Friday, February 09, 2007

Happy New Year!

Damn! This post has been "in progress" since early January. Regardless, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's still early enough in the new year to wish all y'all a Happy New Year. That's exceptionally lame, I know, but I hope you'll cut me some slack.

I have absolutely no idea how many of you are out there but I appreciate your taking the time to stop by. I hope you've found something useful or at least moderately entertaining in my ramblings over the last couple months. I also hope you had a swell time on New Years Eve. If you had a particularly fine cocktail on NYE please take a moment to tell me about it in the comments section.

I spent New Year's Eve in San Diego. It was a pleasant evening with the galfriend's family and it concluded a fine trip out west. The evening, however, was unfortunately cocktail-free. While I don't consider it a requirement to get all liquored up on New Years I do think a few cocktails make for a more festive evening.

Fortunately the evening was not alcohol-free. There was Full Sail Pale Ale from Oregon and Karl Strauss Amber Lager from San Diego and we had a couple bottles of sparkling wine: Gloria Ferrer Brut and Korbel Extra Dry. I think Mike's Hard Lemonade was also consumed (but not by me).

I liked both microbrews and both sparklers. Neither beer was a life-changer but both had plenty of the fine beer flavor found in all good microbrews. I thought the Gloria Ferrer was a particularly nice champagne, especially at $13. I don't drink much champagne so I won't pretend to know what I'm talking about but I can say that the GF struck me as very fresh and light and delicious. I'd definitely buy it again and I wouldn't feel remotely embarrassed or self-conscious taking it to a party. How's that for high praise from the ignorant?

The highlight of the trip was probably the seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove. It's "pupping season" for the seals so the adult seals are spending a lot of time on the beach or on rocks near the shore with the seal pups. Fortunately, there's a seal/sea lion protection group with members who watch over the beach and keep folks from getting too close. Considering how adorable those sleeping seal pups are that's a good thing. As they lazed on the rocks even the big, fat and hairy sea lions looked as if they wanted their bellies rubbed. A quick trip over the sand to cuddle one of the far more adorable seal pups was nigh on irresistible.

The sea birds were interesting too. We didn't see any pigeon-eating pelicans but the local fliers are weird enough to this midwesterner's eyes. It's uncanny how ungainly they are while walking around but how graceful they are in the air. Egrets, we saw a few, but, then again, too few to mention... ba dump bump. Okay, so they were probably cormorants but there's no Sinatra joke to be made from "cormorants", is there?

The other excitement to be had on the trip was buying booze that can't be had for love nor money in the great state of Illinois.

Laird's Straight Apple Brandy (100 proof). Delicious. Like drinking good whiskey in an apple orchard. It's so delicious, in fact, that I contacted Laird's in the hope of learning something about one of their other products, Captain Applejack. The Captain is also 100 proof but until Laird's got back to me I didn't know much else about it. What I learned from the sales staffer who replied is that they're the same product but the Captain Applejack label is used in the Carolinas and Virginia (and, apparently, Illinois).

I assume Laird's bought the Capt. Applejack name at some point and, as apple brandy has long since fallen out of favor in the U.S., it's not much of a stretch to think that Laird's simply decided to use the Capt. Applejack name to sell their product in the area where that name was familiar. But I'm just guessing.

Junipero gin. According to the guy at Sam's Junipero won't be available in Illinois for at least another few months. It's an incredibly rich, potent juniper-heavy gin. Alberta Straub gave us a taste when we were in San Francisco last fall and I thought I might have found a new favorite Martini gin. I've tried it in a 4:1 and a 5:1 Martini so far and both were very good but Plymouth gin is still my first choice. [Note: thanks to my inability to get this posted I've learned that Junipero is now available at Sam's.]

Plymouth gin for $10.99!! And speaking of Plymouth, I would have preferred to find room in my suitcase for something else unavailable in Chicago but I couldn't pass it up at this sale price. This is half what I pay locally.

I also picked up mini-bottles of the following:
Schladerer kirschwasser
Jameson's and Bushmill's Irish whiskey
Myers's dark rum
Pere Magloire calvados

Kirschwasser (aka kirsch) is kinda pricey and I've never tried it so I haven't picked up a bottle. The Schladerer is supposed to be good so I was happy to pick up this mini even if it was the most expensive of the bunch at $6.50. The others were picked up for taste-testing purposes. It's been years since I've had Myers's rum and I've been meaning to do an Irish whiskey head-to-head (to-head-to-head) competition between the two best known Irish's and my prior and current favorites, Tullamore Dew,and John Powers, respectively.

Wow. Did this really need a five-week gestation period?


At February 20, 2007 10:29 PM, Blogger pclarke said...

Where did you get lucky with the booze haul? I'm heading to San Diego in a few days on business, and I'd like to grab a couple of things that aren't available in my local state-run liquor stores.


At February 21, 2007 12:12 PM, Blogger Kurt said...

Hey, Paul, thanks for stopping by my little hole in the net. I'm a big fan of your blog and your writing for Imbibe and Mixologist.

I was in San Diego last summer and hit the Bevmo in Mission Valley and picked up a couple bottles of Torani Amer. Bevmo won't ship to IL but I was able to order them ahead as a "pick up" order.

I recommend doing this yourself if you check out and find something you want. When I was in SD in December the La Jolla Bevmo had sold out of the $11 Plymouth gin. Fortunately they were very helpful and were able to get some from another location but it did require another trip on my part.

It was the La Jolla Bevmo that had the great selection of mini-bottles. I don't recall whether the Mission Valley store had mini-bottles. I checked out the shelves but my primary mission was to pick up the Torani Amer I'd ordered.

If you grab some of the mini-bottle you should make note of the prices on the display. A couple of them rang up at a higher price at the check-out counter.

The Laird's is listed at the Bevmo website but it appears to be a warehouse-only item so I had to find that at another shop. I just googled SD liquor stores and I'm 95% sure the shop was Del Mesa Food & Liquor on Friars Road.

In December I found Del Mesa by checking the yellow pages and calling the shops with the biggest ads. My assumption was that any shop willing to spend the $$$ on an ad in the phone book is going to be a little bigger or a specialty shop. I was thrilled to find the Laird's BIB but I wasn't too excited that it cost me $26. It's normally sold for under $20.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

At August 08, 2011 10:43 AM, Blogger jacob neruda said...

hey kurt happy new year to u also its really nice to read your blog....
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