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SHAKERS > inspiring spirits


The Luciano Barbera Club





Luxury Fashion for Women Henry Christ Beate Heymann Manila Grace Annette Gortz

La Rambla Building, Lincoln 2 S.W. of Ocean Avenue Carmel-by-the- Sea, CA 93921 Club di Lusso 831.293.8755 TheClubdiLusso.com Luciano Barbera Club 831.250.7648 LucianoBarberaClub.com

8 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka 4 oz elderflower liqueur or grapefruit soda 1 750-ml bottle rosé wine 12 oz Fresca 1 whole lemon, cut into small wedges 1 whole lime, cut into half-wheels 4 cups fresh cut melon Combine Tito’s Handmade Vodka, rosé, and elderflower liqueur in a large jar or pitcher. Cut citrus and melons and add to liquid. Allow to sit, refrigerated and covered, for about four hours. Before serving, add ice and Fresca, and gently stir. Ladle sangria into punch cups or wine goblets, making sure that each portion receives some of the cut fruit as a garnish.

here’s what’s shakin’

Last issue a photo of Jim Nance should have been credited to Tom O'Neal. Shakers regrets the error.

opening toast

the idea • distilled to stir curiosity around a booming industry and the personalities that make it shake.

Publisher Ryan Sanchez Art Director Manny Espinoza Editor at Large Mark C. Anderson Photographers Manny Espinoza, Mark C. Anderson, Bill Cox, Rich Rama Contributing Writers Otis Conklin, Adam Joseph, Heidi Licata, Juanita Rose, Stuart Thornton, Xania V. Woodman, Katie Shea Advertising 831-236-1998 SHAKERS MAGAZINE 831-277-6013 | www.shakersmag.com P.O. Box 1752 Monterey, CA 93942

I love to travel, for a lot of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that it presents me with discoveries and new ideas every time. Every visit to Vegas I learn a different way to think about branding, promotions or products. Each time I jump over to Europe I learn something about history, food, wine, family, myself, or all five. Another big reason I like it: It reminds me how good it is to come home— how much I love Carmel, where I grew up in the aisles of a grocery store, on the basketball court and on the beach. Not everyone is so lucky to call California home, and I’m grateful to do it myself. This publication focuses on the beverages and people of my native Central Coast (Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel, Santa Cruz), San Francisco/Napa, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but seeks out revelations wherever we can find them. This edition of Shakers, our sixth, welcomes in a little more of the world than normal. That's in large part because we welcome back founding editor Mark C. Anderson (now our editor-at-large), who is checking out cafes, beverages and cocktails in places like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Barcelona, with more to come (see p. 54); wine in Arizona's high desert (p. 32); and great personalities in the industry, like we do each issue, including the one and only Pisoni wine family (p. 12). But it's also because a good drink takes you places and brings you home. Done right, it keeps you grounded—in the local ingredients, used with respect, that let you know where that recipe is coming from, wherever in the world that might be. Cheers,

Ryan Sanchez, publisher

LABELS WE LOVE Ke e p Yo u r G i n U p

Bloom • Honeysuckle-inspired • Warrington, England • bloomgin.com Anchor • Sweet pot-distilled • San Francisco, California • hotalingandco.com Monkey 47 • Hyper-botanical-forward • Black Forest, Germany • monkey47.com Re-Find• Artisan grape and grain soul • Paso Robles, California • refinddistillery.com Sipsmith • Copper-pot pioneers • London, England • sipsmith.com Aviation • Pre-Prohibition style • Pacific Northwest, USA • aviationgin.com


TA S T E M A K E R S Santa Lucia Highlands


Pisoni Vineyards makes key advancements as it keeps its core value, family, close to its heart. By Mark C. Anderson | Photos by Bill Cox


know the stories well. How Gary Pisoni smuggled a fortuitous Pinot clone through Italian customs—in his pants—by daring officials to frisk him, so to speak. How he spent nine mad years trucking water into dry hills and drilling for water in the Santa Lucia Highlands before he struck an aquifer—and then rolled in the mud to celebrate. How he’d seduce worldly winemakers to buy his grapes by tasting them on homemade juice he made in his garage.



know what the vineyard parties can be like. There is no wine experience like riding with Pisoni (pictured, opposite page) in his 1959 Jeep with glasses of Pinot splashing around as he takes sudden turns and points out the woodfired hot tub, the al fresco shower, and the spot where partner winemakers conceived babies between vines. Out there overlooking the valley and grilling meats on the patio, the toasts and the tales get bigger as the wine bottles accumulate, and are both tall and true. The parties often spill into the hand-dug cellar at his Gonzales farmhouse. When ours did, there was no way I was leaving. So I sent my photographer/designated driver home, slept on the bear-skin rug in front of the fire and caught the city bus home. The point is this: The Pisoni stories flow in quantity and quality, and will for a long time to come, but only one is the most fundamental, and my favorite. It was there at the start and will be there at the end. It is one of family: This juggernaut started with Pisoni’s parents farming lettuce and other row crops along their humble Gonzales stretch of the Salinas Valley, and will only get better as his sons continue to take greater and greater control. Their grandmother Jane still helps handle the business bookkeeping, into her 90s, while providing perspective only she can. "Eddie and I used to work together, and it is great to see the family continuing that tradition,” she says. “I enjoy watching the different generations put their imprint on the land we love." The brothers, who stomped grapes as toddlers, fermented grapes in mason jars by middle school and made their own wine in high school, started helping with day-to-day operations in their early 20s. Some interesting developments make their contributions all the more momentus right now. They include a deepening dedication to biodiversity, shiny new winemaking technology and an idyllic orchard. Vineyard Manager Mark Pisoni calls the new grove of trees “a small nod to Dad and our late Grandfather,” complete with 40 different species that range into the exotic—Buddha’s hand, Yuzu lime, feijoa—but remain practical, as they give the new (and adjacent) insectary and its beehives a flowery playground, and furnish ranch employees fresh fruit. “We have a greater focus now on being harmonious with nature,” says Mark, who reports he’s become obsessed with the bees and their energy. “And this coincides with making great wine.” Meanwhile, Papa Pisoni is content to repeat what might be his favorite saying (among many): “One son grows the wine, the other makes the wine,” he says, “and I drink for a living.”


“One son grows the wine, the other makes the wine,” he says, “and I drink for a living.”




The roles came organically. “People often asked me if I planned out what I would do and what each kid would do,” Gary says. “But it was just natural. We all followed what we love to do and we were lucky we all loved something different.” He adds that he has to pinch himself perpetually because he loves working the vineyard so much: “It has not been work,” he says, “It has all been fun.” “It seems like just yesterday I was planting my first vineyard, and dreaming of making world-class wine,” he adds. “But now it is happening, and we are making wines better than I ever imagined.” His mom admits she was skeptical at the start. “All of us thought Gary was crazy when he wanted to plant grapes on our cattle ranch up in the mountains,” she says. “Eddie and I never could have imagined how well things have turned out."

The Wine Grower Mark Pisoni doesn’t plan on the second generation of winemakers in his family being the last. Far from it. “Now it’s all about fine-tuning and creating our long-term vision,” he says. “This means setting up the ranch so our grandkids can still be farming this same high-end vineyard and making great wine from here.” When asked which of his father’s sayings most resonates with him, Mark plucks one that, poetically enough, speaks to the soul of the winery Mark now works as closely as anyone: His favorite Pisoni saying is, “I talk to the grapes, and they talk back!”

“I talk to the grapes, and they talk back!”

Shakers caught up with Mark (pictured, p. 12), 40, and Jeff, 38, to talk about the state of the winery and take a peek into the Pisoni vision for the future. The interviews came right as the annual Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans’ annual Sun, Wind & Wine Gala celebrated its 12th annual installment Saturday, May 19, at Mer Soleil Winery in Salinas. (More at santaluciahighlands.com.)

“It’s classic Dad,” Mark says. “Funny but, at the same time, real—he studied psychology in school—and it shows his true and personal connection to every single vine at the ranch.”

That attentiveness started long before Santa Lucia Highlands earned its now internationally known name. “My father had the vision to plant grapes here long before it was even designated an appellation,” Mark says. “And he has a huge heart and loves people, so his generosity in sharing what he did with others helped the appellation grow—from the inside, as an industry with our colleagues, and also outside, with sharing and cooking for countless customers.”



Quantifying how far the AVA has come can be tricky, much like the Pinot grape. Mark comes back to the details to put it in context. “The hardest thing to think about is how much the thousands of seemingly tiny decisions throughout the entire farming and winemaking process all add up to make the real difference in the final wine,” he says, “and carrying through on these are the things that ultimately sets one apart for the highest level of quality.”

Those studies include a close look at the family’s phenological data dating back more than 30 years— everything from the effects of pruning, variation in bud break, veraison levels, harvest techniques and more, while comparing that against fruit quality, tannin and color.

The Winemaker

“We’re finding other ways to look at things and ultimately adapt our farming [and] winemaking to weather trends,” Jeff says.

One of the most exciting things about Pisoni Wines is that the brothers are really just getting warmed up.

Along the whole process, their brand of brotherhood remains unique among the region’s wineries.

“It seems like the more we learn, the more we want to explore,” says Jeff, who crafts the wine in Sonoma County, where the winemaking resources are more substantial. “I love gathering information about our vineyard and processes, so the more info we get, the more we can dive into new topics.”

“[Mark and I] have a shared vision, but the really special thing is our very balanced roles and responsibilities,” Jeff says. “I don’t think I have ever come across a sibling relationship like this. We all certainly know a lot of siblings that co-manage or run a family business, but not like this, where each sibling is trained and focused on either vineyard or winemaking. It really makes things feel symbiotic.”

In fact, the Pisonis recently acquired a new winemaking facility in Rohnert Park, next to Santa Rosa, that allows for more precise block-by-block wine processing. A new destemmer gives Jeff the ability to sort by berry size, kicking out small troublesome “bb”s and essentially allowing by-the-berry selectivity. A new press manages oxidation acutely by replacing oxygen with nitrogen or carbon dioxide and using an internal bladder that expands to squeeze out the juice. “This basically allows us to create a more unique expression of our wine and vineyards,” Jeff says. “Now that we are in


our own space, which is more efficient, we have more time and focus that we can dedicate to studying.”

He continues from there. “Grape growing and winemaking are inexplicably tied together so you need to be very close and work well together,” he says. “The fact that we both grew up making wine with Dad makes it all stronger.” > More at pisonivineyards.com.



2014 Albatross Ridge Estate Chardonnay 94 Points: Superb; A great achievement, "Best of Year 2016" - Wine Enthusiast 2014 Albatross Ridge Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 95 Points: Superb; A great achievement -Wine Enthusiast 2014 Albatross Ridge Cuyee Vivienne Pinot Noir 94 Points: Superb; A great achievement -Wine Enthusiast Just seven miles from the Pacific, atop a windswept ridge with ancient seabed soils, is one of California's most exciting vineyards. Discover why the estate-grown wines of Albatross Ridge are recognized as some of the finest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in California. Visit our tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea on Dolores Street between Ocean Avenue and Sixth. From 12 Noon daily Tasting room available to reserve for private parties. albatrossridge.com I info@albatrossridge.com

"One of the most dramatic vineyards in the entire state." - Wine Enthusiast 20

Albatross is pleased to introduce one of the most dramatic tasting rooms in the state. SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS


MIXING IT UP Pebble Beach Food & Wine




SPIRITS Carmel Valley



Pour Girl started humbly and now thrives on ingredient-driven, all-female approach. By Otis Conklin | Photos by Manny Espinoza


t’s all in the name—OK, maybe not all, but there is a good amount of meaning tucked inside the name Pour Girl Bartending.

Back in the day Olana Sullivan was a broke 24-year-old young woman mixing drinks to pay her way through college at CSU Monterey Bay. “I enjoyed the play on words, drew an amusing connection, and the business name came to me like a lightning bolt,” she says. “I knew then that I had to go for it.” “It” was launching her own cocktail career. The emphasis, then and now, is on invention—the play, the connection, the electricity.



“Steve Jobs said it best,” she says. “‘Creativity is the ability to connect experiences you’ve had and synthesize new things.’” That talent for novel inventions was on stage for a recent private fundraiser called Brass & Beignets: While The Preservation Hall Jazz Band played, Sullivan orchestrated a drink menu full of New Orleans-inspired head-turners like brandy milk punch, her own spin on Sazerac, Ramos gin fizzes, and complex Vieux Carrés. She’s not afraid to throw oblique ingredients in the mix to make things gel. At the moment she’s into the winebased aperitif Lillet, and likes deploying the Lillet Rosé with fresh pressed watermelon, vodka, Meyer lemon and a little club soda. “A perfect summer cocktail,” she says. “A spicy cayennesugar rim takes it home.” The way she rolls at parties with her friends—“I’m pretty much up to something at every function, and it really just depends what new bottles I am experimenting with, what is in season, and what I have on hand,” she notes—is a window into the way she wants to make the industry more accessible. “I always tell people to think of cocktail ingredients like a chef would think of his dinner ingredients; what flavors pair well together?” she says. “That is the first step and then it’s time to experiment. After a while, you’ll just know what will taste good together and you will be able to create well-balanced, lovely cocktails even before taste testing.” She demurs when asked what challenges she faces that male colleagues don’t. As with her drinks, she chooses to have fun instead. “My team and I have a joke about the ‘one guy’ at each event because often there’s one guy who either lingers at the bar a few moments too long or the one guy who tries to teach us how to make an extremely common cocktail because he knows best.”


“Not her style. Pour Girl is bad-ass, professional, beautifully decorated. When she shows up it is with passion and a sense of entertainment.”



She staffs entirely female, and takes pride when everything clicks, especially when it comes to running multiple bars at larger production events. “I like backing up the team and going beyond guest expectations,” she says. “There’s often a moment when I can pause and take it all in, and I feel so alive and grateful to witness our team of incredible ladies smiling and handling everything.” She grew up in Carmel Valley, where she was born at home and spent her youth, as she says, “running barefoot on the river banks, inner tubing at Arroyo Seco, and riding horses at Holman Ranch.” “The valley will always be my home, and my favorite place to work events,” she says. Another sort of professional fulfillment is also personal: making important events linger in clients’ minds. “We get numerous emails from newlyweds boasting our cocktails made their wedding nights amazing and that much more memorable,” she says. “Guests approach me at each event praising our cocktails and dedication.” Longtime friend and co-worker Melody Lewis has a handle on what sets Pour Girl apart in an increasingly competitive private event sector. “I think people hire a bar service fearing they will just get a human to do some drinks off in a corner,” Lewis says. “Not her style. Pour Girl is bad-ass, professional, beautifully decorated. When she shows up it is with passion and a sense of entertainment.” > More at pourgirlbartending.com.


“I always tell people to think of cocktail ingredients like a chef would think of his dinner ingredients.”





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“There are very few affordable, upscale opportunities for car enthusiasts to solve the never-ending challenge of where we can enjoy our passion away from our home garage — Monterey Motorsport Park is the solution on so many levels for motorsports aficionados and car collectors.” –GORDON MCCALL

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D E S T I N AT I O N Arizona Wine Country


Arizona wine country is surprisingly accessible and impressive. Story and Photos by Mark C. Anderson




he responses are predictable from most wine lovers, and even from Southwesterners themselves: They hear “Arizona wine country,” and reply with a “Huh?” or “Say what?”

That they continue to ripen under the radar of many wine enthusiasts proves great news for itinerant seekers-of-flavor, as it means it’s still a great time to visit, before larger crowds and higher prices come to town.

But while "Arizona wine" may sound like an oxymoron to the uninitiated, it will not stay that way long.

My introduction to Arizona’s emerging wine region appeared on the horizon like something out of a postmodern movie: A silver corrugated metal Quonset hut with a big sign reading Rune, surrounded by angular shade canvases, a Gulf Stream trailer and juvenile grape vines. The hut hosts reasonably priced wine tastings in a minimalist setting; the trailer plays home to assistant winemaker (and tasting room point man) Emmett Rahn-Oakes; and the Viognier, Grenache and Syrah vines were

The reason is simple enough. The small-but-savvy tribe of winemakers at work there—some who have been perfecting their game for decades—in the humble hills of little Sonoita and Elgin, an hour south of Tucson, are making some memorable grape juice.


carefully planted by Rune winemaker and owner James Callahan (pictured above). The whole spread runs completely, and proudly, off the grid. While only 35, Callahan brings some cred to this frontier—which happens to be a few miles from legendary shootout city Tombstone—having interned and cellar-mastered at places like Paddy Borthwick in New Zealand, Gramercy in Walla Walla, Washington, and celebrated Kosta Browne in Sonoma County’s Sebastapol. From 2014 on, he has crafted the wines for Pillsbury Wine Company in Wilcox; he also makes what goes in the bottles for Deep Sky (out of Sonoita). He finds the soils and elevation of the Sonoita AVA, Arizona’s first, does well with Rhône varietals. His Syrah, which calls out for a big dish of roasted duck

and raspberry desserts, reinforces his vision—and his style, which tends toward lean and European rather than big and extracted. That instinct is also expressed nobly in his Grenache. The labels each tell a fantasy-style story, but the real plotline is no fairy tale: As Callahan says, “Washington and Oregon have had their breakouts. We’re the next one in line.” Not far from Rune, also at roughly 5,000 feet above sea level, appears Callaghan Vineyards, a family-run operation of no relation genetically but a close cousin geographically, spiritually and in their devotion to European-style wines. They’ve been around a lot longer than Rune, harvesting a ton of prestigious awards. Their wines have also appeared at President SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS


Bill Clinton’s last state dinner and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement feast, and earned adoration from the likes of Robert Parker (“This is one of the most interesting wineries in America”) and former governor Janet Napolitano (who deemed it one of the state's treasures). Even Paris’ Le Monde newspaper got in on the love fest, calling it a “pioneer” that “symbolizes the spirit of the wines of the New World.” The tasting room looks like an Old West storefront, and inside the winemaking equipment furnishes a functional backdrop to wonders like limitedproduction Caitlin’s 2009 (born of 60 percent Petit Verdot and 40 percent Merlot and estate Cabernets), which is made to age gracefully. Another winery of the 13 in the immediate area to earmark is Dos Cabezas, yet another family-driven outfit whose winemakers Todd and Kelly Bostock were named among San Francisco Chronicle's "10 Winemakers to Watch for 2015.” The round and luscious Toscano red blend tastes like a bargain at $30, and almost all the other wines are more affordable; the deliciously clever méthode Champenoise-style Arizona dry pink sparkling—in a can—sells out with a quickness. It provides another drinkable and picnic-friendly reason the state motto Ditat Deus—in Latin, “God enriches”—refers as much to the fine wines of Arizona's high desert as anything else. > More at runewines.com, callaghanvineyards.com and doscabezas.com.




California has 17 grape producing complex and sustainably farming this 38

e crush districts. District 7 is Monterey County, a windy and cool coastal region known for balanced wines. For nearly 50 years, the Scheid family and their dedicated employees have been s remarkable land. Amazing Place | Amazing Wines




M I XO LO G I ST Las Vegas


By Xania V. Woodman

Lead Intoxicologist’ Eric Hobbie takes his place at the center of the Las Vegas casino bar rebirth with the debut of two major new venues.



veryone’s got a go-to person in Vegas. Need a deal on something? I got a guy. Looking for a hookup at the club? Go see my girl! And for the last 13 years, if what you needed was a great drink, a straight shooter and a word-as-bond kinda vibe, bartender Eric Hobbie was your man.

Scenes of past interactions with Hobbie have usually centered around one of two things: cocktails or family— or sometimes both, like the time he toted his infant daughter in her car seat to the preliminary round of a local magazine’s cocktail competition. (Relax, it was a written test; she slept like a baby, so to speak.) Cut to early 2017 to catch Hobbie pouring water into a moss-covered and mushroom-studden treasure box full of dry ice for the highly theatrical reveal of his Black Moth Truffle Vodka cocktail competition entry, talking up the drink’s intensely earthy flavors to the judges with his distinctly New York brogue. And then, seemingly out of the blue, Hobbie, now 36 with a wife and two young children, announced he’d be exiting bar life to open a food truck. Long nights behind the bar would be replaced with long days behind the pass in his truck, A Family Secret. But before he could even really get that project going, opportunity came with an offer one doesn’t typically refuse. ••• Hobbie arrived in Las Vegas at the age of 23, having been “shipped off” from his hometown of Hicksville, Long Island, at the suggestion of the family lawyer. “I used to run with a lot of knuckleheads,” Hobbies says. “My father had some friends who lived out here, and he was like, ‘You'll be looked after; you need a clean slate.’ I did, because a lot of the guys I roamed with, half of them are dead, half of them are in prison. You know, I just got caught up. I watched Goodfellas too many times.”


Fire & Ice (Camden Cocktail Lounge) One of Hobbie’s first recipes, created during his time at Restaurant Charlie in The Palazzo. Borrowing its title from a Robert Frost poem, the drink is a play on spicy and cooling, with sage-and-jalapeño-infused gin, poured over jalapeño cotton candy.

Sorbetto & Bubbles (Camden Cocktail Lounge) A twist on the Italian scroppino, the drink is summery and fresh, with a raspberry and lemon sorbetto base, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur and tequila topped with rose water and gold-dusted raspberries.

If you think Hobbie is abashed by his hijinks as a young adult, you’re wrong. “I don't regret anything I've ever done in my life, because everything that I've done has made me who I am,” he says. “My friends know I'm one of those guys you can call at four in the morning, no matter what, and I'm going to be like, ‘Whose car are we taking?’” Having worked in bars and restaurants since he was 16 (albeit illegally), Hobbie hit the ground running, and thanks to a little creative license on his application, slid right into a bartending position just as Jet Nightclub was opening in The Mirage in 2005. A real turning point came in 2007 after chef Charlie Trotter opened his eponymous Restaurant Charlie in The Palazzo. It was here that Hobbie admits he grew up. “I really did not know about food till Trotter,” Hobbie says of the late chef. “That's where my mind opened up: Why not? Why not get creative? “I was always creative as a kid,” he continues. “Before [Restaurant Charlie], I was just having fun in the club, but this was like, I could do this for a living, switch gears a little bit. Why not make a real thing out of it?” As Trotter and his right-hand man, Chicago’s chef Matthias Merges, schooled Hobbie on flavor, he also came into his own as a bartender. “And since then I’ve not had to apply for a job,” Hobbie says. When his learning curve was cropped short by the Michelin-starred restaurant’s closure in 2010, Hobbie was invited to move over to Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group’s Carnevino in The Palazzo and B&B in the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. There he remained until another Italian chef requested Hobbie behind her bar—when celeb chef Giada De Laurentiis opened The Cromwell in summer 2014.



“One arm [tattoo] is dedicated to my job—I have bottles and recipes—and the other arm has my two kids' portraits. So it's work and family.”

Having decamped to join the New Year’s Eve 2016 opening of The Dorsey in The Venetian, Hobbie got so into food he contemplated opening his own restaurant. Instead he took a left turn: First he staged on a few different food trucks to try them out, then ordered his own from an outfit in Miami that spring—and watched in horror as Hurricane Irma battered it from all sides. Fortunately it survived, and arrived in fall. Soon A Family Secret hit the streets, serving “East Coaststyle sandwiches with an attitude.” “I was done [bartending]. I was ready to rock this thing,” Hobbie says of his new culinary adventure. Or so he thought—that’s when he got an email from Ryan Labbe and Jason “JRoc” Craig, nightlife partners working with Las Vegas legend Andy Masi’s Clique Hospitality. JRoc had been a host with the most during Hobbie’s Palms days. And a newly inked deal with Station Casinos for Clique Hospitality—to put two new nightlife concepts into the former Ghostbar and The Lounge spaces—meant that there was a position open for a highly creative corporate mixologist in the sweetest of spots. A hurricane might not have stopped his food truck, but a perfect storm of opportunity could and would.

Italian Stallion (Apex Social Club) A spirit-forward play on the Negroni and Boulevardier inspired by Rocky Balboa: Glenmorangie 10 Year, Cynar, Aperol and orange bitters.


*** Over the years, Hobbie’s natural flair for presentation, combined with his understanding of balance, afforded many wins on the competition scene. He often traveled with fanciful vessels, a cigar box and other window dressing, bringing the entire set and props, and then casting the cocktail recipe to suit the production.

Despite his food-truck dreams, Hobbie was game to stay in the bar business given the boundless possibilities at Palms, but he eschewed the stuffy title of corporate mixologist.

Meanwhile, up on the 55th floor, Apex represents something Vegas long ago perfected: the ultra lounge/ club occupying the catbird seat, like Voodoo Lounge, Ghostbar, Moon and, more recently, SkyFall.

“You think I could be a manager? I'd be an HR nightmare!” Hobbie says, only half-joking. “I'm not that guy. I'm not a corporate guy. I told them, ‘Listen, I'm a bartender, that's all I am.”

Adopting the former Ghostbar footprint at the top of the Palms, it will have a smaller cocktail menu to Camden's, with an emphasis on precision execution and fresh seasonal ingredients. Clever tweaks—making fresh blackberry puree daily instead of muddling to order—allow for vibrant flavors without bogging down a high-volume operation.

So, with the Memorial Day weekend arrival of Apex Social Club and Camden Cocktail Lounge comes a new title: lead intoxicologist. In that role Hobbie will be shaking behind the stick, with two two bold and beautiful cocktail menus loaded with classic riffs that are both relatable and appealing to the eye. “No one ever gave me the keys to the kingdom before, like, ‘Blow people's minds,’” he says. Camden represents the latest chapter in a movement— the rebirth of the casino bar—that has already brought us Vesper, Chandelier and Clique (The Cosmopolitan), The Dorsey (The Venetian) and Rosina (The Palazzo). For Hobbie, the challenge is to create the kind of place where he would want to go. “I can’t go to clubs anymore; I feel out of my element. But I can go to a high-end craft-cocktail lounge,” he says. “Camden is going to be a game-changer.” Cocktails such as Lost in the Forest harken back to the Black Moth competition. “When you put your cocktail down on this fresh moss tray, it touches your hand and you're touching the forest.” Camden will open with no less than 10 types of ice, including seasoned ices to keep a cocktail evolving as they melt. “Everything is very playful,” Hobbie says, “without being too over-the-top.”

“It comes back to mise en place,” Hobbie says, “setting yourself up for success, having the knowledge to know what you can and can't do, and then executing it.” Hobbie credits many influencers and mentors for inspiring his growth, but none so much as B&B sommelier Pascal Bolduc, who imparted respect for flavor affinities and hospitality. “I was his little project,” Hobbie says. “I was still a knucklehead New York kid with a big chip on his shoulder, and he shaved off a lot of edges, and every day we'd talk about flavors and why things go together. He gave me a lot of his time, and I'll always appreciate that.” No longer a knucklehead, don’t expect to see Hobbie partying much: “I don't care about partying anymore, or going to pools; I've got a pool in my backyard. All I care about is my family and my work. “One arm [tattoo] is dedicated to my job—I have bottles and recipes—and the other arm has my two kids' portraits. So it's work and family.” > More at palms.com.



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MIXING IT UP Louis XIII Tasting Dinner | Plumed Horse




E XC L U S I V E T R AV E L O G U E Cocktails Around the World


Have Thirst, Will Travel Shakers goes on a sprawling Southeast Asian mission to unearth beverage inspiration. By Mark C. Anderson | Photos by Rich Rama and Mark C. Anderson


all it what you want: The Craft Cocktail Boom. The Mixology Movement. The Mainstreaming of the Fancy Manhattan. The Rise of the Instagrammable Drink.

Just remember it’s not exclusive to the West. Around the world, cunning drinkers, thinkers, moonshiners and entrepreneurs are doing all sorts things to stand out from the crowd, and it’s more than cross-continental evolution—it’s live animals with your mango juice and dead animals in your whiskey. Over the course of the coming year, Shakers will visit at least one world capital a month, seeking out what proves most striking—and exportable to our side of the planet—on the

beverage scene, starting in Southeast Asia and moving west across North Africa, Europe and Latin America. The reports serve as a toast to those who like to travel—and those who like to think when they drink, and like it when their drink makes them do precisely that.

Hanoi, Vietnam There it was, next to a half-inflated basketball on a glass shelf in a tiny mom-and-pop retail shop that was stuffed with an assortment of mannequins, tank tops, socks, figurines, fabric smocks with flower patterns and body combs made from polished stone. The label on the bottle was worn and slightly torn, but its title announced what the tangle of tails and roots inside were all about: 750 milliliters of “Liquor Gecko Seahorse.”



So it goes in Vietnam, where cobra-scorpion whiskey is a common sight and every local dinner I was invited to involved homemade moonshine with something floating in it. (My favorites were the lotus root and crabapple creations.) The dinners happen on the floor next to an avalance of food and come with a lot of ritual toasts (many directed at the guest) and multiple older gentlemen telling the new guy how good the “medicine” is for one’s love life. Import and export laws, however, frown upon the inclusion of animals in alcohol, and moonshine is tricky to regulate, so the adventurous drinker will have to do some traveling to experience the medicinal effects of exotic Southeast Asia alcohols. Unless, that is, one Vietnamese transplant has his way. Swiss-born Markus Madeja planned to visit for a few months but by now has resided in country for more than 20, building a local liquor dynasty around locally inspired spirits with all sorts of indigenous fruits, botanicals and flavor—and none of the wildlife.


Rượu is a unique distillate made for centuries from sticky red rice in villages like Phu Loc in Cam Giang district of Hai Duong province, where Madeja studied how to make it. Today his brand Sơn Tinh has more than a dozen flavors and is the darling of the New York International Spirits Competition, where rượu is the newest spirit category they recognize. While rượu is often compared to soju or vodka, it’s its own thing. At an April tasting at Sơn Tinh’s signature sibling Highway 4 in Hanoi, several revelations ensued. The clear fragrant sticky rice distillate that serves as the base for the family of spirits, Nếp Phú Lộc, impressed with suede-like texture and a clean and lightly buttery flavor. The light and complex Táo Meo (rose apple), Mơ Vàng (Vietnamese apricot) and Mận Đỏ (native red plum) show promise for sweet-leaning American palates. The Bach Sâm white ginseng distillate wowed with layers of earth and sun-dried fruit. And the vegetal flavors, with higher alcohol levels and traditional herbs grown deep in the rainforests of the Hoang Lien Son mountains—including the engulfing intensity of the Sơn Tinh Mộc Sa Pa and its 30 unique and pungent

herbal inputs—are delicious on top of wielding extensive, albeit anecdotal, health effects. They're also good enough to make mixologists speak Vietnamese, as Highway 4 manager Andy Ponyikzcy points out. “We all know the bartenders who say, ‘Oh, I make my own tonic, I make my own gin,’” he says.”Yeah, we know that. What about this.” Craft barkeeps anchored a subsequent cocktail showcase at InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, conjuring the likes of a savory Panama Whisper with lemongrass and dried red plum to go with the plum-driven Mận Đỏ, and the eye-opening Monsoon Martini with the Nếp Phú Lộc base distillate, the incredible ginseng elixir and fresh lemon. While its recipe inspiration is ancient, its worldly ambitions are new. Sơn Tinh is currently seeking distribution in the U.S.— importers, take note—so there’s real hope such time-honored discoveries arrive stateside soon. More at sontinh.com.

Chiang Mai, Thailand There are intriguing cocktails to be sipped around Thailand’s second-biggest city, a welcoming and easy-going wonderland of breathtaking Buddhist temples, night markets and khao soi noodle spots. But visitors shouldn’t plan on drinking between 2-5pm—or grabbing a rare rice-based and gluten-free beer (Chang) at the local quickie mart—because national law says no. Another tip: Don’t post a picture mugging with your favorite cocktail on Facebook, as that is as illegal as talking trash about the military government or the king. Both can get you locked up. “‘Don’t drink and Facebook’ is always good advice,” writes TheCultureTrip.com. “But in Thailand, it’s also the law.” Those represent two reasons to swap out alcohol for caffeine. The better reason is the quantity of clever cafes in Chiang Mai. There are cafés with waterfalls, cafés surrounded by living walls, cafés with giant anime characters and one café with its own pond, a two-story deck and a slide connecting its levels. But the cafes that earn max Instagram action are a whole different breed. Continued on page 59





Of Joan Baez, Thoreau and Hanoi’s most surprising cocktail. By Blair Ellis In the bustling alley of 24-Hour Street in Hanoi, Vietnam, dodging between 50cc scooters and fruit vendors on bicycles, visitors encounter Né Cocktail and Wine Bar, where Pham Tien Tiep and staff can be found revving up one of their award-winning pho cocktails—yes, pho, as in the noodle dish normally served with chopsticks. Jean-Paul Sartre and Theodor Adorno were known to argue about whether Jazz was “authentic.” They would agree on Tiep’s concoction: It’s the real thing. He says his pho cocktail is inspired by Joan Baez’s performance during her visit to the city amid the Vietnam War, of all things: The flambé he employs signifies the bomb blasts above, and the flavors honor the soup so common in the bunkers. Baez has tried the cocktail herself, and her rock-and-roll badassery persists in Pham’s confidence and swagger. He enlisted the support of a metal worker to create a special armature that allows him to cascade a blend of craft gin and triple sec pooling through successive oversized brass thimbles of cardamom, cinnamon and star anise, “cooking” the raw elemental herbs into the alcohol with just the right smokiness that makes pho pho. Cool that off in a crystal tumbler with crushed cilantro, simple syrup and lime juice, and a cinnamon stick stir, and there you have it. Damn near perfection in a glass. Thoreau may have warned us to, "Mistrust all enterprises that require new clothes," but I can tell you, any “mixologist” who retools the bar to create a work of art that literally cooks and smokes raw botanicals into his concoctions—trust that guy. > More at Nê Cocktail Bar’s Facebook page.




Eat Me draws West Coast inspiration to make magic in one of Southeast Asia’s best bar restaurants. By Mark C. Anderson

Bangkok isn’t what people think—it’s much more about arty subcultures, unique underground bars and local open-air markets than "ping-pong" shows and Khao San Road. Like a longtime Bangkok guide named Sakai Naismith put it after an authentic afternoon skiffing on Chao Phraya River, exploring an ancient temple where yoga was invented and visiting an off-the-radar rooftop bar: “Bangkok does a fantastic job of misrepresenting itself.” Its name, in fact, isn’t what people think either. The real one is 21 words and 188 characters long (deep breath): Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. Bangkok’s own Eat Me isn’t what it seems like or sounds like either. As Shakers discovered, it’s an elegant, easygoing and contemporary model of what a cocktail-forward restaurant can be. Their drink menu is good enough to enjoy global influence, with options like “laab moo” with Serrano ham and “kaeng-om” with lemongrass, shallot and betel leaf, inspired by local dishes. My visit proved to be about food on the plate, not in a glass, even if the place won Best Restaurant Bar in all of Bangkok at 2018’s The Bar Awards, and Buntanes “Pop” Direkrittikul was named the Bartender of the Year. And it all happened by way of California. Soft-spoken and super-talented Exec Chef Timothy Butler spent formative time at Carmel Valley’s Bernardus Lodge back in the early days of Cal Stamenov’s reign, though he hasn’t been back stateside much (twice in 12 years), partly because he is busy doing sublime things in Thailand. Most importantly, he's leading a restaurant scene to change its perspective on responsible (and tastier) sourcing. The results resonate with seasonal West Coast and Southeast Asian cohesion that make eaters ache for a return visit: tom yum lobster, caviar and burrata on a pastry air-pillow, charred hamachi collar in sea-urchin butter, grilled veal tongue topped with kimchi and black garlic aioli. And the coup: abalone that Butler grills, cubes and finishes with a butter sauté, then serves over risotto made from abalone intestines and marine phytoplankton (pictured). The tender shellfish was so good it made that local guide Sakai Naismith, who had sworn off fish years ago, rethink the way he looks at seafood. > More at eatmerestaurant.com.





Continued from page 53 The city famed for its elephants—and a zoo where guests can feed the hippos by hand—plays home to Catmosphere Cafe and Lucky Bunny Cafe. And the king of the jungle is Harinezumi Cafe, aka The Hedgehog Cafe, near the wall of the Old City. There three long terrariums run the length of the big window in front, with hog piles of at least five in two of them and a huge hedgehog in the other. Around the rest of the space, hedgehog schwag proliferates: a hog-shaped clock swings little paws, shot glasses have hogs hanging off the side and pudgy hedghog pillows appear everywhere, as does a ton of adorable original art. The live hedgehogs are the main act. They come tableside with petite wooden hog pens for customers who buy combo deals with a coffee, tea or mango smoothie. The “How to Hedgehog’s” (sic) placard that arrives with the hedgies reads: “We are very timid,” “Please life Me (sic) gently from the bottom and give Me kindness if I’m round (lol)." Café-goers can feed their new little buddies dried mealworms with tweezers and cradle them lovingly (gloves are included). My prickly pal took crispy worms from the tweezers on occasion, but preferred them from the floor of his wood deck. Either way he ate them with a satisfying crunch and an occasional wheeze of a sneeze. Heaven is a hedgehog with a fruit smoothie, but turns out it's not so manageable to bring a hedgehog home on traditional airlines. So I’m hoping some enterprising café or bar owner will figure out how to start a California hedgie café on behalf of animal lovers like me. More at harinezumicafe.com.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Kuala Lumpur is Malay for “confluence of mud,” inspired by the swampy rivers that come together where the city sits in central Malaysia, and the name confluence is just about perfect for the seventh-most-visited-city on Earth. The gleaming destination of 2 million is nothing if not a confluence of influences—the native Malay, Chinese and Indian flavors all figure into the food with fantastic results (including barbecued stingray and banana leaf-

wrapped nasi lemak). Jungle vegetation weaves its way into an urban landscape. People from across the globe gather for business dealings and ex-pats flood the place, making it a top 10 relocation destination worldwide. Muslim deference draws tons of tourists from the Middle East. Massive malls (including three of the world’s largest) blow minds with sheer scale and outsized opulence. The best of the cocktail scene, meanwhile, is the confluence of rooftop bars. The selection of standouts runs a dozen deep, with the likes of Sky Bar (with its indoor pool and floor-to-ceiling windows) and Luna Bar (two stories of heavenly hospitality, 34 floors up) ranking among the best. The most memorable among the higher-ups Shakers sniffed out somehow keeps a lower profile. Heli Lounge Bar doesn’t advertise or maintain a website, but has enough inspiring elements to thrive on word-of-mouth. Chief among them is one of a handful of active helicopter pads in the metropolis (by day, anyway), and the open platform makes it the best place to stare into sunset against the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and soaring KL Tower. Another big draw to go with its stylish daybeds and thatch hutstyle couches: affordable drinks—in a country that taxes alcohol heavily and keeps very limited wholesale outposts. Manager Telvince Tana created the drinks. He touts the Hellusion most highly, and its interplay of vodka and coconut rum with pineapple, fresh lemon juice and a sweet splash of Triple Sec— familiar flavors with a tweak. Other unconventional concoctions from his list of appropriately named “Gasoline” drinks include the Jet Fuel, which goes lean and mean with vodka, rum and mint; the White Skirt with white wine, pineapple and a lively lychee liqueur; and the Red Baron with vodka, red wine, orange juice and green tea for what turned out to be (unsurprisingly) strong but also (surprisingly) cohesive and balanced. The lower lounge is appointed with glass walls, aviation gear and chunks of fuselage, but the real show awaits up top. “Once guests hit upstairs with their drinks," Tana says, "They’re speechless for a while.” > More at the Heli Lounge Bar Facebook page.







D E S T I N AT I O N San Francisco

NEVER ROLLING OVER Trick Dog stays fresh—and wins more recognition—as it eyes a new project in San Francisco’s Mission District. By Stuart Thornton



“There is something so evocative about what the dusty streets of Morocco would have felt like in the ’40s"



an Francisco’s Trick Dog, a 2018 semi-finalist for the Outstanding Bar Program James Beard Award, often gets its inspiration for its cocktails from unexpected places. Partner and creative director Morgan Schick says the bar’s drink Leather & Lace, which was on their second cocktail menu, was influenced by the 1942 classic film Casablanca. “There is something so evocative about what the dusty streets of Morocco would have felt like in the ’40s when everyone is in their white linen suits, and there are the slow-moving fans and the onion-shaped windows,” he says. “I was like ‘I want to make a drink that tastes like what I bet that felt like.’ And I think I did.” That cocktail utilized rum, Scandinavian spirit Krogstad Aquavit, Italian herbal liqueur Amano Montenegro, spiced citrus syrup Velvet falernum, lime juice, and North African spice mix ras el hanout. “It was delicious, and delicious in the kind of way that I like to drink cocktails, where it is small, tart, quickdrinking, kind of daiquiri-style in that way where you just want to pop a couple of them back,” Schick says. The longtime bartender, who had worked at Nopa and Clock Bar before Trick Dog opened in 2013, says crafting Leather & Lace transformed his process on creating cocktails. “The development was thinking about flavor in more evocative ways—less about flavor and more about experience,” Schick says. Trick Dog is not the sort of bar that rests on its past accomplishments, however creative they might be: A new bar menu comes out every six months with 12 new cocktails, highlighted in fun themed bar menus. Past bar menus have presented cocktails as months on a dog calendar, colors on a paint swatch sample, and songs on 45 rpm records. The current menu is designed to look like an airline brochure with the drinks representing different airports around the world. The drink titles are airport codes including GDL (Guadalajara, Mexico) and KIX (Kyoto, Japan). SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS


The menus themselves are almost as coveted as the drinks— and are sold with all of the proceeds going to different chosen charities. Past recipients have included the nonprofits Creativity Explored, Precita Eyes Muralists and the Seven Teepees Youth Organization. When Trick Dog started serving its drinks in January 2013, the staff had a vision for the bar. Schick notes that at that time he felt that bartenders had finally begun to be recognized as working in a legitimate discipline. “When Trick Dog was opening, we all had the feeling that that fight had been won and what needed to happen was that we needed to go back and start making it fun to drink again,” he says.

Trick Dog’s new drink menu will be unveiled in July, though Schick is mum about the theme. Also, the management behind Trick Dog will open a new tropical-themed bar called Bon Voyage! in the Mission District by summer. While past drink menus have featured drinks with little known and unexpected ingredients from a Ritz cracker infused rum (true story) to genever, a Dutch style of gin, Schick says customers should not be ashamed to order bar mainstays like vodka sodas at Trick Dog. “We are not here to judge how you drink,” he says. “We are here to give you the thing that you are going to drink.” > More at www.trickdogbar.com


Sea Vines - Albatross Ridge Vinyards










8th Annual CHP'Pino Feed | San Jose




INSIDER Carmel-by-the-Sea



ommelier—the word conjures up a rich, almost hedonistic life of drinking Champagne in the morning, buzzing off to a tasting, followed by a boozy lunch courtesy of some wine or spirits vendor, a quick nap, maybe an afternoon tasting, then off to the salt mines of work, and pouring wines for guests with deep pockets and expensive tastes who insist on them being tasted prior to being poured. And after work, while the minion servers clean up the evening’s mess, it’s off to some fabulous nightclub with a bottle of something exquisite to share. That’s the life! While the above might be a tad far-fetched, it closely resembles what many consider the lifestyle of a sommelier today. And with wine becoming more and more popular across the public spectrum, the awareness and need of wine service is more prevalent than ever before.

Since the hit movie SOMM appeared on the silver screen in 2013 (and the follow-up SOMM—Into The Bottle in 2016 and now the TV series Uncorked) there is far more awareness (and even respect) given to those who stand patiently tableside as guests sometimes take eons to order their wine. People are starting to appreciate the exceptionally hard work put in to become a Master Sommelier or even an Advanced Sommelier. The spotlight shining on sommeliers is brighter than ever now, and deservedly so—it’s a rewarding profession that takes dedication and perseverance, not to mention a stunning amount of interpersonal patience.

Summeliere, sommelyeah, sommayay, just don’t call us late for a tasting! It’s pronounced soh/ma/lyay. And it’s an ancient profession—a sommelier is defined in French (originally soumelier or somier) as someone who transported goods and supplies and had something to do with pack animals. These individuals were later responsible for sourcing wines for restaurants, and became just as important as chefs. As a sommelier I am constantly asked what level I have achieved, to which I replied until just recently: "None." However, because of where I work, and to be allowed to taste wines with or for guests, it was required that I get my Level One through the venerable Court of Master Sommeliers. But isn’t it required that one be certified for the title? No, I respond—I’ve met many a chef who never went to culinary school, yet they are as qualified as any Cordon Bleu or Culinary Institute of America graduate. I explain that I never fare well in tests (of most kinds), and I don’t take naturally to classroom environments. But wine has been in my blood (literally) for close to 40 years now, and I’ve had the privilege of working on all sides of the wine industry—wholesale, direct sales, wine steward, wine director, wine event coordination and so on. I do know what I’m doing (for the most part), and can appropriately interact with guests for the experience they expect, and guide them to something they’ll enjoy with their dinner. There are many sommelier-based courses available around the world, and here in the U.S., we have the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS), founded in 1977 with the first American exam taking place in1986. There is also



WSET (Wine and Spirits Education trust), part of the Napa Valley Wine Academy; United States Sommelier Association; and a score of colleges that offer sommelier programs. There are now close to 230 Master Sommeliers globally, with some 150 of those in the U.S., each having gone through the four-step examination process. It’s an exceptionally arduous challenge and financially brutal—the final MS exam is almost $800 per section, and the lead-up exams cost around $2,500 to get to this point, and that doesn’t begin to cover the costs of tastings, books, travel, time away from work, etc. And don’t think that it’s just about wine: Certified sommeliers are required to demonstrate a deep knowledge of spirits, beer, sake and wine service. Trusting Your Sommelier Ask any sommelier or wine director what they enjoy most and it is almost always guest service, the love of being part of a team, and making magical things happen. Mike Trupiano, of the famed San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, puts it this way: “I always love watching one of those rare times when, unplanned, a night becomes special —the stars align, the food and wine is perfect, the service perfectly timed.” And Christie Dufault, instructor of Wine and Beverage Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, and who has worked as floor sommelier at some of the greatest restaurants in the country, believes that there is “… genuine pleasure in the interaction with guests, elevating their dining experience to exceed their expectations.” In the last few decades, wine service has increased enormously. Restaurants, with the help of their wine directors/sommeliers, are building unique wine lists that require consistent upkeep and alterations to reflect the chefs’ creativity, seasonal shifts, vintage and inventory changes, not to mention consideration of guest preferences that often change like the wind. Wine lists do not have to be overly substantial to be impressive, and many wine directors go out of their way to find rare and unusual wines so that they can invite greater awareness to guests and staff alike. Arcane and rare grape varietals such as Picpoul, Counois and so many others are now relatively commonplace on good wine lists.


to those who have an honest desire to learn more and educate their palates.) Every somm has had to deal with guests who wish to to spend rather substantial amounts on wine that they often have no knowledge of, and do not know what to expect. And what happens next is rife with elation, disappointment, frustration, loss of revenue and sometimes acute embarrassment. Sommeliers across the board are divided on this issue, and rightly so. If we all thought alike, it’d be a rather boring place. Picture a nerve-wracking scenario for a wine steward: A young, perhaps inexperienced guest has ordered something rare and wonderful, and there’s only one bottle left in the cellar. Older wines are devils and angels. As wines age, they change—dramatically. Those who know and understand the phenomena take great delight in noting those changes and understanding how the synthesis works. Based upon years of experience and mental notes, the somm has a rough idea of what this will be like, though with older wines one can never be 100 percent assured of the quality for a plethora of reasons. You never wish to deny someone a great experience, though many sommeliers have developed strategies to negate a potentially uncomfortable situation. Confronted with a 50-year-old Bordeaux or even a 20-year-old Napa Cab, there are those untrained palates that taste the newly opened bottle and say: “This wine is off.” Now what? Does one go against the guest’s decision, knowing that they are perhaps completely out of their minds, or terribly inexperienced? There have been times at my tables when simply because it is a flavor profile that is misunderstood the guest decides to send a wine back. If there is fundamentally nothing wrong with the wine, a good sommelier has two choices—take it back and hopefully sell it by the glass (and still lose money) or, as Trupiano puts it: “You have to be able to read the guest/group and help guide them without flat-out saying, 'You will not enjoy this bottle.' It all falls apart if they feel you think they are not good enough for the wine—it ruins their experience.” Others such as Haley Moore of Stock & Bones restaurant group will graciously find something else and educate her staff on something they might never see again.

Being a sommelier is part psychologist, part lion tamer. Matching wine to food is not too hard. It’s ensuring that the guest feels great about the choice they’ve made, or you helped them with. With large groups, there’s also the aspect of having the host or wine decision maker look good. Even if it wasn’t ultimately their decision and they were led by the nose to that specific bottle, it’s the sommelier’s job to take a step back and let the light shine on the decision-maker seated at the table. (Kudos may come later if graciousness abounds!)

Personally, if I am asked to bring an older, expensive and rare bottle of wine to the table, I have now learned to state that given the high price and rarity, the wines have been stored in perfect condition, and that I will also taste to ensure quality. If we find that there is nothing inherently wrong with the wine, do we have an agreement that this is considered a done deal? Generally the answer is positive, and I’ll work closely on describing the taste, and how the wine got to be this way. It’s all about the education process. Ultimately guests leave with a new and greater appreciation.

Let me try that 1955 – I LOVE older wines!

You’re a Sommelier, and You Work Where?

What to do with those who wish to show off, or try to impress, but don’t have the knowledge or experience of older wines? (Let’s also give thanks

Due to marketing and access to wine, movies, TV shows and various online vlogs, there is a new phenomenon of those who are simply wine

"...and above all, an avid consumer of the righteous juice." SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS


lovers who are attaining sommelier certification. They have no intention of ever working on the service level, and for a few, it’s a badge of merit that is scorned by such people as blogger Adam Teeter who writes: “…what a sommelier is has been tainted by people with no interested in ever actually serving in the profession, causing the role to be seen as someone more concerned with tasting notes and being able to identify wines blind than facilitating a wonderful experience for the diner.” Moore, who is Wine and Spirits Director at Stock and Bones in San Francisco, holds a different view: “It's pretty great how far the American public has come in the way of wine knowledge in the last decade...let alone the last 50 years! The more people know, the more they want to drink, so I am all for it!” Trupiano isn't smelling those grapes: “A sommelier is a position in a restaurant," he says, "plain and simple.” It’s a Love Story In my on-and-off 40 years of being in the wine industry on several levels, what I have come to see is that the wine business is perhaps the most generous of any industry there is. Wine makers spend huge amounts of time sharing their passion on so many levels, whether it be from taking on neophyte winemakers, traveling great distances to share their wines, sitting on panels to educate their peers and the public, donating wines for auctions and events, and more. There is a palpable positive energy whenever there are a group of wine makers or sommeliers gathered around. There is still no technical term for what a group of winemakers is, but there’ll be one in the Oxford American dictionary soon! This energy transcends to sommeliers, and for the most part, they are inextricably linked by the deep passion for food and wine, and love of learning and educating. And as they move forward, they mentor those who also show an inclination for the same passion and drive. And this mighty wave of love, passion and sharing all ultimately arrives to you, the consumer and diner. So at the end of your meal, beam kind thoughts to the individual who helped you with your selection—they’ve perhaps been down in the cellar for hours prior to your arrival, hauling boxes, doing inventory of maybe thousands of individually counted bottles, pored over the wine list for errors, additions and out-of-stock wines, negotiated with the chef as to what wines pair with his sauces that evening, had a training session with the staff, and finally adjusted his tie to come out and gracefully work with you on making your experience just that, an experience. It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle unlike any other. And, yes, there’s Champagne involved. >

Toby Rowland-Jones lives in Carmel, works in Pebble Beach, and is a “winewhisperer,” finding wines for special events, helping curate wine collections, and above all, serving as an avid consumer of the righteous juice. 76




3 OZ. Amaro (Bruto Americano, Grand Poppy, Aperol, Amaro Angeleno, Don Ciccio & Figli, and Amaro Nonino are some brands we like) 1 TSP. GOLDEN BEAR HERBAL SYRUP* 1 TSP. GOLDEN BEAR BITTERS* 4 OZ. CLUB SODA 1 ORANGE WHEEL (slice) Highball Glass *USE ANY OF OUR HERBAL SYRUPS & BITTERS IN THIS RECIPE!

Add all ingredients to a highball glass with ice and stir. Garnish with an orange slice. Amaro is a bitter liqueur made from bitter roots, spices, herbs, flowers and citrus; amaro means bitter in Italian. If you would like to know more about Amari (plural for Amaro), we highly recommend Brad Thomas Parson's book, AMARO. PS—share your drinks! And hashtag #goldenbearbitters. More at goldenbearbitters.com. SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS





TidBits By Otis Conklin

When Esquire put together its list of the top five cocktail trends for 2018, it led with something Shakers has been reporting on for months and months: CBD oil. Esquire was similarly slow on the up-sip with a few of its other trends (sustainability, gut-friendly fermented drinks and vegetable juices) but it did flag one emerging ingredient (hyper-healthy turmeric) that Shakers would love to see a lot more of in beverages. For this latest quarterly installment of "TidBits," Shakers looks at other creative and inspiring elements at work in the beverage world that may or may not inspire some of Esquire's 2019 predictions. >


Wine’s New Cousin Shakers Editor at Large Mark C. Anderson just completed a tour of the Ribera del Duero and Rueda wine regions in Spain as part of a program underwritten by the Spanish government. He reports one of the more surprising discoveries is an push by wineries to attract younger Spanish drinkers who traditionally aren’t into wine with something called Frizzante, a fruity, naturally fermented (and naturally carbonated), sweet, low-alcohol wine spinoff that blew up in Spain and could start making inroads stateside soon. Family-run winery Group Yllera pioneered the new product, which has been quickly adopted by other wineries too. More at grupoyllera.com. A Fresh Take on History Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky is a time-honored Edinburgh-born spirit whose history stretches back to 1827. Meanwhile, its influence—and secret proprietary whisky blends—have stretched the world over. Now it has a new beginning on its hands, with refreshed packaging, marketing and more approachable prices. What was once an expensive top shelf item is now as little as $15 or less, though that will likely go up as Scotch seeks to regain its traditional traction in the spirits market. More at ballantine’s.com. Golden Ticket Alexander Sparkling is making it rain…gold. Fortunately that’s not quite as dangerous as it sounds: Its new over-the-top indulgence comes with an AX on the label and potable gold flakes dancing up and down on bubble elevators inside. (The dance starts once it’s opened). Available in .75-, 1- and 3-liter formats, the bottle-fermented Austrian vino enjoys high acid and impressively petite bubbles, indicators of a high-grade sparkling. Its atypical blend of Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner and Riesling starts at as little as $30 through AX’s website. More at alexandersparkling.com. Lyrical Tequila Vallejo-raised Earl Stevens, better known by his rapper name E40, has long saturated his lyrics with talk of sauce, from Carlo Rossi wine to hurricane cocktails. Then he made it his business. After introducing his own wine collection and line of premixed cocktails, he debuted an epynonymous malt liquor. His most promising alcohol project, though, is his most recent, 2018 debut E. Cuarenta Tequila with blanco, reposado and añejo permutations that are all made with 100-percent blue agave and cooked in stone ovens for up to 60 hours each. More on the E. Cuarenta Facebook page. SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS



Spiked Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp Summer is here and it's time for something refreshing and cool to serve at your next gathering. This is a classic Spanish cuisine and eaten primarily during the summer months. There are many different varieties of gazpacho; here is my version of this delightful dish. This recipe is packed with an abundance of summer fruits and vegetables, and I put a twist in my recipe by making it an adult gazpacho with a splash of vodka. One my favorite vodka brands is Re:Find, a handcrafted vodka made in one of the earliest craft vodka distilleries of the West, in Paso Robles, California. Get creative and serve in beautiful cups or bowls topping with grilled shrimp, homemade croutons, avocado or micro greens. Enjoy! >



DELICIOUS Ingredients:

with Heidi Licata

5 large tomatoes, blanch, remove skin and seeds 1 large English cucumber, seeded and diced 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped 3-4 garlic clove, minced 1/8 cup of red wine vinegar 1/2 cup Re:Find vodka, extra on side to sip (can use any vodka) 1 1/2 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed 2 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 cups spicy vegetable juice 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 dried oregano salt and pepper, to taste 24 medium size grilled shrimp, 4 for each serving Optional: fresh jalapeĂąo, finely chopped Optional: grilled shrimp, croutons, flat leaf parsley, micro greens, avocado (or go all out and garnish with them all). Directions: On medium high heat in a medium-size pot filled with water, heat until boiling stage and drop tomatoes in to blanch for 30 seconds or until skin splits. Remove tomatoes, put into a bowl, set aside to cool then peel skin off. Cut in half and remove seeds. In a food processor add tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and onion, pulse for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend to fully mix. Do not over process, keeping the gazpacho slightly coarse. If you want a chunkier gazpacho mix in another 1/2 of a English cucumber, finely chopped and seeded. Chill for one hour before serving. If making without vodka add additional 1/2 cup of spicy vegetable juice. Garnish with your choice of toppings. Enjoy! Serves 6. More at Deliciousandsimple.net. SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS


It’s more than a Race. It’s the event of Legends. August 23-26, Monterey Celebrate motorsport history with 550 historic race cars competing as they once did. From early pre-war racers and sports cars to thundering Can-Am and high-revving F1 cars, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a symphony for all your senses. And for the first time, Nissan will be celebrated as the featured marque showcasing its illustrious Datsun and Nissan race lineage. Tickets are available at WeatherTechRaceway.com or by calling 831.242.8200.




20/10 VISION L a s Ve g a s

86 Photo by Helena Yankovska


Alive Mixing Stephanie Levinson and new Miscellaneous Key give Vegas a jolt of inspiration. By Juanita Rose


mid the swirl of Las Vegas’ lively cocktail world, Stephanie Levinson knows what makes her feel most alive. “I love crafting a totally different concept, and starting from scratch—unique, big concept stuff,” she says. “It lights my fire.”

She believes there’s no better place to be doing it, either. “Vegas seems like a great test market for a lot of things like that,” she continues. “I like to try out the crazy ideas.” Her job, in brief, is liquor catering; she’s the force of nature behind breakout Las Vegas event planning/consulting outfit Miscellaneous Key Consulting. She thrives in creating specialty beer or wine tastings designed to feel like fullon experiences, and displays enough versatility to pull off a down-home picnic or an over-the-top event at spots like Caesar’s Palace, whether it calls for a team of bartenders, personalized gifts and/or elaborate costumes. Her type of instinct and insight—and penchant for what she calls “extreme flair”—inspired Shakers to spotlight her for its first edition of its own crazy idea: “20/10 Vision”: Twenty questions with answers that are 10 words or less, which makes for a quick-hitting act of idea-sharing, exploration and creativity designed to keep the industry feeling alive.



“I love crafting a totally different concept, and starting from scratch—unique, big concept stuff,” she says. “It lights my fire.” What's your favorite bartending technique? You can tell a lot [about a bartender] by the sound of a shake.

love. I didn’t know he had created it. (Editor’s note: Sometimes it’s OK to take it past 10 words, especially when love and cocktails are involved.)

Undersung bartending tool/gizmo?

What's one way you incorporate chef/food insight into drinks?

The Wine Key.

Use what’s fresh when it’s fresh.

Favorite obscure liquor and favorite weird ingredient?

Biggest misconception of barkeep industry?

Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth and buzz buttons. Top savory flavor fetish? Sweet flavor fetish?

Bartenders only like to drink cocktails that are muddled, shaken, and double strained, that take 13 minutes to make and have at least seven ingredients.

Rosemary. Candied ginger.

Favorite toast?

Favorite use of salt in drinks?

We started from the bottom now we’re here.

Salt air in Margaritas, but not the grainy stuff.

Favorite Vegas venue on the small side? Big side?

Trend that has come and gone and you'd like to see back?

Herbs and Rye. Omnia.

Pub crawls and formal dinner parties.

Best value you see on the liquor market these days?

Favorite thing about Vegas?

There are some great 100-percent blue agave tequilas.

Having a tight-knit community and having world class entertainment.

Favorite liquor marketing concept?

Best insider/local advice for Vegas drink scene?

William Grant does a great job with their brands Hendricks and Monkey Shoulder.

Quality over quantity.

Favorite bar-centric TV show or movie?

Favorite underground bar?

Game of Thrones (You may say "What???" but they drink a lot on that show).

Laundry Room. Most annoying mixology word? Mixologist. Who's your top bartender hero? My husband. We met when we worked at Bellagio and he invited me for a drink. Not knowing what he did for the company and in an attempt to break the ice I went on and on about a drink that I


Top question to ask people in interviews to work for you? What inspires you to be in this industry? Favorite nightcap? Carpano Antica, splash of soda with an orange wheel. > More at misckey.com.






Tickets on sale now at WeatherTechRaceway.com

Profile for Shakers Magazine

Shakers 6.0 Magazine  

the idea | distilled... to stir curiosity around a booming industry and the personalities that make it shake.

Shakers 6.0 Magazine  

the idea | distilled... to stir curiosity around a booming industry and the personalities that make it shake.