GSN Interview: PAMA’s Brand Ambassador Lynn House

1fe9d5242f6232930e511bac9874edcd18f1badd_320Lynn House is a woman of many talents.  Not only has she overseen the bar program at Chicago’s Blackbird, but she has worked at Graham Elliot and The Drawing Room. Just a few of her mixology awards include being a 2009 national finalist for Bombay Sapphire/GQ Magazine’s Most Inspired Bartender, 2010 National finalist for the 42 Below World Cup Cocktail competition, 2010 national finalist Benedictine/Esquire Magazine Alchemist of our Age, and 2011 national finalist for Bacardi Legacy.  She now represents PAMA liqueur full-time as their official Brand Ambassador and is president of the Chicago chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails).  I caught up with Lynn recently to ask her how she got started.

GSN: What drew you into the world of bartending and mixology?

Lynn: I worked in restaurants to pay for college.  So I have been in the industry for over 25 years.  I was primarily a server.  About 15 years back I had the opportunity to help open Spring Restaurant in Chicago.  Ironically the chef (Shawn McLain) and I grew up together.  We had both worked in the same restaurant during college.  He was receiving huge accolades and for me it was an opportunity to leave causal dining and go into the more financially lucrative fine dining scene.  While there I continued to learn about food, sake, wine and beer.  However what struck me as odd was that we were paying little attention to the products we were using behind the bar.  It made no sense to serve a beautiful piece of fish, that had just been flown in from Japan, with a cocktail made out of blue curacao (fact).  I realized although I had worked in restaurants and bars for years, I had no idea of what I was serving, I wanted to learn more and I wanted us to carry higher quality products and make better cocktails.  I approached my boss, who also ran the wine program, and told her she should incorporate spirits  trainings in with our wine program.  She had no interest and said if that’s how I felt, then I should do the research and lead staff trainings.  I purchased several books on spirits, sat in on tastings, lead staff trainings and the rest as they say, became history.  I would then go on to study with the Academy of Spirits and Fine Service, The Advanced Academy of Culinary Mixology and Bar Smarts.

41Vt9BpmU1L._SY300_GSN: How do you see culinary skills and mixology talent working together?

Lynn: To me these skills go hand in hand.  Both the mixology world and the culinary world are about flavor building, finding a balance, creating a sensory experience and hospitality.  It frustrates me more people don’t embrace this.  I have had chefs tell me cocktails don’t match well with food.  I have had bartenders serve a fantastic drink but can’t tell me one thing about the food menu.  I am fortunate to have come from a culinary and wine background.  I am always looking for ways for the two to intertwine and I believe that is what gives me a unique voice in this business.

GSN: Where do you see the bartending world heading these days?

Lynn: I see it getting a little simpler.  The fact is, the 20 minute cocktail works best in small venues.  Places that do high volume have to find a happy medium.  Our customer is smarter and more willing to step out of their comfort zone when it comes to experimenting with spirits.  We are going to continue to see huge growth in artisanal local made spirits, wine, beer, and bitters.  I think we are also going to see more and more local and national programs train bartenders in their craft.

GSN: What advice would you give to a beginning bartender?

Lynn: My best advice for a beginning bartender is to find someone who they truly admire and see if you can stage with them, or take them out to lunch and pick their brain.  Learn as much about food, wine and beer as possible.  It will help your palate become more well-rounded.  Take advantage of all the training programs available.  Be patient and be humble.

GSN: What three cocktail books do you consider crucial and why?index

Lynn: The Joy of Mixology, The Spirit Journal and the Flavor Bible.  Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal is simply one of the greatest compilations of spirits in one book.  He has an amazing palate and is very detailed and thorough.  The Joy of Mixology has been a wonderful resource for myself to learn about cocktail construction, and The Flavor Bible is an absolute must for everyone.  Even though it is traditionally thought as a book for chefs.  I have so many friends who use this as their number one resource.  My personal copy looks like it has gone to hell and back.

GSN: What’s the one cocktail you’ve created you’re most proud of?

indexLynn: London Calling.  It was a modern twist on a Pimm’s Cup.  Plymouth Gin, Pimm’s #1, ginger syrup, lemon, home-made apple butter and cucumber soda.  It has been featured in countless publications including Gaz Regan’s The Bartenders Gin CompendiumThe Clash was one of my favorite bands of all time and I wanted to create a cocktail that paid homage to them.  That cocktail followed me at 2 two restaurants and was part of my fall menu for 5 seasons.

GSN: Who do you admire in the spirits/bartending world?

Lynn: My heroes are Bridget Albert, Debbi Peek, Steve Olson, Tony Abu-Ganim and Gaz Regan.  They have all had a profound influence on my career.

Bridget Albert & Lynn House

Bridget Albert & Lynn House

GSN: How did you end up working with Heaven Hill and PAMA?

Lynn: I sustained a severe bar injury last year.  I tore the tendon in my right arm from shaking KD ice.  It was incredibly painful and because I could not sit out of work for 3 months it took a very long time to heal.  I started to think about my longevity in this business.  I love the world of liquid, but my body was having difficulty with the hours and physical stress.  I spent the next 8 months putting feelers out and looking for an opportunity that would best fit my character.  Heaven Hill was in the process of creating the position.  I knew several members of the team, had done work for them before and had nothing but the utmost respect for the company.  My dear friend, teacher and mentor Bridget Albert really thought this would be a good fit for me.  She encouraged me to put my name in the hat.  I did, and the interview process began.  Eventually after about 2 months of phone interviews and flying in to meet key people, I found out I got the job.

GSN: What is your life like, as a brand ambassador?

indexLynn: Life as a brand ambassador is a tough one to describe.  First and foremost I love it!!!!  There is a tremendous amount of travel.  I am on the road an average of 3 weeks a month.  For some this can be difficult, however for me it’s exciting.  I have been able to visit places I have never been to before, meet amazing new people and reconnect with friends I often only see once a year at Tales.  You have to be organized because you are juggling several balls at once.  First you are the face of your product, so there is always a sense of being “on”.  I am very involved with our social media, I work not only with bartenders, enlightening them about PAMA, but I work with our distributors and retailers teaching them about PAMA.  I write recipes for national accounts.  No longer do I get menu credit, but I know when I go into an AMC theatre, that’s my recipe on the menu.   I design recipes for individual accounts, participate in events like Repeal Day, Camp Runamok, Tales and PDX.  I work hand in hand with our PR company making guest  bar appearances, tv and newspaper interviews and MC’ing press events.  I design spirit dinners and work closely with the USBG.

GSN: How did your work in theatre and acting play into your work as a bartender and brand ambassador?

Lynn: My work in theatre and acting trained me to be comfortable in front of people.  In acting we talk a lot about filling the space.  When you step onto the stage, you take control of your environment.  That is definitely how I approached the bar.  I treated it like a stage, my customers were the audience and I filled the space.  In acting you also spend a lot of time training your voice.  Bars can be loud and stressful on the vocal chords.  It’s important to know how to project without going hoarse.

GSN: What’s the bar culture like in your hometown of Columbus, Ohio?crw_3341a

Lynn: The bar culture in Columbus is dramatically different now than it was when I grew up there.  When I was growing up we ate at Friday’s and Godfathers pizza.  You drank either beer (mostly beer) or Long Island Iced Teas.  I usually frequented the campus bars whose specialty was Buckets of Suds.  I have just returned from a visit to Columbus and I was in shock at how much it has changed.  Beer is still king there, and there is a thriving Brewery District.  However, the craft cocktail scene started to emerge a few years back and it is continuing to grow.  There is a huge focus on traditional classic cocktails.  Ohio is a control state, and so not everything is available.  I was impressed to see several distilleries had opened.  Their tasting rooms stay constantly packed.  Because it is in a control state, Columbus has really embraced the idea of staying local.

GSN: What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you while bartending?

Lynn: I remember one time there was a leak in my bar sink.  My boss would not believe me.  He kept saying that I was overflowing my sink.  Apparently it chose not to leak on my days off.  He refused to have a plumber come look at the leak. This went on for weeks until finally one Friday night right at the beginning of the dinner rush, the pipe that had been leaking gave way and my bar turned into a lagoon.  It was a fine dining establishment so we had to act like everything was okay.  I’m behind the bar in heels and a nice dress trying to pretend that I wasn’t skating on 3 inches of water.  My boss had just left work, so I got my camera phone and took photos the water just rushing through the bar and sent them to him.  The whole restaurant was laughing because we knew he had to drive an hour to get back to the restaurant. I had a great I Told You So moment when he got back.

indexGSN: How do you keep your life balanced between work and family?

Lynn: I keep 2 phones.  When I’m not working or on the road, the work phone is put away.  Just like I book trips, I book time with family and friends, as well as down time for myself.  You have to decide what is a priority in your life and for me it’s balance.  I love work, but I love my family and friends even more.  When I’m on the road I like to send little notes to them so they know I am thinking about them.

GSN: Lastly, in one sentence, sum up what PAMA is to you.

Lynn: A beautiful well-balanced all natural liqueur that compliments white and dark spirits.

For more information, visit

GSN Alert: PAMA Announces Finalists of “Are You Indispensable?” Cocktail Competition

PAMA POMEGRANATE LIQUEUR COCKTAIL COMPETITIONNEW YORK, Dec. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, the original, all-natural pomegranate liqueur, today announces the six finalists of the first-ever “Are You Indispensable?” Cocktail Competition.  The competition attracted 242 cocktail recipes from professional bartenders and mixologists from more than 30 states that were submitted via, a leading online community for bartenders.  The recipes showcase PAMA as the indispensable modifier that provides a delicately balanced sweet-tart flavor, silky texture and a vibrant ruby-red color to cocktails ranging from aperitifs to nightcaps using both clear and aged spirits.  The competition is hosted by Hanna Lee Communications, Inc., an award-winning agency specialized in spirits, food, wine, and lifestyle PR and social media marketing.

The six finalists, in first-name alphabetical order, are as follows: Brian Means (Fifth Floor Restaurant & Lounge, San Francisco), Christopher James (Ryland Inn, Whitehouse Station, N.J.), Frank Caiafa, (Peacock Alley Restaurant at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York), Julia Momose (The Aviary, Chicago), Ryan Gannon (Cure, New Orleans) and Theo Lieberman (Milk & Honey, New York).

The final competition will be held on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.  Prizes include a Grand Prize of $5,000, a Second Place Prize of $2,000 and a Third Place Prize of $1,000.

It will be judged by leading lights of the spirits and mixology world:

  • Paul Pacult – Noted spirits critic and publisher/editor of The Spirit Journal
  • Steve Olson – Founder of aka wine geek and renowned spirits, wine and cocktail expert
  • Julie Reiner – Doyenne of cocktails and owner of Flatiron Lounge and Clover Club
  • Eben Freeman – Director of Bar Operations and Innovation at the Alta Marea Group
  • Kate Shapira Latts – Vice President of Marketing and a member of the third generation of the family behind Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., the parent company of PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur

The 242 recipes submitted by bartenders across the U.S. showcased the incredible range of base spirits that were modified by PAMA.  Aged spirits included Bourbon, rye, Scotch, rum, Cognac and brandy.  Clear spirits spanned gin, vodka, tequila, soju, pisco, cachaca and absinthe.  Wine/beer cocktails utilized Prosecco, cava, Malbec, Moscato and Sauternes wines, Sherry and lager beer.

“We are delighted by the number of first-rate recipes that were submitted, especially since this is the competition’s first year.  The response demonstrates the high level of enthusiasm for PAMA in the bartending community nationwide,” says Lynn House, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur National Brand Ambassador, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.  “The finalists really took things to the next level.  They showed a sophisticated understanding of using PAMA as the indispensable modifier that makes ordinary cocktails extraordinary.  We wish them all the best of luck at the finals.”

“Competitions are a great platform for brand building.  During the six months of the recipe entry period, we created tremendous buzz for PAMA among bartenders and the media,” says Hanna Lee, President and Founder, Hanna Lee Communications.  “This exemplifies how a cocktail competition can be effectively planned and executed as part of an overall integrated marketing campaign while contributing to the bartending community and spotlighting its talent.”

Basics of Mixology: The Indispensable Modifier

pama_bottleToday’s post is sponsored by PAMA liqueur.  Follow @PAMAPros on Twitter!

Cocktails really come down to one basic principle: a mixture of at least two flavors.  Once you decide what you want to use as the base spirit (think of this as your main course), then you can decide what kinds of additional flavors will accent and highlight the inherent qualities of the liquor.

I do most of the cooking around the house, as well as mix the cocktails.  More and more, I see the two as almost interchangeable.  Really, the only real difference is that cocktails are sipped and not chewed.  Think about it.  We have hot and cold cocktails, ones that use vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs, and they all utilize some kind of basic recipe which can be varied to everyone’s tastes.  Not sweet enough?  Add a bit of simple syrup.  Not sour enough?  Add an extra squeeze of citrus.  Too alcohol heavy?  Add a bit of water, juice or soda.

So, suppose you want to make a gin based cocktail, but you want to play around with it and make it a little softer, a little fruitier.  The addition of a modifier is what you’re looking for.  This can be anything from fruit juice to an amaro to a liqueur.  If you really want to taste the effect a modifier has upon the base spirit, try this experiment:

Taste the base spirit by itself.  Then, take one ounce of your base spirit and add a quarter ounce of your modifier.  Taste again.  Keep adding a quarter ounce and tasting, experiencing how the flavors interact with one another.  At some point, you will find the perfect ratio you prefer.  Make a note of this.  Then try adding a quarter ounce of a third ingredient to your perfect ratio and see what happens.  Generally, most classic cocktails (the ones that have been around for over 75 years) are two or three ingredient drinks.  Of course, bitters and garnishes come into play as well, but in general you can make a decent cocktail without either of these.

PAMA liqueur is an exemplary modifier.  It adds tartness, some sweetness, fruitiness, color and texture to cocktails.  It also works extremely well with just about any spirit you want to use.  In tiki style drinks, I always use a 50/50 blend of real grenadine and PAMA when it calls for grenadine syrup.  It also works in classic drinks like the Jack Rose and the Monkey Gland.

Here’s an original cocktail of mine you’re welcome to try.  With this, I decided to use PAMA as the base and then modify it with citrus, sugar and spice.  It is based on the classic Mexican Sangrita.


Shangra-Lita (Blair Frodelius)
1.5 oz Pama Liqueur
1 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
0.75 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp simple syrup
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
0.5 oz Club soda

Mix all ingredients except club soda in an ice filled shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top off with club soda.  Stir gently.

Basics of Mixology: Training

PAMA_bottleToday’s post is sponsored by PAMA liqueur.  Follow @PAMAPros on Twitter!

Go to most bars in any city, doesn’t matter if it’s New York, New Orleans or San Francisco. Chat up the bartender and ask them what kind of training they got when they were starting out.  Nine times out of ten, they will usually laugh and say, “none”.  It amazes me that a lot of bartenders who have been working for years, still get by with a minimal amount of knowledge and training  It doesn’t have to be that way.  There are several well-respected programs and organizations available to bartenders which will both increase their knowledge and understanding behind the flavor profiles of mixology; but also their skill behind the stick.  Better drinks mean better tips and returning customers.

I was lucky that my early efforts in bartending were helped by some of the luminaries in the cocktail world. Not only did I do a lot of reading, studying and practicing on my own, but over the years I’ve had the opportunity to learn from experts like Paul Pacult, Steve Olson, David Wondrich, Doug Frost and Andy Seymour from the B.A.R. (Beverage Alcohol Resource). Each brings years of practical experience, knowledge and insight into the world of spirits and mixology.  Without them, I would most likely not have started Good Spirits News or made my interest in the world of cocktails more than just a passing hobby.

Each year, PAMA recognizes the importance of learning in the field of spirits, liqueurs and mixology by sending three exceptional bartenders to the intensive five-day B.A.R. program in New York City which enables them to achieve the coveted B.A.R. diploma.  This year Chad Arnholt (Trick Dog, San Francisco), Joy Richard (Citizen Public House/Franklin Restaurant Group, Boston) and Pamela Wiznitzer (The Dead Rabbit, New York) all benefited from the 40 hour course.

In addition, PAMA holds an annual competition open to all professional bartenders which this year will be judged by B.A.R.’s Paul Pacult and Steve Olson, along with Clover Club and Pegu Club’s Julie Reiner, The Butterfly’s Eben Freeman and Heaven Hill Distillery’s Director of Marketing, Kate Shapira Latts.  You can enter your original PAMA cocktail here.

In the autumn of 2012 PAMA held the first Pamalympics in NYC where Josh Perez of Booker & Dax took home the gold medal. The recipe for his winning cocktail is below*.  As well, starting this month PAMA will debut a series of themed events entitled the Bar Star Media Series which will take place in major cities around the country. PAMA also regularly sponsors several cocktail events around the country including the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail, Kentucky’s Camp Runamok and regional USBG (United States Bartenders Guild) Monthly Mixers.

It’s clear that PAMA actively supports the bartending community.  Reason enough to raise a glass to their ongoing commitment to helping bartenders bring their “A” game to their customers.  Cheers!

1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Honey
1 oz. Chobani Greek Yogurt, whipped
Finely Ground Fennel, for garnish

Directions: Stir PAMA, bourbon and honey in a mixing glass with ice for approximately 15-20 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Float whipped Chobani Greek Yogurt on top and garnish with a dash of finely ground fennel.

Josh Perez in action

Josh Perez in action

Basics of Mixology: Grenadine

PAMA_bottleToday’s post is sponsored by PAMA liqueur.  Follow @PAMAPros on Twitter!

These days, customers expect that their cocktails will be made with fresh citrus, high quality spirits, and often hand-crafted syrups, bitters and mixers.  So, when it comes to choosing what you put in your cocktails, it makes sense to go the extra mile and use all-natural ingredients whenever possible.

Pomegranate is a flavor that has been used in cocktails for over a century, although many bartenders many not know it.  Pomegranate syrup is more commonly known as grenadine. The use of grenadine in cocktails dates back to the 1890’s, starting as a substitute for raspberry syrup, and by the 1920’s took over from its berry cousin entirely.  Classics such as the Jack Rose, the Bacardi Cocktail and often the Clover Club, utilize grenadine.  One particular favorite of mine, The Hurricane, calls for grenadine, but very few bars actually include it in their recipes.

Even NOLA’s Pat O’Brien’s which debuted the drink in the 1940’s no longer makes the Hurricane from scratch, but instead uses a powdered drink mix.  The most authentic you can find today in the French Quarter is served at the oldest bar, Lafitte’s.  They use real pomegranate syrup. The difference is discernible.

Traditionally, grenadine (from the word grenade, which looks a lot like a pomegranate) gives cocktails a red color, a slightly tart and fruity flavor, as well as adding some sweetness from the sugar.  However, most grenadine syrups on the market today don’t even use real pomegranate juice in their product. One look at the ingredients listed on a typical bottle found in your local grocery store will reveal that it is usually a conglomeration of corn syrup, artificial flavor and color with an unappetizingly named preservative.

Several years ago, I made the switch to making my own grenadine from fresh fruit and Demerara sugar.  When PAMA was introduced in 2006, I quickly became a convert to the liqueur when I discovered that mixing a 50/50 blend of homemade grenadine syrup and PAMA gave my drinks extra texture, depth of flavor and rich pomegranate character. PAMA is all natural, made with California pomegranate juice in addition to a blend of vodka and tequila to bring it up to 34 proof and keep it stable.

As autumn approaches, I feel that a fruit based cocktail is a perfect way to transition from one season to another.  Below is a recipe for Sangria that is all-natural and includes PAMA to give it some extra pizzazz.

PAMA Sangria5c5b752dc7d3e0cd992573daca4b711e
Glass: White Wine
Garnish: Apple Slice, Orange Wheel, Pomegranate Seeds

1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz. Brandy (I recommend a VSOP cognac)
3 oz. White Wine (I prefer a Pinot Grigio)
1/2 oz. Triple Sec (Cointreau is recommended)
1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
club soda

Method: Combine all ingredients except club soda and wine in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into glass filled with ice and wine. Top with club soda and garnish.

Basics of Mixology: Versatility

Just as in any aspect of life, the more versatile you are, the better your chances of success.  The same thing applies to mixology, and by extension creating great cocktails.  You don’t need to own a lot of complicated tools, or even a back bar’s worth of liquor to be able to make innovative and tasty drinks at home.

Think about the base spirits you’re familiar with.  These are generally broken down into the following styles: brandies, whiskies, rums, gins, vodkas and tequilas.  90% of the cocktails you’ve ever had or will make call for one of these spirits.  Iconic drinks using these include the Sidecar (cognac), Manhattan (bourbon or rye), Daiquiri (white rum), Martini (London dry gin), Moscow Mule (Russian vodka), and Margarita (blanco tequila).

One thing to realize is that each of these drinks only use three ingredients.  Usually a base spirit, a modifier (usually a sweetener like a liqueur or simple syrup, sometimes an aperitif), and a souring agent (juice) or bitters.  I’ve previously discussed the use of modifiers here.  But, to talk just a bit more about modifiers; they generally work well with any base spirit, as long as they are used in the right proportion.  Which is why you should always measure your ingredients using a jigger or similar measuring device.  You can free pour all you want, but it’s doubtful that your drinks will come out exactly the same every time.

In any case, try the following experiment.  Mix the same drink using different ratios.  For example, try stirring a martini with gin and vermouth using a 3-1 ratio, a 2-1 ratio and a 1-1 ratio.  Then taste each one.  You can see how various flavors within the ingredients either blend or tend to dominate the overall profile.  Now try adding one dash, two dashes and three dashes of orange bitters to each drink, then stir.  Taste again.  The bitters will bring a larger cohesiveness to the cocktail in varying degrees depending on how much you use.  Now consider that just these three ingredients: gin, vermouth and bitters contain dozens of flavenoids from the infusions of various herbs and spices.  Even a relatively simple drink like the martini becomes rather complex flavor-wise.

This article’s sponsor is PAMA liqueur.  What is particularly interesting about PAMA is that it works well with all of the base spirits mentioned above.  Having a sweet and tart flavor, it never overwhelms a drink, but rather lifts and enhances it when used in the correct ratio. Experiment #2 is to try and use PAMA as a 4th ingredient in some of your favorite cocktails and see what happens.  Start out using a 1/4 ounce, and then add another 1/4 ounce if you feel the pomegranate flavor is still buried.  You can create new and interesting variations on the classics at any time in this way.  To get you started, here’s a recipe that has a tiki/faux tropical profile.


A Bird in the Hand (Recipe by Eben Freeman, courtesy of PAMA)
Glass: Tiki Mug
Garnish: Pineapple Leaf, Cherry, and Orange Wheel
1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz. Spiced Rum
½ oz. Triple Sec
1 oz. Lime Juice
1 oz. Pineapple Juice
Dash Simple Syrup

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into mug, fill with crushed ice, stir, and top with more crushed ice.

Basics of Mixology: Texture

Early pioneering mixologists knew that great cocktails were more than just a collection of sweet, sour, strong and weak elements.  They used a holistic approach to their drink making, which included visuals (the Blue Blazer is a great example), scent (fresh-cut citrus peel sprays the surface with oils) and texture (the inclusion of egg white).  This time around we’re going to focus on texture.

Unfortunately, most bartenders ignore this important aspect of cocktails.  Martinis are shaken, Old-Fashioneds are a muddled mess of fruit and soda water, and Margaritas come out of a sour-mix slush machine.  I suppose one could argue that these relatively recent changes to the classics are what people expect when they order one from the bar.  But, these are not how they were originally intended to be made, nor are they improvements by any standard.

The texture of a drink means that it has a pleasantly smooth character and that it visually appears to have an elegant and somewhat sexy appearance.  Think of satin, and visualize how it feels in your hand.  Texture in a cocktail does much the same thing.

With PAMA liqueur, many drinks can achieve a smoothness which incorporates all of the above aspects in a cocktail.  Visually, it is a rich, and luscious garnet color.  The olfactory response is mouth-watering due to its intense fruit nose.  The tannins in the juice bring a perceived dryness (similar to what you find in dry red wines) creating a natural mouth-watering response, which in turn gives the drink extra texture.  But, most of all, the blend of pomegranate juice and spirits has a sleek and smooth texture which translates into the glass as pure sophistication and luxury.

Try the recipe below and see what I mean.  Make sure you use a good Cognac and not a brandy.  It makes all the difference.

50/50 Proposition
Glass: Snifter
Garnish: Dash Orange Bitters (I recommend Bitter Truth)
1 1/2 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 1/2 oz. Cognac
Method: Combine all ingredients in a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 40 seconds. Strain into chilled snifter set with 1 large ice-cube.

For more recipes, click on the PAMA ad on the right of Good Spirits News.

GSN Autumn PAMA Contest

Autumn is a perfect time to transition into more fall-like flavored cocktails.  In honor of the season, Good Spirits News is giving away a bottle of Pama Liqueur to a random reader.  All you need to do is answer the following question, which can be found somewhere on the PAMA website.

What two spirits are blended with pomegranate juice to create PAMA?

Post your answer below in the comments section, and we’ll pick one random winner to receive a free bottle of PAMA!  Good luck!

Basics of Mixology: Modifiers

The craft of mixology is one akin to many popular card games.  Easy to learn, difficult to master.  If it were easy, we’d win every custom cocktail contest and make a name for ourselves in no time.   But, there really are just a few basics which everyone should know and understand when creating an original cocktail.   Let’s start with the ingredients.  Almost all cocktails can be broken down into three magic parts: 1) a base spirit, 2) a modifier, and 3) a visual or flavor enhancer, often both.

Base spirits are the easy part.  What will you use as the foundation of your cocktail?  In general you have brandies, whiskies, rums, gins, vodkas and agave based spirits.  The next step is choosing what to add to it.  This is called “The Modifier” or in simpler terms, what makes a cocktail, a cocktail.  If you were to take a base spirit and shake it with ice, then strain it into a cocktail glass and serve it; you would not have made a cocktail.  A modifier takes what you’re already working with, adds to and enhances it, until you have something more interesting and marvelous than either ingredient on it’s own.  A modifier not only takes the edge off an 80 proof spirit, but clarifies the character of the spirit in the same way spices work in cooking.  You can add additional modifiers, bitters, colored liqueurs, creams, herbs or what have you.  The first modifier is really what starts the whole ball rolling.

As this post has been sponsored by the good folks at PAMA liqueur, I’d like to focus on their product as a suggested modifier to work with this month.  I’ve been using PAMA myself for several years now and have recommended it to many people as a high quality and quite useful product.  Unlike many grenadine syrups you’ll find on the market, PAMA actually uses real pomegranates with a color and flavor both natural and enticing.  It’s also 34 proof, which adds a depth and richness to a cocktail, and also boosts the overall quality of the finished product. I often use a 50/50 mix of a real grenadine syrup (which is quite sweet) and PAMA (which has a bright, tart quality) to any cocktail calling for grenadine.

If your customers are looking for something which goes beyond the usual cloying sweetness of a Tequila Sunrise for instance, try using my 50/50 ratio and see what they say.  Watch for their facial reaction also.  It’s sure to start an interesting dialogue.  It also works especially well in the classic Jack Rose cocktail.

If you want to experiment even further, try using PAMA as an alternative to the usual citrus juice/simple syrup blend found in a sour mix or fruit based liqueur such as triple sec.  Remember, Pama is less sweet and more tart than most liqueurs, so you may want to begin by using a different amount than the recipe states.  The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination!  Have fun, and keep mixing!

Here’s a new cocktail for you to try, courtesy of PAMA:

PAMA & Rye
Glass: Rocks
Garnish: Orange Wheel
1 oz. PAMA
1 oz. High Proof Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Orange Juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker.  Add ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish.