The Liquid Diet

This week a Tuesday jumped up and bit me! All of the sudden I realized I was a few drinks deep and thirsty for more. It was one of those, “I’ll just go have one” nights, and those usually end up in the most fun.

Tuesday December 13, 2011 at 6:54 PM MST:

I apologize in advance if you are not a Denver twitter geek, because the following article features way too many @, # and names of people that aren’t necessarily their actual names.

An ever growing social networking event happens on a Tuesday every month at a new location which is chosen by the crew at the previous location. It is a great opportunity to meet the food and booze elite of Denver. Not sure about elite, but great like minded people non-the-less. This event, called #twEATdrink, is put on by the Marketing Juggernaut Sarah Gore (@sarah_gore) of STANCE fame.

This week we convened at the new Pinche Tacos restaurant on York just off Colfax. In attendance: @chefswifebetsy, @TheSqueakyBean, @StarBar_Denver, @jacobharkins, @kawiracer14, @polaspilates, @liamoran, and @jlfeisty, just to name a few. I mentioned we were at Pinche Tacos, so I must tell you about their crispy pork belly tacos with roasted garlic! Not some shredded sloppy pork belly you see so often, but a whole 2 ounce chunk of porky goodness a top masa tortillas with whole roasted garlic cloves. I may have eaten the entire taco in one bite. Don’t judge me.

Mr. Johnny Ballen, owner (mostly I just saw him painting the walls at the Squeaky Bean, but apparently he owns the joint) of the soon to re-open Squeaky Bean, designed the bar program at Pinche, so I knew cocktails were on my agenda. I downed a Dark & Stormy quick to get the juices flowing and then on to a more adventurous cocktail called the Mex-Sazerac, a playful play on the New Orleans classic with rye whiskey, sugar, absinthe rinse, Peychaud’s bitters and lemon.

The original Saerac actually used Cognac called Sazerac de Forge et Fils, but was later altered to the current rye whiskey seen today when phylloxera wiped out most of the grape vine root stock in France. Originally, Silner bitters were used but later the bitters produced by the local drug store operator Antoine Amedie Peychaud were adopted in the recipe. It was prepared in the ‘Old Fashioned” style where alcohol, sugar cube and bitters were muddled. A old fashioned glass was filled with ice to cool, then ice was dumped and absinthe was poured in, swirled around and discarded. The alcohol/sugar/bitters mixture was then poured into the glass and served. The name “Cock-Tail” is actually defined as alcohol, sugar, water and bitters.

The twist with the Mex-Sazerac is the use of Xocolatl Mole Bitters made by Bitterman’s which uses the spices in classic Mole Poblano to flavor this specialty bitters. It gave the Sazerac a roasty smoky flavor that was an obvious match for the pork belly tacos. The pork tacos were not very spicy on their own so the addition of that spice from the dried chiles in the bitters really made the pork belly pop. Leave it to Johnny to respect the classics, but still mess with you just a bit.

Tuesday December 13, 2011 at 9:15PM MST:

Now all greased up with tacos and cocktails I needed a sugar fix so I bellied up to the counter at D Bar Desserts on 17th. I was up for a pairing of dessert wine, so I took a quick glance at the list and it didn’t take long to set my sights on Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine. This is regarded as one of the best ice wines in the world. So naturally you would expect it to produced in non other than…..Canada!?! Shocking I know, but just north of the border on the Niagara Penninsula they leave the Vidal grapes on the vine until the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius before they harvest, and then in the old world German style produce some of the greatest ice wines made today.

Because the temperatures are so low the grapes are free of Botrytis cinerea (noble rot) and are therefore said to “come in clean”, which refers to a cleaner flavor free of the “funk” associated with other dessert wines infected with Botrytis. Since I was feeling gluttonous and greedy I paired the Inniskillin with both a decadent chocolate cake as well as a ginger sponge cake with apple soup. The ice wine is so sharp and versatile that even though these two desserts’ only commonality was the insane amount of sugar, they both really set off the Inniskillin. The scrumptious fat kid session along with some conversation with my friend Keegan (Chef/owner) made this just what I needed to end the night in a self induced food comma.

I blame it on my busy schedule that I constantly have to cram so much food, drink and fun into a single day, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make to continue to bring you closer to the great experiences available to us in Denver.

Quite a week in the life of THE LIQUID DIET…what will this week hold in store…stay tuned!

About Jensen Cummings

Jensen Cummings (@JensenDCummings) is the Executive Chef at Row 14 in downtown Denver. He calls his food "Pangean Cuisine" and his teaching style "Fortune Cookie Philosophy" so you know he's a little off his rocker! His side passion project is to collaborate with brewers on chef/food inspired beers meant to be paired with high end cuisine. Jensen is an avid beer collector, student of spirits, soon to be Certified Cicerone and a sommelier in training. Basically, he is just really into adult beverages and super geeky!

  • Ryan

    So bummed to have missed the Pinche twEATdrink, but stoked that it was another successful gathering.

    Although you only have one day a week to commit, don’t miss Euclid Hall’s daily speciality beer tappings in January. We are going to dress you in a warm and cozy beer sweater all month long. We will also have BrewBites every Tuesday in January. (3) 2oz tastes of beer, and 3 bite sized snacks paired with a common theme. Happy Holidays and a Merry New Year!

    Pot Luck Bottle share on Christmas day?