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

Heart of Darkness Swizzle

TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2014

The Heart of Darkness Swizzle

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererI remember vividly the first time that I tasted the unmistakable flavor of Thai food.  It just was electrifying.  The flavors were intensely spicy and they crackled over my tongue in a way that Americanized Chinese food was incapable of doing.

I was living out in California in Venice Beach and seemingly overnight a new wave of brightly flavored and textured cooking erupted on the scene.  The usually gloppy, overly sweetened and excessively oily pan-Asian style foods were suddenly replaced by crisp, aromatic and intensely spicy flavors that I’d never experienced prior.  This occurred around 1980 so the phrase “California Cuisine” had not been invented yet.  But Thai food had just arrived on the West Coast and it blew open my palate like nothing ever had prior.

What I enjoy most about Thai food is the depth of the spice, the clarity of the heat and the intense simplicity of the spices and herbs used in the cooking.

One strikingly potent ingredient is called the Kaffir Lime leaf.  This leaf, used in Thai and Laotian curry pastes gives foods an sour, astringent and bitter flavor that works perfectly against the sweeter elements of palm sugar and the heat of the spices.

I love Kaffir Lime leaf in my food and my drink.  Sometimes I cut a Kaffir Lime leaf in half and drop it into a glass of seltzer water.  It’s drinking a trip to Thailand without the expensive plane ticket.

This would stand to reason from my passion for spicy Thai food, that I would enjoy Kaffir Lime leaf in my vodka as well.   Not an insipidly sweet chemical plant, processed liqueur, but a richly flavored, lush and intensely elegant vodka that is remarkably restrained and aromatic.  Hanger 1 is producing something so unusual that I would say safely that I’ve tasted nothing so mesmeric in my life- other than Thai curry.  And I’ve just learned that the Kaffir Lime leaf when sprayed on a bug makes an excellent insecticide.  But I don’t recommend rooting out bugs infestations with such rare and lovely vodka.

What I recommend doing with it is mixing with it!

Recently I received a gorgeous bottle of vermouth from Italy by way of a friend in NYC.  Carpano Bianco is
the name of the vermouth.  If you love the traditionally red Carpano Antica Formula and couldn’t imagine using anything else in a Negroni, please indulge my sense of balance in a cocktail.  You should try the new Bianco (white) version.  Carpano Bianco is opulent across the tongue, velvety and packed full of aromatic herbs, secret spices and roots.  In a tip of the hat to the Negroni cocktail, I would suggest using the Bianco, instead of the deeply red colored Antica for a lighter, change of pace.  To describe the opulence of Carpano you must first throw out those bottle of vermouth that are over a few years old.  You haven’t been refrigerating them?  Shame! Do you store them in a cool cellar? No???

If you have been stashing your vermouth on top of the fridge or in a hot closet- throw your bottles out immediately!  Vermouth needs care- not too much care, but it should be treated like Port or Sherry.  (Both fortified wines)  Eventually vermouth will turn vinegary and will fail to please you- and that’s the rub because most people are still drinking the less expensive brands that start off sour or vinegary, like Martini and Rossi or Cinzano.  These are industrial brands with venerable, historic names- that’s about it.  So if vermouth has injected a bad taste in your cocktail- it is not necessarily the quality that is bringing your drink down, it’s because your vermouth has soured!

As with all great things in life, the quality of a product is not necessarily dictated by the price, but I do think an artisanal product such as Carpano is not going to come inexpensively.  That is a fact of life in a consumer driven society.  Where there is high demand and limited supply comes price and Carpano Bianco is not inexpensive.  But what you have of it is truly gorgeous and you need to buy a bottle from DrinkupNY and try it with the Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf vodka.

To make this cocktail really sing, I stumbled across a bottle of Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters.  To me, the addition of the unrestrainedly bitter oils of the grapefruit zest encapsulated in the bitters, added to this craft cocktail with both Carpano Bianco and Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf just says the heart of darkness.

Mysterious, beguiling and very sensual is just the beginning of this drink that I call, the Heart of Darkness Swizzle.

(You do have a Swizzle Stick, right?)

The Heart of Darkness Swizzle

Ingredients:
2 oz. Hanger 1 Kaffir Lime leaf Vodka
½ oz. Carpano Bianco Vermouth
2-3 shakes Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
1 oz. Seltzer Water
Fresh mint

Prep:
Add all ingredients except for your seltzer- to a tall Collins glass with crushed ice
Insert the Swizzle Stick and move it between your palms and with an up and down motion- like a Mixmaster Blender!

Add the seltzer and the bitters with a bit more ice and garnish with the mint…

YUM and simple!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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

The Vincent Price Affair (originally published on DrinkUPNY)

The Vincent Price Affair

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Rum, rum everywhere and there are many, many drops to drink. This describes my liquor cabinet to a T. After the recent heat wave and now a pending flood from above, it made sense to me to create a cocktail that speaks to the season between spring and summer.

The basic premise of rum punches – a drink that harkens back to the very basis of cocktailian history in a glass (or a punch bowl) – creates real thirst in my mind. Of course if you are reading this piece in the morning, you may want to know how I’m so full of spark and pepper at 10:00AM. The reason is simple. A well-made punch offers enlightenment and boggles the mind with simplicity. Each small sip, be it at breakfast or lunch or even in the heat of the afternoon grounds your punch with all others that came to the table prior.

So I’ve been working with punch, not as a mere metaphor for drunkenness, (because anyone who knows me realizes that I don’t like to get drunk) but I enjoy the visceral pleasure of making my drinks for others rather strong. It’s up to you my friends to drink fewer of them. I’ve long held the belief that you should drink stronger and better, but drink in moderation. I think that responsible drinking is that razors edge between losing one’s mind and having a good time.

As with all of my cocktails – they are specifically designed with flavor in mind. This drink is frothy and juicy. It has haunting elements that remind me of being down in the British Virgin Islands on my family yacht. Creating impossibly delicious concoctions using the best rum that money could buy. If you doubt this, take a trip down to Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke. You can easily get lost in the rows upon rows of rum. Or if you are part of the social set, find yourself in St. Barth and discover Rhum Agricole again for the first time. My favorite memory was on the island of Saba, long known to make very special spiced rums. Or was it the bottle of J. Bally offered to me poured into a frozen coconut and the additional scraping of nutmeg? Ah the memories flow from my brain along with the dreams of being in the islands.

The Vincent Price Affair Cocktail is a recreation of a sailing trip from Anegada to Virgin Gorda. You can spend hours of your day in paradise sailing across the water just like the pirates did centuries prior. All you need is the right cocktail clasped in your hand to cool your sweaty brow. This one starts off on your lips in a very perplexing manner. After a moment you realize that the cocktail is most delicious and beguiling. Immediately to follow, you come to the realization that this drink is just gorgeous as it slips down your throat, the Mavea “Inspired Water” ice that has been infused with The Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole Bitters adding depth, with a healthy portion of Plantation Grand Reserve Barbados Rum. Then you add to this mixture a mere splash of Luxardo Marachino Liqueur enlivening the mix. Into your mixing glass you would now add a small dose of freshly squeezed (essential) lime, lemon and orange juices, along with sweet coconut milk. The drink is shaken briskly with regular bar ice (save the infused ice for the cocktail) and then finished with a couple splashes of the marvelously elegant (and very French) Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in Pink Grapefruit essence for a smack-across-your-lips punch of citrusy goodness. A scraping of fresh nutmeg makes this drink historic in nature. Will this heal the pain of being in paradise, sailing an impossibly fast yacht across the broad, rolling sea?

I must warn you. This is a veritable mind eraser. Be very careful if you are drinking this in the hot sun or your backyard pool.

The Vincent Price Affair

Pre-exercise… Freeze about 10-15 shakes of the The Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole Bitters into a plastic tray filled with “Mavea- Inspired Water” (freezes nearly crystal clear). Freeze this overnight to ensure a firm cube. You can hand cut the cubes to your desired shapes.

Ingredients for 2 cocktails:

• 3 oz. Plantation Barbados Rum
• ½ oz. Luxardo Marachino Liqueur
• ¼ each, freshly squeezed orange, lime and lemon juices
• ½ Coconut Cream (sweetened)
• 1 oz. (in each drink) Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (Pink Grapefruit)
• Mavea “Inspired Water” The Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole Bitters-infused ice
• Freshly scraped nutmeg

Preparation:
1. Add all liquid ingredients EXCEPT for the Mavea ice and the Perrier to a Boston Shaker with regular bar ice to chill.
2. Shake for 15 seconds.
3. Add one hand cut Xocolatl Mole-infused ice cube to each Collins glass.
4. Pour the punch over the bitters-infused ice.
5. Add about an ounce of the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water over the top.
6. Scrape some fresh nutmeg to finish.

MIND ERASER!!!!!!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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