Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Drink I Invented – The Smurf

OK, first thing’s first- I’m on the bus right now on my way to New York and am definitely going to go out. Obviously my next post will be stories about a DC bartender’s adventures in NYC. It’s gunna be dope!

THIS week’s post is a drink that I made up. This is the first drink I ever made up and also my most popular. It’s delicious- it’s called the Smurf. If you’ve been following me here, you may have noticed that I put it on the Shot Tour as one of the shots.

You can have it a few different ways but each way has the same basic ingredients:
-1 ounce vanilla vodka
-1 ounce peach Schnapps
-1 ounce Hypnotiq

It got the name “Smurf” because it comes out blue. It’s sweet and you can barely tell it’s all booze. Excellent panty dropper.

This is probably a drink that you’re going to have to go to a bar to order, but if you have all this stuff at home, then game on!

Different Ways to Drink a Smurf

1) Smurf Cocktail – This is the 3 ingredients on the rocks.
2) Smurfette – Add ingredients into shaker and ice, shake and pour into a martini glass. Skewer a cherry with a stir straw and put it in the glass.
3) Papa Smurf – Same as a Smurfette, but slide the cherry to the middle of the straw and place it on top of the glass so the cherry is hovering over the drink. This makes it look like the blue drink has a red hat. Papa Smurf.
4) Smurf Village – Drink the mixture as shots, making a bunch of little blue glasses.

Try it, let me know what you think and spread the word!



Want to get the ingredients to make this drink delivered to your door? In an hour? And save $5? Check out Drizly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Type of Bar Crawl: The Shot Tour

In this article, I’m going to go over a new and awesome type of bar crawl that I made up. Ready?! Wait, I didn’t hear you, I typed, ARE YOU READY!?!?

Most people have heard of a bar golf- where you dress like a jackass about to play golf with a group of friends, go from bar to bar and drink. Each bar represents a hole or something. Well this is like that, except way more awesome and you don’t have to dress douchy.

It’s called a Shot Tour.

Here’s how it works:
1) Gather a bunch of friends. Dress any way you please, except like a golfer. However, themes are encouraged.
2) Print out the list of shots for the shot tour (more on this in a minute).
3) Pick a different drinking venue for each shot on your list.
4) Go from bar to bar, or party, or club, or lounge, or someone’s apartment, or wherever one drinks and do one shot per venue until you go through the entire shot list.

Now, it only takes like 3 seconds to do a shot, so you could go through the entire shot tour in like 15 minutes, but that will just get you super F-ed up and you’ll miss out on all the fun. I recommend making an entire night out of it- hang out at each place some. See how many other people you can get to do the shots with you. Tell people what you are doing and try to get other cool people to join you in the tour. Sub in a shot the bartender specializes in. Get the bartenders to do shots with you. See how many you can get for free. The possibilities are endless!

So what shots do you do? You can make your own list, but I already made you an awesome list for the Shot Tour that I recommend.

1) Grand Marnier – Delicious. I like mine chilled.
2) Smurf Village – My own recipe- equal parts vanilla vodka, Hypnotiq and peach Schnapps. You would have to tell the bartender how to make this one- WELL worth it!
3) Orgasm – Bailey’s, Amaretto and Kahlua. You can also make this a bomb by dropping it in a Blue Moon. It’s awesome!
*Have a water at the third bar also- you’ll thank me in the morning*
4) Chocolate Cake – Vanilla vodka and Frangelico garnished with a sugared lemon wedge. You can also make this one a bomb and drop it in a Guinness- chocolaty delicious!
5) Speedy Grandma – This is a bomb- drop a shot of Grand Marnier into Red Bull. This one is in the middle of the night for a reason!
6) Mind Eraser – Layer in the shot (bottom to top) Kahlua, vodka, soda water. Drink with a straw and enjoy!
*Have a water at the sixth bar also*
7) Hairy Navel – Vodka, orange juice and peach Schnapps. The best is if you can do this at a place that has mango juice and have them use that instead of OJ- so good.
8) Blonde Slut – Grand Marnier (I know, 3rd shot with it, but it’s so damn good!), peach Schnapps and pineapple.
9) Buttery Nipple – Bailey’s and butterscotch Schnapps.
*Again, another water at the ninth bar*
10) Jolly Rancher Shot – Vodka, apple Pucker and cranberry. There are lots of different ways to make this one, but I use that recipe.

Side note- I added a few suggestions for this, but you can drop pretty much any of these in a beer that may match (or Red Bull if you think it would be good too) and make them bombs.

Last stop on the tour is to get food at the end of the night- something greasy is best.

Will definitely make for a fun night- if your going out to do one, call me!

Oh, and DEFINITELY call me if this >>>>>>
happens to you!


Or you can make all of these shots at home. Check Drizly: they'll deliver all the booze to your house. In an hour. And you can save $5. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vodka Review: The Good, the Bad and the Overrated

In my last post, I talked about vodka in general. Here, we’re going to talk about some different brands and I’m going to discuss their quality. Again, a lot of this is my opinion, however a well informed one, and not the absolute truth.

The point of this article is to point people in a direction and provide them a foundation to form their own opinions by giving my interpretation and a bunch of facts, which has been informed by lots of different sources and research, instead of just marketing, guessing or just not knowing, which is the norm.

There are loads of different choices for vodka out there- it's the most heavily consumed liquor in the US. So how do you choose which to order? Hopefully by now, you have given up the rail brands and this question has come into your mind once or twice.

A quick preface and overall principle for us to keep in mind: a vodka's quality is determined by 2 main factors:
1) How well it is distilled (more on that in the reviews)
2) The quality and purity of water used (I don't mention this one much because, yeah, duh, don't use pond water)

So lets get into it!

The Best Deal
When I first wrote this post in 2010, Tito's was hard to find. Now it's everywhere and people actually order it by name. The vodka gods are good...

I love a good deal, so it’s no surprise that I would pick to write about the vodka that fits into this category first.

Tito's Handmade wins lots of big taste test competitions and receives super high ratings from all these prestigious vodka test bureaus. It is not only delicious, but inexpensive and is the one that I recommend for all of my private event hosts.

Tito's is an American vodka from Austin, TX called. It's distilled a whopping 6 times (twice as many times as Grey Goose) and crushes most of the other vodkas you hear people asking for at the bat. It also uses a different and more effective distillation process than common mass produced vodkas, making each distillation that much more effective. It's affordable too- a little over $30 for 1.75L. Yee-haa!

Runner Up for Best Deal
Stolichnaya! Huh? It’s Stoli for short- I had no idea what Stolichnaya was the first time I heard it until someone told me that it’s the same thing as Stoli. This is very high quality vodka that is great for mixed drinks and good enough to drink on the rocks.

Stoli also has a bunch of flavored vodkas. Stoli O and Blueberry are great, but I personally think the others are gross. Especially the apple one. See a little below for my favorite flavored vodka. Yum.

The Best Tasting
Let me preface here. Vodka isn't actually supposed to have a taste (if it's good). But I think that's totally stupid and haven't ever had a vodka with NO taste at all. So lets get real and talk about the best tasting.

Have you ever tried Chopin vodka? It's amazing. I won’t say that it’s the best ever because I haven’t tried every vodka in the world, but I’d say that it’s the best tasting.

It’s smooth and barely burns. Chopin is Polish and one of the few vodkas actually still made from potatoes- in fact 7 potatoes are used for each bottle. I know, I know, we’re chugging this stuff, getting wasted and then throwing it up later while kids are starving in Africa.

SO, if you like to drink a vodka martini or vodka on the rocks, I’d highly recommend trying Chopin at least once. But don't mix it with other flavors (like juice) because it’s pretty much a waste of money, good vodka and potatoes. Think of it this way- every time you mix Chopin with something other than a little water, a starving child in the former Soviet Union cries.

[NEW CATEGORY for 2018] The Best Flavored Vodka
Flavored vodka was NOT a thing when I first wrote this article in 2010. But now it is and I'm stoked. And before I say the winner, let me just profess my love for this flavored vodka thing. It makes the possibilities for crazy ass drinks endless.

OK, here's the winner: Pinnacle. Do they have really high quality vodka? Not really. Do they distill the alcohol a whole bunch of times? Who cares. Do they have en epic selection of flavors? HELL YEAH!

Here are some of my favorite flavors:
-Salted Caramel
-Pumpkin Pie (my #1 favorite and one that I've used to come up with a bunch of basic ass fall cocktails. E.g. Pumpkin Martini, Pumpkin Latte Martini and A Seasonal Kick in the A$$).
-Double Espresso

To the right's a picture I took of a lot more flavors in a mega-liquor store in Delaware:

The only other flavored vodka that comes close is Three Olives. Only because they have a Fruit Loop flavor. OK, that's enough on this one.

The Fanciest That's Easy to Fined
Chopin is the best tasting, but hard to find in a lot of bars and a shade more expensive than a lot of other really good vodkas. So what is the best if you either can’t find Chopin or feel like saving $1.75 per drink?

Belvedere. Belvy is a great vodka that does awesome in lots of vodka contests. It’s from Poland and distilled 4 times in an especially slow distillation process. Additionally, the water added to the vodka goes through an 11 step water purification process. In other words, it’s delish- try it out sometime.

Side Note: We used to go to a club that had free Belvedere from 9pm-10pm Friday night (and no cover charge). Needless to say, Friday's got pretty messy. My liver thanks them for stopping that promotion.

Want to buy some great vodka and get it delivered to your door? In an hour? And get $5 off? Check out Drizly. It's the only way I buy alcohol anymore.

The Overrated
There are actually 2 vodkas out there that are HIGHLY overrated and that you may likely order.

In fact, as you were reading through the couple of best vodkas above, you may have been thinking, “what about ____?” That’s probably because ____ is one of the overrated vodkas out there. So what are they already? The number one overrated vodkas is… DRUMROLL!!!

Grey Goose. Right now you may be thinking something along the lines of, “what, no, I love Goose, it’s such a good vodka!” or “it has to be good, it’s expensive and I’ve paid a lot for it!” or “everyone else thinks it’s good, you’re wrong David!” These are normal things to think after finding out that you have been deceived into thinking a mediocre vodka is very good and you have been grossly overpaying for it all this time.

Grey Goose is distilled only 3 times (like many so-so quality vodkas) and does poorly in most vodka competitions. It is an overall mediocre product. BUT, they are excellent marketers, put it in a pretty bottle and managed to fool lots of people that their vodka is the Shizzle. Sorry folks, it’s not. It's more like shizzle, not THE shizzle. If you are still pissed or don’t believe me, I’m not alone- read this forum.

There are 2 overrated vodkas- the second is Absolut. In most people’s minds, Absolut is a pretty good vodka. However, the actual quality of the product is very poor- about a half shade better than the rail crap.

I know, it’s got a pretty bottle, it’s well known, has lots of flavors and all of those sweet ads in magazines and on bus stops: “Absolut [insert artsy word with clever matching picture here].” You’ve again been victimized by awesome marketing. Sorry. Next time you see one of those ads, think, “Absolut Rail” with a picture of dirt, sand and fingernails floating around in the bottle instead.

Now you may be wondering amongst your shock and disgust, “what do I drink instead of Absolut?” Anything, bro. Just about anything.

The Worst
So there are a couple of bottom of the barrel vodkas too. One, as I already mentioned is Absolut. Sorry to all of you Absolut fans out there, but at least it’s the best of the crappy vodkas. Also, there are the no-name rail brands. I already talked about why to avoid them here.
Some rail brands include Vladimir and Aristocrat. Also, stay away from the other “house” brands or ones in plastic bottles. And the CVS brand vodka too. OK, that’s enough about the worst vodkas… gross.

The Mediocre
These are the medium grade vodkas, where the product and price are the middle of the road. The best example I can think of, and you may not agree, is Smirnoff vodka- the product is so-so and the price is moderate. As I talked about earlier, Grey Goose is another medium quality vodka that is priced and marketed as premium quality. Sorry Goose fans, but hey, at least it’s got the prettiest bottle out of the so-so brands. Anyway, I have a hard time getting excited and writing a lot about mediocrity. In closing, please order or buy these if you are feeling cheap (like I often do) instead of the rail brands.

Hip-Hop’s Favorite Vodkas
There are two vodkas that seem to be the preference of rappers, which in turn, seem to have made these vodkas popular among those who seek to emulate the hip-hop personae or are particularly immersed in hip-hop culture. Said differently, these are popular vodkas for getting your “thug life on.”

One rapper preferred vodka is Ciroc- a French vodka made from grapes (not a lot of vodkas are) that is distilled 5 times. It’s officially endorsed by Sean “Puffy” Combs, AKA P. Diddy- a famous rapper and hip-hop tycoon. Promo pictures of Puffy and Ciroc like the one here are everywhere. He even gets paid thousands of dollars to go to big clubs, take pictures with bottles of Ciroc and drink it for a few hours that night. This is also why people mean Ciroc when they order a “P. Diddy and cranberry.” There are a million adjectives flying through my head right now to describe ordering the drink this way- please pick your own.

The other most rapper preferred vodka is Grey Goose. If I hear one more rapper rhyme “Goose” with “loose,” I’m going to deduce that it’s time to kick their caboose until they vamoose without an excuse- fo realz. I love rap music and hear these words rhymed together way too often. So, if you are looking to maintain your hip-hop personae, take it to the next level or fit in with rappers, make sure that you drink these vodkas- just don't lose your chain or dew rag if you get too crunk.

In Closing
This has been my most opinion-based blog posting yet. When people read opinions that do not match their own, they get pissed off or annoyed. I’m sure there are angry folk now with differing opinions about vodka and you think your opinion is the right one. That’s fine and if yours is different- cool, lets go drinking and we can share some knowledge!


P.S. Here are more Absolut ads that I thought were cool. You can look at a bunch more here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Vodka: Helping People Get Drunk Since the 8th Century.

This post is in 2 parts. In this part, I will be talking some about the basics of vodka. Then in the next section, I’ll go over some of the better vodkas to order, some of the nasty ones and the overrated ones that you think are good but aren’t.

What Makes Good Vodka?
Good vodka is supposed to be tasteless and odorless because it is supposed to be only pure water and pure alcohol. However, they all have some type of taste, but are supposed to lack flavor like gin or bourbon. A lot of taste is a vodka no-no (except flavor infused vodkas).

This is why vodka has been traditionally the “woman’s alcohol,” because it won’t leave you smelling like you’ve been drinking. Apparently back then it wasn’t considered lady like to smell like booze and be overtly drunk. This has changed a little since like the 1940s because given the right place and time of night, some men consider it extremely appealing- but I digress…

Good vodka has a smooth taste and good texture with minimal burn. Bad ones burn and taste gross. Yes, tasting good and bad are subjective, which is why there is no absolute “good” or “bad” but only informed opinion regarding vodkas. For example, Ciroc vodka (French vodka endorsed by Sean “Puffy” Combs, which is the main alcoholic ingredient in a P. Diddy and cranberry, a delectable and classy drank- I can't make this stuff up) is considered high quality vodka, being distilled 5 times. However, it has a distinct taste that some really like and others hate. A big exception to this is rail brand vodkas- if you love these, read a book, please. Additionally, if you are ordering a P. Diddy and cranberry or a P. Diddy and anything for that matter, read a book too. In fact, read a couple of books.

How Is Good Vodka Made?
There are 2 main factors that go into making quality vodka.
1) The first of vodka’s 2 main ingredients is pure alcohol. The more pure the alcohol, the nicer the product. The alcohol is purified by a process of distilling, and a process of purifying. The better the distilling process it’s gone through and the better the purifying process it’s gone though, the nicer the product.

How to Drink Vodka
I classify vodka drinks into two categories. Drinks that are mostly vodka and drinks that are vodka mixed with flavors. There can be other systems too.

Mostly vodka drinks include drinks that primarily rely on the taste of the vodka and don’t add a whole lot of other flavors. Some of these include vodka martinis, vodka on the rocks, gimlets and vodka sodas. These are the types of drinks that it’s much more important to order the high quality vodkas.

Vodka mixed with flavor drinks are all the others- these are mixed drinks that have vodka, and some other stuff that also adds flavor. These include cranberry vodkas, vodka tonics, white Russians, screwdrivers… the list can go on forever. You don’t have to add the nicest vodkas in these drinks- mid level ones will do just fine. I would actually say that it’s a waste (mostly of your money, but of the vodka too) to put super high quality vodka in a drink with other flavors because you just won’t taste the difference.

Flavor Infused Vodkas
Personally, I think these are awesome, but I am sure that there are plenty of vodka enthusiasts who disagree. Lots of vodka labels are now making flavor infused vodkas. There are the more popular flavors that lots of brands make, such as orange, vanilla and citrus. Then there are the more obscure flavors such as bubble gum, passion fruit and bacon (the main alcoholic ingredient in a breakfast shot, along with maple syrup, orange juice and pancake mix, which I made up). Also, don’t forget about the sweet tea and espresso flavors, mmm MMMM! For a bigger list of flavor infused vodkas, check out this Wikipedia article.

In the next article, I’ll talk about the good, medium, bad and overrated brands of vodka.


Want to buy some great vodka and get it delivered to your door? In an hour? And get $5 off? Check out Drizly. It's the only way I buy alcohol anymore.