Advertisements
Advertisements

Healthy Cocktails (ctbites.com)

Alcohol is a poison. Well, that escalated quickly. But, let’s face it, it’s delicious, we like drinking it, and as long as we are responsible, in its consumption, there’s nothing wrong with a little fun. But, in this new era of gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, fair trade, free-range, everything, trends are making their way into the alcoholic beverage world, as well. And, as the makers of all things cocktail, we need to embrace the fresh and healthy, as well as the indulgent. 

I take the same approach to cocktail design that I take to cooking a meal.Always source, and use, the best ingredients you can. Remember, “garbage in, garbage out.” While pasteurized, from-concentrate, juices are easy to obtain, squeezing, or juicing fresh, is always preferable. But the effort doesn’t stop there. Freshly picked strawberries, grown locally, should be chosen over store-bought. Citrus can be easily found in the supermarket, but a local market, or small distributor, will always have fresher, more vibrant products. A good rule of thumb is to think small, and work your way larger. Using fruits and foods in season, will always lend a better product, than not. Seasonal cocktail menus (as well as food menus,) at restaurants and bars, change seasonally for this reason. A strawberry margarita looks out of place on January’s drink list, but lands right at home in July.

Being health-conscious doesn’t end with mixers, however. The alcohol, itself, must be of the highest quality, and this doesn’t inherently mean spending more money. Plenty of companies have hopped on the bandwagon of using sustainable grains or fruit in their distillate, and many others refrain from adding artificial colors or flavorings to their products. Natural or raw sugar, in liqueurs, is always preferable to corn syrup or refined sugars, Buying your booze local, from small, independent, distilleries, not only benefits the local economy, but these producers tend to use local ingredients, of high quality, themselves. I would caution against purchasing any product solely because it is made locally, if the quality of the product is not up to snuff. The highest bar should always be of quality first, and locale second. Keep in mind, many “locally-made” products are simply sourced from large corporate manufacturers, and bottled locally. Don’t be fooled, but remember that all things being equal, err on the side of local.

All of that being said, drink responsibly. Setting aside the fact that ethanol is, literally, empty calories, over-indulgence places unnecessary strain, and duress, on your body. It can also lead to emotional stress, as the ramifications complicate your life. Remember, that we live to enjoy, not to destroy, and that starts with your own personal choices, and ends with a better, more emotionally mature, society.

Here are two fresh fruit cocktails, designed to invigorate your mind, body, and soul. 

The Rathbone

  •  2oz Cucumber-Basil Juice
  •  2oz Uncle Val’s Gin
  •  .75oz Sencha Green Tea Syrup
  • .75oz Lime Juice
  • Shake with ice, and double strain into a coupe.

(To make the cucumber-basil juice, use an electric juicer, and juice one handful of fresh basil for every one, unpeeled, English cucumber. Mix the resulting juice with an equal part of filtered water)

(To make the syrup, simply brew an extra strong batch of Sencha green tea – steep for about 15 minutes – and add an equal part of white superfine sugar)

Watermelon Margarita

  • 1.5oz Blanco 100% Agave Tequila (Milagro works well)
  • 1.5oz Fresh Watermelon juice
  • .75oz Lime Juice
  • .5oz Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec
  • A dash of light agave syrup
  • Shake with ice, and dump all contents into a chilled, salted, glass.
  • Garnish with a slice of lime.
Advertisements

Happy Valentine’s Day

image3.JPG

It is widely acknowledged that the man known as Saint Valentine lived, was martyred, and was buried, in the North of Rome, sometime during the third century. Different Christian churches remember his life in different ways, and, sometimes, on different dates. But, like most holidays observed in the United States of America, history plays little, if any, role in how we celebrate the occasion. The account proves unimportant, the reality unnecessary. Our western culture has a way of rewriting history, taking what reality has given us, and exchanging it for commercial fodder. Rather than celebrate the life of a man, who clearly had an impact on the world, we’re convinced we need to prove our commitments to loved ones. How did that happen?

The hospitality business gives us a different perspective on holidays. It’s the duty of every restaurant employee, manager, and owner, to set their own lives aside, and work towards the enjoyment of others. Valentine’s Day is a holiday that floods restaurants with customers, not just on that day, but sometimes all weekend. It allows us the privilege of seeing many sides of many people, and those experiences have made me think differently about what the meaning of “love” is. Is love really boxes of chocolate, teddy bears, and roses? In a way, those things are nice reminders of our feelings for others, but the sentiment can’t stop there. I dislike, inherently, the idea that there is a day dedicated to proving to others that we care about them. Is it not a condemnation of our culture that we’ve monetized love? We’ve allowed the term to be warped into a feeling of nervous placation. Inevitably, within a relationship, one person’s expectations will fail to be met, and the other’s feelings will be invalidated. I see it dozens of times, every year, just during the meal that said couple is enjoying, in the restaurant. The interactions are telling. So how do some people figure this out? How have some couples avoided the pressure to spend money to prove their affections? The good relationships in our lives require constant communication, but if that communication stems from a fundamentally flawed foundation, then you’ll only be shouting at a wall.

Ask yourself this: how can I be a better everything? How can I be a better version of myself? Don’t I owe those, that love me, the gift of self-reflection, honesty, and personal growth? Isn’t it my responsibility to be fully invested in my emotional, physical, and spiritual, development? Have I taken the time to develop a strong moral character? Do I have the unflinching courage to stand for what I believe is right, as well as an open mind to allow for evolution of those beliefs? Don’t I owe it to myself, as well as my loved ones, to invest in my own human capital, to continue to adapt to a changing culture and economy? Have I accepted personal responsibility for all of my actions, good, as well as bad? Don’t I have an innate obligation to consider all of this, for the good of myself, and for the good of all of those I have, or will have a relationship with? Imagine if everyone started the day, every morning, by considering these questions. Imagine moving forward, through life, with these goals in mind. Imagine if everyone else posited the same things. We might find that there are 364 other days in the year to show love and affection to others.

This Valentine’s Day, as you inevitably end up at your favorite restaurant, surrounded by a sea of “tables for two,” remember that every one of the people, working to ensure your night is perfect, also has friends, family, and loved ones, who are waiting much longer, to appreciate their company. Remember that everyone around us deserves respect, and love, and always appreciate those who give of themselves, so that the rest of us can enjoy our lives.

Here is a cocktail to appreciate, and enjoy not only the company of others, but the romanticism, as well.

image2.JPG

Farewell, My Lovely

  • 1.5oz New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1.5oz Tanqueray
  • .75oz Pampelmousse
  • .5oz Lime Juice
  • 4 dashes Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters

Shake and double strain up, into a coupe

Garnish with a Grapefruit peel

January CTBITES.COM Article

Egg Nog (Jeffrey Morgenthaler version)

Behind The Bar is a new column from bartender Adam Patrick who has graced the bars of venues such as Walrus & Carpenter, Luxe, Match and Can Tiin. He will explore trends, recipes and the cocktail culture from both the front as well as behind the bar. 

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is, “I won’t tell the story the way it happened, I’ll tell it the way I remember it.” It’s from the late-nineties film adaptation of Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. Ethan Hawke delivers the line in the opening monologue.

There’s something about nostalgia that adds a touch of humanity to our lives. The real world, the world we exist in day to day, can be overwhelming and unforgiving. Take your job, your family obligations, traffic jams, mortgage, credit card bills, your dog destroying your new carpet, and view it all in aggregate, and things can steam roll out of control quickly. And yet, when we look at the past, we find it difficult to remember the mundane, the run-of-the-mill, even though those experiences dominate our lives. Sure, we can generally recall tragedy, or loss, but more than not it’s memories of our childhood, or a long lost love, or a favorite pet, that we gaze back at longingly. This type of nostalgia permeates our culture, and burrows into our soul. I find New England nostalgia to be the most memorable of all.

Hot Buttered, Apple Cider Spiced AbsintheThe richness of history, in New England, is as poignant as its traditions. Memories of driving through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, in mid-autumn, call to mind a rainbow of painted leaves, set to the backdrop of cerulean blue skies, and fleecy clouds. Summers at Block Island recall dreams of flip flops and lemonade, cold beer, and scantily-clad men and women throwing caution to the wind. Winter is especially significant, as the crisp chill of the Thanksgiving breeze is quelled by the warmth of a family gathering around the table for a hearty meal. The bustle of holiday shopping is eased by the opening of presents under the tree. The year’s first snowfall may intrude angrily on your morning commute, but children lay in bed, the night before, begging the morning to bring adventures of sled rides and snowmen. The hanging of ornaments, and lights on the tree, is eclipsed only by the richness of the eggnog shared afterward, in celebration. Perhaps, it is this time of year that is the most distinctly New England (and the most human) of all.

As sure as I am that this part of the country is as rooted in nostalgia as any place on the planet, I’m equally as confident that there is no other physical location more inherently “New England” than the town pub. What could be more romantic than fighting to open the heavy wooden door, grasping at its wrought-iron handle, through slippery mittens encrusted with snow, only to worm inside through the pitiless wind, and land shattered onto the handsome respite of the four-legged stool? The objective is as clear as the day is long: give me something to warm me up. While the answer to that plea is sometimes as simple as a welcoming smile, a drink shared amongst friends becomes the memory that will lay the seed for future comfort, the standard by which all other experiences will be measured.

The “cocktail culture” has its roots in colonial America. This country literally coined the term “Cocktail”…there was a proclivity for alcoholic beverages. Colonists brought the recipes for such modern-day esoteric concoctions as syllabubs, rattle-skulls, possets, and sangarees from the Old World. But, in the winter, there were only a few potions that did the trick. The most famous of these is theHot Toddy, and an equally popular recipe is Eggnog. Modern day bartenders have extended rifts on classic drinks that, while tuned to contemporary palates, pay homage to those that have come before.

The following recipes show reverence to these drinks, while slightly twisting them in a direction that does justice to the original intent, and are both inherently New England, and equally progressive. The eggnog recipe is Morgenthaler’s original, and is the standard that all others will be judged. The other two are standard-bearers of the first order. The hot toddy originated in Scotland, it’s essentially a hot old-fashioned, and is considered a folksy cure for flu-type symptoms. My interpretation adds tea, in place of water, for a flavorful kick. The final drink is a twist on hot-buttered rum, with absinthe in place of the rum, and fresh New England apple cider in place of the hot water. I absolve myself of responsibility for the elicit pleasure you receive from the imbibing of these beverages. But, above all, rejoice, reimagine, and remember. 

Egg Nog (Jeffrey Morgenthaler version)

In a home blender (commercial versions will cook the egg) combine the following, allowing 30 seconds of blending between the addition of each subsequent ingredient.

  •  2 large eggs
  •  3 oz (by volume) superfine or baker’s sugar (NOT powdered!)
  •  ½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
  •  2 oz brandy
  •  2 oz spiced rum (I use Sailor Jerry’s)
  •  6 oz whole milk
  •  4 oz heavy cream

Pour into a glass, grate additional nutmeg on top.

Hot Toddy

In a pre-heated mug combine 

  1. 2 oz. Jameson Black Label Irish Whiskey,
  2. ¾ oz. Honey Syrup (1:1 Water & Honey)
  3. ¾ oz. Lemon Juice 
  4. 4 dashes of Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
  5. Add 4 oz. of Earl Grey Tea

Stir and enjoy!

Hot Buttered, Apple Cider Spiced Absinthe

  1. Make a batter of equal parts by volume Butter, Brown Sugar, and White Sugar
  2. Add a spoonful of the batter to a pre-heated mug.
  3. Add 1.5 oz. Absinthe
  4. Top with Spiced Cider

(Spiced Cider: Heated in a crock pot with cinnamon sticks, allspice, nutmeg, and star anise)

%d bloggers like this: