Guide to Man’s Drinks: The Fitzgerald

Spring is here, somewhat… the temperatures are still cool but the days are sunny and reach tepid plateaus of warmth cajoling flowers to unfurl to take in every gram of heated sunshine.

IT is not, however, warm enough for an Aperol or a crisp Gin Tonic, instead the shy warmth of a Spring afternoon necessitates something inbetween; an elixir that is at once refreshing and yet with enough depth to take off the errant chill brought on by the still lingering crispness in the air

So the gentleman is left wondering; what shall I drink? This is not Scotch weather and while a light Rye may suffice, and truthfully it is always Bourbon weather, one needs something a little different to sip on in the late afternoon when the gentlemen has perhaps finished working in the yard or maintaining his home. These times require something altogether different.

It is with this in mind we would like to introduce The Fitzgerald.

The Drink

The Drink

 

Quite simply it is a “Gin sour” [see here for our whiskey sour], made with sugar syrup, gin, and Angostura bitters (skip the egg-whites). At first glance this may seem like a Gimlet, except that a Gimlet must be made with lime-juice, and for purists Lime cordial (as in Rose’s Lime) and no bitters.

We like it because it’s refreshing and the bitters keep it from being to unsubstancive adding a nice layer of mystery and vim.

Gin_sour_rect540

The Fitzgeraldmakes 1 cocktail

            • 2 oz gin
            • .75 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
            • .75 oz simple syrup
            • 2 dashes angostura bitters

 

Combine all ingredients into a shaker, add ice, shake; strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy. No fuss, no nonsense, and a grown-ass-man drink to boot.

 

TGG Primer on The Fitzgerald:

–      Always use a chilled shaker, fill with ice and discard.

–      Build drink in an empty shaker; i.e. one without ice or the gentleman will risk watering down his drink.

–      Many great bitters exist; try cinnamon bitters, orange bitters, or even some that may echo the flavors of the gin (citrus, anise, et al.)

–      We love Hendricks but it proves to be to floral; stick with what we dub ‘Decanter Standards’ –i.e. those ‘standby’s’ kept in an undecorated decanter on top of the bar: Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Brokers.

 

For more classic Gin drinks visit our friends at TheKitchn here.

Man-Can-Cook: The Steak

DUDE, I mean, c’mon. Man+cook= steak. It’s that simple. Nothing, except maybe sex and even that is a bit more ‘evolved’ is as primal as a man cooking a steak. Truth be told many a gentleman is dettered from cooking a steak- what do I put on it, how long di I cook it etc etc etc. All good questions but they fly in the face of the simplicity and wonder that is this dish.

What encompasses a good steak, and what needs to go into it? Almost nothing. Men have a bad habit of approaching cooking like a mad-dash science experiment wherein they empty the contents of their spice-cabinets on unsuspecting food in the hopes that through that alchemy something amazing (that can never be replicated) comes out of it. But in truth, if you can make a great steak (with nearly nothing) and can make it the same every time it becomes your signature dish, your mark of distinction.

Real men cook…

The Tools:

  • Fire (gas, electric, grill, wood, charcoal)
  • A cast-iron skillet (for more on cast-iron skillets go here)
  • Tongues

The Stuff:

  • Good beef: grass-fed, sirloin-cut, 1.5” / 3.81cm (this is important, if you skimp on this then no matter what you do herein, it won’t be great).
  • Great salt (not iodizes Morton’s but great salt, expensive sea salt, trust us, pays off- fleur de sel is the best)
  • Cracked black peppercorns
  • Determination

The process:

  • If you’re making the steak on the grill- get the grill HOT. If it’s on a Iron-skillet the best thing to do is, once oiled, throw it in a 400F oven, and put your burner on Med-High.
  • Take your steak out of the fridge some 15 minutes before you intend to cook it so it comes down to room temp; then dab it with a paper towel to get any excess moisture off its surface.
  • Let it snow salt and pepper all over it.
  • Take skillet out, put on med-high stove top and insert steak- hear the sizzle (or open grill- at this point you may need to open a window)
  • Leave untouched for 4-5 minutes. Turn.
  • 2-3 minutes additional on other side for rare, 4 med-rare, 5-med etc.
  • Serve hot with a simple green salad, baked potatoes, fries or on its own.- ENJOY

Myths

People think Tenderloin is better but while softer and more tender (hence the name, but in fact, as a muscle that gets almost no movement and use- it actually has very little flavor. The parts with the most flavor? Those used a lot, the shanks and, especially, the cheeks- but this requires slow cooking in order to break the toughness. TGG recommends; steak? Go Sirloin.

Match

Obviously  a beer always- but something more hearty- an amber ale or evena stout if the weather calls for it. I like with Red; depends what you’re in the mood for: Brunello di Montalcino (Italy), Cali or Aussie Syrah/Shiraz, A Cote Rotie (France) or a heady Argentine red. Knock yourself out.

The Almanac of What a Man Needs to Know: MADRAS

MADRAS, or madras cloth, is a set of colorful plaid patches sown together into one garment made of lightweight cotton. You know the stuff… it’s everywhere these days and with spring and summer around the corner it’s a perfect no brainer for your summer lineup.

I have to be honest. I didn’t always get madras, I thought it was tacky, stupid, and just plain retarded (that comment is not directed towards Sarah Palin). I have dim memories of my grandfather taking me to the park wearing ankle-high white socks with madras shorts—and for a long time this has been my take on it: stuff old people wear.

But this is 2010, and stuff old people wear (or wore) is hot, trendy, and all the rage. Clothiers are offering such oddities (they would have been impossible to find a mere four years ago) such as sock garters, collar stays and braces (suspenders) of all colors and persuasions.

So why not madras?

The move to make madras cool in the mainstream and in main-street started in earnest some four to five years ago when the New England-preppy look filtered down from somewhere around the Kennedy compound in Cape Cod to the shops of New York City and Miami via Gap, Abrercrombie & Fitch and J.Crew. At that time most madras items limited themselves to shorts and the occasional trousers but not too long after that Ralph Lauren had a lauded madras attack on the runway and madras became cool, very cool. But better yet, madras is cool to wear, and by this I mean comfortable.

A lightweight pair of madras shorts, or pants for that matter, are rarely lined thus making wearing a pair no unlike going ‘mando. Honestly, they’re very comfortable. But, in truth, why wear madras? Why not? You wear madras for the very same reason you paint your face in preparation for your football team’s big game, or for the same reason you bedazzle the outside of your house (or your window pane) in colorful small lights around December, or why you choose to get really drunk and light up fireworks at New Year’s: because you can.

And it is because you can there are myriad of silly thing that we can wear in the summer that make it fun (yes, more fun than the beach). In this realm there exists things like linen, brightly colored pants, seersucker, gingham shorts, and white (lots of it without looking like a gigolo). That’s the whole point, “cuz you can.”

The Key to Madras: Confidence

Like so many things in “fashion” (or like so many things in life) half of being able to pull it off is confidence. So if you’re new to madras start slow—do not make your first attempt a madras suit, or you will look like a clown, come to think of it no one should ever, ever, wear a full madras suit. Start with a pair of shorts. This is easy—wear with a white shirt or polo shirt. Madras has enough color, so I would advice the following: always wear a madras piece in contrast with solids, i.e. a madras jacket with white pants and a light colored polo. Play off the smaller colors of the madras, the yellows, blues etc. If you’re the squeamish type no worries, a madras tie can look good with as conservative as a look as white pants and navy blazer. Experiment, and do it and if anyone asks you why you’re wearing madras tell him or her “…because I can…”

Primer:

The Mistake: Way too much madras!

Madras pieces and Looks for the Beginner…

  • Ties

  • Pants & Jackets

The Leap: Trousers with Seersucker (notice a plain white shirt)

Leap Two: The madras Jacket (note the confidence...)

  • The Look…

TGG Celebrates Spring/Summer 2012

The Summer Gentlemen (from the Sartorialist)

SPRING/SUMMER  is, well, almost here. Summer, named after the old Norse God Sumar, is not merely a season, but an opportunity for other than the obvious (re: barbecues, beaches, pool, scantily-clad women, and guys if that’s your digs) is a change from the ordinary, from the usual, from the monotony of the ubiquity of the days preceding it. Ritual makes the ordinary divine and small, often meaningless, symbolic gesture from, in this case, one season to another helsp to ward off apoptosis, in toher ways, it’s a restart button. The same way a haircut is ,or shaving after a few days, or new Years for that matte.r It is a feeling and an act of renewal .

Miami has a temperate two-season year “Hot and Humid as Hell” (May-September) and “Hot and Mild” (October-April) with a very wet summer. But nevertheless, on what may seem as grotesque affectation, every October or so I would pack up all my “summer clothes” fold the linen pants, shelve the white shoes, and pack it all up, label it summer, and not open it again until the following May. Was this absolutely necessary? No, not really. But it did help create a habit and eventually a ritual, which made me look forward the passing of time and aware of the evolution of each year. Every year I opened my box again and you think “Oh shit! I love this shirt… sweet; oh and this, I forgot I had this!”

Seems lame, I know, but try it.

So yes, put all that shit away; take all the flannel, dark browns, blacks, cashmere sweaters, chunky shoes, dark trainers, velour track suit (if you have one, burn it) put them in a box and put them away. Venture out for summer; try it the Italian way; shades of pastel normally left for Easter eggs splashed on everything from pants to sweaters and belts and claim to the world; the sun is out, its summer and I’m not afraid to celebrate it. Of course, say this in your head.

-AO

First day of Spring 2012: March 20th 2012

First day of summer 2010:  June 20th 2010

THE Young Gentlemen’s Guide presents a five-part series on things to celebrate this summer; from drinks, to books, looks, food and life to try, see, drink, experience and love as the temperatures rise, the snow melts and the days meander to longer and longer hours.

 

 

In no general order of appearance:

 

  1. WINES FOR SPRING

The Pour

IF there are such things as ‘winter wines’ (and there are: think gamey Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas from France’s Rhone, for example) then there are definitely “Spring wines” that can offer a bit more body and complexity than the lemony-crisp whites of summer whilst still offering up a wine that can go from a 80F day to a 55F evening: Viognier anyone?

2.  FRAGRANCES OF SPRING

The Smells...

SAME as above: winter fragrances (myrrh, amber,  and brown spices) = existence of spring fragrances. In truth a single fragrance for 3 months may seem silly (not to us of course) but in the spirit of practicality we bring you three new fragrances that can tackle the spirit of spring (meyer lemon blossoms and white pepper) to the warmth of summer (aquatic notes and citrus).

3. THE SPRING COCKTAIL

The Spring Tonic

SUMMER is the realm of Aperol Spritzes and Pisco Sours but what happens before that and after all the past winter’s Brandy Alexanders? Explore with us three great Spring cocktails.

4. THE SPRING JACKET

The Spring's Shelter

WHAT more can we say? There’s no such thing as a summer jacket (well, sure there is but…) Think deconstructed linen. Good stuff. We’ll share our picks for the season.

5. MAN-CAN-COOL: Farm to table

The Season's Bounty

Spring is farmer’s market time… three simple dishes any man can make.

The Almanac of What a Man Needs to Know: Packing for a Short Trip

ONE of a Gentleman’s biggest “faux pas” is his inability to appropriately pack. Let us define this. Most men don’t pack well, for a personal or business trip because they:

The Archetype

a) Overpack

b) Underpack

c) Overstuff

d) Throw in a bag a bunch of clothes that don’t make sense (let’s see, three days; one pair of pleated khakis, a brown belt, white socks, black shoes or sneakers, a couple random shirts and maybe a pair of two of underwear.)

This is not how it’s done.

Men need to learn what women have known for years ‘pack by outfit’. Ok, most men cringe at the word “outfit” so how about “look” or “getup”? Throwing random shit in a bag makes the Young Gentleman and Older Statesman alike look, well, random and schleppy. Ergo, there are lessons to be learned here:

1) Pack for the days you’ll be abroad and remember, most hotels have laundry service- whether business or pleasure:

4- day trip? To pack:

  • Button-down shirts: (3-4), keep them simple: white (2), blue, blue striped (1) and something else.
  • Polo shirt : (1) if you’ll have any  downtime, a Polo is also the best thing to wear during flights.
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of pants (be it khakis or the ever-versatile grey trousers)
  • A belt (brown shoes on the trip= brown belt / black shoes on the trip= black belt, oh and forgo the kahkis in this case).
  • A blue blazer/jacket (because you can throw it on anything and you look like a million bucks…)
  • Brown shoes (loafers= easy to take on or off, on the plane, on the security line, or when you get back to the hotel).
  • A v-necks weater: it always gets cold on planes, of course, if it’s not cold where you’re going you may want to replace this with shorts.

Seems simple, but this is enough for any man, from sartorially-shy to unabashed dandy. So, how may outfits… er… getups do we have?

Have a business meeting? Pull together the white button-down shirt, the blue blazer, grey trousers, and the brown shoes= cool, comfortable, but appropriate. Going out to dinner at night? Slip on a pair of jeans and keep the jacket and shirt. More laid back? Simple, just pull-on the sweater and leave the jacket at the hotel. The next day, same place, more meetings- alternate the khakis this time with the sweater if you wore the jacket the previous day.

The Simple Look

It must be said that most of this needs to be disregarded if one’s business requires a suit, in which case a navy suit is best and a simple addition (ie. The trousers) to the list; keep the brown shoes, they make a stylish statement.

If the week calls for a  vacation in Bali- then forgo the above a couple of board shorts, some linen, espadrilles or flip-flops and a light cotton jacket is all you need.

Postscript:

Things to keep in mind to really make it work:

  • Buy travel-size versions of your ‘man stuff’ I.e. deodorant, shaving creams, shampoo etc. It’ll save a ton of space.
  • Keep the jacket single breast, single button, and slim (even if you’re not). Ditto with the pants, cuff them if you must.
  • On the loafers: if you’re chunky and have medium to small feet (or just the latter) forgo boxy shoes and at all costs, at least for now, pass on anything resembling tassles or pennies.
  • Hang-up the shirts as soon as you get to the hotel and maybe give them the old “run the hot-shower” steam treatment when you get in; you can also opt for ‘wrinkle-free’ which is not just for LL.Bean nuts… look for the “non-iron” line from Brook’s Brothers.
  • Fold socks and underwear inside your shoes; you’ll save a lot of space.

What you need to know: Pairing Food and Wine

Fear not!- TGG is not turning into a Perfume Blog!

Food and Wine, some pairing are meant to be…

 

 

 

The Pour: Beef and Reds

There is nothing more deliciously satisfying than eating fried snacks, whether fish and chips or pakoras, with a nice cold beer. The effervescence of the beer lifts the fat off the palate and refreshes the taste buds between every crispy, succulent bite. But this is not “pairing” not in the classical way. There is a difference between chasing a particular with food that happens to be nice (like beer with nearly everything, or sparkling water for that matter) and ‘matching’ in its pure form. For our purposes here we will define ‘matching’ or ‘pairing’ to the extraordinary effect that proper coupling has on the liquid being imbibed with the food it is being eaten with and visa versa; in English: the wine makes the food taste better and the food makes the wine taste better. The key word here is ‘better’ as opposed to ‘different’; a mouthful of fresh chilies (or anything Thai for that matter) followed by a tannic Cabernet Sauvignon or  Bordeaux will certainly make both of them different, but in a very awful, acrid way (actually the capsaicin in the chili, the actual compound which makes them spicy, reacts chemically with astringent tannins inherently in big red wines to produce a taste and sensation in the mouth unlike sucking on metal or chewing on aluminum foil).

Paring is an art form, not a science and while some people do it well, few, pros included, do it exceptionally well. The difference between a good pairing and a great pairing can be the absence or presence of a mild religious experience; but few ever reach it. Attempts, have of course, been made to reach a formulaic concensus: ‘white wines with white meat and red wines with red…’ and so on. These are handy and a great starting point, but what happens when chicken (a white meat) is char-roated in a tandoor giving it a slight smokiness that is enlivned by masala? Sure some whites will do well (buttery chardonnay or big Alsatian pinot gris), but some reds are better apt to tackle the heartiness of a murg tikka (petit syrah, shiraz, zinfandel, Grenache etc). What happens when the meat in question, whether beef or otherwise, is simply cooked and tossed with coriander, lime juice, freshly sliced onions, fish sauce and a hint of chilies? The inherent wualities of a red wine would clash unabashedly, like a joke in a funeral, with the acidity of the lime juice and the overall ‘green’ flavours of the coriander- this is white wine terrirtoy all the way (Gruner Veltliner, Australian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, white Bordeaux, qurily Italian whites et al.)

For every rule there is an exception, especially in wine, nothing is solidly black or white, but shades of grey. There are, of course, a couple tricks to keep in mind:

The geography rule

Like with like:  the terroir-food principle

Sancerre is a small village on the east- of the Loire river in eastern France. Fourteen villages are allowed to make the wine labeled as Sancerre and always if white, only made from Sauvignon Blanc. One of those villages happens to be the village of Chavignol, home of the world famous hockey puck-shaped goat cheese; crottin du chavignol. The food grew up around the traditional flavours of the sorrounding areas wine culture and, conversely the wine was made within the context of the prevailing food culture and its flavours. Which is to say that there is no better pairing in the world than a buful Crottin du Chavignol with a steely and flinty Sancerre. Of course this can be extended to say that Sauvigon Blancs do very well with goat cheese overall; no matter where the cheese or the saivnong blanc are from.  What is the best wine with a tuscan steak? Tuscan wine. What does one best pair with Shnitzel and kndoel? German wine, etc. In Alsace the diet conisits of mostly sausages, saur kraut and foie gras, the wine pair, naturally, seamlessly.

Context of where the wine is from and the sorrounding food will tell you most of what you need to know about a successful pairing or at least which elements the wines go best with.

The minefield

Zero-in on the dominant flavors

Indian cuisine is characterized by its complex and layered flavours, in short, there’s a lot happening. The same goes true of many cuisines in Asia, Latin America, and the Carribean. It is futile to then try and compliment all the various flavours to the wine with 100% accuracy; instead focus on the dish’s dominant flavor. If the dominant flavor is the char from the grill then match the wine to that. If the dominant flvor is tomato, then match the wine to that- this will yield a much higher degree of success.

The pink truth

Pink with Pink

Shrimp, roast beef sandwiches,  and certain sushi and sahimi (think salmon and hamachi) is betuiful with dry rose.

The Meursault + sandwich

The simple vs. complex rule

If the food is very complex and incredibly multi-layered choose a simpler wine. If the dish is rather simple with one or two dominant flavours then the wine should be multi-layered, expressive and complex; otherwise both compete and none win.

Think a buttery, deep, profound and ethereal chardonnay with a biryanni or a simple, but delicious, fruity and spice-laden red Zinfandel or Shiraz with a tandoori raan.

The Decision

 

Compliment before contrast

It is easier to compliment the wine wih the food than to contrast it, although contrasting yields the greatest pleasure. If the dish has citrus flavors then the wine should too (think sauvignon blanc). If the wine has hints of cinnamon and gamyness in the nose, then the food should to (think lamb). A contrast is a much harder manouvre and definalty fraught with risk but worth if done right (a chardonnay with mushroom risotto).

The Exception

Wine enemies with food

There are just certain things in food, whether they are compunds enzymes or otherwise which have a negative effect ont eh taste of wine; there are things you just can’t pair (kind of) and you just need to accept it. Wine enemies are things like artichokes, asparagus, excessive acidity ( Salad? Forget) it!, chilies, and sweetness (like dessert; dessert wines being the exception, but here, the wine needs to be sweeter than dessert for it to work).

There is only one wine in the world that can tackle artichokes, asparagus and chilies without a problem, and that is the darling of the moment, dry fino or manzanilla sherry.

The trick

The Chili conundrum

The enemy: capsaicin. There is no getting around this (sort of). The dicsion for me is made at the onset (especially when I’m in South-East Asia) either a) eat spicy and love it or b) have it mild and enjoy wine with it, otherwise the local beer will suffice. Chilies, black pepeer etcetera reach with the tannins of red wine often making the wine taste metallic and the food even spicier. There are evry few instances where the world can meet happliyl (see my note about tandoori raan with Shiraz or Zinfandel) and the trick here is “perceptual sweetness”; or,in other words frutiniess. If you absiluty must ead very very spicy and insist on drinking wine with it then opt for wines whoch are fruitier and off-dry to sweet. The sweetness balances out the chilies. A sauternes (the sweet wine from the southern region of Bordeaux in France can be wonderful with very spicy food (believe it or not) and the chilis make the wine less sweet. But no matter what, chili and drink at your own risk

The unlikely

Experiment…

Remember, if at first you fail, try and try again. One of my most wonderful food and wine memories was in New Delhi with the  indomitable local wine personality, Sanjay Menon at Dumpukht restaurant at the Hyatt orderig dish after dish surrounded by nearly a dozen bottles of wine; from super-Tuscans to obscure Spanish wines… and the wines paring were great! Burmese lobster bisque? Madeira. Butter chicken? HUGE Chardonnay or a Clos Coulee de la Serrant (an odd little wine the Loire Valley’s famous Nicolas Joly). French fries? Champagne! The sky is the limit.

The hunch

Follow you palate.

In everything, whether a novie or an expert, your palate will let you know whether you have landed on liquid gold, or liquid lead. Trust yourself, you palate is your guide and will seldom let you down. At the end of the day it does not matter what I say, or what any of the world’s selfrighout wine exprts purport to know. What matters is that you like it. So if you want to eat fried chilies with a bottle of Cheval Blanc, be my guest, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

MY favourite pairings

Hot and salty French Fries
Champagne, poreffarbly Krug, Jaquesson or anything iwht a bit more body.
Spicy Tuna Roll
Rose d’Anjou or Tavel or any other um, masculine, dry rose.
Chicken Tikka
Big new world chardonnay; Calfornia or Australia
Hamburger
Syrah, shiraz, Grenache, or Zinfandel
Life Champagne, for everything, always champagne

The Almanac of What the Modern Man Needs to Know: The Fuente Anejo #48

Many Fuente enthusiasts are thrown in ecstasy when they come across the highly desirable Opus X. Indeed, the Opus X has attained somewhat of a cult following in the cigar community. The ability to carry the Opus X is occasionally viewed as mark of excellence for cigar dealers.

The House

by: Richard Urban

NEEDLESS to say that i was very excited when  I smoked my first Opus X several years ago. Sadly,  I was left disappointed and thus continued my search for the perfect celebration cigar. Alas, I found said cigar in a lesser known offering from the venerable Arturo Fuente house. Some readers may remember that I mentioned in my previous column that I was devotee of the Anejo line. The cigars in this line from Fuente are some of the scarcest in the world. If the Opus X represents gold to the premium cigar smoker than the Anejo must represent platinum.

The quest for the Anejo is often an elusive one. Very few stores actually carry offerings from this line. Indeed, some retailers proudly claim it is the rarest cigar in the world. Fuente releases Anejos only around Father’s Day and Christmas in minute quantities. When one does find an Anejo, there is usually a strict three cigar per customer limit and an overly-inflated price. The retail price from Fuente is between $9.00 and $12.00 in the U.S. (depending on size) but it is not unheard of to see a price of $30.00 or more in cigar shops nation-wide.

The Goods

The Anejo No. 48 represents the epitome of luxury. Many of its components are secret, though it is believed to include blends used in the Opus X, Don Carlos, and Hemingway lines. Once it has been rolled it is aged in cognac barrels. I had the rare pleasure of being permitted to purchase a box of these rarities from a local dealer two years ago. Since that time I have smoked them only on special occasions.

The Test Drive

The first thing one notices about the Anejo is the presentation. A cedar wrapper encases the cigar with a red felt wrapper holding it all in place.

The Smoke

Upon lighting the cigar, one is greeted with aromatic delight. A combination of earthy, chocolate, and cognac scents provide the nostrils with a delightful experience. A small soft draw is all that is needed to keep this cigar light, allowing for a relaxed meditation. Immediately apparent is the flavor is the light scents of cedar interspersed with hints of spice. As it continues, the flavor of cognac is apparent but not overpowering. If one pays close attention, a hint of chocolate can be detected.

Another unique characteristic of the Anejo is the scent it produces. A friend of mine, who does not share my enthusiasm for cigars, once remarked that cigars smell wonderful until lit. The Anejo, however, seems to only get better as one smokes it. The aroma of flowers, cedar, and cognac is combined to produce an enjoyable bouquet [haters not withstanding].

The Experience

There is only one drawback when it comes to the Anejo; the fluctuating and always high price. As a result the Anejo is a cigar meant for special occasions. It is the Dom Perignon of cigars. Perfect for celebrating the purchase of your first sports-car or the post wedding conversation with your new father in law.

 
Richard Urban has been smoking fine cigars since he turned 18 and at any given night can be found in Union Cigar Club in Pennsylvania. Richard runs a rare book store and currently attends Gettysburg College.

Bespoke Life: 1983 Brandy by Domaine Charbay

There is nothing like the “art and lore” of brandy distilling and more you pay, the more refined & honest the spirit… one would hope. And that brandy should have a story.

The Perfect Drink

THERE’Sbrandy‘ and then there’s Brandy. Made from the distillate of wine and then aged in oak (where it gets its amber color), Brandy (and it’s cousins, Cognac and Armagnac, made in region of the same name in France)  is all to often overly-processed, artificially colored and drastically underwheling.

Enter the Karakasevic family, from a long line of master distillers, who settled in the ‘highlands’ of Spring Mountain in Northern California to churn out some of America’s most unique and cherished spirits.

This brandy was hand-distilled by Miles Karakasevic (Madter Distiller) andfrom a base wine of ‘Folle Blance” then aged in Oak Barrels from Limousin France for an unfettered clarity and an almost incomprehensivble complexity.

Top notes of mulling spices with caramael and a tlight floral toast with a dollop of blood orange marmaled. In essence: this stuff is good!

Distiller’s Notes: “Launching the Brandy program in 1983 with a 1,000 gallon Pruhlo Alambic was a long term commitment to distilling in California. I wanted our brandy to reflect my heritage of hand distilling.  Little did I know that we would distill so many spirits in between but I was determined that the premiere would be how I envisioned it should be: full bodied and elegant.  That my son apprenticed by my side and learned to distill whiskey, rum, pastis, flavored vodkas and more while the brandy aged…well, that’s how my people carry on. For me, distilling isn’t a business; it’s a way of life.

— Miles Karakasevic

 

About Charbay Brandy N0. 83:

“The most interesting thing I tried at WhiskyFest was a brandy of all things. Tasted like what I imagine a Christmas rum raisin cake tastes like; juicy allspice…” Camper English/SF /WhiskeyFest

100 cases made of 750ml and 95 cases of 375ml. Get it at www.charbay.com

Restaurant Etiquette: 100 ways to not look like a douche…

The following 100 ways to not look like an as#(@le, or douche or moron in a restaurant- or what i like to call “100 Rules of Restaurant Etiquette” have been gathered over the last seven years by various peoples in the hospitality industry, mostly in fine-dining.

THESE 100 maxims have come from individuals from all over the world: India, Loas, China, the Carribean, The US, Europe etc.
  1. Don’t show off with money to a waiter… they see money all day long and are not impressed.
  1. Have fun when you go to a restaurant—whether it is to dine or to just to have a fun meal, make it so. Don’t worry about the pretensions… just enjoy.
  1. Trust your server… they know the menu and food better than you ever will.

 

  1. Trust the sommelier—a good sommelier knows his or her wine list better than you ever will. Chances are he/she tasted all those wines, if not a majority of them, and has probably been to those vineyards.

 

  1. Be among the first tables of the night… you’ll get the best food and service.

 

  1. Don’t be the schmuck who shows up fifteen minutes before the restaurant closes—there’s a lot of bad energy being directed towards you. Remember the kitchen and the wait staff have lives too,

 

  1. Just because it’s your birthday, doesn’t mean you are owed anything for free…. Including dessert, candle or not.

 

  1. Don’t tell the waitstaff, sommelier, or manager how many wines and or bottles you have in your cellar, trust me, they don’t care.

 

  1. GUYS if you are out with a pretty girl, you don’t have to spend $1000.00 on a bottle of wine to impress her. She may know nothing at all about wine and you are therefore wasting your money. Listen to hear and be genuinely interested- that’s worth a lot more to her.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to tell the server and or sommelier what you would like to spend in a bottle: a good list has fabulous wines at all price ranges.

 

  1. Don’t be cheap either.

 

  1. Don’t ask for tap water at a fine dinning restaurant and further more don’t justify your thriftiness by saying that it “tastes better,” you know it doesn’t!

 

  1. Bottled water is not pretentious. The rest of the civilized world wouldn’t dream of drinking anything but with a restaurant meal.

 

  1. Remember a standard tip for a run-of-the mill restaurant is 15%, a nicer restaurant 18% while a fine-dining restaurant about 20% with a good handshake for the sommelier if he struck gold with a nice bottle.
    •  Most servers, even those at the most expensive restaurants, usually make around $2-$4 an hour. The tip not only ensures service… but this is money that goes into the “set-up,” your polished glasses, changing of silver, and graciousness. Trust me, you want good service and the staff to remember you… TIP!

 

  1. Dipping bread in olive oil should stay in Italian restaurants. Do not assume this is standard practice in every restaurant in the world.

 

  1. There’s nothing wrong with a cocktail, but they should remain at the bar, before or after dinner. Wine and even beer is the only alcoholic drink that go with food.

 

  1. Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese are all cuisines from different countries… don’t expect sweet and sour chicken at any of these. Go to an ethnic restaurant and enjoy that ethnicity’s food.

 

  1. Cesar salad is not a necessary salad or menu item at ALL restaurants.

 

  1. Generally speaking, meat is ruined when prepared well done. So if you like a well done steak… don’t go to a restaurant to eat it… you’ll piss off the staff and waste your money on bad meat… and please don’t expect it to be tender!

 

  1. French fries and mashed potatoes are not an omnipresent side dish… some restaurants don’t have such things on their menus, and it is probably for the better.

 

  1. Gauge where you take your kids… if appetizers start at the high teens, leave the kid at home.

 

  1. Kid’s menus are not required by law. Most places will accommodate you but the absence of a children’s menu should tell you what to expect.

 

  1. Unless you are in a vegetarian restaurant do not expect every restaurant to have a vegetarian item… most will accommodate you.

 

  1. Most fancy restaurants and/or fine dinning do not have the following ice cream flavors: chocolate chip cookie dough, rocky road, or strawberry-coconut.

 

  1. Tiramusi is an Italian dessert—don’t expect to find it on every restaurant’s menu… if they don’t have it, see it as a blessing in disguise—try something new.

 

  1. Never start a sentence, when speaking to a restaurant’s staff, with “…I don’t care that it’s not on your menu, but I want…”, this guarantees bad service and bad restaurant-karma.

 

  1. The more cigarette breaks you take the colder the food will be when you eat it… as it has to wait in the kitchen’s window until you come back. Smoke before and after… Otherwise drink water.

 

  1. Do not try and teach the sommelier a lesson on wine… they don’t care, and if you know you know more than them then take comfort in that fact.

 

  1. Remember, when you are given the initial taster of wine once the bottle is opened, you are not deciding whether you indeed like the wine—you already bought it! It is part of a ceremony to make sure it is not spoilt. So stop trying to impress everyone at the table by holding it up to the light and making a big deal. Simply smell it… does it smell like wet newspapers? Vinegar perhaps? No? Then just tell him/her to pour.

 

  1. Do not ask for the finest or most expensive bottle of Pinot Grigio… Pinot Grigio as a wine is meant to be simple and quaffable, not a religious experience by any stretch of the imagination. When was the last time you asked for the most expensive bottle of cola?

 

  1. If a server has eight plates in their hands, and they are sprinting past you, that may not be the best time to grab them and ask them where the bathroom is.

 

  1. When a member of the restaurant staff approaches you don’t immediately start barking orders, let them introduce themselves… you may be putting gin a drink order with the busser or manager. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it does make you look lie an idiot.

 

  1. Don’t say you know the owner, or throu around names, because they’ve heard it all, and you just sound like an asshole.

 

  1. Only Lipton makes decaf tea. If in a nice restaurant ask for “tisane,” which are herbal and or fruit teas which naturally contain no caffeine, like Chamomile, apple, or peppermint.

 

  1. If you go to a chain restaurant, do not expect five-star service… if you go to a, expensive restaurant, be ready to spend. Don’t go on a budget.

 

  1. If you want to seem as though you have even just a hint of class… never yell out “waiter”, “garçon” or “server” to catch a server’s attention… it’s the whole “you’ll look like a jerk” thing.

 

  1. Like Tiramisu, Flan has its place, and Italian restaurants are usually not it.

 

  1. Never, ever, begin to dictate your order with “bring me your cheapest…”

 

  1. Feel free to ask, “what do you recommend” or “what’s your favorite,” but don’t ask “what’s good,” because even at a strip bar you’re most likely going to get “everything.”

 

  1. Ask for the specials once… if the server skips over them… there’s probably a reason, they may be trying to steer you away from potential disaster.

 

  1. When you need to make more than three modifications to one dish, you might as well just choose something else entirely.

 

  1. Remember, there is no reason to overcompensate, if you feel a little akward at a restaurant just relax… its food. Let the staff guide you…its their job.

 

  1. In a nice restaurant, don’t pay half your bill in cash and the other half in plastic… it’s tacky,

 

  1. When you go to pay, there’s no reason in saying… “Here’s my gold card” or “here’s my platinum” unless the server is colorblind they will see that when they run the card.

 

  1. If the server comes to you and says “I believe there is something wrong with our computer, it cannot read this card,” he or she is really saying, “dude, it was declined,” don’t argue with them, they’ve been tactful enough not to make you look stupid. Play along and come-up with a solution.

 

  1. Don’t get mad when there is no space available at a restaurant and you didn’t make a reservation. In other cities showing up to a restaurant without a reservation is not only crass but sacrilegious. If you want a space… reserve.

 

  1. Don’t look over the hostess’ shoulder while they’re looking up you reservation, that’s screen is not for you, otherwise it would be turned towards the door.

 

  1. Don’t call the hostess honey or sweetheart, remember they control when you seat, where you seat and with whom.

 

  1. Don’t ask the wait staff to control the sound, lights, or music in a restaurant—they have no control over such things. Talk to a manager… but remember the light may be bothering you, but look around… are you the only one in the restaurant?

 

  1. Ditto for the air con.

 

  1. Don’t tell the sommelier you are a connoisseur of wine… because you just let him know how absolutely insecure you are… instead talk to them, share the knowledge… then they’ll know that you to are an enthusiast.

 

  1. Do not expect restaurants to bend to your latest diet fad. If you can only eat purees and/or snack on leek soup… stay at home. (that goes for you non-celiac gluten-free freaks).

 

  1. Unless there is sand between your toes as you sit and eat… stay off the frozen drinks.

 

  1. Be gracious… you get more with honey than with vinegar.

 

  1. If it’s not a hotdog or hamburger joint… don’t expect ketchup (ditto with Tabasco… outside of Texas it is not a dining necessity).

 

  1. Spaghetti is not a staple or restaurants nationwide. Stick to a diner for Cobb Salad.

 

  1. Not all Asian restaurants will have your favorite takeout menu items. So forget the ribs, egg roll, or kung-pow chicken.

 

  1. Warm wet moist towels are a staple of Japanese restaurants… don’t go expecting it everywhere.

 

  1. Don’t grasp the wine glass by its bowl… hold it from the stem. That’s the whole purpose of the stem… and you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.

 

  1. Throw the gum out before you sit down… or swallow it. There’s nothing more low-class than to ask the waiter for a piece of paper so that you can throw away your gum.

 

  1. Finish the cell phone conversation before you sit and eat. Leave the phone on vibrate…didn’t your mother tell you  not to talk with your mouth full?

 

  1. Lemonade comes from lemons, available in most kitchen and restaurant… pink lemonade on the other hand, comes from a powdered mix… most restaurants do not have this… so don’t expect it.

 

  1. Girls, if you order the wine, it will be shown to you once it arrivers to the table and, in any good restaurant, it is assumed you will taste it… don’t get offended by this, they are being professional.

 

  1. If it’s not on the menu, chances are they don’t have it.

 

  1. Don’t complain to get something for free. Get a life.

 

  1. If your slouching over your plate setting and the food comes, MOVE! Or get it on you.

 

  1. Do tell the manager how good your service was or how great your experience was, don’t tell him who your friends are or how much money you have… or what kind of car you drive… that’s just stupid.

 

  1. If you’re in a hurry let the server and manager know when you sit. Don’t wait till you already ate to start a bitch fest.

 

  1. If it’s not on the wine menu… they don’t have it. Don’t get mad because they don’t have your favorite bottle of Opus One.

 

  1. Like life, respect in a restaurant is earned… treat others other how you would like to be treated and never believe and or think you are owed anything.

 

  1. If you have a particular table request… do it at the time of reservation or when you get there… don’t wait to be seated to start playing musical chairs.

 

  1. If you make a reservation for six people… don’t call half an hour before and say your ten. That may require a set menu or worse yet, another table; which the restaurants may not have available to begin with.

 

  1. If you can’t make it on time… call. It’s much appreciated.

 

  1. No you can’t smoke at the table in America, it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what sort of income you have… like seatbelts, it’s the law.

 

  1. If there is no kid’s menu… then they probably don’t have chicken nugget or mac and cheese in the kitchen either.

 

  1. Remember, loud perfume just means it’s cheap. Enjoy smelling the aromas of good food and wine… lay off the Tresor.

 

  1. If you choose to sit outside… don’t bitch about the whether.

 

  1. Ladies… you know what you’re doing. If you wear a dress that shows more nipples than cleavage…don’t get mad when your server keeps looking at them (or if your order is slightly inaccurate for that matter).

 

  1. Putting your wallet on your table doesn’t necessarily mean ‘bring the check’ most servers are trained to bring the check when requested.

 

  1. If you must absolutely have foamy egg-white omelet with thin blanched asparagus, skinned tomatoes, and slightly steamed baby broccoli, be courteous and human about it… don’t be obnoxious ordering something overly complicated, Otherwise make it yourself so treat you can see how difficult you are…  especially in the morning. Remember, we are indeed fortunate to have the ability to order such a thing; it is after all a privilege not a right.

 

  1. If a wine list doesn’t have anything you are familiar with… then it was probably done on purpose. Ask who wrote it and just ask for a recommendation. Tell them what you usually drink.

 

  1. Do not tell the staff the least great vintage of Silver Oak or Chateau expensive you just had… no one cares. And you look like a raging buffoon.

 

  1. “Sharing style” or “family style,” means no individual plates. It’s ok for people to pick off one plate… enjoy a change of things for once.

 

  1. Most hotel restaurants, for breakfast, don’t have doughnuts, chocolate chip muffins or croissant sandwiches or breakfast burritos… stick to Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds.

 

  1. Leave the double soy, decaf, latte with caramel and pumpkin spice for your locak Starbucks… again, in a restaurant. Keep it simple… you look more sophisticated.

 

  1. An espresso is just a coffee… not a combo that includes a biscotti or a wedge of lemon peel (both New York traditions).

 

  1. Most restaurants have either Coca Cola or Pepsi but usually not both.

 

  1. The flower on the table (or anything else for that matter) is not for you to take home.

 

  1. If you don’t want to look like a hobo leave the bread, never order the leftover breadbasket “to go.”

 

  1.  Most restaurants offer one brand of coffee… and Starbucks is not one of them.

 

  1. Johnnie Walker blue is not a single malt. Don’t talk about it like it is… again it only makes you look stupid.

 

  1. Courvoisier, or any other cognac is an AFTER DINNER drink, not meant to be drank thorough the meal (unless you’re Chinese).

 

  1. If you will add coke or juice to it… don’t worry about getting the most expensive champagne, cognac, or rum… you’re wasting your money.

 

  1. Don’t buy the cheapest bottle of wine and bitch about the stemware. Next time buy something above $100.00 and see what kind of glasses you get.

 

  1. ALWAYS ask the corkage policy of a restaurant, never assume, and never ever just show up with your wine anyway. It may only mean embarrassment for you and your guests.

 

  1. Its dinner not a fashion show… less is more.

 

  1. No one cares about your broche. So stop telling every one. Ditto with your last vacation.

 

  1. Don’t stare for an hour at your bill making faces… it makes you look cheap.

 

  1. Don’t complain to everyone around you about how small the menu is… with today’s access to technology you could have seen the menu before you got there. Plus less food means fresher ingredients and better-prepared dishes. If you want selection there’s always the local diner or Denny’s.

 

  1. Having seen most of the world I know this: dining (not simply eating) is a privilege. Enjoy it, have fun with it—don’t use it as an outlet for your crabbiness or bitterness. The truth is those that work in hospitality are not getting paid all that much for it but, they love it. They do it because partaking in service, food, wine, etc. bring them pleasure. It brings them pleasure to bring you, hopefully, a little bit of pleasure as well. Does it come with a price? Yes, to both parties in fact: those serving and those being served.

The Almanac of What the Modern Man Needs to Know: The Davidoff Special “T”

 There are perhaps few brands with such a storied reputation as the house that Zino Davidoff built. The Davidoff brand has become a symbol of luxury the world over with its collections of fine fragrances and cigars. To smoke a Davidoff cigar is to gain an understanding of the company’s seminal motto, “The Good Life.”

by: Richard Urban

I was first attracted to the Davidoff collection of cigars by this appealing line that, in many ways, summed up my approach to life. Still, the light Connecticut wrappers that grace the majority of the brand’s offerings left me nervous. As a fan of Arturo Fuente’s exceedingly scare Anejo line and Dunhill’s maduros I have enjoyed a stronger smoke. My fears about the brand were put to rest by a acquaintance who frequents the same cigar club where I am a member.

Since that fateful day I have smoked many of Davidoff’s exquisitely wrapped cigars. I was thus pleasantly surprised when a friend presented me with one of the company’s collections. My first selection was a cigar that I had been previously unable to acquire, The Special “T”.

Appearance

The Specimen

The Smoke

This pyramid shaped cigar gave easily to a gentle press from my cigar cutter.  The Special T was extremely easy to light and was pleased that it burned in a even manner. There are few situations more distressing to the seasoned cigar smoker than the displeasure of relighting a cigar mid-smoke. The Special T did not disappoint in this regard.

Characteristically of a Davidoff cigar, the Special T had a medium and easy draw. As the experience continued I began to note some hints of a woody taste that lent itself well to the enjoyment of a fireplace. Though the cigar has a very dry character it did not negatively affect the palate. As the cigar began to near its inevitable end I was delighted to pick up hints of spices.

  As with nearly all Davidoff cigars, the Special T was a fairly quick smoke and lasted about half an hour. Upon finishing, I rose from the chair that I had chosen in the lounge and recorded my favorable impressions in the lengthening Davidoff section of my cigar journal. This chore concluded, I removed my smoking jacket and bade farewell to my fellow smokers.

I would recommend this cigar for two occasions. This cigar lasts just the perfect amount of time for a lively after dinner conversation. Also, the lightness of the Special “T” lends itself well to a smoke enjoyed over a pile of paperwork brought home from the office or assigned by a professor.

 
Richard Urban has been smoking fine cigars since he turned 18 and at any given night can be found in Union Cigar Club in Pennsylvania. Richard runs a rare book store and currently attends Gettysburg College.