7 Disney Springs Bars – Disney World

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We all know that Disney World is a wonderful place for everyone of all ages but did you know that Disney Springs has many unique bars?  My family first traveled to Disney World for many years with our children and now we go sometimes with our children and grandchildren. But since our children are now grown, my wife and I have visited Disney more often as just a couple. We have as much fun as we did with the children, but in different ways!

So often, visiting Disney can be a blur of trying to see everything at the various parks. Without proper planning, one can easily end up standing in line for long periods of time and rushing everywhere. However, the Disney World resorts can offer adults a wide variety of activities at a much slower pace. These can include the fabulous swimming pools, golf courses, shopping, restaurants, and of course, bars.

One of great things about Disney is the vast number of bars that are all around the various parks and, in particular, Disney Springs. This sprawling complex of restaurants, shops, and bars used to be named Downtown Disney. Disney Springs is now several times larger than before. If you have not been to Disney Springs within the last three years, you will be amazed at the changes. And they are continuing to expand with more restaurants and bars coming soon!

There are so many bars within Disney World that it would be difficult to discuss all of them within a blog post. But here are some at Disney Springs that I believe would be of interest.

Boathouse-Bar

Boathouse Bar at Disney Springs

The Boathouse Indoor and Outdoor Bars-Disney Springs

The Boathouse is a wonderful bar and eatery that is operated by the famed Chicago restaurant Gibson’s. The bar as well as the restaurant is nautical themed with boats and outboard motors everywhere. Most of the entire building is built over water and it is meant to look like an old boathouse.

The indoor bar is double sided and is quite large. Tables abound all around the bar along with comfortable bar stools. I like that on most days the doors stay open so you have a nice breeze coming through. There are televisions on both sides of the bar for keeping track of your favorite sports.

The outdoor bar is adjacent to the restaurant and you enter by a long deck. Again, there are comfortable bar stools and tables that are all around the bar and the tables extend to a lower level where a number of antique boats, many wooden, are there for viewing. This bar has a very high cathedral ceiling that is all white wood. The views from the bar are of the lake and those wonderful antique boats. In addition to these boats, the Boathouse is where the amphi cars are launched. These cars can be driven on land and can become boats as they float and have propellers. They were built in Germany and there are very few left in the world. I believe there are about seven here at The Boathouse. You can watch the boats launch from the outdoor bar and see them in action on the lake. Both bars serve your favorite drinks and provide a wonderful atmosphere that is unique.

Dockside-Bar-Boathouse

Dockside Bar at The Boathouse

Antique-Boats-Boathouse

Antique Boats at The Boathouse

Amphicar-Boathouse

Amphicar at The Boathouse

The Polite Pig Bourbon Bar at Disney Springs

Bourbon is my choice of drink and this new bar does not disappoint.   It has a wide selection of bourbons and you can purchase different flights. I counted about 70 different bourbons. It has a very hard to find bourbon, Elmer T. Lee. I have not been able to find that bourbon in my state at a liquor store for over a year. The bar is round and part of the bar extends so that it is outside. I found that to be very unique. The atmosphere is bustling and the bartenders were friendly. They serve small batch cocktails that can be purchased as a single drink or in pitchers. The food it serves include BBQ, ribs, chicken, and a wide variety of sides dishes.

Polite-Pig-Bourbon-Bar

The Polite Pig  Bourbon Bar

Polite-Pig-Bourbon-Menu

The Polite Pig Bourbon Menu

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Raglan Road is a fantastic Irish bar and restaurant. In fact, the two large indoor bars were shipped from Ireland to this location at Disney Springs. It is a very large area inside with several sections, and stage for the band and the Irish dancers.   One bar is double sided with dark wood and mosaic columns. The other bar is dark as well and is a very long bar. The music is mainly Irish when we have visited and is highly entertaining.

Raglan-Road-Entrance

Raglan Road Entrance

Raglan-Road-Bar

Raglan Road Bar

 

Raglan-Road-Long-Bar

Raglan Road Long Bar

Additionally, they have an outdoor bar and seating area called the Tonsil Tickler. They have entertainment there as well as inside. There is a great selection of Irish whiskeys as well as American standard favorites. They have some Irish themed drinks that include a Bailey’s Shake, Irish Iced Tea and a Dublin Donkey.

Raglan-Road-Outdoor-Bar

Raglan Road Outdoor Bar

Paradiso 37

Paradiso 37 is a restaurant and bar that features the best food of the 37 countries located in the Americas. It has a soaring ceiling that highlights the tall glass shelves of the bar. It is famous for its tequila bar that has over 30 different tequilas.   They also, tout their 29 degree beer which they say is the world’s coldest. As Orlando can get very hot, I say this is a terrific place for a beer! Their location has a great view of the lake, too.

Pardesio-37

Paradisio 37

Paradiso-37

Paradiso 37

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar

This bar and restaurant is named after Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Indiana Jones, pilot, Jock Lindsey. The building is shaped like an old fashioned airplane hanger. It has all kinds of airplane themes including ceiling fans that are propellers. Outside it has another bar and a boat named after Jock’s pet snake, Reggie.

Hangar-Bar-Entrance

Hangar Bar Entrance

The bar features many different cocktails. One is called Reggie’s Revenge and there is bottle and draft beer. Make sure to visit this interesting bar while at Disney Springs.

Hangar-Bar-Interior

Hangar Bar Interior

 Coming Soon-Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar has been in the works for a couple of years. What was only rumors a couple of years ago is now coming to fruition. What used to be called Pleasure Island and The Landing had utilidors, short for utility corridors. These were service tunnels similar to the ones at The Magic Kingdom that are used to take away trash and service the various sites.

Entrance-Enzo's-Hideaway-From-Maria-Enzo's-Ristorante

Entrance to Enzo’s Hideaway From Maria Enzo’s Ristorante

It is now going to be used as a speakeasy that makes use of the tunnel that will connect this bar to Maria and Enzo’s. The bar was inspired by Roman aperitivo bars. The back-story is the tunnels were used by rum runners. It will serve Prohibition style drinks. I know I can hardly wait to visit this bar!

Enzo's-Hideway-Tunnel-Bar-Logo

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar Logo

Coming Soon-Wine Bar George

Lets not forget all of you wine aficionados. Opening sometime in late 2017 or early 2018 is Wine Bar George. George Miliotes is one of the industry’s best wine experts. There is only a couple of hundred professionals certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and he is one of them.   He is bringing to this wine bar a list of more than 100 bottles and glass selections. It will include many vintages and prices.   Additionally, they have plans for special events, wine education, and visits from winemakers.

Rendering-Wine-Bar-George

Rendering of Wine Bar George

Final Thoughts

It is easy to do a pub crawl and visit all these bars as they are all relatively close together. They are unique and fun. It would be great to have just one of these in a location. To have all of these in close proximity is truly Magical!

Until next time, have fun at your favorite bar!

You can contact me at mike@bartalk.org.

If you like this blog post about Disney Springs, you may like to learn about Disney Springs dining options below:

18 Disney Springs Dining Options with Diagram and Podcast

Twitter/Instagram:  @bartalk4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Visit to The Old Midleton Distillery-Jameson Experience

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If you are a fan of Jameson ( I am) and their family of whiskies, then a visit to their distillery in Midleton is a must see if you are visiting Ireland. I have visited both their old Dublin distillery and the one in Midleton. I like both distilleries but the one in Midleton has their new working distillery within sight of their old distillery. So if you are traveling near Midleton, then do stop by and visit the Jameson Experience at the Old Midleton Distillery.

Jameson-Visitor-Information

Jameson Visitor Information

History of the Distillery

There are a few points to be made about the John Jameson and Son distillery in Dublin and the Old Midleton distillery in Midleton  At one time, these two distilleries were separate companies. It can be a bit confusing about the relationship of these two distilleries, so here is their history.  John Jameson was the general manager for the Bow Street Distillery (established in 1780) that became the John Jameson & Son Bow Street Distillery in 1810. Jameson’s Irish Whiskey was distilled there until 1971.

The Old Midleton Distillery was started in 1825 by the three Murphy brothers. In 1966, three different distilleries, John Jameson & Sons, John Powers & Sons, and Cork Distilleries (owner of The Old Midleton Distillery) came together to form Irish Distillers. This Old Midleton distillery operated until 1975.   In 1975, the New Midleton Distillery was completed and all operations of the old distillery were moved to the new facility. The Old Midleton Distillery was reopened as a visitor center for the Jameson Experience in 1992.

Jameson-Barrel-Train

Jameson Barrel Train

The Approach to the Old Midleton Distillery

We found a parking space a short walk from the entrance to the distillery. As you approach the distillery you see an old fashioned train with a car of Jameson barrels on the second flat bed car. Addtionally, one cannot help but notice the huge copper pot still adjacent to the distillery entrance. The lovely grey color stone building is stately and is highlighted by welcoming, twin, red barn doors. A clock is adjacent near the top of part of the building.

Jameson-Large-Copper-Pot-Still

Jameson Large Copper Pot Still

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Approach To The Jameson Experience

Visitor Center and Gift Shop

As soon as you enter you will see the cashier for buying your tickets. In this room, look up, and you will see a Jameson green bottle chandelier. Display cases have artifacts from the history of the distillery as well. Additionally, there is a small bar in this room. This is the waiting room where you start the tour.

After paying for your ticket, the gift shop is straight ahead and has many different bottles of the various whiskies they produce in Midleton, including some hard to find limited whiskies. I was lucky that the day I visited they were introducing Midleton Very Rare 2017, a limited produced whiskey.   I purchased my bottle in the gift shop. They have a wide variety of barware with logos of the different brands., too.

Jameson-Bottle-Chandelier

Jameson Bottle Chandelier

Jameson-Glass-Display-Case

Jameson Glass Display Case

Jameson-Entrance-Gift-Shop

Entrance To The Gift Shop

Start of the Tour

The tour starts in the room near the ticket desk and you enter another room with a movie screen where you see a short film on the history of John Jameson & Son. The film details that they triple distill their whiskey that is different than most Scotch and American whiskeys. That produces a very smooth whiskey. In fact, at one time, Irish Whiskey, which John Jameson & Son was a major player, was the most popular spirit in the world.

You learn that the company had many ups and downs over the years with many hardships beyond their control.  The Irish Potato Famine, the Irish Civil War, the British trade war, Prohibition in the US and shipping lanes disrupted by WWII all contributed to the decline of the company. In addition, during Prohibition in the US, many of the illegal, inferior produced whiskey was sold as “Irish” whiskey, because at that time, Irish whiskey had a great reputation. This hurt the real Irish whiskey business in the US for years afterwards.

But after a long decline, Jameson’s started to rebound and with the purchase of Irish Distillers by Pernod Ricard, more marketing dollars were available for overseas. This proved to be a winning formula as Jameson’s has been growing rapidly for the last few decades. It is the best selling Irish whiskey in the US. After the film was completed, our guide, Mike walked us outside to our next stop.

Jameson-Experience-Movie-Room

Jameson Experience Movie Room

Tour-Guide-Mike

Tour Guide Mike

From Woolen Mill and Army Barracks to Distillery

The Old Midleton Distillery was originally built as a woolen mill. Later, it became military barracks.   It was in 1825 it became a distillery. The tour guide discusses how the barley and other grains are sourced primarily from local farms located nearby the distillery. The tour shows the giant steel water wheel that is outside and was used to run many of the distillery’s operations. The distillery uses the water from the nearby Dungourney River.

Giant-Water-Wheel

Giant Water Wheel

Old-Midleton-Distillery

Old Middleton Distillery

Milling of the Barley

Jameson’s uses a mix of malted and unmalted barley.  The first stop we were shown how the barley is steeped in water for a number of hours so it will germinate. Next, the barley is placed on mats at high temperature which causes the barley to sprout. Next, the barley will be kiln dried to prepare it for conversion to sugars for fermentation. The mats become very not and the workers needed to wear boots, similar to fireman boots. Interestingly, our guide said it is rumored that David Bowe’s platform boots were designed similar to the boots worn at the distillery.

Kiln-malting- mat

Kiln and Malting Mat

Mashing

The next stop of the tour was where the grist from the barley is sent forward for mashing. Hot water is added to the grist, (now mash) is mixed for about 2 hours in a tub that has a large metal stirring rod. This allows the starches to convert to sugars. The mash is drained and the liquid, now called wort, now goes to the fermentation stage. It is pumped into a washback where yeast is added. This produced alcohol is called wash. It is now a form of beer with an alcohol content of about 10%.

45,000-GallonTank

45,000-GallonTank

Stirring -Mash

Stirring The Mash

Triple Distillation

The tour’s next stop was to view the largest pot still ever built. This pot still would hold 32,000 gallons.   Even I can’t drink that much! It was said that before this still went into production, the largest pot still in Ireland was about 500 gallons. I can’t drink that much either, but my friend Andy might.  Our guide then discussed the triple distillation process.

The first distilling occurs in the wash still. The wash is boiled and the vapor goes up into the column of the still. The vapors convert back into a liquid, at about 40% alcohol. It then goes into the second still for further distillation and the alcohol through this second distillation turns the alcohol volume to 70%. It then goes into what separates Irish whiskey production from many others. It now goes to a third still where it is distilled once more. After this third distillation, the proof is now about 85%,  The liquid then goes into oak barrels for aging.

32,000-Gallon-Pot-Still-Largest-Ever-Made

32,000 Gallon Pot Still – The Largest Ever Made

Single-Pot-Still-Whiskey-Distillation-Diagram

Single Pot Still Whiskey Distillation Diagram

Continuous-Distillation

Continuous Distillation

Micro Distillery

The next step of our tour was the micro distillery. This is a functioning operation within the Old Midleton property. Our guide explained how this allows the company to experiment with various taste profiles. They cannot easily do this in their large distillery. It is very important for the company as it allows their personnel to have hands on experience, just like their peers from the past.

Micro-Distillery-Triple-Distillation-Stills

Micro Distillery Triple Distillation Stills

Barrel Room

From there we went to the barrel maturation area. The guide explained how as the whiskey ages in the barrels, each year the whiskey evaporates and loses part of the whiskey. This is called the Angel’s Share. He then showed us the two types of barrels Jameson uses. One is a used American charred oak barrel. The other is a used Spanish sherry cask made from European oak. The sherry barrels are far larger than the American oak barrel and the cost is far more as well.

Two-Types-Oak-Barrels

The Two Types Of Oak Barrels

Irish Whiskey Academy

We then went outside and viewed the building that houses the Irish Whiskey Academy. It is a training facility for hosting courses that instruct on the production and heritage of Irish whiskey. They invite other smaller Irish micro distillers to visit and conduct seminars for them. Why would they invite potential competitors to their academy? It goes back to the Prohibition days in the US. It has taken Jameson a long time to rebuild their reputation. They want these micro distillers to produce an excellent product for export to maintain the quality profile of Irish whiskey.

Irish-Whiskey-Academy

Irish Whiskey Academy

Tasting Room

Next, we went into a tasting room where I was one of eight on our tour that was selected to taste three different whiskies. These were Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker Red, and, of course, Jameson’s. No surprise, Jameson’s won the vote as to which whiskey was the best!

We then proceeded to the bar at the end of the tour where we got to order a Jameson drink of our choice. I ordered a Jameson and ginger ale with lime. It was delicious and refreshing. It was a perfect way to end our time at the Jameson Experience.

Whiskey-Comparison-Tasting

Whiskey Comparison Tasting

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Bar At The End Of The The Tour

Bar-At-End-Tour

The Jameson Bag

My-Purchase-Midleton-Very-Rare-2017

My Purchase – Midleton Very Rare 2017

 

Until next time, have fun at your favorite bar!

Mike

You can contact me at mike@bartalk.org

Twitter/Instagram:  @bartalk4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luxury Swizzle Sticks – Not Your Typical Drink Stirrers

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Some are beautiful, some are practical, some are seasonal and some are all of the above. What they are not are your typical swizzle sticks/drink stirrers. Not there is anything wrong with the typical swizzle sticks. I like them, too, as they can tell a bit of US history. For example, hotels from Las Vegas long gone, and Playboy Clubs shuttered, still live on through their various swizzle sticks. And collectors do love these vintage and the new swizzle plastic sticks as well. Many of these swizzle sticks were produced by the Royer Corporation who is one of the largest producers of custom swizzle sticks in the US. In fact, did you know there is the International Swizzle Stick Collector’s Association?

But I will be detailing a different type of swizzle sticks that are not easily available. All these swizzles sticks are all glass, sterling silver, or stainless steel. I love all these but I will list these swizzles in order of what I consider the most unique.

All-Swizzle-Sticks

Not Your Typical Swizzle Sticks

All-Swizzle-Sticks

All The SwizzleSticks

The French Hand Painted Swizzles

This is my favorite swizzle stick of all the ones I personally own or any that I have ever seen! They are truly a work of art. And they are the most expensive of all the swizzle sticks that I own. I purchased them from an online antique store and the store owner purchased them on a buying trip to France. I assume they were made in France. One dealer has dated them to about 1900. The top of the swizzle sticks are various French soldiers. They are highly detailed and are hand painted in the French flag colors. Up close, you can even see the mustache of the soldiers. All the soldiers are made of porcelain. They sit atop the sterling silver with gold gilt base by prongs similar to a diamond ring. Each prong has a fleur-de-lis design element. The base of the swizzle is a rope sterling silver. The bottom of the swizzle has flared metal all around for muddling and for whisking champagne. The very bottom has a sharp point so it can be used as a pick, also. The dealer at the time of this writing had a 6 piece set for over $800. These exquisite swizzle sticks may have been exclusively commissioned for a very few, select people.

French-Soldier-Swizzles

The French Soldier Swizzles

Detail-French -Soldier-Swizzles

Detail French Soldier Swizzles

The St. John Home Safari Swizzle Sticks

This is another fantastic set from St. John Home Safari Collection. This company was at one time, a part of the luxury women’s clothing company, St. John. St. John Home is not producing goods so if one can find this set it will be on the secondary market.

The set is made up of a variety of animals that include a monkey, zebra, elephant, giraffe, leopard, and a rhinoceros. The animals sit on top of a ribbed stainless steel base with a ball bottom. The sticks come with their own fine urn shaped wonderfully detailed holder. The holder is adorned with colored Swarovski crystals and other ornate enhancements all around the holder. The base is black and white enamel that mimics the stripes of a zebra. The holder has two standing giraffes that encircle the urn holder. It is truly a magnificent set.

St. John-Home-Swizzle-Sticks

St. John Home Swizzle Stick

The Multi Color Umbrella Swizzle

This umbrella swizzle stick is long and has many vibrant blue, green, yellow, and red colors in various shades. It has a blue ball at the top and a clear ball at the bottom of the base. The top of the swizzle has a pretty design of bands that encircle the center. The edge of the top has rounded points all around it. The colors of the glass are reminiscent of Chihuly glass. This set also was sold with a coordinating pick set. I believe this set was sold by Pottery Barn. It is a beautiful , but delicate set.

Umbrella-Swizzle-Sticks-Pair

Umbrella Swizzle Sticks Pair

Close-Up-Umbrella-Swizzle

Close Up Umbrella Swizzle

Mikimoto Pearl Swizzle Sticks

These swizzle sticks were manufactured by the Mikimoto Corporation, the world famous company that was the first jewelry company to succeed in cultivating the world’s first cultured pearl. These swizzle sticks are made of stainless steel with a bow design at the top of the swizzle and a real, but tiny, Mikimoto pearl dangling from the swizzle. The base gently curves as well. This is a short swizzle that works well in glasses that are short. This swizzle was made in all silver stainless steel and one that part of the stick was a gold tone finish. This is a very creative design that enabled them to incorporate their famous pearls!

Mikimoto-Pearl-Swizzle

Mikimoto Pearl Swizzle Sti

The Spade Shaped Sterling Silver Swizzles

Another set that I really love is the sterling silver, spade shaped swizzles. The design allows for them to be used as straws.   The ball finials on the bottom are hollow that allows them to be straws. This set has 8 swizzles. This set was produced by Wallace Sterling Silver around 1940. Another reason I love this set is that my youngest daughter gave this set to me as a gift. It is a real prized possession!

Spade-Shaped- Sterling-Silver-Swizzle-Stick

Spade Shaped Sterling Silver Swizzle Stick

Detail-Spade-Shaped-Swizzle-Stick

Detail Spade Shaped Swizzle Stick

Thermometer Swizzle Sticks

Several companies manufactured these swizzle sticks including the John L. Chaney Company. These sticks are highly functional as they have a thermometer inside the swizzle stick. It has a GO mark on the thermometer. When the temperature reaches the GO mark you know your cocktail is cold enough to drink. Additionally, the swizzle stick can be used for promotional marketing as the reverse side of the stick can have a company name, slogan, or other advertising message inside the swizzle. Some companies called them beverage thermometers. I do not think these type swizzle sticks are currently being manufactured. The ones I have seen were made in the 1950s.

Thermometer-Swizzle-Sticks

Thermometer Swizzle Stick

The Short Swizzle Sticks

These swizzle sticks are great! So many drinks go into short glasses and the longer swizzles do not fit well in these glasses. These sticks are generally 4-5 inches in length and fit perfectly in the glass.   These sticks have either a square or round top with a raised grid pattern for muddling certain drinks. These swizzle sticks have a ball bottom that generally matches the color of the top. The base of these swizzles tend to be thicker than the longer swizzles.

Short-Swizzle-Sticks

Short Swizzle Sticks

Short-Swizzle-Sticks-Top

Short Swizzle Sticks Top

The Mickey Mouse Swizzle Sticks

These glass swizzle sticks were made for the Walt Disney Company. They were only available for a short time and they have a clear base. They have the iconic Mickey ear motif on the top of the stick. The ears are various multi colors, similar to many Murano glass items. The Disney Company made another swizzle that had the Mickey Mouse ears but these were all plastic. My wife is a big fan of all things Disney, and this is one of her favorites!

Mickey-Mouse-Swizzle-Sticks

Mickey Mouse Swizzle Sticks

Mickey-Mouse-Swizzle-Sticks-Close-Up

Mickey Mouse Swizzle Sticks Close-Up

The Christmas/Holiday Swizzle Sticks

I have more Christmas and Holiday swizzle sticks than any other type of swizzle sticks.   Some are all clear and some have beautiful colors. The tops of the sticks are a wide range of traditional symbols of Christmas such as wreaths and presents and of course, Santa. The first swizzle I am featuring to represent this category is a Santa Claus swizzle. This stick features a clear glass twist rope base. Sitting atop this base is Santa Claus. His beard is all clear glass as his is long hair. The face is detailed with rosy cheeks and dark eyes. The cap is a beautiful shade of green with a highlight of red at the very top.

The other swizzle stick for this category is the candy cane. This is a beautiful all glass cane shape with green, white, and red repeating pattern. I believe this to be Murano glass. Besides a great swizzle stick, this can even be used to decorate a Christmas tree!

Santa-Claus-Swizzle-Stick

Santa Claus Swizzle Stick

Candy-Cane-Swizzle-Stick

Candy Cane Swizzle Stick

The Antique Promotional Marketing Swizzle

This is the plain Jane out of all the swizzle sticks we detail in this article. However, this is an interesting item. For a portion of my career, I was in the promotional products industry. I believe this swizzle stick may have been one of the first forays into promotional marketing. It is a glass tube swizzle with a rolled up paper insert with the company name, Bond and Lillard and National Distillers Products Corporation. This is an old swizzle stick. I cannot be sure of how old, but National Distillers bought Bond and Lillard brand sometime during Prohibition. My guess this swizzle stick would have been manufactured sometime in the middle to late 1930’s just after Prohibition. I collect whiskey and this swizzle stick  was a natural for me. Interestingly, the Bond and Lillard brand whisky, long dormant, has been recently revived by its parent company, Campari.

Antique-Swizzle-Stick

Antique Swizzle Stick

Antique-Swizzle-Stick- Bond-Lillard

Antique Swizzle Stick Bond & Lillard

The Citrus Swizzle Sticks

These are a recent manufactured glass swizzle stick. They feature 3 different fruits, the lime, lemon, and orange. The top of the sticks are yellow, green, and orange color and have grooves in the glass to mimic the look of the fruit. Many drinks use twists of these fruit in their drinks. Examples include limes for gin and tonic, lemons in a Pimms Cup, and an orange in a Mai Tai. These swizzle sticks put an exclamation mark on the various drinks and I find myself using them all the time.

Citrus-Swizzle-Sticks

Citrus Swizzle Sticks

Final Thoughts

The original swizzle sticks were made from a plant and originated from the West Indies. They were first used in rum cocktails in the 1700’s. In the late 1800’s sticks of glass were manufactured. These were used to “stir up” the bubbles in champagne. It was believed carbonation of the champagne could cause indigestion and the stirring would take the carbonation out of the drink.

No matter if you collect all plastic swizzles that hold historical significance or collect more elaborate swizzles sticks, all are interesting and are essential for your bar and drink making.  Until next time, have fun at your favorite bar!

Mike

You can contact me at mike@bartalk.org

Twitter/Instagram:  @bartalk4

 

 

 

Buying Guide-How To Buy A Custom Home Bar

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Step 1. Custom or Non Custom?

Home Bars are becoming more popular for a variety of homeowners.  It can be a focal point for some in the main area of the home, others may want it for a terrace level/basement enhancement, or specifically, for a man cave.   In terms of home entertaining, a bar in the home helps to create the perfect place and atmosphere.

There are a number of high quality bars that can be purchased that are not custom made.  These can be purchased from furniture stores, speciality stores like Crate and Barrel, internet retailers, or catalogs like Frontgate.   Depending on the size of the bar you want, these bars might work well for you.  However, some of these bars can be expensive and they may not have all the features you would really like.  So before you decide against purchasing a non custom bar, check out your local manufacturers and other custom bar manufacturers that will ship right to your driveway.  The rest of this blog post will be for people who make the decision to proceed with a custom bar.

My friend, Fred, has the quintessential custom bar in his home on the terrace level.  His bar is a beautiful classic bar with a bonnet on top and the piece of the bar that lifts up for entry.   I always admired Fred’s bar and thought if we ever were to purchase a custom bar, I would like one similar to his bar. He has an adjacent room that has a multi-bottle wine rack with display shelves and unique crates that hold mixers and soft drinks.  That is how I got interested in having a custom bar in my home.

Fred's-Bar

Fred’s Bar (The KB)

Fred's-Wine-Rack-Display

Fred’s Wine Rack and Display

Step 2. Select Your Design

Now that you have made the decision to have a custom bar built, I would suggest you go to the internet and look at several custom bar manufacturers’ websites. There you will find multiple pictures of bars they have built and other additional information that may assist you. You may have custom bar makers in your local area, and many will be glad to discuss in person their operations.

Fred's-Bar-Closeup

Fred’s Bar Closeup

Step 3.  Selecting Your Location

Now that you have a general idea of a design you would like, you will need to select the location and the amount of space that you would like to devote for the bar. You will need to decide if you want a back bar. This will help determine the total size the bar will be. It will also be a factor in the ultimate cost of the bar.

We decided to add additional square footage for our sunroom. It was a major project that involved changing our roof line from a shed style roof into a cathedral ceiling. We had to remove the existing roof on that part of the house. In that process, I convinced my wife that it would be a great idea to add a home bar at the back of the new sunroom. She agreed.   I used to be a sales and marketing executive and even I was impressed with my sales ability on this one!

If you are thinking about adding new space for your existing home or having a new home built, incorporating your bar into the design provides advantages. You can easily wire the space for the lights of the bar and/or television and other placement of electrical outlets. Additionally, you can do the plumbing for a wet sink and ice maker.

Location-My-Bar

Location Of My Bar

Step 4.   Setting a Budget

Now that you have the location, footprint size of the bar, and a general design idea of the type bar you would like, you can set a tentative budget for the amount you would like to spend on your bar. I emphasize tentative as you will need to be a bit flexible. In your idea of a dream bar, you may have everything picked out.  But in reality, as you go through the process, there may be details that you just must have that you haven’t thought about. And there may be some items that you decide you can forgo. So try and be somewhat adaptable about the budget. I will give you a couple of examples from my experience.  I really wanted to have a bar with the bonnet like my friend’s bar.  But the new sunroom did not really conform to a bonnet design. Not having the bonnet reduced the price of the bar. But I really wanted to have a wood front on the ice maker and the refrigerator. And after seeing a bar that had medallions on the bar and egg and dart molding I really wanted that for my bar.  That raised the cost of the bar.  Being a former CEO of a furniture importer, one of my designers told me that it’s sometimes little things on the piece that draw your eye and makes one so attracted to the item. So it is with the bar.

My-Unfinished-Bar

My Unfinished Bar Without Egg and Dart Detail

Step 5. Selecting The Features

Decisions, decisions, decisions. I did not realize the number of decisions I would be making in regard to the bar. What style bar do you want, classic, contemporary, industrial?  Do you want a custom mirror?  What type lights and how many lights do you want? How many shelves do you want?  Do you want a space for a TV and if so, what size?  And you will need to make decisions on the appliance items and other accessories you want in your bar.  Do you want a refrigerator, ice maker, beer tap, dishwasher, wet or dry sink or a built in trash bin?

What size sink and what finish?  What brand of appliances do you want to select for your bar?  Are they customizable for adding a coordinating, matching color of door? What color finish do you want on the bar?  If you have a bar rail, what finish do you want on the rai?.  Your manufacturer will walk you through much of this, but these are some of the things you should consider. The manufacturer will be cutting holes for the various appliances you will select so you need to preselect the brand appliance so they know the exact dimensions.  Some bar manufacturers have worked out details with appliance manufacturers and they have good prices for those items.  So check with your manufacturer.

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Wood Insert Doors For Ice Maker & Refrigerator

Step 6. Select Your Manufacturer

When selecting your design, you have already researched the various bar makers that ship and/or local manufacturers that you can work with. It is now your decision to select the maker that you believe will deliver the bar at the price, the quality, the design, and the time you want the bar delivered.  I would recommend you select at least two manufacturers (if possible) to obtain quotes.  I have found that the manufacturers were not interested in negotiating their prices.  Hey, it’s custom!   However, if you have two or more makers providing quotes, and if all things are basically equal, then you will be obtaining the best price possible.  I would ask about the terms and how much the deposit will be. And I would get a contract with everything that is supposed to go into the bar including any cost of shipping and installation.  Get a color panel that that has the finish and gloss level that you want.  You keep one panel with your signature and the manufacturer keeps one so they finish off your bar perfectly.  Most custom bars take about 10-12 weeks to build.  I would also see if the maker either can send you photos of the bar as it goes through the production process or if a local maker, if you could visit once when it is at the unfinished state.

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Close Up Of Egg Dart Detail

Step 7. Installation

I was fortunate that my maker was local and that the cost of my bar included installation.  If your bar is being shipped to you, some makers will come to install the bar but that can be expensive.  Alternatively, they may have local installers they can recommend.  You will need to check with your bar maker for details. Make sure you are at home so you can inspect the bar and make sure everything goes as planned.  Remember the bar is a real investment that will provide you many years of fun and memories.  And if you sell your home, it will add value in the sell price to your home as well.

Bringing-Bar-Into-Home

Bringing The Bar Into Home

Going-Into-Pool

Going Into The Pool?

Bar-On-Wheels

Bar On Wheels

Back-Bar-Into-Position

Back Bar Into Position

Top-Back-Bar

Top of Back Bar Awaiting Installation

It-Is-Heavy

Yes, It’s  Heavy!

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Final Touches For The Bar

Final Thoughts

If you decide to purchase a custom bar, I hope all goes as smoothly as my custom bar production experience.  I have enjoyed my bar every day and have created many fond memories with friends and family.  As the owner of my bar manufacturer related to me one day, he had a client that was selling his airplane and buying a custom bar.  His reasoning was that he only used his plane 2 or 3 times a month, but he would use his bar everyday.  I’ll drink to that!

 

First-Night-Bar-Installed

First Night Bar Was Installed

Mike's-Bar-Today

Mike’s Bar Today

Until next time, have fun at your favorite bar!

Mike

You can contact me at mike@bartalk.org

Twitter Instagram:  @bartalk4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder, Killarney, Ireland

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Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder – Exterior

The Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder has to be one of the great whiskey bars anywhere! And it is located in a town with a population of only about 15,000 people. What makes the Celtic Whiskey Bar so special?  Well, it has about 1400 different bottles of whiskey with about half being Irish whiskies.  Just the sheer number of different bottles makes it pretty special and different.  But even more so is the number of hard to find, limited edition , bottles they have to enjoy.  The bar serves delicious food and has whiskey tastings that include cheeses and chocolate!  The bar holds Irish whiskey masterclasses and provides the opportunity to bottle your own Irish Whiskey and label it for yourself or a loved one.  For further information about this Irish Whiskey Experience you can visit their web site at celticwhiskeybar.com

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Celtic Whiskey Bar 1400 Bottles

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Bottle Your Own Irish Whiskey

Did you ever want to taste Pappy Van Winkle without shelling out lots of money?   They have all the various years and you can sip and decide which bottle you like the best. Additionally, they had several of the equally hard to find Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, including William Larue Weller, Thomas Handy Straight Rye, Sazerac 18 year old, George T. Stagg and Eagle Rare 17.  I collect whiskey and these bottles are rare and elusive to find at your local liquor store and in most bars.

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American Whiskies at the Celtic Whiskey Bar

When in Ireland, drink what the Irish drink, that is, besides Guinness beer.   That would be lots and lots of Irish whiskey.  This is where the Celtic Whiskey Bar really shines.   It has Jameson for sure which is Ireland’s most well known brand of whiskey.  It is a favorite of mine!  Just as with their American counterpart rare whiskies, this bar has the rare and hard to find Irish ones, too.  This includes Teeling 24 year old Single Malt, Midleton 26 Year Old Pure Pot Still, Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve, and Kilbeggan 21 Year Old to name just a few.  The longer the whiskey stays in the barrel, the more whiskey is lost to evaporation.  This is called the Angel’s share.  So you can see why these whiskies are so rare.  And most of these whiskies never make it to the American market

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One Of Many Menu Pages Of  Irish Whiskies

If the American and the Irish Whiskies were not enough, yes, they have an incredible selection of Scottish single malts and blended whiskies.  These include MacCallan 25, Dalmore 25, Longgrow 18, and GlendDronach 24 Year Old Grandeur to mention a few.  They have a large selection of Japanese whiskies as well.  One of these is the Nikka Gold & Gold Whisky. It has a metal Samurai helmet and armour that fits perfectly on the bottle. The bar has many other very affordable and excellent whiskies, also.  I had the Powers 12 year old and it was very smooth.  I had a Jameson with ginger ale and lots of lime.  It was tasty and refreshing.

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Whiskey Flights Celtic Whiskey Bar

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Nikka Gold & Gold with Ninja Armor

If being surrounded by all these whiskies is not enough, the bar has about 300 different gins with half being Irish Gins.  Some of the Irish gins names are quite unique such as Bertha’s Revenge, Dingle, and Gunpowder. Bertha’s Revenge Gin is called a milk gin, as it is made from whey ethanol, a by product of milk production.  It has a unique taste profile that has orange, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon.  They have a huge selection of British and American gins as well.  And, of course,  for you beer drinkers, there is a great selection of bottle and draft beers.

Bertha's-Revenge-Gin

Bertha’s Revenge Gin

The town of Killarney, where the Celtic Whiskey Bar is located, is a fantastic place for use as a base to explore, not only Killarney, but other parts of Ireland such as many of the great golf courses, the coast, and the Jameson Distillery in Midleton.   Killarney has a National Park that has 26,000 acres with lakes, medieval castles, magnificent estates and more.

Killarney-National-Park

Killarney National Park

Other great bars and pubs in Killarney include Murphy’s (wonderful music and food), The Pink Lounge at the Ross Hotel (great gin tastings), and J.M. Reidys (a multi room bar with traditional Irish music).  If you find yourself in Killarney, don’t miss the Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder and the other great pubs and bars there.  By the way, one definition of larder is a supply of food.

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The Gins of The Pink Lounge

If you would like to contact me about bars and bar accessories, you can reach me at my email below.  Until next time, have fun at your favorite bar!

If you like this blog post, you might like my blog posts about The Refractory Bar at the Plymouth Gin Distillery,  Plymouth, England, and the Oak Bar in Nashville, TN.

Mike

mike@bartalk.org

 

 

 

 

 

The Refractory Bar At the Plymouth Distillery – Plymouth, England

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Plymouth Gin Distillery Entrance – Plymouth, England

Plymouth-Gin-Bottle

Plymouth Gin Bottle

One of the great pleasures of traveling is eating in all the great restaurants wherever your travels take you. Additionally, another treat is visiting the bars in these great eateries or just going to visit world class bars.

A unique bar I visited is the Plymouth Gin Bar at the Black Friars distillery in Plymouth, England. It is a storied building that was built in 1431 and it is where reportedly, the Pilgrims stayed the night before they boarded the Mayflower bound for their new life here.  Unfortunately for them, it was just an inn in their time, but later became the home for Plymouth Gin in 1793.   However, every bottle of Plymouth Gin has the picture of the Mayflower on the bottle label.  Additionally, the bottle has in raised letters and numerals the date the distillery was established and the name of the distillery, Black Friars.

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Plymouth Gin Distillery, Exterior View, Plymouth, England

Plymouth Gin is one of the oldest gins and has been a protected geographical indication which means that any gin that has Plymouth in the name must be produced in Plymouth, England. Today, there is only one gin and that is Plymouth. Interestingly, the EU passed a law about the GI that changed the definition and Plymouth said it was not in their best interest to retain their designation.

Plymouth-Gin-Refractory-Bar

Plymouth Gin Refractory Bar

The bar is on the top floor of the old distillery that is a terrific one to take a tour. They provide a hands on experience with the botanicals they use to infuse the gin and show you where the gin is distilled.

The dark wood bar is quite beautiful and is very long. It has a high and intricate barrel wooden ceiling. In addition, to the bar seating, it has numerous comfortable chairs. The bar features the many types of gin that Plymouth produces. My favorite is the Navy Strength version of Plymouth Gin that is higher proof than the regular Plymouth. Plymouth Gin was the official gin of the British Royal Navy.   The deployment of the British Navy worldwide led to the popularity of Plymouth gin and in British India it was mixed with tonic water which contained quinine that helped prevent malaria. Even today, gin and tonic is one of our most popular drinks. This is an excellent bar to have a martini. Martinis were originally made with gin and Plymouth Gin was used in the first martinis. Additionally, the bar has many other types of liquor that is produced by Plymouth Gin’s parent company, Pernod Ricard.

Plymouth-Gin-Bar-Interior

Plymouth Gin Bar Interior

If you are ever in Plymouth, England, do visit the bar and distillery as you will find it not only a historical place but a fun one, too!

If you liked this blog post about Plymouth Gin Distillery and the Refractory Bar, you might like my blog on Hosting A Gin Tasting Party.  You can find it here:

http://www.bartalk.org

If you would like to contact me about bars and bar accessories, you can reach me at my email below.  Until next time, have fun at your favorite bar!

Mike

mike@bartalk.org

 

 

 

 

Oak Bar at the Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee

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My wife is a travel writer, and she obviously loves to travel, so I usually try to find the best bars in the cities where we visit. I visited the historic Oak Bar while we were in Nashville for the Country Music Association (CMA) Fest event.

CMA Fest

It is a wonderful event that takes place in early June all over downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The CMA Awards are the kickoff of CMA Fest. The next day after the televised award show, CMA Fest begins with about 100,000 attendees. There are concerts in multiple venues with dozens and dozens of country music stars performing for four days that begin in the morning culminating with four nights of concerts at Titan Stadium where the leading acts of country music perform. There are stages all over downtown including the River front stage that is a large barge on the Cumberland River, the Plaza stage, the HGTV Lodge and even indoor venues. Additionally, there are many bars that line Broadway that have live music that starts in the morning and goes into the wee hours.

CMA-Fest

CMA Fest

Jack Daniels Booth

There are a number of vendors with portable storefronts selling many types of food, drink, clothing, accessories, and many other goods. One of my favorites is the Jack Daniels booth that sells a wide variety of their branded merchandise. The Jack Daniels distillery is located in nearby Lynchburg, and I can highly recommend a visit there, too!

Hermitage Hotel

The Oak Bar is located in the beautiful, five star Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville that was built in 1908-1910. The Hermitage Hotel is named for President Andrew Jackson’s home that is located near Nashville. It is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Don’t miss viewing the spectacular lobby of this hotel with its high stained-glass ceiling. It is decorated beautifully for the holidays, too!

Hermitage-Hotel-Lobby-Entry

Hermitage Hotel – Lobby Entry

Capitol Grille

The Oak Bar is located downstairs adjacent to the Capitol Grille. This restaurant is not part of the Capital Grill chain, but it does serve great steaks. All the vegetables are grown in a farm located about ten miles outside of Nashville. Their French onion soup is not to be missed! The farm-to-table salad is great, too!

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Capitol Grille – Farm to Table Salad

The vaulted ceiling in the room is unique and sometimes one can hear clearly what is being said in a table across the room. It is a favorite of the members of the state legislature which is located nearby, and it is how the restaurant got its name.

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Capitol Grille – Interior (Adjacent to Oak Bar)

Oak Bar – History

Just steps away from the restaurant is the Oak Bar. It opened originally as a gentleman’s club and the décor does scream clubby! Historians say that the bar was caught serving bourbon in teapots during Prohibition.

Oak Bar – Design Elements

Oak-Bar-Entryway

Oak Bar – Entryway

When entering the bar, note the beautiful stained glass windows that are on either side of the front doors. The bar gets its name from the beautiful inlaid oak paneling. The ceiling of the bar is a white alabaster that is stunning. Inlaid into the ceiling is HH for the Hermitage Hotel.

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Oak Bar – HH (Hermitage Hotel) Ceiling Design

Today, the Oak Bar has one of the most extensive number of different bourbons in Nashville. They have over one hundred and thirty different brands. Some of these bourbons are hard to find bottles so this is a great place to taste some of the finest bourbons produced. Below is a picture of one of their special liquor cabinets.

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Oak Bar – Special Liquor Cabinet

The bar has a number of tables, some tucked away in intimate alcoves. So, the feel is intimate, yet not too quiet for good conversation.

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Oak Bar – Interior Seating Area

Some of the specialty cocktails include Jack’s Mule, a Moscow mule made with Jack Daniels; Fat’s Smash, a Buffalo Trace bourbon with pure maple syrup, fresh lemon and mint; and the Tennessee Waltz, a bourbon, Cocchi Americano, Cardamaro, and Grand Marnier just to name a few of the fantastic concoctions that they serve.

Oak-Bar-Jacks-Mule

Oak Bar Jack’s Mule

I believe the Oak Bar is a don’t miss of bars if you are ever in Nashville!

Read more about visiting Nashville and the Hermitage Hotel in my wife’s $2.99 Kindle book, “One Perfect Day in Nashville 2017”. Here is a link to the Amazon page if you would like to check out a free sample or purchase it:

https://www.amazon.com/One-Perfect-Nashville-2017-www-oneperfectdayin-org-ebook/dp/B06XCLD999

I would love to hear from you about other historic or unique bars or pubs that I should write about or visit. You can reach me at mike@bartalk.org.

Cheers!

Mike

Hosting a Gin Tasting Party

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Indoor Bar – Ready To Be-Gin!

I recently hosted a Gin Tasting Party at my home for twenty people using both my indoor and outdoor bars. We had a great time, and I thought I would share some of the preparation and highlights with you.

Preparation – Planning the Gin Party

My wife was a huge help in preparing the sign, ordering the custom cocktail napkins and preparing all the food which included shrimp, cheese plate, chips, meatballs, and chicken salad sandwiches on King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.

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Custom Napkins – Gin Tasting

When hosting this many people for a tasting you must plan ahead or all you will be doing is making drinks the entire evening.   I selected five different gins for us to taste as martinis.  Additionally, I selected four different mixed drinks that use gin as the main spirit ingredient.  I selected them for the different styles of gin they represent and for the varied taste profiles.  The five gins I selected were:

• Plymouth Gin

• Nolet Silver Gin

• Bombay Sapphire Gin

• Aviation Gin

• Hendricks Gin

Additionally, I selected five additional bottles for them to have a choice as the best designed bottles and for use in some of the mixed drinks.  These included Beefeater, Bulldog, Boodles, Brighton, and Pimms, technically a liquor but considered a gin.

Next, I needed a number of cocktail shakers so I could batch the martinis and mixed drinks.  I purchased four pitchers for the mixed drinks. I recommend the Oxo hard plastic shakers.  These are reasonably priced, the cap doubles as a shot measure with markings, and best of all, the top is easily removed.  I have found many of the metal shakers that the tops will get stuck when ice cold.  Also, in case the shaker gets dropped, you will not have a mess as the shaker is almost unbreakable.

Drinks – Gin Party

The mixed drinks included the Flora Dora, Pimms Cup number 1, a Blueberry martini, and the Monkey Gland.  Additionally, for anyone who could still stand, I would mix them a Gin and Tonic, the most iconic of all gin mixed drinks. (Just kidding about the standing as we did not make full size drinks)

The day of the party I concocted enough martinis for about sixteen people, per brand of gin, knowing some preferred to drink something else and were attending as a loyal act for their spouse.  I shook the martinis with ice, and then strained just the gin into another shaker and placed each of the five branded gins (in their own shaker) in the bar refrigerator inside the back bar.  I numbered each shaker on the bottom so we could reference the brand gin.  The shakers are 16 oz. and we had almost 16 oz. of ice-cold gin in each shaker.  I admit I did take a sip of each drink just to make sure they would be good. I had not had some of the mixed drinks previously.  I recommend doing this, but don’t drink too much or they will be having the party without you.  Additionally, make sure you do not drink before you cut the limes, lemon, and oranges for garnishes for the drinks.  That was the hardest chore as we needed fresh fruit for each martini and each drink.  That’s a lot of fruit!  I did find You Tube videos on how to cut fruit for garnishes to be very helpful.

And make sure you have a good, sharp knife as that will be make the task much easier.  I recommend Wusthof knives and John Boos hard rock maple cutting boards.  After cutting the fruit, I placed them in red solo cups and covered with plastic wrap until the tasting would begin.

I then made the mixed drinks, again batching them, and pouring into large pitchers.  For the various mixed drinks I had Tropicana orange juice, Minute Maid lemonade, and Canada Dry ginger ale as mixers.

Signs – Tasting Notes – Gin Party

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Welcome Sign – Gin Tasting Party

We were almost ready for the party.  We had made an A-frame sign to place outside the front door.  The front of the sign said, Let the Party BE-GIN and then we turned the sign before the guests left the party and that side said Forgive Me Father For I have Ginned.  We had printed up napkins that said Gin Tasting Party, Mike’s Bar, with a martini glass imprint.  We had printed up gin tasting note cards for each taster to fill out as they tasted each martini and mixed drink.   I lined up all the gin bottles in a row for the guests to select their favorite gin bottle.

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Gin Bottle Design Judging at Gin Tasting Party

History of Gin – Gin Party

At last the Gin Party started as all the guests arrived.  I started the party by giving a brief history of gin and the genres of gin that we would taste.  These included Plymouth, London Dry, and New American.  And I asked all the guests to think about which bottle design they liked the best, the best gin, and the best mixed drinks as they drank and for them to jot down notes on the gin tasting forms we provided them.

Gin has an interesting history as it was invented in Holland and became known as “Dutch Courage” as their soldiers would drink before battle to calm themselves.  The British took note when they went to Holland as part of the 80 Year War.  They brought gin back to England where it became a popular drink.  The British Navy found that when it was mixed with tonic water it helped in treating malaria as the tonic contained quinine.  Plymouth Gin became the official gin of the Royal British Navy and every ship carried bottles of Plymouth Gin.  Interestingly, the first martini was made with Plymouth Gin.  The bottle of Plymouth Gin features a picture of the Mayflower as legend has it that the Pilgrims spent the night in the same building that now houses Plymouth Gin.

Interesting Facts about Gin – Gin Party

For a spirit to be called gin, it must contain juniper, a berry.  A gin label cannot contain an age statement.  More classic cocktails are made with gin than with other spirits.  Some names you may be familiar are Tom Collins,  Salty Dog, Singapore Sling, Flora Dora to name a few.  The Top 5 countries for gin consumption are 5. India, 4. Great Britain, 3. Spain, 2. US, and 1. Philippines.  In fact, Philippines consumption is more than the other 4 countries combined.  One local gin in the Philippines is the largest selling brands in the world but it is only sold there.  The other top selling brands worldwide are 5. Seagrams, 4. Tanqueray, 3. Beefeater, 2. Bombay Sapphire, and 1. Gordons.

Let’s Drink Martinis – Gin Party

All the gins selected are very good and have many fans worldwide.  I let the guests choose which garnish they preferred for each martini.  The first gin was Plymouth Gin and is the only Plymouth genre gin.  It is more juniper forward.  The famous author John D. McDonald’s famous character, Travis McGee, was a Plymouth Gin drinker.  The next gin was Nolet, one of the oldest in Holland and the most expensive gin in our tasting. This gin has been described as Hendricks on steroids.  It has less juniper and is so smooth.  Next up was Bombay Sapphire, a London Dry genre that is an everyday favorite.  It has a citrus and floral forward taste but the juniper is still present.  The bottle is considered one of the best designed bottles of any liquor. The next gin we tasted was Aviation Gin which is considered a New American genre gin.  The juniper is more in the background with the citrus and floral upfront.  It has medium spice as well.  This gin is distilled in Portland, OR.  For you sports fans, this gin is or was partially owned at one time, by football great, Joe Montana.   The bottle design has won many awards for design.  The last gin we sampled was Hendricks.  It was one of the first gins that distanced itself from the London Dry gins.  It has a rose and cucumber forward flavor and one can taste orange and even elderflower.  The bottle style shape is in the style of an apothecary bottle.

Mixed Drinks – Gin Party

Outdoor-Bar

Outdoor Bar

We took a food break and then retreated to the back bar outside to enjoy the cooler weather and our mixed drinks.  As discussed earlier, we had batched all the mixed drinks and the first drink we had was the Flora Dora.  Theater goers in the early 1900’s like to name drinks for characters in Broadway plays and this is how this drink got its name.  Flora Dora was the name of a character in one of the first musicals on Broadway.  It was an instant hit with the patrons.  The Flora Dora has gin, lime, raspberry liquor, and ginger ale and has the coloration of a Cosmopolitan.

The next drink I served was a Blueberry martini made with gin, Blueberry liquor and blueberries as a garnish.  It had a beautiful blue color.  If you like blueberries, this is the drink for you.

The next drink was the Pimms Cup No. 1.  It is an easy drink to make as it is Pimms, and lemonade.  It is the most popular drink that they serve at the Wimbledon Championships.   This is a highly refreshing drink.

Our last drink was the Monkey Gland.  This is an interesting drink.  It contains gin, orange juice, and grenadine.   This is how I batched the drink and it can be served this way.  An option I gave the guests was to place a dash of absinthe in the glass, swirl, and then dispose of the absinthe so it has a trace amount in the glass.  Everyone wanted to do this and even with a trace amount, the licorice flavor was evident.  After tasting this way, some wanted to taste without the absinthe.  What a huge difference as it changed the taste profile dramatically.   The Monkey Gland name comes from a surgical operation done by a quack Russian doctor.  It was created by Harry’s Bar.

The Results – Gin Party

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Gin Tasting Notes and Score Card

The guests voted for the best bottle design and the winner was Aviation, with Bombay Sapphire in second place.  The best gin/martini was a tie between Hendricks and Nolet.  The best mixed drink was the Pimms Cup and second place was the Flora Dora.

Everyone had a great time at the party and I really enjoyed learning more about the gins, the history of gin and the great drinks that can be made.  It also provided me the opportunity to break out many of my bar glasses and various bar tools which is always fun to do.  We will be discussing, but our next tasting party may be a tequila tasting.  There are lots of great tequilas and mixed drinks that can be enjoyed!

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Exit Sign – Gin Tasting Party

I would love to hear about Gin Tasting parties that you may have hosted or if you have any questions about this party. You can email me at mike@bartalk.org.

Cheers!

Mike

P.S. I do not receive any compensation for brands I recommend. The recommendations are solely based on my opinions.

Introduction

Entertaining is one of the most fun things we do in our homes. We all want to entertain in style! And that means having the right tools. For this blog, I will concentrate on bar accessories but may veer into all kinds of home accessories in future blogs.

A few years ago, I had a custom bar built for our home by Classic Bars. I like their slogan, “We only build bars”. Having the bar stimulated my interest in home entertaining.

One of my favorite items for the bar are crystal decanters.

I call all crystal items the “jewelry of the bar.” One of my favorite brands is Waterford. Did you know Waterford never has seconds? If it’s not perfect, they break the piece and start again. I have been to their factory in Waterford, Ireland and it is a great factory and showroom to visit.

Another favorite decanter brand are the ones from Ralph Lauren. Lauren’s decanters have more of a contemporary look and Waterford’s a more traditional. I like both!

Another decanter category that I like are some of the ones from the whisky distilleries. Some of my favorite ones are from Jack Daniels.

Cheers!