Monday, September 2, 2013

Catering by Design cooking up some great new bar snacks.

Something to snack on!
The bar snack is more popular than ever- in restaurants and at special events. At Catering by Design, we love to present innovative bites that highlight a cocktail hour hunger or an after hours craving. Here are a few that we love: CORNED BEEF REUBEN NACHOS

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Vineyard Martini
I had the honor of creating a lovely event at Malibu's Church Estate and Vineyards for a wedding organization, and their group of 100 wedding industry professionals. We of course wanted to greet these special guests with a new and fabulous specialty beverage worthy of the surroundings. The Vineyard Martini was created to enhance the experience of a cocktail reception surrounded by grapes on the vine and fields of fresh herbs.

After deciding I wanted to create a grape-inspired cocktail, Stockholm Krystal Vodka joined on as the liquor sponsor for this event. I went to our produce refrigerator, snacking on grapes and nibbling fresh herbs until I found my favorite combination: red and green grapes with oregano!

Enjoy some more great photos from this event, and the recipe at the end of the post...
Special thanks to Imagery Immaculate for all of these beautiful photographs.

Everyone enjoyed the cocktail!

The vineyard table was filled with California Artisan Cheeses, tasty tartlets, crisp arancini, herbs, figs, and so much more!

Vineyard Martini, recipe by Dan Smith of By Design Event Decor

2 tablespoons grape base and 1 ounce of its nectar (recipe below)
2 ounces premium vodka
splash of italian sparkling lemon soda
grape skewer and oregano sprig garnish

First, place 1 teaspoon of the diced grape base in the bottom of a martini glass. In a martini shaker, combine ice, vodka, 1 tablespoon grape base and 1 oz nectar. Shake until icy cold and strain into martini glass. Top with a splash of lemon soda and garnish with grape skewer and oregano sprig.

(for about 20 drinks)
2 cups each red and green grapes, diced
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 cups oregano infused simple syrup (1 ½ cup sugar, 1 ½ cup water, 6 sprigs of oregano, heat until sugar is fully dissolved and remove oregano. Chill until cold.)

Stir above ingredients together and let soak at least thirty minutes and up to 2 hours, refrigerated

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spice is Nice!

I am a fan of spicy cocktails! Extra horseradish and pepper infused vodka are a must in my bloody marys! There are so many great ways to combine sweet and spicy together in innovative ways. I will often draw inspiration from one of my favorite salsa recipes that combine the sweetness of fruit amd the spice of chile peppers.

That being said, I browsed the 'net and found a couple of recipes I am looking forward to trying-


Photo: Ariana Lindquist

Julian Cox, a bartender at the Los Angeles restaurant Rivera, gave us the recipe for this colorful cocktail, which takes its smoky flavor from puréed chipotle chiles in adobo and its sweetness from ginger syrup. To make your own ginger syrup, boil 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water with one 2” piece of peeled and smashed ginger for 5 minutes. Strain and refrigerate.

1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz. agave nectar
1/4 oz. ginger syrup
1 tsp. puréed canned chipotle in adobe
1/2 lime, quartered lengthwise
2 oz. mezcal or white tequila
1 strip red bell pepper, for garnish
1 small piece beef jerky, for garnish

1. In a cocktail shaker, combine lemon juice, agave nectar, ginger syrup, chipotle purée, and lime wedges. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, muddle ingredients.

2. Add 1 cup cubed ice and pour in mezcal; stir. Transfer mixture to a cocktail glass and garnish with bell pepper and beef jerky.



1/4 cup peeled and chopped fresh mango
1 to 4 slices jalapeño, to taste
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Handful of ice
1 1/2 ounces vodka
Splash St. Germain (French elderflower liqueur)
Muddle mango, jalapeño and simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker. Add vodka and St. Germain and shake well. Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with jalapeño slice.
*To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Get out of my bar!

by Dan Smith, m!x by Good Gracious!

86'd. Barred. Just plain asked to leave.

There are plenty of ways to lose favour at your local drinking establishment. You can start a fight, have a few too many, or make unwanted advances at a waitress to name a few.

Another way is to become old, boring, outdated, or last year's rage. Well those aren't ways that people get 86'd... but for bar products it's a sure way to end up down the drain!

Thankfully, cocktail culture is at an all time high in terms of sophistication. It's so much easier to find a quality cocktail! If you are in the industry, take a look at your inventory and promise your customers that you will serve them the best ingredients available.

Here is my list of what should be "Barred from the bar."
Any kind of SCHNAPPS. Sweet and artificial. Two words you don't want associated with your drinks!

Unnatural VODKA FLAVORS. Whipped cream, marshmallow, cheesecake. It sounds like vodka is now being marketed in kindergarten, doesn't it?

Bottled and canned JUICES. Everyone knows that fresh tastes best!

And yes, that includes ROSES LIME JUICE. The smell of this makes my think of Kamikazes at the frat house. Squeeze some limes right at the bar for the best flavor! Or if you really need a sweet-tart lime cordial like Roses... I'll send you my recipe!

You don't need COCKTAIL MIXES! Recipes and fresh ingredients are plentiful!

CHEAP WINES can make a special event less than special! Of course people are often looking for the best price... but you don't need to reach all the way down to 2-Buck-Chuck!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Bloody Good Battle

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to San Francisco's Scalas Bistro to compete in the search for the best new bloody mary! While I wasn't the winner, it was a great experience and I look forward to competing again soon!!!

Here is what I came up with:

by Dan Smith
2 oz Square One Basil Vodka
4 oz yellow tomato juice
(yellow tomato, onion, celery, spice- recipe below)
Sprinkle of salt, white pepper, horseradish
Dash white worchestershire sauce
Garnish: fresh yellow tomato, pickled quail egg, endive, yellow pepper, old bay seasoning, kosher salt

In a mixing glass, combine vodka, ice, tomato juice, worchestershire sauce, and spices. Shake to chill. Transfer to serving glass rimmed with Old Bay Seasoning and Salt. Garnish with skewer of tomato, yellow pepper and a pickled quail egg, and an endive leaf.

Yellow Tomato Juice
makes 48 ounces
6 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 cups water
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 ½ cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin powder
6 drops Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon ground white pepper

Put all ingredients in a large stainless pot and simmer until soupy, about 40 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or in batches in a countertop blender)

Chill for several hours before serving.

Horseradish Pickled Quail Eggs
24 hard-boiled quail eggs, peeled
1 (12 ounce) jar yellow chile peppers
2 tablespoons fresh grated horseradish
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tequila and Rosé Champagne...yes, in the same glass!

Always wanting to come up with something new, even I was a little concerned about mixing tequila and rosé champagne in the same cocktail... but the secret sweetness of hibiscus nectar really pulled it together!

Tequila Hibiscus Sparkle
2 oz silver tequila
1 Wild Hibiscus Flower plus 1 teaspoon of its nectar (
2 oz rosé sparkling wine chilled

Place one Wild Hibiscus flower in serving martini glass. In a martini shaker pour Wild Hibiscus nectar and Tequila over ice and shake to chill. Strain into the serving glass and float 2 oz rosé sparkling wine.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Starting at Square One

Hands down, our favorite cocktail of the weekend. This Honeydew and Basil Cocktail is simple as can be. All because we started at Square One.

Square One Organic Spirits truly is an inspiration to me. Their product line features an assortment of QUALITY spirits. They don't rush to fill the shelves of every market in town with 20 flavors of vodka, sacrificing what makes them so special.

The newest member of their small family of spirits is my new summery favorite: Square One Organic Basil Vodka. I have always loved fresh melon and basil together, and this new basil spirit makes concocting this cocktail so easy!

The Honeydew and Basil Cocktail
Pour over ice:
2oz Square One Organic Basil Vodka
3oz Fresh Honeydew Melon Juice*
Splash of Soda Water
Garnish with a Basil Sprig

*Honeydew Juice is as simple as passing cubes of skinned and seeded melon through your juicer! Right now these melons are at the peak of their summery sweetness and don't need to be sweetened. You may need to add some sugar to taste in the off-season.

The cocktail is also delicious with watermelon or cantaloupe!

More about Square One, from their website:

It all began at Square One . . .

. . . with the purest ingredients we could find. Very few vodkas are hand-crafted as meticulously as ours: created in one place, to the exacting standards of our Master Distiller.
We craft our distinctive, limited-production single grain vodka using certified organic American rye. Our water, drawn from deep aquifers, imparts unparalleled smoothness, reflecting its origin in the pristine Teton Range of Wyoming.
Our unique organic fermentation technique combines with a classic four-column distillation and filtration method to create Square One: an incredibly silky, high-quality vodka with a natural richness on the palate.

Eden in a Bottle . . .

Square One Botanical is a bold (90 proof) organic rye spirit infused with the organic essence of eight botanicals: pear, rose, chamomile, lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, coriander and citrus peel. This enticing composition of organic fruit, floral and herbs creates a captivating fragrance and offers a seductive taste experience in cocktails.
On tasting Square One Botanical, the floral and fruit aromas immediately capture the senses. On the palate, the supple floral qualities are followed by herbal botanicals that offer backbone, yet stay gently in the background. Square One Botanical is delicate and balanced, and offers the cocktail enthusiast a chance to advance their cocktail repertoire beyond straight vodka or singularly flavored vodka.

Take a Cool Plunge . . .

Square One Cucumber is a deliciously aromatic spirit with the delicate and fresh taste of cucumber.
We crafted Square One Cucumber by combining the essence of organic cucumber with our original certified organic American rye vodka. To keep cucumber's fresh aroma, we applied the same skills used to capture the aromatics of flowers and plants in natural fragrances.
This spirit gives a contemporary spin to familiar cocktails like the Tom Collins or Gimlet and is a natural choice for refreshing new cocktails. For a cool, light yet effortless indulgence, try Square One Cucumber with tonic and a twist of lime.

Sweet and Savory by Nature . . .

Fresh basil has a rich history in folklore (it's sweet and savory qualities given both light a dark powers in mythology) and in cuisine from around the globe. More recently, many mixologists have discovered the flavor range and taste complexity that fresh basil brings to cocktails.
With cocktail creativity in mind, we take the herbal taste experience of basil a step further. Square One Basil is infused with the organic essences of four basil varieties -- Genovese, Thai, Lemon and Sweet -- plus we add a touch of coriander, honeysuckle and lemongrass to round out the spirit and soften the finish. Try Square One Basil in Mediterranean or Asian cuisine inspired elixirs. And in the classic Bloody Mary, replace Square One Basil with vodka and never look back.