Unless it is poured from a tap, I am generally clueless in the drinks department. Hence the need for me to attend a seasonal cocktails mixology event Tupelo Honey Cafe in Charlotte hosted last weekend. Corporate beverage manager Tyler Alford walked us through the making of three drinks you can find on the cafe menu, created an additional three drinks on a whim with ingredients brought by the participants, and allowed us to ooh and awe over what may be the best Bloody Mary in Charlotte. Allow me to tell you more.
Ramos Gin Fizz
This drink’s history that extends from the French Quarter to New York, you must shake it for at least three minutes to make it right (a straw will stand straight up in the drink when made correctly), and in addition to the usual suspects – gin, a splash of citrus, and simple syrup – includes egg white and heavy cream on the ingredient list. Alford details this and more, including a full recipe, in his blog post Shake, Shake, Shake Senora!
I agree with what he writes that “it isn’t so much the ingredients of the drink itself that make this cocktail great, but the reaction in the shaker that create the creamy, frothy, meringue-like texture of the Ramos Gin Fizz.” All of that frothy fizziness makes this a fun drink, and it makes for a good holiday cocktail. Just don’t forget the orange flower water to give it a little extra depth.
Gin is not my favorite drink. To me, it mildly tastes like a pine branch smells, which is not a taste I particularly enjoy. However, I get the sense that gin is something I could learn to like if only I could better understand its nuances. Alford recommends Hendrick’s gin for this drink.
Last night, I was reading a book that featured an entirely different discussion on gin, where the recipe’s drinker recommended Burnett’s gin but the recipe’s writer said Voyager or Tanqueray is the way to go.
To further complicate matters, the winner of Bombay Sapphire’s Imaginative Bartender competition just created a cocktail that “replicates the flavor of paper.” In terms of those beverages that flow out of taps, which I mentioned earlier, a drink that tastes like paper is a sign of something gone wrong. Clearly, I need a gin tasting.
Brandy Apple Boom
With the approach of fall, this seasonal cocktail will be coming to menus soon. It’s name may change once it hits menus, but its deliciousness will not.
We crafted this cocktail by pouring some brandy over ice. Next we added an apple shrub, a sip of which was delicious on its own. Shrubs, which are essentially vinegars made to sip, seem poised to become the next big thing in cocktail circles.
Then we topped the whole think off with an apple hard cider and a dash of bitters. Naturally, this drink was my favorite of the day.
Our final cocktail was the classic mint julep. We muddled our mint, added ice, poured mint simple syrup and Jim Beam over it, and called it a day.
Alford went on to craft a few off-the-cuff cocktails from ingredients that ranged from smoked fish and jalapenos to blueberries and cinnamon. Meanwhile, I just sat there enjoying the Appalachian Egg Rolls (made with pulled pork in barbeque sauce, of course), fried okra, and Tupelo Honey’s signature biscuits.
We ended the event by watching as the Queen Mary – a golden tomato Bloody Mary that could alternatively be titled A Little Piece of Garnish Heaven - was created. Look at that beauty!
Thank you to Tupelo Honey Cafe for hosting this event and sharing some of your delicious food and drinks.
Tupelo Honey Cafe is based out of Asheville, for which I will be leaving shortly to attend this year’s Food Blog Forum. In other words, more photos to come.
Enjoy the weekend!