“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”
That’s a quote from James Joyce. Or, you can go with a more American icon…
I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly…
–Ron Burgundy, “Anchorman”
It’s been one of those weeks. Filled to the brim and overflowing, both at work and at home. Actually, at work at home. Besides writing posts, I haven’t had time for reading other blogs, Web sites, or news reports. I feel like I really don’t even know what’s going on out there, let alone do I have an opinion about it. Deadline pressure at work has forced me to take it home with me. If I were paid a salary, I guess one would consider that a part of the job. But since I get paid hourly, and only when actually at the office, it just seems like I’m doing stuff for free, and I hate that. But my life will be better when I can get on top of the crush and not beneath it.
On Wednesday, however, I squeezed in a short break. Two buddies and I went to the Industry Public House, a new bar and grill here in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lawrenceville. We’ve had a lot of these opening as of late. They have all become very trendy. They are the kinds of places where a guy like me (over 40) can feel more like an intruder than a customer. There’s the Round Corner Cantina, New Amsterdam, Eclipse, and Tamari, all filled at night with skinny jeans, strategically mismatched layers of American Apparel, and expensively ironic eye wear. You know, hipsters.
It was nice to discover that Industry is much more of a neighborhood joint than a see-and-be-seen pick-up emporium. Now, I’m not going in there at 11:30 on a Saturday night, but at 7:30 on a Wednesday night, it was a breath of fresh air. It’s a great layout. Huge u-shaped bar with tables (made from steel girders) on the outside. I had already had dinner, so I was only in it for the booze. But my friends had food. From all I’ve heard of their kitchen, it’s not going to win any culinary awards, but it’s not objectionable. What is prize-worthy, however, is the liquor. They have a huge selection of two things: beer and scotch — pages and pages of each. Beer-wise, they feature a full array of IPAs, stouts, and ales, including ones from the local Full Pint Brewery. They have more than 60 artisinal bourbons, and Scottish and American whiskeys.
As you know, bourbons are only made in Kentucky. Otherwise, they are basically scotch. But the added bonus is the “smoke stack.”
Pick any scotch or bourbon and for an extra three bucks, they will infuse it with your choice of three flavors of wood smoke: apple, cherry, or mesquite. Yes, we were going with this one.
I went with a mid-shelf Knob Creek Kentucky bourbon. My friend, Chris, went with the more inexpensive Wild Turkey. We both went with the mesquite wood. It just reminds me of walking around my parents’ neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona, in the winter, when everyone is burning mesquite in their fire places. It really makes you feel like you are in the West.
The smoke stack is quite the floor show. First comes three shots of bourbon. Then a splash of maple syrup and a few dashes of bitters. A martini strainer is put on top of the glass. The bartender then puts a few nuggets of wood on the strainer and lights it up with the power of butane.
It ‘s a bit dark for iPhone photography in the Industry Public House. But you can see my drink on the left, smoking away while he fires up Chris’ campfire. Mine has a mixer on top of it to let the smoke infuse for a few minutes. Then, he garnishes it with an orange peel and one over-sized ice cube. I like the large ice cubs. That way, the ice melts much more slowly and doesn’t water down the drink too fast.
The result is a little bit of Kentucky heaven. The flavors all mix together brilliantly. You never really taste the syrup or the bitters or even the smoke. And the smoke takes the edge off of the scotch. It’s just so smooth. I decided to follow it up with a second Knob Creek by itself (no smoke) and the first sip really knocked me back with its strength. It just underlined how smooth the first one was.
Yeah, this might become my occasional treat. I’m planning to go back and try both the cherry and apple woods at some point. Maybe I’ll try the actual Scotch from Scotland next time. And maybe next time, I’ll go hungry so that I can enjoy the pot-roast fries, drenched in gravy and bits of slow-cooked beef. Or the Catalyst Chilli. Vegetarian? Try the Truffled Fries with sage, rosemary, truffle oil, and Gorgonzola. You’re welcome. There’s huge burgers (topped with wild boar bacon?) and all sorts of other pub food fare.
Not into beer and scotch. Try the Confection: Three Olives cake vodka mixed with cake batter, chocolate liqueur, and cream, finished with an explosion of multicolored jimmies, and served in an icing-laced glass. How did I not get the memo that cake-flavored vodka is a thing? It’s probably for the best.
Check ‘em out at http://www.industrypgh.com/.
Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.
– Mark Twain