Once Upon a Cocktail: Throwing Back a Classic Exercise to Suit Both Enthusiast & Curious Barflies

With respect to those that came before, and laid the groundwork for what a House Cocktail is all about and how it comes to be, we present the classics. New to the Michael’s Genuine bar, a devotion to the old standards that never go out of style and always inspire our creative juices.  Beginning today for the immediate future, enjoy our roadmap to explore them with Gabe Urritia of @spiritedmiami and our #mgfdbar team.  You’ll find a portrait shot on-site for Instagram and why you should care according to people and cocktail books we trust in the caption, from origin myths to the specialness that makes them memorable.

The first sip is one familiar in name but an outlier perhaps as a go-to.  Rolls off the tongue smooth but maybe has fallen out of favor.  From now on that changes, at least for me.  I’ve come upon an unlikely new favorite. “Sin azucar” for cafe con leche fix in the morning, but not so after 5pm.  The Sidecar effectively delivers a balanced tangy punch because it’s deeply dusted in sugar.  No longer are rims reserved for salt in my book.  Cheers to that!

So Happy Together: Margherita Meets Margarita — and a New Full Bar — at Genuine Pizza Atlanta

You know it’s going to be a good week when Monday means more than one kind of Margy is in the picture.  We are excited to now offer a refreshing line up of cocktails at Genuine Pizza Atlanta!  After the successful introduction of Sangria this summer, it was only a matter of time before the first of our pizzerias got a full bar program going to complement this wine-based favorite.  Michael collaborated with director of pizza operations Paolo Bazzani — bar manager emeritus of Michael’s Genuine Pub on Quantum of the Seas — on a simple yet well rounded list inspired by the drinks section of his forthcoming pizza cookbook.  The result? A down-to-earth selection that checks all your thirsty boxes, each for $12.

BULLETPROOF MANHATTAN

Michael’s original cocktail at MGFD is as satisfying as it gets, with a touch of class.

Four Roses Bourbon known for its balance and quality meets rosemary-cherry syrup and fresh lemon to cut the sweetness and rein it in just enough.

A rosemary sprig to spear cherry jewels makes it special.

WATERMELON SPRITZ

This is a  twist on the classic aperif we like for winding down the evening or perking up a lunch date.

Aperol joins St. Germain elderflower liqueur, juicy watermelon and fizzy prosecco.

Goes by “Cabarete” at Michael’s Genuine® and is a kicked up alternative to our sangria — and just as refreshing!

SPICY RITA

Nothing hits the spot and says festive like a margarita.  Jose Cuervo Silver, grapefruit and muddled jalapeño shaken over ice with a spicy rim that keeps you going back for more.

Especially yummy with a Margherita pie and polenta fries.

Or put a Spicy Pepperoni pizza in check by matching two bold favorites for a taste explosion.

THE DOCTOR

We love a good beer cocktail, especially when gin is involved.

Whether a full on prescription or a direct order, Boodles Gin, apple juice and Dr. Robot sour beer cures all that ales you and then some.

Nice to drink local, and try something new, too.  Enjoy, then chase with a Dr. Robot.

GENUINE MULE

Absolut vodka, lime and ginger beer just tastes better in a fancy copper mug!

Summer Sizzles at Amara at Paraiso with New Happy Hour, Outdoor Bar & Miami Spice

Celebrate Miami’s most vibrant season with new ways to relax, enjoy and savor it on the waterfront all summer long at Amara.

Mezcal Colada puts the pineapple in the coconut and then some!

Happy Hour – Beginning Monday, July 2, the Amara bar and beach get even more welcoming with our first ever Happy Hour from 5:30-7:30pm Monday through Friday. Enjoy the best restaurant view in Miami for a little bit longer with Assistant GM Maria Pottage’s 4 new $10 classic cocktails with a tropical twist, half price oysters and snacks from Chef Michael Paley, $4 Cusqueña premium Peruvian lager beer and half price wines by the glass. Stand outs include poppable, craveable specialty, the infamous Yuca Cheese Puffs, as well as new Albondigas meatballs, White Ayocote Bean Spread with green garbanzo, chimi spice, lemon crème fraîche, seeded cracker, and rotating select oysters.  View full menu here.

Bartender Angelo, shaking things up.

Waterfront Bar – Gather by Biscayne Bay to eat, or simply sip on something refreshing. The Amara Beach’s new satellite bar offers a place for guests to order drinks outside, Friday and Saturday from 6pm – 12am.  Enjoy on its beachfront chairs or plush lounge area couches without having to dine in or wait for a reservation. Notable beverages being served include a selection of wine, beer and cocktails including Calm before the Coconut, Tulum Spritz, Pisco Punch, Dreaming of Oaxaca and Monkey Business. Happy hour is available on Friday with its specific cocktails and beverage offering until 7:30pm.

Arroz Verde is a South American twist on the familiar Korean rice dish — a delectable comfort food full of flavor and fun to mix at the table.

Charred Carrot & Avocado salad with goat cheese, cilantro toasted pumpkin seeds, one of Chef Paley’s appetizers, is a tasty Spice route with which to lead.

Miami Spice – Participating for the first time this August 1 – September 30, Amara is taking Miami’s restaurant week seriously (delicious) with new menu items in a weekly-changing $39 three-course prix fixe dinner menu. Served Sunday through Thursday, Paley’s most notably new dish out of the gate is the show-stopping Arroz Verde, a South American take on the Bim Bim Bop, cilantro rice served sizzling in a stone bowl with toppings to mix up like wood-grilled hen of the woods, earthy mushrooms, cubes of cucumber, shaved carrots, avocado, shaved jalapeño, pickled red onion, shredded kale, cascabel chile paste and creamy egg yolk.  Click here for the beginning menu.

All menus are subject to (welcomed!) change. For more information on summer activities including Fourth of July celebration, please visit our website and to stay on top of changing menu items, follow Amara at Paraiso on Instagram.

Stirring Things Up for Negroni Week at Michael’s Genuine® & Amara at Paraiso

If you’re a lover of a cocktail that leans a little bitter, you’ll want to visit the bars at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink and Amara at Paraiso ASAP.  It’s Negroni Week, the annual celebration of our favorite early evening Italian ritual that piques the appetite for all things nocturnal – especially poppable bar snacks like cheesy yuca puffs.

Amara at Paraiso’s trifecta of sultry red deliciousness.

Beginning today through Sunday, both restaurants have a list of special twists on this classic cocktail known for its amaro bite but celebrated for its exquisite balance.  We can and do conjure the classic at a moment’s notice — 1:1:1 of equal parts sweet vermouth preferably Carpano Antica, gin and Campari — but this week gives us a little license to get creative, and the juices have been flowing!  A portion of proceeds from each cocktail purchased will be donated to causes close to our hearts — at Amara assistant GM Maria Pottage offers 3 specials which support Outside In, helping homeless youth and marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency.  Michael’s Genuine’s bartender Jorge Hernandez offers a new negroni each day as its “Market Special” to benefit Wellness in the Schools, a national non-profit we work with in Miami that teaches kids healthy habits to learn and live better. Menus are listed below, so plan accordingly.

Below, pictured left to right.

Amara at Paraiso ~ Special Negroni List (13)
Negroni at Paraiso – Sotol por Siempre, Barsol Perfecto Amor pisco, Campari, orange peel
The Agroni – Campari, Russell’s Reserve bourbon, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, lemon, aqua fava, bitters
Negroni Punch – Macchu pisco, Campari, Aperol, pineapple juice, rosé, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth

Today’s special at Michael’s Genuine.

Michael’s Genuine ~ Market Special Negroni (12)

Monday –
Botanist Gin
Lychee Infused Cocchi Americano
Campari
Rinomato
St Germain

Tuesday –
Gin Mare
Sage Lime Syrup
Campari
Massican Dry Vermouth

Wednesday –
St George Terroir
Peach Infused Campari
Combier
Antica Carpano

Thursday –
Ransom Old Tom Gin
4 Roses Small Batch
Campari
Antica CArpano

Friday –
Botanist Gin
Passion Fruit Syrup
Campari
Massican Dry Vermouth

Saturday –
Love Eden Gin
Campari
Averel Sloe Gin
Cocchi Americano

Sunday –
Classic Negroni

It Takes Two to Tango the Amara Beverage Book — Part I: Cocktails

“Challenge accepted!” Amanda exclaims, but Maria is up first.

I’ve asked two bright lights in Miami’s beverage industry, Amara at Paraiso Sommelier Amanda Fraga and Assistant Manager Maria Pottage, to join me for happy hour at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink.  The agenda is to better understand Amara’s beverage program and the origins of its pièce de résistance — The Beverage Book. To get there, we’re breaking the ice by choosing each other’s drinks.  Well, I’m actually letting the professionals handle the selections — Amanda on wine and Maria on cocktails, just like their roles at the restaurant — to focus on the interview, note-taking, and, of course, the drinking.  My hunch is this device will reveal as much about their approach to the program at our newest restaurant, as it will about the game they play to balance the leanings of their own palates with consideration for guest preferences.  It’s quite possibly where the skill lies in making a good list a successful one.  It must perform at the bar and in the dining room.

Maria begins with Dead Presidents, which she’s set before me, polished and smooth but pretty boozy — a stirred cocktail with Camus V.S. Congac, Basil Hayden Bourbon, Redemption Rye, Green Chartreuse, and Pink Peppercorn Syrup. “I felt like you would like something with Bourbon.  This cocktail has a lot of depth and at the same time it’s really balanced.  I was also curious about the pink peppercorn.”

Oh the places you’ll go…

For Amanda, it’ll be the Mezcal Paloma, a welcomed palate cleanser after a day tasting over a 100 wines at United Way’s annual Best in Glass competition. “Luckily we had a lunch break!” she jokes.

Maria continues, “It’s early in the afternoon, and I thought Amanda might need it after a day like today. I also love mezcal.  She has been very generous with me, so I wanted to give her something I like. I overlooked the agave habanero at first, but I’m looking forward to trying that.”

T&T, matched with chilled Atlantic shrimp.

For herself, Maria chooses the Jungle Plaza, a cocktail akin to the T&T at Amara which matches Campari with Tequila. “It’s hard to balance Campari with other spirits because it can be pretty forward.  You don’t want it to overpower the other ingredients.  I saw the rum and pineapple juices, which have the backbone to stand up.  It’s a classic combination, and makes me think of the Jungle Bird.  The strawberry-infused Campari interests me — how much can it take in an infusion.”

While a student of Business Management in Peru, Maria had the opportunity to go on a student exchange program at a ski resort in California, and then at the Grand Canyon National Park. She worked at one of the hotels there and when she saw how much fun the F&B staff was having, how were they able to create great experiences for their guests on a day-to-day basis, she wanted in.

Maria in action behind the Amara bar.

“Being from Peru, where food and beverage is an integral part of our culture, the rest was just a natural step,” she explains. “I was instantly hooked and became obsessed with everything food and beverage related.  Books, restaurants, films… but especially about the power of hospitality.”

About a year and a half ago, Maria had just returned from a trip to Tulum and happened to meet Michael Schwartz one night when he was out for drinks at a Peruvian restaurant in Miami where she was then Beverage Director.  Although she had heard of Chef and the Genuine Hospitality Group, she didn’t know Michael personally at the time, nor could recognize him.

Maria game to chat beverage on her day off, just one of the reasons we love her.

“His guests were celebrating a birthday and having what seemed like a good time, and so I sent something to the table,” she continues.  “They asked me what Pisco was so I went and did a little tasting for them and then we exchanged cards. And that’s how we began the dialogue that ultimately brought me to Amara.  When I heard about the project, it felt like all those things that I loved about Tulum, somehow uniting a feeling of being far away but being in the middle of everywhere. Timing wasn’t right then, but we kept in touch.”

The grills, the beach and the water — what it means to be Miami and the experience of Latin American culture — is reflected in Maria’s drinks in a few ways.  It was important to have first and foremost good representation from Latin American spirits, but unique global brands were essential for a serious list with character and balance.  Part of her role is discovering new product and producers, and to ignore the rest of the world would be a disservice to guests and the bar.

“The beverage program is meant to complement Amara at Paraiso’s food,” she says.  “We are inspired by Latin American ingredients, just as we are by artisanal producers of spirits and winemakers. Miami as the epicenter of this tasting melting pot: diverse, exciting, and fun.”

She’ll say it sounds like an easy-out, but her favorite cocktail on the list really depends on her mood.  We say, good answer to a difficult and loathed question.

“It’s hard for me to pick one I like above the rest.  They are all different and each exist for a reason on our menu,” she says. “If I am craving something refreshing and easy to drink I definitely want to start with a Tulum Spritz. For a cocktail with more body but also citrus forward, I love our Nikkei Sours made with pisco and Japanese whisky. And for a drink that can well start or finish a meal, Monkey Business seems to be a perfect fit, with rum, bourbon, and banana liqueur. It’s like asking a mother to pick a favorite child.”

With a book so rich with content, the possibilities for exploration are endless, especially when you consider food pairings.  To me, and I suspect especially to Maria and Amanda, it’s an endless journey with countless destinations and opportunities to learn, traveling to new places through the stories these drinks tell. It’s about tasting with context and knowing where things come from to understand what purpose they serve and why they were chosen.   As we continue to explore them in longer form here on the blog as a series, you can also follow along each week on Amara’s Instagram, where we highlight beverage on Wednesdays (wine) and Thursdays (cocktails, spirits, beer, and agua fresca.) The adventure has only just begun.  Enjoy Part II next week on Wine Wednesday when it’s Amanda’s turn.