New Bartender, New Menu at TBA on sacurrent.com

By Jessica Elizarraras

As the cocktail scene really kicks into gear in San Anto, familiar faces are popping up and manning serious wells at area bars. Such is the case at TBA, an industry favorite watering hole now in the hands of new bartender Joshua Brock.

The 31-year-old Brock joined TBA this spring and trained under Jonny Yumol, who first helped open the bar in June 2013 and is now taking his talents to Paramour (not open as of press time, so quit askin’). Although Brock has spent the last 16 years working in some area of the food industry, from back of the house to stints as a server helping James Moore open Boiler House, he’s never tended a bar until now. But his background in the food-service world, along with his wife’s insistence he learn how to cook, have helped hone his palate—something you definitely want in your neighborhood bar.

TBA’s booze and food menus have received interesting facelifts. The beer selection has grown to almost 50, while the bar snacks have been reinvigorated to include a house-made beer cheese, mussels en escabeche with house remoulade and assorted pickled veggies, including spicy cauliflower, spicy pickles, apples, garlicky asparagus and green beans along with a jarred antipasti with hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, marinated feta, olives, caper berries and banana peppers.

“We wanted something that takes less time to make than a cocktail, that’s also conducive to drinking,” Brock said of the new menu, which still includes cheesy sammies along with a new Cuban.

While classics like Yumol’s Juan Collins, South Flores and cheeky Rye n’ Gosling are still available, Brock’s approach to cocktails mirrors that of his “sensei,” but he’s also relying heavily on his taste buds to create new streamlined drinks his small staff can recreate.

I stopped in on a recent weeknight for a Rollin’ Dry, a take on the classic Boulevardier that uses a guajillo, ancho and Thai chile-infused Aperol. The results are smooth and bright. Brock’s also added a Piscombobulator that uses tres sour Becherovka (a Czech amaro), salty ume plum vinegar and a touch of citrus for a wintry Pisco ‘tail. But a clear winner that evening was the Apollo’s Creed, a spiffy upgraded bourbon and Coke, which combines Cherry Heering, a splash of coffee and a cinnamon simple syrup to tasty results.

As TBA widens its audience by including classes and beer seminars in the coming months, along with a new happy hour, Brock and Moore’s ultimate compliment is patronage by fellow industry members.

“Anyone can go home and pour themselves a drink for a lot cheaper but, a lot of the people who come in here are chefs, cooks, people with a palate who can appreciate quality products and [I enjoy] being able to create something for them that meets their standards, that they don’t have to do the dishes for and at a price that’s not gauging,” Brock said.

Singapore Sling by Restaurant Flora in Oakland on honestlyyum.com

SINGAPORE SLING
Ingredients:
1 1/2 oz dry gin
1 1/2 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Benedectine
1/4 oz Cherry Heering
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Directions:
Combine all the ingredients except the Angostura bitters into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake.
Double strain over fresh ice into an 8 oz highball glass.
Garnish with 2 dashes Angostura bitters, a pickled cherry and a lime wheel.

Here, 10 places to celebrate this Valentine’s Day on harpersbazaar.com

New York:

..Rainbow Room: There’s nothing more amorous than a perfectly illuminated city skyline offset by fresh cut flowers. Enter Rainbow Room, the newly re-opened New York City landmark. For Valentine’s Day, Rainbow Room offers a prix fixe menu for dining and dancing and a selection of cocktails, including the Old Fashioned Romance made with Rittenhouse Rye, Lazzaroni Amaretto, Cherry Heering Liqueur, and Peychaud’s Bitters…

 

harpersbazaar.com/culture/travel-dining/a9783/most-romantic-restaurants-in-america/

The Future of Cocktails: 8 Booze Trends To Watch For In 2015 on pastemagazine.com

By Amy McCarthy

The world of cocktails has been changing for a couple of years now, and the present may be the best time in history to be a drinker. No longer is it acceptable for restaurants and bars worth their salt to serve boring cocktails made with subpar spirits. Even chain restaurants claim to have “craft cocktails” on their menu, and that’s due in large part to the efforts of creative bartenders who have worked hard to elevate their craft.

Last week, these bartenders from across the country poured into San Antonio for the city’s annual Cocktail Conference. Over four days, industry professionals and civilian booze enthusiasts alike learned how to make better drinks in highly specialized seminars, along with sampling a variety of new and unique spirits from large and small distilleries across the world. Of course, there were also more cocktails consumed than should be humanly possible.

In scope, the San Antonio Cocktail Conference was really a spectacle. Four days of non-stop drinking is remarkable, and even more so when you’re watching bartenders make nuanced and highly-involved cocktails at dizzying speeds. These mixologists were as much artists as they were bartenders, stenciling logos and emblems into cocktail foam in vivid Angostura orange and quirky homemade herbal tinctures.

On display in San Antonio was the future of cocktails, presented by the barmen and women that make them possible. In concert with the country’s finest spirit purveyors, these bartenders mixed up drinks created from obscure Prohibition-era recipes alongside some of the industry’s most futuristic technology. As you belly up to your own watering holes in 2015, these trends will continue to make the world of craft cocktails even brighter.

More Sparkle
Low-proof cocktails are just as popular as their spirit-forward counterparts, and champagne is an ideal accompaniment to many different kinds of booze. French 75s will continue to be popular into 2015, infused with herbal flavors like lavender or ginger and served frequently with gin. One cocktail of note, mixed by San Antonio’s own David Naylor, was the light and refreshing Poinsettia. Made with Roca Patron tequila, cherry heering, and Segura Vidas sparkling cava, this may be the year’s trendiest summer cocktail.

 

Rise of the Machines
Bar equipment has moved far beyond the usual jigger and shaker. At this new breed of cocktail bar, you’re likely to see machines that were once only found in high-end restaurants and medical offices. Centrifuges and sous-vide machines are finding their way into more and more establishments, thanks to their ability to develop intense and nuanced flavor combinations. At the Woodford Reserve station, bartenders used a nitrogen-powered ice cream maker to freeze the Conference’s signature cocktail, a bourbon-based Rosa Corsa, into a sweet and boozy sorbet. Another bar used a spun sugar machine to make Fernet-flavored cotton candy. The future is now.

Bitter, Not Sweet
Thanks to the popularity of fruity drinks like Appletinis, most of the cocktails served in bars are way too sweet. Sugar is an essential ingredient in many cocktails, but most lack the bitter components that create complexity of flavor. Now, even fruity cocktails are given a dash (or three) of bitters, and bitter liqueurs like Campari and Suze are more popular than ever. It may take some time to adjust to this new world of bitterness, but you’ll soon start craving the balance it provides to even humble drinks like gin and tonic.

What Was Old Is New Again
The use of Prohibition-era recipes in cocktail bars is nothing new, especially when you consider that cocktails wouldn’t even exist without the putrid spirits that the ban made necessary. Still, though, a variety of obscure ingredients are finding a new popularity not seen since before the stock market crashed. Bitters in flavors of all kinds, including rhubarb, chamomile, and celery, will continue to improve too-sweet cocktails. Shrub, an even older concoction of vinegar, sugar, and fruit, will also be popular among mixologists this year.

Sherry Is Having A Moment
Fortified wine is something that most of us have little familiarity with. This fortified wine is one of the unsung heroes of the cocktail world, providing complexity and balance to cocktails with just a splash. Oloroso, tempranillos, and other fine sherries will be prominent on bar menus this year, and you won’t find them all by themselves. At The Monterey, an excellent bar and eatery in the newer, hipsterier San Antonio, you’ll find the country’s most robust sherry program, an excellent premonition for what is to come for those that love fortified wines

The Meteoric Rise of Mezcal
There was no booze more buzzed about last weekend than mezcal. This smoky, complex agave-based spirit isn’t necessarily easy on the entry-level drinker’s palate, but it can be mixed beautifully into a cocktail that is easy to sip. Bartenders love mezcal due to its complexity and boozy character, which means that you’ll see more and more of it on menus in 2015. The mezcal negroni was a particularly popular drink, along with more approachable fruit juice based cocktails, like the fruity strawberry-mint cocktail created by Wahaka Mezcal bartenders.

Vodka Is Out, White Whiskey Is In
Coming in right behind mezcal in terms of ubiquity is white whiskey, known to most of us as moonshine. When brewed legally, white whiskey differs from its brown liquor brothers in that it never sees the inside of an aging barrel. The resulting spirit is smooth, but has actual flavor unlike vodka. Texas Moonshine Company, based in Comfort, Texas, is even distilling white lightning from non-traditional ingredients like prickly-pear cactus and jalapenos. This year, you’ll find it mixed into everything from Moscow Mules and martinis.

Creeping Culinary Influence
Now that many craft cocktail bars are inside fine dining restaurants, bartenders are taking culinary cues from the kitchen. Infused spirits will continue to be popular, but you won’t just find fruit and herb-infused tequilas and gin behind the bar. Ingredients that require culinary skill and technique, like rum infused with brown butter and balsamic-berry jams, are cropping up everywhere. Mixologists are also catching on to the molecular gastronomy trend, evidenced by the prevalence of gels, foams, and chemical emulsifiers in many drinks.

 

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