The perfect five-bottle bar

the perfect five bottle bar

The perfect five-bottle bar: (1) Faultline bourbon, (2) Fernando de Castilla Antique amontillado sherry, (3) St. George Terroir gin, (4) Dolin Rouge vermouth, and (5) Campari

A few weeks ago, Dan’s sister Rachel asked for a cocktail lesson. Her reasoning was solid: cocktails are the perfect thing for a person who lives alone and will never finish a bottle of wine solo. And they’re fun! So true.

But Rachel’s request also came with a challenge. Because she’s starting from scratch and doesn’t want to spend a fortune stocking the bar, she wanted to pinpoint just five bottles that would give her lots of options—not to mention make her look like a cocktail genius.

The easy thing to do, of course, would have been to send her away to find vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and whiskey, along with the proportions for a sour. And hey—there’s nothing wrong with the basics. But that felt like a cop-out. I wanted to help her find her cocktail personality. And I wanted each of the five bottles to be worthy of drinking on their own.

So we embarked on an epic tasting journey.

Continue reading

Cherry sherry Manhattans for a crowd

bottled cocktailsRecently, we threw a cocktail party for about 30 friends. Hosting events like this is one of my very favorite things in the whole wide world. Now that we’ve arrived at the age where a lot of our friends have started having babies, seeing each other regularly can sometimes be a tricky business, requiring epic coordination of sitters and nannies and bedtimes. Getting 30 of my favorite people together at one time, in my living room, feels like a much bigger accomplishment than it did six or seven years ago. So when the stars align and it all comes together, I’m psyched. I want to make sure everybody has a fantastic time. And I definitely don’t want to miss my chance to catch up with everyone because I’m stuck behind the bar, slinging drinks all night.

The secret to making it happen: batch cocktails. Continue reading

Busy Saturday? Seats available for our sherry dinner

Saturday’s dinner is shaping up to be pretty epic—and if you’re the spontaneous type, you’re in luck! We’ve had some cancellations and we still have a few seats available. Email us now to make your reservation.

We’ll be pairing some of the world’s best sherries with each of our six tapas-inspired courses:

    • Boquerones, citrus, black olive
    • Sea bass crudo, Oro Blanco, radish, honey, paprika oil
    • Crispy sweetbreads, potato, braised pea shoots
    • Octopus, spring onion, blood orange, aioli
    • Short rib, savory caramel, slaw, black sesame
    • Cardamom duck egg ice cream sandwich

We learned an enormous amount at SherryFest West in Portland a few weeks ago, and we can’t wait take you on a guided tour of all the major sherry styles: fino, amontillado, palo cortado, oloroso, cream, and Pedro Ximenez. We’re planning to serve several wines that aren’t yet available in California, so this is a unique chance to try something rare and unusual—not to mention very, very delicious.

This dinner is $85, inclusive of wine pairings. Email us now to RSVP!

Reporting back from Sherryfest West 2013

Good things come in barrels. (Obviously.) Therefore, something that comes from many, many barrels must be extra good, right? We went to Portland last week to investigate this theory at Sherryfest West 2013.


Sherry, which is a fortified wine made from palomino grapes in the Jerez region of Spain, sees an awful lot of barrel time when it’s aged in a solera system. A solera is a series of barrels where part of the wine in each barrel is regularly moved to the next stage (or criadera) and replenished with new, younger wine from the criadera before it. This constant partial movement means that by the time wine is drawn out of the last criadera for bottling, it is a mix of wine that is relatively young and wine that can be very, very old—more than 150 years in some of the oldest soleras. During this process, the wine can be aged biologically (under a layer of flavor-producing yeast called flor) and/or oxidatively, by simply leaving the barrels about one-sixth empty to expose the wine to oxygen.

A lot of Americans share an unfortunate cultural memory of sherry as a treacly, cloying after-dinner drink—and a few decades ago, most of what you could buy on the American market probably wasn’t very good. But actually, the vast majority of sherry is completely dry. These dry sherries pair smashingly well with food, providing a range of nutty, saline, and umami tones and occasionally surprising notes like butter toffee, black olive, orange peel, or baking spices. Continue reading

Spain dinner recap

Huge thanks to all the guests who joined us for this weekend’s Spain-inspired dinner! We had an overwhelming response for this event, and we wish we could’ve accommodated everyone on the waiting list. For those of you who weren’t there, here’s how it went down.

We welcomed everyone with one of these:

Christmas in August
1 1/2 ounces Aviation gin
1 ounce Santa Claus melon agua fresca
1/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce black pepper simple syrup

Garnish with dehydrated jamón chip (dry on a Silpat in a 170 degree oven for 3-4 hours).

Once everyone arrived, we kicked off the meal with our amuse–a mussel poached in fino sherry and served with salsa verde and smoked paprika.

 

 

Our first course was inspired by an amazing breakfast my friends Jenna and Deroy served me a few years ago. We baked morcilla (blood sausage) into the base of a savory bread pudding, topped it with finely diced dates, and served it with a 64-degree sous vide egg. So simple but so good–and a perfect match with the 2000 Lopez de Heredia “Viña Gravonia” Crianza Blanco Rioja.

For the second course, we served a Monterey squid with deconstructed romesco and poured a 2010 Bodegas Muga Rosado that mellows out a lot during its brief period in oak. This is one of my personal favorite summer wines–it’s very similar to the Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia aged rosé that we’ve served at two past dinners, but at an incredibly wallet-friendly price.

The third course was actually three mini-courses in one. Pintxos are typically served as bar snacks, often with sherry–but since the three we chose were a bit heavier than our first two courses and required a weightier wine (the Lustau Almacenista Vides Palo Cortado, a beautifully light and nutty sherry from Jerez de la Frontera) we decided to break the rules and serve these later in the meal. The three bites we offered: (1) a skewer with sauteed calf liver and a caramelized shallot in a sherry vinaigrette, (2) a croqueta of arroz negro (rice colored with squid ink) and stuffed with wine-washed goat cheese, and (3) a toast with garlic white bean puree, a boquerone (lightly cured Spanish white anchovy), blood orange, and black olive dust.

For our fourth course, we served a seared veal short loin with Catalán-style baby chard, a pine nut puree, and garbanzo and blood orange gremolata. We paired it with the 2008 Tajinaste Tinto Tradicional from Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. This wine is 100% Listan Negro, which is a grape native to the Canary Islands. The volcanic soil there gives this light-bodied wine a bracing black pepper spice that worked as a nice counterpoint to the richness of the veal and the acid in the gremolata.

And then we served cheese.The red swipe on the plate is a savory red wine caramel with thyme. The cheese in the top right is a Garrotxa, which is a tangy goat cheese that (fun fact) the Mythbusters guys deemed perfect for cannonballs. The gooey blob next to the caramel swipe is a funky soft Serra de Estrela sheep’s milk cheese from Portugal. We paired this with an incredible madeira that blends wines 10-60 years old–the Rare Wine Company Historic Series Boston Bual.

We finished things up with Dan’s dark chocolate and Cointreau truffles. To see those, you’re just going to have to join us for dinner.

Thanks again to everyone who was there, and everyone who patiently took a spot on the waitlist. We’ll be announcing our next dinner this week–make sure you’re on the mailing list to get first dibs. Cheers!