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.

 

By Grace Reynolds

It’s been a long winter, and most of us have lost our enthusiasm for the snow. To make the last stretch before spring a little more bearable, we asked ICE Chef Instructor Jenny McCoy to share some of her signature snow cocktail recipes. Armed with these recipes, you might actually find yourself eager for the next snowfall.

SnowCocktails

Courtesy of www.drinkinginamerica.com

Cold Toddy

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons mild honey
  • 4 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 cup bourbon, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, frozen
  • 2 cups snow
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

Instructions

  1. Place 1 cinnamon stick in each of four glasses. Pour 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon hot water in each of the glasses, and stir with cinnamon stick until dissolved.
  2. Combine bourbon and lemon juice and stir to combine and divide among glasses. Top with snow and stir with cinnamon stick just to combine. Serve immediately.

 

Easy Margarita

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt, for rimming glass
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, frozen
  • 1 cup tequila blanco (100% agave silver), chilled
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau, chilled
  • 4 cup snow
  • 4 Lime wedges, to garnish

Instructions

  • Dip rim of 4 glasses in water, then dip in salt to rim. Stir lime juice, tequila, and Cointreau in glass top with snow, and stir just to combine. Divide among glasses, garnish with lime wedge, and serve immediately.

 

Strawberry-Mint Daquiri

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 20 large frozen strawberries
  • 2 large sprig mint, stem removed
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice, frozen
  • 8 ounces light rum, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 4 cups snow
  • Mint sprig to garnish

Instructions

  • Combine strawberries, mint leaves, lime juice, rum, and sugar in blender and puree until slushy. Pour into large glass, top with snow, and stir just to combine. Divide among 4 glasses, garnish with mint sprig, Serve immediately.

 

Pina Colada

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
  • 3/4 cup cream of coconut, chilled
  • 1 cup light rum, chilled
  • 4 cups snow
  • 4 fresh pineapple spears, for garnish

Instructions

  • Combine pineapple, cream of coconut, rum, and sugar in blender and puree until slushy. Pour into 4 large glasses, top with snow, and stir just to combine. Garnish with pineapple spear and serve immediately.

 

By Anthony Caporale, School of Culinary Management

The average person can survive about three weeks without food. That same person will die after only three days without water. Our nomadic ancestors might easily have found themselves farther than a three-day trek from the nearest water source. Even today, many people in developing countries must walk an average of almost one hour a day to bring home fresh water.

Special Event Mixology-008

A keen sense of thirst is critical for our survival. This fact, which we all intuitively know, but rarely consider, leads directly to my Beverage Rule of Seven: since we can survive seven times longer without food than without water, beverage service needs to be seven times faster than food service to feel equivalent. For example, a 30-minute wait for food—which will seem interminable to a hungry diner—is equally distressing as a 4-minute wait for drinks. Ironically, with the advent of the mixology movement, our industry seems to have lost sight of just how large drinking looms in our subconscious.

Special Event Mixology-075

My job regularly takes me into the best bars in the world, and while I’m consistently impressed with the cocktails, I’m almost always frustrated by the service times. I recently visited three of New York City’s top cocktail bars one evening (I won’t name names, but all of them were listed in the upper half of The World’s 50 Best Bars), and not once did I receive my drink in less than ten minutes after I placed the order. In food time, that’s equivalent to waiting 70 minutes for your meal. Had I been dining, I’d have been out the door long before then—doubtless followed by the Chef de Cuisine with a fresh boot print on his or her derrière.

Special Event Mixology-083

I tell every new bartender I train what many veteran mixologists seem to have forgotten: bartending is not about making drinks, it’s about serving drinks. All good restaurants have target service times for each course. Fifteen to twenty minutes is common for entrées, and appetizer times are usually under ten minutes. Applying my Beverage Rule of Seven gives a target beverage service time of two to three minutes, which feels comfortable to most guests. Making a great cocktail doesn’t justify pushing that service time to eight, ten, or sometimes even fifteen minutes. Too often, the focus today is on the cocktail and not the guest.

Special Event Mixology-009

Drink recipes need to be created for cocktail menus, not resumes. The best chefs know that even the most sublime dish isn’t worth the menu paper it’s printed on if it can’t be executed in a reasonable time (and I’m talking under real-world conditions, not when there’s only one order in queue). You have to be able to deliver quickly when you’re four-deep and just skirting the weeds, otherwise you’re not making money. Mixologists need to relearn that lesson. No matter how good your cocktail may be, if you can’t consistently put it in the guest’s hands within three minutes, the recipe isn’t finished.

Last night, five ICE students competed head-to-head in the 17th Annual Calvados Nouvelle Vogue International Trophies. Hailing from the Culinary and Hospitality Management programs, the students were given the unique opportunity to train with Anthony Caporale, renown beverage expert and ICE Mixologist and Beverage Instructor.

Craig Joseph, Carol Arciniegas, Anthony Caporale, Edward Dickman, Anthony Causi and Ellen Richards

Craig Joseph, Carol Arciniegas, Anthony Caporale, Edward Dickman, Anthony Causi and Ellen Richards

The competition was held at the Intercontinental New York Hotel’s Barclay Bar, the first Calvados bar in the country, boasting more than thirty types of this traditional French brandy. From cream to chocolate, thai basil to jalapenos, the range of cocktails presented by the students truly demonstrated the spirit’s fruit-driven versatility.

Professionals from the New York Chapter of the US Bartenders’ Guild competed alongside the students, vying for the chance to compete in the Calvados Cocktail finals this April in Normandy, France.

Craig Joseph strains his ginger-inspired Calvados cocktail.

Craig Joseph pours his winning Calvados cocktail.

Culinary Management student Craig Joseph took home the prize with “The Normandy”. We look forward to seeing Craig at the finals in France and congratulate all the competitors on their impressive bartending skills!

"The Normandy"

“The Normandy”

The Normandy

By Craig Joseph

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle:
    2 pieces of fresh peeled Ginger
    1 strip of fresh Orange Zest
    3.5 cl Sweetened Fresh Lemon Juice
    1.5 cl Cherry Bitters
    0.1 cl Cinnamon (powdered)
  2. Fill mixing glass with ice and add 6 cl Calvados.
  3. Shake until the tin is frosted.
  4. Double-strain into a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and peeled ginger slice.

 

By Hillery Wheeler

Anthony Caporale

I’m the type of New Yorker who prides herself on her cocktail knowledge. If you’re looking for a $30 “apple-tini”, I’m not your girl, but when you want a proper martini or require fresh lime juice in your gimlet, I know just the spot. So I was humbled and surprised to attend a holiday mixology class – “Nogs, Flips and Syllabubs” – where I only recognized the name of one of the three drinks.

Apparently, I’m not the only syllabub novice. According to our instructor, Anthony Caporale, these frothy delights have fallen out of favor over the last century. When you learn their origin (the foam traditionally came from adding warm milk – straight from the cow’s udder – to a drink) it should be no surprise that that our sanitation, homogenization and pasteurization obsessed society got a little queasy over creamy cocktails. However, in the today’s mixology movement, nogs, flips and syllabubs are making a comeback.

Frothing egg whites and mixing up some yolks.

Frothing egg whites and “flipping” some yolks.

As with most recipes involving raw protein, here there is an implicit safety plan. The sanitizing agent for the egg is the alcohol itself, which kills any lingering bacteria, making that creamy Sherry Syllabub more than safe to drink. With the frothy consistency of a milkshake, these drinks (despite being associated with cozy winter nights) are typically served cold. That is, unless it’s a “flip”. Much to Caporale’s chagrin, no bars seem to be making flips the traditional way, which is to insert a hot poker fresh directly into a syllabub, causing it to froth so aggressively that it ‘flips’ over the side of the glass.

Anyone who’s hand-beaten egg whites knows modernity has its advantages, but – with a dash of Caporale’s creativity – improving on the past might be the best way to discover a new drink. Cheers!

Maker’s Mark Egg Nog

By Anthony Caporale, as featured on Art of the Drink

Ingredients

12 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 liter Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1 pint heavy cream (very cold)
1 pint milk
fresh nutmeg

Instructions

1) Separate egg whites and yolks into separate bowls.
2) Beat whites to soft peaks.
3) Beat yolks until smooth.
4) Add sugar to yolks and beat until pale yellow.
5) Add 1/2 liter bourbon.
6) Fold egg whites into mixture.
7) In a separate bowl, pour heavy cream and beat to soft peaks.
8) Fold cream into egg mixture.
9) Add pint of milk, stir well to combine.
10) Transfer to punch bowl and garnish with freshly-grated nutmeg.

Have you ever spent the holidays with Galliano, Strega, or Fernet-Branca? I was fortunate enough to have a few drinks with them during ICE’s Italian Holiday Cocktail Party recreational class led by A.J. Rathbun. No, they’re not European philosophers, they’re Italian liqueurs.

A.J., an award-winning food and entertainment writer and poet who often travels in Italy, briefed us with a little background information on Italian liqueurs. Typically semi-bitter and high in alcohol content, the liqueurs are often mixed with other spirits to make refreshing cocktails.

When it was time to mix drinks, we began the evening by making a Sbagliato, a spin on the classic Negroni. It is made with equal parts sweet vermouth and Campari, and topped-off with sparkling wine (A.J. recommends Prosecco, as it’s slightly sweeter than Cava or Champagne) and a slice of orange for garnish. More…