Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cocktails on the Ides

For many, it is simply a rainy March Thursday, with little to be said for itself. For history, it was the famed day Julius Ceasar was murdered, back in ol' 44 BC. For you and for me, it's a gorgeous day to share a cocktail or two. For those of you who've been reading this blog for a while, you'll remember a cocktail I served last year at Forbidden Island called the Ides of March (invented this day last year). For your drinking pleasure this afternoon, I offer up the Ides, as well as its 2012 counterpart, The Soothsayer.

IDES OF MARCH (Suzanne Long)

1.5 oz Disaronno Amaretto
1.5 oz Maurin Quina
1 oz Black Maple Hill Small Batch Bourbon
Dropperful of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry.

The story behind the Ides of March cocktail is a delightful in-the-industry sort of story. I was at Forbidden Island well after closing. It was clean and quiet. I was thinking about leaving, but a bottle of Maurin Quina had been dropped off by a rep that day, and I had tasted it and completely fell in love, and I just wanted to put a cocktail together with it before I left. So, I added some of the Black Maple Hill small batch bourbon and with the amazing almond notes in the Maurin Quina, I felt like the DiSaronno would be a nice addition, and nothing that nice couldn't be finished off beautifully with a hint of the spicy chocolate in the mole bitters, so I dashed that in too. I was on the working side of the bar and poured the cocktail, took one sip, and loved it so much that I walked all the way around the bar and sat down and savored that cocktail. It was nice to sit, quietly, enjoying the cocktail, and be in a beautiful bar which was silent and still. The Ides of March was named for the day that I created it and secondly for its rich, blood red color. I enjoy them whenever I can get my hands on a bottle of Maurin Quina.

Maurin Quina, for those who are not familiar, is a glorious spirit based in Quinine with spectacular almond and cherry notes. The image shown here is quite well known, designed by Leonetto Cappiello, an Italian living in Paris at that time. Many have mistaken it for a turn of the century absinthe ad. As I understand it, the spirit went out of production around 1906, and was only re-introduced to the American and European markets in the last year or two.


1.5 oz Henry McKenna Straight Bourbon
1 oz Otima 10 yr Tawny Port
.25 oz Bénédictine
Dropperful of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into small cocktail glass or champagne coupe. Garnish with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry.

The Soothsayer is a fitting counterpart for the Ides. I wanted something that would have that rich warming feeling but with a little bit more complexity. The Otima 10 has some really nice bitter chocolate and orange notes, so the Xocolatl Mole Bitters from Bittermens were a natural to drive the flavor home. They play very nicely with Bénédictine, too.

Typically we toast to the Queen's health with every cocktail at The Pad, but today, it seems as if we'd do well to toast to Ceasar, as well. I'm off to another Soothsayer - and here's luck to all of you, with no reason to fear the Ides!

I'll see YOU there!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Champagne! (and breakfast the morning after)

Every March at The Pad, we throw a little party called the Black Tie Champagne Gala. It's a simple concept, really - let's get everyone together in formal attire for a ridiculously fabulous party in a little tiny space, and use it as an excuse to fill the bathtub with ice and bubbly. It works. This year we had a really nice addition to the space - Xander Hudson of Digital Ambiance did a gorgeous job of installing led lighting on the shelves of the bar, and bringing an even nicer level of soft illumination to the room. As much sparkling wine and champagne as you can stand, and this is what the party looks like (warning, gratuitous party pictures):

A glimpse of the bar, so beautifully lit by Xander Hudson:

Me, in an animated moment:

Paul, my co-host:

Revelry with Revelers:

Suzanne trying to see the world through James's eyes:

Chris, looking rather serious and discussing overseas affairs:

Paul in discussion with lighting designer (and our dear friend) Xander:

...and this one, just because:
The tub, (at the end of the evening, after most of the bottles were gone!!):

Of course, after such revelry, the morning after needs a little pick me up. So, for those remaining the next day, we served these. We call it, aptly, Breakfast.

BREAKFAST (By Suzanne Long)

2 oz St. George Terroir Gin
1 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
5 dashes Organic Harvest Chipotle Habanero Pepper Sauce
1 dropperful Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
1 dash A-1 Steak Sauce
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash dried Chipotle Powder
4 oz V-8 Vegetable Juice
As many pickled things as your glass will hold, and then a few more on top

Build all ingredients in a glass, and then roll back and forth from glass to shaker until mixed. Garnish with ALL the pickled things! Enjoy, and contemplate hiring someone else to clean up.

Happy Sunday, and I'll see YOU there!


Gala photos by Gabriel Hurley of
Breakfast photo by Christopher Guiao

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A good dose of open road California rambling

Am I contemplating the next cocktail in that photo? Definitely. Even in an abandoned military site on top of a bluff in the Marin Headlands, I couldn't forget about the fact that St. George Absinthe was waiting nicely and patiently for me back home at The Pad, to celebrate National Absinthe Day. I worked up a good thirst hiking around in the intense wind, and getting home to a few cozy cocktails was a treat. I can never pass up a Death in the Afternoon (a favorite of mine at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans - how could anyone argue with Champagne and Absinthe?), and would have a hard time ever saying no to a beautiful glass of the St. George Absinthe Verte beautifully louched (I guess I'm just that kind of girl). So after seeing a windy and glorious Marin sunset, that's what we did back at The Pad.

Any time I find myself talking about the wonder of absinthe (especially the glory of St George's exquisite product), I can't help but want to share this amazing cocktail, created in Black Orchid Sessions for a Sessions regular and dear friend, Dave Hildebrandt. In Dave's Sessions experiences we created a cocktail for each of the planets in our solar system. This cocktail, Uranus, is a gem.

URANUS (By Suzanne Long, for David Hildebrandt, in Black Orchid Sessions)

1/4 oz St. George Absinthe
1 oz Exotica Syrup (see below)
1 oz Gordon's London Dry Gin
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 dash Xocolatl Mole Bitters by Bittermens
1 dash Tabasco brand hot sauce

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish (as indicated by Dave himself): "Anything with a 90 degree axial tilt." (I recommend a tiny bit of lime peel orbiting a marasca cherry.)

The Exotica is a blood orange syrup with chocolate. Boil the zest of three blood oranges in 4 cups water. Remove peels and add 8 cups cane sugar. Boil until clear. Add 2 TBSPS chocolate extract and 1 tsp of the juice of one of the oranges. You may also want to try this with Seville oranges if you have them at hand - a different syrup, but also delicious.

The last month has been a wonderful universe of adventure, with road trips making my way all the way to the wildness of the desert near Joshua Tree, CA to the madness of the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. Cocktails were had, dreamed of, and created all along the way. From fitting shots of Knob Creek and draft beers at Pappy and Harriet's, to a right-before-closing and straight-off-the-road Hendrick's martini in a bar drenched in pink in SLO, I couldn't have wished for better. On the horizon: a sea of delicious new inventions with those gins that are taking over the world - the new St. George line; a Bloody Mary variation with more pep, vim and verve than should even be legal; a recap of the 3rd Annual Black Tie Champagne Gala; some new photos of the updated Pad, thanks to the magical skills of Xander Hudson and Digital Ambiance, and a more news about my next mixing adventure. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, enjoy a few choice photos of my roadside adventures.

I'll see YOU there! Everywhere! --Suzanne

On Route 66 in Barstow

Through the door of an abandoned gun turret in Marin

Road sign in the desert

A blurry night time desert road

Photo credits: yours truly, and the intrepid Christopher Guiao. Check him out at