Oregon’s smoking ban creep

I became aware today of a nasty new bill currently before the Oregon legislature. Since the state’s smoking took effect in 2009, only two types of businesses have been allowed to let their patrons smoke. The first is cigar bars, which can only allow patrons to smoke cigars, must have proof of tobacco sales from 2006, and must have a full on-premise liquor license, among other requirements. The second is smoke shops, which can allow their patrons to smoke various kinds of tobacco but can’t sell alcohol of any kind.

Predictably, a number of smoke shops have responded to the state’s comprehensive smoking ban by creating inviting spaces where smokers can light up. House Bill 2726 would drastically amend the rules for smoke shops, eliminating these lounges and possibly putting some of them out of business entirely. The bill would require smoke shops to generate 75% of gross revenue from sales of tobacco or smoking implements intended for off-premise consumption, would forbid shops to sell, offer, or allow the consumption of food and drink of any kind, would allow a maximum seating capacity of four people, and would permit smoking only for the purpose of sampling to make retail purchase decisions.

The primary target of this bill is hookah lounges, which activists are playing up as nefarious dens designed to hook kids on candy-flavored tobacco. However there’s no language in the bill that would prevent it from affecting regular smoke shops too; the word “hookah” doesn’t even appear in the text. If this passes it will be very damaging to a number of cigar shops.

There are two forces at work here. One is the class bias that favors cigars but forbids hookahs. Cigars are stereotypically enjoyed by the affluent. Hookahs are stereotypically for the young or Middle Eastern. Of course consenting adults of all types enjoy both products, but under this bill only the former would receive legal protection.

The second force is the paternalist desire to take all the pleasure out of smoking. The original smoking ban was supposedly implemented to protect against secondhand smoke and isolate smokers into a few enclaves all to themselves. With that accomplished, activists now turn to making smoking as unpleasant an activity as possible. Closing down smoking lounges is one example of this. You see it too in the ban on flavored cigarettes, in the call to ban menthol too, or in calls to ban flavored tobacco of all kinds, including pipe tobacco, which is not exactly the rage with kids these days. Or you see it in another Oregon bill that would classify nicotine as a prescription drug, a clear way to say that tobacco is only for addicts and not for responsible enjoyment.

The Oregonian supported the original smoking ban, but to its credit the editorial board has come out against this new proposal. They also published one of my columns in 2009 calling for smarter, more liberal regulation of smoke-friendly businesses:

The Legislature should revisit the smoking ban to make its bar exemptions more reasonable. For starters, the elitist exclusion of all forms of tobacco except cigars must go; there’s no justification for privileging cigars over other ways of smoking. Requiring cigar bars to have a hard liquor license instead of just serving beer and wine doesn’t make sense either. Nor is there any reason to limit seats to 40 or forbid lottery machines. Allowing lottery games and beer and wine sales would also help bring more revenue into the suffering state treasury.

Finally, the requirement that bars must provide sales receipts from 2006 should be eliminated. The law should apply equally to established business owners and new entrepreneurs.

The sponsor of this bill is Rep. Carolyn Tomei.

Update 3/3/10:
Here’s another article on the bill from The Lund Report.


Metrovino’s new cocktail menu

Averna Stout Flip — averna, young’s double chocolate stout, whole egg, angostura bitters, nutmeg, up

Chios 75 — small’s gin, mastic liqueur, lemon, sparkling wine, flute

Cleared for Departure — aviaton gin, clarified lime, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, up

Crystal Caipirinha — novo fogo cachaça, clarified lime, sugar, up

Dirty Grandma Agnes — ransom old tom gin, dolin dry vermouth, grandma agnes’ pickling juice, up

Ethan Allen — bourbon, apple cider gastrique, smoked apple purée, angostura bitters, rocks

Lazy Bear — smith & cross rum, rye, honey, lime, spiced bitters, rocks

Mexican Train — ilegal mezcal reposado, dolin rouge vermouth, chartreuse, mole bitters, up

Seigle Sour — rye, spiced plantain syrup, lemon, egg white, cherribiscus bitters, up

Thyme in a Bottle — gin, farigoule thyme liqueur, lemon, maraschino, up

Walking Spanish — bols genever, amontillado sherry, cardamaro, st. germain, up


Crystal Caipirinha and Cleared for Departure


If you read this blog and stop by Metrovino for a cocktail, you might notice some recurring themes. The drink menu starts with a beer cocktail and ends with one featuring Bols Genever. In between there’s Farigoule, three different brands of gin, Smith and Cross rum, plantains, Chartreuse and chocolate, and clarified citrus juice. If that sounds like the kind of menu I would put together, that’s because it is. I’ve happily ended up playing a larger role in the bar program there than initially expected. I’m joined behind the stick by another Carlyle alum, Jason Karp, and a new arrival from Los Angeles, Elizabeth Foley, most recently at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut and Sidebar at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Part of the fun of being behind a bar regularly again is getting to put into practice some of the things I’ve been working on only for fun or for special events during the past year. Among these is agar agar clarification. The method for this was developed by Dave Arnold at the French Culinary Institute and it’s not too hard to work into one’s prep, yet as far as I know no one in Portland is doing much with it yet. We have two cocktails on our new menu using clarified juice as an ingredient.

The first of these is the Crystal Caipirinha. The Caipirinha is one of the world’s great cocktails, a rustic affair with cachaça, limes, and sugar. Traditionally one would muddle this drink. With clarified lime juice you don’t have to. You can stir it instead, and serve it up for a more refined presentation. From the appearance it could be a boring vodka Martini, which makes it all the more surprising when one gets the strong flavor and aromatics of cachaça and lime.

This way of making the Caipirinha is very spirit-forward, so it’s important to use a good cachaça. My favorite Novo Fogo is wonderful here. We served it in this cocktail at Teardrop Lounge recently and again at the Science of Cocktails event in San Francisco. Sugar cane really comes to the forefront in this take on the drink:

2 oz Novo Fogo silver cachaça
1 oz clarified lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup

Stir, serve up in a cocktail glass, garnish with a lime twist. It’s important to cut the lime twist over the drink; this isn’t just a visual garnish, it’s there to incorporate the citrus oils that would get released during muddling in a traditional Caipirinha.

The other drink we’ve put on our menu with clarified citrus is a take on the classic Aviation, the Cleared for Departure (possibly my favorite thing about clarified juice is all the clarification puns it opens up). According to one story, the Aviation is named for the sky-like color given to the drink by crème de violette, a liqueur flavored with violet petals. It’s a fantastic cocktail, but shaking it with ordinary juice clouds its appearance and takes away some of the violette’s striking hue. By substituting clarified citrus and stirring instead, you get a drink that’s crystal clear and has beautiful color.

When I make this at home I use the Beefeater Summer Edition gin, which has floral notes that are just perfect for this drink, and the Deniset-Klainguer crème de violette. It’s delicious but I can’t get either of those ingredients in Oregon right now. However the locally made Aviation gin and Rothman and Winter crème de violette work well too, so that’s what we use at Metrovino. And yes, I know that the Aviation cocktail is usually made with lemon, but lime also goes nicely here.

2 oz Aviation gin
1/2 oz clarified lime juice
1/3 oz maraschino liqueur
1/3 oz crème de violette

Stir, serve up with a lemon twist.

So far both of these drinks have been fairly easy to work into our cocktail menu. The execution is simple and the preparation isn’t as time-consuming as it might at first appear. One can juice early, let the agar agar set while doing other work, then filter right before service. I’d like to see what other bartenders would do with the process.

The Pegu, clarified
A clarified coffee cocktail
Rum with it


Links for 2/12/11

Vanderbilt philosophy professor John Lachs sounds off on the “myth” of shared governance at contemporary universities.

Tyler Cowen’s take on state funding of the arts strikes me as on the money.

When I was in DC I dreaded CPAC, but with the two Pauls taking the convention by storm it sounds like this year’s might actually have been fun.

What’s going on at The New York Times? First an editorial against the city’s new outdoor smoking ban, then an article suggesting that private employer discrimination against smokers may be going to far. This is surprisingly reasonable tobacco coverage from the Grey Lady.

The latest attempt to prove that smoking bans reduce heart attacks is as faulty as the rest.

In Illinois, a bill would allow small breweries to opt out of the mandated three-tier distribution system and sell their beer directly to bars.

A fun look at the classic ferns bars of San Francisco.

Next time I visit Nashville, I’ll have to stop by bar No. 208.

Is Governor Kitzhaber’s sinful lifestyle the cause of weird winter weather? Teach the controversy!


My favorite copy of The Road to Serfdom

I found this at a used book store in Nashville when I was in college there. It’s the eighth American printing, from July 1945.


In his biography of Friedrich Hayek, Alan Ebenstein writes that paper rationing in World War II made it impossible for UK publishers to keep up with reader demand for The Road to Serfdom:

The initial print run of 2,000 copies sold out within days. According to British intellectual historian Richard Cockett, Hayek’s publisher, Routledge, ordered an immediate reprint of 1,000 copies, and in the “following two years they were to be engaged in a losing race to satisfy the huge public demand for the book.” Because of wartime paper rationing, Routledge could not print as many copies as it wished. The summer following the work’s release, Hayek complainingly referred to it as “that unobtainable book.”

I don’t know if it was ever quite so rare here in the US, but wartime scarcity affected American publishers too. The book is very small, practically a pocket edition. The dedication page explains in tiny print:


“This printing has been redesigned to conform to the government’s request to conserve paper.” On the classic book against central economic planning. Gotta love it.


Links for 2/5/11

If you’re in Portland tonight, come by the Hop and Vine for the grand opening of their bottle shop. Brewers and vintners will be on hand from 3-7 offering free wine and beer, then from 7-10 I’ll be behind the bar with Kyle Webster of St. Jack serving up $5 cocktails with House Spirits, Ransom Spirits, and Galliano. Details here.

Unsurprisingly, the only time I’m quoted in style magazines is when drinks are involved. This weekend I talk micheladas with Gilt MANual.

New York City becomes even more anti-smoker, banning smoking in outdoor parks and other areas. Whoopi Goldberg vows to fight the ban.

Meanwhile, in Bhutan, a Buddhist monk faces five years in prison for violating the king’s ban on tobacco sales.

The Institute for Justice has a new campaign: Defending food truck owners from protectionist policies backed by brick-and-mortar restaurants.

FYI, the US budget deficit is projected to be $1.5 trillion this year.


Two cocktails “against the wall”


Working as the Oregon brand ambassador for Lucas Bols, I spend much of my time promoting Bols Genever. However I also work with one of our other brands, the ubiquitous Italian liqueur Galliano. Both present interesting challenges. With genever we’re introducing people to an entire category of spirits with which they may be unfamiliar. With Galliano, the spirit is familiar sometimes to the point of neglect. A friend of mine jokes that buying a bottle of Galliano is a condition of getting a liquor license; it seems like every bar has it, but they don’t reach for it as often as they could.

When I talk to the public about Galliano, three associations come up repeatedly. One is of course the Harvey Wallbanger. Another is people sneaking pours from their parents’ giant Galliano bottles when they were underage. Or lastly, if a person had been to bartending school, they remember that if a drink is ordered “against the wall,” that means it’s served with Galliano. I’m pretty sure this nomenclature derived from the Wallbanger, but one guy was certain of his alternative theory: Because 750 ml Galliano bottles are too tall to fit on some bar shelves, they’re stored “against the wall” instead. Probably wrong, but points for creativity!

To be fair, there’s a good reason the spirit has been overlooked in recent years. Previous owners of the brand moved production to France and altered the recipe, taking it down to 60 proof and making it much less complex. Those older bottlings are far too sweet. Bols, however, has taken the brand back to its original home in Livorno, Italy and restored its quality. It’s now back above 80 proof and much more complex, with some 30 herbs, spices, and extracts going into it. If you haven’t tasted it in a while, it’s worth giving it a new try. I was skeptical myself, but it really is a vast improvement over the French product. Look for the bottles with red trim and “L’Autentico” on the label.

The most famous Galliano cocktail is the Harvey Wallbanger, basically a Screwdriver with Galliano floated on top. A close second is the Golden Cadillac, a blend of Galliano, white crème de cacao, and half-and-half, sold in unimaginable quantities at Poor Red’s BBQ in El Dorado, California. This was a guilty pleasure of mine as far back as my DC days. Sweet, yes, but also delicious.

Recently I’ve been challenging some Portland mixologists to come up with new Galliano cocktails. Here are two of my favorites. The first is from Adam Robinson at Park Kitchen. He served this is as the opening drink at the cocktail pairing dinner that kicked off Portland Cocktail Week and it was a hit. He calls it the RCA cocktail, since the three ingredients are red, white, and yellow, like an RCA cable:

1.5 oz Cocchi Americano
1.5 oz Sanbitter soda
.5 oz Galliano

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Express a lemon zest over the drink and discard. This is a great aperitivo, low in alcohol but with lots of flavor and fantastic color from the Sanbitter soda.

Another drink I really like is the Livorno Buck from Dave Shenaut at Beaker and Flask:

.75 oz Galliano
.75 oz gin
.75 oz dry vermouth
.75 oz lime juice
ginger beer

Shake the first four ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Top with ginger beer and serve. It’s balanced and refreshing, a good long drink for sitting outside in the summer.

Have another good drink “against the wall?” Let me know in the comments.