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

29 December 2014

The IBA Project: Margarita

I'm a margarita. Drink me.
Grandfather story:
  • The Margarita can be considered a Tequila Sour (Sour = base liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener), or a Tequila Sidecar (replacing cognac).
  • It could simply be a twist on the Daisy, (a classic long drink from the 1870s made with a base spirit, lemon juice, sugar or liqueur) - as Margarita is the Spanish word for daisy.
  • In a British cocktail publication called Café Royal Cocktail Book published in 1937, the author mentions a drink called a Picador, which lists its ingredients as tequila, Cointreau and lime juice (the exact same recipe as a margarita!)
  • The 1st official mention of Margarita in print in Dec 1953 was in the Esquire magazine with a quote "She’s from Mexico, Señores, and she is lovely to look at, exciting and provocative". The recipe called for an ounce (30ml) of tequila, a dash of triple sec and the juice of half a lime or lemon.
  • Like most cocktail histories, there are quite a number of people who have claimed to have invented it, and if you'd like to know, here they are:
    • Could have been created in 1930 by Doña Bertha, owner of Bertha's Bar in Taxco, Mexico (unlikely as Mexicans don't typically drink margaritas)
    • A Vernon Underwood, who had started distributing Cuervo Tequila in the 1930s may have went to Johnny Durlesser, head bartender of the Tail O' The Cock in LA, and asked him to create something using his spirit, then named it after his wife Margaret (Margarita).
    • Daniel (Danny) Negrete could have created the drink in 1936 when he was the manager of Garci Crespo Hotel in Puebla, Mexico for his girlfriend Margarita as a present.
    • Francisco 'Pancho' Morales, while working in a bar called Tommy's Place in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was asked to make a 'Magnolia' on the 4th July 1942, but couldn't remember it so created this drink.
    • Carlos 'Danny' Herrera created the cocktail either in 1947 or 1948 at his Rancho La Gloria bar in Rosarito, Mexico, for an actress called Marjorie King who drank only Tequila. He added Cointreau and lime, and the unique salt rim that caught people's attention at the bar, then named his creation Margarita, the Spanish for Marjorie.
    • A socialite Margaret Sames held a Christmas party in Acapulco, Mexico, in 1948, and created the first Margarita.

8 December 2014

Taste: The Arran Single Malt Whisky

All the Arrans Available in Malaysia.
Background:
  • Opened in 1995 - to put things in perspective, the oldest bottle that they technically can have today if barreled then is 19. So it is a relatively new distillery.
  • It is located at the East of the village of Lochranza at the North of the Isle of Arran. Yes, the whisky took after the island's name.
  • An independent distillery - ie privately owned and not owned by the big boys.
  • Founded by Chivas Brothers’ retiring managing director, Harold Currie.
  • The only malt whisky distillery on the Isle of Arran (since the last legally run distillery, ‘Lagg’, was closed in 1837... that's about 158 years ago!)
  • Water used in the distillery is sourced from Loch na Davie, supposedly home to the purest water in all of Scotland.
  • Its single malts are non-chill filtered, which means that it will cloud in a cooler temperature.

3 December 2014

The IBA Project: Mojito

The Mojito - my mum ony drinks this.
The Grandfather Story:
- Likely birthplace in Cuba.

- There are 2 versions of its origins, pick one you like:
1) In the 1500s, its original recipe was used as medicine to cure scurvy aboard Francis Drake's ship where he learnt it from the South Americans. It was made with firewater (crude form of rum), lime, sugarcane juice and mint.
2) Could've been created by African slaves working in the Cuban sugarcane fields in the 1800 where sugarcane juice was in abundance (but the recipe was without lime).

- The name itself could apparently be derived from:
1) Mojar, a Spanish verb suggesting wetness.
2) An African word 'mojo', meaning spell.
3) Mojo, a Cuban seasoning made from lime and used to flavour dishes.
4) Mojadito (Spanish for “a little wet”) or simply the diminutive of Mojado (“wet”).

24 November 2014

New: Haig Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky

Hi. I'm David Beckham. See how handsome I am. Drink my whisky And you might become handsome just like me.

So David Beckham graced us with his regal presence to launch a brand new whisky. Perhaps officially putting us down in the whisky map.. or not... but does it matter? Yes. Yes it does.

Most of the stuff you'll read about the local launch was unfortunately, mostly about David Beckham this and David Beckham that... hardly anything about the whisky, but I WANTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE WHISKY!

Truth be told, I'm not sure how Beckham or even Fuller is associated with whisky. But maybe I'm just silly like that. 

Anyhoo, I digress. To cut through the clutter, here is some info about the Haig Club whisky which I've compiled from international press releases & websites. You're welcome! 

19 November 2014

The IBA Project: Sazerac


The Sazerac cocktail with Cognac.
The Grandfather Story:
  • Originated around the 1830s. 
  • Could've been America's first known cocktail.
  • Antoine Peychauds was an apothecary from New Orleans who created the now famous Peychaud's bitters, was said to have created the original Sazerac for a cure, not as a cocktail.
  • The drink is named after its original base spirit, a cognac named Sazerac de Forge et Fils.
  • It was originally a cognac based cocktail, but it seems like rye whisky is the popular base now. 
  • The reason for the shift to rye whisky was either 1) cognac suddenly became scarce due to a bug problem or 2) American whiskey was readily available and very popular (and also very preferred by its local drinkers) so it was used in everything then.
Fun fact: In 2008, New Orleans proclaimed it to be its official cocktail.

5 November 2014

The IBA Project: Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan  here IS pink. Really. I've got bad lighting. 
The Grandfather Story:
There are too many versions of its origins - so you gotta take your pick as to which one you'd prefer to believe:
1) The Cosmopolitan Daisy, found in a bartending  book from the 1930s, could've been its ancestor. While a lot of the basic ingredients were not quite the same, the end product was characteristically what today's cosmo looked like. Jigger Gordons Gin, 2 Dashes Cointreau, Juice of one Lemon, Teaspoon Raspberry (syrup)
2) Ocean Spray printed its version of Cosmopolitan in the 1960s called the "Harpoon" to sell more of its juice: 2 oz. cranberry, 1 oz. vodka or light rum or gin, over the rocks or tall with soda, with an optional splash of lime or lemon.
3) Apparently it was created by the gay community in the 1970s, by adding cranberry juice into a kamikaze.

2 November 2014

New: Kilchoman Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

3 Kilchoman beauties in a row: Machir Bay, 100% Islay & Loch Gorm

The guys at Single & Available organised a couple of tastings to introduce this really new label into the Malaysian market.

First, we learned that Kilchoman is actually pronounced as Kil-HO-man. Must be a Gaelic thing?

Secondly, Peter Willis, who came all the way from Scotland to take us through the tasting, is actually the SON of one of the co-founders.

Isn't it awesome when these companies take some time off their busy worldly schedules to spare a few moments for this tiny insignificant market? This drinker appreciates it very much! :)

So Kilchoman is practically still a baby. The distillery began production in 2005 - it's just about 9 years old this year!

29 October 2014

The IBA Project: Caipirinha

A wild Caipirinha!
The Grandfather Story:
  • Caipirinha is derived from the Portuguese word - caipira (hick, hayseed, country bumpkin, rube...) and "inha" suffix (a word meaning little or small).
  • Its beginnings can be traced back to around 1918.
  • It is Brazil's national cocktail and it is drank anytime, anywhere.
  • The ancestor of this drink was  a mix of lemon, garlic, honey - supposedly used as cure for the Spanish flu (still used for colds today). 

21 October 2014

The IBA Project: Bacardi

The Bacardi Cocktail
The Grandfather Story:
The cocktail has been around since 1917 and made popular in the USA. The Daiquiri was actually the original Bacardi cocktail which became popular after Prohibition. But when bars ran out of Bacardi, bartenders made the cocktail with whatever rum they had in store. 

This displeases Bacardi a whole lot. So Bacardi said, enough is enough, and took matters to court. In 1936, the Bacardi cocktail was copyrighted. The ruling states that an authentic Bacardi cocktail must be made with using only Bacardi rum. Bacardi then decided to modify the original daiquiri recipe and added some Grenadine to make it THE Bacardi cocktail just to differentiate it from the daiquiri.

Fun fact: Bacardi is Cuban by birth, but it is not longer considered "Cuban" rum as it's not found in Cuba anymore as it moved its operation out in 1960 (this in itself, is a history lesson). Did you know that the Bacardi brand has been around since 1862? Well, now you do!

14 October 2014

Launch: Affligem is Here!

Selamat datang, Affligem.

Kudos to GAB for bringing in a new beer, yeay! It's so nice to see them venture out of their Guinness and Tiger comfort zone. :p

Affligem is brought in by Heineken, which is part of GAB in Malaysia. Heineken actually has a slew of international and regional brands under its umbrella. Don't believe me? Check it out on wikipedia. Don't believe wikipedia? How about verifying it on the official Heineken international website.

10 October 2014

Kirin Glamping Post-Event Report

(Warning, this is a picture heavy post. With loads of horribly taken pictures.)

Kirin ran a promotion through the month of September whereby with any purchase of their beer, you get a chance to participate in something called "Glamping" on 3 October.

Drink more Kirin.

If you're not too familiar with what Glamping means, it's actually a marriage of 2 words - glamorous and camping. So it's a form of camping where you spend some time away from the comforts of your own home in a sort of a retreat (mostly in the forest or nature reserve, like camping lah), but you don't forgo any luxuries like electricity, plumbing, the internet. etc (hence, glamorous).

2 October 2014

The IBA Project: Gin Fizz

A  happy glass of  Gin Fizz
The Grandfather Story:
One of the oldest classic drinks originating from the late 1800s. A Fizz is pretty much a cocktail (the base spirit could be a gin, whiskey, brandy or vodka) which contains carbonated water and citrus. The Gin Fizz is actually a variation of the John Collins (also an IBA cocktail) - the only difference between these two cocktails is that John Collins is served in a highball glass with ice, and the Ginz Fizz is served in a chilled tumbler ( a smaller glass than a highball), without ice.

Strength:
Not strong. Sour and carbonated, it actually tastes like lemonade ... with alcohol.

29 September 2014

The 2014 Oktoberfest Is Upon Us!


Yums!
More Yums!
What is Oktoberfest? It's technically a 16-day festival running from end September to early October. Historically, it originated as a celebration of the wedding between King Ludwig 1 and Princess Therese of Saxony back in 1810 in Munich, Bavaria.

Fastforward to today and what does that mean to us?  We're in Malaysia and that's thousands of miles away from Germany! Well, really, it's just an awesome nearly-month-long excuse to drink and party with awesome German beer and food. :)

9 September 2014

The IBA Project: Daiquiri

The Daiquiri
The Grandfather Story:
Supposedly created by an American engineer in the late 1800s and named after a beach near Santiago, Cuba. The original recipe specifically calls for BACARDI rum and recipe is as follows (for 6 pax):
juice of 6 lemons
6 teaspoons of sugar
6 Bacardi cups
2 small cups of water
plenty of crushed ice
Yes, those Tex-Mex ice blended, sickly sweet (more like diabetes inducing!), fruity versions which we are all too familiar with are basically bastardisations variations of the original recipe.

This is Hemingway's favourite drink. Legend has it that he goes through 12 glasses in a sitting (citation required). He liked it so much he created his own version aptly named after himself which has added maraschino and grapefruit juice, and even more rum (because he was a known alcoholic), with no sugar (because he was diabetic).

2 September 2014

The IBA Project: Quick Intro, Between the Sheets

For a (lengthy) background of this project: check out  this post from back in 2013 <shy>. If you read or watch movies, this is akin to the Julie & Julia project. Except instead of French food, I'm learning to make cocktails, my name is not Julie and and I'm not following recipes created by Julia, and I have no plans to create a book .... or a movie. So .... wait, actually... it's actually.... NOTHING like the Julie & Julia project, hehe.

TLDR:  I'm on a quest to re-create a bunch of cocktail recipes.

I've been wanting to do this for ages but never really gotten around to doing it because of 1) the amount of research I have to do 2) the effort it takes to experiment with the different variations tfor each cocktail and finding one that I personally liked 3) just getting the ingredients for the whole list of 77 cocktails is a huge obstacle in terms of cost and - Eg: recipe calls for rum? what brand? what age? dark or light? where do I buy it? Can die right?

<cue: this is where you, my kind and generous good Samaritans, come in offering to donate me some bottles for a good cause!>

But enough of excuses. I'm gonna embark on this right now. A journey of a thousand steps begins with a single step. So here is the single step:

Between the Sheets


26 August 2014

Kirin Beer, Kirin 18 years old Single Malt & Chichibu The Peated

Had the enormous luck to have had the opportunity to sample these 3 Japanese beauties. My thoughts as follows (need to profusely apologise for the lack of quality of these photos. taken from a phone with bad lighting and zero photo skills. Bad blogger, bad blogger!):

1. Kirin Ichiban Beer
Image credit: Kirin Malaysia FB Page
This was quietly introduced last year by our friendly neighbourhood brewery, GAB (Guiness Anchor Berhad) and I believe the brand was re-launched this year in April 2014.

Kirin Ichiban, simply translated means Kirin No. 1. This basically means that when the beer is brewed, only the FIRST (hence, No.1!) extraction of the product is bottled - which is usually the least unadulterated. You can read about brewing beer here, should you like to geek out a little bit more.

This is the first time I've had a taste of Kirin. I've had experience with Sapporo and Asahi before (which I both enjoy) but Kirin, while less crisp & refreshing (than the Asahi, for the sake of comparing) is smooth, satisfying, full-bodied and less dry.

This beer is love at first taste. If you've never really had a fondness for lager (specifically this in the style of American Pale Ale Lager) before, you might change your mind with this. 

The biggest drawback for me (be forewarned) is the price of this bottle at the outlet. The pub I visited charged me a really painful RM20++ per 330ml bottle. I'm pretty sure you're able to get at your local hypermarket for much less. 

I believe we only get the bottles and cans for now, and at 5.0% ABV, I believe it is available at your local stores and favourite drinking places. :)

Found out more on kirinichiban.com.my


12 August 2014

Deconstruction of the Glenfiddich 15 year old Solera Vat

A pretty bottle of Glenfiddich 15 Solera Vat
Glenfiddich and I, we go way back.

Glenfiddich 12 was the first single malt whisky I've ever tasted and it totally turned my world upside down. Back then, the only way I knew how to drink whiskey was to drown it with Coke... you know, to chase away the "cockroach" taste (okay, to qualify this statement - I didn't enjoy drinking 10 years ago. Back then, my business was with Coke [the carbonated drink] and the dance floor #truestory)

It wasn't until I had a taste of that liquid heaven in my mouth. OH MY GOD! I never knew liquor could taste so good. It would change my mind towards whisky forever. It was so smooth, so sweet. So mind boggling. I mean, how could something as strong as 40% ABV taste so good? You see, Glenfiddich 12 was in the rage at some point back then. It was practically the single malt that started it all (in Malaysia, at least).  Glenfiddich 12 gave me a one way roller coaster ticket into this whole new fantastical world of whisky. So I packed my bags, hopped on, and never turned back.

Fast forward to now - when I received an invite to attend a Deconstruction Tasting Event of the Glenfiddich 15 years old - how could I say no? Glenfiddich was my first love I never got over. I've tried so many others but I would never forget my first love...... Then suddenly, after not being in touch for too long, this first love decides to call me up one day out of the blue, asking me for a meet up. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity faster than you could blink.

Oh boy. It was a treat.

6 January 2014

Back and Bad

Ok so 2013 wasn't so great for this blog. But 2014 will be better. I've promised myself to update this blog at least once a week, and bring back the IBA project to the best of my abilities. 

Spending nearly one year working in the liquor industry made me realise a couple of things
1) I still get excited over new drinks , new bars, new ideas, new tastes.....
2) I still enjoy my drinks - but I'm done drinking just to get high or drunk. I drink to enjoy the flavour..... Getting high is just the side effects. :)

That job also made me slightly sick of drinking those local watered-down beer on tap, those common (probably fake) whiskies and horribly made overpriced cocktails. So. With whatever opportunity given to me, I intend to highlight awesome stuff - cocktails, bars, bartenders, exciting brands, share with you some DIYs... Especially DIYs. Why? Because when you realise how easy to make simple cocktails, and how CHEAP it is to make it tastier and stronger for a fraction of the price you pay for at so-called "happening" bars, you would never want to go to those places again. 

But there are SOME bars that I believe, are still worth visiting, where the bartenders actually care about their craft and the quality of the exciting drinks they make, were the ambience is cosy and just right for chit chat with a friend or two. Those I would love to go again and again, if my bank account allows me. Damn this place for making drinking so expensive.

So Hello 2014. :)