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But this is the blog for the website where we post breaking news, announcements and thoughts.
For more of our adventures in alcohol all over the world please visit our Adventure Pages

Zamir Gotta Returns!

As probably too many people for the sake of my health and well being know, Zamir Gotta infamous shady Russian sidekick/coconspirator of Anthony Bourdain is a friend and frequent house guest.

Zamir has returned to Upstate New York!
He is currently working on a pilot for TV that will be a travel series visiting odd places and people across the United States. Think a cross between Atlas Obscura and Borat… But with Vodka….Lots of Vodka….
He is currently seeking funding through IndieGoGo for the pilot.

Should be fun! Please check out the details!
You too can become part of the conspiracy !

A Grim Review of A Bad Concept Bar

This Is A Review Of A New Local Bar In My Area That Billed Itself As A Dive Bar At Its Beginning.

That Got My Back Up.

This Required A Response….

No , just No ….

While I understand the following review is probably going to get me banned from all of their other establishments for life this needs to be said for their latest creation…….

I have been in hundreds of dive bars over the years all over the world and in all different types.

Dive bars hold a special place in my heart and enthusiasms, almost a sacred space. You can put together themed or concept restaurant or bar that may try to be aping somewhere else or a specific type of cuisine and we won’t savage it nearly as badly as when you try to be a dive bar and are not.

The Rochester Beer Garden springs to mind prior to this one.

Ziggy’s touts itself a a Dive or at least a Dive Type, neighborhood bar….

this is a Disneyland theme park imagining of a dive bar – with matching prices and atmosphere – if it could even be called that-

A totally plastic, sanitized, Potemkin kind of dive bar for suburbanites who are too ignorant of where the real dive bars are, or too afraid to go to them.

Every aspect of the place was thought out- and yet highly contrived.

Build a dive bar ?

No one does this …Most dive bars are or were bars that the owners had higher hopes for their bars and they devolved into dive bars . Some had lower expectations than others , and got there faster again, devolution or the revolution of lowered expectations to cheaper booze and food, lower prices, and lower maintenance and money spent on furnishings and amenities.These are the natural arcs of decaying intentions that spawn a dive bar. There is a natural level or balance between the decrepitude, patrons, drinks, food and prices that evolve.

Which brings me to the pricing.


Coors Banquet $4

Genny Light  $4

High Life Pony $3 each

White Claw $6

Expensive Cocktails!

Pretentious names for classic cocktails ( Dad Bod for a Manhattan, Oldie But Goodie for a Old Fashioned, etc. No name , well and certainly not call ingredients the cocktails will set on average of $12 each !

Terrible Food!

6 Wings for $9 and inedible- strangely they seem first baked , frozen then refried .

3 smallish chicken fingers for $10 that were overcooked in a few different ways then served up.

$11 Cheeseburgers

$ 7 Hot Dogs

$2 condiments

Real dive bars would charge less than half what they charge for the food and drinks.

Then the crowd ….

“Suburban Vermin “ my friend called over 21 version of entitled Mall Rat tourist types wanting to pretend they are in a dive bar- .

They all form a safe , fantasy bubble ,to pretend and be pretentious.

At least Ziggy’s by creating this Disney/Fantasy Island/ Dive Bar Petting Zoo ( choose one or more descriptor) has created a safe place for these people to indulge their fantasies and keep them out of real dive bars – where they would irritate the regulars who may respond with at least rejection, and in cases of extreme obnoxiousness – violence  such as – dragging the offender into the men’s room and treated to an experience they would normally only get in Attica.

( By the way the place that this used to happen at had a bartender who had been in so many knife fights his beard grew in tufts – sadly it burned down a number of years ago.

Another example of a truly dangerous dive bar was the old Cadillac Hotel – no one used the bathrooms there to relieve themselves – the bathrooms were the province of denizens that would sell you guns, drugs , or humans with equal ease and inventory- thankfully Ziggy’s is not at all like that that , so the wannabes have a safe space to go slumming in a protected environment ( except for the prices )

Hence one star rather than zero.

To be continued….

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Adding A Craft Spirit to Your Bar or Store

This is another one of our thought process pieces we wrote in response to ongoing problems and issues with craft spirits’ entry into the retail market.

This list is designed to help facilitate the decision-making process as to whether or not to carry a particular craft spirit in your establishment.

It is also designed to give producers, distillers, and marketeers of craft spirits some guidance on what to think about in terms of making and supporting your spirits in the market and how you can make them more attractive to buyers (wholesale and retail) by thinking about these points ( and letting your customers know how you follow them).

This is not an exhaustive list, but I will try to identify some best practices and practical considerations.

Quality: Does it taste good? Does it taste better than more commercial products?

Price: Is it priced so you can still make a decent profit? ( see the app pourcost here).
One yardstick for this decision is most people will pay about 20% above the standard market price for local, organic, farm-to-table, etc., etc., and the percentage declines above that. The product may be higher-end, but there is a limit, especially for an unknown brand.

What Makes The Spirit Distinctive: Local?, Organic?, Environmentally friendly?, Craft?
For an exhaustive list of such things, see our previous article, ” A Modest Proposal on How To Define Craft Distilling Through Information

Label and Bottling – Is it attractive, interesting, and/or easy to spot? Can it attract consumers’ attention and curiosity? Does it look like an attractive and premium product, or at least not made in an alley somewhere?

Handling– Does the bottle handle well? Can it be fitted with a standard speed pour? Is it easy to open?

Delivery – is it easy to get or be delivered? Do they answer the phone and take orders? Can you be reasonably sure that if you need more product, they can get it to you in a timely manner? Do they have a local distributor or self distribute in a business-like and timely manner?

Information – Are the labels clear and informative, interesting stories/history, and ingredients? Does it give you some good reasons why you should buy it or why your customers should drink it?

Support -Do they support the brand or do tastings? Do they supply sample bottles or samples so you can pour for staff or customers to familiarize them? Can you reach someone to ask questions? Can the person trying to sell it to you communicate what you and your consumers may want to know about the brand and what makes it special/preferred over others? Particularly name brands?
Does the brand have hangtags or cheat sheets listing cocktails you can make or ways to serve?
Do they hold cocktail competitions ( a great way for brands to get new recipe ideas and PR – especially among bartenders in exchange for prizes).

Web/Social Media-Do they have an easy-to-remember and at least slightly informative website or social media presence where people can learn more or interact about the brand? Do they advertise or have a social presence?

If they have a Public Relations company representing them, is the company competent and responsive?
Do they do a good job of representing the brand and handling all of the above questions?

A Double Scotch Book Launch Party

Dateline March 30, 2014  NYC.
Went to NYC for Paul Pacults Book Launch party for his new book A double Scotch how Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Became Global Icons.
The party was held at Keens Steakhouse on 36th St. . For those who are not familiar with it Keens is to New York what Bookbinders was to Philadelphia the landmark restaurant that has been around since slightly less than forever as far as the citizens are concerned.
It also house the largest collection of long stem clay pipes in the world – around 50,000 or so.
Now sadly smoking is now banned in NYC so they have all beeen retired and are currently used only for decoration.
But to ge back to my original subject, the book launch was upstairs in the Lamb Room and attended by what I would guess to be about 100 people.
David Talbot of the Wine Enthusiast magazine was the MC and Jim Crile the Master Distiller of The Glemlivet along with Colin Scott the Master Blender of Chivas Brothers were on hand to guide us through a tasting of some of their finest.

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Last Shot Distillery Wins Multiple Medals and Acclaim

Chris Uyehara at Last Shot Distilling in Skaneatles, New York has been racking up the medals along with his booze lately.

Mentioned in Wine Enthusiast Magazine in their top 100 Spirits List for his Chocolate Creme Brûlée and Orange Moonshine Creamsicle recently, we decided to list his other accomplishments lately:

Last Shot Distillery Awards

2018 Great American international Spirits Competition

Lightning Whiskey      Gold Medial

Gin          Silver Medal

Moonshine      Silver Medal

2019 Camp Good Days international 

Skaneateles Distillers Reserve Whiskey    Gold Medal

Bourbon 2 yrs.                                   Silver Medal

Lightning Whiskey                            Silver Medal

Vodka                                                   Bronze Medal

Sweet Maple Spirit                             Bronze Medal

50 Best Moonshine   Competition NY   

Moonshine Gold Medal

 2020   Great American Spirits international 

Chocolate Crème Brulee Bourbon   Gold Medal

Orange Crème Lightning                      Gold Medal

2020 John Barley Corn Award

Skaneateles Distillers Reserve Whiskey   Gold Medal

2020 Seatle Internațional Spirits Competition

Distillers Reserve Best Of Class

Chocolate Crème Brulee Bourbon   Double Gold Medal

Bourbon Gold Medal

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Putting The Geek Back Into Spirits Geek

As some of you may have noticed we have done a major reboot of Spirits Review lately with the help of Lee Hurst at HelpfulLee.

Part of our massive effort to tune up and refine Spirits Review and make it more enjoyable for our readers was an in-depth analysis of what was popular with our readers. The Cobra Whiskey Review was by far the most popular review, followed by the Vine Snake Whiskey Review, and a fair amount of interest in our Absinthe Beetle Review, and the whole range of Scorpion Mezcals with, of course, a scorpion in each bottle….

So despite my trepidation at being known as the Andrew Zimmern of booze, I have decided to put the geek ( in the older, if not more classical sense of the word) back into Spirits Geek and embark on more exotic spirits containing various animals so the rest of you don’t have to and you can indulge your curiosity with a little more remove – or at least know what you are getting into if you try some of this stuff. We drink it so you don’t have to!

Our latest review is Habushu – A Habu Pit Viper Whiskey and Spirit of The Month for May 2018

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While I have a list of over 800 Custom Cocktails on most of which are local, I realized I don’t have a list of the worthwhile cocktail bars concisely listed. In order to address that the following list was created. It is in alphabetical order with notes on particulars that caused me to like and list them. About half of them are restaurants with good bars, the other half straight up cocktail bars with some food ( if any of that matters to you ),


A Tribute To Sasha Petraske – Or How We Started a Bartender Down the Path or Both…

I just wanted to let our readers know about my personal experience/quest for a Daiquiri at John F. Kennedy Airport – New York Cities major airport.

Being in transit between San Jose California to Rochester, New York, returning from a press trip to Lost Spirits Distillery (and to witness their rapid spirit aging reactor Theta 1, more on that later), around 8:45 or so I started my quest for a Daiquiri – to me simple quest, It is on of the more basic cocktails one can make or ask for and, well executed, a wonderful cocktail. (more…)