Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bartender's Corner: A look into the beer and spirits industry

[Tequila (book)worm]
Adult beverage education

By Sam Ujvary

Round Up the Usual Suspects

Earlier this week, I stumbled upon one of the greatest casual reads I've encountered in a long time; Of All the Gin Joints: Stumbling through Hollywood History. An omnibus of mini biographies alongside quaint illustrations featuring stars of Old Hollywood, Mark Bailey and Ed Hemingway have really outdone themselves. The appeal of this book comes from each bio boasting stories of respective Hollywood stars while intoxicated.

Enjoying every page of this book, I couldn't help but want to share its pages with readers, starting with the man himself, The Great Profile.
Having famously said, "You can't drown yourself in drink. I've tried; you float," John Barrymore was quite literally the Don Juan of his time. Also known as the greatest actor of his time, Barrymore enjoyed his fare share of overindulgences. Part of the Bundy Drive Boys, Barrymore pursued a life of debauchery with his closest friends when he wasn't starring in films and on the stage. Using his suave demeanor to get out of situations that scotch got him into, the amount of alcohol Barrymore consumed went unmatched. 
Perhaps Barrymore mellowed as he aged, though the stories argue otherwise. For the last two years of his life, he was a permanent guest on the radio show of singer Rudy Vallee. And every day at 4 pm, on his way to the studio, he'd stop at St. Donat's Bar on Sunset and order his favorite drink: a Pimm's Cup. You can't get more civilized. (Of All the Gin Joints; page 9)

Pimm's Cup
2 oz. Pimm's No. 1
3 oz. freshly squeezed lemonade
1 lemon-lime soda
2 cucumber slices
1 mint sprig

Pour Pimm's and lemonade into a chilled highball glass filled with ice. Top off with soda and stir. Garnish with cucumber and mint.

Here's to you.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Share the Gift of Strength with Mercadito

Hunger in America is anything but hidden; threatening the future of America’s youth in overwhelming numbers. It’s a domino affect that starts at the kitchen table and impacts everything from schooling to relationships. Taking action is giving the gift of strength—and with Mercadito, it’s as simple as a taco.

Now in its fourth year, Mercadito’s Taco for Strength campaign is a year-long effort to combat childhood hunger. Chef Patricio Sandoval and 12 acclaimed chefs from around the country join in this fight and offer a signature taco by each chef every month. The October Taco for Strength from Mercadito gives diners the pleasure of Chef Jason Vincent’s—formerly of Chicago’s Pilsen-neighborhood Nightwood—fantastic cuisine. Each month, Sandoval welcomes a renowned chef to support Share Our Strength, and Vincent did not disappoint with his Lamb Carnitas Taco.

"Spring lamb is one thing, but fall lamb is what I really look forward to,” he says. “They've grazed on clover all summer so the fat is aromatic and vegetal, and the meat is perfect for braising."  

The Lamb Carnitas Taco will be available at all Mercadito restaurants (New York, Chicago and Las Vegas) throughout the month of October. 

In 2013, Mercadito sold a grand total of 2,595 Tacos for Strength, raising nearly $2,000 to benefit Share Our Strength. This is the first year that the restaurant has engaged accomplished chefs outside of the restaurants’ markets to create a signature taco. Five percent of the sales from Vincent’s taco will be donated to Share Our Strength. The tacos will be available for dinner (four per order) for $17.50 or for lunch (three per order) for $13.50.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bartender's Corner: A look into the beer and spirits industry


Profiling the leaders of the pack
By Sam Ujvary

Liquid Brunch

Everyone loves brunch—in fact, I don't trust a person who doesn't enjoy a good weekend brunch. It's been known, for some to stay in on a Saturday night, just so they're prepared for Sunday brunch. Bloody Marys, bottomless Mimosas, and bacon. This is what life's all about. I'm always fascinated to find people who have the ability to come up with a seemingly outrageous idea for a new drink that I can enjoy with my cr├Ępes.
Gina DelMonico-Williams love brunch. The Webster Grill bartender has been making cocktails for 20 years, having started in the industry as a short order cook back in Lakewood, Ohio. As she was browsing the aisles at a local liquor store one day, a bottle of Maple and Bacon liqueur caught her eye. And those ingredients are the cornerstones of brunch.
For Delmonico-Williams, as for most of us, bourbon screams autumn, and autumn. With that in mindand the help of her culinary team at Webster's Grillshe decided to fat-wash bourbon with bacon in order to develop a perfect new brunch-themed cocktail. "While we were working with the bacon, our chef, Matt Jost decided to experiment with brisket jus and we found the right mix," she says. "The brisket gave the bourbon that smoky aroma and flavor." 
She decided to take those ingredients to create an approachable bourbon cocktail that everyone would love to drink. Keeping with the bacon theme, breakfast came to mind. They even made the drink look like a plate of bacon and eggs, utilizing shaken egg whites and a lemon peel, with a bacon garnish. 
Whether enjoying the cocktail creation during brunch, with a steak dinner or simply on it's own, the perfectly balanced ingredients leave you with a smooth, salty-yet-sweet finish. Well done, Gina.

How to make: Bacon N Eggs

2 oz Bacon and Brisket Infused Very Old Barton Bourbon
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Maple Syrup
2 T Liquid Egg Whites
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Shake vigorously for 7 seconds, double strain into a coup glass.  Garnish with a swizzle bacon stick and an orange peel.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AllergyEats Conference to Provide Important Solutions for Food Service Professionals

As a restauranteur, chef, or food service professional, food allergy protocols can seem daunting.  How do I improve food allergy procedures? Is there an easy way to modify a recipe to avoid allergens? What policies can I implement to keep guests safer? AllergyEats looks to answer those questions and more at the 2014 AllergyEats Food Allergy Conference for Restaurateurs & Food Service Professionals: How to Maximize Safety and Increase Customer Engagement, Loyalty, and Revenue.  The conference is geared towards restaurant chefs, owners and managers, college and university dining directors, and other food service professionals that strive to become more knowledgeable about accommodating food-allergic and gluten intolerant guests safely, comfortably, and profitably. 

The conference will take place October 1st at the Radisson Martinique in New York City and will feature a roster of prestigious speakers including well-respected restaurateurs that excel at accommodating food-allergic guests; notable food allergy trainers; physicians and allergists; experts in the financials of food allergies, and other specialists in creating allergy-friendly recipes.

These presenters will provide valuable information about accommodating food-allergic and gluten intolerant guests, reducing the fear around food allergies, and building customer loyalty and profits.  They'll also share actionable tips to make restaurants safer for food-allergic diners.

Topics will include Food Allergies in Colleges and Universities; The Financials Around Food Allergies; Food Allergy Basics; Restaurants That Get it Right; Modifying Recipes for the Food-Allergic Diner; and more.

"Our speakers will discuss protocols to improve communication, avoid cross-contamination, create allergen-free meals, and better accommodate guests with dietary restrictions," says Paul Antico, Founder and CEO of AllergyEats, father of three food-allergic children, and passionate food allergy advocate. AllergyEats is a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to allergy-friendly restaurants across the United States. It is a peer-reviewed directory of restaurants—all rated by people with food allergies, for people with food allergies. Their database has more than 600,000 restaurant listings across the U.S., from large chains to small mom and pop shops. With their free, peer-based site and app, users are able and encouraged to find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies.  The site, app and related social media forums help families with food allergies reduce the guesswork surrounding dining out.

Advanced registration for the AllergyEats Conference is required.  Registration is $279 per person, and group discounts are also available. To register and for more information, visit the conference website

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bartenders Corner: A look into the beer and spirits industry

[The Cocktail Chronicles]

A history of cocktail favorites
By Sam Ujvary
The Manhattan Project

It’s one of the oldest cocktails and continues to thrive among Mad Men-lovers and whiskey connoisseurs alike. It’s hailed the King of Vermouth Drinks and is a total power symbol. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s named after one of the most powerful cities in the world, and maybe it’s the fact that great men in history have been known to consume it—either way, the Manhattan has made—and maintained—its mark in our world.
There are stories of where this perfectly balanced mix of sweet and strong originated. The Manhattan Club/Churchill story has been debunked many times over, and the story that seems to stick is the 1860s account in which William F Mulhall, bartender of the famed Hoffman House in Manhattan, recalls a man by the name of Black as coming up with the Big Apple’s namesake drink.
The stirred-not-shaken drink of its kind, the Manhattan is a happily smooth combination of whiskey (or more modernly, bourbon), sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters. In my bartending days, I was once told something that will always stick with me: the way to remember how to make a Manhattan. The area code for a borough in Manhattan is 212. Two parts whiskey or bourbon, one dash of bitters, and two parts sweet vermouth. Pour over ice, stir, and garnish with a Maraschino cherry and poof—you’re automatically refined.

Here’s to you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Registration is now open for the 2015 World Food Travel Summit

This April, Portugal will welcome trade and consumers alike to one of the world’s largest food and drink travel gatherings. The World Food Travel Association (WFTA), a leading authority on food tourism, along with the Portuguese Culinary Tourism and Economics Association (APTECE), the leading organization contributing to the preservation and promotion of Portuguese culinary heritage, have launched their new website and have opened registration for the 2015 World Food Travel Summit & Consumer Expo.

The Summit will take place on April 6-11, 2015 in the coastal resort town of Estoril, just outside Lisbon. This year’s program has been improved upon with the addition of SavorSearch, WFTA’s business-to-business buyer and seller matchmaking appointments. Social activities are structured to help attendees maximize networking opportunities. Additionally, the European Street Food Festival is to take place during the same week, also in Estoril. Finishing the Summit week is the Consumer Food Travel Expo, one of the international world’s only food travel-focused exposition for foodie consumers.

The 2015 speaker roster is full with food travel pioneers and experts, including Matt Goulding from Roads & Kingdoms, who has written extensively about the food travel industry—most notably his TIME article about “Nomanomics”. For more information, check out the Speakers & Sessions page for more information on keynote speeches and discussion panels on the important topics that draw and educate the food and drink travel trade. The Summit is being co-planned by the Association’s Embassy in Portugal, which is offering complimentary two-day Pre-Summit tours that will give delegates the opportunity to experience local Portugal. These pre-tours are hosted by each of the regional destination marketing organizations in Portugal, and all lodging, meals and sightseeing are paid for by each region.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Three's Company

“Memory Makers Who Happen to Be Bakers,” is the phrase the team over at Three Brothers Bakery likes to say of their five-generation-old (hey, you don’t look a day over 20!) bakery. They’re not focused on trends here in the Houston staple, the bakers are doing things the way they were done more than 60 years ago. And it’s working for them.

With a history that traces back to World War II-era Poland, Three Brothers Bakery has been making and baking memories using cherished family recipes that survived even through the Holocaust. The European era of the family bakery ended when Sigmund and Sol (two of the three brothers) were 19 years old, and in 1941,  the family was sent to Nazi concentration camps. On Liberation Day, Sigmund, Sol, Max and their sister were lucky survivors of a reign of brutality. And in May of 1949, after moving to the States, the brothers followed in their roots and opened Three Brothers Bakery in Houston, Texas.

From creative, custom cakes and award-winning pies—we tried a decadent apple pie, but more on that later—to bread, danishes and pastries, Three Brothers stays true to their roots, scratch-baking products daily using high-quality, flavorful ingredients. And although we’re gawking at the sweet American treats like the cakes, cookies and pies, Three Brothers really excels with their European baked goods such as challah, Kaiser rolls, rye bread and more.

But back to the apple pie. Theirs is filled with homemade cinnamon apples and features a beautiful lattice work top that’s sprinkled with crystallized sugar for a delicious, crunchy finish. The flaky crust is super indulgent and buttery, and I will make it a point to stop in for another slice (or two, or just a whole pie) next time I’m in the Lone Star State.

So you can’t make it to Houston? No worries—although they cannot ship obvious sweets like highly decorated cakes and tiered cakes, much of their menu is available to be shipped across the country with over night delivery.