Beer + Bacteria + Time = Vinegar? An Absolutely Delicious Revelation.

Vinegar is a necessity in any kitchen.  It can be used for salad dressings or marinades, to poach eggs, or even to cut down the sweetness level in a dessert, the possibilities go on and on. A few months back, Steve Martin, Kitchen Manager at Harry’s Pizzeria, had an idea: Why not use some of our Michael’s Genuine Home Brew to make some killer vinegar?

With this in mind, Steve decided to give a shout to his friend Chef Jonathon Sawyer at The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland who sent him over the most pivotal component to the vinegar making process: a mother!  Chef Sawyer did not FedEx his Mom over to Steve, of course, but he did send a colony of acetobacter cells bound together with secreted cellulose that share the same name.  These cells are what make it possible to transform the ethanol, or alcohol, present in our home brew into acetic acid, the part of the process which makes vinegar tastes like vinegar.  Once you have that, the rest of the process requires some shade, a sterile environment, and time…a lot of time (see here for an incredibly detailed description if you want to make your own vinegar).  Three months later the Genuine Hospitality Group was gifted with lovely, tangy, malty vinegar.

So far this vinegar has been featured in our Pesce Fritto Special at Harry’s as well as a chanterelle dinner special at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.  Steve, who I’m personally deeming “Vinegar Master Extraordinaire,” currently has a batch of honey vinegar that is in the fermenting process.  As of now there are no new plans for any menu dishes to feature our malt vinegar, but as Steve put it, “These things last forever” so stay tuned to the Harry’s twitter and instagram (@harryspizzeria) for our daily specials!  We can only imagine the ideas a little bit of time will foster in the minds of our talented team and we cannot wait to try the honey vinegar once it’s ready!

A Splash of Culture, Martini in Hand & Terrazzo under Foot, Tuesdays at The Raleigh

Sarah shaking things up at Hakkasan, and tomorrow at Martini Culture at The Raleigh.

Here, Sarah Lawrence is shaking things up at Hakkasan. Tomorrow, at the Raleigh Hotel’s Martini Bar for Martini Culture. Photo Credit: Tod p / t4two photography

On Tuesday nights the Raleigh Hotel Martini Bar comes alive with good vibes and libations thanks to the mixture of special ingredients.  Yes, we are talking about new recipes for our martini list, but more importantly, the magic that happens when talented mixologists, our head bartender Trevor Alberts, and the mahogany bar’s singular, deco charm collide.

Martini Culture, held Tuesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. features a killer schedule of guest bartenders behind the Martini Bar, so far yielding an impressive log of both classic and original martini recipes to add to its growing list.  Robert Montero (The Cypress Room,) Hillary Choo (Bar Centro,) Robert Ferrara (Swine,) Ashley Danella (Pubbelly Steak,) Fraser Hamilton (Blackbird Ordinary,) Cricket Nelson (The Cypress Room,) and Ezra Pattek (The Broken Shaker) have so far graced us with their presences, and tomorrow, Hakkasan’s Sarah Lawrence steps up.  The anticipation is mounting after receiving her martini submissions, and since everything always tastes better with a story attached, here is hers.

RMS Menu-4.25x11-Martini Culture + Snacks_070213The Genuine Kitchen: How long have you been tending bar and where did you get your start?

Sarah Lawrence: I’ve been bartending the better part of thirteen years. I got my first taste a few years prior. While visiting my sister, Tamara Schwartz, in NYC, she took me with her to work one night. She showed me how to pour a drink and my passion was ignited!

TGK: How would you describe your personal style/approach to drink making?

SL: My style is clean and approachable. I want to create cocktails that won’t intimidate the novice, but also appeal to the cocktail connoisseur.

TGK: Name an exceptional drink moment from your past. Where were you and what what were you drinking?

SL: This past winter I met my old friend Joe Isadori for a cocktail at Saxon + Parole. As we caught up on his new restaurant Arthur on Smith, I enthusiastically discussed my passion for craft cocktails. All the while, I was sipping on the most amazing Spring 44 celery gimlet. Spring 44 is an American distiller out of Colorado doing small batch spirits with care and great ingredients.  I don’t like sweet drinks, this was the perfect balance of refreshing citrus, herbaceous gin, and savory celery. The ambiance and conversation, accompanying exceptional cocktails made this the highlight of my trip.

TGK:  What attributes do you want to see in a bartender when you are on the other side of the bar?

SL: I love to eat at the bar and observe service.  It is key for them to anticipate and make suggestions.

Garden of Hazel, with Basil Hayden, Lillet Rosé, amaro, thyme, lemon juice, homemade rhubarb syrup, Brooklyn Hemispherical Rhubarb Bitters

Sarah’s Garden of Hazel, with Basil Hayden, Lillet Rosé, amaro, thyme, lemon juice, homemade rhubarb syrup, and Brooklyn Hemispherical Rhubarb Bitters. Photo Credit: Tod p / t4two photography

TGK: Describe your relationship to the martini. Is it a drink you like making and how did you approach Tuesday’s menu development?

SL: From simple classics to modern twists I love martinis. London in Lavender is a cocktail I created for Hakkasan, a play on one of my favorite classics the French 75. Garden of Hazel is a bourbon based martini, my favorite spirit, inspired by my hometown Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I grew up on Hazel Street where we had fresh rhubarb growing in the garden. I married all of these components into a martini that is perfectly me.

TGK:  In your opinion, what is the Miami cocktail scene lacking right now. What are we getting right?

SL: The Miami cocktail culture is really up and coming. The Regent Cocktail Club and The Broken Shaker are my favorite places to imbibe. The only thing we are lacking are more places like these.

Connect with Martini Culture online at and on Instagram @raleighhotel @RMSatRaleigh with hashtags #martiniculture and #martinibar. The Summer 2013 Schedule remaining is July 9 – Walid Hamid – Avion Ambassador/Mixologist; July 16 – Kaliya Foray – The Broken Shaker; July 23 – Gabe Urrutia – Bacardi; July 30 – Crispy Soloperto – Homecoming Queen.