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.