Thought to be the first recipe book about cocktails, the bartender’s guide “How To Mix Drinks or A Bon Vivant’s Companion” was published in 1862, written by Jerry Thomas and read by any bartender worth his flip, fizz or julep. An original copy of this book and dozens of others acquired by Cointreau was on display last night during their French-inspired cocktail party in Dallas.
The setting was the beautiful and historic Aldredge House located on Swiss Avenue. There, guests enjoyed Cointreau cocktails prepared by brand mixer Kyle Ford and later entertainment provided by Lady Rizo who is ringer for a young Rosemary Clooney.
I had a chance to converse with Ford as well as sip a few of his cocktails.
Tell us a bit about La Maison Cointreau.
We first launched this event in New York and immediately brought it to Dallas. We love Dallas and understand that there is this great drinking culture here. So we invited everybody in and they got to meet Alfred Cointreau, sixth generation of the Cointreau family, and we welcomed them into the kitchen to make their own Cointreau cocktails.
You made it look so easy to create these cocktails.
Absolutely, it is fine to go out and enjoy these drinks at a bar, but you can make them at home. Cointreau is the original French triple sec, but many people do not see this as a base spirit. It is an 80 proof alcohol. So it is just as strong as rum or tequila that you might use in your cocktail. It is sweet so you just have to balance it well. That’s why we mixed Cointreau with fresh lime juice and muddled strawberries or raspberries or basil and mint. Whatever catches your eye.
To me this is what this is all about. Not just the fun and the beautiful people. It is about walking away confident that you make this at home.
So you are the brand ambassador?
Yes, they call me brand ambassador or corporate mixologist for Remy Martin Cointreau. My job can be varied day to day. Right now we are concentrated on La Maison and taking this to four different cities. I am consumed with that. But I am stationed in New York and my job there is to go into bars promoting our product and make sure they know why they should pour Cointreau.
I love to throw these events to keep our brand fun, fresh and relevant. It’s an old brand. We are talking over 160 years of history.
What are a few favorite bars in New York?
I am two blocks from the Pegu Bar. It is a mixology bar in Soho and go often. I think Brooklyn needs to get its dues. Many bartenders live there, so when they go home at night there are many great cocktail bars. A bar called Extra Fancy is a favorite. I think my all-time favorite is called Clover Club.
Employees Only is always a dangerous choice. I always make that my last stop. They definitely treat you like an employee.
How about Dallas?
Obviously Jay’s bar [Jason Kosmas] the Village Marquee is fantastic. Standard Pour is where I came up with a drink that was featured in San Francisco’s Cocktail Week. It was nothing more than Fernet, Cointreau and lime juice.
Cedars Social is another favorite of mine that I go to. Dram, Victor Tangos.
You went to Sissy’s for dinner. Was that your first fried chicken experience?
Ha. Well, I am originally from San Francisco, and they definitely do not know much about fried chicken. But I have spent tie in New Orleans and they do justice to fried food. I have two brothers in Austin so I come to Texas quite a bit. It wasn’t my first time to have fried chicken, but it was phenomenal. And the bar was fantastic. You know, that whole strip is filled with beautiful bars and drinking and food. The Porch, Victor Tango, Hibiscus.
Cointreau might be a bit misunderstood, but we use it more often than many realize.
You can take a lot of your favorites, the margarita since we are down here in Texas, and see that it is one of three ingredients in that classic cocktail. Fresh lime juice, tequila and of course Cointreau. You can swap out tequila for any other base spirit you like. Be it vodka, gin, rum cognac, Fernet and you will end up with a fantastic cocktail.