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The Fussy Bride

Yeah yeah, I know….I haven’t written in a really long time!

Life may have been getting in the way of my blogging, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out and about eating and drinking to my hearts content. Trust me, I definitely have!  There will be posts coming shortly on these places, but bare with me in the next few months.

For those fussy readers who don’t know me personally, I should let you know that I recently got engaged (YAY!) to my Beverage Director fiance who is usually mentioned on here as FutureGreg.

Wedding planning is extremely time consuming, but I am having the most incredible fun with it all.  To keep my readers in the loop, I thought it would be nice to put up the two Punch recipes that we provided at our recent Engagement party.  They were such a success, we intend on having them again at the wedding itself. Greg came up with both recipes, although I take credit for their wonderful names. 🙂

Image from stylemewhimsy.com

Image from stylemewhimsy.com

The Drunken Bride

  • 750ml No.3 Gin
  • 300ml fresh lemon juice
  • 300ml simple syrup
  • 100ml strawberry juice
  • 100ml cucumber juice
  • 200ml soda water

Serve in a Punch bowl over large ice cube.

Serves approx 14. Double ingredients (like we did) to serve more, obviously!

This punch was a HUGE success at the party. It’s refreshing, fruity and delightful as a summer drink. Greg made this on the sweeter side for me, and was designed with the girls in mind. Beautifully balanced and reminded me of a Strawberry lemonade. Easy to drink and even easier to get tipsy on!

Oaxocan Down the Aisle

  • 750ml Yorkshire Tea infused Mezcal Ilegal    (20 minute cold brew with 4 tea bags)
  • 300ml lemon juice
  • 300ml runny honey (2parts colver honey: 1 part filtered water)

Served over large ice cube. Serves 14

For those who don’t understand the humor in this name, Oaxacan is pronounced (wa-ha-ken) and is the name of the people from Oaxaca, Mexico.  It was created to pair my ‘British side’ (the English Tea infusion) with Greg’s Mexican side (Mezcal). 

Yorkshire Tea Bags +ilegal_mezcal_joven

This Punch was deliciously smoky with an interesting twist from the yorkshire tea, that I felt gave an almost creamy element to the drink and softened the Mezcal. I originally didn’t think the flavor pairings would work when FutureGreg suggested it, but it came out perfectly. Really delicious and original flavors.

Anyway, that’s all for now! Here is a photo of us at our Engagement party with delicious Sprinkles cupcakes.

Sprinkles

Enjoy!

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Drink of the Week

The Fussy One Cocktail

The Fussy One

  • 2oz Rum Blanco
  • 3/4oz Lime Juice
  • 3/4oz Vanilla syrup
  • 3/4oz Fresh Beet juice

Garnish: Lime wheel

Next week sees some big achievements for me. On Monday 28th January I will have been living in the States for 5 years…then on 30th January I will be celebrating my 1st ‘Bloggerversary’.  Yep, this little blog will be one year old on Wednesday!

The above drink recipe was created lovingly by my Beverage consultant boyfriend Greg Bryson, as a nod to me…and my fussiness! This drink is nothing short of delicious, and perfectly fits my personality.  The use of beet juice gives it an almost healthy taste and vegetive flavors, for some reason the beet reminds me of carrots at times too.  When Greg first met me (read about me) I would never have eaten a vegetable by choice, so incorporating it in a drink with my namesake is pretty smart and somewhat amusing.

This drink has everything I love combined. It has Rum as the base (my favorite), it’s Sweet, Strong, Pink, Fruity and Girly. (Add a dash of crazy and it would be describing my personality!)

In essence this drink could be described as a Vanilla Beet Daiquiri, but I prefer to call it by it’s new name… “The Fussy One” 🙂

Head on down to Greg’s new Venice location of Hostaria Del Piccolo on Wednesday for a drink to celebrate. Greg will be making this recipe as well as loads of his other creations, it’s going to be a fun night.

A big thanks to all my readers, keep following and commenting. I love your suggestions and feedback!

Here’s to many more years of eating, drinking and blogging…

The Fussy One xx

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Drink of the Week

Negroni

  • 1oz Gin
  • 1oz Italian Sweet Vermouth
  • 1oz Campari

Garnish: Orange peel

Shake and strain over ice.

Today is my boyfriend FutureGregs (FG) birthday, so it only seemed fitting that I put up one of his all time favorite drinks.  The Negroni cocktail is made of equal parts gin, vermouth (Italian, semi-sweet), and bitters, traditionally Campari. It is considered an apéritif and has a bitter sweet flavor profile.

I admit, this is not a personal favorite of mine, in fact it’s quite the contrary!  This is a very strong and particularly bitter drink, one that I feel you really have to become acustomed to.  FG loves the bitterness of any amaro (after dinner digestif) in a drink, so this is a great option for him. He often chooses to use Cynar (an Italian bitter apéritif liqueur made from herbs, plants and artichoke) instead of the traditional Campari, which I believe makes it taste even more bitter!

The Negroni has, like many cocktails, an often disputed history.  The most common belief is that it was created and named after Count Cammillo Negroni in 1919 when he ordered an Americano with gin at Cafe Casoni in Florence, Italy.  When discussing this with FG he did point out that there are other accounts that suggest this was already another drink, however Count Negroni was the one who made it famous and therefore has his name attached to it.

Whatever it’s origins, this is a good option before or after a meal as the bitters have medicinal qualities that will help settle your stomach.

PARTY PEOPLE

By the way, for those of you who know and love my boyfriend, we will be celebrating tonight (23rd August) at Bagatelle in Hollywood.  The theme is ‘Black and White’, so make sure you come in those colors and dress to impress!  There will be a punch bowl, a Dj, many beautiful women, lots of handsome men and a special priced drinks list for those prepared to celebrate with us.  Come on down at 9pm. We’ll be there til 2am…or until Greg passes out!

Ps. For those of you who don’t know my boyfriend, please note he is actually a very attractive and intelligent man…not the dumbfounded gormless creature I have portrayed him as on this invite. I simply chose this photo because it is so damn funny! Happy Birthday my darling! xxx

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Drink of the Week

French 75

  • 1 1/2oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • Fill with Champagne

Garnish: Lemon Twist

Today I found myself celebrating Bastille Day at Bagatelle in Hollywood.  Bastille Day is the name given in English-speaking countries to ‘French National Day’ which is celebrated on the 14th of July each year.

In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale and commemorates the storming of Bastille Fortress-prison on 14 July 1789.  The act of storming Bastille was seen as the uprising of the modern nation during the French Revolution and has been celebrated every year in France on the Anniversary of the event, since 1790.

They had created quite a party at Bagatelle.  Girls were dancing on table tops, French flags where flying everywhere and champagne was flowing heavily!

Zach gets in to character!

Zach Patterson (Head barman) had made an interesting version of the French 75 for the party and used ‘Lavender honey’ instead of simple syrup, which added an interesting floral note to the drink.

Both recipes (Zachs and the original above) are very similar in taste.  They’re both refreshing, bubbly, sweet and slightly citric drinks. Great options for Summer and a nice alternative to plain champagne for celebrations.

If you feel like getting in on some French action yourself this evening, have a go making the above recipe at home or head in to Bar Chloe in Santa Monica where they’ll be making them all night (for those who know to ask!)

Oui, Oui… ont une bonne soirée!

 (Yes, Yes… Have a good evening!)

Happy Bastille Day!

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Drink of the Week

Blueberry Thyme

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • 6 Blueberries
  • 2 sprigs of thyme

Garnish: Thyme Sprig floating on top

Muddle the blueberries and thyme in a glass, add the rest of the ingredients then shake in ice and strain in to a cocktail glass.

This drink was created by Greg Bryson, the new Beverage Director at Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica.  I tried it last week and found it to be absolutely delicious and perfect for the summer.  It is refreshing, sweet and has a gorgeous pink hue from the muddled blueberries.  The thyme gives an interesting scent and flavor to the drink without overpowering it.

I highly recommend heading in to Hostaria Del Piccolo (review coming soon) where you can get this and many other fresh ingredient concoctions on their new summer menu.  On week days you can have it made by Greg himself. Enjoy!

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Rookie moves to avoid at Tales!

In 2011 my boyfriend FutureGreg and I went to Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) in New Orleans, Louisiana. We had heard about it, read about it and finally decided to see it for ourselves.

This has to be the best cocktail convention in the World.  Thousands of the most influential and talented members of the cocktail community from all across the globe meet in the sticky heat of New Orleans and spend 5 days experiencing Tastings, Seminars, Parties and Competitions.

Having never been before we really didn’t know what to expect, so we jumped in head first.  By the time we came up for air it was Sunday and we were leaving in a taxi to the airport, looking at a sign (below) and wondering ‘What the hell just happened?!’

Tales happened.

Our good friend Giovanni Martinez arrived a day after we did, took one look at my drunk boyfriend and said: “Oh my God, you guys are screwed.”

I proceeded to ask him “Why?”, to which he explained how getting drunk that early was a “Rookie move we would regret”

And so began my list of things to avoid.  This year is the 10 year anniversary of TOTC and there will be even more people heading out to Louisiana and many more newbies.  Here is the best I can think of to prepare for the trip. I suggest you heed my warning if you want to enjoy your time…

(All the photos in this post were taken from our trip to Tales of the Cocktail 2011)

Rookie move: Drink everything you see

Solution: Never finish the drink your holding!

This is a big one, you’re going to be tasting some of the best spirits and cocktail/mixed drinks in the World. If you finished every drink offered, you would die.  I’m serious.

The number of full glasses I had to put down was so upsetting but a friend reminded me that I was supposed to be tasting the drinks also, so think of it as similar to a wine tasting. Obviously you can drink some of your favorites, but pace yourself.   On our first visit we were wasted by 2pm on day one and struggled to get through the week…this year we know better.

Rookie Move: Play all day, Dance all night

Solution: Get some sleep, if only for an hour.

The events on offer are immense and run from 9am to 2am daily with a variety of after parties, after after parties and 5am meet ups at Absinthe house! You will often find yourself thinking ‘When the hell can I go to bed?!’ However take in to account that a lot of the events (especially tastings and seminars) are repeated throughout the week.  Listen to your body, when you feel you need to crash, do it.

Rookie Move: Who needs water, give me Gin.

Solution: Drink NON-Alcoholic drinks too

It is hot as hell in New Orleans during July so make sure you have a bottle of water or pedialyte close by to keep you refreshed. Coconut water was the beverage of choice last year.

All the alcohol will dehydrate you, add that to the sticky heat and it creates a pretty dangerous environment for your body if you don’t take it seriously. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

Rookie Move: “It’s weird how i’m not hungry”

Solution: For Gods sake, eat something!

I don’t remember much of Tales 2011, and even less about the food.  Some events will have snacks to nibble on but these aren’t exactly a meal so don’t rely on them alone.  There are some great restaurants and places to grab a Po-boy or grits in New Orleans so make an effort to head there.

The beignets at Cafe Du Monde are a definite must. We ate them daily! People always say ‘Don’t drink on an empty stomach’ so as you’ll be constantly drinking it makes sense that you should make time to go eat something decent.

Rookie Move: 3am and your missing. Again.

Before we lost Dane…                                After we found him…

   

Solution: Charge your phone & Keep it close

I can’t tell you how many times we lost people who stumbled off, particularly our friend Dane (pictured above).  You may not be back in your hotel room very often, but try if you can to charge your phone between outings.  Yes the French Quarter is pretty safe, but this is still a big city and has big city dangers.

You will meet lots of new people, exchange plenty of business cards but it’s always safe to be able to contact your friends (or the police!) so keep your phone charged and easily accessible. Having a means of contact will also mean you can find out about the next secret party location…there are several!

Rookie Move: Do something crazy!

Solution: What happens in Tales… Goes on Facebook!

This isn’t Vegas, there are no ‘codes of conduct’ or rules of what can and cannot be written about.  If you talk to a blogger/journalist be sure to say the words ‘Off the record’ when divulging company secrets!

If I learnt anything about last year it’s that the photos taken (however terrible) end up on all the public forums. Bloggers, friends and work colleagues will happily tweet about your projectile vomit episode or instagram a snap of you with way too little clothing on, so be prepared for that to happen.

And if you’re the person taking the photos, try not to put the worst ones up…some of these men have wives back home!!! In all seriousness think before you do something you might regret and if you’re too drunk to think? Well, screw it. Don’t be mad at the person who found your behavior funny enough to post.

Tales 2012 runs from 24th July to 29th July this year. FutureGreg and I will be there again, hopefully no longer making these classic rookie moves.

Just so you know, this year there are many great Los Angeles bars, bartenders and writers up for nomination. The LA bars nominated are Harvard & Stone, La Descarga, The Varnish and Spare Room. It’s a really great time to represent LA and I wish everyone the best of luck in their category.  For those of you coming with us, see you in NOLA!

For more information on seminars, tickets etc head to their website www.TalesoftheCocktail.com.  I will be blogging and tweeting throughout the week so be sure to follow me on twitter @TheFussyOne1, on Instagram TheFussyOne and my boyfriend too @FutureGreg

See you in New Orleans…

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Drinks fit for a Queen!

umm…No. Not that Queen.

That’s Better… I give you, Queen Elizabeth II

This week-end the Brits, Aussies and Canadians, (and many others) will be celebrating the Queens Diamond Jubilee.  Several people (mainly my American friends) have asked me in the last few days what this actually means…so for those who don’t know, let me enlighten you.

On June 2nd 2012 it will be 6o years (yes, you heard correctly…60 years!!!) since Queen Elizabeth II took over the throne.  This is a huge accomplishment and quite a rare feat, her reign is actually the second-longest for a British monarch; only Queen Victoria has reigned longer (so far).  Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne at age 25 after the death of her father, King George VI and was crowned as Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Other Realms and Territories on June 2, 1953 in the first televised Coronation service.

Sticking to my websites theme of Mixology and recipe history, I thought it would be a nice idea to put up some drink ideas to mark this momentous occasion.  There are many parties that will be going on throughout the World this week-end, and I know my family and friends in the UK will be relying on me to give some drink suggestions…so here we go.

Photo Credit: spiritedentertaining.com

Diamond Fizz

  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Powdered sugar
  • Fill with Chilled Champagne

Shake and strain ingredients in to a highball glass with ice, then fill with Champagne.

This drink works for two reasons, it has the perfect name to match the Diamond Jubilee year and it has champagne in it, which is the classic celebration tipple of choice!

Also known as a Champagne Fizz, this drink is similar to the classic Gin Fizz although it uses Champagne rather than soda water.  It follows the fizz characteristic of being served over ice, which is unusual for a champagne beverage.

The first printed reference to a fizz (spelled “fiz”) is in the 1887 edition of Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide, which contains six fizz recipes including the Ramos Gin Fizz (A great Ramos Gin Punch Recipe can be found by clicking here.) The above recipe makes for a nice and refreshing celebratory drink.

The Coronation Cocktail

  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 oz applejack or apple brandy
  • dash of apricot brandy

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

There couldn’t be a more fitting drink name for this occasion than The Coronation Cocktail.  There are a few variations out there with the same name, however this is the one I found to be the most ‘Classic’ in it’s history as it comes from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book by A.S. Crockett published in 1935.  

It is a vermouth drink from the old days of bartending and really simple to make. It won’t appeal to everyone, but for those who like a strong ‘stiff upper lip’ kind of drink, this is the one to choose.  It does have some sweetness from the apple brandy and a friend mentioned that a dash of peach bitters works well in it also.

Photo Credit: Telegraph

Jubilee Punch

  • 35ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 25ml home-made grapefruit-orange sherbet (see below)
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 10ml Orgeat syrup
  • 30ml Earl Grey tea
  • Champagne to top up

Combine the ingredients and shake over ice, top up with champagne.

The grapefruit-orange sherbet is made by mixing 200g sugar, 100ml pink grapefruit juice, the zest of an orange and a grapefruit, then simmering until the sugar is dissolved. Double strain and allow to cool completely.

Please note: This recipe provides the British measurement of ml, if you wish to have the recipe in US oz feel free to message me and I will give you the alternative.

This is clearly a complicated recipe to create at home but I wanted to include it because it’s creator is Erik Lorincz, head barman at America Bar at The Savoy Hotel in London.

When I was last back home in the UK, my boyfriend and I went to America Bar and had a wonderful experience. The drinks were balanced, the staff were knowledgable and the place itself was simply, beautiful.  The bartenders all wear suits there, the glassware is made of crystal and the overall feel of the place is classic, formal and elegant. I read that it was at The Savoy Hotel that Princess Elizabeth (before she was Queen), was first seen in public with Prince Philip in 1946. That summer, Prince Philip asked King George VI’s permission to marry his daughter. They married later that year…  isn’t history interesting!?

Photo Credit: Beefeater Gin

Beefeater Garden Party Punch

  • 3 parts Beefeater London Dry Gin
  • 3 parts sparkling English wine
  • 2 parts good quality pressed pear or apple juice
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 part elderflower cordial
  • 1/2 part sugar syrup
Garnish: Pear and apple slices.
 
Serve in a punch bowl over a large ice block

This last recipe is one I came across when googling the term ‘Jubilee drink ideas’.  I found out that Beefeater Gin has teamed up with mixologists Nick Strangeway and Dre Masso to create cocktails and punches to celebrate the Queen and her jubilee milestone.

This recipe looks the best to me and although I have not yet tried it, I think it sounds tasty and is the one I plan to make this coming week-end.  I love Elderflower in any drink with apple, so I think this recipe will have a very fresh and floral quality that is reminiscent of England.  Yet another drink ideal for the occasion and a punch is always a great option for large parties.

To all my fellow Brits who plan to celebrate this week-end, to my Fussy One followers and to everyone who plans to try one of the above cocktails… Enjoy, Be safe,  and as we say in England… Bottoms Up! 🙂

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Drink of the Week

Mom-Mosa

1 1/2 oz Gin
2 Strawberries
3/4oz Lemon Juice
3/4oz Simple Syrup
 
Muddle Strawberries then add the Gin, Lemon juice and Simple Syrup to tin, shake and double strain in to a Champagne flute (or in my case, a coupe)
 
Fill with Champagne
 
Garnish: A Strawberry half
 

Mothering Sunday has already been and gone for England and Ireland (back in March), but here in the USA it is finally Mothers Day today.  Jeffrey Lee Clark a barman at Bar Chloe in Santa Monica came up with this concoction last night and I thought it was a fun and cute way to celebrate all the mums and moms out there!

It is a light, fruity and refreshing champagne drink, easy to make and a nice alternative to the classic Mimosa.  Enjoy!

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Drink of the Week

Ramos Milk Punch

1 bottle of Gin (750ml)
200ml Fresh lemon juice
175ml Fresh Lime juice
375ml Simple Syrup
150ml Heavy Cream
1/2 oz Orange Blossom Water
1 tsp Vanilla extract
500ml Soda Water

Garnish: Grated nutmeg

Serve in a punch bowl over a large Ice Cube, and ladle in to punch cups.

When sitting out in the gorgeous Spring sunshine yesterday with friends and family, I asked my boyfriend (known in the alcohol World as FutureGreg) if he could make drinks for everyone.  Having just booked our tickets to Tales of the Cocktail in Louisiana, we decided he should make a ‘New Orleans’ style drink, and The Ramos Gin Fizz was suggested.  Seeing as there was a larger group of people over for Easter/Passover celebrations, he decided to make a punch bowl instead.

The Milk Punch he created was deliciously creamy and extremely refreshing, it had an ice cream soda/creamsicle flavor to it and was sweet but balanced. It is almost identical (minus the egg white) to the Ramos Gin Fizz recipe, which dates back to 1888 when Henry C. Ramos created the drink (originally referred to as the ‘New Orleans Fizz’) at Imperial Cabinet Saloon, NOLA.  They both have a very similar taste however the lack of egg white in the Milk Punch makes it lighter in consistency and I think slightly easier to drink.

The above recipe is a great option for parties, as the quantity serves approximately 10 people.  If you have an event coming up, this is a pretty easy punch to create and a great option for summer. Enjoy!

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LA Ink (without the tattoos!)


Ink
8360 melrose ave.
los angeles, CA 90069
(323) 651-5866
.

I came here with FutureGreg (FG) last week and sat at the bar on quite possibly the most comfortable bar stools in all of Los Angeles.  Finally a place with cushioned seating at the bar, Hooray!

Brittini Rae (Previously of The Tar Pit and Fig & Olive) was our wonderful bartender and got us started with a couple of interesting drinks.  The menu items for both food and drink don’t technically have names here, so you order by the first ingredient which is highlighted in bold.

Drinks

I had the ‘Gin’ drink and FG had the ‘Campari’ drink.  My drink included an ingredient called ‘Strawberry Shrub’ which Brittini described as a syrup made by steeping strawberries in sherry vinegar and sage. The drink was served in a collins glass with a nice long ‘Ice Spear’, it was a little sweet, a little sour with a bitter finish.  The vinegar made me salivate and came through pretty heavily at the end of each sip, but I personally liked the sensation.

Gin, Strawberry Shrub, Vermouth, Prosecco $13

The Campari drink wasn’t to my tastes but FG enjoyed the bitterness and said the Campari mixed with passionfruit tasted more like grapefruit juice and was delicious.  The aroma on the drink was great but lost slightly in the tall collins glass.

Campari, tequila, passion fruit, absinthe $13

The other bartender Nate was playing with some flavor profiles and cocktail ideas and was nice enough to give us a taste of his latest creation.  It was very good.

Buffalo Trace, Cinnamon Syrup, St Elizabeth All Spice Dram, Lemon Juice and the Strawberry Shrub.  It was a great little drink and the favorite of the three we tried, hopefully they will add it to the menu in due course.

The restaurant itself was attractive and modern, with clean lines and an intriguing curvy shaped ceiling design.  The light fixtures intrigued me and the triangular bar was funky and different.

Chef Michael Voltaggio is the man behind Ink and was the Executive Chef for José Andrés The Bazaar at SLS Hotel (one of my all time favorite restaurants).  The Bazaar is one of the most interesting restaurants, both aesthetically and ingredients wise that I have ever been to.

Voltaggio has clearly brought over some of these elements which were particularly apparant to me in the dessert.  The chocolate dish was reminiscent of one we had at SLS on our last visit.  Voltaggio is most recently famous for his appearance on Season 6 of Top Chef with his brother Chef Bryan Voltaggio.  You can read more about them both by clicking here or read their book ‘VOLT/Ink: Recipes, Stories, Brothers’ which is about both the Voltaggio brothers restaurants and includes some wonderful photographs and recipes.

Dinner

To me this restaurant is the epitome of unusual and innovative dishes.  There were many ingredients on the menu that I had either never heard of, or would never have imagined trying.  For example; Cardamom Soil, Fennel pollen, Almond-bonito sand, Oyster Leaf, Lamb Neck Gravy and Octopus Ink Shells!

The main thing I’ve learnt from writing this blog is the ability to take a step back and try items that scare me.  I admit, I didn’t go so far as to order the ‘Pig Ears’, but I am learning to trust the Chefs and bartenders/mixologists in what they choose to include on their menus.  So far I have been truly amazed how many new dishes and drinks i’ve enjoyed.

We ordered two entrees, the Pork belly and the Wagyu beef.  My pork was cooked beautifully and was covered with crackling (which is technically crispy fat and doesn’t sound appealing, but was very flavorful and perfectly crunchy).  The dish came with baby leek and one long pasta tube described as ‘Mac and Cheese’, my only complaint is the portion size of the Mac and Cheese. I could have done with at least three of those cheesy tunnels. They were so delicious.

The richness of the pork belly and the cheesy pasta definitely competed with each other as strong flavors, but ultimately the crackling and drops of ‘charcoal oil’ (which added a smoky element to the dish) won.  Overall it was very very good and I highly recommend it.

Pork Belly, Charcoal Oil, BBQ Flavor, Macaroni and Cheese $22

FG really enjoyed his Wagyu beef dish and described the Tendon as being “similar to a slim jim but less salty”.  He said the beef was succulent but the sauce tasted a little too meaty like ‘Salisbury steak meat’ which wasn’t what he expected and didn’t do the beef justice. The crispy rice cakes and the Horseradish tofu were interesting though and complimented the meat nicely.   Overall he enjoyed the dish and finished it quickly.

Wagyu Beef, Carrots, Tendon, Horseradish tofu $24

Pastry

The Chocolate reminded me of a dish at ‘Bazaar’.  Rich chocolate in shavings, crisps and logs of decadent truffle were on the plate. There were cookie crumbles, sesame cake crisps (amazing) and dense pudding pieces, also a spiced tofu which was really strange but helped balance out all the flavors.  It was a very rich plateful and I couldn’t have eaten it without help.

    

Chocolate, Ice Cream, Spiced tofu, Sesame Cake $10

Apple, Caramel, Burnt Wood ice cream $10

Brittini forced us (nicely) to try the Apple dessert, and i’m so glad she did.  It was exquisite.  The texture was creamy, and had almost like a caramel pot de creme texture.  There were little apple balls and a meringue like ‘Burnt wood ice cream’ on top.  Very interesting and tasty dish.

I am giving Ink:

 4 out of platters

Overall I felt the dishes were executed nicely, presented beautifully and tasted great.  I noticed that every dish we tried utilized different textures as well which I found interesting. There were crunchy, soft, chewy and creamy elements on each plate which made for a real sensory experience.   The menu was certainly diverse, but I feel it may be a little too unusual for some (fussy ones in particular!).

Drinks get 3.5 out of 5 coupes

The drink choices were not as diverse as the food options but I liked the one I had.  The Strawberry shrub was certainly something new, and although I enjoyed my Gin drink I didn’t actually finish it (which is rare for me) because the vinegar flavor became a little too overpowering by the end.  FG enjoyed his, although anything with absinthe isn’t my favorite.  The drink Nate made as a test was excellent, but seeing as it’s not on the menu yet I can’t really include it when factoring the rating, I would give 4 out of 5 if it was.

The restaurant was attractive, the vibe was modern and there were plenty of other great looking drinks and food options on the menu that I didn’t get to try. I will be sure to return in the near future.

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Drink of the Week

French Martini

  • 2oz Premium Vodka
  • 1/2oz Chambord
  • 1 1/2oz Pineapple juice

Garnish: Lemon twist

I really enjoy this drink, even though I don’t often like to promote Vodka as a base.  It’s girly, sweet and fruity.  It’s also really easy to order because almost every place can make it, be it a “Dive” Bar or Mixology Lounge.  The above recipe was created by Dale Degroff (AKA King Cocktail).  Degroff is the founder of ‘The Museum of the American Cocktail’, the first museum in the World dedicated to preserving the history of American Mixology, he is an author and was a notable bartender for ‘The Rainbow Room’ in NYC.

There is some debate as to the name of this drink, as many traditionalists say the drink is not a Martini at all. By definition (dating back to pre-prohibition) a Martini consists of ‘Gin and Vermouth’ with an olive or lemon twist for garnish.  Nowadays, many drinks contain the name ‘Martini’ or have a ‘Tini’ suffix e.g.”Vodka-Tini’ and refer mainly to the conical stemmed glass (Martini glass) they’re served in.

Why Dale Degroff decided to call this a Martini i’m not sure and it’s a difficult debate to get involved in, so all i’m going to say is the drink itself is extremely tasty, goes down easy (sometimes a little too easy so be careful, you barely taste the alcohol) and is hard for anyone to mess up.

My boyfriend (FutureGreg) changes the recipe when making this drink for me and often uses Gin, and Creme de Cassis instead. The flavors are slightly more complex in his variation and I find the Creme de Cassis is not as sugary as Chambord, although to be honest either will work fine.  Chambord is a French liqueur that dates back to the late 17th Century, it is made from red and black Raspberries, Vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, Honey and Cognac. Creme de Cassis is made from black currants and is just as sweet as Chambord but has a slight tartness too.

Give this drink a try, if you have a sweet tooth like myself you’ll undoubtedly add it to your list of favorites.

Please Note: When I say ‘Purist’ or ‘Traditionalist’ on my blog I am referring to those who insist that a Cocktail or Martini should be made according to the first definition and deviant varieties should be referred to by different names.

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Cocktails to cure your ‘Oscars fever!’

As you probably know it is award season here in Los Angeles, so I thought what better way to celebrate the 84th Academy Awards this Sunday 26th February 2012 than learning about a couple of ‘Hollywood Classics’ (Cocktails that is).

In the 1930s when the likes of Ginger Rogers and Clark Gable walked the red carpet, there were a couple of drinks created here in this starry eyed city that deserve a mention.

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Embassy Cocktail
  • 3/4 oz Brandy
  • 3/4 oz Jamaican rum
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • dash Angostura bitters

Garnish: Lime wedge

Shake in ice and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

This cocktail from the 1930’s was featured at the late ‘Embassy Club’ in Hollywood.  Adolph “Eddie” Brandstatter owned a number of Hollywood hotspots in this era, including the Café Montmartre which was hugely popular with the movie stars of the day.  When the stars complained about the hoards of fans bothering them (people would swarm around the entrance and stare at the patrons eating!) Eddie had the idea to knock a passageway from his place in to a newly constructed building next door and this new space became the exclusive Embassy Club.

It was a speakeasy styled private venue that ‘Old Hollywood’ movie stars could go to escape from the crowds.  Membership was restricted to Brandstatter’s closest friends which included many stars of the time including Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Jean Harlow and Howard Hughes.

Sadly, the move turned out to be a disaster for Brandstatter because the Café Montmartre lost it’s appeal. The public didn’t want to go there if they couldn’t see Hollywoods royalty.  In order to try and save his businesses he opened Embassy Club to the public but this in turn meant the movie stars stopped going and Brandstatter ended up losing both businesses and filing for bankruptcy. While it was around it is said to have been a beautiful location with a rooftop promenade and glass enclosed lounge with views of the Hollywood hills.

This drink has a great balance of sweet, sour and bitter.  I tried it for the first time this week-end and found it to be really quite delicious.  The Embassy Cocktail is currently a special on the board at Sadie, in Hollywood and will be available to order throughout this award season.

Classic Martini (Also known as the Bradford, Brighton or Gold Cocktail)

  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth

Garnish: Olive or a lemon twist

Stir in ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass

When I think of “Old Hollywood”, one of the actors that springs to mind is Cary Grant.  It is said that Cary Grant’s favorite cocktail was the Classic Martini (made with Gin of course). Author Ian Fleming always said he based his most famous character James Bond on Cary Grant.  James Bond had a reputation for living dangerously and making the wrong seem right, he also had to be different from the average Joe, so Fleming had his character always order this classic incorrectly…”Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred”.

A so-called ‘Classic Martini’ is actually really complicated so I won’t go in to it all now,  however the original recipe does call for Gin, which is a much better option than vodka in my opinion. Many cocktail connoisseurs also believe that shaking gin is bad because the shaking action “bruises” the gin (a bitter taste can sometimes occur). In Fleming’s novel Casino Royale, it says  “Bond watched as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker,” I advise you to order yours stirred, not shaken and always with Gin, not Vodka. Sorry James!

Hi Ho Cocktail (Also known as the ‘Highland and Hollywood Cocktail’)

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 1 oz White port
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon peel twist
Shake in ice and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.
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The Hi Ho Cocktail was created in Hollywood, California in the 1930’s and named after the cross streets where the Academy awards are held each year- Highland and Hollywood (Hi Ho).   First published in ‘World Drinks and How to Mix Them’ by William Boothby in 1934. I prefer this to a classic martini because I am not a huge fan of vermouth.  While red port is much more common these days, white port is still readily available so make sure you use it for this drink. A dry white port and a London Dry Gin are suggested.

Shirley Temple (non-alcoholic)

  • Ginger Ale
  • Dash of Grenadine (Original is made from Pomegranate based syrup)

Garnish: Cherry

This is a non-alcoholic cocktail named after one of the biggest child stars in history.  I felt the need to put this one on the list (despite its lack of liquor) for two reasons.

Firstly, Shirley Temple was definitely part of the old Hollywood scene.  She was actually awarded a miniature Oscar for charming America with her singing and dancing in the midst of the Great Depression. She was given the award when she was just 6 years old “in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934.”and this ‘mocktail’ is said to have been created so that she would have something to drink when out with the adult Hollywood stars.

Secondly, many places today make this drink incorrectly using ‘Sprite’ instead of the original recipe that calls for Ginger Ale,  be sure to ask for the latter when ordering, you won’t be disappointed.

REFERENCES

My research for this piece comes from many sources, but in particular I want to mention three great books I referenced;

1. ‘The Story of Hollywood’ by Gregory Paul Williams

2. ‘Elemental Mixology’ by Andrew “The Alchemist” Willet

and a fun read novelty book;

3. ‘Hollywood’s Favorite Cocktail Book – including the favorite cocktail served at each of the smartest stars’ rendezvous. Food and Wine Combinations.’ by Buzza-Cardozo published 1928.
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I hope you try and enjoy some of these drinks this award season, I have to admit I am not a big Martini drinker myself because in all honesty I find them too strong! I mean, they are for the most part almost straight liquor. I have not yet tried all of the drinks on this list, but am suggesting mainly for their Hollywood history.
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I don’t live too far from Hollywood Blvd but as a picky drinker I have decided it is my duty to force myself and my boyfriend to test these classics whilst watching the Hollywood excitement unfold on TV today. I suggest you do the same! 🙂

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Drink of the Week

The Leap Year Cocktail

  • 2oz Gin
  • 1/2oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Dash lemon juice

Add Ice, Shake and Strain in to a cocktail glass

Garnish: Lemon twist

Next Wednesday is the 29th February…and what does that mean?…You guessed it, it’s a Leap Year!!! I thought you all might want something fun and different to order/try over the week-end with this upcoming theme in mind.

This classic drink was created by Harry Craddock for the Leap Year celebrations at The Savoy Hotel, London on 29th February 1928. If you’re a Gin drinker you’re bound to enjoy it. I personally like it with Hendricks Gin (as Hess suggests in the video clip below) but a London dry Gin will also work, and is slightly more appropriate considering the drink itself originated in London.

You can order this classic at Bar Chloe in Santa Monica starting today (Friday 24th)  I urge you to head down there and get the Leap Year festivites rolling early!

You can watch this drink being made by Robert Hess below;

Happy Leap Year!

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A not so bitter talk with Louis Anderman

Name: Louis Anderman

Company: Miracle Mile Bitters Co.

Location: Los Angeles, California

“Making the World a better place, 2-3 dashes at a time”


This week-end I finally got to sit down with the lovely Louis Anderman, the man behind the Miracle Mile Bitters Co.  When I say ‘the man behind the brand’ I am being quite literal when I talk about Louis.  Miracle Mile Bitters aren’t mass produced at all,  they are hand-crafted cocktail bitters made here in Los Angeles (Miracle Mile) by Louis ALONE in his rented studio space.

He is a one man show and therefore produces small batches for local businesses, friends, family and fellow enthusiasts.  As his success has risen in the last year he has had to turn down a few distributing companies already, purely because he is realistic about what he can produce as one person.  He cannot create 400 bottles a week, like the larger competitors (Fee Brothers, Scrappy’s etc). He can however, and does, take a little under a month to create a couple of liters of truly exceptional product. He single handedly proves the point of quality over quantity.

These bitters taste real, they don’t taste like false flavorings. Unlike ‘Fee Brothers’ he never uses glycerine in his product, only organic neutral grain spirit (except in the case of his Toasted Pecan Bitters, where he uses 50/50 the neutral grain and Bourbon).  Demand is greater than production allows right now, and he told me that merely mentioning a flavor concept on his Facebook/website has him receiving countless requests for bottles of a product not yet created!

He is a genuinely nice man to chat with and when speaking about what he’s doing now, (a far cry from the world of Miramax he originated in) you really get a sense of his passion for the products he creates.  He has no formal culinary training, but his keen sense of smell, taste and adventure for playing with new flavors is what sent him on his current path.

He started with the Chocolate/Chili bitters early on which ended up being so successful amongst his friends that Joe Keeper (owner of Barkeeper in Silverlake) said “You really should start selling these at my store”. Soon enough his product was doing so well that he said to himself it’s time to “Go Pro or Go HomeLucky for us, he chose the professional route and Miracle Mile Bitters Co. began it’s journey in to the cocktail community.

A Brief bit about Bitters. (Say that ten times fast!)

Ok, so the bitter truth (pun intended) is that until a few days ago I didn’t even know what they really were. When someone mentioned ‘Bitters’ in a drink, I would usually assume, having such a sweet tooth, i’m not going to like it and therefore not going to order it.  I would have been able to name maybe four flavors I knew of:  Peychauds, Angostura, Chocolate and Orange and although I was aware there were more flavors out there, I had no real desire to discover them. To be honest I had no understanding as to why anyone would even want them in a drink!  The only time i’d tasted them in the past had been when I had an upset tummy and my boyfriend FG would give me bitters in soda which was, quite frankly, disgusting! This always stuck with me and when FG would order a digestiv  of ‘beverage bitters’ like Campari or Cynar, I could never understand it’s appeal. It was like taking medicine.

Technically, that’s exactly what he was doing. Bitters originated as medicines and were used to cure a variety of ailments from headaches to constipation to indigestion.  The recipes for some of theses elixirs date back centuries and were used to help fix a variety of sickness issues.  I could not wrap my head around why bartenders had such a desire to add them to drinks, that is until I tried some of Miracle Miles Bitters co. selection at the Valentines Day Prom at Big Bar and realized how certain bitters can be a background note that enhance a set of new flavors in a drink.

As soon as I tried them and heard about this ‘Cult member of the cocktail community’ (Louis Anderman) I knew I wanted to meet him, but before I did I decided to do a little research.Amongst other books, I found myself reading ‘A SPIRITED HISTORY of a CLASSIC CURE-ALL- BITTERS’ by Brad Thomas Parsons the most.  It is not a hugely complex book, but was perfect to help me understand their origins and uses. So for all of you, like myself, with little/no knowledge of Bitters here’s a few little things to tell you…in layman’s terms!

What exactly are bitters?

Bitters have been described as “Liquid seasoning for drinks and food”, they are to the bartender what salt and pepper is to the Chef.  FG often has a Negroni or bitter tasting aperitif to help prepare his taste buds for dinner, they cleanse the palette and help enhance flavors in the food you eat, and in the cocktail itself.

“Bitters are an aromatic flavoring agent made from infusing roots, barks, fruit peels, seeds, spices, herbs, flowers and botanicals in high proof alcohol.” Page 9 of Parsons Book.

They are used in the creation of cocktails. Incidentally I should mention that the term “cocktail” should technically always have bitters in it.

Our generation throws the word around with little regard for accuracy. There are thousands of “Cocktail Lists” in this city with not one ‘real’ cocktail on it.   A cocktail (by tradition) is a drink consisting of sugar, alcohol, water and bitters. Thats it! None of these ‘Martinis or Cosmos’ are cocktails at all. We use the term incorrectly and it drives the true drink enthusiasts crazy.

I admit I have no issue with the mis use of the term personally, I actually believe it’s ok for the meaning of words to change and adapt over time, but if you are one of those people who believe in accuracy of names and traditions then check out Andrew “The Alchemist” Willet website by clicking HERE. He is a walking ‘drink encyclopedia’ and runs classes and tasting sessions which will blow your mind. (He also just did an article on the ‘Bitters’ book I mentioned, he wasn’t as in favor of it as I am, but have a look at what he said too.)

Bitters are also, as I mentioned before, a form of Medicine.  Louis told me that some of his first recipes and attempts at bitters came from old 19th Century pharmaceutical books he found on the internet “God bless Google Books” he said, when discussing how access to some of these old recipes really helped him create his own, like his very popular Castilian Bitters.

The Forbidden Bitters (Batch # 001) were some of the best he’s ever created, and not that dissimilar from the, now deceased, Abbott’s 19th Century aromatic bitters.  However, in the same way that the Abbott’s are no longer available you also can’t get your hands on this first batch of Forbidden either.  For the same reason too, they are both now ‘Forbidden’ as the recipe called for Tonka Beans (have bitter almond, cacao and vanilla notes) which are not FDA approved.  This is nothing more than a poorly written law and the minuscule amounts used could never cause you harm, but nevertheless, Louis’ current Forbidden Bitters for sale do not include the aromatic Tonka beans at all. They are still excellent however, and I strongly urge you to buy a bottle.

Always one to try new things, he tells me recently he’s been experimenting with Candicap mushrooms, which have a sweet maple syrup aroma.  I asked why no one has thought to use these in bitters before and he replied “They are expensive and the supply chain is irregular” but that’s the beauty of a small operation company, he can play with flavors with a lot less regard for mass production later on down the line.

The majority of his experimentation isn’t for retail either, but limited to ‘on premise’ clients. An example of this would be the savory “Damn you Matt Wallace” bitters he created for Harvard & Stone in Hollywood.  The name intrigues many who hear it, and I was curious as to it’s back story.

Louis told me;

Matt Wallace (Head Bartender at H&S) suggested I try to create a savory bitters. After I started with a tomato base,  I added (amongst other things) some angelic root, pepper, celery and a little citrus for brightness then my savory bitters were born.  They have spice with not too much heat. The idea and the final product ended up being so good I had to say “Damn you Matt Wallace” so that’s what I put on the label of the first bottle.”

The name stuck! ‘Damn you Matt Wallace bitters’ are still on the drink menu at Harvard and Stone exclusively so be sure to check them out there too.

The new ‘Valentines Bitters’ with notes of Strawberry and Rose that were created for Big Bar’s Prom last week, are outstanding. So delicate and floral, they are delightful and having been able to snag a little bottle for my own use I have already been bothered by ‘bartender friends’ who want me to bug Louis about creating more. “Can you see if he’ll make us like 6 bottles?” Seriously, I can only imagine how many calls Louis must get like this after people try his new creations.

The man is gifted and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. Miracle Mile Bitters Co. is such a great little company and deserves all the recognition it can get. In my opinion it’s always better to look after the “little guy” and stay away from “big commercial” companies when possible and unlike other bitters production companies in America, Miracle Mile Bitters Co. does have that small batch appeal.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some other fantastic bitters companies out there ‘The Bitter Truth’ is a great example of one.  There are also small batch bitters operations popping up all over the place like ‘Bittermens’ bitters created by Avery Glasser in New York.

Louis isn’t here to step on anyones toes though, when I asked if he started his company because he thought other companies were lacking an element he replied;

 “Not at all. I honestly felt there was room for me too. There is always room for new flavor ideas, for example, no one was making a Castilian or Yuzu bitters at the time”

and for the flavors already out there, like Orange or Chocolate, he says he’s not trying to take over;

“As long as the quality is there, I believe theres room for everyone. I target a smaller audience anyway and often have people who just want to collect the whole set because I make so few bottle in a batch compared to the big brands”

His work ethic and passion for what he does comes across when he talks and his choice of flavors has inspired bartenders across LA and the country to create new and exciting drinks with his products.  He sparks imagination in people and his ‘Venue specific bitters’ are a smart way to help Mixology bars around LA get on the map, if they weren’t already.  The cocktail community in LA is so welcoming and helpful for promoting each other, he has been quite overwhelmed by how much support has come for his little brand.  Having tasted his products and met Louis now in person, I honestly believe his product won’t stay “boutique” for long.  I’m pretty sure Miracle Mile Bitters Co. is about to become a big name brand and will one day be available and sold all over the World.  It deserves every success.

If you have an interest in buying any of his current ‘retail’ creations please check out his website, or purchase direct from any of the following locations:

The current bitters he creates in a larger capacity for retail are: Chocolate/Chili Bitters, Gingerbread Bitters, Sour Cherry Bitters, Castilian Bitters, Yuzu Bitters, Forbidden Bitters, Orange Bitters.

I am going to end with a copy of the questionnaire I give all the people I interview. I find this is a fun informal way to learn more about a person and I love to see the different answers .
Here are Louis answers…Enjoy!
*
1. What is your full name?
Louis Z Anderman
2. What city/state were you born in?
Los Angeles, CA
3. What is your official job title? 
Barpothecary.  OK, so I made up that word, but it appears that someone beat me to Bitterati.
4. Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
Absolutely not.  And, I should add, I see no food hierarchy.  I think that a $1 taco truck taco can be as noble as anything served at any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, and many of my most memorable meals have been in parking lots, or strip mall dives with a health dept. B in the window.
 5. What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
Can’t pick one.  Best I can do is my top 5, in no particular order:  Martini, Manhattan, Sazerac, Last Word, Old Fashioned.
6. What is your ‘go-to’ liquor of choice? 
Gin.  Beefeater is usually my house staple, though there are many others I love, depending upon mood and/or finances.
7. What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but perhaps shark fin soup with crab roe, in Hong Kong.
8. What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA? and Why?
Can’t do it.  Can’t pick a favorite.
9. Where can you usually be found on a Saturday night?
For the most part, I’m a boring homebody.
10. What is the best thing about what you do?  
Many things.  For one, truly loving what I do.  For the first time in my life, I actually find myself excited about going to work.  The creative satisfaction I get from developing new flavors, and the further satisfaction at a positive reception, and then seeing bartenders creating new drinks with them that I never would have imagined.  All of the lovely, incredibly creative and passionate people I’ve met.  Oh, and the comped drinks don’t hurt, either.
11. What is the Worst thing about what you do?
Dealing with supply shortages (I went through about a two month dry spell on Yuzu peel, until I found a new, more reliable supplier), and the stress of building a new business from the ground up, learning as I go along (and hoping I don’t screw anything up too much!).
12. If you could live anywhere in the World where would it be? and why?
I’m gonna cheat and imagine that I had access to a time machine, and say LA in the 1930’s.  I’m obsessed with looking at pictures of old LA, and I can’t imagine how beautiful this city must have been pre-traffic, with lots of gorgeous Art Deco architecture.
13. If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
Cry. 
14. If you won the $100,000,000 on the lottery what would be the first thing you’d buy?
A fully restored (and with the notoriously dodgy electrics upgraded) series 1.5 Jaguar XKE roadster – silver, with red or black interior – or the Plymouth Gin distillery, just so I’d have ready access to the Navy Strength which, sadly, isn’t imported to the US.
 
Thanks for reading!
(If you would like to be considered for interview or represent a bar/brand you want to bring exposure to on my site, please feel free to contact me direct: pickydrinker@gmail.com)

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