baleen kitchen in redondo beach

Photo by Gloria Plascencia
We recently visited the waterfront Baleen Kitchen in Redondo to check out their new menu. Fresh, holiday libations started off the evening! This is the Anti-Oxident Mojito with Appleton Rum, Pomegranate juice, muddled blackberry, raspberry and mint. Cheers!

Mezcalero - Mezcal, Aperol and strawberries.
Photo by Wade Hammond
Mezcalero – Mezcal, Aperol and strawberries.

Photo by Wade Hammond
As a starter we all shared the decadent Duck Carnitas served with slaw and crepes. We had them earlier in the year and have been dreaming of them ever since. They are perfect for the holidays or any other time. I freakin love these things!

Photo by Wade Hammond
The First Course was the Baleen Garden and was delicious. It was baby beets, farrow, tomato, quinoa, avocado, pea shoots, almonds with a soft lime vinaigrette. The texture of the farro, quinoa and almonds made this salad very unique. I would love to eat that for lunch everyday!

Photo by Wade Hammond
The Second Course was a gorgeous Crab Salad full of avocado, haricot vert, and lollo rossa. They use both soft-shell crab and fresh Dungeness for this dish.

Photo by Wade Hammond
The Third Course of Roasted Black Sea Bass with roasted mushrooms and sweet potatoes in a fabulous aromatic broth was mind blowingly good!

Photo by Wade Hammond
Last but certainly not least, server Alain Inoue presented our Fourth Course – the GIANT “Tommy Hawk” Ribeye!

tommy-46Photo by Wade Hammond
The Tommy Hawk ribeye was quite impressive, tender, delicious and oh yeah – huge!

Photo by Gloria Plascencia
As you can see, a fun night was had by all! Book your upcoming holiday celebration at Baleen Kitchen or stop in for happy hour with snacks and cocktails!

Baleen Kitchen is located in beautiful Redondo Beach, CA at The Portofino Hotel right on the harbor at 260 Portofino Way. (310) 372-1202

Christmas Day they will have their famous À La Carte Brunch and “Build Your Own” Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar from 6:30am-1:00pm. Then a 3-Course Dinner from 1:00pm-10:00pm adults $59 with wine pairing $70/$22 kids.

NYE They will have a fabulous 5-Course Dinner from 5:00pm-11:00pm for $85pp with wine pairing $110.

irish cream posset

Not your usual Irish Cream!

Not your usual Irish Cream!

As a bartender (and I think most bartenders would agree), I’ve never been a huge fan of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Sure, it’s ok in coffee or a milkshake but it’s never something special that I would even think of stocking in my home bar. In fact, the process used to manufacture Bailey’s is just as contrived as the fictional signature on the bottle: R.A. Bailey. The product wasn’t released until 1974 and served to solve the “problem” requiring a bartender to actually mix fresh, good, quality ingredients together in a mixing tin. In other words, Bailey’s is merely a time saver.

It wasn’t until I began learning about possets and we made the original recipe for an Irish Cream Posset, that I understood what was sacrificed by creating processed versions of this classic for reasons of convenience and marketability. If you want to really impress your guests with an after dinner drink or simply experience something great that most bars don’t provide, try mixing your own Irish Cream Posset! It’s not hard or even time consuming and the reward far exceeds on-the-shelf products. I’m guessing it will change your opinion about this classic as it did my own. Let me know what you think.


In a mixing tin (shaker) goes:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce organic heavy cream
1 teaspoon fine white sugar
2 ounces Irish malt or pot-stilled whiskey  *I used Powers

Fill the shaker with ice, seal and shake vigorously to mix, chill, dilute and aerate. Strain into a goblet and finely grate fresh nutmeg on top. You won’t believe how good this is! Cheers!

*Powers Irish Whiskey, unlike Jameson or Bushmills, uses 70% pot-stilled whiskey in their gold label, yielding a much more complex and true expression of the malt even though it is still a blend.

roasted autumn salad

Roasted beet and butternut squash salad with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.

Roasted beet and butternut squash salad with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.

Need an idea for the holidays or a fall season dish? When I think of Autumn, like most people, I think of the changing colors of foliage. At the farmer’s market, I noticed an abundance of large squashes, root vegetables and gourds. Most of the these things seem to marry well too. Here’s a simple recipe for a Roasted Autumn Salad you can make ahead and serve at Thanksgiving or enjoy throughout the weeks to come.

Roasted Autumn Salad

2 medium beets
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 small pomegranate
1 small package of goat cheese
Fresh thyme
small package of baby kale or arugula
olive oil
pomegranate vinegar

Roasting beets couldn't be more simple.

Roasting beets couldn’t be more simple.

While the oven is preheating to 400° remove the skin from the beets and butternut squash and cut into bite-size pieces. Place the beets in an ovenproof dish, toss with oil, a pinch of salt, pepper and few sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover with foil. Do the same with the squash, only, place them on a baking sheet and do not cover. Roast the beets for 45 minutes, remove and place in the fridge. Roast the squash for 30 minutes and toss occasionally until slightly golden and soft. Place in a container in the fridge. When your ready to serve, arrange all of the ingredients on salad plated except for the goat cheese, olive oil and vinegar. Finally, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and sprinkle with goat cheese. Enjoy!


bacardi legacy cocktail competition

Bacardi rum daiquiri.

Bacardi rum daiquiri. Photos by Wade Hammond and Deniz Durmus

I had a great time with my friend Deniz at Monday evening’s Los Angeles regional BACARDI Legacy Cocktail Competition held at No Vacancy in Hollywood. Such a cool event space with a fun secret entrance! There were a wide array of drinks presented such as Possets, punches and cocktails all made with Bacardi rum of course. Here are some highlights from the evening as well as some recipes to consider.

Mixologist Kalani Ben along with the other contestants had 9 minutes to share their story and present their entry.

Mixologist Kalani Ben along with the other contestants had 9 minutes to share their story and present their entry.

San Francisco’s Andrew Meltzer, Jessica Sanders of Austin, TX, and Chicago based bartender, Kalani Ben were awarded a spot in the national finals. Sanders, Ben and Meltzer will join regional winners from the Portland Cocktail Week and in New York competitions at the U.S. finals in Miami, Florida, next February. They will compete for a chance to present their “legacy cocktail” at the BACARDÍ Legacy Global Cocktail Competition in Sydney, Australia, in May of 2015.

One of my favorite drinks of the evening was a clarified-milk posset which was handed to me in a small bottle along with a glass of ice with citrus zest.

One of my favorite drinks of the evening was a clarified-milk posset which was handed to me in a small bottle along with a glass of ice with citrus zest. Premixed drinks can be a gooood thing…

Bacardi rum daisy.

Bacardi rum daisy.

"El Presidente" and "Gauyaba Arabica" with freshly grated Arabica beans on top.

“El Presidente” and “Gauyaba Arabica” with freshly grated Arabica beans on top.

Award Winning Cocktail Recipes:
Jessica Sander of Austin, TX –  LA GRANDIFLORA


  • 1 ½ parts of BACARDÍ Superior
  • ¾ part of Hibiscus Puree (Perfect Puree)
  • ½ part Miele Amaro (Bitter Honey) Syrup
  • ½ part Martini Gran Lusso Vermouth
  • ½ part Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3 drops of Almond Extract


  • Ingredients are combined in a cocktail tin with ice and shaken until chilled and properly diluted.
  • The cocktail is fine strained into chilled cocktail coupes and then garnished with a thin lime wheel that has been pierced with a dried hibiscus flower and a sprig of fresh tarragon.

Kalani Ben from Chicago, IL – FAMILY TIES


  • 1 ½ parts of BACARDÍ Superior
  • 1 part Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • ¾ part Clove Syrup
  • ½  part Luxardo Amaro Abano


  • Using a hand juicer/press, squeeze 1 part of lime juice and add it to your shaker along with one half of the already juiced lime shell.
  • Then add all other ingredients to your shaker.
  • Add ice, shake vigorously, and double strain into your coupe.

Andrew Meltzer of San Francisco, CA – CUBAN COBBLER


  • 1 ½ parts BACARDÍ Gold
  • ¾ part Palo Cortado Shery
  • ½ part Pear Williams Liqueur
  • ½ part Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ¼ part Honey Simple


  • In a mixing glass or tin, combine BACARDÍ Gold rum, sherry, pear liqueur, lemon juice and honey syrup.
  • Add ice, shake, and strain over fresh ice into a chilled collins glass or large tumbler.
  • Insert a straw.
  • Garnish with a thin slice of pear on the inside of the glass and top with seasonal berries and mint sprigs.

cocktail water

cocktailwatersplashwmHaving fun photographing the process of making “cocktail water”. Cocktail water is simply sugar in cube form, 2 dashes of petite bitters and 1/4 pony (1/4 ounce) of water muddled together with the flat back end of a bar spoon. This is the basis for a great old-fashioned whiskey cocktail. This is how all old-fashioned cocktails were made at one time and they involved any spirit a patron would desire. It is not strictly a whiskey cocktail.

*Note – You don’t actually create aggressive splashes when combining these ingredients. I was simply trying to create some drama!