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The Rules Have Changed

“if i am lost it’s only for a little while”

When I started Death To Sour Mix, I did it out of what (at the time) I believed to be a selfish necessity of what was lacking in the cocktail blogging community. Was there much of a community back then to begin with? If I was to compare 3 years ago to how bloggers, photographers, bartenders and home-aficionados operate online today, how information is shared through social networks, how craft cocktail bars, recipes, brands, etc., are disseminated, how that exquisite content is produced and how bloggers collaborate with each other now, I would say no. A cohesive, gorgeous and information blog is tough to manage in this digital era where your content needs to be of exceptional print quality with stellar writing and increasing production values to stay afloat; Where tweeting and instagram’ing is just as important as the blog post that went up at three in the morning. I look around at so many cocktail blogs now and I rejoice in what we’ve become. Where before I would generally recommend a handful, now I recommend them by categories and styles based on who’s asked the question. There are others that have been around much longer than me and have seen their sites evolve into works of art and new ones bring with them fresh takes on what is relevant, what is informative and together they are redefining the purpose of a cocktail blog. The rules have changed but the goal has stayed the same: produce that which you’re passionate about to the best of your ability & share it, with hopes that you’re not alone in your madness.

I stopped sharing my passion with the world for a long time. I shut everything down and worked on myself in a way that I cant recall ever attempting to in the past. It was with good reason, in my humble opinion; As Jordan Buckley would say “it is better to destroy than to create what is meaningless, so the picture will not be finished“. The last year of my life was filled with triumphant highs and heart-breaking lows. My personal & professional life were sinking ships with me in the center, not knowing which way to swim. Which is such a fucking cliche but drowning is perhaps the most constant feeling I’ve had throughout. Having struggled with lapses of depression throughout my life, I knew all too well that I needed help and that if I ever wanted to be the person I wanted to be, a lot needed to change; So I did just that, and I made new friends, discovered books without pictures, took some hard advice and changed what I hated while accepting that there are some that cannot change no matter how much you try and that you simply need to learn to let go. My mind and much to my surprise, my heart have long now healed and with the peace & happiness I’ve found in my battles, I am ready to move on in life.

Death to Sour Mix almost died but the ideal never will. While I was away, I’ve been bangin’ tins anywhere I can, pointing cameras in peoples faces, bartending, training, designing cocktail menus, learning about herbs, spirits, amyl nitrites. I’ve been busy as hell, but I can say with little humility that I am in the best shape of my life to write the shit out of this cocktail blog. Our time apart will only make for a better Death and I’m beyond excited to share whats to come with you all. Thank you all for your patience and your support, now go get the Jäger and lets make some drinks!

Sincerely yours,

Raul

Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event, Year 2: Into The Storm

2nd year of Death To Sour Mix: complete! …What that means exactly, I don’t know. I had plans and hopes & dreams for all of this but quite frankly, I’ve lost that clarity, along with so many other things as of late. So what does this site still mean to me? Everything. I love all the good things that have come from it, the wonderful people I’ve met and the amazing things I’ve been able to see and do. It hasn’t always been easy and currently, it isn’t, but interacting with people (both online and for-realz) has been by far the best gift for someone like me; Watching them unfold, transform, console and burn bright has been a true pleasure. I’ve looked at life through prismatic eyes over the past year and my enjoyment of this industry, its people and this very online medium has only grown, though it’s easy to become lost in all of this when navigating in the fog. Funny enough that I deal with ‘spirits’ on a daily basis, but my own feels a bit diluted as of late. It’s why you don’t read much from me these days; It’s why my smiles are in short supply and quickly followed by the cold rim of a glass.

I owe it to my readers (I guess that means you if you’re reading this right meow) & followers to continue making cocktails that nobody asked for and inappropriate jokes that are only funny 50% of the time.

So what is in store for this coming year?! Eventually, I WILL get my shit together again and stop just drinking whiskey out of the bottle (my fav cocktail recipe as of late), put on real pants that don’t have an elastic waist, tweeze my uni-brow and pick up where I left off:

1. I bought a Canon 6D. I will either use it to its full potential (better photography, VIDEO, event photos, tasteful nude selfies) or end up pawning it for tacos.
2. Revamping the entire site for 2015. Minimalist is cool but there’s all this empty space. Lets put some kitten pics all over and a “Myspace styling” that will really class up the joint.
3. New sections: A dedicated American craft section I’m calling “Beast of America”, distilleries and random encounters w my peers.
4. A podcast & YouTube channel. So this is still in early-development but I promise you they will be worth the wait.
5. MORE cocktail recipes. At one point I will dust off the bottles that aren’t marked as “daddy’s go juice” and I’ll start making weird drinks that only I can make.

I’m also planning for traveling, hands-on craft cocktail events in Boston, between the occasional bartending gig here and there. But that’s for another post.

In the end, I will continue to be me. For better or for worse. I know this post wasn’t so drink-related but more like an intervention for myself but I needed to get this out. The best compliment I’ve ever gotten for this blog is along the lines of “when I read it, I can hear your voice” which to me means that my genuine, awkward self comes through in what I write and because of that, I wanted to candidly share with you what’s been going on.

We will make it to year 3.

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Eventing: Saveur Best Food Blog Awards 2014

The Saveur Best Foof Blog Awards happened last month and here’s my very-late (too late??), super short post with less-than-stellar photogr— WAIT! Come back, please! I have booze!! BUT it’s only because way-more talented folks have already covered it (here, here, here, and here to name a few) in greater detail with prettier faces and fancier writing but here goes:

I won 2014’s Saveur Food Blog Awards: Editor’s choice for Best Cocktail Blog! [slow clap?] I got to meet Prairie Rose of Bit By A Fox, who won People’s Choice in the same boozy category. She was lovely and I miss her already.

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The “bromance” was strong at the BFBA’s in Vegas with not just one handsome gent but 2: Phil & Josh (sorry Dip & Tommy, I only go for dudes with blogs or Tumblrs that feature kittens, regardless of how cool you were). But all the wonderful ladies made me feel like one of the girls in no time ;]

Chocolate. So. Much. Chocolate. If you know me, you’d hate me but more importantly, you would also know that chocolate is my thing. I don’t know how to make it or quite frankly where it comes from (fairies? chocolate fairies?) but I died and went to chocolate heaven at the Bellagio. I’d show a photo of it but I shoved it in the face part of my head faster than they expected. Which then brings me to the food.

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I ate everything they put in front of me. Sometimes even off of other people’s plates (too slow, bro). I feel bad for anyone reading this that didn’t get sample that dim sum. sigh. As a cocktail blogger, I was most excited when there was booze around and Highland Park made sure we didn’t feel out of place with their tasty Scotch, which was in no short supply. See how happy everyone looks with a delicious drink in their hands?!?

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Then there’s the talent. These guys make you want to raise your blog-game QUICK. I’m fortunate for having spent what little, yet precious time I could with them & share a laugh (or a drink or other random delicious treats) with them and look forward to reading along in their blogs, books and unavoidable drunken Facebook posts.

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I wish I could have got to meet them all but even beautiful social butterflies like myself have a limit!

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Here I am with my BFBA 2014 award, which I will request I be buried with one day (hopefully they’ll throw in some Bellagio chocolate too).

A big THANK YOU to all the fabulous people of Saveur for allowing me to join in on the fun and for executing such a memorable event.

Blog Stalker: Stir and Strain

Lets try something a bit different and see how it goes…

So there’s all this great content online, just brimming with new ideas and inspiration; Content that I view and take cues from as to what to do, what NOT to do and more importantly, how to create my own content without simply regurgitating someone else’s hard work and slapping a new coat of paint on it. That shit’s hard to do. But I wouldnt put the effort I do into my own li’l site if I didnt think it could be done. For the most part.

So once a month (for now), I’ll be showcasing a blog or site that I believe is of value, purpose and/or stunning design. I’ll kiss their butt a bit in the form of a poor description and then I’ll mix a few of their drinks exactly as noted or (let’s be honest here) as close to them as possible.

Up first on the chopping block: StirandStrain.com

Full disclosure: I almost didn’t start my own site because of this gorgeous blog. I wanted to make something pretty, with fun banter and great taste in cocktails, then I find this site (how I don’t remember) and I decided only to move forward with mine because she doesn’t drop enough F bombs. Elana (who is a pretty rad human being from what I can tell by following her on instagram/twitter) runs that shrine to mixology and so fucking jealous photography. I think she saved some ferrets from a burning building in Rhode Island once too. I cant recall. If you don’t know this site but for some reason know mine, get on it quick. The drinks pack a punch, the writing is fun and inviting (like what you’d find in 50 Shades of Grey) and the photos will melt your face.

So now that we got the formalities out of the way, lets move onto the stirandstrain.com drinks:

Aviation [ Elana’s variation on the classic ]

This is a cool one to show Elana’s variations on what’s out there and how changing something small can produce a welcomed new addition to the seemingly old and familiar. I mainly wanted to try this one since I too am not a fan of the OG Aviation cocktail. 

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Recipe HERE 

Eagle Rock [  go easy on these ]

Look at that list of ingredients. Mmmm. Tho I will admit I liked it a bit more with 10 yr. Bulleit Bourbon. I cant recall how many of these I’ve made since. 

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Recipe HERE

These are just a couple of cocktails I bastardized from her site, but maybe you can give them a more faithful representation in your bar. I’m certain stirandstrain.com will quickly climb your cocktail reading list (if not already) and promptly make you a fan. Just like me.

[ enjoy ]

Abandonment Issues

My poor little blog…what have I done to you?! I’ve been away far too long, busy with moving and (seemingly) endless trips to Home Depot and the dentist. But you’re right, those are just excuses and you deserve better than that from me. Don’t you worry tho. We’ll be drinking together soon. How soon?! Hmm What are you doing tomorrow? You know I cant drink in the daytime tho, I still have remnants of decency left.

We should be back to business now that I have my liquor where it belongs (my cold dead hands) and a brand new drink station where I’ll be crafting these sons of bitches on a regular pace. I have voids to fill (that’s what he said! I’ll STFU now) in drinks containing rum, so I’ll be hitting those pretty hard. What said drinks will be, I have no idea. But I know this: they’ll have rum and will probably be cold. Perhaps even served in a cup of sorts? Yeah.