Sunday, February 25, 2018

An Abundant Life - Shaken, Not Stirred

James Bond had his favorite cocktail, the vodka Martini, and the famous way he always ordered it was "Shaken and not stirred." I once heard someone questioning the possible reasons behind his choice of having his drink shaken, in a sort of off the cuff dissertation on the fact that shaking can bruise the alcohol and that stirring keeps it somehow cleaner and less diluted. Whoever that was, and I can't remember now, had never met the phenomenal Hector, the Mixologist Extraordinaire at The Shepherd & The Knucklehead in Hoboken.

I first met Hector when I was going on my Misunderstood Whiskey adventure that I've written about in these pages before. Several Mixologists in Hoboken were making specialty cocktails with Misunderstood Whiskey, and after asking for a list of them from the makers of that wonderful ginger spiced specialty, I visited them all and had an opportunity to get to know some of the finest Bartenders and Mixologists in the business. Hector created so many wonderful cocktails for me the first afternoon that I met him and he made them with such flair and style combined with knowledge and expertise that I asked him if I could write a focus about him at a later date. We met again for a taste of the fall cocktail menu, and as I also wanted to write about the high quality of the food available at The Shepherd & The Knucklehead, or the Shep as it is called by those who know and love it, we made another date for me to try some of the delights the kitchen has to offer. With Chefs Joe and Alejandro creating beautifully and deliciously in the kitchen, the combination of a large and full selection of wonderful beers on tap along with Hector's craft cocktails and impeccable palate makes for a visit that is always a special one. Adding to the enjoyment is an environment that is great if you're a sports fan or if you just want to stop by for a fun afternoon or evening with friends or alone. It's a neighborhood place that makes everyone feel welcome.

When Hector makes a drink it is a beautiful thing to watch. A full production of selecting and perfectly pouring, singeing garnishes and flaming and crushing and muddling. All of this is taking place after he has done a prodigious amount of homework and research - he's always working on new ways of trying new combinations and when he discovers a new flavor or type of liqueur, he experiments and adjusts like the highest level gourmet Chef to find the perfect method and blend that will bring the best of the beverage to light. And of course there is that shaking going on that in Hector's hands doesn't bruise or dilute but brings the cocktails to a perfectly rounded fullness. He also stirs if that's what he feels the cocktail calls for - it's in the hands and the style, and that's all I can say about it - go watch him for yourself and after the first sip you'll understand what I mean.

Hector Creating Magic
At The Shepherd & The Knucklehead
1313 Willow Avenue
Hoboken, New Jersey

A Gorgeous Fall Line-Up

Leading Us Beautifully Into Spring

Who Else Would Think Of Making Ice Cubes
From Violet Liqueur?

Or Name A Cocktail
"The Blue Man Group"?

A Handmade Specialty Shrub
For Mixing Into Cocktails
Or Simply Delicious
As A Refresher With Soda Over Ice

Seared Tuna With Black Sesame Seeds
And A Luscious Grape And Green Onion Sauce

A Perfectly Delicious And Beautiful Burger

Always Perfect
Even After An Unexpected Late Night Shift


Jannie Susan