Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bling in the New Year with Luxaholics and The Liquid Muse

Is your 2009 all about luxury? Are you on a crusade to the cush-life? Will you be living la vida loca? Well, then, be sure to check out The Liquid Muse Luxury Cocktails on Luxaholics - that fabulous website dedicated to all things luxurious and lovely... Here's to 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Have Your Cake And Drink It, Too!

My mom makes her infamous rum cake for every holiday. It is everyone's favorite and we just don't have a true celebration without it. This year, Bacardi sent out their own rum cake recipe and I have to say that it looks like it comes pretty close to my 'dear ole mom's.' Whether it is or not, their rum cake recipe might just tempt you to take a sip, I mean, a bite. Oh heck - both!

BACARDI® Rum and Nut Cake with Glaze

: ½ cup BACARDI® Gold Rum
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 – 18 ½ oz. pkg. yellow cake mix
1 – 3 ½ oz. pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup cold water

Preheat oven to 325º˚F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan or 10-cup tube pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, BACARDI® Gold Rum, oil and water. Using an electric mixer, beat at low speed until moistened. Beat at high speed 2 minutes. Pour batter over nuts. Bake 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes, then invert onto serving plate.

GLAZE: ½ cup BACARDI® Gold Rum
½ stick butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in sugar, water and BACARDI® Gold Rum. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Prick top of the cake with a fork. Spoon and brush glaze evenly over the top and sides. Allow cake to absorb glaze. Repeat until all glaze is absorbed.

Take A Hint!

If you want better health this new year, start with the basics… and what is more basic than good old H2O? Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Water is so… blah. I want FLAVOR. But I don’t want sugar, sodium, artificial sweeteners or colorings.” Well, folks, I have just the thing…

Hint Water comes in 13 flavors ranging from watermelon to mint to hibiscus vanilla. My favorite is the pomegranate-tangerine and the mint is refreshing. I was less enthusiastic about the pear but that doesn't mean that you won't like it. Give it a whirl. At only $1.79 per bottle, its worth a try.

If you are looking to reduce your waistline this year but don't want to give up cocktails, mix Hint into a low-cal treat by adding a splash of vodka and citrus juice. It is now available in supermarkets such as Ralph’s – so everyone can get the Hint!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Its Not Too Late for Nogtails!

Didn’t get your fill of eggnog this holiday season? Never fear! These two delicious egg nog cocktails (which I’ve coined “nogtails”) come to us from Mixologist Chris Hannah at the legendary French 75 Bar at Arnaud's restaurant in New Orleans.

These contemporary versions of traditional eggnog recipes use one of my favorite new Spanish brandies Gran Duque de Alba Solera Gran Reserva, from Jerez, the only AOC for brandy in Spain. This brandy is rich and nutty, layered with spice and aged for 12 years in oak casks. It has a long finish and warms the body from inside, out. Gran Duque has won gold medals from both the San Francisco International Spirits Competition and the Beverage Tasting Institute’s International Reivew of Spirits.

Spanish Nog
1/2 ounce Gran Duque de Alba
1/2 ounce Dry Sack sherry
1 whole fresh egg, beatn
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce Half and Half
1 ounce heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain over ice in an old fashioned glass. Top with ground nutmeg.

Velvet Egg Nog
1/2 ounce Gran Duque de Alba
1 ounce Peppermint Schnapps
1 ounce Frangelico
1 whole fresh egg, beaten
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce Half and Half
1 ounce heavy whipping cream
Dash of nutmeg

Combine ingredients over ice in a rocks glass. Top with ground nutmeg.
Guest Writer – Travel Buzz

Eating Chicago: Windy City Fare
by Elyse Glickman

Chicago is changing the way foodies experience dining in the Midwest.
In the late 1970s, The Taste of Chicago—mother of all food, wine and entertainment festivals—did more than create a template for foodie celebrations worldwide. It also sparked a transformation that took the Windy City from a beer, hot dog and pizza town into an innovative restaurant capital. Vienna hot dogs and deep dish pizza still delight locals and visitors but, today, the typical Chicago neighborhoods and steakhouses are evolving as residents’ palates become more cosmopolitan:

Upmarket Chic-ago

Aigre Doux: In French, Doux means “sweet,” which not only represents chef/owners Mohammed Islam’s and Malika Ameen’s approach to ingredient-specific dishes and presentation, but also their love affair. While Ameen toiled at Balthazar and Craft in New York City, Islam was at Jean Georges and Mercer Kitchen. Their acclaim brought them both to Los Angeles where they held court at Chateau Marmont. After years in the spotlight on the coasts, they’ve opened their own restaurant in Chicago boasting modern yet romantic décor with an impeccably balanced menu. Diners’ taste buds pick out subtle flavors and unique nuances in dishes such as the Caramelized Cauliflower Soup; White Asparagus with a gently truffled poached egg; and Pan Seared Black Cod (an Asian preparation that nimbly avoids the trap of too much sticky miso). Ameen’s citywide reputation as one of the best bakers and ice cream makers (dairy and non-dairy) shines with The Sticky Toffee Pudding with Devonshire cream sorbet (Christmas on a plate), and the seasonal Rhubarb Oat Crisp is a refreshing treat when topped with simple almond milk ice cream. And if this couple’s shared passion for food weren’t enough, Sommelier Meredith Elliott’s matchmaking with her inspired wine list seals the evening with a kiss.

Dine: While many ambitious urban restaurants across America lay claim to “homestyle cooking with a modern twist,” Dine actually succeeds at reconciling that appealing concept with what comes out of the kitchen. The old-school Chicago diner is punched up with mod furnishings, eclectic art, historic photos and chic lounge areas, and its familiar menu items are far from ordinary - the meatloaf is a velvety, juicy brick of Angus beef-based goodness accented with garlic spinach, potatoes and savory orange gravy, and the Onion Tart stands out as a savory indulgence. Dine’s desserts include lemon (brioche) bread pudding and a crème brule-singed Valrhona-chocolate flourless cake made that much more special with herbal sorbets that taste as if they were just picked from the garden.

N9NE Steakhouse: With its mod-60s decor, and the contemporary accoutrement (courtesy of Chef Michael Shrader), N9NE is not your parents’ steakhouse. While a small selection of traditional cuts of meat, seafood and sides are featured, creativity sprinkles the menu with a sense of fun. How can you not smile when a N9NE-logo-ed popcorn box filled with rock shrimp adorned with two non-traditional sauces (lemon aioli and hot Thai red sauce, oddly wonderful when mixed) or crispy cones brimming with tuna tartare and lobster salad are presented? After dinner enjoy a cocktail at Ghostbar upstairs. Experiencing a bit of deja-vu? It’s probably because you’ve read about the Las Vegas counterparts at the Palms Casino on The Liquid Muse Blog, last year . However, remember this is Chicago, baby, and what you see is the real deal—good taste in its natural state.

Keefer’s: Although many local reviewers (including Playboy) dubbed Keefer’s one of the best steakhouses in America-and it lives up to the hype-owner Rich Keefer himself emphasizes that the fish dishes created by Chef John Hogan are incredible as well. He and his brother conceived the airy, Frank Lloyd-Wright-esque restaurant where diners delight in dishes such as Halibut, with Dijon Mustard, Brioche Breadcrumbs, Wild Mushroom Sauce and Watercress Coulis. The Broccoli Salad is tossed with apple, fennel and podda cheese, while the artisan tomato salad is punched up with pine nuts. Chocolate fans revel in the Orange-Chocolate Crème Brule or the thin-but-rich Triple Chocolate cake adorned with Honey Chocolate ice cream.

Non-Fancy Fare

Tiffin: If it is curry, spice and silks you crave, visit Devon Avenue’s miles of jewelry stores, sari shops and excellent Indian fare. Tiffin stands out with its extraordinary $9 U.S. lunch buffet entices with oven-fresh nan, zesty curries with killer sauces and flawless, juicy Tandoori Chicken. Making it better still are the airy, decorated dining area and superb service.

Tecalitlan: Tecalitlan scores on all fronts—freshness, quality, service and value—making it one of Chicago’s “Best Kept Secrets.” Hungry? Go all the way with a “Suiza”-style burrito (covered with cheese) dressed up with “cebollitas asadas” (grilled onions) and finish with a strawberry liquada or margarita. Ole! A huge meal for two comes out to less than $20.

MetroKlub: A quick, filling meal between downtown business meetings, minus the guilt? Who knew! MetroKlub combines classic Kosher deli fare, contemporary cuisine and healthy ingredients to create the perfect downtown lunch spot. $5-$18.
The (Deep) Dish on Pizza: Downtown institution Pizzaria Uno is said to be the birthplace of Chicago style pizza but check out these for crunchy, cheesy, piled on, deep dish perfection: Giordano’s, Carmen’s, Eduardo’s and Lou Malnati’s are all winners, whether you crave hearty sausage pizzas or vegetarian varieties (most do superb spinach pies). Other local favorites include Leona’s (famous for their decadent “white” Alfredo pizzas and good thin crusts) and Home Run Inn (a South Side tradition).

Elyse Glickman, who recently shared the wonders of Croatia with The Liquid Muse readers, brings us a taste of her hometown, Chicago (which has one of the largest Croatian communities outside Europe!). In addition to serving as Editor-at-Large for Beverage Industry News, Los Angeles-based Glickman contributes to a wide variety of consumer and trade magazines, including From house to HOME, Wedding Vow, Enchanted Bride, LUCIRE, NUVO,J West, Food & Beverage, La Reppubblica and Fresh Cup. Visit her site for more on her writing and travels (now updated!).

Friday, December 19, 2008

FYI - This is NOT Mixology...

Pursuant to my recent post regaling mixology and what it is, I got this pitch from a PR person, which is the perfect of what mixology is NOT.

Just for shits and giggles, read this recipe, gross out, laugh your ass off, then read the pitch which hails the creator of this drink as a "mixologist," laugh some more. Then sigh. This is why so many people still don't get the difference between a hack slinging schlock and a mixologist. Muddling an orange does not make this a balanced cocktail by any stretch of the imagination. I have nothing against this tequila brand - but having nothing but it and peach schnapps... what self-respecting "mixologist" would serve this with a straight face? And charge $38 for it? Are you out of your freakin' mind? Without further ado:

muddle four slices of orange in a Boston shaker add two ounces Patron Platinum Tequila and 3/4 oz peach schnapps
served up in a double martini glass (chilled)

The PR Pitch for the "sexiest cocktails in the world" ha ha (and I quote): "This cocktail is collaboration between Bruno Jamais and Sommelier Benjamin Maury. Bruno wanted a signature cocktail using his favorite liquor, Patron Platinum. He wanted something strong yet smooth. Bruno liked the way orange flavor is often used to complement tequila using liqueurs such as Cointreau or triple sec but to refine the taste Maury suggested that they use fresh orange instead. The peach schnapps were then added, blending perfectly with the orange while adding a hint of sweetness. Initially this drink was to be served in a glass over crushed ice following the tradition of the Caipirinha but in keeping true to New York style they decided serve it up. Thus, creating the "Platinum Bruno's Martini.""

Yeah, I know. Now that you've laughed, cried, and pulled your jaw off the floor from the audacity of such B.S., go out and make yourself a true cocktail. Or better yet, find yourself a real mixologist to make one for you. xo The Liquid Muse

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Little Souse on the Prairie

Remember the TV show “Little House on the Prairie?” They raised their own food, there were no chemical or artificial colorings or flavorings. Everything was organic because it came straight from nature. With today’s renewed interest in living a healthy life ‘close to the earth’ we seek out organic, seasonal food – so why wouldn’t we do the same with our cocktails?

Prairie vodka is distilled from organic #2 yellow corn, and over 900 Minnesota farmers are stakeholders in the brand. In addition to all that home-grown goodness, it is certified both organic and kosher.

What does it mean to be “organic”? In order for a spirit to be deemed “certified organic” by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) the entire process, from the growing of the grains to bottling must be free of chemical pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified seeds and artificial fertilizers or enzymes.

What does it mean to be “kosher”? Being kosher means that the sources of all ingredients in a spirit are documented and approved, and that the distillation and bottling facilities are clean and hygienic, and all equipment has been properly sterilized prior to the production of each batch of vodka. This ensures that everything from the ingredients to distillation to bottling meets kosher standards for purity and cleanliness.

The flavor is smooth as corn silk with hints of summer and fall fruits such as cantaloupe and pear. Prairie also received a Gold Medal Spirit Award at the 2008 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirit Awards.

Without actually going to the distillery to witness this for myself, I’m relying on the press release with came with the sample for this information: “Leftover corncobs are converted on-site to biogas energy for powering the stills. In addition, the Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS), a co-product of distillation, is returned to farms for reuse as feed. Prairie is packaged in an unfrosted, recyclable glass bottle, packed in a cardboard box produced from sustainable forest wood pulp, employs organic inks on its paper labels and, since it is crafted many thousands of miles closer to home than imported brands, requires significantly less petroleum to bring to market.”

The September 2007 harvest yielded enough corn to craft approximately 29,000 cases. And, the nice thing about not actually living in the little house on the prairie is that we can simply drink the vodka and leave the growing, fermenting and distilling to the people who do it for a living.
"Mixology" and "Mixologists" are Words, Get Over it Already...

Seriously? What is with people from food writers to bar round ups knocking the word "mixology" or "mixologist?"

Let's start with "mixologist." First, I'd like to clear up any confusion about what a mixologist is, and how it is correctly used: A mixologist is someone who practices the art and craft of mixology. Just as a psychologist is someone who practices the art and craft of psychology. Or an optometrist is someone trained in optometry. Or a scientologist regularly practices scientology, for that matter.

I put the "bartender vs. mixologist" question on The Liquid Muse over a year ago, and even within the bar professionals, it opened a can of worms. As far as I'm concerned, "bartender" and "mixologist" are not necessarily synonymous, although they can be, and they are not necessarily different, although they can be.

Some bartenders sling crappy cordials and cheap booze, add a little sweet-n-sour and call it a "cocktail." While many misguided souls may refer to that as mixology, they are incorrect. That is scholcky bartending. Someone who invests the time to educate themselves, train their palate, learn the history and art of classic cocktails and has the know-how to create balanced cocktails with quality products - and makes a career from it - can call themselves a mixologist, in my opinion, whether they work behind a bar or not. They are practicing the art and craft of mixology.

Onto "mixology." The word itself goes back nearly 200 years - and while it may have been used humorously at times ... both back then and today ... I challenge naysayers to produce a better term for the art and craft of designing cocktails. The "mixology" backlash is a bit like the "vodka" backlash. When something becomes mainstream, there will always be some to try to up their own cool quotient by suddenly deciding to diss the term / fashion / trend / insert-cool-thing-here, deserved or not.

My very first mixology mentor is Tony Abou Ganim, who goes by the moniker The Modern Mixologist. Tony is one of the most inpsiring and inspired long-time professionals in the business. Dale DeGroff, aka: King Cocktail heads the Mixology section of the B.A.R. course (the most prestigious spirits training in our industry). Briget Albert's new book Market Fresh Mixology rocks and drives home the marriage of quality ingredients with skilled cocktail making. Yes, even my nonalcoholic book "Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-To-Be" strives to bring quality drinks to the world of 'mocktails' (now "mocktail" is a term I hate... but why turn my nose up a those who use it? Everyone relates to something new from their own frame of reference.)

Until the big dogs in our own industry "call a moratorium" on
the term and come up with a new word for professional cocktail making, I will continue to use and celebrate the term "mixology," all it stands for, and those who practice it.

Ok, this is the end of my rant. Got a problem with it? Leave a comment. This can be an open discussion...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa's Sleigh

If you're wondering what to serve your guests on Christmas Eve while waiting for the jolly man in red velvet, I have got you covered! Santa's Sleigh is my latest creation for Pinky Vodka's Cocktail of the Month. Have one (or two) and feel the chill melt right off...

Monday, December 15, 2008

MxMo - Spice It Up!

I am exited to participate in a Mixology Monday - its been a while! And, this topic is right up my alley. I love a bit of spicy in my cocktail!! Thanks to Craig at Tiki Drinks & Indigo Firmaments for thinking of it. Here are a couple from The Liquid Muse repertoire...

The first is the Nolita Heat, which was featured as the first ever "official nonalcoholic cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail 2008" and the second drink, which comes from my eco-friendly cocktail class, was originally called it Spicy Grapefuit Margarita. Luckily, Ted Haigh (aka: Dr. Cocktail) gave it a far better name, as you'll see below...

NOLitA Heat
(The Liquid Muse Virgin Mixology, 2008)

1-2 jalapeno slices
1/2 ounce limejuice
1 ounce Prickly Pear syrup (or prickly pear puree)
2 ounces mango juice
Fre alcohol-removed Brut sparkling wine
1 skewered whole jalapeño or Thai chili

Muddle jalapeno slices and limejuice in a mixing glass. Add ice and mango juice, then shake vigorously. Strain into a champagne flute. Slowly pour in Prickly Pear syrup, allowing it to settle on the bottom of the glass. Top with Fre Brut, and garnish with a skewered jalapeño or Thai chili on the side of the glass.

Hot Rod Cadiallac
(The Liquid Muse Sustainable Sips, 2008)

1 1/2 ounces 4 Copas organic tequila
1 ounce lime juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed organic grapefruit juice
1 slice jalapeno
3/4 ounce 4 Copas agave nectar
course sea salt

Rim 1/3 of a martini glass with course sea salt. Muddle jalapeno, lime juice and agave nectar in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add grapefruit juice and tequila. Shake well and gently strain into glass.
"Preggatinis" Takes A Ride On American Airlines...

If you're flying on American Airlines for your holiday travel, you can take home three holiday Preggatinis(TM) featured in Haley Shapley's article in American Way Magazine for your festivities!
Stroll Down to BLVD 16

In Los Angeles, we have many famous streets: Sunset Blvd, Hollywood Blvd, Ocean Avenue, Rodeo Drive. Heck, even Abbott Kinney has become a destination! But there is one BLVD that should be added to your map of LA, if you haven’t ‘taken a spin’ around Westwood, lately.

I’m already a huge fan of the San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel Group: eco-friendly guest rooms and restaurants, stylish and sleek design (without becoming too pretentious) and the Kimpton hotel bars are always a happening scene, in any city. When I lived in Washington DC, in 2005, I became well acquainted with Kimpton, and particularly with Poste, Hotel Monaco’s restaurant. One of the amazing things Poste’s Executive Chef Robert Weland implemented at that time was an organic herb garden in the restaurant’s courtyard. The herbs were used both in the kitchen - and in Poste’s revolutionary cocktail program. (This is also where I first met one of my favorite DC bartender / mixologists, Gina Chersevani who was creating fab drinks with said herbs.)

So, when I got down to BLVD 16, here in LA's Hotel Palomar, three years later, and found that Executive Chef Simon Dolinky has a rooftop garden (atop the 19-story building with panoramic views sweeping across Westwood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica), I was thrilled! Chef Dolinky’s eye toward sustainability graces not only the tantalizing treats on his menu in the BLVD 16 restaurant but he also keeps the bar stocked with organic basil, rosemary, thyme, and mint.

(Sneak Peek: Keep your healthy New Year resolutions with three veggie cocktails debuting in January featuring organic produce from the rooftop!)

The bar’s cocktails change seasonally, as any self-respecting bar program should. For the next two weeks, you can still enjoy The Great Pumpkin (rum, frangelico, licor 43, canton ginger liqueur and graham cracker crusted rim), The Apple Jack (teamed Apple Cider, Jack Daniels, Cinnamon Syrup) or the Chamomile Hot Toddy (Aperi-Tea Chamomile-Mango Tuacca and Brandy with a squeeze of Honey and a Cinnamon stick).

In addition to their regular cocktail menu, BLVD is featuring three Red Ribbon Campaign cocktails through December priced at $12 each, with $1 per drink benefiting AIDS Project LA (from left to right)
  • Scarlet Night (1.75 oz Bacardi Rum, 1.5 oz White Peach Puree, .25 oz Fresh Lime Juice, Orange Wedge, .5 oz Campari Liqueur)
  • Rouge on the Rocks (1.75 oz Milagro Blanco Tequila, 1oz Grand Marnier Liqueur, .5 oz Fresh Lime Juice, .25 oz Simple Syrup, 4 Mint Leaves, 6 Raspberries)
  • Ruby Sparkle (1.5 oz Grey Goose Vodka, 1 oz Grand Marnier Liqueur, .5 oz Pomegranate Juice/Pom Wonderful, .25oz Fresh Lime Juice, Sparkling Wine )
I don’t usually include a whole cocktail list from a bar, but I find BLVD’s impressive enough to list, below, in its entirety. Stroll yourself down to the Hotel Palomar for holiday celebrations – maybe New Year’s Eve. There are many streets in LA but only a few boulevards lead to exceptional cocktails.
  • BLVD 16 Tarragon infused Vodka, Canton Ginger Liqueur, Citrus Juice $10
  • Watermelon Cooler Grey Goose l’Orange, Cointreau, Watermelon, Cranberry Juice $12
  • Pacific Breeze Basil Infused Vodka, Cucumber, Lime Juice $10
  • The Sunrise Square One Organic Vodka infused with Lemon and Ginger, Mandarin Napoleon, Cranberry Juice, Nigori Sake $14
  • Lady in Red Ketel One Citroen, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Strawberries, Lemon Juice $12
  • Maggie’s Milagro Blanco Tequila, Cointreau, Lime Juice, Jalapeno $11
  • The Sunset Cruzan Pineapple Rum, Fresh Pineapple, Fresh Mint, Lime Juice $10
  • Gin Surprise Vanilla Infused Gin, Black Mission Figs, Apple Juice $11
  • Raspberry Side Car Hennessy Cognac, Chambord, Cointreau, Lemon Juice $14
  • Square One Sensation Square One Organic Vodka, Chambord, Canton Ginger Liquor, Cucumber Simple Syrup $12
  • Manhattan Jet Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Licor 43, peychaud Bitters, Honey $12

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Tasting Room Holiday Party!

Listen today (Sunday, Dec. 14) to hear the holiday party panel on The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis radio show.

There is a myriad of fun guests, including a few of my buddies: Adam The Wine Guy, Barrie Lynn aka: The Cheese Empresario, Dan Dunn an LA-based spirits writer and many more exciting people.

I make a nonalcoholic sparkling cocktail with Fre Brut in the first hour from my book, Preggatinis, and I make a fully-leaded sparkling cocktail in the second hour featuring Cointreau Noir.

Tune in today to get lots of holiday cocktail, champagne and wine ideas for gift giving and enjoying with your loved ones...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cozy Brews for the Holiday Season

Every once in a while, even I – an ardent cocktail lover - need a break from the fancy stuff and want to cuddle up to a brewski. I’m sure there are beer aficionados who may protest but I really enjoy the seasonal beers. For example, I sincerely like the taste of the pumpkin ales and harvest beers. And, I was really excited about this Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale!

When poured into a tulip glass, it has a deep amber hue and tastes of caramelized vanilla (perhaps due to the infusion of vanilla beans while being aged used bourbon oak barrels). Its rich flavor is smooth on the tongue, and it pairs fabulously with a hot, melty fondue! It is the kind of beer that, though drunk cold, makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, especially next to roaring fire (exactly where I’ll be over Christmas). Forget cookies and milk. I’m leaving one of these for Santa!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Best Cocktail Books of 2008

I thought you'd all like to see Colleen Graham's Top Ten cocktail books of the year on (Guess what happens to make the list...!)

1. Cocktail Kingdom

While Cocktail Kingdom is not an individual book, it tops my list for the year because it is the home of Mud Puddle and is working on republishing many of the classic bartending guides. While the work of the company is still in progress, titles include essentials like Jerry Thomas' How to Mix Drinks: A Bon Vivant's Companion from 1862 with an introduction by David Wondrich and C.F. Lawlor's The Mixicologist from 1895 with an intro by Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh. The significance of these new editions is that many have been out of print for years or edited beyond belief and the first few editions are hard to find. Cocktail Kingdom's mission is to revive the classic bartending guide - all great additions to the modern library.

2. The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks

The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale DeGroffPhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Dale DeGroff (aka King of Cocktails) is back in another essential hardcover that should be in every cocktail enthusiasts' library. DeGroff is one of the masters of modern mixology and his last book, The Craft of the Cocktail was spectacular, but the new book has a twist. In The Essential Cocktail DeGroff dissects 100 cocktails, showing us how to make them perfectly, then throws in a variation of each with an equal amount of valuable mixing advice. Add this to your wish list because it is the best individual books released this year.
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3. Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus

Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus by Scott BeattiePhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Scott Beattie's book is a big hit, especially among slow food/drink and local ingredient enthusiasts. Artisanal Cocktails includes 50 seasonal recipes from Beattie's experiences at the Cyrus Restaurant in Healdsburg, California (Sonoma County) and uses the plethora of fresh ingredients available there. Although the Californian seasons are prominent in the recipes, there are lessons for mixologists in all regions to utilize fresh and local ingredients available to them in their own market.
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4. Market-Fresh Mixology

Market Fresh Mixology - Cocktail Bartending Book - by Bridget Albert and Mary BarrancoPhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
The subject of the year is fresh and no other book highlights the universal freshness of ingredients than Bridget Albert's Market-Fresh Mixology. This miniature bartending guide is perfect for anyone who wants to know what produce is in season when and find a few original drinks to impress anyone you're entertaining. Your next trip to the farmer's market will not be the same after reading this book because you'll see a drink in everything from avocado to rhubarb.

5. The Flavor Bible

The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew DornenburgPhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
The Flavor Bible is designed for cooks as well as bartenders and is the ultimate thesaurus of taste and pairing for anyone who wants to perfect their flavor matching skills. Written by the authors of What to Drink with What You Eat, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, have included every possible flavor combination in this awesome reference guide including flavors that work with the most popular spirits. If you're planning a full-course meal with a matching cocktail menu or simply trying to create a new drink you need this volume in your library.

6. Preggatinis

Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-Be - Mocktail Recipe BookPhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Mocktails are not limited to the Shirley Temple and "virgin" varieties of this and that and Natalie Bovis-Nelsen has proven that in Preggatinis. This is the most enjoyable and entertaining bartending guide I've seen that is mostly about the non-alcoholic drink and should be the first gift you think of for any woman you know who is trying to get pregnant or already is. Preggatinis is fun and includes non-alcoholic drinks that follow all of the stages of a pregnancy. Ladies, you don't have to feel like a kid just because you're going to have one and guys, there are tips for you to spike the same drinks your wife is having so she doesn't feel left out and everyone is happy.

7. Kindred Spirits 2

Kindred Spirits 2 by F. Paul PacultPhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Anyone interested in finding the best whiskey or exploring the array of tequilas on the market now needs to own Kindred Spirits 2. The value we found in the first edition of this book has not been lost in F. Paul Pacult's newest collection of over 2,400 distilled spirit reviews. This is a welcome addition to the library because the liquor market has increased in so many areas over the last 11 years and Pacult's expertise in tasting is an invaluable guide to navigating this vast world.
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8. Frozen Drinks: An A to Z Guide to All Your Frozen Favorites

Frozen Drinks: An A to Z Guide to All Your Frozen Favorites by Cheryl CharmingPhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Forget those store-bought margarita mixers and learn how to make the best with fresh ingredients that will blow people's minds. Cheryl Charming has created another fun bartending guide, this time filled with frozen drinks of every kind - over 800 of them. Not only will you find Margaritas, Daiquiris and all your favorite frozen treats and more, but Charming also gives her time tested advice for creating the best blended cocktails. This is one of the best frozen drink compilations available yet and she's not stopping because in 2009 Charming's newest book, Knack Bartending Basics will be on the shelves (and you can pre-order it now).
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9. Bartending Inside-Out: The Guide to Profession, Profit, & Fun

Bartending Inside-out by Lori MarcusPhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
The third edition of one of the most valuable professional bartending guides was released in April of this year. Author Lori Marcus has updated Bartending Inside-Out to include information about the newest spirits and beers as well as some of the more recent challenges for bartenders. Not only will the aspiring bartender learn drinks, how to make them efficiently and the myriad of tricks pros use, but there is a wealth of information included about the other parts of the job: managing customers, legal issues, tipping and more.
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10. The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Martinis

The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Martinis by James O. FraioliPhoto Courtesy of Pricegrabber
This is a handy little book that is filled with nothing but Martinis and it is a great introduction to bartending that anyone can understand. Written by James O. Fraioli (with Vincenzo Marianella), there are a lot of "Martini" drinks including everything from an Apple Streudel Martini to Smoked Salmon Martini and, of course, all the favorites. The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Martinis is like looking at one of those martini lounge menus with 100+ martinis and it's pretty fun.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Repeal Day

This pretty much sums it up:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Are You Ready for Repeal Day?

Repeal Day is quickly becoming a nation-wide excuse, I mean, reason to raise a quality cocktail with friends from coast to coast, and celebrate our freedom to do so!

December 5, 2008 marks the 75th anniversary of the 21stAmendment… the one which ended Prohibition. That pesky period outlawing liquor began in January 16, of 1919. Although Prohibition wasn’t actually enforced until 1920, the no-drinking law had been in effect for at least 13 long, dry years.

Obviously, people still drank liquor during the roaring ‘20’s and, in fact, cool underground bars and nightclubs sprung up in cities from San Francisco to Chicago to New York. The ‘speakeasy’ got its name because of the secretive nature people used when communicating about them, and used secret passwords to get in.

It was a feisty period of history, as we’ve seen in movies set in that time. Gangsters ruled, women drank alongside men (until Prohibition a “lady” wouldn’t step into a bar) and people set up stills in their own homes. That “bathtub gin” was lethal stuff, though, and many people died of alcohol poisoning, despite using the bathtub to mix the straight stuff with water.

Cocktail culture had been thriving, in the U.S., prior to Prohibition, and many of what we refer to today as “classic cocktails” came from the early 20th Century before the “thirsty years.” Today, our cocktail renaissance includes throwbacks to speakeasy style bars – some of my favorites are Milk & Honey and PDT (Please Don’t Tell) in New York; Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco; PX in the Washington DC area, the Violet Hour in Chicago; the Doheny and the brand new Varnish in Los Angeles. Boston, Seattle, New Orleans and other cities in the U.S. have clusters of bartenders who employ the recipes, techniques skill and passion of the pre- Prohibition cocktailians, and thanks to all of our efforts to promote “cocktail awareness,” there are growing pockets of drinkers who seek them out.

I’m on the road this week - ironically doing nonalcoholic cocktail demos and promoting my new book "Preggatinis." I will likely be in Austin on Repeal Day so if you have anywhere to suggest I go for a Repeal Day blowout, I’m all ears! In the meantime, I thought you’d like to know about some of the sipping celebrations around the country. You can learn more about Repeal Day at and

I am also offering a GRAND PRIZE for whomever sends in the best photo from their Repeal Day celebration. I will post the top 5 photos on The Liquid Muse Blog, and readers can vote on the one they think best captures the spirit of Repeal Day. The person who sent in that photo wins a bag of goodies, courtesy of Dewar's Scotch Whiskey. Photos must be received by Wednesday, December 10. Winner will be announced on Monday, December 15.

Happy Tippling, everyone!

Washington DC: One of the biggest Repeal Day celebrations, this year, is in our Nation’s Capital. I have a special place in my heart for DC because it is where I was inspired to start The Liquid Muse, nearly 3 years ago. There are some amazing bartenders and mixologists in that area, so if you can get down to City Tavern Club at 8pm, you will not regret it. There will also be visiting mixologists from around the country taking part in the festivities. Tickets are $75 and benefit the Museum of the American Cocktail, the City Tavern Club's Preservation Fund and the D.C. Craft Bartender's Guild. For more information visit

Chicago: A two-fold on Repeal Day sponsored by the Chicago chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United in the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) and a portion of the proceeds from all purchases of food & drink at these events will be donated to the Greenhouse Shelter in Chicago. From their blog:

Act 1: Clark Street Ale House, Informal Happy Hour, 6.00-9.00 pm
Join us for a cocktail or three and toast the occasion. Just buy your own drinks and you won’t get into trouble.

Act II: The Drawing Room, Come Party Like it’s 1933, 10:00 pm
A 1933-style bash! Try the $33 Prefix Dinner & Drink Pairing Menu, or sip on a Prohibition-era cocktail from our special menu, all while listening to 1930’s tunes by the Ron Mills Orchestra.

Boston: The “Roaring 20’s Party” at Eastern Standard. Mixologist Jackson Cannon has created a year-long specialty cocktail menu in honor of the 75th anniversary of Repeal Day. Repeal Day kicks it off:

Juice Joint 6:30 – 7:30 pm cocktail hour
Puttin on the Ritz 7:30 pm, formal dinner
Tin Can Alley band and dancing starts at 10 pm.
Hittin on all Sixes features a 1:00 am breakfast

New Orleans: Dewer’s Scotch Whiskey is partnering with a whole slew of bars around the country for Repeal Day, including these ones in the Big Easy where you can try The Dewar’s Old Fashioned; Dewar’s Highball; Ward Eight; and the Rob Roy:
  • Pat O Brian’s
  • Antoine's
  • Tujague's
  • Napoleon House
  • Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar
  • Court of Two Sisters
  • Commander's Palace
  • Lafitte's Black Smith Shop
Los Angeles:
The brand new Cole’s kicks off its premier party on Repeal Day “Eve” (Dec. 4) with a fundraiser for The home of the French Dip sandwich, revelers will get to sample that classic fare, sip cocktails and view the City Ballet of Los Angeles celebrate Cole’s history through the art of music and dance. 1920’s ere attire encouraged! (Keep an eye out for the Varnish, tucked in the back of Cole’s…)

Members of The Doheny drinking club can sip Dewar's cocktails at a complimentary post-prohibition era party featuring music and sip Sazeracs, Old Fashions, and Blood and Sands from 8pm - 2am. Guests can even get a ‘50 Cent Haircut’ from 10pm-1am.

The Edison is having a VIP reception (which I’m so bummed to miss!!) featuring food and classic punch bowl cocktails, and cracking open a special barrell of Woodford Bourbon which was batched by the Edison’s own Aidan Demarest. The doors open to the public-at-large at 8:30 pm featuring Miles Moseley playing music, 20's flappers dancing, and a tongue-in-cheek midnight toast to the Women’s Temperance League, who bespoke the evil of alcohol and got the whole Prohibition thing going in the first place!

San Franicsco: Jane Tunks from the San Francisco Chronicle did a great round up of SF’s Repeal Day parties, so I am including info from her article here:
  • Bourbon & Branch is showing off classics such as the Martinez.
  • Cantina is throwing a party from 7 – 10 pm with John Walker & Co. also celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The JW & Co. store's spirits director Dominic Venegas is putting together a pre-Prohibition cocktail menu that will be sold '20s prices.
  • Elixir is the latest incarnation at the corner of 16th and Guerrero Streets, where that has continually been a saloon for the last 150 years. Proprietor H. Joseph Ehrmann is throwing a Prohibition-themed serving a 1933 cocktail menu. $10 donation to the Boys and Girls club is requested, Period Dress is encouraged!
  • Forbidden Island pays tribute to Cuba, the drinking destination of choice during Prohibition, with cocktails like the El Presidente, Mary Pickford and daiquiris.
  • Swig: DJs spin '30s-era swing and jazz. The Prohibition menu will include highballs, sidecars and Manhattans made with bourbons and ryes that survived Prohibition.
  • Alembic’s bar manager Daniel Hyatt will pair classic cocktails with selected menu items at the Haight Street hideaway.
  • Neyah White, at Nopa, shines the mixological spotlight on genever, with drinks like a Cranberry Quince Collins and Dutch Courage. The bar will uncork its house single-barrel Redhead Rye.

Monday, December 01, 2008

DIY Nonalcoholic Cocktails for the Holidays!

Watch my appearance on Good Morning New Orleans to pick up some nonalcoholic cocktail tips for your holiday entertaining!!
Travel Buzz – Guest Writer

I’m happy to introduce you Sipsters to Elyse Glickman a new contributor to The Liquid Muse. In addition to serving as Editor-at-Large for Beverage Industry News, Los Angeles-based Elyse Glickman contributes to a wide variety of consumer and trade magazines, including From house to HOME, Wedding Vow, Enchanted Bride, LUCIRE, NUVO, JWest, Food & Beverage, La Reppubblica and Fresh Cup. Visit her site for more on her writing and travels.

Croatia: Eastern Promises

Continental Croatia Emerges as Beacon of History, Cuisine and Stylish 21st Century Living.
By Elyse Glickman

Chances are you’ve come across at least one article in a 2008 glossy travel magazine waxing poetic about Dubrovnik’s Adriatic-flavored fabulousness and the ec
o-splendor of nature parks dotting the islands along Croatia’s coast. So, what about Croatia’s interior? Here’s a peek into some spots professional travelers and jet setters are not talking about… yet.

Zagreb: A perfect evening begins with a leisurely stroll around the “Upper Town” followed by a lingering dinner with local wine and expansive view at Pod Grickim Topom. Afterwards, sip a nightcap along the coffee bar-laden Tkalciceva (great shopping street by day) or in au courant bars such as Hemingway Lounge, Skola and Yaxx. Satisfy a sweet tooth with heavenly gelato at the nightclubby Millenium. (The sinful “Mon Cherry” swirls dark chocolate with cherry and brandy ribbons – yum!)

Osijek: Old Town is the site of many a paprikash “cook off,” and Kod Ruze is one of the neighborhood’s most famous restaurants for good reason—the food is fresh and flawless, and enhanced by people watching and local musicians. Chill-out nightspots like Q-Club offer big city mod lounge décor and drinks at a more manageable pace.

Smaller baroque villages between Zagreb and Osijek are surrounded by ornate 18th century palaces and sprawling parks and come alive during the day, making nothing more pleasurable than a mid-morning Franck (the exceptional national coffee brand) at a jovial cafe. The town restaurants serve homespun fare, with the comfortable feeling of dining in somebody’s home, complete with antiques and personal mementos on display.

Seafood lovers will appreciate brimming platters of fish and chips at Baranjska Kuca in Karanac, and near Djakovo, Sokak remedies hearty appetites with regional beef dishes and rich dessert pancakes.

Croatian wineries are gaining worldwide recognition, too. Krauthaker Wineries boasts exceptional whites, and don’t miss the romantic Zdjelarevic Hotel, possibly one of the most charming and well-appointed b&b’s in Croatia, right down to its food, wines and golden rolling vineyards. Gerstmayer, in the village of Zmajevac, is said to produce four of the most acclaimed Grasevinas (Pinot Gris/Italian Rieslings) coming out of Croatia, today.

While “Old World” experiences dot all of Europe, there is nothing quite like discovering continental Croatia. It is also fascinating to observe how modern influences and the energy of Croatia’s young professionals and students are honoring the past while defining its identity for the 21st century.