Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Product Review- Xante Liqueur

So I'm hanging out at one of the bars I work last night(Big shouts out to the South Loop Hotel Bar, and the L26 restaurant) and one of the mangers came up to me and said, "hey , I know you like Cognac, so have you tried Xante?" To his surprise I hadn't. I know right, Shame on me!!! A cognac lover like myself whose tasted a little bit of everything hadn't drank this.

So, I tasted it, then I tasted it again, then again, and again, and so on. As you can tell I liked it. Before I get into my personal assessment of  Xante, I would love to give you guys a little background on it. Did a little research on it and here is what I found out.....

Xante is composed by Richard Heinrich, master blender at Maison Heinrich Liquoristerie Artisanale. Young cognac from Distillerie des Moisans in Sireul, Cognac, is mixed with pear extracts from the Flemish fruit district north of Liege.

It has a taste that owns a combination of the soft sweetness of ripe pears and the potens and intensity of a fine cognac. So Cognac and pears is an amazing pairing. The smell that I got from this was flat out beautiful.. By the Cognac being aged in Oak, you get that rich, oak smell but then by adding the pear element it takes this drink to an even higher level.

So now comes the best part of a product review........ The tasting!!!

I tried the Xante straight with no ice in a snifter.. It was great. Light enough that it left no aftertaste or any burn, but still strong enough to be enjoyed by an avid Cognac lover. This is the type of spirit that is enjoyed alone, or can be used to spice up another drink. And very ideal for Coffee.

Now as far as mixed cocktails, Myself and my bartender sister Mita came up with a great twist on a margarita by adding Xante. So here is the Xante Mango Margarita

 2oz 1800 Silver tequila
 1oz Xante Cognac
 1oz Mango juice Puree
  Fresh Sour
  Shake and strain into a iced pint glass

And I looked on  the Xante website and got an idea for a great Martini so here's my take on it. I call it the "XanTini"


1.5oz Xante
.5oz Tanqueray 10
.5oz Grey Goose Citrus
a Pinch of Wasabi

Shake and strain into a Chilled Martini Glass, and Garnish with 2 Lime Wedges.

So hopefully you guys get to try Xante soon. I recommend it to anyone who likes cognac, and especially for those who are new to cognac based cocktails.  No bite, but the classic cognac feel to it. Will become a staple in my personal bar and will be a feature at the South Loop Hotel bar, and for most private events that I will work in the future!

Until next time

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Drink of the Week 8-21-10 Featuring The Vosges cocktail

Bacon, Chocolate, Vodka.....

Sounds like some weird breakfast pairing,.. But equally delicious at the same time. Now I love Bacon like the most men, but Bacon in a drink???? I had to examine further.

A few months ago, I saw that a Bacon Flavored Vodka was going to hit the market. I was torn, because while I love bacon AND Vodka(Normally a Cognac man, but love some Vodka cocktails) I wasn't sure about how they would pair together.

All that brings me to this blog post. I wake up this morning and I check my twitter timeline, and my good friend Alexander Garcia( follow him at @VodaMagazine ) Posts a pic of a delicious looking cocktail..... the "Vosges"

Immediately I was intrigued and wanted more info about this amazing looking cocktail.. Here is the words straight from Alexander's mouth...

"Last year BAKON started arriving on store shelves, a bacon flavored potato vodka. This raised some eyebrows and, like their home-brewed origins, mostly seen as a novelty items confined to Bloody Marys and other spicy/savory drinks.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat is a boutique chocolatier out of Chicago. The Mo's Bacon bar got a lot of attention, whether you love it or hate it, you didn't forget it. It was with Vosges Mo's Bacon Bar in mind that I came up with the cocktail. ...That and to show BAKON can do more that be put in a Bloody Mary. Now admittedly there are some recipes out there but not many.

I made this drink as I would most other cream drinks (e.g. Brandy Alexander, Pink Squirrel, etc.) but added Patron Cafe to help tie it together and round out the taste."
All I can say is wow.. For a person who's not big on chocolate, I really want to taste this drink!! So here is is..
The Vosges Cocktail
1 part BAKON vodka

.5 part Patron Cafe
1.5 part Creme de Cocao
3 parts creme

Prep is very easy... Ideally it good to use a milkshake mixer or blender to properly aerate and make it frothy

Rim the martini glass with agave syrup and dipped in cocoa powder. Pour drink and dust top with cocoa, add a pinch of bacon bits in the center. Garnish with Bacon.

The Finished Product....

I will be heading to Binny Beverage Depot this weekend to pick up the ingredients and make this wonderfully sounding drink. Here's a first hand account from Alex on the taste..

"I was honestly not expecting to like it but was surprised how good it actually was. The bacon is really subtle and not immediately recognizable and plays beautifully with the chocolate and coffee. The drink is smooth and creamy with a small bite. I don't know why but it reminds me of a Punche Crema (rum punch). When you serve it to someone without telling them it has bacon, it's one of those flavors where they can't quite put their finger on it. Once you tell them it has bacon they immediately recognize it."

So there you have it. Probably the best way to  have a Bacon flavored cocktail. I was very skeptical but now that Ive seen it, I'm ready to give it a shot. The last several years there been a resurgence in interest in bacon... probably started out as a joke but somehow a following grew. Then about last year I started hearing about people making their own vodka bacon infusions at home. Recipes and instructions started popping up on blogs all over the place. Still, it was something to just say you had but never really used.

Thanks to Alexander for providing me with the inspiration to go and play with this recipe and see what i can come up with.

Until Next time..

Monday, August 16, 2010

Product Review-- Conjure Cognac

First off before i even get started, I just want to say, I LOVE COGNAC!!! Cognac has been a staple in my life since I could drink. I remember watching my Uncles, and older Cousins, sitting around playing cards or Dominoes with an array of Cognacs from Hennessey VS all the way to Remy XO. So it fell in place for me when i started drinking.

Now in my opinion there is only 1 true way to drink Cognac... And that is neat and in a snifter. Bur since Ive been in the cocktail industry I'm starting to see a trend of Cognac being used in many different cocktails. Being a Cognac lover this interests me because I wanted to see what someone could do with a drink that stands alone.

Which brings us to this weeks product review.. Conjure Cognac.

Normally I'm a Remy 1738 drinker only, but a couple of months ago, I was in Atlanta and decided to give this new company a try.  While I was down in the ATL every bar, restaurant and Hotel had this bottle that stood out to me. At that time I didn't know, but the Cognac is the Brainchild of Chris "LudaCris" Bridges, who happens to be one of my favorite hip-hop artists! So why I was out, hanging at the Velvet Room nightclub I ordered it straight as I always do my Cognac. What I tasted was simply the smoothest cognac Ive ever tasted.!! No bite, no burn, no aftertaste! Just pure, smooth, no hangover inducing Cognac. Personally, I alternated between this and Remy Martin to see if there was a distinct difference. AND it was!!! Conjure is slightly smoother than Remy, and your getting an equally exceptional spirit at a few dollars less than other Cognacs.

So my first question non the flight home was, Is this available in Illinois??? So I was following Conjure on twitter( @ConjureCognac) and on Facebook and got a release date for Illinois. So I ran to my favorite Liquor store and grabbed a couple bottles. So i played around with a few cocktails, and I decided hey.. I got a great drink which was featured on Cocktails 365(Another great blog, which you all should be reading too) So i used Conjure in the Naked Martini..

Naked Martini-

1 1/2 oz of X-Rated

1 oz of Conjure Cognac

top with OJ

Strain into a Chilled Martini Glass

Needless  to say,m that this was an added treat to an already great drink! The smoothness of the Conjure blends very nicely with the X-Rated since it has traces of a fruit blended Cognac in it as well, so it was a perfect match for the Conjure. This also is a Cognac that's the Ladies can enjoy in a mixed drink or alone as well.

So if you love Cognac, and love great spirits..This is def one for you. Go to  http://conjurecognac.com/ to see if its available in your city! This is a new staple in my bar, and easily one of my favorite new spirits out!!

Until next time

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Straight Man----- Gay Bar

So in my normal morning routine, I walk to the corner by my home and pick up a copy of the Chicago Reader. Front page article was a pic of a Bartender and this was the caption... "Str8 Guy, Gay Bar"

Now this is a very interesting subject because I posed a question on my Facebook profile a few weeks back dealing with this subject. Now I feel the need to say this. I have absolutely NO problem with gays and lesbians. How you choose to be sexually is not my concern. I have quite a few gay and lesbian friends and enjoy their company no different than i enjoy my hetero friends. But it was very interesting to read the article.

The bartenders mentioned had no problem working in the environment and genuinely seemed very comfortable with being in the surroundings. Me personally I can understand why.  That community of people is very easy one to work in. Generally the people are not as aggressive, and while you still have some that are problems for you, overall the working experience is a very good one.

Now that brings this to me. I put a poll out there on my Facebook, and by text message to some of my closest friends and associates to see how they would feel if I was to take a job in a Gay establishment. Considering that these are the people in my life that know me the best,I was surprised that most said I shouldn't do it. Not because i was Homophobic, but because they thought I couldn't handle some of the advances of some patrons while I was working. Well I took all of that into consideration and I worked "Alternative" night at the bar to see if I can handle it.

I will say from being a straight man working on alternative night, you def see some things that you might not be used to, But its the same as any other night at the bar. You have customers that don't know what they really want, customers who are great, and customers who are flat out Assholes!! In my opinion there should be no problem with a straight man working in a gay establishment. Personally I had one run in with a patron who got a little to comfortable and didn't accept the no that i gave him but overall my experience working in that environment was ultimately a good one and I'm open to doing it again. I'm comfortable with myself, and know what I prefer(Mr.Mixologist Loves the ladies).

So I want to know what YOU ALL think. Do you have reservations about a straight man working in a gay establishment? Would you question one of your friends sexuality if they were working in a gay bar? Bartenders, would you be open to working in a Gay establishment? Weigh In!!! I would love to open up this discussion....


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ask a Bartender!

Hey everyone!! I'm fresh from competing in the Tanqueray and Tonic with a twist competition over this past weekend. I must say for my first competition, It was a great experience and something that I look forward to doing again. My hats off to the winners of the individual categories and to the grand winner as well. It was some steep competition, so next competition I will be even more prepared. Had a chance to talk with Peter Vestinos, who is the MAN in the Chicago spirits community. He gave me the best advice I've heard since playing HS Basketball. His words exactly...

"I've been in Hundreds of these competitions, and I've won some and lost some. But I've learned so much more from the ones I lost than the ones I won."

So while I was down on myself for losing, those words gave me a silver lining to the event. I had the chance to learn more about the industry I love, and connect with the Best of the Best in this industry and soak up knowledge for 2 days! I'll Be back and better the next competition I'm in!!

Now on to today's blog post. I'm going to try something a little different. People always ask me different questions about alcohol, the industry, what do bartenders like/dislike, etc... So once a week Ill post some good questions and give you guys my answer. Note all question are real questions fielded by people who have emailed in their question to DrinksOnMeinc@gmail.com or left it on my Facebook Page. Facebook.com/DrinksOnMeInc  Now i must say my answer wont reflect ALL bartenders, but I will base my answers on my experiences from working in the industry. But if any other bartenders have a difference of opinion please feel free to leave comments with your experiences so that the readers get a clear understanding of the questions. So here goes...

Question 1.
How many times in a night do you spit out the shots you take with patrons?

In an evening, while I am working, I don't drink the shot with Patrons. If someone buys me a shot in the evening, while i appreciate the gesture, I wait until my shift is over or the club/Bar is closed to drink it.  Plus its an ethical matter. If I'm drinking shots with you, there is no way for me to know when to cut you off if I am a little tipsy right along with you. And I would hate for something to happen to one of my customers, because of my negligence.

Question 2
How do you handle customers that have obviously had too much, but become irate when cut off?

This is a great question for so many reasons.. But the #1 reason is because it happens just about every shift! I try to kill them with Kindness. The more I smile and don't loose my cool, the easier the situation is. Most times when a person is drunk, and belligerent, if I attack back, or get aggressive with them, it makes everything worse.. So by working mostly in nightclubs, I tend to keep the person talking, and still motion for another bartender or even security to come over and assist if it becomes a safety hazard.

Question 3
What are the top three things YOU look for in a bartender when you're out having drinks?

Great question! Well being in the service industry, the first thing I look for is great customer Service. Greet me with a smile, place the coasters in front of me, let me know what specials are on tap. the next thing I look at in general knowledge of what you have in your bar. Let me know why I should have Ciroc over Grey Goose, Tanqueray over Bombay etc,, Nothing worse than a bartender who doesn't know what he or she is serving. And lastly I look to see if you properly are making the drink. Great measurements, a good shake and serving. Don't just pour alcohol in my glass. If i want to get drunk, Ill buy a bottle and go home. I want a great hand crafted cocktail. Show your expertise, and your skill in making a great cocktail.

So hopefully I answered all these questions in a manner that gives you a great answer! Thank you all for your submissions and lets get this going each and every week.

Until Next time