The Booze Blog - Alcohol, Bars, Malaysia and Beyond.

28 July 2015

Insta Weekly: Ice cubes - Homemade Cocktails - National Tequila & Daiquir Day - Whisky! Whee!

So I "predicted" before that events would be slow during the fasting and Raya months ... and I've been right so far. :)

Not complaining  though - it gives me more time at night to practice making drinks and experimenting with stuff like below:

1. Made: Cheapskate giant ice cubes

I keep wishing my ice didn't melt so fast, diluting my shaken cocktails too quickly while not chilling it fast enough. Large ice blocks would fix that. I've been pinning for those expensive silicon extra large ice cube molds available on Amazon for years. But it was very difficult for me to be enthusiastic about forking out RM20 bucks + RM40 insane delivery charges just for some rubber-substitute ice trays. 

So this was my cheapskate solution:

Freeze boiled water in the see-through plastic containers that restaurateurs like to use when you takeaway your food with the lid on. I had to actually do it twice - starting with a half a layer first, letting it freeze, then adding a second layer. I do this so that the middle of the block freezes up properly. Once frozen, knock it out and cut them up to size.

Verdict: IT TOTALLY WORKS. sure it's ugly, BUT IT WORKS. The larger blocks of ice takes a REALLY LONG TIME to melt. SO HAPPY. Cost = FREE. #fixedit

You can even use this in place of those ice balls that everyone's clamouring to get their hands on. Ok what, it's rustic and made with your very own bare hands!

P/s: Also made happier to read reviews that the silicone trays also has a smell which transfers to the ice after awhile. So glad I didn't buy them in the end. :)

2. Made: Mizuwari, Sazerac, Sidecar

I keep making this but I've never been able to make a Mizuwari just like how it's describe in this Bartender anime, as if it's the most refreshing life-changing thing which soothes even the weariest of souls. To me, it just tastes like, cold, over-diluted whisky la. I enjoy it, but it's nothing like how the anime described it. 

Using a chilled highball, I chuck in ice blocks, stir 1 shot of my whisky 12 times, add cold water, stir it another few times anticlockwise, lift the ice up so that the liquid mix and serve. So what am I not doing right? HELP!

Tried making the Sazerac cocktail using Rittenhouse rye whiskey and Peychaud's bitters - what a great combination! The rye whiskey is sweeter than your usual Bourbon so I didn't even need to put in much syrup. The aftertaste of absinthe wash is pleasant and unmistakable, with my mouth being coated with its milky sensation. I think I'm really learning to enjoy this with lighter bourbons and rye.

Revisited another classic, the Sidecar. I forgot how strong it was until I read the recipe: 2 cognac :1 triple sec :1 lemon juice + squeeze of lemon peel. 2 shots of brandy man, it doesn't taste maddeningly strong because of the cointreau and fresh lemon juice... until it's too late and you feel woozy afterwards.

All drinks last week were made with my cheapskate ice cubes - it worked a treat!

3. #NationalDaiquiriDay & #NationalTequilaDay

19 July was Daiquiri Day and 24 July was Tequila day (which I celebrated belatedly with a margarita). If you were wondering what the origins are and how it came about - it's just marketing and an excuse for imbibers all over the world to stand united to imbibe and hashtag the crap out of each other. :)

This time, my Daiquiri was made with 2.5 shots of Havana Club rum (though evidently, the original version uses Bacardi Superior, but I ran out of it), 1 shot fresh lime (very important that it is fresh, not cordial, 2-3 limes should do it), 1/2 shot syrup (2 sugar : 1 water). Since it's much stronger than usual, I serve it with ice cubes so that I can take my time to enjoy it.... Coz Daiquiri's typically served in a cocktail glass straight up, by the way.

So I've mentioned before that the diabetes-inducing, fruity, colourful slushy daiquiris you get at the tex mex are basically a bastardisation of the original thing - which is already quite perfect to begin with.

Perfectly balanced and refreshing, completely unassumingly strong. Yes it's supposed to be strong - how can it not be, since it's Hemingway's favouritest cocktail ever?

You know, I still haven't got my Margarita right. It should be one of the easiest thing to learn since it's essentially just tequila, lime juice and syrup. But sadly I still can't seem to get it as delicious as the tex mex restaurants do it (think la carrethas, la frontera). 

The ones I have outside are always smooth, the agave isn't vulgarly overpowering... but sometimes it does get a little sweet. Maybe it's the 1800 tequila I'm using. It does tend to have a sharper agave taste and a rougher bite on the tongue (the blanco even more - I'm already using a reposado this time). I'll try it again with other tequilas next time and see.

Both drinks I made using my cheapskate ice cubes - LIKE A CHARM IT WORKS. SO HAPPY. OH MY GOD.

4. Whiskies Galore!

Oops. Another accidental whisky tasting party happened. :P

The Kininvie 17 was my least favourite of all. It was spicy, grassy and a little alcohol-ly (it's not even a word, I know, sorry) for my delicate palate. But others who tried it, like it - so it's probably just me.

Gouden Carolus Single Malt is actually made with the mash of the Gouden Carolus Tripel beer from the Brouwerij Het Anker brewery in Mechelen, by Belgium's 1st whisky distillery, Stokerij De Molenberg. All of which I know nothing about and had just learned about using Google at time of writing. :p It had a scent that reminded me of a cross between a flowery perfume and soap. Tasted young, but for a 3 year old, it's something different to surprise your palate with.

GlenDronach Allardice Bottling Note - saved that for the last, because I was a little intimidated purely by its colour alone, which reminded me of soya sauce or sesame oil. At once, you'd know it's from the sherry cask and it easily had the best scent. Tasted heavy, tasty, with a long, dry finish you sherry heads absolutely love.

The Irishman is typically Irish. Smells very good, fruity, upfront, very light in the mouth, with no finish.

I reached out for the Gordon & Macphail most - it was such an easy, breezy, light, tasty everyday-drnking dram. You won't feel "jelak" (bored) even after umpteen drams.

The Master Distillers Reserve - Small Batch is quintessentially Glenlivet. The smell kinda reminds me of its 15... fruity, quite easy to drink with some spice in its short finish. Each batch carries a unique number and released throughout the year. This makes part of the  "Master Distiller's" NAS range which is set to replace the 12,15, & 18 in travel retail. I missed the Guardian's launch event for this, sniff, so didn't get to try these other 2:
1. Master Distiller’s Reserve - the entry level expression, and supposedly very value for money (about USD50ish per litre)
2. Master Distiller’s Reserve Solera Vatted - liquid from ex-sherry, American oak and traditional oak casks are mixed into the Solera Vat, which is never empty. 
On a separate occasion, I had the The Arran Malt Cask Strength 12 years at home. I've forgotten how yummy it was. I'm going to put my neck out there and declare that this, THIS is my favourite 12 year old to-date! Maybe the 53.6% ABV had a part to play in it, giving it the additional OOMPH, that syrupy mouthfeel that most 12s lack because of how young it is. Just when you think you're done, the heat from the spiciness comes in - SURPRISE! I highly, highly recommend this, and I believe it's (still) not too expensive at all!

Well then, as usual - until next week, be safe!

Insta Weekly is a weekly summary of boozy updates from my with the hashtag #angeltini. Feel free to follow me if you enjoy daily updates on booze, food and other random stuff by a girl from Malaysia. Cheers!

20 July 2015

Insta Weekly: Homemade cocktails - Launch of Hana @ Sunway Pyramid - 0% ABV beer - Gin Madness.

Last week I had an insightful conversation with a very famous wedding photographer who happened to be a very old friend of mine. He said I should really work on improving my photography skills if I wanted to take this content generating thing seriously. Because more often than not, it seemed that I don't put in enough effort into the composition of my photos - and readers these days, they love a good picture over wall-of-texts posts any day. 

Can't say that he doesn't have a point (double negative!). If it wasn't true, Instagram, Facebook sharing, and Pinterest wouldn't be as popular as it is now. And thanks to Twitter, I'm inclined to think that if a post is > 140 characters, no ones attention span can take it anymore.

Thing is, I'm one of those old-generation bloggers who's used to rambling on and on and on.... and old habits die hard. 

So what I really really want to know from you is this:
1. Do really good DSLR-quality pictures matter?
2. Do pictures matter more than words?
3. Long posts are okay, or just keep it short like Twitter?
4. Do you need a good combination of decently okay pictures with some accompanying drivel?

Because if it's #4, I hope I'm already complying by leaving you with Insta Weekly updates like this one:

1. Homemade cocktails of the week - Rum Punch & Canadian Club Old Fashioned. 

Growing up, I'm sure you've heard and drank all sorts of "punch"es - it's basically a beverage (could be alcoholic or not) made with fruits or juice. I remember growing up seeing my mum serving her party punch mix in that big glass punch bowl which I only get to see at big parties - it's usually made of sweet liquid and lots of canned fruits.

Evidently, cocktail punches are also considered a classic and something of a must-know should you wish to impress friends at parties. So for a start, I tried making a Rum Punch, following a recipe from my go-to drinks encyclopedia. It's very simple - just rum, bitters, lime juice, syrup. How hard is it to mess up, right?

On the right is my attempt to make a canadian club Old Fashioned with orange bitters to see the difference vs a fresh orange peel. To be honest, it can work. I mean, otherwise how do those guys in Mad Men always get an old fashioned at anytime of the day (Yes I realise it's just tv) without a fresh orange at hand right? But if I had a choice, an orange peel will always be my go-to. Nothing really beats the fragrance of a freshly squeezed orange peel. 

And yes, I have finally watched some Mad Men (last month). Yes I do know how much Canadian Club was featured like mad on that series but I already like it even before I watched the show! Canadian Club does make a really decent Old Fashioned (but you must cut down on the sugar by a lot!). Sweet & smooth, it even drinks well on its own. With that insane price at duty free, why don't you already have one in your liquour cabinet?

2. Launch of Hana Dining & Sake Bar @ Sunway Pyramid.

Bad News: Brussels at Sunway Pyramid is no more.

Good News: The lot is now taken over by this very popular Taiwanese restaurant/bar which specializes in Japanese fusion food. In Taiwan, it goes by a different name of 花酒藏 A-Plus 日式和風創意料理 (totally copied and pasted that). With 130 types of sakes, it's one of the biggest sake bars in Taiwan.

As usual, I will dedicate a full blog post about this soon enough. But meanwhile, I must tell you that the food's quite affordable and at very decent portions if you go for the group set menu (for 4 pax , 6 pax...) and they currently serve, wine, Carlsberg's slew of beer offerings and have about 30 odd sakes at the brand new Sunway outlet... which they promise they will expand once they find their feet.

For more:
For the original Taiwan branch: 花酒藏 A-Plus 日式和風創意料理

3. 0% ABV Beer

When I first came across these, I was outraged! WHAT IS THE POINT RIGHT?

But a good friend who is quite familiar with the Japanese culture schooled me about it and I kind of understand its purpose in the world.

Apparently, the Japanese, being the over-accommodating and polite race that they are, will never let you drink alone at a social gathering - especially at business meetings. So as not to make the guest(s) feel awkward drinking alone,  the host would accompany the imibibing guest with a can of fake beer. This way, they are "seen" drinking & giving face, while not having to get home drunk and hungover next day for work. Totally made sense to me.

Upon further online reading, it's also meant to target people who want to enjoy malt drinks without the alcohol. Perhaps something akin to our local Nutrimalt I suppose? 

For shits and giggles, I got the Sapporo and Asahi to try. Truth be told, the Sapporo wasn't too bad. It was like, flat beer, just lacking that kick, but very palatable. I'm guessing Asahi should be about the same (shall update this bit once I try it). But at close to RM9? If I have to accompany you for drinks and I'm trying take it easy - give me a proper beer, whisky highball or a mizuwari any day.

4. More awesome gins to try!

Some really special stuff we got to try last weekend: Portobello Road Gin, BUSS N°509 Pink Grapefruit, No Ordinary Gin - NOG!, Vor Icelandic gin, Dictador Premium Colombian Aged Gin - Treasure, G'Vine.

Mentions: All of them were great. But - Portobello was so smooth, Buss had a lovely fragrant, delicious grapefruit notes and the Colombian has that unmistakable aged character you can't ignore. 

And to pair with all that? Fever Tree Tonic. Oh so much LOVE. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE between this and the usual brands we find off the supermarket. Sigh. Of course, there'll be a bigger dent  on your wallet too la! :(

Until next week, drink safe!

Insta Weekly is a weekly summary of boozy updates from my with the hashtag #angeltini. Feel free to follow me if you enjoy daily updates on booze, food and other random stuff by a girl from Malaysia. Cheers!

12 July 2015

Insta Weekly: A Really Special Whisky Tasting Session - DIY Old Fashioned - Troika Sky Dining Bars - Souled Out

The best drinking times are not the ones with the best locations or the best drinks (though those are nice to have) but are the ones shared with great company. It's a privilege to share some good times with old friends and a pleasure of making new ones through such sessions. Bonus is when I get to try and learn new stuff along the way. So here's a shout out to all of you for spending your good times with me at these events below, the ones before and the ones that will be coming our way. Yam seng!

1. Tasting Some Stuff I Can't Afford. :(

We had the utmost privilege of meeting up with Eiling and  Luc Timmermans (of Thosop fame), both of whom are internationally-famous independent bottlers, for a whisky tasting party at their recent Malaysia visit. During these sessions, we bring some of our more down-to-earth stuff to taste and compare with Eiling & Luc's stuff of legends. Our palates get spoilt rotten and our lives are never the same again everytime we see them.  <3

5 July 2015

Insta Weekly: Green Spot Irish Whiskey - Jura Whisky Fling - Torres Vina Sol - Hip Flask

So, the holy month of Ramadhan is upon us. This means that a lot of the brands are taking a break from their marketing and events leading up to Raya. On top of that, beverage outlets would also traditionally face a drop in sales for the month. Not sure why that happens though, go figure!

The good thing about this though, is less late night outs, and more nights in to catch up on some sleep and home mixing & tasting. :) See what I got up to last week:

1. Green Spot Irish Whiskey

Found this gem at my last Labuan trip. It's a very easy everyday dram. Irish whiskey has this common nose - usually perfumey and /or fruity and very agreeable in the mouth, without the usual burn or oakiness so prevalent in Scotch. Green Spot is aged between 7-10 years,  matured in bourbon and sherry casks. I love it. I wish I got MORE of it.

2 July 2015

Insta Weekly: 44 Bar The Row - DIY Cocktails: GnT, Manhattan & Jungle Bird - Janice of O+A - Labuan & Kota Kinabalu.

Oops. Last week's insta weekly report's late because I spent the last weekend travelling across Labuan and Kota Kinabalu, which I'll tell you about once you get past my other equally-exciting boozy adventures of the week, hehe.

1. 44 Bar's Found a New Temporary Home @ The Row, Kuala Lumpur

Left: Juicy fruity Tango Mango. Middle: Kick-ass Bottle Aged Cocktails. Right: Potential crowd favourite: Donkey Kick

The 44 Bar that we know and love (previously ex-APW) has popped up at The Row along Jalan Doraisamy. The Row may sound unfamiliar to you - but how about its former name - Asian Heritage Row? That's right, The Row IS a souped up ex-Asian Heritage Row filled with new third wave cafes, quaint eateries and other instagram-genic shops that hipsters would love.

24 June 2015

Kampachi Sake Dinner Series feat. Izumibashi Sake

The 4 beautiful Izumibashi bottles in a row
Kampachi  celebrated Izumibashi brewery's first visit to Malaysia with a dinner series that took place in Troika last 16 June &  in their outlet at Equatorial Penang on 17 June.

The 9-course Japanese kaiseki menu, created by Kampachi's Executive Chef, Koji Tamaru, featured seasonal seafood sourced directly from Japan. The meal was to be paired with 4 Izumibashi sakes.

We were also graced by the presence of 6th generation brewery founder/owner, Yuichi Hashiba & sake sommelier, Shigeyuki Masaki, who imparted some nuggets of knowledge about the brand and sake. Who knew that there was such a thing as a sommelier for sake? And how do I apply? :)

22 June 2015

Insta Weekly: World Gin Day, Kampachi dinner feat. Izumibashi Sake, P&C Bar, French Martini, Whiskey Sour

I'd like to share with you something interesting that happened to me last week.

I was at a bar for a quiet drink and bumped into some friends who knew that I enjoyed mixing drinks at home. Everyone was having fun and had quite a bit to drink... eventually I was asked to make a drink at the bar. Much to my reluctance, I did agree, but only after the bartender agreed to it as well.

Thinking back, I wondered how I could have handle that situation better. So many things could have gone wrong (since it wasn't a bar I was familiar with, and I'm actually not a bartender), but thankfully it didn't! Anyway, this experience made me realise a few things:

1. I really do enjoy working behind an actual bar - it's still such a thrill. How do I do something about that which is more feasible for my bank account? :P
2. I need to improve my mixing skills and confidence.
3. I need to learn up a wider repertoire of cocktail recipes.
4. I need to find a secret hide-away bar to drink in. :P
5. Don't get tipsy in a bar, just in case I ever get another opportunity like this again - since my "reputation" is at stake here haha!

That being said. Thank you all for the opportunity. You all know who you are! :)

So what else happened last week?

20 June 2015

Glenfiddich's Valley Of The Deer Post-Event Report

(warning: picture heavy post)

Short of uprooting it from Dufftown, Glenfiddich replicated its distillery in Carcosa Seri Negara for 4 days from 27- 30 May 2015 to share the experience of an average working day there.  If you've never been to an actual distillery, this tour was a good representation. Also, it's probably THE biggest event of its kind in South East Asia!

Everyone was there. The who's who, the who who wants to be who, the has-beens, the wannabes, and of course people who were genuinely interested to see what a distillery could look like, because they actually took the trouble to purchase tickets.

Carcosa Seri Negara, Kuala Lumpur, turned into a make-shift distillery and bar for 4 days.

15 June 2015

Insta Weekly: Diageo Worldclass Malaysia Finals, Tuak from Sarawak, Taps Beer Bar, Vom Fass Whisk(e)y Tasting, Glenlivet 50 Finale, Kitshcy French Wine.

Last week was filled with celebrations!

- celebrated 4 very talented bartenders who were chosen to represent Malaysia in one of the biggest bartending competitions in the planet.

- celebrated the winning bidders who bade a record-breaking RM96k for a bottle of rare 50 year old...whisky (hehe).

- celebrated a pair of good friends' baby's 1 year old birthday, where family and close friends got together to over-indulge in an awesome home-cooked BBQ meal... with some awesome drams of course.

- and celebrated the relocation of this wonderful, wonderful bread shop with some delicious wines.

What I'm trying to say is, there's always a cause for celebration. And those causes are usually the greatest reasons for a good drink... or two.... ;)

1. Diageo Reserve World Class Finals @ The Bee, Publika. 

8 June 2015

Insta Weekly: Martin Miller's Gin, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Whisky Fling @ S&A, Revisiting WIP, Ippudo's new Geikkeikan Sake, Negroni Week @ Hyde, Nikka Taketsuru 12

Man, after last week, I thought I would go easy on the drinking and whiskies but apparently, I'm made of tougher (and more idiotic lol) stuff. This week's summary is a little late because I just came back from spending the weekend in Melaka for a friend's wedding which was also a great excuse to stuff my face with food along the way (sorry about all that food spam on my insta today lol).

I love Chinese banquet weddings. Bonus if the first four (out of 8, usually) dishes tastes really good (usually the appetiser, soup, white meat & fish) because I'm usually too stuffed to have anymore (after that it's commonly the prawns, vegetables, rice and dessert). Even bigger bonus if there's loads of booze about - this one had a whole lot of beer, wine and whiskies. Back in the day (I'd say about 10-15 years) ago - chinese banquet dinners predominantly featured brandy and at the most, blended scotch. These days? Single malt and Japanese whiskies are all the rage. Attending a chinese wedding dinner is really a good gauge of what the current beverage trend is. :)

Had this at O&A last week. Hmm, seems like I'm really into my gins now. :D This one tastes like it's in between your london dry & botanicals. Stuff like this reminds me why I love the beverage industry so much. You think you've tried a lot and then something new comes along to surprise you. I wish I could easily get one of these but unfortunately, it's not easy to get, and also in the premium category like your Botanist (which is already RM2XX duty free, by the way). I think I will invest in more gins, while the whole region is still mad with their whisky. Rums too. Once, the whisky craze dies down, it's likely we'll take to rum or gin. Let's see. :)