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Raise a Toast to Mom


Red Velvet Cocktail at Morton's.

Are you planning a brunch for Mother’s Day? Try one of these eye-openers from Morton’s the Steakhouse, 300 E. Crockett St., and Fogo de Chão, 849 E. Commerce St.

Red Velvet Cocktail

2 ounces Lindemans Raspberry Lambic
4 ounces Prosecco
5 ounces Chambord
Lemon peel
1 raspberry

In a mixing glass, stir in the lambic, Prosecco and Chambord with ice for 5 seconds. Strain into champagne flute.

Squeeze lemon peel over glass and discard peel. Garnish with fresh raspberry on a pick. Drink should have a foam cap.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Morton’s the Steakhouse

Elderflower Elixir and Super Fruit Sunrise from Fogo de Chão.

Elderflower Elixir

2 ounces Patrón Silver Tequila, or more to taste
1 ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, or more to taste
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
Club soda

In a highball glass filled with ice, pour in tequila, St. Germain and lime juice. Finish with club soda. Stir. Garnish with mint and raspberries, to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Fogo de Chão.

Super Fruit Sunrise

1 ounce VeeV Açai liquor, or to taste
1 ounce Patrón Silver Tequila, or to taste
1 ounce Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, or to taste
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Club soda

In an ice-filled Tom Collins glass, pour in VeeV, tequila, Pama and lime juice. Finish off with club soda. Garnish with lime and raspberries to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Fogo de Chão.

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What’s Shakin’ This Fiesta? Some Fun Cocktails


Want to keep that Fiesta spirit going? Try one of these cocktails from several restaurants around town. Two come from Bohanan’s Bar, 219 E. Houston St.; a third comes from Wildfish Seafood Grille, 1834 N. Loop 1604 W.; and the last from Roaring Fork, 1806 N. Loop 1604 W.

Have fun playing around with the ingredients so you get the drink you’d like. That could mean a little more ginger beer in one, a little less Tabasco sauce in another. And enjoy.

Fiesta Medal-icious

Fiesta Medal-icious

½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ¼ ounces aged rum
Ginger beer
Lime wedge

Pour lime juice and rum in a Collins glass filled with ice.  Fill with ginger beer.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bohanan’s Bar

FiestaTail

FiestaTail

7/8 ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce sugar
2 ounces gin
Mint leaves

In an ice-filled shaker, add lime juice, sugar and gin. Pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with mint leaves, to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bohanan’s Bar

WildFiestaFishTini

WildFiestaFishTini

Cucumber slices, peeled
Lime juice
Olive juice
Rain Cucumber Vodka
Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce
Bud Light
Cucumber slices, cocktail onion and blue cheese-stuffed olive for garnish

Take a shaker with a little ice, cucumbers, lime juice and olive juice, and muddle together. Fill shaker with ice, add Rain Cucumber Vodka, Zing Zang, a splash of Worcestershire and Tabasco, to taste. Shake well. Serve in a salted rim martini glass with a Bud Light on the side.

Garnish with cucumber, cocktail onion, and a blue cheese-stuffed olive flag.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Wildfish Seafood Grille

Roaring Fork Sangrita

Roaring Fork Sangrita

10 ounces frozen margarita
Roaring Fork Red Sangria (recipe below)
Lime wedge, orange wedge and cherry for garnish

Red Sangria:
4 ounces red wine
2 ounces raspberry purée
2 ounces huckleberry purée or blueberry purée

Take a glass with 10 ounces of frozen margarita in it. Swirl in red sangria. Garnish with lime, orange and cherry.

To make Red Sangria, mix wine and purées.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Roaring Fork

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First Look: The Esquire Returns


The Esquire Tavern at night.

If the walls at the Esquire Tavern could talk, the stories they would tell would not be fit for family consumption. But, oh, how we love sharing those tales, big as Texas and full of spice. A friend who worked at a nearby bank still laughs when she remembers seeing a naked man come stumbling out of the place at the same time she arrived for work one morning. What happened to him — or, more interestingly, to his clothes? We’ll never know.

All of the anecdotes, even the rough ones, seemed to take on a nostalgic glow when the venerated bar closed down several years ago.

Now, the Esquire is back, and downtown San Antonio is the better for it. The Commerce Street institution has been spiffed up a bit. Jill Giles reportedly worked on the design, which manages to capture the historical flavor of the place while making it inviting. The lighting is still fairly dim, though, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from going into a bar before, especially if you’re looking for a cold drink away from the hot San Antonio sun.  The clientele is a little different, too, if one manager is to be believed. I heard him tell another customer this incarnation has “no whores, no drugs.”

The kitchen at the Esquire.

It does have a kitchen, though, which is producing some tasty treats. They include pulled pork sandwiches, which made several customers very happy, if overheard comments are to be believed, and a burger.

I opted for the bison burger, which was incredibly juicy and accented by a bit of tangy onion. The size was right for a bar bite, but it may seem small for those looking for the half-pounder you’d find in a restaurant. A side of fresh, house-made giardinara had a touch of jalapeño spice that was just right; I could have eaten a whole plate of the carrots, cauliflower and other vegetables. I also ordered a plate of traditional deviled eggs that were were so snacky, the plate was empty before I knew it.

Good as the food is, the Esquire is still predominantly a bar. On Friday, the opening night, it had all the basics, with bottle after bottle lining the back. But it was missing a few essentials. A friend recommended that I order one of the house cocktails; that was impossible because the bar had run out of several ingredients. Next, I tried to order a Pimm’s Cup. Not on the menu, the waiter said. Moscow Mule? Nope, all the ginger beer was gone, he said. That scratched the next five drinks off my wish list. In the end, I settled for a Dale’s Pale Ale, a hoppy canned beer with a great floral finish that stays long after the beer is gone. Besides, an ice-cold beer is what the

Deviled eggs at the Esquire.

I had a ticket for the San Antonio Symphony that night, so I left after finishing the food. But I returned to the Esquire after the excellent concert and discovered the joint was still jumping. I finally managed to get a bartender’s attention and ordered a Mark Collins (like his cousin, Tom, only made with bourbon). I was in luck: He had the ingredients to make the drink. Except he forgot the order in the bustle of the evening, leaving me to stand there contemplating the various bottles in the well-stocked bar. Amid the liquid treasures was an unopened bottle of Pimm’s No. 1. (I’m going back for a Pimm’s Cup, even if I have to explain to the bartender how to make it.)

After 10 minutes or so, I was finally able to get his attention again, and the drink, this time, appeared quickly. It was worth the wait. The ice was extremely cold and didn’t seem to melt, thereby watering down the drink. The toasted sweetness of the bourbon was mixed with lemon in a good proportion, offering the sweet-tart tang I wanted. And it was great to sip on the bar’s patio, which overlooks a fairly calm corner of the river.

The Esquire has only been open a few days, so the management is still working out the kinks. The biggest is service, which prompted a story to add to the folklore of the place. I was pleased to find a booth immediately upon entering the place, so I grabbed it and proceeded to read one of my textbooks while waiting for someone to take my order. After 10 minutes or so, I saw an old friend at the bar across the aisle. I got up to greet him, and while I was standing there, not even three feet from the table, a waiter appeared and proceeded to clear my book off the table. I sat quickly down again and placed my drink order.

The buffalo burger at the Esquire.

He returned with water, took my food order and left. Another old friend appeared at the bar, and I crossed to say hello. Again, the waiter popped up out of nowhere and started to clear book and water pitcher. I slid back into the booth as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to confuse him any more. I’m glad I didn’t see any other friends on that visit, because I was not moving any more until I had eaten.

Welcome back, the Esquire. Here’s to all the stories and memories we’ll create in the future.

The Esquire Tavern
155 E. Commerce St.
210-222-2521
Open daily at 11 a.m.

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It’s Time to Party!


Mardi Gras is just around the corner. Are you ready to party?

Fat Tuesday is a time to celebrate the bounteous flavors we have before some of us embark on 40 days of self-sacrifice. So, before you exorcise your demons, exercise them in a bacchanalia worthy of the Big Easy.

It is in that spirit that we offer three recipes. One is for a traditional Creole soup filled with oysters, artichokes, butter and more wonderful things.

Second is a gumbo chock full of ham, shrimp and crabmeat, as well as the traditional okra. (Gumbo is an African word for okra, so the dish was created with the vegetable in mind. If you don’t like the slime, follow the recipe closely.)

Finally, what’s a party without a great cocktail or two? To make sure you imbibe something wonderful, we offer a recipe for a Big Easy tradition, the Cocktail à la Louisiane, an irresistible blend of whiskey, Benedictine, Peychaud bitters and other wonders. (I found the Peychaud Bitters at Spec’s.)

From our files are a few more recipes and ideas to make your Mardi Gras even more flavorful:

Sandy White’s Crazy Good Gumbo

A Genuine Sazarac

Last-Minute Mardi Gras

Callaloo

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The Grilling’s Great at Watermark


Watermark Grill, 18740 Stone Oak Parkway, is celebrating the breezy days of summer with a host of events.

Enjoy the warm weather while dining on the patio, where you’ll find oysters and clams on the half shell, grilled shrimp skewers, grilled oysters and buckets of beer. Some of the summertime cocktails on the menu include Red Tides, made with hibiscus- and maraschino cherry-infused vodka and fresh lemonade, and Lemon Swells, citrus-infused vodka with fresh lemon juice and sugar. The party on the patio is every Thursday through Saturday starting at 6 p.m.

Saturday night is lobster night. Patrons can choose from several preparations, including Northeastern Lobster Bake ($44.95), Naked Lobster ($36.95), Lobster Fra Diavolo ($36.95) and Market Lobster ($24.95 per pound) every Saturday night.

Visit www.watermarkgrill.net or call 210-225-5555 for more information.

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Ask a Foodie: How Do You Give Peaches a Kick?


Infuse your brandy with the flavor of peaches.

Q. How would I go about making peach brandy?

– Bruce V.

A. Peaches are plentiful this season, and they can be used for a variety of old-fashioned treats, including pie, ice cream, even tiramisú. But why stop there? Infuse your favorite liqueur with the summer fruit, and you’ll be able to savor it all year long.

I found a recipe for Peach Liqueur in the book “Infused: 100+ Recipes for Infused Liqueurs and Cocktails” by Susan Elia MacNeal, who offers a basic recipe for instilling the flavor in a host of distilled drinks, including brandy, vodka, rum, tequila or Cognac.

Peach Liqueur

1 (750-milliliter) bottle brandy, vodka, rum, tequila or Cognac
12 peaches
1/4 to 1 cup simple syrup or agave nectar, optional

Decant the spirits into a clean 2-quart (2-liter) glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Soak the original bottle to remove the label. Let dry.

Cut the peaches in half and thinly slice. Add the peaches and their pits to the spirits. Allow the spirits to infuse away from direct sunlight and intense heat for 1 month. Shake the container a few times each week.

When you’re satisfied with the intensity of flavor, strain the liqueur through a metal sieve into a bowl. Discard the solids. Add the sugar syrup to taste, if desired.

Using a funnel, pour the liqueur into the original bottle (or another container). Label with the name of the liqueur and the date. Age the liqueur for 1 month away from light and heat.

Variations: Use your favorite honey in place of the sugar syrup. Add 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, the zest of 1/2 lemon, or 6 whole cloves with the peaches.

Makes 1 (750-milliliter) bottle.

Source: “Infused: 100+ Recipes for Infused Liqueurs and Cocktails” by Susan Elia MacNeal

If you have a question for Ask a Foodie, e-mail info@savorsa.com.

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Mistology Makes Its Mark on Mixology


The following cocktails are updated versions of old favorites using whiskey, specifically Canadian Mist.

Mistopolitan

2 ounces Canadian Mist
3 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce triple sec
Splash of lime juice
Lime slice

Combine whiskey, cranberry juice, triple sec and lime juice with ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with lime.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Canadian Mist

Mist Fizz

1 ½ ounces Canadian Mist
5 ounces ginger ale
Lemon twist or cherry for garnish

Pour whiskey and ginger ale into tall glass of ice. Garnish with lemon twist or cherry.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Canadian Mist

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A Mist-ical Evening at the McNay


Tim Laird and Steven Hughes of Canadian Mist

When Steven Hughes was growing up, he never dreamed his studies would lead to a job with the title master blender/spirits scientist.

Likewise, Tim Laird’s visions of being a CEO had little to do with being “chief entertaining officer.”

Yet that’s what the two have become for Canadian Mist. Together, they’re a sort of a contemporary Martin and Lewis, traveling the country to extol the virtues of the whiskey cocktail in a manner that’s tasty, humorous and maybe even a little enlightening.

The duo will be at the McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels, this Thursday for a special presentation that benefits the museum, “Mistology: The Science Behind the Cocktail.”

The purpose? “We want to get you thinking differently about your whiskey cocktails,” Hughes said in a telephone conference call recently.

Mistopolitan

To do that, they talk about a few favorites, such as the old fashioned and the whiskey sour. Hughes presents the science behind the distillation of whiskey as well as the history of the cocktail, while Laird provides “the entertainment.”

“Did you know that the original whiskey sour was made with egg whites?” Laird said, adding that the recipe was once a mixture of whiskey, simple syrup, egg white and freshly squeeze lemon juice.

The perfect simplicity of that drink, like many other potent potables, got corrupted over the years with the introduction of corn syrup-filled mixers, prefab citrus products that have no real citrus in them and other shortcuts that cut the cocktail short on flavor.

But with a growing interest in handcrafted drinks across the country, thanks in part to period movies on cable and shows like the two-martini lunch world of “Mad Men,” an increasing number of people are refusing to settle for a second-rate drink.

That’s where Hughes and Laird step in. “We want to take the intimidation away from making cocktails,” Laird said. “We want you to have fun at home and entertain with these things.”

Mist Fizz

One drink on the menu is sure to be a surprise to some in attendance. The duo plan to present a whiskey version of the cocktail that practically flows in our veins here in San Antonio. I mean, of course, the margarita.

Their variation is made with Canadian Mist, a Canadian whiskey, as well as lime juice and agave nectar. Laird assured me that it was not meant to replace our old standby, but merely to offer a new way of thinking about it.

Whichever way you make it, don’t forget to use freshly squeezed lime juice, both said. It makes all the difference in the world in terms of flavor and is one of the basic building blocks of an outstanding cocktail.

“If we can get you to be more conscious of simple, fresh ingredients, that’s a great first step” Hughes said.

Only a few tickets remain for “Mistology: The Science Behind the Cocktail,” which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday at the McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels. The event is open to anyone 21 years of age and older with admission of $8 per museum member or $10 per non-member. All proceeds benefit the McNay. Call (210) 805-1763 or e-mail reservations@mcnayart.org.

For a pair of recipes for Canadian Mist-based cocktails, click here.

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Sip Something Out of the Blue


Here are two cocktails inspired by the blues of “Avatar.” The color in the drinks comes from blue curaçao, a sweet form of triple sec that has an orange flavor. Because of the added sweetness, you won’t need to add any simple syrup.

“Avatar”-tini

2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce blue curaçao
Splash of pineapple juice, if desired
Orange slice for garnish

In an ice-filled shaker, pour in vodka, curaçao and pineapple juice, if using. Shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange slice.

Makes 1 cocktail.

You can make a pitcher of these, using a 4:1 ratio of vodka to blue curaçao.

From John Griffin

“Avatar”-ita

2 ounces silver tequila
1 ounce blue curaçao
1 ounce triple sec
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice, or less, to taste
1 slice of orange

In an ice-filled shaker, mix tequila, blue curaçao, triple sec and lime juice. Shake vigorously and pour, ice and all, into a salt- or sugar-rimmed margarita glass. Squeeze the juice from one slice of orange on top. Serve.

Makes 1 cocktail.

If you want to make a pitcher of these, use the ratio of 1:1:1 of tequila to orange-flavored liquors to lime juice. (Use less lime juice to taste.)

From John Griffin

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Griffin to Go: Drink in Some Mardi Gras Spirit


The cover of the book says it all: “Famous New Orleans Drinks (And How to Mix ‘Em).”

Well, almost all. This gem from one Stanley Clisby Arthur was first printed in 1937, a few years before the introduction of the Hurricane by Pat O’Brien, whose name still graces a chain of bars, including one on the River Walk.

But don’t let that deter you from searching out this slender volume, because it is a treasure trove of facts and stories behind the potent potables that dominated the Big Easy, and many a Southern bar, during the era. It’s little wonder the book is still in print today.

My copy, given to me by dear friends who understand the joys of a well-mixed cocktail and a well-spun story, is from the book’s fourth printing, which was in April 1941. The country was still months away from the second world war at that time, and some areas were only beginning to emerge from the Great Depression.

Though Prohibition had ended only a few years before, Arthur proudly hails his city as “the home of civilized drinking” for more than a century.

He doesn’t stop there: “The flowing bowl and the adept mixing of what went in it has constituted as high an art in this Creole city as the incomparable cooking for which it is famed.”

To prove his point, Arthur offers recipes for drinks that are still shaken, stirred and layered at many a New Orleans haunt, including the Sazerac, the Absinthe Frappé, Ramos Gin Fizz and Planter’s Punch.

“The quality of mixed drinks as served in New Orleans has always appealed to the sophisticated taste,” Arthur writes. “It was here that your most modern of American beverages, the cocktail, first came into being and was given its jaunty name.”

Etymological stories are of particular interest to the author. The term “julep,” for example, dates as far back as 1400 A.D., he writes, “long before we ever heard of the Southern States of these United States, where the julep is popularly supposed to be indigenous.”

But Arthur doesn’t stop there. He goes on to give advice about how to make a julep that will keep you smiling: “Don’t use rye whiskey in making a julep. If you do use whiskey, let it be Bourbon, which serves its highest purpose when it becomes a component part of that prince of all thirst-quenchers known as the Mint Julep.” As a Kentuckian who honors the derby each May, I heartily concur.

I also love the fact that so much of the lore remains up-to-date more than 70 years after the book’s initial publication. Take this passage on one of the Latin Quarter’s still-popular nightspots: “Of all the ancient buildings in New Orleans’ famed Vieux Carré, none has been more glorified in story and picture than a square, plastered-brick building at the corner of Bourbon and Bienville streets, known as the Old Absinthe House.”

The building, erected in 1806, was originally used for importing, then bartering foodstuffs and tobacco. Over the course of its history, it became a grocery, a boot shop, and, in 1846, “a coffee-house, as saloons were then called.”

Today, you can taste a cocktail made with real absinthe there.

Absinthe, or actually something called “absinthe substitute” (which I would take to be Herbsaint, Pernod or a similarly anise-flavored alcohol), is a key ingredient in the Sazerac recipe included in the book. But it wasn’t always part of the mix. And Arthur is more than happy to offer the evolution of a drink, when he can. Especially when the drink in question is considered “the best known of all New Orleans cocktails.”

The original recipe called for Peychaud’s bitters, which were created in New Orleans by a druggist named Antoine Amédée Peychaud. It remains a key ingredient today; not so the alcohol it was meant to complement. It seems brandy was a little too European for American tastes, so rye whiskey elbowed its way into the mix. With that change came the addition of absinthe.

“But this history delving is dry stuff,” Arthur notes, “so let’s sample a genuine Sazerac.”

Indeed.

A Genuine Sazerac

1 lump sugar
3 drops Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 jigger rye whiskey
1 dash absinthe substitute
1 slice lemon peel

[amazon-product]0882891324[/amazon-product]To mix a Sazerac requires two heavy-bottomed, 3 1/2-ounce bar glasses. One is filled with cracked ice and allowed to chill. In the other a lump of sugar is placed with just enough water to moisten it. The saturated loaf of sugar is then crushed with a barspoon. Add a few drops of Peychaud’s bitters, a dash of Angostura, a jigger of rye whiskey, for while Bourbon may do for a julep, it just won’t do for a real Sazerac. To the glass containing sugar, bitters and rye, add several lumps of ice and stir. Never use a shaker! Empty the first glass of its ice, dash in several drops of absinthe … enough will cling to the glass to give the needed flavor. Strain into this glass the whiskey mixture, twist a piece of lemon peel over it for the needed zest of that small drop of oil thus extracted from the peel, but do not commit the sacrilege of dropping the peel into the drink. Some bartenders put a cherry in a Sazerac; very pretty but not necessary.

M-m-m-m-m! Let’s have another!

From “Famous New Orleans Drinks (And How to Mix ‘Em)” by Stanley Clisby Arthur

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