A Muddled Thought

Some new cocktails to pair with chocolate.

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a three day cocktail festival held every May in New York City, is coming up in a few weeks.The MCC ,as it’s referred to throughout the spirits industry, features three days of industry and consumer oriented seminars, tasting rooms, events and a black tie gala that launches the entire festival. As we’ve done the past several years, the Cocktail Guru Team of Jonathan Pogash, Jeffrey Pogash, Pamela Wiznitzer and myself are hosting a chocolate and cocktails Event.

See here for more information

“We’ve teamed up with some of New York’s finest bartenders and some of the best pastry chefs around the city to create cocktails and desserts to pair with an assortment of Valrhona Chocolates.

To pair with with Valrhona Dulcey’s chocolate I decided to work with Don Q Gran Anejo Rum and More Good Cassia Cream.

Valrhona describes Dulcey as being buttery, toasty and not too sweet, with flavors of freshly-baked shortbread and hints of salt.

For my first cocktail to be paired with Valrhona Dulcey I created “The Good Humor Man”.

“The Good Humor Man”

2oz Don Q Gran Anejo Rum

1/2 oz More Good Cassia Cream

2 Dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

2-3 Salt Crystals

Combine ingredients in mixing glass. Stir, strain into rocks glass over giant cube.

Garnish with Orange Twist.

The Good Humor Man. A combination of Don Q Gran Anejo Rum,More Good Cassia Cream, Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters, Salt.

The Good Humor Man. A combination of Don Q Gran Anejo Rum,More Good Cassia Cream, Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters, Salt.

For my second cocktail that would be paired with Valrhona Bahibe I decided to work with Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, which is bottled at 90% alcohol and Perfect Puree Coconut Puree.

Valrhona describes Bahhibe as having the smoothness of milk chocolate with intense notes of cocoa and a touch of dried fruit, before revealing its fruity tanginess and slight bitterness.

To pair with this I came up with a cocktail called “Wonka’s Vacation”.

Wonka’s Vacation

2 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac

1/2oz Pineapple Juice

1/2 oz Perfect Puree Coconut Puree

1/2 oz Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Cacao

1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup

2 Dashes Aphrodite Bitters

Combine ingredients in shaker. Shake, strain into coupe. Top with grated cinnamon.

Wonka’s Vacation. A combination of Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Pineapple Juice, Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao,Cinnamon Syrup, Aphrodite Bitters

Wonka’s Vacation. A combination of Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Pineapple Juice, Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao,Cinnamon Syrup, Aphrodite Bitters

Year 6: Tales of the Cocktail

My trip to Tales of the Cocktail was an interesting one compared to past years. Usually I arrive on the Tuesday night before Tales starts and stay until sometime Sunday, the last day of Tales. Which had been the original plan this year, but unfortunately due to a pretty intense rainstorm hitting most of the east coast including New York my flight was delayed a full twenty four hours getting me in at around midnight Wednesday night. After five years of attending Tales of the Cocktail this was the first time I missed the entire first day and night including both the Absolut Welcome Party and the William Grant and Sons Party (see here for last years shindig ).

Thankfully I did make it to New Orleans in time to prep on Thursday for my spirited dinner, make a seminar or two and attend a few parties.

As we did last year Jonathan Pogash and I joined forces with with Charlotte Voisey of William Grant and Sons and Gina Chersevani of Hanks Oyster Bar to host a Spirited Dinner. This year our dinner was held at the Grill Room within the Windsor Court Hotel. The theme for this year was “The Seven Deadly Sins”.

This year’s spirited dinner’s theme gave Chef Skip Adams and us a lot to work with regarding cocktail concept and food courses. And this unique theme allowed us to have some fun with our wardrobes. Jonathan Pogash and I decided to dress as sloth which took form as robes and slippers.

Jonathan Pogash and I representing Sloth.

Jonathan Pogash and me representing Sloth.

Here’s a look at the full menu for the evening:

The 7 Deadly Sins of Cocktails

PRIDE
Proud to Pear
by Charlotte Voisey
Girvan Patent Still No 4 Apps., Lemon Sorbet, Hard Pear Cider
WRATH
Cinnamon Cured Tuna
Pickled Beets, Satsuma-Ginger Vinaigrette, Fennel, Watercress
paired with
What’d I drink last night?
by Jonathan Pogash
Flor de Cana 4 Year, Solerno, Kronan Swedish Punsch, Lime, The Perfect Purée Carmelized Pineapple,
Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters
LUST
Blue Crab Gratin
Braised Radishes, Caviar, Black Garlic, Manchego
paired with
Ravishing Radishes
by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey
Pickled Heirloom Radishes, Lillet Blanc, Hendrick’s Gin
SLOTH
Ginger Beer Braised Short Rib
Carrot Broth, Chestnut Puree, Swiss Chard
paired with
The Long Stretch
by Hal Wolin & Jonathan Pogash
Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky, Root Organic Liqueur, Lillet Rose, Chai Cinnamon Ginger Syrup,
The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters, Sea Salt
GLUTTONY
Chappappeela Farms Duck Breast
Foie Gras, Pecan Puree, Carmelized Fig Jus, Arugula
paired with
Over-inDUCKgence
by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey
Duck Fat & Herb Washed Flor de Cana, Orange Peel, Bitters, Fig Sugar
ENVY
Lemon Posset
Brutti ma Buoni Cookies
paired with
Jealous, Yet?
by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey
Tullamore Dew, Lillet Rouge Spiced Syrup, Cream, Lemon
GREED
Dulcey Chocolate Crémeux
Almond Sable, Candied Rhubarb
paired with
Sharing not Allowed
by Hal Wolin
Glenfiddich 21 Year, Snap, Averna, Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

The first cocktail of the night: Proud to Pear by Charlotte Voisey.Girvan Patent Still No 4 Apps. whisky Lemon Sorbet, Hard Pear Cider.

The first cocktail of the night: Proud to Pear
by Charlotte Voisey.Girvan Patent Still No 4 Apps. whisky Lemon Sorbet, Hard Pear Cider.

Ravishing Radishes by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey Pickled Heirloom Radishes, Lillet Blanc, Hendrick’s Gin

Ravishing Radishes
by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey
Pickled Heirloom Radishes, Lillet Blanc, Hendrick’s Gin

What a sold out dinner at Tales looks like.

What a sold out dinner at Tales looks like.

Ginger Beer Braised Short Rib and the Long Stretch Cocktail.by Hal Wolin & Jonathan Pogash Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky, Root Organic Liqueur, Lillet Rose, Chai Cinnamon Ginger Syrup, The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters, Sea Salt Garnished with a candied carrot.

Ginger Beer Braised Short Rib and the Long Stretch Cocktail.by Hal Wolin & Jonathan Pogash
Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky, Root Organic Liqueur, Lillet Rose, Chai Cinnamon Ginger Syrup,
The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters, Sea Salt
Garnished with a candied carrot.

Musician David Higgins of Charleston entertaining guests between courses.

Musician David Higgins of Charleston entertaining guests between courses.

Over-inDUCKgence by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey Duck Fat & Herb Washed Flor de Cana, Orange Peel, Bitters, Fig Sugar.

Over-inDUCKgence by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey Duck Fat & Herb Washed Flor de Cana, Orange Peel, Bitters, Fig Sugar.

Gina Chersevani discussing some of her cocktails.

Gina Chersevani discussing some of her cocktails.

Chef Skip Adams of the Windsor Court discussing the inspiration for the evenings dishes.

Chef Skip Adams of the Windsor Court discussing the inspiration for the evenings dishes.

Sometimes you need to make crushed ice for 120 people.

Sometimes you need to make crushed ice for 120 people.

Crushed Ice for Days.

Crushed Ice for Days.

Jealous, Yet? by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey Tullamore Dew, Lillet Rouge Spiced Syrup, Cream, Lemon

Jealous, Yet?
by Gina Chersevani & Charlotte Voisey
Tullamore Dew, Lillet Rouge Spiced Syrup, Cream, Lemon

The final cocktail of the night,Sharing not Allowed by Hal Wolin. Glenfiddich 21 Year, Snap, Averna, Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

The final cocktail of the night,Sharing not Allowed
by Hal Wolin.
Glenfiddich 21 Year, Snap, Averna, Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters

The entire bar team that made the night possible. Slippers, pajamas and all.

The entire bar team that made the night possible. Slippers, pajamas and all.

After we wrapped up our spirited dinner Jonathan Pogash and I headed over to Bourbon Street and the infamous Absinthe House for the traditional United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) toast.

USBG Members from all over the country for the yearly toast outside the Absinthe House.

USBG Members from all over the country for the yearly toast outside the Absinthe House.

One of the seminars I did manage to catch was “Thirsty Masses: More Drinks & Happiness” presented by Alex Day of Death and Company/Honey Cut, Erick Castro of Polite Provisions and Boilermaker and Dieter Cartwright of Warren Red, a branding and interior design firm.

Warren Red, Dieter’s firm helped create one of the most well thought out bar designs I’ve seen thus far, Pouring Ribbons.

The seminar discussed how to execute high quality, multi-ingredient cocktails more efficiently in high volume environments successfully. The presenters also provided tips on how to maximize the design of your bar design for both efficiency and for profitability.

Here are a few tips I picked up:

1.When designing the bar layout build in cockpits so your staff can crank out cocktails with minimal movement. Bottlenecks create sadness and unhappy customers.

2.The bartender should have 3 feet worth of room to move around/pivot from their station.

3.Create informal places to sit which helps create social interaction. The more comfortable the customer the longer they stay which in turn leads to more profit.

4.Create a training program and progression system with incentive for your barbacks to learn more, get more involved and work their way up to bartender.

5.Use your space, be creative. This was best illustrated in how Pouring Ribbons efficiently uses every inch of space behind their bar.

An overview of Pouring RIbbons in NY.

An overview of Pouring RIbbons in NY.

The floor plan of Pouring Ribbons.

The floor plan of Pouring Ribbons.

From the pictures below you’ll notice that the bartenders rarely have to bend down or move far to get glass from the glass chiller as it’s within an arms reach of the wells. As far as maximizing space since they don’t have much room to work with they had little storage nooks built into the bar.

The back bar of Pouring Ribbons.

The back bar of Pouring Ribbons.

Storage Nook behind the bar at Pouring Ribbons.

Storage Nook behind the bar at Pouring Ribbons.

The seminar also highlighted some additional equipment such as glass rinsers, hooks for bar tools, and foot pedals to active sinks to help speed up service.

Some additional equipment to maximize bar space and speed up service.

Some additional equipment to maximize bar space and speed up service.

The tips I picked up in this seminar will stay with me for a long time and will definitely be utilized in future projects.

On Friday I managed to find a bit of time to explore New Orleans a bit, and get stuck in a torrential downpour on my way to Café Dumonde for some beignets before having an incredible dinner at Peche.

This was followed by a stop at the Diageo House Party, which featured the Diageo portfolio of spirits including Ketel One, Zacapa, Tanqueray, Don Julio, the Classic Malts, Bulleit and George Dickel whiskies. The Contemporary Arts Center Warehouse was broken up into different areas highlighting each spirit.

Some of the standout areas were the Road Soda trailer with Ben Clemons and Marshall Altier serving Don Julio Cocktails, some of the Diageo Whisky Ambassadors such as Todd Richman dressed in his best country attire slinging Dickel cocktails and Kyle McHugh and Bill Codman doing their best Hugh Hefner dressed in pajamas offering up Johnnie Walker and Classic Malt cocktails.

Welcome to the the Diageo House Party.

Welcome to the the Diageo House Party.

The crowd inside the Diageo House Party.

The Road Soda Trailer serving Don Julio Cocktails.

Inside the Road Soda Trailer with Ben Scorah behind the bar.

Diageo Whisk(e)y Ambassador representing George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey at the House Party.

Diageo Whisk(e)y Ambassador representing George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey at the House Party.

Whisk(e)y Ambassador Kyle McHugh mixing up Johnnie Walker Cocktails at the DIageo House Party.

Whisk(e)y Ambassador Kyle McHugh mixing up Johnnie Walker Cocktails at the DIageo House Party.

This brought Friday evening to a wrap. After working the Sandeman Tasting room and spending some time at the pool I managed to catch up with some friends to the see the infamous Chris Hannah at French 75 before heading to my last event of the week, the Bartenders Breakfast presented by Beefeater and Plymouth Gins. This year the event was held at the Audubon Aquarium of America.

The entrance to the Bartenders Breakfast

The entrance to the Bartenders Breakfast

The crowd at the Bartenders Breakfast.

The crowd at the Bartenders Breakfast.

I’ll say this much: it’s a truly strange sensation to eat fish and chips while sea creatures stare back at you. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but it’s one of those chicken before the egg type of moments.

Few things in life wash down fish and chips better than gin and there was much in many various cocktails to be enjoyed at the Bartenders Breakfast, ranging from Plymouth Gin and Tonics to canned Martini’s to Southside’s and everything in between, all from a variety of bartenders including the likes of Erick Castro (Boilermaker), Jim Meehan and Jeff Bell (PDT), Dominic Venegas (PDT), Jamie Gordon( Pernod Ricard), Devon Tarby (Of Proprietors LLC) and Joaquin Simo (of Pouring Ribbons), to just name a few.

Beefeater Gin and Tonics for days!

Beefeater Gin and Tonics for days!

Chris Patino of Pernod Ricard with cocktails served in fish bowls.

Chris Patino of Pernod Ricard with cocktails served in fish bowls.

Joaquin Simo of Pouring Ribbons serving up some punch featuring Beefeater Gin.

Joaquin Simo of Pouring Ribbons serving up some punch featuring Beefeater Gin.

After exploring the aquarium for a while and realizing gin and sea turtles go well together (no not in that way), I decided to head home as I had a 6am flight back to New York.

Turtles at the Bartenders Breakfast!

This Tales was definitely shorter than previous years but somehow I managed to cram almost as much education, work and fun into the shortened trip.

I’ll leave you with this image of a canned Plymouth Martini.

CannedMartinis

Until next year’s adventure…..

Photos of Spirited Dinner, and Diageo House Party Provided by Jennifer Mitchell Photography. www.JenniferMitchellPhotography.com

Photos of Plymouth and Beefeater Bartenders Breakfast provided by Gabi Porter.

Diageo World Class Entry:The Traveling Woodsman

For the past two years I’ve been privileged enough to participate in Diageo’s World Class competition here in the United States. The competition has continued to grow larger and more intense each year. The first year you had to submit a video of yourself making a cocktail featuring one of Diageo’s brands, and there was a 1-day competition for 20 lucky competitors. The second year you had to complete several online tests, submit a cocktail again highlighting one of Diageo’s brands and submit a video explaining why you loved bartending and it was two days of challenges that challenged all your skills, your ability to think your feet and your creativity. This is the third year that Diageo has held its World Class competition in the United States and they’ve changed up the game a bit. In addition to completing several learning modules on brand categories such as bourbon and scotch, vodka and gin, tequila and rum, you are also asked to review modules hosted by the 2012 winner Ricky Gomez on hospitality and creating a memorable guest experience as well as reviewing online modules presented by Jeff Bell (of PDT), the 2013 US World Class Winner that covers speed, planning out the most efficient way to make a round of drinks, and setting up your station as efficiently as possible. After all these modules there are several online quizzes to complete. Once this is done you are then asked to submit a cocktail featuring a minimum of one of Diageo’s Reserve brands which include Bulleit Rye and Bourbon, the Johnnie Walker family of scotch whiskies, Ketel One Vodka, Ron Zacapa Rum, Ciroc Vodka and Tanqueray Ten. In addition to creating a cocktail featuring at least one of these brands, you also had to provide the reasons why you felt your cocktail was World Class.

I’ve found in my experience that if there is a story or a bit of interesting knowledge tied to a cocktail it makes for an even more memorable imbibing experience. With that idea in mind I created the “Traveling Woodsman”.

The inspiration behind the name of this cocktail is the story of the spirits themselves. The base of the Traveling Woodsman is split between Bulleit Rye and Johnnie Walker Double Black, two spirits that are both aged in American Oak. In the case of the Bulliet Rye, new unused American oak is utilized to age the rye. In the case of Johnnie Walker Double Black, which is a blended whisky, American oak barrels that were previously used to age American whiskey are re-purposed to age scotch. The story of how a barrel can be used first to age one spirit in America and then re-used to age another spirit in Scotland gave me the idea behind the name of this cocktail.

The Traveling Woodsman. A combination of Bulleit Rye, Johnnie Walker Double Black, Meletti Amaro, Cocchi Americano and Creole Bitters.

The Traveling Woodsman. A combination of Bulleit Rye, Johnnie Walker Double Black, Meletti Amaro, Cocchi Americano and Creole Bitters.

The Traveling Woodsman

1oz Bulleit Rye
1 oz Johnnie Walker Double Black
1/2 oz Meletti Amaro
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano

2 Dashes Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Directions:Combine Ingredients in mixing glass. Stir with ice.

Strain into coupe.

Garnish with Grapefruit Twist