Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken turned 68 today.

Here he is with Dennis Hopper (and a young James Gandolfini) in True Romance.  This scene is not even remotely safe for work and might offend some….you are warned.

Personally, if he offered me a Chesterfield…I would run away screaming.


I like Cognac too….and J&D Cigars

Last night I had a bit of an outing with TommyG, a new writer here on S&B.  We decided to get together, sample some cognac and check out the new 9th Street Hookah Lounge.

Since I’m not a big fan of Hookah, I decided to take along a new cigar I received as a sample from J&D Cigars, a Perfecto from their Temptations Line.

J&D Cigars is a new cigar company and these are not yet on the market.  I believe the price point is $7 a cigar and the tobacco used is Nicaraguan.

The cigar itself was fairly green when I got them in, so I had been letting this one sit in my Humidor for a few weeks.  So I was glad to finally have an excuse to break it out.

The wrapper was clean and showed no veins.  In fact, it was a little heavier leaf than I would have expected.  It looks like it would hold up well.

The initial draw was a little hard, and I attribute this to the freshness of tobacco.  Definitely could use a little more time in the humidor.  Once lit however, it was easy to maintain and burned evenly with the ash holding together very well.

The taste was great, with upfront flavors of leather and spice (nutmeg).  Hints of toasted nut and honey rounded out cigar and the it held throughout the stick. 

A very robust and well rounded cigar that I would highly recommend to any of my friends.  A little heavy perhaps for beginners, but one that I would not be ashamed to pass out.  I give 4 out of 5 stars, and that score could go up with a little aging. It paired perfectly with the sweetness of the cognac we were drinking and I believe it would also go well with a good Irish Whiskey, like Red Breast.

Stay tuned for other reviews on this brand, as both Tom and Rex have samples to write about as well.

Now, on to the cognac.

Sometimes called “The Healing Drink”, the Water of Life or even the Elixir of Nature, cognac is a unique drink named after the town of Cognac France.  Although variety of Brandy, to bear the name of Cognac, the liquor must meet some strict requirements.  It must be made from certain grapes (Ugni Blanc is the most common), be double distilled in copper pot stills and finally, aged in oak barrels (specifically from Limousin or Troncais) for at least two years.

The most famous brands are Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell and Remy Martin.  Also Gran Marnier is made with cognac and distilled essence of bitter orange.

One of the confusing things about cognac is the rating system, so I thought I would throw in some definitions before we get started.  These are basics, there are many more out there.

  • VS -Stands for Very Special. VS cognac is stored for at least two years.

  • VSOP -Stands for Very Special Old Pale. VSOP cognacs are stored for at least four years.

  • XO -Stands for Extra Old. The cognac in this category is stored for at least six years but usually the average is around twenty years.

  • Napoleon -BNIC states that this is equal to the XO quality, meaning it is aged for at least six years.

cognacLast night we sampled the Courvoisier VS, the youngest expression of the Courvoisier line. We did not do cocktails, we stuck with the drink being served neat.

  • Color- Golden
  • Nose- Sweet and Fruity with hints of Vanilla.
  • Taste- Very Rich, the flavor of vanilla comes through well (not overpowering) along with apricots and peaches. There was also oakyness that I would normally associate to bourbon.

Overall- I can definitely see this as a dessert drink due to the sweetness.  After a full meal, sitting back with snifter and cigar would be perfect.  While I wouldn’t drink it every day, I wouldn’t cry is someone served it to me either.  Solid 4 Star.

Finally, a word about the Hookah Lounge.  I really enjoyed my time there.  The place was neat and clean, and the staff wasn’t overbearing.  They were welcoming and not put off that I brought in my own cigars and didn’t partake in the Hookah experience.  As one of the last bastions that you can smoke in CoMO, I found it very refreshing and would recommend it to anyone.  Great job folks.


Well who knew: I like cognac.

From our Man on the Street- TommyG

I am a big fan of bourbon and scotch, but cognac and brandy has always escaped me.  Oddly enough, cognac was the subject of my first real foray into alcohol.  I was 17 years old and on a flight to Moscow for a high school exchange trip.  One of my classmates bought a bottle of cognac from the in flight duty free shop and several of us split it on the plane.  Being young and inexperienced, all I knew was that it burned like hell and left me feeling a little queasy.  That, and having a hangover in Finland while you are waiting for the next leg of your flight was pretty weird stuff.

Throughout the next 13 years of my life I would occasionally try brandy in various forms.  It would always leave me feeling unimpressed and queasy.  People would always serve it to me at room temperature or slightly warm- and I just found it too strong, too aromatic, and too unsettling to the stomach.  I always drink my whiskey on the rocks though, so to be fair I do have the same complaint about whiskey when it is served neat.  I just find it too harsh to be enjoyable.  With a little ice the flavors are smoothed out, mellowed, relaxed.  It no longer feels like my mouth is being raped.  Many people insist that neat is the only way to drink their whiskey and if that is how they like it, then more power to them.  It’s not my thing and it basically has the same effect on my body as drinking ipecac. 


Now brandy is known for pairing well with cigars.  I like cigars, so it only goes to follow that I should like brandy.  Transitive law of mathematics, right?  Further, if single malt scotch is the king of whiskeys, then cognac is the king of brandies.  So rather than trying to drink swill brandy I decided to jump in head first and buy some cognac.  I was either going to learn to love it or continue to hate it.  I decided to start with a bottle of Courvoisier, the so-called “cognac of Napoleon” (hey, if it’s good enough for Boney, it’s good enough for me right?)  Last night I was to meet some friends at 9th Street Hookah Lounge in Columbia, MO and they have a BYOB policy.  So it was time for dueling experiments, 1) If brandy pairs well with cigars, does cognac pair well with hookahs?  And 2) can I find a way to drink brandy without making me violently ill.

During my research into brandy and cognac, I found that served neat into a tulip shaped glass is considered the norm.  People often then cradle the glass to slightly warm the drink with their body heat.  This activates the flavors and aroma of the brandy and gives the drinker a fuller hit of its aromatic goodness.  Yeah, no way in hell I’m doing that.  I did further reading and found that often this makes the brandy unpalatable to some, and that many people prefer to drink it cooler (like around 60 degrees.)  That was more my style.  I even read that Asians often serve their brandy on the rocks, but I decided to refrain from doing that.  So as a compromise move I put my bottle of Courvoisier in my fridge to chill it down cold.  I figured by the time I took the chilled bottle out, drove the hookah lounge, and spent a few hours smoking and sipping the temperature of the cognac would run the gamut from cold to cool to room temperature and I could experience the full range of flavors.


Now before I go any further, I want to give a shout out to the 9th Street Hookah Lounge.  I have been to the lounge a handful of times, and it always a very pleasant experience.  The place is cozy and fairly quiet.  It has a very intimate atmosphere and it is a great place to connect with some of your friends over your choice of flavored shishas.  Total for hookah rental varies, depending on how many people you have.  But its about $17 for two people and $5 per each additional smoker.  A session will last you about an hour and half of delightfully flavored smoke and stimulating conversation.  Customer service has always been excellent every time I visit.  If you are in the mood for something different in Columbia, I cannot recommend this place enough!  Seriously, go there and try it.


I decided to try the melon flavored tobacco that night, as it has always been my favorite shisha flavor ever since college.  Sadly, it seems like I am the only person who likes the flavor as  I got the last little bit they had on hand and it sounds like they are not restocking.  But there are dozens of other excellent flavors to choose from, so I am certain that next time I go I will find something else to pique my interest.  The smoke from the hookah was sweet without being overpowering.  This is nothing like the harsh chemical taste that you get from smoking a low grade product like Swisher Sweets; it was more nuanced, and the flavor and the mouth feel felt more real, less synthetic, with rich earthy organic overtones yet still managing to maintain an ephemeral quality that makes inhaling the smoke seem smooth and completely natural.  And an even more interesting point- all these qualities were also found in the cognac.

I poured the cognac into heavy rocks glasses.  I know that you are supposed to use tulip shaped tumblers of fine thin glass; the tulip shape allows you to swirl the cognac around and let some of the aromatic esters dissolve, and the thin glass allows the heat transfer from your hands to slightly warm the drink.  However, as I was bringing the tumblers out of my home bar and into public, I needed something that was transportable and not easily breakable.  Also as a whiskey man most of my drinkware is in the form of short, stout, glass tumblers.  My favorite ones have a nice heft to them and have little geometric designs etched into them.  Classic.  Solid.  Heavy.  When you are drinking out of these, you FEEL it. The tactile feeling of holding onto a substantial tumbler is important to me when drinking whiskey.  I have a few fluted crystal whiskey tumblers, and it’s nice for doing some sipping every now and then… but I really need heavy straight-sided glass in my hand to feel right.

So after pouring the cognac, I leaned in and took a heavy sniff.  Immediately I knew that it wasn’t whiskey.  The smell was more complex, and in a way more organic than I am used to.  While it smelled sweet like bourbon, it also smelled nothing like it at all.  It had almost a fruity character to it, but not overpoweringly so.  Its color was intriguing, almost like old polished leather or really old, really well kept wooden furniture.  And like antique furniture just by gazing into a glass of cognac you can feel the weight of history pressing back at you.  That night I was drinking Courvoisier, the so called “Champagne of Napoleon.”  That in itself is a dubious distinction, as the company was founded in 1835, and Napoleon of course died in 1821.  But the legend goes that in 1811 Napoleon himself visited a warehouse that the Courvoisier family was using to store their cognac and found that he was awfully fond of their product.  Several kegs of the spirit were supposedly taken to St Helena during his final exile, and it was the Brits who declared the drink the “Cognac of Napoleon.”  Truth or fiction, the moniker stuck and Courvoisier is running with it.  And truth or fiction, I don’t care; as I sip the chilled cognac I felt that I was sharing a drink with the Corsican tyrant himself.  Just as drinking bourbon evokes feelings of the American South and the rugged individualism that goes with it; just as drinking single malt scotch evokes images of sitting in a smoky, wood paneled tavern, toasting old friends and regaling new friends with ribald tales; cognac to me evokes a sense of continental style, class and charm.  If James Bond drank scotch (okay, I know that vodka martinis were his drink, but he also seems to be the type that would enjoy a good single malt), Indiana Jones would be a bourbon man-- And Horatio Hornblower would drink cognac.  If bourbon is a hunting rifle and scotch is ceremonial dirk, then cognac is a pair of black powder dueling pistols.  And a set of pistols that has certainly been used to send a man to its grave as that.


How could Napoleon’s favorite cognac come out a decade after his death?  Easy, he was a time traveler.

The inevitable sick feeling that I always get when I drink brandy did not make an appearance that evening.  Like the shisha, the cognac was both smooth and complex, earthy and ephemeral, substantive and easy to drink.  It was a contradiction, it was elegant, it was in essence everything French. I learned two things that night, one is that cognac does indeed pair as excellently with a hookah as it does with a fine cigar.  But more importantly I learned that I can enjoy a cognac as much as any other liquor; and that a whole new world of fine spirits has been opened to me. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Own a piece of History

Red Auerbach’s championship rings and a team-signed cigar humidor are among the personal memorabilia of the late Boston Celtics Hall of Fame coach to be auctioned online.

Red Auerbach's Humidor

Auerbach’s National Basketball Association title rings from 1957, 1962, 1974, 1976 and 1981 will be auctioned by SCP Auctions from April 15 to 30, the auction house said in a news release.

Known for often having a cigar in his mouth and lighting one up on the bench when victory was assured, Auerbach’s presentational humidor from the 1954-55 season, engraved with team signatures, is also up for auction, as is a 1950 Bob Cousy game-worn rookie jersey that belonged to Auerbach.

Auerbach, who died on Oct. 28, 2006, at age 89, coached the Celtics to nine NBA championships, in 1957 and from 1959 to 1966. He later became the team’s president and general manager. The first coach to win 1,000 games, Auerbach was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969.

Better living through Science…..maybe


I am not 100% sold on this one.  I’ve tasted some really cheap vodka in the past and I cannot imagine that this would have any positive impact.  However, I would love to be a test subject on this study.

The article is after the jump, but in the meantime- Here is a Classic Bloody Mary Recipe (Visit for more recipes)

The Classic Bloody Mary
  • 1 quart tomato juice
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
  • lime slices
  • celery stalks (optional)


Cheap vodka is key

For revellers regretting the previous night’s excesses, the Bloody Mary is the definitive lunchtime hangover cure.

Combining vodka, tomato and spices, the 90-year-old concoction remains one of the world’s most popular cocktails.

Now scientists believe they have cracked the secret of the perfect Bloody Mary.

The trick, they say, is to use cheap vodka and quality tomato juice, and to serve it on ice.

And drink it within 30 minutes to prevent the mix of chemicals that provide the refreshing kick from breaking down.

US scientist, Dr Neil Da Costa, said the perfect Bloody Mary should contain high-quality tomato juice, cheap vodka, fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, horseradish, black pepper and celery salt. The intense, spicy flavour masks the vodka, so it made little sense using expensive brands, he added. - Daily Mail

This is just so wrong….wrong, wrong and wrong

I’ve never understood the desire to do the “Vodka Eyeballing” to get drunk “Faster”.  I think it is just stupid on so many levels, not to mention the fact you can go blind.  Most kids are such light weights that one or two shots have them soused anyway….so why waste it into the eye.

Now we have a potential new trend.  I am just going to put the article out there and let you say ewwwww on your own.  If it was the 1st, I would say it is an April Fools Joke…..please please be a joke.

Police in southern Germany warned this week of a dangerous new form of alcohol abuse among teens – using tampons soaked in vodka to get drunk quickly and hide the smell. The practice poses grave health risks, they said.


Police in the Baden-Württemburg city of Tuttlingen responded Tuesday to growing online chatter among teenagers that they could become intoxicated using the vodka tampons without having alcohol on their breath.
This is not true, police said, denying that it was an effective way to get drunk. They also warned girls that the alcohol could damage vaginal walls and increase the risk of infection. Boys have reportedly also been using tampons anally.
“I believe this is very dangerous,” head of a children’s clinic in Singen told southern German paper Südkurier last week. “For us this is a new thing.”
In early March a 14-year-old girl collapsed during a street festival in Konstanz, apparently highly intoxicated from using a vodka tampon, the paper reported.
Youth researchers have since found out that this form of alcohol abuse is trendy in the region.
But teens who believe they can hide the smell of alcohol consumption are wrong, experts told the paper.
The development shows a new dimension for alcohol abuse among teens, county social worker Axel Goßner told the Südkurier.
“Alcohol is no longer a stimulant, but a means to an end,” he said.
The trend arose among teens in the United States, where it is known as “slimming.” But it has reportedly caught on in Scandinavia and other places where alcohol is difficult for young people to acquire.
Some Facebook groups are even devoted to exchanging tips on the topic, complete with how-to videos and instructions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Drunk Driving and the Violent Femmes

You know, there are several ways you can get more beer if you are to drunk to drive.

You can call a friend (to bring more beer), call a cab (to take you there) or brew your own so you don’t have to leave in the first place.  What you do NOT want to do is put your 14 year old son behind the wheel to take you.  Wrong Wrong Wrong. 

After the story is a video of a song I cant get out of my head since I read the story…..enjoy.


Cops: Drunk mom arrested with teen behind wheel

Read more:

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Authorities say a Las Cruces woman has been arrested after allegedly getting drunk and having her teenage son drive her to a store for more beer.

Dona Ana County Sheriff's officials say a deputy spotted a car driving in the area of Del Rey Boulevard and Thorpe Road early Friday with its headlights off. Behind the wheel was a 14-year-old boy.

Authorities say 39-year-old Ofelia Lopez told a sheriff's DWI officer that she drank four beers at home and her son was taking her to a store to buy more. They say Lopez failed a number of field sobriety tests.

The Las Cruces Sun-News says Lopez could face charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, allowing an unauthorized driver and negligent child abuse.

The teenage driver wasn't cited.

Monday, March 28, 2011

You can keep your Angels’ Share, I want my Devil’s Cut

Thanks to the great folks at Voda Magazine for tweeting.

devils_cut_bottle_shot-e1301357128437After the long discussion today on whether Jack Daniel’s was or wasn’t bourbon….we flip over to Jim Beam (which IS a bourbon) and the latest news from their distillers.

I the world of distillation/wine making there is an expression called the “Angels’ Share”

“Angels' share" is a term for the portion (share) of a wine or distilled spirit's volume that is lost to evaporation during aging in oak barrels. The barrels are typically French or American oak. In low humidity conditions, the loss to evaporation may be primarily water. However, in higher humidities, more alcohol than water will evaporate, therefore reducing the alcoholic strength of the product. In humid climates, this loss of ethanol is associated with the growth of a darkly colored fungus, Baudoinia compniacensis, on the exterior surfaces of buildings, trees and other vegetation, and anything else that happens to be nearby.

Well….add another phrase to the lexicon….this time “The Devil’s Cut”. 

Somehow, the masters at Beam have figured a way to extract the liquor absorbed into wood of the casks and have added that back into the bourbon.

I have no idea how this is going to taste, but I can tell you the Marketing Department will be going full bore on this.  Not only a great, eye catching Name….but it adds a level of uniqueness to the product that will get people to try it at least once.  And sometimes once is all it takes.

Alby… and I are going on a fishing trip with a bottle of the Devil’s Cut…are you ready?

Jack Daniel’s–To Bourbon or Not to Bourbon

I was called out by Blane for incorrectly stating that Jack Daniel’s was a Bourbon in this Blog Post.

I know better…..but I decided what a good blog post, plus…what is the real scoop.

If you were to ask the Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller, he would say -

Jack Daniel's is dripped slowly - drop-by-drop - through ten feet of firmly packed charcoal (made from hard sugar maple) before going into new charred oak barrels for aging. This special process gives Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey its rare smoothness. It's this extra step - charcoal mellowing - that makes Jack Daniel's a Tennessee Whiskey.

Interestingly, even though it is considered a Tennessee whiskey, that is not actually a legal definition. It is a bourbon in every respect with the addition of filtering through sugar maple charcoal.

Southern Ham says:

For a whiskey to qualify as bourbon, the law--by international agreement--stipulates that it must be made in the USA. It must be made from at least 51% and no more than 79% Indian corn, and aged for at least two years. (Most bourbon is aged for four years or more.)

Jack Daniel's and George Dickel of Tennessee are both 80% corn (their Barley and Rye percentages differ)  and it is difficult to find what percentage of Indian Corn they use.  So they COULD Qualify.

Many point to the fact that since Jack is filtered through Charcoal, that is the main disqualifier, yet again there is some ambiguity on the subject….especially when you read the letter of the law-

Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Part 5 Labeling and Advertising of Distilled Spirits § 5.22   The standards of identity

Which put the following definitions -

(b) Class 2; whisky. “Whisky” is an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky, stored in oak containers (except that corn whisky need not be so stored), and bottled at not less than 80° proof, and also includes mixtures of such distillates for which no specific standards of identity are prescribed.

(1)(i) “Bourbon whisky”, “rye whisky”, “wheat whisky”, “malt whisky”, or “rye malt whisky” is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.

As you can see, there is no exclusion to Charcoal Filtering, nor the aforementioned Indian Corn or the fact that it was not from Bourbon County.  Also, there is no legal  definition of Tennessee Whisky.

So….this re-raises the questions- Is Jack Daniel’s a Bourbon?  Legally, Yes.  According to the Distillery, No.  To me….it’s all Whiskey.

Bonus Shout out to my 33 Brothers-

This Day in History- March 28 1930

This has absolutely nothing to do with Drinking or Smoking, except maybe me doing a lot of both late at night watching MTV 120 Minutes.

Anyway, to commemorate this day in history 1930, when Constantinople becomes Istanbul, here is “They Might be Giants”

They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.

Jack Daniels and Honey

I have mixed feelings about this.

First, I think Jack Daniels puts out a fairly good product.  A little over priced, but if the market bears it….power to the people.  I don’t think they are the premium bourbon out there, and I only stock it if someone is wanting is specifically.  It’s not that I hate it, I just think there are some better small batch bourbons that I would rather introduce people to.

I also like Honey.  A few of you know, my father was a beekeeper and I grew up around the stuff.  In fact, some some of my earliest memories are of Hot Toddys….so it is ingrained in me.

I even think there are two great Honey & Liquor products out there right now

Wild Turkey Honey Liquor & BÄRENJÄGER Honey Liqueur (and no Glenn….you are not allowed to bring any over). 

Both of these fine products fill the niche in the market well, so I don’t see a need for the Jack Daniels distillery to dabble in this area unless they are trying to muscle out the smaller distilleries.  I hate when business gets cutthroat like this and just wish everyone could get along.

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Jack Daniel’s has added honey whiskey to its product line.

According to a news release from the company, it’s a mingling of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and a proprietary honey liqueur.

The company said Tennessee Honey will be available across the country by summer. The suggested retail price is $22 for a 750-milliliter bottle.

The honey whiskey, listed as 70 proof, can be chilled straight or served in drinks with mixers like lemonade, tea or ginger ale.

It is being produced and bottled at the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg

Quote of the Day

The Perfect Quote for a Monday Morning-

All right, brain, I don't like you and you don't like me - so let's just do this and I'll get back to killing you with beer. --Homer Simpson

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Only in America

Ok, I normally don’t post many articles on Marijuana smoking on the blog.  It’s not that I don’t believe it should be legalized (I do), it’s just that it doesn’t fit my lifestyle and I usually only back what I know.

What I do know is that is a ridiculous miscarriage of justice.

Meet County Attorney Kit Bramblett and Judge Becky Dean-Walker of West Texas.

They are willing to waive possession charges against Willie Nelson if he pleads guilty, pays a fine AND sings “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in court.

Seriously?  If it wasn’t the 27th, I swear this was an April Fools Joke.

Not only is she forcing him to appear on a misdemeanor charge (which is normally handled via a mail-in pleading), but she wants a private concert because “She wants to meet Willie”.  This sounds like the judge meting out punishment to her personal gain.  This is one of those cases that should get her reprimanded (although I think dismissed from the bench) and Kit should be disbarred.  There is no justice, just “the Man” shaking someone down because they are famous.


10 essentials for setting up a Home Bar


The Chicago Tribune ran an article today on How to Start a home bar.

Custom_banner_1296344812If you are looking for equipment, is running a great contest that gives away all of the bar items listed below.  Check them out on Facebook and you could win.

As for the article, let me save you the jump and list the 10 things, along with my recommendations -

1. Mixing glass. Literally, a glass dedicated to mixing liquid ingredients, with room for ice. A simple pint glass works best.  <Ed Note- You can cheat here and use the bottom of your Boston Shaker.  How important can it be if a simple pint glass can substitute? >
2. Boston shaker. It looks suspiciously like a milkshake tin. But when sealed over a pint glass, it allows you to shake with confidence drinks that require it. No need to purchase some fancy three-part strained shaker. The Boston is good enough for nearly every barkeep in the history of barkeeps, which means it's good enough for you. <Ed Note- Probably the most important non-alcohol item on here.  A MUST, especially if you are a Martini man (or woman)>
3. Jigger, or measured shot glass. The majority of drink recipes call out ingredients in ounces, so you'll need something that can hold 'em. <Ed Note- Good to have, but once you get some practice, you can eyeball it>
4. Long spoon, for stirring. It'll prove useful for stirring ingredients in your mixing glass; standard flatware spoons are too short. <Ed Note- Never used one.  Useless in this Dojo if you have to pay for it>
5. Strainer. The Hawthorn strainer is what you'll want to start with, as it's the easiest to handle, and works for all basic drinks. Plus, it'll only set you back a few dollars. <Ed Note- Good to have and I would suggest picking one up.  Most bartender kits contain them>
6. London dry gin. Especially if you're not a connoisseur, brands such as Tanqueray and Beefeater are both palatable for drinking straight, mix well, and are affordable. –  <Ed Note  Quality Gin tromps affordability any day of the week. I would go with Bombay Sapphire or Hendrix.>
7. Bourbon whiskey. There are hundreds of whiskeys (and whiskys) to explore when you're ready. For now, start with a popular, affordable bourbon, such as Evan Williams. <Ed Note- Buffalo Trace would be my choice for both Pricepoint and Name Drop.  Bulliet is superior and also not that much more expensive….plus the bottle looks cool behind the bar>
8. Gold rum. A nice middle ground between light and dark rums, gold (or amber) rum is universally loved. Try Flor de Cana, for starters. <Ed Note- First big Name Drop by the Trib, as a good bottle of Flor de Cana can run you up to $35.  For a dark spiced rum, I would go with  Blackheart and for a light, you can’t go wrong with Bacardi.>
9. Unflavored vodka. If you must, though this drinker thinks it's a waste of space. Vodka is essentially a grain-neutral spirit (straight alcohol), which is why it's virtually tasteless, and less expensive than other spirits. For unflavored vodka, Tito's is a bartender favorite. <Ed Note- I love that writer is putting prejudice in here….”If you must?”.  Vodka is a staple in most mixed drinks, so to me…this is a requirement in a basic bar setup.  While I agree with Tito’s, I think another choice is the little known Boru Vodka.  Cheap and tasty.>  
10. Mixers. Soda water, tonic water and fruit juices won't go to waste in your refrigerator. But consider stocking ginger beer, too — it does wonders with all of the above. <Ed Note- Ginger Beer?  Are you serious?  Lame Lame Lame.  Number 10 should be a good stock tequila.  Cuervo is fine, but consider the extra $$$ well spent on Patron or Cabo. Better yet, wait a few months and with Diosa is you are afraid of just straight tequila.>

Quote of the Day

A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her. --W.C. Fields

Government to Censor Twitter?

Ok, maybe the post subject is a little extreme, but read this article and see if you could see it happening.

Currently, four Senators (Lautenberg, Reid, Schumer and Udail) do not approve of Apps on the iPhone or the Android that warn drivers that they are approaching sobriety checkpoints. Rather than make it illegal to use such apps, politicians try to strong arm Google and Apple to remove them instead.

The reason they do this is that politicians know there would be little or know way to enforce and also realize the constitutionality of that type of  law in the first place.  Lastly, where would it end?  What would say that they couldn’t edit/censor Facebook postings or Twitter #’s that accomplish the same thing? 

If I were Apple or Google, I would tell them to go pound sand and worry about more important things in the US, like the high levels of unemployment in their states, the number of illegals or the rampant drug use.

US senators target 'drink driving apps'

United States senators have cried foul over applications for smart phones that they say enable people to drive drunk with less chance of getting caught.
Senators Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Harry Reid of Nevada, Charles Schumer of New York and Tom Udail of New Mexico, all Democrats, signed a letter sent to Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google, RiM's James Balsille and Scott Forstall, Apple executive in charge of software for iPhone.

"Giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern," the letter from the senators states. They have asked the firms to remove the apps from stores, saying they present a real threat to public safety.

The apps apparently allow users to alert each other to the locations of police stops. The letter does not name the apps specifically, but claim they have as many as 10 million users and offer databases of police checkpoints updated in real-time.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, around 10,000 people are killed each year in accidents that involve drunk drivers.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It sure isn’t Marlboro Mass.

Tonight I was surfing the web and decided to go out to Marlboro’s site to see if they had a Twitter account or Facebook page (it’s a lot easier this way to find the official sites).  I do this quite often, checking to see what is news in various industry circles and to see if new product is on the market.  I will also add, I am a smoking advocate (just look at the name of the site…duh) and I believe that everyone has the right to choose to smoke or not.  I personally do not subscribe to smoking additions though.

Anyway, I get to the site ( expecting the typical age verification.  Instead, it gives you two options-


Welcome Back.  SIGN IN

Hey, I was new to the site, so I clicked Register….and now things get weird.

I am then prompted to put in my DOB, and two optional pieces of information- a 9 digit Customer Number and/or a Promotional Code.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Since I didn’t have either, I decided to put in my standard Date of Birth- July 4, 1776.  I do this because I honestly think it is not the company’s rite to collect my personal information for marketing purposes, nor do I support or back the anti-smoking and/or drinking lobby out there that gets funding from the Gov and the various industries.  Besides, if kids really want to look at this….they can put in a fake date too.

What starts to get interesting is by putting in that date, I get the following message (BTW, I love the ALL CAPS)-


While used to this, I have a plethora of fake dates to use, I think it is funny they are so specific on when the dates end.  Since they cannot validate a Birthdate before 1900 – I guess Besse Cooperand Walter Breuning are  is SOL going to their site

The Worlds oldest person is currently 114-year-old Besse Cooper, who was born on Aug. 26, 1896, and lives in Georgia, the Gerontology Research Group said.
Walter Breuning, of Montana, also 114, now becomes the world's second-oldest person. He was born Sept. 21, 1896.

So, in goes another fake date (Jan 1, 1900) and I am off to Page 2.

This is getting interesting….usually fake date gets me in the door…but not at


For disclosure, I did put in a fake address (again, I have no idea at what point they start saving my real data) but have now started using my real birthdate.  But why are they collecting so much information?

I also noticed I was only on step 2 of 7 to just get access to their site.  WTF?  Notice also that that is at 75% of my screen (this is important later) as I couldn’t get it all on for a screenshot.

At this point, I had to know what was so secret – so onward ever onward.

At Page 3, I knew I was never going to get this completed as they ask-

  • Name and Current Mailing Address
  • Phone Number
  • Name and Current Address on DL or Government Issued ID
  • Have you lived at another address in the last 10 Years
  • Last four digits of your SSN
  • Please Check your Tobacco Usage
  • For a “Binding” Electronic Signature – of which your are attesting (this is only a snippet)
    • I certify that I am a smoker 21 years of age or older, and that I would like to view and receive communications from Philip Morris USA and its affiliates about their tobacco brands and tobacco-related issues. I further certify that Philip Morris USA may use my information as described in the Privacy Statement.

Are you kidding me?  By giving that information, I basically have given them every bit of verification information to get access to my bank account (aside from Mother’s maiden name, which isnt that hard to get….just go to  To prove I wasn’t joking, here is the screen grab of page 3.  Keep in mind, I had to shrink the resolution down to 25% to get it all in.


When you go to the FAQ linked at the bottom, to get clarity on why they need all this information, you learn

“We Send Tobacco Brand Communications only to tobacco consumers 21 years of age or older.”

I’m not asking to be sent anything….I just wanted to browse a website.  I get easier access to and (there you go…my secret is out).  To think you have to go through all those steps, give up so much personal info (that the swear they would never distribute) and sign  (electronically)  affidavit just boggles my mind.  It’s no wonder I smoke cigars.

Has anyone out there ever seen such a complicated age verification process?  Would someone from Marlboro like to go on the record for why they need all this information?  What are the next steps of 4-7?  What is the holy grail behind that final step?  Crap, I feel like I am going through my Masonic Initiation all over again.


I wonder if they smoke Marlboro Reds?

APTOPIX India Holi

A British National Treasure passing into the night…….


A 400-year-old off-license in Hampshire is closing due to financial pressure and concerns over plans for a new supermarket.

Bakers Wine Merchants

Bakers Wine Merchants in Bishops Waltham will make five members of staff redundant when it shuts later.

The shop has sold alcohol since 1617 and was owned by two families for 244 years.

The off-licence said it was one in a series of closures partly due to fears of a proposed Sainsbury's development.

The store's five-year lease came up for renewal at the end of March.

Managing director Colin Baker felt he could not commit "with Sainsbury's looming".

He also said there was a lack of customers in the village and "the overheads are just too high".

"We had to look at the potential to break even and it just wasn't there", he added.

Shops in Bishops Waltham remain concerned about the impact that the planned Sainsbury's could have on their businesses.

The Liberal Democrat-led Winchester City Council is set to decide on the plans at a meeting on 7 April.

Sainsbury's said as part of the development it would help finance a £1.6m relocation of the village's surgery to the site and create more than 300 jobs for the area.

The chain also said the store would "address an identified lack of main food shopping choice in Bishops Waltham" and help attract more shoppers to the village.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Snoop in the news bout sum Booze

Brought to my attention via Booze News-

Snoop Dogg Accused of Glorifying Underage Drinking

I love these kind of stories.  They are right up there with Mothers who send their children off to war.  The vast majority drinking this (or to go with my example, who are joining the Military) stuff is technically an adult, but not of drinking age. 

In the article, not only do you have crazy quotes such as-

According to Livingston, Snoop's affiliation with the brand is directly related to the injuries reported by numerous college students between of the ages of 17 and 19. The institute reported that over 2 million youth illegally drink alcohol in the state of California, costing the state $7.3 billion a year.

But you have an assertion that the majority of college kids are 17 (when in fact, most are at least 18) and made up statistics that it costs the state of California $7.3 Billion……please.  Let me pull a rabbit out of my ass as well.

Also, I love the word Alcopop….not since Bob Davie butchered the English language on ESPN with Trickeration have I heard a more stupid word.

What I don’t understand is, with liquors on the market such as Everclear (my favorite to mix with Kool-Aide), how can they go after these malt liquor beverages….while at the same time leaving the better tasting stuff such as Mike’s Hard Lemonade or any of the Jack Daniels products off the docket. 

I really hate to pull the race card, but it seems they are targeting the hip-hop market…and that is just wrong.  Not just on the Free market area, but let the consumers decide what they want.  We’ve already proven how effective the federal government can be with the war on drugs.

How about making the drinking age 18 (Old enough for the Military, old enough to drink) and then target enforcement of sales (without trying to entrap Liquor Stores with false IDs).

What’s next, a ban on Candy Cigarettes?  Oh wait….they’ve tried/are doing that, even though I have my highly scientific study right HERE that shows they don’t inspire kids to smoke.

Good Luck Snoop….I might not drink Colt 45 Blast, but I support you 100% in the right to promote it.  Now how about some Gin and Juice?


Give that man a cigar

We here at S&B love the Gurkha range of cigars.  So much so, it has been talked about brand on the blog (HERE HERE & HERE), so it was great to see their namesake in the news today.  For those who do not know, Gurkha Cigar takes its name from the fierce Nepalese fighters of the British Empire.

I don’t know who needs to make it happen….but someone at Gurkha Cigars needs to send Sgt Pun a box.  He deserves it.


Gurkha who repelled Taliban attack gets bravery medal

A Gurkha who single-handedly fought off an attack by at least a dozen Taliban insurgents has been awarded Britain's second highest medal for bravery.

Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun used up all of his ammunition and resorted to using his machine gun tripod to repel the attack in Afghanistan in September.

The Gurkha, 31, of Ashford, Kent, said he was a "lucky guy" and very proud to get the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.

A total of 136 UK servicemen and women are being honoured, four posthumously.

On the roof

Acting Sgt Pun was on sentry duty at a checkpoint near Babaji, in Afghanistan's Helmand province, on 17 September last year when he spotted insurgents trying to plant a bomb beside the front gate.

Moments later, militants opened fire on the compound from all sides.

For more than a quarter of an hour, alone on the roof, Acting Sgt Pun fought off an onslaught from rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.

In total, he fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine.

At one point, when an insurgent tried to climb up to his position, his rifle failed and he resorted to throwing his machine gun tripod to knock him down.

Acting Sgt Pun, who is originally from the Nepalese village of Bima, believed at the time that there were more than 30 attackers.

Local villagers later told him the figure was more likely to have been 12 to 15.

Recalling the incident, he said: "As soon as it was confirmed [they were] Taliban, I was really scared. But as soon as I opened fire that was gone - [I thought] 'Before they kill me I have to kill some.'

"I thought they were going to kill me after a couple of minutes, definitely."

The citation on his medal - which is only one level below the Victoria Cross - states that he saved the lives of three comrades who were inside the checkpoint at the time.

"I think I am a very lucky guy, a survivor," he added. "Now I am getting this award, it is very great and I am very happy."

Online Whiskey Training from Balvenie


Here at S&B, we like Balvenie Whisky.  It’s been one of my favorite scotches for some time, and greatly reinforced by a scotch tasting we attended back in 2009 (HERE) .  It’s good stuff.

Now they appear to be entering the “Educate the Populace” market with their new “Whisky Academy”. 

The Academy is a series of educational movies touching on subjects currently cover the areas of the history of single malt, production, the “nitty-gritty” and tasting and nosing techniques,  with a hope of more content to come out in the future.

Before you laugh this off as just another commercial for the Balvenie line, you should read the Dr. Whisky Blog where he states -

“What I am most proud of is that The Whisky Academy is not a “brand” video, it is not an advertisement, it is an educational series of films about the wider category of Scotch Whisky featuring Charles MacLean, Sukhinder Singh, Eddie Ludlow, Arthur Motley, and Gavin D. Smith as well as colleagues, distillers, scientists, and, of course, yours truly”.

Here is also the gag reel that is found there -

There is no certification at the end (sadly) and this is at your own pace.  The true focus is to educate everyone so that they can properly enjoy a dram and maybe introduce to their friends.  I think it is an ambitious project and I encourage everyone to head over to Warehouse24 (on the Balvenie site) and give it a go.  What’s the worst that can happen?  You’ll be inspired to have a drink?  There are worse things in the world.

Cheers -

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Somewhere over the Rainbow………

Quote of the day

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. --Ernest Hemingway

Mark your calendar Missouri is getting a Beer Festival

Talk about huge news.  Tom Bradley from The Eagle 93.9FM’s morning show “Wake Up Columbia” has teamed with Missouri Life Magazine to bring Columbia Missouri something that it has long needed….a Beer Festival.

Showcasing Micro Breweries, Brew Pubs, National Brands and even a few local craft brews, this sounds like a lot of fun. 

Join the fun on May 7th at the Stoney Creek Inn in CoMO from 1-5PM.  Who knows, maybe Smokes and Booze will have a hospitality suite for the blog readers.  Stay Tuned.


PS- I have started a Hashtag on Twitter #MBF2011 so add it to your tweets.

The Good old days

Not those, no…not those either, not even those.  The good ol days I’m thinking about were when I worked in Indy.

I got to thinking about them this morning after I posted THIS story about drinking at work.  I then opened FB and saw a post from Jared and thought “What the hell”, lets tell a story.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY back in 2001 (man, was it really 10 years ago), I worked for a “Progressive” software startup.  This was the type of company during the .com boom that would allow us to drink at work, wear what we want and basically run the roost.

Every year, they would organize trips to Carb Day of the Indianapolis 500 during work.  To say that it was a drunk fest was an understatement.

So this particular year, Good Ed (I was Evil Ed), Jared and I went down loaded for bear.  You see, we also had an “In” with one of the security staff who volunteered at the 500, a gentleman named Larry who also worked with us in Tech Support.  So when we showed up, Larry got us past the bag checkers….which allowed us to bring in anything we wanted.

Needless to say, the pictures below (taken in order) explain the rest of the story. 





Needless to say, this last picture is not how you want your day to end, and it wasn’t even my fault.

The woman in the picture is Laura Steele from Q95.  We went back a few days later for the race and were roaming around  behind the scenes hoping to run into Steve Tyler (who gave a horrible rendition of the National Anthem) and I ran into her again….to this day I can still hear her say “Hey….It’s the Jack Daniels Guy”.   Ahhhhhh…..the Good ol Days.  It almost makes me want to talk about this picture as well -

Drinking at work….Good or Bad?

Ok, this is something I have a little experience with.  I used to work for a Software Company in Indy (some of you readers will remember this) back around ‘01.  This company was a lot of fun to work for, and I think everyone believed that the Tech Support group was completely insane.  Everything from my inflatable couch, nerf rockets and Otis the Buzzard was unlike most companies.  I bet the BBQ Sauces stains are still on the ceiling. 

Anyway, this company had great ways to motivate people- Free Soda, Doughnuts on Fridays and Periodically we would have beer brought in on Payday.  Drinking was so much a part of the culture that we would go to the Fox and Hound in Indy all the time and have a 2-3 beer lunch and play pool.  Life was good. 

So I commend these companies for throwing off the perceived  mantle that drinking at work is bad.  It’s not illegal and everyone there is adult.  If you are getting your work done, performing at a high level and giving your all to a company…..then knock yourself out.

And to the people saying “Sexual Harassment” will increase due to increased workplace drinking…..get a life.  Who makes up your statistics anyway?

What is your opinion?  Post in the comments section.


Booze Makes Comeback in Workplace Booze Makes Comeback at Work as Silicon Valley Taps IPad-Linked Kegerators

At Yelp Inc.’s San Francisco headquarters, a keg refrigerator provides a never-ending supply of beer to employees, letting them drink as much as they like.

They just have to be comfortable with full disclosure: Workers badge in to an iPad application attached to the keg that records every ounce they drink.

“If you’re at the top of the leader board consistently, I don’t know if that’s a place that you’d want to be,” said Eric Singley, director of Yelp consumer and mobile products. “Luckily, that hasn’t really even been an issue.”

In a contemporary version of “Mad Men” and its bibulous ad executives, more dot-coms are embracing the idea of drinking at work. That means keeping bars stocked at all hours, installing kegerators and letting programmers tip back a few while they code. It also raises questions about the effect of alcohol on productivity and the safety of employees.

“Alcohol is sort of a slippery slope, because obviously you’d think it might impair their performance,” said Dalton Conley, social sciences dean and professor at New York University. “Many people can work after one beer, but I doubt many people can do serious knowledge work very productively after four or five.”

While office parties and Friday-night beer busts are nothing new, the all-hours nature of startups means more employees blend their nightlife with work time. Drinking is an extension of that, said Joe Beninato, chief executive officer of Tello Inc., an app developer in Palo Alto, California.

‘We’re All Adults’
“When you’re working at a startup, you’re working 24-7 and it takes over your life,” he said. “It’s not like it’s a wild fraternity party or something like that -- we’re all adults.”

When Tello’s iPhone app for rating customer service made it into Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s online store in February, the five-person company decided to celebrate. No matter that it was before noon.

“We got out the whiskey, and everybody had a shot,” Beninato said.

Workers have a similar outlook at CrowdFlower, said Lukas Biewald, CEO of the San Francisco-based employment company.

“We do have a fridge full of beer, people do work late and drink out of it,” Biewald said. “When we first started, our office was like our home -- we had leftovers in the fridge --and I think it’s an extension of that.”

Banker Visit
It’s typical to see employees with a beer on a Friday afternoon, when the company lets workers demonstrate new projects, he said. CrowdFlower also occasionally gets kegs for gatherings it hosts for its community of developers and users.

“We had a customer from a bank come, around 11 a.m., and I was really embarrassed by the fact that we had a keg up,” Biewald said. “But he actually poured himself a drink.”

Twitter Inc., also based in San Francisco, has wine and beer in its fridge, along with nonalcoholic drinks.

“We treat employees as adults, and they act accordingly,” said Jodi Olson, a spokeswoman for the company.

Even so, the age-old problems of workplace drinking haven’t disappeared, said Robert Sutton, a professor in Stanford University’s management science and engineering department. Some employees can’t drink in moderation or control themselves after imbibing, he said.

“I’ve been involved in workplaces that can be pretty dysfunctional, where people will start drinking a little too much at lunch,” Sutton said. “There’s like a bazillion studies that show when people drink, their performance is impaired, and there’s problems with absenteeism.”

Sexual Harassment
Another danger: Women are at greater risk of sexual harassment at offices where heavy drinking is the norm, according to a 2004 Cornell University study. The report, sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, found harassment incidents increased more than twofold for each additional alcoholic beverage consumed by male co-workers.

The long hours may be what sets technology workers apart from the boozing executives on “Mad Men,” a show set in the 1960s, said New York University’s Conley.

“The folks drank a lot more alcohol back then and had three-martini lunches, but they weren’t staying until midnight finishing projects,” he said.

At Yelp, an online reviews site, the keg is meant as an after-hours activity, said Singley, who has worked for the startup more than three years.

“That’s when it gets the most use,” he said. Still, the definition of a workday can depend on the employee.

“Engineers in particular are night owls,” he said. “A little ramen noodles at 9 p.m., and then after that, winding down your day, you might stop by the keg. People work here really late.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Smokes and Booze is growing

I want to take a minute to welcome my good friend TommyG to Smokes and Booze.  Tommy and I have known each other for a long time, and he has a love for our subject matter almost as big as mine.

Tommy is now “On Staff” here at S&B as a Blogger, Contributor and Staff Photographer.  He brings a great sense of humor and another perspective that I think will hopefully inspire and entertain us all.

Welcome Aboard.

Below is his first contribution -


I know that Ed is hard at work trying to get Charlie Sheen to be the official spokesperson for; but I think that a better choice for our spokesman would be Ron Swanson of the reality show Parks and Recreation. He is the head of the titular Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana. Mr. Swanson is a right thinking American; he is a libertarian, meat-loving, whiskey-swilling, cigar-smoking, gun-loving, red-blooded mustachioed man. He is also quite the amateur carpenter and works a steady job. In short, he is nearly everything that we at strive to be in our everyday life. He here is, describing his ideal meal: "I call this turf 'n' turf. It's a 16-ounce T-bone and a 24-ounce porterhouse. Also, whisky and a cigar. I am going to consume all of this at once because I am a free American."

Don’t those words just echo true.

Ron Swanson.jpg

I would like to think that we all have a little Ron Swanson in us and you can feel it swelling up every time you pour whiskey into your favorite rocks glass; as you cut and light a cigar; as you take your first bite of bacon and first sip of coffee in the morning; as you cut into that last piece of steak on your plate; or you take apart and clean your guns for no other reason than to feel it’s cool metal caress and to inhale the sweet perfume of oil and cordite. For all these reasons I feel that Ron Swanson is the man that most exemplifies the standard of manhood that we hold sacred at You can be certain that the next time I raise my glass it will be in his honor.

Be sure to watch Ron hard at work on NBC Parks and Recreation on Thursday nights.

Thomas "Tommy Gee" Gabel Contributor

Whiskey or Water (now the Video)

This came up in a rather odd discussion today (thanks Sammi) and I revisited an old Blog Post from over a year ago (found HERE).  It made me wonder if there was a video out there….and sure enough here it is.

I love this song so much- I am giving a repost. 

Cheers to VK and check out her site -


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sink Responsibly

Cannons thought to be Capt. Morgan's

Texas, March 21 (UPI) -- U.S. archaeologists say they've recovered cannons from a shipwreck thought to be the flagship of English pirate-for-hire Capt. Henry Morgan.

Morgan led a raid in 1761 on what is now Panama City, then the richest prize in Spain's colonial empire, leading thousands of men and a heavily-armed naval fleet.

However, Texas State University underwater archaeology Professor Frederick Hanselmann says, whatever Morgan possessed in military strategy skills he lacked in navigation ability -- crashing his flagship, the Satisfaction, into a reef on Panama's coast, causing it and three of four other ships to sink, The Austin (Texas) American -Statesman reported Sunday.

The ships were lost and forgotten for centuries, until last year, when Hanselmann and fellow archaeologists discovered the cannons that might have belonged to Morgan's fleet. If confirmed as belonging to the fleet, they will be the first direct evidence of the presence of Morgan or his men in the area.

The guns are undergoing restoration in Panama, where they will eventually be displayed in a museum.

And the winner IS………………………

A few weeks ago, our friends at Thompson Cigar Co. ran a contest on Facebook asking – “What would you purchase with your $20 Gift Card?”

The most “Liked” response would be win said Gift Card.

As many of you know, I am not greedy…so I said-

“I would pass the Gift Card to one of my Blog Readers so they could reap the benefits as well”

With 18 “Likes”, I was the run-away winner… today, I had James draw a name out of the hat….and our winner was


A BIG congratulations to Tori, and a special Thank You to Thompson Cigars.  Without them, we would not get a chance to run a contest like this….so visit their site and support our sponsors.


Thompson Cigar

PBR Mustache

Via Rex – a S&B Reader and Missouri Brew Tour Member

Who DOESN’T Need a PBR Mustache?  Exactly…..Order them HERE

From the Site (and yes, I know it is all Caps)


PBR Pabst Blue RIBBON mustache necklace

Lesson #1527–Don’t take beer to DWI Court

Ok, I can see a contempt of court charge (being 1.5 hours late) and public intox….but to be held without bail is kinda strange.  I thought you were only held like that if they thought you were a flight risk.  So, other than having a set of balls the size of Idaho, his current crime is pissing off a judge.

Oh Well……readers take note -

Man Brings Beer to DWI Court Appearance

A 49-year-old man is in Sullivan County Jail without bail after authorities say he showed up for a court hearing on a felony DWI charge drunk and carrying an open can of Busch beer, plus four more cans in a bag.

The Middletown Times Herald-Record reports that Keith Gruber of Swan Lake was an hour and a half late for his court appearance Monday before Sullivan County Judge Frank LaBuda, who asked him if he enjoyed his "liquid lunch."

Gruber said he did, then said he was sorry.

LaBuda sent him to jail with no bail.

"It was obvious he was intoxicated," LaBuda said.

Gruber, who has prior DWI convictions, was arrested on Dec. 27 in the town of Liberty and was out on $30,000 cash bail.

Bourbon Cheat Sheet

In response to twitter thread with, they sent me the link to a “Bourbon Cheat Sheet”.

It can be found HERE, and (while not complete) is starting to be quite comprehensive, especially for those of you who are new to bourbon and are drinking it solely based on price.

For the record, my current bourbon of choice is Bulleit

Hopefully, continues to update this and the list grows to some of the more obscure.


Missouri Brew Tour–Native Stone Winery/Bull Rock Brewery


This past Sunday, some of the Smokes and Booze crew and I descended upon Native Stone Winery and Bull Rock Brewery as part of our Missouri Brew Tour.

There apparently was some lost communications between myself and Michele at Native Stone, so this was an “unannounced” visit.  I have since had communication with her, and she was kind enough to provide comments and insight to everything we raised.  I would also add that we had a great time and enjoyed the trip, which might not be reflected as well by the overall score.  So keep in mind, that one of the things that brought the score down was the lack of beer…..which Michele points out below as being addressed.  I guess this calls for a revisit later in the spring Smile.

You can view more pictures at the Smokes and Booze Flicker account (HERE)

From the website-

The restaurant and microbrewery are operated by Michele & Chris Barrows.  The Winery is owned by Cara and Larry Stauffer and was started in 2000.  They still tend to the vineyards and make all of the wine.  (Cara and Chris are brother and sister!)

In 1804, Lewis and Clark explored the riverside of Native Stone, where they found a large rock formation worth noting in their journals. That rock formation is “Bull Rock”.We named our microbrewery Bull Rock Brewery in honor of Lewis & Clark’s discovery.  Native Stone will be offering tours of Bull Rock to the public, for the Lewis & Clark bicentennial.

Getting there-

<Ed>Located just north of Jefferson City off of Highway 50 West to Highway 179, I thought this would be an interesting site in my own back yard.

The drive from Ashland was really nice on this first day of spring.  The Sun was shining and the wind kept the temps mild.

Debi’s GPS worked well (I had a map as a fallback), but it did have the location as being .5 Mile off of the actual site.  So be warned.

Sign  Also, the sign is rather weathered (you can tell that the Bull Rock Brewery was added much later) and very unassuming.  Blink and you miss it.

Driving up the gravel lane lead us to find an old quaint farmhouse, which is not what we were expecting.  If there wasn’t a car we recognized parked there, we would have continued to the warehouse you can barely make out in the distance that advertises “Native Stone Winery”.

awningFrom the parking lot, the trellis does advertise that business, although better signage would help alleviate confusion.

I found it funny that TommyG noticed the same thing I did in the parking lot, empty Natural Light cans, and even included a picture with his submissions.  We were showing up well after opening…so a little attention to detail and cleanup would have been appreciated>

Inside, you walk through a small gift shop and past the “Tasting Area” to get to the dining room.  It did appear that there are several patios outside (we chose inside due to the wind).

From the dining area, there is a nice view overlooking part of the vineyard, but it is not as breathtaking as Les Bourgeois or Summit Lake Wineries.

<TommyG> Located 9 miles outside of Jefferson City, I had no trouble at all finding the winery based on the directions from the website.  It was a gorgeous day, the first really warm and sunny of the year.  It was a perfect day for a road trip, and Native Stone Winery was only 45 minutes from Columbia and about 15 minutes from downtown Jefferson City.  It the perfect distance for a Sunday afternoon getaway, and the drive was perfectly scenic with a great view of central Missouri’s rolling hills and farmland.

Pulling up to the winery we were a little thrown off as it looked more someone’s house than a place of business.  Beer CanThe parking lot was tiny (and more of a gravel “suggestion” of a lot) and there was a couple of Natural Light cans scattered about.  Now that is a bad sign for a supposed micro-brewery that it serves canned “Natties.”  So we all manned up and walked up the front walkway to the farmhouse and found that inside was a really charming and intimate restaurant/bar/wine tasting gallery and gift shop and that the back side of the farmhouse was expanded seating and several spacious patios.

<Native Stone> Yes, the sign is old and weathered.  I have actually been working on replacing the signs and of course, nothing goes without a hitch!  Firstly, the screws used to attach the sign were not the correct ones, so they are rusted and not easily removed.  I have been scraping paint and preparing the wood for it's new facelift.  "Bull Rock Brewery" on the sign looks like it was added later because that is the first part I have been able to repaint.  I can already hear your question...just replace it...I'm trying.  Unfortunately, when the new section of Hwy 170 went it, they took a large chunk of land and we currently have a 105 foot road easement.  Since I took over in July, I have been trying to by back a section of land to move the sign and make it more noticeable.  However, I'm working with the City of Jefferson and I am at their mercy.  The sign up by the winery is also in the process of a make over, which is why is says Native Stone Vineyards, inc. and ....but there is nothing after the and.  Give me one more week and I should be done with that!

Empty beer cans in the parking just can't fix stupid.  I do not know if it was there when the staff arrived or if the nice stiff wind blew it our way, but I often find an array of empty cans an bottles...and we don't even serve that brand of beer!


<Ed>  The inside reminded me of a Bed & Breakfast or perhaps some of the German Gasthauses I have visited.  The décor is nice, and I particularly enjoyed eating off of china than standard restaurant fare.  The view was ok, and probably would have been better if it were later in the year and more green….perhaps we will go back and go walking next time.  I can see the allure, so I give it a score of 3.5


<TommyG> This is where the place wins, I thought that the restaurant was very pleasant with plenty of natural lighting.  You had views of rolling Missouri farmland and vineyard while you eat, and the wait staff (err, one waitress for the entire place) was polite and attentive despite having to cover all the tables herself.  Apparently this place gets rather crowded in the late spring and summer, but on this delightfully sunny mid-March Sunday afternoon it was rather dead.  I give the ambiance a hearty 4/5.

<Native Stone> Breathtaking view?  Certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion...but I love it.  Yes, Native Stone deserves another trip from you in the spring.  It's simply amazing.  I've already decided that WHEN I win the lottery, I will be building a house on that land, not somewhere where I can sit outside and listen to Highway 54 traffic.  In addition, we have an amazing hike that takes you to the Missouri River and a view to die for.  Along the way, you can enjoy the views of our 12 acres of grapes!

Parking lot is just a parking lot, that's true.  However, there is another large parking lot in the rear of the building.  The "Barn" you refered to is actually where all of the wine is made.  We produce approximately 7500 gallons of wine per year, so yes, you would be correct in saying that we are more of a winery than a microbrewery.

The Food-

<Ed> I believe the group as a whole found the food adequate. I got the impression that it was hit and miss.  Rex had the breakfast buffet and when asked how it was…he shrugged and said “It’s Breakfast”.  Debi had one of the Pizzas and  I personally had the Portabella Quesada which I found quite delicious.  Solid 3 for me.

<TommyG> The menu was a pretty basic winery/Americana mix.  The appetizer menu had such offerings as a cheese and antipasto basket, nachos, artichoke dip, and other such light fare.  We went for the artichoke dip and it was pleasantly light for a cheese based dip.  The rest of the menu offered a small selection of pizzas, burgers, and a small steak menu.  We went with the pizzas.  Their chicken and artichoke pizza was pretty good, it had a sprinkling of feta cheese and even some surprise almond slivers.  I would give the food a solid 3/5Pizza

<Native Stone> As for the food, we try to have something for, burgers, seafood, pasta, quesadillas, wraps, steaks, salads and appetizers.  And I am VERY proud to say that it is all made from scratch, including the salad dressings.  I can't tell you how many patrons ask me when we are going to sell our pizzas "Papa Murphy" style.  (Lemme get all of the signs re-done and maybe I can work on that!)

The Beer -

Our first disappointment of the day was finding out that they only had one beer on tap- The Extra Pale Ale (not listed on their website).  We later learned that the establishment had gone through a transition from the original owners to their sister-in-law.  It appears that there was an attempt to stay open through the winter, and (while this was never openly stated) they were trying to keep their overhead down while still maintaining cashflow.  Therefore, the brewery was running on light staffing (more on that in a minute).

Therefore, our initial decision was made for us…..we all tried the only beer they had.


  • Appearance – A weak head and a low amount of carbonation.  Very little bubble movement within the glass as well.  The color was a little darker than I would have expected, coming in at a SRM 16.  Given the “Extra” Pale Ale moniker, I thought it should have been lighter.  If anything, I would call it an American Pale Ale instead.  I did notice a weak head and a low amount of carbonation.  Very little bubble movement within the glass as well.
  • Nose - Hoppy, yet not overly so, as would be expected again with APA. 
  • Taste- Overall taste wasn’t as full of hops as the nose.  Rather mild, but refreshing with some robust malts creating an excellent mouth feel and ending with citrus aftertaste.
  • Score 2.5


OK, for full disclosure I am sick with the flu; so everything I eat or drink tastes a little like a disgusting combination of phlegm and Ricola.  So my palate may be a bit contaminated.  That being said: The Extra Pale Ale beer that the brewery had on tap was a little bland for my taste.  It has a very light hop character and its malt component was pretty much nonexistent.  There was nothing unpleasant about the beer, and if I were in a more charitable mood I would call it “well balanced” or touts its inherent “drinkability.”  As it was though, I am unimpressed.  My score: 2.5/5

<Native Stone> As for the microbrewery...our brewer's name is Kevin Wren.  Have a conversation with him and you'll learn a me!  After reading your blog, I asked him about the rice hulls.  Lemme tell you that I was not prepared for his answer and could not type fast enough!  I did, however, give him the blog info and he said he would be happy to explain it to you.  I too, am disappointed in our lack of brews on tap.   Unfortunately, my employees family lives are more important than my beer production.  Kevin has been having some issues and I told him the beer can wait, and it can.  He should be returning to us within two weeks at the most.

The Wine-

Hoping to cut our loses in only having one beer to try, we decided to give the wines a sample.


Native Stone has a unique sampling plan.  They currently offer 6 different wines that are locally produced and three that imported from other wineries.  You may sample three for free and for an additional $3, you can sample the other three as well.  For $6, you can sample all wines. 

<Ed> I think we all agree, the wine tasting was OK, but definitely not worth the money.  IMO, this is a huge missed marketing opportunity.  $3 for a sip (barely the bottom of the glass) didn’t inspire me to purchase any of the wines.  The only wine we purchased was the one Debi had with Lunch.  I would suggest dropping the price and letting customers really experience the range and return to ones they like to confirm their purchases.

<TommyG> So we were willing to overlook the lack of beer on tap since the place did sell itself more as a winery than a micro brewery.  But their wine tasting was not well executed.  They offered 3 samples for free, then an additional 3 samples for $3 (which covers all the wines they produce on site) and then for $5 you can sample everything they carry (they had about 1 or 2 other wines as well).  This pricing plan sounds excellent, but unfortunately the samples were very very sparing.  We were poured only a sip of each variety.  I am more used to wine tastings in which you are given a quarter to a third of a glass to sip on, so that you can really make up your mind about the wine and so that your good senses are deadened and you are put into a more charitable mood with your wallet.  But as it was I just left feeling a little ripped off for my $3.  If I poured all six tastings in to one wineglass, I probably would have only had about half a glass total.

<Note> There were a few scorecards for the wines and have included them at the end of this post.  We are currently awaiting feedback on two people, and it will be updated once that is in.

<Native Stone> The wine...well now you are talking MY language!  I apologize that you feel you were ripped off of your $3.  I will happily return that to you on your next visit, which I'm sure will be very soon!  Without writing a short book, I cannot tell you all about the wines!  I can summarize by saying that they are award winning year after year.  Our Norton Port wins a medal every year.  I had a customer in last week and he told me that we have the best port in Missouri, which is why he drives 3 hours to us and stocks up.  I find that if you like Port, you love ours.  Most people either love Port or hate it, regardless of whether or not it is ours.  Estate Bottled Norton is my favorite, but they are all great..IMO.

As for the wine tasting fees, I will tell you my honest feelings about the situation.  Until recently, there was never a charge for wine tastings.  Let me share with you a few of my experiences during wine tastings.  After asking what type of wine a customer likes, (I can pretty much narrow down what you will choose to three...hence the three complimentary samples), most people say, "sweet"...followed by, "I HATE dry wines", but sure enough, they wanted to try them all because they were FREE!  They'd take a sip, wrinkle their noses, and dump the rest out.  AHHH!  Alcohol abuse!  I've had people taste wines three and four times, groups of ten at a time tasting and leaving once their cards are stamped, others reach behind the counter and pour themselves several more samples, and ultimately choose what I figured they would...but hey...they're free!  That's just a few good ones I can share. 

I also spent a week in upstate NY at wineries all around the Finger Lakes region.  Not one of them offered a single free sample.  They did not even give us crackers to cleanse our pallets, we had to purchase them!  But that didn't bother us one bit.  We had a great time, met fun new people and tasted some interesting wines!

In addition, we could certainly absorb the cost of tastings by charging more.  One local winery charges $9.50 for a glass of Norton and $26.00 for the bottle.  We charge $6.50/$22.00.  I personally would rather pay once and figure out what I like rather than pay for everyone who comes through the door to sample, but that's just me.

The Brewery

Finally, we got an opportunity to see the “Brewery”.  The brew master was not present, so one of the staff members let us in and attempted to answer questions. 

 brewery 1brewery 2brewery 3SAM_0325

<Ed> WOW- Much smaller operation than I would have expected.  We did learn from our guide that during the summer, he had been told that they run 4-5 Beers at a time.  This again highlights the disappointment in only having one available at this time.  The brew master appears to make rounds and was due in shortly (thus the empty kegs).  The guide said he hadn’t been there a full season yet, and he had only seen the brew master a few times.

In addition, an interesting tidbit was that the brewery setup was repurposed dairy equipment.  I don’t know if that is good or bad…it appears to work, but I personally feel that having the proper equipment is essential to an optimized and serious operation.  I would also love to know why they had Rice Hulls in stock.  I THINK it is to keep glue-y grains like oats and wheat from becoming an impenetrable clump.  But I have never seen another brewer use it.  If that is the case, this would have been a great discussion to have.

<TommyG> In one of the pictures above, that is all the supplies they had for their next beer run. They definitely are a small time maker. That is all the grain and malt they had in storage.

Overall –

<Ed> I liked the ambiance and feel of the Restaurant.  Food was good.  But, at this time, I cannot see myself returning just for the wine or beer.  Nothing overly wowed me….but I would probably give it a second chance later in the year.

Improved signage would help in taking the establishment seriously and I think management should look into their tasting practices.  This should not be a revenue stream in any other way than empowering tasters to make the right choice. 

The Website is desperately in need of a makeover.  I went through several attempts to contact the Winery/Brewery prior to visiting and at no point did I get a reply.  After arriving, this makes sense as it appears there has been a change in management, even though that is counter to what is on the site.  I doubt anyone is even checking the associated email.

Finally, if they want to be a great brewery…hire a fulltime Brew Master.

<TommyG> If you live in Mid Missouri (anywhere around Jefferson City or Columbia) it is certainly more than worth the trip out to visit Native Stone Winery.  Bring a host of friends and savor the short drive, sit outside and split a bottle of wine and some appetizers and just enjoy the afternoon.  As the food and beer and wine itself was merely okay I don’t think that I will be back soon as there are plenty of other local wineries to try.  But if you are looking for something do on a lazy afternoon it certainly gets my endorsement. 

<Native Stone> Hey Ed...I've been working hard on that website and have had a TON of compliments, but then again, I guess you didn't see the last one!  (It was BAAAD!)

We are in our slow season and have not needed more than one server on a Sunday since fall.  Didn't you say you were the only car there? 

It has nothing to do with paying overhead.  (Waitresses don't get much of an hourly wage.)  No beer has absolutely nothing to do with overhead.  We will be having a staff meeting to make sure the issues you had are resolved, and next time, you will get a larger taste, I promise.

Yahoo emails are supposed to be forwarded to my personal account and I do get several every day.  I don't know what happened to yours, but I do check email. 

Although I'm sure I've missed some issues I need to address, let me summarize this all with how I see Native Stone...

Just far enough out of town without being too far.  So much charm and history, a diamond in the rough, quiet when she needs to be and fun and loud when it's time, adventures all around, beautiful views and breath taking sunsets, and my dream waiting to come true.  I believe in her and work many days until I can't keep my eyes open, but the next day, she waits for me with a whole another list of chores.  She teaches me, my husband and four children patience, hard work, the value of elbow grease and so much more! 

Score Card (on a 5 Scale).

Bull Rock Scorecard

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