The piña colada is a well-known tropical drink. The sheer mention of it conjures up images of beach bars and tiny cocktail umbrellas. While the drink’s origins hail from Puerto Rico, this festive libation is a staple at vacation spots around the globe. Recently while on holiday in Ghana, my interest was piqued by a sign at my beachfront retreat that boasted the “Best Piña Colada this Side of the Equator.” The sprawling complex, dubbed Big Milly’s Backyard, was a laid-back place filled with friendly locals and mellow Rastafarians. Small bungalows and huts were dispersed through out the palm-shaded grounds dotted with an oceanfront restaurant and 24-hour open-air bar which featured live reggae and African drumming shows. One afternoon as the scorching sun baked everyone at the beach, I decided to test Big Milly’s cocktail claims. Paajoe Quansah, a helpful young man who seemed to be a jack-of-all-trades around the complex, volunteered to mix a piña colada for me. He started off by taking off his shoes and leaving the bar. Puzzled, I followed him a short distance to a towering palm tree, which he proceeded to climb. I strained my neck to look up as he scampered to dizzying heights where the coconuts grew and dropped several of them to the ground. I was in awe — this was going to be one mighty fresh piña colada! Once he safely made it back to ground level, he split the coconuts open with a machete. First he expertly carved a spout and poured out the juice, which he shared with two eager young local children that suddenly appeared nearby. Next he used a knife to scrape the meat from the coconut and added it to the water. After repeating the process with about four coconuts, he combined the coconut meat and water in a blender to make a thick and frothy mixture. Once the fresh coconut puree was prepared, Paajoe began to build my cocktail. He added two shots of African rum to the liquid coconut. He topped it off with a generous splash of Big Milly’s freshly squeezed pineapple juice, which on its own was a popular refresher at the bar. The finished cocktail was served over ice. Its flavor was bright and fresh and not overly sweet. It stood as a stark contrast to the sickly sweet frozen piña coladas made with commercially prepared mixes. However the generous portions of local rum did provide a noticeable burn. After two of these elixirs, the sun seemed to mellow out a bit and I felt a little cooler. The rest of the afternoon flowed nicely into serene sunset followed by dinner and a late night wiling away at the bar. Piña Colada - Ghanaian Style 3-4 coconuts Water 1-2 pineapples Rum Sugar to taste Drain liquid from coconuts. Many coconuts sold in the U.S. will have little or no liquid inside. Scrape meat from coconut and add to blender. Blend until fluid, adding water as necessary. Remove fruit from pineapple and juice in a blender. Imported pineapples will be less sweet than locally grown African fruit, so add sugar to taste. In a tall glass, add 3 ounces rum; add 2 ounces pineapple juice and 2 ounces coconut mixture. Serve over ice. [gallery ids="99118,99119" nav="thumbs"]
They say that variety is the spice of life. During a recent seminar at the Museum of the American Cocktail, Tad Carducci, a multi-award-winning bartender and founding partner of the beverage consulting firm Tippling Brothers, demonstrated how to use a variety of spices to give new life to some basic cocktails. While many food enthusiasts are fervent about applying herbs and spices to various foods, Carducci is passionate about using spices to make unique and distinctive cocktails. The seminar followed the use of spices, herbs and bitters from 2500 B.C. to the present. Carducci discussed the historical importance of spices and herbs as medicine, currency, foodstuffs and flavoring agents for spirits, liqueurs and cocktails. Carducci mixed five different tipples, varying in flavor from sweet to sour to bitter to fiery hot. The most versatile and striking cocktail of the evening was the Fireside Sour. Sours are a category of cocktails that consist of a base liquor, lemon (or lime) juice and a sweetener. Carducci’s creation follows this formula by combining Applejack liquor, lemon and tangerine, and a homemade simple sugar and spice syrup. Laird’s Applejack is one of the oldest domestic spirits in the United States, dating back to colonial times. Carducci tracked the origins of the Fireside Sour back to original concept of punch, which was brought from India to England after colonization. Punch originally consisted of spirits, sugar, lemon, water and spices (often tea), 95 percent of which are grown in India, Carducci noted. Before mixing the Fireside Sour, Carducci pulled a volunteer from the audience to demonstrate the ease of making the cocktail. The process began with juicing a fresh lemon and muddling tangerine slices for an extra citrus boost. Next, Carducci added his homemade spiced simple syrup and Laird’s Applejack before showing off his cocktail shaking technique. The “secret” to the Fireside Sour was, without a doubt, Carducci’s spiced syrup, made from a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, ginger cloves and star anise. The cocktail had several layers of flavor. At first sip, the tangerine provided a fresh and sweet smack, followed by a spiced apple pie flavor from the Applejack and spice syrup and finished off with a clear bite of cinnamon. Its taste resembled a bright and juicy version of mulled cider. While Carducci described it as a wintry drink that combined all his favorite flavors of Christmas, the sunny orange flavor makes this drink ideal for summertime. Fireside Sour 2 ounces Laird’s Applejack (7 1/2 yr. preferred) 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice 1/4 fresh tangerine, halved 1 oz. spice syrup (see recipe below) Muddle tangerine. Add all remaining ingredients and shake. Double-strain into chilled glass. Garnish with floating tangerine wheel. Dust with cinnamon. A simple variation on an Applejack Rabbit, this cocktail embodies all the flavors we associate with cold weather and the holidays and that we associate as being very American. They are actually very exotic. Spice Syrup: 1 quart simple syrup 3 cinnamon sticks 1 nutmeg seed 1 finger ginger, peeled and finely chopped 3 whole star anise pods 2 tablespoons allspice berries 2 tablespoons whole cloves 2 tablespoons black peppercorns Laird’s Applejack is available at Dixie Liquor (3429 M St.) in Georgetown. For more information about upcoming events from the Museum of the American Cocktail, visit www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org.
Anyone who has seen the newly released “Sex and the City 2” will tell you that there’s nothing quite like vacation with your BFFs. Fans of the original series will also confirm that Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha enjoy a good cocktail. On a recent girlfriends getaway, my posse and I decided to make a themed cocktail to match the mermaid theme of our vacation. The main characters were myself, Miss Pixie Windsor, a Washington antique storeowner and avid collector of Mermaid memorabilia, and Jamye Wood, an upstate New York Web designer who has written a novel about a young girl who becomes a mermaid. The three of us traveled to Florida’s Gulf coast to visit Weeki Wachee Springs, the town of living mermaids. Weeki Wachee is one of Florida’s oldest and most unique roadside attractions. It is now a state park, where live mermaids (that is, women dressed in fancy mermaid costumes) perform graceful underwater ballet in an aquarium-like setting on the Weeki Wachee River. The mermaids perform to music, using air hoses to stay under water throughout the entire show. Many celebrities, including Elvis, have attended the mermaid shows. Our group decided to base ourselves in Siesta Key, FL to clock in some beach time. When perusing through a wide choice of beach houses to rent, we were all in agreement on a little cottage dubbed “The Sand Dollar,” mainly because of the heated saltwater pool with a tikki bar in the backyard. The house itself was secondary. Our visit to Weeki Wachee did not disappoint. We enjoyed a day of retro fun, watching live synchronized mermaid shows that included a replay of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and a patriotic number with mermaids performing underwater flips with Old Glory. While we were unable to find a cocktail bar inside the park, one of the snack bars served drinks in mermaid-shaped souvenir cups that we took back to our beach house for later use. Our first criteria in building our cocktail was that it had to be bubbly — sort of like the upbeat mermaids blowing bubbles underwater. We therefore decided to use sparkling wine as one ingredient. Next, although the mermaids’ costumes at Weeki Wachee included bright red and gold attire, we decided that our drink should be the traditional green color. I determined the bright emerald hue of melon liqueur would fit the bill. Jayme insisted that we include local ingredients, so we purchased fresh oranges at a nearby farmers’ market for juice. She even scouted out a starfruit to make celestial-shaped garnishes. In order to highlight the orange flavor, Pixie purchased Stoli Orange vodka for an added citrus boost. Our finished cocktail turned out to be deceptively light and refreshing. The bright and sunny flavor from the fresh juice and sparkling wine masked the taste of the vodka. The melon liquor added a perfect hint of sweetness while giving our drinks a cool green glow. Not bad for improvising on vacation! The Mermaid Cocktail 1.5 ounces Stoli Orange vodka 1.5 ounces orange juice 1 ounce melon liqueur Sparkling wine Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a long glass over ice and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with sliced starfruit. Ingredients to make the Mermaid Cocktail may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M St. in Georgetown.
With all the hype surrounding the opening of "Sex and the City 2" that has hit this city, I accepted an invitation to attend one of the exclusive pre-screenings and VIP receptions heralding its opening. Moet et Chandon, a promotional partner to the movie, sponsored a reception at the Georgetown Ritz followed by a private prescreening last Wednesday at Georgetown AMC Lowes theater. Although the characters of the movie are known for drinking the ubiquitous Cosmo, Moet appeared to be the official wine of the movie, (product placement notwithstanding). During the wedding scene, Moet White Star was in the ice bucket, Dom Perignon was served in the desert scene, and champagne appeared in beautiful glasses almost exclusively during the entire movie. As I sat in the theater watching fans file in, dressed to the nines, some like their favorite character, I thought about the distinct personalities of four main characters: Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda. The costume designer, Patricia Field, subsequently dresses them in four distinct styles. Carrie is all haute couture and eclectic; Charlotte is very ladylike and preppy; Samantha pulls off chic and sexy; Miranda, of course, is all business. They even have four different hair colors- a blond, a burnett, a redhead and a mix of sort. It dawned on me that wines are the same way. Wines can be light and blond colored, like a chardonnay. They can be dark like a cabernet, or rich red like a shiraz. And wines undoubtedly have their own personalities, express different characteristics, and evoke different emotions – not unlike the Sex and The City foursome. If Carrie Bradshaw and Co. were wines, what wine would they be? And what wines would match their personalities? Each of the SATC women have strong personalities and quirky nuances, much like great wine varietals. This is our casting call: Miranda: Australian Shiraz The saucy redhead, a lawyer, strong, blunt, and all about business. But she is still a mother and wife who, in the movie, revels her fun side. I immediately think of an Australian Shiraz. This red wine is peppery, serious, and complex. It is full bodied with strong tannins. The aromas suggest smoke, tar and sometimes even rubber. It's serious business, but it can be fun too. On the lighter side, Shiraz can express strawberry and dark plum fruit flavors-kind of like Miranda, who realizes that all work and no play is boring. Try: Penfolds Kalimna, Bin 28 Shiraz 2006 (approx. $22) Charlotte: Pinot Noir Delicate, traditional, well structured. Prim, proper, and sensitive. Nurtured and kind. Pinot Noir would suit Charlotte like a velvet glove. This light red wine is made from a thin skinned grape and is thus very temperamental, like Charlotte. It is sometimes a challenge to grow, so climate and soil conditions have to be ideal. The wine expresses aromas of black cherry and raspberry. It is the wine of Burgundy, France, but Oregon and Chile have produced some shockingly good lighter-styled efforts. Try: Terranoble Pinot Noir Reserva 2008 (approx. $15. Wine Advocate gave it 90 points.) Samantha: Chardonnay I often think of chardonnay as the Marilyn Monroe of wines, particularly California chardonnay. Like Samantha, it is a big, bold, blond, sexy and often times loud. But chardonnay, particularly from Chablis or South America, can also be elegant and intriguing, just like Samantha. Try: 100 Tree Hill Chardonnay California, 2006. (approx. $17) So, what about Carrie? Carrie is not like other women. She is not traditional. A quirky dresser, she loves France and couture. She's spontaneous, fun loving, and a bit fickle. My first reaction would be Rose or Blanc de Noirs Champagne. It's fun and fruity but elegant. Definitely not traditional in the realm of American drinking habits. The obvious producer given the movie would be rose from Moet. But also try: Taittinger Brut Rose (approx $70) or G.H. Mumm Brut Rose (approx. $55) And let's not forget something for the boys. Mr. Big: Barolo He's the tall, dark, handsome, and brooding husband of Carrie. He is strong and steady, and Barolo is too. This rich Italian red is made from the nebbiolo grape in the Piedmont region. Try Boroli Barolo 1999 (Piedmont), $38. For a fun night out, go see the movie and then seek out a glass of wine that matches your favorite character’s personality. Have a great night of wine and "Sex and The City." Cheers. [gallery ids="99142,102780,102769,102776,102773" nav="thumbs"]
Cuba is many things to many people. For vacationers from Canada and Europe, it is a tropical Caribbean getaway. For cigar aficionados the island is renowned for its celebrated stogies. For music lovers, Cuba is a jazz hotbed that spawned legendary performers like Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and the Buena Vista Social Club. It is a place to step back in time and wander the narrow streets of Old Havana and watch the antique cars cruise along the oceanfront Malecon roadway. For drinkers, not only is Cuba the rum-soaked first home of Bacardi, it also holds an important spot in cocktail history. The daiquiri and mojito are two noteworthy drinks that trace their earliest roots to Cuba. The Museum of the American Cocktail hosted a seminar at Georgetown’s Mie N Yu restaurant in June celebrating the rich cocktail history of Cuba. Phil Green, a founding member of the museum, and Charlotte Voisey, an internationally renowned mixologist, emceed the event. Attendees were treated to a range of drinks, including the historical El Presidente cocktail and the Moveable Feast, a Hemingway-inspired punch that Charlotte created for a Cuban-themed lounge in New York. Charlotte and Phil discussed the history of Cuba, as a Spanish colony, during independence and post-Castro. Much of the evening was focused on Cuba’s role as a drinking destination during Prohibition. When alcohol became illegal in the states, Havana became the unofficial U.S. saloon. It was easy for Americans to travel there. Airlines offered non-stop flights and steamer ships transported merrymakers from Florida. Popular bars such as the Floridita (Hemingway’s favorite), the U.S. Bar and La Bodega del Medio catered to American travelers. During this time, a myriad of talented bartenders fled the U.S. in order to work in their professions. Phil described Cuba, along with England, France, Italy and others, as being one of the “carriers of the torch,” keeping the craft of the cocktail alive. In an effort to appeal to tourists, many cocktails were named after celebrities like the E. Hemingway Special, the Mary Pickford and my favorite cocktail of the evening, the Josephine Baker. Famous for her risqué costumes and no-holds-barred dance routines, Baker, an American expatriate, became the talk of Paris during the Prohibition era. Her namesake tipple lives up to the hype of this notable entertainer. The concoction is forged from a mixture of cognac, Port wine and apricot brandy, combined with an egg yolk for a frothy texture. The cocoa-colored cocktail has a sophisticated taste and a thick, smooth consistency. Its multi-layered flavor is subtly fruity and not overly sweet. A dusting of cinnamon adds a spicy kick. While it may not be possible for U.S. passport holders legally travel to Cuba on a cocktail pilgrimage, the Josephine Baker is an easy drink to whip up at home. Josephine Baker: 1 1/2 ounces Cognac 1 1/2 ounces tawny Port wine 1 ounce apricot brandy 1/4 ounce simple syrup 1 egg yolk Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lemon peel and dust with cinnamon. If you are concerned about consuming raw egg yolks, use pasteurized eggs. Ingredients to make the Josephine Baker are available at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M St. in Georgetown. For more information about the Museum of the American Cocktail, check out their Web site at www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org. [gallery ids="99158,102944" nav="thumbs"]
The steak and martini is a classic food and cocktail pairing. It’s something your grandfather would have ordered at an old boy’s club steakhouse, and it’s something you would feel comfortable ordering today with a cut of Japanese wagyu beef. So it was no surprise that the martini and its various incarnations were highlighted during a recent mixology seminar at Georgetown’s Bourbon Steak restaurant. Bourbon Steak’s bartender Duane Sylvestre taught the class, in which guests received a primer on basic bar techniques, an overview of various spirits and the history behind many cocktails. The martini, according to Sylvestre, is one of the most misunderstood cocktails. The classic martini consists of gin and dry vermouth, stirred and served with either olives or a lemon twist. But over the years, the drink has transformed into different things. The vodka martini, in particular, has evolved from its original form. While a traditional vodka martini should be made with vermouth, Sylvestre says that most vodka drinkers prefer theirs without. However, many people mistakenly order an extra dry vodka martini, believing that the term means “no vermouth,” when it actually means the opposite. A “dry” martini refers to the addition of dry vermouth. This term came into play years ago as a way to distinguish the martini from its forerunner, the Martinez, which was a gin and sweet vermouth mixture. Therefore, the term “dry” came to mean dry vermouth and extra dry came to signify extra vermouth. Even though James Bond has dictated the martinis should be shaken, not stirred, Sylvestre is a stickler for stirring. His rule is that any cocktails containing only alcoholic ingredients, such as gin and vermouth, should always be stirred, while drinks that include non-alcoholic mixers should be shaken. However, he makes an exception with vodka martinis. “Most vodka drinkers want their vodka cold and served straight up,” he says so he lets the market dictate how the drink is prepared. After making a vodka martini for the crowd, Duane mixed a classic gin martini with a twist using Plymouth gin, which he calls a mild and agreeable gin. “It’s going to add complexity, depth and character,” he said, “without the gin taking over the cocktail.” The choice of garnish — either an olive or lemon twist — is a simple matter of taste, unless you are ordering a dirty martini, which includes olive juice. Duane taught the class how to make a lemon garnish by using a vegetable peeler. After cutting the peel from the fruit, he stretched the skin around the rim of the glass in order to extract the citrus oils before dropping it into the martini. When I got a chance to sample the finished tipple I could see the citrus oils floating in the drink. The added hint of lemon provided a refreshing twang combined with the gin and vermouth. The timeless classic was an ideal balance of bitter, citrus, dry and sweet. Gin Martini 2 ounces Plymouth gin 1 ounce dry vermouth Stir well. Serve in a martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel or olives. Readers may sample the martini at Bourbon Steak restaurant, located in the Four Seasons Hotel at 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. Ingredients to make the martini may be purchased at Dixie Liquor, 3429 M St.
George Washington is still entertaining in fine style at his Mount Vernon home with the release of his original recipe un-aged rye whiskey, now being sold for the first time since 1814. A limited number (only 471) of the bottles, priced at $85, were available this month and I was thrilled to be number 30 in the queue. There was also a commemorative boxed set containing an engraved shot glass and mini bottle of the aged variety, a tempting bracer for a brisk autumn fox hunt. A magnificent morning greeted eager tasters who toured the distillery and gristmill along the banks of Doe Creek, where the rye whiskey is being made and bottled by hand, just as it was done two centuries ago, according to original records uncovered at the estate. Virginia state Senator Toddy Puller, whose efforts cannot be understated in sponsoring Virginia’s new distilled spirits tasting law, which allowed Mount Vernon a special designation to sell the whiskey, was presented with the first bottle by Dennis Pogue, Mount Vernon’s Associate Director for Preservation, and Dr. Peter Kressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), who proudly told of his association’s commitment in leading industry funding for the $2.1 million archeological excavation and reconstruction. James Rees, president of the influential Mount Vernon Ladies Association, spoke of Washington the innovator and entrepreneur. “This was the largest and most successful distillery in the United States, marketing to the West Indies, England and Portugal,” he said. Master Distiller David Pickerell, formerly of Maker’s Mark Bourbon and now distilling his own WhistlePig Farm rye whiskey in Vermont, described the whiskey this way, “Its nose is slightly floral, earthy and grainy, with a taste that is surprisingly sweet and mellow with a berry taste.” He added, “The whole process was exhausting. Everything was made by hand and we did it in two weeks!” The estate currently has around 50 gallons laid back of the two-year-old whiskey aging in oak barrels. It won’t be available until next spring. But according to Pogue, the demand for the un-aged variety has been so high they are trying to have a new batch ready at the same time. Local mixologist Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve and PX in Alexandria was so inspired he created a new recipe just for the occasion: I Cannot Tell a Lie 1 ounce George Washington rye whiskey 1 ounce bourbon 1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino cherry liqueur 2 ounces cherry vanilla juice (recipe follows) Dash of Fee Brothers cherry bitters Cherry Vanilla Juice Mix together 1 quart of pitted cherries and 1 scooped out vanilla bean. Pass through a food mill. To serve: Stir all the ingredients together and serve in a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry. Courtesy of Todd Thrasher, www.restauranteve.com. For questions or comments on this article, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. [gallery ids="99178,103210,103199,103206,103203" nav="thumbs"]
The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC), along with Mr-Booze.com and Giramondo Wines Adventures, recently sponsored a “Cocktail Class for Beginners” at the Embassy Hilton in Washington. The event, hosted by MOTAC founding member Phil Greene, started off with a lecture about the history of cocktails. According to MOTAC, the word cocktail was first defined in 1806 in the Balance and Columbian Repository, a newspaper in upstate New York. The word cocktail was used in reference to an article about a recent election. At that time, politicians on the campaign trail would spend lots of money on alcohol, essentially buying votes by having a really good party. The newspaper published a tongue-in-cheek article about how much a particular candidate spent, even though he lost. This was the first recorded use of the word “cocktail,” and after this article was published, the editor felt compelled to define the word as “A stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters, it is vulgarly called a bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout at the same time fuddles the head. It is said also to be of great use to a democratic candidate because a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else.” For decades later, a cocktail was just that — a spirit and bitters diluted with water and sugar to take the edge off. This simple recipe may sound familiar to anyone who has enjoyed the cocktail known as the Old Fashioned. Originally, the name “Old Fashioned” referred to any old–fashioned style cocktail such as a martini or Manhattan. Some people believe that Colonel James E. Pepper, a bourbon distiller and bartender at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, KY, created the Old Fashioned cocktail. What is more likely, according to Greene, was that the term “Old Fashioned” was applied to the drink known as a “Whiskey Cocktail.” Next, Greene demonstrated the ease of making this primitive cocktail, which follows the same definition published in 1806 — liquor, sugar, water and Angostura bitters. While Phil used a muddler to ensure the sugar was fully dissolved, he also suggested substituting simple syrup. For an added flavor boost, Phil squeezed a lemon peel over the mixed drink, releasing its essential oils, before dropping it in as a garnish. He also noted that nowadays bartenders will sometimes muddle an orange slice or other fruit into the mixture. While many modern drinkers may see this potable as downright “old-fashioned,” perhaps this granddaddy of cocktails deserves a second look. Its rudimentary formula has served as a building block for numerous contemporary drinks. The Old Fashioned’s straightforward composition and uncomplicated taste make it a refreshing alternative to many of the overly sweet and convoluted concoctions we see on so many restaurant menus today. --- The Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail 1 sugar cube (1 teaspoon) 1 teaspoon water 2 dashes Angostura bitters 2 ounces rye (or bourbon) whiskey Muddle sugar, water and bitters together until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Fill glass with ice, then add whiskey. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel. For more information about upcoming seminars go to www.museumoftheamericancocktail.com or www.mr-booze.com. Ingredients to make the Old Fashioned cocktail may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M Street in Georgetown.
As we slug through one of the hottest summers in memory, Washingtonians have been seeking creative ways to have fun and cool down. A clever and inventive antidote can be found at Art and Soul on Capital Hill, where the latest rage is their uplifting and invigorating Sno-Cone cocktails. Your childhood favorite is back, but with a decidedly adult twist. Art and Soul, a welcoming lounge located in the Liaison Hotel, offers a menu of four icy cocktails designed by general manager Jay Poblador. These treats feature crushed ice layered with seasonal fruits and vegetables, mixed with liquor and served in cone-shaped glasses. The resulting tipples are light, stimulating and absolutely refreshing. Jay, who recently moved to DC from New York, is experiencing his first Capital summer. “I didn’t realize it was so hot and humid here,” he said. “I designed these cocktails to be refreshing and appeal to your childlike primal urges.” Bartender Heejin Shubbuck mixed up four frosty selections – the Laurel Park, the Rehoboth, the Savannah and the Washington Bite. ? Perhaps the most visually appealing is the Laurel Park, which arrives looking like a beautiful rainbow of ice and fruit including the pinkish hue of strawberries and cool green cucumbers. The layers are doused with gin and Saint Germaine elderflower liqueur before being topped off with rose sparkling wine. Jay designed the Laurel Park to showcase a wide range of flavors including fruitiness, sweetness and bitterness. “All around it’s a nice flavor profile,” he said. “The flavor of St Germaine is so nuanced, and gin provides a perfect pairing .” As I sipped my cocktail and the ice melted I noted how the flavor changed and evolved. When I reached the bottom of my glass, I enjoyed spearing the now frozen (and alcohol infused) fruits. The Rehoboth Sno-Cone proved to be equally as complex. This treat is built from pineapple soaked with cachaca, a Brazilian sugar cane rum. It’s garnished with fresh spearmint for a rejuvenating effect. Jay rims the glass with a smoked sea salt rim, which enhances the subtle smoky flavor of the cachaca. The Savannah, forged from fresh peaches, is the sweetest of the bunch. It starts with a full and luscious flavor, but finishes light and spicy thanks to vodka infused with African black nectar tea. “The tea imparts a bit of bitterness and nice tannins on the back of your tongue,” Jay says. The final frozen concoction highlights the exotic flavor of Yuzu, a Japanese juice that tastes like a concentrated mixture of lemon, lime and orange. It imparts a tart flavor with no lingering aftertaste. It is rimmed with a cinnamon, sugar and cayenne for a sweet and spicy essence. ? These delightful coolers are a seasonal offering at Art and Soul, so hurry before the temperature drops. Sno-Cone cocktails are half price during happy hour- Monday –Thursday, 4-7 pm. The Laurel Park 1.5 oz Hendricks Gin .5 oz St Germaine .25 oz Simple Syrup Splash Sparkling Brut Rose 1 oz diced Strawberries 1 oz diced cucumbers Shaved or Crushed Ice Assemble a martini glass with layers of ice, cucumber, and strawberries, placing layers of ice in between the fruit for color contrast. Shake Gin, St Germaine and Simple Syrup. Pour over ice and fruit. Top off with sparkling rose. Ingredients to make the Laurel Park may be purchased at Dixie Liquor in Georgetown. Readers may sample this cocktail at Art and Soul at 415 New Jersey Ave.
What would you think if a man named Mr. Booze lived next door to you? Would you be concerned or curious? Or delighted, like the residents of Jerry Lenoir’s neighborhood? Jerry, along with his business partner Bill Flannery, is the man behind the super fun and retro-hip Mr-Booze Web site. Jerry’s home has turned into the local gathering spot. “I love making cocktails and entertaining guests” he gleamed, “I know all my neighbors .” The Mr-Booze Web site is a pleasant trip back in time when home bars were the norm and fashionable people enjoyed classic cocktails as soothing lounge music floated in the background. It pays tribute a time when martinis were martinis and drinks had names like the Old Fashioned and Singapore Sling. Jerry has become quite an expert on entertaining over the years. “I fell in love with home bars when he was 8-years-old, watching “Bewitched.” Darren would come home and Samantha would make an ice-cold pitcher of martinis.” His passion for cocktails continued throughout adulthood. “ In college while everyone else was drinking Natty Boh I was whipping up gin martinis,“ he recollected. “I found an apple crate and created a bar. Girls would come over. It was neat.” The trend continued until he and his wife bought their current home. “I was getting depressed looking at houses, until I walked into the basement of one home and saw the built-in bar. I knew this was our house!” Mr-Booze.com, along with the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC), recently hosted a seminar at the Occidental Grill on how to set up a home bar. While Phil Greene, a founding member of MOTAC, covered the basics such as proper barware, liquors and mixers, Jerry focused how to make your personal watering hole into an enjoyable place to relax and socialize. “Your home bar should be an oasis for you,” Jerry says, “a place where time stands still.” The Mr-Booze Web site is dedicated to teaching people how to create that classic cocktail vibe through décor, music, and lighting. It features information about where to find bar accessories. Jerry recommends scouring eBay, antique shops, thrift stores and estate sales for items. His basement refuge is brimming with kitschy decorations, stemware, celebrity photos, cocktail menus and books. “Good cocktails lead to good conversation, Jerry says, “and good talk can often erupt from the bric-a-brac, souvenirs and what-nots that you have around your set-up.” And because a drink enjoyed with a beautiful tune simply tastes better, Jerry’s Web site features reviews and recommendations for stimulating cocktail melodies. Most obviously, Mr-Booze.com is overflowing recipes, from cocktail classics to updates on old favorites. During the seminar, Jerry fixed one of his favorite tipples, the Stone Fence — a fruity mixture of apple brandy, cider and angostura bitters. Jerry discovered the drink in a 1912 recipe book and says it’s spiced apple flavor makes it a perfect elixir an for upcoming fall day. Mix one for yourself or make a large batch and invite your neighbors. The Stone Fence 3 oz Lairds Applejack 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters Apple Cider Fill tall glass or mug with ice, add Applejack and bitters and stir. Fill glass with cider. Dust with nutmeg and serve with a swizzle stick. For more information visit www.mr-booze.com or www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org. Ingredients to make the Stone Fence may be purchased at Dixie Liquor (3429 M St.) in Georgetown.