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BBaF Podcast Episode 65: English Sparkling Wine with Chapel Down’s Josh Donaghay-Spire

Listen to Episode 65: English Sparkling Wine with Chapel Down’s Josh Donaghay-Spire”

English sparkling wine is suddenly all the rage with wine experts and enthusiasts alike. But it’s been bubbling up for the last 30-40 years, spearheaded by the leading English sparkler (and apparently the royal family’s fave), Chapel Down.

I recently sat down with head wine maker Josh Donaghay-Spire while he was in town, and we chatted about the exciting category of English sparkling wine. 

This week’s cocktail recipe is an English winemaker’s twist on the classic French 75…

English 75
1.5 oz of London Dry Gin
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
Chapel Down Brut

Shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup over ice. Strain into a chilled flute or coupe glass, and top with Chapel Down Brut.

Introducing The Master Blend – A Bartender Series on The Bit by a Fox Podcast

Listen to The Master Blend – A Bartender Series: Aaron Polsky”

This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, we are kicking off an exciting new series, The Master Blend – A Bartender Series

In collaboration with Bertoux Brandy, the Bit by a Fox Podcast will host a series of interviews with some of America’s most acclaimed and innovative bartenders. They’ll be discussing their distinct style, inspirations, and journey to influencing today’s cocktail culture.

Kicking off this first episode in the series is Aaron Polsky. Part Mad Scientist, part Jimmy Page, part sweet Jersey boy, Aaron is the creative bar director behind the lively Rock & Roll cocktail bar in Hollywood, Harvard & Stone

Aaron’s BERTOUX Brandy cocktail recipe is a riff on the French 75, named after a Kiss song, Black Diamond.

Black Diamond
1.5 oz BERTOUX Brandy
.5 oz St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
.5 oz homemade elderberry or blueberry liqueur*
.75 oz fresh lime juice
Champagne

Shake BERTOUX Brandy, liqueurs and juice over ice. Strain into coupe with sugared rim. Top with champagne or sparkling wine 

**Blend 1/2lb fresh elderberries or blueberries with 500mL vodka. Strain, combine with 500mL simple syrup and bottle.  Will hold indefinitely.

BBaF Podcast Episode 40: Cognac Pt. 2

Listen to Episode 40: Cognac Pt. 2″

For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast we are continuing on to Part 2 of our Cognac series.

Last month, I had the great honor of visiting the Cognac region in the Southwest of France at the very start of harvest season. It was truly a magical time to be there. That familiar shift from summer to fall was a palpable feeling, the light was especially golden in the vineyards, and the grapes were heavy with juice. One could really sense that this was first and foremost a wine region. And to truly understand Cognac, you need to understand wine. Over the course of the week, I was able to visit a variety of Cognac houses and sit down with cellar masters, family distillers and representatives to discuss what makes their approach just a little different from the next house. The beauty of this visit was the diversity in how each Maison approached their process. I loved how varied each one was from one another. But the common thread with all of those I spoke to and visited was the passion behind the process.

In this week’s episode I sit down with two very different Cognac houses. One house, in the heart of the Grand Champagne region, is rooted in tradition, and the other is a young brand that is shaking up the category with some modern techniques.

My first guest  is Patrice Piveteau, deputy general manager and cellar master at Cognac Frapin.

The Frapin family has been in the heart of the Grande Champagne region in the SW France since the middle ages first as wine growers and then distillers of Cognac. They’ve continued this tradition for 20 generations. They are considered a smaller house but have the unusual good fortune of owning all of their vineyards over 200 hectares or Ugni blanc grape vines. After a tour of the vineyards A cellar whose framework was created by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame and a tasting of their incredibly varied line up. It was a privilege to sit down with Patrice, one of the most well regarded cellar masters in the region.

My guest this week is also winemaker, distiller and Bourgoin Cognac family member, Frédéric Bourgoin.

The Bourgoin family has been wine growers servicing the cognac industry since 1930. Frederic’s great-grandfather was a grape-grower, who worked with many of the most highly regarded Cognac houses in the region. But it wasn’t until recently that they’ve decided to produce their own brand. Their approach is especially connected to the family land, producing organic grapes and employing biodynamic techniques. Minimal intervention and zero chemical interference is key their grape to glass philosophy. They’ve already started to gain a cult following with their modern packaging and hyper hand-crafted approach.

This week’s cocktail recipe is the classic French 75 made with Cognac:

French 75
1 oz cognac
1/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
4-5 oz champagne

Pour cognac, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a very cold Champagne glass, top with bubbly, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Rose de Noël

I’m dreaming of a….pink Christmas.

rose de noel title

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

The Rose de Noël is a take on one of my favorite festive cocktails, the French 75: Vodka replaces the gin, pink peppercorn syrup takes the place of simple syrup or a sugar cube, and a sparkling rosé is used instead of reg ol’ bubbly. And, a dusting of sugar and crushed pink peppercorns on the rim of the champagne flute, takes this drink up a few flavor-filled notches. You’ll be dreaming of a pink Christmas too!

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Vodka is normally not my go-to spirit, but I’ve always said I’m an equal opportunist in more ways than one! It’s such a versatile spirit, there is no wonder why it is still so wildly popular. When I do events, I always include a vodka cocktail. The Holiday Highball will never not be one of the most popular drinks at a holiday party. During a recent, intimate gathering hosted by All’Onda Restaurant and the good folks behind Snow Leopard Vodka, I experienced, firsthand, just how versatile this spirit can be, especially when it is of quality. We had a delicious milk punch that night, as well as an Italian-style cocktail with bitter liqueur and citrus. It was a great way to demonstrate Snow Leopard Vodka’s adaptability in very different cocktails, and a perfect introduction for many of us to this new product.

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Aside from delivering an award-winning product, the first luxury vodka made with Spelt grain, Snow Leopard Vodka also donates part of their proceeds to saving endangered Snow Leopards!

With less than 3,500 snow leopards estimated to be remaining in the wild it is our mission to help save this critically endangered species from extinction and to help improve the livelihoods of the poor herder families who share their home range.

15% of all our profits, and monies raised by our fundraising activities, are given directly to snow leopard conservation projects through the Snow Leopard Trust.

Our goal is to sell 150,000 cases of Snow Leopard vodka annually, generating enough revenue and awareness to safeguard the Snow Leopard’s future.

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Le Grand Courtâge Brut Rosé, a fairly new sparkling wine made in Burgundy with a blend of Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, and Gamay, works well in the Rose de Noël cocktail. Acidic and dry, fruity and floral, with distinct strawberry flavors on the nose and palate. And, at $22 a bottle, it won’t break the bank when you are feeling festive!

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

A note about the elegant bar tools, tray, shaker and coasters featured in this post. They are all from the Harrison Collection from Pottery Barn. Aren’t they the shiniest things you’ve ever seen? The entire line is based on the style of French champagne buckets, and, ooh la la, they absolutely glow! These are not only show pieces that you’ll want hanging out on the top of your bar or displayed alongside pretty glassware and elegant bottles on a credenza, they are fully functional AND radiant. My favorite combo.

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Try the Rose de Noël for the holidays and into the new year! For the super easy pink peppercorn syrup recipe, you can go to this previous post.

Rose de Noël Cocktail from the Bit by a Fox blog

Rose de Noël
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz pink peppercorn syrup
sparkling rosé
Garnish: pink peppercorn syrup, crushed pink peppercorns and sugar blend

To garnish the glass, dip the rim of a flute glass in a little bit of the pink peppercorn syrup and then the pink peppercorn/sugar mixture. Build the first three ingredients in the glass. Top it all off with sparkling rosé.

Welcome to Hibiscus Town!

hibiscus cocktail syrupA few weeks back I made a hibiscus syrup for a Hibiscus Pisco Sour cocktail I created to feature the delightful Capurro Pisco. And because my Italian side is dominant when it comes to portion size, I made enough syrup to sweeten up a small village. I’ve been living in hibiscus town ever since. It’s a tarty, magenta colored dream. Come along with me, you guys. I’ll show you around!

flowersAs many folks in subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world know, hibiscus flowers are not just lovely to look at, when they are dried, they can be a delicious addition to all kinds of recipes. But they are most commonly used to brew a refreshing tea served both hot and cold and known by different names throughout the world:  “Sour Tea” in Iran, “Agua de Jamaica” in Latin America, “Sorrel” throughout the Caribbean and “Karkadé” in Egypt and Sudan. This bright, tart, and tangy tea has been enjoyed for centuries, is said to have been the preferred beverage of the pharaohs, and is commonly used for a variety of health benefits, most notably to lower blood pressure and support upper respiratory and heart health. These pretty, little dried flowers can also be steeped in sugar and water to produce the most gorgeous looking syrup, perfect for all of those spring cocktails that you’ve been wanting to whip up! Tea and spice shops often carry dried hibiscus flowers, but if you are having trouble finding it, you can always go online!

Hibiscus Cocktail Syrup
1 cup of sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers
Tbsp lime zest
Pinch of salt to taste

Combine sugar, water and hibiscus over med-high heat in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring until all sugar is dissolved. With the heat off, let steep for another 20 minutes. Add lime zest and pinch of salt. Double strain through wire mesh and let cool. Will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

You can substitute most simple syrups with this ruby-hued delight to liven up your springtime cocktails. In fact, just last week, while visiting sunny Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of mixing up a few batches of hibiscus French 75s for some foxy Angelenos. They were a huge hit!

hibiscus cocktails

hibiscus french 75.jpgHibiscus French 75
1.5 oz dry gin
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz hibiscus syrup
sparkling wine

Build the first three ingredients in the glass. Then top it all off with bubbly.

In a pinch, you can add a spot of this syrup to sparkling wine on its own for some extra color and zip! And you can call it the Hibiscus Royale. You’re welcome!

And because I didn’t include a recipe for the Hibiscus Pisco Sour a few weeks back, here it is!

Hibiscus Pisco Sour - Bit By a Fox Blog2 oz Capurro Premium Pisco
1 oz lime juice
1 oz hibiscus syrup
1 egg white
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

 

 


Dry shake – shake first four ingredients without ice first to emulsify egg white. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into coupe glass and top with bitters.

Welcome to hibiscus town! You may never want to leave. Now, tell me what you end up doing with this tarted up syrup while you’re here!

Cocktail Love, Firsts and Favorites

Foxy Friend, Lee Houck takes over Bit By a Fox this week in what may be the beginning of a series of guest blogging posts about important cocktail experiences, favorite tipples and thoughts on drinking. 

Lee in the bathroom

At some point during my mother’s visit to New York City back in April, she remarked, apropos of our evening: “You sure do drink a lot.”  She was here for her birthday, so we’d been to the matinee of Chicago at the Ambassador Theater, and then we all (her, me, my dad and my boyfriend) had a happy hour drink at the Pegu Club — I had the Bayleaf Martini.  Then with dinner at Saxon + Parole, I drank a Chartreuse Swizzle, which is maybe the gayest drink in the history of history.  (About who ordered it, my dad joked, pointing to me when the server arrived, “Eenie meenie miney, MO.”)  I had a second.  With dessert, I ordered a Grasshopper, because, well, it was on the dessert menu and so why wouldn’t you?

Was I drinking a lot?  It didn’t seem like a lot.  “Well, every time you sit down to dinner, you have a drink,” she added.  It’s true.  Every time I sit down to dinner — at a restaurant, that is — I have a drink.  Also sometimes happy hours here and there.  Or a shaken something (let’s be honest, mostly terrible) at home when I’m cooking dinner.

When I moved to New York sixteen years ago from Tennessee, the only drinking I had done was:

1) Tiny sips of whatever the adults were having at parties thrown by my parents.  They like Leibfraumilch in the tall cobalt bottle, and my dad likes good Bourbon.

2) Giant horrible burning gulps of Alizé while hiking mountain trails.  (What?)

3) Half a glass of fruity red while watching the Tony Awards at the home of my theater teacher during high school.  (Yeah, I know.)

4) Three bottles of Zima at sixteen while enjoying the dance floor (read: being groped by older men) at New Orleans’ own “The Parade” after my friend Andrea decided I would look 21 as long as I was wearing dark eyeliner.  (Yeah…I know.)

Once I got to New York, I spent a short time drinking beer, because I had a completely platonic man crush on a straight guy who was really into Belgian wheat beers, and he talked to me about why I should like them.  “Orange peel and coriander,” he always said, and I later used that line to get laid at dive bars in the 90s, or so I like to think.  Then I had a boyfriend for a couple years who was deeply into good wine and he taught me a lot about how to order a bottle for the table, and what I should be looking for in various bottles.

Then — I’m not sure if it was just me, or the general resurgence of the mixologist culture of the last several years — I fell in love with cocktails.  I fell sweepingly, deeply in love with how the right drink for the right occasion with the right mix of friends can feel like the edges of everything are shiny and meaningful.  I don’t think it’s just the alcohol talking.

Lee's cocktails

I love a Negroni on a back porch.  I love a Salty Dog on the beach when it’s starting to get cool.  I love a Sazerac when the jukebox is too loud.  I love a dry martini at the Algonquin.  I love the French 75 at the Read House in Chattanooga.

I love bartenders.  I love Richard Brooks shaking a fruity Southeast Asia-inspired tall icy thing at the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle.  I love Jeff Bell’s diligent, careful mixing at PDT.  I love Kristi Andre at the new Wheated on Church Avenue in Ditmas Park and their insane Cuba Libre.  I love the sugar-plus-Tropicana-plus-red wine Sangria served by bent, ancient men at The Spain Restaurant on 13th Street.  I even love the not-to-be-named woman at another local joint who didn’t know what an Aperol Soda was — she gave it a taste, proclaimed it like “cough medicine for robots” and then charged me $12.  I love a Manhattan with or without a cheeseburger, basically anywhere.

More than all that, however, I love that in the last year — and maybe mostly because I was drinking “a lot” back in April — I’ve transferred that love into a kind of cocktail menu empowerment.  I was having dinner with my mom in Chattanooga at the now-closed Niko’s Southside, and I was able to convince her that the St. Germain Spritz was totally her drink.

“Will I like that?” she said.

“You’ll love it,” I told her.  “Bright flavors, aromatic, perfectly light and drinkable.”

Okay, I don’t remember what I said about it at the time, but that sounds like a description I might have offered, right?  The point is, that’s what happens when you love something like I love a good cocktail.  It feels easy.  You seek out the nuances.  You long for the complex relationships — brief or extended — that a drink can provide.

I’m proud that my mom orders that drink now wherever she can.  Even if she’s in some far-flung Tennessee road house and has to explain what’s in it.

And now, so you never have to wonder what’s in it, here’s the perfect St. Germain Spritz, courtesy of Bit By a Fox:

St-Germain Spritzer

Lee Houck is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work includes essays, stories and poems appearing in numerous anthologies in the U.S., France and Australia, and in his almost-monthly old school printed zine “Crying Frodo.”  His debut novel, “Yield,” was published by Kensington Books. Website: LeeHouck.com

The Gin Fizz

gin fizz“…An early-morning drink with a definite purpose – a panacea for hang-overs,”
– legendary bartender, Trader Vic

Classic cocktails are like Mexican food. (I realize Mexican cuisine is a complex mix of ingredients native to Mexico and those brought over by the Spanish conquistadors, but stay with me here…) Tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas – the proportions are slightly different, the preparations and presentations vary but the ingredients are pretty much interchangeable for each dish – rice, beans, cheese, maybe meat, guac, sour cream, tortilla…For classic cocktails, the same is true. The basic ingredients for creating a balanced cocktail have made it so there are so many similar types of cocktails. Sometimes it’s just the glassware that is different! There is a reason why even skilled bartenders have a recipe book handy.

The Gin Fizz, for instance: Gin, lemon, sugar and seltzer has the same ingredients as the Tom Collins. Both cocktails date back to the late 1800s, became incredibly popular in America between 1900 and the 1940s, and are essentially Gin-flavored, fizzy lemonades. I’ll take two!

The main difference between these two cocktails is the addition of ice and the size of the glass. A 12 oz. Collins glass, of course, is used to accommodate the ice for the Tom Collins. And the Gin Fizz is traditionally served up, without ice and in an 8 oz. glass. There has also been speculation about the type of Gin used in both cocktails. Old Tom Gin – a slightly sweetened type of gin, a precursor to London Dry Gin, that is difficult to find on the market nowadays, was probably most commonly used for both. Some claim the type of Gin was never specified in earlier recipes of the Gin Fizz and that Hollands Gin, or as we know it, Genever Gin was to be used specifically in the Tom Collins. In any case, the lighter, dry English styles tend to work best with both of these drinks.

Variations on the Gin Fizz:
Silver Fizz – with egg white added
Golden Fizz – with egg yolk added
Royal Fizz – with whole egg added
Diamond Fizz – Sparkling Wine instead of Club Soda. Also known as the French 75!
Ramos Gin Fizz – the addition of lime juice, egg white, cream, orange flower water

Bit By a Fox Gin Fizz
2 oz. Gin
1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
Large Spoonful of Superfine Sugar
Club Soda

Shake Gin and lemon juice over ice.
Strain into 8 oz glass.
Top with Club Soda.
Stir with the large spoonful of sugar to make this drink FIZZ!

The sugar stirring at the end is an old bartender’s trick to make this drink extra fizzy! And who wouldn’t want that? You can also put the sugar in the shaker, but that’s just not as fun.

Enjoy!

BBQ It Up With Bubbles!

bbq drinks_1

Take it easy, Carl. These will F*CK you up!

As we head into this Memorial Day weekend, I don’t know about y’all, but I’m getting kinda thirsty! Weather-wise, it’s going to be a mixed bag here in New York, but traditionally this time of year signals the shift from spring to summer. Technically, we still have four weeks of spring to go, but in keeping with the prevailing attitude around here, New York doesn’t give a shit! Pretty much like clockwork, after this holiday weekend, the warm nights start setting in, the streets give birth to the distinct bouquet of garbage, Chinese food and urine , and the slow, familiar trickle of sweat begins its descent from the top of the neck to the lower back. It’s pretty special, you guys. Oh! And those rich, spicy cocktails you were having all winter long? Well, they are starting to change flavors…and bubbles may possibly be involved! BUBBLES!

Ladies, you're DESTROYING the bubbles.

Ladies, you’re DESTROYING the bubbles

Bubbly drinks and BBQ may not sound like the most intuitive pairing, but they are pretty much a dream team. The beauty of most classic Champagne cocktails is that they usually have very few ingredients, so they’re fairly easy to make, which is pretty much a requirement for a low maintenance holiday like Memorial Day.

While I could wax poetic on the Aperol Spritz and sing the praises of the gorgeous simplicity of the Kir Royale, the bubbly cocktail that is really having a moment in my life right now is the French 75.

Truth.

Truth.

Now, I’m not going to name names, but it came to my attention the other night that two very cosmopolitan girlfriends of mine had never tried a French 75 cocktail. Long story short, they did that night and LURVED them and totally got Bit By a Fox. A few days later, I went to a lovely backyard barbecue and brought some ingredients over to make my version of French 75s, and pretty much introduced everyone there to their new favorite warm weather drink. Boom! Totally Bit!

Now, while this drink is crazy refreshing and super magical and everyone needs to know about it, French 75s should probably come with a warning label. BECAUSE THEY TASTE SO GOOD. And too many can be SO BAD…the next day. The combination of wine and spirits is always a dangerous one but the addition of sugar just adds that little extra special headache-y kick. But don’t let that scare you! Just imbibe responsibly. And don’t be a dum dum, drink plenty of water!

Or...you could just do that.

Or…you could just do that.

When it comes to classic cocktails, there is always debate surrounding the origin and exact ingredients. This drink supposedly dates back to 1915 in Paris at The New York Bar, but the recipe wasn’t put into print until 1930, when The Savoy Cocktail Book was released. Popular with the American ex-pats in Paris who came of age during World War I, the French 75 then was finally made famous in America at The Stork Club in New York.

The French 75 is traditionally made with: Gin, Champagne, Lemon Juice and Sugar. Sometimes it’s made with Cognac or even Vodka instead of Gin. Sometimes the sugar is powered or superfine or in a syrup form. And sometimes it’s served in a Collins glass with ice or up in a champagne flute, tulip or coupe glass! There are so many variations, it can be crazy making. So just do some experimenting with those ingredients and make the proportions to suit your tastes. YOU are ultimately the authority on what you like. That being said, this is my blog and the recipe below is a variation on what I made at that backyard barbecue a couple of weekends ago. Because it was dope.

Traditionally, the gin, lemon juice and sugar are shaken with ice and then strained into a glass first (sometimes with ice, sometimes not) and then the bubbles top off the drink. I like to make it easy and build the ingredients in the glass itself, preferably a large coupe-style, without ice, assuming all the ingredients are very cold. No shaker, no problem! (Seriously get a shaker, though. We’ll be needing that for future drinks)

BBAF French 75: Yield: 1 drink

1 1/2 ounces (shot glass) London Dry Gin 
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup (I had a jalapeño mint syrup leftover from making Mint Julips at a Derby party the week before and it worked out well here, but it’s not necessary)
1/2 ounce Lemon Juice (1/2 lemon)
3-4 ounces Brut (Dry) Champagne (or dry sparkling wine like Cava or Prosecco)
A few shakes of Rhubarb Bitters (optional)

(To make a simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water in a saucepan over low heat until dissolved. Cool to room temperature before using. Stash extra for later!)

Build the first three ingredients in the glass, then top it all off with the bubbly so it mixes. Add a few shakes of Rhubarb Bitters for that last spring hurrah. Voila! Bring on the summer!

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

BBaF Podcast Episode 20: WSWA Convention

It’s our 20th episode of the Bit by a Fox Podcast! And we’ve decided to shake it up a little….

A couple of weeks ago I visited the 75th annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. It’s the largest gathering of distributors, wholesalers and products in the wine and spirits industry. It’s where you go to see and be seen. If you’re a wholesaler or distributor, you go there to shop for new products. If you’re a new brand, this is where you go to launch, and look for distribution. It’s often a beta test for brands to see how it is reflected in the industry first before bringing it out to consumers. And it’s overwhelming. SO. MUCH. BOOZE. Over 500 exhibitors, two giant exhibit halls and massive suites turned into brand activations. It’s just a sea of products. It’s difficult to stand out amongst so much, but I found my favorites and wanted to share them with you. This is my first podcast out on the road and I had a portable mic to interview folks in their booths and it was so much fun. #FoxInTheField!

Listen to Episode 20: WSWA Convention” – me

Brands featured:
Look out for these exciting new products in the coming year!

Doug French from Scorpion Mezcal and Sierra Norte Oaxaca Whiskey
Gray Whale Gin from Golden State Distillery with owner Marsh Mokhtari
Priqly (prickly pear liqueur) with owner Jeffrey Friedman
Haikara Sake is up next with Sales Manager Petra Stone
Bom Bom (cream liqueur) with owners Kevin and Eva
Tom’s Town Distilling Co. from Kansas City with the owner Steven Revare
Ginja9, (sour cherry liqueur) from Portugal with owner Alexander Dias
Ararat Brandy with Brand Ambassador Christopher Adams
Bedlam Vodka of Graybeard Distillery from North Carolina (last year’s WSWA Brand Battle winners) with distiller Scott Russ

I was on my way to the airport when the Brand Battle – a competition towards the end of the convention where top 7 brands battle it out – was taking place, so unfortunately I missed it, but I was sure to stay glued to social media to get the word once the winners were announced. And Gray Whale Gin took home the first place award. The buzz around the convention seemed to predict this win but I was super happy for them. In honor of their win, I wanted to share a simple cocktail of theirs for our recipe this week. Stay tuned for an upcoming episode devoted just to them.

The Skinny Gray Whale
1 part agave syrup
1 part lemon juice
2 parts Gray Whale Gin

Shake with ice, strain, and garnish with a spray of lime and orange

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BBAF Podcast Episode 5: Absinthe with Ted Breaux

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

All absinthe photos by Rose Callahan, of the Dandy Portrait fame, and our photography partner on the Bartender Style series.

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