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!