VinePair is a new way to understand and talk about wine, beer and cocktails. You drink to relax, celebrate and have a good time. Trying to understand and buy a drink should not be stressful. And now it isn’t.
Every year, the Pink Boots Society (PBS) teams up with hop supplier Yakima Chief to create a special “Pink Boots” blend of hops. The nonprofit, which supports women in the brewing industry, then calls on PBS members and other brewers across the country to use the blend for an annual release celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8.
Samuel Adams announced its Pink Boots release takes inspiration from another notable female figure: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
According to an event page, Sam Adams brewed “When There Are Nine” on International Women’s Day, and will release the Belgian Brut IPA on March 29, 2019. The beer’s name is inspired by Ginsburg’s answer to the question, “When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?”
“We wanted to name it Brut Bader Ginsburg,” a Samuel Adams statement reads, “but our legal team, uh, dissented.”
The brewer is combining the release with a special event at its Boston taproom. Entry costs $20, and tickets include one pint of the IPA, four handmade dumplings, and a $5 donation to the Pink Boots Society. Sam Adams will then donate one dollar for each additional “When There Are Nine” sold.
The event will also feature a special plank contest, inspired by Ginsburg’s infamous workout regimen, and benefiting the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.
“It’s like the glitch-in-the-Matrix feeling. You know something’s wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it,” Teo Hunter says, recalling a beer release he attended at a brewery. “Then it just hit me — I was the only black dude in the line.”
In 2016, Hunter and Beny Ashburn co-founded Dope & Dank, a craft beer lifestyle brand that connects craft beer culture and communities of color through branded streetwear, media, and events. The duo built a loyal fan base among overlooked local and international craft beer lovers.
“There is a huge market of potential craft beer consumers, people of color, who have not had the proper introduction to craft beer,” Chris Maestro, founder and owner of BierWax, a beer and boom bap hip-hop bar in Brooklyn, tells VinePair. “When folks of color in the United States see more black and brown brewers, brewery owners, and bars owned by people of color, it can make a huge impact on diversifying the craft beer consumer base.”
BierWax is one of eight stops Hunter and Ashburn are making this month on a tour across the U.S. and U.K. as they raise money and awareness for their new venture, Crowns & Hops. They announced Crowns & Hops, a craft beer brand and brewery-in-planning, in partnership with Scotland’s BrewDog, in February 2019. It aims to be the first black-owned brewery in Inglewood, Calif., and to create a global network of brewpubs and taprooms that cater to black, brown, and otherwise overlooked beer audiences.
“This is not about tearing down what’s already there, it’s about building what’s not,” Hunter says.
‘Black People Love Beer’
Ashburn and Hunter’s professional partnership began with a beer festival and a T-shirt. Both had backgrounds in media production and entertainment, and bonded over a love for beer. (Incidentally, the pair met on Tinder and dated for a time, but say their relationship is no longer romantic.)
In 2015, Ashburn scored tickets to Brews On The Beach in Santa Barbara, and encouraged Hunter to chat with guests and film it for YouTube. Soon enough, that turned into attending more beer events, shooting and editing videos, and creating a website, BlackPeopleLoveBeer.com. As they gained an online following, they donned “Black People Love Beer” T-shirts at beer festivals and breweries.
Their tees started getting noticed, with responses ranging from funny looks to excitement.
“We realized this is more of a cultural conversation, and this is bigger than even just black people,” Ashburn says.
In 2016, Ashburn and Hunter transitioned the brand name from Black People Love Beer to Dope & Dank. Their aim, then and now, is bridging “dope culture and the dank world of craft beer,” Hunter and Ashburn say in unison. (They often finish each other’s sentences.)
The concept quickly evolved. “Our first-ever event was in a sneaker shop on West Hollywood called Hot Rod,” Ashburn says. “We had Chewy, the head brewer and one of the owners of Boomtown come. It was an easy conversation.” Samuel “Chewy” Chawinga, Hunter explains, is a black man. Other brewers said “no.”
Dope & Dank continued hosting pop-up events at barber shops and salons, bringing the brewery experience to spaces where they knew many people of color were more comfortable.
“This [was] five years ago, so craft beer was significantly more foreign to people of color then,” Ashburn says. “It was important for us to create a space where even if you didn’t drink beer, you’re gonna come and have a good time.”
It took time for Dope & Dank to build momentum; then, it took off. Dope & Dank now collaborates with California breweries like Three Weavers, El Segundo, and State Brewing Company. Most recently, in March 2019, it released a beer with Temescal Brewing and Oakland community group Oakhella called Hella Halftones.
“If you are familiar with the printing industry, you will understand the importance of the halftone dot: It literally is the definition between two spaces,” Hunter says. “We realized there was so much context missing in this conversation.”
Sniffed Out By BrewDog
Hunter remembers being contacted by a television producer working with BrewDog about booking Dope & Dank on the Scottish label’s TV show, “BrewDogs,” which aired on the Esquire Network from 2013 to 2015. Dope & Dank turned it town. Two years later, in 2018, “the same guy reaches out again,” Hunter says, this time requesting Dope & Dank’s presence on “The BrewDog Show,” a new series on BrewDog’s own online subscription-based network. The episode would focus on the Los Angeles brewing community. This time, they agreed.
“We co-produced and co-starred in an episode,” Ashburn says. This being the L.A. segment, BrewDog wanted to “recreate movies and brew beers in different movie scenes,” she says. Dope & Dank’s “movie” was, wouldn’t you know it, “The Matrix.” “I was Trinity, he [Hunter] was Morpheus, and Kip Barns, the owner of L.A. Aleworks, was Neo,” she says. The episode filmed in August 2018 and aired in February 2019.
After the wrap party, BrewDog co-founder James Watt asked about Dope & Dank’s future plans, and how he could help. “We had already been writing the business plan for the brewery,” Hunter says. The next day, “[Watt] made us an offer pretty much on the spot.”
In October 2018, BrewDog named Dope & Dank the first recipients of its Development Fund 2.0, a grant to help beer businesses get started. Both parties announced Crowns & Hops four months later.
As Crowns & Hops, Ashburn, “The Dope” CEO, helms marketing efforts, while Hunter, “The Dank,” leads beer development. Hunter is working with BrewDog’s head of global beer operations to design Crowns & Hops’ first beers: a pilsner, a stout, and an IPA. “Trust me,” Hunter says, “that IPA is going to be a West Coast IPA.”
On March 6, 2019, Crowns & Hops kicked off its 30-day crowdfunding campaign and tour of six cities in the U.S. and U.K. The tour will conclude at BrewDog’s brewery in Ellon, Scotland, where Crowns & Hops will pour its first beer at BrewDog’s Punk AGM Fest (that’s “Annual General Mayhem”) on April 6, 2019.
“Our hope is it does well, but even if it doesn’t, we know that it’s not going to end here. We’re going to keep pushing like we did the five years we were making zero dollars,” Ashburn says.
The goal is to raise $75,000 to fund the buildout of the Crowns & Hops flagship brewery in Inglewood. At press time, with 17 days left, they had reached more than $31,000.
Ashburn and Hunter are expecting, and already experiencing, backlash from some beer community members about their association with BrewDog. Launched in 2007, BrewDog is a lucrative operation with more than 80 bars around the world, exports to 60 countries, and is known for its excessive marketing stunts. Why, then, is Crowns & Hops continuing to raise funds, skeptics ask? It’s “the difference between someone owning someone, and someone investing,” Hunter says.
Besides, “at the end of the day, shouldn’t you be happy that someone was given the opportunity to do something really great?” Ashburn says.
It’s estimated that less than 1 percent of U.S. breweries are black-owned.
“Generally speaking, the support and promotion of African American businesses as a whole should be a common option for everyone,” Kim Harris, co-owner of Harlem Hops, a black-owned beer bar and another stop on Crowns & Hops’ March 2019 tour, tells VinePair. “Beer is a great bridge to connect all ethnicities. When people are more aware of their commonalities, the division seems to narrow.”
“Beer culture as it’s set up right now borrows so many elements from the black community,” Joshua Velez, a bartender at Harlem Hops, says. He lists “heavy-hitter breweries” like Other Half, Interboro, Finback, and Monkish that use lyrics or references “from the likes of Gang Starr, Biggie and Jay-Z” in their branding. “Trillium famously called one of [its] beers ‘Insert Hip Hop Reference Here’ as a nod to the trend,” Velez says.
Hunter admits these appropriations can be “awkward,” but is careful not to criticize. “If you feel that something is weird and strange and awkward, ask,” he says. “Talk about it. The head brewer might have been one of the dopest beat makers in hip hop, and he might have been a white dude. You don’t know until you ask.”
Rather than resent such situations, he encourages using them as “catalysts” for conversations — much like the ones he and Ashburn, as Dope & Dank, have been having for several years. “This is the time for cultural ownership,” Hunter says. “That doesn’t mean hog it. It doesn’t mean hoard it. It means to say, ‘This is who I am, this is where I’m from, and I want you to experience this with me.’”
In 2018, Time magazine recognized Dope & Dank as “Changing the Face of Beer.” That same year, Imbibe magazine named Dope & Dank “Beer People of the Year.” And in 2019, Crowns & Hops is gearing up to reach millions.
“Initially, people would just laugh,” Hunter says of the Black People Love Beer T-shirts. “After the laugh, 90 percent of the time, we’d get, ‘Well, white people do, too.’” To which he and Ashburn respond, in unison: “We know.”
A lot can be learned about cocktails simply by going to bars and sampling different drinks. Some may call this getting drunk, but we like to think of it as learning.
For those hoping to become truly versed in the art of mixing drinks, however, there is an incredible body of written work on the subject. An Amazon search for the term “cocktail book” yields more than 8,000 results. To offer some guidance, we spoke to some of the country’s leading bartenders and asked them: Which is the one cocktail book that changed your life?
“‘Meehan’s Bartender Manual’ by Jim Meehan. I believe it’s the most comprehensive book on the subject currently out. It covers service, hospitality, spirits, bartending technique, round building, recipes, bar layout, and many more things the modern bartender needs to know.” — Will Pasternak, Head Bartender, BlackTail, NYC
“Beachbum Berry’s ‘Sippin’ Safari.’ That and the original ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie made me the pirate I am today. No offense to everyone else that has written a tiki book but this is THE book on tiki. Bum is a master storyteller and he knows where all the f*cking bodies are buried. It gave me the path to the original 1934 Zombie, and inspired many of the syrups I make today.” — Brian Miller, Partner, Beverage Director, and Bartender, The Polynesian, NYC
“Kazuo Uyeda’s ‘Cocktail Techniques.’ It was the first book on technique that I had ever read. His method of describing technique as a tool to connect with the guest changed everything I did behind the bar from that point on. His belief that a good drink begins before the guest walks through the door made me reevaluate my approach entirely.” — Ezra Star, General Manager, Drink, Boston
“I’m biased, but I am also honest in saying that ‘The PDT Cocktail Book’ was the most influential for me. Jim [Meehan] created a book that had recipes for classics and some obscure classics that all bartenders should know when considering how to balance new drinks. It also helps fill out the recipe section with drinks from the top of the industry throughout the world. This gives it a great time stamp to understand how the world was drinking in the late aughts and how that inspired the next 10 years. “ — Jeff Bell, Consulting Master Blender, BERTOUX Brandy; General Manager, PDT; and Bar Director, Legacy Records, NYC
“‘Liquid Intelligence’ by Dave Arnold. It is the ultimate tool for cocktail nerds and enthusiasts alike. The book journeys through the basics of cocktail creation starting with bar tools all the way to molecular gastronomy techniques. I’ve used it both as a reference for cocktail-making 101 and a source of inspiration for brainstorming more innovative creations.” — Shawn Chen, Beverage Director, RedFarm and Decoy, NYC
“[In] 2008, I was studying for my Bar Smarts. I had been tending bar for a few years but my experience was limited to high-volume mixed drinks, beers, and shots. During and right after the program, I wanted to read all that I could find about classic cocktails. [I bought] Jerry Thomas’ ‘How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion,’ ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book,’ and Ted Haigh’s ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.’ I was enamored and amused by the anecdotes, illustrations, and guidance provided in these mini tomes and intrigued by all of the recipes. The more I read, the more there was to discover and learn. It set a precedent for how I approach my job, and I still feel like I’m learning.” — Kellie Thorn, Bar Manager, Empire State South, Atlanta
“‘A Spot at the Bar’ by Michael Madrusan and Zara Young. I often give this book to new hires to read, as it’s not only a great for recipes and service notes but the love of being in a great bar really comes through. I think it’s an essential read for recipes but also the details that go into great bars.” — Meaghan Dorman, Bar Director and Partner, Dear Irving on Hudson, NYC
“‘Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual’ [1882 edition]. Johnson shares his thoughts on things like staff training, how to store beer, how to open Champagne, what to consider when buying an old bar, bookkeeping, and the all-important ‘How to make money.’ His writing style is honest, straightforward, and easy to understand. Most impressive is just how relevant and sensible his thoughts and directives are even today. Of course, there are cocktails as well, namely the Tuxedo, which is one of my favorites.” — Franky Marshall, Modern Bartender/Educator, NYC
“The one book that really changed my perspective was Jefferey Morgenthaler’s ‘The Bar Book,’ because Morgenthaler explains how to break down ingredients and elements to add to cocktails. I think it’s important to know how to properly create syrups and infusions, in a way that will allow you to extract the maximum flavor. If done wrong, it can create off flavors, and this often happens with novice bartenders who haven’t learned proper techniques.” — Ryan Andrews, Beverage Director, GBOD Hospitality Group, San Diego
“It’s not technically a cocktail book, but I will say that few books have had a bigger impact on my drink creation over the years than ‘The Flavor Bible.’ Though ostensibly aimed at chefs, it has proven an invaluable resource when I am running low on initial inspiration or stuck at a standstill with a drink I’m R&Ding. Whether it’s one of the brief sentences proffered by a chef about a particular application of an ingredient, or scanning the Flavor Affinities sections that prominent ingredients have featured at the end of their list of related ingredients, I can nearly always count on ‘The Flavor Bible’ getting me out of a creative rut.” — Joaquín Simó, Partner, Pouring Ribbons, NYC
Arguably the world’s most important wine producer, in one of the most prestigious wine regions on the planet, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s bottles fetch unfathomable sums at auction.
The Burgundy producer (commonly referred to as simply “DRC”) is also among the world’s least accessible wineries. While all enthusiasts know of its fabled wines, very few will ever set eyes on a bottle, let alone taste one.
DRC produces between 6,000 and 8,000 cases annually. A search on wine tracking website Wine-Searcher.com shows the average price of “entry-level” Corton Grand Cru to be $1,878, while the legendary Romaneé-Conti Grand Cru averages $20,187 a bottle.
Of course, it’s not all quality fruit and investment-worthy bottles. From selfish princes, to multiple criminal plots, here are 10 things you should know about Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
DRC releases eight different wines from eight different vineyards.
Unlike regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy’s vineyards are commonly owned by multiple producers. In instances where wineries own an entire plot, the vineyards are called “monopoles.”
DRC owns two monopoles, Romanée-Conti and La Tâche. Both are planted entirely with Pinot Noir vines and considered among the best sites in Burgundy. DRC releases individual bottlings from these plots, as well as the six other vineyards it partially owns or leases. These include Richebourg, Romanée-St.-Vivant, Échezeaux, Grands Échezeaux, and Corton. DRC also owns a tiny section of the Montrachet vineyard, from which it releases a white (Chardonnay) wine.
All eight of these vineyards are Grand Cru sites, Burgundy’s highest classification.
Romanée-Conti is the jewel in the property’s crown.
As Wine-Searcher’s figures suggest, the Romanée-Conti vineyard is thought to produce DRC’s best wines. The quality of the 4.47-acre plot was identified as far back as the 13th century, when monks of the Saint-Vivant abbey first planted vines here.
The vineyard’s ownership has changed hands multiple times over the years and was first given the name “La Romanée” by the Croonembourg family in the 17th century (no one knows why). In the 18th century, the vineyard passed into the hands of Louis François, the Prince of Conti, who added his title to the second part of its name (his reasoning seems a lot more transparent).
The Prince of Conti didn’t like sharing.
When he bought the prestigious vineyard in 1760, the Prince of Conti took all its wines off the market, hoarding every bottle for his personal consumption. Despite having a reputation for throwing lavish Parisian parties, the prince refused to share the wines from the Romanée-Conti vineyard with even his closest friends.
Like many jewels, Romanée-Conti was once the subject of an elaborate criminal plot.
In January 2010, DRC’s co-director Aubert de Villaine received an envelope containing a worrying ransom message: If he didn’t hand over a million euros (approximately $1.1 million), the sender would poison the vines of DRC’s most prized vineyard. The French authorities eventually caught Jacques Soltys, the small-time criminal behind the plot, in a sting operation.
Imitation isn’t always a form of flattery.
DRC has also been subject to a number of high-profile imitation conspiracies. The case of Rudy Kurniawan is arguably the most notable. The Indonesian fraudster gained the nickname “Dr. Conti” after his love of — and prolific production of — numerous bottles of counterfeit fine wines, including DRC. The tale was documented in the 2016 movie “Sour Grapes,” and Kurniawan is currently serving a 10-year sentence in a U.S. prison.
Romanée-Conti may be its most expensive, but it’s not DRC’s most exclusive wine.
That honor goes to its Bâtard-Montrachet whites. The domaine owns a mere 0.42 acre of this vineyard and produces just two barrels from the plot. All of which is consumed exclusively at the domaine.
Speaking of exclusive…
In October 2018, DRC (twice) smashed the world record for the most expensive bottle of wine, after two bottles of 1945 Romanée-Conti sold for $558,000 and $496,000 at a Sotheby’s New York auction. The bottles were two of only 600 produced by the domaine in 1945, a notoriously difficult, but highly celebrated vintage.
Its vineyards lie on a UNESCO world heritage site.
In July 2015, the United Nations’ cultural arm granted “World Heritage” status to the climats (vineyards) of Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits regions. It followed a decade of research and lobbying lead by DRC co-director de Villaine.
“What is most important for me is that the people of Burgundy, especially the vignerons, be inspired by the ancient, precious, unique treasure they hold in their hands,” he said.
De Villaine hasn’t always been popular with his neighbors.
In 1976, de Villaine was one of the nine judges in the Judgment of Paris that saw California wines beat their French counterparts in a famous blind tasting. “Back home in Burgundy, I was considered a traitor,” he said in a 2015 interview with The New York Times. “But I was right. In the 1970s, we French thought we reigned supreme over the wine world. But much of our wine had become mediocre. This event gave us the kick in the pants we needed.”
Visiting the winery is, quite literally, a waste of time.
If you’re visiting Burgundy and are thinking of spontaneously dropping in on the property, don’t waste your time. The domaine only welcomes visitors with prior appointments, which it very rarely grants. Without one, you’ll find yourself waiting outside the property, on the ironically named rue du Temps Perdu (Street of Lost Time).
Corngate, corntroversy, or whatever you want to call the ongoing food-fueled fued between Bud Light and MillerCorn — sorry, MillerCoors — just got serious. MillerCoors is suing Anheuser-Busch for its “false and misleading advertising campaign,” AdAge reports.
The Thursday filing comes one day after MillerCoors announced a rebuttal campaign that mimics Bud Light’s ads, which originally aired during the Super Bowl, and call out Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corn syrup in their recipes.
In the filing, MillerCoors writes, “AB’s purported rationale for this campaign, ‘transparency,’ is a classic example of corporate double-speak.” That double-speak more than quintupled in a recent interview with Bud Light VP of Marketing Andy Goeler, who used the word “transparent” or “transparency” 11 times while speaking with Food & Wine.
Whether Bud Light’s aggressive advertising tactics are illegal is up to the courts, but they are certainly hypocritical: AB InBev uses corn syrup in several of its products, including in Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, a brand the brewery also advertised during the Super Bowl.
Since Bud Light’s original corn-hating ad aired, we’ve learned that corn syrup isn’t that bad for you; that it doesn’t actually end up in Miller Lite beer; that Bud Light is ruining the beer industry, and is happy about it; and finally, Milly, Milly is cleverer than Dilly, Dilly.
It’s all jousts and games until someone gets sued. Corn’t we all just get along?
When that “one drink” turns into three, and beers start to arrive accompanied by stronger, shorter liquid companions, there’s one, inevitable end to the night. Whether your poison is pizza, chips, or chicken wings, there’s simply no better way to round off a drinking session than with a late-night (or early morning) drunken snack.
If you, too, suffer from the drunk munchies, don’t worry: It’s not your fault, and you’re not alone. According to a recent study, 82 percent of Americans admitted to being “drunk snackers,” and partake in booze-fueled food binges four times a month on average. One in three said they snack every time they drink.
The survey of 2,000 Americans was conducted by OnePoll and Bitchin’ Sauce, and set about discovering the nation’s drunken eating habits. It revealed that 69 percent of Americans feel their eating habits are worse when drunk, and that men prefer spicy foods, while women opt for saltier snacks.
Pizza, apparently, is the nation’s preferred drunk snack, with 66 percent of those surveyed saying it’s their pick. Chips and dip came in a close second with 58 percent, while french fries (54 percent), nachos (49 percent), and tacos (44 percent) rounded out the top five favorites.
More than 50 percent of those surveyed said they regretted drunk snacking the next day, mostly because of the number of calories consumed. (The fact 40 percent also admitted to having woken up with food in their bed, and approximately one in five have, at some point, discovered food in an unusual place, probably doesn’t help this regret.)
But while many regret their drunken eating habits, they also felt that snacking while drinking is a vital part of the process. More than 60 percent believe eating while drinking prevents or decreases the severity of the next day’s hangover.
The delightfully dog-focused event is part of a promotion for Devils Backbone’s Gold Leaf Lager. At the beer hall, dog “servers” will don Devils Backbone “Adventure Dog Packs,” which are vests akin to those worn by other dog professionals, only the pockets are filled with cans of beer. Cans of lager are $5 each, and hopefully, head pet tips are welcome, but be sure to ask first. (The promotion also includes $7 drafts; it remains to be seen whether these pup professionals will be pulling pints.)
Along with sweet, furry service, patrons can enjoy the company of their own and others’ dogs. Dog treats will be available by donation from a dog treat bar, and a dog caricature artist will be on-site drawing puppy portraits. A portion of profits from the event will go to City Dogs Rescue, which will also be on site with adoptable dogs.
Additionally, the promotion includes wag swag (our term, not theirs) such as leashes, dog bowls, and collars. Finally, the event will include the voting period for the Devils Backbone Adventure Dog Photo Contest. The winner will be featured on Devils Backbone’s Gold Leaf Lager beer can.
The Pup-Up Bar is scheduled to take place this Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 1 p.m.
Mai Tais are a classic tiki cocktail, albeit “one of the least understood of the bunch,” writes rum expert Shannon Mustipher in her brilliant new book, “Tiki.”
Like Margaritas, Mai Tais fall victim to their own popularity. An endless parade of saccharine prepackaged mixes and weirdly fruited iterations outpace the original.
Properly made Mai Tais are beautifully balanced, though. Want to master this tiki drink at home? Here are six expert tips.
What to do when making Mai Tais
1. Stick to the recipe.
Because tiki is stylistically exuberant, it can be tempting to throw anything vaguely tropical-seeming into your Mai Tai. Besides, those bottles of blue Curacao and grenadine are gathering dust in your home bar, and certainly aren’t going to drink themselves.
Unfortunately, free-styling with tiki-adjacent ingredients often yields cloying results. We suggest sticking to the recipe: two ounces of aged rum, plus half-ounce (each) rhum agricole, lime juice, orgeat, and orange Curacao.
2. Use real orgeat.
“Without almond syrup you cannot make a true Mai Tai,” Tim Wiggins, co-owner and bar manager, Retreat Gastropub and Yellowbelly, St. Louis, Mo., says. Mustipher agrees, calling orgeat “pivotal to a true Mai Tai” in her book.
Orgeat is essentially almond simple syrup spiked with rose or orange blossom water. Giffard, L’Orgeat, and Beachbum Berry make widely available orgeat liqueurs.
It’s easy to make orgeat at home, too. Combine equal parts almond milk and sugar in a pot on the stovetop, bring it to a boil, and stir in a dash of rose or orange blossom water and almond extract once it’s cool.
3. Your only juice is fresh lime.
While recipes with orange, pineapple, and other fruit juices abound, a classic Mai Tai exclusively uses lime juice.
“Contrary to what you might think, the Mai Tai is actually just a rum sour… No coconut, no passion fruit, pineapple, mango or orange juice,” Toby Cecchini, owner of New York City’s Long Island Bar, wrote in a 2010 piece for The New York Times’s T Magazine titled, “Case Study: Will the Real Mai Tai Please Stand Up?”
As with any sour, freshly squeezed limes produce the best results. “Don’t waste your time with store-bought or old lime juice,” Wiggins says. “Freshness matters.”
4. Garnish with restraint.
Mustipher’s Mai Tai recipe is garnished with half a juiced lime and fresh mint. Martin Cate, owner of San Francisco rum bar Smuggler’s Cove, uses the same in his recipe.
Kevin Beary, beverage director of Chicago tiki destination Four Dots and a Dash, is even more minimalist. “Use mint as a garnish, it’s all you need,” he writes VinePair in an email.
What to avoid when making Mai Tais
1. Don’t use just any rum on your shelf.
This is a spirit-forward drink, so choose yours wisely. According to one origin story, the Mai Tai was designed as a vehicle for 17-year-old J. Wray and Nephew Jamaican rum. That spirit is no longer in production (and the few remaining bottles rank among the world’s most expensive), so many modern bartenders blend Jamaican pot still and Martinican rums.
Mustipher suggests using a spirit with the same “grassy, vegetal notes” as traditional Jamaican rums, such as Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum, coupled with Paranubes.
“The proof of both rums is equally as important as the styles,” Beary adds. “When choosing a Jamaican rum, you should opt for something that is standard proof — around 80 (40 percent ABV) — whereas the rhum agricole should be higher proof (up around 114, a.k.a. navy strength).”
2. Leave your blender out of this.
Blending may seem festive, but it will actually dilute your flavors. Experts suggest either building your Mai Tai in your glass with ice, or shaking it with ice and then straining into a double rocks glass.
Trust us, this is not a buzzkill, it’s a bonus. As busy bartenders will tell you, a cocktail shaker is much easier to clean than a blender. From here to Tahiti, nothing is more valuable than time.
Big Beer has a problem: We’re not drinking enough of it. To combat this, conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors are throwing everything at us to see what sticks. Unfortunately, to me, the newest options feel pretty stale.
“Michelob Ultra is making dreams come true for keto dieters,” Marissa Gainsburg writes on WomensHealthMag.com. Michelob Ultra Infusions, a line of fruit-infused light beers, touts “real exotic fruit and natural flavors.”
“Say hello to your new favorite spring drink,” Maya McDowell writes in Delish.
And, from Brittany Bennet in Bustle, “Spritzer style beverages with a hint of fruit are all the rage.” She describes Michelob Ultra Infusions Lime & Prickly Pear Cactus as “perfectly in tune with the taste of summer.”
Personally, my summer has never tasted like prickly pear cactus. (I’m actually allergic to pears.) But here’s the bigger problem: The promotion and press coverage for these drinks are alienating to anyone who isn’t a health-conscious, self-conscious woman on a diet.
Keeping things keto is great (I guess?) for those who know what that entails. And I’ll psychoanalyze myself enough to admit that maybe I’m envious of Brittany, Marissa, and Maya for having that low-carb, low-cal willpower while I reach for a calorie-rich IPA. But I don’t see many men’s publications covering this “fairly guilt-free” fruity infusion.
And then there’s this horrific bit, from Michelob Ultra itself: “Now you can have a delicious flavored beer and eat your cake, too (after your spin class).”
Like the myriad chocolate commercials that endlessly depict women as either sexual objects or deviants, or ads where beautiful women eat “light and fit” yogurt while men eat cookies and donuts, Michelob Ultra Infusions is telling me girls who wanna have fun probably feel bad about it.
Marketing like this has a fruit-infused, trickle-down effect. It reinforces negative stereotypes about women, what we drink, and why we drink it. It’s bad for us, and it’s bad for business.
In June 2018, at the Beer Institute’s annual meeting, Bridget Brennan, CEO of the Female Factor, told beer industry members that women make up to 80 percent of spending decisions in male-female households. And guess what? A lot of us buy beer.
That same month, Brewers Association economist Bart Watson crunched some numbers and posited that women are getting into craft beer at nearly the same rate as men. From 2015 to 2018, craft beer consumption among women was up 2 percent, and overall craft consumption was up around 5 percent nationwide. “From 2015 to 2018, craft has added ~14.7 million drinkers, of which a bit below half (~6.6M) were women,” Watson writes. It’s not quite 50-50, but it’s certainly significant.
Why, then, is the world’s leading beer corporation resorting to such reductive marketing?
(Oh, and regarding Michelob Ultra’s claim that its Infusions are made with “real exotic fruit,” anyone from the Caribbean, parts of South America, or other equatorial destinations worldwide might argue that these fruits are not “exotic.” They are just fruits.)
Brewery Healthcare Bill Advances in Connecticut
A bill that would allow employees of small and mid-sized breweries in Connecticut access to healthcare benefits advanced to the House last Thursday, Brewbound reports.
If passed, House Bill 7260 would allow the Connecticut Brewers Guild to offer healthcare benefits to small and mid-sized craft breweries.
These efforts are meaningful beyond their individual states or breweries. Both show that businesses and legislators are taking steps toward ensuring fair treatment of brewery workers. This is essential to any growing industry, and I’m here for it.
Beer Company Boards – Now With Women!
On March 18, 2019, Boston Beer announced the appointment of Meghan Joyce to its board of directors. As Brewbound reports, this marks the third time a woman has been appointed to the brewery’s board of directors since the board was established in 1995. The second was Jim Koch’s wife, Cynthia Fisher, and the first was Rhonda Kallman, who co-founded the company.
On Tuesday, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced plans to add three more women to its board as well.
I am always happy to congratulate someone who gets a job they want. But, as Heather Greene, whiskey expert and author of “Whiskey Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life” recently posited in VinePair, “Are women supposed to be inspired just because another woman is in the job?”
Meghan Joyce is 34 years old. She’s a regional general manager at Uber, previously served as a senior policy advisor for the United States Department of the Treasury, and graduated from Harvard. It’s great to see women getting gigs they earned, but their claims to fame should be their accomplishments.
When it comes to versatile, widely available, and affordable Italian wine, Castello di Volpaia sets a standard. The winery’s 2016 Chianti Classico is listed in almost 100 stores on the pro version of Wine-Searcher, with good distribution across the United States.
And that’s fortunate, because this $20 wine is a top Chianti Classico at this price from the stellar 2016 vintage.
Volpaia is centered in a fortified medieval village of the same name dating back 900 years in the heart of the Chianti Classico region. It’s now pretty much a company town, with most of the historic buildings owned by the winery and devoted to its production.
Within the village, Castello di Volpaia farms 114 acres of vineyards using certified organic methods. Its Chianti Classico is made from grapes from 10 different vineyard plots.
The blend is 90 percent Sangiovese, the signature red variety of Chianti and Tuscany, and 10 percent Merlot, which I imagine is used to soften the wine a bit.
The result is a quintessential Chianti Classico, medium-bodied and fruity with fresh cherry, raspberry, and blueberry notes, along with nice hints of cedar and tobacco.
Chianti Classico, the most prestigious appellation in the Chianti zone, is one of the most versatile food wines, a natural accompaniment to tomato- and meat-based sauces with its high acidity; and I can easily see Castello di Volpaia’s wine with grilled and roasted meats.
There is something familiar and satisfying about a wine like this, which is why I find myself going back to Chianti Classico time and again. Castello di Volpaia’s wine make it easy.