donderdag 8 juni 2023

Strawberry - Bergamot - Vanilla

Bergamot citrusfruit may be less known to us, it looks most similar to a lime. Its origin is said to be a crossover between a lime and an orange. The scent is very recognizable, you also recognise this scent from Earl Grey tea. Bergamot liqueur used to be the favourite drink at the Italian Royal Court. 

Italicus bergamot liqueur is made with bergamot citrus from Calabria, Sicilian lemons, lavender, chamomile, and gentian. You can drink this liqueur mixed with Prosecco, Gin, or even with a refreshing beer. Of course, I went a step further and created an original cocktail. 

The combination with strawberries and vanilla can also be found in certain desserts. I also thought this was a beautiful trio to translate into the glass. I chose typical Italian flavours and wanted to bring summer into the glass.

Strawberry - Bergamot - Vanilla

30ml Campari, infused with strawberry for two days. 
20ml Italicus (Bergamot liqueur)
7 ml Vanilla syrup

Add cut-up straberries in a jar and cover with Campari. Give it a good shake and let it rest for two days. Filter the fruit out of the liquid. 

Add the Campari, Italicus liqueur and syrup to a mixinh glas with lots of ice. Stir ten seconds to cool and mix. Strain in a large wineglass and add fresh ice. Top with a good quality Prosecco. Give it just one more gentle stir (You don't want to loose the bubbles). Garnish with strawberry. 

Disclaimer: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Consulting unless stated otherwise in the article. This recipe was created for Paal 26 Grrand Café. 

zondag 28 mei 2023

Pineapple Tamboo

Spiced rum – you either love it or hate it. And when it's a good one, I absolutely love it. Angostura is famous for its aromatic bitters, used in lots of classic cocktail recipes. But did you know they also make excellent quality rum? Their latest creation is Angostura Tamboo, a golden spiced rum infused with Caribbean spices. I always start with a straight sip to savor all the flavors, and let me tell you, I fell head over heels for this bottle.

Tamboo takes its name from the bamboo drum that's been setting the beat for Trinidad and Tobago's street carnivals since 1884. You don't need much to make a spiced rum shine – just a touch of sweetness and a squeeze of lime, and you've got yourself a fantastic drink. Personally, I kicked it up a notch to kickstart my summer.

On the side, I've got a little bowl of 'Happy Hippo' roasted nuts by The Nutty Farmer, Frederik Bostyn. These fairtrade cashew nuts come all the way from Burkina Faso, roasted to perfection in the oven, and seasoned with a delicious blend of oriental spices and pomegranate. Trust me, it's the perfect accompaniment to enjoy with your spiced rum.

Pineapple Tamboo

50ml Angostura Tamboo Spiced Rum
40ml Pineapple juice
20ml Lime juice
10ml Sugarcane syrup

Add all ingredients to a shaker with lots of ice. Give it a good shake and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with orange and a cocktail cherry. Cheers.

Disclaimer: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zaterdag 13 mei 2023

The Forbidden Sour

During the exciting 'Roaring 20s' era, hidden bars called speakeasies became very popular. Bartenders would add juices to illegally made moonshine to hide its poor quality. This clever trick made mixed drinks more enjoyable and led to the creation of many classic cocktails that are still popular today. Now, let's focus on a refreshing fruity drink that is best enjoyed on a hot day.

The Forbidden Sour

30ml Larceny Bourbon
30ml Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
15ml Simple syrup
15ml Lime juice

To create this drink, simply add all ingredients to a shaker filled generously with ice. Give it a vigorous shake until the shaker reaches a frosty chill. Then, strain the mixture into an Old Fashioned glass that boasts a large, crystal-clear ice cube. Finally, add a touch of visual appeal by garnishing the drink with cranberries or pomegranate seeds. Cheers!

Disclaimer: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

maandag 1 mei 2023

Bourbon, Rye and Tacos in Bruges

Was I interested in joining the boss of Brown-Forman Belgium (the company that owns brands like Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniel’s) for some drinks and bites in Bruges? You bet I was

This weekend I jumped on the train to the other side of the country to visit Bar Ran (cocktailbar) and MAS (restaurant), both owned by Ran Van Ongevalle, member of the well-known ex-Pharmacy family from Knokke. 

For this special event, Bruno, the chef of Bistro Bruut took over the MAS-kitchen for a delicious range of tacos. Ran and his wife Janah, both behind the bar, mixed up delicious drinks based on Woodford Reserve whiskey. 

But first things first. Together with my blogger-buddy Mickael - The Campfire Dram - we met up with the Brown-Forman team at Bar Ran for a quick aperitif. We decided to order several Woodford-based cocktails from the menu, so we could share sips and taste all of them. 

  • Vieux Carré (Woodford Rye, Remy Martin Cognac, Martini Rubino, Benedictine, bitters)
  • Heartbreaker (Woodford Rye, Martini Rubino, Lemon, Cherry Soda)
  • Blinker (Woodford Rye, Grapefruit juice, pomegranate)
  • St. Lawrence (Woodford Bourbon, Maple Syrup, Lemon)
I wonder if the Heartbreaker is linked to Ran’s sister Hannah, who is also known as “Hannah Heartbreaker” in the world of bartending…

After a few great sips, we walked over to MAS. Have you ever seen those long queues outside bars and restaurants in Hollywood movies? Last night this was actually happening at MAS. When the doors opened at 6 pm, people entered the restaurant like a Tsunami-wave. In just a few seconds all seats were taken. Never seen this before in Belgium. 

For this special event, there were three Woodford cocktails on the menu, to accompany the tacos. 
  • Woodford Bourbon, Eucalyptus, Lillet, frozen.
  • Woodford Rye, Roasted Coconut, Cold Brew Milky Oolong, draft.
  • Woodford Bourbon, Jalapeño, Pickle Juice, Ginger-Ale.
But they also had a special range of picklebacks, which we (of course!) also tasted. In case you never had a pickleback, it’s a shot of whiskey together with a shot of brine. In this case, the brines were Jalapeño, red cabbage, lemongrass and chilli or magnolia. Very interesting combinations. 

After this great experience, we returned to Bar Ran, where I discovered one more Woodford drink on the menu… and it was one of my all-time favourites.
  • Sazerac (Remy Martin VSOP Cognac, Woodford Rye, Sugar, Bitters, Absinthe)
Big thank you to Brown-Forman Belgium, to Vincent for the invitation and to Mickael for the great company. This “tacover” was a one-time thing, but I’m sure Ran and his team will offer much more of these special nights. Keep an eye on their socials. 

Disclaimer: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zondag 23 april 2023

Shanghai Mist

Whenever I receive a bottle of spirit with a very specific scent or flavour, it’s actually fun to experiment with combinations. 
I know that a sour base always seems to work, but this time I wanted to stay away from that classic path. 

Panda Gin is not your average gin. It’s a Belgian organic gin packed with flavours from the botanicals used in the production process. The juniper berries are crushed and macerated in basic alcohol before they are added to the still. Next comes the infusion with litchi, cherry, orange peel, star anise and a few undisclosed botanicals. 

The result is a spirit with very rich and fruity notes. Delicate plants like rosemary and basil are macerated separately before being added to the mix. This gin is distilled 6 times in a continuous still. In my personal opinion, this gin has a very oriental style and I decided to work on that. 

Another nice gimmick, I fed the description and the list of ingredients into an artificial intelligence chat server and asked for a suggestion for the name of the drink. I think "Shanghai Mist" was just perfect. 

Shanghai Mist

40ml Panda Gin
1d orange bitters

Add the three ingredients to a mixing glass with lots of ice. Give it a good stir for 12 to 15 seconds. Strain into a tumbler with a big rock of clear ice. Garnish with dehydrated blood orange or a beautiful flower. 

Disclaimer: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

maandag 17 april 2023

Prepare for the old and rare – My visit to the Spirits Inn Beringen festival (6th edition)

Something to look forward to, year after year. The small but cosy spirits festival at CC Casino, in the heart of the “coal history” area of Beringen. A festival organised by the local whisky club and famous for the old and rare bottlings that are always present, open and ready for tasting. 

Directly upon entrance, my eye spotted “keeper of the quaich”, Geert De Bolle. Indeed, this whisky reseller is honoured and recognized by the exclusive international society which awards those who have shown an outstanding commitment to the Scotch Whisky Industry.
His table displayed a rich plethora of spirits, but I was attracted to one dark bottle. This bottle of 30y old Bowmore seemed to be the most expensive drink present at the festival today. A small tasting sample would set you back no less than 90 coins, which each represent the same value in euros. The most expensive dram of the festival, but also the rarest, oldest or most special? I don’t think so. 

In the back room, I had a chat with Stephen Randles, export sales manager for Boann Distillery (Ireland), today showcasing an amazing array of The Whistler, lots of bottles with different and somewhat special cask finishes. 

I decided to sample a flavour of his whisky, which received after 4,5 years of ageing an additional “Imperial Stout Finish”. I tasted some very fresh notes which would not be too bad to use this dram as an aperitif before a BBQ with a huge piece of meat in a sweet and tasty rub.

Also in the back room, Chris Lauriers, a walking whisky-encyclopaedia with whom I often work at Cinoco masterclasses. Here he was representing the Scotch Whisky Society, but I saw him sneaking away to sample some delicious spirits from other tables himself. Smart bloke indeed. Keep building that knowledge, Chris! 

Upon returning to the front room, I stopped by the table of Jeroen Aerts, I visited his distillery - ‘t Aerts Paradijs -  half a year ago and I remember that I sampled his “not yet whisky”, straight from the cask. Today I got another cask sample, the golden liquid is now exactly one year old and still in the cask. Very promising, very malty. I look forward to the result after three full years, but also to sampling and comparing the cask samples over the next two years. 

Cognac is also a strong asset for this festival. After tasting Malternative’s newest bottle (in a collaboration with Asta Morris), we headed over to Ivo Drabs, who (again!) gets my personal award for the most special bottle of the festival. 

After my tasting glass was rinsed with one of his cheaper bottles (I’m not kidding!), Ivo poured me a dram of his very last tasting bottle of Cognac Mauxion Sélection Bons Bois, distilled in 1900. Yes, you read that right. Distilled in the year 1900!!!. A staggering 123 years ago, my grandparents weren’t even born yet. This spirit has aged for 70 years in an oak barrel, then another 52 years in dame-jeannes (a double ageing process they seem to apply for Cognac). Last year Ivo bought one of the remaining dame-jeannes and bottled 42 bottles at 48,2% alcohol. As said, this was the very last bottle of that batch, but Ivo recently bought a second identical dame-jeanne (probably the last of its kind), which is being bottled as we speak, this time in a more luxurious edition. 

Was this the oldest spirit of the festival? Without any doubt. Was it any good? The spirit still had punch, but no aggressive burning that stuns your tastebuds, like some cognacs tend to do. This one is all flavour and taste. Fruity and fresh with tones of peaches and figs, what you probably wouldn’t expect from such an old spirit. This is one of the best spirits I have ever tasted. A unique experience for sure. 

Of course, this wasn’t all there was available to sample, I just tried to detect the most special bottles in the room, but that’s of course a personal opinion slightly guided by some of my friends who were organising this festival. If you want to see or learn more, visit this festival next year!

donderdag 6 april 2023

Best of two worlds

I often get inspired by things I spot online or read in books and newspapers, but always try to do my own thing. This recipe is adapted from a couple of drinks I saw online. This drink is a combination of American Rye and Japanese Blended whisky. I wanted to keep it in the Old Fashioned style but picked very fresh citrussy bitters of kalamansi and grapefruit. The result is a very Japanese style of Old Fashioned, but with the spicy notes of the rye whiskey.

Best of two worlds

40 ml American Rye Whiskey
20 ml Japanese Blended whisky
7 ml Simple syrup
2 dashes of kalamansi bitters
2 dashes of grapefruit bitters

Add everything to a mixing glass with lots of ice. Stir for 15 seconds and strain over fresh ice in a tumbler. Garnish with a dehydrated slice of blood orange. 

Disclaimer: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.