Monday, January 6, 2014

Back and Bad

Ok so 2013 wasn't so great for this blog. But 2014 will be better. I've promised myself to update this blog at least once a week, and bring back the IBA project to the best of my abilities. 

Spending nearly one year working in the liquor industry made me realise a couple of things
1) I still get excited over new drinks , new bars, new ideas, new tastes.....
2) I still enjoy my drinks - but I'm done drinking just to get high or drunk. I drink to enjoy the flavour..... Getting high is just the side effects. :)

That job also made me slightly sick of drinking those local watered-down beer on tap, those common (probably fake) whiskies and horribly made overpriced cocktails. So. With whatever opportunity given to me, I intend to highlight awesome stuff - cocktails, bars, bartenders, exciting brands, share with you some DIYs... Especially DIYs. Why? Because when you realise how easy to make simple cocktails, and how CHEAP it is to make it tastier and stronger for a fraction of the price you pay for at so-called "happening" bars, you would never want to go to those places again. 

But there are SOME bars that I believe, are still worth visiting, where the bartenders actually care about their craft and the quality of the exciting drinks they make, were the ambience is cosy and just right for chit chat with a friend or two. Those I would love to go again and again, if my bank account allows me. Damn this place for making drinking so expensive.

So Hello 2014. :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Short note.

Cocktail recipes need to be tweaked to make room for our local overly sour limes. Make room in the recipe for some sugar syrup to balance the sourness.

Another way to counter the sourness without altering the 'original recipe' is to make the syrup 2:1 water.

But for tequila recipes which originally doesn't call for sugar (as per iba) - highly recommended to put some syrup, if you don't want to see crumpled faces.

Iba postponed until further notice. :p

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The IBA Project

Image Source: nightlifealert.com
This is one of the main reasons why I've been a little quiet these days - doing some research on this new exciting project I want to embark on and finding a new reason to live. THIS IS IT. THIS IS A NEW REASON TO LIVE THROUGH 2013.

(Just so that we're clear, drama aside, even if I hadn't found this to do, I would still live through 2013, albeit it might be a tad bit duller.)

But I'm really excited about this. So excited that I'm forcing you to get excited with me about it!

Firstly, what in the world is IBA? 
IBA is the acronym for International Bartenders Association (easily confused with the international BAR association meant for lawyers, but they are pretty related right? Because when they are/were studying for the exam they go to the BAR a lot ohmygod that was lame and I digress) which was founded in 1951 in England.

What they are and do is pretty much like what other professional  (auditors, engineers, accountants, bankers, lawyers) associations do and they hold all sorts of yearly international bartendering competitions. IMHO, someone ought to really fix up that website. It isn't too reader-navigational friendly (at least, not on Chrome, anyway) .

So IBA has a list of 77 recognised cocktails and standardised recipes. Apparently, these are some of the most frequently made around the world.

What's this IBA Project about then? 
I plan to whip up all 77 "Official IBA Cocktails" by the end of 2013 & document it here.

Sounds mighty simple doesn't it? But it isn't! Half of the challenge is to get the actual ingredients itself. Old Tom Gin? Orange Flower Water? Lillet Blonde? DiSaranno? Aperol? Orgeat and Gomme syrup? Celery salt? WHAT? Where do you even begin? And then even if I do ever find out, how much are they going to set me back? *scared*

Why am I even doing this? 
The question is, why not? It's exciting and SO FUN! Actually, I got my inspiration from the Julie and Julia movie.  I figured, I have about 47 weeks. If Julie can whip up 524 recipes in Julia's cookbook in 365 days, what's 77 cocktails in 47 weeks, eh?

But mostly, I'm embarking on this because I would totally enjoy doing it and I want to familiarise myself with the recipes of supposedly popular cocktails "recognised" internationally by any bartender worth his salt. Apart from hunting down the ingredients and mixing them, I'm also going to try to read up about them..... just so that you and I know more. I would love nothing more than to share this with anyone who gives a rat's ass. Because the more we know, the better, right? We can't always be drinking beer and wine, SMWs, straight up spirits and... wow that's actually quite a lot of options here... but you get my drift right? Something something about variety being the spice of life. :)

The Game Plan: 
Conquer the list one drink at a time, and hopefully get it all done by 2013.

Next Up: 
First, I'm going to compile the list of ingredients I'm lacking and share them with you. Who knows, maybe, just maybe I'll be get lucky and you'll know how and where to find it. Maybe I'll get even luckier and get YOU to sponsor me stuff too. *shameless*

Then, THEN, I'll make them drinks. (Let me know if you want to volunteer to be my guinea pig - otherwise I'm just have to continue getting my own family high on them lol)

Tune in for more of this after CNY. :)


More:
  • IBA's Official website (NB: NOT Chrome friendly, but seems okay on Firefox)
  • The List of 77 Official IBA Cocktails: On their website & on my blog, just in case the version we're seeing today gets edited. My blog version will also be a check list which will be updated as and when a cocktail's completed.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Horizontal 18 Year Old SMW Tasting

All the beauties in a row.
From left to right: (italics to emphasize the ones not meant to be part of tasting)
1. Tomatin 18 year old
- Strathisla Single Malt Scotch Whisky (not an 18, but was brought out because it was interesting)
- Macallan 15 year Old, Fine Oak (not exactly drank, more like eaten. it was used to flame steak which was served for dinner, I shit you not)
2. Macallan 1994 / 18 year old sherry
3. Yamazaki Hakushu 18 year old
4. Glenlivet 18 year old
5. Laphroaig 18 year old
- Glenfiddich, 125th anniversary edition (brought out because we were all curious)
6. Glenfiddich 18 year old
- Glenfiddich age of discovery 19 year old Madeira Cask  (brought out because we wanted to compare)
- Glenfiddich, 30 year old (brought out because the host was high and feeling generous)


Liked:
- Macallan 18, Glenfiddich 18, Glenlivet 18: Preference in this sequence. All smooth, easy drinking. Easily could be the bottles you reach out for on a daily basis. Glenlivet felt like the roughest, Macallan the silkiest.
- Yamazaki Hakushu I'm personally surprised to like this one because it's rather smoky. However, when you open the bottle, the first thing you notice is the the scent of sweet vanilla. It's sweet first, then subtly smoky yet smooth. I can take this. In fact, I enjoy it. Tasting this feels like what an oxymoron would taste like, if oxymoron had a taste. Its personality is so different from the other 3 mentioned above. So... Japanese? Haha. If I had to choose between all of the 18 year olds, this would be my favourite for the night.
- Glenfiddich 30: I suppose if I had to choose a favourite among ALL of it, it would HAVE to be this one - who wouldn't?  It smells like heaven filled with sweet smelling flowers. Only slightly exaggerated. And it tastes like it too. I would love to drink this everyday except for the small tiny detail of the fact that it sets you back about a few grands. :(
- Glenfiddich 19: I always confuse this with its Bourbon Cask brother, because I do like them both. Both smell sweet, goes down smoothly too... Though if I remembered correctly, I prefer the Bourbon brother because it's smoother and more.. flowery sweet.

Interesting:
- Tomatin 18 year old: forgot how this one tasted like but remembered that I didn't hate it.
- Strathisla Single Malt Scotch Whisky: pleasantly surprised that it's from Chivas, and it tastes decent for a 12 year old. But both won't be a top of mind for me.

Disliked:
- Laphroaig 18 year old & Glenfiddich, 125th:  Guess why? Yup. Super peaty. Just not my thing at all, despite Laphroaig being very sweet at first but the peatiness hits you like a truck right after.  Glenfiddich is just all round rough and smoky. But if you like that "strong", "manly", "muskiness" of whisk(e)y, this might just be it for you.

Thank you BoozyBuggers.
What would I be without you people and your lovely stash?
Sad and crying myself to bed every night, that's what. Hehehe! <3

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Ohai!

What makes a whiskey and a whisky different (apart from the obvious missing vowel, wise guys, haha) is that "whisky" comes from Scotland, and is also known as a Scotch. What makes a Scotch a Scotch is, among other things, that the whisky needs to be aged in Scotland, aged for at least 3 years and bottled at no less than 40% ABV.

Jameson's very proudly, made in Ireland. So it's not a Scotch, neither it is a whisky. It's a whisKEY.

Doesn't make it worse or better. It only makes it different from a Scotch.

It is tripled distilled, which is probably why the aroma isn't as strong as  say,  a single malt whisky (SMW) which is distilled only twice. But it is also the reason why it goes down so smooth, it claims. Though it IS smooth. 

Oh and it is sweet. You can smell the sweetness (which is unlike the strong vanilla sweetness from SMWs) and taste it too, even on the rocks. Has that slightly smoky aftertaste which is not distracting. 

I like it. 

Man, I need to take better pictures of the stuff I drink or throw away that BB for a better phone. :/

More:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Asahi on a Hot Tuesday Afternoon

Just to re-affirm you that this blog is not managed by a bot, I'm slipping in a picture of me. Ohai!


Nothing beats an ice cold beer on a sweltering day, don't you think?

The handsome devil pictured above is Asahi Super Dry, a favourite lager of mine.

Here's a description of what the beer is from Carlsberg Malaysia's website:
Asahi Super Dry was introduced in Japan on March 17, 1987 as the world's first KARAKUCHI beer, and Japan's first dry beer. Ever since then, it has continued to improve the taste and excitement of beer.
Asahi Super Dry is a premium lager beer and is also Japan's No. 1 beer. It's unique clean, crisp & refreshing "Dry Beer" taste (Karakuchi, in Japanese) has caught on with the rest of the world, with its presence in over 80 countries.
And they weren't kidding about the crispy aftertaste. Light, bubbly, clean, dry, and there's none of that usual bitter, hoppy aftertaste that most beers have... so it goes down super easy!

Asahi Draught in a Tower.. or rather, bubble lol

Carlsberg distributes (through its subsidiary, Luen Heng) and brews Asahi locally. It's available on-premise (bars, outlets, cafe, F&B outlets...) and off-trade retail outlets (Jaya Grocer, Giant, Carrefour...). It is also served on tap at selected Carlsberg outlets since December 2011.

It's a little more expensive than your usual Carlsberg green label or Tiger but is in par with the other "imported" beers.

In a nutshell, it's easy to drink, easy to get, and relatively inexpensive. No reason to not enjoy it at anytime of the day aye? :)

Kampai!

Monday, January 7, 2013

DIY Jelly Shots

Bottom to top: Margarita, Lemon Drop, Strawberry Daiquiri and Apple-Peach Jelly Shots

These friendly, colourful weapons of mass destruction are super easy to make!

It's not (yet) the nicest tasting mixtures, but it's palatable. Most importantly, it is also unassuming and lethal - the best combination ever. I've had friends who after consuming 2, declared that they were quite high, muahaha.

Don't waste your good vodka. Absolut's more than fine.
Ingredients:

1. Jelly powder: you can get the "local" brands from Giant or Tesco (Nona, or First Choice). It is usable, but the jelly flavour kinda sucks. I personally recommend the imported brand Jell-O. It has the most outstanding colours and the taste is super strong. Also, it is easier to make as it only requires hot water. The local ones require you to BOIL the water - which "burns" off the spirit as water boils at 100 degrees and spirits boil at about 78 degrees. So when you pour the spirit into the boiling hot water, you'll be wasting some of that lovely alcohol. But, there are two problems with Jell-O is that 1) it's not easiest to acquire. You'll need to visit your Jaya Grocer, Village Grocer or one of those super atas grocery shops that cater for expats to get it and 2) it's also 3x the price of the local brands (RM2.XX vs RM6.XX). **Oh, do stay away from raspberry jelly flavours.

2. Hot water

3. Cold water

4. Spirit of your choice - I've experimented using basic vodka which is super easy to combine with anything EXCEPT raspberry which makes it tastes like really bitter awful cough syrup. So don't use raspberry. Rum and tequila can be used too, but we'll go into that later.

5. Plastic shot cups - I managed to get them from Giant Hypermarket.

6. Some cooking oil - olive is great, if not, anything else is fine.

7. A piece of tissue paper


Steps for basic Vodka Jelly:

1. Line plastic shot cups with oil - Take a piece of tissue, dab some oil on it, then rub the entire inner part of the cup with it. This needs to be done so that the jelly can slide out. If it's not oiled, one needs a spoon to eat the entire jelly shot which kind of kills the novelty of "popping" a "shot".

2. Follow instructions on jelly packet, except you need to half the amount of water required to melt the jelly. Ie, for the 3 brands I've worked with (Nona, First Choice & Jell-O), 2 cups of water is required to melt the jelly. Half that amount to 1 cup. Stir until all jelly powder dissolves. For local jelly powders, you need to BOIL the jelly - just dumping it into hot water does not work (tried and tested) because the jelly will not set. Something about chemical compounds needing to be broken and all that.

3. After the powder's all melted, let it cool down. Keep stirring. Then pour in half a cup of cold water to bring down the temperature of the mix. Stir.

4. Pour in half a cup of vodka. Continue to stir.

Half a cup of vodka being poured into the warm mixture

5. Then pour the mix into the plastic shot cups.

Carefully pour the mixture. It's a sticky mess.

6. Chuck the cups into the fridge. Give it a couple of hours for it to really set.

Gotta make a lot of room in the fridge for this

 If everything done's right, the jelly should slide out of the cup easily and look like this:

Screwdriver = Orange jelly + vodka

7. Serve COLD and still in the cup. Preferably at parties. And get everyone high and happy! One packet of jelly serves approx. 14 full shot cups. If my math is right (and it's quite bad actually), each cup contains about 1/3 parts of vodka :P

(Note: Jellies MUST be kept cold. We left a couple of jelly shots out for too the long once and the whole thing melted and turned into liquid, sticky, slush)

My precious Jell-Os
Other recipes:

I had to work with the only flavours I found at Village Grocer @ Jaya33 as I was fast running out of vodka, so instead of just the plain old vodka jelly shots, I tried being creative by making other jelly "cocktail" flavoured shots:

1. Margarita:
- Lime Jell-o
- 1 cup water
- 6 oz. tequila
- 2 oz. sweet and sour mix

2. Strawberry daiquiri:
- Strawberry Jell-o
- 1 cup water
- 6 oz. white rum
- 2 oz. sweet and sour mix

3. Lemon drop shot:
- lemon Jell-o
- 1 cup of water
- 6 oz. vodka
- 2 oz. triple sec
- 1-2 cube sugars

Peach Jell-o is sickeningly sweet - a simple basic vodka will go with it. I tried being creative and mixed it with Orient Apple Absolut - it was more disgusting than the others. Maybe my next visit to the Grocer will allow me to find other flavours to play with.

Hope you enjoy making and tasting it like I did. /hic

More experiments with jellies and all sorts of fruits to come. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Magners in TDH, TTDI


This is a terribly taken picture of a glass of Magners cider taken from TDH TTDI's bar top yesterday evening (Sunday).

The point of this was just to inform you that for some reason, Blackthorn cider, which TDH was infamous for, has been replaced with Magners.

Slightly curious but no complains though. Magners, actually goes down easier than Blackthorn and doesn't leave that strong metallic tangy aftertaste like its predecessor does.

Personally not a fan of cider to begin with. After one drink and it hits my knees. I actually feel it softening my bones and cartilage, eventhough it's just in my mind. And there's this tingling sensation that runs through my arms too. So cider is something I really rather stay away from, or drink very sparingly.

Cider's crispiness is still good for a hot summer heaty day though. With loads of ice.

On a wet, cold Sunday evening however, I would recommend a good book, in a shaded al fresco pub, by a clean river (say, a Singapore one), with a glass of single malt of whisky that never stops topping up until you're done. But that's just me. YMMV.

Friday, December 7, 2012

All I Want for Christmas

I don't celebrate Christmas, but I celebrate getting presents ANYTIME of the year - Christmas time included. So, without further ado:

1. Ice Shooter Mould
Product Source: Fred & Friends

More novelty than functional because you'll spend hours freezing this up only to have it melt in your hands after a few minutes probably. But how frggin' cool is it to be drinking shots from a shooter glass made out of ice? FIFTY shades of cool! 

And you know what else I can do with this? JELLY SHOTGLASSES that's what. Now tell me your mind isn't already blown. Mine is.


2. Ice Ball Mould

Basically an ice mould that allows you to make perfectly round ice balls like above. Why ice balls? Because it's so big and dense, it melts slower than your average ice cubes, hence taking a longer time to dilute your precious Single Malt Whisky shot. And really, don't they look much prettier too? So big and round and cute!

And I came across this machine that actually makes perfectly rounded crystal-like looking ice balls.. but I'm afraid to inquire about how much it costs... click on the link below and check out the video on how the machine forms a perfectly round ice ball in a matter of SECONDS, like MAGIC!

Available from: Japantrendshop.com

Maybe I'll be able to find something from Daiso. I mean, that place has everything from handheld milk frothers to cat repellents.


3. The Whisky Advent Calendar

Image Source: Uncrate 

I've never been a fan of getting useless trinkets which you'll throw away eventually or stuff away in some forgotten dark dusty corner or bits of shitty chocolates which are usually not edible and made probably made in china out of mercury.... but this beauty changed my mind on advent calendars forever!

Behind each 24 mini doors lies a mini indiviually waxed and labelled 30ml bottle of .... WHISKY. And there's freaking 24 bottles of 30ml whisky to try! And one of these bottles contains a surprise 50 year old whisky sample!

I have to have this. Just to keep it. I probably won't even have to heart to open it up. I just have to have it. I just have to. Please get it for me because I'm too cheap to afford 149.95 pounds (RM735). Available at Master of Malt


I'm sure I'll be able to think of more. But let's stop at 3 for now. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Look At All the SMWs I can't Afford


Had the privilege to try all these beauties at an impromptu, casual, whisky tasting session among very good friends.

From the left:

Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Gran Reserva
Glenfiddich 19 Year Old Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask
Glenfiddich 19 Year Old Age of Discovery Madeira Cask
Glenmorangie Signet
Glengoyne 24 Year Old Single Cask


All 3 Glenfiddich had a lovely, sweet aroma, and it goes down smooth and sweet too. Definitely more flavourful and character than the original Core Collection (the 12,15,18...) which were just plain and oakey. 21 is of course, the strongest smelling and tasting one being 2 years older than its two other younger siblings. Call me a cougar but my penchant was towards its younger brothers. :) It's milder and more fragrant on my very delicate nose & palate.

The Glengoyne was exceptionally fragrant, except because it was much older, the spirit from the whisky felt like it could burn off your nose hair, no joke. It was like sniffing perfume, almost impossible to drink it neat because it was so damn strong. Having a go at it while it's neat is too much for me but it tastes slightly different with ice. Actually it IS great with a piece of ice, and the whisky turns cloudy with it (don't panic, it's normal).

Signet was really odd one. It has a hint of coffee smell and it has a very bitter, coffee aftertaste. It did not go down easy for me. But  it's great if you're a coffee lover/addict - not for me. But it does have a lovely, sturdy, casing which makes it look really atas though.

Sigh, how am I ever to go back to those affordable ones I have no idea. Perhaps I'll stick to water.