Tag Archives: Drinks

Clementine: Clifton Park’s 19th Hole

So the Chop is going golfing again today. We’ve got a late-morning tee time, which we’ve come to figure out is just about the ideal window to tee off because you can still sleep in a little bit, and by the time you’re round is done you’re in prime position to go straight from the course to happy hour.

We’ll be playing at Clifton, which means the most convenient bars are the ones around Hamilton and Lauraville. Here’s the idea: if we play our usual terrible game, we’ll go ahead and do the usual Bohs at Koco’s. If we can get that score down under 100 though, we might just reward ourselves with some of the specialty cocktails up at Clementine.

Yeah Lee, we get pretty thirsty after a round too.

Clementine has always been in an odd position. They’re hands down one of the best bars in the city, yet they’ve never had more than 3 or 4 stools at their bar. We never could reconcile in our mind how a bar that’s so well stocked could have so few stools. They’ve got one of those something-for-everyone-mostly-reasonably-priced wine lists that is perfect for date night, as well as a long list of carefully chosen bottled beers to pair with everything on the menu.

If we do manage to get a seat at the bar though, we’re going to resist the temptation to call for one of several available single malts and small-batch American whiskies and pick a few selections from their outstanding cocktail list.

Fall is the perfect time to go for our favorite, the Stonewall (Pear Cider, Bourbon and Ginger Liqueur). The Georgia Manhattan (Pecan Infused Bourbon, Mathilde Peach Liqueur & Organic Maple Liqueur) and Maça Martini (LeBlon Cacha├ža, Elderflower Liqueur, Pressed Apple Cider & Fresh Lime Juice) are a couple more don’t-try-this-at-home seasonal specialties. Or, if we end up getting rained on after 9 holes it might prove a good excuse to call it a day and call for a hot toddy.

Whatever we ultimately decide on one thing’s certain… good booze is the best incentive to keep those drives straight, chips short, putts true and score down.

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House Rules: Drinking on Your Wedding Day

It takes a lot of time and effort to plan a wedding. It’s no small matter to co-ordinate a real life fairy tale which is meant to be the one and only happiest day of your life. If you’re a bride or groom, it’s hard enough to pull together the budgetary and logistical challenges in a way that pleases you, not to mention pleasing parents, in-laws, and everyone else. It’s a challenge even to the professionals, and for someone with no experience in event planning it’s enough to drive you to drink.

If you’re about to put so much money and planning into a reception, you may be worried about a certain drunken uncle or a beast of a best man. What no one ever tells you about wedding planning though is not to tip your own glass too many times during the toast. You’re going to want to remember this.

Norman Mailer was an expert on drinking- and on weddings for that matter. His example though, is not one to emulate.

Please don’t get us wrong. We don’t mean to criticize any happy couples here, and heaven knows your Chop is typically the first (and last) in line for an open bar. We’re usually the last to urge moderation, but your own wedding is one of the few times when a little temperance is called for. If you’ve got a date set for this season, it’s true that it’s your party, your day, and you’re free to spend it how you will. At the same time though, it’s your party. Even though you’ve got a staff of waiters and bartenders at the ready, the hosting duties are still yours.

Sure, every couple is in pretty good shape throughout the dinner hour, and most people are savvy enough not to really pour it on until the photographers are long gone. In a lot of ways though, your wedding day can be the longest day of your life. Once you make it to the point where cake is cut and the old folks start to trickle out, but the bar is still open, you’re not quite done yet. This is precisely the point where it’s best to ease up and just maintain. You’ve still got plenty of wedding ahead of you.

Besides, you only get one shot at wedding night sex, and whiskey dick is a most unwelcome wedding crasher.

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The Five Best Bottles of Liquor to Give as a Gift

Last Fall when we wrote about How to Stock a Home Bar we mentioned that you should save space for a couple of ‘special occasion bottles.’ You need a couple of bottles of the good stuff; a private stock, if you will. This is the stuff that you’ll break out for special occasions, and that is good enough that it will make any occasion special if you do break it out.

We suggested that these bottles might even be given to you to mark some special occasion. It works both ways though… eventually a friend of yours is going to have a birthday, a housewarming, a Christmas party, or some other milestone worth marking with a bottle. It’s times like these when the usual good stuff isn’t quite good enough. Any drinker can treat himself to a bottle of Makers’ 46 or Tanqueray 10 on payday, but the idea behind a gifted bottle is that it should not only be a liquor of superior quality, but should be something a friend might not think to try on his own.

In any decent spirits shop there’s going to be no shortage of bottles worth giving as a gift. Especially now, in the age of artisanal booze made in small batch copper pot stills there is plenty of variety for a special occasion. These five though are tried and true, and represent the very best spirit of generosity.

The Dalmore 15

The Dalmore 15 year old. Representing the third tier in the Dalmore Range (which includes whiskys up to 50 years old), the 15 is about the best there is in the world before you start spending into the triple digits. The Dalmore’s 12 point stag stands guard on the bottle, ensuring it’s not opened lightly. Aged entirely in sherry casks, this is the stuff that your Grandfather would drink. At his mistress’ funeral. (around $80.)

Barbancourt Estate Reserve

Barbancourt Estate Reserve. Unlike some other liquors, there are plenty of good rums available in the $20 range. Spend twice that and you’re into the realm of world-class rums. What makes Barbancourt’s Estate Reserve so special isn’t just the fact that it’s still being produced in post-quake Haiti from pure sugar cane or the 15 years it spends in oak, it’s the fact that not only do you not need Coke to drink it… you don’t even need ice. (around $45.)

Noah's Mill

Noah’s Mill. We had the good fortune to receive a bottle of Noah’s Mill as a gift once, and can speak directly to its quality. The Chop is first and foremost a bourbon drinker, and Noah’s Mill has supplanted Russell’s Reserve as our top pick. You know this isn’t for everyday drinking, as it’s bottled at a ridiculous 114.3 proof. You wouldn’t ever know it though, because it smooths out nicely after 15 years of aging in charred oak. This is as good as it gets. (around $45.)

Delamain pale and dry XO

Delamain pale and dry XO.Without getting into a whole big lesson on Cognac, let us just say this is the good shit. In this year’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge it placed second with a score of 95, a tie with Delamain’s much pricier “Extra” expression. Whereas an XO represents the top of some brands’ lines, at Delamain this 25 year old Cognac is actually the bottom of the line. Compare it to Courvoisier’s XO, which is the fifth step up their ladder, retails about $50 more, and is not 100% Grand Champagne derived. It is a bit expensive, but it’s also a special occasion. (around $100.)

Chartreuse

Chartreuse. Why are we including Chartreuse in this short list? Is it because we love it? Because we would like to receive a bottle as a gift? Because we wanted to include a liqueur for variety’s sake? These are all good reasons, but we include Chartreuse here because it’s the perfect gift for the vodka or gin drinker in your life. Premium vodka is more or less a scam, and any serious gin drinker has probably already reached the top of the gin pyramid on his own (It’s not nearly as high as the Cognac pyramid or the Scotch pyramid). Chartreuse is best served neat, but if that certain someone still insists of drinking vodka, feel free to pass along our Chartreuse gimlet recipe.

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The Chop’s Père Noël Cocktail Recipe

We would have liked to get this up before Christmas, when we were talking last week about ’tis the season for amaretto, but Christmas will sneak up on you quickly… like the Krampus. Anyway, this is the time of year when you seem to see bottles of amaretto floating around everywhere. Since taking that stuff straight is about as enjoyable as drinking maple syrup, you’ve got to know how to mix it if you don’t want that bottle to collect dust and become something of an annual holiday joke.

An obvious choice in dealing with amaretto is cranberry juice, which is very seasonal this time of year and which has the tartness to offset the overly sweet taste of amaretto. Although the folks at DiSaronno and their vaguely ethnic, very homosexual spokesman would have you think differently, cranberry alone is not a suitable mixer for amaretto. Mixing two things that are gross will never make something that is good. It’s going to take a little more mixing to come up with something drinkable. We did a little more mixing, and the result was the Père Noël cocktail.

If it comes out red, it's got too much cranberry in it.

The Chop’s Père Noël Recipe

  • 3 parts bourbon
  • 2 parts amaretto
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 parts cranberry juice

Pour ingredients in that order into a double old-fashioned or highball glass full of ice. Stir once or twice and sip.

It’s important not to use too much juice in this. It’s a cocktail and not a highball or juice mixer. When you get it right, it should taste surprisingly similar to the inside part of a chocolate-covered cherry. (Cherry cordials are one of the Chop’s favorite things about Christmas, by the way.) That said, this drink goes really, really well with dark chocolate, so if you’ve got some lying around after the holidays, mixing up one of these is a great way to complement it after dinner, or if you’re in a diet, instead of dinner.

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Photo and more on amaretto at Liquor Snob.

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The Chop’s Holiday Egg Nog Cocktail Recipe

We like egg nog. We’ll make no apologies for that. If you’re one of these people who does not like egg nog, look at this, because that’s all we can do for you today.

For the rest of you, we’ve come up with a damn near perfect way to mix up an egg nog cocktail that’s actually thinner than pea soup, and tastes so good you might even drink more than one of them.

This recipe is guaranteed to have you feeling extra *jolly.*

As a bonus, this mix is a great way to use leftover coffee. We have leftover coffee in out home pot nearly every day (which doesn’t end up burnt and tarry because we bought a very good coffee maker) and we hate to see it go to waste, which it usually does.

The Chop’s Egg Nog Recipe

  1. 1 part liquor
  2. 1 part egg nog
  3. 1 part cold coffee
  4. a dash of simple syrup

Pour it all over ice and shake the hell out of it. Strain it over new ice. Swear at relatives, ruin Santa myths and topple Christmas trees accordingly.

Step 1 calls for “liquor” because you have a few choices here. We’ve tried this recipe with bourbon, brandy, and dark rum to good effect. Each base liquor is dramatically different, and although the Chop prefers bourbon the year round, our favorite take on this recipe was when it was mixed with the Kraken dark spiced rum.

Do not, we repeat, for the sake of the little baby Jebus at Christmastime do not use light rum, vodka, blended whiskey, or anything else that’s not a very sweet, very brown liquor. Bourbon, brandy, and dark rum… it’s all you want for Christmas.

Shake yourself up a few of these and the only worries you’ll have this holiday are remembering which wills you’re named in, and whether she’s you second cousin or your third cousin twice removed by marriage.

Happy Holidays.

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Best Bets: Compass Box Scotch Whiskies

Words like “craft” and “artisan” are thrown around much too freely these days. Everything we buy now has to have some grand, romantic story attached to it. From furniture to farmers’ markets, from apparel to accessories, stories sell. If you don’t know the name of the guy who made it and you can’t drop by his charming little Gepetto-style workshop on a whim, well, it’s just not worth having, is it? Of course, nowhere is this more true than at your local liquor store.

Let’s face it, wax seals and hand-written barrel numbers are the exact same thing as putting your vodka into a glass skull. It’s selling the bottle, not the spirit. (Although to be fair, there’s a lot of really good whiskies in some of those bottles, whereas all premium vodka is a joke.) In an era when every ultra-premium vodka has a celebrity pitchman, and every distiller in Kentucky is offering single barrel this and small batch that and putting the cute little hand-written batch numbers on the bottle, It can sometimes be hard to tell what’s inside, and whether it warrants its price tag. These days, everyone’s an artisan.

Spice Tree. The best way to warm up this winter.

John Glaser is an artisan. Take that statement for what it’s worth. Compass Box Whisky has a story. We’re not going to bother telling you the story. You can look it up on their site. It’s a lot of technical stuff about wood and blending and aging, which really is interesting if you’re into that sort of thing. What we are going to bother to do is to tell you that this stuff is really, really good.

Of the two lines that Compass Box produces, Signature and Limited Release, we’ve so far had a chance to try three different examples of their whisky. Each one was markedly different, but all were equally excellent. Bottles in the less expensive Signature line are generally available in the $35-$40 range, and compare favorably with bottles costing twice as much. To our palate, a Peat Monster is every bit as good as a Laphroaig, and We’d reach for an Oak Cross over a Glen-Whateveryoulike any day of the week. Seriously.

With Winter now firmly digging in, we’re in all-brown-liquor-all-the-time mode here at the Chophouse. We’re declaring Compass Box to be our house Scotch going forward, and by the time the Winter’s out we expect we’ll have three or four different bottles on hand. We suggest that when you head to the liquor store this weekend you go ahead and buy two or more bottles. They make a great holiday gift, but make sure to keep one for yourself.

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The Chop’s Cantonese Cookie Cocktail Recipe

First things first: since this is Baltimore, you can feel free to pronounce it ‘Duhmain d’Cant’n’. We really don’t think anyone’s going to call you on it, Hon. If they do look at you funny either for ordering it or for mispronouncing it… then fuck ’em. You’re in the wrong bar anyway.

Now then, you don’t need us to tell you how good Domaine de Canton is. Their website takes pains to tell you just how ‘Ultimate’ and ‘Extraordinaire’ and even ‘Fait a’la Main’ their product is. Fortunately for the rest of us, Boozeblogger translates that into ‘English, Motherfucker!’ and tells us it’s pretty good stuff.

We agree with their assessment, and recommend Domaine whether you’re at home or on the town. Any fan of B & B or Grand Marnier should feel right at home with this stuff. It is, however, a bit on the spicy side, and we doubt you’ll want to polish off the bottle by drinking it straight or on the rocks. There are a lot of great recipes on the Domaine site as well, although none of them are quite as simple, and probably not as tasty as ours.

The Cantonese Cookie

4 oz. Domaine de Canton

juice of half an orange

2-3 dashes blood orange bitters

Note that that says ‘juice of an orange’, and not orange juice. Bottled orange juice will not work for this drink. The bitters are important as well. It’s going to be much too sweet without them, and even with them sort of tastes like a fancy exotic cookie you’d get after your meal in an Asian restaurant. Mixed properly, this drink balances sweet and spicy perfectly. It’s ideal for fans of GM or the Sidecar, and like a Sidecar, it’s a good call year round.

Fucking magnifique, pardon our French.

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Speaking of fancy Asian restaurants, the Baltimore Sun’s Mobbies party is at RA Sushi on Tuesday, and if you can keep us on top of the Music/Nightlife category, we might just show up and buy you a Cantonese Cookie.

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