Author Archive | Paige Unger



Ever wonder why the drinks you make at home just don’t seem to taste the same as the ones you order at fancy cocktail bars? It’s not because you’re a terrible bartender or because the bartenders you’re visiting have some magical tricks; it’s simply a few steps that ensure quality and flavor.

The number one secret of a great cocktail is fresh squeezed juice. While many people buy their juices, going straight to the source and buying the fruit itself is the way to go. Make your life easier and spend a little money on a hand juicer and a fine strainer. Both are readily available, and using them will result in a better drink.

To get the best tasting juice squeeze juice up to six hours before mixing your drinks. Make sure you are using a fine strainer to remove the pulp. Not only is the pulp unsightly, it actually causes the juice to go bad at a much more rapid rate. Juice with out pulp can last in your fridge for one week.

One cocktail that is great for home bartending is a Fitzgerald. It sounds complicated and tastes complex, but is easy as pie to make. To make a Fitzgerald you’re going to want a good gin. I always recommend Tanqueray for home bars. It’s a great price and is your quintessential London Dry gin; you will never be able to blame the gin for a bad tasting cocktail.

To make a Fitzgerald you’ll also need simple syrup, a mixture of equal parts water and sugar cooked until the sugar dissolves. You’ll shake this cocktail to mix, so if you don’t have a shaker tin a great substitute is a Ball jar with the lid on tight. Sit back, take a sip, and enjoy the spring weather with a Fitzgerald in hand!


The Fitzgerald

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photo by Julie Clemens

Tis the season for snowflakes, long shopping trips, and hot drinks to warm you up on cold nights; whether alcohol is involved or not, the cold of winter is the best time to enjoy hot drinks.

One cocktail I am frequently asked about is the hot toddy. I always laugh because to me a hot toddy is different than the textbook definition toddy. I blame my mom.

Growing up our family was full of tea drinking. I would get home from school, and my mom would get tea and snacks ready for afternoon tea. I suspect hers was occasionally more than tea because from time to time I was not allowed a sip from her cup. As I got older, I was permitted to partake in my mother’s delectable blend of English tea, brandy, and a lump of sugar.

As my taste buds have developed, I have come to love the same combination only upgrading from brandy to cognac. However, my version of a hot toddy is not the norm. Tell someone you make a toddy with French Cognac instead of American Bourbon, and they will most likely balk at the idea. The commonly accepted recipe for a toddy is actually much simpler than my mother’s skewed version.

There are several different versions of toddies, and no one is better than the other. Play around with different combinations or spirits and warm ingredients. Whatever the combination, it will most likely inspire you to sit back, sip, and enjoy the winter’s night.



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A cup of Earl Gray tea
½ oz. Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac
1 tsps. honey


A cup of boiling water
1 oz. bourbon
1 tsps. sugar
A slice of lemon

Paige’s tip: In order to extract the most flavor, press the lemon into the sugar with a spoon before your add the bourbon or hot water. It will release the juice as well as the delicious oils in the rind.

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Last Call

Paige’s award winning cocktail: the Beet Goes On

It’s that time of year when fresh produce becomes a precious commodity and people rush to preserve many wonderful fl avors. From pickling, to canning, to freezing, many people have their own tried and true recipes for keeping admired flavors fresh.

One of the best ways to preserve a fl avor in liquid form is to make a shrub. This time honored approach dates back to the 15th century when Englishmen used to mix alcohol, often brandy, with fresh citrus and citrus peel. A few centuries later Colonial Americans put their twist on the shrub by utilizing vinegar for its preservative qualities and, voila, one of my favorite approaches to fl avor preservation was created.

As a bartender, the majority of my job consists of turning fl avors we find in every day life into liquid form. While I never go for an exact replication, I try to capture the best characteristics of the product. Whether it’s a blackberry thyme puree or a mint syrup, many of your favorite fl avors can make their way from your plate into your glass.

Using different vinegars yields different fl avors. If you wish to create a softer, gentler shrub, such as a strawberry, an apple cider vinegar that is lighter in acidity is ideal. What about a plum shrub? Why not play up the Asian notes and use rice wine vinegar?

The possibilities and combinations are endless.

There are two methods typically used when making a shrub: one hot, one cold. Both begin with equal parts sugar and vinegar of choice. Let’s say you want to make an apple shrub for a fall whiskey cocktail. Begin with one cup of, you guessed it, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar which will highlight the rich warm fl avors of the apples. Slice your apples and let them sit in the vinegar and sugar mixture for two weeks in a dry, cold place. Rotate daily to blend the fl avors evenly and after a fortnight you will have a delicious apple mixture that will complement any bourbon.

Now that you have some info on shrubs get out there and start experimenting with the amazing fl avors of fall. They are a blast to make and even more fun to mix with your favorite spirits!


Beet Shrub

The Beet Goes On

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