It feels like the days of another human with killer mixology skills actually serving you a handcrafted cocktail - from across a crowded bar - are long gone.
We know, relax, normalcy will resume one of these days. But everyone knows that biltong pairs perfectly with an ice cold G&T, beer, or glass of red wine. It's also great with a dirty martini, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Gold Rush and must I go on? Let's be honest, anything liquid goes well with a savory protein snack such as biltong.
Like everyone else, we're sitting around the house come happy hour time, dressed in our athletic wear not because we worked out, of course, but because comfort these days is EVERYTHING and those skinny jeans can piss right off. We nab a few bags of biltong from our warehouse (also known as "inventory shrinkage" or some would say stealing, but we're only hurting our own profits so whatever) and we fire up our little in-home bar that, by the way, features an actual saddle barstool. No really, a barstool with a horse saddle on it. It's just one of the many strategic ways in which my South African husband lured me to move from Texas to New York and become his forever sidekick. "I bought you a saddle barstool. Marry me?" And yes, one friend who I will refrain from naming (a Canadian, to be clear) actually fell off of it one time as if he were on a real horse. Straight to the ground went that Canadian, bucked right off of that thing.
But I digress...like everyone else, we're longing for the "old days" when we could belly up to a bar and place an order and watch the magic happen, like Tom Cruise in "Cocktails," with ice chips flying and glittering bottles pouring until finally, the bartender places our refreshing and deeply satisfying beverage of choice right there, right in front of us, liquid courage; delicious concoction of pure joy. We miss Noah, our favorite bartender at our favorite restaurant. We miss the The Bar Downstairs in Manhattan, which is quite literally a bar down a flight of stairs. Little Branch, an "underground den of mixology" in West Village; a tiny spot worth waiting in line for, even on the coldest winter day. We miss Bathtub Gin, our favorite speakeasy-esque spot in the Meat Packing District with the most impressive lineup of small batch gin bottles and a bar littered with mason jars of fresh fruits, botanicals and aromatics.
Alas, this does bring us to the topic of G&Ts, our favorite cocktail this time of year as the winter blues give way to spring. We have no choice but to attempt to recreate the speakeasy experience at home, the same way we stage "pop up restaurants" in our house which just means we sit somewhere else for a change, anywhere, all places are fair game except of course the bathroom. "Shall we change it up a bit and have dinner in the basement because we are sick and tired of sitting at the kitchen table?" "Why yes, we shall. Here's an idea, let's dine in the pantry tomorrow?" "What an interesting change of scenery, I'll light the candles. And on Thursday, what if we open the back of the car and sit in the driveway and pretend we're at a tailgate party?" "This is exactly why I married you, you brilliant human, I'll get the cooler ready."
Anything to keep it interesting. And this is the part where I actually plug a brand other than Biltong Baron for a change because we're quite obsessed with them, and we've helped them enter the U.S. market for the first time by acting as their distribution partner. You read that correctly, we, Craftsmen of Biltong Baron, are also officially in business with the world's best cocktail infusion brand. Why? Because we couldn't get our hands on it unless we hopped a flight overseas, and how is that exactly happening now? So instead of accepting defeat, we said fine then, we will bring it to America. Simple as that, and wouldn't you know the two brands go together so perfectly like two little darling peas in a pod. Batman and Robin. The Yin to our Yang. You can't get more synergistic than this, folks. Trust me, put the two together on a gorgeous summer day and tell me you're not in cocktail-meets-savory-snack heaven. Cue the drum roll please......
Meet Secco Drink Infusion, a Cape Town-based brand that was founded by a guy named Wessel, a certified food scientist with a knack for crafting incredible cocktail infusion recipes. Secco has four recipes, each featuring nothing but natural freeze-dried fruits, botanicals and spices. Add a packet of Ginger Lime to your G&T (or any beverage including water) and watch the ginger and lime rehydrate, infusing your drink with flavor. Ginger Lime also features an actual stick of cinnamon to add earthy accents, and the whole concoction looks stunning in the glass. My personal favorite is Raspberry Rose Hibiscus which adds floral notes and changes the color of your drink as dried rose petals and hibiscus flowers float around in your glass. Pepper Berry features fruity strawberries and blueberries balanced with a hint of fragrant peppercorn, and Spiced Pomegranate is insane with actual pomegranate rubies, butterfly pea flowers, star anise and cardamom. They are each a work of art and it makes your cocktail look like you made the extra effort, unleashing your inner mixologist, when all you really did was pour Monkey47 gin and Fever Tree tonic water into a glass and dump a packet of Secco in there.
So here's a toast to happy hour at home; to Secco; to better days ahead; to our favorite bartender, Noah, and to the day we meet again.
Biltong Baron customers are invited to try Secco and get 25% off their first order (and free shipping) with Discount Code TryMe25.
Stay safe, friends. We wish you nothing but good health and sanity during these trying times.
The Biltong Baroness