I met Oscar when he offered his bartending talents to benefit the recent Speed Rack competition in LA (Here is the link for that article and a 9 second video of Oscar!) and I noticed him for several reasons. First, he seemed to be the only male bartender shaking up drinks in a pink bandana like the contestants, second, I sipped one of his concoctions and found his skills to be the best of the day, and lastly, for his engaging personality and enthusiasm.
So, of course I friended him on Facebook, and invited him into the Eve Wine 101 group there. This was his first comment on the group’s page:
“Happy to be a part of this group as an enthusiast – but seeking more knowledge to be a sommelier to go hand in hand with my cocktails. Nice to meet you all. We’ll have to get together sometime to talk about craft cocktails and proper utilization of wine in them, looking forward to it!”
That got me to ask Oscar to tell me more about himself and about his craft cocktails with wine.
E101: Tell me about wine in cocktails, any projects you have going, and can you give readers at least one of your own recipes?
OT: We are seeing more leeway into wines, fortified wines, and wine based aperitifs in cocktails. Take a look at my American Beauty in my cocktails folder and take Audrey Saunder’s 50-50 or go to Alpenz.com.
Eric Seed is a friend of mine and we are always talking about raising the guests experience by having them enjoy different cocktails at different parts of their meal and pairing them as well.
Right now I’m working on a project and new concept here in San Diego. It will be a high-end pacific rim fusion cuisine based lounge and restaurant with pairings with everything from wine, spirits, and even cocktails and molecular mixology.
Here’s a great recipe for this time of the season to awaken the palate but at the same time can also be used during and after dinner with differing proportions:
1 1/2oz Paumanok Cabernet Franc
3/4oz fresh lemon juice
1/2oz Dow’s Ruby Port
1/2oz Clove Syrup (24oz simple syrup 1 1/2oz whole cloves, boil the syrup and add the cloves as it simmers and infuse for about 15 mins. then fine strain and refrigerate)
4 Kirsh Brandied Cherries (Luxardo Aged Cherries work well too)
1 egg white
Dry shake (to emulsify egg) all the ingredients except the syrup and cherries. Muddle the cherries and syrup then combine the two mixtures in the shaker and shake with ice. Strain over a chilled wine glass (in the fridge or chiller). Garnish with grated Nutmeg. Cheers!
I also have a pumpkin spiced dram that I came up with over weeks and weeks of fine tuning, it works well instead of the clove syrup for a more earthy slightly sweeter and aromatic flavor for an after dinner drink, of course.
E101: You mentioned your cocktails folder, where would readers find that?
OT: Well, I was actually referring to my facebook and some humble offerings. I do have a website (mindfulmixology.com) however at this time it is going under construction for launch later this month. As a consultant I have many recipes and techniques according to what fits my guests’ and clients’ needs. I feel that it is an art that should be enjoyed by everyone so I like to include recipes, methods, and techniques. There are many gifted individuals out there with wonderful recipes and techniques but I feel that it has to serve a purpose.
When I craft a cocktail I am mindful of my guests and make something that would create an experience for them, I don’t necessarily make what I think is good based on my own tastes. If this was the case I’d be making so many more negronis! My goal is to offer a taste and a bridge into this wonderful world that I am a part of, just like wines once the bug bites there is no turning back with endless possibilities!
E101: I’m presuming by your recipe that you create your own syrups? Is that common?
OT: Actually, yes! Syrups and infusions are a very personal touch on cocktails. We are seeing more and more mixologists come out with their own syrups, tinctures, and liqueurs.
The thing is, until recently homemade “rectifications” were considered illegal in California. Thanks to the mixologist community and a recent law that was passed, we can now offer these with confidence at public venues.
Caraway infused Campari, black cardamom infused Sherry, black pepper and jalapeno infused Chartreuse, clove infused Cognac, chai tea infused Vermouth, and similar spirits are now being proudly offered in cocktails all around California.
We’re even seeing more bitters and tincture competitions, after all these are what balances and rounds the taste in a lot of cocktails while also playing a part in aromatics in our “back” soft palate. I strongly encourage everyone to try out a few at home and use them as building blocks to create even more for the likes of offering something unique at their holiday parties. Here’s an Idea:
Pumpkin Spice Dram:
24oz. Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale (there are better pumpkin ales but these are relatively easy to find and it works great in this recipe)
28oz. Brown Sugar (Dark)
20oz. Vodka (preferably pot distilled)
1 1/2oz. Pumpkin Pie Spice ( I prefer using the World Market brand)
Method: Pour the ale in a large saucepan and leave in the fridge overnight to release the CO2. Slowly bring the beer to high heat as the rest of the CO2 is released while adding the sugar and spices. At this point the beer will form a head so remove from heat and skim off the head. Allow to cool and add the vodka. Now use some cheesecloth or a fine strainer to remove any particles while pouring the contents in bottles. Leave in the fridge overnight and it will be ready to use.
E101: The photo I grabbed off Facebook for you references the Bartender’s Guild, what’s that?
OT: The United States Bartenders Guild is a branch of the International Bartenders Association which was officially founded during a meeting held at the Grand Hotel, Torquay, England, on February 24th, 1951.
I am proud to be a member of the USBG, we try to bring awareness in all areas of the craft even wines and cigars to our fellow bartenders and people involved in our industry. It’s a camaraderie of individuals that have looked at bartending as more than just pouring something from a bottle.
We have educational and social events that raise awareness about our craft so that we might in turn be better and have more to offer to our wonderful guests.
This is truly a great time to be involved in our world and we look to the future as more and more bars are including the culinary cocktail and offering things that are true and local to their community.
The truth is we lost a lot of our talent in our nation as Prohibition set in. Many were forced to close shop and head overseas. We are now experiencing a “second golden age” of cocktails. It is truly an exciting time as we are seeing so much more art and creativity from the heart! We were so behind from our international counterparts but now we are gaining great steam and progress.
Please feel free to go to usbg.org to find out more and hopefully fall in love (if you haven’t already) with our craft and appreciation to the finer things in life.
A votre sante, Oscar!