Saturday, July 24, 2010

For (Indonesian) Fashion's Sake


I'm in Indonesia again, people. I was just mixing up a few drinks the other night at Blü Martini for a fashion show featuring the work of local designer Kleting Titis Wigati. Yeah, I know her name's a mouthful, but besides designing cool clothes, she has over a few thousand followers on Twitter, which is a few thousand more than you have, so stop snickering. They wanted something unique, a bit different—and so I gave it to them.

Here's one of them. I call it BB-Me and it's a twist on a madras—made with vodka, cranberry and orange marmalade mixed with crushed ice, specked with cranberry gelée, and finished with a carbon dioxide rosemary fog.

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I'm off to Viet Nam next, but wherever you happen to be sipping, do it slowly. Enjoy.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Drunk Tweeting

The Dos and Don'ts of Tweeting Drunk

You had to do it, didn't you? You were drunk and couldn't wait for the morning, fearing the thought and the nerve would escape you by then.  You opened up your Twitter client on your iPhone after one too many or you popped open your laptop after stumbling home and spilled out what felt like pure genius―misspellings and all―sharing your life-changing proclamations with the world.  Then, of course, the next day you realized how stupid you actually were to divulge so much to your precious list of followers.

See, this Twitter thing is great; it's a cultural game-changer, one of the fastest growing networks of the history of our race.  But this stuff ain't no MSN to your BFF or Yahoo! Chat to your ex.  We're not talking BB Messenging your boss or a simple cellphone text to your mom.  These can all put you in a bad position if done while intoxicated, but to tweet under the influence can end up like a straight-up middle finger to basically everyone.  You're posting your Hello World to the universe, and very likely it will come out as "Wello Horld".

To help prevent you from making a big social networking boo-boo, I've put together the definite guideline for drunk tweeting. (Okay, it’s more like a top ten list).  Some might say you shouldn't tweet while drunk at all; I say go right ahead. Just play by these rules.

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1.  No emotionally-charged tweets while drunk.  It's bad enough hearing about your broken heart or your lust for the President during working hours.  Don't pollute my Twitter feed with sappy sentiments while drooling on your Stoli-O cosmo.

2.  Yes, please tell us where you're partying, who you're with, and which celebrities you think you've seen.  But make sure you ration it out. We don't need to know every 5 minutes.  Sure, maybe your nightlife is way cooler than mine, but there's a fine line between sharing it with the world and blatantly rubbing it in (or just being a big-headed ass).

3.  Some of my friends tend to forget what they've just said when they're drinking. So they end up telling me the same sentence 3 or 4 times.  I've seen this happen with tweets.  Before sending out that mind-blowing Twitter comment, be sure it's the first time you'll be doing so.  Sometimes just once is too many; twice is certainly way overdoing it.

4.  Watch your mouth, man!  If you normally don't put nasty words in your tweets, don't use drunkenness as an excuse.  You should use your same voice as always. Your followers don't want you to be one person in the day and another at night (unless that's your schtick, but I highly doubt it).

5.  Tattle-tailing is for kindergarten. If you're old enough to be on Twitter and certainly if you've got a few drink in you, hopefully you've moved on from that.  Don't throw your buddy under the bus by tweeting that he just bought a drink for some chick at the bar, when his fiancé's best friend is your follower.  Keep your Twitter thoughts simple and clearly inoffensive, or the next time you'll be drunk-tweeting about why you think none of your friends will hang out with you.

6.  Tell us funny, happy, and exciting things.  Keep a positive attitude while tweeting and your comments might actually be worth reading.  But if your mood is down, stay away from your Twitter client.  Drunk-tweets can sometimes be hilarious, clever, or interestingly weird, but if you're a depressed drunk they'll likely be none of that and can be the direct cause of dropped followers.

7.  Okay, what the hell am I supposed to be seeing here?  Make sure if you're uploading party pics to Twitpic or some other Twitter photo site that they're worth looking at.  And also that they're not too worth looking at.  Or maybe having a picture of you dancing on the bar with your pants down posted all over the Internet is a major goal of yours.

8. Hey, save it. If what you need to say is not time dependent, take a note of it and tweet it later if it proves itself worthy. Go ahead and tell us what you’re up to, whose name to use at the door, and all the other right-now need-to-knows, but when it comes to your thoughts about what happened last week or your screenplay idea, jot it down. Twitter is a mass messaging tool, not a notebook.

9. Put the damn phone in your pocket and hang out with your friends already!  I know you need to be constantly connected, but don't forget there's a real world outside social networking that is actually a hell of a lot more fun.  Spend some time with some living, breathing humans in the flesh for once.  And if you're sending out a tweet from your laptop at home with a nearly empty bottle of Jack in your hand, well for-crying-out-loud get out once in a while, will you?  (Just wait until you've slept it off this one time.)

10.  And for-god's-sake, tell us what you're drinking. If you're going to put us through your drunk ramblings via Tweetie, you might as well let us know how you got in such a sorry place to begin with.  Hopefully it's something half-way decent.

Yeah, I know. Some of these are common sense and basically go without saying. But you're drunk, aren't you? Common sense has gone out the window a few hours ago. Look, drunk-tweeting can be a mess.  But hopefully now you can limit your clean-up.  I can't guarantee your safety when tweeting during a late-night out, but follow these guidelines and you should be in better shape than if you didn't.  Now get out there and enjoy a good cocktail.

Enjoyed my post?  I'd appreciate if you tweeted it―whether you've been drinking or not.  And BTW, follow me on Twitter at @sipSLOWLY to make sure I heed my own advice.


[Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam]

Monday, February 15, 2010


What's in a list?

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Well, for me, quite a lot actually. If it's one of the cocktail lists I regularly put together for my myriad of international clients, it's full of creativity, originality, variety, appealing flavor combinations, unique concepts, and, hopefully, attention getting names and descriptions. My cocktails are undoubtedly a part of me. And I want every single person that tries one of my creations to feel that. If you think about it, that's a pretty tall order.

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And that translates into training. Because what's the point if the guy behind the bar making your cocktail doesn't put any love into it? What's the point if the girl shaking the shaker does it half-heartedly? There's no point at all if it doesn't get delivered properly.

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I just put together one of said lists for arguably the coolest spot under a year old in the city of Jakarta, Indonesia. The place is called Immigrant and I just finished creating for them six incredibly innovative tipples--and that's not just by Javanese standards; I would confidently be able to introduce this selection to an imbibely distinguished Manhattan crowd.

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I utilized a bunch of common local ingredients that people have likely never used in a similar way: an Indonesian leaf called pohpohan, basil seeds, grilled watermelon, and fresh aloe leaf. I also used some common ingredients that are quite uncommon behind the bar: green bell pepper, dates, lollipops, and a few types of candies. Then, I gave them unorthodox names such as: "Widowed Rich Bitch", "Whoah-Whoah-Whoah", "God Gave You Style and Grace", and "Take A Chance On Me". And of course I made sure that the balance of flavors was spot on and that the bartenders had a complete handle on all aspects of each drink.

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And did I mention that the group of bartenders over at Immigrant are an exceptional bunch?

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I've been getting a lot of questions from people I meet lately that go something like this: "So what exactly is it that you do?" Well, this is it. (The short description, that is.)

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Like I said, it's a short list. So sip slowly. Enjoy.


Jakarta, West Java, Indonesia

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Drink Me

Smack it up, flip it, rub it down. Eat Me.

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If you're in Bangkok and are anything other than a backpacking, flip-flopping tourist frequenting Khaosan Road slurping buckets of brain-freeze blue kamikazeee with an occasional tuk-tuk trip to get your soapy massage or tiger show fix, then you're likely to have at least heard of the restaurant called Eat Me. If you haven't, it isn't one of Bangkok's alleged red light establishments as the name may tend to suggest, but rather one of the city's finer eateries.

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Darren, the Australian owner, opened up the place somewhere around a decade ago, from whence he has built up and improved the design and decor one bit at a time, and continues to do so. He says the menu is something like Australian cuisine with a mix of modern Asian. Much thanks to his sister Cherie, who makes her way to Bangkok every now and again to spend her days in the kitchen perfecting the menu, the food really kicks ass. Look; I definitely love to eat, but that's not why I'm here, is it? For me, it's about the drinks.

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The cocktail menu is so kindly arranged in columns with illustrations so even an illiterate can understand what glass his drink will be served in. This is important; I've seen many a champagne-sipping Palm Beach boy unknowingly stuck napkin-swathing a rocks glass tipple or a high-powered martini drinker being pressured to suck a cocktail through a straw from a highball, both situations having the potential to end up rather messy. The selection—although I haven't yet tried them all—is made with a nice variety of (sometimes locally hard-to-get) spirits and fresh ingredients, which is likely to disappoint you if you've become a fan of the subpar drinks they tend to serve in most places around the city. If you get there when it's not a busy time, you may be lucky enough to get your drink mixed by Adit.

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Adit is the senior bartender and waiter, tending bar and waiting tables much like an aspiring actor in L.A.—his energy always high, his sense of humor always on, and his knowledge of the menu always studied. Aside from this, he's an excellent barman, utilizing both Western and Japanese techniques, and really putting in the love that each libation truly deserves, clearly translating into an overtly better drinking experience. Some of the cocktails he's made for me are the Siam Daiquiri, Fig & Ginger Martini, and the exceptional Bitter & Twisted.

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"Let me make you one of my favorites," he said to me. I was a bit flattered when he slid a chilled martini glass filled with one of my creations in front of me. It was over two years ago that I hopped behind the bar with Adit to show him how to make a Blueberry Joe, one of my New York signatures (recipe here), and still he surprised me with one by recreating it just about spot on.

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In Bangkok? Fancy something better than the Bangkok norm? Make a reservation at Eat Me and say hi to Darren and Adit (and Cherie, if she's there) for me. Have a nice meal, drink a nice cocktail, and, as always, sip slowly.


Bangkok, Thailand

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Birthday Night Out in Hong Kong


So let's say it's your birthday. And let's say you end up in Hong Kong. (Quite unexpectedly, as a matter of fact. But that's a-whole-nother unlikely but true story.) And where, may I ask, do you end up?

Well, of course that probably depends on when your birthday is and what you want to do, right?

Let's make it a Saturday. And let's put cocktails somewhere in the mix; maybe not the main priority, but just simply a topic of interest. Obviously, my fellow Hong Kong lovers and those ignorant to the city alike, there are at least a handful of possible venues to end up.

For me, I wasn't sure as I headed out. So I took with me one simple question:

What is a cocktail to you, dear Hong Kong?

I got my answer—in the form of some drinks—from three bar guys in this cosmopolitan Chinese city.

Antonio, mixologist and bar manager at FINDS, seems to think they’re exotic and unusual—as well as often incredibly creative—molecular creations.

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Andreu, manager of the Soho area bar Peel, nicely mixes up mostly contemporary versions of classics, using herbs and spices and angelic touches.

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Enrico, area manager of Bourbon and the Igor's Group of other venues, makes it simple: Knob Creek with a few rocks.

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Okay, so what do I, being responsible for a few of Hong Kong's venues' cocktail selections—including that of the much admired and quite phenomenal SEVVA—think? A cocktail, to me, should be a culinary adventure that combines tastes—some strongly associated with memories and some introduced in a new way—in a liquid form, or somewhat liquid form, that, when drunken to enjoy, elicits a new experience and perpetuates good conversation and insightful thoughts and encourages old friendships and new.

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But seriously, folks. Whatever your idea of a good cocktail may be, just keep one simple age-old adage in mind: Sip slowly to truly enjoy. (Wait, I think I came up with that one myself. Oh well, feel free to use it when needed. Referencing me, of course.)

Be good.


[Hong Kong]

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mixologists Only

Yeah, I know. I should have been there already. I’m a bit ashamed I didn’t already go. I suppose I can use the excuse that I’ve been traveling around the eastern half of the earth since their opening, but somehow it doesn’t seem to justify my lack of a visit. It really is one of those places that anyone referred to as a mixologist or a cocktailian should drop by, if not frequent.

It's a movie-set outside the place, strangely still and quiet and arranged by a set designer. An unmarked door to an unmarked building surrounded by signs written in Chinese on a short and stubby crooked road in Chinatown will get you into a place called Apotheke. (You know how to Google; look it up.)

It’s very dark and bass-y. It’s Motown Monday so I feel like I’m a bit in the seventies, but even without soul being emitted from the speakers, the design seems a bit of a flashback. It’s simple and glamorous all at the same time. Comfortable—albeit scarce—furniture, deco lighting, and a bit over-repeated chemistry elements everywhere. Running the length of the far wall, the bar is clearly the headliner (as it should be).

And this part I’m sure you’ve heard.

There are no bartenders, only mixologists. And they are dressed in long, white lab coats, intently mixing their self-created pleasures for the visitors. Bottles full of all colors and textures surround each of them. Things like eyedroppers and beakers are mixed in with their Boston shakers and Hawthorn strainers. And I see them doing something beautiful that I seldom see behind a bar these days: concentrate. Everything is measured and exacted; things are slowed down here. If a drink takes a while to make, you wait. And despite being New Yorkers, the crowd unusually doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, people lean in at the bar, absent of any stools, and talk to each other while watching the scientists at work. “All cities in Connecticut are shit holes,” I hear the guy next to me telling his group of LES friends as I read a few of the bottles on the top shelf of the back bar that are mixed in with infusions and ostrich eggs. “TINCT. FOENICUL”, “MEL BORAXAT.”, and “AETHER ACETIC”. Yeah, a bit tacky. But they seem to like it.

Nick is a mixologist that has been here since the opening. He’s the tall, friendly one. He seems eager to tickle the palate of curious bar-goers. “What flavors do you like?” he asks me. “Which spirit?” He methodically puts together a Cilantro Paso, one of his creations on the menu. It’s a combination of cilantro infused gin, Lillet Blanc, agave nectar, lemon, and muddled cucumber, served chilled in a martini glass with one ice cube. Many of the chilled cocktails, I notice, are served with one ice cube. It’s a great drink, but he doesn’t stop there.

His next one is not on the menu and doesn’t have a name. It’s nicely mezcal based, made with lavender, a habanero infused cachaça and vodka mixture, smoke, and citrus. Very tasty, indeed.

Yuval is a visiting mixologist from Los Angeles. The label on his lab coat says Dispensing Chemist and he seriously looks like a bearded lab worker, intensely pothering over his infused brews. He gives me a mixture of vodka, elderflower, jasmine, lime, and orange zest that is completely sublime. He also shares with me a specialty of his, Gin and Tonic from the Garden, which is a GnT with fresh pieces of tomato, cucumber, and basil and kissed with salt.

If these guys are chemists, then the uncle mad scientist is definitely Albert Trummer, who owns the place. He’s a mixologist as well, but isn't often seen mixing up a drink these days. Fortunately for me, I get to try a taste of his incredible signature version of a bourbon sour that is shockingly smooth and soft on the palate.

So, quite unexpectedly in fact, I ended up at Apotheke tonight, where care is made and dispensed in a glass, and I find myself tasting tinctures from some talented mixers. I know, I know. But somebody’s got to do it.

Sip it. Slowly.

Thanks for reading. I'll try to have some pictures for you next time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

North Korea's At It Again


It's a bit hard for me to believe he did it again. Bastard.

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Now as President Obama, the European Union, and the United Nations thinks about what to do, what are we, the citizens of the world, to do about this evil power sneaking its way via detonated warheads into our collective consciousness? Well, it may be a surprise to you—or it may not be—that I've come up with a cocktail to keep us busy. And its intent is to somehow counteract the iniquitous control of the North Korean leader (just don't ask me exactly how it's to do that).

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I call it Lights Out, Kim Jong-Il and you can make up your own mind about how to exactly interpret that. I know there's not much available in North Korea as far as fresh and good ingredients go (in fact, I don't think there's much available of anything outside what the government has access to), so I've included some good and tasty ingredients that I've found readily available in their friendly neighbor to the south. For the cocktail I made, I used some fresh ginseng I bought a short while ago in Busan and had kept in the freezer of my Bangkok apartment. If you can't make it any time soon to that coastal gambling destination in South Korea, you can pick up some dried ginseng from your local Asian market or Korea Town. (Here are some of the shots I took during my trip to Busan.) The alcohol base is soju, which is a Korean spirit made from rice and/or sweet potato and/or other carbohydrates and—rapidly gaining popularity—is pretty much readily available worldwide these days. It is a nice colorless spirit with a distinctive and light flavor and can greatly vary in alcohol content. For this drink, you should use something a bit stronger than 25%; 40% is ideal. And finally, there's a touch of grenadine in this drink, but it's nothing like the Rose's grenadine most American bars are stocked with. You should use a real pomegranate syrup. Here, I'm recommending a product called Authentic Grenadine by Stirrings. It's a full 30% juice and without all the artificial colors and flavors that most "grenadines" are loaded with, so it only adds a slight touch of color to the cocktail, so don't expect fire engine red to be poured out into your glass.

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Okay, then. Here's how to make one of these detonatable drinks yourself:


Infuse as much soju as you want with ginseng by adding about one fistful of ginseng to one bottle of soju. Allow to sit at room temperature for one week. Do not discard the ginseng.

1½ oz ginseng infused soju
½ oz orange liqueur
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ oz Stirrings Authentic Grenadine

Fill your favorite stemmed glass with ice and allow to chill while mixing the drink. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Then fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Twist out the ice from your chilled stemmed glass. Strain through a fine strainer (double strainer) into the glass. Garnish with a ginseng root. Enjoy while watching Anderson Cooper.

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Take a sip of the world, but do it slowly.


[Bangkok, Thailand]

About this blog:

This weblog is intended for responsible legal drinkers of legal drinking age and older.   It's about cocktails.  It's about spirits. It's about mixing things up, pouring them into a martini glass or over the rocks, and taking a sip.  Sipping slowly.  If you're under the drinking age of your locale or simply not interested in consuming alcohol, please take a look at my non-alcoholic blog: sip.  In the meantime, please be rational when it comes to drinking.  It's simple, really.  Just sip slowly.