Next Week is The Bee’s Knees!

Thirsty Thursday is the Bee’s Knees, so we have an announcement! Next week The Genuine Hospitality Group is joining Caledonia Spirits in their annual Bee’s Knees Week promotion encouraging creative cocktails in support of bee education. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Amara at Paraiso, and Tigertail + Mary will each feature their own spin on a Bee’s Knees cocktail – traditionally made with gin, lemon, and honey. They will also feature a special dish to be paired with the cocktail, where honey’s the star – of course. Check it out next week only, September 23rd to 29th!  No wonder the expression came to mean “the height of excellence”, popular in the U.S. in the 1920s, along with “the cat’s whiskers”… or meow!

So why now?  Established in 2017, Bee’s Knees Week has collectively donated over $31,000 nationally to non-profit bee and pollinator organizations. The Bee Cause Project is an organization “working to help inspire the next generation of beekeepers and environmental stewards by installing beehives in local schools and organizations.”

You might be saying, what’s all this buzz about bee’s? Why are bees so important? Well, as a big player in pollination, the bee affects the entire balance of our ecosystem. Recently, bee populations have declined rapidly due to threats such as pesticides, mites, and colony collapse disorder. According to Bee Informed, 45.2% of honeybee colonies were lost last year. TGHG is doing our part to help! During Bee’s Knees week, $1 of each cocktail ($12 across all restaurants) benefits The Bee Cause Project. Keep reading to learn more about the special cocktails and dishes buzzing next week, and follow the fun nationwide on social media at #beeskneesweek.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Cocktail: Bee Keeper Barr Hill Gin, saffron-infused honey, lemon (Jorge Hernandez, Head Bartender) 
Dish: Honey Glazed Wings calabrian chili agrodolce (Dillion Wolff, Chef de Cuisine) Also available during Happy Hour!

Amara at Paraiso

Cocktail: Tarragon with the Wind Barr Hill Gin, tarragon, green chile, honey (Billy Yoder, Bar Manager)
Dish: Fried Queso Blanco honey sherry vinaigrette, aleppo pepper, lemon, fresh herbs, watermelon radish (Michael Paley, Executive Chef) 
Also available during Happy Hour!

Tigertail and Mary

 

 




Cocktail: Miss Beehavior  Barr Hill Gin, shiso-honey, lemon (Jonathan Cano and Austin Conway, Head Bartenders)
Dish: Peach + Speck Pizza taleggio, sofrito, hot honey (Stephen Ullrich, Executive Chef)

 

 

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!

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.

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.

A Taste of Cypress Tavern, Opening Tomorrow!

Cypress Tavern Flyer_ Exerior Blog

We’ve been working hard over the past month to ready Cypress Tavern and tomorrow’s the big day!  From mind to paper to reality, Michael’s new American Grill & Cocktail Bar is here.  Our words to live by are now emblazoned on the windows at NE 2nd Avenue and 36th Street.  Most importantly, our staff is pumped to share it all with you after a week of intensive training on the spirit of Cypress Tavern, what the concept means, and how it represents Michael and the food we like to eat here at The Genuine Hospitality Group. You’ll recognize some familiar faces… and meet new ones!

Marrow Bones with Garlic Toast

Marrow Bones with Garlic Toast

Cypress Tavern is rooted in top notch food and service with an old world sensibility. Michael evokes the simplicity of classic brasserie fare in Dinner and Weekend Brunch menus.  Little by little, we’ve toured the dishes just as our Front of House team has, using Cypress Tavern’s Instagram to share images of the food they’ve tasted through, as well as the menu descriptions that Chef put together to explain how product is sourced and dishes are prepared in the kitchen.  So far, French Onion Soup is the favorite in show of likes, with Head Bartender David Ferree’s American Vesper that we are calling Mr. Smith a close second.  As for the most comments?  The wood-grilled Harris Ranch 12 oz. NY strip in Steak Frites — which beat out 11 other steaks to earn a spot on Michael’s entrées list!  “It just ate the best,” says TGHG executive chef Bradley Herron.

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DavidThe Tavern’s menus are suited for exploration, offering a nice variety of what Cypress’ kitchen does best, presented in an approachable way and at a great price point. Dinner includes Appetizers, Entrées, Large Plates and an expanded Sides section from the wood burning grill and rotisserie. On Saturday and Sunday, Savory and Sweet plates escalating in size give guests flexibility in crafting their Brunch experience.  The Genuine Hospitality Group Wine & Spirits Director Eric Larkee takes full advantage of Cypress Tavern’s bar with Head Bartender David Ferree.   We like that David is a beer geek and have enjoyed hearing him walk the team through his list including some solid local craft as well as international beers (3 tap and 9 bottles).  Larkee’s got 50 wines by the bottle, and the two have had a lot of fun working on 17 new cocktails (almost as much fun as we have had as their guinea pigs!).  In what has shaped up to be an intelligent mix of classics with some twists, Cypress’ bar offers 10 total cocktails for dinner and 10 for weekend brunch.

 

The new cypresstavern.com

The new cypresstavern.com

We look forward to welcoming you to a comfortable, classy new restaurant!  Doors open beginning 6PM tomorrow Thursday, October 29 at 3620 NE 2nd Avenue in Miami’s Design District, walk-ins welcome and reservations encouraged.   Call 305.520.5197 or email reservations@cypresstavern.com to book.   Dinner: Tuesday to Thursday 6PM – 11PM, Friday and Saturday until 12AM, and Sunday until 10PM. Weekend Brunch (Beginning this Halloween weekend!): Saturday and Sunday 11AM – 2:30PM. Closed Monday. $5 Design District Valet is available, as well as street parking in the city lot in between 37th and 38th street.  Visit cypresstavern.com for current menus.