reviews, recommendations, recipes, and The Bar Project

Guinness Dominos TV Advertisement

Posted by dave

Guinness Dominos

Keeping in line with our love of not just booze and bar supplies – but also really, really good advertising, we’ve got another commercial for you.

Just like the Carlton Draft Big Ad, Guinness has a new advertisement happening overseas that has little chance of making it state-side. With their theme “Good things come to those who wait”, Guinness has delivered a ridiculously giant Dominos inspired advertisement – a Domino village with an impressive ending. This is an advertisement you’ve got to see.

read more…

Posted in Advertising, Beer, Stout | 30 comments »

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Vintage 2002

Posted by dave

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage 2002

So it’s no real surprise that we’re reviewing another Australian wine. As a matter of a fact, it’s no secret that – booze-for-buck – when it comes to wines, we think that Australia just about has the lock on the market.

However, trying to be responsible reviewers (and obviously trying to keep Australia from becoming snooty) we made a pact to try to vary our wine countries a little, and we did. Some of the bottles of wine we reviewed came from the vineyards of France, Italy, and South Africa.

But there I was in the wine store, and sitting lonely by itself was a bottle of Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, vintage 2002 no less. No longer having to beg our parents “can we PLEASE take it home with us!??” I just slid the debit card through the little slot at the cashier station, and this little bottle was now part of our family.

However, as with all pets, we eventually had to open it and ingest what was inside, so we figured we’d share the experience with you, our very small public.

read more…

Posted in Australian, Red Wine | 23 comments »

Homage to Guinness

Posted by dave


I wanted to share just a few words regarding one of my new favorite to-drink brews – good, old fashioned, always-there Guinness. I’ve been a Guinness drinker for some time now (being a regular at the Philadelphia Guinness Believers events) but I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding the beer of beers, and why I love it so much.

Guinness is certainly not the beer that beer snobs pay much attention to. It was originated for the masses, often was used as a carb-substitute for families that could afford Guinness and not bread (although it was much more watered down then) and you have to count the number of pints pounded by the hundred-millions. In a North vs. South struggle, Ireland splits its loyalties between Guinness and Murphy’s, but that’s not really the topic of discussion right now.

I think I know why it is I’m drawn to this beer – it’s that it is about one of the only beers I have ever tried that tastes good at room temperature. When not partying at super-high levels, I tend to enjoy my drink. I don’t pour a beer and then stare at an empty glass 3 minutes later – on the contrary – a pint might last me a good half hour if the sipping-mood strikes me.

But for most beers, it’s equivalent to drinking room-temperature coffee. You kind of want to get at coffee when it’s hot (or iced) and not when it has settled to room temperature. The same goes for beer – the icer and colderer (made up some words there) the beer is, the better.

That’s not true for Guinness. As a matter of a fact, in certain parts of the world, Guinness is served at room temperature – and if you got the right couple of Guinness zealots in the same room together, you could probably see them come to blows about the correct temperature to serve a pint. Guinness, for its part, doesn’t care, and recently introduced Guinness Extra Cold (just Guinness shot through a super-cooler) so – you know, have it however you like it.

For me though, it’s the core beauty. The roasted barley taste is of course a wonderful thing, and I seem to be skipping over the entire idea of flavor here altogether. But don’t be fooled – it’s that Guinness retains it’s smokey great flavor at just about any temperature. That means there’s no rush to drink, no hurry to indulge. The same pint can be enjoyed for a drawn-out period of time (in beer-drinking parlance anyway) and at the end, you’re still ENJOYING it.

So, since we usually don’t tap on the most famous of beers around here, but I’ve been having myself a Guinness pint regularly recently, I thought I’d just give a hat-tip to this almost 250 year old beer. And don’t get too upset if your local bar doesn’t know how to properly pour a Guinness – it still tastes pretty damn good.

Posted in Beer, Stout | 33 comments »

Ernest Gallo Dead at 97

Posted by dave

Ernest Gallo

Ernest Gallo, personally responsible for either the making of or distribution of many of the wines that you drink (and we have reviewed) died on Tuesday, March 6, 2007. He was 97 years old.

He and his brother Julio started making wine just after the lifting of prohibition in 1933, charging half of what the going rate for a gallon of wine was at the time. The $30,000 they made in their first year of business helped skyrocket the company to the largest wine distributor in the world.

Aside from making their own series of labels of wine, they also became responsible for seeking out and finding international wines and bringing them into the US, like the DaVinci 2005 Chianti we reviewed here earlier. Their basic business plan involved bringing good, affordable wine to the average consumer – a tenant that we absolutely love.

Both Gallo brothers suffered from disturbing pasts – including the murder-suicide deaths of their parents, a mere 2 months before their first winery opened for business. They shunned publicity, and ruled their empire with an iron fist, demanding intense loyalty from all who worked for them. Julio, who passed away in 1993 at the age of 83, was primarily responsible for making their signature brand wines. Ernest handled sales, marketing, and distribution primarily.

At his death, the gentleman who – along with his brother – put Modesto, CA on the map – had a wine empire that distributed over 75 million cases of wine under 40+ labels.

We’re pretty sure we drank at least one million of those cases personally last year.

So today we mourn the passing of a man who helped define the very class of wines we review here at The Bar Project, and have helped introduce countless millions of people to the pleasures of wine.

Thank you Mr. Gallo, you will be missed.

Posted in News in Alcohol | 28 comments »

Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (2002 Riserva)

Posted by dave


I love a wine that works well in all kinds of situations. I love a wine that you pick up because of a cool label and it ends up being a great find. And I love a wine that comes with a piece of wood tied to the bottle. That last part really makes all the difference.

So we’ve been on a bit of an Italian wine binge recently. The Davinci Chianti, and the Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico are two we’ve reviewed and really enjoyed. On a whim, we picked up a really neat looking 2002 Cantina Zaccagnini il vino “dal tralcetto” montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva. (Gotta love all those Italian words. Cantina means “Wine Cellar”. Our Italian is staggeringly mediocre, and we’re happy to help with the translation.) It’s called a “Red Dry Wine”, and it’s really good.

“Really good.” Yeah, ok, it’s late tonight and I’m a bit too tired to think of good metaphors and thesaurus thingies… ya know… words…

Point is, this wine is both cool in show and super tasty. I expected it to be really strong based on the initial smell, or “nose” as it were. It caught me off guard by the degree of fragrance, and I almost expected the wine to be equally as strong. That would have meant that it wouldn’t have been as universally appreciated. However, the flavor was something else all together.

It does come on a touch strong on first sip, but it almost instantly cools off. It’s certainly dry, but it’s rosy and soft and almost a touch sweet. It has a hint of a woody flavor (perhaps the reason for the twig attached to the front of the bottle) and that just adds to the understated complexity of the wine.

This is a short review – I’m otherwise engaged in enjoying this wine. You will too, if you pick up a bottle. It goes well with dinner (especially a pasta in a red cream sauce), works well with snacks (great with a sharp cheddar – or even better, a sharp Italian cheese, like a pecorino romano) or is even spectacular on its own.

And despite the accolades thus far, here’s the best part – $14 a bottle. Beat that.

Posted in Italian, Red Wine | 54 comments »

Hobgoblin Strong Dark Ale

Posted by dave


Wychwood Brewing (hit the link for the “story” of the Hobgoblin name) have themselves a real gem with this somewhat oddly-named ale. A healthy 5.2% ABV doesn’t hurt the experience, but it’s the flavor that makes this a curious, yet desirable brew.

First things first – it’s an ale, and we here at The Bar Project likes us an ale any day of the week. Ales tend to be a bit hoppier and fuller in flavor. On the downside – that is, to anyone wanting to drink about 15 beers at a single sitting, they also tend to be a bit heavier.

This ale is actually relatively light, and even a bit fruity. Normally, I’d be totally turned off by this. I’m of the recently dedicated Man Law “Don’t Fruit The Beer“. But it’s so – hidden – that it’s really not something of concern. It flavors the beer very subtly, so I won’t take off points for it.

You’ve also gotta love the fact that Hobgoblin comes in a full pint plus an extra 0.9 oz for good luck – none of this measly 12 oz per serving nonsense. If you give the Brits nothing else, give them that they understand beer should come in pints, not anemic 12 oz servings.

I’ll try to straighten out this post that so far is completely all over the place. Flavor wise, you’ve got a standard ale hop strength – mild, but noticeable. It’s slightly fruity, but I have no idea what fruit it is I’m tasting, but there is a sweet side to this beer undoubtedly.

The more-than-pint-sized serving (which, as an expression, is usually is a derogatory, but here is meant as a compliment) is quite appreciated. The color is reddish brown and unimpressive, and the head doesn’t have much lasting power, but these are trivial things that hardly detract from the beer.

Hmm… look at that. As usual, I’m drinking currently what I’m reviewing, and I’ve noticed something that you don’t see much in beers these days – sediment. It’s not a bad thing – in fact, it’s a byproduct of the brewing process, so this simply means that Hobgoblin isn’t filtered millions of times. That could in fact help add to the flavor, so I’ll just let it pass.

As I noted above, this review is all over the place, so I’ll just end it and put it out of its misery. Hobgoblin Strong Dark Ale is good. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to find it, but it’s a solid English ale, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to experience it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s still more to drink. 500 ml is just about 41% more beer than a normal 12 oz bottle, and I’m feeling like 41% more of an ale fan tonight.

Posted in Ale, Beer, English | 18 comments »

Da Vinci 2005 Chianti

Posted by dave


It’s been a while since we’ve offered up a really decent wine to those of you who – like us – appreciate a bottle that won’t require dipping into the kids’ college funds. We’ve made an effort to bring you wines that we like that are below an average of $15/bottle – many have been below $10.

We’re happy to have another to add to the list – and believe it or not, this one’s not Australian. If you follow The Bar Project, you know that we love our Australian wines, and it’s not just the cool accents or man-eating lizards. Australia has proven itself quite the vineyard indeed.

However, for this one, we’re returning to a land dear to our hearts. Italy.

This Italian wine isn’t hard to pick out as Italian. If it were an Australian wine named “Da Vinci”, we can only imagine the Italians would be pissed. But that’s not the situation, so I’m just gonna go ahead and stop talking about the Australians already.

This wine is really good. There, I’ve said it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say in the way of taste that’s explanatory. In a previous life, I’ve tried to emote what it was I tasted. Cherries here, berries there, a smoked salmon or something… But honestly, I’m not a wine connoisseur, so to try to be one would be wrong of me. (Please don’t read any previous posts.)

Here’s what it is I do like – it’s smooth and cool and bites back just a tiny bit. It’s not afraid of itself, and I’m not afraid of it. At $11, this is a table wine that now frequents our little condo. It’s not as full-bodied as the previously reviewed Rufino Aziano, nor as sweet as the also previously reviewed Little Penguin Shiraz. But then again, it’s not a Shiraz, so the comparison may not be fair.

However, as with all reviews we do at The Bar Project, I am currently drinking a glass of this wine as I review it – and as plain as I can put it, I plan to follow up with another, because although I have difficulty putting my finger on why it is I do like it – I really DO like it.

Perhaps I like that it’s light and doesn’t try to conquer your mouth. Perhaps I like that it’s almost cool on your tongue. Perhaps it’s the little reminder it leaves behind that it was just there – or the fact that despite its cool entry, it’s warming to the person.

Either way – go ahead out and pick up a bottle. It’s inexpensive – but that doesn’t degrade this Chianti from Italy at all. If anything, it simply makes it more accessible to those of us with limited disposable income, and for that, we thank Ernest and Julio Gallo. That’s right, the American staple and largest wine distributor is responsible for purchasing a large portion of the stock created by Alberto Antonini at Cantine Leonardo da Vinci, a wine grower’s cooperative, and bringing it to the United States (in, no doubt, an effort to add more upscale wines into it’s portfolio.)
But the mess that is the distribution chain is of little concern – the wine is effortless, and we plan on drinking more.

Posted in Italian, Red Wine | 30 comments »

Trӧegs HopBack Amber Ale

Posted by dave


So I’m a hops fan – at this point in time it’s not a secret. I’m also more usually a fan of a good ale over a beer. Although to the common man they’re both pretty much the same thing, I find myself usually smiling a bit more at a well-made ale.

But back to the hops, I’m in a small store in Philly checking out some crazy brews, and the Troegs (sorry, that’s Trӧegs with the funny “ӧ”) not only claims to be hoppy, but has a picture of a hops plant right there on the label. It’s a bold statement – because if it’s not hoppy – well… that’s just false advertising.

Having no reason to doubt the sincerity of the brewers, I picked up one. Now, sipping on this brew, I wish I had gotten more. Many, many more.

I admit that at first I assumed – no, I hoped – it would kick of hops like Victory’s HopDevil (also an ale) or River Horse’s Hop Devil (pale ale). But now that this ale and I have been introduced, I’m oddly happy to report that the hops is almost – reserved.

Ok, so this is called an Amber Ale, and man is it pretty. It’s like pouring liquid apricot, and it’s even got a slightly amber head. The head lasts for a good time, although after a minute or two of admiration I briefly looked away at the Miami-Steelers game, and it was almost instantly gone.

Undeterred, I took my first sip, and was confused. My palette was infused with taste, and yet the hops didn’t muscle out the other flavors in the ale – it was hardly a one-hop show.

Trӧegs HopBack Amber Ale is like having a serving of fruit – it’s perhaps the sweetest ale we’ve reviewed to date. While the hops definitely makes an entrance, it’s the sweetness of this ale that stays with you for a while – and that ain’t a bad thing.

Back to the hops though – um, YUM. While still being too hoppy for anyone that doesn’t consider themselves a drinker that lives for hops, I can’t overstate the subdued nature of the hops flavor. It’s soft yet strong, quiet yet unquestionably present.

That’s really all I can say about the flavor. It’s hardly complex – and that’s it’s charm. Rather it’s a sweet, cool, refreshing amber that makes up for its sugary flavor with a healthy helping of soft hops. The woody flavor of the hops is ever present, and it’s like eating the apricot – and the branch it grew on – at the same time.

This is a great hop-infused beer/ale. If you’re a hops fan, Trӧegs HopBack Amber Ale is your new champaigne. It’s for anyone with a tongue for hops, but it’s maturity in flavor makes this an ale for the palette looking for something… well… more mature. And as some of us get older, we’re looking for our beer to grow up with us – and Trӧegs HopBack Amber Ale is right in step.

Posted in Ale, Beer | 15 comments »

Chateau Gaillard Saint Emilion Grand Cru

Posted by dave

Chateau Gaillard Grad Cru

I’m not going to give you the full background of this particular wine, since the importers of this French wine do a fine job themselves.

What I will tell you is that despite the somewhat steep price tag, this wine certainly sits in a category higher than some of the wines we’ve reviewed here before. It’s dry, strong, bold, and really really good.

Unlike some wines that are sweeter and easier to drink in quantity, this particular wine presents strong from the beginning and continues to do so long after you’ve actually swallowed it. I’m not sure how best to describe what I taste when drinking this wine, but it’s almost as if it was interred in an old scotch barrel for some time before being bottled and sent to the States. It warms you as you drink it – perhaps better during the winter than these warm summer months.
Initially, it presents strong – a word I’ve overused and abused in a few short paragraphs, but I’m not sure how else to describe it. I found myself surprised by it’s introduction – having been drinking fruitier wines for some time, I didn’t expect such a bold aroma.

The taste doesn’t do any disservice to the smell that hits you pre-sip. It almost dries your tounge as it touches it. The warmth of a good scotch presents right along with the wine, and it totally makes the flavor. I’m reminded of the smell of wood as it burns in a camp fire, the flavor of meat cooked over an open flame – this wine almost demands a hearty meal as an accompanyment, and it’s brilliant with a thick steak or other red meat.

It’s a great wine, but if you only enjoy a lighter, frutier red, this may not be for you. It’s bold, it’s striking, and I recommend it highly. However, at around $30, I recommend it for a special occasion, not a daily drinker. If this wine came down in price, it would find itself on my shelf on a consistent basis. Since it does demand a higher price, however, it won’t grace my table as often as I would like.

Posted in French, Red Wine | 21 comments »

Duvel Belgian Ale – Just Great Beer!

Posted by sean

Duvel Belgian Ale

With a brewing history dating from the Middle Ages and born from monastic traditions, it’s hard to ignore Belgium’s influence on the brewing community – after all, how can you argue with experience and the church?

When looking to imports, Belgian beers – and particularly Belgian Ales – are some of the best and most widely available to be had. And selection – wow! – Belgian breweries produce over 500 standard varieties (not including again as many specialty brews and one-offs) – all from a country smaller than the state of Maryland with about twice as many residents (reportedly all avid beer drinkers!).

So if you just can’t stomach the idea of trying to force down another of what passes for beer from the largest American breweries and you’re in a mood for a beer with great flavor – read on…

read more…

Posted in Ale, Beer, Belgium, General | 61 comments »

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

Posted by dave

Japanese Classic Ale

I’m walking down Pine street in Philadelphia, and happen upon this small deli that sells a whole international selection of beers. Bonus – they have a “make your own six pack” policy on all these international beers, so at least a few reviews will your way be coming.

Not going to spend a lot of time on this ale, but it deserves a taste should you happen upon it. It’s not cheap – a single 11.2 oz bottle cost a whopping $2.50, but it’s certainly worth having at least one for your own beer edification. Nothing wrong with being able to say “oh, Hitachino Nest Beer’s Japanese Classic Ale? Of course I’ve had it. Where have you been?”

read more…

Posted in Ale, Beer, General, Japanese | 29 comments »

Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico

Posted by dave

Herein also known as “The Wine My Fiancé Picked Out”, Ruffino’s Aziano Chianti Classico is a wonderful addition to our small but growing catalog of drinks that if you haven’t yet enjoyed, you darned well should. At $11 a bottle, you really don’t have any excuse for not trying it.

I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet – there isn’t a thing to not like about this wine. Well, maybe one thing. If you, my friend, are the kind of person that enjoys a wine that kicks like a pissed off Clydesdale, this isn’t for you. But if you are like me – a person that appreciates both a hearty wine as well as one that goes down easy, then this is one for the books.

read more…

Posted in Italian, Red Wine | 17 comments »

Marge’s Marvelous Manhattan ®

Posted by sean

When it comes to a favorite – any favorite – there is a comfort that comes without thinking – or perhaps more accurately a comfort that come from not having to think.

In my own case, that comfort comes with the topic of this post – the Manhattan – my own particular favorite when it comes to cocktails.

Depending on my mood, I enjoy a variety of drinks, but when the question comes, “What’ll you have” – the first answer that comes without thinking is – a Manhattan, a Perfect Manhattan on the sweet side, to be precise.

As is the custom here at the bar project, I am at this very moment enjoying a Manhattan and hope it’s story below does not suffer as its warm and welcome effects take hold.

To start with, I consider the Manhattan to be an adult’s drink – surely not unapproachable, but in a class of drinks that requires a certain familiarity with alcohol before one is likely to appreciate it.

read more…

Posted in Mixed Drinks, Recipes, Whiskey | 23 comments »

Welcome to Philadelphia

Posted by dave

Philadelphia - Home (soon)

So the lack of posts seems to have escaped just about everyone, save one endearing friend I have named Ed.  He reminds me on a near daily basis, just in case I forget the neglect I seem to have strewn upon all five of you who read this blog.

But there is a reason – a method behind my madness – that I have been so absent.  I have hinted in past posts that I am moving, and the moving has been taking its toll.

My girlfriend and I bought a place in old city Philadelphia.  It’s a wonderful building, over 200 years old, that is being gutted and rebuilt inside into about 20 condos. It sits on a historic cobblestone street. Very cool area, very artsy, steeped in history and culture.  Oh, and it’s a brilliant restaurant and bar scene.

The move is not without its bumps.  Construction has been delayed several times, the latest catching us in a bit of a quandary.  In order to pay for the new condo, we had to sell my girlfriend’s place, and I ended the lease on my apartment.  Well, we did that assuming a March settlement date on the new condo, which has come and gone.  We’re now essentially homeless, save for the amazing support of family.

On top of that, I’ve started my new job in Philadelphia, also taking time away from things like keeping up on my reviews.  So having no real home with no kitchen and no bar, my drinking has taken a deep dive into the realms of almost nil.  A scary scenario I know, but it’s true.  I have several bottles of ale and wine in storage that I plan to share with you – once they are back out of storage.

In the mean time, I’m going to try to start sharing some of the Philadelphia scene with you as well.  There are some really cool bars and restaurants around the city, and as I start visiting them all, I’ll be sure to share them.  I know it’s a bit local in nature, but hopefully some of you live in the area.

In that vein, we’re also going to change the format of this blog a bit.  We’ve been all over the charts with postings – regarding starting a business, ASP.NET vs RoR, web design standards, etc.  I’ve come to realize that most of our traffic comes from the inebriated faithful of you who care more about booze than my decision to run on top of the .NET 2.0 Framework.  So we’re going to cut out a lot of the technical baloney and focus more on reviews of booze and bars, and other cool gadgets related to the industry we’re choosing to place ourselves.

So code hounds, I apologize.  Perhaps we’ll open a section dedicated only to tech, but we’ll see about that later.

Until then, check out a really cool restaurant in old city Philadelphia called Fork. It’s one of the first places my girlfriend ever took me in Philly (having lived here before) and so I share it with you all.  Good food, cool atmosphere, really cool name.

Posted in General, Restaurants | 15 comments »

The Perfect Vodka Gimlet – With Grey Goose, Of Course

Posted by dave

Vodka Gimlet

It has come to the attention of my ever watching eye that this website gets hit quite often looking for information on the veritable Vodka Gimlet. I posted about my love for said drink in some post somewhere, and Google has picked it up and sent many a budding Gimlet connoisseur my way.

So I have, in my wisdom, decided it wise to share with you the perfect Vodka Gimlet recipe – from ingredients to the way to pre-treat the glass. Those in the know already know that a Vodka Gimlet is one of the easiest recipes to make. It requires very little skill and is big on taste. But there are things that can be done to make it even perfect-er, and here is Dave’s way of making the perfect Vodka Gimlet.

The reason I’m such a Gimlet fan is because while I like certain drinks and flavorful martinis, I’m not a huge fan of hard alcohol. I quite more often find myself dancing with a glass of wine or beer – I’ve enjoyed enough beer in my life to get a small nation toasted.

So drinking hard alcohol not being on my personal top 10 list of exciting and fun ways to spend my time (my brother will one day disown me for not appreciating a good scotch) I’m relatively picky about what mixed drinks or martinis I actually do ingest.

But sometimes a drink comes along that wakes up the taste buds to a new experience. Such was the deal when Sean’s wife first introduced my (breathtaking) girlfriend and me to a Vodka Gimlet one evening while we were visiting them. I was immediately hooked – as was the girlfriend.

It’s an easy drink to make. The basics are 1.5 oz of vodka to 1 oz of lime juice, mix, and serve. But a good Gimlet is so much more. Here’s the way to make yourself a perfect Gimlet (like the one I’m enjoying right now).

read more…

Posted in Mixed Drinks, Recipes, Vodka | 415 comments »

Review: Warsteiner Premium Verum

Posted by dave


Beer is one of those things that has an incredibly storied history. It dates back to the fifth millennium BC and is one of the oldest known human-produced beverages, which proves that despite anything anyone may say, the human race has had some sort of acceptable and condonable understanding of taste for over seven thousand years.

The oldest known chemically tested evidence of beer from over 7000 years ago actually comes from what is now known as Iran. So despite any nuclear arms race, anti-western sentiment, or totalitarian government forcing its citizenry into zealous oppression supported by an extremely fundamentalist interpretation of the Islamic religion… to Iran, I say a hearty “thanks”.

I’m not going to wax educational this entire post, so if you’re interested in learning the interesting history of beer, head on over here. But it’s important to know that beer is older than wine, any other man-made alcoholic beverage, and even most man made beverages of any kind.

So it is with great pleasure that I introduce Warsteiner to anyone who drinks beer but doesn’t know the producer, and I share with those who know Warsteiner the satisfaction that is its drinking experience.

read more…

Posted in Beer, Lager | 41 comments »

Brewin’ My Own

Posted by dave

My Own Brew

Since we seem to be dealing with a theme here, one of the gifts I may have hinted at wanting for Christmas this year was a home-brewing kit – beer style. I’m not the first in my family to attempt the home-brew – my grandfather (may he rest in peace) used to make a killer red wine. I can vaguely remember as a child venturing down into his basement and staring in awe at all the barrels in a line, presumably full of a wine-in-progress – and to the side of the barrels, several bottles of ready-to-drink wine – corked, wax-sealed, and oh so tasty to a young man almost a decade away from his legal right to drink.

Childhood memories, added on top of my apparently random stab at making my way in the world of libations and libation accessories led me to the obvious conclusion that eventually I would have to make a hobby of the very thing that currently drives my ambition. Why not brew some beer, I thought? After all, how hard could it be?

As luck would have it, a friend (and former business partner in EDM Software) and I both received different brew-it-yourself home beer brew kit for Christmas. They’re hardly expensive – you can pick one up at Target for less than $40. Anyway, it struck us before we began our first brew that perhaps this could become a hobby that we could actually sink our teeth in to (and, if I can see the future as I believe I can, a few greenbacks as well.)

So as I type this, my home-brew is just put away for a 2 week nap to ferment and – with any real luck – become something palatable. My kit was the second that we attempted – our first brew is also mid-fermentation, but as we’re finding, it’s not as easy as one would think.

Nonetheless, I can see a fun future in brewing beer for home consumption. I still have questions about the amount of dextrose a good brew really requires (you’d really be surprised, it feels cola-like in quantity) and I have yet to scrape the very top of the knowledge-tree of understanding when it comes to the different types of yeast, barley, hops, etc. Heck, I haven’t even completed the fermentation process once yet, so the step of beer conditioning seems like a faint mirage miles down the road.

Anyway, if I’m going to immerse myself in the alcohol culture, I might as well do it with as much gusto as I possibly can.

Coming soon is my first – and this site’s first – review of a beer. I can only hope that sometime in the distant future I might brew a beer worthy of bragging about. But for now, my Mr. Beer and I are still working on forging a friendship, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten in this mysterious world of home brewing.

Posted in Beer, Home Brewing | 129 comments »

Review: 2005 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

Posted by sean


Like my business partner, Dave, I will not even begin to pretend to be a wine connoisseur, but can affirm that I heartily enjoy a variety of wines, beers, and liquors and look forward to sharing some of my favorites – old and new – with you.

As unlikely as it may seem to those who may know me otherwise, I have heretofore clearly been the proverbial ‘silent’ partner on The Bar Project blog. However, I am equally excited to dive into a new world – particularly given that neither of us has any real professional experience in this area, which makes the trek all that more adventurous.

Now – on to the reason for this entry and our next wine review.

read more…

Posted in French, Red Wine | 9 comments »

Carlton Draft – The Big Ad

Posted by dave

Big Ad

Carlton Draft in Australia has a great commercial which will never be shown here in the states, so I thought I’d share the love. Thanks to my brother Sean (not the business partner Sean) for the pointer.

I love a great commercial or advertisement campaign. We’re inundated with trash advertising almost constantly through the day. I’m sick of car advertisements – a commercial break can’t pass without at least one advertisement for a car I really don’t want. So when a really neat advertisement comes along, it’s quite refreshing.

Fortunately, alcohol seems to have a bit more of a sense of humor when it comes to advertising, and so I quite often enjoy ads for brands like Heineken or Miller Genuine Draft. I may or may not drink their beer, but at least I appreciate the effort.

Check out the Carlton Draft ad.

Posted in Advertising, Beer | 26 comments »

A Sad Day

Posted by dave

A Sad Day.

Sidney Frank, the man who created arguably the best vodka on earth, Grey Goose – has passed away. He was 86 years old.

Grey Goose is the only vodka that the girlfriend and I will buy to make our favorite of martini flavors – the Vodka Gimlet. Grey Goose started the ultra-high-end vodka craze a mere 9 years ago, when he was 77. Since then, high-end vodka’s have sprung up all over the place to compete.

But vodka wasn’t this man’s only game. He was a billionaire booze baron, who played a role in the popularization of numerous liquors that you’ve heard of including Jägermeister – my college roommate’s drink of choice during the four year haze that was my university education. (Mine was beer, but if I tell you what kind, you’ll never respect me again.)

Anyway, this isn’t something that you’d come across in your daily news troll, but as I’m getting more into the business of booze, news like this passes my way, so I figured I’d share it. Forbes has a worthy obituary, chronicling this man’s booze-based career since the late 1940’s. An impressive career no doubt, and a man that most of you have to thank for at least one or two drinks that may have met your lips.

Thanks for everything Sidney, especially the Grey Goose. I’ll be sure to give a nod as I sip on a Grey Goose gimlet this weekend.

(Update – another good Forbes article on Sidney Frank.)

Posted in General, Vodka | 16 comments »