Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cocktail Bitters

Measuring out bitters with a dropper

Just a drop will do: Measuring out bitters. (Image taken at Calyer Restaurant, Brooklyn)

Now that cocktails have made their way back into the current drinking repertoire, it’s time to take a look at one the elements of many a good cocktail: bitters. These days, there are many different kinds of bitters with wildly diverging flavor profiles — from blueberry to celery — but their aim is the same. All bitters are concentrated elixirs of botanicals that add nuance and balance to a drink. The flavor doesn’t punch you in the mouth like a a glug of piña colada mix does — but a few drops of bitters can separate a great cocktail from a serviceable one.

A heap of classic and new recipes follow, so you can start flexing your bitters-dripping muscles right away.

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Harris Tweed, Part II

Colorful Harris Tweed

A close-up of Harris Tweed weave

A couple of months ago we introduced you to Mike Donald, a young Scot who decided to forsake city life and return to the western isles of Scotland. He won a placement in a state-sponsored scheme to become a registered weaver of Harris Tweed. Reminder: Harris Tweed enjoys Protected Geographical Status (similar to “Champagne”) and must be made from wool which has been dyed and spun on the Isles of Harris, Lewis, Uist and Barra in the Outer Hebrides islands, and handwoven at the home of the weaver. Afterwards, the cloth is returned to the mill for inspection, and only then can it be given the Orb stamp that authenticates it. Each piece of tweed can be traced back to the individual weaver. (If you inspect the label in your Harris Tweed sport coat you’ll see an inked blue number, this number relates to the responsible weaver.)

I caught up with Mike again after he received his weaver’s number and completed his first tweed.

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Shoe Shine

Looking down at Ryan Plett's shined shoes

A well cared-for pair of freshly shined shoes. (Photo by Ryan Plett of You Have Broken the Internet)

Rather than give you another fanatical instruction guide on how to polish your shoes, we interviewed three experts about why you should do it. For me, part of it is ritual and nostalgia. I associate it with my father and grandfather getting their shoes and boots out on Sunday and polishing them all. But there’s more to it than the smell of polish and mink oil. I asked a leather guy, a style guy and a shoe shine guy about their takes on polishing and maintenance. Nick Horween breaks down shoe leather and how and why to treat it right, Ryan Plett displays some very tasty brogues and discusses his thoughts on style and investing in quality, and Nicolo Timore distills hundreds of shoe shines into one word: preservation.

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Pocket Knife Fun

Picture of a raccoon on a man's back.

Not ready to be made into a coonskin cap just yet. (Image via Old Chum)

1. Carry it around every day. A lot of people who are invested in what little space there is in their pockets make room for a pocket knife. Pocket Dumps, Everyday Carry.

2. Be wholesome. Mumbelty peg is a game of knife feats. It’s competitive and skill-driven, and the loser is punished heartily by having to pull a peg out of the ground with his teeth. The American Boy’s Book of Sport has diagrams of the knife-flipping tricks one must accomplish in order to be crowned winner.

There are other variations of mumbelty peg, including an ill-advised one that requires a pair of duelers with more stupidity than skill. The one who throws a knife closest to his own foot wins. Stick your own foot and you win automatically.

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