Red Bull Soapbox Race

Seems like a good idea for the first 150 ft.

Seems like a good idea for the first 150 ft.

Red Bull does not disappoint when it comes to mixing fun with a heavy dose of crazy. The infamous Soapbox Races returned to Elysian Park in Los Angeles, California on Sunday. After a six-year hiatus crowds lined the streets to watch adrenaline junkies race non-motorized soapboxes through sharp chicanes, corners and jumps in hopes of even reaching the finish line.

 

The VIP area was very colorful with the new James Haunt artist bottles.

The VIP area was very colorful with the new James Haunt artist bottles.

For those watching from the sidelines, Trust Me Vodka had the privilege of supplying ice cold cocktails for Sunday Funday. While 70 hand selected entries waited their turn to blast the downhill, our own James Haunt debuted his new bottles while doing some live painting that fit the race scene perfectly and kept the VIPs cool and happy.

James Haunt and Trust Me Vodka takeover Carlsbad

Trust Me Vodka and LA based artist James Haunt recently got together to brainstorm on how to introduce our newest bottle art, starting in our own backyard. Beautiful beaches, weather and women all seem to be the standard in this sunny Southern California beach town. As summer winds down we realized it's never too late to add our own touch of beauty to a city that seems to celebrate summer year round. In nearly 12 hours James Haunt and a small team of friends got together to give the town a facelift on 2 of Carlsbad Village's most visible locations. The added color and beauty is something you can't miss and is worth the trip to see with your own eyes. We predict a social media spike for anyone that jumps in front of these for their next selfie. Enjoy a behind the scenes look at the process with our newest artist James Haunt.

Summer Drink Recipes with Vodka Infusions

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

This summer, we thought we’d try something new for our recipes. Thanks to bloggers like Nick Hines over at Vinepair and Justine Sterling at Supercall, we got the idea to infuse our vodka with local herbs, fruits and teas using a French press. Vodka infusions done without a press take 24-48 hours. With the French press, you can get great results in under 20 minutes. Head over to Chino Farms in Del Mar for specialty herbs and fruit if you feel like experimenting with some novel ingredients, which we did. Special thanks to Searsucker in Del Mar for letting us play Swedish Chef in your back bar and sorry about the mess! 

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

 

Hot, Sticky, Sweaty

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

 

½ muddled peach

½ muddled Cavaillon melon

¼ tsp marigold lemon tea leaves

4 crushed fresh lemon balm leaves

½ crushed fresh cayenne pepper

1 C Chilled Trust Me Organic Vodka

 

Add all ingredients to a French press, stir vigorously, allow to steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on how long it takes for you to wash your sticky, cayenne pepper-infused hands. Press, pour into chilled glass and garnish with fresh cantaloupe chunks and lemon balm leaves. Warning: Don’t touch your eyes for a good 20 minutes after washing your hands.

 

 

When Life Gives You a Cucumber

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

 

2 Hamburger Cucumbers, peeled and muddled

Six sprigs of Anisum seedlings

½ juiced Eureka lemon

1 C Gluten Free Trust Me Vodka

Dash of simple syrup or agave

 

Make Cucumber-ade! Add all ingredients to a French press, stir vigorously, let steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on your patience level. Press, pour into glass with ice and garnish with lemon peel and sprinkled herbs. Then drink and cheer up.

 

 

The Floor is Lava

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

Image courtesy Tricia Meeter Equinox Photo

12 French Strawberries, stems off and muddled

5-6 Fresh mint springs, crushed

2 hibiscus tea bags

1 C Trust Me Gluten Free Vodka

 

Put everything into a French press, stir, let steep for 5 minutes, pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a strawberry and mint leaves. Don’t let your feet touch the floor until it’s all gone.

 

Mixology Tips

 

  • To muddle the fruit and herbs, you can use a mortar and pestle, or just throw the fruit in a blender or food processor. Roll the herbs into a little bouquet and crush with the flat side of a knife if you don’t have a mortar and pestle and toss everything in the French press.
  • How long you leave the vodka in the French press really changes the flavor. Play with the amount of time you let it sit and note the results.
  • How much vodka you add also contributes. We aren’t the vodka police, so take the 1 C advice loosely. Keep in mind that if you add more vodka it will dilute the flavor, so if you want more drinks, double the whole recipe to maintain the same flavor profile.
  • We only added a little agave or simple syrup to one drink, as the ripe fruit was sweet enough on its own.   

Vodka Drink Recipes to Ring Out the Old, Ring In the New Year

Our friend and bar chef/mixologist Henry Schmulling from North Carolina came up with these recipes just for Trust Me Vodka. We thought they would be perfect for summing up 2016 and bringing in the New Year. Start out with Contradiction to reflect upon 2016 and usher in the new year with Self Discovery. Enjoy and let us know what you think!

Vodka drink recipes from bar chef/mixologist Henry Schmulling

Vodka drink recipes from bar chef/mixologist Henry Schmulling

 

Zach, the Bar Manager from Decoy, Once Spent $55 on a Cocktail!

Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos Bar Area

Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos Bar Area

Decoy restaurant and bar, part of the Eat.Drink.Sleep hospitality development group, opened at the end of summer 2016. Decoy brings local, fresh and seasonal California-style food to inland North County San Diego. The lakeside lodge-themed restaurant sits right on the dock at Lake San Marcos. We caught up with Zachary Heidrich, Bar Manager from Decoy in San Marcos on his day off to ask him a few questions about the bar business and how it’s evolving in San Diego.

What trends are you seeing in the San Diego bar industry?

A lot of bars right now are headed more towards pre-prohibition style cocktail programs. But everybody is doing their own twist to those cocktails…I have a huge passion for whiskey cocktails, but in reality, I love any [cocktail] that can balance the sour with the bitter. I’m trying to use fresher ingredients to get a better taste, not just dumping sugar and syrup into everything.

How do you think mixology compares to the craft beer trend and where do you see it going in the future?

Everybody is trying to be healthier and just make one product different from the next. But everyone is sharing now, which I feel is interesting. I was always taught not to give away my recipes, but now when you go out to bars everyone is letting you in on everything.

Which drinks did you come up with for the Decoy cocktail menu?

Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos Cocktail Menu

Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos Cocktail Menu

I made all the cocktails on that menu. My personal favorite is “Heid” the Sour, made with whiskey and egg white. The Living Martini with Trust Me Organic Vodka is also fantastic. It’s a twist on an old Sidecar, using vodka instead [of brandy], a grand poppy orange liqueur, a little lemon juice and simple syrup. It’s extremely refreshing, and you get the right amount of bitter throughout the cocktail. I serve it in a martini glass with an orange peel.

How did you get started as a mixologist?

I’ve been in bartending for about ten years. I was working in ski resorts and I thought, Let’s start making a nicer drink than just a Jack and Coke. Let’s just start twisting it and playing with it. And then it was just groups of friends…we’d make different drinks all night to see what worked. Then we’d take it to the bar and try to sell it. Now I’m in an awesome position where I can really…do what I’d like to do and have some fun.    

The Bar at Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos 

The Bar at Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos 

How did you get the idea to put organic vodka on the menu? Were people asking for it?

People did start asking for it. Then Brett [Miller, President and CEO of Eat.Drink.Sleep] said to try Trust Me Vodka. I tried it and I thought if I had my way and wasn’t working for a separate company I think it would be fun to battle all the large name brands. It’s fun to show people something new, and try to get them off whatever brand they may be privy to. But it’s hard as a bartender, because [patrons] don’t want to hear that you don’t [carry]…all those big name brands out there.

What’s your process in making new cocktails for the Decoy menu?

Normally I collaborate with my chef and the other bartenders, but also [consider] what’s going on in the area to see if this spirit will sell before that spirit or what the weather may be like. I always ask my bartenders, because if they can make [something] they are proud of then they will sell it….

What bars do you like to go to for inspiration?

I love North Park but I can’t go down there all the time because I end up going to awesome bars and drinking too much and then having to pay for an expensive Uber ride home. Polite Provisions cocktail program is second-to-none in my opinion. It’s really neat going down there and watching what people are doing and just trying to understand it.

How much are people willing to pay for a cocktail? How do you set the price point?

We price it out and do our calculations. I’m a fairly young person, but I don’t bat an eyelash at spending $12 for a cocktail if it tastes great.

John Hancock Building Chicago. Home of the $55 cocktail. 

John Hancock Building Chicago. Home of the $55 cocktail. 

What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a cocktail?

I’ve spent $55 on a cocktail. But that was in Chicago, at the top of the John Hancock Building in a cocktail bar.

Was it worth it?

Not really. It was an Old Fashioned. But it was really about the view in that bar. You’re on top of the city and you can see everything.

If you go drinking can you write it off as Research and Development?

[Laughs]I probably could but I don’t think it’s the best time to approach my ownership group about that.

Should you limit the number of ingredients in a craft cocktail?

Not necessarily. I have one cocktail that has nine different ingredients. It’s really about being careful you don’t go too heavy on one ingredient over another, so it’s not incredibly sweet or super sour or too bitter. You want to have the right balance of everything, regardless of the spirit.

How many cocktail choices are optimal on a menu?

That depends on what kind of bar you are going for. I’ve always had about ten, but I think that the most I’ve ever had is fifteen. The problem I’ve encountered, is that if you have too many options and you spread it out, people might forget about one drink that’s a great drink, [because] they get stuck with theirs.

Right now, what we are trying to do is educate our bar staff and get them thinking along one path. If they know how to mix this spirit with that spirit…then they eventually can build any kind of cocktail, if they understand what the liqueurs are doing and can really pull out that flavor.

egg.jpg

Favorite ingredient in a drink besides the base spirit?

We were making some of our garnishes at the last bar where I worked and doing our own brandy cherries and even some of our own bitters, at one point. We had a Manhattan where the “Man” was in quotations, so we did a smoked maple syrup in house, then put a vanilla glaze on a piece of bacon and [added those] to a traditional Manhattan as a garnish. It was really fun. The egg white is probably my favorite ingredient to add now because people like to watch and ask questions and it gets people thinking.

Do you follow any other mixologists on social media? 

The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender's Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy

The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender's Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy

I go to a lot of different bars to see what they’re doing. I read a lot of books. I follow the Please Don’t Tell bartenders from New York and their cocktail program. They made a Speakeasy program that really, really worked and took off there for a number of years and is still working today.

 

 

 

Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos Bar

Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos Bar

Any final thoughts?

It’s just really about the education and what your staff knows. You can have the best Mixologist or Cocktail Leader in any business but if your staff can’t talk about the cocktails then you’re not going to achieve whatever you’re looking for. 

Homemade Organic Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua) in 5 Clicks

Trust Me Vodka Make your own organic kahlua coffee liqueur

Trust Me Vodka Make your own organic kahlua coffee liqueur

 
Death Wish Organic Coffee

Death Wish Organic Coffee

2. Ridiculously strong good quality espresso coffee. Death Wish Certified Organic Coffee. $20

 

 
Frontier Co-Op Organic Vanilla Extract

Frontier Co-Op Organic Vanilla Extract

 

Trust Me Vodka Ultra Premium Vodka

Trust Me Vodka Ultra Premium Vodka

4.  Ultra-premium Trust Me Organic Vodka. Use code SHIPPING at checkout. $30

 

 

Wholesome Sweetener Organic Sugar

Wholesome Sweetener Organic Sugar

5.  Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Cane Sugar (bought through Amazon fulfillment) $10

 

 

Wash your bottles, let them air dry and use this easy homemade kahlua recipe from Attainable-Sustainable.  Tip: Don’t let it sit 4 weeks. 1-2 will do. 

Extra credit: Make some “artisan” labels. Print them online at Avery for $11 if you’re in a hurry and money is no object. 

Or, if you have less money and decent handwriting, use these hangtag labels for $7

Double your recipe by ordering one more bottle of Trust Me Organic Vodka. The leftovers are for you! Store the remaining ounces in your empty Trust Me Vodka bottles.