Monday, June 24, 2013

Up the Steamy River

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

The very best cocktail coffee that I've had recently wasn't in Portland, Oregon or Boston, nor from any one of a dozen or so micro-roasters that have popped up (with much fanfare) all over New York City. The very best coffee for cocktails, in my humble opinion, is available only in a Vietnamese restaurant. What is it about Vietnamese coffee? Is it the condensed milk? Or is it the coffee itself? What about the fact that Vietnamese coffee is the same flavorful blend that is served at Café du Monde in New Orleans? Yes, that would make sense. Chicory coffee is the reason and the flavor profile speaks clearly of hot and humid climates. If I am going to make iced coffee I want my coffee to stand up to the liquors, otherwise I'll take a pass. There is nothing more disappointing than using weak American style coffee in a coffee cocktail.

Snap is a gorgeous product. The flavor profile is liquid Ginger Snap cookie. No, it's not flavored vodka, nor is it a sticky sweet cordial. Snap is a unique 80 Proof liquor that stands up beautifully to iced coffee. When you open the top of the handsomely designed bottle the first thing you taste is the buttery goodness of a handmade Amish-style Ginger Snap cookie. The 80 Proof heat keeps the underlying sweetness firmly in check. And if this is any more reason for you to go out an order a bottle right now, the USDA Certified Organic mark on the label should further encourage you to buy a bottle. It's not only delicious, but Snap is well-crafted too! Mixed with iced Vietnamese coffee it makes for a surprise in your cup.

But I'm not done just yet.

I'm turning out to be a fan of the Luxardo Triplum Orange Liqueur. I think the flavors of sweet to spicy to aromatic in the vein of orange work beautifully with the Snap liquor and a few essential dashes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters add exceptional depth. This is not your usual speed rack Triple Sec. It is a gorgeous blend of flavor, quite sumptuous and rounded in your cocktails. It is not sugary sweet, but there is a profile of sweet against the brooding heat. When set against Vietnamese coffee (with condensed milk of course) and the citrus element of the bitters, a cocktail is born. It is something more than just iced coffee; it's coffee with inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration, I like to use a very special type of ice in this frosty libation. I take water filtered through a Mavea "Inspired Water" filtration pitcher and infuse the Vietnamese coffee right into the ice along with a portion of coconut water. This adds a seriously exotic element to the already luxurious intensity of the smoky/sweet coffee. With a tip of the hat to the element of surprise found in most of my cocktails, I've included The Bitter Truth Bitters in Lemon along with a splash at the end of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water. By finishing this cocktail with a bit of this highly expressive sparkling water, it gives an zingy edge into each and every sip. Plus, if you've ever had a Manhattan Special Soda, you'll know that effervescent flavor that refreshes your thirst.

Friends, I have a lot of thirst.

Up the Steamy River Cocktail is a means to an end to the way you drink iced coffee. First of all I encourage you to get a can of chicory coffee. I don't believe that you can achieve the specific flavor profile that I'm looking for without it, or the condensed milk. I believe condensed milk is essential to making this drink sing. I always make my Vietnamese coffee in an espresso pot because I believe the concentration of the coffee is made even more profound using this method. Let the coffee cool completely before making this drink. The day prior it's important to make the "Inspired Water" ice in the Mavea pitcher. You can go and buy one at your local Williams-Sonoma store or on line. It's made in Germany and offers a fully recyclable filtration system.

Find an ice cube tray and fill it 20% with the Vietnamese coffee, 20% with coconut water (unflavored) and 60% Mavea filtered water. Let freeze overnight.

Make 6 ounces or so of your Vietnamese espresso coffee with Chicory and let cool, set aside.

Up the Steamy River

Ingredients for four very lovely and refreshing cocktails perfect for a Go-Cup:
• 3 oz. Snap (USDA Certified Organic)
• 2 oz. Luxardo "Triplum" Triple Sec Orange Liqueur
• 6 oz. Vietnamese Espresso Coffee with Chicory (cooled)
• 4 oz. Condensed Milk (Sweetened)
• 1 oz. (in each Collins Glass) Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water over the top of the liquors
• Several Shakes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
• Sprinkle of freshly scraped nutmeg
• Infused "Inspired Water" Ice with coffee and coconut water

1. To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with bar ice, add the liquid ingredients in two batches.
2. Shake well for 15 seconds.
3. Pour over your infused ice the liquors and the coffee with the condensed milk.
4. Add the Perrier and several shakes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters, then finish with a scraping of fresh nutmeg to make this drink very mysterious indeed!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vermouth: What's It All About?

By Amanda Schuster

Vermouth - we've all tasted it, we've all consumed it in cocktails. But few people truly know or understand what it is. Is it a wine, is it a spirit, is it an aperitif? The answer, not to confuse you is, yes.

Vintage ad for Carpano Vermouth
In the simplest of terms, it's fortified wine (that is, wine that has added alcohol, up to 22%) with an infusion of herbs and botanicals. Therefore, it's pretty much all of the above. The word stems from the German vermut - wormwood, because it was at one time one of the main components found in Vermouth, or "wormwood wein". Though of course the "puritans" some time in the 19th century or early 20th eventually got squirmy about the thujone (thought to be a blood thinner, and wildly rumored as an effective hallucinogen) levels found in wormwood, and the ingredient is rarely used anymore in its own namesake.

People have been infusing herbs in wine dating back to ancient times of Greeks and Romans, often as a cure for various ailments from aches and pains to digestion issues to sleep disorders and love potions. As empires grew, so did the availability of the ingredients and spices, and flavors became more sophisticated. These "aromatized" wines were considered an elegant accompaniment to feasts and celebrations.

Wormwood wine was especially prevalent in Northern Italy's Piedmont region in the Middle Ages when (hard to believe now in the land of Barolo and Barbaresco) the local wine needed some sprucing up to be drinkable. Several accounts credit Antonio Benedeto Carpano of Turin, Italy for coming up with what became the first official sweet (a.k.a. "red") recipe of Vermouth in 1786. Joseph Noilly of France is credited for the dry (a.k.a. "white") version in 1800.

The botanicals in Vya Vermouth
The rise of cocktail culture in the 20th century is what made its production and exportation essential. The very thought of a world without a Manhattan or Negroni... well, that should be reason to summon the "thought police".

More brands and recipes, most of them marketed as well-guarded secrets, emerged from various parts of Europe, especially Spain, Italy and France. But just as Vermouth no longer contains wormwood (or very much of it), it doesn't have to be European to be what it is. One of the great advantages of post modern cocktail making in the United States is that craft distillers and vintners realize they can make American versions of classic ingredients using local products. Vermouth is one of those exciting categories - with examples from Oregon, California and New York, to name a few. The cocktail culture is also seeing a renaissance of once classic brands that had fallen to near extinction during the Prohibition, but are now being imported again.

Making Atsby Vermouth
Yes, there is a difference, and it's not just red or white. There are subtleties and nuances to every producer's recipe, even within those of a certain country or region. Luckily, Vermouth is rarely expensive, so it's a good category to experiment with and run taste tests. In some cases one might find the right multi-tasking "tool" to do the job in several cocktails, while other bartenders and aficionados swear by different styles for different layers of flavor. And of course, there is no crime with drinking a good Vermouth chilled neat, on ice or a splash of soda water on a warm day.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Amanda Schuster is a native New Yorker, but without much of the accent. The mobile landscape of the city has taken her on a whirlwind journey from Medieval historian, photo archivist, jewelry designer and invitation specialist to earning her sommelier certification in late 2005. After working as a retail wine and spirits buyer and freelance brand promoter, she turned to the one thing that has stayed a constant all these years – her love of writing. She has published dozens of articles on cocktails, spirits, wine and other culinary interests, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favorite cocktail is a Manhattan.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Silverado Squatter Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Greenhook Ginsmiths Beach Plum Gin Liqueur has got me twisted up in circles. First, their gin component itself is so beguiling that I find myself tongue-tied trying to explain my passion for this potent elixir. First I must describe what this drink reminds me of and that would be the perfect summer weekend in Martha's Vineyard. There would be preserves, freshly stewed with cane sugar. Those tiny beach plums that burst from the ground for a scant time before the birds pluck them from the low bushes are sweet and tangy all at the same time. They are found on islands off New England along the New York and the New Jersey coastlines. Greenhook Ginsmiths have attempted and succeeded in making a very American Sloe Gin using the Beach Plum.

I love the expressive nature of the Beach Plum and get a whiff of something quite beguiling whenever I open my bottle. There is saline in there, plus the tangy aromatics and mouth-feel of the plum itself. This liqueur rolls in at 60 Proof, but it tastes like 80 Proof from the ever-present juniper nose and warming finish. This is a dry liqueur, in no way to be confused with sticky sweet cordials or flavored vodka. This is serious stuff worthy of your cocktail glass, enjoyed on the rocks and finished with a good splash of what I consider one of the best sparkling waters on the planet, the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral water in Pink Grapefruit essence. The combination of flavors in a simple glass of the Beach Plum liqueur and the grapefruit sparkling water are just charming when enjoyed in the hot sun.

The Greenhook Ginsmiths have succeeded where others have failed!

As you, my readers know, all is not so simple when mixing flavor-driven beverages. I'm bound to twist things up a bit. Shake up convention and make interesting flavor combinations. This changing of the norm sets me apart from my peers, many of whom have never worked behind the stick or washed dishes in a restaurant. I like to work with flavor and emotion. That is why I write!

The first time I made this cocktail the 17-year cicadas were just emerging from the ground. It was relatively quiet. Now, just a few weeks later cacophony of cicada calls evokes thunder throughout the forest. Their frantic calls bring scant hours of peace and quiet. They rule this place and only a good strong drink will bring a bit of peace to the environment once again.

The "Silverado Squatter" cocktail was named for the female cicadas that inhabit the deep woods surrounding my home. They don't have long to get what they want, a few short days perhaps, before they molt and crawl off to desiccate.

I think this drink will do the trick to making the sound level drop in my brain just a bit.

It's a simple little drink. Meant to be served in a short rocks glass with one large chunk of ice. In keeping with the theme of summer I've added a portion of grilled pineapple juice mixed with some fresh lime juice. Making this is as easy as buying a pineapple, cutting it into thick rounds, grilling them, letting them cool, then juicing. You mix a bit of the Beach Plum Liqueur and then a healthy portion of the clove-laced Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters from The Bitter Truth. This drink is so mesmeric.

You cannot forget it!

If you don't have a charcoal grill, you can sear the pineapple on a non-reactive pan until charred, let cool, and then muddle with the Greenhook Ginsmiths Beach Plum Liqueur. A bit of ice goes into a Boston shaker, then you shake it up to chill with a couple other ingredients, all seemingly delicious...

I pour the mixture over one large ice cube made from my Mavea "Inspired Water" pitcher (it freezes almost crystal clear) and serve this luscious concoction in a rocks glass.

The Bitter Truth Bitters go in at the end with a sprig of mint and a good splash of the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in Pink Grapefruit essence. I like to add a chunk of the grilled pineapple for color at the very end.

The Silverado Squatter Cocktail
(with sincere apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson for appropriating the name from the book by the same name)

Cocktail recipe serves two easily.

• 3 oz. Greenhook Ginsmiths Beach Plum Liqueur
• 3 oz. Grilled pineapple juice and a couple 1 inch chunks of grilled pineapple for muddling
• 1 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1 oz. Agave syrup
• 2-3 dashes Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
• 1 large ice cube made from filtered water in your Mavea "Inspired Water" pitcher
• Spearmint

1. Grill your pineapple and cool.
2. Juice a portion, enough for 3 oz. or so of the grilled pineapple and cut up the rest into 1 inch chunks.
3. Muddle a couple of the grilled pineapple chunks with a few leaves of spearmint in a Boston shaker.
4. Add the agave syrup.
5. Add the fresh lime juice.
6. Add the Greenhook Ginsmiths Beach Plum Liqueur.
7. Add a couple handfuls of bar ice to the shaker.
8. Shake like crazy for 15 seconds.
9. Strain over a single cube of Mavea filtered ice.
10. Finish with 1 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (Pink Grapefruit) and a couple dashes of the Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters.
11. Garnish with a nice mint sprig and a chunk of the grilled pineapple.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hungary Beyond Tokaji

By Amanda Schuster

Hungarian wine. It's always sweet, right?

Yes, most of the wines we know from Hungary are the Tokaji (pronounced "toke eye") dessert wines. But these days there's so much more good juice to be had from there. Stuff you'd be happy to sip with a steak dinner. And sure, things you'd want to drink after too.

Hungarian wine has an exciting, juicy history. It has ancient origins, dating back to at least the 5th century, when the Romans occupied the land then known as Pannonia. Since the Romans had already done the work setting up the vineyards, the violent tribes that moved in later had more time for conquering and pillaging. Wine ended up being an integral part of that too - the Huns, the Magyars, and other tribes who migrated into the country had a "Blood Treaty" ritual, dripping blood into wine and drinking it to seal pacts like the manly men they were. Sadly, the Mongols ruined all the fun in the 13th century, and their invasion laid waste to much of the cultivated land.

King Bela IV finally brought peace to Hungary, and made it a priority to rebuild the vineyards. He invited people from other countries to bring in vines, creating what would become a new, diverse wine culture. The towns Sopron and Eger became known for their high quality wines which were exported throughout Europe by the end of his rule in 1270, and Hungarian kings continued to emphasize wine production through various edicts. By the time of the 15th century rule of King Matthias Corvinus, Hungary had developed into a flourishing source of wines, and this is when Tokaji is first mentioned in written history.

Wine production again suffered for a time when Hungary was under Turkish rule into the 17th century, with strict Muslim law forbidding alcohol consumption. Only a few small districts were able to continue, but always looking over their collective shoulders. In the 1630s, the serendipitous discovery of the condition known as Botrytis cinerea, or "noble rot" happened, as legend tells it, when a vineyard was temporarily abandoned during the harvest for fear of Turkish invaders. When the vintner returned, he discovered the condition on the grapes, but pressed the wine anyway, with delicious results. By the end of the 17th century (and the end of Ottoman rule), the wine became such an international success that Hungarian Prince Rakoczi was compelled to classify the vineyard sites. Also under this "vine law", rules were established for vine training, irrigation techniques, and cultivation practices.

The Phylloxera crisis was another devastating blow to Hungary, as it was in much of the world. Many of the traditional grapes died, and once replanting efforts went into effect, many of these were forsaken for more trendy and easier to grow grapes such as Bordeaux varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc), Blaufrankisch (here called Kékfrankos) and Zweigelt for reds. White wines were mostly limited to the Tokaji varietals - Muscat, Furmint, and Hárslevelű. But these poor Hungarian vineyards couldn't seem to catch a break! Many were destroyed during the World Wars, and during the age of Communism, wine production became hasty and industrial at best. It wasn't until the late 1980s that producers once again turned to higher quality and working with traditional Hungarian varietals.

By far, the most famous wine from Hungary today is still Tokaji, which is its own region within Tokaji-Hegyalja in the northeast of the country. Tokaji Aszu, produced from the botrytised trifecta of white grapes mentioned above, is a prized sweet wine with intense richness and aromatics. These wines are labeled in degrees of sweetness and concentration measured in "puttonyos" from four to six. Some of the highest puttonyos Tokaji wines have been known to last decades. Essencia is the highest quality Tokaji, and the most expensive, produced from the precious viscous juice from dried grapes. It can only be produced in very small quantities.

Egri Bikavér is the red wine known as "Bull's Blood". It's is produced all over Hungary, though the best are considered to be from Eger, in the northeast. This is a blend of Hungarian traditional and European international grapes Kadarko, Kékfrankos, Blauburger, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zweigelt, Merlot, and sometimes Syrah and Pinot Noir. The name supposedly comes from the Turks, who considered the locals in Eger so repugnant that they must have the blood of bulls. The name obviously stuck proudly, with a robust wine beloved by generations.

Other traditional grapes found in Hungary are for whites Olasrizling (Welschriesling), Leankya, and the hybrids Irsay Olver, Zefir and Zenit, among many others. Besides the grapes found in Egri Bikavér mentioned above, the most widely planted red grape is Kékoporto (Portugeiser). Growing conditions are also perfect for high quality, balanced, yet affordable Pinot Noir.

There are now twenty-two official wine regions within Hungary, all of which are scattered around the country save for the land farthest east. Wines are produced in every style from dry whites and reds, rosés, sparkling, and sweet. Winemakers produce traditional styles alongside those who have embraced modern techniques, with organic and sustainable practices.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Amanda Schuster is a native New Yorker, but without much of the accent. The mobile landscape of the city has taken her on a whirlwind journey from Medieval historian, photo archivist, jewelry designer and invitation specialist to earning her sommelier certification in late 2005. After working as a retail wine and spirits buyer and freelance brand promoter, she turned to the one thing that has stayed a constant all these years – her love of writing. She has published dozens of articles on cocktails, spirits, wine and other culinary interests, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favorite cocktail is a Manhattan.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Vincent Price Affair

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Rum, rum everywhere and there are many, many drops to drink. This describes my liquor cabinet to a T. After the recent heat wave and now a pending flood from above, it made sense to me to create a cocktail that speaks to the season between spring and summer.

The basic premise of rum punches - a drink that harkens back to the very basis of cocktailian history in a glass (or a punch bowl) - creates real thirst in my mind. Of course if you are reading this piece in the morning, you may want to know how I'm so full of spark and pepper at 10:00AM. The reason is simple. A well-made punch offers enlightenment and boggles the mind with simplicity. Each small sip, be it at breakfast or lunch or even in the heat of the afternoon grounds your punch with all others that came to the table prior.

So I've been working with punch, not as a mere metaphor for drunkenness, (because anyone who knows me realizes that I don't like to get drunk) but I enjoy the visceral pleasure of making my drinks for others rather strong. It's up to you my friends to drink fewer of them. I've long held the belief that you should drink stronger and better, but drink in moderation. I think that responsible drinking is that razors edge between losing one's mind and having a good time.

As with all of my cocktails - they are specifically designed with flavor in mind. This drink is frothy and juicy. It has haunting elements that remind me of being down in the British Virgin Islands on my family yacht. Creating impossibly delicious concoctions using the best rum that money could buy. If you doubt this, take a trip down to Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke. You can easily get lost in the rows upon rows of rum. Or if you are part of the social set, find yourself in St. Barth and discover Rhum Agricole again for the first time. My favorite memory was on the island of Saba, long known to make very special spiced rums. Or was it the bottle of J. Bally offered to me poured into a frozen coconut and the additional scraping of nutmeg? Ah the memories flow from my brain along with the dreams of being in the islands.

The Vincent Price Affair Cocktail is a recreation of a sailing trip from Anegada to Virgin Gorda. You can spend hours of your day in paradise sailing across the water just like the pirates did centuries prior. All you need is the right cocktail clasped in your hand to cool your sweaty brow. This one starts off on your lips in a very perplexing manner. After a moment you realize that the cocktail is most delicious and beguiling. Immediately to follow, you come to the realization that this drink is just gorgeous as it slips down your throat, the Mavea "Inspired Water" ice that has been infused with The Bitter Truth Spiced Chocolate Bitters adding depth, with a healthy portion of Plantation Grand Reserve Barbados Rum. Then you add to this mixture a mere splash of Luxardo Marachino Liqueur enlivening the mix. Into your mixing glass you would now add a small dose of freshly squeezed (essential) lime, lemon and orange juices, along with sweet coconut milk. The drink is shaken briskly with regular bar ice (save the infused ice for the cocktail) and then finished with a couple splashes of the marvelously elegant (and very French) Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in Pink Grapefruit essence for a smack-across-your-lips punch of citrusy goodness. A scraping of fresh nutmeg makes this drink historic in nature. Will this heal the pain of being in paradise, sailing an impossibly fast yacht across the broad, rolling sea?

I must warn you. This is a veritable mind eraser. Be very careful if you are drinking this in the hot sun or your backyard pool.

The Vincent Price Affair

Pre-exercise… Freeze about 10-15 shakes of the The Bitter Truth Spiced Chocolate Bitters into a plastic tray filled with "Mavea- Inspired Water" (freezes nearly crystal clear). Freeze this overnight to ensure a firm cube. You can hand cut the cubes to your desired shapes.

Ingredients for 2 cocktails:

• 3 oz. Plantation Barbados Rum
• ½ oz. Luxardo Marachino Liqueur
• ¼ each, freshly squeezed orange, lime and lemon juices
• ½ Coconut Cream (sweetened)
• 1 oz. (in each drink) Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (Pink Grapefruit)
• Mavea "Inspired Water" The Bitter Truth Spiced Chocolate Bitters-infused ice
• Freshly scraped nutmeg

1. Add all liquid ingredients EXCEPT for the Mavea ice and the Perrier to a Boston Shaker with regular bar ice to chill.
2. Shake for 15 seconds.
3. Add one hand cut Chocolate Bitters-infused ice cube to each Collins glass.
4. Pour the punch over the bitters-infused ice.
5. Add about an ounce of the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water over the top.
6. Scrape some fresh nutmeg to finish.


Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Hēi Zhēnzhū Nǎichá Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Oh it's hot. That kind of heat that just takes your breath away. Your shirt sticks to your back and there is that burning sensation in your eyes as the sweat rolls down your brow.

This heat wave came on all of a sudden with a flourish, not a whimper.

Down in New Orleans they are long familiar with heat waves. They roll in over Lake Pontchartrain, soft winds that are brackish and stink of rotting vegetation. Down in Charleston they used to call this smell the pluff mud. It was unforgettable. In New Orleans this smell of heat, humidity and sweat sticks to the inside of your nose and envelops your entire body in a cocoon of utter wetness.

Unlike New Orleans or even Charleston for that matter, New York cocktails are not specifically designed by history, nor are they scientifically calibrated for their effectiveness against the ever-present heat and humidity. We plod along, sometimes creating drinks à la minute like they do at Milk & Honey in Manhattan - a veritable boîte of the moment. They are careful about asking you what you would like, rather than telling you what you should have. This may well be the most genteel lounge in town for this purpose.

But something is missing from the equation in this heat wave. It's not that I don't feel like drinking. I'm damned thirsty to say the least. I want something that has not been created yet, using ingredients that are vaguely from that grand Southern Lady, New Orleans, via the places known and unknown to the taste buds belonging to the casual drinker.

Bourbon fits into my equation because as an elixir against poor health, it seems to work really well with a sort of tea from Vietnam. This tea has tapioca pearls floating in it. Most people know that Vietnam is a sub-tropical country. I've never been there but I'm intrigued by the cuisine, especially the drink known as a bubble tea.

I've had bubble tea down in New Orleans, which is in many ways very similar in climate to the South of Vietnam. It is sultry, hot, hazy and very elegant as a framework to flavor that just seems to work in the heat wave.

St. George out in San Francisco nurtures an absinthe that has elements of basil woven into each sip. In many ways basil is an essential ingredient in Vietnamese cooking. St. George's expressive products, each made outside the rules of flavor and marketability consistently enthrall me. St. George doesn't make candy flavored vodka, nor do they make mass-market whiskies. Their absinthe is lush, corporeal and it speaks clearly of the hot weather slaking of your thirst.

I was not interested in just throwing some absinthe into a bubble tea and calling it a day. That's where the Knob Creek Bourbon comes in. The Knob Creek takes to the bubble tea like a julep cup encircles a portion of crushed ice, mint and sugar. Knob Creek stands up to the bubble tea and makes an honest drink from a kid's slurp. First of all, I washed out the cup with the St. George Absinthe. Then I added some ice, not just any ice mind you. I use the ice made from the Mavea "Inspired Water" filtration pitcher.  It comes out a crystal clear that is lovely set against the black colored tapioca pearls in this tall cocktail. I infused my ice with a large dose of the ultra-concentrated Bitter Truth Orange Bitters. You cannot see the bitters in the ice, but you know they are present because as the ice melts, the bitters infuse the cocktail making your drink more intense and… bitter!

These Vietnamese bubble-tea drinks are each specifically designed to make you feel cooler. This fascinates me. I utilized a lemon bubble tea along with the Knob Creek Bourbon and the St. George Absinthe wash. It's a seriously fun cocktail that can be enjoyed by most. As long as you're of legal drinking age that is!

Hei Zhenzhu Naichá is the literal translation of the type and size of black tapioca pearls that reside in this cocktail. It is a long drink, served in a tall cup. A go-cup, if you are familiar with New Orleans history, is perfect for this task. It is filled with a rinse of the St. George Absinthe, a portion of the crystal clear Mavea "Inspired Water" Bitter Truth Orange Bitters-infused ice, and then a portion of the brilliantly adaptable Knob Creek Bourbon. What follows is a large portion of the lemon bubble tea itself and plenty of the gorgeous tapioca "pearls" filling out your cup. A clear top with a large hole in it is on top along with an extra wide straw to suck these morsels into your mouth so you can chew on them for a while.

The art of chewing is very important. It teaches us to be relaxed and therefore cool when drinking this venerable cocktail.

Hēi Zhēnzhū Nǎichá is a gentle touch of the hat to my friend Forrest Cokley. He continues to inspire my drink prowess by teaching me to use a certain restraint and balance. Thank you.

Hēi Zhēnzhū Nǎichá

• ¼ oz. St. George Absinthe
• 2 oz. Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey
• 8 oz. Vietnamese Lemon Bubble Tea infused with fresh lemon zests with the addition of the larger sized Tapioca Pearls
• Ice made from Mavea filtered water, infused with about 20 shakes of The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
• Long lemon zests for garnish
• Large straw for sucking up those chewy pearls

1. Rinse the tall glass or 12 oz. go-cup with the St. George Absinthe, then pour into your mouth… no waste!
2. To a mixing glass, combine the Knob Creek with the Bubble tea and some of your infused ice, stir in the tapioca pearls and then continue to gently stir this drink to cool, so not to bruise their fragile forms.
3. Add a couple of The Bitter Truth Orange-infused ice cubes to the go-cup.
4. Pour the lemon bubble tea mixed with the Knob Creek Bourbon over the cubes in your St. George Absinthe-washed go-cup.
5. Garnish with some lemon zests for their color against the black of the tapioca pearls.

Suddenly you're really cool! In more ways than one!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.