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.

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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.

  

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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. 

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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 

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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

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Max Downtown Adds Two Limited Production Whisk(e)y

This week at Max Downtown, two new Whisk(e)y were added to the library offering of specialty spirits.   I say Whisk(e)y with the (e) because one of these products comes from the USA – High West Distillery from Park City, Utah, and the other comes from Scotland – the Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland.  The practice for spelling whiskey without an “e” is common in Scotland and some of the Commonwealth regions, so we must adhere to this.  It just helps to tell them apart a bit easier.

The first product from High West is the fourth whiskey we have from this unique and quite frankly compelling producer in Utah.   This product is the American Prairie Reserve Whiskey, which is a blend of two whiskies; the first of which is aged about six years and is composed of about 75% corn, 20% rye and 5% malted barley, while the other portion is from ten year old whiskey, which is composed of 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malted barley.  You will not see an age statement on the label of this whiskey, as it is illegal to do so when there are blended ages such as this, but you will find a truly balanced and deeply flavored whisky that hits the palate with rich flavors of sweet oak and grains, with a smoky and soft finish.  Really one of the finest that we have tasted from this distillery to date.  Available for a limited time. basically while supplies last, which is usually not very long as aged whiskies are becoming more and more of a challenge to acquire.

The second whisky that was acquired by Max Downtown this week is the Glenmorangie Ealanta.  This Scotch is a beautiful whisky that is part of a very limited production range called the Private Edition.   It isa 19 year aged whiskey that has spent its time in virginAmerican oak casks sourced primarily from Missouri.  The affect of this style with so much age is an ultra-smooth, richly flavored whisky with deep flavors of orange peel, brown sugar and roasted almonds.  The expression is almost unique in the world of Scotch, or whiskies in general.  Extremely limited production, this whisky will go quickly and be gone forever.

 

 

 

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Introducing Our Newest Team Member!

Both sexy and sophisticated, this team member will go a long way in seducing guests and helping to improve our image. Showcasing lovely curves and a graceful smile. Durable, strong and fun to hold. Sometimes shimmering with exotic spices. Sometimes classically dressed for a night on the town. And sometimes just lazing away the afternoon on one of our patios. I hope this team member is seen all over (and everyone wants to be seen with them). We interviewed a lot of candidates, but in the end we had to go with this choice; everyone loved the look, everyone loved the feel, and everyone loved the charm. Introduce this member to anyone and everyone, they really have a great spirit for the job…Our new coupe cocktail glass: Cardinal #794278 Continue reading “Introducing Our Newest Team Member!”

Barrel-Aged Cocktails Begin at Max Fish

While it will take about 3 months for the cocktail to finish, we started to make it this week.  Yes, that’s a 3 month window of production.  Sounds like a long time to wait for a drink? Not really once you taste the results.

The Barrel-Aged Cocktail has been making it way around the country and is now firmly in Connecticut at the Max Restaurant Group.  We started this week with a variation on the Manhattan by blending Hudson White Corn Whiskey from New York’s Hudson Valley with Doling Dry Vermouth from France and just a touch of Regan’s Orange Bitters from Louisiana.  We didn’t make just one drink, though – we made a barrel full of it – 5 gallons to be precise.  This mixture is taking its time mellowing and coming together in an oak barrel that previously held whiskey from Hudson Distillery.  The idea is that over the next few months the cocktail’s elements will have the opportunity to really meld with each other, pickup some color and sweet vanilla flavors from the barrel and be affected by the slow integration of oxygen – an element typically not found in cocktails.

The end result will be a smooth and mellow Manhattan that is easy to drink and delicious to sip.  We plan to make it available early to mid-June, or when the drink is ready.

We will be expanding this concept at Max Fish, as well as introducing it at Trumbull Kitchen and Max Oyster Bar.  We are planning on doing a tasting event featuring all the variations we mix up sometime in June. Perhaps you can let us know which are the best combinations??

 

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Big Cocktail Dinner Tonight at Max Fish

Maxologist Dave Bouchard Building the Cocktails

Tonight Dave Bouchard and Dave Sellers presented a great dinner featuring some innovative cocktails based on classic styles and food pairings to match.  Despite (slightly off)weather we had over 40 people venture out to experience this dinner and enjoy the creative process happening at Fish.  Dave Bouchard has created a serious craft cocktail culture with his staff and they are creating delicious cocktails, as was on display for dinner tonight.  Here is the lineup that we featured:

Chef Dave Sellers Doing What He Does Best

Aperitif

Gougeres / Trout mousse / caviar

Kir Royal-classic sparkler with a twist

Massenez de Dijon, fresh orange, Prosecco, lemon oil

Daiquiri

Cuban Wedding shrimp / Jumbo shrimp / myers rum / orange juice / jalapeño

Lemon Thyme-the original daiquiri, elevated; savory and refreshing

Puerto Rican white rum, lemon-thyme syrup, citrus, Jamaican dark rum

Martini

Thai steamed red snapper / tamarind / ginger / lemongrass

Tamarind Kiss-exotic but familiar; each sip invites another

Ginger infusion, tamarind and citrus, notes of vanilla

Manhattan

Rye glazed “bacon” / roast pork tenderloin / stone ground grits

Green Point-smooth, spicy and convincing

Old Overholt rye, Yellow Chartreuse, Punt e Mes

Flip

Marcona almond cake / sherry sabayon

Pedro Ximinez-rich, creamy and complex

Pedro Ximinez sherry, orgeat, egg, nutmeg

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