Cocktail Tasting and Author Talk |


August 20, 6-9 pm ’30’s on Film  Peabody Essex Museum Bartlett Gallery 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970


Join author and mixologist Warren Bobrow as he demonstrates an inventive cocktail recipe and explores the connection between cocktails and film. He will sign copies of his book Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today, available from the Museum Shop.

apothecary cocktails in French!

 

#PEMPM 8/20 6-9pm for cocktail tasting and author talk! More details: http://ow.ly/QPovE

North Jersey (dot com)

“Whiskey Cocktails”: new from Morristown writer

October 26, 2014    Last updated: Sunday, October 26, 2014, 1:21 AM

Whiskey, writes Morristown cocktail expert Warren Bobrow, has long had a reputation as a spirit enjoyed straight out of the bottle “without the benefit of mixers, and often without tasting much of anything except the alcohol’s heat.” Bobrow’s new book seeks to show off how the best whiskeys can be made into phenomenal cocktails. In “Whiskey Cocktails,” (Fair Winds Press, $22.95) he presents 75 classic and modern recipes including a German Pavilion cocktail made with smoked American whiskey and a Late Summer Fizz with rye whiskey and sweet Italian vermouth.

* Whiskey gets a remix

 

* Whiskey gets a remix

 

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/whiskey-cocktails-new-from-morristown-writer-1.1118221#sthash.e5CVEqLs.dpuf

Musings on Whiskey by Warren Bobrow for the White Mule Press (thank you!)

Musings on Whiskey from Warren Bobrow

Bobrow_portraitWarren Bobrow announces his new book Whiskey Cocktails and tells how he came to write it. Known as The Cocktail Whisperer, Warren’s vast knowledge of cocktails has spawned a previous book, Apothecary Cocktails, and over 300 articles on food, wine, and cocktail mixology. As our guest blogger, we get a peek inside Warren’s musings about whiskey, spirits and food. Enjoy!

My influence for writing Whiskey Cocktails is one of a most circuitous nature.

Whiskey has rough and tumble roots for me. Initially I looked at whiskey as something that was rough and harsh across my palate.

I wasn’t a whiskey fan until a couple of years ago.

Rum was more my forte, I was a rum judge for the Ministry of Rum in 2010. I also wrote about food, and, of course wine. It’s very tough to make a living being just one more voice in the room of food writing or even wine writing.

Coincidently, many of those rums that I was starting to enjoy became even more intriguing for me. Through research, I found that many types of rum were aged in used bourbon barrels.
Perhaps that flavor of char and smoke was more a part of my taste buds than I initially allowed?

It’s funny for me, when I think of the wines that I grew up with at home — the ones that were on the our dinner table — Left Bank, Rhone, Loire, all use casks that speak clearly of the place. There was a flavor to each sip. Something unique and profound was taking place at the same time in my education. I traveled across Europe, Africa, and South America, always tasting, memorizing and trying to figure out flavors of intoxicants and food.

The same holds true for whiskey. The casks that go on to give other liquors unique qualities, characteristics and above all terroir may be from whiskey!

There is a certain cadence to whiskey and in the broader metric, craft sprits. They are not always great, but they certainly are passion in a bottle.

My thoughts on craft mean something that is handmade in small numbers. Craft means flavor and texture and risk, small business is not easy. Owning something that relies upon consumers is often fraught with failures. I know because I lost my own small business in Hurricane Hugo back in 1989. I owned a craft business, specializing in fresh pasta. (Maybe it was the grain??)

It might be a small produced wine, organic and Biodynamic that reminds me of whiskey, the flavors of stone fruits and caramelized nuts. Or vice versa. There are creative interrogatories in all forms of intoxicating beverages.

I’m very fond of food when I taste whiskey or any spirits for that matter. If I taste rye, I want a sandwich like a Rueben, piled high with briny and smoky corned beef or pastrami on seeded rye. Whiskey just calls out for food that speaks to me clearly.

Whiskey Cocktails, is my second book. My first book, Apothecary Cocktails takes the tack of what you took for healing in the years before electricity and refrigeration. How folk healing remedies may have been little more than snake oil, but what a wonderful way to heal what ailed ye!

Whiskey Cocktails explores the liquor from a stylistic approach — Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Alternative Grains, Indian (India), Japanese, French, Tennessee Sipping Whiskey, White Whiskey, etc. even cooking recipes!

In a former part of my life, before I was in the corporate world, I was a trained chef. This formal training comes in handy for the mixology business. It’s all about flavor and combinations of flavor.

I invite you to peer into my mind, one sip and word at a time.

There are some marvelous things in Whiskey Cocktails. Others have said that this book is a new Classic. I’m not sure, I’d rather be humble than a know it all. As I said, I’m new to whiskey and I’m lucky to be here, surrounded by and growing to be respected among my peers as a member of the table.

If they only knew the path I took to get here! Whew!
Bobrow-Cover
I invite you to purchase Whiskey Cocktails and if you haven’t already, please consider Apothecary Cocktails as well.

You can read my musings at http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com or purchase my book at: http://www.qbookshop.com/authors/17884/Warren-Bobrow.html

Thank you.
Warren Bobrow

FEW Spirits/ Five Questions…

FEW Spirits/Five Questions

September 26, 2014
I recently spoke to Paul Hletko, the founder of FEW Spirits in Illinois.

It’s been a while since I embarked on this project, known as the Five Questions, and I beg your time to read the questions and drink the highly personal answers from each craft distiller whom I see worthy of your attention.

 

Without further adieu, may I present Paul Hietko.

 

1. WB:  What do Craft Spirits mean to you?

PH: To me, “craft spirits” means passion for product over all else and actually made by the folks claiming to make it.  Authenticity and honesty is the key.

2. WB:  Where are you from?  What did you do before you became a distiller?

PH: I was born in the Chicago area, grew up in Michigan, spent time in Northern California, and have lived in Chicago now for over 20 years.  Prior to becoming a distiller, I pursued several creative passions, and played guitar professionally, as well as running a record label, building custom guitar effects pedals, and more.  I also had a desk job for many years, but always strived to pursue dreams.

3.  WB: What is your favorite food?  Which of your spirits go well with that dish?

PH: My favorite food depends on my mood.  I’m currently a bit obsessed with banh mi, as well as working on some homemade curries. I’m really digging the bourbon with the banh mi, as the spiciness of the bourbon plays well with the spices in the sandwich.

4. WB: Is there anything you’ve eaten or sipped that brings a tear to your eye when you taste it?  Why?

PH: Some of the favorite things I sip are products that my friends make, as I know what it takes to bring it to life.  Food and drink can have such a dramatic affect, and eating various foods can really bring me back to various places.  I can’t eat matzo ball soup without missing my grandmother.  I can’t think of Spätzle without missing my grandmother’s!

 

5.  WB: Social Media brought us together originally.  What are your thoughts on Social Media?  Do you use it?  Do you have time to Tweet?

PH: I love social media – it’s the best way to communicate with the people that actually consume what we make.  All that we do, we do for the spirit that is in the glass so that we can hopefully be a part of peoples enjoyment of life with their family and friends.  That means a lot to us, and this connection with our fans is truly amazing.

 

My tasting Notes for these gorgeous spirits…

FEW Bourbon Whiskey

Spanish Leather, sweet cream and wet stones give way to a bit of heat and that long finish that says CRAFT.  This is very drinkable stuff, worthy of your finest glassware

FEW Rye Whiskey

If I could drink a corned beef sandwich, this is what I’d be enjoying for lunch!  Smoky notes of charred earth, tangy and cinnamon tinged rye bread with a zingy finish that goes on and on!

FEW Single Malt Whiskey

Is this whiskey from Scotland?  Nope, it’s all American!  Licks of wood smoke give way to sweet grains and a haunting finish punctuated by toasted citrus zest and salt crusted stones.  This is sophisticated and worldly.  Class act!

FEW Barrel Gin

Sweet notes of long cooked grains enrobed in dark (70% or more) bittersweet chocolate, cooked slowly with the aromatics of Juniper Berries and slowly cooked stone fruits, like quince and peaches.  A Ramos Gin Fizz with this slurp would take you to places not yet discovered!

 

My second book, Whiskey Cocktails is available ever so shortly on Quarto Publishing.  In the book, I’ve created 75 new and re-imaged cocktails for one of the world’s favorite spirits, Whiskey… With my unique- Cocktail Whisperer style and grace. 

 

Teeling Whiskey and Barrell Bourbon, Two Delights, recently discovered. from Foodista.com (yes, I’m on the masthead!)

Teeling Whiskey and Barrell Bourbon, Two Delights, recently discovered.

Whiskey Cocktails is coming out in a few short weeks, so it seems to reason that my mailbox is suddenly full of whiskey!In this case I’ve received several fine bottles that I’d like to share with you.  The first one is Ireland in every sip.  The Spirit of Dublin, Teeling Whiskey is one such example of high quality.  They represent Ireland in each sip, in fact when I uncorked the bottle, the very aroma placed me on the Temple Bar, enjoying the mist against my face and Irish Whiskey woven into coffee, filling my belly with happy warmth.

I’m trying not to lose sleep over claims about what Craft Distilling means outside of marketing, nor am I getting bent out of shape about “Small Batch” and what actually constitutes that statement in the broad context of the word.

But what I will say is Teeling Whiskey makes statements on their label about the lack of chill filtration and the fact that they use former rum casks for a deeper and sweeter finish.  What I do know is that they use cork on their bottle finish and I do like that extra effort for quality.

I also like the bottle shape and the color- a deep brown/green/black that should ostensibly protect the fine spirits held within from damaging rays of the sun.  Who knows, but it certainly is a handsome bottle design.

The label evokes the feeling of another time- perhaps less hurried.  And when enjoyed out of my Bormioli tasting glass, I truly get what this whiskey has to offer.

It’s really luscious in the mouth and it finishes astonishingly sweet without a hint of smoke- because in Ireland their whiskies are sweet in their flavor profile.

 

For that reason I like to craft cocktails with Irish Whiskey

Teeling is as good as I’ve had in what appears to be a well crafted spirit. It’s something new and I know you will want to taste it.  So seek it out and don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit.  To that end I offer you a fine cocktail.

Black Irish Smash

 We know that adventurous Spanish sailors followed the Gulf Stream up to Ireland looking for conquests and fishing grounds.  Some stayed and gave the island an entirely new population.  Black Irish people, are the amalgamation of Irish people and those Spanish sailors.  Hence the cocktail.

2 oz. Teeling “Small Batch” Irish Whiskey

4 oz. home-made lemonade – Sweetened to taste with your own mint simple syrup (Mint Simple Syrup 1:1 mint to sugar to 1 cup almost boiling water- steep overnight or longer in the fridge and then filter out mint)

1 oz. Mountain Valley Sparkling Water

4 drops El Guapo Chicory-Pecan Bitters

very tiny pinch of sea salt

Prep:

To a mixing glass, fill 3/4 with ice

add the lemonade and pour the whiskey over the top and stir until mixed

Strain into two rocks glasses with one cracked 2×2 cube in each

Top with a splash of the sparkling water, add a very small pinch of sea salt

Finish with the bitters and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint for clarity

 

Barrell Bourbon is clearly getting my attention because it tastes like success.  Good luck finding it though- you can make this your quest, like that of Pappy Van Winkle, another very hard to get commodity.  I think that Barrell is a bit easier to get because of the nature of distribution.  They are not a huge company yet, so sale of this whiskey is pretty normal.  If you find it, buy it because a case is just six bottles and there aren’t too many of them around.

But why give you only bad news?

That’s certainly not my intention.

They say that Barrell Bourbon served at cask strength is just too strong for most palates.  So it needs a bit of water to reveal the inner flavors.  But I think it needs some mixing up.  Perhaps that’s just the twisted part of why I love what I do.  May I suggest doing a wash with Lucid Absinthe in your glass?  Then some pineapple that has been both grilled and then juiced?  Perhaps a sage leaf, lit on fire and the smoke captured by the inside of a Boston shaker?  The honor for teaching me this technique is firmly on the shoulders of the head bartender from Secreto in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Chris Milligan.  He taught me this art.

Ah.. it’s darned good stuff.  Pay attention though.  This cocktail does work with any high proof bourbon or rye.

The Antidote

3 oz. Barrell Bourbon (bottling 002, because 001 just isn’t around any longer)

1/4 oz. Lucid Absinthe- wash rocks glasses with Lucid Absinthe and a bit of ice to cool, let sit

2 oz. Grilled Pineapple juice

1 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

1/2 oz. Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit juice

2-3 Sage Leaves

Crushed Ice

1 oz. Simple Syrup

3-6 Drops of El Guapo Gumbo Bitters

Sprig of mint

 

Prep:

Light your sage in a fireproof ashtray

Capture the sage smoke in your Boston Shaker

Fill the Boston Shaker 3/4 with ice (and the sage smoke)

Add the juices and the simple Syrup

Add the Barrell Bourbon

Cap and shake for 20 seconds

Pour out the water and the Lucid absinthe into your mouth (why waste good liquor?)

Add 1 cube of 2×2 ice to each glass

Pour your mixture over the ice

Dot with the El Guapo Gumbo Bitters

Garnish with the mint

Serve to a happy camper

Whole Foods/Dark Rye Magazine

Whole Foods/Dark Rye Magazine
Whole Foods/Dark Rye Magazine

A How-To Guide for Making Sweet & Sour Concoctions

By Warren Bobrow

Contrary to what you might think, shrubs are not the large green hedge plants that grow in your backyard.

As the “Knights Who Say Ni” well know, those are shrubberies. The real shrubs—strange and delicious concoctions of vinegar and sugar-preserved fruit syrup—are making a comeback.

Shrubs had their peak in the United States during the colonial era and were frequently used into the mid-1800s, mostly among the working class. Fruit syrup was an inexpensive, sweet refreshment. People found that drinking certain acidulated liquids like shrubs cured their aching bellies and gave them quick energy, too. The acidic vinegar also helped purify their poisonous drinking water.

When fizzy, cheaply produced soda pop hit the scene, shrubs all but disappeared from drinking vernacular. But modern hipster mixologists have rediscovered the magic of shrubs. Now people are starting to use them at home, too.

Shrubs can be simply made with only three easy-to-purchase ingredients: sugar, vinegar and fruit, plus water. They have a salty, sealike undertone but are also sweet and tart. The fruit gives a deeply welcome hit of sweet perfume, the raw cane sugar sweetens naturally, and the unmistakable tang of vinegar makes your lips pucker, and few things are more salutary for the gut than naturally fermented beverages. Shrubs really were the original energy and health drink. And now it looks like they’ve gotten their second wind!

Here are two of my favorite shrubs, along with three cocktail recipes.

Note: These shrubs will remain fresh for 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator.

Shrub Recipes

Raspberry Shrub

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

This very basic shrub makes all kinds of refreshing combinations. Although the raspberry shrub starts out vividly red, in the end result, the shrub will have a pale red hue.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup very ripe organic raspberries
  • 1 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 cup raw cider vinegar

METHOD

In a nonreactive bowl, add raspberries and pour sugar over the top.

Cover and let sit refrigerated for a few days, stirring and muddling often with a wooden spoon to combine. This mixture should expel lots of liquid.

After a few days of gentle fermentation, add vinegar. Let the vinegar combine with the sugar and raspberries for another week refrigerated.

Arrange a fine-mesh strainer over a nonreactive bowl (one with a spout is handy). Pour the shrub mixture into the strainer and mash with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.

Funnel the shrub into sterilized jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least a week more, shaking well before using.

The assertive vinegar flavor will fade over time, leaving you a simple syrup that is tangy, sweet and memorable!

Tip: A simple way to enjoy this raspberry shrub is with a glass of seltzer water and the addition of a few slivers of lemon zest.

AFTER A PAUSE PUNCH

Serves 2

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Ingredients:

  • Ice cubes
  • 4 ounces sugar cane rum
  • 3 ounces raspberry shrub
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

Method:

Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice. Pour rum, shrub and juices over the ice. Cover, cap and shake hard for 15 seconds or until frosty.

Add a large ice cube to each of 2 cocktail glasses. Strain cocktail into glasses and serve.

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Roasted Peach Shrub

Makes about 1 1/2 Cups

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Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds peaches, preferably extra ripe, roughly chopped
  • 2¼ cups raw cane sugar, divided
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Arrange peaches on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the sugar and roast for 45 minutes or until deeply caramelized. Let cool and transfer to a nonreactive bowl.

Cover roasted peaches with remaining 2 cups sugar. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for several days, stirring often to mash and muddle the peaches and release peach-flavored sugar syrup.

After a few days, add the vinegar. It may bubble a bit, which is ideal. Cover and let sit refrigerated for a week, stirring twice daily to release the flavors.

Arrange a fine mesh strainer over a nonreactive bowl (one with a spout is handy). Pour the shrub mixture into the strainer and mash with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.

Funnel into sterilized jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least a week before using.

Note: If your shrubs ever become fuzzy, foamy or speak in strange tongues, throw them out immediately! Mold is not your friend!

Only Fair Play Mocktail

Serves 2

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Ingredients

  • Ice cubes
  • 2½ ounces Roasted Peach Shrub
  • 2½ ounces rye whiskey
  • 3 ounces plain seltzer water, divided
  • 4 dashes aromatic bitters
  • Fresh mint, for garnish

METHOD

Fill 2 old fashioned glasses with ice and water, and then set aside to chill.

Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice. Pour shrub and whiskey over the ice. Cover, cap and shake hard for 15 seconds or until frosty.

Pour ice water out of the cocktail glasses. Add a couple ice cubes to each glass. Strain the cocktail over the ice and top with seltzer water. Dot each cocktail with bitters and garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.

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THE OLD PACIFIC COCKTAIL

Serves 1

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Ingredients

  • ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme plus a sprig for garnish
  • Ice cubes
  • 2 ounces Roasted Peach Shrub
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 ounce plain seltzer water
  • Aromatic bitters

METHOD

Add thyme and a handful of ice to a mixing glass.

Add shrub and lemon zest. Stir 40 times and then strain into a cocktail glass over a large ice cube.

Add a splash of seltzer water, a couple drops of bitters and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

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Warren Bobrow is the author of Apothecary Cocktails, and his second book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released in October. In addition to his popular blog, The Cocktail Whisperer, Warren has written for Foodista.com, Voda Magazine, Saveur, Serious Eats, and Edible. You can follow him on Twitter at @WarrenBobrow1.

DrinkupNY!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Journey to the Center of the Earth (a trip for two)

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Icelandic craft distilled spirits like Reyka are famous for more than just their provenance.  They are famous because of the quality of the water.

Is the water from Iceland alcoholic?

Nope, I’m sorry to tell you that it isn’t.  But it certainly is pure.  And unpolluted water is everything when blending the highest quality spirits.

The water from Iceland is perhaps the softest in the world because of the utter clarity of the ecosystem.   The water for Reyka vodka is drawn from a 4000-year-old volcanic rock “field” that is, according to researchers, uncontaminated by the environmental ills of mankind.

Reyka (Ray-kuh) is an ancient Icelandic word for steam or smoke.   This would make perfect sense because Iceland is a country filled with volcanoes and smoke.  I’ve never been to Iceland, but in college I had a down comforter from Iceland.  The down was gathered from puffins.  You know, that impossibly cute bird that lives in subzero temperatures without any complaints?  The same.  But what does a down comforter in college have to do with vodka from Iceland?

It means absolutely nothing at all.

But I suppose the correlation is more of the quality of the products that I’ve seen coming out of this country. They tend to be of the highest eminence.  They are the very best items that money can buy.

The same holds true to fact about their spirits.  Reyka is one of the best vodkas I’ve ever passed through my lips.  It is produced on a pot still in very small batches.  There is a gorgeous sweetness that follows each drop, one of caramel and then another of sweet corn still glistening in the morning sunlight.

It’s bursting with flavors and I want to drink more.

Reyka is bottled in a handsome light blue tinted bottle with a long neck (easy to grab in your hand) with a real cork, instead of synthetic cork.  It’s bottled at 80 Proof, 40% ALC/VOL but you’d never think that this vodka could be so smooth at this proof level.

The label reads something in Icelandic and we are also told that the vodka is a “Small Batch Vodka, Hand Crafted in Iceland.  In smaller writing it goes on to read Traditionally Distilled & Filtered through Ancient Artic Lava Rocks.  Lava rocks?  Ah, that would make sense.  Most of Iceland was formed from the eruption of volcanoes.  Pure water is filtered through layer upon layer of the finest filter known to distillers.  This makes the water from distillation sing with Terroir.  I’ve tasted Icelandic water at the Fancy Food Show and can attest to its softness across the palate.

Reyka is distilled from grain and they carefully prepare each batch to emulate the exuberance that the head distiller feels.  This is translated into each batch.

I don’t usually find myself drinking vodka.  It just doesn’t do it for me on a flavor profile, but I am impressed by Reyka Vodka.  It’s the anti-Vodka.  There is flavor in there as deep as the depths of the volcanoes in Iceland.  This vodka is the voyage to the center of the earth of Vodka.

Didn’t that take place in Iceland?

This week’s cocktail is derived from Voyage to the Center of the Earth.

In fact it is named just that.

I’ve included that masterfully prepared Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup to be combined with Reyka Vodka and a nice dose of Arkansas’s own Mountain Valley Spring (pure sparkling) water- because I think this combination of sweet to crisp is the perfect foil against this gorgeous Icelandic vodka.

Bitter Truth makes Creole Bitters that bring this very international cocktail back down to the Caribbean Sea through the luscious Creole Bitters.  Tinted the color red- of a late summer sunset.  These bitters complement the Reyka Vodka, the Mountain Valley sparkling water, the Fruitations Tangerine Syrup and your own favorite glass.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (a trip for two)
Ingredients:
2 oz. Reyka Vodka
1 oz. Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup
4 oz. Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
Lemon zest
Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Preparation:
To a Boston Shaker, fill ¾ with ice
Chill two coupe glasses with ice and water
Pour out just before service…
Add the Reyka Vodka to the Fruitations Tangerine Syrup
Cover and Shake hard for 10-20 seconds
Strain into coupe glasses and top with the Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
Drip 4-5 drops of the Bitter Truth Creole Bitters over
Garnish with a lemon zest

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* – to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he’s finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
Contact: jockeyhollow@gmail.com

Drink up NY

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Martin Miller and his Gin

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Martin Miller recently passed away after a battle with cancer.  He was far too young to be claimed by such a deadly disease.

Martin for all you who don’t know was the founder of the highly individualistic gin company by the same name.  His gin set the stage for many of the micro distilled brands of gin that we see on the market today.

Martin Miller’s gin was: “born of love, obsession and some degree of madness,” according to the website and I tend to agree.  You have to be obsessed to make gin in England.  Most of the London Dry styled gin is flavorless at best, mere whispers against the more assertive “botanical” styles.   I prefer botanical gins like Martin Miller’s because the juniper takes a back seat to the citrus flavors inherent in the final mix.  They also use Icelandic glacial water to do the blending.  According to the website again, “Sparkling bright, pure and unpolluted we draw water from our own spring. This is water like no other, icy cold and alive. It emerges into daylight for the first time in maybe 800 years, rising from the depths of the Basalt Mountains that frame the skyline of this sleepy village.
So, spirit into spirit, for Icelander’s truly believe their water to be a living entity, Martin Miller’s is delicately blended with pure Icelandic spring water creating a marriage of rare softness, clarity of taste and appearance.
It is simply bottled magic.”
The distillate is produced using juniper, coriander, angelica, and Florentine Iris- coupled with the more unusual cassia, cinnamon bark, and anise, are blended with Seville orange peel and lime.  It also uses cucumber as an ingredient, like Hendrick’s and a couple of other brands on the market.   This is a very sophisticated slurp rolling in at just over 90 proof.  I’m a HUGE fan of Martin Miller’s gin in a somewhat twisted Gin and Tonic.  For the tonic component I’m very fond of the tonic syrup from Tom.  Tom Richter is the owner of this company that makes just about the best tonic syrup I’ve ever tasted.  I also add some Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters to the usual tonic syrup and fizzy water.  I’m rather partial to Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in Pink Grapefruit.  I think it works beautifully against the spicy elements of the tonic syrup and the haunting aromatics of Martin Miller’s Gin.

The Martin Miller’s Gin & Twisted Tonic 

Ingredients:
2 oz. martin miller’s gin
1 oz. Tomr Tonic Syrup
Grapefruit peel
4 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (pink grapefruit)
2-3 dashes Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
Hand cut ice (freeze Tupperware 1 gallon trays with triple boiled distilled water overnight, cut to size for each drink)

Preparation:
Rub the grapefruit peel on the inside of each Collins glass, first burning it slightly against a match to bring out the natural oils

Add the hand cut ice to the glass
Add the tonic syrup and the gin over the top of the syrup
Add the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
Top with the Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters and serve immediately after stirring with a long colorful straw!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys

Beekman 1802 and KLAUS!

GARTENDING: BLAME IT ON RIO

 

 

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” –Albert Einstein

 

I wanted to lead off this week’s adventure with this quote from the Beekman Boys Facebook page.  If you didn’t know, The Beekman 1802 Boys just won the Amazing Race on television.  I don’t normally watch flashy reality shows but this one was much different.  The characters were everyone types from all over the country except for one couple.  The Beekman Boys.  My friends, Brent and Josh.

I started writing for them after they did a book signing at Williams-Sonoma in Short Hills, NJ.  I introduced myself as a cocktail mixologist/author and they asked me if I’d like to write for them.

The rest is lovely histories for myself and of course my alter-ego/gnome, Klaus, the Soused Gnome.

Perhaps you’ve seen his fan page on Facebook?

He’s a good little guy who brings a smile to most.  And this brings me back to the initial quote, “You have to learn the rules of the game.”  I’ve discovered that if I can make just one person smile and share in the passion that is Klaus, then I’m truly a success.  Certainly within Klaus’s tiny ceramic heart he is living a dream.

I often wonder what his life was like before I acquired him?  I wonder if his former owners brought him around the world?

We’ve been to many places together in the past few months, Oregon, France, Ohio-twice, the Kentucky Derby, Charleston and of course New York. It’s been busy for the little guy.  Even with all this traveling, he still stays very thirsty.

Klaus loves New York City and he loves going to new and exciting cocktail bars.  One of these is named Milk & Honey.  It used to be way downtown.  Now- the coming weeks are ahead of us and with the rush to the New Year, Milk & Honey will soon be open.  The new address is 30 East 23rd Street in NYC.  It’s no longer in a tough neighborhood- you will feel comfortable visiting this new temple to the cocktailian arts because it’s located in a fabulous shopping district of Manhattan!

Avuá Cachaça invited Klaus to the soon-to-be-reopened Milk & Honey for the pre-launch of their expressive liquors. Klaus was very thirsty for some delicious cocktails that spoke clearly of the passion of Brazil.

What Klaus would do for the chance to visit Rio in the winter?  I shudder to imagine.  It’s summer in Brazil and the drink of choice is Cachaça mixed with lime and sugar.

Klaus should be so lucky.

 

Summer in Rio Cocktail (will smash even the most robust drinker)

(Each recipe makes two drinks)

Ingredients:

Avuá Cachaça

Blood Orange rounds

Victoria’s Kitchen Almond/Coconut Water

Hand cut ice

Fresh lime juice

Simple Syrup

 

Instructions:

To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with ice add:

4 oz. Avuá Cachaça

6 oz. Victoria’s Kitchen Almond/Coconut Water

1 oz. Fresh lime juice

1 oz. or to taste Simple Syrup

1 oz. Blood Orange juice

 

Shake Shake Shake Shake Shake

 

Strain into a short rocks glass with one cube of hand cut ice

Garnish with Blood Orange ½ rounds

Prepare for a plane ticket to Rio!

Warren Bobrow in the Charleston City Paper (South Carolina)

The bourbon boom is all about the South

Rip-Roaring Spirit

by Robert Moss @mossr

Food writer Warren Bobrow has a sure-fire trick for scoring face-time with even the most in-demand personalities at events like this week’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival. His introductory e-mail begins: “I’m bringing a couple of bottles of Pappy down with me. Let’s have a drink.”

Pappy Van Winkle - Jonathan Boncek

The Pappy in question is Pappy Van Winkle, whose star shines brighter than any other in the constellation of small-batch bourbons. Over the past five years, it has achieved what can only be called a cult following. Pappy fans text and tweet each other in desperate search for a bottle for an upcoming gathering. At liquor stores throughout the South, new shipments sell out the day they hit the shelves. In far-off regions like New York City, some owners don’t even put it on display, keeping it discretely under the counter for special customers.

One place you can find it reliably in Charleston is the bar at Husk, where they serve so much of the stuff that they managed to secure an entire barrel from the Van Winkle family. Sixty-five bucks will buy you a splendidly smooth 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Reserve or, for an extra $20, you can upgrade to the 23-year-old variety. And that’s for a single glass, not a bottle.

It’s not just for show. “We actually sell quite a bit of the 23-year-old,” say Dan Latimer, Husk’s general manager.

There are plenty of less pricey options. The Husk bar is a veritable temple of bourbon, stocking more than 50 premium brands grouped on the menu by their city of origin. You can have yours served over a single crystal-clear sphere of ice, handmade in a copper press. Or try it in a handcrafted cocktail like the Fire in the Orchard, Husk’s down-home take on the Old Fashioned that includes smoked apple juice, applejack brandy, and pickled jalapeños.

“We definitely made a decision to put bourbon center stage,” Latimer says, explaining that “the brown water” fits perfectly with the restaurant’s central theme of celebrating Southern ingredients. “We showcase the products of artisan producers, like Allan Benton’s bacon, Glenn Roberts’ grits and rice, and Craig Rogers’ lamb. Artisan bourbons like Julian Van Winkle’s go hand in hand with them.”

Within the Husk dining room, cornbread-stuffed quail is adorned with bourbon jus, and the dessert menu pairs its selections not with a wine or liqueur but with a recommended bourbon.

The barrel of Pappy Van Winkle at the Husk bar is just one indicator of a rising passion for slow-aged corn whiskey.

“It’s definitely made a comeback,” says Tim Willard, a bartender at FIG. He notes that while longtime bourbon drinkers “tend to have the one brand they like and don’t stray too far from it,” bourbon is winning new converts, too, thanks in part to the resurgence of craft cocktails.

In fact, FIG’s Death & Taxes, a blend of Buffalo Trace bourbon, Lillet Blanc, aperol, apricot, and dry vermouth, has been their best-selling cocktail for quite a while, Willard says.

Wine still takes top billing at the Charleston Wine + Food festival, but bourbon is getting its due at tastings and “perfectly paired” dinners. And, if you check the hip flasks being passed around by chefs and industry insiders at the festival after-parties, odds are they’ll be filled with Pappy.

Roderick Hale Weaver forms a sphere of ice at the husk bar, the better to enjoy your bourbon with - Jonathan Boncek

  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Roderick Hale Weaver forms a sphere of ice at the husk bar, the better to enjoy your bourbon with

The Big Business of Bourbon

It hasn’t always been this way. The liquor that Congress declared to be “America’s Native Spirit” in 1964 has had a rather rocky go of things over the past century.

Bourbon was born in the late 18th century in the hills of Kentucky when Scotch-Irish settlers applied their traditional distilling techniques to corn, the grain they had on hand in their new home. The real boom for “Old Bourbon” whiskey — named for the area around Bourbon County, Ky. — came in the last decades of the 19th century, as thousands of new distilleries were built and new brands were launched, many of which are still popular today.

Prohibition put most of the old Kentucky firms out of business forever. In the wake of Repeal, many of the distilleries and brands were consolidated into the portfolios of a few large companies like Schenley, National Distillers, and Seagrams. At the same time, imported Scotch, gin, and Canadian whiskey poured into the American market and left bourbon makers — whose products had to age for years in barrels before coming to market — struggling to catch up. The post-War era of cocktail parties and three-martini lunches only cemented America’s preference for clear, dry liquors like gin and the newly introduced vodka.

By the 1980s, things looked pretty grim. International conglomerates were buying and selling bourbon brands like so many baseball cards, shuffling them from one balance sheet to another and squeezing out the few remaining family-run distilleries. For wealthy consumers, a single-malt Scotch had become the hip way to prove connoisseurship, while out in the bars the younger crowd was ordering ever more vodka and rum.

But the bourbon makers weren’t quite ready to quit. They went after the Scotch-sippers first, introducing small batch and “special reserve” lines — what’s known in the trade as the high-end and super-premium categories. It worked. By the late 1990s, affluent drinkers were passing up the Macallan and the Laguvulin in favor of a few fingers of Blanton’s or Baker’s over a single cube of ice. Today, you can walk into your neighborhood liquor store and see row after row of bourbon bottles from dozens of different brands, some with the kinds of prices once commanded by only the rarest of single malts.

If you look closely at the labels, you might notice that this flourishing of brands comes primarily from just a few large companies. Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s, Baker’s, and Maker’s Mark are all from Beam, Inc., while Heaven Hill produces Elijah Craig and Evan Williams, and Brown-Forman owns Jack Daniel’s, Early Times, and Woodford Reserve. The old mid-market brands have launched a whole series of premium “line extensions,” too, like the six varieties of Jim Beam, which range from the original four-year-old white label bourbon to the eight-year-old double-aged black label.

The growth in the high-end market, though, has made room for some new players, and a series of smaller, more artisanal distillers have started making their way into the market, like Angel’s Envy from the Louisville Distilling Company and the Garrison Brothers from all the way down in the Texas Hill Country.

Nowhere is bourbon’s resurgence stronger than in the South, where whiskey sipping has been elevated to a high-art and America’s native spirit finds itself not only in upscale bars but even on the menus at the toniest fine-dining restaurants.

Old Rip Van Winkle Wakes Up

Bourbon sales have continued to grow over the past decade, driven primarily by the high-end and super-premium brands. And the most premium of those super-premiums is Pappy Van Winkle. It’s the product of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, a two-person firm comprised of President Julian Van Winkle III and his son, Preston, who serves as marketing manager.

The Van Winkle family has a long history in the bourbon trade. Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle got his start in the business in 1893 as a 19-year-old traveling salesman for the Weller & Sons wholesale house in Louisville. After 15 years, he pooled his funds with his friend Alex Farnsley and bought the wholesale house. After riding out Prohibition, they bought the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery, creating the Stitzel-Weller company, whose brands included W. L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, and Rebel Yell.

At its peak during the 1950s and 1960s, Stitzel-Weller was producing 800,000 cases of bourbon a year, and Pappy himself remained closely involved in its operations until his death in 1965 at the age of 91. Pappy’s son, Julian Jr., ran the company until 1971, when he was forced by stockholders to sell to the Norton Simon conglomerate, and the rights to their old brands eventually ended up in the hands of various other companies.

“The bourbon business was not very good in the early ’70s,” recalls Julian Van Winkle III. “It was fighting white whiskey, it was fighting vodkas.”

His father, Julian Jr., awakened “Old Rip Van Winkle” — a pre-Prohibition brand whose rights the family still owned — from its decades-long slumber and packaged it in specialized decanters adorned with wildlife images of university logos. Julian III took the reins when his father passed away in 1981. At that time, almost no one was selling long-aged bourbon, and Van Winkle started buying up old inventory from struggling distilleries, particularly those selling his family’s old brands, which had been sitting in barrels for years.

In the mid-1990s, the company launched its Pappy Van Winkle line of aged bourbons. Named after the family partriach, they’re different from ordinary bourbons for two reasons: their formula and their age.

Most bourbons are made with at least 51 percent corn and then rye and barley. The Van Winkle whiskeys are “wheated,” meaning they’re made with wheat instead of rye as the secondary grain. “Pappy only sold the wheated bourbon whiskey and that was his favorite,” Julian III says. It makes for a smoother, more mellow bourbon. “It ages more gracefully than a rye bourbon and picks up less of the wood and charcoal flavor from the barrels.”

Graceful aging is the second key. To be called a bourbon, corn whiskey has to age in new charred-oak barrels for at least four years. Most of the ultra-premium bourbons produced by the major distilleries are six to eight years old. The youngest sold by Van Winkle is the 10-year-old Old Rip Van Winkle, while the Pappy Van Winkle Special Reserve line has 15-, 20-, and 23-year-old versions.

Does it really make that much of a difference? Enough to invest months of time cultivating a relationship with your local liquor store owner or plunking down a cool $85 for a single slug at the bar?

Van Winkle believes in letting the tastebuds decide. At 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon, he will be providing Wine + Food festival-goers with a tangible demonstration at the Bourbon Born Spirit Tasting at Halls Chophouse. Attendees will sample four different versions of corn whiskey in sequence. The first is “white dog,” corn liquor straight off the still. Next, to show the effect of four years in an oak barrel, will be a Buffalo Trace bourbon that has the standard rye as its secondary grain. The final two tastes are both Van Winkle wheated bourbons, the first 12 years old and the final one 20 years.

Van Winkle will also be part of the 200+ Years of Charleston Classics Dinner at Hominy Grill, where two noted Charleston chefs — Kevin Johnson of the Grocery and Hominy’s own Robert Stehling — team up with Chris Hastings of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club to present a four-course meal of traditional Charleston classics. Van Winkle is providing a slow-sipping bourbon pairing for the dessert course.

Sometimes it seems about the only way to get your hands on some Pappy Van Winkle is at events like these. The Rip Van Winkle Distillery makes only 7,000 cases of bourbon annually, while the demand seems to be growing every year.

“We apologize for the scarcity,” Julian Van Winkle III tells fans of his family’s bourbon. “Most of the liquor stores are mad at us, and the consumers are mad at us, too.”

But their hands are tied. They have upped the amount of bourbon they put away each year, but it takes at least a decade in the barrel to be ready for market. “We’re just stuck with what we have.”

Here’s an insider tip on scoring a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle at your local liquor store: The company releases its bourbon twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. First, they sample bourbons from various barrels to determine which ones are ready for market, then they bottle it and finally release an allocation to the distributors for each state.

It’s up to the distributors to schedule their pick-up times and get it back to the stores in their respective states. Watch the company’s Facebook site. They’ll announce when each state’s allocation ships, and you can start staking out your local liquor store and hounding the owner for your bottle.

As of press time, the spring allocations had just been released to distributors and pickups were being scheduled, but the South Carolina allocation had not yet shipped.

The locally produced Virgil Kaine infuses bourbon with ginger - Amanda Click

  • Amanda Click
  • The locally produced Virgil Kaine infuses bourbon with ginger

Enter Virgil Kaine

If Julian Van Winkle is the high priest of bourbon, Charleston’s David Szlam is something of an evangelist. He freely admits that his newly released Virgil Kaine Bourbon & Ginger is meant to win over those who might not consider themselves bourbon drinkers.

It’s not an easy mission. For years there’s been a gulf in the world of spirits, what one might call the brown liquor/white liquor divide. On one side are the whiskey drinkers, who sip their bourbon or scotch straight and do little else with it. On the other are those who won’t touch the brown stuff, preferring clear vodkas and light rums, often in sweet, highly flavored concoctions that are the antithesis of an aged bourbon on the rocks.

Flavored vodkas have been the hot thing for years now, starting with basic infusions like orange and citron and branching out into more exotic flavors like mango and black pepper. The trend may now have reached its peak with Pinnacle Vodka, which offers — count ’em — 34 different flavors of vodka, including cookie dough, cotton candy, and cake.

Indeed, it seems the ultra-premium small-batch bourbons, epitomized by Pappy Van Winkle, and the bubble-gum pop of flavored vodkas couldn’t possibly be any further apart. But Szlam is trying to bridge that divide.

His passion for Kentucky’s native spirit started while he was in college when, perhaps just a bit ahead of the law on such matters, he and his buddies filled a glass case with as many different brands of bourbon they could get their hands on in an effort to sample them all. “Bourbon was our drink of choice,” he says. “A lot of it was great, a lot was shit.”

The enthusiasm continued after college as Szlam embarked on a career in the restaurant industry, including a stint as chef and co-owner at the short-lived but much acclaimed Cordavi, which made Esquire‘s list of the best new restaurants in 2006. Last year, as Szlam and Jake Johnson, his former sous chef at Cordavi, were considering their next venture, they noted all the flavored vodkas that everyone seemed to be drinking around town. “Why not do it with bourbon?” they asked.

And they did, drawing on a few molecular gastronomy techniques borrowed from their days at Cordavi. They experimented with a range of flavors before settling on ginger for a simple reason: A lot of new bourbon drinkers like mixing bourbon with ginger ale.

Szlam and Johnson start with barrels of Kentucky bourbon and infuse it with ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon. Then, they redistill the liquor to clarify it before bottling it for sale.

“It’s a good introduction to bourbon,” Szlam says. “Even someone who’s not a bourbon fan can have a shot and enjoy it … and not make ‘the face.'”

He’s right about that. Virgil Kaine is very much in the vein of bourbon and ginger ale, smooth and quite sweet, and it sips easily on the rocks without any mixer at all.

The product launched initially in the Charleston area and has already landed on the shelves of dozens of liquor stores and restaurant bars around the city. Ben Arnold Distributors are now taking Virgil Kaine statewide, and Szlam and Johnson are hitting the road to promote it in Columbia, Beaufort, and Hilton Head.

Virgil Kaine joins a relatively new category of flavored bourbons that have come on the market over the past few years. By design, they’re attracting new kinds of consumers — especially women and men under 40 — to a product that once appealed primarily to older white men. The major players have already established a foothold with products like Jim Beam’s cherry-flavored Red Stag, Wild Turkey’s Honey American liqueur, and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. And the segment is growing fast, with sales of flavored whiskeys more than doubling in 2011 over the previous year.

Szlam and Johnson think their ginger-flavored bourbon is unique enough to hold its own with the big boys. There’s more in the works, too. Szlam is tight-lipped about the next flavored bourbon to be released, but he says to expect it out before the end of the year.

Bourbon’s Next Shot

Is bourbon’s recent revival just a fad, or can the old-time liquor of the South keep this two-decade run going?

Julian Van Winkle III is optimistic. “It just seems to be getting more popular all the time,” he says. “We’re seeing no slow down in demand at all.”

More people in their 20s and 30s are ordering bourbon these days, some taking it on the rocks or with just a splash of water and others mixing it in an ever-expanding array of inventive cocktails.

Indeed, there’s a subtlety and authenticity to a liquor that gets its flavoring from years spent in charred oak rather than blasts of sugary goo. In many ways bourbon seems like the ideal spirit for our times.

Brooks Reitz, a native Kentuckian and the manager at FIG, sees bourbon as perfectly in line with his restaurant’s ingredients-centric philosophy. “These days, it’s all about the heritage breeds of pork, the small batches, and artisanal products … it’s all led back naturally to good, small-batch bourbon.”

That aesthetic is finding an appeal outside the South, too. Just as they are embracing stone-ground grits and pimento cheese, consumers are discovering the delights of bourbon. Exports have boomed over the past decade, with a 17 percent rise in 2011 alone. Distillers are banking on big growth in China and India, and they’ve been investing heavily in increasing production capacity, like the $50 million expansion that doubled the output of the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ky.

It seems that some exciting years lie ahead for America’s native spirit. “I don’t see it fading any time soon,” Dan Latimer of Husk says. “With the artistry that goes into bourbon, the history, the fact that the general public is getting more educated about it … it’s here to stay.”


Recipes for Virgil Kaine’s Bourbon & Ginger

If you’re the kind of purist who takes your bourbon over a single cube of ice, Virgil Kaine Bourbon & Ginger probably isn’t the tipple for you. But as far as I’m concerned, anything that can strike a blow against the flavored vodka martini plague is a step in the right direction.

I’ve been experimenting with Virgil Kaine in cocktail recipes, and its infused spice brings a nice twist to traditional whiskey drinks. It’s brilliant in a sour, and it seems to blend particularly well with a little squeeze of lime juice. Because it’s sweeter than your typical non-infused bourbon, ease off a little on the amount of sugar called for in traditional bourbon recipes when using them with Virgil Kaine.

Here are two recommended recipes, the first from the Virgil Kaine website (bourbonandginger.com) and the other of my own formulation.


The Bitter End

The Virgil Kaine guys have come up with a nice twist on a Manhattan that balances Virgil Kaine’s sweetness with bitter Campari.
2 oz. Virgil Kaine Bourbon & Ginger
1 oz. sweet vermouth
½ oz. Campari

Pour all liquors into a pint glass with ice and stir with a spoon for 30 seconds. Strain and pour in martini glass or rocks glass with one large piece of ice.


Virgil’s Julep

Virgil Kaine’s ginger bite and a splash of lime juice make for an interesting modified mint julep. Sweet, sharp, and minty, it’s a fine sipping drink.
2 oz Virgil Kaine Bourbon & Ginger
½ oz simple syrup
6 mint leaves, plus an extra sprig for garnish
¹⁄8 of a lime

Put the mint leaves and simple syrup in a mixing glass and press with a muddler or wooden spoon — not hard enough to break up the leaves but just enough to squeeze out the mint oil. Add the bourbon, squeeze in the lime juice, and stir to blend. Strain the mixture over crushed ice in a rocks glass or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, a silver julep cup. Stir vigorously with a spoon until the sides of the glass begin to frost, then garnish with a spring of mint and serve.