Cool Off on The First Day of Summer with Coconut Mojito Popsicles!

Today is officially summer and we are FEELING it in Los Angeles! It’s not even noon and we are hovering around the triple digits on the east side of town. Yikes! You know what can cool you off realllll fast?! Popsicles! And you know what can make those popsicles even better? BOOZE!

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I was recently asked to create a fun, summery drink for popular food site The Kitchn’s Friday happy hour – #kitchnhappyhour. Since it’s been so hot here lately, all I’ve been thinking about is boozy icy treats. Luckily, they were into a popsicle version of a cocktail!

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There’s a reason mojitos are so popular in the summertime. Lime, mint, rum and sugar, when balanced, is a pretty perfect warm weather combination. And everyone familiar with this cocktail also knows how easily these go down…

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I love using coconut water as an ingredient in summer cocktails and wanted to experiment with it in these mojito popsicles. It adds just a subtle creaminess and coconut flavor, and its hydrating properties can’t hurt with this weather!

Coconut Mojito Popsicles

Coconut Mojito Popsicles
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 cup coconut water
6 sprigs of fresh mint
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup rum
1 lime sliced into thin lime wheels

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add mint and stir until boiling. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 10-15 minutes.

Using fine mesh, strain syrup mixture into a pitcher. Add lime juice, coconut water and rum to strained syrup and stir. Once mixture is completely chilled, pour into popsicle molds, placing lime wheels in each mold, and freeze.

It’s Negroni Week! Make a Negroni Snow Cone!

Negroni Week officially starts TODAY! Presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari, this seven-day celebration of all things bitter, ruby-red and delicious is also all for a great cause.

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Negroni Week launched in 2013 as a celebration of one of the world’s great cocktails and an effort to raise money for charitable causes around the world. From 2013 to 2014, Negroni Week grew from more than 100 participating venues to more than 1,200 participating venues around the world and more than $120,000 raised for charities.

In 2015, more than 3,500 venues around the world mixed their favorite Negroni variations and raised over $320,000 for charitable causes.

This year Negroni Week takes place from June 6-12 with over 6,000 participating bars, restaurants and retailers.

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The growth of Negroni Week has been accompanied by the rising popularity of this cocktail. Because of its bittersweet reputation, it IS an acquired taste. But once you come around, you’re hooked. This is now a favorite of so many. And, one of the reasons why, besides it being ridiculously delicious and complex, is that it is one of the simplest cocktail to make – equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. For the last couple of years, I’ve done my own twists on this very basic recipe. This year, since I’m California living and it seems as though summer is in full swing, I decided to make a snow cone version!

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Crushed ice, I’ve found, is unbelievably easy to create in a decent blender, and the snow cone “syrup” is literally the cocktail ingredients poured over it. If you don’t consume the infused ice immediately, it soon turns into a slushy, but then, hey, you have a negroni slushy! Not a bad deal on a hot summer’s day either!

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Negroni Snow Cone
1 ounce Gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Sweet Vermouth
Crushed Ice

Add the Gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth to a mixing glass and set aside. In a blender, add 4-6 ice cubes and enough water that the cubes float above the blades. Blend gradually to a high-speed until ice is well crushed. Drain off water and immediately scoop into a glass.  Strain the negroni over the crushed ice. Option: Twist a large orange peel over drink and add to glass for garnish.

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TRULY, a New Boozy Sparkling Water?!

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As Memorial Day weekend quickly approaches and summer starts to tease, I can’t help but get a little giddy about one of my most favorite times of year; That’s right, it’s Spritz Season! While I’m partial to a well made spritz any time of year, there’s nearly nothing as refreshing during the warmer months than this low alcohol, bittersweet sparkler. However, I maaaay have tried something recently that rivals my beloved spritz (just don’t tell my Italian side!) in the light, refreshing, low alcohol and sparkling department – TRULY, Spiked & Sparking, a sparkling water that just hit shelves less than two months ago, has just a hint of fruit (that tastes like real actual fruit!), and is then SPIKED for good measure! By adding a small amount of alcohol made from cane sugar (5% ABV), TRULY takes sparkling water and buzzes it up just enough…

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The past couple of years have introduced us to the hard seltzer segment – an entirely new alcohol niche we didn’t even know we needed! This trend is building on the major growth and popularity of carbonated bottled water in the U.S., which has apparently doubled since 2012, and the overall interest in lower calorie alternatives to wine, beer and cocktails. This is NOT just a flavored malt beverage ala the dreaded Zima (still sold in Japan!) from the 90s; In fact, TRULY is gluten free – for those that are avoiding the stuff. It may only be 100 calories and they avoid using artificial flavors and colors but, most importantly, the product actually tastes good.

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Of course, women are the target audience for this new segment, but I’m just relieved that the TRULY packaging is as clean and tasteful as the product. There isn’t a lady in a dress on the label and it’s not covered in pink rhinestones (no offense to pink rhinestones, I’m down with bling, just not when I’m being “marketed” to as a lady consumer.) They’ve rolled out with three flavors: Grapefruit & Pomelo, Colima Lime and Pomegranate. Each one has just a subtle hint of the flavors featured on their labels. My favorite was the Colima Lime, tasting like a burst of effervescence with a squeeze of fresh lime.

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I tested all three flavors out with friends a few weekends back, and I’m happy to report that the dudes were equally as into it as the ladies. It’s nice to lighten things up every now and then, and TRULY is a nice refreshing alternative to a beer or higher alcohol sparkling wine.

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So, as you all prepare for the long weekend and get ready to hunker down for the next couple of days, look out for this new spiked and sparkling sipper to add to your provisions. TRULY is available in about 20 major markets throughout the U.S. at the moment, but they’re already seeing growth. To find out where you can buy it, visit their site.

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TRULY Spiked & Sparkling products provided for this post. As usual, all opinions are my own.

Gulden Draak Ale


When I was first asked to try out the Belgian beer Gulden Draak in order to be featured on this here blog, I was a bit hesitant. Not because I don’t like rich, complex, high alcohol beers or I have some sort of thing against the Belgians…I just haven’t really featured much beer on Bit by a Fox. At least, not by itself. I’m a huge fan of using beer as a cocktail ingredient and even as a main player in a shandy-type cocktail. But I haven’t yet profiled a beer on its own. But after doing a bit of research on Gulden Draak, and then finally trying it (research with my mouth!), I was won over.

So, here it is. My first ever beer feature! Seems appropriate that it’s a great big, boozy one!

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Gulden Draak, Flemish for Golden Dragon, is named after the 700 year old golden dragon statue perched at the top of the Belfry of Ghent – a medieval tower that overlooks the Belgian city of Ghent.

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This dark brown triple ale – a Belgian Strong Ale, brewed since the 1700s, is in a stylish bottle reflecting its name and some of that rich history. Gulden Draak may look and sound a bit imposing, but the beer itself is pretty approachable, despite its full body and rather high alcohol content – 10.5%.

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Gulden Draak is actually considered a Barleywine, a style of strong ale named because its alcohol content is comparable to wine. But obviously, since it is made with malted barley instead of fruit it is still considered a beer. There is just something fun about referring to your pint of brew as Barleywine so you feel like an Olde English weirdo. “Look at me drinking a chalice of Barleywine!”

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A secondary fermentation where wine yeast is used may be what contributes most to Gulden Draak’s distinctive flavors – sweet malt, bitter chocolate, coffee and a touch of yeast. This is a bold, full-bodied beer that the brewer, Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.  suggests to be drunk as an aperitif or as dessert. I can definitely see this as more of an after dinner, wind down for the day beer. The high alcohol content and the rich, slightly sweet quality lends itself to a later night treat. Perhaps paired with a little dark chocolate…

For more information about Gulden Draak and where you can purchase it, you can head to their Facebook page, which will include location and availabilities with a zip code researcher. And if you DO get your paws on this yummy beer and LURVE it and then want to get all social on it, you can post a pic to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter tagging #ConquerTheDragon or #GuldenDraak and be entered into a drawing for Gulden Draak swag. Conquer the Dragon is pretty badass, you’ve got to admit. Let’s all do it!


Sponsored: This post was made possible by Gulden Draak and this project was fueled by Barleywine! As usual, all opinions are my own.

The Viking Daisy – A Preakness Cocktail for the Maker’s Mark #TrifectaChallenge

We are full-on into horse racing season, also known as Bourbon Season….or just Drinking More Bourbon Than Usual Season. And, of course the Mint Julep holds a special importance this time of year because of the Kentucky Derby. But, we’re just getting started!

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The Kentucky Derby may be the first but it is just one out of the three races known as the Triple Crown, which also includes Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, that determine the best of the best three-year-old Thoroughbred horses in the game. Every race deserves their own signature cocktail, right?! I personally think a signature cocktail should be created for nearly any occasion, so I might be biased. But did you know that the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, Preakness Stakes, also has an official drink? It’s the Black-Eyed Susan, a cocktail named after Maryland’s state flower and the official Preakness flowers that are used to make a blanket that drapes over the winning horse at the end of the race.

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Traditionally, the Black-Eyed Susan has orange and pineapple juice, and a combo of rum, vodka and orange liqueur. My good friends over at Maker’s Mark, however, have challenged me to create a riff off of this using their iconic bourbon. All for a chance to be crowned champion of the Preakness’ Black-Eyed Susan as part of their #TrifectaChallenge on Instagram. So, naturally I was like…where do I saddle up?!

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First, I decided it needed a new name. Fun fact: because Black-Eyed Susans are NOT in season during the time of Preakness, the blanket that they create for the winning horse is actually made out of over 80 bunches of Viking Daisies. The center of the daisies are then painted with black lacquer to recreate the appearance of a Black-Eyed Susan. Voila! Because of that little historic footnote, a Daisy cocktail emerged and the Viking Daisy was born!

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As I’ve noted before on this blog, a Daisy cocktail is more or less a sour, using nearly any base spirit, with a little soda water added. Often served in a julep cup with crushed ice, with orange liqueur and grenadine serving as common ingredients, I figured the Black-Eyed Susan seemed like it could easily be adapted to a Daisy. And a delicious one at that!

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The Viking Daisy
2 ounces Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1 ounce mandarin juice
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 tsp grenadine
1 ounce seltzer
Garnish: brandied cherry

Directions:
In a cocktail shaker add everything except the seltzer and shake over ice until well chilled. Add seltzer to tin and stir well. Strain into a cracked ice filled julep cup. Garnish with brandied cherry.


This post was made possible by Maker’s Mark. As always, opinions are all my own.

Kumquat Basil Caipirinhas & The Wooden Palate

Moving to a new city is hard. And making new friends can have its challenges. But one of the best parts of relocating to LA for me has been re-connecting with college friends, and former New York friends who made the move out west several years prior. And a huge perk has been getting to know their circle of friends. It’s certainly made my move to a completely foreign place feel more familiar and welcoming.

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One of these people that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know through a dear college friend, is Eileen O’Dea, co-founder of The Wooden Palate, a wood working studio producing some of the most beautiful and luxurious kitchen and home pieces, made to last a lifetime.

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When Eileen mentioned that they had been working on a new line of muddlers and that she wanted me to test out their prototypes, I was all about it!

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And what better cocktail than a caipirinha to test these babies out with?

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Cachaça, a distilled spirit made from raw sugarcane, sometimes referred to as Brazilian Rum, is the base spirit in a caipirinha. Lime and sugar make up the other ingredients in this incredibly simple and delicious cocktail, making it one of the easiest cocktails to throw together. I’m surprised the caipirinha isn’t more popular outside of Brazil (their national cocktail). But with the advent of more cachaça brands being readily available in the states, this drink is slowly catching on.

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Because it’s such a simple recipe, it is also one that can be built upon pretty easily. Adding different fruits and herbs takes this already tasty cocktail up a few notches. Eileen literally foraged from her yard these kumquats and fresh basil, which became the inspiration behind this springtime caipirinha. Have I mentioned how much I love California?!

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Kumquat Basil Caipirinha
2 oz Cachaça (Leblon is a solid choice)
1/2 lime (cut into wedges)
1 tsp raw sugar
2-3 basil leaves
1 kumquat (1/2 for garnish)

In a mixing glass or tin, muddle the lime, sugar, basil and 1/2 kumquat. Add ice, pour in cachaça and stir. Transfer to a chilled old-fashioned glass and garnish with 1/2 kumquat.

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With Mother’s Day around the corner, this springtime, garden party take on the caipirinha is sort of perfect for brunch or really any time chill sippin’ with your momz! And The Wooden Palate couldn’t be a better destination for beautiful gifts. Starting today(!) the beautiful muddlers are up on their site.  Follow them on social media to witness some truly remarkable wood porn, and to keep up to date on their stunning inventory.

Pitcher-Style Jalapeño Cucumber Margaritas with Sauza Tequila – #MyKindofCinco

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Cinco de Mayo is the best. I mean it’s basically a holiday that has been hijacked by margaritas and guacamole, and, with all due respect to Mexico’s victory in The Battle of Puebla, I think we’re all ok with that. Because…margaritas.

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I celebrated early this year because I got a little party pants care package from the fine folks at Sauza Tequila as part of their ‘My Kind of Cinco’ campaign. I was able to put my own spin on a bunch of pitcher-style margaritas for a group of friends at the beach this past weekend. And in turn, I ate my weight in guac and chips. It was a win-win.

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When entertaining for a group of people, even if it’s a small group like we had, making a batch of cocktails is key. What’s better than a cocktail? An entire pitcher full of cocktails! People can help themselves and you are not a slave to the shaker. Don’t muddle your life away, people! You can still create quality, craft-style cocktails in a pitcher. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

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While Sauza Signature Blue Silver Tequila, made with 100% blue agave, was the star in these margs, jalapeño simple syrup and muddled cucumber were featured players. I love the heat the peppers lend and the opposing cooling quality of the cucumbers.

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And because Sauza’s classic silver style has an herbal and almost savory quality from the fresh agave notes, the combo of bright, green flavors works really well together.

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Jalapeño Cucumber Margaritas – (serves 8)
2 cups Sauza® Signature Blue Silver Tequila
1/2 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup jalapeño simple syrup *
1 cup lime juice
1/2 cup muddled cucumber slices
Garnish: cucumbers, rock salt

Lightly muddle cucumber slices at the bottom of a mixing glass and then place in pitcher with the rest of the ingredients. Fill with ice. Serve in margarita glasses rimmed with rock salt and garnish with a thin slice of cucumber.

*Jalapeño Simple Syrup
1 cup of turbinado sugar
1 cup of water
1 jalapeño, sliced, with the seeds removed

Combine the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the jalapeño and let sit for at least an hour. Strain through a mesh sieve and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for about a month.

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Disclosure: This post was made possible by Sauza® Tequila in conjunction with their #MyKindofCinco campaign. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

 

Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker & Massive Bar Swag Giveaway!

Before I knew Jules Aron as the author of the beautiful, new garden to glass cocktail book Zen and Tonic, I knew her online as the Healthy Bartender. As a certified health and nutrition coach with a background in bartending, she was always transforming green juices and fruit smoothies into boozy concoctions, and figuring out ways to get those superfoods and antioxidants in to help balance out that boozy booze. And now she’s created a whole book of these recipes that lean heavily on the local, organic and seasonal and immune boosting fruits, herbs and veggies.

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If you’ve ever gotten a juice or smoothie and thought while sipping on your salad greens or slurping up a fruity ambrosia, “Hey! This would be aMAHzing with a splash of tequila in it!”, (and who hasn’t, let’s be real?!) then this book is for you. Aron breaks the recipes up into different categories: Lush and Fruity, Fresh and Crisp, Garden Fresh, Floral and Fragrant, Sweet and Spicy, and Rich and Creamy. I decided to make a cocktail from the Sweet and Spicy section – the Peach Honey Bomb.

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A blend of whiskey, fresh peaches, lemon juice, honey and ground turmeric, this is one of the easier concoctions in the book, tastes like sunshine and looks like it too!

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I used a new-ish to me whiskey, the “Alabama Style” Clyde May’s. This is a 6 year old bourbon mash with hints of dried apple and cinnamon…a lovely addition to the bright fruit and spices in the Peach Honey Bomb.

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Peach Honey Bomb (from page 199 in Zen and Tonic)
4 ounces whiskey
2 peaches, pitted
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend well. Serve chilled.

Superfood Spotlight
Turmeric, the bright orange spice, has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions. 


MASSIVE COCKTAIL SWAG GIVEAWAY!

You have five days from today to enter the Zen and Tonic giveaway for the chance to win a signed copy of the book and over $500 in bar swag! Some of my favorites like Love and Victory glassware and Gastronomista jewelry are included in this amazing prize, so you don’t want to miss out on this! Enter HERE for the chance to pimp your bar today!

Campari Women Cocktail & Spirits Writer Interview Series with Gastronomista

In partnership with Campari and JUST in time for the last day of Women’s History Month, Emily Arden Wells from Gastronomista, one of my favorites in this industry and my Boozy Babes partner in crime, has started a series of interviews with women Cocktail and Spirits writers on her blog. And I’m so honored to kick it off with the first interview!

If you ever wondered what my journey has been into this crazy spirited world, you can check it out here. I also talk about some of the spirits writers who inspired me when I first was getting into the booze industry, and what I think of the LA cocktail scene so far! (hint: I have a long way to go!) You can also get my recipe for the festive Piña Sparkler, originally created for New Year’s Eve but so easy and delicious any time of year! Check out the interview on her site and check back in to see the rest of the series. Ladies in the hoooouuuusssse!

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photo by This Aperture

Bartender Style – Pamela Wiznitzer at Seamstress

Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, explores and documents the personal style of some of the best bartenders in the country. This month, we’re profiling rock star cocktail whiz, Pamela Wiznitzer at her home base, Manhattan’s Upper East Side hotspot Seamstress, where she serves as Creative Director, bartender and all around boss fox.

Pam is your Bartender-Next-Door. She’s your cool-girl confidante – a firecracker of positivity, doling out hugs and advice between perfectly crafted cocktails. She can hang with the boys, work the girl’s girl angle, and imbues equal parts warmth and confidence behind the bar. Pam Wiznitzer is your Bartender BFF.

Bartender Style - Pam Wiznitzer - photographed by Rose Callahan on Aug 27, 2015 at Seamstress bar, NYC

Those who know Pam, have worked with her in some way, and/or have been lucky enough to have been served a cocktail crafted by her, know why she is so well-regarded in the industry. And why she is often a go-to mixologist and face for events and liquor brands looking to sparkle up the proceedings.

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She’s highly skilled, passionate, creative, incredibly charismatic, and one of the hardest working bartenders in the biz. In short, she’s a superstar. Not to mention, she’s also pretty easy on the eyes.

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And, considering the amount of awards and accolades that she’s amassed, and the breadth of titles for various cocktail competitions she’s collected these last few years, her trajectory in the bar business has been off the charts! Pam serves as President of the New York chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild and she’s only really been in the game for about 7 years.

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Hospitality is key with all top bartenders, but Pam’s philosophy is next level. And it’s proven successful for her. She has a way of befriending everyone around her. It’s no wonder that she is known for having a devoted clientele. In her early days of bartending, after unexpectedly getting laid off from a startup, she found herself behind the stick during the day shift at a sports bar in Murray Hill. And, making the most of it, she packed them in. Pam’s following only grew as she honed her craft as an original hire at Dead Rabbit, (Tales of the Cocktail’s World’s Best Bar 2015), where she also earned a New York Bartender of the Year title from Village Voice in 2014 as well as landing a top 10 finalist spot for Tales’ Best American Bartender that same year. At the end of 2014, Pam made the move to help open and create the cocktail program for Seamstress, a new restaurant and bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that has quickly gained momentum, in large part based on Pam’s connection.

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The Seamstress moniker extends to the interior theme, with vintage sewing machines and scissor designs displayed throughout.

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The theme is also reinforced in the menu. As Creative Director, Pam has curated 50 classics and created 20 signature cocktails that all fall within four different sewing categories: PatchworkOverlayEmbroidery, and Lining.

While Pam wanted the bar staff to wear whatever they felt comfortable and attractive in during their shift, the customized bartender apron that they all wear, ties the Seamstress theme together. They are “unified by one thread while still being individuals.”

The apron serves a basic functionality for the bar staff – the utilitarian style with multiple pockets allows for everyone to keep their tools close and their phones handy.

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It also serves as a stylish outfit topper with sexy leather details that reflect some of the curated items sold in the shop occupying the front of the restaurant.

Pam is a fan of body conscious silhouettes and pops of color behind the bar.

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She believes confidence is key. Owning your fashion. She’s not afraid of bright colors and patterns or taking risks. Patricia Field, famed costume designer behind Sex and the City, has served as one of Pam’s style inspirations.

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Patrick Brauss, a former bar back (in one of Pam’s bars) turned personal stylist at Top Shop, came on board with Pam once she turned 30 and she decided she may need some assistance with all of the outfits she had to prepare for various events and judging panels and gigs where she needed to put her best face forward.

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Patrick is able to push Pam’s fashion boundaries while knowing exactly what she likes: high wasted skirts and crop tops, mixing vintage and new, incorporating classic and chic with a touch of daring whimsy and sexy edge. But most importantly, she says, he always ensures she is presented in a professional way.

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We asked Pam what the most popular cocktail at Seamstress was and without missing a beat, she prepared the Mortimer & Mauve, a rye whiskey based cocktail with chai tea infused vermouth and Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. Simple, delicious and it can traverse various seasons. There’s a reason why this is such a popular cocktail. Our Bartender BFF should know!

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Mortimer & Mauve
1.25 oz Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey
1.25 oz Chai infused Martini & Rossi Rosso
.5 oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur

Method: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir over ice until well chilled. Strain into glass over large ice cube.
Glass: Rocks glass
Garnish: Use orange twist to extract oils. Discard peel.

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