Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cocktail Picnic with Mouth Indie Foods!


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Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Picnic Time!
I love picnics.  Delicious afternoons spent in the park with friends, laying in grass, nibbling on cheese and crackers, and of course, sipping on a cold libation.  There is nothing better.

But, if you're anything like me, you work hard all week, leaving little time for proper hostess behavior.  By the time Friday rolls around all that is left in the refrigerator is a few sad looking vegetables, and a little bit of half-and-half that I have to ration in my coffee until I next make it to the supermarket.  I would so much rather spend my time in the park on Saturday than shuffling from market to market to source the most delicious cheese, obscure pickles, and perfectly paired crackers to share with my fellow picnickers.

Enter Mouth, the indie food online store that has all your picnicing needs covered.  They've already selected some of the best small-batch food products available today and curated them into Tasters, which are perfect for those who suffer from decision fatigue at the end of a hard day's work (me).


Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic


Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic

Mouth has an incredible selection of goods including chocolates, coffee, crackers, cheeses, candies, cookies, jams, condiments, syrups, and (most exciting of all) indie spirits and wine!  While it is easy to get lost in the pickle section of the website (I lost a good hour there myself), any lover of cocktails is sure to admire their fantastic selection of small batch, American made libations. They've even curated tasting sets for spirits - such as the "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere" set that includes Industry Standard Vodka, Town Branch Bourbon, and Original Label Gin.  Even if you're not familiar with these brands, the tasting sets are a great way to try new spirits, all the while knowing that someone (Dave Herman of Mouth) has already tasted and approved them for your boozy consumption.

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic

While there are endless amounts of products on Mouth to choose for your weekend picnic, I recommend selecting one of the Tasters.  Why?  Because you will receive items you never would have picked out your self, and inevitably, everything will be delicious

My perfect picnic is as follows:

The Big Cheese is a gorgeous Taster that, in my opinion, qualifies as an epic lunch.  It contains 5 different kinds of cheese, three different kinds of pickles, three different spreads and tapenades selected to perfectly pair with said cheeses, two types of crackers, honey, cookies, and even a slate cheese board!  Genius!  This Taster can easily feed 5-10 people and its ingredients can be used in cocktails!  


Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic

Gastronomista Libation Selects:

Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur - One of my favorite ginger spirits on the market made in Brooklyn New York.  Barrow's is great in Dark n' Stormys or topped with soda water!

Old New Orleans Crystal Rum - An unaged rum made in the 9th ward of New Orleans, made from Louisiana Sugar Cane.

Square One Organic Vodka - a 100% rye vodka that has a lot of body and character!

Atsby Amberthorn Vermouth -A honey colored Vermouth made in upstate New York, made from North Fork Chardonnay, honey, apple brandy, anise, lavender, basil, and citrus.

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic

Extras:

Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker - made with an iconic mason jar - and a top that can double as a jigger!

Beehive Juicer - for those of you who don't like squeezing limes with your bare hands

6 Limes or so

Fresh Mint for garnishes

Cocktail Skewers or Toothpicks

Knife for Cheese Cutting

Ice (Because no one likes warm drinks)

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
That's a Whole Lot of Delicious!

Once your goodies arrive, everything comes pre-packed in tote bags, so it's pretty much ready to go out the door.  Cheeses come packed in a great insulated tote bag with an ice pack, so you don't have to stress about them going bad.  It's pretty genius. 

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Ready to Go!
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Genius Cheese Tote

Here's a quick tour of The Big Cheese:


Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Mouth Totes Spileth Over
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Edibles Wrapped Up in Handsome Recyclable Packaging
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Picnic Time!  Ash Ripened Goat Cheese, Pickled Green Beans, Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade!  Oh My!
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Pilsner Crackers Pair Perfectly with Bonne Bouche
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Tupelo Honey - Great Name, Great Honey
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Pickles Pickles Pickles and Sun Dried Tapenade on Piedmont Sheep's Milk Cheese
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Mmmmmm Bonne Bouche
For your (and my) imbibing pleasure, I've designed four perfect picnic cocktails using the delicious edibles in The Big Cheese Taster!

The Martini is a classic cocktail that doesn't get enough praise in the summertime.  I love a chilly martini, especially a heavily garnished martini!  I'm beyond obsessed with the Froehlich's Martini Pickles that are made from green bell tomatoes, and pickled in vinegar, salt, spices, garlic, and hot pepper.

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic

I stuffed those bad boys with one of the best blue cheese on the planet, Rogue Creamery's Caveman Blue - which is an awesome combination of flavor.  The piquant, bright pickles pair so well with the creamy blue cheese, a combination that is reminiscent of a blue cheese stuffed olive, yet totally better.

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Blue Cheese Vodka Martini Recipe
Bliss in Your Mouth - Even Better in a Martini
  Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Blue Cheese Vodka Martini Recipe


Serve a few stuffed pickles in a perfectly chilled Pickled Tomato Blue Cheese Martini made with Square One Vodka and Atsby Amberthorn Vermouth for a wonderfully aromatic and delightful libation!  The vodka acts as a vessel for the vermouth, and makes it easier to taste all of the different flavors in the incredibly complex Amberthorn.  The herbal notes of the vermouth pair gorgeously with the spiciness of the rye vodka, the creaminess of the cheese, and the brightness of the pickled tomato.

Say hello to your new favorite summer cocktail:

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Blue Cheese Vodka Martini Recipe
Hello, Lover.
 Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Blue Cheese Vodka Martini Recipe

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Blue Cheese Vodka Martini Recipe



Pickled Tomato Blue Cheese Martini

3 oz Square One Vodka
1/4 oz Atsby Amberthorn Vermouth
2 Froehlich's Martini Pickles Stuffed with Caveman Blue Cheese

Stir with ice, and strain into a picnic glass.  Slice the martini pickle lengthwise, and stuff with blue cheese.  Skewer pickles with a toothpick, and balance on the top of the glass.

Pro Tip: I love govino wineglasses that are shatterproof, reusable, and good looking.


For those of you who love picklebacks or dirty martinis - try a Pickled Dirty Martini!

 
Pickled Dirty Martini

3 oz Square One Vodka
1 oz Pernicious Pickle Juice

Pickles to Garnish

Stir with ice, and strain into a picnic glass.  Garnish with a few pickle slices.

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Pickle Juice Martini

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Pickle Juice Martini

Another one of my favorite summer cocktails is a Daiquiri!  Not the frozen ones that are made with lots of sugar and food coloring, but a classic daiquiri like the ones Hemmingway used to drink!  The classic daiquiri is made with rum, fresh lime juice, and a little bit of simple syrup.  But we are at the park, so I'm using Barrow's Intense Ginger as a substitute, and to give the Ginger Daiquiri a bit of spicy kick!
 
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Ginger Rum Daiquiri Recipe

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Ginger Rum Daiquiri
 
Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Ginger Rum Daiquiri Recipe
Open Wide, Indeed
Ginger Daiquiri

1-1/2 oz Old New Orleans Crystal Rum
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Barrow's Intense Ginger 

Shake with ice and strain into a picnic glass.  Garnish with half a lime, with a sprig of mint inserted in the center.


 Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Ginger Rum Daiquiri
  
Pro Tip:  Drinking in parks is all about discretion.  When you can, pre-batch cocktails ahead of time.  If you're mixing in the park, find a remote spot, and keep your bottles covered.

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Mouth Packaging for the Win!
I love spritzes in the summertime - they are refreshing, delicious, and when topped with soda water are a great way to be secretly hydrating while still having fun.  The Ginger Kamikaze Spritz is a variation on the Kamikaze shot you likely did in college, but topped with soda water (because you're a responsible adult now).

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Ginger Vodka Soda

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Ginger Vodka Soda

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic Ginger Vodka Soda


Ginger Kamikaze Spritz

1-1/2 oz Square One Vodka
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 oz Barrow's Intense Ginger
3 oz Soda Water

Shake vodka, ginger, and lime juice with ice.  Strain into a cocktail glass over ice and top with soda water.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

Gastronomista Mouth Indie Foods Cocktail Picnic
Cheers to a Perfect Summer Picnic!
AND - you, dear Gastronomista reader, get 15% off your purchase at Mouth with the code GASTRO15 - applicable to food, booze, anything!  AND orders over $75 have free shipping! Get on it before the offer is no more!

Happy Picnicing! 



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Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tales of the Cocktail Trend Alert - Pineapples!

About a year ago I started seeing these awesome brass vintage Pineapple Ice Buckets popping up on Etsy and Ebay - gorgeous and festive vessels that were popular in the 60s and 70s.  Naturally, I lusted after them, and apparently, I was not alone.

Etsy - The White Pepper Vintage Pineapple Selection

The pineapple has been a symbol of wealth, hospitality, generosity since colonial times, and in turn, a symbol of colonial dominance.  Christopher Columbus penned his experience of first tasting a Pineapple on the island of Guadalupe, and brought the exotic fruits to Europe in 1493.  The fruit immediately became a curiosity, and was highly coveted by Kings, Queens, and hosts who used the Pineapple as a display of wealth to their guests.  

The pineapple became a popular decorative element - carved into headboards, incorporated into wallpaper patterns, or cast in metal and used for candle holders, trivets, and ice buckets!

Today, the Pineapple is having a Renaissance in the cocktail world - famed bartenders are moving beyond the coupe or the tiki-style carved fruit goblet, and are using the vintage pineapple vessels as inspiration for a new way of imbibing.  

One of the most talked about cocktails at Tales of the Cocktail 2014 was served at the House of Elyx: Who Framed Rodger Rabbit, with Absolut Elyx, Carrot, Sandalwood incense, and topped with Kombucha.  Delicious, yes, but it was the copper pineapple vessel that had the crowd oohing and ahhing.  The cocktail was served over crushed ice, with a round of orange in the center, in which a stick of incense was lit, and then extinguished when the top of the pineapple was put in place. 

Who Framed Rodger Rabbit in a Copper Pineapple at the House of Elyx
Jack Hubbard Finishing Off Cocktails at the House of Elyx
The pineapple vessel has also been used at ZZ's Clam Bar here in New York City, as well as The Artesian in London (winner of four spirited awards at this year's Tales of the Cocktail) in collaboration with Tanqueray, and sources tell me that Cocktail Kingdom is developing a line of vintage inspired pineapple drink-ware. 

Gold Tanqueray Pineapple - The Artesian in London
 Photo from The Artesian

Alexino Kratena's Drink Vessel Lecture at Tales of the Cocktail
 Photo by Alexino Kratena Instagram - @koko_aleko 


Pineapple Cocktail at ZZ's Clam Bar
 Photo by Sometimes I Crave

Pineapple Cocktail at ZZ's Clam Bar
 Photo by Time Out

It's time to add some flair to your home bar - and a few gorgeous gold Pineapples are sure to do the trick!  I for one, can't wait! 

Cheers!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tales of the Cocktail 2014 with Tia Maria

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Welcome back to my coverage of Tales of the Cocktail 2014!

This year I was a guest of Tia Maria Liqueur and Disaronno Originale for Tales of the Cocktail, and was invited to do an Instagram Take-Over of the Tia Maria Account!  I had a blast exploring the city, and finding new ways to use the classic coffee liqueur!

Upon arriving in New Orleans, I dropped my bags to the hotel, and hustled over to my first event, the Flavors of Jamaica Snack Stand with Tia Maria.  It was already a bit of a madhouse when I arrived, guests lined up through the hotel of the Hotel Monteleone to get a taste of the Jerk Chicken and Tia Maria Cocktails.

Tia Maria Montego Mule and Jamaican Jerk Chicken!
Brand Ambassador Lauren Ritchie prepared Montego Mule cocktails that were a variation on a Dark n' Stormy, made with Appleton Rum, Tia Maria, Fresh Lime Juice, and topped with ginger beer.  So yummy!

I really enjoyed this cocktail - the coffee liqueur adds another layer of complexity to the Dark n' Stormy, and gives it a nice bitter baritone flavor to compliment the sweetness of the rum and the ginger beer.  


The lobby of the Hotel Monteleone (which spills out onto the street during Tales) is always a great place to catch up with familiar faces, and strategize on what lectures to attend, what parties were happening, and what bars one absolutely must visit. 



Tales of the Cocktail can be exhausting, there are parties back to back from 10 am to whenever (read, around the clock), and simultaneous events that an eager imbiber such as myself would love to attend.  FOMO (fear of missing out) is impossible to avoid.  Events are scattered across the city, which means, shuffling through the heat or the rain with a cocktail in hand, trying not to get too distracted by the romantic balconies of the French Quarter, the smells of Jambalaya luring a hungry belly into legendary restaurants, or gorgeous antique shops filled with gorgeous cocktailing artifacts.

Balconies of the French Quarter
Courtyard of the Hotel Mazarin - A Cool Respite from the Heat of New Orleans
Lucky for me, I had a bottle of Tia Maria with me at all times so I was able to spike my libations with a bit of caffeine and keep the party going.

First stop, Café du Monde for Café au Lait and Beignets!  


Cafe du Monde  - A New Orleans must
It was pouring rain (and someone forgot their umbrella), so I was a bit trapped there.  Another coffee?  Don't mind if I do!

Coffee and Beignets To Go!
Next, I was off to the Napoleon House for a Tia Maria and Soda made by bartender Mario Suazo - it was a simple concoction and extremely delicious.  1.5 oz of Tia Maria, over ice, topped with soda water, and a squeeze of fresh lime.  Heavenly.  It's a bit like a whiskey soda, but a bit more bitter, and with a bit more zing!
 
The Napoleon House (Photo taken the Day Before - Sans Rain)
Tia Maria & Soda at The Napoleon House
Later, me and my bottle of Tia Maria found our way to Erin Rose, which is probably the best dive bar on the planet, for a Frozen Irish Coffee with a Tia Maria Floater (BYOTM - bring your own Tia Maria).  Their Frozen Irish Coffee is already to die for, but I must admit, the Tia Maria floater made this libation unstoppable.

Erin Rose
Erin Rose Frozen Irish Coffees with Tia Maria Floaters!
A Perfect Swirl About to be Topped with Tia Maria

It was so good that later in the trip we repeated the phenomenon: Separators with Tia Maria Floaters from Good Friends Bar on Dauphine and St. Anne.


Good Friends Separator with a Tia Maria Floater
After this bad boy we were off to another party, wandering those labyrinthine streets of New Orleans, lost in the magic of the city for another night.

New Orleans at Night
Check out my coverage of the Disaronno events at Tales of the Cocktail, including the Spirited Dinner that featured a few delicious Tia Maria Cocktails.  Stay tuned for more Tales of the Cocktail coverage and for details on everything else I drank!

Many thanks to Tia Maria for having me as their guest, and for inviting me to do an Instagram Takeover of their account.  I had a blast experimenting with Tia Maria, and sharing my adventures with you!

But before I go, here are your new favorite recipes:


Montego Mule
   
1.5 oz Tia Maria
1 oz Appleton Estate VX Rum   
3/4 oz Lime Juice
Top With Ginger Beer

Shake Tia Maria, Rum, and Lime Juice with ice.  Strain into a cocktail glass with fresh ice, and top with ginger beer.  Garnish with Mint Sprig.


Tia Maria & Soda

1.5 oz Tia Maria
3 oz Soda Water
Lime Wedge

Build over ice, top with soda water, and garnish with a fresh lime wedge.


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