Thursday, August 10, 2017

Beach Weather is Upon Us

By Liza B. Zimmerman

With hot weather digging down on most of the South and East Coast it is time for us to lighten up on our wines. I drink much more white and lower-alcohol reds in the hot months and would invite you to do the same as well. The last thing you need in a heat wave is a super-over-proof California Cabernet.

Adam Padilla, who is a chef at the CIA in St. Helena has a few answers. “There are a variety of wines well suited for a day at the beach, especially if you draw inspiration from islands and coastal regions around the globe – such as Galicia, Santorini, Provence, Minho, California and Marlborough. Look for the varietals that hail from those regions and the wines the locals drink all summer long.”

I couldn’t agree more the Albarinos and crisp Vinho Verde’s from Northern Portugal and Spain are some of my favorites. They also pair so well with a wide range of seafood. The really often taste like sea spray in a bottle.

Padilla also likes brisk, crisp, higher-acid whites such as Loureiro (Vinho Verde), Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Assyrtiko and Picpoul. I adore the Rhone whites, such as Picpoul and Marsanne and Roussane almost any time of the year. Regions like Paso Robles and Lodi are also making some great white Rhone-inspired wines.

“Since acid helps to cuts through fat, and sugar [and fruit] can help balance salty foods, the wines above can be versatile pairings for everything from chicken salad sandwiches, to garden fresh pesto pasta salad, panzanella with mozarella, homemade potato chips, and summer fruit salads. Crisp, minerally whites also go especially well with oysters, clams, paella and fresh seafood dishes,” adds the chef.

Going Red
If you want to enjoy reds during the summer it’s nice to go with brighter, lighter wines. “A high-alcohol, full-bodied red may not be the most ideal pairing for a hot, sandy summer day,” says the chef. “The wine should be fun, lighthearted, shareable, chilled, and – most importantly – not too serious.”

Ones that can be served slightly chilled like a Beaujolais Cru, Lambrusco or Chinon are all great choices. Padilla agrees, adding that summer is time for “Light, bright, fruit-forward reds with low tannins such as Carignan, Counoise, Frappato, Grignolino, Gaglioppo and Gamay.”

Or as a stand in for a red try a rose made from the same grapes. “Drier, direct press [non-saignée] rosés made with Grenache/Garnacha, Cinsault and Carignan such as those from Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon, and coastal California. Saignee is French for bleed and describes a method French of removing some of the juice from the must so the resulting wine light or bright pink not red.

“Another fun idea is to bring along a bottle of aperitif wine –similar to vermouth. Just add some club soda and fresh fruit and you have yourself a nice, refreshing spritz [which will also help keep you better hydrated],” jokes the chef.

Additional things to think about for beach consumption can also include how alcoholic the wine is. “Low alcohol is also important with summer wines. It’s easy to get dehydrated while out in the sun, and wine with high alcohol content could exacerbate that problem. Screw caps are also a bonus, since they’re easy to open and reseal.”

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Say Cheese!

By Warren Bobrow

Are you mystified by cheese?  Do you see a cheese plate and instinctively think that it’s an expensive dessert?  Have you ever taken a cheese class?  Would you know that cheese goes really well with spirits? 

If your answers are yes, no, no and no, then you’ll probably be hungry – and hopefully thirsty by the time you finished reading.  Why?  Because cheese is not pretentious, nor is it only for dessert!  In fact, cheese is something that is made by hand in the same manner as it has for hundreds of years- and cheese is created by farmers!  There are certainly machine-made cheeses, but for the intent of this article, all the cheeses in the classes at the French Cheese Board in Manhattan are made by hand in the ancient fashion of the cheese maker.   So, you should not be mystified. 

Far from mystified, what is needed to truly TASTE cheese is to cut off your ability of smelling the cheese first.  There are many taste receptors in our mouths that are incredibly sensitive, but unfortunately most cheese is tasted with our noses first.  And if you can close your eyes while you are tasting cheese, there is another whole set of senses that are fooled by your visual sensibility. 

Located in the trendy-eastern fringes of SoHo, where the old city collides with Nolita, the French Cheese Board in its handsome and sleek space.  It is filled with ample sunlight and is a very friendly place indeed.  This outpost of French culture in the Big City, seeks to demystify cheese by taking cheese out of its usually pretentious context completely.  Instead of merely snacking on cheese, they suggest carefully tasting cheese, but not overwhelming the plate with superfluous parts.  Instead of a grilled-cheese sandwich, serving a small cheese slice- served simply with dried fruit, plain crackers (so not to overpower the delicate flavors) and perhaps some rugged coins of dry baguette will more than suffice as an accompaniment. 

Cheese served simply on a cheese board become a compliment to dinner, not solely a means to an end after dinner when you are already full.

The ancient style of making cheese, on a cheese board, or alone- Goat Cheese is a fine way to start a meal. I tend to prefer a combination of old and new goat cheeses, carefully rolled into a log and then further aged in straw- in a special cheese cave.  This amalgamation of funky and sweet calls out for a number of liquid accompaniments.  Many of the liquids that I suggest for goat cheese are not wine.  Goat cheese, especially aged (chalky and funky in the somewhat barnyard nose) takes to the more botanical style of gin with a tongue in cheek sense of humor.  There is nothing that I enjoy more in the summer months than a gin and tonic with a nice crumbly goat cheese between my fingers.  For the gin component I’d suggest the Barrel Aged Barr Hill Tom Cat (style).  A couple months in new American oak translates to a richening and deepening of the already sensuous quality inherent in each sip of Barr Hill Gin.  A touch of vanilla, toasty oak and raw honey reveal themselves into a tangle of sweet and tangy across the palate.  Couple with that a cane sugar tonic water such as Q-Tonic (from Brooklyn no less), a hunk of lime and you have the next wave of cheese sophistication.  This is the way I want to start my next meal, with elegance and candor. 

A firm, well aged, mountain-style cheese from the French Alps calls out for a whisky from Japan that mimics in its own inimitable way the magnificent Scotch Whiskies from the other side of the globe.   For a firm, yet oily cheese such as these highly expressive examples from the extreme altitudes of the Alps, a richly textured whisky provides back-bone against the creamy firmness of the hand-made cheese.  The Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is distilled drop by precious drop from a Coffey still dating to the early 1960’s.  A Coffey Still is a type of Pot Still made of copper. It makes richly textured liquor that has a warm nutty flavor in its approach.  Similar on the flavor wheel to the earthy quality of the French- mountain cheeses.  A fine match for stimulating the palate before or even after dinner. 

Francois, the gregarious and ever-smiling “Professeur de Fromage” comes from a long line of cheese makers.  His studied and conversational flair for history is filled with humorous narratives and beneficial hints to the history of cheese.  All of these made even more interesting because of the ultimate enjoyment of the finest cheeses available and he does this without any pretentiousness.  He demystifies the different varieties, goat, sheep, cow- and breaks each one down into its unique components of flavor.  Sour, sweet, tangy, umami- what?  What is that?  I think it’s the indescribable flavor.  The one between here and there.  Confusing?  Perhaps it is- but after taking a most basic class at the French Cheese Board you’ll certainly be less confused, and considerably more knowledgeable in the art of cheese as more than a metaphor. 

Getting back to how flavor is revealed, Francois offers you a mask to cover your eyes with a and your nose is closed with a kind of swimmer’s nose clip.  This is to encourage textural feeling the surface of the cheese through your fingers, neither smelling the cheese, nor viewing it. 

Is the cheese dry, soft, grainy, crumbly, wet, sticky, polished...?

The list of textures goes on and on.  
French cheese comes in all forms, from hard, used for grating, to liquefied and unctuous, meant to be spooned and savored.  There are many varieties and no, cheese is not just for dessert.  It makes for an incredible aperitif with slivers of black footed Spanish Iberico Ham, meant to stimulate the thirst and the appetite. 

For nibbling on Iberico Ham and Washed Rind Cheese I would suggest a slightly salty “Fino” Style Sherry such as the Bodegas Grant “La Garrocha” Fino Sherry NV (Andalucia, Spain)  The crisp and aromatic nature of this nearly bone dry sherry will cut the fat both of the cheese and the pork flesh with alacrity.

Sure, you can enjoy cheese without a blindfold on and certainly without a nose clip blocking your passage to the ability of scent.  But isn’t it interesting to dismiss most French cheeses because they may be overly assertive in aromatics.  That is certainly a fact of life when dealing with washed rind cheeses and still others that turn into liquefaction through aging and cannot be eaten without a spoon, it would just be too sloppy!  But delicious!

Cheese and the study of cheese is as easy as taking a walk down to the French Cheese Board, conveniently located at 41 Spring Street in Nolita.  Bring and open mind and taste yourself into another way of being.  One that embraces the passion for hand-made cheese!  

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Whites

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Now that the days are longer and the sun is out we may all enjoy more white wine on the patio and with dinner. Brighter flavors and higher acidity levels often work beautifully with lighter summer foods and can even tame some of those tough vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes.

Some of my favorite summer whites include Muscadets from the Loire Valley, white Bordeaux and Sauvignon Blancs from almost anywhere: especially South Africa. These mineral-driven wines can stand up to all kinds of salads, raw and cooked fish dishes and delicious cheeses. Rhône whites are also among my favorites with varietals like Marsanne and Viognier way up there on the summer delicious scale.

Ideas from an Expert
Nicole Rolet is a New Yorker who owns the Chêne Bleu vineyard in the Southern Rhône Valley. Her tastes run to “Roussannes that smell like Provençal summer fruit baskets: apricots, peaches and melons and I also the delicately perfumed Viogniers.” She added that U.S. domestic producers are also hitting a home run with “gorgeous White Grenache and other Rhone-styles whites of cool microclimates such as Santa Barbara.”

“If I’m relaxing by the pool [which winemakers rarely get to do!], there are lots of crisp whites to choose from—a light bright Loire Valley wine like Sancerre, a springy Sauvignon Blanc or a mouth-wateringly dry Riesling from Alsace, Germany or the Finger Lakes or a new, improved Pinot Grigio, recovering from the excesses of quantity over quality of the last decade,” she added.

These wines, she noted, are “crying out to be paired with food… summer salads, seafood or even a nice cheese platter, since over here [in France] we often prefer rich whites with cheese to reds. With food our wines really earn their keep.”

Temperature is Key
With summer whites, as much as winter reds, serving them at the right temperature is going to make all the difference. If you keep the whites a little warmer than usual you may see that they are generally more expressive in the glass. A trick they use in Texas, mostly for the reds in the hot months, is to serve them in chilled decanters which keep the wines fresher than they would be strait out of the bottle.

Rolet confirms the same rule about giving summer whites a little warm up in the glass. “As a rule of thumb, I always enjoy drinking good quality whites a bit warmer than recommended, so their perfume really lifts from the glass and when you sip it you get to fully experience the full palette of flavors. “

During the peak heat of summertime you will want to do your wines as much justice as you do with your foods. Serve your whites at their peak of fresh, but not super-chilled, accessibility. Trust me that you won’t regret it this season.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Jean Baptiste Philémon Lemaire Punch

By Warren Bobrow

If there is any liquor that makes me salivate, it would have to be Rhum Agricole.  Perhaps it’s the freshness of the core ingredient, the sugar cane itself.  The juicy-fruit quality of the mouthfeel, the creamy texture... the way it rolls around my mouth- for example... very intriguing.  There is life in Rhum Agricole, just like there is life on Martinique.  It’s vibrant and exciting.  Just imagine, not so long ago, in 1902- the town of Saint-Pierre and 30,000 residents ceased to exist because the local volcano decided that day was going to be the day that it just exploded!  You can almost feel this tension (terroir) of volcanic ash in the sugar cane that grows up the sides of the massive Mount Pelée. 

Rhum Agricole is different in a few basic ways from the booze cruise rum that most Americans have to contend with when ordering their rum based drinks.  Without belaboring what is rum and what is not rum, let’s just assume for a moment that the difference between Agricole and Industrial is probably going to be the base spirit.  Industrial to me means sugar- molasses.  Whereas Agricole is fresh, agricultural, free-run juice.  You know, the good stuff.  I am constantly explaining that dark rum doesn’t necessarily mean old (it actually gets lighter as it ages, fooling most consumers who think their dark rum is old rum) and Agricole is pure because of its AOC.  The AOC or appellation d'origine contrôlée means that the Rhum (in this case spelled with an h) is pure according to laws of the French Government.  That is, without drilling down too far, good enough for my belly, and it should be good enough for yours too. 

So, I beg your attention, if only for a quick glance while deciding which rabbit hole you are going down at this very moment, so my time is short indeed! 

Neisson L'Esprit Blanc Rhum Agricole speaks to me in the quality of the ingredients, plus rolling in at 70% abv or 140 Proof, this is not a Rhum for the meek.  You will certainly control your own fate when making ‘ponch’ with this magical elixir, truly wrought out of what was blown to smithereens in 1902. 

I’ve taken some oranges and limes and roasted them in the toaster oven, sliced in half, sprinkled with Demerara Sugar and light Balsamic vinegar.  Roasted at 350 for an hour, set to cool and then sliced into quarters.  The following is a take on the Ti-Punch (or ponch) as you can dream about and try by ordering your exceptional Neisson Rhum from DrinkupNY today!

Jean Baptiste Philémon Lemaire Punch
(Governor of Martinique in 1902)
Ingredients:
Quarters of your oven roasted limes and oranges
2 oz. Neisson L’Esprit
1 oz. Cane Sugar Syrup (preferably the stuff from Martinique, although you can make a dark simple with 1 cup of Demerara Sugar to one cup of boiling water, simmer and then let this cool, very slowly until quite dark, you can add a bit of vodka to the sugar syrup and it will last nearly indefinitely (pro-tip)
½ oz. White Balsamic Vinegar – for digestion of course!

Preparation:
Mash your oven roasted limes and oranges (the skins have all the oils in them!)
Add a portion of cane sugar simple
Add some white balsamic
Add some Neisson L’Esprit
Add a handful of ice
Continue until content

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rosés to Pair with Fish

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Now that springtime is in full bloom, crisp whites and roses seem to pair perfectly with just about everything. I just came back from a fantastic visit to Galicia in Northern Spain where I had some of the freshest seafood of my life. Everything from stripped bass to enormous hunks of octopus are served right from the ocean onto your plate in a matter of hours.

One of the region’s better-known local dishes is Pulpo la Gallega, which is a mix of octopus and potatoes slathered in paprika and olive oil. It pairs beautifully with the local rosés as well as the fresh and intense rosés made in neighboring Navarra.

While white wine is more often the go-to pairing for many seafood dishes, rosés—both still and sparkling--can have their charm and pairing affinities. First and foremost tuna and salmon, cooked almost any way is a no-brainer choice to enjoy with these wines. The fattiness of the fish has great synergies with the bright red fruit flavors in many rosés. Since Pinot Noir is considered a perfect wine with salmon, and consumed in copious amounts in the Pacific Northwest, why not try a rosé of Pinot Noir?

If you are eating Japanese or Peruvian and are having raw tuna or an Asian-inspired tuna-based ceviche, rosé is natural pairing. Sparkling rosés are ideal as the bubbles refresh the mouth for another bite of delicious raw fish

Notes from an Expert
Charlotte Tissoire, the head sommelier assistant at the Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay in London had a few ideas to share on pairing rosé with seafood. With tuna she recommends trying a rosé from Provence in the South of France. These wines tend to have “a certain richness and will be nice with the meaty texture of this special fish. As a 100 percent Mourvedre it will typically bring a long structure on the palate and a sappy and salty finish.”

“With a trout cooked in a rich sauce, it will be nicer to choose an older vintage of rosé so as to bring more structure in mouth, and to have something more opulent,” she adds.

Sparkling rosé wines will perfectly match with fresh starters like a lobster salad or a fish tartare; she notes stressing the flexibility of these wines. Clams or mussels in a rich, butter-based sauce would also be perfect with a still or sparkling rosé

Great rosé pairings are not limited to just fish and classic seafood. With “anchovies and sardines let’s try a Bordeaux rosé, “ she recommends. The region’s big and full-bodies wines tend to contrast nicely with the saltiness of both types of fish.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Milk Punch with Denizen Rum

By Warren Bobrow

The Miami Rum Fest is the premier event of the rum world.  A gathering of personalities who flock from across the globe to experience the calling that only comes with rum.  I just spent the better part of three days sharing my experiences in rum with nerd and tiki heads who speak this unique language of sugar cane spirits.  Unlike whiskey or gin- or Scotch- and all its derivatives, rum-heads are a colorful bunch.  They are decidedly un-serious about their craft surrounding the mystique of rum. Many of these aficionados are former scientists, blue-water sailors, pilots and abundantly, self-made adventurers who follow the Rhumb line around the globe in search of this precious, yet misunderstood elixir.  Whisky tends to be more snobbish in its personality although these spirits do share a certain synergy.  That would be the aging medium.  You see, the ex-bourbon casks that they age rum- are also used for Scotch Whisky and dare I say- the tempestuous cousins, Tequila- and Mezcal.  They share a symmetry that cannot be ignored.  There is bourbon in there- the trick is to imagine how much is revealed with each subsequent charring.  But I digress. 

I believe to learn about rum you have to attend events like the Miami Rum Fest.  There are more years of rum expertise in the room than in many of the events I’ve been fortunate to attend.  Rum Geeks, Rum Heads, Tiki Heads, Shrunken Heads... They’re all there.

Spending time in the company of so many passionate people teaches me great lessons about what I know and do not know about rum.  I watched how they tasted the spirits- the measure of sipping, the attention to detail- when to sip and when to spit- and what to eat within each tasting.  You don’t want to get blasted- that wouldn’t be cool.  And your palate?  That’s another story entirely.  I’m a professional, but even I get palate fatigue, so eat a cracker.  Normally I’d have a plate of real world food- barbeque comes to mind.  Something Pan-Asian in character- fish sauce- fermentation- food meant to awaken my palate and bring the rum into another space.  A place of history when sailors plied the unknown oceans of the globe- finely twisted on rum.  The perfect foil against the doldrums, when your nose is stuffed full of salt air and everything tastes like the sea. 

That is why I drink rum.  There is this product on the market that can approximate the experience of being out at sea.  It’s a saline spray- about five blasts of this stuff and your nasal passages are in the cut between Jost Van Dyke and Anegada.

Rum tastes better out at sea.  I know- this is where I learned about rum.  Heading out to uncertain waters on a yacht far too ambitious for my young self. 

Rum should be unforced.  I learned from the rum-fest that the best rums are the ones that speak a language.  A science would over intellectualize the process.  When you think of rum, you imagine an inexact science.  It’s not pretty- the distillation of rum from molasses.  The yeast is essential, the time in the barrel also important.  Too much rum is colored with caramel for my taste.  I understand the reasoning though.  I can’t wrap my hands around manipulation of the sugar, but again- commerce is a powerful determinate- one that I can only surmise. 

That leads me to the cocktails that I enjoy with rum.  Classic drinks sometimes sing a deeper tune and rums that are not overly manipulated speak more clearly in this regard.  I’ve found that the rum, simply named Denizen.  It’s something of a secret, this rum.  At least in the US market.  The company that created it has been around for hundreds of years.  Quietly performing their art for a very well-heeled audience without fanfare or pretentiousness.  Just like rum itself- passion in the craft of blending and securing the finest base spirits and doing the very least to reveal flavor.  Denizen is crystal clear in color- perhaps for my taste a bit too clear- since I prefer my rum to have some stuff left in it.  However, for the American consumer- Denizen is far better than most of the ‘clear’ rums on the market.  And it actually has lineage behind it of roughly four hundred years in the rum business!  They know a bit about rum I’d say. 

I cannot divulge the actual source of rum; I can say it is produced in Trinidad.  The nose is fruity and the mouthfeel is creamy and full.  There are bursts of starfruit and wet stones. The finish is richly textured and reminiscent of roasted plantain and freshly crushed nutmeg.  I often mix Denizen with coconut water ice, a touch of vanilla paste and a splash of heavy cream, shaken hard and served with a slice of grilled pineapple.   This is rum that speaks to my optimistic nature.  Rum that excites my palate through its simplicity- the way it tastes without color added to approximate age.  I think it’s about eight years old- and absolutely no color added.  Nice touch if you ask me.  And it’s elegant.  Certainly elegant enough to serve as a digestive in a snifter for dessert.  Gorgeous stuff.  Lucky me to have a bottle to sip on- although it’s getting low!   I do recommend tasting in a Neat Glass.  It offers something that no other glass offers on the market.  That is a different opinion. 

Pretty Much an Optimistic Milk Punch
Ingredients:
4 oz. Denizen Rum
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
2 oz. Coconut milk
2 oz. Coconut Cream
Coconut Water ice- that is regular coconut water-frozen and crushed in a Lewis Bag-canvas to wick off the moisture...
Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters

Grilled Pineapple- Slice a pineapple into the appropriate size spears, grill over hard wood charcoal until caramelized- set aside to cool

Preparation:
Fill a Boston Shaker ¾ with regular bar ice
At the same time- prep your serving glasses by adding about 10 shakes of Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters to some funky looking glasses, then topping with the coconut water ice- set aside

Add the vanilla paste, the coconut milk and the Coconut Cream along with the rum to the shaker.  Cap and shake hard for 30 seconds
Strain into your funky glasses filled with coconut water ice
Garnish with the charred, grilled pineapple spear
Serve and immediately start another batch for quick service on the uptake.  Brilliant!

Get yourself tickets next year to the Miami Rum Fest.  It’s a lovely way to spend the weekend with friends, and friends not yet met. 

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Gantous & Abou Raad Arak

By Warren Bobrow

The language of travel supersedes the need to actually speak the semantic of the place.  As does travel, the need to fill the belly with more than just laughs- actual food- should take precedent over dialogue.  The same holds true for strong drink.  I always recommend taking some food when imbibing and the conversation will just flow- as marvelous as the food and drink that fills the gut- and the soul!

Arak (Middle Eastern in derivative)-distilled from grapes and anise seed, as opposed to Arrak- distilled from sugarcane (popular in Southeast Asia) is what fills my gut and my heart.  Arak is the last thing on my lips- and the first thing into my memories.  It is mystical and aromatic with memorable herbal elements of more than just licorice.  There are history lessons to be learned with each measured sip of Arak.

DrinkUpNY is fortunate to carry the classic Arak: Gantous & Abou Raad Arak

In my research on the topic, Arak is the same final product as Ouzo and Raki.  They are all created from grape based alcohol that is rectified and flavored with the same ingredients.  Anise Seed is used like juniper in gin and it gives Raki, Ouzo and Arak their signature flavors of licorice and reminiscences.  There is a certain Terroir in these liqueurs and they truly taste of the place where they are produced.  It’s quite uncanny actually.  I can taste the friendly nature of the people who make each drop.  They seem to beckon me to the table to enjoy a sip or two against the blistering heat. 

A favored way to enjoy Arak, as well as Ouzo and Raki is in a slender glass with a drizzle of water to release the volatile oils and aromatics.  Ice is usually not produced, nor is it offered as ice would have been impossible to attain and keep cold in the often arid temperatures of the Middle East where Arak is permitted and celebrated.

I’m a fan of flavors and tastes that evoke a far off place.  In this regard, I’m calling attention to this region of the world.  More out of a metaphor for conversation though the filling of the belly. Then as an added benefit there is good food and fine drink such as this Arak. 

And as health is my metaphor, may I suggest a portion of freshly crushed carrot juice to act as a determinate for the potent Arak?  Absolutely.  And because Arak is frequently no less than 50% alcohol, it needs very little to unleash the fire held deeply within. The grape base is aged in clay amphorae like they made wine 5000 years ago!  Talk about history!

Gantous & Abou Raad Arak is produced in a place further afield in the Middle East, this case is Lebanon, where the finest Arak is produced using the most historic methods including the use of copper pot stills and low temperature, through multiple distillations and the infusion of anise seed. 

Phoenician Carrot Frappe
Ingredients:
3 oz. Gantous & Abou Raad Arak
2 oz. Freshly crushed carrot juice
Crushed Ice
Fresh mint- (drop cut end in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, then store in ice water cut end down)

Preparation:
To a Burgundy Wine glass- add the crushed ice
To a Boston Shaker- add the Arak and the carrot juice- add bar-ice to fill ¾ and cap, shake hard for 15.5 seconds.  Double strain over the ice in the Burgundy glass
Garnish with the fresh mint, add more ice to the glass, if necessary

Serve with a full stomach and empty your mind

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye, Liquor.com, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.