The Last Drop of Summer

last drop of summer ingredientsYou guys! Summer is fast coming to a close. Whaaaaa happened?! I barely broke out my bathing suit, my feet hardly touched anything that resembles sand, and I didn’t eat nearly enough grilled meats al fresco. Summer, I hardly knew ye.  Every year, it’s always at this exact time, at the onset of Labor Day weekend, I try to cram as much summer-time goodness into those last remaining days.

It’s always a mixed bag at this time of year, here in the northeast. It’s either disgustingly humid or a rainy sog-fest. But we’ve been so lucky for most of August. It’s been pretty dreamy.

Last Drop of Summer James and KristineTake the other night, for instance, at a heavenly dinner under the Williamsburg Bridge at the North Brooklyn Farm – an urban farm that has transformed a vacant lot into a thriving, green space that grows actual food, that they then sell at a pick your own farm stand and also serve for a three course farm to table sunset dinner. I’ve been to a few of these dinners since they started last year and they are always pretty magical. Especially when the weather is so divine. And we couldn’t have asked for better weather. To celebrate the last few never-ending, sun-soaked days of the year, I thought we all deserved a cocktail to salute the occasion.

Last Drop of Summer AboveI knew that I wanted to use peaches and basil and, somehow incorporate the artichoke based Italian bitter liqueur, Cynar. An agave-sweetened peach tea made an excellent base for this. I also wanted a super easy drink to pre-batch for a large group…

Last Drop of Summer CannisterThe Last Drop of Summer
8 cups cooled peach or apricot tea sweetened with 4 ounce agave
1 bottle Tequila Partida Blanco
1 bottle St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
2 cups Cynar
1 cup lemon juice
2 liters club soda
3 peaches, diced
1 bunch of fresh basil

Pour the sweetened tea, tequila, liqueur and lemon juice into a large canister. Add the chopped peaches and half the basil leaves. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Ladle over ice-filled glasses, top with club soda and garnish with basil.

Last Drop of SummerLast Drop of Summer JamesLast Drop of Summer Nickie

Our hosts at the North Brooklyn Farm, Henry and Emma.

Our hosts at the North Brooklyn Farm, Henry and Emma.

So, drink in these last few days of summer. And drink this actual cocktail, The Last Drop of Summer! May all of your days and nights be filled with amazing food, great friends and spiked aromatic peach tea.

Last Drop of Summer Dinner

photos by Morgan Visconti and Prairie Rose

Summer of the Aperol Spritz

Have you heard? It’s the Summer of the Spritz!

spritz in naples pr2

In Venice, the birthplace of the Aperol Spritz, they garnish with an orange slice and an olive!

Ever since I discovered the Aperol Spritz a few summers back, it has been a summer staple for me. Once Memorial Day rolls around, and the temps start creeping into steamy garbage territory in New York, my got-to is usually a Spritz. “If you Schvitz, Grab a Spritz!” That’s your catchy, new tagline, Aperol. You can thank me later. It’s so freaking light and refreshing and isn’t too boozy…soooo, you can have a couple of these delicious suckers and still keep the foxes at bay.

Cheers, Capri!

Cheers, Capri!

But the Aperol Spritz has reached a new fever pitch in my life this summer. Is it in the zeitgeist? Is it everywhere you look, too?

spritz in venice

Aperol Spritz! Venice waterfront! Perfecto!

Part of my obsession with the Aperol Spritz may be because I went to Italy earlier this summer and experienced this aperitivo the way it’s supposed to be experienced – as a nightly, 2-3 hour pre-dinner celebration of LIFE! Along the waterfronts, in the streets, outside cafés…

Aperitivo Hour Naples

During Aperitivo Hour in Italy, they often have specials with a little bite to eat as well!

…and, sometimes, sitting atop a parked Vespa…(OMG! So Italian! I die!)

Aperitivo Hour Cafe

Piazza Bellini in Naples

Maybe I’m just noticing the Aperol Spritz more because people in the states are finally realizing how delightful a beverage it is! Campari America rolled out a huge ad campaign, primarily through social media, for the summer called Aperol Brunch Society. For this particular campaign, targeting the states, Aperol declared its signature cocktail, the Aperol Spritz, the official drink of brunch. And it looks to be catching on…in the target cities, that is. Most likely cities where people really love to brunch – New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. The program officially kicked off at the end of May and a big part of their campaign was their Instagram search for four “Chief Brunch Officers” in each city. Applicants sent in 15 second videos claiming to be the biggest Aperol Spritz and brunch enthusiasts. The most popular ones were picked to brunch all summer long, twice every weekend with their friends, all on Aperol’s dime. Sounds like a good gig, eh? But I still prefer to have mine at that magic hour…later afternoon, early evening, Aperitivo Time!

Aperitivo Hour pr

In Naples’ Piazza Bellina

I’m not going to lie, I’ve turned a LOT of gatherings this summer into a chance to introduce my love of the Aperol Spritz to people who might not otherwise know about it. And, since it’s a three ingredient cocktail, it’s such an easy one for people to make themselves. And that means I’m not the only one making the drinks!

aperol spritz table

Aperol Spritz
build in an ice-filled glass
2 oz Aperol
3-4 oz dry Prosecco
1 oz Club Soda
Garnish with an orange wheel

Cin Cin!

spritz bk

Charles Joly, The World’s Best Bartender

Charles Joly2

Photo Courtesy Diageo World Class

On August 1st, after an intense week of serious competition against 47 of the best mixologists from around the world, Charles Joly, from cocktail lounge, The Aviary in Chicago, was crowned the DIAGEO RESERVE WORLD CLASS™ Bartender of the Year 2014.

charles-joly-4

photo courtesy Diageo World Class

“This journey didn’t start today at the ceremony, this week at the finals, or even last year when I entered the heats – it started many years ago when I first started working in a local bar. The flavours, the smells, the sounds, the techniques, the history, the theatre – I realized I did not want to create just another drink. I make drinks with my heart and it makes me happy to see customers happy. The possibilities open to a bartender are limitless, not just in terms of your career but your creations – the only limit is your imagination.”
Charles Joly

charles-joly-2

photo courtesy Diageo World Class

Joly is the first bartender from the United States to win this impressive title in the six years that Diageo Reserve has produced the global competition. And it’s a pretty huge achievement!

I recently got the opportunity to interview this acclaimed mixologist, master of cocktails, global booze ambassador, and mixer and shaker of magical potions that has won the world over. But, what was I going to ask the BEST BARTENDER IN THE WORLD?? With all of this massive attention on him recently, what could I possibly ask him that he wasn’t already sick of answering? Luckily, I didn’t have to! I made the brilliant decision to rely on you, dear Foxy Friends, to come up with those hard-hitting boozy questions! Thankfully, y’all came through! Then I turned those questions into a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire. Who doesn’t a like fill-in-the-blank questionnaire?? OK, I’m sure, some of these questions he’s been answering, ad nauseam, but I thought some of these things would still be fun to share. See his answers below in bold. Thanks to those of you who submitted questions on the Bit by a Fox Facebook and Instagram pages!
______________________________________________________________________

The very first cocktail I ever made was probably not very good, but I’m sure I made it with a smile. My go-to drink of choice when NOT tending is a cold beer and a bourbon with a bit of ice, but when I’m indulging, I’ll have an old rum served in a beautiful glass. I wish people didn’t order so many ___________ and that more people appreciated ___________ more (Sorry- order what ever you’d like. It’s my job to serve the guest). When I discovered Bridget Albert, it changed the  way I approached cocktails. If I could work with one bottle of liquor for the rest of my life it would be pretty boring. When creating drinks, I draw most of my inspiration from the season and the guest. One of the biggest mistakes a mixologist can make is too much mustache wax.… My top tip for enthusiasts and home bartenders who may not have access to fancy tools and complicated ingredients would be that you don’t need them anyway. The beauty of cocktails is that simple is often best and the tools haven’t changed much. The most surprising thing that I learned about myself when I was competing was I can function on incredibly little sleep. I found that experience and calm was one of my biggest assets during the competition and that organization was very valuable in helping me to win. When I won DIAGEO RESERVE WORLD CLASS BARTENDER OF THE YEAR , I celebrated by having a 1863 rye whiskey Sazerac made tableside by Salvatore Calabrese.

charles-joly-1

photo courtesy Diageo World Class

While the World Class finals consisted of a series of challenges, there WAS a winning cocktail: Above the Clouds. You can find this innovative recipe below!

Charles Joly3

photo courtesy Diageo World Class

Above the Clouds
created by Charles Joly

1.5 oz Ron Zacapa Centenario
.5 oz Benedictine
1.5 oz Verjus rouge
1.5 oz Gingerbread Dream Rooibos syrup
Aromatic vapor as a garnish

Combine all ingredients in a beaker over a heat source.
Pour the liquid into a glass globe and drop in a small amount of dry ice to chill.

 

The Pear & Sage Gin & Tonic

psgt all4About a month ago I was invited to a tasting for Peach Street Distillers. While they hold the title of oldest locally owned distillery in Colorado, and the American Distilling Institute awarded them Distillery of the Year in 2012, they have only just recently crept on my radar. Based in tiny Palisade, Colorado, a sunny valley town with a population of just over 2,000 people, the area is known for its peach orchards and wine vineyards. So, it’s no surprise that most of the ingredients they use to make their spirits are grown within a 5-mile radius of the distillery. And they are able to produce quite a variety of things.

psgt all aboveAt the event, we were able to sample a wide range of their craft spirits, from pear brandy to artisan vodka, small batch gin and Colorado bourbon. But first we were treated to some delicious cocktails that showcased this prolific distillery’s spirits. There was a Milk Punch with clarified raw milk and their Colorado Straight Bourbon, a Fish House Punch with their Peach Brandy, dark rum, Cognac and green tea, and my favorite of the night: Peach Street Close Haul. That cocktail had the Jackelope and Jenny Pear Gin, cucumber, chamomile tea, lemon and meyer lemon bitters. That Pear Gin! Holy smokes was that tasty.

psgt bottles allMoose Koons, co-owner, sales ambassador, number one cheer leader for Peach Street, and our host for the evening, told us that Jackelope and Jenny Pear Gin came about when they experimented a few years back by mixing their Pear Eau De Vie with their Jackelope Gin and, voila! They had discovered something wonderful. It really tastes like pears! Fresh, delicious pears. AND it tastes like gin! Because the flavor is so brilliant, you don’t want to mess with it too much. I thought this spirit would be perfect in an herbaceous gin and tonic. Guess what? I was right!

curtain up2But what tonic to use? I’d been hearing about the Strong Tonic folks in Oklahoma City for a while now but only just recently got the chance to try their small batch tonic syrups. And I was really impressed. They use pure cane sugar and agave nectar, and have flavors of bright citrus and spices but they taste like how you expect tonic to taste, only better. And guess what ingredient is also in their Original Tonic flavor? Pear juice from concentrate! A perfect partner in this herbaceous pear g&t I was fantasizing about!

psgt glass pear closeWe are just now approaching pear season, so you should be able to get some crisp, delicious ones for the garnish here. The sage is also just a garnish, but when bunched up at the top of the glass, it provides the most beautiful aroma with each sip.

Pear & Sage Gin & Tonic
2 oz of Jackelope & Jenny Pear Gin
1 oz Original Strong Tonic
3 oz Club Soda
1 bunch fresh sage
3 thin slices pear

Add gin, tonic and soda in a mixing glass with ice. Stir well, Strain into a high ball glass filled with ice. Garnish with pear slices and sage.

The Brighton Beachcomber featured on Behind the Bar | Design*Sponge

BrightonBeachcomber0

photo by Kristina Gill

I’m beyond, BEYOND thrilled to have one of my all time favorite summer cocktails starring in this month’s Behind the Bar column on Design*SpongeThe Brighton Beachcomber! You MUST check out the lovely pics by Kristina Gill and you can also read what I have to say about it. Then, if you’re inspired, pick up some tequila, ginger liqueur, coconut water, limes and cukes to make your own perfect summer refresher for this weekend.

Now THAT’S a Happy Friday, foxy friends!

Summer Spice Sangria

Did someone say Wine Wednesday? Well, why have plain, old wine when you can have a super delicious, spiced up Sangria?!

Summer Spice Sangria Above TitleI know, I know, everyone has a headache-y tale about a time you may have imbibed a smidge too much of the stuff. Like that time you went to your friend’s parent’s going away party in Queens, and you started early in the night on Aunt Sally’s famous sangria with the secret recipe. And it was SO good. Too good. One minute you were finishing off another cup and chewing on some boozy orange rinds, contemplating joining in on the juicy family gossip…and the next, you’re waking up in your friend’s childhood bed at 7 in the morning. Fully clothed. Um. What?! True story. I got so sleeeepy! I guess. :/

Summer Spice Sangria GlassWhat was IN that sangria?! We’ll never know. Aunt Sally is not going public with the recipe and, truth be told, I don’t think I’ll ever need to recreate that scenario. It’s a wonder I can even look into the eyes of anyone who witnessed my sangria downfall that night, not to mention my friend’s parents! I’ve been reassured only by the fact that they are Spanish. And, I guess it was a complement? Because I liked it so much! Moral of the story – I pretty much rule as a house guest.

Summer Spice Sangria Candied Ginger

I’ve made a lot of different variations on sangria over the years, and the great thing about this drink is that you have so many options! Red, white, sparkling, stone fruit, citrus, berries, juice, cognac, rum, triple sec…? Whatever you have around?! Some people throw frozen juice in with boxed wine and call it day. And, I do not judge your sizzurp of choice, people. You know what’s tasty to you! But this particular recipe came out of the Backyard Summer Spirits event last month. I wanted to create a recipe that took advantage of the amazing locally made (New York) spirits featured at the event, and I also wanted to avoid adding sugar, if I could. Because I used two different kinds of liqueurs, which lend a good amount of sweetness on their own, I was able to.

Summer Spice Sangria Fresh GingerSorel Liqueur has heady notes of hibiscus, clove and bright ginger. Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur is straight up boozy ginger nectar. Combined, these guys spice this baby up. Another summery addition is Owney’s Rum. For the warmer seasons, using a white rum with some tropical flavors in your sangria will give it a little boost of sunshine. A dry, light to medium bodied red works great in this. I used a simple Pinot Noir and it was super!

Summer Spice Sangria – makes 10 servings
2 bottles of dry light to medium red wine
1/2 cup Owney’s Rum
1/2 cup Sorel Liqueur
1/2 cup Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
1 cup orange juice
1-2 oranges cut into round slices
1-2 apples diced small
1/4 cup diced fresh ginger (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. When serving over ice, top with bubbly water and candied ginger.

 

Boozy Ice Cream Social

Take the idea of an old fashioned ice cream social, and give it a grown up twist!

boozy ice cream socialNow that summer has comfortably settled in, it actually seems hard to remember a time when flip flops weren’t your shoe of choice, your Instagram feed wasn’t flooded with obnoxious vacation pics, and ice cream wasn’t a daily staple in your diet. I know I’m not the only one! Ice cream all day, err day!

Boozy ice cream social above

And what makes ice cream even better?? BOOZE! Duh!

boozy ice cream social girls laughing

Look at how much fun booze is in ice cream!!!

If you’re looking for a sweet, summer party idea that is both whimsical AND a little naughty, look no further than the Boozy Ice Cream Social.

Take ice cream to the next level with these buzzed up treats: The Drunken Affogato, Tipsy Creamsicle and Boozy Root Beer Float. All you need is a little vanilla bean ice cream and a dream. And booze. You’ll need some booze for this.

Boozy ice cream social2

You can’t have a grown up ice cream party without the grand daddy of them all, a spiked root beer float! And this one is a doozy. Not only does it have bourbon in it, because…BOURBON. Root beer. Ice cream. Yes. But the real home run ingredient here is Art in the Age’s Root Liqueur. Spicy and slightly sweet, this spirit is based on an alcoholic Root Tea from the 1700s made with sassafras, sarsaparilla and birch bark. Remind you of anything?? Of course, it also had its origins in the root beer we know today. This extra spicy kick takes your boozy float up SO many notches.

Boozy Root Beer FloatHave you ever had an affogato – deep dark espresso poured over vanilla gelato? And when you had it, were you like, ‘ZOMG, what? This is the most splendid combination of creamy, cold and sweet, zingy, warm and nutty. Is this what they serve in heaven? Hashtag blessed!’ Well, guess what makes an affogato (‘drowned’ in Italian, by the way) even better? You got it! Booze! Soooo many #blessed.

Drunken Affogato Recipe

The Tipsy Creamsicle is one of my personal favorites out of this bunch. Aranciata is more of a sparkling fruit drink versus a super sweet soda. And that’s perfect since Grand Marnier can add a lot of sweetness, as well as an even more concentrated orange flavor. And booze. Let’s not forget that! This orange-flavored cognac liqueur makes this an extra tipsy ice cream float!

TCMake all three of these spiked parlor treats for your next Boozy Ice Cream Social and you’ll have something for everyone!

Boozy ice cream social girls side pose

These ladies know what’s up!

boozy ice cream social pr2

You know you want one!

This is what happens when a Creamsicle gets Tipsy.

This is what happens when a Creamsicle gets Tipsy.

The Green Mountain Cooler with Barr Hill Gin

I was recently asked to create a signature cocktail for a very special birthday celebration. Since it was an important milestone for John, they wanted to make it personal.

John’s wife, Jenn (also, my former boss and all around bad ass), contacted me about a month before the party. She mentioned that their caterer, Nisa Lee, had already picked out a catchy name – The Green Mountain Cooler, in honor of John’s love of Vermont – and she had already purchased the green American Heritage Ball Mason Jars  (featured on the blog!). But they still needed a fun, summer cocktail to fill them with! I was more than happy to help.

Because of their shared love of Vermont, and John’s recent penchant for Gin & Tonics once summer had hit, I thought the perfect spirit for the occasion would be Vermont-made Barr Hill Gin from Caledonia Spirits, profiled here back in January.
Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin

Coincidentally, they had just tried Barr Hill Gin the weekend before I suggested this, when a friend happened to bring a bottle over to their place. And they became instant fans! We decided to go for a fancified version of a G&T…

Below is the recipe I created for this signature cocktail based on a few other flavor favorites for the summer – cucumbers, lime and ginger!


The Green Mountain Cooler Cocktail

Instead of regular tonic, I wanted to use one of my all time favorite mixers with ginFever Tree’s Bitter Lemon Soda. Because it is flavored with quinine, it has that familiar tonic bite. But this soda is all natural, not too sweet, is super effervescent and a little goes a long way. The Bitter Lemon Soda is also made with Sicilian lemons, so it’s just a little sexier than your average cocktail mixer. Add in some fresh made ginger syrup, muddled cucumbers and lime, and you have the perfect summer sipper. And a gorgeous accessory for your next rooftop summer party! 

Thanks John and Jenn for letting me be a part of this special day!

La Maison Cointreau

Many apologies for this belated post. I attended this lovely event right before my vacation and I’ve been dying to share it ever since. But, like a good vacationer (and bad blogger!) I’ve been pretty unplugged for the last few weeks. Here it is, finally!
_____________________________________________________

On June 17th, beloved French spirit, Cointreau transformed two floors of Soho’s Broome Hotel into La Maison Cointreau, a whimsical, orange-filled Parisian fantasy!

Cointreau Event

This immersive, one night only event was to celebrate the brand’s partnership with Grey Area founder Kyle Dewoody, interior designer/chef Athena Calderone and artist Kate Schelter, our hosts for the evening.

Cointreau Kyle Dewoody, Athena Calderone, Kate Schelter

PHOTOGRAPH BY BFA/SAMANTHA DEITCH

This painfully cute orange Fiat, parked outside the hotel, set the tone for a fanciful eve…

cointreaucar

Oh, Bonjour!
Cointreau Door Man
And this belle homme, who greeted us upon our arrival, didn’t hurt the eyes either. Comment allez-VOUS!

A three story orange tree was constructed in the middle of the hotel’s courtyard.

Cointreau Orange Tree

Cointreau Orange Tree2

Cointreau Orange Tree Bar

Cointreau Orange Tree Bar2And surrounding this towering homage to citrus, was a customized bar, filled with handsome French-y bartenders serving Cointreau cocktails all night long. Can I move in, please?

There was a pop up café serving macarons, delicate tea sandwiches and more Cointreau cocktails.

Cointreau Macarons

Cointreau Espresso Bar

Cointreau Cafe

In another one of the rooms downstairs, Kyle Ford, Rémy Cointreau’s Cocktail and Spirits Expert and co-founder of Ford Mixology Lab, was instructing guests on how to make Cointreau Rickeys. (I put mint and strawberries in mine. Yum!)

Cointreau Bar with Kyle Ford2The interactive event didn’t stop there. Upstairs, one room was transformed into a custom library where guests were invited to learn about Cointreau’s impressive history as told through vintage cocktail books… 

Cointreau Library2

Cointreau Library3While another room was transformed into an art and food station, where guests were encouraged to create watercolor paintings, pin sepia-toned pictures to mood boards and indulge in crostini recipe tutorials…Did I mention that I wanted to move in?

Cointreau Watercolor Station2

Seriously, what do I need to do so my life looks more like this?? I clearly need to drink more Cointreau! Mission accomplished, Rémy Cointreau! Count this lady a super fan!

Truth be told, I’ve been a lover of Cointreau for most of my adult life. What’s not to love? This 160 year old French spirit is one of the original triple secs, a liqueur made from dried bitter and sweet orange peels from all over the world. And, while a beautiful addition in cocktails, can stand on its own, neat or on the rocks. And at 80 proof, this liqueur can also be used as a base spirit in many classic cocktails, as in their signature cocktail, the Cointreau Rickey. Also to be noted, their early advertising utilized some of the most beautiful and avant garde artwork in the spirits industry at the time. And in terms of marketing themselves now, they clearly have not lost their touch! La Maison Cointreau was an orange-tinged dream…

Read about the history of Cointreau here. And pick up one of their beautiful bottles, lime & soda to make up some of your very own Cointreau Rickeys! Maybe you’ll be inspired to watercolor as well…

PHOTOGRAPHY BY NILAYA SABNIS

1 2 3 11