Frontier Psychiatrist

Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

My ideal 4th of July consists of a long weekend filled with BBQs, picnics, and a cold beer or fruity sangria (or both (but not together, ew)).  Unfortunately, I’m no master brewer, so I won’t be teaching you how to make beer today, but I figured I’d equip you with the knowledge to conquer the other elements of a relaxing July 4th.  And should it be the case that you’re just getting started on your holiday plans right now, you’re in luck!  Neither of these recipes involves much forethought (though they both benefit from it), so you can be on your way to your BBQ/picnic/cookout/potluck in no time. Read the rest of this entry »

Riesling: Grape of the Gods

Last week, I tried more than 100 German Rieslings in one day. How is this possible? The short answer is highly functioning alcoholism cleverly disguised as gainful employment based on an advanced knowledge of the great and varied fermented grape juices of the world.  I am a buyer slash salesman for a wine shop in Manhattan. One of the perks of my job is the ability to leave work in the middle of the day and go to places where I normally wouldn’t be welcomed to taste and evaluate wines for purchase. On the day in question, a trade organization for the Wines of Germany put on a grand show in Tribeca featuring the stellar 2011 vintage. It’s hard work, but someone’s got to do it.

Before we go any further, let’s clear up a few things about Riesling.  Forget what you heard, Riesling is one of the great grapes of the world, with a wide range of styles and quality levels. Riesling can be crap sugar water in blue bottles or single-vineyard God-Juice capable of ageing for a century.  It can be so dry and mineral as to be nigh overwhelming to the senses (trocken) or dessert wine (Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenausle, Eiswein), or somewhere in-between (Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese). Grown in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, California, Oregon, Hungary, Slovenia and China, it’s the ideal pairing for any kind of fish, ham, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, or Szechuan food. It was  a favorite of the tsars and 200 years ago, if you walked into the best restaurant in London, it would have been the most expensive bottle on the menu.

Good Riesling, for me, is akin to drinking joy.  There is a more than bearable lightness coupled with precision, hidden power and quiet depth.  Add a touch of sweetness and you’re left with something like a perfect spring day when the sun is strong enough to warm the skin but the remembrance of winter is still on the wind.  Summer lies somewhere in the future, with all the potential it brings, but for now you’re content to simply exist in a crisp, clean moment and, my, isn’t it sweet?

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Of all the strange cul-de-sacs of European aristocracy, one of the most bizarre is Ferdinand Maximilian Josef, an Austrian prince whom Napoleon III installed as Emperor of Mexico in 1860s, and who was overthrown and killed three years later.

Born into the House of Hapsburg, Maximilian was the son of Princess Sophie and Archduke Franz Karl.  Karl, the shallow end of an already-inbred gene pool, has been charitably characterized as “an amiably dim fellow whose main interest in life was consuming bowls of dumplings drenched in gravy.”  But his issue were keen indeed.  Maximilian’s older brother, Franz Joseph was the star of the family, pushing his dumpling-loving father out of the way to become the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, and ruling with a strong hand for almost 68 years.  Maximilian was not to be totally left out, however.  He was appointed Viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, two regions of Italy that had come under Austro-Hungarian control.  Then things got weird.

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It’s puck night in the Frontier Mixologist’s house.   Some believe ice hockey first developed in the Netherlands, where it looked more like ice golf.  In any event, the modern game was clearly developed by our friends north of the border.  The relocation of a team to Winnipeg/Manitoba is, thus, fitting.  As it’s their game, moreover, and, despite some trepidations based on Aaron Rome’s Game 3 blindside hit on Nathan Horton, we’re rooting for the Canucks in the battle for Lord Stanley’s cup.

As for the city of Vancouver, its cocktail scene is in good shape.  Indeed, a bar there will be happy to prepare for you FP favorites the Red Hook or a Lucien Gaudin.  Now, while watching the game, if offered a cold (strange) brew, I won’t refuse.  Tonight, I’d rather have a cocktail.  Given the importance of ice in cocktail making, it seems somehow appropriate.

Accordingly, we visit a delightful but obscure classic revived by Ted Haigh: the Vancouver.  It’s been getting more and more recognition lately,  particularly by bartenders around Vancouver.  Don’t be distracted by recipes employing Canadian whiskey and maple syrup, strictly for hosers.

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Bottled Negroni cocktail, courtesy of Serious Eats

Granted, we are way past the fete-filled Christmas/New Year holiday season, but there are still plenty of party opportunities coming up.  Whether you plan on celebrating Flag Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, or a random summer night, you won’t want to spend your evening mixing drinks for everyone.

Instead, check out Serious Eats for tips on making drinks in advance.  Being Negroni fans, we especially like their recipe for a bottled Negroni.  And remember, you can always make punch.

Red Hook, I love it. The place has a faded sense of history, the polyglottal shouts of long-dead stevedores hanging in the air.  It retains an atmosphere of waterfront decay à la Season 2 of The Wire that has been excised from other neighborhoods better served by public transport, even as much of Red Hook’s actual waterfront has been landscaped into parks and recreation areas.  Still, looking out over the harbor, especially during the winter, one can be forgiven for concocting anachronistic adventure fantasies of hauling aboard a steamer ship bound for Singapore.  As the proposal to build a street car from Atlantic Avenue down to Red Hook looks doomed, perhaps the neighborhood will continue to hold fast to its uniqueness, a sensibility that persistently remains in the face of IKEA and Fairway, which, truth be told, are very convenient to have around if you live nearby. Read the rest of this entry »

What you know as rum isn’t really rum.  The light rum from, for example, Bacardi with which you’ve been making mojitos is more akin to a vodka, one that happens to have started its life way-back-when as sugar cane.  It is distilled from molasses, and is produced in such a way as to remove fermentation by-products known as congeners, which also provide distinctive flavors to spirits.  Thus, because of the way they are made, most light rums do not have much inherent flavor, and so a strawberry daquiri tastes, not of rum, but of… well, strawberries, I guess.  This is all well and good, if that’s what you’re looking for.

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