The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2017

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48  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2017 We've partnered with Chef's Roll & Somm's List, the global culinary and wine professional networks, to learn more about beverage experts from across the country. RYAN MCGRAW Mixologist at Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails in Irvine, CA In your opinion, what is the most important element in a cocktail? It comes down to balance and depth of flavor. Too often I have ordered a cocktail that has one ingredient that dominates and masks the rest. Cocktails are meant to be experienced. It is important to have each flavor expressed well and in cohesion with the others. Has a notable individual, cocktail, experience, bar, etc., inspired you throughout your journey? In 2004, I met an older bartender named Simeon in a small bar-hut atop a cliff just outside of Falmouth, Jamaica. He made incredible cocktails. He told me that "a cocktail should be tailor-made for each customer. If done correctly, that person will always remember that drink, and in a way, will immortalize you in their memory." That conversation has inspired me creatively ever since. How has your cocktail style evolved? I've come to truly understand that less is more. You don't need many ingredients to make a great cocktail. As my knowledge of spirits increases, I find that the amount of ingredients I use decreases. When you pare down the quantity of ingredients you use, you can more effectively focus in on the flavors you are building. LAURA JOHNSON Head Distiller/Owner & Founder at You & Yours Distilling Co. in San Diego, CA How long have you been distilling and pro- ducing your own spirits? Have you always had a passion for spirits and distillation? I've been distilling for about two years now. I've always had a passion for cooking and creating flavors, and falling in love with the art of distilling was, in a way, a natural extension of that. Where do you get your inspiration for specific distillations and flavor notes? Really just from eating and drinking and doing my research. I'm all about developing your palate and palate vocabulary. If you can constantly be learning and discovering new flavors and flavor combinations, the creative outlet is endless. Being able to communicate those flavors to others is just as important. You & Yours Distilling Co. has a few spirits in their portfolio, including You & Yours Vodka, Sunday Gin and Navy- Strength Sunday Gin. Are there any other spirits/liqueurs in the pipeline? We've got our two flagship spirits: Y&Y Vodka and Sunday Gin, which we produce all year long. We just released a super small-batch bourbon barrel-aged gin and we have some Italian-style spirits in the pipeline next—an aperitivo and a couple of amaro and vermouth-style liqueurs. ALLIE POINDEXTER General Manager/Sommelier at Henrietta Red in Nashville, TN What is your wine and cocktail philosophy, and how does it guide the selections in Henrietta Red's beverage program? We support like-minded folks who are also operating on a smaller scale and are passionate about deliv- ering an ecologically and ethically sound product. As a result, we feature a lot of natural, biodynamic and organic wines from small wineries, along with craft spirits, ciders and beers. At the same time, we don't take ourselves too seriously. There's nothing I love more than an ice-cold Coors Banquet on a warm summer day. Coors might not be a small producer ultimately concerned with its environmental impact, but it sure tastes great in the heat. What are some of the most interesting cocktail and food pairings you've had as of late? Fino sherry and oysters are delicious together. We have a cocktail on our menu called Rebujito that's made with fino sherry, lemon, lime, simple syrup, mint and soda. It's so refreshing and the sherry, mint and citrus provide a nice complement to the brininess of oysters. What is your thought process when choosing wines for your wine-by-the-glass menu? For our white, sparkling and rose wines-by-the-glass, I look primarily for bottles that pair well with oysters. Whites like Muscadet and Verdicchio are classic pairings, along with dry, spritzy sparklers and mineral driven roses. For our red wines- by-the-glass, I include mostly lighter-bodied options like Pinot Noir and Gamay. I'm always on the lookout for interesting producers and off-the-beaten-path varieties. If you are a mixologist or wine professional interested in being featured here or want more information on Chef's Roll and Somm's List, please email PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREI'S PHOTO: LINDSEY MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO: ANDREW THOMAS LEE

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