52 Weeks of Drinks: Week 45 – Bar eleven (Loews Hotel)

This past week, we decided to head to Loews Hotel and hang out with a lot of traveling folks from all over the world at Bar eleven.  Of the places we have been and the hotel bars we have experienced – this isn’t the most impressive.  Head over to Drink Shop at the Wif you want a true craft cocktail.  This place is fine if you are there on business and need a full-color cocktail menu with pictures of happy people sipping drinks a la Chili’s to help you decide.  That dig aside, this bar had its own separate feature cocktail list that was not all that bad and the people serving them were all good looking – especially Quinton, our bartender.

He suggested the Elderflower Martini and their specialty at Bar eleven, the Lavender Drop Martini.  Now, being a bit afraid of lavender drinks on the whole, we were both a little hesitant to try it.  Sometimes lavender drinks can and do taste like nice smelling bath water.  But, this one did not.

We will start with the Elderflower Martini which is a drink that we often make (Hendricks gin, St. Germain, lime juice) – but this one has a splash of Blue Curacao.  Interesssttting.  And Tasty.  And Blue. Here is Alison’s take…

Don’t forget our ratings scale is between 1 and 5 Olives.  One Olive = waste of my blogging time;  5 Olives = oh my goodness/yummmmmm

Presentation: 2 olives – Electric blue in any cocktail gives me flashbacks to the “jet fuel” shot I once did in college at Willy’s in New Orleans.  I am too old for electric blue cocktails

Creativity:  2.5 olives – The addition to the blue stuff makes this more creative than the standard version of this drink, but the rest of the ingredients are straight from the St. Germaine’s website.  Heck, that one may be as well.

Taste: 4 olives – yummy electric blue goodness

Overall: 3 olives – tasty but too blue for me.

Now, my drink, the Lavender Drop Martini, was superb and even came with a piece of lavender on top.  Consisting of Ciroc vodka, muddled lavender, lemon juice and simple syrup, this drink was truly excellent and I would go back to Bar eleven to get it.  (I would not however go back and order food as their drinks were much better than the grub.) But I digress.

Presentation: 4 olives – With a bit of fresh lavender floating on top, this was one pretty drink.

Creativity: 3.5 olives – I usually hate lavender in a drink, but muddled lavender with the lemon juice and simple syrup – it excelled.  Who thought of this?

Taste: 5 olives -  I mean, seriously. Yum Yum Yum go get you some.

Overall: 4 olives.  Again, I’d go back for this one and sit at the bar learning about geothermal heat systems from Mike (who we met at the bar in town from St. Simon.)

Both drinks were $11.00 each so if you are in the Midtown area, you could spend an early evening there for a cocktail before heading to a nice restaurant elsewhere.

Agreed!

52 Weeks of Drinks: Week 44 – HobNob Neighborhood Tavern

We have been meaning to visit our good friend, Mary Ann, at HobNob for some time.  She is a bartender there and we finally got off our lazy set in our ways butts and hopped over to HobNob the other night before Holly’s 40th birthday party.  Alison and I plopped ourselves at the bar and enjoyed hanging out with all the wait staff in their Halloween costumes.

The place is inviting and enjoyable and we had a great time with Mary Ann (pictured above) as she picked out beverages and food for us.  (By the way, the fried green tomatoes were to die for.)   HobNob has wonderful infused vodkas and nicely served drinks all around.  They are also known for their alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) milk shakes.  We decided to get Mary Ann’s creation- the Sparkling Lemonade.  This shake consists of vodka, lemon sorbet, champagne, and is garnished with a twist of lemon.  Before I rate this shake, let me first say that had it not been 45 degrees outside, we would have devoured it.  Yet, because it was cold outside, I had a hard time enjoying the coolness of the drink. But, that has nothing to do with the taste of it.  Yum.

Don’t forget our ratings scale is between 1 and 5 Olives.  One Olive = waste of my blogging time;  5 Olives = oh my goodness/yummmmmm

Presentation: 2.5 olives – Not much you can do to make this shake fancy, but the lemon wedge is a nice touch. I did not think about actually squeezing the lemon in the shake though.

Creativity: 3.5 olives – Mary Ann thought of a creative and very refreshing shake for HobNob.  A perfect sipping drink on a WARM day.

Taste: 4 olives – Alison and I both really liked it and had we not been bundled up in our leather coats, we would have enjoyed the sorbet and champagne even more!

Overall: 3.8 olives (to round up my scoring here)  – A great shake (and the others look fabulous as well)  Just get it when you are hanging out on their deck on a sunny and warm spring or summer day!

We enjoyed hanging at HobNob and I almost forgot to add that they have a fabulous beer selection on draft and in bottles so Cheers!  We will certainly be back.  And yes, my hair is now shaved as you can see in the photo above.  If you would like to know why, click here!

More Than a Popsicle

Don’t you wish you had thought of this? I mean, millions upon millions of people were lining up for these $2.50 pops at the [tag]Candler Park Fall Fest[/tag].  The King of Pops is smart and hunky.  Go get that “hand crafted popsicle” from him on the corner of Virginia and Highland (or other various locations.)

52 Weeks of Drinks: Week 43 – Bocado Atlanta

We rarely are this excited about a newer restaurant in town.  It is not that we are food snobs or aficionados.  We just find some places try to replicate another restaurant already in town or they just go way overboard to be different.  I must say that Bocado is not one of these kinds of restaurants.  It is in my humble opinion – damn damn good.

Alison and I had a date night there on Friday night and enjoyed every aspect of it – from the cheese plate to the chicken.  The food was delightful and tasty.  BUT, as we know, this is not a post about food.  It is about liquor.  Adam, the handsome bartender /craft cocktail maker/mixologist- whatever you want to call him has come up with a couple of drinks we downed rather too quickly.

We will start with my drink.  Rosemary Full of Grace is a simple cocktail but was blended with perfection.  Shaken together and served up in a small glass, this drink consisted of vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, and rosemary simple syrup.  I get a little scared about grapefruit juice because it can overpower any drink – but not this one.  The rosemary simple syrup leveled out the grapefruit and made me practically swoon.

Don’t forget our ratings scale is between 1 and 5 Olives.  One Olive = waste of my blogging time;  5 Olives = oh my goodness/yummmmmm

Presentation:  3.5 olives – I did not take a photo and am mad at myself now – but the simplicity of this drink in such a great small glass worked well.  No rosemary twig or slice of anything was needed for this drink.

Creativity: 3.5 olives – Not many ingredients in this drink – and not many needed to make it delightful.

Taste: 5 olives -I don’t give many 5 olive ratings, but I could sip on this drink for a long time.  I will certainly be back to have it again.

Overall: 4 olives – If you like a vodka drink and if you don’t ever get grapefruit drinks because you are like me and think they will be too much – get this one anyway.  You will not be disappointed.

Alison opted for a more “Autumn” drink.  This delicious concoction, Elm Street, consisted of house infused Baker’s bourbon, pumpkin (not out of a can,) and Anise.

Her ratings are below:

Presentation: 4.5 olives  – Don’t be put off by the orange color.  It is a fall drink after-all.

Creativity: 4.5 olives – A perfect balance of mild bourbon cut by not too sweet barely-there pumpkin flavor with tasty flecks of something to give it a nice texture.

Taste: 5 olives – A seasonal hit.

Overall:  4.5 olives – Cheers!

Again, don’t be surprised at how surprised you will be at this restaurant.  A wonderful new addition to Atlanta and the West Side.

52 Weeks of Drinks – Week 42: Atlanta Food and Wine Festival Kick-Off Paaartaayy

We are grateful that we didn’t name this adventure “52 Consecutive Weeks of Drinks” - considering our inability to stay on track.  But I guess we will just roll over into the first couple of weeks of 2011, if necessary.  Who’s really counting?

Week 42 brought us the official launch party for the [tag]Atlanta Food and Wine Festival[/tag].  Our dear friend Elizabeth is one of the brilliant minds behind Atlanta’s soon-to-be can’t miss annual festival - uniting barbecue pit masters, award-winning chefs and mixologists, Master Sommeliers, fry cooks and local growers in the spirit of celebrating the rich food and beverage traditions of the South in May of 2011.  

Ashley missed all the fun because she was off finalizing the details of her 20 Year Class Reunion.   Michael agreed to come as my man-date in Ashley’s place – which meant I got to stay out late! 

As soon as we entered the party, we were greeted by happy, attractive people serving the featured cocktail crafted by [tag]Greg of Holeman & Finch[/tag] – “A Taste of Things To Come.”  I assume this is a reference to the great things to come with this festival , but who knows, or cares, this was a great drink.  And our insider status earned us the actual recipe for this one!  You want to make a batch.

This southern-inspired cocktail was served in a mason jar and featured: Bonal Gentiane-Quina (Vin Aperitif),Lemon juice, Hayman’s Ole Tom Gin, Cointreau, Peychaud Bitters, and top with  Fever Tree Tonic.

Greg says you must use Fever Tree Tonic or it will be too cloying.  I have no idea what “cloying” means, but it sounds bad, so I would listen to Greg.  OK – so I looked it up – it is craft-bartender-speak for too sweet.  Which could be a risk for this arnold-palmer-esque style cocktail.  If you make this at home, don’t add tonic to a large batch; if you do large batch splash in mason jar at the end. 

Don’t forget our ratings scale is between 1 and 5 Olives.  One Olive = waste of my blogging time;  5 Olives = oh my goodness/yummmmmm

Presentation: 5 Olives.  Over ice in a mason jar garnished with a sprig of mint and orange peel plus a cool little Atlanta Food and Wine Festival logo thingy.  Casual classy and appropriate for the event. 

Creativity: 5 olives:  Can you say ”Bonal Gentiane-Quina”?  Of course not.  Not one of the members of the hip “in” crowd at this event had ever heard of this either so don’t feel bad. 

From the website I found when Googling – “Bonal Gentiane-Quina, once nicknamed ‘ouvre l’appetit”‘(the key to the appetite), is a delicious aperitif wine that has been in production since 1865.  It is made by infusing gentian root, herbs from the Grande Chartreuse mountains, and cinchona (quinine), in a Mistelle base, producing a wine that is known for its complexity. It is traditionally enjoyed neat, on ice with a twist, or in many classic mixed drinks.”

Who knew?  The French.

Taste: 4.5 olives: Not too sweet, crisp, cold, freshing and yum. 

Overall: 4.8 olives: Make a batch for your friends, even if you aren’t hosting a festival launch party.

Now go and buy tickets to this festival, because the libations were delightful.  Good drinks, good food, good idea. 

52 Weeks of Drinks: Week 41 – Bone Garden Cantina (Repeat Performance)

We can repeat a place.  You know why?  Because we are the writers and rule makers for our own blog.  That’s why.  We often go to the Bone Garden Cantina because we like the fabulous food and drinks there and we also like Kristen and Michael.  We decided to do a repeat performance here because they have an entire new drink list – and one that is based on one of our favorite things – tequila.  Not just any tequila: Bone Garden offers superb and rare tequilas that are quite frankly amazing.

Bone Garden now not only offers a (very serious) Tequila Club for those interested in tasting tequilas from all over Mexico, but they also offer tequila pairings on certain Saturdays. Either way, it rocks.  Yummy, yummy, yummy for your tummy.

This past week (remember we are a week behind and I promise to catch up this week) we headed over to Bone Garden for some grub and libations.   Alison ordered the new Instant Karma – a delicious drink served in a tall glass with Karma tequila, St. Germain, fresh lemon juice, an egg white and topped with cayenne pepper.  Wow.  I ordered the Roselle: an amazing cocktail that would be fabulous served either up or on the rocks. (I got it on the rocks.) It consisted of Gran Centenario’s Rosangel tequila, Cointreau, cranberry juice, Agave Nectar, and lime juice.  Holy Schmoly.  My favorite new drink. (That is Kristen fixing it behind the bar by the way…)

The problem here is that I did not get good photos because it was dark and we were quite enthralled with the LSU /Tennessee Game that was on.  With that said, I did get a photo of possibly the best sipping tequila straight up I have had in a long time.  The Corzo Anejo tasting is served with a slice of orange covered in cinnamon.  If you are to squeeze a bit of the orange in the tasting, it is divine.  Just don’t squeeze too much or you will lose the flavor the tequila itself. You can still throw that slice in the drink – but beware of over-squeezing.

Don’t forget our ratings scale is between 1 and 5 Olives.  One Olive = waste of my blogging time;  5 Olives = oh my goodness/yummmmmm

I have decided to rate only the Instant Karma because I would give the other two 5′s all the way around. 

Presentation: 3.5 Olives: The tall glass worked wonders for this drink and since you can’t see it because I did not take a photo of it, you will just have to trust me.  The cayenne pepper on top of the egg white made it look muy delisioso.

Creativity: 3.5 olives:  Everything has St. Germain in it these days – but with the tequila and egg white mixing in, it makes it pretty darn creative.

Taste: 4 olives: I am going by Alison’s rating here.  She would have given this a 4 olive rating.  I, on the other hand, would have given it a 2.5 only because I kept smelling the damn egg in the glass when I drank.  As Michael said, “Quit breathing in when you taste it.”  Should have listened to him.

Overall: 3.5 olives: For those who love tequila and St. Germain, this is the drink for you.  Not heavy at all and light on the egg white, it is a great drink to sip on.

Bone Garden is a must for tequila tasters everywhere – and of course, don’t forget about the food.

52 Weeks of Drink: Week 40 – Murphy’s

I’ll admit it.  We are two weeks behind.  We hit a major wall at Week 40 of 52 Weeks of Drinks.  Who knew it would be so difficult to drink your way through the year.  Seriously.  It ain’t easy finding new places to go to and then ordering different cocktails each week.  We do major research, we take on calories each week, and I am convinced I have gained like 5 pounds.

So, there you have it -two weeks behind-but I swear we will catch up this week.  Our Week 40 place ended up being Murphy’s AT LUNCH on Week 41 – because we had failed to try any new place on the real Week 40.

I met a high school friend and another friend at Murphy’s in the Virginia Highlands last week for lunch.  Murphy’s is a staple in-town and always has excellent food – and of course a great wine selection.  I decided to ask the cute bartender, Phillip, if he could make me a fabulous cocktail.   He made me one that will be coming out on their fall cocktail list – called the Pumpkin Tini. We are getting ready to taste it at 12:20pm in the photo below…

This Pumpkin Tini should really not be consumed at lunch.  There were three of us sipping on it for the sake of it and we still did not finish it.  I think Kristie and Jill liked it better than I did. It was a bit sweet and heavy for me.  Either way, the Pumpkin Tini consisted of Absolute vanilla vodka,  pumpkin pie filling, pumpkin spiced syrup, a little half and half, a dash of cinnamon, and some fancy homemade whipped cream on top.  (Notice Kristie enjoying the “Tini” a lot in this photo.)

Don’t forget our ratings scale is between 1 and 5 Olives.  One Olive = waste of my blogging time;  5 Olives = oh my goodness/yummmmmm

Presentation: 3.5 Olives: Nice presentation – served up and with a bit of cinnamon on top as well as homemade whip cream made it look very “Autumny.”

Creativity: 3.0 Olives: I thought this was a pretty creative drink although I would love it if Murphy’s actually made their own pumpkin spice filling. I guess that is a bit much considering they specialize in awesome wines – not “cocktails.”

Taste: 2.5 Olives: Although Kristie said she would give it 3.5 olives, I am choosing to give it 2.5.  I thought the Absolute Vanilla made it way too sweet. I think a regular vodka would be fine since you they are using pumpkin pie filling, and pumpkin syrup in it as well.  I’d certainly think this is an after dinner drink.  Rather than having a dessert, drink up!

Overall: 3 olives: Again, a good after dinner drink instead of splurging for dessert.

Enjoy Murphy’s – I have never gone wrong there.

My Trashy City Part 2

I am in a horrid mood today.  So, I figure I will take my wrath out on the City of Atlanta and The State of Georgia and many of its residents for the amount of trash being thrown out on our streets.

This past weekend, East Lake Golf Club sponsored the Fed Ex Cup of the PGA Tournament.   Many many people were “bussed in” from Turner Stadium to East Lake for the tournament- and what did they get to see?  They got to see loads and loads of trash coming onto and off of the Maynard Terrace Exit of I-20.  It makes me sick.   The PGA brings millions of dollars into this city and state and this is what we have to show for it.  Bravo, Atlanta.  Bravo.

52 Weeks of Drinks: Week 39-Holeman & Finch Public House

We mustered up the energy this week to head to Buckhead’s Holeman & Finch.  We ate-up yummy house-cured meat and cheese, fried pickles, mussels, deviled eggs, and dessert, plus all sorts of other things.  Had we known Seam and Jennifer were going to pick up the tab, we would have exercised more restraint.  I swear we ate half the menu.

Oh, and the drinks!  We loved this bar.  All of the cocktails are served in hand-washed glasses by bar tenders wearing vests and ties.  We are suckers for bars with bartenders who dress up.  (Evan looked especially handsome as you can see.) The cocktail menu was seasonal and featured lots of nice bourbon drinks mixed with just the right balance of citrus flavors.  We really enjoyed the staff here – especially Dawn Marie (Misty Dawn…) – who gave us excellent recommendations for drinks and nibbles.

I opted for the Pig-Pik Sour consisting of Bulleit bourbon, Marie Brizard apry, Regan’s orange bitters, tamarind, lemon, and smoked egg white.  It also had a home-made bacon salt rim.  De-li-cious.  I felt confident that anything on this cocktail menu would have been yum. My ratings:

Presentation: 4 of 5 Olives.  All drinks are served in appropriately sized crystal clear glasses.  This one came is a tiny little rocks/low ball glass.  The bacon-salt rim was a nice touch and the custom ice-maker allows for perfectly square cubes that look home-made.  A little egg-white on top – but nothing too crazy.  No need to add an umbrella to this baby.

Taste : 4.5 of 5 Olives.  I’ve said it before – I don’t drink much Bourbon, but a finely crafted bourbon cocktail with a nice balance of sweet and citrus can’t be beat.  This was a nice one – an orange citrus balance to the bourbon that was not too strong and smoothed out with the smoked egg white.

Creativity 5 of 5 Olives: Unless the Pig Pik is some sort of southern classic that I missed because I rarely drank bourbon before this journey, I thought this was a unique combination if goodness.

Overall – 4 of 5 Olives:  Get it.  Drink It.  You will like it.

Jennifer (pictured below toasting all of our readers) chose the La Huevadora which consisted of Cazadores Blanco tequila, Frangelico, grapefruit, lemon and egg white.  Her rating is below:

“Presentation:  4 olives.  La Huevadora comes in a petite sculpted tulip-shaped wine glass.  Creamy butter yellow at the bottom and white frothy foam on top.  Bellisima!

Creativity:  4 olives.  It was my first drink made with egg white, so I’m very impressed with the creativity.  The drink also had the right balance — I smelled tequila and I sort of tasted the tequila like Goldilox, in just the right amount.

Taste:  3.5 olives.  I’m torn over this rating.  I thought it tasted great, but in addition to smelling tequila, I could also smell egg.  I don’t know if that was the drink or if I smelled it from food around me, but I associated it, perhaps unfairly, with the drink.  The citrus was a nice touch to the drink, but it also wasn’t overly acidic like I would have expected it to be.

Overall: 4 olives.  I would drink this drink again.  It was smooth, it was pretty, it was Huevos.”

Certainly we will be back and if you have not tried this place, GO NOW.