WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 

Drinking Destinations of the Future

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Winter is coming, which means it’s time to hunker down at your local watering hole.  
by Paloma Ianes 11.05.2014 18 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 Swing1 oz. rosemary-infused Aperol2 oz. strawberry Vermouth 1/2 oz. lemon simple syrup1 dash Angostora bitters 1 dash of peach bitters10 oz. Prosecco 1-inch piece of lemon peelCombine 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 Paloma Ianes 10.10.2014 44 days ago
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 Castro2 oz. oak-aged spiced rum1/2 oz. pure maple syrup3 dashes of Angostura bitters1 dash orange bitters1-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 Rum1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise2 whole cinnamon sticks1 T. whole coriander, cracked10 allspice berries, cracked3 black peppercorns, cracked2 whole nutmegs, cracked1 1/2 tsp. whole cloves1 T. cardamom pods, cracked1 star anise1 T. sarsaparilla bark or root (optional)3 4-by-1-inch strips of orange peel, white pith removed5 slices ginger root1/4 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.
 
 

Ice, Ice, Baby

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I had an epiphany recently when I stopped to order my favorite iced coffee from BLOC Coffee Company in Price Hill and their ice machine was on the fritz. “Try it cold, without ice,” the barista suggested. “Some of our customers like it better that way.”  

Drink ’Til You Don’t Drop

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I just returned from my third annual visit to Tales of the Cocktail, an almost week-long event that, for mixologists and the media who cover them, is what the Cannes International Film Festival is to movie critics: a little bit glamorous, a lot of information to drink in and a lot of fun.  

Cool Cocktails for a Hot Summer

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Hot days mean cold beer, right? That’s what I used to think, too. Nowadays, I like summer cocktails that are lighter, more creative and tastier than the old standby. Sure, they’re not as easy as opening a frosty bottle, but they don’t have to be a major Tiki-type production either.  

The Sobriety Diary

0 Comments · Tuesday, May 8, 2012
I once felt as if I had perfected the chemical alchemy needed for me to write with some success. I won’t disclose the exact contents of my proprietary blend, seeing as I may yet trademark it, but one might assume that my equivalent of liquid courage is not the healthiest of cocktails.   

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