Friday, November 17, 2017

Booze Blogger Tips: Drinkstagramming vs. Blogging


I've been saying I would start this series for a while now, and instead of waiting for a website re-design (or whatever other excuse was holding me back), I'm just going to start.  Today.

The purpose of this Booze Blogger Tips series is to offer incites to those interested in getting involved with cocktail writing, specifically in the blog world.  In this series I hope to discuss how other bloggers have made it work for them, what content plays well on the internet, what brands are looking for, and how to make money doing it. 

Today, I make more money than I ever thought I could Booze Blogging, but when I started six years ago, drinks blogging was hardly a category and there were barely any paid opportunities (read, none).  There were journalists who focused on the beverage world, and blogging was dominated by food bloggers.  The drinks space was owned by traditional press and print was King.

I remember being extremely frustrated because I didn't want to write cake recipes, I didn't want to be a food blogger, but I was extremely passionate about the cocktail industry.  It took one of my friends saying to me that I had a special for understanding spirits, and I should focus on it. 

So I did.

Six years later Gastronomista won the Saveur Blog Award for Best Drinks Blog in 2015, has been named one of the best cocktail Instagram accounts to follow by many different publications, and I have traveled across the world and back in pursuit of wine, cocktails, and spirits. 

Today, I can feel a sea change happening, Alcohol companies are starting to see the merits of influencer marketing as editorial opportunities are becoming harder and harder to secure.  The future of drinks marketing, like all marketing, lies with influencers (Booze Bloggers, Drinkstagrammers, and the like), and I, for one, am extremely excited to see this category continue to grow.

Over the last few years I have learned a lot, and I want to share some of that knowledge with you.  All questions are welcome, feel free to email me, DM me, or leave comments on this post.  I'm going to try to do one of these every few weeks, so ask away!

On to today's subject:

Drinkstagramming vs. Blogging.  Where to start in the Booze Blogging Biz?

I have noticed so many new cocktail Instagram accounts popping up in the last year, year and a half or so, and I'm so excited to see this new enthusiasm in the drinks category.  I've been incredibly impressed with the quality of the content, from the photos to the recipes to the garnishes.  It is truly inspiring, and helps encourage me to keep pushing the quality of my content!  That said, you need a blog as well, and here's why:

Social Media Platforms Have A Lifespan

Maybe I'm just old school, but I think having a blog is critical to the longevity of your brand.  Yes, Instagram is where most of the action is right now, but as we all know, social media platforms have their moment in the sun and then the trend moves on to the next platform.  Remember Friendster?  Right.

Instagram and Facebook have been fighting the good fight trying to keep their platforms relevant, but there will be another platform that will come along and take over the market.  It's just a matter of time. 

You Don't Own Your Content on Social Media

I know this is an extreme way of thinking, but what if Instagram died tomorrow?  What if all of your content and all of your followers were all of a sudden gone, or obsolete?  What then? 

It's entirely possible.  We as content creators don't own Instagram, we don't own Facebook, and we don't own Twitter.  We don't have a say, we don't have a vote of how things are done or how the platform might change in its next algorithm update.  But you can control your own blog.  It is a space that you can own outright, and make sure that your content is represented the way you want it to be. 

Yes, it is more work, but it is the only way to ensure that your work will have a home forever.

Social Media Isn't Googleable

Cocktails, like recipes, will always be something that people google.  Looking for a pear-infused whiskey sour?  Google it.  Google will not be able to find your recipe from an Instagram post, but it will be able to find it through a blog post. 

The blog will give your content more life and allow posts to be searchable for years to come.  There are posts of mine from 3-4 years ago that still get a lot of traffic, which is always surprising to me.

Unfortunately Instagram posts are as good as dead after a certain amount of time because people simply don't have patience to scroll through my thousands of social media posts to find one specific recipe.  It is exactly that searchable place on the internet that will make content have long-lasting value for brands, which is much more powerful than an Instagram post or two in the long run.  

In short, you need a blog.  Buy that URL you have been eyeing and get started.  Even if it takes you 6 months to launch it, it will be worth it in the end. 


Hit me up with questions in the comments section!


Until next time, Boozers.

e

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Indian Summer with Glenfiddich


Indian Summer is one of my favorite times of the year, those extraordinary warm days at the beginning of fall when it still feels like summer, but just a bit more pleasant.  The heat has broken, but the sun is still bright and warm, and the evenings cool down inviting blankets, sweaters, and maybe even a fire.  It is the beginning of scotch season. 


This year I have returned to one of my old favorites, Glenfiddich, the Speyside single malt that is always a joy to share with friends.  I packed up a few of my favorite bottles (the 12 year, the 14 year, and the IPA Cask), and Seattle based photographer Victoria Wright and I took to the road.  We stayed in a charming cabin in southwestern Colorado and had a proper girl's getaway. 


We partnered with Glenfiddich because we wanted to capture women drinking whisky the way we drink whisky - passionately.  After all, we are two women who love a good dram, especially how it makes us feel more feminine and yet strong at the same time. 




For me, each different mark is so uniquely special.  The 12 year old is fresh, fruity, and delicate, the 14 is powerful and decadent with flavors of caramel and cocoa, and the IPA Cask is such a nice combination of the fresh hoppy flavors in an IPA and the fruity flavors of Glenfiddich 12 year old.  It is almost as though each bottle has its time and its place - each sip cementing a moment into memory. 









Photography: Victoria Wright
Creative Direction: Emily Arden Wells, Gastronomsita
Glassware: Vintage and provided by Glenfiddich
Whisky:  Glenfiddich
Nails: Base Coat, Denver
White 2 Piece: Reformation



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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Campari America Spirited Connections Interview Series: Natasha David

Photo Credit: Eric Medsker

My latest for the Campari America #SpiritedInterview series is about an issue that I care deeply about, and selfishly have a lot of curiosity about.  As a young woman in the spirits industry who would like to have a family one day, I have felt the conflicting pressures of cocktails and motherhood.  I have refused to believe that it was an either / or situation - that if I wanted to have a family that I would have to give up this part of my career that I love so much.  The prospect of sacrificing my career is heartbreaking, just as I imagine it is for so many other women in the cocktail and spirits industry.   

Inspiration comes in funny ways.  Through the magic of Instagram I have watched Natasha David, owner and operator of New York City's NiteCap, take on the challenge of motherhood head on.  She was behind the bar, pregnant, ignoring the bewildered looks of her customers (a woman can work behind the bar and not drink - whaaaattt?)  Then, she gave birth to her adorable son Elliot, and was refreshingly honest about the struggles and joys of being a working mom in an industry that is notoriously demanding on its labor force. 


I knew I wanted to interview her for this series - I wanted her honesty on the record about exactly how much women can do in this industry.  I, for one, am really proud of her.  Her story gives me comfort that I don't have to give up my dreams - or a future of kids, family, and a healthy life/work balance. 

Without further ado, Natasha David:


Gastronomista: Natasha, tell us what inspired you to become a bartender and what you're up to these days?

Natasha David: I moved to New York to attend NYU as a drama major (with a minor in Latin American Studies) and had worked in restaurants, clubs and bars all throughout college to pay my bills. Once I graduated, I obviously thought I would become an actress, and quite honestly was doing pretty well. But everything they say about the acting world is true, and I got sick and tired of auditioning for yet another “exotic mistress,” being on a diet every day of the year, and well, playing the game. I soon found myself looking forward to being behind the bar and dreading my auditions. So I fired my agents and decided to become a bartender.

Nowadays I am the co-owner and operator of Nitecap. I also own a consulting business with my husband, Jeremy Oertel. Current projects are the SoHo Grand Hotel, Roxy Hotel and MADE Hotel. And then I work with a number of brands developing recipes for them.



Gastronomista: Not long ago, you became a mother.  Tell us a bit about the challenges and the amazing discoveries about being a new mom behind the bar - from pregnancy to having a small kiddo.

ND: I’ll be honest—I had a pretty miserable pregnancy! I puked every single day, multiple times a day plus Elliot, my son, decided to hunker down on my sciatic nerve. I had always envisioned myself bartending until the day I pushed him out, but after multiple shifts where I had to run and stick my head in the toilet mid round-building, I decided that was not in the cards for me. But I certainly didn’t stop working.

We had to suddenly move the bar to a new location when I was about six months along, so sitting back with my feet up eating ice cream wasn’t really an option (ha ha!), nor would I have wanted it to be, as I am not the type to sit around. Moving the bar basically meant opening a new bar, and it kept me very busy. I was actually placing a beer order when I went into labor!

Once I had Elliot, I wanted to give myself a month-long maternity leave, but being a very stubborn person, I worked from my hospital bed as I felt a need to support my staff (who would have been totally fine!) during this time of transition for the bar. And this, I think, was a big mistake for me.
Having a child and being a mother has been my number-one goal and desire for as long as I can remember, and the joy that my son gives me is something that cannot, by any means, be expressed in words. And I am going to be completely honest here, I have been suffering from post-partum depression, and I think it’s largely because I didn’t allow myself to step away from work, focus on being a mother and get to know myself and my new identity.

So these past 10 months have been a bit of a rocky journey, but one with many discoveries, good and bad.


Gastronomista: How has becoming a mother changed your professional career, and what have been the greatest takeaways?

ND: It’s incredible how your priorities can literally change from one day to the next. I used to put work before my personal life all the time. Now, Elliot and family time are number one! I am much more picky about the projects I take on. If they are going to take me away from my son, they have to fulfill me in some other way.


Gastronomista: As a young woman with aspirations of having my own family one day, I am in complete awe of what you do on a day-to-day basis.  In fact, I’m thinking of starting an entire series on the blog called, “Lady, how in the world are you doing all of this?”, showcasing women achieving their career goals while raising children.  On that note, how in the world are you doing all of this?

ND: Well, I’m getting by, and so are all of those Instagram moms. This illusion of “balancing it all” isn’t real. And any working mother, if she is being honest with you (perhaps after a couple of drinks) will tell you the same. Being a working mother is not easy, but it is VERY worth it! It helps that I have an incredible partner on this journey who will literally bring Elliot to Nitecap for 30 minutes just so I can see him, who will pick up shifts so that I don’t have to work as much and who will drop everything if Elliot or I need something.

The bar world is not a traditional setting for raising a child—odd hours, loooong hours, no sick days, no health insurance—but the bar does have an intensely loyal sense of community and a willingness to be flexible, two qualities that I are more valuable than any of that other stuff.

Although being a mother is my number-one priority, I obviously still have goals for my career, and I have very happily tweaked those a little because my focus is my family. So yes, you can have it all if you are willing and open to accept change.





Gastronomista: How has the team at Nitecap supported your life as a new mom?

ND: I don’t even know where to start on this answer. Alex and Dave are pretty much the most wonderful partners in the world. We were friends before being business partners, so having that personal connection certainly helps. I was actually nervous telling them I was pregnant, but they were both overjoyed when I told them; they just rolled with the punches and listened to my needs.  I recently took a little three-week leave of absence to tackle my post-partum depression, and they didn’t flinch and did everything they could to support me.

And when it comes to the staff, well they have been a dream! My head bartender, Lauren Corriveau, has shouldered most of the burden and has done so gracefully and with no complaint. We are very, very lucky to have a real family at Nitecap—the team really cares and is invested in the bar and in every individual that is part of it, so they all go the extra mile. Additionally they all love Elliot and are so great with him.

It makes me very happy to know that Elliot is growing up in such a loving community.



Gastronomista: What advice would you have for bar owners / managers who want to be as supportive as possible to new mothers?

ND: PAID MATERNITY AND PATERNITY LEAVE!!! I know this is difficult for small businesses—trust me, I am one—but it’s so important. So get creative, maybe start a little savings account and put in $50 a week, and then you have a reserve so that when the time comes, your mamas and papas can take the time that they NEED with their new families.

I would also say offer your staff financial planning seminars. It’s SO important if you want to start a family.

And if you are a staff member on a team with someone who has a child, be understanding and be willing to be flexible. It will be much appreciated in a way that you can’t even imagine.



Gastronomista: You recently relocated to Red Hook, New York.  How has the moved changed your life, and what is in store for you next?

ND: We haven’t moved quite yet! My mother, who is moving from Seattle, purchased a home that we can all live in together. I’m not quite sure what the future holds to be completely frank. I do know that I am over carrying a stroller up to my 4th floor walk-up every day and I am certain that I want my son to have a backyard and a great education. So we, as a family, decided to relocate. Jeremy and I are very lucky in that we own our apartment in Brooklyn, so I definitely see some commuting and over-night trips in my future as I want to make sure Nitecap is in a good place. And I’m going very against my personality here, but I’ve just decided that even though this is kind of crazy, it’s going to work because we want it to work, so we will figure it out!

I don’t want to speak to soon, but there are some exciting opportunities up here work-wise that we are exploring, and eventually we hope to open something of our own. So I guess, stay tuned.


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

ND: Creating cocktails for me is definitely very influenced by mood and color—maybe that’s my theatre background. There is something very magical about drinking a cocktail that stirs up some sort of emotion or memory or creates a new memory—and by all means, that emotion can be as simple as, “Damn, this is good!” So I guess I’m thinking more about the lasting, lingering effect of the experience than I am about an ingredient.


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

ND: I mean, there are so many! I’ve had some incredible mentors and some incredible strong women like Katie Stipe to look up too. But I am continually inspired by the folks behind the Quixotic Projects who are based in Paris—they are masters of creating transportive, fun, but intensely professional spaces.


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

ND: I mean, I guess I could give you a very intellectual and historically significant answer here, but really, in my heart of hearts, I just wish I was in a low-cut sequins jumpsuit, in platform heels, under a giant disco ball, at Studio 54 drinking a glass of Champagne with Grace Jones and Liza Minnelli.

(Author's Note: Yaaaassssssss)


Gastronomista: This series is sponsored by Campari America, can you recommend a favorite cocktail or two for our readers made with their products?

ND: I’ll always drink an Americano if you hand it to me or if you want something from me. A little Boulevardier variation of mine:


All In
Created by Natasha David

1 ½ oz Wild Turkey 101 Rye
¾ oz Campari
¾ oz Dry Vermouth
1 tsp Crème de Cacao

Method: Stir, Strain

Glass: Nick & Nora
Garnish: Discarded Lemon Twist


Mermaid Parade
Created by Natasha David

1-½ oz Aperol
¾ oz Pasquet ‘Marie Framboise’
¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
Egg White
Top with Seltzer

Method: Dry Shake, Shake, Strain, Top w/ Seltzer

Glass: Fizz Glass
Garnish: Edible Glitter



For more follow Natasha on Instagram.

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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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cherry Mai Tai


I don't know what it is, but there is something about Tiki that makes my heart sing.  Maybe it's the creative glassware, maybe it's the garnishes, or maybe it is the rum - all I know is that every time I have a well made (and properly adorned) Tiki cocktail I'm immediately whisked away to a tropical island where the sun is shining and all my day-to-day problems seem to melt away.  Like I said, maybe it's the rum.

This cocktail is a rift on a classic Mai Tai, but with a very cherry twist (I have a bit of a long standing cherry obsession going on).  The recipe follows the structure of the Mai Tai from Chicago's Hale Kahiki Tiki Lounge, but adds a few fresh cherries and a splash of Luxardo Sangue Morlacco, one of my favorite modifiers. 


The Sangue Morlacco has such a velvety cherry flavor - it is a macerated liqueur so it maintains a nice fresh cherry taste, which I love since it's nearly impossible to get cherries year round.  It's such an easy way to add a surprising flavor to cocktails.  This product is made from the same cherries as the Luxardo Cocktail Cherries, so if you're a fan, you're going to love this liqueur!!

The orgeat on the other hand, is either expensive or a pain to make - but it's worth it.  There are no substitutions for orgeat - it adds a level of richness and nutty complexity to every drink it touches.

I really love this cocktail, and I had such a fun time styling it.  The glass is a vintage find (a planter bookend, perhaps?) but one of my most treasured tiki vessels.

Enjoy!


Cherry Mai Tai
Modified by Gastronomista

1/2 oz white rum
1/2 oz gold rum
1/2 oz blended rum
1/2 oz aged blended rum
1/2 oz Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec
1/2 oz Luxardo Sangue Morlacco
1 oz lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a tropical vessel. Top with crushed ice, and garnish with orchids, pineapple leaves, and three Luxardo cocktail cherries.


Orgeat Syrup

1 Cup Almonds 
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar

In a food processor, pulse almonds until coarsely ground.  In a pot, boil sugar, water and almonds until fully mixed.  Line a sieve with cheese cloth and place over a large bowl.  Pour the almond mixture into the cheesecloth and let sit.  Occasionally squeeze the cheese cloth to extract more of the syrup.  Transfer the syrup to a non-reactive container and store in the refrigerator.  




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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Where There Is Smoke There is Fire, A Champagne Story

I have been thinking about color lately, how we perceive color not only with our eyes, but with other senses as well.  Many super tasters describe flavors in colors, in textures, or in other contextual analogies - all of which are descriptions that help our brains understand the experience of tasting and imbibing. 

What if we challenged ourselves to taste in hyper-environment - an immersive environment designed to accentuate the flavors of a liquid?  Would this hyper-environment influence the way we taste?  Could it increase our pleasure and enjoyment? 


If we think about flavor as a color, we can then visualize or illustrate those layers of flavor through saturation of hue and the transparency of those hues.  I wanted these images to portray this idea of layering - the layering of flavor, the layering of color.

I collaborated with Victoria Wright for this shoot - an incredibly talented photographer who beautifully captures a dreamy feeling of calm and serenity into all of her photos.  She was, as always, a pleasure to collaborate with.  We took to the desert with a case of champagne and a box of smoke bombs to explore these ideas of color, layers, and ultimately, flavor. 

We partnered with the prestigious champagne house, G.H. Mumm Champagne, a house founded in 1827 known for their exquisite cuvee.  Each cocktail is starts with the idea of a simple champagne cocktail made with homemade syrups of exotic flavors saturated colors.  Mumm is a perfect champagne to use in cocktails because it mixes well, its flavors jive well with the bright, fresh flavors in all of these cocktails.

I hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed making it. 




Green

1 oz Kiwi Syrup
4 oz G.H. Mumm Champagne








Blue

1 Sugar Cube
4 dashes Angostura
10 Blue Butterfly Tea Flowers, Whole
4 oz G.H. Mumm Champagne



Purple

2 oz Gin
1/4 oz Crème de Violette
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3 oz G.H. Mumm Champagne






Red

1 oz Prickly Pear Syrup
4 oz G.H. Mumm Champagn







Yellow

1-1/2 oz Pineapple Puree
1-1/2 oz Blended Rum
3/4 oz Lime
3/4 oz Mint Simple Syrup
3 oz G.H. Mumm Champagne





Photography: Victoria Wright
Creative Direction: Emily Arden Wells, Gastronomsita
Glassware: Waterford Mixology Coupes, Viski Raye Glasses, Lehmann Glass Jamesse Prestige Grand Champagne
Champagne:  G.H. Mumm Champagne
Nails: Base Coat, Denver
Yellow & Red Dress: Asos
Sunnies: Karen Walker


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

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