Thirst Quenching Cocktails

Friends of mine just got back from attending the Tecate 500 off road race in Mexico. They scoffed at all the attention Mexico has received, often unfairly over the last few months. Mexico is a place of many incongruities. Our newspapers shout about how dangerous it is, but here in Baja California, it’s the same as it ever was … A mixture of ex-pats from the United States and back to the future locals who live on surfing, fish tacos and fine locally produced wines. Beer is popular too, as refreshment against the relentless sun. Lime is good for food and beer to raise the flavors up to higher levels (plus it acts as a preservative) and rum, as we all know is safer to drink than the local water.

The grueling, off-road car and motorcycle race known as the Tecate 500 is one of those events that make you thirsty before you even get out of the air-conditioning in your hotel into the blistering heat of Baja, California.

A quenching pair of rum cocktails: Trouble in Paradise and The 500 Cocktail.

The 500 Cocktail

  • 1 Tecate Mexican Beer
  • 2 shots Denizen Rum
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 2 splashes simple syrup
  • Fresh mint
  1. Muddle mint with lime chunks and simple syrup to a nice paste in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add some ice and the rum.
  3. Shake, pour into a chilled glass and top with Tecate.

I grew up between New Jersey, Europe and the British Virgin Islands. My family owned a sailboat and they lolled away the winter months basking in the sun and reveling in the trade winds that wound their way up from the Brazilian coast to the Caribbean Sea.

This little cocktail, a twist on the classic punch, is reminiscent of those enjoyed in the British Virgin Islands. Great local rums sold there have a rich history of flavors. Many of these speak the stories of pirates, privateers and forced hard labor in the relentless, brutal heat. Clean water sources are rare, rum costs less than water on many of these islands, so you drink rum!

Trouble in Paradise

  • 3 shots Denizen White Rum
  • 1 ounce each freshly squeezed lime, orange, grapefruit and lemon juices (to ward off scurvy)
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar or cane sugar syrup from Martinique
  • Coconut water, frozen in ice cube trays (I use Goya)
  • Several shakes Bitter End Thai Bitters
  • Splash club soda (use instead of soda water, you’ll need the addition of salt in the heat)
  • Orange and lime zest to garnish
  1. Add several cubes of coconut water ice to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add rum, fruit juices and bitters. (The Bitter End line of cocktail bitters may well be the most assertive and flavor-driven bitters I’ve ever tasted.)
  3. Shake and finish with a splash or two of club soda.
  4. Serve in an old fashioned glass, with several cubes of coconut water ice, garnished with lime and orange zest.

Red Velvet Armchair Cocktail

This drink has made the rounds from New Orleans to Switzerland and return.

Red Velvet Lounge Chair Cocktail

by Warren Bobrow, Wild Table editor, food writer and cocktail whisperer
This is a little firecracker of a cocktail. This drink has all the excitement of a TikiBar concoction. They are so easy to drink, yet easier to fall into a lounge chair after drinking a few too many of them.

The Red Velvet Lounge Chair

  • 4 ounces freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1 ounce Absolut Vodka
  • 2 ounces Campari
  • Splash club soda
  • Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters
  • Chunk of lime
  1. Add ice and the spirits to a cocktail glass.
  2. Add blood orange juice.
  3. Shake, strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with fresh ice and lime chunk.
  4. Add exactly three shakes of Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters

Salubrious Syrup Cocktails

Jose Cuervo, as you may know, the Mexican tequila company that has been quietly producing tequila for nearly 250 years, sent me a sampling of their wares the other day. I’ve been drinking mostly rum lately. I know, why drink rum in the freeze of winter? But in a hot toddy, rum can be rather enticing. At any rate, the samples arrived and I was stunned how delicious these products taste.

The Reserve de la Familia is stunning. This is not like your “lick the salt, shoot the tequila, bite the lime, lose your mind” kind of drink. The final product is the result of long, careful aging in oak. The reserve is a contemplative drink, meant to be enjoyed slowly with reverence in a brandy snifter. Key word here is slowly.

Drinking the reserve reminds me of drinking the finest cognac. At more than $100 dollars per bottle, I wouldn’t want to suck it down without at least thinking about what I am drinking!

These following cocktails tell a story of time, attention and quality. Enjoy!

The Spaghetti Western Cocktail

  • 2 shots Jose Cuervo Tradicional Tequila (Reposado)
  • 1 scant splash Coffee de Oh Yeah syrup
  • Club soda
  • Bitter End Mexican Mole Bitters
  1. Add tequila and syrup to a mixing glass.
  2. Top with club soda and mix, add two drops of Bitter End Mexican Mole Bitters to finish.
  3. Serve straight, no ice, although you may chill the tequila slightly before straining into a shot glass to be drunk quickly.

Red Dust Cocktail

  1. Mix tequila and syrup in cocktail shaker.
  2. Add exactly 3 drops of bitters.
  3. Add a few cubes of ice and slurp.

Forest of Infamy Cocktail

  1. Pour tequila and syrup over ice.
  2. Stir and strain into a brandy snifter.

Dark and Bright Cocktail

  • 2 shots Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila
  • 1 scant drop Hibiscus Basil orange blossom syrup
  • 4 drops Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
  • 4 drops Bittercube Orange Bitters
  1. Add tequila and syrup to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add a drop or two of the syrup, then bitters.
  3. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass with 3 ice cubes.

Candy Says Cocktail (influenced by the Velvet Underground)

  • 2 shots Jose Cuervo Silver Tequila
  • Splash Jo Snow tangerine lavender honey syrup
  • 4 drops Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
  • Q-Tonic water
  1. Add tequila, syrup and bitters to a cocktail shaker with some ice.
  2. Shake, strain into a tall glass, top with tonic water.

Hollis Bulleit-cocktail chanteuse

August 10, 2011

The Five Questions to Bourbon/Rye Bonne Vivante- Hollis Bulleit


Hollis Bulleit: Photo: Warren Bobrow

I met Hollis at a table in the press room during the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.  She is hard to miss in her “Facinator” hats that seemed to change hourly.   You can see her a mile away with these hand made- crafty pieces of fabric and metals.  They fit her personality- or so I found out after bumping into her several times- always on the arm of some incredibly well- dressed and talented mixologist who escorted her through the fray.

Being the daughter of the owner of Bulleit Bourbon (one of my favorite brands) must have many rewarding moments.  She was free-pouring her dad’s Bourbon and Rye into glasses with their family name emblazoned on them.  I knew we would have much to talk about.  A few months earlier- one of the PR agencies sent me some samples of Bulleit Bourbon for subsequent article I wrote about flavor.

I was taken by their Rye Whiskey (from Bulleit)- and made a Mint Julep with it.  The flavors carried through the crushed ice, Kentucky Mint and my favorite go/to- Sugar in the Raw all served in a sterling silver Julep Cup.

The memory of this taste hung in my mind for weeks afterwards and I was driven to write about it.

There are many personalities in the spirits world.  I’ve met some incredible people along the way.  They are inclusive, not exclusive with their friendship.

During the Tales, I met many people I only knew through my meanderings within the world of Social Media.  It was a honor to meet many of y’all in person down in New Orleans!

I asked Hollis to answer the Five Questions because I knew she would have an interesting take on the process.  Her replies would be honest and a good representation of her own personal life which is revealed in her carefully penned answers.

Without further delay, may I present- Hollis Bulleit!

WRR 1. Where are you from? Do you cook? You’re out on the road so much, do you seek out local foods? What are you passionate about food wise?

I grew up in Lexington Kentucky, but I’ve got gypsy blood in me so since I turned 18 I’ve moved around quite a bit. I’ve spent time in Boston, East Village in New York, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, Aix-en-Provence France (with stints in London, Spain, and Italy), and now I’m on the west coast. So I’ve certainly earned my street cred to have the World Ambassador of Bulleit Bourbon title. The one thing that I learned from my Mama was to always cook with love. No fighting in the kitchen lest it get into the food. So when I cook, I only cook when I’m happy. When I’m on the road I seek out happy chefs and mixologists. My passion with food as with cocktails is to have new experiences and unique experiences that I cannot duplicate at home. As my Father says, “Our chemistry stops in front of the bar and the mixologist’s art starts behind it”. I included a photo of my father and I with David Nelson at Spur Gastropub of Seattle in 2009 who helped run a six course private dinner for us with food pairings based on the notes in the whiskey (cherry, smoke, etc). It was like cocktail theatre. Truly, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar- Photo: Warren Bobrow

WRR 2. If you could be anywhere in the world where would that be? What would you be doing while there? Eating? Drinking? What do you like to do when you’re on vacation somewhere?

I’d be in the right here, right now. You know, I’m old enough to know that the best experiences out there are ones that I do not plan. I love meeting new people and being in new places just as much as I love my old haunts and old friends. One of my favorite old haunts that always offers new experiences is the Tales of the Cocktail week in New Orleans where we met. The week- long event is a great place to talk about my whole family, including my bourbon and rye, in an atmosphere of passion about the spirits. I’ve attached a photo of me and Toby Maloney (of Alquemy Consulting… he serves a wicked “Vincent’s Ruin” with the Bulleit Rye) at the Diageo Cocktail Hour at TOTC 2011.

WRR 3. You’re the brand ambassador of a fantastic product. How do you like your Bourbon mixed?

In good company. I’ve attached Warren’s photo of me… in good company.

In Good Company- Photo: Warren Bobrow

WRR 4. Do you use Social Media? If so, what do you use?

I use my personal website, as a gateway to my Facebook Fanpage where I post recipes, toasts, and my personal artwork (performance installations, paintings, prints, jewelry, and hats). FB is a great way to multitask because I have fanpage for people I’ve briefly met or haven’t met, and I use my personal Facebook page as a Rolodex of colleagues. I have dozens of FB friend folders and I like having a photo that goes along with a name because I’m constantly meeting people in one city and then seeing them in another… it can get confusing. I like the FB places “check in” option, which is especially helpful when I’m on the road corralling my friends and such. I am only Facebook all of the time with my San Fran BFF’s Michael and John – this is us at the Bulleit Rye Launch in SF Spring 2011)


Hollis Bulleit and her friends

WRR 5. Is there anything that when you eat or drink- it brings a tear to your eye? Why? What reason?

The last time I cried over food was during a 10 fast and my next-door neighbor was baking chocolate cookies! Yet, every year when we have a Bulleit dinner at Antoine’s I get a little verklempt watching my father’s excitement over their baked Alaska made just for him. Whenever someone names a drink after me, it is always very special. These are particularly close to my heart; Lu Brow (at the Café Adelaide & The Swizzle Stick Bar of New Orleans) “The Mad Hatter” to me, Marvin Allen (the Bar Manager of the Hotel Monteleone made a drink called “The Happy Hollis”, and Josh Durr (co-founder of Hawthorn Beverage) created a “From Augustus to Hollis” cocktail.


Hollis and her dad in New Orleans

Thank you Hollis not only for your friendship, but for sitting down and sharing your thoughts with my readers of the Five Questions!  Cheers! wb

To support our mission and passion for good storytelling, please help support my work and make a tax-deductible donation by clicking here:  Wild River Donation.

Wild River Review/Wild Table editor, Warren Bobrow grew up on a Biodynamic farm in Morristown, NJ. A graduate of Emerson College in Boston- with a degree in Film, he spent his senior year of college as a research assistant in visual thinking. (Center for Advanced Visual Studies @ MIT)

To learn more about Warren, click here:  Wild River Review.

Please follow me on Twitter @WarrenBobrow1

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Featured writer: Warren Bobrow

Mark your calendar – Wednesday, Oct. 19 is the next Drink.Think reading event!

Once again, we’ve got a great line-up of writers slated to read from their work — and over the next few weeks, I’ll entice you with mini-biographies, starting this week with Warren Bobrow.

Now, if you’re out and about in the NY food and drink scene, surely you’ve run across this chap. Somehow, the man seems to be everywhere — He’s at spirits launch parties. He moderated a panel on food writing I attended at the IACP regional conference. He was front and center at a rum seminar I attended at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans (he’s a rum judge for the Ministry of Rum, so that makes perfect sense). And all the while, Warren manages to tweet up a storm like it’s an Olympic sporting event–go ahead, follow him @WarrenBobrow1I dare you.

Warren is a prolific writer off Twitter, too:  he’s the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Table on Wild River Review; he is a cocktail writer for William-Sonoma’s Blender Blog, Foodista and Serious Eats; and his research on Biodynamic and Organic Wine and Food will appear in the 2012 Oxford Encyclopedia of Food/Drink in America, Ed. 2.

Whew!  Come on out to Lolita Bar on Oct. 19 and hear what he has to say.