Saturday, October 3, 2009

More Than Just Beer in a Bottle and Whiskey on the Rocks

On Monday, October 5th our friend Chris Dooley is participating in his third Sacramento Mixology contest. The last two he won, so we are excited and anticipating a 3-pete. Dooley is highly creative in his ability to concoct beverages that have incredible balance, gastronomical imagination and a bit of whimsy. In his last competition he topped his drink with caviar made from Campari. The sickening part is that he doesn't even come up with the recipes for his creations until the night before.

When I go to these events it's such a sigh of appreciation. Molecular gastronomy is nothing new to the culinary world. But since Ferran Andria began making beetroot foam in the 90's, the game has never been the same. Though as many a Sacramentian know, culinarily speaking, trends and advances in technique arrive in Sacramento at about the same rate it takes the California legislature to pass a state budget.

In the early 2000's I remember reading an article about the shift in bartending. Bartenders in San Francisco taking five minutes to make a drink that was muddled with an ingredient list that looked more like a receipt from Whole Foods than a drink description on a Chili's happy hour menu.

I was working at the Sheraton Grand in downtown Sacramento as a Food and Beverage Manager in charge of the bar. I was determined that I was going to bring that same ideology on drink making to the hotel bar. I had a meeting with my bartenders and expressed that I wanted everyone to bring me a drink recipe following this new aesthetic within a week. The best recipe would be featured on the new drink menu.

Well, all but two of my staff looked at me like I was smokin' rocks at the meeting table and all but two of my staff ignored what I said. Aaaah the Sac town workforce on a union property. So cooperative. Of the two, one made me a drink so good, it made me wanna slap my momma! (Side note to my's just an expression. Love you girl!!!) She made the drink with fresh squeezed apple juice that she hand juiced at the bar. We called it the Natural Apple Martini. Ooh it was good! It was still like pulling teeth to get everybody on board after the success of the first new drink.

I remember shadowing bartenders at various establishments that said," Oh, we don't put Vermouth in our martinis." In which I quickly replied, "Then it's not a martini. It's just a shot and a half of gin or vodka." Their retort,"Well people don't like the Vermouth and send it back." And in an irritated tone I stated, "Then it's your job as a bartender to educate your guest. If what they're really asking for is a shaken, chilled shot you need to serve it that way. Don't put it in a martini glass if that's not what you are making and don't call it a martini if it ain't."

Since those frustrating days, the scene has changed drastically. Some long missing aspects of bartending have returned. Vermouth in martinis is back, I no longer have to request it in my drinks, educating the guest and bartender spirit knowledge has resurfaced. And with that the creativity and craftsmanship of old has come out of exile. Thank you baby Jesus! It ain't the same mixing drinks at home on the kitchen counter and pretending your husband is the newly hired sexy bartender that is slipping you free drinks...maybe that last bit was to much info? Anywho, I can't wait for Monday. The event is going to be like an episode of "Top Chef". The competitors won't know some of the required ingredients until they arrive. Oooh daddy! I love it. Dooley has given me a recipe to share with ya'll. Make it often and enjoy.

The Vanity
  • 1 1/2 oz. Leopold's Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. St Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 4-5 Fresh Mint Leaves

Add ingredients together in a pint glass. Give a brisk shake, 2-3 shakes. You want to marry the ingredients not beat them together. Double strain into a Collins glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a lemon twist and fresh mint.


  1. i could make this at home...or i could just let you make it for me

  2. unfortunately my bartending skills aren't that good...