Show 340, September 7, 2019: Taco Rosa’s Ivan Calderon Previewing the 7th Annual “Battle of the Tequileros”

Ivan Calderon of Taco RosaTaco Rosa, Chef Ivan Calderon’s upscale Mexican restaurant in Newport Beach, will host its 7th Annual Battle of the Tequileros on Sunday, September 22nd from 4-8 p.m. Bringing together 34 different tequila and mezcal brands, the celebratory event will benefit Operation of Hope Worldwide, a local non-profit providing free, life-changing surgeries and health care for children and adults in under-served areas of the world, while creating a self-sustaining program of hope through education.”

“As the most diverse tequila tasting in Southern California, the event gives guests an unparalleled opportunity to experience the unique nuances between a variety of tequilas and mezcals. Guests can also enjoy tray-passed tapas-style bites from the Taco Rosa kitchen, exciting giveaways, and live music performed by The Agave Bros. of Laguna Beach. Guests will embark on a tasting journey through which they will determine winners in four categories: Best Tequila, Best Mezcal, Best Cocktail, and Best Booth Presentation.”

“Over the past seven years, we have seen tremendous growth of Battle of the Tequileros, with more attendees and tequila houses. We’re thrilled to provide tequila enthusiasts with an exciting and educational event which also allow us to support local organizations with a global impact,” comments Chef Ivan Calderon of Taco Rosa. “We are proud to once again partner with Operation of Hope Worldwide, an organization whose global reach has impacted, and even saved the lives of thousands of people throughout the developing world.”

Tickets for the 21-and-over event are priced at $100 and offer guests all-inclusive access to tequila and mezcal cocktails and samples, live music, and tapas. Tickets can be purchased by calling 949.720.0980.

Chef Ivan graciously uncorks the premium tequila for us.

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Show 338, August 24, 2019: Plymouth Gin with Global Brand Ambassador Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge

Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge is the brand ambassador for Plymouth GinThe classic martini never went out of style and gin is making a resurgence in the cocktail world. Plymouth Gin (dating to 1793) is closely tied to the evolution of many of the cocktail world’s significant libations.

“Gin appears in cocktail guides as early as 1900, and by 1930, was ubiquitous in the influential The Savoy Cocktail Book. In modern times, It’s employed in mixed drinks that originated both in their initial form with Plymouth Gin and also ones where an ambiguous call for “gin” has led to many cocktail makers reaching for Plymouth Gin.”

As Global Brand Ambassador, Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge has travelled the world, absorbing and influencing cocktail culture wherever he goes, sharing his deep knowledge of Gin and Cocktails. He is regularly referenced in press and articles around the world and his book on the classic Pink Gin cocktail is available in the Angostura distillery in Trinidad, while his writing on the brand and classic cocktail history with award winning writer Aaron Goldfarb and Punch Creative.

The Gin Companion is available online to buy.

Guiding us is Plymouth Gin’s Global Brand Ambassador, Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge.

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Show 335, August 3, 2019: Steve Nydell, General Manager, Navy Proof Food & Spirits, Long Beach

Steve Nydell of Navy Proof Food and SpiritsDINE LBC – Long Beach Restaurant Week is now in progress and runs through Sunday, August 11th. It’s a prime time to dine in a possible new restaurant discovery in Long Beach. On the menu with us is Steve Nydell the General Manager and Beverage Director of the newly launched Navy Proof Food & Spirits, one of the participating restaurants in DINE LBC.

The cuisine at Navy Proof Food and Spirits emphasizes technique and texture to highlight the versatility of seasonal ingredients and locally-sourced seafood and meat. A notable element that earmarks the concept is its highly-developed beverage program led by Steve NydellNavy Proof Food and Spirits General Manager. An approachable cocktail bar with a highly creative team of bespoke bartenders, the restaurant offers guests a rich experience with classic cocktails refreshed and re-imagined. In addition to lunch and dinner service, breakfast service is offered daily, in addition to a robust happy hour.

Boasting a world-class, bartender driven cocktail program, biodynamic wines and local brews, Navy Proof Food & Spirits guests enjoy the vast offerings of rare and distinctive spirits plus tableside cocktail service, including the Bargaining Table created with 12 – year rum, averna amaro, coffee liquor, sour cherry bitters. Groups of 2 – 6 can also enjoy the large format Cult of Sailors, made of white rum, grapefruit juice, limejuice, aperol, orgeat (almond syrup) & aromatic bitters.

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Show 324, May 18, 2019: Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden’s Anthony Laborin, Head of Cocktail R & D

Anthony Laborin of Farmhouse at Rogers GardenOne of the special attractions at Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden in Corona del Mar is the Farmhouse Bar under the direction of Anthony Laborin, head of Cocktail R & D. He shops weekly for seasonal ingredients at the Wednesday morning Farmers Market in Santa Monica with Owner/Executive Chef Rich Mead.

He has 13 new cocktails on the Spring Menu. Among Anthony’s latest creations is Scandalous Scandinavian Panamanian Daiquiri with lime, Swedish Punsch and Panama Pacific Rum.

Also just introduced is Laborin’s Counterfeit Cocktail menu with a tempting selection of four non-alcoholic specialty beverages. Think The Green with cucumber water, pineapple, citrus, wild honey and seedlip.

“The kitchen table is where problems are solved. This is something that Anthony Laborin, head of Cocktail R&D at Farmhouse learned at an early age as he helped his mother and aunts in the kitchen. Since those early days, Anthony has loved the social aspect of the culinary experience. Inherently friendly and genuinely interested in people, he values the interaction with guests that tending bar gives him. Special moments come from listening to guests, learning what kind of drinks and flavor profiles they enjoy and then using that information to introduce them to a specially made, handcrafted cocktail that they never would have thought to order. “When I can convince a guest to try something new and they like it, it brightens my day,” shares Laborin.”

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Show 313, March 2, 2019: Toast Costa Mesa’s Restaurateur Ed Lee & Chef / Proprietor John Park, OC Restaurant Week

John ParkThe new Toast in Costa Mesa is participating with special menus for both Lunch and Dinner.

Proprietor Ed Lee and Proprietor/Chef John Park join us with the delectable specifics.

They are featuring a special $15, 3-course Lunch Menu and a $20, 3-course Dinner menu. Choices within each course. There is also a “Featured Cocktail” for $11 for OC Restaurant Week. It’s Whiskey Business with Makers Mark Bourbon, lemon & egg white.

New for this year is the addition of the nifty Kynbo App for getting current menu info and photos for OC Restaurant Week menu items. It’s available to download for free for either smartphone platform or via their Website. Chef John explains how genuinely useful it’s been to Toast.

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Show 289, September 8, 2018: Chef/Co-Owner Art Gonzalez, Panxa Cocina, Long Beach

Arthur GonzalezChef/Co-Owner Art Gonzalezs Panxa Cocina, Long Beach’s only dedicated modern Southwestern restaurant, has launched its first-ever month-long Hatch Chile celebration throughout the entire month of September, with a portion of the proceeds going to New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute. The Hatch Chile menu is served lunch and dinner, seven-days.

The month-long culinary event, led and inspired by Panxa Cocina’s Executive Chef/Co-Owner Arthur Gonzalez in collaboration with the Chile Pepper Institute’s Co-Founder, Director, and world renowned chile pepper breeder Dr. Paul Bosland, will include diverse programming surrounding the distinctly New Mexican Hatch green chile. Dr. Paul Bosland will be consulting with Chef Gonzalez on the tasting menu to provide guests with the most flavorful chiles available within September’s peak harvest season.

Panxa Cocina’s Hatch Chile Month tasting menu will be available for lunch and dinner featuring authentic Southwestern favorites with highlights including Heirloom Blue Corn Quesadilla with roasted Hatch chile jam, squash blossom, and house queso fresco; and Wagyu Country Fried Steak with Hatch chile gravy.

There is even a Hatch chile libation. The Down the Hatch is made with Union Mezcal, lime, agave, raw green Hatch chile and Aperol. Cheers…

On Saturday, September 15 and Sunday, September 16 from 12-5 p.m., Panxa Cocina will transform a dedicated outdoor space steps from the restaurant to serve as the ultimate “chile roast-out” so guests can have the opportunity to see the roasting firsthand and take home the beloved Southwestern ingredient to enjoy in their own homes. The roasted Hatch chiles freeze well.

Chef Art has the flavor-packed details.

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Show 260, February 10, 2018: Restaurateur Michael McCarty, Michael’s Santa Monica & NYC

Michael McCartyRestaurateur Michael McCarty of Michael’s Santa Monica fame has been a larger-than-life fixture on the local dining scene (Manhattan, too) since 1979. He is a legendary discoverer of youthful culinary talent. In the summer of 2016 Michael reinvented Michael’s Santa Monica once again with the arrival of a hot young chef, Miles Thompson.

When Chef & Restaurateur Michael McCarty opened the landmark Michael’s in Santa Monica back in 1979 I’m not sure he even suspected that he would become one of the pioneers of what is known as California cuisine along with Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck. He pioneered having museum quality art on the restaurant’s wall with not a hint of pretention. A Michael’s in New York came on the scene about a decade later serving breakfast, lunch & dinner to the media elite.

Michael is also known for mentoring rising, young culinary talent. This distinguished alumni club includes Jonathan Waxman, Nancy Silverton, Mark Peel, Ken Frank, and Sang Yoon.

McCarty still can be seen at The Santa Monica Farmers Market on Wednesday mornings with his culinary team. When he’s home in Santa Monica he’s at the restaurant nightly still touching tables and welcoming guests.

We’ll chat with Michael about the diminishing influence of high-profile restaurant critics over the years as well as Chef Miles’ new Winter Happy Hour menu. (Think pork ribs with Calabrian chili red hot and a daily cocktail special for $1.79.) How valuable is restaurant criticism to an established restaurant?

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Show 234, July 29, 2017: Chef Chris Galindo, Hau Tree restaurant & bar, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kauna’oa Bay, The Big Island of Hawaii

Chris GalindoStep off the pristine, white sandy beach and into the open-air, Hau Tree restaurant & bar on the Big Island of Hawaii at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for a causal dining menu which includes sandwiches, wraps, hamburgers, salads, ice cream, their famous Ovaltine Froth, or a cooling Fredrico cocktail which originated right there.

This is an unparalleled spot in The Hawaiian Islands to enjoy the nightly Sunset. Truly spectacular…

Hau Tree offers a grab-n-go breakfast, sit-down lunches and relaxed dinners on the Big Island of Hawai’i. It’s complete with a gazebo-style bar perfectly situated for enjoying cocktails while anticipating the sunset’s elusive green flash.

Talking about “The Fredrico” libation… It was created as a special for a regular guest. It proved so popular it needed to be on the permanent libation menu. Fred wanted a Mai Tai variation that was a little less sweet. “The Fredrico” is Light Rum, Jack Daniel’s Whiskey and blended with Tropical Juices. Cheers…

We pull the newly married Chef Chris Galindo off the beach for an ono overview.

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Little Drummer Boy

Bartender: Dan Tapia
Courtesy of DineLBC

1.5 oz Pecan Infused Rye Whiskey (instructions below)
4-6 oz California Clementine-infusion, piping hot (instructions below)
1 Tb Cinnamon/Nutmeg Compound Butter (instructions below)Little Drummer Boy Cocktail by Dan Tapia
salt to taste

Pour whiskey into mug. Ladle clementine infusion on top. While mug is still steaming hot from infusion, add one tablespoon of compound butter to the top. Toddy should be hot enough to melt the butter to form a delicious layer on top, and the spices will diffuse into toddy as well as remain on the butter layer. Throw a pinch of salt on top of you like the butter to come out a little more, don’t if you like the spices to dominate.

Pecan Infused Rye Whiskey
For rapid infusion, take a 1L cream whipper and add 750 ml of rye. Fill to top with pecans, allowing enough space in the whipper for the gas cartridge, about a cup’s worth. Charge whipper and give a little shake. With whipper standing upright, release the gas as rapidly as possible (the rapid change in pressure is what creates most of the infused flavor). Whiskey may also shoot out, so put a jar or bottle over the business end of the whipper.

Clementine Infusion
Cut 8 clementines in half, and squeeze juice into 1.5 L of water. Add the rinds into the water as well and bring to a boil. This is probably the hardest to do behind a bar, but I imagine a clementine squeezed into a French press with some hot tea water should do the trick nicely.

Compound Butter
Here’s where the magic happens! Soften 500 g  sweet cream butter to where it can easily be whipped in a mixer. Add 300 g light brown sugar (dark brown works well too, it’s all about taste. If you like it a little more on the molasses side, use dark. Have fun, this is boozeplay), 20 g ground cinnamon, and 10 g ground nutmeg. This can be easily scaled, and kept in a deli container for quite some time.