Oaxaca en Furs – Huntsville Bartenders Brawl

Oaxaca en Furs – Huntsville Bartenders

With Cinco de Mayo abound we were itching to enter a competition….a margarita competition! Humphrey’s Huntsville bartenders rose to the challenge and Avion Tequila provided us with an exceptional canvas to work with. We went into the lab and got to work. With a shot at a Hangout Fest  trip on the ropes, we were going strong.

This is the cocktail that came out….

Hunstville Bartenders.jpg

1.5oz Avion Reposado
0.5oz Del Maguey Chichicappa
0.75oz Fresh Lime
*0.25oz Vanilla Bean Syrup
0.5oz Tamarind Juice
3 1in x 1in chunks Grilled Pineapple
*Smoked Chili-Salt Rim

The grilled Pineapple is muddled in a a tin and all ingredients except smoked salt rim are added, iced, shaken. The glass is then rimmed with the smoked chili-salt and the whole lot gets strained over crushed ice. Pineapple fronds and grilled pineapple are added as a garnish.

*Vanilla bean syrup
8oz Water
1 Cup Natural Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean

Heat water until boiling. Split vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add both to water. Add sugar and cut down heat to a simmer. Simmer on low for 10 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour all contents into another container and set in the fridge over night. In the morning filter through a coffee filter and store chilled for up to 2 weeks.

*Smoked Chili-Salt

1 part Chili powder to 10 parts smoked salt. Smoked salt can typically be found at Wholefoods or your local specialty grocery store otherwise you’ll need to take sea salt and put it in a smoker or over with applewood for 30min+ to retain the flavor.

 

…if you’re wondering, the Hangout Fest was great! The Huntsville bartenders came strong, and we took on a few to add to our group in North Alabama!

 

Lindbergh’s Breakkie

Lindbergh’s Breakkie

We’ve all heard the story about Charles Linbergh’s transatlantic flight, but as much as I like a good story and as much as I continue to watch conspiracy theory programs, I dove a little deeper for a competition last month. The Bombay Sapphire annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition was underway in August. All around the nation, the best barkeeps converged to prove their cocktail p’s and q’s were top tier. I opted to riff on the classic Aviation, one of the only recipes to come out of Prohibition….a simple mix of gin, maraschino, lemon, and creme de violette was my palette. The ability to use 7 ingredients, my brush. Back to the conspiracy…

It starts the same way the glory story does, that the 25yr old  Charles Lindbergh bet his life and limb in May of 1927 for a chance to become the first American to cross the Atlantic, 33 1/2 hours later hes a hero…well from a contemporary realist you might be saying, “It only takes 8 hours to get to Paris nowdays” and you’d be right. Judging the Spirit of St. Louis wasn’t quite up to speed, some of this time may be reasonable. but a day and a half! This is where some skeptics start to pick up fault lines…the other side of the story comes from deep in the catacombs of secret minds. Charle, the youngest and virtually unknown of all pilots of the era, may have gotten some much needed help to save face. The craft in this amount of time could have flown to London, where Lindbergh, also in the quells of Prohibition, had a nice cocktail he had heard so many tales about, a shower and shave, and a short rest to get ready for a big arrival. This continues our cocktail…

  • 1.5 ounces Bombay Sapphire
  • .25 ounces Chamomile Tea infused Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
  • .5 ounces Fresh Squeezed Lemon
  • Elderflower foam*
  • dehydrated Creme de Violette (Rothman & Winter)
  • paper airplanes as garnish

Elderflower foam
1. Mix 2 parts St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur to 1 part Lemon to 1 part water in a bowl
2. add a teaspoon Soy Lecithin
3. using a hand blender, blend until foam builds up on surface then scrape off with a spoon
4. slightly angling the blender to just poke over the top can result in lavish airy foam!

Dehydrated Creme de Violette
1. Pour a thin layer of Creme de Violette on a ceramic plate and store in a dry location for 7-10 days
2. this should form a nice purple crust that can be scraped off and stored

Lindbergh’s Breakkie
1. In a shaker tin, combine Gin, Lemon Juice, and Tea infused Maraschino
2. add ice and shake the dickens out of it
3. strain into a chilled cocktail glass
4. Spoon over Edlerflower Foam
5. Sprinkle Dehydrated Creme de Violette in a line over the foam and add garnish
6. watch conspiracy theory films for a blasty blast

 

Sherry Cobbler

The original cobbler! This family of drinks boast seasonal, fresh-fruity flavors with the addition of several types of spirits, but the original, Sherry, is where its at! The travels I’ve been on lately had me zigzag across the South, and this being the summer months I was in the mood for light, sunny cocktails for a change. Far and wide I searched for my dear friend the titillating tipple, but in New Orleans, during Tales of the Cocktail no doubt, I found myself set on the same sprite sip I had the year prior. At Bellocq, known for its crafty cocktail team and fancy octopus punch bowl, is where I return time and time again to rest my weary head and sit on a cobbler for a few. I managed to snag some info from the bar and came to a riff all our own. I give you the cobbler….

  • 2.5 ounces Amontillado Sherry (Lustau)
  • .5 ounces Apricot Liqueur (Rothman & Winter)
  • .25 ounces honey
  • 1 Orange wheel
  • Blackberries &  Mint for garnish

1. In a shaker tin, combine Sherry, Apricot Liqueur, Honey, and Orange wheel.
2. Fill a short glass with cobbled ice
3. Shake tin vigorously with ice and strain into glass
4. Add Blackberries and Mint for a dazzling effect
5. Chase the final days of summer, also for a dazzling effect.

Juleps Y’all

Juleps Ya’ll

Yep. I am from Alabama…some say the birthplace of the mint julep…some say no thats Georgia…and still others say shut up already,  you’ve got peaches Georgia, let us have this one thing. It was a different time when this luxe libation came about…the standard definition of the cocktail hadn’t yet graced a paper. 1784 is the first mention from  Medical communications: Volume 1 to promote good health and medicine in a time where there was nothing of the sort. Hell we were just coming out of the American Revolution and on the verge of another, namely the Whiskey Rebellion, so this libation earns its keepsake in my book. Ours may be a tad updated, but to make this truly Alabamian, we’ve opted to use our gracious new Alabama distillery, High Ridge Spirits, to bring us that sweet component all Juleps need. Southern Snowcones as they were!

  • 2 ounces American Whiskey (George Dickel Rye)
  • .25 ounces High Ridge Peach ‘Shine
  • Pineapple slice
  • 6-8 Mint Leaves
  • Crushed ice (lots!)

1. In a Julep glass (short steel cup) add Whiskey, Peach ‘Shine, and Mint
2. Muddle softly
3. Mound on Crushed Ice! (This is a Sunday sipper)
4. Bunch up a few mint sprigs and stuff them down in the ice
5. Cut a straw to size that will, once pushed to the bottom of the glass, stick out right above the mint garnish
6. Rub Pineapple around the rim of the cup
7. Enjoy, I say, I say, boy.

StrawBaBal Smash – Alabama Whiskey, Birmingham Bartender

Our Birmingham bartender line up was recently asked to create a cocktail program for a fake wedding. “A fake wedding?” you might ask. Yes a fake wedding! The national wedding showcase, The NotWedding, contacted us with the challenge of entertaining and refreshing clients from all over Alabama. The event was based on a highend wedding theme at Bridgestreet Gallery and Loft, and was packed with event and wedding goers. I was also happy to hear our good friends over at High Ridge Spirits were on board as well!

High Ridge Spirits is accredited with the first distilled spirit crafted in Alabama since prohibition….I forgot to mention “Legal”, first legal distilled spirit crafted in Alabama since 1915. And what better spirit to start out with. Whiskey. Not just any whiskey, a 100% rye unaged whiskey, with locally sourced mash and water from the now infamous Bullock County. Infamous for all the backwoods moonshine stills that continue to litter the area. This ‘Shine, however, gets the care and attention to detail its deserves without having to look over their shoulders for all those pesky G-men.

This spirit I must admit, is a little bit of a challenge. Rye can be quite a spicy grain and it can overpower an unsuspecting palate. So the challenge of toning down the spice while also incorporating its profile into the cocktails was a bit daunting. However, being part of the USBG Birmingham, we had dozens of resources to pull from. I was particularly interested in the vegetal pairings with the kick and decided on working in some ingredients I’ve been using on the culinary side for quite some time. The name may seem a little goofy to start, but it makes sense when you see the main modifying flavors come from strawberry, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Get your fix, Bama.

StrawBaBal Smash

1.5 oz Stills Crossroads ‘Shine
3 Strawberries (hulled)
3-5 Thai Basil leaves
1 barspoon Balsamic Vinegar (or to your liking, I like 2 barspoons)
.25 oz Alabama Honey Syrup (1:1)

1. In a shaker tin, muddle strawberries and honey syrup together down to a puree.
2. Rip basil leaves in half and add to shaker tin.
3. Add ‘Shine and vinegar to the mix and shake the dickens out of it.
4. Really…shake that thang!
5. Strain through a tea strainer over a ice.
6. Garnish with strawberry and basil. Serve with candied pecans.
7. Enjoy your fake wedding….

For more recipes and clever cups and humble hooch, check out our Birmingham bartender recipes at www.thebarhops.com

Palomina – Alabama Alcohol Catering

When it comes to Alabama alcohol catering, the first rule of thumb is to be accessible. We provide a wide array of events and functions with our bartenders, where we may run into the most sophisticated of cocktail palettes as well as the folks that just want a good ole Jack Daniels. From the simple tastes to the overly refined, our goal is to put a smile on each persons face by serving them exactly what they want. Sometimes this may be quite cumbersome to use a specific spirit that our guests may be unfamiliar with, such as Mezcal.

Alabama has only known Mezcal for a short year and a half when the first bottle was brought into the ABC portfolio. Unfortunately, however, this specific brand was better suited for cleaning motors than consuming. If you’ve seen this bottle in the past few years in the state, you might remember the worm floating at the bottom. Not ideal for a nice summer time cocktail….maybe a frat house initiation! (*this last sentence does not reflect the interest of The Bar Hops, nor will we be held responsible for such despicable action)

This spirit though, similar to Tequila, has various categories and levels. In the past two years, Mezcal has made a huge splash in larger American metropolises. Why? Because its absolutely fantastic! Smokey, earthly, aged flavors give way to delicate fruits and tones that encompass the multitude of different agave species used in production. Before I get into too much detail, let me back track to one of my favorite afternoon drinks and the Bar Hops riff we are showcasing today.

Paloma in Spanish means “dove”. Depending on how you read that you might be thinking of the bird or a pool….I was thinking of the pool in this sweltering heat when I ordered the drink of the same name last week at El Barrio. A pretty simple concoction of Resposado Tequila, Salt, Lime, and Grapefruit soda can be entirely refreshing on its own. This is more than likely why it has in fact surpassed the Margarita as Mexicos’s most consumed cocktail…by locals at least. And of course what did I think I would do when I got back into our cocktail lab but to cut up and rearrange that recipe with my love of Mezcal. May I present the Palomina.

1.5 oz Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
1/2 oz Fresh Grapefruit
1/4 oz Fresh Key Lime
Jarritos Torranja Grapefruit Soda to fill
2 dashes Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
Half Spent Lime Shell
3 Thyme Sprigs
Kosher Salt

1. In a shaker tin, add Mezcal, Grapefruit, Lime, Thyme, and lime shell.
2. Pack tin with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
3. Set aside tin and fill a Collins glass with ice, followed by dashing a healthy pinch of kosher salt on top.
4. Double strain tin contents into glass to filter out any limey-thymey bits.
5. Fill with Jarritos Toranja Grapefruit Soda and dash Bitters
6. Stir/Serve/Olé!

*for more ideas on Alabama Alcohol Catering give us a call at 205.538.2467 or send us an email at our contact page

Iron Fashioned – Alabama Bartenders

Iron Fashioned

After several hours of intense R&D, we had a plan for the Vulcan Park & Museum’s annual cocktail competition for Alabama Bartenders. A simple, classic cocktail, that made use of local ingredients to represent Birmingham’s blossoming bar scene.

This cocktail, in theory, started out with some of the most iconic of Birmingham and Alabama brands. There were a multitude of products that  interested me and as I dove into the history of the Iron City, I uncovered even more than I had expected.  Through all the trial runs I used several hallmark items including those from Milo’s Hamburgers, Barber Dairies, Good People Brewery, Golden Flake, and even had a hair brained idea of filtering through raw iron ore….just think of that!

Instead, throughout my research, one brand kept popping up that was a match made in heaven from the get go. Buffalo Rock! Born just a few short years before the inception of the Vulcan statue, this spicy southern ginger soda was exactly the kick I was looking for. Both the Vulcan statue and the Buffalo Rock brand have stood the test of time, and more so through 2 prohibitions.

“2 Prohibitions?” you might ask. Yes, Alabama, being the conservative state that it was…is…thought this Temperance thing might just need a move on before the Feds implement it, so one of the first examples of a “Dry” social experiment took place in Jefferson County from 1908 to 1911. Failing once didn’t stop the state from also following up with Federal law in 1919 when the Volstead Act was instituted and also ending this a full 4 years later than our great governing body repealed the 18th Amendment. This all adds up to, you guessed it, a whopping 25 years of absence of legal spirit in the state.

This only solidified the idea that at some point in the early years, Buffalo Rock must have crossed paths with some good ole homemade whisky. That whisky, could have more than likely been bootlegged in from Bullock County, where Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whisky got its infamous name! Naturally, I like to mess around with such ideas and stories until they become more folklore, but to add a cocktail on top just adds fuel to the fire. In honor of Vulcan’s 110th year overlooking the city, The Bar Hops took home the Gold in this competition. Heres to you big guy from all of us Alabama bartenders!

Iron Fashioned

2.5oz Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey
0.5oz Buffalo Rock© syrup (recipe below)
2 dashes Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters
1 dash Kübler Absinthe Superieure
Orange peel garnish

1. Add Clyde May’s, Buffalo Rock© syrup, Cardamom Bitters, and Kübler Absinthe to a mixing glass.
2. Fill with ice to the top of the mixing glass and stir rapidly for 25 seconds.
3. Julep Strain into a rocks glass over a large chunk of ice.
4.Using a potato peeler, cut a large swath of orange rind, and squeeze lengthwise over the drink to express the oils into the cocktail.
5. Rub peel on the lip of the glass, twist and slide into the side of the glass.
6. Enjoy

Buffalo Rock© syrup
2 12oz cans Buffalo Rock© Southern Spice Ginger Ale
2/3 cup Natural Florida Crystal Sugar
1/3 cup Demerara Sugar

1. Open Buffalo Rock© cans and pour into a pot on high heat.
2. Bring to a boil and immediately cut down to medium heat.
3. Continue to heat until mixture has lost all carbonation and the Buffalo Rock has reduced to 1/3 the volume (8 oz).
4. Stir in Natural Florida Sugar and Demerara Sugar until dissolved completely.
5. Take away from heat and put in a refrigerator to cool down.

Last Word – Alabama Mixologist



I personally don’t give myself the title of an Alabama mixologist. At heart I am just a barman, and could care less about how many ornamental names we could use to describe the art of the cocktailian.  At the end of the day, our purpose is to put a smile on your face and create and experience to compliment our guests.

At The Bar Hops headquarters, yes we experiment tirelessly to invent new and creative bar programs and recipes so that the consumer can enjoy something unique that they may never see again. Fresh pressed juices, house made syrups, and artisinal bitters are all in our inventory on a weekly basis, but when it comes down to it , simple is what I prefer. After a full day of prep and running around on my feet to find the perfect ingredients, most of the time you can find me talking to the bartender and sipping a cool Budweiser at one of Birmingham’s great downtown dives. Hold on though, don’t judge just yet. We are also discussing the intricacies of the bar industry more than likely.

The most common discussion I find myself in time and time again are always about the classics. “Classic Cocktails” is a pretty broad term, with initial recipes extending back some 200 years. The majority of classics seem to be grouped from 1862, when most were first published in Jerry Thomas’ bartending compendium,  to the 1920’s, during prohibition in the United States. A few recipes lay on either end depending on who you speak with, like the Old Fashioned or the Margarita, but as a whole these are the most talked about tipples.

Why? They’ve stood the test of time! Like clockwork, daily I can find hundreds of discussions on Manhattan variations or how changing proportions in a Negroni can completely change the profile. This cocktail below (which I can always enjoy next to my Budweiser), is no different and I thought the most suitable for this article. Without further adieu, let the Alabama mixologists argue about this riff on the Last Word.

The Last Word 

0.75 oz Dry American Gin
0.75 oz Maraschino Liqueur
0.75 oz Green Chartreuse
0.75 oz Lemon
3 Dashes Burdock & Dandelion Bitters
1 Spritz Absinthe Swiss
1. Add Gin, Maraschino, and Green Chartreuse to a chilled shaker tin.
2. Cut and fresh squeeze lemon into a jigger to measure, then add to the tin.
3. Dash bitters, add ice, and shake.
4. Double strain ingredients into a chilled coupe glass.
5. Using a mister, spritz Absinthe on the outside of the glass for aroma.
6. Sit down, don’t talk, and sip until completion.

Romantic Cocktails & Bar Catering

This Valentines Day we were asked by Liquor.com to write a tid bit on romantic cocktails. Heres what came out when The Bar Hops Bar Catering team put their noses to the grind stone:

On romantic cocktails or culinary arts in general I tend be somewhat nostalgic, reading and rereading endearing quotes to boost my morale while I sit at home and sip on some heavy aged spirit by my lonesome. One of my favorite being from Charles Bukowski:

“Find what you love, and let it kill you.”

Love seemingly can break you in two as well as have the power to build you back from the grave. Hence the essence of a romantic cocktail should be rooted in that love. Raw passion can be like, raw ingredients in a way I suppose. With the right mixture you can create a devastatingly great cocktail, or relationship.

When I create a cocktail for a client or an event such as a wedding or engagement, I tend to ask more questions and pry a little deeper than I normally would. Digging into their personal lives and preferences for a flavor or an idea that may be sentimental for both of them. Typically I also try to match flavors that have an aphrodisiac quality to them. Think oysters, figs and dates, honey, strawberries, cinnamon, vanilla, wine, ginger; these could all match to a flavor profile on your cocktail drawing board.

In fact our most popular cocktails for weddings and engagements tend to be a Champagne base of which we will match with fresh fruits, and foreign yet distinguishable herbs and scents. This I believe to be mainly the setting, while bubbles are quite sexy at any time, the cocktails made with the fizz are typically more aperitif in style, with the lower alcohol content. Your guests can imbibe throughout the length of the event without your sister getting sick and your new brother in law inebriatedly telling that one story to everyone that maybe he shouldn’t have. On the opposite end of the coin, a low candle light dinner, I might treat with something heavier in flavor and ABV. The end result might also be enhance by choosing a “shared” cocktail, or one made from a split of a fine product. As you share your libation, so share your life.

One final tip for making a lasting memory: have a story! Your concoction doesn’t have to be over the top with esoteric spirits, and all locally sourced ingredients, but the story, that’s the key. I wouldn’t suggest an overly popular, everyday tipple, but where it came from, why its relevant, and what it means to you are all a conversation piece and show that you took time and effort out of your day to make something unique. Not unlike the story of the cocktail below is one of long lost love of agave and subsequently a certain dark hair Spanish woman, but you’ll have to ask me that one later.

I left my heart in Jalisco (makes 2 cocktails)

Build:
6 oz Aztec Drinking Chocolate (below)
1.25 oz Hussong’s Reposado (for its nutty quality)
.25oz Ancho Reyes Chile liqueur
One orange peel dropped in mug and a dusting of bittersweet cocoa powder for garnish

Aztec Drinking Chocolate
12 oz whole milk
2 tbsp bittersweet Cocoa powder
2 oz. good quality pure bitter Chocolate, chopped
1 oz Demerara sugar
1 Star Anise
1 Mexican cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
pinch Ground Cayenne pepper
pinch of salt

Heat and stir milk, cocoa powder, and bitter chocolate on medium heat until melted. Add all other ingredients and cut heat down to low. Continue to heat for about 10 minutes. Strain this directly into mugs, followed by other alcoholic ingredients and stir in a fresh orange peel. Dust drinks with bitter sweet cocoa powder in a pattern for extra points! Goes well with fresh orange supremes sprinkled with cinnamon, dates, figs, and mint.

* “I Left My Heart in Jalisco” picture compliments of Liquor.com

Wintry Daiquiri – Alabama Beverage Catering

On the tip of winter, that first moment you crack open the front door can be downright chilling. In these arctic times I often think of the warm, sunny days of yester-month and relaxing in a tropical lands far away from the layers of clothing I currently don. This is more than likely why I like to dive into the Tiki realm a tid bit in the wintry months. Strangely enough the crisp citrus paired with spice that typically adorn the majority of this style of tipple make my innards warm enough to trudge back through snow and ice to collapse in my heavily wrapped bed awaiting another day with our Alabama Beverage Catering squad.

The cocktail I most prize as my kickstarter for such an occasion, most certainly and without a doubt, is a Daiquiri.  Why you may ask? Well my lovely friend, simplicity. Lime, Sugar, Rum and you have yourself one of the cleanest coupes you can shake a stick at. I have over the years changed the portions and substituted a bit, but by the standard definition I have stayed pretty true. I am also a huge fan of the Hemingway Daiquiri, or Papa Doble, as they add Grapefruit and Maraschino into the mix, but this is not the variation I am going to share with you today.

I’ll leave you with one more thing and then straight into the recipe. I’ve noticed a trend in the Tiki community that I want to point out. I seek out Tiki bars in every city I travel to, not only because I love the cocktails, but the bartenders that are behind these establishments are some of the happiest, most approachable barmen and women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. What is this phenomenon? I have no idea. Maybe its the relaxing atmosphere, or the ocean tunes, either way straw hats off to all you Tiki folks like Joey Schmidt and Dan Shook at Rated R Cocktails, or Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White from The Hukilau, or the good folks at Hale Pele or Cane & Table or Weather Up Austin on Tiki Tuesdays!

Wintry Daiquiri

2 oz Aged Rum (Pyrat XO)
1 oz Fresh Lime
.5 oz Nutmeg-Dem Syrup (1:1)
2 Dashes Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters

Preperation:

1. Add Rum, Fresh Lime, Nutmeg-Dem Syrup, and Bitters to a chilled shaker tin
2. Stir up the concoction slightly as the syrup has a tendency to be quite thick
3. Add fresh, cold ice to the shaker and shake the ever loving bejesus out of it
4. Use a tea strainer to double strain the libation into a chilled coupe
5. Sip dauntingly and dream of warmer months

Nutmeg-Dem Syrup Preparation:

1. Start by boiling 4 cups of water in a pot
2. Add 4 teaspoons fresh grated nutmeg and cut heat down to simmer
3. Stir in 4 cups Demerara sugar until dissolved
4. Take off heat and store in refrigerator over night
5. Use tea strainer to strain out nutmeg and bottle. (can store for 2 weeks)

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