When Life Hands You Tomatoes, Make a Bloody!



In addition to the endless, often-intimidating weekly supply of cucumbers, onions, and miscellaneous veggies from our West Village CSA, we were the lucky recipients of 35 pounds (yes thirty-five) of fresh heirloom tomatoes.  And since I got a pretty grueling workout lugging them around from the West Village to my apartment, I knew I deserved a cocktail (or two)!

I’ve wanted to try to craft a homemade Bloody mix before, but it’s a rather time-consuming process.  On top of that, most recipes still call for using canned, preservative-packed tomato juice or canned, peeled tomatoes, so it always seemed like a bit of a waste to craft something from pre-made products, especially when there are some fantastic mixes out there (like the Employees Only line of mix).  But given I had all the fresh ingredients needed to make a 100% natural mix, I began to do my research.

I pulled from a variety of really great canning recipes for inspiration, like this fantastic and thorough one from The Runaway Spoon or this one from SB Canning.

So when life hands you 35 pounds of tomatoes, make a Bloody Mary!

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix
(inspired by The Runaway Spoon)


  • 10 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered (no need to remove the seeds, we’ll do that later)
  • 3-4 pepper, quartered (same note as above for seeds)
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, torn
  • 1 –inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Hot sauce to taste


  • Place all vegetables into a Dutch oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables have softened.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend ingredients to a desired consistency (note that this step saves quite a bit of time—no need to chop diligently during the prep process or transfer to a blender at the end of the cooking process).
  • Run mixture through a food mill to remove all seeds and skins and return it to the pot.
  • Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Bring the mix to a boil and boil for 15 minutes.
  • Chill, add 1.5 ounces vodka (for a Bloody Mary) or 1.5 ounces Bourbon (for a Bourbon Mary) or 1.5 ounces Tequila (for a Bloody Maria).  Enjoy!

Bloody3     Bloody2

Big Blends of the Highlands


Since we’ve already discussed just how prominent Blended Whiskies are as compared to their Single Malt counterparts, then Glenturret & Aberfeldy (coming tomorrow) are two great places to discuss further, as they make up the key building blocks to two of the world’s most loved Blended Whiskies: Famous Grouse & Dewar’s.

Glenturret Distillery is located a mere hour away from Glasgow, and as such, it’s one of the most visited distilleries in all of Scotland.  It’s also the facility that houses “The Famous Grouse Experience,” a state-of-the-art visitor center geared toward (you guessed it), their best-selling blend.

While Blended Whiskies don’t really have a rightful home, often their consumer-facing Visitor Centers are located at the home of their most prominent Single Malt blending components.  Such is the case with Glenturret, a Single Malt distilleries focused on their iconic Grouse brand.

Famous Grouse is part of the Edrington portfolio, a collection of other notable whiskies including Highland Park and Macallan.  Until 2014, Remy Cointreau had served as the Edrington importer in the U.S., but late last year, the company announced the creation of their own operation here in the U.S.

The Famous Grouse has four main expressions that make their portfolio:

THE FAMOUS GROUSE — their classic blend

THE SNOW GROUSE — designed to be served cold

THE BLACK GROUSE — with smokier hints than their signature Grouse

THE NAKED GROUSE — matured in sherry casks

The brand also offers a handful of Glenturret Single Malt expressions.


A Farewell Cocktail for a New York Legend

As Eater and the NY Times have both reported, long-time New Yorker and bartending legend Jim Meehan is packing up his bar tools and moving to Portland.  Though he’s a Midwesterner by blood, Jim has been a staple in the NYC bar community, and has created two of the world’s most iconic cocktail bars, PDT and Death & Co.  He’s written for countless publications, including Food & Wine and GQ, published his own books, and even created the most over-the-top, One Percenter bar carryall out there (if you’ve got $800 to spare, that is).

But Jim isn’t one of my favorite bartenders for those reasons, it’s because he’s a great guy.  Part Midwestern Nice, part Bar Nerd, he’s been one of my favorite people to work with here in New York.  New York will miss him, but Portland is lucky to be getting one of the country’s best.

In honor of his impending departure, I’ll be mixing a drink in his honor tonight.  It’s an Arnold Palmer riff he created for a Canadian Whisky event we worked on together last year.  The perfect drink to toast to him tonight on this balmy summer day.

Cheers to you, and happy trails!



  • 3 oz. Strong Brewed Iced Tea (Jim recommends Ceylon Iced Tea from In Pursuit of Tea)
  • 1.25 oz. Crown Royal Canadian Whisky (or other Canadian Whisky)
  • .5 oz. Lemon Juice
  • .5 oz. Simple Syrup
  • .25 oz. Fernet Branca


Stir and strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice.  Garnish with half an orange wheel.

The Scotch Life: The Best Cure for Jetlag? Whisky.


What’s the best cure for jetlag?  SCOTCH.  That was the first thing we learned when stepping off the plane, when we were transported to Diageo’s newest facility in the Highlands, the Diageo Whisky Archive at Menstrie.  Simply put: when we walked into this room, with bottles stacked as high as the library’s 18-foot ceiling, it completely slipped my mind that I was running on a time change.

With our jetlag promptly cured and forgotten, we spent some time culling through hundreds of glass cases jam packed with spirits bottles, some dating back hundreds of years.  It was there that we had a small whisky primer, delivered by Nick Morgan of Diageo.


From there, we toured Cambus, Diageo’s cooperage, to get a bit of an overview on the barrel making process.  While a cooperage is essentially a working factory (with none of the sex appeal of the Scotch distilleries, warehouses, or their glamorous visitor centers), it does help demonstrate how much care and attention goes into the entire whisky-making process; as we know with American Whiskey, the aging process is just as important at the distilling process, and a well-produced barrel is of paramount importance.

Here’s what we learned from Diageo: as mentioned previously, the overwhelming volume in the Scotch Whisky category globally comes from blended Scotch Whisky sales.  Yes, the single malts that are the building blocks for these blends are fantastic on their own (each with a distinct flavor profile and character), but they are fundamentally ingredients for blends.

Second, the industry is just as much about technological innovation as it is about upholding the traditional whisky styles that have been perfected over hundreds of years.

The most obvious takeaway, however, was the sheer magnitude of the Diageo portfolio.  At its core, Diageo is a whisky company, and owns around 30 distilleries in Scotland.


The Scotch Life (Pinch Me Edition)


In addition to regular visits to some of the most iconic distilleries here in the U.S., I also have the privilege to explore the distillery landscape overseas.  While my friends and family’s work trips consist of in-office meetings to discuss synergy and other headache-inducing buzzwords, I’m lucky enough to spend my time touring, tasting, and learning about this dynamic, crazy industry I love.

In late June, I took off for an 8-day adventure in Scotland.  12 distilleries, hundreds of miles, meaty meals that would make a vegetarian cry, castles with ghost-storied histories, and one hell of an adventure.  It brought to me to the Highlands, the Lowlands, to Speyside and Islay.

It only took me 3 weeks to post, but I lived to tell about it.

Here it is, my Scotch files…

But first, a quick Scotch 101.  Here are the basics.  

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, SCOTCH WHISKY is:

  • Produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added)
  • Distilled to less than 190 proof
  • Wholly matured in Scotland in oak casks
  • Aged for at least 3 years
  • Contains no added substances, other than water and plain caramel coloring
  • Bottled at last least 80 proof


  1. Single Malt: produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills
  2. Single Grain: distilled at a single distillery but which, in addition to water and malted barley, may also be produced from whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals
  3. Blended Malt: a blend of two or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies from different distilleries
  4. Blended Scotch Whisky: a combination of one of more Single Malt and Single Grain whiskies
  5. Blended Grain Whiskey: a blend of two or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies from different distilleries


Image courtesy of SWA

Image courtesy of SWA


There are a handful of different Scotch Whisky regions.  Though the regions tend to be associated with specific flavor profiles (like Islay, known for its big, smoky Scotches), these are by no means hard and fast rules.  There are plenty of exceptions within each region, so use the regions as a geographical guide, not necessarily a flavor-driven guide.

Keeping Categories in Perspective.  As Nick Morgan, Head of Whisky Outreach for Diageo noted, the behemoth within the Scotch industry isn’t the much-loved, much-covered, much-buzzed about Single Malt category, it’s Blended Scotch Whisky, which accounts for well over 90% of all Scotch Whisky sales globally.  At their core, Single Malts are the key building blocks and blending components for the massive Blended Scotch Whisky category. 


LIKE BOURBON & IRISH WHISKEY, SCOTCH IS ALSO CONTRIBUTING TO THE GLOBAL WHISKEY BOOM.  According to the Distilled Spirits Council, 9.6 million 9-liter cases of Scotch were sold in the United States in 2013, generating nearly $2 billion in revenues for distillers.

Wonders of Summer: Blueberry Currant Whiskey Smash

Blueberry Currant Smash_1Blueberry Currant Smash_2
This summer, I’m participating in the West Village CSA, a local farm share, which means that once a week, I’m the lucky recipient of a hodgepodge of organic, New York-grown produce.

While every Tuesday feels like Christmas in July (as I eagerly rip open up my overstuffed bags of each week’s harvest), that moment of sheer joy quickly tranforms into that odd feeling at the end of a White Elephant Holiday Party.  I always feel like I’m leaving with an assortment of the most random things possible, and I’m never quite sure if I’m losing or winning.

Either way, it’s a great exercise that forces me to get creative in the kitchen, and most importantly, in the bar.

Here’s what I whipped up last night with a half pint full of fresh summer currants.

Happy sipping!




  • 1.5 ounces Bourbon whiskey (I used Jim Beam Signature Craft)
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce currant-infused simple syrup (recipe below)
  • Blueberries


Muddle a small handful of blueberries in a cocktail shaker.  Add bourbon, lemon and simple syrup and pour into a rocks glass filled partially with crushed ice.  Stir.  Fill rest of glass with crushed ice, and garnish with blueberries or fresh mint.



  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh currants


Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil.  Once all sugar has dissolved (the liquid will be clear), add the currants and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, strain and refrigerate until use.

Currant Syrup

Summer League Kickoff: Whiskey League Loves Hillrock

Our official League rendezvous haven’t been as regular as of late, because we all know just how crazy summer schedules get.  But we did take the time out for a pretty awesome tasting with Danielle Eddy, a former colleague and one of the baddest whiskey chicks on this planet, who so generously hosted a rooftop Hillrock soiree.

For those of you already in the know, I haven’t met a soul who hasn’t loved their products.  For those of you who just haven’t had it yet, you can thank me (and Danielle) later.

Hillrock Estate Distillery is one of the shiniest, brightest starts to come out of the Hudson Valley over the past few years.  They’ve coined the “field to glass” notion, and claim to carefully manage every step of the whiskey-making process, which begins with the best quality, local grains.

In addition to loving the product and their fearless PR guru, Hillrock was carefully crafted by one of my favorite people on the planet, Master Distiller Dave Pickerell.  Dave was a former Maker’s Mark distiller and is one of the best resources in this industry.  In addition to being one of the most jovial and warmest guys in booze, he’s a whip-smart chemist who has consulted for more than 50 spirits brands.  Odds are you have at least one of his projects in your bar right now.  Quite simply put: if Dave made it, it has to be good.

In addition to creating the first-ever Solera-Aged Bourbon on the market, the brand has two recent introductions, a Single Malt and a Double Barrel Rye.

Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey

  • First bourbon to be aged using a traditional Solera method, which is then finished in Oloroso sherry casks, giving it some really nice dried fruit character.
  • What is Solera Aging, you ask?  Here’s a great description from Imbibe

Hillrock Estate Distillery Single Malt Whiskey

  • Created entirely from estate grown barley, malted on the floors at Hillrock’s Malthouse (a cool point of difference, given most malts are sourced or partly-sourced from third parties). 
  • Completely unpeated, so Islay lovers like me need to look at this one through a different lens.  Hillrock notes that because it is completely unpeated, it’s more reminiscent of an Irish Whiskey.  (Irish Whiskey is typically triple distilled and entirely unpeated, so it carries a more mellow flavor profile)

Hillrock Estate Distillery Double Cask Rye Whiskey

  • Double-matured, first in traditional oak casks and then heavily charred American white oak (they use a #4 level char—the highest char level out there).

Why Hillrock Matters:  I know many of us suffer from New-York-is-the-Center-of-the-Universe Syndrome (because, duh, it is), so the fantastic growth of the New York State distilling scene can only better support that argument.  The state has its own active Distillers Guild (as many other states do), which works regularly with Governor Cuomo.   We all know that the wine scene in New York State has been on the rise for some time, so it’s great to see the distilling scene excelling as well.

Second, those of us within the industry who have experience working with the large drinks companies and global leaders are often skeptical about the small distiller movement.  While there’s no doubt it’s here (and here to stay), we all agree it makes both sides of the industry better.  There’s a wealth of experimentation going on among the small, independent producers, which pushes the large, global brands to be nimble and creative as well.  And while it’s bringing a host of new offerings to the consumer (a great thing), sometimes the creativity trumps the quality with these small brands.  Hillrock is a shining example of a small distillery offering a different, yet excellent product.

So take a day trip up there.  They’re open for tours and tastings.


Hillrock Single Malt

Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey

Bourbon Balls (the perfect, boozy compliment to a drink)

Bourbon Balls (the perfect, boozy compliment to a drink)

Watering Hole Wonder: Bacchanal

When Naren Young gets behind the bar, you know great things are bound to happen, just as they did at Saxon & Parole and Empellon.  When he creates the entire cocktail program, you can pretty much bet it’s a home run.  And so far, it looks like he’s hit it out of the park with Bachhanal, his newest venture down on the Bowery.

While I didn’t feel cool enough to even walk around in that ‘hood (in my life, hipster is the last descriptor anyone would ever use to describe me), I donned my chambray and put on my heels to check out the scene behind the bar.  And I’m so glad I did.

Yes, the food is good.  A little overpriced, but really excellent fare.  But it can’t hold a candle to the attention the cocktail menu is getting.  I mean, can we have just a second to talk about the “Spring 2014,” a delightful and refreshing combination of aquavit, pernod absinthe, sherry, FRESH SNAP PEAS and thyme?  Who needs that salad at lunch when I can get my greens with a side of absinthe?

I hope you too will make like a hipster and hit this Chinatown spot pronto.

Knowing Naren, the menu will change frequently, but if you’re lucky enough to see these on the menu, be sure to sample while you can.

Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail

Knob creek rye, maple, Jerry Thomas bitters, smoked ice

Summer Of Vermouth

Martini & Rossi ‘Rosato’, Aperol, rhubarb shrub, strawberry, fruit salad

146 Bowery (Between Grand & Broome St)
New York 10013
(646) 355-1840

Liquor.com’s Noah Rothbaum Toasts With the Women’s Whiskey League

The League is reeling from a truly awesome night last night.  We were lucky enough to have Noah Rothbaum, Editor in Chief of Liquor.com, in our presence for a Whiskey 101 lecture and tasting.


That’s the best part about the League.  We’re a bevy of ladies, and though our level of knowledge surrounding whiskey varies, we all share an interest in learning more.   And that’s part of the beauty of the whiskey category too:  even when you know a lot, there’s always more to know.  The category is dynamic, exciting and ever-evolving.  Much like our palates.  The more you know (and taste), the better you pick up on the nuances of these complex spirits.

Noah’s story is truly awesome.  He’s a seasoned spirits writer who has written for a wide variety of publications.  When we first met, he was the spirits guy for Men’s Fitness.  5 years later, he’s Editor in Chief and Founder of Liquor.com, a wonderful resource on the industry that, like our lecture last night, shares insight for spirits fans of every knowledge level.

We had a whopping 33 folks in attendance, and for the first time ever, we allowed our ladies to bring their significant others.  We usually talk about them anyway behind their backs at League, so we figured why not be able to do it to their faces for once.  And I have to say, the addition of some of the dudes in the room was really nice.  They asked poignant questions and shared a totally different perspective.  Let me be clear: we are a WOMEN’S league, so this is a once-a-year type thing, but it was a nice, refreshing change-up.

Now, much of what we covered has already been shared in previous posts (whiskey basics), but here are some of the biggest takeaways:


  • As we’ve said before, one whiskey isn’t necessarily better than another.  It’s all about preference (I hear my mother right now, she’s saying, “that’s what makes horse races”).  And that’s the beauty of the whiskey category (and the spirits industry on the whole): there are literally HUNDREDS of different whiskey styles (Bourbon, Rye, Tennessee, Irish, Scotch, Japanese, Indian, Single Malt, Blended, etc.) in every price category.  What works for some doesn’t do it for others.  I’m an Islay freak myself, but most of my girlfriends tell me I smell like the creepy old man at the bar everyone seems to recognize because he’s ALWAYS there and reeks of Marlboro Reds.  Whatever, I’m into it.


  • Bourbon is perhaps the most regulated of all whiskey types, and the U.S. government works rigorously to defend the category and encourage other countries to recognize it as a distinctive product of the U.S.  Bourbon cannot be Bourbon unless it’s made here at home.
  • Rye is the original whiskey grain.  It was rye whiskey that was made back when George Washington was a distiller (it was the predominant grain found along the East Coast).  Though we’ve seen a massive rye boom in the last few years, it is really our nation’s first whiskey grain.  Corn later became a primary the ingredient as it grew better in areas like Tennessee and Kentucky.


  • Don’t tell a Scotch purist, but the Irish claim to have created the first whiskeys when Irish monks brought distilling techniques to the Green Isle.


  • We tend to forget that although we all focus on Single Malts, somewhere between 80 and 90% of all Scotch whisky sold is blended whisky.  Single Malts, while really great, are a tiny little drop in the bucket in the Scotch whisky industry.


Lastly, I leave you with a fun celeb fact that Noah shared with us.  As if we didn’t already love him enough, we love him more for knowing that the way to a lady’s heart is through her irrational fascination with all things celebrity culture.

Did you know that Isla Fisher, one of our favorite actresses, who also wins brownie points for her adorable Australian accent and self-deprecating humor, is named after my favorite island in the world, Islay?  

Like I needed a reason to love her more.  Lady Leaguers, I’m officially claiming this name for my first born.  I called it first, so don’t cross me…

Until next time, you can keep up on your whiskey knowledge by following Noah over at Liquor.com.

It’s Suntory Time! Japanese Player Jumps into the American Whiskey Game, Acquires Beam

Bill Murray’s Iconic Suntory Scene in 2003′s Lost In Translation (via FT)

For those of us already in the industry, we’ve seen a large number of major acquisitions and consolidations over the past several years.  These kinds of deals are increasingly common.  Beam, whose portfolio includes global bourbon behemoth Jim Beam, plus other high-performing brands like Maker’s Mark, Cruzan and Pinnacle Vodka, has been purchased for $13.6 billion from Japanese company Suntory (perhaps best known by name for its ridiculously awesome role in the amazing Lost in Translation).

The buyout details aren’t necessarily relevant to the average whiskey-slinging woman.  Instead, here are two small but important takeaways:

1)      American Whiskey isn’t just local, it’s global.   Yes, it’s made on our home turf, but American Whiskey has a global presence.  Not only are some of the largest brands here owned by foreign companies (like Wild Turkey, owned by Campari), but a massive percentage of product made here in the States is now allocated for sale in foreign markets.  Last year, Jack Daniel’s sold more whiskey outside the U.S. than in the U.S.  That’s a pretty staggering fact.

2)      American Whiskey continues to thrive.  Beam has been an acquisition target for the last few years because of the stunning growth rate of our beloved American Whiskey category.  This is great news for both the producer and the consumer, as the number of American Whiskey products on shelves continues to grow.  The growth is fueling great innovation, new flavors and experiments, different techniques in aging, and in turn (and most importantly), drawing in new whiskey drinkers.

It’ll be exciting to watch what happens next.