donderdag 28 mei 2020

Are you ready for Ardbeg Day 2020 ?

 
This morning we welcomed a very special visitor at our offices. Maria Papadopoulou, brand manager for Glenmorangie and Ardbegcame by to drop off a few bottles and invite us to participate in Ardbeg Day 2020.

Do you like Ardbeg? In one of the bistros I frequently visit, I usually drink a cocktail with a strong base of Ardbeg, which is described in the menu with “It’s like licking an ashtray” πŸ˜‰. So yes, Ardbeg is peated whisky from Islay. 


Usually held on the final Saturday of Islay’s Festival of Music and Malt (FΓ¨is Ìle), Ardbeg Day is a global, annual celebration of all things Ardbeg. This year, with the festival sadly cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Ardbeg is taking its celebrations online, and inviting malt whisky lovers everywhere to join them as they toast two incredible decades of the Ardbeg Committee. They are all set for the biggest day in their virtual whisky calendar as the team prepares to beam the party right into the living rooms, studies, spare bedrooms and garages of Ardbeggians everywhere. Tune in to the Ardbeg Facebook page next Saturday, 30th May at 20h. It will be a two hour event and we expect a lot !!!


And after the event ?

Just one week later, Saturday 6th June, we will participate in Ardbeg Hour, the online whisky-tasting which will be broadcasted live on YouTube. Hense the bottles which were delivered today πŸ˜‰.

Brendan Mc Carron, Head of Maturing Whisky Stocks will guide us through these Ardbeg expressions:
  • Ardbeg 10Y Old
  • Ardbeg An Oa
  • Ardbeg Corryvreckan
  • Ardbeg Blaaack (=feisty Limited Edition bottled in celebration of the Ardbeg Committee’s 20th Anniversary)
After the event we will post a link to the recorded session on our Facebook page. Looking forward to both these events !

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.

Verhofstede Hop Jenever - Dry Gibson

 
Great news !!! I have teamed up with foodbelgium.com – This is a webshop with authentic Belgian food and drinks. They have asked me to test some of the bottles on their “Jenever, liqueur and distillates” pages. All products we will be testing in the next weeks and months can be purchased through direct links in the articles, often with free extra’s or specials promotions for our followers.

In this first article we got to play around with Verhofstede Hop Jenever. This local distiller 
started creating this product in 1961 by an old family recipe, based on the wild hops growing around their property. The hops create a silky finish for this traditional jenever. Did you know that jenever existed 200 years before the first mentioning of cognac… and that jenever is the more complex predecessor of gin?

To highlight the silky finish, we didn’t want to mask it too much with other flavours. Our first thought was a Dry Martini, but I was afraid the umami taste of the olive would change the taste too much. I picked a Dry Gibson instead, swapping the olive for a pickled onion. I used a can of pickled onions, pickled with barrel aged apple vinegar.


Pickled Martinis are real bartenders’ drinks. Very complex taste. The Dry Gibson just might be the easiest first babysteps toward this ‘pickled’ direction. It’s a fresh and silky Martini-style cocktail that will be loved by most spirit-forward enthusiasts.


Dry Gibson


Ingredients
6 cl Verhofstede Hop Jenever
2 cl Forest Dry vermouth


Method
Add the Jenever and vermouth to a mixglass with lots of ice. Stir for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled Martiniglass. Add a pickled onion.


Buy Now
Verhofstede Promopage 
  
Hop Jenever 20 CL (+ FREE apero mix) 
 
Hop Jenever 70 CL (+ FREE Gimber)

 
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.

maandag 25 mei 2020

Kiss My Hand Sanitizer

 
Big shoutout to all distillers on this planet who stepped up to the plate and produced sanitizing alcohol for hospitals in the past weeks. From Jack Daniel’s in Tennessee to Filliers in Deinze, from very large companies like Diageo to small local distillers like Massy in Houthalen. Thank you.

Today I want to highlight just one of many great initiatives by another small producer.
Kiss My Drinks 
is a local producer of ‘out of the box’ vermouts, two brothers who are reviving old recipes from their grandparents. Their vermouts are used in several Michelin star restaurants and to be honest, the restaurant and bar businesses are the largest part of their customers. Needless to say that COVID19 also hit very hard on their business.

While trying to keep their business alive, they also wanted to do something to help others who were also hit very hard by this crisis. Many distillers have produced alcohol for hospitals at extreme low prices, to help combat COVID19. The Kiss My brothers know that bars and restaurants will also face very big difficulties when they are finally allowed to restart their business. So they created their own help-plan.

Kiss My launches their own hand sanitizer, with a great bonus. For each bottle sold, one bottle is going to a local Belgian bar or restaurant for FREE. You can buy a 500 ml bottle at their webshop 
#redhoreca #savethebars #savetherestaurants

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.

zondag 24 mei 2020

The Bicicletta, the older kind of Spritz

 
The Spritz is still one of the most popular summer-cocktails and I’m sure doing my best to support that position by enjoying lots of them during the long hot summer. It’s one of the most refreshing drinks, served on lots of ice. And at the same time it’s a perfect bittersweet aperitif.

Last year I wrote a pretty long article (in dutch) 
on the origin of the Spritz, mentioning that the recipe changed in the beginning of last era. Originally the Spritz was made with still wine and sparkling water. The Select Spritz, originated in Venice, was probably the first which used Prosecco instead of white wine. The Aperol Spritz which is the most popular Spritz today also uses Prosecco, but only became popular after the second Word War.

The ‘Bicicletta’ is another Italian name for the Spritz. The story says this drink was named after the men who swerved all over the road on their bikes, driving home after too many afternoon drinks at the cafΓ©.


In the early 1900s the quality and balance of cocktails was probably not what we are used to today. In the US moonshine was served illegally in speakeasy bars, using lots of sugar to mask the bad alcohol.  Drinks were rougher and more in one direction. The Bicicletta is a bitter-forward drink, made with typical Italian aperitifs. It’s an even part mix of Campari, dry Italian wine from the Veneto region and soda water. Do yourself a favour and use Italian wine and water to get the right feel for this drink.


San Pellegrino is produced in Bergamo, a region which has been hit very hard by the COVID19 virus and can use all our support. The first Campari production plant is located near Milano. All three products are produced in the north of Italy, between Milano and Venice.


 
The Bicicletta


Ingredients
6 cl Campari
6 cl Pinot Grigio delle Venezie (dry white wine)
6 cl San Pellegrino (soda water)


Method
For this drink we use a wineglass, not the rounder coppa glass which is used for your typical Aperol Spritz. Add the Campari and white wine to your glass. Fill up with icecubes and give it a stir. Add the soda water and give it one last stir. Garnish with a dried slice of 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.

zaterdag 16 mei 2020

Man O'War - Is there a hidden bar on a battleship ?

 
I really love to use old classic recipes and give them a modern boost with new and exciting spirits.

The Man O’War is a cocktail named after one of the very best racehorses in the American racing history. In the years 1919-1920 this horse competed in 21 races and won 20 times. Man O’War also refers to a warship, which sparked my curiosity πŸ˜‰


The original recipe is prepared with bourbon, but I chose a more herbal touch with Knob Creek Rye Whiskey. The home-made orange liqueur is actually arancello. We used an old Italian (secret) family-recipe for limoncello, but swapped the lemons for oranges. Nobody got killed. That last remark is for Godfather-fans only πŸ˜‰

Is there a hidden bar on a battleship ?

Ingredients
5 cl Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
3 cl Home-made Orange Liqueur (You can also use Cointreau or Triple Sec, but it will change the color of the drink)
1 cl Sweet Vermouth
1 cl Fresh lemon juice

Method
There’s juice in it, so it needs to be shaken. Add everything to your shaker with lots of ice. Shake for 20 seconds and double strain in a large cognac glass. Garnish with a sweet cocktail cherry.

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.

woensdag 13 mei 2020

Happy World Cocktail Day !!! - Comb that beach

Today is ‘World Cocktail Day’ and at lunchtime we had our own little cocktail-moment to celebrate.

My cocktail for today is an easy variation on the Beachcomber, which has really nothing to do with Don the Beachcomber, the famous Tiki-bartender.


The Beachcomber is more or less the Martini of Tiki cocktails.

The other drinks on the group picture are a classic Americano and two fruity pineapple mocktails.
 


Comb that beach

Ingredients
60 ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
10 ml Clement Creole Shrub
7,5 ml Fresh limejuice
A few dashes of maraschino liqueur


Method
Bring everything together in a shaker with enough ice. Shake for 20 seconds and double strain in a Martiniglass.

Garnish with a fresh strawberry.

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.


dinsdag 12 mei 2020

Cocktails in a box by Belroy's

 
During this lockdown lots of webshop-projects are really thriving. We can now order gourmet meals from Michelin Star restaurants ‘in a box’, delivered to our doorstep. So why not order high quality, handcrafted cocktails the same way? I’m not talking about bottled cocktails that you can also buy in the supermarket or liqueur store. No, I’m talking about the real deal, hand crafted cocktails prepared by a bartender in your favourite cocktailbar, sealed in a plastic bag and sent directly to your home ‘in a box’, together with the garnish and instructions on how to serve the drink.

Cocktails in a box are not exactly new, but they became ‘the new normal’ for cocktail enthusiasts since the start of the coronacrisis. A few years ago I already wrote about the SIPSNSODA cocktailboxes, which were probably among the very first in Europe. Today lots of cocktailbars all around the country are selling their weekly offer through a webshop.
I even spotted some local restaurants in my neighbourhood (e.g. Barnaba)
, offering complete take-away or home delivered meals, including good quality cocktails for a great start. Fight the crisis by enjoying your perfect aperitif-moment at home.


Probably the first premium cocktailbar who jumpstarted this new trend in Belgium was Belroy’s
, the well-known Antwerp based company of Ben Belmans and Dieter Van Roy. Next to their cocktail catering activities they have two popular cocktailbars: Belroy’s Bijou (Graaf Van Egmontstraat 20) and Belroy’s MAS (Godefriduskaai 14). They already sold their own range of bottled spirits and cocktails (available at the better liqueur shops), but recently they also started a new webshop with a weekly range of crafted cocktails. Let’s try this. Is this really the same cocktail-experience you get in their bar?

You will miss the cosy atmosphere of the bar and the jokes made by Dieter while preparing your drink, but the drinks are definitely the real deal. Easy to serve and packed with of flavour. Dieter sent us a box with 4 drinks, which we could sample:

 
  • El Presidente : A rum-based cocktail with Belroy’s Rum, vermouth, dry Curacao and pomegranate. This cocktail is also available in their bottled range. 
  • Boulevardier : This Negroni variation is a very tasty mix of Michter’s whiskey, Italian vermouth and bitter. 
  • Ipanema Swizzle : A very fruity cocktail with Belroy’s Rum, passionfruit, white vermouth, pomegranate, ginger and lemon. 
  • Virgin Mojito : Some days are better without alcohol, this mocktail is a sweet lime mix with mint, served in a mix with Perrier.


We decided to use these drinks for a high quality aperitif moment, so we also made sure to get some matching snacks for each drink. We really enjoyed our aperotime. The drinks were extremely close to what we would get in the bar, so maximum points for quality.


Let’s hope most bars will keep this service also after the coronacrisis, it can come in handy when you’re entertaining friends at home and don’t want to spend too much time preparing drinks. Not everyone has the same bartending skills as Tom Cruise πŸ˜‰


Personally, I think it’s a great service which will work perfectly for a lot of people, but I’d still enjoy the drinks a little bit more sitting at the bar in Antwerp, chatting with Ben or Dieter.


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.

zaterdag 9 mei 2020

Solar Gin, distilled by the sun

 
When I write about new spirits, there are three things that can really add quality to the article: The quality of the spirit, the story behind the bottle and the marketing that promotes the whole thing.

It doesn’t happen often that I’m a big fan of all three. This time it comes very close.
One of my networking contacts told me she connected to a guy that makes his own gin in a very special way. She told him about my blog and we got in touch. Thanks Yoke πŸ˜‰, this story is really great.


Kevin van de Merlen has created a pretty good gin, which is distilled by the sun. Yes, read that again. It’s distilled by the sun and that’s why it’s called Solar Gin.


During a long hot summer Kevin decided to build a complete solar-distilling process from scratch. A very bold and impressive idea. On a sunny day, this solar unit creates three times more energy than the average solar panel on your roof. To distil the gin it only uses direct sun warmth. The electricity for the pumps and the controls connected to the still are also fed by the solar unit.

This hand-built project is a very nice example of true sustainability. There is no use of fossil fuel and there is absolutely no loss in the conversion. The electricity saved for the production of one bottle of Solar Gin will light your living room for three days.

The gin is distilled slowly on a low temperature in a copper still. It has a very soft mouthfeel, a floral nose with fresh lemon, cardamom in the finish. You can use it with neutral or floral tonics. I wanted to keep some more sun in my glass, so I combined it with Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic.


For my personal taste this gin is pretty good. I really enjoyed my refreshing Gin & Tonic with citrus notes. I also really love the story of the hand-crafted distilling unit powered by the sun. Now what about the third aspect for my article, the marketing?

This bottle is probably one of the prettiest gin-bottles I have seen in years and it has a very fun gimmick. There is a small light hidden in the bottom of the bottle. Switch it on and you have the sun glowing in your bottle. Love it.
 
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. The pics with Solar logo are copyrighted by Solar Gin.

donderdag 7 mei 2020

Rye Sazerac - An all-time classic

 
No special story or bottle test, just a nice drink because I was craving for this one. The Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans and without any doubt one of my favourite Old Fashioned cocktails. You can make it with brandy or Rye whiskey. The best cocktail I ever tasted was a Sazerac created with super-premium cognac.

It’s very easy to prepare, just like an Old Fashioned recipe should be: You only need your spirit, sugar, bitters and ice.

This time I really wanted to make one with Rye. I also used Absinthe bitters instead of Peychaud’s bitters.


Rye Sazerac


Ingredients
6 cl Sunken Still Rye whisky
1 cl simple syrup
2 dashes Absinthe bitters
Absinthe (for the rinse)


Method
Start by giving your glass a nice Absinthe rinse. Put all other ingredients in a mixglass with lots of ice. Stir for 20 seconds and strain in your glass. Garnish with a peel or a dehydrated slice of lemon.


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.

dinsdag 5 mei 2020

Cinco de Mayo Margarita

 
Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration in Mexico, held on May 5. This date is to commemorate their Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, under the leadership of General Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans.

A nice and tasty drink with a strong base of Tequila can help us celebrate this day πŸ˜‰


A Margarita is a sour-style cocktail and normally mixes Tequila with Cointreau (something sweet and fruity) and fresh lime juice (something sour). In our “special of the day” we choose for Amaro instead of the orange liqueur. We do add a little extra orange bitterness to compensate.

Note : Always taste and adjust while preparing your cocktail. Example : Limes can be very different in acidity and when you use another brand of amaro, the taste can also be very different. At my home, we are used to pretty sour cocktails, since my wife is diabetic. If this drink is a bit to sour for you, just add a half barspoon of agave syrup.


May 5 Margarita

Ingredients
5 cl Tequila Blanco
2 cl Amaro Montenegro
2 cl Fresh lime juice
½ bs Orange bitters


Method
Add everything into a shaker with lots of ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds and double strain into a nice coupe. No garnish, just get some nachos and cheese to accompany this drink.


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.

zaterdag 2 mei 2020

Gimber + When Penicillin just isn't enough

 
Last week I received a very nice sample pack of Gimber, a non-alcoholic product that’s basically a concentrate of ginger juice, made from Peruvian ginger, mixed with lemon and herbs. The perfect serve is 30 ml Gimber topped with 200 ml of Perrier soda. But you can also use 20 ml in warm water (or in your tea), excellent when having a cold. It’s a fresh product without alcohol or preservatives. This means it does have a limited lifespan, it will last 60 days in the refrigerator.

As always, I started with a neat sip, followed by the perfect serve. It sure does have a spicy ginger-bite, definitely stronger than what we’re used from the average ginger-ale or even ginger beer. The first thing that comes to mind is using it in cocktails which normally have ginger-ale or ginger beer in them. And of course I’m going for that strong kick. And when it coms to whisky, peat and ginger go very well together.


When Penicillin just isn’t enough

Ingredients
50 ml Port Charlotte 10y Heavily peated whisky
20 ml Gimber
20 ml fresh lemon juice
10 ml simple syrup


Method
Put everything in a shaker with enough ice. Shake for 20 seconds and double strain into a tumbler with a big block of ice. Garnish with ginger. Candied ginger would be nice, dried ginger also does the trick.


Tip : You don’t have candied ginger, but you do have some fresh ginger in your fridge ? Cut off a fresh slice (very thin) and dip it in sugar. The sugar will stick to the juicy sides. Burn with your kitchen torch. Not as good as properly made (boiled) candied ginger, but a good second best.

 
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.