Thursday, December 29, 2011

French 75 is a great way to ring in the New Year!

New years is just a few days away and many are wondering what types of drinks to serve.  Besides the usual glass of plain champagne why not put a new twist on it by serving the French 75 that will leave your guests craving for more.

The cocktail was named after the French 75 millimeter field gun of 1897 which became the main heavy artillery of world war I.  This recipe is  the more memorable of two different drinks using the same name and will be a hit at your New years eve party.

God bless and Cheers,

John Apodaca 

 French 75

2 oz of Gin 
1 oz of fresh lemon juice
2 tsp of powdered sugar

Shake all ingredients except the champagne in a cocktail shaker with ice and pour into a flute glass top with champagne and and stir gently. Garnish with a thin spiral of lemon peel.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Punches anyone?

Throughout the 1600's up until the end of the end of the nineteenth century punches were served at parties and taverns throughout Europe and the Americas.  Punches were usually made up with a few base spirits such as rum, whiskey or brandy along with other local ingredients for flavor.  A lot of times the quality of the spirits varied from either poor to very good so make the drink more palatable, various fruits or herbs were added that were in season. Punches had fallen out of favor with the rise of cocktails and by the twentieth had became a thing of the past.

Punches are back in fashion and are a great communal drink for friends, family, customers and are relatively easy to put together with just a few base spirits along fruits and can be served either hot or cold. A few punches that I enjoy are a French 75 punch, Cinnamon warmer and Fish house Punch and the later dates back to 1732 from the province of Schuylkill, which is now Pennsylvania.

During the reminder of this year and throughout 2012 I recommend reading the book Punches by David Wondrich. It gives you a helping hand with ideas for creating a drink for your guests and takes the work out of bartending and more time for socializing with your company.

God Bless and Cheers,

John Apodaca

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to have a successful Retro Cocktail Party

During the holidays most of us will undoubtedly be attending a party or two maybe even three. For Labor Day this year I had hosted a Mad Men cocktail party with food, drink, music and dress from 1960. It was a hit for everyone who attended and one of the highlights was a woman who came dressed as pregnant housewife, with a cigarette holder and a cocktail in her hand! Regardless of  what era or style you choose, themed parties always have a better feel, for not only the person hosting it but also the guests.

The first thing to start out with is a menu of light H'ors doeurves and cocktails that will not stress you out to prepare. Some suggestions are deviled eggs, turkey or chicken empanadas, Swedish or Italian meatballs with dipping sauces, bowls of nuts, sliced cheeses and don't forget desserts such as Harvey Wallbanger cake or your favorite cookies.

Next is the cocktail menu, this is not hard and I have an extensive list of drinks from my website to use.  One traditional Christmas drink would be a Tom and Jerry that's made with egg whites, sugar and the yolks a shot of rum and brandy topped off with hot water. This is an easy drink to make and since it's like a punch it can be served with a ladle in small punch cups.  Another drink that will add to the Christmas aroma is the Cinnamon Warmer  which is made with fresh pressed apple cider, calvados, apple brandy or Apple Jack, fresh lemon juice, fresh ginger, honey, cloves and one cinnamon stick, and sits on large pot on the stove under a low flame.  One more favorite that will be a hit is a Brandy Alexander with brandy, brown creme de cacao, heavy cream and fresh grated nutmeg and it's like dessert.

Now for the music, you can use some free resources such as Pandora and create your own artists but it tends to start moving in different directions at times.  Napster is a great and you can make your own play lists unless you already have an mp3 player with you own play lists. Some music suggestions would be the Rat Pack Christmas, Ultra Lounge Christmas, Mistletoe's and Martinis.

Now the final thing, the clothing guide!  Don't make it mandatory but the more guests that participate in dressing up in period style, will create a fun atmosphere. If for instance, the era you are going for is the 1950s there's a lot of clothing and style guides such as Everyday Fashions of the 1950s  that are from old Sears and Roebucks catalogs.  Another place to look for that swanky retro cocktail party look is Banana Republic which launched the Mad Men collection back in August 2011. The last place to check is you're local thrift or vintage stores and depending on the area and condition of the clothes can vary in price.

I hope these suggestions help make you're holiday parties a success and a real treat for everyone. May you have a blessed Christmas and Hanukkah.

God bless and Cheers,

John Apodaca

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cold Whiskey Punch a new American tradition

When I was growing up, when someone would mention punch, the first thing that came to mind was the Hawaiian punch concentrate with water and ice that my mother would serve at a party.  This is far cry from the punches of the nineteenth century that were all the rage at any party or bar of choice. Once again it is back in fashion and popular at several drinking establishments.  

One such of these delicious libations is the cold whiskey punch and was called an iced monongahela punch by a journalist of the Brooklyn Eagle informed his readers in the New Orleans in 1852. The ingredients when mixed together sounds so scrumptious, even the most finicky of drinkers may ask for a second drink.

Cold Whiskey Punch

One teaspoon of powdered white sugar
Juice of half a lemon or lime
3 oz of Rye Whiskey such as Rittenhouse
Two dashes of Jamaican Rum
One glass of shaved ice

Shake all ingredients together and pour into a stem punch glass with ice, garnish with two slices of lemon or other seasonal fruit and serve with a straw.

God bless and Cheers,

John Apodaca

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oldfield's Liquor Room

Being part of an association of craft cocktail bartenders in Los Angeles called the Sporting Life, I have the opportunity to attend openings of new bars and tastings of spirits sponsored by various liquor companies.  

Recently I went to the opening of Oldfields Liquor Room in West Los Angeles next to Culver City and they know what they are doing when it comes to cocktails and appetizers.  Me and two other friends tried several of their cocktails they had on the menu and such as the Duantless and my favorite the Oakshade.  

I had a chance to sit down and speak with the manager Jared Mort who hand picked the bartenders that have excellent skill in crafting cocktails to your liking as and are not afraid to try new recipes out on their audience of thirsty pallets. Jared mentioned that they have their own herb garden and use only fresh ingredients and most of the staff arrive a few hours early to prepare for the evening by squeezing fresh fruit juices and infusing some of the spirits for the nights drinks.  

When you arrive you will see how the staff overhauled the former sinner and saints by installing a beautiful wood bar along with the pedestal style stools around it and the vintage style hexagon flooring and retro light fixtures that catch my eye. Other things I appreciate about it is there's no big screen TVs so one can actually socialize with friends or the friendly cocktail artisans.  If you're starting to plan for you weekend, take a drive and visit Oldfields Liquor Room at 10899 Venice Blvd Los Angeles, CA, tell them I recommended it.  

Cheers & God bless,

John Apodaca 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Using Eggs in Cocktails

Being involved in the craft cocktail movement and knowing a few things about mixology there's been some question about the use of eggs or egg whites in cocktails from the last few centuries as well as present day drinks.

Eggs have been an integral ingredient in cocktails for at least the last two hundred years.  They add a silky frothiness, and body that a cocktail wouldn’t have otherwise.  The reason the egg was removed from many cocktails in the last few decades was from some bad publicity.  At some point in time it was stated that “eating raw eggs could lead to serious illness from salmonella.”

The FDA states that only 1 in 20,000 eggs has the salmonella bacteria. Nowhere does the National Safety Council's data state that raw eggs are a common risk; however, death from choking on food is rated at 1 in 5000 odds.  The odds of getting salmonella from an egg are extremely remote and you have a better chance of dying from accidental drowning (1 in 1,000), a storm related accident (1 in 3,000) or slipping (1 in 6,500).

Some drinks that include egg or egg whites are the following:  The Los Angeles cocktail, Tom and Jerry, whiskey sour, pisco sour and my own Angels Flight.  Try a few of these and you'll be a hit at your upcoming parties for the holidays.

Cheers & God bless,

John Apodaca 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Cocktails and Savory Appetizers

Daddy-O's Martinis in conjunction with Culinary Enterprises is hosting an upcoming vintage cocktails and savory appetizers workshop in Signal Hill, CA Friday November 11th.  The class runs from 7:00 - 9:00 PM and the cost is $40.00 per person. 

You will be able to sample everything that's made as well as participate in the process.  You will receive menus with all the cocktail and appetizer recipes for you to use at your upcoming Thanksgiving celebrations. 

Please sign up ahead of time in order for us to prepare the quantities of food and drinks.  You can register at or call Monica Morgan at 562-243-3099.  Culinary Enterprises is located at 937 E. 27th street in Signal Hill, CA 90755. I look forward to seeing you there. 

God bless and cheers,

John Apodaca  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Three Dots and a Dash ...-V

Now that Summer is upon us, many are contemplating having or will be attending backyard parties and barbecues. Food is one thing to think about but knowing what cocktails that could work well are aren't to difficult to make is the question!

One of my favorite Tiki cocktails that makes my mouth jump for joy is Three Dots and a Dash ...-V.  It' was created by Don Beach of Don the Beachcombers during world war II and is Morse code for "Victory".  I've had this drink several times at CaƱa rum bar in Downtown Los Angeles or at home sweet home and the problem with this tasty concoction is that you'll want another because it's so well balanced with flavor. Give it a try and one word of advise don't skimp on the ingredients, quality is always best.    

John Apodaca

Three Dots and a Dash (...-V)

1/2 oz of fresh lime juice
1/2 oz of fresh orange juice
1/2 oz of honey mix (see below)
1 1/2 oz of amber Martinique rum
1/2 oz of Demerara rum
Dash of Angostura bitters
1/4 oz falernum (fee brothers)
1/4 oz pimento liqueur (allspice dram)
6 oz of crushed ice.
Pineapple slice cut rectangular and marasca cherries for garnish.

Place all ingredients in a large cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds and serve in a Collins glass with crushed ice and a straw. Garnish with a piece of pineapple cut rectangular and three marasca cherries.