Thursday, December 29, 2011

The French Dip

The French Dip - hearty, satisfying and with a history shrouded in mystery and feuding parental claims. The popular sandwich has long been the center of an argument between Los Angeles restaurants Philippe and Cole's

Philippe's restaurant has two versions of the story of how the French Dip came to be: firstly that in 1918 a chef or waiter accidentally dropped a roast beef sandwich into a dish of meat drippings, and the second as recalled by Philippe's grandson, that founder and restaurant namesake Philippe Mathieu concocted the sandwich and accompanying "au jus" to appease a patron fireman who had complained about the dry and stale state of his sandwich roll. Doubts have been cast as to whether Philippe did in fact create the recipe after he gave a differing story in an interview in 1951 in which he said that he made the original sandwich using pork and gravy drippings for a hungry police officer. One day another customer asked for roast beef gravy, and it caught like wild fire, thus giving birth to the French Dip. 

On the other side we have Cole's, who claims their French Dip recipe precedes  Philippe's by ten years and was dreamed up to accommodate a customer with sore gums in 1908. The feeble man asked the chef to dip his sandwich into the juice because the crusty French roll was too hard for him to chew on. Word spread and the sandwich became popular. This story too has its share of "ifs". When the owner of Cole's, Gitti Beheshti, was interviewed in 1997 about the origin of the famous sandwich, he explained it almost exactly like Phlippe's version, that a chef dropped a sandwich into the beef juice. 

The truth about the French Dip's origins may never truly be known, but one thing you can be sure of is that 320 Main has concocted a recipe for this sandwich as legendary as its history. Jason was inspired to add this item to the menu after experiencing it in LA while he was at Cole's Red Car Bar. In fact he thinks he has improved the original recipe.

"I have always enjoyed the French Dip but, really never gave it too much thought, until the first time I visited Cole's in downtown Los Angeles. Something about the atmosphere opened my mind and gave the whole idea of a French Dip a certain "new life" that I had never realized. It was like stepping back in time. I could see Men in suits and brimmed hats sitting at the bar with a dip in one hand and the paper in the other. The French Dip was this amazing new food adventure that had such a colorful background, it's like I was enjoying it for the first time. That's when I knew I had to put it on the menu at 320. I LOVE the French Dip! Ours is a combination of the styles of Philippe's and Cole's. The rolls we use are moist on the inside and dry on the outside, so you can dip it in au jus, but you don't have to. We also serve ours with Swiss cheese, which isn't traditional." 

Served with horseradish dijon, it's a delectable spin on the original, perfect for lunch or dinner. 

Pairs well with: Bloody Mary

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Anatomy Of An Entree: The Lamb Duo

In order to make the best possible dish, you have to begin with the best ingredients. So take a look at what goes into one of our featured Winter Menu items, The Lamb Duo. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cocktail Spotlight: The Oude Fashioned

Today's Cocktail Spotlight is on The Oude Fashioned, Jason Schiffer's variation on the original cocktail. This cocktail features Bols Genever Barrel Aged, a Dutch spirit. "Oude" is Dutch for old, thus the name, The Oude Fashioned.

What is Bols Genever? It's what gin evolved from but it's not a gin, it's in a category all it's own. Lucas Bols has been distilling Genever in Holland since 1664. Bols Genever is distilled from "maltwine", a combination of corn, wheat and rye grains. At blend of at least 15% maltwine distillate is combined with a distillate of juniper berries and other botanicals. Genever means "juniper" in Dutch. Back in those days, alcohol was medicinal and juniper berries were believed to help with kidney sickness. In the 17th century, its purpose expanded to include "liquid courage". Dutch soldiers would drink shots of Genever before they forged into battle, coining the phrase "Dutch Courage."
Eventually, the Brits would draw from the Genever recipe to create a variation that came to be known as London dry gin. Bols Genever was very popular during the early 1700s but disappeared later in the 1800s when many of the drinks that once used Genever began using gin instead. With the recent resurgence of mixology and craft cocktails came a renewed demand for Genever. Bols came out with a Genever that was released in the U.S., only to also find demand for the original Barrel Aged recipe. They released a limited edition Genever, barrel aged in French Limousin oak and bottled in clay. Due to it's extremely limited quantity, only a select few bars dedicated to craft cocktails were given the spirit. One of those exclusive bars was yours truly, 320 Main. 

Stop into 320 Main and grab an Oude Fashioned before supplies run out. It may just give you the "Dutch Courage" you need to tackle your dreaded holiday shopping. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Virginia Dare

The cocktail is quintessentially American. Jason Schiffer likes to use the rich history of our county to inspire his cocktail recipes, like his recent creation “The Virginia Dare.”

"I created this cocktail for a special food and cocktail pairing held at 320 Main that was based around St-Germain and hosted by famed Seattle mixologist Jamie Boudreau. Obviously, I couldn't let Jamie have the entire spotlight with his fantastic concoctions, so I had to create one of my own for the event." -Jason

Virginia Dare
1oz St-Germain
1oz Plymouth Gin
1oz Sauvingon Blanc
1 tsp Aperol
Stir 30-40 rotations in mixing glass with ice, 
then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and 
garnish with a large twist of grapefruit

Virginia Dare was the name of the first English child born in the New World of the Americas. She was the granddaughter of John White, the English Governor of the Roanoke Island Colony in what is now North Carolina. White left the colony in 1587 to return to England for supplies and when he returned 3 years later, the colony was deserted. Among the over 100 people missing were White's daughter and his granddaughter, Virginia Dare. Many speculations have been made as to what became of the blond haired Virginia and the rest of the settlers. 

Years later In 1835, when Garrett and Company, a New York business, was founded in the North Carolina region where Roanoake once was. They adopted the name for a brand of their wine. During the Prohibition era if your business was liquor you had very few options. You could continue to sell illegally, taking your business "underground", obtain permission to sell for medicinal purposes only or, as Garret and Company did, find another legal use for making alcohol, in their case, flavoring extracts. Many liquor companies never saw the other side of Prohibition. Virginia Dare wines picked back up after the repeal on Dec 5th 1933 but didn't last past 1940. They do still produce extracts though.
"During Portland Cocktail Week in October, (from the lonely bartender-free streets of Seal Beach), I saw this video from Jeffrey Morgenthaler demonstrating how to carbonate a cocktail. I had done this before with another carbonation system my friend Ereich Empey brought in one night to play with. I thought the outcome was cool but, not worth the effort. The iSi Twist & Sparkle* is a simple and easy to work contraption which our bar is able to execute over and over. The perfect cocktail to carbonate and bottle was the Virginia Dare, although the drink was already fantastic, I always thought it would be really nice with a bit of sparkle. What better an occasion to introduce it than in honor of the 78th anniversary of Repeal Day! " -Jason

This carbonated, light, floral cocktail is wonderfully refreshing with hints of grapefruit. It's a perfect day drink that pairs well with light foods like salads. It's also a great gateway drink for those wine lovers looking to venture into the world of cocktails, as it utilizes Sauvignon Blanc.

This cocktail will make it's debut at 320 Main on Sunday the 4th in honor of Repeal Day for $12 each. Head over and celebrate with Jason Schiffer and the rest of the 320 Main staff! 

*the iSi Twist & Sparkle has been recalled due to safety issues. Stay tuned for a replacement product!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November Centerfold: Moscow Mule featuring 320 Main Copper Mugs

History Behind The Moscow Mule: Created in 1941 by Jack Morgan of the Cock N' Bull Tavern in Los Angeles and John G. Martin of the Hublein Company. John was introducing a Russian vodka to the United States and Jack had an overstock of ginger beer.  The two created the cocktail and teamed up with a friend of Jack's who had recently purchased a copper factory. Photos of the celebrities who frequented the Cock N' Bull Tavern on Sunset Boulevard enjoying the drink helped fuel sales as everyone wanted "the drink in the copper mug!"

See Jeffrey Morgenthaler's ginger beer recipe here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Laird's Apple Brandy: A Truly American Spirit

Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy and AppleJack are quite possibly my favorite spirits.

AppleJack was the first commercially distilled spirit in America and the Laird family established America’s first commercial distillery in Scobeyville, New Jersey in 1780. Scotsman Alexander Laird emigrated in 1698 and began producing AppleJack for his family’s use. Fast forward to 1760 when descendant Robert Laird served in the Revolutionary War under George Washington and the Laird family supplied the troops with Applejack. Mr. Washington himself was a fan, requesting the recipe and referring to the "cyder spirits" in his diary. 

The name AppleJack supposedly refers to the term Jacking, meaning creating a spirit from freeze distillation. This method involves freezing a fermented product (i.e. apple cider) and scraping the softer, high alcohol contents away from the frozen water. This method declined because the byproducts of fermentation (methanol, ethanol, etc.) cannot be separated and it was therefore inferior to evaporative distillation. Today’s AppleJack is made from naturally fermented apples which are distilled and aged for 4 to 8 years. This Apple Brandy is then blended with 65% neutral spirits to create AppleJack. Lairds also produces Bonded Apple Brandy, a 100 proof spirit made from 100% apple brandy aged 6 to 10 years.

The unique flavor of AppleJack is reason enough to stock your bar with it and it is also essential for classics such as the Jack Rose. But aside from these two reasons, I personally feel a sense of pride in being able to go through our country's history and collect things that are uniquely American such as this classic spirit. We are a young country and there are so few things that you can trace back to the beginning of America. It’s kind of my way of discovering who I am as an American - a way of reminding myself what it is to be American. We are entrepreneurs, inventors, builders and makers of things. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. That is why I love AppleJack. It is American through and through. Before there was Bourbon there was Rye and before there was Rye there was AppleJack, Laird’s AppleJack. 
- Jason Schiffer
 The Jack Rose is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's classic bar book "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks."  The drink was popular in the 20's and 30's.

Jack Rose
1.5oz. Applejack
.5oz. Lemon or Lime Juice
.5oz. Grenadine
Shake/strain into a chilled cocktail glass
and garnish with a brandied cherry. 

What our friends say about the Jack Rose: and

Friday, November 11, 2011

Menu Spotlight: The Prime Double Bone In Pork Chop

320 Main Sous Chef Alex Dale showing off his pork tattoo.
When we said we were crazy about pork, we meant it.
Pork. It's the other white meat. And right now we can't get enough of it at 320 Main. (You saw our post on Pork Belly Medallion Centerfold.)  You could say we've gone a little pork crazy. How can  you blame us? Pork is not only delicious, it is also generally a healthier choice of protein than red meat. These reasons and many more are why we'd like to introduce you to our Prime Double Bone In Pork Chop. 

As you take your first bite of this dish, you'll understand why it is 320 Main owner Jason Schiffer's favorite item on the menu. Many pork dishes are dry, but not this juicy entree. In each bite you get a wonderful dichotomy: the moist, tender inside, and the salty, caramelized, seared outside. Don't even reach for the salt shaker, because this Babe (piggy pun intended) is seasoned to perfection. This savory hunk of pork is served swimming in a zingy pool of 320 Main's homemade whole grain mustard pilsner sauce (made with Mama's Little Yella Pils). To finish off this fine autumn dish: a side of roasted red pears, carrots, and onions. The pears are a wonderfully mild and sweet addition to compliment this savory dish.

Come in soon to try the Prime Double Bone In Pork Chop or one of our limited time seasonal menu items. 

Pairs Well With: "The Michigander" cocktail. A Jason Schiffer Original.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Home Bar Basics (and Not-So-Basics) Launch Party & Charity Benefit

Come help kick off the launch of author and award-winning illustrator Dave Stolte's new book "Home Bar Basics (and Not-So-Basics)," a concise, pocket-sized, 114-page guidebook to setting up a home cocktail bar with an emphasis on history, quality, and craft at 320 Main in Seal Beach on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm.

$10 at the door.

$5 cocktails from the book will be served alongside free small bites from 320 Main's acclaimed menu. Raffle prizes include a basic bar kit from Hi-Time Wine Cellars, wine from the boutique Miramonte Winery, a one-on-one homebrew session with Topanga Brewing Company, Moscow Mule mugs filled with 320 Main drink tokens, framed cocktail art by Dave Stolte, and more.

All profits from sales of the book at this event and your $10 door entry will benefit CureDuchenne to help raise research funds for and build awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Spirits at the event will be sponsored by
Bulleit Whiskey.

RSVP on facebook!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cocktail Spotlight: The Michigander

The Michigander. Created by Jason Schiffer. Available now at 320 Main.

The Michigander's main 
ingredients: Cynar and 
Laird's Straight Apple Brandy.
In our previous post we introduced you to our sizzling new fall appetizer, the Pork Belly Medallions. Today we give you the perfect drink to pair it with: the Michigander. The fall season and its onslaught of holidays inevitably causes one to think of home. Home for 320 Main owner Jason Schiffer is Michigan. “I went through a time where I was missing home,” explains Jason of how this drink came to be. “My favorite time of year is fall. I get nostalgic about the chill in the air, the earthiness of burning leaves and the sweet smells of apple cider.” This is the basis from which the Michigander was created.

Jason is very visual when it comes to creating drinks. When creating the Michigander he wanted to mimic the deep fruity and contrasting earthy elements of fall in Michigan. He began with Laird's Straight Apple Brandy 100 proof. Laird's Apple Brandy is Bottled in Bond, which means it was produced in one distillations season, by one distiller, at one distillery and it was aged in a federally bonded warehouse under US government supervision for at least 4 years. Why is this important to you? Because it is a government guarantee that you are getting 100% straight brandy. Jason then added an Italian liquor called Cynar. Made of 13 different herbs and spices including artichoke, Cynar gives the drink a slightly bitter richness. To that Jason added honey, lemon and finally a grapefruit twist. The result is truly delectable and warming to your insides. It's the next best thing to fall in Michigan. A good friend of Jason’s, Ereich Empey, says this about the drink, “At its' heart a rather simplistic drink, with tons of flavor laying throughout, the Michigander is followed by complexity and depth on account of the ingredients.” [Musings on Cocktails]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

320 Main Employee Spotlight: Glenn Doyle

Meet Glenn Doyle an essential and unseen cog in the 320 Main machine. He’s been the loveable and loyal dishwasher at 320 Main since it’s opening and well before. How long? For “a couple decades” he coyly and smirkily remarks, avoiding any specific reference that might date him. He has worked at the location when it was Caroline’s, a restaurant owned by his aunt and uncle, as well as when it was Bayou St. John’s. Originally from Los Angeles, Glenn now lives in Long Beach. He’s a humble and understated man, with Californian-for-life tanned skin, friendly gray eyes, and a pretty sweet 'stache. An unofficial expert on the location, and one of the key players in 320 Main’s stellar service, we thought we should introduce you to Glenn:
Q: What has the switch been like from the previous restaurants at this location to 320 Main?
Glenn: The location was going downhill before. Since Jason and Rebecca have taken over it’s gotten so much busier. It gets pretty hectic on the weekends. They keep me busy back there [laughs]! They’re wonderful.

Q: What’s it like to work at 320 Main?
Glenn: We’re like a big family here. Jason and Rebecca are really cool. They took us all bowling for Christmas. It’s like that here. And James, the chef, I like him. He’s outgoing and I love his food.

Q: So you approve of the 320 Main menu James has cooked up?
Glenn: I love it. But I’m biased. Like I said, he’s family [smiles].

Q: What about this whole egg-on-the-burger thing that they’ve got going? Have you tried that yet?
Glenn: I’d never tried it like that, but it was good when I finally had it here. I was surprised.

Q: The “real” cocktails are a big deal on the 320 Main menu. Which drink is your favorite here? Not when you’re on the job, of course [laughter].
Glenn: [Laughs] Well I’m not a big drinker, but I think I’d ask Jason to make me a Screwdriver.

Q: What’s your best memory from working at 320 Main so far?
Glenn: Best time I had when the Schiffers took over was when they gave me a raise! 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Filet Mignon

Let us heave a collective sigh of relief: swimwear season is over and we can now eat to our hearts content - guilt free - because we can now hide under chunky fall/winter sweaters and layers of clothing. Don't waste any time getting back into hearty meals - jump in head first with 320 Main's savory Filet Mignon.

Beautiful heirloom carrots.
320 Main's Filet Mignon consists of 8 ounces of choice, grilled, succulent meat that practically melts in your mouth. The cut is so excellent that all Head Chef James Wilschke seasons it with is a little salt and pepper. The filet is topped with leek frites and served on a bed of roasted herb garlic mashed potatoes surrounded by a red wine demi-glaze gravy. If that weren't enough to make your mouth water, the dish also features fresh heirloom carrots. Heirloom carrots come in all different sizes and shades, adding a beautiful splash of color to this delicious meal. This is American cuisine at it's finest.

Pairs well with: "The Bowery" Manhattan cocktail and a slice of 320 Main's famous Carrot Cake.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Bowery: 320 Main's Take on The Manhattan

Fall is finally arriving, slowly but surely. These hot 80 degree days are giving way to shorter, cooler ones. To usher in the autumn season, 320 Main is introducing it's newest addition to the cocktail menu, The Bowery. Named after the colorful neighborhood in Lower Eastside Manhattan, this cocktail is a variation of the the classic Manhattan.

"The Bowery is actually what cocktail people would call a Black Manhattan, a riff on the classic Manhattan cocktail using an Amaro as the Sweet Vermouth. John Coltharp of The Tasting Kitchen in Venice gave me my first taste of Ciociaro Amaro, I told him it reminded me of the original formula Amer Picon, (a pre 1970 Amaro I was lucky enough to taste) but a little sweeter and without the dried orange notes. This Amaro is so special, the cocktail needed it's own name." -Jason Schiffer

In Italian, amaro means "bitter" these bitters or amari are usually made by macerating various herbs, roots, spices, bark, flowers and/or citrus in a neutral grain spirit or wine. Sugar is then added before being barrel or bottle aged. The classic recipe for a Manhattan  includes equal parts rye whiskey and sweet vermouth with a dash or two of bitters. The 320 Main crew makes this Manhattan-style cocktail with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Bitters and the Amaro Ciociaro. Bulleit Rye Whiskey is a fairly new label that is full of character - much like it's creators.

The Bowery: Bulleit Rye WhiskeyAmaro
Ciociaro and bitters. Click to Enlarge.
As the legend goes, in the 1820s a young Augustus Bulleit emigrated from Alsace-Lorraine, France.  Around 1840, Augustus Bulleit moved from New Orleans to just outside Louisville, KY and established himself as a tavern keeper, where he began producing small batches of bourbon. Hell bent on perfection, he experimented with countless recipes, finally finding one that met his expectations. Bulleit Bourbon was born. Bulleit bourbon sold throughout Kentucky, Indiana, and New Orleans where it quickly gained the reputation as the bourbon of choice for America's frontiersmen.

In 1860, while transporting barrels of whiskey from Kentucky to New Orleans, Augustus Bulleit mysteriously disappeared just outside of New Orleans. Walter Q. Gresham, Secretary of State under President Grover Cleveland formed a search party to travel from Indiana to New Orleans. The searchers came back empty handed, his body was never found. After Augustus’s disappearance, it seemed the making of his bourbon would disappear with him. However, in 1987, more than a century later, Tom Bulleit fulfilled a lifelong dream by starting a distilling enterprise inspired by the original recipe of his great-great-grandfather. [Bar None Drinks]

What do you get when you mix all these fine spirits and bitters together? The Bowery, a delicious take on the original with accentuated depth and richness that is perfect for fall.
Pairs well with: The Filet Mignon

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cocktail Spotlight: Chartreuse Swizzle

[ The Chartreuse Swizzle. $12. Enjoy it for only $8 at 320 Main's Tiki Night on Mon, Sept 26th at 7pm. ]

It's been a hot and sweaty past couple of weeks, but the one reason everyone can rejoice over this hot Indian Summer is that it gives us the perfect excuse to enjoy our favorite icy refreshments. One of 320 Main's favorite cocktails to make is the Chartreuse Swizzle and it is the perfect drink to cool you off on a hot September afternoon or evening. Here's how our bartender Matt Robold of describes his first time trying one: 

"The Chartreuse Swizzle is one of the sacred cows of new mixology. I can remember hearing about it being possibly the greatest drink ever created and having my doubts. I mean, it's a drink made with an herbal liqueur as its base. When you're still integrating yourself into the cocktail movement, the idea of a drink built fully around Chartreuse can seem a bit intimidating. Plus, what the heck is someone doing making a swizzle with anything other than rum? It sounds like blasphemy. The first time I had one, it was made by the master himself, Marco Dionysos. The Chartreuse Swizzle provides the perfect balance of spice, sweetness, and sour in a complex-tasting, simple-to-make, and utterly refreshing drink."

The Chartreuse Swizzle
The Chartreuse Swizzle is the brainchild of Marco Dionysos, renowned San Francisco bartender. Let's break it down. Firstly, what is a swizzle? Swizzles are a type of drink usually made with rum, but the use of a swizzle stick to mix the drink is where this family of cocktails derives its name (see picture above for visual aid on the swizzle stick). The Swizzlestick Tree is native to the islands of the Caribbean. A modern bar whisk or simple bar spoon can be used to do the trick as well.

The Chartreuse Swizzle is comprised of the following: 

The Chartreuse Swizzle's
namesake ingredient.
1 1/4 oz. green Chartreuse
1/2 oz. falernum*
1 oz. pineapple juice
3/4 oz. lime juice

*(a citrusy spiced syrup popular as an ingredient in many tiki drinks - click here for a great recipe from Rum Dood)

All the ingredients should be mixed together in a tall glass with crushed ice using a swizzle stick and then garnished with a sprig of mint and fresh nutmeg. A properly "swizzled" drink will form frost on the outside of the glass. The result is an incredibly delicious, complex and thirst quenching summer drink. 

The Mysterious History of Chartreuse
The Chartreuse liqueur is what really makes this drink unique. Equally as unique as its taste, is the French liqueur's history. The recipe for Chartreuse includes extracts from 130 different plants (the chlorophyll of which gives the spirit its green hue). Named after the Grande Chartreuse monastery in Grenoble, France, Carthusian Monks have been distilling this liqueur since the 1740's and its recipe is top secret. It is said that a French marshal presented an alchemical manuscript containing the "elixir to long life" to the Carthusian monks in 1605. Soon the Grande Chartreuse monastery received the recipe and began producing the elixir under the name of "Elixir Vegetal de la Grande Chartreuse". After a few minor enhancements, in the mid to late 1700's the monks began making what we now know as Green Chartreuse. No one has ever successfully reproduced the top secret recipe. Only two monks know how to prepare the herbal liqueur at any given time in history. Chartreuse has a very unique flavor and the Chartreuse Swizzle is a perfect introductory drink to ease into it. 

Tiki Night
Enjoy the Chartreuse Swizzle or one of the other featured drinks at 320 Main's Tiki Night this upcoming Monday, Sept. 26th. Normally $12, the Swizzle and any of the other featured drinks will be offered for only $8. Plus there will be $4 LA dogs or Chicago dogs and the best of the best will be behind the bar: 320 Main owner Jason Schiffer, Matt Robold (aka Rum Dood) and Marcos Tello of The Varnish in LA and 1886 in Pasedena. The fun starts at 7pm and ends at 11pm and the theme for this Tiki night is Tiki Nouveau. Grab your best Hawaiian shirt, head over to 320 Main next Monday night and enjoy this Indian Summer as it should be enjoyed - with a cold cocktail in hand.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Bacon Buffalo Burger

The Bacon Buffalo Burger at 320 Main - $15. Comes with fries, Sriracha Coleslaw or a salad and pickle.

320 Main has recently introduced a spectacular lunch menu. Previously only open for dinner, 320 Main's owners worked with head chef James Wilschke to create a selection of exceptional lunch items, the crown jewel of which is the mouth watering Bacon Buffalo Burger. No Americana restaurant's lunch menu would be complete without a burger, but 320 Main owners Jason and Rebecca Schiffer didn't want to offer just any burger on their lunch menu. "We wanted to offer an exceptional burger," says Jason.
Chartreuse Swizzle

"We wanted to stick with traditional Americana, but with a modern palette," explains Chef Wilschke, creator of the burger. "Modern Americana." The burger features red onion confit, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, and thick-cut black forest bacon on a mammoth, free-range buffalo patty grilled to the customer's liking. "I just took all of my favorite things and put them together. The black forest bacon has changed my whole perception of bacon," explains Chef Wilschke laughing. And last but not least, perhaps the most delicious and unique part about 320 Main's savory burger: Atop every buffalo burger comes a fried egg.

One bite of the Bacon Buffalo Burger and there will be no doubt in your mind that The Schiffer's and Chef Wilschke are culinary wizards. Pair your burger with a choice of fries, spicy slaw, or a salad, and a refreshing Chartreuse Swizzle (see left). To see what else 320 Main has cooking up for lunch, check out their menu here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting To Know The Owners

JASON: I have been in the restaurant industry since I was 15, starting as a busser at an Italian restaurant in Michigan. It wasn’t till 1998 when I started working at the Voodoo Lounge in Las Vegas as a bar-runner and was captivated by the bar. It was Ken Hall and Allen Mays (at the time, the top flair bartenders in the world) who inspired me to make bartending a career. Needless to say, working in a flair environment, I learned a few tricks. Just enough to be fun, but not enough to be good. Between Ken, Allen and the general manager, I was scolded a few times for flipping bottles before I learned how to tend bar. Their advice: "crawl before you walk, walk before you run," something I’ve been told most of my life but actually heard for the first time here. I went out and purchased any and every cocktail book I could find and read each one from cover to cover. I learned about stirring vs. shaking, fresh produce, the importance of ice, measurement, and much, much more. I was captivated by the history behind these cocktails and was hit with a sense of pride to learn that the cocktail is uniquely an American concept. 
     As my career progressed beyond the VooDoo Lounge, back to Troppo in Michigan, then back to Vegas at the Rum Jungle, one question lingered in my mind, why don’t bars make drinks like the ones I read about anymore? Sometime around 2003 when I moved to California I started noticing a small interest in classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan and the Negroni. Over the next few years I continued reading and expanding my knowledge of the craft. In 2005 I realized the ever growing interest in classic cocktails. It wasn’t until the end of 06 I left my bar gig at the Continental Room in downtown Fullerton and focused my attention on finding a restaurant of my own. 
     In 09 I joined the United States Bartenders Guild - Los Angeles chapter and began to really understand what was going on in the cocktail community. The USBGLA had just elected Marcos Tello as its president and I got to see firsthand bartenders that had actually been tending bar the way I had read about; and not just according to the books I read, but according to cocktail books that dated as far back as 1862. They had broken down these techniques, consulted with cocktail historians and scientists to even go beyond the ancient craft they were trying to resurrect. These guys and gals were not just bringing the trade back but, taking over from where it left off. This is when I completely handed myself over to the study of this forgotten trade.

REBECCA: An Orange County Native, my first job in a restaurant was in 2001. My fascination with cocktails began during my first training on a bar menu, and the many Long Island variations at Spoons in Buena Park. From there I worked at a few chain restaurants working my way up from server to bartender. Meeting Jason in 2003 really helped my career because he trained me how to be a great bartender.
     Over those years not only did I learn valuable customer service lessons, I was able to experience what made the hospitality industry so unique. The bonds that are created by a group of people working so hard for a common goal are special and if it’s the right fit for you, these relationships can be like family. I loved serving people and when I left the industry for a few years after college I honestly missed it. So when Jason was ready to go full force into ownership, I was on board! A few other odd jobs here & there helped me gain the skill set to organize the business end of things.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Illustrious History of The Cocktail

The cocktail is America’s gift to the culinary world. The cocktail has endured a long journey from its pure beginnings, through the hardship and compromise of the '20s and '30s speakeasies, to where it stands now. The cocktails of today are a far cry from their original predecessors. But thanks to a resurgence of interest in the great American cocktail of yesteryear and the craft movement, cocktails are making a comeback to their former glory. To get an idea of just how far the cocktail has come, let’s go back to the very beginning.

In 1806, a newspaper called The Balance, and Columbian Repository printed the first definition of the cocktail: “A stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” The most common spirits used in cocktails at that time were rum, brandy or Genever. The use of water was to help dissolve the granulated sugar (or sugar cubes) into the mixture. At that time, ice was not a key ingredient of the cocktail yet, but when it later became more prevalent, ice would be used to dilute the drink through stirring, thus blending the individual components more harmoniously. Around the latter half of the 1800s, people would call for their spirit of choice (now predominately whiskey) to be made “the old fashioned way.” The name stuck.

In the 1920’s, when Prohibition hit, things got a little rough for the cocktail and all those dedicated to maintaining its original purity. The professional bartender left overseas to practice his trade where drinking was still legal. Prohibition made the creation, distribution and consumption of alcohol illegal, so people took to making their own liquor. Needless to say it was less than impressive. It was because of this unsavory homemade booze that people began mixing cocktails in such a way as to drown out the bad taste of these less than palatable spirits. Prohibition killed the cocktail in America.

From that point on, the drinking culture in America shifted from appreciating a hand crafted drink made properly with fresh ingredients, to a culture just looking to get drunk as fast as possible on bad booze masked with sweet additives (juice, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, etc).

Like the old saying “you can’t keep a good dog down”, quality things always manage to come back around. In the same way that the microbrewery and the craft beer reminded us that beer was meant to be enjoyed for its taste, people are beginning to rethink the way they view the cocktail. When you have a steak, you want it to taste like steak, prepared with ingredients that complement the flavor of the meat, as opposed to flavors that mask it. Cocktails are the same way. Made correctly - with fresh ingredients, quality spirits, and at the hands of a knowledgeable bartender - the flavors of a cocktail complement each other to make something truly exquisite. 320 Main is dedicated to mixing cocktails according to the methods and philosophy which were established by the early American bartender.