Friday, March 7, 2014

Drinking in Paris

Pastis de Savoie @ Chez Janou

The Valentina Cocktail @ Le Mary Celeste
(rhum Plantation 3*, liqueur de violette, xérès fino, citron vert)

Lenoir 2007 Chinon Les Roches @ Le Mary Celeste

Cocktails @ Little Red Door

Cocktails @ Little Red Door

Ti Punch Cocktail @ Bar Le Coq

Clos des Vignes du Maynes 2012 Cuvée 910 Mâcon-Cruzille @ Septime
Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir by Julien Guillot

Alice et Olivier De Moor 2011 Saint-Bris + Jean-Yves Péron Champ Levat 2011 Mondeuse @ Le Baratin

Dominoes + St. James Rhum Ambre Vieux Agricole @ Hotel Gabriel

Saint-Joseph 2011 @ Bistrot Paul Bert

Le Casot des Mailloles Soulà 2010 Languedoc-Roussillon (Grenache)@ Le Verre Volé

Philippe Bonard 2008 Les Chassagnes Savagnin Côtes du Jura @ Au Passage

Nowness | The Eight Chapters Of Ramen

Achieve the Perfect Slurp with Ivan Orkin, the American Chef Who Took a Chance in Japan

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Suze Cocktails

White Negroni

Suze has been imported into the US since the summer of 2012, but we still felt the need to pick up a bottle on a recent trip to Paris -- plus in the Charles de Gaulle airport duty free, it was dirt cheap at about 9€.

This gentian-based liqueur is yellow in color, has a bright and bitter flavor, and at only 15% ABV is perfect as an aperitif. Traditionally, it has been enjoyed over ice or with tonic.

Suze & Tonic

Last night, we enjoyed it in a white negroni and over tonic. In both drinks, the bitter gentian flavor comes through and marries well with the other ingredients. Because the white negroni has Dolin blanc there is also a roundness to the drink. Next time, I might try dry vermouth instead for a drier style cocktail.

For the white negroni, stir 1.5oz gin, 0.75oz Dolin Blanc, 0.75oz Suze over ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist. Recipe courtesy of Post Prohibition and Dutch Kills.

For the Suze and tonic, use Fever Tree Light Tonic.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Havana Club Rums

Another trip to Grand Cayman for the Cayman Cookout and vacation meant an opportunity to drink some Havana Club rum. It's always fun to enjoy food and liquor that is not available back home. With its close proximity to Cuba, Havana Club is readily available all over Grand Cayman and while there, I often drank Havana Club 7 Year on the rocks. Returning home this time, I picked up the Havana Club Añejo Especial and the Havana Club Selección de Maestros.

Añejo Especial

Classified as their "versatile gold mixer" -- a golden rum that's created from a blend of rums aged up to 5 years -- a blend of old and young rums. It has the lightness of a white rum with the aroma and some nuance of dark rums. This combination means it is perfect for a Mojito or Cuba Libre. Rum and cokes were one of my first consistent drinks of choice - meaning at 18, I was getting shit-faced on Bacardi and Cokes. The Cuba Libre is worth revisiting with the Havana Club Añejo Especial and a unique cola like Fentimans. Add 2oz. of rum and 1oz. lime juice in a tall glass over ice, top up with Fentimans and garnish with a slice of lime. Also try blending lemon and lime juice.

The El Presidente

Añejo 7 Años

This is the classic - it's what the folks at Havana Club call "the epitome of Cuban rum." Perfect on its own, exhibiting notes of vanilla, cedar and tobacco with a richness that is not quite sweet, but balanced. For a richer daiquiri, this is an ideal rum. Also try substituting this rum for rye / bourbon in a Manhattan. Another wonderful cocktail for rum is Tony Conigliaro's El Presidente (with rum, dry curaçao, sweet vermouth and grenadine).

Selección de Maestros

This rum is "the expression of six Cuban Maestros Roneros collective know-how, led by Don Jose Navarro."  They pick the best of their aged rums, blend them, and further age the blend in selected barrels. The final blend is bottled at barrel proof (45%). It's not a cheap bottle, so not sure it's "worth" (a subjective term) mixing, but it's a knock-out when you simply add a large chunk of ice to it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Old Fashioned by Barman Dale DeGroff

The Old Fashioned

I attended a holiday punch event at Apartment 13 last evening featuring three punches created by both Leo and Dale DeGroff using PAMA Liqueur as a base ingredient. All three were really enjoyable each in a different way. The Millenium was cognac-based, the Caribe rum and PAMA based and the PAMA Paloma was PAMA, Del Maguey Crema Mezcal, and Pedro Ximenez based.

My favorite though was the Caribe Punch made with Santa Teresa 1796 rum, PAMA Liqueur, Kalamansi, Lemongrass, Lime and Flamed Orange was my favorite. It was bright, fresh, tart and delicious. 

Beyond the punches and conversation, one of the highlights of the evening was sipping an Old Fashioned made by Dale. He it made with Louis Royer 53 VSOP Cognac which is a high-proof cognac perfect for this kind of cocktail. It packed a punch and was spot on.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Grand Cayman | What I Came Home With

On a recent trip to Grand Cayman I did what I always do when traveling, I explored the local liquor and food stores. Ok, I'll be honest - when I travel, I tend to hit most of the liquor / wine stores in a town. It might be left over from my days at Chambers Street Wines; it might be an odd form of liquor store OCD. Whatever it is, it's part of my urge to find that bottle I can't find at home.

Food stores, on the other hand, are the perfect way to see what the locals are eating at home and to discover local fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood.

From Grand Cayman, I returned with a bottle of Seven Fathoms rum and Grand Cayman Sea Salt. These souvenirs serve both as lovely reminders of an experience, but also as an opportunity to try something new.

Seven Fathoms rum is the only rum distilled locally on the island and they have a unique selling point in that the rum is aged in barrels seven fathoms under the sea. The theory is that the temperature and humidity is perfect, but also the motion of the ocean mimics rotating the barrels on land and is similar to aging rum on ships back in the day. And since I bought the bottle at the distillery, it was signed with palm tree by the distiller.

Sea salt is another perfect souvenir or even gift. It is an expression of the local waters brought to life in seasoning form. At home I have salt from Portland, Vancouver, the Florida Keys and now Grand Cayman. It's not always the cheapest gift (thanks mum and dad for that Florida Keys sea salt), but you'll remember your trip every time you season your food.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cocktail Recipe | Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour

I was recently introduced to Control C Pisco at an event in New York. Pisco is effectively a grape brandy made in Chile (in the case of Control C) and Peru. There are clear unaged versions of Pisco and aged versions which taste similar to French brandy or Cognac.

Control C is made in the Limarí Valley in Chile and is distilled three times. Wine made from Pedro Jiménez and Muscat of Alexandria grapes and then distilled to make the pisco. It has a bright, fresh, clean flavor. It's imported by Cadre Noir Imports, who also import Combier and Aveze Gentian Liqueur.

The classic cocktail using pisco is the Pisco Sour, but it's a very flexible spirit that can be incorporated into a variety of cocktails. In addition to the Pisco Sour, I also made a Pisco Collins. Take the same ingredients as below minus the egg white, mix them up and top with soda water over ice.

This version of the Pisco Sour replaces simple syrup with one of my new favorite cocktail ingredients, Bee Raw Honey single varietal honeys. The range of varietals available means it's easy to find one that matches the style of cocktail you are making.

Pisco Sour Recipe

Glass: Coupe
Garnish: none

- 2 oz. Control C Pisco
- 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
- 3/4 oz. Honey Syrup (Bee Raw Oregon Meadowfoam Honey with a little hot water to blend)
- 1 egg white
- 5 drops Angostura Bitters

1) In a cocktail shaker, combine pisco, lime juice, honey syrup and egg white.
2) Dry shake (with no ice) until good and frothy. Dry shaking emulsifies the egg proteins without diluting the drink.
3) Add ice and shake aggressively.
4) Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.
5) Gently drop 5 drops of Angostura Bitters on top of the cocktail and using a cocktail straw or a toothpick swirl the drops.