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Founded in 1823 by Irish refugees settling in the Scottish Lowlands, on the edge of Glasgow, Auchentoshan, (pronounced ‘OKKen-TOSHan’) is a single malt whisky that is triple distilled, resulting in a delicate, approachable, and very mixable Scotch whisky; The perfect gateway Scotch for people who may be intimidated by the stuff, or who tend to favor lighter, Irish-style whiskies.
Art of Auchentoshan is all about our journey to perfection. Our triple-distilled process to craft the smoothest single malt whisky. But it’s about more than just our approach to making our whisky. It’s about what we value. Attention to detail. Crafting our own course. Driven to be the best.”
Last month, during Portland Cocktail Week, Auchentoshan Single Malt Scotch Whisky announced their Art of Auchentoshan program conceived to celebrate the art that bartenders create when they’re NOT behind the bar. This national campaign, in association with the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, is a year-long call to action for bartenders to share all forms of their original art, from music to photography, painting and sculpture, and every artistic expression in between. From now until September 2016, a panel of art experts will be evaluating submissions and will then choose a number of pieces to be exhibited or performed at a gallery.
To help celebrate this exciting, creative launch, a handful of spirits writers, media and photographers were given the incredible opportunity to learn how to blow their very own whisk(e)y glass at Brooklyn’s UrbanGlass. It was terrifying because, hi I’m a super clutz, but so fun. And, just look at how pretty it turned out!
I MADE this with molten glass, a long tube and my own powerful lungs!!! (And a LOT of assistance from Esteban). A lovely “A” for Auchentoshan was etched onto the glass after it had cooled – I clearly didn’t do that part, but I was still pretty proud of what I had done!
I was SO excited to see the finished product when I finally got this in the mail recently. The perfect vessel for my Auchentoshan whisky!
If you are a bartender and interested in submitting your artwork to Art of Auchentoshan, you’ll need to share a visual representation of your art in either a photograph or 15-second video on Instagram and tag #ArtofAuchentoshan. Once submitted, the image or video will be ‘on view’ on the dedicated Auchentoshan Tumblr site.
For more information, including all terms and conditions, visit http://www.ArtofAuchentoshan.com.
We like to keep things fairly light-hearted here in the boozy world of Bit by a Fox. Cocktails (and cocktail culture) are happy making for the most part. And the tone is a pretty jovial one. Today’s cocktail post was created (originally) to honor the recent launch of the gorgeous book Paris Cocktails, written by Doni Belau creator of the popular site Girl’s Guide to Paris. And I don’t want to take away from that. But in light of the multiple tragedies that took place in Paris just a few days ago, I realized this post can’t help but take on a different tone. I couldn’t NOT address the world outside the bubble of this care-free blog, even for just a moment.
I lived in New York City during the World Trade Center attacks. It was a devastating time. But the city, and the world around us, came together in a way that still moves me when I think back on it. When first hearing of the coordinated attacks on the beautiful City of Light this last Friday, I was immediately reminded of that overwhelming heartbreak and helplessness. I was also reminded of the generosity of spirit from total strangers and the solidarity that the rest of the world showed us during our city’s darkest hour. That was so crucial in the healing of our city.
To show my own sort of solidarity, I’d like to dedicate this post to the people of Paris, whose joie de vivre, lust for life is forever an inspiration to me and this little blog. The City of Light will not be dimmed by the dark hearts of others.
The Boulevardier is a pre-prohibition era cocktail that is often described as a whiskey Negroni. Bourbon or rye takes the place of gin. Like the Negroni, it is traditionally made with equal parts Sweet Vermouth and Campari. When I was asked to recreate a classic French cocktail or put my own twist on a favorite, I immediately thought of The Boulevardier. It’s easily one of my favorites, and is remarkably adaptable by switching out or adding additional ingredients. While this cocktail was actually created by an American ex-pat, Erskine Gwynne who was living in Paris at the time and founded a Paris literary magazine in the 1920s called…the Boulevardier(!), the drink is most associated with Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. I thought it fitting to include a cocktail that is part New York City and part Paris. We’ve always adored one another!
What makes this particular version even MORE French is the addition of French Whisky, Bastille 1789 (the year of the French Revolution). Hand-crafted in the Cognac region, this blended whisky, made in a Scotch style and aged in French Limousin oak, is softer and lighter than the usual bourbon or heavy-duty rye. Oh! And did I mention there’s Champagne?!
That’s my big twist! I ADORE adding bubbly to a Negroni. And it totally works with The Boulevardier as well. It makes it feel even more festive. This is actually the perfect type of drink this time of year. And four ingredient cocktails are a must when entertaining for the holidays…
Speaking of the holidays…Paris Cocktails would be a delightful gift for anyone in your life who is a Francophile, cocktail enthusiast, avid traveler or aesthetically inclined. Belau documents the rise of the cocktail culture in Paris and profiles many of the go-to bars and the bartenders that have helped shape that scene. There’s also a TON of cocktail recipes both classic and modern, inspired by the City of Light. Purchase the book directly from Belau’s site: Girls Guide to Paris.
The Bubbly Boulevardier
1 oz Bastille 1789 French Whisky
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Brut Champagne
cocktail cherry for garnish
In a mixing glass filled with ice, stir whisky, Campari and sweet vermouth for 30-40 seconds, until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass with a cocktail cherry already at the bottom of the glass. Top with Champagne. Santé
For the second installment in our Foxy Friends series, we are featuring another Jersey girl! Emily Hand is the Beverage Director for Eataly New York, the 50,000 square foot food and drink mecca devoted to all things Italian.
Emily Hand started working at Eataly as a sommelier in early August 2010, just before the store opened. Although she had been studying wine on her own for a couple of years, it was her first foray into the wine world. In April 2013, Emily was appointed to her current role as Beverage Director for Eataly New York.”
Emily Hand has a big job – a dream job for anyone into wine and food and Italy and LIFE, but a very big job, to be sure. She oversees all 7 (SEVEN!) wine and beer lists for each of Eataly New York’s restaurants (which change-up every week!), she leads a knowledgeable team of sommeliers, keeps track of inventory, year over year sales, and even teaches food and wine classes at La Scuola…in her spare time. That’s actually one of her favorite parts of the job. Sharing her vast knowledge of Italian wines in a casual and approachable style is already Emily’s trademark. And she’s done this all in just a few short years. She must be doing something right! Here’s an inside look at Emily and her job as Beverage Director at Eataly.
Prairie Rose: What is an aspect of the job that would be the most surprising to people who don’t know what you do?
Emily Hand: The most surprising part of the job is probably the least glamorous parts such as organizing cases upon cases of product, and crunching lots of numbers as part of being a responsible buyer. I can certainly be spotted tasting wine with various sales reps and with my team throughout the week, but I am a spittin’ fool. Cant be slowed down by drinking!
What was it that initially drew you to wine? Have you always been interested in Italian wine, in particular? What’s your favorite region?
I love the way wine incited such passion in people as they spoke about it…maybe it was the Italians, they are a passionate people. I became very interested in Italian wine when I went to Italy during college for a week-long wine trip/scholarship. There is much to offer from opening up a bottle alone, but to backtrack through the import/export process and back into the vineyards and wineries, to meet the people behind the wine, that is what sealed the deal for me. I’ve studied (and tasted!) wines from around the world, and enjoy other old world wine regions as well, but I’ll always come back to Italy. My favorite region is Toscana because that is where I fell in love with Italian wine.
What would you consider a (perhaps, lowbrow) guilty pleasure?
I truly don’t consider it lowbrow, but if I’m out at a bar after work, you’ll almost never catch me drinking wine (dinner, yes, bar, no). I love tequila…not frozen margaritas per se but a nice aged tequila on the rocks with lots of lime…that’s my jam.
People are always looking for a deal but still want quality. What is your go-to, bang for your buck pick right now?
My bang for the buck will typically come from the lesser known regions of Italy, and usually fall geographically on the outskirts, the far north such as Trentino Alto Adige and Valle d’Aosta or far south such as Calabria, Sicila, Sardegna. You can pick up the Odoardi Terra Damia (Gaglioppo) on the shelf at the wine store for $20.80, it’s a crowd-pleaser.
With the seasons changing, what do you foresee being in everyone’s glasses in the next couple of months?
Whisky, Whiskey and more WHISKEY– tis the season for the beverage that warms you from the inside out. There are a lot of local distilleries breaking onto the scene right now, just as local food is all the rage (and hopefully a permanent ideology), the movement of handcrafted, small-batch spirits is making waves. I like the whiskey lineup from Hudson distilleries. Also cider, I am a big cider fan so that’s what will be in my glass. I’d like to add some cider influenced cocktails to the lineup. I experimented with that last weekend. Research is exhausting 🙂
Do you have a favorite cocktail to make? To drink?
My favorite cocktail to make is a Bloody Mary because I feel like a chef with all of the ingredients and variations, it’s a challenge to create the perfect balance. I’m a savory cocktail nut, always have been. My favorite cocktail to drink is a dirty vodka martini, the more olives the better. So dirty I want the bartender to blush.
What are you most excited about right now at Eataly?
That’s a tough question because so much is going on…I get excited as the seasons change and we delve deeper into the fresh and local bounty of the tri-state area. We integrate seasonal changes into the cocktails and beer/wine selections just as the chefs do on the food menus. Right now I am excited about two huge wine events we are hosting, a walk-around Brunello tasting with Jancis Robinson and Walter Speller (exclusive 2010 vintage!) and a seminar with Angelo Gaja, that man is a legend!
What has been your biggest learning at Eataly to date?
My biggest revelation here at Eataly has been my ability to roll with the punches, and that managing people-not just managing them but investing in them, caring about their development as much as your own, is the key to success.
Hey there! Do you consider yourself a bit of a whiskey nerd? Are you also into American history, and like to geek out over vintage advertising, graphic and industrial design? Am I just describing myself? Is this a dating profile?? Stay with me here.
I KNOW I’m not the only one around these parts who is a fan of all of the above. Even if you only have a passing interest in history, design and American whiskey, but appreciate a thoroughly researched, visually appealing page turner, you’ll very much enjoy The Art of American Whiskey: A Visual History of the Nation’s Most Storied Spirit, through 100 Iconic Labels by Noah Rothbaum.
Unlike the glut of whiskey books out there concentrating on what is inside the bottle, The Art of American Whiskey tells the story of this revered spirit by focusing on what has been created to appear on the outside.
Fans of historic Four Roses would be sure to spot this ornate box decorated with its signature flowers on the pharmacy shelf. This particular bottle was prescribed to a patient in Sparks, Nevada, in 1924. According to the label, two ounces of whiskey were to be mixed with hot water.” (excerpt from the chapter: Prohibition)
Four Roses, p 32 (Photo courtesy of Four Roses)
Turns out, the iconic labels and packaging that have helped to market the spirit that is so ingrained in American culture and history, have their own story to tell.
Bourbon Falls was the first whiskey sold by Heaven Hill, which started up right after the end of Prohibition. This striking Art Deco label was used in the late 1930s.” (excerpt from the chapter: Life after Temperance)
Bourbon Falls, p 53 (Photo courtesy of Heaven Hills Distillery)
Rothbaum, clearly a whiskey enthusiast, does a wonderful job as story-teller, historian, and booze archaeologist. He uncovers a rich visual history starting in the late 1800s, going through Prohibition and the Great Depression, into “The Swinging Sixties” and even through the “Dark Ages” – The 70s, 80s and 90s, finally taking us up to the present booze-soaked renaissance we currently seem to be in, “The New Golden Age”.
This 1969 label perfectly encapsulates the progression in liquor packaging design, with a sleek Manhattan cocktail image, gold chain link borders, and modern font, while still paying tribute to the brand’s historic roots.” (excerpt from the chapter: The Swinging Sixties)
Jim Beam, p 95 (Photo courtesy of Beam Suntory Inc)
In each chapter, Rothbaum includes cocktails of the time, with recipes contributed by legendary bartenders, distillers and spirits writers and historians. The below cocktail, The Scofflaw Cocktail featured in the Prohibition section of The Art of American Whiskey, was contributed by writer, bartender and cocktail legend, Gary (“Gaz”) Regan.
The Scofflaw Cocktail – Contributed by Gary Regan
2 ounces of Bourbon or Straight Rye Whiskey
1 ounce Dry Vermouth
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce grenadine
2 few dashes orange bitters
Put all ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
A signed copy of The Art of American Whiskey can be yours! With the holidays coming up, this is PERFECT for that special whiskey fan in your life. It’s also a wonderful addition to your own bar library in case you want to keep it all for yourself. You have a bar library, right?! In the comments below, write about your very first experience (that you can remember) with American whiskey and if the bottle design had any influence on your decision to drink said spirit.
All the labels featured here: “Reprinted with permission from The Art of American Whiskey by Noah Rothbaum, copyright 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.”
If you follow me on social media, you are well aware that I went to Iceland this past May with Martin Miller’s Gin. And if you talk to me on a regular basis, you know that I still can’t shut up about it. I mean…
Like many people, visiting Iceland has been on my “bucket list” for a while. And I sort of STILL can’t believe how lucky I was to be able to have had that experience. Iceland is one of those magical places that truly lives up to the hype, exceeding my expectations, in fact. The sheer natural beauty, the vastness and otherworldly quality is so hard to convey in pictures. But, oh baby, we tried!
Manned with a GoPro, a Canon S110 and an iPhone 6 (and a couple of lavalier mics for decent sound), producer Joy Barrett and I set out to document the experience.
Our home base was the stunning coastal capital of Iceland, Reykjavik.
From there, we traveled to the mystical black sand beaches…
…day tripped to the breathtaking countryside and volcanic fields…
…and hit multiple geothermal spas, including the Blue Lagoon, of course!
But, most importantly, we used our opportunity in this strange and beautiful land to really get to know the process it takes to make Martin Miller’s Gin, and see firsthand why Iceland is so important to their production. We wanted to capture the spirit of this unique product that depends on the purity of Icelandic water to produce such a superior gin.
In order to really immerse ourselves in the Martin Miller’s Gin experience, they had us caravan (in a fleet of Superjeeps!) deep into the country to see their small bottling plant.
From there we were able to check out the exact spot of the water source for every one of their bottles of gin.
Martin Miller’s Gin co-founder David Bromige leads to troops out to the gin’s water source.
Martin Miller’s Gin co-founder David Bromige
Martin Miller’s Gin was also hosting a global cocktail design competition called We Are The Tastemakers, and had flown out 6 regional winners from all over the world to compete in the Grand Final.
The bartenders Lisandro Araoz from Argentina, Markus Muller from Germany, Gorge Camorra from Australia, Allen Cheng from Taiwan…
as well as Alex Lawrence and Megs DeMeulenaure both from the UK, each presented their original Martin Miller’s Gin cocktails for journalists from the UK, USA and mainland Europe. There was so much ingenuity, and thought that went into every one of these cocktails, it was so difficult to choose! In the end, the winning cocktail was the delightful River Martini from Germany’s Markus Muller.
The entire experience was pretty spectacular. And while I was already a fan of Martin Miller’s Gin, I really came away from this visit with a new-found respect for the passion behind producing this spirit and the importance of the water that they use. Using Icelandic water because it’s the purest in the world, when your main operation is in the UK is no easy feat! That is commitment to quality gin!
In the below video that Giggle Water Productions created from our visit last May, Martin Miller’s Gin C.E.O., Jacob Ehrenkrona, stressed how important it is to actually make the kind of trek that we did to truly understand the product. I’m so glad that I was able to be a part of it. It really was the Summer of Gin!
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know that we will be launching an original web series called “Wanderlush” in the fall, that will essentially bring the blog to life. It will merge travel, style and drinking culture. And, Iceland is our first stop! We gave you a sneak peek in July and a taste of what’s to come in this post but we will finally reveal our first episode next month! Stay tuned for more Icelandic magic!
This post was made possible by Martin Miller’s Gin. All opinions are my own.
Update: Watch here until 4:30 EST 9/3/15
We’re at it again! The Boozy Babes, Emily Arden Wells from Gastronomista and myself are hitting the sauce on live Periscope TV again…later today! What could go wrong?!
This time we’re making, sipping & chatting ALL about the SPRITZ! With Labor Day looming and the warm days waning, my favorite summer aperitif gets extra attention in this special segment with the always charming Masa Urushido at downtown hot spot Saxon + Parole.
Tune in today at 4:30 pm EST either through the Periscope app on your phone or on Twitter. But you have to watch this through Roker Labs profile in either place. Just start following Roker Labs, and look out for the link when we go live! If you do watch live, please ask us questions so we can answer on air. It’s more fun if it’s a party! See you later!
Tales of the Cocktail is the largest cocktail conference in the world, so it makes sense that it takes place in the booziest town in the world, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Tales (as it’s affectionately referred to by those in-the-know) attracts the top bartenders, brands, industry leaders, media and influencers – a collection of who’s who of the cocktail world – as well as enthusiasts, from as far away as Spain, Australia and Peru. So, it’s basically 25,000 international booze nerds crammed into the French Quarter for 5 days straight, during the steamiest, sweatiest, and stinkiest time of year in the deep south – smack dab in the middle of July. I’ve been equally terrified and desperate to go to Tales ever since I got involved in this spirited industry. This past July marked the 13th year for the cocktail fest and it marked my lucky 1st! It was pretty special, you guys. Want to hear about it? Oh, good, because it’s been almost exactly a month and I’m DYING to tell you!
Did I mention that it was hot? Like, HOTTT. Think about the hottest you’ve ever been in the elements and then double that and then add a few more degrees of HOT, subtract half the oxygen in the air, and then add a permanent veneer of sweat over everything. Oh, and Nola just happened to be going through a heat wave during Tales week, so it was even more of a human crawfish boil than normal! Luckily, we were staying in a lovely ice box, high above the chaos of Bourbon Street!
Ok, now try to imagine driiinking in that atmosphere. There are bottles of water everywhere, branded fans are given out alongside marketing materials and whenever and wherever possible, the AC is cranking. A lot of effort goes into keeping the crowds hydrated and chilled. Despite all that, you’re still sweating 100% of the time. Luckily there are cocktails to distract you from all of this. Soooo many cocktails.
There are seminars starting at 9am that come equipped with generous samplings, brand luncheons with multiple cocktail pairings served by noon at the latest, and floor upon floor of tasting rooms occupying much of the official Tales headquarters at the Hotel Monteleone, home of the famed Carousel Bar, happening ALL DAY LONG.
Not to mention, there are huge, conceptual brand parties that cap off each day, stretching into the wee hours, and as you can imagine, drinking is encouraged!
Snapshots from the William Grant & Sons Yonderyear Party
Despite everyone’s enthusiasm to try errrrthang, it’s just not physically possible. Frequent attendees and Tales workers are fond of telling you to pace yourself. You’ll hear a variation of “Tales of the Cocktail is a marathon, not a sprint” multiple times before the week is out. But, it’s a great reminder because 1. you want to TRY to remember everything you’re tasting 2. you don’t want to be THAT PERSON and 3. you do not, repeat DO NOT want to be hungover in that heat. It’s probably the meanest thing you can do to yourself.
Despite the insane heat, the struggle to stay sober, and the constant FOMO because I couldn’t be everywhere at once, I had an amazing time! I brought some foxy friends along with me for the journey who also helped document the experience. Here are my highlights!
This band in Jackson Square.
This view over coffee every morning:
This wise ass at The Grill who was kind enough to let me have grits past noon:
This sunset taken right before our flawless backyard dinner at Bacchanal:
And, this – the magical Beam Suntory Jul(e)p Hour House…
Imagine, it’s a 95+ degree day in Nola, and you walk into the most genteel French Colonial home, where you are greeted with a cool, damp cloth for your forehead, live ragtime music coming from a dapper gentleman at the baby grand, and all the whisk(e)ys in the world served to you in ice cold julep form. Well, all the whiskys in the Beam Suntory portfolio, that is. Which is quite impressive. It is NOT a dream. You have arrived at Jul(e)p Hour and you may never want to leave. At least I didn’t!
Alberta Rye Dark Batch Whisky made one of my favorite juleps!
The impressive Beam Suntory whisky line-up.
With Simon Brooking, Master Ambassador for Laphroaig
Every room in this French Quarter oasis was dedicated to a different whisky and their own signature juleps for the occasion. We also had the advantage of having the ambassadors and master experts on hand to answer any questions and taste the good stuff on its own. From sampling traditional juleps made with Maker’s Mark to sipping on a pineapple and peat version made with Laphroaig, and a top shelf julep with newly launched Japanese whisky, Hibiki Japanese Harmony, we were able to get our julep on, and then some!
The House of Suntory Whisky introduced a new expression from the Hibiki Range: Hibiki Japanese Harmony.
The very first tasting I attended when I arrived to Tales was actually one of my favorites. It was held at “Café Torino”, a beautiful, very Italian pop up installation from Martini & Rossi. The tasting was a kick off to a week of them hosting a (much appreciated) coffee shop during the day with vermouth cocktails at night. At the tasting, I was able to try two new expressions in their Martini Riserva Speciale line – Ambrato and Rubino (amber and ruby).
Martini’s Master Herbalist, Ivano Tonutti and Master Blender, Beppe Musso led the tasting
The Ambrato, made from Moscato d’Asti and golden in color is floral and aromatic, slightly bitter, with a touch of honey. In other words, totally my jam. The Rubino is true to its name and is a stunning ruby red color. The addition of full bodied Nebbiolo and Central African Red Sandalwood makes for a rich and complex vermouth that is really wonderful on its own but I could also see it making a spectacular Manhattan. At the end of the tasting Giuseppe Gallo, Martini’s Global Brand Ambassador asked us which expression was our favorite. And it was truly difficult to pick! All I know is vermouth is having a major moment right now. And it’s exciting that a classic brand like Martini & Rossi is continuing to be innovative, pushing superior products to the forefront. Speaking of which, I was also able to taste their limited edition Gran Lusso Vermouth, released for the company’s 150th anniversary a few years ago, but not yet sampled by me! Holy smokes, that’s a vermouth! A Barbera base that is then fortified with oak-aged Moscato must extract and a botanical blend based on a recipe from 1904, this is truly a sipping vermouth, meant to be appreciated neat or with a few cubes of ice.
Another highlight of the week was getting my very own TinType portrait taken by Legendary photographer Victoria Will for St–Germain Elderflower Liqueur’s French Embassy Cocktail Party. TinTypes, popular at fairs and festivals in the 19th century, are created by having the photographer shoot a picture and then develop it quickly by hand onto a thin sheet of lacquered metal. As you can imagine, it was also VERY popular at this festival! I felt extremely lucky to have been able to squeeze into this shoot!
My Victoria Will TinType portrait:
I was also excited to meet Camille Vidal, St–Germain Global Brand Ambassador, aka Madam St-Germain in person finally! This French beauty is such a perfect representation of the brand and I’ve admired everything she’s been doing to get this wonderful product out to the masses. She lives and breathes the French aperitif life!
What’s so wonderful about Tales of the Cocktail is that there are experts on hand at every tasting and event. Everywhere you look there is a legend in the spirits industry. From an intimate, exclusive sneak peek and tasting of Wild Turkey Master’s Keep and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye (both to be released later this year!) with Jimmy and Eddie Russell, themselves…
Three generations of Wild Turkey: Jimmy Russell, Eddie Russell and Bruce Russell
…to a personal tasting and bonding sesh over all things gin related with Beefeater Master Distiller, Desmond Payne – Tales is a booze nerd’s fantasy.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to try Burrough’s Reserve Barrel Finished Gin, do yourself a favor and treat yourself. Distilled in small batches and rested in French oak Lillet aperitif wine barrels, the result is less gin-like and more…like an aperitif, actually! It’s on the slightly sweeter side, with floral hints, is incredibly smooth and the botanicals are subtle. One of my favorite products I tried at Tales.
Another fantastic thing about Tales is that you have the opportunity to connect with so many of the other writers, bloggers, influencers and cocktail geeks out there that you only really know from their work online. I’ve developed a lot of amazing virtual relationships these last couple of years and it was amazing to finally be able to put real life faces to names and websites. I had the great pleasure of meeting Greg Mays and his wife Lisa Mays, the dynamic duo behind Simple Cocktails out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not only do they run a really solid website, but they do a fun boozy podcast as well! On my fourth day into Tales, we sat next to each other at a fantastic Jägermeister luncheon and then, afterwards shared a car back to the Hotel Monteleone. In between that, I participated in one of their podcasts! I was so honored that they asked me to be a part of it and psyched to be among such top cocktail talent. Check out this special Tales Podcast that also features Camper English, Tanya Cohn, Ivy Mix (this year’s American Bartender of the Year!), Dale Degroff (King Cocktail!), and Philip Dobard.
So, these are just SOME of the highlights of Tales of the Cocktail 2015 for me. While this is an epic post, I could go even more in depth on almost ALL of these experiences, New Orleans and the incredible people I was able to meet and spend time with last month. But I will save your scrolling finger for now and wrap it up right here!
However, you will hear more from me on Tales. Some posts in particular will detail two Spirited Dinners I was lucky enough to participate in – one with Maker’s Mark at the legendary Commander’s Palace with some truly spectacular company, and the other with the founder of Tres Agave Tequila at Nola hot spot Johnny Sanchez. Look out for more Tales recaps to come!
Special thanks to my foxy friend entourage who accompanied me on this sweaty, boozy journey and helped document the amazingness along the way! In particular, the very talented Shannon Carpenter from This Aperture.
If you’ve been following my social media recently, then you know that I made a trip out to Louisiana last month to visit the TABASCO® headquarters on beautiful Avery Island.
I was lucky enough to be invited with eight other food and drinks bloggers to experience the unique production of the legendary pepper sauce, TABASCO®, firsthand, in the place where it was birthed by Edmund McIlhenny over 150 years ago. The recipe of crushed red hot peppers, vinegar and salt hasn’t changed in all of that time (except the higher quality vinegar used and the barrel aging is quite a bit longer). Despite its worldwide notoriety and mass distribution, this devotion to consistency and quality control may be due to the fact that the company is still family owned five generations later. And that family, the McIlhenny’s, invited us into their world…
We really got to see and experience the entire process for how TABASCO® is made from seed…
The mash consists of just peppers and salt and is aged up to three years in white oak barrels.
…to barrel aging.
We even witnessed fifth generation President and CEO, Anthony “Tony” Simmons, testing out the pepper mash as he does every morning at 9am. Talk about hands on! Our sinuses were VERY clear after this visit!
Then we went on the factory line.
We were then given a guided tasting of all of the TABASCO® flavors with Tony Simmons and Charlie Chang, TABASCO’S brilliant in-house food scientist and flavor creator.
To get the full Cajun experience, we were taken into town to New Iberia’s Boiling Point restaurant, and treated to massive amounts of crawfish and indulged in Louisiana delicacies like gator balls and po boys. With extra TABASCO® on the side, of course!
Avery Island, is a magical and historic place – home to TABASCO® as well as nearly half the company’s 200 employees, many of whom are 3rd and 4th generation workers themselves.
The Marsh House – original family home and where many of us stayed while in Avery Island.
Ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss, rare birds, and indigenous plants pepper the island. A gigantic nature preserve takes up much of the island and serves as a sanctuary for birds and alligators alike! We saw both! Guess which one I squealed the most about….
It is also a popular destination for visitors coming to tour the TABASCO® factory and have a stroll and a picnic afterwards.
This shrine houses a centuries old Buddha given as a gift to E. A. McIlhenny in 1936.
For our last night on Avery Island, we were treated to an insanely delicious multi-course dinner menu inspired by all things TABASCO® , created by celebrity chef, Aáron Sánchez.
That afternoon, we got a sneak peek at what was to come when Aáron had a cooking demo for us with his gulf snapper ceviche marinated with TABASCO® Green Jalapeño Sauce. Thank goodness we were able to have a full dish to ourselves as a starter later that night!
But, one of the highlights of the trip had to be a cocktail demo with bartender Nick Detrich of New Orleans’ Cane & Table, named one of five best new cocktail bars in America from Bon Appetit last year. He created two original cocktails using TABASCO® as a highlighted ingredient, and they were both amazing.
But, of the two cocktails Nick prepared, my favorite had to be the Scotch and Salt. A stirred Scotch drink with a grapefruit TABASCO® shrub, vermouth and a TABASCO® salt solution. The recipe looks a little involved but Nick made large batches of the shrub and salt solution that made the recipe a lot easier for us to handle individually. Not to mention, this drink is totally worth it! I’ve provided the recipe below so you can try to give this one a shot!
Scotch &Salt – makes one cocktail
Created by Nick Detrich of Cane & Table
For the shrub:
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice, strained
1/2 cup Tabasco® Green Jalapeño Sauce
2 cups demerara sugar
For the salt solution:
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Tabasco® Spicy Salt
1/4 cup Louisiana Smoked Pecan Salt
For the cocktail:
1 1/2 ounces blended scotch whiskey (Dewars preferred)
3/4 ounce Alessio Vermouth di Torino Rosso
1/2 ounce Kina Avion D’Or
1/4 ounce grapefruit shrub
4 drops salt solution
Orange peel, for garnish
For the shrub:
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine grapefruit juice and Tabasco Green Jalapeño Sauce until heated through. Remove from heat, add sugar and stir to incorporate. For the salt solution: Blend all ingredients in a blender until incorporated.
For the cocktail:
In an Old Fashioned glass with ice, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Garnish with orange peel.
This was an incredible trip! A gorgeous immersion into southern Louisiana and a peek into the production of one of the most iconic brands in the world. I loved meeting everyone associated with the company as well as getting to know the other bloggers invited on this trip. Over the course of the next couple of months, you’ll see cocktail recipes from me inspired by TABASCO® and the captivating world of gators and bayous. Look out for a classic cocktail this Friday with a decidedly spicy twist!
Y’all come back now, y’hear?!
Disclosure: This trip and this post was made possible by TABASCO® in conjunction with the TABASCO® Tastemakers program. This is the first in a series of posts over the next several months that will feature the Tabasco Family of Flavors in cocktail recipes. As always, all opinions are my own!
Photo by Getty Images for AMC
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World! The countdown has begun on the final seven episodes of one of the most acclaimed and stylish television shows of all time, Mad Men. And, in anticipation of the final season, there has been a number of initiatives around New York City to help us immerse ourselves in the sexy, glamorous, and boozy world of Don Draper, and the men and women of Madison Avenue. The Museum of Moving Image is hosting creator Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men Exhibit through June, and there has been an installation of a Don Draper bench as well as a change in street signs (Mad Men Ave/Don Draper Way) right outside the Time & Life Building, the home of fictional advertising firm Sterling Cooper & Partners.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for AMC
But, to really get all of our senses prepared for next Sunday’s premiere episode, this past week New York City has been in the throes of Mad Men Dining Week, where many of us ate and drank our way through the 1960s. From last Monday, March 23rd up until yesterday, the 29th, 34 New York City restaurants participated in this lunchtime promotion that featured 60s style menu items and “liquid lunches” for a cool $19.69.
Since I am a HUGE fan of the show and I have always been aesthetically drawn to the 1960s, AND I also happen to work in the Time & Life Building…I’m pretty sure all of these festivities leading up to the finale were designed JUST FOR ME. In case you haven’t been following me on social media, I DID in fact, partake in many a liquid lunch last week. Let’s talk about it!
Last Monday, my introduction to Mad Men Dining Week was at the classic seafood restaurant, Blue Water Grill in Union Square…
…where I parked myself at the bar for a good hour and a half while, Jason, my skilled and attentive bartender, treated me to my very own Joan Holloway experience. Pardon my fuzzy iPhone pics while I take you on this boozy journey…
Staying within the theme of 1960s style cocktails, Blue Water Grill’s “Liquid Lunch” offerings were two tipples inspired by the era: a Whisky Sour type cocktail and a Vesper:
1 oz Gin
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Lillet
Stirred. Strained into a Martini glass. Onion garnish.
2 oz Canadian Whisky
1 oz Blood OJ
1/2 oz fresh lemon
1/2 oz simple syrup
Shake all ingredients and strain over a large cube in a rocks glass. Brandied cherry garnish.
While both cocktails were delicious, I was partial to the Mad Sour. You can’t go wrong with whisky and blood orange juice. And, you could make a meal out of those brandied cherries! After one Vesper and very little lunch, however, you’d be behaving as inappropriately as Roger Sterling in no time!
The next day, I headed to PJ Clarke’s, the historic saloon on East 55th street that can be seen in episode 8 of the first season Mad Men, “Hobo Code.”
The upstairs dining area, Sidecar, was serving a lunch and drink special. I thought it wise, since I had to go back to work, to keep the cocktails to a minimum this time.
By filling my belly with their signature cheeseburger, famously dubbed “The Cadillac of burgers” by Nat King Cole in the late 1950s, I guaranteed my ability to handle my one boozy indulgence…
While their drink specials included an Old Fashioned and a delicious sounding whiskey, rum and brandy cocktail, I knew I had to get a Sidecar…while I was at Sidecar!
I’m so glad I did! Emily, behind the bar, lovingly prepared this drink like she was making it for Peggy Olsen herself!
1 1/2 oz Cognac
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz lemon juice
Add the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake 8 to 10 seconds, until the outside of the shaker is well chilled. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist. Sugared rim optional.
While the 21 Club has never actually made an appearance in Mad Men…
…the place is an New York institution, synonymous with classic cocktails, well-heeled patrons and power lunches. It’s no wonder they participated in Mad Men Dining Week! I knew exactly where I wanted to sit – on one of the newly appointed stools at the bar in the back Bar Room.
Apparently, the bar stools were such new additions to the back bar, that I had the honor of being bartender Mark’s first lunch patron! Perched up on one of the best seats in the house, overlooking the entire dining room, I felt even closer to the toys and artifacts dangling from the former speakeasy’s ceiling, that dated back to the 30s, including a toy torpedo boat from John F. Kennedy and a baseball bat from Willie Mays.
I went for the lunch special with a traditional Caesar salad and melt in your mouth braised short ribs over whipped parsnips. And, a Manhattan, of course! Don Draper, eat your heart out!
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
4-5 dashes bitters
Add ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
For my final Mad Men Dining Week experience, I decided to go all out, and headed to famed French restaurant, Le Cirque.
I’m not kidding around when I say we went all out…
Escargot á la Bourguignonne!
Brisket of Beef with pomme au gratin!
“Ile Flottante – floating island”! (a delicious meringue, cream and berry delight!)
We went for the lunch AND drink special, because…Friday. So, we each started with a Champagne cocktail and then ordered the heavy-duty cocktails second.
Look at that gorgeous Stinger! That cocktail doesn’t look so bad, either! Zing! I ordered a Sidecar for my second drink, but I couldn’t help capturing my lovely lunch date with her perfect Stinger. It’s also a cocktail that has been out of fashion for so long, it was a fun one to be able to try off of the menu. This cocktail, composed of just Cognac and Créme de Menthe, tastes exactly like a grown up after dinner mint. And it was a perfect one to cap off our Mad Men Dining Week.
1 oz Créme de Menthe
Add ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
What a great idea to introduce new clientele to these time-honored restaurants, and such a fun excuse to dress up, explore some classic New York establishments and indulge in some liquid lunches! I don’t know how those ad men and women did it back in the day! But I’m willing to bring back the boozy tradition every now and again!
Oh, hello gorgeous. I didn’t see you there. Don’t mind me. I’m just hanging out here in these lonely woods, surrounded by candlelight, and smelling like a GD gingerbread man. Would you like a…taste?
♪ ♫ Bow chicka wow wowwww. ♪ ♫
We’re taking cocktail porn to a whole new level with this little number. The spiciness is off the charts, people!
Perhaps the incessant, bone chilling cold that has had a grip on New York City for the last three months is finally getting to me. Do I have a little case of cabin fever? Likely. Do I have a house full of booze to keep me company? Affirmative. Am I creating 70s Cocktailsploitation films in my kitchen to keep me entertained? Maaayhaps. I do have a sheepskin rug and a penchant for low lighting. It’s been a long ass winter, you guys! What’s a girl to do?
In any case, this little ménage á quatre below made some magic happen a few nights ago when thrown together…
Ok, the ingredient list was a little more than quatre. There was a touch of maple syrup and an entire egg to tame those flavor beasts – BACARDÍ Black, the richest, darkest and fullest bodied rum from the worlds biggest rum branch, Ancho Reyes, a kick-y ancho chile liqueur, a savory Aged Citrus Bitters from Five by Five Tonics Co., and an intense chai tea concentrate from Dona Chai. Boom! The rich, creaminess of one whole egg was a necessary component to this dark flavor bomb in order to round out the edges. And, in the end, it really did taste like a voluptuous cup full of boozy gingerbread.
I’d been wanting to play with all of these ingredients, but the Dona Chai tea concentrate had been on the top of my list for a while now. Hand crafted in Brooklyn in small batches, with an emphasis on sustainability, everything in this bottle screams cozy, winter, fireside yumminess – cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, cloves, black peppercorns, ginger, and black tea. In fact, it was so perfect in this cocktail, I’m curious to see if I can experiment with some lighter, warm weather concoctions to go in a completely different direction. That is, once it finally thaws…in a million years.
Five by Five Bitters is also made in small batches by hand in Chico, California, using organic or wild crafted botanicals. I got my hands on a few bottles of these recently and found the very versatile Aged Citrus Bitters a lovely addition to this cocktail.
You may have noticed that BACARDÍ bottle may look a little different from what you’re used to…
That’s because BACARDÍ has recently launched their first packaging update in more than a decade. These beautiful Art Deco inspired bottles are taller, slimmer, and more bartender friendly. The design also reflects their Cuban heritage, with a look to the past. Personally, I love the new retro bat logo!
(For more info, or concerns about using eggs in cocktails, the necessary ‘dry shake’ & what a flip cocktail technically IS, read my previous post, Using Eggs in Cocktails.)
The Foxy Chai Flip
2 oz Bacardi Black Rum
1 oz Ancho Reyes Liqueur
3/4 oz Maple Syrup
1/4 oz Dona Chai Tea Concentrate
2-3 Dashes Five by Five Tonics Bitters
Dry shake all ingredients for 15-20 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 15-20 seconds. Strain slowly into a well chilled large coupe glass. Dash of bitters on top.