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 :
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 :
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 :
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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.
"He chose... poorly". - Indiana Jones and the last crusade.
In this global world, English is the #1 second language - that is, you speak your mother tongue first, then you learn English. For those who are native English speakers (I am not), it may be amazing that so many English languages can be heard around the world - different accents, different vocabulary mistakes, different grammatical murders to the ears... and how the French speak English is no exception to this. When playing poker in France, the French have their typical own way of using the English poker vocabulary.
First, using English words for the poker vocabulary was no fate in France. The French language already had all the words to describe what is happening during a poker hand. Je mise, je relance, je passe, un brelan, une quinte, une couleur, un carré (I bet, I raise, I fold, a set, a straight, a flush, quads) and all the expressions that describe gambling - isn't roulette a French word? - have existed in the French language for centuries. However, and this may come as a surprise to you, the word gambling has no direct translation into French. We have to use the slang words Flambe, flamber, flambeur (gambling, to gamble, a gambler) to reach close enough, with a subtle bias : the flambeur is the guy playing at high stakes in a casino, spreading (spilling?) his chips all over the tables, not worrying at all about winning or losing - he's filthy rich and he can afford to play for the thrill of it, period. I guess this is not exactly what backgammon, blackjack or poker players do when they gamble : they are playing a game that relates to the laws of randomness.
Anyway, the French will use the perfect English poker vocabulary, but with some flaws. Some major ones. They sure know what bet or raise mean, but they never cared to learn a complete sentence in English using these words. So, they are using those in a sentence in French. Il a bet hors de pos (He bet out of pos[ition]) is a typical quote from a French poker player - all the words but one are in French, the direct translation into French for to bet does exist, yet the English word is used. In this example, matters are quite straighforward : to bet / I bet / bet is a stable expression of the idea of betting, and the same form can be used as a noun, too!
But if we now use the same structure with the idea of raising, we may stumble into a chaotic language. Il a raise hors de pos (He raised $20 out of pos[ition]). Please note that raise, in this sentence, is a new form for a conjugated verb. A raise, he raises, he raised, raised : none of these genuine forms is used here. The rest of the French sentence carries the past tense of the action. The French sentence does not care that the verb to raise must carry some transitiveness. You don't raise full stop. You are raising an eyebrow : this sucker raised $20 into the pot, can you believe it?
But the French poker players may go further into chaos. For poker vocabulary, any form of word can be used in a French sentence. A verb can be a verb, but it can also be a noun although it is not one in English. A noun can be used as a verb, who cares about how we should conjugate it anyway? Il m'a donké all-in à la river! (He donk bet all-in on the river) is a more complex example where, besides using several English poker words into a French sentence, a poker slang expression is completely transformed : the verb to bet is dropped out, donk is turned into a verb and conjugated into a French form of a past tense. How would Joe Hachem understand when a Frenchman told him "He donked me on the river!" ? Did he get a lift to cross the river to the Sydney opera?
But enough with the grammar. Some flaws with the French speaking English are just about how the words are pronounced. When a French poker player speaks a sentence in French with an English poker word in it, he will not switch between the languages (changing his pronounciation or how the word flow is stressed) as people in Canada would. The English word will be pronounced as if it were a French word. Loose is pronounced lose. Stack is pronounced stake (or steak). Three is pronounced tree. Straight may sometimes sound like street. As most of these words are used in the poker vocabulary, it is likely that you'll have many misunderstandings with French poker players when you hear this poker language of their own. And a lot of entertainment, too.
Post scriptum : sometimes, the fun does not come from a mistake in grammar or in pronounciation, but from a genuine misunderstanding. In 2015, a French player in Vegas was announcing pack when playing $100-$200 limit 2-7 triple draw. By the way, the French word for pat is servi. All served!
For once in my life, I am first.
FIRST, ffs ! You have no clue how much it would mean to my poor Dad.
Born in Tenesse, he raised my sister and I in Dayton, Ohio. It was not easy everyday, especially with the sis. I don't know why, but she was getting straight into teenager's crisis at 8. Anyway, being the oldest, I had to keep her mouth shut. This is when the competition began... Every single time we had the change to compete for anything, as much eating pizza than finishing the homework, Dad pushed us against each other. Since then, I purchased all my life, in vain, this unreachable goal. And today, here I am, writing the first entry of the FIRST blog of en.clubpoker.net.
I think I might need a FAP. brboobs.