Sunday, August 23, 2015

Roasted Cherry Cocktails on Saveur.com!



I'm so excited to share the video I shot with Saveur.com where I share some of my favorite summery cocktails made with grilled cherries!  Head on over to Saveur for the full article!

Spoiler Alert: There's Fire!  And Rum!


Cherry Vodka Old Fashioned
Cherry Shandy
Coconut Cherry Colada

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thank You Liquor.com!

Huge thank yous are in order to Liquor.com for naming Gastronomista as one of the top 5 Drinking Blogs You Should Be Reading Right Now as the "Lifestyle Guru"!  AND a mention about our new Shop!

Please click through to see the full article, and all the other boozy blogs mentioned.  Many thanks to Liquor.com for this awesome honor!

Cheers!

Gastronomista: Top Drinking & Cocktail Blog

Friday, August 14, 2015

Rummy Cherry Colada Popsicles


About a month ago I was asked by Metro International to create a recipe for a boozy popsicle, and I created a really delicious recipe using rum, coconut, and grilled cherries (a favorite combination of mine right now).  Metro International published said recipe and my photos without crediting the recipe nor the image to me, nor linking back to my website (grumble grumble grumble).  SO I am sharing it here with all of you, and publicly claiming ownership of my recipe.  I hope you enjoy it, especially as we head into the dog days of summer, when rum and fruit in frozen form is a necessity for survival.

  
Rummy Cherry Colada Popsicles
Created by Gastronomista

Layer 1:
1 oz White Rum such as Bacardi Superior
3 oz Coconut Milk
2 oz Coconut Water
2T Toasted Coconut Shavings

Shake in a Cocktail Tin, and Pour into Popsicle Molds and let freeze.

Layer 2:
1 Cup Baked Cherries*
2 oz Extra Dark Rum such as Bacardi Black
5 oz Coconut Milk
20 Dashes Barrel Aged Bitters

Blend in a blender on full speed, when all the fruit is chopped, pour into popsicle molds, add popsicle sticks, and freeze.

Enjoy!


Baked Cherries

Cut cherries in half, and remove pits.  Place cherries on a baking tray with tin foil, and place in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove and let cool. 

Weekend Guide: Spritz Party!



It is still very much summer, and libations are very much in order!  There is nothing, and I mean nothing more tasty than an Aperol Spritz in the heat of the summer!

I was invited to host an Aperol party this summer with some of my besties, so I called up my girlfriends from graduate school, packed up my adorable Spritz Kit, we fired up the grill, and toasted the summer with spritzes in hand!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

First Taste - Jameson Caskmates

Brothers of Another Mother

Tales of the Cocktail brings some of the world's most influential bartenders, writers, bar owners, and (ahem) influencers to New Orleans, making it an ideal place for companies to introduce new products.  This year I tasted many new products, but the one that I am the most excited about is  Jameson Caskmates.


The story starts out exactly how you want it to (ie not in a boardroom).

This story starts with two guys in a bar.  Drinking beer.  Drinking really amazing Irish Beer side by side with a pour of Jameson.  One guy is the "Head of Whiskey Science" at Jameson, David Quinn, the other is the Founder and Brew Master of Franciscan Well, Shane Long.  Long asked Quinn for a few spare barrels to age his beer, and Quinn happily obliged.

Shane Long of Franciscan Well and David Quinn of Midleton Distillery
Franciscan Well received a dozen of 2nd fill barrels, who filled them with their signature stout and let them age for a time ranging between 1 month minimum and 3 months, carefully controlling the time and temperature of the barrels to achieve the desired aging affects.  The result is a stout that is creamy and velvety with flavors of chocolate pie and toasted nuts, and a distinct sweet and sour flavor that comes from the Jameson barrels.


The barrels were then sent back to Jameson, where Quinn filled them with barrel strength Jameson (60% ABV) that was on its way to the bottling line.  He then forgot about the barrels.

5 months later the warehouse manager came back to Quinn and asked him what he wanted to do with the barrels.  Not expecting much, they opened one of them and tasted the whiskey.  They were surprised to find that the creamy chocolate flavors of the stout had transferred back to the whiskey!  The result is reminiscent of the Jameson you know and love, but with aromas of toasted oats, green apple, coffee, and caramel, and flavors of chocolate pie, caramel, hops, dark cherries, and dark chocolate with a long butterscotch finish and a hint of pepper.

Jameson, Jameson Cask aged Franciscan Well, Jameson Caskmates
Head of Whiskey Science - David Quinn

Needless to say, if you see Caskmates in the liquor store.  Buy it.  Buy two.  With only 3,500 bottles produced, this delicious release is going to go fast.   

- - - - -

Following the tasting we moved on to the Pot Still room where we tasted a few other rare releases from the Midleton distillery including the delicious Very Rare and the wonderfully complex Asylum Seeker Red Breast cocktail.


The Asylum Seeker

Asylum Seeker

2 oz. Redbreast 12
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
¾ oz. coffee/chicory syrup
¼ oz. pecan syrup
1 dash Pernod Absinthe
3 blackberries

Shake the ingredients, and pour over crushed ice into a highball glass. Garnish with blackberries.


After the tasting I indulged in a delicious Jameson and Ginger Slushie, the perfect antidote to the New Orleans summer heat.  This is one recipe I need to figure out how to make if I'm ever going to survive New York's heat this summer...  Suggestions are welcome.


 Read more about the Pernod Ricard Welcome Party 2015 Here >>


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Friday, July 31, 2015

Pernod Welcome Party - Tales of the Cocktail 2015


For a cocktailing lady such as myself, no other events in the imbiber's annual calendar are as highly anticipated as Tales of the Cocktail - the debaucherous week dedicated to all things boozy, hosted in the original city of sin, New Orleans.  Tales offers something for everyone: seminars, tasting rooms, lunches, extravagant dinners, and legendary parties.  One of the most talked about parties is always the Pernod Ricard Welcome Party, an event never to be missed.

Traditionally, the welcome party is dedicated to Absolut Vodka, but this year the party featured the entire Pernod Ricard portfolio, giving opportunities for imbibers to sample cocktails ranging from Sazeracs to Frozen Negronis.  This year's welcome party had another noticeable change - a move away from batched cocktails (other than the frozen daiquiris) and towards cocktails hand-prepared by notable bartenders from all over the world. 

Frozen Daiquiris!
Speaking of Frozen Negronis, one of my favorite bars of the party was the Frozen Daiquiri Bar that was filled with delicious craft cocktails, but frozen and extra refreshing.  The featured cocktails included White Russians (yum), Green Beasts (one of my favorites from previous years at Tales of the Cocktail), Irish Coffee (for those needing a jolt), and the legendary Beefeater Negroni.  There is nothing and I mean -nothing- more refreshing than a frozen daiquiri in a New Orleans summer.  I tried them all, I tried a suicide (all flavors mixed together), but settled on the Irish Coffee for my favorite of the evening.  Yum.


Adrienne Stillman of Dipsology and her Suicide Daiquiri
Another of my favorite bars was the Ramos Gin Fizz Assembly Line where bartenders shook and passed Ramos Fizzes while chatting with guests.  The fizzies were fluffy and silky after so much shaking, and I'm sure there were a few sore arms the next day....

Ramos Gin Fizz Assembly Line
Shakin'!
Altos Tequila Pirata de Natchez cocktails made with Pineapple, lime, Mexican Spices, and Negra Modelo were a refreshing yet spicy pick me up, followed by Lot 40 Sazeracs prepared by the ever lovely Lynnette Marrero and Frankie Marshall.  I've been on the Canadian Whiskey bandwagon for a while now, so I'll spare you the monologue, BUT for those of you who haven't yet seen the light about the deliciousness of Canadian Whiskey - be convinced.

Altos Tequila - El Pirata de Natchez
Lynnette Marrero & Lot 40
Lot 40 Sazerac
Onward to the Absolut Room where there was a giant dance party, photobooths, and of course, giant Absolut bottles covered in Mardi Gras beads.  There was also a tasting of Oak by Absolut - the new product from Absolut - an aged vodka that is oak forward, and has some interesting mixing potential. 

Mardi Gras Absolut Bottles

Another of my favorite cocktails from the evening was the Martell Cognac Crusta prepared by Chris McMillian and Dave Wondrich.  A beautiful hand-crafted cocktail complete with that addictive sugar rim.  

Martell Cognac Crusta

Perhaps the highlight of the night (other than catching up with friends and drinking delicious cocktails) was the performance by the Rebirth Brass Band in the Jameson Room.  Sadly, I didn't get any notable photos, so i leave you with this, my favorite Rebirth Brass Band song - Casanova


The night rolled on (and so did I) to enjoy many other cocktails.  I did make it to bed (eventually) and what an amazing bed it was.  Behold:


The Ritz!
Now the waiting begins - the countdown to TOTC 2016 and next year's Welcome Party!  I'm craving a Frozen Daiquiri already!


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Monday, July 20, 2015

Stone Fruit Vodka Old Fashioned with Hangar 1 Vodka

 
I was recently invited to Summer Fête with Hangar 1 Vodka to drink delicious summery cocktails and chat with their Master Distiller, Caley Shoemaker.  It was a lovely event - delicious drinks, gorgeous nibbles, and everyone who came to the party was able to bring home their own bottle of Hangar 1 Straight Vodka painted by Katie Rodgers, aka Paper Fashion.

Hand Painted Bottles
Hangar 1 Straight Vodka is unique because it is made of a blend of pot-distilled wine grapes and column-distilled Midwestern Wheat, a process that gives the vodka a nice fruity flavor that marries beautifully with other fruit flavors.  Given that it's summertime and there is an abundance of fresh produce right now, I wanted to create my own summery infusion with fresh cherries and apricots - one of my favorite summer fruit combinations.  I put the fruit in a small glass bottle, topped it off with the vodka, and let it sit for about a week.

Apricot Cherry Infused Vodka
When it comes to cocktails, often a simple cocktail showcases a spirit best, and I wanted all those fresh fruit flavors to come through in this drink.  I immediately thought of a spin on an old fashioned - but with vodka!?!?!  I know, it feels like sacrilege!  Stick with me people - it's delicious.


I roasted up some more cherries (cut in half, 10 minutes at 400 degrees), and then muddled one whole cherry with a barspoon of sugar.  The roasted cherries caramelize and become extra sweet and delicious, becoming the perfect syrup for an old fashioned!  I added my apricot-cherry infused vodka, a barspoon of Amaro di Angostura and Barrel Aged Forbidden Bitters to give the cocktail a bit of barrel spiciness, rounding out the drink beautifully. Top it off with fresh apricot, half of a roasted cherry, and a sprig of Tarragon to add a bit of freshness. 

And just like that, I've found my new favorite summer drink.

Enjoy!





Stone Fruit Vodka Old Fashioned
Created by Gastronomista

2 oz Apricot Cherry Infused Hangar 1 Straight Vodka
1 Barspoon Demerara Sugar
1 Whole Roasted Cherry
1 Barspoon Amaro di Angostura
5 Dashes Miracle Mile Barrel Aged Forbidden Bitters
2 Apricot Slices and 1/2 Roasted Cherry to Garnish
Tarragon Sprig to Garnish

Muddle roasted cherries in the bottom of a glass with a barspoon of Demerara Sugar.  Add Vodka, Amaro, Bitters, and stir.  Add a large ice cube, and garnish with two slices of fresh apricot, topped with half of a roasted cherry and a sprig of fresh Tarragon. 


Roasted Cherries

Cut cherries in half and place on a baking pan.  Roast for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.


Apricot-Cherry Infused Vodka

Thinly Slice 1 Apricot and a handful of cherries.  Place into a non-reactive bottle, an top with vodka.  Let sit for 1-2 weeks, and enjoy!

Pro Tip: Cut the fruit extra thin so it will easily come out of the bottle when you're finished!



Styling Notes
Glasses - Parched Penguin
Gold Cocktail Picks - Parched Penguin
Silver Fruit Stand - Grandma Gastronomista

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Christie's Wine Online - Preview of the All American Sale



Last week I was invited to New York's Polo Bar to preview a selection of this month's wine auction at Christie's Wine Online: The All American Sale. The wine team pulled 9 bottles from the impressive collection to share with a group of writers and collectors, all of which were amazing. The wines ranged from 1991 to 1997, but all Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley. 


Wine, being the wild entity that it is, can be difficult to predict how it will taste in 20 years, but fortunately all of the bottles we tasted showed extremely well. The diverse range of flavors varied tremendously from bottle to bottle, each with its own distinct (and delicious) flavors, aromas, and textures.

Some of the highlights of the evening included the Heitz Cellar from 1991, which had notes of eucalyptus and mint mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon's signature fruit forward profile, and a velvety earthiness. The La Jota Anniversary Release from 1997 was fruity and peppery, incredibly smooth earthiness with flavors of stone fruits, cherries, and black currants with hints of fresh sage, a sleeper hit that opened up in the glass beautifully. Another amazing offering was the Opus One 1995, an incredibly complex wine that was fruity and rubbery on the nose, with a savory brininess that offered more and more flavors as time went on including dark chocolate, cherries - a Pandora's box of flavors in a glass. I also enjoyed the Joseph Phelps Insignia 1995, which was full of minerality, stone fruit, prunes, and a minty finish.



For those who love Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons, this sale is not to be missed. The Christie's team has done their due diligence, scouting wine collections all over the country, checking the condition of wine cellars and curating the sale bottle by bottle. 




Some of the other lots that caught my eye: a range of Screaming Eagle from 1996-2011, a pairing of Dominus 1992 and 1994, Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill from 1987 - 1995, an impressive Opus One Vertical with 22 bottles ranging from 1988-2009, and Caymus Special Selections from 1992-2000.

Bidders be ready, the Christie's Wine All American Sale ends Tuesday 7/14 at 12 noon EST.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Looking Back - Bacardí Legacy Global Finals

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Maybe you've heard rumblings at your local watering hole that your favorite bartender just won a competition and that winning drink is now legendary at said watering hole, a secret order for those in the know. But what is it with all these competitions exactly? Every year it seems like another one is created, luring more and more bartenders to enter the competitive circuit. For those not trolling the bartender competition notice pages, the most renowned cocktail competitions include Diageo World Class, Bombay Sapphire World's Most Imaginative Bartender, and Bacardí Legacy.

I was recently invited to Sydney for the Bacardí Legacy Global Finals, an overwhelming event to say the least. It was my first bartender competition, so I came in a little cynical and not knowing what to expect, whereas other writers who live on the competition press circuit seemed to know all the rules and many contestants from previous events.

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The biggest question is, why would a bartender enter a competition? Exposure, of course. Competitions are the fastest way for up and coming talent to get their names out there, and winning opens doors for further opportunities such as brand ambassador positions or being invited to parties and events. Naturally, some bartenders enter the same competitions year after year seeking victory, and travel from one to the next in search of the big 'life-changing' win. For others, Bacardí Legacy was the first taste of what fame might feel like - photo shoots, interviews, and international plane tickets.

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Alissa Gabriel of Australia
 
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Algirdas Mulevicius of Lithuania
 
The Bacardí Legacy competition challenges bartenders to create a cocktail that will "stand the test of time" - a classic that could rival Bacardí's beloved Daiquiri. Bartenders have seven minutes to make their cocktail, whilst showing off just enough bartender flair to make the judges swoon, and to present the inspiration for their drink. This usually includes an over-wrought tale of family loyalty (relating to the family of Bacardí, natch), the homeland, or some other sob story which frankly distracts from the drink itself. Yes, tears were shed on that gilded stage.

The cocktail is then presented to the judges who taste the drink, assess it based on the name, the technical skills of the bartender, aesthetics (read, garnish game), ingenuity & innovation, inspiration, product knowledge, and its ability to stand as a classic cocktail. It should be noted that the audience does not taste the drink.

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Father's Advice - Ready for Judging
 
Before the Semi-Finals were held in Sydney, all of the bartenders were filled with nervous energy - prepping for their presentations, rehearsing their lines, fixing eyeliner and straightening ties. They all seemed to walk a little taller - champions of their own country.

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Ran Duan of The United States of America
 
The Semi-Final announcement was made over a grand dinner at the Sydney NSW Art Gallery, and the finalists included France, China, Lebanon, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, Singapore, and Greece. Again, tears were shed.

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Finals were held at Sydney's Town Hall, where the stage was set beneath a monstrous organ cloaked in red lighting. Surely, the finalists must have felt like heroes on that stage, flanked by enormous screens and surrounded by heroically lit Bacardí bottles.

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Chua Zhibin Peter of Singapore
 
The 2015 winner was Frank Dedieu of France, who created a cocktail called 'Le Latin' made with Bacardí Carta Blanca, Viognier wine, lemon juice, olive brine, and sugar, inspired by his wine making family (and of course, the Bacardí family). In the weeks following the competition, Dedieu has returned to his home bar "Redwood" located in Lyon with much fanfare. "My friend and business partner organized a big party, [and] I have...[celebrated] my victory with my family in the south of France in Montpellier. These moments of happiness with family and friends are priceless", Dedieu shares.

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Le Latin by Frank Dedieu
 
Because cocktail competitions are a relatively new phenomenon, we have yet to see the true impact that winning a competition can have on a bartender's career. Some winners have gone on to create names for themselves, but many are forgotten. Only time will tell what Dedieu does with his victory.

---

The following day, Bacardí sponsored a party for all of the bartenders on Cockatoo Island, a casual Tiki BBQ - a party that Bacardí has mastered. Gone were the ties, the vests, the party dresses, and the carefully styled facial hair. The finalists were relaxed, no longer on edge nor eying their competition, instead they were friendly and enjoying the moment.

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David Cordoba, Bacardí Global Ambassador Flanked by Competitors
 
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Daniele Dalla Pola of Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna
 
Rum filled pineapples were sipped, bottles juggled with suave flair, and the whole experience became crystal clear to me. These competitions are more than just a big branding opportunity - they are an incredible way for talented bartenders to meet other talented bartenders, share ideas and tricks of the trade, they inspire contestants to develop their craft, and to develop mentorships with brand ambassadors who once started behind the bar. These competitions create a vision for what other opportunities exist in the world for a bartender, and they motivate people to shape their own careers.  Most importantly, a great competition creates amazing experiences that bring people together, and that is how you create loyalty.

So - next time you order that secret cocktail at your local watering hole and it's proudly made with Bacardí - now you know why.

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