Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ms. Gin is really a Ninja

In a past life, I must have been a ninja. Or a vodka-destroying ninja at least. This is the second bottle down in about a month or so...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Experiment

My father used to keep his vodka in the freezer. My absolute favorites were the Van Gogh Chocolate and Espresso ones. Good enough to drink by themselves. In fact, I think I use that standard to measure if the liquor is good---would I want to drink it by itself (or on the rocks). Most bourbons pass the test, a few small batch botanical gins (like Hendricks), some better rums, and the above vodkas. That being said, it's starting to finally warm up here and I just bought some retro popsicle makers and so I'm thinking of alcoholic versions. Something a little whimsical and wrong but in a good way. So the question is, how much mixer will get the mango vodka to get with the orange juice and do their magic. I'm off for vacation tomorrow and wondering if I'll come home to a freezer of fun or perhaps a bastard screwdriver...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Connection and Cosmos

Though I'm not a fan of the drink myself, it's spring and everyone wants a Cosmo. Think Pink , think love and blossoms. The flowering trees on Park Ave. The tourists who are still all about Sex in the City, the I'm cool in my heels and I want a drink that looks pretty in my hands mentality. So if you have to make them, make them well. The trick is more lime, less cranberry. And the Cosmo's cousin, the Apple-tini is also making a comeback with my bar patrons---I remember when my father first made one for me, just vodka and apple pucker. Though I'm not a fan, if you add some fresh lemon, lime, and sour, it balances out the jolly rancher like quality.

I'm in the middle of 9 days in a row of tending (with yesterday off, so three more in a row to go). I thought I would be much more stressed, but what I'm realizing is the part of my job I love most is getting to know people. Sometimes I almost feel as if I'm at the bar, rather than working there---a sort of Park Ave. Cheers type of deal. However, I don't think I'd get to know as much or be part of as much if I were a patron (or get to walk away from what I don't really want to be part of).

On Saturday I opened early for a wedding party pre-gaming; later in the evening a couple came in celebrating their one year anniversary. Earlier in the week I got a good view of a heavy make-out session at the bar. (an aside, perhaps try finding a secluded corner, but hey, we all know what alcohol can do). It's spring and it's love. Lots of dates happening. A few weeks ago, I watched a man have two different dates at the bar (and he flirted with me in between, leaving his number on his tab at the end). As if! I'm tossing a virtual cosmo in his face!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Grain is Back!

In the great Passover battle, Chopin beats Ciroc as the non-grain based vodka that is "kosher." Next year, I promise to have a whole slew of Matzah friendly sippers! Last night, I had a bagel, a slice, and a cinnamon roll during my bar shift. The bourbon will wait until the weekend when I can really enjoy it and sit on the opposite side of the bar.

I'm in the middle of my 9 days in a row of tending to make up for time away. So far, not so bad, I've had some great conversations and wonderful and interesting patrons. One who brought out his guitar and had a sing-a-long, one who is an officer, one from Cleveland, one who has retired race horses, one who taught me the best way to make espresso martinis...

So here's the recipe---with my twist, substituting Starbuck's coffee liquor for Kahlua.

All equal parts: Stoli Vanilla, Espresso, Starbuck's coffee liquor (or Kahlua)
Shake with lots of ice (esp. if espresso is hot) 
Strain into martini glass
garnish with 3 coffee beans

Often people add Bailey's to this drink. I used to, just a hint, often adding half and half to cut it because something about creamy liquor puts me off.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Recession Drinking!

.. from Reader's Digest..

What the experts have picked for recession tippling: (wonder if these are NYC prices?!)

Scotch:  White Horse ($15 750 ml)

Bourbon: Evan Williams Black Label ($12)

        Elijah Craig 12 year old ($18)

        Old Forester ($19)

        Four Roses Yellow ($23)

Gin: Gordon's London ($15)

Vodka: Smirnoff ($13)

Rum: Brugal Anego ($14)

Beer: Hamm's ($3.99 a six-pack)

and allow This expert (my pal Tony in B'more) to recommend:

Whiskey:  Pikesville Rye ($13)


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ms. Gin Returns

My first day back at the bar was a shock after being away at yoga teacher training. Different hours, different everything. But on Tuesday, I realized that life is about opposites. In yoga, we find that in the Shiva/Shakti (male/female) contrasts, exploring our relationships and energy. Both internal and external. And so applying that, bartending and yoga somehow offer me a new found sense of balance and grace. 

Something else new happened for me. I tossed around the word boyfriend when talking to male customers, if something came up that would naturally allow for the conversation to go there. Before yoga school, I had a rule of not mentioning my private romantic life, thinking that it detracted from who I was as a bartender. Yoga has taught me to find that inner-balance and to work with my own sexual energy and that I can find restraint and boundaries even when wearing tight, sequined tube tops. 

My boyfriend (we'll call him Mr. Gin for now) hung out at the bar the past two nights, helped me work on new recipes, getting involved in bar conversations, and even trying to help me when I shook my shaker shut making a martini. Sigh, I'm a lucky one :)


He's a gin fan and so I wanted to offer him something special, a variation away from his usual gin and tonic. Here's a new favorite courtesy of  Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well by Eric Felton:

Bittered Gin Sling

1 1/2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth (you can also use sherry)
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
a dash or so of Angostura bitters
soda water

Shake all ingredients except soda water in shaker with ice. Strain into highball glass over ice. Add soda water and garnish with a lemon twist.

Then toast someone you love, finding gratitude and joy in your glass as well as your practice, whether it's yoga, mixology, or anything else.