Monday, August 6, 2018

Gastronomista in Imbibe Magazine!

Exciting news!  I was recently featured in Imbibe Magazine, sharing some of my favorite places to drink (and eat) in the Vail Valley.  If you ever come to Vail - for skiing or a summer escape - make sure to bookmark this link (you can thank me later).  Or better yet, send me a note and I'll meet you for a drink ;)

My father moved to Vail in 1972 when there were only 400 people living in the town.  I spent much of my childhood in Vail, and I moved to the mountains by myself as a teenager to pursue ski racing.  Even at a young age I fell in love with this quirky mountain town and the people who live here.  Even to this day, a day of skiing at Vail mountain is one of my all time favorite things, and I continue to be astounded by the majestic beauty of this valley.  After 16 years on the East coast, my husband and I moved back to Colorado, and it has been wonderful to be back in my home town. Of course there are things I wish I could have brought with me from Brooklyn (ahem, pizza and my besties), but even amongst the overpriced resort town places we have found some incredible people making some damn good drinks (and food to go with it).

The best part of living in Vail?  Being able to catch a powder day on a Tuesday, trail running after a long day of work, and skipping the after-skiing traffic back to Denver on I-70.   From coffee to beer to tacos, these are my favorite spots in Vail.

Read the whole article here>>

Monday, July 9, 2018

Campari America Spirited Connections Interview Series: Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Continuing the Gastronomista Campari America Spirited Connections Interview series, this month is a conversation about mentorship with one of the best in the business, James Beard Award nominee and Spirited Award recipient, Jeffrey Morgenthaler.  He is someone who has been a personal mentor to me from afar (unbeknownst to him!), and I'm sure he has been for others.  But the luckiest ones are those who learn from him while "in the trenches", the up-and-coming bartenders lucky enough to be mentored by him every day.  Envy is an understatement.

Many, many moons ago, I started this website and stumbled into the cocktail world.  In a rather unexpected career twist, I found myself with an insatiable curiosity to learn more about the cocktail industry: the people, the products, and how to do it myself.  I took some pretty bad photographs, I made some really disgusting drinks, but I started meeting some amazing people.  I also started scouring the internet for more information, desperate for more guidance about exactly what this world was all about.

Somewhere in the early years, I discovered Jeffrey Morgenthaler's website.  I learned how to make ginger beer, I made my own oleo saccharum for various punches, I made countless Amaretto Sours to his specs, and started my own pocket recipe book (mine however, is red).  Later, when Morgenthaler released The Bar Book, I raced through the pages, picking up practical tips that most bartenders learn on the job, but I, an island onto myself, learned through written word.

I have always appreciated Morgenthaler's no-nonesense mentality towards simplicity, staying true to the cannons of cocktails, and always being in pursuit of doing things better.  He approaches bartending and bar management with a particular rigor that is uncannily familiar to me - after all - he too studied architecture.

Morgenthaler has mentored countless people in the industry, at his own bar and in the community at large.  It's fair to say that through his books and his website, he feels like a mentor to me as well, a feeling that I'm sure so many bartenders and writers can relate to.  So needless to say, it was a tremendous honor to spend a few hours with him at his bar in Portland (yes, I might have fanned out a little bit).  This was not the first time I met Morgenthaler, and I hope not the last.  He is warm, welcoming, and incredibly funny - a consummate host.  His laugh is loud and dominates the room, as does he.  And as for his Old Fashioned, it is perfect.  Don't even bother arguing.

Without further ado, Jeffrey Morgenthaler:

Gastronomista: Jeff, it is a huge honor to host you in my Spirited Connections Interview series with Campari America.  Your blog has been such a huge source of inspiration for me, and an invaluable resource during my cocktail self-education.  It’s fair to say that you have been a mentor to me (via the internet) for years, and I cannot thank you enough for sharing your wisdom with cocktail enthusiasts like myself.  

Speaking of mentorship, I would love to discuss how mentorship has impacted your career, both as someone learning a craft and as someone passing along your knowledge. 

Morgenthaler: Aw, thank you. Sharing what I’ve learned has always been the most important thing to me as a bartender, and it always makes me so happy when I hear that my knowledge has helped someone else. It’s nice when someone "gets it". So many people think that sharing my knowledge is just me trying to “promote my brand”, whatever the hell that means, and it’s like, hey, I’m genuinely just trying to help.

Gastronomista: Why did you start your website, and how has it changed your opinions on giving back to a community and teaching others?

Morgenthaler: I originally started it because I wanted to learn how to install the blog software on my web server. I was just messing around. And then I started sharing recipes from the bar on there, just for our regulars who came in and might want to make the drinks at home. I realized that people all over the world were coming to the site looking for cocktail information, and it just kind of grew from there.

Gastronomista: Why do you think it is so important to pass along your learnings behind the bar? 

Morgenthaler: I learned to tend bar in a pretty small town: Eugene, Oregon. We had some great, truly great bartenders there that I would watch from the other side of the bar. But there weren’t a lot of people doing cocktail stuff, not like the sort of stuff we do now. So I had to learn from people who were willing to share their knowledge in books and online. I’ve never forgotten how important that was to me, and I want to do the same for other people who might not have access to formal training or a selection of world class bars they can visit in their own town.

Gastronomista: Do you have any particularly gratifying memories of your mentors, and those who have been lucky enough to study under you?  What has been the greatest takeaway?

Morgenthaler: I was trained at my first bar by a woman named Nancy Bertini. Nancy was a lifer, I think she’d been at The Tiny Tavern for twenty years when I got there. She was matronly, kind, fast, and very firm with the sometimes rough clientele. She worked happy hour, and I was the closer. So we saw each other probably four or five times a week for four years. I learned a lot about being organized and managing a busy room from her.

Later on, I worked for Stephanie Pearl-Kimmel at Marché, and she was one of the early followers of Alice Waters. I learned a lot about culinary technique, consistency, and service in her restaurants. I could still spend hours sitting at the chef’s counter and watching the line cooks work. It’s always been mesmerizing to me.

But the greatest feathers in my cap are when people that I’ve gotten to work with over the years go on to run their own programs, and mentor people on their own. I can’t take credit for anyone’s success because I always hire people who are going to be great with or without my help. But it’s just so awesome to see people you’ve worked so closely alongside go on to do great things. And most of them have.

Justin Pike manages the bar at Tasting Kitchen in Venice, California. It’s one of the most consistently acclaimed bar programs in Los Angeles. Andrew Volk owns the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in Portland, Maine. Food and Wine named him as one of the best bartenders in America, and they’ve been nominated for Outstanding Bar Program by the James Beard Foundation.


Gastronomista: In my opinion, The Bar Book is one of the most important reads for people learning about the cocktail industry – it covers essential techniques, tools, and tricks of the trade.   What makes your second book, Drinking Distilled, (congratulations!) – different, and how do you hope that it will be received by cocktail enthusiasts?

Morgenthaler:  Thanks! I’m hoping to reach more than just cocktail enthusiasts with this one. It’s geared toward people who simply enjoy a cocktail, people who enjoy a bar, or enjoy hosting a party at home. Cocktails are such a small part of what makes up the bar and entertaining world, and I have lots more to say about those other things.

Gastronomista: This series is sponsored by Campari America, would you be willing to share your favorite recipe made with Campari America products?

  Our Cynar Collins at Pepe Le Moko is probably my current favorite. Here’s the recipe!

Cynar Collins
Created by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

2 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (2:1 Sugar:Water)
2 oz Soda Water

Combine Cynar, lemon, and simple syrup with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled. Add soda directly to shaker and strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.


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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Rosé Season Entertaining

In case you haven't noticed, it's gorgeous out there.  It's officially rosé season, and it's time to load up your fridge for the duration of the summer.

I love a glass of crisp, extra dry rosé, but sometimes a girl needs some bubbles!  Fret not, dear imbibers, not all bubbles require a champagne budget - there are so many amazing sparkling wines that won't break the bank.

One of my favorites as of late is Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé, a delightfully dry wine that is wonderful for sipping in the afternoon or mixing into a summery cocktail.  It is made with a combination of Glera grapes (typically used to make Prosecco), Chardonnay, and Malbec to add color and richness.  The wine it self is not too sweet and has a slight flavor of red berries and toasted brioche.

While Santa Margherita is delightful on its own, I also tried it in a summery cocktail, a variation on a Negroni Sbagliato, but with Hendrick's Gin, Aperol, and a splash of sparkling wine.  Served over a large king cube and garnished with an edible flower, this might be a perfect summer tipple.

Unusual Sbagliato

1 oz Hendrick's Gin
1 oz Aperol
1.5 oz Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé

Combine gin and Aperol in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir until chilled, and strain into a low ball glass with a king cube.  Top with Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé and stir.  Garnish with an edible flower.


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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Horchata Limeade Popsicles

Oh man, do you remember those iconic red white and blue popsicles?  Cherry, lemon, and blue raspberry?  Who knows, and it doesn't matter.  Those popsicles summed up summer, sweet and sour and synonymous with the cheerful chime of an ice cream truck from blocks away.  

This is not that.  This popsicle is everything but that - but it could maybe be its Mexican unicorn doppelganger?  It's an Horchata Limeade popsicle that gets it color from butterfly pea tea, and its booze from Chila 'Orchata cinnamon cream rum, because I'm a little crazy like that.  

I layered a simple limeade popsicle with a mix of Chila, rice milk and cinnamon, a blissful combo of piquant and sour with sweet and slightly savory.  Certainly not your usual red-white-and-blue pop, but maybe something refreshingly different.  

Horchata Lime Popsicles

Limeade Layer
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup 1:1 simple syrup
1 cup Butterfly Blue Tea 

Mix and fill popsicle molds two-thirds of the way with the limeade.  Let freeze.  

Horchata Layer
1/2 cup Rice Milk
1/2 cup Chila 'Orchata
1/2 cup Butterfly Blue Tea
1/2 t. ground cinnamon

Mix and fill the remainder of the popsicle molds.  Let freeze. 

For the Butterfly Blue Tea
1-1/2 cup boiling water
1/8 cup whole flower Butterfly Blue Tea

Let steep for 20-30 minutes.  Strain out tea flowers and let cool completely. 


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

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Campari America Spirited Connections Interview Series: Bobby Heugel

During last year's Campari America Spirited Connections Interview series, Gastronomista profiled innovative bartenders who are re-thinking the major issues facing the industry today: sustainability, inclusion, philanthropy, motherhood behind the bar, and the importance of health and lifestyle balance, to name a few.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue this series with Campari America in 2018, and we have a line-up of incredibly talented and forward-thinking luminaries who are about to drop some serious knowledge and inspiration.  We're kicking off the series with one of the best in the business, Bobby Heugel, and a discussion on the importance of philanthropy.

The sixth annual Negroni Week is June 4-10.  This annual celebration of one of the world's best cocktails has a deeper mission to raise money for dozens of philanthropic organizations.  For all of those looking to buy a Negroni or two at their favorite bar or those bartenders looking to meet their fundraising goals, Bobby should be a source of inspiration.  He has a unique view on philanthropy; one based on need, sustainability, and the impact on the greater ecosystem of the spirits industry.  

It was a true honor to spend a few hours with him, and I must admit, I am envious of those who have the opportunity to study under his tutelage.  

Without further ado, Bobby Heugel:

Gastronomista:  Bobby, your reputation precedes you!  I’ve been hearing about your work and how you give back to the community.  One of your philanthropic efforts is the O.K.R.A. Charity SaloonHow did you get involved, and can you tell us more about the mission behind the project?

Heugel: I was President of a group of local restaurant and bar owners that formed O.K.R.A. – An Organized Kollaboration on Restaurant Affairs - in 2011 in order to resist some proposed regulations that would have been catastrophic to the economic viability of future restaurants and bars in Houston. After winning that political victory, we realized we had established this effective and powerful organization that could shape our local community going forward, so I asked all of these incredible people who had become such good friends through this process if they’d be interested in opening a bar where 100% of the profits went to charity. They agreed, and just like the prior campaign, we all got to work on this new goal. It was an amazing project that none of us could have done alone, and we are all extremely proud of it.

Gastronomista: What has been the best part of being involved with O.K.R.A.?

Heugel: The O.K.R.A. Charity Saloon was the first bar of a new wave of restaurants, bars, and hotels to open in downtown Houston starting in December 2012. Since that time, there’s been over 80 new liquor licenses issued in the area (including some of my own). This small little idea literally reinvigorated the downtown of the fourth largest city in the country and at the same time it raised over a million dollars for charity to date. It would be impossible to pick one story out of this incredible journey, but I think the total number of lives this bar has touched shows how powerful humanitarian efforts like this can be.

Gastronomista: How have you been involved with Negroni Week in years past, and how are you planning to be involved this year?

Heugel: Anvil, which I own, is participating in Negroni Week this year June 4-10, and we are donating 100% of Negroni sales to No Kid Hungry, an organization that donated $300,000 to Houston for Hurricane Harvey relief.

While I’ve always thought Negroni Week was a good idea (and have participated several times in years past), I’ve been sour on how *some* bars have use this week as a way to appear charitable and "check a box" each year,.  This is despite the best efforts of Imbibe and Campari, those responsible for developing and organizing Negroni Week, to encourage genuine giving.

But this year, I spoke at length with Anne Louise Marquis at Campari about their efforts to encourage better planning on the part of bars and require a more active, structured participation. Registration requires a minimum donation of $25 to register and, requires bars to select a certified 501(c)(3) charitable organization. She’s put together a list of Ten Tips for a Successful Negroni Week that I contributed ideas to, and I think it’s a great tool for not only engaging Negroni Week but other charitable initiatives as well. While I’m sure everyone has different ideas for Negroni Week, what I hope is that the yearly event raises a ton of money for charities nationally because of its reach and popularity. But, I hope even more that it is a basic exercise in being charitable each year that then inspires bars to understand this process better and launch other initiatives throughout the year.

Bars are uniquely positioned to host fundraisers, respond more swiftly to fundraising needs during disasters, and don’t face all of the political pressures that other business do in today’s world. And I think Negroni Week reminds us all of this opportunity we have to impact our community.

Gastronomista: What are three things every bar can do to give back on a day to day basis?

Heugel: Being charitable is a notion that explains how we choose to serve the world around us instead of ourselves when able. And in this vein, I think bars need to be considerate of others in three primary areas. 1. Bars need to pay their staff sufficiently, with benefits if able, and create a safe work environment for their employees. 2. Bars need to consider the total number of people responsible for the liquor and produce they serve in their bars and strive to make decisions that reinforce the ethical treatment of these individuals. 3. Bars need to remember that, historically, bars have served as houses for charitable efforts in local communities and continue to fulfill that need.

Gastronomista: What is your advice to someone wanting to get involved with giving back to their community?

Heugel: I would recommend that those interested in becoming more charitable as a business first start by engaging a certified 501(c)(3) organization. This designation certifies an entity as a non-profit organization and requires them to abide by federal laws that regulate these organizations. Far too often, people want to start their own organization, without realizing the structures of non-profits are very complicated and time-consuming. After engaging an organization, consider donating time instead of just money or goods, possibly becoming part of that organization’s leadership after first volunteering. And finally, if you feel like you fully understand the commitment, launch your own organization if there is a need not currently being fulfilled in your community.

Gastronomista: What drives the creative process for you when you're creating cocktails?  Any tricks of the trade you can share?

Heugel: I think the best cocktails are extension of classics. The basic principles of balance and simplicity that govern classics help keep our plethora of ingredients and various methodologies in check in this day of globalization. The measure of a great cocktail to me is whether or not it has the potential to become a classic in its own right.

Gastronomista: Who inspires you in the bar industry right now? Who do you think is doing it right?!

Heugle: Thad Vogler’s (owner of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand in San Francisco) fierce dedication to ingredients that he believes in and has extensively researched is inspiring. I enjoy Thad’s bars so much, but even more, I admire his efforts to consider his impact in the world that extends beyond what most guests would notice. We need more people to act in this manner in this industry.

Gastronomista: This series is sponsored by Campari America, would you be willing to share your favorite recipe made with Campari America products?

Heugel: My favorite cocktail I have developed at Anvil with Campari is The Smitten.

The Smitten
Created by Bobby Heugel

1 oz Campari
1 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (2:1 sugar to water)
16ish Mint Leaves
Shake and fine strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a mint sprig.


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

Share This!