BigPanda Bamboo Lounge

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #BigPanda community hangout!

Several months ago, we invited mixologists around the globe to take quick videos of themselves making their favorite beverages and WE ARE BLOWN AWAY by all of the submissions!

In the coming months we will showcase four winners, all with distinctly different cocktails and style (not to mention great videos). Be sure and check back each month to see all of the winners.

This month’s winner is our very own, Sara Rezaeian! We chose her Maple Panda because it’s perfect for the fall season …and it’s her own creation. Sara took the traditional Old Fashioned and replaced the orange with lemon, cinnamon, and maple syrup. The result is a delicious cocktail that is sure to warm you up throughout the holidays!

Old Fashioned Cocktail History
Undoubtedly, an Old Fashioned was one of the earliest cocktails ever known. Although there are many stories as to where the cocktail originated, many believe that it was first served at the Pendennis Club (gentlemen’s club) in Louisville, Kentucky in 1881. The recipe was invented by bartender Martin Cuneo at the club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a famous Kentucky distiller. Pepper then brought the cocktail recipe to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.

That’s the classic tale of a classic drink – but imagine swapping out basic simple syrup with a more interesting maple syrup. Mixologists have discovered it is a great addition to cocktails, whether paired with spicy bitters or rich bourbon, roasted fruit or apple brandy. You get a more interesting taste from this perfect natural sweetener.

Check out Sara’s Maple Panda and try NOT to smile while you watch the video (hint: Sara’s smile is contagious)!

MAPLE PANDA

Ingredients
2 oz bourbon (Sara is using Woodford Reserve bourbon)
A couple of drops of aromatic bitters
1 oz lemon juice
½ oz maple syrup
Maple sugar
Cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks

PREPARATION:
The Maple Panda is prepared in the whiskey glass. First, dip the glass in a mixture of cinnamon and maple sugar (make sure the rim of the glass is wet, so the mixture sticks to the top). Next, add the lemon juice, maple syrup and aromatic bitters. Give the mixture a stir. Drop in a large whiskey ice cube. Last, but certainly not least, add the bourbon.

Finally, add a dash of cinnamon and stir. Drop in a cinnamon stick for extra fanciness! Cheers!

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Previous Lounges

Week 35: The Nutty Panda

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #BigPanda community-and-cocktails hangout!

I am Bryan Dell, BigPanda’s chief revenue officer and chief mixologist and I am going to shake up a drink that will give you a whole new appreciation for National Coffee Day! Before we get to that, we’re excited to announce the return our BigPanda Bamboo Lounge mixologist contest for another boozy challenge.

Nothing says it’s time for a cocktail (or 2) quite like the holiday season. Which is why we are inviting YOU to show off your bartending skills by submitting a video making your favorite holiday beverage. That’s right – you can be our guest Bamboo Lounge mixologist this November!

One great mixologist will win an enormous amount of street cred AND:

  • Be featured on Big Panda’s Bamboo Lounge
  • Have a custom Panda made to look like you or your favorite character, celebrity or hero!
  • Receive a $100 credit to buy some of the coolest swag out there, at Pandamart, the BigPanda company store

IT’S REALLY EASY:

  • Create a holiday cocktail – that go-to-drink you absolutely love making/or enjoying
  • Set up your phone and take a video of yourself mixing it up
  • Upload the video here
  • Pro tip: keep it under three minutes
  • Submit your video by October 20th

Remember to have fun and make it festive! Most of all, don’t forget to show your BigPanda pride. We will watch every video and announce the winner in November!

Now, let’s get our buzz on. In honor of National Coffee Day, I figured I would combine my barista and mixology skills into this fine concoction! Behold, this delicious and eye-opening Baileys/coffee cocktail is what I call The Nutty Panda.

Watch the Video

The Nutty Panda

Ingredients
4 oz hot black coffee
¾ oz Irish Whiskey
¾ oz Baileys Irish Cream
¾ oz Kahlua
¾ oz Frangelico

PREPARATION:
Mix ingredients and stir with a spoon.
Top with a generous amount of whipped cream*
Sprinkle with cinnamon
Add a dab of nutmeg

It’s creamy and nutty with hints of hazelnut. You can make it anytime, but we suggest you enjoy it as an after-dinner beverage because it’s basically as delicious as a giant piece of cake – but better – because it has four different types of booze in it.

Enjoy! *Try not to get too much whipped cream on the tip of your nose!

Week 34: Atomic Whiskey Sour

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #BigPanda community hangout!

Wow! We loved seeing all of the fun videos submitted by professional and amateur cocktail makers…it was a hard decision, but we are excited to introduce you to this month’s Bamboo Lounge guest Mixologist: Monica Christman from the Automobile Club of Southern California!

Monica showed off her drink-making skills and dazzling personality while mixing up the Atomic Whiskey Sour. As you’ll see in Monica’s video, she is a fan of all things 50s and what is more retro than the whiskey sour?

The whiskey sour dates back to the 1800s, but in the 1950s and 60s, it came back in popularity in a big way. (three martini lunches anyone??)! Sours—simply mixtures of spirit, citrus juice, and sugar—became a popular way to enjoy whiskey and bourbon after prohibition.

Monica uses Bulleit bourbon in her cocktail, which stays true to its Kentucky roots with spicy, bold flavors that come from ageing the softly amber colored liquid gently in small batches. The lemony citrus cuts through the rounded, soft, oaky notes of the bourbon, while the simple sugar sweetens it up a bit.

Check out Monica’s mixology lesson and get inspired to make your own! We are looking for another guest mixologist in October and don’t worry about making the video fancy…you make the tasty drink, and we add all the bells and whistles to the winning submission! Just shoot and submit.

Watch the Video

ATOMIC WHISKEY SOUR

Ingredients
2 oz bourbon (Monica is using Bulleit bourbon)
¾ oz simple syrup
¾ oz lemon juice 

Preparation
With three ingredients, the Atomic Whiskey Sour could not be easier to make. Pour the ingredients into a shaker over ice. Give the mixture a good shake (it tastes better if you shake it like Monica does). Strain into a small cocktail glass, 50s style if you have it! Garnish with a lemon slice. Cheers!

Look for our next guest Bamboo Lounge Mixologist contest in October!

Week 33: Summer Smash Beer

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #BigPanda community hangout!

This week, Paul Szymczyk, BigPanda’s head of WW Sales and mixologist at large, is tending bar and doing a fresh beer cocktail. Before we get to that, we’re excited to announce that we are looking for someone like YOU to show off your boozy tips and tricks as BigPanda’s guest Bamboo Lounge mixologist!

That’s right! You can be our guest Bamboo Lounge mixologist in the fall!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Record yourself creating a cocktail of your choice (if it’s beer-based, extra credit!)
    1. Keep the video under three minutes
  2. Upload the video here
  3. Submit your video by Friday, August 20, 2021

That’s it!

A team of expert drinkers will review all entries and pick a winner. If you’re video is chosen, it will be featured on our Fall edition of Bamboo Lounge!

Winner’s Prizes:
In addition to the worldwide fame you will experience when your cocktail video is featured on BigPanda’s Bamboo Lounge, you also get:

  • your very own custom Panda made to look like you (or a celebrity of your choosing)
  • a six-pack of Pandamonium beer with your own custom label
  • $100 to use at Pandamart, the BigPanda company store!

We can’t wait to see the cocktail creations you come up with! Remember, at BigPanda, we’re big on fun, so show us your personality in your submission!

Of course, it would not be the Bamboo Lounge if we didn’t create a cocktail for you to try. This week, Paul is mixing up a party batch of Summer Smash Beer. It’s a thirst-quencher with a kick and sure to be a crowd pleaser this summer!

Watch the Video

SUMMER SMASH BEER

Ingredients
6 (12 fl oz) cans or bottles of light beer (Paul is using BigPanda’s Pandamonium Summer Smash Lager)
1 (12 fl oz) can of frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
12 oz vodka (Paul is using Tito’s)
Ice for serving
This week, rather than using a bar glass, all you need is a pitcher and solo cups. 

Preparation
Combine the beer, limeade and vodka in a pitcher. Give the mixture a stir. Pour over ice into a red Solo™ cup – this is an outdoor party drink, after all.

Cheers!

Week 32: Panda Paddington Old Fashioned

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #PandaIT hangout! I am Bryan Dell, CRO and Chief Mixologist at BigPanda. This week, Paul Szymczyk has a delicious beverage called the Panda Paddington Old Fashioned. This cocktail is made in honor of all the dads who celebrated Father’s Day last week, specifically Mr. Henry Brown, the City of London Risk Analyst, who let Paddington Bear move in with his family and even builds him a bedroom in their attic.

Paddington Bear is a fictional character in children’s literature who first appears in the 1958 children’s book called “A Bear Called Paddington.” The friendly bear from “darkest Peru”—with his old hat, battered suitcase, duffel coat and love of marmalade—has become a classic character from British children’s literature. The author originally wanted Paddington to have “traveled from darkest Africa”, but his agent advised him that there were no bears in Africa, and thus it was amended to Peru, home of the spectacled bear.

He was discovered in London Paddington station, by the Brown family who found him sitting on his suitcase with a note attached to his coat that reads “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” The Brown family adopted him, and he gives his full name as “Paddington Brown” (his original Peruvian name being too hard for them to pronounce). He is always polite and kindhearted, has an endless capacity for innocently getting into trouble, but he is known to “try so hard to get things right.”

Paddington is famous for his love of marmalade, and he is particularly fond of marmalade sandwiches. In fact, he always carries a jar of it in his suitcase and he usually has a marmalade sandwich tucked under his hat ‘in case of emergencies’. It’s the marmalade that makes this Old Fashioned special and different.

The Panda Paddington Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned is a simple drink – bourbon or rye, sugar, bitters and a little citrus oil from a muddled orange. Sometimes it’s finished with a splash of soda water. This week’s cocktail, the Panda Paddington Old Fashioned features marmalade, which should be no surprise for all of the Paddington Bear fans out there!

Marmalade is a staple of the British breakfast and likely makes its first appearance in cocktails from England. The marmalade cocktail dates back to the 1930’s in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

Marmalade made its way across the Atlantic in drinks such as the Kinloch Plantation Special (pronounced “kinlaw”) in Charleston Receipts, the oldest junior league cookbook, in print from 1950. The best marmalades are often said to be from Dundee, Scotland, which is also considered the mythic birthplace of marmalade.

Check out how Paul incorporates marmalade into his Old Fashioned here:

Watch the Video

PANDA PADDINGTON OLD FASHIONED

Ingredients
¾ tsp Marmalade
3 dashes aromatic bitters (Paul is using Black Walnut Bitters)
2 oz. rye or bourbon whiskey (Paul is using Second Glance American Whiskey)

Preparation
In an Old Fashioned glass, add marmalade and bitters. Mix them up with a spoon. Add a good pour of the whiskey to the marmalade and bitters mix. Give the mix a really good stir to break up the marmalade. Top the drink with a big ice cube. Because of the marmalade, no garnish is needed at all. That’s it! Enjoy!

Hope you had a Happy Father’s Day! Cheers!

What is your favorite cocktail? We’d love to get some new recipes for drinks to share! Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next time for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

Week 31: Blackberry Summer Smash

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #PandaIT hangout! I am Bryan Dell, CRO and Chief Mixologist at BigPanda. This week Paul Szymczyk is tending bar and he’s got a great cocktail for you to try!

Summer is upon us. It is the perfect time for a nice, refreshing, whiskey cocktail. It’s smooth and sweet, with added depth from the bourbon, infused with a hint of tart lemon, which makes it perfect for summer occasions or any summer afternoon! It’s incredibly easy to make. All you need is a shaker and some ice!

We’ve included some substitutes too, so you can use what you have in your house to mix up this delicious Blackberry Summer Smash cocktail! If you like blackberries and lemon, but want to try a different alcohol, this recipe does great with vodka, gin or white rum. Check out how Paul makes his favorite here:

Watch the Video

BLACKBERRY SUMMER SMASH

Ingredients
2 ozs whiskey (Paul is using Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey)
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup (Paul is using Traeger Smoked Simple Syrup, you can substitute with plain simple syrup, maple syrup or even a sugar cube)
5-6 blackberries (Substitute with raspberries or strawberries if you’d like)
Ice for shaker
1 large ice cube

Preparation
Pour the bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup into the shaker. Drop your fruit of choice in and some ice. Shake until well blended. Strain into a cocktail glass over a large whiskey ice cube.

Cheers!

What is your favorite cocktail? We’d love to get some new recipes for drinks to share! Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next time for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

Week 30: Red Poppy Peach Me Cocktail

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #PandaIT hangout! I am Bryan Dell, CRO and Chief Mixologist at BigPanda. This special Memorial Day edition of the Bamboo Lounge is hosted by Matt Peloso, an AVP of sales and fellow New Jersey Panda. As you will see from his video, he is a natural mixologist and tells some great stories!

The Red Poppy Peach Me is a tribute to all the men and women who have served in uniform, past, present and future from all of us at BigPanda. Before we get to Matt’s cocktail, here are five facts you may not know about Memorial Day:

  1. Wearing a red poppy on Memorial Day began with a World War I poem written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who spotted a cluster of the poppies shortly after serving as a brigade surgeon during the bloody Second Battle of Ypres. The sight of the bright red flowers against the dreary backdrop of war inspired McCrae to pen the poem, “In Flanders Field.” The poppy remains a symbol of remembrance to this day.
  2. In May 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a decree that May 30 should become a nationwide day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the recently ended Civil War.  Today, Washington, D.C.’s Logan Circle and several townships across the country are named in honor of this champion of veterans and those killed in battle.
  3. Memorial Day did not become a federal holiday until 1971. Americans embraced the notion of “Decoration Day” immediately, but for more than 50 years the holiday was used to commemorate those killed just in the Civil War, not in any other American conflict. It wasn’t until America’s entry into World War I that the tradition was expanded to include those killed in all wars, and Memorial Day was not officially recognized nationwide until the 1970s, with America deeply embroiled in the Vietnam War.
  4. More than 25 towns claim to be the holiday’s ‘birthplace’—but only one has federal recognition. President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation, recently passed by the U.S. Congress, declaring the tiny upstate village of Waterloo, New York the “official” birthplace of Memorial Day.
  5. There are a few formal Memorial Day traditions:
  • The American flag should be hung at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the staff.
  • Since 2000, when the U.S. Congress passed legislation, all Americans are encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.

Despite the solemness of the holiday, Memorial Day weekend is also a time when families and friends gather to welcome summer.  With bourbon, orange bitters and peach schnapps, Matt’s Red Poppy Peach Me cocktail is a great summery beverage for any weekend.

A big misconception is that peach schnapps needs to always be used in sweet cocktails. In this nuanced version of an Old Fashioned, the bourbon accentuates the liqueur’s peach notes, and bitters temper its sweetness. We’re using Woodford Reserve bourbon, a high quality, well-regarded small-batch bourbon from Kentucky. With two and a half ounces in the drink, it creates a bold, assertive Old Fashioned, with the peach schnapps acting as an enhancement more than a center stage player. Given its sweetness, the schnapps also stands in for the usual simple syrup.

To further enhance the fruit, this Old Fashioned gets the Wisconsin treatment: muddled orange and cherry in the glass – but it’s important to use a top-tier cherry like a Luxardo maraschino cherry. There’s no point in using almost three ounces of high-end bourbon only to grind up a bunch of corn syrup and red food dye into it.

Matt’s showing us how he mixes up the Red Poppy Peach Me cocktail here:

Watch the Video

RED POPPY PEACH ME COCKTAIL

Ingredients
2 ½ oz Woodford Reserve bourbon
½ oz peach schnapps
3 dashes Angostura orange bitters
1 Luxardo maraschino cherry
2 orange slices 

Preparation
Muddle the cherry, orange slice and bitters in a mixing glass. Add the bourbon, schnapps and ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice sphere or cube. Garnish with a dehydrated or fresh orange slice. Enjoy!

What is your favorite cocktail? We’d love to get some new recipes for drinks to share! Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next time for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

Week 29: Pretty as a Pansy Cocktail

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #PandaIT hangout!

I am Bryan Dell, CRO and Chief Mixologist at BigPanda. This special edition of the Bamboo Lounge celebrates all the moms out there. I was raised by a single mother. I married a woman who was also a single mom and is an amazing mom to our children. I have deep respect and love for my mother, my wife and all the mothers around the world.

It wouldn’t be an edition of Bamboo Lounge if we didn’t give you a little background on the holiday. Contrary to popular belief, Hallmark did not invent it…and neither did moms. Mother’s Day originated in 1905 when a woman named Anna Jarvis started a campaign for an official holiday honoring mothers, the year her mother died. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day an official holiday, to take place the second Sunday of May.

Around 1920, Jarvis fought to prevent businesses from profiting from the holiday, which she wanted to be to be a celebration of the connection between a mother and her children. Today, it’s marked with flowers, family brunch and yes, a nice cocktail to toast everything moms do to make our lives better,

This Pretty as a Pansy Cocktail is a special and beautiful drink that can be made a few ways, depending on the depth of grapefruit and the level of sweetness you’d like. Here is the breakdown so you can prepare your bar with the ingredients:

  • First, the vodka. I like Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit & Rose. It combines the zesty mouthwatering grapefruit and the elegance of refined rose petals. Absolut also makes a grapefruit vodka, or you can use your favorite vodka without any flavor infused.
  • Our second ingredient, St~Germain liqueur contains up to 1,000 fresh, hand-picked elderflower blossoms in each bottle. The flavor is reminiscent of tropical fruits, peach, pear, citrus, and a hint of honeysuckle. This liqueur adds great dimension to the drink.
  • IZZE sparkling grapefruit juice is 70% fruit juice and a splash of sparkling water. This will give the drink a light pink color, add more sweetness and bubbles.
  • Lastly, my wife loves prosecco. Rather than fill the glass to the top with IZZE, I leave room and add the sparkling Italian white wine. The prosecco cuts the sweetness of the IZZE, so add a little or a lot, depending how sweet mom likes her drink.
  • Garnished with edible flowers. It is a bouquet in a glass!

Watch the Video

PRETTY AS A PANSY COCKTAIL

Ingredients
1 ½ oz Ketel One Grapefruit & Rose vodka
½ oz St~Germain elderflower liqueur
Squeeze of fresh grapefruit
Squeeze of fresh lemon
3 oz IZZE sparkling grapefruit
Splash of prosecco (optional)
Ice

Preparation
Combine vodka, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it up until the shaker gets cold and then you know it’s ready. Strain and top with IZZE sparkling grapefruit. Fill to the top with IZZE or add prosecco, if you’d like. You can see my wife’s preferred mix in the video.

Finally, take a few flowers for garnish and lay them on top. If you have pansies, they are the best, and they are edible!

Cheers to the women who do it all!

What is your favorite cocktail? We’d love to get some new recipes for drinks to share! Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next time for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

Week 28: Mint Julep

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #PandaIT hangout!

I am Bryan Dell, CRO and Chief Mixologist at BigPanda. This week Paul Szymczyk is mixing up a Mint Julep. Since 1938, this tasty cocktail has been served at Churchill Downs in association with the Kentucky Derby.

Until 2020, almost 120,000 juleps were made at Churchill Downs over the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice!

Have you ever wondered how the official drink of the Kentucky Derby got its name? Julep actually has a long history, dating back to before the 15th century. The drink was Persian rosewater and the word was gul-ab (gul = rose, ab = water). Around 1400 the word had evolved into the English language as “julep” in a surgical textbook. It was described as a syrup made of water and sugar, mixed with medicinal ingredients to make them easier to swallow. (If that sound familiar, you may remember the Mojito from our past Bamboo Lounge? The mojito was originally created to sweeten up a drink made to ward off illnesses.)

By the 19th century, hard-drinking Americans had codified it into a cold cocktail, served with sugar, ice and some kind of aromatic herb. As far as we’re concerned, the Mint Julep is as important to the Kentucky Derby as the horses, jockeys and ever-fashionable hats.

Part Southern tradition, part spectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade is much of what makes “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” one of the greatest people-watching events in the world!

The long-established fashion was started with Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.’s vision for the Derby as an event that the high-class would attend, similar to European-style racing events, which mandated full morning dress for men and women. The event quickly became just as much about the fashion as the racing. Going to a horse racing event became an opportunity to show off the latest in spring fashion and women were known to coordinate their hats, dresses, bags, shoes, and even parasols. We hope you like the custom Pandas we created to honor this fine fashion moment.

Hats off to Paul for keeping with tradition. Check out his look and the making of the Kentucky Derby Mint Julep here.

Watch the Video

MINT JULEP

Ingredients
2 ½ oz. bourbon (Paul is using Knob Creek)
½ oz. simple syrup
Fresh mint leaves
Crushed ice

Preparation
Drop about 7 or 8 mint leaves into your tall glass. Add ½ oz. simple syrup. If you don’t have simple syrup, 1-2 sugar cubes can be substituted. Muddle the mint leaves just a bit to release the oils, too much muddling and you will be left with a bitter taste. If you don’t have a muddler, you can use a wooden spoon.

Next, fill the tall class with crushed ice. The more crushed the better, you are looking for a shaved ice-like consistency. Make sure to fill the glass to the top with ice. Add the bourbon. Give the cocktail a good stir to ensure the cocktail is super cold and frosty.

Finally, take a few mint leaves in your hand and slap them to activate the flavors and oils in them. Sprinkle them on top for garnish.

Now you are ready to sip, ideally from a metal straw, to keep it nice and cold.

Cheers!

What is your favorite cocktail? We’d love to get some new recipes for drinks to share! Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next time for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

Week 27: Income Tax Cocktail

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #PandaIT hangout!

I am Bryan Dell, CRO and Chief Mixologist at BigPanda. This week Paul Szymczyk is tending bar again. Paul has the perfect solution for your tax season blues…the Income Tax Cocktail. While the IRS has postponed the deadline for taxes to May 17, that just gives us more time to enjoy this tasty cocktail!

Believe it or not, there really is a drink called the Income Tax cocktail. An old-timey concoction dating back to the late 1920s, the Income Tax cocktail is basically a Bronx cocktail (gin, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and orange juice) with an added dash of aromatic bitters. General consensus is that the bitters were added to the Bronx recipe as a wink and a nod to the “bitterness” of tax season. The bitters add such a depth of flavor that this cocktail earned its new name.

Ingredient proportions vary widely for this drink, based on which recipe you find online. Equal parts sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and orange juice? Or dial back the two vermouths, and amp up the juice? Use a full shot of gin or just a little? Add one dash of bitters or two? Experiment a bit and find your own personal favorite. Our recipe will give you initial sweetness on the first pass, followed by some serious bitter, dry, aperitif notes.

After many bleary-eyed hours spent chasing after wayward slips of paper, and checking and rechecking digits and decimal points, what better way to spend Tax Day than having one (or more) of this gin-based classic?

Watch the Video

INCOME TAX COCKTAIL

Ingredients
1 ½ oz. gin (Tanqueray Rangpur for its delicious citrus flavor)
¾ oz. dry vermouth
¾ oz. sweet vermouth (Paul’s favorite is Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth)
¾ oz. freshly squeezed orange juice (you can use orange juice from the carton, but give yourself the freshly squeezed flavor, you won’t regret it. Plus, you’ll use the peel for garnish.)
2 dashes angostura bitters

Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel. Paul likes to rub the orange around the rim for extra flavor.

Now, if you’ve gotten your taxes done and the numbers are still not in your favor, or if you want to get serious about a refund celebration, Paul has a supplemental plan:

KISS MY ASSETS

Ingredients
Your favorite whiskey

Preparation
Take a clean glass, bring out your favorite bottle of whiskey. Give yourself a generous pour and sip. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Cheers!

What is your favorite cocktail? We’d love to get some new recipes for drinks to share! Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next time for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

Week 26: Bee's Knees

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #PandaIT hangout!

I am Bryan Dell, CRO and Chief Mixologist at BigPanda. This week, I asked my friend, and VP of Sales, Paul Szymczyk to fill in for me, as we honor our customer success team with the prohibition-era cocktail called the Bee’s Knees.

The unique name is a convention of the time: the phrase “bee’s knees” was popular slang used to call something excellent or outstanding. Our customer success team is creating a ton of buzz right now, as they just won the prestigious Silver Stevie® Award for Customer Service Department of the Year. They truly are the bee’s knees!

The Bee’s Knees is a simple extension of the classic Gin Sour (gin, lemon, sugar) that features honey instead of sugar…which gives you the springtime feels. The honey was used to mask the taste of bathtub gin, which was prevalent at the time. While bathtub gin technically refers to any style of homemade spirit made in amateur conditions, gin was the predominant drink in the 1920s. When the United States government enacted a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages many variations were created in common metal bathtubs in use at the time, by mixing cheap grain alcohol with water and flavorings and other agents, such as juniper berry juice and glycerin.

Fortunately, the gin market features hundreds of excellent bottles today, so you can enjoy the ingredients at their best. Using a London Dry gin will put more emphasis on the juniper, while a more modern gin imbued with citrus and florals will bring out the lemon and honey notes of the cocktail. Pick whichever gin suits your tastes, as the gin is front-and-center in this drink. Paul’s choice for this week is Plymouth Gin.

The honey arrives in the form of homemade honey syrup, a simple combination of honey and water that adds complexity and sweetness. Lemon juice complements that sweetness with fresh, tart acidity and brings the cocktail into balance. This cocktail certainly is the bee’s knees.

Planning a small outdoor gathering soon or hosting a cocktail happy hour via zoom? The Bee’s Knees is an easy, refreshing cocktail with only three ingredients. It is a great option for any occasion. After all, drinks are always better shared.

Watch the Video

BEE’S KNEES

Ingredients
2 oz. gin
1 oz. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¾ oz. honey syrup

Making honey syrup is simple and you can adjust the ratio of honey and water to your liking. I use three parts honey, one-part hot water and mix until the honey is completely dissolved. Allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container. The syrup will keep for up to a month.

Preparation
Pour the gin, lemon juice and honey syrup into your shaker. Shake well with ice, so it is nice and frosty cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Sip and feel the buzz…🐝

Tune in next week for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

Week 25: Dublin Drop

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, our virtual #PandaIT hangout!

I am Bryan Dell, Chief Revenue Officer at BigPanda. While my day job consists of meeting our incredible customers and partners, I may be most popular for my role as Chief Mixologist.

This week, we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the Dublin Drop (also known as an Irish Slammer). At BigPanda, we love to learn more about the holidays we celebrate and the drinks that go with them.

St. Patrick’s Day is known in the U.S. as a day of celebration and debauchery, but in modern-day Ireland it was traditionally a religious holiday. It wasn’t until 1961 that Ireland made it legal for bars to be open on the holiday. Now, the Irish can get as drunk as the Americans celebrating their heritage. For more on St. Patrick’s Day and its evolution, click here.

Guinness, the primary ingredient in the Dublin Drop, has its own impressive history, full of entrepreneurial spirit and relentless dedication to quality. Guinness originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. It is one of the most successful alcohol brands worldwide, brewed in almost 50 countries, and available in over 120. Here are five other interesting facts about Guinness:

  • It takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint of Guinness – a six step process, in fact the beer’s official color is ruby red
  • Guinness was one of the first companies to offer employee benefits – yes, free beer!
  • The Guinness harp was one of the first trademarks in the UK
  • Guinness promised every British soldier a pint of beer on Christmas day during WWII
  • The first Guinness Book of World Records was published to help settle pub arguments

With that history, you know our cocktail this week is something special.

Made with just three ingredients, the Dublin Drop was invented in Norwich, Connecticut at Wilson’s Saloon on St. Patrick’s Day 1976. While it is thought of as a quick way to get quite tipsy, it is surprisingly delicious. The full body of the Guinness combines with the Bailey’s in a way that is texturally reminiscent of a milkshake, and the bitter stout and whiskey give it a backbone, making it far less sweet than something like a mudslide. I think we can all agree; it’s a good drink.

Who hasn’t spent a St. Patrick’s Day (or two) watching a parade and following it up with a few Irish Slammers at the local pub? Since bars are not the best place to be right now, we’re recreating the American bar favorite at home. Watch here as I demonstrate.

Watch the Video

DUBLIN DROP

Ingredients
½ pint Guinness Stout
½ oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
½ oz. Jameson Irish whiskey

Preparation
Fill a pint glass about halfway with the Guinness. Pour the Bailey’s, then the Jameson, into a shot glass. Dramatically drop the shot glass into the half pint of Guinness.

Drink it. All at once. Sláinte!

Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next time for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 24: BigPandaiquiri

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, BigPanda’s virtual #PandaIT hangout!

I am Bryan Dell, Chief Revenue Officer at BigPanda. By day, I meet with customers and partners, but by night, I have turned into the Chief Bartender, mixing cocktails for my wife.

This week, Paul Szymczyk, our head of Sales, is with me, mixing up one of our favorites!

This may sound like a crazy idea in the middle of February, but Mardi Gras got us in the mood, and we couldn’t think of a better time to enjoy beachy drinks! Paul is a huge fan of Ernest Hemingway, so we wanted to come up with a classy theme. After we had a few, we settled on “BigPandaiquiri.” Maybe you had to be there.

We are making both of our daiquiris with Papa’s Pilar rum and I’ll admit, I didn’t know the connection between Hemingway and Pilar rum, so I did a little research.

It turns out Papa’s Pilar rum is made by Ernest “Papa” Hemingway’s family and was inspired by his appetite for adventure. They named the rum after his boat, Pilar. The rums that make up Pilar are hand selected from the Caribbean, Central, South and North America. They are blended in a proprietary process called Solera, in American oak barrels, port wine casks and Spanish oloroso sherry casks. The resulting rum is delicious on its own or in a daiquiri.

Ernest Hemingway’s daiquiri was made famous in his posthumously published novel, Islands in the Stream.

Now that we know the history of Hemingway and his namesake rum, let’s try it in two BigPandaiquiri cocktails!

Watch the Video

Bryan’s Beachside Daiquiri

Ingredients
2 oz. Pilar rum
½ oz. pineapple juice
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. lime juice

Preparation
For my daiquiri, you’ll need a shaker with some ice. Pour in the rum, pineapple juice and simple syrup. Then, add the Cointreau and lime juice. Shake it up for 15-30 seconds. Pour the daiquiri over fresh ice in a gimlet glass. (If you’re like me and you don’t have gimlet glasses, any cocktail glass will do.)

Hemingway’s Daiquiri

Ingredients
2 oz. Pilar rum
½ oz. maraschino liqueur
½ oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
¾ oz. lime juice
Lime wheel to garnish (optional)

Preparation
As you know, Paul is a traditionalist…and Hemingway enjoyed his daiquiris without sugar. For this version, you’ll need a shaker with some ice as well. Pour in the rum, followed by the maraschino liqueur, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and lime juice. Shake up the mixture and strain it over a coupe glass. Garnish with a lime wheel. Paul doesn’t think Hemingway was much of a garnish kind of guy, so we left that off. You should feel free to garnish as you’d like.

Enjoy! Laissez les bon temps roule!

Which of these daiquiris is your favorite? We’d love to hear what you think! (If you don’t pick one of ours, share your favorite recipe!)

Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next time for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 23: Happy Wife, Happy Life Mojito

I’m Bryan Dell, CRO at BigPanda and this week I am mixing up a Valentine’s Day drink, which I like to call, the Happy Wife, Happy Life Mojito.

Both the sentiment and the cocktail are keepers in my household. This drink is a winter twist on the classic mojito with fresh mint, sugar and freshly squeezed lime, muddled and combined with two kinds of rum and coconut milk. I like to add a touch of coconut cream to make it even more coco-nutty. The result is deliciously creamy and when garnished with pomegranate seeds, it is the perfect cocktail for Valentine’s Day.

Now, before we mix up the drink, let’s dig into the story of the mojito, which originated in Havana, Cuba. How it was developed – well, that is as muddled as its ingredients.

The first theory is the most exciting…it involves pirates! After an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba in the 1500s, the English pirate, Sir Francis Drake sent a group of men off in search of help. They came back with a moonshine rum-type alcohol, which was mixed with mint, lime, and sugar cane syrup to ward off illness. They named the drink “El Draque,” which means “little dragon.”

Some historians suggest that the mojito was invented by slaves working in Cuban sugar cane fields in the late 19th century. “Mojo” is an African word for magic, which we all know can happen once you have had a few mojitos.

The third and final theory may be the one that has made the mojito so popular. Ernest Hemingway wrote drunk and edited sober and spent a lot of his time at a little bar called La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana. Cuba. It’s no surprise that his favorite watering hole claims its bartenders were the first to make the drink.

While the history of the mojito may not be totally clear, the popularity of the drink is. I’m excited for you to try the Happy Wife, Happy Life Mojito. Let’s do this!

Watch the Video

Happy Wife, Happy Life Mojito

INGREDIENTS:
Mint leaves
1 tbsp. sugar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. white rum
1 tbsp. coconut rum (I like Malibu rum)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp. of cream of coconut (optional, I like to add it for additional coconut flavor and sweetness)
Club soda for topping
Pomegranate arils

PREPARATION:
Muddle the mint, sugar and lime juice just enough to release the essence and flavor from the mint leaves. Add the white rum, coconut rum, coconut milk and cream of coconut to the muddled ingredients in a shaker. Add some ice and shake the mixture up for 15-20 seconds. Pour the mixture over ice in a cocktail glass and be sure to get some of the mint leaves, too. I prefer the large ice cubes, but any size ice will do. Leave a little space in the glass to add the club soda, which gives your drink some foam. Finally, add a few arils of pomegranate for a beautiful red touch.

There you have it, your Valentine’s Day Happy Wife, Happy Life Mojito.

As they say in Cuba, ‘Salud, por que la belleza sobra’ which when translated to English means, “to your health, since you’re already so beautiful.” A perfect toast for your valentine.

Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next week for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 22: Frothy First-down Margarita

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, BigPanda’s virtual #ITOpsFromHome hangout! I’m Bryan Dell, CRO at BigPanda and I’m a huge football fan. With the Super Bowl coming up, I thought it was the perfect time to mix up a batch of the Frothy First-down Margarita, a great way to kick off the big game! (See what I did there?)

This unique take on the classic margarita blends reposado tequila with mezcal, simple syrup, lemon juice, triple sec and an egg white. The result is a refreshing cocktail, with a balance of citrus, smoke, sweetness, and a foamy head for the perfect finishing texture.

We all know that watching football is a great excuse to eat all the classics – wings, nachos and chili. If you are looking to up your food game this year, try adding one or all of these items to your menu:

  • Epic graze board: cheeses, meats, veggies, dips, nuts, dried fruit and fresh fruit – surprisingly easy to assemble and you can still watch the game and commercials while eating!
  • Cheesy monkey bread: made from pizza dough with red pepper flakes, garlic and cheeses – a delicious, filling dish to pair with the Frothy First-Down Margarita.
  • Slow-cooker chipotle-orange pork tacos: Warmly spiced, slow-cooked pork for tacos, no fuss required. All it takes is your trusty slow cooker.
  • Giant chocolate chip skillet cookie: The batter for this super-sized cookie is made in one bowl with no special equipment. With no need to spoon out the batter, you save time and are sure to please your family with this one! Plus, chocolate and tequila – always a win!

Ready to kick things off with the Frothy First-down Margarita? It is sure to be a fan-favorite!

Watch the Video

Frothy First-down Margarita

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 oz. reposado tequila
1/2 oz. mezcal
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. triple sec or Cointreau
1 egg white

Why egg whites?

The egg white is critical to the drink. It gives you a smooth, silky finish that can’t be replicated with other ingredients. If you’re unsure, try pasteurized liquid egg whites or fresh pasteurized eggs, you can get both at the grocery store.

PREPARATION:
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with a cup of ice. Shake vigorously for 30-60 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

What do you drink on Super Bowl Sunday?

Share your recipe with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Tune in next week for another great time at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 21: French 75 and French Martini

Happy New Year! I’m Bryan Dell, CRO at BigPanda and we are glad you want to ring in the new year at the Big Panda Bamboo Lounge. Co-hosting this week’s edition is BigPanda’s head of sales and my good friend, Paul Szymczyk.

We’re going to pop-the-cork on a nice bottle of Veuve Clicquot to make a couple of bubbly champagne cocktails. Paul will show us the revolutionary French 75 and I’m going to walk through a special French martini. These recipes will work with any champagne – Veuve just happens to be one of our favorites.

If you’ve come to the Bamboo Lounge before, you know that we don’t just share recipes. We tell stories about the cocktails we feature…we like understanding the origin and history behind each one. Even Champagne, which seems straightforward, has an interesting past.

While many people use the term “champagne” generically for any sparkling wine, Champagne is a sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of northeastern France. If it’s a bubbly wine from another region, it can’t be called Champagne, and it’s no accident that the French have preserved their rights over the naming for a century or more.

However, Champagne was discovered by accident. It all began when wine growers from the Champagne region were trying to compete with Burgundy wines. Through the winters, wines were stored in their cellars, and unbeknownst to them, the cold climates stopped the fermentation process entirely. In the spring, the sleeping yeast cells awoke again and started fermenting, causing the release of carbon dioxide gas coming from the wine in the bottle. At first, the bottles were weak and exploded but the ones that survived contained the new and refreshing sparkling wine.

The monk, Dom Pérignon, took credit for creating Champagne. While we will never know if he was the first to mass produce the bubbly, we know he initially tried to eliminate the bubbles in the wine, because the bottles would break under the pressure of the second fermentation. Later, he invented the second fermentation in the bottle, so while he might not have been the first, he certainly perfected it.

Champagne quickly became a must-have for royalty. The King of France started serving the sparkling wine during official dinners at the Royal Palace. In the years after 1715, the Duke of Orléans introduced the sparkling version of the Champagne wine to the rich and famous.

Mixologists around the world make amazing cocktails with Champagne as their base…and one of the most popular is the French 75. The drink dates back to World War I, where the combination of alcohol was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. Paul’s going to take a shot at it here:

Watch the Video

Paul’s French 75

INGREDIENTS:
3 oz. champagne
1 oz. gin
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
Lemon peel and zest for garnish
Ice

PREPARATION:
To create this very classic champagne cocktail, grab your cocktail shaker and add some ice. Then add the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Go ahead and give that a shake. Strain it into a champagne glass or flute and then top it off with the champagne.

Now the traditional garnish for a French 75, of course, is a little bit of lemon peel. While regular lemons will work, Paul is going to use some Buddha’s hand lemon today. Take a little of the peel, give it a little twist, rub it around the rim, and then drop it in the glass. And there’s a French 75.

There are lots of ways to dress up a martini…none more fun than pairing vodka with Champagne.

Here’s my Champagne martini:

INGREDIENTS:
Champagne
1 oz. vodka (I love Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head vodka)
½ oz. pineapple juice
½ oz. Chambord (a raspberry flavored liquor)
Fresh raspberries for garnish
Ice

PREPARATION:
As with the French 75, take your cocktail shaker and add some ice. Then add the vodka, pineapple juice and Chambord and give that a shake. You want to shake it until it gets nice and frosty. Pour it into a martini glass and top it with champagne until it’s full.

For the garnish, add some fresh raspberries. Just drop them right in the glass. Magnifique!

Have a great day and happy new year and cheers to a great 2021!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 20: Dueling Mules

Happy holidays! I’m Bryan Dell, CRO at BigPanda and I’m glad you’ve stopped by the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge. This week, our head of sales and my good friend, Paul Szymczyk, have dueling mules to share with you.

Paul is going to show you how to make a traditional Moscow Mule and I am going to whip up a Mezcal Mule. One from Russia, the other from Mexico, these mules are different, but they are both great holiday drinks.

The biggest difference between the two mules is the liquor we use. The traditional recipe calls for vodka, but the Mezcal Mule uses, well, Mezcal!

You might be wondering what Mezcal actually is. 400 years ago, when the Spanish conquerors arrived in Mexico, they taught distillation techniques to the native inhabitants and the first distilled spirit in the Americas was born: Mezcal.

Mezcal, which means “oven-cooked agave,” is often confused with tequila, and some describe Mezcal as the spicy cousin of tequila. They are two very different spirits and create a completely different tasting cocktail. Mezcal is derived from the maguey plant, and the generic name for spirits distilled from agave. In fact, tequila is a form of mezcal, not the other way around!

Mezcal can be made from 11 different types of agave that are native to Oaxaca, which is where these are mostly made. Like a whiskey or scotch, mezcal has many variations and characteristics as a result of the different types of agave that are used to produce it. The priciest mezcal is smooth, amber-colored and aged in oak barrels. The lower end of the spectrum is clear and throat-burning, and usually has a worm in it. Our favorite is called Ilegal Mezcal which is a beautifully balanced mezcal.

And why the reference to a “mule?” Supposedly, the mule was added to the name because the ginger beer gave a ”kick” of flavor to the drink. While I love experimenting, Paul is pretty stubborn (see what we did there?) and a purist about his recipes. Check them both out and let me know which one of these tasty libations wins the duel!

Watch the Video

Paul’s Moscow Mule

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. vodka (Crystal head is our favorite for this)
½ oz. lime juice
4 oz. ginger beer
A couple fresh slices of ginger
Fresh lime slice
Ice

PREPARATION:
Grab your cocktail shaker and add some ice. Pour the vodka in and add the lime juice. Then add a couple of fresh slices of ginger.

Now shake it all together. When you have a lot of goodies in your shaker, you really need to shake it out. Pour it into your copper mug full of ice and then add your ginger beer.

As the final touch, add a fresh wedge of lime and squeeze it in the drink.

My Mezcal Mule

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. Mezcal (as I mentioned, Ilegal Mezcal is my favorite)
½ oz. lime juice
4 oz. ginger beer
3-4 fresh mint leaves
A bit of serrano or jalapeño pepper, chopped-up
Ice

PREPARATION:
Take three, four large mint leaves and add to your shaker and add a bit of a chopped-up serrano or jalapeño pepper. Then muddle them in the bottom of your shaker. Next throw a little bit of ice into the muddled work and add the Mezcal. And then we’ll also do 1/2 ounce of the lime juice.

Then, shake it all that together. Pour it into the traditional copper mug, which already has ice in it. As mentioned on our other mule, when you have a lot of mint, you need to shake it out because the mint will block the holes. Then, top your drink off with some ginger beer and a little fresh sprig of mint that will float on top.

And there you have it: a Moscow mule and a Mezcal mule…Ypa and salud!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 19: Michelada

Holiday festivities are underway at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge…which reminds me of some great celebrations I’ve had in Mexico, sitting on the warm beach, eating tacos and enjoying a cold Michelada. That’s right: this week, I’ll show you how to make the perfect Taco Tuesday Michelada.

There are actually two kinds of micheladas; the classic Michelada and the Michelada rojo. The rojo version includes tomato juice or a clamato and some spice around the rim but I’m going to share a recipe for a refreshing version of the classic.

Never heard of the Michelada?  There are two theories around the origin of this Mexican beer cocktail. One is definitely a better story, but you can decide which one to believe…

In 1910, during the initial turmoil of the Mexican Revolution, “el General” Don Augusto Michel would frequent a local cantina in San Luis Potosi with his war-weary soldiers. To lift their spirits after a long day of fighting, Michel would order a beer with lime and add hot sauce. Supposedly, the cantina owner named the tasty beverage after Michel, combining “Michel” and chelada, which means “cold one.”

The more practical theory is that the Michelada became a catch-all name for any beer cocktail consisting of light beer, hot sauce and lime juice. Here’s how you’d break the word down in Spanish: mi (my), chela (slang term for beer), and ada (from helada, a term of cold). I’ll drink to that!

Micheladas made their way out of Mexican restaurants and onto brunch menus around the world. Micheladas appeal to bartenders because of their classic blend of flavors and, for some restaurants, a cocktail they can offer without a liquor license. Micheladas can get dressed up to complement a wide variety of cuisines, and my recipe will be a perfect thing to make the next time you have tacos!

Watch the Video

INGREDIENTS:
Lager beer (normally, I would use a Pacifico, or a Modelo but since I’m in this pure summer mood, I actually picked up some Red Stripes)
¼ cup fresh lime juice
Margarita salt
Ice

PREPARATION:
Let’s start with some margarita salt. The best kind is with the little hat that then acts as a bowl. Pour a little bit of lime juice in the rim and then tap your glass in the salt.

Take a small handful of ice and add to the bottom of your glass – not a full glass of ice. Put it in there carefully so you don’t knock the salt off.

Add some fresh lime juice. You could sit and squeeze some fresh limes, which is a good way to do it, but since you need a fair amount, you can also buy some lime juice from the store. Be sure to buy the one that says “not from concentrate” because it tastes like real lime juice. Pour in the juice and make sure there’s just enough to coat the bottom of the glass.

Add the beer. Any sort of lager beer will work but I’m using Red Stripes here. Gently pour it in the glass while the glass is tilted, all the way to the top.

It’s super simple, nothing fancy. Essentially, we’ve got a beer over ice with some lime juice and a little bit of salt around the rim. Super refreshing!

Cheers. Have a great day.

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 18: Bloody Mary

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge. Everyone knows you should always have a great breakfast. In fact, some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Ironically, this phrase was coined by James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg to sell their newly invented breakfast cereal in the early 19th century. This week, my good friend Paul Szymczyk and I are going to share two recipes that go perfectly with the breakfast of champions: the traditional Bloody Mary and the perfect breakfast shot.

The Bloody Mary’s origin is as murky as the tomato juice it’s made with. One thing cocktail historians can generally agree on is that a bartender, Fernand “Pete” Petiot, conceived of a rudimentary version in the early 1920s with a dolled up tomato-juice vodka concoction with various seasonings—horseradish, Tabasco Sauce, lemon juice and celery salt. A classic was born.

Of course, there are other more interesting stories about the cocktail, including the notion that the Bloody Mary dates to the rule of ruthless Queen Mary I of England in the mid-1550s. The tomato juice, according to the Weekly World News, “represents the blood spilled,” while the vodka, the “firewater,” is symbolic of the queen’s brutal means of executing the martyrs.

The Bloody Mary is not a spirits-driven drink—and that’s part of the appeal, especially among home mixologists who just enjoy a great weekend cocktail. The tomato juice and vodka form a blank canvas on which one can get very creative with spices, veggies, shrimp and other goodies. My favorite part of the Bloody Mary is when it is chocked full of ridiculous items. Check out how to make our two breakfast drinks here and see the surprise additions to our Bloody Mary.

One final note: the Bloody Mary is not an evening drink—those who consume it after the sun has set possess personality defects and are to be avoided. It is, however, a known antidote to the common hangover, and that is yet another reason it is the breakfast of champions.

Watch the Video

The traditional Bloody Mary

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. of vodka (Tito’s is Paul’s go-to for this cocktail)
3-4 oz. tomato juice
Dash of horseradish
2-3 dashes Worcestershire
Diced cucumbers (PauI used cocktail cucumbers but any cucumber will do)
2-3 dashes of hot sauce (Paul made his own, but I buy mine! Tabasco, Tapatio or Cholula will all work)
A couple shakes of celery salt
A couple sprigs of celery
Sliced lemon
A couple olives
Our surprise added garnish

PREPARATION:
Take your glass and add the vodka. Then add a little dash of horseradish, depending on how spicy you want this cocktail to be. Next, add some Worcestershire, just two or three dashes. If you want to tone down the heat and give it a nice sharp, spicy bite, but also give it a little bit of mellow add some diced cucumber.

Give it a couple of dashes of the hot sauce to taste. You can make it a little spicy here. Add the tomato juice. If you use two ounces of vodka, I like to go about three or four ounces of tomato juice. It just depends how aggressive you want to get with your cocktail. Give a little stir and top it off with ice. Now maybe one of the most important parts, the garnish.

First, hit it with a little bit of celery salt. Then throw in a couple of sprigs of celery. I like adding in some lemon and a couple of olives. Be sure and squeeze the lemon into the drink.

Now, for the final touches, I’ll top it off with a slice of crispy bacon and then some snow crab. Just stick the whole cluster into the glass and make it extra ridiculous. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

If the Bloody Mary is too hearty of a breakfast drink for you, try this breakfast shot:

Royal breakfast shot

INGREDIENTS:
1-1.5 oz. Irish whiskey (I used Teeling here)
½ oz. butterscotch Schnapps
1-2 oz. orange juice

PREPARATION:
Hit your shot glass with the Irish whiskey. As mentioned, I use Teeling, but you can also use Jameson or Redbreasts or anything else that you happen to have on hand. No matter what, Irish whiskey is preferred for this one.

We’ll top that really strong whiskey with the most delicate of all liquors, butterscotch Schnapps. Pour the butterscotch Schnapps on top of the whiskey in the shot glass.

And then, as with any shot, you need a little bit of a chaser. So, we’re going to go with some orange juice in a second shot glass. And to make this a breakfast of its own, add a little bit of crispy bacon and have that on the side.

So, raise your glasses, cheers and good morning to the breakfast of champions!!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 17: Ready for Anything Old Fashioned and Mint Saffron Old Fashioned

Welcome! When the Bamboo Lounge first opened, we featured a traditional Old Fashioned cocktail. This week, Paul and I are going to take on two different Old Fashioned cocktails…with a twist!

First, I’m creating the Ready for Anything Old Fashioned. This coffee-based delight is easy to enjoy any time, day or night. As we’ve established in previous weeks, Paul is a little less daring with his cocktails so he’s making a Mint Saffron Old Fashioned. We’ll be interested to see which one is most popular.

The origin of the Old Fashioned goes back so far that it’s tough that any one person created it. The original drink was aptly called the Whiskey Cocktail for its simplicity and popularity up until the late 1800s.

After prohibition, the Old Fashioned went through a prolonged awkward phase. After the speakeasies closed and bars reopened, bartenders began altering the classic recipe. They added powdered sugar, soda water and a muddled blend of oranges, cherries and pineapple…oh my! Suddenly, this popular drink – which was being made using the same name – enraged purists…so much so, that in 1936, someone sent a letter to the editor of The New York Times ranting on the subject and it went “viral”…whatever that meant in 1936.

At the turn of the 21st century, Americans started to care about cocktails again… bartenders became mixologists and the soda guns were taken out of their holsters. This cocktail renaissance inspired the rebirth of many classic cocktail recipes, and leading the way was the Old-Fashioned.

While our versions aren’t the fruity concoctions of the post-prohibition era, they’re still quite a twist from the classic. Read on or watch the video below to find out how to make our twisty versions.

Watch the Video

Ready for Anything Old Fashioned

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. rye Whiskey (I’m going to use six-year Templeton rye. It’s not too expensive but it’s nice and smooth.)
1 teaspoon coffee simple syrup
½ oz. dark, strong coffee (espresso would work as well)
5-6 drops of bitters (I like Bitter Cube Cherry Bark Vanilla because it goes so nicely with the Templeton and the coffee)

Coffee simple syrup
Take a relatively strong brewed regular coffee, we actually made it in the Keurig, switched to a little bit strong. Then it’s one-part coffee, one-part regular white sugar, boil it down, and that makes your coffee simple syrup.

PREPARATION:
Fill a glass with ice and take your whiskey, your simple syrup and your bitters and add to the glass. Then add the dark coffee. I like to brew it early and let it cool to room temperature, so it doesn’t hit the ice and crush it down to water. Stir it up really well and enjoy it any time of day. It’s just coffee with a kick!

Mint Saffron Old Fashioned

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. American Whiskey (Paul’s favorite is Slaughter House American Whiskey made by Dave Phinney, who some might know from the phenomenal Orin Swift winery)
½ teaspoon of mint and saffron simple syrup
2 dashes of bitters (because Paul is a traditional guy, he likes Angostura bitters)

Mint and saffron simple syrup
Take about a half a cup of brown sugar and a half a cup of water, boil the water, mix in the brown sugar and go ahead and stir until it’s dissolved. At that point, you throw in a good handful of mint leaves, and a teaspoon of saffron. Turn it to a very low heat or even actually take it off the heat and just let it steep for about 25 minutes off heat. This will give you a mint and saffron simple syrup that is beautiful and smells delicious.

PREPARATION:
Fill a glass with ice and take your whiskey, your simple syrup and your bitters and add to your glass. Give it a stir. Now for the final touch, we’re going to add a garnish. Take a peeler and peel off a little sliver of orange peel. What Paul likes to do with the orange peel, is actually twist it over the cocktail. Get a little spritz of oil off the peel and then rub it around the rim. Tasty with a twist.

Cheers!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 16: BigPanda Martini

Welcome! After a busy quarter, I love to celebrate with new cocktail recipes, which I am happy to share in the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge! In preparation for November, which I always think of as “James Bond” month, my fellow mixologist, Paul Szymczyk and I are going to tackle two brilliant martini recipes.

The first is the Panda… BigPanda martini and, since Paul is a purist, this one is made with gin. The second is a Correlated…not stirred martini, done right with vodka.

The martini, with its basic ingredients and air of refined panache, is one drink that doesn’t come and go with the latest trends. In fact, throughout the years, the martini has starred in many books and movies, first in Ernest Hemingway’s pronouncement in A Farewell to Arms, “I’ve never tasted anything so cool and clean…they make me feel civilized.”

It then made a recurring appearance every time James Bond uttered “shaken, not stirred.” And again, in the classic The Wolf of Wall Street when Mark Hanna said “Get us two Absolut martinis. You know how I like ’em – straight up. In seven and a half minutes, you will bring us two more, then two more every five minutes after that until one of us passes the out.”

Like a dirty martini, the history of this American drink is pretty murky.

Some believe it was named after “Martini & Rossi” vermouth, which was first created in the mid-1800s. To keep it short and sweet, the drink became known as the “Martini.”

Some historians claim it originated in the town of Martinez, California, where town inhabitants claim the drink was invented during the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s. Others say the drink was invented in San Francisco after a miner requested a pick-me-up in the city on his way to Martinez. And another theory points to a bartender at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel.

During the 1950s and 1960s, it was common for cosmopolitan executives and businesspeople to practice the “three martini lunch.”

While we don’t advocate a three-martini lunch, we do like both of these recipes and recommend you give them a try! We also agree on the secret ingredient that both of these martinis rely on. Watch our video and find out what that is!

Watch the Video

If you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s the deal:

Both martinis rely on olives stuffed with blue cheese…so Paul and I recruited our phenomenal helpers Bryanna and Zoe. The other thing Paul and I agree on is the number of olives you need per drink. Paul says if you put less than three olives in your martini, you’re making a mistake. I would even argue that – in some cases – each martini deserves two sticks of olives. Try out these recipes and tell us what you think.

Recipe for the Panda… BigPanda martini
When we started talking about making martinis, Paul said “Well, I like to do some things the old-fashioned way.” Where have I heard that quote before, I wonder? Let’s see how he does it:

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. gin (Paul’s favorite is Plymouth)
A little bit of vermouth
Three (minimum) Roquefort/blue cheese stuffed olives (if you can’t recruit helpers to make them)

PREPARATION:
Take 2 oz. of gin and drop it in the shaker over ice. Then add the vermouth. Remember to only use the tiniest drop of vermouth that you can possibly pour in the shaker. Paul likes his martini very dry!

Recipe for the Correlated…not stirred martini
I have not met a martini I didn’t like – and this one is a personal favorite:

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. Tito’s vodka (although Crystal Head would be an amazing martini as well)
¼ oz. vermouth
A drip of olive juice
Three of the tasty Roquefort cheese stuffed olives

PREPARATION:
I’m not hung up on traditional recipes so I’m going with a vodka martini… and I’m going to make it a little bit dirty. Let’s start by adding our 2 oz. of vodka to the shaker filled with ice. Then add in the vermouth. I like a little bit more than Paul’s drip. Then I add in a little drip of olive juice to add a little salty flavor to it.

Now is where the controversy begins. Paul believes Ian Fleming led all of you 007 fans wrong and a proper martini should be stirred, not shaken. So, he’s going to give his cocktail a nice stir and chill his cocktail that way.

I’m not really emotional about it, and in fact could care less if it was stirred or shaken, I probably wouldn’t know the difference! But just to be different from Paul, I’m going to go ahead and shake mine. It kinda looks cooler anyway.

Now pour the drinks into the glasses. You’ll see that this martini is cloudy from the olive juice.

Cheers!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team. In fact, I recently got a great suggestion from Sarah Bailey, a DevOps and Automation Architect at Country Financial. You’ll be seeing that recipe soon!

Week 15: White Russian

Welcome! While I enjoy my CRO duties, I also love to mix up some cocktails and share the recipes at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge. This week, I’m back with my fellow mixologist, Paul Szymczyk and we’re honoring “The Dude” in our special take on a White Russian, courtesy of…well, The Dude.

“The Dude” is from The Big Lebowski, a 1998 crime comedy written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen. It is a cult classic, with equal parts of Raymond Chandler and Cheech and Chong, great characters and hilarious, quotable lines. Jeff Bridges is Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a total slacker and avid bowler with a penchant for cannabis. If you haven’t seen it, be one of the first to sign up and you’ll get a copy of the movie to enjoy while you mix a White Russian and watch The Dude stumble through murder, mayhem, kidnapping and ransom while having a “high” time of it.

The original White Russian was conceived in 1949 when Gustave Tops, a Belgian barman, created it and its sister cocktail, the black Russian (a White Russian without cream) at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels.

But why the name White Russian? Obviously, the drink doesn’t take its name from its country of origin – instead, it’s because vodka is the main ingredient. Although the cocktail had become somewhat popular, it wasn’t highly requested until 1998 when the cult classic film, The Big Lebowski, was released and the cocktail rose to the superstardom it knows today.

In fact, before the movie brought the cocktail to millions of new fans, it was fading away like leather on bar stools. It’s The Dude (who drinks White Russians non-stop throughout the film) and his fans that helped the cocktail surge back to popularity. In fact, it became so tightly associated with the character that Bridges starred in a 2014 Kahlua commercial advertising the drink. Check out this article for some other fun Big Lebowski references.

So let’s get to making this White Russian, courtesy of The Dude!

Watch the Video

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. heavy whipping cream
A splash of milk

PREPARATION:
Start by filling a glass with ice. Add the vodka. We’re going to use Tito’s today. I’m a vodka guy, as I’ve mentioned before…I love Crystal Head, I love Double Cross and Tito’s is always my go to, especially when I’m out, because everyone carries it.

Next add the Kahlua. If you’ve never tried Kahlua before, it’s a coffee-flavored liqueur that’s good for many different beverages but it works especially well as the core of the White Russian. Next top with the heavy whipping cream. I like to put in some milk as well because the whipping cream is a little heavy. Sometimes I add a little more because it makes it nice and creamy—it tastes like chocolate milk!

Some people like to drink the White Russian just like this, layered, in a pour. Others prefer to stir it up. There’s really no right or wrong on this one. Although most people like theirs layered…and The Dude abides.

Cheers – let’s go bowling!

Be sure and take a pic of yourself in your bathrobe with cocktail in hand and tag @bigpanda to get something extra!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 14: Nothin’ but Gin

Welcome! I always look forward to taking a break from my CRO duties to have a little fun with friends at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge. This week, I have a special guest helping me out: Paul Szymczyk, the creator of the Famous Szymczyk Manhattan I featured a few weeks back.

Paul and I worked on a few crafted cocktails for you, and our theme was Nothin’ but Gin!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my go-to drink is a vodka soda. Judging from the emails I got, many spirit-forward people don’t really view that as the drink of drinks (read “snobs”). In fact, one of our good friends, Jerry Gitlitz over at Bank of America sent me an article with an undertone of “vodka sodas are for babies.”

Jerry suggested I try a drink called “the Eastside Rickey.” I’m going to prepare that today but I’m jazzing it up a bit and calling it Nothin’ but a Panda thing. Paul is going to make a traditional Gin n’ Juice, inspired by our friend Snoop Dogg, hence the name Machizzle Learnizzle.

I did a little research on why gin lovers enjoy the Eastside Rickey so much and why it can easily convert a vodka drinker to gin. One bartender wrote that, when faced with traditional vodka drinkers who want to experiment, he wants to reward them with something “not merely good, but something so incredibly, ridiculously, grab-the-table-with-your-eyes-closed delicious that they’ll not only like it, but love it.” He gets them every time with the Eastside Rickey, or the Nothin’ but a Panda thing.

The secret: mint and cucumber. In her delightful book called The Flavor Thesaurus, Niki Segnit refers to the combination of mint and cucumber as “colder than a couple of contract killers,” and this is never truer than in the Eastside Rickey. It is gin, lime, cucumber, mint and soda, and is incredibly refreshing. The produce meets and transforms the evergreen notes in the gin, neutralizing what some people don’t like about it, and the soda water makes it somehow even more perfect for a warm evening. It is a crowd pleaser, converter of gin-aphobes, winner of the hearts of vodka-philes and one of my new summer go-to beverages.

Paul’s drink, Machizzle Learnizzle, is a punchy ride, much like the song it was named after called Gin ‘n Juice, by American rapper Snoop Dogg. The lyrics are just as punchy and we won’t be sharing them here but watch the video and sing along if you know it.

Watch the Video

Here are both recipes Paul and I made:

Preparing Nothin’ but a Panda thing
INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. gin (I prefer Esme for its botanical notes)
6-7 slices of fresh cucumber
7-9 leaves of mint
½ oz. simple syrup
Sparkling water (my favorite is passion fruit club soda although regular club soda will work)

Take your cucumber slices and add them to your shaker. Then take your mint leaves, smack them with your hand a bit to activate them and then add to the glass as well. Muddle them together. The idea is to release some of the juices and a little bit of the essence.

Next add your gin and simple syrup. You can make your own simple syrup which I talked about in a previous video (one-part sugar, one-part water and boil until it dissolves.) But since this is just plain simple syrup, we’ll just use it right out of the bottle. Now shake it up really good.

Load your glass up with ice and fill it about three-quarters full with the mixture. Then you have your choice: the original recipe calls for regular club soda. But I’m addicted to Essence sparkling water so I’m going all out with the passion fruit club soda to compliment this one. It’s delicious!

Now the garnish: take one more piece of cucumber, poke a little hole in it and add a sprig of mint. Float it right there on top of the ice, add a straw and you’re ready to go!

Preparing Machizzle learnizzle
INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. gin (Paul likes Hendrick’s because of its medicinal quality)
3 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
A couple drops of Angostura bitters
Fresh herb garnish

Take a shaker and add your gin, then add the grapefruit juice. The trick to making this cocktail super-tasty is to have fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. If you have a tree in the backyard, it’s perfect. For our cocktail today, we hand-squeezed these ruby reds. Add ice and shake.

Fill a rocks glass with ice and pour. This can get a little tricky because the pulp from the fresh squeezed juice tends to clog up your mixer.

Next, add one or two quick drops of Angostura bitters. There are all different types of bitters, but for this, Paul really prefers the traditional Angostura.

Finally, garnish the drink. Basil or thyme works great – Paul is using some home grown pineapple sage from his garden. Drink up, foshizzle!

Be sure and take a pic of yourself with one of these gin delights and tag @bigpanda to get something extra!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 13: Ulta-mate Watermelon Basil Margarita

Welcome! Each week, I put my CRO duties aside to host a mixology class at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge. This has generated interest with a few celebrities who have also become pretty serious about their beverages in the last six months.

This week, the Bamboo Lounge switches locations! BigPanda’s own Joe Masello hosts one of our favorite customers, Jeff Ybarra, at his poolside bar. Jeff shows us how to make the Ulta-mate Watermelon Basil Margarita and, just like our relationship with Ulta, it’s nothing short of amazing.

Jeff also shows us how hip he is by using Teremana tequila. Teremana comes from a small batch, ultra-premium craft tequileria called Distilerria Teremana de Agave, located in a small town in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you would know this tequileria is owned by Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock). There is a little plug for the Rock (and by little, I mean Joe’s five-year-old daughter says it) in the video – listen for it!

The name Teremana combines two words that are meaningful. “Tere” derived from the Latin “tera” meaning earth and “mana” the Polynesian word meaning spirit. Teremana is the “Spirit of the Earth.”

The Rock worked with a local family to perfect their process for the tequila. The jimadores (the farmers) harvest fully mature naturally sweet agave, and then slow-roast them in small traditional brick ovens and distill them in handmade copper stills. This creates a bright flavorful potion that’s cleaner and smoother than your average tequila.

If it’s good enough for The Rock, it is most certainly good enough for our craft cocktail! Find out how Jeff and Joe make this refreshing treat.

Watch the Video

INGREDIENTS*:
4 oz. Teremana tequila
4-5 cubes of fresh cut watermelon – quick, while it’s in season!
2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
Fresh basil leaves
1 oz. basil simple syrup

*Note, this recipe is for two cocktails

PREPARATION:
The secret to this recipe is two parts tequila, one part sweet and one part sour.

Start by making the basil simple syrup
Put one cup of water, one cup of white (granulated) sugar and one cup of basil leaves together in a saucepan and bring it to a boil for one minute. Turn the heat off and let the leaves steep for 30 minutes. Strain off the leaves and you are left with this wonderful simple syrup.

Now, take four or five watermelon cubes and muddle them right in the cocktail shaker, creating a puree.

Next, add four ounces of the tequila. Note that we’re doubling the recipe so this will be for two drinks. Next add two ounces of fresh lime juice and one ounce of the basil simple syrup. Load up the cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 10 seconds.

Take two glasses and fill them up with ice. Remove the top from the shaker, grab a drink strainer and pour the mix over the ice. Next, take some fresh basil and add it right on top for a nice garnish.

There you have it: the Ulta-mate margarita! Thanks to Jeff Ybarra and Joe Masello for a perfect summer cocktail.

Want to hear more from Jeff Ybarra and how BigPanda supports the team at Ulta? Register for our upcoming IT Ops Ready virtual summit where Jeff will be one of a dozen speakers. Network with other IT Ops, DevOps, NOC and SRE professionals who will share how they are preparing for 2021. Be one of the first 200 people to register and get a collectible BigPanda swag pack. Add that to your Bamboo Lounge bar gift and you will be sitting pretty by the pool!

Salud!

Be sure and take a pic of yourself with this yummy watermelon tequila treat and tag @therock and @bigpanda

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 12: Piña-Vodka Collaboration

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, where each week, I take off my CRO hat and shake up some cocktails for your enjoyment.

This week, I’m combining two delicious cocktails into one perfect concoction, a collaboration of sorts. I named it after one of the major reasons IT Ops teams love the BigPanda platform: Piña-Vodka Collaboration. Just as BigPanda provides the perfect collaboration solution with chat, notification and ticketing systems, this cocktail takes the best parts of a Piña Colada and makes it even better with vodka.

It’ll make you think you are sitting poolside… and – if you aren’t a BigPanda customer – you’ll wish you had one in hand during that next bridge call you are forced to sit on for hours.

The Piña Colada, which means “strained pineapple” in Spanish, is one of the world’s favorite mixed drinks. There’s no argument that the cocktail was born in Puerto Rico, but the identity of the bartender who first mixed up the iconic rum-based cocktail remains a point of contention.

The Caribe Hilton (one of the premier luxury hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico) claims the Piña Colada was first served at their Beachcombers Bar in 1954 by bartender Ramon “Monchito” Marrero.

Asked by hotel management to create a signature drink that captured the flavors of the island, Marrero spent three months experimenting with hundreds of combinations before perfecting his sweet, frothy concoction of rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice. Talk about a great job!

After tasting a Piña Colada, Hollywood legend Joan Crawford reportedly declared it was “better than slapping Bette Davis in the face.”

According to the Caribe Hilton, Marrero mixed up and served his creation at the hotel for 35 years until his retirement in 1989.

After months of testing, I have perfected a drink that combines Marrero’s original recipe and my love for vodka. Check it out!

Watch the Video

INGREDIENTS:
1 ½ oz. Vodka (Double Cross is one of my favorites)
1 oz. Malibu Rum
1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
Coconut sparkling water (LaCroix is the one I use)
Fresh pineapple bits and maraschino cherries for garnish

PREPARATION:
Fill a shaker with a good amount of ice and then add the vodka. While I’m using Double Cross for the recipe, I also love Crystal Head and Tito’s. Any vodka that you like will work. If you want the drink a little stronger, go with 1 ½ oz, which is what I typically go with.

Next, add the Malibu Rum and fresh pineapple juice. Once the three liquids are in your shaker, cover it and get a little Tom Cruise going.

Fill a glass with some ice cubes and pour the liquid over the ice. About two-thirds full. It gets sort of foamy from the pineapple juice, which looks really awesome and tastes even better.

Top it off with a little bit of the LaCroix. This will give it the coconut essence and some bubbles.

To finish it off, add some pineapple and cherries to your awesome BigPanda fruit pick* hippy-hippy shake, you’re ready to enjoy the Piña-Vodka Collaboration.

Salud!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 11: Herzliya Seaside Spritz

My wife and I took a trip to Tel Aviv, and over the course of the week, enjoyed some amazing seaside cocktails. This drink became one of my wife’s favorites, and while I don’t know it’s official name, let’s call it the Herzliya Seaside Spritz.

Just a little down the coast towards Tel Aviv, Herzliya’s sandy beach and marina create the picture-perfect Mediterranean seaside city. This cocktail is widely made in the popular beach bars and restaurants that line the coast.

Featuring gin, elderflower liqueur and lavender, it is light, refreshing and reminds me of the trip every time I prepare it.

I did a little research on the history of cocktails that used flowers. Turns out, ancient apothecaries had many different techniques like dynamic maceration and enfleurage for pressing, distilling and extracting flowers to create flower water, infusions and other cocktail companions. I found this article to be really interesting.

Lavender is a favorite for many mixologists. It’s well-known for its calming qualities and intoxicating scent, but beyond its inclusion in hand creams, candles, drawer sachets and room sprays, lavender has a side hustle in popular cocktails. But a little bit goes a long way. It’s definitely an ingredient that requires a light touch…too much can create a soapy feel.

Novelty, of course, wears off but I think florals are here to stay, as a beautiful garnish and increasingly popular ingredient. And with new gins featuring novel floral botanicals like I use in this cocktail I think we’re only just starting to see the possibilities.

Watch the Video

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. gin (I prefer Esmé for its floral and botanical notes)
1 oz. St. Germain
½ oz. lavender simple syrup (you can find this at Total Wine)
Prosecco sparkling white wine
Lemon wedge

PREPARATION:

Grab a shaker and add ice. Pour the gin into the shaker. Then add the St. Germain, which is an elderflower liqueur, and lastly add the lavender simple syrup.

Shake until you get it nice and chilled. Then fill your glass with ice, shake one last time for good measure and pour the liquid over the ice. About two thirds full. Then, top off with a bit of the Prosecco. Let the bubbles work themselves out. Then take your lemon wedge, do a squeeze and drop the lemon in the drink.

And now you have the perfect summer cocktail whether you’re on a beach in Israel or sitting in your own backyard!

By the way, if you happen to recognize the recipe, please send me a note and tell me what it’s really called.

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 10: AIOps Radar Fizz

If this is your first visit to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, glad you could join us! If you’re a regular, welcome back! I’m Bryan Dell, CRO at BigPanda, but I like to do a little moonlighting as a mixologist crafting up interesting and tasty cocktails and then sharing the recipes with you to hopefully help make running #ITOpsFromHome a little easier.

There has been a resurgence of classic cocktails with a speakeasy feel and I got a special request to create the Ramos Gin Fizz which we have changed up slightly and renamed the AIOps Radar Fizz as a tribute to GigaOm, who just recognized BigPanda as a leader in their 2020 AIOps Radar. Download it for a nice pairing with this cocktail.

The original Ramos Gin Fizz was invented in New Orleans and combines several ingredients into a citrusy, sweet, and creamy delight. The recipe calls for dry gin, powdered sugar, heavy cream, fresh lemon and lime juice, egg white and orange flower water. Once shaken, the drink is poured into a Collins glass and topped with soda water to elevate it and give it a little fizz.

Here’s the funny part about the Ramos Gin Fizz: it was invented by bar owner Mr. Henry C. Ramos, who was actually not a fan of drinking. Ramos was considered to be a gentleman of the highest quality and respected in the community. He closed his bar every evening at the decent hour of 8:00pm to discourage all-night drinking and was open for only two hours on Sunday afternoons, because his customers begged him to.

It was in his spirit of quality over quantity that Ramos created the Gin Fizz in 1888. Originally called the “New Orleans Fizz,” the drink became an immediate hit. According to cocktail lore, Ramos’ recipe called for an arm-busting 12 minutes of shaking time. He went so far as to form an assembly line of his employees, referred to as “shaker boys,” who would each shake the cocktail for a minute before passing down to the next employee so they’d have the stamina for the next order.

In 1935, The Roosevelt Hotel bought the rights to the drink’s name. It was here that Louisiana’s governor, Huey P. Long, fell in love with the cocktail, so much in fact, that he would bring Sam Guarino, one of The Roosevelt’s bartenders, on business trips with him so that he never had to be without the cocktail. On a business trip to New York City, Long asked Guarino to teach the bartenders at the New Yorker Hotel how to make the cocktail and called it his “gift to New York.”

Despite Long taking the drink beyond New Orleans’ borders, the Ramos Gin Fizz hasn’t gained much traction outside the city due to its extensive and complex ingredient list and labor-intensive production. You would normally have to go to the Big Easy but lucky for you, you can learn how to make it now at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

Watch the Video

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. gin (I like Aviation Gin)
½ oz. fresh squeezed lime
½ oz. fresh squeezed lemon
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. half-and-half
1 egg white
2-4 drops grapefruit bitters
Club soda

PREPARATION:
Start by pouring the Gin into your shaker. Then add the fresh squeezed lime juice and fresh squeezed lemon juice, along with the simple syrup. Go ahead and add that to your shaker.

Side note: I make my own simple syrup. It’s one-part water, one-part sugar. Boil it up, and it stays good forever. Just be sure to keep it refrigerated or it can get moldy.

Now add the half-and-half. I know it sounds a little strange, but it does taste good.

Next we’re going to take one egg white, separated from the yolk, raw, and pour it in.

The traditional recipe calls for orange rose water. I’m actually going to use some hopped grapefruit bitters. Just a few drops.

If you watch the video, you will see I didn’t put any ice in my shaker to get started. We’re going to shake it twice, once without ice, once with ice. So, start shaking for a few seconds without the ice. Then pause, snap it open, drop a little ice in there to get it nice and cold. And shake it again. You want to shake it really good. It’s gotta be cold, and it’s going to get a little foamy because of the egg white. Shake it for about 20 to 30 seconds. If you have anyone around, you can get them to shake it a few times too!

Then you take a Collins glass. Add some ice or serve it without ice, whichever you prefer. I’m going to add a little bit of ice because I like it really cold.

Now we’re just going to pour it right out of the shaker. It should have a nice bit of foam. Leave a little bit of room in the glass and then just top it off with some club soda. That gives it the fizz. If there’s not enough foam on top, you can spoon a little bit out of the shaker. Grab a little straw – better yet, be one of the first 150 people to sign up and get a cool re-usable straw from BigPanda!

That’s it: the AIOps Radar Fizz, a creamy refreshing cocktail that should always be shaken (not stirred) and savored with a nice GigaOm report.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 9: Szymczyk Famous Manhattan

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, where each week, I put aside my CRO duties and share amazing cocktail recipes to hopefully help make running #ITOpsFromHome a little easier.

This week, I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite cocktails. I can’t take credit for the recipe, which is why it’s called the Szymczyk Famous Manhattan. It’s named after my great friend, BigPanda colleague and mixologist Paul Szymczyk…and for all you Scrabble players out there, his last name scores nearly as many points as “quixotry” and even more fun to spell (especially after you’ve enjoyed a few of these)!

I’m not a big whiskey drinker, but I was over at Paul’s place one night and he offered me a cocktail. He was barrel-aging these Manhattans in little miniature barrels and, after one drink, I was hooked.

Paul can’t take all the credit for this. References to a “Manhattan” pop up as early as the 1880s, when Dr. Iain Marshall came up with the recipe for a party that was held by Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston’s mother) at the Manhattan Club in New York City. That story has been disputed since Lady Randolph Churchill was pregnant (with Winston!) and at home in England… not partying in New York.

The cocktail is still extremely popular and regarded by many bartenders as one of the best cocktails to ever have been served. If you agree, wait until you try the Szymczyk concoction!

The recipe for Paul’s world-famous cocktail is below (or check out how I make it on video). Whether you decide to mix-pour-drink or barrel-age it, you will love this cocktail. And, if you’re one of the first to sign up for the BigPanda swag, I’ll include instructions on how to barrel age the cocktail as well!

Watch the Video

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. whiskey or rye (Slaughter House is my favorite but you can use whatever you like)
½ oz. Amaro Nonino
½ oz. Antica sweet vermouth
A couple drops of cherry bark vanilla bitters
Maraschino cherries
The secret ingredient…two squirts of homemade tobacco tincture (it makes a difference!)

PREPARATION:
Get a mixing glass and add ice.

Get your favorite whiskey. I like it right about two ounces, but Paul uses two-and-a-half. Gotta watch that Paul! Pour into the mixing glass and add the Amaro Nonino.

Then add the Antica sweet vermouth. Paul says if you’re going to make any substitutions, don’t substitute this one. It’s the best one on the market and I tend to agree.

Next, do two dashes of the Angostura bitters. Paul uses Black Walnut bitters but they’re really hard to find and I actually like the cherry bark vanilla bitters.

Take a bar spoon and stir it up really good.

I like my drink really cold, so I’m going to put a big ice cube in the glass. You can get one of the large cube trays from Amazon, or, be one of the first 150 people to sign up and get a tray from BigPanda!

Right before you pour the drink over the ice, take a couple of maraschino cherries, and just lay them in the glass. If you want to get really fancy, skewer them with a toothpick. I add a little bit of the cherry juice for a touch of sweetness.

Now you’re ready to pour. You want to strain it in slowly over your ice cube.

And then the secret ingredient… Paul makes a homemade tobacco tincture. He actually takes pipe tobacco, soaks it in Everclear for a month, and bottles it. Put one or two sprays on top. And there you have it, the Szymczyk Famous Manhattan.

Cheers.

If you have a recipe you want me to try, send it my way (email: bryan-dell@bigpanda.io). If I feature your drink at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, you’ll get a really nice cocktail gift from the team.

Week 8: Mezcal and Cucumber Correlated Gimlet

Welcome to the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge Virtual Happy Hour. Whether you are running #ITOpsFromHome or back in the office, I’m glad you are making this your first stop after a long day.

Three months ago, I was inspired to start creating craft cocktails. There are similarities between mixing a great cocktail and what we do at BigPanda: take a bunch of ingredients (events) from different vendors, put them together in the right way (correlated) and suddenly, the world is a better place. Uncanny, right?

For each cocktail I create, I will also share how I do it on video. Check out how I make one of my wife’s favorites: the Mezcal and Cucumber Correlated Gimlet.

Watch the Video

The original gimlet is a simple classic cocktail made from gin and lime juice, typically Rose’s Lime Juice. It can also be made with vodka or other spirits, and some recipes call for fresh lime in addition to Rose’s.

The gimlet rose to popularity after it was mentioned in the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel “The Long Goodbye.” Philip Marlowe, the main character, said, “A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.” This line secured the gimlet’s place in history.

While researching the drink for this blog, I learned more about the name. A gimlet is a hand-held drill for boring holes, and would have likely been used on Royal Navy ships. The drink could have been named for its “piercing effect” on the sailors. The name is also credited to the naval surgeon Sir Thomas Gimlette, who may have concocted the drink as a way to combat scurvy.

My spin on the gimlet will cure scurvy and anything else that ails you.

INGREDIENTS:
1.5 oz. Mezcal (our favorite is Illegal Mezcal)
Fresh lime
Cucumber
Fresh Mint
½ oz. smoked simple syrup (Traeger makes an excellent one)
Sparkling water (LaCroix or AHA are good choices)

PREPARATION:
Put a little bit of Mezcal in the bottom of a shaker, then throw in a few slices of fresh cucumber and two or three leaves of fresh mint in. Use a muddler and smash it down a bit to release the flavors of the cucumber and the mint into the actual liquid.

Now add a little bit of ice in the shaker, then the full pour of Mezcal and the simple syrup. Squeeze in the juice from one full lime (or more if the limes aren’t super juicy). Then shake it until you get a little foam going.

Put some ice cubes in a glass. I recommend using larger cubes because they don’t melt as quickly. The BigPanda ice trays are awesome so put your name in the hat to get one.*

Before you pour your drink in the glass, shake it one last time then pour in about three quarters of the way full.

To cut through the sweetness of the drink and to add a little bit of carbonation, I top off the cocktail with sparkling water. Any flavor can work but we like the AHA strawberry cucumber because it really complements the drink nicely. If you want to get all fancy, add a thin slice of the cucumber and a mint leaf to the top.

As a final touch, activate the mint by smacking it between your hands and lay it right on top of the cucumber. Add a straw and there you are: fully correlated!

If you have a recipe you want me to try, share it! @bryandell

Week 7: (French) 75 Monitoring tools

If you don’t have a centralized IT Ops team, running #ITOpsFromHome is complex. What makes it trickier is that everyone wants their own monitoring tool. That’s enough to make anyone drink, which is how we came up with the name for the classic French 75: (French) 75 Monitoring tools.

You might be a regular at the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge, but it never gets old, right? Every week we share a new libation, its history, and how to make the tasty drink yourself. While you are here, sign up to win fabulous BigPanda bar goodies – they change every week (based on the drink).*

The (French) 75 Monitoring tools.

This noble cocktail is believed to be named after the French 75-millimeter light field gun which, due to its portability and rate of fire, was the mainstay of the French army during the First World War. We think it’s a not-so-subtle nod to the lethal nature of this cocktail.

The original French 75, also called a “75,” (in French, Soixante Quinze), became an icon of victory in the American coverage of the War, so it suddenly took on a new cachet. The novelist Alec Waugh dubbed it “the most powerful drink in the world.” It was even featured in the 1942 film Casablanca. Do you remember the scene?

The basic concoction of gin or cognac, champagne, lemon and sugar, can be traced back to the 19th century and is an adaptation of an older cocktail known as the Champagne Cup, which is champagne, sugar and lemon juice. In fact, it was said that back in 1867, Charles Dickens would serve a Champagne Cup to his guests.

Just by adding the gin, you have the modern French 75.

Champagne cocktails are sometimes thought to be for lightweights, but go easy. This doozy will get anyone woozy.

INGREDIENTS:
1 oz. gin
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3 oz. champagne or other sparkling wine
A lemon twist for garnish

PREPARATION:
Add all the ingredients except the champagne into a shaker with ice and shake well.
Strain into a champagne flute and top with the champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.

À votre santé!

Next week, get ready for something extra special! We are turning over the Lounge to Bryan Dell, BigPanda CRO and mixologist at large. The cocktails will get more crafty, and so will he. In fact, he’s not just going to write up his favorite recipes…he will show you how it’s done!

Cognac or gin in your French 75? Did you add anything different to your cocktail? Show us!

Week 6: Signal-to-noise Sangria

While many teams are still running #ITOpsFromHome and neighborhood hot spots might still be closed, the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge is not just open, we are booming! If you are a regular, welcome back. If this is your first time in, belly up to the virtual bar, read our recipes and stories, and sign up to be one of the lucky winners of BigPanda bar goodies.*

This week we’re serving up the sassy Signal-to-noise Sangria. Essentially, it’s an alcoholic fruit salad, which makes it a healthy spa drink in our book!

Sangria is to Spain what ice cold beer is to the States but with origins even older…the word “sangria” can be traced back to the Roman Empire, sangría was a combination of red wine and whatever alcohol and fruit was on hand. It was called “hippocras,” and it was sometimes heated like mulled wine. Hippocras is likely the common ancestor of both sangria and mulled wine, and was a go-to drink, especially since water was bacteria-filled and unsafe to drink. A touch of alcohol made the liquid drinkable, and mixing the watered-down wine gave it flavor.

In the 1700s and 1800s, a style of sangria was also being made in England and France using traditional French grapes. There was also white sangria, sparkling sangria, and sangria made with peaches, which was called “zurra.”

The current craze for sangria in the U.S. dates back to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Spain’s sponsored pavilion featured the drink, and Americans have been thirsty for sangria ever since.

The wine punch of today has deviated so far from its simple origins it’s nearly unrecognizable. These days, a house sangria is generally a variation of red wine, orange or lemon juice, a liquor (rum, gin or brandy!), sugar, ice and chopped up fruit.

There are thousands of recipes for Sangria using every fruit and type of alcohol around and most restaurants have their own sangria recipe, but Sangria’s appeal is all about taking your favorite wine, your favorite fruits, and experimenting with them. Here’s one of our favorites!

INGREDIENTS:
Bottle of Garnacha or Pinot Noir
Note: The appeal is these are both fruity low-tannin red wines. Tannins are naturally-occurring compounds in grape skins, seeds and stems that can make the wine taste bitter or astringent.

Fresh ripe fruit – Oranges or Lemons

Seasonal fruit – Strawberries or peaches in the warmer months. Apples and pears in cooler months
Note: Fruit infuses the wine with fresh flavor and sweetness, and gives the sangria a fun confetti vibe. We use a lemon instead of lime to make it less bitter. But for the fruit, any combination of fruits will do! Make it your own style!

PREPARATION:
Squeeze half of an orange into the sangria, then thinly slice the other half. Stir it all together and refrigerate for two to eight hours for maximum fruity flavor.

In a hurry? Start with chilled wine and flavorful fruit!

Salut i força al canut! While we don’t need to give you the direct translation, this is a really nice way to say “cheers to your health and happiness” in Spanish.

How do you make your Sangria special?

Week 5: Scotch on the OBML cocktail

This week we’re raising a toast with the Scotch on the OBML cocktail. If you are wondering why this drink includes OBML, it’s not because it came from “Outward Bound Malaysia Lumut” or because we love Opera Binary Markup Language. OBML, in Panda-land, stands for Open Box Machine Learning. It’s really the only way to go. Enough about that…let’s talk about the drink!

Each week, we will share one of our favorite libations with a twist. And with each new cocktail comes a gift! Share your mailing address here and it will go to a third-party fulfillment house who will ship out a fun swag pack to help you get in on the fun while practicing social distancing.

Now, let’s find out a little more about the Scotch on the OBML cocktail:

Talk about a minefield…the way to drink your scotch whisky is about as personal as what you’re rocking under that kilt.

The Debate
Any liquor can be served “on the rocks.” In the bar, the term “rocks” refers to ice. When someone orders a “scotch on the rocks,” they are asking for a straight pour of the house scotch. Whisky happens to be the one that is most often ordered this way.

This often brings up a debate among whiskey connoisseurs:

  • Do you need to add ice to your whisky?
  • Will ice dilute the whisky and ruin the experience?
  • Is there a better option that will chill the whisky without the dilution?

For the right whisky, it can also open up the spirit’s flavors and aromas. A few pieces of ice can replace a splash of water in your whisky while cooling the drink at the same time.

If you like your scotch chilled, the BigPanda solution to this age old question: whisky stones. If you want the chill without the dilution, you can use whisky stones. Made of materials like stainless steel or soapstone, they are tiny cubes that get ice cold in the freezer and can be added to any drink for an instant chill.

They’re quite nice and convenient and absolutely do the trick to chill your drink…if that’s your preference. There really is no right or wrong answer…drink it how you like it!

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. Scotch Whisky
BigPanda whiskey stones

PREPARATION:
Fill a rocks glass (a short tumbler) with your BigPanda Whisky stones and top with scotch. Don’t have those stones? Hit us up for them now!

Do you spell it whiskey or whisky?

The Scots spell it whisky and the Irish spell it whiskey, with an extra ‘e.’ This difference in the spelling comes from the translations of the word from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms. Whiskey with the extra ‘e’ is also used when referring to American whiskies.

Rocks? Or no?

Week 4: Gin and Too Much Noise cocktail

This week, we’re raising a toast with the Gin and Too Much Noise cocktail. If there is any cause to drink, it’s too much noise; alerts, events and incidents. Trust us when we say this cocktail will make it all better.

Each week, we will share one of our favorite libations with a twist. And with each new cocktail comes a gift! Share your mailing address here and it will go to a third-party fulfillment house who will ship out a fun swag pack to help you get in on the fun while practicing social distancing.

Now, let’s find out a little more about the Gin and Too Much Noise cocktail:

Gin itself has a long history, but we’re only going to talk about the actual Gin and Tonic cocktail here. In the late 1800s, the British took governance of India, and Brits flocked there for the warmer climate. However they struggled with the ravages of malaria in the tropical climate. Quinine was discovered to ward off the disease.

British officers in India took to adding a mixture of water, sugar, lime and gin to the quinine in order to make the drink more palatable, thus gin and tonic was born. Soldiers in India were already given a gin ration, and the sweet concoction made sense. A drink that tasted pretty darn good, and stopped them getting ill. That’s what we call a “win, win!”

In case you were wondering, back then, tonic was more heavily infused with quinine than it is today. In fact, guess how many liters of Gin and tonic you would need to drink each day for a dose of quinine strong enough to prevent malaria?

67…yes, 67. Don’t try that at home.

INGREDIENTS:
4 cubes ice
2 oz. gin
4 oz. tonic water
1 T. fresh lime juice
1 lime wedge

PREPARATION:
Place the ice cubes in a tall, narrow glass with the ice coming near the top. Pour gin, tonic water, and lime juice over the ice. Stir well with a long-necked spoon. Garnish with lime wedge, and serve immediately. Here’s to another great cocktail that cures what ails us.

What kind of gin do you use? Show us! Extra points if it’s Aviation!

Week 3: Old Fashioned IT Ops cocktail

This week we’re raising a toast with the Old Fashioned IT Ops cocktail. If you work with BigPanda, your IT Ops workflow will be modern but your drink can be an Old Fashioned!

Each week, we will share one of our favorite libations with a twist. And with each new cocktail comes a gift! Share your mailing address here and it will go to a third-party fulfillment house who will ship out a fun swag pack to help you get in on the fun while practicing social distancing.

Now, let’s find out a little more about the Old Fashioned IT Ops cocktail:

Like most cocktail history, there seems to be some confusion about the exact time and place the Old Fashioned was created…even the original ingredients and name are up for debate. (You don’t think it has to do with the creators sampling too much, do you?)

“The Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail” (the drink’s full name) dates back to the earliest days of the cocktail era. It follows the classic cocktail formula as laid down in 1806: spirit, a bit of sugar, a bit of water, and bitters. What’s particularly interesting is over the following two centuries, it never completely faded from view.

During the period of the late 1800s, drinkers preferred raw sugar over simple syrup. The cocktail was muddled right in the glass it was served in. Having ice in a cocktail became a thing around this time too.

Then, prohibition hit, and the golden age of the American cocktail was stalled.

After the repeal of prohibition, the Old Fashioned came back with a vengeance. But with that, a new generation tried to improve on this classic cocktail. The traditional Whiskey Cocktail, aka the Old Fashioned, started to see some changes. More fruits, oranges and/or cherries made their way into the drink. While this addition to the cocktail is not for everybody, it is certainly part of the Old Fashioned history.

Our recipe is closest to the original recipe from the late 1800s, simple and focused on letting the whiskey shine.

INGREDIENTS:
1 sugar cube (or 1 bar spoon simple syrup)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz. rye or bourbon
Orange twist

PREPARATION:
Step 1
Muddle the sugar cube and bitters with one bar spoon of water at the bottom of a chilled rocks glass. (If using simple syrup, combine bitters and one bar spoon of syrup.) Add rye or bourbon. Stir.

Step 2
Add one large ice cube, or three or four smaller cubes. Stir until chilled and properly diluted, about 30 seconds. Slip orange twist on the side of the cube.
Raise a toast and enjoy!

We’re a little Old Fashioned but always ready to try something new.

Week 2: Moscow Machine Learning Mule

This week, we’re raising a toast with the Moscow Machine Learning Mule. And yes, we had to make the Moscow Mule smarter with machine learning, of course.

Each week, we will share one of our favorite libations with a twist. And with each new cocktail comes a gift! Share your mailing address here and it will go to a third-party fulfillment house who will ship out a fun swag pack to help you get in on the fun while practicing social distancing.

Here’s the story behind the Moscow (ML) Mule: many take credit, but there are a few consistencies we found in the stories…

The Moscow Mule was created circa 1941, and a Los Angeles British pub called the Cock ‘n’ Bull was at the center of it. The owner bought the rights to a vodka company in the late 1930s, but was having a hard time convincing Americans to drink the stuff. Vodka wasn’t very popular in the States back then.

Additionally, the bar had ordered far too much ginger beer and was having trouble getting rid of it. To “clean out his basement,” the owner, along with his bartender, sampled the vodka and ginger beer together (in a copper mug) and the Moscow Mule was born. Bonus: The bartender had a girlfriend who owned a company that made copper products, so the mugs were easy to come by.

Though the Moscow Mule might not be a cocktailian masterpiece, it can be a refreshing quaff (provided you use a good, spicy ginger beer).

INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. Vodka
3 to 4 oz. Ginger beer
2 lime wedges (sometimes overlooked)

PREPARATION:
Add the vodka and ginger beer to a copper BigPanda Moscow Mule mug filled with ice and stir briefly. Squeeze the lime wedges into the drink before adding them to the glass. Stir briefly.

Served in a copper mug: You’ll need one of those…and BigPanda can help. Reach out with your information and we will send the first 250 people a collectible copper mug from the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge.

Week 1: Open Bar Margarita

This week we’re raising a toast with the Open Bar Margarita. You may wonder why we named it that… well, what are two things that are better open? A margarita bar and Machine Learning. BigPanda celebrates Open Box Machine Learning to support our friends who are running #ITOpsFromHome!

Each week, we will share one of our favorite libations with a twist. And with each new cocktail comes a gift! Share your mailing address here and it will go to a third-party fulfillment house who will ship out a fun swag pack to help you get in on the fun while practicing social distancing.

Now, let’s find out a little more about the Open Bar Margarita:

The Margarita is, almost certainly, the most common tequila-based cocktail. It’s served shaken, blended or straight up, and even has its own glass. But, as with most drinks, nobody really knows the exact origin…but lots of folks like to take the credit! There are more than 10 people that claim to have invented the margarita. It’s surmised that the reason there are so many stories for the history of the Margarita is that lots of people probably did invent it. It’s a relatively simple drink. The fact that it was “invented” in so many places shows what a great cocktail it really is!

Here are a few other interesting facts on the history of the Margarita:

  • In the 40’s, Jose Cuervo advertised the tagline in the US; “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name”
  • In the 50’s, Esquire Magazine highlights the Margarita as the Drink of the Month
  • In the 70’s, the world’s first frozen Margarita machine was created. It was inspired by the local 7-11’s Slurpee machine and the machine was adapted to work for Margaritas. It became a hit, and other versions of the machine quickly spread.

Regardless of who invented it, any drink that tastes this good is a winner in our book, so thank you to all of them!

INGREDIENTS:
2 lime wedges, for garnish
1/4 c. kosher salt or coarse sea salt, for rim
4 oz. tequila
2 oz. triple sec
1 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
Ice

Note: Use the BEST ingredients you can afford – using premium ingredients make a more delicious drink. Want to make it a Cadillac Margarita? Add a shot of Grand Marnier. (Always serve the Grand Marnier on the side.)

PREPARATION:
Place salt on a small shallow plate. Rim two glasses with lime wedge, then dip in salt to coat the rim.

Divide tequila, triple sec, and lime juice between 2 glasses and stir to combine. Top with ice, garnish with lime, and serve.

Now raise a classic toast for drinking margaritas with your friends:

“¡Salud!” It means: Health

See you again next week in the BigPanda Bamboo Lounge!

How do you make your Margarita snazzy?