Monday, September 29, 2014

Cocktail: L’Ami du Matelot

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Ah, fall has arrived this morning and with a flourish.  It’s not winter yet; far from- but there is a quickening in the air.  The breeze is blowing at least fifteen knots and there is freshness with the lack of humidity. 

If I were on a sailboat right now, it would be one of those rare days where the summer melts into the fall as something organic and unforced.  

Speaking of organic, I’m supping on a plate of silver dollar pancakes right now.  Cooked on a butter slicked cast iron skillet, doused in extra dark, handcrafted, Vermont maple syrup.  This is the kind of cooking that my body craves as the days become shorter and the nights colder.  I need something to fill my soul with nostalgia from my culinary past. 

First there are the cool then colder temperatures.  My palate calls out for flavors of the season.  Some of these tastes are for bourbon like my perennial favorite, Four Roses.  There is no need to spend too much with Four Roses.  They offer all different levels of excellence!  For this cocktail I propose using the Yellow Label version because there are other liquors in the drink.  If I was only using bourbon without the next ingredient, I’d use their superlative Small Batch, but with it the Yellow Label will suffice and your pocket should be a bit happier. 

The ingredient that goes in next is named Snap.  Snap is an 80 Proof liqueur crafted by Art in the Age, the Philadelphia based collective of neo-Agrarian artists and postulators.  Snap is based on the Amish Lebkuchen or ginger snap cookie.  It is potent, memorable and quite delicious, especially when combined with the assertively flavor-driven, Four Roses Bourbon. 

The next ingredient is the ice.  Handcrafted ice is so very important in this cocktail and I raise the specter to a higher level by smoking it first.  What? Smoked ice?  How is that possible?

My forthcoming second book Whiskey Cocktails has a recipe for oak smoked ice that I’d like to share with you. 

1.    Take a fireproof dish and fill ¼ with oak wood shavings
2.    Light the shavings on fire, adding more as needed
3.    Capture the sweet smoke in an overturned Boston Shaker
4.    Add ice immediately to the shaker thereby “smoking” the ice
5.    Mix your cocktail as usual
6.    I used a bit of maple syrup in the water that was frozen, thus making the ice “maple syrup-oak” smoked ice!

That’s really it!  What you will have is smoked ice! Keep cool in the freezer or use straight away…

The reason why you would want smoked ice is my personal desire to add flavor deeply into a cocktail.  Balance is ever so important- along with simplicity.  I know there are quite a few steps and that’s ok to think that.  But at the end of the day even the simplest drinks require quite a few steps. 

I like to ratchet drinks up several notches in flavor by freezing earthy and sensuous maple syrup into the ice.  Then I go further by adding a subtle hint of maple wood smoke.  And to deepen the flavor even more, I can mix a bit of Balsamic vinegar into brown liquor cocktails.  This gives a mysterious edge to the usual flavors of fine brown liquor to ginger snap.

It’s really up to you and your creativity!

L’Ami du Matelot
Serves two rather comfortably for fall

Ingredients:
2 oz. Four Roses Yellow Label
1 oz. Snap (Art in the Age)
1 oz. Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 cups Maple Smoked Ice – ¼ cup maple syrup to 3 cups Mountain Valley Spring Water- freeze overnight (essential)
2-4 shakes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
2 oz. Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
2 sprigs of spearmint

Preparation:
Freeze a few ice cube trays with Mountain Valley Spring (flat water, not the fizzy one)

Into a fireproof tray, add some maple shavings
Light on fire and add more shavings as necessary
Capture the smoke in your inverted Boston Shaker

Add the maple ice to the Boston Shaker filled with maple smoke

Add the Four Roses Bourbon
Add the Snap
Add the Balsamic Vinegar
Cap and shake hard for 10-15 seconds

Pour into two rocks glasses with 1 cube of maple syrup ice in each
Add 1 oz. of Mountain Valley Sparkling water into each glass
Dot with the Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Garnish with a sprig of Spearmint
Serve!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wines that Take You On a Little Vacation

By Liza B. Zimmerman


If you can’t get away this season, there are a handful of drinks that can help you feel as if you did. My family has always been a fan of dark rum, the older the better! Barbancourt has long been a favorite of my parents, and rhum agricole has also become a personal favorite of mine. On the beach in California I have also learned to love simple gin and tonics as well as a well-made Margarita or great Tequila straight up (or with a lot of lime in a drink).

However there are many wines that can make you feel miles away from home. Whatever you choose will depend on how your ideal vacation might unfold.

If You Love Classic European Destinations
We could all fight over Merlot- versus Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends when discussing Bordeaux, but let’s face it: they are all pretty divine. The better ones make you feel like you are walking on that rocky, sometimes wind-blown piece of land that has long been the mother territory for all wine production down through the centuries.

I tend to love the softer, Right-Bank Bordeaux wines that are made with more Merlot. Wines such as Château Tour Caillet and Virecourt Pillebourse represent these types of blends that give the drinker that soft, sensual feel that can transport you miles away.

Tuscany is another iconic wine destination, where the wines—at their best—can transport you to another time and place. Many of the region’s noted Chiantis can come with higher price tags, but Morellino di Scansano is a local gem and Tuscan-relative that comes at a great price point. The town also features a great sagra—Italian for food and wine festival—annually where guests can taste lots of local wines paired with great grilled meats and other homemade dishes.

To Approximate that Beach Vacation
A little cachaça or a well-made Margarita is always a good way to segue to a relaxing afternoon. If you don’t have the right at-home mixologist at hand—my dad is still so on his game at making cocktails at the age of 87—there are some wines that can recreate that same feeling.

Sparkling wine is eternally festive. You can bring out the big guns with Champagne for special occasions, but Prosecco and French sparkling (particularly from Alsace) can also fit the bill.

Those big, sometimes sweet red bubbles can also fit the bill in winter. The Aussie versions tend to be a little sweeter than Lambruscos. The Italian versions, such as the classic Lini, also generally have higher acidity levels and are more food friendly.

Experience a New Grape
Whether the varietal in question is the local Chilean Carménère, or something lean, clean and mean from Austria, taking a risk in a new wine experience is likely to be a refreshing experience.

The best-case scenario would be to take inspiration for a wine you love, if it’s California Pinot Noir, try one from Oregon or Burgundy. If you adore blends from France, try one from California or see how some of those classic international varietals are fairing in Italy (with or without a touch of Sangiovese).

Or you can even try completely new territory for blends, such as the amazing—and often Syrah- or Pinotage-based—wines that South Africans are producing. Rupert & Rothschild has long been a favorite of mine for its French style produced in New World territory. I also adore Vergelegen, which is much harder to pronounce that it is to drink.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza 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, September 22, 2014

L’Invention Mexicain Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

This morning was unusually chilly for late summer.  The thermometer dipped into the forties and I needed fortification against the morning chill.  But have no fear, the temperature is going to rise and soon, so I need to concoct something that brings warmth to my belly and cooling for my brow. 

Tea is slowly becoming something just a bit more than a mere metaphor against the morning chill.  You might be more familiar with tea as a part of an afternoon soiree with those little sandwiches with their crusts cut off?

If so, this drink is certainly for you.  Not because of the tea sandwiches, but because of the utterly delicious nature of the intoxicating products themselves.

And if you know me, I like my drinks to be intoxicating!

Owl’s Brew is something that I believe deserves your notice.  This unique, hand crafted cocktail ingredient brings new depth to my already succinct concoctions.  It makes the hunt for balance and clarity easy.  Sure you could brew your own pot of tea, let it cool and then add a wide range of ingredients from agave to chai tea spices to pineapple to, well- whatever your heart desires.  Let’s just say that Owl’s Brew makes my life easier. 

I really shouldn’t be giving up all my secrets, but Owl’s Brew will make your cocktails (and mocktails) taste better!

Then of course we have the intoxicating elements.  The first would be Tequila from Casa Noble.  The more I taste Tequila, the more I realize that passion should be printed on the front label of Casa Noble.  The Reposado version is my choice for the tea cocktail that I’m working on today.  I mix Casa Noble Reposado with Owl’s Brew Coco-Lada.  Coco-Lada is a unique combination of black tea, coconut pieces, chai spices, pineapple juice & agave.  It’s got the finest tequila written all over each ebullient drop.  Because I love the components of Owl’s brew so much, I thought why not mix it with Casa Noble Reposado?   Why not indeed!

Sometimes when working with exotic flavors such as tequila and tea, it’s required to add another depth of herbs and spices.  For this I’ve taken great care in selecting Carpano Antica.  Not the usual version, stained red from wine and time but a new version of Carpano.  This one is crystal clear, but it is not cloying or in any way cheap tasting like most fortified wines can find themselves.  Carpano Bianco is lighter somehow- but not just the color.  I invite you to taste it in a Martini (made with gin of course, what other kind is there?) or in an aperitif, on the rocks with a splash of soda water and a lemon zest.  But I digress, Carpano Antica Bianco is the perfect foil against the haunting elements of the Casa Noble Tequila and of course the tropical tastes of tea, coconut, chai and pineapple.

What?

Yes pineapple.  Think tropical because it will be winter soon and this fine weather we’re having will give way to hot toddies and the like.

In every hand crafted drink that comes from my brain I try to offer some kind of balance.  For this we require a bitter element.  In this case I’ve chosen the Ramazzotti Bitter. (The digestive part that is…) 

Why is this important?  It’s important because this drink vaguely resembles a Gary Regan Finger Stirred Negroni! 

Made by none other than the amazing Gary Regan himself!!!

Of course the ingredients in his Negroni (finger stirred by the master of course) are gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth… and mine are Casa Noble Tequila, Carpano Antica Bianco Vermouth and Ramazzotti Amaro- but you can see my direction here.  3 parts, 1 ounce each, just like Gary Regan’s?  

No? 

Ah.. I’ve forgotten the bitter element.  For that may I suggest the Bitter Truth Spiced Chocolate Bitters?

Just try it.  It just works.   That’s why they call me the cocktail whisperer… still don’t believe me? 
Ok, I got it. 

Right now I’m still drinking tall  (or long) drinks.  It’s not fall yet and the clock is not pushed back.

That day, my friend is the saddest time of the year!  But please don’t despair, all is not lost, we have plenty to drink!

Let’s start right here with the Owl’s Brew.  Quite simply the best tea based cocktail mixer on the market.  You could say that I’m a HUGE fan.  Seek it out.


L’Invention Mexicain

Ingredients:
1 oz. Owl’s Brew Coco-Lada
1 oz. Casa Noble Reposado Tequila
1 oz. Carpano Bianco Vermouth
1 oz. Ramazzotti Amaro
2-3 shakes Spiced Chocolate Bitters (Bitter Truth)

Preparation:
To a cocktail mixing glass, fill ¾ with ice
Add the Owl’s Brew Coco-Lada
Add the liquors
Mix at least thirty times with a long cocktail stirrer
Strain with a Hawthorne Strainer into an Old Fashioned glass with one cube of 2x2 ice
Dot with the Spiced Chocolate Bitters

Serve and prepare another one immediately, just like the other one.  You keep holding on to it, and I sure would like a hit. 

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Story Behind the Brand: Industry City Distillery Technical Reserve Vodka

By Catherine L Luke


Industry City Distillery is nestled toward the end of a row of warehouses in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  I visited David Kyrejko and Zachary Bruner, the brains and brawn of the company at their sixth-floor space last week.  A cute and helpful third business partner, Scratchy the cat, roams the grounds.  The distillery has a beautiful view of the water.  It’s housed in a large, light space full of books, plants, a workshop, tasting room, and distilling area.  All around are beakers, tubes, and other equipment reminiscent of a laboratory.  Quite different-looking from your typical distillery.   It isn’t only appearance that separates Industry City Distillery from other spirit producers.  These guys use a glass fractionating still that puts the company in a category all its own.

Industry City Distillery has very recently released a trailblazing second vodka called Technical Reserve.  Technical Reserve is not only new for the distillery, it’s a completely unique product to the market.  Distilled solely from sugar, it’s not a grain alcohol.  Its proof is 191.2.  This is an amazing thing as it’s the highest proof alcohol currently made in America.  Dave took a moment to fill me in a bit on this passion project that the duo has been working on.

Dave, you and Zach have created the highest proof alcohol in the world.  And it’s delicious! 
What’s kind of cool about this is that it’s not only the highest proof alcohol in America, it’s physically the highest proof alcohol possibly made.  If it were higher we’d be breaking the laws of physics or using some pretty nasty chemicals.

Was a high proof your goal in the beginning?
The purpose of this was very specific.  We wanted a product that would allow people to be creative.  There’s a lot of people interested in making bitters, tinctures, even people interested in making their own limoncello.  In the example of limoncello, why would you buy $60 worth of gorgeous lemons and pour Everclear over them?  We all know how that winds up.  So what we wanted to do was take advantage of all the technology we’ve been working on over the past couple years.  We have some very weird equipment.  Specifically, we use a glass fractionating still that lets us easily distill at this high proof.  Alcohol at this proof lets you make a great limoncello in hours rather than weeks.

How do you see this being used in cocktails and such?
It was made for people to get creative with.  Typically, when you’re talking about making infusions, you’re talking about weeks.  This is hours.  It’s going to hopefully change a lot of the ways that people use cocktails.  To put this in perspective, vodka is actually 60% water.  What if you could replace that 60% with anything?  There’s the alcohol content.  Now you can replace it with rose water, you can replace it with seltzer, you can replace it with fruit juice, or tonics.  Now you basically have vodka tonic that is vodka strength.  It lets people be very innovative.

What inspired you to go in this less traditional direction of distillation?
I like to think that we’ve learned a lot in the past two-thousand years.  If you treat liquor as  a combination of both art and science, the art of it is the flavor, the texture, the taste, and the smell.  The science of it is “how did that happen?”.  So, if you take a look at how scientists and engineers work with chemical problems, you start to have better insight into how all that works.  In the case of Technical Reserve, it’s not that we wanted to make the highest proof alcohol in America, it just that it happens to be that way.  What we do is distill to the azeotrope of ethanol, or the physical limit of the distillation of ethanol at atmospheric pressure.  The reason being that we wanted to make an entirely neutral product.  If you try Everclear or Devil’s Spring or something like that, you notice they all have a very distinctive sort of  rubbing alcohol taste and smell.  That’s a chemical called isopropanol.  By distilling to and only bottling the azeotrope we can’t have any of that present in Technical Reserve.  All you taste is clean ethanol.  That was the idea, and that’s why it’s 191.2 proof.

The bottle design is neat- appealing, compact, educational, and, I must say, pretty adorable.
We wanted to make it very technical, so we have things on here like the density of Technical Reserve.  You can pour a measure of a liquid and, depending on the temperature and day, the volume will actually change.  If you know the density you can use a scale to make super precise measurements regardless of the temperature.  Nerdy, sure- useful, absolutely!

How many distillations does Technical Reserve go through?
This is a cool thing.  It only goes through one because of the fractional process.  The still doesn’t look any like the other still.  There’s no copper boiler, there are no windows or anything like that. There’s just this very technically advanced material inside.  It’s filled with stainless steel bits called packing.  It’s very specific in shape, size, and the way it works.  What this does is it lets us take the distillation “power” of a 45-60 feet tall copper-plated still and make it 5 feet tall.  If you consider that flavors are just chemicals- the better you can separate the chemicals, the better control you have.  This gives us ridiculous control.  We’re able to make a product that is either super flavorful like Industry Standard Vodka, or absolutely devoid of all flavor like Technical Reserve. 

All are welcome to check out the facility in person.  Tours run every Saturday at 3pm.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Catherine lives in Brooklyn, and has worked in the wine industry in Napa Valley and NYC. She is certified by the WSET, as well as the school of "wine in real life".  Understanding the patchwork of little-known Italian regional wines, dishes, and customs excites her most of all. She (sometimes) muses on her blog GrapesofCath.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wines to Celebrate Harvest

By Liza B. Zimmerman

September is a beautiful month in California, and generally all over the Northern Hemisphere, of the wine world. It is when the bulk of the wine producers are in harvest—give or take a couple of weeks—and truckloads of grapes are rolling into wineries and clogging local roads.

A handful of fantastic, Northern California wineries have local harvest lunches, focused on the last batches of tomatoes, fall squash and locally farmed meat. Two of my favorites include Jordan and Schlumberger, both of which are in Sonoma. If you wanted to recreate them at home, on your porch, couch or in the backyard here are a few ideas to help you celebrate the fall harvest season wherever you live.

Look for New Grapes
Every season brings a new blend and flavors to the bottle. That means that some of your classic Bordeaux or Rhône blend houses—such as Cotes du Rhône—might change up their style year to year. It might also be time to seek out new grape varietals from brands you already love. One of the most esoteric mixes is often the big House White from Bonny Doon on the Central Coast; the current vintage contains some Viognier, Marsanne and Malvasia Bianca.

Your explorations might take you into new territory: such as the classic white blends made in the far Southeastern area of Italy. Apulia, often called the heel of the boot, is home to some classic, and seafood-friendly wines that often include local grapes such as Greco and Malvasia. The beauty of many of these wines is that they are also incredibly food synergized, because they tend to have low alcohol levels and good acidity.

Let Spice Enliven the Fall Season
Tempranillo, which originally hails from Spain and Portugal, has long been a sexy grape with a spicy aftertaste. The grape is as fun to say, as it is to drink, and makes rosés as appealing as reds: particularly from regions such as La Mancha and Navarra. The grape is also the core of classic winemaking in the Rioja region.

Malbec is another dynamic grape, which brings pepper and fun to the table, wether it comes from the Old or New World. Southwestern French Cahors are divine in cooler weather and with big meats, such as Duck Confit. In addition to that, well-balanced Argentine Malbecs are delicious in any season and even slightly chilled as the evening gets cooler. Rutini’s Trumpeter is lovely, as is Bodegas Renacer’s “Punto Final.” Also don’t over look the Beaujolais Crus, as the Southern region of Burgundy presents great value and often very consistent product. Côte du Brouilly is a particularly good micro-region with lots of great choices.

Cleanse Your Palate for the Season Ahead
The gentle fall weather, if you live back East, or the summertime heat in the Bay Area is a great time to enjoy some of the last bright and acidic wines of the season. Sparkling wines from California, the Loire Valley and the rest of the world are great this time of year. So are Sauvignon Blancs from dozens of countries.

Some of the best and least-well known Sauvignon Blancs come from South Africa. Chile remains remarkable for its affordability with brands like Casa Lapostolle, which really reflect the bright acidity of the land where they are made. Errazuriz is also a great Chilean producer.

Don’t hesitate to sample sauvignon Blancs and other refreshing whites throughout the fall, as we are all likely to be headed back to bigger reds and festive sparkling wines in the winter.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza 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, September 11, 2014

Journey to the Center of the Earth (a trip for two)

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer


Icelandic craft distilled spirits like Reyka are famous for more than just their provenance.  They are famous because of the quality of the water. 

Is the water from Iceland alcoholic? 

Nope, I’m sorry to tell you that it isn’t.  But it certainly is pure.  And unpolluted water is everything when blending the highest quality spirits. 

The water from Iceland is perhaps the softest in the world because of the utter clarity of the ecosystem.   The water for Reyka vodka is drawn from a 4000-year-old volcanic rock “field” that is, according to researchers, uncontaminated by the environmental ills of mankind.

Reyka (Ray-kuh) is an ancient Icelandic word for steam or smoke.   This would make perfect sense because Iceland is a country filled with volcanoes and smoke.  I’ve never been to Iceland, but in college I had a down comforter from Iceland.  The down was gathered from puffins.  You know, that impossibly cute bird that lives in subzero temperatures without any complaints?  The same.  But what does a down comforter in college have to do with vodka from Iceland?

It means absolutely nothing at all. 

But I suppose the correlation is more of the quality of the products that I’ve seen coming out of this country. They tend to be of the highest eminence.  They are the very best items that money can buy. 

The same holds true to fact about their spirits.  Reyka is one of the best vodkas I’ve ever passed through my lips.  It is produced on a pot still in very small batches.  There is a gorgeous sweetness that follows each drop, one of caramel and then another of sweet corn still glistening in the morning sunlight. 

It’s bursting with flavors and I want to drink more.

Reyka is bottled in a handsome light blue tinted bottle with a long neck (easy to grab in your hand) with a real cork, instead of synthetic cork.  It’s bottled at 80 Proof, 40% ALC/VOL but you’d never think that this vodka could be so smooth at this proof level. 

The label reads something in Icelandic and we are also told that the vodka is a “Small Batch Vodka, Hand Crafted in Iceland.  In smaller writing it goes on to read Traditionally Distilled & Filtered through Ancient Artic Lava Rocks.  Lava rocks?  Ah, that would make sense.  Most of Iceland was formed from the eruption of volcanoes.  Pure water is filtered through layer upon layer of the finest filter known to distillers.  This makes the water from distillation sing with Terroir.  I’ve tasted Icelandic water at the Fancy Food Show and can attest to its softness across the palate. 

Reyka is distilled from grain and they carefully prepare each batch to emulate the exuberance that the head distiller feels.  This is translated into each batch. 

I don’t usually find myself drinking vodka.  It just doesn’t do it for me on a flavor profile, but I am impressed by Reyka Vodka.  It’s the anti-Vodka.  There is flavor in there as deep as the depths of the volcanoes in Iceland.  This vodka is the voyage to the center of the earth of Vodka. 

Didn’t that take place in Iceland? 

This week’s cocktail is derived from Voyage to the Center of the Earth. 

In fact it is named just that. 

I’ve included that masterfully prepared Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup to be combined with Reyka Vodka and a nice dose of Arkansas’s own Mountain Valley Spring (pure sparkling) water- because I think this combination of sweet to crisp is the perfect foil against this gorgeous Icelandic vodka. 

Bitter Truth makes Creole Bitters that bring this very international cocktail back down to the Caribbean Sea through the luscious Creole Bitters.  Tinted the color red- of a late summer sunset.  These bitters complement the Reyka Vodka, the Mountain Valley sparkling water, the Fruitations Tangerine Syrup and your own favorite glass. 

Journey to the Center of the Earth (a trip for two)
Ingredients:
2 oz. Reyka Vodka
1 oz. Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup
4 oz. Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
Lemon zest
Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Preparation:
To a Boston Shaker, fill ¾ with ice
Chill two coupe glasses with ice and water
Pour out just before service…
Add the Reyka Vodka to the Fruitations Tangerine Syrup
Cover and Shake hard for 10-20 seconds
Strain into coupe glasses and top with the Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
Drip 4-5 drops of the Bitter Truth Creole Bitters over
Garnish with a lemon zest

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sake Pairings

By Liza B. Zimmerman

As much as I adore Japanese food, I have continually struggled with how to pair sake with it and think that many of the light beers often served with it don’t do it justice. Sake production involves the washing and steaming of rice and the introduction of yeast for fermentation. The type of rice and water used in its production process are hugely important to the quality of the finished product.

Sake production is said to date to the 3rd Century AD in Japan. Flavor profiles and styles are incredibly broad and include everything from incredibly dry styles to unfiltered versions, generally referred to as “cloudy”—which I enjoy after dinner—which tend to run somewhat sweet. There are even sparkling sakes, which are a great way to start off a meal and pair well with so many foods. The more the rice is milled, or “polished,” prior to being used the better the sake quality is considered to be. The multiple categories of Junmai sakes are made from rice that is milled to 50 to 70 percent of its former size.

I reached out to general manager Nicolas Fanucci—who worked at Thomas Keller’s renowned French Laundry in Napa—of Daruma-Ya in New York City to clarify some of the ways this ancient drink can be paired with food. Fanucci offered suggestions that range from straight-up sake pairings to how to mix it up in food-friendly cocktails.

Cocktail Takes
Daruma-Ya offers a handful of sake-based cocktails and enough regular sakes, served by the glass and the bottle, to overwhelm most diners. “Our sake cocktails can pair well with certain foods like uni and tempura. But the general rule is to pair sake with lighter, refreshing dishes,” notes Fanucci.

Choosing a sake component for cocktails can be a balancing act. “It really depends on the cocktail,” he notes. “For example, a Saketini will require a lighter, brighter sake but a Cosmo with sake will need something warmer and richer because of the fruit component in the drink.” When I dined at Daruma-Ya about a month ago I appreciated that the sake cocktails I tried weren’t too fruity, multi-colored or over the top in terms of sugar levels.

Having lived in San Francisco for close to a decade, I am all too familiar with the use of sake—and other lower-proof spirits—in faux sugar-heavy cocktails. Thankfully restaurants in New York tend to have full spirits lists and don’t have to try to approximate classic tipples without the appropriate ingredients.

Pairing Pointers
The classic rule of pairing wine with food that its equal—in terms of structure, weight and body—or its opposite in terms of style also works for sake. According to Fanucci, “You can choose a sake that has the same fruitiness or similar flavor profile of the food. Or, for a contrasting pairing, you can choose the opposite such as dry sake for sweet dish.”

Thankfully the whole concept of off-dry wines interfacing with sweet flavors works beautifully with sake as well. Austere dishes deserve serious, and dry, sake pairings. Fanucci also encourages guests to change up their pairings during a meal, but he recommends, “Starting with a lighter and easy-to-drink one and progressing to a stronger, richer, even cloudier sake with a more pronounced flavor. And some sake should be drunk with food rather than on their own.”

Cloudy sake is richer, Fanucci admits, but he said he can also pair well with many savory foods. His suggestions included “meat, heavier seafood, and some soba like the duck soba.”

The Japanese aren’t famous for their dessert repertoire and often I prefer to end a great Japanese meal with soba, buckwheat noodles that are often served cold. However he notes that, “We do have flavored sake that are designed to be served with sweets. So yes, you can certainly pair a dessert with sake.” Flavors like raspberry would pair well with some typical Japanese gelatin desserts or some flavors of mocha ice cream. Kampai—or cheers—enjoy those sakes!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza 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.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Waldseemüller’s Gin and Tonic

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I’m a huge fan of Bluecoat Gin.  This is truly marvelous stuff as it stands handsomely on my bar.  Bluecoat speaks in a language of elegance and class.  The bottle, reminiscent of the other Philadelphia Distilling Company product named Vieux Carre, is striking to hold and to look at.  The bottle appears to be of the highest quality glass, laser etched in a fleur de lys pattern, then dyed of a deep cerulean blue in color.  When this bottle is lit from below, sitting on the shelf at your bar, it’s truly striking. 

Add to that the fact that Bluecoat is from Philadelphia, so it’s a local product to me, and that gets my attention.  I love Bluecoat for the citrus elements of each taste.  Bluecoat is known to make an excellent gin and tonic for those who like to keep things simple.

I too like to keep things simple, but Bluecoat lends itself well to my creative impulses because the flavors encapsulated are anything but wimpy! 

The last gasp of summer is when my palate kicks in for the cooler nights coming down the road.  But today is going to be anything but cool.  Under these stressful circumstances of paring hazy with hot and humid all that I can think about are citrus juices.  There is nothing quite as delicious as a little something that I call grilled grapefruit juice. 

Typically when I’m thirsty in the throes of this kind of weather I’ll reach for a cold beer.  But I’ve taken a different tack with a glistening new bottle of Bluecoat Gin at the ready.   I also like to switch things up a bit by using ingredients that are familiar in a new, unfamiliar manner.  For this we have Punt e Mes Vermouth. 

Punt e Mes features  in to  my  thirst in the cooler months,  although  it does contribute to a pretty darn good Negroni, usually finger stirred if you really want to know.  I think the citrus and spice elements of this Italian Vermouth, say elegance to me.  The scene when I first discovered Vermouth was in Europe.  My parents were passionate world travelers and they loved to take my sister and myself to far off places.  One of these trips was to Italy.  I was about fourteen and in our household; wine was always on the table.  If not wine then something else.  I truly believe this open policy towards alcohol permitted me an upbringing of flavor, as opposed to quantity.  Not only did my parents drink much fine wine but also they encouraged me to taste it.  This lesson from a very early age honed my tasting agility because it was always the very best that was available. 

My father used to enjoy “Sweet Vermouth on the rocks with a twist” before dinner on our trips to Europe.  He said that Vermouth stimulated his appetite and it gave me a bit of relaxation as well.  My mom preferred hers straight up for dessert with a Cuban cigar at the ready.  I liked mine with soda water and a straw.  It was well watered down, but the flavor sticks with me today.  I never drank soda growing up; it just wasn’t something we had in the house.  But soda water from an old fashioned bottle did make its way into my memory.  And when it is mixed with the sweet/tangy flavors of Vermouth, well, it’s a memory I’ll never shake from my imagination. 

There is a casual elegance about Sweet Vermouth that sticks around in your taste buds.  I also love to cook with it, finishing a sauce like a gastrique is always lovely when this forgotten culinary ingredient makes its way into your memory. 

So why not combine a fruit juice with the gin and the vermouth?  Something like pink grapefruit, cut by ½ and set onto a charcoal grill perhaps?  Grilled grapefruit juice is one of my great favorites and it goes so beautifully with gin and yes, even Sweet Vermouth like Punt e Mes!

So what we have here is a combination of flavors.  First the citrus tang of the Bluecoat gin, tempered by some really great tonic water from Q-Drinks.  I’d add a splash of the grilled grapefruit juice, drip some Bitter Truth Creole Bitters over the top and finally float a mere tablespoon of Punt e Mes Sweet Vermouth over the top. 

Really the only three things that separate this cocktail whisperer version of the classic gin and tonic are the bitters, the grilled grapefruit juice and of course the Punt e Mes Vermouth.  And yes, the tonic water.. So that makes four.. And you have been using the wrong ice and probably the wrong glass as well, so that makes six. 

I’d like you to take a Collins Glass and pack it full of ice and water.  Let it sit for a few minutes to chill down well.  Then pour out the ice and water.   Add a couple hand cut cubes of ice.  One or two will be perfect.  Now, you should add a portion of the Bluecoat Gin,  top with some grilled grapefruit juice.  Add the tonic water (Q-Tonic) and drip a couple drops of the Creole Bitters over the top.

Finish with a tablespoon of Punt e Mes and garnish with an orange pinwheel.  Yum city!

Waldseemüller’s Gin and Tonic
(Waldseemüller was a German cartographer in the 1500’s)
Ingredients:
2 oz. Bluecoat Gin
½ oz. Punt e Mes Sweet Vermouth
2 oz. Grilled Grapefruit juice
2 oz. Q-Tonic Water
3-4 drops Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Preparation:
Chill your Collins glass with regular bar ice and water- discard when icy cold
Fill a Collins glass ¾ with hand cut ice
Add the Bluecoat Gin
Add the Grilled Grapefruit Juice
Top with the Q-Tonic Water
Add a barspoon of Punt e Mes Vermouth
Drip a few drops of the Creole Bitters to finish.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com 

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Askew Manhattan

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I’ve been a fan of Four Roses Bourbon for several decades now.  It goes to show you when something hits your taste buds just right; you want to seek it out.  Go no further than DrinkupNY where they have the object of my desire.  The Small Batch Bourbon from Four Roses is what I crave.  It wasn’t always that way, though.  I thought the Yellow Label was the go/to for my mint juleps and that would be correct because for many years that was the only Four Roses Bourbon that was available!

Last September I saw it in Italy.  This says something about the quality of the ingredients to me.  It also said American Bourbon.  This is something that you cannot make anyplace but our country.  There are times that you’re in a foreign land and you just crave something from home.  Four Roses Bourbon says that to me and it’s indispensible for this reason.  I’ve enjoyed mere sips of it and found myself transported to the place that says to me, sweet water that bubbles up from the ground. 

The Small Batch is such a product. 

Imagine for a moment that you have a craving for a Manhattan Cocktail.  This is traditionally one of my favorites.  The tannic bourbon, enrobed in a splash or two of sweet vermouth, a cherry- often times made at home and a few hits of bitters to finish.  This is the drink that made me love Four Roses.  It’s just so simple and easy to do.  But please think outside the traditions for this take on the Manhattan.  You’ve gone to the fridge and there are no cherries steeping!  But there are dried apricots in the panty and they call out to you, “soak me in Four Roses Bourbon!” 

So you do.  Opening the package, the sensual aromatics from the apricots fill the room.  You take about a cup of the dried marvels and add them to two cups of Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon. (Yes, you treat yourself nicely!)

Let them steep for a day or more.  If you start them in the morning, they’ll certainly be ready by the evening. 

The Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon will form the base for this take on the Manhattan.  It is perfectly geared to quality drinks like the Manhattan.  Your friends might not understand the sophistication and quality of Four Roses, but you can tell them by letting them taste your concoctions.

Suddenly, if by magic- you discovered that your bottle of Carpano Antica is empty!  DrinkupNY can also help you in this regard. May I suggest trying the new Bianco version of the classic? The Carpano Bianco Sweet Vermouth is every bit as sumptuous as the traditional red Carpano, yet the color is perfectly clear, making your drinks just look slightly lighter.  And because Carpano goes gorgeously with Four Roses, you won’t have to skimp on a less expensive vermouth to get the very best flavors injected deeply into this drink.  

Ok, so you have the Four Roses Small Batch- steeped apricots, the Small Batch Bourbon for the Manhattan, and the Carpano Antica Bianco. 

What should go in next?

I’m just crazy for the Bitter Truth Spiced Chocolate Bitters and this time seems to be the perfect moment for this rich and densely dark, bitter flavor that needs to be in your cocktail glass, even with just seltzer, it’s got all the stuffing that you demand. 

Right now!

I mean, what is a Manhattan (even a twisted take on a Manhattan) without the bitters? 

Well, I’ll leave that conversation to a more polite time, this drink needs to be made and more importantly, drunk.  One after another would be perfect for me. 

To make this drink you do need patience.  The apricots cannot be hurried up.  They need to soak up the precious liquor and make it part of themselves. 

The glassware is important too.  I suggest using a well-washed glass that belonged to your grandfather.  He used it for years and you should too.  It’s one of those things that connect you to the venerable history of this cocktail. 

Fill the glass with ice and water- let it sit to become frosty and cold.  Pour out the ice and water just before using it. 

In a cocktail mixing glass, fill 1/3 with ice
Add the Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey
Stir to chill 3-4 times (this is not a race!)
Add the Carpano Bianco
Stir another 3-4 times
Pour into your pre-chilled glass
Add the plump, Four Roses Small Batch infused apricot to the glass
Dot with the Spiced Chocolate Bitters from the Bitter Truth
Start another one, just like the other one.. 

Cheers!

An Askew Manhattan
Ingredients
3 oz. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
1 oz. Carpano Antica Bianco Sweet Vermouth
2-3 dashes Bitter Truth Spiced Chocolate Bitters
1-2 Four Roses Small Batch Steeped Apricots

Preparation:
Add the ingredients, except for the Bitters and the Apricots to a mixing glass filled 1/3 with ice

Stir until chilled (gently!)

Pour through a Hawthorne Strainer into a pre-chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a few marinated apricots and dot with the bitters….

Serve!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com