About Keith Winter

Avid Football Fan. Gift Guru. Techie. Woodworker. Amateur Skydiver. Beer Brewer. Skier. Cocktail Mixologist.

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The Wino’s Guide to Food and Wine Pairing

Food is good. Wine is better. Food and wine are best.

But which food and wine go best together?

In this post we’ll cover the different types of wines and which foods pair best with each.

Popular Varietals

White Wine Paired with FoodWhite Wine Pairings

Chardonnay: A full-bodied white wine, Chardonnay grows best in the Burgundy region of France (its original home), California and Australia.  The taste differs on location: French Chardonnays tend to be citrusy, while California Chardonnays carry strong vanilla notes due to aging in oak barrels.

Pairs with: poultry, fish (notably shellfish and halibut), mild, creamy cheese and any dishes with rich, butter or cream based sauces.

Sauvignon Blanc: Lighter than Chardonnay, this white wine hails from the Bordeaux region of France. Like Chardonnay, however, this varietal’s flavor varies widely based on location. French versions have strong herbal notes (eucalyptus is common) while New Zealand varieties have tropical flavors (e.g. melon and/or mango).

Pairs with: lower fat meats (oysters, clams, flaky white fish, chicken breasts, veal); herbal Sauvignon Blancs also pair well with bell peppers, olives, spinach and other leafy greens.

Riesling: Originally from the Rhine region of Germany, Riesling is a highly acidic wine and can be anywhere from bone dry to super sweet. It is seldom aged in oak.

Pairs with: lighter Rieslings go well light raw or lightly cooked fish; more full bodied Rieslings pair nicely with seafood, chicken and Asian food.

Sparkling wine: Most (but not all) sparkling wines are white in color, which is why they’re included here. Sparkling wine is usually a combination of Chardonnay and two red grapes – Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – in a limited quantity.

Pairs with: Foie gras, caviar, oysters, fruit, mild cheese and eggs.

Red Wine Paired with MeatRed Wine Pairings

Gamay: One of the lightest red wines available, Gamay is very low in tannins and possesses high acidity. It’s a popular wine in France and – while you can usually find a few in your local grocery store – it’s not hugely popular in North America.

Pairs with: salads, picnics and chicken.

Pinot Noir: Truly one of the world’s great varietals, Pinot Noir is tough to grow, even tougher to blend… and when done right it’s among the world’s best. Pinot has low tannins compared to Cabernet Sauvignon and tastes like cherries and/or plums. French versions tend to be more rustic, with notes of leather and soil.

Pairs with: lamb, chicken, seafood and lighter cream sauces

Merlot: Merlot’s soft texture make it an ideal wine for aspiring winos. Common flavors include black currant, cherries and plums.

Goes great with: lamb (this is classic), duck, game, pork and strong cheese.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon is often drunk alone (much like a George Thorogood song), but it’s also the most important grape in Bordeaux blends.

Its high level of tannins make it ideal for aging – many Cabernets can age up to ten years or more. As it gets older, the wine loses its fruit flavors and is replaced with a subtle earthiness. Its color also changes from reddish purple to a slightly rusty hue.

Goes great with: beef, pork, strong cheese

Syrah/Shiraz: Syrah in the northern hemisphere, “Shiraz” in the southern… no matter what you call this varietal, it’s well known for big currant flavors and spiciness (which can often times gets confused with Zinfandels).

Pair with: beef, pork, poultry, wild game and hearty stews

Zinfandel: Originally a Croatian grape, Zinfandel has since become especially popular in Californian wines. It’s a big wine, usually high in alcohol and has hints of berries and/or spiciness.

Pair with: Beef, thick stews, pizza

General Wine Pairing Tips

Match food and wine based on texture. The old “red with meat, white with fish” generally works well… but matching a full bodied Chardonnay with a ribeye steak topped with béarnaise sauce is to die for.

Match acid with acid. High acidic foods (e.g. citrus, tomatoes) need high acid wines. Chardonnay is great for this.

Pair sweet foods with fruity wines. A dry wine (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon) comes across as extremely acidic when paired with sweet foods.

Go in order from lightest to boldest. Another simple rule to follow is old before. Your taste buds will appreciate the bigger, bolder flavors.

Pair tannic wines with proteins. Steak, pork and strong cheesesgo splendidly with Cabernet Sauvignon. Why? The tannins cut through the fat and make it more savory.

Pair rich foods with rich (or acidic) wines. A full-bodied wine can stand up to a rich meal, whereas lighter wines go limp. Alternatively, acidic wines can cut through the richness and add a nice contrast of flavors.

Try both extremes. Match food and wine that share similar traits. For example, tart Sauvignon Blancs pair nicely with tart citrus desserts. Or go the opposite route and pair contrasting flavors (e.g. spicy Syrahs with rich, sweet desserts) to highlight both flavors.

If you’re still unsure, use this chart for easy suggestions. For the best wine and food pairing experience, make sure to check out our kitchenware and wine accessories collection to add some flair to your wine tasting and dinner preparation and presentation.

Got any food and wine pairing questions? Let us know in the comments below!

 

29 Things Every Man Should Know

So how do you stack up?

In this list we’ve compiled 29 things every man should know how to do (but in many cases, doesn’t).

Ready to get started? Then let’s roll…

How to Throw a Punch#29. How to throw a punch. God forbid you ever have to use it… but it’s good to know how. Here are a few tips: swing with your shoulders (not your arms), never fully extend your elbow and – if possible – use the palm of your hand to prevent breaking your fingers (because you can hit that hard, right?).

#28. Know everything there is to know about…at least one band. One friend of mine knows EVERYTHING about the Red Hot Chili Peppers while another can argue convincingly why Metallica fell apart after “Load.” It doesn’t matter which band – just pick one and become the “go to” resource for your buddies.

#27. Spot a liar. Look for the following signs:

  • liars gladly change the subject (while innocent people will argue their innocence)
  • liars look up and to their right (this is where the “creative” aspects of your brain are – memory is to the left)
  • liars put things in between them and the accuser
  • liars rarely touch their chest
  • liars often repeat the question before answering
  • liars give fake smiles (if there aren’t crinkles around the eyes, it’s fake)

make a teepee campfire#26. Start a fire. Starting a fire requires three kinds of wood:

  • Tinder: small, dry twigs the size of your hand. Bark works well.
  • Kindling: long, thicker branches which can be easily broken in two
  • Fuel: large pieces of wood that cannot be broken by hand. These will keep your fire going for awhile.

Once you’ve rounded up the wood, create a pile of tinder and light it. Turn it occasionally to let air pass throughout (air is key to fire – without it you’re done for). Then add the kindling a few pieces at a time until the fire builds. Lastly, pile on the fuel wood and sure air passes throughout  (i.e. don’t stack the wood directly on top of the fire – either make a “teepee” or log cabin with it). Got a desire to make a fire in a hurry? Even more fire making ideas here from Art of Manliness.

#25. Speak a foreign language. Depending on where you live (and heritage) Spanish, French or Mandarin are the most useful for world travel.

#24. How to wax a car. Wax on, wax off grasshopper.

How to order a drink#23. Know your drink, and order without hesitation. Some classic examples: Old-Fashioned. Moscow Mule. Dirty Martini, filthy dirty, shaken with 3 blue-cheese stuffed olives. Jameson. Rocks. ‘Nuff said.

#22. Jumpstart a car. Every man should know how to do this, it’s simple and makes you look awesome.

  • Step 1: Pop the hoods of both cars. Make sure they’re both turned off.
  • Step 2: Attach the red cable to the positive end of the stalled battery.
  • Step 3: Attach the red cable to the positive end of the good battery.
  • Step 4: Attach the black cable to the negative end of the good battery.
  • Step 5: Attach the black cable to a clean, unpainted piece of metal on the stalled car (do NOT attach it to the battery as this can create sparks).
  • Step 6: Start the good car. Let it run for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Step 7: Start the bad car. Let it run for 20 – 30 minutes to ensure it’s working properly.

And that’s it!

#21. Tie a tie. No, not a bow tie (unless you’re Jim Rogers, they make you look foolish). Follow these instructions to tie the most popular versions.

Top 20 Things Every Man Should Know

How to bench press your own weight

Image credit schwarzenegger.com

#20. Bench press your weight. Simple, yet not many men can do it. If you’re huge like Arnold, that’s gotta be a LOT of weight bub.

#19. Sew. Sure, it may not seem manly, but it comes in handy. Whether you’re replacing suit buttons or patching together parachutes, we think sewing is pretty darn cool.

#18. Confidently swing a golf club.

#17. Use a chainsaw.

#16. Make one drink, in large batches, really well. If you’re throwing a serious party, you can’t stick yourself behind the bar all night (as fun as it may sound). Pick your favorite drink and learn to make it in Breaking Bad-esque quantities.

How article on grilling the perfect steak

5 tips to cook the perfect steak article

#15. Cook the perfect steak/burger. Follow these instructions for steak and these for grilling perfect burgers. Still not sure which grill is right for you? Read this buyers guide.

#14. Find your way out of the woods. First, note landmarks (mountains, power lines, etc.). Second, watch the sun – it sits in the south and moves west throughout the day. Alternatively, if you’re wearing a watch, point the hour hand towards the sun. The direction directly between the hour hand and the “12” on your watch is south.

Worst case: find water and head downstream. It will lead you to a large body of water and/or people.

Whiskey Glasses#13. Understand how to pair wine with food. This isn’t rocket science, but just the same this wine pairing guide from Food and Wine is hard to beat.

#12. Know, love and spread the gospel of brown liquor. From single malt Scotch to American whiskey brown liquor is the drink of choice for men.

#11. Swing a hammer like you mean it. Keep your grip loose and swing confidently. That’s about it.

 

Finally… The Top 10 Things Every Man Should Know

#10. Drive a stick shift/parallel park. Because you WILL have to at some point.

#9. Throw a spiral. Make sure the middle finger and the thumb are placed right below the white ring on the football. Keep your ring and little finger on the stitches. Point your foot towards your target and – while throwing – rotate your thumb towards your opposite thigh as you follow through. Your index finger should be the last thing touching the ball. Need more? Kurt Warner video here.

Cigar Ashtray#8. Properly light a cigar. Before you light your cigar, run the flame under the foot (the end you light) and rotate the cigar a few times. Don’t actually touch the flame to the cigar; at this point, you just want to warm up the tobacco first to ensure it will burn smoothly. Read more on selecting cigars here.

Then, hold the flame in front of the cigar (but again, not actually touching it) and gently rotate the cigar while inhaling a few times.

#7. Shoot free throws (and make them most of the time).

#6. Know your woman’s dress size. If you don’t know why this is important, just wait until you get married!

#5. Fry an omelet. Turn stove on high. Add butter (or olive oil, though butter is better) to a non stick pan. Crack eggs into a bowl and whip until your wrist hurts (the more air the better). Add the mixture to the pan and use a fork to gently pull outside of the cooked egg inwards. After a minute or two fold and serve.

How to pour a beer#4. Properly pour a beer. Tilt the glass towards you at a 45 degree angle and start pouring. Halfway through tilt the glass at a 90 degree angle (like you’d normally hold it) and pour straight down the center of the glass. A well poured beer has head – it releases the beer’s aroma.

#3. Explain the infield fly rule. This often misunderstood rule in baseball prevents infielders from intentionally dropping pop-ups in order to turn double plays (or triple plays).  If it’s obvious a player can catch a popup but doesn’t, the infield fly rule automatically calls the batter out.

Which leads us to our next point which is…

#2. Reliably hit a baseball. The faster, the better. If you haven’t been to the batting cages in a while, there’s no time like the present. After all, there’s nothing worse than striking out in front of kids during “infield practice.”

John Wayne

Image credit realmendrinkwhiskey.com

#1. Be able to quote at least one John Wayne movie. Here’s three to choose from:

“I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”  – The Shootist (1976)

“All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be some place else.” – In Harm’s Way (1965)

“Well, son, since you haven’t learned to respect your elders, it’s time you learned to respect your betters.” – Big Jake (1971)

So there you have it: 29 things every man should know how to do. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!

Free DIY Home Bar Plans – 8 Easy Steps

To commemorate our 10 year anniversary, we are making our Official HomeWetBar.com wet bar plans free! Yes, you heard that right! The famous home bar plans  that started it all are now free. It’s our way of saying thanks for the last 10 years of providing you with the most unique and fun items on the internet. Whether you chose to build a basement bar, an indoor bar, or modify these plans into a tiki bar, we hope you have as much fun building your own bar as we had making the original. Cheers!

Home Bar Plans Layout Diagram

Getting Started…Bar Building Supplies Checklist

Start by examining the diagram and bar designs provided. You should have six diagrams: Base Measurements and Post Positions, Top Overview, Upper Front Cross Section, Upper Rear Cross Section, Bar Cross Section, and Horizontal Supports. The Base Measurements and Post Positions diagram will help you when building the bar base and placing the posts. The Top Overview is an eagle’s eye view of the top of the bar. The Upper Front Cross Section, Upper Rear Cross Section, and Bar Cross Section diagrams should convey to you how the bar is built from the base on up to the top. Finally, the Horizontal Supports diagram should give you an idea of how the upper level of 2x4s (discussed later) is constructed.

Essential Tools and Equipment You Will Need

Circular Saw or Table Saw

Powered Drill

Drill Bits

Screw Bits (for a drill)

Protective Eyewear

Calking Gun

Sand Paper (60, 150, & 240 Grit)

Plastic Tarps

Latex Gloves (for staining)

Torch (for Ultra-Glo)

Hammer

Saw Horses

Clamps

Tape Measure

Masking Tape (1 ½ Inch or 2 Inch)

Cotton Cloth Rags

DIY Home Bar Plans

The bar you will be building! – The Original Home Wet Bar

Some things you should realize before starting to build your own bar:

  1. I am not an architect, so although I may have different ways of doing things, they work, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case the bar). Secondly, if you think you should change something in these free bar plans to make the bar even better, feel free to, but realize you will have to adjust the bar designs and diagrams yourself to account for your changes. HOWEVER, I encourage utilize your own home bar ideas to make it more of your own unique creation, not just a carbon copy of my bar; after all this is YOUR OWN BAR!

  2. I am assuming you know how to read and follow directions, and not just these directions; you should always read and follow all directions on the products you use to create own your bar. If you are unsure how to do something such as cutting or staining be sure to ASK someone at the local hardware store where you purchased the item, they are normally very helpful and knowledgeable, it is better to spend the time doing something right the first time instead of having to redo it!

  3. Many times the size of wood and what it is referred to as are different, for example a 2×4 is really 1½”x3½”. Whenever possible I have tried to note this for you but try to remember this, it can be very important.

  4. This homemade bar cost me $1500-$2000 to make, but you can make it much cheaper if you opt to not do certain things such as using pine on the redwood parts, leave off the fish tank, or not using Ultra-Glo on the top.

  5. I am assuming you have basic knowledge of woodworking (For example, I assume you know how to use power tools and know to drill holes before screwing screws in!).

  6. This is meant to be a home wet bar, not a commercial bar. It is sturdy as hell but is not made to take the 24/7 abuse like a commercial bar does.

  7. We are building a BAR, so I tried to make it as waterproof as possible. This means that when I refer to using screws be sure to use outdoor / exterior screws that will not rust, we will always use waterproof glue, and we will try to build this bar as sturdy and waterproof as possible so don’t get cheap on me, it will only lead to problems later!

  8. This can be used as an outdoor bar, or basement bar, but it will last longer when kept under cover or indoors.

Step 1: How to Build a Bar Base

Bar layout - Base measurements and post positions

Home bar plans base layout

Picture 1a

Building a great basement bar starts with a sturdy base. It is arguably the most important thing when building a bar, the stability of the entire bar depends on it. As you can see from picture 1a I chose to make my bar in two pieces so it could be transported if I ever choose to move. Each section is actually a little bit smaller than the main door opening in standard home so it can be moved through the door easily. NOTE: These same dimensions should work for you as well, but it would be wise to measure your door and compare it to the dimensions on the diagrams to be certain that each of the bar sides will fit through the outside door in your home. (A 30” wide doorway is required for the dimensions of this homemade bar.)

Bar base 2

Picture 1b

Our bar designs call for using 2×4 treated pine to help protect it from spills and then is covered with ¾” plywood (picture 1b). You should use waterproof glue to attach the 2x4s to the plywood and then use 1 5/8” exterior wood screws to hold the 2x4s and plywood together and add strength.

Step 2: Building a Bar Internal Frame

diagram of the bar cross section diagram of the bar cross section - rear view

The interior skeleton of our diy bar is made of pine 2×4 pieces. Our home bar plans call for seventeen 2×4 posts of equal height. They should all be cut to exactly the same height, 34 ½” tall, or the bar top will not be level. They should then be attached at the designated areas (See Base Measurements and Post Positions diagram) using one 90 metal angle brace for each post to help anchor it down. In order to attach the brace to the post, mark where the post will go on the base and where the screws for braces will go on the base and posts. Drill the holes for the brace, and then attach one end of the 90 metal angle brace to the post. Next, add glue to the bottom of the post and screw the other end of the brace into the base using 1 5/8” screws. Finally, drill holes through the base into the posts from the bottom, and screw in (2) 3 ½” exterior screws. Repeat for all posts.

bar diagram 2a

Diagram 2a

Next, cut four 16” long 2x4s braces to go in-between the front and rear posts to add strength. Use glue and the flat metal braces to attach the 2×4 braces to the posts. (See Base Measurements and Post Positions diagram – The 2×4 post-braces are denoted by the light dotted lines). Now drill holes for the two large bolts that will hold the bar together in the two top 2×4 braces that meet from each section. (Diagram 2a)     After that, add the first level of 2x4s that lay flat on top of the posts to build an upper frame (pictures 2a & 2b), attach them by putting glue on top of the post and then drill holes down into the post and use (2) 3 ½” exterior screws to attach each post to the upper frame.

front view of our bar designs post positions

Picture 2a

side view of our home bar designs post postions

Picture 2b

Finally, add the 2×4 horizontal supports to the upper frame (shown in Horizontal Supports diagram). Seven of these upper supports will be 28” and you will calculate the other three to fit your exact bar dimensions. Assuming that everything is the same length and width as the dictated in the diagrams you should just have to measure the distance from where the calculated 2×4 will touch one of the 28” long 2x4s and then add 5”. This should give you 5” inches of overhang all around the front of the bar. Attach the upper 2×4 horizontal supports using glue and (4) 90 metal braces on each horizontal support. (Pictures 2c & 2d) bar plans - horizontal supports

front angle of applying top to our home bar

Picture 2c

applying plywood to the top of our homemade bar

Picture 2d

 

Step 3: Adding the Interior Bar Skin

Our bar plans call for two layers of plywood to give it strength. The idea for the bar skin is that the interior ¾” plywood will give it plenty of strength, and the more expensive ¼”redwood exterior will give it beauty. The diy bar top is simply cut to the length of the upper horizontal 2x4s. The easiest way to measure the top is to just set the each side of the bar base on a large piece of plywood, outline it, and then add 5” to all of the front side measurements and then cut out the new dimensions. But if you are off even a little bit the top will not fit properly so I suggest you measure to the end of all of your 2x4s and compare those measurements to those on outline to make sure they are the same. You could even go as far as laying the plywood on top of the bar and using a ruler to trace lines underneath to outline where you need to cut if the other methods don’t work for you. To attach the plywood top you need to drill holes down trough the plywood into the 2x4s. Then, glue the plywood to the 2x4s and fasten the plywood to the 2x4s with 1 5/8” screws. Use clamps to hold the top down while drying. (Pictures 2c and 2d)

For the ¾” plywood bar sides you just need to measure out each of the pieces and make sure to leave a cutout for the fish tank centered in the 23” spot designated for the tank. The actual cutout for the tank is 11”x 19½” and is 16” from the ground on my homemade bar because I used a 10 gallon tank. To attach the sides drill holes trough the plywood into the 2x4s and then add glue and attach the plywood to the 2x4s with 1 5/8” screws. (Pictures 3a and 3b)

Finally, on the two ends of the bar I used ½” plywood, and stained it and waterproofed it in the same way as the ¼”redwood skin discussed below. (The ½” plywood ends are shown on the Top Overview diagram)

side view of the bar interior

Picture 3b

front view of the bar interior

Picture 3b

 

Step 4: Adding the Exterior Bar Skin and Trim

NOTE: I chose to do this before adding the top to the bar because I thought the overhang of the top might get in the way, you can do step 4 or 5 in either order.

I cut out ¼” redwood panels to fit over the interior skin to give our homemade bar the look of redwood. Next, I sanded and stained them using Oil based wood stain (I chose the color Ipswich pine, but you can you whatever you like). (Picture 4a) I then attached the panels to the interior ¾” plywood using generous amounts of glue, finishing nails, and clamps to hold the boards in place while they dried. (Pictures 4b and 4c)

stained front panels

Picture 4a

applying stained front panels to the homemade bar

Picture 4b

all panels installed on the front of the home bar

Picture 4c

trim added to the front of the wet bar

Picture 4d

I then cut the trim to fit the home bar and overlapped the fish tank area by about ½” on all sides so you couldn’t see the edges of the glass. I then stained the bottom trim and attached it using glue and finishing nails. (Picture 4d) Finally, I applied four coats of Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane Clear Gloss over the entire exterior of the our diy home bar (including the plywood ends) to give it a waterproof coating that would last.

Step 5: How to Build a Bar Top 

In this step our home bar plans call for adding a ¾” x 5½” redwood trim (referred to as a 1×6) all around the sides of the bar top and the ½” x 3½” redwood trim on top of the bar (referred to as a ½ x 4) for the border on the front. (Refer to Front, Rear, and Top diagrams and pictures 5a and 5b) I then used a router to round off the top and bottom edges of the entire top border to give it a more professional look. (Picture 5c)

This is also when I made the doors for the liquor cabinet and routed them. I used two doors and each door is made out of ¾” solid pine (referred to as 1”); they are 11” wide and 36” tall each. After cutting the boards out I then routed the outer door edges to give a more finished look.

Next, I used wood filler to fill all of the small cracks and gaps, and I then painted the top plywood that was showing black to show off the bottle caps. NOTE: Be sure to mask off the redwood before painting the top to avoid getting black paint on it. I then sanded and stained all of the redwood and the cabinet doors for the wet bar. Finally, I applied three coats of the waterproof sealer to the doors on both sides.

side of the bar top

Picture 5a

the front of the home bar showing how to build a bar in two pieces

Picture 5b

DIY home bar taking shape!

Our DIY home bar doesn’t look so homemade now does it?

 

Step 6: Finishing the Bar Interior

Our plans for how to build a bar would be complete without a liquor cabinet now would they! For the inside of the bar where the fish tank sits I cut ½” plywood (2 pieces – 23”x 34 ½”) and attached it to the 2x4s on both sides of the tank area to make walls in the bar. (Picture 6b) I then made shelves using 1×2 pine screwed into the 2x4s to form the base and then ½ plywood to make the shelf itself. (Pictures 6a & 6b) I then used 1×2 pine to make rails so the liquor would not fall out of our home bar from the back of the shelf and ½ x 2 pine to make the front rail that keeps the liquor from falling out when you open the doors. You can see this in Picture 6a; it is of the left side of the bar (liquor cabinet side). Take care when making your shelf for the right side, make sure you line it up so the fish tank will be visible only, and no other space will be showing. Now you need to sand and stain the inside of the bar, and then apply 3 coats of the waterproof sealant to the wood. Finally, put in the window from the backside of the bar, it is just 1/4” thick glass custom cut for the hole in my bar (11”x 19½”) by a local glass shop. It is attached by see-thru calking applied to the back of the glass and plywood to form a tight, waterproof bond all the way around the glass.

Bar liquor cabinet

Picture 6a

backside of our homemade bar where the fridge and fish tank will go

Picture 6b

 

Step 7: Finishing the Bar Top

The first step in finishing the bar top is to apply 2 coats of Ultra-Seal to the plywood and the redwood on the top and the top trim, one coat in each direction. This seals off some of the pours in the wood so it won’t bubble as much later when we apply the Ultra-Glo. The second step is to apply a third layer of Ultra-Seal to the plywood and stick your bottle caps to it. The way I recommend to build a bar top you’ll like is to first layout all of your bottle caps where you want them and then pick them up in small sections and glue them all down, and then move to the next section. Next you should check all of the bottle caps to make sure they are secure and re-glue down any of the loose ones. Now we are ready to prepare for the Ultra-Glo.

IMPORTANT DIY HOME BAR BUILDERS: Before pouring the Ultra-Glo be sure to thoroughly read the directions and be sure to have a torch ready as the directions say. I tried to use a blow dryer the first time I poured the top (hence the picture) and it did not get out all of the bubbles! Now you will need to make two pours of this stuff at different times, about half the first time and the rest the second time (assuming you pour both sections at once). The reason for this is that when Ultra-Glo is poured too thick it heats up too much internally and it causes excessive bubbles that will continue to bubble even when the top sets leaving you with bubbles you can not get out. This happened to me the first time I poured my bar when I poured it too thick because no one seemed to know this except the people at Ultra-Glo; it is not even in the directions! Needless to say I spent countless hours re-sanding the top and cutting out bubbles! Take my advice and make two pours.

To setup for the pour I just separated the two bar pieces and taped both the their ends off with masking tape and then I staple gunned cardboard behind the tape into the lower plywood to give it strength so the Ultra-Glo did not overflow. I then made sure the pieces where level because Ultra-Glo is self-leveling so if the piece was not level you would have problems making the bar top even. I then poured the Ultra-Glo with the help of my roommates; one mixes while the other person or two smoothes and gets the bubbles out. This stuff is really messy so I recommend you put a tarps under everything and over the sides of the bar and you should also wear old clothes and disposable gloves. While it is drying to get the bubbles out you can quickly wave the torch over them to make them pop. On the second pour you will want to pour up to the top of the redwood and use a stirring stick to push the Ultra-Glo evenly over all of the redwood top and spread it over 1×6 redwood border, this is when the 2nd or 3rd person really comes in handy. (Picture 7a) All total the bar took about 5 gallons of Ultra-Glo but plan to have extra on hand just in case. You should be able to find Ultra-Glo and Ultra-Seal at your local hardware store or you can save some money by ordering Ultra-Glo online from Tap Plastics.

Buddies helping finish the bar top

Buddies helping finish the bar top

 

  • If you followed our home bar plans, you will have built your DIY bar in two pieces. Sand the sides of the top where they meet if necessary in order to make them fit together smoothly. Do not sand the top surface or you will have to re-pour
  • Bolt the bar together
  • Attach the doors to the liquor cabinet using hinges by attaching one side to the left bar section and one door to the right bar section (Picture 8a).
  • Place the Mini-Refrigerator and the fish tank in the bar.
  • Add any other personal touches that you please! Some additional extras I added are a rope light that goes around the front of the bar (Picture 8b), a surge protector to plug things into (like a blender), and a bottle opener, but feel free to add whatever extras you want.

HAPPY BUILDING!

Bar Liquor Cabinet

Bar Liquor Cabinet

View from under bar overhang

View from under bar overhang

Finished Bar Designs from Front

Finished Bar Design from Front

Finished Bar Designs on the Top

Finished Bar Designs on the Top

NOTE: These bar building instructions and drawings are the copyrighted by Keith Winter and HomeWetBar.com, they may not be republished without the written consent of Keith Winter. You are free however to use these wet bar plans for creating your own DIY home bar! Cheers!

You’re Screwed! – 9 Unusual Ways to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

It takes the average person less than ten seconds to open a wine bottle with a corkscrew.

But what if you find yourself stranded on a desert island (or worse, someone’s house who doesn’t drink) with a bottle of your favorite Burgundy? Is there hope? Can you open wine without a corkscrew, or needlessly suffer in silence (and sobriety)?

Fear not. Below are 9 unusual – but extremely effective – ways how to open wine without a corkscrew…

Top 9 Ways – How to Open Wine Without A Corkscrew

#1 – The Tree Method

Wrap a towel around the base of the bottle. Then firmly hit the base of the bottle against a tree, wall or any other flat, hard surface. Each hit pushes the wine against the cork, and eventually pushes the cork out.

#2 – Dropkick Burgundies

This method of opening wine without a corkscrew may seem a little wild, but it can work as long as you don’t drop the wine bottle! Place the wine bottle upside down and hold it between your knees. Repeatedly strike the base with your shoe until the cork is roughly halfway out. Then remove the cork by hand. This method works with sparkling wines, too; just be sure to let it sit at least ten minutes before fully removing the cork, or be prepared to get a wine bath in the process!

“MacGyver Method” Using pliers to open without a corkscrew. – Image credit fanpop

#3 – The MacGyver Method

Got a toolbox? Great. Grab a pair of pliers and a screw. The screw should be a least 4 inches long and the greater the distance between screw threads, the better (provides more grip in the cork).

Step 1: Place the screw into the cork until it’s roughly half an inch sticking out. Be careful not to go too deep to where it goes all the way through the cork and taints the wine.

Step: Gently use the pliers to pull out the screw. Alternatively, use the back end of a hammer to pull the screw out. Voila you now have open wine without a corkscrew!

#4 – The Archimedes Effect

The ancient Greek philosopher Archimedes once boasted “Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.”

Our aspirations aren’t quite as ambitious. But the concept of fulcrums still applies. For this method, take a small paring knife or pocket knife (Swiss Army knives work too, but then, they usually have corkscrews. You don’t have a Swiss Army knife around, do you?).

Gently work the knife around the edge of the cork. Don’t push down too hard; you’re trying to slide the blade around the cork, not through it. Once the blade is past the cork, begin working the blade back and forth. This will loosen the cork, allowing you to pull it out by hand.

Mommie Dearest

Mommie Dearest – Coat hanger method how to open wine without a corkscrew – Image credit Daily Musto

#5 – The Mommie Dearest Method

If you’ve seen “Mommie Dearest” you’ll get the reference. If not, watch the movie. It’s worth it.

For this method of how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew you’ll need a wire hanger. Bend the tip of the hanger back about 30 degrees so it looks like a fish hook. Then slide the wire down alongside the cork, and rotate it roughly 90 degrees so the hook sinks into the cork’s bottom. Then pull the wire up.  You can use pliers or by hand (but use a towel or gloves to protect yourself).

#6 – The Knot’s Landing Method

Remember the Dropkick Burgundy method? Well, if your shoes have laces, here’s another way to get a wine bottle open without a  bottle opener: tie a knot at the end of your lace and push it down the side of the cork. Then oh-so-gently pull the lace – and the cork – out. If the lace keeps popping out, tie a larger knot and try again.

Corn holders are a great way to open wine without a corkscrew

Corn holders are a great way to open wine without a corkscrew

#7 – The Cork on the Snob Method

You know those small handles you place into corn on the cob? They make great corkscrews, too. Place the corn cob holder into the cork and gently pull upward while twisting back and forth.

 

 

 

 

#8 – The Hammer Time Method

Hammer five nails into the cork. Pull them out with the hammer. Pretty fool proof way of how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew, huh?

And now for a special bonus method:

#9 – The Napoleon Dynamite

Also known as le sabrage, this method lets you remove Champagne corks (or any other sparkling wine) with a sword. Seriously, how cool is that?

The custom began with Napoleon’s troops and is still considered an effective – not to mention entertaining- method for removing corks.

How to open wine with a knife / sword / sabre:

Step 1: Chill the wine overnight in the refrigerator. If you haven’t, try soaking the bottleneck in ice water beforehand.
Step 2:  Remove the foil and wire cage from atop the cork.
Step 3: Wipe down the bottle to remove all excess moisture.
Step 4:  Find the seams on the bottle. This is where the two bottle halves join together.
Step 5: Tilt the bottle to a 45 degree angle. Safely point it away from others (but you already knew that, didn’t you?).
Step 6: Place the blunt edge of the sword on base of the bottle. Slide the sword along the seam towards the cork in one fluid motion. If done correctly, the sword will “behead” the bottle, taking the bottle top and cork clean off. Plus, it makes you look really, really cool. If not, you will have a lot of wine and glass flying everywhere, so safety goggles would be prudent. Dare we suggest, leaving this one to the experts?


Video credit: How to Sabre Champagne: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ2vU3lvwx0

5 Pro Tips – Grilling The Perfect Steak

What Do You Know About Grilling the Perfect Steak?

First of all, you probably want to know who I am and why you should listen to me.  My name is Keith Winter, and I am the founder of HomeWetBar.com.  Born in the Midwest and growing up in a family of cattle ranchers and auctioneers, well… lets just say I know I little bit about what makes a great steak. We grew up eating steak three days a week, every week. Over the years I’ve honed my crafted and come up with the perfect recipe for grilling the perfect steak every time. I make my own seasoning and rubs, and always buy my steaks from the butchers counter. I know steak, and in the next 5 minutes I’m going to teach you how to grill a perfect steak every time. Grilling the perfect steak – the kind your neighbors wish they could – is all about basics. As you’ll soon see, “less is more” really applies to your summer grill.

Ready to get started? Then roll up your sleeves – things are about to heat up.

Step #1 Choose the Right Meat

This is by far the most important step. Grilling the perfect steak starts with the right Beef. Even the greatest chefs can’t turn dog food into delicacy. When choosing your steak, use the USDA ratings:

  • Select: The lowest quality found in supermarkets. Select is better used for roasts than grilled steaks.
  • Choice: A quality cut with tenderness and marbling. A perfectly acceptable (and popular) grade of meat for grilling.
  • Prime: The highest quality possible. Only 2% of beef meets this USDA grade. Prime steaks have the most marbling, texture and flavor.

If you’re looking to grill the perfect steak, nothing less than Prime grade beef will do.

Of course, there are different cuts of meat, too.

  • Filet: The most tender cut. Due to less marbling, it doesn’t have the flavor as other cuts, but it’s still regarded as a quality cut.
  • Ribeye: The most flavorful cut. However, all that marbling puts the ribeye on the fatty side.
  • NY Strip: Is a compromise between a filet and ribeye. It’s more flavorful than a filet and more tender than a ribeye. A firm meat with good flavor
  • T-Bone / Porterhouse: The bone adds flavor while the tenderness of the filet can be found on the smaller side and the robust flavor of the Strip steak can be found on the other side of the bone.  The main difference between a T-Bone and Porterhouse is the Porterhouse is thicker (at least 1.25″) according to the USDA.

PRO TIP: If you’re unsure Filets are always a crowd pleaser. However my favorite is Ribeye for the flavor.

 And don’t forget aging…

One thing that pros know that the average consumer may not, is that aged beef not only is more tender, it’s also more flavorful.  There are basically two types: Wet Aged and Dry Aged

  • Wet aged: The beef is aged in it’s on juices inside of a bag. You see this a lot at fine dining restaurants because it’s generally cheaper due to the beef not lose as much mass as it does during dry aging. That being said, a prime wet aged steak will knock the socks off a non-aged prime steak any day of the week. Additionally some steaks like flat iron or skirt lack the mass to dry age so they must be wet aged or you’ll end up with something similar to a dried out stick of beef jerky when you go to cook it.
  • Dry aged: The choice of kings! This aging method allows the meat to breathe while it slowly loses water and breaks down the beef increasing it’s “beefiness” since there is now less water and it’s tenderness is increased. A true delight to eat.

PRO TIP: Make sure to get it cut around 1.25″ thick, any thinner than 1″ your steak won’t be juicy, thicker than 1.5″ is really hard to cook, 1.25″ thick is the sweet spot for most cooks.

PRO TIP: You will almost always get the best quality steaks at a butcher’s shop instead of a supermarket. Go aged Prime grade if you can, or choice if prime is not an option for you.

 

Steak seasoningStep #2: Seasoning the Steak

You only need four items to season: salt, pepper, olive oil and butter. That’s it. Don’t over-think this: you want the natural flavor of the meat to stand out.

Rock salt or flavored gourmet sea salt  should be combined with coarse ground pepper and mixed together. Apply to both sides of the meat and allowed to rest for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. This brings the steak  up to room temperature so it cooks evenly and allows it to absorb some of the flavor from the salt.  Trust me, my family raises cattle for a living, I know what I’m talking about here, flavorful salts and pepper is all seasoning you need for great flavor. If you have a good piece of beef you’re starting with and you cook it right you should be golden if you follow this method.

PRO TIP: Season the steak and let it rest for 30 minutes prior to cooking. This helps it absorbs some of the flavor from the salt (also helps with searing) and cook more evenly.

Step #3: Sear the Steak

Grilling the perfect steak becomes much easier once you learn to sear your steak. Professional steakhouses have insanely hot broilers – some burn up to 1,700 degrees Farenheit – in order to sear the outside of the steak.

Cooking steaks at home you probably don’t have that luxury even if you do have an infrared burner on your grill, however you can put a nice sear on it using the right technique, which will lock in the flavors and the juiciness of the steak. Within reason – you really cannot add too much salt to steak – it creates a delicious outside crust and helps the steak retain its natural juices.

You’ve really got two options when searing a steak

Option #1: If you have a good infrared grill, searing steaks on the grill should be no problem.

For reference I have a $300 Kenmore grill with infrared on one side and a regular gas grill on the other (I prefer a regular/infrared combo vs all infrared). I’m telling you this so you realize that you don’t need a hugely expensive grill to cook a great steak. Any grill that gets hot and puts out consistent temperatures will work. I tweaked the gas intake a bit (don’t do this at home) so mine gets up to about 450 degrees on the regular grill side and about 750-800 degrees on the infrared side. It’s actually so hot I forgot one cold day to pull it away from the window and it cracked the window pane, now that’s hot! As long as you can get above 600 or so on your infrared you should be able to give those steaks a good sear. Go get a heat gun and point it at the grill if you’re unsure and want to know the exact temperature in there.

Turn the infrared up all the way up and make sure it’s all warmed up before doing anything. When it’s ready toss the steaks on there for 30 seconds a side, leaving the top open while searing the steaks. Leave them in just long enough that they are brown with some nice grill marks. Then allow them to sit while you sear the rest of your steaks.

Option #2: If you have a charcoal or standard grill. You need to pan sear the steaks ahead of time.

In order to get a good sear you need a good pan. Get your pan really hot. Coat the steaks with olive oil and sear them 45-60 seconds a side and then set each to the side to rest while you cook the other steaks, then move to Step 4. (be sure to let excess oil drip off; too much will cause flare-ups on the grill)

 

Steak on the Grill

Step #4: Grilling the Perfect Steak

Make sure the grill is good and hot, and immediately turn it down when you add the steaks, just a bit. When grilling the perfect steak, I like to run my grill around 360 degrees with the lid closed, I know some other great chefs that cook ata higher temperature but with the grill open. What it really comes down to is how hot your grill gets and personal preference. One other thing I like to do is if I’m cooking a smaller portion I shut off one burner and turn my other two burners to max. Then I put my steaks on the portion without the flame. It’s unconventional, but my steaks are always grilled to perfection and I rarely have flare ups. Even with one burner off I can still maintain about 380-400 with the lid closed and only 2 of the 3 burners on, something to tyif you have multiple burners on the grill.

PRO TIP: If you have a gas grill and multiple burners, try turning down the burners on the portion where the steaks are, and up the burners on the other side. It will lead to less flare-ups.

Great steaks should be cooked, not overcooked. Rare to medium is acceptable; anything beyond that is a sin against steak. Pros check temperature by feel – if the steak feels like the skin between your index finger and thumb, it’s a nice medium rare and ready to come off. No joke, my brother-in-law taught me this, it really works. Of course, meat thermometers are the easiest way to tell (125 – 135 degrees Farenheit is ideal).

And of course…

 

How to Grill Steak Let it RestStep #5: Let the Steak Rest

Do not skip this step! Many backyard BBQs have been ruined by over-eager grillers. When your steak is on the grill, the proteins constrict and squeeze the juice out. By letting your steak rest for five minutes – either on a plate or cutting board – it allows the juices to be reabsorbed by the meat (which makes it taste a whole lot better, too!) Finish with thin slice of butter melted on top for a savory steak that will make your mouth water.

As you can see, grilling the perfect steak is quite easy to do once you know how to do it. All you need to do is follow these tips and make sure you have the right tools for the job. I hope this has been helpful, now go out into the world and grill great steaks! And now… I will shamelessly plug our large selection of grilling accessories available at HomeWetBar.com. Get one of the grill seasoning sets if you get nothing else, the grilling salts are extremely flavorful and the best I’ve found anywhere, that’s why we import them. I use them every single time I cook steak. Of course you don’t have to have them, but they sure make grilling the perfect steak a lot easier! What tips do you have for cooking steak? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Manly Cupcakes: Bacon, maple and whiskey

Manly CupcakesEveryone likes a little something sweet. Chocolate chip cookies are a perennial favorite.You can’t have a birthday without cake. The best part of holiday meals is going overboard with pie. Cupcakes, however, present a conundrum. These tiny treats are tasty, of course, but their small size and whipped peaks of frosting don’t always fit with a masculine sensibility. However, their portable nature and individually wrapped convenience are perfect for guys at work or play. So we scoured the internet, our kitchens, and the entire globe for ideas to make manly cupcakes more suited to the males of our species. We have the key to manly cupcakes: bacon, maple syrup and whiskey cupcakes.

Hamburger CupcakesWe found lots of desserts for men that looked really tasty, but we wanted to find out, once and for all, how to turn a soft, dainty cupcake into a super-masculine treat. Part of the problem is the way they look. Pink icing, white cake, and pastel sprinkles don’t exactly scream “testosterone.” These hamburger inspired cupcakes, however, certainly up the manliness factor with their tribute to this American classic. The only thing that would make these manly cupcakes better would be a side of peanut butter cookie fries, am I right?

We wanted to look further, though, to find easy desserts to make. Something that guys who usually avoid ovens and stand mixers could handle. We reviewed many great cupcake recipes, and if you follow this set of guidelines, you’ll be on your way to creating the manliest cupcake in the West.

1. Use maple syrup.

By Dvortygirl (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Maple syrup is the manliest sweetener around. First of all, it’s brown, the color of leather and cooked meat. It’s also rich in flavor and adds a natural, woodsy flavor that you can’t get from regular old sugar. Go for quality on this ingredient, and you’ll be off to an impressive start.

2. Use bacon.

Bacon
Obviously. Bacon makes everything better, and manly cupcakes are no exception. You’ve got to cook the bacon before adding it to your batter or frosting, but cooking bacon is a virile activity in itself. When the grease gets hot and you hear that sizzle, you’ll feel very manly about using a bacon cupcake recipe.

3. Whiskey + Cupcakes = Awesome

Whiskey Decanter
Whiskey seals the deal. It’s the perfect way to tie up the flavors of the maple and bacon into a hand-sized pocket of deliciousness. We prefer the sweet, oaky flavor of bourbon, but use your own favorite to give your whiskey cupcakes a personal twist, or use Canadian whiskey in a classic pairing with the maple syrup. Don’t forget to leave a little in the bottle, though. Bacon, maple, and whiskey cupcakes are best enjoyed with a little straight whiskey on the side.

4. Keep it simple.

Maple Bacon Bourbon Cupcakes

from tablespoon.com

Cooking is always manly. Food is survival. Guys tend to avoid baking, though. Too many instructions to follow, and let’s face it – guys are impulsive; baking uses exact measurements, so there is no room for improvisation. So keep it simple. In a lineup of easy desserts to make, it’s easy to point out cupcakes. So even if you’ve never pre-heated an oven, you’ve got this one in the bag. Start with a yellow cake mix. Use the cupcake directions on the back of the box. While you are mixing your batter, add two tablespoons of maple syrup, one tablespoon of whiskey, and one cup of cooked, crumbled bacon pieces. Fill your cupcake pan, then bake as directed on the box. When the whiskey cupcakes come out of the oven, make sure to wait until they are completely cool before icing them. For the icing, start with one container of cake icing in any flavor, and add one tablespoon of maple syrup and a splash of whiskey. Spread the icing over the cool cupcakes, and sprinkle some extra bacon crumbles on the top for some manly cupcakes that mean business!

5. Eat them with your hands.

Messy Cupcake Hand
Okay, we know most people eat cupcakes with their hands, but we need to be cover all the bases. No matter how great it is, whiskey cupcakes are just not as manly when eaten with a plate and a fork. Enjoy your manly cupcakes with as much mess as possible. Eat them outside, next to a fire pit, and a smoldering cigar. No napkins, either.

After you’ve mastered the art of manly cupcakes, you can move on to other challenges. We found this awesome recipe for Chocolate Stout and Bacon Skillet Brownies. Definitely the manliest brownies you’ll ever try.

Chocolate Stout and Bacon Skillet Brownie

from thebeeroness.com

Top 10 cocktails for St. Patrick’s Day

Drinking holidays are a team favorite, of course, so we decided to do a roundup of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day drinks. Everyone likes to celebrate with a few green cocktails, and the ubiquitous green beer, but Ireland’s drinking history goes back for centuries. Starting with Ireland’s whiskey, stouts, and cream liquors, and moving on to some less traditional spirits as well, there’s an endless list of options to choose from. We polled the HomeWetBar.com team, and here are our top 10 St. Patrick’s Day drinks.

1. Irish CoffeeHambuirg Personalized Beer Mug

You can’t drink all day unless you start in the morning, and Irish coffee is the perfect choice. Easily made by stirring together hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and brown sugar, simply top with thick cream and you’re ready to kick St. Patty’s Day off right.

2. Blarney Stone

By Don LaVange (Flickr: The Last Word) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The first of the green cocktails on our list, a Blarney Stone is named after Ireland’s most legendary rock. Made mostly from Irish whiskey, add splashes of anis liqueur, triple sec, and Maraschino, and shake together with ice. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel for a festive presentation. The Blarney Stone cocktail may not be green, but it’s a must have at any St. Patrick’s Day party.

3. Irish Buck

Copper Mug

An easy, fruity cocktail that anyone will enjoy, the Irish Buck is two parts whiskey, three parts ginger ale, with a hearty squeeze of lime juice for good measure. When you use smooth & sweet Bushmills Irish whiskey, the bite of the ginger balances this cocktail into a tasty treat. It’s a frequent hit with Moscow Mule lovers, too.

4. Emerald Isle

By chispita_666 (Flickr: Apple-tini) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most beautiful green alcoholic drinks, the name “Emerald Isle” suitably pays tribute to Ireland’s vibrant landscape. Mixed with two parts gin, one half part green creme de menthe, and a dash of bitters, this cocktail has a fresh minty flavor that will transport you right to the fields outside Dublin.

5. Shandy

shandy

A superb choice for light drinkers, the Shandy is made by mixing Irish beer in equal portion with seltzer and lemonade. You can use other non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, such as ginger ale or lemon-lime soda. This beer cocktail gives you the traditional feel of St. Patrick’s Day beer drinking with a fruity twist.

6. Irish Car Bomb

Irish_Car_Bomb

Super fun and amazingly simple, the Irish Car Bomb is a bar favorite. Start by filling a pint glass halfway with Guinness. Next, fill a shot glass with half Irish whiskey, and half Bailey’s Irish cream liqueur. Finally, drop the shot glass into the beer, and drink up! Ideally, this drink is meant to be chugged all at once, although taking your time is equally as tasty.

7. Grapefruit Whiskey Sour

Grapefruit Whiskey Sour from Bakers Royale

This modern take on a classic cocktail is one of our new favorite St. Patrick’s Day drinks. Made with 2 ounces of Irish whiskey, 1 ounce of sugar, and 1 ounce of fresh grapefruit juice shaken over ice, simply strain into a glass and sip. The tangy punch of the grapefruit juice combined with the freshly dissolved sugar is a brilliant replacement for the standard sweet and sour mixer. Thanks for the recipe, Bakers Royale!

8. Black Velvet

Black Velvet from BBC Good Food

So easy, and so delectable, the Black Velvet is made by filling a champagne flute half way with sparkling wine, then topping it off with Guinness. The unusual combination creates an unforgettable flavor, with a bubbly texture that tastes like a party in a glass.

9. Midori Melon Bomb

Midori Melon Bomb

The sweet melon flavor of Midori makes it a versatile way to add color to green cocktails. The Midori Melon Bomb is created with Midori, golden rum, orange juice, and garnished with citrus. Definitely the sweetest St. Patrick’s Day drink on our list. With a combination of flavors that’s popular and easy to drink, we could easily see multiplying the ingredients to make a fantastic green punch recipe. A big thanks to our friends at TheNibble for helping us find is treat!

10. Celtic Mix Cocktail

Holidays are more fun when you celebrate with your friends and neighbors, which is why we love the Celtic Mix cocktail. In a fun tribute to geography, this drink stirs together Irish whiskey, Scotch whiskey, fresh lemon juice and a dash of bitters. Served on the rocks, the old fashioned flavor will make you homesick for County Cork, even if you’re only Irish for a day.

10 Spectacular Alternative Bridesmaids Favors


The bridesmaids at any wedding can help the big day go flawlessly. From helping the bride prepare in the morning, to partying into the early hours of the next day, bridesmaids are angels in disguise when it comes to making sure everything runs to plan. Bridesmaid’s favors are a long and honored tradition as they acknowledge the time and effort spent by those special women both on the day and during the months beforehand. Traditionally given on the morning before the wedding, it’s the best way for the bride and groom to show their appreciation. Traditional gifts are centered around the wedding itself, usually as something to wear during the ceremony or a framed photograph from the wedding should you wait until after the day. If you want to ensure that your bridesmaids really love their gifts, it might be better to choose something more personal. If you don’t have the time (or energy!) to hand make gifts for all of your bridesmaids, never fear! There are plenty of personalized and alternative gifts out there that your girls are bound to love – you just need to know where to look.

Monogrammed tote bag IMAGE ONE Tote bags are fantastic: they’re easy to store, can hold loads of stuff and match almost any outfit. If you have lots of bridesmaids, monogrammed tote bags are sure to go down a treat and by having them monogrammed with each bridesmaid’s initials adds the ever-popular personal touch.

Silk robe IMAGE TWO When you and the girls are getting ready on the morning of the big day, you want to look your best from the moment you get out of bed. A silk robe is the perfect gift to ensure you and your bridesmaids look beautiful from the start, and a colourful, floral design is special enough for the big day while still being plenty useful for everyday use.

Emergency case IMAGE THREE Sometimes it’s the little touches that mean the most, so a personal cosmetics case filled with everything she might need, from her favorite perfume to a box of mints, makes the ideal gift. Afterwards she’ll be able to use the case for her own make-up supply – perfect!

Floral cupcakes

Everyone loves cupcakes and chances are your bridesmaids may need a little pick-me-up the day after the wedding. Provide them with a box of beautiful cupcakes decorated with edible versions of the flowers you chose or in the same colors as your color scheme – bonus friend points for having them baked in your bridesmaid’s favorite flavor!

Vintage handkerchief

IMAGE FOUR

We all know someone who loves all things vintage, so surprise them with a truly traditional yet long forgotten bridesmaid favor; vintage handkerchiefs. Handkerchiefs were incredibly popular back in the day, so by providing her with something so one-of-a-kind and special is a great way to say thanks.

Fun necklace

IMAGE FIVE

Jewelry is traditional for a reason; it acts as a fantastic keepsake and shows that you’ve taken a lot of effort to find something special. However, rather than choosing something that’s simply an addition to the bridesmaid attire, a fun, floral necklace in their favorite color is something they’ll be able to wear again and again.

Personalized mug

IMAGE SIX

A beautiful mug is a precious thing, and gifting a personalized mug with the bridesmaid’s name in their favorite color shows you’ve taken the time and effort to think about them. For an extra special twist, fill the mug with their favorite treats, whether that’s a box of special tea or tasty chocolate!

Monogrammed flask

IMAGE SEVEN

We love to party with our bridesmaids, and if they’re a fan of liquor then consider gifting them with a full moon personalized flask. It’s lovely enough to sit on a work top while also being practical, making it the ultimate all-round gift.

Leather journal

We all like to keep track of our thoughts and musings, so if you have a bridesmaid who is a budding writer, a leather journal is a truly thoughtful gift she’ll really cherish. The great thing about leather isn’t just how durable it is, but you can also have it embossed with their initials!

Phone case

IMAGE NINE

The maid of honor isn’t just a bridesmaid; chances are she’s also your best friend. Acknowledge your time together as besties with a ‘best friend’ phone case that harks back to the ‘best friend’ necklaces of childhood.

Robert Kirkman: The man behind The Walking Dead

 

Robert Kirkman

Robert Kirkman

Despite his young age of 35, Robert Kirkman has made a huge name for himself in both literature and TV. If you don’t know his name, you’ll have certainly heard of his most successful series to date: The Walking Dead.

Starting as a comic book series, The Walking Dead was commissioned by AMC and became one of this century’s most successful shows internationally to date. With unforgettable characters such as Daryl, Rick and Shane, we’re taking a look at the man who created this masculine, entertaining and utterly gripping story.

Kirkman: The creator

Robert Kirkman

Born and raised in Kentucky, Kirkman’s southern upbringing certainly translates into the characters and world he created in The Walking Dead. However, his earlier career was far removed from the southern state and instead focused on everyone’s favorite comic book characters – superheroes!

Self-published series Battle Pope was a co-created with Tony Moore, and enjoyed a comic tone as a parody of the typical superhero story. Despite this ironic twist, Kirkman was hired by Image Comics to work on his first mainstream work: Super Patriot.

His career with Image Comics developed and became increasingly successful as he continued. While he created a six-issue series in 2002 called Tech Jacket, he also worked on the hugely successful Invincible, a story following the son of a superhero who goes on to have his own career.

This tongue-in-cheek and truly unique approach to an incredibly popular genre of comic made Invincible the first of Kirkman’s hugely successful ventures, and truly made him a name to watch in the comic book and graphic novel scene. The comic was such a success the, in 2005, Paramount Pictures acquired the rights to the story and hired Kirkman to write the script!

Kirkman also enjoyed a long-running freelance contract with Marvel Comics, working on characters such as Ant-Man and the X-Men amongst other, lesser known works. While this freelance deal was put on halt when Kirkman became a partner at Image Comics, it served to make him one of the most recognizable names in the industry, and a superstar of the graphic novel and comic scene.

Kirkman: The writer

David Morrissey

David Morrissey

His artistry and writing obviously interlink within the comics he has created, but his writing talents expand further than the graphic novel route. Once The Walking Dead rights had been acquired by AMC in 2009, he not only came on board as an executive producer, but has written a large number of the episodes of the series.

Along with writing for the TV show, Kirkman has written three traditional novels documenting one of the most famous villains from the series, The Governor. Looking at the events that turned him into the evil dictator we love to hate today, the novels expand upon the series and show that Kirkman truly is one of the most talented creators of his generation.

The Walking Dead

 

Gage Skidmore

Gage Skidmore

Of course, Kirkman’s most well received work has been The Walking Dead; blending the recognition of the deep south of America with the traditional zombie trope, Kirkman has created a publication that is amongst the most successful franchises we’ve seen this millennium.

It is the depth of the characters that makes us love this series so much; while past franchises focused upon the horror of the living dead, we instead are given an insight into the humanity behind a zombie apocalypse.

Created in 2003, The Walking Dead was an almost instant success, with the monthly publication receiving multiple awards during its 11 years of publication. In 2010, when the TV show first launched, the comic series also won the Eisner Award for the Best Continuing Series at Comic-Con, cementing Kirkman’s work as a classic forever.

Know your port: A beginner’s guide

Port wine; it has a somewhat bad name. Stereotypically the reserve of the older generations, it’s sweet, rich taste makes it the perfect after-dinner refreshment but is sadly dismissed by those who don’t know what they’re missing.

If you’ve neglected this delicious and delicate drink in the past, now is the time to correct your behavior. Luckily for you, Home Wet Bar is on hand to tell you everything you need to know as a beginner, from how it’s made to how to drink it.

What’s in a name?

Douro Valley at Home Wet Bar

The name of port stems from its country of origin: Portugal. Grown and produced in the Douro Valley of Portugal, port is actually like champagne, in the sense that if the product is produced in any other region, it’s not technically port.

If you want to invest in some genuine port, the official name if Vinho do Porto, an important name to note as many products produced elsewhere in the world including other regions of Portugal and within the US will be labelled as either port, or by other Portuguese names such as Dão, Oporto, or simply Porto.

How it’s made

Port Wine Cellars at Home Wet Bar

As the name Vinho do Porto would suggest, port is made in a very similar way to wine. The season starts in September when specially grown port grapes are picked, often by hand. These particular grapes differ from those used for wine as the juice much more concentrated thanks to the small size of the berry and its thick skin.

There are several varieties of port grape that each produce a distinct flavor and are typically harvested together to result in a final product that produces a rich and delicious nose for the beverage.

Once picked, the grapes are crushed either by machine or by the traditional method of foot crushing until the majority of the juices are released. The skins are left with the juice, which allows the product to ferment and become a dark color, while some of the natural sugars are still present.

Poured into a massive container known as a Cubas, neutral grape alcohol is added to the mixture. Similar to brandy, this extra alcohol is of a very high percentage, usually in the 70% region. Once blended, the liquid is then added to barrels until it has aged appropriately.

Before bottling, some ports may be blended again according to their type, whilst others may be bottled as is – and that’s it!

Know the styles

Port Bottles at Home Wet Bar

Just like any other drink, there are several styles of port to choose from depending on the taste you’re looking for. Let’s break them down:

  • Tawny: A sweet or medium dry style, tawny port is made from red grapes and aged in a wooden barrel that allows the liquid to slowly oxidize and evaporate. This process gives the liquid its amber color and produces a nutty, sweet flavor that works perfectly as a desert wine.
  • Ruby: One of the most common types of port, a ruby port is stored in a solid container of either concrete or steel in order to prevent oxidization and maintain the rich, deep color after which the style is named.
  • Rose: A newcomer to the port scene, rose port is technically similar to a ruby, but as the liquid has been fermented for a shorter amount of time with the skins which are soon removed after crushing (in the same style as rosé wine), the liquid adopts a light, rose color.
  • White: A vast range of flavors, white port can be anything from extremely sweet to extremely dry and is excellent when included in a cocktail. Made from white grapes, the port is typically allowed to age in a wooden barrel for long periods of time.

These are the basics; there are a variety of other styles available based upon different years and blends, along with the area of production but most types fall within these four main categories.

How to drink it

Cheese with Port at Home Wet Bar

Since port is so much stronger in both flavor and alcohol content than wine, you don’t want to drink huge amounts of it at once! Port is best enjoyed after a delicious meal alongside desert or a rich and varied cheeseboard, as the sweetness and complex nose can help to enhance the flavors of a meal.

Port should be aired but not oxidized, which can make serving it quite tricky. Designed in the 17th Century, port sippers allow the port to air, while the hand warms the liquid as you sip from the spout. A traditional way to drink this delightful wine, and one of the best!

My Funny Valentine: Best of the web

Whether you love or loathe (or couldn’t give two hoots about) Valentine’s Day, there’s one thing we can all agree on – funny Valentine’s stuff on the internet is the best thing about February 14. There is nowhere better for a Valentine’s laugh than online, and we’ve found some of the best.

Valentine’s 2014 seem to be all about the puns, with no pop culture reference left untouched. Likewise, we’re enjoying looking at some of the hilarious comments made by kids, adults and companies alike! Let’s have a look at some of our favorites…

#Budvice

Budweiser is currently tweeting out #Budvice with some hilarious results! The above is one of our favorites being just on the right side of tongue-in-cheek.

Pantone 18-3418 TCX


This technical tweet is witty enough to tickle anyone’s funny bone but niche enough to be a nod to the designers out there who know their stuff (psst… they’re technical names for color shades!).

The youth of today

Something we’ve all surely considered, the baby cherub is a strange icon for the modern world. When once it was romantic, today it’s nothing short of terrifying…

Banish predictable gifts!

We’ve all been there in some form or another: you’ve just started dating someone and feel awkward not getting anything – but you still don’t really know them well enough for a real gift. Take a risk guys: buy something you know she’ll love.

Kids say it best

kids

Kids really do say the funniest things! School projects probably result in some of the most memorable pieces from your childhood and more likely because you made something inadvertently hilarious rather than being a child prodigy with a glue stick.

Breaking hearts
breaking

We couldn’t get enough of Breaking Bad here at Home Wet Bar and there’s been a hole in our lives ever since the final. Thankfully, you can show your beloved how much you care along with enjoying some Breaking Bad humor at the same time this holiday!

You’re a-peel-ing

bananas
Fruit art has become something of a trend recently and it’s great to see people’s artistic sides coming out on a, erm, banana. Quirky and pun-tastic, it’s everything you could possibly want in a Valentine’s message.

How to Choose the Perfect Cigar For You

Cigars – along with martinis, brown liquor and BBQs – are a staple of manhood.

Whether you’re moving out on your own, joining the military, getting married or having a baby, a cigar is the ultimate way to celebrate.

But how do you choose a good cigar? For the uninitiated, selecting the right cigar for them can be daunting.

Fear not . Like beer, everyone has their own preferences… and in this post we’ll examine how to find that perfect smoke for you.

The 4 Parts of a Cigar

#1. The head: This is the side you put in your mouth. It’s also the side you’ll need to cut (assuming the guy at the shop hasn’t already).

There are three ways to cut it:

  • A guillotine: Simple, effective and cheap. Buy one at the cigar shop. It’s worth it.
  • A sharp knife: Doable, but not as good as a guillotine.
  • Your teeth: This will make you look like a schmuck. Don’t do it.

#2. The foot: This is the side you light. Usually, the foot is already cut for you.

#3. The filler: The inside goodness of the cigar. Filler consists of both dried and fermented tobacco, which helps bring out different flavors and aromas.

#4. The wrapper: The outside of the cigar (duh). Surprisingly, most of a cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper, which is a major reason why Cuban cigars are held in such high regard (more on Cubans in a minute).

Now let’s talk about…

Choosing the Right Cigar For You

How to Choose CigarsYour first stop should be the local cigar shop. Here you’ll find a variety of well preserved cigars and a professional tobacconist who can help answer your questions.

Once there, you’ll enter the humidor (named for the constant level of humidity) and browse their selection of cigars.

Why the humidity? Simple. Too much moisture will rot cigars, too little will dry them out.

Now it’s time to choose a cigar. As I mentioned before, it’s all a matter of taste. Here’s what you need to consider:

Body

“Body” in this case refers to the strength of flavor. While experienced smokers enjoy full-bodied cigars (usually with dark wrappers), beginners should try a mild or medium bodied cigar to start with (lighter wrappers).

Size

Size refers to two measurements: the length (measured in inches) and ring gauge (circumference), which is represented in 1/64ths of an inch.

For example, a cigar that is 7 x 48 means it is seven inches long and 48/64ths of an inch.

Size does affect flavor. Larger ring gauges allow for a more complex blend of tobaccos, which can enhance the flavor.

Rating

Like most good things in life (beer, wine, scotch, etc.) cigars have independent ratings. The most popular rating is from Cigar Aficionado, which ranks cigars on a scale of 1-100.

Here’s how they describe their rankings:

95 – 100: Classic

90 – 94: Outstanding

80 – 89: Very good to excellent

70 – 79: Average to good

Below 70: Forget about it.

How to Inspect a Cigar for Quality

The first thing to inspect is a cigar’s construction. Roll it between your fingers and note any bumps or empty spaces. The more evenly distributed the tobacco, the better.

Why? Because it affects the smoothness of the cigar. Any empty pockets or rough textures will result in a harsher smoke when you puff.

The second thing to consider is the tobacco quality. Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to judge just by looking at it, so this is where the rating system (and a brand’s reputation) comes into play. When in doubt, ask a tobacconist for help on this.

Lighting a Cigar the Right Way

Be sure to use wood matches or a butane lighter. Paper matches or gas lighters produce chemicals which negatively affect the flavor of your cigar – avoid them!

Before you light your cigar, run the flame under the foot (the end you light) and rotate the cigar a few times. Don’t actually touch the flame to the cigar; at this point, you just want to warm up the tobacco first to ensure it will burn smoothly.

Then, hold the flame in front of the cigar (but again, not actually touching it) and gently rotate the cigar while inhaling a few times.

And that’s it!

Now before we close, I’d like to touch on a very important debate which is…

Cuban Cigars: Are They Really That Good?

In a word: yes.

The Cuban government takes cigar making very seriously, and stringent regulations ensure they’re of the highest quality. Plus, Cuban cigar rollers – called “torcedores” – are possibly the best in the world. Many roll cigars for their entire lives.

But if you’r e in the US, the 1962 embargo pretty much prevents you from buying them. And if someone is offering “Cuban” cigars in the US, they’re probably fake (and you’re getting ripped off).

So if you do want to smoke a real Cuban, you’ll need to head to Canada or Mexico first.

Got any extra cigar tips? Let us know in the comments below! Find the perfect cigar accessories for your smoking hobby over at our men’s gifts website GreatGiftsForMen.com.