Formally trained at the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust), as well as on the floors of various restaurants and bars around the country, Prairie Rose is a Los Angeles-based cocktail and spirits writer, events producer, marketer, consultant, and gal about town. The Bit by a Fox blog won Saveur Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Best Cocktail Blog in 2014.
For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast I spoke with wine prodigy Ryan Bailey at his home base in downtown LA’s beautiful new NoMad Los Angeles. As Wine Director, Ryan oversees the classically inspired wine program that is roughly 1000 selections and features Champagne as a focus. We delve into Ryan’s early interest in wine, his experience in Michelin starred restaurants at a very young age, and we do a deep dive into Champagne and all things bubbly.
Our featured cocktail for this episode includes sparkling wine AND one of Ryan’s favorite spirits – RUM! The Old Cuban, created by New York City’s Pegu Club owner Audrey Saunders is also one of my favorites.
Old Cuban – served up in a coupe glass
1½ oz. aged rum
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
6-8 mint leaves
2 oz. dry sparkling wine (try a quality dry Champagne in this!)
Muddle the lime juice, syrup and mint in a shaker. Add the rum, bitters and ice and shake until well chilled.Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass, top with bubbles and garnish with mint leaves.
For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, we talk about the oldest adult beverage known to man, enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth, the Vikings and even the Greek gods: MEAD.
You’ve probably read about it in school or in some romantic tale – it’s one of the most documented boozy beverages in history – and maybe you’ve had a chance to try it, But many are still unfamiliar with this storied drink of fermented honey. Well, it’s experiencing somewhat of a comeback. As award-winning author and spirits expert Fred Minnick puts it, it becomes popular about every 2000 years.
For this week’s Bit by a Fox podcast we’re getting a little less boozy. Or rather, not boozy at all! In this latest episode we talk about one of the most successful spirit launches out of the UK in recent years – Seedlip – a product that bills itself as the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit.
What does that even mean? How do you drink it? And why has it been so wildly popular in the craft cocktail community? Bartenders Aaron Polsky and Laura Lashley explain it all in this fun interview. They’ve been working with the brand here in LA, and have been singing its gospel since it landed stateside and has gained buzz across the country. This is our first interview with multiple guests and we did this on location at Aaron’s home bar, Harvard & Stone in Hollywood.
Seedlip East Side – makes 1 drink
2 ounces of Seedlip Garden 108
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
2 cucumber slices
small bunch mint leaves
In a cocktail shaker, muddle a cucumber slice and 5-6 mint leaves. Add the Seedlip Garden 108, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and ice. Shake until well-chilled, then double-strain into a an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice and mint sprig.
Gay Pride Month is coming to a close, and our three part series on the Bit by a Fox Podcast devoting episodes to LGBTQ stories is also wrapping up. In this third and final episode, we bring the focus to Los Angeles. My guest this week is Garrett McKechnie, bartender and co-owner of the award winning Bar Mattachine, a gay bar in downtown Los Angeles that has successfully merged gay bar culture and history with craft cocktails.
We discuss Garrett’s evolution working in gay bars in both NYC and LA, the significance of LA’s role in the story of American gay rights, how the scene has evolved, and where we are today.
This week’s featured cocktail is Bar Mattachine’s signature cocktail named after the leader of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles, Harry Hay.
2 Oz Rittenhouse 100 proof Rye
1/4 Amargo Angostura Vallet Liqueur
1/2 Oz Dolin Rouge Vermouth
1/4 Oz Maraschino Liqueur
Stir all ingredients over ice until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass. Flame a lemon peel over glass and discard. Garnish with a brandied cherry.
Last week we kicked off a Gay Pride Month series for the Bit by a Fox Podcast. We’re devoting the rest of the month to LGBTQ stories – the importance of gay bars and clubs through history, the cultural impact of the movements that came out of those important spaces, and the renegades, revolutionaries and icons behind it all. It’s such a big subject, we’ve created our first podcast series for #PrideMonth. In this second episode in this series, we touch on the gay club culture in the 70s and 80s – the music, dancing, drag, sex, and drugs involved in the queer club scene, and how it crossed over and influenced straight/mainstream culture through the years.
Our guest this week is Emily Colucci, a writer and arts curator based in New York City. Emily is co-founder of Filthy Dreams, a blog analyzing art and culture through a queer lens and a touch of camp.
This week’s featured cocktail happens to be one of the most popular cocktails of the disco era. The Harvey Wallbanger. This drink was heavily advertised all throughout the 70s to promote sales of Galliano Liqueur which, in turn, became the most popular liqueur in America during the decade. Below is a traditional Harvey Wallbanger cocktail recipe, however, I highly recommend a slushy version that I created a few years ago. Click on the pic for that icy take.
2 oz Vodka
4 oz Fresh orange juice
3/4 oz Galliano
Add vodka and orange juice to a tall, ice-filled highball glass. Float the Galliano on top and stir. Garnish with orange wheel and enjoy.
We are now smack dab in the middle of Gay Pride Month, and so like the true procrastinators we are, we’ve decided to devote the rest of the month on the Bit by a Fox Podcast to LGBTQ stories – highlighting the importance of gay bars and clubs through history, the cultural impact of the movements that came out of those important spaces, and the renegades, revolutionaries and icons behind it all. It’s such a big subject, we’re creating our first podcast series in honor of Pride Month.
In the first episode of our three part series, we touch on gay bars through history. Many have argued that the American gay rights movement was kicked off in a bar. Our guest, writer and historian, Christine Sismondo, PHD, has been researching the history of lesbian and gay bars in Toronto, some parts of which have been published in Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer (2017), and she is the author of America Walks into a Bar, a book about the history of bars in the United States. We discussed how bars have played such a crucial role in gay culture and politics through the years.
Walt Whitman went to Bohemian bar Pfaff’s Beer Cellar in New York City almost every night between 1858 and 1862 while he was working on early editions of Leaves of Grass.
“The Two Vaults” an unfinished poem c. 1861 The vault at Pfaffs where the drinkers and laughers meet to eat and drink and carouse
While on the walk immediately overhead pass the myriad feet of Broadway
As the dead in their graves are underfoot hidden
And the living pass over them, recking not of them,
Laugh on laughers!
Drink on drinkers!
Bandy the jest!
Toss the theme from one to another!
Beam up—Brighten up, bright eyes of beautiful young men!
Gladys’ Clam House was a Harlem speakeasy in the 1920s, located at 133rd Street, between Lenox and Seventh Avenue. Gladys Bentley performed in tuxedos, played piano and her show included drag back up dancers. It was the most the most notorious gay uptown establishment during the Harlem Renaissance.
In response to a police raid of the Black Cat in Los Angeles, activists organized one of the earliest protests that helped ignite the LGBTQ civil rights movement.
The riots that followed the raids at gay bar Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969 were a turning point in the gay rights movement.
Our cocktail this week is a Gin Rickey. Christine picked this classic, tall drink because it was most likely the kind of drink being served at one of these historic gay bars. Gin was also a favorite of Walt Whitman.
2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lime juice
garnish: wedge of lime
Add the gin and lime juice to an ice-filled highball glass. Add club soda to top. Rub lime wedge around the rim of the glass and squeeze some juice and add the lime into the glass.
Vinho Verde is the largest wine region in Portugal and with 2,000 years of wine-making on the books, one of the oldest. The vibrant, zippy white wines they produce have become wildly popular within the wine industry, and have gained a cult like following in recent years. However, so many are still unfamiliar with this perfect summer wine.
Vinho Verde, pronounced veeng-yo vaird, is the name of the region, not the grape. The wines are a blend of varietals native to the area. The wines of Vinho Verde are young wines (not “green” as the name verde would suggest), released 3-6 months after harvest, not allowed to age. They are unique, fresh, food-friendly, and bursting with citrus fruit flavors. This style makes for an especially refreshing summer sipper.
I recently found it to be the perfect wine for a summery picnic, paired with a variety of nibbles.
While Vinho Verde can be enjoyed on its own, and is lovely as a standalone sipper…
…this wine is meant to be paired with food.
In Northern Portugal, where this wine is produced, it is often paired with salty seafood and cheeses. Our picnic of canned sardines, olives, hard and soft cheeses, fresh fruit, and water crackers was a beautiful accompaniment to the cold, citrusy white Vinho Verde we brought along.
To read more about Vinho Verde, the wine and the region, head here, and discover your new summer wine obsession.
This post was fueled (and sponsored) by Vinho Verde wines, All opinions are my own.
Tomorrow is National Rosé Day, yes, it’s an actual day, and not just a lifestyle, thankyouverymuch. I thought we’d get into the spirit by diving into this pink summer fave on the podcast. The thousand years of history, the French Riviera glamour, the highs, and the lows lows (blush wine, anyone?) This wine is a fighter and boy she’s made a comeback over the years in a big way.
Instead of creating a recipe for this week’s episode I wanted to feature one of my recent favorite affordable rose picks for the summer and one many of you will be able to find at your local wine shop: Gérard Bertrand’s Cote des Roses Rosé.
It has a glass stopper instead of a cork, and the base of the bottle is in the shape of a rose. Besides its GORGEOUS bottle, its truly a lovely wine that reflects the qualities you’d expect in a traditional rose from the South of France. Fresh, light, crisp with a wonderful balance of fruit and acidity. Great on its own and with food.
I had the pleasure of visiting this winery in the stunning Languedoc-Roussillon coastal region in southern France this last winter where I met the famed wine maker Gérard Bertrand and fell pretty hard for that part of France and the spectacular wines made there. But I had actually discovered Cote des Roses Rosé way before that trip! It’s a perfect summer sipper. And the $15-18 price point just sweetens the deal!
Negroni Week is a celebration of one of the most perfect cocktail creations – the equal parts drink of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, but most importantly it is an international charity event that raises money for a variety of global causes. It is sponsored by Imbibe Magazine and Campari and has grown into a worldwide event with over 7,000 venues and businesses participating, but it has humble origins, originally starting out as “Negroni Social” with just a couple of bartenders in Portland, Oregon.
Vermouth is having a moment. That’s what I’ve been saying for the last four years, but I’m reallllly feeling it right now. I mean, in Italy its moment started in 1757 in Turin with Casa Cinzano, and it never really let up! It’s just taken a bit longer for us to catch up in the States…
One of the reasons we’ve been slow to catch on is because we never really knew how to drink vermouth. Besides adding it as a required ingredient to a Manhattan or a Martini – people still didn’t know what its purpose was (bone dry Martini, anyone?) – vermouth was never a vital part of our drinking culture here. The modern cocktail revival then put a major spotlight on the Negroni – which is a third sweet vermouth…and people in the U.S. started to pay attention. But the real tragedy about vermouth that keeps people from using it regularly is that many of us still don’t know how to store it! Instead of collecting dust on your home bar or hidden away on some back shelf somewhere, vermouth MUST BE REFRIGERATED. I will never stop saying this in all caps. Until every one refrigerates their vermouth, that is. Think of it as wine. Because…it is! Well, it starts out as either red or white wine and then is “aromatized” with herbs and spices, and then fortified by adding a neutral spirit which increases its alcohol content and its shelf life. But because all vermouth must be made up of at least 75% wine, it is still prone to oxidization. Keep it cold, people.
Now that we know how to keep vermouth, let’s talk about how to use it…
I love wine and herbaceous things and Italian stuff, so I’m sort of a sucker for Italian vermouth and Cinzano is the OG. I was asked to create a cocktail for their upcoming Respect the Drink campaign, and was given a choice to use one of their Aperitif Classics. I love working with sweet vermouth in a cocktail, so the spicy, botanical forward Rosso was my pick. Dry or sweet vermouth is a wonderful addition to a drink for its depth of flavor. It can also be used as a primary ingredient in a low alcohol cocktail, which is what I’ve created in the Cinzano Rosso Spritz. Have I also mentioned that I love a spritz?!
Cinzano Rosso Spritz
2 oz Cinzano Rosso Vermouth
3-4 oz Sparkling Wine
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
Splash Soda Water
Garnish: Grapefruit Peel
Build drink in an ice-filled glass. Garnish.
Besides loving their vermouth, I’ve always adored the imagery in old Cinzano ads. This photoshoot was actually inspired by some of the graphics in Cinzano advertising over the years.
I also looked to its current logo. So clean, so graphic, so Italiano!
Try picking up a bottle of Cinzano Italian vermouth and play around with what you can make with it. Or just whip up the Cinzano Rosso Spritz. It’s a simple one and…questo cocktail è così buono!