Tequila was always my “nasty spirit” in college. There was something about drinking tequila than made me want to dance barefoot for hours, preferably on a beach. I stopped drinking it for a long period of time until my former agency started working with Frida Kahlo Tequila, and I was properly educated on true tequila and its breadth of styles. Sipping an añejo or a reposado with a sliver of fresh lime was all I needed to enjoy tequila as a responsible adult. No tutti frutti drinks for me. My tequila style went from naughty to neat.
Tequila is a $2 billion industry, and the U.S. gulps up 80% of global exports. Much of the tequila consumed is “mixto,” a cruder hybrid of the true spirit. But appreciation and sales of real tequila, made from 100 percent pure blue Weber agave is growing muy rapido.
Chantal Martineau, author of “How the Gringos Stole Tequila” (Chicago Review Press) joins us August 26, 2pm EST, on The Connected Table LIVE! to discuss the story of tequila, how it’s made and monitored by Mexico’s Consejo Regulador Tequila, and how it’s been exploited by global marketers. She’ll explain the differences in tequila and its lustier sister, mezcal. Through her descriptive detail Chantal practically takes us in her backpack to meet producers, jimadores and the colorful characters behind this spirit so sacred to both the almighty dollar of big booze brand marketers and the agave activists who fiercely protect its heritage.
Hers was a five year immersion into the world of tequila. Reading Chantal’s book makes me want to book a flight to Jalisco to see the dusty blue agave plants under a piercingly bright blue Mexican sky and soak it all in down to the last chilled shot with fresh lime. Melanie Young
Chantal Martineau has written articles about food, drinks, and travel for numerous publications, including Allure, the Atlantic, Decanter, Edible, Islands, Maxim, Redbook, Saveur, Time Out, Village Voice, the Washington Post, Wine Enthusiast, and Women’s Health. She grew up in Montreal and currently lives in New York City. Connect: www.chantalmartineau.comTwitter@chantytown Facebook:HowtheGringosStoleTequila
When Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez, master blender for Havana Club for 35 years, decided to leave Cuba after the sale of the brand to an international spirits conglomerate, it was to Panama that he went. Already having a long history of travel to that country, and having worked in Panama to make his “Cuban style” rum for many years previously, this was a natural choice for Don Pancho. However, it was not with the idea that he would continue to make rum or launch his own brand.
That came later, after he met and became friends with one of Panama’s most distinguished spirits authorities, Carlos Esquivel, a Panamanian who had deep ties to the local spirits industry. Together, they created one of Panama’s, and the rum industry’s, most important resources: Proveedora Internacional de LIcores, S.A. (PILSA) Rums (www.pilsarums.com) a custom distiller whose efforts are behind some of the most important names in the category.
Now, 20 years after arriving in Panama, Don Pancho and Carlos are releasing his first eponymous effort, Don Pancho Originales rums (www.origenesdonpancho.com), some of which are bottled from reserves dating to when Don Pancho first started making and blending rums in Panama while still living in Cuba.
We met Don Pancho and Carlos Esquivel at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans July 15-19 and tasted both the 8 year ($40/bottle SRP) and the 18 year ($90/bottle SRP). And we learned what makes Cuban rum truly “Cuban”
He’s a Modern Mixologist and creator of numerous signature cocktails featured on bar menus throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. What are the craft and creative process for developing a memorable and perfectly balanced cocktail?
We pose this question to Tony Abou-Ganim (a.k.a. The Modern Mixologist) on The Connected Table LIVE! June 10th. Tony’s amazing career has spanned the heights- from Harry Denton’s Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco- to the lights of Las Vegas working with hotel and resort kingpin, Steve Wynn (Bellagio, Wynn Resorts).
Wherever you go and whenever you order a cocktail on a bar menu, Tony’s hand is probably in the mix.
The Cable Car was created in 1996 as a signature cocktail for the Starlight Room, a stunning nightclub and cocktail lounge atop the historic Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Its name comes from the geographic location of its house of origin … One of the city’s landmark properties, the Sir Francis Drake is located along the world famous Nob Hill cable car tracks, and its Starlight Room is affectionately referred to as the lounge that can be found “between the stars and the cable cars.”
1 ½ ounce Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
¾ ounce Marie Brizard orange Curacao
1 ½ ounce fresh lemon sour *
Directions: In an ice filled mixing glass add Captain Morgan, orange curacao and fresh sour; shake until well blended. Strain into a chilled sugar-cinnamon frosted cocktail glass* and garnish with an orange spiral – (Orange spirals can be easily cut fresh using a citrus zester, also known as a channel knife). Mixing 2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice with one part simple syrup will easily make fresh lemon sour.
Hint: To sugar-cinnamon frost a cocktail glass, first chill the glass, rub the rim’s circumference approximately ¾ inch in depth with a lemon wedge, then dip into a bowl of superfine sugar – (regular granulated sugar does not adhere as well).
Join Melanie and David Wednesdays, 2omET on W4CY for The Connected Table LIVE and anytime on iHeart.com and the iHeart App. Hear from the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality.
When you ask almost any bartender in America who they admire most in the industry, one name tops them all- Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff, aka King Cocktail.Dale is credited with reinventing the bartending profession, setting off a cocktail revival that continues to flourish. Dale’s enormous influence in the bar world has spanned three decades and many crafted cocktails.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Dale when he was making a name for himself behind the bar at New York City’s Rainbow Room when I was working with the late Joe Baum to launch New York Restaurant Week. Dale’s charm was magnetic; his drinks impeccable; his bar moves captivating.
A 2015 inductee into The James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and recipient of the #JBFAward for Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional, Dale is author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail (Random House). He is also a partner in the award-winning bar training program, Beverage Alcohol Resource(BAR) and founding president of theMuseum of the American Cocktail.
Saloon singing and storytelling is another passion of Dale’s. His popular presentation:ON THE TOWN; Bars, Speaks, & Legendary Saloonshas been performed in over two dozen cities around the world. Dale also offers a bourbon & bitters tasting presentation I’LL TAKE MANHATTANS!–an exploration of aromatic bitters.
Speaking of aromatic bitters, Dale now has his own line. Crafted entirely from whole botanicals, without commercial flavorings or artificial dyes, Dale DeGroff’s Aromatic Bitters™enhances cocktails without overpowering.
Dale reminisces about working with Joe Baum and his current role as an educator in this June 3 iHeart segment of The Connected Table LIVE!
Harlem is one of the most historic and iconic neighborhoods in New York City and the world. We’re Harlem bound this week to attend the Harlem Hospitality & Culinary Conference and will catch up with two personalities in the restaurant and bar world.
JJ Johnson, Chef de Cuisine The Cecil Harlem and sister jazz club Mintons, had an awfully good 2014, and 2015 has started out pretty stellar. In 2014 JJ was on both the Forbes and Zagat “30 Under 30” lists, was named an Eater Young Gun, and The Cecil was named Esquire Magazine‘s Restaurant of the Year. This year, StarChefs named JJ the Rising Star for Community. And we are only in February.
JJ’s culinary spark was lit from the expressive Caribbean flavors and influences he learned cooking at his grandmother’s side. From home hearth to classical training, Johnson made the move to the Culinary Institute of America, giving a technical backbone to a well laid foundation of food love. He honed his skills in New York restaurant kitchens including Centro Vinoteca, Jane, and Tribeca Grill. Constantly in search of new flavors, Johnson also spent time in Ghana, studying West African cuisine and cooking at Villa Monticello, Ghana’s Premier Luxury Boutique Hotel and Spa.
Now he helms the kitchens for two of Harlem’s top hospitality which he helped open under the auspices of Restaurateur and Executive Chef and owner, Alexander Smalls. #HarlemontheRise
Charles Hardwick began his bartending career humbly in 1992, at Acme Bar and Grill in New York City. It was here that he quickly grasped the most important fundamentals of the trade; understanding that even Lynchburg Lemonades and Oreo Cookie shots taste much better coming from the hands of a skilled and attentive barman. In those years before the current Cocktail Renaissance, he worked at a wide variety of bars and restaurants in the New York City area, among them such noteworthy venues as: Pravda, Mercer Kitchen and The Odeon.
A turning point in his career came whilst working alongside Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric at Pravda as part of a beverage program created by King Cocktail, Dale DeGroff. From the aesthetics of the bar to the crafting of a well-balanced libation, his vision of Utopia in a glass began to take shape.
In 2006 he reconnected with a former colleague and opened Blue Owl, the first of what would be many resurgent cocktail bars in the East Village. Voted NYC Best Cocktails 2 years running in 2006-2007 along with several features in the New York Times, The Daily News, The New York Post.
Charles has most recently turned his attentions to the drinks program at the New York Times 3 star-reviewed and Michelin Star-rated Betony Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, and he now currently operates drinkmärkt beverage consulting, a company that seeks to further relationships between brands and consumers through spirits consultation and the management of beverage programs for luxury clients including: Stolichnaya Vodka, Hendrick’s Gin, Remy-Martin, Art Basel Miami, Vogue,Interview Magazine, Esquire, Victoria’s Secret, the TriBeCa Film Festival, Diageo and many more. He continues to evangelize on the nobility of the bartending profession and the pursuit of the perfect cocktail, served at the perfect moment.
Join Melanie Young and David Ransom on The Connected Table LIVE! Wednesdays 2pm ET/ 11 am PT on W4CY.com and on demand any time at iHeart.com (under Shows & Personalities). Melanie and David are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple who bring you the dynamic people working front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality.
Aloha! from beautiful Maui where we celebrated the New Year and Melanie’s birthday in Hana on Maui’s lush eastern coast. Given our beautiful setting, we’re featuring two individuals whose lives have been influenced by Hawaii. One is a native Hawaiian who moved to the East Coast where she made her mark in the world of mixology. French-born chef who made his culinary mark in Philadelphia and now runs a restaurant in Maui.
Julie Reiner has been elevating the cocktail scene in NYC for fifteen years, most notably with the opening of the Flatiron Lounge (2003), the Pegu Club (2005), Brooklyn’s Clover Club(2008), and Lani Kai (2010). As co-owner and beverage director of the Flatiron Lounge, Reiner drew much of her inspiration from growing up in Hawaii by utilizing the freshest fruits and premier quality spices & spirits available in her original cocktails. Julie’s beverage program at the Clover Club is highly focused on classics, and furthers her signature style of superior quality and green market ingredients. Lani Kai (recently sold), featured a modern tropical décor, Pacific Rim plates, and a more tropical interpretation of Julie’s cocktail styling. Julie’s consulting company, Mixtress Consulting, helps to create top-notch beverage programs and cocktails for restaurants, bars, resorts, and spirits companies.
Flatiron, Pegu and Clover opened to rave reviews and have enjoyed a top ranking among the best bars in the world. In 2009, Clover Club was honored with the award for “Best New Cocktail Lounge in the World” at Tales of the Cocktail and last year, took home the award for “Best American Cocktail Bar”, “Best High Volume Bar”, and Julie was personally awarded “Best Bar Mentor”. Clover Club has also been listed in Drinks Internationals 50 best bars in the world two years in a row.
Julie’s recipes have been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Food & Wine, Imbibe, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, Playboy, Gourmet Magazine, Food Arts, Bon Appetit, GQ, Fortune, Wine Enthusiast, O Magazine, Crains, Time Out NY and Time Out London, The London Times & Wine & Spirits. Julie has also been featured on The Today Show, The Food Network, the Cooking Channel, Martha Stewart Radio, CNBC, LXTV, and the Fine Living network. In 2011, Julie was honored with a James Beard nomination for spirits professional of the year.
James Beard Award-Winning French Master Chef Philippe Chin is one of early pioneers of fusion cooking refining his skills in some of the world’s best restaurants. While in Washington DC, Philippe was fortunate to cook for President Barack Obama as well as various world leaders on a regular basis. Prior to Washington DC, Philippe was Chef-Owner of the highly acclaimed Chanterelle in Philadelphia where he became known for his eclectic style and ability to marry the indigenous flavors of the region. He now calls the Hawaiian island of Maui his home,
Over looking the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the heart of Lahaina Town, Philippe’s Sugar Cane Hawaiian Contemporary Restaurant and Bar marries the flavors of the islands utilizing fresh line caught fish, Hawaiian Ranchers Beef, Haleakala Vegetables and Herbs found in remote areas of the island.
Born and raised in France, Philippe can trace his culinary influences to being raised in a melting pot household to his Chinese father and his French mother. He graduated L’Ecole Hoteliere de Paris, Rue Mederic and worked in some of France’s finest dining establishments, refining his culinary skills and then became chef de cuisine at Le Santal in Saint Martin (at the time the Caribbean’s only Five Star restaurant).
In 1986 Philippe moved to the United States, where he joined the staff at La Cocotte in West Chester, PA. Three years later he moved to Philadelphia and became embedded in the city’s growing restaurant scene. He opened Founders at the Bellevue Hotel, 210 at the Rittenhouse Hotel, becoming Executive Chef/Owner of the nationally renowned and award-winning Chanterelles restaurant, and then Chef-owner of the acclaimed Philippe on Locust, Chin-Chin, and Philippe Bistro, of which would receive national and local honors and top rankings.
Join Hosts Melanie Young and David Ransom, the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple, each Wednesday, 2pm ET/11am PT on The Connected Table LIVE! Each week we feature the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scene in food, fine beverage and hospitality.
We have another spirited lineup this week from coast to coast Wednesday, October 29, on The Connected Table Live on www.W4CY.com, 2p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
Our first guests are the bartending world’s dynamic duo, Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix, who have built the largest female bartending competition in the USA- and soon the world…. Speed Rack. Along the way Speed Rack has raised over $250,000 for breast cancer charities.
Speed Rack showcases not only the growing number of talented women in mixology while providing for the #1 women’s health issue in the country. One in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer.
The competition judging is based precision, time and accuracy. Contestants compete in timed heats to make rounds of cocktails culled from a list of accepted industry-standard classic recipes in front of a panel of judges and a crowd of spirited supporters.
The U.S. judging world panel includes such cocktail world luminaries as Julie Reiner, Dale DeGroff, Audrey Saunders and David Wondrich with a few noted chefs like Johnny Iuzzini, mixed in. The national winner is crowned Miss Speed Rack USA and received a scholarship to BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource) five day program and industry glory.
Speed Rack’s fourth national tour kicks off in Washington DC November 10 and will travel to eight cities before crowning the Miss Speed Rack national winner at the U.S. Finals taking place in New York June 7. The first international Speed Rack competition will start in Canada in March 2015 followed by Paris in June and concluding in the U.K. next October.
We’ll be switching gears to talk saké in the second half of our show with Steve Vuylsteke, Founder and CEO of SakéOne. A native Oregonian, Steve’s family founded Oak Knoll Winery, one of Oregon’s pioneer wineries, in 1970. Steve has worked tirelessly to promote Oregon craft beverages, working for his family’s winery, as general manager and sales manager for Erath Vineyards and serving on the Oregon Wine Marketing Board and Willamette Valley Wineries Association.
He turned to saké in 1992 founding SakéOne, the only American operated sake brewery focused exclusively on premium sake in Oregon’s wine rich Willamette Valley, and importer of some of Japan’s finest saké. SakéOne has been crafting strictly junmai ginjo quality saké at its state-of-the-art kura (brewery) in Forest Grove, the heart of the Willamette Valley: Oregon’s craft beer-brewing and wine making mecca, since 1998.
In 2010, SakéOne’s Momokawa “Ruby” Junmai Ginjo earned a silver medal at the prestigious U.S. National Sake Appraisal 2010, no small feat for an American producer in a crowd of more than 300 Japanese entrants and a judging panel held to precise Japanese standards.
Shanken News Daily recently reported that “Marketers of top saké brands say the category is now making inroads into the mainstream, while also benefiting from marked expansion in its core Asian restaurant account base.”
We’ll discuss why saké is gaining popularity here in the USA and talk the ins and outs of enjoying saké with Steve. Fun fact: Portland, Oregon boasts the highest per capita consumption of saké in the U.S. A home run market for the state SakéOne calls home.
Melanie and David talk with two spirited women on Wednesday’s edition of The Connected Table LIVE Wednesday, October 15th, 2pm ET/6pmPT W4CY www.W4CY.com.
Our first guest is Lizzie da Trindade-Asher, President of Macchu Pisco, who with her sister, Melanie, have helped share Peru’s national drink with the world. A lawyer by training Lizzie directs the legal, marketing, and importing side of Macchu Pisco and its sister brands, La Diablada and Ñusta Pisco. Melanie oversees production in Peru. Together, Lizzie and Melanie have achieved 30 percent growth annually since founding the company in 2004. “Every day, I am inspired by my sister’s dedication to creating authentic pisco,” says Lizzie, who graduated magna cum laude from Duke University, worked for the 1992 presidential campaign for Bill Clinton, and earned a degree with honors from Harvard Law School.
Their pisco is an un-aged 80 proof clear spirit derived from a single distillation of fresh fermented grape juice (wine). It takes at least 4 bottles of wine to produce one bottle of pisco. It is from this costly process that an elegant spirit is born, one which most closely captures the essence of the grape. According to Lizzie, pisco is traditionally a sipping spirit. Because denomination rules require no additives whatsoever, pisco can be considered organic and thus should not produce a hangover, the mark of a real pisco.
Lizzie and her sister are active in supporting and improving Peruvian working conditions and women’s rights, as well as Latinas in business and education both in Peru and the U.S. Macchu Pisco established a precedent in Peru to support traditionally underpaid farmers by paying fair wages to the women who harvest their grape crops. They also ensure their socioeconomic goals are met from ground to glass by employing a vertical integration model—the only pisco company to hold such credentials—owning and overseeing each step of the production process. They also formed the Asher-Ezra Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to underprivileged Latino children in the Bronx.
Our second guest is Allison Patel, founder and owner of Brenne Single Malt Whisky produced in Cognac region of France. Allison’s professional background combines arts and smarts. As a young girl she was a professional ballerina performing with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. After retiring from the corps de ballet she worked in national sales and marketing for EXHALE Spa, setting and exceeding sales goals.
Her move from the ballet barre world to the cocktail bar world is just another sign of her entrepreneurial spirit. Traveling in France pursuing her passion for good food and drink and blogging about whiskey for pleasure at www.whiskeywoman.com, she discovered a single malt whiskey being produced from grapes in the Cognac region of France. Fond of fine whiskeys from lesser known areas, Alison’s interest was piqued. She researched the potential to import smaller production “world whiskies” to the U.S. eventually establishing an import/export company to focus on this category of distilled spirits.
Brenne (rhymes with men) is produced by a third generation cognac producer who was growing estate barley as well as grapes. The cognac was matured in French Limousin oak barrels imparting a smooth taste and fruit forward notes that captured Allison’s attention. Her talent for persuasion and sales helped Allison strike a deal with the producer who had only producing this special cognac whiskey for the family. Over a three and a half year period she refined the process with the producer finishing the spirit in XO cognac barrels after five – six years aging in the Limousin oak ones. The result is smooth, aromatic, spicy yet mellow and unlike any other whiskey we’ve tasted.
Allison was named one of the Top 10 Women in Whisky by Drinks Business Magazine and awarded Highly Commended in the Icon of Whisky award for Brand Innovator of the Year for 2014.
The Connected Table Live airs live Wednesdays at 2 p.m. ET/11a.m. PT on W4CY Radio http://www.W4CY.com. The show is available on demand at www.iHeartRadio.com and everywhere the iHeartRadio app is available under the Shows & Personalities section.