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    Episode 176 – Smoke and Leaded Crystal

    Now, a couple things bear explaining here. First off, according to a recent PUNCH article by Robert Simonson, the Elmo Cola was invented by bar consultant Tim Kirkland for the St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis. Second, there’s not what I would consider a true “formulation” for this drink because it’s something of a proprietary secret. So take my speculative recipe as a template and feel free to tweak it from there.
    To prepare a batch of this drink, which is kinda the love child of a Rock & Rye and a cherry coke, you’ll want to infuse the bourbon with the vanilla beans for about 3 days to 1 week. You’ll notice we haven’t added the cherries yet, and that’s because they’ll lower the proof of the bourbon, making the vanilla extraction less effective, so be sure to do the beans first. Then do a slightly shorter extract on the cherries. I’d recommend about 48 hours, shaking periodically.
    Apparently, the St. Elmo’s recipe uses both sweet and tart cherries from Michigan, but if that’s a little much for you to source, pick the kind that appeals most to YOUR palate and stick with that variety. Also, if the spirit moves you, you can always add a little bit of cherry juice to brighten, sweeten, and lengthen things.
    Recently, a bottled version of the Elmo Cola base was launched in Indiana, and according to Simonson it’s bottled at 88 proof, which suggests that a fairly high proof Bourbon is used to extract the cherry and vanilla before then being diluted by the cherry juice, so I’d lean toward using a bonded bourbon for this project if at all possible.
    When it comes time to serve your Elmo Cola, all you need to do is pour 2 ounces of the infused bourbon over ice, top with 4-6 oz of your favorite cola, then garnish with a brandied cherry and – if you’re feeling fancy – an expressed orange twist.
    DIY Bar Cart Setups
    This first question comes to us from our listener Robbie via Instagram, who messaged us saying:

    “Hiya, great pod! Wondering if you can get more specific than the Bar Cart Foundations “hardware” episode about where to get a bar cart / sturdy surface under $500. So far I’ve started with an X-shaped keyboard stand with a spray painted piece of plywood on top and am looking for something a bit sturdier, maybe an affordable bar cart with a rustic-style look. Thanks!”

    Well Robbie, I’m really glad you reached out because this is a great reminder that we can always go back and add to our foundations material. It’s been probably about 3 years since that episode launched, and I’ve sure learned a lot in that time, so let’s tackle this question.
    When it comes to bar carts or what I’ll otherwise refer to as a bar cabinet or “dry bar,” you’ve got a number of great options out there, but you really need to be honest with yourself at the outset about how handy you intend on being with this project. If you’re pretty good with tools, there are a lot of REALLY cheap options for making a custom bar cart or dry bar. But, if you don’t have a good set of tools or much experience working with wood or metal, I’d recommend forking out the money to save yourself some aggravation.
    In my experience, the best way to get a really nice bar cart for an affordable price is to keep your eyes peeled at antique stores. You could even call around to a bunch of them in your area and ask if they have any bar carts in stock. This approach is best for people who really enjoy the little chemical rush when you get a great deal on something, or conversely, for those folks out there who enjoy taking their time and enjoying the process of the hunt.
    Personally, I sourced by Bar Cart from friend of the podcast Brandy here in DC, who loves to refurbish vintage furniture, but that was complete luck. I will say, though, that I was able to upgrade the wheels by purchasing some vintage-looking casters on Amazon for about $15, and I’ll have a link to those on the show notes page for this episode.
    Speaking of wheels or casters, this brings us to an important question when it comes to sourcing a bar cart: do you really need to move it? Bar carts were initially designed for table-side service at restaurants, where the bartender would actually construction your drink right in front of you, but in most cases, home or apartment bar carts are relatively stationary, which means you might even pose the question: does your setup even need to be on wheels in the first place? Or, put differently, are wheels a practical or an aesthetic consideration?
    Next, you’ll want to think about the materials you want your bar cart to be made of. Most of the cheaper ones out there are made of aluminum, particle board, or in some cases soft wood like pine or poplar. Expensive bar carts tend to employ sturdier or richer materials like brass, stainless steel, glass, and hardwood, but these materials really increase the price, so if money is your primary concern, you’re left with two options: source the materials and build it yourself, or settle for an attractive, but less luxurious pre-made bar cart.
    Ultimately, judging by the tone of Robbie’s question, I have two big pieces of advice:

    First, get to know your ideal dimensions. If you plan on actually using your bar cart or bar cabinet for actually constructing your drinks, make sure it hits that sweet spot for you so that you’re not having to bend down to stir or pour your cocktails. To figure out what that optimal height is for you, take a tape measure and record the height of your favorite meal prep surface – in essence, the place in your home where you’d naturally make a cocktail if you didn’t have a bar cart. Armed with that knowledge, you can make smart choices that you won’t regret when you finally get the thing into your home. Also, if you’re planning to store bottles INSIDE your bar cart because keeping them out of sight is important to you, well…just make sure your bar cart has a cabinet large enough to accommodate even the tallest bottles you tend to keep around.

    Second, think outside the box when it comes to materials sourcing. There are some DIY bar cart builds out there that involve going to Lowe’s or Home Depot and picking up some wood and some paint and some screws and then following some pictures and instructions online. But I’d recommend trying to find a store that sells reclaimed wood or recycled materials, like a cross between a hardware store and an antique mall. There’s one near DC called Community Forklift (link in the show notes), and I’ve sourced some really cool wood for book shelves there, and I guarantee they have lots of stuff that’s just begging to be transformed into a bar cart.

    Last thing here, Robbie – what if you imagined the look of your ideal bar cart in your mind. Ditch the keyboard stand altogether. What does it look like? Once you have a good picture, I’d simply ask: is there a more affordable piece of furniture that this bar cart resembles? And if there is, why not source that night stand or desk and simply install some wheels on it so that it becomes a bar cart? Could be as simple as that.
    If Robbie or anyone else out there has the chance to flex those DIY muscles and make a cool bar cart, we hope you’ll take the chance to send us some pictures and share your process via Instagram, Facebook or Email.
    Decanter Talk
    Our next question – which is more of a general interest topic – comes courtesy of friend of the pod Greg in Kansas City. You may remember a giveaway of his cocktail artwork that we did a while back.
    He recently reached out asking about sourcing affordable spirits decanters, which got me thinking that we’ve never really covered this subject outside of our Infinity Bottles interview with Chad Robinson, so I figured we’d cover some decanter basics in this episode. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 175 – Intro to Aquavit with Christian Krogstad

    We’re here, though, to talk specifically about Aquavit, the traditional Nordic spirit that walks and talks a little bit like gin, while following a few of its own unique botanical rules. But, before we launch our long-ships on seas perfumed by caraway and dill, let’s take a moment so that you can make yourself a drink,
    In this Aquavit-driven conversation with Christian Krogstad, creator of Krogstad Aquavit, some of the topics we discuss include:

    What differentiates Aquavit from other botanical spirits like gin and genever

    How Christian noticed an impending gap in Aquavit imports and used it as an opportunity to develop and launch his own brand.

    The place that this Nordic spirit holds in Scandinavian cuisine and culture, including which foods to pair it with.

    A few cocktails to play around with as you begin to build out your Aquavit collection at home,

    What to drink with a college-age Stephen Hawking,

    And much, much more

    Featured Cocktail: Norwegian Paralysis
    This episode’s featured cocktail is the Norwegian Paralysis. Developed by Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove fame, it’s a relatively low-ABV Tiki drink that gives Aquavit a chance to stretch its tropical legs. To make it, you’ll need: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 174 – Indicate THIS

    In this Bar Cart Foundations episode, Eric offers a crash course in
    geographic indications – the rules that govern the materials, processes,
    and label claims that define our spirits. LEGGI TUTTO

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    MBC LIVE – Themed Tasting 1 – Jamaican Rum

    What’s shakin, cocktail fans? Welcome to Modern Bar Cart LIVE!
    This is one of our live stream episodes where we taste through a number of themed bottles to try and get a better understanding of one of the world’s most fascinating spirits categories. Tto kick off the New Year in style, we’re going to crack open a few historic bottles of Jamaican-style rum and compare them to a couple of the more widely available Jamaican expressions on the market. This is my co-founder, Ethan Hall’s area of growing expertise so he is the guide on this particular flavor tour. 
    The bottles we taste, in order, are:
    I know those last two are a mouthful, and believe me, they’re each delicious mouthfuls in their own way, so definitely stick around to hear about how those two offerings from Habitation Velier are pretty different from the stuff you can find on most liquor store shelves.
    No need for a whole lot of preamble on this episode – so grab a Glencairn glass and join us for this delightful four-bottle tasting of Jamaican rum. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 172 – Casa Dragones Tequila with Bertha González Nieves

    Bertha González Nieves discovered her love for the spirits world when, at age 22, she was selected to represent Mexico in a television program ran by the Japanese government. It was through this opportunity that Bertha realized the incredible way tequila embodied Mexico as the social fabric, the culture, and the life. She fell in love with the craft, deciding then and there that she wanted to dedicate her career to the tequila industry.
    Looking for a way to get her foot in the door, Bertha landed a job with the Beckmann family, owners of Grupo Cuervo. For more than a decade she engaged with the Jose Cuervo brand, maintaining five different positions as she learned the foundation of the breadth and what could be done in the tequila category. After her 10th year, she felt the tug of the entrepreneurial spirit urging her to break away from Gupo Cuervo and create her own company. Thus, in 2008, Casa Dragones was born.
    The first bottle brought to market was the “Casa Dragones Joven.” This spirit exists to prove that tequila can compete with other sipping spirits like cognac and whiskey, and can also pair well with dishes outside of Mexican cuisine. French, Italian, and Japanese foods are now viable contenders to pair with tequila thanks to the Joven. By pioneering this new space, Bertha hopes to push the tequila production conversation forward, allowing others to follow in her contemporary footsteps. 
    Bertha accredits the beautiful quality of her liquor to sourcing, cultivation, and water. There are five states where you can harvest blue weber agave in Mexico: Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Guanajuanto, and Tamaulipas. Casa Dragones is focused in Tequila, Jalisco where the Tequila Volcano causes the soil to be semi-arid and semi-humid, filled with obsidian rock, and volcanic matter. Every bottle of Casa Dragones is 40% tequila 60% water. Using natural aquifers straight from the volcano, Bertha and her team are able to tweak the water, giving it the right mineral profile to harmonize their tequila. This culmination of details is what maintains the premium status of Casa Dragrones’. 
    The demand for a new tequila arose once consumers started looking for a bottle with more flexibility. The Joven is not meant to be served on the rocks, kept in the freezer, or made into a margarita. This is where inspiration for the “Blanco” bottle arose. The Blanco expression celebrates the agave in a herbaceous, green, and pure tribute. This liquor is minimal, yet bursting with character. When creating the Blanco, Bertha hoped to create a tequila that will have the same relationship with chefs as it does with mixologists. A liquor that can hold its own meat and also perform well in a signature cocktail. 
    The final bottle created by Casa Dragones is the 3rd barrel aged expression. This tequila is known as the “Añejo.” After extensive traveling, Bertha and her team discovered a soulful wood in Bordeaux, France. By combining that with an American oak from Pennsylvania, Casa Dragones was able to achieve a dry, complex, and beautiful result of an aged tequila. The wood undergoes a char treatment, but the color of the Añejo is a natural reaction that occurs within the bounds of the barrel. 
    Nosing the Three Bottles
    While nosing the Joven, incredible grassy tones and fruity notes are identified, almost reminisce of fermented cane. The deep green nose can be attributed to the floral and citrus in the blanco tequila balanced with the sweetness and spice of the aged. This is a love affair of the two styles, where neither is overwhelming the overall experience. 
    When nosing the Blanco, the immediate reaction is more subtle than the Joven. A dry, mineral note first hits the pallet followed by suggestions of marigold.
    Nosing the Añejo inspires notes of cedar and sap, hinting at the life in the wood instead of the flavors that were burned out of the wood. Just as the two preceding the Añejo, this expression is different than your typical aged liquor.
    Where to Find Casa Dragones
    New York, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. If you cannot find Casa Dragones in your state, email “[email protected]” and Bertha will make sure to take care of it.
    Social Media
    @casadragrones @berthagonzalesn
    Favorite Cocktail
    I have a cocktail I adore called the Micheloma by Pablo Pasti.
    If You Were a Cocktail Ingredient, What Would You Be?
    Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present
    The recent elections have really left a mark on me. I would love to have a drink with Kamala Harris and I want to ask her what are we going to do for females in the beverage industry.
    Controversial Opinion in the Spirits/Cocktail Space
    I do believe that I am trying to prove my case that tequila pairs well with French, Italian, and Japanese cuisine. I am going to prove that everyday of the week. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Episode 171 – Gather Around Cocktails with Aaron Goldfarb

    To make this large format cocktail, you’ll need:

    1 ½ cups (i.e. 12 oz, i.e. half a bottle) of Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon

    4 oz Laird’s Applejack (which is an American Apple Brandy)

    4 oz spiced cranberry syrup (which we’ll cover in a second here)

    24 dashes of celery bitters (there’s a lot of versions out there, but Aaron calls for a product by The Bitter Truth)

    Now, the first thing you’re gonna want to do is make your cranberry syrup. For the full recipe, I’m going to refer you to the book, but it’s basically a combination of cranberries, sugar, dry white wine, and traditional holiday spices reduced to a delicious syrup on the stovetop, then strained and cooled.
    Once you’ve got your syrup made and cooled down to at least room temperature, add it to a pitcher with the bourbon and the applejack and give them all a good stir. You’ll serve this drink on the rocks by pouring 2.5 oz of your booze and syrup mixture into the glass and then topping with 3 dashes of celery bitters and the coup de gras – a stuffing cube garnish.
    You’re also gonna want to make those ahead of time, but they’re super easy. According to Aaron, all you need to do is preheat your oven to 400 degrees, mold and cut your favorite stuffing recipe into 1” cubes, place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. After 10 minutes, you’ll flip them over, drizzle them with GRAVY this time, then bake until they’re dark brown and crisp. Once they’re cool you can serve these garnishes in your Gobbler cocktails on a cocktail pick, but if you don’t have those lying around, a toothpick will do just fine.
    Show Notes
    The first part of our conversation with Aaron revolves around his writing career. He began writing booze articles while he was on a quest to become a novelist in the early 2000s. Although Aaron did publish a few novels, he found a unique and innovative voice in the spirits and cocktail space. He initially spent a lot of time in the craft beer space, and then evolved into tracking the whiskey boom in the US, including its secondary online markets. LEGGI TUTTO