Friday, July 29, 2016

Dallas, Part 1

As we all get middle-aged, epic road trips among the boys get fewer and farther in between. So when the Badgers were called to begin the 2015 football season in Arlington against the Crimson Tide, Aaron, M.J., and I took to the road for the 15-odd hour trip into the heart of Texas. The overnight trip cost us a few hours of sleep, but, luckily for us, the game was at night so we had tailgating to do. Now, dear reader, if you are a true Lounge Lizard, you know that I can’t leave the Lone Star State without dropping in at a Spec’s. Fortunately, there was a Spec’s just blocks away from AT&T Stadium, so we added more thirsty gentlemen (term used loosely since Tom N. joined us) to the van and took off to find some tailgate goodies.

Once at Spec’s, we perused the whiskeys, mezcals, and tequilas that makes being close to the border with Mexico oh so great. I grabbed some Ranger Creek Rimfire Whiskey (see its separate entry in the FWL), a 1.75 ml of Cazadores, and a bottle of Boxcar Texas Whiskey from Rio Brazos Distillery in College Station. Aaron snared a local Texas whiskey as well as some of Ranger Creek’s rye. Now, Cindy couldn’t make the trip with us, but she still made a demand. “If you’re going to Spec’s,” she said, “you need to pick up some Paula’s Orange.” Aaron and I did, five bottles of Paula’s products a piece, which was all that Spec’s had.

What’s so special about Paula’s Texas Orange? Well, it’s Texas’ version of arancello and limoncello respectively, made with hand-squeezed love by Paula Angerstein, the first woman licensed distiller in Texas. Also, it’s cost-effective at around $16 a bottle. It’s Texas-sized 80 proof is roof-high for a liqueur and packs a zing in the drink it was made for- the margarita.

Let’s give you that recipe-

Texas Top Shelf Margarita

1 ½ ounces tequila
¾ ounce Paula’s Orange
½ ounce simple syrup
A squeeze of ½ a lime

Build all ingredients in a small iced Margarita glass or cocktail glass. Stir to incorporate. If your glasses are bigger, double the recipe!

Here’s one with Rio Brazos Boxcar whiskey (which combines sweet creaminess with green apple notes)-

Improved Whiskey Sour

1 ½ ounces Texas whiskey (we used Rio Brazos)
½ ounce Paula’s Orange
½ ounce Paula’s Lemon
½ ounce simple syrup
A squeeze of ½ a lemon.

Build all ingredients in an iced rocks glass. Stir to cool down.

Back at the tailgate, the Ranger Creek whiskeys came out along with lots of Miller Lite (roots, you know) to challenge the aim of those partaking in rounds of bags (not cornhole, losers). The drinking was only interrupted by football. The night would have been so much better with a big Badger win, but it was not to be, so we reloaded the van to the brim with obnoxious, partially-lubed ‘gentlemen’ for the ride back to their temporary digs in and around Dallas.

Now that was it for most of the boys, however Aaron, M.J. and I came to drink! So it was time to find an honest-to-goodness cocktail bar in Dallas. I think we’ll save that story for next time we meet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

One-to-Ones

“Whaddya have?” The question sometimes still blindsides us. You’ve just walked into a bar that’s not busy or a server is already at your table and you haven’t had time to think of a drink yet. The pressure is on! Most of us Wisconsinites have a go-to one-to-one (a drink that is part one thing and one part another) that we order in this situation; for most of us, it’s the same drink time after time. Now, if you are a fan of the FWL, given the thousands of known and yet-to-be-discovered cocktails, you’ll know we hate, hate, hate ordering the same damn drink over and over again. So, to alleviate the stress of ordering that first rushed one-to-one (or simple two ingredient cocktail), keep this standard guide in your smartphone’s quick reference.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Moonlight Mead

On our way up to Manchester, New Hampshire, we took a quick detour to a meadery that we were interested in outside Derry. For those of you that have never had mead, essentially it is honey wine. Basic mead, obviously, lacks the characteristic grape tannins found in tradition red wine, which dry out the wine (make it much less sweet). Specialty meads, then, often balance the meads out using the bitter tannins in other flavors to great effect such as tea, dark chocolate, cloves, pomegranates, oak and coffee. Moonlight Meadery, the small meadery we tracked down, specializes in mind-blowing mead concoctions that have to be tasted to be believed.

Moonlight Meadery, like wineries and breweries, offers a number of tastings and tours; we elected the ‘Queen Bee’ Sample flight of seven meads. The seven we tried were the blackberry semi-sweet Mischief, the cranberry sweet Au Naturel, the cinnamon Kurt’s Apple Pie, the barrel-aged Virtue, the vanilla Madagascar, the gingery Deviant, and coffee-chocolate Seduction.
We ended up purchasing three meads: Madagascar, Deviant and Seduction, the last two, we pictured here. The Deviant is a lively combination of apple and ginger, which is a great palate cleanser and would make for a wonderful summer brunch mead. On the other hand, the Seduction is a smooth mix of chocolate, vanilla, and Sumatra coffee. On the palate, it's chocolatey-blunted acidity melts into mellow coffee notes which makes for a great dessert mead. Both meads, as you see, are absolutely beautiful in a glass.