Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What Is A Moscow Mule?

what is a moscow muleWhat is a Moscow Mule?  If you haven’t come across one before, you are in for a treat!  A Moscow Mule is a vodka-based cocktail, with the addition of spicy ginger beer and lime juice.

The Mule was invented in Manhattan in the 1940s and there are a couple of different stories as to how it came to be.

What Is A Moscow Mule?

History of the Moscow Mule

Wikipedia will tell you that this adult beverage was invented in 1941 at NY’s Chatham Hotel by John G Morgan (whose company had just acquired Smirnoff Vodka) and the owner of the Cock N’ Bull Bar, John G Martin.  Other sources claim that the head bartender of the Cock N’ Bull Bar, Wes Price invented the Moscow Mule in Hollywood.

The copper mugs came from Morgan’s girlfriend who had inherited a copper factory and was having trouble selling the mugs.  The popularity of the copper mugs is attributable to Martin, who was a master at marketing and went around to bars taking pictures of the bartender with a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka in one hand and a copper mug in the other.

Here is what John Martin had to say about inventing the Moscow Mule:

How To Make The Perfect Moscow Mule


  • 2 oz. Smirnoff Vodka
  • 4 oz. Premium Ginger Beer
  • 1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice (or squeeze half of a lime)
  • Garnish: Wedge of Lime
  • Ice (optional)
  • Copper Mug or Collins Glass (AKA a glass tumbler)


  1. Add ice to copper mug or glass followed by the vodka and a slight squeeze of the lime wedge.
  2. Top with premium ginger beer and garnish with a fresh lime wedge.

So it’s very easy to make one, you just have to decide which vodka you prefer to use and which ginger beer.  Check out our post about the best brands of vodka.  As for ginger beer, there are various favorites, try Fever Tree Ginger Beer or Hollows & Fentimann’s is the one that goes into my Moscow Mule.

I haven’t tried the recipe for Moscow Mule in the video below, but making it with a home-made spicy ginger syrup sounds very tempting.  If you make your own, you can also then add as much ginger as you want to, so that you get the perfect level of warming ginger aftertaste for your own palate!

However you decide to make your Moscow Mule, I’d recommend investing in some authentic copper mugs for you and your guests, they sell some great ones at Advanced Mixology. All of their mugs are 100% copper and are available in several different types.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Bell’s Brewery-Craft Brewery Spotlight

logo from bell's brewery I’m trying out a new feature, if you will, on The Craft Joint this week. I’m calling it, maybe a tad generically, Craft Brewery Spotlight. On a completely irregular basis, I’m going to focus on a true craft brewery and their beers. This means I’ll shine the virtual spotlight on Independent Craft breweries. Independent craft breweries are brewers of craft beer do not have over 25% non-craft brewer ownership. This is the Brewer’s Association definition and I’ll go with that since they are the primary industry group for craft beer. So much for laying out parameters. Done. Next.

I know what you’re thinking, “Hey man, you’ve been doing that with your whole, ongoing, thing talking about Yuengling”. True to an extent. That turned into a multi-part history which is still happening. The Craft Brewery Spotlight here on Things Men Buy will be a single installment focus on a different brewery each time. Not sure what the hell it will morph into…guess we’ll figure that out together.

Putting Bell’s Brewery on Display

The first brewer to be put in the spotlight is that longtime Michigan craft stalwart, Bell’s Brewery. Not only has Bell’s owner Larry Bell been pioneering craft beer since 1985 (under the Kalamazoo Brewing Company moniker at that time) when he notably used a 15 gallon soup pot to brew his first craft beer that was commercially available, but he continues to be true to being an independent brewer and continues to innovate.

bell's eccentric cafe arrow signI think it was cool that Bell’s was the first Michigan brewery to open a pub on the premises. That was back in 1993 and they called it the Eccentric Cafe.

Bell’s is not available nationwide, but they’re getting there. They currently distribute their delicious craft beers to 32 states! Not too shabby.

Time for Two Hearted

One of their beers I liked from the very first time I drank one, more than one actually, was their Two bottle and can of bell's two hearted aleHearted Ale. The name comes from a river in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan. It is a great example of an American-style IPA using only Centennial hops. This is one balanced, super drinkable craft beer with a slight punch to it at 7% ABV. Bell’s Two Hearted is available year round.

Hopslam Double IPA Jam

Since I’m a hop head, I have to tout the balls out goodness of Hopslam. The annual release date of this mega-hop bomb is eagerly anticipated by anyone who’s ever poured this liquid heaven down their hopslam double ipathroat. Bell’s Hopslam is a double IPA boasting a 10% ABV and is brewed using 6 different varieties of hops. What’s surprising is that through the massive hop infusion malt still takes a swing and hits your taste buds just right. These brewers know what the hell they are doing!

Porter Up

If you are more prone to dark beers or just want a change-up from all the hop love, knock back a Bell’s Porter. Inbetween a brown ale and a stout, their award-winning Porter gives you a mouthful of roasted barley, coffee, and chocolate. What’s surprising is that a hint of hops somehow makes its way through and does a little dance on your taste buds. Okay, I couldn’t completely abandon my hops. You’re looking at 5.5% ABV with this porter and it is available year round.

Bell’s offers a shit ton of great beers of many varieties available year round and they have seasonals too. Lager of the Lakes, Third Coast Beer, Larry’s Latest, Oberon, and more are part of the Bell’s Brewery lineup. Do yourself a favor and pick some up the next chance you get.

The Craft Joint at Things Men Buy is out. Cheers.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

What Are The Best Brands of Gin?

best brands of ginWhen you want a G & T at the end of a busy day, what are the best brands of gin to make your drink with?

Gin has become an increasingly cool adult beverage to drink, there are local and many craft gins coming onto the market, with different bases of flavor to tempt us.

Of course, there are some fabulous gin-based cocktails, try some of the ones I’ve mentioned here.

What Are The Best Brands of Gin?

In 2017, the world’s biggest selling gins were Gordon’s gin, with Bombay Sapphire at No.2, Tanqueray at No.3 and Beefeater at No.4.

#1. Gordon’s Gin

Started in 1769 by Alexander Gordon, Gordon’s is triple-distilled and contains a secret mix of juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, liquorice, orris root, orange and lemon peel.  In the US, it has a strength of 40% and the first distillery opened in 1934 at Linden, NJ.

#2. Bombay Sapphire

Surprisingly, Bombay Sapphire has only been around since 1987, the name was inspired by the gins that used to be drunk during the British Raj in India.  The Star of Bombay (a sapphire) is on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

The ingredients in this one are almond, lemon peel, liquorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb and grains of paradise (this is indigenous to West Africa and provides a pungent peppery flavor, with a hint of citrus).

Bombay Sapphire has a strength of 47% in the US.  With it’s late addition into the gin market, it is a testament to the branding, design and marketing that Bombay Sapphire is already the second best selling gin in the world.

#3. Tanqueray

In 2017, Tanqueray took over from Beefeater to claim the #3 spot and it also won the Gin Brand Champion of 2017. Here in the US, we consume just over a million cases a year, which is Tanqueray’s biggest market.

Tanqueray was created in Brazil in 1830, although it’s now produced in Scotland.  The recipe, as usual, is a closely guarded secret, but it’s known to contain four botanicals – juniper, coriander, angelica root and liquorice.

In the US, it’s strength is 47.3%, it is branded as th ‘bartender’s choice for a perfect G & T’ and is recommended to be served with a wedge of lime.


Are you a gin drinker? There are many men out there who don’t like it, here’s a video to persuade you to sample it again!

I can’t mention best brands of gin without drawing your attention to my particular favorite gin type, I have discovered sloe gin and it has a great taste with tonic and lots of ice.  My next challenge is to make some home-made sloe gin … watch this space!

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

What Are The Best Brands of Vodka?

What Are The Best Brands of VodkaHere at, we have a range of adult beverages that we enjoy.  What are the best brands of vodka to add to the best vodka cocktails?

Many traditional vodkas do not have a specific taste, but these days you can get a modern twist on vodka with all sorts of variations.


What Are The Best Brands of Vodka?

Top Ten Best Selling Brands of Vodka in the World

#1. Smirnoff

The biggest vodka brand in the world and the best selling one too.

The Smirnoff vodka distillery came to life some time in the 1860s through Petry Smirnov in Moscow, Russia. Smirnoff undergoes a triple distillation.

Smirnoff Red Label is the best selling vodka and comes in at 37.5% strength.  It has won many awards including a double gold at the San Fran Spirit Championship.

Black Label is 40% strength and is a good one to serve neat and frozen.  Blue Label is 50% strength for an extra kick and is charcoal filtered too.

Smirnoff also do a massive range of flavored vodkas for you to sample.  Some of the flavors are disgusting (in my humble opinion!) Do you really want to admit that you are drinking Fluffed Marshmallow or Kissed Caramel vodka?!

Personally, I’d rather buy the pure, classic vodka and use it to make a classic cocktail, my particular favorites are Bloody Mary for a refreshing, spicy tangy drink or a Moscow Mule – I love the ginger kick of this one.

If you must have flavored vodka, I’d recommend the lime or raspberry which I might occasionally be tempted to drink,

#2. Absolut

Absolut is a Swedish vodka (1879), it came to the US in 1979 and again does a wide range of flavored varieties.  Absolut are masters at branding and advertise themselves as ‘starting a revolution in cocktail creation’ with their innovative flavors. They have distinct bottles, that have a certain ‘pure’ look about them, Absolut has a good taste which is very acceptable to the palate.

#3. Khortytsa

Khortytsa is a Ukrainian vodka which is produced in a modern distillery.  It joined Drinks International’s Millionaire’s Club, ranking among the world’s top 3 largest selling vodka brands in 2017, so is one to watch out for.

Other best selling brands of vodka worth a mention are:

#4. Khlibnyi Dar (Ukraine)

#5. Zubrowka (Poland)

#6. Pyat Ozer (Russia)

#7. Svedka (Sweden)

#8. Krupnik (Poland)

#9. Skyy (USA)

At last a vodka from the US, have a look here at our in-depth review on this home-based vodka.

#10. Grey Goose (France) has some alternatives in their Top Ten – their number 1 is Stolichnaya, which comes in at 40% strength and is another Russian vodka (1901).

There are so many vodkas to try, it could take a very long time!  For my bucks, I like the classic, pure vodka with no strange flavors added!  My personal favorites are Smirnoff and Absolut.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What Are The Best Gin Cocktails?

best gin cocktailsDo you want to spice up your G & T? If so, what are the best gin cocktails?

We have looked at the best vodka cocktails already, so let’s check out the best gin cocktails.

You can also look at the best types of martini as most of them can be made with vodka or gin as a base.

What Are The Best Gin Cocktails?

#1. Negroni

The Negroni cocktail is made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel. It is considered an apĂ©ritif.  The Campari in the Negroni can take a bit of getting used to, you may need to start by halving the recommended measure of Campari and building it up slowly.

#2. Tom Collins

The Tom Collins is a Collins cocktail made from gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water. First memorialized in writing in 1876 by Jerry Thomas, “the father of American mixology”.  It is a sweet and sour drink topped up with soda.

#3. Singapore Sling

The Singapore Sling is a gin-based cocktail from Singapore. This long drink was developed sometime before 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, Singapore.  If you ever fancy a road trip to Singapore, the Raffles Hotel is still there and you can enjoy a Singapore Sling where it was invented.

#4. Floradora

The refreshing combo of raspberries, gin, lime and a bite of ginger beer is just right on a summer evening.  I personally haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s on my list for next summer!  Apparently the best way to make a Floradora is with a gin that’s not too ‘junipery’ (yep, that is a real word!)

#5. The Last Word

The Last Word consists of equal amounts of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and freshly pressed lime juice, which are combined in a shaker with ice.  The greenish color comes from the Chartreuse and it was traditionally made in the prohibition era with bathtub gin.  Cocktails in that era were often created to mask the unpleasant taste of the gin that they created.  I have tasted Chartreuse and that would be an ideal drink to mask the taste of anything else, it has a very strong, herbal taste!

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What Are The Best Vodka Cocktails?

best vodka cocktailsHere’s another post in our adult beverages section, what are the best vodka cocktails?  Many of us enjoy a vodka and orange, or a vodka and lime so let’s have a look at some of the best vodka cocktails.

If you do enjoy a vodka and orange, you can sound really cool by calling it a Screwdriver (especially if it’s freshly-squeezed orange!)

Then, if you add a Galliano float onto your Screwdriver, it becomes a Harvey Wallbanger.

What Are The Best Vodka Cocktails?

#1. Moscow Mule

Combine vodka with ginger beer and lime juice, with a wedge of lime to serve. A Moscow Mule is classically served in a copper mug.  There are, of course, many discussions about what the best vodka and the best ginger beer are to use to make this classic cocktail.  Check out our post on the moscow mule.

#2. Cosmopolitan

A Cosmopolitan, or Cosmo is a vodka based cocktail that is made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and freshly squeezed or sweetened lime juice. This cocktail has been made famous by Sex & The City and it has a delicious sweet-and-sour taste.

#3. Bloody Mary

This is a favorite amongst my group of friends (one of whom is English) and the phrase we use when we are sharing a pitcher of bloody mary, is:

“Bloody Mary?  Bloody Marvellous!”

This cocktail consists of vodka, tomato juice and a combination of spices, I couldn’t resist writing a post about the best bloody mary recipes – we often argue about it over a pitcher or two!

#4. White or Black Russian

Both of these have a base of vodka and coffee liqueur, usually poured over ice.  Milk is added to the mixture to make it into a white russian and cola is added to the base to make it a black russian.  There are, as usual, variations on the theme, look up our white or black russian post and check out some of the variations.

#5. Woo Woo

A woo woo is very sweet, but many people love it (especially our lady friends!) It consists of vodka, peach schnapps and cranberry.  It can be served as a shot, but is typically served in a cocktail or hi-ball glass.

If you add orange juice to a Woo Woo, then you end up with Sex on the Beach.

Here’s the Tipsy Bartender’s take on Four Easy Vodka Cocktails:

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Monday, January 8, 2018

More of the Yuengling Brewery’s History

part of the yuengling brewery

A trippy looking part of Yuengling’s brewery in Pottsville, PA

Finally, I’m back to talking about America’s Oldest Brewery after all the holiday craziness. To catch up, in previous The Craft Joint columns I’ve written about the history of the Yuengling Brewery of Pottsville, PA. Time to continue that now.

Enter the Brewmaster

In 1960, Ray Norbert became the brewmaster of Yuengling. This man was dedicated because he held that position for 40 years!

Speaking of dedication, the name Frank D. Yuengling must also stand out. In 1963, Frank D. passed away. He was 86 years old. That means he helmed the brewery for all of 64 years! That is remarkable. He was the President and the Chairman of the Board so he managed Yuengling for all those years!

Frank’s death meant new blood running the brewery. F. Dohrman and Richard L. began their stint managing the brewery. They were the sons of Frank D.

Honored as the Oldest

Zipping along to 1976, Yuengling is honored to be named on National and State registers as America’s Oldest Brewery. That designation is a great source of pride for this family-owned beer business.

A few years later, the brewery celebrated its 150th Anniversary back in 1979.

Time for change again in 1985. That was the year that Richard L. “Dick” Yuengling, Jr. bought the company from his Dad and became the President. He still holds that position today. This shows the continuing tradition of how the brewery passes from one family member to another. It is always a purchase.

Bringing The Lager

bottle and glass of yuengling's lagerDick wasted no time in making a change. In 1987 he decided to reintroduce Yuengling Traditional Amber Lager. This craft beer is affectionately known as “The Lager” to its many fans. This was a solid move by Dick as this is the beer that has become Yuengling’s flagship brew.

Yuengling’s popularity experienced massive growth in the ensuing years. By 1996 demand for Yuengling’s tasty beers was exceeding the capacity of the brewery. They decided to scale back their distribution area. Yeah, can you believe it, they pulled out of all markets that were outside of their local area. They wanted to make sure their home area drinkers could always get what they wanted. That shows dedication and loyalty to my way of thinking.

Still, they knew they needed to be able to brew more beer. So what did Dick decide to do? He decided, in 1998, it was time to build a second brewery! Where at? At home base of course. A site at Mill Creek only 3 miles from the existing brewery was selected to be the location of Yuengling’s second brewery.

Yuengling of the South

Things are happening fast for Yuengling. Demand is greater than it ever was. Beer fans from all over want to buy and drink delicious Yuengling beers. Time totampa brewery invest in the brewing company again. In early 1999, Yuengling buys the old Stroh’s brewery in Tampa, Florida. By summer, Yuengling is being brewed in Florida!

Yuengling spread like wildfire throughout Florida. I doubt that there are any bars, stores, or any decent places that serve beer in Florida that do not carry Yuengling.

That’s a wrap for this episode. I’m heading out of town for a few. Lucky for me, I’ll be heading into Yuengling territory. See ya when I get back. Cheers.

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