Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tales of the Cocktail 2014 with Disaronno


This year I had the amazing opportunity to travel to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail and work with Disaronno, the Italian Amaretto made in Saronno, Italy.  I was invited to do an Instagram Takeover for the brand, which was an excellent excuse to drink a lot of Disaronno!

Prior to traveling to New Orleans I must admit that had a relatively minor understanding of Disaronno.  I knew the brand, the iconic bottle, and I knew that it was an Amaretto, but other than that I really didn't know how to use it in cocktails.  I'm pleased to report that I'm now bubbling over with ideas of how to use Disaronno in my cocktail creations after what could be classified as a Disaronno Boot-Camp - at the heart of which is the Disaronno Sour, a refreshing and delicious cocktail.   

Before we get to all the fun, let's go through the facts. What exactly is Disaronno?  It is an Italian Amaretto made from a secret formula that dates from 1525.  The liqueur is made from grain alcohol that is infused with apricot kernel oil, burnt sugar, and the essence of seventeen herbs and fruits.  While the liqueur is not made from almonds, it has predominant flavors of Bitter Almond, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, and Cocoa.

My first stop on the Tales of the Cocktail Disaronno tour was the BYOB - Bring your Own Barrel Event at the Hotel Monteleone.  The cocktail being served was called El Jefe, a barrel aged cocktail made with Disaronno, Anejo Tequila, a few dashes of orange bitters, and garnished with a lemon peel.

El Jefe!
The El Jefe cocktail is delicious - the spiciness of the tequila cuts through the sweetness of the liqueur.  This is a cocktail I will be making at home in a glass bottle with a charred oak stave! 

The Disaronno brand ambassadors chatted with Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman prior to the event, and then were busy preparing cocktails for thirsty imbibers!  I, thankfully, was able to grab an El Jefe or two at the event as well!

Disaronno Ladies & The Cocktail Paparazzi
Disaronno Ambassadors Lauren Ritchie and Silamith Weir with Ann Tuennerman of Tales of the Cocktail
Disaronno Ambassadors Lauren Ritchie and Silamith Weir
Serving El Jefe Cocktails at the Bring Your Own Barrel Event
El Jefe - Disaronno, Anejo Tequila, Orange Bitters, Lemon Peel

- - - - -

The following evening I was treated to a delicious four course meal at the 21st Amendment in the Hotel Mazarin in the heart of the French Quarter.  Chef Agnes Bellet prepared a traditional New Orelans meal, complimented with cocktails by Paul Sevigny.

But first there were Disaronno Sours with the team!  I must admit, this was my first Disaronno Sour ever, and I was happy to be drinking them.  Another, please!  

The Classic: The Disaronno Sour
These Guys - In the Suite
Don't Mind If I Do!
Disaronno Sours Before Dinner
We started out the evening in the Parlor where we were serenaded by a delightful New Orleans band and sipped on Operetta Punch.  It was quite delicious, and was made with Disaronno, Campari, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice, and Prosecco.  Dangerous! 

Operetta Punch

The music was great, as were the cocktails, but it was time to be seated for dinner!  We started off the meal with a Napoleon of Clump Crabmeat and Asparagus topped with Remoulade, which was served with a Mela Spritz, a refreshing cocktail made with Disaronno, Green Apple Shrub, Lemon Juice and Topped with Prosecco. 

The Mela Spritz - Disaronno, Apple Shrub, Lemon Juice, Prosecco
The next course was one of my all time favorite southern meals: Gulf Shrimp and Grits, paired with the Creole Swizzle made with Disaronno, Pierre Ferrand 1840, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, and Peychauds Bitters.

This was followed by my favorite dish of the evening, Sauteed Beef Tenderloin with Forestier Sauce, served with Haricot Vert, and Potatoes Au Gratin.  This dish was served with a Tia Maria cocktail called The Aristocrat made with Tia Maria, Tequila, Sweet Vermouth, Aztec Bitters, and garnished with an orange peel.  The flavors of tequila, coffee, and the beef went together extremely well.  I have to admit, this is one of the best cuisine and cocktail pairings I've ever had! 

The Aristocrat - Tia Maria, Reposado Tequila, Sweet Vermouth, Chocolate Aztec Bitters
This was followed by a course of Merveille French Beignets filled with Disaronno and topped with Macerated Berries and Chantilly Creme, paired with a Cafe Chat Noir made with Tia Maria, Port Wine, Espresso, and Orange Bitters. 

The Cafe Chat Noir - Tia Maria, Port Wine, Espresso, Orange Bitters

I was seated at dinner with the most romantic and inspiring couple.  They were from Lafayette, Louisiana, had six kids (SIX CHILDREN), and acted as though they were teenagers freshly in love.  I hope I am so lucky (minus about four kids).  Behold:

These Two.

- - - - -

The following afternoon Disaronno highlighted the Disaronno Sour with a Tasting Room that featured four different variations of the classic cocktail.  The Traditional Disaronno Sour, the Creole Sour made with a heavy pour of Angostura Bitters, the Stone Basil Sour made with Orange Juice and a Basil garnish, and the New Orleans Sour made with Lime Juice and Peychaud's Bitters. 

Guests were welcomed with a short informational video, a nosing of the dominant flavors in Disaronno, followed by the cocktail tasting of the different variations.

The History of Disaronno
Disaronno Tasting and Nosings of Vanilla, Cocao, and Bitter Almond
The Classic Disaronno Sour
It was refreshing to taste the different variations of the Disaronno sour, and to see how people reacted to them differently.  While the Creole Sour was very popular, I must say, I enjoy the Classic Sour the most!

Creole Sours!
Tastings of Disaronno Neat
The Creole Sour

The Tasting Room in the Royal Sonesta Hotel
Stay tuned for more of my Tales of the Cocktail coverage - including my adventures with Tia Maria, and everything else I drank!

Many thanks to Disaronno for having me as their guest, and for inviting me to do an Instagram Takeover of their account!  It was so much fun to share my behind the scenes shots, and to drink a Disaronno Sour (or six).

But before I go, here are my favorite recipes:

Classic Disaronno Sour

1-1/2 oz Disaronno
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Lemon Twist to Garnish

Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.  Garnish with a Lemon Twist.   

El Jefe

1 Part Disaronno
1 Part Anejo Tequila
4 dashes orange bitters (per portion)

Age in a glass bottle with a charred oak stave for 2 weeks.

To Serve:
Stir with Ice, strain over fresh ice in a low ball glass, and garnish with a lemon peel.

2 Parts Disaronno
1 Part Campari
1 Part Lemon Juice
2 Parts Orange Juice
2 Parts Prosecco
Orange Wheel Garnish

Combine in a punch bowl filled with a block of ice.  Serve in punch coupes.

The Aristocrat

1.5 oz Tia Maria
1.5 oz Reposado Tequila
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes Chocolate Aztec bitters

Stir with ice and garnish with an orange peel

Creole Sour

1-1/2 oz Disaronno
3/4 oz Angostura Bitters
1 oz Lemon Juice
2 barspoons Simple Syrup

Shake with Ice, and strain into a lowball glass with fresh ice. 


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

San Miguel - A Casa Dragones Old Fashioned

Friends tell me tomorrow is National Tequila Day.

I generally dislike the media machine that is fake media holidays, but for Tequila Day, I'll make an exception.  That, and I just haven't gotten around to sharing one of the best cocktails I've had this year(I know, I'm holding out on you.  I'm sorry.)

At the Casa Dragones Blanco launch in April, Jim Meehan designed four spectacular cocktails using the exceptional tequila (read my review here).  The San Miguel was my absolute favorite - so simple, so clean, and so crisp.  I could drink this cocktail daily until the end of my days.  It's that good.

The cocktail is essentially an Old Fashioned made with tequila, celery bitters, agave, and garnished with a grapefruit peel.  Genius.  This cocktail shows such sophistication with the layering of subtle and delicate flavors.  I was blown away.

Upon asking Mr. Meehan why he chose to use celery bitters, he properly educated me on bitters 101:

"It's a great tequila, and my philosophy when mixing with great tequila is to try to not get in the way...traditional bitters like Angostura or Peychaud's ... are for barrel aged spirits for the most part or for gins that have botanicals.  You have to go to alternative bitters when you're using them to spice your cocktails with tequila."

Ah!  Mind. Blown.

Without further ado, and for your imbibing pleasure:

The San Miguel
Created by Jim Meehan

2 oz Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila
Barspoon of Agave Syrup
2 Dashes of Miracle Mile Celery Bitters

Stir with ice and strain over a large cube into a chilled rocks glass rinsed with grapefruit oil
Garnish with the grapefruit twist.

Get your Casa Dragones Blanco here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Orange & Chili Coffee Old Fashioned


It is very much iced coffee weather.  But how about boozy iced coffee weather?  Yes, Yes, and YES!

How about an iced coffee old fashioned?  With say, a touch of sweetness from Grand Marnier, and a kick of fiery chili bitters?  Yes please! 

The sweetness of the orange liqueur pairs beautifully and adds an extra layer of dimension to a classic coffee liqueur such as Tia Maria or Kahlua.  Add a few drops of smoky, spicy heat with Fire and Damnation Bitters to make this cocktail extra memorable and addictive

You might never want a regular iced coffee ever again.

Consider yourself warned.

Orange & Chile Coffee Old Fashioned

1-1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
3-4 Dashes Hell and Damnation Bitters
Small Chili Pepper to Garnish

Stir with ice and strain into a low-ball glass with a large ice cube.  Garnish with a chili pepper. 

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Rhubarb Lillet Spritz

Happy Bastille Day! 

In honor of the Le Quatorze Juillet I propose a toast, in the name of freedom and liberty.  After all, the French did give us the mighty Lady Liberty, one of the greatest monuments to freedom. We should thank them with a cocktail.

I propose a cocktail made with Lillet, the french aperitif that is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle, and macerated liqueurs made from citrus peels from Spain and Morocco.  Lillet is wonderfully refreshing over ice and served with a lemon peel, or mixed into a refreshing summery cocktail. 

I have been craving summery cocktails that are both light, fruity, and refreshing.  Rhubarb is one of my favorite flavors in the summer, because it is sweet and sour, it pairs with a lot of different flavors and is reminiscent of sweet treats.  

For the Rhubarb Lillet Spritz I've used Rhuby, the Rhubarb Art in the Age spirit, Lillet Blanc, and topped it off with prosecco.  You can also top this cocktail off with sparkling water, which will help you secretly hydrate while you imbibe! 

I love how pretty rhubarb is, it is incredibly luminescent and reminds me of ribbon candy.  I've cut the rhubarb into thin strips to show off the bright pink colors and subtle green hues, and wrapped them around the inside of the glass.  You can achieve this effect with just a few strips of rhubarb - it's a lovely garnish that also imparts fresh rhubarb flavor to your cocktail. 

Without further ado:

The Rhubarb Lillet Spritz

1-1/2 oz Rhuby
1-1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
3 oz Prosecco
3-4 Drops Brooklyn Hemispherical Meyer Lemon Bitters
Long Slivers of Fresh Rhubarb to Garnish
3 Lemon Peels to Garnish

Wrap the inside of the glass with the strips of fresh rhubarb.  Carefully drop ice into a highball glass.  Build over ice and top with prosecco.  Express the lemon peel over the top of the cocktail and float onto the surface. 


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