Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Lump of Coal...

This is one of the most unbelievable (yet wonderful) moments on television in recent memory. The tears are still drying on my hot cheeks - and, no, I haven't been drinking.

I raise a glass to this British diamond in the rough with a simple, timeless classic, like him. A glass of French champagne.

What a Holloween costume! It's an operatic phenomenon disguised as a cell phone salesman. Pure, utter amazing beauty...

Sipster Submission - Crush Time

I am excited to bring you The Liquid Muse contributors, from time to time. I’m fortunate to meet other writers who share similar interests and generously relay their intoxicating tales with us!

This story comes from Shannon Kelley Gould, who lives and drinks wine in Santa Barbara, California, where she is an associate editor, columnist, and photographer at the Santa Barbara Independent. Her work has appeared in the Arizona Republic, Woman’s Day, and Vanity Fair.

Crush Time

My skills as a wine drinker may be undisputed, but, as I learned during my one-day stint on the other side of the bottle, as a winemaker, well, not so much.

During my day at Jaffurs Winery, which was deep in the throes of Harvest, I narrowly escaped falling into a bin of fermenting Bien Nacido Syrah grapes while trying to wipe down the fruit clinging to the bin’s sides. I inhaled a whiff of the nosehair-incinerating carbon-dioxide-and-alcohol combo emanating from said grapes so potent it nearly knocked me into said bin. And I shot myself in the face with a hose whose nozzle, it must be stated, suffered from recklessly
counterintuitive design. And all that before lunch. On the upside, I learned the proper pairing for pizza. Among this crowd, anyway, pepperoni goes perfectly with Syrah: in particular, Jaffurs’ 05 Ampelos and Alban’s ’96 Edna Valley.

It was a busy, seven-ton harvest day at Jaffurs, a small production winery in downtown Santa Barbara that specializes in Rhone varietals, and the winemakers were literally up to their eyeballs in grapes—which may serve to explain why even my novice hands were appreciated. We spent the morning tending the already fermenting grapes harvested earlier in the week, and, after the pressing down, wiping down, and covering up was complete, moved on.

Destemming was up next, and—like lots of things-- it’s done a little differently at Jaffurs. A small-scale operation can take the extra time to hand-pick out any errant stems, leaves, or garden pests from the grapes spit out by the destemming machine, and doing so proved to be great, grape-scented (and –stained) fun. I stationed myself under the churning machinery, and pretended I knew what I was doing as bin after bin of the chilly fruit cascaded down. The crew grew to include Ampelos’ vineyards’ owner Peter Work—delivering cool-climate Syrah grapes from his Santa Rita Hills vineyard, many of which had been picked that morning by a few of Jaffurs’ devoted workhorses-- and several handfuls of leisurely tasters, stopping by for a sip and sticking around long enough to be smitten by the process. One even asked me if I worked there. (Needless to say, she wasn’t privy to the hose-in-the-face debacle.)

At the end of the day, my hands, my clothes, and my shoes were purpled, which was a nice break for my teeth. A break that was remedied soon enough.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Liquid Muse Detox Diet

If you think my cleanse is liquor-free, you are sooo very mistaken. The Liquid Muse "Sustainable Sips" cocktail presentations in Seattle drew inspiration from Method Home eco-friendly cleaning products.

During their month-long promotion, Method encouraged detox-ing the home by throwing out cleaning products made with unhealthy chemicals, and replacing them with their eco-friendly line.

The Liquid Muse “Sustainable Sips” class focuses on using organic or “all natural” spirits, mixers, herbs, fruits and vegetables to create luscious libations which take the “toxic” out of “intoxication!”

I created four drinks to complement a stylish, sustainable lifestyle using cucumber, grapefruit, lavender, almond and mint to share with all the ladies who attended the classes.

Just as the ladies chucked out the Ajax and other chemical-based cleaning products, I also encouraged them to toss out the bottled sweet-n-sour and Rudolph nose-colored maraschino cherries. These holiday drinks are perfect for eco- and organic- minded party animals!

Cherry Almond Champagne Cocktail

3/4 ounce Casal Dos Jordoes Tawny Port (made from organically-grown grapes)
3 or 4 ounces Can Vendrell Cava Brut Reserva (made from organically-grown grapes)

2 teaspoon organic sugar

4-5 drops organic almond extract

1 sour cherry

Sugar-rim a chilled champagne flute by rubbing rim with a lime, then dipping into sugar. Pour one teaspoon of sugar into bottom of flute, then add almond extract. Drop in sour cherry. Gently pour in port, then top with cava.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Method Mojito

1 heaping tablespoon organic cucumber
1 heaping tablespoon of diced organic lime
1 heaping teaspoon organic Agave nectar
6-7 torn mint leaves
1 1/2 ounces Square One Organic Vodka
All natural Fever Tree sparkling bitter lemon soda

Muddle cucumber, Agave nectar and mint leaves in tall glass. Pour in vodka. Top with soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint or lime wheel.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Lavender Grapefruit Martini

1 1/2 ounces Square One Organic Vodka
1 heaping teaspoon organic lavender-honey

2 ounces freshly squeezed organic grapefruit juice

1 dash Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters*

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed organic lime juice

1 organic edible flower

Pour honey into mixing glass, add vodka. Stir until honey dissolves. Add grapefruit juice, lime juice, bitters and ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an edible flower or lime wheel. *bitters are optional

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Green” Harvest Sangria
organic figs, pears, apples, red grapes
Square One organic vodka

Organic pear nectar

organic chardonnay

Finely chop figs, pears, apples and grapes. Put into bowl or Tupperware container and add a half-inch of each pear nectar and vodka. Let marinate several hours. When ready to serve, spoon one tablespoon of fruit mixture into each glass, and top with Bonterra. Garnish with pear slice or fig on the rim of the glass.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Introducing: Toasting Coasts

I am excited to introduce you Sipsters to Liza Weisstuch, a Boston-based scribe who contributes to the Boston Globe. Her writing on cocktails, dining, design, theater and other indulgences also appear in The Boston Phoenix, Boston Magazine, DailyCandy, and in an upcoming issue of Imbibe Magazine. Now, she is also an East Coast correspondent for The Liquid Muse, and generously sharing wonderful tid-bits from the Left Coast, where many cocktailian thrills are had. Below is Liza’s first article for us, so settle in for an intoxicating spin around the Boston Harbor, and raise a glass to the lovley ladies of LUPEC (preferably using the cocktail recipe at the end of this piece!)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The cityscape sparkled along the Boston Harbor. On a recent crisp October night, the law-abiding urban dwellers going about their business in those buildings were completely oblivious to the sultry mischief the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endagered Cocktails were instigating. If you walked along the wharf and listened hard, you could hear some jazzy riffs and raucous laughter drifting from the seemingly unremarkable Louisiana Riverboat bobbing gently on the water. Gentle, however, was hardly the word inside. In upper deck quarters that looked like a downtown gin joint by way of the Love Boat, it was an all-out blowout – LUPEC style.

The LUPEC Boston Tea Party, a fundraiser coordinated by the organization’s Boston chapter, would have warmed the cockles of Dorothy Parker’s heart – and put some fire in her belly. The group’s ten members lassoed some of the city’s finest bartenders and chefs and fashioned a bona fide (albeit provisional) speakeasy on the boat – at least if the records of the era maintained by New Yorker columnist Morris Markey are any measure. Of a Wall Street secret watering hole, he wrote about the time warp effect prompted by “six white-coated fellows flinging the shakers up and down lustily to the tune of rattling ice….while the faintly sweet aroma of gin floated back through the crowd pressed against the rail.” Indeed, the faintly sweet smell of gin – not to mention whiskey – hung heavy in the air. And Golden Age glam ruled as revelers sported feathered headpieces, flapper-esque dresses, mink wraps, bobs and scarlet lipstick. (Sorry, guys, the ladies outdid you.) The debonair bartenders mixed up some serious vintage moxie – Bronx cocktails and Scoff-Law cocktails. Everything was offered in teacups, of course. How else to keep it on the DL?

Also among the tipples was the Flapper Jane, a concoction invented by the LUPEC broads (see recipe below). The Ladies are no neophytes when it comes to creating recipes. Founded in February by Misty “Hanky Panky” Kalkofen, bar manager at Green Street, a Cambridge neighborhood restaurant where the bar has a decidedly old school slant, Boston’s is the fifth LUPEC chapter. The group began in Pittsburgh with the mission of “Dismantling the patriarchy…one drink at a time.” Now each chapter has its own strategy for broadcasting women’s role in the history of spirits – and, by turn, the country. The Boston gals meet once a month around a particular theme and sample – and often create – relevant cocktails. Lest this be construed as your standard girls-night-out cocktail frenzy, take note that they study up on influential grand dames at each gathering. Creativity led them to create a gin cocktail that won a cocktail contest on salon.com; scholarly pursuits led them to exhume an article that ran in the New Republic in 1925 heralding the arrival of the new socialite, Flapper Jane; and social consciousness drove them to raise over $4000 at the Tea Party to donate to Jane Doe Inc, a nonprofit devoted to ending domestic violence and sexual assault.

And so at another historic Tea Party, another social mission was accomplished, (though thankfully nothing was hurled overboard this time around.) The night wore on, but few seemed to wear out. After all, everyone was fueled by the real McCoy.

While Fancy Brandy worked the crowd hawking LUPEC unmentionables and raffle tickets from a contraption reminiscent a burlesque cigarette girl, Kalkofen dashed about attending to her drink – and a few logistics. “Everyone’s saying ‘I couldn’t find the boat.’ It’s a speakeasy -- you have to look harder! And everyone’s asking ‘Can I take this on the dock?’” Kalkofen shrugged. “It’s in a teacup, isn’t it?”

Flapper Jane
1 3/4 oz Plymouth Gin
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

3/4 oz Wu Wei infused Simple Syrup

dash of Peychaud Bitters

Shake in a cocktail shaker, strain into a cocktail glass, and toast your own fabulousness!
(Their exclamation mark.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Moms Detox Seattle

With a little help from Method and The Liquid Muse...

Ok, well, I just plied them with drinks, and gave some tips in The Liquid Muse "Sustainable Sips" cocktail class. Method gave the hipster mom bloggers eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Together, we left Seattle a little cleaner, if not a little tipsy. Read the moms' review here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mixology Monday - A Little Sustenance with the Sauce...

You Won't Leave This Party Hungry!

Wow! What an awesome response to MixMo! This is the first time I’ve hosted one, and I have to admit that it was a little daunting to come up with a theme. So, I went with my heart (or maybe it was my stomach…) and chose a topic which increasingly intrigues me…

Cocktail and food pairings are a creative way to individualize each person’s dining experience. For example, four dinner companions may order four very different meals – in fact, so different that one bottle of wine wouldn’t work for every meal. I’m sure you’ll all be impressed with the many mout-watering suggestions below. Pull up a chair, tie a napkin around your neck, grab a glass and hold on tight! It’s MixMo!

I always like to begin a dinner party with a little bubbly. The “pop” of a champagne cork always sets the mood! I recently created a cocktail for the launch of Napa’s Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé. (I'll be getting a professional photo of this cocktail but haven’t yet, so I “borrowed” this pic from Starchefs, as it looks a teesy bit, kinda sorta similar.)

Cocktail: Bouquet of Rosé

1/2 ounce Scence Rose Nectar
4 ounces Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé
spritz of rose water

Sprig of fresh lavender

Spritz a chilled champagne bowl* (or martini glass) with rose water. Pour in rose nectar and Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé.

Aromatic Garnish:
Lay a sprig of fresh lavender across the top of the glass.
*Because aromatics are an essential ingredient in this cocktail, a wide-mouthed glass is preferable.

Pairing: The LA launch party began at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and it was served with wonderful little lobster canapés, oysters and mini truffle risottos.

Drumroll Please... Here are everyone's submissions for a tasty meal from around the globe (including an encore performance). Cheers! Skol! Prost! Salud! (and Bon Apetit!)

Before Dinner:

Whet your appetite with a favorite bar snack! Darcy O’Neil brings a little science to the Art of Drink pairing, featuring his Light Green Fizz with Pretzels.

Hors D’oeuvres:

Anna at Morsels and Musings sent in this super cool round up of cocktail pairings with canapes at bars around Sydney, Australia. The pear-influenced martini with tuna ceviche sounds bloody fantastic, mate!


Craig (aka: Dr. Bamboo) managed to send over a little “food porn.” I mean, am I really alone in getting all hot-and-bothered over Celery & Stilton Soup? Sexy it up even more with a martini: shaken, not stirred…


A big, whopping to Happy Birthday to Jeffrey Morgenthaler who took time out of his celebration to send in his MixMo pairing. Such skill! Such dedication. You may be getting on in age, Jeffrey, but at least ya ain’t losin’ your touch, old buddy.


I love salmon – and never had it wrapped in Parma ham… but now that I’ve read Jay Hepburn’s pairing, I can’t wait to try it with this “Martini Variation.” Oh gosh! A Jolly good idea, I dare say!

BlaireTrader TikiReynolds sends us this exotic poisson cru and a tiki cocktail. (It gave me fantasies of running off to the South Pacific.)

Paul Clarke, Granddaddy of the MixMo, out did himself, as usual, with this salmon kedgeree and cocktail pairing (using one of the new ginger liqueurs, too)… Nobody chronicles the joy of cocktails like Cocktail Chronicles.

How about a little Absinthe? That's what Jamie Boudreau has used in the Dutchess cocktail paired with prawns over at Spirits and Cocktails.


Bar Mix Master, Brad Ellis represents The Big Easy in this month’s MixMo by pairing a twist on a Manhattan with Pastalaya. Wondering what the heck that is? Find out here.


In Cocktail Land, we know Shawn by his drink blog, Rejiggered. Well, this Clarke Kent-like 'lawyer-by-day-blogger-by-night ' has now added a food blog to his repertoire. Get the low down on his MixMo drink at the usual spot, and the recipe for the intoxicating sauce (as in for the steak, not the glass) at The Biased Cut.

Deb Ward tempts and teases those of us who are hungry in L.A. with her food blog: Let’s Order / Dinner at Six. I extend a sunny So-Cal welcome to this first-time MixMo “purist.”

Anita & Cameron at Married With Dinner share more than a blissful life together. They also both have a passion for all that’s meaty, slathered and shaken.

He got me at: “Jalapeño short ribs, marinated in pomegranate molasses and bourbon, and mac and cheese.” Then, he paired it with whiskey. And, there is so much more! Feast on course after course of pairings with Michael Dietsch at A Dash of Bitters.


Gwen is our online Goddess who oversees the sun, moon and stars when it comes to pairing cocktails with astrology at Intoxicating Zodiac. In this post, she worked a little tofu into MixMo. (You can also learn how to ward off those pesky deer...)

Got No Freakin' Idea What This is But I'm Sure It's Good:

I am honored to present the first MixMo entry in a language other than English! Christian, from Bavaria, Germany, sent us this drink pairing featuring “wodka” and some other stuff, measured in centiliters, no less.


Let’s top this all off with an elegant dessert from Dominik MJ, the Opinionated Alchemist. Here’s a hint: there’s a gin-hibiscus infusion and lemon… well, just check it out for yourselves!

You’ll want to get Sloshed with Marleigh RigginsCookie Martini (to go with a Chocolate Dipped Harvest Biscotti, no less!)

Drop off to sleep tonight with a big, fat smile and dream of a million fuzzy little sheep after Cynthia Closkey’s Hot Toddy and Oatmeal cookie. It makes me long for snow in North Hollywood, just so I can snuggle by a fire with this cozy pairing.

Midnight Snack:

Former Smirnoff Mixologist, Cameron Bogue, is blogging his bike tour through Latin America - on a motorcycle - at MotoTails. Don’t hate him because he’s living the beautiful life. Just eat and drink vicariously through his MixMo entry. (Just try not to cry when you finish reading about his adventures, and you’re still sitting in that cubicle…)

But Wait... There's More!

Erik at Egullet was kind enough to send over a whole slew of pairings their readers sent in. Don’t touch that dial. These are awesome!

eGullet member bostonapothecary mused over food and cocktail pairings, remembering a fairly successful combination of Carolina pulled pork sandwiches and Mojitos.

Peter the eater
recalled an odd device which allowed him to carbonate any alcoholic beverages. One of his favorites was carbonated port wine served with blue cheese.

Natter suggested pairing rich foods with high acid cocktails.

Katie Loeb (aka KatieLoeb) detailed a recent dinner where she paired cocktails with each course.

Erik Ellestad (aka eje) took a predictable route, pairing the vermouth and sherry based Bamboo with cheese and nuts.

Andy Arrington (aka thirtyoneknots) has had some luck pairing a cucumber, lemon, and gin combination he calls "Scottish Cool" with a sashimi trio.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Today is Mixology Monday!

If you have not yet emailed me your contribution of cocktail - food pairings, please do so today!!!

I'm compiling an intriguing list of cocktail bloggers' and food bloggers' pairings. (So cool to get everyone together.) Not sure where some of my cocktail blogger buddies went for this one... Camper? Paul? Darcy? Jeffrey? Gwen? Rick? Where you at?

I'm going post today's MxMo tomorrow, so everyone has a chance to get their link emailed over...

Chow! I mean, "Ciao." (This pairings thing is making me hungry!)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mixing New Orleans!

Any cocktail lover knows that New Orleans is a mecca for spirits, of all kinds. I became acquainted with many fantastic cocktail books while attending the fifth annual Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, in July. However, the one that really grabbed my attention and pulled at my cocktail-loving heart strings was Mixing New Orleans.

The cocktail was invented in New Orleans, so this book, which shares wonderful old classic cocktail recipes, also educates the reader about the people behind the drinks. It provides an insiders peek into the places and lore surrounding this darkly intriguing and colorfully exuberant drinking city!

Author, Jennifer Adams spent weeks bouncing from shadowy bar to rowdy pub, from historic inn to luxury hotel and she interviewed bartenders, bar owners and barflies along the way. She takes us on a fascinating journey spanning centuries across the streets of The Big Easy. Jenny’s enthusiasm for the topic and editorial experience (Assoc. Editor for Nightclub & Bar Magazine, and writes the monthly “Hip to Sip” for Greater New Orleans Living Magazine) spins decades of cocktail history into tasty little digestible sips. (pictured here: myself and Jenny)

New Orleans is a city with an unwavering soul, and in the face of recent challenges the people and culture prevail. The “cocktail” is so integrated into the city’s identity that without a Sazerac, Pimm’s Cup or historical ties to Absinthe, New Orleans would be missing some of the most intriguing characters – and late night adventures – that make it the complex web of eccentricity that it is!

(Hey Santa! This is the kind of book you buy for yourself, and then throw in another copy for a friend.)

Laissez les bons temps rouler! (hiccup!)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mixology Monday!

Giving Notice for Last Call...

By the time you read this, Mix Mo will be less than 48 hours away. Email me your cocktail and its food pairing to be included in our online cocktail party. Don't know what I'm talking about? Read this.

(and in case you need a nudge, my email is: natalie@theliquidmuse.com).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Have You Gone Platino?

There was a time when a ‘gold card’ was the symbol of success. Businessmen would whip it out to impress colleagues and clients, women would flaunt it like a 10-carat diamond. If you had a gold card, you were a hotshot.

Enter the platinum card. Suddenly keeping up with the Joneses meant trading in the golden hue for something that looked like silver … but was worth a lot more.

Now, let’s talk tequila.

I still enjoy the warm, molten gold of a rich añejo. The cognac-like qualities of a fine, aged sipping tequila will make it a staple in my bar forever. However, I’ve taken note of today’s tequila connoisseurs’ growing appreciation for a 100% Agave platino.

At first glance, the clear liquid looks like a freshly fermented silver tequila, or even a slightly ‘rested’ reposado. Under more scrutiny, the contents of the bottle seem to have a sharper transparency than a usual clear fluid. There is an almost mercurial-type sheen to the surface of the fluid.
Then there’s the flavor...

Platino (or platinum) tequila is so rich and authentic, so deeply rooted in the earth, so 100% ‘puro Mexicano,’ that once it has passed the lips, and permeated the palate, it is hard to imagine making a favorite margarita recipe with anything else, ever again.

My first platinum tequila experience was enhanced by the gold star atmosphere. Riding a shuttle from where I valet-ed my car to the Hollywood hilltop mansion, with an expansive view of the city at sunset, it became clear that this was no collegiate “shots and poppers” crowd.

Upon debarking the shuttle, we were presented tequila cocktails. A sucker for the bubbly, I was quite impressed at how tequila actually worked in this Mexican version of a classic champagne cocktail, Jose Cuervo Platino's sparkler, the Platino 96:

1 1/2 oz Jose Cuervo Platino
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Dash of Angostura Bitters

3 Mint Leaves

3 oz sparkling wine

Muddle 2 mint leaves and simple syrup in mixing glass. Add Jose Cuervo Platino, bitters and ice, then shake and strain into a chilled flute. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a mint leaf.

Sparkling tequila drink in hand, I wandered the ground, marveling at a living space seemingly built with only entertaining in mind. The house itself has been featured in multitudes of magazines, and many celebrities have been photographed there. This layout of Pamela Anderson was shot at the house, as have numerous others of playmates, models, rockstars and actors.

The all glass living room had built-in leather banquettes, which could seat about 40 - and we walked across a clear fiberglass bridge over a Koi pond to get there from the main

Judging by the Austin Powers-fabulous glass walled bedrooms overlooking the awe-inspiring vista, the hilltop dwelling has seen its share of paparazzi-stalked, ‘what-happens-here-stays-here’ soirees.

The next cocktail in the sampling line up was not so pleasant. The Platino Dirty Martini sounded a little cliché – but intriguing. Tequila mixes so well with many flavors, however it became quickly apparent that olive juice is not one of them
. I hope to never sip those two things from the same glass again.

Pursuant to the cocktail hour, we sat down at a beautifully decorated dinner table dotted with cactus centerpieces. For those who don’t know, agave is a cactus-like succulent desert plant, similar to an aloe, from which tequila is made. Read more of my agave coverage in this blog post from last year.

The guest of honor was Juan Domingo Beckmann, the 10th generation descendant of Jose Cuervo. For more than two centuries, the traditions of making Cuervo tequila have been passed along through the family line. In addition to running the Cuervo empire, Domingo Beckman is passionate about the economic evolution of his homeland, and has been president of Mexico’s Consejo de la Comunicación (advocating integrity and honesty in Mexico), since 2004.

The meal paired a wonderful little raw vegetable appetizer, then seabass or steak, and finally dulce de leche flan with tequila cocktails. To me, the skill of pairing cocktail and food has a lot to do with an understanding of a balanced drink, and not letting them get too sweet for the dish. The Platino Fresco was nice with the fish because the citrus helped cut the sweet of the St. Germain elderflower liqueur. I would have gone slightly less sweet for a main-dish cocktail, were it up to me… Still, I enjoyed the drink and would enjoy sipping it on its own. Here’s the recipe, should you like to try it:

1 oz Jose Cuervo Platino
1/2 oz St. Germain
2 slices of Cucumber
3 Mint Leaves

1 oz Grapefruit Juice

Muddle cucumber, mint and St. Germain. Add grapefruit juice and Jose Cuervo Platino. Shake, with ice. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with cucumber slice.

I was a tequila-lover going into this dinner, and I came away with a sincere appreciation for the onslaught of ‘platinum’ tequilas hitting the shelves. And, I can assure you, after experimenting with a bottle of my very own Jose Cuervo Platino, it will appear in many of my upcoming recipes!

(Let the Joneses keep up with me - and my platinum tequila!)

"Official" photos courtesy of: Lever & Fulcrum Photography for Joe Moller Events, with additional photography generously shared by fellow food / spirits writer (and dinner guest): Karen Loftus
Fall Harvest Cocktail Trend

An Apple A Day...

Enjoy these seasonal concoctions around the country. Blue Velvet and Absinthe are already a couple of my favorite cocktail spots in California. I'd love to hear if any of you try out these other places!

Blue Velvet
(Los Angeles) - features the Mela Mela on their specialty Market Cocktail menu: Jona Gold Apples (fresh from the Farmer’s Market), muddled with a dash of sugar and a squeeze of lemon and topped with Hennessey Cognac and Champagne

California Café (Los Gatos) – serves guests the Piping Hot Apple Pie: House made spiced apple cider, Tuaca, and fresh whipped cream

Cyrus (Healdsburg) – features the Almost Autumn Apple: Germain-Robin Apple Brandy, Ginger, Lemon Juice, Nanna Mae's Apple Juice, Sonoma Sparkler Apple Cider, Apple Foam, and Spice Baked Apple Chip

Absinthe (San Francisco) – offers guests Jonny's Apple Seed: Calvados, Apple syrup (fresh made), Lemon juice, Granny Smith apples and Sparkling rose

Michael Smith (Kansas City) – serves the Spiced Apple Cocktail: Van Gogh Apple Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Hot apple cider, Cinnamon –caramel hot foam, and a Cinnamon stick garnish

Plan B Bar + Kitchen (Chicago) – features the Plan B Loaded Cider: Spiced rum, Butterscotch Schnapps, Hot apple cider and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Celebrity Sips - From Rio to Saigon

South American culture has been taking the U.S. by storm for a while, now. Whether Snoop and Farrell are singing about the ‘beautiful’ women in Rio, or celebrities on Dancing With the Stars proudly prance the Argentinian Tango - we love to take in all that’s spicy and Latin!

Cachaca (sugar cane liqueur, the main ingredient in a Caipirinha) is now offered upscale drinking venues across the U.S., and American bartenders are learning to put a little shimmy in their shaking.

I first read about Cabana Cachaca in an article in last month’s Departure Magazine. And, then it started popping up in the hands of celebrities, all over the place - like rapper, Saigon, for example. Maybe its time to put a little spice in your life.
Dirty Girls Come Clean in Seattle!

Have you heard of a Method Maven? Well, I'm about to meet a whole gaggle of them!

The Method Mavens are dedicated to eco-friendly ways of raising their families. They promote a sustainable lifestyle via their blogs and their purchases... all the way down to how they clean their homes.

Method Home
(cleaning products) has hired me to teach The Liquid Muse "Sustainable Sips" Organic Cocktail Class in Seattle during their month-long eco event. I will be showing the Method Mavens, and their friends, how to incorporate sustainable / organic products into their cocktails! (Eat organic, drink organic, I say!)

The original cocktail recipes I've created for these classes reflect ingredients in the Method products. Cucumber, grapefruit, mint, almond are highlighted. And, I'm using some of my favorite organic wines and spirits: Bonterra chardonnay, Can Vendrell cava, Casal dos Jordoes port, Square One Organic vodka and Fever Tree bitter lemon as a mixer.

As the ladies enter the house, they're instructed to "turn in" their toxic home cleaners, in exchange for Method's eco-friendly products. While at the house, they're treated to a series of sustainable classes and seminars. In addition to The Liquid Muse "Sustainable Sips", there will be organic cooking classes and other fun activities with Danny Seo (often called the "Organic Martha Stewart").

I look forward to meeting these go-getter ladies who have been selected by Method to represent a stylish and sustainable approach to life. Let's face it, we all have to "come clean" sometime...

Monday, October 08, 2007

In The Mood For a Little Afternoon Delight on Humpday?

Experience the Dutch gin Seducing Angelenos in Downtown on Wednesday, October 10.

Damrak’s LA launch party and cocktail competition kicks off at 4:30 pm at Takami Sushi & Robata Restaurant (and Elevate Lounge). And guess what - this event is FREE and open to the public. The panel of celebrated judges will pick out the best concoctions, and you will get to taste them – and enjoy discounted Damrak cocktails.

Damrak is praised for its citrusy tones, and getting praise across the internet. So, this is a great opportunity to taste the next hot gin before everyone else tells you about it!

(Insider tip: Rumor has it that Carmen Electra is hitting Takami that evening… so if gorgeous Playboy playmates-turned-actress/models are your idea of the “perfect garnish” to a yummy cocktail, you may want to keep your eyes peeled…)
Mixology Monday - Coming Monday, October 15!

Get in on the Action...

I am excited to host October's MixMo. For those who don't know, Mixology Monday is the brainchild of our pal, Paul Clarke at Cocktail Chronicles. We cocktail bloggers / bartenders / Mixologists / cocktail enthusiasts across the internet have a little "cocktail party" of sorts. One blogs hosts each month, and chooses a theme.

Everyone who wants to be involved posts an appropriate drink on their own blog, then emails the host, who compiles a list, with links. The host then posts MixMo in its entirety on their blog for the world to read about all of the wild and wonderful cocktails everyone has presented.

With the holidays coming up, I thought it would be fun to focus on food pairings. Over the last year, or so, I've become a big fan of cocktail pairings... here are a few of the latest reasons why:

While in London, a few weeks ago, I had the honor of experiencing mind-blowing savory cocktails made by Bombay Sapphire's Europe-based Mixologist, Jamie Walker. After touring an immense gourmet herb garden on the grounds of Manoir aux Quat'Saisons (a Relais & Chateaux property in Oxford, England), Jamie gave us a cocktail demonstration featuring ingredients like beets, fresh herbs and morel mushrooms. Incredible. And, these "gourmet cocktails" pair incredibly well with world class food. (The restaurant at has two michelin stars, I might add... more on that to come in a future post.)

I've also recently enjoyed a glamorous dinner at a Hollywood mansion atop a hill, hosted by Jose Cuervo to show off their Platino (platinum) tequila. It was very eye-opening for me to try the variety of cocktails, made with tequila, that went nicely with passed canapes, Chilean seabass and dulce de leche flan. The drinks paired particularly well with the bird's eye view of Los Angeles stretching for miles below us. (more on that coming soon, too...)

I also tried bourbon cocktails paired with barbeque (talk about a perfect pairing!) at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, a couple of weeks ago. Yum! (I've written a bit about that here and there's more to come.)

All of this to give you an idea that cocktails and food go well together. Whether you choose gin, tequila, vodka, whiskey or something else, don't be afraid to get creative.

I'm hoping that this MixMo will entice some of our food blogger friends to get in on the action, too!

I suggest that you present a cocktail - name, ingredients and photo - and also give an idea of what kind of food (or a specific dish) it pairs well with.

Cheers - and Bon Apetit!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Let’s Toast the “Little Guys!”

I met Amy Christine at the mediabistro.com offices in Los Angeles when I took her wine tasting class. Who better to learn from than a kick-ass chick sommelier and wine maker?

As you can see in this photo, Amy and her guy, Peter, are an adorable couple with a shared passion for fermenting grapes. Their break-out vintage is the 2005 Hocus Pocus (how appropriate with Halloween just around the corner…)

Well, these two, being Angelenos and all, made a little movie about their oenological adventures. Just for kicks, they submitted it to Wine Spectator’s Video Contest – and whaddya know – they’re in the top FIVE!

Watch the videos in competition here (don’t forget to vote for your favorite...) and check out Amy and Peter's MySpace page here.

These little guys’ dedication to their DIY winemaker dreams make them Big Shots, as far as I’m concerned!