What We’re Reading: America’s Next Great City Is Inside L.A.; 90 Proof New York; The Three Most Important Southern California Craft Beers of 2013; Diageo, Yum Brands, And P&G — One Winning Strategy; Where To Make Your Own Craft Beer In Japan

January 10th, 2014 — 12:55pm

America’s Next Great City Is Inside L.A., Jan 2014 – GQ Magazine
For decades, Downtown has been the dark center of L.A.: a wasteland of half-empty office buildings and fully empty streets. But amid the glittering towers and crumbly Art Deco facades, a new generation of adventurous chefs, bartenders, loft dwellers, artists, and developers are creating a neighborhood as electrifying and gritty as New York in the ’70s. Brett Martin navigates his way through the coolest new downtown in America. Read the rest here! 

90 Proof New York, 12/27/2013 – New York Times
Steven DeAngelo was bored on Wall Street. Colin Spoelman never found a job he wanted to do. Brad Estabrooke was laid off from one he would never miss. Dave Kyrejko was a former art school student working with fish tanks and aquariums. The four men are now part of a boomlet in small distilleries in New York City, the first of their kind since Prohibition. On a recent morning in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Mr. Spoelman, 34, walked through what may be the world’s smallest corn field and offered a tour of the Kings County Distillery, which in 2010 became the city’s first legal whiskey distillery in more than 80 years. The air smelled of sweet fermenting corn; the shelves inside held bottles of bourbon and moonshine. Read the rest here!

Craft beer
The three most important Southern California craft beers of 2013, 1/2/2014 – Los Angeles Times
2013 was the best year for craft beer that Los Angeles has yet seen, and there were more brewery openings, more new beers, and more excitement among beer drinkers than ever before. Everyone has their favorite new brewed-in-L.A. beer, but these are three of the most important beers to be released in Los Angeles in 2013. Groundbreaking, hype-making, and prescient, you’re going to be hearing a lot more about these brews, and the people behind them, in 2014.
• Golden Road Brewing’s Heal the Bay IPA
• Noble Ale Works’ Naughty Sauce
• Smog City Brewing’s GrapeApe IPA
Read the rest here!

Diageo, Yum Brands, And P&G — One Winning Strategy, 12/27/2013 –  Forbes
Diageo (NYSE:DEO), Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM), and P&G (NYSE:PG) are in different businesses but they have one thing in common: they have all been successful in expanding their overseas presence.  Beverage maker Diageo mixes global drinks with local drinks and liquors to create product offerings that cater to local markets. Diageo’s Gordon Edge, a mix of gin and lemon, caters to the UK market. Meanwhile Safari Luna, a mixed of fruit and liquor, caters to the Netherlands. Allied Domecq’s Presidente brandy and cola mix caters to the Mexican market, while TG — a mix of Scotch and guanana — caters to the Brazilian market. Campari’s Mixx, a mix of grapefruit and Campari, caters to the Italian and Swiss market. In some cases, Diageo has localized marketing to promote local brands, as is the case with its Bulliet brand, marketed to local bars. “By restricting ad spending and selling only to select bars, Diageo aimed to create an independent, hipster aura around Bulleit,” writes Wall Street’s Peter Evans. “The plan worked: Buoyed by the renaissance in bourbon and with a growing following in the cocktail trade, sales of Bulleit have increased fivefold in the past three years, largely through “on-trade” sales in bars.” This localized strategy is in sharp contrast to the globalized strategy for the company’s major brands, like Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness. Read the rest here!

Where to Make Your Own Craft Beer in Japan, 1/3/2014 – Wall Street Journal
At Kiuchi Brewery in Japan’s Ibaraki Prefecture, about two hours north of Tokyo by train, Shigeru Sakurai’s first experiment with fruit-flavored beer showed promise. The wort, which had been spiked with fresh grape juice, glowed a warm shade of purple in the December afternoon light. The liquid was slightly sweet, with a pronounced grapey flavor and sharp, pine-like aromas that came from the Nelson Sauvin hops Mr. Sakurai had added to the base of his white ale. “The grape juice didn’t contain added sugar, so it shouldn’t cause problems with fermentation,” observed brewery worker Haruna Katsuyama. Once chilled, the wort would be transferred to a fermentation tank, and the Kiuchi staff would complete the brewing process. In four weeks, Mr. Sakurai would receive the finished product in the mail. Read the rest here!


America’s Next Great City Is Inside L.A., January 2014 – GQ Magazine

January 7th, 2014 — 4:24pm

For decades, Downtown has been the dark center of L.A.: a wasteland of half-empty office buildings and fully empty streets. But amid the glittering towers and crumbly Art Deco facades, a new generation of adventurous chefs, bartenders, loft dwellers, artists, and developers are creating a neighborhood as electrifying and gritty as New York in the ’70s. Brett Martin navigates his way through the coolest new downtown in America

Read More

Music Monday: Hobart W. fink with Hi Ho Silver, Black Belt Karate and Girlpool Saturday January 11th @ Casey’s Irish Pub!

January 6th, 2014 — 6:07pm

Hobart W. Fink are back in The Back Room at Casey’s and this time it’s gonna get rowdy. Those indie rock punkers from Silver Lake know how to throw a party and they are bringing along Hi Ho SIlver, Black Belt Karate andy Girlpool to get down with. Show starts at 10pm and is free!

Hobart W. Fink Official Video

Mix This: The Varnish’s Warm Milk Punch with Max Seaman

January 2nd, 2014 — 1:13pm

Last winter we had a really great version of a Warm Milk Punch on the menu. This is adapted from a 1711 recipe by Mary Rockett, which was published in the wonderful book Punch, by David Wondrich (2010). According to Wondrich, it is “the oldest extant recipe for Milk Punch.” The story goes: punch was the mixed drink of choice in the 17th and 18th century. People drank so much of it that the sour nature started causing problems. Adding milk was probably an attempt to “smooth” out the citrus. Since this recipe originated in England, it stands to reason that the hot temperature of the drink helped them through cold winter nights. According to a conversation with Mr. Wondrich, Mary Rockett also happens to be the first commercially published author in Great Britain.

We have significantly modified the original recipe: we call for 2 parts demerara rum and one part cognac rather than all “brandy;” we make an “oleo-saccharum” rather than infusing the liquor with lemon peel; we modify the ratio of sweet and sour; and we increase the amount of milk rather than also adding a lot of water.

The Varnish Warm Milk Punch
-peel 6 lemons. Set aside the fruit for juicing and place the peels in a non-reactive bowl or container. Add 6 teaspoons of superfine sugar and muddle until the sugar starts to pull out the essential oil in the peels. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. After it sits the peels will shrivel and the oils and sugar will combine into a fragrant syrup which in historical punch jargon is called an oleo-saccharum.

In the container with the oleo-saccharum, add:
- 333ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 425ml turbinado simple syrup*
- 500ml Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac or other good FULL BODIED cognac, preferably 86-94 proof
- 1 liter El Dorado 5yr rum, or other dark, rich DEMERRARA rum

Stir to combine. Then add 1850ml of scalding whole milk. Preferably raw milk, but it HAS to be whole milk. If you are finicky about raw milk, scalding it will have the same effect as pasteurization.

Once you have added the scalding milk to the mixture, stir vigorously until the curds and whey have separated. Strain the whole mixture through cheesecloth or a very fine mesh strainer such as a “chinois.”

Taste for richness and intensity of alcohol. You may want to add a little bit of filtered water if it is too rich or boozy. You may also want to add more simple syrup if the punch is too tart, or to add richness. The amount of sugar the punch needs depends on the richness and sweetness of the milk.

At this point you can serve immediate while warm – just ladle into teacups and top with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. If you’d like to bottle it, let it sit covered in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight, until the remaining curds settle to the bottom. Siphon the liquid off the top and bottle. It can sit on the shelf at cellar temperature for a few months. From the bottle, pour into a saucepan, heat, and serve in teacups topped with nutmeg. Don’t over-heat, you will boil off the alcohol. (you can also serve it cold and it’s quite good) Refrigerate after opening.

*for turbinado simple syrup, dissolve 500g turbinado sugar (“sugar in the raw”) into 750ml hot water

Max Seaman, The Varnish, General Manager