Welcoming a Happy Hour to Cypress Tavern with New Snack Menu & Summer Cocktails

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The Cypress Tavern_Back of MenuCheers to summer.  Today Cypress Tavern introduces its first Happy Hour, featuring half price signature cocktails, beer and wine by the glass with chef de cuisine Max Makowski’s all new snack menu which will be available both at the bar and in the dining room.  Visit Michael’s American Grill & Cocktail Bar Tuesday through Friday from 6 to 8pm to toast over  Spiced Marcona Almonds (5), Marinated Olives (5), Mini Cypress Burgers with Jasper Hill Landaff and onion marmalade (9), Shrimp Fritters with chili lime aioli (8), and Potato Chips with creamy leek dipping sauce (7).  Take a dip into four new cocktails for the occasion, as we welcome the new season with a little refreshment, including:  SPICE OF LIFE Tequila Ocho Blanco, Sombra Mezcal, watermelon cordial, scotch bonnet agave (13), PINEAPPLE PISCO SOUR Pisco Waqar, lime, pineapple, egg white (13),  HEMINGWAY OLD FASHIONED Avion Silver, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, grapefruit bitters (13), and MILLIONS OF PEACHES Glenlivet 15 yr, Stills Crossroads ‘Shine, lemon, peach oolong, honey (14).

“Summer cocktails shouldn’t just be for poolside enjoyment,” shares Amanda Fraga, beverage manager at The Genuine Hospitality Group. “The thinking here was to liven the list by adding fruit in interesting ways. We chose a grassy, bright spirit like Pisco in a Pineapple Pisco Sour for a result that is neither sticky nor sweet, and shines with the classic combination of pineapple and lime. Peaches are finally coming in, so we wanted to celebrate that with a play on sweet tea. Jojo’s oolong brings a floral, nutty balance to mellow this fragrant stone fruit and its orchards full of ‘Millions of Peaches’.”

See you at the bar or make a reservation by emailing reservations@cypresstavern.com or calling 305.520.5197. For our a current list of The Genuine Hospitality Group Happy Hours, visit our Genuine Happy Crawl post.  There’s plenty of cheers to go around!

A Cinco de Mayo Victory | More Tacos & Refreshments at Michael’s Genuine & Ella Pop!

Cinco Tacos

We always appreciate new ways to use Taquiza’s blue masa tortillas, so fresh and tasty.

Salud!  As you hop, skip and toast your way around town tomorrow, you are commemorating the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.  But what you are really doing is recognizing and giving thanks for the perpetuity of two Mexican exports — tacos and tequila!  Two of our restaurants in the Design District have a little something special to put a kick in your step and keep the party going, true to form.

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Veggies for life.

General Manager Sandra Pepin adds some festive touches to ella’s menu and look, as she always does in good taste and spirit! Two special tacos include roasted pork with grilled pineapple & picked red onions and shrimp with red cabbage slaw, cilantro, and cotija cheese.  Ella will also run its taco in residencia, the veggie, with cabbage, spread of delicioso black beans and avocado topped with pickled red onion.  Tacos are available two per order or a sampler of one of each at a great price. There will also be a fixins station with lots of limes, shaved radishes and cilantro as toppings; a couple of different hot sauces as well! To drink, ella’s sangria of the day will be cilantro-lime, and TGHG beverage manager Amanda Fraga is bringing in some ice cold Tecate, as is the fashionable choice for Mexican beer in a can.

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Rugged and ready to assist.

At Michael’s Genuine, head bartender Craig Welsh has a new Tequila cocktail on the list, joining Magenta Jimador (Avion Silver Tequila, Liqueur di Camomilla, blood orange, lime, egg white) today through the weekend.  Meet the Mexican Mule (pictured) with Ocho Blanco, hibiscus-ginger syrup, citrus, and ginger beer.

To your health!

Battle of Puebla (via Wikipedia) celebrated country-wide with parades, food, music, folkloric dancing.

Battle of Puebla (via Wikipedia) celebrated country-wide with parades, food, music, folkloric dancing.

Bar Boozled: 3 New Dinnertime Cocktails to Enjoy at Michael’s Genuine

MGFD Cocktail ListHead Bartender Melissa Welcher has been busy keeping Genuine’s cocktail list fresh.  In addition to our daily-changing market special, this week she’s added three to the back of the menu: City Slickers (a bottled cocktail for two), Magenta Jimador, and Fountain of Youth.  We suggest they start you off for dinner.  Day drinkers would be best served sticking to rosé!

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City Slickers | Made by two and best enjoyed with a companion, this is bottled cocktail is boozy and spicy, a winter warmer for a slightly chilly day.  This is Melissa’s twist on a classic cocktail, the Suburban, which dates from the Rococo Age [read: over the top!] of American drinking from about 1875 to 1920.  Ours features HW Double Rye, a blend of 2-year-old and a 16-year-old Ryes with notes of cinnamon, anise, and honey.  Cachaca is made from straight sugar cane juice vs. molasses like most Rums.  Avua Amburana is aged in Amburana wood, typical to the forests of Latin America. Resting in this indigenous wood produces unique bouquet of spices, more caraway than clove.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 4.23.16 PMMagenta Jimador | An adaptation of your classic sour recipe using just enough blood orange instead of sugar to balance the drink, but not too much to mask the Tequila.  Tequila Ocho is an un-aged single quinta (farm) and single vintage Tequila.  The Liquore di Camomilla (seen above as its great for sipping with our pastry team’s new profiteroles dessert!) is made by macerating chamomile flowers in Grappa.  This cocktail is as gorgeous on the eyes as it is on the palate.  Velvety smooth with the froth of egg white to juxtapose its puckered punch.

Fountain of YouthFountain of Youth | Served on one big rock, think of this as an herbal drink that even the non-Vodka drinker would find interesting. St. Augustine Vodka is pot distilled where where Ponce de León is traditionally said to have landed in North America.  100% Florida-grown sugarcane makes for an extremely smooth spirit with hints of green apple, white pepper, and molasses.  If you’re not familiar with Lillet Rosé, we are sorry, but now’s the time!  Great enjoyed with a few ice cubes on a hot day in the park or on the beach, this French apertif wine made from a secret recipe including quanine.  We house-infuse it with pineapple and basil.  Yellow Chartreuse is another secret recipe drink from France and allusion to this cocktail’s name.  Chartreuse is still made by French Carthusian monks from about 130 different herbs. The yellow version has honey and saffron added and is lighter and sweeter than the green, while still adding complex herbal notes to the cocktail.

Amy’s Cinco de Sundae with Tequila Caramel Sauce

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Those of you familiar with the Home Brew Sundae know we don’t shy from booze in our desserts at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink and are always looking for reasons to celebrate creativity in the kitchen.  Tomorrow we have a little fun with Tequila in our caramel sauce for Cinco de Mayo courtesy of Amy Kalinowski.  You may remember this sweet face peeking out from behind the pastry window.  Amy is back in the house and taking on the role of pastry chef now overseeing desserts at Michael’s flagship restaurant. Amy brings almost 10 years of culinary experience to her new post, including three of them spent in the Miami pastry department under the tutelage of the legendary Hedy Goldsmith.

“We are incredibly excited to have Amy back,” says Michael.  “She lights up the kitchen with her smile and brings her infectious enthusiasm, passion and creativity to our pastry program. I know she will shine in this lead role!”

Amy holds a degree from Johnson & Wales University in South Florida. After a few years working at various restaurants as a night plater and cake decorator, Amy found herself at Michael’s Genuine in 2008, where she honed her technical and practical skills as Pastry Assistant. During this formative time at the restaurant, she found herself working with Hedy to develop the Sweets section for Schwartz’s iconic Brunch service introduced in 2009. Putting out countless, weekly-changing plates during those marathon Sunday shifts on the pastry line stretched her stamina and creativity as she began developing recipes of her own.

“I am looking forward to this next chapter in my career with The Genuine Hospitality Group,” Amy reflects. “Seeing the delight on our guests faces after enjoying our creations is a treat in itself.”

Cinco de Sundae

Cinco de Sundae

For Cinco de Mayo, Amy wanted to use traditional Mexican ingredients in an unusual way, as is her style. Behold… Amy’s Cinco de Sundae with housemade coconut ice cream, tequila caramel, grilled pineapple, and toasted coconut and macadamia nuts. She starts with a whole skinned pineapple on the grill, which just gets a sheen of vegetable oil to help deliver juicy grill marks.  She carefully handles the fruit with a kitchen towel, as pineapple’s high water content means it holds heat!  You want that char on all sides, and Amy insists grilling intact makes for a better final product. Once done, she cuts the pineapple into discs, then into quarters. In the restaurant, Amy grates real coconuts and spreads the macadamia nuts in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, toasting them at 300° for about 10 minutes. To assemble the sundae, Amy starts with a deep chilled bowl and layers the ice cream on the bottom, followed by a generous drizzle of tequila caramel and topped with a sprinkle of as many macadamia nuts, coconut and pieces of pineapple you desire.

Since most of us don’t have restaurant grade ice cream machines at home, choose your favorite brand of coconut and make the toppings — they’re what make this dessert distinctly May 5 and unmistakably Amy’s!  Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Tequila Caramel Sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups

1 cup sugar
¾ cup cream
3 tablespoons tequila
¼ cup butter
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon lime juice

Place a sauce pot with ¼ cup of water on the stove, add the sugar and cook over high heat. Do not move the pot until you see the sugar turn a caramel color, then begin to stir the mixture until it becomes a light amber color. When the mixture reaches light amber, turn off the heat and very carefully and slowly whisk in the cream. Once the cream is incorporated, add the tequila, butter, salt and lime juice. Allow to cool to just above room temperature. The caramel sauce will hold up to one month in the refrigerator in a sealed, airtight container.

Crafting a Spirited Journey: The Liquid Projects’ Jennifer Massolo on her Blog, Tasting Series & Fair

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Giving cocktail-making a shot.

It was a rainy early evening, the Saturday following America’s unofficial national holiday celebrating the spirits of the agave plant — known in Mexico as Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day, when I found myself in a friend’s kitchen making its official drink from scratch.  I was pleasantly, surprisingly, comfortable in my newfound role as novice mixologist, eager to flex my margarita-making muscles after a successful first attempt the weekend prior.  Why did it take me so long to attempt something this simple? Squeeze your desired combination of citrus, mix the juice with one part Cointreau and two parts tequila, a little agave for good measure, and shake over ice?  Perhaps it’s not so simple.

It’s a great question, with a not-so-great answer that can be found somewhere near the intersection of fear of failure and lack of confidence, with a dash of my own brand of bitters: the Virgo perfectionist kind. Turns out my hesitation isn’t so uncommon, and The Liquid Projects’ Jennifer Massolo is diving in head first to do something about it.

“I had been in the wine business for many years,” Massolo explained, my iPhone voice recorder capturing a soothing soundtrack of clinking cubes and delightful streams of citrus-laced Don Julio blanco splashing into our chili-salt rimmed shorties. “I was in Vancouver with Remy Cointreau out of college, and after four years, I had fallen in love and moved to Chile and got a job with a winery.”

When Massolo eventually moved to Miami in the early 2000s, the Miami International Wine Fair came calling.  She knew she wanted to get out there and do something on her own, and putting this event on, eventually directing it, gave her a great base of knowledge of the industry. She was meeting people that weren’t just in the wine business, but back to her original calling — spirits.

“I realized that this craft spirits movement was very appealing to me, the many stories I’d encounter of people making things by hand,” she continued.

The meaning of “craft” isn’t so black and white. In terms of spirits, it is used but not legislated and regulated like in the beer world.  According to Massolo, the vernacular craft is used, sometimes inappropriately co-opted for its trendy significance, when the following criteria are present in a spirit:

  • Manual process, meaning at the most fundamental level, the use of copper pot stills on which you have to physically stop the distillation process by hand.
  • Smaller volume of production.
  • Usually there is a family or national history.[1]
  • Distinctive ingredients in the recipe.
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Copper pot stills at Suntori Whiskey’s Yamazaki Distillery, 20 minutes from Kyoto by train. Longtime MGFD customer, whiskey aficionado and friend of Massolo’s Steve Berry and I went on the property’s very thorough and enlightening tour (for the novice and the expert alike!) when we traveled to Japan in April.

Spirited Sirens is Massolo’s new series of educational seminars primarily geared towards – but not solely for – women and artisanal imbibing.

“Initially it was just a blog about women and spirits, bringing some of my knowledge through travels and dining whether down the block or in another country,” she explained. “In order to start the blog I knew I had to do something significant, so I flew to Atlanta, rented a car, and drove through Tennessee and Kentucky and visited all the distilleries I could by myself.  It took a week, and after 1,200 miles I visited Corsair, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses…  You learn so much just by getting out there, even if you are on the basic tour at Jim Beam.”

So that was the way it began, with Massolo taking 2013 by the horns and embarking on an adventure.  And journey she did, taking it all in, with plenty of pictures to catalogue the experience — beautifully — as you can see for yourself.  And there were plenty of cocktails along the way.  Tasting is the only way to develop your palate, learn what you like – and most importantly what you don’t. Like badly-made, sickeningly sweet margaritas.

“Sugar in cocktails is meant to do more what salt does for food than to make it sweet,” she noted. “It’s meant to temper the alcohol, to mellow it. It’s kind of a magical tool, in the right proportion. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the margarita.”

So it turns out that with a little encouragement, like a little furry friend once proved in Ratatouille, anyone can cocktail.  Properly even.  The taste of my margarita brought Massolo back with memories of her father’s hand-squeezed speciality. And the spiced rim? “Genius!”

223430-250On Monday, we dive in without hesitation again, welcoming Massolo and her Spirited Sirens tasting series to our private dining room at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District. Her two-hour sampling session is dedicated to tequila and mezcal, the roasted, smokier cousin spirit of tequila made from the fermented juices of the agave plant.  Amid tasting and talking, just like she and I did in her kitchen, you will have the opportunity to learn about the basic history of the tequila and mezcal making process; how to incorporate them into cocktails; the styles and nuances of both and how to pair them with different dishes. And we hope, get inspired.  $35 per person includes a welcome mezcal margarita cocktail, as well as two neat tequilas, two neat mezcals and one closing dessert cocktail, a Paloma with tequila, grapefruit, lime, agave, plus two dishes to share family-style from the genuine kitchen and a treat from Executive Pastry Chef, Hedy Goldsmith.

Click here to follow The Liquid Projects, including its Spirited Sirens series and upcoming Craft event in Miami November 8-10. Salute!


[1] Every product has to start somewhere, even mass market corporate brands, so I take this to mean that this history both establishes a narrative key to the product’s identity and its brand equity, and with my naivety speaking, protects against the potential tarnishing influences of the market. In effect this indelible link to the past, self-regulates product quality and consistency for its future innovation.