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by Richard Lovell 12.19.2014 7 hours ago
Posted In: Food news, fundraising at 03:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ryan talking at table

Chef Ryan Santos and Please Looking for a Permanent Home

Their new kickstarter campaign is helping raise funds for a brick-and-mortar location

After four successful years as a pop-up dining experience in the downtown area and beyond, Please is looking for a permanent home. And chef and founder Ryan Santos has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the next step: a brick-and-mortar restaurant.   

Santos has been honing his culinary skills for nearly 10 years, having worked at his craft throughout the U.S. and in Europe with renowned chefs like Kevin Sousa and John Shields. Finding a spot to call home is only a natural progression for Please, known for using quality, locally grown produce and products to create new takes on classics and dream up inventive dishes like wild ohio venison with juniper branch or toasted milk ice cream. CityBeat sat down with Santos to discuss the Kickstarter campaign and what the future holds for Please. 

CityBeat: Why do you want to transition from a pop-up to a permanent location? 
Ryan Santos: Doing the pop-up has been great. It’s given me the freedom to find my voice and vision as a cook and a chef, to make mistakes, and learn greatly from them. But there comes a point when as a pop-up you can only take things to a certain level. We feel like we’ve plateaued at that point and are ready to keep pushing, improving and refining … We want something we can make and call our own, from the furniture to the food to the atmosphere. 

CB: You've been a pop-up restaurant for around four years now. Why is now the appropriate time for the transition? 
RS: I think the food scene here in town is really hitting its stride and I’ve grown to a point as a chef where I think what we do can contribute something meaningful to it. As well as our excitement to just be a part of it. 

CBWhat are your plans for a new restaurant? 
RS: We plan on continuing to do what we do. We want to open a restaurant where we continue to strive to be an honest, delicious, value-driven restaurant that continues to focus on creativity, quality and sourcing locally from the Ohio River Valley, Tristate and beyond. 

CB: What's going to be different about Please if it finds a permanent home? 
RS: The food will continue to grow, evolve and definitely we’ll be able to refine things. Right now with the pop-up it’s a lot of raw ideas, but in the format, it’s difficult to have the budget and time to refine dishes, so we are definitely looking forward to that. We’ll also have a bar with a fun beverage program. It’ll include our unique take on cocktails, a focus on local and European beers, and a wine program that focuses on natural, biodynamic and small producers. 

CB: If the Kickstar [campaign] succeeds, what's your timeline for finding a spot and opening? 
RS: The Kickstarter is also being supplemented by some private fundraising we’re still doing as well, so when all those things come together, we can get moving. We’re hoping to have a space and fundraising locked up and ready to start building out by this spring. 

You can help support their Kickstarter campaign here, or check out their website at pleasecincinnati.com. (A CityBeat 2013 cover story on Santos and Please is available here.)
 
 
by Maija Zummo 12.05.2014 14 days ago
at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
comet-hopnosis-7-2014

The Comet to Host Hopnosis 7 Craft Beer Festival this Weekend

Thirty kegs of rarities, debuts and fine brews Friday and Saturday

If you're a fan of craft beer, you might want to set up camp outside the Comet in Northside this weekend. The bar is hosting its seventh annual Hopnosis beer event, featuring 30 kegs of small batch beer, tapped hourly over Friday and Saturday.

The bar, which is already known for its wide beer selection, will be tapping rarities, debut releases and other fine brews from the likes of Great Lakes, Deschutes, Rhinegeist, MadTree and more. They list 19 of the included brews on their site:
  • Great Lakes Blackout Stout 
  • Deschutes Pine Drops 
  • Green Flash Jibe 
  • Victory Hop Harvest 
  • Lagunitas Extra Double Dry Hopped Pale 
  • Epic Element 29 
  • Brother’s Drake Apple Pie Mead 
  • Brew Kettle EL Lupulo Libre
  • Brooklyn Quadraceratops 
  • Affligem Noel 
  • Southern Tier Gemini 
  • Troegs Blizzard of Hops 
  • Smuttynose Smutlabs White IPA 
  • Bell’s Kal-Haven 
  • Christian Moerlein Tart Cherry Honey Almond Ale 
  • Rhinegeist Asterix 
  • Rhinegeist Ink 
  • MadTree Axis Mundi 
  • MadTree Funke Blue 
  • and more
4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Free entry; beer costs money. 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, cometbar.com.
 
 
by Maija Zummo 12.04.2014 15 days ago
Posted In: Coffee, Events, News at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
eats_carabellocoffee_jf2

Carabello Coffee Launches Kickstarter

Philanthropic-minded coffee company is looking to expand, donate more

Carabello Coffee in Newport, Ky., is a philanthropic coffee shop and roastery owned by husband and wife Emily and Justin Carabello. As a craft coffee bar, they have all the latte art and pour-overs you'd expect, but they also do something unexpected — the business gives back by turning over a portion of their profits to third world coffee regions in Nicaragua and Kenya. 

The couple had a vision for the shop in 2009, with the idea to start a company that would source coffee equitably and sell it to the U.S., investing the profits in sustainable initiatives in third world coffee communities. The Carabellos have visited these regions in Africa and Central America, sourcing their beans from coffee farms and helping the community by doing outreach and raising money for an orphanage in Nicaragua, where some of the world’s best coffee is grown. The kickstarter campaign Carabello just launched is not only aimed at helping Carabello itself expand, but also expand the amount of good they can do. Their goal is to eventually be able to give away $100,000 a year.

With a kickstarter goal of raising $40,000 (the city of Newport will kick in $15,000 if they spend $30,000 themselves), the money will assist the shop in doing renovations to expand to include a coffee training lab (for baristas and members of the public), a community event space and a slow bar, for true coffee geeks. The slow bar will be the first in the city and showcase alternative brewing methods that don't work in a faster-paced environment. 

To learn more or to back the Carabellos, visit their kickstarter project here.
 
 
by Maija Zummo 11.24.2014 25 days ago
Posted In: Chicken, Events, Food news, local restaurant, News, Openings at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
revolution rotisserie and bar

Revolution Rotisserie & Bar Goes Brick and Mortar

Findlay Market favorite finds a permanent home

Revolution Rotisserie & Bar owner Nicholas Pesola grew up in Chicago, working a variety of jobs, ranging from starting his own patio and landscaping company to bussing at a Greek restaurant. Ironically, he hated bussing and to avoid the restaurant industry, he went to the University of Dayton to study psychology and Spanish. After getting rejected from the various Ph.D. programs he applied to, he took some time out to reapply and started in management at Dewey's Pizza in the meantime.


"After a couple months, I started to realize that I liked being in the restaurant more than reading and writing scientific articles," Pesola says. "It was fast-paced, challenging and gave me an avenue to interact with people dynamically. In addition, I really enjoy how tangible the hospitality industry is."


This past summer, Pesola branched out and started selling rotisserie chicken on pita bread at Findlay Market. The resulting Revolution Rotisserie was so popular, he's opening a brick-and-mortar location on Race Street in Over-the-Rhine in early 2015. The rotisserie and bar will do dine-in, carry-out and catering, plus vegetarian options and specialty cocktails. 


We caught up with Pesola to learn more about the restaurant and his chicken technique.


CityBeat: Why chicken and how did that relationship come to pass? 

Nicholas Pesola: The concept originally had nothing to do with chicken. I wanted to introduce something unique to Cincinnati and I thought that it would be cool to reinvent gyros, one of my favorite foods from my youth. I wanted to stack marinated beef/lamb and do it like they do in Europe/Middle Eastern countries. I knew that I would have to offer other meats so I chose to stick with the rotisserie meat theme. When I put on tastings, everybody liked the rotisserie chicken sandwiches with my gourmet toppings and sauces the most. When no one offered to fund my unproven restaurant concept, I decided to start small at Findlay Market and pilot the idea. I knew I had to simplify my concept in order to be successful so I gave the people what they wanted: rotisserie chicken. I wanted to become known for rotisserie chicken sandwiches on pita bread because I thought that was the most unique. I also thought I would sell more sandwiches versus whole chickens to the Findlay Market crowd. 


CB: What's been the best response you've seen from a customer? 

NP: We have had many great responses. I love when people walk by my stand, stop abruptly after seeing the sample, and say, "That looks good. But what is it?" When they find out there is rotisserie chicken under the toppings and sauce, it is usually game over. I also enjoy the skeptical customer who reluctantly orders our food and then comes back with friends 10 minutes later because they really liked it.  


CB: Can you tell me more about your chicken? Where do you source it? What separates it from other rotisserie? Is there a special technique, seasoning, butcher? A family recipe? 

NP: We use Amish chicken from Miller Farms and will be switching to FreeBird chicken which has even more strict standards when it comes to how the chickens have been raised: no hormones, no preservatives, all vegetable diet, more room to roam, etc. Our chickens are never frozen, always fresh. We brine our birds, season them with a custom blend of the best spices, cook them on a gas-fired 40-bird rotisserie to perfection. And I assure you our whole chickens will not sit around for hours and dry out like they do at the grocery store. For our sandwiches, we hand-pull the meat, white and dark, and make sure it maintains its juiciness before serving. We have arrived at our current technique after talking with chefs and experimenting with other methods, but the reality is I'm always looking for ways to make the product even better. 


CB: So you're opening a brick-and-mortar spot in OTR? What inspired you to take the jump? 

NP: Even before I started at Findlay Market, I wanted to open up a brick-and-mortar shop. I just didn't have enough money and that was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to start small. I knew the time was right to circle back with potential investors when my customers kept asking where Revolution Rotisserie was located after eating our food. 


CB: Why OTR? And why Race versus Main or Vine? 

NP: I live in OTR and it's a very exciting place to hang out and start a business. The real question should be why not OTR? I believe my concept contributes something very unique to the scene. I chose the spot at 1106 Race Street because it was the size I wanted, featured an open kitchen, and fit my budget. In my opinion, Race Street is the next logical restaurant street in OTR because of Washington Park, Zula, Anchor, and Taft Ale House all down the street. Plus I live on Race Street, you can't beat that commute. 


CB: What will be on the menu at Revolution? 

NP: Chicken! We will showcase the versatility of chicken with eight rotisserie chicken sandwiches served on grilled pita bread — all of which can be made vegetarian by substituting hummus, black beans or extra veggies. This is a bold statement, considering we are primarily a chicken restaurant, but I think our pita sandwiches and salads set us up to offer one of the best vegetarian menus in the city. Of course, we will do whole/half chickens, side salads, mashed potatoes, cinnamon applesauce and a few other sides. At the bar, we will specialize in specialty cocktail infusions and of course, craft beer.


CB: People love chicken during the holidays. With restaurant prep ahead of you, will you still be at Findlay Market or taking any orders for whole or half chickens? 

NP: Unfortunately, the cold weather prevents us from operating at Findlay Market under the tent. However, if people would like to place catering or large carryout orders, they can email revolutionrotisserie@gmail.com. The best way to do this is to visit our website revolutionrotisserie.com. 


Follow along with Revolution's progress on Facebook and Twitter @RevolutionOTR. 


 
 
by Richard Lovell 11.20.2014 29 days ago
Posted In: Beer, Cincinnati, Alcohol, Food news at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_moerleinlagerhousebeerfestival

Seasonal Winter Releases from Local Breweries

Because everyone is over pumpkin

Tis the season for winter microbrews, and with MadTree, Rhinegeist, Christian Moerlein and plenty of others putting out unique and distinctive beers this winter, Cincinnatians have plenty of options to choose from.

Your favorite craft brewers have been hard at work combining the flavorful aspects of winter into their latest creations; ones that will surely keep you warm through the rest of the year — or at least drunk. You’ve probably worn thin of the ubiquitous Pumpkin Ales and the dull Winter Lagers, so here’s a list of the latest and upcoming craft beers. You should be able to get everything at the respective brewery's taprooms, but call ahead for availability and other serving locations.  

  • Long Way Home: A companion to Blank Slate’s “Fork In The Road” and “The Lesser Path,” this IPA is brewed with chocolate malt and aged on cocoa nibs. It has five different varieties of hops and a 10.4% ABV. 

  • Christkindl Winter Warmer: Unwrap this large-malt bodied ale with the essence of chocolate sweetness, and a balanced hop finish that creates a subtle spice flavor. On draft at the Moerlein Lager House. 6.95% ABV.

  • Coffee Please: Made with local coffee from Madeira's coffee please, this dark stout has a 7/1% ABV. Creamy and made with cold brew.
  • Home Sweet Home: An American brown ale with all the makings for a sweet potato pie, including cinnamon, sage, molasses and pecans. Who needs dessert when you have this. 7.1% ABV.

  • Chickow! Coconut and Chickow! Cinnamon Roll: These two beers will be released on Black Friday, with a limit of four bottle of each beer per customer.
  • White Death: A winter warmer ale with cinnamon, fermented in Kentucky bourbon barrels. 

  • Thundersnow: This sweet and bread beer has an 8.5% ABV, with hints of ginger, nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon. It's rare, so drink up while you can (or download the recipe at madtreebrewing.com). Look for it at Arnold's, Igby's, Boca, the Moerlein Larger House, Metropole and more; MadTree has a handy zip code locator on their site. 
  • Pilgrim: This is a super limited beer, with hops, malted barley, cranberries, walnuts and vanilla beans. With 5% ABV. 

  • Winter Ale: An ale with scents of spruce and ginger, and flavors of orange-spiced bread. 8% ABV. 

  • Dad: A hoppy red ale you can take home for the holidays; it will be served in cans for the first time this year. This ale balances crisp hops with juicy malt, and notes of citrus and cherry life savor. 6% ABV. 
  • Panther: Malty with notes of milk chocolate, carob and light molasses. 5.8% ABV. 

  • Winter Ale: This spiced winter ale is thick and creamy, with hints of caramel, toffee and cinnamon. Serve in a snifter. 8.2% ABV.
 
 
by Charlie Harmon 11.20.2014 29 days ago
Posted In: Events, Holiday at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
eats_vintage-thanksgiving-card

Places to Eat Thanksgiving Dinner That Aren't Your House

Let these restaurants do all the work for you

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when friends and family gather around the table to break bread, make merry and overindulge in turkey before falling asleep in front of the TV. But sometimes you just don't feel like cooking. Or your oven breaks. Or you want to completely avoid spending more time than you have to with your family. Luckily, some local restaurants are offering special Turkey Day deals and buffets so you can still stuff yourself with stuffing, minus all the effort. (Reservations required.)

BB Riverboats Thanksgiving Cruises: Enjoy a classic Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings while cruising on the river. Cruises 1-3 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. 
$40 adults; $20 children. 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com

Capital Grille: The steakhouse takes on Thanksgiving favorites. Also offering normal a la carte menu. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. lunch; 5-10 p.m. dinner. $36 adult; $15 child. 3821 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-351-0814, thecapitalgrille.com. 

Claddagh Irish Pub: Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. $14.99. Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., claddaghirishpubs.com

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant: Serving traditional Thanksgiving fare as well as the normal menu favorites. A La Carte. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. 8080 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-488-1110, coopershawkwinery.com.

deSha’s: Thanksgiving buffet featuring a carving station with prime rib, glazed ham and roasted turkey, plus a variety of sides and desserts. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. $32.95 adults; $12.95 children. 11320 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-247-9933, deshas.com/cincinnati.

Fall Feast: Give Back Cincinnati hosts the 10th year of Fall Feast, one of the region’s largest community Thanksgiving celebrations, bringing together neighbors and homeless and featuring food, live music, big screen TVs and a variety of free items and services like coats, haircuts, health screenings and flu shots. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; doors open at 9 a.m. Free. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, fallfeast.org.

Golden Lamb: Three-course prix fixe menu that includes an appetizer, salad course and entrée. 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. $25.95-$32.95 entrée. 27 South Broadway St., Lebanon, 513-932-5065, goldenlamb.com.

La Petite France: Thanksgiving buffet, including breakfast until 2 p.m., featuring all the traditional trimmings with entrée options of turkey, beef tenderloin, pork loin and baked ham. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. $34.95 adults; $15 children. 3177 Glendale-Milford Road, Evendale, 513-733-8383, lapetitefrance.biz.

McCormick and Schmick’s: Traditional roasted turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, and more. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. $24.99 adults; $9.99 children 12 & under. 21 E. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-721-9339, mccormickandschmicks.com.

Metropole: Enjoy Metropole favorites or choose from a special Thanksgiving menu with classics like roasted turkey breast and cranberry relish. A la carte. 2-8 p.m. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-578-6660, metropoleonwalnut.com

Mitchell’s Fish Market: Three-course Thanksgiving meal with a roasted turkey, stuffing and cranberry relish entrée and a few choices of sides and desserts. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. $27.99 adults; $6.99 children. Multiple locations including Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., mitchellsfishmarket.com.

National Exemplar: Three-course prime rib or roasted turkey dinner with traditional sides and dessert. Noon-7 p.m. $31.95 adults; $16.95 children under 12. 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-2103, nationalexemplar.com.

The Palace: Thanksgiving buffet with turkey, baked ham, short ribs, salmon, side dishes and dessert. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $65.95; $49.95 seniors; $24.95 children. 601 Vine St., The Cincinnatian Hotel, Downtown, palacecincinnati.com

The Presidents Room: Executive chef Jeremy Luers offers up a holiday-inspired menu with all the trimmings. You choice of snacks, soup or salad, entree and dessert include everything from sauerkraut balls and an iceberg salad with lamb bacon to a traditional turkey dinner (with brown-butter sweet potato puree, stuffing, Brussels sprouts and giblet gravy), pumpkin pie or pretzel bread pudding with dark beer gelato. 1-7 p.m. Prices vary. 812 Race St., The Phoenix, Downtown, 513-721-2260, thepresidentsrm.com.

Riley’s: All-you-can-eat Thanksgiving buffet, with beer and wine available. 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. $19.95. Riley’s Restaurant, 11568 Springfield Pike, Springdale, rileysgreatmeals.com

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse: Traditional three-course meal featuring oven-roasted turkey breast and sweet potato casserole. Noon-8 p.m. $39.95 adults; $12.95 children. 100 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, 513-381-0491, ruthschris.com.

Seasons 52: Traditional Thanksgiving fixings including roasted turkey, stuffing, sides and mini pumpkin pie. 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. $26.95 adults; $12.95 children. 3819 Edwards Road, Norwood, 513-631-5252, seasons52.com.

Walt’s Barbecue: All-you-can-eat buffet with premium smoked turkey breast, pulled pork and pit ham as entrees; classic sides like mashed potatoes and stuffing; and three options for dessert pie. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. $19.95 adults; $8.95 children. 6040 Colerain Ave., Colerain Township, 513-923-9800, waltsbarbecue.com.
 
 
by Maija Zummo 11.20.2014 29 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Beer, Cincinnati, Events, Food news, Openings at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
barrio

Barrio Tequileria in Northside to Reopen

More tacos!

The relatively short-lived Barrio Tequileria in Northside is re-opening next weekend, under new management and ownership. 

Starting with a grand re-opening Friday and Saturday evening (6 p.m. Nov. 28 and 29) the weekend after Thanksgiving, new owners Thomas Placke and 3TC entertainment say the restaurant will still serve Tex-Mex-style food, with updated offerings including smoked wings, house-cured smoked bacon and Texas-style smoked beef brisket chili. They'll also be serving up imported tequilas and specialty cocktails, like the Helltown Hooch, Pineapple Mint Margarita and Mango Habanero Margarita, plus non-alcoholic libations for kids (and non-drinking adults) like strawberry cucumber lemonade. 

An added bonus? The huge outdoor patio will double as a dog-friendly bar with a fire pit and a s'mores menu in winter, then games when the weather gets warmer.

A recent press release also says, "In commitment to the neighborhood, Barrio will continue with fan favorites such as open mic Jazz on Tuesdays, trivia night on Wednesdays and karaoke thursdays. Barrio will also offer live music nights and delve into the local Northside character by showcasing local artists and talent."

The restaurant will also seek out a variety of nonprofits to donate portions of proceeds to.  

Barrio is located at 3937 Spring Grove Ave., Northside. Follow along with updates on Facebook.
 
 
by Paloma Ianes 11.13.2014 36 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Cincinnati, Food news, News, Openings at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
myrtles punch house

Molly Wellmann's Myrtle's Punch House Opening Nov. 28

East Walnut Hills' revitalization continues with the new addition

Forget your Kool-Aid and your Sprite and whatever else goes into your office party’s punch bowl, for soon dignity will be restored to punch. Molly Wellmann’s newest creation, Myrtle’s Punch House, will specialize in handcrafted punch and a wide array of wines and craft beers. (The Wellmann Brand also owns Japp’s, Neons Unplugged and Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar.)  

Myrtle’s is located in the historic DeSales Corner of East Walnut Hills, and surprisingly punch itself is also heavy with history. It’s been around since the 1600s and is believed to have been first concocted by British sailors working with the East India Company. With months on deck, beer became flat and stale, and so an alternative was created. Punch originally comes from the Sanskrit word “panch” meaning five, referencing the five ingredients in the original classic punch: lemon, alcohol, sugar, spices and water or tea. Of course, like the rest of the world, punch has evolved, but despite the ingredients, the flavor template has remained the same. 

The opening event on Friday, Nov. 28, will begin at 7 p.m. with ribbon-cutting ceremony with Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, followed by a red carpet entrance, live music and food from Fireside Pizza. 

2735 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills. More information on Facebook.
 
 
by Jac Kern 11.06.2014 43 days ago
at 01:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Alton Brown Talks Cincinnati Eats

Famous non-Cincinnatian tries local food, does not hate it

Cincinnati-specific foods are often the butt of jokes when non-Midwesterners try them for the first time. I mean, who could forget Deadspin's assault on Cincinnati chili or West Coasters' reactions to goetta? But when celebrity chef Alton Brown came to Cincinnati for his live show Saturday, he arrived with an open mind and empty belly. Brown sampled some of the area's best coffee shops, restaurants and treats — and he had a lot of good things to say.

The Good Eats star got caffeinated at Over-the-Rhine's Coffee Emporium and Collective Espresso, both of which he gave rave reviews, and breakfast from Oakley's Sleepy Bee Cafe, where he tried goetta for the first time. For lunch, he chowed down on comfort food from The Eagle OTR (he enjoyed their quarter dark-meat chicken) and Eli's Barbeque, where he finally got his hot dog fix.

“I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a hot dog fan and while I’ve been to many places on this leg of the tour, I haven’t really satisfied my hot dog craving,” Brown says in his blog. “Well, consider that done now.”

Brown indulged his sweet tooth at Holtman’s Donuts (calling them “the best doughnuts the country has to offer”), Graeter’s, Aglamesis Bros. and Patty’s Old Fashioned Popcorn in Hyde Park.

Finally came the crown jewel of Queen City grub: Skyline Chili. Brown tried a coney and a three-way and totally didn’t freak out about it.

“I get the cult following,” he says.

Read about all of Brown’s local culinary adventures — and see his photos — here.

 
 
by Paloma Ianes 11.05.2014 44 days ago
at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Homemade Happy Hour: Obscura

Brian Gehrisch and Layne Schneider of Obscura share their favorite cocktails

Pop into Obscura (645 Walnut St., Downtown) and you’ll get an experience you won’t forget. The decor is fit for a scene out of 18th century France, and as I walked in I half expected to see Marie Antoinette lounging on one of the plush pastel chairs, eating cream pie and sipping on an Easter-themed cocktail. The drinks here are one-of-a-kind and offer sophisticated flavor combinations with a quirky twist.

CityBeat sat down to talk with Obscura’s General Manager Brian Gehrisch and bartender Layne Schneider.

CityBeat: How did you two get a start in the restaurant business?

Brian Gehrisch: I’ve been in the restaurant business since I was about 15 years old.

CB: You’re not worn out yet?

BG: You can humble yourself to the point where it doesn't hurt your pride to help out the greater cause. It’s one unit and everybody needs to make sacrifices, from the bottom to the top. And for me, I found as manager, as long as you are that one that is seen by your employees as the hardest worker willing to do anything that’s necessary to make this place succeed, typically those underneath you follow suit. So that’s where we are now. The culture here is not one for all, it’s all for one.

Layne Schneider: I started out in banquet serving when I was about 14, so about the same age. So we have roughly the same amount of exposure time to the service industry. I didn't get into bartending and cocktail waitressing and things like that until about a year-and-a-half ago. For almost that long we have been starting with this Obscura thing. We started training August last, so it’s been over a year.

BG: Layne and I are very fortunate that we were able to be trained by Benjamin Newby and Michael Huebner. Michael was the assistant general manager at the Aviary in Chicago which is the premier cocktail lounge in the country right now. Benjamin, he won the 2010 Bombay Sapphire Mixologist competition and has since been self-training and has become a bar consultant of sorts. 

CB: I was looking through your menu and you guys have very curious names for your drinks. How does Obscura go about naming their cocktails? What’s the method?

BG: It’s more about sticking true to form for Obscura and that is out of the ordinary. These aren’t going to be your prototypical cocktails and they aren’t going to get your prototypical names. The Churchill’s Cup, for instance, is made with Nolet’s Gin, which was Winston Churchill’s favorite brand of gin during WWII.

LS: A lot of the drinks where named by Benjamin and Michael for the original cocktails. And then we introduced some new spring cocktails.

BG: I can give you a story for one of our new fall cocktails, Mood Swings. We went with Mood Swing because it’s interesting. You find that at Obscura, consistency is hard to come by. Everybody here seems to be in a different kind of mood and has had a different kind of day. The Mood Swing opens up sweet, hits tart and finishes almost starchy. It’s a roller coaster of emotion on your palette, which matches the clientele of Obscura.

CB: What is the strangest ingredient you use in your cocktails?

LS: We make a lot of our own syrups. There have been a few that Brian has been focusing on lately. He tried a bacon infused simple [syrup] and apple and brown sugar infused simple [syrup]. I’d say our Togarashi-infused tequila is pretty unique. We use it in our Make it Work cocktail.

BG: Togarashi is a Chinese five spice.

LS: [Make it Work] is our spiciest cocktail. If people come in and say they want something with a spice kick to it, this is going to be the first one to recommend.

BG: We are also doing a tobacco-infused bourbon cocktail. So we use tobacco from a cigar. We are using a tobacco-infused syrup. Essentially, what you do is take a cigar tobacco, about 5 tablespoons of that, and it’s fermented in equal parts water and sugar. And after the sugar is boiled down, it leaves a tobacco residue flavor with the syrup.

CB: Give me your cocktail making style in three words.

LS: Unique is a good one across the board.

BG: Unique, pristine, fabulous.

CB: What kind of cuisine inspires Obscura’s drinks?

BG: We are going to be presenting our new menu; it’s going to be comprised of all of our new food items and will have a cocktail attached that best fits the pallet of the flavor involved. For instance, for our new vegan menu we are going to have a cocktail made of all herbal ingredients that’s presented next to it.

CB: What’s the best part of your job?

BG: Honestly, exposing Cincinnati to the true form of craft cocktails.

LS: We are one of a kind in Cincinnati, pretty much, so it’s nice being the place that does the cocktails. Not just a bar that happens to have good cocktails.

BG: We are on the precipice of something that is new and different to a conservative market. Where craft cocktails have been present in New York, Chicago, L.A. for the last 15 years, Cincinnati is really starting to come into its own in that category.

CB: What is your most popular drink at the moment?

LS: The Old Fashioned or the Mule, usually.

BG: We have the best Old Fashioned in the city.

CB: Really? I’ve heard that A Tavola has the best.

BG: That’s funny. Hey, listen, we could put this up to test. I have no problem getting the opinion of the rest of Cincinnati.

CB: What do you guys drink on your night off?

LS: The Old Fashioned, or one of our sparklings.

BG: Nothing soothes the soul like bourbon.

CB: What’s the most important skill a bartender should have?

BG: Presentation. Having excellent mechanics, all the knowledge in the world and the ability to present a cocktail that leaves the costumer satisfied with the amount they just paid for.

LS: Also being personable.

CB: Wha’ts your favorite bar in OTR?

BG: Japp’s.

LS: I would have to say the new place on Main, Liberty’s Bar and Bottle. I would say Neons, too. But Liberty’s did a lot of great things. I really love the internal space. They don’t really have cocktails — it’s pretty much like the furthest from what we do here. They have an excellent wine selection and I love everything they have on tap.

CB: Can you give us a recipe of one of your especially unique craft cocktails?

BG: For sure, we’re going to show you how a Mood Swing is made.

Mood Swing

1 oz. rosemary-infused Aperol
2 oz. strawberry Vermouth

1/2 oz. lemon simple syrup

1 dash Angostora bitters

1 dash of peach bitters

10 oz. Prosecco

1-inch piece of lemon peel

Combine all the ingredients over ice (except for Prosecco) in a cocktail shaker. Strain into glass. Add the Prosecco. Heat up lemon peel with a lighter and squeeze peel over glass. Garnish the glass with lemon peel.

 
 

 

 

 
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