Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ginger Apple Rum Punch

I don't know about you, but it sure doesn't feel like December around here.  Maybe it's the unseasonably warm weather or maybe it's that I've been working like a maniac for all of fall and barely noticed what day of the week it was, but either way, how is it December already?!?!

Weather you like it or not, holiday punches are upon us and if your family is anything like mine, they are demanding a new punch every year!  This Ginger Apple Punch is great served cold or hot, and is a nice and refreshing libation that is a welcome reprieve from your Aunt Mauve's Eggnog.  Apples and Ginger go together perfectly, and I love using Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer for this recipe.  It is made with naturally fermented ginger that is steeped for 6 weeks, which gives it its powerful ginger flavor.  This cocktail is a crowd pleaser and is perfect to serve to large groups – it’s sweet, spicy, and has just enough spicy kick to keep everyone wanting more. 

If you are serving this punch chilled, remember to prepare the sour mix and the tea ahead of time so that it has time to cool prior to mixing.  I recommend pre-mixing a few batches on hand – this punch will go quickly!

Ginger Apple Rum Punch
Adapted by Gastronomista

1-1/2 parts Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
2 parts Homemade Sour Mix
1 part Apple Juice
1 part strong Apple Tea
2 parts Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer

Build in a pitcher and garnish with bay leaves, whole cinnamon sticks, and apple slices.

Homemade Sour Mix
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
½ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
Simmer on med-high heat until all the sugar has dissolved.  Wait until cool and add lemon and lime juice.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in a non-reactive container. 


Styling Notes:
Lismore Pitcher - Waterford
Cocktail Picks - West Elm
Bottle Opener - Vintage
Tumblers - Vintage
Silver Plate - Vintage

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.

Owl's Brew Holiday 2016 Campaign

Excited to share some of my recent styling work with all of you: the Owl's Brew Holiday 2016 Campaign!  The photos turned out beautifully and they are getting me excited for the holiday season! 

I have included the recipes as well for your imbibing pleasure.  Enjoy!

Jingle Bell Gin - Photo by Brent Herrig

Jingle Bell Gin

2 parts Owl’s Brew Grapefruit Collins
1 part Gin

Shake with ice and pour into a Collins glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Brandy Bird - Photo by Brent Herrig

Brandy Bird
2 parts Owl’s Brew Salted Caramel Toddy
1 part Brandy

Combine ingredients and heat, but do not boil. Pour into heat safe glass.

Winter Wine - Photo by Brent Herrig

Winter Wine
1 part Owl’s Brew Mulling Spices
1 part Red Wine

Combine ingredients and heat, but do not boil. Pour into heat safe glass.
Can also be enjoyed chilled.

Island Spice - Photo by Brent Herrig

Island Spice
2 parts Owl’s Brew Mulling Spices
1 part Dark Rum

Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a coupe and float star anise on top.

If anyone is interested in hiring me for cocktail styling and/or photography - please email me directly at


Monday, November 28, 2016

Bergamot Rose Martini

Those of you who read Gastronomista on a regular basis know how much I love a Martini, and even more so, a creative twist on a Martini.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the Martini is a perfect cocktail to showcase subtle and complex flavors, especially if the base spirit is vodka.  The vodka acts like a prism, and pulls apart all of the different layers of flavor found in vermouths, bitters, and other modifying spirits.

Bergamot has been on my mind as of late, the flowery citrus fruit grown in Calabria, Italy that is used to make Earl Grey Tea.  It has such a lovely and unique flavor: a combination of the familiar citrus flavors of orange and grapefruit, aromas of fresh flowers, with a bittersweet finish.

I have been playing around with Everclear in my home bar - the high proof grain spirit typically used to make bitters, liqueurs, and tinctures.  Naturally, I was inspired to make a Bergamot Tincture - a simple infusion of Bergamot peel and Everclear left to rest for a few weeks.

The result was everything I hoped it would be, a sweet and aromatic tincture that is saturated with flavors of citrus, flowers, and a touch of bitterness.  I used this tincture in a vermouth heavy Martini with a few drops of Black Cloud Prairie Rose bitters to give the Bergamot more flavors to play with, resulting in a gorgeous and refreshing floral cocktail. 

Without further ado, the Bergamot and Rose-Water Martini:

Bergamot and Rose-Water Martini
Created by Gastronomista

2 oz Vodka
1 oz Bianco Vermouth
1/4 Dropper of Bergamot Tincture
2-3 Dashes Black Cloud Prairie Rose Bitters

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

For the Bergamot Tincture:

6 oz Everclear
1/4 cup Dried Bergamot Peels

Let sit for 2-3 weeks, let steep until preferred flavor is reached.

Styling Notes:
Mixing Glass - Robin Mix
Coupe - Waterford Mixology Coupes
Silver Plate - Vintage

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

Monday, October 31, 2016

Campari America Spirited Interview Series - Michael Pazdon & Chris Gatchell

The next installment in my Campari America Spirited Interview Series leads us to Kittery, Maine and to The Wallingford, a jewel of a cocktail bar in an unlikely place.  On a recent trip to Maine to visit my husband's family he brought me to The Wallingford, a spot he knew that I would instantly fall in love with - and he was right.  As soon as we opened the door I was convinced.  It's a tiny little bar, 20 seats maybe, and it is perfectly styled with old nautical photos, vintage etched glassware, marble bar tops, homemade bitters, and vintage crystal glasses filled with fresh garnishes and fresh flowers. 

The Wallingford is so surprising and unexpected because it is the quality and caliber of cocktail bar typically found in a large city, and yet it is in an old fishing town in Maine.  The Wallingford was started by Michael Pazdon, who cut his teeth in New York City and on the West Coast in Napa Valley.  Years later he teamed up with James Gatchell who is another creative force behind the bar, and it is clear that they are a dynamic duo.

I'm really excited to share their interview with you - they are a true inspiration for anyone looking to create a place of world class caliber in the most unlikely of places..

* * * * *

Gastronomista:  Michael, what inspired you to open The Wallingford, and what was your path to get to this point?  Why did you choose Kittery?  What do you love about running a cocktail bar in Kittery?

Michael Pazdon: While I grew up about 35 minutes from Kittery, Maine, where I opened The Wallingford about a year and a half ago.  I left the area in the late nineties, and spent most of my career in New York City and California.  New York was where I learned to bartend.  I moved there in 1999 to finish college, was originally on the way to doing other things, but fell fully in love with the food and drink world. 

The 2000’s were a great time to be a bartender in New York; it was the start of the cocktail renaissance and there were all of these amazing people trying new and different things.  I learned just as much visiting friends and their bars as I did trying things out behind my own, and every day I felt pushed to read more, learn more, to grow.

After 11 years in New York, I moved to Napa Valley and ended up staying there for over 5 years.  Napa was an important growth period for me.  It is a place that’s very different from New York, but also full of inspiring talent and passion for flavors, ingredients, execution.  My first job there was at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Calistoga.  The kitchen team was incredibly tight and that drove me to up my game on the cocktail program.  Half-way through my time in Napa, I also got the opportunity to team up with Scott Beattie, who basically created his own style of left-coast cocktails early in his career.  We collaborated on an awesome bar program at The Goose and Gander, in St. Helena, as well as a number of consulting projects.  It was a wonderful run. 

At a certain point, however, the northeast called me home, and I basically fell in to the opportunity to open The Wallingford in Kittery, which has a vibrant community and an impressive food scene for such a small town.  What’s so wonderful about running this bar in this town is that many of our regulars have either lived in other places where world class cocktail bars exist or at least travel to such places regularly for business.  Many of them take a great deal of pride in the fact that their small town now contains a spot where the commitment to craft and quality of execution is in line with the places that they might visit in New York, San Francisco, London, etc.  There’s a great deal of gratitude, and that is really the most gratifying part of the whole thing for me.  Of course, the bar is a business, but we get to go to work feeling like we are actually contributing the quality of life in our community.

Knock  Life - Coconut Oil Washed Bourbon, Orgeat, Honey, Passionfruit, Lemon, Vanilla

Chris Gatchell:  After working in Portland, Maine, a small city/big town environment, I was interested to both work in a smaller and more locally-focused concept, and as well to work with someone that had more experience on the national scene, which is not a very common combination.  I was fortunate to be introduced to the Wallingford by a mutual connection.  I had already held Kittery and it’s community in high regard, and when it all came together, I knew that it was the place for me.

Gastronomista:  How did you two meet and decide to work together?  What is the creative process between the two of you?

Michael:  Chris came in one night with a mutual acquaintance and indicated that he might be interested in moving down to the Kittery area from Portland.  It was pretty good timing, as I was looking to expand the staff at the Wallingford, which, for the first year, was mostly a staff of one other bartender and myself… that’s fine for the first year of a small bar, but it was time for the family to grow.  From the start of the bar, the list and design had been mostly me, but as we add depth to the staff, creative decisions are bandied around in the group.  It’s essential as an owner to open up a space where everyone’s input and eyes are encouraged to flourish and operate.  We are better together.  It’s great having someone like Chris around, as both of us have a history of managing bars, but with our own styles… it helps to hone the long-term vision.

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

Chris: Rudders Public House, as well as a few establishments in Portland I frequent based on the people and vibe. Hot Suppa for breakfast or lunch, Ruskis for the same or a late night chase of last call, but primarily I’ll go to bars because of the great people behind them. Henry Yost and Josh Miranda come to mind. As the programming side goes, I am excited about what Tom Ardia is doing in Lewiston at Marche. Consistent programming and really working hard to amplify cocktails in a community sated with domestic draughts, macro-brews and jello shots. He’s also a really nice guy.

Michael:  Yeah, Rudd’s… it’s the bar that’s open when we get the rare quick close and it’s full of warm faces and they pour and excellent shot of rye whiskey.  The Black Birch is a great restaurant right across the alley from us, and their cocktail game is tight.  Up in Portland, Hunt and Alpine is solid and well thought-out.  The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box is a great spot to check out as well… quirky, intentional and always fun.

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?

Michael:  Probably any bar in Cuba before the revolution… and yeah, I wouldn’t say no to a drink with Hemingway, but we probably wouldn’t get along.  I’d settle for a beautiful American divorcee.

Chris: As much as beautiful Amercian Divorcees’ are my strong suit I’d probably just have followed Benjamin Franklin around to any old bar or tavern. Wealth of knowledge, drunk all day, and was pretty well liked in areas he shouldn’t have been.

Northsea Lineman - Rye, Islay Single Malt, Punt e Mes, Maraschino, Bitters, Salt
Gastronomista:  How have you seen the trend towards brown spirits (ie: whiskies, aged tequilas, aged rum) affect your bar menu and the preference of your customers?

Michael:  It’s funny, I remember a time when the choice to stock more spirits of character felt like a bold statement; when cutting down on your vodka (especially flavored vodka) stock felt like a risk.  Now, even here in a small market, we feel no need to stock the fluff, but not so much because we are making a statement but actually because it doesn’t sell.  We mostly see people pre-meditatively coming to the bar to seek out a new label or niche spirit that might expand their horizons.  As far as the cocktail menu is concerned, I always try to make it approachable, leading with a vodka drink as a statement of “hey, this is familiar, you’re welcome here.”  Deeper down the menu, things get weirder, the spirits darker.  That said, I’ve found that the overall experience of the bar encourages a lot of trust with our guests.  I do always stand behind that vodka drink at the top of the menu, but it’s also kind of great to see it not top the list in our sales reports.

Chris:  The trend towards brown spirits, I think, is reaching an interesting point of maturity.  It used to be all about an interaction prompted by someone raising their eyes above you to check out your shelf, basically to assess and reaffirm what they themselves already knew.  The great thing now is that guests want to interact about aged rums or oak aged gins, and that kind of engaged dialogue makes our jobs easier… though, yeah, some just still want to see if you have any Pappy left.

Gastronomista:  What other Mixologists inspire you and why?

Chris:  This guy!  I work for and with Michael for many reasons. Inspiration is a huge piece of that. It would be nice for me to have a larger base of Bartenders/Mixologists to judge from but truly being local to a community or area and being aware of the things seasonal to us is what makes New England so unique. I have learned in a short amount of time working here that the adhering to the rationale of why you do something, and doing that thing with warmth is always the best approach. Michael has taught me long game, I am inspired by that.

Michael:  There are, of course, many.  Scott Beattie and my time working together was always inspiring.  Joaquin Simo has inspired me in many ways.  The whole Proprietors Inc team (Death & Co, Honeycut, The Walker Inn) is an inspiration in the ways that they reconsider what the future of the craft cocktail bar in America can be.  Dave Arnold, because, Dave Arnold.

The Nina-Pinta - White Rum, Spanish Vermouth, Fino Sherry, Campari, Lime Oil

Gastronomista:  Your bar is gorgeous!  Do you have any tips for styling your bar so that it is beautiful for your customers? 

Michael:  I think the most important thing is to start with the space and make sure that the concept that you want to execute is appropriate.  You can’t force things if the space is mismatched.  We started with a super-small retail space that basically demanded a certain intimacy that shaped all of our other decisions.  Think about how it all works together, listen to the music that you imagine playing while thinking about glassware and design choices.  Mostly though DO YOU… don’t be married to the idea that you have to design things in any particular way.. it’s great to learn from other bars and we all borrow ideas from each other, but you and your staff are going to spend a lot of time in your bar… make sure you really and truly love it there.  That kind of honesty and caring will pass on to the guest and they will love to be there as well.

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

The Dovetail

Recipe Courtesy of The Wallingford

1 oz Espolon Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
1/2 oz Combier Pampelmousse Rose
1/4 oz Agave Nectar Syrup
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz eggwhite
5 drops salt tincture
Dry shake, shake with ice, double strain over fresh ice and garnish with a marigold flower and leaves.

Knock Life

Knock Life
Recipe Courtesy of The Wallingford

1-1/2 oz Coconut Oil-washed Russell's Reserve Bourbon
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz honey syrup
1/4 oz house passionfruit syrup
1/4 oz house orgeat
10 drops house vanilla tincture
1 dash angostura bitters.
Hard shake, double strain into a coupe.  Garnish with a Griottine cherry on a pick.

For more follow The Wallingford on Instagram or stop by and visit them IRL:

The Wallingford
7 Wallingford Sq, Unit 101
Kittery, ME 03904
(207) 703-4298

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Coconut Shiso Matcha Julep

I like a good challenge.  Maybe there is something masochistic about me, but I truly enjoy the creative process of making something amazing when I once thought it was impossible. 

Which brings me to this cocktail.  Everclear came to me and asked me to create a cocktail made with Everclear as the primary spirit.  I kept asking myself - why would you want to use a flavorless, odorless high-proof alcohol instead of vodka?  I chatted with a bartender friend about the challenge and he recommended that I make a Julep - the classic cocktail that is essentially sugar, spirit, and crushed ice, and the ice melts to make a perfectly proportioned cocktail.  A higher proof spirit would mean that I could use less volume for booze in the cocktail, and have more room for other ingredients and other flavors!

As you know, I have a longstanding obsession with shiso leaves, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to create a cocktail with the delicate flavors of Matcha and shiso - a Matcha Julep!  With a generous pour of coconut water, a splash of Everclear, and a dash of Honey Water to sweeten the cocktail, this cocktail everything I hoped it would be: delicate, smooth, and loaded with the fresh green flavors of green tea and shiso - with a tiki twist. 

I hope you enjoy this cocktail as much as I do!

Coconut Shiso Matcha Julep
Created by Gastronomista

1/4 Teaspoon Matcha
1 oz Honey Water
1 oz Everclear
4 oz Coconut Water
6 Dashes Charred Pineapple Bitters
4 Shiso Leaves

In a cocktail shaker muddle the Matcha, Honey Water, and the Shiso Leaves.  Add Everclear, Coconut Water, and Bitters, and shake with ice.  Strain into a julep cup and top with crushed ice.  Garnish with a slice of fresh pineapple and a fresh orchid.

23.75 Proof per Cocktail

If you love this cocktail I recommend you take a moment to check out Everclear's Make It Your Own webpage - it's filled with gorgeous photos and delicious recipes for bitters, infusions, and delicious cocktails. 

Styling Notes:
Thermal Glasses - Bodum
Gold Straws - W&P
Wood Trivet & Wood Muddler - Pat Kim

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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Black Diablo

Halloween cocktails are always so much fun, they are always my favorite of the holiday-themed cocktail variety.  More than anything Halloween is a perfect excuse to use charcoal capsules in just about anything.  This year, I'm doing a darker take on the Diablo, the classic cocktail made with reposado tequila, lime juice, crème de cassis, and ginger beer.  This version layers the different parts of the cocktail and does not use ice, so make sure all of your ingredients are chilled before serving.

Black Diablo

Adapted by Emily Arden Wells of Gastronomista

1-1/2 oz Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Crème de Cassis
4 oz Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer (Chilled)
1/2 Activated Charcoal Capsule

Combine tequila and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice until cold.  In a highball glass, pour the crème de cassis on the bottom of the glass.  Using the back of a spoon, carefully pour the tequila and lime juice mixture as to not disrupt the layer of crème de cassis, followed by ice-cold Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer.  Open a charcoal capsule and pour half of the contents onto the surface of the drink.  Gently stir the charcoal into the top of the cocktail creating the black layered effect.  Garnish with a brandied cherry (or three) and finish with a festive straw. 


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.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rémy Martin's "La Maison Experience" in NYC, Chicago, and LA

Attention all lovers of brown spirits: Rémy Martin Cognac is hosting a travelling pop-up interactive experience starting this month in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, La Maison Rémy Martin.  The experience is sure to be a beautifully curated peek into cognac; from the grapes on the vine, to the blending process, to the magical caves where cognac is aged.  La Maison is unique because it is also an incredible networking opportunity for creatives and entrepreneurs.

Additionally, Master-classes are scheduled each night, each one hosted by talented creatives who dedicate their lives to music, entrepreneurship, culinary arts, and visual arts - all with a glass of Rémy Martin cognac in hand. 

Space is limited, so click quickly and claim your spot now!

La Maison Rémy Martin

New York City - October 21-23
Chicago - November 4-6
Los Angeles - November 18-20

To get you warmed up for the event, here's a Vieux Carré (pronounced voh care-eh), one of my favorite cognac cocktails that was created at the Carousel Bar, the New Orleans classic.  It's a wonderful tipple that is made with cognac, rye whiskey, Benedictine, Vermouth, and lots of bitters. 


Vieux Carré

3/4 oz Rémy Martin 1738 Cognac
3/4 oz Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 barspoon Bénédictine
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

Lemon Peel to Garnish, Cherry Optional

Stir and strain into a chilled low ball glass.  Twist a lemon peel on top, and float on the surface of the drink.

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

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!

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.

Share This!