Tag Archive | "Jeret Peña"

Feast in the Autumn Air at Peeler Farm

Canadian Thanksgiving logo cropped

This fall there is a plethora of chefs from around Texas and San Antonio sourcing their ingredients not just from the farmers markets but at the actual farm.

Here’s one close to home.

On Oct. 12, Peeler Farm is hosting a first-ever Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. Chefs John Russ of Lüke Restaurant and Tim McDiarmid of Tim the Girl Catering & The Special Projects Social are creating a one-time Sunday afternoon feast at the fabulous farm of Marianna and Jason Peeler.

Tim McDiarmid, of Tim the Girl Catering and Special Projects Social. (Courtesy photo)

Tim McDiarmid

McDiarmid, a Canadian native, has high hopes for celebrating the bounty of this locally raised harvest with fellow chef Russ. Located in the idyllic countryside near Floresville, the menu is inspired by the land which hosts a vast range humanely treated animals, including chickens, cows, lambs and goats.

The evening also includes a farm tour upon arrival with classy cocktails crafted by Jeret Pena and The Boulevardier Group of The Brooklynite.

The seasonal, farm-inspired dinner will end with rustic desserts by Elise Broz of Biga on the Banks. Partial proceeds from this event will go to The Raul Jimenez Dinner, a group that provides a Thanksgiving dinner for seniors who would otherwise have nowhere to go for the holiday.

Tickets are $150 and can be purchased by clicking here.


Welcome Hors d Ouerves: Chopped Chicken Liver, Grilled Focaccia, Watermelon Pickles; Texas Crab Deviled Eggs

Family Style Sunday Supper:  Grilled Broccoli Rabe with Preserved Lemon, Roasted Brussels Both Ways, Turnip ‘Puff’, Sweet Potato Hash, Smashed New Potatoes, White Boudin Stuffing, Herb Roasted Chicken, Cast Iron Fried Chicken, Fresh Cranberry Relish, Chicken & Tasso Jus

Dessert Stand: Fresh Fried Apple Cider Donuts, Mission Valley Grapefruit, Almond & Raspberry Trifle, Love Creek Apple Streusel



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Golden Gloves Social House Opens at The Icehouse

Bar owners Jeret Peña and Chris Erck have opened a new drinking concept at the entrance to the Pearl Brewery on Pearl Parkway.

aviation-cocktail2aExperienced bartenders Peña (The Brooklynite) and Erck (Swig, The Worm, TacoLand) are combining cocktails and craft brew in a concept they’re calling The Icehouse. It’s housed in a funky warehouse that’s being converted into a cocktail, craft brew heaven, a complex devoted to good drinking and snacking.

The first phase is open. It’s a cocktail bar called the Golden Gloves Social House, and it’s a place where Peña is offering drinks at affordable prices. The rest of The Icehouse will spring into life later this summer. Expect a beer garden as well as food from some of San Antonio’s capable food trucks.

Jeret Pena“People who just want a beer, don’t have to wait in line behind someone getting a cocktail, and someone getting a cocktail is afforded the time to consider your options,” Peña explains.

The concept is located at 401 Pearl Parkway at the entrance to the Pearl.

 From Emily Reynolds

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Classic Cocktails: Have Your Whiskey Sour Two Ways

For years, the whiskey sour was a simple confection made of fresh lemon juice, syrup, an egg white and, of course, whiskey.

A whiskey sour without the egg white, with a cherry.

A whiskey sour without the egg white, with a cherry.

But when the cocktail fell out of vogue in the late 1960s, processed mixes began appearing as a way of simplifying matters for people too busy to squeeze a lemon. No matter that most of the sweet-and-sour concoctions on the market tasted only of sweet — with a strident chemical aftertaste.

Salmonella fears surrounding eggs led to the elimination of egg whites in cocktails and not just in the whiskey sour.

Soon, a century of tradition disappeared. And with it went once-popular drinks, such as the Ramos gin fizz, the round robin and the bourbon flip.

But the rise in popularity of hand-crafted cocktails has brought back the whiskey sour of the 1870s. There’s now a National Whiskey Sour Day, which was observed Aug. 25. But expectations are greater than ever.

People want a high-quality whiskey, no matter if you want a bourbon, an Irish whiskey or a rye, depending on your tastes.

Jake Corney, head bartender at Bohanan’s, 219 E. Houston St., prefers to use a bourbon that’s been aged in heavily charred barrels, such as Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. “You want a good, solid, spicy bourbon. Nothing too sweet,” he says.

Jeret Peña of the Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave., prefers rye, and you’ll see a vast assortment of them in his bar.

The Brooklynite's whiskey sour, made with an egg white.

The Brooklynite’s whiskey sour, made with an egg white.

“It’s like everything else I love, it’s misunderstood,” he says. “I love the spice element that is associated with rye.  The proper rye can cut through certain flavor profiles.”

Some still avoid the egg white but will squeeze the lemon fresh. The choice is yours.

“I am all about simplicity when making cocktails at home,” Peña says, adding that if you want to use egg whites and are leery about it, you could buy a carton of pasteurized egg whites. (Read the label first to make sure you’re only getting egg whites and no preservatives.)

Here are two variations on the whiskey sour. The first is the classic recipe, the second a playful variation on the original that adds more fruit juice but eliminates the egg white., which adds texture to the drink, Corney says.

It also helps to know your audience before you make the drink. Dale DeGroff, also known as “King Cocktail,” points out in “The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks,” that the British want their whiskey sours to be sour while Americans want a sweeter drink, which may explain why many added maraschino cherries to the mix. You may want to start with less syrup and build it up to suit your taste.

Classic Whiskey Sour

This is the traditional way a whiskey sour was made before the advent of sweet-and-sour mixes and artificial lemon, Corney says.

2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 egg white
Bitters, your choice

In a dry shaker (without ice), add bourbon, syrup, lime juice and egg white and shake vigorously. Then add ice and continue to shake vigorously until chilled. Pour into a cocktail glass. Top with 3-4 drops (not dashes) of bitters and make a swirl effect on the egg foam, if desired; otherwise, use a heavy single dash of the bitters of your choice. Carney prefers Angosturra for this drink. Serve.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Jake Corney, Bohanan’s

Kilbeggan Secret Sour

Kilbeggan Secret Sour

Kilbeggan Secret Sour

This variation on the classic, from Joaquin Simo, head mixologist at Pouring Ribbons in New York, uses a touch of grapefruit juice and a dash of orange bitters to add to the sour tang of the drink.

1 ½ parts Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
1 ½ parts club soda
¾ part dry vermouth
¾ part simple syrup
½ part fresh lemon juice
½ part fresh grapefruit juice
1 dash orange bitters
Lemon peel, for garnish

Combine whiskey, club soda, vermouth, syrup, lemon juice, grapefruit juice and orange bitters in a mixing glass over ice and shake. Strain into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Joaquin Simo, Pouring Ribbon/Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

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Learn the Art of Mixing Craft Cocktails from One of the City’s Top Mixologists

Jeret Peña

Jeret Peña

It’s a scary situation, one you’ll likely find in a Roy Lichtenstein cartoon. One evening, you’re making cocktails for your friends. Suddenly feelings of angst flood your system. Cue the theremin music. You stop, raise a hand to your chin and ponder: Should I shake or should I stir?

You’ll never have to face another cocktail conundrum again, if you learn from one of the city’s master mixologists. And Jeret Peña, owner of the Brooklynite, is ready to teach you.

He’ll be offering a technique and recipe seminar at his popular bar, 516 Brooklyn Ave., from 7:30 to 9 p.m. July 27.

So many possibilities. .

So many possibilities. .

In the 90-minute session, you’ll be greeted with a welcome cocktail, followed by the class itself in which you’ll get Peña’s recipes for seven craft cocktails. You’ll get three craft cocktail samples and some small bites to enjoy during the class. At the end, a closing cocktail will be served, and you’ll receive some take-home cocktail mix (just add liquor).

The cost of the seminar, cocktails, samples and recipes is $50.

Call the Brooklynite at (210) 444-0707 to reserve your spot. And call a cab if you stick around to enjoy a cocktail or two more after class.


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Syrup Doesn’t Have to Be Simple

You don't need fancy containers to store your simple syrup (left) and flavored syrup, such as Liberty Bar's hoja santa syrup (right).

You don’t need fancy containers to store your simple syrup (left) and flavored syrup, such as Liberty Bar’s hoja santa syrup (right).

The bartender at the opening of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference handed me an icy mixed drink and began to rattle off the ingredients. “Drambuie, pisco, lemon juice, Earl Grey simple syrup …”

Wait a minute there, I said. Earl Grey simple syrup. What’s that? Sweat tea?

Sort of, she laughed. Then she explained that it was a simple syrup flavored with Earl Grey tea, known for its bergamot flavor. She didn’t have an exact recipe for how to make this at home, since her container appeared to contain more than three gallons.

But she did suggest trying 4 or 5 tea bags added to your basic recipe for syrup.

Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener in which the sugar has been dissolved already, so you don’t get that gritty sediment at the bottom of your glass that happens when you add sugar to cold tea. The recipe is simplicity itself: Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water over heat until the sugar crystals disappear. Cool. And use in your favorite cocktails.

With the Earl Grey, you’d steep those tea bags in simmering water for a few minutes before stirring in the sugar.

Of course, syrups have been a part of cocktail culture for a long time, from adding a splash of grenadine to finish off a Tequila Sunrise to stirring some ginger syrup (see recipe below) into a Moscow Mule for an extra kick. Back home in Kentucky, we add mint to simple syrup before making mint juleps for the derby.

Make your own flavored syrups for cocktails.

Make your own flavored syrups for cocktails.

More and more syrups are being incorporated into the world of handcrafted cocktails these days as a means of adding dimension as well as balance to drinks. And as with any cooking, the limits of what syrups you create are strictly those of your imagination.

They are also cost-effective, says Jeret Peña, owner of the Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave.

“Flavored simple syrups are the best way to add flavor to a drink without spending an arm and a leg at a liquor store,” he says. “Why buy a framboise when you can buy organic raspberries and muddle them into a bowl filled with simple syrup? Leave for a few days and — boom! — you have a traditional raspberry syrup.”

Not every flavor is so easy and not every ingredient is readily available, Peña says, citing several obscure items, such as “an elderflower, hops or certain spices.”

Why use a simple syrup instead of infusing an alcohol?

“Here is another way to look at infusions,” Peña says “I have a peanut-washed bourbon on menu. I can’t imagine it working with gin or tequila, so there is no reason to replicate it in anything other than the bourbon. The opposite to this theory is the use of certain items that can easily be used with multiple items. In this case, I love making hopped syrups because it can work with a multitude of spirits, such as gin, tequila and even Irish whiskey.”

The market is full of a number of infused vodkas, but you won’t find that otherwise flavorless liquor getting too much respect from makers of hand-crafted cocktails.

As Peña says, “Vodka seems to be far removed from my craft, and the thought of infusing it seems even further. I always tell people if they want a flavored vodka, try gin.”

Liberty Bar's Santa Pepin (left) and Ruby Menta.

Liberty Bar’s Santa Pepin (left) and Ruby Menta.

A friend of mine, Glenn Drown, has made a blackberry syrup for cocktails using a recipe that’s almost the same as making jelly, only you don’t cook it long enough to let it jell. He likes it mixed with vodka and lemon juice. He also said he’d like to use a bit of syrup to help rim glasses with either sugar or salt for cocktails.

To get started, think of flavors that you like in your cocktails.

Want something tart? Try a pomegranate syrup, which can be made several ways. One involves dissolving pomegranate molasses in a little boiling water, not to dilute the flavor but to dissolve any sugar crystals and to make it more liquid and easier to mix in a cocktail. Another involves using pomegranate juice, sugar and boiling water. These variations are different from many commercial grenadines, which can be made from any number of dark fruits nowadays, including black currants, or have unwelcome ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup added. So, if you’re a stickler for handcrafted cocktails, make your own pomegranate syrup the next time you make a pair of Fresh Pears (see recipe below) at home.

Almond syrup involves water, sugar and almond extract. A coconut variation would be made with, you guessed it, coconut extract. I could see myself going through my spice cabinet and hauling out everything from peppermint extract to jackfruit, and playing around with the resulting syrups. They don’t have to be sweet or fruit flavors either. Think of syrups infused with vanilla, basil or saffron.

Or think of the hoja santa syrup that Liberty Bar, 1111 S. Alamo St., uses in its Santa Pepin cocktail. “We dry fresh hoja santa leaves from the bush by the elevator,” says Katie McKee. “It is my understanding that dried hoja santa can be found, but we like using the fresh.”

If you make your own berry syrups, especially with the likes of seedy blackberries or raspberries, make sure you double strain the final product. You don’t want your guests to be picking their teeth because of your cocktail.

Of course, there’s chocolate syrup out there, which is used for Black Russians among other sweet favorites. If you are buying a prefab syrup, such as Hershey’s, read the label first and give it a taste. Be alert for chemical finishes and off-putting additives or flavor flaws that could be magnified when shaken into your cocktail.

Or, if you prefer, you could make your own chocolate syrup (see recipe below). It not only tastes better and the quality is not only higher, whether you’re using it in a cocktail or on ice cream (or both), it’s also less expensive. And that’s something not to overlooked when you consider the cost of a good bottle of tequila or bourbon these days.

Liberty Bar photos by Phillip Kent.

Liberty Bar's Ruby Menta

Liberty Bar’s Ruby Menta

Liberty Bar’s Ruby Menta

1 1/4 ounces Ilegal Mezcal Jovan (skanky mezcal will not do)
1 ounce fresh squeezed Texas Ruby Red grapefruit juice
Juice from 1/2 fresh squeezed lime
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Fresh mint leaves (3 big or 5 little)

Muddle mezcal, grapefruit juice, lime juice, syrup and mint well. Shake, strain and pour over ice or serve up in a martini glass.

Garnish with a fresh lime twist.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Nate Cassie/Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar’s Santa Pepin

1 cup dry hoja santa leaves, crumbled
1 quart simple syrup
Ancho chile powder
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
3 slices English cucumber
2 ounces Don Julio Blanco tequila
Cucumber slice, for garnish

Place the crumbled dry hoja santa leaves and the simple syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes then remove from heat. Let it cool, then fine strain the mixture. It can be used immediately or refrigerated for later use.

Rim glass with ancho chile powder. Again, this specific touch makes a huge difference

Combine lemon juice, English cucumber slices, 1 ounce of hoja santa simple syrup and ice into a shaker cup. Muddle. Add Don Julio Blanco tequila, shake well and strain into ancho chile-rimmed glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Katie McKee/Liberty Bar

Chocolate Syrup

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the water, sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a saucepan over low heat; whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and begins to simmer. Remove from heat and stir the vanilla into the sauce. Serve warm or cover and refrigerate until serving.

Makes 1 pint.


Ginger Syrup

1 cup unpeeled, washed fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 cups sugar
3 cups water

Process ginger chunks in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Place in a large stock pot. Add sugar and water to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for one hour until a rich syrup is created. Strain the syrup twice through cheese cloth or a sieve into a large jar or bottle. Refrigerate.

Makes about 4 pints.

Adapted from Betty Fraser and Denise DeCarlo, Grub, Hollywood, Calif./Imbibe

Fresh Pear

1 medium Bosc pear
2 tablespoons citrus-infused vodka
1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
3 tablespoons hard apple cider
Pear slices

Shred pear; place pulp on several layers of cheesecloth. Gather edge of cheesecloth together; squeeze over a glass measuring cup to yield 1/3 cup juice. Discard solids. Combine pear juice, vodka, pomegranate juice, lime juice, and promegranate syrup in a martini shaker with ice; shake. Strain about 3 tablespoons vodka mixture into each of 2 martini glasses. Top each serving with 1 1/2 tablespoons hard apple cider. Garnish with pear slices.

Makes 2 cocktails.

Adapted from


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A Free Cocktail at the Esquire – No Fooling

The Esquire Tavern is celebrating its first birthday on April Fool’s Day. And it’s offering a free drink to every patron that evening.

The bar, at 155 E. Commerce St., opened a year ago under new management, restoring to the River Walk a landmark known for the oldest wooden bar in San Antonio and the supposedly the longest bar in the state. Excellent cocktails and great bites have been hallmarks of its return.

Award-winning head barman Jeret Peña is creating a special spring concoction called Fool’s Punch for the occasion. It’s made with ginger beer, cucumber, lemon, mint and gin, making it a 19th century cocktail with a very modern twist.

The party Sunday will be from 3 to 8 p.m.  For more information on the Esquire, click here.


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