Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

January 2, 2011

2010 in review


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 58 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 73 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 29mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 30th with 139 views. The most popular post that day was Grown up drinks for grown up tastes: Péché Austin.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, austinbloggerawards.com, stumbleupon.com, and yelp.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for shotgun beer, beer shotgun, girl in martini glass, blanc pescador, and girl in a martini glass.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Grown up drinks for grown up tastes: Péché Austin November 2010

2

Hangover Helper: 11 Tips to Survive Holiday Parties December 2010
6 comments

3

About What are You Drinking? June 2010
5 comments

4

Lost in Translation? Try Oban 14 Single Malt Scotch Whisky September 2010
2 comments

5

Suitable Wines for a Summer Romance July 2010
3 comments

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December 19, 2010

What are you drinking? has a new home!


I’ve finally purchased a domain name and have a hosted site at www.WhatAreYouDrinking.net. I’m in the process of recreating my site there and plan to have new wine reviews up soon. Let me know what you think.

December 11, 2010

Size Matters: How to Make an Impression at Holiday Parties


I’m a huge proponent of going to as many parties as possible during the holiday season, particularly the parties that have full, hosted bars. There are plenty of parties at friends’ homes to attend as well. When you attend a private party, you should always bring a bottle of something to augment the host’s supply, whether they need it or not. It’s a nice gift if it isn’t served.

This holiday season, why not make a positive impression by bringing an over-sized bottle of wine to your next party? The holidays are all about excess and I know you are in the holiday spirit, so go for it.  Stand out by presenting your host with a Magnum, Jeroboam or even a Rehoboam or festive Champagne or red wine. You can’t go wrong.

There are several sizes of wine bottles. There is absolutely no reason to bring an ordinary bottle to a festive event when you can do more. Here’s a handy reference guide for you.  

Volume (liters) Ratio (bottles) Name What it means
0.1875 0.25 Piccolo It means “small” in Italian, and is also known as a quarter bottle, pony, snipe or split. It is the common size served when you order bubbly by the glass. To me this is just a novelty. Why in the hell would anyone embarrass a perfectly good wine by putting it in something so unfulfilling? The only reason to take these to a party is if you have a car-load of ‘em and you’re using them as stocking stuffers.
0.375 0.5 Demi It means “half” in French., so its cleverly known as a half bottle or split. It is a reasonable size if you want a little wine with dinner by yourself. These are completely useless at a party and will no doubt cause you to be seen as “half” a guest.
0.750 1 Standard This is your normal bottle that you see everywhere. Legend has it that the size was based on the amount an average Frenchman could consume at lunch without being too impaired to return to work. If you are absolutely common and ordinary in every way, bring this size bottle. “Oh look honey, Mr. Average is here to bore the hell out of us.”
1.5 2 Magnum The double bottle. These are relatively easy to find and affordable. It’s just big enough to make a good impression when you walk into a party. It says, “I’m not messin around here.”
3.0 4 Jeroboam Oh yeah, the “Double Magnum.” It is named for a Biblical king and has kingly dimensions. If you tote this bad boy into a party, you’ll definitely get invited back next year (unless you sleep with the host’s significant other).
4.5 6 Rehoboam This beast is about as big as you can get and still feasibly carry it to a party and pour from it without making an atrocious mess. We’re talking about an entire ½ case of wine in one bottle here. It’s also named for a Biblical king. Walk into a party with this, and you’ll be king.

There are several other sizes of wine bottles going all the way up to the 40 bottle Melchizedek. You’re not going to find the ultra-large size bottles unless you special order them. These are the bottles you see as ornamentation at fine restaurants and wine shops. Call your favorite wine shop ahead of time to see what they have on hand in a large format bottle. Your friends will love you for it.

I recently did this with a Magnum of Domaine de Mourchon 2006 “Grande Reserve” Cotes du Rhone Villages. The winery is on top of a hill in the village of Provencal Seguret, located in southern Cotes du Rhone. It’s a fairly new winery, founded in 1998 with existing vineyards. They make three lines of wine, and the “Grand Reserve” is a blend of Grenache and Syrah from old vines.

Here is what you can expect.

Look The rich purple of an advent candle burning for Christmas.
Smell The makings a fine fruit cake with nutmeg, toasty cinnamon, fennel, raspberries and plums simmering on the stove.
Taste This wine is a holiday feast of jammy black cherries, currant, white pepper and carpaccio. Its medium body moves from fruit to earth before a mid-length finish of smooth tannins.
Price $38 (or $20 for a standard 750 ml)

This is a respectable wine and downright jolly in a large format bottle. So what’s it going to be? Will you be remembered as the guest that brought the huge bottle of fantastic wine? Or will you be forgotten?

What are you drinking?

December 8, 2010

Hangover Helper: 11 Tips to Survive Holiday Parties


The holiday party season is in full swing, and you know what that means: FREE BOOZE. If you’re like me, you’ll be trying to cram more than one party into every night between now and New Year’s Eve. With all of that boozing comes the inevitable hangover. We’ve all had them and we’ve lived through them – even if we think we won’t in the moment.

There are many ways to avoid hangovers starting with moderation. But if you are a reader of this blog, that is not in your vocabulary. You can also avoid fruit juices and mixers that are high in sugar, drink white wine rather than red, avoid carbonated beverages and drink clear liquor rather than dark. All well and good, but it’s much easier to live la vida loca during the holidays.

Before you seek the soothing comfort of cold bathroom tile this holiday season, prepare yourself with an ounce of prevention and by parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Here are some tips for avoiding hangovers and remedies to get you back in the saddle for the next party.

Avoidance

  1. The helpful reminder: Before you go out, put a chair on top of your bed. Place two aspirin or Ibuprofen tablets on the seat of the chair. When you stumble home ready to fall into bed to sleep the sleep of the anesthetized, you will have to remove the chair first. Ah, those delightful pain relievers are waiting right there to knock the headache back before it starts.
  2. Lead the horse: Put a baby wading pool just inside your front door and fill it with fresh water. When you get home from the parties don’t go any further into your house before you stoop and drink deeply from the trough. Hydration is the key to avoiding a nasty bout of brown bottle flu.
  3. Get a complex: B complex vitamins – folic acid, biotin, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin, aka B12 – taken before you binge can prevent a hangover. Take a B12 vitamin about 4 hours before you go out, another one right before you walk out the door, and then a third before you go to bed. Vitamin B12 naturally boosts the body’s energy, but it takes hydration and rest to work best. Drink plenty of water with each one, get a decent amount of sleep and your chances of dodging the dastardly hangover are greatly improved.
  4. Go Irish: Eat potatoes before you drink. Potatoes contain flavonoids which can help reduce hangover symptoms and keep you from feeling too fragile.
  5. Dilution solution: The most basic recommendation for feeling good in the morning is don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eat a sandwich, eat some pasta, eat some peanuts or almonds. Eat something. Food will help dilute the alcohol in your stomach and slow its absorption. That gives your body more time to metabolize it as it enters the blood stream. Look, you’re going to gain 20 pounds during the holidays anyway, so don’t risk a hangover just to look like Kate Moss.
  6. The triple fister: @candidcourtney recommends a rotation of “Cocktail…Diet Coke…H20…Cocktail…Diet Coke…H20…” The three-pronged approach gives you a buzz, a caffeine boost and keeps you hydrated at the same time. Slipping in two non-alcoholic drinks between each cocktail also moderates your consumption. Just make sure you have ready access to the loo.

Remediation

  1. Hair of the dog: This is by far the most popular recommendation I’ve heard. It typically works because it is delaying the drop in blood alcohol which is one of the causes of a hangover. Try a Bloody Mary. The vitamins in the tomato juice and celery will help.
  2. Cup of Joe: Do you think Don Draper would try and ride out a hangover without a cup of coffee? Hell no. The theory goes that alcohol dilates the blood vessels causing those pounding headaches. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels to alleviate that pain. The trick here is that caffeine, like alcohol, is a diuretic and can further dehydrate you thereby exacerbating your headache. So drink that coffee, but pair it with some water.
  3. Elevate the electrolytes: Hydration is an absolute must to ease that hangover and you can speed it along by drinking something with sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate like Gatorade, Powerade and even that Pedialyte stuff that you give to pukey babies.
  4. Drugs! This could be an entire blog post in itself, but I’ll stick to the basics. I swear by Alka-Seltzer. It settles the stomach, kills the headache and if you put a swizzle stick in it, you can imagine you’re right back off the wagon. If you’re an amateur and don’t keep Alka-Seltzer handy, grab a good old fashioned Aspirin or an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen. Be careful though, both can further upset your stomach. Avoid Tylenol or its generic equivalent, Acetaminophen. Paired with alcohol it can really tear into that already battered liver. If you’re a Heath Ledger wannabe, rummage through the medicine cabinet to see if you can fish out some Codeine, Vicodin, Percocet or the like. Knock a few of those back and you’ll be feeling something else altogether.
  5. The greasy spoon: Even if eating a big greasy breakfast doesn’t technically cure a hangover, it sure can make you feel a little better. A fat burger covered with cheese, chili and bacon and side of fries is my favorite. If you really want the greasy breakfast trick to work, you have to eat it before you go to bed to slow the absorption of alcohol. Have the cabbie drop you off at the all night diner on the way home. Better yet, find someone sweet to make a late night breakfast for you.

With a little bit of planning and after care, we’ll all make it through the holiday bender season one party at a time. There are tons of ways to prevent and cure hangovers. What are your favorite?  Don’t be a Scrooge and keep them to yourself.

What are you drinking?

November 8, 2010

Where are you drinking in Chicago? Bull & Bear


Chicago definitely has a healthy drinking culture, which is a good thing for your humble author. There are liquor stores and bars on just about every block in the city and the bars stay open late. You’re not going to go thirsty there.

I recently had the good fortune of being back in Sweet Home Chicago and my good friend, @kerrierieo, invited me to join her and her friends at the Bull & Bear in River North. The name is a dual play on the two prominent Chicago professional sports teams and the stock market. It’s a sports bar located a short distance from the Chicago Board Options Exchange. On any given night it’s full of financial types downing a few while glued to a game on one of a few dozen TVs. It’s also a hang-out for sports types too. Party boy Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks star that scored the goal to win last season’s Stanley Cup, has been known to frequent it.

Kerri and her friends like B&B for the people watching (i.e. lots of hot guys), solid menu with pub grub like burgers, truffle fries and nachos, but also for slightly nicer entrees like a seared tuna salad. They also like the pajama brunches, which unfortunately doesn’t mean sipping champagne with ladies in lingerie.

Lovely Stephanie pouring a draft at our table

But the real attraction here is the table taps. That’s right, table taps. They have beer taps right in table so you don’t have to wait to be served. Genius! Talk about a great drinking culture. This is the public equivalent of those enormous sectional couches that have the mini cooler and remote control holder built into the armrest. The only thing that could make it better is if they also had urinals under the table so you don’t have to get up to pee. Bull & Bear’s claim to fame is that they are the only bar in Chicago to have this brilliant table tap system.

There were two beers on tap at our table, Bud Light and Goose Island Beer Company’s Matilda, a locally-brewed Belgian style ale. Here is a look at the Matilda.

Look Hazy amber like a butterscotch candy with a mild cream colored head.
Smell Sweet dried grass recently cut and left to molder in the pallid November sun.
Taste Like a chilled glass of run-off from a compost heap. Herbaceous, sour fruit and cedar spice with a hint of caramel on the finish. I’ve never been a fan of Belgian style ales, so my description is decidedly biased. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine beer, but not my thing. I ended up drinking more Bud Light, not just because I could reach the tap without standing up, but because I actually liked it better.
Price $0.75 an ounce or $9 for a 12oz self-poured glass. The taps are metered, so you and the wait staff know exactly how much you’ve consumed. No honor system here.

All-in-all this is a pretty decent place to drink. Why just decent for a place that has serve-your-self-beer-taps built right into the table? Isn’t that enough to give this a Nirvana rating? It should be, but there is an unnecessary air of pretense to the place. Here’s just one example: they have bathroom attendants turning on the faucet and dolling out paper towels, mints and cologne. I gotta tip the guy every time I have to take a leak? That becomes a regulator on the self-administered beer. Need I say more about why this is just decent? At least the company was good.

What are you drinking?

September 11, 2010

The Right Wine for a Tweet-Up: Arroba Winery


I’ve been hearing enough about Arroba Winery that I felt compelled to try its 2007Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sonoma Valley.  Arroba is linked with Deerfield Ranch Winery, where veteran craftsman winemaker, Robert Rex, produces delicious Zins and Syrah. The winery has a reputation for producing solid cabs and had introduced a line of affordable wines.

The first thing I noticed right away about the bottle is the ampersand featured prominently on their logo. Shrewd marketing perhaps? Using an @ just has to be a nod to the ridiculously popular social media tool, Twitter. Twitter users call out other people on it by putting an @ in front of their screen name. For example, I’m @MattMcGinnis on Twitter – adroit name huh?

Drinking this wine was just like going to a Tweet-up for me (don’t ya feel a little ridiculous saying the world tweet-up? It’s just stupid). Here is a wine that I know about by reputation, that I want to get to know better and that I have a chance to meet in person. That’s the whole concept behind Tweet-ups. They are gatherings of people that know each other online on Twitter who want to meet the real person behind the 140 character tweets. Do the people match their online personas, or is it hype? Who is that guy with the witty snark about the Austin music scene? Who is the person that posts a zillion lol catz and other memes? Who is the clever writer reviewing great cocktails and the accidents that happen after she drinks them? Who is the girl with the really hot profile photo?

There is a big Tweet-up in Austin that I go to sometimes called the Big Ass Twitter Happy Hour, or #BATHH. More than 300 people get together each month, slap their Twit name on their chest and mingle with other Twitter users. I’ve met several people that I stay in contact with off of Twitter. They are like decent wines that I’d known by online reputation that I’ve tried, like, and now buy and keep in regular rotation. I’ve met other people at BATHH that are nice enough, but aren’t nearly as interesting in person as they online. If they were wine, I wouldn’t buy them again. We’ll stick to being Twitter friends. And well, there are others that I’m getting out of the BATHH to avoid. I’m de-friending them as soon as I’m back online. I’d dump that bottle down the drain.

Let’s see how this Cab from Arroba Winery fares at a Tweet-up.

Look She carries herself well in a group setting, with rich, deep purple that could pass for opulent in a darkened bar. A great first impression at a Tweet-up.
Smell Pleasant, but not particularly well balanced with spicy raspberry, but just a little too much alcohol. On first meeting at a Tweet-up, you could see this going either way. She smells decent enough to have promise, but is that load of alcohol on her breath an indication that she doesn’t quite have it all together?  
Taste Now for the conversation. Here’s where we discover that she doesn’t measure up to the hype. Thin mouth-feel without the velvety lushness expected. The fruit is weak, unripen blackberries. She has enough alcohol to make me choke a little when I trilled the wine. She had a short finish without much to say.
Price $12

How do I break this to you Arroba Winery? It’s not you, it’s me. No, actually it’s you. You are a decent wine to serve at a Tweet-up where there is a big mix of people I don’t know all that well, some of whom don’t deserve good wine. Your snazzy packaging at least gets you in the door and your twist top makes you immediately approachable. Alas, you are not a wine that’s going to graduate from my interest in your reputation to a wine that I put in rotation at home. You’re just not that remarkable.

If I ever serve this wine to you at my house, it means that I’d prefer we stick to being just online friends. No really, you can take the rest of the wine with you in a plastic cup. There’s no reason for you to stick around any longer because you’re just not that interesting in person. See ya on Twitter.

What are you drinking?

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 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!

July 31, 2010

Front Forty Profiles Series Release Party with Mark McGinnis


http://www.shopgoldenage.com/blog/201007/front-forty-profiles-series-release-party-mark-mcginnis

Want a literary, artistic summer drink? Here is your chance.
Book Release Party

Thursday, August 5, 5 – 9pm

Please join us for some summer drinks to celebrate this inaugural issue of a continuing series on important contemporary artists! !

July 27, 2010

Need a new Wine Site?


I signed up for the beta version of Wine Everybody today to see what it’s all about. Its tagline is “The wine world is yours!” By that, I think they intend to be an aggregator of wine blogs, twitter feeds and wine events for major wine consuming countries around the world. It looks like it has potential.

I’ve just started playing with it and haven’t yet selected which wine blogs I want to follow. I added “What are you drinking?” to the feed so you can follow me there. I’m not sure how functional it is in this early version. One thing that it desperately needs is a search function. A site without search is a Slurpy without a straw.

Take a look at it and let me know what you think.