Thursday, September 8, 2016

More Than Just Sneakers: KICKS Movie Review

I have a not too fond memory of having to buy special orthopedic-like shoes for an injury I had in the sixth grade.  All I remember is my brother taking me to Lipkind's Shoes on Boston Road in the Bronx to look at a pair of sneakers my mom had put on hold earlier in the day.  My brother and I still laugh to this day about the look on my face after seeing the gleaming white and royal blue pair of horrific Jox that stared out at me from the shoebox coffin in the hands of what seemed like Satan himself.  This was in stark contrast to the feeling of finally copping my first pair of navy and white Nike Cortez's in the first grade or the ecstasy of the victory of landing my Dontrelle Willis Nike Dunks in an online Nike-run website a few years back.  

I think the thing about sneakers and young kids are that in a society that champions status, expression and personality, while we fight to find our voices in the aforementioned, we often use material things as initial catalysts to help ourselves be heard.  The crisp pair of Jordans to a high school kid is tantamount to the sporty convertible for the mid-aged divorcee man; he has to be heard, seen, liked, envied, championed and respected.  Such was the case for Brandon (Jahking Guillory), the protagonist in "Kicks", a new film by Justin Tipping, that examines in beautiful cinematographic detail how it's never really just about the shoes.  

The object of affection in "Kicks" are the infamous Jordan 1's.  The lonely life of 15 year old Brandon is painted as one where he often fends for himself and, unbeknownst to his visually absent hardworking mother, is one where he takes his coaching from observing life, and his bumbling two best friends.  Like many a young guy's life in the inner city, Brandon has to come to grips with his size, his popularity and his ignorances the hard ways.  So he needs new shoes and lucks out by getting his hands on a freshly swiped pair of classic Jordan 1's.  He sets off to rock them with pride and begins to see some of the benefits that box-fresh kicks can bring when the real trouble begins.  After they are stolen right off his feet by Flaco (Kofi Siriboe), a notorious local gang leader, Brandon makes it his mission to not slip back into the underbelly of the unpopular and sets off driven by anger, frustration and anxiety to get his beloved 1's back.  He enlists his two entertaining and questionably popular besties (played by Christopher Meyer and Christopher Jordan Wallace) to help him and the three of them embark on a mission all over town and gang territory to get the holy grail of footwear back.

That is what's captured so coolly and is so visually gripping with this story.  It made a scenario that can happen more easily than not in the inner city appear a tad heartwarming and very relatable and found a redemptive moral in the things many of us often pass off as silly and fickle.  The film made a valid point about how, in the context of our own lives, when we stand up for what we believe in, work hard for and strongly desire, we find our true character and can uncover our dormant humanities.

Having grown up in the days of films like House Party, Juice, New Jack City, Boyz n The Hood and Menace 2 Society, I found "Kicks" to be a really good and honest modern film.  The directorial-debut from Mr. Tipping and the casting were great in the fluid blending of story, characters, imagery and music and the dialogue was honest and real like a page torn right out of a young city kid's book, not trying to save to world, but one who just unconsciously wants to and growth-wise needed to find his own voice and come out of his shell, but in turn discovered something about the world and his undiscovered strength in it.  

"KICKS" a film by Justin Tipping (Runtime: 87 mins) opens in select theaters nationwide tomorrow September 9.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fresh And Clean: 291 Colorado Fresh Whiskey Review and Cocktail Recipe for Whiskey Sour Challenge

The final cocktail for my Whiskey Sour Challenge (see my previous two posts) is a cool cocktail that I got some direction for from my friend and former bartender Christopher Dobey.  It involves a really cool award-winning whiskey that is rather unique and definitely accolade worthy.  

Honored as being "Fresh as the Colorado snow, smoother than the rocks of the river flow", the hand-distilled 291 Colorado Fresh Whiskey won the People's Choice Award at the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival in 2015.  Here's Why.  This is a pretty amazing whiskey.  Made by Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs this whiskey is an un-aged corn whiskey that is mellowed with Aspen charcoal of all things.  What results is a slightly sour flavor with a smoky woodsy flavor that really goes down clean an smooth with the charcoal flavor sneaking up on the finish.  What's nice about Fresh is that the flavor is intense on its own as it hits the tongue an just explodes with tartness, slight sweetness and smoky depth all whole just flashing over the tastebuds with lovely ease. 

Fresh in a perfect whiskey for mixing cocktails and was developed with that intent in mind.  The notes of Fresh are pretty perfect for a whiskey sour.  The sour edge and the charred undertones to balance out the sweet are great for a The 'Real Men Drink Pink' Sour.  

The 'Real Men Drink' Pink Sour 

2 ounces       291 Colorado Fresh Whiskey
5-7 shakes    Peychaud's Aromatic Cocktail Bitters
1 ounce         Simple Syrup
1/2 ounce      Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce      Fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1                    Egg

Add the white the of egg to a shakers and shake until the egg white foams up or meringues.  Then add the Fresh Whiskey, the bitters, simple syrup, lemon juice and lime juice.  Shake up again and double strain over ice into a whisky glass.  Optional garnish with a couple extra dashes of bitters.

This was a surpassingly good drink.  I consulted with Christopher on this drink and he suggested adding the Peychaud's since he thought the clear color of the Fresh Whiskey might make the drink un whiskey sour-like in appearance.  So it became a bit of a whiskey sour and a Boston sour mash up and the result as great.  The bitters added a spicy fragrant sweetness.  It's a light-colored drink but pack a delicious punch.  The sweet and spicy plays up nicely against the smoky sour whiskey.  The egg once again adds some textural depth to the cocktail.

This has been a really great challenge for me in exploring the versatility of expansive flavor profile of whiskey.  Stop by your finer wine, spirit and alcohol retailers and check out 291 Colorado Fresh Whiskey and as always please remember to drink responsibly.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Sour, My Way: Templeton Rye Whiskey Cocktail Recipe for Whiskey Sour Challenge

Still in the mood for Whiskey Sours?  Well if you did imbibe in the beloved cocktail yesterday then wonderful.  If not, then don't worry!  Bars aren't closing in massive quantities and all you need is a few simple ingredients to make an awesome whiskey sour at home.  

So you may have seen my previous post for a 'Boston Sour' made with Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey but I am not going to forget my rye whiskey imbibers.  So for my second cocktail in my Whiskey Sour Challenge I've chosen the dapper Templeton Rye Whiskey.  Mature and refined, Templeton Rye is a smooth whiskey that's less sweet than its bourbon cousin with it deep, heady crispness from the rye and a touch of wonderfully blended spices.  I wanted to keep this cocktail simple for my rye purists that just want a classic done up with their whiskey variety.  So here's a great recipe for a Bewitching Whiskey Sour:

Bewitching Whiskey Sour

1 1/2 ounces   Templeton Rye Whiskey
3/4 ounce        Simple Syrup
3/4 ounce        Fresh Lemon juice
3-5 dashes      Angostura Aromatic Bitters
1                      Cherry
1                      Lime

Add the Templeton Rye Whiskey, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and bitters to the shaker and shake it up.  Pour into a whisky de seigle glass with ice.  Garnish with cherry and a lime wedge.

Right off, the maturity of the Templeton is not diminished by the other ingredients.  The earthiness of the whiskey still retains its depth as the tart lemon, acrid bitters and the sweet simple syrup marry to make this drink become the most grown and sexiest lemonade ever.  Templeton Rye Whiskey is good with this cocktail since it makes the cocktail not overly cloyingly sweet or heavy.  Templeton Rye Whiskey is available at your finer wine, spirit and alcohol retailers and as always please remember to drink responsibly.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Sour That Tastes So Sweet: Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey Cocktail Recipe for National Whiskey Sour Day

It's a well known fact that gentlemen drink whiskey.  However, it's also a well-known fact that gentlemen who drink copious amounts of whiskey can turn into complete off-putting morons, so it's really about distinguishing a true gentlemen.  Much more, it's about the kind of drink or even the kind of whiskey that speaks to gentlemen.  With National Whiskey Sour Day today, I decided to examine the beloved cocktail, which has a place in the heart's of many gentlemen, with three distinct whiskeys.

A Whiskey Sour is typically made with a bourbon whiskey.  However, if some prefer ryes to bourbons then why should one forgo the dapper cocktail.  They shouldn't.  Over the next three days I am having a Whiskey Sour Sampling starting off with a classic bourbon whiskey that's been around since 1888.  Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a delicious highbrow whiskey that has all the characteristics of a great bourbon.  It has that touch of sweetness and the spiced warmth of a bourbon along with its characteristic smooth depth that makes Four Roses a top-shelfer.  I chose Four Roses Bourbon for this first whiskey sours after getting a great recipe from a friend of mine and former bartender, Christopher Dobey.  Here's a great version that was first locally done in Boston but has become a nice remix of the whiskey sour.

The Boston Sour

2 ounces       Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
3-5 shakes   Angostura Aromatic Bitters
1 ounce        Simple Syrup
1/2 ounce     Fresh Squeezed Lemon
1/2 ounce     Fresh Squeezed Lime
1                   Egg

Add just the white of the egg to the shaker.  Shake up the egg until the foams up (meringues).  Add the Four Roses, the simple syrup, lemon, lime and bitters to the shaker and shake.  Double-strain into a whiskey glass over ice.

This was a delicious cocktail.  Admittedly I always order my whiskey with ginger ale but this Boston Sour is going to find it's way into my rotation.  The egg white adds a nice textural depth to the drink while the perfectly married sour lemon and lime with the bitters cut the sweet notes of the cocktail with balance.  The flavor of this drink hits all areas of the palette and makes this a very satisfying drink.  Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is available now from your finer wine, spirit and alcohol retailers and as always please remember to drink responsibly.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Refreshingly Great In Twelve Ounces: WtrMln Wtr Review

It must truly be called the lazy days of summer for a reason.  Now while I can't speak for anyone else, I'll look for any excuse to take it easy in the summer heat.  It's almost as if the heat to me is tantamount to kryptonite to Superman as it seems to suck all the life out of me.  I may be dating myself here but (so what) whenever I have a refreshing beverage or meal in the summertime it feels like when the Decepticons or the Autobots would get all their energy back after imbibing on energon cubes.  Didn't get the reference?  Get this reference!  I have an intense yen for my body temperature to be refreshed and my energy brought back to life in the summertime.  

There's a thing I swear by all summer until it's no longer available and that's enjoying copious amounts of fresh watermelon.  Sometimes I'll just forgo a meal and enjoy a tray of the deliciously sweet and fresh cubed loveliness and at once become hydrated and satisfied.  So admittedly, when Wtrmln Wtr (Watermelon Water) first caught my eye in Wholefoods my initial thinking was "Eh, it's probably just lots of added sugar and coloring in a cute bottle".  Fast forward to a couple days ago and the pleasant way in which my favorite fruit just became my favorite drink too.

What's great about Wtrmln Wtr is that it is unadorned.  It's not masquerading as the great original.  It is the great original!  The ingredients are simple (and comprehensible) as there are only three: watermelon flesh, watermelon rind and organic lemon juice.  That's it!  Add to the fact that the health properties of watermelon juice are listed in detail right on every bottle of Wtrmln Wtr which has suddenly made this my new quick go-to for electrolytes, muscle recovery and my new hangover cure.    If you're less concerned with the benefits and are just all about the taste then have at it!  Add Wtrmln Wtr to a cocktail and enjoy a Watermelon-rita, a spiked watermelon-ade, or a mimosa made with WtrMln Wtr instead.  

Pick up Wtrmln Wtr at your better local grocer now and turn what could be a 20 pound lug home into a 12 ounce treat.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tip Your Hat To Tequila Today: Tequila Corralejo Silver Review for National Tequila Day

I probably should observe this day as a national holiday considering how much of this spirit I actually drink.  It is the base of my drinks of choice when partaking in year round revelry.  I may stray at times but I always come back home to The One.  Also, having just recently discovered how well it goes with espresso has made me even more smitten with its fresh slick consistency.  I am talking none other than tequila.  How fitting that my beloved tequila has its own national day, which is today.

Usually, I'll go margarita or straight up on the rocks with extra lime.  As the night winds down I switch to it blended with a nice espresso that has a tap of sweetness for a nice dose of two uppers that make for a quite comfortable sipper.  However,  I discovered a wonderful 20 year old brand recently that reignited for me how wonderful tequila is.  Tequila Corralejo is an honestly good and better tequila brand.  I recently sampled and made an awesome cocktail with Tequila Corralejo Silver and was quite impressed with the crispness.  There's something about a 100% agave tequila that is made in Mexico, honestly batched and labored over that makes a sip an experience and an empty glass a great memory (not to mention an excuse to pour another).

Tequila Corralejo Silver is glassy and smooth.  Younger than the Anejo but more seasoned than the Reposado, this Silver evokes a slight fresh vibrant citrus note with that root-like herbal undertone tequila can have.  It also has the slightest subtlest tap of sweet on the clean finish to make this a quick and satisfying sip.  That's what I love sometimes about silvers.  This Tequila Corralejo Silver is so crisp that it almost feels therapeutic.  That thinking led me to try to this cocktail recipe I found as the ingredients matched the simplicity of the tequila while adding a subtle verdant loveliness on their own.

Cucumber Tequila Cooler

1 1/2 ounces of Tequila Corralejo Silver™ Tequila
1 ounce of fresh Lime juice from 1 - 2 limes
2 ounces of Chilled Seltzer
1 four inch section of Celery
1 two inch section of Cucumber
1/2 ounce of Agave Nectar
1 Pinch of Sea Salt

Slice celery into 1/2 inch slices with salt to a cocktail shaker then muddle in the bottom.  Then add cucumber and agave and muddle for about 20 seconds.  Add lime juice and tequila and fill shaker with 2/3 of ice then shake about 20 seconds and serve in a highball glass.  Add celery and cucumber to garnish if desired. 

This was such a refreshing summer cocktail.  Everything about it from the crisp Tequila Corralejo Silver to the cleansing notes of the celery, cucumber, bubbly seltzer and pop of sweet from the agave made this a great cocktail to serve with a fresh summer salad, tray of briny raw oysters, or a great meat/cheese/veggie crudité platter.  You can also just put your feet up and enjoy it on its own, after all, it is an (unofficial) national holiday.  

Tequila Corralejo Silver can be found at your finer alcohol, wine and spirit stores and as always please remember to drink repsonsibly.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Oh Give Me A Home, Where The High-tops Roam: Daniel Patrick Launches Mens Footwear

One of my favorite brands based in LA has just added sneakers to their roster.  Daniel Patrick known for his highbrow streetwear with a bare bones yet edgy wabi-wabi aesthetic has landed his wears on notables like Tyga, Justin Beiber and Russell Westbrook.  Now with his new foray into footwear, Patrick offers up his first model, a high-top sneaker named the Roamer which is handmade in Italy of calf suede and leather.  Currently the Roamer is available in Black with a black rubber sole, White and Desert Rose with gum soles and Sand with a white rubber sole.  They retail for $495 each are are just as mimimally cool and forward as his clothing.  Available now at DanielPatrick.us.