The SOMM Journal

August / September 2015

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Page 10 of 132

10 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 { editor's notebook } A truly enlightened bourbon drinker needs a guide to enhance the process of sipping and appreciating every nuance of America's native spirit. Here it is. Narrated by bourbon authority Fred Minnick, Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker ($23, Zenith Press) provides an interactive tasting journey to help consumers understand their palates and determine their preferred flavor profiles. Pushing aside the hyperbole of brand marketing, Minnick zeroes in on simply judging bourbon by its flavor nuances. He makes bourbon transparent, disclosing the mash recipes that you won't find on a bottle's label, as well as the exciting history behind this most celebrated spirit. Bourbon Curious is filled with information that will up the game for even the most experienced bourbon drinker. Like bourbon, rum is one of the most important and his - toric spirits in America. For an accurate background and an introductory course on all facets of the tropical liquor, Lynn Hoffman's book, Short Course in Rum ($15, Skyhorse Publishing) is an excellent and highly readable guide. Brimming with fascinating details and amazing photographs, Hoffman's guide is rich in details, from rum's emergence in the Caribbean to its aging process and now booming sales in the United States. You'll also find thorough instructions for smelling and tasting high-quality rums, as well as delicious food and drink recipes. Hoffman includes traditional libations, such as Piña Coladas and Mojitos, as well as some really unique dishes such as the Rum Cedar-Planked Salmon and a lush Rum Custard. Lynn Hoffman is an authority on the subject of rum, and in his book, Short Course in Rum, he invites you to become one too. Vermouth is an aromatized and fortified wine that has been around for centuries and it has, in the past hundred years or so, become an essential ingredient of today's cocktail cul - ture. Its history and rich background is lucidly and stylishly presented in Vermouth: The Revival of the Spirit that Created America's Cocktail Culture ($30, Countryman Press) by Adam Ford, who, in addition to being a scholarly and fine writer is a producer of vermouth himself. He links the wine's rich history to China, the Middle East, Ancient Egypt, Persia and, of course, the Silk Routes that connected the East with the West. Once a healing medicinal elixir to drink on its own, vermouth climbed its way to elite social beverage status. Then in 1869, the first Old Fashioned "Vermuth Cocktail" was published, paving the way for this enigmatic wine to become one of the world's most important cocktail ingredients. Ford captures the story of this unique wine in its past, present and future. Vermouth is an essential resource. Detailing the most classic of cocktails is the reprint of a bar shelf staple, Tom Bullock's The Ideal Bartender ($25, Cocktail Kingdom, Inc.). Originally published in 1917, and writ - ten by the famed African-American bartender of the St. Louis Country Club, this iconic cocktail book is a singular treatise that offers a snapshot of the brilliant flavors of the American bar just two years before the advent of Prohibition. The Ideal Bartender is an important historic document. READING ROOM: BEHIND THE BAR How Sweet It Is AMERICANS LOVE SUGAR. I THINK IT'S SAFE to say we are hooked on sweetness. It begins in infancy and continues, unabated, throughout our lives. Sweet things are used as reward for a job well done. My two-and-a-half-year-old grandson is currently being potty trained. He gets to choose a brightly colored M&M each time he accomplishes his mission. He can't wait to go again. Every red-blooded American kid gets candy and sugary sodas as a reward. "You won the game; nice going, here's a Snickers bar." Sweetness is equated with quality, with refine - ment, with comfort, with love. Remember the rush you used to get on Halloween? How that huge bag of individually wrapped sweet candies you brought home was like a sack of gold, a treasure. Of all five tastes (including umami) sweet was always your favorite, right? Then why is it so difficult to sell dessert wines? It's a golden age for wine. There have never been as many excellent wines as there are available now. It's a golden age for dessert wines also. Not just domestic products either. There are great sweet wines coming from Germany, Hungary, France, Italy, Austria, South Africa and other places. Why are they so hard to sell? Maybe we are going about it all wrong. Perhaps there needs to be more creative hand-selling. Apparently having a list of by-the-glass sweet wines attached to the dessert menu or in a special place on the wine list doesn't seem to do the job. Evidently a little bit of up-close and personal sell - ing can be helpful. Often, however, this individualized attention is not a vailable. The wine person may be otherwise occupied or the staff might prefer not to prolong the dining experience. In the back of their minds are they thinking: "Ok, finish up, pay up and vacate the table so we can turn it"? If you are going to make the effort to have a good selection of dessert wines, then you should do everything necessary to sell them—and that includes extending the length of the meal. Dessert wines are exciting and relevant. They add immeasurably to the enjoyment of a meal. Give them your full attention and they will become an important part of the restaurant experience that you offer. —Anthony Dias Blue C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

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