Two weeks ago on the Bit by a Fox Podcast we did a deep dive into Japanese rice wine, Sake and this week’s show is a great follow up to that episode – we dive into Japanese spirit, Shochu.
Like Sake, Shochu is native to Japan, has a long and storied history over centuries, and uses koji, the same fermentation starter or mold that is used to make miso or soy sauce. But unlike sake, Shochu is a distilled spirit, is made from everything from sweet potatoes to barley to black sugarcane and, it outsells sake by 50%. It is also the national spirit of Japan but is still fairly unknown in the states.
Paul Nakayama wants to change all that. He and his wife recently started the small brand Nankai Shochu, inspired by a fateful night on their honeymoon in Japan a few years prior. I interviewed Paul at David Chang’s first west coast restaurant – at downtown LA’s majordomo – which turned out to be an important place when Nankai Shochu first launched.
This week’s cocktail recipe is the Yuzu Pop aka Nankai Mule.
Yuzu Pop 2 oz Nankai Shochu 4 oz Ginger Beer Splash Yuzu Juice
In a rocks filled highball glass, add all ingredients and stir.
This week’s guest on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, is Tim Sullivan, an unlikely expert and educator of the Japanese rice wine, sake. After devoting the last decade to this versatile beverage and learning the hands on craft of sake brewing in Japan, Tim is now one of the top sake experts in the US, a national sake educator, and a Global Brand Ambassador of Hakkaisan Sake Brewery based in Niigata, Japan.
In this episode, Tim breaks down the fundamentals of Sake, explains why sake rice is so special, what makes it the most versatile food pairing beverage in the world, and how the process behind making it is most similar to brewing beer.
Over the course of the interview at Downtown LA’s Exchange Restaurant in the Freehand Hotel, I tried two exciting bottles from Hakkaisan Brewery that everyone should know about – Hakkaisan Clear Sparkling “AWA” – made using a secondary in-bottle fermentation…
…and a sake that has been aged for three years buried deep in the snow. The Junmai Ginjo Genshu Sake is matured and chilled by tons of actual snow stored in an insulated room, called a “Yukimuro”.
We may have had a bit of an unusually late start here in Los Angeles, but there’s no mistaking it now – we are in the serious throes of Summer. You know what that means…it’s officially MARGARITA SEASON.
I mean, it’s always margarita season in America where this universally beloved drink remains the most popular cocktail for like 20 years in a row. There’s actually been studies done that reveal people will rationalize spending more money on a margarita than other drinks. She’s popular AND worth it!
How do you make this beauty queen of cocktails even better?! By deepening the flavor profile and increasing the antioxidant intake by like 1000 percent with the addition of Argentine Yerba Mate tea. This margarita got an Argentinian upgrade and her new name is Mate-rita!
As a resident recipe creator for Argentine Yerba Mate, y’all know by now my obsession with using Argentine Yerba Mate as a cocktail ingredient. I especially love it with tequila and it seems to work really well in sour drinks. The tea-like flavors really benefit from the citrus and agave. And that’s before mentioning any of the many health benefits – Argentine Yerba Mate has more antioxidants than green tea, it’s packed with vitamins, reduces inflammation, and even helps to protect your heart. Oh! And it has a slight caffeine boost that gives this Mate-rita that extra energizing zing!
Mate-rita – 8 servings 2 cups Blanco Tequila 1/2 cup Orange Liqueur 1 cup lime juice 1 cup pre-sweetened Argentine Yerba Matetea*
Add all ingredients to a pitcher and fill with ice. Serve in margarita glasses rimmed with salt. Garnish with a thin lime wheel.
* Steep one cup of Argentine Yerba Mate and strain. Add preferred sweetener ( I like agave nectar with this drink) to steeped Yerba Mate liquid, and set aside to cool.
You can find Argentine Yerba Mate brands in specialty tea stores and in select Whole Foods Markets across the U.S. You can also purchase on Amazon.com.
We had the opportunity to dine in the middle of vineyards, hang with winemakers and taste some of the best wines being made in this country.
It felt incredibly special and it totally was, but these magical experiences are fairly accessible to just about anyone interested in learning more about the region…
No one knows this better than long-time Sonoma resident, Beth Costa, Executive Director and host of Wine Road – a website and award-winning podcast devoted to the all things Northern Sonoma wine country.
We spoke about what makes this region so unique, and what Beth’s perfect Sonoma day looks like.
English sparkling wine is suddenly all the rage with wine experts and enthusiasts alike. But it’s been bubbling up for the last 30-40 years, spearheaded by the leading English sparkler (and apparently the royal family’s fave), Chapel Down.
I recently sat down with head wine maker Josh Donaghay-Spire while he was in town, and we chatted about the exciting category of English sparkling wine.
This week’s cocktail recipe is an English winemaker’s twist on the classic French 75…
English 75 1.5 oz of London Dry Gin .5 oz lemon juice .5 oz simple syrup Chapel Down Brut
Shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup over ice. Strain into a chilled flute or coupe glass, and top with Chapel Down Brut.
A few summers back – an especially scorching one from what I remember – a pink frothy frozen libation swept the country and, seemingly overnight, every restaurant and bar had their own version of blush colored concoctions to please the masses.
With the rising temps, the feverish interest in all things rosé, and the perfect portmanteau of frozen + rosé, the stars aligned and Froséwas born.
Three years later, the trend seems to have slightlychilled (sorry!). The interest has dipped partly because people were finding out that many of these frozen versions of wine cocktails contained far more sugar than expected. As many of us know, massive amounts of sugar combined with wine and hard alcohol results in a superslushiesized hangover the next day. Talk about brain freeze!
The beautiful thing about this adultslurpee, however, is it doesn’t even need all that sugar. I mean, it has blended fresh fruit and juice in it, so you can practically treat it like a smoothie…with wine! I really took that idea to heart and even added a powerful boost of Argentine Yerba Matetea for my version of Yerba MateFrosé. Welcome to your summer future, guys.
For this recipe, I created a simple yerba mate tea syrup for that bit of sweetness and earthy depth of flavor.
We’re on the other side of Memorial Day weekend, June 8 is National Rosé Day, and there is no better time than the present to ready those blenders, chill TF out of your favorite dry rosé, and commit this recipe to memory for all of your al fresco fetes!
Yerba MateFrosé 1 Bottle Full-bodied Dry Rosé Wine 1/4 cup Argentine Yerba Mate Simple Syrup* 2 cups Frozen Strawberries 2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice 1 cup Ice Pour bottle of Rosé Wine into ice cube trays and freeze 6-12 hours. Once frozen, combine rosé cubes in a blender with the simple syrup, strawberries, lemon juice, and about a cup of ice. Blend until it is a smooth,slushielike consistency. Serve with fresh, edible flowers.
* Steep one cup of Argentine Yerba Mate and strain. Add steeped Yerba Mate liquid to a small saucepan with one cup sugar. At medium-high heat, whisk until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 months. (good for about two batches of Yerba MateFrosé)
You can find Argentine Yerba Mate brands in specialty tea stores and in select Whole Foods Markets across the U.S. You can also purchase Argentine Yerba Mate on Amazon.com.
The Bit by a Fox Podcast is now on its fourth episode in the Bartender Interview Series – The Master Blend. In collaboration with BERTOUX Brandy, the Bit by a Fox Podcast is hosting a series of interviews with some of America’s most acclaimed and innovative bartenders.
This week’s interview is with Christine Wiseman, Bar Director of LA’s most fabulous rooftop cocktail bar, The Broken Shaker at the Freehand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. We discussed her 20 year journey through the industry, from managing the busiest Outback Steakhouse in the country to creating scratch and sniff cocktail menus, and spearheading the LA cocktail scene with a heavy dose of her signature sparkle along the way.
Hobbiest mixologist, viral video personality, and cocktail book author of Suck It Up: Extraordinary Cocktails for Everyday People, Dan Magro has a real-talk and hilarious approach to mixing drinks. We gabbed and laughed about the proliferation of multi-hyphenates in LA, his deep love of brunch…as a LIFESTYLE, and his ultimate, if unexpected, drinking buddy to get bit by a fox with!
This week’s cocktail recipe is a brunch favorite from Dan’s book, Suck it Up, Lavender Mimosas.
Lavender Mimosa – served in a champagne flute Brut Champagne or Sparkling Wine Lavender Honey Infusion* a lemon, quartered Garnish: fresh lavender
Rub the lemon slice around the rim of the flute, squeeze the juice into the glass, and the drop the wedge in. Fill the glass with 3/4 of bubbly, top off the remainder of the glass with the lavender honey syrup. Garnish with lavender.
*Lavender Honey Infusion Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 1/3 cup of honey and stir for 3 minutes, then reduce heat to medium. Add 1/4 cup of dried lavender, and stir for 1 minute making sure all lavender is immersed in water. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit overnight. Strain the cooled liquid, discarding the solids. Store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
The Bit by a Fox Podcast is now on the third episode in the Bartender Interview Series – The Master Blend. In collaboration with BERTOUX Brandy, the Bit by a Fox Podcast is hosting a series of interviews with some of America’s most acclaimed and innovative bartenders.
This week’s interview is with Devon Tarby who discusses her bartending beginnings at famed cocktail bar The Varnish where she met her future partners in the highly successful hospitality firm, Proprietors LLC. We talk about her music background and how she incorporate that into her cocktail creations, how she stays sane with such a busy scheduled, and what it’s like to be nominated for a James Beard Award.
This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast marks our first foray into the world of Cachaça, the Brazilian spirit made from sugarcane, that many may only be familiar with because of the Caipirinha – Brazil’s national cocktail.
Avuá Cachaça, which officially launched in the United States in 2013, is a Cachaça brand that is a very good place to start. Peter Nevenglosky, co-founder of Avuá Cachaça was in town briefly for a tiki competition and took the time to sit down with me to discuss the category of Cachaça and it’s rich history, how he got involved in this Brazilian spirit, and how a little known cocktail legend named Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey was the first to give this little brand a leg up.
This week’s cocktail recipe is the Pan Am cocktail created by Cervantes Ramirez from Milk & Honey in New York City.
Pan Am by Cervantes Ramirez 1oz Avuá Amburana 1 oz Dry Vermouth 1 oz Dry Curaçao orange twist
Add ingredients and ice to a mixing glass, stir until well chilled, strain into a rocks glass over ice. Swipe rim of glass with orange peel, squeeze, and drop into the glass.