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by Paloma Ianes 11.13.2014 107 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 114 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 115 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.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 11.04.2014 116 days ago
Posted In: Cincinnati, Food news, News, Recipes at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cook Your Way Through Findlay Market

Findlay Market Cookbook goes on sale Nov. 6

Findlay Market and foodies go hand in hand (as do people who enjoy cost-effective wine tastings at noon on a Sunday followed by some Velvet Smoke BBQ). Now, you can experience Findlay Market in your own home…sort of. 

The new Findlay Market Cookbook ($24.95) goes on sale on Thursday, Nov. 6, and it's full of recipes from market merchants, farmers, food artisans and favorite local celebrity chefs, including Jose Salazar, Julie Francis, Jean-Robert de Cavel and more. With more than 100 recipes — featuring profiles and photos — the cookbook not only helps you recreate some of your favorite market eats, it also celebrates history, local food and community in the way only Findlay Market can. 

Pre-order is available here. Books can be picked up at the Market Center in the main market house or at select vendors. A portion of proceeds benefits the Findlay Market Fund.
 
 
by Paloma Ianes 10.30.2014 121 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol at 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
the one

Homemade Happy Hour: A Tavola

A Tavola's Aaron Strasser shares his favorite cocktails

A Tavola has made its mark on Over-The-Rhine with its rustic wood fired pizzas and superb flavor combinations. What you might not know about the high-end pizza joint is that its craft cocktails are one-of-a-kind. CityBeat sat down with A Tavola’s head bartender Aaron Strasser to pick his brain, and it turns out he is as personable as he is creative and stirs up one hell of a cocktail.

CityBeat: How did your career in bartending start?

Aaron Strasser: I was a history major at UC, and my favorite period of time was Prohibition. I found it very interesting that you could ban one of the greatest things in the world — the cocktail. I really got into studying that when I was in college. I also started flavor profiles. I grew up in the kitchen with my mom and she always baking stuff and I loved tasting all the flavors and figuring out, ‘Oh, you can pair this with this.’ I got my start here at A Tavola almost four years ago. I didn't know much, but what I did know is flavor profiles and combinations. So the owners gave me a chance and allowed me to make the bar what it is now.

CB: What’s your favorite spirit?

AS: I usually go with my whiskeys and bourbon. Rye whiskey for sure.

CB: What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve used in a cocktail?

AS: I have a couple. I always saw that simple syrups were being made with fruits and some herbs and spices, but I wanted to make a simple syrup out of a vegetable, so I made a red beet and ginger simple syrup, which goes great with gin. It’s very unique, it’s a beautiful color and the taste was very interesting. I didn't want to just use fruit. Another strange ingredient in our new cocktail menu is the jalapeño jam instead of a simple syrup. It’s a recipe that one of my kitchen people and I have worked on. I wanted to have something that was sweet and savory. We do a lot of that as far as combinations go — even in our food — lots of sweet and savory.

CB: Do you see a change in cocktail culture around OTR?

AS: Oh, yeah, its definitely growing. There is a lot more appreciation as far as drinks go. A lot of people are not just ordering cocktails that they know, instead they are actually looking at the cocktails and asking, ‘What does this place have to offer that I haven’t tried before?'

CB: If you had to pick one cocktail to drink for the rest of your life what would it be?

AS: An Old Fashioned.

Old Fashioned

2 Amarena cherries
1 slice of orange
1 sugar cube

1 or 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 oz. rye or bourbon whiskey

Club soda

Place the sugar cube in a glass and add one or two dashes of Angostura bitters and a splash of club soda. Muddle the the sugar cube. Add whiskey and ice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. With a lighter, singe a strip of orange peel and pinch the peel to release oils. Add the orange peel and the Amarena cherries to top it all off.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 10.29.2014 122 days ago
Posted In: Events, Food news, local restaurant, News, Openings at 10:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
the mercer

Team Behind Kaze, Embers to Open New OTR Eatery

The Mercer OTR bistro will feature European-influenced dishes

Restaurateur Jon Zippersteain — the man behind Japanese gastropub Kaze in OTR and sushi/steakhouse Embers in Kenwood — is slated to open the new Mercer OTR on Nov. 4.

The Mercer, at corner of Vine and Mercer streets (on the ground floor of the Mercer Commons apartment complex), will be a casual, European-influenced bistro with seating for up to 60.

"This restaurant was inspired by the sophistication and Mod sensibilities of '60s cinema, which idealized and often parodied 'The Sweet Life' a la 'La Dolce Vita'," says Zipperstein in a recent press release. "There is a vibrant lifestyle here in OTR that we want to echo. I want people to think of The Mercer as a living room for the neighborhood."

Chef Dan Stoltz will interpret rustic Italian-European dishes — like duck-leg cassoulet, porterhouse for two, short ribs, risotto and chicken saltimbocca — in a modern, contemporary way. All pasta, including garganelli, will be made in-house. 

On the bar end, the full-service bar — overseen by head mixologist Greg Wefer — will seat 40 and include Prohibition-era favorites like the Americano (Campari, Aperol, sweet vermouth and lime) and a Blood Orange Sazerac (rye, Solerno and blood orange bitters), plus a diverse wine list and local and craft beers. 

The restaurant is slated to open on Nov. 4 and will be — get this! — accepting reservations. Make them at opentable.com or call 513-381-0791.

The Mercer OTR, 1324 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-0791, facebook.com/TheMercerOTR.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 10.24.2014 127 days ago
Posted In: News, Openings, local restaurant at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
eats_jeanrobert_jf1

JRo to Open Le Bar a Boeuf in Edgecliff Building

The neo-French bistro will serve takes on classic French and American fare

Everyone's favorite French chef Jean-Robert de Cavel, owner of Table and French Crust Cafe, is opening a new destination restaurant in The Edgecliff condominium building in Walnut Hills (2200 Victory Parkway). 

The whimsically titled Le Bar a Boeuf — literally translated to "beef bar" — will be a French neo-bistro, de Cavel says, with new takes on classic French and American dishes; more casual than the Table with the intent that everybody will be able to share (at least the appetizers).

"It's not a classic bistro, like when I did Jean Ro," de Cavel says. "This neo-bistro is something from the past you are familiar with but in a modern way." 

The menu (which is currently being finalized) will feature six or seven appetizers, from homemade pate and crab cakes ("Of course crab cakes," de Cavel says) to beef and salmon tartare, deviled eggs and lobster macaroni and cheese, along with entrees that focus on ground meat. 

"So like a burger without the bread," he says. 

The chef has always wanted to do a burger bar-type restaurant, but Le Bar a Boeuf will be something more, elevating the street food with a French twist; a burger you eat with a fork and knife. The ground meat — which includes choices like Wagyu beef, seafood and lamb — keeps entree prices down (they're currently slated to be in the $16-$28 range), while still providing quality. It also allows patrons to top their "burgers" with a variety of add-ons. 

"You can have a burger with sautéed chicken liver on it, or you can have pork belly or foie gras, confit tomatoes or roasted portobello mushrooms," de Cavel says.

Le Bar a Boeuf's Chef de Cuisine will be Mirko Ravlic with sous chef Travis Reidel, both from Table. Table's wine director Evan Abrams will be developing the moderately priced and global wine list. The bar will also serve classic cocktails, and local, import and domestic beers. And Lindsay Furia, most recently of New York's 11 Madison Park, will come aboard as general manager.

Previously home to restaurants including The Edgecliff Room, View, Four and Coach, de Cavel has made a few changes to the 70-person dining room, lounge and patio, with help from HighStreet and the designer who helped with Table, to make the atmosphere "funky" and "different."

Slated to open by mid-November, one of the former selling points of the restaurant location was the panoramic river-view (hence the former eatery "View"). 

"I never want to promote the view; the view, for me, it's an extra," de Cavel says. "It's an extra thing. I want it to be a fun restaurant; a destination restaurant. Fun for the younger generation to the older generation."

Le Bar a Boeuf will open for dinner Tuesdays-Saturdays initially, and then for lunch and brunch Wednesday-Sunday shortly after. Follow progress on Twitter and Instagram @baraboeufcincy
 
 
by Jac Kern 10.23.2014 128 days ago
at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
jerks

West Coasters Taste Ohio Delicacies in Real Estate Blog Video

What? Why?

Movoto Real Estate made a video introducing 12 West Coasters to five of Ohio’s favorite dishes. Predictably, the Cincinnati-centric grub gets mass hate by people with extremely sensitive gag reflexes. Here are the best reactions.

Glier’s Goetta: On its appearance: “Quinoa sausage?” On its taste: “[I want] an Egg McMuffin with that.” On its mouth feel: “You can’t choke on it, it just slides right down.”

Grippo’s Bar-B-Q chips: “It almost looks like human skin.” “They probably serve this at, like, games and shit. Like, ‘I’m at the Reds game in Cincinnati. Cincy!” “Have you ever walked into an old warehouse and it has, like, that musty smell? That’s what it tastes like.”

Skyline three-way: “Looks like some jail spaghetti.” “I can see this being like comfort food, but for some reason it’s not comforting me.”

Sauerkraut Balls: “It legitimately looks like a poop.” “Like a white person pot sticker”

Buckeyes: Everyone enjoy this with little verbal reactions except for a couple assholes that collectively hate chocolate and peanut butter (as well as puppies and sunshine, I’m guessing). A buckeye made them gag.

In the end, how did our high-brow neighbors to the west feel about Ohioans?

“Turns out they’re just regular humans like you and me.” There you have it, folks!

It’s unclear whether this video was created to spark interest in Ohio real estate or remind Midwesterners that they’ll die fat and unsophisticated if they don’t move to California. Decide for yourself:

Ohio: Home of regular humans since 1803.

 
 
by Kristen Franke 10.17.2014 134 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Beer, Cincinnati, Events, Food news, Food art at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Palace's Chef Joe West Wins CityBeat's Iron Fork

While attendees ate and drank at Moerlein's brewery space

Wednesday, Oct. 15, kicked off CityBeat’s maiden voyage for Iron Fork Cincinnati, a Iron Chef-esque cooking competition complete with famous chefs from around the city, closed-circuit television and, of course, plenty of food and drink to keep the attendees happy and buzzed.

The event, which raised money for local nonprofit Gabriel’s Place and its Junior Culinary Institute, took place at the Christian Moerlein brewery in Over-the-Rhine. The restaurants represented (Jimmy G's, Django Western Taco, LaLa's Blissful Bites, Invito Chef, El Rancho Grande, Huit BBQ, Redondo Taqueria, Axis Alley on the Levee, Seasons 52, Silver Ladle, Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House, Washington Platform, Swad, O'Malley's in the Alley, Mazzaro's Place, The Pub, Boswell Alley and Moerlein Lager Houseeach provided a small sample of their favorite items for attendees to nibble on, from mini-steak sandwiches to shot glass-sized pecan pie. Some of the vendors were parked in the more polished taproom, while the majority of the booths and the competition itself appeared in the “basement chic” room next door. Attendees wandered from booth to booth, balancing small plates and frothy cups of Moerlein beer as they waited for the main event to begin. Everyone looked slightly confused at first, but it didn’t take long for everyone to catch on and figure out where to go — the Four Roses bourbon cider probably helped.

Iron Fork’s version of Kitchen Stadium was a small-ish cooking space set up at one end of the very large room. It was fully stocked with brightly colored produce from SYSCO, plenty of spices, gas burners and shiny stainless steel cookware from Cooks'Wares. Scattered across the room were large TVs (not in HD, our spoiled selves lamented) for those who may not be able to find a spot in the small area in front of the kitchen to watch the action. The three judges were perched to the left of the kitchen, presumably starving.

Frances Kroner of Sleepy Bee, Jose Salazar of Salazar and Joe West of The Palace at The Cincinnatian were the three chefs chosen to appear for the event. Each of them had one hour to create a dish using the elusive secret ingredient: figs. (Most of the crowd had left before the secret was revealed; it had to remain a secret to make the competition fair for everyone.) Each chef also had a Junior Culinary Institute student from Gabriel’s Place on their team; all three of the students, it must be said, were incredibly impressive in their professionalism and skill. 

The hour-long cooking time per chef allowed attendees to continue to wander and stuff their faces with local treats. The amount of sweet options seemed high (possibly because it was hard to locate the free water to cleanse your palate). The beer line never seemed to shorten, which was fine. If anything, it allowed for more socializing with the other food enthusiasts. Watching the cooking itself was only really entertaining near the end of the hour-long time limit — Jose Salazar straight up ran to the judges’ table with his dishes at the end, and that’s just good TV. 

Once each chef’s segment was complete and the three judges were served, a fourth dish was auctioned off to a lucky audience member. (Frances Kroner’s dish went for a whopping $150.) 

"All the chefs did a great job and we had a lot of fun sharing our thoughts and our food with the crowd," says judge and CityBeat food writer Anne Mitchell. "Frannie Kroner's lamb chop entree was wonderful, and (Ilene Ross, CityBeat food writer and judge) had a great idea — she added one of her lamb chops to the auction for Gabriel's Place." 

"I ate all three of mine and gnawed the bones clean, so that shows you where my heart resides," she continues, laughing. "Jose's appetizer, lamb tartare, was amazing. Ilene licked her plate. It was the kind of dish that separates ordinary food from art." 

The audience did not hear from the judges until the end, when they named The Palace’s Joe West as the winner for his appetizer and entree dishes. 

"Joe West's appetizer and entree blew us away," says Mitchell. "The scallop crudo was another work of art, and it was the perfect starter for Joe's main dish. I wish I could be 100 percent sure of the description but things got a little crazy at the end and we really didn't hear what Joe said, but I think it was halibut in veloute sauce with bacon crumbles for a garnish, flash-fried potato 'chips' from tiny fingerling potatoes and the figs." 

"Figs were the 'secret ingredient' that all the chefs had to incorporate into their dishes," she continues. "It would have been fun to see them utilized a little more essentially in the dishes instead of used as a (yummy) garnish, but that seems a little like splitting hairs."

Overall, the event’s first run was a success. Did I want to snag one of Kroner’s scallops or a bite of Salazar's lamb tartare right off the judges’ table? Sure. But I didn’t, and it still turned out to be a nice little Wednesday night. 


 
 
by Paloma Ianes 10.10.2014
at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Homemade Happy Hour: Abigail Street

Mike Georgiton of Senate, Abigail Street and Pontiac shares his favorite cocktails

Cocktail-mad scientist and adventurist Mike Georgiton is the bar manager/director of Senate, Abigail Street and forthcoming barbecue joint Pontiac (all owned by Daniel and Lana Wright). His unique creations make you want to rethink your regular cocktail order to try something that’s thoughtfully crafted to perfectly pair with your dish.

CityBeat: When did you start getting into bar tending and creating craft cocktails?

Mike Georgiton: I’ve been a bartender for about 11 years. I was working for a while in fast-paced club kind of environment, and it wasn't until later that I got another job in a lounge. It was actually the worst job I’ve ever had; I hated it there. Eventually, the club changed hands, and the new owners brought some guys from Louisville to train everyone. I went through like 90 hours of training of cocktail history and that’s when I started making craft cocktails and started to enjoy the process. It wasn't until I started here that I began researching and getting creative. I started reading and figuring out more techniques and developing my own from there.

CB: What would you say is your technique/method in coming up with original cocktail recipes?

MG: I don’t like to read too many cocktail books. Books do help in getting kind of basic idea of what people are doing, but I like to get more inspiration from food and the way people pair food together. I ask myself, ‘How can I pair this food ingredient with a liquor?’ and that way I’m coming up with more obscure ingredients that are my own. Flavor combinations that chefs use in a lot of their dishes will push me to think, ‘Well, how can I tie in pistachios?’ or ‘How can I tie in this or that?’ I want to do something that’s completely different and inspired from my own source — something that no one else is doing.

CB: What’s your favorite ingredient to use in your cocktails?

MG: My favorite ingredients are usually more food-type ingredients that chefs are also using in their dishes. My favorite liquor to use is Domaine de Canton, which is a cognac-based ginger liquor. I put it in a lot of drinks. It’s one of those that I love it because it goes good with everything, but I also kind of hate it because I want to put it in everything.

CB: Do you notice any changes in cocktail culture within OTR?

MG: I have noticed that, more than before, people are starting to get more creative in making original cocktails instead of just taking recipes from a book. People are using more modern techniques, and I think that’s great because that was always what I was more into than just traditional cocktails. 

CB: What’s the strangest ingredient that you've ever put in a cocktail?

MG: Foie gras, which is stuffed goose liver. Hands down the most bizarre that I've done. 

It's fatty and it’s easy. You cook it and render it down in a pan and add some cognac to it. I know cognac has always been a classic pairing with foie gras, so I thought it would be really interesting to come full cycle and put foie gras in the cognac. It was one of the initial cocktails that I did more of a direct food style. In the cocktail I added a fig emulsion, some black pepper tincture and sprinkled some nutmeg, which are all ingredients you usually find being used with foie gras. It turned out really great and is on the menu here [at Senate], but to get one great original cocktail you have to go through five horrible ones. It takes a lot of experimenting.

CB: What is one of your favorite cocktails served at the Senate?

MG: The Fidel Castro. It goes great with the fall season, and we have it pre-mixed and ready to serve at Senate.

Fidel Castro

2 oz. oak-aged spiced rum
1/2 oz. pure maple syrup
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
1-inch piece of orange peel

Shake all ingredients together (except for orange peel) over ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir and strain into glass. Heat up orange peel with a lighter. Squeeze the peel over the glass, running the rim with it before adding to the cocktail.

Oak-Aged Spiced Rum

750 ml. bottle Bacardi Silver Rum
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 T. whole coriander, cracked
10 allspice berries, cracked
3 black peppercorns, cracked
2 whole nutmegs, cracked
1 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1 T. cardamom pods, cracked
1 star anise
1 T. sarsaparilla bark or root (optional)
3 4-by-1-inch strips of orange peel, white pith removed

5 slices ginger root

1/4 cup French or American oak chips

Combine ingredients in a large glass jar. Cover and allow to age, shaking every few days. It can be used after a few days.

 
 

 

 

 
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