PARTY TIME! It’s the theme of our HOT new issue full of FROSTY drinks. How about Warren Bobrow’s SUNSET OVER THE GANGES or one of 200 others from his new book The Craft Cocktail Compendium, featured in our new issue:
When the temperature rises above 90 degrees for what seems like days on end. When the swamp that is slowly running down your back makes a beeline for your brow- burning on the way down… you know that it is time for a refreshing little cocktail. One that smacks of tart and slightly acerbic flavor- a touch of smoke- a hint of sweet- the peel of citrus, the oil of grapefruit. I think I known what I love to drink is none other than the Hemingway Daiquiri. Here are five riffs on the classic Hemingway mind eraser. Two have medical grade Cannabis in the mix- I’ll suggest the strains too.
Decarbing is essential to my method of making cocktails that have the good stuff in them. THC. I don’t work with CBD, so please- don’t ask. I know nothing of it- and quite frankly think most of it is a shameless money grab. Hemp is rope, building materials, cosmetics- not carefully crafted cocktails made with non-commercial spirits. I’ve been pretty clear on this one from day one. I suggest looking at that snake-oil (CBD) being dripped into your gin and tonic then ask what exactly is this going to do? Absolutely nothing- because the product has nothing psycho-active in it. My late step-father was always dismayed when he couldn’t buy Hemp lines for his yacht. He’d say- cut a piece and smoke it.
If your answers are yes, no, no and no, then you’ll probably be hungry – and hopefully thirsty by the time you finished reading. Why? Because cheese is not pretentious, nor is it only for dessert! In fact, cheese is something that is made by hand in the same manner as it has for hundreds of years- and cheese is created by farmers! There are certainly machine-made cheeses, but for the intent of this article, all the cheeses in the classes at the French Cheese Board in Manhattan are made by hand in the ancient fashion of the cheese maker. So, you should not be mystified.
Far from mystified, what is needed to truly TASTE cheese is to cut off your ability of smelling the cheese first. There are many taste receptors in our mouths that are incredibly sensitive, but unfortunately most cheese is tasted with our noses first. And if you can close your eyes while you are tasting cheese, there is another whole set of senses that are fooled by your visual sensibility.
Located in the trendy-eastern fringes of SoHo, where the old city collides with Nolita, the French Cheese Board in its handsome and sleek space. It is filled with ample sunlight and is a very friendly place indeed. This outpost of French culture in the Big City, seeks to demystify cheese by taking cheese out of its usually pretentious context completely. Instead of merely snacking on cheese, they suggest carefully tasting cheese, but not overwhelming the plate with superfluous parts. Instead of a grilled-cheese sandwich, serving a small cheese slice- served simply with dried fruit, plain crackers (so not to overpower the delicate flavors) and perhaps some rugged coins of dry baguette will more than suffice as an accompaniment.
The ancient style of making cheese, on a cheese board, or alone- Goat Cheese is a fine way to start a meal. I tend to prefer a combination of old and new goat cheeses, carefully rolled into a log and then further aged in straw- in a special cheese cave. This amalgamation of funky and sweet calls out for a number of liquid accompaniments. Many of the liquids that I suggest for goat cheese are not wine. Goat cheese, especially aged (chalky and funky in the somewhat barnyard nose) takes to the more botanical style of gin with a tongue in cheek sense of humor. There is nothing that I enjoy more in the summer months than a gin and tonic with a nice crumbly goat cheese between my fingers. For the gin component I’d suggest the Barrel Aged Barr Hill Tom Cat (style). A couple months in new American oak translates to a richening and deepening of the already sensuous quality inherent in each sip of Barr Hill Gin. A touch of vanilla, toasty oak and raw honey reveal themselves into a tangle of sweet and tangy across the palate. Couple with that a cane sugar tonic water such as Q-Tonic (from Brooklyn no less), a hunk of lime and you have the next wave of cheese sophistication. This is the way I want to start my next meal, with elegance and candor.
A firm, well aged, mountain-style cheese from the French Alps calls out for a whisky from Japan that mimics in its own inimitable way the magnificent Scotch Whiskies from the other side of the globe. For a firm, yet oily cheese such as these highly expressive examples from the extreme altitudes of the Alps, a richly textured whisky provides back-bone against the creamy firmness of the hand-made cheese. The Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky is distilled drop by precious drop from a Coffey still dating to the early 1960’s. A Coffey Still is a type of Pot Still made of copper. It makes richly textured liquor that has a warm nutty flavor in its approach. Similar on the flavor wheel to the earthy quality of the French- mountain cheeses. A fine match for stimulating the palate before or even after dinner.
Francois, the gregarious and ever-smiling “Professeur de Fromage” comes from a long line of cheese makers. His studied and conversational flair for history is filled with humorous narratives and beneficial hints to the history of cheese. All of these made even more interesting because of the ultimate enjoyment of the finest cheeses available and he does this without any pretentiousness. He demystifies the different varieties, goat, sheep, cow- and breaks each one down into its unique components of flavor. Sour, sweet, tangy, umami- what? What is that? I think it’s the indescribable flavor. The one between here and there. Confusing? Perhaps it is- but after taking a most basic class at the French Cheese Board you’ll certainly be less confused, and considerably more knowledgeable in the art of cheese as more than a metaphor.
Getting back to how flavor is revealed, Francois offers you a mask to cover your eyes with a and your nose is closed with a kind of swimmer’s nose clip. This is to encourage textural feeling the surface of the cheese through your fingers, neither smelling the cheese, nor viewing it.
Is the cheese dry, soft, grainy, crumbly, wet, sticky, polished…?
The list of textures goes on and on.
French cheese comes in all forms, from hard, used for grating, to liquefied and unctuous, meant to be spooned and savored. There are many varieties and no, cheese is not just for dessert. It makes for an incredible aperitif with slivers of black footed Spanish Iberico Ham, meant to stimulate the thirst and the appetite.
For nibbling on Iberico Ham and Washed Rind Cheese I would suggest a slightly salty “Fino” Style Sherry such as the Bodegas Grant “La Garrocha” Fino Sherry NV (Andalucia, Spain) The crisp and aromatic nature of this nearly bone dry sherry will cut the fat both of the cheese and the pork flesh with alacrity.
Sure, you can enjoy cheese without a blindfold on and certainly without a nose clip blocking your passage to the ability of scent. But isn’t it interesting to dismiss most French cheeses because they may be overly assertive in aromatics. That is certainly a fact of life when dealing with washed rind cheeses and still others that turn into liquefaction through aging and cannot be eaten without a spoon, it would just be too sloppy! But delicious!
Cheese and the study of cheese is as easy as taking a walk down to the French Cheese Board, conveniently located at 41 Spring Street in Nolita. Bring and open mind and taste yourself into another way of being. One that embraces the passion for hand-made cheese!
Cheers from all of us at
Picture this: You’re enjoying one of Northern California’s famed wine tours — travelling to sunny vineyards, sampling the finest pinot noir, dining on farm-to-table meals. But this jaunt entails a few extra stops: sanctioned visits to local cannabis farms, where you’re welcome to tour the fragrant marijuana plants and sample the latest Mendocino Kush in the on-site tasting rooms.
Excursions like this could be the result of the first-ever Wine and Weed Symposium, a business conference being held on August 3 in Santa Rosa, California. The symposium itself isn’t that remarkable; these days you can find every sort of cannabis-themed event, from marijuana business expos to job fairs to cannabis religious services. What is noteworthy is that this conference is being organized by the Wine Industry Network, a wine marketing and events company, and organizers say three-quarters of the sold-out event’s 400 registrants are from the wine industry, a business not necessarily known for its counterculture leanings. Wine Industry Network CEO George Christie says the marijuana industry is similarly excited about the endeavor. “When we talked to cannabis people, they were like, ‘I love wine. What can we do to help?’” says Christie. “I think the wine industry is going to find a very willing partner in the cannabis business.”
This Fourth of July, we hope you’re inspired to invite some friends over to your apartment for a holiday celebration. It’s a perfect time to try out that new grill or mix up some festive cocktails. From spritzers to shooters to coolers, here are some of our favorite Fourth of July cocktail recipes.
If the age-old phrase that “you are what you eat” manifests itself literally, I’d be one giant avocado rolling around the streets of New York City #deadsexy. All jokes aside, many of us don’t take the time out to recognize just how much food and the art of dining shape our collective identities, memories and social politics apart from the obvious physical implications food has on our waistlines. I got a quick reminder of just how significant each bite lends to food for thought when I accompanied the motley crew at Ace Hotel New York as they hosted this year’s Food Book Fair. Here are 4 hearty lessons I learned from foodies & bookworms alike:
1) “Come to the table with an empty stomach and leave with a full heart.” ~ Warren Bobrow aka “The Cocktail Whisper”
On opening night of the Food Book Fair, Warren Bobrow discussed his latest book, The Craft Cocktail Compendium, which encompasses a mixture of contemporary apothecary cocktails and silent nods to Robert Louis Stevenson. I later struck up a conversation with Warren about the power of authentic connections through food. Warren expressed that his favorite personal mantra is, “Come to the table with an empty stomach and leave with a full heart” because by doing so, one will, in a more disarming way, gain a better understanding and appreciation of others and the places they come from. Take a seat around the table so that everyone can share food, drinks and candid conversations about life and witness how much more enriched you feel afterwards.
You see that Gin is a perennial favorite when the temperature ekes its way past ninety degrees. The refreshing element of the botanicals stimulate the taste buds and the crisp aromatics of the tonic water bring these liquids to a much higher level. Of course, your hot weather gin and tonic will be ruined if you are still using the old standby- the drink gun to supply the tonic water. Unless you’re pouring craft-style soda from your drink gun you’d better take your Gin and Tonic off your cocktail menu. Why?
Because your tonic water is not something that I want to praise. Far from. If it’s made from high fructose corn syrup you aren’t helping with the good health of your guests. It’s not great stuff, packed with artificial ingredients and those I couldn’t even spell if I wanted to.
So, what is a bar or restaurant to do? Stop serving Gin and Tonics altogether?
NO, you should make this Summer relaxer, the G&T cocktail- the shining star of your bar program. The one drink that screams Summer in a Glass. Try these three fabulous Gins available in the New York, NJ and CT areas with these three different CANE SUGAR Tonic waters. One of which is a tonic syrup!
In this case, I’m leading with one of my perennial tonic water favorites. The one from Q-Drinks. They make a delicious tonic water with all natural ingredients- including the most important one, the cane sugar!
Q-Tonic is crisp, aromatic and highly refreshing. There are notes of Peruvian quinine, agave syrup and a touch of citrus making for a flavor packed mouthful of dry and bitter. Each element cuts the inherent sweetness of the raw honey gin and truly raises the bar.
The next gin that I chose is more London Dry style in demeanor. It starts dry and finishes dry. (just like a stiff upper lip) It’s named Martin Miller’s Gin and it is made with water from Iceland, perhaps the purest and softest water in the world. I’m a huge fan of their Pot Still gin for the rich depth of flavor. I believe that it is the classic combination of crisp to aromatic to bodacious. My choice of tonic water for Martin Miller’s namesake gin would be the Fever Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water. This very European styled fizzy liquid speaks a different language than the one that most off the shelf tonic waters can never do. It is not cloying, nor overly rich. Fever Tree is dry on the finish and it stands up to the potent, pot-still gin with alacrity.
The final gin that I chose for this cocktail primer is probably the most classic in the purely Botanical format. Hendricks’s Gin is my choice for the final slurp. This gin is bursting with flavors of cucumber and roses. Quite remarkable really.
The tonic water is no less rambunctious either because I picked one made right here in New Jersey named TomR’s Tonic. Their handmade product is perfectly geared to the explosive aromatics of Hendricks’s gin because you can adjust the bitterness of the final drink just by adding more- or less of this amazing tonic syrup. I love the 1,2,3, method described on their website.
Craft cocktails have made incredible leaps and bounds over the past dozen or so years. Nothing is more in evidence than the augmentations, such as bitters, shrubs, syrups, tonics, cola, and even flowers — each variety and flavor designed specifically for the craft cocktail bar.
Visit your neighborhood mixology bar; they are popping up all over like microbrew bars did about ten years ago. You can tell a mixology bar by a couple of things. Look over at the bar. Should you see little medicine droppers on tiny bottles lined up in a row, you’re probably in the right place. Look further, do you see liquors on the shelf that you don’t recognize? Getting warmer, you are. What about that over there? It looks like they refrigerate their Vermouth (if they don’t, throw it out!). And the ice, wow, such large cubes and crystal clear.
(OK, please don’t get hung up on clear ice, not everyone gets ice and are ice-nerds, but I digress.)
Nearly everyone has been to their local garden store and ogled over the varieties of fresh herbs that you can grow on your windowsill garden. Who knew there were so many different kinds of basil? And how about all that mint? Are there enough days of growing season left for every different kind of mint, pared with all those incredible bourbons on your groaning shelves? Well, worry not. I’m going to make a few suggestions of which herbs you should be growing in your mixology garden and some simple ways to use them.
I think a better example is what Rum is and is not.
• Rum is not made of grain. It is derived from sugarcane. Most Rum on the market is distilled from Molasses. Molasses is the stuff that is left after making sugar. It’s not pretty- you probably have a bottle of Blackstrap Molasses in your pantry. Same thing.
• Rum can be made with freshly crushed sugar cane juice- That style tends to be what we call Agricole or Agricultural. If the juice is not tanked within a day or so, it goes bad.
• Most Rum is aged in used American Bourbon oak barrels. Just like your Tequila and your Scotch and sometimes your beer. If you like Rum, you will probably be a whiskey drinker too.
• Most Rum contains the chemical known as glycerin for the creamy and richly textured “mouth-feel”… When distilleries and rectifiers (those who buy their distillate and say they make their own stuff-when they don’t, but there are no rules- so…) often add adjuncts and flavorings to the rum. (Bad news in my opinion)
Please, read further at https://totalfood.com/rum-seriously-hot-springtime/