Hydrate your body, energize your health – and save some money while you’re at it – challenge yourself and your loved ones to a Water Only Weekend!

Because, if nothing else, you know you’ll need all the hydration you can get for next weekend.

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A post by Warren Bobrow

Valley Girls is the uncommon name for an extremely delicious soda syrup.  As I find in life, friends are to be found on the web and the chance meeting of Anea Botton on Four Square opened my palate to something quite salubrious.  Anea is the owner of Valley Girls, located in Sonoma, California.  Her company is dedicated to making handcrafted, small-batch cooking that preserves old school methods of making foods that (according to her press release) makes food taste, TASTY!

But digging a bit deeper and through Anea’s description of her company, I learned that there is a pro-social angle to this little company.  Anea does what she does because she is in collaboration with the Sonoma Valley Teen Services.   What is this?  The Sonoma Valley Teen Services provides skill based programming for teens of this area.  The press release goes on to say that the members of the company believe the importance of reaching out to at-risk kids and young adults.  Anea attempts to teach old-school cooking methods to make foods with a deeper meaning.  In other words, not only do they help kids and young adults from going down the wrong path in life, but they truly help them with skills that will hopefully stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Anea’s company specializes in using seasonal produce and ingredients to create their small batch foodstuffs.   I’ve only tasted two of the syrups but if the others are anything like the ones I’ve tasted, then it’s going to be a fun next few days, one sip at a time.

So far I’ve tasted the Musk Melon and the Grapefruit soda syrups.  As a rule I like to create my own soda from ingredients without high fructose corn syrup.  Anea’s soda syrups do not contain this corn based sweetener.  What she does use is cane sugar sweetener.  It’s long been held that pure cane sugar is an important part of nutrition.  At least it is part of my sweet tooth!

The soda syrups from Valley Girls are handcrafted with such passion.  You can taste it in every single sip.

Tasting notes:
Grapefruit.  Bursting with the oily and refreshing flavor of freshly picked grapefruit, this syrup just screams for more than seltzer water.  It requires the addition of a fabulous Reposado Tequila from Arrogante.  The Arrogante Tequila, itself bursting with honey and salt air is woven to the grapefruit and hopefully a few ounces of lime juice to make a Paloma-type Margarita cocktail with real guts!

Musk Melon.  The Musk Melon is a fruit of such depth of flavor that “haunting” is an adjective that comes to mind.  When spun into a glass of soda water, the Musk Melon calls out to your darker side.  It speaks of late nights and later morning breakfasts.  The Musk Melon is not usually available on the East Coast, but contained in this perfectly designed bottle is the very essence of this most ardent of fruits.  If you see a Musk Melon in the market, buy one and then tell me if I am correct to my description of the flavor contained within.

The Musk Melon is a whisper of a warm breeze on a cool night.  It goes right through every pore in your body.

My basic Margarita recipe for the grapefruit syrup is perfect for a short drink that I call the “Justified and Ancient” Cocktail.  The sum of the parts equals a drink of uncompromising quality and demeanor.  You may even want to have a couple of them, but if you do, please make sure someone else is driving.

Justified and Ancient

Ingredients:
(Each recipe makes two rather strong cocktails)
4 oz. Arrogante Reposado Tequila
2 oz. Valley Girl Grapefruit Soda Syrup (or Musk Melon)
3 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lime juice
2 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
Ice infused with chopped fresh grapefruit with the water provided through your Mavea “Inspired Water” pitcher

Preparation:
-Fill a Boston Shaker 3/4 with regular bar ice
-Add the Arrogante Reposado Tequila then:
-Pour over the ice and the Arrogante Tequila, the grapefruit (or Musk Melon) syrup
-Add the Lime Juice
-Shake like crazy for 15 or so seconds
-Add the Mavea ice that you’ve infused with chopped grapefruit and then frozen to a rocks glass
-Pour the Margarita made with either the grapefruit soda syrup or the Musk Melon syrup
-Add a couple splashes of the Perrier Sparkling Water over the top and garnish with a lime pinwheel… Sip CAREFULLY!!!

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Interesting story from CNN this week on how one man plans to help you fight dehydration… Check it out here!

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Post by Warren Bobrow

The Aylesbury Duck is an intriguing vodka from The 86 Company. They also produce a white rum, a gorgeous blanco tequila, and a lush, aromatic and refreshing London gin. From the very first sip poured with ease from the bartender-designed neck, (it has two lines extruding from the glass for added security) to the gradations on the side (for the measurement of a punch, no doubt) I know that this product is carefully made. The size and shape of the bottle is equally important. It’s circular in dimension and is a bartender-pleasing one liter in volume. It would fit easily into a speed rack or grace the shelf of the back bar with its handsome labeling.

The label looks like handmade paper with Victorian-esque fonts with the depiction of the Aylesbury Duck and curious writing about the duck and hunting, as well as what it is made of, in this case wheat and water. But you don’t drink writing, nor do you drink fancy bottle styles. What you do drink is a carefully made vodka unlike any other on the market. But what does this mean?

This is what I would call an ultra-luxury product. This vodka is of such high quality that there is very little of it to be attained. But you my friends are in luck. Not only do you have the good fortune to read my words of wisdom attesting to the quality of this product, but also you are able to find this ultra-luxury vodka at DrinkUpNY!

This is your lucky day!

It’s also your lucky day that you cooked some sweet, golden beets last night to accompany your roasted chicken. But instead of tossing them into a salad with a tangle of Mache lettuce and goat cheese like you usually do, this time you’ve pureed them with a touch of freshly squeezed lime juice and simple syrup. This gives the pureed beets a bright and citrus driven flavor when mixed with this pristine wheat based vodka.

Then, as if by magic a frosty Martini glass appears in front of you. And trailing down the sides of the Martini glass is the most elegant of bitters. In this case, I’ve used the historic Jerry Thomas Bitters, comprised of cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and dreams. They smear down the side of your cocktail glass and lend plausible amusement for your taste buds.

The Aylesbury Duck is indeed a real duck. I’d say it is quite a bit larger than a normal duck and is usually hunted for sport, although it’s not really a sport when this large breed of duck is the size of a golden retriever. It’s hard to miss. There’s a phrase that says: “like a sitting duck”…

I do hope drinking this imaginative vodka is more amusing than hunting the Aylesbury Duck!

Tasting notes for the Aylesbury Duck Vodka:

A nose of sweet vanilla and candy sugar melts away into a vaguely floral scent of the grains. Notes of white chocolates melted around freshly cut French herbs and hints of Asian spices caress the palate. This iconic vodka finishes warm and lush with a mouth coating sweetness that goes on and on.

Quite mixable or perfect served over a hand cut ice cube made with water filtered through a Mavea “Inspired Water” Filter pitcher. (ESSENTIAL!!!)

I love to make infused ice cubes for this drink.

A Cocktail for Baudelaire

(Each recipe makes one drink)

Ingredients:
• 3 oz. Aylesbury Duck vodka
• 2 tablespoons roasted and pureed golden beets
• ½ oz. simple syrup
• ½ oz. fresh lime juice
• A few shakes of The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters
• One large chunk of hand cut Mavea and Jerry Thomas infused ice

Ice Preparation:
1. In a gallon Tupperware container, add at least twenty shakes of the Jerry Thomas Bitters.
2. Cover with Mavea filtered water and mix together.
3. Freeze overnight.
4. Cut ice to your desired shape and serve with your Aylesbury Duck Vodka in the cocktail of your choice, such as the vividly amusing Cocktail for Baudelaire.

Cocktail Preparation:
1. Fill a Boston Shaker ¾ with bar-ice (Do not use the infused ice here.)
2. Add the vodka and the pureed golden (or red if you wish) beets, lime juice and simple syrup.
3. Shake for 10-15 seconds.
4. Strain into your Martini glass and sip to getting drunk… (While reading Baudelaire’s infamous poem about drinking to inebriation and beyond.)

Of course you should always practice mindful drinking.

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Just found some amazing photos of The World’s Biggest Water Fight’ over at Business Insider from this week in Thailand. We highly suggest you go check it out… Now, where’s summer again?

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Post by Warren Bobrow

Lately I’ve been experimenting a bit more with the classics. With the sudden burst of deliciously warm weather, I’ve created a take off on the Paloma Cocktail. Instead of the traditional use of grapefruit soda, I’ve taken some lusciously aromatic and juicy grapefruit and sliced them into thick rounds. I’ve heated the outside grill with some hard wood charcoal and set the grapefruit rounds just off the heat. Alternatively, you can sear your grapefruit rounds in a stainless steel pan or cast iron. Don’t use aluminum, it reacts to the citrus and will ruin your cocktail. You will want to make the citrus somewhat charred. What this does is bring the natural sugars out in the fruit. Sure it will be slightly bitter, but that’s the point. There is plenty of time to make this cocktail sweet/sour/bitter because I’m adding a bit of simple syrup to the mix.

This drink has got all the stuffing for a perfect mind-eraser or spirit-lifter if you wish. As with all my drinks, caution should be the starting point – but should you get too enthusiastic, remember for every drink you imbibe, please be sure to drink two glasses of water. I learned this secret (quite by accident) out in Santa Fe. If you want to remain standing, it’s really important to hydrate yourself. But I digress. This twisted take off on the Paloma is delicious, thirst quenching and bold in a tall glass with hand-cut Mavea “Inspired Water” ice infused with Lemon Bitters from The Bitter Truth and grapefruit zest, finely chopped and frozen into the cubes.

How buzzed you get is completely up to you!

I’ve been completely charmed by the USDA Certified Organic Casa Noble Tequila of late. My tasting notes run the gamut from milk chocolate to spicy chilies to a bit of almond croissant! When the Casa Noble Tequila is mixed with the charred grapefruit juice, the grapefruit zest/lemon bitters ice, and the ever-marvelous Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in the lemon essence, then the twisted/charred Paloma cocktail is born!

Charred Paloma Cocktail

Will take the edge off for two.

Ingredients:
• 4 oz. Casa Noble Blanco Tequila
• 6 oz. grilled grapefruit juice (or charred if you will)
• 2 oz. simple syrup
• Mavea “Inspired Water” Filtered ice infused with grapefruit zest and The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters to taste (You’ll need to experiment a bit to find the right balance of bitter to ice.)
• An egg white
• Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (Lemon)

Preparation:
1. Fill your Boston Shaker with the infused ice to ¾.
2. Add the Casa Noble Tequila.
3. Add the charred grapefruit juice.
4. Add the simple syrup.
5. Add your egg white.
6. Shake for 15 seconds.
7. Add some more of your infused ice into an old fashioned glass.
8. Strain the Tequila mixture into the glass making a nice foamy top.
9. Finish with a grapefruit zest and a splash of the Perrier Sparkling Water for added fizzy qualities.
10. Add a couple drops of the The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters to finish if desired.

A perfectly refreshing springtime drink! Danger Level 5 out of 5!

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A little prep tip to help keep your weekends tasting great!

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