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Thread: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

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    Default Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    I feel like in years past this could have even first appeared at the vsalon; these days the discourse has tamed a bit. But the zeitgeist the author channels is something that I have increasingly become sensitive to. Special craft whiskeys with no age statement and clearly done in 10L barrels, 800kcal triple smoothie sours with enough sugar and flavorings added to make Wonka blush, everyone having a bar programme… I love the good life but what is being packaged and sold leaves me empty and always questioning if anything is real.

    https://thebaffler.com/outbursts/poo...rs-nathan-west

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    My solution is simple: I will not drink anything that has to be mixed. I've stuck with this for 30 years and it has yet to fail me.
    Mark Kelly

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    A kid from my town has started a boutique bourbon brand. Basically they buy from generic label distillers and slap some pretty stickers on the bottle. Do I mention: We’re from New Jersey.

    I don’t bother with mixed drinks often but the mezcal Negroni at Jose Andres’ steak joint in Chicago is worth the splurge, relatively speaking.
    Last edited by robin3mj; 10-02-2023 at 07:14 AM.
    my name is Matt

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Well said. The only mixed drink I order is a Old Fashioned with one caveat. I'll chat with the bartender "do you like making Old Fashioneds?" If there is a enthusiastic response and they have good Rye it's a winner....hold the cherry.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    I enjoy a Maker's Mark Manhattan. Otherwise, I like decent brown liquor on the rocks. I attended a conference in Sioux Falls last week and I upgraded my flights for more legroom, free bag, and free drinks on the flight. American Airlines has Dewar's Scotch and the flight attendant was giving me two bottles at a time. Wyoming Whiskey is made about 15 minutes from our summer place. Meh, I've had better. My favorite whiskey in recent years is Quiet Man, which is a blended whiskey from Ireland. There's a gas station in Flagstaff that has an amazing selection of brown liquors and I bought Quiet Man on a whim because it's named after my all-time favorite movie. I've had a hard time finding it, but I'll buy a few bottles when I do find it.
    Retired Sailor, Marine dad, semi-professional cyclist, fly fisherman, and Indian School STEM teacher.
    Assistant Operating Officer at Farm Soap homemade soaps. www.farmsoap.com

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    The phenomenon of private spirits labeling has made me a permanent skeptic wrt trying new brands. Today I won't try any new liquor brand if it isn't made by a storied distiller (vats in Indiana don't count.)

    I used to be able to afford any bourbon I wanted before the internet hype machine got ahold of things. But you can't go home again.
    steve cortez

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Quote Originally Posted by zetroc View Post
    The phenomenon of private spirits labeling has made me a permanent skeptic wrt trying new brands. Today I won't try any new liquor brand if it isn't made by a storied distiller (vats in Indiana don't count.)

    I used to be able to afford any bourbon I wanted before the internet hype machine got ahold of things. But you can't go home again.
    The one that really set me off was the sudden vicious and universal praise for smoke wagon. Like, really? This out of nowhere vegas company selling LDI* spirit is the thing? It really does just make me want to give up all together.

    And even the local honest efforts aren’t any better! I hesitate to call these folks out, as they are very nice, and honest about what they are doing. But I visited their distillery, which is really more of a cocktail garden and restaurant, and got a $15 gin and tonic with spirulina simple to make it look foggy and ocean like. $15 G&T! And they have a full array of distilled offerings, including 10L barreled (at least it’s not oak chips?) non-age statement bourbon for $50 for 375ml…

    I used to be able to shop against the trends. Just opened a bottle of 25yr old cambus (closed distillery) single grain I got some years ago for $70. It’s delightful! It’s now 3x the price… I don’t know where to go next, and the joy is kinda getting sucked out of it anyway…


    * I know the giant distillery in lawrenceburg isn’t called LDI anymore… but I’m not going to keep up with the name changes.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Quote Originally Posted by spopepro View Post
    I love the good life but what is being packaged and sold leaves me empty and always questioning if anything is real.
    Last Friday I found myself without lunch and went to a knockoff Sweetgreen salad place. $13.59 was the advertised price for romaine with some chicken and a cutesie name, which somehow rang up to over 18 bucks, and a standard tip sent it over 20. The salad was meh. I picked up groceries on my way home.

    It's not just smoked cocktails that can leave you wondering what the hell you just agreed to.

    The article is good, and this paragraph is 2023 in a nutshell:

    None of this is bad, or none of it is worse than anything else, but it’s strange, in 2023, to see idealism still shackled to consumerism. Researching this essay, I read an exhortation to consider the hardships of cane cutters when drinking cachaça. But should I? Do those people profit by my feeling a little bad as I swill down the undercompensated fruits of their labor? Should I feel bad for banana pickers, for iPhone makers in Zhengzhou, for textile workers in Bangladesh, for avocado growers murdered by gangsters in Michoacán? My humanity says yes. My reason tells me feeling isn’t action, and that this nugatory penance is a cheap way of wiping the slate before doing whatever we want, which is what everyone seems to be doing irrespective of their politics.
    Last edited by caleb; 10-02-2023 at 02:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Tall View Post
    Well said. The only mixed drink I order is a Old Fashioned with one caveat. I'll chat with the bartender "do you like making Old Fashioneds?" If there is a enthusiastic response and they have good Rye it's a winner....hold the cherry.
    On the road, my orders run about 80/20 old fashioned to Manhattan. In the years when work was taking me to Las Vegas, an old fashioned was the only thing I ordered after one unfortunate Manhattan attempt. Old fashioneds seemed to be reliably good-to-great across venues.

    I don't like a cherry in an old fashioned. I don't like a maraschino cherry in anything.
    Dan Fuller, local bicycle enthusiast

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Quote Originally Posted by spopepro View Post
    The one that really set me off was the sudden vicious and universal praise for smoke wagon. Like, really? This out of nowhere vegas company selling LDI* spirit is the thing? It really does just make me want to give up all together.

    And even the local honest efforts aren’t any better! I hesitate to call these folks out, as they are very nice, and honest about what they are doing. But I visited their distillery, which is really more of a cocktail garden and restaurant, and got a $15 gin and tonic with spirulina simple to make it look foggy and ocean like. $15 G&T! And they have a full array of distilled offerings, including 10L barreled (at least it’s not oak chips?) non-age statement bourbon for $50 for 375ml…

    I used to be able to shop against the trends. Just opened a bottle of 25yr old cambus (closed distillery) single grain I got some years ago for $70. It’s delightful! It’s now 3x the price… I don’t know where to go next, and the joy is kinda getting sucked out of it anyway…


    * I know the giant distillery in lawrenceburg isn’t called LDI anymore… but I’m not going to keep up with the name changes.
    Yeah the LDI stuff is what killed it for me. Re that Baffler article, it bring to mind a bar I visited in Madrid, "Salmon Guru" where the bartenders served me very good but quite baroque drinks in all manner of vessels. Very tasty, and I learned later that they're on one of those Best Bars lists. But my tastes generally run to the more pedestrian these days. I'll take a Maker's manhattan or a green Chartreuse, neat, over most things, though I will still try anything once.

    Prices aside, SF does still have some great cocktail bars with dedicated professional bartenders. I particularly like True Laurel and Trick Dog among the newest wave, even though I also still love Bender's and Molotov's. (RIP Lucky 13)
    steve cortez

    FNG

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Of course… all this thinking about $18 cocktails has me… mmmmm cocktails…

    IMG_3582.jpg

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    When I saw $18 in the title, I thought that the thread might be about the price of hamburgers.
    rw saunders
    hey, how lucky can one man get.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    My favorite manhattans ever were mixed by the bartenders at the Roosevelt Hotel, 45th and Madison. RIP.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Quote Originally Posted by clunk View Post
    My favorite manhattans ever were mixed by the bartenders at the Roosevelt Hotel, 45th and Madison. RIP.
    Oh God they made a great Gin Martini too. Sad that it's now a way station for the desperate.
    It's way too expensive for me to drink out in Manhattan now. A half an inch of red wine for $15. Martini inching up to $20. Forget it.
    I get a care package from Astor Wine every month. My bar has Jamon Iberico, a very comfy chair and pleasant company (my own).
    Though I do enjoy a Martini at the counter at the Oyster Bar with my Clam Chowder. They always give you a little container with your drink that has another Martini in it.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    What's the point of going out to a bar in this country anyway? All these idiots staring at their phones.
    I am better entertained at home.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Revisiting this after going out with my wife last night for the first time in ages. We got sushi here after getting stupid downtown street parking and walking through the stupid rain. I went in slightly wet and primed to declare that I was never going to a restaurant again.

    But it was amazing. The place was warm, buzzing, full without being packed. People were dressed up on a Tuesday night at 8pm. We sat at the counter and watched the guys build rolls for an hour - mesmerizing. The music was just right. It was an experience.

    Don't get me wrong: my cocktail was $15 and tasted like nothing but mediocre Japanese whiskey. Two of the three rolls we ordered were meh, although the third was indeed great. There were drawbacks to find.

    Nevertheless, I will go back, because this place understands that they're not just in the food and drink business, they're in the hospitality and experience business. And I guess that's what going out still can be, even in 2023, an experience.
    Last edited by caleb; 10-04-2023 at 09:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    This is prevalent across most product categories. Too many buyers with money but no sense feeding the charlatans. It's nothing new, but it does seem that there are more of them these days.

    Earlier this year, I put together a Kyoto food and drink guide for some foodie friends of mine who were visiting Kyoto for the first time, from abroad. One of the places that I included is a traditional sake brewer who still uses traditional, hand-made wooden vats in the same room that they've been using for ages -- the business has been around for well over a century. The part of the brewery once caught fire a few years ago, which presented a reason to demolish and rebuild the section. However, the proprietor decided to repair the structure because what makes their sake unique and special, other than not taking any shortcuts that mass producers typically take, is the bacteria that accumulated in that room and on the vats.

    But, yeah, expedience and enhanced profit margins are the main drivers for most in this day and age.
    Chikashi Miyamoto

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    Quote Originally Posted by caleb View Post
    Revisiting this after going out with my wife last night for the first time in ages. We got sushi here after getting stupid downtown street parking and walking through the stupid rain. I went in slightly wet and primed to declare that I was never going to a restaurant again.

    But it was amazing. The place was warm, buzzing, full without being packed. People were dressed up on a Tuesday night at 8pm. We sat at the counter and watched the guys build rolls for an hour - mesmerizing. The music was just right. It was an experience.

    Don't get me wrong: my cocktail was $15 and tasted like nothing but mediocre Japanese whiskey. Two of the three rolls we ordered were meh, although the third was indeed great. There were drawbacks to find.

    Nevertheless, I will go back, because this place understands that they're not just in the food and drink business, they're in the hospitality and experience business. And I guess that's what going out still can be, even in 2023, an experience.
    At the risk of drawing the ire of the more knowledgeable for straying outside my lane (advanced apologies to @Chik and @verticaldoug), there's a kaiseki place in MSP. We almost went there earlier this February and would probably go if we were to relocate to MSP. There's also an affiliated sushi restaurant by the same chef, Kado no Mise. Looks like the type of places actually worth the money.

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    I had a 19$ hamburger at The Blind Pig in Carlton, OR, and it was as good as any I have ever had- I am not a burger guy but my weight was down to 155 and I figured I'd better put on some pounds or risk looking like the bike freaks at Jumbo Visma I saw on Netflix. Since that night I have gone back repeatedly because the food feeds my soul and every dinner there has felt like a party. They have a CBD libation on the menu that does what I'd like alcohol to do. I've stopped drinking the latter but for the occasional beer, tired of waking up at one am with my heart pounding.
    Jay Dwight

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    Default Re: Aimless in a world of $18 cocktails and single batch crap

    At the risk of sounding pompous and perhaps too self-aggrandizing, I find very few restaurants worthwhile going to these days. Out of the experiences we had ordering osso buco (of both veal and pork, i know, the latter is somewhat blasphemous), three out of six were at best mediocre, and one certainly couldn't tell ahead of time which would be the substandard ones at least based on online reviews.

    The worst was at an Italian restaurant (opened by a chef from Naples) in Amsterdam doing very brisk business and having garnered very good reviews, but the meat was very tough when the whole point of the dish is fall-off-the-bone tender.
    The next (merely mediocre) was in a Chicago suburb. Came with a hefty charge, but they messed up the whole concept by presenting the entire length of the shank bone, as opposed to cutting the bone to 2-3 inch thick piece. Sauce was also overly sweet, and it was served with thick noodles as opposed to risotto or polenta.
    The next one up was in a fancy-ish place in Covent Gardens, London. No gremolata presented, but at least the meat was tender and I think there was saffron used in the risotto. Though with the price charged, one certainly knew one was in London.

    Two of the really well-made ones were served in restaurants in respective strip malls, one of them didn't even have a paved parking lot at the time. And the last really good one was in a fancy restaurant in Boston North End, the only one for which style was backed up by substance.

    In contrast, after having had a helluva time preparing my own (I started a thread here three years ago seeking help), I can say that what I do is better than at least what we had from the two lowest-ranked places on this list.

    I know it's all anecdotal, but this is also one of the reasons why we rarely go out to eat at sit-down places these days. The only sure-ish good places seem to be taco trucks and such. We know they are cooking something we can't make at home, and the food is also usually very good value for the money paid.

    Otoh, the food we had in Japan was consistently good, ranging from the ekiben all the way to the fancy kaiseki meal we had.

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