Thursday, December 11, 2014

The 15 beers of Christmas—or are they beers of winter?

Posted By on 12.11.14 at 04:45 PM

Christmas beers (top row) and winter beers
  • Julia Thiel
  • Christmas beers (plus Lagunitas Brown Shugga) and winter beers
What's the difference between a Christmas beer and a winter beer? Well, the labels for Christmas beers are usually red and green, while winter beer labels tend to be blue and white. As far as style goes, though, there's not much to differentiate them. In fact, neither is even an official beer style.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Drinking year-old eggnog to put science to the test

Posted By on 12.05.14 at 01:30 PM

Three-week-old eggnog (left) and year-old eggnog (right) look pretty much identical.
  • Julia Thiel
  • Three-week-old eggnog (left) and year-old eggnog (right) look pretty much identical.
Aging eggnog for a few weeks sounds a little dicey. Aging it for a year sounds insane. The perishable parts of eggnog—milk, cream, eggs—could easily last a few weeks if properly refrigerated. But how many people have voluntarily consumed year-old milk and eggs?

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Drinking booze with elephants at the Lively Water Whiskey Festival

Posted By on 11.20.14 at 05:00 PM

Carl Akeleys fighting African Elephants, Sue the T-Rex, and a pterodactyl presided over the Lively Water Whiskey Festival
  • Santina Croniser
  • Carl Akeley's fighting African Elephants, Sue the T-Rex, and a pterodactyl presided over the Lively Water Whiskey Festival
With the popularity that whiskey is enjoying these days, there appears to be plenty of room for multiple whiskey festivals in Chicago. After all, WhiskyFest Chicago regularly sells out months before the event (in fact, tickets for next spring's event went on sale yesterday, and VIP tickets are already gone). Red Frog Events has stepped in to fill the void, and the inaugural Lively Water Whiskey Festival took place Saturday at the Field Museum.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Revenge of the pumpkin beer

Posted By on 10.16.14 at 03:10 PM

Way too many pumpkin beers
After last year's pumpkin beer tastings, which quickly got out of hand and led to me trying more pumpkin beers than I'd ever wanted to, I was planning to skip the whole thing this year. Except I realized I had a bottle of Southern Tier's Pumking and a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale in the basement that I'd never gotten around to drinking the year before (some people would refer to that as "cellaring," but I call it "making room in the fridge"). I did want to taste those two next to this year's offerings. And I figured it couldn't hurt to throw in a couple favorites from last year for comparison. I'm still not sure how I ended up tasting 14 different beers.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Drinking whiskey with rich people at the Union League Club

Posted By on 10.11.14 at 08:30 AM

Just look at those chandeliers
  • Santina Croniser
  • Just look at those chandeliers.
After depositing my coat at the (apparently mandatory) coat check at the Union League Club on Thursday night, I walked toward the elevators, looking for signs pointing to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society's 21st annual Whisky Extravaganza. There were none, but I did see a white-haired gentleman wearing a kilt and asked him for directions, assuming he was an official part of the tasting. He wasn't—but he was attending it, and we rode the elevator together to the sixth floor, where we exited into a sea of suit jackets.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

London bar rips off Nandini Khaund's pig's blood cocktail

Posted By on 10.06.14 at 01:30 PM

Nandini Khaunds Reign in Blood
  • Dustin Park
  • Nandini Khaund's Reign in Blood
It's been more than six months since Nandini Khaund, one of the founders of the app Craft Cocktail and blog, made a cocktail with pig's blood for the Reader's Cocktail Challenge. After the Huffington Post picked up the story, it went viral—and now pig's blood has showed up in a cocktail at a London bar, as the tabloid the London Evening Standard reports. In fact, Khaund's entire cocktail seems to have showed up at the bar, though she hasn't been given credit for it. The Reign in Blood, Khaund's creation, features blood orange juice, cherry liqueur, creme de cacao, Averna amaro, coffee, scotch, and a pig's blood rinse for the glass. The Slaughter, available for £16 (about $25) at No. 9 Park Walk, has the exact same ingredients, right down to the pig's blood rinse. Even the glass it's served in is almost identical.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

The best of the 2014 Chicago Independent Spirits Expo

Posted By on 10.02.14 at 12:30 PM

Journeyman Distillerys O.C.G. apple cider liqueur
  • Julia Thiel
  • Journeyman Distillery's O.C.G. apple cider liqueur
The Chicago Independent Spirits Expo is one of my favorite events of the year; the offerings from the hundred-odd distilleries that participate always include new spirits from distilleries I already know and like, new spirits from brand-new distilleries, and well-established spirits from well-established distilleries that I've just never happened to taste before. The next day, though, regret always sets in: a product not of overimbibing the night before (not usually, anyway), but of looking again at the list of participating distillers and realizing what a small percentage of their spirits I managed to try before I reached my limit.

Which isn't to say that I didn't get to taste a lot at this year's fourth annual Indie Spirits Expo. Two of the standouts for me were new releases from established local(ish) distilleries. Journeyman in Three Oaks, Michigan, has been making excellent whiskeys for several years now, and has had a cocktail with white whiskey and apple cider on the menu in their tasting room for quite a while. Just recently they started bottling a modified version of it, which like the original cocktail is called O.C.G. (Old Country Goodness), and it just arrived in Chicago last week. It's ten percent alcohol, but the white whiskey fades into the background behind the sweet-tart apple and warm cinnamon flavors. And while I had it over ice, it would be equally good served warm.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Does it matter where Templeton Rye whiskey is made?

Posted By on 09.26.14 at 08:00 AM

Templeton Rye has been in the news a lot lately. Bryce T. Bauer's book Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots was released in July, the same month that the Daily Beast published an article by Eric Felten titled "Your 'Craft' Rye Whiskey Is Probably From a Factory Distillery in Indiana." (My review of the book is here.) And yesterday the Des Moines Register reported that a Chicago-based law firm had filed a class-action lawsuit against Templeton Rye on the grounds that the company "broke consumer protection laws and misled drinkers with stories of its whiskey's prohibition-era origins."

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gentlemen Bootleggers: How the town of Templeton, Iowa, united around whiskey

Posted By on 09.24.14 at 04:00 PM

Templeton Rye has a fascinating history—one that the company plays up heavily in its marketing, where it touts its "Prohibition era recipe." The Templeton whiskey that's for sale today, however, is not distilled in Templeton, Iowa, nor is it made using a recipe from the Prohibition era. Whether that matters has been the subject of considerable debate, but that's a blog post for another day (for tomorrow, to be precise).

In Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots (Chicago Review Press), Bryce T. Bauer doesn't concern himself with the present state of affairs at Templeton Rye, focusing instead on its past. His story ends with the end of production for the original Templeton rye whiskey a few years after the repeal of Prohibition. The brand resurrected and repopularized in 1996, however, doesn't figure into Bauer's tale.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

One Sip: Pineapple cocktails

Posted By on 09.11.14 at 04:33 PM

Pineapple margarita (left) and the Turning Point (right)
  • Julia Thiel
  • Pineapple margarita (left) and the Turning Point (right)
Motivated by the fact that I had a pineapple that was about to go bad, I started looking for cocktail recipes using fresh pineapple earlier this week. In the process, I unexpectedly discovered a vodka cocktail that I actually enjoyed. While I don't like vodka, I don't really mind it in cocktails since it doesn't taste like much of anything. By the same token, though, I usually gravitate towards spirits that will add flavor to cocktails instead of just alcohol.

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December 15
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December 17

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