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Toddy Twist

January 14, 2015

Nothing beats a warm libation on a winter night, and we all have occasions that winter warmers are the perfect topper.  Whether it is after a day skiing or in front of the fire at home, there is something comforting and relaxing about a nice warm beverage.

One of my favorites is the Toddy.  Traditionally a combination of honey, citrus, hot water and booze of choice with the option of spice, the toddy is a staple in cold weather.

Recently I was reading an article on homeopathic teas for cold and flu season and came across something that intrigued me, and in turn inspired this recipe as a twist on the traditional toddy.

First gather your gear and ingredients:

  • 12 oz jar
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
  • locally made honey

First, slice the lemon into half wheels and place them in the jar.  Next add the chopped ginger, them fill the jar with honey.  Let this stand at room temperature of a day to macerate. Afterwards refridgerate for up to two months.

Use this Ginger-Lemon Honey as not only the citrus but the sweet and spice in your Toddy. I personally like Irish Whiskey in this

Irish Toddy

  • 1 1/2 oz Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger-Lemon Honey
  • 4-6 oz boiling water.

Combine all ingredients in your favorite mug and sip soothingly.

(this is also great for a soar throat, or warming up from a cold: just leave out the whiskey….or not)

 

Holiday Drinks: The Divinity Cocktail

December 19, 2014

This holidays are here and ’tis the season for cheers and spirit(s)!  Normally during this time of year I stay with the classic drinks or classic twists on drinks, as most people prefer tradition over innovation ( I remember once wanting to theme a Thanksgiving dinner in a Caribbean style and was met with great resistance).

Suffice to say, that is what most want, and in years past I have posted many of the classic drinks like homemade Eggnog, Mulled Ciders, and Hot Buttered Rum.  But this year, I was asked by a local tourism group to provide a drink based on holiday candy. The first thoughts of peppermint bark, and chocolate something or another passed through my mind along with ideas of local cookies like biscochitos, but all of that has been done to absolute torturous points of death, that….i’ll save the gory analogy fro another time (my gift to you this season).

I wanted something different, but simple, and I thought of one of my favorite holiday treats: Divinity candy.  I haven’t had divinity since I was a kid (OK, that sounded odd, but you know what I mean).  I loved the simple light, fluffy, nutty, sugary pieces of holiday clouds as a child and thought this would make a tasty little drink.  And here is what I came up with….

IMG_1494Divinity Cocktail

  • 2 oz Vanilla Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Licor 43
  • 1 egg white
  • Pecan Sugar rim

In a mixing glass add egg white, vodka, and Licor 43.  Dry shake for 20 seconds to emulsify.  Add ice to the shaker then shake again for 10-12 seconds to chill.  Strain into a pecan sugar rimmed cocktail glass.

 

Pecan Sugar.  take 1 oz of pecan pieces in a plastic bag and lightly crush.  Combine with 4 oz sugar.  Seal the bag and shake to combine evenly.

Cheers to all and have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season.

Teeling Irish Whiskey Review

November 26, 2014

When I started in the bar business, there were two…..yes two Irish whiskeys on the market.  I’d hear from customers who had been to Erie about all the many others they had tried, but here in the states we had the… well you know who they are.

Now, two decades later, Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirit category showing mass increasing over the past five years.  And it is high time that the world know this spirit as it,as far as I am concerned, where whiskey as we know it today was mastered.

I have my loves, and I am married to them.  But recently when I was introduced to Teeling Irish Whiskey, I had to take a second glance, and I felt almost adulterous, as there is something unique here that appealed to my booze soaked heart.

Allow me to digress for a moment….Again when I started tending bar, my Uncle Tony introduced me to bourbon: not the rot gut that i had imbibed underage in the cemetery with friend a mile down from my house I grew up in, but TRUE bourbon and for years I was obsessed in learning all that I could about it.  We know from history that the original bourbon makers were Irish and Scottish immigrants who found the perfect water sources in Appalachia to distill whiskey.  This then led me to learning about the whiskies of the world, but I always came back to bourbon.  However, Irish whiskey always had a special place in my heart and there were occasions, moments that only a dram or Irish was appropriate, like a reverence that very point in time.

Jump ahead a few years as my career took off, I began to lean towards rum.  Again I don’t refer to swill: I mean rum.  Why rum?  Because it is first fricking tasty done right, and two it is the least regulated spirit in the world and left to great interpretation of the place and the time and the people from whom it comes from.  Rum is freedom.

So what does all this have to do with Irish Whiskey?

teeling-whiskey-2Here it is.  Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, bottled at 46 % abv, is smooth, correct, decent, loving, and is like sipping the best of three worlds.

Tech time: Teeling is small batch finished in rum casks in Flor De Cana Rum casks which lends its sweet vanilla and light wood passion to this Irish beauty.  And Flor De Cana, as most rum producers, use one time bourbon barrels as their aging vessel. (it is also the first rum that made me take rum seriously thanks to me mentor Jeff Ferris)

See where I am going here?

Whiskey2The flavors of the original bourbon cask imparted next to the rum and  finished with a  well done Irish whiskey?  This, in my spirited married mind, made my eyes turn and see a true, genuine beauty, that before I didn’t believe possible.  Yet there she is right thee in my glass.  And I embrace the beauty, and she has to offer as she is unyielding and free from restraint.  Teeling Small Batch is the spirit if freedom, yet being true to tradition.

And I invite you to join me in a toast to all that is beauty in this world as we embark upon a Thanksgiving Weekend here in the states and pay honor to all we have and all we are and remember what brought us to this moment.  we are a blend of beauty.  And Teeling Irish Whiskey is at the heart of ll things inclusive good

Go raibh an éirí gréine a thaispeáint ar an gealltanas gach lá agus is féidir leis an luí na gréine a thabhairt dúinn síocháin inár deireadh

 

36 Hours in Santa Fe

November 26, 2014

Santa Fe is a huge Mecca for so many things: art, music, food, and drinks.

Take a look at what some of us in Santa Fe showed The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/travel/things-to-do-in-36-hours-in-santa-fe.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey toasts the opening of the Tullamore Distillery

September 18, 2014

$50 million investment sees production return home after 60 years

September 17th, 2014: Tullamore D.E.W., the world’s second largest Irish whiskey today celebrated the opening of its new $50 million distillery in its hometown of Tullamore in the Irish midlands.  As the first spirit flowed from the stills, to the cheers of hundreds of invited guests, the milestone marked the return of whiskey production to the town, 60 years after the original distillery closed its doors. 

 

“This is a true ‘Parting Glass’ moment for Tullamore D.E.W., as we raise a glass to celebrate the beginning of an exciting new chapter in our 185 year history,” said Tullamore D.E.W. Senior Brand Manager Cindy Wang.  “Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category in the world right now and our new distillery will enable us to meet our production needs over the coming decades.” 

 

The new distillery marks a particularly exciting moment for the U.S. market as Irish whiskey continues to be the fastest growing spirit domestically with over 18% growth in the past three years. Under the guidance of the independent family-owned distiller William Grant & Sons, Tullamore D.E.W. grew over 20.6% in 2013 alone. Stateside, the brand will be celebrating the opening with a commemorative event in New York City, complete with a barrel signing led by Patrick Williams, great-grandson of Tullamore D.E.W. founder, Daniel E. Williams. The adorned barrel will be shipped back to Tullamore where it will then be filled and laid to rest to age in the new distillery alongside a similar barrel signed at the Tullamore celebration. 

 

“This new distillery brings Tullamore D.E.W. back to its origins. We are incredibly proud of the Tullamore Distillery and know that its opening has been awaited with great anticipation.  We look forward to building on our success to date and helping new fans all around the world discover the magic of Tullamore D.E.W.” said Tim Herlihy, Tullamore D.E.W. National Brand Ambassador.

 

To commemorate the rising of the distillery, Tullamore D.E.W. unveiled the very limited release of 2014 bottles of Tullamore D.E.W. Celebratory Phoenix Single Batch, an exclusive expression of the Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix range.  The Phoenix is a highly appropriate symbol for the town of Tullamore and Tullamore D.E.W. It is featured on the town’s coat of arms honoring the courageous rebuilding after it was largely destroyed by fire following a devastating hot air balloon accident in 1785 and is a symbol of resilience, optimism and progress; attributes that have led to the opening of Tullamore Distillery.

 

The Tullamore Distillery features four hand crafted copper stills, designed to resemble the original stills from the old distillery; six brew house fermenters each with a 34,000 liter capacity; and warehouse storage for 100,000 casks.  Tullamore Distillery draws the finest natural Irish water from the nearby Slieve Bloom Mountains and will be capable of producing the equivalent of 1.5 million cases of Tullamore D.E.W. annually.

 

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About Tullamore D.E.W.

Tullamore D.E.W. is the second largest Irish whiskey in the world in the fastest growing category. It has been widely acclaimed by whiskey connoisseurs, most recently winning a Gold Medal at the 2014 International Spirits Challenge for Tullamore D.E.W. Original. AdditionallyTullamore D.E.W. 10 Year Single Malt won the Chairman’s Trophy (highest award) for best Single Malt Irish Whiskey at the 2013 Ultimate Spirits Competition and Tullamore D.E.W. 12 Year Old Special Reserve won the Double Gold Medal at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

 

With an intriguing smooth yet complex character, Tullamore D.E.W. is triple distilled, but is also a unique blend of all three types of Irish whiskeys; the pot still, malt and grain whiskeys. As a result, Tullamore D.E.W. is three times smoother with an added gentle complexity. Tullamore D.E.W. was the first and remains one of the few international Irish whiskey to pioneer this blend of three.

 

Created in 1829, the brand’s strong heritage started in Tullamore, a town in the heart of Ireland, and was fostered by the vision of an early founder Daniel E. Williams, whose initials live on the bottle to this day. True to its heritage, a new distillery is now being built in the town of Tullamore to bringing Tullamore D.E.W. back to its roots.

 

Tullamore D.E.W. is best enjoyed to taste, but we recommend neat, on the rocks or served long with ginger beer, fresh lime juice and a dash of bitters in a Tullamore Irish Mule.

 

About William Grant & Sons

William Grant & Sons, Ltd. is an independent family-owned distiller headquartered in the United Kingdom and founded by William Grant in 1887. Today, the luxury spirits company is run by the fifth generation of his family and distills some of the world’s leading brands of Scotch whisky, including the world’s most awarded single malt Glenfiddich®, The Balvenie® range of handcrafted single malts and the world’s third largest blended Scotch Grant’s® along with iconic premium spirits brands Hendrick’s® Gin, Sailor Jerry® Rum, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey and Milagro® Tequila.

 

William Grant & Sons has been honored as “Distiller of the Year” by the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition and International Spirits Challenge eleven times over the past 15 years, and most recently by the IWSC in 2013.

 

Founded in 1964, William Grant & Sons USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of William Grant & Sons, Ltd. and features one of the fastest growing spirits portfolios in the USA with brands including Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, Milagro Tequila, Grant’s, Hudson Whiskey, Gibson’s Finest, Monkey Shoulder, Clan MacGregor, Reyka Vodka, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Montelobos Mezcal, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur,  Lillet, Art In The Age, The Knot, and Raynal French Brandy. For more information on the company and its brands, please visit www.grantusa.com.

The Hunt for Apple Cider

September 17, 2014

Autumn is rapidly approaching and it is time  for my annual search for a local unfiltered Apple Cider.  Apples grow in abundance in Northern New Mexico believe it or not.  For half a century there was even an orchard here near Cochiti Pueblo called Dixon Apple  that was the creator of the Champagne Apple variety (sad if you never had one as the orchard burned during Wildfires in 2011).

I love cider drinks in the cool months.  Mulled Ciders, Shanties, Dry Cider, Hard Cider, Soft Cider: you name it I am on it.  My son loves to help when doing mulled ciders at home and sitting by the fire at our house or beside the smoker outside as we slow smoke some big dead animal

So,what should you look for when searching for apple cider?  That’s a great question as  with so many things, definitions and regulation vary.  But here are a couple things to know….

Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice

The Food Police haven;t gotten a hold of this one yet (guess they are too worried about aging cheese on wood). But the general understanding is that “cider”  is cloudy and unfiltered whereas “juice” is clear.  Juice starts as cider (picked, washed, pressed) then basically filtered and dehydrated into “concentrate” for mass production and reconstituted either by the bottler or at home from a little packet.

Filtered Vs Unfiltered

You knew it was next!   Pretty simple though sediment or not.

Pasteurized vs Unpasteurized

We all know what pasteurization is: heated a product about 165 degrees for 10 seconds to kill off any and all bad stuff.  When buying Apple cider at a market most of what you will find is pasteurized cider with the rare occasion it is not pasteurized.  Buying direct from the orchard or at the local Farmer’s Market you most likely to get unpasteurized liquid love.  But here is where it gets tricky and you have to become a bit of a detective yourself.  Ask questions about the orchard, the process especially washing and sanitation.  A couple years ago unpasteurized cider was found to the the culprit in an E coli outbreak.  How? animals grazing in the field, or apple picked up off the ground can contribute to this. So don’t be shy about asking your apple grower what is happening at their orchard.

Cold Pressed

This simply means heat was not used to extract the juice from the pulp

Hard vs Soft (sweet)

Not entirely meaning to go down the porn path here but there is just no avoiding it.. Hard cider = alcoholic, Soft or sweet cider = nonalcoholic.  Leave soft cider in a open container for a couple days and guess what….natural yeast pop in start doing their thing with the natural sugars in the cider, it ferments and becomes hard. Told you it was unavoidable. Don;t want the kids to get into the hard stuff.

Shelf Life

Unfiltered, unpasteurized cider is good refrigerated for about a week.  If it is pasteurized, you can double or triple that time. Do also keep in mind if you hear the cider for drinks, you pasteurized it yourself and if you added booze to it while cooking it for say a Mulled Cider, alcohol is a natural preservative and you extended the shelf life again.

Want to make your own?  Its really not hard to do, but can be expensive.  Here is what you need.

  • 11-13 pounds of ripe juicy apple (the variety or combination of varieties is up to you, but don;t forget to make notes)
  • Food mill or Food processor
  • Cheese cloth
  • Strainer
  • Wide mouth food grade container
  • Clean sanitized bottles

11-13 pounds of apples will yield about a gallon of juice (kinda not very cost effective but hey its fun to DIY).  Chop the apples up: there is no need peel them as you’ll want to flavor in your end result.  It’s really no even necessary to core the apple but that is up to you.  Place apple you the machine and run until the apples are pulverized.  Put your cheese cloth in the strainer.  put in the contents of your food processor into the cheese cloth and let strain.(if using a foo mill you’ll of course have to do this over the wide mouth container). There ya go!

What to do with your fresh pressed cider?  My favorite is the aforementioned Mulled (spiced) Cider.

  • 24 ounces Apple Cider
  • 8 oz “dark” spirit”
  • 1 orange
  • 15 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (make sure it’s ceylon cinnamon not cassia bark)
  • Crock Pot
  • Optional Saucepan

Crock Pot method.  Cut up orange into slices, place cloves into the slices.  Place all ingredients in the crock pot and set to high.  Wait, wait wait wait (it’s a Crock Pot!!)

Stove Top Method: Same as above but add to a medium save pan and heat of medium heat just to a boil, the reduce heat.  let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then remove from heat and pour into the Crock Pot.

when ready to serve, ladle you cider into your favorite mug, and curl up on the couch or your deck in the cool evening air

Happy Autumn All!!!

Balanced Life: Lessons from a Cocktail Glass

September 15, 2014

Let’s face facts here.  No matter how good your upbringing, no matter how genuine your intentions, no matter how decent your action and no matter how you surround yourself and in turn express Love…….shit happens.  Not just to you but to everyone at some point or another (in some cases the several moments at the same time).

So it goes. But we all learn to move on and move through with our high proof inner strength.

With the exception of a few random posts, and working at Secreto Lounge, I have done very little work.  My boss would probably say I have barely even shown up for work!  Why is this? I needed to re-balance.

Between teaching classes, doing private events, responding to an average of 74 emails a day, making public appearances, and daily shaking behind the bar, I began to allow my world to become consumed by all-things-work with little or no focus on the guy that is trying to make all that happen. Not to mention trying to be a dad.  Living, working and playing booze all day turns life into not a well balanced drink something more like a Pickle Back Shot.

070514P_679One of the ways I decided to break this vicious cycle? Whitewater Rafting! And not just rafting , but training as a Raft Guide. Each weekend this past summer I was riding the Rio Grande River away from my phone, away from my computer, and away from the bar finding a sanctuary in the Rio Grande Gorge learning to navigate boats on Class III and IV rapids.

When I first moved to Santa Fe, I didn’t work in the bar biz: I was a Ropes Course Facilitator at  a summer camp and part of my excitement in being a guide was using those team building skills again taking a group of strangers, or a family, or a bunch of friends down the river creating fun, and making memories.

And I learned some things about myself as well.  I learned that great ingredients in life are necessary and that every ingredient is great in and of itself.  That some things are good together, and others are not and the only way to find out if they do is to try.  Focus on the moment with precision and pay attention to exactly what you are putting into your life’s mixing glass. There is reason for the gentleness of stirring and the vigor of shaking.  Over pouring can be overpowering and putting too much or too little in will not achieve balance.