Local Wine Co's Blog


Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Dinner at Root by cdbakunas

Thursday night, July 26th Local Wine & Spirits and Ransom will host a spirited dinner with our friends at Root Restaurant in New Orleans. The critically acclaimed mixologist, Lynn House, will be mixing libations that will surely knock your socks off. Here is Tales’ link to the event. Sign up now, only 50 seats are available. The dinner is called “Kaleidoscope.” Tell your friends and spread the word.

Take a peek at the cocktails and the menu.

Cocktail Menu:

2012  Tales of the Cocktail       Kaleidescope Dinner at Root NOLA

Welcome Reception:         Chuck’s Berries

2 oz Exhcange Vodka,  .5 oz lemon juice, .5 oz rich simple syrup, 1.0 oz assorted fresh berry purees (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry), 1.5 oz spakling wine.  Served in a champagne glass or coupe, fresh berry for garnish

A Little Piece of Me (served with Amuse)
1 oz Smalls Gin, Fennel Syrup, (fresh lemon, apple, and orange juice), served in a shot glass as a cocktail amuse, Smalls and the fennel are the base, lemon, apple and orange will be the alternating flavors.

First Course: Tainted Love

3 oz Murphy’s Law  Reisling, .75 oz assorted herb syrups (rosemary, sage, basil amd thyme), .5 oz lemon, 3 drops of assorted bitters (fee orange, lemon, grapefruit, and bittermen’s celery).  Serve in a white wine glass

Second Course: Taken For Hostage

2 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin, .5 oz lime juice, .5 oz simple syrup, 1 egg white, 3 oz assorted homemade soda (made with Bittermen Liqueurs as a base; Citron Sauvage, Amere Sauvage and Commonwealth Tonic)   Served in a collins glass, lime wheel for garnish

Third Course: Tea and Sympathy
1.5 oz Exchange Vodka, .5 oz fresh lemon juice, .25 oz agave nectar. 1.5 oz assorted tea ( Rare Tea Cellars, Freak of Nature Oolong, Blood Orange Pu-erh, Cider Spice Noir, Emperor’s Nectar)  served in a rocks glass, light ice with a lemon twist.

Fourth Course: Red Red Wine

3 oz Ransom Pinot Noir, .5 oz agave nectar, .5 oz lime juice, .25 oz assorted vinegars (Martin Pouret Vinaigare D’Oleans Citron &Piment), Fruits Rouges, Ceidre de Miel), 3 drops of Boyajian citus oils (lime, lemon and orange)  Served as a frappe, in a red wine glass over crushed ice and garnish with edible flowers.

Fifth Course: Manhattan

2 oz Whipper Snapper Whiskey, 1 oz Punt e Mes, . 75 oz assorted citrus juice (2 with lime one with lemon), .5 oz assorted spiced syrups (tajin, sumac, and red chile flake), 6  pieces of assorted golden fruits ( mango, apricot and peach) , 3 drops of assorted bitters ( Angostura, Bitter Truth Creole, Fee Brothers Old Fashion)  Serve up in a cocktail glass, brandied ranier cherry for garnish

Dessert Cocktail: Dreaming of Alexander

2 oz Smalls Gin, .25 oz lemon juice, 2 oz heavy whipping cream, .5 oz vanilla cardamon syrup,  i oz of assorted purees ( apple, orange marmalade, apricot/ginger, pineapple, rhubarb, plum, tamarind and pear)  serve in a cocktail or coupe, vanilla dust for garnish

Dinner Menu:

Chef’s Menu – Phillip Lopez

Amuse 1
Pickled Local Radish
Cauliflower Crema, Chocolate Espresso Gravel, Hibiscus Tea Glass

Amuse 2
Lobster “Bouillabaisse”
Gilded Citron Lobster Knuckle Galantine, Black Saffron Rice

First Course
Grilled Compressed Watermelon Salad
Pimentón Tuna, Nitro Avocado Pearls, Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Second Course
Sweet Corn Gnocchi
Miso Butterscotch, Local Chanterelles, Spiced Corn Nuts

Intermezzo
Middle Eastern Falooda
Turkish Spiced Coconut Milk, Puffed Rice, Jasmine Grapefruit Sorbet, Blueberry Vermicelli

Third Course
Black Tea Smoked Gulf Fish
Cauliflower Purée, Celeriac Citrus Salad

Fourth Course
Black Lacquered Rabbit
Root Beer Braised Greens, Licorice Cardamom Glacé, Moroccan Spiced Grits

Fifth Course
Herb Encrusted Lamb Loin
Parsnip Bark, Shiitake Barigoule, Charred Peach Mostarda Dessert

Dessert
“Rocky Dirt Road”
Chocolate Dirt, Vanilla Marshmallow, Chocolate Praline, Rocky Road Ice Cream

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Early Drinkers and Flappers (and what they’ve done for us today) by cdbakunas
May 11, 2011, 8:09 am
Filed under: Libations, Travel, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

Did you know that women were not allowed in bars in the 19th century? Really? That seems like a serious flaw in the social fabric of attempting through swagger, humor or dumb luck to pick up girls at the local tavern. God bless the generation of our great, great grandfathers who persevered until we arrived at the age of Liberalism.The term “flappers” comes from the 1920’s during the Prohibition Era and connoted women who eschewed rigorous social standards and did crazy things like drink alcohol in bars (speakeasies) drove cars and wore shorter skirts. I guess if you have to look for something positive in the failed social experiment of American Prohibition, flappers should be at the top of your list. The dawning of the age of Liberalism is deeply entwined with our American history and the founding of this nation, the pursuit of liberty and equality, which takes social roots in women’s right to vote, right to drink and right to drive. John Locke, the earliest philosopher, political proponent of Liberalism, and a major influence on the founding fathers of America, said, “New opinions are always suspected and usually opposed without any other reason but because they are not already common. ”

America is and will always be a nation of invention, perseverance and leadership. Will we make mistakes? Of course. Will we have prohibition again? Absolutely not. And now that women drink with men (depuis circa 1920), America has exported the concept of cocktails to the world, craft distilleries are on the climb, and classic cocktails are du rigueur.

It was only a few years ago that a bar in middle town anywhere USA would have the same five beers, Bud, Bud Light, Corona, Heineken, Amstel and if you were lucky Sam Adams. Today it is nearly impossible and improbable that you will walk into the same sort of establishment, your local watering hole, neighborhood restaurant, liquor store (excluding the gas stations and 7-Elevens of the world) and not find it replete with micro brews from around the world.

As we experienced a tremendous downturn in our economy an interesting phenomenon occurred. The Federal and State governments were and are in a budget crisis, so what do they loosen up? The right to own permits to brew and distill. Today there are nearly 450 micro distilleries across this great nation. That’s a rocketing 300% growth in the last decade. And good for us the consumer. Our choices for distilled beverages is rapidly increasing and with the increased competition the quality of spirits across the board is getting better and better.  Now it’s our job as consumers to ask for more and interesting spirits. I’ll know the day that Main Street has beaten Wall Street when I can walk into an airport in Dallas, Texas or Raleigh, North Carolina and ask for a martinez cocktail, and they’ll not only have Old Tom gin, but they’ll know how to mix this elixir.

Drink well, and ask for the good stuff.



Trade Shows by cdbakunas
April 26, 2011, 7:54 am
Filed under: Travel, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

Trade shows are the ubiquitous gathering of wine and spirit professionals in regional areas where one distributor takes three or four hours to highlight all their wares and invites their entire customer base to attend. In major markets these events get very large. The question is how do distributors differentiate themselves in this rather cookie cutter style event; how do they position themselves to their customers; and how do the wineries and distilleries that attend make an impact amongst dozens to hundreds of other colleagues vying for the small attention of the buyers? And let’s be honest, palate fatigue sets in rather quickly, there is always a high percentage of consumption which clouds the rational mind (but makes the event a helluva lot of fun) and beverage professionals tend to have short attention spans, especially when coming from the fast paced and hectic environment of restaurants.

I believe that one way to stand out in the crowd, as a producer, is to be honest, humble and sincere (be yourself) and to offer better product and better prices than your competitor. Of course if you have a product that is completely unique, like the only Old Tom Gin produced in America, that makes a huge difference, but if you are making California Cab or Chardonnay, why are you unique? Not saying that you can’t be, but what is it that makes you unique in this over burdened supply side world of domestic and international wines?

And as a distributor, what are you doing to separate yourself from the crowd. Cream Wine Company in Chicago is doing a very interesting thing this year at their annual Small Batch portfolio tasting. And remember, this is one of the top five markets in the US. Only owners, winemakers or distillers are allowed to present at this years tasting. That means no regional sales managers, no marketing interns, no national paper pushers will be pouring and entertaining the beverage professionals. I have not seen this done anywhere else in the US and I love the idea. It gives separation from their peers (distributors) and offers the highest level of quality information to the buyers who attend this tasting because the get to speak directly with the man or woman who is responsible for making the wine, the whiskey, the vodka, etc.

I hope to see more innovations in trade tastings over the coming years. It’s all to easy to fall into conformity and do what the other guy is doing. Let me know what else you’ve seen out there that is unique and wonderful.



How to make a Martinez Cocktail by cdbakunas
November 4, 2010, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Libations, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I just visited Boston and met two great bartenders at a new restaurant/bar/speakeasy, Foundry on Elm, in Somerville, Mass.

Ethan and Andy were kind enough to make a few  Martinez cocktails with me. FYI, the lemon rind absolutely makes the drink. No lemon rind and oil, 50% less good, truly. But what is the Martinez? Well, I’m glad you asked. This is the grandfather, the papi, the old guy that spawned the ubiquitous martini and manhattan.

Great and scintillating debate surrounds the origins of the Martinez. We are certain that the cocktail was born in the 19th century. Much credit flows towards bartender extraordinaire Jerry Thomas that this gin and sweet vermouth cocktail was first made at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco for a miner that was headed to Martinez, California (a town about 35 north and east of San Francisco – just north of Walnut Creek). Whatever the truth may be I do know that this is one helluva tasty cocktail when done well. Here’s the video recipe. Enjoy – Sante!



State Laws Prohibit Spirit Sales by cdbakunas
September 30, 2010, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Libations, Travel

More Dumb Laws in Distributing Spirits

I’ve just spent a week working in Wyoming where we have been selling our wines for the last three years.  First off, if you have not been to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone you, as an American, need to visit. This is truly the last remnant of the Wild West and mountain frontier.  The Tetons are a sight to behold, dominating upheavals of earth that pierce the sky with year round snow capped peaks and jagged rocks like incisors biting for the clouds.  The slopes are slate grey, powdered pewter in color with pines, cottonwoods and aspens at the base and bare nothingness at the heights.  They are breathtaking examples of mountains, and they are right here in America! God, what a beautiful country we live in.  If you want to hike, climb, ski, and explore this is rugged country that beckons the strong and intimidates the weak.  Every time I visit I can’t help but think of the frontiersmen and women who braved the brutal winters, rugged terrain, and wild animals to establish a community valley that is Jackson Hole. Those first people were cut from cloth that is stronger than most NFL linebackers. And when you get a chance to talk with the old timers and hear their stories and the stories of their parents you feel that you missed an epoch when men were men and women were so strong they could move mountains themselves. It is awesome.

Now back to the asinine spirit laws of our country.  Sales of spirits and distribution of spirits is concluded on an individual state level. Thus each state has its own say in how spirits are brought into the market and who can distribute and sell.  Wyoming is one of those unique states that are controlled. By saying controlled what I mean is that every bottle of spirit to be consumed by the consumer must be first purchased by the state, brought to their state run warehouse, then trucked out to a friendly retailer or restaurant (at a significant mark up).  Why we still have impediments to doing business in the alcohol industry is beyond me, but this is the system that we must work within.  For example, if a friendly restaurateur would like to buy our delicious Small’s American Dry Gin they will need to call the Wyoming Liquor Commission and place a special order. Then I get a phone call and a fax requesting a case of the spirit to be sent to Cheyenne where they will receive the product and then at some unknown date in the future send the product out to the lucky and expectant restaurateur.  I’ve heard horror stories where wine and spirits are ordered directly through the state and the shipment does not arrive for 4-6 weeks (sometimes even longer). There are two serious drawbacks to this system. When state governments acts as businesses, like the DMV or the WY Liq Commission, they are so far removed from normal business to business protocols that there is almost always a telltale lackadaisicalness in getting the job done. Delays are common place and lack of motivation is rampant. I don’t know about you but when a customer of mine says, “Yes, I love that product, please ship me two cases,” I’m going to ship that shit tomorrow…not two months from now.

The other major drawback to state controlled alcoholic beverage programs is that they inherently limit the choices. Major, giant brands get “listed” or put on the published document as to what is available, while small craft or artisan brands often cannot even get into the state.  As the craft distillery revolution and craft beer explosion continues control states stand in the way of normal small business Americans making a living and expanding their base of consumers.

Hopefully in my lifetime we will see some measure of reform that puts wine and spirits on an even and fair program.



Bar Stars by cdbakunas
September 22, 2010, 10:52 am
Filed under: Libations, Travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

Great article from Kansas City Star. Thanks to ANNE BROCKHOFF, McClatchy Newspapers.  And my rants on why craft spirits are superior to big brands.

Two excerpts:  “Spirits are also flowing from the country’s more than 200 craft distillers, which make small batches of everything from vodka and gin to whiskey, absinthe and eau de vie. Some bars are sporting bottles from Ransom Spirits of Oregon, producer of Ransom Old Tom and Small’s gins and WhipperSnapper whiskey.”

“The range of new bitters, too, is startling, especially since even the Peychaud’s required for a New Orleans-style Sazerac weren’t distributed in some areas until a couple of years ago. The list now includes everything from lemon, orange and grapefruit to celery, rhubarb and Xocolatl Mole Bitters, which delivers a hit of cacao, cinnamon and spice.

Bars don’t stop at what they can buy, though. Grunauer garnishes drinks with cherries macerated in bourbon, Demerara sugar, pomegranate juice and Fee Brothers Old Fashion bitters. North, in Leawood, roasts fennel seeds with orange and lemon zest and then steeps the results in hot water to make fennel syrup for its Succo di Bacca, a long drink with rum, strawberries, lemon juice and Moscato d’Asti.”

To read the full article: Kansas City Star Bar Stars

From our distillery and copper pot still in Oregon

I’m seeing excitement for cocktails spring up all over the country and in places that you would think are behind the curve. The internet and all the social media that we have access to is spreading trends and information across the country like wildfire, I’ve never seen anything like it in my nearly 20 years in the beverage industry. It is so fucking exciting to watch craft cocktails and spirits bloom and feel the enthusiasm from the street level percolate up. Consumers are in for an intense and mind-blowing decade as more and more high quality spirits spread across the corners of our beautiful country. The most amazing thing here is that the quality of product you can find from spirits, to liqueurs, to bitters is increasing so rapidly that the big companies are going to have to start looking over their shoulders. A movement is a foot by many savvy bartenders to eschew the large, mass-produced brands for the craft and local spirits because they frankly are better and cost the same.  When you can give your customer a superior product for the same price and also know that you support a real family (or families that you might even know personally) it does something inside of you that simply makes you feel good.

One of the major reasons why craft spirits are often superior is because artisan distillers don’t operate on the same business model as the Megalodon companies do. We take lower profit margins, work with the sweat of our brow to make something we are extremely proud of and travel coach and economy to get around the country.  We don’t have marketing budgets for TV, sexy show girls, full-page color adds in Sports Illustrated and radio plugs, thus we spend our money on raw ingredients and get the word out one person at a time.  That might be old school to some, but I know that the personal relationship and handshake means a helluva lot more than razzle dazzle glitz that costs millions.

Eat and drink large



wine making in California by moegrier
August 31, 2010, 11:14 am
Filed under: Travel

September 26-29 i will be blogging about my very first time visiting and working at a winery.




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