Tag Archives: cocktails

The Heaven and Hell of Booze Showdowns and THE Best Rum

17 Jun
Pineapple Sesame Daiquiri

Not that I’m dramatic, but sure, I went dramatic with the name of this entry. Last Monday I was running around from 7:30am til 5-ish on 4-minus hours of sleep and still jet-lagged from a trip to Italy, pouring booze I most certainly was not allowed to drink…that could have been hell. But honestly I had a fantastic time as a helper at the LA Spirits Awards. Although I’m a goth masochist so take my pleasure with a grain of Carolina Reaper.

For all the wine adventures I’ve had, I have never judged a contest. Not with wine, and especially not with spirits. So I jumped at the chance to get in behind the scenes. Especially for this competition. It has THE most diverse set of judges around and incorporates the ever-growing categories of lo-no spirits for those who don’t imbibe, as well as ready to drink cocktails.

I spent the day polishing glasses, pouring flight after flight (after flight), delivering said flights, cleaning up when the judges were done (mmmm emptying spit buckets), and doing it all again, all day. This does not sound exhausting, but let me tell you, I got nearly all my 10,000 steps they (who are they?) say you should get in, by the end of the day. Seriously, it was like 15+ flights ranging between 2 and 9 spirits. I DO NOT know how the judges’ palates held up.

I could barely handle my recent experience with 50-ish Barolos. This crew consisted of utter pros who held it together all day although there were a couple of flights I suspected they wouldn’t loved based on what I smelled when pouring and sure enough, the judges were laughing in the way you do after something terrible but not actually tragic has happened, like attending a one-man show in Los Angeles or anywhere.

Honestly though, this panel of judges was the most diverse, the kindest, the most thoughtful (I enjoyed listening in to them as they debated how a spirit should rank) one could hope to find. Here’s how judging worked: each table of judges had a different set of booze they’d be judging. They had to come to a consensus for each. It either got nothing, or qualified as bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. Everything that got a gold or platinum would then be tasted by ALL the judges the following day, before winners were declared.

Meanwhile, as helpers, we were not trying the spirits, so I sniffed the day away–and when I deemed a pour particularly good or bad based on nose alone, and the judges passed similar judgement, I felt quite validated. Not that I need validation from other humans to be happy except I do.

Actually, I might say working the contest was more like limbo, as my nostrils were apparently doing fine work, but my palate wasn’t getting in on the game. Heaven was regained as I was invited not just to supper with the judges, but also sample the Ten to One rum, whose white rum received a Gold and amber rum received a silver medal in the 2021 competition.

The dinner paired three cocktails featuring the rums, and we got samplers of them to boot and whooo-eeee lemme tell you, Ten to One makes complex and aromatic rums. They paired well with the dishes but also with the judges I was sitting with. I learned about everything from roller derby to what it takes to move cats from Argentina to Cambodia that night. Not your average cocktail chat.

Said dinner was held at Caravan Swim Club, the poolside restaurant at the Playa del Rey-ish Hotel June. The welcome cocktail (and the leading picture for this write-up) was a Pineapple Sesame Daiquiri, featuring the Ten to One white rum, pineapple, juice, lime juices and–this was the level-up move–each was dotted with a few drops of sesame oil. The drink did well by what I honestly think is the best chopped salad I’ve ever had. Normally I eat chopped salad and wish I had all the elements separately and in bigger pieces. But this one provided forkful after cartable forkful of satisfaction. I’m not exaggerating. I want this salad again. The Charred Elote salad featured chopped lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, cilantro, cotija, and chipotle dressing. It was savory and slightly spicy so was both complimented and the heat mitigated but the savory and sweet nature of the cocktail.

I missed out on the second course of Crudo, seeing as I’m vegetarian, but everyone else cleared their plates.

The next cocktail was a Blood Orange Daisy using (again) the Ten to One white rum, as well as martini fiero (an orange vermouth), habanero agave, and lime. I loved this. I also love blood oranges and spiciness–although I honestly think (and this is rare for me as I love the heat) the spiciness could have been dialed down just the teensiest to let the other flavors show through more. But as a cocktail making enthusiast it is rare that I taste a drink and have no notes. I promise you I’ll find a way to make any drink just a shade better. Although that Pineapple Sesame Daiquiri would give me a run for my money.

My vegetarian main paired with the Daisy was a Spicy Cauliflower Steak, featuring peppers, smoked paprika, cashew, cilantro, and cream sauce. I’m not sure, but seeing as I didn’t notice any actual cashews and as I think they were trying to make this vegan–is it possible the cream sauce was made of cashews? At any rate as I mentioned I have a love affair with spicy. And creamy. And cauliflower. And the whole thing was topped with a refreshing mix of micro greens that played nicely with the spicy cauliflowernsteak. I was very happy.

The dessert drink was a Rum Old-Fashioned, paired with an Horchata Panna Cotta which sadly, I had to forgo as panna cotta has gelatin in it. But I had zero problems finding a taker who wanted to eat mine seeing as a) they were petite and b) apparently fantabulous. Old-Fashioned ingredients were not listed but given the color, as well as brown-sugar notes, I’m thinking it was made with Ten to One amber rum. It was a delightful way to wind down the dinner, with the luxardo cherry garnish serving as my dessert.

The winners winners cauliflower steak dinners have not been announced yet, so stay tuned. I may need to do a round-up tasting of the best. I’m rooting for Ten to One for another medal or so…and that’s not just the rum talking.

Stop! New things!

10 Jul

Okay I know. Cocktails aren’t a totally new thing but they are a break in the wine content.

It’s bloody 107 degrees in Los Angeles as I write and a frosty cocktail is called for. A cute frosty cocktail. Garnished with a bottle of amaro.

I don’t normally drink tequila but when I do I get fancy. Reposado? Not too shabby.

I regret nothing.

I give you:

Ice-Berg

From Brad Thomas Parson’s “Amaro”

1 oz reposado tequila

1 bottle underberg

1 oz orgeat

3/4 fresh lemon juice

Blend with about a cup of ice. Rejoice.

Cocktail TED talk

9 Feb

    
Hey dudes! No recipe or recommendations today because…I have been prepping all week to see just how much basic cocktail knowledge I can give in 8-10 minutes Wednesday night. The show will also feature talks about everything ranging from Horse Psychology to The Black Panther Party to Iceland.More info: https://ucbtheatre.com/show/5392

Come play!

Lady MacDeath

30 Jul


Out, out damned wine spot!
This drink is blood orange and Campari and port and jealousy, ambition and hidden violence in the night. And psychotic breakdown

Lady MacDeath
1 1/2 oz ruby port
1 oz Campari
1/2 oz blood orange
Cava to taste
Stir the port, Campari and blood orange. Add the Cava. Plot domination.

Pairs Well With Queso

14 May


We took a hiatus. “Girls” may be over for the season, but we wanted to keep drinking. And so we did. And put it on digital for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy this beverage, please. I did.

Ps thank you Captain Morgan for the barrage of rum. It was delightful. 

Pps Everyone PLEASE get some friggin’ queso.

Pairs Well With Queso (makes 2)

  • 2 1/2 oz grapefruit rum 
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon (used my favorite standby Maker’s Mark)
  • 1 1/2 oz dry vermouth 
  • 1 1/4 oz Purely Syrup Habanero simple syrup
  • Tonic water
  • Mixture of cane sugar and sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 a grapefruit

Press a glass into the grapefruit, then dip in the sugar/paprika mixture.

Shake everything else but the tonic. Strain and top with tonic.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Daughter

2 Mar


This week I wanted to make something that would pay homage to teachers. So I thought of apples. But WHO THE FUCK EVER LIKED and apple martini? Grody. But Apple Martin?

Why not?

I do love Coldplay.

So Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter it was. With APPLETON Estate Rum and Calvados (an APPLE brandy). Most people probably don’t have this sitting around home but who lives like Gwyneth? You gotta make the effort. Fast forward to about 5 minutes 20 seconds in for the drinks portion, should you not want to hear our musings on art and exes.

Gyneth Paltrow’s Daughter, an original by Ellen Clifford
1 oz. Appleton rum
1 oz. calvados
1 oz. Averna
1 tsp. cinnamon simple syrup (see recipe)
2 dashes Fee Bros. Aztec Chocolate bitters
1 orange twist
Shake with ice and strain then garnish with orange twist.
Cinnamon syrup: Bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil until sugar dissolves. Toss in a couple cinnamon sticks. Allow to sit overnight then strain. Keep refrigerated.

The Bridgid plus showbiz

23 Feb


You guys I promise in a month when GIRLS is over I will get back to posting non-drink recipes. In the meantime…Please make The Bridgid:
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Modeled after a cocktail Bridgid really liked at Basic, a bar in Brooklyn.
If you just want the recipe go about 6 minutes 45 seconds in.
Girl on GIRLS is hobbling along. We got to be special guests on a much larger after show last week which was wicked exciting! And this week comedian Rakefet Abergel is our special guest so that’s nifty.

In other acting news I had a part in a legit movie (starring Rosanna Arquette-the Oscar winner Patricia’s sis and most importantly, star of “Desperately Seeking Susan”)
That also was wicked exciting.

And I’m gonna do some sketch comedy I wrote in March. Woot! And wicked. Bridgid will be in that with me so get to the Nerdist theatre in March for some funny.

And then there is just the ample booze to cover my pain.

The Bridgid made up by me with assistance of THE Bridgid
Makes 2 cocktails
First, put just a tiny smidgen of absinthe in each coupe, swirl and dump (or if you are me, drink, the excess). Put in freezer until ready to strain.
Next, stir over ice and strain into a chilled coupes:
1 oz. citron vodka
3 oz. gin
1 1/2 oz. Campari
1 oz. dry vermouth (I use Martini and Rossi)
1 oz. Cointreau
6 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Girls on GIRLS hath arrived

13 Jan


Behold. Enjoy. I hope. You’ll learn to make an adult beverage!

If you did enjoy, then make the drink I teach how to make. If you didn’t ditto.

The Little Iowa
adapted from a cocktail I was taught by a “a nice bar man” at Bar Ama aka home of the best queso outside Texas
2 1/2 oz. Templeton Rye
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (I used Martini and Rossi)
3/4 oz. Cynar
frozen red grapes to finish
Stir over ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with frozen grapes.
Feel the Iowa.

Nancy is THE best

15 Jul

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I almost do not want to tell you about The Copper Still. But I will. It deserves attention. Nancy deserves attention.

Nancy Kwon is Los Angeles’ best bartender AND best mixologist. I stand behind this opinion and anyone who challenges me should pay her a visit. Being a good bartender and a good mixologist are not the same thing. Nancy is also hella hot (and yet told me not to have pictures of her in this post), warm-hearted, brilliant, and prefers her Sazerac heavy on the absinthe rinse which makes her a woman after my own heart.

Oh hell she is not after it. She has it.

Just take a look at what is behind the bar. She has a collection of booze and bitters I could spend a month exploring. And on any given night she is experimenting and having people taste to help her perfect her next drink. For instance last night I saw a plate out with various little piles of salt. She was trying to determine which smoked salt was the best rimming mix for the mescal drink she was developing. I’d be impressed just at the smoked salt. But she gets so detail oriented that she had to choose which type of smoked salt to use.

This tiny lil’ unassuming Koreatown joint is easy to miss. It is attached to Jaragua, which is not. But through a curtain in the bar is indeed the restaurant which serves its creations late. It is a pretty tiny place. It is dark and red and black, and welcoming and not toooooo loud.

And here is a kicker: there is a parking lot. Which is too bad considering I would avoid driving here if I want more than one drink. All the same. Parking! I swoon, I faint, I would knight this bar if I were Queen of England. Which would be weird.
The Copper Still
4485 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

This is a process

19 Dec

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Life is a process. And it is worth it.

As is this cocktail.

And other deep thoughts.

Let us infuse some shit.

But first a shameless plug for my positively adorable in every way improv group:
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This is our sexy face.
Improv is a process. It takes a long long long time to not suck all the time. I have recently been trying to really FOCUS and put the time into doing what I do. I am aiming for quality of activities over quantity.

And that was my segue into saying that this cocktail is a process. I saw it posted on The Table Set podcast and I knew I wanted it. It takes about a week of patience. The creator, Nathan Hazard (great name), calls it the December Dilemma and I am calling my minor adaptation December Do. As in “just do it”. Do. DO.

Normally the minute I see a cocktail that requires an infusion, or making a big batch of some alcohol I can only fathom using in one or two instances, I eschew the idea of making it. But I could not run away from this. It was too perfect for the season.

I adore wine. I adore cranberries. And bourbon. And I am madly, madly in love with Campari. You can run off down darkened alleys with Aperol and claim it is preferable all you want, but Aperol will take your money and run.

Campari will be there. Ready to amuse you with it’s bitter wit and dazzle you with it’s colorful personality.

So even though this recipe involves handmade wine-sugar-infused cranberries in lieu of my adored Luxardo cherries, and cranberry-infused-Campari, I could not resist because I began to imagine the many delights I could make with what I decided to call Lux-erries and Cran-pari.

I had to adapt a bit. I wanted to get cracking the night I saw this and it felt too late to be running to the store so I did not use the Manischewitz wine. Instead I used a lovely Ravenswood Zin. I also did not feel like laying out the funds for the Punt e Mes so I used a slightly smaller amount of Martini and Rossi Rosso vermouth plus a bit of regular Campari.

Heaven can be yours if you wait.

December Do barely adapted from this recipe on The Table Set
Starting a week ahead make your:
Cran-pari:
1 cup cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water
3 cups Campari
Heat the cranberries, sugar, and water over medium until the berries start to pop. Let them cool then add to a jar with the Campari. Store in a cool and dark dungeon like your refrigerator and shake daily for a week. Then strain two times. I strained from the jar into a wide-mouthed glass measuring cup with a spout, then placed the strainer over a funnel and funneled into the original Campari bottle.
Also make:
Lux-erries
1 cup cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups red wine, I used Zinfandel
Heat the red wine until it is reduced by half. Add sugar and heat and stir until it is well dissolved and you have a lovely syrup-y wine. Add cranberries and allow to cool. Allow about a week in a cool dark place, shaking occasionally if the cranberries are rising way over the wine.
For The Drink:
1 1/2 oz. Bulleit Rye
1 oz. Cran-Pari
3/4 oz. Martini & Rossi Rosso
1/4 oz. Campari
Lux-erries
orange zest
Stir the rye, cran-pari, vermouth, and campari in a chilled mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a Lux-erry or so. Run the orange peel around the rim, squeeze it over the drink and discard. Or don’t. Do what ya feel.