Drinking | A Continuous Lean.

Saisons for Summer

Sep 9th, 2014 | Categories: Beer, Drinking, Jake Gallagher | by Jake Gallagher

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For every season a beer and a beer for every season.

Much the same way that gin becomes the potable du jour from mid-June on through early September, lighter beers have recently come to monopolize my fridge’s shelf space. These are not light beers in the sense that they bear the “light” (or worse “lite”) descriptor at the end of their names, rather they are brighter in all ways than the beers that I consume during the rest of the year. Simply put, Winter has stouts, summer has saisons. Of course, just because these ales are more airy does not mean that they are any less potent, in fact most saisons clock in around six to seven percent alcohol (although historically this figure was much lower.)





Dublin, Jameson and St. Patrick: The Classic Combination.

Mar 24th, 2014 | Categories: David Coggins, Drinking | by David Coggins

Ger the Cooper

Heading to Dublin with the good people of Jameson for the definitive Irish holiday rightfully makes you a bit nervous. It threatens to be too much of a good thing. Dublin, like New Orleans, has a powerful effect on the imbiber’s imagination. You suddenly hear yourself saying, Yes I’ll have a Guinness at 11am, and it feels perfectly natural. It recalls a line from a novel by the great Irish writer John Banville. Two men walk into a pub before it’s opened and one says innocently: “We were passing by and to our surprise discovered we had a thirst.”

By now, Jameson is so familiar that it’s easy to forget it was founded in 1780. When you wonder why these companies endure, look no further than Ger Buckley, their master cooper who’s worked there for decades. Coopers, of course, build barrels and casks (the original Kennedys—yes, those Kennedys—who immigrated to America were coopers). We watched Ger demonstrate how to assemble one of the barrels that ages the whiskey. It’s a demanding process that Ger made look easy, like an expert fly caster, but of course you know it’s not. The barrels are made of charred white oak from Kentucky, using the same essential technology the Romans invented two thousand years ago. Why change a good thing?

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Leinenkugel’s and the Case for Summer Beer.

Jul 19th, 2013 | Categories: Beer, David Coggins, Drinking, Wisconsin | by David Coggins

barstools

Nobody sets out to be what Kingsley Amis refers to as a “beer bore.” When you’re a teenager you don’t drone on about Belgian Lambics, how you only drink Kölsch in Cologne and mercifully you never utter the word “handcrafted.” No, when you’re eighteen you drink what’s available, familiar, cheap and geographically appropriate. And that’s as it should be.

For us, summers in Wisconsin meant Leinenkugel’s, which came, like Annie Hall, from nearby Chippewa Falls. The bottle declared that it’s “brewed by 73 people who care” which is reassuring. It’s been around since 1867 and has been run by many generations of Jacob Leinenkugel’s descendants, which is good. Then it was bought by an international conglomerate in 1988, which is not as good, but perhaps not surprising.

Even for those of use who are devoted wine drinkers, it remains a very fine beer. Well, perhaps not very fine, but certainly good enough. That’s one of the funny things about the beer you grow up with: Your associations are so strong that they can overwhelm your judgment about the taste. This comes into sharp relief when you try your friend’s favorite beer from Washington or Maine and hint that it’s subpar (perhaps over the years you have acquired a few habits of the beer bore). Your friend looks at you icily, as if you’ve insulted his mother’s cooking.





The Wine Trade: Carla Rzeszewski

May 1st, 2013 | Categories: David Coggins, Drinking, The Wine Trade, Wine | by David Coggins

Master of her domaine: Carla Rzeszewski in The John Dory. Photo by: Lauren Mowery

This is the first in a series about people working in the wine trade.

Carla Rzeszewski is the wine director across April Bloomfield’s irreverent restaurant empire: The Spotted Pig, The John Dory and The Breslin. Those are disparate restaurants require a wine guru who fits their impressive profile. Indeed, in addition to being, at various times, an actress, a bartender and a nude model. Rzeszewski is sharp, capable, profane, and a strong advocate of sherry. We spoke recently over a beer, of all things, at her local in the East Village.

David Coggins: It’s funny that you suggested meeting at a bar specializing in beer. Does that mean that when you’re not working you’re a beer drinker?

Carla Rzeszewski: When I’m not working or if I’m just relaxing with a book, it’s always with a beer, i’s never with a glass of wine.

DC: So you’re a believer in wine with food.

CR: For sure. They historically have gone together, and they’ve been nurtured together.

DC: So when wine is tasted officially and there’s no food—

CR: It’s a joke. Quiet wines, wallflower wines have a beauty and complexity all their own. They don’t stand out in a huge lineup. Other wines have a broader structure and bully their way to the front.

DC: Then how do you, as a director of a wine program, introduce people to these quieter wines, especially if they haven’t heard of them before?

CR: Well the Dory serves more delicate food. Whites, for the most part, and light, low-tannin reds. A lot of those whites are too acidic on their own and yet with the food it works perfectly. Like the razor clam ceviche works very well alongside a Pigato, or even a Sherry. They need food and when they have food they begin to sing. The other day at the Dory I had this clam I’d never seen before. It’s got excess levels of hemoglobin so it’s bloody. It’s pretty but sinister. Alongside this basic Chablis, you put them together and it’s awesome. But the Chablis on its own isn’t as exciting—it needs the food to wake up a bit.





Parma & Co. | Taking Prosciutto Very Seriously.

Jul 20th, 2012 | Categories: Drinking, Food, Italy, Milan | by Michael Williams

Wine, prosciutto, parmesan cheese, bread and a little pasta with basil and tomatoes. That is really all one could want for on a sunny afternoon in Italy.  There’s a salumeria called Parma & Co. that happens to be the perfect place to enjoy the tastes and pace of Brera, one of Milan’s most enjoyable neighborhoods. Brera is quaint and historic with a lot of great restaurants and shops. It’s more low key than some of Milan’s more happening neighborhoods, and is my favorite place to hang out while in Italy’s most stylish city.

The food at Parma & Co. is simple and delicious, very typical of Italy. The must have is the Prosciutto di Parma — the restaurant claims to have won some type of Italian cured meat award, something I don’t doubt actually exists. Regardless of its prosciutto bona fides, your author can confirm that Parma & Co. definitely worthy of a detour, some of your hard earned money and an opportunity at an enjoyable Italian lunch.





Change is Bad: 21′s New Bar

Aug 31st, 2011 | Categories: Drinking, New York City | by Michael Williams

After 81 years, the famous New York establishment 21 Club is finally getting a few bar stools. Glenn Collins at The New York Times reports on some new developments at 21 which include a new bar in the lounge, complete with places to sit and drink.

“The bar was for drinking, not for resting,” said a customer of 36 years, Thomas Moran, the chief executive of Mutual of America.

In the era of the three-martini lunch, the standing elbow-benders were three-deep at the bar, nearly as much a part of the lore of “21” as its checked tablecloths and the ceiling dangling with dozens of toy airplanes, patrons’ sports memorabilia and other curios (they are dusted twice a month). “I’ve served many people who ate a whole meal standing up,” said Tara Wright, a bartender there for the last six years. The tradition was “that you’d made it when you could stand at the bar,” she said. “You’d arrived.”





Spring Ritual: Ode to the Negroni

May 2nd, 2011 | Categories: David Coggins, Drinking, Italy | by David Coggins

The classic Negroni as enjoyed yesterday in Venezia.

The Negroni, along with the baseball season, is one of the most welcome rites of Spring. Its devotees include Gabrielle Hamilton, Orson Welles, and, of course, Count Negroni, for whom the drink is named. According to legend the count wanted a stronger version of an Americano and asked a bartender in Florence to substitute gin for club soda. The result is downright historical. Never has so much been owed by so many to so few. Kingsley Amis, our best writer on drink, declares simply: ‘This is a really fine invention.’