From Minnesota, With Love: The Drinks

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The idea of hiring a bartender of name for a wedding might be new to Minnesotans. We’re a humble sort, so naming a drink slinger and branding your big day’s booze might not be at the fore of our minds. To shatter your ideas of event cocktails, we give you the easy way out.

Erik Eastman folds his nattily dressed, lanky frame atop a barstool and leans in, requesting a martini. The pristine cocktail is the yardstick that bartenders judge their brethren upon. Have a bottle of old, room-temperature vermouth? The top-shelf talent will likely switch to a craft beer. Treat them right and you’ll earn their respect forever.

Eastman comes by his bar pour cred from his own forged path. Easy, as he’s commonly called, began his successful local business perched on a barstool, soaking up drink knowledge like a sponge. He dove into the bitters business with Dan Oskey (well know bar talent from The Strip Club Meat & Fish and Hola Arepa), and his uncle, packaging expert, James Eastman.

The three created Easy & Oskey bitters kits, which have since been featured all over the food-loving world from Food & Wine to Food 52 to the Splendid Table to MPR, where Easy is a regular contributor. His velvet voice guides us through the techniques for a stellar negroni, or classic sazerac.

 

The Easy & Oskey kits are easily customizable or made with their unique blends of real ingredients and spices. Unlike most commercially produced bitters, these use actual vanilla and citrus peels, the grapefruit bitters are the sort of thing you never knew you couldn’t live without in your home bar. The kits come with almost everything you need (you have to buy the over-proof alcohol separately) to create the bitters.

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In addition to the kits, Easy has become a cocktail party secret weapon. He does cocktail consulting, teaches private classes, and can create a custom cocktail for your event. At a recent party I threw, Easy concocted a tea-infused gimlet, available in both alcoholic and n/a pours. It was divine and while I’d like to think the company I assembled and food served had an impact, those cocktails made the party.

Wouldn’t that be a glorious addition to an engagement fete or reception? Elegant cocktails made easy are the way of the future.

The Gimlet includes Easy & Oskey Bitters, Dry Gin, Pink Peppercorn Simple Syrup, and Fresh Lime Juice, shown here. Photography by Matt Lien Photography

The Gimlet includes Easy & Oskey Bitters, Dry Gin, Pink Peppercorn Simple Syrup, and Fresh Lime Juice, shown here. Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Photography by Matt Lien Photography

Gimlet Recipe:

Ingredients
2 oz Dry Gin (such as Tanqueray or The Botanist)
1 oz fresh lime juice
.75 oz Chervil Pink Peppercorn Simple Syrup*
1/4 tsp Easy & Oskey Cherry Vanilla Bitters

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with clean ice.  Shake 10 seconds to combine and chill, and strain through a small fine mesh strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a paper-thin lime wheel if desired and/or sprig of chervil.

Simple Syrup
*Combine 1 cup each of sugar and water in a pan over medium-high heat, stirring until dissolved. Add a large handful of fresh chervil (an herb with a pleasant subtle anise flavor) and 2 tablespoons crushed pink peppercorns. Allow to steep off the heat for at least one hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Syrup will keep several weeks in the refrigerator.

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