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December Issue
In this issue
  • New ventures in vodka - Wine X Magazine
  • Keys to Successfully Marketing Shooters - by Robert Plotkin
  • The Ravens Caw
  • Search the Drink Recipe Database
  • Absolut Pomegranate Martini
  • Ikon True Russian Vodka Wants Your Best New Years Shots
  • Bartend with Flair
  • Article Suggestions
  • Dear New Year's Party Animal,

    Happy New Year!! What a great time of year to enjoy the festivities. We've got a bunch of great articles again for you this month. The Raven has been getting rave (n) reviews so be sure to check out his latest. There's a new Absolut Vodka recipe, as well as the usual, great articles from BarMedia and WineX. All the best to you great readers for the New Year. Please be smart, don't drink and drive! Enjoy the following recipes in moderation and take a cab. Cheers!


    Dan Hutchinson

    New ventures in vodka - Wine X Magazine

    Where wine coolers captivated the 80s and microbrews burgeoned in the 90s, vodka is bringing verve and variety to drinking in the new millennium. Strawberry vodka, chocolate vodka, orange, cinnamon and key lime vodkas... Sidle up to any bar in any city and you'll see a sick display of distinct new tastes nestled on the shelf among the Ketel and Grey Goose, ready to splash into an updated Cosmo, Betelgeuse or Tootsie Roll Martini.

    Trendy as these specialty vodkas may seem, spice- and herb-infused vodkas have been sating drinkers since the spirit first cracked the ice on frozen Russian and Polish faces several hundred years ago. Back then, flavoring wasn't intended for variety. It was necessary to take the edge off the primitive mash, the intense, harsh taste of which could make even the swarthiest drinker breathe fire.

    Later, the ability to craft flavored concoctions became the mark of a skillful distiller. Among those who elevated the practice to an art were the Russians and Poles, who've long marketed dozens of flavored vodkas. Among the most unusual brands in Russia are Okhotnichya or "Hunter's" vodka (flavored with a mix of ginger, cloves, lemon peel, coffee, anise and other herbs and spices, then blended with sugar and a touch of a wine similar to white port) and Zubrovka (vodka flavored with bison grass, an aromatic grass which is the cud of choice for herds of the rare European bison).

    Flavored vodkas were slow to reach the mass U.S. market, however. Americans first became hooked on "the white spirit" after World War II, lured by the convenient fact that it had "no taste and no smell" (and could therefore be consumed on the sly). And for decades the classic vodka martini or vodka-tonic suited drinkers just fine. It wasn't until the cocktail craze of the late 90s that the current frenzy for vodka variety took off. Luckily, there are plenty of quality distillers out there to satisfy demand.

    Among the first to tempt our palates with readily available flavored vodkas were Absolut and Stolichnaya. Absolut entered this niche market in 1986 with its Peppar, an aromatic, complex and spicy vodka that gets its kick from the spicy components in the capsicum pepper family and from fresh green jalapeo pepper. They later added Absolut Citron, Kurant and Mandarin. The newest twist to the Absolut line? Absolut Vanilia, which has a rich, robust and complex taste of vanilla, with notes of butterscotch and hints of dark chocolate. Its scheduled release is this spring.

    Stoli was also an early marketer of laced libations, luring many drinkers to the pleasures of flavored vodkas with its Vodka Razberi (made with ripe raspberries), Vodka Vanilla (with the pure essence of Madagascan and Indonesian vanilla beans) and Vodka Zinamon (infused with the zip of cinnamon).

    The success of the Absolut and Stoli creations gave rise to a new generation of cocktail concoctions and inspired other distillers to create fresh and unexpected varieties. Among those most likely to turn up at your local watering hole are the infusions of Charbay, which uses fresh fruit to create blood orange, ruby red grapefruit and key lime vodkas; Burnett's, which offers sour apple (great in an Appletini), coconut, raspberry, orange, citrus and vanilla; the artistically designed Vincent Van Gogh Vodkas, whose varieties include Chocolate, Oranje, Vanilla, Raspberry, Wild Appel and Citroen; and OP, a 70- proof Swedish vodka flavored with ginger, orange and peach, and spiced with anise, fennel and caraway.

    A newcomer to the flavored vodka scene is Hangar One, a small, quality distiller that uses real fruit and "rare and expensive" ingredients to produce its Buddha's Hand Citron, Kaffir Lime and Mandarin Blossom vodkas. Luscious straight up, these fruit- laced spirits can also be the inspiration for cocktails to die for.

    Should a Cosmo with Burnett's Blood Orange Vodka or a Sunflower Martini with Vincent Van Gogh's Raspberry seem too traditional, frighten your drinking companions by ordering up a shot of Blavod, a smooth-tasting vodka colored black by the catcchu herb. While it looks like The Dark Prince's drink of choice, Blavod is surprisingly refreshing in a Black Bull (ice, Red Bull and Blavod) or a Sundance (ice, blue curacoa, soda water and Blavod).

    Another far-out blend is Feigling, a fig-infused vodka that comes in a little bottle from Germany. Served straight or with a little tonic and a twist, Feigling is a unique taste and sure to throw a little variety into your drinking repertoire.

    If youre lucky enough to find them, don't pass up a chance to try the Polish Wisent, flavored with a species of bison grass that grows only in the Bialowieska Forest (acknowledged to be the last primeval forest left in Europe), or the Ukrainian Soomska Horobynova (flavored with ashberry) and Soomska Horilka Pryhodko (flavored with St. John's Wort, Buffalo Grass, coriander and lemon).

    So your local bar thinks Absolut Kurant is the cutting- edge of flavors? You can still experiment with new ventures in vodka. Roll up your sleeves and concoct your own unique libations. Begin with a quality vodka. While "quality" is in the taste buds of the drinker, general wisdom holds that youll get better results and suffer fewer day-after side effects if you stick to a bottle in the $20-and-up range. Purchase anything under seven bucks to use in your infusion and you'll waste culinary effort as well as brain cells.

    Buy your favourite Vodka online...


    Recipe for Infusion

    The process by which vodkas are flavored is called infusion. This is a fancy word for mixing stuff with vodka and letting it soak. Unless otherwise directed by a recipe, infuse your vodkas at room temperature. Freezing the flavored vodkas after infusion, however, will ensure the best taste.

    The easiest way to flavor vodka is with fresh fruit, which both soaks up and flavors the spirit. Just mix vodka in equal portions with ripe, washed and coarsely chopped fruit (peaches, pineapples or strawberries are common favorites). Place the mixture in a glass canning jar, and let the concoction sit for several days. Strain before serving, or leave in a few fruit chunks for munching. This method will work with any fruit, including fresh and sun-dried tomatoes as well as chili peppers. In short, if you can dream it and drink it, you can infuse it.

    If you want to venture beyond fruit, give these traditional and not-so-traditional infusion recipes a try. Vodka lovers will find these concoctions delectable on their own (plain or with a garnish), but they can also be used to breathe new life into a favorite old cocktail.

    Infusion Recipes

    (Note: For all recipes use 1 pint of plain vodka and infuse at room temperature for 24 hours. Then strain.)

    Anise Vodka: Licorice-laced vodka was a favorite of Peter the Great, so it's got to be good enough for us. Soak 2 t whole anise seed. Serve chilled.

    Apricot Vodka: Infuse 12 apricot kernels. Serve chilled.

    Cherry Vodka: Crush 36 cherry pits (or thereabouts).

    Coriander Vodka: Use 2 t coriander seed, slightly crushed.

    Garlic-and-Dill Vodka: Infuse 1 clove garlic, slightly crushed, 1 sprig fresh dill and 3 white peppercorns. Leave a little dill in the vodka, if you're so inclined.

    Herb Vodka: Infuse a few sprigs of a favorite herb, such as tarragon or basil. Leave a small bit of herb in the vodka, if you choose.

    Saffron Vodka: Use 1/4 t saffron threads.

    Tea Vodka: Infuse 4 t black tea leaves (fruit- scented is a nice touch).

    Buffalo Grass Vodka/Zubrovka: Use 8 blades of buffalo grass. One blade of grass may be left in the vodka after straining for a little woodland feel. So next time you order a cocktail, check out the new flavors lining up behind the bar. Flavored vodkas may just be a trend, but they're bound to snare some converts. Bison grass and anise seed aside, 145 million vodka-loving Russians can't be wrong.

    *****

    This article has been submitted by the great people over at Wine X Magazine. Lora White was the author. Wine-X has agreed to bring you a new article every month from their amazing writers. If you like living out on the edge and feel the Gen X isn't well represented in the world, have a really good look at Wine X magazine. They've also given us an offer you can't refuse if you're looking to subscribe: $15 for 6 issues. To experience the full magazine, Subscribe Here.

    Wine X is a young adult lifestyle magazine with wine and other beverages grafted on to it. With regular features on music, fashion, videos, books, travel and other relevant young adult culture, it's specifically designed to create a comfortable forum in which young adults can learn more about the tasty juice without the usual intimidation. In no other publication will you find a more concentrated effort to inform, entertain and enlighten a new generation of wine consumers with such a fresh, cutting-edge approach. At Wine X Magazine we believe that wine is not a lifestyle, its part of one.


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    Keys to Successfully Marketing Shooters - by Robert Plotkin

    Our latest Rober Plotkin article. How to sell that ever popular shooter. Robert is the founder of BarMedia.com

    For the past 17 years, Robert Plotkin, has been working to provide beverage operators with the right career tools they need to attain success. He has created the best management systems, tools, software and books available in the hospitality industry. His nationally acclaimed products are in the offices and behind the bars of the most successful hotels, nightclubs, restaurants and hot spots worldwide.

    Marketing Shooters

    Shooters are as popular as ever. In one guise or another, shooters are capable of achieving popular success in practically any establishment, regardless of the specific make-up of the clientele. Granted, marketing shooters in your bar or nightclub may require a bit more effort than at others. Recipe names might have to be toned down, glassware may have to be changed and an altogether different approach may have to be taken. Nevertheless, like color TVs and tax refund checks, marketing shooters have a nearly universal appeal.

    For one thing, shooters are fun, contemporary drinks. Since most are served neat or straight-up, the quality of their ingredients can be more fully appreciated. With a vast array of recipes at your disposal, shooters can also facilitate the turnover of slower moving inventory. And should these benefits prove insufficient incentives, shooters are exceptionally profitable.

    At the onset, the word "shooters" encompasses a large and diverse body of drink recipes; ranging from the elegant and sophisticated to the radically bizarre. Shooters are anything but one-dimensional. Long gone are the days when the breadth of the category consisted of a shot and a beer, or a shot in a beer. Todays shooters are made with nearly every potable product behind your bar and cater to every taste imaginable.

    The key is to select shooter recipes that target your clienteles particular tastes. At a swank club, for instance, consider promoting shooters as "neat cocktails," recipes such as the GRAND ALLIANCE, equal parts of Amaretto and Champagne served in a chilled sherry glass, the TORQUE WRENCH, Midori, orange juice and Champagne, and the LOBOTOMY, a blend of Amaretto, Chambord, pineapple juice and Champagne. Change their names and youve got some highly promotable specialties.

    Because of their great taste and dramatic presentation, up-scale establishments can also effectively promote layered concoctions. Candidates include the INVERTED NAIL, Drambuie with Glenfiddich on top, TUACA POUSSE CAF, grenadine, white crme de menthe, Midori and Tuaca, and the venerable B-52, Kahla, Baileys Irish Cream and Grand Marnier.

    Many establishments cater to a clientele that are predisposed to drink shooters. Here the key is to promote house specialties that feature popular ingredients, such as the YELLOW JACKET, a delicious blend of Jgermeister, Baeren Jaeger (German honey liqueur) and Kahla, MEXICAN ITCH, El Tesoro Aejo Tequila, Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice in a salted shot glass, and the inflexible RIGOR MORTIS, Absolut, Disaronno Amaretto, and equal parts of orange and pineapple juice.

    Shooters currently riding the crest of popularity include the OATMEAL COOKIE, made with Goldschlger, Jgermeister, Baileys and Butterscotch Schnapps, the CEMENT MIXER, Absolut Citron and Baileys, the DUCK FART, a layered shooter made with Kahla, Baileys, and Crown Royal, and the Florida specialty, SAMMY JGER, equal parts of sambuca and Jgermeister.

    If these are too tame for you, you may want to consider promoting two New Orleans specialties. The OYSTER SHOOTER is a Gulf specialty made with Tabasco sauce, horseradish, cocktail sauce, draft beer and a raw oyster. The BLOODY NOSE is a fiery combination of Absolut Peppar, horseradish, Bloody Mary mix and a raw oyster served in a chilled rocks glass. So who needs a half shell?

    Marketing Options

    There are numerous means of stimulating interest in your house specialty shooters. The most frequently relied on methods are bar menus and table tents. The Fridays Club and Bottle Shop, a landmark in Minot, ND, has a printed bar menu with 101 of their most popularly requested shooters. The menu could also be used to market your other house specialty drinks, non-alcoholic beverages and bar food items, among other things.

    Other methods of in-house marketing include chalkboards or lighted message boards to feature the "Shooter of the Day." If your bar or nightclub has a newsletter or sends out promotional mailers, these can be used to list upcoming shooter specials. Encourage your clientele to submit their favorite shooter recipes as candidates for "Shooter of the Day."

    Most establishments have space that is not being used to its fullest. This space could, without great expense, be converted into a "Shooter Bar," a small facility large enough for one bartender, a sufficient supply of glasses, liquor stock, ice bin, a few bus tubs for returned glasses and a cash register. It is an extremely effective method of generating interest in shooters, some fun and, of course, extra profits.

    Drink presentation is another marketing consideration. When appropriate, shooters should be served in chilled glasses. This will help keep the ingredients at their proper serving temperature and enhances the drinks presentation. Experiment with alternative glassware, such as sherry, cordial or pousse caf glasses. Match each specialty shooter with the most appropriate looking glass.

    There are other alternative vessels that can be used to present shooters. One of the most popular is the acrylic test tube, commonly known as a Tooter. These test tubes have gained widespread acceptance in the industry. They offer the operator a viable means of serving many different shooter combinations to their clientele at once. The formula for success with these test tubes is tried-and-true. Take a server, give her a tray with a rack containing rows of brightly colored, intriguing looking libations, price the tubes at an accessible price, and watch the profits roll in.

    This type of marketing is predicated on the fun factor. Simply put, drinking a puny cocktail from a test tube appeals to the kid in all of us. There likely isnt a nightclub or bar that couldnt effectively benefit from running test tube promotions. Tooters Promotions of Cocoa Beach, FL, and Top-Shelf Marketing of Buffalo, NY, are the industry leaders in distributing the novel, dynamic tubes.

    Top-Shelf Marketing also has plastic shot glasses of every imaginable shape and size. There is even a shot glass with a protuberance in the center that bears a striking resemblance to the male genitalia. Phallic Shotz as theyre called certainly grab attention and stimulate sales. They also market popper glasses. These plastic shot glasses are perfect for slammer drinks. The lids that fly off when the glass is slammed down on the bar top. Slammers are a great way to create some excitement at the bar.

    Also available are edible vessels, such as foil- wrapped chocolate cups or small ice cream cones. A small amount of hot fudge is poured inside of the cone, such that once hard, it will prevent them from leaking.

    Call them what you will truncated cocktails, puny poppers or petite elbow-benders, shooters are about the best thing to hit the business since electric blender and swiveling bar stools.

    Find more recipes with Bar None's Shooter Index.

    The shooter recipes in this article are excerpted from the latest edition of "The Original Guide to American Cocktails and Drinks" by Robert Plotkin.

    The Ravens Caw

    Welcome back, gentle readers, to another installment of The Ravens Caw. Before I start, I wish to invite you to pause for a second and retrieve a glass of your favorite libation, unless you are at work or in some other location unsuitable for consumption of beverages, in which case I invite you to print this article and read it when youre in the comfort of your own home. Also, if youre under the legal drinking age, wherever you are, then print this article and save it until your 21st --or 18th, for my friends still in the Commonwealth-- birthday.

    I trust that you have had, or are having (depending on your personal calendar and the release of this humble column) a happy and safe holiday. As we look to the new year, with what we can only hope shall be many hundreds of reasons to celebrate, I sit pondering the age old question To Drink or to Get Drunk? Through the years tending the well at a myriad of college and holiday parties, Ive seen every kind of drinker, and Ive been introduced to a good amount of the different types of drunks. This has given me a respect for alcohol, and it is this respect that I hope to pass on to you.

    First, I wish to start with one of my mainstay maxims: Life is short, Drink the good stuff. Ill be honest, I didnt come up with this one, and to be honest, I cant remember where I heard it. I think the message comes across though. This translates to my liquor cabinet pretty easily; theres almost nothing in there under 100 proof. This is part of the respect for alcohol. Its a widely held belief that the quality of the alcohol you drink can affect the nature of your hangover: the purer the booze, the less the hangover. I dont know if there is any scientific evidence for this, but from personal experience, well, lets just say that I spend the extra couple of bucks to get the better quality booze. Mind you, this is for my personal cabinet...tending at parties requires a different tactic. (Tune in next month for that!)

    I hope Im preaching to the choir when I say that there are few pleasures in life that approximate the sublime joy of sipping on a glass of your favorite whiskey (or gin, or vodka, or rum, or even tequila). The problem I have is that some people will indulge in their drink of choice every night, sometimes even two or three a night. Can they really be appreciating the time and effort that was put into the delicate liquor theyre slurping? Do they not realize that after the second glass (or so) theyve dulled their senses to the point that they could be drinking anything? Thats what booze in plastic bottles is for!

    Sorry for the rant...back to the story. Im not trying to suggest that you must ignore the more physical qualities of alcohol. I certainly know that sometimes the only thing that can relieve the tension after a hard days work is a heavy pour from my precious square bottle. The stress relieving effects of booze are qualities that I have come to appreciate to a great degree, and rival the best meditative techniques Ive found. Of course, this is all in moderation; a drink once a fortnight to take the edge off a particularly difficult day at the mines is sublime; a drink once a day to help face the world requires help. **P.S.A. If you need help, get it...if someone you know needs help, help them get it.**

    Youre sitting there, I hope, with a glass of your favorite drink. Take a sip. Why is it your favorite? Can you find the flavor you love as it rolls over your tongue? Take another sip. Is it the bouquet, or perhaps the way it coats your throat? Think of the way youll feel when youve finished that glass. Pretty nice, huh? Now, think of the way you felt last time you were three sheets to the wind. Can you still taste that which you love so much about your DOC (drink of choice, for the uninitiated)? Probably not.

    The moral of the story is: If youre drinking the good stuff, dont waste it by getting drunk. The good stuff is meant to be delicately enjoyed over a book, or through a meaningful album, or in the pleasant company of the opposite sex --or same sex, if thats your bag...Jack, Jose and the Captain dont care. If you suck it down, youll lose the flavor that the vinter, the brew master, and the distiller worked so hard to put there. Whats more, youll wake up with something worse than a hangover...the realization that youve wasted the precious agua vitae. And you cant get by with wasting a simple pleasure...life is too short.

    Well, another glass gone. I hope youve enjoyed the drinks weve shared together here on The Ravens Caw.

    Another one from the black book...


    FrostBite

    This drink is perfect for a refreshing pick-me-up on a hot day, or can be used at the end of a meal to cover some unfortunate breath.

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz Island Blue Pucker
  • Sprite Remix
  • Splash of Peppermint Schnapps

    All ingredients should be chilled. Serve in a Collins or Highball.

    Coat the glass with Peppermint Schnapps. There should be a little more than a quarter oz left in the bottom of the glass after the sides are totally coated. With clean fingers, rub a little on the rim. Add the gin and Pucker and mix with your trusty spoon. Fill the glass with Remix.

    Like most gin drinks, this is a very refreshing libation. It was born from a search to create a palatable drink that was blue. It is important to note that substituting any of the ingredients (i.e. Sprite Remix for normal Lemon Lime or any other Pucker) will greatly change the flavor. We accidentally changed it the second time we tried to make it and the power of the gin was overwhelming.

    This gets a rating of slightly boozy. You can still taste the gin, especially if you pour with a heavy hand, but by adjusting the Pucker up or the booze in general down, you can promote (demote?) the drink to evil.

    About The Raven

    J.T. "Raven" Centonze has been a long time student of the art of alcohol. Initially interested in keeping conversation at parties, his love for alcohol grew to an obsession in college. In between his real job of running a college bookstore, he is the part owner/operator of his own winery. He bartends at private parties which allows him the innovation of many new, unique drinks.

  • Search the Drink Recipe Database

    Search Bar-None's Drink Index for:

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    Absolut Pomegranate Martini

    Bored to tears with eggnog already? Shake up your holiday party with a cocktail that is one part naughty and one part nice.

    Pomegranate Martini

  • 1 part pomegranate juice
  • 2 parts ABSOLUT CITRON
  • Splash of Cointreau liquor
  • 1 Cup of ice
  • Splash of pomegranate fruit

    Shake ingredients in a shaker and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with pomegranate fruit slice.

    Recipe courtesy of the Oprah Winfrey Show

  • Ikon True Russian Vodka Wants Your Best New Years Shots

    Ikon True Russian Vodka is blogging out the old and blogging in the New Year and we want you to share your New Years celebrations with the world. Whether you are in New Delhi or New York, Moscow or Milan send your photos or greetings directly to www.ikon vodka.blogspot.com or photos@ikonspirits.net. Ikon Vodka wants to share the good will, the parties, and the hope of a better year all across the globe with your photos.

    Ikon True Russian Vodka has toasted over 160 New Years and we hope that 2006 with be our best and yours as well. Everyone at Ikon True Russian Vodka wishes you a Happy and Safe New Year! So send us your photos and greetings and lets show everyone your good times. Your shots will appear live on www.ikon vodka.blogspot.com.

    Photos can be either from your cell phone, digital camera or scanned images. Everyone celebrates New Years in a unique fashion, so let see those pictures from around the world and lets celebrate together.

    Ikon True Russian Vodka is a quadruple distilled and filtered multi award wining spirit. For more info on Ikon True Russian Vodka please visit www.ikonvodka.co m .

    Bartend with Flair

    Professional entertainer Dean Serneels teaches you many of the tricks that he has used behind the bar and on stage for over 11 years. The Flair Video reveals the basics in bottle flair while also teaching many other important features of becoming a great performance bartender.

    Article Suggestions

    Anything you want us to write about? Know of a good story? Always wanted to know about a particular product, recipe or other piece of trivia?

    Send us your suggestions and we'll see what we can come up with.

    Or alternatively, you think you have a great story and want it published. Drop us a line perhaps we can help you out.

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