Thursday, June 30, 2011

Raspberry Lime Rickey

These Mick Klug raspberries are ridiculously good.  I can't doctor them up with a bunch of ingredients or too much sugar. A balanced classic Lime Rickey is the perfect vessel.  Death's Door Gin...the perfect motor.

Raspberry Lime Rickey (for one week only at Henri! 18 S Michigan)

Small handful of Mick Klug Michigan raspberries
muddle and top with
2 oz. Death's Door Gin
1 oz. Lime Juice
1 oz. simple syrup
shake and double strain into ice filled Collins glass
top with soda
garnish with lime disc

This drink is refreshing like this...
 And it's as perfect for a summer's day as something like this...


The Green City Market Gets a New Look!

Before attending today's GCM (that's Green City Marketif your curious) I had already read on Eater that the market would be getting a re-vamp.  Organizers wanted a different flow of traffic and walk ways with drainage that would help when it pours.  Little did I know how much they were going to change things...
Pretty impressive with such limited means.  Good job Green City Market!

But of course all of the same farms were present.  And finally, after a few weeks of good weather we are starting to see some of the good stuff including Michigan cherries and....
 I love raspberries.  One of my favorite gin cocktails uses them and I will be tempted not to just go to the well and pull my raspberry cocktail out of inventory.  These berries are coming from Mick Klug farm.  Mick has been coming to the market since its inception.


I was curious about the town of St.Joseph itself.  I did a little research and turns out that St. Joseph was a very important point of American Indian travel and commerce.  Well, enough about St. Joesph (I could go on all day.)  These berries are sweet and slightly tart and I can't wait to try them with gin!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bee's Knees

This cocktail is a straight-up classic with a twist (which is really what every cocktail is...shhh...don't tell nobody).  In prohibition times the Bee's Knees and it's trinity of honey syrup, lemon and bathtub gin was a popular tipple for the main fact that honey was good at masking the pungent aroma of the then-toxic gin.  The amazing gins which we now have behind the bar are great in this cocktail but I wanted to do a little something different.  Bartenders have been using light or aged rum as a substitution in the drink for years.  Expanding on that I am going to use both.  Cheers!

Bee's Knees (this weeks Marche cocktail at Henri)

1 oz white rum
1oz aged rum (I am using Botran solera from Guatemala)
1 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz honey syrup (with Hillside orchard wildflower honey)
splash falernum
lemon wheel and grated nutmeg to garnish

Only Ten Bucks!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coffee, Honey, and Chestnuts!

I began my weekly Wednesday regiment at Green City Market by visiting Hoosier Mama Pie Company and snagging one of their addictive sausage hand pies.  Just as integral part of my regiment is the free Intelligentsia Coffee at the front of the Market.  GCM is dedicated to only providing foodstuffs within a fifty mile radius.  Coffee as some of you might know comes from a little further away than that.  Here's the kicker...the Coffee is free.  So all of the goods "sold" at the market are still local.  They have a small little container to receive donations.  I always put a dollar in.  Today was no exception.
However, that cup is small and after walking around I needed a refill and went back for seconds.  I didn't leave another donation and a gentleman next to me rolled his eyes.  I didn't know what to say.  Half awake I looked right back at him and said, "I donay ready."  Which translates to I donated already.  I immediately felt stupid for saying anything as I don't really care what he thinks because my karma is tight.  I am a chronic over-tipper and I get help elderly across the street....and I donated already.  I also found myself really angry that the market didn't start later in the day just so I could avoid saying stupid half-asleep nonsense like "I donay ready".  At this point the guy had already left.  Who cares what he thinks anyway.  He's probably going to a Green Lantern matinee after this anyways.

I was kind of looking for herbs today but they weren't really to be had in large quantities.  I have done strawberries the last two weeks in my cocktails so I'm also going to skip those.  In the coming weeks I know that a bunch of different fruit will start showing up so I might just go to the old faithful well of preserves, dried produce or maybe...
Honey is a great sweetener in drinks and can have many different flavors depending on the local flora that the bees gather from.  I've personally never been to Berrien Springs or Hillside Chestnut so I consult the GCM website to learn more.


Hillside Orchards has been a family operation since 1836. In 1920, Sarah Feather’s great-grandfather began selling his produce at a farmers market in South Bend, Indiana. Sarah grew up on the farm and married Paul Thelen, who also had a farming background. The couple farmed the Feather orchards with Sarah’s father. Today daughters Rebecca and Erica are involved in the 100-acre farm, which contains 1,700 organic chestnut trees. Hillside’s many types of fruit, including a variety of heirloom apples, are grown using an Integrated Pest Management system. The Good Agriculture Practice sessions the family attends are designed to ensure that fruit is  produced and marketed in the safest manner possible. The Thelen’s goal is to continue using ever safer and more sustainable production methods.

Honey sold.  I also bought some of their dried chestnuts maybe for a garnish.  I am back at the bar and have already made the honey into honey syrup.  This is very easy.  Add equal parts honey and hot water and shake.  Even in a diluted syrup this honey flavor is very cool kind of smoky.  On my first pass  I made an interesting tequila drink with the smoky syrup and Velvet Falernum.  Almost there.  I will finish this libation tomorrow  for sure.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Rye

The above title is the name of this weeks Marche (Market) cocktail at Henri.  It has....

Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye
Seedling Farms Rhubarb Preserves
Lemon Juice
Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters 
Egg White
Garnished with Fraises des Bois (European Alpine Strawberries)

I'm just finishing one and I think that "Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove" would also have been an appropriate title.


Come try one today....Only $10!!!

Strawberries Redux

Today started off with a torrential downpour here in the Windy City.  At the Green City Market I notice some vendors didn't show up.  In this number I am including Hoosier Mama Pie Company who makes the sausage hand pies that I eat every time I'm here.  No sausage pies. I feel hollow like a windsock.  I sigh, hum a Smith's song and stare at the ground.

Whoa, I don't even like The Smiths and now my coffee is kicking in.  Better.  Also, the weather is really not that bad now as all the storms have passed.  The market has some amazing vegetables on hand but after getting strawberries I am really on the look out for fruit or maybe herbs.  But still just a lot of strawberries around not much else until I hit up Seedling farms who are know for growing cool varieties.  They had these....

Perspective might be lost here but each of these funky Fraises des Bois are about the diameter of a penny and they have a flavor I would place somewhere in between a raspberry and a strawberry.  So, I consulted this weird little reference site called Wikipedia to learn more about these little guys.
The Alpine strawberry (aka the European strawberry) grows sparsely all over North America.  Known for it's strong flavor the berry originated in Persia and was spread via the silk road.  Anyway, Peter Klein from Seedling sold me on them.  Also, if you are at the market try one his smoothies...very good for hangovers.  Peter also made me realize the advantages of working for a Chef who uses small producers like Peter's Seedling Farms...I can just charge stuff at the market back to my work.  Just sign a piece of paper....
...and voila.  I also added on some of Peter's rhubarb preserves to my cart and am already thinking of using the Fraises des Bois and rhubarb together.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Strawberry Hemingway

No one probably knows this, but it turns out that late great novelist Ernest Hemingway was something of a "Partier".  At the famed La Floridita bar in Havana Hemingway loved ordering the daiquiris and over time began adjusting them to his own tastes with the addition of Maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice.  There are many variations of this classic and bartenders love tweaking the original formula.  Here's my take in slow-mo via Johnny Auer's iPhone4.  Anyway, I think it was a 4 could've been a 3.

We start with the tart Green Acres strawberries I picked up at the GCM on Wednesday.  And then we muddle.
Then I add white rum, Smith and Cross Navy Proof Rum (my addition) Maraschino Liqueur, cane syrup, lime juice, fresh grapefruit juice and shake vigorously.  Double strain and garnish with a lime and a strawberry.
Then stand behind the drink, lean on the bar and have a friend take a picture of you all blurred out on his iPhone4 (or 3).  Come try one if you live in the area.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Today at Green City....Strawberries and People!

Currently, it is around 95 degrees everyday here in Chicago.  Which means people are actually out doing stuff like going to Farmer's Markets.

Unfortunately, this weather also means people are out doing stuff like this...

Wait...actually catfish noodling is pretty cool I take it back.  But be careful out there it is not legal in all states!

The aggressive arrival of summer means a whole lotta good things at the market.  I had been told before I even got to the GCM that Mick Klug had some amazing strawberries.  When I got there they were all sold out.  Not a big deal as Seedling, Green Gate Garden, and Green Acres all had amazing strawberries.   I had met Beth who (along with her husband Brett) runs Green Acres some years ago when I worked at Nightwood.  Their farm's story is really cool and I wanna share it with you now in a little section I call....

                         Meet the Farmers

Green Acres, owned by Beth and Brent Eccles, has a unique history. Beth’s grandfather, a Japanese immigrant, moved to Indiana in the late 1930s and began a small truck farm, selling Asian vegetables to restaurants and stores in Chicago’s Chinatown. His son, Ben, took over the farming operation in 1969 and continued his father’s wholesale business for the next 35 years. Beth and her husband, Brent, began farming in 1996. Meeting Abby Mandel at the Best of the Midwest Market inspired the couple to bring their sustainably raised food to farmer's markets in Chicago. Expanding on the Asian vegetable niche, they also grow more than 500 varieties of heirloom vegetables, fruits, and specialty greens. With two daughters, Beth and Brent are proud to continue the family tradition of farming.  (Bio from Green City Market Website)


Their strawberries are really tart but in a good way with an earthy sweetness.  I am thinking both gin and whiskey could work well...or maybe genever the slightly funky product of Holland to pair with these berries for my weekly Market Cocktail. 

One final note.  When you find yourself at Green City make sure to go to the back to Hoosier Mama Pie Company and get yourself a sausage hand pie.  Like my buddy Michael Simon would say, "These Pies are Baller!"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gio's Julep

Right off the bat I found that the Green Gate Garden peppermint and Fernet Branca were indeed a very good match.  The menthol found in each made them partners.  The problem, however, is that while I like Fernet hot and out of any vessel clean or dirty...others find it kind of cloying and strong.  I don't really make drinks for myself but rather the nice people that come in and pay for them.  You can get clientele that never drink gin to pledge allegiance to the juniper plant (and the Queen of England for that matter) if you make a gin cocktail that's balanced.  Such is the case with every spirit outside of Rumple Minze.  Is Rumple Minze one word or two?  I am glad I don't know the answer.   Anyway,  I began to try to balance the Fernet and mint with other ingredients.  Fortunately, I have no shortage of taste testers and sampling my "experiments" has a very positive effect on my staff's disposition.  Especially, a certain hostess who's critiques of good, better, and best help quite a bit.  In the end sweet and spicy ginger beer and the late addition of Carpano Antica were the key(s).  So for your face I present Gio's Julep....

Muddled Green Gate Garden Peppermint
Crushed Ice
Fernet Branca
Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
Lemon Juice
Ginger Beer
Peppermint to Garnish

The name is short for Giovanni and hints at this libation's Italian roots.  This cocktail is also in honor of a food runner from The Gage named Gio who is actually not Italian at all and calls me Presidente Clinton.  I gave him Fernet one night for his shift drink and he proclaimed it to be..."good".