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!


Party Food!

Tacos with Chimichurri

Churrasco-style steak tacos with shredded cheese, red cabbage, and chimichurri on a flour tortilla. Accompanied by grilled sweet potatoes and Topolo Margaritas (thank you Rick Bayless)

These tacos are the epitome of party food. Smokey, salty, big beef flavor with the greatest savory sauce of all time. It is amazing, and while I combined a lot of great recipes from other folks (Cooks Illustrated Magazine for the steak and chimichurri sauce, Bobby Flay for the potatoes, and Rick Bayless’s Margarita), I do claim some talent in the combination and in making the steak and sauce into an approachable taco. All that said, I did alter the recipes with a few edits of my own.

People will worship you for this one – It will be awesome. I once took all of this stuff along with a tent, my family, and a couple of friends to the beach to celebrate my birthday and ever since my Mom asks for this to be on the menu during our visits.

Here are the essentials:
Buy thick steaks, the one pictured is a Prime NY Strip from Paulina Meat Market (if you are in Chicago and have not shopped here, DO IT). The steaks get a rub of corn starch and coarse salt, then placed in the freezer for 30 minutes. When grilling, it’s 2-3 minutes per side, flipped three times. Rest for five minutes and slice for tacos.

Chimichurri is flat leaf parsley, cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, rehydrated oregano, red wine vinegar, water, and olive oil. You may want to memorize this because once you’ve served this to someone, they will ask you for the recipe. This one came from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.

The sweet potatoes are from Bobby Flay and are pretty basic. Peel and quarter the sweet spuds, toss in olive oil and throw on the grill. Serve with lime salt (finely chopped lime zest mixed with table salt to taste) and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Finally, Rick Bayless’s Topolo Margarita. Look up the link on his Frontera Grill Web site. After you do that, here are my changes. I make the limeade with a mix of simple syrup and honey instead of granulated sugar. I also specifically use Grand Marnier as my orange liqueur. You can use great tequila but I have found that Hornitos is pretty tasty in this cocktail.

This is a great combination and easy to scale for large and small crowds. It is pretty inexpensive – mostly depending on the steak and tequila. You can also serve this with a Rioja or Malbec.

Have fun. Enjoy!