This 1920’s magazine advertisement harkens to a day when Pabst was perhaps a more refined malt in its class. Today our good old Milwaukee-bred PBR may have a different face, but is nonetheless enjoyed on happy hour specials by thirsty men (and a handful of women) across the USA.
If you find yourself with a penchant for brandy, you’re more than likely a fan of the widely celebrated Sidecar. What you may not know is the colorful history this 100-year-old cocktail enjoys.
The citrus flavored beverage was born in Paris sometime following World War I, supposedly coined after the motorcycle sidecar an American captain would ride in on his way to and from a little known bistro at the time called Harry’s Bar. This now famous spot in the middle of the city happened to be the first American bar to open in the capitol and also the alleged birthplace of the Bloody Mary.
As the legend goes, the formula for the Sidecar was first concocted when the American captain asked for a pre-dinner cocktail that would help ease the chill he had caught outside. The French barman on duty that evening knew brandy would be most ideal to relieve the chill, but he also refused to serve the traditional after dinner drink alone as a pre-dinner cocktail (the French have a funny way of never bending any rules – that is, when it comes to food and drink).The result was the bartender mixing orange flavored Cointreau with brandy, and adding fresh lemon juice to create a more appropriate pre-dinner cocktail, et en suite – a famous cocktail was born.
During this golden era of literature, the Sidecar was especially popular in England and France, where ex-pats like Hemmingway would sip Sidecars at the bar – perhaps facilitating their after dinner prose.
- 3/4 ounces Cointreau
- 3/4 ounces brandy
- 3/4 ounces lemon juice
In mixing glass or shaker filled with ice, combine Cointreau, brandy, and lemon juice, and shake vigorously. Wet rim of a 3- to 4-ounce cocktail glass and place on a lightly sugared plate. Strain liquor into the glass and serve.
Today’s prescription is the ever popular Gimlet.
- 2.5 oz Gin
- .5 oz Lime juice
- .5 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
Garnish: Lime wheel
Glass: Cocktail or Old Fashioned
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or an Old Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.
(You can substitute 1 oz lime cordial, such as Rose’s Lime Juice, for both the lime juice and simple syrup.)
This ad from a 1960’s issue of Life Magazine is
shockingly sexist - yet clean, stylish and sure gets the point across:
Meet Sebastian Wolleter. At just 33 years of age, this Chilean has mapped some serious territory since his childhood growing up in Santiago, living what I must say is quite the enviable globe-hopping lifestyle, and as a self-made man nonetheless. Upon graduating with a degree in Marketing and Advertising, Seb made a drastic move, flying half way around the world to begin a new life in Barcelona, Spain where he has lived now for 7 years.
After launching various business ventures - including Flippa, a travel agency that connected Masters and MBA students to Spain’s VIP party scene - Sebastian took his perspective on nightlife to the next level, teaming up with 3 friends to open a bar of his own. Today they have expanded, opening a couple of wildly popular bars in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona - most notably a fantastic dive spot called “Nevermind.” As a surfer, snowboarder, and King of the bars of one of my favorite cities on this planet, Sebastian is THE guy to look to for a true insider’s guide to Barcelona. Let’s dive in….
1. Your go-to bar in Barcelona, any given day of the week, and why?
“Definitely Nevermind Bar in Escudellers Blancs St. #3
It’s the perfect mix between grunge music (which we love) such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains, among others, and skate and urban culture.
Besides the perfect music they got old school skate videos, or snowboard, surf, etc playing all night long. Great decoration, mean ambiance, cheap beer, free popcorn, 1 liter mojitos, hot bar staff and a great DIY vibe that you can really feel. No tourists, only locals. The perfect spot.”
2. Your drink of choice & most unusual cocktail/beer/wine that really caught your attention?
“Like a good Chilean I never miss the oportunity to have a nice “Piscola”. That is Pisco (a long disputed destillate from grapes between Peruvians and Chileans) and good old Coca Cola. Two ice cubes, no lemon, no straw, thank you. Stirred with your index finger. Then licked. The finger that is. The most unusual? Call me dumb but I never understood Bloody Mary. Is it a salad? Is it a cocktail? I’d say it’s plain disgusting.”
3. Best venue in Barcelona for live music?
“Unfortunately, every day there are less places to go see mid size shows. For big bands you’ve got Razzmatazz and Apolo. That is for big names and big budgets. Local or emerging bands have it tough for the Ayuntament (that’s the City Hall) shuts down live music venues like it wouldn’t matter. Still, you’ve got some little places where you can go see live music like Rocksound, City Hall, Monasterio or Jamboree, but I’d have to choose Apolo in Parallel Street for its sound quality and the place itself that’s like an old theatre which looks really cool. It holds up to 1000 people. Bands like Sonic Youth, Incubus or Queens Of The Stone Age have played there among million others.”
4. Best swanky or trendy spot (if any)
“Since I’m not a swanky person and try not to follow trends, I’m gonna pass on this one. I prefer the stinky, gross-looking bar in the corner, the off season discount clothing shop, and fat almost bearded girls, so I don’t apply to answer this one.”
5. Favorite dive bar
“For sure, Sweet Rebel bar in Ample Street #46. It’s a cozy Surf & Reggae styled bar in the middle of the Gothic Quarter. Totally laid back, awesome fruit cocktails, nice vibes, cool staff, lots of wood decor, swings from a palm tree inside, occasional live dj’s and lots of relaxed people. Reggae and surfer music. What else d’ya need?”
6. Best New Bar in town
“Having a Rock heart, I’d say Bollocks Rock Bar also in Ample street, a few meters away from Sweet Rebel. This is a must see for everyone who comes to Bcn. It’s a Hard Rock bar playing music from Deep Purple to Mastodon, including Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, Black Sabbath, Slayer, AC/DC, Aerosmith and so on.
The thing is that even though it’s a rock place, it doesn’t lok like the typical rock bar, first, it’s all tagged, sprayed and painted everywhere you look. You can leave your mark on everything. It’s amazingly decorated and it has a fuzzball table, a Tommy “The Who” original Pinball machine, electronic dart boards, even an arm wrestling table!! It is all made up from recycled materials, the cocktails are awesome (try the Ozzy Bourbon, or the Tekiller or the best Mojito in town) beer is 1€ till 22:30h and the barmaids are to die for (and, no beards)”
7. Best People Watching Spot
“The terrace on my attic through my telescope.”
8. Most Overrated bar(s) in Barcelona?
“I don’t usually talk s**t of my competition. Good bars do good, bad ones, don’t. Kinda obvious, but not so much if you think about it.”
9. And Underrated?
“There a lots of amazing bars in the city and not so many people get to know them. To quote a few: Boadas, Marsella, Cañete, Absenta, Sifó, Manchester, Lolita, Shangó…”
10. City with the best nightlife? If Barcelona, give us a runner-up to accompany
“1. Barcelona. (That’s why I live here!!)
2. Ibiza. (No need for comments)
3. Berlin. (All sorts of strange stuff can happen there)
4. Madrid. (Similar to Barcelona, but different. It’s the capitol after all)”
11. Any Final thoughts??
“I’ll save my final thoughts for the day I die. Today, I’ll leave some info for you to look some of these bars up. And as a bonus, the website of my mates rock band, check them out, they rock!! Cheers, good luck and see you soon in Barcelona!
In July of 1953, a revolution was a’brewing in Cuba. As dictator Fulgencio Batista pushed along with his paralyzingly un-cool regime, young rebels Fidel Castro and Che Guevara began to mobilize a team to overthrow the jerk. Finally, on July 26th the Castro brothers led a coalition of 80 men in an armed revolt that ultimately took down the Batista tirade, catapulting the group into chain cigar-smoking national heros, forever to be emblemized on t-shirts at Urban Outfitters.
Anyway….this perhaps ill-fated day known as the Cuban Revolution was quite the turning point, making Cuba a powerful player and ally to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The next few decades marked a heavy isolationist period for the Communist country, only to be broken with Fidel’s passing. Fast forward to present day - we have another Castro at the helm, and a glimmer of hope for an open and free Cuba (and hopefully, a check off my Must-See List)
Now that we covered that sliver of history - the cocktail that ties our story together - the Cuba Libre! According to Havana Club:
“Cuba Libre shares the mystery of its exact origin. The only certainty is that this cocktail was first sipped in Cuba. The year? 1900. 1900 is generally said to be the year that cola first came to Cuba, introduced to the island by American troops. But “Cuba Libre!” was the battle cry of the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence that ended in 1898…”
Cubans may have a complicated past, but this cocktail of freedom is as simple as they come:
- 1/2 lime
- 2 oz light rum
- 4 oz cola
Squeeze the juice of half a lime into a collins glass. Drop the lime into the glass. Add ice cubes. Pour the remaining ingredients into the glass.
In 1909, 5 year old Temple, and his 9 year old brother Bud, rode their horses from Frederick, Oklahoma all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico… ALL BY THEMSELVES. Running on a voracious curiosity to see the world, the brave Abernathy brothers became living legends….
Their second trip in 1910 took the duo from Oklahoma to NYC to catch Teddy Roosevelt’s return from Africa. This trip involved driving their “Wildcat” Brush motorcycle the entire length of the trip home. On their fifth adventure together just one year later, the Abernathy boys rode their horses out of the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island, riding all the way to San Francisco with the goal of depositing a flask of Salt water they picked up in the Atlantic to their final destination in the Pacific. In just 62 days, the boys rode 4500 miles to accomplish the feat.
Why this fantastic tale? Just a little reminder to get out and embark on your own adventure. You may not have a horse - but a plane, a car, a bicycle or your two webbed feet will get you there. In honor of adventure, I give you a few cocktails to celebrate summer road trips and living spontaneously!
Head to San Francisco with the Golden Gate
- 3/4 oz Grand Marnier
- 3/4 oz grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz Benedectine
- 1/2 oz Campari
- 1/2 oz lime juice
Whip-shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 2 Kold Draft cubes. Strain into a Collins glass filled with Scotsman crushed ice. Garnish with a lime twist.
Hop the pond with a Scottish Fix
- 1 1/2 oz Ardberg 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
- 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz honey syrup (1:1)
Serve in a Rocks glass over crushed ice. Garnish with fresh seasonal fruit.
Classic cars were made for road trips, as the 1957 Chevy was made for drinking:
- 1/2 ounces Southern Comfort
- 1/2 ounces Di Saronno Amaretto
- 1/2 ounces vodka
- 1/2 ounces light rum
- 1/2 ounces Crème de Noyaux
- 1 1/2 ounces Sweet and Sour
- 1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
And last but not least, reach your destination safely at the Landing Strip:
- 1 1/2 oz 10 Cane Rum
- 1 1/2 oz fresh pineapple juice
- 1 oz coconut water
- 1 dash of lime juice
- 1 dash simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 4 sage leaves
Shake and strain into a Collins glass.
Wednesday being the arduous hurdle that it is, tonight we were looking for something simple and summery. Selecting at random, I went with a Tilapia recipe, heavy on the veggies and light on the dairy and carbohydrates. This particular meal was equally eye-catching with bright red ripe cherry tomatoes, a black olive and parsley tapenade and a host of other sautéed goodies that were just the ticket after an evening run.
Pairing with this colorful dish, the man of the house chose wisely, opting for a peach-colored rosé, that I must say complimented perfectly. Though popular opinion may be that the rosés stateside pale in comparison to their French counterparts, I strongly beg to differ. Tonight we went with an affordably priced 2011 Gilbert Cellars Rosé of Mourvedre. Hailing from the Columbia Valley, nestled smack dab between Washington State and Oregon, their climate is ripe for producing bottles with the vital acidity and depth in flavor.
The black-skinned Mourvedre grape is perfectly dry with notes of cherry, raspberry and a woody, crisp finish. I think this particular wine would be ideal for most who tend to shy away from the typical sweet tastes that many think of when rosé comes to mind.
Baked Tilapia with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade
- 3 tilapia filets
- 3 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1.5 tsp. ground black pepper
- 8-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp. garlic, chopped
- 1 cup chopped onion
- Olive Spread (In a food processor combine: 1 tbsp. chopped shallots, 2 c. black olives, 1 tbsp. capers, 3 oz. anchovies, 2 tbsp. chopped parsley, 2.5 tbsp. lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 tsp. black pepper)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Season fish on both sides with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 3 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the sliced tomatoes, onions, garlic, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside until needed.
Place the fish in a roasting pan, thickly coating the top side with the olive spread. Layer the tomatoes and cilantro flat on top of the tapenade like scales, then top with the onions and garlic. Place the fish in the oven and bake until the juices run clear and the onions are beginning to crisp and slightly blacken along the edges, about 20 minutes.
Remove the fish from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Serve with couscous or rice. Garnish with lemon slices.
Thanks to Food Network for the inspiration!
Stiff, sweet and simple for a middle of the week treat. This is a tequila-and-Campari twist on a Perfect Manhattan that is equally as beautiful as it is tasty…
- 1-1/2 ounces reposado tequila
- 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1/2 ounce Campari
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Fill two-thirds of a pint glass with ice. Add all of the ingredients and stir until completely chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass.
NPR’s Planet Money blog explores the economics of booze - present day, and past. What do you think this says about modern day society? Larger numbers of single folks and less homogeneous family structures I would assume….
When asked about my favorite cocktails in Denver, I must confess my taste buds travel over the hill to Boulder’s most gabbed about cocktail spot: The Bitter Bar. Thanks in part to cocktail King James Lee, their program surpasses that of Williams & Graham, utilizing a treasure trove of fresh, organic ingredients and creative, herb-infused formulas that really bring each beverage to life.
Playing off of yesterday’s post - Chartreuse is really having a moment. Finding its way into a concoction at Bitter Bar, The Green Drink was born. Stumped for a name for this genius blend of Bombay Sapphire, mint, Chartreuse and fresh lime - the Bitter Bar guys kept it simple with the call-it-as-they-see-it Green Drink. Bold, fresh, and chilled with a chop off the ol’ ice block, this is the perfect antidote to any swelltering summer day. If you find yourself in the Boulder bubble, do not pass up a trip to the Bitter Bar.
Today’s treat comes to us from Saveur. This green little number was created by New York’s Bobo Restaurant beverage director Adam Rothstein; focusing on herb-infused cocktails perfect for summertime evenings.
- 10 mint leaves
- 1 oz. lemon juice, from about 1/2 lemon
- 2 tsp. turbinado sugar
- 2 oz. green Chartreuse
- Sprig of mint, for garnish
Place mint, lemon and sugar in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add chartreuse and fill with ice. Shake thoroughly, and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprig. (Bonus points for use of lovely etched vintage glasses and burlap napkins for truly unique character!)
“Good taste is always an asset.” This J.W. ad circa 1991 really thought outside the box on this whole sexually suggestive angle. But hey, if your formula ain’t broke don’t fix it… and buy your wife a boat for Christmas.
For me, the key to a truly phenomenal cocktail lies in the purity of your elements. The more artificial additives involved, the less you’re going to experience every full-bodied flavor. With this in mind, test out some cocktails using only fresh, homemade ingredients and top shelf liquor to accompany.
This week I’m talking about the Holy Grail of beverage bases (in my opinion), the mouth-tingling refresher that is Ginger Beer. Ditching the store bought version that relies heavily on artificial ginger flavoring and corn syrup, this recipe from Gourmet is produced the old-fashioned way, using a simple equation of fresh ginger, sugar, yeast, and water. As the yeast ferments over a day or so, carbonation is produced in a natural way that tastes amazing!
- About 1/4 lb. ginger, peeled
- 1 cup sugar
- 1.5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- About 2 quarts water
Grate enough ginger to measure 3.5 tbsp. (recommend using a Microplane), and drain into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing solids to get all the juice out.
Place a funnel in the neck of a bottle and pour 3 tbsp. ginger juice, following with sugar, lemom juice, yeast, and a pinch of salt. Next, fill the bottle with water, leaving about 1.5 inches of space at the top. Screw a cap on tightly and shake gently to dissolve sugar.
Finally, let your mixture stand at room temperature until the plastic feels hard and no longer indents when squeezed (usually about 24 - 36 hours). Chill your ginger beer and enjoy with cocktails! (Sidenote: Ginger Beer will keep refrigerated about 1 week)
In my two years living in Paris, I developed a handful of mainstays or ports in the storm to stave off any pangs of homesickness, or the aggravation (albeit amusing) that comes with daily life amongst the French. Lovely people as they are, they are not always the most agreeable bunch when it comes to getting anything done without a squabble. Now the British, they are my kind of carefree, fun-loving people. Thus, I found a home in many British pubs scattered across the city, and have been longing for that atmosphere since my return to the U.S. three months ago.
As a native Coloradan, I’m baffled that I have not spent an evening in Pints Pub. This true gem of a bar is located in the heart of the Golden Triangle neighborhood in Downtown Denver. Housed in its own freestanding historical building, Pints Pub has an incredibly authentic feel - from the vintage Triumph hanging from the ceiling, an old cask resting above the bar, or the red telephone box as a beacon welcoming you off of 13th Avenue.
Now the most important selling point to Pints Pub is their extensive lineup of brews and spirits. In addition to their own homemade beers, there are plenty of imported British brews like Newcastle Brown, Whitbread and a Welsh ale called Felinfoel, which is sweet with a distinct hint of sherry. What truly caught my attention is Pint’s single malt whisky collection - THE LARGEST selection available outside of Great Britain, with over 150 distilleries represented and upwards of 260 expressions. According to Pints: “For the true aficionado, this is the only public place we know of to sample the likes of Glen Flagler, Killyloch, Ben Wyvis, Kininivie, or Kinclaith, to name a few…”
We decided to test out the Single Malt Sampler, $17 that awarded us a full-fledged education by our barman Jason, getting to know four fine malts that represented the full range of Scottish regional characteristics. We began with the Lowland - a soft, light and dry malt (little to no peat influence) that became our fan favorite. It was smooth and spicy, and unique - only three distilleries remain in production. Next we moved around the circle to the Highland which has been characterized by Pint’s as being the common customer favorite. This was definitely on the firm and dry side. With coastal influence, you can taste something innately characteristic of the sea.
Next we moved on to the Campbeltown - a Salt-sweet and briny malt, rare in production from a remote region steeped in fantastic malt whisky-making traditions. My companion found this to be his favorite, commenting on its “smoky, leathery” taste. We then rounded out this tasting with theIsland, the most advanced of the foursome. Originating in a coastal, volcanic region, the Island has distinct salt, peat and iodine influences - envision the stark smells of seaweed and the ocean. Our server Jason claimed these latter two selections are generally the favorites of long-time malt whisky lovers, developing the palate in a sense, much like many wines.
We polished off our sampling with some burgers and unorthodox fish and chips, which were satisfying, although I’d say the focus at Pints Pub is on the libations - as it should be. We left as very happy customers. Not often do you visit a bar and learn a host of new information, really getting to know the history of the product and what differentiates one malt from another. If you’re looking for unbelievable service and something with a little more flavor in Denver, head to Pints Pub.
221 West 13th Avenue
Denver, CO 80204