TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF:
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT PROJECTS?
I’m most excited about my bourbon cocktail book coming out next spring called Bourbon is My Comfort Food: The Bourbon Women Guide to Fantastic Cocktails at Home. It’s a collection of recipes from myself, Bourbon Women leadership and members across the country designed to make bourbon cocktails at home fun and approachable. I even include cocktail labs to help readers evaluate their creations, experiment with flavors and explore bourbon in new ways with different flavors. I’m also creating cocktail content for local and national magazines for both print and digital publications, and I’m always creating fun and approachable cocktails for my own website, https://www.cocktailcontessa.com and my social media channels.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RECIPE YOU HAVE COME UP WITH USING AN ACC PRODUCT? WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
For the 5 by 5 I wanted to make a cocktail with tropical notes and use bourbon instead of rum or tequila. So many times we leave whiskey out of the mix with summer cocktails, but bourbon and whiskey thrive in summer sours. They’ve got enough punch with flavor and proof to stay present in the drink, but can also blend beautifully with the most common tropical flavors like mango, pineapple, and coconut. Because they’re less sweet than rum, they’re also a good option for drinkers who prefer their drinks a little drier. So I’ve bolstered the mango from the ACC mix with both passionfruit flavors and the caramel/vanilla notes from the bourbon. A pinch of chili lime and little acid from the lime juice turn this into a tropical-themed highball that can be far too easy to sip on a hot afternoon. This isn’t a cocktail that presents the bourbon flavors first - it’s one that eases you into the bourbon taste. The recipe: "The hot weather is here and a refreshing, tropical bourbon cocktail gives us all the feels for celebrating America’s Native Spirit in a fun and tropical way. While rum and tequila seem to have all the fun with mango and tropical fruits, here bourbon’s vanilla and caramel notes create a light and easy collins riff that’s perfect for summer’s steamy afternoons. A bit of chili lime seasoning in the drink adds a touch of complexity without overwhelming the mango juice blend. 5 by 5 1.5 oz 100 proof bourbon 1 oz Mexican Mango fruit blend ½ oz lime juice 3-4 oz passionfruit seltzer Chili lime seasoning Garnish: pineapple chip and lime wheel Add bourbon, lime juice, mango fruit blend, and a pinch of chili lime to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake briefly, 10-12 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass rimmed with chili lime and filled with ice. Top with seltzer and enjoy." I also came up with a Kentucky Margarita with the Smokin’ Marg mix that was fantastic. The only issue was that even with a strong, aggressive I lost some of the whiskey flavor in the cocktail. It was spicy and smoky in a fabulous way. Using bourbon instead of the traditional tequila in Margarita gave the cocktail an absolutely lovely finish. Kentucky Marg 1.5 oz 100 proof bourbon 1.5 oz Smokin’ Margarita Mix Dash of chili lime seasoning 2 dashes chocolate spiced bitters Top off with passionfruit seltzer if you like a lighter Margarita experience.
WHEN YOU ARE COMING UP WITH NEW DISHES OR DRINKS, DO YOU HAVE A SOURCE(S) FOR INSPIRATION?
Food and flavors inspire me. Oftentimes I’ll see an idea on another account or have a meal or dessert where the flavors meld perfectly and I want to recreate that combination in cocktail form. I’ll often browse cocktail menus or dessert menus online to see what kinds of combinations are doing well out in the wild. But I know that each palate is different. Every single person comes to a cocktail with their own flavor preferences, their own palate sensitivity, and their own aversions. Something I create may be fantastic for me, but too bitter or sour for someone else. Part of the fun of cocktails is tweaking them for a particular palate or occasion. Many times, especially with bourbon and rum drinks, the hardest part is deciding which whiskey or rum to use. They are so varied both in flavor and proof, that changing out the bourbon you use can drastically alter the balance and flavors in the cocktail. I’m often using my nose to evaluate possible matches. If things smell good together, chances are they’ll taste good together. And sometimes I play cocktail roulette. I close my eyes and reach into the refrigerator and use whatever ingredient I pull from the fridge in a cocktail. Thankfully I have avoided the ranch dressing so far.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT OR BAR, WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK DO YOU RECOMMEND IT, AND WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE CAN A VISITOR EXPECT?
In LA, my musts are Joan's On Third for a power breakfast (and, the best omelet on the planet), El Coyote for a relaxed Sunday afternoon lunch, Spago Beverly Hills for the brown butter ravioli, Jon & Vinny's for the Ham & Yeezy pizza and Gem Lettuce salad with Chile dressing & breadcrumbs, Magnolia Bakery for banana pudding and cupcakes for everyday desserts, and Hansen's Cakes for birthday cakes (and, half-birthday cakes, if you ask me, because I find celebrating whenever we can to be essential - especially in these times!)
WHAT INFO ABOUT COCKTAILS DO MOST PEOPLE MAKING DRINKS AT HOME NOT KNOW THAT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO THEM?
FAVORITE ACC FLAVOR?