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Ride with Team Negroni

May 6, 2017

CCF_Print_logo1A_HiRes58b4a979e6cd3This years, Santa Fe is included in Team Negroni’s bicycle rides to raise money for the Helen David Relief Fund, and I am one of the riders. The ride is the first of many around the country with team leader Tony Abou-Ganim, aka The Modern Mixologist, and happens to be during Negroni Week and The New Mexico Cocktails & Culture Festival

The Helevent_photo590223a193870en David Relief Fund raises money to help bartenders battling breast cancer.  It was started by Tony as a memorial to his aunt, Helen David who was a two time breast cancer survivor and later died in her 90’s.

My mother and my grandmother both were also survivors of breast cancer before their lives were taken by other causes.

The goal is for each rider to raise $250, but I am not stopping there and have set a goal of $1000, so I am asking for your help.  Every little bit counts, so if you can find a few bucks in your proverbial tip jar to help out a great fund, please click this link and follow the very simple instructions.
Thank you for your support

Happy Holidays

December 6, 2016

So, I’ve been away for awhile.  Why the reason for the break?  It was needed.

For a long time now, and like many others, I have been writing about balance in the bar world.  I felt amidst much personal loss over the past 2 years that, though I am doing many things to keep my life in balance, I needed to check out for a time and reexamine every aspect of my life personally, professionally, and online.

Part of that loss was 4 people in the Santa Fe food & beverage world that were lost to suicide along with the unexpected passsing of my mother..  I am not posting this necessarily to talk about that other than it being a piece to my own personal puzzle in trying to keep things in check for myself.

Suffice to say, I am still around, I am still going strong, and I am back to writing.\ along with my daily work behind the bar.

So this is the first and again regular posts coming soon, and I have to say I have missed writing this blog.

Happy Holidays fro Santa Fe and The Santa Fe Barman


New Mexico Bartender Wins Last Slinger Standing

February 17, 2016

In New Mexico’s first year to participate in the Arizona Cocktail Week Last Slinger Standing Competition. Andrew Roy of Radish & Rye won the grand prize and brought home the trophy to New Mexico.


Team New Mexico: David Hernandez, Chris Milligan, Andrew Roy, Natalie Bovis, Andrew Gilbert, Michael Sebree (not pictured)

The competition included 16 bartenders from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. Each round was a best 2 out of three single elimination strictly on the taste of a cocktail.  Seconds before each round 2 bartenders were given a previously undisclosed  base spirit and modifier and had 6 minutes to present 3 equivalent cocktails the the judges which included Andy Seymour, Bobby Gleason and Ian Burrel.

With many heavy hitting bartenders in the mix,  the competition was tough for all.

Andrew began his career in the bar business while attending St John’s College and was pulled from waiting tables and put behind the bar as a fill in bar back.  He enjoyed the shift so much that he asked to stay on.  Soon after Andrew trained as a bartender, and the rest is history

Cookoo About Cocoa

December 16, 2015

One of my favorite things this time of year is a nice hot cup of cocoa.  It started when I was a kid back in Georgia sitting around the fire (only heat in the house besides a couple gas furnaces) with my brother and cousins during the holidays.  My grandmother would make hot chocolate and toast for dipping as we gathered in the warmth of the roaring fire in the kitchen on the cold  Southern mornings.

Needless to say this wasn’t gourmet cocoa we were drinking, but the milk chocolate prepackaged stuff from some company. Those days are long gone, but I still love the memory and this is something I know share with my son each morning when he is with me.  And we have upgraded our cocoa to something a little better than Swiss Miss by making our own Hot Cocoa Mix. Being a bartender and lover of all things drink, this is also something that my son and I make for friends and family each year as gifts, because nothing in my opinion is better than a gift of drink, especially when it is homemade and from the hands and heart.

Before we get to the recipe and variations, let’s talk about cocoa powder: There are 2 basic types of cocoa powder: Natural and Dutch Processed (or simply “dutched”).  Natural cocoa powder is most commonly used for baking as it’s pH is below 7 (meaning it is acidic) and can react to baking with minimal leavening.  Dutch Cocoa is washed with a potassium carbonate solution neutralizing the acidic nature of the cocoa powder and raising the pH to 7 (or neutral acidity).  Dutch has a smoother less citric quality and flavor. There are also combinations of the two, which can be fun as well.  It;s primarily comes down to personal preference. There is also what’s called ‘black” or onyx cocoa which is a even more ‘dutched” cocoa raising the pH of the powder to 8 (alkaline) and is quite tasty as well (think Oreo cookie like)

So on the the basic powder

1 cup Cocoa powder of choice
2 cups organic cane sugar

Combine in a medium bowl or stand mixer using whisk attachment on low speed in fully combined.

Pretty simple right?

To make a cup of cocoa, simply heat 6-8 oz of milk in a sauce pan on medium heat (don’t boil it!) add 2 tablespoons of cocoa mix and a a few drops of vanilla extract. Pour into your favorite mug and sit by the fire (did I need to tell you to start the fire first?)

Now some variations:

Use Coconut or Almond Milk instead of regular milk

Add a few drops of peppermint oil/extract for a fun peppermint patty like flavor for the little kids
Peppermint Schnapps work great for the grown kids

Chocolate shavings hand whipped cream can make a great addition

Top with a little cinnamon (canela not cassia) for a Mexican style cocoa

and for the super adventurous.  Double the vanilla, spike with a shot of bourbon, add a touch of hand whipped cream, and sprinkle a few pecan pieces on top for a liquid version of a Bourbon Ball

Happy Holidays from The Santa Fe Barman

Spouting Off About Spouts

November 30, 2015

They go by many names: Speed Pourers, Chromes, Pour Spouts, Plastics.

They are made of many materials and rank in quality.

They range in efficiency and effectiveness.

But every bar uses them.

mpn-bottle-accessoryI have bought these for bars my entire career,  and though I feel they are important, I honestly knew very little about them. I have worked with just about every kind one can buy, and I have my opinions about each.

downloadThe most standard is metal either stainless steel or chrome, and tapered which are my favorites.  The wide mouths (called Goosenecks) are primarily for nightclubs where speed is priority.  The little plastic ones are not for bartenders but cheap managers, along with the ones with ball bearings inside that cut the pour “accurately’ so the manager thinks all is well and pour cost will be dead on every month. Still another (and very ingenious and accurate) is the Cap-On which fits underneath the cap of bottles so fruit flies can’t invade and die drunk (kind of an issue with bottles that come with corks unfortunately).

As I said I have bought and used spouts my entire career, but I knew little about them. Recently I picked up a couple dozen at the local restaurant supply place here in Santa Fe, and low and behold I got an education by the package these were sold in! 26 years of tending and I never knew this?? Well, everyday is a new opportunity:

There are some struggles that bartenders have with these little pieces. First one is getting them in and out of the bottle and here was Lesson No. 1: before putting the spout in the bottle, lube it up with a little H2O.  This makes it easier to get in and out of the bottle. Cool, huh? Also, having a V-Rod Bar Blade (that’s a bottle opener BTW) is handy as well.  This particular blade is deigned with a spout remover that helps pry the spouts out without breaking the bottle, and is still fun to twirl on your finger.

Over time spouts wear out as the fins bend up and don’t fit standard bottles anymore. Enter Lesson No. 2: to fix the fins, run the spout under hot water for 20-30 seconds then immediately under cold water for about the same time. POOF, they pop back into place! Brilliant!

So, once again this old dawg continues to find new things.



The Balanced Bartender

August 20, 2015

Hey everyone!

No, I have not disappeared. It’s been a busy summer here in Santa Fe, but I want to share soemthing really special and new.

A little while back I wrote a post called Zen and the Art of Bartender Maintenance talking about balancing life between personal and professional.  And I described one of the things I do to help balance my life.  There are many like me who do this like my friends Natalie Bovis and Patricia Richards who created Mind Body Spirit offering yoga sessions for bartenders and many cocktails festivals around the country

IMG_1151For me it’s whitewater rafting, and that is exactly where I have been the past few months: out on the Rio Grande River letting go and balancing my life.

20110303-novo-fogo-bottles-500I was blessed last June to have Novo Fogo Cachaca take interest in my way of aligning my world, and they added me to a wonderful series they produce called The Balanced Bartender.

Check out the video here.

Peace my friends, and hope you find your Zen as well.  Comment and share how you balance your life.

Tales of the Cocktail Announces Top 10 for the 9th Annual Spirited Awards

June 10, 2015
7af8e446-0b2c-4e64-8ad1-99e4937f560dNEW ORLEANS, LA – June 9, 2015 – Following a rigorous evaluation of more than 2,000 nominees, Tales of the Cocktail® is proud to announce the top ten for each of the 24 award categories for the 9th Annual Spirited Awards®. Since 2007, the Spirited Awards® have recognized the year’s best bars, bartenders, writers and experts, becoming the industry’s most prestigious and coveted awards program. A panel of 100 American and International industry experts reviewed all nominees and voted to determine this year’s top 10 nominees.

“Since the first Spirited Awards in 2007, I have witnessed the cocktail movement go from strength to strength and each year the work of the Spirited Awards judging panel has become tougher and this year was no exception,” said Simon Ford, Spirited Awards® Chairman and awards show host. “We had thousands of nominations, which our judges had the almost impossible task of voting on to determine our final tens and ultimately our winners. Enjoy this list of great people and bars and please celebrate with the people who are being recognized this year.”

On Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. (Pacific Time), Simon Ford and Jacob Briars, International Committee Chairman, will announce the final four in each category live from San Francisco presented by Perfect Puree. All finalists will be invited to the Spirited Awards® ceremony, being held at the Sheraton New Orleans on Saturday, July 18, 2015 as part of the 13th Annual Tales of the Cocktail®. Each award recipient will receive the coveted Riedel Crystal trophy.

“There’s probably no greater honor than being recognized by one’s peers,” said Paul G. Tuennerman, Co-Founder of Tales of the Cocktail®. “The individuals, establishments, products, and publications recognized as finalists for the 2015 Spirited Awards are representative of an industry’s collective efforts to make the world a better place to drink.”

The 9th Annual Spirited Awards® are sponsored by The 86 Co., Bacardi USA, BarSmarts, Beefeater, Chivas, Cognac Ferrand, Courvoisier, House of Angostura, Luxardo, Nicolas Feuillate, The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley, Rums of Puerto Rico, Silencio Mezcal and William Grant & Sons. For more information about the Spirited Awards® ceremony, visit

2015 Spirited Awards® Top 10 Finalists
American Categories
Best American Bar Team
ABV (San Francisco)
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Attaboy (New York)
Clover Club (Brooklyn)
Dead Rabbit (New York)
Drink (Boston)
Employees Only (New York)
Herbs and Rye (Las Vegas)
The NoMad Bar (New York)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

American Bartender of the Year
Jeff Bell (New York)
Tim Cooper (New York)
Marcovaldo Dionysos (San Francisco)
Chris Hannah (New Orleans)
Bobby Heugel (Houston)
John Lermayer (Miami)
Ivy Mix (New York)
Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Portland)
Leo Robitschek (New York)
Pamela Wiznitzer (New York)

Best American Brand Ambassador
Brooke Arthur (House Spirits)
Colin Asare-Appiah (Bacardi)
Elayne Duff (Diageo)
Jamie Gordon (Absolut Elyx)
Guillaume Lamy (Cognac Ferrand)
Bernie Lubbers (Heaven Hill)
Anne Louise Marquis (Marnier Lapostolle)
Johnnie “The Scott” Mundell (Bowmore)
Chris Patino (Pernod-Ricard)
Nicola Riske (Edrington)

Best American Cocktail Bar
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Attaboy (New York)
Aviary (Chicago)
Canon (Seattle)
Maison Premiere (Brooklyn)
Prizefighter (Emeryville)
Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
The Varnish (Los Angeles)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar
Celeste (Chicago)
Employees Only (New York)
Flatiron Lounge (New York)
Harvard & Stone (Los Angeles)
Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas)
Honeycut (Los Angeles)
Pegu Club (New York)
Shady Lady (Sacramento)
Sportsman’s Club (Chicago)
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)

Best American Hotel Bar
15 Romolo (San Francisco)
Ace Hotel Downtown LA (Los Angeles)
Bellocq (New Orleans)
Breslin at Ace (New York)
Proof on Main (Louisville)
Sable Kitchen and Bar (Chicago)
Sazerac at Roosevelt (New Orleans)
Spare Room (Los Angeles)
The Broken Shaker (Miami Beach)
The Hawthorne (Boston)

Best American Restaurant Bar
Acorn (Denver)
Bestia (Los Angeles)
Betony (New York)
Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks (Boston)
Eveleigh (Los Angeles)
Gramercy Tavern (New York)
No. 9 Park (Boston)
Nopa (San Francisco)
Scopa Italian Roots (Los Angeles)
The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange (Kansas City)

Best New American Cocktail Bar
ABV (San Francisco)
Boilermaker (New York City)
Dear Irving (New York)
Julep (Houston)
Latitude 29 (New Orleans)
Lost Lake (Chicago)
Seamstress (New York)
The Happiest Hour (New York)
The NoMad Bar (New York)
The Normandie Club (Los Angeles)

International Categories
Best International Bar Team
28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)
American Bar at the Savoy Hotel (London)
Baxter Inn (Sydney)
Black Pearl (Melbourne)
Le Lion Bar de Paris (Hamburg)
Licoreria Limantour Roma (Mexico City)
Nightjar (London)
Schumann’s American Bar (Munich)
The Connaught Bar (London)
White Lyan (London)

International Bartender of the Year
Marian Beke (London)
Ryan Chetiyawardana (London)
Gareth Evans (London)
Shingo Gokan (Shanghai)
Zdenek Kastanek (Singapore)
Chris Moore (London)
Tim Philips (Sydney)
Carina Tsou (Paris)
Hidetsugu Ueno (Tokyo)
Charles Vexenat (Ibiza)

Best International Brand Ambassador
Ian Burrell (Global Rum)
Dean Callan (Monkey Shoulder)
Max La Rocca (Diageo World Class)
Louis Xavier Lewis-Smith (Sailor Jerry)
Joe McCanta (Grey Goose)
George Nemec (Becherovka)
Shervene Shahbazkhani (Bacardi)
Claire Smith-Warner (Belvedere Vodka)
Camille Vidal (St. Germain)
Max Warner (Chivas)

Best International Cocktail Bar
Artesian (London)
Buck & Breck (Berlin)
Candelaria (Paris)
Happiness Forgets (London)
Hemingway Bar (Prague)
High Five (Tokyo)
Le Lion Bar de Paris (Hamburg)
Nightjar (London)
The Baxter Inn (Sydney)
White Lyan (London)

Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar
Callooh Callay (London)
City Social (London)
Eau de Vie (Melbourne)
Lidkoeb (Copenhagen)
Ruby (Copenhagen)
The Black Pearl/The Attic (Melbourne)
The Diamond (Vancouver)
The Everleigh (Melbourne)
The Lobo Plantation (Sydney)
Trailer Happiness (London)

 Best International Hotel Bar
American Bar, The Savoy (London)
Beaufort Bar, The Savoy (London)
Black Angel’s Bar, Hotel U Prince (Prague)
Coburg Bar, The Connaught (London)
Lobster Bar, Island Shangri-La Hotel (Hong Kong)
Manhattan, Regent Hotel (Singapore)
Ohla, Ohla Hotel (Barcelona)
The Punch Room, The Edition Hotel (London)
Widder Bar, Widder Hotel (Zurich)
Zetter Townhouse (London)

Best International Restaurant Bar
Blind Pig at Social Eating House (London)
China Tang (London)
Delicatessen (Moscow)
Duck & Waffle (London)
Hawksmoor Spitalfields (London)
Le Mary Celeste (Paris)
Mash (London)
The Red Bar at Bam-Bou (London)
Tippling Club (Singapore)
Zuma (Dubai)

Best New International Cocktail Bar
Bar Termini (London)
Baton Rouge (Paris)
Cocktail Trading Co. (London)
Dandelyan (London)
Le Syndicat Cocktail Club (Paris)
Mabel (Paris)
Operation Dagger (Singapore)
Seiberts Classic Bar & Liquid Kitchen (Cologne)
The Clumsies (Athens)
This Must Be The Place (Sydney)

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication
Australian Bartender
Difford’s Guide
Food & Wine Magazine
Ginger Magazine
Punch Drink
Saveur Magazine
The Cocktail Lovers
The Spirits Business

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer
Jeff Berry
Dave Broom
Wayne Curtis
Simon Difford
Camper English
Amy Hopkins
Jeffrey Morgenthaler
Leslie Pariseau
Robert Simonson
Naren Young

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book
Celebrity Cocktails by Brian Van Flandern
Classic Cocktails (Updated Reissue) by Salvatore Calabrese
Cocktails on Tap by Jacob Grier
Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, and Alex Day
Futurist Mixology by Fulvio Piccinino
Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold
Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch
The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles. Hundreds of Cocktails. A New Way to David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
The Bar Book by Jeff Morgenthaler
The Old-Fashioned by Robert Simonson

Best New Spirits Book
American Spirit by James Rodewald
Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough by Peter Thomas Fornatale
Distilled by Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison
Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots by Bryce T. Bauer
Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers
Sherry by Talia Baiocchi
The Curious Bartender: An Odyssey of Malt Bourbon & Rye Whiskies by Tristan Stephenson
Thinking Drinkers: The Enlightened Imbiber’s Guide to Alcohol by Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham
Whisk(e)y Distilled, A Populist Guide to The Water Of Life by Heather Greene
Whisky: The Manual by Dave Broom

Overall Categories
Best Bar Mentor
Bridget Albert (Chicago)
Jacques Bezuidenhout (San Francisco)
Tony Conigliaro (London)
Jason Crawley (Sydney)
Philip Duff (New York)
Francesco Lafranconi (Las Vegas
Jim Meehan (Portland)
Agostino Perrone (London)
Andy Seymour (New York)
Angus Winchester (God knows)

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient
Amaro di Angostura
Balsam American Amaro
Grey Goose V/X
J. Rieger & Co. Kansas City Whiskey
Mister Katz’s Rock and Rye
Mr. Lyan’s Bottled Cocktails
Redemption Rye Barrel Proof
Small Hands Foods Yeoman Tonic Syrup
Suze Bitters
The Bitter Truth Cucumber Bitters

World’s Best Cocktail Menu
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Artesian (London)
Beaufort Bar at the Savoy (London)
Canon (Seattle)
Dandelyan (London)
Dead Rabbit (New York)
Nightjar (London)
Pouring Ribbons (New York)
The NoMad Bar (New York)
Trick Dog (San Francisco)

World’s Best Spirits Selection
Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
Canon (Seattle)
Eau de Vie (Melbourne)
Jack Rose Dining Saloon (Washington DC)
Multnomah Whiskey Library (Portland)
Scopa Italian Roots (Los Angeles)
Silver Dollar (Louisville)
The Baxter Inn (Sydney)
The Office at The Aviary (Chicago)
Tommy’s (San Francisco)

For more information on past winners and Tales of the Cocktail®, visit the website or call 504-948-0511