! ←
  5. I learned the hard way that you need to make a lighter syrup from it by dissolving it with water first, much like honey. Trying to add a barspoon of straight Lyle's to a stirred drink is a surefire way to end up with a cloying, syrupy mess stuck to your spoon and strainer, and a very, very, very dry drink. As for recipes that it works well in, I never got far enough with it to find out.
  6. I make a half-hot-half-cold process grenadine as well, and I throw a couple star anise pods in with the hot process during reduction. It's not for every drink, but it's a noticeable (and enjoyable) note in my Jack Roses. I'll have to try vanilla and/or orange flower water in the future.
  7. Seconded - it's the only place I've found online that carries the 1/2 - 3/4 jigger. But seriously, if you're epileptic, have a friend order from the website on your behalf, or at least make sure someone is standing by with a tongue depressor.
  8. I bought my bottle of St. George when the only domestically available absinthes (at least that I was aware of) were St. George, Lucid, and Kubler, all of which you mention. Given those three, the St. George is absolutely what you want. It's complex and delicious where the Lucid and Kubler are simpler and more anise-heavy. However, since then a number of other options have become more widely available, and I can't testify as to the quality of many of those.
  9. I was just given a bottle of the new Hangar One spiced pear vodka, and despite not being a big vodka drinker, I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to anything St. George Spirits produces. This was a huge success: 2 oz. Hangar One spiced pear vodka 1/4 oz. St. Germain (it would probably be good with up to 1/2 oz.) 2-3 dashes Angostura Stir, strain up, smile. Thanks to campusfive for the suggestion to pair pears with St. Germain.
  10. A quick and easy solution is to buy a super cheap strainer with a big fat spring, take the spring out of your OXO, put it *inside* the bigger springs (like a train passing through a tunnel, or whatever less family-friendly metaphor you happen to prefer), and then put both springs back onto your OXO. With a little fiddling to make sure the big spring "sticks out" all the way around, you'll find that the OXO fits more snugly in your 28 oz tins. (Credit where credit is due: thanks to donbert for the tip.)
  11. I had some friends over and made up a little menu with some beverage alcohol history, the text of the 18th and 21st amendments, and a short drink menu for the night. Most of them had no idea about Repeal Day, or much knowledge about cocktails beyond the typical fratboy-sweat-infused vodka and Redbull, so I tried to keep things simple, interesting, and as steeped in American history as possible, while serving winter-appropriate cocktails. The menu was as follows: Jack Rose Corpse Reviver No. 2 Hoskins Rye Flip I was a little worried that my philistine friends would balk at the use of egg in a cocktail, but I easily made as many flips as I did other drinks combined. Good times had by all, and I think that a number of my guests are now primed to be a little more discriminating about their drink choices when they dine out. [edited for grammar]
  12. With the news that Hayman's is starting to be distributed in the U.S. I was wondering when distribution might hit Los Angeles or San Francisco (I'm assuming it will take a bit longer to get to less populous locales in California), and I figured that other people in other places might be wondering the same. So feel free to use this as a one-stop-shop for posting info about Hayman's distribution anywhere in the U.S. But especially L.A. and the Bay Area.
  13. How long will the infused Campari keep? My wife hasn't loved Campari (the negroni was our drink of the month - new years resolution that has been fun to keep) and I'm going to try this out and give it another go. ← To the best of my understanding it should essentially keep indefinitely because of the relatively high alcohol content of the final infusion. In an effort to intentionally keep the ABV high, I took the advice of a friend and used Seagram's Distiller's Reserve for the infusion because it's 1.) cheap, and 2.) 102 proof. I especially wanted something strong to keep the ABV high despite the maraschino and Campari. And yes, in the final infusion (and especially once you mix up a Riveria) the bitterness of the Campari is nearly gone. A definite Campari gateway drink.
  14. Good God that is an amazing tipple. For anyone wondering whether the infusion is worth your time, it absolutely is (and it's simple enough to scale down).
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