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  1. Having moved from Chicago to Milwaukee, it's been interesting in the realm of the Old-Fashioned. At the Violet Hour, we made an Old-Fashioned the old-fashioned way, according to the 1806 recipe: bitters, sugar, water, spirit. We added an orange peel for garnish. I love my Old-Fashioned's with Old Weller Antique 107, Rittenhouse Rye 100, Russell's Reserve Rye, and Buffalo Trace Bourbon, to name a few. I like a combination of 2 or 3 bitters and demerara or another turbinado syrup. The first time someone in Wisconsin asked me for an "Old-Fashioned Sweet" I had no idea what she meant. The first rule in Wisconsin is: an Old-Fashioned is Brandy, not Whiskey. And for a "sweet" Old Fashioned, 7-up is topped. Then someone ordered the Old-Fashioned Sour, which is topped with 50/50 soda! When someone simply orders an Old-Fashioned, they want it topped with seltzer. Generally, someone ordering an Old-Fashioned, not sweet or sour, wants it garnished with olives! The basic recipe until the soda is added is a cherry (which if you use Griotine cherries makes an interesting cocktail), an orange, and a sugar cube are muddled, then Brandy (I like Paul Masson) is added along with a dash of Angostura (I also add a dash of Regan's Orange Bitters). Then ice, and soda of choice. I generally swap the sugarcube for simple syrup or demerara. We are doing a cocktail dinner at Bacchus on the 19th of March and one of the courses is New vs. Old. Dueling Old Fashioned's. One a Wisconsin Brandy Old-Fashioned Sour, the other a Bourbon Old-Fashioned circa 1806. Ira
  2. i've got to get back down to Chicago soon and go see Carlson at Schwa.
  3. A thread was started here in Heartland Dining, about distil, a bar concept developed by myself and my Bittercube partner, Nick Kosevich. We've distanced ourselves from the investor to focus on the consulting side of our company and have landed at Bacchus in Milwaukee, as some people have posted. Just wanted to start a new thread about Bacchus. I just wanted to update the eGullet community on what we're doing... We took over the bar program at Bacchus around 10 weeks ago. We developed a Winter Cocktail Menu that has been in place for seven weeks. We've been continually brining in new products and slimming what was already behind the bar. I was shocked moving from Chicago to not see the Hous Alpenz line as well as some other essential spritis and liqueurs. But we've made due pretty well, stocking the bar with a number of amari, liqueurs, and American whiskies. We've got some unique things behind the bar. We were able to procure some of the Buffalo Trace antique collection and have been making Thomas Handy Boulevardier's, William Larue Weller Manhattan's and the like. We also special ordered Peychaud Bitter's, Cynar, and Regan's Orange Bitters. Please come in and see us. We'd love to do a bitters tasting with our five Bittercube Bitters, as well with the products we've had special ordered. The Winter Cocktail Menu will run through March, so time is limited before we change over to the Spring Menu. We've put some really unique syrups, as well as Bittercube liqueurs and tinctures on menu, and of course we're juicing daily. We've already had a couple of eGulleter's come in, which has been great! We love talking to people as passionate as we are about cocktails. The cocktail menu is available in the dining room as well as the bar. One thing of note is that Bacchus is now open late on Thursday's, Friday's and Saturday's, with cocktails and small plates. The music is a little louder, the vibe a little more relaxed, the room a little darker. The perfect cocktail atmosphere!
  4. Nick and I have parted ways with our investor from distil. We began to have creative differences with the investor and didn't want to be involved in a concept that we didn't fully believe in. There is good news though! Nick and I landed as the resident mixologists with the bartolotta group, and just debuted a Winter Cocktail Menu at Bacchus. I am going to start a thread about the menu, so catch up with us there. Ira
  5. The Negroni seems to have been invented in the early 1900s and was named after Camillo Negroni, of Florence. The Bellini was invented sometime between 1934 and 1948 in Venice. It seems that the oldest cocktail reference in Italy is the Spritz. It was said to have been born in the 19th century when Italy was under Austrian rule. The soldiers of the occupying armies were not used to the alcohol content of Italian wines and liqueurs, so water was added to dilute the flavor. Strictly speaking, can this even be considered a cocktail? It is still served in a select few bars in Italy. Here is one recipe I found for a Venetian Spritz, which seems to be widely consumed in Italy to this day. It is interesting to note that the original form of Campari and Soda may well have been introduced to the world not by Italians, but by occupying forces! 2 fingers of dry white wine, ideally bubbly prosecco 1 finger of the aperitif of choice (Aperol, Campari, or Cynar) splash of mineral water (fizzy or natural) With Campari or Cynar add little slice of lemon. With Aperol add a slice of orange.
  6. Karl, My understanding is that Amari are not all grape based, take Cynar for instance. Oh, brinza, i love unicum! I was lucky enough to partake in a bottle with Toby the last time I was in NYC.
  7. Fair enough, but now that we're talking amari, why should we stop?!? Anyone have favorites? I love Amaro Nonino, I think it's very versatile and not too bitter or sweet. That being said I love Averna for its Coca-Cola sweetness and its place in a cocktail. Recently I used Meletti Amaro in a Tequila cocktail with great success. Amaro Montenegro is interesting for its funky, spicy qualities, as is Ciocaro. Amaro Segesta has smooth minty notes, but the eucalyptus factor is subdued, which I like. That being said I do love a shot of Fernet, generally Fernet Branca. I've used Ramazzotti in cocktails as well.
  8. Many brands of amari use caramel and or caramel coloring to add viscosity and color to their product, which is probably why, bostonapothecary, you sense a denseness not from plain old sugar.
  9. I'm reading The Social History of Bourbon by Gerald Carson. It's interesting so far, although it can get dry at times. It is out of print, but there are used copies available on Amazon.
  10. Hathor, I completely agree. There seems to be no rhyme or reason, other than to distinguish it from other Italian bitter liqueurs. I do like Katie's idea that Campari is generally used as a mixing agent, though there has been an growing number of cocktails with amari in cocktail bars all over the country.
  11. A couple of things to point out. slkinsey, regarding a definition of an amaro you said: This isn't very accurate, given that some amari are in fact wine based, such as Amaro Don Bairo. There are other amari that are grappa based as well. slkinsey, regarding the settling of the stomach you said: here is a post from a blog. The fact that bitters release digestive juices can be found all over the web. Let's forget the Amaro as a digestif only aspect. Amari may well indeed be considered both aperitif's and digestifs, though I still tend to think they are more regarded as digestifs. The question still remains, why is Campari not widely held as an amaro, especially by the company that produces it? The Campari company refers to it through posters and a written history as a cordial, an aperitivo, and a bitter. Yes, this is the English word for amaro, but bottles of Campari sold in Italia also say Bitter and not amaro.
  12. Okay, so maybe not universally! But in any definition for amari, they are considered digestif's. The Branca people are double marketing, which may be what is driving Campari away from the amaro category and into the aperitif category... ira
  13. A fellow bartender recently asked me why Campari wasn't considered an amaro. To the best of my knowledge there isn't a very good reason. Some say it's because amari (plural form of amaro) are grape based, but not all amari are grape based. Others claim Campari isn't an amaro because it isn't proofy enough, but there are amari on the market with less proof than Campari. I've read that most amaro's started out as family remedies or pharmaceutical remedies with their recipes tightly guarded, but this certainly isn't true of all amari, and if this is the only reason Campari isn't considered an amaro it seems a poor reason! Maybe it's just tradition or marketing, I'm not sure. Any thoughts? In researching this conundrum another question popped up. Why is it that amaro are universally considered digestif's yet Campari is considered an aperitif? Generally speaking an aperitif is light and sweet. Yes, there are those that prefer bitter liqueurs before a meal, but pastis, fortified wines, and champagne seem to dominate this arena. The bitterness of amari trick your stomach into thinking its being poisoned and release gases to counteract that poison and in so doing settle your stomach after a big meal. To my knowledge Campari does the same thing, yet is almost always mentioned as an aperitif. What gives? ira
  14. A couple of weeks ago I was discussing this very conundrum with a few people and after deliberating for a while, we decided that the therm "classical" was a perfect fit for the growing cocktail movement. We equated it to classical music, as someone else mentioned earlier. Mozart and Beethoven are definitely classic, but there are plenty of musicians today still making "classical" music. I also like the term "neo-classic." I might have to start using that one! After our discussion we went ahead and used the term 'classical' on a flyer for a cocktail night.
  15. That's a good question. One thing I've noticed so far about Milwaukee is that the city may stick to its "guns" but those guns include supporting an assortment of local cheese and meat purveyors, not to mention an expansive amount of local breweries. Milwaukee is definitely a beer and vodka town at the moment, but I believe that there are a lot of people here looking for and are excited about the craft cocktail movement. There are also a couple of local distilleries excited about our project. Nick and I are running a bar on Cathedral Square while distil. is in demolition and rebuild. We recently started a 'Speakeasy' night on Mondays from 9-midnight, where we feature six cocktails of mine and Nick's creation, as well as an American Whiskey list. This blurb was recently in the Journal Sentinel... If anyone knows people from Milwaukee let them know... ira
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