BBaF Podcast Episode 90: Camper English & Cocktail Safe

Listen to Episode 90: Camper English & Cocktail Safe

On this week’s Bit By a Fox Podcast we have return guest, Camper English – San Francisco-based cocktails and spirits writer, speaker and educator. You may know Camper as the pioneer of the “Directional Freezing” technique in order to make clear ice. Camper is THE ice guy. But that’s another episode. I had Camper on the podcast to talk about Cocktail Safe – his nearly year-old website dedicated to safety in cocktail ingredients and techniques. Both his blog, Alcademics and the Cocktail Safe site have been getting a LOT of attention lately due to the fact that there has been discussions around anti-malarial drugs being an effective treatment for Covid-19. Camper also happens to be an expert in quinine, tonic water and cinchona bark, and so I thought it would be good to have him on to set the record straight on all of this.

https://www.cocktailsafe.org

BBaF Podcast Episode 89: Eric “ET” Tecosky & Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice

Listen to Episode 89: Eric “ET” Tecosky & Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice

This week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast is a welcome distraction from the awfulness going on out there. It features the ever charming and inspiring Eric “ET” Tecosky – veteran LA bartender and founder of Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice. We talked about his early days in the LA bar scene, his home away from home – celebrity hotspot Jones Hollywood, and life as an entrepreneur for over a decade in a changeable cocktail landscape .

In these uncertain times for bartenders and service workers in general, it was inspiring to get an up close and personal take on what it’s like to start your own drinks industry brand, the hustle it takes to make it happen, and how to stay in the game when you have so much stacked against you.

This week’s featured cocktail is a spicy Paloma variation with touch of Dirty Sue olive juice, served up.

SLAP & TICKLE
1 ½ oz Herradura or other quality tequila
2 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz Agave Syrup (1:1)
2 slices cucumbers
5 drops salty Angels Tears* Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice
3-4 drops (or to taste) Spicy Stuff**

Muddle cucumber. Add all ingredients except soda to ice-filled shaker. Shake. Add 1 oz of Q soda water. Fine strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with cucumber slice. 

*Angle Tears – in a dropper bottle add ½ oz Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice and 3 ½ oz spring water.
** Spicy Stuff – in a dropper bottle add 2 small, chopped habanero peppers. Fill with 100 proof vodka. Let sit for a few hours before use

COVID-19 is Crippling the Hospitality Industry. How Can We Help?

It’s an unprecedented time. With the Coronavirus sweeping the globe, I think it’s safe to say pretty much everyone is feeling a little anxious right now…at the very least!

Many of us are stuck in our homes, and if we’re lucky, we’re working remotely. But for those people who have lost their jobs – of which there will be many – the anxiety and dread and uncertainty about the future is all-consuming. For anyone working in the service industry, it’s a dire situation.

The restaurant industry could lose $225 billion in sales during the next three months, forcing the elimination of as many as 7 million industry jobs…”

All the States That Have Closed Restaurants and Bars Due to Coronavirus

Restaurants and bars have been forced to close throughout the country, effecting millions of people who rely on the service industry to pay the bills. While some distilleries are getting creative, and pivoting into the hand sanitizer business, bars and restaurants are limited in what they can do.

For restaurants, most are relying on a swift delivery businesses to stay afloat – as well as gift cards. And some states, after a change to laws allowing liquor delivery, will now allow bars to deliver cocktails and wine. Because there is so much precaution around the virus, however, and to keep overhead down, the only employees doing the prep and deliveries are often times the owners of the business itself.

I’ve found myself feeling helpless and wondering how I can help the people in this industry that I care so much about. I’ve compiled a list of resources for people in and outside of the hospitality industry that I thought might be helpful. Because I’m in Los Angeles, some of these are more locally focused, but there should also be links to national organizations in here as well.

5 Ways You Can Help Your Favorite Bartenders Right Now

HELP OUT A BARTENDER

Below is a list of restaurants and bars that have put together GoFundMe pages for their workers. I wish I could drop ALL money into all of these accounts.
Los Angeles:
Ma’am Sir
Bar Flores, Lowboy, Adamae, Wolf & Crane
Gold-Diggers
Big Bar
Death & Co. – New York, Denver, LA
Here & Now
Here’s Looking at You
The Mermaid
Bar Stella
The Pikey
Las Perlas
All Day Baby
Melrose Umbrella Co
Caña Rum Bar
Redbird – 100% of gift card sales through the end of this month will go to financially support their team

New York:
Bar Goto and Bar Goto Niban
Misi|Lilian|Grovehouse
Nitecap
NoHo Hospitality
Fausto
Contra|Wildair
Alameda
Due West
BLT Steak Bar
Casa Nela
Hunky Dory
Leyenda & Clover Club
The Up & Up
Subject
Versa
Diamond Reef
Rockwood Music Hall
West 3rd Common

Portland, OR:
Voysey

HELP OUT THE BAR & RESTAURANT INDUSTRY

What to Say to Your Representatives to Advocate For a Restaurant Bailout

There are a lot of petitions going around to help the hospitality business stay alive. I’ve signed all of these. I invite you to do the same!
Federal Financial Relief
Change.org Petition: Keep New York’s hospitality scene alive. Bar & Restaurant Bailout! 
Change.org – Economic Aid for California Hospitality
Change.org – Small Biz Bailouts in Hospitality

LINKS FOR RESTAURANT/BAR WORKERS

List of resources for restaurants & restaurant workers in light of Coronavirus. Includes info on unemployment exceptions. 
Restaurant Workers Community Foundation

Aid For Bartenders During Bar Closures
Unemployment Websites by State
Local and nationwide resources that may provide some relief for laid-off restaurant workers
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
USBG – Bartender Emergency Assistance Program
The California WARN Act – Protections for Employees After Mass Layoffs
Bartender Quarantine Schedule
Restaurant Workers Relief Program with Nancy Silverton & Makers Mark

LINKS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

Resource Links for Operators in Hospitality
Cherry Bombe – Resources for Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus

BBaF Podcast Episode 88: Cocktails with a Twist with Kara Newman

Listen to Episode 88: Cocktails with a Twist with Kara Newman

This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, we have return guest – New York-based food, wine, and spirits writer Kara Newman on the show.

She discusses her sixth cocktail book, an interactive sort of choose your own adventure book called Cocktails with a Twist. We also invent what we think should be a new classic cocktail, talk about babies making martinis, and our love of vermouth, gin and aquavit. 

This week’s featured cocktail is one Kara and I came up with in my living room just mere moments before the interview – riff on a Gin & It, the ‘Vit & It! 

‘Vit & It – served up in a Nick & Nora glass
2 oz Aquavit 
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Orange Bitters
garnish: Orange twist 

Stir the aquavit and vermouth in an ice-filled mixing glass until sufficiently chilled. Add a few dashes of orange bitters. Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. Twist the orange peel over the glass to extract the oils. Garnish and enjoy.

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
INGREDIENTS:
Rayu Espadin Mezcal
lime juice
Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters
Bottle of Topo Chico 
sprig of mint 

DIRECTIONS:
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.

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