A few months ago I came across The Boys Club, not sure how but I was immediately taken with it. Their affection for good cocktails, for food and overall love of gathering people together through food and drinks, pulls you right in. And the warmth and friendliness that you feel with each post, whether it’s a recipe for The Bourbon Bomber or giving you the ‘The History of Sazerac’ is like when you walk into a new house and the host makes you feel right at home. So for our new series, We are Creators, I knew I wanted to interview The Boys Club editor-in-cheif Russell Van Kraayenburg, thankfully he agreed.
How did The Boys’ Club start and what is your role?
I’ve always enjoyed mixing drinks for friends and family and the storytelling process surrounding cocktails can be very different from food. I knew I wanted to explore cocktails outside of my first blog, Chasing Delicious, but I also knew I wanted the site to be more than just my exploration in to cocktails. I asked some of my favorite bloggers to join the team and from there it grew into The Boys Club.
What is your connection to the world of cocktails?
My connection to cocktails is really nothing more than an avocation. Aside from reading a ton of recipe books and technical manuals on bar tending, I’m quite the novice. I guess you could say I just really enjoy a good cocktail.
When did you realize that cocktails and food play a big part in your life? What are your fondest memories that involve drinking and eating and/or creating drinks and food?
It started in college. It didn’t take long for lunches, dinners, get together and parties to always somehow end up at my place – I should have known that would have happened when even at friend’s places or bars, I was asked to make drinks. From there it spiraled into me wanting to share my love of food and drinks with everyone.
What stories and recipes on The Boys’ Club have resonated with you the most?
I’m a huge fan of Brian’s History of Cocktails series. I am a big nerd when it comes to histories and random facts, and learning about the strange or twisted tale behind a well known cocktail can be quite fun.
I also love seeing spiciness thrown into a drink. I did it with my Thai Bomber Martini. Alex did it with his Prickly Pear Moscow Mule. It’s great to see an uncommon flavor or sensation added to a drink.
When anyone talks about drinking, eating, cooking – we almost always think about how it being together. What is your favorite way to bring people together through drinking and eating?
I love to invite friends and family to participate with the preparation, cooking and mixing. Half the time, everyone is in the kitchen anyways. Getting people in on the work can be both fun and informative for them. Not only will they learn something new about what they’re making, but there’s a good chance you’ll learn something about them too.
What is your current go-to drink? What’s in it?
Right now my go-to drink is a whisky sour, or more specifically a bourbon sour. I am quite obsessed with bourbon. That and I like the lip-puckering sourness you get from the sour-family of drinks. I find it adds a fun twist on what is otherwise boring drink.
Of course, I won’t turn down a classic martini either.
Can you recommend drinks that we should try to make our guests this holiday season?
I think everyone should make egg nog. It’s a classic – one that’s been around for hundreds of years no less – and it’s scrumptious, especially when you kick it up a notch. I also think spiked hot cocoa is great. It’s as easy as adding a little tequila to your hot cocoa. Sprinkling some cayenne or chili powder into the drink also gives it a nice spicy kick. I also love a good Hot Toddy.
Spicy Spiked Hot Cocoa
Yield: 1 cocktail
Serve in: large mug
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 ounce tequila
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1. Whip the 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks. Set aside in the fridge.
2. Add the milk and cream to a pot. Heat over medium heat until scalded.
3. Remove from the heat and stir the dark chocolate into the milk and cream until melted .
4. Add the tequila and spices. Stir until mixed.
5. Pour the hot cocoa into a mug. Top with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon and cayenne.
What are some essentials to stock our home bar with? What are some unexpected ingredients that we should also have?
In addition to a good collection of liquors and liqueurs – I like to always have at least 1 bottle of each of the major liquors (whisky, gin, brandy, vodka, rum and tequila) plus a few important liqueurs or mixers (orange, cherry and vermouth are my favorites) you should be sure not to overlook a good bitters or two.
Simple syrup has a crazy long shelf life and making it from scratch is easy too so I definitely suggest keeping a big bottle of that around as well.
As for the tools, all you really need is a Boston shaker and a long spoon, plus a few glasses of course.
The Boys’ Club is on pinterest, what are some sources of inspiration for you?
It might be easier to say where I don’t find inspiration. I am constantly looking for new ideas, inspiration for flavor combinations, twists on classic recipes, etc. I’m a sucker for a good blog or online magazine, particularly one that has a faint or even missing focus – I find the scatterbrained approach to sharing ideas quite entertaining and inspiring.
What’s in the future for The Boys’ Club?
I’d love to bring one some more guys so we can start talking about style and design in addition to sharing some great cocktails. And as always, I’m hoping to get our readers in on the discussion as much as possible. We’ve recently rebranded our twitter account to @thecocktailguys where we plan to share quick recipes, mixology tips and tricks, random facts and a whole swath of non-cocktail things!