BBaF Podcast Episode 87: The Vice Wine with Malek Amrani

Listen to Episode 87: The Vice Wine with Malek Amrani

For this week’s episode on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, I spoke with Malek Amrani, entrepreneur, sommelier, and founder of The Vice Wine, a small batch Napa Valley wine label that’s been getting a lot of attention since its launch a few years back.

Malek and I discussed his journey from Moroccan teenager landing in New York, to his very early start in drinks business, and balancing his life as wine maker and business owner with a passion for Triathlons and physical fitness.

BBaF Podcast Episode 86: LiveWire Drinks with Aaron Polsky

Listen to Episode 86: LiveWire Drinks with Aaron Polsky

This week, we have is a bonus episode on the Bit by a Fox Podcast because our friend – bartender, cocktail rockstar, frequent Bit by a Fox Podcast guest, Aaron Polsky – is on the cusp of launching a super exciting craft cocktail business.

What happens when you structure a drinks business like a record label – highlighting the talent in the industry and their creations versus the brand itself? That’s what Aaron wants to do with his ready to drink canned cocktails LiveWire Drinks, working with some of the most acclaimed bartenders around the world, and bottling their genius for the masses. 

Check out the bartenders featured in this first round of LiveWire Drinks, launching in March 2020. All photos taken by Doron Gild.

BBaF Podcast Episode 85: Mezcal & Bar Caló with Jeremy Simpson

Listen to Episode 85: Mezcal & Bar Caló with Jeremy Simpson

This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast we are talking all things Mezcal – the wild and smoky, and often misunderstood cousin of tequila. 

My guest is Jeremy Simpson, the General Manager and Beverage Director at Bar Caló, an acclaimed mezcaleria, cocktail bar, and restaurant in the heart of Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood.

Leading Bar Caló’s mezcal heavy bar program, which features over seventy different mezcals Mfocused on small producers and Mexican owned palenques, has made a mezcal expert out of Jeremy, as well as a passionate advocate of small batch agriculture and time-honored traditional techniques.

Join us as we dive into this extraordinary Mexican-made agave spirit. 

This week’s featured cocktail is Jeremy Simpson’s Aqua del Rancho currently featured at Bar Caló in Los Angeles: 

Aqua del Rancho
Rayu Espadin Mezcal
lime juice
Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters
Bottle of Topo Chico 
sprig of mint 

Open Topo Chico, dump out 2 1/2 ounces, in the bottle add 1/2 ounce of fresh lime juice, 2 ounces of mezcal, 4-5 dashes of cherry bitters, add mint garnish and long straw, and enjoy!

Photographs by Stan Lee

A Cocktail for the New Year, New You: Pom 20/20

How did this happen? We are well into the new year and I’m still mentally preparing the resolutions I’d like to make! (stop procrastinating should be one of them, eh?)

Last year I made a whole vision board with some of my biggest inspirations, tacked it up on my wall, and eyeballed it every night before drifting off to snoozeville, hoping it would all somehow come together through osmosis. I even started journaling again. I live in LA, people. This is what we doooo. I had goals and I was determined to actualize them. I kicked it all off with a “Dry January” and healthy eating plan.

This year, I feel so far behind. My Christmas decorations were up entirely too long, it took me until recently to fully unpack from vacation, and I certainly have not been “dry” nor particularly healthy since the calendar shifted to 2020. That journal hasn’t been touched in a while and there is NOT a vision board pinned to my wall, reminding me to stay the course. My holiday indulgences have somehow crept into January. But I keep telling myself – “It’s not too late!”

It’s not! There’s always so much pressure this time of year to get it all together. But I actually think in order to really stay the course, you have to do it in your own time. January is a long month. And so it’s actually the perfect time to ease into what it is you want your year…and your life, for that matter, to look like. 

For instance, I’d like to cut down my booze and sugar intake. If you’re anything like me, you may have embraced the “Treat Yo’Self” spirit of the holidays and really treated yo’self in excess. No judgement. It’s sort of what this time of year is about. I know that I’m not going to eliminate all of my favorite vices entirely overnight, or even this month, but I’d love to take steps to make it easier to pull back. One of my tactics is creating yummy alternatives that I can feel good about. 

Reed’s Zero Extra Ginger Beer makes things a little easier. Having partnered with Reed’s Ginger Beer over the course of these last 6 months, I’ve had a chance to really get to know their entire product line-up. I was a fan of their all-natural, super-spicy ginger beer well before working with them, and was excited to try and work with some of their new, recently launched products. Surprisingly, one of my favorites has been their sugar free ginger beer. It has the same fresh ginger spice and familiar flavor profile as their other expressions but doesn’t have the additional sugar. Most importantly, it doesn’t taste like a sugar free product – most likely because they have a proprietary blend of natural sweeteners, including monk fruit and stevia. Whatever it is, it works! 

The Pom 20/20 cocktail with Reed’s Zero Extra Ginger Beer is a great booze-free and sugar-free alternative to the boozy sugar bombs you may have been imbibing over the holidays. It’s also a nod to the new year, fresh starts and seeing into the future with 20/20 vision! I’ve used pomegranates before in a new year’s cocktail, and I like the tradition. Not only are pomegranates a superfood with a ton of health benefits, according to the Greeks, they are luck fruit, and in many cultures they represent life, fertility, prosperity and health. 

Cheers to a new year, and a new you in however much time you need to get there!

Pom 20/20
2 oz Pomegranate Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp orange extract
pinch of sea salt
Reed’s Zero Extra Ginger Beer
Garnish: Pomegranate Seeds

In an ice-filled shaker add juice, extract and salt. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and top with Zero Extra Ginger Beer. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

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

BBaF Podcast Episode 84: General Lee’s Cocktail House, LA’s Historic Chinatown

Listen to Episode 84: General Lee’s Cocktail House, LA’s Historic Chinatown

What do Frank Sinatra, Awkwafina, LA’s pioneering punk rock scene & craft cocktails all have in common? They all have a connection to LA’s historic General Lee’s Cocktail House in Chinatown.  

On the cusp of the Chinese New Year kicking off tomorrow, this week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast we are taking a deep dive into one of the oldest family owned establishments in Los Angeles, originally opened by the Lee family in Old Chinatown in the late 1800s.  

Lee family photo
Lee family photo

There is now 6 generations of the Lee Family, and Sharon Lee, one of this week’s guests, is here to talk about her family’s legacy as pioneers of LA’s Chinatown and the founders of the original General Lee’s Restaurant – one of the most glamorous destinations at the time. 

Menu design
Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins
Interior General Lee’s Cocktail House
Sharon Lee’s mother, Yuki

Jim Akimoto, General Lee’s Managing Partner, also joins us to speak on the history of General Lee’s and Chinatown, his connection to the place as a kid, and how they decided to preserve the legacy of General Lee’s. Philip Ly, head bartender, also joins us to speak on the current cocktail program at General Lee’s, and the planned Lunar Year celebrations this upcoming week.

This week’s featured cocktail is General Lee’s special cocktail for the Chinese New Year: One Lucky Buck by head bartender, Philip Ly.

One Lucky Buck 
1.5 oz Ming River Baijiu
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz ginger syrup
2 dash sichuan pepper tincture 

Shake and strain into a Collins glass 

Top ginger beer
2 dsh Angostura bitters
2 dsh peychauds bitters on top 
Mint sprig garnish

BBaF Podcast Episode 83: Diplomático Rum

Listen to Episode 83: Diplomático Rum

This week, I’m kicking off the third(!) season of the Bit by a Fox Podcast with one one of my all time favorites –  Diplomático Rum from Venezuela. I spoke with Master Distiller Nelson Hernández as well as National Brand Ambassador Emmanuel Pena about what makes Diplomático so special, the radical sustainability efforts that have been implemented throughout their community, and how the business is able to successfully navigate in the midst of a country in turmoil.   

This week’s featured cocktail is a Watermelon Daiquiri with Diplomático Planas White Rum:

Watermelon Daiquiri
2 oz Watermelon Juice
2 oz Diplomático Planas White Rum
1/2 oz Simple syrup
1 oz Lime juice
watermelon garnish 

Pour all ingredients into shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain in chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a watermelon wedge.

The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Austin Hennelly

Listen to The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Austin Hennelly

This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast…

…we’re closing out the year (and our second season!) with our last interview in the second chapter of the Bartender Interview Series, The Master Blend – a collaboration with BERTOUX Brandy.

This week’s guest is Austin Hennelly, Head Bartender and the man behind the cocktails at David Chang’s first Los Angeles restaurant – Majordomo.

Austin moved out LA two years ago to open the restaurant after working at some of the most iconic bars in New York City – Dave Arnold’s experimental Booker & Dax, the little bitter jewel, Amor Y Amargo, and the James Beard Award winning Maison Premiere.

This week’s featured cocktail recipe is Hennelly’s Grasshopper cocktail with BERTOUX Brandy, currently a secret off-the-menu item at Majordomo in Los Angeles.

1 oz Tempus Fugit creme de cacao 
1 oz Tempus Fugit creme de menthe
1 oz Bertoux brandy 
2 oz Pistachio mix* 

Build ingredients in a tulip glass. Fill glass with crushed ice and swizzle until cold. Garnish with an abundance of mint and two straws.  

*Pistachio mix: 
1 package jello brand pistachio pudding 
3 cans Thai coconut milk
50 grams miso 

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. 

All photographs taken by Eugene Lee

The Ginger Snap with Reed’s Extra Ginger Beer

It literally juuuuust kicked in. The holiday spirit, that is. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m gonna catch it – like a dreamy, sparkly flu. 

I think maybe this is the year I don’t strategically place tinsel trees all over the house, or want to listen to the Wham!’s Last Christmas on loop, or obsess about the coziness of it all. And then, ding! I wake up humming some Bing Crosby song and craving all the holiday things. This year, I’ve caught a serious case of seasonal cheer!

Truth be told, I had to excavate my Christmas decorations for this cocktail photo shoot a few weeks ago, and that is what really planted the yuletide seed. It was well before Thanksgiving, but it has been the perfect amount of time to get that holiday spirit brewing.

And now that it’s almost time for Santa’s moment to shine, imma set that Spotify to “Mariah”, and mainline ALL the Vanessa Hudgens holiday cannon on Netflix – all while sipping on something spicy and boozy and sweet…like the Ginger Snap!

As a cocktail recipe partner with Reed’s Ginger Beer, I wanted to create a seasonal twist on a dark ‘n stormy by including all the flavors we crave this time of year – spiced rum, ginger, and cinnamon. Keeping it simple and delicious but a little special for the holidays.

If this drink doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, I don’t know what will. You may just be immune to it all. As a cocktail doctor, my prescription would be to make two of these and call me in the morning. Happy Holidays!

Ginger Snap
2 oz Spiced Rum
1/3 oz Cinnamon Syrup*
1/2 oz Lemon Juice 
Reed’s Extra Ginger Beer
Garnish: Cinnamon Stick

In a shaker tin add the rum, syrup and lemon juice and shake over ice until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass, top with Reed’s Extra Ginger Beer, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

*Cinnamon Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir while lowering to a medium heat and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Let completely cool and double strain. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a month. This syrup can be used in a mulled wine recipe, winter sangria, and to spice up all of your holiday cocktails.

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

BBaF Podcast Episode 81: Dan Dunn – OG Booze Writer

Listen to Episode 81: Dan Dunn – OG Booze Writer”

For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast I’m talking to friend and journalist Dan Dunn – one of the OG booze writers, before the craft cocktail scene was even a thing!

We talked about everything from those early days, hanging with cocktail legends and trying a Negroni for the first time, to his notorious Playboy column “The Imbiber”, what it’s like to turn his life into a TV show, and his new podcast What We’re Drinking with Dan Dunn.

This week’s featured cocktail is one we sipped during the interview, created by Liam Odien from LA’s The Corner Door:

Lion OG 
2 oz Jack Daniels Rye
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz OJ
1 oz of brown-butter honey syrup* 
a sprig of sage  

Place all ingredients including the sage in the shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain it into a cocktail glass or bong – if you have it, and smoke with applewood and a smoking gun.

*For the brown butter syrup take 3 parts honey to one part water to one part brown butter and blend it until it’s emulsified 

The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Aaron Michael Siak

Listen to The Master Blend: A Bartender Series – Aaron Michael Siak

This week, we’re continuing our Bartender Interview Series, The Master Blend – a collaboration with BERTOUX Brandy.

This week’s guest is Aaron Michael Siak, bar director at Bibo Ergo Sum in Los Angeles.

We spoke about Aaron’s career change at 29 from public accounting to fine dining, his discovery of craft cocktails at The Franklin Bar in Philadelphia, and his journey from Philly to LA.

This week’s featured cocktail is Siak’s BERTOUX Brandy cocktail currently being served at Bibo Ergo Sum: ‘TELLE ME ABOUT IT 

1 dash absinthe
2 dash orange bitters
4 dash Peychauds bitters
3/4 oz lime juice
1 oz celery syrup
1/2 tsp Hamilton Pimento Dram Liqueur
1 tsp Batavia arrack 
1/4 oz Uruapan Charanda Blanco Rum
1 1/2 oz BERTOUX Brandy 

Add ingredients to cocktail shaker and shake over ice. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with tonic, and garnish with fresh mint.

All photographs taken by Eugene Lee

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