Episode 156 – The Ghost of Cocktail Future

  • How Greg transitioned from a career in the brewing world to a life behind the stick, slinging cocktails, niche agave spirits, and happiness.

  • A little about the two podcasts that Greg helps bring to the airwaves, including the deep-dive, historical contemplations of Bar None and the weekly, boozy nerd-out sessions of The Speakeasy.

  • Then, we focus in on the main subject of this episode: the RESTAURANTS Act – and YES, RESTAURANTS, in this case, is an acronym. A very long, very apt acronym.

  • We talk about the origins of this possible service industry bailout, what it’s designed to do for the hospitality world, and the potential impacts it could have if passed.

  • We do a little thought experiment about winning the hearts and minds of legislators as if we were the ghosts of cocktail bars past, present, and future,

  • We riff on the bitter beauty of gentian liqueurs and existential Yelp reviews,

  • And much, much more.

Not only does Greg have a great voice, but he’s also super passionate about his home bar community in New York City and the larger service industry community that has been devastated by this here super virus we’re all rightfully terrified of. It’s always tricky to talk about the logistics and politics of a bailout, but in my opinion, there’s no better companion for that conversation than the man who thinks Suze can solve all the world’s problems.

Featured Cocktail Garnish: Brandied Cherries

This episode’s featured cocktail is…well…not a cocktail at all. But it is a recipe that we recently developed for Brandied Cherries. These delicious little flavor bombs are made from tart (or sour) cherries – usually the Montmorency variety – and the ripeness window for these cherries is a pretty narrow one – and we happen to be right in the middle of it here in mid-July. So, if you live near upstate New York, Michigan, or the Pacific Northwest where the majority of these fruits are grown, then you might just be in the position to grab a few quarts and try your hand at brandying them.

The recipe below is a fusion of one by The Spruce Eats and Alex Luboff’s recipe for brandied cherries from the Speaking Easy Podcast. Basically, we took what we thought were the best aspects of each.

The ingredients you’ll need are as follows:

  • 1.5 pounds of sour cherries

  • 6 oz (by weight) of sugar

  • 6 fluid ounces of water

  • 8 oz of Brandy – we used the ubiquitous E&J VS, which you can purchase by the handle

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2 cloves

  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice

  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

This should ideally yield about 2 pints of brandied cherries, so feel free to scale it up or down as you see fit.

The process for making these cherries is pretty simple if you’ve ever canned anything before. But if you don’t have any experience canning, it might make sense for you to do a little outside research before you commit because there IS a potential for messing this up if you’re a beginner. Essentially, though, the production steps are as follows:

  • First, you’ve got to pit and de-stem your cherries. This is a step that wasn’t done in the Speaking Easy recipe, but it’s super easy if you’re willing to part with less than 15 bucks  for a cherry/olive pitting tool on Amazon. My advice? Definitely de-pit your cherries. But make sure you do it right before you brandy the cherries because they’re super delicate and have thin skins. You don’t want these sitting in their own juices overnight.

  • Next, combine your water, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and spices (clove and cinnamon) in a saucepan or pot on the stovetop, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Once you’ve let all those flavors get to know one another, you add your Brandy, continuing to stir over VERY low heat until the liquid reduces a little. Remember you’re adding alcohol to a heat source here, so be sure to follow instructions and use EXTREME caution.

  • Then, once you’ve got the brandy syrup where you want it, add the cherries and their juices, stirring very gently until you’re confident that juice is evenly incorporated.

  • At this point, it’s time to can, and we recommend doing this in a large stock pot where you can set up a boiling hot water bath. This process in itself contains several important food safety steps, so be sure to check out this canning resource if you have any questions about the process.


Episode 155 – Breaking Bloody (Part 1: The Tomato Man Cometh)

Giant Sticky Bun