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Home > CHEF SECRETS > Las Vegas Chef Secrets > Tony Abou-Ganim (Part 2 of 3)

Tony Abou-Ganim

The Modern Mixologist

    Infusion Jars

The Modern Mixologist

TravelsinTaste.com: Talking about the importance of fruit and fresh fruit, are there any infusions that work better than others? Either from a preparation standpoint or a taste standpoint? Does seasonality play a factor?

Abou-Ganim: I would agree with the seasonality, especially if you're using fruits. You are going to get the best results when fruits are at the peak of their season. In the summertime, for instance, Bing cherries are one of my favorites. Obviously, cherries are huge in Michigan -- where I'm from -- as are blueberries and strawberries in the summertime. I will go crazy with Bing cherries. I'll brandy some of them for the winter for Manhattans and I will infuse rum and make fresh Bing Cherry Daiquiris with infused rum. It's kind of hard to say what type of infusions are going to last the longest or have the best result as best results are subjective. . You've got to embrace the season and really celebrate it. When it's over, it's over. But if you can have a little taste of that in the winter by way of brandying one of those cherries and enjoying it in a Manhattan in December, it kind of flashes back a little memory. I do a lot of Limoncello. To me, it's very practical because I do a lot of fresh-squeezed lemon juice. By simply peeling the lemons before I squeeze them I get double duty out of that lemon. Then I put that away for a while; it takes me three months to make my Limoncello. I have jars of Limoncello that will mature at different times. It's really easy and basically I'm making it for next to nothing because I would have thrown those lemon peels away. You can make Orangecello and Grapefruitcello, too; you can have fun that way, as you can utilize as much of the fruit as possible, and it also helps keep your cost down. At Petrossian in the Bellagio they always have an infusion going and they always have a regular one. They use fresh frozen fruit so that they have a consistent product out year round. I have no problem with fresh-frozen fruit. Because generally when you buy fresh-frozen fruit they've picked it at the peak of the season, so in something like an infusion it's actually probably better, in a way -- unless you're at the peak of season. It's a consistent way to get the best-flavored fruit.

The Modern Mixologist

TravelsinTaste.com: We know you had a Las Vegas book signing in November for your book, "The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails." When you do book signings, do you demonstrate cocktail techniques?

Abou-Ganim: It kind of depends on how much time I have and what the audience is like. If I get a nice group, and they want to sit and have more of a demonstration, then I'll go into some basic techniques that you need to know to make any of the cocktails in the book.

My plan [for signings this winter] is to make the Spiced Cider Toddy because it’s the perfect Thanksgiving, fall and winter drink. It’s a little fun. It's something you could do for the holidays. To make the Rock & Rye takes a fortnight, so I'm going to demonstrate how to set that up, which makes a nice gift as well. My sister-in-law is giving everyone Limoncello for Christmas this year because this fall we made a batch in Michigan when I was there; so she's giving them the recipe from the book -- a recipe for a Serrano cocktail, which is one of my cocktails that featured Limoncello, with a bottle of Limoncello and two beautiful little glasses that can go in the freezer. It’s a thought-out gift; it's not just, "I have to get my friend a gift, let's go buy some candles." It's more of something that she thought out and it's not crazy expensive and you have to put a little time and love into it. Last year she did my Hot Buttered Rum: She gave a nice little jar of Hot Buttered Rum Batter with a small bottle of rum, the recipe and a nice little handmade card.

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