Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A cork tale

By Sallyofmayflower https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11380934
I am not a fan of using cork for distilled spirits. There are a bunch of reasons, but here is one. A magnificent brand of tequila uses cork and the first time I taste it, it was tainted with TCA . If I didn't know what TCA smells like or taste like I would have just thought bad things about that great tequila and would have never tried it again. Now all of the experts in the industry agree that TCA cannot live in high proof alcohol, but it lives happily in lower proof , but distilled spirits are strong enough to kill It off. But, when I tasted this tequila it very obviously had the flavor of cork taint. The salesman, the brand representative, others from the Distributors-- all the people who sell this product we're convinced that I was insane. Then along came several wine experts who also happened to work at this wonderful shop and I asked them if they could identify the aroma that I was smelling in this tequila and without pause, they identified it immediately as TCA. Just because higher proof alcohol will kill TCA doesn't mean that if the cork is Tainted with TCA that the flavor of TCA won't be added to the spirit. Alcohol is a solvent it will absorb whatever flavor it comes in contact with.: cork taint, plastic, the chemical used to treat the corks; also as solvent alcohol will eat the cork. Cork breaks down fast in distilled spirits and actually isn't great for lower proof alcohol unless it is intended to age a long time and great care is used in cork preparation, fitting, and storage. That's my cork rant for the day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Continued thoughts on Brandy and Sherry

Brandy and Sherry are the Double Whoopee? I needed a picture.

Well, the third week and I am excited to be writing for you lovely people again. It is interesting when thinking about how difficult routine can be and how powerfully influential it can be if we allow it. Which is all just code to say that I didn't want to write this, but I'm going to anyway; because I love you and I said I would. So to continue on the subject that I discussed last week, the utilization of what have become rarities in the cocktail world. It is a confusing conundrum to me how craft bartenders and cocktail historians don't immediately gravitate to brandy or Sherry. If you think about the beauty, fun and infectious character of vermouth or Rum (both of which, I love), a simple, easier, more accessible flavor profile than of both of those is Brandy and Sherry. If you look at cocktails that are now ubiquitous, that are now commonplace, such as the Margarita or Manhattan and it's very easy to see the foundations of the Margarita is the Sidecar or the Manhattan in a Metropolitan cocktail; both of which easily predate the originals by AT LEAST a half of a century. It's also easy to see and historically understand the foundation of a drink like a Sazerac, but there are bartenders, skilled, comprehensive, and well regarded that don't even know the original base of a Sazerac was Brandy and that the drink itself was actually named after a brandy called Sazerac de Forge Et Fils. To think about these contradictions and it's perplexing to me why craft bartenders and home bartenders don't immediately gravitate to the flavor complexity the use of Brandy.
To understand how these Titans of Mixology fell out of favor it's super easy to understand. At the historical moment when cocktails were gaining importance, movement, and traction in society across all cultural lines something terrible happened to the all the grapes in Europe where the Brandy and Sherry were coming from, it was the phylloxera blight. Right at the time, people could get their head around and their hands on something they thoroughly enjoyed, the availability went through the floor and the prices went through the roof--very suddenly. What would you do if all you could find was whiskeys, rums, liqueurs, and bitters? You would adapt--and QUICK. By the time they had figured out the phylloxera problem, what caused it the blight and a solution to get it under control, access, production, and supply models had completely changed. When Brandy and Sherry finally emerged, the world had moved on. But how do we get it back into everybody's hand? Now the well-aged, much revered and prohibitively more expensive than usable Brandy and Sherry is all anyone discusses. But in other parts of the world, this isn't true? So, I repeat: How do we get Brandy and Sherry back into everybody's hand? I promised drinks to try and I swear I will post them! I am doing a Silent Film Event on Thursday Evening (Laurel and Hardy, see I tied the picture in!) and was going to try to get pictures there. If you are around Long Beach on Thursday, let me know, I have a couple of guest passes or I could probably get tickets at a discount

So until next week, I lift my glass to you in a toast my friends. Be good to one another, love one another, share your kindness, your sweetness, and possibly a beverage with someone!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Metropolitan, made by Andrew Winters at The Exhibition Room Long Beach
I'm excited about what I am about to discuss. I was talking with a friend of mine Benito QuiƱonez (he is a legend in the spirits industry, and a wonderful human being, I am proud to call him my friend) about Brandy and Sherry. We both had noticed that there was a surprising a lack of utilization of Brandy and Sherry in craft or cocktails classic cocktails in the US. Now I know, all of you who have done any research or study into the subject of classic cocktails know that the impetus and creation of what we understand to be cocktails hinges pretty squarely on Brandy and on Sherry (you could add rum to this also). Easily some of the most popular drinks that ever existed historically were created utilizing one or the other of these and most of the drinks that rose up afterward to join that historical pantheon were based on those same drinks. The Cobbler, the Flip, the Sour, the Daisy, the Crusta, Old Fashioneds, Sazeracs, etcetera, etcetera, et al. Before that, there were punches (which brings up the rum again) which also famously utilized Brand and Sherry in their structure. Today, when you go into a craft cocktail bar, it is surprising if they have more than one Brandy or one Sherry available and usually, it's an extensively aged or a higher-end that is more likely to be lost or greatly diminished by making a cocktail with it. I'll go so far as to say what is considered a beautiful aged spirit or a subtle/complex fortified wine will MORE OFTEN THAN NOT ruin a cocktail and simultaneously make it ridiculously cost prohibitive; rather than enlarged or beautified by being in the cocktail, it is broken, subdued or completely out of balance. So Benito and I were talking about this (you can see how easily I am caught up in this discussion). There are seriously magnificent cocktails that aren't being enjoyed because: a) the prohibitive cost of using aged Brandy or Fine Sherry. b) the appalling flavor conflict and lack of balance from using ancient spirits. and c) the agist or twee notion that Brandy and Sherry are to be sipped by the elderly or posh. Of course, if you factor in the reality that's something that has been aged, blended and produced specifically to be sipped on its own, is very likely not going to stand up to the pressures of complicated ingredients utilized in craft cocktails this all makes sense. For instance a very famous Brandy cocktail a Sidecar is basically lemon juice, orange liqueur, and Brandy; that's a strong acid, a sweet liqueur and a spirit that better be able to stand up for itself. I'm quite sure you recognize the 'recipe' formula already. Now if you take something like that and you make it with an aged spirit or Sherry it's going to be flabby, dusty, broken, uninteresting and it's going to convey all of the wrong things and none of the freshness or vitality necessary to be enjoyed as it is intended. Or, take another classic Brandy cocktail like the Metropolitan and you build it with an ancient Brandy and you'll see how easy it is overwhelmed by the vermouth and the bitters. In the countries where Brandy and Sherry are famously made and generously consumed you will notice something specific about how they are drunk. There'll be a younger Brandy or Sherry and it will be mixed with soda or tonic or fruit juice in a highball, the same way that we would take a rum, gin, whiskey or even vodka and make a casual drink, or elevate it into a craft cocktail. They will sip on a more aged brandy or a richer, more advanced/intricate sherry but make cocktails with younger brandy and fino or cream sherry because those ingredients can dance with the strong flavors instead of fighting. So for the next couple of inserts that I'm going to put into my blog, I'm going to address several inexpensive Brandy's that you can utilize in a cocktail very easily and each one of them I will try a couple of different ways so that those of you who are following along at home can get a really good sense of how to use Brandy's and what kind of recipes to use for cocktails. I will also, try to get some sherry and do the same thing
So until next week, I lift my glass to you in a toast my friends. Be good to one another, love one another, share your kindness, your sweetness, and possibly a beverage with someone!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy Anniversary! Happy New Year! Happy~Happy!

Well happy anniversary to 'a drink with Forrest!'
That's right, it is the 10th anniversary of 'a drink with Forrest'. Thank you, all of my friends and followers. You are appreciated. I have big plans for this year, but first, I want to say~~
That's right, I made this online. . . and it shows!
What else would I do on the 10th anniversary besides freshening it up? I have gone through to remove a couple hundred posts and the posts that have remained are also still up for editing, revision, and possible deletion.
The better news is I have decided and made a commitment to myself to change the way I handle this blog. Originally, I would write reviews as bottles were given to me, occasionally offering my own bottles up to be reviewed. Then I started having an internal dilemma, thinking to myself "wow they're getting free press and I didn't even get a drink"; this didn't make sense at all, because the blog is called 'a drink with Forrest'.
If you have followed through the years you've noticed that when I started the blog I was writing 3 or 4 times a week and eventually it got to be less than once a month. Rather than penalize my devoted readers I have decided to submit an article a week at least. It will be a post in essay form, conversational in tone, and it will basically reflections of things I'm experiencing, contemplating, interested in, etcetera. Essentially, it will be like having 'a drink with Forrest'.
If I start getting free bottles for review again I will still throw those in on top of this weekly article but the article will come no matter what.
To begin this practice, I'm going to call this Happy Anniversary post my first offering of the New Year. I don't know about you guys but I'm excited for 2019.
To be frank with you the last few years have not been pleasant. Actually, they have been deeply unpleasant. I am excited about the possibilities that 2019 represents. I'm excited for the chance to have musings with all of you, in the form of these letters/articles/missives to all of you, my lovelies in the blogosphere, on a weekly appointment.

So until next week, I lift my glass to you in a toast my friends. Be good to one another, love one another, share your kindness, your sweetness, and possibly a beverage with someone. Happy New Year from'a drink with Forrest'!

*To toast you, I am sipping a Don Pedro Brandy, in anticipation of a review/article I am going to do.