Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Spring and Summertime Cocktail Article

June 20, 2009

Hi All!

I’ve been asked to write an article for an upcoming mag– (can’t tell which one yet!)–and I thought i’d preview it to all the loyal PurSippers out there! As always, thanks for emailing me your comments and thoughts!

Lots more news to come but for now check out the article! Keep sipping!!

SPRING YOUR WAY INTO SUMMER WITH SOME DELICIOUS SIPS!

Spring and summer are my favorite times of year and nothing is as exciting as a spring evening in the Capital. Packed patios usually neglected explode into veritable street parties as everyone sheds pounds so they can in turn shed clothing—and maybe even their decency! As if that’s not enough, spring offers the perfect opportunity to sip exotic-named, umbrella-laden, colorful and fresh-fruity cocktails. Whether it’s to cool your guests down at a BBQ, please at a poolside picnic, or spice up a night on the town, here are some essential tips to help you get the most out of the solstice months.

Joe McCanta’s Favourite Spring and Summertime Cocktails:

There are two routes to go when creating springtime cocktails. First is to stick with refreshing and innovative ingredients that create just the right mix of flavour and what I like to call the ‘cool down’ factor. But the most important factor for a well-made summer cocktail is ICE and lots of it. That being said, the cocktails that please the most are those which develop well while sitting in the hot sun being constantly diluted by melting ice. So many cocktails these days aren’t direct enough to actually open up with the addition of water/ice and my biggest rule of thumb with a summer drink has always been the first sip should be a tad tight or intense so that by the third or fourth you have a superbly balanced mouthful of cool. Also we use a variety of spices and especially berries that come to life during the summer months which include strawberries, mint and Here’s 3 great innovative pours we’ve been slinging all summer long to some great success.

Soho Negro—An interesting and intense blend of a little known Italian aperitif, Tequila and in-season British berries.
50 mls Ocho blanco tequila— if in the US go with the lovely 4 Copas! Which I was lucky enough to be sipping (or slugging) with the likes of the greats H. Joseph Ehrmann at his own SF Elixir as well as Dimitri Lezinska from Grey Goose
2 British Blackberries or Strawberries (black makes it a touch more bitter)
20 mls ounce Nardini Amaro (italian liqueur)
15 mls lemon juice
10 mls simple syrup
Top with Lambrusco

Muddle the berries with all other ingredients except the tequila and champagne. Add the tequila and shake. Double strain contents into a champagne flute or coupe and top with Lambrusco. Garnish with a half a strawberry or edible flower.

The Safia—Showcasing British strawberries beautifully against botanical gin and soft chamomile, this drink tastes like summer in a glass.
50 ml Juniper Green Organic Gin
4 quarters of Fresh Lime
20 ml Chamomile Syrup**
2 Fresh Strawberries
2 Fresh Basil Leaves
Splash of Soda
Dash of Angostura bitters

Muddle the strawberries, basil, syrup and lime. Add in the Angostura and gin and shake well. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with a basil flower and fresh sliced strawberry.

**Brew 1 Cup of Strong Chamomile Tea. Let cool and mis with 2 Cups of Agave. Store in a glass container refrigerated. Will last for several weeks.

Gooseberry Mojito—Gooseberries are a lovely seasonal treat that can add juiciness to any standard mojito.
50 ml White Raisin Infused Matraga Organic White Rum**
6-8 Gooseberries (remove the leaves)
4 Quarters of Fresh Lime
8-10 Fresh Mint Leaves
25 mls House Made Mint-Agave Syrup***
Soda Water

White Raising Rum
** Take about 150 grams of white raisins and infuse with 75 cls Rum for at least 2 nights. Can leave infusing for weeks.

*** Take 1 large bunch of mint and chop the tips of the stems off but leave the stalks attached. Wash the mint and then add it to100 ml Agave Syrup and Mix with 200ml water. Heat on medium for about 15 min or until the syrup turns a light olive color and smells fragrant. Transfer to a glass container and store refrigerated. Will last for 2-3 weeks.

In the metal half of a shaker, muddle the gooseberries, syrup, mint and lime. Add in the rum and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Empty contents over fresh ice and top with a splash of soda water

As if this bevy of spring and summertime organically-focused cocktails aren’t enough to whet your whistle, here is a list of pointers and ‘bar chef secrets’ that have worked for decades to keep your summer’s cool if not calm. Though not all tips are as ‘organic-focused’ as Saf, all are classic and follow age-honored and all-natural processes and ingredients.

No AC- No Problem!
If there’s one thing to be learned from the Gatsby-era flappers of the ‘20s it’s how to stay cool. These glamorous socialites embraced NYC’s stifling city summers with no AC while donning sweaty gowns or suits and still somehow always looked snappy and polished. Their trick?—a simple stocked home bar complete with fresh juices, herbs, flavorings and mixers to create a slew of some of the coolest concoctions that bathtub liquor could yield. In the summertime I like to keep my drinks simple—one shouldn’t have to think too hard in the heat:

A Classically Stocked Bar
Spirits: Organic Vodka (UK5), Organic Gin (Juniper Green), Bourbon/Rye Whiskey (I use the lovely small batched Sazerac , Organic Rum (Papagayo Fair Traide)
Mixers: Sweet Vermouth, Dry Vermouth, Angostura Bitters, Cointreau (or Triple Sec), Simple Syrup**
Herbs: Fresh Mint (optional fresh sage, fresh tarragon)
Fresh Fruits/Juices: Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime (optional peaches, watermelon, apricots)
** just mix 1 part water and one part sugar. Dissolve the sugar over low heat for about ten minutes and transfer to a glass container. Store refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

You’d be amazed at how many deliciously refreshing drinks you can make with these simple items and a couple essential tips. First, only use fresh ingredients always—nothing is worse than a Mojito made with 3-day-old lime juice and wilted mint. The easiest thing is to keep a counter-top level juicer handy and press the fruit as you’re whipping up the drink. If you’re expecting guests you can make a ½ liter of each juice and store well-chilled in an air tight container. Secondly (and maybe most importantly), use tons and tons of ice—drinks need to be frosty to be refreshing and perfectly balanced, and the colder the drink, the less diluted it becomes as you sip. Large ice cubes work best and you can always crack them with a bar spoon in a towel to get smaller chunks for drinks like Daiquiris and Mint Juleps. Finally, try throwing in some fresh fruit to spice up any recipe.
Here’s a few breezy classic cocktails along with some easy variations to give them a modern twist:

Classic Mojito
60 ml Utkins Fair Trade White Rum
4-6 lime wedges
8 mint leaves
30 ml Simple Syrup
Dash Angostura Bitters
Splash of Soda
In a shaker muddle the mint, syrup, and bitters with a muddler or wooden spoon. Add the rum and ice and shake vigorously for 20 sec. Strain into a separate glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of soda and some fresh mint tips.
**also try adding 3 cubes of fresh watermelon to the shaker for a deliciously sweeter take. For a spicier version add in some fresh sage with the mint.

Classic Mint Julep
cracked ice cubes
4 sprigs of mint
15 ml Simple Syrup
(for more flavor let mint sit refrigerated in regular simple syrup overnight)
60 ml Bourbon (such as Saf’s house pour Buffalo Trace—made at the same distillery as Organic Rain Vodka amongst other fine products)

In the bottom of a heavy glass muddle the mint and syrup together. Add the cracked ice and stir well for 10 seconds. Then add the bourbon and stir again until the outside of the glass is frosty. Garnish with fresh mint sprinkled with a little confectioners’ sugar.
**I love throwing a whole pitted fresh peach into the glass as you’re muddling to give the julep a soft, fruity taste.

Gin or Vodka Rickey
(The simplest cocktail around, classically rickey’s are made with gin but vodka makes this sip too-easy-to-gulp down)
25 ml fresh lime juice
50 ml UK5s Organic Vodka or Junpier Green Gin
10ml Simple Syrup
Soda Water
Mix the vodka, lime and syrup in a glass filled with ice. Top with soda and stir again. Garnish with a lime wedge or cucumber slice.
**Try adding 3 fresh (and topped) strawberries along with 4 leaves of tarragon to all the ingredients except the soda and shake. Strain into a glass filled with ice and top with soda (or even prosecco!).

Bronx and Bitters
50 ml Junipero Gin
10 ml Vya Sweet Vermouth
10 ml Vya Dry vermouth
25 ml fresh squeezed organic orange juice
Dash of Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Orange Peel
Shake all ingredients with plenty of ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with orange peel.
**For a great variation add 2 tablespoons whole cloves and 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger to your simple syrup as you heat it. Let the syrup sit for 10 minutes and then strain. Add 20 ml Ginger-Clove Simple Syrup to above recipe.

These drinks will get you by at home but some steamy nights it’s just too hot to work—and better to let someone else do the shaking for you—which we are happy to do at Saf.


Cheers!!!

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Stunning Stockholm!

June 5, 2009

Hi All! Just returned from Dear Ol’ Stockholm where I was part of a beautiful new book that Absolut has created focused on mixology. The book is centered around their new campaign ‘In an Absolut World…“. For this, the premise is ‘In an Absolut World, Everyone is a Mixologist”! What a great concept and you could imagine such a better world if TGIF could make a stunning Sazerac or you could get a Trilby Cocktail to go at McDonalds! From my side of things, I developed some drinks and a photo shoot for the lovely Coffee-table sized book complete with flip book “movies” of how to shake drinks, muddle, etc.

Which cocktails? Well I thought you’d never ask….

The thing is I came up with Round 1 which I thought were quite lovely and I was lucky enough to have that confirmed by the members of Jessica 6 (Hercules and Love Affiar’s new amazing side project) who were in town to play Cargo last weekend. The quotes from the band were all I needed to feel confident about the drinks however, as is often the case, I got a little too caught up in what a ‘simple cocktail’ means. After submitting the drinks the folks at V & S asked me to simplify even further and the end result was a great exercise in learning how to make even the simplest of combinations still taste fresh and declious–so thanks to Absolut for that!

I can’t post the final cocktail until the book is published but have a gander at Round 1 and as always let me know your thoughts!

Keep Sipping….

Joe

Absolut Cocktail Book Cocktails

The Maldives
Representing the spicy and aromatic tropical character of the world’s smallest country.
4 Parts Absolut
3 cardamom pods
3 parts agave simple syrup
2 parts fresh lime juice
4 slices cucumber
2 sprigs of rosemary
Dash of orange bitters

Muddle the cardamom, rosemary, syrup, and cucumber. Add in the Absolut and orange bitters and shake well. Double strain into an ice cold martini glass. Garnish with a firm floating basil leaf and 3 cardamom seeds.

+For a Spicier Version Try with 2 parts Absolut Peppar and 2 parts Absolut Mandarine

+For a slightly more aromatic version add in 4 fresh basil leaves

A Night in Tunisia
Subtly spicy with all the timeless classiness of an old film
4 Parts Absolut
2 Parts Sweet Vermouth
1 part Apricot Brandy
2 parts Fresh Orange Juice
dash of Absinthe

Shake all ingredients well and strain into an ice cold martini glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel and a slight sprinkling of cinnamon.

+For a slightly sweeter and more rounded version substitute Pernod for the Absinthe

+For a crisper, cleaner version substitute Absolut Ruby Red  and lime instead of orange juice

The Victorian
Light, aromatic and botanical with fresh garden flavours
4 parts Absolut
8 fresh raspberries
3 parts Pomegranate juice
2 parts Lavender Syrup
1 part Maraschino Liqueur
6 quarters lime
1 garden-fresh violet

Muddle all the ingredients. Shake very hard and empty the entire contents (without straining) into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a rolled violet or 2 lavender sprigs.

+For a deeper and juicier version substitute Absolut Kurant and blackberries for raspberries.

+For a drier version eliminate the Lavender syrup and use 2 parts maraschino.

Mediterranean Exile
Fiesty, fragile and fruity with a luscious aromatic quality

5 parts Absolut
2 fresh Strawberries
2 parts Chamomile Syrup
1 pinch of White Pepper
2 leaves of fresh Basil
1 dash of White Balsamic reduction
4 quarters of lime

Muddle all ingredients except for the White Balsamic Reduction. Shake Well and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Float the dash of White Balsamic directly in the center and garnish with fresh basil and a few peppercorns.

+For a lovely softer version substitute Absolut Vanilia

+For a less layered flavour, leave out the chamomile syrup and white pepper and use 2 parts simple syrup

Eastern Orchards
Soft and centered but with a hint of mysterious  intrigue
5 parts Absolut
2 fresh lychees
1 quarter fresh peach muddled
2 parts Jasmine Green Tea Syrup
1 part fresh lemon juice
splash of pomegranate grenadine

Muddle the peach, lychees, and jasmine syrup then add the lemon and vodka and shake. Strain into an ice cold martini glass and add the dash of grenadine to the center of the drink. Garnish with a slice of fresh peach and lychee or alternatively 3 Jasmine Tea Pearls.

+You can substitute Absolut Apeach and leave out the fresh peach for a cleaner version.

+ For a less floral version substitute simple syrup for Jasmine Tea Syrup

Le Mistral
The light wind that rolls through Europe, warming and agitating the hills at the same time
3 parts Absolut
1 part Pernod
2 parts fresh lemon juice
3 parts simple syrup
3 fresh Tarragon leaves
8 fresh blueberries
Dash of Angostura Bitters

Muddle the tarragon, simple syrup and blueberries with the Pernod. Add in the lemon, bitters and vodka and shake. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass and garnish with 3 blueberries speared through a Tarragon sprig and a lemon spiral.

+For a different take, substitute red currant for raspberries and basil and mint for tarragon

+Try with Absolut Pears for a divinely subtle version

Spice Bazaar
Seductively spicy and always willing to negotiate

5 parts Absolut
3 parts Passion fruit juice
8 mint leaves
2 parts agave simple syrup
1 whole star anise
3 whole cloves
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp of ground ginger

Muddle the spices and ginger with the mint, syrup and passion fruit.  Add the vodka and shake. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass  and garnish with mint and a whole star anise.

+For an intriguingly spicy version use 2 parts Peppar and 3 parts Mandarin.

+For a more tropical version use 2 parts Absolut Mango and 3 parts your favourite White Rum

Southern Hospitality
Harmoniously bringing together all the flavours and aromas of a trip down the Mississippi
5 Parts Absolut
6 1-inch cubes of fresh watermelon
2 fresh basil leaves
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
6 1/8ths of fresh lime
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar

Place all ingredients in a shaker and shake. Empty entire contents into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a vanilla pod or the rind of the watermelon finely sliced.

+For a drier version leave out the vanilla sugar and substitute 3 parts Absolut Raspberrie and 2 Parts Absolut Vanilia

+Try leaving out the Cayenne and experimenting with your favourite melons such as Honey Dew or Cantaloupe.

Baja Bocana
Taste the rolling hills surrounding the secluded rivers beaches reaching out to the Pacific
5 parts Absolut
3 parts Pineapple Juice
3 sage leaves
1 part peach liqueur
2 parts orange liqueur
splash of lime

Place all ingredients in a shaker and shake. Double strain into an ice cold martini glass. Garnish with fresh sage and a slice of pineapple.

+Try substituting cranberry juice for pineapple for a crisper more Autumnal version.

+ For an earthy margarita substitute 2 parts Absolut Mandarin and 3 parts your favourite Reposado tequila.

The Norseman
Pure, clean and wildly fresh with an intense and lasting depth
5 parts Absolut
1 part dry vermouth
½ part Maraschino liqueur
1 part cherry brandy
2 dashes orange blossom water
dash of Orange bitters
1 lime twist

Twist the lime into the bottom glass half of a shaker. Place all ingredients in the glass half of the shaker and stir slowly. Strain into an ice-cold martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

+For a slightly richer version add in 1 part of sweet vermouth.

+For a refreshing take, add in 2 parts lime juice and substitute 5 parts Absolut Pears—shake don’t stir.

Pur-spective

December 16, 2008

Hi Again All!

Writing to you from the beautifully wintery shores of the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Just a quick note to talk about something so so important in the world of the bartender: perspective. As my wise Dad always says ‘de gustebus non desputante est’ or ‘in matters of taste there can be no dispute’ (pardon the horrible latin spelling!). This is a philosophy the Romans stood by and I think more of us bartenders could remember as well. It means, that flat out, people taste differently. Much as how one feels different, looks different and thinks different–he also TASTES differently. And who are we as ‘guides to imbibing’ to tell a person how a Manhattan should be made, or the ‘correct recipe’ for a Singapore Sling. What it comes down to is taste and palate and if someone has the palate for a syrupy-sweet menthol laden Mojito then by golly I’m going to be the first mixologist to make it for them. Our job is to allow those who have no appreciation for the labour put in behind the bar to sit down, be treated like an honoured guest no matter what is ordered and leave with his/her life a little brighter because of our service. That’s my take on it anyways.
Why all this talk on perspective? Well let’s just say I spent some time tonight with an old friend still living in Turkey who opened my mind. To me, being able to come back to Istanbul has been the most amazing treat and I’ve realised how much I missed this gorgeously intoxicating cross-roads of art/culture and ever dichotomous city. To him, it is a bit set in it’s ways due to an envious attitude Turks have towards one another or even to those living abroad. I’m sure we both have some truth and some embellishment in our thoughts–but there lies the punch line: it’s about perspective.
Either way, when you’re lucky enough to find a moment of happiness in any place–when it’s a place that you feel lucky to visit again–then make the most of it and enjoy it wholeheartedly, I guess that’s my ‘Jerry Springer’s Final Thought’ from this sleep-deprived rant. More to come.

Cheers!
Joe

New….well, uh, news!

December 14, 2008

Hi everyone!

Thanks for all the comments and emails about the UKTV appearance on ‘Market Kitchen’ this Friday! To be honest, they meant a ton because I was where I belong whilst the show aired–behind the stick mixing drinks–so I never saw it! Here’s hoping one of my more techno-savvy colleagues TIVO-ed it and either way I believe the good folks at ‘Market Kitchen‘ will continue airing it, so maybe 25 years from now when I’m all settled down I can watch a re-run right after an ‘Obama: The Greatest President Who Ever Lived’ special starring one of Will Smith’s kids.

In the meantime I’m traveling a bit right now and just wanted to keep you up to date.

I’m heading to Istanbul this week for an amazing event:

Gap and Apple have teamed up to present fashion that matches each Ipod Nano Chromatic–and I’ve been fortunate enough to get the exciting chance to create a cocktail to match each Ipod as well! I’ve never worked solely on a colour-basis for cocktails so this is quite a fun challenge. I’ll be posting the cocktails I’ve created in the next few weeks, but in the meantime check out the website here to see the campaign.

One more quick news item was a wonderful feature from Danny Ronen and Jenn Faringdon of the Tasting Panel magazine that just was forwarded on to me. The Tasting Panel is by far the top industry magazine for all-things-bar and I’m humbled for a feature in their Trends:London issue. Best of all, half way through the interview Danny and I realised we attended the same high school! Nice one! Check it out here.

Following this, I’ll be in the US and San Francisco–one of my favorite bar towns–and up to the lovely (and confirmed spiritual vortex of) Mt. Shasta, California. No, not to find myself…but to mix up some drinks for a very special group of folks in the wild-er-ness of Northern Cal. Should be quite a time!

More to come but just wanted to check in on a chilly London day. Cheers and happy pre-holiday madness to all!!

Keeping your spirits clean…

December 4, 2008

Considering the insanely quick rate that the organic trend has spread its way into nearly every market (I mean, come on who really needs organic kitty litter!?!) it comes as no surprise that the liquor industry has jumped on board. But before you disregard the marketing of your favorite vodka as ‘now healthier for you because it’s organic!’ you should really look at exactly what an organic drink means and where the organic philosophy comes from.
The trend really started in the wine industry with many of the world’s finest vineyard owners realizing the negative effect that chemicals were having on their highly valuable land. Starting first with the ancient vineyards of France and Italy, word began spreading that maybe the ‘steroid-like’ pollutants that Agro-Chemical companies were pushing on farmers all over the world in the ‘80s and ‘90s were actually poisoning the land and making grapes that were weaker in flavor and lacking a certain subtlety or depth they once had.  At the same time as more and more vineyard owners who embraced natural methods began winning awards and vocalizing their success with bio-growing, the word ‘organic’ became associated with ‘fresher’, ‘more taste’, and just plain higher quality.
Distilleries all over the world started experimenting with using organic products as the base of their spirits not long after and had similar effects. For instance, many whiskey distilleries in Scotland started buying or growing their own grains organically and noticed not only a better flavor but that many of the plants and animals that had abandoned the environment surrounding their distilleries returned–same with vodka producers throughout Scandinavia, Gin producers in California and Tequila producers in Mexico. It soon became clear that not using chemicals was a win-win situation.
Though it is hard to find many of these organic spirits, there are a plethora of fresh organic fruits and vegetables to create at least an ‘as-organic-as-possible’ cocktail like I do. A good example is the Hafif Ruzgar for which I use organic basil to naturally infuse flavor into Utkins UK5 Vodka, fresh lemons, organic sugar, and Efe’s (newly released) Organic Raki. There is no doubt that the highest quality of ingredients and well-made spirits creates altogether a better-tasting drink. Although not necessarily ‘healthier’ for body, it certainly is much healthier for your soul!

Hafif Ruzgar
3 cl Basil Infused Vodka**
2 cl Organic Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
3 cl Organic Sugar Syrup***
6 Fresh Organic Basil Leaves
1.5 cl Efes Organic Raki
Sparkling Water

In a shaker muddle the basil, lemon juice, sugar, and raki. Add the Basil Vodka, ice and then shake hard for about 20 seconds. Strain into a glass filled with new ice and top with soda water and a fresh basil leaf.

** add about 15 grams (20 leaves) of organic basil into a bottle of vodka and let sit for 6-8 hours unrefrigerated. Strain and transfer into a glass container
***Combine 500grams of sugar with 1 Liter water in a med. sauce pan. Heat over medium heat for about 15 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved. Transfer into an airtight container and refrigerate. Will last for weeks.

A Sunday Roast

October 5, 2008

Sabbath. Rest. Recuperation.
It’s called many things in many cultures–but all the same concept: you can’t go on forever, and maybe, just maybe taking a break will make the rest of your week all the better. Apparently Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat or “to cease” and hence we get the words like “sabbatical” or even the Greek “hottub“. Our wise ancestors even made it part of the religious tradition to assure that people upheld the importance of rest, family, discussion, etc.

Today I’m enjoying my Sabbath at a local restaurant watching all the rain-soaked (yes, the London weather we all know and love has come back) Brits fill themselves with their Sunday Roast–a meat-roast-brunch-type meal that’s the traditional family gathering on a Sunday in the UK. As I sit in the corner of a buzzing establishment, shamefully eating my ‘Veggie Roast’ (an albeit thoughtful but unsuccessful attempt of the restaurant to cater to vegetarians by supplementing the beef roast for some type of soy-and-cardboard-based meat ‘nuggets’ helplessly drowning in HP Sauce like tennis balls in a waterfall) i watch as the smells and sights of a Sunday rest surround me.

But, sitting alone as I’m unexpectedly drawn into the conversations of Denny, who Margie yells at to get attention, on his cell about some football match– I can’t help but think that this concept of Sabbath or ‘stopping’ is slowly getting more and more lost.

I was lucky enough to grow up with parents that demanded the family to sit every night together–TVs and cell phones off–to discuss what was taking place in the world– or on the plate. It was here that I first really was drawn into food–learning about the ever richer list of authentic sauces, ingredients, processes and combinations that gastronomy had to offer. Moles, Rouxs, Pestos, etc. would be combined with various pasta shapes/names, fish, meats or veggies to create an ever-enticing array of dishes that either my Mom or Dad would prepare.

Finally, the discussion would wrap around the beverages that they-and sadly only they–were allowed to drink. I would sit like a sponge absorbing descriptors like ‘tannic’, ‘dry,’ ‘creamy’, ‘lees-y’ and ‘hot’ before I had any clue what sensations those words were actually in relationship to. In fact, it was probably for this reason that on finally sipping my first sip of red wine I commented not ‘interesting’ or ‘yuck’ but ‘wow..that’s a well structured though slightly tight expression of Pinot Noir, not unlike the earthy but fruit-forward wines of Marsannay. Can you tell me the vintage?’. And here my cousin thought he was being ‘cool’ by letting me have a taste.

Apart from learning how to be annoyingly pretentious with my wine descriptors, this demand of my parents (and many nights it had to be demanded) that we all rest, if only for a moment and discuss/share made me realize how important a meal really is–and how often it can be taken for granted. Food and wine are catalysts for conversation, but a certain amount of awareness has to be involved in order to realize that. That awareness best occurs in the moments we put aside for a little relaxation, rest, and time with those around us. So whilst poor Marg sits peering into her potatoes waiting for Denny’s overly loud conversation to finish, I can’t help wondering if discussing the finer points of a well done roast might not only make Denny a little more well received by his fellow diners, but ultimately might save a fledgling relationship.

Hell, I’m alone right now and I’m even having a conversation about my meal!

Cheers and Happy Sabbath.

A bar to call home

September 23, 2008

One of the most exciting parts about bartending across the globe is running into a bar you wish you worked at. That definitely happened tonight at the Hawksmoore in London. Following a boring trade convention (however one which I found an amazing Organic Cachaca and some divine Finnish Cloudberry liqueuer!) my associate and I headed to a much touted bar right around the corner from mine. Not only did I taste some fantastically made cocktails but–low and behold–I actually LOVED the bartender. A french chap who SWEARS he’s Polish–he did what every right-minded barkeep will do: asked what I wanted, asked my likes/dislikes, and made me a cocktail based off of that. Granted when asked to make a Ward Eight he stared at me like a deer in headlights–and he made his Martinez with Luxardo Maraschino (a personal vendetta I have on that product) but he was extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and above all had a je ne sais quoi quality that makes every bartender approachable if not a candidate for your new best friend. Oh–and did I forget to mention running into an old friend/barkeep from Green and Red and discussing the finer points of his Toredor–one of my favorite cocktails of the last 6 months molded with El Tesoro Reposado Tequila, Apricot Brandy and Lime Juice….divine!!!

Bronx Battered

September 22, 2008

Winston Churchill whilst debating with Lady Rudolph drunkenly one night was once called out.
“You sir, are drunk!” Ms. Rudolph commented.
“Yes my dear, and you are ugly…tomorrow I will be sober”

One of the hardest things about being a bartender (and in some respects especially a sommelier) is dealing with the varied tastes that customers may have. Indeed it’s the hardest but also the most exciting because it you get someone who understands their likes/dislikes the dance begins–you can chat on and on about the balance of a particular drink or the tannin (or lack there of) of a glass of wine. But every now and then (and not to give too much away but it just happened NOW at my bar Saf) you run into someone who won’t be happy. I actually understand completely the mindset and think it’s a natural response to how exacting us bartenders have become–we forget that sometimes it’s very off-putting for the average ‘joe’ as it were to discuss the finer points of the Bitter Truth Orange Bitters and Regan’s. That being said I always welcome the chance to turn a guest onto a classic recipe because (until tonight) I’ve found that 9 times out of 10 the recipes of yesteryear are so well balanced, and so delightfully simple while yielding a complex taste that it can cause a moment of revelation for said guest. Tonight’s guest however was on a mission. My bartender Aaron made one of the most superb cocktails I’ve tried in a while–a delicious and surprising mix of Pisco, Hayman’s Gin Liqueur, Freshly muddled grapes, Cointreau and a secret ingredient that was a divinely balanced cocktail! But with a look as sour as the secret ingredient, the patron declined saying she tasted a ‘compote’ in the glass.
Enter super-mixologist who thought he’d save the day by making a Bronx with the Beefeater Crown Jewel, Carpano Antica Formula, Dolin Dry and fresh OJ. Wrong. Even though she said she wanted something ‘stronger–no no no it’s all wrong.
The thing is it’s my fault–but I don’t know, every now and then you encounter tastes that just can’t be decyphered. Ultimately as a bartender we need to read the minds of our patrons and deliver them the best cocktail they never thought of…but every now and then someone just wants to cause a fuss.
Anywho…moral of the story is…well, I’m drinking the most delicious Bronx I’ve had in a while.
And she’s sober. Tomorrow I will be sipping a Bronx~!

Shrub it off!

September 19, 2008

My newest favourite cocktail was found last night after quite the stressful day–what a great thing about working in the restaurant biz…if all goes to hell you’re never that far away from a lovely glass of wine, a cocktail, or really sharp knives. Just kidding.
Seriously though, getting back to London has been a bit of a ‘hit the ground running’ type of experience which are the kind I normally thrive on-however it’s taking a bit longer than I expected (hence the lack of posts from my promise of one-a-day). The very first night I returned Saf Restaurant was hosting a party for Ethical Fashionistas soon to be in Paris but now celebrating London Fashion Week. It was fantastic and people gobbled up the organic food of Chad Sarno as well as my cocktails which included the Safia–a lovely mixture of strawberry, basil, Juniper Green Gin, chamomile and lime and the Spiced Apricot Martini which uses Apricot infused vodka, ginger, lemon and agave. The event was quite the success we wanted it to be as evidenced by the press.
Anyways, one of the more interesting meet was with Heather Mills who was a really lovely person, not at all what the tabloids have made her out to be. A truly passionate individual who is looking to make a change. Chad is in New York this weekend helping her feed 1000 Brooklyn kids better school food–! So if that’s not something to praise I don’t know what is.
We’ll be seeing her again along with a certain Ms. Moss who’s quite the fan of the food and drinks too!
So what’s the favourite cocktail….I gave a hint but stay tuned!

Back in the UK!

September 17, 2008

Hi Everyone and welcome finally to the website blog! Here I will update you with all things Pursip and where in the world I’m at as well as update you on new products, trends, restaurants and anything else that I come across in my infinite search for finding the purest tastes on the planet! I hope you enjoy and come back often!

At the moment I’m just getting caught up but had a lovely night with my Chef Chad Sarno chatting about the status of our London spot Saf Restaurant. It seems since I’ve been away the place has been booming with all sorts of great press and happy customers! Hopefully we can keep up the excitement as we enter the fall season–my favourite for interesting ingredients to play with. Check out Fine Living for some great ideas too or check back here soon for some of my ideas.