Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Manic Mommies and The Liquid Muse

"Sustainable Sips" Earth Day Podcast

While in Boston, I taught several eco-minded groups how to make organic / sustainable cocktails! "Eat Organic? Drink Organic!" is my slogan, and we had a ball!

Listen to this podcast to hear more about my class with the awesome Manic Mommies (who, btw, are super hip, savvy and amazing! They make being a mom seem sooooo cool). Our interview kicks in about halfway through the podcast. And, don't forget to check out their website!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's the Deal with Absinthe?

Check out this article at which has some interesting insights into what does - and doesn't - make the Green Fairy dance...
Meat Pies and Pinot Noir

A Foodie Fantasy in the Australian Blue Mountains

Whoever says that the English have no “cuisine” has obviously not learned to appreciate a meat pie. Maybe its nostalgia, maybe its in my genes given that my Mom is a Londoner … all I can say is that I’m mad for them.

My first immersion into Australian meat pies was back in 2000, when I spent a month in Byron Bay - a funky, alternative seaside community. I was on a skydiving holiday with a friend from Spain in celebration of the Millennium. We lived in a tent for a month out at the drop zone, and hitchhiked into town for food and beer, or to the beach for a swim and a soak in the natural tea-tree oil pond. When we didn’t make it into town, we sustained ourselves on the $1 beef or lamb-filled pastries out of the deep freeze at the droppie. Trust me – when you’re famished and there’s nothing around for several miles – nothing is more wonderful than chomping a microwaved, frozen meat pie.

(Photo on left was taken on my 30th birthday, during that trip, and a meat pie kicked off
the best decade of my life, thus far...)

Fast forward eight years, and I’m sitting on the charming terrace of Café Bon Ton in Leura. Wild white cockatoos flutter in the canopy of branches overhead, letting loose the occasional wet bomb splattering onto the red brick patio as diners and protectively cover their dishes with their hands. I’m charmed, nonetheless, and attempt to photograph the exotic air dwellers nuzzling in pairs, and marvel at tiny, native green and red parakeets twittering in song, a few boughs away.

Jeffrey Wilkinson, CEO of Cumulus Wine, and Rob Geddes, Master of Wine and author of “A Good Nose and Great Legs,” fetched me in Sydney, where my plane from Los Angeles touched down a few hours earlier. My dining companions were a far cry from the tie-dyed hippies, wanderers and adrenalin junkies with whom I kept company in Byron, but share a common thread… our tummies are grumbling for meat pies! Only this was served on an actual plate, had never been near a freezer or microwave, and was utterly unlike any meat pie I’d ever encountered…

The chunks of meat were tender, and flaked at the touch of an eating utensil. The brown gravy sauce could top a filet mignon. The buttery house-made crust was at once doughy and flaky, and the whole thing rested on a cloud of green pea puree, which still had a few whole peas tucked within. Garnished with fresh parsley and a side of house-made tomato “ketchup,” this momentary pause on the three-hour drive to Orange was a little bite of Heaven after a 14-hour flight across the Pacific.

In choosing adjectives to describe this meat pie, rather than use the word “gourmet,” which sounds both pretentious and cliché, I’d like to simply cite it as an example of real, good ol
d-fashioned comfort food made from wholesome, locally raised ingredients – chock full of natural color, flavor and bursting with vitality. In other words, it was the perfect prelude to what would come over the coming days during the Orange F.O.O.D. (Food of the Orange District) Week.

Ralph Potter, the Executive Chef and Bon Ton owner, is one of many who made the exodus from bustling Sydney to a tranquil town closer to the food source of Orange. He came to Leura about a decade ago to open another hotel restaurant, and later launched out with his own place featuring ‘Modern Australian’ cuisine (which pulls from British, Asian and European influences) focusing on local, seasonal components.

Ralph drove home the point that the people of this region are very supportive of the local producers and expresses an interesting perspective on labeling cuisine, “The word ‘regional’ loses its meaning if its experienced elsewhere." As an example of maintaining a regional focus at his café, he recalls, “I would plan my menu around what was available. [A local purveyor] known as ‘The Market Cat’- could show up with a truck full of chestnuts and river trout, and I’d take it from there.” The restaurant also proudly serves locally roasted coffee, carrying its philosophy through to the end of the meal.

Visit the website to get a sense of the full menu – and in the meantime, here’s are some excerpts from their homepage of what is seasonal now (remember, its currently Autumn, down under):

“…earthy Roast Vegetable Salad… Haricot Bean Soup…Braised Pork Cheeks with Star Anise…Veal Shanks with Quince …a wonderfully tender braised Wagyu Beef Brisket with Horseradish Aoili.”

Upscale-yet-simple food, made from local products – comforting and luxurious at once… exactly that which makes my Musey heart dance.

Just when things seemed perfect, Jeffrey upped-the-ante by whipping out some Philip Shaw Number 8 Pinot Noir to accompany our highly anticipated meat pies. Until January of this year, Philip Shaw was Head Winemaker at Cumulus but has since shifted his focus to his namesake vintages, which will continue to be distributed by Jeffrey Wilkinson.

The respected Shaw is considered eccentric by some and exercises that freedom by naming his wines after random numbers which hold personal meaning for him. For example, ‘8’ is his lucky number and, as the wine was released from the bottle to the decanter, I couldn’t help but feel - for that moment - it might be mine as well.

The swirling fruit coming off the glass made for a heady aroma of cherries with zingy little whispers of raspberry, and I had to pause a moment to appreciate that I was about to take a sip of a wine made by a renowned winemaker – a short ride from where the grapes were grown on his Koomooloo vineyard – while dining with two of the most recognized personalities in the Australian wine industry.

The pies arrived, and we tucked in, savoring the expression of the local terroir in both the food and the wine. Once there was neither a morsel nor a sip remaining, I set off to see the dining rooms inside century old building housing Café Bon Ton.

In addition to the patio, there is one dining room on the ground floor, lined with bottles of wine along the walls and a homey fireplace. A more intimate private upstairs dining room seats 30, and retains its vintage personality via antique wallpaper and glass chandeliers.

Finally, it was time to get back on the road so we could make it to Orange in time to check into our hotel rooms and head over to the opening night of F.O.O.D. Week – the night market! (more on that in a future post)

We bid adieu to Ralph, Leura and Café Bon Ton and, already looking forward to the next meal, I got the feeling that this was going to be one hellova trip.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Its lemoncello time again...

Whether you spell it with "limoncello" or "lemoncello," you have one more reason to get excited! Summer is here which means that sweetly refreshing citrus cocktails made with that tangy Italian liqueur abound.

Back in 2006, I shared a recipe for Chef Vikram Garg's (formerly of DC's Indebleu) own home-brewed lemoncello - and I have sworn to myself that I'm finally gonna make it, this summer! Back yard hooch... yee ha!

For those of you too civilized (or impatient) to brew your own cauldron of tart-n-tasty fun, you can use Limonce. It is a bit on the sweet side, which means you don't need additional sugar / simple syrup, in my opinion. And, you can taste a ready-made cocktail Charlie Palmer's Aureole Restaurant.

Head mixologist, Ektoras Binikos, has created a concoction to cool the sticky heat as the temperature rises - and I can't wait to try one when I go to the Big Apple, next month! Salutti!


1 1/2 oz Citron Vodka

1/2 oz Limoncé Limoncello

1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice

2 sprigs Lemon Thyme

Splash of Yuzu Juice (optional)

Put vodka, Limoncé, lime juice and leaves from a sprig of lemon thyme in a shaker with ice. Shake well to extract flavor from the thyme. Strain and pour into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a sprig of lemon thyme.

"Tea Tips" with Dr. Tea

If you've read this piece you already know that I'm a Dr. Tea fan. The orange lab coat, the outrageous passion for all things tea-riffic (I had to do it...) and his vast knowledge make Dr. Tea an entertaining and informative expert on this ancient beverage.

He has recently launched podcasts called "Tea Tips." Wanna watch? Click here!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Detox Seattle: Still A Fond Memory...

Wandering around the web, today, I came across this post by Nate at Method Lust with a couple of recipes from my "Sustainable Sips" class in Seattle, last fall, which are not featured in my 2008 tour.

Cheers, Nate.
(Who doesn't love a "green," booze-guzzling, clean freak?)
Cocktails Are Fun!

Stop Stressing - and Start Shaking

One of the things I emphasize in The Liquid Muse Cocktail Classes is that Mixology is not brain surgery! You’re making a drink, not creating an atom bomb. Most likely, you’re mixing one up at the end of the day; to relax, enjoy with a loved one, sip as the sun goes down and the stress rolls off your mind and body. It’s a moment to wear a smile and have a chat. In a word – cocktails are fun!

Now, don’t get me wrong – a well-heeled bartender making historic cocktails and quality drinks is a thing to treasure, praise and throw money at. But, the average person doesn’t want to feel intimidated when opening a bottle. “Am I doing it right?” Or worse – “Am I doing it wrong?,” is not something someone should be thinking when pouring him/herself a drink.

I encourage people in my classes to “make the drink your own.” If someone likes it sweeter than the recipe calls for, or if they prefer it more tart --- by all means, add more sugar / simple syrup / agave nectar or lime juice / lemon juice or whatever. It is YOUR drink, after all.

For example, I hate wine tastings where some guy in a suit “talks down” to the crowd, or talks over the average person’s level of knowledge. It is pretentious and counter-productive. It is equally unfortunate in a Mixology seminar. Cocktails are something to enjoy. The history is fascinating, the lore is intriguing, the 'good old' recipes, spirits, liqueurs and traditions are something to uphold. But, not everyone who loves a quality cocktail is a bartender, mixologist or industry professional.

I also don’t believe in strictly “following the rules" when it comes to food, wine or cocktails. As long as you start with quality ingredients, and absorb a few basic guidelines, I believe in following your own palate. If you like red wine with fish – who cares? It’s nobody’s business but your own.

I think that some of the appeal of people like Rachael Ray, for example, is that she makes everyone feel like they can whip up a decent meal. Her catch phrases like the somewhat hokey “Yum-o!” and getting the average American housewife in Kentucky to by Extra Virgin Olive Oil (versus Crisco or some other such crap) by calling it the cutsie “E.V.O.O.” gets that housewife to remember the healthier option when she’s walking down the supermarket aisle. And, isn't that the whole idea?

Rachael Ray draws scoffs and sneers from some professional chefs - and even nobodies who have nothing better to do than diss her - but let them laugh. Her books, TV shows and other endorsements prove that she’s on to something… people want to feel like they can make a dinner their friends ad family will enjoy. She gives them some basic skills, tools and ideas – then sets them free.

This is my approach to cocktails. Anyone can do it. Everyone should do it – and feel free to do it his/her own way. Use good ingredients – fresh fruit, herbs, vegetables, juices. Throw away the sweet and sour and pre-bottled lime juice. Chuck out the nasty "bubble gum" vodka, and get some quality spirits. Then squeeze some grapefruits, muddle some cucumber, press an apple … and get creative while having a good time creating a drink that YOU enjoy.

I respect the classics as much as anyone. I admire a maestro who can bang them out so that others can experience what that revered drink should taste like. However, I also am so passionate about cocktails that I want more people to love – and make – cocktails as much as I do.

I say: get out of your head, put down that book, and start shaking and stirring, sister!

*Photo on right courtesy of DPR

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Celebrity Sips - "Sarah Marshall"

What better way to heal a broken heart (or celebrate a new hook up) than with bottle after bottle of wine? If you pay attention, you'll notice the cast of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (from the creators of "Knocked Up") does just that with some juicy and delicious Clos du Val.

Their vino of choice even made it onto IMDB, and you can catch some bottles in the background if you watch the trailer. Just watch the trailer, anyway. Its good for a giggle, and definitely makes me want to escape into a dark theater... (I may just smuggle in a bottle of wine, too, for that matter...)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day in Boston

"Sustainable Sips" Take On More Meaning

I am so happy to be teaching The Liquid Muse "Sustainable Sips" cocktail class on Earth Day! If saving the planet and eating for a healthy body aren't enough incentive to "go green," how about a delicious cocktail?

Last night, I kicked off the first of a week-long run in Bean Town - and we had a blast!

Yes, Lance Armstrong ran the Boston Marathon, yesterday. Yes, the Red Sox won (again). But, I seriously challenge other fun-lovers to have had as much fun as we did down at the Method Home store, down on Newbury Street.

Members of the environmental awareness group called Conscious Consuming attended the class, and learned to reduce their "carbon footprint" while sipping a luscious libation. Conscious Consuming focuses on "increasing awareness of the impact of buying decisions on our health, happiness and environment," which can by all means be brought into the glass. Some students jumped behind the bar to try their hand at whipping up - and even creating - their own drinks!

I've invited some wonderful organic and / or sustainably-minded liquor companies to sponsor my series of classes over the coming months (in Boston, NYC and Minneapolis), and I've designed some yummy drinks with those products. Each of the cocktails is inspired by Method Home, which uses appetizing essences such as cucumber, mint, ginger, lavender and berries to make your home smell like a big, organic field of fruits and flowers!

Below, I'm sharing my recipes so you can whip up a little eco-buzz for your Earth Day party!

(All recipes are intellectual property of The Liquid Muse, LLC and may not be reprinted online or in print without permission from Natalie Bovis-Nelsen.)

Method Margarita Martini

1 1/2 ounces 4 Copas organic tequila
1 ounce lime juice

11/2 ounces grapefruit juice
1 slice jalapeno
1 tsp 4 Copas agave nectar
course sea salt

Rim 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.

Detox America Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Bluecoat gin
1 ounce Veev acai liqueur
2 ounces organic pomegranate juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar (or 1/2 ounce simple syrup)
pinch freshly grated ginger

Pour all ingredients, except ginger, into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Grate fresh ginger over the top of the cocktail.

Method Mojito

1 heaping tablespoon organic cucumber
1 heaping tablespoon of diced organic lime
1 heaping teaspoon raw brown sugar
2-3 torn mint leaves
1 1/2 ounces Purus organic vodka
Organic Italian sparkling lemonade

Muddle cucumber, sugar and mint leaves in tall glass. Pour in vodka. Top with sparkling lemonade. Garnish with a sprig of mint or lime wheel.

“Green” and White Summer Sangria

Organic strawberries, peaches, kiwis
Purus organic vodka
Veev acai liqueur
Lavender honey
Organic peach juice
Bonterra organic chardonnay

Finely chop fruit into a bowl or Tupperware container. Drizzle with honey then add a half-inch of each peach juice 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 strawberry on the rim of the glass.


Monday, April 21, 2008

The Stars Align To Light Up Your Cocktail Hour...

My pal, Gwen, a fellow cocktail blogger (blogress?) at Intoxicated Zodiac has these awesome new eco-friendly "astrological cocktail candles." Best of all, the cool candle holder becomes a Rocks Glass when you're done! And, they even fit a stylish and "green" lifestyle. Below is her description:

Astrology meets the Cocktail with a twist of green. A collection of 12 eco-friendly candles made from gm-free soy wax in a recycled glass votive.

Each candle, one for each Astrological sign, has an exclusive scent which is associated with it's unique Cocktail recipe. The recipes utilize plants, herbs and flowers associated with each individual sign.

Imagine inhaling a scent specially formulated for you... therapeutic, supportive, cleansing–Celestial Cocktail aromatherapy! and the best part, each candle comes with the printed version of it's Celestial Cocktail recipe so that later you can make a drink specially created for you. Order here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Liquid Muse "Sustainable Sips" Cocktail Classes Kick Off in Boston, This Week!

In addition to covering cocktail trends and designing cocktails for spiffy parties, I love teaching cocktail classes. Seeing the "lightbulb" illuminate above a civilian cocktail-lover's head ("civilian" = not a professional bartender or Mixologist) is a moment I relish. I love to learn new things ... and I love to share those things with enthusiastic recipients of cocktailian information.

Let's face it - making a cocktail is not rocket science - but it is a craft, even a passion for some. I equate it to cooking. Professional chefs and recipe developers have may have more developed skills and experience than the average home cook... but that doesn't mean that wonderful dishes can't be recreated for the family table.

"Eat Organic? Drink Organic!" is the slogan for The Liquid Muse Sustainable Sips cocktail classes. Why would someone spend so much time, energy and thought into picking out what they eat... and be completely ignorant to sustainable cocktails?

Meanwhile, the New York Times is picking up on the "sustainable" cocktail trend (finally - yay). Today's article is a wonderful nod to modern consumer consciousness behind the bar. Jonathan Miles wrote a nice piece on Bar 44 in Manhattan and taps Somer Perez's cocktail shaker for inspiration, and challenges her to make a cocktail with ingredients from within a 100-mile radius. (A challenge I would love to meet! Hell, living in California, I've designed drinks using only ingredients from my back yard!)

I'll be teaching my classes in New York, in May, so I will definitely swing by to sample her delicious sounding cherry drink made with Bluecoat gin, which I was very happy to see as I am using Bluecoat in my cocktail classes.

I've designed four Liquid Muse Sustainable Signature Cocktails to demonstrate at my upcoming classes... and I am even more excited now that the word about the stylish sustainable lifestyle making its way into the glass - and onto the pages of major publications. Read that article here. And, check back over the coming days to see the cocktails I'm highlighting in Boston, New York and Minneapolis over the next few months...

(Strawberry photo borrowed from this cool site.)
Rolling and Climbing into Cumulus Wine

A Tasting With the ‘Young Turks’ of Winemaking in Orange, Australia

“The job of wine is to leave your mouth ready for another mouthful of food,” explains Rob Geddes – one of only a handful of Masters of Wine in Australia - and author of A Good Nose and Great Legs. If this premise is indeed true (I, for one, nod happily in agreement) there is no better place on Earth to experience the harmonious interlacing of food and wine than in Orange.

To get to Orange one must take a 30 minute plane ride in a double propeller sky hopper, or drive 200 miles West of Sydney, just over the Blue Mountains (which, incidentally, got their name because of a blue-ish mist emitted by the Eucalyptus trees blanketing the crags and peaks).

A paradise for both the foodie and wine-lover, Orange has 4 “hatted” restaurants amid a population of only 45,000. To be “hatted” means having been awarded at least one “Chef’s Hat,” an Australian means of ranking a restaurant (something akin to the Northern Hemisphere’s Michelin star ratings.) Quite a few respected chefs from Sydney, and other urban cityscapes, have left the hustle-and-bustle to set up shop in the region of Orange to enjoy life at a slower pace and live closer to the source of the high-quality produce supplying the upscale restaurants in the city.

The locals in this largely middle class region support the exploding culinary haven, as tourists are only beginning to trickle in. This, of course, makes it Australia’s best kept secret… and although a part of me wants to keep it to myself… the locals welcome visitors with open arms, and are some of the nicest, most naturally open people on globe.

Oft referred to as the “food basket” of Australia, the soil in Orange is rich in clay, limestone and volcanic rock. The town lies across the lap of Mount Canobolas – the highest point between Australia and South Africa. Its cool climate and nutrient-laden land makes it ideal for not only grapes but also cherries, apples, peaches, figs, pears, olives and more. At an elevation of 3,000, Orange's air is dry and crisp, allowing residents to enjoy each of Mother Nature’s four seasons. Adorable woolly sheep freely chomp their way across grassy knolls - making me wish I didn't look forward to the "spring lamb" who are born around May and fatten themselves on sweet spring grass, winding up lovely roasts only six months later...

I was in Orange, last week, and April is Fall down under, so I got to see first-hand why the town is aptly nicknamed “the colour city of Australia.” Colorful Autumn leaves burst like flames against the bright blue sky and sprinkled themselves over parks and streets like cupcake confetti.

The wineries had just finished harvesting the grapes for their 2008 vintages (more on tasting this year’s wines before American grapes are even plump enough for picking, in an upcoming post!) but that didn’t stop me from tasting the 2007 whites and 2006 reds with Cumulus’ winemakers Debbie Laurtiz and Andrew Bilenkij, the emerging generation in the enology of New South Wales.

Founded in 2004 by heralded winemaker Philip Shaw (left) and CEO Jeffrey Wilkinson, Cumulus has emerged as the largest wine producer in the region. Its 9 vintages won over 70 medals, last year, alone. Twice named Wine Maker of the Year, Philip Shaw’s decades of winemaking have earned him respect from the international wine community, and dozens of vintner protégés from around the world refined their skills under his tutelage, including Debbie and Andrew. Though Philip is still a “winemaking consultant” with Cumulus, in January of this year he turned over the reigns to the younger duo and turned his focus to his own label: Philip Shaw Wines, which is distributed by Cumulus.

Debbie and Andrew, both in their 30’s, have a wealth of experience under their belts and have already worked outside Australian borders. I sat down with them, Jeffrey Wilkinson (in photo, on right) and Rob Geddes for an exclusive tasting, a few days ago in Orange. If you are looking for wonderful wine – for under $20 – read on. The following is a run down of all 9 Cumulus Wines, and insights from the winemakers, themselves.

The two groupings of wine under the Cumulus label are “Rolling” and “Climbing” whose names reflect the vineyards from which the grapes come. The Rolling wines are from the rolling hills of the Central Ranges below 1800 feet and the Climbing wines come from grapes grown on the mounting hillside of Orange.

(Sidenote: In Australia, the "Rolling" label depicts a happy young woman riding a bicycle across a green pasture. In the U.S., Gallo forced Cumulus to change their label because they felt the illustration competed with their "Red Bicyclette.")

Upon sitting down to sample the line up, Rob
shared a few thoughts on how he approaches a wine tasting. I scribbled down notes from the tasting, which I’ll share with you here. (Be warned that this info is directly from my notebook, and not all written in proper sentences…)

Rob’s Tips:

-Good wine has fruit, a middle and a finish
-When tasting wine, I look at color, clarity, condition. Color should be bright. White should still have a little bit of green tint.
-Does the wine have qualities of fruit, vegetable or animal. If fruit, is it tropical or citrus? lemon? grapefruit? pineapple? Vegetables? If animal, is it dead carcass (laugh) or roast meat?

The Wines:

2007 Rolling Semillon – “zingy, citrus, tropical” 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Semillon. (Debbie: Normally it would be 70 % Sauvignon Blanc but in 2007 we had a draught.)

2007 Rolling Chardonnay - “expression of stone fruit / citrus, Fruit dominant, bright, good food wine, not much oak. (Andrew: “The grapes were in small bunches, small berries – we had a lot of freshness in 2007”)

2007 Climbing Chardonnay – more complex, more oakey, more subtle, restrained

2007 Climbing Pinot Gris - these are half way white and red grapes (Andrew: “I taste caramelized pear”)
honey color from touch of color in skins. (Debbie: “this wine grows into itself in 6 –12 months after bottling. It’s best drunk within 2 years.)

2006 Rolling Shiraz – good example of a cool climate wine. Good fruit expression, bright, juicy, a little bit of white pepper. “Has a Rhone structure but with bright fruit.”( Jeffrey Wilkinson: “This wine costs about $16 but has beat out wines costing $25.”)

2006 Climbing Shiraz – comes from rockier ridges, thinner soils, costs around$20, fruit and oak, won 8 medals, more elegant, more serious, darker fruit, more concentration, little creamier, rich aroma. (Ron Geddes: “Has a nice farewell.”)

2006 Climbing Merlot – (Andrew: “Even newly bottled, its fantastic!”) Plumminess, leafiness, approachable, soft palate, soft tannins, reflects region. (Andrew: “2008 was a perfect weather for Merlot. When the fruit arrived, it looked perfect.”)

2006 Rolling Cabernet Merlot – “Fantastic food wine!” not too heavy, bright fruits, good with meat, flavor of berries, cedar

2006 Climbing Cabernet Sauvignon – (Debbie: “This is one of our flagship wines. It’s a wonderful expression of the variety and the region. Its powerful without being ‘big.’”) (Andrew: “It is the first one I got really excited about. It was elegant from Day One.”)

What to expect from the 2008 harvest? A couple of surprises are on the way! Cumulus is coming out with its first rosé and its first sparkling wine.

Andrew says that the 2008 Rosé Climbing Pink Shiraz is “very juicy and has great length.” The first place it will hit our planet is in Germany in May, followed by an Australian release in August. With the popularity of quality rose finally on the rise in the U.S., hopefully we won’t be too long after!

The sparkling wine is a blend of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. I know I will be stocking up and drinking it without restraint. As Jeffrey Wilkinson says, “Wine is to be drunk. It shouldn’t be set on a shelf as a trophy.”

To which I say: “Cheers, mate!”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Demo Cut with TV Appearances...

The sound only seems to work on the actual TV appearances... versus my demo pilot... Anyway... if you have 3 1/2 minutes to kill, you can check out some of the bits I did on the holiday media tour I did with Sutter Home... Bottoms Up!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Global Writes Launches Website!

The International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association has kicked off a wonderful new website for those of us in the industry... and those of us who simply love food, wine & travel. (And, frankly, who doesn't?)

I happily contributed a piece for their premiere issue on one of my favorite women in wine, the very regal
Eileen Crane, of Domaine Carneros in Napa.

This photo depicts Eileen's wonderful sparkling Brut Rose, and The Liquid Muse Signature Cocktail I created for its launch parties in NY, SF and LA, last November.

Cheers and Congrats to Editor Kim Rahilly and the whole Global Writes team!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

LA Bartenders Unite!

So, finally, something that I’ve been hoping to see come to fruition is a reality.

I started The Liquid Muse Cocktail Club’s Cocktail of the Wee
k, last summer. I highlighted a cocktail from a different LA restaurant in each mailing. (Its currently called The Liquid Muse Mixology Museletter because I just can't do it once a week. Its more-or-less monthly. Sign up for it here.) I was hoping that by highlighting the few quality cocktails I could scrounge up in this town that Angelenos would take note, then seek out and demand better drinks.

Then something wonderful happened. I met some fantastic LA-based bartenders at Tales of the Cocktail, last year, who felt the same way I did. Why are cities like San Fran and NYC (not to mention Seattle, Chicago, Boston and DC) respected for their fine drinks – while LA lags behind as land of the “vodka redbull” or even less appetizing, “Skinny Bitch (rum and diet coke)?” Especially when there are some talented and creative bartenders out here, with a passion for “the craft of the cocktail.” (to reference the grand Dale DeGroff)

Marcos Tello recently launched The Sporting Life (with a little help from his friend and business partner Damian Windsor ... who apparently loves Partida, judging by this photo...). It’s a Los Angeles-based bartender club, of sorts. And, cocktail bloggers are included. (We are all cocktail geeks together, after all…)

The first meeting comprised about 10 people and Joe Keeper (of Bar Keeper fame) lent the cozy back patio behind his store. Marcos sprung for the booze himself, and greeted everyone with sparkling cocktails.

The second meeting was this past weekend at Mozza – a great score conside
ring it’s a tough place to get a reservation to PAY to drink there. This time, the fellas brought on a liquor sponsor. (Hello… if anyone can actually get a liquor sponsor it’s those of us who work with, sell and create new cocktails with their products!)

And – it was a good one! I’ve been a fan of Partida Tequila since I first blogged about it back in the summer of 2006. One of my favorites – and owned by a woman. How much more cool does it get?

The boys whipped up some awesome drinks on Sunday. One with Campari. One with cucumber foam. And, another sort of Tequila Old fashioned. It was the perfect way to kick off a Sunday afternoon, to be sure.

This time the crowd was about double what it was last time, and we had a surprise guest. Jacques Bezuidenhout who reps Partida came down from San Fran with his girlfriend, for the meeting. (Who says No-Cal and So-Cal don’t get along?)

Also in attendance were four cocktail bloggers – including me. Chuck Taggart from Gumbo Pages, Ted Haigh from Dr. Cocktail and Marleigh Riggins from Sloshed were all in one corner together. (Elitist snobs.) Just kidding. I was joyful to be in the real live company of other people who sit in front of a computer blathering on about cocktails for little to no pay. Just for the pure love of it. (Crazy people stick together, ya know!) And, Ted gave a presentation on bitters.

The bartenders came from all sorts of respected hot spots around town: Seven Grand, Doheny, Comme Ca, Bar Marmont, Villa, El Carmen, Fatfish – and more I’m surely forgetting right now (sorry guys).

And, of course, our host Chris Ojeda, the barman at Mozza, gave us a fascinating rundown of the incredible collection of Amaro behind Mozza’s bar. It’s got to be the biggest collection of Amaro in LA. Most bottles have never been opened. The bar menu features several drinks made with Amaro, which is ridiculously cool. Try the Montenegro Fizz, Meletti Smash or The Bitter End to see what I’m talking about…

In the coming weeks and months you will be seeing these talented folks featured here on The Liquid Muse Blog and in The Bartender Diaries. After all, birds of a feather drink together! I raise a glass to Marcos for getting this underway. And, here’s to The Sporting Life!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Italians Have Heart!

Discount for Americans at Harry's Bar in Venice

Harry's Bar is one of the most famous spots in the cocktail world because it is the supposed birthplace of the Bellini Cocktail, and known to be one of Ernest Hemingway's hangouts.

Due to the Euro-Dollar ratio, and a kind heart, owner Arrigo Cipriani offers a 20% discount to Americans dining and drinking in his legendary establishments.

Read more on Yahoo News (photo from their article).