Nashville is said to be a drinking city with a music problem. The fact that you can enjoy a glass of Tennessee whiskey while listening to a band playing the song Tennessee whiskey anywhere on Music Row seems to reinforce that. From speakeasy style cocktail bars to good ol’ honky tonks, Nashville seems to have a little something for every kind of drinker. All offered with a hearty welcome, plate of hot chicken, and genuine Southern hospitality.
I have been to Nashville a few times before, usually associated with work, and typically with a schedule so booked it left little time for me to explore. So when I found out I was going to be there for a week for the 2018 Craft Brewer’s Conference, I made sure to block out some time to explore. What I found was that there were lots of reasons to raise a glass in Nashville. Here are some of my must visits!
1: The Booming Beer Scene!
This is the 35th year of the Craft Brewer’s Conference and its arrival in Nashville means the beer scene here is bursting at the seams with potential. About a year ago there was a change to the alcohol laws, raising the level of alcohol in beers allowed from 6.2% to 10.1%. That meant that breweries were able to craft higher gravity beers highly sought after by their drinkers, and that restaurants and bottle shops would be allowed to sell those items. Breweries from within Tennessee and outside of it flooded into the market. Tennessee now boasts 66 craft breweries, up from 24 in 2011, and 19 of those craft breweries reside in Nashville! With the Craft Brewer’s Conference and the World Beer Cup being held in Nashville, literally thousands of brewer’s from around the globe flocked to the Music City.
As I said, there are about 19 breweries within the city limits of Nashville. Sadly I hadn’t time, nor the liver functions, to visit them all. The ones that I did get to visit each had some truly interesting brews pouring from their taps.
Tailgate Brewery - Tailgate started in 2014, and has grown by leaps and bounds since. They now boast a 50 barrel brewing system and at least 30 of their own house brews on draft at their 2 tap room locations. They have a “beer first” philosophy, meaning that no matter how crazy the ingredients they play around with (sourced locally whenever possible), that they always want the beer to shine most.
I have been to Tailgate twice now, and each time I have tried something I have never had before. Their Music Row location is an ideal starting spot for a pint or two. This past time, my three favorite brews were the Guava Wheat, Sake Kolsch, and the Negroni IPA.
Yazoo Brewing - Yazoo opened their doors in 2003. They quickly out grew their first facility and opened a new spot in 2011. Now sitting in the trendy area known as the Gulch, they brew a variety of beers including a pre-prohibition tribute to Nashville's original brewery Gerst, as well as an award winning Hefeweizen. In 2012 they added their Embrace the Funk line of sour and wild fermented ales.
I got a flight of six beers on my last visit, trying their Mexican styled beer Dos Perros, the Pale ale, the dark and smoky Sue, and three selections from their Embrace the Funk line. Hands down the favorite was the Trio from the Embrace the Funk line. It's brewed as a Tennessee tribute and triple threat. Tennessee brewery making a raspberry beer aged in Tennessee wine barrels that previously held Tennessee whiskey. Seriously you can not get more Tennessee than that.
2: Amazing Cocktail Bars:
Nashville's cocktail scene is constantly evolving and luckily for us, it just keeps getting better and better. The mix of artfully designed spaces, soft spoken speak easy hideouts, and seriously unique takes on classics brings a variety of options to the bar. Sometimes you can find all on the same street too, which makes for a memorable bar crawl. Since I was there for the Craft Brewer's Conference, my last visit was devoted mainly to beer, but I managed to persuade my group to a couple of select spots I just couldn't pass up.
The Patterson House- Hidden behind an unassuming faded door off DIvision street, with the name of the establishment written in small gold letters, rests the Patterson House. When it opened its doors in 2009, it brought bar concepts that the likes of Nashville had never seen. Homemade syrups, fresh juices, eight different representations of twice filtered ice, all in a pre-prohibition atmosphere with a set of house rules that set the stage for a uniquely quiet and welcoming drinking experience.
The bar of the Patterson House is tucked behind a velvet green curtain, which a delightful hostess will direct you through after she has set your places. One of the rules at The Patteson House is that you must be seated to get a drink, which means there is no standing room and never anyone leaning over your shoulder to order a drink. You silence your cell phone as you enter, because talking on the cell phone isn't allowed and the atmosphere just encourages you to disconnect for a moment.
When you order a drink, once you decide from their extensive menu that offers selections divided by main spirit then by how adventurous your palate is, remember to be patient. It's one of the rules and the manner in which the Patterson House bartenders go about their craft should be admired. Handcrafting each drink perfectly from parts to shake to pour is clearly their sole focus.
I could have stayed at this bar all night, and in fact we went back twice. Not only were our drinks beyond delicious and the bar snacks a wonderful compliment, but the bartenders are a joy to chat with. You can feel their passion for what they do just pouring out of them and I don't often meet people who get as excited about a new strange spirit or fresh ingredient as I do. As for drinks I enjoyed the Naked and Famous (Mezcal, Aperol, Lemon, and Yellow Chartreuse) and the As it Stands (Mezcal, Carpano Antica, Passionfruit liqueur, Campari, and Absinthe). My step dad fell in love with a drink called the Ruby Revolver (Rye whiskey, Lemon, Cynar, White Creme de Cacao, Grapefruit liqueur, and Angostura bitters) which I have successfully been able to recreate at home for him.
Just do yourself a favor and make this a must visit. Even if there is a line this place is so worth the wait. I plan to go back every time I'm in Nashville.
3: Fabulous food scene:
Nashville has as much to offer on the food scene as it does the entertainment scene. Seriously there are a plethora of restaurants offering the iconic Nashville Hot Chicken, tacos, barbecue, ramen, and everything in between. Finding those local hidden gems that dish up something unique to the area are one of my favorite memories of anywhere I travel. Right up there with shopping the local bottle shops.
Speaking of hot chicken, it is a Nashville specialty and something that is on nearly every menu in the city. Some places are dedicated hot chicken shacks, serving fried chicken drenched in hot sauce and spice with white bread and pickles by the basketful. Others have reimagined it as sliders, skewers, salads or anything else. I think I even saw hot chicken sushi, which I will 100% admit was just a bit too odd of.a fusion for me. You can't leave the city without trying at least a bit of hot chicken, even mild.
*Note: There are some hot chicken shacks which take no mercy on newcomers. They delight in tormenting those who ask for mild by giving them atomic hot. You've been warned.
Milk and Honey- The land of Milk & Honey is paved with craft coffee, handmade gelato, and fresh fruit popsicles. Milk & Honey, which originated in Chatanooga, opened a second location off 11th street in Nashville and expanded upon their coffee and desserts menu to include a variety of made in house breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.
We dined here for both breakffast and dinner. For breakfast, they start out bringing a fresh cinnamon roll made from brioche to the table. I wish I had the opportunity to snap a picture, but with our hungry crowd the delicious bun didn't stand a chance. I did however get the opportunity to snap a photo of the Queen Bee cocktail (lemon, creme de violette, vodka, St Germain, simple syrup, and bee pollen) before I finished it off.
Breakfast here was fantastic, so much so that I got dinner to-go on the last night I was there. The in house made pasta was fantastic, if a touch al-dente. I must admit that I did not try their gelato. I'm a bit of a gelato perfectionist and therefore very picky, but it looked fantastic. I'm sure it was delicious.
Bar Taco- Yes, Bar Taco is a chain with multiple locations across the country. However, a good friend of mine runs the one in Nashville so it was a must visit for me regardless and if you've a hankering for street tacos, then you really can't miss a visit.
Bar Taco is inspired by the beach cultures of Brazil, Uruguay, and Southern Califorina. With a wayfairer flair, this restaurant boasts a very laid back atmosphere with a focus on fresh ingredients with minimal fuss. White washed walls accented by woven basket lighting and plenty of beach inspired decor provide a perfect backdrop for one of their signature cocktails and a trio of tacos delivered on a silver lunch tray. Their signature beverage list includes fresh juices, bottled or canned beers, and an excellent selection of craft cocktails. The margarita is one of my favorites.
The street tacos are all unique combinations, including some veggie options and small enough that three makes a meal which allows you to diversify your plate and try a little of anything. There. are also a selection of different sides to accompany your tacos. Do not miss an opportunity to have the grilled corn. Seriously street corn grilled, topped with cotija cheese, lime, and a red pepper spice blend is one of the most delicious things you will have there.
If you though delisious stopped at the tacos, be sure to save room for dessert. The churros, fried strips of dough covered in cinnamon sugar, are served up with a warm cup of mexican dipping chocolate with a sprinkling of salt. *drool*
You will probably be in need of a siesta after the delicious meal but you will definitely remember it. I'm more than happy to have more than one reason to keep going back to Bar Taco every time I'm in Nashville.
Hattie B's - Hattie B's is Nashville establishment dishing up that most infamous Nashville cuisine: Hot Chicken. Founded in 2012 by a father and son team, Hattie B's now has 5 locations each dishing up different levels of hot chicken. At Hattie B's , they serve up Southern ( no heat), Mild (little heat), Medium (warming up), Hot (feel the heat), Damn Hot!! (fire starter) and Shut the Cluck up!!! (burn notice). Apparently the spicy ingredient in the Shut the cluck up is ghost peppers, which are essentially designed to melt your face off (my opinion not fact). I will whole heartedly admit I am a complete chicken and wimp when it comes to spice. Mild was as far as I was willing to dip my toe in that pool. Some of my group were brave enough to try the Shut the Cluck up and wound up red-faced with sweat on their brow proclaiming, "I can't feel my face."
Each heaping basket of chicken is served on white toast with a pickle, as is traditional for hot chicken, and comes with a side and slaw. The sides are a line up of southern favorites including a fan favorite of Pimento Mac and Cheese and Southern Style greens. To quell the heat they offer a selection of beers, local and domestic, as well as sweet tea, free squeezed lemonade and sodas.
Expect a line and a few minutes wait heading in the door. This place seems to be non stop busy from the moment the doors open to after they close, but its one of those places that is well worth the wait. Also they don't trick you with the heat levels like some other hot chicken shacks (disclaimer above) so you are in safe hands here.
Nashville has plenty to offer those devoted to the music scene, but equally as much to offer the foodie and craft beverage seeker. From antique shops to the multitude of music halls down Music Row, you're sure to be drawn in to the rhythm of this city. The friendly folk, fabulous food, and delectable drinks will have you falling in love and ready to plan your next trip. So be sure to add Nashville to your must see cities.
What is Cinco de Mayo about? Well what is it supposed to be about really, besides a great excuse to break out that tequila you hid in the back of the liquor cabinet from the last time things went all ...
Let's be honest, stateside Cinco de Mayo has morphed into another great excuse to celebrate with a cool beverage. As if Monday to Wednesday wasn't enough of a reason. Most people don't even know what Cinco de mayo is in celebration of. Seriously, I just asked my mom (my amiga in crime) what she knew or wanted to know about Cinco de Mayo. She replied that she knew Cinco de Mayo was the celebration of Mexican Independence. *facepalm*
My madre is a perfect example of what most people think Cinco is about. The celebration of Mexican Independence with frozen margaritas and cheap tequila shots with a salt and lime kicker. We are so mistaken.
So what are the facts? May 5th is not the day of Mexican Independence. That is on September 16th. Cinco De Mayo is the celebration of the Battle of Puebla. On May 5th, 1862, the Mexican army defeated the French Empire in a hard fought victory. Though the French overran the Mexican forces in following battles, this victory was a significant morale boost for the Mexican forces who defeated the better equipped and larger French forces.
In regional areas of Mexico, primarily Puebla, this day is celebrated with ceremonial parades, fiestas, and
re-enactment held yearly near the Mexico City International Airport.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture. Often celebrated with parades, fiestas, Mexican food and drink, and usually many a sombrero and poncho decked out amigo. Cinco de Mayo in the States is more than just an excuse to crack open a couple of Pacificos over a plate of nachos. Or worse, the dreaded tequila shots with a salt start and a lime wedge back.
So how can you up your Cinco game this year? By mixing up some authentically Mexican cocktails! We've put together a list of 7 Cinco worthy cocktails to bring the fest to your fiesta!
The Paloma is easily one of Mexico's most favorite and. the States more under represented of the south of the border cocktails. This grapefruit and tequila concoction has been dwarfed in the states by the margarita, but definitely deserves center stage on your bar.
Crafted from a blend of lime, grapefruit soda, salt and tequila, this cocktail has the citrus and salt kick to wake up the palate and pair beautifully with Mexican cuisine or just a hot day. It's my go to for the summer, especially the beach.
To make the Paloma, you will need:
2 oz Tequila Blanco
1/2oz Lime Juice
Pinch of salt
Take the highball glass and fill with ice. Sprinkle the salt right in. That's right. Just add the salt directly into the drink. No silly rims here. Pour in the 2 oz of tequila. My preferred is Espolon Tequila. Freshly squeeze 1/2 oz of lime juice. Makes all the difference. Pop the top on the grapefruit soda and pour to the rim. Go with Jarritos brand if you can find it. If not, I've tried Q Drinks Grapefruit and absolutely loved it. Give the whole thing a quick stir and enjoy. Tell me thats not delicious!
Think of the Michelada as a Mexican Bloody Mary. It's made of the same basic parts, with customizations unique to each bartender, and is best enjoyed the morning after a rough night. A little pelo de perro for the morning after your Cinco.
For the basic outline to a Michelada, you need:
4oz tomato or clamato juice, chilled
1 bottle chilled Mexican lager
1 tbsp of lime juice
1/4 tsp of Worcestershire
1/8 tsp of hot sauce (more if you want spicy)
1/8 tsp of Maggi Seasoning
3/4 tsp salt
Sprinkle of chili powder
Highball glass or shaker pint glass
Over ice, pour in the tomato juice (I hate Clamato juice), lime juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and Maggi seasoning. If you are making a big batch (you know for that 6th of May brunch) mix the above ingredients in a pitcher sans ice and put in the fridge.
No one really knows who invented the margarita. Seriously its a mystery. However, there are plenty of stories alluding to the origin, all of which revolve around various ladies with the name Margarita or a variation of it.
However, there is no denying the Margarita's popularity. It often has a place as one of the most ordered drinks in the US, and from frozen to on the rocks offers endless flavor combinations. At the base level, a margarita is defined as a cocktail made with tequila and fruit juice, usually citrus but with the wide variety of flavors possible it could be any fruit juice.
The recipe below is for a traditional lime and tequila, on-the-rocks margarita. Salt rim is totally optional.
2 oz blano tequila
1 ½ oz lime juice
½ oz tripe sec
½ oz agave syrup
Take a rocks glass and run the lime wheel along the edge of the rim. Sprinkle some salt in a shallow dish and press the rim of the glass into the salt. Set the glass upright and to the side. Fill a shaker with ice and combine the tequila, lime juice, triple sec, and agave syrup. Pour in the shaken cocktail with ice from the shaker. Garnish with the lime wheel.
Hope these cocktails help you to celebrate! Happy Cinco de Mayo! Cheers!
Spring is finally here! Apparently everyone is ready for it but the weather, which seems determined to keep us just cold enough to keep shivering. Hoping for the “if you build it they will come” result, I’m putting my top ten list of libations I can’t wait to drink while enjoying those first warm spring days.
The first truly spring like day, my mind will be entirely on getting outside to sit at my bistro table in the garden. I will rely entirely on a no fuss porch pounder like a beautiful bottle of rosé wine. Happily, rosé has been on the rise in the states, gaining popularity on menu’s and shelf space in many a retailer. Rosé is made by allowing the just pressed juices from red grapes to sit momentarily with the skins to impart a slight rosy hue to the wine. They are an excellent food wine as well, pairing nicely with barbecue, Asian dishes, and bold flavors like garlic. My personal choices to start off the season would be Commanderie de Peyrassol, Sachs Lichine, Calcu, and my favorite “porch pounder” Whispering Angel.
2: Orange Wine
Orange wine was a happy discovery recently. I had a bottle of white I bought in Italy this past November that when I opened it, I discovered was a brilliant shade of amber. I had never tasted an Orange wine, not actually made from oranges, and was completely blown away. Orange wines are made in the style of a red wine. The juice from the white grapes marinates with the skins of the grapes, imparting a light orange to dark amber color to the wine. It also allows for a complexity of flavor and tannins that can allow the Orange wine to stand up to an assortment of meats including roasted, normally a pairing reserved for red wines. I haven’t yet found a favorite, but I highly recommend going into your local wine shop, asking for an orange wine, and taking home whatever you may find.
3: Mint Julep
The Mint Julep is a southern classic, usually associated with the Kentucky Derby. However this easy thirst quencher is excellent even when you are not watching the ponies race around the track. Since bourbon is the major flavor here, make sure you are using a high quality favorite.
8 mint leaves
1/4 oz simple syrup
In a silver Julep cup or a highball glass, muddle the mint and the simple syrup. Pack the cup with crushed ice, pour in the bourbon, and stir . Top off the glass with enough crushed ice to create a dome and add a dash of bitters if you feel so inclined. Garnish with a sprig of mint and get ready to go to the races!
4: Carrot Mimosa
Many cocktail menus have been entertaining the more vegetal side of ingredients and I am thrilled by the onslaught of not so sweet, herbaceous, and feel good that these combinations have been bringing to the glass. About time veggies made it to something more fun then a juice cleanse. What could possibly be more suited for your Easte brunch then having some Carrot Mimosas?! The Easter bunny would be so proud! Now I can have my veggies and drink them too!
1 part carrot Juice
1 part Prosecco
Mix both ingredients into a champagne flute or coupe and garnish with a baby carrot!
Nothing welcomes warm weather quite like a Mojito. Seriously this Cuban cocktail is crafted with just five ingredients and served up with a warm breeze. It is a bit more labor intensive then I had initially planned for this post, but there really is nothing quite as satisfying as sipping a cool mojito on a warm day.
6 mint leaves
3/4 oz simple syrup
3/4oz lime juice
1 1/2 oz white rum
1 1/2 oz club soda
In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the mint. Add ice, simple syrup, lime juice, and white rum. Shake well and pour the entire contents into a highball glass. Don’t strain it, you are going to want the mint. Top off with the club soda and lean into the warm weather.
This classic cocktail was crafted pre Prohibition and sadly forgotten during the Noble Experiment. Luckily, its making a comeback and justly so! The beautiful florals and brigh lemons make for a refreshing wake up call to your taste buds. The fact that the delicate indigo color with a bright red cherry at the bottom of the glass resembles a flower doesn’t hurt the spring revival either.
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqeuer
1/4 oz Creme de violette
3/4 oz lemon juice
In a shaker with ice, combine the gin, maraschino liqeuer, Creme de Violette, and lemon juice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with a maraschino cherry in the bottom of the glass. Cheers to spring and those who are bringing this delicious cocktail back!
7: La Paloma
Though the margarita may be better known, in part to the frozen cocktail craze and ready made cocktail pouches, the Paloma is truly Mexico’s favored cocktail. To really enjoy an authentic Paloma, you need to have grapefruit soda. In a pinch grapefruit juice and club soda will work, but nothing compares to the sweet, tart, bitter and bubbly combo of the grapefuit soda. This recipe calls for a pinch of salt, as well. While some people will want to rim the glass with salt, my vote is to just toss it into the mix. Trust us. World of difference.
1/2 oz lime juice
pinch of salt
Combine the tequila, lime juice, and salt in a highball glass with ice. Give a stir and pour in the grapefruit soda. Primavera is here and we haven’t a care!
8: Aperol Spritz
I recently took a trip to Italy and got to visit the city of Venice. One of the things we booked was a walking food tour with Venice Bites Food Tours. First of all, the tour was fantastic and an absolute must if you ever visit Venice, but you can read more about that in my Italy post. The final stop on our tour, we learned about Aperol Spritz cocktails and Venice’s own special brand of Aperol called Aperol Selectivo. It’s somewhere in between Campari and Aperol, beautifully straddling the line of bitter and sweet and actually changing with the drinkers palate. Since it is near impossible to find outside of Venice, you will have to decide between Campari, a touch more bitter, or Aperol, slightly sweeter. Either way the cocktail was bitter, bright, and bubbly with just enough sweet to off set the bitter. I could not have asked for a better after dinner beverage. One of the key aspects to getting this cocktail correct is ensuring that it is made using prosecco. Some will try and cheap out by serving it with club soda, but be sure to ask for it with prosecco. Total difference.
4 1/2 oz prosecco
2 1/2 oz Aperol
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the Aperol and fill with prosecco. Garnish with an orange wedge! Saluti!
9: Limoncello Sangria
Limoncello is known for that palate cleansing pop and is often enjoyed as an after dinner digestif. I enjoy using it in this light sangria as a way to refresh and awaken your palate. Also sangria is one of those make and forget it kind of things that just gets better the longer it mellows. A pitcher of sangria is an excellent way to maximize your time in the sun and with company! So whip up a pitcher and head outside!
1/2 cup limoncello
1 cup lemonade or pink lemonade
1 750 ml bottle of sparkling wine ( I used Prosecco since the bubbles are big and lively)
Fresh berries (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, black berry or all four!)
Muddle the berries and mint for a quick minute in a pitcher. Add the limoncello, lemonade, and sparkling wine. Give a stir and pour into glasses with ice. Garnish with a fresh berry and a lemon wheel. Enjoy with your friends till the pitcher runs out!
10: Lillet Rosé Spritz
Full disclaimer, I adore Lillet! I usually keep a bottle of Lillet Blanc in my bar at all times. It makes for amazing cocktails and is wonderful just poured over crushed ice. This year I discovered Lillet is making a Lillet Rosé. Be still my beating heart! Not one but two of my favorite spring time beverages in one?! Of course I immediately went out and bought a bottle (or two). This stuff is absolutely delicious on its own, and would be completely set off by an excellent but easy cocktail like a spritz, which can be assembled in a pitcher, stirred, and enjoyed at your lesiure.
Full pitcher of Lillet Rosé Sprits
1 750 ml bottle of Lillet Rosé
1.5 c Pomegranate Juice or Strawberry Lemonade
1 750 bottle of Prosecco, Chilled
Pour all into a pitcher, stir, and enjoy in a champagne coupe! Feel free to garnish with fruit or edible flowers for some whimsy.
I’m sure you are a bit parched after that delicious list! I know I am. Soon as a warm day comes, it will be quite the decision on what to make first. Either way I’m sure there’s something on here to fit the bill and the tastes of anyone out there. Be sure to share your first Spring concoctions! Cheers ya’ll!
A lot of you would probably look at this blog and think St Patrick’s day is one of my favorite holidays. Truth be told, I am not a fan of drunken antics, leprechaun costumes, or the hordes of “Irish for a day” drinkers guzzling pints of green beers. Perhaps it was one too many St. Patrick’s spent working as a waitress trying to scrub the green dye from my hands after seeing one too many over enthusiastic celebrators up-chuck their soda bread.
With yet another St. Patrick’s around the corner, I thought I might bring to light what the holiday originated as and ways to celebrate that you might actually remember the next day. Also a few other options to imbibe that are more Irish than green dyed beers, and far more delicious.
St. Patrick’s day, or the Feast of St. Patrick, began in celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick who died March 17th, 461. It was made an official celebration in the 17th century to commemorate the arrival of Saint Patrick and Christianity to Ireland, as well as the heritage and culture of the Irish. On this day, the Lenten fast was suspended and people were allowed to indulge in feasts and imbibe alcohol. As the Irish people migrated around the globe, they brought the celebration of St. Patrick’s day with them. Today it is celebrated around the world in various fashions, but always with parades, shamrocks, and the wearing green. St. Patrick utilized the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the Irish, and thus became an iconic image associated with the saint. The method of celebrating through drinking likely developed due to the suspension of the Lenten fast for the day. The holiday is still celebrated as a national and religious holiday in Ireland, but in many other parts of the world it is a celebration of Irish culture and heritage, and to some a day of drinking.
My mother is very proud of our Irish heritage. My ancestors on her side came over ages ago and we have visited Ireland twice, once while I was studying abroad there. There are certain things that she is so particular about for her St. Patricks day that she will riot if they don’t meet her standards. I’ve seen it happen ( we called it the red basket incident and that pub manager will never be the same.) One of those things is her Irish breakfast. By far my favorite way to celebrate prior to and after St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish breakfast is the perfect base to a day of pints or cure to a night of too many pints. It consists of bacon, sausages, black and white pudding, beans, fried egg, potatoes in creamy butter, Irish soda bread or scones with marmalade, and a steaming cup of Barry’s tea. Yes, we really eat all of that. Ever since the Red Basket incident, my mother and I spend time and energy either tracking down the best (most accurate) Irish breakfast in town, or more favorably, ordering the proper ingredients online and making our own. FoodIreland.com is a most excellent source and the things not in the breakfast pack, I make from scratch. The perfect Irish breakfast pairs nicely with a pint of dry Irish stout.
After an enormously huge breakfast, many hit the pubs (those that don’t attend a parade or church) and begin a day of drinking. Unfortunately it may involve those brilliantly green pints. Many question (or should question) the arrival of green beer to the St. Patrick’s day scene and all I can say about it is that it is a gross commercialization. Anything green sells on St. Patrick’s Day here in the States. Dyeing beer green allows for bars to sell lighter domestic brews by the truck load. The best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s day is with a perfect pour pint of Guinness. Many other beers try and edge in on Guinness’s domination of St. Patricks day but to my honest opinion, no one can touch them on March 17th. Now people will argue that they can’t drink a lot of Guinness because it is too filling, or too many calories, or higher gravity than a domestic, but all of these are false. Guinness holds a special place in my heart as it was my first beer ever (had at St. James Gate in Dublin) and that I later had the opportunity to work for them. Guinness is not a filling beer, actually only about 125 calories, and boasts an alcohol of 4.2% ABV. It comes across as a filling beer as it is a Nitro pour which means smaller bubbles than other beers and thus the illusion of thickness. Dark beer does not always mean heavy or high gravity. The color comes from the roast of the grain.
A perfect pour of Guinness is essential to enjoying the draught. This consists of pouring Guinness from the draught in just the right way to ensure the best taste possible. The bartender should hold the glass at a forty five degree angle, nozzle close to the glass but not touching. They should pour while slowly righting the pint until it is just shy of the harp. Then let it rest. A proper Guinness is worth waiting for and this is the number one mistake that newbies make. It takes just shy of two minutes to let the Guinness settle out and then the bartender will top it off. This creates that beautifully ivory cap. Always have your Guinness "Proud of the brim" which means it should almost look like it will spill over the top but it won't. Now you can have a sip.
Other than my pint of Guinness, I have also been known to nurse a bit of Irish whiskey on the day. Either way ther are many other options to the dreaded green beer or (and I really despise these) the beer bomb drink where you drop a shot of baileys into a half filled pint of Guinness and chug it. So for those who would rather a cocktail versus a beer or whiskey, I have included a couple of favorites for the festivities.
* Please note for these cocktails: I use the Guinness Extra Stout or Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. The Guinness draught with the Nitro pour tends to react funny with some of the ingredients used, so for cocktails I don't use it. I do highly encourage having a pint on St. Pats though!
For those who feel classy in their emerald finery: BLACK VELVET
1 part Guinness (1 1/2 oz)
1 part chilled sparkling wine (1 1/2oz)
Pour both into a champagne flute and enjoy! Slainte to your classy side!
For those who take beer with their breakfast: THE BLOODY PATRICK
3oz Bloody Mary mix
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1oz Lime Juice
1/8tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp horseradish
1 oz vodka
3 oz Guinness
Stir all but the Guinness in a tumbler with ice, making sure the spices and horseradish mix in well. Top with the 3 oz of Guinness. Garnish with green olive, pickle, and a salt and vinegar potato chip.
For those who want the sweeter things in life: DEAD MAN’s FLOAT
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 oz Irish Whiskey or Irish cream
3 oz Guinness
Sprinkles cause why not
Grab a brandy snifter or other large bowl glass. Put the scoop of Ice cream in first, then top with the 3 oz of Guinness and the 1 oz of Irish Whiskey. Add sprinkles cause you can damnit.
For those who need a bit more in the tank before living it up: IRISH COFFEE
3 oz hot coffee
1 oz Irish Whiskey
1 tsp sugar
1 oz fresh cream, whipped cream, or better yet, Baileys infused cream
Put the sugar in the bottom of a mug. Pour in the hot coffee and Irish Whiskey and stir to dissolve the sugar. Top with the fresh cream and enjoy as you wake up.
For those feeling under the weather: WARM WHISKEY
This St. Pats, my mother, like many others, is struggling with allergies. One or two of these and she forgets she has a stuffy nose.
3oz hot tea or cider
1 oz Irish Whiskey
1 1/2 tsp honey
Lemon Wedge studded with cloves
Put the honey in the mug and top with the hot tea or cider and the Irish Whiskey. Stir well to dissolve the honey. Add in the lemon wedge with cloves and use the spoon to smush the lemon wedge against the side of the mug. Drink up to cure all that ails you.
Finally to my favorite and usually final thought on St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish Toast!
In all this world, why do I drink?
There are five reasons why to drink
Lest we be dry
And any other reason why
Here’s to a long life and a merry one
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty girl and an honest one
A cold pint and another one
May you have all the happiness
And luck life can hold
May all your rainbows
End in a pot of gold!
My friends are the best friends
Loyal, willing, and able
Now lets get to drinking
All the glasses off the table!
Cheers to all your celebrating on St. Patricks day! Be safe, be fun, and be green. Just don’t drink green!
They say you can't judge a book by its cover. While that is true for books, you can gain a lot of insight by checking out what's stocked in the bar. As Drinkology, by James Waller (a personal favorite) states if "the liquor cabinet contains only an unopened bottle of grenadine and a liter of cheap vodka with three fingers worth of hooch left at the bottom- is that a friendship you really want to pursue?"
Now I do have friends who don't drink, or have absolutely pitiful bars (which is why I never come empty handed to their house) but when they come to my house, I want to wow them with an array of options. However, with all the options out there, what exactly do you need to have in your home bar? Surely you don't need four different bottles of whiskey, an entire fruit bowl of condiments, or every specialty glass out there right?
The good news is no. Even the bar around the corner doesn't have everything possible. So to help you navigate the plethora of glassware, bar tools, and beverages, we have put together The Basic Bar Checklist! These will be all the essential items to have your bar ready for most of your beverage desires!
Cocktails go in and out of favor, and likewise with the specialty glassware they can be served in. With that in mind, we have listed out the bar essentials of glassware with notes about serving suggestions.
Beer glasses: Be it beer mug, pilsner glasses, or pint glasses, every bar needs a few beer glasses. Typically you want to look for 12-16oz glassware. Now I personally despise the shaker pint glasses that most bars serve beer in. They are great for stacking but do nothing to help enhance the aroma of the beer. On a secondary note, I never put beer glasses in the freezer. Frozen beer glasses are used in bars around the country to hide defects in beer including old beer.
Champagne flute/coupe: Champagne flutes allow for the musing of the champagne (bubbles) to keep for longer. That is about the only merit to the champagne flute. I personally prefer to use champagne coupe or saucers (a la Great Gatsby or flapper era). They open more of the aroma to my palate and can also be utilized as a cocktail glass. Versatility make them that more appealing.
Martini glass: Not just a sophisticated accessory for James Bond, the martini glass is essential to every bar for mixed drinks. From appletini to vesper, the martini glass's conical shape can hold it all.
Rocks glasses: Not only for bourbon on the rocks, these glasses are versatile for margaritas, old fashioned, and punches.
Tumblers: This tall glass, ideally suited to be brought out with a tray of summertime sippers, works well with any tall iced down cocktail.
Wine glasses: I can't honestly imagine a bar without wine glasses. There are both red and white wine glasses the first being larger and usually more open at the mouth. That being said, you can totally get away with having one type of wine glass. I would go with red wine glasses as they lend to more versatility.
The bonus glassware are options that you may choose to add based on your drinking preferences. For example, if you are an avid margarita drinker, it would probably be a good purchase to have some margarita glasses.
Cordial glasses: I personally love a digestif or aperitif occasionally, so I keep a few in my home bar for those dessert wines and cordials like limoncello.
Shot glasses: I don't have shot glasses in my bar, mostly because I never drink shots. However, if shots are your thing by all means have a few for your fellow shot takers.
Margarita glasses: If margarita Mondays are your thing, or the bevy of frozen beverages you can put in them, then these glasses deserve a spot in your bar.
Snifter: These glasses are specifically designed to capture the aromas of liqueurs like brandy, cognac, bourbon and scotch.
Bar equipment can easily get to super fancy and superfluous things that look wonderful gathering dust on your bar, but you will rarely use. Most of what you need to have in your bar are items easily found in your kitchen, which is also why placing the bar a stone's throw from the kitchen is ideal.
Paring knife and Cutting board: Fairly obvious, but have these on hand for slicing up citrus wedges for cocktails.
Churchkey & Waiters Friend Corkscrew: Not going to get too far without a bottle opener, corkscrew, and can opener. A churchkey is a tool that combines a bottle opener with a can opener. A Waiters Friend is a corkscrew with a leverage kick and a bottle opener.
Measuring tools: The measuring tools you utilize depend entirely on the method you like to make mixed cocktails. Most bartenders utilize a Jigger-pony measure. This is that hourglass shaped vessel where the one cup is larger (1.5 oz.) and one is smaller (1 oz.). However, if this seems a bit much, a set of measuring cups and spoons are just as handy.
Bar towels and napkins: At some point there will be a spill. Having a bar towel handy for mopping up spills and napkins or coasters for your guests, keep your bar tidy and your furniture free of drink rings.
Toothpicks: Something has to hold your condiments together! Regular wooden toothpicks or those delightful little plastic swords are both wonderful to have on hand.
Standard Shaker: A standard shaker is a three-piece tool with a cup, strainer, and lid. These are pretty typical for all the home bars, as it combines the Boston shaker (larger metal cup and glass combo preferred by bartenders) and a strainer in a handy set.
Pitcher with mixing rod: Making a batch of cocktails for your friends can be tiresome mixing one at a time, but having a pitcher and mixing rod allow you to make a larger batch and enjoy more time with your company.
Ice bucket and tongs: If you have a fridge with ice tray or better yet an ice dispenser you really don't need an ice bucket and tongs.
Citrus Squeezer: I love fresh squeezed juice for my cocktails. Honestly it takes them to a whole new level.
Bar spoons: These are long stemmed mixing spoons for stirred cocktails in tall glasses. Could not imagine my summer cocktails without them.
Now let’s get into the fun stuff! Yes my friends its finally time to talk about the booze to have in your bar! What is listed below is merely a guideline to help you create a supply that will satisfy most cocktails. What really needs to be in your bar depends entirely on what you like to drink.
Now note that I have not included any specific brands. Brand choice should be made on preference and means. Don’t feel you need to buy top shelf for things that you don’t enjoy regularly, or enjoy so regularly that you can hardly keep it in stock. We aren’t looking to break the bank here. Also, when there is a good boutique option, I prefer to bring in something from my travels to bring a story to my bar.
The Basic Bar:
Beer: Some theorize that it was beer not bread that brought civilization together at the start of man. So it stands to reason that no bar should be without the glorious suds to bring us together. If you are not a beer drinker then I wouldn't say you need to have more than a six pack on hand for your beer guzzling friends. My household barely makes it through the week with less than a 12 pack. If you aren't sure what type of beer to buy or get headaches with the number of options in the beer aisle, you cannot go wrong with a good import. I always aim for an independent craft option, local if I have out of town friends coming to visit!
Wine: Having a bottle of red or two as well as a couple of bottles of white keep your oenophile friends happy. I am a big fan of old world wines, but if trying to interpret the wide array of grapes and terroir gives you the shakes, settle with a good cabernet, chardonnay, and something bubbly (cause no bar should be without a little sparkle). Always store your wine bottles in a cool dark place (in a cabinet perhaps?) lying on the side so the cork does not dry out. Don't have your whites or your sparkling chilling for more than a couple hours prior to serving.
Bourbon/ American Whiskey: Preferably small batch, this barrel aged spirit deserves a spot on your bar. Whether straight, on the rocks, or mixed into a Manhattan, this amber spirit is a must for your bar!
Triple Sec: This is an orange flavored liquor made from dried orange peels and sweet oranges.
Gin: Most gins get the bulk of their flavor from the juniper berry but this can be a bit polarizing flavor. Luckily there are many American botanical gins that boast a number of different botanical aromas and bodies for your gin and tonics.
Rum: Light, gold, spiced, or dark, your bar needs a decent rum for a bevy of tropical cocktails and the ever-popular rum and Coke.
Blended Scotch: Can't have a Rob Roy or Rusty nail without a good blended scotch on hand.
Tequila: Bianco or Anejo are both excellent options for your margaritas and tequila sunrises.
Vodka: Vodka can be distilled from grains (rye, wheat, corn etc.), potatoes, soybeans, grapes, sugar beets, and even molasses. For the basic bar, I would go with a good plain vodka and avoid getting caught up in the flavored versions.
Vermouth: A dry martini or Manhattan is just not complete without some vermouth. Sweet or dry, your bar needs this fortified wine spirit.
Brandy/Cognac: Brandy and cognac always make me thing of Victorian after dinner parlor, and portly men with snifter and cigar in hand. However, if the is something you adore, by all means have a bottle in your bar!
Single malt scotch: Much like having a small batch bourbon, this is nice addition for the whiskey drinker in your crowd.
Irish Whiskey: My Irish lineage makes this absolutely a must for my home bar. Particularly during the cold/flu season, when a warm whiskey is prescribed.
Liqueurs: Every bar should have a few specialty liqueurs of your choice based on the cocktails you like to make the most. My bar features a bottle of crème de Violette, Lillet Blanc, limoncello, and a cactus pear spirit I was thrilled to find. Here are a few ideas for your bar:
Crème de cacao (white or dark)
Crème de menthe (white or green)
Crème de cassis
Schnapps or fruit brandy
Condiments: You've got the tools, the glasses, and the spirits. Time for the finishing touches! When getting juices, sodas, and the like aim for smaller cans like 12oz or less. They keep longer and you don't have things expiring in your fridge.
Basic Bar Condiments:
Angostura Bitters: Bitters were actually utilized as over the counter medicine for all sorts of ailments back in the day. Angostura bitters are easily one of the most easily found and utilized in a number of cocktails.
Grenadine: You probably remember this rich sweet and tart syrup from having Shirley Temples as a kid. It should be a bar staple for your non-alcoholic and alcoholic desires alike. If processed sugars are worrying you, there are excellent homemade recipes out there as well.
Simple Syrup: Though there are already bottled versions of this at your local store, simple syrup is incredibly easy to make at home. Pour equal parts water and sugar into a saucepan and heat until dissolved. This is also the opportunity to add other ingredients like lemon peel, rosemary, or other herbs. Allow to cool, remove the added ingredients if any, and pour into a closable container.
Kosher salt: What else would you rim a margarita glass with?
Black pepper: Fresh cracked black pepper is essential to a great Bloody Mary. I also enjoy it in a good potato vodka.
Lemons, Limes, & Oranges: For your bar citrus, try and go organic since a number of recipes include a zest or peel.
Maraschino Cherries: A small jar should last you a while.
Green olives: Whether stuffed with garlic, pimento, or blue cheese, these emerald little beauties are a must to finish off your martinis!
Favorite Bloody Mary Mix
Better Condiments: The above list covers just about all the basics, but if you want to be extra prepared, there are a few things you could add, that may already be in your refrigerator.
Tabasco: For those who love to spice it up.
Worcestershire: Adds another dimension to some cocktails, and elevates that Bloody Mary. Seriously just a dash makes all the difference.
Eggs: A number of fantastic cocktails have an egg white involved in the making to create a rich and creamy texture and beautiful foamy cap. There are some who are a bit hesitant to have egg whites in their cocktail. However, with modern grocery and food standards the risk of salmonella is minimal. Regardless, utilize at your own risk.
Specialty bitters: Angostura bitters ran the show for the longest time in the world of bitters. Luckily several specialty bitter makers with an array of different boutique flavors have made a resurgence in the cocktail world. Personal favorite at the moment is lavender bitters, chocolate, and a botanical blend with hibiscus.
Other fresh fruits: Muddled berries, mango, coconut cream, cucumber, pineapple, passionfruit, really whatever your heart desires. Fresh in season fruit add a next level to some cocktails, and are a colorful garnish to boot!
Super fine sugar
Always remember that your home bar is really about what you like to drink and what you want to have for your guests. It should tell a story of your preferences and personality. Utilize this list as a guideline to customize your home bar and don’t be afraid to leave out things you rarely/never would use. Most importantly have fun!
Celebrating all that we raise, sip, guzzle, clink, drinks and most affectionately cheers with!