Monday, December 31, 2012

B4 Cocktail

B&B, Brut, and Bitters

Enjoy some bubbly before midnight this evening with my new Champagne cocktail...the après is up to you!

B4 (B&B, Brut, and Bitters)
-In a Champagne flute, add:
   1 Sugar Cube
   2 dashes Angostura Bitters
   1 oz. B&B
-Slowly pour:
   4 oz. Brut Champagne
-Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shaking With Craft Ice

Good question from across the pond!

Q:  Anthony, any thoughts on using a single piece of craft ice in place of cubed ice for shaking?  I've heard that shaking with craft ice provides a better (finer/silkier) texture for sours as it creates fewer ice shards that break up the egg proteins in the drink.

A:  I haven't done any controlled research on shaking with craft ice, though my experience tells me it would defeat the point of choosing shaking over other chilling methods (e.g., stirring).  The three main reasons to choose shaking are:

1. Aeration;
2. Creation of ice chips; and
3. Faster chilling.

All three of the above outcomes are improved with cubed ice versus one large piece of craft ice.  Aeration is dependent on the number of solid bodies breaking the liquid surface tension to introduce air, so clearly many smaller cubes would be more effective than a single large cube (smaller bodies are also more effective at aeration than larger bodies, so this would be a corollary advantage for cubed ice).  Creation of ice chips increases with increased surface area exposed to impact so here again cubed ice would come out ahead, and chilling speed (both convective and conductive, the two methods that are active during shaking) is also tied to surface area -- the greater surface area of many smaller cubes chills faster than the smaller surface area of one larger cube.

This being the case, it seems that a single large piece of craft ice would be a poor choice to use for shaking: the advantages of craft ice (smaller surface area, decreased melting/dilution) are directly in opposition to the goals that shaking is trying to achieve.  Using craft ice may make more sense for stirring, in which the bartender is trying to minimize aeration and ice chips, but chilling would be slowed.  Regarding drink texture, aeration is what creates the silky texture we all love in drinks that include egg or other proteins -- the bartender is essentially beating the eggs.  The best way to eliminate ice shards is to double-strain the drink not decrease the efficiency of aeration, which would just require that the bartender shake the drink longer to achieve the same consistency.

It's probably best to remember the original intention of large pieces of craft ice, namely, to hold pre-chilled liquids at temperature.  Once a drink has been cooled to service temperature, a single large piece of ice is quite capable of keeping it at that temperature with a minimum of additional dilution.  However, craft ice is usually an ineffective tool for initially bringing a drink to service temperature.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Drambuie Tales-on-Tap $10,000 Finals!

Check out the Drambuie Tales-on-Tap $10,000 Draft Cocktail Competition Finals at this year's Tales of the Cocktail!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Drambuie July 4th Colada

Try my Drambuie July 4th Colada while you're enjoying the firework displays tomorrow!

-In a blender, add:
    1 oz. Drambuie
    1 oz. Bacardi Silver Light rum
    1 oz. Crème de Coconut
    2 oz. Pineapple Juice
    4 oz. Vanilla Ice Cream
-Blend until smooth, pour 1/3 into a hurricane glass, add:
    ¼ oz. grenadine
-Pour additional 1/3 into glass, add:
    ¼ oz. blue Curaçao
-Pour remaining 1/3 into glass.
-Garnish with a slice of pineapple, serve with a straw.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Truvia® Behind The Bar Launch

A few years ago, I was hired to manage the opening of a high-concept cocktail lounge in New York City's Rockefeller Center.  I wanted the drink menu to showcase quality cocktails that would appeal to the image-conscious Midtown crowd and allow them to indulge in drinks that fit with lifestyles that also included gym workouts, running, biking, and yoga.  My mother had always been a health food nut (I grew up taking fourteen vitamins every morning with breakfast, a practice I continue to this day) and some time back had suggested that I try making cocktails with stevia extract in place of simple syrup.  This seemed like the perfect time to try out her idea.

People had of course been making cocktails with sugar substitutes for years, but these were always looked down on by both the beverage industry and the drinking public.  The Office's Michael Scott famously drank Scotch and Splenda, clearly indicating that he had no clue how to properly enjoy Scotch.  However, I was determined to create a stevia drink with full cocktail cred.

I started with stevia extract as Mom suggested, but found that it was difficult to purchase in bulk for foodservice use.  Also, the bottles that I bought from health food stores varied in sweetness and flavor profile, which made it difficult to deliver a consistent drink to my guests.  Finally, I tried stevia-based Truvia® Natural Sweetener and all my problems were taken care of.  Well, almost all my problems.

Truvia® is extremely consistent, widely available, and dissolves easily in drinks.  It also doesn't have any of the off-flavors or aftertaste that are usually associated with sugar substitutes.  And the best part was that I could make Truvia® syrups that substitute directly for sugar simple syrup.  Unfortunately, at that time Truvia® was only available in tabletop packets, which meant that my bar staff had to tear open hundreds of packets a night to make our zero-calorie syrup.

Meanwhile, the drinks I'd created using Truvia® had become runaway hits at the lounge.  The Raspberry Lojito, made with Truvia® syrup, was the best-selling cocktail on our menu, followed closely by the Steve Collins, named for the stevia used in making Truvia®.  So, I contacted Truvia®, told them what I was doing, and asked if the product was available in packaging better suited for bulk use in a commercial bar.  I found out it wasn't, but they were working on it.  I resolutely continued to tear open Truvia® packets and add to my Truvia® cocktail recipe collection as I waited for the foodservice packaging to be ready.

Truvia® Raspberry Lojito

This spring, the wait was over.  On April 19th, I had the pleasure of joining the Truvia® team at The Hurricane Club in New York City for the launch of their Behind the Bar Product.  Amid an incredible selection of Truvia® cocktails created by Chef Craig Koketsu and his staff, I witnessed the unveiling of the perfect tool for bars and restaurants to create lower-calorie cocktails.  The new packaging contains the same trusted ingredients as the Truvia® I'd been using for years, but in a format that made creating Truvia® syrups foolproof -- simply add the entire contents of one package to 1/2 gallon of water, mix well, and you have a half-gallon of zero-calorie syrup ready to use in cocktails, or even flavor with things like ginger, rose water, or lemongrass.  I also like to add fresh-squeezed lemon juice and make a natural, super-low-calorie sour mix.

Truvia® really got the details right with this product.  The packaging is water-proof and resealable, and stands upright to make sure the Truvia® ends up in your cocktails and not on your bar floor.  Plus, it's available nationwide from some of the biggest foodservice suppliers in the country.  What I really like is that it encourages bartenders to put just a little extra thought into how they sweeten drinks.  For example, while you're making Truvia® syrup, it only takes a second to add rose water and create a unique flavored sweetener that will take an old fashioned to a new level.  Steep some citrus peel in your syrup and add another layer of depth and complexity to your margarita.

But it's consumers who ultimately have the most to gain from this new product.  Or more correctly, the most to lose.  Creative bartenders will be able to keep the calories in a cocktail very close to only the amount added by the alcohol (about 65 calories per ounce).  Lemon and lime juice contribute just a handful of calories per ounce, and herbs like mint, basil, lemongrass, and ginger bring loads of flavor with almost no calories.  Using Truvia® syrups properly can easily reduce a 300-calorie, artificial-tasting, run-of-the-mill margarita to a 100-calorie, fresh-lime-and-ginger masterpiece bursting with fresh flavor and perhaps just a hint of orange peel.

I can't wait to see what the bar industry does with Truvia's Behind the Bar Product -- I know I've only just scratched the surface of fit and fresh, skinny cocktails myself.  Let me know what you're doing with Truvia® cocktails, and if you want to check out more of my recipes, including tips on creating your own flavored Truvia® syrups, visit

Raspberry Lojito
-In a tall glass, muddle:
   4 Large Mint Leaves
   2 Lime Wedges
   4 Raspberries
   1 3/4 tsp Truvia® natural sweetener Behind the Bar spoonable or 2 packets Truvia® natural sweetener
   Ice to top of glass
   1-1/4 oz. Oronoco Rum
-Roll into mixing tin and back into glass, add:
   Soda Water to top
-Garnish with a mint leaf pinned to rim with a lime wedge.

For this recipe, Truvia® natural sweetener version contains 90 calories, 9 g carb, 0.5 g sugar, 7 g erythritol compared to a sugar control which has 150 calories, 18 g carb, 17 g sugar. This is a 40% calorie reduction and 95% sugar reduction.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

DRAMBUIE® Smoke-N-Milk

After winning his second Indy 500 race in 1933, Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk. He requested another glass in 1936 after winning his third title, but instead received a bottle. With three fingers raised, he was captured by a photographer while drinking from that bottle, and the marketing opportunity wasn't lost on a local dairy executive. Unaware that Meyer was drinking buttermilk, the executive offered a bottle of milk to the winners of all future races, and milk has been presented at the conclusion of almost every Indy 500 since then. In honor of that tradition, here's my Drambuie-based homage to this classic racing libation.

-In a shaker tin half filled with ice, add:
   1 oz. DRAMBUIE®
   1/2 oz. Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch
-Shake until the tin is frosted, add:
   1 oz. Milk
-Swirl to chill thoroughly.
-Pour into a rocks glass, add:
   1 dash Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
-Garnish with an orange twist.
-Serve with a cocktail stirrer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sobering Up

One of the rare well-framed questions on Quora.

Q: How long does it take to an average person to sober up completely after being drunk?  Let's suppose person A gets very drunk at 11 PM on a Monday.  By what hour on what day might we expect person A to finally become 100% sober?

A: The average person can metabolize about 1 standard drink per hour, which is a) a mixed drink containing 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor, b) a 12-oz. American pilsner beer containing about 5% alcohol by volume, c) a 5 oz. glass of wine, or d) one 1.25 oz. shot of 80 proof liquor.  To approximate how long it would take to sober up after drinking alcohol, you'd need to count the number of standard drinks you've consumed (adjusting for larger/stronger drinks) and wait that many hours.  There's no way to speed up the process (e.g., drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, eating, etc.) -- once you've ingested the alcohol, you just have to wait for your body to metabolize it.

Using the example above and assuming an average person weighs 150 lbs, they will reach a blood alcohol content of roughly 0.16% after about 7 standard drinks.  This is twice the legal limit to drive, which is a reasonable definition of "very drunk."  To sober up would therefore take 7 hours.  Tolerance (i.e., experience drinking) doesn't affect this at all, and again nothing can shorten the time it takes to metabolize the alcohol.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Alcohol in Bread

Great question from a journalist I've been working with:

Q: Anthony, I want to explain to readers that beer and bread have similar ingredients, but why you get a buzz from drinking beer and not from eating bread.

A: There are four ingredients in traditional beer: water, barley, yeast, and hops. Bread is made from the first three of these ingredients but doesn't have hops, which are added to beer as a preservative and bittering agent to balance the sweetness of the barley. Beer is often referred to as "liquid bread" because of this similarity in ingredients, and one of the theories on how we invented beer is that people were collecting barley to make bread and left it out in the rain, thus adding more water than you'd find in bread as well as yeast that floated into the mixture from the air.

Most people think yeast breaks the sugars in barley down into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, but that's actually a secondary reaction. Initially, yeast breaks sugar down into pyruvate, which is composed of three carbon atoms. In the presence of air (as in bread) the yeast is then able to completely combine these carbon atoms with oxygen atoms and form CO2. Without air (like in the bottom of a barrel of fermenting beer) the yeast can't combine all of the carbon with oxygen, and so the pyruvate is converted into both ethanol and CO2. Thus beer ends up alcoholic and bubbly, while bread dough just ends up bubbly. Hope this helps!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Drambuie Cocktails for St. Patrick's Day!

Here's a trio of libations I created for Drambuie in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  Sláinte!

Dancing Leprechaun

DRAMBUIE® Dancing Leprechaun
-In a mixing tin half-filled with ice, add:
   ¾ oz. DRAMBUIE®
   1½ oz. Dewar's Scotch Whisky
   Juice of ½ Lemon
-Shake until tin is frosted.
-Strain into a tall glass over fresh ice, add:
   2 oz. Ginger Beer
-Garnish with a lemon twist.

Zesty Irishman

DRAMBUIE® Zesty Irishman
-In a mixing tin half-filled with ice, add:
   ¾ oz. DRAMBUIE®
   1 oz. Irish Whiskey
   ¼ oz. Triple Sec
   Juice of ½ Lemon
-Shake until the tin is frosted.
-Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, add:
   Splash Ginger Ale
-Garnish with a lemon twist.


DRAMBUIE® Grasshopper
-In a mixing tin half-filled with ice, add:
   ½ oz. DRAMBUIE®
   ½ oz. Green Crème de Menthe
   ½ oz. White Crème de Cacao
-Shake until tin is frosted, add:
   1 oz. Half-and-Half
-Swirl to chill.
-Strain into a martini glass, drizzle over top:
   ¼ oz. Green Crème de Menthe

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

AOTD Training for NYC's Bombshell Barmaids

Training New York's Bombshell Barmaids at Tonic Times Square -- go forth and pour, ladies!

Tequila As A Stimulant?

Common question that I've been getting more and more frequently, this time from a portfolio ambassador:

Q: Hey, Anthony! Can you explain to me Tequila as a stimulant versus as a depressant?

A: Tequila is not a stimulant -- this is a popular rumor, but it has no basis in fact. The active ingredient in Tequila (as in all spirits) is ethanol, which is a central nervous system depressant. The stimulant idea probably comes from a confusing of the words mezcal (which is the larger maguey-based spirit family of which Tequila is one type) and mescaline, so many people think Tequila contains mescaline which it absolutely does not. Even if it did, mescaline is primarily a hallucinogenic drug (though it does have some properties of a stimulant), so we're actually looking at a double-confusion to arrive at the Tequila-as-a-stimulant rumor.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

To Heat Or Not To Heat

Great question from a viewer:

Q: I was watching your video on the mint julep recipe -- it was great the way they infuse the sugar syrup with mint flavor by letting sit overnight. I'm thinking about doing the same with my mojito mix recipe. I basically mix equal parts of fresh lemon juice and sugar and cook it over a medium flame. The part where I need your help is in the best technique to infuse it with flavor. I'm not sure when to add the mint -- when the mix is hot or after it cools down? You are the best in the biz and your scientific approach and art is always appreciated. Making good drinks is definitely an art and you always dare to be great. Thanks!

A: You're exactly on the right track -- when to apply heat is key to getting the best flavor. Basically, you want to avoid heating any of the fresh ingredients (lemon juice, mint, etc.) and only use heat to melt the sugar. In fact, you don't even need a stove to make the simple syrup. Here's what I recommend:

-Mix equal parts by volume granulated sugar and the hottest water you can get from your tap (I usually use 1 cup of each).

-Stir for 30-60 seconds until sugar is dissolved (syrup will remain cloudy for several minutes, then it will clarify).

-Let cool to room temperature or below.

-If you want to add mint, add it only after the syrup has cooled -- let steep for 12-24 hours.

-Measure the amount of syrup you have, and add equal parts freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Voila! You now have fresh mint-sour mix!

The important thing is to not heat the lemon juice or the mint. Heat initiates chemical changes in both that will make them taste less fresh or even vegetal (something like spinach) in the case of the mint. In general, fruits, vegetables, and herbs should be used at room temperature or below to avoid getting a "cooked" flavor, while roots and bark (ginger, cinnamon, etc.) should be heated to extract the essential oils. Hope this was helpful, and thanks for watching!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Art of the Drink on Dr. Oz!

Tune in to The Dr. Oz Show this Friday, February 3rd, to watch me mix cocktails that won't blow your diet!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival Today!

Heading to the evening session of the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in NYC tonight! Always one of the best dark spirits shows in the city, and a great party to boot! Stay tuned for pics and product updates....