12 Bottle Bar http://12bottlebar.com A Dozen Bottles. Hundreds of Cocktails. Sat, 02 May 2015 02:48:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.11 Marvel Cocktail http://12bottlebar.com/2015/04/marvel-cocktail/ http://12bottlebar.com/2015/04/marvel-cocktail/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 15:31:07 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com//?p=3666  

2 1/2 ounces amber rum
1/2 ounce Sirop de Citron (see below)
1/2 ounce grenadine (or to taste)

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with your best Stan Lee or Jim Lee story
(Yes, I know that Jim Lee is at DC now )

* * *

You could see the fear in his eyes, as he lay paralyzed in the hospital bed while the crazed figure sat in the chair beside him, revolver in hand. The barrel of the gun was thrust against his brow, the trigger hurriedly pulled back – KLIK – on an empty chamber. At the best of times, Russian roulette isn’t a sport for the weak, but when you’re trapped – unable to move, unable to speak – while a madman forces turn after turn upon you – well, it makes you wonder who’s the hero and who’s the villain. Should it matter than the man in the bed, Bullseye, had killed Elektra? No, Daredevil was better than this – better than preying upon those who couldn’t raise a muscle to defend themselves. He was a protector of the city. But not tonight – tonight, he was attending to personal business, settling a debt. No, tonight he was far from being a superhero.

Point a gun to my head and ask me where and when I first got the bug the write, and I will kindly direct you to Daredevil #191, written and drawn by Mr. Frank Miller. I was thirteen, and up until that point – in those pre-Nintendo days – comics were little more than a way to pass the time because that was what boys did. Then came Miller’s Daredevil. Suddenly, comics broke from the Lee-Kirby mold and become something grittier, deeper, and with more emotional resonance. Quickly on the heels of Daredevil came Walter Simonson’s Thor, in which every curve took on Mandelbrot-like geometry. Not only was I hooked, unaware of what the future would hold (The Dark Knight, Alien Legion, Teen Titans), right there and then, I declared myself a Marvel man for life.

In 1939, pulp magazine publisher Martin Goodman decided to venture into the popular world of comic books with his Timely Comics banner and an initial book entitled “Marvel Comics”. It was this first issue which would introduce readers to a character called the Human Torch, and in the years leading up to World War II, Timely would also give birth to the comic legends Captain America and the Sub-Mariner. But the most important hero in Timely’s history would come in the form of a mild-mannered office assistant named Stanley Lieber.

When editor Joe Simon, who had created Captain America along with artist Jack Kirby (the comic world’s Babe Ruth), left Timely in 1941, Goodman appointed 19-year-old Lieber, who was writing under the pen name “Stan Lee”, as acting comics editor. Following a stint in the military during World War II, Lee returned to Timely and took over the full-time duties as editor.

The post-war years were not kind to the comic industry, particularly to Timely, which was then distributing under the banner “Atlas” and battling a plethora of distribution and back-catalog issues. Facing the dissolution of the company, Lee was charged with coming up with new ideas to reinvigorate sales. Rival DC was having success with superhero teams, namely the Justice League of America, and Timely recognized the opportunity. Lee, however, didn’t want just another team of perfect, flawless heroes; he wanted characters that argued, paid the rent, and got angry just like the rest of us. Adopting the name of Timely’s oldest book, Marvel Comics was launched in 1961, and that same year, the company’s cornerstone team of dysfunctional-yet-loving superheroes was let loose on the world. The Fantastic Four.

The Fantastic Four marked the real return of Jack Kirby (who had left with Joe Simon twenty years earlier) to Martin Goodman’s comics. Teaming with Kirby, Steve Ditko, and a handful of other top artists, Stan Lee used the Marvel banner to begin not only a new way to “tell” comics but also to change how they were created. The “Marvel Method” entailed Lee and the artist brainstorming the story ideas, with Lee laying out the basic story structure and then turning it over to the artist with no formal script. In this manner, artists were free to interpret the basic story and to enhance it as they saw fit. Once the penciling was finished, the word balloons and captions were added. Not only did this method allow Lee to juggle his heavy workload, it produced many of the most successful superheroes in history. Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Hulk.

True to Lee’s vision, none of these characters was a nearly invincible alien (Superman) or a billionaire detective (Batman). No, they were semi-regular people that had to cope with daily life on top of super villains. In 1971, Lee was asked by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to create a story in which a friend of the webslinger succumbs to the perils of drugs. The Comics Code (the industry’s Hays Act) refused to allow the books to be published, so Lee convinced publisher Martin Goodman to release the books without the sanction of the Comics Code. “The world did not come to an end,” Lee recalls. “We had really the greatest mail from parents, teachers, religious organizations praising us for that story.” It was from this foundation that later writers and artist such as Frank Miller and Walter Simonson were allowed to take their stories into more visually dramatic and emotionally compelling realms.

It’s been ten years since I last visited Comic-Con, loosely working at the time as part of an artists and writers agency, but since half my friends are down there (the other half are in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail), I thought I might vicariously join them in a drink. Though you may not believe it, we didn’t make up the Marvel Cocktail; it comes from the Savoy Cocktail Book, circa 1930. The recipe calls for the esoteric but well-worth-the-making Sirop de Citron, which is nothing more than citrus macerated in sugar for a few days. As with all things Savoy, we turned to friend and Savoymeister Erik Ellestad (who know his way around a kitchen as well as a bar) for our syrup recipe. While the below differs slightly from the version found on his Savoy Stomp (formerly Underhill Lounge) site, the changes come from subsequent improvements Erik himself made following his original post.

Sirop de Citron
2. 5 Lemons, thinly sliced
500 g Sugar

Slice the lemons and toss them in the sugar
Let stand in a non-reactive bowl for 2 to 3 days
Add the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a low simmer
Stir until any remaining sugar is dissolved
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve
Discard the solid or use them elsewhere
Optional – if syrup is too thick, thin with a little water

The resulting syrup is beautifully yellow and deliciously deep in its tartness, with nice bitter edge bring up the back note. I concur with Ellestad in recommending a nice, light natural sugar here, but as I only had white baker’s sugar on hand when I made my recipe at 1:30am, I’ll confide that it works just fine. If going through the trouble of making syrup isn’t your thing, feel free to use fresh lemon juice in its place.


The original drink proportions given by the Savoy are 3/4 part rum, 1/8 part Sirop de Citron, and 1/8 part , which I’ve translated for our wacky measurements above. Obviously feel free to fudge a bit (those quarters are a bit annoying, I know) but know that if you adhere to the perfect proportions, you get an absolutely lovely drink. Whereas I tend to be of a different mindset than the “add only enough sugar to take off the edge” proponents, in this drink, that mantra truly shines. It’s a very Rum-forward cocktail, with the two syrups playing background harmony – just taking off the edge, exactly as they say.

I had planned to add a section on how lemons and citrons are two different things, but as citrons can be difficult to find, will not produce the same results with this recipe, and lemon makes for a brilliantly lovely syrup (and subsequent cocktail), I’ll skip it. If you must have this information, Google is just a click away, but be forewarned that most Sirop de Citron recipes out there are, as you might expect, in French. Instead, let’s close out by returning to our friends Daredevil and Bullseye, as they reach the last of the revolver‘s chambers and the end of their game of roulette…

The question lingering before both men is one of consequences – for exactly how much collateral damage is a superhero responsible. For Daredevil – by day, lawyer Matt Murdock – the world isn’t black and white, good versus evil. It’s a collection of mistakes, regrets, and heroes who will always let somebody down. But right and wrong do exist, and right must be upheld. It’s with this sentiment that, five rounds of Russian roulette later, the Man without Fear levels the six-shooter at his arch enemy’s temple and says:

“That’s what it all comes down to, Bullseye… when I fight you and beat you, and know deep in my heart that I’m right in what I do… when I hate you and your kind so fiercely I could cry… when I can see that you are black and evil and have no right to live… when, at last, at long last, I’ve got you set squarely in my sight… and I smell your fear, and it is sweet to smell… when it comes to that one final, fatal act of ending you… KLIK!… my gun has no bullets. Guess we’re stuck with each other, Bullseye.”

“Excelsior!” indeed.

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Beyond the 12 Bottles: The Root 58 Julep http://12bottlebar.com/2015/04/beyond-the-12-bottles-the-root-58-julep/ http://12bottlebar.com/2015/04/beyond-the-12-bottles-the-root-58-julep/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 03:34:52 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com/?p=8418 This post features a drink outside of the regular 12 bottles.  If you’re a 12BB purist, feel free to substitute rye in place of the bourbon, but hey, even we break our rules on good occasions.

At the turn of the millennium, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami promoted the term “Superflat” to describe his work.  Much like the Western pop movement before him, Murakami noticed a wide gap between “fine” art and “low” art, and he set out to blur the lines between the two worlds.  Where Warhol gave us Brillo boxes and Rosenquist leveraged his experience as a commercial sign painter, Murakami produced happy, smiling comic book flowers and hyper-sexualized manga characters and called them high art.  The art community agreed.

For most of us, the catalog of mint juleps isn’t much different from the pre-Murakami “unflattened” world: juleps both high — hand-crafted with fine spirits — and low — sickly sweet concoctions of childhood that put many people off proper juleps before they’d even tried the real thing.  Still, as a kid, there was always a mint julep on my to-do list each and every time I visited Disneyland.  The Disney julep may not be “craft” but it certainly holds a place in my mind as a primal food memory.  When Maker’s Mark asked us for a contribution for their #JulepOff competition, we asked ourselves if there was a way to combine that childhood excitement with a drink of true quality, bringing together the high and low into — there’s no better word for it —  a superflat julep.

Around 12BB, we’re big fans of tinkering with common household ingredients, attempting to bring out their best and apply them in a craft way.  For our Maker’s Julep, we wanted to compliment the qualities of the bourbon while punching up the sweet, minty goodness.  That’s the key to a great julep — boozy with just enough sweetness to take off the edge.  We played around with various muddles and infused syrups, using the same combination of flavors — mint (obviously) anise, vanilla, orange, cinnamon — until we realized that we could get everything we’re looking for in an off-the-shelf bottle: root beer.


There’s nothing revolutionary about the combination of root beer and a mint julep, but we weren’t interested in using root beer flavored vodka or whiskey (oh, the humanity!) or boiling boar bones in our syrup (yup, that’s been done.) Nope, a good quality bottle of root beer (we used IBC) was all we needed.  On its own, the root beer didn’t provide the level of sweetness required, so we combined it with sugar to create an easy 1:1 simple syrup.

In assembling the drink, we looked to heighten and bind the bourbon-root beer mixture by muddling some orange and lemon peel alongside the mint.  The final modifier was to bring in the peach note often found in juleps via peach bitters.

[ultimate-recipe id=”8421″ template=”default”]



Here then is a julep that’s simultaneously playful and serious.  The root beer, peach, and citrus oils add layers that allow the bourbon to shine and a smile to grow at the sides of your mouth.  Superflat? Sure but better said: Super delicious. And we think that’s what really hits the (Maker’s) mark.  As for the name — “Root” for the root beer and “58” for the year in which Maker’s was founded.  Combined, we think they lead the way to a delicious derby day.


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Painkiller Peeps http://12bottlebar.com/2015/04/painkiller-peeps/ http://12bottlebar.com/2015/04/painkiller-peeps/#comments Fri, 03 Apr 2015 14:30:04 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com//?p=3296 While some may choose to debate the Christian versus pagan symbolism and circumstance surrounding the Easter holiday, we at 12 Bottle Bar instead turn our sights on that most eternal of vernal demagogues:  the PEEP®.  Whether you are in the love-em or hate-em camp when it comes to PEEPS®, we’re certain that you’ll appreciate the question that begat today’s Easter post:  Could we booze “peeps” up?  The answer proved to be simple, yet eloquent:  Hell, yeah.

Of course, we first had to lay out the challenge before us and define what would constitute success:

  • The “peeps” had to use a real cocktail as their base liquid, and one which tasted good.
  • They had to have appropriate “peep” shapes, colors, and consistency.

That was it.  But before we get to how things turned out – let’s turn back the clock, 12BB style, and take a trip we like to call “The Rise of the Planet of the PEEPS®.”

The no-so-long history of those little yellow squishy chicks began a hundred years ago, in 1910, when Russian immigrant Sam Born stepped onto U.S. soil and began to get busy in the candy-making trade.  Within a few short years, Born revolutionized the industry.  He created “jimmies” (those little chocolate sprinkles),  the hard chocolate coating on ice cream bars, and, in 1916, a machine to insert sticks into lollipops (parents out there – imagine lollipops without sticks and all the gooey little hands grabbing for everything in sight).  In a bit of obvious marketing pun-fun/genius, Born opened his first confection store in New York (1917 – with all that lollipop stick money) with a sign proclaiming everything inside “Just Born!”, a name which stuck and which the company still bears today.

In 1953, Just Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company, a jelly bean maker that had a sideline making marshmallow chicks for Easter.  The Rodda process of hand-piping each bird was laborious at best, so within a year, Just Born mechanized the manufacture of PEEPS® and , by 1960, expanded the line to include snowmen for Christmas as well as pumpkins and cats for Halloween.  Today, PEEPS® obviously come in many more styles than those – chocolate dipped, chocolate coated, and sugar-free variations have joined the ranks of chicks,  bunnies, pumpkins, ghosts, cats, Christmas trees, stars, reindeer, snowmen, gingerbread men, teddy bears, hearts, and “I (Heart) You” shapes.  Since 1999, Just Born has been actively shipping to 20 markets around the globe and their products are available to 1.5 billion people worldwide (that’s about one-quarter of the planet’s population).

So, now that we knew where baby PEEPS® came from (right here in the US of A), the question was how to make our cocktail peeps (the question of why should be obvious).  First, we needed to use a drink as our base – a drink which not only had the right alcohol-to-not-alcohol ratio but one which, most importantly, would taste good in marshmallow form.  Using our standard and reliable marshmallow recipe (included below), we needed 1 cup of liquid.  As marshmallows are basically just whipped gelatin and sugar, we turned to Gary Regan’s guidelines for jelly shots, which call for 7 to 9 ounces of liquid, of which no more than 1/3 is alcohol.  One drink on our list met all the requirements:  the Painkiller. One recipe made enough liquid, the alcohol proportion was spot-on, and the flavors would taste great in squishy chick form.

We did make a few small modifications to our base Painkiller, however.  Purely in the name of consistency, we replaced the Coconut Milk Syrup with über-trendy coconut water (we used “ONE” brand).  We also cut back the Rum to 2 ounces (although, in hindsight, 3 ounces would have been fine), and after we mixed the drink, we left it in the fridge for a few hours, let the pulp separate further, and strained it a final time through a fine filter.  As the marshmallow recipe calls for water, we wanted something as close to water in consistency as possible.

Painkiller for Marshmallows
3 oz Amber Rum (specifically, Pusser’s, if you’re worried about getting sued)
4 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Coconut Water
1 oz Orange Juice

The second bullet above was the trickiest one.  Getting the color of PEEPS® is easy, you just buy the appropriately colored sanding sugar at a cake supply store, or as we did, just buy regular colored “cookie decorating” sugar and give it a spin in the food processor until powdery in consistency.  A point of note here, too, is that even though our Painkiller drink is the requisite dark-rum-and-juice color, there’s so much sugar in the resulting marshmallows, they come out white.  We could have added yellow or pink food coloring to the mix, but by keeping the white base, we were able to cut the same batch into multiple shapes and color them afterward.

As for the shapes themselves, PEEPS® come either in the traditional piped chick shape or a cut shape.  Piping marshmallows makes them lighter in consistency, so we were initially going to go that route, using this Martha Stewart recipe.  Unfortunately, most of the people who commented on the piped method complained of the overall difficulty, so we passed.  We also contemplated adding egg whites to our mix, which increases the loft, but after sampling a packet of the cut, not-piped, PEEPS® bunnies, we felt that our standard marshmallow recipe, without being piped and without egg whites, would do the job just fine.  The shapes we ultimately went with were simply based upon the cookie cutters we could find (in this case, mini-size Wilton-brand Easter shapes).  The marshmallow can be made in any thickness and cut easily (oil your cutter first), so like Just Born, you can produce these for any occasion.



Covering all of our concerns, off we went to the mixer, and approximately twelve hours later (the peeps need to harden overnight), we had a beautiful slab of Painkiller marshmallow ready for cutting and dusting.  They taste wonderful.  The flavors of the drink are all there, if much more subtly than we might have expected or even hoped for.  As one drink makes dozens of “peeps”, these aren’t going to get you bombed in the slightest (sorry), but we think the mission was definitely accomplished.

The marshmallow recipe follows, and if you follow the steps (and you have a good candy thermometer and a stand mixer), it’s incredibly easy.  After your first batch, you’ll start to imagine all of the wild flavor and shape combinations you might be able to create – we certainly are.  Anyone up for Chelada clam peeps?  Yeah, probably not.

Here’s some more PEEPS ® fun:

Basic Marshmallow Recipe

2 envelopes gelatin
½ cup Water, clear Fruit Juice, or clear Cocktail (for blooming gelatin)
3 oz Water, clear Fruit Juice, or clear Cocktail (to go into the pot)
1 ½ cup sugar
5 oz light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
A 50/50 powdered sugar and corn starch mixture for dusting

  1. Prepare a pan by lining all surfaces with foil, then spraying foil with non-stick oil and sifting a liberal dusting of your sugar & starch over it. It is preferable that you use a metal pan with very square corners but you can use any shape you want.
  2. Pour the ½ cup juice into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle two envelopes of gelatin over the juice so it will bloom.
  3. Combine 1 ½ cup sugar, 5 oz corn syrup, remaining 3 oz juice and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until it reaches the soft-ball stage (234-240 F).
  4. With the mixer at full speed, pour all of the hot syrup slowly down the side of the bowl. Be careful as the mixture is very liquid-y and hot at this point and some may splash out of the bowl – use a splash guard if you have one.   Whip until the mixture is very fluffy and stiff, about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Pour mixture into the foil-lined pan and smooth with an oiled offset spatula so that it’s level with the top of the rim (it won’t completely fill the pan). Sift the sugar/starch mixture generously over the top of the marshmallow slab then allow the mixture to sit, uncovered at room temp for 10 to 12 hours. (You can cover once the mixture is mostly set and no longer has any warmth to it… I typically cover it after 4 hours)
  6. After the marshmallows have rested for 10-12 hours uncovered, turn it out onto a cutting board or counter, peel off foil and dust with more sugar/starch mixture. Cut in whatever manner you want, making sure to oil any knives or cookie cutters.
  7. Dip all cut edges in sugar/starch mixture and shake off excess. Marshmallows will keep several weeks at room temp in an air-tight container.  FOR PEEPS – Skip this step and see below.


For Peeps

Once you’ve made the above recipe, skipping Step 7, you’re ready to sugar-coat your peeps as follows:

  1. Prepare the cut-out peeps, a bowl of clean water, a plate, a bowl of colored sugar, a spoon, and a cookie drying/cooling rack .
  2. One-by-one, quickly dip the peeps into the bowl of water, then transfer them onto the plate.
  3. Using the spoon, sprinkle enough sugar over them to coat, turning the peep to cover the whole thing.  Handle them delicately.  Note:  Coating them this way keeps the reserve sugar dry.  Wet sugar won’t coat them properly (we learned the hard way).
  4. Once the peep is fully coated, transfer it to the drying rack and repeat with the rest of the peeps until done.
  5. One the peeps are dry, place them in a fine mesh strainer and toss them about to “buff” them – removing any excess sugar clumps.
  6. Add eyes, if desired, with royal icing, fondant, currants, or drageés.
  7. Enjoy!
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Easter Sorbet Punch http://12bottlebar.com/2015/04/easter-sorbet-punch/ http://12bottlebar.com/2015/04/easter-sorbet-punch/#comments Fri, 03 Apr 2015 14:29:07 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com//?p=3312 “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
– George Bernard Shaw

As an only child, I have always attached enormous significance to holidays.  Without siblings or extended family to help create a festive mood, I tend to go a bit overboard.  If one Christmas tree is good, wouldn’t two be amazing?  And why have only one pie at Thanksgiving when I can make two – or even three?  But Easter, well, as an adult, Easter has always stumped me.

Leaving religion out of it for a minute, this is really the only holiday that is purely for children.  As adults, we share presents at Christmas, on Halloween we give out candy and dress for parties, on St. Patrick’s Day we raise a glass.  But Easter.  All that egg coloring, and hiding, and hunting.  All those jelly beans and bunnies and baskets.  Oh my.

The older I got, the more I felt a certain childhood longing every time Easter came around.  I wanted to go on egg hunts and dress up for Easter brunch. I dreamed of excelsior-filled baskets brimming with bunny bevy.  But, as an adult, you sort of have to play it cool at Easter.  Easter is for the little ones.

When my son finally came along, it was a mind-blowing, life-altering experience. Any parent will tell you that a kid changes everything.  What they don’t tell you is this – when you have a child, holidays rock.  I now have carte blanche to decorate with abandon no matter what the time of year.  Our holiday “tree” has a special place in the living room where it stands ready for the seasonal switcheroo. Right now, not surprisingly, it’s decked out in hanging eggs.  (You’re wondering about Cinco de Mayo?  Got it covered – a blow-up cactus (no jokes please) and mini-piñatas.  Olé!)   With my son here, I can act like Martha Stewart on steroids all in the name of being a “good mother”.

Have I taken it too far?  Maybe.  Does my kid appreciate it?  Probably not.  But the truth is, it’s fun — and fun is something that is often forgotten in the midst of adult worries and woes.  And I suddenly realized that the sense of “childhood longing” I was feeling was really just a desire to inject a bit more fun into my life.  Instead of all work, I just wanted a little bit of play.

Even with all the perks of adulthood, do we ever really want to grow up?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps that’s one of the reasons for today’s obscene commercialization of holidays.  Sure it’s gone too far, but, subliminally, it’s tacit permission to not only embrace the celebration hook line and sinker, but to do it like the kids we all used to be.

Which brings me to… punch.  At 12 Bottle Bar, we are obviously big fans of the stuff.  We’ve done more than fifteen posts devoted to various “punches”– from the brunch stalwart Brandy Milk Punch to the pirate favorites Bumbo and Grog to our own non-alcoholic Halloween tipple, the Poison Apple.   Punch is great for a party, encourages socializing over the bowl, and isn’t as alcoholic as a cocktail.  It’s also history in a glass, being the “original” mixed drink long before the cocktail and its brethren came on the scene.

Like all drinks, punch was of its time, a drink that invited long hours lingering over a communal bowl.  As David Wondrich says in his definitive Punch, “It’s not Punch if there’s nobody to drink it.”  But, times changed, people got busy, and standing over the punch bowl looked more like loitering than socializing.  The single-serving punch begat the cocktail and the rest is history.  Folks could now shoot down their booze with efficiency. The allure of punch was lost until recently when bartenders and cocktail mavens came back to their senses and realized that punch is overflowing in merits, the most important of which is – fun.

It’s the “fun” part that concerns me today.  Who among us doesn’t have a childhood punch memory?  Perhaps it’s the “fruit juicy red” flavor of Hawaiian Punch with its appalling 5% fruit juice.  Or, maybe Kool-Aid on a hot summer day.  Or, perhaps you were the wild child who spiked the prom punch bowl.  Whatever your moment, if it’s about punch, it’s got to be good.

For me, it’s those fizzy sherbet concoctions that seemed to be reserved only for birthday parties and holidays.  My favorite was lime sherbet with 7UP, the sherbet bubbling up as the soda hit it, creating that  perfect combination of citrus and sugar.

Historically, the latter potion really isn’t so far removed from some of the original punch recipes.  Switch out the 7UP for Champagne and you’ve essentially got a Champagne Punch.  And the classic Punch à la Romaine combines citrus juices with frothed egg whites, freezing them to create a sherbet-like component to the mix.

So here we are with Easter fast approaching and the need to booze it up.  We wanted to create an Easter punch that combined the best of both worlds – the indulgence of youth (fizzy sorbet) and the privilege of adulthood (boozy goodness).  And we wanted something a bit unorthodox, not just the standard “punch in a cup” recipe, but rather a palate cleanser that could lead us to dessert.   Our Easter Sorbet Punch — a combination of gin, pineapple juice, and mint syrup in frozen form nestled in a pool of Champagne — is something of a deconstruction, but one that works.  Should you be so inclined, a non-alcoholic version requires substituting 7UP or ginger ale for the champagne and, of course, leaving the gin out of the sorbet.

The result, we think, is a wonderful marriage of Easter flavors. But more than that, it satisfies our inner child, the need to be playful even when the weight of adult life intrudes.  This Easter, why not, make some punch and channel your inner Peter Pan?  And, if you think you’re just too sophisticated for this tipple, think again.  As Casey Stengel said, “the trick is growing up without growing old.”


1 cup Water
1 cup Pineapple Juice, strained
1 cup Rich Mint Syrup (see below)
6 oz Dry Gin
Yellow food coloring

Non-Alcoholic Sorbet

1 cup Water
2 cups Fruit Juice, strained
1 cup Rich Simple Syrup (2 parts sugar dissolved in 1 part water)

1. Stir together all ingredients to gently combine.
2. (Optional) Add four or more drops food coloring to achieve desired brightness.
3. Transfer to a non-reactive container and freeze until frozen
4. Scoop the frozen mixture into a blender and blend until smooth
5. Return the mixture to the freezer container and freeze until needed


Rich Mint Syrup
Cover a handful of fresh mint leaves with rich (2 parts sugar, 1 part water) simple syrup.  Leave to stand, covered, overnight.  Remove leaves.

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Get the 12BB Tasting Pack http://12bottlebar.com/2015/03/get-the-12bb-tasting-kit/ Mon, 30 Mar 2015 07:27:16 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com/?p=8392 We’ve always tried to make jumping into the 12 Bottle Bar easy. Today, we’re excited to share that we’ve made it even easier by launching the 5-bottle “Cocktail Unveil” tasting pack in partnership with Flaviar.com, one of the world’s leading spirits clubs. Working in conjunction with Flaviar, we’ve assembled some very, very special bottles:


The pack includes samplings of all five bottles along with a copy of the 12BB book.  If you haven’t picked up a copy, now is the perfect time.  Already have a copy?  Thank you!  The set makes a perfect gift for a cocktail-loving friend.  It’s also a great way to try some great spirits at a reasonable price.  Head on over to Flaviar an dpick up a pack today!

Ring in the New Year http://12bottlebar.com/2014/12/happy-2014/ http://12bottlebar.com/2014/12/happy-2014/#comments Sat, 27 Dec 2014 17:21:51 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com/?p=6537  

It goes without saying that New Year’s and Champagne go together like good intentions and broken resolutions.  If you’re looking for a way to make things a little more interesting than just popping the cork on the bubbly, we suggest the following:

Champagne Cocktail
There is no easier drink to make than a champagne cocktail.  Add the sugar cube to a flute glass, dash in the bitters, top with something sparkling. Both white sugar and brown sugar work equally well here, and feel free to experiment with any and all bitters.  If you’re hosting a party, laying out a selection of bitters is a fun way to allow your guests to play mixologist.

1 sugar cube
4 dashes of bitters

1.  Add the sugar cube to a champagne flute.
2. Dash in the bitters, coating the sugar cube.  Let sit for a minute so that the sugar can absorb the bitters.
3. Fill the flute with the champagne

French 75
The great thing about a French 75 — traditionally made with gin or brandy (where it’s called a French 125) — is that it is really a basic sour at heart and it lends itself to all manner of sour variations — adding a few dashes of bitters or switching out the main spirit with whiskey, vodka, or whatnot.

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces liquor (gin or brandy are traditional)

1. Add the lemon juice, simple syrup, and spirit to a mixing glass.  Shake vigorously with ice cubes for 15 seconds.
2. Strain the drink into a champagne flute
3. Fill the flute with the Champagne.
4. Gently stir to combine.

French 75 Punch
This is a batched version of the one-off French 75 recipe.  In lieu of the dilution which results from shaking, we add cold water to the the mix, creating a proper sour base, and then pour in the sparkling right before the guests arrive.

6 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces simple syrup
12 ounces liquor (gin or brandy are traditional)
8 ounces cold water
32 ounces Champagne
Ice ring or block

1. Add ice to a large punch bowl.
2. Add the lemon juice, simple syrup, spirit, and water to the bowl. Stir to combine.
3. Add the champagne.  Gently stir to combine.

Yield:  Sixteen 4 ounce servings

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TABASCO: The Eye Opener http://12bottlebar.com/2014/11/tabasco-the-eye-opener/ Sat, 29 Nov 2014 09:29:02 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com/?p=8370  

Quick — name a drink that uses TABASCO.

I’m going to take a wild guess and say you offered the Bloody Mary. Possibly the Snapper or the Caesar. Or, if you’ve built an appreciation for cocktailia arcana, you might have conjured up a Bullshot or Praire Oyster. Whatever your choice was, it certainly had something in common with all other famous TABASCO drinks, beyond the hot sauce itself, of course. Your choice was a restorative.

In our previous post, we talked a bit about the stomach-settling, appetite-promoting qualities of the chili pepper family. It should come as little surprise then that the place where these qualities are most needed is the very same place you’re likely to find TABASCO applied in alcoholic drinks. That place would be the land of the hair-of-the-dog. Whether you’re enjoying a brunch with friends or reaching for a little assistance with last night’s hangover, the combination of hot peppers, herbal notes, and a small-to-medium serving of alcohol can be just the thing to set the world right again.


For years, one of our favorite places to enjoy brunch and a Soju Bloody Mary has been the Ramos House Cafe in San Juan Capistrano, California. Maybe it’s the Orange County location, but the Ramos feels like the perfect Disneyland restaurant — charming, staffed with cool, beautiful people, and adjacent to a major attraction, namely the Pacific Surfliner Amtrak line. Take the train down, hop across the tracks, and you’re there.  It would have been natural to wrap up our salute to TABASCO with a Bloody Mary, and the one made by the Ramos House’s Chef/Owner John Q. is among our favorites. He garnishes the drink with pickled green beans and crab claw skewering a Scotch quail egg. Wow, what a drink. Yes, we should be offer you a great Bloody Mary today. But, that would be too easy. Instead, today we’re doing a riff on the Scotch egg which John Q. uses as a garnish for his drink.

When I returned from my visit to Avery Island, a Cajun variation of a Scotch egg was the first recipe I decided upon. If you’re not familiar, a Scotch egg is a hard (or semi-hard) boiled egg encased in a layer of sausage, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. As brunch or corpse-reviver fare goes, it’s hard to beat a Scotch egg, especially if you’re also drinking. When asked about the Bloody Mary/Scotch egg combo by Wine Enthusiast magazine, Chef Q. replied, “Together they will erase most any hangover.”  Along with chili peppers, eggs are a great post-drinking binge restorative. An article found in The Times of India offers that “eggs contain cysteine which helps break down the acetaldehyde (a by-product of alcohol metabolism) content in the body.” Then, you have the protein of the sausage, which helps restore amino acids depleted by the alcohol. On every front, the Scotch egg is helping you get back on your feet.

Of course, if we couldn’t do a Bloody Mary today, we sure enough couldn’t do your run-of-the-mill Scotch egg. We needed something more 12 Bottle Bar, and of course, since we’re celebrating TABSCO, something way more Cajun. Our first step was to replace the standard hard boiled egg with a pickled egg.   Pickled eggs are old-timey bar food, and rightfully so (see eggs and alcohol, above). Moreover, they are delicious. For our standard pickled eggs, we add sliced jalapenos and some ginger.   Here, we replace all the herbs and flavorings with a bit of TABASCO — the Chipotle variety, to be exact — which does all the spice and depth-of-flavor delivery for us. The Chipotle adds a warmth which perfectly complements the richness of the egg.

The next change was to substitute the any-old sausage called for in many Scotch egg recipes with a great Cajun boudin. Comprised chiefly of pork and rice with bits of liver and blood, Cajun boudin (not to be confused with the French variety of the same name) is a wonder — rich, hearty, and just spicy enough.   Like most great Cajun food, making boudin is a balance of carefully harmonizing ingredients and good old gut know-how. Not having the latter, we sought out someone who did (you can also find boudin online).  Louie’s of Mar Vista is the place our Cajun friends make a pilgrimage to on Sundays to exchange cries of “Geaux Saints!” Chef/Owner John Atkinson is not only one of the more gracious chefs we’ve met, he also makes some amazing Southern fusion food, a fact we learn when we visited the restaurant for a Museum of the American Cocktail event focused on the drinks of New Orleans. Within an hour of leaving a message for Chef Atkinson, he respond that he had house made boudin on hand and would happily provide me with what I needed. If you live in the Los Angeles area and haven’t made a trip to Louie’s, do yourself a favor. Chef’s boudin follows the traditional profile; “It’s not so much a recipe as a mixture of those things (pork, rice, liver, blood, spices),” he texted me. “Make what you like and always respect the protein”.

If making a Scotch egg seems daunting at all, it shouldn’t. Nothing could be easier. Simply roll the hard boiled (or pickled) egg in flour, wrap it in a patty made of the sausage (the sausage should be raw and uncased), coat the sausage in bread crumbs, and fry. Here, the TABASCO Chipotle in the pickled egg and the boudin have done almost all the seasoning work for you; all that you need to do is assemble.  Traditionally, you might pair a Scotch egg with a mustard sauce or remoulade. In order to counter the inherent spice of the eggs, we offer a tamer, brighter sauce here — and work in a bit of one of our favorite TABASCO varieties, Sweet and Spicy.

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Is the Scotch egg the prefect hangover cure? When combined with the proper re-constitutional, it just might be. Even if it doesn’t perform miracles, it certainly makes the process of recovery a great deal more enjoyable.

TABASCO – One Drop Works Wonders http://12bottlebar.com/2014/11/tabasco-one-drop-works-wonders/ Fri, 28 Nov 2014 08:34:29 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com/?p=8345 I am stuffed; stuffed like a turkey. If you ask me, we have Thanksgiving all wrong. Sure, we remember to be grateful for the people and things we have — that takes little effort. It’s the meal that’s always puzzled me.   If your family boasts 10 or more, a large feast makes sense. Perhaps. I just have trouble appreciating all the days of cooking and all the days of cleaning that a traditional holiday meal entails — just for a fleeting half hour or so of enjoyment followed by longer-lasting gastric discomfort.

For the most part, it’s the heaviness of the food which troubles me. Rich turkey, bready stuffing, buttery mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, candied carrots, corn, rolls –all followed by the pumpkin pie, king of the pie density award.   I can feel the tryptophan settling in as I type.  All that food kills me because I love it way too much. At some point each year, I find myself struggling to find a perfect wedge of unoccupied plate onto which I can cram the next item — do the green beans go between the corn and the mashed potatoes or nestled among the carrots and the stuffing? When I was younger, I could handle seconds, even thirds, but today, one reasonably overcrowded helping is more than enough. Long before the pie, I’m wrecked.

I think the problem falls squarely on the way the Thanksgiving meal is served. There are no courses, no pacing. It’s all just a race to get some corn before Uncle Phil commandeers it all, and a shovel of bite after bite.   Enough, I say. Let’s relax a bit, turn off the TV, and bring some civilization back to the family gathering. Today, I propose not a radical reshuffling but rather a momentary pause in the carb overload. A brief respite, if you will.

We all know that the European folk who settled this country were more than anxious to hightail it out of Dover and leave the Old World long behind.   Among the reminders of home they forgot on the dock was the concept of the intermezzo — or mid-meal palate cleanser. If you’re not familiar, a palate cleanser is a small course served to clean and refresh the palate after a relatively strong, fatty, or unique flavor, like fish or even chocolate. Traditionally, palate cleansers are a light, tart sorbet, tea, or salad. Beyond reinvigorating the mouth, they can help promote digestion and stimulate the appetite to continue eating . Most importantly, they are exactly what we Americans need inserted into the big Turkey Day meal — right between the main plate and the pie, I’d say.

We’ve spent the first three posts in our salute to TABASCO diving into each of the famous pepper sauce’s individual ingredients — peppers, salt, and vinegar. In the final two parts, we will look at the practical applications of that little bottle of red sauce.  (Full disclosure: in exchange for the opportunity to visit TABASCO headquarters, we agreed to produce four recipes and were compensated to do so).  The cornerstone of TABASCO is, of course, the red pepper. It’s what immediately comes to mind when the brand is mentioned. There’s a lot of talk today in the natural medicine circles of the benefits of capsicum extract — capsicum being the fancy word for chili peppers, like those in TABASCO. DoctorOz.com tells us that “Capsicum stimulates metabolism by activating a chain of events in the body that help to melt fat and break it down in the body. It activates the sympathetic nervous system that is associated with thermogenesis, which speeds the body’s oxidation of fat.”  Not to be outdone, The Assembly of the Church/University of the Universe — a site we just found, but boy is it all kinds of awesome — has an entire page dedicated to the healing powers of capsicum, including wisdom nuggets such as “The reason Mexican’s [sic] do not get sick from drinking polluted water is because they eat hot red peppers daily.” Who can argue with that? Like Dr. Oz, the good Church/University peddles capsicum remedies. Seeking a more neutral point-of-view, we hit WebMD, which, in short, tells you that capsicum is used to cure pretty much anything and everything.  Even our friends at TABASCO espouse the curative powers of the pepper and their particular expression of it.



To be fair, that ad is from 1894 (many thanks to the good Shane Bernard, McIlhenny Co. archivist), and the company makes no such claims today. Still, even if you don’t believe in natural/alternative medicines, you’ll probably support the idea that a little heat or sourness really gets the old saliva going.   Our recipe today does not allege to cure all which ails you, but it will help you regain your taste buds and settle your grumbling tummy a bit. The package is simple — a cool, refreshing sorbet with just enough heat to let you know you’re still alive. It’s easy to throw together and good for any meal at any time of year.  And, if you’re feeling more adventurous, mixing a scoop of the sorbet into a glass of sparkling wine for a delicious, tangy spritz.


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This is the first recipe in this series in which we’ve used Original Red, as the traditional TABASCO is known. For 125 years, it was the only TABASCO pepper sauce variety produce by the company, but today the line has expanded to 7 core flavors (not counting specialty or trial bottlings).  In a previous installment, we looked at the pepper plants that go into TABASCO and how they are grown. After the plants have matured for two years, the fruit is ready to harvest , which is done by hand. The peppers are mashed, mixed with Avery Island salt, and sent home to Louisiana.



When the mash arrives, every barrel is personally inspected by CEO Tony Simmons or Senior Vice President Harold “Took” Osborn. They are looking for pH, pungency, dryness, and viscosity. Barrels which pass inspection are transferred to white oak ex-whiskey barrels (which have been de-charred) and put up for as long as three years (and much longer for the exclusive Family Reserve). Due to the high acidity of the mash and the natural fermentation which occurs, all barrels are re-banded and topped with a layer of salt prior to storage.


One of my favorite moments during our visit to McIlhenny headquarters was being inducted into the “Not So Ancient Order of the Not So Silver Spoon”.   Joining the Order consists of a single rite of passage: dipping a not-so-silver-spoon into a barrel of unprocessed pepper mash (many degrees hotter than the end product) and enjoying a big bite of the mash. You only live once.

After aging, the mash is combined with vinegar and blended in single 2,000 gallon batches. Approximately four weeks of stirring later, the sauce is strained and bottled. 750,000 bottles are produced each day and distributed to more than 180 countries worldwide.



From a tiny pepper plant to the final product, it’s hard for me to see a bottle of TABASCO today without thinking of where it came from — of the simple, honest work which goes into each batch.  One particular image of Avery Island comes to mind — an image which, had I not been fortunate enough to visit McIlhenny HQ, would be impossible to conjure. I think of this image as the true soul of TABASCO, a soul which a 5oz glass bottle can’t truly capture. A soul more akin to a great bourbon or cognac.  See, when you enjoy a dash of Original Red or another variety, this is where it came from —



A Perfect Garnish: We garnished today’s recipe with a dried lime wheel we received from Simple & Crisp. The line of products include citrus, apple, and pear crisps, which are truly nothing more than dried fruit wheels, some sweetened with cane juice. The price of $4.99 for 15 wheels may seem a bit high at first, but when you consider the time and energy cost to dehydrate your own, it’s a decent bargain. In the sorbet, the crisp makes a perfect garnish.  Aside from being beautiful, one bite perfectly complements idea of the palate cleanser.

Izze Neargroni http://12bottlebar.com/2014/11/izze_neargroni/ Thu, 27 Nov 2014 19:31:09 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com/?p=8332 With a name like 12 Bottle Bar, you’d think people would understand what it is we do around here. The concept’s not that difficult to grasp — 12 bottles and some mixers. Indeed, you would think. Still, on a daily basis, we get pitched all manner of vile concoctions (“Vodka made from celebrity’s doggie chew toys!” — no, not really), and the process of a polite decline has slowly turned to active ignoring. We don’t want your pie-flavored anything (except for pie-flavored pie, because that would be ridiculous to refuse).   Got it?

Having vented that, there are products with which we really want to play around. Being the kind of parents with their priorities somewhat out of whack, we’ve let our son taste absinthe but Coke and Pepsi are off the menu (there’s no HFCS in wormwood, if you’re curious). But much as the heart wants what it wants, a young boy wants sugary drinks. Seeking out a reasonable alternative, we found Izze drinks, which boast nothing more than fruit juice and sparkling water. Junior loves ’em for what they have got, and mom loves ’em for what they have not. And that’s the short story of how Izze because the Solmonson household’s go-to pop.

It was a few months back that a kind representative from Izze reached out to us, asking if we might feature a couple of recipes from Alie Ward & Georgia Hardstark, hosts of the Cooking Channel’s Tripping Out with Alie & Georgia and Izze ambassadors.   We said no, as we do. The recipes actually sounded quite nice, it was just that both featured bottles outside of our 12. To clarify, we didn’t say no exactly, we said “No, but how about we send you some recipes?” I’m sure the grammar was cleaner, but that was the gist of it. With Izze already being a product we kept in the fridge, the challenge was an obvious and fun one.  Not long after receiving an assortment of Izze flavors to try (most of which were drunk well before any recipes were conceived), we snuck some of the Blackberry variety into our Swamp Cooler. Today, however, we give Izze its own proper post and craft a version of a drink which is an obvious (and reasonable) omission from the 12BB canon: the Negroni.

Now, there’s a reason you won’t find the Negroni on this site, and that reason is Campari or any similar bitter liqueur — it’s something that’s simply not in the 12 bottle pantry. As luck would have it, however, we’re big fans of the Negroni, and in the five years that this site has been around, we keep meaning to do some 12BB-friendly version of the Negroni. Well, today’s the day.

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With Thanksgiving upon us, we’ve been thinking a lot about the flavors that complement the big meal so well. Cranberry, orange, and pomegranate come readily to mind. Gazing into our Izze sample pack, a nice bottle of Sparkling Pomegranate raised its hand. Nice, but it wasn’t bitter enough in itself to bring the right profile to the drink. A dash of orange bitters provided the needed assist. At a standard 1:1:1 ratio, the drink was too gin heavy, so we scaled it back slightly to reach the proportions you see here and added a bit of orange liqueur to mimic the Campari. Traditionally, we prefer our Negronis “up” (stirred, strained, no ice), but the ice helps the drink keep a nice fizz.

Before you dive into that bowl of candied yams, why not take a moment to sip a little aperitif — something to get your stomach acids churning before the melee? The Izze Neargroni is nice prelude to Turkey Day, and another example of how you can have that favorite drink while still keeping your inventory under control.

Product Review: One Juicer to Rule Them All? http://12bottlebar.com/2014/11/product-review-one-juicer-to-rule-them-all/ http://12bottlebar.com/2014/11/product-review-one-juicer-to-rule-them-all/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:11:39 +0000 http://12bottlebar.com/?p=8326 A few months back, the kind folks at Canada’s Vintage Kitchen Appliance sent us a sample of “The Press”, their homage to the classic discontinued Wear-Ever juice press. Today, however, we’re going to talk about the Land Rover North American Specification (NAS) Defender 110 instead, because we have a point to make. At least, we hope we do.

Released to the States for the single year of 1993, the NAS Defender was ripped straight from the pages of road-less (or never)-traveled adventure porn.   Offered in just one color — Alpine White — and factory-stocked with an exterior roll cage and brush guard, the 110 promised go-anywhere, tackle-anything functionality and a style much more Papa Hemingway than the Rover Discovery’s soccer mom. Whatever the journey may hold, the 110 would be there for you — an offer which came at a cost of (then) approximately $40,000. The price was much greater than a UK-spec Defender, but not out of line with the total sum you’d be set back bringing an English model into America. The investment was likely a good one as, in the twenty-some years since its release, prime examples of the NAS 110 have commanded as much as $150,000. The takeaway for the guy who still pines for the car almost daily (that would be me) is: “Go ahead and dream – maybe you’ll get the next one.”

There’s always a big fish that gets away — and chasing it is often more fun than catching it. Right, Ahab? I’ve consigned myself to the fact that the NAS 110 will never sit in my garage, but that’s okay, because there are other prizes to be found there. Some of those prizes are other vehicles, but most are smaller relics from “the good old days” because “they don’t make things like they used to”. The cocktail world seems hell-bent on shining light into every nostalgic corner and uncovering some long-forgotten gem or other. If a product can’t track its roots back to early Sumerian mead pottery, well, then it’s not worthy or just somebody trying to turn a quick buck. Older is not only better, it’s the only way.   At least, as Taylor Swift tells us, “that’s what people say. Umm hmm.”

Like the Defender 110, the Vintage Kitchen Press harkens back to a simpler time when products where built to last. It comes in just one color, which we’ll call Arctic White until they correct us. Like the 110, it has lots of aluminum parts which are designed to do a job and do it very, very well. Sturdy and functional are the orders of the day. Unlike clamshell presses (a favorite of ours), the Vintage Press is designed to be operated with a single hand. Whereas the clamshells require brute force, the heft of the Press promises to provide a good portion of the muscle. It claims to be AK47-easy to clean. It claims to be both fundamentally practical and attractive, in a cool retro way. Does it deliver?

Hands down, our favorite juicer is our electric centrifugal model, which boasts the power to provide you with a refreshing glass of diamond nectar should you be inclined to ask it. Given our limited counter space and the time it takes to clean, the centrifuge doesn’t see daily use. It’s also not right for every job. We have a collection of designer reamer-style juicers from companies like Alessi, but these are pulled out only in a pinch — serving primarily as decoration (they are cute). No, the workhorses around our kitchen are the enamel-coated clamshell presses, which come in multiple sizes, can be had for under $10, and — best of all — extract lovely oils from citrus peel along with the juice.

Like the clamshell style, the Vintage Kitchen Press — hence the name — presses the juice out of the fruit, and, true to promise, offers easy one-handed juicing. The heft and balance of the Press also makes juicing a slightly easier to use — something to consider if strength is an issue.   Unlike a clamshell juicer, the Vintage Kitchen model boast a bigger “basket” — meaning you can juice more at once — and a built-in reservoir with an easy-pour spout.   It’s also damned easy to clean — nothing seems to stick to the FDA-approved powder coating.



Over the course of the past few months, the Vintage Kitchen Press has become a 12 Bottle Bar staple. If ever we need to juice more than half a lemon, it’s our go-to tool. With its rugged “juice anything” construction and nothing-more-than-what-it-takes-to-do-the-job styling, the Press is the NAS Defender 110 of juicers. That’s high praise — or is it? As wonderful as the Vintage Kitchen Press is, it comes with one glaring flaw that prevents us from recommending it — the price. Those clamshell citrus presses? You can buy ten or more of them for one Vintage Press. At roughly US $85 — plus another $20 for shipping — the Press, like the Land Rover, suffers from being just too expensive.   We love it, it’s great, everything they said is true — we’d just never buy it at its current price.

When Vintage Kitchen sent us the Press, they informed us that it was designed after a very popular, discontinued style of press — the Wear-Ever (they didn’t offer this, but it’s easy to suss out). With just a few clicks of the mouse, dozens of vintage Wear-Ever presses can be found on sites like Etsy, eBay, and Goodwill.com. Best of all, these go for as little as a clamshell press (but mostly around $20). Given that the original presses were cast aluminum, the odds of finding one in very good condition are very much in your favor.

If the price of the Vintage Press happened to be $40, we’d be handling them out to friends. As it is, the Vintage Kitchen Press seems unfortunately relegated to wedding registries and Christmas wish lists — although, it’s going to have to muscle aside the Defender on mine.

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