The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Michael Kudra

Listen to The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Michael Kudra

This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast we’re continuing our Bartender Interview Series – The Master Blend – a collaboration with Bertoux Brandy. 

This bi-weekly series of interviews will have each bartender discuss their distinct style, biggest inspirations, and how they’re making their mark on today’s cocktail culture. This week’s guest is Michael Kudra, lead bartender at three Michelin starred restaurant Quince in San Francisco.

Kudra, formerly from Chicago’s famed Aviary, moved to California in 2017 to take over the fine dining bar program at Quince. We discussed how his move to California has helped to encourage his biggest inspirations behind the bar, including literature, hyper seasonality, and salt. So much salt.

The featured cocktail this week is Michael Kudra’s BERTOUX Brandy cocktail currently featured on the menu at Quince in San Francisco – The Naturalist

THE NATURALIST  
1.5 oz. BERTOUX Brandy
1/3 oz. Amaro Nonino  
1/3 oz. Aperol  
1/3 oz. Lillet Rose  
.5 oz. of Lemon Sherbet  
.5 oz. Acid-Adjusted Grapefruit Juice   
2 Dashes Lemon Saline  

Shake, double-strain and garnish with Grapefruit Pearls.  Serve up, in a Japanese Martini Glass. 

Happy Halloween! Beer Witches, Spirited Spirits, and a Magickal Podcast!

Listen to This is Where the Magick Happens: Ep 22 Possessed by Spirits”

For this #ThrowbackThursday, I thought I’d post on the blog (since I didn’t back in July!) the time I was a guest on the hilarious witchy podcast This is Where the Magic Happens. This new-ish podcast is all about witchcraft, the paranormal, spirit guides, astrology, mysticism…with magickal (and hilarious) humans Ryan Singer & Angela Lovell.

I HAD THE BEST TIME. I talked about witches making beer, and Goddesses of beer and the women brewmasters behind all the witchy tropes we identify with today. We also talked about the magic of Big Sur and the Sedona vortex and POLITICS.

This was their July 4th episode but I thought it would be a perfect one to bring back for Halloween! Please listen to this beautiful episode and be sure to subscribe!

BBaF Podcast Episode 76: Four Roses Bourbon Master Distiller Brent Elliott

Listen to Episode 76: Four Roses Bourbon Master Distiller Brent Elliott”

For this week’s episode on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, I got to sit down with the Master Distiller of one of the most iconic bourbon brands in the world – Four Roses Bourbon. Master Distiller, Brent Elliott and I connected while he was in Los Angeles launching the first permanent addition to the Four Roses lineup since 2006 – and what he refers to as the “Fourth Rose” – Four Roses Small Batch Select.

We got to chat about the dramatic journey that Four Roses has had since 1888, how they were one of the few distilleries in America to survive Prohibition, and how Seagrams nearly destroyed the brand in the 1950s. The Four Roses story, as well as Brent’s, is a fascinating one! I got a chance to try the Small Batch Select for the first time on-air and, spoiler alert, it’s pretty darn good!

Since Brent didn’t recommend a specific cocktail (true whiskey distiller that he is!), I chose a simple, modern classic that would let the Small Batch Select shine – The Gold Rush.

This cocktail tends to be my go-to every time I visit DTLA’s Seven Grand, where the interview took place. It was also the drink that I was sipping on throughout the interview! The Gold Rush Cocktail was created by T. J Siegal at Milk & Honey in New York City nearly 20 years ago It has since become a modern classic. This simple recipe with only 3 ingredients is essentially a whiskey sour using honey syrup in place of simple syrup.

Gold Rush 
2 oz Four Roses Small Batch Select
3/4 oz Honey Syrup*
3/4 oz Lemon Juice 

Shake all ingredients over ice until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Lemon peel garnish is optional.

*Honey Syrup Recipe
Combine 1 cup water with 1 cup honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until honey is dissolved. Cool before using.

Buenos Aires Pear Spritz

Seasons are funny in LA. They’re especially bewildering after having spent nearly two decades on the east coast where time is very much marked by the changing temperatures, and periodic closet rotations. I used to know what time of year it was based on my boot and puffy coat accessibility!

During my first year here, I lived in a summery vortex where I didn’t ever know what month it was (let alone what day – one of the pitfalls of being a freelancer with odd working hours). But after a year or so in, I started to notice the subtle changes of the Southern California seasons…

…the slight shift in lighting, the cool mornings and cooler drop in temps around dusk, and the occasional scent of wood smoke – from outdoor fire pits, of course! As a recipe creator I was especially relieved that my seasonal cravings started coming back – red wine and brown spirits in the winter, floral and aromatic in the spring…

As a resident “Masters of Mate”  – cocktail recipe creator for Argentine Yerba Mate – I like to think seasonally. Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons to create recipes for. While this Spritz could essentially be drunk all year round, it has a decidedly autumnal twist. I love the heady combination of gin, pear and rosemary. The simple syrup infused with Argentine Yerba Mate adds tea tannins, earthy notes and a little zing.

I may no longer need to bundle up quite as much as I used to come November, but I’m welcoming fall this year with a pear spritz in hand and an extra thick poncho to wear around those autumnal bonfires. 😉

Buenos Aires Spritz 
1 oz Gin
1 1/2 oz Organic Pear Juice
1/2 oz Argentine Yerba Mate Tea Syrup*
Sparkling Wine
Garnish – sprig of rosemary

Shake gin, pear juice and syrup over ice until chilled. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

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.

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.


This post was sponsored by National Institute for Argentine Yerba Mate

The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Natalie Lichtman

Listen to The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Natalie Lichtman”

This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast we’re continuing the second chapter of the Bartender Interview Series, The Master Blend – a collaboration with BERTOUX Brandy.

This bi-weekly series of interviews will have each bartender discuss their distinct style, biggest inspirations, and how they’re making their mark on today’s cocktail culture. 

This week’s guest is San Francisco bartender Natalie Lichtman. She may come off as an elegant pink-haired Holly Golightly behind the bar, however Natalie’s quick rise in the intense restaurant and bar world of San Francisco has proven that she has ambition and the chops.

We talked about the importance of mentors, getting that big break, and how she finds a way to feed her unique artistry behind the bar and away from it. 

The featured cocktail this week is Natalie’s BERTOUX Brandy cocktail, The Aperitif, currently featured at San Francisco’s Nico Restaurant.

The Aperitif
1.25 oz. BERTOUX Brandy
.75 oz. Verjus Blanc
.5 oz. Kina L’Aero D’or
.5 oz. Bigallet China-China Amaro 

Stir all ingredients over ice, strain, and serve up in a Nick and Nora glass. Garnish is a petite corvette rose with small shards of lemon pith and sage leaves tucked between the petals.


All photographs by Anthony Parks on behalf of BERTOUX Brandy

BBaF Podcast Episode 74: Plymouth Gin Master Distiller Sean Harrison

Listen to Episode 74: Plymouth Gin Master Distiller Sean Harrison”

This week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast is an exciting one. I got to sit down with the Master Distiller of one of my all time favorites, Plymouth Gin

Sean Harrison joined Plymouth Gin 25 years ago as Assistant Manager and is now the Master Distiller and keeper of one of the oldest and iconic gin recipes that has been passed down verbally to every Master Distiller since 1793.

Sean was in town celebrating World Martini Day, so naturally, I reserved some time for a chat. We spoke about Sean’s beginnings as a fledgling distiller, what it’s like to be the maker of such a historic brand, and how he’s witnessed the gin craze grow bigger than he ever imagined over the last two decades all while working at one of the most beloved gin brands in the world.

This week’s featured cocktail is one of Sean’s favorites, a 50/50 martini using Plymouth Gin and Lillet Rosé:

Rosé Fifty-Fifty 
1 part Plymouth Gin 
1 part Lillet Rosé 
Grapefruit Twist (Sean prefers no garnish!)

Stir and serve up or in a rocks glass over a large cube of ice, garnish optional.


Photos courtesy of Plymouth Gin.

The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Christopher Longoria

Listen to The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Christopher Longoria”

This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, we’re kicking off our second chapter of The Master Blend – A Bartender Series. In collaboration with BERTOUX Brandy, the Bit by a Fox Podcast will host a series of interviews with some of America’s most acclaimed and innovative bartenders. 

This second installment is a continuation of interviews that will have each bartender discuss their distinct style, biggest inspirations, and how they’re making their mark on today’s cocktail culture. 

Kicking off this second Master Blend series is Christopher Longoria, Beverage Director at the insanely popular restaurant, Che Fico in San Francisco. We talked poetry, California, hip hop, his 20 year evolution behind the bar, and discovering as an artist and as a bartender, less is more.

This week’s featured cocktail is Christopher’s BERTOUX Brandy cocktail currently featured at San Francisco’s Che FicoSMOKED STRAWBERRIES 

SMOKED STRAWBERRIES
1 oz Smoked Strawberry Juice* 
.75 oz Earl Grey Tea Syrup** 
.25 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
.5 oz Lime Juice 
Pinch of salt 
4 Dashes Absinthe (through a bitters decanter) 
1.5 oz BERTOUX Brandy  

Shake, double strain. Serve up, in a coupe. No garnish.

*Smoked Strawberry Juice: 
In a hotel pan, stack a perforated hotel pan. Lightly coat the perforated hotel pan with Vegeline. Add a flat of strawberries (capped) to the perforated hotel pan. Place over an open fire hearth for approximately 40 mins. Line a second perforated hotel pan with cheese cloth. Stack on top of a hotel pan that has clearance for the strawberry juice that will be pressed. Carefully place smoked strawberries over the cheesecloth. 

Cover the strawberries with the excess cheese cloth. Using an additional hotel pan stacked over the strawberries, add an appropriate amount of weight to press out the juice (we use a case of beer). Allow for at least 24 hrs of press time. Press in a space at wine cellar or fridge temperature. Once pressing time is done, manually squeeze excess juice from the strawberries through cheese cloth into appropriate container. 

**Earl Grey Tea Syrup: 
In a vac seal bag add: Loose leaf Earl Grey Tea: 42 g, Orange Peel (zested): 12 g, Clove: 8 ct, Water: 1 qt (800 g). 

Let infusion sit at room temperature for 24 hrs. Strain infusion into a quart container to confirm volume. 

Post infusion: 
Add the infusion into a pot. Using and induction burner, bring to a simmer (hot enough to melt sugar). Add volume of granulated sugar equal to the infusion volume. Stir until sugar is fully dissolved. Allow to cool.


All photographs by Anthony Parks on behalf of BERTOUX Brandy

Strong ‘n Stormy Slushy with Reed’s Strongest Ginger Beer

The Dark ‘n Stormy is a classic highball traditionally made with a robust, Caribbean style dark rum and spicy ginger beer. It’s as simple as a mixed drink gets, but those two opposing flavors create a heavy dose of complexity…and deliciousness!  

There’s a reason why this drink has enjoyed consistent popularity since the 1800s when sailors were throwing them back with abandon!   

If you’ve ever been involved with the seafaring world, then you know this drink’s deep connection to maritime history. Rum was a popular ration for England’s Royal Navy in the 19th century, and ginger was used as an effective seasickness cure. These two were bound to come together on a boat or near one! Bermuda was the supposed birthplace of this combo finally getting together, and the Dark ‘n Stormy, as we know it, was born. 

Cocktail legend has it that the name was dubbed by a sailor who, after imbibing one of these spicy numbers of his own, remarked that the color of the drink was reminiscent of a storm cloud too dangerous to sail under. 

While I LOVE the simplicity of this drink, y’all know I was gonna mess with it! In fact, you know what makes this version even better? It’s a slushy. With this extended summer we’re having in Los Angeles (helloooo 85 degrees in September), I’m still welcoming ALL the frozen drinks for as long as I can. The other reason this take is next level? I did not settle for that normal spiced ginger beer. Oh no, this (sp)icy beauty deserves some strength! I used the spiciest ginger beer on the market –  Reed’s Strongest. COME THROUGH GINGER SPICE!

Reed’s Strongest has 3 times the fresh ginger root of their Original and the result = SPICAAAAAY (that’s like extra spicy). We are turning up the volume on that ginger in this slushy because we actually need to. With all that ice, you need the spice! Make sure to also have a very deep, dark, robust rum to counterbalance those big flavors. I also like to add a little lime juice and a touch of salt to brighten all of the ingredients.  

The beauty of this version is that it can be batched out so you can serve a number of people at the same time. What’s better than an ice cold slushy cocktail? Um, 8 of them.  

Enjoy this with some friends throughout the first weeks of a warmer than usual fall. The Strong ‘n Stormy will no doubt help you to weather the storm of all that ails you! 

STRONG ‘N STORMY SLUSHY– serves 8

INGREDIENTS
2 bottles Reed’s Strongest Ginger Beer (24 oz)
12 oz dark rum
4 oz fresh lime juice
teaspoon salt
2 cups ice
Garnish: 8 lime wheels

INSTRUCTIONS
In a blender combine rum, Reed’s Strongest Ginger Beer, lime juice, salt and ice and blend until slushy consistency. Pour into large rocks or highball glasses and garnish with lime wheel.


This post was sponsored (and powered!) by Reed’s Ginger Beer. As always, all opinions are my own.



BBaF Podcast Episode 72: Champagne Laurent-Perrier with President Michelle DeFeo

Listen to Episode 72: Champagne Laurent-Perrier with President Michelle DeFeo”

Champagne House Laurent-Perrier, founded in 1812, can be credited with many of the cutting edge ideas that have defined champagne production.

photo by Leif Carlsson

They are responsible for pioneering rose, as well as a style of champagne called Brut Nature that has zero dosage (any additional sugar). Laurent-Perrier is also the largest family and female run Champagne House in the world.

Francofile, New Jersey Native, and President of Laurent-Perrier, Michelle DeFeo has been at the helm since 2014, but her experience in the champagne business goes back to the very beginnings of her career.

For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, we discussed her journey to the champagne business, the feminist history of Laurent-Perrier, and what kind of responsibility comes with leading the largest female run Champagne House in the world.

BBaF Podcast Episode 71: Black Cow Vodka with co-founder Paul “Archie” Archard

Listen to Episode 71: Black Cow Vodka with co-founder Paul “Archie” Archard”

Vodka made entirely from MILK?! Meet Black Cow Vodka.

Black Cow Vodka is perhaps the first of its kind in the world made from discarded whey – a bi-product of cheese production. Jason Barber’s family has been making cheese and producing milk for over 200 years. Along with friend and neighbor Paul “Archie” Archard – a former producer, artist and designer – they started Black Cow in 2012 to critical acclaim.

For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast co-founder Archie talks about how this harebrained idea came to be, how Black Cow is one of the most sustainable spirits being produced, and why milk is the perfect organic ingredient to make vodka with.

This week’s featured cocktail recipe is Black Cow Vodka’s Espresso Martini:

Black Cow Vodka’s Espresso Martini
2 oz Black Cow Vodka
1 oz Fresh Cooled Espresso Coffee
1/2 oz Maple Syrup

Shake hard over ice and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with 3 coffee beans.

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