On Saturday, December 2nd, The Baker House 1650 in partnership with Domaine Select Wine & Spirits, hosted the exclusive event “Cocktails & Conversation – An Evening with Award-Winning Mixologist Tad Carducci.” This sold-out event was held from 4-7pm and was attended by locals and visitors alike. The exclusive demonstration by mixologist Tad Carducci of the Tippling Bros included the art of mixology with four holiday cocktails. Guests received recipe cards for the demonstrated cocktails and copies of Carducci’s book, A Lime and A Shaker.
Tad Carducci is a bartender, mixologist, and restauranteur. He noted that he has been in the restaurant business since he was 14, or about 30 years. He has crafted cocktails and studied mixology for 15 years. His book, A Lime and A Shaker, primarily focuses on craft cocktails with tequila and mezcal.
The Baker House set up a beautiful cheese and charcuterie board in their dining room to pair with the four craft cocktails each of the guests had the opportunity to try. Carducci commenced the event with a discussion on Punch including its history and origin. During the holidays, punch is a staple cocktail. Punch dates back 500-600 years ago. Traditionally, the party didn’t end until the bowl was empty. Back then, they would continue to fill the bowl all night, thus the party went on and on. Could you imagine how sloshed everyone was in those days?
Punch is meant to be forgiving, a little of this and that. By the book, it is made with the following ratios: 1 part strong, 2 sweet, 3 sour, 4 weak, and ice or water. Punch means ‘five’ thus punch is based on five ingredients. Vermouth is great for punch and cocktails. A traditional sweetener for Punch is Port. Punch is meant to serve over the course of the party and is lighter than cocktail strength. The taste and depth of Punch changes and morphs as you get to the bottom of the bowl.
Where does the cocktail come from? It is most widely accepted that it was created around 1800 as a civilized way to drink in the morning. Mixology is all about creating your own spin on cocktails. Back in the early 1800’s, men would go to the horse races in the morning and it was where they did business. This generation drank more than anyone in history. “The founding fathers were pie-faced all day practically,” laughed Carducci. Tavern keepers would come up with creations so they could have a morning after drink. This was also known as cocktail horses. They started calling concoctions a cocktail: spirit, sugar, water and bitters. An old fashioned cocktail was whiskey, sugar, water and bitters.
As we sipped our cocktails, Carducci gave us pointers on how to create the perfect cocktail, breaking each of the ingredients and steps down with demonstrations and answering questions from the guests. “A garnish should always be edible or aromatic and have something to do with the cocktail,” said Carducci.
Forget the phrase: shaken not stirred. There are some cocktails that must be served stirred and some that must be shaken. “Remember, shaking creates more air, which wakes up and lightens the cocktail verses stirring, which chills, dilutes, and combines the ingredients. You want the taste to be unctuous with a stirred cocktail, you want it to slide down.” For making cocktails at home, you should have a mixing glass, a great bar spoon, and a shaker. When shaking, make sure to have full control of both glasses.
“Stirring is hardest thing to teach,” said Carducci. “Glue the back of your spoon to inside of glass all the way at the bottom, and use a push and pull motion through the wrist.”
The four craft cocktails we made were:
- Copa Europa Punch– recipe serves 20-25, a must for parties this season.
- The Count of Normandy– a before dinner drink. Removed the gin like in a Negroni (been around for 100 years) and replaced with Calvados (from Normandy).
- The Grass and Trees– The anise garnish ties flavor together.
- Dizzy Oaxacan– Taste of spiced ginger, a cocktail with lots of depth, a cult drink at Carducci’s restaurants. The salt on the grapefruit garnish is made with chilies.
Mezcal is a spirit made out of agave. It proceeded tequila by a couple hundred years. There are 400 types of agave grown in Mexico. Mezcal can be made from 50 varieties of agave.
My favorite was The Grass and Trees for which I have the recipe below. It was smooth and citrusy with a touch of spice, perfect for celebrating the holiday season. I love a great rum as it reminds me of celebrating Christmas in Antigua. I look forward to making this at home for my guests this month and throughout the winter.
Below is the recipe for The Grass and Trees, courtesy of Tad Carducci.
The Grass and Trees
- 1.5 oz. Ron Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum
- .75 oz. Skinos Mastiha Spirit
- .75 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
- 2 dashes Angostura or bitters of choice
- Shake all ingredients together in a shaker.
- Strain into a well-chilled coupe or Martini glass. Garnish with star anise pod.
Tad Carducci is a lifelong bartender, award-winning mixologist and general bon vivant, with twenty-five years experience in the hospitality industry. He is one half of the dynamic duo known as the Tippling Bros., a New York based beverage consultancy dedicated to “spirituous advisement and raising of the bar.” He has won several major awards and national cocktail competitions and has judged, organized and emceed a few as well. Carducci is a partner in the Mercadito Hospitality group (winner of several regional and national awards, including the 2011 Cheers Benchmark of Excellence for Best Cocktail Lounge and 2013 Beverage Innovator of the Year), with restaurants in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Miami.
The Baker House 1650 is open year round.
http://www.bakerhouse1650.com // 631-324-4081