Tag Archives: Vodka

An ABSOLUTely great event

As many of you will have noticed, I haven’t had a chance to write my blog in a while. I’ve been working, drinking, traveling, eating, drinking, at industry events and yes, more drinking! I finally have a little time to report back on my experiences before I head to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail in 2 weeks.  There will be new posts going up shortly so be sure to check in again soon.

In “Fussy One News” I would like to let you know that another piece of my writing has been published in this months issue (July 2012) of The Tasting Panel Magazine.

This is the second time i’ve been fortunate enough to have my words in print (See May issue) and I was thrilled at the chance to cover the ‘Absolut Stuga’ event that was held in Hollywood last month.

I had been planning to attend the Stuga event long before I was asked to cover it for the magazine, so I was even more excited to be there when I had the task of interviewing bartenders and industry professionals (most of whom are now my very good friends!) 🙂

I have been to several Absolut events in the past so knew it would be a fun occasion, because if anyone knows how to throw a good party, it’s definitely Absolut.  This event was certainly great fun and entertaining, however it differed from previous years because there was a far more prominent focus on education regarding the product and it’s development this time.

Experts from Sweden, London and New York had been flown in to teach us about the process, distillation and marketing behind the iconic brand. It actually made for a very informative and interesting evening, and completely different to what I had expected.

Time for some product tasting

I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised to learn so many facts about the brand that actually impressed me. As most of my readers know, Vodka is not my go-to alcohol of choice, mainly due to the fact I find it to have no real flavor profile.  However, I was throughly intrigued by the history and ‘one source’ philosophy that Absolut adheres to.

Did you know that the winter wheat, the purist water, the distilling, bottling and packaging for Absolut all takes place in one very tiny region in Sweden?! It literally all comes from ‘one source’…near the city of Åhus in Skåne County, Sweden.

A small community of local Swedish farmers, millers and workers are the team behind one of the biggest Vodka brands in the World, which I think is really quite remarkable.

Toby  Cecchini makes his Cosmo

I have a new found respect for the company as a whole especially when I heard first hand that some of the farmers have worked with the brand for over 25 years.

I admit, I always assumed Absolut was just another big brand that was only popular because it was pushed by clever advertising, however the Stuga event (named after Swedish cottages) was designed to shed new light on their product, which it certainly did for me.

I also hadn’t appreciated that the flavored versions of their product use no false or added flavorings.

They steep 100% real fruit in the vodka making it a far more subtle flavor but not fake tasting like many of it’s flavored vodka competitors.

The Absolut tasted great in the cocktails that were on offer throughout the evening, I particularly enjoyed ‘Our Man in Zanilla’ which was sweet, floral and very refreshing.

Our Man in Zanilla- ABSOLUT Vodka, Manzanilla Sherry, Elderflower Liqueur, Grapefruit Zest

The event was spread over 2 days at Paramount Studios. Day One was for industry only and Day Two (yes, I did both!) was open to the public.  We ate unusual foods prepared by Animal restaurant, learnt a thing or two about the brand, drank punch, had t-shirts printed, told stories and danced the night away to the DJ.  A great experience that everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed.

Check out the article I wrote for the magazine by clicking here and seeing the online version of the July issue.  My piece starts on page 67 and is a 3 page photo essay about the Absolut event.

Marcos and Vincenzo hug it out!

You can also subscribe for the printed version of the magazine from their website, which I highly recommend for those with a serious interest in the alcohol industry.

Please note the photos in this blog are my personal photos from the event, however the ones used in The Tasting Panel article were taken by Erica Bartel.

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Again, big thanks to the Editors of Tasting Panel (in particular, Rachel Burkons) for giving this little British blogger another chance to have their work published…I hope to work for you again soon.

A continued thanks to all my Fussy Readers too, I still can’t believe how many of you there are and I appreciate the support.

KEEP FOLLOWING, DRINKING AND TRYING NEW THINGS!

The Fussy One 🙂

 

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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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