March 3, 2011

proof whisky, poker face, Vol. 22

Looking for an excuse to get the guys together? Why not host a friendly poker night at your place? This week we are talking about everything poker-related and our Thursty Thursday recipe, the proof Manhattan is a hands-down favourite. To learn more about our brand visit Become a friend on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

proof manhattan (single)                                     
1 1/2 oz proof whisky          
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth      
1 dash Angostura bitters     
Stir well in a mixing glass filled with ice. 
Strain into a chilled rocks glass and garnish with a cherry.

proof manhattan (pitcher)
1 bottle 500 mL proof whisky
8 oz Sweet Vermouth
10 dashes Angostura bitters
Mixing instructions:
Stir all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve beside ice bucket and bowl of cherries.

If you're hosting a poker game with friends, chances are, they are not professionals. Your game is not going to be as riveting as the ones you see on tv. With this in mind, you need to focus on the fun of it. This means comfortable chairs, appropriate lighting, and background music. (don’t play music so loud that people will not be able to chat or concentrate) Try to instill an atmosphere where players socialize while playing. The game will be extremely dull if played in silence. Snacks and drinks are key here.

INSPIRATION: For a great music compilation check out the 'Entourage Soundtrack

Watch one of these classic poker movies for inspiration pre-game or play them in your ‘losers lounge’. The Sting, Lock, Stock & Barrel, Rounders, Casino, Croupier, The Cincinatti Kid, The Gambler, High Roller, The Cooler, A Big Hand for a Little Lady, Kaleidescope, The Gambler, Loaded Pistols, Maverick and California Split.

DRINKS: If you are actually planning on playing a few hands, you will not want to be constantly fetching brewskis or mixing drinks for your pals - the solution – DIY bar. Here are some important tips for setting up a perfect poker DIY bar. 1) Make it close to the playing table. When things get more intense in the game, nobody is going to want to leave the room for a second. 2) If it is not close to a refrigerator, make sure that you have a bucket of ice or cooler set up for beer 3) Put out a good assortment of mix. If you choose to make your party BYOB, you can still supply the mix and garnish. This may include, Clamato, tomato, oj, soft drinks, sweet vermouth and bitters. 4) Have the right tools handy – meaning a spill cloth, spoons, tongs, glassware, stir sticks. You don’t want to spend the next week cleaning up your place, because somebody sock-mopped a spill and then trekked it across your carpet 5) Ice! Ice! Ice! Ice!

FOOD: We could give you a list of wonderful Martha Stewart recipes to perfectly match your theme, but let’s face it  – your friends won’t care. Instead, set out lots of quality nuts, chips, dips, and make your own sandwiches and put your energy into getting all of the other things right. If you really want hot foods, pick up some frozen appetizers (m&m meats, loblaws) or better yet, order in.

To make the evening even more successful make sure to think about a ‘losers’ lounge’. Your lounge’ can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it is an enjoyable place for your guests. You do not need to be fancy here, just provide an area, ideally close to the card table and the DIY drink bar, where those who are not playing can hang out and have fun. (Set them up in front of a tv with video games or movies)


For a solid poker game you will need the following items: good quality poker chips, a good playing surface (one of more decent tables), at least 2 decks of playing cards, a dealer button (if you are doing tournament-style: tournament timer, card cover and spinner) Here are a couple of locations that carry them:,,

Tip: Make sure that you have established and announced all the rules before the evening begins. You should know how much money guests can expect to be betting, table rules (such as blinds, and antes), and most importantly, what game you are going to play.

Texas Hold’em poker is by far the best game for a beginner to learn. It can be learned in a few minutes and you can be playing fairly well with a few hours of practice. Depending on the limit and betting structure players will place out blinds and antes so there is an initial amount to get things started. This is called posting. The dealer shuffles up a standard deck of 52 playing cards. Each player is dealt two private cards face down. These are called your hole cards or pocket cards.  Then there is a round of betting starting with the player to the left of the blinds. This is the pre-flop betting round. Like most games of poker, players can call, raise, or fold.  After the betting round ends, the dealer discards the top card of the deck. This is called a burn card. This is done to prevent cheating. The dealer then flips the next three cards face up on the table. This is called the flop. These are communal cards that anyone can use in combination with their two pocket cards to form a poker hand.  The player to the left of the dealer starts another betting round. After the betting concludes, the dealer burns again then flips another communal card onto the table. This is called the turn. The player to the left of the dealer begins another round of betting. In many types of games, this is where the bet size doubles. Again, the dealer burns a card and places a final card face up on the table. This is called the river. Players can now use any of the five cards on the table or the two cards in their pocket to form a five-card poker hand. There is one final round of betting starting with the player to the left of the dealer. After that, we have the showdown. All of the players who haven't folded reveal their hands. This begins with the player to the left of the last player to call. Players use a combination of their pocket cards and the community cards to form a five-card poker hand. The player who shows the best hand wins! 
For an easier way to learn the game, you may want to search you tube for some great how-to videos.

If you feel like getting out of the house, take a little road-trip to one of the Ontario Casinos: Casino Rama (, Brantford Charity Casino (, Great Blue Heron Charity Casino (, Niagara Fallsview Casino ( or Casino Niagara (

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Light rain and a high of 6 degrees
Sunday: A few flurries and a high of -2 degrees

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