Cocktail Concocting Contest

When my older brother first presented this challenge, I knew that modifying an existing classic would be the surest route to success. It’s impossible to get excited about any task unless you’ve some passion to begin with. So, it had to be a cocktail I already adored. My favorite, the Martini, has been worked to death, and there’s so little to it that any variation is just that — there’s not much room for creativity when you’re dealing with something that is arguably the Zen ideal of a drink.

High on my list of personal favorites after…

Vintage 2020 — A view from the left coast

Many have observed that wine contains the bottled memories of Summers past. While it may be more technically correct to say that wine reflects the conditions of the Spring and Fall far more than the Summer, there is a poetic truth in the sentiment. In the case of the 2020 vintage, the bottles when they are opened may yield a glass filled more with ashes and rue than the expected sweet nostalgia. I have never seen a vintage here on the West Coast where so many vintners choose not to harvest…

Still Lives and Emotional Content

Edouard Manet

“The air one sees in paintings of the masters cannot be breathed.”


Many great minds from the ancients through to the moderns have observed that one of the functions of Art is to make the familiar appear new — to open our eyes, or perhaps it is our hearts that are being unfurled. The world’s beauty and splendor have of course been there all along, but the cataracts of daily use dull our perception, so we fail to see what is gleaming obviously in plain sight.

Still lives as a genre illustrate this more…

Creativity in Winemaking — Intuition and its Empirical Foundation

“Intuition is no miracle; it is a spark that will fly once a large enough charge of knowledge, experiments, thought, and meditation has been built up.”

- Edmond Roudnitska

With winemaking and all of the other household arts it is wise to first distinguish between uppercase Art and lowercase art. Like cooking and brewing winemaking falls firmly into the small “a” art category. Creativity is of course involved in both types as is a keen focus on the aesthetic aspects of perception. However, the creation of Art is the desire to…

Binging on Books

You hear a lot about folks binging on TV shows. Staying up way too late and watching episode after episode in a relentless 50-minute cycle. I have done it myself. And then there is the darker side of the verb concerned with stuffing things down your throat, whether liquid or solid. That’s a story for another day. But you never hear about binge reading. Maybe nobody is reading. Maybe reading is considered somehow more morally sound so that the tinge of binging does not adhere.

But the phenomena exists. We all seek comfort in troubled times. Readers…

Terroir in Wine — Somewhereness

“No other major civilization in Europe or elsewhere has ever valued the soil more than the French or associated it more intimately with the good.”

- Armand Fremont

No less authoritative a wine writer than Jancis Robinson has called terroir an untranslatable French term. I beg to differ. It is one of the meta-concepts of fine wine. And, like so many of the most interesting ideas in wine it resists a simple definition. While it is a subtle and illusive quarry, it is no less real because of that. It is certainly not exclusively within…

Larry Brooks

Larry has been reading and writing for a long time. He’s mostly known as a winemaker’s winemaker.

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