Showing posts with label rye. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rye. Show all posts

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Buvare: Kask

When you have a hit on your hands, what comes next? For the folks at Grüner, the answer is open a badass, invitingly-pretentious downtown cocktail room around the corner.
Enter Kask. The kids love it. The product is immaculate. The space is... a mining den? Whatever, it's adorable. You'll love it.

Judah is a man about town. He knew the pretty bartender. He ordered off-menu. He asked for a Gunsmoke and she broke out the big matches.

After a few minutes smoking his inverted bucket glass, she filled it with Rittenhouse Rye, Gran Classico, Combier Rouge, bitters and burnt orange. It smelled like heaven. A burned-out, destitute version of heaven, anyway. Deeelicious.

I was wooed by the exotic odd-man-out on the menu, the High Desert Swizzle. This summer slow-burner paired Del Maguey Vida mezcal with strawberry shrub, lime, and demerara sugar. At first smoky with a vinegar punch, it finished fruity-bright and mellowly sweet. Dangerously addictive. And not unlike an agave-spiked Strawberry Kiwi Mister Misty (that's a good thing).

I was impressed with Kask, the sexiest drinking den in downtown Portland yet. Even if the chairs are borrowed from a kindergarten classroom, they bring us all that little bit closer...

1215 SW Alder St. Portland, OR 97205
Kask on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 11, 2010

Buvare: Sun Liquor

The car shifted gears and lurched further up Summit Avenue, a steep and winding Seattle residential street that I had trouble believing was the home of our late afternoon cocktail destination. But sure enough a couple of cozy brick storefronts appeared around the bend, Top Pot Coffee & Doughnuts (whose crullers had been breakfast) and our tiki-tinged haven Sun Liquor.
The comfortably compact and casual interior balances Chinese and tiki decor elements with tasteful restraint. Mismatched vinyl and bamboo chairs and a retro ice case behind the bar cement a decidedly vintage ambiance.
We shared the afternoon twlight with only a few others, I could tell the friendly barkeep was hungry for a challenge. Rather than fuss over the cocktail menu he asked us to pick our poison, with designs to impress us with his moxie, and bevy of top shelf ingredients.
For Jon he whipped up a Boulevardier - And it was so good I got one too. Classic and refined, it's a trifecta of rye, Campari, and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth.
Nicole savored her concoction of grapefruit and Campari, topped with sparkling wine.
For my second round I let the bartender mix me his favorite late summer stand-by, the Greenwich Sour. This time the rye meets lemon and Cointreau, with a float of dry Malbec poured carefully over the back of a bar spoon to create a glowing red halo. A perfect drink for sunset.

The light outside turned dusty purple and we tipped our glasses. Time for dinner, though it pained me to depart. Sun Liquor just gets it. I sighed in admiration leaving the understated yet undeniably stylish drinking hole. Until next time, my friend...

607 Summit Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102; 206.860.1130
Sun Liquor on Urbanspoon

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, July 23, 2010

Buvare: Villains Tavern

In a dark and unsettlingly quiet corner of downtown, a howl could be heard last night down the corridors of solemn warehouses. As I approached the isolated bedlam Villains Tavern, the howl became distinguishable live music, a mob of marauders crowding the apothecary bottle-windowed bar tipping back samples of Villains' potent rye Manhattan. I felt my Mr. Hyde take over as I pushed my way to the bar to pick my poison.
A Seven Grand veteran will be ensuring top-notch refreshments at Villains, with sordid specialties such as Fatal Hour (rye whiskey, chocolate bitters and Amaro Nonino), Poison Apple (vodka, fresh green apple juice, and a dash of bitters), and the Bella Donna (Makers Mark, mint, citrus, and blackberries).
The scene is set for perpetration at Villains, with another winning interior by designer and restaurateur Dana Hollister (Bordello, 4100, Brite Spot, Cliff’s Edge). The buzzword has been "steampunk", but Villains speaks more Jack the Ripper to me, with repurposed gothic church windows, a bar from an 1880s tavern, and apothecary bottles.. just about everywhere. Red paneled walls and silk lampshades add a sultry touch to the lofted lounge behind the bar.
The 1,600-square-foot wrap-around patio is easily the largest downtown outdoor space for high jinks, with a live music stage, plenty of church pew seating, and even shuffleboard. The second bar outside serves 28 draft beers in chilled mason jars, all pairable with one of twenty shots for only $8. Beat that with a stick.
The bar bites menu will feature corrupted classics such as grilled cheese w/ cave-aged cheddar and onion-chili-tamarind sambol and a 1/2 lb Kobe burger w/ balsamic and sour cherry and bacon marmalade. Rumored future plans include a Sunday patio brunch, takeover club nights and plenty of live entertainment.

All in all, Villains promises plenty of mischief in a new pocket of downtown, where it'll always be a full moon.

1356 Palmetto St. (@ Santa Fe Avenue) Downtown LA; 213.613.0766
Villains Tavern on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 3, 2009

Buvare: My 5 Summer Cocktails

Summer weather may have just hit LA, but in the past several weeks I've already begun concocting a handful of cocktails that sure do quench a hot afternoon thirst. Here are my current favorites:

Kumquat Drop (or, Fallen Fruit Cocktail)
1 1/2 ounces Crater Lake Vodka
1 ounce fresh-picked-lemon juice
3/4 ounce Tuaca
1/2 ounce agave nectar
dash blood orange bitters
1 fresh-picked kumquat, halved
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
Shake. Strain into a martini glass.

1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Hendricks Gin
1 ounce Lemon Grove Limoncello
splash of sparkling mineral water
orange slice
Combine all ingredients except mineral water in a mixing glass with ice. Stir. Strain into a double old-fashioned over cracked ice. Top with mineral water. Garnish with orange slice.Coconut Lime Rickey
1 1/2 ounces Mount Gay white rum
1 ounce fresh coconut juice
3/4 ounce Velvet Falernum
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1 lime wedge
Using a large drill bit, twist holes into 2 of the coconut's "eyes." Drain liquid through a fine sieve. In a cocktail shaker, combine coconut juice, lime juice, Velvet Falernum, agave and rum. Shake. Strain into a tumbler over ice. Garnish with lime wedge.

1 ounce rye
1 ounce Laird's Applejack
3/4 ounce fresh meyer lemon juice
1/2 ounce pure maple syrup
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth
dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged bitters
orange peel
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with flamed orange peel (learn how here).

Strega Margarita
1 ounce tequila
1 ounce Strega
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
splash of Tuaca
Combine all ingredients except Tuaca in a cocktail shaker.
Shake, and strain into a high ball over ice. Float with the Tuaca.