Gone Glamping!

glamping

image via

I’ve got camping on the brain. In just a few short hours, this New Yorker will be hitting the road for rural Pennsylvania to commune with nature for an entire weekend. It’s true! We’ll be grilling various things outdoors, sitting around an absurdly large bonfire and sleeping under the stars, like you do. That’s camping, guys! And trying to avoid bears. I’m into seeing them from a distance but don’t come knocking on my tent, guy. To be fair, this is a rather glamorous version of camping. I mean, there’s a pizza oven on the property, a docking station for smart phones and even a Porta Potty not too far from camp. And last year, we had an unbelievable fireworks show that made me feel like I was in a movie version of my life. Because I had such an amazing experience last year, I wanted to contribute something that the rest of the group could enjoy. So…booze.

But, what to make for a large group of people with varying tastes? That is the magic question. Too bad I can’t bring this Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Woody Trailer with me. But alas, $150,000 is a lot of clams for a once a year excursion!

Bulleitt Bourbon Woodie TailgaterSince it’s still National Bourbon Heritage Month and we WILL be celebrating this beautiful land, America’s “Native Spirit” should be represented, right? I was also thinking of a shandy type drink since beer will be a popular bevvy…and whatever I make shouldn’t be too serious. Alright, I better figure it out! I still have to pack my camping outfits! Let me know if you have any brilliant ideas! I’ll check back in after the weekend to share my results. Bonfire Brew, here we come!

Cocktail Tasting: Walking On Sunshine!

Tomorrow, Saturday September 20th, from 4-6pm, we’ll be tasting the Walking On Sunshine cocktail at Tipsy in Brooklyn.

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It’s only three days until fall is officially here and I don’t know about you all but I feel like…I’m walking on sunshine! Whoa, yeah. And don’t it feel good?

All right now.

For serious, this summer-straddling-fall weather in New York is the MOTHEREFFING BEST. I’m pretty much taking every opportunity I can to rub it in the faces of everyone I know in Southern California (where they are having a horrible heat wave and drought), not because I’m a garbage person, but because… c’mon! We never get to brag about the weather here. Give us that. I mean, fall is our jam! The northeast does exploding Autumnal gorgeousness like nobody’s business. But we’re not quite there yet. We’re just in that heavenly limbo of slightly cooler days and crisper nights and never-ending, amber-hued sunshine-y sunshine. I moved to NYC from the west coast in the middle of a glorious month of September. And I’ll never forget it. The city wooed me hardcore. And those perfect first few weeks sealed the deal on my torrid love affair with the place. If I had moved just a month earlier, during the dog days of August or just a few months after, when the bone chilling cold starts to set in, who knows where I might have ended up? I mean, no one moves to New York for the weather…but I like to think that this city eased me into it’s clutches in order to trap me forever and ever. Because, that’s sort of romantic, right??

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This is also the time of year that I start dreaming up whiskey cocktails. And, luckily, I had few fun excuses to come up with this bourbon/prosecco/hibiscus mash-up, that is basically September sunshine in a glass…

WOS tonic decanter logoI’m super excited to announce that effective immediately, I’ll be participating in a sort of cocktail residency with the Strong Tonic folks out in Oklahoma City. These new, hand crafted tonics are not only delicious, but are made with all-natural ingredients and were inspired by and created for forward thinking cocktails – the kind of new-fangled tipples that show up on this here blog all the time! As well as the classics. So, I’ll be creating an original cocktail, once a month using their yummy products and then will feature the recipes here. I’ll also keep you updated on any new products from them coming down the pike. As you might have noticed, this is not the first time Strong Tonic has appeared on this site. And it won’t be the last!

WOS above close logoSo, in honor of this most perfect time of year, the cocktail tasting tomorrow at Tipsy, my love of Four Roses Bourbon and the first official Bit by a Fox cocktail for Strong Tonic, I’ve created Walking On Sunshine! Think of this cocktail like that favorite light jacket of yours that you can finally wear during that in-between time of summer and fall.

The Hibiscus Tonic, prosecco and lemon juice keeps this cocktail bright, floral and citrus-y, with some caramel, warm spice and woodsy notes coming from the Four Roses Bourbon to help usher in Fall!

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Walking on Sunshine 
2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
3/4 oz Hibiscus Strong Tonic
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 tsp Agave Syrup
1 oz Prosecco
lemon peel garnish

Add the bourbon, tonic, lemon juice and agave syrup to an ice-filled shaker. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a large, ice-filled rocks glass and top with about an ounce of Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon peel.

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#PRoseBdayBarnBash

#prosebdaybarnbash barn

#prosebdaybarnbash bar day

#prosebdaybarnbash t&pr

#prosebdaybarnbash cake tif

It’s been over two weeks since my last post, and I honestly don’t have a good excuse. The only thing that I can really claim right now is a small case of…blog fatigue. Is that a thing? Well, that coupled with a gigantic side of laziness. Also…True Detective. I willingly got sucked into that brilliant creep-show, and you know how that goes. Next thing I know my constructive Sunday night gets sabotaged by my never-ending jones for just one more episode and suddenly it’s 2-ish in the morning and I’ve screwed my entire week. Not to mention, I’m for sure going to have dirty, McConaughey-shaped nightmares until the Mindy Project starts back up. And not in a good way.

On the flip side, one of the other reasons I am a little more burned out than usual is that I’ve been a part of some amazing events lately. One of them was a beautiful wedding in Brooklyn (my first!) that I designed cocktails for (pics to come soon!) and another was a big birthday gathering in the Catskills area of Upstate New York…that I threw for myself! haha. I’m pretty into birthdays, you guys. Especially my own! And this one was pretty special. Soooo, since there were some amazing photogs in the group who captured the magical weekend so well, I thought I’d share some of my favorite shots. Who doesn’t want to look at pretty pictures of a big, beautiful barn in the trees with twinkly lights?? And cake! Cakes in many forms! And to make this relevant to this boozy blog, there was a weekend cocktail, of course!

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…well, many cocktails, duh.

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…and plenty of rosé! It was Labor Day weekend. Our last summer hurrah!

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And, did I mention twinkly lights?!

#prosebdaybarnbash barn lights

#prosebdaybarnbash barn night

#prosebdaybarnbash games above

#prosebdaybarnbash deck

#prosebdaybarnbash dinner tableALL of the twinkly lights.

There was also a pizza oven in the middle of the barn. Some people found this hilarious. The rest of us found it very delicious.

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Apparently, one can also cook two whole chickens in a pizza oven! And if Bryan is manning the stove, they will turn out beautifully.

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#prosebdaybarnbash dinner

The birthday cakes came in many forms…(I DID have a 9 year old birthday buddy sharing these cakes with me over the weekend, BTW. I don’t make weird cake demands, people!)

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#prosebdaybarnbash teri cake

#prosebdaybarnbash cupcakes

It was all so heavenly. And exactly what I wanted – to be surrounded by so many of my favorite people, in one of my most favorite places in the whole world, the beautiful Catskills.

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#prosebdaybarnbash windmill

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#prosebdaybarnbash m&c

#prosebdaybarnbash mountains

#prosebdaybarnbash games

#prosebdaybarnbash r&pr

So…what was in that signature birthday cocktail, you may wonder? Well, since I had just posted the Last Drop of Summer punch the day that we got to the barn, there had been a special request for it. Which was perfect because I could easily batch a large amount and everyone could help themselves. But, because the weather upstate was already starting to feel like fall, instead of Tequila, we used equal parts Canadian whiskey. Bam! A whole new herbaceous, peach tea cocktail! I highly recommend this version.

#prosebdaybarnbash punch

Thank you for indulging me and letting me relive this special weekend with all of you…and thanks to all of the sparkly folks who made it so special! I miss the misty trees already!

#prosebdaybarnbash c&pr

Pictures taken by Tiffany of luciebelle photography, Morganyours truly.

The Last Drop of Summer

last drop of summer ingredientsYou guys! Summer is fast coming to a close. Whaaaaa happened?! I barely broke out my bathing suit, my feet hardly touched anything that resembles sand, and I didn’t eat nearly enough grilled meats al fresco. Summer, I hardly knew ye.  Every year, it’s always at this exact time, at the onset of Labor Day weekend, I try to cram as much summer-time goodness into those last remaining days.

It’s always a mixed bag at this time of year, here in the northeast. It’s either disgustingly humid or a rainy sog-fest. But we’ve been so lucky for most of August. It’s been pretty dreamy.

Last Drop of Summer James and KristineTake the other night, for instance, at a heavenly dinner under the Williamsburg Bridge at the North Brooklyn Farm – an urban farm that has transformed a vacant lot into a thriving, green space that grows actual food, that they then sell at a pick your own farm stand and also serve for a three course farm to table sunset dinner. I’ve been to a few of these dinners since they started last year and they are always pretty magical. Especially when the weather is so divine. And we couldn’t have asked for better weather. To celebrate the last few never-ending, sun-soaked days of the year, I thought we all deserved a cocktail to salute the occasion.

Last Drop of Summer AboveI knew that I wanted to use peaches and basil and, somehow incorporate the artichoke based Italian bitter liqueur, Cynar. An agave-sweetened peach tea made an excellent base for this. I also wanted a super easy drink to pre-batch for a large group…

Last Drop of Summer CannisterThe Last Drop of Summer
8 cups cooled peach or apricot tea sweetened with 4 ounce agave
1 bottle Tequila Partida Blanco
1 bottle St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
2 cups Cynar
1 cup lemon juice
2 liters club soda
3 peaches, diced
1 bunch of fresh basil

Pour the sweetened tea, tequila, liqueur and lemon juice into a large canister. Add the chopped peaches and half the basil leaves. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Ladle over ice-filled glasses, top with club soda and garnish with basil.

Last Drop of SummerLast Drop of Summer JamesLast Drop of Summer Nickie

Our hosts at the North Brooklyn Farm, Henry and Emma.

Our hosts at the North Brooklyn Farm, Henry and Emma.

So, drink in these last few days of summer. And drink this actual cocktail, The Last Drop of Summer! May all of your days and nights be filled with amazing food, great friends and spiked aromatic peach tea.

Last Drop of Summer Dinner

photos by Morgan Visconti and Prairie Rose

Summer of the Aperol Spritz

Have you heard? It’s the Summer of the Spritz!

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In Venice, the birthplace of the Aperol Spritz, they garnish with an orange slice and an olive!

Ever since I discovered the Aperol Spritz a few summers back, it has been a summer staple for me. Once Memorial Day rolls around, and the temps start creeping into steamy garbage territory in New York, my got-to is usually a Spritz. “If you Schvitz, Grab a Spritz!” That’s your catchy, new tagline, Aperol. You can thank me later. It’s so freaking light and refreshing and isn’t too boozy…soooo, you can have a couple of these delicious suckers and still keep the foxes at bay.

Cheers, Capri!

Cheers, Capri!

But the Aperol Spritz has reached a new fever pitch in my life this summer. Is it in the zeitgeist? Is it everywhere you look, too?

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Aperol Spritz! Venice waterfront! Perfecto!

Part of my obsession with the Aperol Spritz may be because I went to Italy earlier this summer and experienced this aperitivo the way it’s supposed to be experienced – as a nightly, 2-3 hour pre-dinner celebration of LIFE! Along the waterfronts, in the streets, outside cafés…

Aperitivo Hour Naples

During Aperitivo Hour in Italy, they often have specials with a little bite to eat as well!

…and, sometimes, on the streets, outside of cafés…sitting atop a parked Vespa! (OMG! So Italian! I die!)

Aperitivo Hour Cafe

Piazza Bellini in Naples

Maybe I’m just noticing the Aperol Spritz more because people in the states are finally realizing how delightful a beverage it is! Campari America rolled out a huge ad campaign, primarily through social media, for the summer called Aperol Brunch Society. For this particular campaign, targeting the states, Aperol declared its signature cocktail, the Aperol Spritz, the official drink of brunch. And it looks to be catching on…in the target cities, that is. Most likely cities where people really love to brunch – New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. The program officially kicked off at the end of May and a big part of their campaign was their Instagram search for four “Chief Brunch Officers” in each city. Applicants sent in 15 second videos claiming to be the biggest Aperol Spritz and brunch enthusiasts. The most popular ones were picked to brunch all summer long, twice every weekend with their friends, all on Aperol’s dime. Sounds like a good gig, eh? But I still prefer to have mine at that magic hour…later afternoon, early evening, Aperitivo Time!

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In Naples’ Piazza Bellina

I’m not going to lie, I’ve turned a LOT of gatherings this summer into a chance to introduce my love of the Aperol Spritz to people who might not otherwise know about it. And, since it’s a three ingredient cocktail, it’s such an easy one for people to make themselves. And that means I’m not the only one making the drinks!

aperol spritz table

Aperol Spritz
build in an ice-filled glass
2 oz Aperol
3-4 oz dry Prosecco
1 oz Club Soda
Garnish with an orange wheel

Cin Cin!

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Charles Joly, The World’s Best Bartender

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Photo Courtesy Diageo World Class

On August 1st, after an intense week of serious competition against 47 of the best mixologists from around the world, Charles Joly, from cocktail lounge, The Aviary in Chicago, was crowned the DIAGEO RESERVE WORLD CLASS™ Bartender of the Year 2014.

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photo courtesy Diageo World Class

“This journey didn’t start today at the ceremony, this week at the finals, or even last year when I entered the heats – it started many years ago when I first started working in a local bar. The flavours, the smells, the sounds, the techniques, the history, the theatre – I realized I did not want to create just another drink. I make drinks with my heart and it makes me happy to see customers happy. The possibilities open to a bartender are limitless, not just in terms of your career but your creations – the only limit is your imagination.”
Charles Joly

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photo courtesy Diageo World Class

Joly is the first bartender from the United States to win this impressive title in the six years that Diageo Reserve has produced the global competition. And it’s a pretty huge achievement!

I recently got the opportunity to interview this acclaimed mixologist, master of cocktails, global booze ambassador, and mixer and shaker of magical potions that has won the world over. But, what was I going to ask the BEST BARTENDER IN THE WORLD?? With all of this massive attention on him recently, what could I possibly ask him that he wasn’t already sick of answering? Luckily, I didn’t have to! I made the brilliant decision to rely on you, dear Foxy Friends, to come up with those hard-hitting boozy questions! Thankfully, y’all came through! Then I turned those questions into a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire. Who doesn’t a like fill-in-the-blank questionnaire?? OK, I’m sure, some of these questions he’s been answering, ad nauseam, but I thought some of these things would still be fun to share. See his answers below in bold. Thanks to those of you who submitted questions on the Bit by a Fox Facebook and Instagram pages!
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The very first cocktail I ever made was probably not very good, but I’m sure I made it with a smile. My go-to drink of choice when NOT tending is a cold beer and a bourbon with a bit of ice, but when I’m indulging, I’ll have an old rum served in a beautiful glass. I wish people didn’t order so many ___________ and that more people appreciated ___________ more (Sorry- order what ever you’d like. It’s my job to serve the guest). When I discovered Bridget Albert, it changed the  way I approached cocktails. If I could work with one bottle of liquor for the rest of my life it would be pretty boring. When creating drinks, I draw most of my inspiration from the season and the guest. One of the biggest mistakes a mixologist can make is too much mustache wax.… My top tip for enthusiasts and home bartenders who may not have access to fancy tools and complicated ingredients would be that you don’t need them anyway. The beauty of cocktails is that simple is often best and the tools haven’t changed much. The most surprising thing that I learned about myself when I was competing was I can function on incredibly little sleep. I found that experience and calm was one of my biggest assets during the competition and that organization was very valuable in helping me to win. When I won DIAGEO RESERVE WORLD CLASS BARTENDER OF THE YEAR , I celebrated by having a 1863 rye whiskey Sazerac made tableside by Salvatore Calabrese.

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photo courtesy Diageo World Class

While the World Class finals consisted of a series of challenges, there WAS a winning cocktail: Above the Clouds. You can find this innovative recipe below!

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photo courtesy Diageo World Class

Above the Clouds
created by Charles Joly

1.5 oz Ron Zacapa Centenario
.5 oz Benedictine
1.5 oz Verjus rouge
1.5 oz Gingerbread Dream Rooibos syrup
Aromatic vapor as a garnish

Combine all ingredients in a beaker over a heat source.
Pour the liquid into a glass globe and drop in a small amount of dry ice to chill.

 

The Pear & Sage Gin & Tonic

psgt all4About a month ago I was invited to a tasting for Peach Street Distillers. While they hold the title of oldest locally owned distillery in Colorado, and the American Distilling Institute awarded them Distillery of the Year in 2012, they have only just recently crept on my radar. Based in tiny Palisade, Colorado, a sunny valley town with a population of just over 2,000 people, the area is known for its peach orchards and wine vineyards. So, it’s no surprise that most of the ingredients they use to make their spirits are grown within a 5-mile radius of the distillery. And they are able to produce quite a variety of things.

psgt all aboveAt the event, we were able to sample a wide range of their craft spirits, from pear brandy to artisan vodka, small batch gin and Colorado bourbon. But first we were treated to some delicious cocktails that showcased this prolific distillery’s spirits. There was a Milk Punch with clarified raw milk and their Colorado Straight Bourbon, a Fish House Punch with their Peach Brandy, dark rum, Cognac and green tea, and my favorite of the night: Peach Street Close Haul. That cocktail had the Jackelope and Jenny Pear Gin, cucumber, chamomile tea, lemon and meyer lemon bitters. That Pear Gin! Holy smokes was that tasty.

psgt bottles allMoose Koons, co-owner, sales ambassador, number one cheer leader for Peach Street, and our host for the evening, told us that Jackelope and Jenny Pear Gin came about when they experimented a few years back by mixing their Pear Eau De Vie with their Jackelope Gin and, voila! They had discovered something wonderful. It really tastes like pears! Fresh, delicious pears. AND it tastes like gin! Because the flavor is so brilliant, you don’t want to mess with it too much. I thought this spirit would be perfect in an herbaceous gin and tonic. Guess what? I was right!

curtain up2But what tonic to use? I’d been hearing about the Strong Tonic folks in Oklahoma City for a while now but only just recently got the chance to try their small batch tonic syrups. And I was really impressed. They use pure cane sugar and agave nectar, and have flavors of bright citrus and spices but they taste like how you expect tonic to taste, only better. And guess what ingredient is also in their Original Tonic flavor? Pear juice from concentrate! A perfect partner in this herbaceous pear g&t I was fantasizing about!

psgt glass pear closeWe are just now approaching pear season, so you should be able to get some crisp, delicious ones for the garnish here. The sage is also just a garnish, but when bunched up at the top of the glass, it provides the most beautiful aroma with each sip.

Pear & Sage Gin & Tonic
2 oz of Jackelope & Jenny Pear Gin
1 oz Original Strong Tonic
3 oz Club Soda
1 bunch fresh sage
3 thin slices pear

Add gin, tonic and soda in a mixing glass with ice. Stir well, Strain into a high ball glass filled with ice. Garnish with pear slices and sage.

The Brighton Beachcomber featured on Behind the Bar | Design*Sponge

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photo by Kristina Gill

I’m beyond, BEYOND thrilled to have one of my all time favorite summer cocktails starring in this month’s Behind the Bar column on Design*SpongeThe Brighton Beachcomber! You MUST check out the lovely pics by Kristina Gill and you can also read what I have to say about it. Then, if you’re inspired, pick up some tequila, ginger liqueur, coconut water, limes and cukes to make your own perfect summer refresher for this weekend.

Now THAT’S a Happy Friday, foxy friends!

Summer Spice Sangria

Did someone say Wine Wednesday? Well, why have plain, old wine when you can have a super delicious, spiced up Sangria?!

Summer Spice Sangria Above TitleI know, I know, everyone has a headache-y tale about a time you may have imbibed a smidge too much of the stuff. Like that time you went to your friend’s parent’s going away party in Queens, and you started early in the night on Aunt Sally’s famous sangria with the secret recipe. And it was SO good. Too good. One minute you were finishing off another cup and chewing on some boozy orange rinds, contemplating joining in on the juicy family gossip…and the next, you’re waking up in your friend’s childhood bed at 7 in the morning. Fully clothed. Um. What?! True story. I got so sleeeepy! I guess. :/

Summer Spice Sangria GlassWhat was IN that sangria?! We’ll never know. Aunt Sally is not going public with the recipe and, truth be told, I don’t think I’ll ever need to recreate that scenario. It’s a wonder I can even look into the eyes of anyone who witnessed my sangria downfall that night, not to mention my friend’s parents! I’ve been reassured only by the fact that they are Spanish. And, I guess it was a complement? Because I liked it so much! Moral of the story – I pretty much rule as a house guest.

Summer Spice Sangria Candied Ginger

I’ve made a lot of different variations on sangria over the years, and the great thing about this drink is that you have so many options! Red, white, sparkling, stone fruit, citrus, berries, juice, cognac, rum, triple sec…? Whatever you have around?! Some people throw frozen juice in with boxed wine and call it day. And, I do not judge your sizzurp of choice, people. You know what’s tasty to you! But this particular recipe came out of the Backyard Summer Spirits event last month. I wanted to create a recipe that took advantage of the amazing locally made (New York) spirits featured at the event, and I also wanted to avoid adding sugar, if I could. Because I used two different kinds of liqueurs, which lend a good amount of sweetness on their own, I was able to.

Summer Spice Sangria Fresh GingerSorel Liqueur has heady notes of hibiscus, clove and bright ginger. Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur is straight up boozy ginger nectar. Combined, these guys spice this baby up. Another summery addition is Owney’s Rum. For the warmer seasons, using a white rum with some tropical flavors in your sangria will give it a little boost of sunshine. A dry, light to medium bodied red works great in this. I used a simple Pinot Noir and it was super!

Summer Spice Sangria – makes 10 servings
2 bottles of dry light to medium red wine
1/2 cup Owney’s Rum
1/2 cup Sorel Liqueur
1/2 cup Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
1 cup orange juice
1-2 oranges cut into round slices
1-2 apples diced small
1/4 cup diced fresh ginger (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. When serving over ice, top with bubbly water and candied ginger.

 

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