Log Date

A whiskey adventure for you and me.

  1. Old-fashioned Hyperlink

    Participants in a new study were given small amounts of either beer or Gatorade and then given a game to play while having their brain scanned. The scanners saw that those who consumed the very small amount of beer had much higher dopamine levels than those who consumed Gatorade. Those who had reported a history of alcoholism within their family saw even higher levels.

    “We believe this is the first experiment in humans to show that the taste of an alcoholic drink alone, without any intoxicating effect from the alcohol, can elicit this dopamine activity in the brain’s reward centers,” the study’s senior author, neuroscientist David Kareken of the Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

  2. Old-fashioned Hyperlink

    Co.Design has this article up with “master mixologist” Gabriella Mlynarczyk, a bartender at Ink, up. It’s a good read, so you should, but here are our tl;dr notes: 

    1. Stay true to a formula: The ratio for developing a drink is 2:1:1 - 2 ounces liquor, 1 ounce tart, one ounce sweet. 

    2. Choose a base note that will complement your liquor. (In her case, a variation on corn: popcorn & unaged white corn whiskey) 

    3. Whiskey’s more diverse than, say, vodka. 

    4. Add bitters. “Technically, in the classic cocktail world, a cocktail is not a cocktail unless it contains bitters.”

    5. Or add complexity through rinsing the glass — a la the absinthe in a Sazerac, or with something like rosewater. 

    6. Five ingredients is probably a good max. 

    7. “Attentuate potency.” What the hell does that mean? Water it down. Dilute the drink down with infused soda water, or champagne (bonus absurdity points for calling it “effervescents.”) 

    8. “Attentuate mouthfeel.” And what the hell does that mean? Make it interesting. Alter the texture with egg white, or gomme syrup. 

    9. Measure. Don’t be insulted when your bartender is pouring your ingredients into jiggers; it’s to your benefit. “Cocktail making is very much like baking in that you need to measure every little ingredient or your balance is going to get completely thrown off.” 

    10. Always remember: stir spirits, shake juices

    11. The massive ice cubes are for more than aesthetics: they melt slower, watering down your drink less. 

    12. Try mezcal. It’s worthwhile. 

  3. Writing on the coaster

    Maker’s Mark: Dilution vs. Delusion


    Five years ago, some distillers put some whiskey in some barrels. Every year since, bourbon has only become more and more sought after. So demand grew, but the small batch of barrels did not increase — what was barreled remained barreled, come what may. This year, Maker’s Mark took stock of what they had and realized it wasn’t enough. 

    There’s a few routes they could have gone from here. They could have wandered down Pappy’s trail and simply said “that’s it, that’s all” until newer barrels were appropriately aged. But Maker’s isn’t Pappy’s. The van Winkles can do this because they produced a damn good, high end bourbon, with a taste people deem worth a $200+ price tag or an ebay bidding war. Maker’s is good whiskey. But it isn’t some superb, transcendent liquor. So that’s out. 

    They instead chose to follow a path forged by Jack Daniels in the 80’s — to dilute their whiskey, lowering the proof from 90 to 84. Maybe JD got away with it then, but you can’t do a damn thing in 2013 without impassioned feedback being tweeted, blogged, facebooked, instagrammed, vined, pathed, whatevered right back to you — and the roar was swift and unfavorable. How dare Maker’s Mark water down our whiskey, etcetera, etcetera. 

    Listen, there’s just not enough. If you want Maker’s Mark, you can either have slightly diluted Maker’s Mark, or no Maker’s Mark at all. But why do you even want Maker’s Mark? Once upon a time, bars would stock only a few bottles of whiskey, and Maker’s was the staple bourbon. But when the interest in bourbon swelled, an outpouring of new, intriguing, and diverse bourbons cropped up. So go for them. Preserve what’s left of Maker’s supply. If the worst thing to come from this is that you find a new bourbon, it’s not all bad. Remember, the more bourbon you drink this year, the more whiskey will be barreled up for years to come. 

  4. Old-fashioned Hyperlink

    This is some bourbon (prices vary based on age: “from $40 for the 10-year to $250 for the 23-year”). The secret, according to Erikson, is that the recipe “substitutes wheat for the rye that most bourbon contains (alongside corn and malted barley), creating a softer, sweeter profile.” 

  5. Old-fashioned Hyperlink

    "If you love whiskey but haven’t thought of bourbon as being in the same league as a good Scotch, Irish and even, these days, rye, you owe it to yourself to give it another try. A well-made, well-aged bourbon offers a gorgeous spectrum of flavors, beginning with a distinctive sweetness that can, depending on the distiller’s aim, turn spicy and peppery with clear fruitiness, or mellow into a creamy caramel toffee with highlights of citrus."

  6. Old-fashioned Hyperlink

    I soon realized that the Old Fashioned is merely one battle line, albeit a significant one, in a much larger discussion among cocktail fans online that sometimes flared with passion (for regardless of the topic, the Internet has become no place for even-tempered debate). And while the subject of how to mix drinks is typically a pleasant one, the debates over proper recipes, spirits, tools and techniques that are conducted in person — typically over cocktails that have been exactingly described to an increasingly exasperated bartender — or on blogs or online forums such as eGullet and the soon-to-be-defunct Drinkboy forums, can sometimes veer into serious, clinically dry and even belligerent arenas.”

  7. Old-fashioned Hyperlink

    Location: Dive bar
    Order: A shot of Powers, a pint of Yuengling, and some change for the jukebox
    Verdict: You spend too much time in dive bars. Text us and we’ll join you.

    Location: Dive bar
    Order: Anything that ends in -tini or -rita 
    Verdict: You spend too much time in chain restaurants and not nearly enough in dive bars.

    Location: Hip cocktail lounge
    Order: Rye Old-Fashioned, hold the garbage
    Verdict: You’re me. And nobody wants to hear about my problems.