Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Impress Your Friends: Portable Ice Maker Review

Like Christmas in October, the NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker arrived on our front porch, snuggied cozily in a big, fat box. I’d like to call it by its full name throughout this entire review, if that’s okay with you. The NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker. I like saying that. It makes me feel powerful.

If you need an at-home countertop ice machine, then the NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker – fine, I’ll shorten it – the NewAir is a great choice.

And you DO need an at-home countertop ice machine. Here’s why:

How many times have you come home, expecting to be greeted by your wife (yep, I have a wife) with a martini and “How was your day, dear?” only to have her greet you instead with, “Goddammit, the ice cube trays are empty again and someone didn’t refill them!” (That would be you.)

In six to fifteen minutes this cute little ice machine can pop out enough fresh ice cubes for your drink; it produced our first batch in seven minutes flat. Ah, the glorious sound of ice cubes falling into the basket: clunkity-clunkity-clunk, a precursor to drunkity-drunkity-drunk.

If you plug it in the night before a party (or the morning of the party if you are going to be home to add water and transfer ice cubes into your freezer when the basket is full), the NewAir will easily harvest enough ice for a cocktail party of ten or so of your friends, unless they are total drunks, in which case you probably don’t want them at your house in the first place. Drunk people break things and throw up on things. It takes about four hours to fill the ice basket, and the manual says it can make up to 28 pounds of ice a day.

Pros: The NewAir sits on your counter, taking up about as much space as a bread machine. Incredibly quiet. Indicator lights let you know when to add water, and when the ice basket is full. You can choose the size of your ice cubes.

Cons: Our house is about the size of an elfin tree house, with limited counter space. Also, Leah opened the box when it arrived and said the protective blue plastic required an extreme amount of patience (which she doesn't have) to remove. However, everything else about the NewAir is awesome.

Warning: Don’t let your wife try to make lemonade-flavored and wine-flavored ice cubes in your ice maker. Bad, Leah! No!

If all you drink is ice water and sugary soft drinks, you are lame and you don’t deserve an ice machine. If you want to impress your friends with generous cocktails, or if you like to have ice cubes available consistently (like if you run a Bed and Breakfast), then you should consider the NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker. There. I said it again. Owning one will make you feel powerful.

The NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker is available at Air & Water for $199.95 with free shipping.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bibliochef Interview

Bibliochef, our pal at the blog Cooking with Ideas, posted an interview with me this week. Click here to learn how the heck Leah and I ended up opening a lounge; what Leah is thinking when she concocts those crazy cocktails; the connection between mixology, writing and cartooning; and where we choose to eat when we aren't working our fannies off at the Lounge.

The interview.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Battle of the Tonics

As bartenders, we often get the question, "Does the brand of tonic water matter?" That depends. Are you a fussy bitch?

I would never go into a person’s house or a bar and snub my nose at generic tonic water. I grew up with Schweppes and Canada Dry, and they taste just fine to me. I’m not implying that I was drinking gin and tonics as a child; I’m saying that when I was 21 years old, I wasn’t spending $6.69 plus a 30-cent bottle deposit on a four-pack of 12 ounce Q Tonic when a liter of Polar tonic water costs only $.89.

You get what you pay for. When you buy fancier tonics, you can revel in the fact that you are drinking hand-picked quinine, whatever that means, and no high fructose corn syrup.

That said, Leah and I did a tonic taste-test for all of you fussy bitches out there, making gin-and-tonics with the best gin we had in the house: Hendrick’s. Here’s our report:

Schweppes: So sweet and smooth, you could almost drink it without gin. Almost.

Polar: Sweet, but metallic and thinner compared to Schweppes.

Q: A hint of lemon, kind of like 7UP, with a bitter finish. Sweetened with agave syrup.

Stirrings: Lighter and cleaner. A hint of lemon rind, and also a bitter finish. Contains cane sugar.

Fever-Tree: Less lemon, not too sweet, allowing the gin’s unique personality to shine through. Cane sugar.

Our conclusion? If you are going to drink cheap booze, stick with cheap tonic. For high shelf booze, try Q or Stirrings to bring out the best in your liquor, or our favorite because it was less lemon-y, Fever-Tree. Try your own taste-test and see what you think. For the record, we found Fever-Tree at Wegmans, the Vatican of grocery stores.

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