The tasting was blind, fellow judges Martin Cate, owner of tiki bar Smuggler's Cove, and Borys Saciuk, brand ambassador for 42 Below Vodka, and I were behind a mirror, so we couldn't tell which bartender mixed which drink. Besides enjoying eight mighty delicious libations, I also learned some interesting things. To find out what they are, keep reading.
While guest-bartending last week, I not only learned how hard it is to mix drinks, I also realized the importance of proper mixology tools. The first thing you need to invest in is a cocktail shaker. Not a three-piece shaker, but a Boston shaker. It consists of a clear pint glass with a larger mixing tin. The second most crucial utensil is a measuring cup like this one from Oxo. It should have easy-to-read measurements in ounces and tablespoons. A cocktail strainer, citrus juicer, and swivel-edged peeler are items you'll use over and over again. Although there's plenty of fancy bottle openers out there, I prefer the humble waiter's corkscrew — it simply opens wine and beer bottles. Don't overlook good bar towels (I love this set from Crate & Barrel); they'll come in handy for wiping up spills and cleaning glasses. The last thing your home bar needs is a quality pairing knife for slicing fruit and garnishes. These knifes are fun because they come in a variety of colors.
Recently Lucas Bols, the spirits brand behind Bols Genever, announced a unique series of classic cocktails seminars. The discussions would happen four times a year in both New York City and San Francisco. Along with the city by the bay's best bartenders, I was lucky enough to score an invite to the first seminar, "The History and Influence of Bitters." Here, I give you an account of the event.
The mixologist in my life is named Aaron. He's let me host parties at his bar and even created a cocktail specifically for me, so it's only natural that I want to surprise him with a fabulous gift. I selected a bunch of items that are ideal for Aaron, and any guy interested in the art of making cocktails. Every month they'll think of you when the scotch of the month club sends them a bottle of scotch. Give them a beautiful crystal decanter to display and aireate the scotch. Two books — Dale DeGroff's The Craft of the Cocktail and David Wondrich's Imbibe! — provide a wealth of knowledge on classic recipes and the history of the cocktail.
Browse the bartending boy gifts below and when you're done head over to HolidaySugar for more inspiration.
Prohibition wasn't repealed until 1933 making the first few years of the Great Depression sobering both literally and figuratively. As we head into our own depress recreate the magic of those first dry Depression years with some Speak Easy Prohibition chic! As we head into our bleak years we have suggestions for the discerning host bent on avoiding their bleak future. Let your guests skip boom market inflated $15 martini prices by hosting a tuxedo and top hatsoiree in your already depreciating TriBeCa loft. Wear your best Golden Fleece tuxedo and break out the Waterford crystal for one final hurrah.
One of my favorite seminars at the Food and Wine Classic was Tony Abou-Ganim's party punches and sangria class. A pioneer in the world of classic cocktail making, Ganim is known for establishing cocktail programs at prestigious bars in San Francisco, New York, and most recently Las Vegas. Referred to as the Modern Mixologist, Tony takes a culinary approach to cocktails and considers himself a "bar chef."
Earlier today I had the chance to speak with Tony over the phone. To see what the fabulous Abou-Ganim had to say in my exclusive interview, read more