Monthly Archives: January 2010

Hearts and Cocktails for Haiti

Bar Celona, a relatively new tapas and cocktail bar Williamsburg, is hosting Hearts and Cocktails for Haiti this Sunday from 6-10 pm.  For $40, you’ll enjoy 4 hours of an open bar featuring rum punch, beer, cocktails and wine served by folks like Jim Meehan of PDT and Lynette Marrero of Rye House

More importantly, you’ll be contributing to an important cause.  They hope to raise $20,000 for the Red Cross.  Go show everyone your thirsty (and giving) spirit.

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Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand was a silent film released in 1922, starring Rudolph Valentino, Lila Lee and Nita Naldi.  The hero is a matador and there’s a love triangle.  Olé! 

It was based on the 1909 Spanish novel Sangre y arena by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.  Ibáñez shot a version himself in 1916 and others were made in 1941 and 1991.

Xena: The Warrior Princess’s new series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” is not related. 

What I’m excited about is the cocktail that was inspired by the 1922 version. 

This is yet another goodie I found in my Ted Haigh book.  Coincidentally, I recieved sample bottles of the Finger Lakes Distilling cherry liqueur today.  For all of you bartenders out there using Cherry Heering, you gotta try this!

Scotch cocktails should be more popular.  Sure, everyone knows the Rusty Nail (Scotch, Drambuie) and the Rob Roy (a Manhattan using Scotch instead of rye or bourbon), but people assume if they’re not Scotch drinkers, they won’t like Scotch cocktails.

You could use this one to prove them wrong.

1 oz. Scotch (I used Dewar's), 1 oz. orange juice, 3/4 oz. cherry liqueur (I used Finger Lakes Distilling), 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth (I used Dolin). Combine all ingredients over ice, shake and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a cherry.

I poured it for two regulars sitting at the bar.  One commented, “it’s nice and tart”.  The other said, “I don’t usually drink cocktails, but I could drink this.  I’m picturing myself in a Hawaiian shirt, with no shoes on, sitting on the beach.”

My work here is done.

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Pouring tableside

Over the summer I wrote a short piece about how a restaurant can show it cares about wine. 

I didn’t include pouring wines by the glass tableside on my list, but I should have.  The Detroit Free Press ran a great article on the subject a few days ago, citing how it’s a disappearing courtesy. 

I certainly understand the need to control costs – the main reason given for the decline of tableside pouring – but I also believe in the power of staff training.  If, as an owner or manager, you don’t trust that your staff will be able to pour the 5 or 6 ounces that comprises your glass of wine, what does that say about you?  The more you empower your staff, the better they will perform for you.   In the long run, you will also save money by allowing the guest to sample the wine prior to commiting to a full glass. 

The article didn’t mention it, but seeing the bottle is an important part of the drinking experience.  It’s nice to know that what you’ve ordered is what you’re getting and seeing the label can be a helpful tool when it comes time to remember the wine that you liked (or would like to avoid).

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Filed under Noteworthy articles, Wine

Pinot blanc, Trapp style

A few weeks ago I went cross-country skiing in Vermont at a place called the Trapp Family Lodge.  The Trapp family is the inspiration behind the classic musical and movie “The Sound of Music”.   We were attempting to sing this song in the car.  This video shows the lyrics, not that it helps much.

After a few hours out on their 60+ miles of trails, I have come to understand why NordicTrack claims “no other machine offers the calorie-burning, total-body workout of the original Classic Pro Skier”.

Horsing around in front of the lunch lodge.

At the end of the day, we hobbled to the gift shop, where I discovered that the Trapp Family Lodge features estate bottled Austrian wine. 

I picked up the 2008 Pinot Blanc from Höpler.  Pinot Blanc is a white mutation of Pinot Gris, which is a lighter-berried version of Pinot Noir.  It goes by Pinot Bianco in Italy, Klevner in Alsace,  Beli Pinot in eastern Europe and Weissburgunder in Germany and Austria.  This grape accounts for 6 percent of Austria’s total plantings and some argue it has its best expression here.  When dry, it tends to be fuller-bodied, round, with medium to high alcohol, notes of almonds and the ability to age. 

The wine had notes of honey, musk melon, white flowers and fresh herbs. The back label suggested ossobuco of rabbit, but it did just fine with Serrano ham, Manchego and Bleu d'Auvergne.

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Prior to the horseless carriage

Today I present another oldie-but-goodie from Ted Haigh’s book.  Though it’s called the Ford Cockail, it’s been around since 1895.

1 ounce Old Tom Gin (I used Hayman's), 1 ounce dry vermouth (I used Dolin), 3 dashes Benedictine, 3 dashes orange bitters (I used Regan's). Combine over ice and stir. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

It may have been named after Malcom Webster Ford, a famed athlete who in 1885 and 1886 was the winner at the National Championships of the long jump, 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash, otherwise known as a triple.  This feat was not accomplished again until Carl Lewis did it in 1983.  Maybe he was looking forward to consuming this delightfully simple tipple after the event.

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About.com announces whiskies of the year

Lance Mayhew, contributing spirits writer to About.com put out a piece this week on the top whiskies made in the United States.  I particularly like his choices for best rye and best corn whiskey.  Check it out here.

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Go Big Red

The Statler Hotel at Cornell is going to support Finger Lakes Distilling and someone on their team recently inquired about a “Big Red Martini” featuring Vinter’s Wildberry vodka.

I began brainstorming “red” items: muddled berries (out of season), cranberry juice (boring), cinnamon schnapps (yes, Goldschlager is still in production) and then I remembered a drink I had made awhile back featuring gin and ruby red grapefruit juice, called the Ruby Blossom.

I shared my challenge with bartender Gene Jacobs and he quickly whipped up 2 cocktails.

Tuesday afternoon fun at the L'Ecole bar

In the foreground is the Ruby Blossom, all proportions the same, sub Wildberry for gin.  In the background is an as yet unnamed Wildberry special:

2 oz. Wildberry vodka
1 oz. Cointreau
2 oz. blood orange juice
splash simple syrup
splash fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake.  Strain into chilled up glass and garnish with an orange peel. 

Granted, neither of these drinks are red, but they taste good.  Big Red Blossom?  Maybe we’ll leave the naming up to the Statler.

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