Klaus and I at Garmany of Red Bank, NJ!
Klaus and I at Garmany of Red Bank, NJ!
Do please join me!
May 1-8 Best Bloody Mary Contest takes place at participating Asheville bars and restaurants
Wednesday, May 4 Cocktail Theatre with Rob Floyd
Thursday, May 5 Spirit Dinner at Rhubarb with Warren Bobrow and John Fleer, Cinco de Mayo tasting and bar crawl with Hornitos tequila at The Imperial Life
Friday, May 6 Book signing with Warren Bobrow at Malaprop’s, Southeastern Distilling Expo at the S&W Building (service industry only; free of charge), Industry seminars at the S&W (service industry only; free of charge), Fourth annual ELIXIR bar competition at the S&W
Saturday, May 7 Hangover Brunch at The Imperial Life with Cathead Vodka, Cocktail tours with Eating Asheville, Kentucky Derby Party at the Smoky Park Supper Club’s Boat House, with Maker’s Mark, Old Fashioned Nightcap with Knob Creek on the rooftop of the Social Lounge
Sunday, May 8 Best Bloody Mary Contest results released online
All events require either tickets or an RSVP. For ticketing, schedule details and more information, visit ashevillewineandfood.com.
Join Klaus & I at Garmany for a special gathering as we
Light It Up Blue for Autism Speaks!!
New Jersey Chapter
Thursday, April 28th 6PM – 8PM
Garmany 121 Broad Street Red Bank, NJ
Wine & Cheese`Shopping~Music
$100 Suggested Donation at the Door
Plus 20% of sales benefits Autism Speaks
Some photos from today's Rum tasting and book signing at the Wellington Square Bookshop!
We’ve come a long way since the days of Reefer Madness. With the gradual easing of marijuana prohibition laws throughout the United States over the last decade or two, we’ve witnessed a steadily-increasing (albeit divisive) acceptance of the world’s second-favorite recreational drug in mainstream culture. Though we’re probably still another several years away from full legalization, that hasn’t stopped enterprising bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts from beginning to experiment with cannabis tinctures in their artisanal drinks.
Strange as that may seem, it’s actually a pretty natural step in the evolution of craft booze—or, perhaps more accurately, a step back into the old days when bitters, shrubs, and aromatic spirits took up a good chunk of the local apothecary shop.
Long before the drug was first outlawed in the US, cannabis tinctures were relatively common treatments for a whole host of ailments, from nausea to muscle spasms and chronic pain. Much like aromatic bitters, which started their lives as health tonics, it was probably only a matter of time before cannabis-infused ingredients made their way into the cocktail world as well.
Of course, no conversation about cannabis cocktails can begin without a requisite nod to the elephant in the room: in most parts of the country, consuming these drinks recreationally is still illegal. Outside of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, the prospect of ordering a cocktail infused with cannabis bitters at your local bar is still a distant one (and even in states with full legalization, there are generally still laws prohibiting public consumption of the stuff).
That said, if the pendulum continues its current swing away from prohibition—all those new tax dollars do have a certain appeal—it’s likely that this conversation will only become more relevant in the coming years.
Legal issues aside, cannabis tinctures are actually pretty interesting from a scientific perspective. While there are numerous compounds in cannabis that have therapeutic properties, the most widely-known and famously psychoactive ones are the cannabinoids, chief among them being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Most of the THC in cannabis, though, spends its time tied up as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA. When the plant is heated (commonly by smoking), THCA undergoes a reaction known as decarboxylation, in which it ditches its carboxyl group—the part of its structure that makes it an acid—in the form of carbon dioxide. After heating, you’re left with regular ol’ THC.
When making a cannabis tincture or infusion, though, there’s no innate heating process to cause that decarboxylation (or “decarbing,” as it’s known in some circles), so it needs to be introduced beforehand. Generally, this is done by baking the cannabis in a low-temperature oven. Warren “Cocktail Whisperer” Bobrow suggests giving it a few quick runs through the microwave in a turkey bag instead, as it doesn’t stink up your kitchen quite so powerfully.
After that, the cannabis is macerated in a high-proof spirit, much like the first step in making homemade bitters. From there, it can either be used as a straightforward, infused base spirit, turned into bitters, added to syrups, or used to make any number of other ingredients.
If you’re looking for some recipes to try out yourself (which, once again, we can only recommend to people who are of age and live in states where it’s legal), keep an eye out for Warren Bobrow’s new book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics, which comes out on June 1st.
In general, though, aficionados tend to recommend staying away from spirit-forward drinks, like a cannabis-infused Old-Fashioned or Martini—the flavor of these infused spirits is fairly pungent, and it will easily overpower the other ingredients in your cocktail.
Highballs work well, like a Moscow Mule (Bobrow makes a Kentucky Mule with cannabis-infused bourbon), as do vegetal or citrusy recipes of any kind (the Pimm’s Cup and Ramos Gin Fizz have both received high marks). They dilute the infusion a bit and bind the flavors together better than subtler cocktails.
But what makes this such an interesting subject is the fact that there are so few documented recipes out there at the moment. It’s an entirely new area of experimentation, and there isn’t yet much of an accepted canon—mixologists have only recently started to entertain the idea of cannabis as an ingredient.
We’ll refrain from suggesting that you run out there and start experimenting yourself, as it’s a pretty limited number of our readers who can actually do that, but we definitely think you’ll want to keep an eye on this trend. Even if you don’t partake, it’s not often that we get to witness a brand-new category of craft cocktail being developed.
Klaus and I will be at the California Rum Festival, showcasing Mezan and Stroh Rums. Join us and other trade and run aficionados for an amazing time!
511 Harrison Street. San Francisco CA Saturday, September 12, 2015 2:30 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)
I was poking around in the liquor cabinet the other day finding some nearly forgotten gems like the American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial that was lurking in the periphery. I hadn’t worked with this fabulous, flavor packed product in some time and upon discovering the slender bottle hiding behind some Rhum Agricole– it brought an immediate smile to my face. I smiled because the tart, sumptuous flavors encapsulated in the bottle would be “just what the doctor ordered” for the combination of sweet to the savory in my glass.
Usually I serve the Sour Cherry Cordial over crushed ice with a mint simple syrup and seltzer but today I’ve discovered something altogether unexpected. Today is different because of the product named Aquavit.
What is Aquavit? Aside from the literal translation of Aqua Vit or water of life, Aquavit is distilled from either grain or potatoes and the predominant flavor is that of caraway seeds along with lemon peel, fennel cardamom, cumin, anise and other fruit oils depending on the region and style desired. Some Aquavit is aged in the barrel but most Aquavit is bottled after blending down to 40% ABV.
It is still a very potent slurp.
I chose Brennivin Icelandic Aquavit because it is from Iceland. Icelandic water is one of the purest sources of water on the planet. Martin Miller Gin is also made with this soft, lightly mineral water source.
I think that the spirits that use Icelandic water are absolutely smashing and you should taste them just as soon as you are able.
When you mix this grain and potato based Aquavit with Sour Cherry Cordial everything tastes better around you. Especially if you are eating foods like pickled herring or smoked salmon, Aquavit is just a natural with the sugar, salt and spicy flavors from the northern part of Europe.
You see, foods from the Scandinavian countries are just perfectly pared with Aquavit and strangely enough with American Sour Cherry Cordial.
This combination of flavors reminds me of a visit to Amsterdam about twenty years ago. I was just mesmerized by Belgian beer; especially the tart varieties of Cherry infused Lambic Ales. I’ve grown to crave the warm aromatics of aged cherries in my glass and on the plate. There is nothing more alluring than a roasted pork loin cooked with sour cherries or a medallion of Brook Trout enrobed in brown butter, hazelnuts and finished with Lambic-soaked cherry flavored Ale.
Mixing Sour Cherries and Aquavit is perhaps the most interesting recipe in my current toolkit of cocktail whisperer inspired recipes. Aquavit was certainly used as a curative in the early apothecary so it becomes an essential ingredient in the struggle to determine the fine line of good health over intoxication!
I say drink what you like and all will be well.
The American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial makes for a perfect “Day Drink” because you can decide exactly how mind numbing you want this cocktail to be. If you want to numb your entire body, use more Aquavit. If you want a perfectly lovely day drink, use more Sour Cherry Cordial and some more mint simple syrup. Whichever way you choose to make it, I offer the stronger of the two ways for your perusal and hopefully your whole-hearted approval.
Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable
You can make this strong like an Icelandic warrior.
This is the way that I think you should have it.
To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with bar ice, add the Aquavit, the Sour Cherry Cordial and the mint simple syrup
Shake hard for 15 seconds
Pour over the hand cut ice into a tall Collins glass
Add a splash of seltzer water and 2-3 drops of the lemon bitters
Garnish with a sour cherry pierced by a long straw
Mint Simple Syrup:
(Crush 1-cup spearmint and add to 1 cup Demerara Sugar and 1 cup spring water, bring to a simmer in a non reactive saucepan for at least 20 minutes and reduce to desired thickness, strain out the mint with a cheesecloth. Reduce some more for extra good luck in battle)
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.
Warren Bobrow, Mixology Guru extraordinaire, tells us that he is on a serious Gin kick. Apparently, it’s got him working in all sorts of ways. Yesterday he received a bottle of a new and unique spirit from his friends at Art in the Age located in Philadelphia. They are the inventors of USDA Certified Root-Snap-Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum and now Rhuby.
What is Rhuby? It is a unique USDA Certified Organic Liquor distributed by William Grant. It’s a combination of neutral spirits with Rhubarb, beets, carrots, lemons, petigrain, cardamom, and pure cane sugar. It’s 80 proof so it is no slouch when it comes to heat in the glass.
And this, good people, is Warren’s Friday cocktail using Hendrick’s Gin (available almost everywhere) and Rhuby.
Rhuby Friday Martini
First you will need to purchase a bottle of Rhuby. If you live in Pennsylvania this is easy, just go to the high end State Store. Outside of the northeast part of the country, you’ll need to point your Internet browser here. Trust me. This is a gorgeous product. Drinking it is like stepping through a Colonial vegetable garden, completely twisted.
We love Warren. Every truly stylish web site should have one!
My first experience with the romantic taste of Amaro came in Rome, when I was traveling in Italy with my parents. They would pull my sister and me out of school for a month or more at a time to see many of the European countries. My parents liked the best things that life had to offer — and rather than stick us on an impersonal tour bus, they would immerse us in local food, wine and museums.
I first noticed people enjoying Amaro in a street-side café. We were staying at the Hassler Hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps. Tourists find this staircase irresistible for photography and for pausing to enjoy a relaxing cocktail from the multitudes of street-side, stand-up table cocktail bars. There were several tall tables set up beside the steps, and young men in sharply cut suits were sipping tiny glasses of a caramel colored liquor with shots of espresso on the side.
I also remember that there was a tall, red tinged cocktail in almost everyone’s hands. I direct tweeted world famous “Cocktalian” Gaz Regan for his Negroni cocktail recipe and am including it here for good luck.
Negroni (recipe courtesy of Gaz Regan, via Twitter)
Little did I know at the time that what they were drinking would pave the way to my future desire to whisper about cocktails. I wanted to taste what these stylish people were drinking, because I was very sophisticated for a 12-year-old! At the end of my usual dinner bowl of Tortellini in Brodo, I remember sipping at my tiny glass hesitantly. It smelled faintly of citrus, and the texture of the liquor was soft on my inexperienced palate. The finish (as I remember) went on and on, seemingly for years.
Italian Vermouth in many ways is similar to Amaro, but a bit less bitter on the tongue. Some uniquely flavorful ones from Italy are Punt e Mes and the esoteric, salubrious Carpano Antica. The Carpano is a rum raisin-filled mouthful of sweet vanilla cake, laced with Asian spices and caramelized dark stone fruits. Punt e Mes is lighter and nuttier, with caramelized pecans and hand-ground grits in the finish.
I’m sure the alcohol is low — all these products (Amaro included) are low in alcohol, making them perfect in a cocktail. Amaro can be enjoyed as a digestif, it acts to settle the stomach after a large meal because of the herbal ingredients.
But what does Amaro taste like? The flavors vary from sweet to bittersweet to herbal, featuring orange blossoms, caramel and nuts. Some taste like artichoke, others like mint, and still others like a sweetened root tea. They may be enjoyed in a cup of hot tea as an elixir, or dropped into a small cup of espresso to “correct” the sweet, thick coffee.
You can drink Amaro straight or on the rocks, or even as an adjunct to other alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients. I love Ramazzotti Amaro, Averna, Branca Menta and its twin (without the mint), Fernet Branca. There are dozens that I’ve tasted around Europe and at home in New Jersey.
But why is Amaro so fundamental to the Italian style of living? Perhaps the explanation will be: with everything sweet, there must also be a bitter side?
I’m not sure, since I’ve read that Amaro is more than just a drink; it’s a way of life. Whatever the explanation is, the use of the bitter herbs, roots and spices are pleasing to drink and stimulate conversation. Because of the low alcohol level, the drink is uniquely designed to extend your meal into further conversation, not end it immediately with a cup of coffee.
A dash of bitter and a dash of the sweet make life go round and round.