Here at ICE, our mixology experts craft delicious cocktail menus for cocktail-themed special events — a creative, hands-on option for a group event with friends or colleagues. In anticipation of our new lineup of cocktail themes, we’re sharing recipes for a couple of classic, American cocktails from our American Pastime theme. Mix, sip and repeat!

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The Mint Julep
Yield: one cocktail 

The mint julep has been the signature beverage of the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Fact: each year, almost 120,000 mint juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That requires more than 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice!

mint julep

Mint Julep

Ingredients:

¼ ounces raw sugar syrup
8 mint leaves
2 ounces bourbon
Handful of fresh mint, stemmed removed
Bitters (optional)
Glass: julep cup or rocks glass

Preparation:

  • In your glass, gently muddle the mint and syrup. Add bourbon and pack glass with crushed ice.
  • Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside.
  • Top with more crushed ice to form an ice dome and garnish with a few drops of bitters (if desired) and lots of mint

* Pro tip: Gently muddle, so as not to bruise the mint and make it bitter. The more mint you garnish with the better — it’s there for the aromatics as you sip the drink. Get metal julep stirrers that have a straw/spoon combo to go through the ice.

Old Fashioned with Mezcal

Old Fashioned with Mezcal

The Old Fashioned
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

2 ounces rye bourbon or straight rye whiskey
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 brown sugar cube
1 orange peel
Glass: rocks glass

Preparation:

  • In a glass, add the syrup, bitters and orange peel.
  • Use a muddler to gently press the orange peel to release the citrus oils.
  • Remove orange peel, then add the whiskey and stir. Add ice cubes and stir again.
  • Place orange peel on top of ice to garnish.

*Pro tip: Originally, an old fashioned cocktail could be made using any spirit — so you can use your preferred spirit, too! Don’t like whiskey? Try gin, rum, brandy, mezcal, tequila…you name it.

Click here to learn more about hosting a special event at ICE.

By Ethan Fixell

Ethan Fixell is a beer, wine and spirits writer and educator from New York City. He contributes to over a dozen different publications, though he most frequently writes for Food & Wine, Men’s Journal and Quartz.

I drink a lot. As a beverage writer and educator, I like to think of myself as fairly knowledgeable when it comes to cocktails. And yet, after recently sitting in on ICE’s “Cocktail Recipe Development” class, I’m almost embarrassed to admit just how much I actually learned.

The class was the final session of ICE’s new six-week Professional Mixology program, which, led by the school’s Director of Beverage Studies Anthony Caporale, explores topics ranging from mixology history and technique, to cocktail construction, to practical bar management. In this ultimate session, students — who range from curious foodies to prospective bar owners — were given the chance to flex their newfound cocktail knowledge by assembling a custom bar menu and preparing the prospective drinks for their colleagues.
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I, for one, was thrilled to participate as a mock bar-goer: Over the course of two hours, each student stood up to describe his or her bar concept to the class, read a menu of up to five cocktails (priced according to a standardized formula) and concocted beverages for thirsty classmates. Below are my notes on some of the most intriguing presentations I witnessed (and drank!) in this incredibly unique class:

LORI

First up was Lori, who pitched a bar focusing on female clientele, with “drinks that cater to a woman’s palate, but aren’t girly.” Her cocktails — such as the Calm Collins: gin blended with a relaxing mix of lavender, lemon and rosemary – sounded delicious, but incredibly expensive considering the suggested 22% pour cost. At $25 per drink, she’ll likely only cater to millionaire patrons. Anthony let Lori know that he loved the theme of the bar and the drink names, but pressed her on her pricing.

Her cocktail recipes, however, were right on the money. The Ginger Chamomile Flip (rum, ginger, chamomile and spice made creamy with an egg white foam) was a particular hit with the entire class.

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ERIC

Eric’s goal was to open a bar in Crown Heights with Emily, a friend and fellow student in the class. He managed to keep prices around $12, with takes on three different classics: an Old Fashioned, a Rob Roy and a Negroni. Modeled after an Old Fashioned, his Short Stack — made with rye, maple syrup, Blackstrap molasses, aged bitters and garnished with an orange peel — tasted like a syrupy stack of pancakes.

I ordered a Short Stack and Eric asked if I preferred the bitters on top or mixed in. Emily, in a hushed whisper, suggested that I take them on top for increased aromatics.

I took Emily’s recommendation and good thing I did: the nose on the beverage was amazing. Perhaps it was a touch too sweet on the palate but that can easily be adjusted. Considering this was Eric’s first time preparing the cocktail in public, I was quite impressed.

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NESHANN

Who needs food when you’ve got drinks? Neshann really shook things up and did away with a traditional restaurant menu for a “5-course cocktail meal.” The journey began with an appetizer in the form of a Scotch-based Cranberry Blood and Sand, and concluded with dessert: Meant To Be, a play on the Grasshopper that incorporates Branca Menta, crème de cacao, Cognac, orange juice and a whole egg.

“This is a great example of building off of an original template,” Anthony declared, who seemed to be quite happy with the students’ jobs of taking the classics and reconstructing them with their own updated spins. Apparently, Anthony explained, this is the approach taken by many great cocktail bars.

Neshann’s best cocktail was an ode to the Sidecar called Broken Axle, made with Cognac, Cointreau, maple and just the right balance of ginger. He explained how he had to be careful with the ginger: A touch too much would “blow it out,” he said, underlining the importance of proper ingredient ratios.

Anthony was delighted by the sweet, sour and spicy cocktails from the students. “When I judge competitions,” he said, “around 60% of drinks are out of balance. I haven’t had an out-of-balance drink all night!”

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DENNIS

The Ethan Fixell Creativity Award goes to Dennis, a doctor who created an incredibly ambitious “Asian-themed menu” spanning cultures from three different countries.

His Korean-themed cocktail was a soju-based kimchi martini. Dennis found that adding fresh fermented cabbage to the glass didn’t impart enough to the beverage, so he infused it into the liquor in advance instead, locking in that pickled flavor.

Dennis’ Thai homage was a Lemongrass Martini made with the option of lemongrass-infused vodka or gin (“I come prepared,” he wryly affirmed) and a kiss of dry vermouth. As a traditionalist (as much as one can be, ordering a lemongrass-infused martini), I opted for the gin version and was far from disappointed.

ICE Pro Mixology

Dennis’s pièce de résistance, however, was his Chinese-inspired drink: a Peking Duck Old Fashioned inspired by some bacon-infused bourbon tasted in a previous class. In fact, the concoction — made with duck-juice-infused bourbon topped with angostura bitters — might have been the winner of the entire night. “That’s what happens when doctors make drinks,” Anthony proclaimed.

But perhaps it’s also what happens when students learn from an excellent teacher at a top-notch culinary school.

Ready to craft your own cocktail and learn pro mixology? Click here to check out ICE’s mixology and beverage courses.

Need to brush up on your wine, beer and spirits knowledge? Register today for Ethan’s upcoming class, Drinking 101. 

All photos by Ethan Fixell © 2017.

No New Year’s celebration is complete without good friends and great (bubbly) cocktails. That’s why ICE and People Food teamed up to bring you these three Champagne-based drinks: the classic Champagne Cocktail, a French 75 and a Rosemary-Infused Pomegranate Sparkler. Watch below to learn from ICE’s Director of Beverage Studies Anthony Caporale how to prepare each one — then put a few bottles of bub on ice and watch your party go from festive to fantastic.

*Bubbly tips from ICE Beverage Director Anthony Caporale

  • Never shake a drink that contains Champagne or any carbonated beverage, as the mixing glass may explode out of the cocktail shaker.
  • Pour Champagne down the side of the glass to decrease the amount of head; pour it into the center of the glass to increase the amount of head.
  • Liquids lose carbonation as they warm up, so keep your Champagne bottle on ice after opening to help maintain the bubbles.

The Champagne Cocktail
Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Champagne
Strawberry or lemon

Preparation:

  1. Place a sugar cube into a Champagne coupe.
  2. Add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters to the sugar cube.
  3. Fill glass with Champagne.
  4. Garnish with a sliced strawberry or lemon twist.

French 75
Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

Ice
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice (or, juice of 1 lemon)
Champagne
Lemon twist

Preparation:

  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add gin, simple syrup and lemon juice, and shake.
  3. Pour mixture into a champagne flute.
  4. Top with Champagne.
  5. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Rosemary-Infused Pomegranate Sparkler

Servings: Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups boiling hot water
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 ounce pomegranate juice
Champagne
Pomegranate seeds

Preparation:

  1. Add sugar and water together in a pitcher.
  2. Add rosemary and stir; allow to infuse for one hour.
  3. To a glass, add pomegranate juice and 1 ounce of the rosemary-infused simple syrup.
  4. Top with Champagne.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

 Want to learn to mix cocktails like a pro? Check out ICE’s wine and beverage programs.

By Caitlin Raux

In 2016, we cooked, baked, mixed and tasted a ton of delicious recipes at the Institute of Culinary Education. Our chef instructors and beverage pros shared their expertise and gave us step-by-step guides to making some of their favorite sips and eats. To ensure that your final feasts of 2016 are memorable, we came up with a list of our best recipes of 2016. Whether you’re an aspiring food professional or a devout foodie, here’s a dinner party’s-worth of great recipes:

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

  • Kick off the New Year on a healthy-ish new foot with Chef Jenny McCoy’s Shrub Cocktails — equal parts restorative, digestif and, well, booze.
  • If you’re anything like us, no meal is complete without a couple hunks of bread — fresh out of the oven if possible. Why not ditch the same old baguette and give Chef Sarah Chaminade’s Irish Soda Bread a try? Save some for the morning after and serve with clotted cream and jam for the perfect “treat yourself” breakfast.

irish soda bread recipe

  • If you’re really fixing to impress dinner guests, Chef David Waltuck, our new Director of Culinary Affairs, has the winning recipe: Loin of Lamb with Mini Moussaka, a dish from Chef David’s famed Tribeca restaurant, Chanterelle, that’s as delicious as it is “oooh”- and “aahhh”-inspiring.
  • But let’s be honest: A feast is nothing without an ample selection of tasty sides. Luckily, our resident Southern-cuisine expert, Chef Robert Ramsey, proffered up a few show-stealing Southern sides — like Creamy Sweet Potato Soup With Brown Butter, Sorghum Syrup and Sage Croutons — to add to (or take over) your table.
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credit: farm.one

  • And don’t forget the visual and taste appeal of microgreens, like the ones we grow in our indoor hydroponic garden. Sprinkle these tiny, powerful bites throughout the meal (including the cocktails) with abandon.
  • Then comes the grand finale — the sweets. Chef Kathryn Gordon offered us a sneak peek into her newest cookbook, ‘Les Petits Sweets: Two-Bite Desserts from the French Patisserie,’ and shared an easy-to-follow recipe for decadent, delicious Pear-Rosemary Madeleines.
  • But if gluten and your belly are not quite best friends, Chef James Distefano has just the sweet treat for you: Spice-filled Gluten-free Speculaas Cookies.

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Happiest and tastiest holiday wishes from everyone at ICE!

Want to study culinary or pastry arts with our award-winning chef instructors? Click here for more information on our career programs.

By ICE Staff

Eggnog. Like the pumpkin spice latté, it belongs to that category of food and drink that we only crave during very specific, limited times of the year. It makes you wonder: Where did this seemingly bizarre tradition of mixing liquor and rich ingredients originate? Hundreds of years ago in Europe, according to ICE’s Director of Beverage Studies, Anthony Caporale. In a new Facebook Live video with Spoon University, Anthony tells us about the origins of eggnog and explains why we only drink this creamy cocktail during the holidays. Watch the video to get the lowdown and see how to shake up some bourbon eggnog at home.

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Bourbon Eggnog
Servings: makes 2½ gallons (enough for about 20 servings)

Ingredients:

2 dozen eggs
1½ cups sugar
1 liter Maker’s Mark
1 quart heavy whipping cream
1 quart whole milk
Nutmeg to taste

Bourbon Eggnog

Preparation:

  1. Separate yolks from whites of 2 dozen eggs.
  2. Beat whites into soft peaks.
  3. Beat yolks until smooth, slowly add sugar and beat until pale yellow.
  4. Blend in Maker’s Mark and egg whites.
  5. Beat heavy whipping cream into soft speaks, then blend into egg mixture.
  6. Add milk and combine well.
  7. Serve with nutmeg, freshly grated if possible.
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Click here to watch the video

 Thirsty for more wine + beverage knowledge. Click here for more information on ICE’s course offerings. 


By Jenny McCoy
—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

Drinking vinegars, also known as shrubs, have become increasingly popular. Restaurants like Pok Pok NY in Brooklyn are now bottling drinking vinegars and selling them in grocery stores across they country. Even though not everyone knows about shrubs, drinking vinegar for health purposes has been done for a very long time.

Long ago, the Romans and Babylonians were mixing vinegar with water. The word “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word “sharbah,” which translates as “drink.” Even sailors from the 16th-18th centuries drank shrubs to prevent scurvy! Today, they are infused with every flavor one can imagine and lauded for their health benefits, some even claiming weight loss.

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Shrub cocktail from the Spoon University event at ICE (credit: Katherine Baker)

Here’s the skinny

Shrubs are made with a combination of fruit, sugar and acid. More traditionally, they are made with equal parts fruit, sugar and vinegar. My preferred ratio is two parts fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar—I tend to like my shrubs on the fruitier side, so I double the fruit. To make something so simple just slightly more complex, shrubs can be prepared in two ways—hot and cold—and they have infinite flavor combinations.

As for their health benefits, I can’t imagine anything made of four parts, one of which is sugar, to be very healthy. However, drinking vinegar itself has its merits: vinegar helps keep blood sugar levels in check by preventing your body from fully digesting starch. In doing so, your body will have a lower glycemic response to the starch you eat, which may decrease your chances of developing heart disease and diabetes. So, the next time you plan to eat a ton of bread, drink some vinegar first. Drinking vinegar is also considered to be healthful for an assortment of other reasons. But since this isn’t a post about diet (and instead includes recipes for alcoholic drinks), we’ll skip that talk for now.

To make a shrub—the cold way

This method will create a shrub that tastes fresh, light and slightly more acidic because the mixture will not be cooked.

Combine two parts chopped fruit and one part sugar in a large airtight container. Refrigerate the mixture for two days, allowing the fruit to macerate and the juices to release from the fruit. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing as much liquid from the fruit as possible. Transfer the mixture to a large airtight container and add the vinegar. Refrigerate the mixture for one week before using.

To make a shrub—the hot way

This method is quicker, but will deliver a less fruity flavor and be a bit mellower because the mixture will be cooked.

Simply combine all of the ingredients—two parts chopped fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar—in a large pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for three minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain and refrigerate until cold. It can be used immediately.

Flavoring a shrub

When making shrubs, you can use any fruit you’d like. Certain fruits may work better with either the hot or cold method. If you choose a fruit that doesn’t cook well, such as watermelon, consider the cold method. If you choose a fruit that tastes great raw or cooked, such as a pineapple, you can use either method. But if you choose a fruit with a very delicate flavor, such as a pear, consider the hot method to amplify its flavor.

I also love to infuse other flavors into my shrubs. Vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns or any other flavor that infuses easily into a liquid are a great option. Herbs, freshly grated ginger or turmeric root are also knockout alternatives. You should also consider the vinegar you use: distilled, for example, tends to be too acidic. Instead, use cider or rice vinegar for a mellow flavor. And don’t think you need to stick with just those options. White or red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, even a bit of balsamic vinegar make for special shrub combinations. Lastly, you can use any variation of sugar you prefer—give demerara sugar or raw honey a try.

Flavor recommendations

Hot method

  • Quince + star anise + brown sugar + cider vinegar
  • Bing cherries + vanilla bean + dark brown sugar + cider vinegar

Cold method

  • Strawberries + basil + turbinado sugar + champagne vinegar
  • Grapefruit + fresh bay leaf + granulated sugar + honey + rice wine vinegar

You’ve prepared your shrub…what now?

Once you’ve prepared your shrub, you can serve it as a nonalcoholic spritzer—combine equal parts shrub and seltzer, and add more seltzer or shrub to taste. Or, better yet, you can use the shrub as the base for a cocktail. A good rule of thumb is two ounces of shrub, two ounces of your choice of alcohol and two ounces of seltzer. From there you can doctor your cocktail to taste. Don’t forget to garnish either version with some fresh herbs or slices of fresh fruit.

Here is a peach shrub recipe I recently concocted for a mixology demo performed at ICE for Spoon University. For the demo, I lined my tabletop with over a dozen varieties of fresh herbs from our hydroponic garden at ICE and encouraged guests to concoct their own cocktails by choosing herbs to mix into the drink they wanted to try!

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(credit: Caitlin Gunther)

Peach Shrub with Catskills Provisions Honey Whiskey

Servings: makes about four cups shrub (enough for 12 or so servings)

For the shrub

Ingredients:

3 large ripe peaches, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup honey
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  • In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about three minutes.
  • Remove mixture from heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Pass mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and chill until cold.

 

For the cocktail

Ingredients:

2 ounces peach shrub
2 ounces Catskills Provisions Honey Whiskey (or any other brand you prefer—but if using a non-honeyed whiskey, you may want to add a teaspoon of honey or simple syrup)
2 ounces seltzer
Lemon wedges
Fresh herbs, such as lavender, thyme, rosemary or basil

Instructions:

  • In a glass filled with ice, combine the shrub and whiskey and stir. Top with the seltzer.
  • Garnish with a wedge of lemon and fresh herbs.

 

Boozy Blueberry Basil Shrub

Servings: makes about four cups shrub (enough for 12 or so servings)

For the shrub

Ingredients:

3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 bunch basil, leaves torn or roughly chopped

Preparation:

  • In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about three minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from heat, add the torn basil leaves and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and chill until cold.

 

For the cocktail

Ingredients:

2 ounces blueberry shrub
2 ounces gin, Hendrick’s recommended
2 ounces seltzer
Lime wedges
Fresh basil sprigs

Preparation:

  • In a glass filled with ice, combine the shrub and gin and stir. Top with the seltzer.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of fresh basil.

Want to study pastry arts with Chef Jenny? Click here to get more info about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.


By Caitlin Gunther

When the 2016 Olympic Games kick off in Rio tonight, will you be ready? That is, will you have the appropriate Brazil-inspired cocktail in hand? To help you get ready for the festivities, we tapped ICE Director of Beverage Studies and mixology master Anthony Caporale to concoct a pair of cocktails inspired by the host country. With the recipes below, composed largely of Brazilian liquors and indigenous ingredients, you’ll be on your way to gold.

CaipiRio cocktail

CaipiRio
This old-school version of Brazil’s most iconic cocktail, the caipirinha, harkens back to a time when honey was the preferred sweetener.

Ingredients:

  • ½ oz. honey syrup (mix equal parts honey and hot water, cool to room temp before use)
  • ½ lime, cut into four wedges
  • 1 ½ oz. Leblon Cachaça
  • 1 extra lime wedge and sugar cane stalk for garnish
  • Ice cubes

Instructions:

  • In a rocks glass, muddle honey syrup with lime wedges.
  • Fill glass with ice and add Leblon Cachaça.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and sugar cane stalk.

Rum Runner cocktail

Rum Runner
An old favorite with some South American spice added.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. OLO Brazilian spiced rum
  • ½ oz. blackberry brandy
  • ½ oz. banana liqueur
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • ¼ oz. Grenadine
  • Pineapple slice for garnish
  • Ice cubes

Instructions:

  • In a mixing tin half-filled with ice, add rum, brandy, banana liqueur, orange juice and pineapple juice.
  • Shake tin until the outside is frosted.
  • Strain into a tall glass over fresh ice.
  • Drizzle Grenadine over top and garnish with pineapple slice.

Want to learn how the pros mix cocktails? Register today for our upcoming Professional Mixology course!

 

By James Briscione

I’ll spare you the standard “When I was kid…summertime/hot day…watermelon juices dripping down my chin…aww, memories” introduction. Instead, I’ll proudly tell you that watermelon is the first food I ever grew myself. Okay, this might still fall under the category of a “When I was a kid” intro, but bear with me. Nearly 30 years later, I still remember digging a small hole in the sandy lot behind our house in Florida and carefully placing the seeds I had saved from a watermelon that my mom brought home from the supermarket. I also remember the excruciating patience it took seven-year-old me as I watered, watched and waited for that vine to produce my favorite fruit in the world.

Since then, my tastes have not changed. In New York City, I don’t have a backyard for growing watermelons, but you might catch me pushing a stroller down the sidewalk with a watermelon crammed into the seat next to my son (they don’t fit beneath).

While I have been known to simply crack a watermelon open and eat the entire thing with a spoon in a matter of hours, this tactic for watermelon enjoyment ignores the awesome versatility of this summertime staple. If you want to do more with your watermelon than eat it straight off the cutting board in a sloppy mess, read on and we’ll get watermelon into everything on your table, from cocktails to salads.

Watermelon Cocktails

I had you at cocktail, right? Watermelon juice is the perfect mixer for almost every type of drink. In fact, whenever we shake up some watermelon cocktails at home, the kids get their own watermelon mocktails with soda water and a twist of lime. Watermelon juice is incredibly simple to make, but keep in mind that it should be used the same day it was made. The flavor of the juice changes noticeably after just 24 hours. Feel free to make a big batch early in the day and enjoy it that afternoon or evening. If you have any leftover (though I can’t imagine you would), finish it off at breakfast—maybe with a splash of Prosecco!

To make the juice, simply cube or scoop out the watermelon’s pink flesh, making sure to not scoop too close to the rind—the light colored flesh has very little flavor. Toss the watermelon cubes into a blender or food processor and blend on low. Puréeing the fruit at high speed can pulverize seeds making the juice bitter or break down the pulp too much, which could lead to a gritty texture. Once blended, pour through a fine mesh sieve. Mezcal gives this drink a smoky kick and jalapeño adds the spice, but if smoky isn’t your thing, mix it with tequila or vodka.

Pickled Watermelon

With a watermelon cocktail in hand, you might be staring at all the leftover rinds and wondering: what now? Pickles, that’s what. To make watermelon pickles, you need to trim the tough green skin from the rind. A sharp knife is the best way to accomplish this: simply shave down the side of the melon, keeping the white rind. With all the green skin removed, cut the watermelon into slices, then cube them. You’ll want a bit of the pink fruit still on the white rind. From there, make an aromatic pickling liquid and bring the cleaned rinds to a boil to help tenderize them. Then, transfer the rinds and the liquid to clean jars and cool to room temperature before covering with a lid and placing in the refrigerator. Twenty-four hours later, they’re ready to go (plus, they’ll stay good in the fridge for up to one month)! Scratching your head over how to use them? Try out your watermelon pickles with these ideas:

  1. Thai-style salad – Cut pickles into thin slices and toss them with shredded carrots, scallions, sliced cucumbers, peanuts, cilantro and mint. Then dress the mixture with a splash of fish sauce and lime juice. Serve with or without grilled meats.
  2. Straight from the jar – Serve pickles on a platter with cheeses, olives and charcuterie for the perfect summertime cocktail hour nibbles. (Maybe while enjoying a watermelon cocktail?)
  3. With bacon – It’s never a bad decision to add bacon. Wrap the cubes of watermelon pickles in bacon and secure with a toothpick. Then broil or grill to crisp the bacon for a dead-easy hors d’oeuvre.
  4. Taco Tuesday – Thinly sliced or minced watermelon pickles are an awesome topping for tacos—especially grilled shrimp tacos!

Watermelon Relish/Salad

I learned to make this recipe when I was working for Frank Stitt at Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, AL. When Alabama watermelons were at their peak, we would dice them up, add grilled onions, mint, vinegar and olive oil and then spoon it over grilled steak. (Skirt steak is the best option here, IMHO.) It’s a recipe I still make today, beefing up the ingredients a bit to make it equal parts topping and salad (so no meat is required). Go ahead and make it your own by adding even more ingredients: cucumbers, arugula or some cooked and toasted grains could turn this into a full-fledged meal.

Now get out there and show those watermelons some love!

Three Ways to Watermelon:

  1. Spicy, Smoky Mezcal Cocktail
  2. Pickled Watermelon Rinds
  3. Watermelon and Charred Onion Relish

Recipe: Spicy, Smoky Mezcal Cocktail

Ingredients:

1 lime wedge
2 slices jalapeño pepper
1 oz. triple sec
1 1/2 oz. mezcal or tequila
2 ounces fresh watermelon juice (see directions above)
Soda water

Directions:

  1. Place the lime and jalapeño slices in the bottom of a glass; crush with a muddler to release the lime juice and lightly crush the jalapeño.
  2. Add the triple sec, mezcal and stir. Then, stir in the watermelon juice and top with soda water if desired.

Recipe: Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Ingredients:

Rind from one half of a five-pound watermelon (approximately 1 pound)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods

Directions:

  1. Scoop out the melon, leaving about 1/4- to 1/2-inch of pink flesh. (Use the rest of the flesh for the watermelon cocktail or salad recipes!)
  2. Peel off the outer green rind with a knife or vegetable peeler and cut the rind into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Bring the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, ginger, salt and spices to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium 2-quart saucepan. Hold the boil for 60 seconds and then carefully add the watermelon rinds. Return to a boil and turn off the heat. Remove the saucepan from heat and cool mixture for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the pickles to jars. Pour over as much of the pickling juice as possible. Let cool to room temperature and then cover with lids.
  5. Refrigerate overnight and eat within a month. Pickles must stay refrigerated.

Recipe: Watermelon and Charred Onion Relish

Ingredients:

2 cups diced watermelon
1 medium red onion, sliced 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Brush the sliced onions with oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill until charred on both sides. Remove from the grill, let cool and dice.
  2. In a bowl, combine the watermelon, diced grilled onion, mint, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, vinegar and olive oil and mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve alone as a salad or spoon over grilled meat.

Ready to study Culinary Arts with Chef James? Click here for information on ICE’s Culinary Arts program. 

 

It’s one thing to be a good home cook, but how many of us feel comfortable making a great cocktail? For former Food & Wine Editor in Chief Dana Cowin, martinis and other gin cocktails were at the top of the list of techniques she’d like to master, so we teamed her up with ICE Director of Beverage Studies Anthony Caporale.

From shaking to stirring, to handling a jigger and which cubes to choose, Anthony walks Dana through martini basics. From there, the pair switches up Dana’s standard gin & tonic with modern twists on gin cocktail classics.

Click here for a full list of upcoming beverage studies classes at ICE.

By Carly DeFilippo

In ICE’s Culinary Management program, students learn key aspects of the bar business, including how to prevent bar theft or how overly generous bartenders affect your bottom line. Yet many students have never actually worked behind the bar. Each year, the annual Calvados cocktail competition gives these enterprising students an opportunity to train in mixology and challenge their palates. Competing alongside New York’s top bartenders, students have the chance to test drinks from the best in the business. Better yet, the winner of the New York student contest is given the chance to compete in the brand’s international cocktail competition in France. We sat down with this year’s winner, Ilyse Fishman, to learn what inspired her culinary career path and what crafting cocktails first-hand has taught her about the business.

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What motivated your decision to enroll at ICE?

Before I enrolled at ICE, I was actually a corporate lawyer at a large Manhattan law firm. I’ve always been interested in food and restaurants and, whenever I could, I focused my papers in law school about food and restaurant legislation. I would take breaks by reading every food-related blog or book I could get my hands on. So after interning for a restaurateur in North Carolina (just nominated an Outstanding Restaurateur finalist by the James Beard Foundation!) while earning a Law and Entrepreneurship degree, I realized that I just might be able to make this passion a full time career. I began to work at Per Se, where I currently spend my time while not in class at ICE.

As far as why I chose ICE, the Culinary Management program was the best program offered in New York City for my particular interests and needs. After completing the program, I feel confident I will have the background I need in order to reach my culinary goal: opening a restaurant of my own in Washington, D.C. 

What were you hoping to learn by participating in the Calvados competition?

I’ve always appreciated the craftsmanship that goes into craft cocktails and thought that the Calvados competition could be a great chance to learn a few pointers in order to make better drinks myself. I figured that I had nothing to lose by submitting a recipe to the competition! For all of us who participated, ICE Instructor Anthony Caporale has been a fantastic mentor and did an excellent job preparing us for the competition. He ran two group sessions to help us buff up our technical skills and improve our presentations. He also took the time to answer all our questions and was there every step of the way through the competition.

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What was the inspiration for your drink?

Barney Stinson, the character played by Neil Patrick Harris on the television show How I Met Your Mother. Our instructions were to identify someone you think embodies the masculine or feminine ideal and then create a drink inspired by that person. I wanted to have fun with this project and thought that Barney could be a great example of a masculine ideal. At first impression, Barney appears to be a simple, one-dimensional guy who enjoys suits, cigars, laser tag, womanizing, magic and accepting challenges from his friends. As the show progresses, however, Barney reveals a bit more complexity and demonstrates that he has a softer side. The “Wait For It” similarly reveals its complexity the longer you sit with the drink and allow it to open up. Initially, you are likely to identify orange and floral notes from the orange twist and Grand Marnier. As the drink sits, however, the apple from the Calvados comes through. Then, the baking spices from the Carpano Antica, whiskey barrel bitters and clove garnish become apparent. This drink is ultimately a variation on a Manhattan, which felt appropriate as New York City plays a prominent role in How I Met Your Mother.

How was competing in France different than in New York? 

The competition in France literally took place on a much bigger stage, complete with two hosts who interviewed the participants, bright lights, several cameramen, a large audience and a photo shoot of our cocktails.Traveling to the competition with so many ingredients also created logistical challenges, but gave me the chance to improvise and improve with Anthony’s help. We also had a practical exam as part of the competition in France, which tested our knowledge about Calvados. Then there was the language barrier to account for, as many of the organizers and participants spoke exclusively French.

Additionally, I loved the tour of the Calvados distillery and all of the opportunities that we had to interact with Calvados producers and representatives. The ability to conduct a side-by-side taste comparison of a wide array of Calvados gave me a much better understanding of how age and terroir affect its flavor profile, and the opportunity to direct my questions toward the very people who produced that Calvados gave me unique insight into what each brand seeks to achieve.

More generally, I was surprised to learn that the European palate tends to prefer cocktails that are much sweeter than those to which we are accustomed. In the US, we use bitters and acidic fruit juices to create what we consider a more “balanced” flavor profile. In France, many of the winning cocktails in the competition were exceptionally sweet by our standards. So, ironically, while Americans may eat sweeter foods than our European counterparts, our cocktails are decidedly more bitter.

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Ilyse and Anthony Caporale with renowned New York bartender Pamela Wiznitzer.

What has this competition experience, in combination with your ICE education, taught you in regards to your future career?

There are so many wonderfully talented and passionate people in this industry to learn from. You never know who you will meet and what unique experience or perspective they will offer. As a future restaurant owner and operator, both ICE and the competition experience have also taught me the importance of being flexible, expecting the unexpected—and above all else, to have fun with it! Every challenge presented is a potential opportunity.

Wait For It…

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Calvados
  • 1/2 oz Carpano Antica
  • 1/4 oz Dolin Blanc
  • 1/4 Grand Marnier
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
  • 1 orange twist
  • 1 orange twist studded with 3 Cloves
  • Ice

Instructions:

  1. Fill shaker 2/3 full with ice.
  2. Pour the Calvados, Carpano Antica, Dolin Blanc, Grand Marnier and Whiskey Barrel-Aged bitters into the shaker.
  3. Stir.
  4. Strain into a rocks glass.
  5. Rim the glass with an orange twist.
  6. Garnish with a 3 clove studded orange twist.