Over at my other home on Alcohol Professor, I’m spinning the tale of the rise and fall and rise of the American hotel bar and cocktail culture. Or rather, in Cocktail History: American Hotel Bars, I am writing about “Rediscovering the American Hotel Bar,” a Manhattan Cocktail Classic event in which Rene Hidalgo, head bartender at the Iroquois Hotel’s Lantern’s Keep, recounted the history of hotel bars to us while serving an awful lot of really good illustrative cocktails.
So the not-a-secret secret: work here at Teleport City has slowed down because I am writing a book. Building off the Bottled in Bond article I wrote some time back, I have spent the past few months doing research — sometimes at a library, more likely at a cocktail bar — on a more expansive study of James Bond’s drinks, the history behind some of his favorite sprits, and the impact 007 had on drinking culture. Prospectively titled Bond Vivant, I am so far pretty happy with the way it’s going, except for the fitful pace of my progress (that night of research at the Hotel St. Regis’ King Cole Bar really derailed me for a few days). In honor of Ian Fleming’s 106th birthday, I thought I would give readers here, who I hope will be patient with the way the book impacts the frequency of updates on Teleport City, a little sneak peek. It isn’t much — the first (very rough) draft of the introduction — but I hope it helps excuse my absence from Teleport City proper and gets two or three of you interested enough to stay on back about getting this thing finished.
My latest Frolic Afield over at Alcohol Professor is To Catch Aperitif, a dizzy account of my efforts at the recent Manhattan Cocktail Classic Industry Invitational to expand my usual area of study beyond the world of whiskey. For me, this meant delving into the bitter, herbal, fruity, and floral world of Italian and Alpine liqueurs, aperitifs, digestifs, and fortified wines in the line-up of importer Haus Alpenz.
It’s time for a Kentucky Derby Frolic Afield. I’m back on Alcohol Professor, and in An Urban Bourbon Trail Through History I’m taking y’all on a tour of Louisville’s three most historic hotels: The Brown, The Galt House, and The Seelbach. Or, more accurately, I’m taking you on a tour of their bars. Special guest stars Abraham Lincoln, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the hot brown.
It’s an amazing testament to my willpower that on my latest Frolic Afield over at Alcohol Professor, I did not title the article “Czeching out Czech Whisky” or “The Head of the Cock.” Anyway, On the Prowl for Czech Whisky is my look at two Czech single malts, the low-end Gold Cock and much higher end 23-year-old Hammer Head, as well as one of Prague’s coolest whisky bars, Whiskeria, inside an old medieval tower.
Everyone knows the Czech Republic is the beer capital of the world, but as I discovered for my latest Frolic Afield to Alcohol Professor, the way bars and restaurants contract with breweries means you often can only get one type of beer at a location, and then only one of the macro-brews. But the Prague Beer Museum is a pub dedicated to Czech craft brewing, with thirty Czech beers on tap. Obviously research was called for.
A light dusting of snow danced in swirling eddies across the sidewalk as we waited for the rumbling old elevator to arrive and admit us into its dark, wood-paneled interior. The operator nodded wordlessly to us, slid the door closed, and threw the lever that sent us upward in that creaking, moaning, shaking box. After what seemed an impossibly long and precarious ascent, the lift finally stopped and, just as wordlessly as he’d greeted us, the elevator operator bid us adieu and left us standing in a foyer lit by the yellow glow of incandescent bulbs. A row of wooden telephone booths lined one wall, and the sound of a little big band working their way through a Kay Kyser tune drifted to us on wisps of blue smoke coming from somewhere down a dark hallway.
My vacation was nice, but it’s time to get back on the alcohol beat with another Frolic Afield at Alcohol Professor. The Still on the Hill chronicles a visit to Napa and Sonoma, where I eschewed vineyards and went to the Charbay whiskey distillery — where I drank wine. Complicated story.
Had myself a little visit to the corner of Anchor Brewing that is dedicated to distilling Old Potrero whiskey. My latest frolic afield takes me back to Alcohol Professor and to San Francisco for Anchor Distilling: Making Whiskey Inside a Temple of Beer.
A seasonal Frolic Afield on Alcohol Professor celebrating both Krampusnacht and Repeal Day! Toasting Santa’s Devil showcases two beers, one American and one Italian, and one very special Krampus cocktail that will help you toast the repeal of Prohibition and the arrival of Santa’s most devilish sidekick.