Archive for the Tastings Category

Making Spirits Bright: Tales of the Toddy

Posted in Cocktails, Eat, Imbibe, Recipe, Tastings with tags , , , , , , , , on 11 December, 2009 by la fille

Last night I was lucky enough to attend Tales of the Toddy at the W on Poydras Street, and darned if the event didn’t warm my cockles just a little.

For y’all who don’t know, Tales of the Toddy (put on by Tales of the Cocktail and the New Orleans Culinary and Cocktail Preservation Society) was a giant cocktail party designed to ring in the holiday season and give local bartenders a venue to show off their winter-suitable creations. Proceeds also went to benefit the New Orleans Musician’s Assistance Foundation, which is, of course, a good thing.

Here are the bartenders who were there:

Arnaud’s French 75 • Chris Hannah

Carousel Bar • Marvin Allen

Coquette • Cole Newton

Crescent City School of Bartending •  Stahili Glover

Cure • Rhiannon Enlil

Cure • Neal Bodenheimer

Domenica • Michael Glassberg

Dos Jefes • Talia Neal

Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse • Tiffany Soles

Ritz Carlton • Daniel Victory

Whiskey Blue • Lisa Nahay

Pernod Ricard USA • Chris Patino

Iris Restaurant • Sharon Floyd

And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails author • Wayne Curtis

And the chefs:

a Mano • Chefs Joshua Smith and Adolfo Garcia

Arnaud’s • Chef Tommy Di Giovanni

Boucherie • Chef Nathanial Zimet

Creole Creamery • Chef Bryan Gilmore

Cure • Chef Jason McCullar

Jackson Restaurant • Chef John Bolderson

La Cote Brassierie • Chef Chuck Subra

Pelican Club • Chef Richard Hughes

Squeal Barbeque • Brendan, Patrick and Eugene “Gene” Young

Tomatillo’s • Alaina Stokke

ZOE • Chef Chris Brown

Royal House Oyster Bar

Now,  I will admit that I didn’t take notes last night, so unfortunately I won’t be able to provide detailed descriptions of most of the drinks. I was on a lady-date with my friend Tattoo, whom I hadn’t seen in a while, and figured quality time trumped bloggy time. We did have a blast, if that makes up for my lack of studiousness.

Most of the cocktail sponsors were blatantly obvious– there were a LOT of drinks made with Absolut vodka, Hendrick’s gin, and Sazerac rye. Now, I don’t consider myself a vodka fan (although I will admit to a Salty Dog or two if I’m at a dive bar and the weather is warm) but both of my favorite cocktails last night turned out to be vodka-based.

The big surprise of the evening was The Stubborn Mule by Marvin Allen of the Carousel Bar consisting of Absolut vanilla, Absolut 100, Fentiman’s ginger beer, and lime. Now this sounds pretty tasty and refreshing, so Tattoo and I bellied up and got one, but when he handed us our cups, the drinks were warm. We looked at each other, first with surprise, then with incredulity, because the prospect of warm vodka appealed to neither of us. Never ones to back down from a cocktail, though, we took our first hesitant sips, and lo, it was good. Mostly lime at the front, with some mild ginger coming out. After eating taking a bite of spicy food, however, the vanilla really shone through, and we each contemplated getting another round.

We couldn’t do that, though– there was too much else to drink! Warm cocktails with tea and Nocello (Lisa Nahay of Whiskey Blue‘s Mad Hatter’s Toddy), cold ones with rye, pear liqueur, Averna, and celery bitters (Neal Bodenheimer of Cure’s Axis of Everything), and punches with gin and absinthe (Rhiannon Enlil of Cure).

Stahili Glover’s Grey Pear proved to be the hands-down favorite of several people I spoke with, and I am inclined to agree. It straddled the line between refreshing and comforting, so it’d be just as good on a hot afternoon in July as it was on a cold December evening. Fruity and unctuous, but not cloying, I’m still fantasizing about it this morning.

Mr. Glover is from the Crescent City School of Bartending and was gracious enough to share his recipe, which you’ll find at the bottom of the post.

Of course, if the planners of the event had only provided booze, they would have ended up with a lot of sloppy people in sparkly clothes on their hands, so they rounded up representatives of some of the city’s best restaurants to provide some sustenance. Duck empanadas from Jason McCullar at Cure and some truly delish pulled pork and corn grits from Squeal Barbeque stood out in particular as good comfort food on a chilly night. Tattoo and I finished things off with pear sorbet and ginger ice cream from Chef Bryan Gilmore of Creole Creamery.

After having our fill of goodies, we found ourselves considerably jollier than when we arrived, and capped off the night with a walk through the winter wonderland that is Fulton Street in December.

Not enough alcohol had been imbibed that we tried to catch the fake snow on our tongues, but I’ll admit the thought did cross my mind. (photo via)

Grey Pear

by Stahili Glover


1 oz. Grey Goose La Poire vodka

1 tsp. honey

2 dashes vanilla extract

3 oz. peach nectar

pear slice for garnish


1. Mix vodka and honey in a mixing glass with one pear slice, add 2 dashes vanilla extract, a little ice, and shake for 30 seconds.

2. Pour into a large rocks or collins glass, top with 3 oz. peach nectar, and garnish with a pear slice.

Beautiful and delicious!

South American Wine Tasting

Posted in Imbibe, Tastings, Wine with tags , , , , on 28 May, 2009 by la fille

A couple of weeks ago, Brother O’Mara and I went to a South American tasting at Martin Wine hosted by the knowledgeable and gracious Andrew Dike. He took a trip to Chile and Argentina last year and not only led us through the wines of the region, but showed us some beautiful photos and made us all jealous that we didn’t go along.

Here’s the rundown, with notes:

2008 Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc (Chile, $9.99)

Creamy nose with strong tropical/melon/pineapple aromas. Bright, acidic, and green on the tongue; sweetening a lot upon warming up; creamy finish.

2006 Cono Sur Vision Chardonnay (Chile, $13.99)


Nutty and floral nose, brisk and minerally; apple; full but with low oak for a Chardonnay.

2007 Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir (Chile, $13.99)


Toasty, hot nose, with a hint of metallic aroma. Tastes of jammy red fruit with a long finish; slightly hot. Not very well-balanced.

2007 Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir (Chile, $50.00)


Dusty, brambly nose with definite dark fruits; very complex compared with the Vision, soft and creamy, full with currants and black cherry. Intense fruit, mild tannins and some oak on the finish. Huge, ripe mouthfeel.

2007 La Posta Malbec Paulucci Vineyard (Argentina, $15.99)


Civet and red cherry on the nose, also perfumey and oddly floral; taste of red fruit, particularly strawberry, young-tasting, floppy, and fatty with no bones–no complexity or structure to back up the initial taste.

2007 Dona Paula Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina, $13.99)


Big and dirty, thick, meaty nose; bitter chocolate entrance, savory taste with a huge mouthfeel and an oaky, hot, tannic finish.

2007 BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina, $18.99)


Creamy nose with hints of graphite and red fruit; round and rich purple fruits (cassis and plum) on tongue; tannic, bitter oak on finish

2007 Tikal Amorio Malbec (Argentina, $18.99)

amorio_tikal_malbec_2006(this is the 2006 label, not 2007)

Floral and red fruit aromas, subtle but full; well-balanced with good tannins.

Overall, neither of us found anything we HAD to have, although if we had, we could have done so since most everything we tasted was moderately priced. As an aside, we LOVE the Dona Paula Shiraz-Malbec — it’s become a daily drinker in our house — so it was nice to try the cabernet as well.

Foodwise, they served La Yerbera, a goat’s milk cheese covered in almonds from Spain and Campo Montalban, a Spanish mixed-milk cheese.

Absinthe Workshop with Jeff Hollinger

Posted in Cocktails, Imbibe, Tastings with tags on 28 March, 2009 by la fille

Jeff Hollinger is the manager of Absinthe Brasserie and Bar in San Francisco, mixmaster extraordinaire, and co-author of the award-winning book, Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics.


He was in New Orleans this weekend and hosted an absinthe cocktail workshop and tasting at the Absinthe Museum of America (823 Royal St. in the French Quarter). He spoke a little about the history of absinthe and what it means for cocktails now that the ban’s been lifted, showed us some interesting drink recipes utilising absinthe as an ingredient, and let us taste a whole bunch of interesting stuff.

His current favorite absinthe is Obsello, an absinthe verte from Spain:


I’m not a big absinthe connoisseur, but I enjoyed the Obsello prepared in the traditional manner with sugar and water. It was smooth and creamy, with a powdery mouthfeel.

On to the cocktails (I didn’t take notes, but I’ll do my best):

Sacred Heart

3 parts La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila

2 parts absinthe

1 part limoncello

juice of half a lemon

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sinister Flip

1 egg white

2 parts gin

1 part absinthe

1 part strawberry syrup*

Shake all ingredients first without ice so as to get the egg white nice and frothy. Add ice, shake some more, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Hollinger sometimes adds a drop of a rosemary tincture at the end, made with rosemary and vodka.

* to make the strawberry syrup, just boil strawberries, water, and sugar

Yesterday’s Song

3 parts rum

2 parts absinthe

1 part maraschino liqueur

juice of half a lime

handful of fresh rosemary

Lightly muddle ingredients together, then shake with ice, strain and serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Although we drank it straight-upm Hollinger says he typically serves this drink long, with a little ginger beer on top.

Drink the name for which I can’t remember

2 parts mezcal

1 part absinthe

1 part port

Stir together with ice and strain into a glass. Meant to be an aperitif.

Overall, the Sinister Flip was my favorite. I loved the creaminess imparted by the egg white, and the fruity-herby combo of strawberry, juniper, and anise was delightful. I did not like the one with mezcal–too smoky for my tastes. The other two were good, but I will definitely be craving the Sinister Flip again.

Elk Cove Wine Tasting

Posted in Imbibe, Tastings, Wine with tags , , , on 28 March, 2009 by la fille

Adam Godlee Campbell, the head winemaker for Elk Cove Vineyards in Oregon, was kind enough to host a tasting at Martin Wine Cellar while he was in town a couple of weeks ago. He gave a great talk, answered some questions, and led us through some delicious wines his vineyard makes.

On the list for the evening (notes are a combination of mine and Brother O’Mara’s):


2007 Pinot Gris (retail $16.99): Rich yet acidic with a surprisingly thick mouthfeel. Notes of peach, melon, and pineapple, with a luscious, sweet finish.


2006 Riesling Estate Willamette Valley (retail $16.99): Rich and fruity nose, with a hint of that petrol/lighter fluid aroma you get with Rieslings sometimes. Big, with a good balance between fruit (pear and apple) and acidity, with a long, superfruity finish.


2007 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley (retail $24.99): Very earthy for a Pinot, with notes of chocolate, smoke, and dark fruits. Plum and cherry, with a savory note as well. Good tannic finish.


2007 Pinot Noir Mount Richmond (retail $38.99): Dark, dusty nose. Jammy; dark and thick on the tongue, strong leather/smoke notes.


2006 Pinot Noir Windhill (retail $39.99): My favorite of the evening. Fruitier than the Richmond and Willamette, sweet and toasty, with cherry and a little strawberry, as well as a dry woody/brambly note.


2006 Pinot Noir Roosevelt (retail $63.00): Huge and rich, almost unbelievably so for a Pinot Noir. Chocolate and coffee, gigantic lingering finish.


2002 Pinot Noir Roosevelt (vineyard exclusive, no retail availability): Slightly cloudier than the ’06, nose of oil, leather, and dried fruit. Thinner mouthfeel but bursting with flavor. Mouthwatering and incredibly full, with a tannic finish.

And for dessert:


2006 Riesling Ultima 375 mL (retail $29.99): 60% Riesling, 32% Gewurtztraminer, 8% Muscat. Unctuous, thick, and rich. Delightfully fruity and sweet, but balanced by citrus and a crisp acidity.

Martin provided us with two cheeses to aid our palettes, as well: Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, an American goat cheese, and Delice de Bourgogne, a French cow’s milk triple creme (which happens to be Brother O’Mara’s favorite cheese–score!).