Sunday, January 26, 2014

2013 to 2014

The past year has been a blur of tasting new spirits, playing with them and designing new drinks with them. There are few things that are as engaging to me as tasting something new & exciting. My brain starts whirling with ideas of flavor combinations. Something that I've been thinking about lately is underused or poorly used spirits such as sherry & "moonshine" or rather un-aged whiskey. Recently I was hired to cook & plan a paella dinner for a group of friends that were all celebrating their birthdays. Instead of just serving wines I thought it would be really unique & special to do a cocktail using a very Spanish ingredient & a few non-Spanish ingredients. I started with a base of Gonzalez Byass Oloroso Seco made from the Palomino grape. It's nutty, spicy, earthy & very dry. Next I added Prichard's Lincoln County Lightning which is an un-aged whiskey & in my opinion one of the best on the market. It's sweet & savory all at once. It needed some rounding out with a little herbaceousness & bitterness so I chose Imbue Petal & Thorn. Imbue is the best domestic vermouth producer in my opinion. They start with a base of Oregon white wine, blend that with barrel aged Oregon pinot gris brandy & then infuse that with botanicals. The Petal & Thorn is tinted a beautiful bronze/rust/blush color with the addition of fresh beets. I love that. Next I added in a little Luxardo Limoncello & a few drops of my very own Big River Bitters. It had everything I wanted in a cocktail; savory, hint of sweet, acid, bitterness & a unique hint of that warm haunting note that sherry gives. I've named it "A Night In Jerez".

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Cocktail List Alert

I've been busy experimenting with spirits, creating bitters, & designing drinks for a friend's restaurant. I love that she is such a avid supporter of local farms & distilleries. Needless to say it's been fun making drinks for her & getting feedback. Why am I being so vague? Well the list isn't finalized yet so I'd hate to let the cat out of the bag. I'll let her do that. I'm a big fan of gin & whiskey so it's always interesting trying to set my own tastes aside so that the list can be what it needs to be. It needs to appeal to drink lovers but also those that maybe don't understand or seek out the most exotic of cocktails or spirits. There is a sweet spot in which the cocktails as a whole need to be in. There should be something for every type of drinker. While I may be a big gin fan perhaps there are others who aren't. However, the drinks could also be a conversation starter about different spirits. It should be fun & interesting. I am lucky that I get to play with spirits.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Iron Shaker at Hog & Hominy

I am not going to apologize for allowing life & profession get in the way of my posting...ok ok I'm sorry. I am sure all 3 of you who read this had better things to do anyway. Yesterday was the Iron Shaker cocktail competition pitting some of the mid south's best professional cocktail enthusiasts against each other in a secret ingredient matchup a la Iron Chef or Chopped. Nick Talarico from Hog & Hominy/AMIK, Jayce McConnell from SnackBar in Oxford, Anna Katherine Metzger from 12Bar & yours truly along with Shawn Mitchell of Sweetgrass threw down in a most spirited way. You can view some great pictures here.
Our Welcome cocktail was our spin on a Blood & Sand
Bearded Bittermen's Blood & Sand
Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey
Rothman & Winter Cherry Liqueur
Byrrh QuinQuina
Fresh squeezed Blood orange juice
Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
Fee Brother's Orange bitters
garnished with Triple Smoke laced candied blood orange peel & a Luxardo cherry
Nick's welcome cocktail definitely had Apple Cider vinegar in it & it was delicious. I can't recall what else was in it. I wish I would have had a chance to taste the other competitors drinks but I did not.
Our secret ingredients were fresh duck eggs, meyer lemons, rosewater, Blis Bourbon barrel aged fish sauce, Pig Sweat (sherry vinegar, salt & sugar) & Corsair Quinoa whiskey. Wow. That was some crazy stuff! Between Shawn & I we both were thinking that we needed to use as much of the secret ingredients as possible. After a quick brain storm & even quicker drink creation we had it nailed.
War Pig
Corsair Quinoa Whiskey
Meyer lemon juice
St Elizabeth's Allspice Dram
Blis Bourbon Barrel aged fish sauce
Homemade Benton Bacon Bitters
Fee Brother's Aztec Chocolate Bitters
Duck egg white
Meyer lemon zest
Segura Viudas Cava
As you can see it is a play off a traditional fizz. We garnished the drink with meyer lemon zest & a few drops of rosewater. It had umami, it was savory, sweet, earthy, tart & just so cool! I was super proud of the drinks we put out. Congrats to all the competitors especially Hog & Hominy who took home top honors & SnackBar for coming up from Oxford to participate.
On to the next Iron Shaker!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Smoke & Mirrors

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen is one of my favorite restaurants in Memphis or any other city for that matter. The chefs are uber-talented, the staff is top notch & everyone is so incredibly nice! Nick Talarico, the manager, has been bitten by the cocktail bug. I love going in there & discussing drinks with him because we are both on the same page. He's making tinctures, experimenting with bitters, has a japanese ice mold & god knows what else up his sleeve. While dining at AMIK last Saturday he brought us out his latest cocktail creation. A gin martini made with lemonade & bitters. Sounds pretty simple right? Not at all in fact. He smoked the lemons low & slow which imparted this foxy smokiness that contrasted against the botanics in the gin & the sweetness in the lemonade. It was lovely & very unique. Next time you are at AMIK don't worry about making decisions on drinks. Just give Nick or one of the bartenders free reign & I assure you they will concoct something delicious.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I know I have been adamant about taking that extra step when crafting a cocktail. One important component is garnish. I've already discussed how to create good cocktail cherries here.
I gave some to my very good friend Justin who promptly ate some & used them for whiskey drinks. Anyone who knows Justin understands his obsession with all things whisky. Justin is one of the most amazing people & I love the guy dearly. He's an incredibly talented artist as witness to the beautiful photo below that he sent me.
What he has here is a play off a manhattan with Rye whiskey, a bit of the elixir from my cherries & garnished with the cherries themselves.
Delicious no?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fee Brothers Bitters Arrives

Yes I am obsessed. But that isn't the point of this post. I'm here to tell you that one of the best bitters producers in the world (Fee Brothers) is now available in Memphis! From what I know they will begin stocking the Orange Bitters at Lit Restaurant Supply as of this Wednesday. While they may only have the Orange bitters stocked they might be open to stocking more different Fee Brothers bitters if they see demand. So go down there, call, write, whatever, & tell them you want the full lineup! Buy up the Orange bitters & ask for more such as the Rhubarb, Celery, etc.