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.

BBaF Podcast Episode 51: Season Two Announcement

Listen to Episode 51: Season Two Announcement”

Listen up all you foxes. There’s a special announcement on this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast.

Now that we’re officially into the second season, there’s going to be a few changes around these parts. Listen in on this shot-sized episode for all details! And find out next week’s guest!

BBaF Podcast Episode 50: Clean + Dirty Drinking with Gaby Mlynarczyk

Listen to Episode 50: Clean + Dirty Drinking with Gaby Mlynarczyk”

It’s our one year anniversary of the Bit by a Fox Podcast and we are diving headfirst into our second season with Episode 50! In continuation of our discussion from last week about mindful drinking or not drinking, and wellness, this week’s episode has a little bit of everything. I spoke with Gaby Mlynarczyk – bartender, drinks writer, and author of Clean + Dirty Drinking, 100+ Recipes for Making Delicious Elixirs, With or Without Booze.

This week’s cocktail recipe – Gaby’s Carrot + Cardamom cocktail – includes the “Clean” and “Dirty” version

Clean:
1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp of fresh carrot juice
2 Tbsp of Cardamom Simple Syrup*
1 Tbsp fresh yuzu juice or fresh lime juice
1 drop of alcohol-free gentian root tincture
Ice cubes for shaking and serving
fennel frond, parsley sprig, or pea shoot for garnish

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add 5 ice cubes, and shake hard for 3 seconds. Fill a stemless wineglass or double Old-Fashioned glass with ice cubes. Using a Hawthorne strainer, strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with the fennel frond, parsley sprig, or pea shoot.

Dirty:
3 Tbsp Old Tom Gin or other dry gin
3 Tbsp fresh carrot juice
1 1/2 Tbsp Aperol
1 Tbsp fresh yuzu juice or fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp Simple Syrup
2 dashes of Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters
Ice cubes for shaking
fennel frond, parsley sprig, or pea shoot for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, carrot juice, Aperol, yuzu and lemon juices, syrup, and cardamom bitters. Add 5 ice cubes, and shake hard for 3 seconds. Follow the same instructions for the Clean version, garnish and enjoy!

*Cardamom Simple Syrup
First make a simple syrup with 1 cup sugar & 1 cup water.
Add 1/4  cup ground cardamom to 4 cups warm simple syrup. Stir and let sit for 2 to 3 hours to get a full infusion before using.


photo of Gaby by Eugene Lee
photo of Carrot + Cardamom Cocktail by Grant Cornett

BBaF Podcast Episode 49: Dry January with Selena Donovan

Listen to Episode 49: Dry January with Selena Donovan”

I’m doing Dry January this year and dragging you all with me! For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, at least! In this week’s episode (our last in the first season, btw!), I brought in seasoned spirits industry vet Selena Donovan, West Coast Grey Goose Brand Ambassador, who is also going dry this January. We spoke at the cozy cocktail den, Melrose Umbrella Co. in Hollywood about why we both decided to dry it out for this month…and we drank lots of delicious water!

The cocktail recipe this week is Selena’s take on a lighter version of the Pornstar Martini with and without alcohol:

Pornstar Martini Soda:
1.5oz Grey Goose La Vanille
1/2 can Passionfruit La Croix
.5oz Lime

No ABV version:
1/2 can of Passionfruit La Croix
.25oz Vanilla Simple Syrup
.5oz Lime

In an ice-filled highball glass add all ingredients. Give it a good stir and enjoy!

BBaF Podcast Episode 48: Glögg, Nog, & The Coquito – Drinking Christmas Around the World

Listen to Episode 48: Glögg, Nog, & The Coquito –
Drinking Christmas Around the World”

Happy Winter Solstice, my Foxy friends! It’s officially the first day of winter, it’s going to be a full moon tonight, and there’s even a chance we can witness a meteor shower in the next day or so. AND Christmas is only FOUR. DAYS. AWAY. It feels especially magical and witchy and almost as good as that last winter special episode of the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m in the holiday spirit AF. So for this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, I wanted to document traditional holiday drinks from around the world. It’s just a sampling, and it’s not the ENTIRE world, but it’s a great example of what different cultures deem festive this time of year. Spoiler alert: there’s a commonalty with all of them. People have been mixing up boozy cups of cheer for centuries. Here’s a little peek into the stories behind those Glöggs, Nogs, & Coquitos!

Homemade eggnog inspired by one from the Bit by a Fox Blog archives is featured for this week’s cocktail: Foxy Nog

MM eggnog5

Foxy Nog
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream (or for a dairy free version, 4 cups of Almond Milk)
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
4 oz brandy
4 oz spiced rum
2 oz sherry
fresh nutmeg for garnish

Place the eggs in a blender by themselves and beat for just under a minute. Add the sugar for another 40 seconds, until blended and then add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until it looks like everything is well combined. After the mixture has a chance to chill for at least an hour, you are ready to get your nog on! You can serve this drink up in a coupe or a teacup or you can add a few cubes of ice to lighten it up. But remember the freshly grated nutmeg for the topper is key.

Up Your Prosecco Game in Time for the Holidays

If you’re anything like me, you’ve most likely enjoyed a good amount of Italy’s most popular sparkling wine, Prosecco. Also, like me, you may be a fan of those lively, fruit forward bubbles that suit most any occasion, as well as the affordable price tag! But how much do you really know about the stuff?

Most of us just grab a brand that we’ve either had before and enjoyed, or a moderately priced bottle that speaks to us in another way. I’m not beyond admitting I’m influenced by a well designed label! But beyond that, we don’t put very much thought into it until we start sipping it up. You may have experienced by that point that the taste and quality can vary quite a bit. Not all of these Italian sparklers are equal!

America has been obsessed with Prosecco in recent years. It is more affordable than champagne and it pairs easily with food. But all that consumer enthusiasm has resulted in a glut of lower quality sparkling wines that make it difficult to know what is actually decent.

The easiest way to differentiate meh from exceptional, is knowing about the quality levels marked on a bottle’s label. Entry-level Prosecco DOC, for instance, is the most common type but is often mass-produced, and is less regulated. Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G., on the other hand, is made from grapes in a more focused region and produced on a smaller scale, yielding a higher quality bubbly.

The region for the cultivation of Prosecco is the northern Italian town of Valdobbiadene, in the Veneto region of Italy. The hills between the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene area, however is the more focused region where Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is produced. For 300 years, generations of family producers maintain the tradition of making some of the finest bottles out there. Prosecco grapes, also called “Glera”, do especially well in this cooler, rainy area, resulting in floral and fruit flavors of green apple, honeydew and pear.

Then there is the matter of differentiating between ‘Brut’, ‘Extra Dry’ and ‘Dry’ on the label – which can be (understandably!) confusing! These different levels express the amount of residual sugar left in the bottle, and can also be important when looking to pair a bottle with a specific dish.

‘Brut’ is the driest version of Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. Crisp and acidic, this is great with shellfish and fried foods. Then there is ‘Extra Dry’, which has slightly more residual sugar and a rounder, softer mouthfeel, but still maintains its high acidity. This pairs well with a variety of cheeses and cured meats. ‘Dry’ is the third level of sweetness and with its balance of bright citrus and fruit forward flavors, I’ve found it to be my favorite to have on its own. It is also lovely as a digestivo after a meal, with dessert.

While these wines are often associated more with summertime and consumed more frequently in the warmer months, I’m a fan of drinking it year round – and not just because I live in Los Angeles and can take my picnics al fresco in the winter months!

The higher quality Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G is especially nice for the holidays, as gifts or paired with richer, multi-course meals. All three bottles I’ve featured on this post are flexible enough to go with a variety of dishes, and would be great additions to your festive meals this winter.

The crisp and elegant ‘Brut’ Ca di Rajo would be perfect as a meal starter, the delicate and floral ‘Extra Dry’ Mas de Fer, Rive de Soligo, has the versatility to go with both sweet or savory dishes, and the Bacio della Luna DOCG Prosecco, also ‘Extra Dry’, would be ideal paired with something exotic and spicy to bring out the fresh stone fruit and floral notes.

Take your Prosecco game up a notch and seek out these elegant bottles that at a $15-$40 price range are STILL more affordable than that other bubbly you may be familiar with! Elevate any occasion (including a winter lakeside afternoon in Southern California!) with Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G.


Sponsored by Prosecco Superiore DOCG. As always, all opinions are my own!

BBaF Podcast Episode 47: Tobin Shea & LA’s Redbird Restaurant

Listen to Episode 47: Tobin Shea & LA’s Redbird Restaurant”

LA is one of the most exciting places for food & drink culture in the world right now, and has been underrated for years. I decided to shine a light on my chosen home and make this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast episode local. I focused on a bartender, a drinks program, and a restaurant that has made an incredible impression on this city in recent years. Bartender, Tobin Shea, my guest for this week’s episode, has been making an impression on LA pretty much since he landed from rural Pennsylvania 20 years ago.

We talked about his journey from college bartender to the Los Angeles rock, club and cabaret scenes, and into the craft cocktail world he now helps to lead. Tobin now heads one of the most inventive bar programs in Los Angeles. As Bar Director of Redbird restaurant, an architectural gem in downtown LA owned by celebrated chef Neal Fraser and wife, Amy Knoll Fraser, Tobin has helped to create one of the most exciting cocktail menus in the city.

A cocktail collection of 31 different drinks, titled The Plain Truth About the Best Seeds, is inspired by the first growing season and harvest from their recently opened garden. And is designed to mimic the vintage Burpee Seeds catalog with beautiful illustrations to match the inventive and delicious cocktails.

The cocktail recipe this week is Tobin Shea’s lower alcohol cocktail from The Plain Truth About the Best Seeds cocktail menu at Redbird: Chrysanthemum. (second from left, yellow/clear-colored)

Chrysanthemum
2 ½ oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
¼ oz. Bénédictine
¼ oz. Pernod Absinthe
2 dashes orange bitters

In a mixing glass add all ingredients and ice.  Stir until chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy.


All photos courtesy of Redbird.

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