Drinking Made Easy http://drinkingmadeeasy.com drinking made easy Fri, 10 Apr 2015 00:07:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.8 Official Pleepleus Costumes Up for Auction http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/gear/official-pleepleus-costumes-up-for-auction/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/gear/official-pleepleus-costumes-up-for-auction/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 21:23:44 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24436 Now is your chance to own a piece of history. All three Pleepleus costumes from Drinking Made Easy seasons 1-3 are now available for auction on Ebay. These are the original costumes used for the show and worn by crew members including Steve Mckenna and Zane Lamprey.

The Original Pleepleus Costume

 Pleeporig1 pleeporig3 Pleeporg2

The Stunt Pleepleus Costume

 Pleepstunt1 Pleepstunt2 Pleepstunt3

Season 3 Pleepleus Costume (Season 3)

 Pleepnew2 Pleepnew1 Pleepnew3

*Dog not included

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Zane Lamprey’s Guide to Throwing Super Bowl House Parties http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/cool/tips-and-tricks/zane-lampreys-guide-to-throwing-super-bowl-parties/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/cool/tips-and-tricks/zane-lampreys-guide-to-throwing-super-bowl-parties/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:34:15 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24425 The big game is on its way, so here are some tips from Zane Lamprey on throwing a great house party for Super Bowl!


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Chug to Premiere on National Geographic Channel November 24th 10:30pm http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/featured/chug-to-premiere-on-national-geographic-channel-november-24th-1030pm/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/featured/chug-to-premiere-on-national-geographic-channel-november-24th-1030pm/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:20:58 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24264 Chug-Kuala-Lumpur-Monkey(Washington, D.C. – Oct. 21, 2014) Is authentic Malaysian alcohol worth climbing a 50-foot coconut tree for? Is it possible to outdrink an Australian beer-guzzling legend? Or to survive jumping off a bar roof in Fiji on a dare? What about going shot-for-shot in an Austrian schnapps drink off? Probably not, but it’s certainly fun to try!

Beginning on Monday, Nov. 24, at 10:30 PM ET/PT National Geographic Channel (NGC) is taking viewers on a bar crawl around the world with traveling “drinkaloguer” and rum company owner Zane Lamprey (@zanelamprey; NGC’s Showdown of the Unbeatables, “Three Sheets”) in the new Kickstarter-funded series, Chug. In the series, Lamprey is motivated by his thirst to try local customs, food and, well, alcohol. He travels by train to an array of exotic and boozy locations and along the way interacts with the local culture and befriends new drinking buddies.


Chug is not just a show about chugging beer, as the title may infer. The chugging refers to Lamprey’s primary mode of transportation — trains. He chugs through each  region, sipping drinks that are specific to the area and breaking down where in the world all the ingredients in each drink were derived from. For example, even though they’re separated by only one stop on the train, the historic split between Austria and Germany in 1866 severely changed beer production laws in both countries. And sugarcane grows only in warm environments, which allowed Fiji, with its fields of cane ready for harvesting, to become a booming rum capital. And how do they transport the sugarcane around the island? Yup, by trains.

Chug demonstrates how a community’s past drinking traditions have affected its present drinking customs and shows us that sometimes old traditions die hard. Lamprey attends a local Fijian island drinking ritual that has been passed down for generations and, by partaking, officially becomes an honorary member of the tribe chief’s family. He then explores Viennese coffee with a kick, in a coffeehouse believed to be the birthplace of café culture. But nothing can compare to the intoxicating Roman gelato he samples that is made from, of all things, red wine. From Australia to Malaysia, Chug makes it clear that having a drink with locals is one of the best ways to gain unfiltered insight into their community.

While sharing stories with an Olympic Fijian windsurfer, Lamprey is invited to take a boat to a bar that floats like a yacht out at sea. An Austrian vineyard owner opens up about how it took him 35 years to achieve his Dream of producing wine. These stories are just further proof that it only takes a glass to make a friend.

While Chug may be driven by traditional customs around the globe, the series itself has made its way into the history books by being the first Kickstarter-funded series to air on television. Lamprey began the campaign in April 2013 and breezed past his financial goal a few months later thanks to support from his loyal fandom. Chug is one of three foodie-themed projects NGC is launching in November. From Nov. 21 through Nov. 23, NGC will air the three-night miniseries event EAT: The Story of Food, which looks at the history of human civilization as told through the food on your plate. And premiering just before Chug on Nov. 24 at 10 p.m. will be new series Eric Greenspan Is Hungry, which follows chef Greenspan on the meatiest cross-country road trip ever.

Premiere Episodes Include:

Chug-Kuala-Lumpur3Chug: Kuala Lumpur
Premieres Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, 10:30 PM ET/PT 

Host Zane Lamprey heads to Malaysia to soak up the local libations. He begins his journey in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, where an expert mixologist whips him up a unique cocktail made with Malaysian ingredients. After exploring the city, Zane ventures to the countryside and finds himself on a jungle plantation located an hour and a half outside of Kuala Lumpur. The plantation has a bar where the locals go to drink Toddy — a sweet and naturally fermented nectar collected from the Toddy palm tree — and enjoy some local food.

Chug-SydneyChug: Sydney
Premieres Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, 10:30 PM ET/PT

Zane makes his way Down Under to Sydney, Australia, in search of great beer, great wine, and great people. He starts off with a visit to one of the oldest pubs in the city, where he shares a few brews with his tour guides and learns about the pub’s felonious history. He then makes his way to a bar at North Bondi Beach to get a taste of the city’s more modern drinking customs. What’s on tap? More beer. After a night drinking with some Aussie football players, Zane chugs his way to a vineyard in Hunter Valley for a lesson in local wine. Chug is produced by Inzane Entertainment for National Geographic Channels. Executive producers are Zane Lamprey and Mike Kelly.

Follow Chug on Facebook and Twitter!

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FOU-DRÉ Vodka: The Original “Over Ice” Experience http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/fou-dre-vodka-the-original-over-ice-experience/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/fou-dre-vodka-the-original-over-ice-experience/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 01:10:06 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24253 FOU_DRE-AD_BE-MAGAZINE-FINAL-PROOF_WEBONLYAn exceptional brand amongst traditional ultra-premium vodkas, FOU-DRÉ—a boutique vodka—has quickly risen to the coveted ranks of “top shelf.” Infused with pomegranate, ginger, kiwi, lime and lychee, you’ve never tasted anything like it. And, what’s more, there’s no sugar or artificial flavors inside. Using a patented, innovative filtration system called TerrePURE® proven to reduce unwanted congeners, FOU-DRÉ is not ‘distilled’ in the conventional sense. This process, which is completely natural, reduces the need for extensive aging or multiple distillations.  Before FOU-DRÉ, you could only imagine what “pure” vodka might taste like.loaked in a gorgeously opaque silhouette, FOU-DRÉ demonstrates rather majestically that purple is indeed the new black. Forget everything you thought you knew about vodka; there’s a new sheriff in town and her name is FOU-DRÉ.  She’s smooth, nuanced, and sumptuous. And, you guessed it, ultra- premium. Boasting of proud French heritage and pronounced FOO-DRAY, the name—which is chockfull of symbolism—means “lightening.”  Struck by the story behind its acclaim, I must confess that the name is quite fitting.

An international phenomenon that enjoys brand recognition around the globe, you’ll not only find FOU-DRÉ in select cities throughout the United States, but also in Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan. And, as long as global retailers continue to aggressively pursue the availability of FOU-DRÉ for eager clientele, plans for expansion will continue.

BEV HILLS AWARDFOU-DRÉ CEO, Chanel Turner, created the brand to give vodka drinkers an exclusive “over ice” experience. For Turner, it’s always been about the raw essence of the vodka—nothing else.  And, as a purveyor of fine spirits, I can certainly appreciate a high-quality, ultra-premium vodka that can be sipped in its “birthday suit.” It’s like having great skin without the need for any make-up—beautiful! And, FOU-DRÉ is beautiful.

FOU-DRÉ Brand Manager, Shaina Webb, notes that part of the brand’s primary mission is to “educate consumers on a better way to drink vodka.”And, at 80 proof (40% alcohol) this “vodka with flavor” has delivered on its promise: consumers seeking to have a more “authentic” and “likable” vodka experience, (without all the fillers) have chosen FOU-DRÉ. Essentially, they have found a better way to drink vodka.

Fou-Dre Vodka LaunchTurner isn’t shy about sharing the challenges along the road to her success, either. “My bottle design was repeated rejected until I could find an engineer who finally agreed to create it. The shape of the bottle is unique and was difficult to fashion”, she explained.  “The design significantly cut into the cost of my self-funded start-up budget. I had done several months of research and thought I had a good idea of what the costs were, but realized that I hadn’t considered key factors like distribution. Ultimately, I realized how critical resources are to the bottom line.”

Even still, Turner notes that she was able to persevere with family support and shared that the benefits of a self-funded venture were “no pressure to make rush decisions and the ability to make her own choices regarding capacity and production.”

In what has historically been a male-dominated industry, Turner has emerged as one of an increasing number of women to find success in the trade. However, as a Black woman, her presence is still little more than an anomaly.

When asked what advice Turner could offer to enterprising entrepreneurs, she said “Don’t give up in spite of adversity and surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart. If you don’t have people who you trust around you, it will be much harder to succeed.”

Turner “knows what business can do to people” and insists that despite the rigors of her schedule and the professional demands of being a business owner, she has remained consistent.  For her, brand equity is everything. And, at the end of a long day, her goal remains the same: to have a stellar brand that can be respected and appreciated, despite being constantly in the bows of industry competition.

And, because she’s keenly positioned on the next chapter of her success, she gushed that there are definitely other spirits brands in the works. However—whatever they are—they will remain a secret, at least for now.

Want to learn more about FOU-DRÉ? Visit their website here. Also, check out FOU-DRÉs signature fresh cocktails, including the “Fou-Jitohere.

And, for fans living in the DMV with me, you’ll find FOU-DRÉ for around $37.99-47.99 a bottle at select retailers near you, here.

Making Drinking Easy,
Karima Mariama-Arthur
Washington, DC

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A Look at Chinaco Tequila from Tamaulipas, Mexico http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/spirits/a-look-at-chinaco-tequila-from-tamaulipas-mexico/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/spirits/a-look-at-chinaco-tequila-from-tamaulipas-mexico/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 10:30:13 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24233 Many assume that tequila can only be made in the area surrounding the city of Tequila in Mexico. While this was the case for some time, eventually other regions in Mexico were added to the very short list of where tequila can be ‘officially’ made.  Chinaco Tequila is one such example, were a quality tequila made outside of Jalisco, Mexico fought to have the tequila definition extended to include the region of Tamaulipas and other regions like it. Since then, Chinaco has revolutionized the tequila industry by becoming the first premium tequila to come to the US.

The History

Chinacos were wealthy landowners during the 18th and 19th centuries who, out of necessity, became legendary fighters to defend Mexico during the War of Reform and the French Intervention. Their leader was General Manuel Gonzalez, who founded land in Tamaulipas that eventually became dedicated to blue agave production after crops were destroyed by a hurricane. The plan was to sell the blue agave to Jalisco tequila distillers, but after the deal went sour and the blue agave shipments were refused, the region decided it would produce its own tequila. It was Manuel’s grandson, Guillermo Gonzales who battled against larger distillers in Jalisco and successfully lobbied the Mexican government for an amendment that would allow for tequila production outside of Jalisco.  After four years of petitioning Tamaulipas received Denomination of Origin status, which allowed for the creation of Tequilera La Gonzalena in 1977. This became the first tequila distillery in Tamaulipas and home of Chinaco Tequila.

In 1983, Chinaco became the first premium tequila in the United States. Before Chinaco’s arrival, most tequilas used less agave and more sugar. Chinaco eventually paved the way for modern premium tequilas. Because of this, David Wondrich named Chinaco the “#1 Most Influential Spirits Brand of the Last 25 Years” in Wine & Spirits Magazine.

The Process

The hearts of ripe agave are harvested, quartered and roasted in autoclave at low temperatures for approximately 12 hours, which is how it’s been done at Chinaco since the beginning. The hearts are then pressed and shredded in an old molino (sugarcane press).

Fermentation occurs in stainless steel vessels, using the same proprietary ambient yeasts since Chinaco’s inception in 1973. The aguamiel is inoculated, fermenting at ambient temperatures for about 72 hours. This long, slow fermentation process with the proprietary yeast contributes to the fruitiness and floral aromatics inherent to Chinaco Tequila.

Distillation is overseen by Master Distiller Esther Hernadez, who has been at the distillery for 40 years. Distillation takes place in two copper-lined alembic stills, both purchased in the 1970’s and still in operation. Chinaco does not add caramel coloring, oak extract, glycerin or sugar to manipulate its tequila.


The Tequila

Chinaco Tequila Blanco: Bottled only 30 days after distillation to deliver a remarkably fresh, clean taste and a hint of a botanical aroma to make it perfect for cocktails. “Our top-rated tequila, The Chinaco Blanco…was, simply, a benchmark tequila” -The New York Times

Chinaco Tequila Reposado: While some reposados are only aged for a few months, Chinaco barrel-ages their reposado for eight to 11 months. This added time in the barrel offers up a much smoother taste for the final product. 40 ABV%

Chinaco Tequila Añejo: This fine tequila is aged two and a half to three years in oak barrels. The result is an incredibly smooth tequila that deserves to be enjoyed on its own. 40% ABV

Our Thoughts

Chinaco has been a top tier tequila in our eyes for some time. If you do not recognize it, it may because of their recent bottle design changes which we feel now better represent the hand-crafted quality of its contents.  This tequila is the type of tequila to squelch some negative stereotypes you may have about the spirit. It is bold enough to give you that fiery warmth you want from a good tequila, yet smooth enough to bring a smile to your face as you enjoy tequila the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

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Monkey Rum Adventure Quest New York City July 17th-19th http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/spirits/monkey-rum-adventure-quest-new-york-city-july-17th-19th/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/spirits/monkey-rum-adventure-quest-new-york-city-july-17th-19th/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 22:19:48 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24224 Zane Lamprey and Steve Mckenna will be heading to New York July 17th-19th to celebrate the New York City release of Monkey Rum. This will be the first time that Monkey Rum has become available on the East Coast and to celebrate, Zane and the crew are inviting fans to join them at various liquor stores and bars throughout the city in what has been dubbed the Monkey Rum Adventure Quest.

The quest? To find where the infamous Monkey Rum has been hidden throughout the city. The adventure? To crawl through the urban jungle to drink Monkey Rum with Zane, Steve and Pleepleus!

Those who join the Monkey Rum Adventure Club will be the first to learn exactly where these locations will be. If you would like to join in on the fun, sign up at MonkeyRum.com

Feeling a bit more adventurous? Then join the Royal Explorers, the highest tier of Monkey Rum adventurer. Royal Explorers will receive a goodie bag full of Monkey Rum gear, exclusive updates and information about the Monkey Rum release, and eligibility to participate in Monkey Rum challenges and a chance to attend a special Sunday Brunch with Zane and Steve.

Sign up for your adventure at MonkeyRum.com!

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The Art of Making Arta Tequila http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/the-art-of-making-arta-tequila/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/the-art-of-making-arta-tequila/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 10:30:59 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24204 ARTADemurely lurking behind the scenes of the national tequila craze, Arta Tequila of Colorado is finally ready to make an international splash. This small batch, hand-bottled tequila has been Colorado run since 2011 and is pushing the limits of what artisanal tequila can be. Now Arta believes it is time to let the world know about their little secret:  That the best tequila, while made with ancient methods, can still be modern and rebellious.

Lisa Hives, VP of Marketing, welcomed a small group of Denver imbibers for a tasting and gave us a brief history of the company. The one thing she wanted to impart was that Arta is a true collaboration of two countries; a progressive Colorado-owned company, but a traditional Mexican-made spirit.

Arta Tequila comes from the Blue Weber agave plant that is grown on a single family-owned estate in Aernal, Jalisco, Mexico, that has been farming agave and distilling tequila for 250 years. The estate was purchased by Tony Mayer of Colorado as a way to honor his father’s spirit after his father passed away. Mayer and his company believe that the art making of tequila, like most things in life, should not be rushed. The company also believes that if they don’t grow it, they don’t use it. Arta Reposado is aged up to 11 months, while the minimum aging standard is only two and aged in American oak barrels for extra flavor. While anejo tequilas require only 12 months of aging, Arta Anejo pushes that to 24 months. And while most tequilas are only double distilled, Arta Silver is triple distilled. All Arta tequilas are hand-bottled in the brand’s signature triangle bottles.

Arta Tequilas have won many awards. Arta Silver has won Gold Medals from the Beverage Tasting Institute and the WSWA Tasting Competition and is rated a 92 on Tequila.net. Arta Reposado won Best of Show (Best Reposado and Best White Spirit Aged) at the 2014 WSWA Tasting Competition and is rated 91 at Tequila.net. Arta Anejo received Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a Gold Medal at the Spirits of Mexico competition and is rated 93 on Tequila.net.

At a special tasting held at the new Machete Tequila + Tacos downtown guests were able to sample this fine spirit in some new and flavorful cocktails created by Bar Manager Danielle Scott and paired with delicious Machete small plates from Chef Jose Avila

The first cocktail was the Raspberry/Peach Margarita featuring Arta Silver tequila. In this summertime drink, which also features Grand Mariner and fresh lime juice, the tequila is enveloped in fruity goodness while still having the taste profile of a margarita. What would be a tangy and tasty margarita to begin with is enhanced with the addition of sweet fruits to balance the tart.

The Cucumber/Grapefruit Mojada uses Arta Reposado. The reposado has an earthier flavor profile and oaky aroma from the barrel aging process so Scott paired it with the garden flavors of cucumber and mint. The drink is rounded out with grapefruit juice and a dash of Sprite.This muddled mint cocktail is fizzy and refreshing and excellent for warm summer nights.

Our final cocktail of the evening is the Arta Anejo Manhattan featuring a generous dose of tequila, much like a regular Manhattan would have a generous does of bourbon. In fact Bourbon imbibers will take kindly to this drink with its hints of caramel and cherry, yet still smoky and musky like a traditional Manhattan. This cocktail is on the regular Machete menu so people can enjoy it now.

Arta is available all over Colorado and on both the East and West Coasts. Find Arta internationally in Hong Kong, the Philippines Taiwan, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. Visit Arta’s website for a full listing of states as well as cocktail recipes you can try at home. To enjoy the cocktails described here, you’ll have to come to Colorado!



Carrie Dow
Lakewood, CO
On Twitter @whereisCDnow

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NO WAY, IT’S NOIRET! http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/no-way-its-noiret/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/no-way-its-noiret/#comments Sat, 21 Jun 2014 10:30:41 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24197 21-brixCornell’s Hybrid Red Grape Making Big Splash on National Wine Scene with 21 Brix Winery’s Noiret (2012)

Pronounced “nwahr – ay”,  the Noiret grape varietal has made a BIG splash on the national wine scene, thanks to research efforts made by Cornell University. Noiret is a complex, inter-specific hybrid red wine grape resulting from a combination between the “Chancellor” and “Steuben” grapes, and was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. It was officially released on July 7, 2006.  For the agricultural buffs, the ancestors of the Noiret hybrid are the Vitis labrusca (native to northeastern North America) and Vitis vinifera (classic European wine grapes) species. The detail is pretty important because a “hybrid” results from combining two different grapespecies, whereas a “cross” is the result of combining grapes from the same species.

That Cornell created a successful hybrid is no small feat. Most hybrid grape varieties have difficulty producing the nuances necessary to pass muster. For example, producing adequate tannin, acidity, alcohol, color, fruit, body, aroma, etc., all contribute to the profile of a successful wine. Without one or more, you have a “situation” on your hands that requires further manipulation at the winery…or the entire effort can be considered a total loss. That’s where the intrigue with Noiret begins. But, that’s only the beginning! “Noiret represents a distinct improvement in the red wine varietal options available to cold-climate grape growers,” said Bruce Reisch, professor of horticultural sciences at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. Clearly, this represents new and exciting opportunities for growers across the United States where climate has historically prevented consideration of certain varietals.

NoiretGrapePicNot Pinot Noir at all…

“When people hear the word ‘Noiret’, they think that it’s really ‘Pinot Noir’ being mispronounced”, says Kris Kane, owner at the 21 Brix Winery in Portland, NY, when we spoke about the wine in an interview. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure myself. But, was glad to get clarity and learn more about this amazing new hybrid. So—to be clear— Noiret is NOT Pinot Noir at all. Not even close. It’s in a class all its own. And, tasting the Noiret grape for the first time certainly confirms this.

For example, one of the first things I noticed was the distinctive rich, red color of the wine. It was bold and beautifully red! Never seen anything quite like it. On the nose and the palate, I experienced the much-anticipated green and black pepper, raspberry (very fruit forward, by the way!) and mint aromas (what everyone who has tried it maintains)—but I also got much more—balanced acidity, and alcohol, medium bodied, and the pièce de résistance,silky smooth tannins (barely perceptible). I had no idea I would love fall in love with the Noiret (2012)! But, I did. I’m currently working on collecting a few more of these bottles in my cellar. Kudos to Cornell University and 12 Brix Winery for a successful collaboration!

21 Brix Winery’s Noiret (2012), official tasting notes are: barrel aged for 6 months with black pepper, pine resin and toasted oak aromas and 0% residual sugar. Price is $19.99

Want to try Noiret now?

21 Brix can legally ship wine to residents of these states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

I will be sharing more of the 21 Brix Winery wines with our readers very soon!  Why? 21 Brix has completely changed the way wine connoisseurs view wine coming out of the Lake Erie region. It’s high quality and people love it! Plus, they’ve got lots of interesting varietals you’ll definitely want on your tables this summer and beyond. Stay tuned!

Here’s a link to a great pairing with the 21 Brix Noiret, White Bean Chicken Chili that I know you’ll love:

For more information about the Noiret grape.

For more information about 21 Brix Winery and its fabulous wine selection.

Making Drinking Easy,
Karima Mariama-Arthur
Washington, DC

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WhiskyLive 2014 NYC http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/whiskylive-2014-nyc/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/whiskylive-2014-nyc/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 10:30:39 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24211 After missing last year’s event, I was fortunate to return this year to New York City’s annual springtime whisky celebration, WhiskyLive, held at The Chelsea Piers.

As the popularity of the brown spirit seems to grow by leaps and bounds every year, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the number of players who wish to enter the manufacturing game, both nationally and abroad. While we have been long accustomed to whiskies from The United States, Canada, Ireland and Scotland, recent years have seen other countries make their own offerings; by now, many whisky aficionados know well the quality of Japanese products, but there are other countries you would least expect that have come to the market. WhiskyLive 2014 in New York City gave me the opportunity to taste whiskies from France, India and Bhutan!


BrenneBrenne Whisky has a unique flavor to it and is a whisky which I highly recommend you try if you’re looking for something different; if you’re also a brandy drinker, you might enjoy Brenne as well. The reason I say that is because Brenne is made in the Cognac region of France; French Cognac is considered to be among the best types of brandy in the world, due in part to its manufacturing process, which is as strict as that of Champagne. When tasting Brenne, the primary distinguishing factor is its finish – you can really get a sense of the Cognac influence on the back of your palate. Aged for eight years, it starts out spending five years in French Oak barrels, then is moved to Cognac barrels for its final three years. Specifically, they use XO Cognac barrels since XO Cognac is the most mature form, spending 10 years or more aging in the barrel.


AmrutAmrut is a single malt whisky made in India – with occasional help from The United Kingdom. On this evening, they were pouring their original product in addition to three others: their peated version, an expression called Fusion and concluding with something called Old Port Deluxe. Their original product is aged for three years in American Oak and ex-bourbon barrels, which becomes immediately apparent both on the nose and on the tongue. Their peated version uses peat imported from Scotland; although it’s peated, it doesn’t have the overwhelming smokiness to it that you might expect. This is due to the fact that the time it takes to transport the peat from Scotland to India allows it an opportunity to mellow a bit. Fusion is a combination of their original product with the peated version; specifically, 75% is the single malt and 25% is peated. Old Port Deluxe contains butterscotch and vanilla notes; aged in new oak barrels, its taste is influenced by its location – at 3,000 feet above sea level, the heat and humidity make the aging process similar to that of whiskies made in Kentucky.


K5And now for something completely different: a whisky from The Himalayas! Spirits Of Bhutan has a product called K5 Premium Spirit Whisky. Made in Scotland, it’s actually distilled in Bhutan, where they add natural spring water from The Himalayan Mountains at a distillery nearly 9,000 feet above sea level. A blend of vatted malts aged anywhere from eight to 12 years, it spends a significant amount of its time in casks formerly used to age sherry. This entire operation is completely supervised by The Army Welfare Project (AWP), the commercial arm of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA); according to Wikipedia, AWP provides benefits for retired RBA members (e.g., employment, pensions, loans).

Well, I guess that’s about it for now, Drinking Made Easy fans.  Until next time, please remember the words of the great French philosopher Rene Descartes, who said, “I drink, therefore I am!”


The Virtual Nihilist
New York City, NY




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Drinking Culture in Iceland: Cocktails, Beer and Brennivin. http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/drinking-culture-in-iceland-cocktails-beer-and-brennivin/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/blog/drinking-culture-in-iceland-cocktails-beer-and-brennivin/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 10:30:01 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24190 Iceland has a very interesting drinking history. Much like the US, Iceland had its own alcohol prohibition. Iceland’s began in 1915 and remained fully intact until 1935 when spirits and wines were legalized. For some strange reason, “strong” beer (anything over 2.25%) remained illegal all the way until 1989.

The thought process was that since beer was much cheaper than other forms of alcohol, it would lead to more depravity and overall drunken shenanigans. One of the most popular drinks during prohibition was the practice of dumping a shot of vodka or brennivin (an unsweetened schnapps) into a non-alcoholic beer. It would seem to me that would get people a lot more drunk than a 4-6% ABV beer. But, what do I know?

Chris iphone 144Recently, I took a trip to Iceland to study (by drinking a lot) the modern day drinking culture and found that prohibition has had a lasting affect on the contemporary drinking choices made by Icelanders.

A handful of native Icelanders: two mixologists and a vodka representative were nice enough to answer a few questions about drinking in “The Land of Fire and Ice”.

Kari Sigurosson of Reykjavik’s Lavabar and Orri Gunnsteinn of Reykjavik’s Sushi Samba are mixologists and Fjalar Sigurðarson is a representative of William Grant and Sons along with working with Iceland’s most popular vodka, Reyka.

What is the most commonly consumed spirit in Iceland and why is it so popular?

Sigurosson: I can only provide an answer through my understanding, which derives from me know what I sell the most at the bars I have worked at. And the answer to that is Vodka. Vodka seems to be our poison as far as I can tell, especially Reyka..being that its a number one seller and can be seen here at most of the bars and clubs in Reykjavik.

Is there a beer culture in Iceland? Are there a lot of craft breweries?

Sigurosson: Oh yeah. Per capita (Iceland’s favorite term), the beer culture here is quite insane. I could look it up but a shot in the dark tells me it is around 100+ types and growing each year, and it only got big a few years ago. Every year breweries in Iceland create a new Christmas beer, a new Easter beer, etc. We have toasted porters, pale ales, wheat beer, summer ale’s, meads, beers made by the thousands and beers made in the hundreds (limited kinds).

Gunnsteinn: Yes, we now have a beer culture, but just in the recent years. Icelandic breweries were few and far between and they didn’t take any risks when it came to making new variations. Almost all local beers where pale lager. But with the start of a few mini breweries the beer culture has changed and there are more chooses available and more interest in brewing new and exiting types. Right now there is a good selection of fabulous Icelandic beers and a lot of culture emerging in Icelandic bars and restaurants.

Chris-iphone-135How has prohibition affected the modern day drinking culture?

Sigurðarson: Number one effect of prohibition in Iceland is probably that lack of beer for so many decades meant there was no pub or bar culture, since there were no bars or pubs.

There was no moderate socializing over a pint or a glass of wine during the week. Drinking was taken seriously and nearly only done on the weekends. Drinking in mid-week was considered a sign of alcoholism whereas binge drinking on a weekend was considered the norm. Maybe it is not only due to prohibition, but also the work ethic in Iceland. Icelanders used to work mostly in farming and fishing. The working week was almost non-stop and regular hours were hard to keep in seasonal changes.

How does vodka fit into the overall drinking culture and history of Iceland?

Sigurðarson: For the last 8-9 years, there has finally been a cocktail scene sprouting up in Iceland. Some of it is probably due to changing times, but I would like to thank Reyka at least partially for the changes. I would not put it past Icelandic women to have been somewhat influenced by the TV series Sex in the City. Cosmopolitan was probably the icebreaker for many girls in the cocktail category.

How does Vodka fit into Iceland’s drinking culture?

Sigurðarson: Vodka was not considered a “fine drink” in Iceland, it was next door to Brennivin, the strong tasting local brand that has a long history in Iceland, although only blended and bottled there, not distilled. A cheap vodka brand was good bang for your buck as you had your serious weekend binging to accomplish. Typically mixed with Coke or OJ in a long drink glass, that was what constituted a cocktail in Iceland for many decades. Lately there have been more and more bars and mixologists that have introduced a variety of taste, drink brands and drink categories into the Icelandic scene, changing it for the better. The change is probably has a strong correlation with age, this is a generational change mostly, with the younger newcomers embracing the new cocktail scene, whereas the older people still cling to their bottles of vodka and Coke.

Chris-iphone-185Tell me a little bit about the mixology movement in Iceland.

Gunnsteinn: A lot has changed in the last few years. In the past cocktails were not popular, and the ones that were offered in bars were simple and the same in every place. Now bars are starting to become more ambitious with their cocktails and strive to invent their own made with their own, fresh ingredients.

Are craft cocktails becoming popular in the Icelandic drinking culture?
Gunnsteinn: Not yet, the trend has just started. In the handful of places that offer craft cocktails they are becoming more popular.  More Icelanders are beginning to experiment with craft cocktails, so we are seeing more and more people ask for them when they come to the bar.

Is there anything Americans should know about the bar culture in Iceland?
Gunnsteinn: The bar culture varies by time and week day so it’s good to do some research into what bars are popular in that time before you go out. Also Icelandic people go to bars and clubs pretty late and stay late.  There are bars and lounges that can fit well with everyone’s preferences – if you like cocktails, beer, hip hop, rock and so on…


Christopher Osburn
Rochester, New York
Profiles Editor for Chilled Magazine
Drinks writer for Men’s Journal

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Avalon Bay AB-ICE26 Ice Maker http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/gear/avalon-bay-ab-ice26-ice-maker/ http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/gear/avalon-bay-ab-ice26-ice-maker/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 10:49:33 +0000 http://drinkingmadeeasy.com/?p=24184 A few weeks ago the Drinking Made Easy office was gifted an Avalon Bay AB-ICE26 Ice Maker. Since then, we have been finding every excuse possible to enjoy a drink with ice… for uh…testing purposes of couse. Our office refrigerator had the old-fashion ice cube trays and all, but there was something great about scooping out freshly made ice from this beautiful machine.

emailavbThe AB-ICE26 is sleek and compact and took little effort to setup. Following the provided instructions we gave it a quick clean and let it set for an hour as you should do with any type of refrigeration unit. We then decided to take the ice maker on its first test run.

The instructions stated that the machine would produce a fresh batch of ice every 6 minutes while it was on. Pretty impressive, but we were doubtful. We turned it on, and selected small ice cubes to start. While the machine probably needed to warm-up cool-down, tiny ice cubes started to show up in 6-8 minutes. The tiny ice-cubes were cute, but we were doubtful on how the ice would hold up in a drink. Though these suspicions were legitimate, we decided to let the machine run a little longer and produce the larger ice cubes instead. Every 6 minutes, a new batch of ice would fall into a tray and soon enough we had a nice amount of good sized ice-cubes kept cold in the unit’s storage bin. Each one of the large cubes was about 1 to 2 inches long and about an inch thick with the center hollowed out a tad bit. These ice cubes worked great. We would scoop full glasses and watched as our drinks were surrounded by fresh ice. Even though our doubts were subdued, we continued to test the ice machine with many a cocktail throughout the day.

So instead of constantly having to refill our ice cube trays or buying big bags at the store. We simply turn on the machine and wait while it turns into self-regulating ice bucket. Truly convenient!


  • Automatic overflow protection
  • Choose from 2 ice cube sizes
  • Complementary red, grey, or black finish looks great with any home or office decor
  • Lighted indicators remind you to add water and empty ice try
  • Makes fresh ice in as little as 6 minutes
  • Produces up to 26 lbs of ice daily


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