November - Holiday

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December, Holiday Issue
In this issue

Dear Dan,

Another December, another mad scramble to get everything done. At least we can sit down at the end of the day and enjoy a refreshing beverage to relax with.

This issue is stuffed full of articles, some great new recipes and other news from around the industry.

Happy Holidays!

Before I forget, get your fill of Christmas and Holiday recipes here...!

Please be smart, don't drink and drive! Enjoy the following recipes in moderation and take a cab if you need one.

Cheers!


Dan Hutchinson

Mount Gay Rum Holiday Drinks

Mount Gay Rum Eggnog Image HOLIDAY EGGNOG

Makes 16 cups; serves 18-20.

  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup Mount Gay ECLIPSE Rum
  • 1 cup 80º bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, yolks and granulated sugar until smooth. Pour into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in milk, gradually, blending well with each addition. Heat slowly over very low heat, stirring steadily, until the mixture reaches 160º-170ºF on an instant read thermometer. The custard should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon: If you draw your finger across the back of the spoon, the line will remain distinct and the custard sauce is done.
  2. Pour the custard through a fine-meshed sieve into large bowl. Stir in vanilla the Mount Gay ECLIPSE rum, bourbon and nutmeg. Let mixture cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least three hours and or up to one day.
  3. Just before serving, whip cream to very soft peaks, beating in, superfine sugar as you go. Gently fold into custard mixture until incorporated. Serve from a chilled punch bowl or ladle into individual martini glasses, garnishing with grated nutmeg if desired.

 

Mount Gay Spiced Rum Image Tony¹s Hot Buttered Rum Batter

  • 1 lb light brown sugar
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl beat together softened butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices until well combined. Refrigerate in an airtight reusable container for up to a month, or place in your freezer until ready to use.

To make Hot Buttered Rum ­ In a pre-heated coffee mug combine 2 heaping tablespoons batter with 1 1/2 oz. Mount Gay Rum. Top with boiling water and stir well to mix. Serve with a spoon.

Hint: It is best to make the batter in advance so the spices have an opportunity to mingle. Be sure to remove batter from refrigerator at least 6 hours prior to serving to allow it to soften.

The Raven's Caw

Raven's Caw Logo Image

Hello good Ravenites, and welcome to the second anniversary of The Raven's Caw. Can you believe it? I can't, but then again, if you'd told me two and a half years ago that I'd be writing for Bar None, I'd probably have laughed. That being said, onward to the greater things in life.

The first thing I want to bring to your attention is an article I caught on one of the major wire services. The subject was some research being done in Spain. (As with nearly everything I bring you, while I did in fact read this news, and it did purport to be true, take the advice at your own risk.) The scientists conducting the study claimed to have evidence that beer, of all things, is better than water at rehydrating you after a good workout. Of course, finding an MD that will echo this sentiment is probably more trouble than it's worth.

The science behind this, and the reason it is likely true, at least on a very micro scale, does warrant discussion. The tests were run as follows: each participant was made to run for a certain amount of time, after which some measure of hydration was taken (the exact measure escapes me, but it seemed sufficient.) Group A was given a glass of beer, and then was allowed to drink as much water as they'd like. Group B skipped the beer and just drank the water. Lo and behold, those that drank the beer hydrated quicker than those without. Of course, there is no mention as to how long they stayed hydrated, which would suggest that, as we all expect, the diuretic nature of the beer took its toll in due time.

An interesting story, for sure, but not one I'll test any time soon.

In more of a festive bent, I bring to you a great debate, albeit one of relatively recent magnitude. I will reveal to you one of the more enduring secrets of holiday boozing, though I promise it will probably leave you more confused than ever. I, Raven, am here to throw back the veil of Eggnog!

Yeah o.k., so it's not that exciting. Two stories exist as to where this traditional holiday drink got the second part of its name. The oldest comes from an early English dialect in which small wooden cups were called 'noggs'. Those among us that believe in this origin story say that 'eggnog' is simply 'egg in a nogg', which has a bit of believability to it. This is also where we get the expression 'noggin', as the sound of the little wooden mugs clanking together resembled the sound of skulls knocking together after drinking the beverages in the mugs. "What dids't thou do yester night, Daniel?"
"Verily, I knocked noggins with me mates...hand me th' ye olde aspirin, prithee!"

The second origin of the nomenclature is decidedly American in origin. Though the European version of the drink was made with the gamut of booze, the early American drink was made almost exclusively with rum (known colloquially as grog), as it was cheap and easy to acquire. The drink then was 'egg and grog', or after too much booze and a bit of slurring, eggnog. Believe what you want, its doubtful that anyone will come knocking at your door for it. I have heard, however, that George Washington had a killer recipe. That would be one to get your hands on.

It's Gatorade, I swear!

Because I know you are all Ravenous (come on, you laughed) for a new drink review, I'm going to share one that recently fell in my lap. Not literally, thankfully. The name of this drink requires some one to ask you what you're drinking. (Think about it, you'll get there)

Ingredients:

  • Gatorade
  • Any combination of clear or mostly clear booze.

I was playing poker the other night when a buddy of mine came to the table, after holding up the game ten minutes at the bar, with a drink I didn't recognize. I said "Hey Bob, what are you drinking?" To which he replied, "It's Gatorade, I swear!" And the rest was history.


 

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 or two, 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.




www.partidamargarita.com sweepstakes
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Partida Tequila, reinventing America's favorite cocktail



Holiday 5's - Laura Davies

There are a few give-ins when it comes to the holiday season. You're going to gain 5+ pounds from eating too much. You'll open gifts from older family members that are designed for someone 5 years younger than you. You will sit in 5 hours of traffic while listening to the same 5 holiday songs on the radio. You'll wear 5 different shades of lipstick on your cheek from 5 random co-workers at the annual holiday party. While the season can seem more of a burden than a blessing, more miserable than merry, here are 5 drinks that will get you through the woes of winter and add some "spirit" to your season.

Eggnog Image 1. Eighteen and Over Eggnog - the start from scratch recipe is quite the involved process. It includes separating the egg yolk from the egg white, mixing with sugar, milk, nutmeg and vanilla, and then letting the drink sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before you add the brandy, rum, or whisky. While there may be some who value the traditional method and want to spend your soon-to-be-returned present opening time waiting for a drink to chill, another option is a little simpler and a whole lot faster. Step 1: buy a carton of eggnog, Step 2: add brandy, rum, and/or whisky (I don't recommend the "and" here, but maybe your family is worse than mine), Step 3: Drink and serve to those who are old enough and look just as bored as you are.

2. Peppermint Hot Chocolate - a perfect treat for a cold evening, the peppermint hot chocolate sounds like something your grandmother would have made for you after sledding, but after three of four of these you may just be slurring. Another easy to make beverage, this recipe is basic. Instant hot chocolate + 1 shot of peppermint schnapps + 1 shot of chocolate liqueur. Add a candy cane and whipped cream and you have yourself dessert and a buzz.

3. Dreidel Daiquiri - here is a cocktail to make the eight nights of Hanukah that much brighter. Not your traditional Kiddush, this blend of rum, Goldschalger and chocolate powder is sure to make your head spin. Mix it up over the weeklong festivities and add various goodies to the bottom - a dreidel, some gelt, perhaps a gefilte fish?

4. Snowball - for those who don't mind adding another few lbs. the snowball is a tasty holiday drink. In a blender add one scoop of vanilla ice cream, one shot of Baileys, and one shot of vodka. Pour into a rounded glass and add a layer of powdered sugar on top. Your gym membership starts in January.

5. Mulled Wine - the golden standard when it comes to holiday beverages this is simplicity, tradition and intoxication all mulled into one. Heat up some red wine, throw in some spices (cloves, sugar, almonds, whatever hasn't been put into a pie yet), and stir with a cinnamon stick.


Laura Davies: alcohol drinking, word smithing, open bar emptying gal has been drinking legally for a year and nine months, but has been sneaking tastes since she was thirteen (sorry mom). A former cocktail waitress/bartender/winery employee/college student Laura knows a thing or two about booze and loves to share that information with anyone who will listen.

When she's not bar hopping around New York City or ordering another bloody mary at brunch, Laura spends her time writing for various entertainment publications and begging friends to travel with her.

Laura loves: extra dirty greygoose martinis, pinot noir, wheat beer and champagne.
Laura hates: sambuca, jägermeister, double IPAs and cosmopolitans.

Absolut - Formula 150

ABSOLUT 100 Bottle Image This year, you'll have the perfect gift for a trend-setting guy who likes to party like a rock star with some added bling and style. While MTV Cribs features the Cristal and Dom in the fridge's of all the stars, now you can get a behind the scenes look in to the hottest new spirit enjoyed by 50 Cent, Diddy, Paris, Britney during this year's VMAs at 50 Cent's album release party in Vegas. Try the brand new 100-proof vodka launched by Absolut --- ABSOLUT(r) 100.

ABSOLUT(r) 100 is a bold, mixable, and noticeably smooth vodka stands out and stands up in a cocktail. Its unique black bottle, glossy finish and bling-bling silver letters show off its confidence and style, making it a perfect choice for that stylish, hard-to-please guy in your life.

Prepare the "ABSOLUT-ly" perfect survival package for a guys' night out by pairing the ABSOLUT 100 with like-minded gifts like Clinique For Men products, a pair of black cufflinks and a silver money clip.

He'll stand out this holiday season with his buddies (or even a lady love interest) when he is mixing up 50 Cen't signature drink, made with Absolut 100 and his Formula Fifty Vitamin Water.

The FORMULA 150
The FORMULA 150 Cocktail Image

  • 1 part ABSOLUT(r) 100
  • 2 parts Formula Fifty
  • Splash of Club Soda
  • Twist of Lime

Build ingredients over fresh ice into a tall glass, and garnish with a lime wedge.

Castle Brands - Gift Packs

Castle Brands is pleased to present its 2007 holiday gift packs. This holiday season, we offers a gift pack for every taste and style.

Vodka

Boru Vodka Gift Pack
 Photo

Boru Vodka was inspired by Brian Boru, legendary high king of Ireland. Boru Vodka upholds unsurpassed standards of quality and craftsmanship that have no rival. This year's gift pack also has no rival. Boru's new bold, crystal clear packaging was the inspiration for its holiday pack. The clear acrylic martini pitcher and stir rod included in the holiday pack is a classy and stylish accessory for enjoying martinis with friends. The sleek transparent box with silver background is not just for holidays. It's the perfect gift for any occasion.

 

Rum

Gosling's Rum Gift Pack
 Photo

Curl up and get cozy this holiday season with Gosling's Black Seal Rum's Perfect Hot Toddy gift set. A bottle of Gosling's Black Seal Rum, Gosling Gourmet's Hot Buttered Rum toddy mix and a little hot water are all you need to chase away the chill and get in the "spirit". Each gift set contains a 750ml Gosling's Black Seal Rum and one 12 oz. jar of Gosling Gourmet's Hot Buttered Rum Toddy mix.

 

Liqueurs

Pallini Limoncello
 Gift Pack
 Photo

Nobody does style like the Italians and limoncello is the most Italian of drinks. Of course, no one does limoncello like the Pallini family and that's why this holiday season you should opt for the smooth and exceptional flavour of Pallini Limoncello. The vibrant green gift box is decorated with the famous Amalfitano lemons and includes two elegant hand-blown "classico" glasses, courtesy of Virgilio and Micaela Pallini. Limoncello is traditionally best enjoyed when served chilled straight from freezer. The two stylish stemmed glasses are the perfect complement to the equally stylish spirit. It's the most elegant gift you can give this season.

Celtic Crossing Gift Pack
 Photo

This holiday season, Celtic Crossing Liqueur invites you to celebrate traditions both old and new. Long ago, it was customary to hang apples from evergreen trees on the winter solstice as a reminder that the harvest will come again. This small annual ritual may have developed the widespread Christmas tradition of hanging ornaments. Celtic Crossing's festive gift pack reminds you to keep this tradition alive with a collectible Nollaig ornament inspired by the traditions of Ireland. Each one of the four different ornaments included in a case has a shamrock design and is trimmed with gold. Designed to appear gift wrapped, the gift box is a warm, burgundy color and is imprinted with a bow and gift card. The ornament inside the box is individually wrapped in its own lovely gift box which is also imprinted with a box and gift tag, ready to be given as its own gift. Of course, the best gift of all is the bottle of the rich, honey-flavored Celtic Crossing Liqueur that is included in the gift pack. With one sip of its velvety smooth taste, you're sure to have a new traditional holiday drink!

 

Irish Whiskeys

Knappogue Gift Pack
 Photo

The Knappogue Castle Whiskey Gift Pack reflects the heritage of this sophisticated brand. The spirit's legacy finds its roots with Mark Edwin Andrews, the brand's founder, whose 1951 distillation was named to honor his castle in Ireland. The handsome black box with gold trim features sketches of Knappogue's intricate distillation process. Whiskey connoisseurs know that adding a splash of water to whiskey will open up its nose and flavor. The ceramic water pitcher included in the gift pack was custom designed for Knappogue Castle Whiskey. Emblazoned with the Knappogue Castle Whiskey logo, it also bears a sketch of the copper pot still that is the heart of the distillation process. The sketch was commissioned over 40 years ago by Mark Edwin Andrews and was drawn by renowned Irish artist Raymond Piper. This collectible water pitcher is the second in a series which documents the Irish whiskey-making process.

Clontarf Gift Pack
 Photo

The Clontarf Irish Whiskey Gift Pack tells the story of the Clontarf heritage and its "Gift of the Elements". The inspirational marriage of Old World ingredients and New World techniques gives Clontarf a style and class all its own. The Clontarf Gift Pack contains two rocks glasses bearing a frosted Clontarf logo on the front. The classy set is the perfect gift for any whiskey drinker.



Squeezing - by Robert Plotkin

Our latest Rober Plotkin article talks about squeezing greatness into every cocktail.

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.

12 Spirits Article Image

 

You don't need a college degree to know that the best cocktails are crafted using the freshest ingredients. The resulting drinks are more flavorful, vital and exuberant on the palate. Today, master mixologists are not only using freshly squeezed juice in their cocktails, they are also making their own bitters, syrups and drink mixes.

While using freshest possible ingredients seems to be the path to cocktail glory, it does pose operational challenges. Fruit needs to be procured and juiced on a near daily basis. Because the juices are not pasteurized, or laced with preservatives, continually ensuring their freshness is an ongoing process. The amount of prep work involved and the labor costs incurred makes the concept of "fresh" too steep for many operators.

"Fresh juices and ingredients are definitely the basis of better beverages, but the use of fresh juice is no guarantee of better drinks. That's largely a matter of balance," says noted beverage consultant David Commer. "It's common today to make drinks with super-premium spirits that can easily cost $1.00 per ounce. It makes no sense to me to compromise the quality of a signature cocktail by saving 3¢ an ounce on sweet 'n' sour. There are ways to overcome the labor objection including preparing fresh juices ahead of time for that shift, or using high quality prepared, or partially prepared products."

Barry Carter, vice president of beverage operations for Dave and Busters, has spent the majority of his career fine-tuning the inner workings of bars. "Do fresh juices and scratch ingredients enhance the flavor and character of cocktails? Sure they do. For upscale, one-off, or multi-unit independents, it's highly advantageous to employ a 'Bar Chef,' one whose passion is working with fresh-squeezed juices, purees, infusions, reductions, bar syrups and whatever else his creative juices can concoct. There are guests who will gladly pay a premium for these cocktails."

Carter continues on to say, however, that they're likely not in the mainstream. What about operators whose clientele aren't so loose with a buck? Or those concerned about the higher labor and product costs and speed of service issues that are thought to beset the 'fresh' strategy? Is there a middle ground where they too can take advantage of this burgeoning mega-trend? Carter and others insist there is.

Retooling Your Beverage Strategy

Unless one is preparing cocktails for guests at home, the question of whether to convert a beverage program over to fresh ingredients is a business decision. Proponents of using prepared drink mixes point to their consistency, convenience, labor-savings and shelf stability. Both sides of the discussion readily admit that there are a number of superior drink mixes on the market that offer operators viable options to scratch.

Dave & Busters' Barry Carter has worked in both environments. "Prepared mixes occasionally offer an alternative, but in my mind they are at the other end of the spectrum from absolutely-fresh-ingredients-all-the-time. As an example, several purveyors offer fruit purees that can be added to recipes and deliver a much more fruit-forward component and create more body in drinks such as Margaritas, Daiquiris and Mojitos. These products are relatively inexpensive, shelf-stable until opened and then good for at least 30-days if kept refrigerated. I suggest exploring all of your alternatives."

Firmly in the fresh camp is Jacques Bezuidenhaut, an award winning mixologist and beverage manager at San Francisco's Harry Denton's Starlight Room. "Detractors of the strategy are correct that fresh ingredients are more expensive and labor intensive, but something done exceptionally well normally is. Bumping the price of a drink a few quarters will adequately offset the increased cost. The overriding consideration should be drink quality. People are willing to pay a little more to drink better quality cocktails."

Philip Raimondo, mixology expert at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, questions whether scratch recipes are, in fact, more expensive than prepared. "Strawberry puree provides a good cost comparative example. A premium strawberry puree/mix costs approximately 12¢ per oz. You can buy fresh (or IQF) strawberries and prepare a puree about 6¢ per oz. The cost savings can be applied to the extra labor and you'll be making higher quality drinks."

The decision to retool your beverage program depends entirely on looking at the most frequently requested cocktails at your bar and scrutinizing whether there's room to enhance their taste, quality and presentation. If they could stand a little improvement-and let's face it, whose couldn't-then all that's left to decide is what changes need to be made and how can they best be implemented.

No one has more experience dealing in the realm of fresh than master mixologist Dale DeGroff. Quite possibly the world's most respected drinks expert and author of numerous seminal works on the subject, DeGroff has almost single-handedly brought the matter to international attention.

That having been said, DeGroff believes that with respect to some products, such as orange and grapefruit juice, some commercial alternatives may well be the best. "Most bars around the country have access to purveyors who sell fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice by the gallon or half gallon. They are very acceptable products. But they are unpastuerized and without proper handling will spoil rapidly. They must be delivered cold and kept refrigerated until used."

When it comes to lime and lemon juice, however, DeGroff sees no viable alternative to freshly squeezing them in-house. They are the foundation of most popular contemporary cocktails and in DeGroff's estimation prepared lime and lemon juice fall short of the mark.

"The problem is two fold. First, commercial juicers often grind into the white pithy portion of the fruit and produce an unacceptably high percentage of the bitter pith. When the juice is thawed-these products are usually frozen after squeezing to extend their shelf life-the pith will produce a white milky substance on the bottom of the bottle. When mixed into solution it will render the juice too bitter for use in cocktails. Second, lemon and lime juice don't have the same sugar content as orange and grapefruit juice. Thus, they have shorter shelf lives."

Operationalizing a Fresh Strategy

Developing the techniques and standardized procedures for incorporating fresh ingredients into your beverage operation may seem daunting and riddled with pitfalls. The following expert advice though is being offered to make the process less maddening and the learning curve less steep.

  • Juicing and Straining - There are several brands of juicers that are efficient and powerful enough to handle the rigors of commercial use. If you are switching over to using fresh juices, make room on your back bar for the juicer and a large bowl of assorted fruit. This will easily allow bartenders to freshly squeeze juice per drink order if so desired. DeGroff advises only squeezing fruit that is at room temperature. Cold fruit will yield roughly 1/3 less juice, which on an annual basis adds up to a lot of wasted fruit. According to DeGroff, "There will be times when excessively tart, acidic juice will require the addition of a little sugar (simple syrup) to bring it around to where it needs to be to make cocktails taste right."

    While pulp in orange or grapefruit juice is a cache of quality, lime and lemon juice needs to be strained before use. Pouring freshly squeezed juice through a chinois or kitchen strainer will do the trick.

  • Sour Mixes - The underlying foundation of many popular cocktails, such as the Margarita, Side Car, Daiquiri, Sour and Collins, rely on the use of sour mix. Trying to get by with just one sour mix, though, won't do. The Margarita and Daiquiri, for example, require lime-based sour mix, while Side Cars and Lemon Drops are made with lemon-based sour mix. The quality of the sour mix used greatly affects the finished cocktail. Much of the vibrancy of today's finest cocktails can be attributed to the outstanding character of the bar's sour mix. To provide added pizzazz to your sour mix, consider a splash of orange or grapefruit juice.

  • Purchasing - Be prepared to change your purchasing habits. Produce may need to be purchased and delivered on a more regular basis. For juicing DeGroff advises buying thin-skinned limes and lemons in 169 to 200 count boxes. Both yield the most juice for the buck. Fruit in lower box counts is better suited for use as garnishes. They are larger and have thicker peels. "While limes can vary dramatically by the season, the average yield is about three quarters of an ounce per lime," adds DeGroff.

  • Quality Assurance - Fresh juices must be refrigerated and therefore can't be kept at the bartender's well. The consensus is that a large part of the operational success of the program is dependent on the ability to predict usage levels. While only a guideline, most fresh juice won't keep for more than 24 hours before needing to be discarded.

  • Muddling - The Mojito and Old Fashion are micro-seminars in working with fresh ingredients. Into the glass go ingredients such as cut limes, oranges or fresh mint sprigs. It's the energetic muddling of the produce that releases their succulence and essential oils. Sugar is added to balance out the acidic pith. The cocktail is then ready to receive the spirits and various modifiers that make it a singular creation. Today, mixologists are preparing increasingly more cocktails with muddled cucumbers and fruit of every type and description.

  • Syrups and Bitters -Also known as gomme syrup, simple syrup is a workhorse behind the bar and crucial to the program. It is made with equal parts of boiling water and sugar. Its advantage when making cocktails is that unlike granulated sugar, simple syrup will immediately go into solution. Pros like Scott Beattie, noted mixologist at Cyrus Restaurant in Healdsburg, CA are also infusing their simple syrups and honeys with such flavorings as vanilla, or lemongrass. Before proceeding in earnest making your bitters, consider working first with the four franchise players in the bitters world, namely Angostura, Regans' Orange Bitters #6, Peychaud's and Fee Brother Mint Bitters.

  • Essential Oils - Beattie is also an advocate of using essential oils when crafting drinks. "They are 100% natural products made by steam-distilling organic material and separating out the oils in the material from the water (hydrosol). These oils can't be put directly into a drink as they are far too concentrated. You can, however, add a few drops to simple syrup or puree and completely alter it. This can potentially make your drinks very aromatic, which is normally rather difficult considering that cold things don't release strong aromas."

  • Mint - Mint has reentered the mainstream with the mushrooming popularity of such cocktails as the Mojito, Caipirinha and Caipiroshka. All rely heavily on delightful notes of fresh mint. Scrutinize the mint sprigs carefully to ensure freshness. The leaves should be supple and green. The final test is to crush a few leaves in your palm and take a whiff. The wafting aroma should be fresh and engaging.

  • Changes in Drink Recipes - Because fresh juices are vibrant and robust they will alter your bar's recipes. Anticipate using less of the fresh juice, or scratch sour mix than you did with prepared mixes. "Fresh juice is concentrated and cocktails made with it rarely use more than a three-quarter ounce portion, so usage will be differ dramatically," says DeGroff. "You get a lot of bang for the buck!"

Bottled Mixes Range From Good to Outrageous

A great drink mix is a thing of beauty even if it's packaged in a bottle. Pour them over ice, add a spirit or two, splash in a few modifiers and even the most beverage challenged amongst us can thrill the crowds.

For decades prepared drink mixes have been the cornerstone of the bar business. Most are made using natural flavors and are stabilized and pasteurized. It's their ease of use, consistency and utterly reasonable cost per ounce that makes bottled mixes so alluring. Ah, but do they measure up to contemporary standards?

Depending on how high you set your sights the answer is yes. Locking in on the exact brands that best suit your bar though is half the battle. As is the case with all products at the bar, the process ultimately renders down to making the pragmatic decision of quality versus cost.

Evaluating drink mixes is an art form with a shallow learning curve. Start by sampling light bodied, light flavored mixers first - sweet 'n' sour, Margarita and Mojito - before working with heavier products such as Piña Colada, Bloody Mary and Strawberry Daiquiri.

Taste the mixes side by side, sampling a version of each at room temperature and then another flight with the mixes over ice. Make note of the mix's color and opacity and compare that with your notion of what a scratch version might look like. Does the mix have an engaging bouquet?

The last qualifier is, of course, taste. Swirl it around your mouth, assessing flavor, mouth feel and eventually its finish. The winners will taste marvelous alone in a glass. If they can stand-up to that degree of scrutiny, they're bona fide keepers.

 


Proven Strategies for the On-Premise Operator

This may be the best resource guide ever written for controlling, managing and operating a beverage operation profitably.

Covering virtually every aspect of a beverage operation, Robert Plotkin has left no stone unturned. From analyzing bartender and server productivity to explaining how to use pour cost formulas to increase profits, it is a guide that anyone can use to increase their profits, reduce their costs and understand how to do it in a step-by-step format.

 

Plymouth Gin-Berry

Plymouth Gin-Berry Image Gin-Berry

  • 25 ml Plymouth Gin
  • 25 ml Lemon Juice
  • 25 ml Chambord

Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the Plymouth Gin, Chambord, lime juice and cranberry juice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon zest.

Sapling Maple Liqueur - Asha Brodie

Sapling Vermont Maple Liqueur Bottle Image Go ahead and indulge. Taste Sapling maple liqueur and enjoy a drink that is rich and full-bodied to appeal to all palates. The liqueur pours forth from a slim and lean bottle and inside you will find a liqueur that is slightly sweetened with the distinct taste of maple sugar.

With just one taste, you will want more and Sapling Liqueur comes just in time for serving your guests during this holiday season. For those who may not have heard about Sapling Maple Liqueur before it is one of the newest alcoholic beverages that is brewed and bottled in the Saxtons River valley in Vermont.

Vermont resident Christian Stromberg is the man behind Sapling Maple liqueur but the technique of adding flavors to liqueurs to create a unique taste is something that he has inherited from his ancestors. "My family brought the tradition of making liqueurs with them when they fled Czarist controlled Lithuania in 1906," Christian said. He added that the desire of flavoring spirits was really born out of the need to improve the taste of alcohol. "Raw alcohol is not pleasant, and old distillation methods would not have produced particularly high quality spirits."

Christian's inspiration for making maple liqueur came from the Krupnikas, a traditional liqueur from Lithuania which is flavored with honey. Based on the liqueur's popularity with friends and family here in the US, Christian decided to experiment with maple liqueur, striking a balance with the maple taste, its sweetness and strength.

Christian would not say for exact what goes in to brewing this liqueur, rather he chooses to keep both the recipe and process a secret. What he would say though is that the process of making Sapling Liqueur has a lot to do with aging. Currently there are not too many maple based liqueurs available on the market so Sapling Maple Liqueur stands in a class by itself. Another defining quality in Sapling Maple Liqueur is that unlike other liqueurs which use glycerin as a thickening agent, Christian said that he uses a high quality 100 percent Grade-A Vermont maple syrup as the main ingredient.

"Sapling achieves its smooth thick feel from the maple syrup itself. There is a strong association of maple syrup to Vermont, and Sapling embodies the taste like no other," Christian said.

Retailing at a price of $24.50, Sapling Maple Liqueur is gaining momentum with the alcohol buying public. According to Christian "it has been only on sale for three weeks now and already sales are ramping up". He added that a few stores have already sold out their inventory and are waiting to restock.

"There are a lot of maple aficionados here in Vermont, so I knew I had to get the taste just right."

Christian said that the liqueur is being sold with an accompanying drink booklet that gives the buyer some creative Sapling Maple Liqueur recipe ideas. He also revealed that he is working on producing more liqueurs but would remain tight-lipped on what their ingredients are. "If someone has an idea I'm opening to suggestions".

Recipes using Sapling Maple Liqueur

MAPLE MUDSLIDE

  • 1oz milk or half and half
  • 1 oz Sapling liqueur
  • 1/2oz coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Irish Cream Liqueur

Mix ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour over ice in your favorite glass.

VERMONT COFFEE

  • 5oz of hot coffee
  • 1 1/2 oz Sapling Liqueur
  • Add cream to your liking

Pour Sapling into cup. Add hot coffee and stir. Float or mix cream if desired.


Asha Brodie has spent an interesting 19 years in print media in Trinidad. She currently lives in the USA with her husband and daughter. Her lifelong love affair for writing continues...

 

Herradura Stocking Cocktail

Herradura Stocking Herradura Stocking Cocktail Image

  • 1.5 oz Herradura Silver
  • 3 oz Pomegranate Juice (Some are sweeter than others so adjust according to taste)
  • 3 Pomegranate seeds for garnish

    In a shaker with ice, add tequila and pomegranate juice. Shake for 10 seconds. Pour into a chilled martini glass. Add pomegranate seeds for garnish and serve.

    A cocktail stuffed with cheer, the Herradura Stocking will help you and your friends/family unwind while introducing you to the hottest trend in tequila - sipping with style.

    For those with good taste and an appreciation of the finer things, this high-end spirit will make the perfect holiday gift. Herradura is revered for its authentic distilling process, rich heritage and smooth taste. Most importantly, it will help your friends unwind while introducing them to the hottest trend in tequila - sipping with style.

    Herradura Silver bottle and a branded paloma glass - MSRP $39.99

    Herradura Silver Gift Pack Image

    Herradura Reposado bottle and two branded snifter glasses - MSRP $44.99

    Herradura Reposado Gift Pack Image

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