Rock & Rye

A Drink On The Rocks…..


April 2011

10th Annual April Brews Day

This coming Saturday, join more than 30 local and regional breweries in the 10th annual Bellingham, WA microbrew tasting and competition fundraiser to benefit the Max Higbee Center, a local non-profit that provides recreational opportunities for teens and adults with developmental disabilities.

Some of the breweries confirmed to be in attendance are:
New Belgium, Unibroue, Stone Brewing, Alaskan, Elysian, Maritime Pacific, Flyers, Mac & Jack, Pike, Three Skulls, Two Beers, Lazy Boy, Redhook, Kona, Ninkasi, Widmer, as well as Bellingham’s own Chuckanut and Boundary Bay.

This event will be at the Depot Market Square on Saturday, April 30 2011.
General admission: 6:30-10PM.
$16 in advance, $20 at the door.
Admission includes a collectible tasting glass and script for beer tastes and food.
Tickets for purchase at Boundary Bay Brewery, Chuckanut Brewery, Community Food Co-op, and Village Books.
Hope to see you there!


Beer of the Week: New Belgium Somersault

After 4 years of featuring Skinny Dip as their summer seasonal beer, Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing has changed it up with an all new summer beer called Somersault.

Labeled as an American Blonde Ale, this 5.2% abv ale, is a departure from the traditions usually found in New Belgiums offerings. This beer is mashed with oats for smoothness, hopped with a generous dose of Centennial hops, brewed with some apricot and ginger, and then fermented with an American Hefeweizen yeast.

Somersault pours a bright, clear blonde color, with a short white head that lingers in the glass until the end. It is carbonated fairly high up on the scale, and has strong aromas of grassy hay and hops with some honey flavors lingering in the background. The malt flavors are very subdued and serve more as a playground for the other flavors to romp around on. Big, bold, citrusy hops with just a touch of fruitiness are the initial flavors, followed by a small taste of yeast and maybe some honeyed ginger. The finish is mildly bitter and fairly dry. Although it says to serve at 45 degrees, pulling one of these ice cold beers out of the cooler on a nice sunny day would be my preference. While it is a departure from their tried and true summer seasonals, I think this one will stick around for a while. Cheers!


Vintage Cocktails #59: The Straits Sling

Once an entire category of drinks, the sling has since faded mostly into obscurity, with only the Singapore Sling being relatively known. The Straits Sling is more likely the original Singapore Sling, the latter coming about by a misrepresentation of one of its ingredients, cherry brandy. In the original recipe for the Straits Sling, Cocktails and How to Mix Them (1922 – Robert Vermeire), he calls for “dry cherry brandy”. This ingredient was switched up for the sweeter, more colorful cherry brandy, or more specifically, cherry liqueur on a brandy base. However, cherry eau de vie, (an actual distillate of cherries) is actually what was being specified. This drink was lost to obscurity simply because of a misunderstanding of ingredients, and it’s a shame because this version is far tastier than the Singapore Slings being served today.

Straits Sling
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Kirschwasser
1/2 oz Benedictine
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 dashes Orange Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Soda Water

Vintage Cocktails #58: The Mother-In-Law Cocktail

A truly forgotten cocktail, this next drink comes to us courtesy of Mr Brooks Baldwin’s grandmother. Given to her by her mother in law just prior to WWI, this recipe was meant to be bottled and served from a decanter as need arose. This was very much the style for many households in the pre-prohibition era, and a style of great convenience as well. As there are no fruit juices present, this concoction would keep for quite a spell. This cocktail appears to be a variation on the also forgotten Zazerac Cocktail, but with enough difference to warrant its own name. The following recipe has been scaled down to 2 maybe 3 drinks.

The Mother-In-Law Cocktail
1 tsp Peychaud’s Bitters
1 tsp Angostura Bitters
1 tsp Amer Picon
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
9 oz Bourbon

App Review: Liquor Hub iOS App

Have you ever walked into a liquor store and been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options? Wanted to try out a new spirit but were unsure of which brand to get? Well, thanks to the fine folks over at, there is an app for that. Liquor Hub aims to help you out with an app that delivers consumer and professional ratings for over 3,500 spirits. I’ve been playing with it for a couple of weeks, so lets take a look at some of the ups and downs of this app.

Liquor Hub has five main areas of interest, and we will take a look at them all. One thing to note is that since the app is tied to the database at, an internet connection is required for the app, which is a bit of a bummer, but completely understandable.

Guru: The Guru helps you pick out a new spirit based upon regularly updated categories such as: Best of 2010, US Region, Awesome Marketing, Family Gifts, etc… Personally, this is my least favorite part of the app. Some of the categories are alright, but others seem very random in the spirits they suggest. The ‘For Your Health’ category is especially ridiculous. Bakon Vodka and Chipotle Liqueur are not going to make me more healthy, although perhaps the Smoked Salmon Vodka paired with the Eucalyptus Gum Leaf Vodak might. Some may find this section a novelty, but it doesn’t really do anything for me. If it wasn’t present, I do not think that I would find the app lacking. Also, hopefully I am enough of a Guru myself that I can find something new to try on my own.

Top 20: This is an extremely useful category as it displays the current list of top spirits in multiple categories. works on a rating system that takes into account scores from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Beverage Tasting Institute, Wine Enthusiast, as well as reviews by consumers on their website. As such, this list is constantly changing, and is an excellent place to start when looking for something new. The only complaint I have in this particular area, is that because the pro reviews are rated so high, spirits that have no scores post 2004 are not very highly ranked. While I understand the challenges of keeping this massive database updated, one of my favorite rums is no longer entered in many competitions after winning top honors for years, and therefore does not appear in the top 20, even though it should be at the top. I guess I’ll just have to get a bunch of people to like it and give it a positive review.

Search: Here we have some pretty cool functionality. Besides the standard search box, which allows you to search by name, distillery, flavor, or location, there is a barcode scanner which can be used to scan any bottle. Successfully scanning a barcode brings up the product page where you can get info on the product as well as it’s ratings and reviews. My two minor complaints about this section are, the scanner only works in landscape mode, which is a little bit of a pain when holding a bottle in your opposite hand. The other is that while this is a great feature, there are not barcodes for all the products in the database. However, when no barcode is found, the option is provided for you to send an email to proof66 with the barcode number and product info. In time, I think this will be a valuable feature. I will probably end up scanning all my bottles to make sure they are added to the database.

Spirits: As you might have guessed, this is where you can find the entire database listed by category: Vodka, Liqueur, Rum, Whiskey, Tequila, Gin, Exotics. Under each category are sub-categories such as Flavored and Classic for base spirits, and descriptors for Liqueurs and Exotics. While I would maybe have split the exotics into their own categories or put them under some of the base spirits, it is still very well laid out and organized with one exception. Brandy. There is no brandy on this list. While I am not a super big brandy consumer, this is probably an area that I would benefit from having, as it is the area that I am the least knowledgeable of. Hennessy, Courvoisier, and Remy Martin are nowhere to be found in this app, which I find very surprising and a little disappointing.

Your Favorites: This is where the personalization happens. Products you like can be saved for the future, and are automatically linked to your account on where they can be added to a dream list, bar list, or shopping list. As this is an area that I will use a lot, I wish it had its own navigation icon at the bottom of the screen. I would choose the ability to easily navigate to my favorites over the Guru any day.

The app also features a decent list of interesting articles which range from informational to comedic to educational. All in all, this is an app that I highly recommend. At $0.99 it won’t break the bank, and you might just be rewarded by purchasing a bottle that becomes your favorite.

You can purchase this app HERE. Cheers!

Beer of the Week: Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot

One of the seasonal releases from Lagunitas Brewing, Wilco Tango Foxtrot Ale, (or WTF) is described as a “A Malty, Robust, Jobless Recovery Ale.” It certainly is that. Massively malty and robust with a huge hop flavor, it weighs in at 7.83% abv, not a beer for the weak hearted.

WTF pours a deep copper in color with a fairly good sized tan head. The aromas are rich with caramel malt and brown sugar, balanced out by the citrusy evergreen hops. On the tongue, the sweet flavors do not feature as prominently as you would expect, instead you get a lot of dark roast, a little bitter chocolate, and a huge shot of the aforementioned piney hop flavors. If I didn’t know any better, I would almost guess that I was drinking an IPA. While this is not the malt bomb that the label implies, it would appeal greatly to IPA fans, and while I typically do not favor such a hoppy beer, I would pick this one up again. Cheers!

Vintage Cocktails #57: Satan’s Whiskers

The diabolically named Satan’s Whiskers is one of those drinks that has a great name to go with a great drink. It even has two variations, ‘straight’ and ‘curled’, which reference the variety of orange liqueur you make it with. This is an astounding drink that is not too heavy, light on alcohol, and really just tastes great. The ‘straight’ version uses Grand Marnier as the orange liqueur, and the ‘curled’ uses orange curacao. I prefer the latter, but it is excellent either way. Cheers.

Satan’s Whiskers
1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Orange Juice
2 tsp Orange Curacao
1 tsp Orange Bitters

Steel Reserve: The Beer Of Champions

Steel Reserve is a Union made, American lager owned and produced by Steel Brewing Company. Today we are going to take a look at the 8.1% abv High Gravity Lager, which is slow brewed for 28 days with extra barley and select hops.

Steel Reserve is most often found in 40oz bottles and 24oz silver cans, with a great eye catching design.
It pours a clear amber color with minimal lacing. Carbonation is on the high end of the lager spectrum. The aromas are light malt and sweet corn, with no hop aromas present. The taste is sweet corn, sugary adjuncts, some slight metallic flavors rounded out by some acidic hops and the warm glow of alcohol. Probably one of the best malt liquors out there.

“Steel Reserve is a great beer!!”
“I wish i could get my home brew to taste more like it!”
“This is the perfect alcoholic’s brew.”
“It tastes better than many macro brews or is more drinkable than an IPA or a stout.” 

So go ahead and give it a try. As you sip this nectar remember all of my friends who know and love this beer. Here’s looking at you, Tim & Emmett. Cheers!

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