Behind Bars: Tiki Classics

With "Tikitober" just around the bend, we figured it was perfect timing to kick of a new guest blog series we call "Behind Bars," where we spend a little time with some of our favorite local bartenders. 

For this first installment of Behind Bars, we were lucky enough to hang out with Ben Clemons from No. 308, who's been kicking ass with his Tiki Tuesday events all summer long. We asked him to share his thoughts on classic Tiki drinks and five of his favorite recipes. 

I don't even know where to begin discussing my adoration for tiki drinks. The taste? Yep. The history? Yep. The beautiful colors, glassware and garnish? Yep. Yep. Yep. I think what first really attracted me to it all was, honestly, how unabashedly kitschy the whole culture around it is. See, in a world where everyone is rapidly taking more and more aspects of life so seriously (almost to an unheard of level of pretension and scrutiny), Tiki is just happy. It's relaxed. It's anything but serious. In that, I somehow find solace. It may always be 5 o'clock somewhere, but it's always sunny in a scorpion bowl.

I started Tiki Tuesday at the beginning of the summer for a few reasons. Tuesdays at the bar seemed, well, boring. I realized there weren't any weekly parties to compete with, no crazy happy hour specials at neighboring bars promising 3 free drinks and a sandwich with every purchase of a draft beer. Couple that with my growing desire to see Nashville drinking more rum and the decision was simple, Tiki Tuesday.

I dove head first straight down the rum rabbit hole. I sifted through blogs, books, articles and anything else I could find in print pertaining to the brighter side of cocktail culture. Unearthing original recipes became an adventure. Learning the various cultural ties they had with specific rums, bars and people reminded me just how remarkable and unique of a spirit rum is. Trader Vic, Beach Bum Berry, Mai Kai, The Soggy Dollar Bar, just some of the legendary pioneers in the great Tiki crusades.

 Ben Clemons of No. 308

Ben Clemons of No. 308

One Tuesday, a few weeks into our tiki party, I noticed something fascinating. The night itself was almost a sociology experiment. See, normally a bar sees a wide range of spirits being consumed. Tequila drinkers talking with whiskey drinkers. You get the picture. This dichotomy can sometimes lend itself to awkward "vibes" in a controlled environment. Not at a tiki bar though. As I looked around the room and out in the patio I saw smiling faces, jovial conversations. People. Having. A. Good. Time. And THATS why I love tiki drinks.

Enough talking though, here's a few well known classics in their non bastardized by American culture form...

the big orange

Sip on this! Easy summertime drinkin' with the "Big Orange"

With a holiday weekend ahead, it's the unofficial kickoff of summer, which means long days on the lake with drink in hand. Lucky for us, this guest post from Jacob Jones at Mountain should get you set for the summer ahead.

When I was young, my family would take the drive once a year from our tiny farm town in Indiana to Dale Hollow Lake on the Kentucky/Tennessee border. Dale Hollow meant all things summer to me back then. We'd spend a week water skiing, swimming, tubing and staying up all night. My parent's had a crew of friends with tons of kids combined. For an 8 year old kid, it felt pretty much like middle American paradise.

For the adults though, it meant letting loose from the grind of work weeks, playing cards and getting drunk. My parents were fairly young, so they were still able to throw down every once in a while. They'd listen to The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty all night. They got louder and louder by the hour. They danced. They got smashed at least one night of the trip. Who could blame them? 

Back then, everything felt very blue collar. It's been my experience that blue collar and middle class people are by far the most fun to party with. My folks and their friends weren't fancy, but they made strong drinks and held their own. 

They had this one concoction called "Big Orange" or "Big O," as it came to be known. They'd make a big batch in the morning and sip this stuff all day. The "Big O" days on the lake were always the most fun to watch. My dad would jump off 40 foot cliffs into the lake. The entire house boat of adults sang John Mellencamp at the top of their lungs. The Big O flowed. All before four in the afternoon.

The kick in "Big O" was gin and, this being gin month at 3st Of The Month, I thought I'd share this little Indiana secret with you.

"Big Orange"

1 Handle of Seagrams Gin (Yes, it needs to be Seagrams. Nothing fancy here)
2 Two Liter bottles of Mountain Dew
6 Oranges
6 Limes
6 Lemons

Squeeze all the fruit and combine all ingredients in a giant bowl. Pour over ice and sip.

I know what you're thinking....Mountain Dew, really? Really? Yep. This isn't mixology. Trust me. 

Make some "Big O" next time you hit the lake and you'll have stories for months. Its a boozy, citrusy, caffeinated experience that goes perfectly with Bruce Springsteen, sunburns and the best times of your life. Oh, and go ahead and buy some Advil.

 

the go-to

It seems we all have that one 'go-to' drink. In this guest blog post from Henry Pile of Mountain, you'll read about his. And it's damn good.

What’s your go-to drink? You know, the one you turn to when friends stop by. The one that everyone asks you to make. The one you love to drink on a warm saturday afternoon.

I love a cold can of beer. Zero maintenance. Easy to keep at the ready. Portable. Reliable. But, it lacks imagination. My can of beer is as good as yours or anyone else’s. There’s nothing special about it.

The next is a “something and something.” Think of this as Gin and Tonic or Whiskey and Lemonade or Rum and Coke. I think Peggy Olson said it best when considering Mountain Dew and vodka as  “an emergency.” A last resort. Desperate.

If you come to my house, you’ll drink an ice cold Old Fashioned. That’s my go-to. But, in making this drink over the years, I’ve found a few derivations that make it uniquely my own.

I don’t usually have simple syrup on hand, but I always have sugar cubes. I drop one in the bottom of a rocks glass and three dashes of Bitter Truth lemon bitters.

I smash the sugar and spread it around the bottom and side of the glass. Then I add one dropper of Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters around the sides.

Drop in a  full scoop of ice.

Add ½ ounce of Cointreau.

Add 2 ounces of Belle Meade Bourbon

Grab that long mixing spoon and stir 40-50 turns. This helps melt the ice and mellow the drink. It also blends the sugar on the bottom.

Lastly, cut a slice of lemon peel and rub the rim.

From time to time, I’ll try a variation (orange, different bitters, Rye…), but this is my go-to. You should have one as well. But don’t rush into it. Let the trial and error be a fun process. Hell, you’re drinking! Relax and enjoy it.

Shots

We all know how dangerous shots can be. But with this guest blog post from Henry Pile of Mountain, you might just learn a few tips that make them a little more appealing.

If you’ve been to a bar, college, a wedding, a bachelor party, a house party, a fraternity party, a sorority party, a campfire party... you’ve probably taken shots. You probably swore off tequila for years. You might have fought a wall after too much Jagermeister. You might have contemplated the flakes of gold in Goldschlager. You might gag at the sight of a Fireball machine.

You’re doing it wrong.

Here’s how to take shots and survive.

Be the guy who buys the shots.

Surprising simple, but it you control the flow, then you pick the booze. Pick booze you like.

 

Just say no.

It’s ok to turn down a shot early on, but if you have taken shots with this crew before and you are currently drinking, this strategy won’t hold up for long.

 

Play to your strength.

If shots are dropped in front of you despite your protests, take advantage of distractions. I have absolutely tossed two ounces of cheap booze on the floor when everyone else was heads back.

 

It’s just a hangover.

Whatever happened to adventure? Since when did risky drinking becomes such a bad thing? Eight shots?! Go for it! But don’t drink ANYTHING ELSE BUT WATER. There’s a difference between a hangover and a visit to the ER.


At the end of the day, people are drinking together to celebrate or commiserate. You are part of this group because you are valued. No one is trying to kill you (hopefully) so participate and have fun, but be wise and don’t lose your head.

141st Running of the Kentucky Derby

The tradition, the horses, the hats and the BOOZE of the Kentucky Derby

With the Kentucky Derby coming up this weekend, it's only fitting to dedicate a quick guest blog post from Tom Melchior of Mountain to the tradition...and the drinking.

For a native Louisvillian, skipping Derby Weekend is the worst. The simple energy in the city during the weekend is unrivaled, tons of folks who are extremely proud of an incredible tradition, the greatest two minutes in sports. People dress up, wear ridiculous hats, try to meet celebrities, lose money, win money and sit in a ton of traffic. The tradition itself is what makes the event so enticing. I personally love watching an underdog walk away with the $2 Million Dollar guarantee.

I have since moved South and cannot always get back for the races, especially now that we have the 3st tradition in place. Since Sunday will be full of mezcal, tequila and overall south of the border vibes, sit on the porch this weekend with a Mint Julep and watch the Kentucky Derby. Since 1938, people have been celebrating the races with this cocktail.

The Mint Julep is a quintessential southern cocktail. An extremely simple, yet delicious drink. On Derby Day, over 150,000 Mint Juleps will be served at Churchill Downs, traditionally always made with Early Times. Take our recipe below and make some cocktails for friends on Derby Day. Write out all the horses names on pieces of paper, put them in a hat and have folks put in $5 a horse and pick them randomly. Good luck!

Watch the Derby

*Fun Fact,  On Derby Day, you can purchase a special Mint Julep for $1,000 at the races, made with Woodford Reserve inside a pewter numbered mug with a sterling silver Woodford straw. Each cup is hand carved and there are only a few made every year.

city winery brings out the bubbles

With our December 3st of the Month "Bubbles" event at City Winery tonight, we're really getting excited about showcasing dozens of different sparkling wines. What we never expected is that our amazing hosts would be pulling additional bottles from their cellar to share with our members and their guests as well. The following is a guest blog post from City Winery's Wine Director, David Mensch, where you'll certainly see why sparkling wine is so much a part of City Winery.

Sparkling wine at City Winery is not just part of our wine program because it has to be. For me, Champagne and sparkling wine from around the world is an integral part of wine and food pairing.

Everyone's tastes and styles can be represented within a sparkling wine; from a lush Rosé Champagne to a bone dry sparkling Chenin Blanc. You can pair rabbit with a dry Lambrusco and of course the ubiquitous Champagne pairs with basically anything from fried chicken to foie gras.

Sparkling wine can sometimes be overlooked as just something to start with, but for me it is what I power through my dinner with. The thing that makes sparkling wine important to me is the craft that goes into making a Champenoise-style sparkler. The art of blending 50 still wines, hand riddling bottles for 2 years and bottle conditioning for an extra 4 years is something that is uncommon in the wine world. Champagne is the highest elevation of wine art. 

We're very excited to share five of my favorite sparkling wines with the 3st of the Month guests:

Szigeti Sparkling Gruner Veltliner NV

Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut NV

Codorniu Brut "Anna" Cava NV

La Collina Lambrusco NV

Henri Giraud "Espirit du Rose" NV