What We’re Drinking: Barrel Aged Cocktails

Bistro Niko’s “Monteleone” is not your average cocktail. In fact, it doesn’t even feel fair to call it just a cocktail. What it is though is bourbon, dry curacao, and sweet vermouth that’s aged in a port barrel anywhere from three to six weeks. When it’s finally ready to enjoy, it’s served over a single ice cube in a low ball glass dashed with Angostura bitters.

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The Monteleone is the brainchild of Manager Tommy Mclaren, who has been with Bistro Niko since its opening in 2009. He’s the kind of guy who’s always pulling bottles down from the bar, urging you to try what he’s creating, and thinking aloud about what he might try next. In short, he’s exactly the kind of guy you want to talk (and taste) cocktails with.

Fascinated by the New Orleans cocktail renaissance of the mid-1800s, Mclaren began with a fixation on the Sazerac. He then he moved on to the Vieux Carre, a lesser-known bourbon and cognac-based drink that was created by the head bartender at you guessed it, The Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans in 1938. His intention was to take the spirit of what was happening then, the intense creativity, the serious devotion to high quality spirits, and translate it into a cocktail that people would enjoy and appreciate today.

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Mclaren has been perfecting the drink for several months. His original vision was a drink that was dark and solid, essentially a dream for serious bourbon drinkers, and the written recipe fully suggests it would be. But, after weeks of turning the barrel and patiently waiting for the first taste, Mclaren found a cocktail that was complex with a balanced sweetness and had bright, underlying notes of ripe citrus. So if you can’t quite put your finger on what’s so surprisingly special about this drink, you’re not alone. It wasn’t until the next batch that Mclaren discovered that the port barrel was responsible for unlocking the complexity of the dry curacao, yielding complex flavors of orange, not one-dimensional sweetness.

McLaren recommends making a large batch (half gallon) of this cocktail for your next party for easy hosting.

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Mclaren recommends making a large batch (half gallon) of this cocktail for your next party for easy hosting.

The Monteleone Cocktail
12 cups Angel’s Envy Bourbon (12 cups)
2 cups Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao (2 cups)
2 cups Dolin Rouge Sweet Vermouth (2 cups)
2 dashes Bitters 18.21 original bitters (add in each glass before serving serving)

Combine first three ingredients and allow to age 3 to 6 weeks.
When ready to serve, add 2 dashes bitters in a lowball glass with one large cube ice and top with the aged drink.

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Chase Away the Winter Blues with Buckhead Diner’s New Cocktail

  The Tiki Thai will put you in a warmer state of mind. 

In the midst of heavy bourbon drinks and full bodied wines hitting menus for the cooler months, Buckhead Diner adds a surprisingly Summery cocktail to their list. The “Tiki Thai” combines the fresh sweet-tart flavors of fresh pineapple and grapefruit juice with the complex sweetness of dark rum and coconut rum. The result is a cocktail that’s bright and citrusy but complex enough to be interesting. 

  Buckhead Diner’s Beverage Manager Jessica Purdy says “ We wanted to create a cocktail that would serve as a reprieve from heavy winter cocktails.” It’s even garnished with a luxardo cherry and tiny umbrella. Sip, Relax, Repeat.

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Tiki Thai

1oz Meyers Dark Rum

¾oz Coconut Rum

1oz Tiki Thai syrup

½oz Pineapple juice

¾oz Grapefruit juice

Squeeze 1 lime wedge

Garnish with spiced sugar rim and luxcardo cherry

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One Gift Six Ways. The Perfect Present for Everyone.

The Ultimate Dining Card is valid at all of Buckhead Life’s restaurants, never expires, ships for free, includes gift wrap, and now through January 31st we’re adding 20% more to every purchase. Sounds like the perfect gift, right? Well, we’re putting that claim to the test.  Here’s how the Ultimate Dining Card is perfect for everyone on our list: 

For the Newlyweds…

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Pair the Ultimate Dining Card (Hello, date night!) with holiday decorations to help the new couple deck the halls for the first time! You can even start the tradition of giving special ornaments (we like these) and take the guesswork out of gifting in the future.    

For the Hostess…

img_0101 You know the friend who always makes entertaining look effortless? Treat them with festive hand towels. The best part? They’ll even be able to use the Ultimate Dining Card at Pano’s Food Shop and Corner Cafe to pick up a platter of hors d’oeuvres or dessert for their next soiree.

For the New Parents…

img_0083 Give a much needed date night, and add an extra touch of thoughtfulness by offering to babysit. Truly the ultimate gift for new parents.

For the Chef…

gift guide, best gift The only thing home chefs love more than cooking at home is being inspired by a delicious dinner out! Give them both with the Ultimate Dining Card + dish towels (we like these) + simple wooden cooking utensils. The best part? They’ll be able to use the card to pick up fresh fish & seafood at Pano’s Food Shop next time they’re in the mood to try an ambitious new recipe. 

For the Wine Lover…

img_0497 The Ultimate Dining Card pairs well with their favorite bottle of red, and they’ll be able to use the card for any of our food & wine dinners and special wine events. Festive napkins add a holiday touch and they’ll think of you each time they use them. Cheers to the perfect gift!

For Literally Anyone…

img_0065   Everyone loves fine dining, and everyone can appreciate high quality peppermint tea (we like Harney & Sons) during the holiday season. Trust us, this is a universally great gift.  Have your own creative way to gift the card ? Let us know by tweeting us @buckheadlife or posting on our facebook page. Have questions about the Ultimate Dining Card? Visit our FAQs page and learn more about the gif that’s great for everyone on your list. Purchase the Ultimate Dining Card 

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Cook Like a Chef: Make Chef Pano Karatassos’s Favorite Greek Chicken Soup

You can’t eat just one bowl. 

It’s the time of year when all we’re craving is a hot, flavorful bowl of soup. This recipe though, isn’t the kind of heavy, nap-inducing recipe that the winter months are known for. This Avgolemono Chicken Soup stays true to Chef Pano’s signature style of using bright, fresh ingredients to create a dish that’s both healthy and delicious. Avgolemono is the mother sauce in Greece that’s typically made by combining braising liquid from whatever you’re cooking with eggs, lemon juice, and a few other ingredients. The result is a creamy, flavorful sauce that isn’t too thick and perfectly compliments the dish you’re cooking. Check out Chef Pano’s demo from Ponce City Market’s Farmer’s Market and learn to make this delicious dish. 

Chef Pano’s recipe for Avgolemono Chicken Soup


For the chicken:
1 Chicken Breast
2 Cups Milk
1 Clove Garlic
3 Sprigs Thyme
Kosher Salt, to taste
White Pepper, to taste

For the barley:
1 tbsp. Canola oil
1 tbsp. Shallots, minced
1 cup Organic pearl barley
2 ¼ cups water
1 bayleaf
Kosher Salt, to taste
White Pepper, to taste

For the soup:
1 quart chicken stock
7 each egg yolk
1 cup lemon juice
2 cups arugula, julienned
1 cup basil, julienned
½ cup scallions, chopped
 
  1. Cook the Chicken: Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and place all ingredients in a pot.
  2. Gently bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the chicken is done.
  3. Cook the Barley: Sweat shallots in canola oil for one minute then add the barley.
  4. Pour in the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook on low for 20 minutes or until done.
  5. Prepare the Soup: Place stock and eggs in a pot, bring to simmer and blend with a hand blender or whisk continually.
  6. Season with lemon, salt and pepper and garnish with arugula, basil & scallions.

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Jazzy Thursdays at Pricci

Live Jazz, delicious food, and 1/2 price bottles of wine make this one of the liveliest Happy Hours in town. Live Jazz from 7:00 – 10:00 pm. ½ price bottles of wine all day long.

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Meet Beverage Manager Marcell Keys

Marcell Keys talks Florida’s Most Iconic Cocktails, His Approach to Mixology, and How to Get the Bartender’s Attention Every Time.

Marcell Keys isn’t your average beverage manager. In fact, nothing about Marcell Keys’ rise to become Chops’ Beverage Manager is normal. While Marcell has been at Chops since the day it opened, he first worked as a server before being promoted to Manager, then Beverage Manager, and eventually found his passion studying wine and becoming the newest member of the Guild of Sommeliers.

Walk into Chops on any given day between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 and you’ll find one of the busiest happy hours in town. Sure, there are $8 martinis and a tempting array of appetizers, but perhaps the real key to a buzzing bar is the creativity of the people who work behind it.

Being a bar manager isn’t just about mixing fantastic cocktails. For Chops, a restaurant concept already thriving in Atlanta, the challenge was to curate a menu that fit with Boca Raton’s culture.

“It was important to realize Boca Raton is a “martini-centric” type of city”, Marcell explains. He began to work within this idea and take a strong mixology approach to curating the menu. Chops takes advantage of the fresh fruits that are abundant in South Florida and he says it has made all the difference. Marcell’s style of mixology starts with the fresh fruit and juice and then the alcohol is added.

When asked what the “magic” behind Chops’ successful bar, Marcell explains that “Chops’ bar separates itself by bolstering an environment that is both expressively traditional and uniquely hip.”. Beyond the actual atmosphere of the restaurant, we see this on the specialty cocktail menu itself. With options like the “Perfect Negroni Martini” and  the “Platinum Mule”, it’s clear that Chops favors traditional American steakhouse libations, but is determined to deliver something fresh and unique.

And the drinks you’ve sipped on at Chops? Marcell probably named them. The more outrageous the name, the better according to Marcell. “ The fun starts with the name”, Marcell says, and he’s onto something as “The Gold Digger Martini” is easily their most ordered martini.

In the case of most great bars, Chops is constantly busy. While Chops has a longstanding reputation for being a haunt for Boca’s most glamourous, Marcell points out that the long bar and lounge seating in the restaurant are 100% first-come-first-served. Macell’s tips for getting the bartender’s attention every time? “ The two best ways takes us all back to when times were much more simple. Either politely, without yelling, raise your hand (as if ready to answer a teacher’s question in class) or wait to catch the bartender’s eye and smile (as if you had a secret to tell…lean in and give your order).”

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