Cool, moisture-rich dishes are perfectly refreshing in summer. Pulling ingredients from the fridge, or better yet, your backyard, and preparing them sans the uncomfortable added heat of an oven or stovetop is the ideal. In our cold dish primer, we examine five excellent cold-dish recipes, along with the “methodology” of preparing each type of food and optional accompaniments and alternatives to make your (picnic) table sing.
Con-cidre it tasty
To begin: someone made a mistake in this assignment. I don’t like ciders. They’re sweet enough to send me into shock. They have a flatness that makes my tongue feel ashamed. They attract large numbers of bees. With those prejudices in mind, I gave Stella Artois’s new Cidre a taste.
Only good things in store
A decent drink can be hard to find, especially when you’re at home. For the do-it-yourselfers who would rather the “do” simply be mixing the strong stuff with the not-so-strong stuff, we’ve compiled a list of the top five mixers you can find in your friendly neighborhood high-end liquor store. All you have to do is add booze, ice and maybe a wry wink as you drop in the cocktail straw.
Beer o'clock comes early this summer
A true hot-weather brew is not necessarily easy to find. We won’t knock macrobrews — their simple refreshment is enhanced all the same by hot weather, scantily clad women and baseball games. Those (the beers, not the women) are easily snatched from the corner store shelf, though. This list tackles the summer micro brew, a trickier topic, if only because there are so damn many. Pop the cap off the right one of these beauties and any summer activity can be filled with crisp, carbonated, slightly buzzed pleasure.
GP tallies the hits and misses of the season
Nowadays, no summer preview would be complete without a mention of the movies. Mother nature’s decision to crank up the thermostat and the possibility of BBQ ribs for lunch provide all the natural motivation society needs to bunker down in a cool dark room to watch
Megan Fox sweat on cars 120 minutes of explosions. We love a good superhero flick as much as the next guy, but massive marketing budgets shouldn’t be the only thing coaxing you into a theater seat this summer. This season has its fair share of CGI orgies and deep think pieces that don’t rhyme with “fan of seal” — and none of them should be missed.
Bee open minded
Putting honey into alcoholic things has a bad rap. It’s effeminate, it’s weak, it’s a cop-out. The parallels to shitty, girly strawberry-kiwi-whipped-cream-lip-gloss vodka are overwhelming. But everyone’s doing it. Now Dewar’s (a Scotch!) has joined in. We’re here to tell you: their take isn’t wrong. It’s just… different.
Gear for a 3-week Caribbean journey
Packing for three weeks of travel could easily balloon into roller bags, laptop cases and fanny packs. If you’re staying in luxury hotels and somebody else is handling your gear, fine. Bring the sheepskin robe. But if you may have to spend full days carrying your luggage on your back, then you’re limited to the essentials. Here’s what I stuffed into my GORUCK GR2 for three weeks in Cuba.
Getting attached to GORUCK's Weekend Bag
On my first night with the GORUCK GR2 ($395) we slept together in a bus station — and we’ve been going steady since. Specifically, after a flight from Cancun to Havana and midnight bus from Havana to Santa Clara, in the geographical center of Cuba, I looped a carabiner through the side webbing of the GR2, clipped it to my jacket’s pit vents, rested my head gently against her rugged 1000D cordura, and knocked off for six hours in a metal row chair.
A Photo Essay
It started with an email from my buddy.
Meet you in the lobby of the Islazul Gran Hotel De Camaguey @8am on March 18th, 2013. I will be in touch – Peregrine.
Actually, we’d talked about the possibility of a Cuba trip when Mycah — his name isn’t always Peregrine — and his wife found out the she’d been awarded a fellowship to study urban agriculture there. I had not booked my tickets. I wasn’t really sure I’d go because it was near a grand between the flight to Cancun and the next one to Havana, plus I’d been traveling a lot the past year. I told him it was 50/50. Then in early March I was offered a quick business trip to Cancun ending in mid-March. You don’t balk when serendipity tugs at your Johnson, so I shot off a quick email reply: F*ck it. Tickets booked. See you there.
As American as the Mayflower, and twice as fun
Most honest Americans of drinking age know bourbon as the national spirit. But there’s another drink for us to enjoy in the warm weather that, like bourbon, has a uniquely American story: rum. We’ve overlooked it for some time; meanwhile, there’s plenty of new, excellent, American and Caribbean rum coming to market, and rum-specific bars are opening in cities across the country. Rum, for now, is a little less serious than Scotch or bourbon, but what it brings to the table is no laughing matter — unless you’ve got your pinky dangling.
A GP Report
More and more, men and women are looking online — not just for books and flat-screen TVs — for companionship. Much like they’re shopping online, these guys and gals scroll through page after page of potential partners. But we’re not talking about straightforward online dating here. On the sites we’re talking about, users are looking specifically for who’s rich, who’s hot and who’s able to keep a secret. In this special report, we decrypt the pay-to-play world of digital get-downs.
Your Official Summer Reading List
Imagine with us: You’ve just left work on a sultry Friday, and damn do you feel good. Why? Because it’s summer, for one, and you’re off for a weekend, or a long weekend, or a week even, if your boss isn’t a Nazi and your job still includes that sweet rarity, “vacation time”. But no one’s around to hang, which is fine — it’s relaxation time, baby. What better way to enjoy the weather (without sweating) than a summer read? We’ve got 10 great picks for every type of reader, right here.
You've got twelve weeks. Get busy!
We love winter and all it brings: fires, warm sweaters, skiing and flasks of Scotch. But come June, we’re ready to bust out and undertake some adventures that can only be done in the warmer months. Memorial Day is traditionally when bikes and boats and boots get dusted off and you hit the ground running until the Labor Day slow down. This summer, why not go a little further and tackle something truly epic? We’re here to help with five great summer-only adventures. There are only twelve weeks of summer, so get planning.
A voyage to Midleton Distillery in Cork County, Ireland
There’s a published sociologist somewhere who said integration is the key to acceptance. Maybe we’re just paraphrasing Costner’s journal in Dances with Wolves. Regardless of who penned it, whisk(e)y makes a convincing case for the theory. Various cultures, united by their admiration of the caramel liquid’s charms, have each honed their own rituals for conjuring the spirit — and we, the imbibing people, have reaped the benefits of these diverse forms of worship.
Irish whiskey is one tradition that many beyond the Emerald Isle scarcely know, despite the island’s profound role in molding the drink into the revered male favorite it has become. But this wasn’t always the case. At the height of its glory, the product of Ireland’s distilleries was once the favored drink of the British empire, and its most notable ambassador, Jameson, was the world’s favorite whiskey. What happened next reads like a lost Dumas manuscript, complete with revolution, religion and economic turmoil all ending in the drink’s unjust imprisonment. The good news for drinkers is that after patiently biding its time for well over a century, the era of Irish whiskey’s redemption is finally arriving, and it’s easy to spot if you know where to look.
Souped up threads and a mean music machine
In 1957 the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar was a spry three years young; that same year, Levi’s original 1873 patent for riveted denim work pants — the first jeans — was already an octogenarian. But that doesn’t mean those jeans didn’t love to rock ‘n’ roll. As part of a series paying tribute to America’s vintage Hot Rod culture, this spring Levi’s is rolling out one-off garments and items that would love to take your pink slip at the drag strip.
Poring over coffee's simplest method
Occam’s razor: A philosophical principle suggesting that simpler explanations tend to be better than complex ones. It has broad application, from medicine to ethics to proofs of the existence of God. Now if we apply the razor to our morning coffee, as the thinking men of Gear Patrol are wont to do, we can scrap our fancy drip machines and super-automatic espresso makers and still get a world-class cup of coffee without doing much more than pouring hot water over coffee grounds. We’ve assembled a pour over kit with all the basics to get you started — at a very affordable price.
Hail to the King, Baby
It felt good to finish a successful 64-beer tournament. Partly because our bladders were feeling the pressure after lots of beer samples, but mostly because we got to crown a winner. 64 beers — Vienna-style lagers, IPAs, imperial stouts, wheat ales, barleywines, pale ales — under one bar’s roof is chaos (delicious, delicious chaos). But picking one as the absolute best is as singularly satisfying as the tick-hiss of popped bottle cap.
The final two competitors prove we did something right. Founders Breakfast Stout and Victory Prima Pils make drinkers happy, and they make brewers happy. They’re delicious, complex, drinkable and extremely accessible to beer fans; they’re also the epitome of two foundational styles, perfect examples of what excellent American craft brewing can create.
Good tequila? Aqui
Last Cinco de Mayo you ended up in the gutter with an extra-large sombrero shading your bloodshot eyes. Ready to grow up a bit for this year’s celebration? May we recommend Qui tequila ($57), sipped straight while you fight the waves of heartburn your taco feast brings on.
A sip from the bitter end
Four style categories, four beers remaining. This is the big time folks: four rounds have drained 60 beers from the tourney. That makes Victory, Two Brothers, Founders and Sierra Nevada — seeded 2, 14, 1, and 7, consecutively — in the 96th percentile. That’s a 1290 on the SAT. Not quite Ivy Leaguers — but then again, neither are our tasters.
With so few brews remaining in our Malted Madness tournament, it’s time for some specific dissection. What remains, largely, is a contest between styles. So how does one judge between a stout and a barleywine, a pilsner and a Bière de Garde? Very carefully, we realized — but also with plenty of subjectivity, banter, and flip-flopping. Largely, the debate was winnowed to a somewhat philosophical question: what kind of beer were we even looking for? Was it the most complex, style-boundary-pushing flavor bomb, or a beer that everyone could enjoy anytime, anywhere? For full disclosure, we’ve decided to include our full discussion/debate sessions for both matchups this round (which we recorded for prosperity’s sake). Read on for our decisions.
The tastiest kind of reminiscing
Malted Madness is a celebration of beer. Largely, we’ve glorified suds through our favorite medium: bloodthirsty head-to-head competition. Now, though, we pay homage to the most foundational of beer’s values… enjoyment. We asked our staff to remember the most memorable water, malt and hops they’d ever had and recorded their misty-eyed reminiscences. What we found — unsurprisingly — was that the true measure of beer is often when and where it’s enjoyed, and who with.
As I write this, I have a Bhut-Pepper Vertigo candy, made with five of the world’s hottest peppers, on my tongue. It is hot.
An inside look at the insider's home of horse racing
Kentucky is the undisputed mecca of the thoroughbred industry in the U.S., both for breeding and racing. Each year since 1875 this truth has been reaffirmed on the first Saturday in May, when sport’s brightest spotlight turns toward Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Its reputation as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports” is well-deserved. The same goes for the race’s record attendance numbers, which eclipse both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. But those who follow the sport beyond the Julep-fueled weekend of seersuckers and sundresses know that much of the prestigious race’s success is owed to another place a mere 80 miles east.
Meet the Best Lager, Light Ale, Dark Ale and Wild Card
“You’re all winners in my book”. Overused by little league coaches everywhere, it’s a turn of phrase that doesn’t even trick children. You think little Tommy really believes he’s a winner? He might’ve been picking his nose absentmindedly when the winning run dribbled right by him, but he’s not stupid.
So we won’t apply it to this tournament, dammit. Call us over-competitive, but just because a beer made our list of 64 great beers doesn’t mean it’s a champ. It’s been a rocky road (see the whole bracket here), and some excellent brews have gone down swinging: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Rogue Dead Guy, Oskar Blues Ten FIDY, Lost Abbey Deliverance, even eminent Pliny the Elder, perfect by BeerAdvocate and RateBeer standards. But they’re out, without a second chance between them. The closest things to winners — beyond the actual champion, that is — will be the final four beers, a.k.a. the top dogs of the Lager, Light Ale, Dark Ale and Et Al. styles.
Integral travel companion
I have terrible luck checking luggage, and the list of destinations where I’ve arrived with only the clothes on my back spans the globe: Iceland, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Germany. The problem is, most carry-on bags are unwieldy, anonymous “roll-aboards” or lumpy backpacks that are better suited for campus or the trail. The TUMI Tegra-Lite ($595) bucks those trends and has quickly become my second favorite travel companion, behind my wife.
If you can't beat 'em (in soccer), join 'em
With Brazil coming into dominance on a world scale in preparation for its 2012 Olympics and World Cup hosting job, it only makes sense that some Carnival culture would find its way into our borders. But cachaça? What is exactly is that stuff? In short, it’s Brazil’s most popular distilled alcoholic beverage, a cousin of rum made from fermented sugarcane juice rather than molasses. Leblon’s Maison Leblon Reserva Especial ($28) refines the liquor’s raw power through a two-year aging process in Limousin French Oak Barrels.
The Going Gets Tough, The Suds Get Going
Ah, the round of sixteen. Narrowed down to a quarter of our original beers, the Malted Madness field (see the whole bracket here) has been cleared of those excellent beers with even a muted set of flaws. What remains is a clash of subtle differences, muddied everywhere by the trouble of putting slightly different (sometimes, vastly different) styles head-to-head. The process wasn’t pretty — but how can tasting 16 of the best beers we’ve ever imbibed not be beautiful?
Mind you, we still didn’t know which beers were moving on. What was abundantly clear, however, was that the “As” and “Bs” we had given the nod so far were damn good. Decision depression was at an all-time high, and we all defaulted to our overarching rule, beyond judgement of appearance, smell, taste and mouthfeel: Which beer would you rather drink?
This Bud's For You
Editor’s Note: Malted Madness is a celebration of America’s craft beer. But what about the rest? Brandon Chuang feels… strongly about the everyman beer. We haven’t forgotten the good ole’ standbys either, so we let him vent.
By now, just a few short days into Malted Madness, you’ve taken in about as much as you can when it comes to beer. You’ve studied the bracket — our curated list of 64 of the best craft beers in the country — and you’re drunk with emotion. Why isn’t my beer in the tournament? How could that beer make it past the first round? Nothing brings out our passions more than competition, and nothing clouds our judgment more than the wants and desires of our own hearts. And in this boozy, passion-soaked attempt to find the best of the best, we’ve forgotten what “the best” truly means.
We’ve begun a coronation while the king still lives.
The Hoppy Mayhem Continues
The second round of any 64-team single elimination tournament is always clearer. The chaos is winnowed down in scale but magnified in intensity. Dark horses that dazzled against top-ranked teams return to earth (ahem, Harvard). Under-performers face heavier competition, and some of the best battles of the tourney ensue.
The second round of Malted Madness brought a whole new level of great matchups and tough calls for tasters. The first round’s head-to-heads had been largely decided on gut reactions. In this round, the tasters began showing signs of “decision depression” — i.e. not wanting to make a selection — and there was far more frowning going on than should be in a room loaded with excellent brews. Still, we had known the risks going into the tournament (though we forgot to include alcohol poisoning waivers). Furrowing brows and downing saltless crackers to revive our palates, we forged on.
Take off eh!
Not content to be contained, Malted Madness is spreading across the 49th parallel. Lucky for us, our neighbors to the North hold the same passion for cranking out (and drinking) mouth-watering microbrews as American brewers. And lucky for you, the GP team has a Canadian correspondent to help guide your sudsy stumblings beyond the world’s longest international border. The goal was the same: finding category contenders worthy of each of our style brackets (lagers, light ales, dark ales, and Et Al.). But instead of crowning winners, we’re presenting four Provincial picks (plus a personal favorite) to whet your palate. You might even be tempted to hop the border and find out what excellent Canuck craft brew is all aboot, eh?