Archives for posts with tag: recommendation
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I love whisky but John Hansell, pictured above, of the fantastic Whisky Advocate Blog (formerly WhatDoesJohnKnow.com) loooves whisky. Every year, the folks over at Whisky Advocate (formerly Malt Advocate) give out awards to the whiskies that they believe were truly exceptional. Here’s a quick link to last year’s winners and below are this year’s winners along with links to the articles where you can learn more about them about them:

If you like whisky, I highly recommend checking out this blog. It’s impossible for most of us to taste all the whiskies that come out each year, so it’s great to have a guy like Mr. Hansell doing the “dirty” work for us. He makes the world of whisky accessible, informative and fun and he tries to keep in mind the budget of regular folks while he’s doing it. As you can see from the prices, many of these whiskies are very competitively priced**. 

Of the winners, I’ve only had the Redbreast Irish whiskey, which is great, although I’ve had other expressions from most of these distilleries. Now, I just have to figure out which one to try first. I’m leaning toward the Compass Box or the Bruichladdich, although I’m sure that all of these are amazing in their own way!

**Keep in mind that a $90 whisky is equivalent to a $25-$30 bottle of wine when you think about the amount of servings per bottle. A $25-$30 bottle of wine isn’t cheap but it’s a fair purchase to justify once in a while. Same with whisky, only you get to multiply the price by three or four.

Even though I've previously poo-poo'd the idea of getting myself an iPad, apps like this have definitely made me come around. I was completely, wrong, okay?! Recently, I've been holding out for the iPad 3, which I'm hoping is coming this Spring (birthday in May, people!), however, after seeing this, I don't know if I can wait. 

Kids today are just so damn lucky; not only do they get cool apps like this but apparently they have lizards just running loose in the house! I had to keep mine in a terrarium!

Thanks to my buddy John Paro for sending this link my way. 
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If you like whiskey and trying new things, have I got a recommendation for you. Whippersnapper, by Random Spirits, is a 79% corn mash whiskey that smells like nothing I've ever come across and tastes like a whiskey much older than it is. Despite it being produced mainly from corn, the aging process precludes this Oregonian whiskey from being considered a bourbon. What's the aging process, you ask? Well, I'm glad you did!

Aging takes place in a variety of barrels, including used French coopered pinot noir barrels, new American coopered whiskey barrels, and used American whiskey barrels. The whippersnapper is aged for between six months and two years, with an average time of about one year.

Three different homes in less than two years? This whiskey is like the army brat of American spirits! What you get from such an involved process is an absolutely wonderful and unique flavor profile. If you can find a bottle of this good, good stuff, I highly recommend picking it up. It's not easy to find but at the time of this post, it was available at K&L.

Thanks to Tyler for buying this bottle for Adam and to Adam for sharing it with his friends! And congrats to Adam on his upcoming nuptials!

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John Hansell (pictured above) is the head honcho over at Malt Advocate and What Does John Know? is his very accessible, very well-written blog about what’s going on in the world of whisk(e)y. I’m a big fan of the blog and my favorite feature of the year–the Malt Advocate Whisky Awards–just finished up. It’s a great blog and I really recommend reading it on an ongoing basis but for those of you interested in cutting to the chase and getting to the winners, here are the links:

My favorite thing about the awards is that these are generally pretty affordable whiskies that are available for purchase in the US**. Although Mr. Hansell has no problem writing about the whiskies that will never make it to America or that cost as much as a private island, he’s wise to eliminate those whiskies from contention in the awards. 

Of the winners, the only one I’ve tried is the Eagle Rare 17-year-old bourbon, which was recommended to me by a bartender at Bigfoot West. That bourbon, that bar and that bartender are all awesome, although I didn’t catch the bartender’s name. As for the rest of the winners, I’ve not gotten the chance to try them but I can’t wait to change that!

**Keep in mind that a $90 whisky is equivalent to a $25-$30 bottle of wine when you think about the amount of servings per bottle. A $25-$30 bottle of wine isn’t cheap but it’s a fair purchase to justify once in a while. Same with whisky, only you get to multiply the price by three or four.

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Yesterday morning, Aaron Kronis, Wpromote’s SEO Evangelist, sent me a fascinating article about JCPenney’s rise and fall in the Google organic search results. I really suggest reading it if you have any interest in the dangers of black hat practices in search engine optimization. What struck me as most interesting, though, wasn’t the article itself but the very limited amount of space that the NY Times dedicated to actual news. Check out the image above and refer to the key below to classify the delegation of space on the page:

Red = Ads
Orange = Internal linking
Blue = Social network linking
Purple = Absurdly giant image
Green = Actual news article

Using this image as a guide, it would seem that the NY Times dedicated less than 9% of the real estate on the page above the fold to the actual article that I was trying to read. This estimate is fairly generous, as my monitor is pretty darn big. According to Google’s handy Browser Size tool, less than 10% of users would even be able to see the first line of text in the article without scrolling down.

I have no way of knowing how many people were as put off as I was by this–maybe that number is very small–but I can’t imagine that presenting information in this confusing package is good for the user experience. I’ve been tired of all the junk on content sites for long enough that I’ve downloaded Readability, which presents that same article like this, and does so for free. I highly recommend that anyone interested in getting their news in a more legible, less busy package invest the zero dollars it costs to download Readability right away.

I have nothing against ads or optimizing a site as much to impress Google as the actual user. In fact, my livelihood depends on both. I do object, though, when design focuses solely on these two issues and ignores the user experience altogether. The most valuable asset that the NY Times has is the content generated by its reporters. To dedicate so much real estate to ancillary assets seems counterintuitive to me. Without knowing what the analytics account for the NY Times looks like, though, I can only speculate at whether this strategy is hurting or paying off. I just know that for my experience, I’m going to continue to actively remove all excess content through the use of applications like Readability. If more and more users agree with me, it could lower the page views per visit, decrease the interaction with ads and ultimately harm the NY Times in their ability to brand their content.

After all, everything looks the same on Readability. This writeup which I envisioned being a editorial on the JC Penney story ended up being an endorsement for a third party reading application. The more people who are turned off by the way the NY Times presents its content, the more difficult it will be for the NY Times to leverage that content and stay competitive in the increasingly digital world of reporting the news. 

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This morning, Josh said, “If you dont get these, I will lose respect for your whiskey drinking abilities.” Then, we realized that these glasses don’t appear to be available for purchase just yet. Even if they were, though, it begs the question, “what is a good whisky glass?” 

The Kacper Hamilton glass pictured above is pretty baller. Actually, it’s really baller, but I’m not sure it’s a good whisky glass. The addition of the hole was meant to “create a more engaging experience when drinking whiskey,” according to the designers. I don’t know about that but I do know that if you’re on your fourth pour, that hole isn’t going to help you out unless your goal is to spill all over the table. Still, these glasses are pretty cool looking and I’m sure that they’re no worse than your run-of-the-mill snifter in terms of enjoying the Scotch.

I’m no expert (I’m just a dude who likes Scotch a lot) but, for me, there is no better Scotch glass than the classic Glencairn glass. It’s durable, it’s nice-looking, it’s affordable and it does a great job presenting the Scotch for nosing. I have some Riedel glasses at my house and I really like them, however, they are extremely fragile and they chip around the rim in the dishwasher without fail. If you’ve never been yelled at for leaving a glass out, only to find that the person doing the yelling ended up chipping your favorite glass in the dishwasher, it’s a confusing feeling. You want to get mad back but you know that that will just remind the person of your slovenly habit of leaving glasses lying around.

Like I said, go with the Glencairns. Even if those holey glasses are available for purchase, they just don’t look dishwasher safe to me.   

[Gizmodo via Josh Tauber]
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…is not this guy! I'm serious!

Have you been to the Masters website yet? I think that it is, far and away, the most well-designed sports website I've ever seen.

First of all, you can watch the whole thing online. Most of us are working and shouldn't be watching golf while putting together reports for clients, however, for research purposes, I checked it out for a few minutes. The streaming was ad-free, smooth and syched perfectly with the audio. It was probably the best streaming event I've viewed online. Furthermore, you could put your attention on five different areas, from keeping an eye on the 15th and 16th hole to tracking the featured group. This sort of choice makes watching the event online even better than watching on television!

Second of all, the highlights are amazing. Check out this system:

Here I am on the home page.

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Now, I'm checking out the leaderboard.

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I've chosen to check out Fred Couples' leading scorecard. As you can see, every hole that has a yellow box contains video highlight.

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Here's an example of in-video action from the highlights.

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How awesome is that interface? Can you imagine looking at a baseball game and being able to watch just the outs and hits instead of the menagerie of plays that ESPN chooses for you? What happened in the eighth inning? Click. Now you see it. Of course, to do this for all the golfers at the Masters is an even more impressive feat.

It's great to see an event like the Masters build a website that lives up to its potential. Compared to the bloated, ad-heavy, slow-moving site that ESPN has become, the Masters' site is a breath of fresh air. Kudos to the geeks behind Augusta's site who put this together!

So, enjoy the Masters online but be careful; if you work in an office with a large percentage of men over 35, websites like this could destroy your company's bandwidth and productivity!

I was going to save this for Friday but it seems that a lot of people around the office have already seen it. Therefore, I figured I'd just post the video and be done with it.

This is a little video/slide show I made commemorating Wpromote's trip to Medieval Times. If you haven't been and you've never seen the movie The Cable Guy, Medieval Times is a giant castle in Anaheim, CA where you go to eat dinner with your hands and watch knights beat the tar out of one another. It's awesome. Wpromote, as you can see, received the Red Knight to root for and our boy delivered. He defeated the Blue, Yellow, Green, Black & White and Yellow & Red knights to win the tournament and send all of the Wpromoters into a frenzy. We all had an awesome time. If ever you're looking for a great place for a group outing and you're in Southern California, do yourself a favor and go to Medieval Times. As long as you come with a big group and you're all ready to cheer your heads off, you'll have an amazing time, even if your knight can't manage to defeat Wpromote's mighty Red Knight.

Please enjoy the video; it's the first time I've used iMovie so there aren't any real special effects or anything. And if you're curious, the shredtastic song playing is "Through the Fire and Flames" by Dragonforce.

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I wouldn't ever call myself a connoisseur of anything; it's like saying that you're not just a "fan" but also that you're really, really good at being a fan. Like, better than other people are at being fans. To boot, it just plain sounds pretentious and pretension is something to be avoided. So, although I wouldn't consider myself a podcast connoisseur, I would say that I'm somewhere between fan and connoisseur without being a crazy person or a jerk.

I've got sports podcasts, humor podcasts, historical podcasts and news podcasts and one of them is always playing in the background while I work.

The best one–by far–is Uhh Yeah Dude.

Uhh Yeah Dude is a podcast about America through the eyes of two American Americans. Those American Americans, Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Laroquette, put together my favorite podcast in the whole, wide world on a weekly basis.

Since I first heard my first episode, I have completely disregarded all my other podcasts. If my other podcasts were houseplants, they would all be wilted and brown from lack of water. There is no podcast that I've ever heard that has such a satisfying combination of comedy, honesty, heart and personality.

To anyone looking for a new outlet for comedy, I would highly recommend checking out Uhh Yeah Dude. Do yourself a favor and start at the beginning and give yourself three full episodes to get into the swing of it. Once you've gotten that far, you either will be hooked or will have diagnosed yourself as a person missing one sense of humor.

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I was in New York this past weekend for the purpose of taking a Google test. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to talk about that, plus it’s not very interesting, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Anyway, whenever you travel to New York, it’s important to choose your restaurants and bars with care. There are so many great places that you don’t want to waste a single meal with a less-than-phenomenal selection. I had two dinners in New York and they were at two amazing places: the Spotted Pig and Otto. The former is a New York institution and served me one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. The latter is one of global restaurateur and chef extraordinaire, Mario Batali’s places and the appetizers, entree and dessert were all just terrific; I don’t even know which part I enjoyed most!

What’s amazing, though, is that my best experience wasn’t at either of these places! That title goes to Momofuku Ssäm, where my buddy, John, his brother, Michael, and I went for drinks and a late night snack after dinner. Our waiter was a nice, young gentleman of Korean descent by the name of Don Lee and he seemed to be the most knowledgeable waiter I had ever had. For example, I asked him why they had several drinks called “Old Fashioned” despite the fact that they weren’t bourbon or whiskey-based drinks. Don proceeded to explain the entire etymological history of the term “Old Fashioned” and it blew my mind as well as answered my question perfectly. The three of us each ordered different Old Fashioneds right away. The second surprise that Don had up his sleeve was that he was not only our waiter but our bartender to boot! We watched him work and it was immediately obvious that he knew what he was doing.

The drinks arrived and John and Michael each had a single 2″ x 2″ super-clear ice cube in theirs; that’s generally a telltale sign that a place respects the art of mixology because the water in the cube is probably extra pure and the size means that the ice will not water down a drink as quickly. All three drinks were outstanding. Michael had to leave to go to another party but John and I stayed and order two more drinks each over the next couple of hours. Of course, we tried to talk to Don as much as possible as well. He seemed to know everything not only about mixology but also about food and restaurants in both New York and Los Angeles. He even gave me a list of places to check out when I got back to LA**. Oh, and before I forget, we each got one of the pork belly steamed bun sandwiches and they were truly outstanding. As it turns out, Momofuku is just as good at preparing food as drinks.

When we settled the bill, Don let us know that the last round was on him. No reason, he’s just the greatest! As we were leaving and aiming a chorus of thanks at Don, I added, “By the way. Not only was this phenomenal but I noticed that although you only carry four Scotches, each one is an outstanding choice. I see Asayla and Peat Monster from Compass Box (the best blender of Scotch in my opinion), Laphroaig Cask Strength (you almost never see this gem in bars) and Glenlivet 12 (a classic). I just think that’s awesome because I love Scotch and if I had to choose four to carry in my bar, these would all be finalists.” Don then asked me if I had ever tried the leading Japanese “Scotch equivalent” called Yamazaki. No sooner had I responded with “no,” and there was a dram poured in front of me. I tasted it and passed it to John so that he could try it. Not bad! We thanked Don and were about to leave before he stopped us and said, “Wait, I’ve got one more for you.”

Don reached under the bar and pulled out a drink I had never heard of called Tyrconnell Irish Whiskey. He claimed it was the only true single malt from Ireland. “Wait,” I countered, “I have a bottle of Bushmill’s 10-year single malt at my house.” For a moment, I thought I had bested the master but Don responded, “Oh yeah, well, that’s not really a single malt in the true sense.” He went on to explain that Bushmill’s used a single type of malted barely, however, the barley was taken from multiple harvests. This is sort of against the rules when labeling a whisk(e)y as a single malt. For the umpteenth time that night, Don was right. No worries though, he poured me a dram of Tyrconnell to try. It was delicious and, even though I didn’t want to, I passed the rest to John who agreed.

Let’s take a moment to recap: John and I each got five drinks over the course of the night; Don paid for three of them. Not only that but these were some of the best cocktails that I’ve ever had. In fact, my second drink was a Manhattan and it was easily the best one I’ve ever gotten and I order a Manhattan at almost every decent bar I visit (it’s my “litmus test” cocktail). By the way, if you order one and it’s served up–like a martini–don’t get your hopes up; Manhattan’s are meant to be served in a tumbler and that’s how Don prepared mine. As John and I paid Don our final compliments and made our way out the door, John said to me, “Man, I can’t wait until Don opens his own place. It will probably be even better than this one!” I agreed; Don seemed pretty young, so it was only a matter of time before he had his own restaurant.

When I got back to LA, John sent me this link, revealing that although Don did indeed seem young, he does, in fact, pretty much run the place! So, as it turns out, I won’t need to send an email to Momofuku’s management letting them know that they are the lucky employers of the greatest waiter and bartender in New York; seems like they probably already knows that!

So, if you’re ever in New York, do everything in your power to go to Momofuku Ssäm. And while you’re there, if you run into Don, do yourself a favor and get to know this guy. Some day, if there’s any justice in this world, he’s going to the biggest name in food an drink in New York. Trust me, that’s a guy you want on your side!

**The places that Don recommended in LA were: The Varnish, Seven Grand, Tar Pit and Copa D’Oro. If Don says they’re good, they are most certainly great!

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