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May Issue
In this issue
  • Bar None Giveaways!!
  • The Raven's Caw
  • Tequila: More Than Just Sucking and Licking - Wine X Magazine
  • Level Vodka Mixing Tips
  • Search the Drink Recipe Database
  • Smoothies Break Into Popular Mainstream - by Robert Plotkin
  • SHOTZ Bar Packs
  • My trip to France
  • Dear John Doe,

    Welcome to the May Bar None Drinks Newsletter. The Raven has an affair with a Fat Lady and Absolut gives us more on Level. We also our regular columns from BarMedia and WineX.

    I hope you enjoy this month's articles. Please be smart, don't drink and drive! Enjoy the following recipes in moderation and take a cab.

    Cheers!


    Dan Hutchinson

    Bar None Giveaways!!

    It's time for us to give you something back for being great subscribers. I made the announcement in our forums, but forgot to mention it in last months newsletter.

    What's up for grabs?

  • Wine-X Magazine Subscriptions
  • A mystery gift pack
  • 2 copies of the book Raven has reviewed further down

    How do you win? It's easy. Simply post in our forums and I'll be picking some random people to win. You post doesn't have to be long or creative. Just follow the topic, or create your own.

    Don't forget to include your email address when you sign up so I can get a hold of you if you win.

  • The Raven's Caw

    Raven's Caw Logo Image

    Today Id like to take you on wings of song, but unfortunately for me and fortunately for you this is a newsletter and not a news show, so my singing will be contained to my little corner of this institution we call Earth. Instead, I will tell you a tale of horror and mystery, a story that stretches across the continent and across time, one that even transcends this world and goes into the next. This is a story that will be handed down, to be told at campfires, frat parties, bachelor parties, cocktail parties...well pretty much any party where the booze flows free. The mere mention of the story sends those who were there into fits of terror, and fills their heads with images unfit for human thoughts. It is the story of... the fat lady bottle.

    There is a disclaimer: this story was due to its participants being young, poor or stupid (you choose).

    The fat lady bottle was a little bottle that we had come across at a garage sale, or perhaps it was a thrift store. No matter, but suffice to say that this bottle looked unique; wed never seen anything like it. The top of the bottle had been broken off so, if you can imagine, it looked like a fat lady whose head had been lopped off. We took the bottle back to my buddys place and after a few months the fat lady bottle made it into the large aquarium that made up the support for the bar wed constructed. The bar was really of an ingenious design for us at the time; the aquarium, long since useless for water, had been converted to a snake habitat and had a nice desert scene set up. The addition of a few interesting bottles put the finishing touches on our tribute to our home town (the snake was already long gone.). We set the aquarium on a few cinder blocks and topped it off with a specially constructed countertop, thus creating a bar worthy of dispensing drinks to people who were just barely old enough to do so legally.

    Back to the bottle: My buddy had just discovered wine, and had taken it upon himself to search for the perfect bottle of wine. As Im sure most of you can remember, the first couple of years in the real world arent exactly full of cash flow. The first year of his search was held almost exclusively at the 99 cent store, and blessed our little bar with concoctions labeled after which ever celebrity would put their name on the bottle. Now, I wont be a snob and say that they were all without merit, but for a good lot of them, the dollar spent to acquire the bottle would have been better spent in a wishing well. It was with one of these bottles the story of the fat lady bottle really takes off.

    After pouring a few glasses of a particularly rank bottle, which was unanimously decided to be undrinkable, we poured the rest of the wine into the fat lady bottle (mistake one.) Realizing that leaving the wine there was unlikely to make it any better, and not wanting to have too much oxygen in the bottle, we got the grand idea of filling the rest with vodka (mistake 2). Having stocked the bar on a shoestring budget, we grabbed the only bottle of vodka we had, the $2.99 plastic bottle of Popov (mistake 3). We jammed the cork into the broken neck and placed the fat lady bottle back into its idyllic desert scene (mistake 4) where it sat, ostensibly forever, as a testament to some of the worse vino wed ever consumed, under the heat of the lights, which we hadnt changed out since we had the snake in there (mistake 5).

    And there sat the fat lady bottle, happily for many months. If it had continued to sit there, the story would end happily. But then Id be letting you down. No, this story takes a dark turn. I was off at college on the day the fat lady bottle was released. I was sitting in one of my evening classes, and I recall being overcome by a feeling of dread for no apparent reason. Anxious to pass my next test, I shook it off and went back to the discussion in class. It wasnt until two days later that I learned the reason for my discontent. It had been a particularly hard day at the rat races for my buddy and his roommates. They had started in on the beer the second they got home. Unfortunately for them, they hadnt thought to check the supply of booze before they sat down to inebriate themselves. Within an hour they had managed to consume every last drop of alcohol in the apartment. Well, almost every drop.

    Now, the first question that is usually asked is Why didnt they go get more? I trust that everyone reading already knows the answer...theyd already been drinking, and were in no condition to be driving.

    So, too tipsy to drive, not tipsy enough to be done drinking, and totally out of normal booze, what are a couple of red-blooded guys to do? Yeah, you guessed it; they opened the aquarium and dug out the corked fat lady bottle. Now, I cant claim to know exactly what happened in the next minutes, but I feel I must defend the gravitas of my friends. These guys have gone bottle for bottle with each other with whatever was thrown at them. Thats not to say that they lived in the bottle, but they could hold their booze. They popped the cork and poured a shot each...

    Theres a good chance that whatever was in that bottle was actually poisonous. Theres also a good chance that the bottles contents combined to create a substance that was just very unpalatable. Heres what I know: the bottle was stained by the liquid. What ever was in there actually attached itself to the glass. Heres the other thing I know: my buddies spent that night and most of the next day praying to the porcelain.

    This story has an epilogue. After the fiasco with the fat lady bottle, you would have thought that they would have poured the rest out; they didnt; they re-corked it and put it back. But it gets better...

    On a cruise to Mexico I was searching out a liquor store (Im always looking for something new and exciting) and I came across a whole shelf of fat lady bottles! I couldnt believe it. The fat lady bottle was actually made to contain alcohol! It was Damiana (check out last months article for a run down on Damiana). I couldnt resist bringing it back to the bar. I actually got one of them to leave the room at the sight of the bottle.

    Ultimately, the fat lady bottle has become part of our lore, a lesson learned. I share it with you on the hope that youll avoid making all of the mistakes we made. I hope this story has kept you entertained. If youve got a strange drinking story, post it on the boards.

    Well, you know what happens when the glass and the inkwell run dry. See you next month in The Ravens Caw.

    Purchase Damiana online


    This month, rather than reviewing a drink, I wanted to change it up and review a book. The book is Big Shots: The Men Behind the Booze, which provides a great look into the lives of the men that brought us the drinks we all love. Have you ever wanted to know the story of the Smirnov brothers? How about how a Welsh privateer ended up as the icon for a best selling bottle of rum? What about the safe that killed Jack Daniel? Its all in here.

    Big Shots is an easy read, well written by A.J. Baime, who has written for Maxim and Playboy, among others. The book takes a slightly irreverent tone towards everything, and at the end you feel as if you actually know Seor Cuervo well enough to call him up to go out on the town. Though it focuses on the harder cousins, there is a special nod to our favorite blind monk, Dom Perignon. As a special bonus, at the end, after 13 wonderful chapters, theres a bonus section that burns through a bunch of smaller labels with interesting factoids.

    Post your comments or ideas in our forums and you could win one of two copies of Big Shots. I'll do a random pick from any posts during June.

    Note: Yes, Ive noticed that the book is about men, and only men. Anyone with a line on a woman that started or is currently at the head of a distillery would do us all a service to post it on the boards and Ill track it down!


    About The Raven

    J.T. "Raven" Centonze has been a long time student of the art of alcohol. Initially interested in keeping conversation at parties, his love for alcohol grew to an obsession in college. In between his real job of running a college bookstore, he is the part owner/operator of his own winery. He bartends at private parties which allows him the innovation of many new, unique drinks.

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    Tequila: More Than Just Sucking and Licking - Wine X Magazine

    Tequila Cocktail Image

    Tequila is certainly one of the most versatile beverages on earth, with its patterns of consumption ranging from rustic to refined. Chardonnay, for example, would never lend itself to the sort of group-guzzle that tequila fans fancy: lime sucking, salt licking and bottle passing from mouth to mouth. Whiskey can't be whipped into an icy froth with lime and orange liqueur and enjoyed by a bar full of feverish salsa-heads. Microbrews aren't swirled in a snifter after dinner like fine brandy. No, only with tequila can you do all this. But what is tequila exactly, and what the hell's the story with the worm?

    The first thing to get straight is that tequila is not made from just any kind of cactus. It comes from the maguey plant, which is actually in the lily family. Agave, the maguey from which tequila is made, has sharp-edged blue-green leaves and grows mostly in western central Mexico, particularly in the state of Jalisco. It takes a decade or more for the plant to reach its full height -- about six feet -- and girth -- approximately five feet. Once mature, the inner pina -- the heart of the agave, which looks like a giant pineapple -- is harvested. The entire plant is thus sacrificed in the name of tequila.

    At the distillery, the pinas are heated to the point where their starch is converted to sugar, forming a fermentable liquid. They're then broken open and crushed. Some producers wash the fibers repeatedly to extract as much sugary juice as possible, while others use only the first pressing of juice, discarding the fibers in the same way that some winemakers discard grape seeds and stems. The extracted juice, called aquamiel ("honey-water"), is fermented for up to four days. When there's not enough natural sugar present, chaptalization -- the addition of alcohol derived from sugar cane -- takes place. After fermentation, the liquid is distilled in copper-pot stills known as ollas.

    MEZCAL, at about 28 proof, is made from the first distillation. COMMERCIAL GRADE TEQUILA of 150 proof is made from the second distillation, while some of the finest tequilas are triple-distilled. As with whiskey, the heads and tails of the distillation are cut to eliminate unpleasant and/or toxic elements. Finally, the spirit is pumped into large oak vats where it settles for a month or longer.

    BLANCO, or white tequila, also known as PLATA ("silver"), is reduced down with water to 80 proof before bottling. The best platas are fresh and clean tasting, characterized by the distinctive herbal flavors of the agave. They can be served chilled, like fine vodka, in a shot glass or martini glass. (Some aficionados appreciate the addition of green olives.) GOLD, or reposado, tequila "rests" for approximately eight months in redwood barrels. This maturing period smooths and blends the flavors. It also imparts a slight golden color, which is further intensified by the addition of caramel (the same coloring compound used by Cognac producers.) ANEJO and other PREMIUM tequilas are made from 100 percent blue agave and must be aged for at least one year in American whisky oak barrels. (In fact, virtually all anejos are aged at least three years, and the finest may spend up to 10 years in cask.) The aging process concentrates flavors, fleshes out the body and imparts some color. The complex aroma and mellow flavors of the best anejos may be savored in a brandy snifter like fine Cognac and nicely complement cigars. In Mexico, anejos are sometimes served with spicy foods or with rich creamy desserts, such as flan or creme brulee.

    A bottle of tequila good enough for making margaritas will only set you back a few bucks. For sipping on its own, however, you'll want something smoother, with a more refined flavor and less potential to make you crazy. To get the best, you'll have to pay more (surprise, surprise!). Single village mezcal can be expensive. The elegant and intensely flavored Barrique de Ponciano Porfidio Anejo, for example, retails for about $500 per one-liter bottle -- if you can find it in the first place, that is. Only 500 bottles make it into the United States every year. And for those who want to drain your bank account, grab a bottle of Cuervo Limited Edition 1800 "Coleccion," one of the finest French-oak-aged tequilas. It's a mere $1,000 a bottle.

    Oh yeah, about that worm. Originally, it was used to test the alcohol content of mezcal. It's optional today, though a few producers still include it as a nod to tradition.

    TASTING NOTES

    PLATAS (SILVER)

    Herradura: lots of personality, with sharp peppery flavors. Patron: Simple, smooth, sipable.

    REPOSADOS (GOLD)

    Cuervo Traditional: warm, golden, satisfying (squirt of lime juice perks up flavors). Corraleajo: Smooth, complex, with beguiling impressions of peaches, pine nuts, vanilla and, odd as this may sound, a lingering aftertaste resembling creme brulee. Our tasting panel loved this one. Cabo Wabo: First impression is of refreshing floral/vegetal aromas, followed by a mysterious smoky quality. Swirl in the snifter, sip slowly and savor the intricate personality of this stunner.

    ANEJOS

    El Tesoro: medium body, complex licorice/ginger flavors. Sauza Tres Generaciones: syrupy, with rich aromas reminiscent of honey and ripe pineapple.

    PREMIUM ANEJOS

    Porfidio Single Barrel "Cactus": creamy, full-bodied, subtle, with a sweet, almost butterscotchy flavor. Chinaco: rolls across palate like silk.

    MEZCAL

    Del Maquey Single Village Santo Domingo Albarradas: full-bodied, smoky aromas, leaves hint of caraway flavor on tongue.

    *****

    This article has been submitted by the great people over at Wine X Magazine. Wine-X has agreed to bring you a new article every month from their amazing writers. It was written by Steven Van Yoder. If you like living out on the edge and feel the Gen X isn't well represented in the world, have a really good look at Wine X magazine. They've also given us an offer you can't refuse if you're looking to subscribe: $15 for 6 issues. To experience the full magazine, Subscribe Here.

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    Smoothies Break Into Popular Mainstream - by Robert Plotkin

    Our latest Rober Plotkin article. Smoothies, a fun nutritious drink. Robert is the founder of BarMedia.com

    For the past 17 years, Robert Plotkin, has been working to provide beverage operators with the right career tools they need to attain success. He has created the best management systems, tools, software and books available in the hospitality industry. His nationally acclaimed products are in the offices and behind the bars of the most successful hotels, nightclubs, restaurants and hot spots worldwide.

    Smoothies Image

    Some of us still subscribe to the theory that anything high in nutritional value must taste awful. Likewise, if something tastes bad, it must be just what the doctor ordered. It is, however, difficult to cling to this point of view after taking a long draw from a smoothie. Even its name sounds comforting.

    In fact, smoothies could possibly be the best of all things. Theyre delicious and nutritious, which for many, is a completely alien concept. Nevertheless, smoothies are healthy, potable meals with the look, feel and taste of fruit milkshakes. In this time- conscious, nutrient-depleted day and age, smoothies are something of a panacea, a 21st century concoction perfectly in step with the times.

    So what is a smoothie? Essentially, they are blended drinks made with fruit, non-fat frozen yogurt, sherbet and/or sorbet and ice. Some are even dairy-free. But theres no reason to stop there.

    For example, mega-popular Jamba Juice, a national chain of smoothie purveyors, adds such highly beneficial things as vitamins, minerals, fiber, herbs, amino acids, soy protein and phytonutrients to their various blended concoctions. They have smoothies designed to do everything from provide a boost of energy or fight a cold, to bolster ones immunity or to help shed a few unwanted pounds. All this and theyre sumptuous too.

    Creating Smoothie Classics

    The essential first step in preparing a classic smoothie drink is to plug in the blender, after that, let the creative juices flow. To give the process a shove in the right direction, think of smoothies as containing four basic elements, namely juice(s), fruits, modifiers and base mix.

  • Juice If its true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, smoothies could seriously dent the medical profession. In addition to the likes of orange, apple, pineapple and cranberry juice, consider adding other less conventional juices such as grape, raspberry, peach nectar, apple cider, tangerine, kiwi, passion fruit nectar, strawberry nectar and mango. It is a continuing mystery of nature exactly how and why various juices taste great blended together. Unexplained as it may be, feel free to mix and match various juices according to personal taste and preference. No need to justify inspiration.

  • Fruits In addition to adding flavor and nutrients to a smoothie, blending in fruit boosts the drinks fiber content and enhances its texture and consistency. Since these are cold, blended drinks, for the best consistency freeze fruit prior to use

    Featuring frozen strawberries, bananas, apples, or raspberries in a smoothie are an excellent beginning. But its a big world and fruit comes in all shapes and sizes. Smoothies should reflect this diversity. To that end, some of the possible fruit selections to be mixed and matched include frozen peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, pears, watermelon, oranges, tangerines, pineapples, dates, avocados, papaya, persimmons, pitted cherries, mangos, blackberries and blueberries. Of course, fresh, ripe fruit is always an option.

  • Modifiers Much of the fun begins with the addition of modifiers, those things that begin to give the creation its individuality. Modifiers come in two basic categories. There are those ingredients intended to improve the quality of the recipients life. Perhaps theyre antioxidants, such as vitamins A, E and beta-carotene, or fiber, such as wheat germ and oat bran, or sources of protein, such as bee pollen, brewers yeast and soy. Also falling into this health store variety of modifiers are flaxseed oil, ginko biloba, ginseng, lecithin, protein powders, wheat grass, echinacea, calcium, folic acid and vitamins B, C, D and K.

    Then there are smoothie modifiers that just plain taste great. They may be intended to add flavor or provide a welcome touch of sweetness. Either way, these are ingredients that are bound to satisfy the kid in all of us. This tasty category includes, but is not limited to chocolate or caramel sauce, coffee, agave nectar, espresso coffee, Reeses peanut butter cups, candy bars, walnuts, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, grenadine, chai tea, coconut cream, coconut milk, peanut butter, raspberry or strawberry preserves, honey, malted milk powder, maple syrup, cookies, (dried) unsweetened coconut and brown sugar.

  • Smoothie Base The final consideration is the foundation of the drink. Because of its low-fat nature, frozen yogurt is a popular choice as a smoothie base. It has a rich, creamy texture and comes in a slew of interesting flavors. Others may prefer using soy milk or soy yogurt for health reasons.

    Both sorbet and sherbet are frequently featured in smoothies. They are easy to use and also available in a wide variety of flavors. Finally, people looking for nothing but pleasure tend to prefer building their smoothies on a base of ice cream.

    Fortunately, there are a number of superior smoothie mixes available on the market. Offering a delicious, convenient and cost-effective method of preparing smoothies. These mixes can be paired with fruit, or used as a fabulous base upon which to create a smoothie masterpiece. So rev up the blender and join one of the hottest, most delectable beverage trends in the country.

    Successful Beverage Management

    Proven Strategies for the On-Premise Operator

    This may be the best resource guide ever written for controlling, managing and operating a beverage operation profitably.

    Covering virtually every aspect of a beverage operation, Robert Plotkin has left no stone unturned. From analyzing bartender and server productivity to explaining how to use pour cost formulas to increase profits, it is a guide that anyone can use to increase their profits, reduce their costs and understand how to do it in a step-by-step format.

  • SHOTZ Bar Packs

    The SHOTZ Bar Pack is the perfect size for small to average size bars and nightclubs. Extremely versatile, these allow your servers to keep their hands free to remain mobile. The SHOTZ® Bar Pack contains everything you need for the smaller events including: 1 Bandolier, 1 Waist Belt, 500 SHOTZ, 500 Caps, and 1 SHOTZ Tray.

    My trip to France

    So while staying near the German and Switzerland borders, we travelled to a small town in Germany to enjoy some Chinese Food. Seemed weird at the time, but the food was wonderful and the owner was very charming.

    After we had finished, he brought out a round of digestive shooters for us. Rose Liqor he said. Ok, shouldn't be that bad...

    Don't you love the burn when a fine 54% alcohol first enters your throat? After the initial shock, the hint of rose did come through and was truly quite enjoyable. So, if you ever get a chance, Mei Kuei Lu Chiew Rose Liquor is worth having a taste.

    Between the Aaran Whisky and the Rose Liquor, my hard spirits tasting is finished. Of course while we were there we enjoyed plenty of Alsacian wine, but this isn't a wine site so I'll leave it at that, unless you express more interest in wines.

    Cheers!

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