Wear Your Drinkhacker Colors: The Official Drinkhacker T-Shirt

Ever been out and about, wishing you could tell the world how much you loved Drinkhacker, but didn’t know how? Well, the solution is here: The Official Drinkhacker T-Shirt!

No mystery here. This is a bright red men’s-style tee, a nice and thick, high-grade Hanes tagless, kitted out with the Drinkhacker logo and the symbol of all our covetousness. Order one today and you’ll be proudly spreading the Gospel of Drinkhacker within a week!

Hey: Want other shirt styles (like slimmer-fit women’s tees) or different colors — or do you want other Drinkhacker-logo’d merchandise? (Hoodies? Pillows? Cell phone cases? A towel?) Leave us a comment below and we’ll whip something up for you!

Thanks to Sean Hosley for his work on the design!

Want to Write About Wine, Beer, and Spirits? We’re Hiring!

Drinkhacker is hiring!

We’re looking for a few good writers who know their way around a whiskey bottle or a winery. Are you an experienced writer who can cover any of these?

  • News and trends in the world of alcoholic beverages
  • Answers to common questions about the world of wine and spirits
  • Opinion stories about the state of the industry
  • Cocktail recipes (original or curated)
  • Product reviews of new wine, beer, or spirit releases
  • Your local bar scene
  • Interviews with distillers, brewers, and winemakers

If you’re passionate about this industry and can write — and you know what you’re talking about — we’re interested in putting your skills to work for our readers. Drinkhacker pays (nominally) for every published blog post — but more importantly you’ll be exposed to some of the best beverages the world has to offer. Depending on your location, perks may also include invitations to industry events, bar and restaurant openings, and even free travel opportunities.

Interested? Submit a letter of interest and writing samples to null at drinkhacker.com and we’ll go from there!

Christmas Drinking – A Drinkhacker Spotify Playlist

In the spirit of the holiday season, we present for your consideration our very first Drinkhacker Spotify playlist. We volleyed songs back and forth to come up with an hour-plus long playlist suitable for a wide variety of holiday drinking environments. Tune in, and get your nog on.

What are some of your favorite holiday songs? Drop us a line in the comments field. In the meantime, enjoy!

Notes on Grading

Today I received a comment on my review of the 2013 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. The commenter asked whether my B+ rating of this year’s George T. Stagg bourbon meant I would rather drink Stagg Jr., which I awarded with an A rating last month.

It’s a good question, but also a bad one in some ways.

Grades and ratings are a tricky subject. I like grades. I use them the same way you the reader probably do: As a shortcut indicator of my overall impression of something. It’s much easier to say “Drinkhacker gave Stagg Jr. an A” than it is to say (or remember) “Drinkhacker said Stagg Jr. featured quite a collection of flavors, but it’s all in balance and not over-wooded.” I get that.

The problem comes when you have to start comparing products, and this has been a challenge for both readers and critics for ages. As many of you know, I’ve been a professional film critic for more than 20 years, and I’ve dealt with this issue (literally) thousands of times. Is Fight Club better than E.T.Is Annie Hall better than Citizen Kane? I don’t know the answer to either of those questions. I love all of those movies — perhaps even equally — but I might “grade” them differently.

In general, any critic will tell you grades are meant as a rough guideline, and they are completely subjective. In the case of a spirit (like it or not), a grade is impacted by what I’ve recently reviewed, the state of my palate at the moment, my opinion about the value of the product, and even what I ate earlier in the day. I will often review a spirit over more than one day to try to mitigate some of the variability in this, but in the end it’s always going to be completely subjective.

One special caveat is that I generally don’t intend ratings to be competitive. If I gave a $12 bottle of wine an A and a $3500 bottle of Cognac a B+, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’d always drink that $12 bottle of wine if given a choice. The Cognac may have a lower rating due to value considerations, or the wine may have a higher one for the same reason. The Cognac may in fact be wonderful — a B+ is a solid rating, after all — but may have a finish that I don’t like or some other defect that otherwise sullies what is in fact a delightful experience on the whole.

Now, in the case of Stagg vs. Stagg, the competitive nature of the rating is hard to avoid. Stagg Jr. is in fact a lower-cost reproduction of sorts of Stagg Sr., so how could you not compare them? Well, go ahead and do so. Remember of course that Stagg Sr. is an annual release that varies (a lot) every year, while Stagg Jr. is meant to be a regularly available bottling. Would I recommend Stagg Jr. over the 2013 Stagg Sr.? Yes, I would. But I wouldn’t say the same thing for 2010 or 2009 Stagg. 2013 is just a slightly weaker year for this classic bottling.

The bottom line is that I enjoyed both of these whiskeys, but I wouldn’t hesitate to order either one if they were offered to me at a bar. The catch is I would choose one over the other based on the mood I was in… and, of course, how much it was going to cost me.

Let my grades be a guideline, but ultimately your palate is your own. Use it and, please, share your own opinions in the comments!

Poll: How Would You Like Drinkhacker’s Home Page to Look?

Quick question for regular readers.

We’ve long put full stories and images on the home page, and I’m concerned that this may just be a bit too much to digest, and that it may be burying content down the page that people would like to see more easily. So I’m taking a poll:

Would you prefer the site to A) stay the way it is or B) change to a new design where the home page provides a digest of many posts (just the first paragraph, perhaps), and you have to click the post title to read more.

Vote here or leave a comment on Facebook, thanks!

“Bad Santa” Running Amok with Poisoned Schnapps

Remember, never take a drink from a stranger — even one dressed as Santa Claus.

A 15-year-old girl fell ill at a Berlin Christmas market on Saturday, bringing to eight the number of confirmed Christmas-market-poisonings this week. This time, though, the poisoner was apparently dressed as Santa Claus.

The unknown man offered the girl a paper cup containing the German spirit Schnaps at the market near Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. After drinking it, she vomited and suffered short-term memory loss.

Doctors confirmed that a substance, not yet identified, had been mixed into the drink….

Police said the victims may have been given a mixture of alcohol and so-called “knockout drops” meant to render people unconscious so they can be robbed or sexually assaulted.