On Wednesday 8/29/18, I hosted guys night at my place. The theme was Mad Men.
Some time ago I created a drinking club with some guys that I work with. We meet once a month and there are parameters that are put on each meetup. This month I declared a theme of Mad Men. Amazingly, not only had I not seen the series, but I hadn’t even heard of it. Obviously, I’m working to fix that. Beyond that, Ian was tasked to bring a derivative of the Old Fashioned, Frank and Steve were queued up for cocktails, and I was to bring straight spirits. Unfortunately, Steve got called to a client meeting at the last second and couldn’t make it. Frank called in sick. That left the event to Ian and myself. No worries, Ian is cool.
As the host, I had to research Mad Men to figure out what food to serve. Several of the classic choices in the series were not practical, such as ice cream and baked alaska. Also, there is a greater focus on meals than finger foods. So, I switched to using 1960’s era cocktail snacks. Based on that, I ran with a couple of classics and the theme of the decade of having foods that can be wrangled with one hand while the other hand is holding a drink. As per usual, I manged just 10% of the food situation and Brittani took on the major role, even though she doesn’t normally participate in guys night. We had Pigs in a Blanket, a cheese ball, and meatballs.
We started the evening with Ian making an Old Fashioned, following a scene in the show. In Season 3 Episode 3 Don Draper jumps over the bar to make a pair of Old Fashioneds. Ian followed his lead by dropping in a sugar cube followed by Angostura bitters and muddling. He added a measure of Larceny and a couple of ice cubes before stirring. He topped it off with a wedge of orange. Classic ,yet a throw back to the show. Nice.
My encore presentation was a splash of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye on an ice sphere. The spirit of choice on the show is Canadian Club on ice. Unfortunately, that spirit gets low reviews and wasn’t readily available. Alternatively, rye is a common drink. So, I combined the Country of Canada and chose an award winning rye. Of course, if I am going to use ice then it is going to be a crystal clear sphere.
Having run out of people who were assigned to bring drinks, Ian and I then moved on to my Three Pillars scotch tasting. Ian has previously tried the Lagavulin so I didn’t bother to pour it for him. The GlenLivet 12 was fine, but not a winner. The GlenFiddich 15 surprised him and we talked about sherried and related whiskies. We also had a sip of Distillery 291 Cask Strength Rye.
Finally, I opened a nice bottle of grappa. After grapes are pressed for wine, the pumice is left over. In the US, we use this for mulch, but in Italy it is distilled into grappa. Traditionally it is a horrible drink, and I’ve had more than my share of that version. In the modern era, the manufacturers have learned that you have to create a quality product if you want to win the business of the upcoming generations.
Some time ago, the Poli distillery laid down a barrel to honor Toni, one of the elders in the family. He was expected to pass soon and they wanted to show him the honor while they still could. The following year they laid down another barrel. And another, etc. This continued until he passed a full 9 years after what was expected. So, each year they bottled a 9 year grappa (an unheard of age for grappa). I was honored to buy year 5 and Ian and I opened it. Not surprisingly, it has a distinctive raisin flavor to it. What is surprising is that this product would be successful in the United States. It’s really quite good.
Price per bottle (Alabama prices are state controlled):
Larceny Bourbon: $31
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye: $29
Poli Barrique Grappa: ~$80