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. 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Manhattan Clambake with Clambake Cardonnay

There's nothing more quintessential to summer than a classic clambake.  A one pot meal filled with clams, lobsters, chorizo, mussels, shrimp, corn, potatoes, onions, and garlic, best sopped up with crusty bread topped with butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Equally perfect when cooked on a beach bonfire as when prepared on a stove-top, a clambake is a fantastic memorable event, made even better when surrounded by good friends.

I was recently invited to a Manhattan rooftop clambake, hosted by Mary McAuley of Ripe Life Wines, and creator of Clambake Chardonnay.  This is not your average chardonnay, it is designed to pair perfectly with a classic clambake.  And, dear reader, it does. 

Co-hosting the event was Danielle Fichera of The Lovely Diaries, who kept all of our glasses filled with wine, as any good hostess should.  

Mary McAuley of Clambake Wines & Danielle Fichera of the Lovely Diaries 

 Photo by Susan Baker

Ms. McAuley is a sommelier and culinary school graduate who has gone on the quest to create a chardonnay perfect for a summery clambake.  She does not own a vineyard, instead she seeks grapes from small producers making phenomenal wines.  Each year is a very different wine from a different vineyard, and each with it's own distinctive characteristics. 
The 2012 Clambake Chardonnay is from Santa Lucia Highlands, near Monterey, California.  The area is known for light and crisp wines that have a high level of minerality due to the prehistoric oyster beds in the soil, which pair perfectly with seafood. 

Clambake Chardonnay 2013 is from Medocino, California, that is known for its under-ripened crisp microclimates.  2013 was a banner year for Mendocino, and yielded gorgeous wines that are both crisp and still have that full bodied flavor that we all know and love in a chardonnay. 

Ms. AcAuley sure knows how to pick 'em.

After a clambake demo, and of course, gorging on delicious bites of lobster, clams, shrimps, I was convinced.  This is a perfect wine for a clambake.  It's so delicious you might just want a glass of it for any occasion (read, the author would like a glass right now). 

The best part is Clambake Chardonnay is $16.95 and drinks like a much more expensive wine that will surely impress your guests or your host.  (Whomever needs impressing, that is).

Yours Truly, Enjoying Clambake Chardonnay
  Photo by Susan Baker

Now that you have the perfect libations, here's a clambake recipe to go with it:

Stove Top Clambake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

2-3 Onions, cut into wedges
6 Garlic Cloves
1/2 bottle white wine
1 c water
1-1/2 lbs small new potatoes
1 lb chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Coarse Salt
3 Lobsters (1-1/2 lbs each)
36 Littleneck Clams, Scrubbed
4 ears of corn, cut in half
2 lbs of mussels, debearded and scrubbed
1-1/2 lb. large shrimp, shells on
2 T butter
2 Lemons

In a large pot, combine onions garlic, white wine, and water.  Place a steamer basket on top of the onions and add potatoes, chorizo, and 1 Tablespoon of salt.  Bring to a boil.  Add lobsters and cover the pot, cook over a high heat for 15 minutes.  Add clams and corn, cook covered for 6 minutes.  Add mussels and shrimp, cook covered for 4-8 minutes until mussels are open and shrimp are cooked through. 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day Trip: Blooming Hill Farm & Don Julio Tequila

I was recently invited on a wonderful day trip to Blooming Hill Farm in upstate New York with Don Julio Tequila.  It's not every day that a working lady like myself gets to play hookey and run around on a farm, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity.  Leading up to the day trip, I couldn't help but to day-dream of fresh farm vegetables, green grass, and sunshine.

We loaded on the bus at about 10 am, and were greeted by warm fresh doughnuts, sweetened with sugar and cinnamon, and jars filled with bloody marys.  After about an hour drive, we arrived at Blooming Hill Farm, nestled in a charming valley and surrounded by acres of farm land.  Rows of herbs flanked the drive welcoming us: green chives, lavender blossoms, lemon verbena, and sprouts of asparagus. Heaven. 

There's a bar in there!
Parked at the Farm was the Airstream Speakeasy, already warmed up and serving cocktails!!  First up, a Don Julio Margarita and Wood Fired Pizza made with fresh mozzarella and covered in mustard blossoms, arugula blossoms, and chive blossoms.  You might be wondering, how was this flower pizza?  Let me tell you, it was divine, I would like one now, and every day for the rest of eternity. 

Flower Pizza.  All day, every day.  Please.
After a tour of the farm, we were welcomed to pick herbs for our own Farm to Shaker cocktails, but I was distracted by chilly, running streams.  Clearly, my feet needed to be in said running streams.

We were treated to a gorgeous lunch of a Raw & Grilled Baby Lettuce Salad with Pickled Ramp Vinaigrette and Almonds; Wood Roasted Root Vegetables; Fregola Salad with Asparagus, Ramps, Spring Onions, and Mint Pesto; and the most incredible Beef Tenderloin served medium rare and perfect.  We sipped on Don Julio 1942, and toasted Chef Darren Weston and the gorgeous weather.

Chef Darren Weston
We had the opportunity to select herbs for our own mini herb garden boxes.  I selected Chocolate Basil, Orange Basil, and Lemon Verbena, now growing in Brooklyn for my garnishing delight!

Back to the Airstream for more cocktails (and selfies).  My favorite was a tipple called El Diablo made with Don Julio Reposado Tequila, Lejay Creme de Cassis, fresh lime juice, topped with ginger beer.  Gorgeous and Delicious!

El Diablo!
Airstream Selfies!
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and so did our utopian day at Blooming Hill Farm.  Thank yous to Don Julio Tequila and to Blooming Hill Farm for the incredible day!

Craving a tequila cocktail??  Me too.
Below are a few summery recipes - one for El Diablo, and two low alcohol tipples great for all day sipping!  Enjoy!

El Diablo

1-1/2 oz Don Julio Reposado tequila
1/2 oz Lejay creme de cassis
1/2 oz lime juice
Ginger beer

Pour the tequila and lime juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake well.  Strain into a glass filled with fresh ice, and top with ginger beer.  Using a spiral handled bar spoon, sink the creme de cassis to the bottom of the glass.

Highway 71
Created by Thomas Waugh

1 oz Tequila Don Julio Añejo
1/2 oz Coconut Infused Sweet Vermouth
1 dash Chocolate Molé Bitters
Smoked Cinnamon Stick for Garnish

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube.
Garnish with a smoked cinnamon stick. 
For the Coconut Infused Sweet Vermouth:

1 750 ml bottle Sweet Vermouth
1 cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes

Add sweetened coconut flakes to a bottle of Sweet Vermouth.  Let sit for 2 hours.  Strain out coconut and add liquid back to the bottle.  Store in the refrigerator. 

Don Siegel

Created by Thomas Waugh

1 oz Tequila Don Julio Reposado
1/3 oz Dry Amontillado Sherry
1/3 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/3 oz Agave Nectar Syrup
1 tsp Apricot Liqueur
1 tsp Mezcal
Angostura Bitters
Cracked Ice
Mint Sprigs for Garnish

Combine Tequila Don Julio Reposado, dry amontillado sherry, fresh lime juice, agave nectar syrup, apricot liqueur and mezcal into a shaker. Shake Well.  Pour contents into a Collins Glass over cracked ice.  Top withe a few dashes of Angostura Bitters and garnish with a mint sprig.

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