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Repeal Day

December 5 is an important day for drinkers, as on this day in 1933 the 21st Amendment was ratified, repealing Prohibition and reinstating our right to imbibe. Phew.

It’s hard to imagine the 14 years America spent as a dry country. Certainly, in the decade of the raging ‘20s there was still a lot of drinking going on. But this was all illegal and organized crime saw a huge increase as they became the arbiters of the new underground economy. Repeal not only legalized drink; it also put the kabosh on a great deal of criminal dealings. We celebrate with a big batch of bathtub gin and a toast to Al Capone.

If You Find This, Buy It

Laphroaig 10-year cask strength scotch whisky is no longer to be sold. But you should snap it up if you encounter it, as it’s a hell of a dram—a violent wallop of peat smoke and brine gently sleeping in rich warm blankets of honey and toffee with a pillow of sweetness. It’s incredible stuff. I recently picked up the last bottle at a Bay Area Bevmo, but know that there’s more out there . . . just not for long. Make sure to add a squirt of water, though, because cask strength means it’s never been diluted and thus comes to you at a whopping 111 proof.

Good luck.

A Bite of the Big Apple

Last week, I had an opportunity to do some reconnaissance on the New York bar scene, which is often held up with London as the best in the world with San Francisco generally considered to be tightly nipping at their heels.

Pogue Mahon

Perhaps one of the reasons my zeal for WhiskyFest was a little subdued was that I had had a whiskyfest of my own the night before with my old pal, Jameson. The occasion was a performance by the Pogues, who played four straight nights at the Fillmore last week.

Half my blood is Scotch-Irish, meaning that when I get enough whiskey in me and hear the familiar reels of Irish folk-punk as spun by the Pogues and bellowed by their bibulous lead singer Shane MacGowan, I start to reflexively bounce off the f’in walls.

WhiskyFest Report

So, WhiskeyFest went down last week. As usual, the giant trade and consumer show had a ton of scotch, bourbon, Irish whiskey and more, arrayed on table after table in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency.

There were lots that I’d tasted before, but standing out for me was a new distiller’s edition from Lagavulin, Stranahans Colorado whiskey, and the wheated malt from Buffalo Trace.

Finally Legal

Absinthe can now be legally sold in this country, as long as it stays inside some rules, which is how we now have our first legal brand in this country: Lucid. It’s decent stuff—not the best I've had, which happens to be in a few bottles that I’ve smuggled back from France over the years—but we’ll soon have more brands on the market.


Last week I had a tasting and dinner at Frisson with Charles Braastad of the esteemed Cognac House Delamain. Braastad is half Norwegian, though he’s lived his whole life in France, and his family still owns Delamain. A tall, thin and handsome man, he seems a bit stiff and formal at first, but quickly reveals his lively sense of humor and native charm.

Anyway, Delamain is one of the smaller houses in Cognac to achieve such worldwide acclaim. Their style is fine, elegant and balanced.  The various bottlings wow you with finesse and complexity—not with power, fruit and oaky richness.

Independent Spirits

Tomorrow is one of the coolest shows of the year—the Independent Spirits Festival. Small-production, artisanal spirits are the name of the game, as these are some of the most exciting and delicious products on the market. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Ron Cooper, importer and mastermind behind Del Maguey mezcals (the greatest agave products on the planet), who I’m interviewing next week.

You can only buy tickets online today. Print out your confirmation and bring it to the W Hotel at 6:30 p.m. for the start of the show. It’s only $78 for a chance to sample hundreds of amazing products.

WhiskyFest Notice

I’m reprinting the following press release and will be doing so regularly so that all of you whiskyheads out there don’t forget to register for this incredible event: Maltadvocate’s WhiskyFest.

The occasions in this life are all too rare to get to taste so many whiskys back-to-back, side-to-side, up-and-down. Rare bottlings. A chance to talk with distillers. The seminars are wonderful—a way to achieve authoritative knowledge of several of the world’s most important distilleries. In short this is not an event to be missed. I’ll be there as well as just about every significant bartender in town. Do not miss it. Below is all the info you need.



Today I received the following email:

Dear Jordan,

Wishing you a happy and flavorful National Vodka Day - from the Van Gogh Vodka team.


Doug & Shelley
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