Friday, May 22, 2015

Lovely Lunch at Lolita

Did you know Lolita on Munjoy Hill serves lunch? I didn't consider it as a lunch spot, but more for a special occasion dinner or a nice place to sit at the bar and catch up with a friend. But why not catch up with a friend over lunch? As the weather warms, their tables on the sunny side of Congress Street seem more and more appealing. 

I stopped in for lunch with Original Roomie A. earlier this week, and learned Lolita offers several daily $10 lunch specials. Side note: A. and I are practicing our "ladies who lunch" routine. We enjoyed the bento box lunch special at Miyake ($18!!) with some sparkling rose last month. This time we shared plates and loved the speciality cocktail: Hendrick's gin, Darjeeling tea syrup, St. Germain, lemon, and sparkling wine. Hello.  

Harissa sardine pot with sourdough

Another misconception of mine as it relates to Lolita is that it's fairly meat-heavy and rich. The last time I was in there, it was late fall, and I ordered a lot of rich meat dishes. But the menu has a lot of lighter dishes, yes, accented with meat, but with plenty of fresh vegetables too - especially in spring. Think chilled English pea soup, a spring salad, or Moroccan chickpeas. 

I, however, couldn't resist ordering meat and cheese: the Spanish sardines with harissa pot, the steak tartare and the burrata with lemon zest and Aleppo oil (3 for $10). 

One of the $10 lunch specials was an open-faced sandwich with a speck, arugula, and smoked tomato aioli on grilled sourdough bread. It's like Lolita in a sandwich: sliced Italian meat and a smoky flavor from their wood-fired grill. The sandwich came with a side of seared Shishito peppers, and I did encounter a few delightfully spicy ones. 

The other lunch specials were a rabbit stew with tomato, onion, and fennel, or a picnic board, where you selected one item from each of the meat and cheese selections, and it comes accompanied by spreads, pickles, and bread. 

So the next time you're getting your "ladies who lunch" on, consider heading up Munjoy Hill to Lolita for some small plates or the special (and definitely some wine). The Eastern Prom is waiting for you to relax on afterwards - and keep up the good work, weather!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

BBF Books: Distilled In Maine Update!

Man, the Portland food writing and restaurant scene just went crazy. Lost its damn mind over "Criticgate 2015." I'll just be over here, "la la la!" writing about whatever, trying to stay out of the fray. Because we all know I don't have strong opinions, mm-mm, not me. 

So: my exciting news! I have a beautiful preview of my next book to share with you. "Distilled in Maine: A History of Libations, Temperance and Craft Spirits" is off to print soon. It will be released mid-July, and you can bet your bottom there will be a party (with booze, natch). 

As usual, the designers at the History Press did a great job with the cover layout:

And you can see that famed bartender John Myers wrote a foreward! I was so excited when John agreed to do so; he's got a great voice and provided a nice overview of why Maine is so unique when it comes to alcohol (hint: it's the birthplace of Prohibition!). 

Of course, as soon as you hit "send" on something profiling the current scene (be it food, booze, or beer) it very soon becomes out-of-date, but the book features 9 craft distilleries in the state and an alcoholic history of Maine (it starts 400 years ago with the first European settlers, who introduced alcohol into the state). 

Naturally, Neal Dow, the so-called Father of Prohibition, plays a large part in the state's history, so I got to know ole Nealie, as I refer to him in my head, pretty well. He's a fascinating character, and I loved revisiting Portland in the 1800s through his eyes. 

I've got the page proofs now, and so I'll give it one final fine-toothed-comb once over, and then it's out of my hands. I'll let you know when and where the party is, as I'm so excited to share "Distilled in Maine" with you! 

Back cover copy: 

Early American Maine ran on sweet and fiery New England Rum. Later, rapid industrial advances and ever-present drinking opportunities made daily life unnecessarily hazardous. Overindulgence triggered a severe backlash, a fierce temperance movement and eighty-two years of prohibition in the Pine Tree State. While the coastal state never really dried out, the Maine Law sent both serious and social drinking under the table for the better part of a century. Liquor crafted in Maine has slowly and quietly remade itself into a respected drink, imbued with history and representing the best of the state’s ingenuity and self-reliance. Contemporary distillers across the state are concocting truly local spirits while creative bartenders are mixing the new and old, bringing back the art of a fine drink. Join Portland food writer Kate McCarty on a spirited romp through the evolution of Maine’s relationship with alcohol.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Kennebunkport Tequila Mixology Class + Mt. Vernon Whiskey Tasting

Warm weather! I can hardly believe it. Does anything go better with warm weather than tequila? If so, please enlighten me. I got into tequila last year, when I wrote about it for the Portland Phoenix. In my research, I explored the tequila selection at The North Point and Zapoteca, where I discovered Casamigos, George Clooney's brand. 

I mentioned the Portland Spirits Society on social media, as I'm wont to do, and seeing it, the program coordinator invited me to the Kennebunkport Resort Collection's tequila mixology workshop at David's KPT. The KRC has started offering mixology and cooking classes as a part of their Table series - follow David's on facebook for the schedule of classes when they return in the fall. 

My friends and I had a blast at the workshop; we love going to KPT and while the weather was not quite warm then, it was very sunny and nice in the raw bar of David's, which has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Kennebunk River. 

We were taught to make four drinks from the bar manager Joel Souza and learned about the tequila he was using, Casamigos, from the company's rep. As we sat, we found a Paloma waiting for us, one of my favorite tequila cocktails - a simple combination of grapefruit juice and tequila. Joel used the Casamigos Blanco (unaged) tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and topped it with a splash of Fresca (grapefruit soda). It was a bit sweet for my tastes - I'd prefer it with the optional soda water in place of the Fresca. 

As we sipped our Palomas, the Casamigos rep explained to us a bit about how George and his friend Rande Gerber (aka Mr. Cindy Crawford) came to have the idea to start a tequila house (shocker: while drinking tequila), how tequila is made, and the difference between the three types of tequila. He said: "there are many things that are lax in Mexico; tequila is not one of them," meaning that the process of making tequila is strictly regulated by the government. 

The three varieties of tequila are just aged for different lengths of time; the blanco is aged for two months, the reposado is aged for seven months, and the anejo is aged for fourteen. It was interesting to learn from Joel how the different kinds of tequila work in different drinks and with different liqueurs, like the orange curacao or triple sec used in margaritas. 

The first margarita was a blend of tequila reposado, triple sec, and lime juice. That's all! Margaritas are in the "sour" family of cocktails, not for the taste, but for their structure: a base liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener (like triple sec or Grand Marnier in the case of a margarita). If you like it on the more tart side, add more lime juice and back off on the sweeter orange liqueurs. 

Next we tried the "perfect" margarita, which doesn't refer to the quality of the drink, but rather the use of both Grand Marnier and triple sec. This variation refers to a perfect Manhattan, which is made with both dry and sweet vermouth (and whiskey). The perfect margarita was made with the anejo tequila, giving it a rich depth of flavor not usually associated with tequila drinks. Using only a bit of Grand Mariner boosts that flavor rather than obscuring it. 

We finished our class with an impromptu comparison of the three kinds of tequila. The differences are very apparent when they're tried straight up, side-by-side. Zapoteca offers "flights" of the three types of different brands of tequila (including Casamigos), so you can sample them in a more affordable way. Casamigos is also available at agency liquor stores throughout Maine, and the reposado isn't terribly expensive for such a nice bottle. 

Perfect Margarita
From David's KPT

1.5 oz. tequila anejo
1/4 oz. Cointreau
1/4 oz. Grand Marnier
2 oz. margarita mix 

Build over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake briefly and pour into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with additional lime wedges.

Margarita Mix

1 cup simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar)
1-1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice

Combine and store in the refrigerator. Shake before using and use within 1 month. 

In other liquor adventures, I weaseled my way into the Gaslight League's whiskey tasting at the Victoria Mansion. The Gaslight League is the museum's young donors' social club, and I attended as a guest - although the events are so fun and the people are so nice that I'm considering joining! 

A representative from Mt. Vernon - the home of George Washington in Virginia - visited Victoria Mansion to tell us about their work and to share the estate's whiskey with us. It was a very special event - the whiskey is very rare and expensive, as it's made completely by hand (by people in breeches and dresses even) in the historic distillery only twice a year. 

After a bit about Washington and the evolution of the estate's preservation, we got to the exciting part - tasting the whiskey. To start, the Mt. Vernon rep shared with us three whiskeys that are each made with a component of Mt. Vernon whiskey's mash bill. We started with Whistlepig rye, then Hudson Baby Bourbon (corn-based), and then Westland from Seattle, made with malted barley. 

The Mt. Vernon rye whiskey is made from those three ingredients, and is offered in an unaged and an aged (two years) version. The unaged rye whiskey is, um... strong. After tasting the three aged whiskeys, it was a shock to go to an unaged spirit. The finished Mt. Vernon rye was much smoother, but my favorite of the five was the Whistlepig rye - which was surprising! If I had to guess, I would have thought I prefered the bourbon to the spicier rye. But again, the side-by-side tasting allowed for an informative comparison. 

Washington's whiskey is sold at the distillery only and goes for $90 for 16oz. of the unaged and $180 for 16oz. of the aged whiskey. So tasting at the Victoria Mansion was an incredible opportunity (once in a lifetime, probably!), and I'm so grateful I was able to squeeze into the event at the last minute. In the meantime, try the Whistlepig rye, made in Vermont, unfortunately not available in Maine or New Hampshire, but look for it in Vermont or Massachusetts. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Dispatch Magazine + Spring Portland, Maine CSA Options

Dispatch magazine is back! Or rather it's under new management, but it's more exciting to say it has returning with a vengeance. And with it, more writing from yours truly as I'll be contributing, hopefully on the reg. The magazine was revived with support from Down East magazine, which means that while Dispatch has its own staff and freelance writers, it now receives publishing and editing help from Down East. 

You can find your complimentary copy around Portland, and in it, you'll see some of the same bold photography and layout that Down East has been embracing lately. The May issue has a "50 Takeout Dishes" in Portland spread, and I contributed the first 10 or so items. 

My cat was very interested in what was going on with this magazine.

I also contributed to a short piece about CSA options in Maine. I tried to select farms that represents a variety of different approaches to the model, including the farm from which I get a CSA: New Beat Farm. The farm is in Waldo, but they deliver to Munjoy Hill. It's one of the (if not the) most reasonably priced shares, at $400 for 18 weeks. 

The Portland Farmers' Market moved outside this week (!!!), a good sign of the seasons changing. Change, dammit. We'll soon have locally-grown rhubarb, peas, strawberries, and greens. I'm ready to move away from hearty, earthy vegetables. 

In the meantime though, I brightened up my diet with a share from Casco Bay Organics. This local company delivers shares of organic fruits and vegetables to your door every week. Beth, their operations manager, got in touch with me and offered me a week's share to enjoy. I eagerly accepted, and signed up online, where I could see what was coming to me. After that, I could even substitute out any dislikes for more desirable items. (I think I swapped a bunch of cilantro for some green beans.)

A weekly share from Casco Bay Organics

My weekly share included: two oranges, two apples, four bananas, an eggplant, a bunch of purple curly kale, a bag of green beans, a bag of mushrooms, and a bunch of broccolini. It easily made 4 to 5 meals for two. I made eggplant parmesan, sauteed green beans and mushrooms to serve alongside mashed potatoes and pork chops, and a chicken and veggie stir fry to use up whatever was left. 

A small share from Casco Bay Organics is $34 for a week. The company is locally-owned and uses produce from Maine farms when it's available. Obviously this mid-April share wasn't local, but we'll be seeing the local produce roll in soon enough! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tiki at Home: Mai Tais and Pina Coladas

I'm really getting into home bartending. While I love going out, sitting at the bar, and letting someone else prepare me a delicious cocktail, I'm also embracing the challenge of making high-caliber drinks at home. For one, it's decidedly cheaper! And it's fun to explore the world of liquors and liqueurs. 

After a recent spate of delicious Mai Tais (at Maison Premiere in Brooklyn and Eventide), I decided I wanted to tackle making the best version at home. Fortunately, many before me have done the heavy lifting of figuring out which rums are best for the drink. 

Original Roomie A. picked up Appleton Estate, a Jamaican rum, aged for 12 years, and the Clement Creole Shrubb, a rhum agricole infused with orange peels and spices (both available at RSVP in Portland). The other uncommon ingredient in a Mai Tai is orgeat syrup, a simple syrup infused with toasted almonds and orange flower water. You can make your own, but A. went to Vena's Fizz House and bought B.G. Reynolds'. I'm still eyeing Small Hands Foods version, but we have enough to last us a while now. 

Once you've dropped some dough at RSVP, the hard part is over. Now you just need to make up a turbinado (aka sugar in the raw) simple syrup of one part sugar to one part water and squeeze some limes. 

The Best Mai Tai 
Adapted from Rum Dood

2 oz. Appleton Estates rum
1/2 oz. Clement Creole Shrubb
1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
1/4 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with paper umbrella, lime wheel, and mint spring. 

For good measure, we had a backup drink for after those easy-drinking Mai Tais disappeared. I'd previously frozen pineapple juice in ice cube trays after a mid-winter pick-me-up Pina Colada session. I combined those, some Myer's rum, some Cream of Coconut, and some lime juice in the blender. After some questionably unsafe techniques were employed with a small saw, screwdrivers, and a rolling pin, we hollowed out some coconuts and enjoyed our tropical drinks out of them. 

It's almost summer, I can feel it. 

Have a good weekend! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tiki Cocktail Love + Rum Riots Events

I've become pretty obsessed with all things tiki lately (well, as it relates to drinks, at least). And I know that in the bartending world, I'm probably at least five years late to the party. I just said to a friend in the beer industry that I heard goses were "so in." She cut me a look, and said, "yeah, like three months ago" - meaning more that by the time the mainstream hears about a trend, the industry is off and running to the next new thing. But I'm still tiki'ing over here - I don't think we've jumped the shark yet! 

For those of you who might need some background, tiki culture first came to the U.S. in the mid-1930s, and then became trendy in the 50s and 60s after WWII. Many men returned home after spending time in the South Pacific, and the tiki culture reminded them of the "exotic" lands they'd spent time in. Combine it with the SoCal mod scene, and you've got the perfect mix of scenester escapism. (Note: avoid racism and cultural appropriation by focusing on the fantasy of paradise and not so much the tiki sculptures that Maori people hold sacred.) 

But by the 80s, the drinks had gotten all syrupy and overdone (so I hear) and were due for a makeover. The craft cocktail renaissance of the 00s kicked out the corn syrup and brought the Mai Tai, the Zombie, the Pina Colada back into balance. 

Mai Tais at Eventide Oyster Co. 

My favorite place to get tiki drinks in Portland is, hands down, Eventide Oyster Co. I gravitate towards the rum tiki drinks - so I enjoy the Mai Tai, the Walking Dead, and on occasions, a Scorpion Bowl. In addition to Caribbean rums, flavored syrups, and fresh juices, Eventide's bartenders complete the effect with great garnishes like paper umbrellas, bendy straws, and fresh fruit. Sipping on one becomes very "Calgon, take me away." 

I'm working on building my home tiki bar (OK, I should say, Original Roomie A. is building one on my behalf), so I'm looking forward to the Tiki Cocktail Seminar during the Portland Rum Riots events. Briana Volk of Portland Hunt & Alpine Club is organizing a fantastic weekend of workshops, dinners, and themed events at bars around Portland, May 30th through June 3rd. 

The Tiki Seminar is taught by friends of Briana's, who bartend at the tiki bar The Yachtsman in Philadelphia. It's at Hugo's on Saturday, May 30th from 1-3pm, and snacks are provided by Eventide. The tickets are limited to 40 and going fast, so if you want to go, grab one now. 

If that event sells out or you can't make it, dry your tears on a bar napkin at one of the other fantastic events. Maybe you want to learn about the intriguingly weird-tasting Italian liqueur Chartresue? Or cocktail books with bartender John Myers and Don Lindgren of Rabelais Books? Maybe you want to help to judge a shot and a beer competition? It's all there for the taking. Briana has done the community a fantastic service by putting these events on in our little town, so let's get out and support them! 

View the full Rum Riots schedule of events at

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First Look: The Honey Paw

The Honey Paw, the much-awaited "non-denominational noodle bar" from the owners of Hugo's and Eventide Oyster Co. is now open. They are open from 11 a.m until 10 p.m. today through Monday at 78 Middle Street (next to Eventide). 

A big thank you to the staff and owners for having us in. Here's what I had during my visit: 

Pickle plate with housemade daikon radish kimchi and a medley of bread and butter,
mushroom, and compressed daikon pickles. 

Tofu and crab fritters - and pink wine!

Rice and potato dok with beef rendang and pickled cauliflower.

From a subsequent visit: fried whole black bass over pineapple fried rice
with cilantro salsa verde and "secret" sauce aka ketchup and soy

Magic shell soft serve!!

Friends + family menu

The Honey Paw on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BBF Travels: Eating in Brooklyn, New York

Phew. Now that I've looked back on these photos of my weekend in Brooklyn, there was a lot of eating and drinking. As usual, we were just killing time between meals. We visited Original Roomie A.'s favorite spots around her friend's apartment, where we were staying in Williamsburg. My special request was Smorgasburg, the outdoor food festival that happens every Saturday in the warmer months, and Mission Chinese, but other than that, A. curated our spots. 

It's hard to avoid comparison of Brooklyn and Portland, in that you think to yourself, what's all the hype about here? Things are different in Williamsburg, for sure, but at the same time, I was again reminded why Portland's food and drink scene is so impressive. The food we enjoyed at the hip spots could have come from several restaurants in Portland - I didn't once think, "oh, this could never work in Portland" or "you can't get X this good in Portland." Aside from the chopped salad restaurants that we're lacking, our Portland darlings like Duckfat, Eventide, East Ender, and Central Provisions could all hold their own against the similar Williamsburg restaurants in which I ate. 

But the waits for a table are shorter in Portland, and you'll never have to stand in a vestibule overhearing an annoying conversation about how a gaggle of 20 somethings should just go to that rooftop bar and order bottle service (yes, yes, you should go and do that - please). 

So speaking of waiting in line, we started with Mission Chinese in Chinatown, and arrived early (5:15) to find a short line. We only waited a few minutes before we all filed in and were sat. Mission Chinese is a fun spot, with dim lights, loud club music, and bizarre decor. 

We ordered a pickle plate, beef tartare, kung pao pastrami (below), and salt cod fried rice. The kitchen sent scrambled egg and scallion dumplings, which along with the beef tartare were the standouts. The liberal use of sichuan peppercorns and their mouth-numbing effect failed to impress us; it just interrupts your ability to taste the food. But our Evil Twin Mission Goze, a salty, sour beer, paired really well with the food. 

But overall, we were not in love with Mission Chinese - it was fine for what it was, but if we'd waited over two hours (as the wait is during prime time), we would have been aggravated. 

Later in the evening, we enjoyed lovely cocktails at Maison Premiere, an adorable French oyster and cocktail bar. There's a long list of absinthes, the bartenders wear delightful old-timey outfits, and the cocktails were fabulous. I had a Mai Tai and A. enjoyed a Lexington Crusoe: Plymouth Sloe Gin, Malort, pacharan, lemon, pineapple, and blackberry. 

We checked out Sweet Chick, a new Southern-style restaurant to enjoy a late-night drink. There's a entire section of the menu dedicated to chicken and waffles, so I loved the place immediately, even though the entire bar seemed to be covered in a fine layer of Aunt Jemima. 

A. enjoyed a gin and limeade cocktail while I was drawn to the Scythe and Sickle: tequila, mezcal, pineapple juice, lemon, and spicy agave bitters. 

The next day, we headed to Smorgasburg, the outdoor food festival. It was extremely windy, so we didn't stick around for long - we were afraid we were going to witness a decapitation by flying sign, so we headed out after a few snacks. 

We enjoyed a duck bun from Bite Size Kitchen (above) and a hotdog topped with mango relish, cucumber, peanuts, cilantro, and fish sauce from Asiadog

For a late lunch, we tried Rabbithole. The staff was so friendly there - the host exclaimed, I want to go to Maine! after he asked where we were from. We enjoyed a BLT with avocado and an eggs benedict florentine in a sunny window overlooking their sweet patio area. 

Later in the afternoon, we went to Greenpoint to Keg & Lantern, where my college friend is the brewer. We tried a variety of styles in a flight: a Scottish ale, a wild American white ale, a coconut porter, and a rye IPA on cask. 

PJ showed us around the neighborhood a bit, taking us to Torst, the craft beer bar from the brewer of Evil Twin. I enjoyed an Other Half triple IPA in the chic bar - I didn't even know TIPAs existed! Of course I was in. 

Next, we headed to Greenpoint Fish & Lobster, a really fabulous small seafood restaurant with a fresh fish counter in the front. Their menu is simple and the types of fish in each preparation change frequently. Of course, I got to engage in one of my favorite activities since moving to Maine: laughing at the price for a steamed lobster when out-of-state. Here? $29. Tee. 

We enjoyed oysters from Mass, Maine, and Virginia before chowing on some delicious hake tacos. Then we said our goodbyes to my friend and headed back to Williamsburg - to Brooklyn Surf Bar, an adorable tiki-themed bar with sand on the floor (!!!). 

The next day, however, the tiki drinks haunted me, so we headed to The Commodore, a dive yacht bar, for fried chicken on a biscuit. A little Ferris Bueller's Day Off and a mimosa and I was good to head to Red Hook for some distillery tours. 

Red Hook is just the cutest little part of Brooklyn. There's no convenient train stop, so there's hardly anyone there (except for in the IKEA!). There's tons of industrial space that allows for distilleries, wineries, and food vendors, and then little artisan shops too. 

We started at Van Brunt Stillhouse, where the nicest duo gave us a tour and a tasting of their whiskeys. They make cocktails in the distillery's tasting room, and in the summer, with the large windows open, I'd never leave. They'd have to make me an intern or something, since I'd be there all.the.time. We loved it. 

After tasting at Widow Jane distillery and a walk around the water, we were worn out, so we headed to Fort Defiance for a final snack. We shared a muffaletta, deviled eggs, and I enjoyed an extremely fluffy Ramos gin fizz. 

After all that eating, drinking, and walking, I was ready to come home! Once again, I ate my way through Brooklyn, and returned to Portland with a fresh appreciation for why I love living here. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cocktails with Royal Rose Simple Syrups

I love Royal Rose's flavored simple syrups - I use them in cocktails, and I mix with soda water for lightly flavored homemade sodas. Their unique flavors add give cocktails unexpected depth (like in my favorite Saffron Sour at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club), and you can feel good about their use of natural, organic ingredients. I've always had several bottles on hand ever since they came to Maine, launching with a cocktail party in a Biddeford mill building in 2013. 

Emily and Forrest, the couple behind the products, have since moved their manufacturing to Brunswick and continue to add new flavors. Emily offered to send me the newest flavors, and I immediately began searching for recipes using the unusual ingredients like fenugreek, anise, and jasmine. 

Turns out their bottles come with some of the best recipes for their products; the one recipe I found on my own was a bit of a flop in my mind (I've included it anyway, in case you think it runs towards your tastes). 

The anise simple syrup is made with both star anise pods and fennel seeds, in addition to cane sugar and lemon juice. The syrup is subtly anise-flavored; I know many don't like the stuff, but this syrup is a good gateway into the world of licorice flavors. It's not overpowering, but sweet and a little tart, and blended very well in the Love Below. It would make a great summertime or brunch cocktail.

The Love Below
From Royal Rose Simple Syrups

1 oz. light rum
1 oz. peach or orange juice
1/2 oz. Royal Rose Anise Syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

Combine rum, juices, and syrup in a cocktail shaker. Ad ice and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe glass or champagne flute and top with prosecco.

The Rose Connelly brings out the earthier notes of the syrup; I didn't get much anise at all. If you think its a little sweet, as I did, an additional squeeze of lime will bring it into balance.

Rose Connelly
From Royal Rose Simple Syrups

1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1/4 oz. St Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. Royal Rose Anise Syrup
1/2 oz. lime juice

Shake ingredients with ice. Serve straight up or on the rocks.

After a few missteps, I ran out of rye whiskey, so I turned to Knob Creek for the Fenugreek Is Not Fennel! cocktail. And indeed, it's not fennel, but rather has a sweet, molasses type flavor in a syrup - it's actually used to make the flavoring that flavors artificial maple syrup.

Fenugreek Is Not Fennel!
From Royal Rose Simple Syrups

1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Royal Rose Fenugreek Syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

The only misstep was, again, when I tried to find my own recipe - this Michigan Sweat Lodge sounded promising, although it was a Maine Sweat Lodge when I made it, since I used Maine wild blueberries. The harsh, bitter notes of Cocchi Americano and Campari combined and overtook any other flavor, however. If you just love the bitter end of Campari, this cocktail is for you.

Maine Sweat Lodge
Adapted from Chicago Reader

6-8 Maine blueberries
1.5 oz Wild Turkey 101 rye whiskey
1 oz Cocchi Americano
.5 oz Royal Rose fenugreek syrup
.5 oz Campari
dash Angostura bitters

Muddle blueberries in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add spirits, fenugreek syrup, and bitters. Add ice, and stir until it's chilled and the flavors are incorporated. Strain into a chilled martini or old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a smoked blueberry.

Stay tuned for recipes using the Jasmine, Ginger-Lime, and Orange-Vanilla flavors!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

April Portland Spirits Society Tasting: Salvage BBQ

I love Salvage BBQ so much, but I always think of their great barbecue, sides, and craft beer selection. So I was surprised when a Portland Hunt & Alpine Club bartender suggested them as a place with a great bourbon selection. 

I was casting about for opinions on where to host our next Portland Spirits Society event - and Salvage is a great place to host a big group, whether for a meetup or a party. The casual counter service and picnic tables lends itself well to coming and going, casually dropping in, and mingling. 

So our next women's whiskey tasting will be at Salvage on Wednesday, April 15th at 6pm. We'll be ordering from Salvage's large selection of bourbons and discussing what we taste, while we get to know other women interested in whiskey.

Plus, their delicious trays of fatty meats and fried sides can provide a solid base for all that booze! 

Join us for a night of casual bourbon education and delicious food. The event is pay-as-you-go and you can drop in anytime after 6pm. If you're a facebooker, RSVP to the event there. 

Buffalo Trace bourbon cocktail at Timber

And a few women and booze links: 
  • This woman offers "Nosing Services" to craft distillers to help them evaluate and blend their whiskeys. "The Sniffer," by Wayne Curtis, The Atlantic

  • Heather Greene, whiskey sommelier at The Flatiron Room in Manhattan, knows her shit and still faces sexism in the industry.

  • The Portland Rum Riots, May 31-June 2, will have lots of great liquor education events. Details on the special Portland Spirits Society/Rum Riots event coming soon!