Taster’s Choice – Serving Up the First Two Cocktails.

With the shopping behind me I was pretty much set except I still had to secure my panel of judges. It was a given that the drinks were free – a definite recruitment plus – but part of my “homework” meant that I would be serving as “acting bartender”, which in some people’s eyes could be a bit of a minus. (As the evening wore on some of their apprehension on my bartending capabilities turned out to be somewhat justified. You’ll see what I mean as you read on.)

With some emails and well placed phone calls I rounded up 7 friends who were game. We drew straws and narrowed it down to three for my un-official, un-professional but fun, tasting panel. Here’s a brief snapshot of my trio of non-experts:

  • Anne: Former NYC corporate executive. Chucked it. Moved to San Francisco. Current art school student. (Let’s just say she embraces change in her life.)
  • Dean: Six feet five inches of fun from the Oakland Hills and not afraid to let his Midwest roots show through.
  • Yina: Naturalized mainland Chinese. Pint-sized frame. Large personality. Want an opinion? Yina’s got one and is willing to share it.
  • I explained the ground rules and that I needed my tasters to offer an opinion on each drink. A few other notes: We cleansed the palate with some stone ground corn chips. A little salty but seemed to do the trick. We also decided to make the drinks in alphabetical order. I also prepared the drinks as close to instructions as possible.

    So we were off. What follows is a listing of the first two drinks, ingredients, directions, my bartender notes and the non-expert, non-official -yet animated- commentary of the drink.

    The first drink up was The Redevelopment created by Mathew Frantin.


  • 1.5 oz Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
  • .75 oz Luxardo Marachino Liquor
  • 1.5 oz Pineapple juice 1.5 oz
  • .5 oz Lime juice
  • .5 oz Agave Nectar
  • 1 ring of a red Jalapeno
  • Directions:

  • Muddle the jalapeno in the shaker.
  • Put ice and ingredients into shaker, shake and pour into an old fashion glass.
  • Garnish with lime and put straws in.
  • The Redevelopment

    Bartender notes: The Redevelopment was originally named The Conquistador hence it was first on the list. My taster’s were impatient and wanted their first drink, ah like yesterday. I was derided because “everything” took way too long. “Thanks guys. I guess free booze wasn’t good enough?” Already feeling the pressure I realized that my shaker was too big which made it hard to muddle the jalapeno. Also make sure to muddle the jalapeno first! With a smaller shaker the jalapeno flavor would have come through better. Also I don’t normally “do” straws but they were helpful for sanity sharing of drinks throughout the evening.

    Taster Comments:
    Anne: “Could be dangerous. Tastes like Hawaii.”
    Dean: “Refreshingly frothy. Perfect for the pool.”
    Yina: “Fresh with a solid kick at the end. Just how I like it. Great hot weather drink.”

    Our second drink of the night was the Fillmo’better by Sean McNeal.


  • 1.5 oz Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
  • .75 oz St. Germain
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • .75 oz agave nectar
  • .75 oz 99 proof bananas
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Directions:

  • Build in a shaker glass.
  • Add the Tres Agaves Tequila, St. Germain, fresh press lime juice and agave nectar.
  • Shake the bloody living hell out of it, and strain. (My favorite instruction of the night!)
  • Top with the foam, which should be the consistency of irish coffee whipped cream (ie, should be able to be easily poured and layer)
  • More instructions for me to make sure I got it right:I like to use a flash blender, adding a pint of cream, 1.5-2 oz. agave nectar, and 3 oz 99 bananas- 99 proof banana schnapps (or to taste). In a flash blender whip for 2-3 seconds.

    In a whip cream siphon, of the liter size, proportion the mixture accordingly and fill to a liter and only add one NO2 charger. Shake and test pour, shake more if need be to achieve desired consistency. Again, it should be silken smooth and only firm enough to layer on the drink.


    Bartender notes: Apparently the “bartender” was sipping a bit too much of the Tequila and I didn’t exactly get it right. I forgot the lime juice. Called a mulligan and reshot the hole. Surprisingly good the first time but much better the second time out with lime to balance out the St. Germain and Nectar. I also didn’t spring for the NO2 charger. Whipped up the 99 proof bananas and whip cream and got what I think was the desired end result.

    Taster Comments:

    Anne: “Ah, Yum. Tart, sweet with foamy goodness. Like a Gin Fizz but way better.”
    Dean: “An adult banana split. I definitely Feel’mo Better”
    Yina: “Creamy, dreamy. Bananas emerge after lime infusion.”

    In tomorrow’s post we finish it up with the final three drinks.