Floral cocktails at Culinate

Just in time for spring, or what’s passing for it here in Portland, my latest Culinate column takes a look at three cocktails featuring floral ingredients.

Beer cocktails at Culinate

It was only a matter of time before my beer and cocktails column at Culinate combined the two topics into one beer cocktails article. Check it out for three of my favorite beer cocktails.

Writing at Blue Oregon

I have a post up today at Blue Oregon, a leading progressive site in Oregon that aims to foster “a wide range of voices – from urban sophisticates to gun-truck-and-dog Democrats; from radical vegetarian leftists to cranky government skeptics.” My post is about the previously mentioned proposal to ban smoking in tobacco shops and hookah lounges. Judging from the comments so far, the site’s readership loses tolerance when it comes to consenting adults enjoying tobacco together indoors. However I’m glad to for the opportunity to write there, and perhaps additional attempts at liberaltarian fusion will be more fruitful.

A quick guide to quinine cocktails


My February column for Culinate takes a look at a surprisingly ubiquitous drink ingredient, quinine. It’s well known in tonic water, but also used in wines like Lillet and Maurin Quina, Barolo Chinato, and the liqueur Calisaya.

[Photo by Culinate.]

My cocktail recipes, let me show you them

If you were reading this blog back in May you may remember that I was hired to edit a new guide to cocktail recipes:

If you’ve ever flipped through some of the introductory cocktail guides on the market you know that they’re filled with drinks that either shouldn’t be made or were last made at a Miami nightclub sometime in 1978. And while it’s useful to keep a Big Book of Dumb Drinks on hand for reference, it’s also nice to have a Small Book of Good Drinks That People Will Actually Like. That’s basically what I’m working on now.

I’ve teamed up with a local publishing company in the spirits industry that’s been receiving requests from liquor stores to create a quality, inexpensive paperback cocktail guide for bartenders and home enthusiasts. They’re doing the design, layout, and marketing, and I’m doing the writing and editing. The aim is not to create the biggest recipe book on the market or a lengthy text on the craft of bartending. Rather we want to introduce readers to the basics of mixology and spirits and provide them with some quality recipes to explore; in short, to encourage readers to try a Last Word rather than, say, a Sloe Comfortable Screw Up Against the Wall Mexican Style with a Little Bit of English. (Yes, really.)

That guide is now out. It’s called the Cocktail Collective and it looks like this:

OK, so first, the cover. The publisher insisted on this one over my objections, but let me assure you that there are no actual blue drinks in the book. I thought a bright red Negroni would be just as eye-catching and that the blue drink makes the book look outdated. Unless the Japanese trend of putting blue curacao and Midori in lots of drinks is the next thing to catch on here, in which case the cover is in fact ahead of its time. But either way, there are no blue drinks in the book!

(Quick digression: After a recent visit to Mistral Kitchen where Andrew Bohrer served a Vicious Virgin #2, I may have to rethink my hostility to blue drinks. Perhaps the second edition will have a Negroni on the cover and include an entire chapter on blue curacao.)

As for the actual content, the guide includes more than 200 cocktail recipes in chapters devoted to brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, and assorted spirits like aquavit, genever, and amari. There are also basic introductions to each spirit, instruction on basic mixing technique, and advice for stocking a home bar. Throughout the emphasis is on spirits that are in reasonably wide distribution and fresh ingredients that require a minimum of preparation. The guide is pocket-sized and spiral bound so that it will lay conveniently flat while one mixes a drink.

The guide is by no means a replacement for the more comprehensive books on the market, but it does fill a niche for an inexpensive cocktail book that’s not filled with terrible recipes some intern cobbled together from the internet. (For those more comprehensive books, see once again Andrew Bohrer, and buy the books he recommends if you want to get serious about cocktails.) It’s a mix of classics, popular drinks, a few of my own cocktails, and contributions from other bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. The latter greatly improved the quality of the guide. It’s a stellar a list of contributors and I’m very grateful to them for sharing their creations:

Anu Apte, Stephen Beaumont, David Buehrer, Frank Cisneros, Ryan Csanky, John Deragon, Michael Dietsch, Ron Dollete, Jabriel Donohue, Meagan Dorman, Camper English, Andrew Finkelman, Ricky Gomez, Peter Gugni, Jenn Hegstrom, Neil Kopplin, Mindy Kucan, Tom Lindstedt, Kevin Ludwig, Elizabeth Markham, Lance Mayhew, Jim Meehan, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Blair Reynolds, Adam Robinson, Matt Robold, Jim Romdall, Stephen Shellenberger, David Shenaut, Chris Stave, Kelley Swenson, Jeremy James Thompson, Keith Waldbauer, Stephen Warner, Allison Webber, Neyah White, Rocky Yeh

So even if you have plenty of other books full of classic recipes, my guess is that at the very least you’ll find something new and interesting from these folks.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, you can order directly from the publisher here. It’s also available through Amazon. Or if you’re in Portland, we’ll be selling them at Circa 33 this Wednesday, December 22, from 6-8:30 pm. I’ll be guest bartending with my friend Leslie Bucher while we serve a menu of cocktails selected from the guide. Join us for a drink and pick up a last minute stocking stuffer for the cocktail lover in your life.

Ales and cocktails for holiday imbibing

My December column for Culinate is up and this month I recommend seven notable holiday beers worth trying. The focus is on widely available beers rather than obscure — but often delicious! — local ones. This was a fun article to research, pretty much requiring me to buy lots of high-alcohol ales and invite friends over to try them.

On the spirit side of things, one of my favorite men’s lifestyle websites, Magnificent Bastard, invited me to contribute a few recipes to their holiday cocktail guide. As an aspiring magnificent bastard myself, it’s an honor to be included. Follow their main page here.

Entertaining with cocktails in the O

I have an article in the Oregonian today and amazingly it’s not about smoking bans. It’s about how to entertain guests at home without spending the entire night behind the bar. Of the three drinks included, only one is a individually mixed cocktail. The other two are a liqueur-spiked hot chocolate and a punch excerpted from David Wondrich’s forthcoming book, Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl.

I can’t recommend Wondrich’s book highly enough. He’s done a tremendous amount of work tracking down punch recipes, obtaining obscure ingredients, and translating incomplete instructions into methods readers can reproduce at home. This is a fascinating part of drinking history that’s been largely forgotten, and Wondrich’s research into the culture surrounding punch is of even greater interest than the drinks themselves. The book is a game changer. If you want to serve punches at home, be sure to pick it up a copy. It comes out November 2.

I should also mention that I’m joining the amazing staff at Metrovino. This is one of my favorite restaurants in Portland, with fantastic food and an amazing wine list. Their cocktails and spirit selection have also been very good, but up until now they haven’t had a full-time bar manager. I’m happy to say that my friend Kyle Webster, formerly of Noble Rot, has come on board to take over that role and put even more focus on spirits and cocktails. I’m coming in to join him once or week or so. Kyle’s first menu is already live, so stop in soon to check it out.

Bitters 101


My October column for Culinate is an introduction to bitters, with notes on the Old-Fashioned, the Mexican Train cocktail, and a drink from Neil Kopplin that uses an entire ounce of Peychaud’s. Check it out here.

[Photo from Culinate.]

Challenging Oregon’s non-unanimous juries

I have a post at the Examiner today summarizing why the time is ripe to challenge Oregon and Louisiana’s laws allowing non-unanimous jury convictions.

Oregon’s low bar for conviction
Dawkins doesn’t get juries

Know your cane spirits

This month’s Culinate column (and by this month I mean August) is all about fresh sugar cane spirits, particularly cachaça and rhum agricole.

Bloomberg bans again!

Over at the Examiner I take a look at Michael Bloomberg’s latest attempt to make life worse for smokers, a ban in parks and beaches:

It’s no wonder that some non-smoking residents support the ban. They have nothing to lose and they’ve been hit with fear-mongering propaganda for years, such as Action on Smoking and Health’s dire warning that “If you can smell it, it could be killing you,”or even worse, uncritical reports about “thirdhand smoke,” the residue left behind on room surfaces when tobacco is lit. So firmly has the toxicity of tobacco smoke been in implanted in the public’s mind that activists no longer feel the need to demonstrate that it causes harm; the mere ability to detect its traces with fancy lab equipment is enough to raise a panic.

Whole thing here.

One siren, 3 billion cups

I won’t defend Starbucks for burning their coffee, but I will defend them against the charge that they don’t do enough to promote recycling of the 3 billion paper cups the company goes through each year. Over at the Examiner I take a look at some of the obstacles to finding uses for all those cups and wonder whether it’s worth making the effort.

Beware of CARE

Over at the Examiner, I take a look at the CARE Act, a wholesaler-backed bill that would essentially reverse Granholm v. Heald and exempt state alcohol laws from Commerce Clause challenge.

2010: A good year for liquor privatization?

Over at the Examiner, I look at liquor privatization efforts in Washington, Oregon, and Virginia.

More summer gin cocktails

My July column at Culinate takes a look at three summer gin cocktails, giving background and recipes for two easy classics and one that will take a little more preparation.

Two quick links

OK, one quick post from Tales with a couple links. I’m at the Washington Examiner today with a post about why the FDA’s menthol hearings are asking the wrong questions. Then at the Portland Examiner, Hoke Harden has a great (and way too flattering!) write-up of the Brewing Up Cocktails event. If you’re curious about the drinks we served, go check it out.

All about oyster stout

I’m writing a new drinks column for Culinate.com. In my first article I take a look at the new popularity of stouts brewed with oysters:

For beer lovers, oysters and stout are a classic pairing. But how about oysters in stout? It may seem strange, but oyster stouts have emerged as one of the hot trends in beer this year, with brewers across the country tossing a few shellfish into traditional stouts.

Read the whole thing here.

Culinate is also the website behind Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything iPhone app, which looks worth checking out for home cooks.

Oysters and beer. Oysters in beer?