Charlotte Voisey: On Molecular Mixology and Being a Bartender

Charlotte Voisy shaking.jpg
Charlotte Voisey
Chef Salad takes a detour this week and next, interviewing four of the country's leading beverage industry experts, all of them speakers at upcoming seminars held at the Hotel Valley Ho for the second annual Arizona Cocktail Week, February 16-22.

See also:
--6 Don't Miss Events During AZ Cocktail Week
-- Citizen Public House Plans to Unveil Carbonated Bottled Cocktail on New Year's Eve
-- Dwayne Allen of Rum Bar Gives a Tasty Tutorial on Rum

Today, you'll hear from Charlotte Voisey, Best American Brands Ambassador and two-time Golden Spirit Award Winner at Tales of the Cocktail. If you missed Steve Olson's erudite list of trending wines and spirits -- and those destined to be hot in the very near future, read it here.

More »

6 Don't-Miss Events During AZ Cocktail Week: Feb 16-22

AZ Cocktail Week --outdoor VH.jpg
Courtesy of AZ Cocktail Week
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Phoenix is becoming a bona-fide food-town, "becoming" (present progressive) being the operative word. Exhibit A, for your consideration: the second annual Arizona Cocktail Week, a seven-day series of boozy events -- some educational, others not so much -- bringing some of the biggest names in the beverage industry together in one place: Steve Olson, Dale DeGroff, Charlotte Voisey, Tobin Ellis, H. Joseph Ehrmann, Tony Abou-Ganim and dozens more -- right here. In the little food-town that could.

See also:
-- AZ Cocktail Week Kicks Off Feb. 16: Expect a Carnival, Competition and Seminars. Better Line Up a Designated Driver
-- The 11 Best Things I Drank in 2012

It's going to be a grand time, but if you don't have $295 to spend on a ticket that gets you into everything, you're going to have to make some hard decisions. I've read the Arizona Cocktail Week website, talked to people and dithered considerably. Here are the six events I don't want to miss, arranged chronologically.

More »

Dwayne Allen of Rum Bar Gives a Tasty Tutorial on Rum

Rum Bar -- 3 fancy rums.jpg
Three fancy rums
If you've ever been inclined to dismiss rum as a legitimate spirit because of slushy vats of hot pink strawberry daiquiris, flaming tiki drinks or frat boys chugging Bacardi and Coke, hang on one little minute. Dwayne Allen, who co-owns The Breadfruit and Rum Bar with his partner Danielle Leoni, is just the guy to give you a much-needed attitude adjustment. His father's family has been growing sugar cane in Jamaica's St. Elizabeth Parrish and selling it to prestigious rum producer Appleton Estate for generations. "Rum is in my blood," he says only half-jokingly.

See also:
-- The 11 Best Things I Drank in 2012

At Rum Bar, Allen offers 137 different bottles of rum, not one of them labeled Bacardi or Captain Morgan. So listen up because he makes a pretty strong case for rum being as sophisticated as it is fun.

More »

After Many Delays, Matt Carter Opens The House in Old Town

The House -- sign.jpg
See also: Chef Matt Carter to Open New Restaurant in Scottsdale
See also: Here's the Lineup for This Year's Dine Out With the Chef's Event

After weeks of delay, Matt Carter, Terry Ellisor and Brian Raab quietly opened The House at 6936 E. Main Street in Old Town Scottsdale on Wednesday night. The partners had planned to open the restaurant -- housed in a charming 1929 bungalow said to be the second oldest house in Scottsdale -- earlier in the summer, but they had issues with the city over the interior sprinklers, installed in case of fire.

Carter says the place still has a number of minor logistical issues to be resolved, but the city and the fire marshall have signed off on everything, and now they're up and running.

More »

Jim Meehan's Green Deacon

Categories: Behind the Bar

Yesterday we met Jim Meehan, bartender at New York speakeasy PDT. Today he shares with us the recipe for the Green Deacon, a drink included in The PDT Cocktail Book. According to Meehan, the cocktail's based on a recipe in Stan Jones' Complete Bar Guide called the Rosy Deacon. One night in fall 2008, Meehan served it to a friend, who suggested that something was missing. The green fairy fit the role perfectly.

More »

Secret Entrances and Cocktail Books with Jim Meehan of New York's PDT

Categories: Behind the Bar

The tender: Jim Meehan
The bar: PDT (113 St. Marks Place, New York, 212-614-0386)
The pedigree: Meehan began bartending in Madison, Wisc. At the tender age of 18. He moved to New York in 2002, and after jumping around several other restaurants and bars, opened his speakeasy PDT (Please Don't Tell) in 2007. The bar's become famous not just for its entrance -- a phone booth inside an East Village hot dog joint that, when a number is dialed, opens a secret door -- but also for the inventive, contemporary cocktails Meehan serves up. He stopped in Phoenix to make a few drinks and promote The PDT Cocktail Book, a cocktail recipe and bar management guide he authored with illustrations by Tucson native Chris Gall.

So, a speakeasy. How did you decide this is what you wanted your bar to be?
There are a lot of dimensions to bartending, obviously. You can bartend at beer bars, hotel bars, neighborhood places, mixology bars. I've been interested in all of it. In 2003 there were just a few cocktail bars in New York. I think bartenders are naturally opportunistic, and I saw an amazing opportunity to start something unique and I went for it.

More »

Chris Lingua's Rimbaud's Left Hand

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

Yesterday we met Chris Lingua, bar manager at the dimly-lit Scottsdale speakeasy Kazimierz World Wine Bar

Today he shares with us the recipe for Rimbaud's Left Hand, a drink created by a bartender in Chicago with this story behind it: The drink is named for Arthur Rimbaud, a 19th century French poet. The story goes that Rimbaud, an absinthe drinker, wanted to return to Paris, but his lover and fellow poet, Paul Verlaine, didn't. So Verlaine did what any sensible boyfriend would do and shot the dude's left hand clean off.

"The history is cool enough, and I like telling the story, but the drink is just different than anything you've ever had," Lingua says. "It has six ingredients, so it's getting up there as far as number of ingredients goes. But I like to think of it as a hand -- one for each finger, plus the egg white."

More »

Chris Lingua at Kazimierz World Wine Bar

Categories: Behind the Bar
Chris Lingua.jpg
Zach Fowle

The tender: Chris Lingua
The bar: Kazimierz World Wine Bar (7137 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, 480-946-3004)
The pedigree: You could say Lingua came into Kazimierz, as most do, through the back door. He had long been a cook -- first for sandwich-board places throughout high school and college, then at Cowboy Ciao. He was about to take off for California two years ago, but personnel changes at Kazimierz prompted owner Pete Kasperski to offer Lingua a bar management position. He took to designing a new food menu and a good portion of the cocktail list, and February he'll have been behind Kazimierz's bar for two years.

You were about to leave Arizona, but this place's owner asked you to stay and gave you a promotion. Were you that great a cook?
I wasn't bad. I was good enough to work at Noca during its heyday, and my palate's pretty good. I've done the menu for a couple wine dinners when we've had big wine makers come through. What it all comes down to, if they were going to have me wear a blazer and walk around the floor and just manage, I'd hate it. I have to be giving the guest experience, dropping off the drink myself, telling the story of the drink. The only reason I do this is to hand out experiences to people. You know, teach them a little something, and just create a memory. Being in the back of the house, I could still do that, but I wouldn't get to interact in the same way. I wasn't by any means looking for a bartending gig; it really, really came to me. And it's been great. 

More »

Mario Rana's Rio

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

Last week we met Mario Rana, part owner and bar manager at Cuoco Pazzo. Today he shares with us the recipe for the Rio, a drink he named after himself.

"It's what everyone called me in high school," Rana says. "They couldn't say my name right, so I just told them to drop the MA and call me Rio. I don't even like that name; I just couldn't think of anything."

Rio (the drink) is a variation of a Negroni which incorporates a citrusy IPA, utilizing the pairing qualities of good craft beer.

"Beer's fun to work with because there are so many different flavor profiles and flavors that work with other foods and liquors, Rana says. "What's good about this drink is that all the ingredients collaborate together. You have the pine of the gin going along with the hops in the IPA, the bitterness of the Campari also goes along with the beer, and then the grapefruit mirrors the beer's citrusy flavors. I could drink it all day."

More »

Mario Rana at Cuoco Pazzo

Categories: Behind the Bar
Zach Fowle

The tender: Mario Rana
The bar: Cuoco Pazzo (4175 N. Goldwater Blvd., 480-265-9814)
The pedigree: Rana fell in love with creating drinks when he started behind the bar of a coffee shop at age 14. He later started barbacking at the restaurant owned by his parents, then began working at wine bars around the Valley, including Kazimierz World Wine Bar and Javino's. Now he owns both the Mad Chef Gastropub in Ahwatukee and Cuoco Pazzo. Most nights he manages the restaurant, but you can find him working the bar on Thursdays.

What attracts you to drink-making?
It's just something I enjoy. I enjoy learning about the history of the beverages; I enjoy taking classic cocktails and putting my own twist on them. Right now I'm doing a cocktail list where I take classic cocktails -- a manhattan, a caipirinha -- and incorporate Italian liqueurs in there. I like variation, having something that no one else is doing, being the first to do something. My new passion is incorporating beer into cocktails -- you don't see a lot of that around here. I'm kind of a pioneer.

I like making my own concoctions. Back when I was younger, I used to go around the neighborhood and collect twigs and flowers and mix them with water. My magic potions, I called them. I've always been into making some type of concoction.

Did you drink them?
I always tried them, and they never tasted like I wanted them to. That's why I enjoy cocktails, because they actually turn out the way I want them to.

More »