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Just in time for peak Gin & Tonic season, the new Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic Water is hitting U.S. shelves. Taking inspiration from a 19th-century recipe that was favored by the British Royal Navy, the Aromatic Tonic gets its pink hue from the addition of angostura bark, a medicinal plant native to South America. With a sweet aroma of citrus and spice, the tonic has a brightly bitter snap that finishes dry and was crafted specifically to complement juniper-forward gins. As the recipe was inspired by the Royal Navy, we think it would be particularly well-suited with a navy-strength gin. $7, 200ml 4-pack, reservebar.com.

The post Drink of the Week: Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic Water appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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Bartender Lisa Nguyen throws a cocktail at Manolito in New Orleans.

It looks like a party trick. After combining ingredients in a shaker tin, the bartender softly rolls them around and starts to lift the half-moon tin in the air, letting the liquid trickle down in a glistening ribbon until it lands safely in the cradle of the other half of the shaker. This practice of “throwing” or “rolling” cocktails is a time-tested method of mixing that dates back to ancient Greece and Egypt, and it’s recently caught the interest of bartenders around the world.

Jared Brown, writer, educator, distiller and co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail and Mixellany, has spent a lot of time researching the origins of cocktail throwing. “The first time the words ‘cocktail shaker’ appeared in print, in 1869, the article described the mixer using the tins to throw,” he says. “I found an 1850 illustration of the El Dorado Hotel, San Francisco. In the background you can see a bartender throwing a non-flaming drink.” By the 1890s, however, throwing was heading into the shadows of bartending. “I found an article where two old bartenders watched a young bartender shake and pour,” Brown says. “One old timer commented to the other that the art of the profession was dead because the young bartender did not throw.”

But as an interest in all things old has spread among bartenders over the past decade, throwing has begun re-emerging. Brown cites Boadas in Barcelona as the place where things began to change. A young Spanish bartender named Albert Monserrat had traveled from the Las Rambles cocktail outpost to the short-lived New York wing of the Museum of the American cocktail to find information on throwing. “He was afraid it would die out completely,” says Brown. Inspired by the idea, Brown and wife Anistatia Miller traveled to Spain to learn more from Albert’s mentors, Doña Maria Delores Boadas and her husband Don Josep. “She was balletic in her effortless motions. She never broke eye contact. She never lost the thread of conversation. And when the drink was ready, she held that mixing glass high once again and let the drink plummet into a waiting cocktail glass like a circus high diver landing unharmed in a water barrel.”

Doña Maria Delores and Josep trained Brown and Miller on the technique, and they in turn began to spread the word. “We had a bar school on an island in the south of France and flew in top bartenders from around the world,” says Brown. “We taught them and they taught the next generation. A few of our friends followed our primary path as well, seeking out the Boadases and learning from them. I cannot begin to tell you how heartening it is to see throwing returning around the world.”

In New Orleans, Manolito owner Nick Detrich adopted the practice during his travels to Cuba. “Miguel Boadas, who owned Floridita prior to Constante Ribailagua, brought the technique with him from Barcelona to Cuba where it was heavily in practice until after Ribailagua’s death,” he says. “I think it’s an excellent technique for many drinks that have a substantial aromatized wine element to them: the Martini and El Presidente being foremost with Manolito.”

And Brown says it’s a simple technique to learn. “Recently, while giving a class to a group of bartenders, I discovered none of them had tried throwing, and none of them wanted to get singled out,” he recalls. “So I turned to the event photographer and I asked if he had ever made a cocktail. He had not. I got him to put down his camera and pick up a pair of tins. With a few easy instructions, his first ever throw was every bit as good as mine.”

Lindsay Matteson, whose résumé includes stints at Pouring Ribbons, Amor y Amargo, Canon and currently Barnacle, was one of Brown’s students. “I like it for a few reasons,” she says. “One is basic ergonomics—it’s a really easy motion on your body, because you’re working with gravity, so everything is working in your favor.” The former actress also favors the motion for its theatricality. “So much of what we talk about right now is the craft of making cocktails, but when you’re behind the bar you have to combine that with the art of bartending and entertain a room for 12 hours.” Rolling a cocktail is an easy way to catch the attention of a guest without much effort. “It’s not extraneous or extra effort in the same way that flair bartending is, but it is unexpected.”

Perhaps most importantly is that throwing also affects the texture of the drink. “When you’re throwing versus stirring, you’re adding aeration to the drink,” Matteson adds. “You’re not agitating the cocktail in the same way you would if you shook it, but you get this beautiful body and texture that you simply can’t get from stirring. It’s a beautiful, simple and elegant technique. It’s a win-win.”

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In the July/August 2018 issue, Jake Emen explores how blue curaçao has come back into favor with creative bartenders across the country. And since blue drinks seem to be especially perfect for summer, we’ve rounded up some recipes to bookmark for the season.

Blue Daydream
A balanced blend of rum, cognac, falernum and citrus.

Blue Hawaii
Invented in Honolulu in 1957, the Blue Hawaii cocktail is one of the original blue drinks.

Blue Ricardo
A combination of rum, coconut, passionfruit and pineapple from Fairweather in San Diego.

Corpse Reviver No. Blue
A playful recipe invented by Jacob Briars in 2007, with blue curaçao stepping in for Cointreau.

Sno-Cone
A careful balance of gin, white crème de cacao, lemon juice, Cocchi Americano, blue curaçao and cinnamon syrup.

Like what you see? Get more of the best of liquid culture when you sign up for our bi-monthly magazine. Subscribe now and save up to 59%—it’s just $21.95 for one year or $32.95 for two years. Click here for details.

The post Summer Sips: Blue Curaçao Cocktails appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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When Isaac Newton laid out his third law of motion, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, he probably wasn’t considering the cocktail renaissance. But as overtly serious cocktail bars became the norm in the early years of this century, a more lighthearted approach beckoned. Enter the Corpse Reviver No. Blue, the cocktail that many pinpoint as patient zero behind the comeback of an ingredient that had become synonymous with the schlocky, gimmick-laden drinks of past decades: blue curaçao. “It was a reaction I had to the super-seriousness that went along with the cocktail revival,” says Jacob Briars, who created the drink in 2007 and now serves as the global advocacy director for Bacardi. “The more serious the bar I was in, the more pleasure I took in ordering a blue drink.”

Briars’ creation—simply a classic Corpse Reviver No. 2 that swaps in the blue-tinted, orange-flavored ingredient for the traditional Cointreau—has held up for the past decade because its playful aesthetic actually delivers tried-and-true flavors. “It tastes broadly and very much like a classic cocktail from the 1920s and ’30s—it just happens to be blue,” Briars says. “That probably allowed it to be the Trojan horse for blue drinks getting a little bit of respectability again.”

Joaquín Simó, co-founder of Pouring Ribbons in New York City, which has featured blue drinks such as the Sno-Cone, recalls other early blue beacons of hope—from originals like the Shark, a drink from John deBary during his time at PDT, to cleaned-up disco drinks like the Blue Hawaii, which Portland, Oregon, bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler revamped at Pépé le Moko. The blue boom was buoyed by the 2015 arrival on the U.S. market of Giffard’s Curaçao Bleu, which showcases the bright, clean citrus notes and soft bitter backbone of the hybrid bitter orange Citrus aurantium, found on the liqueur’s namesake Caribbean island. The product helped fuel a blue revolution, Simó says, “because you weren’t stuck using a really crappy, really bad triple sec.”

With a quality option available, more bartenders have opened up to the blue stuff. “It has an association with bad drinks from the ’80s because of the sugary fake mixes it was paired with,” says Gaby Mlynarczyk, who serves a Blue Lagoon riff at Accomplice Bar in Los Angeles. “Pair it with something fresh and good quality, though, and it becomes a must-have behind the bar.”

Whether it’s used half-ironically or not, blue curaçao brings bartenders and drinkers back to the main reason for going out to a bar—to have fun. “Ultimately, the job of a bartender is to help a guest have a fantastic time,” Briars says. “Every time I served one of these drinks or ordered one for somebody, their eyes would light up and they’d start smiling or laughing.”

Suomi 100
Pine, spruce or juniper needles collected during a summer hike can be directed into this alpine-accented cocktail with a deep blue tinge.

1½ oz. gin
¾ oz. blue curaçao
¾ oz. forest syrup
1 oz. fresh lemon juice

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: coupe
Garnish: sugared half-rim

Prepare a chilled glass by moistening half of the rim with a cut lemon wedge, and dipping the rim into superfine sugar. Shake all the ingredients with ice, then strain into the prepared glass.

Forest Syrup: Combine 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat, then bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add a handful of pine, spruce or juniper needles and remove from the heat; let steep as the syrup cools, then strain before use. Keeps refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Sanna Tuomola, Chapter, Helsinki, Finland

“Blue Lagoon”
Blue drinks had their bad days, but Gaby Mlynarczyk cleaned up one classic recipe and serves the new-and-improved version at Accomplice.

1½ oz. white rum
1 oz. pineapple syrup
1 oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. blue curaçao
¼ oz. absinthe
½ oz. fresh egg white (pasteurized if you like)
1 drop vanilla extract
1 pinch smoked salt

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: coupe
Garnish: orange twist and orchid or cherry

Shake all the ingredients without ice for about 5 seconds, then add ice and shake again until chilled. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish.

Pineapple Syrup: In a blender, combine 1 cup of simple syrup (1:1) with 8 oz. of chopped pineapple (Accomplice roasts the pineapple beforehand to deepen the flavor, optional) and ¾ oz. of vodka to stabilize. Blend on high until smooth, then strain and bottle. Keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Gaby Mlynarczyk, Accomplice, Los Angeles

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The sounds are unmistakable—the plink of points earned, the chaotic 8-bit soundtracks, and the disappointing diminuendo that signals you’ve just died. The golden age of the arcade may have been in the early ’80s, but as dedicated gamers grew up and bar culture evolved, a new type of drinking establishment emerged: the barcade. “I wanted to recreate the feel of arcades back in the ’80s—lots of games and just crowded with people playing shoulder to shoulder,” says Jeffrey McEachin, CEO and co-founder of Ground Kontrol in Portland, Oregon.

Operating for nearly two decades now, Ground Kontrol is one of the country’s original bar-arcade hybrids. To be accurate, their original location was a straight-up arcade—too cramped to accommodate anything but games. When they moved to their current location in Portland’s Old Town in 2004, the bar was added and popularity swelled. “I’d say we’re definitely an arcade first, but we’re also a full bar,” says McEachin. “We have 20 taps and a menu of specialty cocktails that are video-game themed. The Princess Peach cocktail is always popular.”

McEachin didn’t pull the idea out of thin air, though. Bars were some of the original testing grounds for new arcade games, utilizing an already captive audience to see how many quarters a machine could earn. In 1971, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell installed his first cabinet game, Computer Space, in the Dutch Goose, a bar near Stanford University. Goldie’s on 45th, a now-defunct sports bar in Seattle’s University District, was one of two American bars to receive a test console of Donkey Kong from Nintendo before its official release in 1981 when the game swiftly became one of the most popular in the country. “Goldie’s was the original bar arcade. They were an inspiration for us,” says McEachin. “We don’t claim to have invented the concept; we’re just trying to perfect it.”

They’re not the only ones. On the opposite coast, four buddies in Brooklyn pooled their resources to open a bar dedicated to vintage arcade games and craft beer in 2004. They called their spot Barcade—a name they trademarked in 2007—and they now operate seven locations across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The business model has proved its worth, with arcade-bar hybrids planting roots in cities all over the country, including Washington, DC, Indianapolis, Austin, Detroit and Los Angeles. New versions are slated for a 2018 debut in cities including Tucson, San Jose, Norfolk and Las Vegas.

At Emporium, a string of arcade bars in Chicago (plus one in San Francisco) founded in 2012, owners approach the business with a “bar first” mentality, with a rotating selection of dozens of craft beers on draft and in cans and bottles, plus an extensive whiskey selection. But they’ve also broadened the arcade concept, with plenty of larger format games like air hockey and foosball, that encourage interaction. “The appeal was initially based in nostalgia for a lot of the folks who visited our bar,” says Jared Saul, Emporium’s director of development, pop-ups and beer. “Now that we’ve been at it for six years and have been fortunate to expand to include different locations [and] different styles of gaming, live music and other programming, I think that the enduring appeal for Emporium is definitely more community based.”

“Being nerdy is cool again!” says Mitchell Turino. He’s getting ready to open his own arcade bar—the first in Madison, Wisconsin—this summer, dubbed I/O in reference to the input-output interface between humans and electronics. “I think a lot of people in their 20s and 30s are just starting to get used to this adulting thing, and they feel nostalgic for a time without bills, jobs and political strife,” muses Turino. “The gaming community has always been around, but in the last decade it’s become easier to stay at home and play online rather than get people together. But when you combine that nostalgia with the desire for more social interaction, the arcade bar concept is right there in the middle.”

Ground Kontrol’s new lounge. Photo by Dylan Snow.

Nostalgia alone can only carry a concept so far, especially when targeting a niche from a specific era. So when the draw becomes social interaction as opposed to specific activities, arcade bars can bridge the gap and start to pull in new audiences and even non-gamers. “Now that younger generations are coming into the bars who maybe didn’t get to experience the old-school arcades of the ’80s and ’90s, we’re seeing them discover something old that is essentially ‘new’ to them,” Saul says.

At the end of June, Ground Kontrol opened the doors on an expansion that doubled their footprint to 7,000 square feet, and that includes more than 100 arcade cabinets, 40 pinball machines and, yup, a second bar. “I’ve always been worried about the kids growing up today who didn’t necessarily grow up playing the older games—what’s going to happen when they’re adults?” says McEachin. “But so far it still continues to be popular. I think a lot of it is that the games are so approachable; they’re designed to be easy to understand but difficult to master, so that’s how they suck you in and make you want to play again and again.”

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Emily Arden Wells is also known as Gastronomista. | Photo by Victoria Wright.

After living on the east coast for the last 16 years, Emily Arden Wells, founder and editor of Gastronimista.com, recently decided to move from New York City back to her hometown in Colorado. “The heart of Vail is Vail Mountain, the world-class skiing destination and its sister mountain, Beaver Creek,” she says. “It seems everyone has a favorite seasonal recreational activity here: skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, kayaking and fishing,” which makes for a great place to visit year-round. But in terms of the best food and drink, Arden Wells recommends thinking outside the heart of town to find the best hidden gems. “Much of the food and drink options in the town of Vail tend to be pricy and mediocre at best, so my husband and I, like many locals, venture down valley for more affordable and, frankly, better options.” Here, in her own words, are some of her favorite places in the Upper Eagle River Valley (which includes the towns of Vail, East Vail, West Vail, Eagle-Vail, Avon, Edwards and Eagle). “It’s a community that unrolls along the I-70 highway corridor, the artery that connects the state from East to West,” she says. “It’s been exciting to see how much the valley has changed since the last time I lived there”

Coffee: Color Coffee
Eagle is about 35 minutes west of Vail and it’s where almost all the young professionals live with their families. Coffee roasting has become trendy in Colorado in recent years, and fortunately for us, one of Western Colorado’s best roasters is in Eagle. Color Coffee sources single-origin beans from some of the world’s best coffee-producing regions, roasts all its beans in-house, and creates their own seasonal blends. One of my favorites is the Ghost Army blend that supports a Burton-sponsored snowboarding group that encourages people to get out on the mountain.

Color Coffee also serves a mean avocado toast, fresh pastries every day, and transforms into a wine and beer bar after dark. It’s the only place in the valley where I have found Stillwater beer, making it a mainstay in our weekly rotation.

The house cocktails at The Rose run the gamut of flavors. | Photo by Emily Arden Wells.

Beers & Tacos: Vail Brewing Co.
Colorado is famous for its craft beer, and even the sleepiest of mountain towns have their own local brewery. Vail is lucky to have the award-winning Vail Brewing Company located in the industrial spine of town, Eagle Vail, an establishment owned by self-proclaimed ski bums. Many of the beers are named after infamous runs on Vail Mountain, and my personal favorite, Tourist Trap, is a delightfully hoppy and juicy double IPA. Be warned, the Tourist Trap comes in at 8.5 percent ABV and the booze hits twice as hard at altitude. After all, Vail sits at 8,000 feet above sea level.

The artfully designed cans are available in almost all the local liquor stores, but summers at the brewery are a locals’ favorite. The patio is lined with old skis, local’s cruiser bikes, rugged-looking mountain dogs, and the line for the taco truck is always three or four deep. Don’t skip over the vegetarian taco, it’s one of the best around.

Aprés Ski: Remedy Bar
Beer and bad margaritas (somehow) dominate the scene for aprés ski at Vail Mountain, but if you’re looking for a more sophisticated libation head over to the Remedy Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel. The cocktail bar is flanked by long fireplaces and comfortable sofas that are the perfect retreat after a long day on the mountain. Order a Manhattan with extra cherries or a pour-over hot chocolate for a warm non-boozy treat.

Alternatively, more adventurous skiers take the “Minturn Mile” to Minturn’s Saloon, a locals’ favorite watering hole that still feels like the Wild West. The walls are covered in taxidermy, World Cup relics, and signed portraits of many of the famous clientele that have sat in their weathered bar stools. We always order a pitcher of Natural Margaritas (sans sour mix), and a plate of their famous ribs for a filling aprés ski snack.

Cocktail Hour: The Rose
Nestled into the Riverwalk commercial district in Edwards is The Rose, one of Vail Valley’s best-kept secrets for good food and drink. Belly up to the bar and order one of their seasonal cocktails, or if you happen to be there on a Tuesday, ask for their tiki menu (who says mountain towns can’t do tiki?!). Whatever you do, do not skip the food at The Rose. Their buffalo cauliflower is a great treat for naughty vegetarians, and they make amazing rotating specials like their kale caesar salad made with fried lemon slices. My favorite cocktail on the menu is the Botanist made with gin, basil and loads of cucumber.

Craftsman is a casual spot for good beer and cocktails. | Photo by Emily Arden Wells.

Dinner & Drinks: Craftsman
About five minutes away is Craftsman, a casual lunch and dinner spot that serves some of the most experimental food in the valley. Settle in with a pint of craft beer or one of their cocktails, such as the Hell Flower made with tequila, elderflower liqueur, lime and habanero bitters. The menu at Craftsman changes seasonally, but the mainstays are their fried chicken bahn mi, and their weekly ramen night on Tuesdays. I’m personally inclined towards their seasonal soups paired with the kale salad made with avocado, soft boiled eggs, bacon, and topped with green goddess dressing.

Day Trip: Bread Bar
Some of my favorite days off are spent at Bread Bar, the 1800s bread shop turned cocktail bar in Silver Plume, Colorado. The bar is about half-way between Denver and Vail and is a charming, tiny bar that feels more like a perfect house party than a legitimate establishment. Look out for some of Denver’s best bartenders doing guest shifts, and rotating chefs who cook on camping equipment in the bar’s backyard. Inside, acoustic live music harks to a different era, and on the back deck there’s usually a campfire, giving reason for patrons to squeeze closer together on the chilliest of nights. The bar attracts people from the front range, the mountains, and many of the town’s eclectic locals—an entertaining tribe who love a cocktail or three and are sure to tell meandering stories to anyone who will listen. Plan accordingly: drinking and driving never mix, so designate a driver early in the evening or plan to stay in one of the town’s creaky B&Bs.

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The speakeasy-style bar has hidden in many unusual locations around the world (think nondescript doors, flower shops, hot dog stands and phone booths, etc.) but San Diego’s Raised By Wolves might be the first within a luxury mall. From the same creative team behind Polite Provisions and Craft and Commerce, the new drinking den has delivered adventurous cocktails in an opulent atmosphere since opening this spring.

For the part-bar, part-bottle shop concept, partners Anthony Schmidt, Chris Patino and Erick Castro chose the Westfield UTC location for a simple reason: the neighborhood needed good cocktails. “It was an opportunity to essentially bring a more urban-minded focus and mentality to a more suburban crowd,” says Patino, whose resumé includes time spent as brand ambassador for Absolut and Plymouth Gin. “Just because you leave the city life behind, shouldn’t mean that you should be deprived of a well-made craft cocktail in a well thought-out and intimate setting.” Castro shares the same attitude, adding that opening bars in underserved areas is part of their mission as a company. “When Polite Provisions first opened, people thought we were crazy because there were no cocktail bars in that neighborhood. Of course, now we’re like one of seven cocktail bars in that area,” he says. “We want to provide the community a place to get together over a cocktail.”

Named after the tale of brothers Romulus and Remus from Roman mythology (“wolves are caring, loyal, nurturing, not to mention socially connected animals, and those are exactly the values that we strive to promote at Raised by Wolves,” Patino explains), the bar puts a lavish foot forward with its decor. Designed by Paul Basile of BASILE Studio, who also did the schemes for San Diego bars Born and Raised, Kindred and Craft & Commerce, the decor was inspired by French Art Nouveau and Victorian Rococo Revival styles. “We wanted guests to be physically transported from a contemporary suburban shopping center into 19th century Paris or London,” says Basile. “Once they cross that threshold, the deeper they go into the space, the more they forget where they are and are able to become totally immersed in the experience.” From the storefront, which resembles those that border cobblestone streets in European cities, to the central Nouveau gazebo that comes into focus in the center of the room upon entry, everything was inspired by “enduring antique craftsmanship,” Balise says.

“We wanted the place to be opulent,” Castro adds, citing inspiration from the London hotel bars he’s visited over the years. “In those world-class hotel bars with so much history; nothing’s done without consideration, foresight and thought. That’s what we wanted [Wolves] to be like. We wanted to take every single thing, from the outlets and the lighting to the music, to be deliberate and well considered.”

The adjacent bottle shop required a little more legwork on the licensing and permitting side of the business, but it was an obvious choice to include from the get-go, says Patino. “Being in a mall inspired us to think outside the box a bit more, and that led us to building out the retail shop. I mean, it makes sense; we’re in a mall, so let’s open up a shop filled with all of the brands (not to mention books, barware, etc.) that we would want to share with our friends and family if we were having them over,” he says. “Plus, how often have you been out for a drink and had an amazing cocktail that you couldn’t wait to tell your friends about? Well, now you can buy everything you need to make that drink on your way out the door.”

Offering an array of spirits that will appeal to “the most hardcore spirits nerd in town but also people who just happen to be walking through the mall,” Castro says, the bottle shop aims to be one-stop for cocktail-making staples, plus a few oddities and novelties. Patino cites Old Fitzgerald from the 1960s, pre-fire Elijah Craig and Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year as examples. “We even sell bottles from a number of the private barrels that we hand select ourselves,” Patino adds. “Basically, we have everything from the extravagant to the economical, but we’re really just looking for great spirits with great stories.”

Behind the bar, Castro embraces a similarly adventuresome spirit. With the cocktail program, he aimed to ditch boring menu tropes and let his creative side run wild. “Since the bar is kind of unexpected, I wanted the cocktails to be unexpected, too,” he says. Cocktails like the Dreadlock Holiday, his White Negroni variation, and the house Old Fashioned with coconut fat-washed Irish whiskey, banana liqueur and bitters, show playfulness within earshot of the classics. Others, like the whiskey-based tiki gem the Iron Ranger and the Boogie Board—a bold mix of Navy strength gin, honeydew, pineapple and coconut that’s flash blended to achieve a fluffy texture—demonstrate Castro’s agility when left to his own devices.

With plenty of foot traffic at the high-end mall complex, the bar is sure to attract plenty of locals, but with the powerful combo of extravagant design and outside-the-box cocktails, Raised by Wolves might end up as a can’t-miss cocktail destination for enthusiasts nationwide, too.

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For those who’ve been to Tales of the Cocktail, the scene rings familiar: every Sunday as storm clouds inevitably roll through the New Orleans sky, Washington Square Park fills with hungry (and sometimes hungover) bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts eager to gather for cups of trash-can punch and plates of roasted pork. Conversation and camaraderie ring as vibrant and soulful as the brass band that often pipes throughout the park as the event stretches through the afternoon.

Pig & Punch has capped off Tales for the past eight years with its signature blend of laid-back fun, but for attendees and locals alike, the event has evolved to represent so much more than an afternoon of food and drink. The Bon Vivants founder Josh Harris attended his first Tales in 2009, and as a young bartender enamored with the festival, he knew he wanted to be involved in some capacity. “I thought about Tales as a place to do some kind of event that would be in line with what our values were as a company, both from a giving point of view but also stylistically,” he says. Tapping into the punch trend (which was pervasive at the time in cocktail bars around the country) helped create something that would stray from the theatricality of other events that punctuate the week. “Let’s have it be more about cocktails and drinking as a conduit to community, and have it be a little more relaxed,” he thought.

But Harris wanted to do more than just throw a party. A concurrent conversation about volunteer work began. “Our thinking was that we go to Tales and we do a lot of taking from a town that’s really generous and that we all love, and it would be really cool if we were able to give back in some way.” In 2010, they reached out to an organization called Hands on New Orleans, which set up a trial run with KIPP New Orleans, a nonprofit network of college prep and charter schools. “We didn’t know what we were going to be doing, but we got a group of 11 people together—some close friends and a couple of other bartenders we had become friends with—and they took us to Frederick Douglas High School, which is now a KIPP primary school,” Harris says. The team painted, moved heavy items and helped out with other organizational tasks. “After we volunteered, we learned that KIPP was a large and respected organization in New Orleans, and that we liked their values and mission statement.” The relationship became a long-lasting one, and a subsequent idea to donate the proceeds from shirts and swag sold at the Sunday punch party seemed like an extra way to help out. “The first year we raised $1,610, and we were so pumped about it.”

Fast forward to today: volunteer numbers have grown to between 100-200 in New Orleans, and The Bon Vivants have since expanded the event beyond the Crescent City with one-off volunteer days happening in conjunction with cocktail festivals and events in Portland, New York, Austin, San Francisco, San Antonio and Miami. 9,371 hours of labor have been dedicated and a total of $366,350 has been donated to various organizations from the event series as a whole.

Kristen Chawla, TK with KIPP, says their contributions to the maintenance and upkeep of various school sites in New Orleans alone has been invaluable. “Post-Katrina was a hot time for volunteer groups to come to New Orleans, but over the years, those resources have started to trickle out,” she says. “We’re seeing less money coming into the city from donors and organizations because everyone is focusing on other cities that have had trauma and crisis. And yet the Bon Vivants commit to coming back every year.”

“Our thinking was that we go to Tales and we do a lot of taking from a town that’s really generous and that we all love, and it would be really cool if we were able to give back in some way.”

In 2018, the crew might be the only group to visit the school, when KIPP normally sees 8-12 volunteer groups in a calendar year. The volunteer day helps with some of the necessary nitty gritty work at each campus. “One year we took over a school where another school had previously been, and it was really a mess with leftover furniture and boxes of books and equipment. They hauled all of that out and filled an entire dumpster in like two hours,” Chawla recalls. “There are things like that where they’re just unbelievable. They never say no, there’s never a job too dirty or heavy for them, and they do it with smiles and appreciation.”

Equally as important, the annual donation from Pig & Punch means having the resources and funding for KIPP to do things like cover a teacher’s resident salary for a year or fund professional staff development days for more than 600 team members. “The greatest gift in a single year was $36,948, and the total amount given to KIPP New Orleans Schools is just over $164,000,” Chawla says. “They’re truly some of the most genuine people to come to New Orleans, because they are clearly committed to giving back to a community. It’s really a very, very special day for us.”

When Tales of the Cocktail ownership changed earlier this year, the question of continued involvement was raised. “It was a logical time to think about whether we’d continue to do Pig & Punch,” Harris says. He reached out to Neal Bodenheimer, one of the new owners and someone Harris calls a “kindred spirit,” to discuss how to move forward. “We had a long conversation about how it was important to us to feel connected to Tales and for us to be supported by Tales. Not that we had gripes from our previous relationship, but we saw it as an opportunity to evolve with what the partnership looked like.”

For Bodenheimer, Pig & Punch was a staple that simply couldn’t disappear. “Bartenders are wired to take care of others, and it’s inspiring to go out and have a good time but also do something good. The ladies and gents of the Bon Vivants have always done a really great job of doing good and creating community and pushing us all to be better people, better bartenders. Pig & Punch represents the best of our business.”

This year, volunteers will return to KIPP to help paint three floors of hallways and classrooms, and a few new changes will influence the Sunday punch party as well. One thing Tales management helped assist with is the location. Instead of returning to Washington Square Park, tents will set up at Crescent City Park near the French Market. “It’s a massive covered area, like the size of a football field, and when that terminates it’s a park, so if its going to rain we can just slide it under the covered area,” Harris says. “They do a lot of farmers markets there so there are bathrooms, and it’s right on the water so paddle boats are going by. It’ll be really cool. We’re excited about that move.”

Tales of the Cocktail also helped connect The Bon Vivants with the Link Stryjewski Group for this year’s all-star lineup of chefs. Brian Burns of Peche, Billy Jones of Cochon, David Rouse of Herbsaint and Bret Macris of Butcher will join Chef Marcus from Marjie’s Grill to bring their takes on pig roast to the party. The music programming will be significantly larger this year with longtime Pig & Punch supporters DBA partnering to present the musical lineup. And while there’s always a solid group of sponsors that help bring the event to fruition every year, this year The Edrington Group has also agreed to match donations to KIPP. “They’re doing so independently of any sponsorship and brands,” Harris explains. “It’s in line with their mission of giving, and they want to support in a bigger way. Finding ways to give KIPP even more is really exciting for us.”

If you’re heading to New Orleans this month for Tales of the Cocktail and are interested in volunteering at the 9th annual volunteer day, get more details and sign up here. Otherwise, we’ll see you at Pig & Punch when it returns bigger and better on Sunday, July 22 from noon to 5 p.m. More details can be found via Tales of the Cocktail.

Like what you see? Get more of the best of liquid culture when you sign up for our bi-monthly magazine. Subscribe now and save up to 59%—it’s just $21.95 for one year or $32.95 for two years. Click here for details.

The post A Look Back on Eight Years Of Pig & Punch appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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With their juicy sweetness, watermelons are one of summer’s most delicious drink ingredients. Here are some of our favorite watermelon cocktail recipes.

Calebassito Cocktail
Mezcal anchors this cocktail from Mexico City.

Confederados Cocktail
A tangy watermelon shrub helps to brighten up this cachaça-fueled cooler.

Sandia Watermelon Cocktail
Juicy watermelon couldn’t find a better liquid match than tequila.

Melons Rising
A refreshing watermelon cocktail for gin lovers.

Tequila Watermelon Slushy
A frozen margarita with fresh, sweet watermelon balanced by bitter Aperol.

Water Tower Watermelon Cocktail
This satisfying highball features only two ingredients.

Watermelon and Mint Punchin’ Bag
Choose your own flavor adventure with this creative recipe.

Watermelon Sling
Watermelon, white whiskey and Aperol pack a summery punch.

Watermelon Cucumber Margarita
Cool, clean cucumber pairs perfectly with bright watermelon in this riff on the classic Margarita.

The post Watermelon Cocktails for July 4th appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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Fred Waring with his Miracle Mixer.

Waring Blender (‘wair-ing /’blen-dər/), n.

Occupying the center of a Venn diagram where Industrial Progress and Callow Wantonness overlap is a shiny, high-pitched object. It is the Waring Blender.

Introduced in 1937 at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago (and originally billed as the Miracle Mixer), the blender was a compact silo of mechanical might, something powerful enough to defeat the stuff that sank the Titanic, yet compact enough to sit on a bar top. About a year after its debut, the mixer was rebranded as the Waring Blendor, with the intentional misspelling enabling the owners to claim a trademark. (The patent was for a “disintegrating mixer for producing fluent substances.”) And Waring? He was best known as the bandleader of Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, one of the most popular dance bands of the 1930s.

One day after performing on the radio, Waring was approached by an inventor named Frederick Osius. His fellow inventor, Stephen Poplawski, had been working on a powerful motorized mixer for more than a decade and Osius sought to improve upon it. It blended via a propeller at the bottom of a tall, sealed glass jar, marking an improvement over the earlier wand-like mixers sold since 1911 by Hamilton Beach and common in milkshake shops.

Waring—who had a degree in architectural engineering—was intrigued. He agreed to back it with a $25,000 investment, and after some tweaking it went into production. He lent it his name and touted it on his tours; it took off, ushering in a small mania for puréed foods. It also proved a boon for researchers in medical labs, who employed it in the liquefying of feces and frog testicles, among other things. (On a less disturbing medical note, Jonas Salk used a Waring in coming up with his polio vaccine.)

But it was in frozen adult potions that the Waring Blender (as it was eventually spelled) made its most lasting mark. For the rise of the blender occurred a mere three years after Don the Beachcomber opened his first bar in Los Angeles, and where he invented the exotic tropical cocktail, later called the tiki drink. Recipe and machine would eventually meet and establish a new class of cocktail—the frozen slushy drink.

The history of cocktails from 1800 to about 1950 is really the story of the miniaturization of cold. Cocktail ice started as massive blocks wrenched from frozen ponds and shipped south in insulated ships. These helped spur the early 19th-century cocktail boom, with bartenders wielding ice picks to hack out suitably sized chunks. Other hand tools were soon conscripted, including mallets, canvas bags and planers that led to the making of everything from pebble ice for cobblers to snow-like drifts to pack silver julep cups.

The Waring Blender became vital almost overnight. The tiki bars then cropping up found that a blender made much shorter work of producing icy drinks than shaking with shaved ice. The Waring crossed the Straits of Florida to Havana, where it was embraced by legendary bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, famous for his Daiquiri variations. By 1939, cocktail writer Charles H. Baker Jr. felt the need to “remind our readers that a decent electric mixer is just as necessary on any well-equipped bar these days as a horse in a stable.” He cited the “new style Daiquiri” as one of the drinks now requiring machinery. “There is no wrist strong or deft enough to make any mix of liquid and cracked ice turned into frosted sherbet-like consistency so essential to these examples.” (He went on to graciously add, “We do not even know Mr. Waring, but we like his music and his Blender.”)

The 1950s through the ’70s flowered as the golden age of the blender drink, and the sounds of high-volume whirring filled barrooms. Drinks like the Piña Colada were invented thanks to Mr. Waring, and Margaritas made the move from shaker to blender. (In 1971 the Margarita became captive to the DQ-like frozen-drink machine, from which it was not freed until relatively recently.)

The blender continued to be viewed askance by the league of cocktail purists, who valued the “chukka-chukka” sound of a shaken drink. But most holdouts died or capitulated, even including dyspeptic novelist Kingsley Amis, who wrote in the ’70s, “I hate the things, but I cannot think of a manual method that will do the job effectively.”

Many speakeasy revivalist bars have eschewed blenders, preferring to do everything by hand, like mustachioed cabinet makers with their leather aprons and hand-held Dozuki saws. Others find the noise can disrupt the vintage atmosphere for which they strive. Having a blender on a bar is like living near an airport—convenient and modern, yet annoying as all hell. Some bars have dealt with this by entombing mixers in transparent sound-dampening boxes, like war criminals awaiting trial. It’s my experience that only drinks without character emerge from these.

Yes, the noise can be unfortunate when you’re enjoying a quiet conversation at the bar. But if you find yourself perturbed by the din and clamor, and feel as if you’ve suddenly taken up residence in a machine metal shop, allow yourself a moment to savor the sound. It’s an echo of the 1930s. The golden age of industry is tapping you on the shoulder, inquiring if you would care for a refreshing frozen drink.

Like what you see? Get more of the best of liquid culture when you sign up for our bi-monthly magazine. Subscribe now and save up to 59%—it’s just $21.95 for one year or $32.95 for two years. Click here for details.

The post The Waring Blender’s Lasting Mark appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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