My First Column on Bar None Drinks

I recently was extended the opportunity to join the team of talented booze-y bloggers and writers at Bar None Drinks and am proud to be included in this wonderful spirits community.

Doctor’s orders from Dr. Bamboo himself kept pressuring me to get out while I had the chance; he’s been locked down by ball and chain over there as the site’s longest serving contributor.

Gotcha! It was actually quite the opposite. He sent me one of the nicest emails ever welcoming me to the “crew of goofballs” as he so aptly put it.

I am thrilled to let you all know that my first column is up online! And you should go read it! Like, right now! This month’s post is a discussion surrounding absinthe and the lesser known Bohemian Style that is making headlines for its mixability in cocktails.

So continue to check back here and at Bar None Drinks for cocktail and spirits news. If there is a particular topic you’d be interested in learning more about, leave me a comment. I’m always eager to dig up the goods on the spirits you are most excited about.



If You Were a Cocktail, Which Would You Be?

And we're considering cocktails anything from beer to wine to whiskey on the rocks or carefully crafted concoction.

This is the question I posed to the office today and I was pleasantly surprised by their answers.

Boss Steve:

Cocktail: Negroni
What's in it:
1 oz Aperol
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz gin
Why: The first time I had this cocktail was overlooking the Pantheon in Italy, reminding him of Italy and good memories. It tastes like Italy.

Financial Finagler Antonio:

Cocktail: Old Cuban
What's in it:
6 mint leaves
1 ounce simple syrup (or less, to taste)
3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 ounces Bacardi 8 (or substitute another medium-bodied gold rum)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 ounces chilled champagne
Why: Because it's Spanish, but not really - just like him. (Anthony's heritage is Puerto Rican, mine is Cuban - I think he's just jealous ;0) )

Intern Kayla

Cocktail: Tequila Sunrise
What's in it:
1 ¾ oz. tequila
5 ½ oz. orange juice
1-2 dashes of grenadine
Why: Because it's pretty, fruity and fun and reminds her of Mexico!

Star Spirits Sipper Stephanie:

Cocktail: Tom Collins
What's in it:
2 oz
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar
3 oz club soda
1 maraschino cherry
1 slice orange
Why: "If I were a cocktail I'd be a Tom Collins, because I'm simple, bubbly, and come with both a sweet and (rarely) sour side. ;) It's a cool, classic drink that is most perfectly suited for the summertime atmosphere, just like me."


: Good ol' glass of Pinot Noir
What's in it: Pinot Noir!
Why: Because it's spicy but mellow - light enough to enjoy casually, but serious enough to stand up for itself. ;)

So there you have it! That's the majority of the BAT team in a shaker!

Which cocktail would YOU be?

Here are some of my favorite answers:

From Dale Cruse of Drinks Are On Me "
I'd be a French 75. Classic but timeless. A little sweet, a little herbal, a lot bubbly. All delicious."

From Kasey Scafariello, a friend, "How about a shot? i would be peanut butter and jelly. (3/4 Frangelico and 1/4 Chambord) the reason? because i'm usually nutty with a splash of sweetness :)."

From Casey O'Brien, a friend, "Hard cider because I'm sweet and I'll warm your heart"

From Mallory Murphy, friend, " I'm not really a put together person.. I'm a little disheveled so I'd have to be something that doesn't necessarily work together but it works -- Jack and ginger and its a little bit sweet but its got a kick."

More to come!



Return Uncorked Wine Bar in West Hartford, CT

A little over a month ago, SJ posted a recap of our trip to Uncorked: A Wine Tasting Bistro in Blue Back Square in West Hartford, CT. I returned to the bar last night after a delightful meal at the new sushi place in town - here are my two cents.

When we went to the bar the first time it was literally the second day they had opened - in that mind set, you take it for what it is and expect it will only get better. More than a month later, it seems to be in the same state.

While the wine list is superb to my standards, the wine bar has still not crafted their cocktail list - OK so I'm resident wine gal, but what is SJ to do when she visits next time?!

Last night I opted to stray from the sip/half glass/glass dispensers and go straight for the bubbles. It must be mentioned that the fact the sparkling wines aren't considered in the sip/half glass/glass alignment is a definite downfall. A flight of a half glass of all three of the sparkling wines on the list (for less than $100) is available for $20...

OK - so when we went last time, we were told nicer counters would soon be in place and that each wine would have a corresponding tasting card available for consumers to take home. Pretty cool, right? But did they have it? Nope, at least not yet.

At the very least the bar's staff seemed to be a bit more knowledgeable this time around - last time we overheard the wine staff telling customers they knew nothing about wine. I don't know about you, but when I go to a WINE BAR, I'd like to have the wait staff know something about what they are serving me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not entirely negative. I'll most likely return to this place at least once before my big more to NYC (more on that later) but I will say that I am disappointed in what I thought was going to be a bar to rival Clo Wine Bar in NYC. Due to CT law, patrons aren't allowed to touch the pouring machines themselves, which also takes away from the experience.

On the plus side, the glass of Gruet Sparkling Pinot Noir I had was delicious as always and nicely garnished with a strawberry I happily ate at the end. The bartender was quite friendly and knowlegable, very attentive. There were not too many people in the bar at 7pm when we went, but a few scattered groups of business men and girls night out could be found by the bar's windows.

In the end, Uncorked is an excellent place to get a great glass of wine - it's just not as "cool" as I thought it would be. Definitely worth a trip if you're in the area!




Bohemian Bay Breeze

My taste buds are looking for something tropical today in the aftermath of National Rum Day (8/16). My Twitter feed was on overload yesterday with the likes of Mai Tais, Daiquiris (of the classic and frozen varieties), and Pina Coladas.

Today I’m shifting gears and playing with a different base spirit, absinthe. Specifically a Bohemian-style absinthe. If you haven’t tried this category of absinthe before, run out to your store and find a bottle of Absinthe Mata Hari. Mata Hari, and Bohemian-style absinthes in general, have a much more muted anise profile than its French and Swiss counterparts, making it more accessible and easy to mix in cocktails.

So here’s that tropical treat I’ve been gearing you up for:

The Bohemian Bay Breeze
1 part Absinthe Mata Hari
1 part Pineapple Juice
1 1/2 parts Cranberry Juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into an Collins glass with fresh ice.



Are you the next MxMo host?

Smoke signals figuratively traveled across my computer screen yesterday when I saw Paul Clarke’s ‘SOS’ on my iGoogle home page --- the search has begun for a Mixology Monday host at the end of August. It seems MxMo has been on a summer vacation of sorts and is picking up steam again as it heads into the fall. Here’s what Paul Clarke has to say on the subject:

Anyway — my apologies for the MxMo interruption, but I’ll interrupt this interruption with the announcement that–

The next Mixology Monday is scheduled for Monday, August 31. The theme and the host for this round are:

And that’s where I’m coming up short. I’ve had inquiries about the future of Mixology Monday, and now I need volunteers.

Would you like to host a MxMo (a few details are here)? In the short term I’m looking for someone who can step in for August 31, which gives you a few weeks to get ready, but it’d be great to line up the next few months so my busy schedule / procrastination won’t keep the event from chugging along.

So do you think you have the next great MxMo theme? Are you the blog host/hostess with the most-ess? Is your schedule open on August 31st? Share you theme ideas in the comments section or contact Paul directly – his email is in the original post available here.


Tales of the Cocktail with Mandarine Napoleón

Hey guys. I’m here with your D4TH riddle of the day: A (super awesome) PR manager comes to New Orleans with 3 full, unopened bottles of Mandarine Napoleón XO Reserve – a product not currently available in the states. She shows off the bottle to industry bloggers and consumers alike. How many bottles does she return with?

Answer: One. But it’s empty. And I have no inkling as to who took the other two hand-etched bottles as keepsakes of this BEYOND limited edition product. Lucky bastards. (Not that I’m bitter I only got one dram of it on the rocks or anything like that...)

In all seriousness, Steve and I had a great time in New Orleans working with our clients Marc de Kuyper and Albert de Heer of the brand Mandarine Napoleón. Within an hour of checking in at the Hotel Monteleone, we were all on our way to the Mixoloseum House to have an informal meet-and-greet with the bloggers behind the Thursday Drink Night chat room. If you haven’t been before, you must check it out on Thursday nights (obvious enough..)! All photos below are courtesy of Carson Grey Photography.

What a full bottle of Mandarine Napoleón XO Reserve looks like before you let it loose with bloggers. 15 minutes later...

...no need to adjust your computer screen. That bottle is now half empty.

On the Thursday afternoon of that 5-day stint at Tales, Mandarine Napoleón was available as a sponsor during the Summer in Paris luncheon held at the legendary Antoine’s, complete with that notorious, but oh-so scrumptious Baked Alaska. Mandarine Napoleón fit beautifully into the French-inspired menu and accompanying spirits, with the product’s deeply-rooted history with Napoleon Bonaparte himself over a century ago.

Arno Van Eijmeren (bartender extraordinaire in Rotterdam) and I (the, uh, non-bartender extraordinaire) crafted up beautiful Mandarine Sour cocktails with the simple recipe below. The traditional Egg Sour recipe from The Savoy Cocktail Book actually calls for a 1 part of brandy; however, since the macerated oranges (or tangerines as they are called in Europe) are distilled with fruit brandy, you get your – albeit much smoother – boost to a 40% abv distillate.

Mandarine Sour
2 oz. Mandarine Napoleón
1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
½ oz. Fresh egg white
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Thoroughly shake all ingredients and pour into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Some other highlights from our time with the Dutchmen:

Me and the boys grabbing a steak dinner at Dick Brennan’s Steakhouse. I looked like such a wimp drinking my Whisky Sour and eating my 8 oz. steak next to their humongo-ginormous-extra-huge 24 oz. slabs of meat.
Grabbing some cocktails at Bar Tonique. We had sort of an unfortunate experience there as the place was super packed (as it should be) with just one lone man behind the bar (bad call during Tales week).
Empathizing with their recent loss in the World Cup finals. Trust me, even a month after it’s all been said and done, they’re still reaming…
Lounging in the Carousel Bar into the wee hours of the morning. Those guys tormented the poor waiter in the lounge on night when he repeatedly came back trying to understand exactly what I wanted in my Blood & Sand and then failed to produce one. Sigh… Until next year, Tales...

As the Dutch always says, Groet!


International Beer Day

Yesterday we were popping corks for National Champagne Day, but today we’re taking a detour down the beer trail. Today’s whimsical, yet why-does-this-have-to-fall-on-a-weeknight holiday is International Beer Day, a tribute to the worldwide celebration of beer. Hooray Beer! (my best Red Stripe impersonation...)

So you can bet we’ll be celebrating this hop-filled holiday tonight with a pint or two. The question I pose to you is: What beer should we pour?


Photo credit courtesy of CraftBeer.com