Toast Tuesday: Pisco

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This week in our Year of Drinking Adventurously, week 34, we are traveling to South America, to Peru actually.  Pisco is a brandy that hails from Peru and Chile. A reminder for you, brandy is distilled from wine. How it varies most distinctly from brandy as we are accustomed, is that pisco cannot be aged on wood. This allows more flavors of the grapes to come through to the finished product. There are only eight different varietals of grapes that can be used for making pisco. Additionally, it can only be made in five different regions on the coast of Peru.

Our guide

Our guide

Our author tells us that Chile has certain standards, like Peru, but they are not as stringent, and not recognized by all countries.  I was unaware of the battle between Chile and Peru, over the origins and provenance of pisco.  Before now, I’ve only ever know of pisco as a Peruvian spirit.    Evidently, the U.S. is one that does recognize Chilean Pisco as they keep the ABV (alcohol by volume) more in line with Peru’s pisco.

The pisco I chose is from Peru.  I stood in the store for quite some time mulling over my purchase.  There were 4 different varieties within the Barsol line.  I can’t recall now what entirely drove my choice, but I wish I had picked a different one.  The one I chose, the Barsol Primero Quebranto, was in my opinion, unremarkable.  Neutral, with a hint of earthiness at the finish.  I picked up none of the hints of fruit or aromatics the distiller boasts of on their website.  In my research for cocktails, many noted how pisco, in general, can be used in place of any other spirit in any cocktail.  That being a bonus for it’s neutrality.  If I finish this bottle and get another, I will pick another one that has more flavor and character.

I made two cocktails with pisco, and while I was most familiar with the Pisco Sour, I found out there are five cocktails that are “traditional” pisco cocktails.  All of which are cocktails we are accustomed to with other spirits, but have taken on their own life with pisco.

I started with the Pisco Sour.  Combining fresh squeezed lemon (or lime) juice, pisco, and an egg white with a finish of bitters.  The egg white is what gives the drink that pretty layer of white foam.  A very easy drinking drink that went down quite easily; perfect for a summer evening.  Again, I would have liked this more with a more distinctive spirit, as this pisco just vanished in there.

 

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Next I made El Capitan, which is a bit of a riff on a Manhattan.  Again, I needed a more distinctive pisco, but found I liked this drink the more I let it sit and the flavors balanced.  I sipped on this for awhile, and liked it more and more. In lieu of a nice maraschino cherry in the Manhattan, this was finished with lemon.

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I have had enough spirits and cocktails over the years to recognize a few things.  One of which is the distinctive headache I get from alcohol.  Not a hangover per se, but certain alcohols give me a headache.  I have yet to determine what exactly the culprit is, but this was one of those.  I am not giving up on pisco, this just the one for me.  Pisco has been on my to-do list for quite some time and I was delighted to have a reason to finally give it a try.

I’m pretty sure Meg was going off book this week, so let’s see what she got up to.

Cheers to another week of drinking adventurously!

Happiness Rocks!

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I think I’ve mentioned before we have no idea how it impacts others when we show a little simple kindness in some unexpected way.  I know I have memories that I feel quite certain others would have no recollection of.

Another happiness project has been lurking in the back of my mind. This one has nothing to do with my office. As for my office, I have decided to people outside of my cube want to be miserable and dramatic and I cannot have any part of that. All I can do is go in and be as happy as I can be. So within my three walls I have surrounded myself with as much happiness as I can.

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Recently a new group in Memphis started on Facebook that was born out of a summer project to get some creative activity in their kid’s summer. It has been dubbed a creactivity. 901Rocks! is really about spreading happiness all around.  It’s like Pokemon Go, but you don’t need a smart phone. Happily painted rocks are hiding all over town. They’ve been spotted in parks, grocery stores, churches, schools and offices. You name it, they are there. Some are fancy, some are messy, but they are all born out of love and happiness.

A few years ago a friend of found one of these happiness rocks and passed it on to me. I think I was supposed to receive the message and send the rock back out for someone else to find it. I didn’t. I kept it. It’s in my kitchen where I see it every day and every day it makes me smile!  I’ve been thinking about doing this for sometime and I am delighted that this has taken off.

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I am not an artist. I wish I were, but all I have are warm, happy thoughts.  So with that, I am going to be hiding my happy little rocks all around town.

Happy hunting!

Toast Tuesday: Fruit Wine

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I’ve taken some liberties with this week’s drink.  Our author has taken us on some crazy stops in this journey, like fortified wine in the heat of summer.  This week he got it in his head for us to drink blueberry wine from Maine.  One of the tiniest states in the union and some ridiculous fruit wine.  blech…. I did not go out of my way this week to try and find this random swill.

Our guide

Our guide

Instead, I went for some local swill.  In case you are unsure of my feelings on this, I am not a huge fan of fruit wines.  They tend to be overly sweet and are more akin to koolaid than a lovely table wine.  In the spirit of the endeavor, I made a point of trying some fruit wines.

I called up an eager friend who is usually like Mikey and willing to try anything.  We drove out into what felt like the middle of nowhere and found this tiny winery.  The Old Millington Winery boasts it is a boutique winery and has walls of awards to show how well they have done.  M tried the reds and one of the whites, while I tried all the fruit wines.  We shared sips and compared notes.  Neither of us were enamoured.

 

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The woman pouring tastes for us quite promptly told us she poured wine, she didn’t make it.  She certainly didn’t tell us anything about any of the wines we were tasting.  Having worked in a tasting room before, the story sells the experience and that sells the product.  She clearly missed that memo.  When I asked her about one of the reds and if that was used for the port, she half answered, then shut up again.

 

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Now days when we all walk around with cell phones in our hands taking pictures of everything, she was even snotty about me staging the bottles so I could take a picture.  Little did she know, I am a world renownd critic in my own mind and have the power of Yelp at my disposal.  As expected the fruit wines were sweet.  The blackberry was the worst and the strawberry tasted fake.  The watermelon was the suprise of the lot.  It was light and would make a nice spritzer.  I did buy a bottle and it’ll be interesting to see if I can drink more of a glass once I actually open it.  I have an event coming up that I’ll take it to and I’m certain it will get the attention it deserves.

I know Meg is also veering of course this week.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, something good I’m sure.

Have a wonderfully sweet week!

So much to do, so little focus

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I have so many irons in different fires and so many things running through my head I’m having trouble focusing on what to do and sitting down and doing it.

To day I spent a good part of the day bathing horses and hanging out with the ladies.  It was a wonderful day and I am certain I will sleep well.  I was actually able to come home and get a few things crossed off my to-do list and it feels nice.

 

After last week’s crazy midnight bike ride, my sleep was off and I was just outta wack.  Saturday evening the restorative powers of pho (sounds like fuh) worked wonders and I got an incredible night’s sleep.

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I’ve been living the good life lately.  Eating a little too much, staying up too late, and not exercising as I should.  Finding the balance is tough! Especially when my walking partner is slowing down.  With her sniffing and lolling I get to take in more nature and see things I might otherwise miss.

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I have blueberry wine, visiting distilleries, friends, and new adventures to think about.  I’m not sure I can turn my brain off long enough to find the bedroom.  I’m certainly going to try!

Toast Tuesday: a day late and a Meade short

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I feel like I am sitting down for the first time in a week.  I have had so much fun the last three days.  The best stories start with Dude I had SO much to drink… or this one time at band camp… Well, I had a couple glasses of wine, and when someone said there is a midnight bike ride coming up that we should do, I thought it sounded fun.  I actually thought it was a great idea right up until it a couple hours before.

I’m usually in bed about 9ish during the week because my alarm goes off so early.  On the weekends, I’m willing to stay up later if there is something to do, but will fall asleep if I’m just hanging on the couch.  So about the time I should have been crawling into bed, this seemed like a really bad idea.  I had committed and I went.

I was awesome, if I must say so myself.  For the gal who hasn’t ridden a bike in at least three years, I got out and rode 15 miles!  I thought my muscles would object more, but they didn’t.  Other than my bruised bum from the horrible bike seat, I felt really good the next day.  After going to bed at 3:30AM I was a bit tired and didn’t get a nap in before my friend showed up.

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Me and 1000 of my closest friends out for a ride

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E is on a road trip visiting friends and family and I was delighted to have her come to Memphis.  As she said, it was nice talking to someone you didn’t have to give the back story to before you told the rest of the story.  I could just pick up in the middle of the sentence and she knew right where I was.

The first night she arrived, we had Vietnamese.  A nice low key dinner.  I had to work on Monday, so she got to sleep in, hang out on my patio, and enjoy a leisurely morning.  That’s what vacations are for.  Monday night we  had a wonderful dinner, which you saw yesterday.  The Beauty Shop is one of my favorite restaurants, ever since I went there back in 2006 after sneaking out of my niece’s Bat Mitzvah party.  I have never had a bad meal there, and while it isn’t every day fare, it does not disappoint.

So, tonight I am sitting on the couch getting the stink eye from Coe because we haven’t been for a walk.  I’m so happy to be doing nothing at this very moment, she can give me another minute.  Meg gives us a really good history of meade, so I am going to skip all of that and just tell you what I drank.  As usual, I had to do some searching to find meade in this town.  When asking for meade, I got more than one Huh?! what’s that?

I finally made it to a liquor store that had meade.  And yes, I had to buy meade in a liquor store because it is high gravity.  What is considered high gravity varies from state to state, but it generally means higher in alcohol.  I brought home two different ones and neither will see my fridge again.

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Sadly, it was the one I was most looking forward to that was the biggest dud.  If the guy in the store told me it was still (no carbonation), I missed that.  I like me some bubbles.  What had really sold me on this particular bottle were two things… 1) the bottle itself, a pretty blue bail bottle.  2) it had some infusion of juniper berries.  This meade has an odd after taste that just did  not work for me.  Sadly, their website kinda sucks and also left a bad taste.

The second meade was better than the first, but not by much.  I was happy to see this one has fizz, but it had a strange chemical finish that I couldn’t place at first.  After going back to the bottle after a walk with Coe, the chemical finish reminded me of artificial sweetener like aspartame.

I don’t need to get either of these meade’s again.  I have had meade in the past that I’ve enjoyed, so please do not think I don’t like meade, because I do.  Just not these two.

I’m going to pour myself into bed now, at a respectable hour and hopefully wake when my alarm goes off to start a new day and a new adventure.

Cheers!

 

Toast Tuesday: trappist trappings 

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There’s a first time for everything; I planned ahead for my drink of the week. I’ve created a calendar reminder that pops up a few days ahead to tell me what I’m supposed to drink each week. I applauded my brilliance when I recently stumbled upon a gem of a beer store and was able to get a few of the upcoming weeks in one fell swoop.

Our guide

Our guide

I’m even happier that I got to drink local to satisfy this week’s beverage. This is week 31 in The Year of Drinking Adventurously and we are going to Belgium by way of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

According to our guide brewing in most parts of Europe began with the monks. The ones that are still made by the monks all have “Trappist” on the label. There wasn’t much on the website for my beer, but I’d wager there wasn’t a monk within a mile of the making. That being said, Belgium still boasts the largest number of Trappist breweries.

I went with Southern Prohibition Lazarus Abbey Quadruple.  I found Southern Prohibition when I first moved to Memphis and have been a fan ever since.  This beer has a wonderful body with hints of fig and warm soaked raisins.  Had I done my homework better, I would have used different glasses and poured to get more foamy head.  But, alas, I went with the standard pint and it still taste great.

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In doing some surfing to find out a little more, I’ve learned this beer was a limited release.  Made to celebrate SoPro 2nd anniversary. Technically, this beer could also count for my barrel aged week, since it is aged in bourbon barrels for a few months before going into bottles.  I just had a tiny epiphany… I drank this on MY 2nd anniversary in Memphis.  Literally!!  No shit! Holy crap… That gets the mind going down a rabbit hole.

Now run along and see what Meg did.  I’ve been playing with some infusions and will be reporting on that shortly.

Have a wonderful week and Toast to another great Tuesday!

Toast Tuesday: a boozy bluegrass weekend

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This is week 30 in my year of drinking adventurously and I have veered off course.  This week’s selection, per the author, is geuze.  I just didn’t have the time or patience to go on this week’s quest since I  knew I’d be going on one of my own.

Our guide

Our guide

A couple of girlfriends and I piled in the car Saturday morning to go to Bluegrass Underground.  There are several wineries and distilleries in the area we were going to, so I let the map be our guide.

Our first stop was Beans Creek Winery in Manchester, Tennessee.  We tried a few whites, a red, rose, and a port.  You may recall, I skipped ports a few weeks ago, so I’m counting this as a makeup.  I came home with two bottles.  One of which, the Cynthiana  is “a Tennessee grown varietal.  This wine has hints of tart cherry, cedar, cracked black pepper, and spice.”  At first sniff you get the tart cherry and it immediately reminds you of port.  Our tasting guide Lynn told us that this is the wine they use for their port.  I enjoyed this wine so much, I couldn’t wait to try the port.  The same nose of cherry came across, but with the sweeter, more fortified finish and now some cinnamon and coffee notes come through.

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Saturday night we hit the caves for some Bluegrass Underground to see Keller Williams.  We had a brief moment of excitement when a fuse blew and the entire cave went dark for a second.  Quickly back in action, the show went on.  I discovered Zach Deputy whose music style is something like a cross of reggae and bluegrass.  What energy and an amazing sound!  These two are touring together into early next year.  Go see them!!

Sunday morning we enjoyed a leisurely start.  We stayed at a beautiful home I found on Airbnb.  We were surrounded by fields and flowers, with the sounds of doves and chickens, and one very friendly cat.  Once we got on the road we drove a short way to Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

When I was there last time, we didn’t have time to do the tasting tour.  This time there was  no rush and good thing.  They just opened their new tasting building the week before and  it is beautiful.  While I’ve had several of their whiskeys, and have some on my bar, I’ve never tried them side by side.  Our tasting included Gentleman Jack, Old No.7, Single Barrel Select, Tennessee Honey, and Tennessee Fire.  The Honey and Fire are things I would never have tasted on my own and I can say they don’t suck.  The Honey was quite nice actually and I may try and find a way to play with it for some cocktails.  The Fire tastes just like eating a bag of cinnamon imperials or red hot candies, which are my favorite, but not in a drink.  I don’t know what you’d do with this other than purely for entertainment.

The other tastes were quite good.  Tennessee Whiskey is made by doing a charcoal filtration before it’s aged.  Gentleman Jack goes through the charcoal again after the maturation process to take out some of the color and woody flavor, giving it a much more mellow flavor.  Without this extra step, we have good ole’ No. 7.  Tried and True, same recipe Mr Daniel started using all those years ago.  The Single Barrel Select was the winner for me with hints of vanilla and this beautiful natural sweetness that came through.

A wonderful weekend with good friends enjoying good music, good food, and good booze.  It can’t get much better.  Be sure to see what Meg drank this week.

Here’s to Toasting Tuesday!

Toast Tuesday: Sour Beer

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I’m a bit of a slacker this week, not for failing to do the assignment, but for failing to give this a proper write up.  I’m teaching all week at work and have a spent most waking minutes prepping for that.  Including the 120 minutes I sat at a bar with a highlighter and my lesson making notes to myself.

Our guide

Our guide

This is week 29 and is a tour of sour beers…

I had my first sour beer a few years ago at Portland’s Cascade Brewing Barrel House.  According to their site, they are “a pioneer of the NW style sour beer movement.”  I had my doubts, but most of what I have tried there was quite yummy.

Fast forward back to the present state of Tennessee and I had fewer options.  I found one sour beer at a local bottle shop, monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale.  As it turns out, this is one our author mentions and it’s from Philly (did Meg stick close to home this time?).  It has nice notes of sour cherry, but wasn’t the best sour I’ve had.

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As I mentioned, I spent a little time sitting at the bar this evening.  I tried three different sours; Lagunitas Aunt Sally, Lucky Town Gose Gamblin’, and Yazoo Embrace the Funk Series: Puncheon.  Aunt Sally was sweet and tart with a hoppy finish.   Lucky Town has been on my list to visit for awhile, but today my brain wasn’t looking for “a lawnmower beer. It’s low-alcohol. It’s tart and salty.” That awesome quote is from Lucky Town brewmaster Lucas Simmons, and was too good not to share.

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I went for a glass of the Yazoo and it did not disappoint.  Sour and sippable.  I really could have had another, but exercised some restraint.

Now, run along and find yourself a pint.

Here’s to another Tuesday and our Year of Drinking Adventurously!

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