Archive for the ‘Wine’ 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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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!!!

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.