Heavenly Light

Heavenly Light
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What is St. Patrick's Day to you?

Blog post published USBG Pulse March 17, 2015 

By: Trent Simpson

Possibly one of the most prominent “drinking holidays,”St. Patrick’s Day was historically noted for paying homage to St. Patrick by lifting the Christian Lenton, or Lent, restrictions on eating and drinking for the day, which propagated the popularity of drinking on March 17th.

As a bartender, what does St. Patrick’s Day mean to you? Do you look at St. Patrick’s Day as an event that can make or break the month of March? Do you pull a 20-hour shift and rake in two months rent working at an Irish pub? Maybe you take the night off to indulge in the revelry and shenanigans of the holiday, or you work at a fine dining establishment and cherish in the slow nature of the night concocting a special with some new promising Irish whiskeys or Guinness inspired cocktails?

In San Francisco, we were fortunate to have Ireland native Andrew Sweeney, who is immersed in the traditions of Irish culture, especially whiskey production, take us through his extensive and delicious line of Irish whiskeys. It was not only educational but also eye opening—from the smooth Kilbeggan to the fruity Greenore and peaty Connemara. After many decades of being rendered obsolete,  Irish whiskey has made a re-emergence, with the fastest growth of any whiskey category, including scotch and bourbon. The Irish whiskey market is booming, with many distilleries opening up even as we speak. From single malts to single grains, peated drams and specialty finishes, these delightful whiskeys are already available to the US consumer or coming very soon. 

Perhaps it’s time to rethink your Irish traditions and expand your horizons beyond the traditional Jameson and Guinness. In any case, whichever your tipple may be, and wherever you end up, indulge responsibly and encourage your guests to appreciate the finer things in life as they pay homage to their revered St. Patrick.

Special thanks to Mr. Andrew Sweeney for providing the photographs, USBG SF, Jennifer Sobb and Beam Suntory. 

Trent Simpson
Treasurer, Northern California USBG
Bar Manager, La Urbana


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Battle of Tequileros 2015: El Vampiro by Trent Simpson from La Urbana for the Win!!!

It was a long ride from conception to competition, but in the end perseverance, determination and an innovative twist on a classic tequila cocktail, El Vampiro, wins the 2015 Battle of Tequileros

Serving as a fundraiser for the USBG National Charity Foundation the annual competition was sponsored by Don Julio Tequila and was held at the lovely event space at Tres in San Francisco.

Below, I've chronicled some highlights from my entry/submission, pictures from the competition and recipes for how to make your very own Vampiro cocktail at home!

El Vampiro

2 oz Don Julio Blanco
.75 Fresh Lemon Juice
.75 Purely Syrup: Ginger Root
3 Dashes Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
1 oz Jugo de Vampiro* (layered on top)


Combine Don Julio, Lemon Juice, and Ginger Syrup in a cocktail shaker.

 Add ice and shake.  


Add three dashes of Celery Bitters to glass over ice.  Strain cocktail into glass.

 With separate mini carafe add Jugo de Vampiro.  Add celery swirl garnish and straw. 

Present to judges.

*Recipe and Ingredients for Jugo de Vampiro


All ingredients can be found at the CUESA Ferry Building Farmers Market in Saturday or foraged in the vicinity of San Francisco. For complete list of farms, see below.

2 Purple Baby Beets (peeled)
1 Large Gold Beet (peeled)
3 Celery Stalks
2 Carrots
5 Sprigs of Mint
8 oz of Ginger
15 Blackberries
1 Pink Grapefruit (peeled)
2 Meyer Lemons (peeled)
1 Valencia Orange (peeled)
1 Yuzu (for zest), or Bergamot Orange
6 oz Marshall Farm Bay Area Blend Honey
6 oz Water
1 oz Don Julio Añjeo
1 oz Smoky Mezcal


Juice all fruit (preferably with a Breville) and produce except for yuzu, fine strain. Take a saucepan and add juice over medium to low heat. In a separate container combine honey, zest of and yuzu and hot water, stir together and slowly add to pan with juice. Keep heat low, be sure not to boil, stir frequently. Continue stirring over low heat and remove any foam that rises to the top, taste for sweetness, if necessary add more honey. Remove from heat and let cool. Add Don Julio Añjeo and Mezcal to fortify, whisk vigorously. Place in mason jar or container for use in cocktail, makes about 8-10 servings and lasts up to 3-4 days.

Cocktail Inspiration/Local ingredients & inspiration:  

El Vampiro draws from many facets and walks of life, first from my love for Agave spirits, second from my passion for making cocktails and dedication to community events and education through the USBG, and thirdly, the abundance of local resources we have at our fingertips living in San Francisco. 

My cocktail is a play on the classic tequila cocktail, El Diablo, with my Jugo de Vampiro NorCal cordial as the perfect compliment to Don Julio. This initial inspiration allowed me to put my love and passion for the craft into this cocktail--especially being able to utilize spirits of such quality like Don Julio that provide a wonderful foundation to build a cocktail. In order to accentuate both the sweet and peppery notes of Don Julio Reposado, I was inspired by a traditional Mexican Beverage called "Jugo de Vampiro" to launch my ideas into action. The inspiration for the name comes from a Lucha Libre fighter, Vampiro Metálico which seemed fitting in conjunction with the ingredients in the cocktail. I was able to elevate a basic recipe to feature some of the amazing produce and citrus we have at our grasp here in Northern California--I harvested local meyer lemons, blackberries and rosemary from a friend's backyard and urban hikes through parks in SF. Its nice to be able to utilize nature to inspire what we do for a living.

I was also inspired by the Don Julio Farm to Shaker trip where we went together with the Don Julio team and USBG to Marshall's Honey Farm. I enjoyed the trip so much that have incorporated their Bay Area Blend as the sweetener. 

Lastly, I am constantly inspired by the incredible CUESA Ferry Building farmers market for its variety of colorful fruits and vegetables and friendly farmers. I was delighted to find all the ingredients such as local beets, celery, carrots and yuzu and inspired by the offerings to add more flavor and a personal spin to the recipe. We also have a plethora of incredible local products sometimes at your back door.  I am excited and honored to use my friend and co-workers' organic syrup company Purely Syrup Ginger Root in the cocktail.

This competition is a great way to realize how fortunate we are, tie in educational activities such as the Farm to Shaker USBG event, and accentuate our love and passion for the craft. With so much abundance around us, how can one not be inspired? 

Special giant thank you to Don Julio, Tres, Aeromexico and Luis Navarro for putting on an amazing event. A giant thanks, congrats and props to all the fellow Tequileros who did an amazing job as well--the competition was fierce and I look forward to drinking some agave with all of you soon! Also, huge thanks to the judges David NepoveMarcovaldo Dionysos and Ronaldo Colli, thanks for understanding my vision. Much love to Tony Devencenzi and Reza Esmaili for being amazing hosts. The Vampiro is on the menu at La Urbana so come by and get your own!

I also won two free tickets anywhere in Mexico, so I'll be taking suggestions on where to go...Tulum, Oaxaca, Manzanillo, Sayarita?!  

¡Salud, y nos vemos en México!

Written by Trent H. Simpson
Photos by Molly Decoudreaux 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"El Valiente" Trent Simpson's Entry for Northern CA 2014 Bacardi Legacy Cocktail National Competition: Feb 18th in Miami

"El Valiente"
Trent Simpson's Entry for Northern CA 2014 Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Regional Competition: Feb 10th at Bergerac, in San Francisco.

The cocktail I have created, "El Valiente" represents my legacy by defining all the characteristics that make up not only a good cocktail, but a great bartender as well. We need to be brave and daring, but have the audacity to make something bold that still maintains the integrity of what goes inside the glass and who serves it. All of these qualities have inspired me to be forever in legend and legacy, "El Valiente!"

Glassware: Old Fashioned (10oz)

Ice: Large Cube


1.5 part(s) Bacardi Superior / Smooth and Almond notes

1/2 part(s) Averna/ Herbaceous and Caramel

1/2 part(s) Dry Curaçao Pierre Ferrand/ Dry and Orange

1 part(s) Lime Juice/ Freshly Squeezed

1  part(s) Egg Whites/ Freshly Cracked

1 part(s) Bundaberg Ginger Beer/Carbonated, mildly sweet and somewhat spicy

In a mixing tin add all ingredients minus the ginger beer. Seal well and dry shake vigorously.  Add
ice and shake again, vigorously as well. Strain cocktail into Old Fashioned Glass containing Glass containing a large crystal clear ice cube. Carefully add ginger beer, garnish* and serve.

*Garnish: Carefully peel large twist of Valencia Orange with a channel knife or peeler. Express essences of citrus peel over the cocktail and form into twist. Then, insert delicately on cocktail so it rests on the ice, absorbs a little but of the foam, and hangs ever so slightly over the rim of the glass.

Inspiration: The inspiration for this cocktail comes from the character "El Valiente" from the Latin Bingo game, "Lotería." In imagining what this character would drink, I figured a seductive fizz with a decent amount of citrus and spice would be perfect. Bacardi Superior has a dry and subtle character that mingles with Averna and is accentuated with froth and citrus.  Just like this cocktail, "El Valiente" is brave and daring, refined and sweet, your best friend, or worst enemy depending on how you play your cards.

- Trent Simpson
San Francisco, CA

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Joga Bonita: Leblon Cachaça World Cup Cocktail Competition Semifinal Entry


This was my formal submission for Round Two of the Maison Leblon 2014 World Cup Bartender Competition.  I didn't win, but there is some thoughtful information here that I thought I would share!  I have answered the questions and described how to make my cocktail, the "Joga Bonito" cocktail for the global semi-finals for the Maison Leblon World Cup Cocktail Competition of 2014.  I hope you enjoy, congrats to all the winners and I'll still see you in Brasil!  And if anybody from the top 11 can't make it, give me a ring and I'll fill in!

Trent Simpson


1. What inspired you to become a bartender? 

In all honesty, the art of perfecting the art of the Caipirinha and bringing it back the American people was one of my deepest inspirations for becoming a bartender.  I could write a laundry list of other things that inspired me, but the strongest driving force was Brasil, Cachaça and Caipirinhas.  I was infatuated with the combination of limes, sugar and cachaça from my travels to Brasil after my senior year of High School.  I desperately needed to bring this secret back to the States, but needed to perfect the methods, or "Jeito de fazer" the perfect Caipirinha.  I spent a whole year "studying" in Salvador da Bahia my Junior year in college.  My biggest inspiration was a man, a bartender, a legend, who called himself, "Jesus." He always had the most beautiful outdoor Caipirinha bars at all the best events, parties and beaches I was going to.  Was he stalking me, or were we just like minded people?!  His technique and pizzaz, coupled with his amazing display of elegantly cut fruit and enormous personality created a lasting impression.  After returning, I started working in a restaurant my senior year of college, I envied the bartenders and I knew it was my calling.  I made Caipirinhas every chance I had, for guests at my house, and pop up bars and at parties. When I graduated, I took off to Brasil again--in a sort of "Sem Destino" way-- looking for a my opportunity to live on the beach, and be like "Jesus" making drinks for people and welcoming fellow travelers at all the best events.  His "jeito" always inspired me to be the best, most accommodating and fun bartender,  I never knew that "Jesus'" inspiration, and a sugar cane based spirit, fresh fruit and sugar would lead me down such a wonderful career path.

2. How long have you been bartending?

Professionally, I have been bartending for over seven years, starting with my tenure at Bossa Nova in San Francisco.   However, I started mixing drinks when I was (at most) 16 for my Mom's Friday Afternoon Parties.  I was also fetching Single Malt Scotch for my Dad and Uncle in our late night family poker games over the holidays, blending my own virgin concoctions.  Since then, I have strived to make the perfect Caipirinha, or Cosmo, or any cocktail for anyone at any given time.  After I graduated college I traveled again to Brasil for more research, and learned to perfect Caipirinhas, Batidas and the overall Jeito Brasileiro.  When I finally made it back to the states, inspired by Caipirinhas and Brasil, I made my play to get a job bartending.  I succeeded and got a gig as a barback at a Brasilian restaurant called Bossa Nova.  I worked 4 nights a week hoping for the day to make my own drinks behind the bar, and finally I got my first bartending shift.  From Bossa Nova, I have grown my career into a full fledged professional bartender and my desire for the profession and commitment to the craft has never been more prominent.   From my days of fetching Scotch or making "Batidas" for fellow "mochileros" in Pousadas on my travels around Brasil, to being known for mixing up "Trent Dogs" in my dorm room in Washington DC--I have always been a bartender in some capacity.  After seven years of making a living of it in San Francisco, I am a proud member of the Executive Council for the Northern California Chapter of the United States Bartenders' Guild and look forward to every shift.

3. What do you think makes you a good bartender?

Bartending a profession that covers so many facets that are intrinsic to being a 'good bartender' and takes a lifetime to master. From service, to cocktails, ambiance, presentation, technique, and technical skill, being a good bartender is ultimately about making a great experience for the customer.  Its so important to make every customer that comes through the door feel comfortable and happy, engaging them in conversation and delivering a quality product that suits the particular needs while having fun, being efficient and smiling at the same time.  If one can properly achieve all of these attributes with each customer, then I would render these qualities essential to making one a good bartender.  I strive to achieve all of these facets with everyone that walks through the door to my bar, or comes to indulge in a libation with me in my living room.  I love the fact that you never know who is going to sit down in front of you, and I love being able to cater to the people from all walks of life.  I strive for these experience on a day to day basis, and in order to consider myself a good bartender, it is essential to achieve this day in and day out.  However, with any profession, there always room for improvement in every facet of the job, and if we constantly seek to improve, as I always am, then one can consider themselves as on the path to being a good bartender. 

4. When you're not behind the bar, where can you be found?

I love to go to the beach, play futebol, ski, golf, travel, cook, garden or visit nature and enjoy outdoor activities on my free time.  I enjoy exploring the city I live in, San Francisco, and Bay Area because it has so much to offer.  From wine country to beaches, parks, pick up soccer games, and world class bars and restaurants, there is a lot to keep me busy when I'm not behind-the-stick.  Some of my favorite things to do are: take a quick jaunt through the Marin Headlands while listening to a new playlist, such as the Leblon HOTBAB on Spotify, and end up at a little seaside cafe and eat some fresh clams, sip a Leblon Caipirinha and watch the sunset along Stinson Beach.  Or, maybe maybe a cruise into Tilden park to escape the wind and enjoy a few holes of golf, drive the windy roads and grab some fresh produce from a local farmers market to put in a delicious libation for later.  I like to live life to the fullest, find little treasures everywhere, in work and play, live and love, teach and learn from others how to find the finer things in life!

5. You're life's motto is:

My life motto is based on a combination of the messages in two of my favorite songs, "Vamos Fugir" by Gilberto Gil and "Deixa a Vida me Levar" by Zecca Pagodinho.  If you let life take you, life will take you for the better, you can escape, travel, or just live, but as long as you are happy, then life will be great.  In a nutshell: If you live everyday better than the next, then every day will be the best day of your life!

6. What does it mean to you to 'Be Brazilian Be Leblon'?

Being Brasilian and Being Leblon translates back to my life's motto where one must live life first, with an ora of happiness at the forefront.  Like Steve Luttman says in his book, How to Be a Brazilian, "What truly distinguishes Brazilians is the certain jeito about them--a certain warmth and spontaneity that's as indescribable as it is infectious."  Thus, for me to describe it here is no small task, but what I do know it that from loving family to enjoying free time, laughing, celebrating, eating and drinking and dancing--if you cherish the good things in life, then every day will be the best day of your life. Being Brazilian and Being Leblon relates to how Brazilians live on a day to day basis, and we all know how awesome that is!  For me, I see Being Brazilian and Being Leblon as a mantra to always live life first.   Whether on the beach or at a backyard churrassco, at a giant festival or a birthday celebration, Being Brazilian is Being Leblon and vice versa.

7. Why do you want to be a part of Team Maison Leblon and travel with us to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?

In 2007 when FIFA announced the World Cup would be held in Brazil, I knew I wanted to go under any circumstances.   Being a part of The Team Maison Leblon and travel to the World Cup in Brazil would be a culmination of everything I am passionate about in my life.  From my profession as a bartender, to my hobbies and favorite sport being soccer, my love for travel, especially Brasil, and my  commitment to contribute to a team.  I spent two years of my life living and learning the culture and language of Brasil.  Based in Salvador da Bahia I was able to take part in what it truly means to "Be Brasilian," and now I would want more than anything to use that knowledge to "Be Leblon" as part of the Team Maison Leblon World Cup 2014.  "Deixa a Vida me Levar, Vida Leva Eu."  I've let life take me, I've traveled, I've worked hard and I've enjoyed every minute of it all.  Most importantly, life has brought me to this intersection where it all seems to make sense for what I want most: Live, Love and become a member of the Leblon Maison World Cup 2014 World Cup Team, it will make me the happiest person in the world! 

8. If chosen for Team Maison Leblon, what will you do over the next seven months to spread the word about Leblon?

Leblon's marketing has always inspired me--its sexy, seductive and intrinsic to the culture and message of what Brasil and the Brasilian people are all about.  Just like the players on the "Seleção Brasileiro" it takes a certain "Cabeza" to be part of the team.  You need a top level of skill, commitment, charisma and, but most importantly a proper "jeito" and strong commitment to the greater goal, to be part of the most renowned squad in the world.  For me this will be the most renowned bartending squad in the world, and I would be honored to be an integral part of it!  If selected, I promise that I will do everything to uphold the values of Leblon, Brazil, Professional Bartenders around the globe and commit my passion for the craft to make this exceptional team the best it can be.  From social media, to blogs, customers who approach me at my bar and random strangers on street corner to close acquaintances and family, I will tell them and the world professionally, excitedly and "com muito orgulho" that I am the right person to be on the Maison Leblon 2014 World Cup Team!  If chosen, I will feel "Pura Alegria" for the next seven months and use that energy to promote  us all, Vamos Maison Leblon 2014 World Cup Team!

Cocktail Entry: "Joga Bonito"

My cocktail, "Joga Bonito," is a representation of the diversity of Brasil,  the beauty in which Brasilians play futebol, and is homage to the delicious flavors and culture that one can put in a Caipirinha, especially when using the finest ingredients, such as Leblon Cachaça.    We are all going to watch the Seleção Brasiliera go for their sixth championship in 2014, so I invite you to take a journey with me as sip my cocktails along the way.  From round one,  I was proud to present the Hexa, a cocktail that combines the flavors from my terroir in San Francisco, and represents my desire to go to Brasil and be a part of the Maison Leblon World Cup Team.  For round two, I present the "Joga Bonito," a cocktail that encompasses everything wonderful about the game of futebol, the complex and unique flavors of all Leblon products, embodies the spirit of Brasil and embraces the mantra: "Be Brasilan, Be Leblon."

Joga Bonito:
Ingredients you will need:

Leblon Cachaça
Leblon Reserva Especial
Cedilla Açaí Liqueur
Passion Fruits (Maracuja)
Turbinado Sugar
Starfruit (Carambola)
Rosemary Sprigs (Alecrim)
Cinnamon Sticks (Canela)
Cloves (Cravo)
Sphere Shaped (Tovolo or 2.5" sphere cube equivalent) Ice Cubes


Double Old Fashioned 11 oz


Preferably (but not necessary if not available) shaken with Kold Draft Ice
Use Tovolo Mold Sphere Ice Cube for Presentation if available

Joga Bonito

1 oz Leblon Cachaça
1 oz Leblon Reserva Especial
1 oz Passion Fruit and Cinnamon (Maracuja e Canela) Reduction*
1/2 oz Cedilla Açaí Liqueur
Clove and Rosemary Studded Starfruit Slice**

Combine all ingredients minus Cedilla in a mixing glass, add ice, seal and shake vigorously to the rhythm of a samba beat for eight seconds.  Strain over a large sphere shaped ice cube in a double rocks glass.  Carefully take the Cedilla Açaí Liqueur and drizzle over the back of a barspoon, creating a cascade effect (por-do-sol).  Attach garish to rim of glass.  Feel free to add  flexible straw if desired.

Preferable Background Music:
While preparing:

Aline Calixto & Serjão Loroza, "Praia e Sol (Maracanã, Futebol)

Marcelo D2, "1967" or latter selections from Leblon HOTBAB Spotify Playlist

While Drinking:

Gonzaguinha, "O Que E O Que E?" 

Samba de Raiz, "Coração Em Desalinho"

Take a sip, indulge and imagine the Seleção playing with a lead in the 90th minute of the final match of the 2014 World Cup, sit back, enjoy,  but most importantly Live, Love, Leblon and Joga Bonito!

*Passion Fruit Reduction Preparation:

First, cut open two Passion Fruits and scoop out contents into a blender.  Blend for 1 minute.  Fine strain to remove pulp and seeds.

Measure amount of Passion Fruit Purée and put in sauce pan on low heat.  Slowly add half amount of Turbinado (for example 4 oz Passion Fruit Purée to 2 oz Sugar) to pan and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Grate a fine amount of cinnamon (about the amount of a pinch) into reduction, only about 3-4 seconds worth, just to get the essence of the cinnamon and not over power. Do not let reduction boil.  Keep stirring for 1 minute after sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Store in a squeeze bottle (refrigerated can last up to 4 days) for easy use in cocktail preparation.

**Garnish Preparation:

Clove Studded Starfruit with Rosemary Sprig (Note: Photo is of Persimmon due to seasonal availability in San Francisco)

Carefully remove outer, extreme edge (brownish and firm part of pointed part) of Starfruit and slice into .5 cm wide star shaped pieces.  Carefully remove and seeds with knife if necessary.  For each star shaped piece, add five cloves, one to each point of the star.  Depending on the size of the Starfruit, you may want to use a larger piece towards the middle better to hold the cloves in place.  Then, place a small sprig (less than 1 cm in length) of rosemary through the center of the star.  Cut a tiny sliver on one of the inside points of the star shaped garnish, big enough so it will sit on the rim of glass, but not too deep as to break apart or invade cloves and/or rosemary.  Prepare as many as needed and place on separate plate for easy access to garnish on rim of glass once cocktail is prepared.  Attach to side of glass. 

Joga Bonito Embodies the "Espiritú do Brasil:"
Using both Leblon Velhada and Leblon Cachaça represents the duality of modern and new cultures in Brasil, older styles of play and new techniques, history and innovation, and most importantly the the wonderful fact the old and young people alike will stop whatever they are doing to watch the game.  Passionfruit, or Maracuja, is one of the most delicious fruits in Brasil, and represents not only the passion for the game, from not just Brasilians, but myself, and the world, for the sport of futebol.  However, the passion doesn't stop there: Brasilians have passion in everything they do in their culture from music, to flirting or namorando, going to the beach, festivities and festivals like Carnaval or São João, talking, drinking and dancing.  Brasil is all about passion, taste it in the cocktail.  The Cedilla Açaí Liqueur not only represents the Amazon region and the lush rainforest, but also the "beleza natural" of the country and tropical vibe, laid back lifestyle and commitment to health Brasilians embody.  The Starfruit or "Carambola" garnish represents the title, the glory, and the quest to be the best.  The 5 cloves represent the people of Brasil and the previous championships.  If Brasil wins, it will be their unprecedented sixth championship (Hexa Campeão) and everyone will add another star to their jersey!  Cravo is also there with Canela representing the rich and complex history, and prominent literature movements such as Brasilian Modernism, with Jorge Amado's timeless novel, Gabriela, Cravo e Canela.  The Rosemary (Alecrim) adds the "verde" to the Carambola which delivers savory element to the cocktail and represents the flag's motto: "Ordem e Progresso."  The Joga Bonito is served in a double rocks glass on a large sphere ice cube, representing not only a soccer ball, the blue in the Brasilian flag, unity and tranquilidade as the Cedilla creates a cascading sunset in the glass.  The Joga Bonita represents not only Brasil, but the world we live in--this is the World Cup after all, so the Joga Bonito is the World in a Cup!  Enjoy responsibly, but always Live Love, Leblon, and Joga Bonito, e nos vemos no Brasil!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Quick Rant: This Government Shutdown Thing Really Irks Me

I don't care so much about normal "non-essential" Government employees getting paid, I hope they do get paid if this thing reaches a swift and reasonable solution!  But the rich law makers who can actually pull this off are definitely getting paid, and don't need it!!!! Seriously, Wake Up People! Can we make our voices heard in real life?  Or, have we furloughed ourselves from rational thought amongst what we believe Government is?!

This is ALLEGEDLY, "A government of the People, by the People and for the People..."

We are the people! So stop reading this and go be people!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trent Simpson's "Rumo ao Hexa" Distilaria Maison Leblon 2014 World Cup Cocktail Competition Tryout

I love Brasil, I love futebol, I love to bartend and I love Cachaça and Caipirinhas.  Here is my "Creative Entry" or Audição for the Maison Leblon 2014 World Cup Bartender Team.  If I win, I will be part of 11 bartenders that will go to Brasil to represent team Leblon during the 2014 World Cup in Brasil!

My Official Entry, "Rumo ao Hexa"

Leblon Cachaça Contest Video:

I hope to see you in Brasil for the 2014 World Cup, where I'll be shaking it up behind the bar!!!!



Monday, April 01, 2013


With hashtags and social media rampant its hard to compose a full sentence these days. I remember when I started blogging and my grandfather, a notable writer, professor, journalist and "Self-Styled Liberal" couldn't quite fathom the 'uncanny' nature of an unedited piece of written garbage. "You can just post whatever you want."  I told him, and I loved the idea, an ardent writing instructor, he wasn't amused by my lack of virtue and respect for the written word.

So I took some time off.  And I still haven't edited.   I would like to, but more importantly I would like to write, again. Inspired by the man who mentored me my whole life, its time to write again in that same old blog non-sense he hated.  Writing is alive, we use it in the present context, does that still count for blog posts?

What inspires someone to write something more than witty hashtags and photos uploaded onto a stream-matrix of smartphone frenzy? For me it is life.  Recently, I took the train home on my hiatus between quitting two jobs to start a new one. Yep, I spent 32 hours from Emeryville to Denver on Amtrak. I was curious who rode trains. People from all walks of life ride trains. Some for the scenery, some because they have the time, some to get to a certain place at the right time, etc. Alas, the characters on trains and the conversations can fill pages of empty blogs, and I shall write those, in due time. Train rides aside, I spent some time in my childhood room that my mother has now converted into a pretty sweet 'hotel-esque' suite. Yep, my childhood room transformed, boxes and books that made the cut, set out on bookshelves. A history of our family, photo albums and yearbooks coupled with a sense of modern comfort (I think she could do quite well on Airbnb.com if she listed it). There were many things that I had to keep and many things to throw away, and little I could take back to my one bedroom apartment in San Francisco. However, two things caught my eye that I pilfered for the time being, one of them being,




MUSINGS of     

J. Bell


I have only begun to read these literary tipples and have already found two anecdotes that I am proclaiming social network worthy.  We shall get to the point:

Believe it or not, there was a time when people stood up for something, wrote about it and it got published.  In my Gradfather's (J. Bell) article, "Getting in the ol' liberal mood again," he comments on the state of politics in Orange County post-communism, "There were no grays, and people didn't have to think." He writes, "We had suddenly been deprived of our Devil. But Americans are resourceful, and Orange Countians are especially resourceful.  We came up with new devils.
  Homosexuality and aborton."

Now, the nature of my blog article hinges on a photocopied piece of paper inserted into the flap of J. Bell's "Musings." On a page entitled "readers respond" (Yes, no capitals)a man by the name of B. Wilson writes, 

"I have a comment this morning about the writing of Joseph Bell.  
    He supposedly is touted as an award-winning journalist and longtime UCI writing instructor. He begins sentences with "and" and "but."  His punctuation and grammar are very poor.
    An example, there's a sentence in his article this morning, "Homosexuality and abortion." 
That is not a complete sentence.  Please instruct him to use correct grammar and set a good example for your readers."

This guy wants the newspaper to instruct the instructor.  Just a thought Mr. Wilson, my Grandfather's "sentence" in his article, you know the one, "Homosexuality and abortion," is actually a paragraph. 

So put that in your literary pipe and smoke it.  Yes, its true, my grandfather has been instructing the written word  at UCI for many years, and for better or for worse he has been instructing me my whole life. Mr. Bell wrote a column many years as well and I am excited I can look into his work, his "MORDANT, MISCHIEVOUS and SOMETIMES METAPHYSICAL MUSISINGS."  The newspaper doesn't capitalize his name and he does start sentences with "and" and "but."  But, he doesn't teach it, in fact, he probably shakes his head if he were to see it.  But, I don't care.  My grandfather once wrote a whole paragraph in three words, "Homosexuality and abortion."

I remember my grandfather always wrote in Courier.  And, by the looks of it, he attempted to print it as well...