If you have ever joined me for a drink, then you already know. But if in the future if there is ever a reservation for us, there is something I should let you know. I have a genuine love for George Dickel. When I walk into a bar, before my bum even hits the bar stool, I try to make eye contact with him. George Dickel is my absolute favorite whisky. He toasted me last Saturday on my birthday. And on Sunday I toasted him right back to celebrate his birthday. George Dickel’s Master Distiller John Lunn made a simply irresistible rye. It’s maple charcoal filtered whisky spicy, caramel then oak, with cherry fruit notes that have a very dry finish. In this cocktail the Dickel Rye is amplified with a Five Spiced Pear Syrup made from fall spices paired with intense mexican chocolate, and the subtle smoke of black cardamom. The combination is intensely invigorating. It’s then backed up by just a touch of chamomile, bitter orange and exotic herbs found in Fernet Branca. All I can say is George Dickel Rye in this cocktail is simply one hell of a ‘Good Time Tease’.
- 1.5 oz George Dickel Rye
- 1/2 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth
- 1/2 oz Five Spiced Pear Syrup
- 1/4 oz Fernet Branca
- 1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice
Add all ingredients into a beaker with ice. Stir well. Fine strain over ice into a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Five Spice Pear Syrup
Peel pears and cut into one half-inch cubes. Add them plus half a cup of water and all other ingredients into a small saucepan. Turn onto low heat and let simmer for half an hour. Fine strain into an airtight container.
On a recent trip to Manhattan I had dinner reservations at one of my favorite restaurants, Balthazar. I often use recipes from the Balthazar cookbook at home. I take every chance I can get to have dinner at Balthazar so that I can compare my presentation with the actual dish. This may sound funny but I have a before Balthazar ritual. I get off the subway on Prince Street and make an a-line to Prada. The Prada in Soho is my version of a New York museum. I love to take half an hour to admire the handbags and shoes. I then find my way to Dean and DeLuca where everything always looks absolutely fresh. Each apple seems to have a the most bright shade of green imaginable and each peach has the most perfect, soft fuzz. I could spend an hour in their browsing though the unique jams, teas, and cheese. This particular evening, I came across Plum Smoked Tea Compote. It sounded so interesting that I had to purchase a jar. After I strolled though Dean and DeLuca, I realised that all of my senses were open and I was hungry. I walked like a proper New Yorker; on a mission, head down, brisk, not letting anything or anyone get in the way of me and my lovely date with Balthazar.
‘Luxedo’ takes your taste buds on a velvety voyage with Black Bush’s racy notes of dark caramel, toffee and bitter-sweet chocolate. The journey continues with subtle nuttiness in Amaro Nonino, Firelit’s rich coffee bean, followed by juicy plum with a lingering hint of smoke.
- 1.5 oz Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey
- .5 oz Amaro Nonino
- .5 oz Firelit Coffee Liqueur
- 1 barspoon Plum Smoked Tea Compote
- 2 dashes Regans orange bitters
- brandied cherries
Add all ingredients to a beaker with ice. Stir well. Fine strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with brandied cherries. Cheers.
Plum Smoked Tea Compote can be found here.
I chose Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin as the base for this cocktail because of its sweet elderflower, cinnamon, and peppery juniper notes. I then infused the gin with bold, bright, tangy hibiscus. Next I added ripe cherry juice and spiced orange liqueur. To finish off the drink I floated a thin layer of light anise, chocolate and coffee found in Amaro Ciociaro which ultimately makes for a delightful treat.
- 1.5 oz Hibiscus infused Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin
- 1/4 oz Amaro Ciociaro
- 1/2 oz Benedictine
- 1/2 oz cherry juice
- 2 dashs Regans orange bitters
- Bar spoon agave syrup
Add everything but the Amaro Ciociaro into a shaker with ice. Shake well. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. Using the back of a bar spoon, carefully float half an ounce of Amaro Ciociaro on top. Garnish with a blood orange peel. Enjoy.
Hibiscus infused Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin
Put a handful of hibiscus leaves into a bottle of Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin. Put the top back on and shake. Wait three hours if using fresh hibiscus or five hours if using dried hibiscus. Fine strain hibiscus leaves out. Put a cinnamon stick in, shake and leave for 24 hours.
I recently went on a snowmobiling trip. It was an incredible adventure filled with breath-taking views. After a full day in the snow we made our way back to our little cabin, started a roaring fire, enjoyed rum punch with fried apples while playing an exhilarating game of poker.
- 5 teaspoons whole cloves
- 1 orange thinly sliced
- 6 quarts unfiltered apple juice
- 1/2 cup brown cane sugar
- 3 teaspoons allspice
- a pinch of freshly graded nutmeg
- 3 cups Zacapa Centenario 23
- 1 cup Lairds Apple Brandy
- Cinnamon sticks
Stud the apples with the cloves. Place all ingredients into a sauce pan except for the Zacapa. Slowly bring to a simmer. Let simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat. Add Zacapa and Lairds Apple brandy. Ladel into mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
- 3 tbs. unsalted butter
- 6 Fuji Smith Apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/8 rounds
- 1/4 cup brown cane sugar
- pinch cinnamon
- 1/4 cup Zacapa Centenario 23
- Whipped Cream
Heat Butter in a skilled until melted and frothy. Add apples and cook until soft about 2 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup water. Let simmer for five minutes or until a syrup is formed and the pan is almost dry. Turn off heat and add Zacapa to the pan. Place apples on a small plate and top off with a dollop of whipped cream.
I recently discovered Black-Sesame Orange gelato and fell in love. I can’t think of the right words to describe it, it’s the Empire State Building, the Frank Sinatra, the Tiffany’s of desserts. There was a taste that I have never experienced before, black sesame. I needed to re-create the taste so I made a Black-Sesame Orange syrup. I can’t express how well it pairs with Encanto Pisco, it might just be the Carnegie Hall of cocktails. ‘Empire State’ is a perfectly paired harmony with Encanto Pisco’s rich, velvety mouthfeel of jasmine, chocolate, and pepper. Hints of Cocchi Americano wine flavors the pisco with cinchona bark, spices and exotic botanicals, layered with black-sesame orange syrup that is nutty, vanilla-like with suggestions of candied orange. With this ‘Empire State’ my heart melts the same way Carrie Bradshaw’s did in a pair of Manolo Blahnik stilettos.
- 2 oz Encanto Pisco
- .5 oz Cocchi Americano
- .5 oz Orange Black-Sesame syrup
- .5 oz white grapefruit juice
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake well. Fine strain into a chilled glass and garnish with an orange peel.
Black-Sesame Orange Syrup
- 1/4 cup Agave
- 1/4 cup spoons brown organic cane sugar
- one table-spoon black sesame seeds
- one table-spoon fresh squeezed orange juice
- one cup of water
Place one heaping tablespoon black sesame seeds in the bottom of a small saucepan. Turn on heat to low and let seeds brown until black and shiny. Add all other ingredients. Let simmer for ten minutes. Let cool. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. Fine strain into an airtight container.
|Le Prince Noir begins bold on the nose, sweet plums drizzled with clover honey warm your palate followed by malt and oranges. A hint of vanilla subsides to spicy ginger, peppery peat, and smoke lingers on your tongue for a long-lasting finish.
- 2 oz Johnnie Walker Black
- .5 oz Navip Slivovitz Barrel Aged Plum Brandy
- .5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
- .5 oz clover honey syrup
- 1 piece of turmeric
- 1/4 oz Caol ila 12 year
Muddle turmeric on the bottom of a shaker. Add all ingredients except Caol ila 12 year into a shaker with ice. Shake well. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Using the back of a barspoon carefully float Caol ila over the top.
Combine one half cup clover honey with one half cup water. Place in a saucepan and let simmer for ten minutes. Let cool. Pour into an airtight container.
I am don’t have much of a sweet tooth. In fact I have decided when I get married I don’t want a big, fancy cake filled with over the top sugary frosting. I just want an incredible selection of wine, scotch and tequila for people to choose from. I don’t dance unless I have had at least one drink, and I am sure I am not the only one, with any luck everyone will be dancing.
I feel the same about my cocktails. Making a base cocktail, with the option of a garnish to make the cocktail sweeter, guarantees everyone is always happy. I placed two of the Strawberry-Black Pepper garnishes in each drink but left extras on the bar in a glass so people had the option of making their Corazonsito a little sweeter.
- 2 oz Don Julio Reposado
- 1 oz Aperol
- 3/4 fresh squeezed red grapefruit juice
- Strawberry-Black Pepper garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish into a shaker with ice. Shake well. Fine strain into a chilled Riedel Ouverture glass. Place two Strawberry-Black Pepper garnish’s inside of the glass with a grapefruit twist. Enjoy.
Strawberry-Black Pepper Garnish
- one pound fresh strawberries
- half a pound fresh raspberries
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
Pre-heat convection over to 225 degrees. Blend strawberries and raspberries until very smooth. Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper. Pour puree onto cookie sheets and spread evenly with a spatula. Grind pepper and cardamom evenly over the puree. Place the trays in the oven and let cook for an hour. Remove baking sheets. Using scissors cut one-fourth inch by five-inch strips. Roll strips over a chopstick and put them back into the oven for twenty more minutes. Remove the trays from the oven. Let cool completely.
I recently served Corazonsito’s at a cocktail party. I needed something a little more bold, for the men in my life so I embellished a classic Tanqueray and Tonic. Try the same garnish recipe but leave out the spices then replace the berries with kiwi’s and lime. Cut the garnish into a rounds that will fit into the bottom of a rocks glass. Place the round in the bottom of the glass. Then make a classic Tanqueray and Tonic. Kiwi T & T’s? Absolute bliss.
My close friend Hilary and I both have ties to the wine world. Her family makes Johansing wine and one of my best friends, Joe Kidd is the GM for Treasury Estates. Between the two of us we are well-connected and have a blast wine tasting every time we are in Paso Robles. Her family also happens to have a beautiful ranch where she has planted lavender fields. You can check them out at Johansing Vinyards.
Last time we were in Paso, after a wonderful day of wine tasting and a delightful dinner we started a bonfire. Then broke out the Tanquerey and sipped on this cocktail. It just so happens Tim McGraw sings about Tanqueray in a song called “Hey Now”. As it was playing in the background we were singing along, “ready to dance, sing, and do just about anything”.
- 1.5 oz Tanqueray
- .5 oz Dimmi
- .5 oz lavender vermouth
- Laetitia Brut Cuvée
- lemon squeeze
- two dashes grapefruit bitters
Pour lavender vermouth into a champagne flute and swirl it around so it coats most of the glass. Add Dimmi, Tanqueray, lemon, bitters and stir. Top with Laetitia Brut Cuvée.
Put one half cup dried organic lavender buds into a 750 ml bottle of Dolin De Chambery Dry vermouth. Shake well. Let sit for an hour. Fine strain lavender out and vermouth into another airtight container.
* To Get the full Tim McGraw experience click here.
** To make a very refreshing glass of lemonade, add one or two ounces of lavender vermouth.
Bulleit 10 year is full of vanilla, oak and rye grain notes that rise to the occasion when paired with maple, cinnamon and a surprise of latin spice. Starting off like a ‘lamb’ and leaving your palate like a ‘lion’ smoked apple cider tames each flavor adding a bit of subtle smoky, sweetness to balance off each flavor.
- 2 oz Bulleit 10 year
- .5 oz Maple-Habanero Syrup
- 3 oz Tilted Shed Smoked Apple Cider
- two dashes orange bitters
Put all ingredients in a beaker with ice. Stir well. Fine stain into a mason jar. Garnish with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick.
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- one cinnamon stick
- half a habanero pepper cut lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon macadamia nut honey
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Add 1/2 cup of water. Bring liquid up to a boil for a minute. Reduce heat to a simmer. After five minutes remove habanero peppers with a spoon. Let simmer for five more minutes. Remove cinnamon stick, let cool and strain syrup into an airtight container.
My good friends started “The Tilted Shed Ciderworks” distillery. The amount of TLC they put into their cider is unbelievable and it absolutely shows in the cider. Please take a moment to check them out – The Tilted Shed Ciderworks