Thursday, June 24, 2010

Notes on $8 Cocktails at the Mondrian

So it's Friday night and you want to get drinks? Somewhere pretty, scenic, sexy. Also, let's have those drinks be somewhat inexpensive for South Beach ($8 as opposed to $14) and made by a bartender who takes his spirit-mixing seriously. Throw in cheap valet ($8 as opposed to a whopping $24) and like-priced snacks and you've got the Mondrian's new Friday night deal. I checked out this happy hour a few weeks ago and I walked out buzzed, sun-kissed and smiling.
Here's a rundown of the $8 cocktails, each made by Mondrian head bartender Jess Tommy, one of those types who can chat endlessly about house-made bitters, old school cocktails and the origins of Aperol (a kinder, gentler Campari).

Sunset Manhattan
Grapefruit peel infused Sazerac straight Rye whiskey stirred with sweet vermouth, orange bitters and garnished with a passion fruit laced maraschino cherry.
I wasn't a big fan of this one, a little too strong and whiskey-heavy for hot weather.

Twilight Margarita
Cazadores reposado Tequila mixed with freshly squeezed lime juice, crushed cucumbers, dash of Aperol and a splash of orange liqueur.
This one (pictured at top) was refreshing and not too sweet. A nice bitter citrus bite from the Aperol. If you like tequila, drink this.

Pisco Dusk Sour
Gran Sierpe Peruvian Pisco shaken with fresh crushed blackberries & cardamom pods, hand squeezed lemon juice, a hint of honey and frothy egg white garnished with 3 drops of Jerry Thomas bitters.
A labor-heavy drink (there are probably 11 steps to this one), but so worth it. Mix-man Tommy explained that he does a "dry shake" with the egg white, meaning he shakes it without ice in the shaker so as to emulsify the egg and get the right foamy consistency. After adding in the pisco, blackberries, crushed cardamom pods and everything else, he strains the mixture leaving a smoothie-like drink (akin to a retro daiquiri). The cardamom added a spicy and perfumey complexity.

Sundown Sidecar
Hennessey VSOP Cognac shaken with crushed Lychees, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a touch of ginger liqueur, garnished with a Hawaiian raw sugar rim.

Okay, usually not a fan of the sugared rim, but this drink really impressed me. Mind you, I had consumed sips (or a bit more) of three drinks already. But I took a sip of this and thought, I can drink these all night. I'm a ginger lover and that Domaine De Canton is a nice base for the fresh lychees. It was summery and delicious.

Pegu Club Paradise
Hendricks Gin shaken with freshly squeezed lime juice, orange bitters, crushed strawberries, coconut cream and orange curacao.
All the drinks were great, but this one was Best in Show. The coconut lent a subtle creaminess, the muddled strawberries added tang and sweetness and the whole thing just came together in a balanced, refreshing way. It's a pink drink, sure, but there was something serious and strong about it.
More info here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lobster Cappuccino Revisited

I recently covered Sugarcane's Lobster Cappuccino and Beignets, possibly the finest take on coffee and doughnuts in the city, and today I'm craving this dish so I figured I'd pay tribute again and delve into its preparation. This frothy, soul-warming combo is the love child of a New England seafood shack and a mad carnie's fry stand at a state fair. It is also deceptively simple: a heady mix of lobster bisque topped with cream and served with four lobster fritters.

To make the bisque chef Timon Balloo (pictured) throws lobster shells, plum tomatoes, lobster stock, aromatics like coriander, star anise and Szechuan peppercorn in a roasting pan and then douses the whole mix with a layer of cognac. He then slow cooks the mix for six hours, strains and reduces it and adds chunks of lobster meat to the musky, velvety soup. It all gets topped with heavy cream that's been whipped and frothed with a latte steamer and accompanied by the doughnuts (a simple yeast dough, with the sugar left out and fresh pepper added) stuffed with lobster meat.

It goes for $10 and is only offered as a special, but they should really add this gem to the menu.
Read my Q & A with Timon here.

Yelp! It's What's For Dinner

Yelp Eats Week returns for a second season of wallet-friendly dinners. Like Miami Spice, only cheaper, this deal gets you 3 courses for $25 with some high profile restos on the docket including Cafe Sambal, Cape Cod Room, Por Fin and Fratelli Lyon.
More info and menus here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cheap(er) Cocktails at the Mondrian

There’s no better way to usher in the weekend than by commandeering an oversized bed at the Mondrian’s waterfront lounge, ordering a few strong cocktails and watching the work week cares float away like the pricey yachts in the bay. Making things even sweeter: the new $8 cocktails like the Sundown Sidear (cognac, crushed Lychees, ginger liquor) and the Pegu Club Paradis (gin, lime, crushed strawberries and coconut cream).

Thursday-Fridays, 6-9pm, 1100 West Ave, 305-514-1941.

Urbanize Your Daddy

Go here to register.

Dad's Have Kneads

Of all the Father's Day gimmicks out there this one sounded the best. And you can also consider this research for that spa-cigar lounge you and your dad always talked about. Multi-tasking! The InterContinental’s den of de-kinking is throwing in complimentary scotch and cigars after a 60-minute sports massage. Best of all, you get to do it all in a plush bathrobe.

June 20, $198, 100 Chopin Plaza, 305-577-1000.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pass the Burger & Beer Joint

Brickell's B & B outpost looks close to opening. They're taking over the old Blu Pizza space in the bowels of Mary Brickell Village. Something tells me the Joint's loyal post-frat crowd won't have a problem finding this place.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Lots at Steak

Zagat's posts a list of SoFla steakhouses and leaves out a about half the notable newcomers like Red the Steakhouse, Gotham Steak, Bourbon Steak, Grill on the Alley, Chophouse Miami, Rare and Steak 954. Plus, oldies like Smith and Wollensky and Christy's don't even get a shout-out.
Just sayin.

Fingerlickin' Finger Food @ The Water Club

Stopped by the just-opened Water Club in North Miami Beach. A great casual menu from Talula chefs (and hubby and wife team) Frank Randazzo and Andrea Curto-Randazzo. The one dish I keep thinking about? The crispy fried oysters topped with creme fraiche and yuzu tobiko. The breading - light, greaseless and crunchy. The briny oyster nubbins within were tender and plump. The yuzu tobiko added a burst of citrusy freshness to each bite. Looking forward to many nights drinking beer and dominating plates of these lovelies on the waterfront patio.