Sunday, May 30, 2010

El Jimador Tequila Cocktails - Sunday, May 30th

Since I tried the 1921 Tequila, I've really been trying to broaden my tequila horizons. During my daily internet surfing I came across some information about el Jimador, a Brown-Forman owned tequila company that was putting out a new line of ready-to-drink tequila cocktails. I normally like my spirits neat but thanks to the weekly Thursday Drink Nights, I've really been enjoying investigating the cocktail scene and expanding my horizons.

Personal growth, you see?

I contacted Brown-Forman to see if I could get some more information on the cocktails, mainly because I didn't know much about them. The Margarita was self-explanatory, but the Paloma? A Spicy Mango Margarita? I was intrigued. They were kind enough to send not just their press releases on them but samples too. Aw shucks. Pictured here is the sticker on each of the can:

Oh, the coolest part? The box had a label on it that said "JOURNALISTIC".

Oh yeah. That's right. I'm a journalist. Just let it soak in. Let it seep in to the core. I qualify as a "journalist" in the eyes of Brown-Forman. Aaaaanyway, here are the reviews:

el Jimador Spicy Mango Margarita:

I was expecting this to be BRIGHT. RED. I'm not sure why, actually. I was kinda assuming it was going to be like a slightly fruity tequila michelada like thing. Well, actually, more like a fruity Bloody Mary with tequila instead of vodka and club soda. Smell is super citrus and heavy mango. Taste is reminiscent of something. It's not particularly spicy really. It's more spicy in a "Oh hey, it has a fresh ginger afterburn in it." It's quite sweet with absolutely no hint of tequila in it at all and apparently it has triple sec in it. It really doesn't taste like its alcoholic which could be a significant problem. It is very easy to drink. Actually tastes slightly like a liquid medicine I took as a child, now that I think about it. As you drink it, the spice warms up a bit but it's still not what I'd call "spicy". It's ok. The taste kinda bothers me a bit, aside from the fact that reminds me of my childhood illnesses. It kinda tastes like someone melted a peach sorbet and an orange creamsicle into a bowl and you drank it. If you like peach or mango, go for it but I think I'll pass.

Edit: The more you drink, the spicier it gets. I'm about half-way through and the spice is starting to really come through. The spice is all in the back of the throat so it entices you to drink more to put it out. Tricksy little hobbitses.

 el Jimador Margarita:

Comes out a milky/cloudy color like the last one. While the other was slightly red tinged, this one is slightly green. Smells rather neutral for a margarita. Hint of lime and definitely a hint of tequila in there. It has that malty sweet agave smell to it. This is actually quite nice. While the lime certainly isn't fresh squeezed, it has a pleasant balance of citrus, malty delicious tequila, and oddly enough...salt. I swear to the gods above, the finish has a slightly salty tinge to it that really helps to make the drink something special. They say there's triple sec in it but I don't taste it in this one.

el Jimador Paloma: 

I had to look up what exactly a Paloma is. Think of this as the south of the border Salty Dog. Comprised of tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and salt it is close to already being my favorite canned drink. I love Salty Dogs and I'm growing rather fond of tequila so we'll see how this goes. Nose is strong, strong grapefruit. Smoky, malty tequila in the background as well. The tequila is very noticeable on the nose which is a complete role reversal from the others. This one actually smells like it's got hooch in it. How does it taste?

Hell. Yes.

It's incredible. It isn't too sweet and despite the grapefruit nose, isn't overbearing in the citrus department. The grapefruit is complemented by an aggressively smoky tequila, providing a wonderful counterbalance to the intense citrus. Oh man, the Paloma is a true winner for me.


So here's the rub. Overall, a solid line-up of ready to drink beverages. Not offensive in the least and even at its worst its not something that I would refuse. My least favorite was the Spicy Mango Margarita with my favorite being the Paloma. I think the crux of this also lies in Brown-Forman's treatment of the base spirit. While I haven't had el Jimador in its unmixed state, if it is a high quality tequila it should be featured on par with the mixed ingredients, not hidden behind them. Aside from the medicine correlation I made that turned me off personally, one of the things that bothered me about the Spicy Mango Margarita was that it was hiding what it should be proudly extolling: the tequila. Sorry Brown-Forman, but I don't turn to you for delicious cocktail mixers. I turn to you for quality spirits. I think the best one was the Paloma because it worked WITH the flavor of the tequila, rather than just trying to mask it. Many people find tequila to be the shot that seals the deal on the night. The one where, after a few, the next thing they remember is riding a Wal-Mart motorized shopping cart around a mall (nowhere near a Wal-Mart) without pants on and coated in a fine mist of KFC gravy and vomit (the contents of which may and/or may not contain more of said KFC gravy). A good tequila can be paired equally well with a simple mixer and it shouldn't be relegated to the "what did I do" shot at the end of the night. I will definitely pick up some more of the Palomas if I see them but I strongly urge Brown-Forman to think of the tequila as not just a way to get so blitzed you pay a fifty cents to puke in a newspaper vending machine but rather as a flavor component to their mixes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Belhaven Scottish Ale (Draught) - Sunday, May 23rd

 Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a comfort beer. That beer that just swaddles you in a boozy blanket and cradles you like a new-born drunkard. For some, it's a big hoppy bastard served slightly cold. For others (like me), it's a huge malty beer paired with a hearty meal. My comfort beer is Belhaven Scottish Ale. I've had it on draft in Scotland and I fell in love with it. I actually prefer it in the nitro can in the states (as opposed to the bottles). The nitro gives it just that deliciously creamy edge that I prefer over the CO2 bottles. Anyway, here's my review:

Nose is deelishius! Green apple, caramelized sugar, toffee, rum raisin, and sticky toffee pudding. How can you not like this?

Taste is equally as delicious. Thick, rich, and smooth. Dark roast coffee, treacle, but not overbearingly sweet. Very creamy thanks to the nitro. Very, very slight hop tinge on the finish but overall it's a big, rich, chewy, malt beer.

My favorite nitro can and one of my favorite beers. While not as good as real draft Scottish ale, this is like a warm blanket on a cold night for me. This is my comfort beer. This and a good piece of beef and ale pie...with a scotch and cigar to finish it off? There's not a happier man.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tabacalera Falto Invicto

Sorry for my absence of late. I, indeed, did get my degree in Chemical Engineering on Sunday. Since then I've been in a mode of stunned disbelief. Oh, and unpacking. That too. As soon as I got home the days got pretty crappy (rainy and chilly) so I spent most of my day drinking cranberry lime seltzer and playing video games. But today was gorgeous. Sunny, low 80s with a slight breeze, and a touch humid. I like it slightly humid now, after having the joyous experience of rolling, unending nosebleeds during the Rochester winters. So at about 3pm I went outside to smoke and then I realized.

Aw horseshit. My mom still has my camera.

At the zero hour before graduation the battery on my mom's camera crapped out so she had to borrow my Kodak. For the past few days it's been bopping around in my mom's purse. Since she was out getting coffee with a was back to seltzer and video games for a few more hours. Got the little green bastard back, piled some chicken fried steak into my tummy, and then settled out on the porch for a smoke.

Tonight's smoke was another of the Tabacalera Falto cigars. I still have a few vitolas to go through because, well, I smoked all the short ones already so I had to wait until better weather and a more hospitable atmosphere before I could lay into the big mamma-jammas. As I've said so many times before, go big or go home; so I saddled up the Invicto. A belicoso size (about 6.25 by 52). My preferential sizes are coronas and robustos so this was a treat for me. Clipped it with my new Palio (more on this later) and lit her up.

First quarter: If there's one thing I can say it's this: CHOCOLATE. It was almost startling how chocolatey this cigar was. Hints of brown sugar, dark chocolate, and fresh pulled espresso. Burn was sharp and even. Slightly creamy and medium-full.

 Half-way: At this point the chocolate was still present but it turned into more along the lines of inhaling Ovaltine. Which was -awesome-. However, the aftertaste started to get weird. I can't quite place it but it was an intensely sooty taste with a bit of bitterness. I kept going on because it was still pretty tasty.

Three-quarters: Still tasted of chocolate and coffee, with hazelnut. It was like a Nutella-gar. But the aftertaste intensified and it was getting to me. I smoked it to a bit before the band and then put it down.

This cigar would be pretty damn good if it wasn't for that odd aftertaste. It was a real unpleasant woody, bitter leather, and soot taste. The bitterness/soot may be due to the rather conservative cut I made on the tapered end but the intense wood and unpleasant leather traits kinda ruined it for me. I'll try another just to make sure but for now this is a pass for me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Contest Time! Yay!

Hey hey! So I was offered, quite graciously, two tickets to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic's Micro Spirits Odyssey. Unfortunately, this weekend is my graduation weekend. So sad. But, my loss is your gain!

So here's the deal. You go onto Twitter and reply something along the lines of "I'd like to get drunk for free at the MCC" and you win my pair of tickets, courtesy of the Indy Spirits Expo. They are a lovely bunch (thanks Dave!) and I WILL be attending their festival. So, I highly encourage you to drop me a Twitter line and indulge in the tickets. Go go go!


Manhattan Cocktail Classic: Micro Spirits Odyssey
Sunday, May 16th 2010 at 1pm to 9pm.
Butter Restaurant, 415 Lafayette Street between East 4th and Astor Place.
Includes access to all seminars, which are so killer they make me weep that I have to walk graduation. Some of them include: From Moonshine to Mastery - Stories From Behind the Stills (with Junior fuckin' Johnson!), NYCDG - Spirits are the Next Big Artisanal Farm Product (with Gabe fuckin' Erenzo, co-owner of Tuthilltown Spirits), and others.

So hop to it, damn it!

EDIT: CONTEST HAS ENDED. Congrats to @ChinaMike on Twitter for winning the tickets.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

1921 Tequila - Tuesday, May 4th

I...I cannot tell a lie, readers. I'm not really a tequila man. My limited experiences involving Jose Cuervo have sullied the name of tequila for me. While I was tasked with the review of the Vermont vodka series, the same PR company that offered me those samples plied me with samples of tequila as well. Being a Scotsman and a drinker, I naturally accepted the free booze. No, no, I kid. I've heard people extol the wonders of a nice tequila on the rocks or neat and I really, really wanted to believe them. I figured that if I accepted the samples, I'd have to try the tequila and maybe I'd like them. It was just the impetus that I needed to try to destroy my utter loathing of tequila. And...well...

It worked.

The 1921 line is looking like a premium line of 100% blue agave tequilas. The samples sent to me were the Blanco (unaged), Reposado (light aging, typically 6 months~ish), Reserva Especial (aged 9 months), and the Tequila Cream. Here we go:

Blanco - Nose is a delicious dichotomy. It has a nice fruity quality to it with a smokey, mesquite like baseline. Quite nice. Tastes of HOLY SHIT. It starts smooth and sweet then quickly morphs into a spicy/peppery and smokey behemoth. It's almost like sweet and sour peppered beef jerky, which isn't terrible because that sounds delicious to me. It's viscous and rich. The finish is terrible though, like a punch in the throat. It rasped my tongue and made me go "Whoo". Considering I have no problem drinking cask strength scotch neat, not a ringing endorsement. The flavors are nice, if a strange comparison to what I normally drink but the finish breaks the deal. The finish is what I can only describe as "a forest fire in your mouth". Smoke and an odd slow burn that coats your mouth and esophagus. Hopefully the older ones are more mellow.

I forgot to get a picture of it in the glass. Sorry
Reposado - Smell is similar to the blanco but far more muted on the smoke. Its rich and heady, full of sweet honeysuckle and clover honey notes with a slight toffee as well. The smoke is either hidden by it or gone. The taste follows the nose and is very nice: sweet and buttery with a slight seabreeze like taste in it as well. The fire on the finish is still there but not as severe as the blanco. Still makes my throat tighten and my tongue numb out a bit but in this case it's lessened enough that I can work through it. Can't believe something that's only 40% carries this much throat-clenching power.

Reserva Especial / Anejo - Very, very nice nose. That butterscotch/floral quality of the blanco and reposado with a nice dose of oak to it. Almost....ALMOST...smells like a blended scotch. There's just a hint of "peat reek" like smoke to it. That killer finish has tamed significantly from a leonine roar to a content purr making it very drinkable. The smoke on this one is more prominent than the reposado, giving it back that duality that I liked from the blanco with a soothing of the savage beast of a finish.

Crema de Tequila (Tequila Cream) - This stuff scares the everloving bejesus out of me. Thin for a "cream", it smells distinctly like...well...gas station cappuccino. Y'know, the ones that come out of the machine with only three buttons on it and a huge cup of cappuccino proudly displayed on the front. Smells like that. Taste is...uhh....interesting. Thick and heavy, it tastes like a room temp melted coffee shake. The only thing that hints at the fact that it has 1921 Tequila in it is the fact that, well, it has that burn to it. But very slightly. I really don't know what to make of it. It's not bad but it's not great either. I also have no clue what to use it for.

Overall, here's how I'd treat them:
Blanco - mix, perhaps with a fruit-based drink to accentuate its sweetness but give a smokey balance to an overall sweet drink (Tequila Sunrise would be good)
Reposado - on the rocks or with a simple mixer. I'd go with some lemon-lime soda (Tequila Slammer) or club soda with agave syrup.
Reserva Especial / Anejo - Neat or with a touch of water.
Crema de Tequila (Tequila Cream) - ???

Wait, no, scratch that. I have a cocktail to make with the Crema. I call it: The Gringo The Trotsky.

1 portion of Vermont White Vodka
1 portion of Tequila Cream
top with heavy cream

There we have it. The Gringo The Trotsky; the south-of-the border White Russian. Should look a little something like this:

Tastes pretty good. The tequila burn makes it a more roughshod version of the White Russian. But not bad.

So yeah. An interesting adventure into the world of tequila. I like the flavors but the finish is almost staggering. It even pulls through on the White Russian, which had about 5 oz. of whole milk in it. I dunno if it's just me or what but I could see myself buying the anejo/reposado frequently if the end wasn't like burping flaming Sterno. Take it as you will. Flavors are damn tasty though.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I smoke.

There, I said it. I like to smoke. I smoke pipes, cigars, and the occasional Nat Sherman cigarette (mainly because I haven't found a cigarillo I like). I know that there are many people out there that don't smoke. Whatever floats your boat, baby. If you like to smoke, welcome to the club. If you don't like to smoke, then I respect that.

America is a funny place these days. With the politicians pushing for "political correctness" at all times, America at large has changed from the country it used to be 50 years ago. I won't say whether for good or bad (this is a drinking blog, not a politics blog) but there is one thing that bugs me. In America, in which such fantastic and positive movements such as the push towards racial and sex equality took place, it is still okay to discriminate. If you're fat or a smoker, you get the shit end of the stick here. It continues to amaze me that it is still perfectly fine to bash on smokers and fat people in a country so determined for complete equality.

I said that I respect people that don't smoke but this isn't completely true. In order for me to respect you, you have to respect me in return. Fuck, it goes along with a scientific law: The Law of Conservation of Mass. The law states that you cannot destroy or create matter in a chemical equation. What is put in must come out. So when I respect your decision not to smoke, the equation gets royally fucked when you decide not to respect me. See where I'm going with this?

About an hour ago I decided to have a smoke on a nice, if slightly humid night. I lit up (it was a Nat Sherman) and proceeded to smoke. I was about fifteen feet from the building with a heady wind. As it is, I'm standing in the middle of the sidewalk. I'm courteous mostly. I know that there are those that don't like the smell of smoke so I stand away from the building, unlike most people that seek refuge from the wind and precipitation. I figured 15 feet, a quarter the length of my childhood home, would be sufficient. As I smoke, I hear a chair scrape and the loud bang of a door behind me. I turn to see someone explode out of the hall and stare at me. He goes:

"Are you smoking?"

I look down at the cigarette in my hand.


He looks at me like I just killed seventeen children with a flamethrower. He venomously says:

"Look, just move? I can't stand the smell of smoke."

At this point, I'm fine with it. He seems a touch angry but whatever. Then he indignantly says:

"25 feet. 25 feet." (heavy annunciation on the 25) "It's just rude. Can't believe you people..."

You people? What the hell? First off, did he just generalize every smoker? Second, did he just generalize every smoker as an inconsiderate ass? So I move. I'm almost flabbergasted at how inconsiderate he was. I could hear him storm out of his room to berate me. Make no mistake folks, this was not a nonchalant chat we had. He dressed me down like R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket.

At this point, I'm standing in the middle of the lawn on top of a drainage grate. I'm still smoking, as calm as I can be. I'm looking through the door and I see him again, spying. He originally went back into the building and turned left. I then see him come by and stare at me like I'm gonna light more kids on fire. I keep smoking. Then he sticks his head back around the corner to make sure I haven't moved like this is some fucked up game of Red Rover where if he catches me he calls Security and I have a meeting with the Dean.

Look kid, I'm sorry I can't control the wind. I'm sorry this isn't a magical fantasy world in which I can just bust a special "Control The Damn Wind" spell out and make the wind go away. Trust me, if I could have I would have stopped the gale force winds Rochester sports year round. Also, I'm another human being there chief. I have emotions, wants, and needs. I'm not some sort of troll. As I said, this isn't a magical land filled with beings you can just chew out with no recourse. At least be polite, that's really all I ask.

Seriously, what has happened to this country? Why is it fine to pick on and bully a select group of people? So what if I'm fat? A lot of people just say "well stop eating, fatty". Ever stop and think that some people are fat for other reasons than your summation that its all they can do not to cram cheesesteaks into their gaping maw? So what if I smoke? I bet you're going to say "Well the second hand smoke you produce is poison". That's false. In a country of such scientific origins, you'd think people would be able to ferret out the bullshit. The study on secondhand smoke was thrown out because it was such a faulty study. They cherry-picked data to fit what they wanted to say. THROWN OUT. A U.S. District Judge THREW OUT THE STUDY because it was faulty. Also, an EPA study of indoor cancer causing particles done in 1991 states that passive tobacco smoke results in 3,000 cancer related deaths per year. Sounds like a lot, right? Compare that to the amount of deaths related to radon leakage in homes which, at it's ceiling, is about 20,000 and at it's base is 5,000. People, tobacco is the least of your worries. Worry about radon because it's almost 6 times more deadly.

Look, it really doesn't bother me if you have a problem with smoking. If someone you know died because of it, I'm sorry. I truly am. If you just don't like the smell, I respect that. But don't think that it's okay to treat me like dirt. I'm a human too. I am exactly like you. Just because I smoke or just because I'm portly doesn't mean you have authority over me. The founding fathers laid down their lives and livelihoods to ensure life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. But I guess they forgot to add the "P.S. Except smokers and fat people" clause.