Swaying Skirts Abound

The pleasure of cocktail mixing for 6 different women’s magazine editorial staffs has been given to me by the fine folks at Smirnoff Vodka in recent days.  I’ve completed two of these six, those two being for ‘Bust’ magazine and ‘InStyle’ magazine.  Everyone at both offices were pleasures to serve and speak to.  Vodka does hold a very important stronghold on the American culture, and it’s history is quite interesting.  First consumed in 13th century Russian, Vodka (derived from the Russian word for water, ‘Voda’), soon became the official beverage of the royal Czars and Czarinas.  In 1934, vodka was introduced by one brand in particular, as ‘white whiskey,’ for Americans had never experienced this potent elixir before.  Smirnoff was this brand, and Americans are forever indebted to them. 

I mixed up 4 signature Smirnoff cocktails, 3 of which included their two newest flavors: Smirnoff Passion and Smirnoff White Grape.  I’ve included the recipe for the most popular, it seemed at these gatherings, of the 4 cocktails.  This is not to say that the others were not a hit – oh believe you me, they were.  This one required just a tad more arm-power of me to deliver:

Swaying Skirt Martini

1 1/2 oz. Smirnoff Passionfruit

3/4 oz. Guava Nectar

3/4 oz. Fresh lime juice

3/4 oz. Simple syrup

Directions:  Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish: cherry

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**Please note: I’m off to Vail, Colorado tomorrow for the 2008 Grand Marnier/Navan Mixology Summit.  From there I go off to Mexico with Herradura Tequila.  I know, I know, tough life.  I will blog from both locations  – don’t you worry now.

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Mr. Holland’s Opus

Last evening I accompanied my wife of nearly a year to a terrific dinner put on by one of her good friends from home.  He recently renovated his grandfather’s house in New Bedford, MA, and to thank everyone who helped out, he secured a private room and treated us all to a very plentiful dinner at a very exciting venue, Opus.  The south coast of Massachusetts is not particularly known for it’s fine dining establishments, although some delicious casual dining restaurants abound at almost every turn.  Opus is fine dining, yet in a casual, comfortable way.  The first think I did, of course, was peruse the list of specialty cocktails, and with names like “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and “The Itsy Bitsy Teeney Weeney Yellow Polka Dot Martini,” I knew for sure I was in for a treat.  To be frank, the list was impressive for it’s geological location.  I was amazed.  I opted for my old stand-by, a Maker’s Manhattan on the rocks with extra bitters.  Without flinching the waiter returned with just what I asked for.  The food – ahh the food – was simple and served in perfect proportion to the group’s hearty appetite.  I guess you could say the food is down-home American with a Mediterranean flair.  Crispy, golden hot pepper calamari – sweet pork dumplings – and as a main for myself – surf and turf of grilled chicken breast and lobster tail – are just some examples of the culinary feast I experienced.  As always, desert is a very important part of my eating out experience, and these did not fail.   A creamy peanut butter chocolate moose served it’s purpose, and the Oreo Cheescake seemed home-made, and I would not be surprised if it was.  The staff was polite and efficient, and made us feel welcomed.  We were the last to leave the place,  on the eve of Easter, and if I could make this trek to Opus a yearly Easter eve tradition, I would.   

The World Bar cocktail Demo for Scholars

Earlier this evening at The World Bar, I had the privelege of conducting a cocktail demonstration for a group of scholarly graduate students from Columbia University.  Their interest gave me hope, hope that more will come forward with the desire to learn all about Mixology. 

 Enough preaching – here are the cocktails I demonstrated, if you care to try at home.  Also, please click on the logos for the sponsors of this fine event: Combier Liqueur, Moet Champagne, and Sagatiba Cachaca.

Cuke a L’Orange

1 slice cucumber, chopped

1 lime wedge

1/2 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 oz. Sagatiba Cachaca

1/2 oz. Combier Orange Liqueur

Dash Angostura bitters

Muddle the cucumber in the simple, bitters and lemon.  Add remaining and shake well.   Strain into ice-filled wine/rocks glass. 

Garnish: lemon wheel and cucumber wheel 

Berry Caliente

1 oz. Premium Vodka (I like Belvedere or Chopin)

1/2 oz. Navan Vanilla Liqueur

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

1/2 oz. agave syrup

1 strawberry, sliced

1 small jalapeno slice

Muddle the strawberry and jalapeno in lime and agave.  Add remaining and shake well.  Strain into martini glass.

Garnish: strawberry slice 

Blood Orange infused champagne

1/2 oz. Combier Liqueur

1 oz. Blood Orange puree

3 oz. Moet & Chandon White Star Champagne

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into champagne flute.

Garnish: orange twist

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www.thecocktailguru.com

The Ex-Pat

St. Patrick’s day is a time to think about loved ones and all things green.  It’s also a time to drink, in moderation, of course, pints of green Guinness.  I plan on going around Manhattan today in search of the best St. Patrick’s day cocktail.  So look out, I’ll be let loose across this city with my critic’s hat on.  I’ll report back and let you all in on what I’ve come up with. 

Very important: click HERE to make St. Patrick’s day an official holiday!  Don’t that sound peachy?

Guinness Propositoin 3-17

 Oh yeah, almost forgot - here’s a cocktail I came up with for this special holiday: 

The Ex-Pat

1 oz. Plymouth Gin

1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse

1/2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

1 dash Fee Brothers Lemon bitters

Directions: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish: a four-leaf clover (if you can find one!)

Four Leaf Clover

Herradura Cocktail Challenge at Sushi Samba

This past Tuesday I joined 10 or so other talented NYC mixologists at Sushi Samba in the West Village.  Members of the press, along with Brown-Forman  folks (they’re the bigwigs who own Herradura Tequila), gathered around the bar to witness a gleaming spectacle:  our versions of the next great Margarita cocktail.  Mind you, the margarita is my all time favorite drink, as you may remember from an earlier post in this here blog.  So I was primed and ready.  I shook my drink for the judges, The Cancun Hottie, and watched their faces intently in an effort to interpret any facial expressions in my favor or disfavor.  The judges were professional and stone-faced, so I had no luck.  We spent 3 hours watching our peers mix up delicious creations, and by the end were ready to find out the top 3, those of whom will be invited to Mexico in early April.  Well, long story short I’m going to Mexico!  Thanks Herradura and Brown-Forman – you guys rock! 

Cancun Hottie

1 1/2  oz. Herradura Anejo Tequila

1/2 oz. Chambord Liqueur

1/4 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur

1 tsp. agave nectar

3 dashes tabasco

Directions: Shake all ingredients in a cockail shaker with ice.  Strain into a chilled martini glass. 

Garnish: Flamed orange twist (optional)

Herradura Tequila

Secret Americana and the $200K Bottle of Hennessy

So I’m a little distracted as of late because I just learned that I’ve been invited by the fine folks at Herradura Tequila on a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico!  Stay tuned, of course, for more details.

What does this title above mean?  Well, check out this beautiful jewel-ridden chest:

Beaute de Siecle

This is a big deal for Hennessy.  The above chest was commisioned by avant-garde artist Jean-Michel Othoniel and includes bronze, Baccarat crystal, metal latice work, and of course the Beaute de Siecle Hennessy Cognac, which is a limited edition blend that has cognac that is up to 100 years old with the youngest being 47 years old.  One of these chests was recently auctioned off for Elizabeth Taylor’s AIDS charity – and it went for a mere $200,000.  Make sure you don’t mix this cognac with Red Bull.

What connection does this all have to me?  The event side of my company put a gathering together for the elite of NYC, to show off this chest, and the versatility of Hennessy in cocktails.  Set in the midst of the Sikkema-Jenkins Museum (in Chelsea) where Jean-Michel Othoniel’s “Secret American” exhibit was, we mixed, shook, and served some extra special Hennessy cocktails.  In  keeping with the ‘Americana’ theme, we wore plaid shirts and khaki pants.  One of the cocktails being served was a classic – the Sidecar.  So here is the recipe, so you can dream of 6-figure bottles of cognac as you’re imbibing:

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Hennessy Sidecar

1 1/2 oz. Hennessy V.S. Cognac

1/2 oz. Grand Marnier

1/2 oz. Fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz. simple syrup

Directions:  Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish: Lemon wedge

Sidecar Cocktail

Weddings Galore

Planning a wedding?  Going to a wedding?  Check out this article I wrote as a guest blogger on the website ourweddingplus.com:

http://www.ourweddingplus.com/blog/

Are those wedding bells I hear?

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Cocktails in Chi-Town

This past Friday I returned from a 2-day trip to legendary Chicago – city of gangsters, fires, and deep dishes.  I conducted a cocktail demonstration at Macy’s Culinary Studio (bet ya’ didn’t even know a thing existed) on the 7th Floor alongside celebrity chef Rick Bayless.  Who is this Rick Bayless? He’s one of the first ‘celebrity chefs’ to enter the culinary scene with a program on PBS.  He now has numerous books and TV shows that highlight his Mexican cuisine.  What a treat it was to be alongside this gentleman, and to taste his delicious food.  Around 65 people showed up, and I created 2 cocktails especially for the event that I demonstrated to these fine foodie guests.  I’ve included photos from that evening, as well as the cocktail recipes below.  First I must give HUGE props to the folks at Belvedere Vodka and Navan who so kindly sponsored the event.  Two great spirits that raise the standards of any cocktail and are the absolute epitome of luxury:

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I really enjoyed my time in this great city.  It’s got a New York feel to it, but only in the span of a few blocks which the natives call ‘The Loop.’  The rest of Chicago looks like the outer boroughs of NYC.

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Macy’s on State St.- the old Marshall Fields building.

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There I am, shakin’ up a storm.

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The crowd is quite intrigued…

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Me, Belvedere, and Chef Rick Bayless.  Friends forever.

The hotel I stayed in – The Raffaello Hotel:

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Great boutique hotel.  Larger than I thought – about 16 floors!  No restaurant, though, but just across the street is the restaurant for the Westin, or Hilton – one of those.  Friendly staff, comfy bed, and nice bathroom. 

And now for the recipes:

Berry Caliente

1 whole strawberry, sliced

1 small slice jalapeno pepper

1 1/2 oz. Belvedere Vodka

1/2 oz. Navan

1/2 oz. each of fresh lemon juice and simple syrup

Directions:  In a mixing glass, muddle the strawberry and jalapeno slice in the lemon juice and simple syrup.  Add Belvedere and Navan and ice and shake well.  Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish: Strawberry slice

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Under the Mexican Sun

1 oz. Belvedere Pomarancza

1 oz. Pineapple Juice

1/2 oz. Yellow Chartreuse

1 tsp. agave nectar

Directions:  Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice very well and strain into an ice-filled wine glass.  Top w/ chilled sparkling water (optional)

Garnish: Salt rim and large orange twist

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Many thanks to Dibbes who helped out tremendously during this trip! 

Playing with chemicals…Molecular Mixology II

This here post is a continuation of last week’s post about spherification and the Cointreau event I went to.  I’ve included some more photos below, with captions that try to describe to you what it might be that you’re looking at.  Enjoy, and don’t ask questions because I won’t for the life of me be able to answer them for you:

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These above are the two contraptions that are absolutely necessary to the spherifiwudymacallit process.  To the left, a scale to measure out your grams of liquid and chemical additives, and to the right, the magnetic thingie that spins your liquids around until a gel is created.

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Pour gel into water/chemical mixture.  Out comes Cointreau caviar.

 

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Don’t they look good enough to just pop right into your mouth?

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A kit of your very own for your bar or restaurant.  Make sure your bar-backs know what they’re doing, and that they don’t mistake the chemicals for salt…

 

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The great view from the ‘Sky Room’ at the New Museum.

WARNING: Do not attempt unless you are fully trained on how to proceed with this process.  And if you do try, be careful of spontaneous shattering of glasses.

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