Stocking The Home Bar

The LibationLab guide to stocking your home bar.  There are “minimum” (to avoid embarrassment) and “expanded” (to impress others) versions in each of 4 categories with notes.  It works well as a shopping list/checklist. 1. Alcohol Respectable Minimum: Keep a bottle each of whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, tequila, brandy, Cointreau, dry and sweet vermouth. Expanded …

How Do You Take It?

Simple vocab guide for commonly confused terms used when ordering spirits: neat or straight: served at room temperature, without water or ice, in a short, stemless glass. straight up or up: shaken or stirred with ice, strained, and served in a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass. Of course, on the rocks is on the rocks.

Throwback: The Frozen Piña Colada

Last night, we were checking out the Blackbird, a new bar on Market Street between Home and Lucky 13, and encountered the unexpected.  They have a frozen piña colada on the menu, and despite the cool weather and heightened kitsch factor, it was really good. Tip: the quickest way to end a brain freeze is …

Firewater and the Too Bloody Hot

One Saturday last spring,  there was little new or unique, let alone thrilling, at the Ferry Building farmer’s market,  while dodging strollers and tourists was beginning to try my patience, so I settled on a packet of dried spicy peppers to macerate in vodka. The cellophane bag held a mix of habanero, Thai, cayenne and …

Rock and Rye vs. Swine Flu (We Get X-Rated in Round 2)

The bitterness of the first batch of Rock and Rye could stand to be tempered with more sweet and fruit flavors, so I took a different tack the second time around. I used X-Rated, a tropical liqueur with blood orange, mango and passion fruit flavors,I zested the lemon in larger pieces, and left out sliced …

Bathtub Gin and My First Hangover

Despite the impression given by running a website about booze, I’m not the hard-drinking type.  I drank little before I came of age, although I did celebrate my 21st birthday week with 3 trips to Oktoberfest in Munich.  However, I recall (or don’t) having a number of indulgent nights in the decade since, and I’ve …

Gifts for Drinkers

Holiday season is approaching, so I put together a list of things any beverage enthusiast would enjoy. Bundaberg Ginger Beer ($5.99) Munktiki Mugs (varies) Vacuum Coffee Siphon ($110) Japanese Barware (varies) Flask Playing Cards ($29.98) Subscription to Imbibe ($20) Artisanal Cocktails ($24.95) Happy Hour Glasses ($20) iSi Soda Siphon ($62.99) Lillet Blanc ($15) Buffalo Trace …

Homemade Cocktail Ingredients and Infusion Tips

For years I’ve been making cocktail ingredients at home. I’ve mentioned some favorite infusions and liqueurs, including roasted ginger vodka, chipotle tequila, firewater, pumpkin pie spiced rum and kumquatcello, but I have also been making sweeteners, including grenadine, flavored syrups and marmalades, and novelties like dried bing cherries reconstituted in port.  I’ve been wanting to …