Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Try This Drink on New Year’s Eve!

New Year’s Eve is a great occasion for drinking, among other things. Part of the tradition is that we celebrate with champagne.

Now, most of us have had champagne like every New Year’s Eve since we were 16, and it can be getting a little old for some of us. Here is a drink to try this New Year’s that is new (new to most) and delicious (delicious to all), but is still festive because it’s main ingredient is champagne.

Here’s how to make a Kir Royale:
Fill a champagne flute 3/4 of the way up.

Then add 1/2 oz crème de cassis. Instead of the crème de cassis, I recommend Chambord because it is the nicest product, especially if you have nice champagne.

This is not part of the recipe, but you can also drop a cherry or raspberries in it.

If you are at a bar, just order it by name- hopefully you won’t have to instruct the bartender on how to make this drink. If you do, make him read my blog.

The drink turns out a bubbly pinkish reddish color. People will be fascinated with your pretty drink and ask you what it is- this will give you an opportunity to look smart. I know this description makes it sound girly, but, well, ok, it kind of is. So if you are a man and you want to drink a Kir Royale (I recommend it, they are awesome), just make sure you even it out by drinking some whiskey neat at some point in the night also. Game on.

One warning- be careful about how many you drink. It has lots of sugar and will hang you over good.


The Kir Royale is my drink of the weekend (in line with New Year’s Eve this week). Follow me on Twitter to get updates on the drink of the weekend every weekend!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Talkin Bout Bourbon!

Bourbon is one of my favorite things from Kentucky.

Before I started working behind the bar, I hated bourbon. I thought it was more or less sweet whiskey (which I also hated) that tastes like smoke. However, as a little time passed by, I began to really enjoy it.

How did that happen you ask?
At my current bar, we have about 10 different bourbons. I basically ignored them, except when a guest asked for one. People get really excited about their favorite bourbons and scotches and stuff, so as they are drinking them, they invited me to try out their drink. Of course I obliged and started getting a taste for them sooner than later.

What is bourbon?
Bourbon is American whiskey made from fermented corn. It has to be between 40% (80 proof) and 80% (160 proof) alcohol. It is aged in charred oak barrels, giving it a distinct taste. Another defining characteristic (and my favorite) is that it has to be made in Bourbon County, Kentucky to be technically considered bourbon. Now, there is even debate about whether this is a defining characteristic of bourbon, but I love all the debate that it stirs up. There is also a lot of debate whether Jack Daniel’s is bourbon. The product is very similar, but it is made a few miles away in Tennessee.

Fun thing to do:
Next time you are in a bar, ask the bartenders if Jack is bourbon or not and see what happens- it’s always interesting because we take sides on this much resembling how people act when you ask them about political parties or religious beliefs. The best is if you ask this and there are two bartenders who disagree :)

To learn more about bourbon, check out the article on Wikipedia.

My two favorite bourbons are Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve. Maker’s is cheaper and more common in bars, while Woodford is higher end and a little more expensive.

How do you drink it?
There are a few cocktails that call for bourbon, including Manhattans (also can be make with rye whiskey) and an old fashioned. I highly recommend trying them if you haven’t- they are both great. I like my bourbon on the rocks, especially if it’s a good one. More hardcore people enjoy it neat (no ice).

Next time you are at a bar, give bourbon a shot (haha- great pun and I didn’t even mean to!) Let it grow on you because it’s pretty delicious!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

How the Screwdriver Got It’s Name

A mix of orange juice and vodka makes a screwdriver. It’s an easy to make and delicious drink. High school and college kids love it because most of their parents have vodka in the liquor cabinet, and then there is OJ, apple juice or milk in the fridge. Easy choice. For many, (like me!) it was the first thing they got drunk on.

Usually, by the time we are actually legally allowed to drink, we’re sick of screwdrivers but talking about them bring back lots of great nostalgia…

Speaking of nostalgia, what's the story behind the name "screwdriver?"
There’s a story!

Back in the day when they were building the Panama Canal, the cheap labor at the time was workers from Russia. The Russians would drink vodka to relax, during lunch and after work. However, the Russians’ supervisors didn’t want them too drunk off of straight vodka, so the supervisors gave the Russians a mixer to dilute the drink.
Being in Panama, oranges were all over, so the Russians were given orange juice as a mixer.

Then to stir the drink, the Russians used the screwdrivers from their work belts to mix their drink.

It was this that gave the name of the drink that would go on to get thousands of high school and college kids drunk for years to come.
Thank you Russian workers and their supervisors!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow + Booze = Alcoholic Snow Cones!

In this article, I'm going to talk about how to use the snow to make delicious drinks!

Right now in the DC area, there is over a foot of snow. In this article, I’m going to share a drink idea that I had last night using the snow.

I was outside and noticed the snow accumulating, which reminded me that I love snow cones. But what to put on the snow cone? Booze!

So here is what I did:

Step 1) I got a glass and packed it with snow.

Step 2) I poured a liquor of choice in the glass. I put in Grand Marnier (obviously), but most things would be good.

Step 3) I put some more snow in the glass.

Step 4) I drank it and it was delicious!

The name of the drink is a _____(insert name of booze of choice)____ Snow Cone. Last night, I had a GM Snow Cone.


There isn’t much to do today, so try it out and enjoy!


Friday, December 18, 2009

How to NOT Act At A Bar

In this post, I am going to boast about how awesome I am about customer service (sort of) by telling a story and giving a warning about what to never do in a bar. Lets go!

It is a Saturday and the bar is pretty busy. I am also manning the service bar, so I am making drinks for the waiters to take back to their tables. Three girls come up to my bar, each one of them orders a drink while they are waiting for their table. Cool- I pour and serve the drinks 1,2,3.

One of the drinks is a specialty cocktail that we have called a Midnight Mimosa that has champagne, Chambord, pineapple juice and lime juice. We our specialty cocktails listed on a small menu that the guests look at then order from, with the ingredients printed right below the name of the drink.

The girl with the Midnight Mimosa takes one sip of it and says, “Excuse me, I don’t like how this tastes.”
David: Oh, I’m sorry, what’s wrong with it?
Girl: I don’t like how champagne tastes
(She still has the drink menu with the ingredients of each drink listed below the name of the drink in her hand from when she ordered)

OK- so most people know that the difference between a glass of orange juice and a normal mimosa is champagne, right? Plus it was right there on the menu.

Now at this point, I could laugh at her, make her feel stupid or give her a bag of shit- all of these would be fun make me happy. But I don’t. I swallow it.

David: Yeah, the Midnight Mimosa does have champagne in it. Can I make you something else?
Girl: Yeah, I’ll just have a mojito then.

BARTENDERS HATE MAKING MOJITOS. They are a huge pain to make and take a long time.

Right after she says this, the hostess comes to tell them their table is ready. Her two friends grab their drinks and leave. She’s still sitting there waiting for her drink. Sucks.

By then there were a lot of other people waiting patiently, so I took care of them, then made her slow-to-make-f-ing mojito while she had to sit and wait alone. Of course, I didn’t mean to have this happen to her. However, karma is a bitch.

There is a moral of this story other than me writing about an annoying customer (which is also fun!) The moral here is please, please, PLEASE do not act like this one girl. More specifically, don't do what she did with the first drink, and especially don't ask for a mojito as a replacement. It really pisses the bartender off and as it turns out, there is bar karma that can come back and get you!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Official Drink of the DC Bartender

As you may know, I am a bartender in Washington DC and there is a drink that pretty much all of us love. I could build up the anticipation and leave you curious, but I’m just going to say what it is.

Drum Roll!!!!
JUST ABOUT ALL DC BARTENDERS LOVE GRAND MARNIER. Not all of us love it, but Grand Marnier (GM) is the official drink of the DC bartender.

It is like catnip to cats. We love it- it’s delicious.

So next time you want to make a bartender really happy, besides leaving an awesome tip, give them some GM. If you want some props and maybe a free drink, gush about how awesome GM is and how much you like it- we get really excited about this kind of thing. Just be warned that the free drink will probably be a shot of GM that we will do with you. Mmmm!…

When I was first learning to bartend, I heard that bartenders in DC love it. I didn’t really understand. I thought, “orange flavored booze, so what?” It didn’t take long until I was drinking it and telling everyone I wanted to marry it.

There is some ridiculous stat of consumption that I couldn’t find on Google, but DC drinks like 4 times more GM than anywhere else. Don’t quote me on this.

We had a liquor cost control meeting at my bar not too long ago and the number one thing unaccounted for because it was just given away was GM. I was less than surprised. Again, we love it, and for free, it’s even better.

What is it?
OK- I’ve gone on and on about GM and how great it is and my strong romantic feelings towards it, but I haven’t said anything about what it is. GM is an orange flavored liqueur that is 40% alcohol (80 proof). To learn about all of the ins and outs of it, check out the Grand Marnier website. And did I mention that it’s delicious?

How to Drink GM:
You are supposed to drink GM neat (no ice) but I prefer it on the rocks. There are also a bunch of shots and cocktails that you can make with it, but it’s so yummy on its own that I don’t recommend mixing it with other stuff. It’s like putting ketchup on a fine cooked steak.

If you have not tried it or don’t know what it’s like, GET TO A BAR ASAP AND DRINK SOME! AND BRING ME!!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why You’ll Never Want Rail Alcohol Again

Before I started bartending, I didn’t care what kind of liquor was in my drink. If anything, I actually went out of my way to get the rail liquor because it was cheaper.

What are rail liquor and call brands?

Rail liquor is the stuff that sits in the “rail,” usually around the bartender’s knees that you cannot see from where you order. They are generic brands The call liquors are the name brand booze that sit up on a shelf for everyone to see. The rails are cheaper and less marketed, like any generic brand.

OK, so why shouldn’t I get the rail booze if it’s cheaper?
Most of the time, the generic brands are pretty much the same as the well-known brands for things like ketchup, cereal or bottled water. Not with booze- there is actually a big difference between rail and call brand alcohols. There are 3 main differences.

Difference #1:

Rail booze tastes like crap. Call liquors taste much better. Do a taste test if you don’t believe me. If you genuinely prefer the taste of the rails, then you’re gross.

Difference #2:
This is the important difference. I’m not going to go into how alcohol is made, but if you really want to know, check out this post: http://www.drunkmansguide.com/articles/liquor_styles.php
The main point is that liquor is made from distilling (making evaporate) the alcohol from a fermented solution. This fermented solution is usually fermented grain of some sort.
Each time the alcohol evaporates (is distilled), it leaves behind some of the impurities/nasties from the original fermented grain solution. Because of this, the more times a liquor is distilled, the nicer the product because it has fewer impurities.
Rail liquors are crappy products because they are distilled usually only once, if that. Because they are distilled only once, they have more impurities. Then you drink the impurities, which are bad for you. This is one of the main causes of throwing up and hangovers from drinking- lots of rail liquor and impurities. It’s like putting gas with bits of sand, glass and fingernails in your car.
The call liquors are distilled far more times, leaving behind more and more impurities with each distillation. Belvedere vodka is distilled 7 times. That’s 7 times more than your local rail vodka. It has fewer impurities and nastiness that will make you sick and hung over.

Difference #3:

The price- If you pay attention to the price difference between rail liquor and a pretty good call brand, there is very little. At my bar, the difference it’s usually about $1.25. I don’t know about you, but not feeling sick the whole next day is worth the $5 I didn’t save.

So next time you are at the bar or in you local Booze-R-Us, pay a little more and save yourself the nasty hangover and late night/early morning barf session.