Ice Capades

Posted on | July 31, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Bartenders rethink frozen drinks for the modern cocktail age.

PomCreme, created by Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru

Ask a bartender what he or she thinks about blender drinks and you’ll likely get an earful about all that is wrong with these tooth-tingling vacation-destination concoctions: too sweet, too watery, too processed. But we all secretly love a good frozen drink for nostalgic qualities, from childhood milkshakes to spring break shenanigans.

So it was only a matter of time before carefully curated cocktails emphasizing fresh ingredients edged over to frozen drink territory. With a twist, of course. Welcome to the era of spiked slushies, saucy snow cones and amped-up blender drinks.

“Blended drinks, in any incarnation, are just fun,” explains Tad Carducci, owner of The Tippler in New York City, which has a year-’round “Lushie” selection on the menu. “They allow us a bit of a mental or emotional escape to an exotic locale. Historically, they have not been made with the highest-quality ingredients, so for many years they were eschewed by craft cocktail bartenders. Over the last couple of years, these bartenders have realized that frozen drinks can be as viable a delivery method for artisanal spirits and ingredients as any, and can be a really fun ‘hook’ on their menus.”

In fact, just about any cocktail can work in a blender, points out Carducci. He says, “Have fun and experiment with recipes that have proven successful as ‘on the rocks’ or ‘up’ drinks at your bars.”

Righting the Wrongs

Kim Haasarud of Liquid Architecture, and author of 101 Blended Drinks, says most bartenders associate the blender with just four drinks: the Margarita, Piña Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri and milkshake. “In my opinion, I think the blender is probably one of the most underrated tools at a mixologist’s fingertips,” says Haasarud. She recommends investing in a high-performance blender that can keep up with a busy night without breaking down. And with noise the number one complaint for most bartenders, there are commercial models that have been developed to address the problem, like The Quiet One by Vitamix.

If blenders aren’t an option because of your bar’s volume, or if you just don’t like them, go big like Max Toste at Boston’s Deep Ellum. He purchased a BUNN Ultra Gourmet Ice frozen drink machine and along with General Manager David Cagle set out to reinvent the frozen margarita. With no fresh recipe in existence for a commercial machine, creating the perfect recipe was a long process. “Most frozen margaritas are not strong. We wanted something flavor-intensive so we had to figure out how to freeze the alcohol, sugar and water and still make it taste good,” says Cagle.

The result is a base that uses a mix of fresh lime, lemon and orange juices, simple syrup, a housemade orange peel syrup (in place of orange liqueur), water and both reposado and añejo tequilas. (“Blanco gets lost and does not have the presence of flavor we wanted,” says Toste.) Every week, Deep Ellum changes an element of the mix, adding fruit purées, liqueurs or infusing the simple syrup. They’ve even used watermelon water and basil-infused simple syrup; and have made versions with prickly pear, cucumber, mint and strawberry rhubarb. For a bar known for its craft cocktails and beers, having a frozen machine might seem a little ironic. But as Toste explains, “We’re serious about what we do, but the end result should be fun.”

The Right Mix

Serious bartenders all agree the key to a good frozen drink is fresh ingredients. Not only does a blender purée items that would otherwise be a challenge to use in a shaken or stirred drink, it actually combines them differently. Says Carducci: “For the guest, it’s a completely different sensorial experience. The body and temperature of frozen drinks really change the way the ingredients are perceived.”

Because you’re adding ice, dilution is also an important factor to consider when translating a recipe for the blender. Haasarud advises: “If you just want to cool it and aerate it, a few cubes of ice are all it takes. However, if you want a drink that is very thick and slushy, you may need to add more sugar to help carry all the flavors through the extra ice. Always have extra sugar (or whatever sweetening agent you are using such as agave nectar, honey, etc.) on hand.”

Another popular way to have fun with frozen drinks is to use the blender (or an ice crusher) to make adult snow cones like Chiwawa, a Mexican restaurant in Memphis that offers customers a shot of any spirit over snow cone flavors like lemon or strawberry. Even celebrated Chef Marcus Samuelsson is having fun with snow cones at his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster with Tres Leches and Cherry Cola versions. Carducci is known for his Snowgroni, a Negroni-inspired drink that encapsulates the convergence of a classic with the commercial. “We were obviously being a little bit cheeky and stirring the pot a bit, while still paying homage to the drink and its origins,” he says.

Blender drinks—or anything frozen on a stick or crushed in cup with a splash of spirits—have an element of novelty that works in a variety of establishments. No longer relegated to poolside, these light-hearted libations liven up menus and add a fun twist to staid classics. When done right, using quality ingredients, frozen drinks have all the pluses of a craft cocktail with none of the pretense. And who can turn down a milkshake?

RECIPES

STRAWBERRY CHATA SHAKE
1 part RumChata
1 part ice cream
1 part fresh or frozen strawberries
½ part rum
1 part ice
Blend until smooth. Pour into milkshake glass.

PB&J FRAPPE
Created by Cooking Channel’s Nadia G, Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen
½ oz. Van Gogh PB&J Vodka
1 cup milk
½ cup vanilla ice cream
½ banana
1 heaping Tbsp. of smooth peanut butter
1 heaping Tbsp. of raspberry jam/or fresh strawberries
Blend. Serve in a tall glass with a banana slice or raspberry garnish.

TOO-FULL-FLOR-DESSERT
2 oz. Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum
1 scoop chocolate ice cream
½ oz. vanilla syrup
½ oz. Licor 43
4 mint leaves for garnish
Caramel foam*
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake for 20 seconds. Serve in chilled martini glass. Top with layer of caramel foam.

*For caramel foam:
2 oz. heavy cream
½ oz. liquid caramel syrup
Dash of cinnamon
Combine heavy cream with syrup and cinnamon in a dry shaker until emulsified.

SNOWGRONI
Created by Tad Carducci at The Tippler in NYC
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Campari
1½ oz. Carpano Antica (or other sweet vermouth)
2/3 cup ice cubes
Orange slice
Add all ingredients to a blender with 2/3 cup ice and blend. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass and garnish with orange slice.

LIVIN’ THE HIGH LIFE MARGARITA
By Kim Haasarud, Liquid Architecture
and the book 101 Blender Drinks
2 large grapefruit chunks, peeled to flesh (no pith)
½ lemon, peeled to flesh (not pith)
1 lime, peeled (if possible)
2 oz. silver tequila
¾ oz. Grand Marnier
½ oz. Aperol
3 Tbsp. sugar
4 oz. Miller High Life beer
Combine all the ingredients, except the beer, in a blender cup. Blend on High for 20 seconds without ice. Add the beer and 1 cup of ice. Blend on HIGH for 15 seconds, then take it down to about 10% or lower and blend for about 15 seconds. This will alow you to have a cool, liquidy product with a slight ice crunch.

CANTALOUPE CAMPARI POPS
Recipe by People’s Pops in Brooklyn
Cantaloupe, about 2 lbs., peeled and seeded
¾ cup (6 fl. oz.) simple syrup (1:1)
¼ cup (2 fl. oz.) Campari
Cut the cantaloupe into large chunks and purée in a food processor or blender. You should have about 2 and ¼ cups (18 fl. oz.) of purée. Transfer the puréed cantaloupe to a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pouring spout. Add the simple syrup until the cantaloupe tastes quite sweet. Now dribble in the Campari until you can detect its flavor. Campari is less alcoholic than most spirits, so this mixture can handle more of it, but it has such a strong presence that you want to be careful not to overdo it.
Pour the mixture into ice pop molds, leaving a little bit of room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. Unmold and transfer to plastic bags for storage or serve at once. Makes 10 pops.

POMCREME
Created by Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru
1½ oz. Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka
¾ oz. Grand Marnier
1 scoop French vanilla ice cream (or light ice cream or frozen yogurt)
¾ oz. heavy cream (can also use low-cal substitute of choice)
Blend in a blender and pour into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a candied orange peel and freshly grated nutmeg.

Bar Talk: A Corner Bar Gets Crafty

Posted on | July 31, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Steve Carpentieri, Dunville’s, Westport, Connecticut

Among the bright spots of Douglas Tirola’s documentary Hey Bartender is getting to know one of its protagonists, Steve Carpentieri, the longtime owner of inviting, low-key Westport, CT, restaurant and bar Dunville’s. After a fateful first trip to Tales of the Cocktail in 2011, “Carpi,” as he’s affectionately known, decided to add craft cocktails to the neighborhood institution—all the while ensuring his loyal customers continued to feel at ease.

THE BEVERAGE NETWORK: At first you were skeptical of Tales of the Cocktail, but it turned out to be transformative. What did you learn?

STEVE CARPENTIERI: I found out we were never going to be able to rebrand ourselves, because I didn’t want to stop being who we are; we are Dunville’s. We felt that the cocktail program was a great way of not reinventing ourselves, but putting a little polish on to hopefully attract new people who wouldn’t just want to go to the corner bar.

TBN: So how did you successfully implement a craft cocktail program among a rum-and-Coke clientele?

SC: We didn’t change anything. I love people who order a beer and a tequila shot. Most important is knowing our customers. At the Employees Only and PDTs of the world, all the drinks are amazing—and which in my neighborhood no one would order. We always served cocktails, but now that we are progressive—actually using fresh ingredients, making our own lime and lemon juices and simple syrup, infusing drinks with spices and growing herbs in our garden—people are taking notice.

TBN: What are some of the cocktails that have made a splash with customers?

SC: Most local bars don’t make fresh margaritas. They pour the tequila, add the sour mix and Rose’s lime juice and shake it up. That’s something we can very easily improve upon. I use Milagro Tequila infused with Solerno [blood orange liqueur], fresh lime juice and simple syrup. When I make it the old way and the new way side-by-side, customers taste the difference. We’re also making a cucumber and mint limeade with Hendrick’s Gin, fresh simple syrup and lime juice, muddling fresh mint and topping it off with club soda.

TBN: Was it a time-consuming adjustment from your normal rhythm?

SC: It does slow you down a bit while you’re learning. Now I’m back there on a Friday night and when someone orders a craft cocktail I have no problem. I didn’t want to scare my staff with five-ingredient drinks and a blowtorch, and I wanted to keep it basic for our clientele. I don’t think our bar will have more than six or seven cocktails on the menu. We’re a small place and a couple of classics—like a Sazerac and a Manhattan—along with some original drinks are perfect for us.

TBN: How did your experience in the film change your perception of the industry?

SC: I’ve been going to different screenings of the movie, and it’s been interesting to go around the country and see different cocktail cultures—where it’s thriving and where it’s in its embryonic stages. Cocktail lists are everywhere, even the chains. You walk into a LongHorn Steakhouse or TGIFridays and they actually have a menu. It’s only a matter of time before they hit Corner Bar USA. I was guilty four or five years ago of going to a place and looking at the drink menu and saying it’s great, and getting a beer. Now I try something. It’s an opportunity for the bartender to practice his craft.

TBN: What is one lesson you learned while embracing this new approach?

SC: Hospitality is key to our success. We have a fantastic staff. You’re as good as the people you have around you, and if they’re right they are going to attract the right people and loyalty. The bar is the unofficial town hall and the bartender could be the mayor. We’re lucky because Dunville’s is white collar and blue collar. We have no rules; we’re just ladies and gentlemen. Bartenders have the ability to change someone’s day and that’s not something to take lightly; that’s a responsibility.

Riesling ‘Truck’ Rolls Coast to Coast

Posted on | July 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Talk about a road trip… Wines of Germany’s retrofitted truck-trailer kicked off its “Riesling & Co. Road Trip” in Los Angeles on June 19th and made its way across the country through Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Austin and Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte and DC, reaching its final stop in New York on June 27th at Cedar Lake Warehouse. On the “truck,” Paul Grieco and Stuart Pigott (wine expert and author) conducted German Riesling tastings with sommeliers, buyers and media at each stop.

Somms Strut Their Stuff for Sud de France

Posted on | July 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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At the 5th annual Sud de France Sommelier Contest, organized with American Sommelier, 16 sommeliers tested their knowledge of Languedoc-Roussillon wines. Following several stages of tasting and testing, four finalists had to fill eight flutes with Blanquette de Limoux, with one continuous pour per glass, ending with an empty bottle. And the winner was…Victoria James of Aureole, the first female winner!

Wine Buzz: August 2013

Posted on | July 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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NICKI MINAJ IS IN THE MYX WITH NEW MOSCATO

Myx Fusions, propelled by a partnership with TV/pop susperstar Nicki Minaj, is pushing Moscato into a new dimension. Packaged in four-packs of cobalt blue 187ml bottles, Myx features the original (Australian Moscato), plus two versions infused with all-natural flavors—coconut and peach. With Minaj’s active support and fully integrated marketing planned, Myx is aiming to be the next big thing in the Moscato arena—as well as to attract casual beer drinkers. Myx Fusions are 5.5% ABV; SRP $9.99/four-pack. Currently available in New York, New Jersey, LA and Las Vegas, with more states being added soon.

myxfusions.com

 

 

OOH LA LA: PUTTIN ON THE SPRITZ

If you put stock in the notion that it takes three to make a trend, it’s time to pay attention to the category of light, bubbly California wines. DFV launched Sequin; Gallo developed Barefoot Refresh; now Constellation has debuted Ooh La La. The four-wine line—Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Rosé—sports low alcohol (9.0%) and a touch of spritz, packaged in a distinctive crown-capped bottle. SRP $11.99.

oohlalawines.com

 

 

EPPA SANGRIA AIMS TO GET ‘WHITE HOT’

On the heels of Eppa SuperFruit Sangria, made with organic grapes and superfruit juices, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits has launched a white version, made with mangosteen, peach, mango and blood orange juices. Both Eppa red and white retail for $12.99 and check in at 8.5% ABV. Deutsch is bullish on the premium sangria category: 73% of consumers surveyed reported drinking Eppa in addition to the other wines, not as a replacement; and Eppa enjoyed 60% higher conversion rates during consumer tasting events vs. similarly priced wines.

eppasangria.com | deutschfamily.com

 

 

WILDMAN, FOLONARI TEAM UP FOR 7TH ANNUAL TEAL APPEAL

The wine brand Folonari and importer Frederick Wildman and Sons are again joining forces during National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. For every bottle of Folonari wine sold during September, 50 cents will be donated to the nonprofit group Turn The Towns Teal. Ovarian cancer is often referred to as “the silent disease” as there is no early detection test and its symptoms are often vague and subtle—yet the survival rate is 90-95% when detected early, making an awareness campaign critical.

Turn The Towns Teal was the inspiration of Gail MacNeil of Chatham, NJ (1943-2008). When launched in September 2007, 40 towns throughout the State of New Jersey participated; now hundreds of towns in nine states are actively involved. Volunteers tie teal ribbons to trees, lamp posts and fences, as well as distribute educational literature. Teal-trimmed informational neckers on all bottles of Folonari will detail the symptoms women of every age need to know about detecting ovarian cancer.

turnthetownsteal.frederickwildman.com | turnthetownsteal.org

 

Kaiken Gets New Winemaker Aurelio Montes Del Campo

Posted on | July 29, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On June 26th, local wine and food media joined Aurelio Montes del Campo of Kaiken wines at Cannibal NYC for a tasting and Argentine-style asado under the stars. The event marked the official introduction of del Campo, son of renowned Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes, as Chief Winemaker at Kaiken. Featured wines included the iconic Mai; Ultra Malbec and Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon; and the “Terroir Series” Torrontes and Malbec/Bonarda/Petit Verdot blend.

Rioja ‘Tames the Flame’ on Lower East Side

Posted on | July 29, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Showcasing the versatility of Rioja wines with grilled foods, Vibrant Rioja staged “Rioja Tames the Flame” at The DL on the Lower East Side June 27th.

Knob Creek & Chef Michael Symon do Rooftop Pig Roast

Posted on | July 29, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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This past June, members of the media were invited to Ramscale Studios for a feast with chef Michael Symon, Knob Creek Bourbon and meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda. Featuring a bourbon-based pig as the pièce de la résistance, the evening also included a menu and cocktails created by Symon as well as an intimate bourbon tasting with Beam Bourbon Ambassador Adam Harris.

SMWE Launches Anew Riesling to Southern Sales Force

Posted on | July 29, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On June 12th, Wendy Stuckey, winemaker for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ white wines, presented a launch event to introduce the Southern Wine & Spirits of New York sales force to SMWE’s new entries into the local market. Guests enjoyed learning about Anew Riesling and O Wines.

Wines from Crete Impress NYC

Posted on | July 29, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Women enologists were well represented at a June 5th tasting hosted by Wines of Crete in New York City. Twenty producers from Crete’s Heraklion Vintners Association presented their wines to the trade. While most were seeking importers, seven currently sell in the U.S. Crete is the largest wine region of Greece, with many indigenous grapes.

 
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