Monday, September 19, 2016

Saloon Box with Luxardo Maraschino


Learning about cocktails can be a costly endeavor - it can become quite a financial undertaking to stock one's bar with obscure spirits, liqueurs, and syrups (I should know!).  Fortunately, SaloonBox has it worked out for you - they send you monthly kits that have two cocktails in each kit - complete with boozy minis and all the required syrups and ingredients to make said cocktail.  It's a perfect way to figure out if you want to invest in a full bottle of an liqueur to make a particular cocktail and add it to your repertoire.


This month SaloonBox features a Luxardo Maraschino Vodka cocktail called "And the Cherry On Top Is..." made with Vanilla Syrup and Fresh Lemon juice that is simply to die for, and I couldn't help but share. 


And the Cherry On Top Is...
Created by SaloonBox

1-1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino
3 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Vanilla Simple Syrup (3 Packets)
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Top with Club Soda

Garnish with a Cocktail Cherry

It's a simple cocktail that is even easier to make - shake the vodka, maraschino, simple syrup, and the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker, strain into cocktail coupes, top with soda water, and finish with a few cocktail cherries - et voilà - you've got a bar quality cocktail, at home! 



This week I am going to be taking over their Instagram Account - so follow their account to see some of my favorite Luxardo recipes!


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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Campari America Spirited Interview Series - Kaleena Goldsworthy

This month my Campari America Spirited Interview series brings us to Chattanooga, Tennessee with Kaleena Goldworthy of The Flying Squirrel

I met Kaleena a few years ago at the Wild Turkey Behind the Barrel program - an amazing few days in Kentucky where we drank bourbon out of the barrel with Eddie and Jimmy Russell, slept in tents, shot guns, and made new friends.  Although all of the bartenders in the group were amazing, Kaleena impressed me with her attention to detail and passion for the cocktail and spirits industry.  In the years since, she has moved up the ranks at her home bar, traveled around the world learning about how spirits are made, and this year was part of the Tales of the Cocktail CAP program - the prestigious program for up and coming bartenders. 

Without further ado - Kaleena Goldsworthy.


Gastronomista:  Kaleena, what is your position at the Flying Squirrel in Chattanooga?  How did you end up there, and what has changed for you since you have been there?

Kaleena Goldsworthy:  My current position at Flying Squirrel is the Assistant GM and Bar Manager.  My story of how I ended up here is a pretty crazy one.  Just over 4 years ago, I traveled to Chattanooga for the first time on vacation and stayed at The Crash Pad.  The Crash Pad is a boutique hostel geared to a more outdoorsy clientele.  Our trip consisted of rock climbing, hang gliding, paddle boarding, and having really wonderful late night conversations with the inspiring young folks running the hostel.  At the time of our visit, the owners of the hostel had just broken ground on a bar / restaurant, which had always been a part of their plan.


Quite literally one month after that trip, I found myself in a situation many people in their mid twenties find themselves: newly single and on the self-proclaimed "noble quest" to find myself.  I began applying to jobs in all the cities that I loved traveling to, and found myself reaching out my new friends at the hostel.  I was, at the time, a full time musician who spent her days teaching preschool.  Regardless, my new friends convinced me to talk to the owners about working at the new restaurant.  I kept insisting I was looking for a "real" job, but once I heard everything that they were looking for, I thought it could be a great stepping stone into a new city.  I remember sending an email to the owners saying something along the lines of "If you are offering me a job, I will move to Chattanooga,"  and their response: "If you'll move to Chattanooga, you've got a job." 

Three months later, I arrived in Chattanooga with a U-Haul, no serving experience, the promise of a job, and my only friends being my future bosses.  My interview was a comical one: "This is Kaleena.  She moved here from NY, so... she's got the job.  We're not sure where she will be yet."  Honestly, I didn't know where I was going to be until about two weeks out of training, and my only serving experience was that that one summer job I had in high school. 

I was told I was going to be a bartender, to which I internally panicked.  The kind of I-don't-know-what-kind-of-soda-goes-into-a-vodka-soda panic.  As luck would have it, in addition to reading "Bartending for Dummies," I enrolled in BarSmarts.  While completing BarSmarts, I was completely and totally awestruck and intrigued at the wealth of knowledge I had yet to acquire in this industry. 


I'm the kind of person who goes all in on things, so I just kind of assumed all bartenders knew how to make... every drink and knew all about whiskey and rum.  What I thought was just trying to keep my head above water, was actually way more than I needed.  It was honestly way more than I ever thought I would find -- a true passion to learn the ins and outs of the industry and the history behind it all.  We were the new kids on the block, and we were busy.  I would like to think it was my experience working with preschoolers that prepared me most to work behind the stick, and I found myself truly loving my job and every obstacle that was thrown my way. 

After about 6-8 months, I was promoted to Bar Manager, and about a year into operations, was promoted again to AGM.  Throughout the course of these 3 years that we have been open, I have applied to and attended every educational opportunity I could to help me feel more comfortable where I was.


Gastronomista:  You're not only an awesome bartender, but you also have a gorgeous blog called The Bitters Girl.  How has your career benefited from blog?

Kaleena Goldsworthy:  Why, Thank you!  Haha -- Honestly, I love writing.  Bartending, though at first incredibly challenging, provided me that creative outlet that music had once afforded me.  After starting to manage and spending less time behind the stick, I needed another creative outlet.  As I mentioned, I am a total nerd when it comes to education.  I'm convinced that if being a full time student were an acceptable job, I would be one of the best.  Our industry has such a rich history, so many incredible stories, so many rare and unique ingredients -- basically so much to learn! 

The Bitters Girl was a project I started to understand bitters better and it kind of morphed from there.  Originally, I had a plan to document all of the ingredients used to create bitters in one format so that I could better understand their place in other spirits and liqueurs.  I became an active member of Chattanooga's USBG and began writing for the USBG National Blog as well, and from there, I just started to write about my experiences in learning how to bartend and manage.  At this point, I would say that my blog has offered me an incredible opportunity to write.  I have had the opportunity to write for a handful of websites and people I respect so much. 

Gastronomista:  What bars do you frequent in Chattanooga?  Are there any innovative cocktail programs that excite you?

Kaleena Goldsworthy:  The older I get, the more I love the atmosphere of a bar during the day, when I can have a seat, listen to the music, take in the ambiance and not have to yell over anyone else.  I think working in a high volume bar has led me to seek out more of these inspiring venues during their "off-peak" hours, when I can really relax.  I would say my go-to bars are Main Street Meats, the Bitter Alibi (and The Fix), and I absolutely love the atmosphere and vibe of Matilda Midnight in the Dwell Hotel.  In the grand scheme of things, Chattanooga is really gaining great momentum in the food and beverage industry, so there are a lot of people pushing out new and exciting things.  I really love the enthusiasm and excitement in cocktail creation with the bartenders at St. John's and Meeting Place as well as the awesome cocktails on tap (and bottled) at Main Street Meats.  It's really quite inspiring to be living in what others would consider a "smaller" city, because every stride we take to do something unique and different is putting us on the map.  I feel so excited to say there are so many incredible bars and restaurants doing outstanding things and offering new experiences in this "little" city.  Chattanooga's drive is really what excites and inspires me.

Gastronomista:  If you were to visit any bar anywhere in the world, at any point in history, what bar would you visit?  Who would you have a drink with?

Kaleena Goldsworthy:  Oh man.  As a bitters nerd, I want to travel back to the Old-School Apothecary-esque "bars" of New Orleans.  I want Antoine Peychaud to serve me his Sazerac at his pharmacy.  I would go back to experience the true speakeasy's in NYC.  I want to talk shop with the people who didn't realize what they were doing at the time.  From such humble beginnings came such immeasurable greatness.


Gastronomista:  Bitters and Amaro are a booming trend, how have you seen this trend affect your bar menu and the preference of your customers?

Kaleena Goldsworthy:  I think a lot of people are interested (both customers and bartenders), but in a smaller city, it's a bit harder to get everyone on board.  I've noticed industry people really taking to the trend and showcasing these items in cocktails that intrigue the guests and offer a discussion.  This is far and away my favorite way to get someone psyched on a new ingredient -- just talk about it!  Chattanooga (especially the downtown area) has a lot of forward thinking people; people who are excited about innovation and trying new things.  While it might take a minute for certain items to take, when featured in the right cocktail, we can see Cynar, Fernet, etc. fly off our shelves.

Gastronomista:  What other Mixologists inspire you and why?

Kaleena Goldsworthy:  There are so many people who inspire me.  Jim Meehan (someone I have seen a handful of times and am still too shy to speak to) is a huge inspiration.  PDT was always the bar I had wanted to visit while living in NY (I wasn't in the industry at the time, so it was never a priority -- I still have yet to visit!).  His professionalism, wealth of knowledge, and what he has done for our industry is so incredibly admirable.  I had the amazing opportunity to work as a CAP this year at Tales of the Cocktail and found myself surrounded by bartenders who inspire me.  Quite literally, all of them inspire me every day.  It takes a lot to make something of yourself in this industry.  It can so often be thankless, but these people do it because they love taking care of other people -- they genuinely care.  That's inspiring.

Gastronomista:  The presentation of your drinks is always so beautiful - do you have any tips on how to style and serve beautiful drinks?


Kaleena Goldsworthy:  Why, thank you!  I am constantly reminded of how I was taught to create, garnish, and present cocktails -- which is a culmination of a lot of people's ideas and thoughts spanning Tales of the Cocktail, Portland Cocktail Week, and my amazing GM, Sanders Parker.  Every ingredient in a cocktail should serve a purpose -- don't try to overcomplicate it.  Simple is often times better when it comes to a cocktail.  If you stick to these guidelines, I think styling and serving drinks can be pretty simple.  Every drink should be a work of art and something you are proud of.  Each drink is also an opportunity to wow someone -- an extension of your passion and expression.  I think that is my biggest tip to serving beautiful drinks -- to make sure that everything has a place -- whether visual, the smell, the taste, the feel, etc.  Make sure it's easy to navigate as well.  If you're going with an avant garde garnish, there is nothing worse than watching the customer's puzzled look as they try and take a sip -- unsure if they are to remove the garnish or drink around it, etc.  Make it clean and simple; make it nice.

Gastronomista:  Campari America is sponsoring this series on up and coming Mixologists.  Can you recommend a great recipe with some of their products?

The Golden Snitch

Heck yeah! 

The Golden Snitch
Created by Kaleena Goldsworthy

In a mixing glass ½ full of ice, add:

1 1/2 oz. Smoked Peach Whiskey
1/2 oz. Lemon Verbena Syrup
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
1/4 oz. Cynar
Stir and strain into goblet over ice
Garnish with a bamboo pick and a husk cherry

For more follow Kaleena on Instagram: @Killeena_

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

All photos courtesy of Kaleena Goldsworthy

Friday, September 9, 2016

Deconstructed Dark & Stormy


Indian Summer is upon us - which means they days are still hot and the nights are still warm and magical.  September can still be brutally hot - surprisingly hot - the only reprieve being cold beverages!

One of my favorite summer cocktails is a Dark and Stormy - a complex but refreshingly simple cocktail that is always a crowd pleaser.  The classic recipe calls for Ginger Beer, Gosling's Rum, and Lime, but a little kick of ginger liqueur takes this drink to the next level. 


This summer I started making Deconstructed Dark and Stormy's with Crabbie's Original Ginger Beer, Rum, and home-made Limeade popsicles (which were incredibly delicious on their own too).  The deconstructed version is also incredibly easy to make, and always a crowd-pleaser!  There is something so delightful about having a popsicle dunked into your cocktail!! 

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.



Deconstructed Dark and Stormy


1 Limeade Popsicle
3 oz Gosling's Black Strap Rum
6 oz Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer

Pour rum into a highball glass, add limeade Popsicle, top with chilled Crabbie's Ginger Beer and enjoy!


Limeade Popsicles

1 cup Fresh Lime Juice
1 cup Demerara Sugar
5 cups Water

Put sugar and one cup of water in a small pot and bring to a simmer.  When all the sugar has dissolved remove from heat and let cool.  Add remaining water and lime juice and mix.  Pour into Popsicle molds and freeze overnight.


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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hendrick's Gin x Dempsey & Carroll Stationery Giveaway!



I'm running a really fun giveaway on my Instagram account this weekend - a set of Hendrick's Gin stationery made in collaboration with Dempsey & Carroll! There are penny-farthing notecards that come with Hendrick's themed envelopes, Rose and Cucumber Coasters, diamond shaped Gin Tags with martini glasses, and (my personal favorite) a 2017 desk calendar that features a different botanical for every month. 

Click through to enter to win! 

Check out the whole collection on the Dempsey & Carroll website. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

O.M.G - Gastronomista Nominated for Best Culinary Blog!

I am so incredibly excited to share this news - Gastronomista is a finalist for the Best Culinary Blog category in the Taste Talks Food & Drink Awards!!!! 

I am completely over the moon with this news - I never imagined that this little drinks blog could be up for such a prestigious award.  The awards ceremony is on September 26th, so everyone cross your fingers and send some good juju into the sky until then.

In the mean time, check out the complete list of nominees - there are some major heavy hitters on this list!!!


As always, thank you for reading, thank you for all of your likes, comments, emojis - your endless support is what keeps the wheels turning here at Gastro HQ.  Thanks to all of you for inspiring me on this amazing, boozy journey!

Here are a few of my favorite culinary inspired cocktail recipes:

Artichoke Negroni - Artichoke Gin, Cynar, Cardamaro, Fresh Grapefruit

Arsenic and Old Lace - Absinthe, Crème de Violette, Gin, Vermouth

Molegroni - Black Walnut Whiskey, Campari, Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, Sweet Vermouth

Cardamom Old Fashioned - White Whiskey, Cardamom, Simple Syrup
 
Aquavit Margarita - Tequila, Aquavit, Lime, Agave, Jicama, Celery Bitters

Celery + Pepper Martini - Celery Gin, Dry Vermouth, Garden Party Bitters, Pepper

Cherry Vodka Old Fashioned - Roasted Cherries, Cherry Infused Vodka, Amaro, Barrel Aged Bitters

Ramp Gibson - Vodka, Dry Vermouth, Ramp Pickle Brine, Pickled Ramps

Sous Vide Bloody Mary - Tomatoes, Bloody Mary Spices, Vodka

My whole recipe index is listed here>>

x

emily

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

My Summer 2016 Cocktail - The Bastille Day Boisson


I had this cocktail for a Bastille Day preview party for Ricard, the traditional French Apéritif, and it has since become a mainstay in my summer repertoire.  This cocktail is light and refreshing, and has a wonderful balance of sweetness, bubbles, and summer herbal flavors from the Ricard and from the fresh Herbs de Provence that garnish the drink.  This is a gorgeous little number that will help get you through the dog days of summer! Enjoy!

Bastille Day Boisson

Created by Jamie Gordon

1 oz Ricard
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
2 dashes Scrappy Lavender Bitters
Topped with San Pallegrino Aranciata Rosso
Garnished with Fresh Herbs de Provence

Build in a glass with ice and enjoy all day long!


Monday, August 8, 2016

The Reyka Vending Machine - Tales of the Cocktail


It's been a few weeks since Tales of the Cocktail - the booze industry's largest, booziest, and sweatiest cocktail convention.  Tales is one of my favorite weeks of the year, and it is always filled with friends new and old, new products, epic parties, and more delicious drinks than one can count.  It's always hot, exhausting, exhilarating, and more than anything, inspiring.

There is always one thing that pulls at my heart strings - and this year it was the Reyka Vending Machine, a late night event hosted in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone. 

This isn't just *any* vending machine - it's a magical vending machine that spits out Cocktail Shakers, Bottles of Icelandic Bitters, T-Shirts, Wooly Hats, Slices of Pizza, Fried Chicken Sandwiches, Enormous Swedish Sour Fish, and more.  It's one of the most hilarious branded events I've ever seen - lighthearted and fun

One can credit all the fun to Trevor Schneider, the US Reyka Vodka Ambassador who has boundless energy at every event.  He's fucking incredible.

Trevor In A Rare Moment of Zen - Photo by Alain Hain
When Trevor is on, he is ON.  He's jumping around, dancing, juggling ice balls - he is the party. 

The Reyka Vending Machine starts out as a brilliant idea, but Trevor brings it to life. 

The vending machine's wood token is a meagre toll for transport into his world - you are suddenly a player in his theater.  One by one, people are chosen for their turn at the machine, to take their chance for a prize. 

It was late, and I was hoping for Pizza. 

When I was selected I hinted (loudly) to Trevor (and to the man behind the curtain - er plastic vending machine front) that I would love a slice of pizza.  Instead, Trevor fed me his slice of pizza.  Whatta gent!

Photo by Alain Hain
I dropped my token into the machine and selected a button identified in Icelandic.  (Spoiler alert - I don't speak Icelandic).  I might as well have pressed "Chicken Fried Rice" or "Pickled Herring" I have no idea.

Photo by Alain Hain
What emerged out of the machine to my surprise and delight was a Crystal Ball - and I was whisked off to the middle of the lobby where a table was set up and a "Fortune Teller" (read, actor - or perhaps just a poor bartender eager to make a buck) read my future.  Again, I hinted (loudly) that I might become a multi-millionaire, but instead he told me that the next day I would have an excruciating hangover.  More Pizza Please.

Photo by Alain Hain
On I went into the swirls of the night, clenching my Crystal Ball and my heart full of gratitude that for just a moment, I too could be part of the show. 

The Crystal Ball has found a home on my altar of collected treasures from this crazy booze blogging adventure.  It's surrounded by shiny pineapples, cacti, flasks, telescopes, bottle openers, and vintage cocktail shakers.  I'm sure they make my husband crazy, but every day they remind me of why this community matters, and how this blog has given me a way to meet amazing people and to see the planet.  More than anything, all my chotchkies are reminders of the creativity and the magic that fills the spirits industry, and that I am lucky to be a part of it.




William Grant & Sons sponsored my trip to Tales of The Cocktail.  Thank you for helping a girl out.  All opinions are 100% mine.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible

Friday, August 5, 2016

ICYMI - Gastronomista - Best Cocktail Instagram Feed!

Over the weekend I found out that I was included in Chowhound's roundup of the Best Cocktail Instagram Accounts!!  Thank you Chowhound! 

I love Instagram.  I find so much inspiration on my feed every day, and I LOVE sharing my latest work and adventures with all of you.  But most of all, I love the community of instagrams - all of your positive comments give me so much motivation to continue to pursue my love of libations.  Thank you.

Check out the story here.  More importantly, follow me on Instagram HERE.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Gastronomista x SKYY Vodka Pool Party!


I'm so excited to *finally* share some of the photos from the party I hosted with SKYY Vodka last week!  It was a magical night - and I am eternally grateful to everyone who came out to support me.  Thank you.

This summer has been brutal in New York, and what a treat it was to hang out at the Sixty LES pool all night sipping on frozen fruity cocktails, all Gastronomista creations!! 

I know you're dying for the recipes, so here they are:


Frozen Strawberry Hibiscus Lemonade
Created by Gastronomista

2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2 oz Frozen Strawberries
2 oz Mint Simple Syrup
2 oz Hibiscus Tea
1 oz SKYY Infusions Strawberry Vodka

Blend with ice and pour into a lowball glass.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a lemon wheel.


Green Tea Pear Punch
Created by Gastronomista

Makes 6 cocktails

4 Cups Water
4 Green Tea Bags
1-1/2 C Pear Juice
1 Cup Mint Simple Syrup
1 Cup Sparking Water
1/4 Cup Pear Brandy
1 Cup SKYY Infusions Pear Vodka

Boil the water in a small pot.  Let cool for just a few moments, and then add the green tea bags.  Steep for 5 minutes or so depending on your preference, then remove the tea bags and discard.

In another pot boil 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn off the heat, and add a handful of fresh mint.  Let steep for 10 minutes, then remove the mint leaves and discard.  Transfer to a non-reactive glass bottle for chilling.

In a large pitcher mix all the ingredients together and stir.  Serve into individual glasses and garnish with a festive straw.


Grilled Pineapple Chi Chi
Created by Gastronomista

2 Chunks Grilled Pineapple
1/2 oz Creamed Coconut
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
4 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz SKYY Infusions Pineapple Vodka
4 Dashes Memphis BBQ Bitters

Blend with ice and pour into a highball glass.  Garnish with a pineapple slice and a fresh orchid.





Guests even got to go home with a goodie bag packed with recipe cards, SKYY sunnies, custom Skyy Straws, and a pretty sweet beach bag. 

Big thanks to SKYY Vodka for supporting Gastronomista and throwing this party in my honor - it was such a fun night! 


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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Campari America Spirited Interview Series - Bob Peters

My next series of Campari America interviews focuses on bartenders who live outside of major cities, talented creatives who are killing it in their local markets.  First up, Bob Peters.

Bob Peters is the head bartender at The Punch Room located on the top level of the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, North Carolina, and he is bringing serious cocktail game to the Queen City.  I discovered Bob Peters through Instagram - he has mastered social media as a means to promote his bar and to share his drinks with the world.  He is now an Instagram powerhouse with over 35k followers.  I must admit, I have studied his posts carefully, often needing to wipe the drool off of my phone afterwards (and I don't think I am alone). 

Last month I was fortunate to be able to visit him at The Punch Room, and he showed me his rooftop garden where he harvests fresh herbs, honey, and garnishes for his drinks, and made me a few of his favorite cocktails from the summer menu.  It is undeniable - Peters is making sophisticated cocktails that could hang in any major cocktail city -cocktails that are delightfully whimsical and light-hearted in nature.  He often creates cocktails around childhood memories, finding inspiration from visceral moments of pure happiness.


Gastronomista: Bob, you are the head bartender at the Punch Room in Charlotte, how did you land such an prestigious position?  What has changed for you since you have been there?

Bob Peters: Before I started at the Punch Room, I was the head bartender at an amazing sushi restaurant Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge here in Charlotte, NC.  While I was there we were able to accomplish some amazing things with the bar program, including some national recognition.  When you can pull off accomplishments like that, it can open some pretty substantial doors.  In my case The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte came knocking with the Punch Room project.  I couldn’t turn down the opportunity of a lifetime.  It is such a honor to work for a company with such a rich history of impeccable service and incomparable quality. 




Gastronomista: What bars do you frequent in Charlotte?  Are there any innovative cocktail programs that excite you?

Peters: I love all my local watering holes, however Soul Gastrolounge, Heist, The Cotton Room, Dogwood Southern Table & Bar all have very exciting bar programs.  I love walking into these places just to see what they are up to, but having a drink is a huge bonus.

Gastronomista: If you were to visit any bar anywhere in the world, at any point in history, what bar would you visit?  Who would you have a drink with?

Peters: I think if I could sit at any bar in history I would sit at the Savoy Hotel in London about 85 years ago.  About that time Harry Craddock and Ada Coleman were two of the first rockstar bartenders who are actually still very influential on our cocktail culture today.  The cool thing is that they worked at the same place at same time behind the same bar. Being able to watch them work together and interact would be so incredibly amazing, like listening to Bach & Beethoven on the same stage in concert. If I could pick anyone to take with me, I might like to sit there and have cocktail or three with Miles Davis. Could you ever have a cooler wing man than Miles Davis?  I can’t imagine anything more enjoyable than sipping a Corpse Reviver #2 or a Hanky Panky made by the people that created them, or chatting about jazz with Miles Davis!  Yeah, that’s cool.

Gastronomista: Bitters and Amaro are a booming trend, how have you seen this trend affect your bar menu and the preference of your customers?

Peters: I love the fact that bitters and Amaro are trendy right now. I think it is interesting and refreshing to work bitter into mix. The typical American palate leans toward salty and sweet, but with a little patience, bitter is a flavor that people can learn to enjoy.  Recently, I’ve seen more and more people that are familiar with requesting bitter liqueurs.  I personally enjoy using bittering agents in cocktail recipes because of how well they balance sweetness so effectively while adding depth at the same time.  I can’t help but to have several cocktails with some form of Amaro in each and every cocktail list that I create at the Punch Room.

Re-arranged Pisco Sour - Pisco, Lemon, Lime, St. Germain Egg Foam

Gastronomista: What other Mixologists inspire you and why?

Peters: I am typically inspired by chefs.  I love how really successful chefs have an incredibly strong point of view.  Their commitment to the experience they want to share with their guest is incredible.  I’m inspired by the energy that chefs pour onto a plate.  I love the passion that you can see in someone’s eyes as they are working.  That singular focus that blocks out everything else in the world, while trying to make sure that whatever they are working on, however minute, is nothing short of perfect. I am inspired by the boundless knowledge of food and flavors. I am inspired by love.  I am inspired by people that understand that they can never really master their craft but are willing to die trying.

Strange Brew - Smooth Ambler Bourbon, Hazelnut Milk, Double Brewed Coffee Ice Cube
Gastronomista: I love the Strange Brew cocktail made with bourbon, ice coffee, and hazelnut milk at the Punch Room - what exciting flavor combinations are you working on? What ingredients are exciting you right now?

Peters: Right now in North Carolina there are so many beautiful fruits that are in season, and they are all very exciting to me.  We are now in the hottest parts of the summer so I find myself being drawn to watermelon right now.   There is nothing better than an ice cold slice of watermelon when it is 100 degrees outside.  I can remember eating watermelon as a kid thinking that it was the most perfect fruit for the summer because it cooled you off and quenched your thirst at the same time.  On my current summer cocktail menu I have a Cardinal gin, watermelon, salted basil cocktail that I’m kind of obsessed with. It is garnished with a pickled watermelon rind "ribbon" that pushes the cocktail over the top of delicious.

Gastronomista: The presentation of your drinks is always so beautiful - do you have any tips on how to style and serve beautiful drinks?

Peters: I think presentation is very important.  Just like food, people eat (or drink) with their eyes first, so the visual appeal of a drink affects the guest’s enjoyment of a cocktail.  My opinion on garnishing is super simple.  1. Everything must be edible.  2. Less is more.  There is nothing more beautiful than simplicity.



Gastronomista: Campari America is sponsoring this series on up and coming Mixologists.  Can you recommend a great recipe with some of their products?

Crazy Russ - Photo Courtesy of The Punch Room

Crazy Russ
Created by Bob Peters

2 oz of Russell's Reserve
1/2 oz of Campari
1 1/2 oz of NODA Brewery’s Coco Loco Porter (Coco Nib Porter)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with an expressed orange rind.

For more follow Bob Peters on Instagram: @Bob_Peters



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