cucumber-flavored vodka, and it's a winner. Normally, I don't get particularly excited about flavored vodkas, but this one is novel and very well made.
Ever since I was 15 and traveling through France and Britain with my family, I've loved European dry, alcoholic apple cider. This is probably because my parents wouldn't let me drink beer, scotch or (much) wine, but they would let me get the occasional buzz off cider. While there, I developed an affection for the dry, crisp apple-y taste of the stuff.
This is how the p.r. query read for this summer's release of the 10 Cane rum mojito kit: "This summer, 10 CANE presents a limited-edition 10 CANE Mojito Kit that allows aspiring mixologists to enjoy fresh notes of mint, sugar cane and lime juice at home without the hassle of muddling, cleanup, and embarrassing mint stuck in their guests’ teeth. Just fill glasses with ice, add contents, stir and ... remove shoes."
While wandering through Japantown in search of big ice cubes for an upcoming 7x7 column, a friend and I found ourselves in Ikkyu, a lovely little room on the ground floor of the easternmost building of the Japan Center. An oddly festive place, it wasn't open when we first stopped by, so we returned after 7 p.m., and it was open, though mostly empty. This was a good thing, as it allowed us to chat with Kako, the spirited owner, who had come over from Japan to take over the bar (which, it turned out, had been previously owned by a man with a big ice cube machine … must have taken it with him when he left).
Going through airports is as bad as it’s ever been. I don't mind taking off my shoes in security--it's the belt that's annoying. One thing that's made flying better, however, is the appearance of local food and beverage vendors in the terminals. I noted this trend a decade ago in my native Austin, TX, as its then-new airport sported such local favorites as Matt's Famous El Rancho (Tex-Mex), Schlotzsky's (sandwiches) and the ever-popular Salt Lick BBQ, whose airport location is closer to the original restaurant (and its pit) than downtown Austin is, so you know the meat is fresh.
Last weekend I judged at the SF International Spirits Competition, a great event that brings spirits experts from around the country to taste and judge which are the best vodkas, gins, whiskeys, piscos, liqueurs, etc. Many of the best spirit bottlers in the world do submit their products, so, yes, it can be a great tasting experience. However, with the great also comes the not-so-great, as can be seen in the flight this poor panel was tasting. I'm not sure which category this rainbow of artificial coloring fell under, but it couldn't have been fun to put these things in one's mouth.
San Francisco bartenders were treated to a unique experience a couple of weeks ago: the first (that we know of) SF historical cocktail tour. It was sponsored by Plymouth Gin and Simon Ford (the brand's ambassador; below, at left) and conducted by Dave Wondrich (below, right), the undisputed authority on American cocktail history and author of Imbibe.