Holiday 2016

 

The holidays are the best time to experiment and create festive cocktails. This is our first holiday season with Amaro Bilaro in the bottle, and we had a fabulous time riffing on some classics and collaborating with friends, all in the goal of creating a more perfect holiday cocktail.

Holiday mis-en-place

Holiday mis-en-place

First, we joined forces with our friends at Gus and Grey, a fabulous jam company based in Detroit.  We've been buying Tara Grey's jams for years (FYI, they make great holiday gifts), and we loaded up on a few new ones in the beginning of December to work into cocktails.

 
 
Amaro Bilaro teams up with Gus & Grey

Amaro Bilaro teams up with Gus & Grey

 
Darlin' Bilaro

Darlin' Bilaro

Darlin' Bilaro:

1/2 oz Death's Door Gin; 1/2 oz Amaro Bilaro; 1/2 oz Don Ciccio Cinque Aperitivo; 1 barspoon Gus & Grey Oh My Darlin' Cranberry-Clementine Marmalade; 3 wedges satsuma (lightly muddled); 2 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters.

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously and double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with brandied cranberries (see prior post for instructions on how to brandy cranberries).

 

The Bitter Floozie:

1.5 oz Bourbon (you can use any kind on hand, we used Buffalo Trace); 1/2 oz Amaro Bilaro; 3/4 oz lemon juice; 2 dashes peach bitters; 1 barspoon Gus & Grey Floozie (peach bourbon vanilla jam).

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice; shake hard. Double strain into a glass with crushed ice; garnish with a lemon twist. 

The Bitter Floozie

The Bitter Floozie

And of course no holiday would be complete without eggnog!  The addition of Amaro Bilaro adds a bitter twist to a traditionally sweet holiday drink.  We combined 1/2 oz each of Amaro Bilaro, Brandy and Coffee Liqueur and 4.5 oz eggnog in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake hard, and strain into a glass of your choice.  Don't forget to grate fresh nutmeg on top!

Grating fresh nutmeg is key

Grating fresh nutmeg is key

Cheers!

Thanksgiving cocktails

How did we get to Thanksgiving so quickly?  It feels like yesterday that we rang in 2016. Anyway, I digress.  It's time, perhaps even overdue, to look at making some cocktails to help whet the appetite on the holiday and digest after the big meal.  One of the first points of inspiration is Brad Parsons' terrific new book, "AMARO".  There are tons of fabulous recipes in there to help guide you in using amari in cocktails.  

In coming up with three recipes for the big day, we riffed on classics as well as some newer recipes.  But before diving into cocktails, we decided to brandy some cranberries.

Brandied Cranberries

Brandied Cranberries

Brandied Cranberries: from The Little Epicurean 

6 oz fresh cranberries, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1 cinnamon stick, 1/2 cup brandy.

In a small pot, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries, and stir until coated in syrup. Cook for 30-45 seconds, just before the cranberries start to pop open. Remove from heat and transfer to a 1/2 liter jar. Add cinnamon stick, pour in brandy, then pour in enough sugar syrup to fill the jar. Cover with lid and let chill for at least 48 hours.

Old Fashioned, Bilaro Style

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (we used Buffalo Trace); 1/2 oz Amaro Bilaro; 4 barspoons spiced cranberry simple syrup and 3 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir vigorously until chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass with 1 large cube; garnish with brandied cranberries

 

 

Bilaro Old Fashioned

Bilaro Old Fashioned

Autumn in Occidental

Autumn in Occidental

Autumn in Occidental  

This is inspired by Brad Parsons' recipe Autumn Sweater, in his book "Bitters."  

1 oz Rye; 1/2 oz Amaro Bilaro; 1/2 oz Averna; 1/2 oz maple syrup; 1 dash Fee Bros. Orange Bitters; 1 dash Fee Bros Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir well until chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass, over a large cube of ice.  Garnish with an orange peel, studded with cloves.

The last cocktail is an adaptation of Cranberry Beret, in AMARO.  

2 satsuma orange wedges; 12 brandied cranberries; 1 1/2 oz Laird's Applejack; 1/2 oz Amaro Bilaro; 1/2 oz Aperol; 2 dashes Scrappy's Orange Bitters; Eye Apple Cyder

The apple cider we used, called Eye Cyder, is made by Eric Sussman, winemaker and owner of Radio-Coteau in Sebastopol, in west Sonoma County.  Wicked tasty, and we love how great Eye Cyder and Bilaro play together.

Combine satsuma wedges and cranberries in a cocktail shaker and muddle until the fruit is just broken up.  Add the Applejack, Amaro Bilaro, Aperol and bitters and fill with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a collins glass filled with ice.  Top off with Eye Cyder; garnish with orange peel and skewered brandied cranberries.

Cranberry Beret

Cranberry Beret

'Cesca review in the New York Times

Sometimes we are reminded just how long Patrick has been obsessed with amari.  We recently stumbled across William Grimes' review of 'Cesca, the Upper West Side restaurant that opened in 2003, with Tom Valenti in the kitchen. Patrick was the wine director, and although he has been through numerous restaurant openings before, with more extensive wine lists, this is the first (and only) time he has been singled out in the New York Times for his beverage program. He's always been a guy ahead of the curve; back then so few were talking about this category of spirits.  This was William Grimes' last restaurant review for the paper on the last day of December, 2003.

Harvest in Sonoma County

Harvest has begun in Sonoma County.  We love this time of year -- the excitement of crush is addictive.  Our friends in wine production spend long hours in the cellar and somehow find time to have wonderful harvest lunches and dinners, and generously open fabulous wines.  We feel tied to the wine community in so many ways, and are reminded of those ties every time we see a bottle of Amaro Bilaro.  Our amaro begins in the vineyard; grapes are harvested and fermented into wine, which we distill to make the grape spirit that is the basis of our amaro.

Introducing Amaro Bilaro!

 
 

It's been a pretty big week at Bilaro Spirits.  After a wonderful holiday weekend, we released Amaro Bilaro to the trade on Tuesday.  We've been visiting some pretty cool bar programs and shops in Northern California, and the feedback has been tremendous.  We will do our best to keep the website current with all the restaurants, bars and shops carrying our amaro.

Negroni Week 2016

Last week was Negroni Week, 7 days of worshipping one of our fave cocktails for a good cause.  We made quite a few variations at home and visited a few bars and restaurants in our area to support local charities.  We had so much fun we made a video, to the fabulous song "Fresh Start" by our friend Stephanie Keller Bondulich.

Countdown to bottling...

I know from all my winemaker friends that there are always delays in the production process that cannot be avoided.  We've had quite a few delays and hiccups, super annoying and tension-filled as they were happening.  Hopefully they are in the rear view mirror, and it will be smooth sailing right into bottling next week. 

There are two tanks in the above photo; on the left is Batch 1, which we put through a final filtration today.  Filtering was the great unknown for us; most of the wines we work with are unfiltered and often unfined, too.  Not even an option for amaro.  

The tank on the right contains Batch 2; herbs and botanicals will be macerating in the grape spirit for another two weeks.

We are super excited about the final version of Batch 1, post filtration.  The elements are all in sync, with bitter flavors, botanicals and alcohol in perfect balance.  The primary aromas are rosemary, bitter orange and saffron.  Most importantly for us, the amaro is assertively bitter, with very little perception of sweetness.  This is an amaro for bitter lovers, slightly gnarly, with high-toned aromatics.  And we love the beautiful amber color; naturally achieved (no coloring agents were used in the production process.)