How to Tie a Bow Tie

This video is the best instructional video on how to tie a bow tie on the internet. I only wear a bow tie once or twice a year, which makes me a prime consumer of instructional videos on how to tie them. Most of them are less than useful, breezily flipping through a few steps with some upbeat comments like: “See? It’s a piece of cake! Unless you are a moron!

Lisa’s video is much more useful, showing not just an important paradigm for thinking about the problem (Not like tying a necktie, more like tying a shoe lace) but also pointing out several common failure points and providing useful tricks on how to avoid the traps. Excellent piece of work!

By the way, Lisa Eaton is the owner, production manager, and all around engine behind Bowtie.Com a top-notch supplier of bow ties and also suspenders. These are wonderful products! I have more than ten pair of suspenders made by Lisa between 2006 and 2008. I love them. They wear like iron – much more durable than products purchased from even very expensive department stores. I haven’t been able to make one pair wear out yet and I have discarded many department store purchases in the same time-frame. I highly recommend their products!

The Texas Craft Beer Avalanche

By Austin Powell

Have you ever seen an avalanche in motion? At first glance it starts out small, but with time it evolves into an unstoppable, downward force that’s only enemy is the mountain’s incline.

A similar phenomenon is occurring in the Texas craft beer industry. Once a small industry, Texas craft brewers have a chance to put a stake in the state’s beer market. Four bills are being introduced into the Texas legislature that will make it easier for small to medium size brewers to get their product to the masses.

Texas craft brewers produced 133,000 barrels of beer in 2011, a 46% increase from 2010, according to a study conducted by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

The same study showed that Texas craft beers brought in $608 million to the state’s economy in 2011. The four bills, if passed, could send economic revenue into the $6.5 billion range, said the study.

Residents in the Lone State are looking to capitalize on the soon to be burgeoning industry by crafting their own beer or selling it. For example, J.T. and Brandy Egli are not homegrown Texans, but you wouldn’t say that on first glance. J.T. sports a thick beard with a curled mustache that screams Austin, and his wife, Brandy, has a welcoming southern charm that would make anyone feel at home.

But the Egli’s are not from Austin, not even Texas for that matter. In fact, they are from Iowa and decided to move to Austin after they began to notice the craft beer industry become popular. Two years later and they are opening their fist bar, Craft Pride.

Craft Pride is a particular bar that differentiates itself from the lively bar culture in the state’s capital. What separates Craft Pride from the city’s hundreds of other bars? Craft Pride specializes in serving only beers and wines from Texas microbreweries and wineries. The bar is located on the vibrant Rainey St., a street lined with old houses turned bars near the banks of Lady Bird Lake.

Craft Pride is attempting to help popularize the Texas craft beer industry by serving only Texas-made beers.

Craft Pride is attempting to help popularize the Texas craft beer industry by serving only Texas-made beers.

“We felt we the need to build a bar to honor Texas craft beers,” J.T. says. “Besides, beer is a liquid bread, so what’s not to like?” he added.

Chris Booth is Craft Pride’s operation’s manager, but more importantly he’s also the bar’s cicerone. As a cicerone he is tasked with having an in-depth knowledge of the bar’s 55 rotating beers. He said the bar would carry every type of beer from amber ale to wheat beers.

Chris and the Egli’s emphasized that everyone, from the casual beer drinker to the beer expert, is welcome to the bar. The bar holds approximately 50 people inside and the patio in the back holds nearly 400.

As legislation loosens regulations on the industry, consumers from across the state will have the opportunity to taste the ever-growing varieties of craft brews.

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Savoring Whiskey

So, you have just returned from the liquor store the proud owner of a new bottle of fine whiskey. How are you going to consume it?  Are you going to pour it into a Styrofoam cup? Mix it with generic cola? Of course not. You want to savor that fine product. Here are some tips:

Shot Glass

Shot glass with whiskey

Shot Glass

Serving whiskey in shot glasses is certainly easy and gulping down shots of whiskey is an effective technique for getting drunk in a hurry. However, it is hard to get a good sense of a whiskey’s flavor when drinking it from a shot glass. Shot glasses are not the recommended vessel for savoring high-quality whiskey.

On the Rocks

Glass of whiskey on the rocks (with ice)

On the Rocks

This is a more effective approach to serving whiskey. Fill a tumbler with large chunks of ice. Drizzle the whiskey over the ice. The ice will melt slightly, diluting the whiskey and opening up its aroma. The ice will also chill the whiskey.

Splash of Water

Glass of whiskey with a splash of water

Splash of Water

Serious whiskey aficionados will taste whiskey with a splash of cold water. That is, an ounce of whiskey is splashed with perhaps one-third ounce of chilled water. This approach releases the
aroma of the whiskey without unduly chilling or diluting it. In fact, there are such things as whiskey tasting glasses (but I don’t happen to own one).

Mizuwari

Glass of water and whickey Japanese Mizuwari style

Mizuwari

The traditional Japanese approach is “Mizuwari.” (水割り) A glass is filled with ice. The whiskey is poured over the ice. The rest of the glass is filled with ice water and the drink is stirred.

Typically, whiskey is consumed this way in a very expensive bar. You have a long and delightful conversation with your friend, sharing a bottle of expensive blended scotch. The elegant proprietor of the bar stands behind the bar smiling, nodding gracefully, and silently refilling your glass as you and your friend solve all the world’s problems.

You end up positively hammered.

This makes for a very pleasant (and expensive) evening, but it is not a particularly effective approach for tasting expensive whiskey.

(The above tips are an excerpt from our book Systematic Martini Lifestyle available from the Asatte Press Store. )

A Week Before the Party – Chapter Splash Page from Systematic Martini Lifestyle

Chapter Splash Image - A Week Before the Party

A Week Before the Party

Here is one of the chapter splash pages from our book: Systematic Martini Lifestyle

Tomoko Hetherington was responsible for all of the photography and artwork for the book.

In this chapter, our young reader is still a week away from hosting his first Martini party. The chapter teaches the preparation steps that will be needed during the week before the party.

What is this a picture of? Why did Tomoko choose this image for this chapter? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

Systematic Martini Lifestyle and Bar Accessories Now Available

The Asatte Press Store is proud to announce its line of Systematic™ Martini Lifestyle and Bar Accessories.  Designed to help ease your transition into classiness, each item is made to the highest specifications of function and quality.  From the office to the outdoors, happy hour to a networking dinner, you will systematically benefit from these great products.

Kimarie Sky shows off both our flask and measurement shot glass.

Kimarie Sky shows off both our Systematic Hip Flask and Systematic Shot Glass.

Systematic Hip Flask shown with Systematic Shot Glass.  Whiskey not included

Systematic Hip Flask shown with Systematic Shot Glass. Whiskey not included

Systematic Hip Flask.  This stainless steel hip flask has a six-ounce capacity and is adorned with our simple and modern Systematic logo laser-etched on the front.  At 4.25 inches tall, it is conveniently sized to fit easily in the rear pocket of a man’s trousers for stealthy consumption at overly long or boring functions you might be asked to attend.

 

 

Systematic Shot Glasses being put to great use

Systematic Shot Glasses being put to great use

 

Systematic Shot Glass.  The Systematic Shot Glass is two-and-a-half ounces with measurements laser-etched on the side for convenience in drink mixing. The elegant elongated shape adds to the classy feel of your fancier parties.

 

 

 

Kimarie Sky enjoys her Systematic Water bottle at the office.

Kimarie enjoying her Systematic Water Bottle at the office.

 

Systematic Water Bottle.  For use in your gym or office, the Systematic Water Bottle will keep you hydrated and cooled.  The bright red aluminum is lightweight, odor resistant, and impact resistant. With a 17-ounce capacity and standing at seven-and-a-half inches, this will be your go-to water bottle.

 

 

 

Our bento lunch box is sleek and helps with portion control, a tenant of Systematic Dieting

Our Systematic Lunch Box is sleek and helps with portion control, a tenant of Systematic Dieting

 

Systematic Lunch Box. If you’ve recently resumed taking your lunch to work, this sleek, lightweight and attractive box keeps your lunch safe while fitting compactly into a purse or briefcase. This durable, aluminum lunch box comes with a repositionable divider that says goodbye to paper bags.

 

Kimarie holds her business cards in our attractive holder

Kimarie holds her business cards in our attractive Business Card Case

 

The Systematic Business Card Case.  Don’t fumble through your over-filled wallet to hand your business card to potential clients.   Available in red, white and blue, the case’s aluminum tray slides conveniently in and out of the tough plastic cover, keeping upwards of ten of your cards safe in a convenient and compact container.

 

 

 

Kimarie using the Systematic Architect's Scale for an important project

Kimarie using the Systematic Architect’s Scale for an important project

 

Systematic Micro Architect’s Scale.The sleek, modern Micro Architect’s Scale is a great product for artists, technicians, and architects. This ruler is small, portable, and won’t get in the way when you need it most. The durable, aluminum Micro Architect’s Scale is a handy tool suitable that comes in both inches and centimeters.

 

 

Kimarie Sky enjoys a Merlot while admiring the full-size Wine & Cheese: A Love Story poster

Kimarie Sky enjoys a Merlot while admiring the full-size Wine & Cheese: A Love Story poster

Wine and Cheese: A Love Story. For centuries, wine and cheese have been inseparable due to their amazing ability to complement each other perfectly. This poster not only illustrates the statistical consumption and production of both foods around the world, but it also serves as a handy guide to selecting cheeses to pair with wines.This great informational guide, available in full and personal-size, serves as a beautiful wall piece to display in a kitchen, wine cellar or living area.

 

 

A Little Gallery of Our Favorite Pictures

Actually, we are just testing out the gallery feature here. It is Friday afternoon and not much is going on.

The Texas Wine Conundrum

By Austin Powell

At Asatte Press we take our wine and beer seriously. However, since we are a Texas-based company we hold Texas-produced wine and beer very dear. “Texas wine and beer?” you ask. Yes, our Lone Star State has slowly become a national contender in volume of wine and craft beer produced. Texas wine and beer is pretty damn good, too. In this two-part blog post we will discuss the Texas craft beer and wine culture and go into detail about what makes both authentically Texan.

Texas wine has a history that dates back to the 17th century when Spanish missionaries planted vineyards near El Paso. Today the Texan wine industry is thriving. According to a study by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, in 2011 the Texas wine industry contributed $1.83 billion to the Texan economy.

The first step in identifying a good Texan wine is to determine what region of Texas the wine originated. The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association says that the state has 420 growers and 273 wineries. The state has eight American Viticultural (grape growing) Areas. Below is a table breaking down each region by the types of grapes that are grown in the area. Both the Texoma region to the north and the Mesilla Valley to the west are excluded from the table.

 
 
Region
 
 
 
 
 
Type of GrapeTexas Hill CountryTexas High PlainsBell Mountain (included with Hill Country)Escondido ValleyFredericksburg (included with Hill Country)Texas David Mountains (included with West Texas)
Cabarnet SauvignonXXXX
Sauvignon BlancXXXX
Cabarnet FrancXXXX
ChardonnnayXXXXX
Chenin BlancXXX
ColombardXXX
Black MuscatX
BarberaX
GrenacheX
MalbecXX
MerlotXX
Muscat CanelliXX
Orange MuscatX
Pinot NoirXX
SangioveseXX
SyrahXX
TempranilloX
ViognierXX
Alicante BouscheteX
Blanc du BoisX
NortonX
Petit VerdotX
PrimitivoX
RieslingX
SemillonX
TanatX
TourigaX
NacionalX

As you can see the state offers numerous different varietals of wines to choose from with Hill Country and the High Plains offering the most options.

Chris Hull is the winemaker for Llano Estacado winery in Lubbock. He says that despite the heat in the High Plains region, the dry climate still allows the grapes to retain their flavor.

“The warm weather and heat preserve the white aromatic varietals that produce your typical whites, like chardonnay,” he says.

The west Texas climate contrasts with the conditions in the northeastern part of the state where growing seasons are longer and the weather if often much more humid. This allows for red grapes to flourish.

Michael Watkins is the owner of the soon to open Wise Acres Vineyard in northeast Texas.

“The wines in the northeast Texas generally have a taste that is bitter and spicier than the western part of the state. Grapes grown in this part of the state tend to be more of the Côte de Rhone varietals from France but also are of Mediterranean Europe origin,” Michael Watkins says.

Texas will continue to be a growing market in the American wine industry as growers begin to have a better understanding of the state’s climate and growing seasons. According to a study published by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, Texas is the third largest wine producing state in the union.

Continue to follow our blog as this is the first in a two-part series about Texas wine and craft beer. Our next blog post will focus on the explosion of Texas craft beer and what kind of beer you should be drinking if you already aren’t.

The Right Jean For the Right Man

By Austin Powell

Jeans are a staple of every man’s wardrobe and they can be incredibly versatile in any given situation.  Match a good pair of jeans with a blazer and tie for a night out and you’ll be surprised to see the number of eyes that follow you as you walk into the bar.  Or slide on your trusty, ol’ faithful pair with a t-shirt to go see some friends.  But what makes a good jean?  Is it the label, the fit, or the material? A good jean is all of these components rolled into one.  But fear not as we will go into detail below to help you find the perfect jean for you.

Aside from his stirring appearance on screen, James Dean also grabbed girls’ hearts through his mix of style, look, and attitude. We can’t promise you’ll look like him, but by the end of this article you’ll learn what it takes to wear jeans like the original American rebel.

The Fits

Fit is without a doubt the most important part when considering what jean to buy.  “Know thyself” as the ancient Greek aphorism says when deciding what fit is right for you.

Straight leg:  The straight leg is a classic cut that any man – no matter his waist size – can wear.  The fit is the same from the waist down so the jean can be worn with anything in your wardrobe.

Slim fit:  With a cut that tapers from the waist on down the leg, the slim fit (or skinny fit) is an ideal cut for slender men who like to show off their form.  The slim fit is also a jean that is ideal for any man who likes to dress fashionably.

Boot cut: The boot cut is the perfect fit if you have a pair of boots or high top shoes.  The boot cut can come in both slim boot and straight boot.  However, we recommend the slim boot to accentuate your boots or shoes.

The Colors and How to Wear Them With Your Wardrobe

‘Why can’t I just stick with the traditional blue and call it a day?’ you ask.  Diversity.  Adding color to your jean collection is essential.  Different jean colors adds more pop to your wardrobe.  New colors will also let you try new color combinations that will give a new dimension to your wardrobe.

Indigo:  Indigo-wash jeans go best with light colors.  Remember, the key to showing off your wardrobe is to contrast colors that add personality to what you’re wearing.  It’s best to turn these jeans inside out when washing them to preserve the jean color.  Hang dry after.

Washed:  this is a versatile wash that can be worn with any color since it’s pretty basic.

Brown or gray:  like indigo, brown and gray should be worn with light colors.  A pair of brown jeans with a denim shirt will turn heads wherever you go.  This combination is effortless and chic at the same time.

The Brands and Why You Should Care About them

Double RL:  Double RL is a label within Ralph Lauren that takes its name from Ralph’s 17,000-acre ranch in Colorado.  It’s no coincidence that these jeans have a rugged look.  Make no mistake, this denim uses the finest material in the world for jeans: Japanese selvedge. Who would wear this brand of jean?  While the Double RL line draws inspiration from Americana, any man looking to add a bit of flair to his denim collection can wear this jean.  Double RL has also been a hit among celebrities like Ben Affleck, Kanye West, Tom Cruise.   Prices range from $220 to $360.

Levi’s:  As the original producer of denim, Levi’s is still an icon in the denim industry.  Men looking for a classic look and a medium price point can’t go wrong with Levi’s.  The San Francisco-based company offers the traditional cuts that remind us of what jeans used to look like before American manufacturers switched from 30-inch wide cloth to 60-inch wide cloth.  Who would wear this brand of jean?  The man looking for a solid, durable jean but who does not want to spend a lot of money.  Prices range from $48 to $98.

True Religion:  True Religion denim is a different beast.  Rather than opt for a classic look like Levi’s and RRL, True Religion has selected a louder and more adventurous design.  True Religion is a Los Angeles-based company that produces all of its jeans in the US,  which partly explains the high cost.  Another cost driver is the use of selvedge in its denim.  Who would wear this?  Men looking for denim that immediately stands out from everyone else’s jeans in the room and are willing to pay for it.  Prices range from $172 to $400.

Armani Jeans:  Giorgio Armani has been designing clothes since the 1970s so it’s only natural that the Italian designer has a luxury denim line.  Armani Jeans sport a much more subdued look than True Religion jeans but don’t let that turn you away from giving Armani a shot.  Given that Armani is an Italian line, the jeans’ fit tends to be of the slimmer cut around the waist and seat.  Who would wear this?  Armani Jeans are recommended for young professionals looking for a jean that can be worn in the office and for nights out on the town.  Prices range from $140 to $440.

7 For All Mankind:  Another Los Angeles-based denim producer makes our list for jeans you should take a look at.  7 for all Mankind jeans, or 7FAM, are usually tight-fitting with a low rise.  The jean is marked by unique pocket stitching that varies depending on the fit.  Who would wear this?  The same man who would wear Armani Jeans would wear 7FAM.  Prices range from $169 to $298.

What to look out for

Be very careful when buying from sites like eBay because often these jeans are reproduced fakes and are not the true product.  Always buy from the label directly if your budget can support it.

Don’t assume your jean size is the same for every brand.  Each brand is different in fit regardless of how the tag is marked.  For example Double RL jeans sometimes have different fits for the same type of denim.  Each jean is crafted differently, so a 32 X 32 slim fit may be slightly different from another 32 X 32 slim fit.

The material of the jean will determine how you take care of it.  Imagine dating Katy Perry.  Would you treat her like any other woman?  Of course not!  The same principle should be followed when dealing with jeans.  For instance, don’t rush to throw Double RL jeans in the washer after one wear.  Jeans like Double RL and the ones listed above should be broken in and washed after months of wear to preserve the fit and quality of the denim.

Above: Japanese selvedge denim. This type of denim should be broken in and washed sparingly.

 

Shoe Economics

Picture of fancy shoes - How Much Do these Shoes Really Cost?

How Much Do these Shoes Really Cost?

There is a common misconception that only women spend money on shoes. Nothing could be
further from the truth. High-quality men’s shoes are every bit as expensive as women’s shoes. An
older female friend of mine once remarked to me: “Poor men spend a lot of money on their clothes
and wear cheap shoes. Wealthy men wear casual clothes and expensive shoes.”

Men who are just beginning to buy nicer clothing rush to the $40 discount rack and start trying things on. This focus on cheap is a mistake. Not only does it mark them as “cheap” it doesn’t even save money, at least it doesn’t save money over ten years or so.

So How Much Should Men’s Shoes Cost?

In the excellent GENTLEMAN, A Timeless Guide to Fashion author Bernhard Roetzel suggests a minimum price of around $240. He then remarks that customers who have difficulty with the high price can carefully shop the end-of-season sales and expect to find discounts as much as 50% off of the list price. Bernhard Roetzel is based in Berlin and writes mostly about London and New York. While his assessment is quite accurate, I think it needs some interpretation for those of us who live in other parts of the United States. I would re-interpret his assessment as follows: You can buy high-quality shoes in full-service, high-end men’s shops for prices starting at $240 and going up. Otherwise, you can carefully shop outlet malls and discount shoe stores and find a few high-quality shoes for prices starting around $120 and up.

The Price is Too High

Chart showing that high-quality shoes are cheaper over the long haul

Shoe Economics

If you select styles carefully to avoid faddish designs that go out of fashion and learn how to care for and maintain your shoes, high-quality shoes are not more expensive than low-quality shoes in the long run.

  • High-Quality Shoes – have uppers made of high-grade leather. If you treat that leather properly, it will last for ten years or more. In fact, it will get better and better. The soles of these shoes are also made of leather. Shoes made with leather soles can be ground down by a skilled cobbler and reconstructed with new soles over and over again. Properly cared for, such a pair of high-quality shoes will easily last a decade or more, especially if you alternate wearing a few different pairs and use shoe trees in between wearings.
  • Lower Quality Shoes – have uppers made of cheap leather. Often this leather is lacquered or otherwise treated to cover up its inferior quality. This sort of leather will crack or wear out fairly quickly. The soles of lower-quality shoes are usually made of rubber and fused to the upper. These kinds of soles are difficult to replace or fix. As a result, lower-quality shoes tend to end up in the garbage can after a few years of wearing.

Get to Know Your Local Shoe Repair Shop

Once you own a pair of high-quality men’s shoes, the first thing you will want to do is get acquainted with your local shoe repair shop. Ask around, get recommendations. As you
develop a taste for better men’s shoes, you will be visiting this store a lot.

Picture of Seth at Austin Shoe Hospital

Seth at Austin Shoe Hospital

Seth at Austin Shoe Hospital has been repairing my shoes for years. He got into the business through family connections and has been there for eight years. He enjoys helping customers get more value and useful life from their fine shoes. Knowing a competent shoe repair expert is an important part of getting your money’s worth from high-quality men’s shoes.

The first thing you will want to do is have the shoe repair store put a rubber appliqué on the
leather soles of your new shoes. Note: have the appliqué put on before you start wearing the shoes.

Picture of high quality shoes with Appliqué

Appliqué Makes Leather Soles Practical

Some fashion purists will moan in horror at the idea of putting a rubber appliqué on the bottom of a leather-soled shoe. I am not sure which planet those purists live
on. On their planet, the entire surface must consist of perfectly dry velvet carpets. In my experience, if you walk around a rainy place (like Tokyo) in a pair of unprotected leather-soled shoes, you will have holes in your soles within a day or two. The problem is that the
water softens up the leather. Once the leather has been softened, it completely loses its ability to stand up to the grinding of contact with concrete or asphalt. A good appliqué, on the other hand, will last for a year or two. They are surprisingly durable, despite being only a millimeter or so thick.

Further Information

This post is excerpted from our book Systematic Martini Lifestyle, which is now available from the Asatte Press Store and contains a longer discussion on the ins and outs of high-quality men’s shoes.

Handmade Boutique Cordials

Handmade Boutique Cordials

Handmade Boutique Cordials

Here in Austin it’s a beautiful, cool, sunny day! (After several days of badly needed rain) Enjoy a great weekend with some handmade cordial liquors, outdoors, perhaps with a small picnic.

Tomoko made the cordials shown at the left as part of the preparation of the overview section on cordials in our book Systematic Martini Lifestyle.