The Master Blend – A Bartender Series: Yael Vengroff

Listen to The Master Blend – A Bartender Series: Yael Vengroff”

This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, the second installment goes up on the Bartender Series collaboration with BERTOUX Brandy – The Master Blend.

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.

This second interview is with Yael Vengroff, one of the most decorated young bartenders out there.  While she runs the award winning cocktail program at The Spare Room in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, she has her hands in a number of other LA bars, and still makes time to feed her love of dancing and movement.

We discussed the importance of body mechanics in her personal and professional life, and how creating a strict sense of structure actually helps to free up her wild child creativity. 

Yael Vengroff’s BERTOUX Brandy cocktail, East Broadway Sour, is currently being served at LA institution, Genghis Cohen.

East Broadway Sour
2 oz BERTOUX Brandy
.74 oz Lemon Juice
.75 oz Chinese
5 Spice Syrup
2 dashes Toasted Pecan Bitters
1 oz Red Wine Float 

Shake all ingredients, except the wine, over ice. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Float 1 oz of a full bodied red wine. Garnish with orange wheel & grated nutmeg.

BBaF Podcast Episode 59: Catoctin Creek Distillery & Scott Harris

Listen to Episode 59: Catoctin Creek Distillery & Scott Harris”

This week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast episode is a great deep dive into what it’s like to start and run a successful micro distillery.

Catoctin Creek, a microdistillery in Purcellville, Virginia founded by husband and wife team, Becky and Scott Harris in 2009, is known for their award winning rye whiskies and their devoted cult following. On the cusp of their 10 year anniversary, I spoke with Scott about their journey into the distilling world, and their path to success over this past decade.

This week’s cocktail is Scott’s favorite Manhattan recipe…

Catoctin Creek Manhattan
2 oz Catoctin Creek 92 Proof Distillers Edition Roundstone Rye
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 dash aromatic bitters or another favorite
1 tsp Maraschino cherry juice
Maraschino cherry for garnish 

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish.

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

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 57: Don Papa Rum

Listen to Episode 57: Don Papa Rum”

For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, I spoke with Andrew “ AJ” Garcia, the co-founder of Filipino Rum brand Don Papa Rum. This premium small-batch rum made from native sugar cane  in the Philippines was created in 2011 by the Bleeding Heart Rum Company, but has only recently been making its mark on the states.

Don Papa Rum co-founders, Andrew “AJ” Garcia and Stephen Carroll

In town from the Philippines, AJ and I discussed the genesis of this spirit, the unusual barrel aging process, if spirits can have a terroir and the inspiration behind the name, Don Papa. 

Don Papa Rum National Brand Ambassador, Ben Rojo
Photo by Eric Medsker for Thirsty Mag

Ben Rojo – the national brand ambassador of Don Papa Rum was also in town and sat in on my interview with AJ. I wanted to get his take on the rum category as a whole, and the difference in Rum culture in the states versus other countries. 

This week’s cocktail recipe is a simple daiquiri recipe that works great with the 7 year Don Papa Rum expression.  

Don Papa Rum Daiquiri 
2 oz Don Papa Rum
1 oz Lime Juice 
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
Garnish: Lime Wheel 

Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel. 

This week's Bit by a Fox Podcast features interviews with the co-founder and brand ambassador of Filipino rum brand, Don Papa Rum.

BBaF Podcast Episode 56: From Barley to Blarney – A Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland

Listen to Episode 56: From Barley to Blarney – A Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland”

For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, we have a bonus St. Patrick’s Day episode!

I recently got a chance to sit down with two charming Irishmen in town to discuss the launch of their new book. Jack McGarry, co-founder of famed NYC Irish bar The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, and return guest Tim Herlihy, Brand Ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, are two of the authors behind ‘From Barley to Blarney – A Whiskey Lover’s Guide to Ireland’

Jack McGarry & Sean Muldoon from The Dead Rabbit with
Tim Herlihy, Ambassador to Tullamore D.E.W.

To research the book, Muldoon, McGarry and Herlihy conducted two, month-long whirlwind tours in a VW bus driven by McGarry’s father. They logged over 4,000 miles, visited 111 pubs and every single working whiskey distillery on the island. In the process, they explored 29 counties and recorded 120 hours of interviews with distillers and publicans.

Every step was documented by Elaine Hill, a noted photographer, whose images grace the book. Drinksology, the Belfast firm behind The Dead Rabbit’s award-winning menus and its two cocktail tomes, designed this handsome book.

This week’s cocktail recipe is the legendary Dead Rabbit Irish Coffee recipe from the book

Dead Rabbit Irish Coffee
1 oz Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup
3 1/2 oz medium-dark roast, made in a French Press
Thumb of prepared whipped cream
Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg 

In an Irish Coffee glass, build all ingredients, top with whipped cream and grated nutmeg

BBaF Podcast Episode 55: Cannabis & Booze with Humboldt Distillery

Listen to Episode 55: Cannabis & Booze with Humboldt Distillery”

On this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, writer, Jason Horn and I discuss how cannabis is infiltrating the booze industry, and whether or not this is one of The Booze World’s Worst Ideas!

For the second half of the podcast, we interview Abe Stevens, founder and distiller of Humboldt Distillery, located in Humboldt County in Northern California, where some of the best marijuana crops in the world grow.

Four years ago he launched ‘Humboldt’s Finest’, a cannabis infused vodka. They were one of the first spirits brands to dip their toes in the cannabis industry and his efforts have recently payed off.

This week’s cocktail recipe was created after I took the bottle of ‘Humboldt’s Finest’ Cannabis-infused Vodka home and tinkered with a martini recipe.

 Martini Sativa 
3 oz Humboldt’s Finest
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth 
1/2 oz Olive Brine 

Stir all ingredients over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with green olives.

BBaF Podcast Episode 54: Distilling in Wine Country – Visiting the Paso Robles Distillery Trail

Listen to Episode 54: Distilling in Wine Country – Visiting the Paso Robles Distillery Trail

For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, we go on the road to the Central Coast of California – in San Luis Obispo County.

There’s been a recent booze boom in this already thriving wine country, with nearly a dozen distilleries now forming a Paso Robles Distillery Trail.

The wine makers turned distillers I spoke with shared how SLO may be one of the most exciting new regions for spirits production in the country.

Alex and Monica Villicana from Re:Find Distillery

Our last stop on the Paso Robles Distillery Trail was KROBAR Craft Distillery where I interviewed founders, Joe Barton and Stephen Kroener about making whiskey in wine country.

This week’s cocktail recipe was inspired by a drink I had at Fish Gaucho in Paso Robles, made entirely of local ingredients. It was one of my absolute favorites on this trip, “The Highwayman”.  

The Paso Robles Cocktail
2 oz Re:Find Gin
1/2 oz Yes Cocktail Co. Orgeat
1/2 oz Meyer Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Lavender Honey Syrup
a few dashes of Slo Bitter Co. Charred Cedar Blackstrap Bitters
Sparkling Water 

In an ice-filled shaker, shake all ingredients except for the soda until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with a large cube. Top with sparkling water and edible flowers to garnish. 

Overlooking Daou Vineyards. One of the most beautiful views in Paso Robles.

Watch my Instagram Story of my trip to SLO, touring the Paso Robles Distillery Trail for more behind the scenes!

A Galentine’s Day Cocktail: The Pink Lady Colada

“Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”

Ever since the character Leslie Knope introduced the world to Galentine’s Day on an episode of Parks and Recreation 9 years ago, the unofficial holiday of ladies celebrating ladies has been embraced by singles and attached alike.

Last year, I celebrated with some ladies and chickens and cocktails, and it was the BEST! I’m officially a fan of this fake holiday!

I was recently contacted by Endometriosis UK, the leading national charity supporting women with endometriosis, to see if I’d be interested in creating a cocktail recipe to be included in their fundraising packs. March is endometriosis awareness month and during the month, the charity runs a fundraising campaign called Endo The Night. The campaign is all about encouraging people to get together with friends and family and have a big night in to raise awareness and money for Endometriosis UK…and make cocktails for their friends!

I thought this Pink Lady/Pina Colada mashup was the perfect cocktail for ladies celebrating ladies!

For those who may not be familiar, Endometriosis is a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems. Around 1 in 10 women are currently living with the condition, and I’ve had a number of women in my life who have battled with it. This is a cause I think more people should be made aware of, and I’m honored to take part!

Whether you’re celebrating Galentine’s Day this year, bringing about awareness to a depilating condition that women face every day, or you’re just wanting a delicious drink that Leslie Knope would most likely slurp down with her frittatas, this Pink Lady Colada has your name written all over it.

Pink Lady Colada – single serving 
2 oz Gin
1 oz Coconut Water
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice 
1/2 oz Grenadine
Garnish: pineapple wedge and cherry

Shake all ingredients over ice until well chilled, Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. There should be a light foam formed on top. Garnish with pineapple and cherry. 

For the mocktail version, you can omit the gin and prepare the same. 

BBaF Podcast Ep. 53: Sipsmith Gin with Lucy Ellis

Listen to Ep. 53: Sipsmith Gin with Lucy Ellis

On this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast we’re talking about one of MY favorite spirits, GIN. And one of my favorite London Dry style brands, Sipsmith Gin.

The launch of Sipsmith Gin in 2009 was a critical moment for craft distilling in the UK. Not only was it the first copper-pot based distillery to open its doors in London since 1820, but with this historic birth of a new London Dry style gin, Sipsmith helped to usher in a slew of other small batch distilleries across the country. They especially helped to change the landscape for handcrafted, small batch gin in the UK. From the moment the gin arrived in the states, it was embraced by the bar community…that is when and if they could get their hands on it.

Since becoming a subsidiary of Beam Suntory in 2016, Sipsmith has gone from hard to find to seemingly everywhere overnight. Bartenders and booze nerds alike had been waiting for this accessibility for years. Sipsmith Gin also owes a good deal of its popularity to the hardworking brand ambassadors that have made sure to get those bottles into the market, behind the bar, and directly to consumers.

I recently got to catch up with Sipsmith Gin’s West Coast Brand Ambassador, the very charming Lucy Ellis. She oversees all of California and Pacific Northwest territories for the brand. She is also a spirits industry veteran, having worked in notable bars in the UK, New York City and right here in Los Angeles.

This week’s cocktail is Lucy’s take on a very booze forward Gin & Tonic named after her husband’s grandparents, Dar & Elmer.

Add 3 oz of Sipsmith London Dry Gin to a rocks glass and fill with two large cubes.

Top with a splash of tonic. Add a lemon twist AND a green olive. Enjoy!

BBaF Podcast Episode 52: Hangover Cures with Jason Horn (The Booze World’s Worst Ideas)

Listen to Episode 52: Hangover Cures with Jason Horn (The Booze World’s Worst Ideas)”

For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, in a continuation of our series, The Booze World’s Worst Ideas, food and drinks writer, Jason Horn joins me once again to take a deep dive into the questionable choices made by the adult beverage industry. This week we’re talking hangover cures – or rather the seemingly endless products out there now that are billing themselves as a cure to the dreaded hangover.

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