Category Archives: Consume

I’m Mash, and this is the Manhattan Project.

Hi, I am Wefty’s brother. Wefty has gotten me hooked on Raw Denim, but when I think about the first crafted goods I fell in love with, I don’t think of Denim. I think of Whiskey. Specifically, Bourbon.

Outside of the United States, the word Bourbon on a label may not adhere to the same standard. But in the US, a bottle that says Bourbon on it’s contents are defined by Law:

The contents started off as grains, at least 51% corn, and somewhere in the United States. The mixture of Corn and other grains (wheat, rye, and/or malted barley) is mixed with water. At this point, it is called the Mash. Yeast is added, fermenting the mash into a Wash. At this point, the whiskey is distilled, usually twice, and a clear liquid 65-80% alcohol “high wine” is the result. The high wine is put in a freshly charred oak barrel, and aged for at least three months. If the bottle calls itself Straight Bourbon, it must be aged two years or more. Any Straight Bourbon aged less than four years must specify the age.

Interestingly, Tennessee Whiskey must also meet the standard of Straight Bourbon, although typically makers of Tennessee Whiskey add a step. Prior to aging, the high wine is filtered through sugar maple charcoal. This step is called the Lincoln County Process. Tennessee Whiskey fans claim this improves the flavor.

Canadian, Irish, and Scotch Whiskey’s differ from US-Made whiskey’s in that the there are fewer regulations on the grain content, and that Barrels can be re-used. In fact, many Scotch producers purchase used barrels from Bourbon Makers. Bourbon aficionados claim that they do this to steal Bourbon’s flavor, while Scotch snobs may claim that using fresh barrels taints the whiskey.

Whatever your choice of Whiskey, there are several considerations in picking one out. And when it comes to cocktails, the Manhattan is king. Traditionally, a Manhattan consists of Rye Whiskey or a Rye-heavy Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, and Bitters, garnished with a Maraschino Cherry.

But Wefty and my Parents recently stumbled upon a recipe for the best Manhattan I have ever had. Down in Athens, Georgia, a restaurant called The National began work on the Manhattan Project. And given delicousness and strength of this drink,  it lives up to the name.

The Manhattan Project
2 oz Rye Whiskey (See below for special details)
1 oz Antica Formula Carpano Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Bitters (Rhubarb if you can find it)
3-5 Les Perissiennes Kirsch-Soaked Cherries on a toothpick

The National starts with Old Overholt, an inexpensive Straight Rye Whiskey. They place it in a Mason Jar with Ceylon Tea and Thyme. After infusing, they mix it with Antica Formula Carpano Sweet Vermouth. It is then placed in an oak barrel and drawn off for each drink. The drink is garnished with Semi-Candied, Kirsch-Brandy soaked Cherries. Mom and Dad said the drink was fantastic. The Bartender recomended using Willet Rye Whiskey (a more expensive Rye) if the aging process was too much trouble. Our make-at-home Manhattan Project it is fantastic.

I’ll be joining this blog with my brother. Expect more excitement in the area of Bourbon, Raw Denim, and maybe some Pickles in the future. Oh, and you can call me Mash.

-Mash

Pictures from Cocktailia.com and Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Raw denim is like cabbage

This may sound ridiculous, but cabbage and raw denim have a good bit in common. In fact, I’d argue that a lot of vegetables are similar to their distantly related, cotton-based selvage cousins. Both raw denim and cabbage can teach us a lot about life philosophy. You might be scratching your head, so let me elaborate.




An overview of denim’s aging process:

I don’t think any of us would dispute that raw denim gets better with time; that’s part of its allure. We wait patiently, hoping for beautiful fades and a pair of pants that act less like cloth and more like a second skin. 


Raw denim generally starts out as stiff as a piece of cardboard, or sometimes even a bit more like plywood. With dedication and time, that rough, unforgiving fabric molds to your body, becoming the most comfortable thing you can imagine.


The color starts dark, but changes with time. Oftentimes, it’s so dark that you wonder if it’s even right to call your pants bluejeans. Over time, the color of the indigo in your denim fades, providing a beautiful depth of color that is both interesting and unique.


The jeans to the right are the Sugar Cane Lot 724 (SC40724), which was a model that was never intended to release for sale. They started hard and deep, and with time, became vibrantly blue and ridiculously soft. In fact, these were the softest jeans I’ve ever owned. For more pictures, please see this album.




A comparison to cabbage:


Cabbage also starts out crisp, hard and unforgiving. Raw, fresh cabbage is sulfurous, adding to its harshness. By adding a little salt, sealing it up, and storing it in a cool place for a couple weeks, these harsh sulfury crispness of cabbage dissipates, giving way to the amazing depth of flavor that is sauerkraut. With time, its bright green-white fades to a pleasantly soft yellow.


Like raw denim, no amount of processing can replicate the depth of character that an handcrafted, perfectly aged sauerkraut has. Raw denim’s character comes from the hard work, patience, and dedication of waiting for nature to take its course.


In the case of mass-produced sauerkrauts, most manufacturers cheat the system by taking fresh cabbage and putting it in a solution of water, vinegar, and salt. Real sauerkraut has character because the sour characteristics come from lactobacilli, the same genus of bacteria that makes yogurt sour. This process of natural fermentation takes weeks, and the big producers of sauerkraut don’t have that much time to wait, so they fake it.


Any raw denim enthusiast worth his salt will tell you that using artificial techniques to speed the aging of denim is paramount to cheating. The same is true — without question — for fermented cabbages. For a great instruction on making your own sauerkraut, see this link to Sandor Katz’s website on fermentation.




In summary:


Let nature take its course. Whether its raw cabbage, raw denim, or anything else, the result will show character, patience, and dedication. In an age where society is constantly looking for instant gratification, it’s always good to remember that patience yields superior results.