Chartreuse is sooo Very French, and at Max

by Brian Mitchell, Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

Chartreuse-Dinner-2014Chartreuse is one of those beverages that both excites people and makes them nervous – depending on your understanding and level of experience.  Made in the south of France by monks, this wonderful beverage has been made more or less continuously for over 500 years.  It is delicious, intense, makes a great addition to cocktails, or is great on its own (usually chilled and diluted with some ice).

This past week a very cool little video was posted online depicting a trip and some highlights of France and a trip the facility where Chartreuse is made.  You can view below or link directly to Chartreuse (click here).   By the way, Chartreuse in its varied forms is generally found at most Max locations, including The Cooper in Palm Beach Gardens.  Ask you server or bartender about this wonderful drink and what cocktails it can be enjoyed in…

Luau & Pig Roast at Max’s Tavern

Tavern-Luau-EDITThursday, August 28th at 6pm – Max’s Tavern, Springfield
On the patio with live music by SDrum
Menu by Executive Chef Paul Roberge

Hors d’oeuvres at 6pm
Lomi Lomi Salmon
The Garlic Farm tomato, Maui onion
Ahi Tuna Poke
Coconut, red onion, sesame
Complimentary Tasting of our
Blue Hawaiian Mai Tai

Main Course at 7pm
Slow Roasted Pig
from Skalbite Family Farm of Monson, MA
Side Dishes
Sesame Coconut Fried Rice
Pineapple Sweet Potato Fritters
Mango Cabbage Slaw

Dessert
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Banana caramel

$40 per person
(not including beverages, tax & gratuity)
For reservations, please call: 413.746.6299

Tiki Drink Menu available at our cash bar
Painkiller: Plantation rum, coconut, pineapple
and orange juice, touch of nutmeg $10
Havana Cocktail: Goslings Black Rum, Cointreau,
fresh lime and orange juice, orange bitters $9
Hawaiian Mule: House-infused pineapple vodka,
fresh lime juice, ginger beer $8
The Honolulu: Reposada Tequila, Amaro, dark rum,
raspberry syrup, fresh pineapple and lime juice $9
Caiparhina: Cachaca, dark simple syrup,
fresh lime juice $8

Saturday is National Rum Day – YO HO!

National-Rum-Dayby Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

Saturday August 16th, is National Rum Day!

Normally we do not get too caught up in all the National (fill in the blank) Days, but this one is right up our ally.  Rum is one of the top selling spirits in the world, and at the Max Restaurants we sell a lot of rum and rum-based drinks  – point of fact, our #1 selling mixed cocktail across the company is the Max Painkiller – a delicious rum-based, tropical TiKi styled drink.

Max-Painkiller-Rum
Well Chilled Max Painkillers

So come celebrate a day dedicated to the tasty fermented cane spirit by joining us at any of our locations.  We will be serving up the Max Painkiller, as wella as Hurricanes, Beachcombers, Mojitos, traditional Daiquiri,  Hemingways, Rum & Cokes, Dark & Stormies, or any of the vast number of rum drinks our bartenders can concoct for you. (Nothing frozen, though – sorry.)

A Little Rummy History

Fermented cane juice has been made in many areas of Asia and Africa going back probably millennia, but modern distilled rum production really dates to the 17th Century in the Caribbean.  Sugar became a valued commodity in Europe around this time as it had been fairly scarce, but the opening of the New World allowed for a continuous source of sugar.

A by-product of sugar production is molasses, which was not thought to have much use at first, but it was quickly discovered to be fermentable and then distillable.

Rum became a popular drink in both the old and new world regions, and especially in Colonial America (primarily New England and New York), where the technology for making and maintaining stills and ample supply of wood for barrels meant a refined product could be produced (and consumed).   Molasses were shipped in and refined into rum, before being shipped back out and used for trade, often for slaves, which were needed to work the sugar plantations to make more rum.  The Rum-Slave Triangle was formed by traders moving from West Africa to the Caribbean to population centers of New England and New York, moving “goods” back and forth.

rum-barrel-xxxAs rum was traded and shipped on the high seas it became a custom aboard naval ships, and eventually pirate ships.  Traditions among the Naval powers of Great Britain and others lasted well into the 20th century with daily rations, and even continue to this day with special occasion rations being given out to service persons.

Styles and Production of Rum

Rum is produced in many regions, but essentially there are three groups of styles, with variations or ageing categories within each group.  These main groups are often categorized by the language or tradition of the colonial power that was in control of the original production areas.  These colonial powers had favorite styles and from these grew both production and taste styles that more or less remain today.

  • English-speaking islands and countries are known for darker rums with a fuller taste that retains a greater amount of the underlying molasses flavor. Rums from Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, St.Lucia, Belize, Bermuda, Saint Kitts, the Demerara region of Guyana, and Jamaica are typical of this style.
  • French-speaking islands are best known for their agricultural rums (rhum agricole). These rums, being produced exclusively from sugar cane juice, retain a greater amount of the original flavor of the sugar cane and are generally more expensive than molasses-based rums. Rums from Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique are typical of this style.
  • Spanish-speaking islands and countries traditionally produce añejo rums with a fairly smooth taste. Rums from Cuba, Guatemala, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Venezuela are typical of this style. Rum from the U.S. Virgin Islands is also of this style. The Canary Islands produces honey rum known as ron miel de Canarias and carries a geographical designation.

Jason Sowik from Max Burger Wins Medal at Food Smooze Martini Competition

By Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

Congratulations to Jason Sowik, Bar Manager for Max Burger in West Hartford, for winning the Bronze Medal at last night’s WNPR Food Smooze Martini Competition.

WP_20140619_005Jason beat out over 30 other competitors to place third in a strong field of well conceived drinks from some of Connecticut’s best drink makers.

Using a combination of fresh blueberries and limes, Jason’s drink was simple yet elegant and delicious.  A Blueberry Moji-tini, is a take on a traditional Mojito, to which Jason adds fresh blueberries.  He served this up in a mini-martini glass for the evening, hence the “tini” twist.  Pretty simple but very drinkable recipe.

Jason can be found tending the stick at Max Burger in West Hartford, where he and his team have fun mixing all kinds of modern and traditional drink combinations.

Click Here to see the link on the event round up and all the competition results.

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

 

 

 

Jefferson’s Bourbon, Beer & Cigar Dinner at Trumbull Kitchen

bCrOI7g4snIx1FT7iqLyiNsHP_UdHi9FWGCHeYSRr10EjX4qki4fHBCk-FV2Ay7Pyodo1_H4EQ83D9OMytEmHmyLcEbwy93K8eqAa3eSwgOBXGBHKnMl0v-GxWf1Ea0ugtlHG7YH5iBFbEHK=s0-d-e1-ftFounded in 1997, Jefferson’s is the brainchild of Trey Zoeller and his father
Chet, a famed bourbon historian. They were continuing a family tradition that
goes back to Trey’s 8th generation grandmother who was arrested in 1799
for the “production and sales of spirituous liquors.” To personify the brand,
they chose Thomas Jefferson, known for his curiosity and experimental spirit.
This is a mindset to which Trey has dedicated himself, pushing the boundaries
of the definition of bourbon. Upholding tradition, yet always discovering
new possibilities.For more information on Jefferson’s Bourbons, click here.
Join us for a very special evening of bourbon, cigars,
and the cuisine of Executive Chef Christopher Torla.
Cigars from The Tobacco Shop of Hartford, Inc.
Kobe Beef Slider
Bourbon BBQ sauce, Cajun corn maque choux
Monticello Old Fashioned with Jefferson’s Bourbon
******
Brown Sugar Crusted Hanger Steak
Vidalia onion crust, Yukon gold purée
NOLA Sazerac
******
Braised Veal Breast
Apple and bacon stuffing, Bourbon Demi
The Ciderhouse Cocktail with Jefferson’s Chef Collaboration
******
Grilled Angus New York Sirloin
Gorgonzola potato Napoleon, winter kale
Vieux Carré with Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon
******
Jaime Garcia Cigars
Jefferson’s Ocean Bourbon
$125 per person, not including tax & gratuity
Limited seating, please call for reservations: 860.493.7412

Thursty Thursdays @ Max (May 2014)

Thursty_Thursdays_logo_II

By Brian Mitchell, Max Restaurant Group Corporate Beverage Director

Updated June 1, 2014

June marks the fifth month of features for the Max Restaurant Group’s Thursty Thursday promotions, and as usual we are changing things up for the month. Whether you are winding down your week or getting your weekend kicked-off, this is a great opportunity to discover the fabulous sections of beers, wine, and cocktails at each of our locations.  Thursty Thursdays @ Max, just another great reason to join us.

Here is brief description of some of the promotion we are featuring throughout the month of May…

CooperNegroni-2Max A Mia in Avon will be making use of its patio this month and featuring happy hour on the patio (as seating permits).  We will have the classic Italian Negronis available for $5 (regularly $9), plus peach white or red wine sangria for $5, as well.  AS one final addition we will also have $3 Back East Amber Ale pints available for Happy Hour.  Max A Mia has also introduced a brand new Happy Hour menu for the month starting this week, so there is a lot going for Thursty Thursdays in June.

and Max Amore in Glastonbury, will each be going with what has become a fan favorite promotion for Thursty Thursdays, the 1/2-priced bottled wine offer.  Come into Max a Mia or Max Amore on Thursdays, and enjoy a selection from our bottled wine list at 1/2 the normal price.  Such a great value – with over 80 wines to choose from, you can have your pick from Italy, California and beyond. Chef Dave Stickney and the Max A Mia crew always have great choices on the menu, and ½-priced wines are just another reason to pay us a visit.  As always the discount applies to bottled wine selections, only.

As a side note – Max A Mia will be closing this Thursday May 1, for a private party.  1/2 priced wines will be available during the day and we will be back to normal schedule for the next Thursday promo.

mint-julep

Max’s Tavern in Springfield is getting an early start to the Kentucky Derby this weekend by offering a special Pear Julep for Thursty Thursday drinking.  Made with Four Roses Bourbon, this is slight twist on a classic southern cocktail featuring fresh mint, some pear flavoring and of course the Bourbon.  Sweet and smooth, plus refreshing and so easy to drink.  Come in and try one of our Spring favorites – the Pear Julep.

Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford will also be starting off its Derby Weekend early and offering $5 Russel’s Reserve Mint Juleps for Thursty Thursday, this week.  A classic Mint Julep is great and it is even better when paired with a 1/2 pound of fresh Louisiana Crawfish.  Thursty Thursday for May 1 is a minty julep and crawfish, all for $10.  Your inner Bubba loves it!

As a preview to CT Craft Beer Week (May 11-18th) Max’s Oyster Bar will be running a (TBD) selection of CT only beers at $5 for Thursty Thursday, May 15.  Plan ahead…

Max Fish in Glastonbury will be continuing the tropical drinking season by featuring more Tiki on Thursdays all month.  We love rum filled drinks and as such we will be featuring a few at great prices on Thursdays, all featuring the most popular selling rum in the world (yes I said bestselling rum in the world) Tanduay, which is made in the Philippines and sells in huge volumes all around the Pacific.  Now available in the US for the past few years, it is starting to gain great traction and is a perfect accompaniment to our Tiki drinks…

Tiki Bar

$5 Tiki Torch … a lovely fruit driven style of a cocktail featuring Tanduay Rum, passion fruit, and a splash of cranberry

$6 The Tremont. Think complex Rum Manhattan style cocktail…Tanduay Rum, Meletti amaro, Cinzano, and a dash of orange bitters

$7 Max’s Classic Painkiller. One of my favorite drinks – lovely coconut, orange juice and pineapple flavors mix with the barrel-aged Tanduay Rum flavors for a very drinkable drink that will make anyone more comfortable

$8 Palm Beach Hurricane – a real Tiki throwback, the Hurricane in this case is throwing a nod to our 10th newest location (The Cooper) which opens this month in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  Tanduay rum, Caruba dark rum, oj, pineapple, grenadine – yum!

Max Downtown of Hartford will be offering three options for its Thursty Thursday line-up in June…

1)  Meiomi Chardonnay for $10 a glass, the newest addition to the Wagner family’s

thumb_blue-point-mosaic-session-ipavarious productions.

2) Chef Hunter Morton’s’s Prosciutto and Pimiento grilled

cheese sandwich served with a Bluepoint Mosaic “Session” IPA for $8.00 (you get both for $8)

3) Or you could pick the Max Manhattan served on a “rock” for juts $5.

Anyway you look at it – three great offering at tremendous value from Max Downtown.

 

Max Burger in West Hartford will continue to offer 1/2-Priced Cans for Thursty Thursdays @ Max in May.  C’mon in and take your pick of any of our canned brews and get them at a 50% discount, all day and all night.  The canned beer has made a huge return among craft brewers over the past few years as many people have discovered that fresh beer really does taste better this way.  One of the most damaging things for beer is light and the can provides the perfect vehicle for getting all the flavor the brew master intended to your glass (or just from the can).  We agree and we also like the fact that this is a lighter and more eco-friendly way to transport beer.  We have a growing selection of great canned brews from across America, so join us each Thursday in May to taste your way around the canned section.Canned Beer

Guinness ShakeTrumbull Kitchen in Hartford will be featuring a few fan favorites on menu selection for Thursty Thursday this May 1.  Keeping it simple, Trumbull Kitchen will be featuring a Guinness Cheddar Burger for $5 or House-smoked wings for $.50 each, plus we will be rolling out Bar Manager Steve Temple’s famous Guinness Milkshakes for $5 (regularly $9), as well.  Get a shake and Burger or wings for a great Thursty Thursday kick-off.

Guinness Cheddar Burger – All natural beef, stout onions, kettle chips $5

 or

House Smoked BBQ Wings – Great hill blue cheese dip, celery sticks .50 per piece

 

Spencerbottleglass-640x1029_cThis week Max Burger in Longmeadow, Ma, will be doing a 5pm tapping of the rare an lovely Spencer Trappist Ale, brewed at our one and only local Trappist Brewery in Spencer, Ma. (Keep in mind, there are only 9 Trappist Breweries in the entire world, and we are lucky ducks having one virtually in our back yard.  We are even luckier because they allow us an allocation every so often of their glorious beer.  Starting at 5pm, until it is gone – Spencer Trappist Ale, on draft at Max Burger Longmeadow.

www.spencerbrewery.com/ 

 

 

 

 

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).

Troy-2021-1024x507

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

Thursty Thursday @ Max’s Trumbull Kitchen – Blue Margarita & Mole Pablano

blue_margarita1Trumbull Kitchen in Hartford will be featuring this week a Blue Agave Maragarita & Mole Pablano for $6.

The TK classic El Jimador Blue Agave Margarita (one of our most popular drinks from the catalog), pair it with Chef Torla’s  Pueblan-style Mole Poblano  – tortillas, pumpkin seeds, queso fresca. All for $6, just this Thursday.

We love making tequila drinks and El Jimador is a great selection which we use for our standard drinks selection – it is made from 100% Blue Agave, and has a rich, salty, smokey taste, perfect for making classic styled margaritas.  This drink has a touch of blue in it to add a twist to the classic.  Perfect for the Mole Poblano.

At Max Restaurant Group we are very pleased to announce a new initiative at each of our locations: Thursty Thursdays @ Max.  Come into any Max location on Thursdays and discover a great special only available that night.  Each month our locations will have new promotion that will be available on Thursdays.  These will change from week to week and month to month, so check back here or subscribe to our Social Media sites to get the latest updates on what we are offering.  Some of the creative offering may include drink and food specials, half-priced wines, or special tastings – the choices are limitless and are designed to give our loyal patrons another great reason to join us.  Whether you are winding down your week or getting your weekend kicked-off, this is a great opportunity to discover the fabulous sections of beers, wine, and cocktails at each of our locations.

Thursty Thursdays @ Max, just another great reason to join us.

New Wines at Max’s Oyster Bar

by Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director

I am very pleased to announce several new additions this week to our wine list at Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford.  Both Bob Cooke, Managing Partner, and myself tasted these wines in recent weeks and felt they were compelling enough to add to the program.  We always look for wines that share that special combination of very high quality and that compliment the cuisine of Chef Miller.  These wines each fit this criteria.

Earlier in the week, we tasted the new releases from Domaine Serene from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  Domaine Serene enjoys a very high reputation for both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production, and we were very pleased with selections of each.  Typically we will not rely too heavily on any single winery for multiple wine listings, but these wines were so good that we took both.  On the list for this weekend is the Domaine Serene Chardonnay Evenstad Reserve 2012 and the Evenstad Pinot Noir 2011.

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The Chardonnay is delicious, plane and simple.  A generous, but very well integrated, layer of oak rides just under lovely flavors of ripe apple

and fresh pears – the combination coming across as beautifully balanced and elegant enough to enjoy with delicate (but cooked) seafood.  Not an exact replacement, but certainly on par with 1er Cru Puligny.

Domaine-Serene-101102401.jpg.jpg

The Pinot Noir to me was just short of the Chardonnay in its overall quality, but quite good in its own-right.  For me, I enjoy the elegance of Oregon Pinot Noir, but still always want to see a bit of depth in the fruit and not a wine that is weak like “traditional” French Pinot Noir.  This wine has just that – lush, but not sweet, cranberry and deep cherry fruit, some spice and a balanced lovely long finish.  I would prefer the Chardonnay, first, but I’m not kickin’ this to the curb, and would be quite content with this and lovely piece of grilled salmon, or swordfish, such as is on the specials menu this weekend at MOB.

download (2)Also hitting the list shortly is a great wine that is a little hard to classify as it does not fall in any single varietal camp, but rather is among the new generation of finely tuned blends that have become quite popular, as of late.  The is the Blindfold White Blend from famed winemaker Dave Phinney of Prisoner Wine Co.  This wine has a big chunk of Chardonnay, with a great selection of Rhone-regional varietals thrown in.  Varietals such as Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier and Grenache blanc, plus a touch of Riesling and Semillon just for some added aromatics.  To me this wine is excellently balanced, with deep flavors of waxy apples – really loved his wine.

26187Additionally, I am very excited to be able to finally offer the fabulous Brut Rose from Billecart-Salmon Champagne, perhaps the most famous of the Rose Champagnes.  Over the past few years it has been a challenge to acquire this wine as the previous importer caused pricing and availability to be a challenge for us.  Now with a new importer, Billecart has become available for us once again – and so we have it starting this weekend.  Not cheap, but the elegance, the complexity of the fruit, the racy acidity, make Billecart all that and then something.  Had a good week?  Come celebrate with a bottle and dozen of the freshest oysters around.  You will be happy with that choice, for sure.

 

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Finally, if Billecart is not quite in your wheel-house, but you still love the beauty of sparkling rose wines, I have selected what I consider to be one of the finest Spanish selections – the Raventos i Blanc de Nit Cava Rose.  A favorite winery, this particular wine is a great value in the sparkling wine category.  Deeper fruit than what you might find in the champagnes, it delivers a lot of freshness and elegance.  Made from some less-than-familiar grapes (Xarel.lo, Macabeo, Monastrell, and Parelleda), the combination is really delightful.  Have this with some fried seafood apps or maybe some fresh tuna.

 

New cocktails for the fall are coming next week, on the menu starting Monday October 14.

 

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.

Max’s Tavern Summer Solstice Cocktail Party this Thursday

By Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

This week at Max’s Tavern in Springfield we are very pleased to announce the first of a series of Summer Cocktail parties.  The theme for this week will be a celebration of the Summer Solstice along with the introduction of our brand new summer drink list.  Come on in and enjoy tastings of our new line-up of summer drinks prepared by Max’s Tavern’s Craft Bartenders, music by the Floyd Paterson Band, and tasty bites paired with our cocktails.  

As a bonus feature we will have a sampling and cocktail demonstration using the Boston-based Bully Boy Distillers‘ award winning White Whiskey.  Produced on a local farm right here in Massachusetts from Prohibition-inspired recipes rediscovered after being buried for 70 years, these libations are catching the eye of some of the top media and drink makers in the country.  We are fortunate enough to have their local representative on hand for this evening to share the story and help you taste these great spirits.

The party runs from 4-6 pm, this Thursday June 20th.  See you there!

More this summer:

July 18 – Tiki Drinks

August 22 – Lazy Days and Long Drinks

September 19 – Endless Summer

For more info call Max’s Tavern at

413-746-6299

or visit our site at http://www.maxrestaurantgroup.com/calendar.php

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