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So what doesn't make the cut for "No Reservations?"

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This weekend was/is the American Distilling Institute's Brandy Conference (apparently each year the ADI conference has a different spirit theme). It was hosted at St. George Spirits in Alameda. Most of the weekend was taken up by presentations and demos for conference attendees. Sunday afternoon, though, was "Meet the Makers," an open (well, $40) tasting event.

On the down-side... it only ran from 2:00 - 5:00, and there was no program book or listing of all the presenters.

On the up-side... there were a lot of presenters. Who was there?

Westford Hill Distillers had some beautiful eau-de-vie. Their framboise is very fresh tasting, with a really bright raspberry nose and a very delicate flavor.

Organic Nation was one of many certified organic producers. Their gin was medium-body, very aromatic. They also had Q Tonic Water.

Koval Distillery out of Chicago is also certified organic and certified kosher. We skipped the vodka and the grain spirits. Their rose hip liqueur is interesting and tasty. The ginger liqueur is absolutely divine, sweet and hot like a really good strong ginger beer.

Warwick Valley (New York) does some nice eau-de-vie, but their black currant liqueur is one of the best I've ever had.

Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee is interesting. They produce Rehorst vodka and gin. I rather like the gin. The lemon-honey vodka is good, but it's not one of the best I've had. They also produce a bierschnaps from Lakefront Brewery's Pumpkin Ale.

North Shore Distillery from Lake Bluff, IL was one of the outstanding presenters. They do a pair of gins that are superb, an interesting aquavit and a very subtle absinthe.

Templeton Rye from Templeton, IA had only one product, and they can't produce enough of it, but it's a very nice rye whiskey.

Rogue (as in "Dead Guy Ale") has gone into spirits. Their whiskey is very scotch-like and classic; a bit more on the malt side and it could pass for an Islay malt. They do a pair of gins that are pretty tasty too.

Peak Spirits does some interesting eau-de-vie (the peach smells gorgeous). Their CapRock Organic Gin is rough but very good.

Ballast Point Spirits in San Diego also did a really nice gin.

Bendistillery Cascade Mountain Gin was worth noting. Their Cofia Hazelnut Espresso Vodka was outstanding, though; it actually tastes like coffee.

House Spirits had their Krogstad Aquavit (with a nice star anise start and a great caraway finish), Aviation Gin (dutch style, light and strongly Juniper) and Marteau Absinthe (complex with a strong bitter character).

New Holland Brewing had a few products, but the only one we tried was their Zeppelin Bend Whiskey. If you liked the early St. George single malt with it's strong floral character, this is a good one for you.

...and from there we move to Bay Area distilleries.

St. George was there, of course. We didn't really taste their stuff, because we know it well.

Tempus Fugit Spirits is only kind of a Bay Area distiller. They commission and import absinthe distilled in France. They're the "Mansinthe" and "Vieux Pontarlier" folks. Their stuff is very good, but I'm not a real big fan, it's not really to my taste. They had a bottle of pre-ban Absinthe Deschanet, though, that we were allowed a sample from. Oy gevalt. It was amazing, with a sweet nuttiness not common in "fresh" absinthes.

Osocalis had a very nice alambic brandy, but I've got to say it was overshadowed by their Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard traditional port. Yowza, it wasn't particularly sweet and had a nice fruity acidity.

Stillwater Spirits was a real surprise. We weren't tasting much vodka, but they do a really interesting barley vodka that's not distilled up enough to knock out all the grain flavor.

Shadow Organic Vodka was there. It's interesting, with a bit more flavor than I expect from a vodka. That was one of the standard items of the day; "straight" vodka that had more flavor than absolutely traditional.

Loft Liqueurs had some really fabu 'cellos. Limoncello style liqueurs in various flavors, all of them superb. The ginger didn't have the bite of the Koval, but was still quite good.

Square One had some interesting flavored vodkas; their "botanical" was interesting, but the cucumber vodka was amazing.

There were also a few food vendors.

Marcel et Henri from South San Francisco had three different patés.

Rustic Bakery from Larkspur had all sorts of little cocktail cookies and breads. The really amazing highlight was their panforte biscotti.

There was a catering chef who, unfortunately, didn't have a lot of product. He had chicken liver and brandy spread on toasts, and a great smoked fish thingy on toast.

Most definitely worth $40. If the conference comes back to the Bay Area, and they have another "Meet the Makers" event, you must go.
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  • It's been over a week and the kitchen is still clean. The cabinets still need to be sorted through to clear more space.
  • A great deal of junk that was in the front hall (or the postage stamp that passes for a front hall) has been cleared.
  • The linen closet has been sorted. I've got a pile of bedding that should go to charity.
  • We have a growing pile of stuff going to BASFA for auction.
  • I'm actually going to the gym on my own... who knew? There are some logistical issues involving the gym bag and the motorcycle.
  • Costco.com is clearing out the old model FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing kit for $80. The stores already have the new model for $160.
  • The Costco at Almaden & 85 has Warre's Otima 20 Year Old Tawny Port
  • Anyone know of a good online source for Levis? I'm sick of never finding my size, and Mervyn's is gone.
  • Anyone know of a good eBay broker? We've got some stuff to dump, but I don't want to do the work myself.
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Odwalla Pomagrand is so much better than the wimpy "Pom" juice.
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So one of the things we did while I was waiting for the ReadyNAS to reboot, fsck and resync was to go to yesterday's St. George Spirits open house.

The price has been going up. It's still worth it.

We bought the $30 registration, the $10 add-on for the premium brandies and the $10 add-on for the Agua Azul tasting. We also had reservations for the first (1:30 pm) tasting lecture with Jorg Rupf, master distiller and founder of St. George Spirits.

The lecture didn't cost anything extra, and it was totally worth it. It even included Agua Azul tastings (so we gave our Agua Azul tickets to friends who hadn't bought any).

So the new releases?

The Pear Spice Vodka is really nice. It's complex and flavorful.

The Agua Azul, in "Cristal" (blanco or silver), Reposado and Añejo, are all superb. They join only one or two tequilas that we're willing to drink neat, much less at room temp. The Cristal is my new preference for top-shelf margaritas.
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No, we didn't protest today, but our hearts and thanks go out to the people who did.

K replaced his old phone today. He is having fun fiddling with the new one.

We joined [livejournal.com profile] super_jayhawk and others at Rabbit's Foot Meadery for a rare Saturday tasting. Tasted mead and cider, talked a lot, bought a case of stuff. I wish they were open a few more hours during the week; being able to get growlers of cider would be nice.

K wanted to go to a movie, so we went to A Quantum of Solace. The reviewers are right; the story is a bit thin, but it's still a great Good Hitler flick.
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We're signed up for the St. George Spirits Open House on the 22nd. If you want to go, get your tickets now.

We've signed up for the Absinthe and De Profundis add-on, and the Agua Azul (I Can't Believe It's Not Tequila!) add-on.

We also have reservations for the 1:30pm Eau de Vie seminar. This is very limited attendance, only 15 people per session and only 2 sessions. I would suggest calling in now and making your reservation when you buy your tickets.
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St. George Spirits in Alameda is having an open house on Saturday, June 28. Advance tix are $30. We're planning to be there. More details at the website, eventually.
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The Nijiya Market at 6th and Jackson in San Jose has a much better selection (particularly for sake) than the Nijiya Market at Grant & El Camino in Mountain View.
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St. George is having a release tomorrow (if you're reading this on Saturday... if not I'm talking about Sunday, Feb 3).

We'll be there.
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SanFrazerac?



It's a Sazerac, but with local Northern California ingredients (except the Peychaud's Bitters).

Start with a cocktail shaker and an iced up glass. Yes, a Sazerac is traditionally served in an old-fashioned glass.
  1. Put 1 tsp of simple syrup or a mashed wet sugar cube (C&H if you want to maintain the California purity to this level) in a shaker
  2. Add 2 oz of Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey
  3. Add 3-4 drops (1/8 tsp or so) of Peychaud's Bitters
  4. Dump the ice in the up glass
  5. Pour a bit of St. George Absinthe Verte in the up glass, swirl it so it's coated. Tip out any excess.
  6. Ice the shaker, shake well and strain into the up glass.
  7. Twist a bit of Meyer lemon peel over the glass to release the lemon oil into it, and throw out the peel.
  8. Toast Fritz Maytag, Jorg Rupf and Lance Winters

Slag-Blah

Dec. 24th, 2007 12:43 am
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"No religion is too silly, no pantheon too crowded, no cosmology too counter-intuitive!"

Now that I've got your attention, I'd like to talk about St. George Absinthe Verte.

So there's all these people who are going on about thujone. Get over it. Check out The Wormwood Society's Thujone page. Early theories of high thujone content in period haven't been borne out by the more recent and more precise analysis of samples.

Now that that's out of the way...

I've had absinthe before.

I've had Czech oil-mix absinthe that friends smuggled back from Europe. It wasn't particularly good. It was very bitter, and not in a good way.

I've had Spanish macerated absinthes in unnatural colors. They weren't particularly good, but they weren't as bad as the Czech stuff.

I've had French distilled absinthes, including Ted Breaux's fabulous Jade and Lucid. I've had Swiss distilled absinthes, like Gaudentia Persoz's La Ptite.

I've also had the St. George Absinthe Verte. I got a sample of a distiller's proof a few months ago, and found it to be rich and interesting, with an odd marzipan character to it not found in other absinthes. More importantly, the anise flavor didn't overpower everything else. It had a pretty good balance.

On Friday, [livejournal.com profile] kproche, [livejournal.com profile] britgeekgrrl, [livejournal.com profile] iamradar and [livejournal.com profile] lisa_marli went to the Alameda Zoo St. George Spirits for release day, and it was a good thing. The distillery sold out the half of the production they reserved for on-site sales before the end of the day. There are currently scavenger hunts around the bay area to find retailers who still have bottles in stock. If you wanted to try this first release, you're probably going to have to find a bar that has a few bottles and pay something like $18 a dose for it.

It's worth it.

We took a bottle to [livejournal.com profile] karisu_sama and [livejournal.com profile] didjiman's. It's not quite the same as the pre-release sample; the almond flavor is pretty much knocked out and there's a lot more complexity. The anise is still pretty strong, but not overpowering.

People quite enjoyed it in the traditional icewater-mix. On Saturday we brought a bottle of champagne and made "Death in the Afternoon," Hemmingway's absinthe/champagne cocktail. It's absolutely divine. The surprise hit of the evening was a tiny bit (like say a teaspoon) of absinthe in a small glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade.

We will definitely be trying this in a Sazerac. Probably make it with Old Potrero Rye, though, for a real SanFrazerac.

Word has it they're planning a 7,200 bottle run for January, with an early February release. That release shouldn't be as crazy. You never know, though.
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...and scroll down a bit in that goofy little iframe. There's some really cool news hidden below the red arrow.
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I'm going to be soliciting quotes from transportation (bus) companies for something coming up next year. Have you planned a tour, bus-run or other such thing where you've had to contract a transportation company in the Bay Area? What did you think of the company you worked with?

BTW...

Oct. 12th, 2007 01:12 am
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We're in Gilroy, at the Hilton Garden Inn. So are Spring and Dave, and we've got hospitality moved in. Kickoff at 10:00am in room 310.
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LISS spherical soda siphon (the only dealer I found outside eBay).
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Since the [livejournal.com profile] vintacon festivities are going to be starting earlier than we thought on Friday morning, we updated our hotel reservation to check in on Thursday night. You might want to also...
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