A Taste of Bourbon: NBA Championship Edition

Golden-font-b-State-b-font-font-b-Warriors-b-font-National-Basketball-Associatio-Champions-FlagI don’t get to write about sports on this blog. Correction, I don’t get to write posts solely about sports on this blog. So when amazing things happen to my favorite sports franchise, the Golden State Warriors, I am encouraged to find a way to connect drinking or movies or TV to sports. If I were smarter or worked harder at this, I’d probably find creative solutions to the fact that I’m hamstrung to discuss the thing that I might love most in this world: basketball (Apologies to my dog and even more to my wife).

I mean, where do I go when Klay Thompson erupts for 37 points in a single quarter, breaking both NBA records and my brain in the process.

What do I do when Steph Curry does this…

or this…

and especially this!

Can Media Brew Pub be an outlet for me when Riley Curry breaks the internet with adorableness and sass?

You see what I’m dealing with here?

Best bucket list trip ever!

Best bucket list trip ever!

Again, if I were better at writing and thinking outside of the box, I would have come up with something by now. But today, I’ve got something to write about. It’s been two weeks since the Warriors won the NBA Finals. When I say I’m a fan, I don’t mean I watch their games. I mean that I stay up until 1AM in the morning to watch every minute of every playoff game that they play. I mean that they only lost 15 times this season and I saw 10 of those games because that’s how much I commit to seeing their games. I mean that even though I live in upstate New York and have events to coordinate for work, I purchase a plane ticket, a ticket to Game 5, and make the cross country trip to watch Steph Curry explode for 17 points in the fourth quarter of a swing NBA Finals game. And then I hop on a flight 8 hours later to get back for work. I mean that I’ve watched them since I was playing on my nerf hoop and remember 12 straight years missing the postseason until they shocked the world and upset the #1 seed Dallas Mavericks as a scrappy #8. I’m not their #1 fan, but it’s certainly not healthy.

The night that they clinched their first NBA title in forty years, I was traveling for work in New York City. I told my boss, “I’m not missing this game.” In hindsight that probably wasn’t the way I should have handled the situation. Fortunately, my boss is very patient and very awesome. We found a bar (Keen’s in Midtown), set up shop, and I started going to town on Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. I’m a bourbon drinker, so I asked the bartender for his bourbon list; if the Dubs won, I was going to throw something special back. My choice after a quick review: Michter’s Ten-Year Old Bourbon.

2015-06-16 23.15.35Now I had been looking for this puppy for a while. Not as rare as Pappy, it is on the short list of bourbons that can compete with Van Winkle whiskeys in blind tastings. Many drinkers will say that it’s their personal favorite. It’s not supposed to be terribly hard to find but I have had shit luck seeing it in the liquor stores I visit or any of the bars whose stools occupy for my occasional small batch session.

When it was looking like my boys were going to take home the chip, I placed my order. I received a pretty generous pour of Michter’s and asked for the bottle to document the moment. Once LeBron had been subbed out and the game was all but decided, I took my first smell, a second, a third… and then sipped.

I could tell you that the color of this bourbon was that of a beautiful, dark, caramel jewel. That it’s as if someone crystalized years of charred oak and presented it to you in liquid form. We could discuss the incredible fragrance of brown sugar, banana cream pie, vanilla, oak, and even leather. I’d regale you on the complexities provided from just breathing in a few whiffs of this well-made whiskey. Or that the mouthfeel is rich and slightly thicker than your standard bourbons; it provides a depth to the experience of drinking that you don’t with other less oily contenders.

I could do all that without even discussing its flavor – sweet and creamy to start. The blending of vanilla and molasses with just a hint of browned butter. Then, you taste the spice. Nutmeg, cinnamon… even a bit of pepper. And unlike some harsher bourbons, the heat from the alcohol comes and goes, it does not linger. You are left with a touch of smoke and spice. At 94 proof, I’d tell you it’s hard to come by a bourbon that goes down so easily.

But instead of all that, I’ll say this:

It tasted like victory.

Go Dubs.

REVIEW: Inside Out

Bing Bong

Inside Out is Pixar’s greatest achievement. To many, this will come across as a bold statement; after all, it’s only been about a week since the film’s release. However, I’ve had fruitful discussions with friends about the picture and put much careful thought into it, and while it may be early to say it, I’m quite confident in my opinion. The film rivals Toy Story as the best feature film to date from the studio, and it’s also its most ambitious, creative, moving, and smartly written one to boot. But above all, what makes it such a tremendous film is its empathy.

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REVIEW: Jurassic World

Owen and Raptor

I’ve been compromised; I admit that I cannot completely enter into a critic’s state of mind when reviewing the long-anticipated Jurassic World. I watched a ton of movies when growing up, but Jurassic Park was one of the three that anchored my childhood (with Star Wars and Free Willy being the other two). Watching dinosaurs come to life was a magical experience like no other, and that had me hooked for the rest of my life. I bought the toys, I played make-believe Jurassic Park and video games with my friends, I wanted to be a paleontologist, I don’t fully hate the sequels, and I caught the film’s re-release back in 2013.

Emotional attachment is a funny thing, as it clouds judgment and evokes fond, personal experiences and memories, and it’s difficult to resist. It’s like telling your child that you loved his or her performance in the school play, even though it actually wasn’t great. That’s exactly how I feel about Jurassic World. It’s tailor-made for the fans who were shaped by the franchise, and I suspect that they will react to so strongly such that the act of being transported to this familiar world outweighs the film’s flaws.

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REVIEW: The Ocean of Helena Lee

Girls

Last year, Martin Scorsese penned a public letter to his daughter, expressing how films nowadays can be made for little money and how important it is to maintain the spark that leads one to making a film. He’s right; what’s unique about this time is that anyone can be a filmmaker. All anyone needs is a camera and an editing system, and he/she can make a film just the way that he/she originally envisioned, without any interference whatsoever. With that, the filmmaker’s voice is preserved, which is something that any director or writer working in Hollywood would kill for.

I couldn’t help but think back to this letter after watching Jim Akin’s second feature-length film, The Ocean of Helena Lee, because it encapsulates just what Scorsese wrote about. Here is a film that was produced with just a thousand dollars and – from its first to final frame – expresses and maintains its filmmaker’s vision and voice. While it does have its fair share of flaws, you can’t help but admire its spirit and tenacity to show and tell a personal human experience.

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I Need a Beer: The Frozen Dog

Frozen_dog_Wallpaper_vmhp2When I moved to Upstate NY and saw that I had a large pond in front of the home I would be living in, I thought it was awesome. Then I remembered I had a not-quite-two-years-old boxer who does whatever the fuck she wants. That’s when the nightmares started. It’s a cold, snowy day and Evie is running around outside and then crack-yelp-splash, she’s falling through the ice and I can’t get to her. I’d wake up freaked out and panicked only to realize that it was just a dream and Evie was in California.

Well, Evie is not in California any more. She’s here. And the first day I took her outside, she ran on top of the pond. Yup, it’s her world and she don’t care if I want her to be safe, she’s running where she wants. Fortunately it was cold as hell and the ice held. However, two days later, it was a balmy 60-degree day and we’re out for a walk. And that is how our story begins… Continue reading

Age of Ultron: The Comic Book Experience on Screen

avengers-age-of-ultron-collageI feel like most people had high expectations going into this movie. I did not. I am not weighed down by silly ideas like “a movie should be good” or “will I believe that these characters are the Avengers” or even, “What are they avenging?” Unlike Jun; who walks in with a notepad in one hand, and a Filmmaking for Dummies in the other; I just need some action, a few one-liners, something that doesn’t look cheap, and you’ve got me hooked. Just kidding Jun… Just kidding…  Continue reading

REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Group Shot

Avengers: Age of Ultron has a lot of expectations to juggle. It’s the follow-up to the all-time biggest superhero film, so moviegoers naturally anticipate a bigger, grander picture with new characters. It’s tasked with pushing the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) narrative closer to the inevitable showdown that we’ll see in the two-part Avengers: Infinity War. Director and writer Joss Whedon said he’s looked to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II, arguably two of the best sequel films, as inspirations. I’ve never seen so much coverage regarding a film’s opening weekend box office prospects since Avatar. Under such pressure, it’s naive to believe that the film won’t buckle, and buckle it occasionally does. Nevertheless, this globetrotting flick never fails to entertain with its relentless action and energy, even though its reach exceeds its grasp.

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