Bar Bandits

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Check Out this Bacon Cocktail


January 17, 2010 Posted by | bacon cocktail, bartending, how to video, mixology | Leave a comment

Watch The Master At Work…Dale Degroff

January 15, 2010 Posted by | Dale Degroff, how to video, mixology | Leave a comment

John Powers

Bandit Review:  I was extremely surprised to find that it is really hard to find a review of Powers Irish whiskey. I think that this shows how over looked this whiskey is in the states and most of the world outside of Ireland. Usually, when you type most popular whiskeys into Google you are over whelmed with information, not the case for this great Irish whiskey. This whiskey is a personal favorite of mine and I often drink Powers when I am in Ireland or a good Pub. Powers has a great light spicy aroma with light honey notes. It is easy to drink straight or over the rocks. The price point on this bottle makes it affordable for everyone. One of my favorite cocktails with this whiskey is a “Powers Sour” made by fellow Bar Bandit, Trevor Easter of de Vere’s Irish Pub.
      Powers pours a pale golden color. Powers is aged around 7 years (this is blended so there is no set age) in oak casks, so the whiskey does not inherit a lot of color from the wood like other whiskeys. This Irish whiskey undergoes triple distillation, so the whiskey is very clear and pure.

     There is no smoky aroma as Irish Whiskey dries its blend of malted and unmalted barley in closed kilns. Irish whiskey is considered smoother and lighter than other types of whiskey because of this process. The barley and grainy aromas are present as there is little to cover their notes. Powers blends traditional pot still whisky with grain whiskey, so you will nose and taste a variety of grains.

     When poured over rocks, the first sip or two are very pleasant and rich. The spicy flavor will overcome you first and then that will give way to a honey-like sweetness. Powers is more complex than what I consider to be its closest spirit, Jameson. Both are sweeter and smoother than most Scotch, however, Powers is does not give way to the mellow flavors initially. That is why I enjoy Powers more.

     I found that adding enough ice to just chill the whiskey slightly was the best method. A couple cubes that dissolve quickly did not lower the 40% ABV too greatly, but it did help release a little more of the fruity sweetness and aroma.

     Powers will linger with you lightly and not as strongly as you are used to with Scotch. You feel the Powers working, but there is not much to note on your palate a short time after your sip”

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Bars, bartending, beer, bourbon, culture, drinks, drunk, gin, john powers, mixology, pub, rum, sacramento, saloon, scotch, tequila, whiskey, whisky | Leave a comment

John Powers, An Over looked Irish Whiskey In the United States.

The Power's John Lane Distillery in 1886 - Click for larger size imageThe John’s Lane Distillery, founded in the year 1791 by James Power, an inn keeper from Dublin, was quite possibly the most beautiful, efficient and perfect distillery visited by Alfred Barnard in 1886 –maybe explaining why he devoted a full 6 pages in his book to it, more than for any other distillery in Ireland.  This great power house of Irish distiling started life on a very small scale – it was a tiny distillery producing 6,000 gallons, situated behind James Powers’ public house, from where mail coaches heading west out of Dublin would begin their journey. It did not stay small for long, and expanded rapidly after the 1823 Excise Act, which changed the limitations and taxations previously imposed on distillers.  James Power’s son, John, acquired a 500-gallon still and by 1833 they were producing 300,000 gallons a year.  They did extensive rebuilding and expanded hugely in 1871 and when Alfred Barnard made his famous visit, output was at an impressive 900,000 gallons per year, slightly less than what the Jameson Distillery was producing.  

Engine Room No.5 with its double faced clock - Click for larger size imageThe building was an ultra modern efficient complex, covering six-and-a-quarter acres of ground and offices, all the way from Thomas Street to the Quays by the river Liffey.   There were open staircases throughout the five grain floors. These floors were beautifully clean and well ventilated and contained most of the time over 3,000 tonnes of grain. The kilns were 57 feet by 30 feet, with open groined roofs, lined with wood and stained oak, making them look like small English parish churches.  The Mill room produced 1,500 barrels every twenty-four hours. The Still House was a noble looking building, containing five pot stills in 1886 and six by the turn of the century, the largest being the two Wash Stills, each holding 25,000 gallons.  Powers produced triple distilled pot still whiskey, made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley, with a small proportion of wheat or oats added, as was the custom in Ireland at the time.  This new spirit would be put into casks and into any of the 17 warehouses which could hold up to 12,000 casks at any one time.  The Distillery also had splendid outlying bonded warehouses under Westland Row Railway Station and under the South City Markets, which brought the total warehousing capacity to 40,000 casks.  Barnard was particularly impressed by the warehouses underneath the new City Markets, with brick arches, supported on rolled iron beams and perfectly ventilated by large windows, the temperature being carefully monitored in both summer and winter. 

The Powers were noted breeders of shire horses and in the premises in Thomas Street there were large stables and even a “horse hospital” for any horses who fell ill. There were also engineering shops, sawmills, carpenters, coppersmiths and fitters and the distillery employed 275 men.  Barnard noted interestingly that the water used in the Distillery was principally from the river Vartry and that some of the old fashioned customers sent two empty casks with their order – one to be filled with Powers’ whiskey, the other to be filled with water from the Vartry, in order to reduce their whiskey with same water as had been used in the making of the spirit.

The Distillery had its own fire department, manned day and night by a team of 8 men and the alarms were connected through the exchange to the city Fire Brigade.  In case of fire, the water supply was destined to come from the Vartry, the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal and the distillery had its own stationary horizontal double-acting fire engine, capable of throwing 800 gallons of water per minute through eight lines of hose to a height of 150 feet.

The beam engine inside Engine Room No.5 - Click for larger size imageIn 1866, John Power & Son began bottling their own whiskey, which was unheard of before in Ireland, as it was usually sold in the cask.  The gold label was entrusted on the bottle and it was from this that the whiskey got its name “Powers Gold Label”.  As the distillery and the brand grew, so did the stature of the family – John Power first was made High Sheriff of Dublin, then knighted in 1841 – after which the firm traded as Sir John Powers & Son – and it was he who laid the foundation stone to the O’Connell Monument in Dublin in 1854.  The last member of the family to serve on the Board was Sir Thomas Talbot Power who died in 1936.  The Powers distillery was a founding member of the Irish Distillers Group and ownership of the company remained in the family until 1966.  John’s Lane Distillery installed a column still in 1961, which they used primarily for the production of gin and vodka, but which was also used to experiment with producing grain whiskey for blending.  They were instrumental in persuading the Irish Distillers Group to move from focusing on pot still whiskeys to blended whiskeys. The distillery finally closed its doors in 1974 when the Irish Distillers Group decided to move all its production, including that of Powers Whiskey, to the Midleton Distillery, where Powers whiskey is still distilled today.  Interestingly, the stillhouse in the new distillery in Midleton with its interconnecting pot stills and column stills was modelled mainly on that of John’s Lane.

So what has become of the distillery itself? Most of it, unfortunately has been demolished, some of it even before the closure and the move to Midleton. In 1980 Ireland’s National College of Art and Design bought most of the site and the Counting House, a magnificent building on Thomas Street which was used as offices, Distiller’s residence, still stands today. The Great Still House with its five pot stills that gleamed “like burnished gold” has unfortunately vanished, but three pot stills were spared and can still be seen today, outdoors, green with time and neglect. Part of the original Kiln building is still distinguishable from its circular shape and houses the College’s library upstairs.  Two of the original five Engine Houses have survived, the most notable being Engine House No.5 with its beam engine of 250 horse power manufactured by Turnbull, Grant and Jack of Glasgow in 1886.  The double faced clock, admired by Barnard, set in the wall of the Engine House can still be seen today.  Only the smaller of the original two chimney stacks has survived (95ft), the taller stack which stood at 120ft having been demolished for safety and insurance reasons, shortly after the College acquired the site.

Fortunately, the vestiges of the John’s Lane Powers Distillery today are now protected structures, so they are likely to remain as a testament to this once great distillery.  The College of Art and Design is not open to visitors as such, however, they are most amiable, and will accommodate anyone who wants to come in to see what is left of the distillery.  If you are a big Powers whiskey fan, you may want to take this short pilgrimage to the spiritual home of your favourite whiskey, especially if you are visiting The Old Jameson Distillery, as the two are only about a 30 minute walk from each other.  Call into reception at the college from the Thomas Street entrance, and explain that you would like to see the pot stills and old distillery.  The Engine Room is not open for viewing, but you can wander at your ease in the grounds of the College where you can admire the stills, chimney stack and remaining architecture.”
John’s Lane Distillery – Thomas Street, Dublin 8

Tel. +353 01 6364291 (National College of Art and Design reception)gn reception)

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Bars, bartending, beer, bourbon, culture, drinks, drunk, gin, mixology, powers whiskey, pub, rum, sacramento, saloon, scotch, tequila, whiskey, whisky | Leave a comment

Slane Castle

Bandit Review:

 My staff has gone nuts over this Irish whiskey. Slane Castle has all the smoothness of a southern Irish whiskey, with hints of vanilla and honey suckle. However, there is a hint of the spiciness and light smoke of Northern Irish whiskeys, take Bushmills for example. Every time you go to taste this whiskey lick your lips after each sip in order to heighten your experience of all the sweetness this whiskey has to offer. Then after swallowing take a slow deep breath in through your mouth and you will pick up the faint lingering of spice and smoke. This whiskey is complex and still remains approachable making it a great whiskey to recommend over the bar to almost any whiskey drinker. The price point is extremely reasonable as well, making this whiskey a favorite of the Bar Bandits. Review:
      ” So, unsolicited, today I recieve a bottle of blended Irish whiskey called “Slane Castle.” Metal screw top, picture of a castle on the label, no age statement, and 40% ABV. I never heard of this. As expected, the back label says it was distilled at Cooley (being the only independent Irish distillery and the distillery where most private Irish whiskey labels come from.)

      Sure, I know that Cooley has made some delicious blended whiskeys lately,but still…I am always a little wary of “branded” whiskeys. You never know who’s deciding what goes in the bottles. Let me tell you: what a pleasant surprise! And at a very affordable price. You want a value whiskey? Here’s one. My formal review follows.

Slane Castle Irish whiskey, 40%, $23
     Great malt flavor for a blend–and creamy–with honeyed vanilla, soothing caramel, lively summer fruits, golden raisin, subtle date, and butter cookie. Well-balanced, very clean with no harshness, and very drinkable!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 80
According to my contact, here’s the scoop on availability:
    The product only landed in the US in July. We have begun the distribution process, but it coincided with the Constellation brand shuffle, which has slowed many of my wholesalers down. I will begin broad based sales in January, and I am “spot starting” in MA, SC, CT, FL and IL.”

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Bars, bartending, beer, bourbon, culture, drinks, drunk, gin, mixology, pub, rum, sacramento, saloon, scotch, Slane castle, tequila, whiskey, whisky | Leave a comment

Woodford Reserve

Bandit Review 
There are so Many Bourbons to choose from I often feel like a child in a candy store. Woodford is a great place for anyone to start their journey into exploring the world of Bourbons. This whiskey is very soft and easy going, with its rich sweetness and relatively light burn. This Bourbon is great neat, over the rocks, or in a classic Manhattan. Review:
“Deep amber color. Spicy charred oak, sweet toffee, and pepper aromas. A rich entry leads to a dryish medium-to full-bodied palate with toffee, mocha, and white pepper flavors with a pronounced copper tang. Finishes with a sweet, charred barrel, brown, and metallic fade. An aggressive and spicy bourbon that will work nicely in a bourbon peach tea cocktail.

International Review of Spirits Award: Gold Medal
RATING: 90 points (Exceptional)
CATEGORY: Whiskey Bourbon, Whiskey
TASTING LOCATION: In Our Chicago Tasting Room
TASTING DATE: Jan-01-2006″


December 14, 2009 Posted by | Bars, bartending, beer, bourbon, culture, drinks, drunk, gin, mixology, pub, rum, sacramento, saloon, scotch, tequila, whiskey, whisky, woodford | Leave a comment

Michter’s US 1 Rye And it’s Older Brother Michter’s 10yr Rye

Cocktail Chronicles Review:
“Michter’s US1 Straight Rye Whiskey
        The US1 has earned a reputation as an excellent mixing whiskey that also isn’t too shabby on its own.
It has a nose that is good and spicy, but not too aggressive, with little hints of cherry and tobacco. Tasted neat, the spice is quickly followed by a subdued dryness with a mild fruitiness, and without a great deal of complexity. The finish is short, smooth and sweet, with the cherry notes following through to the end.
     Verdict: Overall this was an enjoyable whiskey, but not a standout. One panelist noted that there was “not much complexity to it; it has a very simple, dry flavor,” but others found the cherry notes on the nose and the palate appealing.

Michter’s 10-Year-Old Straight Rye

     The 10-year-old has earned a lot of raves in recent years, being given the highest recommendation by Wine Enthusiast in 2005, and chosen as the top pick by the Los Angeles Times rye tasting panel that same year.
     This rye was striking, even before we started sniffing it. Panelists noted its engaging amber color in the glass, and on the nose it showed its age and its proof with a rich, sweet aroma with a little pear and a little graininess — “It’s got a great, sweet nose, and the color is exquisite,” one panelist noted.
      At nearly 93 proof, the whiskey had a little heat and an earthy spiciness that was really engaging, but not over the top, and a lush, full body that made the sipping very enjoyable. The spiciness was followed by a slightly sweet middle touched with banana and oatmeal, and a long, smooth finish that was very engaging.”
Cocktail Chronicles

Bandit Review:
     These Ryes are amazing! The 10 year has been on back order for the past two months due to its recent popularity! I use the term “recent” lightly as this is one of America’s oldest distilleries. It was a favorite of George Washington’s; he actually carried Michters on his campaigns during the revolutionary war in order to keep his troops from getting restless. Rumor has it, he would stop his troops when the weather was too cold, or there was unrest amongst his men and they would all get hammered on Michter’s finest. In the morning after a little “R and R”, the boys would be back on the road and back in the fight (Or they were too hung-over to complain.).

      All great stories aside, these whiskeys are a personal favorite of all the Bandits. Give it to us straight, give us at least two fingers worth, and otherwise leave the bottle bar keep! We only want to save you the work of having to go back and forth to get the bottle every time we want a refill!

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Bars, bartending, beer, bourbon, culture, drinks, drunk, gin, michter's, mixology, pub, rum, sacramento, saloon, scotch, tequila, whiskey, whisky | Leave a comment

Flor De Cana

     Although I’m not a huge fan of Silver rums, I have to say for the price point, this rum is a steal. Since the liquor laws are so rigid in California it is hard to get any real “support” from your vendors, so why sell their product if it’s not the best product you can offer your guests? I find over all, that people our very receptive to trying new products even in this rather horrible economy.
     Recently, I have replaced Bacardi Light for Flor de Cana 4 yr old silver rum. Not only is the bottle a few bucks cheaper thus helping my pour costs, but the taste is by far superior. I did three blind taste tests and each time the 4 yr old rum was the favorite. I made the switch 2 weeks ago and all the diehard Bacardi drinkers have not put up a fuss at all so far. On the contrary, they have all appreciated their drinks and come back for seconds.  Some have even been thankful for the introduction to a new type of rum.  After all you really have two kinds of drinkers in a bar, those who could careless and are there just to get hammered and those who want to enjoy their drinks while having a good time with friends.  I suppose these two roads often end at the same destination.
    The age statement on this rum lets you know that it is 100% aged rum where as Bacardi has no age statement. So the only thing your guests will find missing from their cocktail is the burn that Bacardi gives. Go ahead and try a shot of each straight up and tell me which one you prefer. This rum is Bandit approved for both your guests satisfaction and for your owners pour cost.
    Furthermore, they have a full line up of delicious dark rums that are a great addition to any back bar that is dedicated to finding the best spirits available. Their rums are aged 7, 12,18, and 21 years. I find them all to be incredible, I use the 7 year old rum as a float on a Mai Tai, or I pour it over the rocks with a squeeze of fresh lime.

To learn more about this product check out their web site at

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Bars, bartending, beer, bourbon, culture, drinks, drunk, gin, mixology, pub, rum, sacramento, saloon, scotch, tequila, whiskey, whisky, wine | Leave a comment

Path of the Bartender….Guest Blog

Path of the Bartender

     ” I can’t take credit for this, but I wholeheartedly agree with every single word. This is something that I have been thinking of a lot lately actually, and was amused in the ‘coincidental’ timing of receiving this. Its an e-mail I got this morning as being part of the USBG (united states bartending guild) here it goes:

    The Path of the Bartender, As I pointed out in The Joy of Mixology, I owe much to Ted “Dr.Cocktail” Haigh. He was the guy who, soon after Bartender’s Bible was published in 1991, took me by the hand and gently showed me how much I didn’t know about the world of cocktails. Oh, I already knew much about the job of the bartender–I first worked behind the bar circa 1965/6 when I was just 14 years old, and although I’d also worked as a bar manager at times, I’d been behind the bar most of my working life since then. Around 25 years behind bars. But Ted showed me the historical side, and lots more besides. Ted was also the man who pointed out that Margaritas and Sidecars are related, leading me to create the families I put together for Joy of Mixology in 2003. Do you ever hear Ted say, “Gary wouldn’t be where he is today if I hadn’t helped him.” No you don’t.
      You don’t hear Robert Hess say that, either, or Dale DeGroff, yet all of these guys helped me out as I was coming up through the ranks. Paul Pacult is another guy who was incredibly generous to me in the early years. Incredibly generous. But you’ll never hear him say anything about it. And Dave Wondrich is yet another guy who should get a mention here, too. I think that all of us have had our eyes opened by some of the stuff that he has brought to light in our industry.
   I’m not being overly humble when I credit these guys with helping me. In some ways I hope that I’ve helped them, too, and I give myself a bit of credit for being anxious to learn from these people. And I’ve learned from young bartenders along the way, too. Chad Soloman, for instance, was the first guy to show me the “dry shake” when he was working at Pegu Club. And Stan Vadrna showed me the “hard shake,” but I still can’t get that one right.
      Lots and lots of bartenders 20-plus years my junior have taught me over the years, and if you’re a real bartender you know that the craft is a living thing–something that we’re constantly learning about. You’re probably wondering right around now what it is I’m trying to say, so let me get to the point: A few weeks ago I heard that one bartender was putting down another bartender by saying that she taught him everything he knew, and that he isn’t as hot as he thinks he is. This truly saddened me. The best teachers don’t take credit for their students’ accomplishments.
     When we put other people down, what we are saying is “I am better than that person.” And guess what, guys? Not one of us is any better than any person who walks the face of the earth. You’re no better than I am. I’m no better than you are. And neither of us is any better than the homeless guy sitting outside Grand Central trying to raise enough cash for a sandwich. Putting other people down is nothing more, and nothing less, than an ego trip. And if you’re on an ego trip, you can’t walk the Path of The Bartender.
       Egos are weird things, you know. They keep telling us that we’re doing the right thing when, deep down inside, we know that that isn’t true. It can be hard work to battle the ego, and we don’t always win, but it’s a battle that’s worth fighting. Some of you out there are shaking their heads right now: “Well if he hadn’t started it . . .” you’re thinking. Well I’m here now to ask you to please think about doing yourself, and the rest of us, a huge favor: Let him start it. Be the one to end it by letting it wash right over you. Ignore it. Take the high road. Walk the Path of The Bartender.
Comments welcome as always.
Cheers, Gaz Regan”
Guest Blogger:  Checkout more at Biteclub social network for the Industry

December 12, 2009 Posted by | Bars, bartending, beer, bourbon, culture, drinks, drunk, gin, mixology, pub, rum, sacramento, saloon, scotch, tequila, whiskey, whisky | 1 Comment

Never Rush Perfection! How To Pour A Pint of Guinness..

Why don’t people understand that a Guinness needs to be poured in a two stage process? You need to let it settle in order to enjoy the beverage with a good head on it, one that follows you through the entire pint! The Head should leave rings down the side of your pint glass. Don’t argue with me over the bar when we are busy, try arguing with decades of tradition. If you didn’t know, that this is why the bartender puts the pint down for a minute, well then now you know, and I will forgive you. However, if you know this and you just think your right, well then may God have mercy on your soul for messing with something so perfect!
Put down your blackberry, put away the keys to your sports car, and relax. Enjoy life with your friends in a nice environment and stay awhile. Not everything needs to be done in such a rush. Furthermore, no one should ever serve a pitcher of Guinness so don’t ask! If you do pour from a pitcher you loose out on the experience of being able to drink from underneath the foam. This is an art form so kick back and watch perfection happening right in front of you. Stop asking people to rush your pours, if you want a fast beer drink a bottled beer of some sort. If you still don’t want to take my word for watch the movie I posted here.

December 12, 2009 Posted by | Bars, bartending, beer, bourbon, culture, drinks, drunk, gin, mixology, nightlife, pub, rum, sacramento, saloon, scotch, tequila, whiskey, whisky, wine | Leave a comment