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December 5, 2012

Bar Belle: Sip on my Titicaca Cumquat

I’d like to admit a few things about myself. I like to sleep in but never make it past 10 a.m. I cook a mean huevos rancheros. I like my coffee with a splash of cream and hate it when establishments (ahem, Duncan Donuts) don’t let me add it myself. And I’m easy … wait for it … to shop for. Santa never has any trouble keeping my tree stocked because A) I’m always good, and B) I’m good with booze, beer and bourbon. Boom. While I will provide him with a detailed list in my next column, this week I want to mention a couple items that will make a good present for that person on your list who likes to drink as much as I do.

First up is Bluegrass Barrels (bluegrassbarrels.com), which puts the power of bourbon making in your hands. These little fortresses of fun are actually just a miniature version of a real bourbon barrel — American white oak wood charred at a medium level. They come in three sizes (1, 2 or 3 liters) and range in price from $49.99 to $74.99. And you can get it engraved with your initials, a name or a logo.

The barrels can be used two ways: to age a spirit or to infuse a spirit. Nobody says you have to pour bourbon in the thing — in fact, I’ve heard of someone who is experimenting with tequila. When I got my 1-liter barrel, I decided I would leave bourbon making to the professionals and experiment with flavor infusion. Plus, I didn’t feel like waiting four years for my product to be ready. I took a bottle of one of my favorites — Four Roses Small Batch — dumped it down the bunghole (holla!) and added vanilla beans and dried sweetened orange peels that I picked up at My Old Kentucky Homebrew.

Then I sat and waited for a week. I stared at the thing every day and monitored it for possible leakage (the area around the spigot tended to leak occasionally). Each day that passed, my office smelled more and more like a barrelhouse, which I didn’t mind (and no one thought twice about the aroma of bourbon wafting from my room). When it was time to taste, my coworkers watched in awe as a new creation was birthed into a rocks glass. Still nameless, I swished it around, sniffed its essence and finally sipped it down. It was delicious and dangerous all at once. It tasted great and was less filling. It was both yin and yang, black and white, Edward and Jacob. It was as innocent as Lindsay Lohan pre-“Parent Trap” but as dirty as her dad post-rehab.

It needed a name that could teabag the world. And the name just rolled off my tongue: Titicaca Cumquat. I’m going to experiment with more flavors but believe I have created an award-winning spirit. Too bad I drank it all.

If you want to check out the barrels firsthand, there’s a Repeal Day party tonight at St. Charles Exchange. They will have several barrels infused with different flavors.

The other gift suggestion I came across is for bourbon lovers who love to read — or just look at pretty pictures — a book called “The Ambassador of Bourbon.” Kentucky resident and photographer David Toczko stalked the Maker’s Mark Distillery almost daily, taking photos of the National Historic Landmark during each season. The 250-plus photos show everything from the cute black and red houses and the tub of fermenting yeast, to the white dog as it enters a barrel and the ladies who hand-dip the finished bottles into red wax. If you’ve taken the Maker’s tour, you’ll no doubt recognize the sights.

Toczko will be signing copies of the book ($39.95) on Dec. 8 at the Maker’s Mark Distillery, Dec. 9 at A Taste of Kentucky (in Mall St. Matthews), and Dec. 15 at Barnes and Noble (at the Summit).

Drunk Texts of the Week
• If you’re not at risk for losing your flask, you’re not using it properly
• I got distracted by the sofa dumping rapist next door
• Right tit ruffie, left tit real

Send your drunk texts to shavens@leoweekly.com. My blog is at barbelle.leoweekly.com. Word.