Archive for August, 2010

August 26, 2010

Special Occassion Wine, 2005 Chateau Franc La Rose


When I was single and I had a big date, I used to put on special underwear. You know, the nicest pair in the drawer. Ever since I’ve been married, I just buy all special underwear, because, well every night could be a big date.

As an aside, this reminds me of the proper way to shop for lingere. Men, you do know how to shop for lingere don’t you? Go to the best shop you can afford. Ask for a sweet sales person to assist you. Have her select the sauciest number possible – I’m talkin ’bout one that would raise Monsieur Eiffel from the dead. Once she finds the right one, rip it from her delicate perfumed grasp and toss it to the floor. Survey it for a moment laying prone on the rug, then declare, “That looks  perfect. I’l take it.”

OK, back to the topic. Now when it’s going to be an exceptional night, one with a reason to celebrate, I pick a distinctive wine. What could be better than a classified red wine from Bordeaux, the most celebrated wine region in the world?  Last year I grabbed a several 2005 bottles to hold on to as it was a pretty good vintage. The sad thing is I can’t seem to leave them alone. I keep drinking them.

Last night we decided to celebrate one of life’s important moments and opened up a 2005 Château Franc La Rose Saint-Émilion Grand Cru. It is produced by Jean-Louis Trocard, a family that has made wines since the year 1620. Saint-Émilion is the oldest area of Bordeaux and produces arguably the heartiest wines in the region. This particular wine is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc grapes grown on 40 year old vines. It’s aged for 18 months in new French oak to round out the tannins.

My mouth was watering as I decanted the Château Franc La Rose. This is special underwear wine.

Look A royal amethyst ring of deep garnet with ruby edges.
Smell Intense woody, cocoa, spicy and bold blackberry. Fleshy enough to put a nice curve in her most special underwear.
Taste After the anticipation brought about by the wine’s heritage and the luscious nose, I expected an audacious, rich wine. What I tasted wasn’t the dark blackberries and cocao. It was more like reserved raspberries and the saline peck of meaty blood. A much less voluptuous wine than I expected, although it had the courtesy to have a long, vanilla and oak finish.
Price $28

It turns out that this was decent underwear wine. The kind you wear when you’re not exactly sure you’re going to get lucky, but think it might be a possibility. For the money, I think I’d buy a different bottle the next time.

What are you drinking?

August 26, 2010

Do you love to drink in Austin?


DrinkUP Austin is a handy guide for great happy hours and the what’s what of bars in Austin. Today they posted a survey on Twitter (@drinkupaustin) to find out more about Austinites drinking and online habits. It looks like they will build a handy drink special and coupon tool based on the feedback. Take a look and weigh in on it: http://drnk.in/survey-one. Who knows, maybe they will create something that keeps us in bars even more.  

August 24, 2010

A drink for Livestrong


What is the official drink of the Austin Livestrong Challenge? There is one way for you to find out. Make a donation to my Livestrong campaign benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation and I’ll invite you to my bad-ass house party on Saturday, September 25 to thank you for your generous contribution to the fight against cancer.

The good folks at Treaty Oak Rum and Graham’s Texas Tea are donating their fantastic hooch and suggesting some fantastic cocktail recipes. I’m accepting donations from all other producers and distributors, so don’t be shy. Regardless of donations, there will be plenty of delicious drinks for you to choose from.

To keep you thirsty, we have the incredible DJ, el john Selector, of Thievery Corporation fame spinnin mind-melt-booty-rock. He will definitely keep your ass shakin. Check him out serving as the conguerro in this Thievery video.

Bottom line: this will be a ridiculously fun party and it supports a very important cause. Make a donation and get an invitation.

August 22, 2010

Texas Shandy


It’s 102F in the shade. The heat index is in the neighborhood of 110. Too damn hot. What to do?

How about an ice cold Saint Arnold Summer Pils brewed in Houston with a shot of Paula’s Texas Lemon liqueur? That’ll do. A Texas pilsner with a Texas limoncello makes a mighty fine Texas Shandy give it a try and lemme know what you think.

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August 19, 2010

Wine Tasting is for Snobs


The whole concept of a wine tasting sounds forced and stuffy. When you hear the term, don’t ya just picture a bunch of pretentious snots trying to out-do each other with pompous descriptions like, “I detect herbaceous notes,” and “the musky, mushroom mid-palette speaks to the terroir,” and other such nonsense?  

 Why does it have to be so complicated? Why can’t we just enjoy drinking the wine? Of course I’m going to taste it when I drink it. Do I have to call it a tasting?

 OK, so I don’t wear an ascot, but I do like a wine tasting. Surprise. A genuine wine tasting is a great way to find new wines, explore the true characteristics of a wine in a semi-structured way, have fun with friends and. . . it doesn’t have to be affected. I actually go through the whole tasting process in my head when I’m trying a new wine at home, so why not do it with a bunch of fun people?

So I did. I led a wine tasting for a group of friends to share experiences of three Italian wines. We took a casual approach to our tasting and figured picking wines from one country is enough without needing to get extremely specific the varietal. This was our Nordstrom Rack tasting – you know, same great label at a discount price. I selected wines from producers that make prestigious wines and also affordable, anytime drinkin wines. We had a 2006 Masi Campofiorin, a 2008 Rosso Di Montalcino and a 2008 Langhe Nebbiolo.

We used tasting sheets to guide our assessment of each wine on the basics: look, smell and taste. We checked out the color and clarity. We swirled and sniffed to describe the nose, complexity and intensity of the aroma. And finally we drank them making sure to trill and chew the wines to get the full flavor. We rated their complexity, texture and weight, balance and the duration of the finish. Here is a summary of our tasting.

Masi Campofiorin

This is our budget Amarone. It’s a really interesting Valpolicella wine from the in the Veneto region in Northern Italy. It’s made through a cool process of introducing a second fermentation by pouring the over dried Amarone grape skins. This gives it more heft and a bigger aroma.

Look Warm and lush, deep red like a bruise on Sophia Loren’s thigh.
Smell Black cherries drying on a rustic wood bench.
Taste The swagger of Sylvester Stallone in Rocky I with bold cherry and a hint of tobacco. The affable beginning gave way to moody tawny port with a mid-length spicy finish.
Price $13.75

 Rosso di Montalcino

This Tuscan made with Sangiovese grapes is a running mate of the prestigious Brunello di Montalcino. It’s from the same vineyards and same Denominazione di Origine Controllata designation. The difference is that it is turned out of the house at a younger age, while the Brunello lays around on the couch eating mom and dad’s food for a few more years. Less aging means its less set in its ways and costs less for us to buy.

Look As brick red as that brick house we all know and love.  
Smell Violets and spice spiked with a friendly wink of alcohol.
Taste Vivacious, medium curvy build yet tight enough to remind you of your youth. This one hands over a blackberry to be bitten off vine and lets the flavor linger for a long time.
Price $22.50

Langhe Nebbiolo  

I previously reviewed this wine and you can read about it here.

The favorite of the night? The Rosso di Montalcino. The consensus was that it was a more complex and enjoyable wine than the other two. The runner up with a nod to the great price was the Masi Campofiorin. I’ll buy all three of them again.

What about you? Are you turned off by a wine tasting? Or do you want to try it and you’re not quite sure how to go about it. Give me a shout, I’m happy to come over and guide you through it with a group of friends. 

The wines we tasted were purchased at Austin Wine Merchant.

What are you drinking?

August 12, 2010

Tito’s and Lemonade at Luster Pearl


Tropical night in the backyard of Luster Pearl and the fans obscelecently spin against the thick heat. Zeppelin and AC/DC thump from speakers hung in trees to the amusement of hipsters playing ping pong and whirling hula hoops.

Sweat drips down my back. I’m angry at my beers inability to quench my thirst. Thank God the bartender came thru with a Tito’s, soda and lemonade. This picnic table now can drink my sweat for a while longer.

That one worked.

August 12, 2010

Townhouse for a Serious Cocktail


When I go out for dinner I want to go someplace where the chef is willing to explore interesting pairings of quality ingredients and serve them with an artistic flair. If I want a basic steak, I can do that at home. We’ve come to expect creativity and excellence in fine dining. The same thing is true with swank drinks.

Austin has a thirst for good drink and fortunately has several excellent places to quench that thirst. Garrett Mikell, a local celeb in the mixologist world, recently opened a cozy boozing den called Townhouse, located on 5th near the intersection of Lavaca. When I first walked in, I instantly relaxed as if they pumped in vaporized Xanax. The chill lighting, exposed brick, high ceilings with pressed tin panels, rich wood bar back scaling to the ceiling accessed with a library ladder, intimate groupings of mismatched couches and chairs on Oriental rugs said, “you look like you could use a damned fine drink.” Yes, yes I could. Add to that a delightful greeting from our gorgeous server, Jennifer, and I was on the verge of bliss.

Jennifer gave me a run-down of the über creative and witty drink menu featuring house-made infused whisky, vodka, rum and gin. Garrett flexed his ingenious cocktail brain to bring us a twist on the mint julep, “Kentucky Derby’s Bitch,” an internet meme in the making, “OMG LOL WTF” and the love-child of a Manhattan and a margarita, “Pancho Villa Manhattan.”

Flummoxed. There were way too many fantastic choices for me, so I turned over the keys to Jennifer, Garrett and bartenders John and Anoop to select drinks for me. Here is what I had.

French 69

This is a sexy twist on the bubbly French 77 with pink peppercorn infused Right gin, lemon simple syrup, champagne and a mist of atomized crème de violet that they spray over the drink to transform it into brilliance. The crème de violet actually changes the color of the drink right before your eyes.

Look Classic Martini glass filled with a lilac slurpy with a haze of fine froth, garnished with a lemon twist.
Smell Sassy French lass blowing bubbles with violet gum.
Taste It came on with bomb-pop sweetness without being syrupy. The bubbly tickled away the sweet letting it ease into a fruit finish that completely obscured any hint of a bitter bite of juniper.
Price $8

Freshershest (slurred like a drunk saying Exorcist)

A theatrical presentation starting off with a pineapple dusted with sugar and torched for caramelized deliciousness, then muddled and mixed with scarlet Ibis blended Trinidad rum, lime tincture and soda.

Look Jolly Rancher lemon yellow smiled up at me, asking to be drunk.
Smell Coy citrus beckoned me in for a closer sniff.
Taste Hawaiian hula dancer swaying her hips before I put it to my lips. A luau of pineapple without the pig.
Price $10

Where is My Stapler?

A hangover breakfast treat if there ever was one. A sophisticated cousin of the bloody Mary with tomato infused Tito’s vodka, black pepper simple, cucumber slices and spears and fresh basil leaves.

Look Tall, lean cylinder basil shreds and cucumber slices suspended in hazy plasma. Not a hint of tomato red.
Smell A fresh cup of gazpacho with spicy black pepper.
Taste Slap-its-face fresh with smooth tomato, clean cucumber and minty basil. I wanted another one of these. Sensational.
Price $9

Hornet’s Ankles

Get the blow-torch out again for thyme brûléed clementine orange in this bee’s knees drink with honeycomb infused gin, lemon simple syrup and raw honey and bits of honey comb.

Look Autumn brown orange leaves in the lazy afternoon sun.
Smell High tea in Nigella Lawson’s herb garden.
Taste Grand Marnier playing with matches. While good, this is the only drink that wasn’t as balanced as I’d like. The thyme over powered the subtle raw honey.
Price $9

My good friend Cotton Candy says that Austin is a town of accidental nights out. There are too many great places to go to stay in at night. When you go out intentionally with the purpose of finding high-caliber cocktails, try Townhouse. Garrett takes his drinks seriously, mixing excellent elements with top-quality liquor. He pays attention to every last detail, including using cold draft cube ice that melts slowly so it doesn’t water down your drink.

If you need more information, you can check out the Townhouse Facebook page or check them out on Twitter @townhouseinfuse (though they haven’t posted anything yet).

Check out this video of John mixing my drinks.

What are you drinking?

August 11, 2010

New bar from the Owners of Clive Bar and Lustre Pearl Opening in September


Fabulous Drinks Austin says that “the folks who own Clive Bar and Lustre Pearl in the happening Rainey Street District have a new bar opening on September 4th called “96” as in 96 Rainey Street. Stay tuned for details….” Thanks for letting us know Nicole!

August 10, 2010

Seriously, what are you *not* drinking at Lollapalooza?


Guest post from the lovely JenCad of “Oh, and one more thing…” fame. Thanks Jen!

Last weekend I was sent on a mission to ask the question “What are you drinking?” of the festival goers at Lollapalooza. After three days of investigating the behaviors of the broad spectrum of personalities that take part in boozapalooza each year, I believe it is most appropriate to change that question to “What are you not drinking at Lollapalooza?”

To the untrained booze mixing brain, the choices may have seemed limited. Particularly in the VIP lounges, where we spent the bulk of our time (yep, spoiled VIP snobs, and proud of it), we were essentially bound by beer, wine or vodka drinks. Mixers included all the Sweet Leaf Tea flavors, Red Bull (regular and the awesomeness that is chemical laden sugar-free) and soda or tonic. Well, mix we did. When it’s all just there and so readily available, your are often tempted to try something different every time. It was really interesting to watch what everyone else was swirling/sloshing around in their plastic cups.

There were the done up ladies that pretty much stuck to wine whilst sitting in the shade and fanning themselves.

Macho men that bragged about how many tall boys they could suck down in an hour.

Dancing Queens that just wanted to take down as much vodka as they could, as fast as they could, so they could get on out in front of a stage for some booty shaking.

And, the well-rounded folks (such as me and my team), who were just trying to take it all in. And by take it all in, I mean come up with every concoction possible with the ingredients provided.

It is when we left the VIP haven, though, that things really got interesting. Depending on who was on stage, or which stage you were hanging by, people’s beverages differed as much as their outfits. The Perry Stage (affectionately referred to by me as the barfing stage), was the most entertaining. Not because of who was on stage (all DJs) but because the crowd consisted of all the teenagers who had just swallowed four bags of magic mushrooms and consumed whatever liquor they could sneak in from their parents’ stash. Makes for one crazy dance party.

Don’t even get me started on Wolfmother. Let’s just say that mullets and beer really do go hand in hand.

At the end of the day, just like the music, the outfits and the company, Lollapalooza drinking preferences, are just that…preferences. Here, anything goes. We even created a new drink, that we are now calling Arkansas Sangria, during a pre-party lunch. Red Wine mixed with lime flavored La Croix soda water. Yum.

What I do know, is by the time the end of day three rolls around, many people followed this little man’s lead. Three days of Lollapalooza is a long haul and, if you are smart, at the end of the road hydration becomes the leading motivator!

Ahhh. Water.

 

August 9, 2010

Show Me Your Taco!


I recently went to Tacos and Tequilla with my friend, food and taco critic extrodenaire, Nelson to review the drinks. My review of the drinks at Tacos and Tquila is here. He posted his review of the tacos on his blog Show Me Your Taco. Nelson has incredible expertise in taco reviews and this one gives you the goods on TnT. He also has a couple of videos so you can get a first had view of the scene at TnT. Check out his site and his videos.