Monday, July 27, 2009

Square One Botanical finally "officially" launched at Tales of the Cocktail!

How anyone finds the time these days to blog, check Facebook so you can live vicariously through your friends doing something more fun than you at the moment, or Tweet something useful rather than inane, is beyond me. I can't seem to keep up these days, which is why I am only just now posting about our newest addition to the Square One family! A few months already in a few markets (yes, Northern California you were first as always!), our official launch of Square One Botanical was announced at the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail!

We had a tasting room at Tales where everybody got to come and imbibe this newest spirit. We were lucky to have some of the best mixologists in the country making cocktails with Botanical - Gina Chersevani of PS7's in Washington, D.C., Scott Beattie, roving fresh market cocktail guru and author of the gorgeous cocktail book Artisanal Cocktails, and of course, none other than our own Square One Mixologist, H. Joseph Ehrmann. They did Botanical proud!

A Botanical spirit, what is that? Simply put, its not a flavored vodka in the sense that most of us are used to seeing a flavored vodka, like our Square One Cucumber. I mean, what does "Botanical" taste like? At 90 proof and with 8 organic botanicals - ranging from fruits to spices to herbs - it doesn't mix like a flavored vodka, nor is it a gin (no juniper) or an aquavit (no caraway). So we decided to shake up the stodgy government alcohol folks and are calling it a "Botanical Organic Spirit" which has the wonderfully boring legal classification of a "specialty spirit" in the eyes of the government. But beyond government legalese, its basically a new twist on what we think will be a new wave of spirits to come - Botanical Spirits with all kinds of different botanicals used that don't fit "neatly" into pre-existing categories like gin. We always said we wanted to do stuff that hadn't really been done much before, and Botanical is it! For full details, check out our press release found on our media page.

So now you are asking how to mix it, right? Well, with its lighter profile than most "botanical" spirits like gin or aquavit, and with more focus on the floral and fruit components of our botanical selection than the heavier medicinal herbs, I would just say to treat it gently . . . It is high proof, but it is still delicate. Two of my favorite cocktails where Botanical gets to play cocktail hero, are a variation on a Lemon Drop and a Smash cocktail. For the Botanical Drop, kick out the triple sec and use just a tiny rinse of the glass with absinthe instead. And instead of a regular sugar rim, why not try either a rose or lavender organic sugar (two of our 8 botanicals in our spirit) hand-made by our local Marin County friends at Allstar Organics. Our botanical loves other botanical spirits/liqueurs like absinthe, aperol, cynar, but only if the others are used with a light hand. My second one is a variation on a smash. It is still full-on summer peach season here in Northern California, so this is what I call "Peaches and Herb". With all the crushed ice, it is quite refreshing, but still packs a punch!

1) Muddle one thick slice of very ripe white peach with 2-3 lemon verbena leaves in the bottom of a rocks glass
2) Add a quick squirt of lemon (one barspoon at most) and an equal amount of agave nectar or simple syrup.
3) If you have it, a dash of Fee's Peach Bitters
4) Fill glass with crushed ice and pour in 1.5 to 2 oz. Square One Botanical (depending on how boozy you want your cocktail. Remember, this is a 90 proof spirit!)
5) Stir all ingredients and garnish with a thin peach slice with a lemon verbena leave poked through the middle. Be sure to eat the peach at the end. Its delicious!

Please help us spread the word about our new Botanical and email us at if you need to find out where to try it at a bar or buy it at retail.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Chocolate Cocktail

My second entry into the Schraffenberger chocolate contest was really fun to make. Who would think that organic vodka, smoky organic mezcal, chiles and other spices blended with chocolate would be so sublime. Great for a party instead of dessert. I guess I was still in Mexico mode on this one, just like my last entry!

Chocolate Fumado

Chocolate-Chile Syrup
2 c. water
1 dried chile guajillo, cut into strips, stem removed
2 dried chiles pasilla, cut into strips, stem removed
2 tbsp. coriander seed
2 tbsp. piloncillo or dark brown sugar
1 oz. Scharffen Berger Extra Dark 82% cacao chocolate plus extra for garnish

Place water, chiles and coriander in a small saucepan and boil on medium-high until reduced to ¾ cup, about 20-25 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain liquid into a small, clean saucepan. Add piloncillo and chocolate and stir until completely melted and reduced to ½ cup. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a small pitcher with pour spout or a small squeeze bottle. Makes 4 servings.

Cocktail Ingredients for 1 cocktail
1.5 oz. Square One Organic Vodka
.5 oz. Del Maguey organic Crema de Mezcal (for a less smoky version, use Del Maguey Santo Domingo Albarradas mezcal)
1 oz. chocolate-chile syrup
.5 oz. organic half and half
Shaved chocolate and Rimmer blend* for garnish (*Optional –kosher salt, super fine sugar, guajillo chile powder and Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa powder)

Using a 3-piece cocktail shaker, pour all liquid ingredients into shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. Strain into rimmed highball glass and garnish with shaved chocolate.

*Optional rimmer garnish: If you like the heat and smoke of guajillo chiles, combine 3 parts super fine sugar, 3 parts kosher salt, 1 part guajillo chile powder and 1 part Scharffen Berger cocoa powder and place on small plate. Place small amount of Crema de Mezcal in a low, wide bowl or rimmed plate. Dip rim of glass into mzcal, then into rimming blend, rotating slightly to fully coat the rim.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Choconegro Delicioso

How come it doesn't surprise me that the only way to get me blogging again is to put me in my kitchen coming up with new cocktail recipes? The creative juices are flowing and while I still have some more fun ideas to come up with, my first attempt for the TuttiFoodie and Scharffen Berger recipe contest was a pretty good one if I may say so myself. I was in "Mexico" mode, so 4 Copas Organic Tequila was my libation of choice (stay tuned for the ones I'm working on with Square One Organic Vodka. They are still infusing!) and I had to find a way to use some of the fantastic dark chocolates from Scharffen Berger. So I submitted the Choconegro Delicioso. The inspiration came from 3 hot coffee drinks that I like from different eras - Cafe de Olla (mexican coffee steeped with spices), Irish Coffee, and the now ubiquitous Starbucks Caramel Mocha, which I have indulged in only a few times but found to be very comforting on a rainy day. This version is served cold, in a tall narrow tube glass or champagne flute. Not so sweet that it tastes like dessert, but sweet enough to maybe play a dual role as an iced coffee and a sweet treat!

The "secret ingredient" for this recipe that adds an extra "yum" factor, is whole coriander seeds infused into both the coffee-chocolate liquid and the caramel whipped cream.

6 tbsp ground coffee, medium roast and preferably Mexican/Latin American origin
5 c. water
1 large stick of Mexican canela (cinnamon) or 2 small sticks
¼ tsp. anise seed
2 oz. Scharffen Berger Semi-Sweet 62% dark chocolate plus extra for garnish
2 tbsp. coriander seeds
6 tbsp. piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar)*
1 ½ c. heavy whipping cream
10 oz. 4 Copas Organic Reposado tequila or other reposado tequila (1 oz. per cocktail)

In a standard drip coffee maker, put cinnamon stick, 1 tbsp. of the coriander, anise seed, 2 oz. chocolate and 3 tbsp. of the piloncillo into the bottom of the coffee pot. Make coffee using 6 tbsp. of ground coffee and 4 cups of water (reserving extra 1 c. of water for other use). Let coffee remain on heating unit for 30 minutes to infuse the spices into the coffee. After coffee has infused for 30 minutes, using a very fine mesh strainer, strain coffee-chocolate liquid into a medium bowl. Cool to room temperate.

While coffee is infusing, prepare Coriander-Caramel whipped cream. Put 1 c. water and 1 tbsp. of coriander seeds into small saucepan. Boil on high until liquid is reduced to ¼ cup. Add 3 tbsp piloncillo and cook for two more minutes until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and using a fine mesh strainer, strain liquid into small bowl. Discard coriander seeds. Cool to room temperate. In a medium sized metal bowl, whip whipping cream until it barely forms soft peaks. Add cooled coriander caramel and stir (not whip) until integrated. It should be thick but able to be poured. If not, add some liquid whipping cream to thin it out. Pour into small pitcher.. Refrigerate until use.

To make cocktail, using a 3 piece shaker, add 3 oz. coffee-chocolate-spice mixture and 1 oz. tequila to shaker. Fill with ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into tall tube or flute glass. Using a barspoon or teaspoon, invert the spoon and slowly pour about 1 ½ oz. cream over the back of the spoon so that it slowly layers onto coffee mixture (like an Irish Coffee) without mixing. Using a microplane or fine grater, shave some more Scharffen Berger chocolate onto cream as garnish. Serve immediately.

Recipe makes approximately 10 servings.

*Can be sourced at Latin markets or may substitute with light brown sugar

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Celery Cup #1 - gotta try it!

We were so fortunate to have been invited by reknowned Mixologist and U.S. Slow Food Chair of the Board of Directors, Allen Katz, to be one of the spirits to be showcased at Slow Food Nation 08 in San Francisco over Labor Day Weekend. My only regret is that between making my own heirloom tomato water (from NoCal farm - Smith Family Farm - ) from Red Flame and Golden Brandywine heirlooms, and then shaking our own cocktails during two shifts on Saturday and Sunday, that I didn't get to attend as many of the events myself. But being able to show people what we mean by Slow Food-style cocktails was worth the sore shoulders (from shaking cocktails above my shoulder) the sore palm (from banging loose my mixing glass from the Boston shaker) and sore fingers (from grabbing the muddling stick every 10 seconds!)! For those of you who missed it, check out our cocktail recipes on our website that were used during Slow Food. With our organic rye-based Square One Organic Vodka, we muddled fresh basil and strawberries from County Line Harvest, a member of Marin Organic to make a more sophisticated version of a Strawberry Cooler. And while our Brand Ambassador, H. Joseph Ehrmann, was wowing the crowds with his Celery Cup #1, (photo here) a riff on the classic Pimm's Cup #1, I was busy making an "August Sun" with our Square One Cucumber, heirloom tomato water, muddled basil and sungold cherry tomatoes, Lisbon Lemon Juice from McEvoy Ranch, a touch of organic agave nectar, and of course, a hearty shake! Don't take it from me, just read what some of the other bloggers had to say about these two cocktails: and

Hope everyone tries to make it out for Slow Food Nation next year!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2+ Years in the Making - Square One Cucumber is here!

Boy, this one was a bear . . . From before we even launched our Square One Organic Rye Vodka back in April 2006, we knew our second product would be a delicious organic cucumber flavored vodka. Except the imagined taste in my mouth of fresh cucumbers and the light "spa-water"-like flavor in summery cocktails was harder to bring to life than any of us ever imagined. But persistence and patience are virtues they say, so while it came out more than a year later than anticipated, we are thrilled that Square One Cucumber is now available in many states across the U.S. Visit out website for all kinds of great cocktail recipes to make with Cucumber, but for the pool this summer, stick to our Watermelon Refresher and you will be the new BFF in your neighborhood. Feel free to send us your recipes too as we love getting new ideas and posting them on our site!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Enter the "Square Off" Organic Cocktail Competition

In case you haven't been paying attention, fake flavored, syrupy cocktails are out, and fresh ingredient cocktails are in! Our friends over at with the support of local San Francisco non-profit Om Organics are helping showcase fresh ingredient organic cocktails by hosting the 1st Annual "Square Off" organic cocktail competition. Online entry deadline is August 31st, so enter fast! Open to both professionals and amatuers, the winner from each of those two categories will come out to San Francisco in September to compete head to head in front of a live audience. To enter as a competitor or to buy tickets to the online event go to

As you've heard us say before, we are a small artisanal spirits company going up against the big brands with big dollars but we are happy to say that consumers out there are smart, and know when they see and taste an authentic and top-quality product that goes beyond marketing hype. That has been repeated back to us time and time again by our customers in the restaurants, bars and retailer across the country and the consumers too. Being entrepreneurs in a competitive space is tough, but thanks to feedback like that and the support of so many people out there like our Make Mine a Million and Count Me In supporters, we are winding down summer with a splash, heading into the fall season lots of fun things to do, like the Square Off cocktail competition. Come out and join us and visit our fair city of San Francisco at the best time of year (fogless) - September!


Friday, July 27, 2007

NOLA - Tales of the Cocktail - Whew!!!!

All you have to do is do a Google search for "Tales of the Cocktail" and you'll see tons of posts from spirits journalists, bloggers, consumers, mixologists and a few other fun folks who were all part of Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans July 18-23rd. All the "greats" in the biz were there - Gary Regan, Dale Degroff, Tony Abou-Ganim, David Wondrich, and more than I can mention. A lot of up and comers in the biz were also there, and might I say, a nice presence of awesome female mixologists, journalists and spirits lovers. It was a great time and we all felt that in our own little way, we were helping New Orleans by being there, and by tipping heavily of course . . .

Square One Organic Vodka, in keeping with our approach to Culinary Cocktails (something akin to bringing your kitchen skills to the bar) was a proud sponsor of a seminar entitled "From Farm to Glass, Greenmarket Mixology". Together with an incredibly talented Allen Katz, a NY-based mixologist and director of Slow Food NY, along with Ann Baker and Warren Smith -local Louisiana farmers - and Lorin Gaudin as our esteemed moderator, we chatted with the audience about organics (Square One of course) and the rapid rise of fresh ingredient cocktails. Apple martinis that taste like apples, not a Jolly Rancher for example! It was refreshing to hear the comments after the seminar that people now understand why we go to such painstaking lengths to make our organic rye vodka under such costly and restrictive standards. If you are going fresh (and hopefully organic), then you should go with top quality spirits as well, and we fit that bill.

Our Brand Ambassador and Mixologist, H. Joseph Ehrmann was all over town. He mixed some amazing cocktails under the guidance of Allen Katz and fellow mixologist colleague Francesco Lafranconi for a "Spirited Dinner" we attended at Giovanni's in the French Quarter. Drinks you can't even BEGIN to fathom. When we finally shut the place down and were all walking back to the hotel for our nightcap, Francesco wheeled out a "bar kit" that was bigger than most trunks. That is when I knew that the trend towards culinary cocktails is here to stay, and is no longer a trend!

H. (as all of his friends and fellow mixologists call him) was also an invited participant in a really fun Bar Chef competition hosted by Mr. King Cocktail himself, Dale Degroff, and Kevin Brauch from the Food Network TV Show "The Thirsty Traveler". Alongside 5 other top-notch mixologists, he gave it his all, but alas, did not come out on top. That honor went to Bridget Albert, one of the best mixologists from the Windy City. She made the girls proud! Be on the lookout for it on Food Network TV soon.

Heading into the fall, we have lots more going on, so stay tuned to our entrepreneurial endeavors in the world of spirits and cocktails!