April 2009 Edition

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Dear April Fool,

Is winter finally over? If so then we better hit spring running. I've rounded up some great recipes to start off the warmer months ahead.

For those of you who missed it, I've posted a few pictures from the Night Club and Bar Show on the site. They can be found 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





The Raven's Caw

Raven's Caw Logo Image

Every once in a while, I get the chance to sit back and enjoy the company of some of my fellow journalists in the realm of adult beverages. Granted, these meetings are usually few and far between, as most off us lead double lives, masquerading in our day jobs as mild mannered booksellers, insurance salesfolk, teachers, and so on. However, on these occasions we gather to compare notes, chat about bars and cocktails and such, and to share our liquor cabinets,as many of us have fairly well stocked personal bars, (what with our almost obsessive shopping and purchasing of the next 'new' bottle). I recently had one of these occasions, and I was paid what I consider to be a very high compliment: I have a very odd collection of liquors. And no, before you start snickering, it wasn't odd in the "Why would anyone own these?" sense, but rather "What an interesting and eclectic collection".

I tell that story to move into my next bottle review, which is a terrible way to make a segue, but I was so jazzed at the compliment I had to share it with as many people as possible. Anyway...being known in my circle as a guy that likes alcohol (but not as an alcoholic, I hope) has a hidden benefit of being given bottles from far and wide as gifts. Whenever my friends or family go on vacation, I usually get a bottle from their destination. This, I must admit, is very, very cool. Last Christmas, I was fortunate enough to get two such bottles from my girlfriend's family: a bottle of Suntory's Yamazaki 12 Year whisky straight from Japan, and a bottle of Doña Engracia Reposado tequila from deep in Mexico.

I'll start with the Yamazaki. If you are anything like me, the notion of Japanese whisky doesn't exactly fit in with what you consider to be normal. Well, to put it simply, they know what they're doing over there. The story, as I heard it, goes like this: the Japanese, about a century ago, decided to go to Scotland and learn as much as they could about making whisky (which is why they spell it without the 'e'). They took copious notes, and returned with their best ideas, and started making hooch. It goes to show, I suppose, that with the best teachers you get the best results, and so the Japanese whisky distillers were born.

I'm not a preachy kind of guy, so I'm not going to tell you to run out and buy a bottle of the Yamazaki. What I will tell you is that this whisky is very enjoyable to me. As you know, I'm a whiskey guy, so I've got a couple of decent bottles sitting around the bar. After a particularly hard day at work a few weeks back, I came home with a taste for a grain-based distilled liquid. My choices were: Single Barrel Jack, Johnnie Walker Red, Isle of Jura Superstition, Maker's Mark, and the Yamazaki 12 (sorry Dan, I'm out of the Canadian offerings right now...). While I can usually count on the Single Barrel to calm my nerves, I had to go with the Yamazaki; it's just that good. If you've liked any of my previous recommendations, try the Yamazaki. If you haven't liked my previous recommendations, give me another chance. You will, hopefully, be pleasantly surprised.

The second bottle, the Doña Engracia Reposado, is well, tequila, and therefore not usually in my palate. I'm not really qualified to give a full review of this liquor, but I've shared it with a few friends who are, and I've gotten very good feedback. I can tell you that I was actually able to sip on a glass of it and finish the glass, which is no small feat for a tequila. I perused their website and it appears that this product may not yet be available in the U.S., but importation is in the works. With that, purely on the recommendations of those people I know who know tequila, if you find yourself down in Puerto Vallarta (or you see a bottle in a local store) it's worth giving this one a try. It has my "I didn't turn it away in disgust" seal of approval, which is the highest ranking I've ever given to a tequila.

Finally, and this is really important, The Raven is now on Twitter! You can follow him @TheRavenBN. On this Twitter account, The Raven will post updates about his adventures in drinking, including (hopefully), his many experiences at this year's Tales of the Cocktail. Don't make a grown man beg...follow the Twitter!


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.

The Raven now has his own e-mail address at the BarNoneDrinks. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions related "The Raven's Caw" to raven@barnonedrinks.com. Also accepted at this address are job offers, death threats, marriage proposals, offers to enlarge certain parts of my anatomy, awards nominations, petitions for absolution and anything else The Raven might need to know about.




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Raspberry IStini

Raspberry IStini Raspberry IStini Image

  • 3 1/2 oz. IS Vodka
  • 1/2 oz. Chambord Raspberry Liqueur
  • 1/2 tsp. Honey

Combine all ingredients in shaker with a handful of ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a Raspberry. Before OR after dinner... truly a Sweet and Delicious Drink!

What are consumers drinking?

As the stock market rides a rollercoaster, consumers are adjusting their spending habits in ways unseen in years. According to a survey released today, consumers are enjoying spirits as they take a break from the nightly news, and 88 percent of respondents see spirits as an affordable luxury.

More than 50 percent of respondents said people are hosting friends at home more often, but many bartenders also noted that their consumers are first hosting friends at home before heading out to bars and restaurants later in the evening. When they go out, consumers are tipping less compared to one year ago, according to 62 percent of the bartenders surveyed and a quarter of the respondents stated that whiskey is the next big category for mixing.

The survey was issued today by Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc. [Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE:FO)], the leading American spirits company, in collaboration with Clarus Research Group. Approximately 100 hospitality industry personnel, including bartenders and liquor store owners, were surveyed at the 2009 Nightclub & Bar Show held in Las Vegas earlier this month.

"In spite of the economy, consumers are still enjoying their spirits both at home and out in bars and restaurants," stated Bobby "G" Gleason, master mixologist for Beam Global Spirits & Wine. "It's clear from the survey results that my fellow bartenders echo my same optimism for the health and future of the spirits industry."

When toasting at home this spring, Bobby "G" recommends a few American cocktails:

The Big Apple The Big Apple Cocktail Image

  • 2 Parts VOX APPLE Vodka
  • 1 Part DeKuyper Red Apple Schnapps
  • 3 Parts Lemonade or Fresh Sour Mix
  • Top with Lemon-Lime soda

Shake all ingredients except the soda with ice and pour into a highball glass. Top with soda and garnish with a lemon wedge and a cherry.





Black Cherry Black Cherry Cocktail Image

  • 2 Parts Jim Beam Black® Bourbon
  • 1 Part Cruzan® Black Cherry Rum
  • Lemon-Lime Soda

Pour over ice and fill rocks glass with soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge.






Kentucky Sweet Tea Kentucky Sweet Tea Cocktail Image

  • 2 Parts Jim Beam Black Bourbon
  • 1 Part DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps
  • 3 Parts Sweet Tea

Pour all ingredients over ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

Beer Me

For as long as I've consumed alcohol, I've been disturbed by beer cocktails. I think it has something to do with the time when I was little and my mom told my grandmother not to put ice cubes in my milk. I somehow translated that into a belief that combining anything water-based (water, juice, etc.) with milk would make my violently ill. Then, when I started drinking alcohol, beer became the milk of booze: if it ever touched liquor, I thought, the results would be disastrous.

This belief was not helped by the recipes for beer cocktails I came across. The first one I heard about was the "Skippy," which is less of a cocktail and more of a trough. The recipe calls for vodka, shitty beer, and lemonade mix to be poured into a cooler. I remain convinced that this recipe was passed down over the eons as a way to unlock the gates to hell on earth. Especially if that hell contains a number of frat boys.

This discovery was followed by other unappetizing beer concoctions that, well, didn't seem to have a mixologist's fine touch. One cocktail recipe site that relies on user submissions included a recipe for "Banana in Beer," which is exactly what it sounds like. I suppose that's one way to kick a hangover.

Then there are the beer cocktails I found in the Culinary Arts Institute Cookbook. I picked this 1985 gem (it has a whole section on microwave cooking) out of someone's trash, which is perhaps where it should have stayed. Take the "American Colonial Flip," for example, which calls for beer, gin, eggs, and sugar, which you serve together, warm. Look: I'm not an egg-fearing soul; the Clover Club is one of my favorite cocktails. But talk about putting warm eggs and warm beer together with warm gin, and I'll consider only drinking wine coolers for the rest of my life (I just said "consider," okay?).

But last summer, when I was in Minneapolis, I went to Pizza Luce and tried their Apples and Oranges cocktail, a mix of hard cider and orange liqueur. It was wonderful, and I was forced to admit that in my mental library of drinks, cider sits right next to beer. It was also around this time that one of my trusted sources of drinks information started talking about the wonders of the Black Velvet, a mix of stout and champagne (that, incidentally, you should never, ever try to paint a picture of Elvis on).

So recently, finally, I dipped my toe into the world of beer and booze. I started simply, mixing the watery mainstay of PBR with a jigger of Pama pomegranate liqueur. Reader, it wasn't just palatable: it was good. It was a surprisingly balanced, tart-and-fruity drink that masked everything I dislike about PBR (well, except for its hideous hangovers). Hell, it was so good, I'm ready to try an American Colonial Flip.

Well...maybe not.


Meg Favreau is a writer and comedian living in Philadelphia, PA. Read her blog at www.ihearyoulikestories.com.

Jose gets ready for Cinco de Mayo

Margarita Martini Margarita Martini Cocktail Image

  • 1.5 oz. Jose Cuervo Platino
  • 1.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 oz. Simple Syrup

Mix ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Serve in a chilled martini glass straight up. Garnish with a lime wedge. Salt is optional.








 
 

Cuervo Silver Margarita on the Rocks Cuervo Silver Margarita on the Rocks
 Cocktail Image

  • 1.5 oz. Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila
  • 4.5 oz. non-alcoholic Lime Margarita mix
  • 1 tsp. Salt

Shake very well in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass over 8 oz. of ice.







 
 

Frozen Strawberry Margarita Frozen Strawberry Margarita Cocktail Image

  • 1.5 oz. Jose Cuervo Especial
  • 3 oz. Jose Cuervo Lime Margarita Mix
  • Handful of fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of crushed ice
  • Sugar
  • Fresh strawberry for garnish

Rub the rim of a margarita glass with lime and dip into sugar. Mix all ingredients in blender (except sugar and one strawberry) in blender until smooth. Pour contents into margarita glass with fresh strawberry.




Rosmarino Fizz

Rosmarino Fizz

  • 2 oz. Plymouth Gin
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. rosemary agave nectar
  • 1 small egg white
  • 2 dashes rosemary/grapefruit Angostura bitters

Place all ingredients in a shaker and shake DRY, WITHOUT ICE 15-20 seconds. Then WITH ICE 15-20 seconds strain into a short glass.

Place 2 large dashes of bitters inside the dry side of the mixing tin or into the mixing glass, if using a Boston set.

Add 1-11/2 oz of soda into the tin using the spout to pour soda over the film left in the tin from the egg white and gather a foamy mixture.

They will combine to create a reddish-brown foam/soda mixture which should be used to fill the glass and create an aromatic head to complete the drink.








Averna, G'Vine and Partida bring some Spring

Midnight Smash Midnight Smash Image

  • 6 blackberries
  • Juice of 1 meyer lemon, hand-squeezed
  • 1 oz. Averna
  • 1 oz. orange-flavored vodka
  • 2 oz. ginger beer

Muddle blackberries in a shaker, add the juice of 1 meyer lemon, Averna, and orange-flavored vodka and shake vigorously over ice. Strain over ice in a highball glass and add ginger beer. Garnish with an orange wheel.










 
 
 
 

The Lemon Peel The Lemon Peel Image

  • 1 1/2 oz G'vine Nouaison
  • 1/2 oz pallini lemoncello
  • 1/4 oz strega
  • 3/4 oz grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • dashes of reagan's bitters

Pour all the ingredients in a shaker, add ice, shake, and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with an orange daffodil and a sage sprig.










 
 
 

Ruby Partida Ruby Partida Image

  • 1 1/2 oz Partida Reposado Tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz Fresh Ruby Red Grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz French Cassis.

Shake the first 4 ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Dribble the ½ oz French Cassis down the inside of the glass so it will settle at the bottom.

Recipe by King Cocktail - Dale De Groff.

Dr. Bamboo - Watchtower Cocktail

Watchtower Cocktail Image Often when I'm making drinks for friends and I ask what they'd like me to make them, they don't have a specific answer. "What do you suggest?", or "Anything you feel like making" are common responses. While I enjoy the chance to foist a variety of both classic and contemporary recipes on willing, open-minded subjects, I hate the idea of just blindly throwing random drinks at people and hoping I come up with something they'll enjoy.

What I've taken to doing is something similar to what certain bartenders do, which is to determine what base spirits someone likes or dislikes. This usually amounts to me asking general questions like, "How do you feel about rum?", "Have you had any gin drinks you've liked?" and so on. It gives me a rough starting point, and once I've got a fix on what general categories of liquor are likely to be well-received, I can start from there and make a few other inquiries about secondary flavors (juices, syrups, liqueurs, etc.).

Obviously, the goal is to pull together a list of drinks that my guest(s) will likely find appealing. However, once I have an idea of their tastes, I also sometimes use the opportunity to re-introduce an ingredient that they don't care for...and attempt to redeem it for them with creative mixing. And there is probably no other ingredient that I take this approach with more so than whiskey.

It's been my experience that of all the base spirits, whiskey is invariably the hardest to get people to embrace (Gin and Tequila are contenders, but I can still find people more willing to take the leap with those). The reasons are legion... Past overindulgence, unawareness of quality product, aversion to strong flavor, and so on. Whiskey also suffers from a fearsome reputation as rough-edged firewater able to be enjoyed only by those with iron stomachs and epic tolerance.

I've found that the best approach to dispel these impediments to whiskey appreciation is to go gently. If someone is iffy about whiskey, plunking down a Bourbon & soda or a scotch on the rocks won't likely get you very far- it's the cocktail equivalent of throwing a nonswimmer into the deep end of the pool.

What I like to do is start with something like Irish whiskey, which as a category I find to be a bit softer, mellower, and more accessible than other whiskies. As much as I love Bourbon, rye, and scotch , they can be a bit ambitious for a newcomer. Canadian whiskey can be a good option as well, but can vary in flavor and quality, so I recommend trying a few until you find one that isn't too intimidating.

At that point, it really becomes matter of experimentation. Though not as plentiful as Bourbon and rye-based cocktails, there are many drinks containing Irish whiskey, and any decent bar guide or online drink recipe resource should yield several good options. Sample as many as you reasonably can and note how strongly the whiskey character evidences itself... and make notes for future reference.

Or you could do what I often do: create an original drink! Aside from being tremendous fun, it allows you to finely tailor the flavors & proportions to suit the taste of whoever you're serving. Whiskey pairs well with such flavors as vanilla, cherry, apple and various herbal liqueurs just to name a few. Cream liqueurs also work very well with most whiskeys, and they lend a sweetness that rounds the corners off the brown stuff. Tinker with abandon and enjoy the process!.

That's how I arrived at the following recipe, and I've had success serving it to the whiskey-averse...

Watchtower Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz. Irish Whiskey
  • 1.5 oz. Tuaca
  • .75 oz. Berentzen apfelkorn
  • .25 oz. Simple syrup
  • 1 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters
  • 1 dash Peychaud's bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a whole vanilla bean. (if you or your guests find it a tad too sweet, omit the simple syrup. )

~ A Dr. Bamboo original creation


Who is Dr. Bamboo? Some say he is a renegade scientist who renounced his original field of study to dedicate himself to the advancement of cocktail culture. Others claim he is a powerful shaman who practices the forbidden arts of a long-forgotten civilization. Still others maintain he is actually a traveler from a faraway world, sent to our planet as an ambassador of intergalactic fine living. Whatever the truth may be, one thing is certain: He makes a mean Martini. When he's not foraging for obscure drink ingredients and vintage barware, Dr. Bamboo works as a freelance illustrator and is the drinks columnist for Bachelor Pad Magazine.

Absolut Mango

World's Most Iconic Vodka Introduces its First Tropical Flavor ABSOLUT MANGO

The most popular fruit in the world and a staple in Asian and Latin diets, mangos bring a touch of the tropics to decadent dishes and desserts. Now, bar, restaurant and nightclub patrons can experience the true taste of mango in a variety of signature cocktails, such as the Absolut Mango Fizz, the Absolut Mango Spice and the Sage Lady.

SAGE LADY SAGE LADY Cocktail Image

  • 1 1/2 Parts Absolut Mango
  • 2-3 Leaves Fresh Sage
  • 3 Cucumber Slices
  • 1 part Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 part Cointreau
  • 3/4 part Fresh Lime
  • Dash Peach Bitters

Muddle cucumber, simple syrup and sage. Shake with ice and fine strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a spanked sage leaf.








 

ABSOLUT MANGO FIZZ ABSOLUT MANGO FIZZ Cocktail Image

  • 1 Part ABSOLUT MANGO
  • 2 Parts Lemon-Lime Soda

Pour over ice and garnish with a lime.















 
 

ABSOLUT MANGO SPICE ABSOLUT MANGO SPICE Cocktail Image

  • 1 1/2 Parts ABSOLUT MANGO
  • 1 Part Mango Nectar
  • 2 Slices Jalapeno
  • 1/2 Part Agave Syrup
  • 3/4 Part Fresh Lime
  • Dash Orange Bitters

Muddle jalapeno, agave syrup and mango nectar. Add remaining ingredients. Shake with ice and fine strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a jalapeno slice.

Frozen Mezcal-Avocado

Frozen Mezcal-Avocado Frozen Mezcal-Avocado Cocktail Image

  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 oz. agave nectar
  • 3/4 oz. agwa coca leaf liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. cointreau
  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. scorpion mezcal silver

Rim a tall glass with The Liquid Chef's Dehydrated Cactus-Lemon Grass Salt. Pour all the ingredients in a blender, add 1 cup of ice and blend. Pour into the glass.

created by Junior Merino, the Liquid Chef

Classic Italian coffee gets cooler

illycaffe Image

The classic taste of Italian coffee has become a whole lot cooler. Two of the world's great beverage brands, The Coca-Cola Company and illycaffè SpA, are bringing illy issimo, premium ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee products to the hottest locations in New York City.

Beginning this month, consumers in the City will be able to enjoy:

  • Caffè: bold and energizing, full-bodied character, real italian chilled caffè experience
  • Cappuccino: intense uplifting aromas of illy espresso, blended with velvety milk and exotic dark cacao
  • Latte Macchiato: energizing, smooth fresh illy espresso experience, swirled with pleasurable milky notes
The illy issimo line of top-quality Italian coffee products are made with illy's unique blend of pure Arabica coffee with no artificial colors, aromas, flavors or preservatives - the same coffee served in all the best Italian cafés. The traditional illy expertise has now been re-interpreted to bring the classic illy taste to young and active people across the world.

illy issimo will be available beginning in February at prestigious retailers in high-style neighborhoods in New York City. Current plans include further expansion to LA this year.

Illy issimo Chocolate Mochissimo

  • 1 oz fresh chocolate puree
  • 11/2 oz Brandy
  • 1 oz Cream
  • 2 oz issimo Espresso
  • Shaved Nutmeg

Illy issimo Espresso Martini

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Kahlua
  • 1/2 oz Tia Maria
  • 3 oz issimo Espresso
  • Coffee bean garnish

Illy issimo Amaretto Highball

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Amaretto
  • 2 oz issimo Cappuccino
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • Orange Zest

Illy issimo Latte Gin Fizz

  • 1 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Heavy cream
  • Dash Orange bitters
  • 1/2 oz egg whites
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz issimo Latte Macchiato

Illy issimo Strawberry Café Colada

  • 2 oz Rum
  • 1 oz Strawberry puree
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz issimo Latte Macchiato

Illy issimo Café Mexico

  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz Egg whites
  • Muddled Raspberries
  • 2 oz issimo Cappuccino
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup

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