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.
**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.
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.
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
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
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?
Oh yeah, almost forgot – here’s a cocktail I came up with for this special holiday:
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!)
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!
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)
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:
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:
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
Planning a wedding? Going to a wedding? Check out this article I wrote as a guest blogger on the website ourweddingplus.com:
Are those wedding bells I hear?