Oh, hello gorgeous. I didn’t see you there. Don’t mind me. I’m just hanging out here in these lonely woods, surrounded by candlelight, and smelling like a GD gingerbread man. Would you like a…taste?
♪ ♫ Bow chicka wow wowwww. ♪ ♫
We’re taking cocktail porn to a whole new level with this little number. The spiciness is off the charts, people!
Perhaps the incessant, bone chilling cold that has had a grip on New York City for the last three months is finally getting to me. Do I have a little case of cabin fever? Likely. Do I have a house full of booze to keep me company? Affirmative. Am I creating 70s Cocktailsploitation films in my kitchen to keep me entertained? Maaayhaps. I do have a sheepskin rug and a penchant for low lighting. It’s been a long ass winter, you guys! What’s a girl to do?
In any case, this little ménage á quatre below made some magic happen a few nights ago when thrown together…
Ok, the ingredient list was a little more than quatre. There was a touch of maple syrup and an entire egg to tame those flavor beasts – BACARDÍ Black, the richest, darkest and fullest bodied rum from the worlds biggest rum branch, Ancho Reyes, a kick-y ancho chile liqueur, a savory Aged Citrus Bitters from Five by Five Tonics Co., and an intense chai tea concentrate from Dona Chai. Boom! The rich, creaminess of one whole egg was a necessary component to this dark flavor bomb in order to round out the edges. And, in the end, it really did taste like a voluptuous cup full of boozy gingerbread.
I’d been wanting to play with all of these ingredients, but the Dona Chai tea concentrate had been on the top of my list for a while now. Hand crafted in Brooklyn in small batches, with an emphasis on sustainability, everything in this bottle screams cozy, winter, fireside yumminess – cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, cloves, black peppercorns, ginger, and black tea. In fact, it was so perfect in this cocktail, I’m curious to see if I can experiment with some lighter, warm weather concoctions to go in a completely different direction. That is, once it finally thaws…in a million years.
Five by Five Bitters is also made in small batches by hand in Chico, California, using organic or wild crafted botanicals. I got my hands on a few bottles of these recently and found the very versatile Aged Citrus Bitters a lovely addition to this cocktail.
You may have noticed that BACARDÍ bottle may look a little different from what you’re used to…
That’s because BACARDÍ has recently launched their first packaging update in more than a decade. These beautiful Art Deco inspired bottles are taller, slimmer, and more bartender friendly. The design also reflects their Cuban heritage, with a look to the past. Personally, I love the new retro bat logo!
(For more info, or concerns about using eggs in cocktails, the necessary ‘dry shake’ & what a flip cocktail technically IS, read my previous post, Using Eggs in Cocktails.)
The Foxy Chai Flip
2 oz Bacardi Black Rum
1 oz Ancho Reyes Liqueur
3/4 oz Maple Syrup
1/4 oz Dona Chai Tea Concentrate
2-3 Dashes Five by Five Tonics Bitters
Dry shake all ingredients for 15-20 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 15-20 seconds. Strain slowly into a well chilled large coupe glass. Dash of bitters on top.
In honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I created a make-out of a cocktail called The Long Kiss Goodnight for Design*Sponge’s Behind the Bar column. It’s actually a riff off of our New Year’s Eve tipple, the Auld Lang Syne. Instead of scotch, we used bourbon and the lemon juice was swapped for blood orange juice. We kept the bubbly, Grand Marnier and those float-y pomegranate seeds, but this drink just got a WHOLE lot sexier. Check out the full recipe here and see why I love this cocktail so much.
It’s no secret that this country is in the throes of a small batch, hand crafted spirits Renaissance. It seems like every week a new, independent distillery pops up in some remote part of the country. We’ve gone from about 70 to 700 distilleries in the United States in a little under 10 years. And nowhere is that feverish growth felt more profoundly than in Brooklyn, New York.
Thanks to a change in legislature in 2002 that hadn’t been updated since prohibition, there has been an emerging and unprecedented collection of boutique distillers catering to drinkers who have a taste for the regional and the unique. The recently published book Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough not only documents the actual hard-working entrepreneurs behind the distilleries who are at the forefront of this movement (many familiar to those regular Bit by a Fox blog readers!), but it also showcases the bars that champion these small producers, and with cocktail recipes to boot!
One of these bars supporting the local booze scene, featured in the book is the beyond charming The Long Island Bar, restored and re-opened in 2013.
photo by Max Kelly
This is also the locale where I recently had the chance to meet up with the authors of Brooklyn Spirits, Chris Wertz and Peter Thomas Fornatale, for a few drinks featuring some of that local booze.
We were lucky enough to have the co-owner of The Long Island Bar, and one of the star bartenders of the book, Toby Cecchini, personally attend to our thirst that night.
It was also the first time Toby (the creator of the notorious Cosmopolitan cocktail, by the way!) saw his section of the book in print. A special night to be sure!
Chris and Pete have lovingly compiled a Who’s Who among the Brooklyn drinks scene, from distiller to glass in Brooklyn Spirits. And Max Kelly’s stunning photography captures the vibe of the borough so perfectly.
This book has been a hot item since it hit newsstands in October, and you can get it here.
OR, if you’re in New York, you can attend a Tiki Night that they are co-hosting tomorrow night, Friday the 13th, 7-10 pm at Brooklyn’s boozy bakery slash bar, Spirited, and pick up a copy AND get it signed by the authors themselves. Bit By a Fox faves Owney’s NYC Rum and Sorel Liqueur will be heavily featured on the Tiki cocktail menu and pu pu platters will abound! Get tickets here!
Hold on to your winter hats, folks, have I got a heavenly treat for you!
About a month ago, during the first blizzard-y squall that took hold of New York City….or was it the second? To be honest, it’s all blending together in a dirty, slushy mess in my head, not unlike the frozen sludge covering the mean streets of the city itself. What month is it?! Sob. Can you tell I’m OVER WINTER?! #OverIt #MakeItStop #IsItAprilYet #WheresMyMommy…Hashtag – I’m a big fat sissy baby. In ANY case, back to last month…I was home sick, it was snowing heavily outside, the temps barely stretched into the double digits, and I was feeling SUPER sorry for myself. Then, something miraculous happened. The booze fairies had THIS amazingness delivered to my door! I was so delighted, I even threw on a fancy kimono to answer the door! Things were looking up!
I pretty much immediately ripped into the L.A. Burdick Milk Drinking Chocolate and made a hot cup of zOMG! That cheered me up stat. Then, I added a 1/2 oz of Patrón XO Café Dark Cocoa and, that’s when the booze angels started singing. It’s that good. The tequila based liqueur is part of the Patrón XO line. It uses Patrón Silver as its base and sources both the coffee and dark chocolate from Mexico in order to produce a wicked good liqueur.
When I hosted an impromptu group of friends in my Brooklyn neighborhood post Juno blizzard tease last week, I decided to recreate this tequila, chocolate, coffee ambrosia. Everyone was anxious to leave their apartments after being cooped up for a few days and I was initially going to have people over for afternoon Bloody Marys. But then I remembered my last winter storm cup of cheer, and I had to share!
I used almond milk for the hot chocolate because that’s about all I had in my apartment that first storm. But I stuck with that the second time around because it was so yummy! And my guests loved it as well. I also highly recommend the sublime L.A. Burdick Milk Drinking Chocolate. It’s seriously a bag full of pure chocolate shavings. Insane.The important thing here is to make it to your liking and then sit back and discover how much better it gets once you buzz that baby up! You’ll only need about 1/2-1 oz of Patrón XO Café Dark Cocoa per serving.
What made it even more of a hit were the maple marshmallows that my friend Lee brought over. He’s not only a brilliant writer who has been featured here once before, but is also a seasoned maple syrup slinger with Deep Mountain Maple at Union Square’s Greenmarket. You can usually count on him for some type of maple-y treats. Lee and Deep Mountain Maple was kind enough to share the recipe with us!
Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar and a 1/2 cup of corn starch together to make 1 cup of powdered mixture
Spray the sides and bottom of 9×13 pan with non-stick spray, or grease lightly with vegetable oil. Dust the pan with some of the powdered sugar mixture.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and let stand.
In a large, heavy saucepan, cook 3 cups maple syrup (preferably Grade A Amber Rich) until it registers 240-241 on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from heat.
Pour the VERY HOT syrup over the gelatin and mix at low….then gradually higher speed until high.
While mixing, add 1/4 teaspoon salt
Beat the marshmallow for about 10 minutes — until the bowl becomes lukewarm and the mixture has about tripled in volume.
Quickly pour the marshmallow into the powdered pan and spread to fill. Be diligent! It’s very sticky and will start to set up. Use some spray or vegetable oil on the spatula if you are having trouble.
Dust the top generously with more powdered sugar mixture.
Let sit at room temp for about 6 hours, or overnight.
Turn the marshmallow out on to a cutting board. Using a bench scraper, or long knife, cut the marshmallow into long strips, then cut the strips into cubes. As you cut, roll the marshmallows in the powdered mixture to coat all the sides. You can put a bunch of them in a big mesh strainer and shake them over the sink a few times — to get as much powder off of them as possible.
Keep airtight for up to 1 week, or airtight in the freezer for up to one month.
Man, kids nowadays have it pretty good. I don’t know what school fundraisers looked like when you were in grade school but, when I was a kid, our fundraisers would usually consist of pretty weak bake sales, “talent” shows with questionable performances involving Casio keyboard solos and way too much spandex. And, if we were lucky, a raffle for a rib eye steak dinner at The Eagles Club downtown. Who knows how much money was raised during those olden days school fundraisers or if that money even translated into learning materials or fancy, new tetherballs (which is all I really cared about anyway), but I’m telling you! School fundraisers have turned a freaking corner! That is, at least, if you live in the land of sunshine and palm trees and…insanely talented parents (with insanely talented friends): Los Angeles, California. Because, then you can recruit those insanely talented people to perform at your school’s Comedy Night and put them to WERK. Look at this bonkers lineup:
This is a public school fundraiser, you guys! I bet they’ll make more money than two dozen batches of peanut butter rice crispy treats. Although, every bit as delightful, I’m sure! And, fingers crossed there is a little spandex and a Casio keyboard solo or two in one of these sets.
IF you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, and enjoy laughing A TON, and like the idea of wicked smart human kids around instead of a bunch of dum dums, and care about the future of our world, in general, you may want to consider attending this evening of LOLz this Saturday to benefit Ivanhoe Elementary. Another incentive? The Dragon Fire cocktail!
Booze! For the children!
I’m not saying that it’s your DUTY to humanity to support the education of our youth, or anything, buuuut if you miss out on this laugh riot, you also miss out on this kicky delight. Tito’s Handmade Vodka, from Austin, Texas, has generously donated to this event, and I have created a few signature dragon themed (Ivanhoe’s mascot!) cocktails. The Dragon Fire is my favorite! The Red Zinger Tea syrup and grapefruit juice ups the zing-factor and the Tabasco lends the fire. This can be served with or without ice.
2 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka
2 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Red Zinger Tea Syrup*
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Place all the ingredients, except the seltzer in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass (without ice) or an ice-filled highball glass. Top with a splash of seltzer. Add a grapefruit peel to the cocktail glass or a lime wedge to the highball.
* Red Zinger Tea Syrup
1 cup water
5 Red Zinger Tea bags
1 cup sugar
Heat water in a saucepan until boiling and remove from heat. Place tea bags in hot water and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add in sugar, and stir over heat until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Can keep for up to two weeks.
I am told that Comedy Night Too!, benefiting the amazing public school, Ivanhoe Elementary, still has a few tickets left for this Saturday. It’s hosted by The Sklar Brothers and features Jeff Garlin, Nick Kroll, TJ Miller, Kumail Nanjani, Al Madrigal, Rob Corddry and Cameron Esposito. And the Dragon Fire cocktail! That’s a HOT ticket! Get them HERE!
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A curated restaurant row.
Want authentic Texas barbecue but live in Michigan? Or have a hankering for Detroit-style pizza and you live in Texas? Or maybe you want Maryland crab cakes, cannolis from Ferrara’s in New York’s Little Italy and lobster rolls from Brooklyn’s Red Hook Lobster Pound, all at one party and you don’t want to spend your life hunting down a way to get it all delivered to your door. Well, this company can save the day, and make your gastronomic dreams come true. Basically, they’re doing what Seamless and Grubhub do in New York, on a national scale. That sounds like a million dollar idea, eh? Wish I thought of it!
Sooo, these geniuses have apparently deemed me an “Expert”…in sipping cocktails, that is! And so, I did an interview with them where I talked a whole lot about it. I also talked a little about how the Bit by a Fox blog came about. So, if you ever wondered what I think makes a perfect bar, or what my favorite cold weather cocktails are, or how to order drinks like a pro, check this out. Bottom line, I like to gab about COCKTAILS!
Did you make New Year’s resolutions this year? How’s that going for you? Now that we’re full-on into mid January, have you stuck to your guns or chucked those notions of perfection out the window? In the past, I’ve done the ‘Dry January’ thing and I considered doing it again this year, but then I was like…”no”.
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to take a break from the hard stuff after the booze-festation of the holidays, but going cold turkey may not be realistic. For me. Right now. Ok, I may do it in February! That’s a shorter month anyhow.
In any case, I am trying to make an effort to be healthier. While whiskey may be considered vitamin-enriched health food, cocktails, not so much. Mixed drinks tend to be high, calorically due to a lot of added sugar. I don’t care for super sweet cocktails and I tend to keep my recipes lower on the sugar spectrum, but in order to achieve a balanced drink, there does need to be a sweet element. A lot of times people reach for sugary sodas or pre-made mixers to fulfill this component. And, if they are trying to be “healthy”, they’ll use a diet soft drink or something with “skinny” in the name. Ugh. Please don’t do that. Whenever I hear the word skinny next to the word cocktail my hackles get raised. The ingredient list in those things is, undoubtedly, long, indecipherable and 100% garbage. Don’t mess with my cocktails, skinny bitches! LOLz. JK, I love skinny people.
But, not all low calorie, sugar-free cocktail mixers are created equal.
Be Mixed is a single serving, bottled cocktail mixer that is zero calories, is sugar-free, and is actually pretty yummy. Best of all, it doesn’t have a bunch of chemicals in it masquerading as “skinny”. They use all natural ingredients, including monk fruit, long used in China for medicinal purposes and as a sweetener. Cristina Ros Blankfein and Jennifer Ross, the powerhouse ladies behind Be Mixed, which has been slowly launching since October, came up with their business idea while at Harvard Business School. Jennifer has Type 1 Diabetes and has spent a lifetime avoiding sugar. But not fun! It was important to both of them to create something that was not only enjoyable as a spirits mixer and easy to entertain with, but was also a product that was low in sugar and used natural ingredients.
Their Ginger, Honey, Lime is the first mix they’ve rolled out with, and they are intending to reveal another by next month. The mini bottles are single serving portions. On the bottle itself, you are directed to mix the whole thing with a shot of your preferred spirit, and then you’re good to go! But, after getting my hands on a couple of these babies, I couldn’t help messing with them to create whole new cocktails! And to see if it could go with a variety of spirits. Turns out, it does!
I wanted to experiment with a typically boozy cocktail like a Boulevardier, with the intention of lightening it up with the mixer and a little citrus. Testing out the recipe a few times, I decided to take out the vermouth, up the Italian bitter quotient with Cynar, and back off on the Campari so it wasn’t the dominant flavor.
With equal parts Rittenhouse Rye and Be Mixed, and the addition of Campari, Cynar and lemon juice, The Bitter Rye turns into a decidedly different cocktail, but with remnants of that original pre-prohibition era inspiration.
The Bitter Rye
2 oz Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
2 oz Be Mixed Ginger, Honey, Lime
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Shake all ingredients over ice until outside of shaker is nice and frosty. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
For a totally different cocktail using the same exact mixer, I made the The Hayworth Honey - a gin-based highball that uses the entire single serving bottle, as intended. Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin with raw Vermont honey, seemed like a perfect complement to the flavors in Be Mixed. I decided to mirror the other flavors in the mix as well, ginger and lime, by including Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur and fresh lime juice. The touch of Yellow Chartreuse helps to elevate the honey and herbaceous qualities, and the splash of bubbles makes this cocktail slightly effervescent.
The Hayworth Honey
2 oz Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin
Bottle of Be Mixed Ginger, Honey, Lime
3/4 oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Shake all the ingredients except the soda over ice and strain into an ice filled high ball glass. Top with club soda and give a stir with a straw to combine.
I hope everyone enjoyed their night, whether you blew the roof off da club or decided to cozy up with some Netflix and take out…or experienced anything in between! Thank you all for coming on this boozy journey with me this past year. It’s been an epic, fox-filled year. Here’s to a fabulous new day, and new year with a bright future full of beautiful possibilities. I raise a glass to all of you!
You didn’t think I forgot about New Year’s Eve, did you? It is, of course, the time of year when ALL of the foxes are out just lying in wait to bite the beejesus out of every last one of us. That is why I usually like to keep my imbibing low-key, lest I join the amateurs who have just discovered that booze can make you happy and uninhibited and…loud and sloppy. Mistakes can be made. Things can be broken. Tears can be shed. I’m not a stranger to those mistakes, my friends! But now, I can see to the other side! I like to think there is an art to truly celebrating. So tonight, let’s create some f*%&ing ART!
When midnight strikes tonight, the Scottish folk song, Auld Lang Syne will be played throughout the globe and, although most people do not know the words, some will try to sing along. I love the nostalgic sentiment – to remember the past, appreciate old friends and toast the passing of time. Because of this major Scottish influence on our lives once a year, I thought we all deserved a Scottish influenced drink to toast with while we rock and sway to this tune later on tonight. And Highland Park Single Malt Scotch 12 Year seemed appropriately classic for the occasion.
Highland Park is not the only time-honored bottle here, however. It wouldn’t be a New Year’s Eve cocktail without some champers, and Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Champagne is about as iconic as it gets. Grand Marnier Liqueur also knows a thing or two about quality and resilience and all around bad-ass deliciousness.
According to the Greeks, Pomegranates are luck fruit and in many cultures they represent life, fertility, prosperity and health. And they’re also lovely floating around in a bubbly coupe glass! So, let’s throw a few of those beauties into our cocktail for good measure!
Auld Lang Syne
1/2 oz Highland Park Scotch 12 Year
1/2 oz Grand Marnier Liqueur
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne
Pomegranate Seeds for Garnish
In an ice filled shaker, combine the first three ingredients. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Top with Champagne and pomegranate seeds.
Foxy ones, enjoy your night tonight, toast the new year, appreciate the lessons from the past and keep it klassy! Most of all, celebrate the h*ck out of this night. Bring it, 2015!
I hope every last one of you foxy mofos gets everything your heart desires this year! I’ll just be hanging out next to this raging fire in my leopard print cat suit until the new year. Feliz Navidad, my foxes!