Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Special: ArtBar’s Moonshine

Photo courtesy of Jenn Larsen
Cocktail, Art and Soul
courtesy of Jenn Larsen

ArtBar at the Liaison Capitol Hotel is one of those places I wish I could get to more often. Helmed by 2011 ARTINI champion Ronald Flores, it has a quirky vibe at the intersection of tourist and Hill trades, with the added benefit of Art and Soul’s nouveau country menu. Fellow WLDC author Tricia Barba (disclosure: Tricia also works at the hotel’s administrative office), convinced me to stop in and sample their new seasonal bar program, highlighting “modern moonshine.” We sat down with general manager Patrick Chiappetta as Flores walked us through the crafting of three cocktails, mixed and served in jelly jars.

Jelly jars? Very pantry to table.

“Modern moonshine” is just a sexy moniker for un-aged corn or rye whiskey, also known as white or silver whiskey, prepared legally by micro distillers now legitimizing a craft most often associated with bootleggers operating under the cover of darkness. ArtBar is featuring un-aged whiskey like Prichard’s Lincoln County Lightning, infused with fruits and herbs, then mixed up into cocktails highlighting tastes of the transition from winter to spring. Continue reading

Downtown, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Special: Bibiana’s Aged Cocktails

Photo courtesy of
‘Ready to Mix’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

You’re probably familiar with the fact that wine and whiskey are aged in barrels. But cocktails? It may seem like a trend, popping up in bars in London, Portland and New York for the past year or so, but it’s actually a much older revival – aging cocktail ingredients in oak barrels was a popular technique back at the turn of the last century. But for Bibiana‘s general manager Francesco Amodeo, it’s not a matter of trend. It’s practical.

“I was talking to my mother about their cellar at home,” he tells me, referring to the family home on the Amalfi Coast, “what to do with all the barrels?” His grandfather makes wine, and his mother was looking to get rid of the excess refuse. Francesco jumped at the chance to put them to another use. Starting with two sizes, 1 and 5 liter barrels, he’s crafted two cocktails for Bibiana that were just uncorked for the first time Tuesday evening after three months of aging.

As they’re produced in small quantities (at least until Francesco’s grandfather finishes crafting a 250 liter barrel for him) they’ll go fast, so get over to taste them. Aging cocktails gives the liquor a beautiful toasty quality, rounding out the flavor. Let’s take a closer look at Francesco’s two drinks and the process. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Special: French Wine Tasting

Photo courtesy of
‘Bistro Lepic 01′
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

Last Saturday afternoon, a small group of us were lucky to attend a wine tasting at Bistrot Lepic, courtesy of managing partner Cyrille Brenac. Tucked into a cosy sun-drenched room at the back of the upstairs wine bar, far from the chaos of the crowds on Embassy Row, fellow WLDC author Max and I joined a few readers to learn more about French wine from one of the top authorities in the city. Sampling eight wines in two hours – four whites and four reds from various regions in France – we came away more comfortable on the subject and eager to learn more.

Throughout, I was amazed by the vast knowledge Cyrille shared and though I’ll try to hit the highlights, I can’t hope to replicate it. Luckily, every Tuesday evening from 6pm to 9pm, you can attend a complimentary wine tasting there yourself and I highly recommend it.

So, where to start… How about the mystery behind how you actually taste wine? What are you supposed to do when the glass is placed before you? What about that pesky cork? Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Enjoy French Wine with Us!

Photo courtesy of
‘Mural, Bistrot Lepic’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

This event is now full. Thanks for your interest!

If it were up to me, no one would ever be intimidated about ordering wine ever again. So this Saturday afternoon (May 8) I’m hosting a small gathering at Bistrot Lepic’s upstairs wine bar, where owner Cyrille Brenac will help you understand the mystique of the vine with a flight of three of his favorite wines from Lepic’s collection. It’s informal and complimentary, in a lovely relaxed setting featuring some of the best French wines in the city.

The catch? Limited guest list. So if you’d like to come mingle with me and fellow WLDC author Max Cook as we learn about French wine from Cyrille and document it for a Drinks Special article next week, please respond below (and don’t forget to use a real email address when you fill out the comment form so I can reach you!) and I’ll hook you up with all the details.

Food and Drink, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Special: Holiday Rum Punch

Mixing up rum punch

"Mixing up rum punch" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

The first in an occasional series where we ask local bartenders, mixologists and other libation lovers to show us how to rustle up some specialty drinks. As I can’t fit you all in my kitchen, I’ll bring my kitchen to you.

In just a few weeks, many of us will be joining family and friends for a relaxing, low-key little gathering known as Thanksgiving. Perhaps you’ve been asked to contribute something, and you’re racking your brain for what to do. How about punch?

Ok, not that kind of punch – I’m not advocating holiday violence! Though I know many of us feel like pulling a punch over the holidays, let’s get happy instead. Punch by its communal nature is festive, like an alcoholic water-cooler bringing everyone together as you dip and pour. To help get us in the holiday mood, Dave McCabe tested out my kitchen one afternoon with a winter rum punch. He brought the punch ingredients, we provided the cheese, everyone got happy.

Formerly a manager at Oyamel, Dave is now co-owner of Punk’s Backyard Grill in Annapolis. He explained that the restaurant is dedicated to serving healthy food at reasonable prices, and as a member of the Maryland Green Registry is an avid believer in sustainability. Dave himself is clearly a passionate proponent of honest and simple ingredients, both in food and in cocktails. This punch recipe is both easy and approachable.

But wait, let’s kick up the classic champagne cocktail first. You’re going to need it while you squeeze all those grapefruits and lemons. Continue reading