Here it is, guys. I’ve come up with the perfect Turkey Day tipple. Old school meets new. Wood smoke and agave meets bright citrus and tart cranberries. Put everything else away for another day. This is what you’re drinking on Thanksgiving.
If you’re a whisk(e)y and classic cocktail enthusiast, like myself, the Old Fashioned is tops. Said to be one of the first cocktail recipes on record, and the very definition of “cocktail” – spirits, bitters, water and sugar. (This first documentation of a “cocktail” in 1806 is attributed to an editor’s response to a reader’s query asking to define “cocktail” in a local newspaper in upstate New York.) An Old Fashioned is simple, strong, and to be enjoyed slowly and preferably while luxuriating in front of a raging fire…with a golden retriever nearby. It’s a masculine drink. It’s Don Draper’s drink. It’s also usually made with whiskey.
The Old Fashioned recipe is rumored to have had many incarnations, however. Some involve liqueurs like orange curaçao, and others involve the muddling of many curious fruits, but most often oranges and cherries. But, rye whiskey was the most popular base spirit in the 1800s. Therefore, our current classic-cocktail-revival-landscape dictates that it is usually rye or bourbon used in Old Fashioned cocktails nowadays. But…sometimes it’s fun to mix it up!
I’ve been looking to use the fairly new to market Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila in a cocktail for a while now. This tequila wants to be a whiskey. In order to reflect distinct whiskey qualities, this tequila is uniquely aged in traditional American Oak barrels for 12 months before being transferred into two separate, and specially toasted barrels for an additional 6 months. That time in the heavily charred and toasted oak barrels really imparts the color and qualities one would associate with a whiskey, but Hornitos Black Barrel is still very much a tequila. I enjoyed this on its own so much more than I thought I would. The black pepper, agave and oak works really well together.
For the sweet element of this version of an Old Fashioned, I used the Original Strong Tonic Syrup. This syrup is actually a perfect match for tequila, since agave nectar, in addition to cane syrup, is their sweetener.*
German based company, The Bitter Truth makes an amazing Creole Bitters. Cherry red in color, this bitters has distinct dried fruit and floral notes, with a hint of anise and spice. And cranberries! It has cranberries in it! Also, how pretty is that bottle?**
Cranberry Añejo Old Fashioned
2 oz Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
3/4 oz Original Strong Tonic Syrup*
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters**
Splash Club Soda
To Muddle: 1 large mandarin peel and 4-5 fresh cranberries
Garnish: 3 mandarin wedges and 3-4 fresh cranberries
Add the mandarin peel, cranberries, bitters and syrup to a mixing glass. Muddle well. Add the tequila and splash of club soda and fill with ice. Stir mixture until well chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned or rocks glass. Garnish with skewered cranberries and mandarin wedges.
* If you’re unable to find Strong Tonic where you are, you can substitute 1/2 oz maple syrup or agave nectar.
** If you’re unable to find The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters where you are, you can use Peychaud’s Bitters or another aromatic bitters.
CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS WITH SAVEUR
On Saturday, December 13th SAVEUR will be hosting a one-day holiday bonanza at Astor Center in New York City where the food and drink obsessed can…
From 11am until 7pm there will be a selection of intimate sessions led by some of New York’s top culinary talent. Classes include: Scotch Cocktails with Dev Johnson from Employees Only, Craft Cocktails by Chris Wertz and Peter Fornatale, Authors of Brooklyn Spirits, His-and-Hers Wine Tasting from The NoMad and The Breslin, Fancy Desserts with Del Posto’s Brooks Headley, Portuguese Cuisine with Aldea’s George Mendes, Hanukkah Brunch with Black Seed Bagel’s Eli Sussman, and many more. Seats are limited in their learning sessions so be sure to reserve soon!
A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to SAVEUR’s charity partner, Citymeals-on-Wheels.
Check out SAVEUR’S events page for ticket sale information, as well as Learn class descriptions and schedule, a round-up of Shop purveyors, and Taste selections.
And, look out for me during the evening session, 5-7pm, shopping, drinking and eating my face off! Bring on the holidays!
I kind of hate to admit it, because I like to think of myself as a free-spirited, anything-goes type of person, but the truth is I’m a rule follower. It gratifies the Virgo in me to know that there is some order to the universe. For instance, if there is a line forming at a checkout counter and some wise guy decides to create another one or sneakily jumps the line entirely, I’m usually the first one to speak up. Yep, I’m that person. “There are rules here, guy!”
There are, of course, exceptions to a lot of rules, but I’m of the mind that it is only when you know the rules inside and out that you are allowed to break them. Take, for example, shaken martinis. People certainly have a lot of opinions about whether or not to shake or stir a martini. Why? Because shaking a martini goes against the rules of cocktail making. But if James Bond likes them shaken, they can’t be all that bad.
So what are the rules of shaking and stirring a cocktail, anyway?
To get the full story as well as recipes for a classic shaken and stirred cocktail, head on over to eHow. I’m now officially contributing boozy content to that incredibly helpful site! Need to know how to string a guitar, frost a cake or know when to shake or stir your cocktail?? eHow is a pretty great resource for just about anything! Check it out, share, tweet and LOVE!
If you’ve never had the chance to sidle up to the curvy swervy, beyond sexy bar at Manhattan’s Employees Only, and witness the beautiful precision and dance that occurs on the other side of that gorgeous slab of wood, and experience everything it takes to create a single drink made purely for your enjoyment, you are truly missing out, my cocktail lovers. Part of me does envy those of you who have yet to experience this; because that first time is like no other. And you’ll never forget it. Or…you might, depending on how many drinks you pour down your gullet.
Employees Only is considered to be one of the best bars in the world. It is a pretty special place. But if it’s your first time, make sure you go early in the week and earlier in the night. You’re more likely to have the chance to chat up one of the handsome blokes decked out in chefs jackets behind the bar, pore over the carefully curated menu, reflect on that perfectly balanced creation in front of you, and savor it for as long as possible. Most likely, however, that cocktail will disappear much faster than you expected. And that quiet reflection won’t last long. Because that place gets turnt! Even on a Tuesday night. It may start out as an elegant and sedate speakeasy. But that well-mannered atmosphere is guaranteed to turn on a dime. The mood and temperature gets elevated a few drinks in and a few people deep. Something hypnotic happens when that pressed-tin ceiling heats up, the psychic in the front starts doling out some real world wisdom and the 80s tunes are on blast. The inhabitants crammed inside that railroad style bar all start to feel like they’re on the ride of their lives. THIS is a night to remember. If you can. It’s no wonder people often get lucky after spending a night at Employees Only. This bar is made for “connecting” with your fellow neighbor…if you know what I mean.
A huge part of why a night at EO can be so damned enjoyable can be attributed to those dapper dans behind the bar. They may be having more fun than you are. This place is their stage and this is where they shine. One of their brightest stars right now is principal bartender, Steve Schneider. Check out this beautiful video in the Bacardi Untameable Series about how bartending at EO literally helped to save his life.
Steve’s story is an inspiring one. So much so that he ended up being one of two bartenders profiled in last year’s, Hey Bartender, a movie about the re-emergence of the craft cocktail, and the folks behind it. Beyond the inspiring story of a former marine who comes back from near death to become an international bar superstar, Steve is the real deal – a dynamite bartender, well respected in the community and sweet as pie.
While I’ve frequented EO since their opening ten years ago and Steve and I both live in New York, I hadn’t formally met him until we both were on a private island in Puerto Rico last weekend.
No, we weren’t taking part in some debaucherous reality show, although, the abundance of booze, beautiful people and cameras might tell you differently as the party footage slowly emerges; We were there for a little thing you might know something about from my giddy hashtag abuse on social media last week – a gigantic music and rum event set in the tropics called the Bacardi Triangle. The night we met was the last night of the event and he had just finished helping to set up all of the bars on Palomino Island that would service a crowd of 1,862 guests. It should also be noted that he capped off each night that week working the after party until 5am. Needless to say, this dude didn’t get many zzzs in those 5 days. But I have a feeling he’s a little used to this kind of schedule, crowds and hard work. This is someone who loves what he does. He actually seemed energized by the whole thing.
Steve and I had a chance to connect again three days later, this time, in his “home”, Employees Only. While he would only be there for a day or so before he was to jet off to his next international bartending adventure, he made it clear that this is where his heart was. This is the place where he was reborn after a life threatening injury put his military career on hold. This is the place where he served and charmed filmmaker Douglas Tirola, who then put him in a starring role in his documentary, Hey Bartender. And this is where he plans to stay until he eventually opens up his own place down the road.
Since we had just come off of this fantastical rum-infused adventure in Puerto Rico, it was only appropriate that we continue the theme. Steve made me one of his signature, award-winning Bacardi cocktails, Signal Fire.
This is a fantastic cocktail with Bacardi Heritage Rum, pineapple-honey-pink peppercorn syrup, pineapple juice, lime and Hellfire Bitters. It’s got a kick and is surprisingly not too sweet. It can also be recreated at home pretty easily. Steve was kind enough to share the recipe!
2 oz Bacardi Heritage
1 oz honey syrup (2:1)
3/4 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
3 dashes Hellfire Bitters
3 pink peppercorns
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker, shake until chilled, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a dusting of pink peppercorns.
Thank you, Steve, for taking time out of your regular booze slinging, globe-trotting calendar to hang out and fix me a drink! And letting me get my hands on one of those signature ice hammers! Look out for a custom line of these suckers in the coming year. How else are you going to crush your ice and feel like a powerful Norse god?!
I look forward to returning soon for one of those epic Employees Only nights. Maybe I’ll bring someone who’s never been…
Hey, New Yorkers! Are you as excited as me about the Autumnal explosion that has unleashed itself all around us? And all of the yummy flavors that go along with this season? Do you like to support neighborhood businesses and local booze makers? Do you want to take your cocktail skillz and holiday entertaining to the next level? Are you into free cocktails and ALSO the idea of hanging out with me for an afternoon?? That’s a silly question, I’m sorry. Of COURSE YOU ARE. Well, this Saturday you can have the chance to get a big dose of all of those things! Learn some of my favorite cocktails to make this time of year AND try them out. For FREE! It’s true!
Beloved neighborhood wine & spirits shop, Brooklyn Wine Exchange, has been hosting wine and spirits tastings as well as cocktail classes, in their beautiful back room for a number of years now. They host weekly, free classes that seat up to 40 people, and are also offering a series of classes that get more in depth, for a fee. I’ll be teaching one of these series in January. And I’m pretty excited. But I wanted to do a free class to introduce myself to the store’s regular clientele, recruit some new faces, and warm up for that series in a few months! Check it out:
This afternoon, Prairie will present flavors, spices and spirits of the season, and mix up several tasty “Harvest Cocktails” which will highlight New York distillers and seasonal ingredients from local sources. The class will also serve as an introduction for Prairie’s four part cocktail series beginning in January here at Brooklyn Wine Exchange.
I’d LOVE to see some of my Foxy Friends this Saturday. The class starts at 4pm and all you have to do is show up thirsty. For knowledge and cocktails. Well, for delicious cocktails, mostly. I can guarantee at least that!
If you’d like to attend, please email Spirits Director, Kyle Devine at email@example.com.
Halloween is just around the corner, you guys! We’re now in the final countdown. Are you ready? Are you surrounded by expertly carved jack-o-lanterns? Have you been celebrating all week in sexy hazmat suits? (please, no) Are you looking for a delicious Halloween cocktail that doesn’t involve candy corn? (please, yes!)
This cocktail, The Devil’s Bet, is a version of one I was making at the Phoenicia Flea a few weeks ago in order for people to try the coffee cocktail syrup. I love whisk(e)y and a sparkling hard cider together. And I was making this cocktail to demonstrate the versatility of coffee as a cocktail ingredient. The coffee syrup in this drink adds a rich and aromatic nuttiness. A perfect flavor for the colder seasons and great with brown spirits. People might not think to put these unexpected flavors together – Scotch whisky, coffee, cider & lemon - but it works really well.
It’s also CIDER WEEK and I wanted to have a cocktail using a locally produced hard cider. I discovered this Rebel Reserve sparkling hard cider a few weekends ago during a day trip up to the Hudson Valley. After a hike cut short by inclement weather, we (pretty quickly) decided to change plans and take a tasting tour of the Brotherhood Winery, the oldest operating winery in America, instead! I highly recommend the next time you go on a hike and you’re just not feeling it, to take a winery tour and tasting instead. We were pretty happy with our decision. That mountain will still be there next weekend!
I was also pretty excited to use Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition in this cocktail. Cutty Sark has always been an easy-drinking, lighter style blended Scotch whisky, different from the super smoky peat-heavy kinds most people identify Scotch with. But I think this is what makes it so great in a cocktail. A Scotch with tons of peat can be way too overwhelming in a drink with other ingredients that can’t compete. This new-ish release has taken notes from its prohibition past, with a beautiful sleek black bottle and a much higher proof than its usual 80 proof, coming in at 100 proof! But the higher proof version is remarkably smooth and has a pretty complex flavor profile. Musky and sweet with caramel, wood smoke and honey notes on the nose and palate with a bit of a salty and rye spice finish. And at $30 a pop, you won’t go broke on a bottle. Also, not gonna lie, the retro style design of the bottle is pretty damned sexy. Hellooo, Cutty Pro!
The Devil’s Bet
2 1/2 oz Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition
1 oz Coffee Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3-4 oz Sparkling Hard Dry Apple Cider
Lemon Wheel for garnish
Add the whisky, syrup and lemon juice to an ice-filled shaker. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a highball or Collins glass filled with ice. Top with hard cider. Use a straw to mix well.
Picked at random, Robin, who is new to the Bit by a Fox blog, will be getting a box of her very own cocktail syrups, with recipes to match! Congrats, Robin! Contact me at prose@bitbyafox to claim your prize and send your address and we’ll get these goodies off to you, stat!
Since she mentioned that she was planning on getting a cocktail night together with her friends, these might come in handy. I suspect Denver will get a whole lot boozier in the coming weeks!
Thank you to everyone who participated! By the way, it was so nice engaging with people in the comments section this week. Let’s do that more often! I foresee a lot more giveaways coming down the pike…Have a wonderful weekend!
I talk about the weather a lot on this blog. And it really does make sense, because I like to create (and drink) cocktails according to the seasons. So, I’m not just rambling on about nonsense, people. But also, I’m a New Yorker…and that’s what we do. We live in a place of extremes. We’re constantly talking about it, mostly in short spurts; in elevators with strangers, to our doormen, the corner Bodega guy, our cabbie. We schvitz, we gripe, we blame the humidity, we bitch about the a.c., the wind “cuts right through” us, and the winter never seems to end. But in the beginning, we usually revel the shift in seasons. Especially FALL.
I think we all can agree that fall is the best. We like to talk about that too. About how great the cool, crisp air feels, and how the garbage doesn’t hardly smell because of it! Also, about all the new foods we can make and eat and the clothes we can finally wear…to hide our cooler weather weight gain. We will flood your Instagram feed with colorful foliage and pumpkin spiced everything, and eat outside, shivering under a broken heat lamp until the cafés won’t serve us there anymore. It’s a fleeting time and New Yorkers really do try to get the most out of it. Because, winter. But luckily, this year, we’ve been having one of those unseasonably warm autumns. Not too warm, to make us forget what season it is. But, just right. Like, we can still eat dinner outside with a sweater or jacket on and get an ever-so-slight chill that is quickly quelled by an upturned collar or an extra tuck of a scarf and then is completely vanquished by the steaming, hot butternut squash soup that gets placed before you. I’m pretty sure this is what it means to have an “Indian Summer”. And I never want it to end.
This drink was inspired by this Indian Summer we seem to be having. Gin is often associated with summer, but the Bombay Sapphire East, infused with Vietnamese black peppercorn and Thai lemongrass, lends an exotic, any-season quality to a cocktail. I’ve been wanting to use limoncello in a recipe ever since my travels through Italy this past summer and I’ve since gotten my hands on one of the most popular ones coming out of The Boot: Limoncello di Capri. I thought this might be my last chance in a while to use this sunny ingredient. And, since I had decided to make rose hip syrup for the Phoenicia Flea a few weekends ago, I thought the tart and tangy flavor of this syrup would work beautifully in a gimlet with these other ingredients…
And rose hips are very much of the season! While I’ve used these little fruits in dried form, this happens to be rose hip harvesting season. In the UK, and other parts of the world, people often stock up on these little beauties to ward off colds in the winter because of their high level of Vitamin C - 20 x more than oranges! They have a wonderful tea-like quality and in the Indian Summer cocktail, the acidity helps to bring out the botanicals in the gin and is a great match for the limoncello.
Indian Summer Gimlet
2 1/2 oz Bombay Sapphire East Gin
1/4 oz Limoncello di Capri
3/4 oz Rose Hip Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake until the outside of the shaker is ice cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
To make this cocktail, you’ll need rose hip syrup, of course. You can either make it yourself, OR you can enter to win two bottles of Bit by a Fox Rose Hip Cocktail Syrups! To enter the contest, simply write in the comments section below your absolute favorite thing(s) about fall where ever YOU are! And I’ll pick a winner by the end of the week. That’s it! Easy as pumpkin pie! ← One of MY favorite things about fall!
Check out our spectacular fall weekend in the Catskills last week!
Could that montage be any more autumnal?! Can’t you just smell the wood smoke in your scarf, hear the crunchy leaves underfoot and taste the hot, spiced apple cider and whiskey cocktails I was concocting?? If you weren’t transported by that explosion of earth tones and woodsy landscapes, I’ll break it down for you….
This was our cute set up for the Phoenicia Flea! Prizes For Arla and Bit by a Fox joined forces to create our own little, fashionably boozy corner: The Foxes Den.
We were a little worried about the weather right before the weekend, because our stupid iPhones were predicting a dump of rain on us all day Saturday. But after a little sprinkling during the set-up in the morning, the sun came out and remained there the entire weekend. The sky was bright and clear, the air was cool, and everyone was thrilled to be there – vendors, locals and weekenders alike!
If you hadn’t read last week’s post, you might not be clued into what I was doing up in this charming town, other than soaking in my favorite season. I was making cocktails, of course!
But I was also selling seasonal cocktail syrups that I usually make this time of year to go into those yummy cocktails…so people can make their own at home!
There were cocktail recipe cards from the blog for each of the syrups – Coffee, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Ginger & Rose Hip - for people to take with them.
I was also mixing some of those seasonal tipples up for people to try, including a hot version of Whiskey & Spice & Everything Nice.
There were also a couple of cocktails created especially for the Phoenicia Flea last weekend! Like the Indian Summer Gimlet with Rose Hip Syrup, Bombay Sapphire East and Limoncello…and, a yet-to-be named tipple with Coffee Syrup, sparkling hard cider, bourbon and lemon. I’ll be posting recipes for both of these cocktails in the next week. So, look out for those AND a cocktail syrup giveaway! We had an amazing weekend so I only have a few bottles left, but I’d LOVE to give them to my readers so they can concoct their own boozy, fall delights!
Thank you, The Graham & Co, Phoenicia Flea, and our uber charming host and man of moving parts, James for having us! We met the most delightful vendors, spent some of our hard-earned cash on beautiful hand-made goods, and had the best time. We hope to do it again next spring!
Many of these photos are courtesy of the unofficial third member of the Foxes Den, the very talented Morgan Visconti
This up-coming weekend, October 11th & 12th, Bit by a Fox will be taking part in the Phoenicia Flea Makers Market in one of my favorite little towns in the Catskills! I’ll be sharing a booth with the vintage treasure trove Prizes For Arla. So, naturally, our booth is called The Foxes Den! I’ll be selling seasonal cocktail syrups, shaking up some fall tipples and handing out recipes next to PFA’s handmade leather goods and foxy finds. If you happen to be heading up to that neck of the woods next weekend, or are considering a Catskills get-away, be sure to stop by The Foxes Den at the Phoenicia Flea! Have a drink, buy some stuff and check out all of the other amazing vendors.
The Graham & Co. is pleased to announce the return of the Phoenicia Flea Makers Market to kick off the fall holiday season. We invited a well edited group of artisans to join us on our hotel property in celebration of small business and local trade. It will be the very best the region has to offer in handcrafted food, drink, confection, jewelry, accessories, apothecary, housewares, vintage and more. Straw and Gold will be there on both October 11th and 12th with artists and makers from the S&G family. Come shop, drink, eat and enjoy the Catskills!