Eat Your Drink with Modern Mixologist Matthew Biancaniello
His book, Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails, explains why many call him a “liquid chef”.
“Liquid chef” is a term that many hospitality gurus have bantered around when speaking of the award-winning Matthew Biancaniello, who just might have coined the phrase “culinary cocktails.” The wizard behind the glass in a dapper red fedora started his career at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in a dark little side bar with 35 seats. That previously overlooked pit stop would become, under Biancaniello’s “farm to glass” concept, one of the hottest spots in the country, The Library Bar.
Thanks to his Greek and Italian grandparents, the budding bartender grew up with fresh vegetables from the garden and weekly trips with his father to Wilson Farm in Lexington, Massachusetts, to stock up on more veggies and fruits. “So, it seemed like a natural thing for me to go out and find as many local ingredients as I could,” he says. That weekly farmers market passion quickly translated to the Wednesday market in Santa Monica—a haven for top chefs—after the bar chef moved to California. “In my opinion it’s the greatest market in the world,” he states, and Biancaniello’s road to self-taught talent was paved with the exotic goods he would discover each week from the farmers’ bounty. Currently, he hits about five different markets a week to source ingredients for his famous heirloom tomato mojitos, along with growing his own Cuban oregano and passion fruit at The Cook’s Garden by HGEL in Venice by the beach. He has also formed a bee colony to produce honey for his libations.
If you are looking for a simple gin and tonic, this is not your book. If your taste buds aim to soar with layered, complex degustation-style drinks and ingredients that spark imagination, then you should covet this book like a bible for gastronomy in a glass. Biancaniello can also pair his cocktails with every type of cuisine and ingredient from cacao nibs to uni, while working with an array of organizations around the globe from Sunkist to Sofitel, the Almond Board, and Airbnb.
As the book spans from amuse-bouche to dessert, and all the courses in between, this just might be the closest thing you can find to a cutting-edge meal in a glass that is not part of a juicing trend. The contents are packed with creative culinary cocktails owning a distinct name, look, smell, and taste that might just transport you to another place. What Biancaniello likes to hear most from his customers is not that “this is the best drink you’ve ever had but that you’ve never had anything like it before.” We think this recipe for stuffed cherry tomatoes with caramel sauce and tequila fits that bill perfectly.