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A quick stop in at Vitae Spirits was a great end to a day of intellectual pursuit at UVa. Vitae is a new distillery, but their outstanding product belies their young age.

Tasting three products: two rums and a gin

Hard to describe how good the rum is (with no aging at all), especially the oustanding Golden Rum product. Proprietor and founder Ian Glomski is a microbiologist by training and his scientific background really shines through. (Kind of reminds me of Becky Harris from Catoctin Creek since she was a chemist before turning to distilling.)

The remarkable Golden Rum is distilled with grilled sugar cane and molasses. Charcoaled american oak chips give it some interesting characteristics (and its color). Post production sugaring with molassas (fairly standard with many rums) happens when the spirit is brought down to 80 proof from its run up over 150.

The Platinum Rum is also very very good. Some readers may recall from WAY back that the first spirit NPS had under its belt was rum. This one stands up to the range.

The Modern Gin? We’ll just skip talking about that.

The Vitae still is also very interesting—a hybrid pot still/column still attached in-line.

The hybrid still

Though we have never seen a still quite like this before, NPS is told that many craft distillers use hybrids like this.

Pot

Column

The whole shebang

Of course yeast and mash make all the difference in the world. Here is where the microbes do their thing to make beer for the still. The beer only comes in around 4% when it is run. That is low by rum standards, but whatever Ian is doing is really working well.

We also tried some experimental Anisette which is still in experimentation stage. This product is very interesting. Ian is working out a post production infusion plan now (testing regular lemon versus meyers lemon). Thanks for the palate clearing yogurt from your personal stash Ian!

Strong design

The best way to finish a distillery visit is to run out and try the product in the wild. Toward that end, we made a quick visit to the Alley Light where we sampled a drink called Castro’s Ashes
1.5 oz Vitea Golden Rum
.75 oz Cynar
.75 oz sassafras vermouth (maybe ransom?)
4 drops BBQ bitters
stir down. Serve up in a coupe. Flame orange peel and balance on the edge.

Castro’s Ashes from Alley Light

NPS is bullish on Vitae Spirits. Check them out before they get big!

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Want to be near the Pacific in a terrific city? San Francisco can do that for you.

This visit included a bug free stay at the Buchanan Hotel in Japantown where Emily G and her excellent co-workers made us feel especially welcome. Here’s how.

First, the giant tetris game that is specific hotel room request came out in our favor and we secured 416 (the best room in the property with lots of windows and a great bathroom).

Yellow roses

Yellow roses

Second, yellow roses!

Third, a mystery gift…

What's in the bag?

What’s in the bag?

Sleepytime tea, honey, and some pottery mugs. Just like home.

Sleepytime tea, honey, and some pottery mugs. Just like home.

Arrival was delightful.

416 and roses

416 and roses

Notes, sparking water, cheese and fruit.  All good.  Plus tea!

Notes, sparking water, cheese and fruit. All good. Plus tea!

416 has a spacious bathroom with a glass shower. No plastic showers!!

The glass shower cube

The glass shower cube

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A little rain never hurt anything. Especially in drought stricken California. The fact that the weather was perfect for the weekend was, well, perfect.

Rainy day Japantown

Rainy day Japantown

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With the expert help of Jacob, Saturday’s itenerary was outstanding.

Brunch at Foreign Cinema was first. We used the show up at 10:45 and walk right in at 11 hack.

Foreign Cinema brunch

Foreign Cinema brunch

Followed by a quick last minute stint at the Farmer’s Market

Saturday morning market

Saturday morning market

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And a trip to Lands End.

Land's End

Land’s End

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Who's that?

Who’s that?

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Cocktail hour was spent at the always fantastic Smuggler’s Cove for tiki, rum, and conversation. A meeting of the secret book club was held.

Smuggler's Cove is one of the best bars in the world

Smuggler’s Cove is one of the best bars in the world

Dinner was at The Progress. Super fantastic, rollicking fun time. And the food was good too!

Sunday should start with a great brunch, say at the Hillside Supper Club.

And then a trip to Napa on a gorgeous day! Domaine Carneros is a great target, especially if you have club privileges.

One of my favorite wines in the world is Old Hill from Ravenswood.

Pizza evening (due to a 2 hour wait at the sushi place we targetted) was followed by a visit to the delightful Churchhill bar. This is a low key almost dive like neighborhood place with an outstanding collection of serious booze.

In other San Francisco fun NPS gladly notes the following establishments:
lunch (every day) at cafe claude
ramen in Japantown at Waraku
fun and games with superb cocktails at Forgery
world class brunch at Plow
jacques incredible cocktails in a relaxed and gorgeous room at Wildhawk
outstanding food at rich table

About which these twitterz:

Thursday madness was particularly fun this iteration.

Five showerheads with a wink and a nod for the Buchanan where everything went as planned.

NPS cleans the bar

June 30, 2016

Sometimes the bar must be cleaned. Here is a series of tweets from the @noplasticshower stream (follow us today)!

This accounts for about half of the collection. The other half (reserves mostly) are under the bar itself.

What happens in Lichtervelde? Rum happens, especially at Madou’s abode.

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Here is how it went.

Hey guys, what about Eenie Meenie?

Hey guys, what about Eenie Meenie?

Pre-bar chaos reminds me of home in the old days

Pre-bar chaos reminds me of home in the old days

The Lineup: 12 rums

The Lineup: 12 rums

Cartavio 12 Años – PERU

Cartavio 12 Años - PERU

Cartavio 12 Años – PERU

Very oaky. Hot start. Sugar overcome by oak. 80 proof. SCORE: 4

Millonario XO – PERU

Millonario XO - PERU

Millonario XO – PERU

Plenty of oak (again). Sugar more present. Blackstrap molasses. Madou’s choice. 80 proof. SCORE: 7

Zafra 21 Yrs – PANAMA

Zafra 21 Yrs - PANAMA

Zafra 21 Yrs – PANAMA

Banana. Fairly flat. Not hot. Not much curl. Watery. 80 proof. SCORE: 5

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) - MARTINIQUE

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Ah. Island rum. Better alcohol content. Balanced finish. Proof 88. SCORE: 8

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) - MARTINIQUE

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Super hot but fair. Best yet (after dinner). Balanced and masterful. Proof 93.6. SCORE: 9

Brugal reserve extra viejo – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Brugal reserve extra viejo - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Brugal reserve extra viejo – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Blech. Please mix with anything. Tiki level rum. H2O. Proof 76. SCORE: 2

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs – JAMAICA

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs - JAMAICA

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs – JAMAICA

Terrible nose. But not a bad rum. Banana. Proof 80. SCORE: 6

Angostura premium rum 1824 – TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Angostura premium rum 1824 - TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Angostura premium rum 1824 – TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Nose just hurts. Central America bend at end. Odd and slightly scottish. Proof 80. SCORE: 4

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Jasmine nose. Bitter finish. Over oaked. Sugar front. Proof 86. SCORE: 6

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS – ST LUCIA (aged)

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS - ST LUCIA (aged)

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS – ST LUCIA (aged)

Varnish nose. Stagg hot. Melts. Too many esthers. Proof 122.6. SCORE: 4

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 – HAITI

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 - HAITI

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 – HAITI

Good balanced rum. Hot nose. Balanced oak. Whiskey sensibility. Lite. Proof 90. SCORE: 6

Koloa Kaua’i gold – HAWAII

Koloa Kaua'i gold - HAWAII

Koloa Kaua’i gold – HAWAII

Armpit nose. Super flat. Yawn. Water. Proof 80. SCORE: 3

Tasting notes were kept.

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The verdict is in.

Rum re-ordered by notes and including dreft

Rum re-ordered by notes and including dreft

The final order:
1. Clement single cask
2. Clement cuvée
3. Millonario
4. Barceló
5. Samarold
6. Coruba
7. Zafra
8. Angostura
9. Cartavio
10. Hamilton
11. Koloa
12. Brugal
13. Dreft

Special guest rum

Special guest rum (slot 13)

Special guest rum (slot 13)

Of course, we would be remiss in our NPS duties if we did not report on the shower situation. It is excellent. And madou built the shower himself! Five showerheads.

The non-plastic shower

The non-plastic shower

Non-plastic shower technology system

Non-plastic shower technology system

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Thanks madou!

The dark and stormy is a famous drink of sailors worldwide. The usual way to make a dark and stormy is to liberally add a bunch of good rum to some real ginger beer. The more drinks you have, the more rum and less ginger beer ends up in the mix. This leads to talking like a pirate and toe sailing in most situations.

For the house dark and stormy, we’re getting fancy. First off we use Amy’s homemade ginger beer (grated ginger, yeast, sugar, water plus time). Then we add some Angostura bitters and lime to the ginger beer to plus it up.

Dark and Stormy ][+
2 oz Mt Gay Extra Old Rum (could use Goslings)
3/4 cup fresh ginger geer
4 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 oz fresh lime
Stir the ginger beer, bitters and lime together in a whiskey glass with a big ice cube. Float the rum over the mixture.

Did we party?!

Did we party?!

I was just here at the Zetter in November and was completely psyched to find a hotel that did not suck in London. The Zetter and the Zetter Townhouse way do not suck.

Somewhat miraculously, United did the right thing by me on this trip to Europe with in advance upgrades on both ends. (Isn’t it ironic that merely acceptable behavior by United is so rare that it deserved kudos?!) So maybe I was in a great mood even on 3 hours of “plane sleep.” No matter what it was, though, the Zetter staff made me feel immediately welcome on my arrival.

The Zetter as seen from Workshop Coffee.

The Zetter as seen from Workshop Coffee.

The front desk staff kindly allowed me to use room 101 to take a shower in the morning since someone was still in the room I was ultimately destined to stay in. Room 101 is great for a shower.

Room 101 TV.

Room 101 TV.

Room 101 shower (ahhhh).

Room 101 shower (ahhhh).

Room 101 is about the same size as its bed.

Room 101 is about the same size as its bed.

But even after breakfast and a shower, I still had some time to kill before my room was ready, so I headed over to the Zetter Townhouse to get some work done. I was met by head barman and gracious host Kamil Foltan. He and I sat in the back getting work done and chatting every once in a while for a couple of hours. Finally, room 503 was ready. It was worth the wait.

Eyes to the right.

Room 503.  Curved windows overlooking the city.

Room 503. Curved windows overlooking the city.

Eyes to the left.

The work nook.  Sadly, lots of actual work is happening here.

The work nook. Sadly, lots of actual work is happening here.

I must admit that the bathroom on 503 could use an update. The shower is pretty good, but it does have a shower curtain. You all know how we feel about that around here!

Smallish bathroom through the door.

Smallish bathroom through the door.

We will pretend this curtain is glass.

We will pretend this curtain is glass.

I guess over on this side of the pond they have not yet started to install insanely large tubs that I never have time to use next to a glass shower cube. Alas.

The view and the gorgeous balcony more than makes up for the bathroom.

View from 503 balcony.

View from 503 balcony.

The new London pyramid and a cathedral share the skyline with a smoking chimney on an ugly building.  Classic London.

The new London pyramid and a cathedral share the skyline. Classic London.

Too bad about the weather though. Rainy and gray. Oh well, that was to be expected. All in all a five showerheads rating for the Zetter again. Great space, great staff, excellent all around.

London from the Tate Modern restaurant.  Rain rain rain.

London from the Tate Modern restaurant. Rain rain rain.

Coffee Workshop wallpaper.  ARRRR!

Coffee Workshop wallpaper. ARRRR!

In other London news, the Clerkenwell neighborhood remains interesting. The best coffee I have ever had in London can be found at Workshop Coffee just down the street from the Zetter. Mixology at the Zetter Townhouse is still in full swing (I must admit that I go for more boozy and bitter than they seem to have taste for on their menu, but you can get a Liberal!!). The Tate Modern is one of my favorite all time museums (loved the Sphinx by Fini).

Petit Sphinx Ermite by Leonor Fini (Tate Modern)

Petit Sphinx Ermite by Leonor Fini (Tate Modern)

Inside the Zetter Townhouse.  View from the couch (which was almost denied us by the little girl minding the door).

Inside the Zetter Townhouse. View from the couch (which was almost denied us by the little girl minding the door).

Superb dinner at Moro.

Kamil introduced me to a new rum at the Zetter Townhouse. Almost as good as Havana Club Cuban cask strength Anejo. Wow. And get this, it’s from Venezuela.

Santa Teresa 1796 rum from Venezuela.

Santa Teresa 1796 rum from Venezuela.

A dinner right next door at The Modern Pantry included one of the best desserts I have ever been served in an upscale restaurant. We had some trouble with the Zetter front desk getting dinner set up, but persistence paid off.

Another restaurant worth mentioning is The Tramshed where you can find great steak, a cow in formaldehyde (Damien Hirst), and lesbian petting in the gents.

This is not the cow you're looking for.

This is not the cow you’re looking for.

After dinner we went for a romp through Happiness Forgets (which was obviously teleported in from NY) and the Artesian at the Langham which is just a bit too posh for its own good, for example proudly proclaiming itself the “best bar in the world.” Happiness Forgets is excellent indeed. Artesian? Meh. Though the rum selection really is the best I have ever seen.

We handle posh by ordering this:

A posh drink with a purple skull phone from Artesian.

A posh drink with a purple skull phone from Artesian.