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Sticky Question

by Brendan G February 6th, 2014| Ask the Bartender
bar shelvesAt a bar recently, I watched the following scene unfold.  The patron to my left asked the bartender for a ginger-tini.  The patron had to explain to the bartender which bottle contained ginger liqueur.  Once found, the bottle, which didn't have a pour spout, was unable to be opened.  The bartender took the bottle out back, returned a few minutes later, and still had not opened it.  With a couple minutes more of struggling, the bottle was opened.  The patron looked at me concernedly and wondered if the drink would be any good.  My question for you, should a
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Early Times Blind Archer

by Jason Lightner February 4th, 2014| Liquor
glass of applesAnd on the tail of one flavored whiskey comes yet another. Well, at least it's flavored, and it has whiskey in it; I'd honestly call what we're about to dive into more of a liqueur than a spirit. But what's in a name, really? It was two degrees below zero this week and that calls for something boozy!

There's always been something about the Early Times brand of whiskies that I've been averse to. Perhaps it's the fact that the only product by this distiller I can get my hands on in this great state of Pennsylvania is a 1.75 mL
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Surfer on Acid

by Brendan G January 24th, 2014| Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
surferJagermeister is one of those liqueurs, much like Tequila, that either you love it or hate it. Black in color , with a very unique flavor, (often described as cough medicine) Jager is a herbal flavored digestif from Germany. Served primarily as a chilled shot, Jager is not known for being used in too many cocktails. Strong in flavor and a little syrupy, it tends to overwhelm almost anything else it comes in contact with. The only thing I've ever seen it paired with on a regular basis is energy drink. Dropping a shot of Jager into a few
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The Gift of Tequila

by Brendan G January 23rd, 2014| Ask the Bartender
tequilasA colleague of mine is having a housewarming party.  Rather than bring a bottle of wine, I thought I would bring a bottle of tequila, as that is her liquor of choice.  My question is two-fold.  One, can I get a decent bottle of tequila for $20.  Two, if not, what would be a recommended price point?  (I probably could get other colleagues to pitch in and make it a group gift.)   

I first would have to make an assumption. I would assume you would want to give a 750 ml. bottle as a gift. Some premium tequilas are
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Jim Beam Red Stag Black Cherry

by Jason Lightner January 21st, 2014| Liquor
black cherries chidseycOn the news that Japanese company Suntory Holdings has put in a bid for a $16 billion takeover of American spirits company Beam Inc., I thought I'd take this opportunity to sample another Jim Beam variety — Jim Beam Red Stag Black Cherry.


The black cherry variety of Jim Beam's Red Stag product is an infused bourbon whiskey, imparted with the natural taste of black cherries which aim to compliment the traditional oaky sweetness of Jim Beam's standard bourbon. The artwork on the label features a pair of red antlers, taking me back to winter hunting trips with
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Toasted Almond

by Brendan G January 17th, 2014| Cocktails, Mixed Drinks
drink 12thPersonally, I've never been a big fan of milky cocktails. Whether it's milk, cream, or half and half, alcohol mixed with dairy products was never attractive to me. Irish cream has always been a staple, and now, the newly popular Rum-Chata is also adding that creamy element to a multitude of cocktails. But it is the popularity of a movie called The Big Lebowski that created a whole cult of White Russian drinkers, who strive to drink the same milky cocktail as did the title character, “The Dude”.

As a bartender in a bar surrounded by a lot
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CîROC Amaretto Vodka

by Jason Lightner January 14th, 2014| Liquor
CirocAfter a blisteringly unsavory week in the City of Brotherly Love, wherein wintery temperatures dipped down to below 0 degrees fahrenheit, and we watched the Schuylkill River freeze over alongside the iconic boathouses of John B. Kelly Drive, we're ready to put some warmth back into our bodies. Let us proceed in a manner fit for the dead of winter — with the pleasant burn of a premium vodka.

I approached CÎROC Amaretto Vodka with skepticism. Call it a habit, but that's just the way it goes with me and flavored vodka. Burnett's, Smirnoff, Absolut, Three Olives, Stolichnaya
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Bloody Mary Brunch

by Brendan G January 9th, 2014| Ask the Bartender
party barWe are hosting a brunch, and I want to provide a Bloody Mary bar for our guests.  Besides providing celery and green olives, what other garnishes would be interesting additions?

The options for an interesting and unique Bloody Mary bar are quite numerous. First with the standard ingredients, there are many choices. Don't limit yourself to just options for the garnishes. Flavored vodkas like citrus, pepper, and bacon are readily available. Also instead of using regular tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix, you can have V-8 or Clamato juices for a change of pace. Offering different type of hot sauces
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Familia Camarena Tequila Reposado

by Jason Lightner January 7th, 2014| Liquor
agave n hillsIt's a new year, and that means new experiences, new flavors, and new endeavors. I hope our readers' holiday celebrations were both fun and rewarding, and that your new year was festive and safe.

We're going to begin 2014 right, with a flavorful tequila six generations strong, with a history dating back 250 years: Familia Camarena Tequila Reposado.

From the Camarena legacy page:

"For six generations, we have taken great care in preserving the invaluable resources of this important region, practicing sustainable farming and taking a long-range approach to growing quality agave. As part of our family's commitment to

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Jim Beam Black

by Jason Lightner December 31st, 2013| Liquor
jim beam pdHaving a storied history with Jim Beam already, I'll admit I was a bit reluctant to even venture near another bottle of Beam's finest. The Clermont, Kentucky-produced spirit hasn't left me with the best of impressions, mind you, and I've never gathered what I'd consider to be a good reason to give it a second chance.

And yet here I was, yet again, peering at a bottle of bourbon — not because I wanted to, but because I had to. Because it was required. The sort of company that I keep encompasses a wide variety of tastes and particular preferences. On
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Penn 1681 Rye Vodka

by Jason Lightner December 24th, 2013| Liquor
ryeAs a fan of traditional craftsmanship and a fan of locally-made products, it's sometimes a challenge for me to accept that the two are not always mutually exclusive.

When it comes to vodka, I like it Polish if possible. It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with vodka produced anywhere else, it's just that vodka was born in Poland and these guys know enough about producing vodka to not screw it up.

Try as I might, I can't think of a single thing that comes from Pennsylvania that I prefer. I was going to say cheesesteaks, but that's more centralized in
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Eggnog

by Brendan G December 20th, 2013| Cocktails
eggnog afThis holiday season I am tasked with making the perfect winter cocktail. Nothing says holidays more than a creamy glass of eggnog. Whether you choose the store-bought pre-made stuff, or prefer to make a homemade version, I have some ideas for you.

Other than the eggnog in a carton recipe, which is simple (buy eggnog, then add booze of choice), there are two recipes that I've used for homemade eggnog. One is a bit more labor intensive than the other, but for a holiday party, the detailed one is probably the way to go. The other is a quick version
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