Tag Archives: cocktail

Martell Blue Swift

Martell Blue Swift Arrives in Atlanta

Cognac meets Kentucky in the latest release from Martell, the oldest and one of the best known Cognac houses. Introducing Martell Blue Swift, a VSOP Cognac finished in Kentucky bourbon casks.

Martell Blue Swift

Martell Blue Swift was unveiled at an exclusive launch party in downtown Atlanta earlier this month. After guests sipped on Martell VSOP cocktails, brand ambassador Karim Lateef pushed back a wall revealing a room dedicated to Martell Blue Swift. The celebration then kicked into high gear with a DJ, live artist painting and tastings of Blue Swift on its own and in cocktails.

Martell Blue Swift launch party

Blue Swift is a spirit that represents the partnership between France and America. Martell was the first to ship its Cognac to the United States more than 230 years ago. The name is a tribute to Martell’s swift emblem, a bird that can fly for extremely long distances, including across the Atlantic Ocean.

Martell Blue Swift

Blue Swift is an Eau de Vie de Vin. It starts with a base of high quality Cognac, the VSOP, and then spends additional time aging in Kentucky Bourbon casks. The VSOP has flavors of candied fruit and plum, while the bourbon casks impart notes of vanilla and smoky oak. Round and smooth, Martell Blue Swift can be enjoyed on its own or in cocktails. My favorite way to sip it is mixed with ginger ale.

Click here to learn more about Cognac

Martell Blue Swift is now available in Atlanta and select U.S. cities. It retails for $49.99.

For more information visit Martell’s website at martell.com/en-us/.

New Summer Cocktails at 4th and Swift

Paper MoonThe spirit of rock and roll is at 4th & Swift this summer with the debut of a new cocktail menu. Created by bar manager Chris Gianaras, the drinks include the Nirvana-inspired Heart-Shaped Box, made with Bluecoat gin, Kirschwasser, cherry Heering, Giffard Ginger of the Indies, lemon, Bing cherry honey and cherry bark-vanilla bitters; the Velvet Elvis, made with Great King St. Scotch whisky, Laphroaig 10, Giffard Banane du Brésil, house ginger beer, Citra hops, maple, lemon and walnut bitters; and the Boat Drink, a nod to Jimmy Buffet with Damoiseau Rhum Agricole Blanc, Manuel Atxa white Vermouth, sugarcane, Ferrand dry Curaçao, lime and orange bitters. Whether you’re sipping them at the bar or outside, the new drinks are sure to rock any summer night. 621 North Avenue NE, Atlanta, 30308 (Old Fourth Ward). 678.904.0160, 4thandswift.com

photo credit: Jay Swift

Smokebelly BBQ

Smokebelly BBQ Now Open

Celebrate Labor Day weekend at Smokebelly’s Q & Brew Lawn Party. On August 31st from 5pm onward there will be a whole hog roast, $5 craft cocktails, $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon and live music.

There was something about Smokebelly BBQ that made me like it from the moment I arrived. Maybe it was the vintage décor that called to mind my favorite barbecue spot in Houston. Or the Led Zeppelin playing over the speakers. And it certainly didn’t hurt that we happened to be seated near a TV showing the Yankees game. But after the first sip of my cocktail, the smoky and spicy Southern Pina, I was happy to welcome Smokebelly to Buckhead.

And that’s the thing about barbecue – it’s a food that makes you happy. Have you ever seen someone looking depressed while digging into a plate of pulled pork or brisket?

Smokebelly BBQ is a new joint venture between the team behind The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill, Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails and Tin Lizzy’s Cantina and Trey Humphreys (the Fur Bus, A Social Mess and The Pool Hall). Helmed by Executive Chef Darrell Rice, Smokebelly offers a menu of regional barbecue favorites complemented by craft beer and cocktails.

Smokebelly cocktailsThough beer is a natural pairing for barbecue, you won’t want to miss out on the cocktails. The Southern Pina, Smokebelly’s take on a margarita with an added kick, is made with house smoked Mezcal, pineapple, lime juice, jalapeno and agave syrup. Another top pick is the Blackberry Whiskey Smash, made with bourbon, blackberries, lime, mint and sugar. The berries are muddled and then strained, so you get pure juice and no seeds.

Dave, our server, was the ideal guide for our first time at Smokebelly. While giving us an overview of the menu, he made sure to recommend dishes that we would have overlooked.

One such recommendation was the Blistered Peppadew Peppers. They were served on top of goat cheese, smoked almonds, black pepper and honey, with house-made crackers. On paper it was perhaps unusual but together the gently spicy pepper, creamy goat cheese and sweet honey were a tasty combination. We also enjoyed the Fried Pickled Okra, served with a barbecue ranch dipping sauce, and the Cherry Cola Ribs, which were flash fried and tossed in the house made sauce.

For the main course my husband and I shared the Sliced Smoked Turkey Breast and the Sliced Beef Brisket. The brisket had great flavor and the turkey was cooked just right (our favorite of the two, if we had to pick one). Both were even better when paired with one of Smokebelly’s sauces.

Smokebelly saucesAbout those sauces — you will never have to worry about running out. There are large bottles on your table, and a full lineup at the sauce bar. There’s the mustard-based Carolina Gold; the vinegar-based Carolina Red; the creamy Alabama White; the Cherry Cola; and a Sweet, Spicy and Savory.

Trying a bite of brisket and turkey in each of the sauces is the closest you’ll get to playing with your food as an adult.

Smokebelly turkey plateSmokebelly sliced brisketDon’t worry vegetarians, you’re still welcome at Smokebelly. There are a variety of vegetarian options and entrée size salads. All diners will enjoy the Chilled Sweet Corn and Edamame “Succotash,” and the collard greens-style Smoky Braised Kale is a standout among the sides (though just a warning for vegans, the kale and the baked beans are made with bacon).

Smokebelly banana puddingIf it is possible that you still have room for dessert, you’ll want to find out about the evening’s special offerings. While the peanut butter cake sounded incredible, we went for the (seemingly) less rich banana pudding. Lightly caramelized on top, with sliced bananas and a decadent creamy filling, it was a gourmet take on the southern sweet.

Smokebelly BBQ is open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Wednesday from 11am to 10pm, and Thursday through Saturday 11am until late. Plenty of free parking is available at the restaurant.

Smokebelly BBQ, 128 East Andrews Drive, Atlanta (Buckhead).
404.848.9100, smokebellybbq.com

>> Connect:
Facebook: SmokebellyBBQ
Twitter: @SmokebellyBBQ
Instagram: @smokebellybbq

New Drinks at Ted’s Montana Grill

There’s a new reason to dine at Ted’s Montana Grill this summer — five, actually. The restaurant inspired by the pioneer spirit of the American West has introduced three new handcrafted cocktails and two adult milkshakes.

Ted's Montana Grill drinks and nachosThe cocktails are infused with fresh ingredients and taste like summer in a glass.

The Ruby River is made with Hendrick’s gin, fresh-squeezed lime juice, strawberries and mint.

The Buffalo 41 is made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Grand Marnier, fresh-squeezed lemonade and wildberry puree, and garnished with blackberries.

The Grand Agave is made with Patron Tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh-squeezed lime juice and organic agave nectar.

The adult milkshakes are a first for Ted’s Montana Grill. Both are hand-dipped and made with Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

The Slide is Ted’s twist on the traditional Mudslide with vanilla ice cream, Kahlua, Absolut vodka, Baileys and Hershey’s chocolate syrup, and tastes just as good as you would imagine. The Boozy Berry is made with vanilla ice cream, Tito’s vodka, Grand Marnier and fresh-squeezed lemonade infused with wildberries.

Enjoy the drinks with a plate of bison nachos and one of Ted’s award-winning gourmet beef and bison burgers.

Try the new cocktails and adult milkshakes at a Ted’s Montana Grill near you, with locations in Cumberland, Downtown, Midtown, Mill Creek, The Avenue, Decatur, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Peachtree Corners and Peachtree City.

For more information visit tedsmontanagrill.com.

The Ice Cream Bar

Ice Cream Bar: Adult Ice Cream and Sorbet

It’s 5 pm somewhere on a hot afternoon. You want something cool and sweet like ice cream, but you also want a drink. Now you don’t have to choose.

The Ice Cream BarIntroducing The Ice Cream Bar, adult ice cream and sorbet. From the creators of Frozen Pints, the treats were inspired by classic cocktails and modern mixology, and contain upwards of 8% alcohol by volume.

The flavors are White Russian, Bourbon Butter Pecan, Brandy Alexander Chip and Mojito Sorbet.

Look for The Ice Cream Bar in coolers at wine, beer and spirits stores around Atlanta. The pints cost around $8 and you must be 21 or older to purchase.

For more information visit theicecreambar.com.

Cocktails in the Garden is Back

The prettiest cocktail party in Atlanta is back this month. Cocktails in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden begins its 2014 season on Thursday, May 8th.

Every Thursday from 6pm to 10pm, May through September, guests will get to stroll around the garden at dusk while sipping beer, wine and mixed drinks.

Cocktails in the GardenThere will be live cooking demonstrations and tastings from chefs in the Edible Garden, DJs spinning live music and surprise cultural performances. The Art & Science Café returns every third Thursday, with lively discussions on plants and human health.

Each month’s theme highlights living sculptures in the Imaginary Worlds exhibit. May’s theme is “Earth Goddess, I’ll Have What She’s Having.” You can toast to the larger than life lady with her signature cocktail, The Goddess, made with Absolut Citron, local honey infused with mint, a splash of grenadine and lime juice.

Admission to Cocktails in the Garden is $18.95 for adults and free for garden members. Guest passes are accepted. Click here for more information.

Cocktails in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Every Thursday Night, May through September, 6pm – 10pm. 1345 Piedmont Avenue NE, Atlanta

Stillhouse: Craft Burgers and Moonshine Now Open in Buckhead

Atlanta’s destination for moonshine is now open – no lawbreaking required.

Stillhouse is the newest restaurant to open in the Andrews Entertainment District. It is a great spot for a night out, offering moonshine on its own or in cocktails, and a menu to rival any of Atlanta’s burger-centric spots.

StillhouseNot familiar with moonshine? Stillhouse proves just how versatile it can be. Drinks like the Carolina Mule and Ghostly Old Fashioned show how moonshine can be a good base for traditional and modern cocktails. Moonshine can also take on a limitless number of flavors – try one of the house made moonshine infusions that are made with regional ingredients like Vidalia onions and Georgia peaches. There is even smoked moonshine – you select a type of wood, and mixologists infuse the smoky flavor into your drink.

moonshine infusionsThe food is just as inventive (and delicious). Start with a southern favorite like the Fried Green Tomatoes or Pimento Cheese. Or try the Mussel Moonshine, PEI mussels steamed in a broth made with Troy & Sons Platinum Moonshine.

The beef burgers are filling, with double patties and a variety of locally sourced and creative toppings. The top bun is flipped up for you to add Stillhouse’s house made ketchup (both standard and spicy) and mustard.

Unusual sounding but very tasty, the PB&J Burger has already become one of Stillhouse’s top sellers. The two beef patties are topped with Georgia peanut hummus, fig jam, fresh sliced peach, blue cheese and pecans. It’s a sweet, salty, creamy and savory mix that really works.

The AG recommends the Buckhead Burger, which is beef patties topped with duck confit, goat cheese, green tomato relish, pickled beets and fresh spinach.

There are also chicken, duck, pork, crab cake, fried oyster and veggie burgers offered on the menu.

For sides try the super creamy Spicy Macaroni & Cheese, and one of the Smothered French Fries (the AG recommends the fries with the North Carolina Gouda). You’ll definitely want to order a side of the collard greens. Slightly sweet in flavor, they’re so good you and your dining companions will fight over the last bite.

If you still have room for dessert, try the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding. Topped with white chocolate and a bourbon caramel sauce, it is every bit as rich as you would imagine.

Try a new drink with dessert. As the AG found out, some of the less sweet house made infusions make a great pairing.

Stillhouse: Craft Burgers and Moonshine, 56 East Andrews Drive NW, Atlanta 30305. Open Monday through Saturday, 5pm to 2am. Live music nightly at 9pm. www.stillhouseatl.com

>> Connect:  @StillhouseATL on Twitter
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stillhouseatlanta

Toast to National Absinthe Day

Can’t get enough of absinthe or have yet to sample the anise-flavored spirit? Try a glass of the green fairy on March 5th in honor of National Absinthe Day.

National Absinthe Day has been celebrated since 2007, the year when Lucid Absinthe became the first true absinthe to be approved for distribution in the United States since 1912.

Lucid Absinthe Supérieure is distilled from grande wormwood, green anise, sweet fennel and other European herbs. It is naturally green in color.

Celebrate National Absinthe Day with absinthe served the traditional way (with water and a sugar cube), or try one of these cocktails:

The Green Lantern

1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
1½  oz. Midori
Ginger Ale
Garnish: 2-3 muddled limes and long green lime spiral

In a rocks glass, muddle lime wedges. Add ice, Midori and Lucid and transfer to a shaker. Shake thoroughly and return into rocks glass. Add ginger ale and lime spiral.

Lucid Frappe

1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
½ oz. Simple Syrup
6 to 8 Fresh Mint Leaves
1 oz. Soda Water

Muddle mint leaves in the bottom of a frappe style glass. Add absinthe, simple syrup and fill with crushed ice. Pour mixture into shaker and shake vigorously. Pour contents into glass, top with splash of soda water and garnish with mint sprig.

Van Gogh’s Garden

1½ oz. Lucid
½ oz. Simple Syrup
Club Soda
Kiwi Fruit
Garnish: muddled cucumber, kiwi fruit on the bottom, kiwi wheel on rim

Muddle two cucumber wheels & two peeled kiwi wheels with the simple syrup in a double rocks glass. Fill with ice and add the Lucid. Top with club soda and add an un-peeled kiwi wheel on the rim.


1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
1 oz. Melon Liqueur
1½ oz. Lemonade
½ oz. Sweet and Sour Mix

Squeeze lime and drop into shaker. Shake ingredients and strain into martini glass. Float with 2/3 Sprite and 1/3 soda. Garnish with lime.

The Traditional Way to Serve Absinthe

Pour 1¼ to 1½ oz. of Lucid into a chalice glass. Rest the slotted spoon across the rim of the glass and place the sugar cube atop the spoon.*

Slowly drip ice-cold water over the sugar cube, dissolving it into the absinthe. The cold water causes Lucid to louche (“loosh”), a process in which the distilled herbal essences “blossom” into an opalescent cloud, the essence and flavors come to life and perfume the air.

The louching is done when the water and Lucid have become completely cloudy and opaque. Sip and enjoy.

*Sugar cube is optional. Water may be added directly to absinthe.

photos credit: Lucid Absinthe

It’s Time for Wine: Spirits for the New Year

Plus the Donum Estate

By Monty and Sara Preiser

Before moving to spirits we wanted to be one of the first to report new ownership at what we consider to be one of the top Pinot Noir producing houses in California – The Donum Estate. Investors from Denmark have purchased Donum, including the main portion of the land, the two brands (Donum and Robert Stemmler), and the inventory.  According to President Anne Moller-Racke, “This is a very positive move as it will give us further financial strength to replant our vineyards and go to the next level. Everyone will stay in place, [as the new owners] want us to continue what we have started and make it even better.  I am very excited.” We are too.

Tasting On the Great Cunard Liners

While the unsurpassed luxury of cruising (like everything else – when done properly) is the subject of another column, here we will share our journey with the ship’s sommeliers through a tasting of Vodka, Scotch and Martinis. Cunard is dedicated to providing the finest of spirits for its passengers, as well as imparting serious educational information surrounding tasting sessions. And this time of year (cold to cool in most of the country) seems to be perfect for pre-dinner cocktails.


Vodka can be made from anything organic that will ferment. Our tasting included the following:

Jean Marc X.O., a premium filtered vodka from the Cognac region of France. It is made of 4 wheat grains, each selected for its specific flavor, while the spring water used is filtered through Grand Champagne limestone. The concoction is distilled NINE times over several weeks in very small batches, and the finished product was included in the 2006 book, 101 Things to Buy Before You Die.” Our blind tasting next to Grey Goose proved this spirit’s incredible quality. Rating: A

Chopin, the only real luxury potato vodka in the world, proves one does not have to use grains to produce the finest of spirits. It is “composed” of, as mentioned, potatoes as the starch source instead of wheat, rye or barley. This Polish favorite is smooth and viscous. Rating: A-

Zubrowka (zoo-BROOF-kah) is another Polish entry that translates to “bison grass vodka” and was traditionally consumed by Polish royalty. Our favorite is distilled by Dolmos Bialystok from rye and bison grass lending a pale tinge and nuances of honey and herbs. It is distinguishable from some other brands by the long blade of green grass in the bottle. This has rapidly become one of our favorite vodkas when it can be found.  Rating: A+

U’Luvka is recognized by its distinctive swan neck bottle and its symbol is said to represent the male and female energies. Made from wheat, barley and rye in Western Poland, it has a buttery texture, citrus notes, and a long, smooth finish. Rating: B+

Stolichnaya Elite, the Russian vodka regarded by many as the best in the world (as evidenced by scores of international awards). It is seen as elite because of its multiple filtering for purity. This is far superior to the usual Stolys ordered by most of us in the States. Rating: A

A hint to drinking vodka: It should always be served ice cold but rarely, if ever, over ice.

Single Malt Whisky (Scotch):

Single (from one distillery) Malt (from one “malted” grain) Scotch (from barley only) is whisky made in Scotland that is matured in oak casks for at least three years (most single malts are matured longer).

Auchentoshan 3 Wood is aged three times. First in old Bourbon casks, then in Oloroso Sherry casks, and finally in Pedro Jimenez Sherry casks (hence the name – 3 Wood). Great flavors and a new favorite. From the lowlands. Rating: A

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old is from the highlands and evidences honey and heather before the enjoyable aroma of peat. This one has a long finish. Rating: B+

Glenlivit 12 Year Old is from the oldest distillery (legal, anyway) in Scotland, which may explain its extraordinary popularity in the U.S. The citrus and sweetness are representative of the Speyside region. Rating: B

Isle of Jura 16 Year Old boasts a sweet and spicy flavor profile, as well as some burned caramel and yeast. This western island whisky has become a Scotch of choice in Japan, but would not be on our list of recommendations. Rating: C+

Laphroaig (laf-royg) 10 Year Old is our new favorite. From a very small Island, Islay (eye-luh), it is briny with significant peat influence, and reminds us of smoked Gouda. Everyone won’t love this one, but it is different and bold. Rating: A+

A hint to enjoying Scotch: Most single malts are designed to be enjoyed “neat” (without ice). Yet they are also best when the flavors are released by the addition of a “wee dram” of water before consuming.


Today almost any combination of spirits served in the well known large V-shaped glass seems to qualify as a Martini – even old time classics such as Sidecars. The evolution of the Martini is a fascinating subject, especially the very recent concept of “Molecular Mixology.” This new area of sub specialization is fast catching on among bartenders who are learning to change the texture, density, viscosity, and/or molecular structure of a liquid through the interactions of spirits, juices, and other beverages.

Below are a few cocktails/martinis we have enjoyed in the past few months. We think that if you like our taste in wine, you might find these to be great starters.

The Classic Dry Martini is about 9 parts gin to vermouth (a wet Martini is 3 to 1). For extra dry you might want to coat the glass with vermouth and drain, and for ultra dry use 2 drops. A dirty martini has a touch of olive juice, while a dirty-dirty martini might see olives smashed and drained into the glass.

The G’Infusion uses 1.5 oz. of Gvine Gin (French and grape based instead of the usual juniper) plus 1 oz. of a sweet raspberry liquor like Chambord and 1 oz. sour lemon juice to soften.

The Ginger Cosmo is a variation on the New Age Classic Cosmopolitan adored primarily by women. But adding the ginger should draw men as well (it did Monty). Start by muddling fresh ginger, then add 1/2 oz. of citrus vodka, 1 oz. of a good orange liquor like Cointreau, a splash of cranberry juice, a squeezed lime wedge, shake, and strain.

The Bronx is an oldie that Playboy (where Monty found the recipe while reading all the articles) predicted no bartender presently working would know. And so far the magazine has not only proven correct, but the mixing and consuming of this drink has proven to be an “event” everywhere we have described it because it is so good. In a shaker full of ice pour 1 oz. each of gin and fresh orange juice. Add ½ oz. each of sweet and dry vermouth. Shake, strain, and garnish with a slice or wheel of an orange.

The Sidecar is about 100 years old but we bet you haven’t had one. And it may be the best of them all. Shake 2 oz. of Cognac, 1 oz. of fresh lemon juice, and 1 oz. of good orange liquor with ice. Strain and serve (though this one is also tasty on the rocks).

A hint to enjoying Martinis: Just as James Bond liked his, the best way to experience most of these drinks is to have them served as cold and as smooth as possible, something that can be accomplished only by shaking – which when properly done will leave small shards of ice on the top.

We wish you a happy new year and please consume responsibly!


It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for Sallys-Place.com.  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, the most comprehensive guide to wineries and restaurants in the Napa Valley, published every March, July, and November. In fall 2011 the Preisers released the first issue of The Preiser Key to Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.