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Tabasco Adventures on Avery Island

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.

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welcomeI 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…

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to mash…

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The mash consists of just peppers and salt and is aged up to three years in white oak barrels.

…to barrel aging.

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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!

Tony Tasting

Then we went on the factory line.

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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.

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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!

Crawfish Boil

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.

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The Marsh House – original family home and where many of us stayed while in Avery Island.

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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.

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This shrine houses a centuries old Buddha given as a gift to E. A. McIlhenny in 1936.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Scotch &Salt – makes one cocktail
Created by Nick Detrich of Cane & Table

Ingredients
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

Preparation
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.

Tabasco Deli

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!

A Friendsgiving Cocktail! The Green Pear Sparkler

The Thanksgiving countdown is underway! T-minus seven days until the turkey frenzy takes over America’s kitchens and tummys and couches and zzzzz. I cannot WAIT to be a lazy mofo for three days straight! Who’s with me?! (super lethargic virtual high-five) Maybe you’ve sorted out your main menu. Maybe you’re gonna wing it like an insane person. But have you figured out the most important item to be ingested of the day?! What are you drinking?? Well, now you have. Presenting The Green Pear Sparkler, a cocktail that you can have with your family or at your epic Friendsgiving feast! Let’s talk about it!

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Hard cider is having a moment. It’s been the fastest growing alcoholic beverage category for the last three years in a row. And there are more and more cider cocktails popping up on menus in craft cocktail bars and fine dining restaurants alike. Trend watchers point to the craft beer industry and rising foodie culture for helping the popularity of hard ciders.

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For many years, I’ve found hard cider to be a great addition to a cocktail, using it as a secondary ingredient, as you would with champagne or beer in a cocktail, to add some dryness and bubbles. And occasionally I’ve used it as a star ingredient. And very dry, Normandy style pear cider is one of my favorites to use. Especially this time of year.

Green Pear Sparkler

For The Green Pear Sparkler, the hard cider is an important component, but is well-integrated with the other ingredients – rye whiskey, maple syrup and some healthy dashes of Tabasco’s Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce. The result is an easily drinkable cocktail that SCREAMS autumn.

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The green pepper spice from the Tabasco and the sage garnish brightens up this cocktail and lends a “green-ness” to the overall drink. Quality maple syrup and a good, spicy rye whiskey like the newly released Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye is also important for this. It’s the holidays, guys! Treat yourself right!

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The Green Pear Sparkler
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz maple syrup
4-5 dashes (to taste) Tabasco Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce
3 oz Hard Pear Cider
Garnish: pear slices and sage

Add all ingredients except cider to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled tumbler and top with cider. Garnish with pear slices and sage.


Sponsored: This post was made possible by TABASCO®  in conjunction with the TABASCO® Tastemakers program. This is the fourth and final cocktail in a series of posts that feature the Tabasco Family of Flavors in cocktail recipes. As always, all opinions are my own!

Chipotle Cherry Bourbon Smash

The ‘Smash’ is in effect a Julep on a small plan.”
– Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930

Chipotle Cherry Smash

What is a smash? It sounds fun! According to cocktail lore, it is essentially a julep. Sooo…spirit, sugar, water, mint and ice. A smash usually uses fresh, seasonal fruit. Muddled or…smashed, as it were! Some smashes have other herbs instead of mint, like basil or sage. The Chipotle Cherry Bourbon Smash uses neither fresh fruit nor green herb, buuut here’s another thing about a smash: it’s a pretty flexible drink! And as we head into the cooler seasons, I wanted to experiment with the basics of the smash cocktail using ingredients that you can find all year round, preserved fruit and hot sauce! And whiskey, of course! Plus chipotle peppers, preserved cherries and bourbon just SOUNDS like a mashup that needs to happen. Here you go!

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Instead of fresh cherries, I thought it would be fun to use cocktail cherries. Not the chemical laden, neon colored kind that have given cocktail cherries a bad rap. Oh, those little sugar bombs are still everywhere (check out pretty much any chain restaurant bar’s garnish caddy), they are pretty pervasive. But now we have some beautiful options, often infused with brandy or bourbon. Mess Hall Cocktail Co. is making some lovely preserved cocktail cherries at the moment. They source their cherries from farms near their home in Chicago, Illinois and then steep them in sugar and spices and a good amount of bourbon. YES, PLEASE.

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I’m not going to admit what a revelation it was when I found out that chipotle peppers are just smoked, dried jalapeño peppers. Wha?? I guess this is common knowledge?! And makes total sense. Because…look at them! I suppose I found this so surprising because they are so much less spicy than their fiery cousins. Their distinct smoky quality is treasured for packing a flavor punch to so many dishes. But ever since I tried Tabasco’s Chipotle Sauce I wanted to use it in a cocktail.

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This one is far less spicy than their Original Red Sauce and is a little less acidic. It has that dark smoky flavor distinctive to chipotle peppers and just a few dashes work beautifully with Mess Hall’s sweetened cherries. It also highlights the barrel aged wood smoke in the Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon that I used. DREAM TEAM!

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Another nice thing about using these preserved cherries is that you don’t need to add any additional sugar. The cocktail cherries lend just the right amount of sweetness. If you’d like it a little sweeter, you can always add a teaspoon of the syrup from the cherry jar.

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Chipotle Cherry Bourbon Smash
1.5 oz Bourbon (Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon works well with this)
5-6 cocktail cherries (Mess Hall Cocktail Co)
1/4 oz lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
Seltzer

Muddle cherries, lemon juice and Tabasco in a rocks glass. Add bourbon and ice. Top with seltzer and give a stir. Garnish with cocktail cherry.


Sponsored: This post was made possible by TABASCO®  in conjunction with the TABASCO® Tastemakers program. This is the third cocktail in a series of posts that feature the Tabasco Family of Flavors in cocktail recipes. As always, all opinions are my own!

Habañero Hemingway Daiquiri

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Surprise! It’s another “national holiday” celebrating something you thought was a normal everyday celebration! This Sunday is National Daiquiri Day and I don’t know about you, but I can actually get behind this one. All hail the daiquiri!

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The Hemingway Daiquiri has to be one of my absolute favorites. The addition of fresh grapefruit juice as well as swapping out simple syrup for Maraschino Liqueur just elevates this already perfect summer cocktail. It also adds a little complexity to a fairly simple concoction. You know what makes it even better? Using an award-winning, premium dark golden rum from Venezuela, such as – Diplomatico’s Reserva Exclusiva.

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And then adding a dash or two of Habañero Tabasco Sauce to this refreshing tipple…ups the ante even more, to dangerously delicious territory. Tabasco’s hottest sauce deserves a special cooling summer cocktail. Forget Fireball, this is the real spicy deal.

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So, celebrate National Daiquiri Day this year in style and heat.You still have a few days to perfect this festive drink.

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Habañero Hemingway Daiquiri
2 oz Diplomatico’s Reserva Exclusiva
1/2 fresh grapefruit (juice)
1/2 ounce Maraschino Liquer
3/4 ounce lime
2 dashes Habañero Tabasco

Place all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a well chilled coupe glass.

Salud (more…)

Get Ready For Negroni Week with The Cajun Negroni

You’re about to get burned so good.

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You guys! It’s already the end of MAY! Summer is practically heavy breathing down our necks (oh, hello there, summer), and I haven’t even switched out my closet yet! #SmallClosetProbs!!! On top of all that, it’s Negroni Week NEXT week and I’m SUPER late to the party! Buuuut, not too late. Let’s just say, I’m just being fashionable. Because, let’s be real, we all know you can show up any damn time you want to the party if you are brangin’ it. And by “it”, I mean booze. And by “booze”, I mean a game changer of a cocktail. It hasn’t even happened yet, but I’m pretty sure I straight up killed Negroni Week, you guys. Murdered. Dead. Dunzo. The end. Oh, it’s not a competition, you say? It’s “…a celebration of one of the world’s great cocktails AND an effort to raise money for charitable causes around the world”?? Well, that’s just the cherry on top of this Campari zinger, my friends. Because I am here to tell you that yes, you can go out and support all of those bars and restaurants in your area generously participating in this week-long event, and you definitely should, but then you can go home and make this Cajun cutie, get your bitter burn on and thank the cocktail gods for aligning the stars to bring these flavors together. Or…you can just thank me. Awww, YOU’RE WELCOME!

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re all, “Hey P Rose! So what, you made a Negroni, which is practically perfect already, and then you threw some TABASCO® in there and a little bubbly water, and you think you’re a genius?? Big whoop! Who the eff are you?!” Ouch. Harsh, guys. Well, guess what? Sometimes it’s the subtlest tweaks that can make a world of difference, that can transform something from amazing to aMAHzing. Those three to four generous dashes of TABASCO® not only give this Negroni some delightful heat, but also adds a little salt and acid (from the vinegar) that this cocktail can most definitely benefit from. And topping this drink off with a little sparkling water will just lighten up the entire drink, guaranteeing a steady rotation on your home cocktail menu all summer long.

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I wanted to keep the Negroni recipe classic, for the most part, because we can all get a little crazy trying to think outside the box for Negroni week…and then we end up with something that barely resembles the original cocktail. So, the ratio is still equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, stirred over ice with an orange twist. Keeping it classic, also makes the addition of TABASCO® and sparkling water feel like a major bonus to an already enchanting cocktail. These additions only enhance the original cocktail as a whole. Who says you can’t improve upon perfection??

Cajun Negroni

Cajun Negroni
1 ounce Gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Dolin Vermouth Rouge
3-4 dashes of TABASCO® Original Red Sauce
Sparkling Water
Orange Peel garnish

Add the Gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth to an ice-filled mixing glass. Add the TABASCO® and stir with a cocktail spoon until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with large cubed ice. Top with 1/2-1 ounce sparkling water. Twist a large orange peel over drink and add to glass for garnish.

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Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Dragon Fire…and Comedy!

Dragon Fire Cocktail

Man, kids nowadays have it pretty good. I don’t know what school fundraisers looked like when you were in grade school but, when I was a kid, our fundraisers would usually consist of pretty weak bake sales, “talent” shows with questionable performances involving Casio keyboard solos and way too much spandex. And, if we were lucky, a raffle for a rib eye steak dinner at The Eagles Club downtown. Who knows how much money was raised during those olden days school fundraisers or if that money even translated into learning materials or fancy, new tetherballs (which is all I really cared about anyway), but I’m telling you! School fundraisers have turned a freaking corner! That is, at least, if you live in the land of sunshine and palm trees and…insanely talented parents (with insanely talented friends): Los Angeles, California. Because, then you can recruit those insanely talented people to perform at your school’s Comedy Night and put them to WERK. Look at this bonkers lineup:

comedy nightThis is a public school fundraiser, you guys! I bet they’ll make more money than two dozen batches of peanut butter rice crispy treats. Although, every bit as delightful, I’m sure! And, fingers crossed there is a little spandex and a Casio keyboard solo or two in one of these sets.

IF you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, and enjoy laughing A TON, and like the idea of wicked smart human kids around instead of a bunch of dum dums, and care about the future of our world, in general, you may want to consider attending this evening of LOLz this Saturday to benefit Ivanhoe Elementary. Another incentive? The Dragon Fire cocktail!

Dragon Fire Cocktail with Tito's Handmade VodkaBooze! For the children!

I’m not saying that it’s your DUTY to humanity to support the education of our youth, or anything, buuuut if you miss out on this laugh riot, you also miss out on this kicky delight. Tito’s Handmade Vodka, from Austin, Texas, has generously donated to this event, and I have created a few signature dragon themed (Ivanhoe’s mascot!) cocktails. The Dragon Fire is my favorite! The Red Zinger Tea syrup and grapefruit juice ups the zing-factor and the Tabasco lends the fire. This can be served with or without ice.

Dragon Fire
2 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka
2 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Red Zinger Tea Syrup*
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Dash Tabasco
Seltzer

Place all the ingredients, except the seltzer in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass (without ice) or an ice-filled highball glass. Top with a splash of seltzer. Add a grapefruit peel to the cocktail glass or a lime wedge to the highball.

* Red Zinger Tea Syrup

1 cup water
5 Red Zinger Tea bags
1 cup sugar

Heat water in a saucepan until boiling and remove from heat. Place tea bags in hot water and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add in sugar, and stir over heat until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Can keep for up to two weeks.

I am told that Comedy Night Too!, benefiting the amazing public school, Ivanhoe Elementary, still has a few tickets left for this Saturday. It’s hosted by The Sklar Brothers and features Jeff Garlin, Nick Kroll, TJ Miller, Kumail Nanjani, Al Madrigal, Rob Corddry and Cameron Esposito. And the Dragon Fire cocktail! That’s a HOT ticket! Get them HERE!