MORE

8 Tips on Mixing the Perfect Cocktail from 4 Local Mixologists

Lynne Rossetto Kasper talks cocktails with top local bartenders
Lynne Rossetto Kasper talks cocktails with top local bartenders
Courtesy of Salt Agency

What does the cocktail enthusiast with no bartending experience need to know to make an awesome craft cocktail? Lynne Rossetto Kasper -- the sonorous talk show host of NPR's The Splendid Table asked that question of four of the Valley's top mixologists at the Hotel Palomar last weekend, and she got some terrific answers.

See also: - Tastemaker #30: Travis Nass - Lynne Rossetto Kasper Dishes on a Caller Who Cooked a Turkey in Hot Tar and Being a Reluctant Rock Star

Kasper had come to Phoenix to help NPR (and affiliate station KJZZ) with their fund drive, hosting a cocktail-education event that drew a crowd of mostly older listeners whose interest in craft cocktails is dubious. Truth is, most of them were probably there to see their favorite foodie in the flesh. And Kasper was everything her fans imagined she'd be:

Richie Moe's sassy tequila-based cocktail
Richie Moe's sassy tequila-based cocktail
Courtesy of Salt Agency

By turns charming, erudite, down-to-earth, funny and quick on her feet as she introduced, chatted up and quizzed her four panelists -- Shel Bourdon (Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails), Travis Nass (Last Drop Bar at the Hermosa Inn), Dwayne Allen (The Breadfruit) and Richie Moe (Citizen Public House).

Kasper got the party started by pointing out that the U.S. is undergoing a cocktail revolution unlike anything seen since the late 19th Century and the pre-Prohibition era. Then she explained that each panelist had created a cocktail around his/her favorite spirit: bourbon for Bourdon, gin for Nass, rum for Allen and tequila for Moe. The panelists spoke about the ingredients they used and the thought process behind their cocktails, which attendees could sample from small plastic cups. Kasper sipped them on stage, making complimentary remarks about each one: Nass's take on the classic gimlet, for example was "transcendental," and she could "taste the nuances" in Bourdon's modern-day whiskey sour. Lots of cocktail territory was covered, some of it basic, some of it geeky in the extreme.

Then Kasper asked each mixologist to give two pieces of advice to novice cocktail-makers, and here's what they said:

 

Shel Bourdon:

1) Use all natural sweeteners (agave nectar, honey, raw sugars, maple syrup -- which not only sweeten but also add complexity to the cocktail) 2) Start with great product (meaning, use quality spirits because, just as with food, the better the ingredients, the better the end result)

Travis Nass:

3) Strive for balance (not too sweet, not too sour, not too bitter, not too strong, not too weak) 4) Strive for the proper dilution (meaning, use great ice, which won't melt in and dilute the drink)

Kasper asked, "What is great ice?" and Nass replied, "Great ice is hard ice; cracked ice gives more dilution."

Dwayne Allen:

5) Have fun with it (meaning, don't be afraid to experiment; there's no right or wrong) 6) Start with a good spirit but also use ingredients that you enjoy and that "speak to you" (meaning, nothing is off limits)

Richie Moe:

7) Engage in outside-the-box thinking (meaning, you can do anything, including using ingredients you've cooked) 8) Pick out the nuances of the spirit you're using (meaning, is the tequila you're using earthy? Is the gin citrus-y or herbaceous? What would go well with these flavor profiles?)

Moe, who's never afraid to talk, also suggests that people learn the basics of making cocktails -- how to shake them, for instance -- by investing in a good cocktail book.

"Booze is interesting; booze is fun," he says, a point that was deliciously proved in four vastly different, immensely inventive cocktails that evening.


Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Hotel Palomar

2 E. Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-253-6633

www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com

miles
Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

2 E. Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-258-0231

www.bluehoundkitchen.com

miles
Hermosa Inn

5532 N. Palo Christi Road
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

602-955-8614

www.hermosainn.com

miles
The Breadfruit

108 E. Pierce St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-267-1266

www.thebreadfruit.com

miles
Citizen Public House

7111 E. 5th Ave. Ste. E.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-398-4208

www.citizenpublichouse.com


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >