Reform Oregon’s smoking ban

An Oregonian editorial last week was refreshingly libertarian, calling for same-sex marriage, tuition equity for some undocumented immigrants, restraint on gun control, and even opposition to the state’s smoking ban. I sent in a letter about the last item, which they published today:

The Jan. 12 libertarian-leaning editorial “Protect and expand personal freedom: Agenda 2013” was a breath of fresh air, especially in regard to our state’s excessively stringent smoking ban.

Current law makes few exceptions for businesses that cater to smokers, making it essentially illegal for entrepreneurs to open new cigar bars or smoking lounges even in stand-alone tobacco shops. Regardless of whether one supports a broad smoking ban, it’s difficult to justify forbidding these businesses to open.

Sensible reform would replace the current exemptions, which apply only to venues that have been grandfathered in, with objective guidelines that would allow both existing and aspiring business owners to offer smokers an indoor refuge.

As I reported in the Oregonian in 2011, the promised decline in heart attacks that the smoking ban was supposed to usher in never developed.


Mixology Monday: Fortified Wines

Though the tradition was on hiatus for a few months, Frederic from Cocktail Virgin Slut has thankfully revived Mixology Monday. Hosting for January is Jordan Devereaux of Chemistry of the Cocktail. The theme is fortified wines:

These wines held an important place in the ur-cocktails of punch and have continued on in cocktails proper, the personal punches of the past several hundred years. Though less common nowadays, sherry, port, and, to a lesser extent, madeira and marsala, all find their way into various mixed drinks. […] For this month’s Mixology Monday, I’d like to see what you all can do with these versatile wines.

Working at Metrovino, where the cocktail list is always in the shadow of our massive selection of wines by the glass, mixing with fortified wines comes naturally. From Sherry Cobblers at brunch to the PX Flip for dessert, cocktails made with sherry or port appear frequently on our menus.

The Adonis is not one from our list, but it’s one of the most pleasing aperitif drinks I know. Its recipe is given in The Savoy and I believe dates from the 1800s.

1 1/2 oz dry sherry
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
orange peel, for garnish

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange peel.

For a bit more background, also see my article from Culinate about sherry cocktails or check the sherry category of this site’s cocktail archive.


Updating the Ethan Allen

Way back in 2009, I came up with a drink for the Great American Distillers Festival that used smoke apple puree and apple cider gastrique. We served it at Carlyle and Metrovino (then-Carlyle chef Jake Martin had the idea for the smoked apples), but the ingredients were always improvised and we never had a definitive recipe.

This weekend I was cooking with my friend Paul Willenberg and he mentioned that he was borrowing a smoker. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit the drink and simplify the recipe, omitting ingredients like smoked butter that we’d used to smooth out the puree in the past. What we came up with is direct and works very nicely. Check it out here.


Links for 1/7/13

Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy take to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to call for ending the War on Drugs.

A former anti-GMO activists provocatively recants.

Baylen Linnekin looks at the continuing difficulties faced by the FDA and restaurant chains trying to comply with new menu labeling laws.

Josh Barro Evan Soltas argues that increasing the earned income tax credit would be more effective than increasing the minimum wage.

A defense of e-cigarettes in The Guardian.

I’d once planned an April Fools Day post featuring a “Mile High Manhattan” fat-washed with Rocky Mountain oysters. Wynkoop brewing has beaten me to it, but for real.


Mexican Turnover

Mexican Turnover.

I’d completely forgotten about this drink until today, when Frederic from Cocktail Virgin Slut mentioned it in one of his year-in-review posts. I came up with this to round out the tequila chapter in the out of print Cocktail Collective, and making one tonight I’m happy to say that I still like it. It’s yet another cocktail inspired by the Alto Cucina, albeit with very different proportions.

1 1/2 oz anejo tequila
3/4 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz St. Germain
orange peel, for garnish

Stir with ice and serve up, garnished with a twist of orange peel.


2012 blog in review

As is annual tradition, here’s a look at this site’s most popular posts, referrals, and searches. Traffic is up slightly this year according to Google Analytics, with 96,344 visits compared to 91,504 in 2011. As measured by SiteMeter, the numbers are 109,911 and 105,669, respectively. All the stats below come from Google.

Interestingly, the percentage of traffic coming from search dropped from 62% last year to 50% this year. Referrals from other sites rose from 21% in 2011 to 33%. Direct traffic remained almost exactly the same at 17%. The biggest factor in the change appears to be continued growth in sharing on social media and Reddit.

I had hoped that this might be the year that the camel cricket post is unseated from the top slot. Alas, it’s not to be. The stapler post, a gift that keeps on giving, moved up to number two. Only two posts from this year made the top ten: A cocktail named after the Pigou Club and a review of Tyler Cowen’s book about food, showing the importance of the econoblogger demographic.

Top posts of 2012
1. Camel crickets invade DC
2. The stapler’s secret
3. How to get rid of camel crickets
4. An Economist Gets a (Zero Martini) Lunch
5. Virginia ABC gets slightly less archaic
6. Made in Oregon, stolen by Portland
7. Get sweet on liqueurs
8. Miracle fruit — I’m a believer!
9. My coffee smells like tuna fish
10. Finally, sampling miracle fruit tablets

As in previous years, camel crickets dominate the top search keywords. The most surprising appearance on the list is the Norwegian town of Haugesund, which is mentioned briefly in a post from 2005. Amazingly, 736 different search phrases that include the word “stapler” brought people to this site, including questions like “what does stapler do” and “what does a stapler looks like?” These people lead lives that are either far more boring or far more exciting than I can possibly imagine. “Sex at Starbucks,” “neuticles for humans,” and “what to mix with MD 20 20” are other intriguingly or depressingly common search phrases. If included, my own name would come in at number three.

Top search referrals of 2012
1. how to get rid of camel crickets
2. weird fish
3. camel cricket
4. Portland Oregon
5. Haugesund
6. French vermouth
7. coffee bitters
8. shaker
9. spider cricket
10. Ayn Rand Medicare

There are no major changes to the list of top ten countries from which people visit, with the exception of Sweden knocking Spain off the list. At the city level, visitors from New York surpassed Portland, London rose in the ranks, and Boston replaced Philadelphia.

Top visitor countries from 2012
1. United States
2. United Kingdom
3. Canada
4. Australia
5. India
6. Germany
7. Philippines
8. Netherlands
9. France
10. Sweden

Top visitor cities from 2012
1. New York
2. Portland
3. Washington
4. London
5. Chicago
6. San Francisco
7. Seattle
8. Los Angeles
9. Boston
10. Houston

There are a lot of changes among top referrers, with social media remaining strong and Reddit taking the top slot (thanks primarily to multiple Redditors discovering the stapler post). Google Plus came in at 29th. Econobloggers show well in this list too.

Top non-search referrers for 2012
1. Reddit
2. Facebook
3. Gojee
4. Twitter
5. Marginal Revolution
6. The Hairpin
7. Liquorious
8. Greg Mankiw’s Blog
9. 12 Bottle Bar
10. Lifehacker

For what it’s worth, I have a couple weeks of data for the cocktail section of the site. I’m hoping that this will get a lot more search traffic in the coming year; as of now, search accounts for just 7% of the visits. The most popular recipes so far are as follows.

Top recipes from the cocktail section 2012
1. Averna Stout Flip
2. Hot Buttered Chartreuse
3. Aquavit Hot Toddy
4. Amsterdam Hot Chocolate
5. Hot Caipi
6. Menta e Cioccolato
7. PX Flip
8. Clubland
9. Van Houten
10. Spiced Plantain Syrup

As always, thank you all for reading, and I hope you have a fantastic 2013.