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Random ramblings of a parisian wanker. 

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SplasH

Oookk, back in France, with a magnificient bartender certificate stating that yes, I can mix stuff in a shaker, in a good way.

 

Sooo... Time to set up a bar. What to buy ? Where ? How much of it ? Good questions.

 

Starting with material stuff, what you'll need is a shaker, of course, a bar spoon, a muddler and a strainer. That will get you started on the cocktails side. Of course, if you're a wine enthusiast, a wine opener or multi tool will be needed.

I'm guessing you just went on amazon and looked for all these, realizing that there's a shitload of different kind of everything. Yeah... Let's be more precise.

Your safe bet for the shaker would be the two part boston shaker, tin or glass is fine, the glass one allows you to see what you're doing, the tin one gets cold a bit faster and will need less shaking to chill the drink. I personally like the glass one as it's not that cold on your hand when shaking plus the glass part can double as a mixing cup.

 

This is what I'm talking about :

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It will hold about a pint of beverage, making it good enough even if you're doing two martini at once or one big ass margarita. 

 

Next is the bar spoon. It's a long metal spoon looking like this : 

 

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Some of them have a muddler at the top end, some doesn't, both are fine. You're going to use it to stir cocktails when shaking is not needed because your friends want to play James Bond. Also, I found that a bar spoon holds just enough vermouth for a nice dry martini, so it doubles up as a practical measuring tool.

Then, the muddler :

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No. It's not a recycled sex toy. This is used to muddle mint leaves or limes for mojito like cocktails. Some of them are made of wood, other from metal, I would recommend the metal one as it's easier to clean and less likely to hold juice and oils from whatever you're muddling.

Last but not least, the strainer:

cocktail-strainer-4-prong-stainless-stee

This is what you're looking for. It will retain the ice in the shaker while you're straining the delicious cocktail into the glass.

 

And that's pretty much it. You're all ready to go tackle the most important question : What do we put in the shaker ?

There's practically no end on a liqueur list at any shop, Creme de Menthe, Creme de cacao, schnapps made from every possible fruit, herbs, etc... So... what's essential ? Easy answer : what you drink. You love tequila ? Why would you buy scotch ? So as far as liquors are needed, you can go for the 6 basic bottles : Bourbon, Scotch, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Vodka. This will cover the basics. Remember you'll get about 15 shots of alcohol out of every bottle, you already able to make close to a hundred drinks out of those. That should cover at least next Saturday, right ?  Next ? The liqueurs. Triple sec is a basic, used in margaritas, cosmos, you can't pass on this one. Same goes for the vermouth. At least one dry vermouth for martinis, the sweet vermouth is a bit out of fashion but hey, I won't judge your drink.

Other widely used bottles, expecially in shooters are peach schnapps and peppermint schnapps. Those will make any cocktail reaaalllyy tasty. To complete those, Kalhua and Bailey's. Kalhua and Bailey's are the founding fathers of shooters. Blow job(KB + Crown royal), Mud slide (KB + Vodka), Orgasm(KB+Amaretto), Screaming Orgasm(KB+Amaretto+Vodka), B-52(KB+Grand Marnier), Rattlesnake(KB+peppermint schnapps)... Just add any ingredient to Kalhua and Bailey's and you'll get a good shooter.

On top of those, you'll need some mixes.

Sweet and sour mix : (Lemon juice+Lime juice) + simple syrup. Used in Collins drinks, Margaritas ... If you're hosting a margarita night, you'll get about 10 drinks out of a liter of mix.

Pina colada mix : Half pineapple juice, half coconut cream. Used in Pina Coladas (duh...), Chi Chis, Mounds, and pretty much every variation you can imagine. Also very good as a virgin drink.

Juices and sodas : Stock up some 7up, coke, tonic water, soda, cranberry juice, orange juice, pineapple juice.

With just those, you'll be able to make a lot of different drinks, improvise, and it won't cost you much. After covering this basic set you can add to it, mixing it with different kind of base liquors, different schnapps flavors, etc. There's no limit.

 

Quick recap : Buy what you drink. No need to stock up on bottles you'll use only twice a year.  Variety will come with time.

 

We now have a shaker full of what should be a good cocktail, nice alcohol, good liqueur, fresh mix... Where do we put it ? In the right glass of course. Getting a nice glass for the drink will go a loooooonngggg way on the presentation side. 

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Here are two margaritas in a tropical glass. I know margaritas should be served in shells, but come on. Those glasses costed me 1$ each. Looks like something you would pay 12$ for huh ? Imagine the same thing in a college party red cup ? Bleh. Bottom line is, spend a bit on glassware. Not much is needed to add a lot of effect to your cocktails. 6 tropical glasses (like the one in the picture) 6 highball glass, 6 collins glass, 6 shooters glass, 6 beverage glasses and 6 martini glasses will set you back maybe 30-40$, but will pay off in effect on the very first round you'll use them.

Final recap : We have our six basic liquors, some liqueurs, a shaker, mixes and some nice glasses. Time to send invites for a cocktail party :) Ho and if you're looking for a place to buy everything, check out : http://www.barproducts.com/ . I'm not affiliated in any way, but you can get everything you need from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SplasH

It's all about the Spirit

This post is dedicated to Stephanie, who taught me that whatever you wanted to be doing, you'd better start by actually doing it.

So... Bit more than two weeks on that month off... Time for a quick summary.

I got to name a drink in a cocktail bar in Little Rock, Arkansas. Meaning you can walk in the 109 (109 Main St, Little Rock, AR 72201) and order a Parisian. "Naming a drink on the menu of a bar" totally was on my bucket list so I'm pretty psyched about it. Next step, having a drink named after me.

Also my margarita making skills clearly went up a notch.

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Blue margarita straight up on the left (1 shot Tequila, 1/2 shot blue Curacao, fill up with sour mix, flash blend and strain into a champagne shell)

So far so good on my month off except I'd like to be a bit more advanced on my app development, but I guess Rome wasn't built in a day. That's what I'm going to talk about right now, with a question I had a lot of times. "Hey I have this idea for an app... How can I get it done?" Pretty much everybody, especially since an app can mean a few millions/billions $ if sold to the right company (don't dream yet) had a moment like "It would be so cool if we had an app doing this this and that and made millions out of it". Ok. Now you have an idea. So what makes a difference between an app nobody use and one that get you those millions ?

Well, an idea is worth nothing. Litterraly. I could spend a whole day giving you ideas for apps, websites, whatever. Of course the first part of actually making money is having something to sell, but over an idea, you need a spirit, the "what it does" isn't at all as important as the "How you do it". An example ? Yes sir. Take Tinder. There's a billion dating apps/websites and ways to meet people. Why did this one stuck ? Because it was different. They had a special way of selecting a profile that you liked (amongst other things) that appealed to people, people started using it, snowball effect, and there's litterally billions of people. Boom, here you go. Now go back in time and invent Tinder.

My point here is that the idea of Tinder wasn't new. It's a dating app. What is different is not the what, it's the how. It's all about the spirit (now you get the title) in which things are done and not what kind of things are done. In the same way, Larry Page and Sergei Brin when they made Google, they weren't like "Oh... There's already Yahoo... Nevermind. Let's move to another idea" No. They went and made a different Yahoo.

So you have an idea for an app. Cool. Worth nothing. You have an idea of how things should be done ? [PotentialMillions of [potential] <insert currency here>.

So here's mine: A gym, workout of the day app. There's already a lot of them. You should know be wondering what's my way of seeing things ? What's make it different ? Right. First point : Mine will be made to use on a smartwatch. Yup there's also a lot of them already.

The Apple Watch even have one built in. Obviously, I won't be competing with Apple right on with a chance. So I'm going to target the pebble (www.getpebble.com) watch. Talk about a road less traveled huh ? Why the Pebble ? first, because that's the one I use and if you're not the first user of your app, who will that be ?

Second, I don't want my phone near me when working out. I'm talking pushing old scholl dumbells on a bench, doing squats in a rack, those kind of things, as far as I know, are pretty hard to log automatically and if some fit bands and sensor seems to get close to it, it's still not how I see it. Up to today, I'm using the bodybuilding.com bodyspace app and/or the Fitocracy app. The bodybuilding.com app is very good, the fitocracy one also but less complete, but none of them are really 100% what I want, mainly because they're on my phone, phone that I don't want to have around at the gym.

So, here's the pitch of my app :

It's a gym logging app for your watch. You walk in to the gym, push the middle button, your workout for the day is loaded and the first exercise displayed. Do it. Validate with middle button again, enter the reps/weight you just did/use with top/bottom button, validate, second exercise is shown, repeat til your workout is done. Pat yourself on the back, go home, watch syncs with your phone, your workout is saved. No fuss, straight to the point. We'll add fuss later. Like boasting about your workout on facebook, achievments, that kind of stuff. Personaly do I care about them ? Nope. Why would I want them ? Because I want to extend the pool of users for my app, making it social.

First, I wanted to be able to use my app wherever I was. Ok more like at whichever gym I am. That's the mobile part of an app. Then I started drifting about how it could be social. The last component of the holy trinity that makes or break an app or business model is the local part. Locating users next to me and challenging them, negociating discount with local gyms, drawing new customers to them, etc. But that's the last part, a.k.a "Actually getting money out of the thing you just made".

So here we are. Pretty solid idea of what we want to do, fuzzy ideas about how it needs to evolve from "Useful for me" into "That sh*t paid my villa on the coast and filled my swimming pool with Victoria's secret's models". This is pretty much the point most people get to after two beers "BRO THAT APP IDEA IS GENIUS ! LET'S USE THIS PITCH AS A PICKUP LINE WITH THOSE TWO CHICKS OVER THERE" (true story). After the hangover's gone it'll be time to get all technical on this idea's ass and actually get sh*t done.

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"Hi ma'am, can I take a second of your time and ask your advice on this app I'm working on ? Soooo it's a gym app and..."

SplasH

This post is dedicated to Mary-Ann, the best flight attendant I ever met.

 

“-Have a nice flight sir.”

 

She smiled as she handed me the plane tickets, from Paris to Little Rock, Arkansas. Before hearing these words I wasn't really realizing that I was on holidays. It’s been a while. Anyway, as I’m now sitting in the plane, over the Atlantic, I’m planning the following month. I’ll be attending a bartending school, road tripping in the US, enjoying a traditional thanksgiving and probably be shooting at stuff while eating junk food. Good old ‘Murica.

 

So for the next few weeks, this is mainly what this blog will deal with. Cocktails, spending a month in the south, and the usual car blabbering my live friends are used to. But this break is a bit more for me and will tend to turn this blog into a journal. Being a bit bored of my job (software engineering) I’m trying to turn more and more of my hobbies into money generating activities. Like, can I be a bartender, a software designer, a mechanic, a writer and get a salary allowing me to do what I want with ? Shortly put, can three hobbies be made well enough to generate a steady job salary ? This forum is full of poker players having a job on the side or the other way round, making good money, sometimes just the minimal wage, but still having a freedom I now envy.

 

First thing, I want to work on a mobile app I thought of a while ago, yes I’m going to openly discuss it here, mainly because I don’t believe in the whole “can’t talk about it, I don’t want anybody stealing the idea” as it’s usually counter productive to not be open about a project and not get feedback from outer sources, you can’t imagine how other people react to the idea or the app without talking about it. It’s also something I hear a lot from people “How... I have this idea of an app... Where do I start ?” “Would you work for free for me ? Of course if the app makes it big, you’ll get your share.” So, I’m going to talk about the different steps from conception to realization, to end it with actually downloading the app on your smartphone, giving you my way of going through it.

 

Second, bartending. It may sounds like I’m doing things the other way round moving from being an engineer to bartending (“But like... It’s a student job ...” Is something I heard way too often) but me and some of my friends thought “OF COURSE WE SHOULD BUY A BAR” way too often to not actually give it a try. I also think of it as the coolest thing I could do at 35... I mean I’m not gonna be a pole-vault champion, which would be cool too, so I might just stick with the idea of being a proud bar owner somewhere in a not so distant future. After all it’s the next step in my “copying 80‘s Tom Cruise movies” I’ve been a racing driver like in days of thunder for a couples of week ends(ok it wasn’t Nascar, but still) I’m a very decent pool player even though on that one I’m copying Paul Newman way more that Cruise, so now, I’m heading towards the Cocktails side.

 

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Already have the same shirt...

 

 

To achieve that, actually work in a bar. First step, let’s do things the right way and get a bartending degree from a recognized bartending school to complete what I already know about cocktails and how to make them. I’m starting that tomorrow. Expect to read a lot about the cocktail making process here.

 

Third, I’m completely out of shape my work was a bit intense over the last two month, and I haven’t done sh*t. Time to get my ass back at the gym and pump iron.

 

 

 

 

And finally, find some time to read the book from Jonatan Salamon I just bought. “Récit d’un joueur itinérant” is the book version of his blog World Poker Trip, and being one third into it, it’s hard to not be inspired by it in a “f*ck this sh*t, I’m gonna do what I want to do starting right now” kind of way. It’s nicely written, for once it doesn’t fall in the “Let’s print a blog and call it a book” and jonatan has a very refreshing, candid, pure way of sharing his trip anecdotes with us that make every chapter a travel of its own. I find a lot of common points with “On the road”, Jonatan naturally taking the role of some kind of Kerouac 2.0 . Wouldn’t it be a blog linked to an instagram account if Kerouac wrote it nowadays ? 

For now the book is in French only, hopefully it’ll get translated in english in order touch a worldwide audience.

 

SplasH

This post is dedicated to Gaelle J, who got me to drink vodka for the first time in a very long time.

 

I don't really recall a poker night without drinks. Of course that might be why I never got so good, any deep run in a tournament being matched with a deep run in the beer case or another round ordered but nevertheless, getting a drink while playing is as natural as scratching your head while thinking.

Here I'm gonna talk about vodka. This post is going to be the first of a very large family of alcohol related posts and starting with vodka seemed like a good idea. Why ? Because I say so. More seriously, because vodka is one of the most neutral alcohol you can find, you will find it everywhere and unlike good whisky that you'll only get in very leather and cigars smelling clubs, any self respecting bar, club or restaurant will be packing decent vodka.

 

Normally here, when I get into this kind of discussion I hear "Wait... Decent vodka ? Vodka's vodka ... Clear alcohol, hangover, mixed with tonic and/or fruit juice and that's it. Also it's cheap in supermarket or incredibly expensive in clubs when you buy Belvedere or Grey Goose." Yeah not really. Also talking about vodka is a good excuse to talk about alcohol consequences a.k.a the hangover.

 

Drink to much, get a headache. That's Partying 101. But why ? First, dehydration, alcohol literally dries you up. And because when you drink too much, you're body is going to feel poisoned by all the toxins that you find in that bottle of clear Russian elixir that tastes like battery acid when you decide to go for the cheap one.

Soooo we go for the expensive one and that's it ? No hangover ? Ha ha. I would love it to be that simple. 

First things first, what is it made from ?

Vodka is mainly made from potato, or grains, the second one being in general of higher quality than the potato based one (of course there are exceptions) it's also generally one with a more floral and herbal taste that can come close to dry gin. Nowadays we can find vodka made out of grapes (https://www.ciroc.com/) or corn (http://www.titosvodka.com/) but all in all, it's vodka. What it's from doesn't really make a difference on the hangover you'll be experiencing the next morning.

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Second question, how is it made ?

Here we touch a very sensitive part. Why ? Because a lot of brands target their communication on how many times their vodka was distilled or filtered, putting forward that of course a vodka distilled 6 times is going to be better than your 3 time distilled one. Welll... no. BUT, and it's a big but Sir Mixalot, filtering or distilling your vodka more times will make it more pure, meaning that what we will get less impurities (technical term here : congeners) that are in part other alcohol related molecules that will make your body (who doesn't have a clue of what to do with those) feel poisoned and making your following day shitty as hell.

So just like any other hard alcohol, vodka is distilled (few times) then filtered.

Step two conclusion : Higher number of distilled/filtering pass gives a purer vodka which tends to be better for the body.

Ok, so we go for the good brand, high number of distillation and filtrations and that's it ? Ha ha. I would love it to be that simple.

Third question, will it feel good in your mouth ?
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I already talked about the difference in taste in the introduction, but let's concentrate on it here. I'm not talking about flavored vodka like citrus vodka, caramel vodka or whatever that are mainly used as a highway to get into college girls panties but on what a "classic" vodka should taste like. You will mainly find a difference between the herbal/gin-like taste (I put the Zubrowska vodka in the flavored department, after all, bison grass is a flavor on its own) and the more alcohol like but sweet on the tongue taste and feeling of an Absolut vodka.

The taste question brings her little sister with her (yeah lot of questions, i know) : Dude, are you drinking that straight ??

Of course not. I mean you could, some vodkas are really good just on the rocks, but the main consumption of it goes in mixed drinks. Usually highballs (tall drinks where you mix it with a soft drink. See ? You knew what it was) where vodka is mixed with juice, tonic, soda, whatever fit your style of the moment. While I'm at it, if you're the kind of person to think your drink says something about you, quit the vodka tonic. It looks like you're on the second day of your party and you're clinging to that effervescent advil.

95% of the time though, those cocktail are made when you don't want to feel the alcohol, but just the buzz. 

So of course nobody cares about the vodka here. That's why you should use the most neutral tasting one (I'd recommend Absolut) to avoid a weird aftertaste. Yes I'm looking at you again Zubrowska.

After that there's more elaborated cocktails, where you want the taste of the vodka to add something up to the drink. Are you making a vodka based martini variation ? Ketel one(http://www.ketelone.com/). Are you making a cosmo for that pretty lady at the end of the bar ? Tito's vodka (cited early) will have that sweeter taste that going to make you stand out from the crowd of guys who already bought her a drink tonight. Rule is, always call you alcohol in that kind of cocktails. Or trust the bartender if you know him, after all he's supposed to know this sh*t.

Step three conclusion : Grain/herbal vodka in drinks where you want to feel the added value of vodka over any other alcohol, neutral vodka to get wasted without knowing it. Yeah this one was actually simple enough

 

Now you know what's vodka's made from, what it's good for or in, and why you should avoid the store brand of cheap locally distilled vodka. All the tools are in your hand to go out and try different brands to find out what's your favorite. But as a "let's sum it up" having a bottle of ketel one (basic or flavored, the orange tasting one is quite good in cocktails) a bottle of absolut and one of Tito's will get you covered for every situation.

In any case just remember the consequences of a wrong alcohol choice : Dehydration, headaches, feeling like you're 90 years old on the following day.

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"He chose... poorly". - Indiana Jones and the last crusade.

SplasH

Soooooo I got the third blog apparently. As I write this I'm wondering if in the meantime some guy will beat me to it and publish it first (ok... third). I almost won second place yesterday night before I decided to go to bed instead of writing it, only to find out this morning Taamer stole it from me. All my life.

Anyway, I started playing poker about 12 years ago, was really into it as a student mostly because I had a lot of time and no money. As I started getting more money and less time from what people would call a "real" job, poker became a friday night hobby. A bit after that I completely stopped playing, even if having professional players as friends always make you wanna make a comeback (i don't know how many time i said "Hey you should coach me, I'd like to play more" only bringing me back to "ok no, let's keep that a recreational thing" after a few games, mostly because everytime I try to make a comeback, I go broke by playing 0.25$ SNG or NL2$ cashgames. I'll pause here so you can laugh at it.

 

All this introduction to say that today, I'm more interested by what's around poker than poker itself and that's what this blog will be about.

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