My New Favorite Thing: Gose (Rhymes with Rosa…)

Sips, Tuesday Revews-Day

It’s been a while since I’ve done a bevvies post, but that’s about to change: I have a new favorite thing and I just have to share about it!

It all started with a trip to Thomasville’s new watering hole: Hubs and Hops in the old Bacchus location on W Jackson…

Where I and my companion each ordered tasting flights…

Now I’ve become quite the fan of the tasting flights at Sweet Grass Dairy and have been broadening my craft beer horizons over the last several months to very pleasant results. I’ve learned that I’ll love anything that’s a Nitro; that my preferences are still all over the place as I adore both the lighter, fruitier beers as well as the heavier stouts; and that craft beers don’t give me the headache I usually get after a beer or two from the more traditional offerings. Go figure, right?

But there was something on Hubs and Hops’ menu that I was curious about, as were my companions, so we decided to order a pint of the Gose for the table…

The server was a little fuzzy on just what a gose was, so we ended up looking it up: it’s a sour beer of German origin that’s a little lemony and salty. I adored it! (So it was no hardship when my tablemates took a hard pass on it!)

A couple weeks later we were at AJ Moonspin and low and behold they had a gose on tap as well, so I had to give it another go to see if it was the three mini-beers I’d had prior that were confusing my taste buds or not.

Nope! I still loved it! So much so that I went hunting for it at Three Oaks Liquor this weekend to get some for home and–after confusing the first guy at the counter when I asked if they carried it–another guy was super helpful and pointed out the four brands they carried and which one seemed to get the highest marks (Westbrook Brewing Co), though I plan to go back and grab a couple others when I finish these.

Basically, it’s what I thought a Shandy would taste like back when I was introduced to them 4 years ago and ended up disappointed at the overall lack of flavor. (And when I said that to the liquor store gent he was like, oh, you really do like the sour… yup!)

Apparently the sour comes mainly from coriander and the salt–while usually added in the modern brews–goes back to the original brew however many centuries ago in Germany where there was a considerable amount of salt deposits in the ground, and therefore the groundwater was a smidgen on the salty side so the resulting beer was as well. The style died out somewhere between WWI and WWII, was revived mid-centuryish and faded back again, only to be revisted again during the current craft beer trend.

I don’t know how long gose will stay readily available, I can certainly understand that many would not cotton to it, but I’ll be happily consuming it while it lasts! If you like sour and salty, definitely seek some out and give it a go. Let me know what you think, too, I’m always curious!


Cocktail Appreciation

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Cocktail, Anyone?

Cocktail, Anyone?

Well, now that we’ve covered how to avoid and/or compensate for a hangover should we overindulge, let’s get on to the business of appreciating all (okay, some) of what the world of cocktails have to offer.

Of course I understand some people have religious, dietary or other reasons and restrictions as to why they don’t drink alcohol. (If you find yourself in that group, no worries: we’ll cover non-alcoholic libations next week.) But many time I’ve hear folks say: I don’t like the taste of alcohol. And I’d hazard a guess that the majority of them, and maybe you’re one, were just served a bad drink.

If you’re only encounters with a mixed drink or cocktail were at a college party or ladies’ night at a local bar, chances are you didn’t experience the best the world of cocktails has to offer. If you’re only taste of a margarita was from a slushy machine at a dive Mexican joint, chances are there’s some improvement to be had. And if you’ve ever started a night with a Long Island Iced Tea (and remembered nothing else), you could stand to give the bar menu another shot.

Pun unintended.

And let’s talk about shots for a moment: I’ve never been fond of them. Yes, I did an entire series of so-called shots, but my recipes were merely cocktails small in stature but big on flavor. And they were meant to be sipped, not shot. Shots are for getting drunk as quickly as possible, and I’m not really down with that.

Back to the cocktails, though. It’s pretty impossible to distill (okay, I meant that pun) all there is to know about cocktail appreciation into 1000 words or less, but I’m going to break it down to a few important points.

1. Quality

They say you get what you pay for and that often translates to if you want quality, you have to pay for it: a lot. This is not always the case in alcohol (think of how many excellent bottles of wine can be found for $10 or less) but it does, often, pay to go “top shelf” or premium if you really want to enjoy your drink. For instance, if you’ve ever been served a Cosmopolitan made with Triple Sec (a low-cost type of orange liqueur) and didn’t like it? Consider trying one made with Cointreau (a higher-cost and -quality orange liqueur)–the difference will astound you!

Another good example is vodka. A really good vodka might make your mouth tingle a bit but it shouldn’t burn in the back of your throat. A jug of cheap vodka will need a lot of mixer to make the drink smooth, but a good vodka can be sipped and enjoyed for it’s bracing quality (though good vodka also has little to no flavor–on purpose–so sipping an all-vodka martini has always baffled me).

2. Balance

Which brings us to balance, which can be achieved as much in the recipe of a cocktail as in the technique of your bartender. Since, again, my qualification for a good cocktail is one that doesn’t beat me over the head with the alcohol, the cocktails I love as well as the ones I design make use of mixers (non-alcoholic ingredients) to balance the alcohol.  This also makes a cocktail a bit easier to customize for individual drinkers. If it’s all-alcohol, there’s not really much you can do to tone it down, a mixer allows you to add a bit more if it’s going to suit the recipient’s palette.

Where technique comes in is with the mixing. Traditionally, cocktails that are all-alcohol are stirred (yes, think of Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” line), whereas those with mixers included are shaken. There are always exceptions to this rule, of course. Drinks that include carbonated beverages are shaken without the soda, perhaps, or not shaken at all so that the bubbles are still present. And I’ve been known to shake an all-alcohol cocktail because a well-shaken cocktail gets up to 25% of it’s volume from the melted ice, and sometimes that’s all you need. I also include garnishes and rimming glasses with salt, sugar or other items a mark of technique.

3. Flavor

Finally, alcohol is an amazing conveyor of flavor. Don’t believe me? Think about vanilla. Yes, the vanilla that you use in baking. It is actually a very low-proof alcohol that serves to contain and confer the flavor of costly vanilla beans better than any other liquid. You can even make your own vanilla with a few beans and a little brandy, rum or vodka (and a fair amount of time–but the results are amazing).

With all that said, why drink alcohol at all? It’s certainly not a required element of being an adult! But I look at it as the same as people who start their day with coffee, or have soda to pep them up. Alcohol has a similar (if opposite) affect on us and I fully admit to liking that tipsy feeling a good cocktail can impart. The languor from sipping on a nice drink at the end of a long week is just as fabulous as the flushed, convivial atmosphere some spiked punch can add to a party. Can these things be achieved sans-alcohol? Sure, but it’s not near as much fun!

Of course, I must close with the following caveats:

  • Don’t ever let anyone pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do.
  • Drink responsibly
  • Always use a designated driver

50 Shots of America–Hawaii


Pearl Bomber CocktailI suppose, pre-Internet especially but before the media made everyone so altogether global, traveling across country or to a different region could really feel like going someplace different. My own travels leads me to believe that’s not really the case anymore.

Except, perhaps, in Hawaii. (Granted, I’ve never been there myself but I’d be more than willing to undertake a research expedition should someone wish to fund it. Purely scientific discovery, you understand.)

A string of volcanic islands (some still active) and part of the Polynesian Islands, The Aloha State was actually a sovereign nation with a functioning monarchy before we, in our “infinite wisdom” started interfering and changing everything. In 1893 a group of American and European businessmen, calling themselves the “Committee of Safety,” deposed Queen Lili-uokalani, formed a Provisional Government (conveniently containing members of the CoS)  and asked the US to annex them as a territory.

Now the US, for what it’s worth, said ‘uh, no, you really shouldn’t have done that: put it back the way it was.’ The Provisional Government said ‘no, we don’t wanna,’ so the US looks at the matter again (under a new President by now) and basically says, ‘oh, wait, you meant THAT monarchy? Oh, no, you’re totally cool, carry on!’  (Sheesh, this empire building is so confusing!) But it’s cool, you know, because 30 years later we finally apologized for taking over a sovereign nation.

Anyway! After 4 years as an independent republic and 60 years as a territory, Hawaii became our 50th and final (to date) state on August 21, 1959.

Pearl Bomber

3/4 oz Gold Rum
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Banana Liqueur
1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake ’em like a Polynesian dancer’s hip tassels. Strain into a chilled double shot glass (or two singles–pineapple is the fruit of hospitality, after all) and get a tropical feel anytime, anywhere.

Most folks know that on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, totally out of the blue. It’s what convinced the US to become involved in WWII. I knew that, but I didn’t realize Hawaii wasn’t even a state, yet, when all that happened.

The reason why it wasn’t a state was the ruling class–planters and banks–liked being able to take advantage of cheap, imported foreign labor to work the sugar cane, pineapple, coffee and other plantations (being a state would mean an end to that). But, when the local-born children of those immigrants–now US citizens–grew up they rose up and wrested control from the Republican powers that be.

But, hey, enough politics!

Have you ever worked in a place that observed Casual Fridays? Well, you have the Hawaiians to thank for that!

Known as Aloha Friday in Hawaii, it refers to the casual wear known as Aloha shirts (we call them, predictable enough, Hawaiian shirts)–acceptable business and formal wear on the islands! But it wasn’t always that way. In the 60s the garment industry led the change to casual wear as business attire for the summer months with the recommendation that employers relax the business attire (suit and tie) regulations on the last day of the week. It spread to California and eventually became the business casual we know and live for.

So throw on your Hawaiian shirt, kick back with a Pearl Bomber and Bombs Away!


And with that we’ve completed our cocktail tour of the United States! Around the country in 17 months (we took some detours on the way) and what’s next? Well, I do have another series coming up that will start on July 1st. Until then I’ll be wrapping up loose ends on some other projects. But this isn’t the last you’ll hear of our 50 Shots!

Random Appetites: Have a Cuppa!


Let us depart the ethanol-tinged waters I usually tread for a more sedate beverage today: tea.

It’s chilly this week in Florida and that has me reaching for the kettle and my stash of various teas and tisanes. What’s a tisane? Well, only beverages brewed from tea leaves are tea, the herbal beverages that are frequently called teas but contain no tea leaves are technically tisanes. Doesn’t change them, really, it’s just a bit more correct.

My favorite tea is Earl Grey and Twinings is thoughful enough to provide a decaf version that most stores carry, so I can steep myself in Oil of Bergamot (that citrusy note that makes Earl Grey Tea, Earl Grey Tea). I will occasionally take it with a bit of milk and a sugar cube or two (yes, I buy sugar cubes just for drinking tea) but usually I’m good with a healthy dollop of honey for sweetness. (And as much of a geek as I am, it’s not because of Captain Picard, it’s merely a coincidence that my favorite captain prefers my favorite tea.) And for those hot months (which is most of the time, here in Florida) a mix of Earl Grey and Lemonade makes the BEST drink in the World (courtesy of the Earl of Sandwhich in Downtown Disney).

Another frequent tea in my cup is the “Herbal Revive” tisane (also from Twinings) that is essentially ginger and lemon peel with a bit of other flavors thrown in (but no actual tea leaves, hence it’s a tisane despite the fact that the package says “herbal tea”). When combined with honey, the lemon perks up a sore throat and stuffy sinuses and the ginger is good for settling an upset tummy.

Now, those two teas come in bags and I’m generally okay with bagged teas for everyday use: they’re economical and you can sometimes get another cup to half a cup out of a good tea bag by adding more hot water to the cup (referred to as “rebolitto” when talking soups, the reboiling usually gives you a slightly weaker cup of tea so if I’m planning on stretching out that cup I’ll refill once I’ve finished about 2/3 of the first one). Loose teas are generally a step up in quality and I have some of those, too, mostly from

Of course, if you can’t find a blend you prefer on the store shelves, you can make a tisane out of practically anything. Put your ingredients (citrus zest strips, herbs, spices, etc) in a cup and top with water from a tea kettle and let steep for 3-8 minutes. The time depends on how tough it is for the water to work the oils and flavors from the items in your cup. Fresh herbs and zests will take less time than dried flowers of, say, chamomile or lavendar, and those take less time, still, that a bit of cinnamon stick or dried woody herbs like rosemary or thyme. You can use a tea ball or reusable muslin tea bag to steep your teas but it’s really not that tough to drink loose teas–after all, you’re supposed to sip , not gulp.

And for the gardner or hands-on tea drinker I’ve just come across this Indoor Deluxe Herbal Tea Herb Garden that I’m really itching to try. Granted, I have a pair of black thumbs, but maybe something small like this I could actually manage to grow!