Max Group Does 3rd Annual Negroni Week

CooperCocktailNegroni-7LowResCOCKTAIL CHIC:
Negroni Week Makes a Splash at The Max Restaurant Group

For thirsty cocktail lovers, there’s nothing that wets the whistle faster than a swanky, palate-pleasing drink, especially when paired with a delicious cause.

As part of the third annual Negroni Week, June 1-7, All Max Restaurant Group locations in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, as well as The Cooper in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, will be serving up lip-smacking variations in honor of the world’s greatest sip. A portion of the drink proceeds will be donated to the Ct Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, and the Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Juno Beach, FL. “As far as perfect cocktails go,” says Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director for the Max Restaurant Group, “a great Negroni is the perfect drink to have when you can’t decide what to have – it hits all the senses with a balance of bitter-sweet, floral and fruity flavors…there is a reason why it’s been a classic for nearly 100 years.”

A creative riff on a traditional Americano (a blend of Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda), the Negroni was born in 1919 when the adventurous Italian Count Camillo Negroni wanted to shake things up at a local Florentine bar. Instead of soda, he ordered gin be added to his favorite apéritif. After one sip, the count was hooked. The rest, according to bar lore, is history. We’ll drink to that.

About Negroni Week
Presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari, Negroni Week launched in 2013 as a celebration of one of the world’s great cocktails, and an effort to raise money for charitable causes around the globe. From 2013 to 2014, Negroni Week grew from 100 to more than 1,300 participating bars around the world, and raised more than $120,000 for charities.

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The Cooper Is THE Place for Barreled Negroni

The Cooper in Palm Beach Gardens has been noted for a classic drink recipe variation:  The Negroni, made just about everywhere, but is not always made properly.

One of the most sublime drinks in our repertoire, the barreled Negroni takes things to the next level by allowing the ingredients to meld and mellow, as well as picking up hints of oak from the barrel contact.

Great stuff, and we appreciate Palm Beach Illustrated for taking notice.

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Chef Morton’s Seven Layer Bars

10368212_10152907683368516_1124753849944240000_nThe perfect holiday treat to make at home with the kids! Simple, easy, and delicious!

Seven Layer Bars

1/4 lb Butter
1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
1 cup Coconut, shredded
6 oz. Chocolate chips
6 oz. Butterscotch chips
1 cup Walnuts, chopped
1 can Condensed milkMelt butter in 9 x13 pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over butter evenly. Continue with each ingredient, layering on top of each other. Using the whole can of milk to completely coat the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Cut. Enjoy!Makes 24 pieces.

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hallow’s Eve Garbage Can Cookies

DSC02766Chef Hunter Morton and his son Carter join the WFSB Channel 3 morning news team to talk Halloween Goodies and make:

Hallows Eve Garbage Can Cookies
2 sticks of butter, soft
1 cup sugar
2/3 packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp agave nectar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup oats
1 Tbsp ground coffee
2 cups potato chips
1 cup mini pretzels
Cream butter, sugars and agave nectar in mixer with paddle
attachment (or beat together with handheld beater) until fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla. Then add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then add everything else, making sure the potato chips and pretzels are last to prevent them from breaking too much. Chill the dough for an hour then drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes (all ovens vary). Enjoy!

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Forager Cocktail #1 – Rosedale Flower

By Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

Rosedale FarmsLast night we had the pleasure of kicking off our new season for the Max Chef to Farm Series, now in its 7th season.  This dinner series is a popular series where we take the Max experience out to local farms and present meals based on the ingredients available at that point in the season and what we can source locally.

This series has become so popular that we routinely sell out each event, and often have a wait list.  Chef Scott Miller along with a number of the other Max Chefs creates thoughtful, delicious meals with locally sourced farm produce as well as locally sourced meats, cheeses and seafood.  For my part, I get to start the evening off with a welcome cocktail when guests arrive, and in line with the locally sourced ingredients I try to find not only local produce or other ingredients to make this cocktail.  I also like to find local, or at least hand-crafted / artisanly produced, spirits for the base of these drinks.

For the summer of 2014, I have decided to theme my drinks under the umbrella name/concept of Forager Cocktails, and will be producing a series of these drinks for each C2F dinners through the season, each making best use of local ingredients available at that point in the season.

I had so many requests last night for my recipe that I am posting here for any to see and use.  Please feel free to contact me if you need assistance or have questions on how to recreate this cocktail or any others in the series.

Rosedale StrawberriesFor the Forager Cocktail #1, I made a drink based on a slightly obscure, but well thought out drink called the Artemis Flower.  This drink combines fresh ingredients that fit perfectly with what is available in early summer –  berries.  For my part, I called this drink the Rosedale Flower, as we were serving the dinner at Rosedale Farms in Simsbury, Ct, and the main ingredient here were the strawberries picked fresh that morning.

I used the berries with some Bourbon, fresh lime juice, house made “sambuca”, and a thyme syrup that I made in the morning.  The “sambuca” actually makes use of a few other locally sourced items for a great flavor twist that is hard to replicate.  I use Rime Vodka, which is made by Westford Hill Distillers in Ashford, Ct as the base, to which I infused about a dozen (per 750ml of vodka) fennel blossom heads into slowly for about 3-4 hours.  This process allows me to pull the flavor out of the fennel, but not the harsh green components that would detract from the lovely licorice flavors.  I added some sugar to balance and the result is very similar to a Sambuca.

My Bourbon of choice for the night is a small production bourbon called Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon, from Kentucky.  This is an 88 proof whiskey that is actually aged about 8 years for mellowing.  I like the power this bottling has, along with the deep bourbon flavor, and the extra touch of proof did not hurt at all.  In fact, the tempering of alcohol by the sweetness from the fresh thyme syrup was perfect.  Very simple to make, I used a big fist of thyme sprigs and added them while the water was still cool and then let it steep as it came up in temperature.  Once I could smell the thyme strongly, I pulled it off the heat just before boiling.  I let it sit for a few minutes and then strained out the leaves and stems.  While still hot, I mixed in equal parts (by volume) of granulated sugar to make my syrup.  Very flavorful and delicious – adding a great extra flavor element to this drink.

anyone can make this drink at home, and if you are willing to go a little extra for the local and the home-made ingredients, then you will have an even more special experience – something we try to achieve out on the farm.

Forager #1 Rosedale FlowerForager Cocktail # 1 – The Rosedale Flower
In a mason jar –
Add 3-4 fresh picked strawberries – lightly crushed, but not pulverized
Then combine in jar
2oz Corner Creek Bourbon
½ oz House-made fennel-buca (you can use regular Sambuca like Meletti)
¾ oz Thyme Syrup
½ fresh lime juice
Let sit for a few minutes to absorb the strawberry juice
Fill with ice, add splash of Club Soda and serve with Thyme sprig for garnish

 

 

 

Troy & Sons Whiskey Dinner @ Max Fish Monday 2/24

Max Fish in conjunction with Manchester Wine & Liquor presents the next installment of our fabulous cocktail dinner series with Special Guest Eddie Varsalona CSS, CSW, Spirits Specialist for Troy & Sons Whiskies from Ashville Distilling Company, located in Ashville North Carolina.

Ashville Distilling and Troy & Sons Whiskey are some of the newest and most modern approaches to whiskey in the United States, but their heritage goes back generations. Using an almost lost strain of corn, the Crooked Creek Corn™, grown in the hills around Ashville for decades, as well as the collected recipes and shared stories of moonshiners and whiskey makers of North Carolina provide the inspiration and the stylistic approach of owner, Troy Ball, and her Husband Charlie.  You can read all about them and their story on the company website (click here for the link).

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For this dinner, Dave Bouchard (our head drinks guy at Max Fish) has paired a fabulous selection of contemporary cocktails (including a unique Barreled cocktail that is already aging in one of our Troy casks) to a menu prepared by Max Fish Chef Robert Peterson.  A great combination of styles and flavors, we think you will find this to be an intriguing selection and a fun filled evening.

The menu –

Reception:
Cocktail: Ashville Spiked Tea
Grilled Oysters, whiskey apple bbq glaze Yam & Bacon Fritters, chile-maple aioli

Seated Dinner:
Troy_and_sons_blondeCourse 1 –
Cocktail: Old Fashioned Blonde
Paired with: Duck Meatloaf, Parsnip Puree, Tart Cherry Jus, Crispy Onions

Course 2 –
Cocktail: Saddlebags
Paired with: Slow Roasted Monkfish, jalapeno cheese grits, butternut squash, leeks, sherry-lobster nage

Course 3 –
Cocktail: Barrel Aged
Paired with: Horseradish Crusted Pork Loin, creamy mustard hominy, braised collards

Dessert –
Cocktail: Old No. 43
Paired with: Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding, quince jam, lemon-whiskey glaze

$65 per person, plus tax and gratuity
Please call Max Fish in Glastonbury to reserve your seat (860) 652-3474

Max Downtown’s New Drinks Perfect for Summer Heat

By Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director

At Max Downtown in Hartford, our lead bartender, Mike Mills, created this drink for the summer menu.  He is a big fan of Russian Vodka and the way it takes to infusions, such as the pepper mix he uses for this drink.  The depth of flavor achieved by combining three pepper elements is great and really makes this drink pop.  The spicy note added by combining Jalapeno and pepper corns, plus the touch of spice from the Habanero shrub, play off of the fruity elements from the mango and the sweet bell pepper.  I think it is this sweet and spicy play that has really made it a popular drink among our guests, plus this drink is surprisingly light and refreshing, perfect for battling the heavy heat and humidity of summertime.

This drink is called the Spicy Tango

spicy tango - MDRecipe:

2oz Pepper Infused Hammer & Sickle Vodka (see below)
.5oz Pierre Ferrand Curacao
1oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 tsp Mango Puree
5 drops Bitterman’s Habanero Shrub

To make the House Infused Vodka:

1 liter Hammer & Sickle Russian Vodka
½  red bell pepper, sliced
2 table spoons Black peppercorns
1 Jalapeno, sliced, no seeds
Let infuse for 3 days, stirring once a day.

Rhubarb – perfect for Dessert and for Drinks

By Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

Rhubarb is an early spring ripening plant in the northeast US, and it has been a favorite addition in desserts for many years, especially this time of year where it is often found paired with the seasonal strawberries.  With its slightly tart side, it works especially well with sweet berry flavors in pastry desserts such as pies.  

Technically classified in 1947, by the US Government as a fruit, as this is how it predominantly used, rhubarb is a plant that grows around the world in moderate climates.  Because it is an early ripening perennial it is often ready to eat just about the time strawberries are in season, adding to the close association of the two foods.  We make use of the petioles, which are the stem-like parts that hold the large leaves.  These look like large stalks and are usually sliced up or pureed to be used in cooking.

This past Friday night (June 14th), I made a cocktail using some rhubarb and other ingredients.  This drink was a featured cocktail at the first Chef to Farm Dinner at Rosedale Farm in Simsbury, CT., and was served alongside the amuse course.  It is a light and refreshing drink with a sweet/tart component plus that added floral component from the gin.  I received so many requests for the recipe that I am listing it here.  

Rhubarb Botanical (this was served in a Mason jar, so the overall size is about 16oz)

1.5 ounces rhubarb syrup/puree (see below)

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

1.5 ounces Cold River Gin (Maine)

dash of home-made Meyer lemon bitters (or similar)

2-3 ounces tonic water

mix everything in Mason jar or highball glass except tonic, fill with ice and then top with tonic

Garnish with sliced strawberries

Rhubarb Syrup

1-2 stalks of rhubarb in a quart of simple syrup (1:1 water and sugar)

let soak 24-48 hours, puree some or all of the rhubarb for added texture