Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Président Cheese - Cocktail Pairing Guide

A cheese plate is one of the easiest go-to entertaining tricks in the book, one I use on the regular (I'm a busy woman, after all).  Guests always love a decadent cheese platter complete with all the accoutrements - crackers, jams and spreads, and fresh fruit and veggies - but what is the perfect beverage to serve?  For your next party skip the wine and try a cocktail pairing to go with your cheese plate!

First up is one of my favorite snack combinations - fresh radishes served with Président Rondelé Garlic and Herbs CheeseThis cheese is creamy and spicy - loaded with herbs and spices that go really well with really well with spicy radishes - and they look really pretty on a platter.  My trick?  Take two extra seconds to put the cheese in a bowl, an easy trick that makes people think you slaved away all day making your own cheese spread!

I pair this platter with a Pickled Radish Gibson made with quick pickle radishes, vodka, and dry vermouth.  You can even use serve up the rest of your pickled radishes with your cheese platter for snacking.


Pickled Radish Gibson

2.5 oz Vodka (I used Absolut Elyx)
.5 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
Barspoon Radish Brine

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.  Garnish with a pickled radish slice and a fresh baby radish.

Pickled Radishes
Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 ounces Sliced Radishes
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Clean radishes and slice thinly.  Pack ramps into a pint-sized jar along with dried red chiles, bay leaves, fennel seeds, and pink peppercorns. 
Bring white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve. Pour over radishes to cover. Seal jar. Let cool, then chill.


My second pairing is a simple cheese plate of Président Camembert and a sweet and savory Raspberrry Jam made with Rose and Szechuan Peppers served with a Rose and Raspberry Ramos Gin Fizz.  You can use any jam for this pairing, the trick is to find something that is sweet and savory so it can pair with the cheese as well as in the cocktail.  A Ramos Gin Fizz is a classic cocktail that comes from New Orleans, and is made with Gin, Simple Syrup, Egg Whites, Cream, and topped with soda water.  The Ramos Gin Fizz is an excellent vehicle for flavor - the cocktail accentuates flavors and the texture of the drink is like a fluffy dessert-like cloud.

Rose and Raspberry Ramos Gin Fizz
Modified by Gastronomista

1 Egg White
1-1/2 oz London Dry Gin
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Cream
1 barspoon Raspberry Rose Jam (Or any other jam you prefer)

Add ingredients to a boston shaker and shake vigorously for your dry shake.  Add ice and shake again for about 30 seconds.  Strain into a highball glass and garnish with a candied rose petal, a few pink peppercorns, and a sprig of fresh thyme.


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Président Cheese. All opinions are 100% mine.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Pineapple Margarita with a Coconut Popsicle Garnish

Summer is coming and (thank goodness) so is Margarita season!  Margaritas are a perfect libation choice when you want something sweet, savory, and refreshing, and let's be honest, Margaritas taste great just about anywhere and at any time.

This cocktail is inspired by a recent drink I had, which was essentially a fruit popsicle dunked in a goblet of pink prosecco.  I kept thinking, why should prosecco have all the fun?  Our friend the Margarita deserves a popsicle garnish!!

This cocktail is essentially a Pineapple Margarita topped off with a coconut popsicle, and as the popsicle melts into the cocktail it becomes a salty and sweet Coconut Pineapple Margarita, a bastard cousin of the Piña Colada.


I like to take bites of the popsicle as it melts into the drink, drizzled in pineapple-tequila goodness, and then mix up the coconut into the rest of the drink.  For this cocktail I did a half rim of salt, which helps cut through the sweetness of the fruit, and jives oh so nicely with the Altos Plata Tequila.

These are amazing for entertaining because you can batch the cocktail part of the drink ahead of time.  To serve, you pour into a glass, and top it off with the pop which cools the drink for you.  Easy. Peasy.  I imagine there are many other flavor combinations that would taste great - Mango, Lime, Passion Fruit....the possibilities are endless!!


Pineapple Margarita with a Coconut Popsicle Garnish
Created by Gastronomista

3 oz Altos Plata Tequila
3 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 Coconut Popsicle

Shake with ice and strain into a low ball glass.  Top with a Coconut Popsicle and a straw.

Styling Notes
5" Copper Straw - W&P
Glasses - Vintage

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Altos Tequila. All opinions are 100% mine.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Ultimate Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is one of those cocktails that can either be pretty meh or it can be spectacular.  The trick?  More Ginger.  

Which means, you need better ginger beer.  Fortunately for you, I'm kicking off a partnership with Crabbie's Ginger Beer who makes excellent ginger beer, and ultimately better ginger beer means better Moscow Mules.

Crabbies is an alcoholic ginger beer made in Edinburgh, Scotland, and when it is made ginger is steeped into the beer for up to 6 weeks before blending, making it super gingery.  It's a great alternative to a traditional lager, but it's really delicious in cocktails!

For my Moscow Mules, I like to add a bit of ginger syrup or ginger liqueur, whatever you have on hand, to kick up the ginger just a bit more.  Top with a bit of soda water to keep this cocktail from being too high octane (we are using alcoholic Ginger Beer after all), and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

The Ultimate Moscow Mule

2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup or Ginger Liqueur
4 oz Crabbies Ginger Beer
2 oz Soda Water

Fresh Mint and Candied Ginger to Garnish

Build in a Copper Mug over ice, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a piece of candied ginger.

Styling Notes
Copper Mugs - Sur la Table
Turquoise Kaleido Tray - Hay Design
Brass Bottle Opener - Food 52

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crabbie's Ginger Beer. All opinions are 100% mine.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Ramp Gibson Martini

A few weeks back I pickled up some ramps because I live in Brooklyn, and apparently people in Brooklyn love ramps.  Springtime in Brooklyn means that there is a feverpitch desire for ramps - ramp pesto, ramp pasta, ramp butter, there are ramps in almost anything you can think of thanks to the creativity of Brooklyn chefs.  I too love ramps, and I thought they would look mighty pretty in a martini, and I was right

Ramp season is shockingly short - a mere few weeks to satisfy all those ramp cravings!  The solution?  Pickling.  Pickling is a great way to preserve ramps and ensure their availability in your life, and in your martinis.

For this cocktail, I used the classic Gibson recipe - 2.5 oz Vodka with .5 oz Dry Vermouth, and I recommend using a vermouth on the classic end of the spectrum such as Dolin.  You don't want too many other aromatic flavors in this cocktail, it's all about the ramp brine


Ramp Gibson Martini

2.5 oz Vodka (I used Absolut Elyx)
.5 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
Barspoon Ramp Brine

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.  Garnish with a pickled ramp and a few pink peppercorns from the brine.

Pickled Ramps
Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 ounces ramps
2 dried red chiles
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Clean ramps and remove any damaged bits.  Pack ramps into a pint-sized jar along with dried red chiles, bay leaves, fennel seeds, and pink peppercorns. 

Bring white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve. Pour over ramps to cover. Seal jar. Let cool, then chill.

Styling Notes
Mixology Coupes - Waterford
Silver Tray - Vintage

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spicy Mezcal Pineapple Margarita

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, and we here at Gastro HQ are already planning our margaritas!  I've been selected as a featured blogger for the One Week, Five Margaritas campaign in Instagram with Fresh Direct, so follow their instagram account to see all the margs!

This year, I'm craving opinionated margaritas made with smoky mezcal and sweetened with pineapple juice.  Mezcal is one of those amazing spirits that mixes well with sweet and savory ingredients thanks to the umami flavor notes of the spirit.  You can either use Pineapple juice from a the grocery or you can juice your own.  If you have a juicer and want to take this cocktail to the next level, grill the pieces of pineapple before juicing to caramelize the sugars of the fruit, adding another layer of smoky sweetness to the cocktail.

The spice in this cocktail comes from Ancho Reyes, a liqueur made from Ancho Chiles, and a few dashes of Fire and Damnation Bitters made by Bad Dog Barcraft - one of my favorite cocktail ingredients!  I used El Silencio Mezcal for this cocktail, it's a gorgeous single agave Mezcal that has a bold flavor of agave, a nice salinity, and that ever-so-addictive smoky flavor that is almost waxy in texture.  It's smooth, yet full of flavor, and mixes extremely well in cocktails, especially those with fruit.


Spicy Mezcal Pineapple Margarita
Created by Gastronomista

2.5 oz El Silencio Espadín Mezcal
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Ancho Reyes
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2/3 oz Agave
1/3 oz Water
2 dashes Fire and Damnation Bitters

Salt the rim of a low-ball cocktail glass, and fill with large cubes of ice.  Shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, and strain into the salted cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lime slice and a dried chili pepper.

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Women Cocktail & Spirits Writer Interview Series - Carey Jones

My second interview in my Campari America Women Spirits Writer series is with Carey Jones, a devastatingly intelligent woman I have been lucky enough to travel with and toast many cocktails with over the years.  Her writing is always surprising and speaks to the cocktail zeitgeist - she has a keen eye for trends (and awesomely delicious drinks).  This year she is releasing her first book called Brooklyn Bartender, a book that highlights innovative cocktails made in Brooklyn at the height of the borough's popularity, and yes, you should buy it.

Photo by Lucy Schaeffer

Gastronomista:  You have what many would call a dream job - you travel the world, drink amazing things, and then you get paid to write about it.  How did you get started writing about travel and cocktails?
Carey Jones:  I began freelance journalism straight out of college -- I'd known for a while I wanted to write, so I moved to New York and tried to make it happen. It was a struggle -- I don't know why anyone let me write for them at age 22, and I got about one response (usually a "no") per 50 pitch letters. But the magical thing about starting out in this world is that every article you write, you've had to pitch yourself -- so you realize pretty quickly what you're interested in. "Oh, every idea I've had has been restaurants, cocktails, or travel. Hmm."

I eventually took a full-time job at the food site Serious Eats, where my days were filled with cheeseburgers and sandwiches -- less wine, fewer cocktails. But even within the world of food writing, I always leaned toward drinks and travel. When I went freelance again three years ago, I was thrilled to get to explore these subjects more deeply.

Gastronomista:  What have been some of your favorite places to visit and why?
Carey Jones:  Cuba. I've been twice in the last year. It's become a cliché to rave about how transportive and gorgeous and singular Cuba is. And to some extent, everything you hear is true -- the '57 Chevys, the Havana Club and cigars. But it's not an easy place to travel. It's a complicated place to be a tourist, logistically, ethically -- we go nuts over the crumbling colonial buildings and antique cars, but those are visible signs of poverty; tourists want Cuba to be "frozen in time," but Havana is not Epcot Center. People aren't driving old cars because they're vintage -- it's necessity. Traveling there, your brain is in overdrive. If the idea of travel is to explore a world unlike your own, Cuba over delivers. 

And there's tasty, cheap rum everywhere! From a cocktail perspective, it's hard to tire of Havana Club. I probably had frozen daiquiris at 20 different bars, and they're all quite good -- somewhere between a Hemingway and a normal daiquiri, with rum, lime, sugar, and maraschino liqueur (not Luxardo, sadly). Not too heavy on the sugar, always fresh lime juice -- what's not to love?

Gastronomista:  Where do you want to travel to next?
Carey Jones:  Japan -- and I'm lucky enough to be going in May. I've been there once before, but on a four-day whirlwind; I only spent 12 hours in Tokyo and that was on one long izakaya crawl that I barely remember. I can't wait to tour the Nikka whisky distilleries and get a better sense of what Japanese whisky is about.

Gastronomista:  Bitters and Amaro are a booming trend, how have you seen this trend change the way people drink?
Carey Jones:  The amazing thing about amari is that each one contains such complex, nuanced flavors in a single bottle, so in a lot of ways, they lend themselves to simple cocktails. A Campari and soda, a Cynar and soda with a grapefruit wedge -- these are sophisticated drinks in their own right, as straightforward as they are. I think drinkers have been shifting away from 17-ingredient drinks and back to more focused cocktails; who can argue that an Aperol Spritz is a perfect drink as-is?

Gastronomista: What other cocktail writers inspire you and why?
Carey Jones:  Is it silly to say Dave Wondrich? I don't care. Hearing him talk about cocktails -- and he writes the way he speaks, which is an incredible thing -- and you get absolutely lost in his stories. Like that history professor in college who could make lectures fly by. He has such a sense of storytelling, such an ear for compelling details, and it helps that he probably knows more about cocktails than anyone alive....

Gastronomista: You have a new book coming out called Brooklyn Bartender, what was the best cocktail tip or trick you learned while writing your book?
Carey Jones:  St. John Frizell over at Fort Defiance makes a legendary Irish coffee, but it's actually the technique I love, even more than the drink itself. He calls it the "double boiler" technique -- he fills a mug half-full with boiling water to warm the mug, and then nestles a shaking tin right in the mug and mixes the ingredients in that tin -- so you're heating the mug and the drink in one go. Pretty brilliant.

Gastronomista:  What is your favorite bar in New York City, and favorite bars around the world?
Carey Jones:I can't get enough of Extra Fancy, in Brooklyn -- their frozen sherry cobblers (!), their off-the-wall drink names, their patty melts. It has such a welcoming, addictive energy. No matter who's bartending, whether you know anyone on staff or not, you'll all be friends by the end of the night.

Around the world... oh boy. Bowe's Lounge in Dublin -- they pour a perfect Guinness, their whiskey selection is unreal, and they couldn't be more charming. El Cocinero in Havana, a gorgeous privately-owned rooftop lounge of a kind that didn't exist in Cuba a few years ago. Bus Bar in Chiang Mai, Thailand -- you buy a bottle of rum and ice and Coke out of an actual bus, and then sit at their picnic tables on the water and pour your own drinks all night. Bodega 1900, the vermouth bar in Barcelona. Actually, any vermouth bar in Barcelona. The Lebowski Bar in Reykjavik -- with an entire menu of White Russians. And I can't say no to a perfect martini at The Savoy in London...

Gastronomista:  Campari America is sponsoring this series on women writers in the spirits industry.  Can you recommend a great recipe with some of their products?

Carey Jones:  My fiancé John McCarthy is a mixologist (we now team up on a weekly Food & Wine online column and a bimonthly Saveur video) and I actually met him when I did an article on a cocktail list he'd done. He had a drink called the Presbyterian's Revenge that I'll never forget -- Scotch plus Cynar plus grapefruit is just perfect. I make these at home on the regular.

Photo by Gastronomista

Presbyterian's Revenge
Created by John McCarthy

2 oz Blended Scotch
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 Dash Grapefruit Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Top with a little splash (half an ounce) of club soda. Garnish with a huge grapefruit twist.

Photo by Gastronomista

Styling Notes
Old Fashioned Glass - Baccarat Harmonie Tumbler No. 4
Seamless Gold Jigger - Parched Penguin
Cocktail Shaker - Parched Penguin
Cocktail Picks - Parched Penguin
Gold Tray - Target

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Tequila Sunrise - The Original Recipe

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner, and while most people will be drinking Margaritas, let me recommend a Tequila Sunrise.  Yes, you read that right, a Tequila Sunrise.

The Tequila Sunrise has a bad rap.  When most people think of a Tequila Sunrise they think of bad orange juice, neon red grenadine syrup, and wince-inducing tequila.  But there are two versions of the Tequila Sunrise - the well known version that was created in the 1970's (the dark ages of cocktails, as some call it), and the original version that was created by Gene Sulit in the 1930's and was served at the grand Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

Fortunately for cocktail lovers, the original version is delicious - the savory and salty agave flavor of Altos Plata Tequila pairs nicely with a quality Creme de Cassis such as Lejay and a squeeze of lime.  Why Silver Tequila, you might be wondering?  You want to use an unaged tequila that has a crisp and clean flavor but will add a nice salty minerality to cut through the sweetness of the Creme de Cassis.  I love Altos Plata for mixing because it is really affordable and it has a clean flavor of agave and bright citrus, and yet it is incredibly smooth for sipping.

My favorite thing about this drink?  It is filled with soda water, so you can be secretly hydrating as you're keeping the party going!

The Original Tequila Sunrise
Created by Gene Sulit

1-1/2 oz Altos Plata
3/4 oz Creme de Cassis
Juice of 1/2 Lime
4 oz Club Soda
Luxardo Cherry to Garnish

Shake the Tequila and Lime Juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into a chilled Collins Glass filled with ice, and top with soda water leaving room at the top of the drink.  Add Creme de Cassis to the drink, and let it sink to the bottom of the cocktail  Garnish with a lime wheel and a Luxardo Cherry.

For more recipes and party tricks follow Altos Tequila:

Twitter - @AltosTequila
Instagram - @AltosTequila
Facebook - @AltosTequila

Styling Notes
Glass Straws - Hummingbird Glass Straws
Gold Cocktail Pick - Parched Penguin
Tea Towel - Etsy

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Altos Tequila. All opinions are 100% mine.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

Share This!