Category - Holidays

1
Notes on Opening Your New Year’s Eve Champagne
2
Merry Christmas, 2013
3
Selecting a Cocktail Kit for Christmas Giving
4
SideBlog: Pour a Cranberry Old Fashioned On Troubled Waters This Thanksgiving

Notes on Opening Your New Year’s Eve Champagne


One of the best parts of New Year’s Eve is the Champagne…

To make French 75s with!

No. Although those are delicious, Esquire’s David Wondrich describes them as “a hot-rails-to-hell spree drink“. While I’m sure there are a few who would disagree with me, I think that the point is to make New Year’s Eve memories, not New Year’s blackouts.

Mmmmm… French 75s….

No! No, this post is about straight champagne. Or more to the point, opening champagne. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can put someone’s eye out with that cork. Or you could spill your, um, swill upon the ground like Elvis up there. I have a few suggestions for opening your bottle.

Many of you may have seen this video from my hero Alton Brown about opening your chapagne. It is a simple and easy process!

So, for that method, you just need cold champagne and a cavalry saber… Um… even I don’t have a cavalry saber! I’ll have to see about fixing that for next year. Watch this space. Also, you still are opening the bottle close to your face, so if you get it wrong, spray is still an issue.

So my real offering this New Year is this video, because when you open your champagne bottle with a .50 caliber sniper rifle, you can certainly manage to be out of range of any minor spray that may result!

See! Foolproof!

If you have a stone cold sober sniper.
…and a fitty cal.
…and several backup bottles of Cristal!

OK. True, cavalry sabers and sniper rifles might be considered somewhat dangerous elements to add to your drunken revelry. Just remember, neither is as dangerous as what the guests have out in the parking lot.

I’ll finish with a single piece of sensible advice, because I ought to dispense such at least once a year, and this is my last chance.

Opening champagne is really simple to do with no mess at all.

  1. Keep your bubbly chilled and unshaken. If it is disturbed enough to “help” the cork come out, you are going to loose half the liquid when it follows the cork out the neck upon opening.
  2. Hold the bottle upright and gently remove the wire.
  3. Always keep the neck pointed at a light fixture-free section of the ceiling.
  4. Grab the cork in your fist from the side, not the top.
  5. Gently but firmly rotate the cork in the neck of the bottle. The key to removing a champagne cork is rotation, not bending or pushing!
  6. Do this slowly back and forth and the cork will slowly start to ease its way out. When it starts to come out, don’t get excited and pull harder. Just hold it firmly until it works its way loose.

With an inaudible pop, the cork will be gently loose in your hand, and every damn drop of champagne will remain in the bottle for your guests’ enjoyment.

There, you’re done! And with all the money you save on carpet cleaning, drywall repair, and Obamacare co-pays, you can upgrade to a decent bottle of champagne you won’t need to chug to get down.


Cheers!

Merry Christmas, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013
Merry Christmas, one and all!

Selecting a Cocktail Kit for Christmas Giving

cocktail kit stirring glass
Source: iStock Photo

Every blogger does a “bar setup” or “cocktail kit” post for Christmas, or just general, giving information. I want to try to do one this year, but in a way that is little more flexible than the usual. I’m inspired to write this for a friend who wants to give his son, who is graduating from college and is becoming interested in cocktails, a gift of a cocktail setup. The kid is an automotive engineer, and his father describes his mindset as “You use the correct, high-quality, specialty tool for the job, and use the best materials to construct your product with.” I think this is a very useful metaphor for mixing drinks, and I’ll employ it in discussing how to construct a cocktail kit for yourself or the up and comer in your life.

Mixing Vessels

Most people who ask how to assemble a cocktail kit start with, “I’ll need a shaker, then what else?” But mixing vessels are too big a question to just skip over so blithely. If you are just starting out mixing drinks, your needs in mixing vessels will be different from an experienced home drink maker’s, which will be different from a professional bartender’s.
Shaken or stirred bar kit choices
First, there are two very different mixing tasks that the cocktail maker will perform throughout his life: shaking and stirring. And we need the right tool for the right job, remember? We’ll start with shaking. There are two basic categories of cocktail shakers.

  • Boston Shakers: These are the two piece shakers consisting of a metal vessel (the “tin”) and a pint glass or second metal tin that fit together. These are what you will see the majority of professional bartenders using. They have the virtue of being cheap, easy to clean, and very, very fast. But the Boston is hard to learn to use, and may need other equipment to use it properly. If your gift recipient majored in Eastern Polynesian Studies or the like, you might want to get him or her the Boston so he or she can learn an actual marketable skill, and be able to move out of your house. But for the beginner who doesn’t need a bartending job, I’d recommend the three-piece Cobbler shaker.
  • Cobblers: These are the shakers you usually see people like Frank Sinatra or William Powell using in the movies. They are usually three pieces: a tin, a lid with built-in strainer, and a cap. In a pinch, the cobbler is the only mixing vessel you need, as you could stir in the tin, then strain with the lid. A good Cobbler is dead easy to use, suave and debonaire to employ, and will look good just sitting on the shelf. But they are not so easy to clean, nor very fast and efficient if you have to make lots of different drinks. And a bad cobbler is a nightmare to use. Quality matters in a cobbler. If yours is badly made, it may leak all over the place, or just as bad, it may be impossible to open and get your freshly created drink out without first jumping around and struggling with the lid like a frustrated monkey in a behavioral lab. Cobblers can also be ruinously expensive.


Whichever type you get, keep in mind that materials matter. Get only top quality stainless steel. If you give a Boston, be sure the pint glass is tempered. Most importantly, do not get an insulated or double wall vessel of any kind. It may seem a good idea to protect your hands from the cold, but being able to feel the temperature of what your mixing through your fingers is as important to making a good drink as a well-tuned suspension is to racing a car.
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SideBlog: Pour a Cranberry Old Fashioned On Troubled Waters This Thanksgiving

Cranberry Old Fashioned
Someone (maybe you) has been given instructions to argue guns or health care with your family this Thanksgiving. Pour this Cranberry Old-Fashioned on the troubled waters, so you’ll all be able to fall asleep in front of the football game in the same room.

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