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.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Vineyard Martini

Last week at Good Gracious! Events, we had the honor of creating a lovely event at Malibu's Church Estate and Vineyards for WIPA, and their group of 100 wedding industry professionals. GG!'s Pauline 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 Good Gracious! Events

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Keeping it simple...

by Dan Smith

Summer is here and MAC Cosmetics celebrated their SURF, BABY line with launch events all over SoCal. Good Gracious! was happy to be on hand with tasty grinds and bodacious libations at MAC stores from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and practically everywhere in between!

Now sometimes MAC gets pretty wild with their cocktails, but as a salute to the simplicity of a Baja summer, this time the right drink was as simple as "CAN" be!

Cans of ice cold Tecate and Modelo Cervezas were passed by surfer-dudes on wooden trays like this one featuring a Tomatillo & Chicken Chimichanga with Avocado Crema. Other trays featured the beers with Chimichurri Shrimp, Crab Tostadas on Blue Tortilla Crisps, and Grilled Squash Blossom Quesadillas with Smoky Tomato Salsa.

Of course we had some sweetness as well; Mini Chuuros with Spiced Hot Chocolate Sauce were my favorites!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Here comes the bride. Quick! Get her a drink!

Spring is in the air and finishing touches are being made to this summer's wedding plans! The wedding day cocktail bar is of course getting more attention than ever, and it takes more work than just calling something a "whatever-tini" to make a splash! Here are some of our favorite cocktails that have been very well received at recent weddings...

Lavender Botanical Bliss. Square One Botanical Spirit, Yuzu Sour, and Lavender Bitters. Decorate the rim with colored crystal sugars and your own blend of dehydrated herbs!

Not just a margarita. This is the Double Agave Vanilla Margarita. Reposado Tequila, Fresh Lime, Vanilla Infused Agave Nectar, and a Vanilla Bean Garnish, INDULGE!

Of course the "bubbly" is always a favorite, but make it your own: 1)Spice it up with rosemary and blueberries 2)Add a wild hibiscus flower and nectar 3)Mix up a sparkling sangria loaded with summer fruit 4)Make it your own with a custom label 5)Spike it with family recipe limoncello!

The Wedding Bouquet Cocktail is filled with colorful pansies, basil, and a refreshing cucumber vodka!

Don't eat your wedding cake, drink it! This sweet and delicious Wedding Cake Martini tasted just like its namesake. And guests love to sink their teeth into that garnish of a White Chocolate Dipped Strawberry dusted with Cake Crumbs!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Caterer in LA was Nominated for an International Caterers' Association CATIE Award for "Innovations in Mixology"

A caterer in LA and I are so pleased to have heard the news this morning. One of our newest concoctions, an homage to the classic prohibition style cocktail was nominated for the highest honor in catering!
Here's the recipe...enjoy.
(Of course if you don't want to take a month to make your own bitters, experiment with some brands available at your local specialty market.)

Bar Fly's Bliss

2 oz gin
1 oz St-Germain Elderflower
1 oz Licor de Damiana (see my previous post about my travels in Mexico for more info!)
1 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
2 dashes black pepper rosemary bitters
Rosemary sprig garnish

In a cocktail shaker combine ice and all liquid ingredients. Shake and strain into serving glass. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

Black Pepper Rosemary Bitters
2 cups grain alcohol
8 ounces dried orange peel, minced
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon coriander seed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
¾ cup granulated sugar
o Put the Spices in a jar and add alcohol
o Seal, store in cool dark place 15 days, giving it a good shake every day
o Strain through cheesecloth to separate liquids and solids. Squeeze solid ingredients as dry as possible. Save liquid in a jar.
o Muddle the dry ingredients into a fine mixture, place in a saucepan and add 4 cups of water
o Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer 5-7 minutes
o Pour this mixture into a 2nd jar and allow to sit 5 days, again giving it a good shake once a day.
o Strain spice mixture through a cheesecloth, discard the solid ingredients, and combine two liquid jars.
o In a small pan, heat ¾ sugar to a dark brown liquid, remove from heat, allow to cool, add to alcohol and water mixture. (Sugar may solidify but will dissolve)
o Seal the jar and let rest for 5 days.
o Strain again and store in dark glass dropper bottles. (up to 12 months)