Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sangria Blanco for Summertime

We are lucky to live in a climate that offers us such diversity. We chill out in winter, and burn it up in summertime.  The scorching heat and blazing sunshine are among the things we miss the most when the mercury threatens to disappear completely.  We change more than the number of layers we wear when we move from one season to the next; we change our drinking habits, too. We prefer whiskey with our scarves and hats, and fruity spirits with our bikinis.

Summer is the season for Sangria.  This wine-based, fruit-laced refresher made its American debut at the 1964 World's Fair, but has been around for at least 200 years.  Its roots date back to a time when most households made their own wine, but proper Sangria has hot-weather roots and as many variations as there are bar chefs. Like the cocktail, which has certain technical requirements,* Sangria has a basic formula which serves as its architecture. Whether it's called sangaree, zurra, or clerico, Sangria is composed of wine, chopped fruit, a little brandy and a sweetener.  The only other requirement is a resting period, at least 24 hours, during which the flavors of wine, spirit and fruit marry.

One tricky thing about drinking Sangria in summertime is the inherent danger of drinking red while wearing white. Your linen pants or pretty sundress can be ruined faster than you can say "Tide pen." Take precautions without sacrificing this seasonal delight by making a variant known as sangria blanco. 

It's not necessary to break out the best bottle in your cellar, but remember that with Sangria, like all drinks, you will get out of it what you've put in. Whether you serve a traditional red Sangria, or build yours around white wine, serve it in a pitcher with a pinched lip to prevent chunks of fruit from splashing into your drink, and serve it on the rocks, in a medium- to large-size wine glass.  Fill it with fresh seasonal fruit and flavors you love.  Here's one to try, which gives a nod to Sangria's Spanish connection:

Sangria Blanco
1 btl. White Rioja
1 btl. Cava (sparkling wine)
2 oz. Grand Marnier
2 oz. Brandy
5 Fresh Peaches
3 Fresh Oranges
Use your knife to remove the skin and outer membrane of the Oranges, then slice them into chunks.  Slice the Peaches into chunks. Put all fruit into a large glass pitcher or mixing bowl, add Rioja, Grand Marnier and Brandy.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Chill the Cava.

When serving, pour 3/4 glass of Sangria. Top with Sparkling Wine.

(For extra credit, use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes.)

* spirit plus sweetener plus bitters plus water

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Poptail How-to

It's been a hot week in Wisconsin, and twice this week, online friends have posted enthusiastically about a frozen treat made with alcohol.  It looks like a popsicle and enjoying it will remind you of carefree days and summer vacation, the smell of fresh summer breezes and warm sunshine on your skin. It's commonly called a Poptail, and it's the perfect make-ahead treat for hot fun in the summertime.

One of the most attractive things about the poptail is that it requires neither glassware nor ice (except to keep it cold until the dessert course). You can drop it and cleanup is as easy as a quick rinse and a wipe. It is the perfect choice for al fresco enjoyment whether you're headed out to the Redneck Yacht Club or an elegant afternoon with friends.  It can be a few simple ingredients, or you can pull out all the stops, make bespoke syrups, use unique flavor combinations, herbs and chunks of fresh fruit to make a big impression.

One of the most important things to think about when making poptails is the ratio of alcohol to other ingredients.  As you know, alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, and you want your creation to freeze and stay frozen long enough to be enjoyed.  One benefit of this necessity is that it keeps the alcohol content down a bit, highlighting the subtle effects of alcohol (which can be more pronounced in the summer heat).  For your first attempt, use the following ratio: 2 oz. alcohol to 3 c. fruit juice.  You will also need popsicle molds; I use these

A simple duo like a screwdriver or a vodka cranberry will do if you're a novice, but for a slightly more complex and impressive payoff, try this:

Watermelon Blackberry Mojito Popsicles
12oz. watermelon/blackberry juice (see below)
2 oz fresh lime juice
8 oz. Bacardi light rum
fresh mint 
club soda

Combine 6 c. Watermelon and 2 c. fresh Blackberries in a food processor or blender and liquefy.  Strain out the seeds and pulp and combine with lime juice.  Chiffonade the mint and add to the fruit juice. Shake in a cocktail shaker as you would any drink. Distribute the mixture evenly in your cocktail molds and top with club soda.  Stir to combine and freeze.

As always, please lick responsibly...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bar City, USA

Milwaukee has a lot to be proud of... Wisconsin, generally, in fact. I've written about some of these innovations here, and smart people everywhere recognize that our State accepts and inspires talented people to invent and excel.  Famous folks like Harry Houdini, Orson Welles, Spencer Tracy, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Annenberg and  Georgia O'Keefe prove that there is scarcely any field that is not distinguished by a Wisconsin connection. 

Things are not all sunshine in America's 30th State. We are also known for drunkenness, which is an unusual point of pride for the Wisconsinese.  "Out-drinking your state since 1948!" the t-shirts, mugs and stickers proudly chirp!  "You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning," a friend's father advised. The DUI laws certainly seem onerous for the thousands currently working their way through the system, but by national standards they are considered lax.  According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse our state ranks near the top of its list of Highest Per-Capita Consumption (though, it may be noted, not #1, which fact will certainly feel like a ripoff to some people). 

C. Dy Godsey
It may seem unusual that someone whose business is beverage alcohol would oppose drunkenness publicly.  For the record, I support the consumption of beverage alcohol for its subtle effects, and I support it wholeheartedly.  My opinion, mixed with Wisconsin's reputation, created a conflict for me when I read that Esquire magazine named Milwaukee its Bar City 2012.

Of course I am proud of Wisconsin's achievements, big and small. This one, however, leaves me with mixed feelings.   Under the guidance of David Wondrich, Esquire magazine undertook to find "the best places to have a drink in America," and our town came up on top.  We earned this spot largely because of our commitments both to hospitality and to variety in drinking culture.  From Wolski's to the Knight's Bar, the Old German Beer Hall to Distil and My Office, Wondrich's team sank drinks all over town.  According to Esquire, the two best bars in America are right here: Koz's and Bryant's.

The Two Best Bars in America.  We'd be foolish not to be proud.

We'd be equally foolish, however, not to check ourselves when it comes to overdrinking.  If you are an overdrinker, and you know who you are (if you aren't sure, ask the people who love you), please sober up before you drive.  Please learn to achieve and sustain a buzz without getting piss-drunk.  Overindulgence leads to embarrassment, inconvenience and to tragedy far too often. 

Now go gather up your friends and practice safe drinking.  We're #1!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Understated Elegance in a Cocktail Glass

Summertime... lots of people associate summertime drinking with an ice-cold beer or a simple duo like a gin and tonic. I've just finished the Summertime Cocktails menu for the Waukesha Chancery, and it is replete with fresh citrus and herbs. In the Midwest, we go too many months without really fresh ingredients, so we celebrate freshness in summertime: fresh fruit and fresh herbs.  I am unusually grateful for summer in Wisconsin, having spent many years in the South. I miss having regular warm sunshine, fresh produce year-round, the softness of humid air and feeling gentle breezes on my skin. I wanted to do something unexpected and elegant this season, but still honor the simplicity we all cherish about a beautiful season which is far too fleeting.There are a few surprises in the Summertime menu, including two ingredients that are drawn from the historical depths of mixology, but overall the flavors are familiar. No matter what the season, we always strive for balance, and these cocktails are no exception.

Lemon Verbena c.dy godsey

One way many of us celebrate summer's bounty is by growing our own herbs for cooking (and for me, cocktail-making). Whether your garden is in a container on the patio or dug into the earth, Lemon Verbena (aloysia citrodora) is a very agreeable plant. Its fragrance is the strongest of all lemon-scented plants, excluding, of course, the lemon itself.  I bought all the herbs in our bar garden from the local Stein's Garden Center, Chef Jeff's brand, including the Lemon Verbena featured this week.  Lemon Verbena, or Vervain, is easy to grow, requiring only soil, sun and water. Lucky for me and my endeavor, it benefits from frequent harvesting -- three shoots will branch off every time it is topped.  You can also overwinter it indoors; it is a deciduous plant and thus will lose its leaves, but it will come back in spring. Homeopaths say the plant can aid in the treatment of depression; I can certainly vouch for the uplifting feeling of inhaling its bright perfume. 

A few weeks back, I was having a celebrate-the-weekend cocktail with my sister, and formulated the following understated, sophisticated cocktail. I thought a mellow vanilla flavor would be just the thing to tone down the brightness of the lemon flavor.  To soften the drink, I used a sweetener, Oleo Saccharum; you will recall this ingredient from my post on making limoncello.  
Lemonilla Zest c.dy godsey
It is one of five seasonal cocktails featured at the Waukesha Chancery this summer.
Lemonilla Zest
2 oz. Absolut Vanilla Vodka
1 oz. Oleo Saccharum
10 Lemon Verbena leaves
Chill a large cocktail glass.
Combine the Vodka and Saccharum.
Add the leaves and muddle.
Transfer to an iced Boston Shaker.
      Shake, strain and serve.

How did it get its name?  As everybody knows, I am a terrible drink namer. To come up with such a perfet moniker, I needed help.  I turned to Facebook, posting a picture of the drink and its flavor profile. There were several suggestions, but Doug Johnson's was the best.  When I turned in the menu to my boss, a native Spanish speaker, he pronounced it "lem-o-NEE-ya," and it stuck

Monday, June 4, 2012

A quick update

Hey everyone that has ever read Eat MKE or liked us on Facebook, or followed us on twitter or told your mom about us. 

First off, thanks!

Secondly, I'm getting married this summer! (Congrats!) This means I have a ton of stuff to do on top of taking more serving shifts on to pay for said wedding. This will impact the amount of time I have for Eat MKE.  (Boooo hisssssss!)

But fear not faithful readers. I have added a few other bloggers I know from the area to become Admins on the Eat MKE Facebook page and twitter feeds. They will now be able to share some of there very best posts with you. So you can look forward to  hearing more from...

Fun Behind Bars With Dy Mixes
Bartender writes blog

Local Man Vs Food, Nick

Burp Blog
Where food happens.

Others to be named

And of course I'll still be around, I'm not going anywhere, I just have stuff to do. Jeez! Who are you my mom? (sorry mom.)

Side Note, Are you reading and saying to yourself I'd like to be an admin, or guest write a post or two on the Eat MKE Blog? 

Well then send an Email to me and let me know.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mr. Waiter-Man

Another "Tip" from your waiter.

If you enjoy this guy you should probably check out his Youtube channel and or follow him on whatever social network you are most comfortable with. You know before he snaps and goes on a killing spree.

I don't always agree with him, but something in each of his videos makes me laugh out loud. (lol) So go check him out, the link is below the video.

Check out More From: Mr. Waiter-Man