Intercontinental Mixology

So, what does a speak-easy look like in Colombia, a country that didn’t participate in our domestic prohibition of the 1920s?  I’d say it looks like a neon-lit Tron themed bar atop a curiously located chicken restaurant.  There is restricted access via a secret door and even then, there is secondary security at the top of a dark staircase.  But stop and grab some wings on your way up, they are some of the best I have ever tried!

The expedition began in early 2013 when we met Andrés Felipe Burritica at our activation in the Lincoln Suite at the TED conference.  We were invited to explore cocktails in an archaeological sense south of the equator.  For instance, journey to a country where everything is foreign to our senses and ideologies.  We packed our bags and bought a ticket to Bogotá.

We were well met and treated with a respect possibly undue us, but we endeavored to own it.  The very first day we went to the local farmer’s market and were intrigued by the surplus of alien fruits and vegetables.  There was a veritable potpourri of colors ad textures awaiting our taste buds and imaginations.  We were given the gift of choosing whatever our whim favored and ended up with vibrant baskets of multi-shaped and hued produce.

We then got to our test bar and started the experiments.  Oh, the flavors!  We were using fruits from the local rain forests, and trying out beverages of local custom looking for new ways to share an idea.  Melecotón was one of my favorites, being long, sumptuous and purpleish.  A sweet and musty orange-yellow fruit riddled with a mosaic of black seeds awaited my pleasure.  This made a great cocktail with whiskey, hickory smoke, panela and mandarin orange.  Then there was the mangosteen paired with blended scotch, corozo and chamomile.  Fantastico!  The trick was to embrace local Colombian culture and create something delicious and alluring both visually and descriptively.  The resulting menu was a festival of the senses and bespoke of the cross cultured recipes we had embarked to create.

We left hesitating, as a parent might with a newly born child, empowered with a smile on our face and trust that the bartenders trained would carry out our legacy with pride and precision.

Garden To Glass

Culinary Mixology offers a wide world of experiences.  I have always enjoyed the idea of farm to table food and it seems that taking this to the bar is the next level.  Working with the Wellington Steak House in Mission Hills afforded us an opportunity to try this concept.

In the hills of La Mesa, Trish Watlington takes us on a tour of her ½ acre garden.  There are fuits, vegetables, herbs and lettuces growing along the hillside.  The fun comes in harvesting your own herbs or fruits and smashing them in a glass.  Then, picking which spirit supports the new flavor combination.  It is sort of a backwards approach to creating cocktail recipes.  I find excitement in starting with the vegetable, fruit or herb I want to highlight, instead of starting with a boutique spirit, foresay.

Another example of this would be working with Art Produce for the up and coming North Park Festival of the Arts.  Lynn Susholtz boasts an impressive harvest from her backstage garden.  There are planter boxes filled with greens, purples, yellows and shades of white.  All resulting in star produce that will make it’s way into Snake Oil concoctions that afternoon.  I am hoping for springtime edible flowers and strawberries, maybe some fresh fennel fronds and spring peas!  Heck while we’re at it let’s pure some rhubarb and grab a bottle of rye.  The idea of standing there in the garden with a shaker in hand is almost too overwhelming in it’s proximity.

Come out and drink the garden.  May 17th, Art Produce in North Park

Supplements and Cocktails

“Feel good about feelin’ good”

Recently, we catered an event for Applied Food Sciences out of Austin, TX,  and created cocktails based on their unique supplements.  It was challenging and fun.  The supplements, themselves, can be quite bitter and earthy and almost unpalatable on their own.  Rather than turn away, I found it to be an opportunity to showcase our cocktail prowess.

I think that this is going to be an up and coming trend in the mixology world.  The idea of medicinal cocktails is nothing new, but there are different ways to express this.  For example, I worked with black tea extract.  This is highly tannic and robust, so I had to find a way to mellow it out.  It would be remiss to not mention the benefits from the extract.  Intense polyphenols and antioxidants top the list.  Looking for a way to diffuse and compliment the natural flavors, I added vodka, kale juice, celery juice, cumin, sassafras, lime and honey.  This turned out to be the most impressive potion at the event, winning over connoisseurs and health nuts alike.

The occasion was a blast.  I then got to use green coffee bean extract and a supplement that turned out to be for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia and hyper-proliferative cell disorders.  I immediately turned to citruses for their alkaline properties and garden fresh herbs for their unique flavor profiles.  Talk about packing a punch!  It seems that many spirits were conceived to cure random ailments and through the process of combining these supplements with a casual or impressive cocktail option only elevates the health benefit platform of the daily dose.

I have yet to see someone other than ourselves focusing on the pharmaceutical direction of cocktails.  I am looking forward to the rest of the cocktail world turning it’s focus away from the past and towards the future.