Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 10- #30for30 The SeaBreeze

A warm ocean breeze... Laying in the sand, enjoying the sun, sipping on a nice smooth cocktail... Sounds good right??? Especially considering its winter and about 11 degrees here in Chicago. Which brings us to this weekends #30for30 the Sea Breeze.

Sea Breeze was actually one of the first drinks I made as a bartender. Sweet, tart, but very refreshing. A classic summertime drink. The cocktail was born in the 1920s, but the recipe was slightly different than the one used today. The original recipe called for Gin and Grenadine, as it was near the end of the Prohibition era. Ironically I'm posting this drink on the Eve of Repeal Day..

Sea Breeze
1 1/2oz Vodka
2oz Grapefruit Juice
1 1/2oz Cranberry Juice
Pour vodka into an iced highball glass. Fill partially with grapefruit juice and top with cranberry juice. Garnish with a lime wedge, and serve.

Refreshing and sweet this drink follows the renowned principle of balancing strong with weak and sweet and sour. It has a few variations, by adding Pineapple instead of grapefruit makes it a Bay Breeze. It is also closely related to the Cape Codder(Which doesn't use Grapefruit) and the Salty Dog(which doesn't use the Cranberry and is made with Gin)

So while we suffer thru these cold months and your sitting at home waiting for the weather to break, have yourself a Sea Breeze, a get a taste of the summer....

Until Next Time

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 9- #30for30 The Gimlet

The Gimlet is a simple yet good classic drink. No matter how you make it, its a pretty good start up drink for the evening. Its funny most of you have had some sort of Gimlet without even knowing that you ordered one. A Gimlet is made from Gin and Lime Juice. A 1928 description of the drink was: "gin, a spot of lime, and soda" (D. B. Wesson, I'll Never be Cured III).  A 1953 explanation of the drink, says that a gimlet is half Gin, half roses lime, nothing more nothing less. Here is the Original recipe for the Gimlet...

2oz Gin
1/2 Lime Juice
1/4 to 1.2 simple syrup
Garnish with a Lime Wedge
Build in a iced rocks glass, and serve.

In Modern time, Gimlets have moved to Vodka, and Tequila as alternates to Gin. So this is one of my shorter posts because well sometimes, as the saying goes, Simpler is better. This is a classic drink that has been around for ages and one that there really is no way of making wrong. Myself personally I enjoy a tequila Gimlet made with Inocente, Olmeca, or Espolon as I'm not a huge Gin fan.

Its funny, that I'm drinking a tequila Gimlet as I type this post. Very quick and easy way to end a busy day. So this is a very versatile, yet very relevant drink still to this day!

Until Next Time

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 8- The "Sidecar" #30for30

In case you guys didn't know this about me, I'm gonna make it clear... I LOVE COGNAC!!! All types. VS, VSOP, XO.. I love it all. Remy Martin, Hennessey, Pierre Ferrand, etc... Cognac is the drink of Champions!!! But that's just in my opinion. But this discussion of Cognac brings me to today's #30for30 classic drink the Sidecar..

The Sidecar is normally made with Cognac, Orange Liqueur(Grand Marnier, Cointreau) and Lemon Juice. The origins of this drink were unclear ant first, but I digged deep into learning about one of my favorite cocktails. I found out that this drink was created shortly after World War 1 in either London or Paris.  The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims the Origin of the drink.

The first recipes for the Sidecar appear in 1922, in Harry MacElhone's Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails and Robert Vermeire's Cocktails and How to Mix Them.

In early editions of MacElhone's book, he cites the inventor as Pat MacGarry, "the Popular bar-tender at Buck's Club , London," but in later editions he cites himself. Vermiere says in his book, "This cocktail is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck's Club."  Later on down the line, in David Embry's book,  The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks ,  he credits the drink to  an American Army captain in Paris during World War I "and named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened".

Now normally I enjoy my Cognac straight up and in a snifter, as a sipping cocktail. But I enjoy a Sidecar as well. So how exactly to make one...

1 1/2 Cognac
3/4 Grand Marnier(or Cointreau)
3/4 Fresh Lemon Juice
Shake all ingredients and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, rimmed with sugar. Garnish with an Orange peel.

Now the classic version of the drink is the one that is posted here, but if you are not a huge fan of Cognac,  Modern bartenders have concocted Sidecars with Brandy, Cognac, Gin, Vodka and even Irish Whisky!!! If you are ever in Chicago, Ill definitely make you a delicious sidecar(shameless plug) or if you are in the downtown area go by the WIT hotel rooftop bar and taste their delicious Blood Orange Sidecar in which they use Blood Orange instead of Lemon juice. Gives a completely different take on this classic drink!! As you can see by the photo below I was pleased by this selection!

Until Next time

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day 7- #30for30 The Pisco Sour

When I think of South America, as far as spirits and cocktails go, I think Caprihana, Mojito, Cachaca, and Pisco. Ive tasted all of those except for the Pisco Sour. I'm intrigued by this classic because it has some debates about its origin and ways to make the drink.

Both Chile and Peru claim to the origins of this drink. The roots of Pisco itself reach back to the 16th century and stem from Colonial rule. Now what is Pisco exactly? Well it is a Liquor distilled from grapes. Developed by settlers in the sixteenth century as a alternative when the King of Spain banned Wine. The people had to do something with the grapes...

Most accounts is that the Pisco Sour is a variation of the Whisky Sour, which was invented in the early 1920s by American expatriate Victor V. "Gringo" Morris at the Morris' Bar in Lima. The cocktail quickly became a favorite of locals. Soon many of the grand Lima hotels at that time such as the Maury and the Hotel Bolivar began serving pisco sours to their international guests, helping the drink become an international hit. An old advertisement of Pisco Sour was published in 1924 by the Morris' Bar of Lima.

Pisco Sour
2oz Pisco
1oz Lime Juice
3/4oz Simple Syrup
1 egg white
Dash Bitters

Shake hard or blend with ice and strain into glass. The bitters are an aromatic garnish, topping the finished drink, put on top of pisco sour foam.

Now normally Ive either made or drank the drinks that I post.. But this is a new one for me. So ill leave you guys with a video I found on the web that shows, to me, the proper way to make a Pisco Sour...

So I'm on my way to go get a Pisco Sour and Ill be making some at home to test out what i learned in this blog.

Until Next Time

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 6- #30for30 The Moscow Mule and a special review of Exclusiv Vodka

In the 1950s, Vodka took over!!! Before that most cocktails were made with Whisky or Gin. One of the most popular drinks during this time was the Moscow Mule. Doesn't sound too appetizing, but the name refers to the notion that Vodka is a Russian product.

The cocktail was invented in 1941 by John G. Martin of G.F. Heublien Brothers Inc, a spirits and food distributor, and John Morgan of Cock and Bull products(which made Ginger Beer). It consists of Vodka, Lime, and Ginger Beer. An article in the New York Herald Tribune explains the origin of the drink...

"The mule was born in Manhattan but "stalled" on the West Coast for the duration. The birthplace of "Little Moscow" was in New York's Chatham Hotel. That was back in 1941 when the first carload of Jack Morgan's Cock 'n' Bull ginger beer was railing over the plains to give New Yorkers a happy surprise... Three friends were in the Chatham bar, one John A. Morgan, known as Jack, president of Cock 'n' Bull Products and owner of the Hollywood Cock 'n' Bull Restaurant; one was John G. Martin, president of G.F. Heublein Brothers Inc. of Hartford, Conn., and the third was Rudolph Kunett, president of the Pierre Smirnoff, Heublein's vodka division. As Jack Morgan tells it, "We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d'oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius". Martin and Kunett had their minds on their vodka and wondered what would happen if a two-ounce shot joined with Morgan's ginger beer and the squeeze of a lime. Ice was ordered, limes procured, mugs ushered in and the concoction put together. Cups were raised, the men counted five and down went the first taste. It was good. It lifted the spirit to adventure. Four or five later the mixture was christened the Moscow Mule..."

Now on to my favorite part of the 30 for 30.. Making and Tasting the drinks I'm learning about.. So... Here is my version of the Moscow mule.. Oh and I changed the name to fit the product I used...

The "Exclusive Ass"(Play on the Mule.. lol)

1 freshly squeezed Lime
2oz Exclusiv Vodka
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Regatta Ginger Beer
Build in a Collins glass, the freshly squeezed lime, add the Vodka, maybe 2 or 3 dashes of the Bitters, then Ice and Top with Ginger Beer. Garnish with the leftover lime..

So a couple weeks ago I got an email to check out and review some Exclusiv Vodka. I jumped at the chance as my personal bar is filling up with hard to find products. So I got it and immediately oped the bottle and took a good whiff of the product. Was blown away...  You can almost smell the wheat, as the vodkas Origins take it back to the fields in Moldova, that's near the shores of the Black Sea. So the Russian imprint is definitely there. The one thing I enjoyed most about this vodka was that it was no burn in it as well. Went down smooth, and had a distinct taste, almost like it was "Exclusive"....(Get it, heh heh).

So I didn't want to just have it in a basic Cran and Vodka or OJ and vodka so I paired the old with new and got myself a new take on a classic cocktail!! The "Exclusiv Ass" will be a constant drink at my home bar and as we get Exclusiv here in Chicago, Ill start making them behind the bar.

So the Moscow Mule is def a drink that can be enjoyed by all, esp Vodka Lovers.. So get yourself one next time you are out and about. And when you get to pick up that bottle of Exclusiv try it at home and get yourself a piece of "Exclusiv Ass".Play on the Mule, not literally... well If you

Until Next time

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 5 #30for30 - Old Fashioned

Old fashioned. Easy. Simple. Straight to the point. Alot of Modern things take alot of dips, and turns, and dives, and complicate things... But doing it the "Old Fashioned" way(as my dad used to say) makes things so much easier. Which brings us to Day 5 of the 30 for 30, the "Old Fashioned"

If you notice a trend with the first 5 posts its been Gin and Whisky. Back in the old days those were the most popular spirits, and most readily available. The first noted use of the Old fashioned was at a gentleman's club in Kentucky in the 1880s, when a patron asked for a cocktail using Bourbon Whisky. The recipe is said to have been invented by a bartender at that club, and popularized by a club member and bourbon distiller, Colonel James E. Pepper, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City. The name Old Fashioned references the combination's age. It is possibly the first drink to be called a cocktail. Now on to what exactly is the old fashioned and the recipe... Well here is the recipe for the perfect Old Fashioned.

Old Fashioned
2oz Bourbon Whisky
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Splash of water
1 Maraschino Cherry
1 Orange Wedge
Mix sugar, water and angostura bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Drop in a cherry and an orange wedge. Muddle into a paste using a muddler or the back end of a spoon. Pour in bourbon, fill with ice cubes, and stir.

There are many ways you can make this drink, as many different bartenders produce this in many variations. I always hear customers say I want a properly made Old Fashioned. Myself personally I don't muddle the fruit into a paste, just lightly just so that it adds a little color to it. But those are for my drinking purposes. For most of my clientele, I use Simple syrup instead of sugar. Simple Syrup eliminates the chance of undissolved sugar being left in the drink and killing that last sip. Or in some cases I use the juice from the Cherry, and leave the muddled cherry at the bottom of the glass.

So if you are in Chicago, The best Old Fashioned Ive ever had(outside of my own of course.. You can come see me at the South Loop Hotel Bar for one. Shameless Plug) is at Zed 451 in the River North section of the city. All the bartenders there make excellent Old Fashioned

So next time you are at the bar and are feeling adventurous, do it the "Old Fashioned" way and enjoy yourself one..

Until Next time

Day 4- The Classic Martini

"I Like my Martini Shaken, not Stirred"-Sean Connery as James Bond in GoldFinger

The Martini is by far the most popular drink in the History of cocktails. There are so many variations of a Martini, From Cosmos, to Appletinis, to Chocolate to just about any flavor you want. But there is only one "Classic Martini".

Classic Martini
2 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1 olive or Lemon Twist
Optional- Orange or Angostura Bitters

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes .Stir for 30 seconds .Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a dash of orange or Angostura bitters, if desired. .Garnish with olive or lemon twist

One theory of the origin of the Martini is set in the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City in 1911. Supposedly, the bartender who created it was named Martini. Another theory claims that in 1870 a gold prospector struck it rich mining gold. To celebrate the miner went to Julio Richelieu’s Saloon for Champagne. The bar was completely out of Champagne so the bartender mixed up a special cocktail. Richelieu gave the miner a small cocktail with an olive in the glass. He called it the Martinez after the California town.

Now whether it was First made in NYC or by some Gold prospectors, this drink is widely the most popular and most well known drink in the world. But an even more important question..... Should a Martini be shaken or stirred???

Shaking the Martini makes it colder. In fact makes it Ice Cold. In the 1950s, most of the vodka that was available was distilled from potatoes. Potato vodka is very oily and by shaking it, disperses the oil. So those that rather had Vodka than Gin for their Martini usually wanted them Shaken.

Some connoisseurs, however, are horrified at the notion of shaking a martini. Shaking is believed to "bruise" the gin, causing it to taste slightly bitter. Shaken martinis also have a cloudier appearance, caused by small ice fragments created when the cocktail is shaken.

So after my research I can contend that its all to your personal taste. Myself personally I enjoy my Martini Shaken lightly with a Lemon peel for garnish. Oh and occasionally I enjoy a "Dirty Martini". But I like my dirty with Beefeater Gin, extra dry and extra dirty..

So if you enjoy Cosmos, Appletinis, and many of the modern day flavored martinis, take a little time and have yourself a classic Martini. I guarantee you wont be disappointed!!

Until next time

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 3, 30 for 30- The Negroni

The Negroni.. Another Gin based classic that Ive grown to love. Best Negroni Ive had was at Death and Company in The East Village in NYC(Shout's out to my main man Jason Littrell and Lane for a great evening of classics).

Funny as I was researching this great drink, the origins are pretty hard to come by. But I found that this cocktail was invented in Florence, Italy allll the way back in 1919. Supposedly the Count at the time, Camillo Negroni, invented it by asking the Bartender to spice up his drink, the Americano, by adding Gin instead of Soda water. Then the bartender went into his creative juices and added a orange slice instead of the normal Lemon to show that its a different cocktail.

After the initial creation, and subsequent success of the drink, the Negroni family founded and opened the Negroni Distillery in Treviso Italy in 1919 and produced a ready made version of the drink sold as the Antico Negroni.

So here's the proper way to make a negroni..

1oz Gin
1oz Sweet Vermouth
1oz Campari
Garnish with an Orange Slice
Pour gin, vermouth, and Campari into a chilled Old Fashioned glass over ice; garnish with a slice of orange.

For a longer drink, add Soda water or Shake and strain it into a Cocktail Glass.
My personal view of this drink...Well I think most cocktail experts would say that this drink should be stirred, not built or shaken, whether served on the rocks or up in a cocktail glass. That said, I prefer it on the rocks because you get to enjoy the evolving flavors as the ice melts, and the drink stays ice cold.
The Negroni is a great before dinner drink and definitely one you should try out ASAP. A little bitter but if you want a drink that's classic and a different taste than the norm, this is the one for you!
Until next time

Saturday, November 27, 2010

30 for 30 Day 2-- The Perfect Manhattan

Whisky... I mean who doesn't love Whisky???  Rye, Canadian, Bourbon, Blended, and Tennessee.. Plenty of selection here you think? Well all of those can be used to make today's classic cocktail, the "Perfect Manhattan".

A little history for this wonderful drink....

History suggests that this drink was created at the Manhattan club in NYC(starting to see a trend here with Classics, but that will be discussed later on in the 30 for 30) for a banquet for then presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden in the early 1870s. That's a long time for a drink to still be around and be relevant still today. Now while that is the most popular story tracing this drink back to its roots, there are other accounts that it was created by a bartender in the 1860s by a bartender named Black at a bar on Broadway near Houston street in NYC.

Now there are a few different recipe variations but this is the one most commonly used..

The Perfect Manhattan
2 oz Whisky
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2oz Dry Vermouth
Dash of Bitters
Swirl with ice to chill, Pour into a cocktail glass, and Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

The Manhattan is subject to alot of change, variation, and innovation. Ive Been known to play around with the recipe and use lime juice, Cointreau, triple Sec, and many other flavors and ingredients to put a spin on the Manhattan.

There are many ways to enjoy a Manhattan. I prefer the original recipe and made with Makers 46. But here are a few ways that you can enjoy a Manhattan...

Dry Manhattan- No sweet Vermouth, only dry. This drink was made popular by Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.
Cuban Manhattan- A perfect Manhattan made with Dark Rum(Appleton, Goslings, or Meyers for the best results).
Royal Manhattan- A perfect Manhattan, made with Crown Royal Canadian Whisky.

So this has easily become a favorite of mine, and hopefully after reading this if you haven't had a Manhattan yet, You'll try one ASAP!!!

Until next time

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 1 of the 30 for 30---> The Aviation

Classic Cars, Classic Music, Vintage clothes and appliances... Everyone loves them. Kinda gives you a glimpse into the past, and also lets you know how up to date items were derived.

So why not Cocktails?? Classic cocktails are making a huge comeback all around the country and Craft Bartenders are putting their own spins on these. So let me digress.. Ive been a bartender for a long time, and honestly(and I hate to say this) only in the last couple years Ive began to really discover, taste, and make the Classics. But in order to know where you are headed, you need to know where you came from.

So after some great advice I received from a fellow bartender( Thanks Josh, follow my boy and mixologist Josh Pearson on twitter @josh_pearson) Ive shifted my focus in this industry to the classics.. So for the next 30 days from the Turkey day all the way to Christmas day I will give you a classic cocktail, a little history, recipe and prep...

So what better way to start than with the time tested, excellent classic the "Aviation".

The Aviation
2 shots gin
1/2 shot lemon juice
Dash Maraschino
Dash Crème de Violette
Shake well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

The Aviation was was created by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in NYC(my favorite city in the world) in the early twentieth century. The first published recipe for the drink appeared in Ensslin's 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. Ensslin's recipe called for El Bart gin, lemon juice, maraschino, and crème de violette, a violet liqueur which gives the cocktail a pale sky-blue color. Upon some more research of this fine cocktail, I found that its also considered a variation of the Gin Sour and using the Maraschino as a sweetener.

Now I'm in the lab, and since I don't have any El Bart, I'm making my Aviation with 1st Tanqueray 10, and another with Hendrick's. The Tanqueray 10 really mixes well  and to me is the premier Gin in the industry today. Unfortunately I don't have any Creme de Violette, so I was unable to get the full experience today, but this is what i came up with in the lab....

So now my first 30 for 30 is done, I want to tell everyone to enjoy your Holiday! Eat Drink and be Merry! And hey while you at it, have yourself an Aviation!!!

Until next time..

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drink of the Week featuring the ladies of Poshly Chic Cocktails

According to ,The Definition of Posh is summed up in one word.. "Luxurious". That pretty much explains why the 2 ladies I'm spotlighting this week, Nataki and Nita, are the Owners of Poshly Chic Cocktails.

Just to give you a little background on these ladies, a couple months ago I received a post on my FB fan page wall that said, hey Poshly Chic likes your page and we want you to like ours too. I was interested, because I love meeting more people in this industry. So upon looking at the page I found out that they were not only Cocktail Enthusiasts, but they had a private Mobile bartending service in Las Vegas. I immediately showed them support as Drinks On Me is a mobile bartending service here in Chicago, and I have a few other friends with their own mobile services as well. If you are in the Texas area Be sure to check out Flirtini Bartending Service, Paradise Cocktails Bartending service, and Majestic Bartending services for your private party needs!

So Ive been watching and seeing some of these ladies custom cocktails and just had to do a profile on them on my blog. Here's what Poshly Chic is all about straight from Nataki and Nita...

"Poshly Chic Cocktails is a premier mobile cocktail service specializing in martinis. Co-owned by Nataki W. and Nita S., Poshly Chic Cocktails thrives on setting a new trend in event/party planning. As cocktail enthusiast, we’ve identified a need in the Las Vegas area for specialty cocktails. Our drinks are not merely mixed, but instead made with the finest ingredients and dazzled with a classy touch. They are sophisticated, pleasing in flavor, and presented in the most posh way. We pride ourselves on reliability, being well organized, and maintaining a positive and professional attitude at all times. We strive to please our clients, while making your event Posh and Chic!  Whether in Las Vegas for business or pleasure we would love to host your event/party. We can accommodate all venues including timeshares, corporate housing, or even the “suite life”. We are sure to make your party/event a huge success. Our motto: Let us mix, while you mingle!"

So on to the best part of the blog.. the "Drink of the Week"!! The custom cocktail they provided me is the 'CoCo Cabana"

CoCo Cabana
1 Part Coconut Vodka (Ciroc, Van Gogh, UV)

1 Part Strawberry Banana Nectar (Kerns, Del Valle, Jumex)
2 muddled Strawberries

Rim martini glass with toasted coconut shavings.
Muddle Strawberries. Shake coconut flavored Vodka and nectar vigorously in shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass and serve. Splash with ginger ale if desired.

Trying this drink as soon as I get home this evening! When I read the recipe and Prep, one word came to mind... DAMN!!!

Here are a few other pics of some of the ladies custom cocktails and event setups.

When in Las Vegas these are definitely the ladies to see for a good cocktail. You can find my 2 friends on various social networks listed here...

Hope you enjoyed this post and Until next time..


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Great "Chicago Fire"

A muddler, some strawberries, limes, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and agave syrup....Sounds like a helluva meal right? Well this is good for your palate, but you wont eat it, adding one more thing and you have my custom "Luxury Drop" and cocktail, the "Chicago Fire"

Now whats a luxury drop you may ask? Well here's a little background on how i came up with the "Chicago Fire".

So a couple weeks ago I walk into Mercadito(Great Spanish restaurant in the River North section of Downtown Chicago) for a Don Julio event with the Master Distiller. So i walk into Double A(the downstairs lounge) and I see a table with Don Julio Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo, along with a myriad of ingredients from spices, to fruit, to syrups.. Needless to say I was amazed at the different variety that was available for sample. So myself and my partner Ray( @Bartend4fun on the twitter network) were entered into a impromptu contest to create the luxury drop.

So a luxury drop is not a 1oz shot, but not a full cocktail either. Its about 2oz of alcohol with an array of tastes inside it. So here is the "Chicago Fire"

Chicago Fire
Muddle 2 strawberries and 2 Lime
1 part Agave syrup
1.5 oz Don Julio
Dash of black pepper
Dash of Cayenne Pepper
Shake and strain
Float Cinnamon on top

Sounds crazy right??? Its super sweet but also spicy! So it hit each and every sense inside your tongue. Now unfortunately we didn't win the contest, BUT I had the opportunity to headline this drink at a private bday celebration over the weekend and needless to say everyone LOVED this drink! Most of the guys enjoyed it a little more spicy, and the ladies liked it sweeter. But its to your personal taste.

I doubled up on the Tequila and made it 2 1/2oz & by doing that it made the cocktail kick like nobodies business. This is a drink that can be made as a shot, or as a full blown cocktail. so if you love tequila, and like sweet and spicy,this is the drink for you!!

Oh and I almost forgot the most important part of this drink, and this is what takes the taste over the top, the Garnish... For a garnish you take a half of a strawberry, coat it with Cinnamon and Cayenne Pepper. Take 2 bites then swallow the shot!!! Will open you palate up like you've never felt before. Or you can just have the garnish with the cocktail version and dip it into your drink, the choice is yours...

Until Next time

Friday, September 3, 2010

Drink of the Week for 9-3-10 the "PoolSide"

Well it Labor Day weekend, so that means its the end of summer. Damn Damn Damn!!!! But with Fall right around the corner, I was thinking what end of summer drinks for this holiday weekend can I come up with.

Fortunately, my good friends over at Pool Vodka(follow them on twitter @PoolVodka) hit me up and asked me to do a review of their product. I jumped at the opportunity and was not disappointed!! Pool Vodka is Great!!!

Pool is a triple distilled premium Vodka that is infused with their natural fruit blend! It gives Pool a distinct and memorable taste. And the color.. Oh My!! Pool has a very rich, Blue color.. Kinda resembles a swimming pool... heh heh.. OK corny joke, but hey I couldn't resist.. lol Pool is so tasty it can be enjoyed alone, on the rocks or as a cocktail.

So when I received my package from Pool, I got some good drink recipes enclosed, but being the mad scientist that I am I had to experiment on my own and come up with something new.. So I present to you all the "PoolSide"

1.5oz Pool Vodka

1oz Triple Sec
.75oz Berry Chill Energy Drink
layer the top with X-Rated

Place all ingredients into a mixing glass, shake and strain into a Chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a Cherry!

Needless to say, Ive been drinking PoolSide's the Last couple of days. The fruit blend in the vodka, and topping it with the X-Rated makes it a very pleasing drink to your palate if you enjoy fruity cocktails. Oh and the Berry Chill energy drink, gives it a whole new taste and feel. The first time i mixed it i did it without, but adding that gave that extra Jolt to take this drink over the top!!!

If Pool Vodka is not available in your area, follow them on or the official Pool website--->

So everyone enjoy your holiday weekend, be safe, drink responsibly, and If you can get your hands on a bottle of Pool Vodka, make yourself a PoolSide and enjoy one of the last few weekends of warm weather!!


Until next time

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 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 or left it on my Facebook Page.  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

Friday, July 30, 2010

Drink of the Week for 7-31-10 Featuring Lewis Spindlove the UK Bartender!!

Yeah, I'm moving around and meeting many people in the cocktail world. This weeks Drink of the Week segment is special because I'm featuring not only a great bartender but one from across the Water, Lewis Spindlove.

 He is a great friend of mine via the twitter network(follow him @BartenderUK ) and a wealth of cocktail knowledge.  So i spoke with him earlier and here's what Lewis told me about his cocktail background....

I'm Lewis J. Spindlove, 26, company director of The Bartender Hire Company Ltd. We hire out professional cocktail bartenders to private events, parties, corporate days and more.

 My bartending life began in 2002 when I moved to Bristol for university. I started working some bars and got into cocktails and flair. Worked several bars in Bristol including consulting several more and training numbers of bartenders. Competitions came and went with results including 1st place Angostura/ Haymans mixology comp 2007, Prepare To Flair @ Roadhouse 'Most Entertaining' 2008 and a sponsorship deal with Bacardi Brown Forman and Bottlegreen. Nowadays I organize the events and recruit the bartenders, scouring the country for competitions and shows selecting only the finest young talent to join our team.

Very Interesting way to move ahead in the cocktail world!! So i asked Lewis for a few of his cocktail recipes, and these are what he sent me... They all sound delicious!!!

Garden of Eden:

50ml Gin
10ml bottlegreen Elderflower Cordial
5ml Lime Juice
3 torn mint leaves
60ml Cloudy Apple Juice

Shake hard, strain into long glass with ice. Garnish with mint sprig. Drink on a hot day. Invented for the Haymans comp using Haymans Old Tom gin.

Here's the Garden of Eden... Doesn't it look GREAT!!!!

Away in a Manger:

35ml Calvados
15ml Krupnik
10ml Apple Juice
5ml Lime Juice
Pinch of Cinnamon

 Shake hard, strain into long glass over ice. Top with Ginger Beer. Drink at Christmas instead of eggnog. Invented for a British magazine

Hope you guys liked the background on my bartender brother Lewis and  when i make it across the pond, this will be the first person I look up. Check Lewis out on these websites and social media sites..

Also as a side note, I would like all my Bartender,cocktailers, and cocktail enthusiasts to check out my sister website The Bartender Lounge. This is a place where all our professional opinions can be heard and we also can get compensation from it. If you will please follow this link and sign up and enjoy...

Until Next Time

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Drink Of The Week for 7-17 featuring Mixologist Michael Carter

This weeks drink of the week is a little different. I normally feature a bartender that's currently on the bar scene. This week features my man Michael Carter from the ATL by way of my hometown Chicago. So I asked Michael since your not a full time bartender, what made you become interested in the cocktail world?? Here's his answer and some background on this Mixologist..

"The reason I got into mixology was because I thought it would be a cool hobby and something good to learn. Living in Atlanta, also drinks were becoming very expensive and poorly made. Steven Kowalczuk who is a Master Mixologist brought the concept of Mixology Classes to Atlanta in which a different spirit would be sponsored and we would learn how to make 4 drinks using the spirit and learn about the history behind it. I have completed over 30 mixology classes to date.

Mixology really took off for me due to the opportunity to create our own signature cocktails and compete against each other. I have competed in 3 competitions and submitted a video for the Bacardi Star of the Bar competition. Mixology is a great way to entertain, learn and have fun with mixology. Though I am not a working bartender, I have completed the 100, 200, and 300 series of mixology courses designed by Steven and I am always ready to compete.

 My favorite spirit to work with is Gin because it is versatile and can be substituted in most drinks in place of vodka."

Here are a few of Mike's signature cocktails. The first one is called the "This is It" But like any true Mixologist he was mum on the ingredients.. But some fine looking cocktails!!!

I also was given a video from the Summer Razz that Mike was in. Def check out this video!!!

This is definitely someone who I'm glad I've connected with and trust any competitions I'm in from here on out, ill def be looking over my shoulder to see if Michael is in it as well. I'm glad that Michael is showing us that this is an industry to take notice of, and one you can find fulfillment and enjoyment in, even if you don't do it full-time!!!

You can follow Michael on twitter( @Mdot7) and if you are ever in Atlanta, look him up and grab one of his tasty cocktails. I tip my hat to you sir!!!

Until next time

Monday, July 12, 2010

Product Review--- Inocente Tequila

First off, for a long time i wouldn't touch Tequila! When i first began drinking, i never heard anything good about tequila. As Ive gotten older and been in the cocktail industry, the Tequila trend has taken leaps and bounds and I have developed a taste for it. To me Tequila has become the new Vodka....

When people come to my bar, I sell just as much Patron, 1800 and Jose Cuervo as i do Grey Goose, Ciroc, and Ketel One. I have had a particular fondness of 1800 lately myself. But as i was tweeting and talking drink with some of you guys on twitter(follow me @MrMixologist.. Shameless plug once again) the good people over at Inocente Tequila reached out and sent me a bottle of their product to try out for myself.

Needless to say i was thoroughly pleased! First the bottle that its in the absolutely Sexy! The bottle does a half curve and its very eye-catching. So if I'm walking thru the liquor store this bottle def stands out!! So i did a taste test and was surprised. Inocente is VERY SMOOTH. No after taste and didn't burn on the way down. This is a tequila that a professional drinker and even a newbie to the tequila world can both feel comfortable drinking without adverse consequences.

Here's a little background straight from my contact at Inocente...

"The distinctive blue bottles are each a unique work of art that are hand blown from 100 percent recycled glass and shaped into their signature “twist” by Mexican artisans. Beautiful to look at on a bar shelf, the bottle was designed to be recycled as a decorative piece after the tequila has been drunk. Whether used as a flower vase, a vessel for your favorite olive oil or as a piece of glass sculpture on your shelf, the bottle is as visually sophisticated as the contents are elegantly tasty.

Inocente gets its unique taste by using the finest agave, grown in the rich volcanic hills outside the town of Tequila, and only all natural ingredients in a process that marries age old techniques and modern distillation methods. While most premium tequilas are double distilled, this platinum tequila uses a triple distillation process to create that ultra smooth taste and palate feel that defines Inocente Platinum Tequila and to remove the organic compounds that contribute to next morning headache. A micro-oxygenation process that injects tiny bubbles of air into the juice is performed post-distillation to remove any additional harshness and enhance the clean notes."

So drinking a triple -distilled tequila will give you the smoothest and finest tequila you probably have ever tasted. The Spirit by itself was good enough for me to switch over from 1800 and drink this alone, but once i tried the signature cocktail, the "Inocente Italiano" I was blown away!!!

Inocente Italiano

1 1/2 oz Inocente
1/2 Campari
1.2 Lemon Juice
1/2 Simple Syrup

Shake and serve in a rocks glass over ice, with a Lemon Twist.

Absolutely Delicious!!!!

So if you are in the New York, New Jersey area please go and grab a bottle of Inocente. I cant wait to order another bottle for my personal bar at home. You can find Inocente on these Web Pages.


Until Next time