Showing posts with label amer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label amer. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Buvare: Cure

One week before my trip to New Orleans, I sat at the counter of Barkeeper in Silver Lake -as so many weekend mornings I do- daintily sampling spicy gingerbread bitters.
"Isn't that insane?!" Joe Keeper's eyes bugged waiting for my reaction. I smiled, spices tickling my throat.
"It's delicious..." And before I could protest, another bottle was produced and a small plastic cup of baked apple bitters was pushed toward me. His eyes widened again, daring me to give THIS one a whirl.
Keeper had just returned from Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans' annual cocktail geek-out fest, with a bag full of exciting new products he was so enthusiastically sharing. I mentioned my trip planned for the coming week and he said one word, a word I anticipated and said along with a nod: Cure.

Following our absolutely indulgent dinner at Restaurant August, Michael, Larry and I hailed a cab to the Garden District and sailed into the dark night. The cab driver circled the streets several times, unsure of exactly where Cure was - something I had been warned about. The bar is unmarked and often unnoticed from the street - but then I caught a glimpse of an illuminated wall of bottles through an arched window and the car screeched to a halt.
Opening the bar door, pulsing dubstep beats shook the glass walls on either side of the entryway. A tungsten streetlight outside lent a little help to the architectural chandeliers, Edison bulbs and the neon-backed bar to shed some light on the dim and modern interior of the 105 year old firehouse. Here ancient, decrepit New Orleans had been left behind.
Even in this hidden dark corner of the Garden District, the residue of White Linen Night filled the stools and booths of the bar with sharp tailored whites and airy summer cocktail dresses, though much more fashionably than the older set in the Arts District downtown. The room breathed Neo-New Orleans tradition, and we absorbed it (along with some bass) and sat at a table hear the window to look over the menu.
I'd been looking forward to enjoying a drink at Cure since I read their #1 Best NOLA Bar ranking for 2010 in the Gambit, proclaiming "There are bartenders, and there are chemists — Cure supplies both."
Owner Neal Bodenheimer is a NOLA native but sharpened his teeth in New York bars (including those of the BR Guest restaurant group) before bringing his brand of contemporary mixologist back to "the cocktail's birthplace," opening Cure in February of 2009. I knew he was serious, but back to the point - what would I get??
I chose the Celery Stalker first, created by Cure's Danny Valdez. An herbal marriage of Miller's Westbourne Strength Gin, Lime, House-Made Celery Bitters, Prosecco, and Cucumber it was a perfect quencher for the steamy conditions. Simple enough to concoct at home, the housemade bitters set this flavor profile apart. Luckily I came across the secret to this cocktail in Edible New Orleans.

Celery Bitters
By Kirk Estopinal, Cure
In 750 mL of high-proof vodka (100 proof +), add:
2 tbsp cinchona
2 tbsp dandelion
2 tbsp calamus
2 tbsp gentian

Let flavors infuse for 11-14 days.
Add 1 cup of celery seeds, toasted, into the blend and let rest 4 days.
Strain everything through a cheese cloth and, if necessary, a coffee filter.
Larry sipped a Single Malt Scotch, but Michael joined me for a cocktail, selecting the Cease & Desist by Maksym Pazuniak, a classic and brute blend of Carpano Punt e Mes, Rittenhouse Bonded Rye, Fernet Branca and Orange Peel. Had I been deviating from gin, I would have been tempted by the Start and Finish, recipe below (via

Start and Finish
By Rhiannon Enlil, Cure
1 1/2 ounces Averna Amaro
1 1/2 ounces Lillet Blanc
1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth
1/2 ounce absinthe
1 dash orange bitters

Mix all ingredients over ice, chill, strain and garnish with a lemon twist.
While Cure does not carry many bar staples, it is not pretentious about helping you select a tasteful replacement. This is THE bar to create a relationship with your bartender and tell them what you like. You will end up with a specialized cocktail far surpassing your "usual." Also because all of the bartenders at Cure are total rock stars, each with their own impressive lineage. Kirk Estopinal came to Cure from the Violet Hour in Chicago, bringing with him the popular Juliet & Romeo which he made for me requesting something along the lines of a gin gimlet and the Celery Stalker. With the essence of dusk in a lush summer garden, I'd do a disservice by not sharing this recipe laced with mint, cucumber, and rose water.

Juliet & Romeo
From the Violet Hour (source)
2 oz Beefeater or Henderick's
.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
3 drops Rose Water
3 drops Angostura Bitters
3 slices Cucumber, peeled
6 sprigs Mint

Muddle cucumber and pinch of salt. Slap the mint. Add rest of ingredients. Let sit for 30 seconds (time allowing). Shake. Strain. Garnish with 1 floating mint leaf and 1 drop rose water on top of leaf, and 3-5 more drops of angostura on the surface of the drink.

4905 Freret St. New Orleans, LA; 504.302.2357
Cure on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 25, 2010

Buvare: Il Gentiluomo

On the eve of a friend's classic cocktail party, I thought I'd post this little concoction inspired by some recent visits to cocktail hot spots The Tarpit and District. So far my predictions about Amari haven't been far off, herbal liqueurs such as Averna, Torani Amer, and Cynar have been steadily rising to the top of the cocktails lists at many of my favorite joints. A pleasant night at home led to this Hoskins Cocktail kith bitter-orange-driven Italian Gentleman...

Il Gentiluomo

2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce Torani Amer
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce Tuaca
1 dash orange bitters

Fill a mixing glass with ice and add ingredients.
Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Cin cin!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Buvare: Amer Picon

Cocktail trends can circulate quicker than a swizzle stick, but my bet for this summer's boom is on Amari. Once relegated to a full bar's highest hard-to-reach shelf, those dusty bottles (with the most beautiful labels) held the secret to modern mixology - one of the key elements to a perfect cocktail - the bitter.
Nowadays these Italian herbal digestifs are within the barman's reach, and prominently featured in many neoclassic cocktails. One I had never heard of that the good Chuck Taggart at Gumbo Pages got me in a tizzy to try is Amer Picon. Originally a French apertif based on bitter oranges, gentian and cinchona, it has over the years evolved through the hands of the Italians and also the Euskadi, who revere it.
Of course actually finding a bottle of Amer Picon is now near impossible in the States, but interestingly enough the Torani brand (yes, of the syrups) has taken up producing a rather faithful similar tasting, same proof, and more common knockoff. And Silverlake Wine sells it now - for 12 bucks a bottle!

Here's the traditional Amer Picon cocktail preparation via The Gumbo Pages (which essentially is an easy recipe to find, it's right on the bottle's front label!)

"The National Drink of the Basques"

2 ounces Amer Picon (substitute Amer Boudreau or Torani Amer)
2 barspoons (1 teaspoon) of grenadine
Soda water
Lemon peel
1/2 to 1 ounce brandy (optional)

To do it Italian-style, coat the inside of a tumbler with grenadine. Add the Amer and ice, top with about 4 ounces soda and stir. Twist the lemon peel over the drink and garnish. If you feel the cockles of your heart need further warming, float a tablespoon or two of brandy on top.

Also, thanks to Tasting Table LA for bringing my attention to the Roger Room's Pecan Millionaire cocktail--a classy update combining Torani Amer with pomegranate syrup, vodka and Punt e Mes vermouth (get the recipe here).