New York City was glorious this past weekend. The light: magic. The air: fragrant. The soundtrack: chirping birds and wind chimes. The sun shone DIRECTLY into my soul. It was heavenly. It felt like an angry, dirty, sludgy Instagram filter had been lifted from the entire city and that winter could possibly be on its last legs. It was almost, A L M O S T beautiful enough to forgive the torture that we’ve suffered these many months. New Yorkers: DO NOT FORGET! We must remind ourselves here in the Northeast that March is just a straight up tease, that jerkface time of year that screws with your head. I swear, every single New York resident has weather amnesia. I’m convinced no one would live here, otherwise. Winters are brutal, summers are a stinking, froth of steam for 3+ months and spring and fall, are always way too fleeting. But what happens once that first sun-kissed day with temps reaching the mid-fifties rolls around after a soul crushing vortex of misery? Without fail, tough-as-nails New Yorkers are transformed into goofy, grinning puppies, forgetting ALL about the dark, freezing kennels that held them captive for their entire lives. Gah, winter!
In any case, this weekend was lovely. The spectacular weather, coinciding with daylight savings, really made it feel like was spring upon us. Flirting, if you will, whispering sweet nothings in our ears. You guys, I was pretty into it. Listen, because we’ve paid some pretty hefty dues, weather-wise, I’m certain New York will be one big, frolicking garden of delight EVERY DAY, any day now! I’m pretty sure that’s how karma works. Look it up.
What I’m trying to say here is…I DID NOT post a daylight savings cocktail, as planned, yesterday. Because…the weather. Also, that extra hour we lost really threw me off my game! But, do not fret. While daisies may not necessarily be ready to poke up from the ground just yet, I have one in store for you all in the form of a delicious cocktail. The last time I posted about a Daisy, I was still jazzed about winter. (I forgive myself.)
Soooo, stay tuned for the Daylight Daisy, the sparkly, fruity, floral stuff of spring-fever dreams! Spoiler alert: It’s off the charts yummy.
You guys! We are on the verge of a glorious weekend, rife with possibilities, and I’m afraid I’m suffering from a bad case of Boringitus with a side of superduperlaziness.
It may be this Polar Vortex that just won’t quit (holy mother of god, make it stop), or just the typical winter hibernation that sets in this time of year, but all I can muster after a work day comes to a close, is a desire to head home, curl up with a bottle of wine flavored wine and binge watch House of Cards/Downton Abbey/Nashville/Teen Wolf. (I will fiercely defend that last one, so don’t even.) All I want is to escape into a glass (or three, let’s be real) of vino and catch up on my STORIES. I haven’t even had the energy this past week to mix up a cocktail. I KNOW! But, squeezing lemons is HAAAARRRDDD.
You guys, I think I have the SADS! Something, something shitty ass weather, down in the dumps….I have that! LUCKILY, Daylight Savings is right around the corner to literally save the day slash my life slash my cocktail blog. It will soon be Spring and the sun will actually mean something around here and I will have caught up on all my shows…or I just won’t be as invested in Rayna James. In any case, Spring! Sundresses and Mint Juleps and open windows with fluttering curtains and chirpy birds. I’m pretty psyched about it. Remember to set your clocks AHEAD one hour on Sunday and get that blow torch ready for your winter coat. I know for certain that once that first consecutive week of great weather rolls around, that down coat of mine is going up in flames. Until then, I will hate-wear that thing and day-dream about fruity, floral cocktails. Speaking of which, get ready for a Daylight Savings tipple this weekend…
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday in French, starts on or right after Kings Day and right before Ash Wednesday and represents the last chance to feast before the fasting that occurs during the many weeks of Lent. But for many people, especially those in New Orleans, this time of year, also referred to as Carnival Season, is an excuse to PAR-TAY! The crazy, naked, boozy, bedazzled, gold, purple & green encrusted, bead & boob covered event that we know as Mardi Gras, arrived in the states in the late 1600s care of a couple of French Catholic brothers sent by King Louis XIV to defend the territory now known as Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In 1703, fifteen years before New Orleans was even founded, early French settlers of Mobile, Alabama – the first capital of French Louisiana, organized the very first Mardi Gras celebration. And the rest is histoire!
The very sweet, fruity Hurricane cocktail is probably the drink most associated with Mardi Gras. But the classic Sazerac is THE official cocktail of New Orleans and one of my all-time favorites. So, if you are Carnival-ing it up next week, this is the cocktail you should be mixing up. It’s also one that you can make a large batch of and have on hand if you are entertaining.
I’ve covered the Sazerac once before on this blog, using a coffee syrup and Van Brunt American Whiskey. I’ve included here a more traditional recipe. For the rinse of absinthe, you can splash a little and pour it out, but make sure to coat the inside of the glass for the full flavor before discarding the liquid. Or you can leave it in for a more intense flavor. You can also use an atomizer to just lightly mist the inside of the glass to really ensure that you don’t overdo it! In any case, Let the Good Times Roll!
It happens every year, like clockwork. Once February rolls around, I always fall madly, deeply, head over heels in love…with blood oranges! For last Thursday’s cocktail tasting with Quinciple, I cut up and juiced so many of these beauties that by the end of the night, the cocktail station looked like a gorgeous slaughter had taken place. It seemed pretty fitting that this grisly scene was the inspiration for today’s Valentine’s Day cocktail - something a little bloody but sweet, with just a touch of bitterness. Like LOVE!
Whether you enjoy this holiday or not, we can all agree, the day goes down a little easier with a delicious beverage (or two) at the ready.
When I was developing this recipe, I knew that I wanted to make a flip type cocktail, The tang of orange and bite of Campari is tamed by the whole egg. The addition of yolk and white ends up smoothing out the flavors for a bright, rich and creamy result. For more info (or concerns) about using eggs in cocktails, the necessary ‘dry shake’ and what a flip cocktail technically IS, read my previous post about all that!
I tried to freehand a heart with an arrow in the foam with Peychaud’s bitters and I sort of did it. The heart may be leaning more towards an abstract anatomical interpretation:
My Bloody Valentine
1 Whole Egg
2 oz White Rum
2 oz Blood Orange Juice
1/2 oz Campari
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
2-3 shakes Peychaud’s Bitters
Dry shake all ingredients for 15-20 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 15-20 seconds. Strain slowly into a large coupe glass. Add a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters on top of the foam. And if you’re feeling creative, make a heart, or a heart with a sword in it or your cat’s face. Whatever flips your skirt on this Valentine’s Day! It is guaranteed to look better than my weirdo heart!
Have a lovely day, you foxy foxes. My heart will always belong to you!
Today, I woke up to the news that our beloved Shirley Temple Black has taken her final bow on this here third rock from the sun. But she’s left us with a very sparkly legacy.
My mother is a lifelong fan and when I was little, she passed on her love and appreciation for Shirley Temple and all of her gobsmacking talent as a singer, actress and dancer. She was my absolute favorite and made an incredible impact on me as a child. Subsequent years of me singing, acting and dancing followed this childhood fascination with Curly Top, and I blame a lot of my interest in all of that on those early experiences watching her movies over and over. I would have given anything to have my impossibly straight hair curled into fat sausages on top of my head. And I remember, at 6, being so envious when Sue Soto, my neighbor and best friend who was from a huge Mexican Catholic family, got an outfit for her First Communion that I thought was EXACTLY like something Shirley Temple would’ve worn – white patent leather baby doll shoes, lacy ankle socks and a multi-tiered, frothy, crinoline party dress resembling a puffed pastry. I was CRUSHED that my hippy mom didn’t go in for that kind look for me. I was stuck in earth tones and beaded vests.
As a tribute to Shirley Temple Black, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought I’d provide a recipe for the popular, pink-hued, booze-less “cocktail” named in her honor. The origins of this fruity beverage are a little fuzzy, as many have claimed its invention. According to Hollywood lore, however, a bartender from Chasen’s, a historic Beverly Hills restaurant, created the drink especially for the child star in the 30s. This place was filled with these kinds of stories. Too bad it closed in the 90s!
I recently had a horrible version of one of these at the American Girl Store when I had a date with one of my favorite 7 year olds. And, believe it or not, I’ve been wanting to post a recipe with quality ingredients on here ever since! The problem with most Shirley Temples is the grenadine. The store-bought stuff is usually filled with such garbage and more often than not, people are too heavy-handed with it. You only need a dash of the sweet stuff! Especially when you are mixing with an already sweet soda. My version uses ginger syrup and seltzer in place of ginger-ale, so it’s even easier to pull back on the sweetness. And instead of providing my own grenadine recipe, I’m supplying you with the best one I’ve found out there from bartender and cocktalian whiz Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s blog here. It is easy and delicious. Can’t beat that!
(Makes 4 Glasses)
2 oz Homemade Grenadine
1.5 oz Ginger Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
32 oz Club Soda
4 Natural Maraschino Cherries
In a pitcher, mix the syrups, juice and soda over ice. Pour into 4 glasses. Enjoy!
If you DO want to booze this up, you can easily add a few ounces of your favorite spirit. White rum is especially good with this flavor combo. You can also go a little easier on the grenadine and throw in some Maraschino liqueur for a sweet kick!
Rest in peace, sweet Shirley. I’m sure you’re already hoofing up a storm alongside Bill “Bojangles” Robinson on that stairway to heaven!
Tonight (in just a few short hours!), I’ll be joining Van Brunt Stillhouse, the Red Hook, Brooklyn based distillery I’ve profiled here before, at Atlantic Cellars for a spirits tasting. They will be sampling a number of their products that range from a limited edition grappa to a smooth, delicate amber-colored rum called Due North, to a variety of excellent whiskeys. I’ll be mixing up a classic cocktail tonight, using their delicious Malt Whiskey.
Alyson Thomas’ The Boulevardier featured on Drywell Art
The Boulevardier is a pre-prohibition era cocktail that is often described as a whiskey Negroni. Bourbon or rye takes the place of the gin. However, this cocktail, while not as popular, pre-dates the Negroni and the proportions can be slightly different. While the Negroni is typically made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, the Boulevardier backs off on the Campari and sweet vermouth and goes a little heavier on the spirit, with the addition of whiskey making up a part and a half or, sometimes, two parts of the cocktail. You also have the option to strain the finished cocktail over rocks or into a coupe, straight up. I tend to like my Negronis on the rocks.and my Boulevardiers straight up. Some people like their Boulevardiers with bourbon, others prefer rye but the Van Brunt Stillhouse Malt Whiskey, created entirely from malted barley and matured for nine months in American oak casks, works beautifully in this cocktail. Woodsy and spicy, with a hint of nuts and tobacco offset the herbal, bitter and sweet notes of the other ingredients. In any case, this is a perfect winter cocktail!
1.5 oz Whiskey (Van Brunt Stillhouse Malt Whiskey)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula is a favorite)
Orange peel (for garnish)
In a mixing glass filled with ice, stir all ingredients 30-40 seconds, until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with orange peel.
Come out to Atlantic Cellars tonight from 6-9pm to try some excellent, local spirits from Van Brunt Stillhouse and this winter blues fighting tipple!
Tomorrow night, 7-9pm, Quinciple and Bit By a Fox are joining forces for another cocktail event! We’ll be at the very charming Dandelion Wine in Greenpoint, Brooklyn sipping on this aromatic cocktail inspired by the winter goodies going out in Quinciple’s Valentine’s Day box next week.
Since Dandelion Wine doesn’t carry spirits, but has an excellent sherry selection, I was excited to create a cocktail using a dry sherry as a main cocktail ingredient. This fortified wine from Spain, long misunderstood and undervalued in the U.S, ranges from very sweet to bone dry and has become a favorite cocktail ingredient in the last few years behind the bars in New York and around the country. The reason? They tend to be extremely versatile, lend a different depth of flavors not found in spirits and can actually help when pairing cocktails with food. The Amontillado variety, that I’ll be using in the Rosemary, Mon Sherry cocktail, is dry (some can run sweeter) and very robust, with a nutty, almost savory quality.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this is the perfect time to get some tasty ideas for your sweetie or your sweet friends! We’ll be sampling cocktails and Quinciple treats, handing out recipe cards and discount codes. Don’t let this wintry mix dampen your spirits. Hang with us and feel the love!
Dandelion Wine 7-9pm
153 Franklin Brooklyn, NY
The Northeast (and much of the country) is in the midst of a NEVER-ENDING POLAR VORTEX OF BULLSHIT. It’s cold. Like, angry-making cold. The kind of bone chilling cold that just hurts your goddamned feelings. My extra thick, full body down comforter coat doesn’t help my self esteem. But it does help to keep out some of the pain. So does whiskey. I had decided around the holidays to go dry for January. But this soul crushing cold has had me rethinking giving up booze for the LONGEST MONTH OF THE YEAR.
I’m not gonna lie, last week, as temps dipped into the teens and single digits, I spent many a night gazing at my fully stocked bar, fixed, especially on the amber colored whiskeys. ‘Just a nip?’, I asked myself. ‘It’s 12 degrees outside!’, I’d rationalize. ‘I’m eating an enchilada!’, I’d reason. ‘Soooo thirsty!’, my inner lush whined. But, I abstained…a little longer. Until I reached that three week mark and figured, ‘fuck it, good enough!’ I had two birthday dinners and a second date that I really didn’t feel like teetotaling through. I decided that I’d make up those last eight days sometime in February. That’s a better month for a detox anyway. It’s shorter.
When I voluntarily fell off the wagon, it was into the arms of a dark, strong whiskey cocktail that I landed. And…it was ok. It wasn’t as magical as I wanted it to be. It wasn’t rainbows and unicorns in a glass, like I imagined. I mean, I managed to get it down, ok? It was drinkable. It’s just, in retrospect, I should have come out of the super sober, pink-livered gate directly to a cocktail like Dr. Dave’s ‘Scrip Pad. Now THAT is a cocktail that will sweep you off your feet. A perfect winter tipple, designed to warm your spirits, sooth your soul and make you thankful for being inside with a stiff drink in hand. I’m not saying you’ll totally embrace this eternal arctic chill that has taken over the world or anything, but this drink will help you to dislike it a little less.
Alder Restaurant’s Dr. Dave’s ‘Scrip Pad
Alder, celebrity/mad scientist chef Wylie Dufresne’s nearly year old restaurant in the East Village, seems to have a pretty solid cocktail program managed by Kevin Denton. But I wouldn’t really know since I didn’t try anything else. I only had eyes for my latest crush, a mix of Old Overholt rye, Ramazzotti Amaro, yuzu juice, and smoked maple syrup. Bam! Winter, you haven’t beaten me yet. In your face, Polar Vortex!
One of my favorite things about getting to know the ever-growing small batch, hand crafted spirits industry in this country is learning the back stories for each of the distillers involved – the road that has led them to this often risky venture and what it has taken to get to the point of finally producing quality booze in a bottle!
Myer Farm Distillery, in the heart of the Fingerlakes region in upstate New York, has only been in operation for a little over a year, but the farm itself has been in production for over 200 years. One of the largest and oldest organic farms in the Northeast, it has been in the family since 1789, making the current owners, brothers Joe and John Myer, 5th generation farmers. “From field to flask” is the farm slogan and they aren’t kidding around. Myer Farms produces a range of spirits, and all of the ingredients used to create their products, are grown on their farm. They “plant the seed and produce the spirit!”
Their award-winning London-style dry gin, distilled from 100% of the farm’s organic winter wheat, has a variety of botanicals, including juniper, coriander, cinnamon and citrus. The result is slightly floral with a hint of sweetness and a fuller, rounder body than typical London-style dry gins. This is a great gin to have on its own in a Martini or one in which you could play up the floral botanicals in a more complex cocktail. For tonight’s Quinciple event at Slope Cellars in Park Slope, Brooklyn, I decided to create a cocktail that did just that.
The Bitter Sage Cocktail employs fresh grapefruit juice, a touch of Yellow Chartreuse and sage leaves to enhance the sweet, bitter, herbal and floral components in this delicious gin. I’ve been a long time fan of Fever Tree sodas and tonics. They are all natural, not too sweet and are sufficiently effervescent. The Bitter Lemon Soda, flavored with quinine and Sicilian lemons, is probably my favorite in their line of products. It works really well with gin and grapefruit.
2 oz Myer Farm Gin
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Soda
2 Fresh Sage Leaves
Garnish – 1 sprig of sage and 1 slice of grapefruit
Muddle the 2 sage leaves at the bottom of shaker. Add the gin, Chartreuse and grapefruit juice with cracked ice. Shake for 10-12 seconds, until chilled. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass with the lemon soda. Garnish with sage sprig and grapefruit slice.
Come out to Slope Cellars tonight anytime from 7-9pm to try this delicious cocktail created especially for Myer Farm Gin and Quinciple’s gorgeous grapefruits. Quinciple, the incredible weekly, curated food subscription service, will be showing off a sample box, giving out fun treats and will offer new customers a chance to pick up a discount code to get 10% off their first month of Quinciple. Come by tonight!
Attention gin (and honey bee) lovers!
Meet your new, favorite martini ingredient:
The first time I tried Barr Hill Gin, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate this unique, Vermont made spirit. While I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious cocktail painstakingly created by one of the very capable bartenders at the Bearded Lady in Brooklyn, I didn’t realize, at the time, that the lovely, delicate flavor profile was slightly lost on me. My introduction to this gin should have been on its own. And so should yours. The reason? It’s not only incredibly enjoyable by itself, but this is really the best way to pick up on its star ingredient: raw, northern honey.
Locally sourced honey is added during a second distillation, right before bottling, and it lends so much to this London dry-style gin. The aroma is bright and floral and, not surprisingly, reminiscent of honey, fresh out of the hive. The texture is silky and round. The flavors are similar to the aromas found on the nose – floral, herbaceous and bright, with a slight sweetness. Another unusual aspect of this gin is that they only use one botanical during distillation. And it wouldn’t be gin without it – fresh juniper! You wouldn’t think it would be this complex with so few ingredients, but the honey really does impart so much. And it contrasts so beautifully with the sharp, clear juniper.
How did this bee stung gin come to be? Distiller and owner Todd Hardie has been tending bees for most of his life, starting with his first hive at his family’s farm at 12 years old. It was at that time that this magic bond with bees and honey began. And his 30 years as a commercial bee keeper forged his bond with the land, the cycles of the seasons and the rich community of farmers in the northeast. It was five years ago that the idea of creating a honey wine – mead – came to fruition. And another two before they would begin to distill gin, vodka and elderberry cordial on the banks of the Lamoille River in the Northeast Kingdom as Caledonia Spirits. And the rest is history!
I’ll be making an original cocktail just for this unique spirit tomorrow night at Atlantic Cellars from 6-9pm. We’ll also be tasting it on its own, of course. Which I highly recommend! Stop by and taste what all the buzz is about!