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Michael Dietsch

Michael Dietsch

Cocktail 101

Michael Dietsch is a barfly, booze hound, book hoarder, jazz fiend, and technographer. He lives with his wife, kids, and cats in Brooklyn, New York. When he's not out on the town, he's usually at home doing laundry and writing. His first book, Shrubs, is due in October 2014. He'll save your life if you ask nicely enough.

  • Website
  • Location: Head in the clouds, feet in Brooklyn
  • Favorite foods: Bourbon, rye, gin
  • Last bite on earth: Negroni

The 10 Best Budget Bourbons

We're lucky, as bourbon drinkers. The bourbon industry has the resources and capacity to make massive quantities of corn juice, and the expertise to do it well. This means that you can find plenty of good bourbon on a budget. Now, that's not to say every budget bourbon is good, heck no. Some of it is dreck. But look around, and you'll find the good stuff easily enough. More

10 Bartending Terms You Might Not Know

Hang out in bars long enough, and you'll start to hear the bartender throwing around all sorts of interesting words and phrases. And I'm not talking about the Tagalog profanity she picked up while backpacking through the Philippines; I mean the lexicon of bartending. Today, a glossary of the secret language of bartenders. More

3 Great New(ish) Cocktail Bitters

Back in my day, when you wanted to make a cocktail, and you needed some cocktail bitters, you went to the soda-pop aisle of your grocery and found the shelves dedicated to mixers for adult beverages, and if you were lucky, you'd see a bottle of Angostura right there sitting next to the lime cordial and the sour mix and the tonic water. These days, you kids are spoiled for choice. More

The Best Drinks We Drank in March

The Lock Yard is a very cool place to spend an afternoon.

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Bitter Drinks

It's perfectly fine to dislike Fernet. I can't normally stand it on its own; I find it's much better as a mixer. Sometimes, I'll drink it as a digestive. I had it after Thanksgiving dinner one year, and I found it immediately made my bloated stomach feel better. But then again, so do other bitter liqueurs that I usually enjoy drinking, so I don't see an upside.

The Best Budget Irish Whiskeys


There's some contract distilling in the Irish whiskey arena. The company that sells Michael Collins, for example, is currently in a lawsuit with Beam, Inc., over a contract to make Collins at Beam's Cooley distillery. But it's not like LDI where it's quiet and sort of secretive.

2 Gingers was made under contract at Cooley, too, but then Beam bought the brand.

Cooley makes Kilbeggan, Greenore, Connemara, and Tyrconnell.

New Midleton makes Jameson, Tullamore Dew, Powers, Paddy, Redbreast, Midleton Rare, and Green Spot. Green Spot is made under contract for a wine merchant in Dublin.

Old Bushmills makes Bushmills and Black Bush.

FWIW, Bushmills is owned by Diageo; Midleton is owned by Pernod-Ricard; and as I said, Cooley is owned by Beam, Inc., which in turn is now owned by Suntory.

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Bitter Drinks

I will admit, I prefer rye in a Boulevardier.

Slow Cooker Harissa Beef Stew With Lemon Yogurt


We drank zinfandel with this. The mildly sweet, low-tannic fruitiness really cut through the heat, while still complementing the beef.

The Best Gin for Negronis

The Best Gin for Negronis

Lorenzo --

Maybe she just doesn't care for mass-produced world market products. I hear they're the in-thing to hate right now.

The 10 Best Budget Bourbons

Did you miss the word "best" in the title? I'm not listing every budget bourbon; I'm reviewing them.

Why regular Beam isn't on the list is already up there, in the post:

I'm not a fan of the white-label release; I find it a little one-note. But the black label is just what you want bourbon to be: smooth, with just the exact amounts of vanilla, caramel, and woodiness you want from good bourbon whiskey.

As for Early Times, it's not bourbon. That's also why Remy Martin isn't on this, and Chivas Regal, and Stoli, and other things that aren't bourbon.

Cocktail 101: How to Build a Cocktail Library

The 6 Best Budget Ryes

You cats are high-larious. When I did the budget-bourbon piece, and I set the limit at $20, half the commenters were miffed because I didn't set the bar at $25. Now I go to $25, and someone gripes that it's not $20. Thanks for a good laugh.

Hochstadter's Slow & Low Rock and Rye: A Vintage Cocktail Party in a Bottle

Funny. I picked up a bottle last week, not knowing you were reviewing it. I'm very reluctantly not a fan. I love what they're trying to do. The flavors you mention should all work very well with rye. But every time I try it, the sweetness is cloying and the citrus is all out of balance. I was hoping that some bitters in the mix would help, and yes, the bitters helped, but not quite enough.

And I only just now saw the website. The marketing is kind of gross. This reminds me of the Cabana Cachaca marketing from a few years ago. Overall, I think I've decided to pass on ever trying this again. I am clearly not in their market.

The 10 Best Budget Bourbons

@JRussRhodes: You might be thinking of Chicken Cock Whiskey, which is a different thing than Fighting Cock Bourbon.


The 10 Best Budget Bourbons

I'm not budging from the $20 mark. Your definition of budget might be $22 or $26 or $30 or $75, even. I stand my ground at $20. I found ten good bourbons at $20 and under.

Yes, bourbon is a luxury. But if you only have $14 to spend on your luxury this week, I've got you covered. I've been there. I'll be there again next month.

The 10 Best Budget Bourbons

I cannot in good faith recommend brands that are only available at Costco or Trader Joe's. Even here in NYC, TJ, for example, can't sell spirits. Even their wine has to be sold in a dedicated storefront, away from the food.

And perhaps this disqualifies me from writing about spirits, but I've only been in Costco once in my life, on someone else's membership.

But I don't feel the need to try the Costco's Kirkland brand:


It's Beam, and there's no way it's better than the Beam products I've listed. Why would Beam send its best bourbon to Costco?

A Day in the Life: Nick Kindelsperger, Chicago Editor

Mira is an excellent name for a baby girl, I must say. My personal 7-week-old daughter, Mirabelle, agrees.

Highlights from WhiskyFest NYC 2013

Okay, someone else must have edited it. I was away from the computer for hours this morning, and trust me, you don't ever want to get into the Moveable Type backend from an iPhone, so I wouldn't have edited it even had I known. Looks like I said rye originally, so I'll take the hit.

Highlights from WhiskyFest NYC 2013

Yeah, I'm sorry, but I'm looking all over, and I can't locate a single sentence in which I identified Stagg as rye. Thank you so much for nitpicking a statement I didn't even make.

3 Great New(ish) Cocktail Bitters

Try the Xocolatl in a rum old fashioned, or a tequila old fashioned.

3 Great New(ish) Cocktail Bitters

I'm looking forward to trying Bittercube.

3 Great New(ish) Cocktail Bitters

Thanks. The Fees have been in business for over a hundred years, and they've been making bitters since the 1950s. They're hardly a new(ish) company.

The Serious Eats Guide to Genever

Thank you, Diep9. I think you've made your point.

Compass Box Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Limited Edition is Worth Celebrating

Distillation Glossary: Pot Still Terms You Should Know

"as are some bourbons" and "Most Bourbon is made in column stills" are entirely compatible statements.

Should You Boycott Russian Vodka Over Russian Gay Rights?

@Fnarf: Cite your evidence.

@DrGaellon: Do you really think it was the Stoli boycott that brought international attention to the plight of LGBTs in Russia? Let's see, Savage proposed the boycott on July 24.

Harvey Fierstein, New York Times, July 21.

NPR, June 30: Banned From Marching, Russians Celebrate Gay Pride Online

RollingStone.com, August 10, 2012: Madonna challenges St. Petersburg gay pride ban during tour stop

Human Rights Watch, June 2006: Russia: Investigate Attacks on Gay Pride March

Let me just be blunt. I'm a straight white guy, and I've been aware of this story, minus the Stoli angle, for years. If it took this boycott to "raise your awareness," you need to pay more attention to the world.

@alan in sitges: Thank you for the link to Savage's latest. Nick Symmonds is a hero for standing up, and I'm happy to hear that athletes are making their voices heard. I do wonder, though, about the quote that Savage includes from Alistair Stewart:

"Where the boycott has been incredibly successful is in raising the profile of the issue. If it hadn’t been called for it would be unlikely that we would be discussing the problems and unlikely that it would be appearing in national newspapers or that Obama would be talking about it on late night television."

Sorry, Mr. Stewart, but national news was covering it before the boycott. I can't possibly speak to how Obama might have learned. You really think Obama only found out when the Oval Office wet bar was suddenly missing its Stoli?

Should You Boycott Russian Vodka Over Russian Gay Rights?

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

As this is a fast-moving story, I knew I'd never be able to link to everything of interest or keep up with the latest developments. So I'll be adding links here for the benefit of those who want to keep up with the story.

First, here's a moving piece by a man who grew up gay in Russia:


Homebrewing Basics: All About Yeast

Yeast have the most important job in brewing: they start with sugar and break it down, leaving alcohol, carbon dioxide, and a variety of flavors. The importance of yeast often gets forgotten when conversations about beer turn to grain and hops, but yeast actually have the potential to contribute more unique flavors to your beer—both good and bad—than any other ingredient. Last week we talked about grain, and next week we'll look at hops, but today I'll be giving you what you need to know about yeast to make the best homebrew possible. More

The Physiology of Foie: Why Foie Gras is Not Unethical

Video or photographic footage of one badly managed farm or even a thousand badly managed farms does not prove that the production of foie gras, as a practice, is necessarily harmful to the health or mental well-being of a duck. Foie gras production should be judged not by the worst farms, but by the best, because those are the ones that I'm going to choose to buy my foie from if at all. More