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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cocktails

New Projects from Berlin’s Star Mixologist

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Bar Amano

© Hotel Amano
Mario Grünfelder created the cocktail list for the bar at Hotel Amano.

 

For the last few days (and very late nights), I found myself restaurant-and-bar-hopping around Berlin with Mario Grünfelder, the star mixologist of the city’s coolest bar, Tausend. F&W’s European correspondent, Gisela Williams, had been telling me about a number of ambitious projects the Swiss-born spirits genius been working on. He already co-owns Tausend, along with W Imbiss and the superhip Café 103 (which he says will be transforming into something even cooler very soon). Mario is good buddies with the brilliant, semi-maniacal chef Christian Lohse, so we met for lunch at Lohse’s Michelin-starred seafood-centric Fischers Fritz to talk about potential collaborations, which included talk of a 24-hour bar-hopping bus.

Later, Mario invited us to Cantina, the new restaurant in a room behind the bar at Tausend. The former chef of Berlin’s popular Shiro I Shiro is turning out casual Latin-Asian dishes like Peruvian tiradito, tuna tataki wrapped in foie and Momofuku-rivaling pork buns. Over a second round of the stellar pork buns, Mario shared his newest passion, making his own spirits, including an unbelievably smooth wheat-based vodka he’s named Greenfield and Harter 73 (Greenfield being an Americanized version of his last name; 73 referring to his date of birth; and Harter the last name of Tausend co-owner Til Harter). I’m hoping we’ll see bottles stateside soon.

When Tausend gets too crowded late at night, Mario heads to his newest bar project at the chic, affordable new Hotel Amano in the Mitte neighborhood. The low-lit lounge serves late-night snacks and Mario’s cocktails, like the Grischenko (Xoriguer gin, cordial lime juice and Limettensaft bitters) until 4 a.m. The prolific spirits obsessive is now off to Barcelona. Maybe he’ll be opening his first project outside of Germany soon.

Bars

Grammy Winning (Drinks) at the Beverly Wilshire

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Halo with a Twist Tied for Best Grammy Cocktail at the Beverly Wilshire

Although I'm totally looking ahead to the Oscars, I'm still thinking about the Grammys. Here's where I wish I was, besides front row for the awards: At the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Not just because the place was filled with the people who won awards (and who can’t be named here) but also because its restaurant/bar, Blvd, honored some Grammy nominees with an adorable list of drinks. The Best Drink nominees included:

*“Halo” with a Twist: Champagne, St.-Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon twist
*Lady’s Poker Face (After Tequila): tequila, cassis, lemon juice and sugar
*Fearless n’ Swift: vodka, Navan (vanilla-infused Cognac), caramel sauce, black lava salt

The hotel announced that the drink winners were a tie: Halo and Lady's Poker Face. Those drinks are now off the menu now that the Grammys are over. But starting next week, look for Blvd's special Oscar drinks, perhaps the Precious Pisco Sour or a Sandra Bullock Sazerac. (And if you want to work on your own versions of those drinks, F&W has some key recipes for pisco sours and Sazaracs, too.)

Bars

High West: Utah's Best New Après-Ski

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Hot toddy at High West Distillery.

© Kristin Donnelly
A riff on a hot toddy at High West Distillery in Park City, Utah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not really a skier but I always love the après party—which, as my coworker Jen Murphy mentioned in her envy-inducing posts about a recent trip to Austria, is more popular in Europe than in the U.S. David Perkins, founder of the High West Distillery in Park City, Utah, is trying to change that. On Saturdays, in the cozy new saloon next to his copper stills, he’s serving hot late-afternoon cocktails to skiers fresh off the slopes while a local bluegrass band plays. I popped into High West while I was out in Utah last month and loved the Rock n’ Rye. Made with freshly muddled oranges and lemons, hot water and High West’s Rendezvous Rye, it’s essentially a riff on a hot toddy with a cute little addition: a rock-candy stick so drinkers can sweeten it to taste. After finishing the drink, I couldn’t decide what surprised me more: that I got this lovely, warming buzz hassle-free in Utah (read more about that here) or that I briefly considered taking up skiing.

Recipes

A Rye Toast to J.D. Salinger

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© Alessandra Bulow
Rye House Punch at Rye House in NYC

In a tribute to J.D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, who passed away this week, my colleague Kristin Donnelly and I raised a glass to him last night at Rye House, a new cocktail bar in New York City’s Flatiron District. We especially liked the citrusy but not too sweet Rye House Punch (made with chai-infused Rittenhouse Rye, Batavia Arrack, lemon, grapefruit and Angostura bitters, pictured) as well as the flaky pork belly and smoked Gouda-filled empanadas.

Here, a few rye-based cocktails to toast the author’s life and literary works:
Carra-Ryed Away
Manhattan
Silver Lining

Cocktails

Big Star in Chicago

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When I vacationed in Chicago last weekend, my first stop was star chef Paul Kahan’s latest bar and taqueria, Big Star. The large rectangular bar that dominates the space holds two of Big Star’s three specialties: some 50-odd bourbons and a couple dozen tequilas. The other specialty comes from the kitchen: tacos—hundreds of tacos.

Tapping along to a Loretta Lynn record, I elbowed my way to the bar to order a drink, from a list conceived by the team from the adjacent cocktail haven The Violet Hour. I started with a San Antonio Sling, a bracing combination of tequila, St-Germain and grapefruit. I followed that with the Hud, an Old Fashioned–like lowball heavy on the bourbon and light on the citrus—tangerine, in this case. Then I turned to food. First up was a fondue-like casserole of rajas chiles, house-made chorizo and cheese. A quartet of tacos followed: lamb, al pastor (marinated pork) and my two favorites, poblano with queso (cheese) and pork belly. The food was delicious, and with nothing exceeding five dollars, also a bargain.

When the weather gets warmer, Big Star will offer a huge alfresco dining area. As long as the music remains louder than the nearby El train, Big Star will be a party few will want to leave.

Cocktails

Cocktails for a Cause

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benefit

© Citymeals-on-Wheels
All-star food-and-cocktail pairings for a good cause.

 

In NYC, the Surrey Hotel’s awesome new Bar Pleiades is hosting a spectacular pairing event tomorrow (Wednesday, January 20). Here are three great reasons to stop by:

1)   Mixologist extraordinaire Cameron Bogue, formerly the bar genius at Daniel Boulud’s Vancouver outpost of DB Bistro Moderne, will be making excellent winter cocktails, including a warming brandy shaken with roasted butternut squash puree and Meyer lemon juice.
2)    Look for bar snacks from Café Boulud’s ultratalented chef Gavin Kaysen and guest chefs George Mendes of NYC’s Aldea, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of L.A.’s meat-centric Animal and Nate Appleman of the forthcoming Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria.
3)    Ticket proceeds benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels. Click here to eat and drink well, while contributing to a good cause.

Recipes

The (Drink) Situation on MTV’s Jersey Shore: Ron Ron Juice

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© John Kernick

Muscle-head Ronnie on MTV’s Jersey Shore is the last guy I’d expect to see drinking a girly cocktail, but surprisingly his pre-partying drink of choice is his eponymous “Ron Ron Juice,” a fuchsia-colored concoction of watermelon, cherries, cranberry juice and copious amounts of vodka blended with ice, which he always prepares bare-chested. “It gets the night going,” he says. “Whenever that stuff [sic] comes out it’s always a filthy night.”

Ah yes, “Ron Ron Juice” does often serve as useful fuel for one of Ronnie’s many bar fights.

“It’s the root of all evil,” says DJ Pauly D. Plus, there’s nothing like a little “Ron Ron Juice” to provide the energy to “beat up the beat” of house music at da club. “First, we start off by banging the ground, we’re banging it as the beat builds ‘cause that beat’s hittin’ us so we’re fightin’ back, it’s like we beat up that beat,” says DJ Pauly D.

Here, a more refined selection of fruity cocktails to get fists pumping:
Watermelon-Tequila Cocktails (pictured)
Watermelon Sangria
Watermelon Coolers

More from Food & Wine:

50 Best Bars in America

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.

 

Bars

Preview: Painkiller from Dutch Kills team

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If you’re like me, and one tiki drink is never enough, here’s good news. The men behind the awesome Dutch Kills bar in Long Island City—Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato—are opening a tiki bar in Manhattan. Called Painkiller, the bar is scheduled to open by early March. “We’re trading in Old-Fashioneds for Mai Tais,” says Gonzalez. Well, not exactly: Since the team is planning to blend 1970s New York culture and 1940s tiki culture, this may just be the best-ever tiki bar. Even the address is cool: It’s on Essex Street, in the old East Side Company Bar space.

But if, like me, you can't wait until early March for a Mai Tai, here's an outstanding version from F&W

Bars

Gin & Tonics for Jimmy Fallon

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Thanks to my excellent colleague Alessandra Bulow, we all now know that the big food news on Thursday nights is on MTV's Jersey Shore and whether Sammi "Sweetheart" will be excluded from Mike "The Situation"'s future ravioli and chicken cutlet nights. But this Thursday, January 7, we also have a cocktail situation to impatiently look forward to. Following the BCS National ChampionshipTexas vs AlabamaJim Meehan, the head mixologist of Manhattan's PDT and the outstanding deputy editor of F&W's Cocktails 2009, will appear on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. After lots of homework—i.e., researching key people's favorite drinks—he's decided he'll mix Tea-quila Highballs for the house band the Roots (they love Patrón tequila) and Plymouth gin & tonics for Fallon. He'll pour a g&t for himself, too, to toast what he hopes will be a big Crimson Tide win.

Menus

Food, Wine & Football

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bubbly

© Max's Wine Dive
Fried Chicken and Champagne at Max's Wine Dive.

 

It’s frigid here in New York City, and with the long holiday weekend ahead, I plan on holing up and cooking my favorite comfort foods, drinking some great wines and watching a lot of college football. I recently heard about a new wine bar in Texas that combines all three things. Max’s Wine Dive opened in May in downtown Austin with the philosophy of "Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?!"

With its local team, the University of Texas Longhorns, playing for the national championship on January 7, the bar should be packed with fans eating not just fried chicken with Champagne but kobe burgers with Cabernet and oyster nachos with premier cru Burgundy.

Until I find my own NYC version of Max’s, I’ll be replicating their comfort-food-and-wine pairings with ideas from Food & Wine.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.