This Might Work… 07.01.14 – Part 1: Cool Blue Reason

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A brief update….

The experimental cocktail series entitled “This Might Work” was a successful push along the borders of the Cocktail Front during the Summer of 2014 in New Orleans. Over the course of three months, I created close to forty (40!) original cocktails. Everything from Amari to Cachaca to Scotch was combined with sweet peas, roasted bell peppers, wheatgrass and all of that crazy shit I’d pull out of my “Box of Magic” or from the walk-in refrigerator or from perusing the aisles of Hong Kong Market and/or personal research on farmers’ market/regional items of interest. It was a fun and extremely challenging endeavor to research, compose and build four new cocktails for every Tuesday night’s debut on the big stage.

The term “This Might Work…” was a statement that I always tell my guests when I was asked to build a bespoke creation with the guest’s favorite spirit and style of cocktail. I would always push the drink towards the guest and start my description of the bespoke cocktail with those three words. I approached the ownership of my recent employment and they were keen on the idea. I drummed up a bit of press, set the menu to four items per week and we were off to the races!

This Might Work… 07.01.14

For the next installment of my experimental cocktail night, watermelons, Thai Basil, Cachaca, Blue Curacao and locally-produced Vodka were on the docket for Tuesday night’s shindig. I was very excited by watermelon season because who doesn’t love frakin’ watermelon during the summertime(?!?) and I pulled out one of my favorite herbs – Thai Basil – and decided to dress it up in NOLA-style with a huge bag of Fennel I had secured at Hong Kong Market a few weeks back. My goals for the next installment of TMW were to build a watermelon rum punch and a new Snowball for the remainder of Summer 2014.

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This Might Work – 06.24.14 – Taste The Bright Lights

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A quick recap…

The experimental cocktail series entitled “This Might Work” was a successful push along the borders of the Cocktail Front during the Summer of 2014 in New Orleans. Over the course of three months, I created close to forty (40!) original cocktails. Everything from Amari to Cachaca to Scotch was combined with sweet peas, roasted bell peppers, wheatgrass and all of that crazy shit I’d pull out of my “Box of Magic” or from the walk-in refrigerator or from perusing the aisles of Hong Kong Market and/or personal research on farmers’ market/regional items of interest. It was a fun and extremely challenging endeavor to research, compose and build four new cocktails for every Tuesday night’s debut on the big stage.

“Taste the Bright Lights” represents two things I love in the world – Gin and Vermouth. As you may know, I was on the edge of starting up my own vermouth company but things just didn’t pan out. I’ve been making vermouth since ’09 and have been perfecting the gentle art of bitter herbs, spices and fortification for the past five years. Before my tenure ended at my last gig, I had produced a lovely Muscadine Grape Vermouth that paired well with a solid Bols Genever Gin cocktail called “The Salton Sea”. A name I derived from one of Val Kilmer’s best films…one sick and strange ride…

“I am the Ocean”

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This Might Work – 06.16.14 – Cast Your Net Wide & Uncle Bobbo’s Medicine

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For the next installment of “This Might Work” 06.16.14… I had a handful of cool cocktails on the docket but with unexpected legal constrictions, I can only say that that the term “sonicated” could erupt in unnecessary actions of lawyers. Let’s us proceed to the cocktails…

I have two contributions for our kind readers….first up. One of my favorite cocktails…the Daiquiri.

Cast Your Net Wide

I am fascinated and grateful by how a Daiquiri has become a classic cocktail. And I am greatly disappointed how it has been so greatly bastardization since the 1980s and onwards. I won’t go into a deep diatribe about this touchy subject. I will only point to a single event in my life where the bastardization of the Daiquiri was defined by the public as a relic in the cocktail world.

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This Might Work… 06.10.14 – Gimme Three Steps

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The experimental cocktail series entitled “This Might Work” was a successful push along the borders of the Cocktail Front during the Summer of 2014 in New Orleans. Over the course of three months, I created close to forty (40!) original cocktails. Everything from Amari to Cachaca to Scotch was combined with sweet peas, roasted bell peppers, wheatgrass and all of that crazy shit I’d pull out of my “Box of Magic” or from the walk-in refrigerator or from perusing the aisles of Hong Kong Market and/or personal research on farmers’ market/regional items of interest. It was a fun and extremely challenging endeavor to research, compose and build four new cocktails for every Tuesday night’s debut on the big stage.

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Anatomy of a Cocktail Menu: Mallrat

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My goal for the coming Fall 2014 is to keep a short but concise running tab on all of the crazy shit I’m working on Root Squared. First up – my answer to Generation X’s favorite beverage from the hidden gem at the local food court in our favorite mall – Orange Julius.

The chain of orange juice stands started up in LA in the early 1920s. Read up on the whole history of the business. Interesting stuff. I loved Orange Julius as a scrawny Middle school and awkward teen in High School spending my days at Arden Fair and Downtown Plaza on J St. in Sacramento-CA, Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto-CA, Horton Plaza in San Diego-CA, Valley Plaza Mail in Bakersfield-CA AND the Visalia Mall located in the washed up failure of a town known as Visalia, CA. Goddamnnit – hell hath no fury like a Sam Goody employee stuck with a teen age kid asking to listen to ALL of the Slayer and Skinny Puppy albums on the lice-infested headphone booths with the world’s BIGGEST Orange Julius in his hand.

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Anatomy of a Cocktail Menu – Pretty Petty Thieves

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Summer has finally landed in NOLA and it is time for a proper Tequila Reposado cocktail.

If you haven’t noticed in your local market, bell peppers are everywhere. Red, yellow, purple, green – it’s a frakin rainbow of juicy goodness. Bell peppers are available year-round in the supermarkets but the farmer’s market are chock full of the brightly colored vegetable during its peak season of summer (June-July) through mid fall (Nov). I’ve always wanted to try out my hand at a bell pepper cocktail and when I stepped into the walk-in at Square Root this week, my eyes fell upon a whole crate of red bell peppers.

And the engine started humming in my head.

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Anatomy of a Cocktail Menu – Roll in the Hay

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My cocktail menu for Root Squared was a daunting task. The reputation of Chef Philip Lopez and his culinary achievements in New Orleans in less than two years brought a good amount of attention to the opening of his new place – Square Root. A new venture that had been delayed for months due to construction issues and other related challenges of opening a bar and restaurant in New Orleans

From my experiences in New York and San Francisco, I knew that the menu had to be a knock out of frakin’ park to match the intense and forward-thinking nature of Lopez’s culinary endeavors below Root Squared. I was a bit biased as well because openings I have been part of in New York had to be whiz bang awesome out of the gate because denizens of Metropolis only give a place one chance. I’ve seen grand plans fall down the abandoned wells of misfortune within weeks of opening the doors.

The structure of the menu was originally ten items with highlights of Armagnac, Mezcal, Blended Scotch, Rhum Agricole, Campari and the usual suspects of Gin, Vodka, Rum and Bourbon. Another added benefit was with the addition of house-made syrups, cordials and tea concentrates, I could afford to use premium spirits and keep all of my costs in promising numbers. I dug through my recipe box of cocktails and randomly pieced together the first broad strokes of the final menu now available at Root Squared. Over the course of ten entries, I will discuss the concept and construction of each cocktail on the current menu and how myself and my bar team tweaked, punched up and brought to life the cocktails we sling now on a nightly basis

First up…. “Roll in the Hay”

Oh Vodka. You snarky bitch.

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A Night of Top NOLA Chefs, Hennessy, Hibiscus + Earl Grey

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Tuesday night – April 8th – I joined the festivities behind the bar at the American Culinary Federation’s “2014 Best Chef of Louisiana”. The event is a fundraiser-focused smorgasbord of meats and mudbugs and all things yummy in NOLA. The previous Sunday night, I was asked by Star H – Glazer’s LA Mixologist – if I was interested in building drinks with Hennessy and Grand Marnier for the event. My answer was “Hell Yes”. But Max (in my best Ricky Henderson impression) – Hennessy? WTF?

I always believe that a good bartender / cocktail dude can make solid drinks out of basically anything in front of them. Second thing was my recent adventures with Hennessy at 2013 Portland Cocktail Week. During my recent visit to the PDXCW 2013, my “track” was Brand Consulting and Liquor Ambassador – a series of classes held during PDXCW focused on brand consulting, spirit education and the role of brand ambassadors in the service/liquor industry. Our dinner for the “track” was sponsored by Hennessy. And my first thought was Hennessy? Um – that’s an odd duck to have as a sponsor because I never considered Hennessy on the radar of craft-focused bartenders or why Hennessy would make the time (and money) to consider the brand for cocktail menus, etc.

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Ambitious Outsider & The “No Heat” Strawberry + Ginger Shrub

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Here in Louisiana – Strawberries are frakin’ everywhere. And they are so damn good in the South!

It is hard to pass up a pound of strawberries for $2.79 at the local Rouse’s. And I love making cocktails with Strawberries. The only main problem I have with strawberries is how to get all of that amazing flavor out of a succulent fruit. You can always puree and add a touch of sugar to the final product but I’ve always want to go beyond the act of pulverizing the fruit to get to its bountiful flavors.

Recently, I’ve started up processes of making my syrups and modifiers with either “no heat” or “steeping” methods. Plus, I’ve become enarmored with oleo saccharum process and the role of sugars in the chemical process of fruit and vegetable extraction in the past year. During Summer 2013, I was without access to a hotplate or kitchen burner so I started making things sans heat. A few years back, I read up about shrubs and their historical canon with cocktails and I built a good amount of “starter” recipes. In preparing for my long-overdue cocktail book, I’ve gone back to my original recipes and started to tweak them to fall more in line with “home bar” application methods. So don’t call me George Lucas of cocktails.

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My Own Private Cocktail: Part 1 – Shelter Island Recap

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It was a tough bartending run on Shelter Island this past summer.

Per my previous blogs regarding “My Own Private Cocktail”, the rose fell off the bloom about two weeks into my tenure at La Maison Blanche. From my discussions with seasoned service industry veterans of past Shelter Island summers, the 2013 season never seemed to get its legs up and running. Weather is always a factor when working on an island and rain storms poured down at least two Saturdays for both July and August. The original plan of working double shifts Thursday / Friday / Saturday hit a major snag because the lunch shifts were a significant bust during July and were so so hit and miss during the first weeks of August. At times, I was left tending an empty bar while watching Mets games and movies on the television. I followed the rules of “ABC” – Always Be Cleaning – during my time behind the stick during each shift but when every bottle has been polished and inventory is restocked, options becoming limited and time becomes a soul crusher.

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