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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.
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
Listen to Episode 5: Absinthe with Ted Breaux” – me
On this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast we’re talking about one of the most misunderstood elixirs ever created and consumed – The Green Fairy, La Fée Verte, Absinthe! The social lubricant of choice for 19th century bohemians, artists and creatives – said to have aided their creativity and yet, driven them mad. It has been made all the more mysterious by a worldwide ban of the stuff for nearly 100 years. The ban was lifted in the states almost eleven years ago now, but a lot of misunderstandings still surround this spirit.
Most likely, you’ve heard the dark stories…about how “real” absinthe will make you hallucinate, turn you violent and drive you mad if you have too much. But what is the real story of absinthe? Can we get an authentic version in the states? And why was it banned for so long if it is truly harmless? Hopefully we’ll be clearing all that up over the course of this podcast.
My guest Ted Breaux is a researcher, scientist, artisan distiller, and leading authority on absinthe. He created Lucid Absinthe Supérieure – the first genuine absinthe made with real Grande Wormwood to be legally available in the United States, and he had a major role in overturning the ban in America eleven years ago. He’ll be talking about how he first got interested in absinthe, was the first person to disprove any claims that absinthe was dangerous, and how he helped to overturn the ban.
Kellfire Desmond Bray, absinthe educator and co-host of a monthly absinthe celebration and awareness party in New York City called The Green Fairy at the Red Room, will be joining us towards the end of this episode to describe the Continental Pour – the proper way to consume this boozy elixir.
According to Bray and Breaux, you don’t really need the sugar. However, the traditional French Method does involve diluting sugar in the glass to sweeten it up a bit. This ritual is such a lovely one, I thought I’d share that as well.
This is what you’ll need to prepare absinthe using the traditional French Method:
- Bottle of genuine absinthe
- An absinthe spoon – a flat, perforated spoon or even a large fork can work!
- Sugar cube
- Tall glass, large enough for 6 ounces
- Carafe of ice water
- Pour about one ounce of absinthe into the glass
- Place a sugar cube on an absinthe spoon and lay the spoon across the rim of the glass
- Slowly pour the very cold water over the sugar and saturate it
- Wait a moment for the sugar to dissolve a bit
- As the water dilutes the spirit, the botanical oils are released, herbal aromas “bloom” and the clear green liquid turns cloudy, a result that is called the “louche”
- Continue to slowly pour the water over the sugar until you have poured in about 5 ounces and the sugar is mostly dissolved
- Allow the louche to rest, and then stir in the remaining undissolved sugar
Let me be mad, then, by all means! Mad with the madness of Absinthe, the wildest, most luxurious madness in the world! Vive la folie! Vive l’amour! Vive l’animalisme! Vive le Diable!”
― Marie Corelli, Wormwood: A Drama of Paris
Listen to Bit by a Fox Podcast Episode 5: Absinthe with Ted Breaux” – me
The Green Fairy, La Fée Verte, Absinthe – One of the most misunderstood elixirs ever created and consumed. Made all the more mysterious by a worldwide ban of the stuff for nearly 100 years. After the ban was finally lifted in the states ten years ago now, some myths are still perpetuated by a few brands capitalizing on its mystique.
Most likely, you’ve heard the dark stories…about how “real” absinthe will make you hallucinate, turn you violent and drive you mad if you have too much. Well known writers and artists such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Edgar Allan Poe were all said to have benefited creatively and yet suffered negatively from the effects of their consumption of absinthe. But what is the real story of absinthe? Can we get an authentic version in the states? And why was it banned for so long if it is truly harmless?
Absinthe, for those of you unfamiliar, is a highly alcoholic distilled spirit, (not a liqueur as it is often mistaken for, because it is not traditionally sweetened with added sugar) made with macerated herbs – primarily aniseed, sweet fennel and wormwood – the main flavor components in the spirit. The various botanicals is what also gives absinthe its famous natural green color, inspiring the nicknames “Green Fairy” and “Green Goddess”. At its height in popularity, towards the end of the 19th century, when the French were drinking up to 36 million litres of absinthe per year, the nearly 30,000 cafés in Paris were transformed every day at 5:00 p.m. into l’Heure Verte, the Green Hour.
Absinthe’s rise in popularity coincided with a rise in alcohol consumption in general. Cheap, poorly made “bathtub” versions were being produced, and alcohol-related injuries and crimes were being blamed on the popular spirit, leading the way to a prohibition of absinthe internationally. The temperance movement as well as the wine industry, threatened by the massive popularity of the drink, leveraged the moral panic against absinthe in Europe at the time, and pushed the idea that it was especially dangerous and led to violent behavior.
Is there any truth to the dangers, the highs, the hallucinogenic qualities that have been rumored and written about and spread throughout the centuries? The truth is, absinthe is indeed potent. It is not to be taken straight as it is so concentrated. It is traditionally bottled at a high alcohol by volume – usually 110-144 proof versus whiskey which is about 80 proof. This is because it is to be diluted with ice-cold water prior to being consumed.
Ted A. Breaux, a scientist, researcher and leading authority on absinthe, had a major role in overturning the ban in America ten years ago. Lucid Absinthe, his creation and the first absinthe in the U.S. market, is still considered one of the top brands in the world. According to Breaux, “pre-ban absinthes contained no hallucinogens, opiates or other psychoactive substances”. The only drug in absinthe is alcohol.
Thujone, a compound found in wormwood, is often referred to as the hallucinogenic component in “real” absinthe. But according to the experts and extensive studies, there just isn’t any truth to this. In extremely high doses, thujone is known to be a dangerous neurotoxin, but pre-ban absinthe and the nearly identical recipes made today have always only had trace amounts. The truth is, there may very well be more wormwood in the vermouth you’re having in your next martini than a glass of absinthe. Aside from being its hallmark ingredient, the name “vermouth” is in fact the French pronunciation of the German word Wermut, meaning…wormwood.
How come, even after ten years of it being legal in the states, there are still so many misconceptions about this botanical beverage? Perhaps we prefer holding onto these romantic notions of madness and drug-induced achievements from some of our most notable creative geniuses. It surely doesn’t help when certain brands market themselves in a way that takes advantage of their naughty past, advertising thujone or wormwood on their bottles in an inauthentic way.
That’s not to say we haven’t come a long way since that 95 year ban. There are a lot of really wonderful brands that are making quality absinthe, each one, with their specific recipe, slightly different from the next. So, what brands should you be buying?
Absinthe educator Kellfire Bray, seen here at the monthly Green Fairy Party produced by Don Spiro in NYC, recommends these bottles to get you started:
Meadow of Love Absinthe from Delaware Phoenix Distillery – American Hidden Gem
Made in the Catskills in upstate New York, Meadow of Love has a floral aroma and flavor interacting with the anise. This absinthe has a powerful louche of rolling, milky cloud banks, and it coats the tongue with flavor.
Lucid Absinthe Superieure – Traditional, Easy to Find
Lucid is the first genuine absinthe made with real Grande Wormwood to be legally available in the United States in over 95 years. Lucid is prepared in accordance with the same standards as pre-ban absinthes. It is historically accurate in EVERY detail.
“Vieux Pontarlier” Absinthe Francais Superieure – Mid-range, Workhorse
Very anise forward and fairly sweet, this absinthe is made in small batches using alambic stills that were specifically designed to make absinthe. Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe evolved from the research and experience of professional Absintheur Peter Schaf, using historic protocols, distilling techniques and equipment from the 19th Century.
Kubler Absinthe Superieure – Mid-range, Swiss style
Clear and colorless in the Swiss style. Along with Lucid, was crucial in petitioning the government to lift the absinthe ban. Anise and fennel dominate but get more complex post louche.
Jade 1901 Absinthe Superieure – Top Pick, Harder to Find
From Ted A. Breaux’s high-end absinthe line, Jade Liqueurs, this bottle was recreated as a tribute to a widely studied pre-ban absinthe, as it appeared circa 1901. A classic vintage-style absinthe, balanced and crisp, with a stimulating herbal aroma and a smooth, lingering aftertaste.
The preparation to drink absinthe may seem intimidating. Do you need the correct tools? Is there sugar AND fire involved? How much is the right amount? It is all pretty simple, really. In fact, according to Bray, you don’t even really need the sugar. You’ll just need to slowly dilute 1 part absinthe to 3-5 parts iced water from a specially made absinthe fountain or even by hand with a carafe. As the water dilutes the spirit, the botanical oils are released, herbal aromas “bloom” and the clear green liquid turns cloudy, a result that is called the “louche”.
The traditional French Method, however, does involve placing a sugar cube on top of a slotted spoon over a glass of absinthe and pouring iced water over the sugar in order to slowly dissolve it and mix with the absinthe. Since absinthe is not made with added sugar, some people prefer to sweeten it up this way. But according to nearly all authorities on absinthe, DO NOT soak that sugar cube with liquor and then light it on fire. This “Czech Method” is not traditional and was actually started in the late 90s as a spectacle for tourists and to mask inferior spirits. We’re all better than that!
So, go ahead and celebrate the progress we’ve made in the last ten years, and get acquainted with the Green Fairy! Raise a glass to the magical, herbal delights of this cloudy wonder…without going completely mad! Vive la absinthe!
All photos provided by Rose Callahan, of the Dandy Portrait fame, and our photography partner on the Bartender Style series.
Last Saturday night, Cointreau, the iconic French orange liqueur, partnered with Jeremiah Brent, TV personality, interior designer and handsome hubs to Oprah bestie Nate Berkus, on a beautiful, travel-inspired evening as part of their “The Art of La Soirée” tour of events.
The fête, set inside the stunning Big Daddy’s Antiques in Los Angeles, is part of a series of events set in five different cities – Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas and New York City – each one curated by a different artist with a slightly different inspired entertaining theme. Last Saturday’s soirée showcased Jeremiah’s passion for travel and global discovery – the Collection de Voyages Soirée.
The immersive experience was a Moroccan summer’s night meets Croatian holiday crossed with a Mayan Riviera getaway. And the cocktails, curated by Jeremiah, also drew inspiration from those cities that made the most impact on him through his travels – Tulum, Mexico; Marrakech, Morocco; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Split, Croatia. Los Angeles, of course, played a role in the night as well. Despite feeling transported, the beautiful guests, unusual, dual-purpose event space, and the hip DJ, electric guitarist entertainment for the night helped to remind us that we were still in La La Land!
Oh, and, look who I ran into?! The lovely powerhouse mixology couple, Kyle and Rachel Ford, profiled on this here blog last year in our Bartender Style series. This event actually marked Kyle’s last as Cocktail & Spirits Expert for Rémy Cointreau. And with the decision to focus primarily on their revamped consulting firm, Ford Marketing Lab, Kyle has officially passed the Cointreau torch. I have no doubt the Rémy Cointreau family will miss him!
It was an enchanting night! And I sort of felt like I went on a mini 3-hour vacation to some exotic locale with elegant natives, citrusy cocktails and dazzling light fixtures everywhere. Jeremiah Brent, can you curate my life, please?
If you are interested in attending one of The Art of La Soirée events, check back in to Cointreau’s site to see about a soirée near you!
All photos courtesy of Shannon Carpenter from This Aperture.
Hey guys! You know Al Roker? Yes THAT Al Roker of “Today” show fame and highly optimistic weather updates and everyone’s favorite morning jokester uncle…well, he has a multimedia production company, Al Roker Entertainment that he’s been running for the last 20 years!!! Not just a weather man, guys!
Roker Labs is their digital media incubator of sorts and they are dipping their toes in the live streaming content game, with much success. And, guess who’s going to be doing some cocktail segments with them?!
Fellow boozy babe, Emily Arden Wells from Gastronomista and I are partnering with @RokerLabs for this exciting new cocktail series that will stream live 5pm (EST) on Periscope for the next couple of Tuesdays starting TONIGHT! For our first segment “All About That Mix”, we are heading to Polynesian oasis, Mother of Pearl in New York’s east village. Our bartender for the evening will be industry vet, bartender extraordinaire and total babe, Jane Danger, pictured below (with a shock of blue in her blonde locks) from our Bartender Style shoot at Mother of Pearl last month:
I know what you’re thinking…what is this Periscope hooha? Why do I have to get another weird app on my phone? Is that the only way I can watch it? Listen, grandma, I totally understand. I was pretty intimidated by this new technology too, until LAST NIGHT, in fact. Up until I tried a test run with Emily I really couldn’t wrap my brain around it. But it is SO easy, and pretty fun, in fact. It’s like live chatting, face timing and youtubing all at the same time, if that means anything to you! And IF you just can’t be bothered with watching us in real time, this will be saved and posted on our sites. But, just know this, Al Roker is probably more tech savvy than you. So just upload that Periscope App, follow @RokerLabs (and @BitByaFox, of course!) and prepare to get your tiki on tonight. Welcome to the future!
In honor of Negroni Week sweeping the cocktail land next week (June 4-10), I spoke with Anne Louise Marquis, the National Portfolio Brand Ambassador of Campari America.
Negroni Week is a celebration of one of the most perfect cocktail creations – the equal parts drink of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, but most importantly it is an international charity event that raises money for a variety of global causes. It is sponsored by Imbibe Magazine and Campari and has grown into a worldwide event with over 7,000 venues and businesses participating, but it has humble origins, originally starting out as “Negroni Social” with just a couple of bartenders in Portland, Oregon.
Find out all you need to know about Negroni Week and how you too can drink for a good cause by listening to this episode with the very charming Anne Louise! “ – me
For our recipe this week we are sharing one of Anne Louise’s favorite variations, The Right Hand, a cocktail created in 2007 by Michael Mcilroy at Milk & Honey in NYC.
The Right Hand
1.5 oz Aged Rum (Matusalem Gran Reserva)
.75 oz Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica)
.75 oz Campari
2 dashes chocolate bitters (Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters)
Stir over cracked ice until chilled, strain into a cocktail glass. Citrus garnish optional.
photos of Anne Louise Marquis taken by Allison Webber
For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, we dive into Mezcal, the wild and smoky and often misunderstood cousin of tequila. I spoke with Cecilia Rios Murrieta, founder of Oaxacan brand, La Niña del Mezcal.
Cecilia established one of the first blogs about Mezcal and the culture that surrounds it. She is a certified Mezcalier, and a proponent of preserving the traditional production processes of artisan Mezcal.
Listen to Episode 12: Mezcal with Cecilia Rios Murrieta” – me
We spoke about the basics of Mezcal, what differentiates it from tequila, the proper way to drink it, and how she first fell in love with agave spirits.
Cecilia shared with us her favorite cocktail using La Niña del Mezcal Espadin – a Mezcal Old Fashioned.
On the podcast I refer to this recipe as a Oaxaca Old Fashioned, but that is actually a cocktail created by bartender Phil Ward in 2007 at New York’s Death & Co. and also includes tequila. This version is more of a traditional Old Fashioned recipe with the Mezcal as the base spirit and agave nectar as the sweetening agent.
Mezcal Old Fashioned – served in a rocks glass with ice
2 oz La Niña del Mezcal Espadin
1/2 oz agave syrup
garnish: Orange Peel
Add the agave syrup to your rocks glass, 3-4 dashes of bitters and a large ice cube or a couple of smaller ones. Then pour in about 2 oz mezcal. You can give that a good old stir to make sure everything gets mixed properly and cooled down a bit. Rub the rim of the glass with an orange peel, twist and garnish.
On this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, we’re talking about Shots! Shots! Shots! And the occasional shooter. They’re never a good idea….Or are they?
Many of us have lots of feelings about shots and shooters and visceral, albeit, patchy memories associated with those little devils. How did the shot even come to be? And how have the trends evolved through the years, and what are people shooting dirty nowadays?
This Week’s Recipe is inspired by my favorite “Bartender’s Handshake” – a miniature daiquiri adorably called a snaquiri. It originated with bartender Karin Stanley at Dutch Kills in Queens, New York about 8 years ago and it’s guaranteed the best shooter around. It is meant to be gulped in one fell swig.
Snaquiri – served in a mini coupe or cordial glass
1 oz dry white rum
½ oz fresh lime juice
¼ oz simple syrup
Garnish: lime wheel
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake until well chilled. Strain into the glass. Garnish with lime wheel. Shoot that Snaq!
Soooo, my life has clearly been taken over by this weekly podcast and I PROMISE to post other content on the blog besides these podcast posts, buuuut in the meantime…It’s FriYAY! And that means there’s another Bit by a Fox Podcast heading right towards your earholes! I hope you’re having as much fun as I am. If you ARE, then please write a snappy review, give it all the stars, and share with your frennnz. Self producing is a hustle!
This week we’re talking about The Dark Ages of Cocktails – that ill-fated time period between the late 1960s all the way through the late 1990s. When people happily drank garbage drinks like the ones pictured below.
Since launching the podcast, we’ve already talked a lot about the craft cocktail resurgence over the last 20 years, and we’ve touched on what it was like to come out of the sour-mix-drenched 90s where vodka was king and everyone’s palates were deadened by preservatives and sugar. But how did we get there in the first place?
In this week’s podcast, I go all the way back to prohibition and the following years that made it possible for drinks with names like Sex on the Beach, The Fuzzy Navel and Slippery Nipple to…become a thing. Hoo boy, it was a sexy and gross time.
Listen to Episode 4: The Dark Ages of Cocktails” – me
For this episode, I thought I’d feature a cocktail that has a special place in my heart. One of the first drinks I’d order on the regular when I first started drinking cocktails, and at the time, was never NOT made with sour mix: The Amaretto Sour. But I wanted to share a better version – with fresh juice and more of a kick. This creation is from Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the famed Portland, Oregon bartender of Clyde Common and Pepe Le Moko. Jeffrey is considered to be one of the best bartenders out there, and I love the fact that he has made it a point these last few years to bring back the cocktails from the dark ages and improve upon them. I love his explanation for this version of his Amaretto Sour.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Amaretto Sour
1½ oz amaretto
¾ oz cask-proof bourbon
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp. 2:1 simple syrup
½ oz egg white, beaten
Dry shake ingredients to combine, then shake well with cracked ice. Strain over fresh ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon peel and brandied cherries, if desired.
Photo by Zandy Mangold.
Photo by Philippe Levy
I’m really excited for you all to listen to this week’s episode of the Bit by a Fox podcast. It’s a special one. I spoke with my friend and author, and someone who has seen first hand the bloom of the cocktail movement in New York City and internationally, Georgette Moger-Petraske. Georgette is also the widow of the late Sasha Pestraske, the legendary bartender who opened a little speakeasy cocktail bar in the lower east side of Manhattan about 18 years ago called Milk & Honey. Sasha and his bar are really responsible for much of what we’ve come to know about modern day craft cocktails. Milk & Honey has been called one of this century’s most influential drinking dens. Sasha was extremely well regarded as a leader in the industry until his untimely death in 2015. He was 42.
Georgette and Sasha had only been married for a few months at the time of his death – interrupting their life together as well the cocktail book they were to create together. Only a brief outline existed when Georgette made the decision to write what was to be Sasha’s first cocktail book, Regarding Cocktails. I wanted to talk to Georgette about her story, how she met Sasha, her husband’s legacy, his iconic bar Milk & Honey, and how Regarding Cocktails is a tribute to him as a man and also a love letter to all he contributed to the cocktail world.
Listen to Episode 3: Regarding Cocktails with Georgette Moger-Petraske
A girl and her book. Georgette and Regarding Cocktails outside Paris bookstore La Belle Hortense. (taken by moi)
Recent photos from Paris Cocktail Week taken by Philippe Levy.
We ended our episode this week with the Gin & It cocktail, a favorite of the couple’s – so much so it was passed out in mini mason jars at their wedding.
Gin & It – served up in a coupe glass
2 oz Gin
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
garnish: lemon twist
Stir the gin and vermouth in an ice-filled mixing glass until sufficiently chilled. Strain into an chilled coupe glass. Twist the lemon peel over the glass to extract the oils. Then garnish the drink with the twist.