Friends! Welcome to this week’s inventory! We’ve got a beer by Sam Adams that’s so high in ABV that it’s been banned in 11 states and tastes more like Cognac than beer.The 5th edition of Fibar Valladolid is set to take place this week, David Wondrich explores the problem with whisky, and Robert Simonson takes a look at New York’s The Aviary. Cheers!
Vodka might always play second (or really, fifth? sixth?) fiddle to other spirits, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely shun worthy. Buzzfeed, of course, took it upon itself to make a list of 13 amazing facts about the spirit. For example: “Vodka increases blood flow to the heart and creates better HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels” or the fact that “Vodka tightens your pores” (not sure about that). To learn some more amazing vodka facts, head here.
Sam Adams Releases Cognac-like Beer
… which just happens to be illegal in 11 US states! If you can’t decide between liquor or beer, Liquor.com has got you covered. Sam Adams just released its annual Utopia beer which is “reminiscent of a rich vintage port, old cognac or fine sherry with notes of dark fruit, subtle sweetness and a deep rich malty smoothness.” Only 13,000 bottles are set for release but a handful of US states have banned the beer because of its high ABV. Of course, what a great marketing gig. “Utopias go for about $200 per bottle. The uncarbonated beer is “extreme barrel-aged,” resulting in its 28 percent ABV. The recommended serving size is one ounce, making it more like sipping a fine sherry than a beer.”
5th Edition of Fibar Valladolid
Next week will see the 5th edition of Fibar Valladolid take place in Valladolid, Spain. The spanish cocktail days are set to take over the city from November Tuesday, 14th to Thursday, November 16th. Speakers like Ryan Chetiyawardana, Ximena Cervantes, and Javier Caballero will grace the stage with their presence. Big names like Havana Club join smaller labels exhibiting for the very first time. See the complete program and get all the information you need for your visit via Fibar Valladolid’s website here.
The Problem with Whisky
Ever the expert, David Wondrich wrote a piece about the trouble with whisky classification for the Daily Beast last week. He says, “Fifteen years ago, if you wanted a malt whisky, be it big and smoky or rich and unctuous, you went to the liquor store and looked in the Scotch section. For the same thing, but softer and lighter, you’d still look in the Scotch section, but a couple of shelves down, or in the small Irish section, right next to it, where you’d find the blends. If you wanted something grainy and sweet with an oaky tang, you looked in the bourbon section. The straight rye would be in there, too, if it was there at all … For the same thing, but softer and lighter, there was the Canadian shelf, all blends. And that was it.” These days, not so easy. If you want to educate yourself on whisky you need to hit the books (or the internet, or whatever).
He classifies whisky into four categories. “1) pure-malt, pot-still whisky; 2) whisky made mostly from unmalted grain and distilled to a fairly low proof in column or pot stills; 3) whisky made mostly from unmalted grain and distilled to high proof in column stills; and 4) blended whisky, which is a mix of 1 or 2 with 3”. He then breaks those down in more detail (worth heading over to the Daily Beast for that) and concludes: four kinds of whisky, all diverse enough to keep things interesting. “Is there a hope in hell that the whisky industry will give up its heather-covered hills and limestone springs; the standard nationalist myth-building advertising to embrace a way of classifying whisky based on what’s actually in the bottle? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean we all have to stick with it”.
Bar Review: What Is The Aviary, Exactly?
Punch’s Robert Simonson heads to the The Aviary to see what it’s all about. “I tend to think of The Aviary reflexively as a cocktail bar. That said, my relationship to it is nothing like the relationship I have with any other cocktail bar. Some elements are familiar: reservations needed and no standing allowed (both hallmarks of the bygone, trailblazing Milk & Honey); specialty glassware; drinks made with smoke, flavored ice, butterfly pea flower. I’ve been there. I get it. In other ways, though, it stands alone: the lack of contact with bartenders, the fine-dining courtliness of the service, the otherworldly completeness of the drink creations”.
Different to other bars though, you go to The Aviary for the experience of being there, rather than heading to “a bar” to catch up with a friend. Because of this, it’s hard to classify The Aviary as a traditional bar. They have a completely different approach to classics (read the description of the Bloody Mary, it’s magical), but still, “while all of the drinks stray far from an historical precedent when it comes to presentation, they are often based on classic formulas”. A worthy read, especially if you’re planning on visiting New York sometime soon.
Bildquelle: "Lady and Gentleman on the telephone" via Shutterstock