Wild Ginger Brewing Company – Hard Soda Indeed!

The Wild Ginger Brewing Company approached me through their PR wanting me to review their new line of alcoholic craft soda.  It’s not my usual topic, I try to stick to craft spirits, the craft soda business is much different.  It’s more akin to craft beer.  I don’t write about beer at all.  It’s just another language!

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Imagine my surprise and delight when four ‘hard’ sodas of various alcohol by volume from 4 – 5% arrived at my door.  I love craft soda, the kind without alcohol… it used to be one of my topics a while back.  Anyhow this lineup of colorfully cartooned cans were waiting to be tasted.  With the craft beer boom, top quality beers are being canned in colorful, artist attended vessels.  These are no exception with a funky sense about them.

The first one that I opened was the Wild Root Original.  Smacking of herbs and good old fashioned Root Beer goodness, this is as close to what I remember from my boyhood, when my father would put some of his Haig and Haig in my root beer to keep me quiet.  It was a good representation of the buzz anyhow.  I remember it all these years later in a sip.  And what a delicious sip it is.  The Wild Root is chock full of spice as well.  It’s brilliant with large ice and fine bourbon whiskey- like the Barrell Bourbon #010 version that should be out any day now.  It’s that good.

 

The Wild Sit Russ Original.. with a snarling dog on that brightly festooned label was my least likely to enjoy, yet one of the ones that tastes the most true to form.  The label reads alcoholic citrus soda, there’s that snarling dog and all I can think about is Mezan XO Rum.  Smacking of herbs, spices, an element of tonic from the citrus oils- this wild soda is screaming for funky, dunder laden rum that only can come from Jamaica.  No other place in the world makes rum like this and no other soda should taste quite the same.  I don’t always recommend mixers with this rum, but the Wild Sit Russ Original (who was Wild Sit Russ I wonder, oh, no matter) it’s good soda.  Great with Mezan Rum.

 

The Wild Docta’ Original Rock and Rye is way too sweet for me, but with that said I mixed some really amazing barrel aged Rum from Barrell Whiskey with a splash of this ‘rock and rye’ type soda.  It dried out the sweetness immediately.  It’s more of a millennials drink than I’d like to admit.  They’d love it to no end. With that Barrell Rum, it’s so far over the top that I’m heading for a Hemmingway Daiquiri right now.   I’m not a big sugar in drinks fan.. Mark my words on that.

 

The Wild Ginger Original Ginger Beer – Alcoholic, like the other three soda pops is a thing of rare beauty.  There is an underlying element of spice that swirls around my tongue.  It’s a bit sharp, but the bubble spins in an undulation that is gratifying and bold in every spin around my mouth.  There is alcohol in there, you cannot miss it.  This element warms as quickly as it pours down my throat.  I’m charmed immediately and my palate calls out for something to deepen the spice element of the slurp.  I chose a bottle of the Mezan Guyana Rum.  This rum, distilled at the Diamond Distillery is a thing of rare beauty.  The Ginger Beer mimics the funky elements of the Guyana Rum, the smoke and char from the barrels and the sweetness from long aging in hot climes.  To mix this rum would normally be a sacrilege, but I have good feelings about this alcoholic soda.  Try it.  Let me know.

 

In conclusion, all good stuff, probably too good for the marketplace.  The funky can art is creative.  It’s a Millennial product.  Flashy.  Bold.  The soda is pretty darned good; I’d like to say that they will be used as a mixer.  A fine mixer at that.  Best of luck to them!  Cheers!

 

The Wild Ginger Company is doing a fine job.

 

The Lotte New York Palace Hotel

The Lotte New York Palace Hotel offers an uncommon approach to the philosophy of hospitality.  From the moment that the din of Madison Avenue evaporates behind you, the experience of visiting this property is utterly breathtaking.  Each detail is carefully choreographed down to the minutia.  From the tasseled umbrellas shielding the courtyard tables from the sun, to the generously adorned landscaping- the immediate experience is memorable. Even the music-scape that dissolves into the background shields the visitor from the street.  The way the former carriage courtyard is set gives the immediate impression to welcome you to the most luxurious accommodations.

Step into the gently restored mid 19th century mansion through the carriage courtyard and experience the air of relaxation for yourself.  Time stands still and one can imagine the opulence and careful attention paid to the architecture of the mansion.  This is a grand building built from the finest materials of the day.  It’s obvious to even the most casual observer that the family who lived within these storied walls spared no expense building the home.

Now, over one hundred years later and a complete ground up renovation, this grand dame of Madison Avenue and fiftieth streets is glowing again.

http://www.lottenypalace.com/villard

The Villard Restaurant is handsomely located in the formal dining room of the mansion.  It’s an elegant setting.  From the gilded Latin writing that rings the soaring ceilings to the grand fireplace seemingly plucked from a European castle to the deeply polished, dark wood floor; elegance and seamless, Continental service is the rule of this roost.  But what does Continental mean?  It means elegant conversational service with a smile.  Continental means to me a studied demeanor, not pretentious in any way- but offering a hushed mood that is both calming and relaxing.  This fashion of service is sadly missing from most restaurants.  Villard raises the bar, literally.  How do they do it so well?

Brian, the friendly chap who came by the table made it crystal clear.  He believes in quality of the whole experience.  But not just the auspices of ingredients-because in a setting such as this, the ingredients are on stage because they are brilliant.  You have to offer something that most restaurants wish they could offer.  That is the genuine smile that each person exudes, even while performing their detail oriented, highly polished service.  It’s not easy…  I’ve tried to do this in a five star restaurant.  And not well!  This is a task to make everyone feel cared for, not just served.

Morning brings business people and their meetings, other tables are scattered about with locals and hotel guests who want an uncommonly delicious breakfast in a most exalted setting.

The waiter and service lead for the table- a round, modern seating, set to the side of the grand fireplace was both intimate and private.  The entire room spills forth from the corners and they may well be the best seats in the room with the best view of the swirl of guests and restaurant staff.

Our waiter, an affable and soft-spoken gentleman who made our stay most pleasant, described a decadent plate of shaved white truffles and stone-ground grits.  There is nothing more beguiling than white truffles and grits.  But that dish had to wait in favor of a once or twice per year dish.  What I desired was the classic New York City, brunch staple- the backbone of the term: Grand Hotel Breakfast.  The breakfast that speaks to me clearly of sophistication and relaxation is the classic Eggs Benedict.  My breakfast companion ordered an egg white omelet with avocado and tomato on the side.  A simple repast that made perfect sense in this high style room.

Coffee was ordered and served in perfectly polished pots-holding the steaming liquid from within.  The helpful waiter showed my guest how to open the top so not to spill the steaming contents asunder.  Nice touch!  Orange juice was quickly served,  freshly squeezed from the highest quality fruit.  Sweet and luscious, 4 or so ounces poured into the modern style glassware.   Water was ordered, sparkling- refreshing and crisp, poured into a larger glass of modern design.  Jams and Jellies in a tray was set at the top of the bare table, adorned only with woven table mats and crisp white napkins.  Ultra elegant!  Ultra chic!  It was like haute-chic Paris came to NYC and made herself at home at Villard.

The Eggs Benedict came served with a tangle of perfectly roasted new potatoes, each one redolent of their seasonings, tiny bites, bursting with their own potato goodness.  The eggs, each one cooked into a perfect round, set on top of equally precise rounds of Canadian Bacon and crispy, buttered English Muffins were unctuous and steaming hot. The Hollandaise, a celebration of butter and whisked, farm fresh egg yolk napped the stack of breakfast goodness without overpowering.  Simple and refined are the touchstones at Villard.  My companion’s egg whites, a fluffy mound of health and satisfaction were served with a sliced half of an avocado and several slices of tomato.  Colorful and bold, the touches of love from within the kitchen are obvious.  This is simple food, raised to the highest level.

The beverage menu described a Bloody Mary Bar.  Of course the champions of Bloody Mary history are mentioned here with some twists and turns along the way.  The Wild West Bloody Mary, assembled with Ketel One Vodka, Mezcal, Tomato Juice, Worcestshire, Horseradish, Black Pepper, Fresh Lemon Juice, Salsa, Bell Pepper, Jalepeno, and Peppered Bacon enticed as did the Spanish Daybreak, a compliment of Belvedere Vodka, Tomato Juice, Worcestershire, Horseradish, Black Pepper, Yellow Bell Pepper, Amontillado Sherry, Fresh Lemon Juice, Celery Salt and Tabasco was cheery and bold to my imagination.  But the “Classic” with Grey Goose Vodka, Tomato Juice, Worcestershire, Horseradish, Black Pepper, Fresh Lemon Juice, Celery and Olive.   I didn’t have to go any further.  It was served in a crystal glass, just the right amount of ice- assembled with a smile.  I could feel that friendly nature in every sip.  Such is the way at Villard.  Doing something with passion.  A task, possibly mundane to others is handled with a word that is sadly missing from many restaurant experiences.  That word is “hospitality.”

Villard does this darned well.  And as it turned out, in small talk that our waiter shared with us, he too is influenced by the cocktail arts and worked with the King of Cocktails himself, Dale DeGroff.  Class Act!  Small world, but at the top of this rarified air comes humility and that humility cannot be taught.  It is innate.  Villard shows this generosity with every bite.

Go and experience this lovely room for yourself and take a vacation to Paris without a plane ticket.  Dress up and have fun.  Drink a Bloody Mary or any of their mixology level cocktails while having breakfast.  It’s ok, no one will tell on you, even if it is 10:30 in the morning!img_3910 img_3912 img_3913 img_3914 img_3915 img_3916 img_3917

Zen and Tonic; Book Review

http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?ID=4294990157

Zen and Tonic: savory and fresh cocktails for the enlightened drinker

Zen and Tonic is a lovely confection of a book, seemingly happily penned by the talented author, Jules Aron. The book is printed beautifully, reminiscent of Art Nouveau in appearance. Crisp and healthy is her mixology mantra, as each recipe encourages gleeful imbibing! Vibrant photography frames this carefully produced book.

Review by Warren Bobrow(@warrenbobrow1[twitter])
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Forget Bitters: Marijuana Is The Cocktail Botanical Of The Future!!

The mellowing of marijuana laws in places like Colorado, Oregon and Washington State has brought new meaning to the idea of plant-based cooking in America. But the funky green stuff has other applications, too, beyond the classic pot brownies or the more contemporary “herb butter” for your steak. Like cocktails, for instance.

“It adds very green tasting notes and aromas, and I find that to be quite beguiling,” Warren Bobrow, author of the forthcoming book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics, says in a videotaped interview with organizers of the annual liquor industry bacchanal, Tales Of The Cocktail.

Bobrow discusses the ancient history of weed-infused drinks, some helpful strategies for modern-day infusions — don’t forget to decarb first! — and even offers a remedy for those who mistakenly overdo it with these powerful potions: “chug a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade, and chew three or four black peppercorns. ‘I don’t know how it works,’ Warren admits, ‘but I will tell you: it works.’”

Check out the full video below:

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Fortify Me: 4 Vermouths To Stir Or Sip!

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The aromatized wine ramped up with herbs, citrus peel and other botanicals is coming into its own as an essential aperitif and cocktail ingredient.

By Warren Bobrow, CSX Contributor

Vermouth is a most maligned cocktail ingredient. Most of the stuff that goes into a cocktail is sour from age because most people don’t know that vermouth has a pretty short shelf life. In other words, vermouth needs to be refrigerated to remain usable for preparing your fine cocktails. (If you have a bottle waiting on top of your fridge and it’s been there for a few months in the heat, or if you snagged one from your grandparent’s home lurking under their cobweb laden bar, THROW IT OUT NOW.)

The original use for Vermouth involved certain core-medicinal properties of the ingredients. European vermouth contains a goodly amount of its active ingredient- wormwood, which is the also found in the socially-much-maligned intoxicant absinthe. Wormwood has shown itself to be very effective for ridding the body of internal parasites like intestinal worms and for the treatment of most minor stomach maladies like your common tummy ache.

Vermouth, like many of our modern day aperitifs and their denser amaro cousins, was not originally stirred into a mixed drink to taste. In fact, they didn’t come into play in the cocktail bar until Jerry Thomas utilized them in his “medicinal” concoctions originally dispensed by apothecaries as powerful medicinals. Vermouth’s original use was a curative against head lice–that’s the healing power of wormwood for ye!

In our modern era, a person might take an antacid tablet when they have a belly ache from eating a spicy meal or spoiled food. In the 1800’s they might have a glass of vermouth or a glass of amaro for their curative and digestion. I much prefer a few glasses of Carpano Antica Vermouth instead of chemically produced stomach tablets. Here are a few vermouths to try:

Uncouth Vermouth Apple MintUncouth Vermouth Apple Mint
Where do I start with Uncouth Vermouth? Perhaps the first place would be with founder Bianca Miraglia herself. She is an alchemist and a poet with liquids as her muse. She gathers her herbs in their wild state and unleashes their potential mixed with wines that speak clearly of their potency and passion. Bianca is mystical in her flavors and her infused wines (vermouth) speak a language that is clearly brilliant and hardly the norm. There are different varieties with the seasons. They age beautifully as well with all the finesse of their maker. Class act!

Carpano Punt e Mes
Produced by the same fine house that produces Carpano Antica, Punt e Mes speaks a different tonality than its sibling. Punt e Mes is more modern in style, lighter- more refreshing perhaps. Sure you’ll find the notes of stone fruits cooked for long periods of time enrobed in sweet chocolate aromatics and further spiced by baking aromatics. They’re all in there. But what makes Punt e Mes so spectacular is the easy way it mixes in Craft Cocktails. I’m lucky to have a bottle in the fridge; it’s magnificent drizzled over a Rum and Mexican Cola as a very enticing float.

Atsby amberthorn 1Atsby Amberthorn
North Fork of Long Island Chardonnay wine is the framework behind this gorgeous effort that uses a plethora of herbs and spices to weave a liquid driven dialog towards pleasure in your creative mixed drinks. But even outside of the cocktail bar, Atsby Amberthorn is a perfectly wonderful way to ease yourself into the evening. A snifter of Atsby and a twist of lemon with a splash of seltzer says to me more than a typical night-cap. This is one that heals the gut while easing that pounding in your aching head.

Lillet Blanc
The inclusion of wine made with Bordeaux varietal Sémillon lends a full, fleshy structure to this French aperitif wine. It’s blended with quinine liqueur from the cinchona bark in Peru, and citrus liqueurs from Spanish, Moroccan and Haitian oranges. Light, delicate and floral, you can sip it chilled or over ice with a twist a lemon or grapefruit.

Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog cocktailwhisperer.com and the author of Apothecary Cocktails,Whiskey Cocktails, Bitters & Shrub Syrup Cocktails and Cannabis Cocktails. He can be reached via his website, cocktailwhisperer.com.

The Squire’s Shrub Cocktail has been featured on Liquor.com’s DrinkWire!!

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Squires Shrub Cocktail

Get ready to try my Cocktail Whisperer’s twisted take on the French 75, that classic combination of gin, champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup. This version is actually a hybrid of the French 75 and the traditional champagne cocktail, which calls for a bitters-moistened sugar cube, brandy, and a heady top of champagne. Fuse the two together, add a healthy whack of tart, fruity Squire’s Shrub, and you’ve got a cocktail that’ll make your knees tremble. In the same way that alchemists of old strove to turn base metals into gold, champagne can turn a plain old Tuesday into a full-on, hat-waving celebration. Be sure to keep a bottle on hand so you can whip these up the next time you find yourself hosting an impromptu shindig. Make a few batches of the Squire’s, if you dare—just keep that bottle of Fernet Branca on hand for the morning after.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 brown sugar cube
  • several dashes of lemon bitters
  • 1⁄2 ounce (15 ml) botanical gin
  • 2 ounces (60 ml) squire’s strawberry-rhubarb shrub (recipe follows)
  • 1 1⁄2 ounces (45 ml) champagne or dry sparkling wine
  • l long lemon zest twist

 INSTRUCTIONS

Add the sugar cube to a champagne flute, and moisten with the lemon bitters. Then add the gin and the Squire’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Shrub, and top with champagne. Garnish with a long lemon zest twist. Note: To prepare this flute, combine very finely chopped lemon zest and sugar, wet the rim of the glass with lemon, and dip the glass into yellow-colored sugar. Voila!

 

– See more at: http://drinkwire.liquor.com/post/the-squires-shrub-cocktail#gs.NOg0Xtg

Carne de Porco e Amêijoas : Estilo Português

Or, Pork and Clams: Portuguese Style!

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I have this thing about fresh seafood.  It must be the very freshest for me, as I demand only the very best that money can buy.  Whenever I think about fish, it isn’t the kind that has rested in a freezer case- packaged in colorfully printed shrink wrapped-cryovac portions- sometimes for years before serving.  Nor is it prepared in a boil in bag directly from the microwave like many chain-type restaurants serve, calling this fresh fish.  They certainly have audacity for even calling this product; fish.
Whenever I travel to places that are famous for their seafood, I get hungry and thirsty!  Usually at the same time.  I’ve been doing a lot of book and cocktail events up in New England, so my sense of urgency only gets more profound as the weather (and the water) gets colder.  Oysters and clams just taste more vibrant with ample salinity come the colder weather.
One of the places that I like to go to for the very best quality seafood that is somewhat close by if you live in the northern NJ or NYC/BK area, is named Seabra’s Marisqueira.
I’m a huge fan of this restaurant- with free parking available both next door and across the street. (Hint: bring five bucks with you to tip the attendant)
This attractive restaurant, looking more like the authentic seafood restaurant located in Portugal, was established in the late 1980’s.  It is family owned and operated.  They have been serving brimming plates of absolutely the very best fresh seafood available to the market every day since then.
They travel to the fresh seafood market in Hunt’s Point daily to ensure that the quality of their offerings say that this fish has never, ever been frozen.  You really can taste the difference in quality and texture.   I recommend this place very highly and gave them three stars when I wrote restaurant reviews for NJ Monthly Magazine.

Seabra’s Marisqueira


Wine also tastes better with seafood that screams of the cold and unforgiving ocean.  One wine in particular from the island of Australia, the Yalumba “The Y Series” Unwooded Chardonnay is perfectly geared to this kind of food.  Flavors that speak clearly of the frigid depths of the sea.  This wine is not a ‘butter-bomb’, nor is it all fruit-forward that most of all that you taste is cloying gobs of sweet glycerin and stewed fruits…  It speaks a language of citrus zest rubbed on sea-salt slicked slabs of wet slate.  It’s a most profoundly delicious wine at a very reasonable price.
At DrinkupNY a wine for under fifteen bucks is a very good deal indeed.  And you can rest assured that the Yalumba drinks like more rarified wines, some costing three times as much.
It does not have a lick of oak!  Stainless steel all the way!  Screams for seafood. What else do you need to know except open your checkbook and buy a case!  And because it is un-wooded, this wine will be as delicious today as it is a year from today. The Yalumba is both fresh and refreshing because it is not tainted by the curse that seems to plague many Australian wines, some costing much, much more.   And that is the curse of over oaking wines.
Fresh Seafood for this wine should include a dish made famous at Seabra’s named Pork and Clams.
What they do is impossibly simple, yet brilliant with wines that speak a certain crispness across the palate.
I’m pretty sure that you’re not going to find Australian wines at a Portuguese restaurant, so put yourself into the very capable hands in this restaurant.  And if you are preparing this dish at home, by all means chill down a bottle of the Yalumba Y Series wine and relax yourself for a while.  Cheers!

Pork and Clams- Portuguese Style…
Ingredients
First you must marinade the pork butt for at least overnight…this is my marinade which I deciphered from eating at Seabra’s so many times.

2 pounds’ Berkshire (richer flavored) pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 bulbs garlic, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay– go ahead, have a glass or two while you prepare this dish!
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, unstrained
1 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil (essential)
1 tablespoon Hot Spanish Paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 bay leaf

To Sautee the pork…
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons bacon fat or duck fat
2 cups chopped Spanish onions
4 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (NEVER used pre-peeled garlic cloves, it’s obscene and just lazy to use that awful stuff)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock (roast bones, add water, boil with aromatics and simmer)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup tomato concasse’  boiled, peeled and de-seeded
5 pounds clams, in the shell, well purged and scrubbed (chill in the fridge overnight with cornmeal just covered with salted water, they’ll purge all the sand very nicely, leaving a non-gritty clam for your tasty cooking!)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Place the pork butt cubes into a large non-reactive container with a lid. In a food processor, combine the all the marinade ingredients except for the Bay leaf. Blend until smooth and pour over the pork. Close the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Add the Bay Leaf separately to the marinade container and remove before cooking.

Place a large Le Creuset type Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and bacon or duck fat to the pan. Drain the pork from the marinade and set aside the marinade. Sear the pork pieces in the hot fat in batches, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn and do the same again so all sides are nice and crusty. Keep warm in a 200-degree oven while you finish all the pieces.
Add the onions to the hot fat in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 4-8 minutes. Add the crushed garlic to the pan and cook for 50 seconds. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Do not let the flour burn!

Add the chicken stock and the tomato paste- with the salt and reserved marinade to the pan and stir to combine. Stir constantly until simmering uniformly. Return the pork to the pan, simmer and then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to quite low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.  I cook mine at least 2 hours if not more. Add the tomato concasse’ and clams in their (well-scrubbed) shells to the pan, stir to combine and cover. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the clams open, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to low, and sprinkle with the Italian parsley and serve with your Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay in chilled glasses.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

http://blog.drinkupny.com/2016/02/pork-and-clams-portuguese-style.html?m=1

Spirited Miami’s 2016 Most Anticipated Cocktail Books!!

Aside

From the author who brought us Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today as well as Bitters and Shrub Syrup:  Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Warren Bobrow is no stranger to cocktail writing. He is known as the cocktail whisperer so when we this soon-to-be released title we knew we were in good hands.

With the U.S. slowly progressing to ending another prohibition, Bobrow intellectually and scientifically digs into cocktails infused with cannabis.  Whether this is the wave of the future or not, this has probably crossed your mind.  Bobrow leads us into a world that had no guide and puts it all on paper.  Expect this one to get a lot of attention!     Pre-order here.

Spirited Miami’s 2016 Most Anticipated Cocktail Books! (PART I)

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