With the release last week on Amazon of my third book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, I must pause for a moment to reflect upon the past few years… Ok, now that I’ve finished reflection- it’s time to get back to work.
One of the things that I don’t often do is “blog”… Years ago, I took a course in food blogging at the former French Culinary Institute and it didn’t go well- primarily because I don’t consider myself a blogger! I think columnist fits the bill better- yet I digress, blogging is big business for spirits companies!
How do you monetize it though?
Why you should go to the Jockey Hollow Restaurant.
I haven’t been to eat, but I do know that their cocktail program is world-class with Christopher James at the helm. Chris is my mentor and friend- full disclosure, I bar-backed for him at the Ryland Inn (scary) and learned that being a bartender is not always a glamorous job! It’s darned hard work!
Chris is fond of many advanced techniques within the confines of the bar. In many ways, what he has achieved is part of a brilliant career. Hat’s off to him! And the Jockey Hollow Restaurant? As I said, I haven’t dined there yet- maybe someday…
Here is a short list of places that get it with respect to cocktails in Morristown, NJ.
David Todd’s.. from the moment you hear the familiar music and New York Cool- without the NYC attitude- and dig deeply into their Wine Spectator Award of Excellence cellar or what I came for- the well-crafted cocktails- made with the best possible ingredients- well… you know you have arrived. There is no pretension here- even though that gal or guy sitting next to you has their own private jet, fueled and ready at Morristown Airport. So try to dress to impress, because you never know!
The hand-crafted drinks, some deceptively strong will make that first impression correct. This is one of the most beguiling of all the Morristown places that gets it with great drinks. And the food? It plays in conjunction with the cocktails and most certainly the well-chosen wine list.
Just go! Have a Negroni, sit outside and watch the world go by.
The Negroni was invented back in 1919 in Florence, Italy – purposively built to heal what ails you. Orson Wells famously said in 1947 that, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” I don’t know about you, but I think gin is good for you. Perhaps Mr. Wells had it altogether incorrect. The entire drink is good for you. Gin, after all, was used during the Middle Ages as a curative for the Black Plague. And Vermouth has long been held as a curative for many internal battles surrounding the digestive glands.
The history of the Negroni involves a base spirit, like gin, plus bitters and vermouth. I enjoy my Negroni Cocktail with the powerfully intoxicating Caorunn Gin from Scotland. Distilled with a healthy smack of the juniper berry and woven into a backdrop of citrus with a hefty punch of alcohol, the Caorunn Gin just tempts me to have another. Combined with the syrupy and complex Carpano Antica Vermouth and the historically correct Campari Bitters from Italy, the Negroni speaks very clearly of getting buzzed with the minimum of effort. I just sipped my Negroni down and absolutely feel no pain. And why would I, with the application of my finger to stir this magnificent cocktail?
My friend Gary Regan stirs his with his finger so why shouldn’t I?
Well the reasons are numerous why you should not stir your cocktail with your finger. Cleanliness has something to do with this. But I suppose if you dipped your finger in your tri-sink filled with disinfectants and cleansers, you’d really have nothing to worry about as long as you were in your own home. I always use a cocktail spoon when working behind the bar so not to upset my customers! The drink shown was mixed with my own finger… far away from any paying customers!
The best Negroni is also the simplest one to make. I do only a couple of things differently:
1. Wash glass out inside and out with cool water.
2. Dry carefully with a soft towel.
3. Pack with ice and water.
4. Carefully measure out your ingredients, pour out the bar ice and water.
I also use a couple large hand-cut cubes of ice from a silicone tray in the freezer so I can control the quality of my ice.
• 1 oz. Campari
• 1 oz. Carpano Antica
• 1 oz. Caorunn Gin
• 2 dashes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
1. Add Campari.
2. Add Sweet Vermouth –
3. Add your choice of Gin. In this case I used Caorunn Gin from Scotland. Caorunn is liberally flecked with citrus fruit woven around the haunting elegance of the moors at night.
4. Add The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters.
5. Add ice.
6. Stir all ingredients together…
Grand Cafe… transport yourself into this very European restaurant, owned by Desmond and Alice Lloyd. This is a boite of the highest provenance. Don’t come in jeans or shorts, make sure your shirt is pressed and tie your shoes, yes… it matters… Then, please comb your hair and while you’re at it, clean your glasses . This is not a bar, sure they have a small one for a pre-dinner slurp-made very carefully I might add… The Grand Cafe in Morristown serves, quite possibly the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever enjoyed in a bar (or restaurant for that matter…)
(It’s rolled, never shaken) and their brilliant Irish Coffee is every bit Ireland as anything in the world.
The BEST is found here at the Grand Cafe.
Jockey Hollow… again. Chris James at the helm. Need I say more? Just go and pour yourself into a seat at the bar.
SM23… For a slice of NYC with all the thumping but not the bumping, try this very sophisticated boite located within the Headquarters Plaza building. Classic cocktails, made with the best ingredients possible are the framework for SM23. Just go- and bring an appetite for some of the best Indian and Asian food around, save room for dessert!!!
End of Elm… I’ve had good cocktails here. While not a Craft Cocktail lounge, the emphasis is on their food at EOE… They do mix some fine drinks without much fluff. I like it and if you find their prices too rich for your pocket, you can always get a submarine sandwich at Long John’s next door for your lunch with some for the next day!
Dive Bars and just some really lousy bars. Morristown is full of them. They say that Morristown is the Hoboken of the western part of the state. I say the Morristown-Town Fathers got what they deserved with the quality of bars that exist by the historic Green. And don’t even get me started on the interior architecture of these places.. Isn’t Morristown a Colonial town?
With a major focus of my career for drinking fewer drinks and drinking better when you do drink… well, it is an embarrassment, at least for myself as someone who takes great pride in the cocktail movement, to even try to have a conversation about why a margarita should not have both cheap triple sec and bottled sour mix. Morristown dive bars and some of the ones that surround the Green, like many other places around the country serve no better than the worst drink you’ve ever had- made to appear to be the best drink that you’ve ever had- but as I like to say, the ice gives it all away.
Find me a place with good ice and I’ll tell everyone. If you use bar ice? Well for me at least, it’s all bad things. And if you are making your Margarita cocktails with triple sec and bottled sour mix- well, it should be a crime.
These places don’t try to make anything that even closely resembles a craft cocktail- and thus they do not get it. But they do serve the multitudes of people who flood to Morristown to get as smashed as possible. It’s a fact of life- like or not.
awful… beer and shots made with cheap ingredients. Play hopscotch outside at night, or on a weekend with what is sometimes left on the sidewalk by over-indulgence’s.
It’s a very young set here. No soft jazz or Sinatra on the stereo, so don’t ask. A good place to stay well clear of in my opinion.
Last National Rum Day I went into the Grasshopper and I asked them which cocktail they were making to celebrate this National Holiday… They replied Malibu and Coke. That’s just wrong. And it was served with a slice of lime that dated to the Truman Administration. Next…
Even the Guinness is too cold.
Shall I go on?
The Iron Bar… It’s cheap and tawdry. From the low quality, bottled sour mix they use to fill out most every mixed drink, to the base spirits made in chemical factories, if you like your flavored vodka in candy varieties like whipped cream and chocolate pudding, you’ll love it here. And their Bloody Mary is shaken. FAIL….
Definitely a younger crowd.
The Office- located next door tries really hard. I do love their beer list, but their cocktail list needs much refinement and balance to be included on the list of who gets it in Morristown…. the answer is- very few. Urban Table tries hard too… Without much luck.
Roots is not a place for a Craft Cocktail. A Rob Roy might work in a pinch or a decent Manhattan, but these prices?
This is not New York, so please, use better Vermouth in that well north of fifteen dollar drink. Again.. Just my opinion.
One of the great liquor and wine stores in Morristown is Cambridge Wines on Morris Street. They have one of the best selections of whiskey around. AND they have sold copies of my books! A win/win!
The Grapeful Palate, located up on South Street has a very carefully curated selection of wines, beers and spirits. I love their attention to the customer and the calming effects of the Grateful Dead on the stereo system, making this a perfect destination for all your desires in the liquor world.
Book # 1
Book # 3