Showing posts with label bourbon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bourbon. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2012

Buvare: Dark and Stormy Night


Halloween! Not only my favorite holiday, but increasingly my favorite time of year to concoct potent potables, with a decidedly sinister edge. Last year's Witching Hour cocktail was brainy and elegant, but this year for our annual Table Set Halloween podcast I decided to brew something more approachable and thirst-quenching.

The Dark and Stormy is one of the simplest and most delightful cocktails, period. For my adaptation I introduced The Kraken, a black spiced rum of epic proportions, a spicy Jamaican ginger brew and several additional autumnal highlights. Leaving out the eye of newt, this time...


Listen to The Table Set: Dark and Stormy Night

Last year with the glut of pumpkin bourbon I infused for the Witching Hour, I made this impromptu punch for my friends. It was consumed within minutes. Highly recommended for your own gathering of ghouls, named for the Halloween party held in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow before Ichabod Crane's infamous ride home. Beware!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gala Parfait: Tiki Party


Tiki has become something special to me over the years.
It is not just a kitschy party theme, type of cloyingly sweet drank, or dive bar category. Bizarrely enough it's filed alongside heavyweights like Christmas and New Year's as an important family tradition. Yes, my parents, sister and I do Tiki. And if I do say so myself, we do it damn well.


Initially, the end of summer Tiki Party at my parents' home in Tucson was a heavily-anticipated annual celebration. A break from large family gatherings brimming with kids ("we love your keikis, but this one is for adults"), and the rare party to really have a focus on drinking. Since I was college-aged when the Tiki Party debuted, I was not only surprised by this, but fully on board! Each year seemed to one-up the prior, adding a pit-roasted whole pig, ukelele orchestra, and even tradition hula dancers in full garb. It was a fantastic tradition.


Then one year the invite never went out. Then another year. The masses were restless, when would there be another Tiki Party? I tried to sate myself in California with regular visits to Tiki Ti, Tonga Room, Trader Sam's and with a big fat Tiki episode on my podcast The Table Set, but it wasn't enough. Once I found out my sister Megan missed it as much as me we conspired to convince my parents by any means necessary to bring it back.


Then this year... we finally succeeded.


It's always a whirlwind driving home to Arizona and jumping in to the preparations. It's also always startling opening the fridge in the garage to see Laura Palmer as a pig, awaiting the sacrificial pyre.


Day of, first thing's first - Get that pig going. It takes all afternoon to get a proper tender slow-cooked Kalua-style pig.


The photo opp murals Megan painted are always a hit.


And while the tables are set, I have my hands full with another task.


Shocking, I know - I manage the bar. With the addition of the bamboo tiki hut-style bar this year, things got serious.


Selecting a menu is hardly an easy task. Each year we debate, recounting drink popularity from the previous parties. The true Mai Tai is our collective favorite, but seems to be too boozy for our guests, as we always have the most leftover of it. The Blue Hawaiian is garish, but always a winner. We pre-mix everything in large batches as well, so the recipe has to work in that format - and some ingredients, such as bitters, intensify over time. This year I decided to select all new drinks; Classics that cover very different flavor profiles as well as liquor variety. No need to be rum snobs - It's just not for everybody.


In lieu of the signature Mai Tai I went out on a limb with South Pacific Punch, a potent blend of dark and light rums, fresh orange and lime juices, Falernum and passion fruit syrup. Not for the faint of heart, I think the profile of the spicy Falernum is what set this drink apart.


To satisfy the sweet drink lovers, instead of a neon blue concoction (I just can't get down with Blue Curaçao) I opted for the popular Chi Chi, a vodka-based riff on the Piña Colada with coconut cream, pineapple juice and a dust of nutmeg. Sometimes simplicity is best.


For the first time we introduced a bourbon-based tiki drink, which turned out to be the crowd favorite, the ominous-sounding Polynesian Paralysis. Akin to a Hawaiian-style Mai Tai, this one blends pineapple and citrus juices with orgeat, which marry nicely with the bourbon for a dangerously smooth sipper.


We always try to think of creative ways to keep designated drivers and non-drinkers in on the fun, and this year hibiscus lemonade and tropical iced tea just wasn't going to cut it, so I whipped up a non-alcoholic tiki classic Rainbow Punch. Here pineapple, orange, and lime juices are blended with grenadine, soda, and bitters for a well-disguised virgin.


It was an exhausting night of shaking drinks, so I was happy to have some relief long enough to get in on the Kalua pig and Polynesian potluck before it was all gone.


Perlana, one of the "best dressed" winners enjoys a Chi Chi.


Yes, no matter how much math and careful planning goes into our batch drink making, we always over-do it and have SO much leftover. Not a huge complaint, but it suffices to say that Tiki Party turns into Tucson Tiki WEEK. Aw well, maybe we'll get it right next year... Oh yes, there will be a next year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Buvare: Mixing it Up at Seven Grand


Downtown LA's Seven Grand is your go-to for every whiskey, rye, bourbon, and whisky under the sun. But with a newly revamped menu chockfull of boiler makers, flights, old-fashioneds, sours and original cocktails (even a tiki drink, pictured), lead barsmith Dustin Newsome and company are out to prove the extent of their dexterous talents.

Read my rundown of Seven Grand's newest original cocktails on the 213 Nightlife blog by clicking below:


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Buvare: Witching Hour Cocktail


Halloween is easily my favorite time of year. Crisp autumn air, harvest flavors, and a palpable childlike excitement. On the Table Set this week we're discussing our favorite Halloween parties past, spooky new ideas, and of course what kind of booze is the scariest to serve your house ghouls. While overall we decided moonshine was a pretty badass spirit for All Hallows Eve cocktails and punches, we also pondered making a pumpkin-infused bourbon for the purpose of a layered "candy corn" shot (lowbrow/highbrow! Classic ChocoMeat). The layering didn't quite pan out... but I took the ingredients I was working with and instead made a refined cocktail for more sophisticated costume parties to toast the night with. I had to include Strega (which means 'witch' in Italian), a bright yellow Italian herbal liqueur possessing a complex structure with fennel, mint and coniferous notes. I rounded the cocktail out with Royal Combier, a blend of Combier’s original triple sec, cognac and Elixir de Combier (a 19th century French hygienic liqueur which includes aloe, nutmeg, myrrh, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron).


Witching Hour

2 oz Pumpkin Bourbon*
1/4 oz Strega
1/2 oz Royal Combier
dash Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a stirring glass over ice. Stir until chilled and [double] strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a flamed orange peel.

*Pumpkin Bourbon

1 bottle of decent Bourbon, such as Bulleit
1 sugar pumpkin, hollowed, peeled, and sliced
1 vanilla bean
1/2 of a whole nutmeg

Cut 1 vanilla bean in half lengthwise. In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart jar, combine vanilla, pumpkin slices, and nutmeg. Cover with Bourbon (saving empty Bourbon bottle). Seal jar and rest at least 4 days or up to 3 months in a cool, dark place. Once desired flavor intensity is achieved, strain liquid through cheesecloth and funnel back into Bourbon bottle.


Happy Haunting!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gala Parfait: Octo-Q

One byproduct of co-hosting The Table Set that I'm really enjoying is that - as it is a podcast about entertaining - I am hosting gatherings more than ever! I recently co-hosted one of my favorite bashes to date, and forged a new friendship with an old familiar face.

Some things are just fated. Natalie and I went to art school together in Eugene, Oregon, but didn't really know each other. When I waited tables at Portland's uppity Pearl District hot spot Bluehour I recognized Natalie dining with the PICA and Wieden+Kennedy power lunchers. (I later found out Natalie too had worked at the restaurant before me). Five years later, I discover that we are both working on flip sides making a DEVO record in Los Angeles. We couldn't ignore this any longer. We joined forces. A barbecue on Natalie's Hollywood Hills deck was decided upon almost immediately. A blending of our friends; food lovers, art lovers, and music lovers... But what would we serve?

Ever since Natalie's recent trip to Chile she told me she's been obsessed with finding out how to make octopus tender and flavorful like she had tasted there. What she knew was that barbecuing is part of the secret. The proposal: An octopus BBQ?! Obviously I was down for the challenge, so we started to brainstorm the plan. Octopod culinary research went underway. A smoker was purchased and assembled. In the meantime I whipped up an invite to encapsulate the vibe. Natalie only has a turntable, so we would ask guests to bring a record. Other secret surprises were concocted.

Like any proper party, we needed to conceptualize a cocktail that would stand up to the smokey char of a crispy tentacle. Natalie brilliantly suggested the inclusion of smoked ice(!) Several tests on her part found that smoking water over cherry/mesquite wood and then freezing it produced subtly satisfactory results. In the spirit of the wood we ran with cherries and I made a brandied batch to muddle with orange in a Smokey Cherry Old Fashioned.

Macerating the cherries before tossing with hot water and submerging in Brandy.

The afternoon of the party, I was led up the steps to Natalie's deck by the scent of tantalizing smoke. Crows were eying the smoker, cawing at me as I approached the house. Inside I could hear a commotion. "Hello?..." I called stepping gently toward her open door, like a marked slasher victim. The grisly scene I walked into was not what I expected.
Whack. Whack. Whack. It takes 99 from a hammer to properly tenderize an octopus, they say. Natalie was just finishing up, and wiped her brow following the workout. The beast beneath her was HUGE, and the gravity of our endeavor finally sank in. "WOW," was all I could say.
The marinated creature went in a boiling pot next, where it began to reanimate and coil about in the simmering liquid. Then Natalie took a blade to it and carved it up for the grill.
Out back she gave me a peek of the little guys she had jerkifying in the smoker, spicy marinated buggers peppered with crackling chilies. While she breaked for costume change, I set up the bar.
Sure, our guest list had grown (and still was unbeknownst to us), but Natalie insisted on china and silver (bless her!) We set the table for... 15 or so, with a back-up stack of plates on the sideboard.
Our first guest arrived, which meant records, and cocktails! To have enough glasses for all, I picked up a couple crates of Kerr half pint wide-mouth mason jars, which make a pretty swell old fashioned tumbler. (Naturally I failed to photograph a finished cocktail, I was too busy cranking them out!)
The Smokey Cherry Old Fashioneds and a lovely contribution of cheese and salumi from one guest busied our happy hour revelers while we continued to ready for the main event.
We plucked the jerked octis from the smoker and joined the table with the tasty dishes our guests provided.
Michael's spicy shrimp were a hit. Luckily some cucumbers were handy to quell the heat.
The spread of vegetables was staggering... From kale salad to watermelon n' feta to spiced potatoes to fiery Sriracha slaw. I made two salads - One of chickpeas, chorizo, and arugula, and another of radicchio, Italian parsley, apricots and shaved fennel with a minty olive vinaigrette.
Natalie stood watch at the grill, turning the big boy's legs.
The flavor was robust and delicious. "Next time more char," Natalie said, tugging at the outer skin. Regardless, everyone waited with patient curiosity while I sawed the leggies into medallions.
What to drink with grilled octopi? Well I leave that to the experts. Luckily Whitney of Brunellos Have More Fun and DomaineLA was present with a few fitting bottles. My favorite was La Dilettante, Domaine Breton‘s 2009 Vouvray moustillant. A delicious crisp chenin blanc with light, moussey bubbles.
"Hey, that's from the store!" Whitney called at another guest's contribution of Causse Marines Marcillac, a... funky, earthy, inky red. Joy the Baker's fabulous peach & blackberry cobbler dessert (gobbled up before it was photographed) was geniously paired by Whitney with a Frantz Saumon Gamay Moelleux, a sexy, lingering yet tangy pomegrante, strawberry and pine masterpiece. (Read Whitney's account of the BBQ here).
But the cherry on top was our secret surprise guest, Luz Elena Mendoza, singer of Portland's beloved Y La Bamba. She graced the hushed patio with a short set of passionate arias ripe with duende.

Come dusk, we walked up the hill to a nearby viewing point and sat with circling ravens, watching as the sun sunk into the ocean. The way every perfect summer dinner party really should come to a close.

For those hoping for some more in depth octopus cooking tips, here are Natalie's four simple steps to making killer tentacles at home!

Just do it.