Archive for the 'Tequila' Category

Cocktails: Beautifully Designed Mixology Tool

Saturday, July 12th, 2008
White Russian List.PNG

Prior to prohibition in the United States, gathering together in a party atmosphere, collecting fine quality ingredients, and precisely mixing/serving cocktails was a popular pastime.

Much like microbrewing, much of the lore of fine cocktailing was lost during prohibition. After prohibition ended, the large liquor and beer companies lobbied like hell to pass laws to prevent the resurrection of the craft alcohol and microbrew markets.

In the past 15 or so years, we have enjoyed a huge resurgence of craft brewing. Similarly, about the last decade has seen a growing interest in the art of fine cocktail mixology.

While this has included the rise of some very fine drinking establishments focused on classic cocktails, the hobbyist mixology market is growing rapidly, too.

If you are going to get into Mixology, you need a good recipe guide. Many paper guides exist, the best (that I know of) being Cunningham’s Bartender’s Black Book.

However, you can’t easily search a book by ingredient or flavor. You can’t be standing in a liquor store and think “I have bourbon, what do I need to make a couple of fine cocktails”. Nor can you experience a minor quake while in the liquor store and immediately look up quake related cocktails.

For that, you need an electronic guide and, with the advent of the iPhone application store, wouldn’t it be nice if such a guide were to be available in a device that you are likely already carrying anyway?

Enter Skorpiostech’s Cocktails.

Manhattan-Old.PNG

With over 1,400 cocktail recipes, Cocktails contains a fairly comprehensive list of classic and modern cocktails.

Drinks are indexed by ingredients, flavors, base ingredient, and several other categories.

It is easy to search for a particular ingredient, making it possible to get an idea of the set of drinks you might be able to make given what you have on hand.

As well, you can easily share drinks via email or twitterrific.

All in all, the app is a very solid offering for 1.0. There are some obvious areas for refinement or expansion and I’m looking forward to watching this app evolve.

However, that isn’t the reason why I’m reviewing this otherwise very useful application.

Specifically, I’m calling it out because of the design value.

Cocktails is simply a beautiful app to look at and use. While the list of cocktails is relatively normal looking, the glass icon being the graphical element standout, it is really the recipe page — seen to the right — that shows an incredible attention to detail.

The typography is precise and crisp, with appropriate bits of unicode characters used when necessary.

Also, the background changes color depending on the age of the drink. For example, the Manhattan cocktail dates back to 1888, yet there are many modern versions, too. If you were to flick that recipe to the left, the backgrounds of the recipe would become lighter as the age of the recipe lessens.

A minor detail, sure, but it actually contributes considerably to the usability when simply browsing for a recipe!

Followup: What is good tequila?

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

When I posted What is good tequila? I had no idea that it would generate anywhere near the number of comments that it has.

Great stuff. Thank you for taking the time to respond (mostly– one or two jackasses out there, no surprise).

I wanted to respond inline, but there were so many comments so fast, that I couldn’t keep up. So, I have selected the ones that I wanted to respond to, pulled out quotes, and responded in this post.

The next post will be my personal list of favorite tequilas. It will be long. And opinionated. And highly centric to the current state of the market in the San Francisco bay area.


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What is good tequila?

Thursday, June 19th, 2008
BBum at Tequila Partida

This weblog post is at least a decade in the making. Seriously. I wrote the original version of this sometime in the late ’90s as a mailing list post, then revised it again when someone at Apple asked for tequila recommendations. Likely forwarded it a dozen times or so in the interim years.

Every time I forward it, I said “I should weblog this thing”. So, here it is — with some additional edits, too. Like my “So you wanna buy a big green egg” post, I’ll likely edit this over the coming years, too.

I’m going to break this into two separate posts; one about tequila and one about margaritas. Eventually, I’ll make a third post about cooking, agave, and tequila.

First, Cuervo Gold is not good tequila. It is actually a really terrible product, quality wise, backed by some brilliant market. Sadly, most of the tequila consumed in the United States is Cuervo Gold or something equally as bad. And by “bad”, I mean bad taste and vicious hangover.

Good tequila is almost always a tequila that is made from alcohol distilled from 100% blue agave. Specifically, the species Agave Weber Tequilana. This plant of the class Liliopsida (Lilies) has nothing to do with cactus. Blue agave is grown primarily in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

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Crabtacular 5: Tequila Mockingcrab

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Update: Photos of Crabtacular 5 are being tagged with ‘crabtacular5′ on Flickr. Thanks to Ash Ponders for uploading an awesome set o’ photos!

Christine & Bill serving Crabs & Tequila

We held our annual crab party yesterday and it was a total blast! Christine and I served all 200 pounds of dungeness crabs, 30 lbs of smoked pork, and our guests brought an amazing array of other yummy edibles and drinkables!

Thank you to everyone who could make it! It was incredible!

Guillermo Erickson Sauza shared a lot of his amazing Tequila Los Abuelos / Tequila Fortaleza. Certainly my favorite heartlands tequila. Distribution is relatively limited. If you are in the Cupertino area, you can purchase Los Abuelos / Fortaleza at Coach House Liquors.

Julio & Chuck Making Margaritas

Julio Bermejo made the awesome T-shirts and whipped up batch after batch of his famous margaritas. Visit Julio at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco — world’s best tequila bar and an excellent Yucatan home style restaurant, too.

Lilianna, Julio’s wife and member of the Camarena family, shared her family’s El Tesoro de Don Felipe tequila. Made in Arandas, Jalisco, El Tesoro is easily my favorite highlands tequila. It is deliciously spicy and incredibly smooth.

Julio used Tequila Arette blanco to make the margaritas. An awesome tequila that can be found in most decent liquor stores.

Barrel Thief!

I also thiefed out a bit of tequila from my barrel. It is Pueblo Viejo Reposado that has been sitting in the barrel for 6 months.

It is surprisingly delicious; lots of caramely wood flavor with a bit of bite on the finish (due to the young age).

I’ll need to bottle it soon as it is “done”. Now that I have thiefed out about a liter of the 4.5 in the barrel, I might just refill the barrel and let it sit for a while longer.

Truly a legendary party.

Cocktail: Muddled Mango Margarita

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

So, now you have a pile of peeled and pitted mango halves. What to do?

Make a Muddled Mango Margarita!!

1. place a half of a mango (yeah — “mango”… not “margarita” like I original said — though that might be a good start, too :) ) in a tall drinking glass

2. add a few leaves of mint

3. muddle well (mango should largely liquify and the mint should be good and bruised)

4. add 2 to 4 ounces of good tequila (Herradura’s Blanco is an awesome choice — rested 40 days such that it is smoother than a regular silver yet still carries all the vegetal agave flavors)

5. add a bunch of ice — maybe fill the glass to halfway

6. If you can get it, nearly fill the glass with Tommy’s Heavenly Margarita Mix. If not, squeeze in the juice of one meyer’s lemon, add about a teaspoon or so of cane sugar (to taste), and nearly fill with either water or soda water.

7. Float cran-raspberry juice on top. Or, to acknowledge current popular culture (because, you know, I just care so much about popular culture), float some pomegranate juice on top (no, pomegranates are not new — ancient fruit — just that pomegranate juice seems to be all the rage these days).

The result is delicious and refreshing. Vary the ratios depending on taste.

crab, Crab, CRAB, CCCRRRRRAAAAAAAAABBBBBBBBBB!!! (and LOTS of tequila)

Sunday, March 4th, 2007
Bbum Cleaning Crab

Last weekend was the crab party. 175 lbs of crab. 140+ people. 30 lbs of smoked pork. Over 9 liters of really fine tequila. Home brew. Delicious food. Awesome company.

This was Crabtacular IV: The Boiling. Beyond being bigger than ever, the party achieved a couple of additional milestones. More crab than ever at 175 lbs of live dungeness. Corporate sponsorship in the form of weenie roasters and amazing tequila.

And I didn’t take a single photo. There were far, far more capable photographers attending than I and they took some amazing shots.

I owe a lot of people a huge thank you. Ben Holt for helping to engineer the massive tarps that we hung over the backyard (and for tying all the knots) — lowest spot was 8 feet, making it feel like a whole outdoor room had been added to the house. Duncan & Pinar for taking this amazing set of pictures (including the one seen at left). Buzz Anderson grabbed some great shots, including an awesome shot of myself with Guillermo Erickson Sauza and a crab.

And, of course, to Christine– my awesome wife and co-host of the party. Could not have thrown such an amazing party without her.

And, of course, a huge thank you to everyone who came to the party!

Crab was the center piece of the party. Lots and lots of crab. While most of the crab was served boiled, a number of folks made all kinds of delicious crab recipes or combined crab with other foods in delicious combinations. Bacon wrapped jalapeno peppers stuffed with crab anyone?

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Tequila Los Abuelos now available in South Bay / Cupertino area!!

Monday, February 19th, 2007
Tequila Los Abuelos

Tequila Los Abuelos is now available at Coach House Wine, Liquor and Deli at the corner of Prospect & De Anza right at the border between Cupertino & Saratoga.

Los Abuelos is 100% Blue Agave tequila made in the traditional fashion. No flavoring, no oxygenation, nothing but 100% pure Agave tequila!

If you are looking to add a tequila to your bar that will blow people away, find Los Abuelos! (Josh busted me — it said “our bar”. Maybe I’ll try mass hypnosis next.)

Los Abuelos is a boutique brand. I was introduced to this fine tequila by Guillermo Sauza, the fifth generation son of the Sauza family. Yes, that Sauza family.

Guillermo has restored his grandfather’s original distillery to make Los Abuelos (which means, literally, “the grandparents”).

Los Abuelos uses stone ovens to roast the agave, a tahona — large stone wheel — to crush the roasted penas, actual wood fermentation barrels (very very rare in tequila making these days) and, of course, wood aging barrels.

The end result is an amazing product. I have raved about it on my weblog before.

Distileria La Fortaleza

It is an incredibly smooth and drinkable product. I would highly recommend that you start with the reposado as it seems to most distinctly highlight the quality that has resulted from Guillermo’s attention to detail and respect for tradition.

I have more photos from Distileria La Fortaleza that I will post along with a full write up. The above photo was actually taken inside of the caves at the distillery that will eventually be used for aging the tequila. When I visited, we were invited into the cave to enjoy some music and, of course, some Los Abuelos tequila!

Tequila Tour Day 3: Arandas — Tequila Espolon

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Group Shot At Tequila Espolon

Start of day 3… brushing teeth with Tequila again. Mmm… Pura Sangre Blanco. I really need toothpaste. After rolling out of bed, grabbing breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we strapped all of our stuff to the van and headed to Tequila Espolon. Good-bye to the Hotel Santa Barbera — if you ever go to Arandas, it is an awesome place to stay.

Tequila Espolon is located on the outskirts of the town of Arandas in the middle of huge fields of Agave, mostly their own. Espolon is a delicious highlands tequila, with the aged product carrying through hints of mocha/caramel and an excellent spice. Excellent, solid product. Beautiful bottles, too, with embossed metalized labels.

Definitely a worthy addition to any bar.

Read on for a photo tour of Espolon’s tequila making process…
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Tequila Tour Day 2 (Cont): Arandas — Tapatio / El Tesoro de Don Felipe

Saturday, January 20th, 2007
Tapatio / El Tesoro Offices & Store

From Cazadores, it was back to Tapatio / El Tesoro de Don Felipe for a tour of the facilities. El Tesoro is the export label for what is known as Tapatio in Mexico. Sort of — there are other differences mainly due to the legal requirements of exporting into the American market versus the tastes of the Mexican market. El Tesoro is available in Mexico, but with the old school labels.

Washing of Bottles at El Tesoro / Tapatio

El Tesoro de Don Felipe’s products are all delicious, crafted with great care. Unlike just about every other Tequila distiller, El Tesoro products are distilled down to the target ABV. For others, the cask ABV is typically higher than the bottle ABV and de-mineralized water is added upon de-casking, right before bottling.

We visited the bottling line at El Tesoro while the team was bottling the very delicious El Tesoro Anejo. It was mesmerizing to watch. Here is a group of people from teenagers to one of the patriach’s family all working together as a team — as an extended family — to ensure that the right amount of an excellent product was placed in every bottle.

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Tequila Tour Day 2: Arandas — Tequila Don Nacho, Tapatio, Cazadores

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

I woke up today to discover that I didn’t have any toothpaste. That was OK — I just brushed my teeth with Puro Sangre Blanco. Works fairly well and leaves your gums feeling all clean and tingly.

Tequila Don Nacho

Once we herded the cats into the van, we headed to Tequila Don Nacho for a tour and tasting. Tequila Dan Nacho is a small to medium sized distillery that mixes traditional brick ovens with more modern stainless steel double distillation processing. It is actually a very young distillery that is owned by Ignacio Hernandez Gutierrez, known as Don Nacho. While the distillery is young, the family has been growing Agave for many decades and their Agave has an excellent reputation for consistently high quality.

The holidays are the busiest time of the year in the tequila industry. As such, many distilleries shut down for a period of time in October / early November or they will shut down in January. During this time of rest, repairs and upgrades are made.

There is a significant amount of infrastructure associated with a distillery. Beyond the fermentation tanks and stills, you have ovens or autoclaves for roasting, a masher or extractor for pulling the sugars off the roasted agave, and a water processing and heating plant to drive it all. As steam is used in many parts of the tequila making process, distilleries typically have a steam plant and water conditioning plant on site.

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