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.

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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.

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. 

 

New Yorkers know a thing or two about happy hour—but how much do they know about the ingredients and techniques behind their favorite drinks? At ICE’s hands-on mixology parties, students dive into the history of the world’s most iconic cocktails and take top shelf bartending skills for a spin.

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Recently, ICE was thrilled to host an exclusive listener cocktail party for fans of NYC radio stations Z100 and Power 105.1. Hosted by Bethany Watson of Z100’s Elvis Duran and The Morning Show and Angela Yee of Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, guests shook up classic Prohibition-era cocktails including the Sazerac, The Bees Knees, Ramos Gin Fizz, Brandy Alexander and more.

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Ready to shake things up at your next event? Whether for corporate team-building, client entertaining or getting to know your loyal listeners, there are endless variations on mixology party themes at ICE:

  • Around the World – cocktails from France, Malaysia, Italy, Brazil and beyond
  • A Formal Affair – featuring the Vesper Martini from Ian Fleming’s very first Bond novel, Casino Royale
  • Tiki Party – fruity, rum-forward drinks that are balanced and not too sweet
  • American Pastime – iconic American cocktails from the 1800s to modern day
  • The Speakeasy – featuring such cocktails as The Bees Knees, The Corpse Reviver #2 and the Sazerac
  • Summertime – refreshing, fizzy and frozen drinks that help you beat the heat

A typical event includes a 30-minute cocktail reception, followed by a 90-minute hands-on lesson in which guests will learn how to make six different drinks. Available for groups ranging from 14 to 125 guests, these cocktail events can be held in any of our spaces, including our state-of-the-art Mixology Center and waterfront Demonstration Kitchen.

Click here for free information about hosting your special event at ICE.

 

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

ICE’s Culinary Management Instructors are seasoned industry professionals who are still active in the industry and working on their own projects while teaching classes at ICE. Here on DICED, two of our Instructors, Julia Heyer and Vin McCann, have regularly been looking at topics and trends in the industry, shedding light on some complicated issues and sharing their in-depth expertise. This week, Julia and Vin are taking off the gloves and putting their own spin on things to watch for 2012 — without holding anything back.

Vin McCann
Julia, let’s kick the New Year off on the right foot, or at least the foot a good portion of the blogosphere kicks off on. Like every columnist, blogger and expert, let’s address trends for 2012… On second thought, forget that! How about a page out of the Jimmy Cannon book of tricks; “Nobody asked me, but…”

Nobody asked me, but the term “foodie’, descriptive of virtually everything and nothing needs to go the way of the pet rock.

N.A.M.B. can the cutting edge, self-appointed experts in the industry please stop trying so hard to create new trends. I don’t need flowers frozen into the ice cubes floating in my drink, or some arcane atomized substance posing as a cocktail.

N.A.M.B. trend identifiers ought to have to put their money where their mouths are when they prognosticate about the future, or, at the very least, publicly own up to their lifetime accuracy percentage. Roulette wheels have more predictable outcomes than restaurant “trend” predictions.

N.A.M.B. sooner or later there has to be an end to the discovery of new, exciting, hitherto unknown vegetables.

N.A.M.B. the endless expert pontificating about the nutritional value of foods is really sapping the fun from food and beverage. Let’s face it — none of us are going to live forever, and 50 is not, nor will it ever be, the new 30.

N.A.M.B. does anybody really believe that in a list of “101 best restaurants” that the author can objectively qualify the difference between number 68 and number 69, or even 89 for that matter?

Julia Heyer
Vin, wow. You seem to have missed my sunny disposition. Let me start by asking you, did your sense of humor drown over New Years? Perhaps eggnog prepared by a “foodie”? May I recommend a bottle of fancy champagne and maybe some scorzonera stew to brighten the mood? It’s a new year, a reset button, and you did ask me, so… More…

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…

The holidays are just around the corner and for me, that means it’s time to obsessively plan festive get-togethers. It’s that time of year when you can never have enough homemade chicken stock and bourbon in the freezer. I consider myself a great cook, but when it comes to alcohol, a gin and tonic is about as creative as I get. I took Anthony Caporale’s Culinary Mixology recreational class last week hoping to add a new trick to my repertoire of party ideas. Now, I’ll be adding something new to my holiday soirées — culinary cocktails.

So what exactly is culinary mixology? It’s the incorporation of herbs, spices, and vegetables into cocktails. After we got a feel for cocktail making with classic culinary cocktails like Bloody Marys and Mint Juleps, we got a little more adventurous with a few goodies from the fridge. Red bell pepper added an amazing kick to a mojito. We charred thyme on a grill pan to add a hint of smokiness to a limoncello and gin cocktail. After hollowing-out a massive pumpkin, we filled it with an apple rum punch — the longer the autumn beverage sits in the pumpkin punch bowl, the more the pumpkin’s flavor infuses the punch. Anthony even showed us how to infuse bourbon with smoky bacon, then added maple syrup and bitters to make PDT’s famous Bacon-Infused Old Fashioned. More…