Ah, St. Patrick’s Day. That hallowed day of green beer, shamrock everything, and shots! shots! shots! I don’t know about you, but I’m just not up for that craziness anymore. I mean, some shades of green can be very flattering, and I can get down with a whisk(e)y shot on occasion – as long as it’s the good stuff! But I’m fairly certain that come tomorrow, I won’t be getting sloppy in a pub or playing green beer pong in honor of St. Paddy’s Day. Do you know what I will be indulging in? A wee bit of Irish Whiskey AND Irish Cream…in the form of Irish coffee cocktails. Because that’s what grown ups do on the Feast of Saint Patrick!
The traditional Irish Coffee is a very basic recipe – coffee, sugar, whiskey and heavy cream. But for some reason, it is difficult to ever get a very good one. Even in Ireland, Irish Coffees are served in nearly every pub, but the drink isn’t taken very seriously and that pub coffee has most likely been sitting on a burner for an entire day. It’s even purported that the drink was invented to mask the taste of bad coffee.
But with the cocktail renaissance came an appreciation for this cozy drink, and interpretations of it using the best ingredients. Strong, quality, fresh made coffee is key, as well as hand whipped cream, and an Irish whiskey that won’t overpower the rest of the flavors. For this, I chose to use a whiskey that I tried for the very first time just this past Monday, (it literally launched in the states last week) – a brand new expression from Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Bushmills Red Bush.
Bushmills, Ireland’s oldest distiller, makes very approachable whiskies. And this new expression is no exception. Created with the bourbon drinker in mind, Bushmills Red Bush is matured exclusively in American white oak bourbon barrels. While it has those familiar notes you might find in a bourbon, toasted oak and vanilla, it is subtle and balanced and decidedly Irish!
I found this to be a lovely addition to Irish Coffee. It had just enough punch to make it boozy but didn’t overpower the coffee at all.
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey
heavy cream, whipped
Pour hot coffee into a warmed mug until it is about 3/4 full. Add sugar and Irish whiskey, stir until blended. Gently top with the whipped heavy cream by pouring over back of spoon.
In much of the country, winter is not letting go and Irish Coffee is still very much in season. But if you’re in a warmer climate like Los Angeles for instance, (it was nearly 90 the other day!) you may want to opt for something with a little bit of a chill tomorrow. However, I can pretty much drink an Iced Irish Coffee in any season!
Kerrygold, a company you may be familiar with specializing in Irish Dairy Products, has now created their very own Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur. It is a blend of natural Irish cream, Belgium chocolate and oak-aged Irish whiskey.
Soon after launching, they won World’s Best Cream Liqueur at the 2016 World Drinks Awards, and you can see why. Rich and velvety, with a subtle hint of whiskey at the end, it is an ideal partner with a strong, cold brewed coffee in this Iced Irish Coffee.
Iced Irish Coffee
6 oz Cooled Strong Coffee (or cold brew)
2 oz Kerrygold Irish Cream
In an ice-filled shaker, add ingredients and shake until well chilled. Pour into a tall tumbler or jar with ice. Enjoy!
Let me be mad, then, by all means! Mad with the madness of Absinthe, the wildest, most luxurious madness in the world! Vive la folie! Vive l’amour! Vive l’animalisme! Vive le Diable!”
― Marie Corelli, Wormwood: A Drama of Paris
The Green Fairy, La Fée Verte, Absinthe – One of the most misunderstood elixirs ever created and consumed. Made all the more mysterious by a worldwide ban of the stuff for nearly 100 years. After the ban was finally lifted in the states ten years ago now, some myths are still perpetuated by a few brands capitalizing on its mystique.
Most likely, you’ve heard the dark stories…about how “real” absinthe will make you hallucinate, turn you violent and drive you mad if you have too much. Well known writers and artists such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Edgar Allan Poe were all said to have benefited creatively and yet suffered negatively from the effects of their consumption of absinthe. But what is the real story of absinthe? Can we get an authentic version in the states? And why was it banned for so long if it is truly harmless?
Absinthe, for those of you unfamiliar, is a highly alcoholic distilled spirit, (not a liqueur as it is often mistaken for, because it is not traditionally sweetened with added sugar) made with macerated herbs – primarily aniseed, sweet fennel and wormwood – the main flavor components in the spirit. The various botanicals is what also gives absinthe its famous natural green color, inspiring the nicknames “Green Fairy” and “Green Goddess”. At its height in popularity, towards the end of the 19th century, when the French were drinking up to 36 million litres of absinthe per year, the nearly 30,000 cafés in Paris were transformed every day at 5:00 p.m. into l’Heure Verte, the Green Hour.
Absinthe’s rise in popularity coincided with a rise in alcohol consumption in general. Cheap, poorly made “bathtub” versions were being produced, and alcohol-related injuries and crimes were being blamed on the popular spirit, leading the way to a prohibition of absinthe internationally. The temperance movement as well as the wine industry, threatened by the massive popularity of the drink, leveraged the moral panic against absinthe in Europe at the time, and pushed the idea that it was especially dangerous and led to violent behavior.
But is there any truth to the dangers, the highs, the hallucinogenic qualities that have been rumored and written about and spread throughout the centuries? The truth is, absinthe is indeed potent. It is not to be taken straight as it is so concentrated. It is traditionally bottled at a high alcohol by volume – usually 110-144 proof versus whiskey which is about 80 proof. This is because it is to be diluted with ice-cold water prior to being consumed.
Ted A. Breaux, a scientist, researcher and leading authority on absinthe, had a major role in overturning the ban in America ten years ago. Lucid Absinthe, his creation and the first absinthe in the U.S. market, is still considered one of the top brands in the world. According to Breaux, “pre-ban absinthes contained no hallucinogens, opiates or other psychoactive substances”. The only drug in absinthe is alcohol.
Thujone, a compound found in wormwood, is often referred to as the hallucinogenic component in “real” absinthe. But according to the experts and extensive studies, there just isn’t any truth to this. In extremely high doses, thujone is known to be a dangerous neurotoxin, but pre-ban absinthe and the nearly identical recipes made today have always only had trace amounts. The truth is, there may very well be more wormwood in the vermouth you’re having in your next martini than a glass of absinthe. Aside from being its hallmark ingredient, the name “vermouth” is in fact the French pronunciation of the German word Wermut, meaning…wormwood.
So, how come, even after ten years of it being legal in the states, there are still so many misconceptions about this botanical beverage? Perhaps we prefer holding onto these romantic notions of madness and drug-induced achievements from some of our most notable creative geniuses. It surely doesn’t help when certain brands market themselves in a way that takes advantage of their naughty past, advertising thujone or wormwood on their bottles in an inauthentic way.
That’s not to say we haven’t come a long ways since that 95 year ban. There are a lot of really wonderful brands that are making quality absinthe, each one, with their specific recipe, slightly different from the next. So, what brands should you be buying?
According to absinthe educator Kellfire Bray, seen here at the monthly Green Fairy Party produced by Don Spiro in NYC, here are his recommendations to get you started:
Meadow of Love Absinthe from Delaware Phoenix Distillery – American Hidden Gem
Made in the Catskills in upstate New York, Meadow of Love has a floral aroma and flavor interacting with the anise. This absinthe has a powerful louche of rolling, milky cloud banks, and it coats the tongue with flavor.
Lucid Absinthe Superieure – Traditional, Easy to Find
Lucid is the first genuine absinthe made with real Grande Wormwood to be legally available in the United States in over 95 years. Lucid is prepared in accordance with the same standards as pre-ban absinthes. It is historically accurate in EVERY detail.
“Vieux Pontarlier” Absinthe Francais Superieure – Mid-range, Workhorse
Very anise forward and fairly sweet, this absinthe is made in small batches using alambic stills that were specifically designed to make absinthe. Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe evolved from the research and experience of professional Absintheur Peter Schaf, using historic protocols, distilling techniques and equipment from the 19th Century.
Kubler Absinthe Superieure – Mid-range, Swiss style
Clear and colorless in the Swiss style. Along with Lucid, was crucial in petitioning the government to lift the absinthe ban. Anise and fennel dominate but get more complex post louche.
Jade 1901 Absinthe Superieure – Top Pick, Harder to Find
From Ted A. Breaux’s high-end absinthe line, Jade Liqueurs, this bottle was recreated as a tribute to a widely studied pre-ban absinthe, as it appeared circa 1901. A classic vintage-style absinthe, balanced and crisp, with a stimulating herbal aroma and a smooth, lingering aftertaste.
The preparation to drink absinthe may seem intimidating. Do you need the correct tools? Is there sugar AND fire involved? How much is the right amount? It is all pretty simple, really. In fact, according to Bray, you don’t even really need the sugar. You’ll just need to slowly dilute 1 part absinthe to 3-5 parts iced water from a specially made absinthe fountain or even by hand with a carafe. As the water dilutes the spirit, the botanical oils are released, herbal aromas “bloom” and the clear green liquid turns cloudy, a result that is called the “louche”.
The traditional French Method, however, does involve placing a sugar cube on top of a slotted spoon over a glass of absinthe and pouring iced water over the sugar in order to slowly dissolve it and mix with the absinthe. Since absinthe is not made with added sugar, some people prefer to sweeten it up this way. But according to nearly all authorities on absinthe, DO NOT soak that sugar cube with liquor and then light it on fire. This “Czech Method” is not traditional and was actually started in the late 90s as a spectacle for tourists and to mask inferior spirits. We’re all better than that!
So, go ahead and celebrate the progress we’ve made this last ten years and get acquainted with the Green Fairy! Raise a glass to the magical, herbal delights of this cloudy wonder…without going completely mad! Vive la absinthe!
All photos provided by Rose Callahan, of the Dandy Portrait fame, and our photography partner on the Bartender Style series.
You know that magic that happens when something just comes together so perfectly you can’t imagine a time when it wasn’t a thing that existed in the universe? Like kindred flavors that seemingly compliment one another in a bewitching way – like coffee & chocolate, for instance (relevant to this post). Or kindred spirits that make everything around them better just by the mere fact they’ve found one another…like food blogging duo, #relationshipgoals, and life partners giving me life, The Husbands That Cook (also relevant).
This post is brought to you by all of that – a marriage of complementary flavors and humans. Adam and Ryan, the lovely gents behind the delightful food blog, Husbands That Cook, have been KILLING it this year. They have a large following on Instagram, a devoted and receptive fan base, and were finalists in this year’s Saveur Magazine Blog Awards for Best How-To Food Blog. Amazingly, they agreed to partner with me for a sexy Valentine’s Day post!
Both of the cocktails featured here came out of me playing around with a homemade coffee liqueur. They’re both very different from one another but, real talk, I’m EQUALLY OBSESSED with them. The first one is an equal parts cocktail, ala Negroni or Boulevardier and sounds, on paper, like an odd combo of flavors – bourbon, Aperol and coffee liqueur . But I promise, it totally works! And I don’t want to make any rash proclamations or anything but this just may be a new instant classic! You may just fall in love…
Amore Mio “My Love”
1 oz bourbon
1 oz coffee liqueur
1 oz Aperol
Fill a mixing glass with ice and all ingredients. Stir mixture until well chilled. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish by floating espresso beans on top.
This second cocktail was another sort of happy accident when I decided to cross a White Russian with a chocolate Egg Cream soda. I know I’ve said this before but ZOMG SO GOOD. Seriously, why has this never existed before? I’ve looked on the internet! This recipe does not exist! If you could trademark cocktail recipes, this is the one that would make me rich and famous, I just know it. Right now, it’s just making me drunk and happy and I cannot stop.
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Coffee Liqueur
1/2 oz Half & Half
1/2 oz Chocolate Syrup
In an ice-filled shaker, add vodka, coffee liqueur, half & half and chocolate soda. Shake until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass, top with soda and stir.
Adam and Ryan decided to complement these buzzy drinks, and continued the coffee/chocolate relationship, by making oozy gooey, Chocolate Mocha Lava Cakes.
CHOCOLATE ERUPTING MINI CAKES. If that doesn’t scream V-Day, I don’t know what to tell you. You might be dead inside. Head over to Husbands That Cook to see this in action and get the full recipe. And then make all of these treats and spoil your lover so hard. And when I write “lover” that could totally mean yourself. Self love is v. important during times like these, foxy friends. Make it a double!
Homemade Coffee Liqueur
1/4 cup fine ground espresso
2 1/4 cup water (divided)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tbsp bourbon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups light rum
Make a cold brew of the coffee by combining the espresso grounds and 1 1/4 cups of the water into a sealable glass jar, shaking it, then refrigerating the mixture for 12 hours. Strain through a coffee filter into another sealable glass jar. Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let this syrup cool to room temperature. Combine the cooled syrup and cold brew coffee, add rum and vanilla extract. Let that mixture steep for 3 days. Enjoy!
A few weeks back I was asked to design a couple of signature cocktails for two intimate dinners hosted by the innovative wedding registry site Zola.com in the luxurious Parachute Hotel in Venice Beach.
Because the theme of these dinners was inspired by LOOOOOVE, and with names like Honeymoon in Havana and La La Love, I thought these cocktails would be perfect to share right before Valentine’s Day to get y’alll in the mood…
For our first dinner with wedding industry insiders, we made a vodka based gimlet with hibiscus syrup and elderflower liqueur and a ginger-y take on a mojito.
For the Garden Party Gimlet, we used Our/Los Angeles Vodka as its base and made a hibiscus syrup to give it an especially vibrant fuchsia hue. The addition of St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur added warm floral notes, and in keeping with the flowery theme, we topped this all off with edible blossoms.
Garden Party Gimlet
2 oz Our/Los Angeles Vodka
1 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Hibiscus Syrup*
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Garnish: Assorted Edible Flowers
Shake all ingredients until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with edible flowers.
The Honeymoon in Havana cocktail was inspired by the ever popular mojito.
Because we designed these cocktails with a wedding in mind, we wanted to elevate the traditional mojito recipe by swapping out sugar as the sweetener with BBAF fave Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur and using sparkling wine in place of club soda.
You’ll need a light, clean rum like Don Q Cristal for the base of this drink and fresh lime and mint are key!
Honeymoon in Havana
2 oz Don Q Cristal Rum
1 oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3 Mint Leaves
1/2 oz Sparkling Wine
In a small Collins glass muddle lime juice and 2 mint leaves. Add ice, rum, ginger liqueur and sparkling wine. Stir with straw and garnish with mint.
For the second intimate Zola dinner, we created cocktails for recently engaged bloggers and social media influencers.
These were both simple but delicious cocktails with some added flourishes like edible glitter and orchid garnishes.
The Stars in the Garden, while fairly simple – with pink grapefruit juice, St-Germain and sparkling wine, was an instant hit.
Besides going down a little too easy, it literally sparkled! Edible glitter was added to make the drink shimmer, and floating edible stars were placed ever so delicately on top with tweezers!
Stars in the Garden
2 oz Pink Grapefruit Juice
1 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
3 oz Sparkling Wine
Garnish: Edible Glitter, Edible Stars
In an ice-filled shaker add 1/2 tsp edible glitter, pink grapefruit juice and St-Germain. Shake until well chilled and strain into a coupe glass. Top off with sparkling wine and place about 2 dozen tiny edible stars on top.
The La La Love is probably the most Valentines-y cocktail of the bunch. With this drink we brought back Our/Los Angeles Vodka, hibiscus syrup and edible flowers.
We used fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice (plucked from a friend’s tree just the day before!) and topped this all off with club soda. This is like a refreshing boozy hibiscus lemonade. Also perfect for a summer wedding!
But it’s the orchid garnish that really sexes this drink right up. When looking for edible flowers for this event, I was surprised by how many grocery stores actually carry an assortment of edible blossoms in their produce department. Apparently, these can also be very good in salad greens!
La La Love
2 oz Our/Los Angeles Vodka
1/2 oz Hibiscus Syrup*
1/2 oz Meyer Lemon Juice
Garnish: Edible Orchid
In an ice-filled shaker add vodka, syrup and lemon juice and shake until chilled. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and top with soda. Stir with straw and garnish with orchid.
* Hibiscus 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.
Unmarked photos by Katie Gibbs Photo, all others by Bit by a Fox.
Sunsets seem to get all the glory, with all their Instagram ‘likes’ and devoted hashtags and people gathering at piers and promenades to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ and clap like dorks (I’ve totally done this, btw) when that fiery ball of light finally disappears on the horizon. But there’s something particularly magical about a sunrise – the birth of something unfamiliar, a fresh start, the promise of a new day. It’s sort of how I feel about a new year…but like on a much bigger scale.
With that in mind, I thought a Tequila Sunrise would make for a fantastic New Year’s cocktail! Everyone seems to know about this drink but I’m guessing you haven’t actually sipped on one of these old timers unless you’ve attended some sort of 70s disco party recently…oooor you actually drank through the 70s and 80s (for that, I’m sorry). I would also hazard the guess that it wasn’t that great. But what happens when you use top shelf ingredients, fresh squeezed juice, and then add Champagne for good measure? Something delightful, that’s what!
With the recent release of the Patron Silver 2016 Limited Edition – a beautiful 1 liter bottle inspired by Mexico’s rich heritage with art deco design, I had my special tequila.
And by using the juice from tiny, sweet mandarins instead of reg ol’ OJ, homemade grenadine, and topping it all off with Champers, we kicked this baby up so many notches. Not to mention those Love & Victory highball glasses made this Tequila Sunrise really Sparkle!
Tequila Sunrise Sparkler
1 1/2 oz Patron Silver 2016 Limited Edition
3 oz Freshly Squeezed Mandarin Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
1 oz Champagne
In an ice-filled highball glass add the grenadine, juice and tequila. Top with Champagne and garnish with brandied cherry and mandarin slice.
Here’s to a beautiful fresh start in 2016. May your fancy highballs always be filled with hope and dreams and top shelf tequila!
Are we really less than a week away until Christmas? Argh! How do I let this happen every year – where I’m scrambling those last few days to get all the stuff in that I should have been doing the weeks prior?! Good thing there’s booze!
With the release of Mount Gay’s Limited Edition XO Cask Strength last month in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Barbados Independence from the British Crown, I was inspired to make some festive rum old fashioneds.
For classic cocktail enthusiasts, the Old Fashioned cocktail remains a mainstay. And when you come across a quality spirit, you don’t want to mess with it too much with a variety of convoluted ingredients. This is the go-to cocktail to have that spirit really come through, and have its qualities remain intact.
Mount Gay Distilleries, the makers of the world’s oldest rum which has been distilled, blended and bottled in Barbados since 1703, released just 3,000 bottles of XO Cask Strength, a limited-edition of its award-winning spirit XO. While I got a sampling of this to play with recently, the actual, full-sized bottle will come in a beautiful keepsake wooden box with a booklet that will take readers through the history of rum’s inception in Barbados. A portion of the sales of every bottle sold will be donated to the Barbados Museum and Historical Society to support its efforts in conserving the significant and inspiring history and culture of Barbados.
If you have a rum enthusiast in your life, this collector’s item is THE gift to give for the holidays. But at a price around $185, they better be deserving! Talk about a top shelf Rum Old Fashioned!
The raw brown sugar in this old fashioned amps up the rich oak and caramel flavors in the XO. The orange bitters highlights the over ripe fruit, vanilla and spice. And the cranberries add a certain acidity that a citrus peel might lend in a traditional old fashioned. And, most importantly, with such a simple cocktail as this one, it will leave you free to stress about all the other things you have to do before the holidays hits you head on! I’ll take a double!
Cranberry Rum Old Fashioned
2 oz Aged Rum (Mount Gay XO Cask Strength recommended)
3 dashes Orange Bitters
4-5 fresh cranberries
1 raw brown sugar cube
Splash Club Soda
Garnish: 3-4 fresh cranberries
Add the cranberries, brown sugar, bitters and soda to a mixing glass. Muddle well. Add the rum and fill with ice. Stir mixture until well chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned or rocks glass over large ice-cube. Garnish with skewered cranberries.
Samples of Mount Gay Rum were provided for this post.
Whiskey, lemon juice, honey…maybe a cinnamon stick. That’s the recipe for a classic hot toddy. Simple, straightforward, and let’s be real, a little boring. I’ve never been crazy about straight up hot toddys unless I’m sick. And even then I tend to doctor it up with ginger or a little cayenne pepper (that’ll put some hair on your chest when you’ve got the sniffles!)
So, I was excited when the fine folks from Maker’s Mark reached out to me to be part of their #MakeItTealicious Hot-Tea Toddy Blogger Challenge. Also, I’m pretty into puns and that hashtag is 100! (I’m like an old person and a tween all at the same time!)
Maker’s Mark and Harney & Sons Teas have joined forces for this challenge (today is International Tea Day, by the way guys!!) and it was so fun to experiment with all of their different sachets…with bourbon, of course! There was a lot of boozy tea toddys made this past week, all in the name of recipe testing!
I’m a huge fan of using tea in cocktails, and earl grey is one of my favorites. With its heady bergamot flavors and dark, rich characteristics, it tends to pair well with spirits. And Harney & Sons has a delightful Winter White Earl Grey that makes for an amazing hot bourbon cocktail.
The addition of maple syrup, a little cream, and freshly ground nutmeg makes this feel just like the holidays! I hope you find this as TEAlicious as much as I did! 😉 Cheers!
Grey Gardens Hot Toddy
1 oz Maker’s Mark
1 cup of Harney & Sons Winter White Earl Grey Tea
1 tsp maple syrup
1 TSP half & half
garnish: freshly ground nutmeg
After brewing the Harney & Sons Winter White Earl Grey tea sachet in a cup of hot water, stir in the maple syrup, Maker’s Mark and half & half. Garnish with freshly ground nutmeg.
Bit by a Fox received these samples without payment.
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, explores and documents the personal style of some of the best bartenders in the industry. For this latest installment, we’re profiling doyenne of cocktails, part-time chanteuse, and all around force of nature, the talented Ms. Franky Marshall. We visited Franky at her resident home bar, Brooklyn Height’s Marie Antoinette-inspired cocktail den, Le Boudoir, where she heads the beverage program.
I’ve never been a t-shirt and jeans kind of person. I like to look good. I dress to be photographed. ” – Ms. Franky Marshall
Franky doesn’t like to play it safe. From a wanderlust that started at an early age, a non-conventional career path and a variety of creative pursuits, to the exotic cocktails she creates to win international spirits competitions, Franky Marshall is, self admittedly, a risk taker.
And you’ll most likely pick up on that the moment you meet her. Franky’s free spirit and fearlessness has a way of translating outward – through her personality AND her sartorial choices. Franky doesn’t do anything halfway.
Fluid. Funky chic. Slightly dangerous.” – Ms. Franky Marshall when asked to describe her personal style
Purple is clearly Franky’s signature color. Even if she’s not fully decked out in it, there’s usually a pop of amethyst in her hair, a bright lilac swiped across her lips, sometimes a lacy, violet bustier with ribbons framing her décolletage…
Franky got her start in the craft cocktail industry about 9 years ago as part of the opening staff of Clover Club, Julie Reiner’s now standard-bearing, hospitality driven cocktail lounge in Brooklyn. And it’s been full speed ahead ever since. She went on to work at the iconic Monkey Bar, helped to open one of New York City’s most acclaimed cocktail bars to date, Dead Rabbit, and has spent the past year, since it opened, as Beverage Director at Le Boudoir.
Growing up in small town in Upstate New York, Franky had an awakening in high school when she met some edgy girls in a French immersion course. The girls ended up inspiring her to dye her hair orange, shave part of her head and embrace her inner punk rocker.
In college, Franky made the decision to study abroad, learned to speak French fluently, and solidified her Francophile leanings (which ended up serving her especially well once she would become a BNIC Certified Cognac Educator in 2014). By college, her style took a decidedly gothic turn. She was more covered up, wore mostly thrift store finds, and peppered her wardrobe with leather pieces.
While her style has evolved and has “toned down”, compared to her more radical goth days, Franky prides herself on her ability to adapt. She stills finds gems at Goodwill and Salvation Army and claims to shop in all departments – kid’s, men’s, and plus size. But what is most important to her is “dressing for the place”.
Le Boudoir is a pretty fun one to dress for. Inspired by Marie Antoinette’s decadent private chambers, the ceiling is modeled after a replica of the actual floors in the palace of Versailles, and a bust of the famed French queen sits regally on top of the bar, overseeing the place.
In order to even get to this lush, subterranean haven, you have to first go through French restaurant Chez Moi, owned by Parisian couple Tarek Debira and Patricia Ageheim. After entering behind a bookshelf and descending a flight of stairs, you’ll be transported to an intimate but lavish room dripping in gilt, antiques, and red velvet.
Franky continues to fulfill her desire for international travel and exploration through her many roles as presenter, moderator, judge and educator for various seminars, bar shows and competitions around the world. She also competes in cocktail competitions herself, and continues to KILL it. It is no surprise knowing her love of trotting the globe, and after seeing the many exotic pieces in her wardrobe, that Franky’s biggest style inspiration comes from her travels.
The pewter glassware collection at Le Boudoir is extensive. The upstairs restaurant opened three years prior, and they had the luxury of working on the bar for nearly two of those years, sourcing a variety of glasses, barware and tools.
When we asked Franky which cocktail on the menu best represented Le Boudoir as well as her particular cocktail design style, she made for us the stunning Jardin Royale, a lovely mix of tequila, grapefruit and lavender.
Jardin Royale created by Franky Marshall for Le Boudoir
1 oz Blanco Tequila
1 oz La Quintinye Extra Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Pamplemouse Liqueur
1 oz Lavender Soda
Garnish: lavender & thyme sprigs, grapefruit twist
Add tequila, vermouth & liqueur to mixing glass, stir with ice. Strain into fancy goblet. Top with Lavender Soda. Express grapefruit oils. Garnish with lavender and thyme sprigs.
We’re only two days away from Thanksgiving and I don’t know about you, but I am NEEDING this little escape of food, booze and loved ones right about now. I think we all do.
While the food takes center stage on Turkey Day, we all know what’s really important while everyone’s waiting for that bird to roast…that Thanksgiving cocktail! But the key to keeping the host(ess) and everyone else happy is a crowd-pleasing pre-dinner drink that is simple to make.
If the recent events I’ve created cocktails for here in Los Angeles have taught me anything, it’s that people LOVE a Moscow Mule variation. And this seasonal take on the mule makes it perfect for your Thanksgiving feast.
I created this drink about a month back for the PixSweet launch party. And it all came about because both Our/Los Angeles Vodka and Bit by a Fox fave, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur were generous enough to help sponsor the event. It was a match made in Moscow Mule heaven. Not to mention a merging of both of my Brooklyn and Los Angeles lives!
But the real seasonal kicker is the limited edition Trader Joe’s Honey Crisp Apple Cider. It’s unfiltered and with a tartness that makes it less sweet than regular apple cider. I’ve included both the Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur recipe as well as one made with ginger beer in the case that you are unable to get your mitts on Barrow’s. You can also batch this cocktail in pitchers so you don’t have to think about it and your guests can help themselves!
Honey Crisp Harvest Mule – makes 1 drink
2 oz Honey Crisp Apple Cider
2 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
4 oz Ginger Beer
2 oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
2 oz Seltzer
Fill a shaker with all of the ingredients except for ginger beer or seltzer. Shake until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled copper mug or rocks glass. Top with ginger beer or seltzer. Stir.
Large Batch Honey Crisp Harvest Mule – makes 12-14 drinks
3 cups Honey Crisp Apple Cider
1 750 ml bottle Vodka
1 cup Lemon Juice
6 cups Ginger Beer
1 750 ml bottle Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
3 cups Seltzer
Batch all ingredients in a large canister and stir. Serve over ice immediately.
Being the first of anything is always a challenge. Blinking Owl Distillery co-owners, husband and wife, and longtime Santa Ana residents, Brian and Robin Christianson know that all too well. After setting aside their careers and devoting nearly four years to conceptualizing, researching and planning the business and build-out of the first craft distillery in Orange County, they’ve finally opened their doors – just in time for California laws surrounding the production and selling of spirits on premise to catch up.
The American craft beer movement started in Northern California in the late 70s and over four decades has grown to have more operating breweries than any other state in the country. But it took up until last year for California (later than many other states in the country) to pass a law granting craft spirits distilleries similar rights as the brewing industry. This is a game changer for the state. And Blinking Owl’s timing couldn’t be better.
Set in an industrial part of Santa Ana, after only two months of being open for business, the distillery has already been embraced by the community and other local businesses. Locally made liquor has been a welcome and much-needed part of the Southern California food and drink scene, and Brian and Robin along with their partner, co-owner and friend Kirsten Vangsness have made it a point to celebrate and pay homage to their community.
From using locally sourced grains and botanicals to produce their spirits to naming the business after a historic mid-century bar in the area that they had heard stories about, they aim to keep it local.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have been big plans and a desire to grow outside of their neck of the woods. Blinking Owl’s state of the art facilities point to their clear ambition to produce well outside their state.
At the moment, Blinking Owl is producing a vodka, an orange flavored vodka made from Valencia oranges grown locally, and an aquavit made with the traditional caraway as well as hibiscus – the flower of Santa Ana.
This month, they plan on producing their first gin. And just this past week, they barreled their first rye whiskey.
Since they plan on milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, and barrel aging in-house, we won’t be able to see any Blinking Owl whiskeys available for a few years from now.
In the meantime, their current spirits line-up is solid. And the Christianson’s passion for what they are doing is palpable.
Brian made us one of their signature cocktails created by local Orange County resident, Kayli Gennaro, which included both their vodka and aquavit.
It was such a lovely cocktail, I wanted to share it with you all here…
The Aquavenus by Kayli Gennaro
2 oz Blinking Owl Aquavit
1/2 oz Blinking Owl vodka
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a coupe glass (or martini glass). Express an orange peel over the drink, scent the rim of the glass, and discard the peel. Slap a sprig of thyme in the palm of your hand to express aromatic oils and drop in glass as garnish.
If you live in the area, Blinking Owl Distillery’s tasting room is open and you can book a tour now! I highly recommend it. When you visit, tell them, Bit by a Fox sent you. 😉