Craft Cocktail: The Artist’s Special

A few weeks ago I was out having fun with friends for my buddy’s birthday (There’s a post about it) . While we were out we stopped into a great craft cocktail bar (named and hyperlinked in the other post) where I met one of the greatest drinks I have ever put to my lips. If you know me, that is a HUGE deal. Of course, it included my favorite booze – bourbon. And, it is served chilled but without ice so you get the straight dope. To say I had a revelation would be going too far but, this baby is at least as good as the best Sazerac I’ve ever had. Again, I have had the best and if you meet Owen at the Violet Hour in Bucktown – you too can enjoy one (yes, I know that is a rye drink but for those who know that – I want you to know where to rank this cocktail).

Okay, enough on that. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty . . . how is it made?

Well, let’s find the right ingredients first. I like Buffalo Trace right now so that takes care of the bourbon. The juice is easy, half of a fresh-squeezed lemon will do it. What makes it pink? At the place I first had it, they used grosielle syrup (currant syrup) but I am using raspberry gum syrup. Don’t get me wrong, as soon as I can get my hands on fresh currants, I will be making my own groseille syrup because the heat note from the currants takes adds a beautiful complexity that is not to be missed. And, finally you will need sherry. I followed suit from my first experience and bought Lustau’s Manzanilla Papirusa.

Next, you need the proportions and methods. I have included pictures to help us along:

3/4 oz. sherry
1 oz. boubon
1/2 oz syrup
1/2 lemon squeezed (or to taste)

Top: all of the ingredients Bottom: everything mixed

Top: all of the ingredients
Bottom: everything mixed

Yep! That’s it. I like to chill the low ball glass this wonderfulness is heading for. And, as seen in the picture, you are going to rigorously stir this over ice (I cover the glass with my non-stirring hand so I can really beat up the ice) for a fifteen count. Empty the low ball glass and strain in your magic elixir. Enjoy!

Craft Cocktail: The Artist’s Special

Artist's Special

A few weeks ago I was out having fun with friends for my buddy’s birthday (There’s a post about it) . While we were out we stopped into a great craft cocktail bar (named and hyperlinked in the other post) where I met one of the greatest drinks I have ever put to my lips. If you know me, that is a HUGE deal. Of course, it included my favorite booze – bourbon. And, it is served chilled but without ice so you get the straight dope. To say I had a revelation would be going too far but, this baby is at least as good as the best Sazerac I’ve ever had. Again, I have had the best and if you meet Owen at the Violet Hour in Bucktown – you too can enjoy one (yes, I know that is a rye drink but for those who know that – I want you to know where to rank this cocktail).

Okay, enough on that. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty . . . how is it made?

Well, let’s find the right ingredients first. I like Buffalo Trace right now so that takes care of the bourbon. The juice is easy, half of a fresh-squeezed lemon will do it. What makes it pink? At the place I first had it, they used grosielle syrup (currant syrup) but I am using raspberry gum syrup. Don’t get me wrong, as soon as I can get my hands on fresh currants, I will be making my own groseille syrup because the heat note from the currants takes adds a beautiful complexity that is not to be missed. And, finally you will need sherry. I followed suit from my first experience and bought Lustau’s Manzanilla Papirusa.

Next, you need the proportions and methods. I have included pictures to help us along:

Top: all the stuff Bottom: everything mixed

Top: all the stuff
Bottom: everything mixed

3/4 oz. sherry
1 oz. boubon
1/2 oz syrup
1/2 lemon squeezed (or to taste)

Yep! That’s it. I like to chill the low ball glass this wonderfulness is heading for. And, as seen in the picture, you are going to rigorously stir this over ice (I cover the glass with my non-stirring hand so I can really beat up the ice) for a fifteen count. Empty the low ball glass and strain in your magic elixir. Enjoy!

Cooking Light

Over the last couple of weeks Emily and I have been trying out recipes from our new Cooking Light subscription. We got this subscription as a “deal” when we purchased a gift subscription for my Mom. It’s not that I don’t like cooking magazines, I am a huge fan of Cooks Illustrated Magazine and almost every one of my friends has benefitted from that obsession. It is more that I hate the idea of diet magazines claiming good food because that is often not the case at all. Those recipes are usually good . . . given the circumstances under which they have to be prepared – no calories, no bread, no dairy, no red meat – whatever. So I was pleasantly surprised when I read the editor’s letter expressing similar thoughts. This revelation enticed my curiosity and I headed into the magazine to look around.

Thank goodness the editor showed his cards because I found great food inside the volume and I am thrilled to share the highlights with you.

The first is BLT salad. This is a panzanella salad and tastes exactly like a BLT made into a salad (no kidding, right!?!). The recipe includes a couple of clever techniques that really make this tasty. The first is the lemon, mayo, and chives aioli. When drizzled over the heirlooms and bacon bits and coupled with the toasted bread, everything comes together like magic.

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The second trick is the Cooking Light secret – pump up the herbs. In this salad the 1/3 cup of sliced fresh basil and cup of arugula brightens and accentuates the entire dish.

I love every BLT I have ever had and I love this salad as much. The recipe is on page 108 of the August 2013 issue. Buy the magazine and try it out.

The second stand out recipe from the trials was the simply grilled salmon with a fresh pickle of lemon juice, dill, cucumber, and toasted almonds.

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Now, truth be told I messed up and made this with cucumber rather than zucchini. But, Emily and Margaret (my sister who was over for dinner that night) agreed that the cucumbers were awesome.

I recommend both of these recipes. Enjoy!

www.chiefdinnerofficer.com is up and running

Come and check out my new digs. I am now blogging on my own domain. I hope this will allow me to add a few more interactive ideas I have for taking the Chief Dinner Officer experience out to more people and actually feed you/them myself.

If you sign up to receive email updates of my new blog, I will send you a great recipe that is not on the blog…yet.

Thanks for following and getting me going so far, I really appreciate all your support.

Happy Birthday Steve!

Today is my longtime friend’s 34th birthday. Last night Emily and I met up with the birthday boy, Steve, and his lovely wife Kelly to celebrate. Of course, we did that by scoping out some cool places in their hood for drinks and food. We hit a home run choosing Found Kitchen and Social House for dinner. This place was as lovely and eclectic as depicted on the web site – we had a great time.

Found has a couple of really cool things going on. The first is the space. The patio dining opens completely into the restaurant. And, while that made it a little hot last night, the sights and sounds of the evening street bustle plus the hum of the restaurant made for a very cool setting. I felt pretty cool being there and the memory seems kinda like a movie scene. Second, our server Barkley, was very well informed about the food, drinks, and -clearly- the philosophy of the chef and owner. In addition, Barkley was completely gracious . . . a star quality for service in my book.

Beyond the set up, we enjoyed inspired and delicious cocktails. We also shared some pretty great food. I can confirm our server’s contention that you cannot go wrong. Here’s what we had:

Cocktails – chartreuse and herb smash (spectacular), rhubarb sour, dark and stormy, little drink on the prairie, and a glass of wine.

Food – seasonal cauliflower salad, wings, chef’s board, polenta, chicken liver mouse with bacon marmalade. We closed it out with a sundae made with chocolate ice cream, malted vanilla gelato, hot fudge, a whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. Everyone had their favorites. We’d definitely go again and try a few of the items that we were too full to enjoy this time.

It would be helpful to mention that we rolled in there at 7:30 on a Saturday and were given a wait time of 45 to an hour but were seated in less than 15 minutes. That said we easily scored bar seats and started into the cocktails – so no harm either way.

As I like to say it – We were thirsty for more! So, we hopped over to Ward 8. And, honestly, this really became the main event. We were four stressed out thirsty adults and this place delivered. Elegant, sophisticated, perfectly crafted, beautiful, balanced drinks of pure wonderfulness.

If I wasn’t driving and feeling a little under the weather I would have had many more cocktails. That said the group enjoyed the following: Moscow mule, Bee’s Nees, artists special, Brooklyn, a couple off a past menu, and a couple of beers.

My advice – Go! Both of these places were great and fairly reasonable given the quality and craftsmanship.

Happy Birthday Steve!

Freedom River – Fourth of July Drink

You likely noticed the mini vacay I took from blogging over the past week. Well, I got out of the city for a trip to my parents’ house. While there I did do a bit of cooking and shook up a few beautiful cocktails for all to enjoy. The “Freedom River” as my sibs and spouse started calling it is an upgraded version of a cocktail that my mixologist friend, Angie Jackson, made when she mixed for a party we had years ago to “warm” our condo. When Angie did it she called it a French Riviera.

This drink is refreshing and if you have to do it, can be served deliciously without booze. Here are the components:

1 oz. Lemon juice

0.5 oz. ginger syrup

2 oz. vodka

2 oz. club soda

1 glass full of ice

1 dozen berries (blueberries and raspberries)

sprig of mint

Prep the glass by alternating layers of a couple blueberries and raspberries and ice, until full. Add the soda. Next, combine everything but the mint and shake vigorously for 15 seconds – until your fingers hurt from the cold, then three more shakes. Pour gently over the ice, berries, and club soda. Finally, fold the mint leaf or sprig to release some of its wonderful essential oils, garnish the drink, serve, and enjoy. The intention of the mint is to provide an aromatic experience that adds a beautiful complexity and compliment to the drink  – SO DON’T SKIP IT!

Couple of things to remember, squeeze the lemons yourself to get the best juice. Also, ginger simple syrup is easy to make and works for tons of drinks – I will provide more as time goes on. To make this syrup bring equal parts of granulated sugar and water to boil and reduce by half. As you whisk/stir the sugar into the water and once the combination looks clear again add matchsticks of ginger. The ginger should be removed as you pour the hot syrup into a cooling container.

Red, white, and blue. Patriotic booze, perfect for a hot day on the deck.ImageImage