Posts Tagged ‘Miguel Calvo’

PORTRAITS FROM THE BAR: MIGUEL CALVO

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Illustration by Jill DeGroff, Story by Miguel Calvo

Wandering about the Loisada, marveling at the transformation of the neighborhood. I lived there thirty years ago, in a 5th floor walk up for which I paid $135 a month. Back in the day when Yerba Buena was something you surreptitiously procured on the street, lit up, and passed around to your buddies on the stoop.

I kept hearing about a wonderful little bar called Mayahuel and knew I must visit. Just as I was about to cross the street, I saw a familiar face. It was Miguel Calvo. I explain to Miguel my mission: I’ll take you there! says he.

So we walked up 6th street and entered this gorgeous little grotto of a bar, enveloped in exquisitely carved wood and mosaic tiled designs. Miguel ordered us two Palomas from the very capable bartender, Jose Mena, and they were sublime. He then began to tell me about his father, a story so richly woven, it could have been lifted from a Carlos Castaneda novel.

During the 1960’s, Miguel’s father, Wilfredo Calvo Bono, was an architect in Cuba who designed schools and hospitals. When he refused to join the Communist party, the government required that he work in the fields cutting sugar cane for two years. Finally permission was granted for him to leave the country. By this time his mother was seven months pregnant and would not have been allowed on the plane, so she wrapped herself in a girdle to hide her belly. Miguel was born prematurely soon afterwards. His parents immediately sought refuge with his aunt, “Auntie Doctura” a doctor who lived in Madrid. She took them in and there they lived for several years. During this time his dad, with no other means to support his family, began to make paintings to sell on the street. He painted one thing only and hundreds of them… mushrooms. Every single species of mushrooms that had ever been categorized –which he carefully rendered from a scientific volume he had procured. The paintings were small enough to fit into a suitcase. Tourists loved them and they sold extremely well.
By the time Miguel turned seven, they moved to Ohio, where his dad worked as an architect for many years. Now in his later years, his father has embarked on a most unusual project after receiving a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation – creating Mondrian-like designs chalked onto football fields by tractor, then photographed from above in a plane!

Miguel has been working in the hospitality and design industry for most of his life, from owning his first place, Global 33, to designing Stephen Starr’s first restaurant: The Continental Martini Bar.
If you were lucky enough to have attended the incredible William Grant & Sons party at the World War II Museum last year during Tales of the Cocktail, you’ll understand that Miguel creates multi dimensional events that are nothing short of spectacular. “I love the soul of an event and dreaming them up.” He tells me. “I create events where the marriage of drink, food, and design galvanize peoples’ senses.”

While completing this profile, I learned that Miguel is setting off to Colombia to work with the Wayu Indians to develop designs that have been accepted for the furniture store, West Elm. It is evident that from a creative and adventurous father came a son who not only followed suit, but continues to expand the medium- and possibly even change some lives.

Favorite Drink: the Papa Doble. “While building the rum bar at Cienfuegos, I had the great fortune to hear Charlotte Voisey explain rums in great detail. She reintroduced me to the Hemingway Daiquiri and rums in general.”

Papa Doble

2 oz White Rum
½ oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Grapefruit
1 oz Lime

Combine ingredients and shake well. Strain into chilled stemmed glass.
Garnish with a Marasca cherry and lime wheel on a pick.

Jill DeGroff is the author and illustrator of “Lush Life; Portraits from the Bar”. To see more portraits from the bar, visit her online Rogues Gallery at www.saloonartist.com

HENDRICK’S GIN’S ENCHANTED FOREST OF CURIOSITIES

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Or how one brand took the juice out of the bottle for a tangible experience
By Vincenza Di Maggio
Photos by Fine Young Man Productions

Have you ever taken Lewis Carroll’s advice and tried believing in “as many as six impossible things before breakfast?” You probably have without even realizing it; for instance, during your brainstorming meeting as you fiddle with your pencil and try to “think outside of the box,” racking your brain for creative ways to market your brand to an audience.

Well, here’s some inspiration for you… Imagine an enchanted forest growing inside of a warehouse, occupied by a bar built inside of a tree trunk measuring nearly 10 feet in circumference, a bearded lady serving cocktails out of a wishing well, a flourishing garden of giant sized mushrooms, a fountain of flowing water infused with cucumbers and rose petals, and wood sprites frolicking about, all the while paying no mind to the fact that it is snowing… indoors… as sparkling butterflies flutter from tree to tree.

Impossible, right? Think again.

Hendrick’s did it. The delightfully curious Hendrick’s Gin (www.hendricksgin.com) – named the world’s best gin by the Wall Street Journal (www.online.wsj.com) – took creative thinking to a whole new level and proved that no idea is too outlandish.

Hendrick's Brand Ambassador, Jim Ryan

Anything is possible. So believes Joanne Birkitt, Senior Brand Manager for Hendrick’s Gin who explains, “We created the concept for the Enchanted Forest of Curiosities last year as a unique way through which to invite consumers to experience a journey into the world of Hendrick’s. That journey is intriguing, unexpected, peculiar and, of course, filled with

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BE THE ACME BARTENDER

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

When mixing cocktails isn’t enough
By Michael Neff and Sean Kenyon
And Francine Cohen

Photo courtesy of Cherry Heering

This year at Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com) there was so much knowledge and fun flying around between the plethora of seminars on everything from ice programs, to rotovapped scotch (www.theglenlivet.com), brand ambassador roles, effective menu design and all the great parties (Thank you Charlotte Voisey and Miguel Calvo for taking us back to the 1940s with your William Grant Portfolio Shore Leave party www.grantusa.com)

Of course, when it comes to fun, it would be impossible to leave out the week’s big fundraiser, Pig & Punch, which was created by the Bon Vivants (www.bonvivants-sf.com) and raised $6,000 for Kingsley House (www.kingsleyhouse.org). The rain couldn’t dampen anyone’s joy about being there.

But one less than joyful refrain was heard again and again; overheard at the pool, in passing in the Hotel Monteleone’s lobby (www.hotelmonteleone.com), and late at night whispered in the doorway of the Alibi…word on the street was a plea for a return to bartending and all that that encompasses- in short a shift towards the mindset that service is king and elitism is out.

Two well spoken and seasoned bartenders made this the topic of their columns in the esteemed publications to which they regularly contribute. On the left side of the country, in Denver’s Westword.com Sean Kenyon opined about titles on business cards and what they really should represent. On the right, on Serious Eats.com Michael Neff had a few choice words to say about bartenders after being inspired by his daily interaction with the busy bartender at Acme (www.acmeoyster.com).

You can read all about it here:

Behind the Bar
Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can often find him behind the bar at Euclid Hall (www.euclidhall.com) and here most weeks, where he’ll answer your questions.

I just returned from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the biggest cocktail party/bartending/spirits convention in the world. While looking through the stacks of business cards I collected, I found the following lofty titles for bartenders: Mixologist, Master Mixologist, Master Bartender (says who?), Cocktail Chef, Liquid Chef, Craft Cocktail Specialist, Cocktailian, Cocktail Artist…
All just fancier names for one job. Bartender.

My father — who, in fact, is a bartender — used to say,

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VIVA LA DIFFERENCE

Friday, July 15th, 2011

The French are coming. And the new breed of bar is on its way.
By Miguel Calvo

High-end cocktail bars have been around for quite a while in the United States. In New York alone tropical Lani Kai (www.lanikainy.com), austere Death & Company (www.deathandcompany.com), tiki style Painkiller (www.PK-NY.com) and stylish Dram (www.drambar.com), to name a mere few, have set the standard in what people expect from a proper mixologist bar. In other parts of the country too, like in Chicago at The Drawing Room (thedrchicago.com), these bars exemplify what is now the norm in cocktail culture in the United States; offering fresh ingredients, paying attention to glassware, drink specific ice, house infused spirits/ bitters and atmosphere to match. While a number of the new breed of American bars have embraced a singular spirit centric focus like punch pavilion Cienfuegos (rum; www.cienfuegosny.com) and Mexican style Mayahuel (tequila; www.mayahuelny.com) many still embrace Prohibition rooms as Milk & Honey (www.mlkhny.com/newyork) and PDT (www.pdtnyc.com). So are we ready for a European invasion that may challenge what we have thought should be a mixologist bar?

Across the water there is a surge in the style of what may be the new direction of cocktail culture that is headed our way. These drinking dens sometimes have a selective door, they allow standing (and occasionally dancing), and have no fear of vodkas. Of course you may find the usual spirits suspects on their menu such as Hendrick’s gin (www.hendricksgin.com) and Appleton rum (www.appletonrum.com); but right alongside these iconic brands proudly stand a group of vodkas, such as Ketel One (www.ketelone.com) and Stoli (www.stoli.com), which are commonly ignored by their stateside brothers. Another big difference is that these cocktail crafters who, like their US counterparts, embrace the use of bitters like Peychaud’s (www.sazerac.com) and

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